Legislative Bulletin – Friday, March 9, 2018

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. ____

Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018

This bill would close a loophole in the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA), which has prevented internationally-adopted children, who are now adults, from receiving U.S. citizenship despite being raised by American parents. This is a companion bill to the House version of the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018 introduced by Representatives Chris Smith (R – New Jersey) and Adam Smith (D – Washington).

Sponsored by Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) (1 cosponsor – 1 Democrat)

03/08/2018 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Blunt

H.R. ____

Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018

This bill would close a loophole in the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA), which has prevented internationally-adopted children, who are now adults, from receiving U.S. citizenship despite being raised by American parents. This is a companion bill to the Senate version of the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018 introduced by Senators Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) and Mazie K. Hirono (D – Hawaii).

Sponsored by Representative Chris Smith (R – New Jersey) (1 cosponsor – 1 Democrat)

03/08/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Smith

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, March 12, 2018.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Tuesday, March 13, 2018 to Friday, March 16, 2018.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

FY 2019 Budget Hearing: Department of Health and Human Services

Date: Thursday, March 15, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. (House Appropriations Committee)

Location: 2362-C Rayburn House Office Building

Witness:

Alex Azar, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services

Hearing: “Bang for the Border Security Buck: What do we get for $33 billion?”

Date: Thursday, March 15, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. (House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security)

Location: US Capitol Visitor Center, Room HVC-210

Witnesses: TBD

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

March 5 Deadline for Dreamer Solution Passes; Judge Rules DACA Termination “Reasonably” Justified

President Trump’s March 5 deadline for Congress to find a legislative solution for Dreamers – undocumented individuals brought to the United States as children through no fault of their own – has passed without adoption of a solution. Last September, President Trump terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was created by the Obama administration in 2012 to protect Dreamers from deportation and grant them work authorization. While the program expired on March 5, several pending court cases have allowed certain current DACA recipients to renew their status. However, uncertainty about permanent solution that provides lawful permanent residency and a path to citizenship for Dreamers remains.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) said he does not believe Democrats will force a government shutdown over the inclusion of a Dreamer fix in the fiscal year 2018 omnibus spending package, which needs to be passed by March 23. The spending bill had been seen as a possible vehicle for solution to the Dreamers’ situation, as Congressional negotiations amounted to little in the weeks leading to March 5. Senator John Cornyn (R – Texas) has previously cast doubts over adding a Dreamer solution to the omnibus, but did not rule out other ways of fixing the issue such as a temporary provision of some kind.

Senators Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) and Heidi Heitkampt (D-North Dakota) have recently introduced  legislation that would extend DACA for three years and provide additional funding for border security. However, their ‘three-for-three’ approach was stalled in the Senate after Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) argued we need a permanent fix for DACA recipients and that “if Congress does a temporary patch once, it will do it 20 times again.”

In contrast with other court rulings, a federal district judge in Maryland ruled this week that the administration did have a “reasonable” justification for terminating DACA because it had concluded that the program was unlawful. Earlier rulings found it likely that the termination of DACA by the Trump administration was “arbitrary and capricious.” In his ruling, Maryland District Judge Roger Titus strongly criticized the highly partisan nature of the debate surrounding DACA, disparaging both Congress and the Trump administration. This ruling has no impact on the status of DACA, as injunctions from other cases have already required the government to accept DACA renewal applications and appeals in those cases are still pending.

Department of Justice Sues California over State Immigration Laws

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a lawsuit on March 7 challenging three California state laws that allow state and local law enforcement authorities, as well as businesses, to continue to limit their participation in enforcement of federal immigration laws. In a speech to local law enforcement in Sacramento, Sessions said that the three so-called sanctuary laws interfere with the federal government’s jurisdiction over immigration law. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra noted that states and local jurisdictions have “the right to determine which policies are best for their communities.”

The Justice Department lawsuit challenges Senate Bill (S.B.) 54, which generally prohibits state and local law enforcement from using either personnel or funds to hold, question or share information about people with federal immigration agents. S.B. 54 includes significant exceptions that allow cooperation with federal authorities in situations where individuals have been convicted of one or more crimes from a list of over 800 crimes. The lawsuit also targets Assembly Bills (A.B.) 450 and 103. A.B. 450 prevents private employers from providing additional information and access to federal immigration agents than what is minimally required by federal law and requiresthat employers post information about inspections of employment records conducted by an immigration agency within 72 hours of receiving a notice of the inspection. A.B. 103 creates a state-run inspection and review of facilities that detain immigrants on behalf of the federal government which includes state-run facilities.

The lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in Sacramento, argues that California’s three laws violate the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. However, legal experts note that California could argue that its laws are not in direct conflict with federal immigration enforcement and that the federal government cannot force, or commandeer, the state into becoming part of federal law enforcement. Immigration advocates noted that the Justice Department’s lawsuit is a step in the wrong direction, hurting future cooperation between state and federal authorities.

USCIS Plans to Suspend H-1B Visa Premium Processing

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) indicated that it would temporarily delay the ability of certain H1-B visa seekers to fast track their applications again this year during a stakeholder engagement call. In 2017, USCIS delayed premium processing for several months and then reinstated it. Such a delay would prevent employers from learning whether they can fill their openings with immigrant workers. Because USCIS has not officially announced that it is suspending premium processing, it is uncertain when the delay would take effect and how long it will last.

Many U.S. technology companies rely heavily on the H-1B program, which is limited to 85,000 visas per year. Because the number of H-1B visa applications generally far exceeds the cap, USCIS selects the applicants randomly through a lottery system. The annual H1-B visa lottery for fiscal year 2019 will open on April 2, 2018 and likely will close in a week due to the high demand as it has for the past four years.

U.S. Immigration Authorities Release Congolese Mother, Daughter Stays in Detention

A Congolese mother separated from her 7-year-old daughter after crossing U.S.-Mexico border to seek asylum was released from a San Diego detention center. However, her daughter will stay in a Chicago facility about 2,000 miles away from her mother. The asylum-seeking mother-daughter duo has been the main focus of an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit filed at the end of February, claiming that the two have been separated by U.S. immigration agencies for four months while in immigration detention and seeks relief for them and other immigrant parents separated from their children.

According to ACLU, the practice of indefinitely separating parents from children is the Trump Administration’s tactic to discourage asylum seekers from coming to the U.S. The administration reportedly considered implementing an official policy to separate families to discourage undocumented immigration and asylum seekers from coming to the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to sign off on the proposal. Child welfare advocates have warned against family separation, stressing its long-lasting impact on the children’s safety, health, development and wellbeing.

U.S. Grants Few Visa Waivers to Immigrants from Travel Ban Countries

U.S. immigration authorities granted  128 waivers out of the 8,400 visa applicants from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Venezuela — the eight countries that are subject to the current  travel ban. The 8,400 people applied for U.S visas between December 8, 2017 when the ban took effect and January 8, 2018.The U.S. Department of State sent a letter in February to Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) providing this information.

The President’s travel ban proclamation set a handful of exemptions to the ban for lawful permanent residents and certain other applicants, as well as a provision allowing those who do not qualify for such exceptions to be considered for waivers in special circumstances. Such circumstances include the need for urgent medical care or accommodation of adoptions. The authorities can also grant the waivers to previous visa-holders returning to employment or studies in the U.S. and to immigrants with significant business obligations or close U.S. family ties.

Immigration Enforcement’s Negative Impact on Children

A new survey by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles found that the Trump administration’s efforts on enforcing immigration laws in the interior is having an adverse effect on children’s school attendance, academic performance, and classroom behavior. About 64 percent of teachers, administrators, and school staff from 730 schools around the U.S. reported observing that students were concerned about immigration issues that may be affecting them, their families, or people they know. While 80 percent of school officials have reported a rise in behavioral and emotional problems among students, and over half reported an increase in absenteeism, 70 percent of respondents noticed academic decline among students, and 78 percent of administrators have reported contact from parents with concerns about immigration issues. Further, 37 percent of respondents reported an increase in immigration status-related bullying. The survey also found that there was a significant degree of confusion about immigration law, who was at risk of immigration enforcement activity, and the DACA program.

State and Local

23 Arrested in New Mexico and Texas Immigration Enforcement Sweep

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced this week that they arrested 23 immigrants suspected of being undocumented across New Mexico and western Texas. At the same time, they served notices of employment audits to over 100 businesses in those same areas. Three of those arrested face criminal charges for illegal re-entry or firearm possession, or both. Businesses served with employment audits by ICE must provide hiring documentation that shows an employee’s immigration status within three days. The Trump administration has increased the number of employment audits being conducted after ICE Director Thomas Homan called for a 400 percent increase in December 2017.

Santa Fe mayor Javier Gonzales criticized the action, calling the audits a disruption of “people’s lives and the harmony of the city.” Santa Fe Public Schools superintendent Veronica Garcia also spoke against the action, saying that it would only increase the anxiety of students already highly concerned about gun violence.

Virginia Senate Passes Anti-Sanctuary Bill

The Virginia Senate passed a bill on Tuesday, March 6, that would prohibit localities from restricting cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement. The House of Delegates must now accept Senate amendments to the bill, after which it goes before Governor Ralph Northam (D), who has promised a veto. Virginia currently has no sanctuary cities, and Democrats have said the bill sends an unwelcoming message to immigrants. Republicans have said the bill is necessary to show “respect for the rule of law,” and to demonstrate that undocumented immigrants should not receive “special privileges.”

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

No new government reports on immigration or skills and workforce development were released in the week of Monday, March 5, 2018.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Infographic: Healthcare Sector: Immigrants Are Indispensable to U.S. Workforce

This infographics shows data on immigrants in the healthcare sector. Specifically, it highlights key facts about their demographics and role in our workforce. The fact sheet is a part of infographic series on immigrants in our workforce that can be found here.

Bill Summary: Building America’s Trust Act

This document provides an overview of Senator John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) border security and interior immigration enforcement bill, Building America’s Trust Act (S. 1757). The bill, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate with 8 Republican co-sponsors, would significantly expand border security and interior enforcement in the U.S.

* * *

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

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