Welcome to the National Immigration Forum’s weekly bulletin! Every Friday, our policy team rounds up key developments around immigration policy in Washington and across the country. The bulletin includes items on the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, as well as some coverage at the state and local levels.
Here’s a breakdown of the bulletin’s sections:
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
It can be challenging to keep up with the constant barrage of proposed legislation in Congress. So, every week, we round up new bills. This list includes federal legislative proposals that have recently been introduced and that are relevant to immigration policy.
Please follow this link to find new relevant bills, as well as proposed legislation from past weeks.
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
Here, we round up congressional hearings and markups happening in the field or in Washington.
Evaluating High-Risk Security Vulnerabilities at our Nation’s Ports
Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. EST (House Committee on Homeland Security)
Location: 310 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
Rear Admiral Wayne R. Arguin Jr., Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, U.S. Coast Guard
Eric Goldstein, Executive Assistant Director for Cybersecurity, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
DEVELOPMENTS IN IMMIGRATION THIS WEEK
Immigration policy is a dynamic field subject to constant change. Here, we summarize some of the most important recent developments in immigration policy on the federal, legal, state, and local levels.
Content warning: This section sometimes includes events and information that can prove disturbing.
The Biden Administration Prepares for Planned End of Title 42 on May 11
On May 2, news broke that the Biden administration is sending 1,500 more troops to the United States-Mexico border — in addition to the 2,500 National Guard members already deployed there — to serve in support roles amid the planned end of the Title 42 public health order.
The additional deployment will last 90 days, during which military personnel will assist the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with ground-based detection and monitoring, warehouse support, data entry, and other activities. However, the troops will not partake in direct law enforcement, officials said.
This move comes as the Biden administration braces for an anticipated increase in migrants and asylum seekers at the U.S.’s southern border on and after May 11, when the pandemic-era Title 42 policy that has allowed officials to quickly expel migrants without the chance to seek asylum is finally expected to expire.
Last week, DHS and the Department of State unveiled a sweeping plan to address this likely uptick in humanitarian migration. The announcement included a series of carrots and sticks meant to broaden access and eligibility for more orderly lawful immigration pathways while simultaneously cracking down on those who try to cross into the U.S. without authorization — even if they’re doing so to ask for asylum.
On the enforcement side, the White House announced on Tuesday that “Mexico will continue to accept back migrants on humanitarian grounds,” which in practice means that the Mexican government will receive non-Mexicans deported from the U.S. The agreement opens the door for the U.S. to continue removing nationalities such as Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and Haitians, who — for diplomatic and other reasons — are more difficult to return to their countries of origin.
In a “Meet the Press” interview on Sunday, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas also asked Congress for support and spotlighted the need for additional resources at the southern border.
“Remember, the resources will enable us to move more quickly, more efficiently within a broken immigration system,” Mayorkas said. “So I just want to be clear that we are working within significant constraints. We need people. We need technology. We need facilities. We need transportation resources. All of the elements of addressing the needs of a large population of people arriving irregularly at our southern border.”
House GOP Introduces Border Bill, With A Vote Likely Next Week
On May 2, House Republicans officially introduced their expansive border security and immigration package, the Secure the Border Act of 2023, which takes an enforcement-only approach to the U.S.’s migration-related challenges.
The package is a combination of the Border Security and Enforcement Act of 2023 out of the House Judiciary Committee and the Border Reinforcement Act of 2023 out of the House Homeland Security Committee. In addition, it includes the Regional Immigration and Diplomacy Enforcement (RIDE) Act, a bill that would authorize the Secretary of State to negotiate regional immigration agreements under specific conditions.
Taken together, the package’s far-reaching provisions would significantly limit access and eligibility for asylum, curtail other existing humanitarian pathways, require all U.S. employers to verify potential workers’ immigration status, criminalize visa overstays, restart border wall construction, and roll back safeguards for migrant children, among other noteworthy reforms.
The Secure the Border Act of 2023, led by Reps. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Florida) and Tom McClintock (R-California), is expected to receive a vote on the House floor as early as next week. In the Senate, some lawmakers are heralding the House bill as “something we can build on” while they recommit to efforts for bipartisan reform. Others, however, recognize that the proposed legislation is inhumane as it stands now.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) described a long-awaited immigration package as “a high-wire act,” while also emphasizing that it was “the only path forward.”
Meanwhile, in the short term, Sens. Krysten Sinema (I-Arizona) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) are pitching a legislated two-year extension of migrant expulsions from the U.S., in a bill that goes beyond even the severe restrictions imposed by Title 42.
Report: Biden Administration Extends Parole Protections for Afghans
Starting in June, the Biden administration will allow Afghans brought to the U.S. after the Taliban’s takeover to request renewal of their parole status — which has let them live and work here legally, but only temporarily.
That decision comes amid inaction in Congress to provide tens of thousands of Afghan evacuees with a more permanent solution and a pathway to U.S. citizenship. It also closely follows similar relief that was extended to Ukrainians whose legal status was set to expire earlier this year.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) — the federal agency in charge of immigration benefits — will reportedly establish five or more support centers across the country to link up Afghans with social services and attorneys, who can help them renew their parole and apply for other forms of immigration relief, including asylum. The first support center will be in Phoenix, Arizona, per DHS.
H-1B Visa Lottery Primed for Reform After Reports of Multiple Entries
Possible reform could be on the way for the H-1B visa lottery, after revelations that a small number of companies colluded to enter the same applicants multiple times in order to increase their prospective hires’ chances of winning a visa.
According to USCIS, registrations for the H-1B visa, which allows high-skilled professionals from abroad to work in the U.S., reached a record high for fiscal year 2024, and these multiple entries are partly responsible.
In response, the government is considering raising the registration fee and writing regulations to further preempt the system’s misuse.
The H-1B program has maintained a limit of 85,000 visas per year since 2004, despite the U.S. economy doubling in size since then. And USCIS data show that over 75% of registrations would have been rejected due to the low annual limit, even if those with duplicate registrations were excluded from the lottery.
According to Stuart Anderson of the National Foundation for American Policy, H-1B limits and the declining percentage of eligible lottery applications being approved pose a serious issue for U.S. competitiveness.
The U.S. Resettled Over 6,000 Refugees in both March and April of FY 2023
The United States resettled 6,394 refugees in April, a 4% increase over the 6,122 refugees resettled in March — a promising sign for the U.S. refugee program.
Seven months into fiscal year 2023, the U.S. has resettled 24,823 refugees out of President Joe Biden’s annual determination of 125,000. At the current rate, the U.S. is on target to resettle approximately 42,554 refugees this fiscal year. Or, if officials were to resettle 6,394 refugees for the next five months, the U.S. would instead welcome 56,793 refugees in fiscal year 2023 — a major improvement over the past five years, but still far short of the cap set by the Biden administration.
To achieve the goal of 125,000 refugees in fiscal year 2023, the U.S. would now need to resettle 20,035 refugees every month for the next five months. Such a high monthly goal has not been achieved in the past 20 years of U.S. refugee resettlement, let alone consecutively over an extended period of time.
Report: Migrants Granted Humanitarian Parole Likely Filling Critical U.S. Labor Shortages
A new FWD.us-George Mason University study finds that increasing immigration can mitigate inflation by addressing U.S. labor shortages and an aging population.
The report attributes the rise in inflation in part to a tightening labor market caused by the relocation of remote-workers to areas with labor shortages, coupled with unwontedly low immigration rates due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And, according to the study, recent immigration actions may provide a limited preview of how increased immigration could help fight inflation.
Since the start of the Biden administration, hundreds of thousands of people have been granted humanitarian parole to find safety and work legally in the U.S. The new report suggests that this timely increase in immigration coming out of the pandemic has likely helped to address labor shortages.
The researchers write that an estimated 450,000 individuals who were permitted to enter the country via parole in 2021 and 2022 probably ended up working in industries with labor shortages, such as construction and hospitality, that are typically supported by a large number of immigrants. They also suggest that the administration’s new humanitarian parole programs for people from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela may help ease worker shortages — and likely reduce inflation as well.
State and Local
Lawmakers Pass Concerning Florida Legislation, Making the State Less Immigrant-Friendly
On May 2, Florida lawmakers sent a sweeping immigration bill to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’s desk for his signature, despite months of local pushback warning against the proposal’s expected negative consequences for both immigrants and their larger communities.
With limited exceptions, the legislation is largely based on priorities enumerated by DeSantis earlier this year. It would mandate businesses with at least 25 employees to check their workers’ immigration status through the E-Verify system, bar immigrants without legal status from using driver’s licenses issued by other states, and require certain hospitals to ask patients about their immigration status. Plus, it would disallow undocumented professionals from being admitted to practice law in Florida, throwing a wrench in young Floridians’ dreams of representing their own communities.
Originally, the bill also included a broad provision that would have imposed trumped-up criminal penalties on people who transported undocumented immigrants within Florida. But faith leaders reacted by decrying what they saw as an infringement on their religious liberties, given that churches often transport people to doctor’s appointments or worship as part of their ministry, with little regard for someone’s immigration status. After such outspoken criticism, state lawmakers decided to limit the new smuggling penalties to transportation across state lines, into Florida.
Democratic Mayors Spar With Texas, Biden Administration Over Migrant Challenges
Ahead of the anticipated end of the Title 42 public health order, local and state leaders are arguing over who should shoulder the responsibility for migrants and asylum seekers once they arrive in the U.S., as tensions build after more than a year of Republican governors sending newcomers to left-leaning cities and states en masse.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has strongly admonished President Joe Biden — who is otherwise his ally — for not doing enough to expedite asylum seekers’ work authorizations, so they can get to work and not depend so much on the city’s services.
“The issue is not the asylum seekers, the issue is the fact that the national government is not doing its job,” Adams said. He has also accused Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) — one of the politicians sending busloads of migrants to more liberal places in the country’s interior — of specifically targeting cities led by Black mayors.
Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot reached out to Abbott about his plans to continue bussing migrants to her city, in hopes of appealing to his “better nature” and getting him to “stop this inhumane and dangerous action.”
“Some of the individuals you placed on buses were women in active labor, and some were victims of sexual assault. None of these urgent needs were addressed in Texas. Instead, these individuals and families were packed onto buses and shipped across the country like freight without regard to their personal circumstances,” Lightfoot wrote in the letter.
“I know by your actions that you either do not see or do not care about the trauma these migrants have already faced and continue to suffer under the humanitarian crisis you have created,” she continued. “But I beseech you anyway: treat these individuals with the respect and dignity that they deserve.”
Abbott, in turn, responded with his own letter promising to continue sending more busloads of migrants to cities like Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
“If you truly want to ‘work together to find a real solution’ to this border crisis gripping our nation, you must call on the Biden Administration to do its job by securing our border, repelling the illegal immigrants flooding into our communities, classifying the Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, and intercepting the deadly fentanyl that is endangering our country,” Abbott wrote.
Reports by bodies such as the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Research Service, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General provide invaluable information on immigration policy and practice. Here, we give brief summaries of new immigration-related reports, with links to the resources themselves in case you want to learn more.
Congressional Research Service (CRS); Immigration: The U.S. Entry-Exit System; May 2, 2023
This report examines the U.S.’s entry-exit system, which helps identify inadmissible noncitizens, visa overstays, criminals, and terrorists while trying to efficiently process travelers entering and exiting the country.
Office of Inspector General (OIG); Intensifying Conditions at the Southwest Border Are Negatively Impacting CBP and ICE Employees’ Health and Morale; May 3, 2023
This report explores how greater workloads are affecting law enforcement personnel at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), “who feel overworked and unable to perform their primary law enforcement duties.”
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES
The Forum is constantly publishing new policy-focused resources that engage with some of the most topical issues around immigration today. Here are a few that are particularly relevant this week:
This bill summary details H.R.2640, including key provisions from House Republicans’ border package.
This bill summary explains the provisions in the Regional Immigration and Diplomacy Enforcement (RIDE) Act, or H.R. 1690, which was introduced by Rep. Michael T. McCaul (R-Texas).
This resource provides key information about the legislative package Republican lawmakers in Florida introduced on March 7, 2023.
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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.