BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
Child Labor Prevention Act
This bill would increase civil penalties and create criminal penalties for violations of child labor laws. The bill would also protect all working children under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In addition, the bill would index penalties to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.
Sponsored by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) (5 cosponsors — 0 Republicans, 5 Democrats)
03/02/2023 Introduced in the Senate by Sen. Brian Schatz
03/02/2023 Referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Stopping Border Surges Act
This bill would circumvent the Flores Settlement Agreement by allowing children to be detained with a parent throughout the parent’s immigration case. The bill would also make unaccompanied migrant children from non-contiguous countries subject to the same fast-tracked removals as children from Mexico and Canada. In addition, the bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services to give the Department of Homeland Security biographical information — including immigration status — on children’s sponsors, mandate that most asylum seekers apply for and be denied asylum elsewhere en route to the US, and restrict asylum to only those who arrive in the US via ports of entry, among other significant changes to the US’s immigration and asylum systems.
Sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) (11 cosponsors — 11 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
03/07/2023 Introduced in the Senate by Sen. Mike Lee
03/07/2023 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Border Safety and Security Act
This bill would require the Homeland Security secretary to suspend the entry of unauthorized immigrants during any period in which DHS cannot detain such individuals or place them in Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) or a similar program. The bill would also authorize state attorneys general to bring legal actions against DHS if the secretary does not follow through.
Sponsored by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) (4 cosponsors — 4 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
03/08/2023 Introduced in the Senate by Tommy Tuberville
03/08/2023 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Drug Cartel Terrorist Designation Act
This bill would designate the Reynosa/Los Metros faction of the Gulf Cartel, the Cartel del Noreste faction of Los Zetas, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, and the Sinaloa Cartel as foreign terrorist organizations. As a consequence, it would suspend and deny the issuance of any type of visas to any person associated with these groups.
Sponsored by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) (1 cosponsors — 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)
03/08/2023 Introduced in the Senate by Sen. Roger Marshall
03/08/2023 Referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Solving the Border Crisis Act
This bill would restart border wall construction. The bill would also make the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) permanent, extend the Title 42 policy for at least 120 days after the Covid-19 public health emergency ends, and make other significant changes to asylum and immigration policy.
Sponsored by Sen. James E. Risch (R-Idaho) (5 cosponsors — 5 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
03/08/2023 Introduced in the Senate by Sen. James E. Risch
03/08/2023 Referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Reverse Entry for Migrant Offenders and Violence Expulsion (REMOVE) Act
This bill would clarify kidnapping or sexual abuse convictions as inadmissibility and deportability grounds.
Sponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota) (3 cosponsors — 3 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
03/09/2023 Introduced in the Senate by Sen. John Thune
03/09/2023 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2023
This bill would authorize penalties for violating workers’ rights, facilitate initial collective bargaining agreements, strengthen support for those who might face retaliation, and keep employers from interfering with union elections, among other measures. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) introduced the Senate companion, S.567.
Sponsored by Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Virginia) (205 cosponsors — 1 Republican, 204 Democrats)
02/28/2023 Introduced in the House by Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott
02/28/2023 Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce
The Immigration and Enforcement Partnership Act of 2023
This bill would allow state attorneys general to force the Homeland Security Secretary to either enforce the Department of Homeland Security’s non-discretionary duties or authorize state officials to enforce federal immigration laws.
Sponsored by Rep. Bill Posey (R-Florida) (0 cosponsors)
03/03/2023 Introduced in the House by Rep. Bill Posey
03/03/2023 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
Equal Citizenship for Children Act
This bill would amend the Child Citizenship Act (CCA) to automatically give citizenship to those eligible who were excluded before under the CCA.
Sponsored by Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-New York) (18 cosponsors — 0 Republicans, 18 Democrats)
03/07/2023 Introduced by Rep. Yvette Clarke
03/07/2023 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to clarify that expedited removal of inadmissible arriving aliens applies regardless of where the alien is encountered or apprehended
Sponsored by Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) (11 cosponsors —11 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
03/07/2023 Introduced by Rep. Pat Fallon
03/07/2023 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
Eradicating Narcotic Drugs and Formulating Effective New Tools to Address National Yearly Losses of life (END FENTANYL) Act
This bill would require US Customs and Border Protection to regularly review and update manuals and find ways to prevent drug and human smuggling through ports of entry. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Florida) introduced its companion bill in the Senate earlier this year.
Sponsored by Rep. Michael Guest (R-Mississippi) (7 cosponsors — 3 Republicans, 4 Democrats)
03/07/2023 Introduced by Rep. Michael Guest
03/07/2023 Referred to the House Committees on Homeland Security and Ways and Means
To amend title 10, United States Code, to authorize the enlistment of certain aliens in the Armed Forces
Sponsored by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona) (1 cosponsor — 0 Republicans, 1 Democrat)
03/08/2023 Introduced by Rep. Ruben Gallego
03/08/2023 Referred to the House Committees on Armed Services and the Judiciary
Eradicate Crossing of Illegal Tunnels (EXIT) Act
This bill would let the Department of Homeland Security waive environmental permits and reviews to look for and remediate border crossing tunnels.
Sponsored by Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Arizona) (3 cosponsors — 3 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
03/08/2023 Introduced by Rep. Debbie Lesko
03/08/2023 Referred to the House Committees on Homeland Security and the Judiciary
Renewing Immigration Provisions of the Immigration Act of 1929
This bill would update existing registry provisions to unlock a pathway to lawful permanent residence for millions of people who have lived in the US for at least seven years.
Sponsored by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) (48 cosponsors — 0 Republicans, 48 Democrats)
03/09/2023 Introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren
03/09/2023 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The US Senate will be in session from Tuesday, March 14, through Thursday, March 16, 2023.
The US House of Representatives will not be in session the week of March 13, 2023.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
The Future of US-Brazil Relations
Date: Wednesday, March 15, 2023 at 10:30 a.m. ET (Senate Foreign Relations Committee)
Location: 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
The Honorable Brian Nichols, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, US Department of State
Richard Duke, Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, US Department of State
Failure By Design: Examining Secretary Mayorkas’ Border Crisis
Date: Wednesday, March 15, 2023 at 10:15 a.m. ET (House Committee on Homeland Security)
Location: South Texas College, Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence (RCPSE) 3901 S. Cage Blvd. Pharr, TX
The Honorable Raul L. Ortiz, Chief, United States Border Patrol
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
Biden Administration Reportedly Weighing Return to Family Detention
On March 6, the New York Times reported that the Biden administration is mulling a return to family immigration detention in an attempt to deter would-be migrants and asylum seekers from traveling to the US-Mexico border, as officials scramble to preempt an anticipated uptick in migrant encounters after the Title 42 policy is set to expire in May.
The news comes amid a flurry of other recent policy announcements from President Joe Biden and his team that signal a harder line on immigration enforcement, including a proposed rule that would impose further asylum restrictions and a promised expansion of fast-tracked deportations using expedited removal.
The administration has linked this sudden crackdown to anxieties about an expected increase in border crossings after May 11, when the Title 42 public health measure that has allowed officials to quickly expel migrants and asylum seekers abroad will likely no longer be in force.
Biden’s predecessors, Donald Trump and Barack Obama, used family immigration detention expansively during their presidencies after far more children and parents seeking humanitarian protection started arriving at the US-Mexico border around 2014. But Biden campaigned on making the US immigration system more humane, and his administration generally stopped detaining migrant families not long after he took over the Oval Office.
Immigration activists, who have long warned about the devastating mental and physical health consequences of putting kids in lock-ups, had cautiously celebrated Biden’s move toward alternatives to detention for families as a rare victory. Now, amid signs of a potential reversal in policy, advocates and some elected Democrats are expressing concern, frustration, and a sense of betrayal.
“Ending the inhumane practice of family detention has been one of the only positive immigration policy decisions of the Biden administration,” attorney Leecia Welch told the Times. “It is heartbreaking to hear there could be a return to the Trump-era use of this practice.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has acknowledged that detaining migrant families is back on the table as a potential policy option, though he told CNN that ultimately “no decision has been made.”
Similarly, on a possible return to family detention, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has said she is “not going to go weigh in on rumors that are out there or conversations that are happening at this time.”
“I’m not saying it’s being considered,” she said. “And I’m not saying it is not.”
TPS Extended and Redesignated for Somalia; Redesignation Expected for Nicaragua
On March 10, 2023, The Biden administration filed a Federal Register notice redesignating temporary protected status for Somalia and extending protection for current Somali TPS holders amid ongoing conflict, natural disasters, and disease outbreaks in their home country.
Because of the redesignation, an estimated 2,200 Somalis who have resided in the United States since at least January 11 will be able to file applications for TPS, as long as they meet other eligibility requirements. Current beneficiaries who continue to qualify have the opportunity to keep their protected status through at least September 17, 2024.
Meanwhile, on March 6, 2023, Politico reported that the administration plans to also redesignate TPS for Nicaraguans in the US, although the timeline for that development remains unclear.
The anticipated TPS redesignation coincides with a new humanitarian parole program that the Biden administration announced in January, through which up to 30,000 migrants a month from Nicaragua, Cuba, Haiti, and Venezuela can come legally to the US by commercial air. This program was designed in part to respond to the record number of Nicaraguans who attempted to reach the US last year. But beneficiaries are only granted short-term relief, with no direct pathway to citizenship.
There is no pathway to citizenship through TPS, either, but historically, recipients have often been able to stay in the US for years or decades through administrative extensions if their countries of origin remain dangerous or unstable.
That said, Nicaraguan TPS holders have faced an especially uncertain future in recent years. Their country was first designated for TPS in 1999, following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Mitch. But the former president, Donald Trump, announced in 2017 that his administration would terminate TPS for Nicaragua, arguing that the conditions caused by Hurricane Mitch no longer existed.
However, subsequent litigation resulted in an injunction in Ramos v. Mayorkas, preventing the rescission of TPS from Nicaragua and other countries. A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals later lifted the injunction, and the plaintiffs entered into settlement talks with the Biden Administration.
Those settlement talks broke down in October 2022. One month later, the Biden administration extended TPS for Nicaragua and other affected countries until June 30, 2024, or 365 days after the conclusion of the litigation, whichever comes later.
Recently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a petition for an en banc rehearing in this litigation.
US Resettled 3,069 Refugees in February
The United States resettled 3,069 refugees in February and is on track to resettle just 29,536 refugees for the entire fiscal year, a drop in the bucket compared to a cap of 125,000 refugees the Biden administration had said it would welcome.
Officials had previously failed to meet the same target of 125,000 resettled refugees last fiscal year, as embattled agencies faced challenges rebuilding the US’s refugee program after dramatic cuts during the Trump administration.
In January, the Biden administration announced a new initiative to try to bolster its capacity for refugee resettlement by allowing private citizens to directly sponsor refugees. Previously, refugee resettlement in the US was largely managed by nine federally funded nonprofits.
Dreamers Planning Departures From the US Amid Policy’s Unclear Future
More than a decade after President Barack Obama created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a growing number of Dreamers are looking to leave the country amid uncertainty about their and the program’s future.
DACA is an executive branch policy that temporarily protects undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children from deportation. But according to immigrant and community advocates, DACA recipients — also known as Dreamers — have shown a heightened interest during recent months in building a future abroad. This is in part due to a federal appeals court’s ruling in October, which found that DACA is likely illegal and should be eliminated, forcing Dreamers to face an increasingly tenuous legal situation in the US.
Miguel, one recipient who plans on moving to Canada, said, “I still consider myself a dreamer in the sense that I’m a DACA recipient, but I’m done dreaming. I want a real life.”
Even as DACA recipients plan on uprooting, independent analyses have estimated that losing their contributions could cost the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars in lost income and tax revenue. DACA recipients and their advocates also say they are filling vital roles in high demand, including as healthcare workers, teachers, and small business owners.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says the Biden administration has not given up on DACA recipients and does not want them to abandon their American dreams.
“We’ve sought to fortify the DACA program through our regulation, and we are hopeful that the Supreme Court will recognize the integrity of the DACA program and protect the Dreamers,” Mayorkas said.
Poll Shows Continued Support for Immigrants and Pro-Immigrant Reforms
On March 8, the National Immigration Forum released new polling data from the independent-minded research firm Bullfinch Group showing Americans’ broad, bipartisan support for immigrants and demonstrating a clear public desire for common sense, pro-immigrant solutions to the US’s broken immigration system.
More than three quarters of registered voters — including 74% of self-identified Republicans – advocated for “Republicans and Democrats working together on immigration reforms that strengthen border security, allow immigrants brought to the United States as children to earn citizenship, and ensure a legal, reliable workforce for America’s farmers and ranchers.”
Over two-thirds also showed support for asylum seekers and refugees by endorsing “the U.S. providing refuge for individuals and families fleeing serious persecution and torture.” And, perhaps most tellingly, seven in ten US voters agreed that “welcoming newcomers to our communities is an American value.”
“More and more Americans want the kinds of solutions Congress began to discuss late last year,” said Jennie Murray, President and CEO of the National Immigration Forum. “The administration and Congress should work together in 2023 to make those solutions reality. Americans understand that security and compassion can and should stand side by side.”
Federal Judge in Florida Orders End of Border Parole and Alternatives to Detention Policy
On March 8, a federal judge in Florida ordered the Biden administration to stop its use of the parole and alternatives to detention policy that had allowed border officials to more quickly process migrants and asylum seekers, stoking concerns of increased pressure on agents and overcrowding at Customs and Border Protection facilities should the order take effect.
The parole and alternative to detention policy has helped Border Patrol cut processing times by about an hour through a process that delegates the responsibility of issuing a court notice to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement instead of CBP, according to Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director at the American Immigration Council.
With thousands of people arriving at the US-Mexico border each day, the hour saved per person makes a major difference for CBP’s processing capacity.
But in a 109-page decision, US District Judge T. Kent Wetherell II did not mince words while criticizing the Biden administration’s approach at the US-Mexico border, arguing in part that officials “have effectively turned the Southwest Border into a meaningless line in the sand and little more than a speed bump for aliens flooding into the country.”
Wetherell’s judgment vacating the parole and alternative to detention policy was stayed for one week to allow the federal government to appeal.
State and Local
Florida Legislators Introduce Immigration Package with Enforcement Priorities Proposed by Gov. DeSantis
On March 7, Republican legislators in Florida introduced a proposal that would overhaul many of the state’s laws related to immigrants and potentially increase immigration enforcement in the state.
The proposal (Senate Bill (S.B.) 1718 / House Bill (H.B.) 1617) includes most legislative priorities highlighted by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) in an immigration plan announced last month.
The bills would make it a third-degree felony to transport into or within the state an individual who the person knows or reasonably should know is undocumented and entered the US without inspection. They would also make it illegal to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection undocumented immigrants who entered without inspection. These particular provisions are likely to raise significant concerns, as they may impact faith groups, school bus drivers, and others who provide transportation to immigrants.
The proposal would also prevent counties and localities from providing identification documents to undocumented residents, prohibit the use of driver’s licenses issued by other states to undocumented immigrants, prevent DACA recipients from becoming lawyers in the state, require hospitals to collect patients’ immigration information, and increase fines to businesses for employing, recruiting, or referring undocumented immigrants.
The bill package, however, would not repeal access to in-state tuition for the state’s undocumented students. DeSantis included a repeal of in-state tuition in his immigration plan, but the idea raised significant concerns from other Republican lawmakers.
Texas Bill Would Restrict Access to Public Schools for Undocumented Kids
Lawmakers in Texas are considering a bill that would deny undocumented children access to a free public education unless the federal government agrees to pay for it.
SB 923, introduced by state Sen. Drew Springer (R-Texas), reflects Governor Greg Abbott’s (R-Texas) expressed desire to stop schooling undocumented kids in his state. But its proposed restrictions fly in the face of decades-long Supreme Court precedent, which clearly establishes that undocumented kids have the right to a free public education.
The bill is currently in committee, and its companion, HB 4668, was introduced earlier this month.
Bill Giving Minnesotans Access to Driver’s Licenses Signed Into Law
On March 7, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill into law that will give undocumented Minnesotans access to driver’s licenses, after state lawmakers passed the measure earlier this year.
Minnesota will join 18 other states plus Washington, D.C. in granting undocumented residents driving privileges.
Congressional Research Service (CRS); FEMA Assistance: Limited English Proficiency and Equity; Updated March 6, 2023
This report examines risks and barriers that individuals with limited English proficiency encounter during or after emergencies. It also details the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s responsibilities to communities with limited English proficiency and recommends ways to better serve them.
Congressional Research Service (CRS); The Department of Homeland Security: A Primer; March 7, 2023
This report provides background on “the mission, structure, staffing, and funding” of the Department of Homeland Security, including relevant historical information.
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES
Bill Summary: Dream Act of 2023
This bipartisan bill would provide Dreamers – young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and have lived in the US for most of their lives – with protection from deportation and an opportunity to obtain legal status if they meet certain requirements.
Alternative Pathways for Arrivals at the Border
The paper seeks to put the challenges we face at the southwest border in the broader context of growing displacement in the hemisphere, describing how many come to the border because there is no other real alternative — no “right way” to come.
Journey to the US Southern Border
This interactive resource will allow you to experience a virtual journey where you’ll face the challenges a migrant family could encounter when traveling to the US – and consider what choices you would make.
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*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Alexandra Villarreal, Policy and Advocacy Associate at the National Immigration Forum, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Alexandra can be reached at email@example.com. Thank you.