Skip to content

Legislative Bulletin — Friday, March 1, 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 POLICY THIS WEEK
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
GOVERNMENT REPORTS
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

DEVELOPMENTS IN IMMIGRATION POLICY 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

President Biden and Former President Trump Visit the U.S.-Mexico Border

On February 29, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump traveled to the southern border in separate trips to discuss immigration – one of the main political priorities among Americans, according to recent polls. Biden visited Brownsville, Texas, and Trump went to Eagle Pass, Texas.

President Biden met with Border Patrol agents, law enforcement officers, and local leaders. He also called on Congress to pass the bipartisan deal on immigration and border policy changes that the Senate rejected three weeks ago. That deal included significant changes to border security in the United States, such as a new expulsion authority at the U.S.-Mexico border and provisions to heighten the standard for people to qualify for asylum.

Former President Trump met with Texas Governor Greg Abbott and other state officials. In his remarks, Trump argued that the U.S. is “being overrun by the Biden migrant crime” and used as an example the murder of the University of Georgia nursing student last week, where the main suspect is an immigrant.

The tragic incident sparked reactions from elected officials, thought leaders, and advocacy groups nationwide. While expressing deep condolences for the murder of the student and calling for the perpetrator to be brought to justice, Jennie Murray, President and CEO of the National Immigration Forum, called on elected officials and candidates to avoid using “this heartbreaking case for political ends or to generate fear.” In the statement, the National Immigration Forum highlighted that “research has demonstrated repeatedly over the years that immigrants are less prone to criminal behavior than people born in the U.S.”

Notably, the trip to the U.S.-Mexico border occurred only two weeks after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced a 42% decrease in border encounters in January compared to December.

Ukrainian Parolees in the US Can Apply for Re-Parole

On February 27, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that Ukrainian citizens who were paroled into the United States after February 11, 2022, can apply for re-parole. The parole program will allow Ukrainians forcibly displaced by Russia’s invasion to continue living and working legally stateside.

Many of the Ukrainian parolees who are eligible for re-parole came to the U.S. through the program called Uniting for Ukraine. Since the program’s inception in April 2022, around 170,000 Ukrainians have been granted parole for up to two years.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are currently 6.5 million refugees from Ukraine who have sought refuge globally, while some 3.7 million people remain forcibly displaced inside the country. In addition, around 40% of the Ukrainian population needs humanitarian and protection support.

Percentage of Foreign-Born Workers in the US Labor Force Continues Growing

Recent statistics published by the U.S. Department of Labor show that 19% of workers in the United States are foreign-born. That number represents almost a 2% increase from 17.3% when President Biden took office.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that increase will allow the U.S. economy to grow by about $7 trillion over the next decade. In addition, according to the Federal Reserve Chair, Jerome Powell, the increase of migrants in the workforce has helped to reduce inflation in recent months.

According to a February 27 report from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the strict immigration policies enacted between 2017 and 2022 tightened the labor market. The report found that the rebound of immigration in the United States for the last two years helped alleviate a shortage of workers.

Biden Administration Hosts Trilateral Migration Ministerial Meeting with Guatemala and Mexico

On February 28, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas met with their Guatemalan and Mexican counterparts in Washington, D.C. for a trilateral meeting on migration.

Following the meeting, the three delegations issued a joint statement addressing various focal points for trilateral cooperation, including strategies to tackle root causes of irregular migration, regional development, border enforcement, and labor mobility pathways. The three countries also agreed to share information on migration flows and to combat human trafficking.

In advance of this meeting, the Mexican government published data regarding the economic impact of Mexican nationals in the U.S. According to the Mexican government, 37.3 million Mexican nationals live in the U.S., including 26.7 million second- and third-generation Mexicans, 10.6 million born in Mexico, and around 5.3 million unauthorized migrants. Mexicans contribute $324 billion in taxes every year, and most live in California (36%) and Texas (22%). Notably, seven out of ten farmworkers in the U.S. are Mexican nationals. In addition, Mexican nationals in the U.S. pay, on average, $1.38 for every dollar the U.S. government spends on social benefits. Finally, the report highlighted that Mexican nationals in the U.S. send 18.5% of their earnings as remittances to Mexico ($63.3 billion) while spending 81.5% of their earnings in the U.S. ($265 billion).

Congress Reaches Bipartisan Deal to Avoid Government Shutdown; No Immigration Provisions Included

On February 29, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate passed a bipartisan bill to avoid a government shutdown. The bill – which does not include immigration provisions – will fund the government until March 22 to give lawmakers more time to pass full-year appropriations bills. In the House, the bill passed with a 320 to 99 vote, with 97 Republicans voting against. In the Senate, the bill passed with a 77 to 13 vote. Now, the bill is cleared for President Joe Biden’s signature.

Legal

Federal Court Blocks Texas’s SB 4

On February 29, The US District Court for the Western District of Texas granted a motion for preliminary injunction to block Texas’s SB 4, a bill that would allow state officials to apprehend and effectively remove migrants and asylum seekers who cross without authorization.

The court highlighted that states may not exercise immigration enforcement power except as authorized by the federal government. In addition, the court found that SB 4 conflicts with key provisions of federal immigration law, to the detriment of the United States’ foreign relations and treaty obligations. Moreover, the court argued that surges in immigration do not constitute an “invasion” within the meaning of the Constitution.

The court’s decision will temporarily block the law from going into effect as the case is litigated. Without an injunction, the law would have gone into effect on March 5, 2024.

Texas appealed the ruling before the Fifth Circuit on February 29.

State and Local

NYC Mayor Adams Calls for Change to Sanctuary City Laws

On February 27, Mayor Eric Adams expressed his desire to change the sanctuary city laws in New York City. Sanctuary jurisdictions are those which limit state and local officials’ involvement in federal immigration enforcement functions, with myriad exceptions for more serious, violent crimes. Some immigration advocates and law enforcement officials have argued that requiring local law enforcement to conduct federal immigration enforcement functions can undermine public trust in local law enforcement and make communities less safe.

Any changes to the city’s sanctuary laws would require the City Council’s cooperation, and according to a City Council spokesman, there are “no plans to revisit these laws.”

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.

S. 3808

A bill to prohibit deployment of Federal air marshals to the southern and northern borders of the United States

Sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) (0 cosponsors)

02/27/2024 Introduced in the Senate by Sen. Ted Cruz

02/27/2024 Referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

S. 3811

The Empowering Immigration Courts Act

This bill would give immigration judges authority to sanction anyone in immigration court for behavior constituting contempt of their authority, as defined by federal law.

Sponsored by Sen. John N. Kennedy (R-Louisiana) (2 cosponsors – 2 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

02/27/2024 Introduced in the Senate by Sen. John N. Kennedy

02/27/2024 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 7415

The “Detain Illegals until Repatriated or Expelled” (DIRE) Act

This bill would appropriate federal funds to reimburse states for detaining noncitizens without permission to be in the U.S. or those who cannot verify their immigration status.

Sponsored by Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) (0 cosponsors)

02/20/2024 Introduced in the House by Rep. Tony Gonzales

02/20/2024 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 7456

The First Responders Emergency Assistance Act

This bill would provide grants to first responders in areas with increased migration pressure, especially those at the southwest border.

Sponsored by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona) (0 cosponsors)

02/26/2024 Introduced in the House by Rep. Ruben Gallego

02/26/2024 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 7475

To require the GAO to conduct a study detailing the total cost of unused construction materials that were obtained for the construction of a border wall along the United States-Mexico border

Sponsored by Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas) (0 cosponsors)

02/28/2024 Introduced in the House by Rep. Beth Van Duyne

02/28/2024 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate is expected to be in session from Tuesday, March 5, through Friday, March 8, 2024.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to be in session from Tuesday, March 5, through Friday, March 8, 2024.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

There are no immigration-related hearings scheduled for the week of March 4, 2024.

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.

There were no immigration-related government reports the week of February 26, 2024.

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:

Environmental Migration: Finding Solutions for the 21st Century

This paper explores environmental migration as a potential method of adaptation. First, it analyzes environmental migration as a phenomenon, focused on some of the nuances that make weather- and climate-related forces complicated yet influential factors in the decision to move. Then, it considers existing international mechanisms and U.S. laws that could potentially relate to environmental migration. It briefly discusses how immigrant and diasporic communities are especially vulnerable to environmental harms, even after they have already migrated. Finally, it concludes with policy recommendations on how the U.S. (and other countries) could effectively respond to environmental migration in the 21st century.

Explainer: What Are Safe Mobility Offices?

Read this explainer for information about what we know so far on how SMOs are being implemented in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Colombia, and who may qualify to participate.

Still More Room to Grow: Immigrants Can Reverse the U.S. Population Decline and its Economic Consequences

In 2024, the United States continues to face significant demographic challenges. Propelled by falling birth rates, the U.S. population is rapidly aging and population growth is steadily declining. In turn, the country is experiencing economic and social pressures caused by labor shortages. This article provides a follow-up to “Room to Grow,” a 2021 white paper where the National Immigration Forum proposed a methodology that showed that the country needed a 37% increase in net immigration levels over those projected for fiscal year 2020 (approximately 370,000 additional immigrants a year) to prevent the U.S. from falling into demographic deficit and socioeconomic decline.

* * *

*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Arturo Castellanos-Canales, Policy and Advocacy Manager at the National Immigration Forum, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Arturo can be reached at acastellanos@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.

Learn More

Read more about Legislative Bulletin — Friday, April 12, 2024

Legislative Bulletin

Legislative Bulletin — Friday, April 12, 2024

Read more about Congress Should Focus on Practical Solutions, Not Impeach Mayorkas

Press Release

Congress Should Focus on Practical Solutions, Not Impeach Mayorkas

Read more about Legislative Bulletin — Friday, April 5, 2024

Legislative Bulletin

Legislative Bulletin — Friday, April 5, 2024