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Legislative Bulletin – Friday, May 18, 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. 2849

Detention Oversight Not Expansion (DONE) Act

This bill seeks to prohibit expansion of immigration detention facilities and improve the oversight of such facilities. This bill is a companion bill to H.R.5820.

Sponsored by Senator Kamala D. Harris (D – California) (0 cosponsors)

05/15/2018 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Harris

05/15/2018 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

H.R.5820

Detention Oversight Not Expansion (DONE) Act

This bill seeks to prohibit expansion of immigration detention facilities and improve the oversight of such facilities. This bill is a companion bill to S. 2849.

Sponsored by Representative Pramila Jayapal (D – Washington) (0 cosponsors)

05/15/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Jayapal

05/15/2018 Referred to the House Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, May 21, 2018.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, May 21, 2018 to Thursday, May 24, 2018.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Stopping the Daily Border Caravan: Time to Build a Policy Wall

Date: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at 2 p.m. (House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security)

Location: HVC-210 Capitol

Witnesses:

Ronald Vitiello, Acting Deputy Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Thomas Homan, Acting Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Lee Francis Cissna, Director, U.S. Customs and Immigration Services

Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Education

This hearing will discuss policies and priorities of the U.S. Education Department, many of which impact immigrants’ access to programs administered by the department.

Date: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at 10 a.m. (House Committee on Education and the Workforce)

Location: 2175 Rayburn House office Building

Witness: Betsy DeVos, Secretary of U.S. Department of Education

The Health Care Workforce: Addressing Shortages and Improving Care

This hearing will discuss shortages in health care workforce. Immigrants may help close such shortages with access to appropriate training and certifications.

Date: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at 10 a.m. (Senate HELP Committee)

Location: 430 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Witnesses:

Kristen Goodell, M.D., F.A.A.F.P., Assistant Professor Of Family Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine

Julie Sanford, D.N.S., R.N., F.A.A.N., Director And Professor, School Of Nursing, James Madison University

Elizabeth Phelan, M.D., M.S., Director, Northwest Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Center, Seattle, WA

TVPRA and Exploited Loopholes Affecting Unaccompanied Alien Children

Date: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at 2:30p.m. (Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration)

Location: Dirksen Senate Office Building 226

Witnesses:

Panel I

Dean Heller, Senator, State of Nevada

Panel II

Alysa Erichs, Acting Deputy Executive Associate Director, Homeland Security Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security

Matthew Albence, Executive Associate Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security

Richard Hudson, Deputy Chief of the Operations Program, Law Enforcement Operations Directorate, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security

Steve Wagner, Acting Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

House Republicans Mull Path Forward on Immigration as Discharge Petition Gains Momentum

A group of House Republicans who filed a discharge petition to bring four immigration bills that address the future of Dreamers up for a vote in the House met with House Republican leaders on May 16 to discuss a potential deal on immigration. The meeting came after two more Republican lawmakers signed-on to the discharge petition this week, bringing the total number of Republican signatories as of May 18 to 20 – in addition to 137 Democrats. Over the week, House Republican leaders scrambled to stop the petition out of concern that it could hurt their legislative agenda and depress conservative turnout in November’s elections.

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-California), one of the leaders of the effort on the discharge petition, said on May 17 that he has been having productive conversations with both House Republican leaders and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina), who opposes the discharge petition effort. Earlier in the week, Meadows discussed withholding votes from the House farm bill unless House Republican leadership derailed the discharge petition effort and brought Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Virginia) Securing America’s Future (SAF) Act up for a vote. On Friday, May 18, the farm bill failed to pass the House due, at least in part, to GOP defections over the Dreamer impasse.

One idea under consideration would involve voting on Rep. Goodlatte’s SAF Act, knowing it would likely fail. Then, the House would vote on a second, new piece of immigration legislation that can receive 218 votes, although it is unclear what would be in that bill. House Republican leaders have indicated that they are open to hold a vote on the SAF Act in June. Rep. Goodlatte’s bill would criminalize unlawful presence, significantly increase interior immigration enforcement in the U.S., and cut legal immigration to the U.S. by up to 40 percent a year, while only providing temporary protections to certain recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Nearly, if not all, of the remaining 56 Democrats in the House are expected to add their names to the discharge petition, which means at least 5 more Republicans are needed to reach the required 218 signatures to force a vote. By the morning of May 18, at least 157 lawmakers had signed onto the petition.

Trump’s “Animals” Comments Spur Criticism

President Trump faced criticism after referring to immigrants that his administration has deported as “animals” in a May 16 roundtable on California’s so-called sanctuary state law: “We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in – and we’re stopping a lot of them – but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals.”

The comments led to condemnations from Democratic leaders, the Mexican government, and others. Trump defended the comments, arguing that they specifically referred to criminal gang members and criticized the media for its reporting on the statement.

Trump Administration Considers Holding Children at Military Bases

President Trump administration is reportedly considering holding immigrant children on military bases. In order to determine suitability of such facilities to house those minors, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials is planning to visit four separate military sites in Texas and Arkansas. The administration is seeking facilities that can hold thousands of immigrant children after  previously announcing plans to criminally prosecute parents apprehended with their children while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization, a policy that will lead to the separation of children from their parents. With the new family separation policy, children who were removed from their parents would be treated as unaccompanied immigrant minors (UACs) under the care of HHS. Democrats have been reportedly planning introduction of amendment that would prevent the Trump administration from implementing such policy. The Obama administration previously used military bases to temporarily house immigrant children during an influx of Central American UACs in 2014.

ICE Workplace Inspections Increase Amid Crackdown on Undocumented Workers; Arrests of Immigrants Without Criminal Records Surge

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers started 3,510 worksite investigations during the first seven months of fiscal year (FY) 2018, more than double the number as in all of FY 2017. The audits are part of the Trump administration’s effort to find and arrest workers without proper immigration documents and to discourage businesses from hiring them. Officials with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit estimate that the total number may reach 5,500 by the end of this fiscal year.

ICE also conducted 2,282 employer audits and arrested 1,204 individuals so far in FY 2018, in comparison to 1,360 audits and 317 arrests in the entirety of FY 2017, . ICE officials have indicated they plan to establish an Employer Compliance Inspection Center and eventually conduct as many as 15,000 worksite audits per year.

The release of the ICE worksite investigation data followed  a separate report indicating that ICE arrests of those without criminal records have increased over the first 14 months of the Trump administration. According to this report, the Trump administration has been arresting an average of 4,143 unauthorized immigrants without criminal records each month, compared to only 1,703 per month during the Obama administration.

Trump Administration Announces Student and Exchange Visa Overstays Will Accrue Unlawful Presence  

On May 11, the Trump administration announced it is changing its policy concerning foreign students and exchange visitors who overstay their visa. Previously, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) (and before that the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service) did not consider J, F, and M visa overstays to be accruing unlawful presence if they are admitted for Duration of Status.

Under the new policy, F, J, or M non-immigrants will begin accruing unlawful presence as soon their visa lapses. The change, which will go into effect on August 9, 2018, will have a significant impact on determination of student and exchange visitors’ eligibility for future reentry to the U.S. Overstays exceeding 180 days will now possibly receive 3- or 10-year admission bans, while overstays of more than a year can result in permanent bans.

Legal

Ninth Circuit Hears Arguments on Trump Administration’s DACA Termination

On May 15, a the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard arguments on whether to uphold a lower court’s decision requiring the Trump administration to continue DACA while litigation challenging its termination proceeds. At least two of the judges on the three-judge panel appeared unlikely to overturn the lower court’s decision, which requires the government to accept renewal applications for DACA. However, the panel  questioned whether the judiciary could second-guess exercises of prosecution discretion and whether the federal government could prevail if it provided more solid legal reasoning for its decision.

President Trump rescinded DACA on September 5, 2017, but a District Court in California issued a nationwide injunction in January blocking the rescission. Two additional federal courts have additionally ruled against the administration’s efforts to end DACA. Texas and six other states recently sued the Trump administration to stop it from renewing DACA applications.

Sessions Issues Opinion Largely Ending Administrative Closure in the Immigration Courts

On May 17, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued an interim decision largely ending the practice of administrative closure in the federal immigration courts. In his opinion in Matter of Castro-Tum, Sessions held “that immigration judges and the Board [of Immigration Appeals] do not have the general authority to suspend indefinitely immigration proceedings by administrative closure.”

Administrative closure is a common practice used by immigration judges to temporarily remove cases from their calendars and delay removal proceedings. The practice has been commonly used when an individual in deportation proceedings has a valid claim for legal status and has petitioned U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), for instance when an undocumented person becomes eligible for a green card through marriage. By requiring immigration courts to proceed with removal proceedings, thousands of immigrants may be deported before obtaining the legal statuses for which they are eligible.

The opinion is likely to increase backlogs in an already bottlenecked immigration court system, potentially reopening tens of thousands of administratively-closed cases. Between FY2012 and FY2017, more than 215,000 cases that were administratively closed.

Immigration groups condemned the opinion as undermining due process, eroding the independence of immigration judges, and wasting judicial resources, and warned that it will lead to the deportation of persons who are eligible for legal status.

Under federal law, the attorney general has the ability to set immigration precedents by referring himself cases from the Board of Immigration Appeals. Earlier this year, Sessions referred himself three key cases under this rarely-used power, including Matter of Castro-Tum.

State and Local

Kasich Creates New Office Assisting Ohio Immigrants

Governor John Kasich (R-Ohio) signed an executive order creating the Office of Opportunities for New Americans, which will assist documented immigrants in Ohio to obtain job skills and employment, while supporting their transition into local communities. The order also asks for creation of a New Americans Advisory Committee, and advisory body to the new office. State officials believe the initiative will help boost Ohio’s modest population growth, boosting economic growth in the state. About 500,000 immigrants currently live in Ohio, a 51 percent more than in 2000.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

There were no immigration or skills and workforce related reports published during the week of Monday, May 14, 2018.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Discharge Petition on Dreamers: An Explainer

This blog provides an overview of the Discharge Petition on Dreamers filed on May 9 to bring the Queen of the Hill resolution to the floor of the House for a vote.

Letter to Former DHS Secretary Kelly on Family Separation

This is an April 2017 Forum letter to former DHS Secretary Kelly, expressing concerns about family separation.

Enforcement-Only Immigration Approach Harms Children

This 2015 blog post discusses family separation and its economic and emotional impacts on  parents and children.

 

* * *

*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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