Legislative Bulletin — Friday, May 28, 2021

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. 1810

The Conrad State 30 & Physician Access Act

The bill would allow international doctors to remain in the U.S. upon completing their residency under the condition they practice in underserved areas, such as rural communities.

Sponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) (7 cosponsors — 4 Republicans, 2 Democrats, 1 Independent)

05/25/2021 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Klobuchar

05/25/2021 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

S. 1861

Partner with Korea Act

This bill would create an allotment of 15,000 E-4 highly skilled work visas for Korean nationals with specialized education and expertise, provided that potential employers can ensure the visa holders are not hired for positions that American workers could fill. The bill is a companion to H.R. 3382.

Sponsored by Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) (1 cosponsor — 1 Democrat, 0 Republicans)

05/26/2021 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Blunt

05/26/2021 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

S. 1865

Migrant Resettlement Transparency Act

The bill would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) to consult with state and local officials before resettling, transporting, and relocating migrants in their jurisdictions.

Sponsored by Senator Bill Hagerty (R-Tennessee) (1 cosponsor — 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

05/26/2021 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Hagerty

05/26/2021 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

S.___

The Border Response Resilience Act

The bill would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a response plan to address increases in migrant arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border. The bill would further require that the plan use concrete metrics, including measuring the length of time migrants are held in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody and the capacity of various facilities along the border. The bill would also create a $1,000,000,000 fund to be used by DHS to adequately respond to processing and security demands associated with an increase in migrant arrivals.

Sponsored by Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) (1 cosponsor — 1 Democrat, 0 Republicans)

05/28/2021 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Portman

H.R. 1333

NO BAN Act

The bill would prevent the President from barring immigrants from entering the U.S. based on their religion unless there is a statutory basis for such an action. The bill also imposes other restrictions on the President’s 212(f) authority to restrict groups of immigrants.

Sponsored by Representative Judy Chu (D-California) (159 cosponsors — 159 Democrats, 0 Republicans)

02/25/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Chu

02/25/2021 Referred to the House Committees on Homeland Security, Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and the Judiciary

04/21/2021 Passed the House by a vote of 218 to 208.

05/27/2021 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Coons

H.R. 1573

The Access to Counsel Act

The bill would provide access to legal counsel and other protections to certain individuals who are subject to secondary inspections while seeking to enter the U.S. Only U.S. citizens, green card holders, visa holders, returning asylees, and refugees would be eligible for the protections.

Sponsored by Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) (49 cosponsors — 49 Democrats, 0 Republicans)

03/03/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Jayapal

03/03/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

04/21/2021 Passed the House by a vote of 217 to 207

05/27/2021 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Padilla

H.R. 3374

Kate’s Law

The bill would increase from two to five years the maximum prison term for deported immigrants who return to the U.S. without authorization.

Sponsored by Representative Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) (2 cosponsors — 2 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

05/20/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Brooks

05/20/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 3375

No Sanctuary for Criminals Act

The bill would withhold certain federal grants from jurisdictions that prohibit their officers from cooperating with ICE.

Sponsored by Representative Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) (2 cosponsors — 2 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

05/20/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Brooks

05/20/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 3382

Partner with Korea Act

This bipartisan and bicameral bill would create an allotment of 15,000 E-4 highly skilled work visas for Korean nationals with specialized education and expertise, provided that potential employers can ensure the visa holders are not hired for positions that American workers could fill. The bill is a companion to S. 1861.

Sponsored by Representative Gerald E. Connolly (D-Virginia) (9 cosponsors — 7 Democrats, 2 Republicans)

05/20/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Connolly

05/20/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 3384

End Transfer of Detained Immigrants Act

The bill would prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from transferring immigrant detainees between ICE facilities or to federal, state, and local prisons during the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation also requires that if physical distancing inside ICE facilities is not possible, detained individuals be released to ensure adherence to the CDC prevention guidelines.

Sponsored by Representative Jason Crow (D-Colorado) (2 cosponsors — 2 Democrats, 0 Republicans)

05/20/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Crow

05/20/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 3385

Honoring Our Promises through Expedition [HOPE] for Afghan SIVs Act of 2021

This bipartisan legislation would waive the requirement for Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants to undergo a medical examination while in Afghanistan.

Sponsored by Representative Jason Crow (D-Colorado) (1 cosponsor — 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

05/20/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Crow

05/20/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R.3403

See the Crisis Act

The bill would prevent Vice President Harris from traveling internationally before visiting the border.

Sponsored by Representative Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) (15 cosponsors — 15 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

05/20/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Hinson

05/20/2021 Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform

H.R. 3493

To provide for an extension of the application period for certain aliens present in the United States for adjustment of status.

Sponsored by Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-New York) (1 cosponsor — 1 Democrat, 0 Republicans)

05/25/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Espaillat

05/25/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 3497

To direct the Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlements of the Department of Health and Human Services to establish additional procedures for making placement determinations for all unaccompanied alien children who are in federal custody by reason of their immigration status.

Sponsored by Representative Andrew R. Garbarino (R-New York) (2 cosponsors — 2 Republicans, 0 Democrats.

05/25/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Garbarino

05/25/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 3500

States Have a Say Act

The bill would to prohibit the resettlement of refugees in states that object to such resettlement.

Sponsored by Representative Mark E. Green (R-Tennessee) (0 cosponsors)

05/25/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Green

05/25/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 3503

Repaying the Rural Borderlands Act

The bill would reimburse ranchers, farmers, homeowners, small businesses, and other property owners for the cost of damage or personal harm caused by unauthorized immigrants on or to their property. The legislation would also compensate state and local governments for the cost of feeding, housing, and transporting immigrants upon release from federal custody.

Sponsored by Representative Yvette Herrell (R-New Mexico) (3 cosponsors — 3 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

05/25/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Herrell

05/25/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 3504

Protecting Americans from Foreign Criminals Act

The bill would require comprehensive background checks for all undocumented immigrants who are detained in the U.S. It would also prevent the release of any immigrant prior to the completion of their immigration case if they have any criminal convictions, terrorism, cartel or gang ties, or cannot be properly vetted.

Sponsored by Representative Yvette Herrell (R-New Mexico) (4 cosponsors — 4 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

05/25/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Herrell

05/25/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 3513

Afghan Allies Protection Act

The bipartisan bill would expand and expedite protections for Afghan nationals who assisted U.S. troops. The bill would make an additional 4,000 Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) slots available for SIV holders and eligible applicants from Afghanistan.

Sponsored by Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois) (32 cosponsors — 25 Democrats, 7 Republicans)

05/25/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Kinzinger

05/25/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 3530

To impose a penalty for illegal immigration, and for other purposes.

Sponsored by Representative Troy E. Nehls (R-Texas) (1 cosponsor — 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

05/25/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Nehls

05/25/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 3548

To authorize the issuance of visas and admission of certain aliens, and their derivatives, who were selected to apply for diversity immigrant visas but were unable to be issued such visas or be admitted to the United States as a result of certain Presidential Proclamations.

Sponsored by Representative Ritchie Torres (D-New York) (1 cosponsor — 1 Democrat, 0 Republicans)

05/25/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Torres

05/25/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

The Conrad State 30 & Physician Access Act

The bill would allow international doctors to remain in the U.S. upon completing their residency under the condition they practice in underserved areas, such as rural communities.

Sponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) (7 cosponsors — 4 Republicans, 2 Democrats, 1 Independent)

05/25/2021 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Klobuchar

05/25/2021 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives will not be in session the week of Monday, May 31, 2021.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

There are no upcoming immigration-related hearings or markups currently scheduled in the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives.

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Pentagon Considering Evacuation of Afghan Allies from Afghanistan

According to a May 27 report, officials in the Pentagon have begun planning a potential evacuation of Afghan nationals who face threats of violence to themselves and their families on account of their work supporting U.S. troops, diplomats, and coalition forces. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that it’s “important that we remain faithful” to our Afghan allies to “ensure their protection, and if necessary, get them out of the country.” The Biden administration has not yet publicly announced plans for an evacuation.

The report comes as the Pentagon accelerated plans for U.S. military withdrawal from the country, which is now projected to be completed by early July, months before the initial target of September 11. The accelerated timeline puts Afghans who have supported U.S. presence in the country as interpreters, embassy staff, and security personnel in even greater jeopardy. Some of these individuals can access humanitarian status in the U.S. through the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, but extensive screening and vetting protocols and a lengthy backlog mean that the SIV process takes an average of over three years from start to finish.

On May 19, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and 18 other Senators sent a bipartisan letter calling for the protection of Afghan nationals who have supported U.S. engagement in the country. The Senators called for seven actions to be taken by the Biden administration and Congress, including evacuation options for SIV applicants whose visa claims are still pending. On May 26, a group of former national security officials from prior administrations also sent a letter to the administration urging President Biden to swiftly devise an evacuation strategy for qualifying Afghan allies.

SIVs are available to individuals and their dependents who have worked for at least two years for the U.S. government in Afghanistan, who have received a letter of recommendation from a U.S. citizen supervisor, and who can demonstrate a threat to their life or livelihood on the basis of their assistance to the U.S. government. Approximately 18,000 applicants are currently waiting in the pipeline after receiving initial approval from the State Department and an additional 5,000 are still waiting for initial action on their applications. Including family members and others, the Truman Center estimates there are over 70,000 total U.S. affiliated Afghans in need of protection.

White House Redesignates TPS for Haiti

On May 23, the Biden administration redesignated Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, until November 2022. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the designation is due to deteriorating conditions in the country, including “serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and a lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Haiti was initially designated for TPS in 2010 as a result of the massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck the country that year. In 2018, the Trump administration sought to terminate TPS for Haiti, although the termination has been held up in the courts. An estimated over 100,000 Haitians will be eligible for TPS if they can demonstrate residence in the U.S. prior to May 23, 2021.

On May 25, the Biden administration also opened the registration period for individuals from Burma to apply for Temporary Protected Status. On March 12, DHS had announced a designation of TPS for Burma for 18 months. With the registration period now open, an estimated 1,600 Burmese nationals will be eligible for protection in the U.S.

TPS is granted by the DHS secretary to eligible foreign-born individuals who are unable to return home safely due to violence or other circumstances in their home country.

USCIS Proposes Improved Naturalization Procedures 

According to a May 25 report, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has proposed improvements to the naturalization process to make obtaining citizenship more efficient and accessible for applicants and staff. DHS, which houses the agency, submitted several proposed changes to the White House on April 21, including providing waivers for those who cannot afford naturalization fees, offering additional virtual interviews, promoting online filing for applications, and allowing agency employees to administer the citizenship oath, a power currently reserved for federal judges. These reforms may help the agency expedite the current backlog, which ballooned to more than 700,000 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency also proposed reducing punishments for applicant errors, such as registering to vote before receiving citizenship, an act that under current guidelines can result in deportation and criminal charges.

During her May 26 Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing, Ur Jaddou, the Biden administration’s nominee to lead USCIS, stated that financial reform, reducing backlogs, and improving technology would be her top priorities if she was appointed. In her opening remarks, Jaddou said that the ultimate goal of the agency should be to process applications “fairly, efficiently, and in a humane manner.”

Democratic Senators Urge Recertification of Immigration Judges Union

On May 24, nine Democratic Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging him to recognize and preserve the National Association of Immigration Judges, the union which represents the nation’s immigration judges. The letter comes after the Trump administration moved to decertify the union after clashing with it over a number of issues, including requiring immigration judges to meet annual case quotas and other actions that threatened judicial independence and due process. The Biden administration has yet to take action to recertify the union.

According to the Senators’ letter, the previous administration’s effort to decertify the union was a “deliberate attempt to muzzle immigration judges and stifle opposition to the administration’s anti-immigrant agenda.” The letter requested a response from Attorney General Garland by June 14.

Government Whistleblowers Call for an End to Rapid Border Expulsions

On May 24, two physicians who consult with DHS on migrant detention conditions sent a letter to Congress calling for an end to the Biden administration’s continued use of a pandemic-era rule to expedite border expulsions. Under a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rule called Title 42, authorities are permitted to immediately turn back the majority of migrants arriving at the Southern border, including those seeking humanitarian protection. The whistleblowers — who join an increasing number of high-profile critics of the policy — argued that the use of the policy is encouraging the separation of families and an increase in the arrival of unaccompanied children. “Since unaccompanied minors are exempted from Title 42,” they wrote, “families with children are either remaining in unsafe conditions on the Mexican side of the border, or increasingly, are sending minor children on ahead to cross the border alone.”

On May 25, the Marshall Project released a report highlighting dangers for arriving migrants at the border arising from Title 42. The protocol has resulted in some migrants attempting to cross multiple times in short succession, trying to avoid detection by crossing in increasingly desolate and dangerous border regions. A record number of migrants died attempting to cross the border in the summer of 2020, shortly after Title 42 was first put into place.

In a hearing on May 26, DHS Secretary Mayorkas defended the continued use of Title 42 at the border, stating that “we will no longer rely upon Title 42 when there is no longer a public health imperative basis.”

According to a May 25 report, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is planning to build a new Centralized Processing Center in El Paso, to assist with the processing of migrant children and certain families who are exempted from Title 42.

Watchdog Report: Families Separated During Trump Administration Despite Parents Asking to Be Deported With Children

A May 18 report released by the DHS Office of the Inspector General found that ICE deported at least 348 migrant parents without giving them the option to reunite with their children during the Trump administration. In some of the cases, there is evidence that parents explicitly asked to be reunited with their children and deported together. The report found that flawed record-keeping by ICE officials contributed to some of the involuntary separations. Most of the separations occurred in the summer of 2018 during implementation of the Trump administration’s short-lived “zero tolerance” policy, which resulted in the separation of over 3,000 children from their parents.

Harris Continues Engages in Private Partnerships to Spur Investment in Central America

On May 27, Vice President Kamala Harris announced that the Biden administration had entered into agreements with 12 major companies to further investment in the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The agreements are part of the administration’s efforts to address the root causes of migration to the Southern border, and they include the expansion of internet and banking services to vulnerable populations in the region via partnerships with Microsoft and Mastercard, respectively.

On June 7 and 8, Harris is scheduled to make her first trip abroad as vice president to meet with leaders in Guatemala and Mexico.

Legal

Biden Administration Announces Separate Docket for Immigration Cases of Newly Arriving Migrants

In a joint statement on May 28, DHS and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a new “Designated Docket” process to expedite the immigration court cases of newly arriving migrant families. According to the statement, the process would be designed so that families arriving at the border will “have their cases decided in an orderly, efficient, and fair manner.”

Under the new process, recently arriving families who are apprehended between ports of entry will be placed into the designated docket, where immigration courts in 10 cities will prioritize their cases. Decisions in the expedited docket will generally come within 300 days of an initial hearing, although in certain circumstances this deadline could be extended.

Prior to the implementation of this process, newly arriving migrants who are seeking humanitarian protection have been placed into an immigration court backlog which has risen to over 1.3 million cases. Many asylum seekers are left in limbo for an average of over three years. Docket management tools have been tried by past administrations to respond to increases in migration at the border with limited success, at times resulting in additional backlogs and delays in the immigration court system.

ICE Avoids Precedent by Releasing Those Who Challenge Prolonged Detention

According to a recent study from Tulane University Law School’s Immigration Rights Clinic, detained immigrants who challenge their detention in court are more likely to be released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) than to have a judge rule in their favor. The analysis concludes that ICE is choosing to release the individuals in order to prevent precedent-setting cases that would impact the agency’s ability to detain other migrants for prolonged periods or in substandard conditions.

In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that indefinite detention is unconstitutional, but there have been no clear criteria for determining when a migrant’s detention reaches that standard. The Tulane study based its analysis on 499 federal court petitions by detained migrants in Louisiana. Of the cases analyzed, only five migrants were released as the result of a judge’s order. Conversely, 112 cases ended because ICE released the detainees prior to a decision.

The study names these victories “shadow wins,” to describe how the releases avoid setting legal precedent.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Office of the Inspector General (OIG): ICE Did Not Consistently Provide Separated Migrant Parents the Opportunity to Bring Their Children upon Removal, May 18, 2021

This investigation by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that between July 2017-July 2018, many migrant parents were denied the chance to bring their children along when they were expelled from the country. Nearly 350 parents were removed before Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began to officially document parents’ decisions to agree to allow their children to stay in U.S. OIG further found that ICE removed some parents without their children despite evidence suggesting the parents expressed a desire to bring their children along with them.

Office of the Inspector General (OIG): Summary Report: Persistent Data Issues Hinder DHS Mission, Programs, and Operations, May 24, 2021

In this report, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – Office of the Inspector General (OIG) described and analyzed significant challenges associated with the use of a variety of DHS databases. The report recommends that DHS improve how it collects and manages data across all its entities in order to fulfill its mission to serve and protect the American public. OIG found that data issues resulted in the agency often operating without necessary information for prudent decision-making.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Fact Sheet: Temporary Protected Status

This fact sheet provides an explanation of what Temporary Protected Status is and who is eligible to receive it and includes a summary of how many immigrants living in the U.S. have TPS. The fact sheet also provides an overview of current ongoing litigation and policy changes surrounding TPS.

Fact Sheet: Naturalization

This fact sheet describes naturalization, providing information about lawful permanent residence (LPR) status and the process by which LPRs become naturalized citizens.

Home Health Care Workers: Immigrants Can Help Care for an Aging U.S. Population

This paper discusses the shortage of home health care workers and the role of immigrants in this sector, offering recommendations on how to mitigate against labor shortages and secure the needed home health care services for an aging U.S. population.

* * *

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

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