Legislative Bulletin — Friday, March 18, 2022

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
GOVERNMENT REPORTS
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

 

S. 3795

Legacies of War Recognition and Unexploded Ordnance Removal Act

The bill would appropriate $100,000,000 from 2022 through 2026 to provide humanitarian assistance for the refugee and immigrant communities from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam who supported and defended the American Armed Forces during the conflicts in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 1970s.

Sponsored by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) (1 cosponsor— 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

03/10/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Baldwin

03/10/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

S. 3805

United States-Colombia Strategic Alliance Act of 2022

The bill, among other provisions, would require the Department of State to develop and implement a strategy, to be known as the “Colombia Relief and Development Coherence Strategy”, to support Colombia’s refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, vulnerable migrants, and people affected by natural disasters.

Sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) (1 cosponsor— 1 Democrat, 0 Republicans)

03/10/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Menendez

03/10/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

S. 3850

Securing America’s Ports of Entry Act

The bill would increase the number of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and support staff by at least 600 hundred people per year until the agency’s staffing needs are met. The bill would also require the agency to present a report identifying staffing, infrastructure, and equipment needs to enhance security at ports of entry.

Sponsored by Senator Gary Peters (D-Michigan) (1 cosponsor— 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

03/16/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Peters

03/16/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

H.R. 6984

Ukraine Humanitarian Support Act of 2022

The bill, among other provisions, would require the Department of State to develop a strategy to address humanitarian access challenges and ensure protection for vulnerable refugees and migrants from Ukraine.

Sponsored by Representative William Keating (D-Massachusetts) (18 cosponsors— 1 Republican, 17 Democrats)

03/08/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Keating

03/08/2022 Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

H.R. 7024

Every Town A Border Town Act

The bill would categorize the criminal organization Mara Salvatrucha (MS–13) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, thereby revoking and prohibiting the issuance of any type of visas to MS-13 members.

Sponsored by Representative Bob Good (R-Virginia) (15 cosponsors— 15 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

03/09/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Good

03/09/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 7028

Ensuring Security for Military Spouses Act

The bill would eliminate the 3-month State residency requirement for non-U.S. citizen spouses of members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty in the United States who apply for naturalization.

Sponsored by Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Washington) (1 cosponsor— 1 Democrat, 0 Republicans)

03/09/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Herrera Beutler

03/09/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 7056

Visa Transparency Anti-Trafficking Act of 2021

The bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to submit a report to Congress on the number of citizens from the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia — commonly referred to as the Compacts of Free Association — who have been authorized to reside indefinitely in the United States as nonimmigrants.

Sponsored by Representative Lois Frankel (D-Florida) (1 cosponsor— 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

03/11/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Frankel

03/11/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 7059

No Alternatives to Detention for Illegals Act of 2022

The bill would prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from using federal funds to implement alternatives to detention for immigrants who are currently in custody at immigration detention facilities.

Sponsored by Representative Darrell Issa (R-California) (4 cosponsors— 4 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

03/11/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Issa

03/11/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, March 21, 2022.

The U.S. House of Representatives will have a district work period the week of Monday, March 21, 2022.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

There are no immigration-related hearings scheduled for the week of Monday, March 21, 2022.

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Biden Administration Designates Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

On March 16, the Biden administration designated Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status. The 18-month designation will allow nationals from Afghanistan with nonimmigrant status who have been physically present in the U.S. since March 15, 2022, to stay and work temporarily in the U.S. without fear of being returned into conflict and violence.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that the renewal of TPS for Afghanistan was appropriate due to the ongoing violence from the Taliban-run government and other armed groups. Mayorkas added that in addition to the ongoing violence, Afghanistan is undergoing extraordinary and temporary conditions that further prevent nationals from safely returning, including a collapsing public sector, a worsening economic crisis, food and water insecurity, lack of access to healthcare, internal displacement, human rights abuses by the Taliban, destruction of infrastructure, and increasing criminality.

Among those now eligible for TPS are the approximately 76,000 Afghan allies and refugees who were evacuated and resettled in the U.S. after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in August 2021. However, these Afghans were largely brought to the U.S. under a two-year grant of parole, which offers similar temporary protections to Temporary Protected Status. Neither parole nor TPS provide a path to a green card or citizenship.

While many immigration and veteran advocacy groups recognized the TPS designation as a positive step, they reiterated the need for an Afghan Adjustment Act to ensure that Afghan evacuees have access to stability and permanent status.

Biden Administration Exempts Unaccompanied Migrant Children from Expulsion under Title 42

On March 12, the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) announced the formal end of expulsions of unaccompanied migrant children at the border under Title 42, a pandemic-era order that both the Trump and Biden administrations have used to rapidly expel arriving migrants without providing them the opportunity to seek asylum.

The Biden administration had already exempted unaccompanied minors arriving at the border from Title 42 expulsions. However, on March 4, the Northern District Court of Texas ordered the Biden administration to resume the expulsions of unaccompanied children, arguing that the state of Texas — which challenged the exemption — was financially harmed by the need to shelter additional children in the state.

The CDC justified its decision to formally exempt children by citing decreasing numbers of COVID-19 cases and increased vaccination rates in the U.S. and the home countries of migrants who journey to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Recent estimates suggest that over one million migrants have been deported under Title 42 during the Biden administration. Advocacy groups and international organizations have widely criticized the policy. They argue that deportations under Title 42 are inconsistent with international norms and fail to uphold the fundamental human rights of migrants. According to numerous reports, the Biden administration is considering rolling back or ending Title 42 when it next comes up for CDC reauthorization in early April.

CBP Border Data Reveals Slight Increase in Migrant Arrivals in February

On March 15, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released official data on the number of migrants the agency had apprehended or encountered at the border in the month of February. The data showed a 7% increase in overall monthly arrivals as the numbers increased to 164,973 in February from 153,941 in January. The overall numbers continue to be inflated by a high number of repeat crossers, with recidivism rates reported at 30%. Taking this repeat crosser rate into account, CBP reported that the total number of “unique” crossers encountered was 116,278, an 2% increase from January. Following Mexican visa sanctions, the number of arriving Venezuelan migrants fell sharply to just 3,225 in February after topping 20,000 each of the previous three months.

Around 55% of all encounters — a total of 91,513 individuals — were immediately expelled under a pandemic-era CDC rule called Title 42, without any access to the asylum system. The administration has continued to use Title 42 even as other pandemic restrictions have been lifted at the border and across the country.

CBP data also showed that the Biden administration’s reimplementation of MPP, or “remain in Mexico,” continues to expand to more individuals and more areas along the border. Initial MPP enrollments significantly rose to 897 in February from 399 in January.

On March 18, DHS announced it would be rescinding a Trump-era rule that would significantly expand a rapid adjudication process known as expedited removal. The Trump administration had attempted to expand expedited removal processes beyond recent border arrivals to those in the interior of the U.S. who had arrived less recently. After the rescission, only those who are encountered within 100 miles of the border and within two weeks of crossing can be subject to expedited removal.

DHS Secretary meets with Mexico’s and Costa Rica’s Presidents to Discuss Labor and Migration Issues

On March 14 and March 15, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas met with Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador and Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, respectively, to discuss a coordinated regional response to the recent surge in migration from Honduras, Venezuela, Haiti, and El Salvador. In Mexico, Mayorkas and López Obrador stressed the need to create jobs in migrants’ home countries and expand legal work opportunities in the United States. A press release by the Mexican government emphasized the need to build regional and bilateral agreements to achieve ‘orderly, safe, and regular migration.’

In Costa Rica, Secretary Mayorkas and President Quesada announced the bilateral Migration Arrangement, which aims to stem irregular migration, create viable legal migration pathways, foster legitimate trade and travel, and tackle transnational crime.

USCIS Reaches Fiscal Year 2022 H-2B Cap

On March 1, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported that the agency had received a sufficient number of petitions needed to reach the congressionally mandated 33,000 H-2B visa regular cap for the second half of fiscal year (FY) 2022. The H-2B visa is a nonimmigrant work visa that allows U.S. employers to hire temporary nonagricultural foreign workers.

USCIS noted that while it would no longer accept new H-2B petitions for the coming period, it would continue processing other applications associated with H-2B status, including those to extend the amount of time a current H-2B worker may remain in the United States, petitions of fish roe processors and technicians, and petitions from workers performing labor in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.

Biden Administration Announces Restart of Refugee Program for U.S.-Affiliated Iraqis (Iraq P-2 Program)

On March 1, the Biden administration reinstated the Direct Access Program (DAP) for U.S.-affiliated Iraqis (Iraqi P-2 Program). Created by Congress in 2008, DAP is intended to provide a safe and expedited refugee pathway for Iraqis in danger due to their work in support of U.S. military efforts from Iran-linked militias, ISIS, and other groups. The program was officially suspended in January 2021 to investigate concerns of fraud, leaving more than 100,000 Iraqi allies in limbo.

In lifting the suspension of the program, existing Iraqi P-2 cases will continue to be reviewed, and new application submissions are now welcome. In the announcement, the State Department reiterated that all refugees are subject to the highest level of security vetting before determining whether they are eligible to receive admission into the United States. The State Department further noted that “we have identified and resolved the issues that led to our suspension of the program in January of 2021.”

State & Local

Virginia’s Legislature Approves Bill that Allows Immigrant Teachers to Teach in the State

On March 11, Virginia’s state legislature voted unanimously — in both legislative chambers — to create a provisional teaching license for immigrant teachers to teach in the state. The bill, which still needs to be signed into law by Governor Youngkin, seeks to tackle the critical shortage of educators in schools throughout the state by utilizing immigrant talent. The bill is one of a number of steps being taken to address Virginia’s growing teacher shortage. In January, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) announced a $12 million investment to find, recruit, and keep teachers in classrooms.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Congressional Research Service (CRS): The Department of Homeland Security’s Reported “Metering” Policy: Legal Issues, March 8, 2022

This Legal Sidebar from the Congressional Research Service focuses on metering, a Trump-era DHS policy that limits the number of asylum seekers that are processed each day at designated ports of entry. CRS reports that the policy sought to address an “unprecedented rise in asylum requests,” as well as safety and health concerns resulting from overcrowding at ports of entry. However, according to CRS, the policy has led to long wait times and overcrowded conditions on the Mexican side of the border, and may be incentivizing attempts to illegally cross the border between ports of entry along the U.S. southern border.

Government Accountability Office (GAO): TSA Efforts to Coordinate with Stakeholders on COVID-19 Security Directives; March 14, 2022

This GAO report highlights the actions taken by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to implement restrictions and safety requirements on international air travel to the U.S. from certain countries due to COVID-19.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Fact Sheet: Pathways to Protection for Afghans at Risk

This resource provides a comparison between three pathways to protection for Afghans: SIV status, the P2 refugee program, and Humanitarian Parole. It also summarizes the eligibility requirements for each pathway and notes the different application timelines and vetting procedures. The fact sheet also describes what we know about the numbers resettled so far under each pathway and what benefits they receive.

Explainer: Humanitarian Parole and the Afghan Evacuation

This resource explains what parole is, describes the eligibility requirements and vetting procedures currently in place for Afghan parolees, and discusses what benefits parolees receive when they arrive in the U.S. The explainer also discusses the options available for those at risk who have been left behind in Afghanistan, as humanitarian parole can also be accessed by those who are able to escape on their own to third countries.

Why Businesses Should Support Immigration Reform

This paper argues that reforming the U.S. immigration system is an economic imperative. Businesses benefit from needed immigration reforms to provide permanent solutions for Dreamers, the agricultural workforce, and other essential workers. These reforms can help address ongoing labor shortages, fill job openings in key sectors dependent on immigrant labor, strengthen the U.S. economy, and address long-term demographic shortfalls.

* * *

*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Arturo Castellanos-Canales, National Immigration Forum Policy and Advocacy Associate, 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 Advocacy Resources Landing Page

Article

Advocacy Resources Landing Page

Read more about Legislative Bulletin — Friday, March 11, 2022

Legislative Bulletin

Legislative Bulletin — Friday, March 11, 2022

Read more about Legislative Bulletin — Friday, March 4, 2022

Legislative Bulletin

Legislative Bulletin — Friday, March 4, 2022