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Legislative Bulletin — Friday, June 7, 2024

Welcome to the National Immigration Forum’s weekly bulletin! Every Friday, our policy team rounds up key developments around immigration policy in Washington and across the country. The bulletin includes items on the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, as well as some coverage at the state and local levels. 

Here’s a breakdown of the bulletin’s sections:

DEVELOPMENTS IN IMMIGRATION THIS WEEK

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

DEVELOPMENTS IN IMMIGRATION THIS WEEK

Immigration policy is a dynamic field subject to constant change. Here, we summarize some of the most important recent developments in immigration policy on the federal, legal, state, and local levels. 

Content warning: This section sometimes includes events and information that can prove disturbing. 

Federal

Biden Administration Implements Proclamation, Interim Final Rule at Border

On June 4, the Biden administration released a presidential proclamation and related interim final rule significantly limiting access to the right to seek asylum at the U.S.’s southern border, unless migrant crossings substantially decline over a prolonged period. 

The proclamation implements a suspension of and limitation on entry for migrants and asylum seekers whenever the number of encounters hits 2,500 or more over a seven-day daily average. During these emergency procedures, most people are ineligible for asylum, with narrow exceptions, under the rule. And, if someone wants to claim protection in the U.S., they must affirmatively manifest their fear to be screened for lesser relief at a higher initial standard.

These new restrictions build off the administration’s “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways” rule from last year, which had already rendered many migrants ineligible for asylum but had operational capacity issues.

The proclamation’s suspension and limitation on entry would only lift 14 days after migrant encounters hit a seven-day daily average of  fewer than 1,500  — and only if the seven-day average stayed below 2,500. 

The proclamation and rule took effect Wednesday, June 5 at 12:01 a.m. EDT. The first deportations under the rule also occurred on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

Many of those who crossed in the early hours of the new policy’s implementation did not know about it. Others watched the news from near the U.S.-Mexico border as President Biden announced a shift that could influence their chances of requesting asylum. 

Gracia Cortez, a migrant from El Salvador, had waited two months in Mexico for one of the federal government’s CBP One appointments — which represent an exemption to the new bar on asylum eligibility. She said she hoped the change meant a simultaneous increase in appointments through the phone app, but no such increase has been announced thus far. 

Another Salvadoran, Esmeralda Castro, worried about how Biden’s proclamation could affect demand for a CBP One appointment, which she had personally been trying to secure for nine months. 

“Imagine what’s going to happen with what they’ve done. The system is going to collapse again,” she said. 

Sheinbaum Becomes First Woman President in Mexico, Receives Call from Biden 

On June 2, Mexico elected its first woman president, Claudia Sheinbaum, a PhD in energy engineering who later turned to a political career defined by her connection to the current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Within hours of her win, Sheinbaum received a congratulatory call from President Joe Biden, in what both elected officials called a “cordial” exchange. Sheinbaum has said she will foster a “good relationship” with the U.S. no matter who wins the American presidential election in November. 

Sheinbaum is largely expected to continue the migration policies of her predecessor, though some of her politics remain a mystery to many of her constituents and those trying to analyze her next moves. 

She will assume office in October

May 2024 Refugee Numbers Up

The U.S. resettled 7,477 refugees in May, an increase of 1,090 refugees from the 6,387 resettled in April 2024 — the lowest monthly arrival number this fiscal year. 

The eight-month total of refugee arrivals for FY 2024 is 62,537 refugees. If the U.S. were to resettle 7,477 refugees for the remaining four months of this fiscal year, it would welcome 92,445 refugees — far short of the 125,000 annual target.

But, with some concerted effort, over 100,000 refugees could arrive by the end of the fiscal year. That would be a major accomplishment, in that more than 100,000 arrivals have not been achieved for three decades, since 1994. 

State and Local

Arizona State Lawmakers Send Controversial Border Measure to November Ballot

On June 4, the Arizona state legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution 2060, which will now head to the ballot in November alongside the presidential race. 

Dubbed the Secure the Border Act, the bill would criminalize crossing north via the Arizona-Mexico border without authorization, allowing local law enforcement to detain and effectively deport those suspected of crossing anyway.  

HCR 2060 would also impose strict penalties for fentanyl dealers if a fatality occurred and criminalize unauthorized immigrants based on the information they provided for employment and benefits applications. 

Putting HCR 2060 to a vote among the Arizona public allowed GOP state legislators to avoid the veto of Gov. Katie Hobbs (D), who has criticized the bill because she argued it would harm businesses and potentially encourage racial profiling.

Opponents of the legislation, including business groups, religious leaders, immigrant activists, and Latino community leaders, have begun rallying against the measure. They argue that it resembles the infamous 2010 bill, S.B. 1070, known as the “show me your papers law,” which was partially struck down by the Supreme Court. 

Vermont Governor Signs Legislation for Lower In-State Tuition Regardless of Immigration Status 

On May 30, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signed into law a measure that would ensure all of his state’s residents have access to need-based financial aid and in-state tuition rates, regardless of immigration status. 

Lawmakers and the immigrant community praised the legislation because it will allow young people without immigration status who live in Vermont — many of whom could not afford higher education before — to continue their studies and pursue various professions.  

Scott also said the new law would help address Vermont’s aging population and declining workforce.

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

It can be challenging to keep up with the constant barrage of proposed legislation in Congress. So, every week, we round up new bills. This list includes federal legislative proposals that have recently been introduced and that are relevant to immigration policy.

Please follow this link to find new relevant bills, as well as proposed legislation from past weeks.

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Tuesday, June 11 through Friday, June 14, 2024.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Here, we round up congressional hearings and markups happening in the field or in Washington.  

Closed Business Meeting to Markup the Proposed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2025

Date: Wednesday, June 12, 2024 at 2:30 p.m. EDT (Senate Armed Services)

Location: 222 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Closed Business Meeting to Continue to Markup the Proposed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2025

Date: Thursday, June 13, 2024 at 9:30 a.m. EDT (Senate Armed Services)

Location: 222 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Destroying America’s Best Idea: Biden’s Border Crisis, Desecrating National Park Lands and Damaging Communities

Date: Thursday, June 13, 2024 at 10:15 a.m. EDT (House Natural Resources)

Location: 1334 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Witnesses: TBA

Closed Business Meeting to Continue to Markup the Proposed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2025

Date: Friday, June 14, 2024 at 9:30 a.m. EDT (Senate Armed Services)

Location: 222 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Reports by bodies such as the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Research Service, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General provide invaluable information on immigration policy and practice. Here, we give brief summaries of new immigration-related reports, with links to the resources themselves in case you want to learn more. 

DHS Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG); Evaluation of DHS’ Information Security Program for Fiscal Year 2023; Published June 4, 2024

This report explores the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) information security program for last fiscal year and finds that it is largely “effective.”

U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO); Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Justice; Publicly Released June 5, 2024

GAO has issued 15 priority recommendations for the Department of Justice, including recommendations involving how to combat illicit opioid use and fulfill workforce needs in the immigration courts. 

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

The Forum is constantly publishing new policy-focused resources that engage with some of the most topical issues around immigration today. Here are a few that are particularly relevant this week:

Q&A: The Biden Border Proclamation

This Q&A describes President Joe Biden’s proclamation and its impact, with an eye toward its legality and its effect on vulnerable populations.  

Bill Analysis: Immigration Visa Efficiency and Security Act of 2023

The Immigration Visa Efficiency and Security Act of 2023 (H.R.6542) is a bill that aims to facilitate and expand access to family- and employment-based visas in the United States.

Q&A: Birthright Citizenship

This Q&A explains the history of birthright citizenship and its significance in the United States. 

* * * 

*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Alexandra Villarreal, Senior Policy and Advocacy Associate at the National Immigration Forum, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Alexandra can be reached at avillarreal@immigrationforum.org. Thank you. 

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