Legislative Bulletin – Friday, November 1, 2019

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. 2739

Immigration Detainer Enforcement Act

The bill would provide explicit authority to state and/or local law enforcement agencies to maintain individuals in custody in cases in which an immigration detainer has been issued and incentivize cooperation between federal immigration officials and state and/or local law enforcement through the reimbursement of certain detention, technology, and litigation-related costs.

Sponsored by Senator Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) (6 cosponsors – 6 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

10/30/2019 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Tillis

10/30/2019 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 4873

Syrian Partner Protection Act

This bill would extend the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program to cover Syrian Kurdish partners and their families who supported the United States military in the counter-ISIS mission.

Sponsored by Representative Jason Crow (D-Colorado) (5 cosponsors – 2 Republicans, 3 Democrats)

10/28/2019 Introduced in the House by Representative Crow

10/28/2019 Referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary and on Foreign Affairs

H.R. 4890

Veteran Deportation Prevention and Reform Act of 2019

The bill would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Defense (DOD) to jointly establish a program to ensure immigrants in the U.S. Armed Forces and their families obtain U.S. citizenship, establish mechanism to prevent veterans from being deported, improve tracking of veterans in immigration proceedings, and allow certain eligible deported veterans to return to the U.S.

Sponsored by Representative Mark Takano (D-California) (2 cosponsors – 0 Republicans, 2 Democrats)

10/28/2019 Introduced in the House by Representative Takano

10/28/2019 Referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary, Veterans’ Affairs, and Armed Services

H.R. 4916

Farm Workforce Modernization Act

The bill would provide undocumented farmworkers and their families with an opportunity to obtain legal status and eventually U.S. citizenship, reform the H-2A temporary agricultural workers program to address employer and worker concerns, and impose mandatory employment verification (E-Verify) in the agriculture industry.

Sponsored by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-California) (44 cosponsors – 21 Republicans, 23 Democrats)

10/30/2019 Introduced in the House by Representative Lofgren

10/30/2019 Referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary, Ways and Means, Education and Labor, and Financial Services

H.R. 4928

New Deal for New Americans Act

This bill would create a National Office on New Americans to promote immigrant and refugee inclusion and integration, establish a $50 naturalization application fee, create federally funded programs for English-language learning and workforce development for immigrants and refugees, and set U.S. refugee admissions at a minimum of 110,000, among other provisions.

Sponsored by Representative Grace Meng (D-New York) (25 cosponsors – 0 Republicans, 25 Democrats)

10/30/2019 Introduced in the House by Representative Meng

10/30/2019 Referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary, Education and Labor, Administration, Foreign Affairs, and Homeland Security

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, November 4, 2019.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in recess until Tuesday, November 12, 2019.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Business Meeting

The meeting is expected to include a markup of Senator Ron Johnson’s (R-Wisconsin) Securing America’s Borders Act of 2019 (S. 2162).

Date: Wednesday, November 6, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. (Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs)

Location: 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Immigration Raids: Impacts and Aftermath on Mississippi Communities

Date: Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. (House Committee on Homeland Security)

Location: Holmes Hall Auditorium, Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, Mississippi

Witnesses: TBA

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

U.S. and El Salvador Sign Agreements on TPS Wind Down Extension and Border Security

The Trump administration announced on October 28 that it reached a series of collaborative agreements with El Salvador, one of which would allow El Salvadorans with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to remain in the United States for an additional year. TPS was first offered to El Salvador by the Bush administration in 2001, and the status currently protects over 200,000 El Salvadorans from unsafe repatriation. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) typically grants TPS to eligible foreign-born individuals who are unable to return home safely due to conditions or circumstances preventing their country from adequately handling the return.

The Trump administration initially ended TPS protections for natives of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan, but the revocations were halted last year by a federal judge in San Francisco, pending litigation. With an appellate decision coming soon, Trump administration officials have moved forward with plans to deport the affected TPS recipients, initially ordering their return within six months of whenever the judicial injunction is lifted. The new agreement would extend that “wind-down” period for El Salvadorans from six months to one year and would allow them to access work permits until January of 2021. The agreement would not impact any of the other countries affected by the TPS lawsuit.

The new TPS agreement was announced along with a broader package of cooperative border security arrangements, including the deployment of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to advise and assist with El Salvadoran security efforts. The agreements also provided for the collection and sharing of biometric data. The full extent of the information collection and security collaboration between U.S. and El Salvador officials is not yet clear.

White House to Select Wolf as Acting DHS Secretary, May Nominate Morgan for Permanent Position

The White House is reportedly leaning toward appointing Chad Wolf, acting DHS undersecretary for policy, to serve as the next acting DHS secretary and to nominate Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner at CBP, to permanently serve as DHS secretary. President Trump reportedly called Wolf and told him to expect to be appointed soon on an interim basis. Kevin McAleenan, the current acting DHS secretary who submitted his resignation more than three weeks ago, is expected to stay on until November 7. McAleenan said he is willing to remain in the role until a replacement is announced.

The White House is also reportedly weighing legal options that could allow President Trump to change the line of succession at DHS and bypass the Federal Vacancies Reform Act to appoint Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), to serve as acting DHS secretary. The White House Presidential Personnel Office determined on October 18 that Cuccinelli and Morgan do not satisfy the existing legal requirements to be appointed acting secretary under federal law.

Republican lawmakers quickly warned the White House to refrain from installing Cuccinelli as the next acting DHS secretary. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the White House should “consult with the Senate and senators before they take any decisive action that might be embarrassing to Mr. Cuccinelli.” In addition, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) noted that “existing law would not permit” Cuccinelli to lead the department.

White House senior adviser Stephen Miller reportedly supports appointing Wolf as the DHS acting secretary. However, some groups in favor of limiting immigration to the U.S. have expressed concerns about Wolf, in part criticizing his support for the H1-B temporary worker visa program.

Changes in DHS leadership continued this week in other agencies. On October 28, Julie Kirchner, the USCIS ombudsman and a former  leader of an organization favoring lower levels of immigration, offered her resignation, citing personal reasons.

Bipartisan Group Announces Deal on Immigration Agriculture Bill

On October 30, Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-California) and Dan Newhouse (R-Washington) introduced the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 4916), which seeks to reform the process by which foreign workers come to the U.S. to work in agriculture. The bill has broad bipartisan support, with 20 Republican and 24 Democrat co-sponsors. It also has the backing of both farmworker advocates and agricultural employers, which is indicative of the intensive negotiations between representatives from the various groups in the months leading up to the announcement. The Trump administration has not indicated a position on the new legislation.

The act would reform and streamline the existing H-2A temporary agriculture work visa program, adding year-round visas for dairy farmers and extending an additional 40,000 green cards to H-2A visa holders. It would also provide for the legalization of current unauthorized farmworkers, including a pathway to legal permanent resident (LPR) status. Additional H-2A reforms in the bill include provisions protecting workers rights and limiting wage volatility. Finally, the bill would mandate agriculture employers implement an “E-Verify” verification program to ensure their workers are authorized.

The wide-ranging support for the bill represents a rare bipartisan moment in the current Congress.

Border Apprehensions Reached 851,000 in Fiscal Year 2019

CBP announced on October 29 that Border Patrol agents apprehended about 851,000 migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year (FY) 2019, the highest levels since FY 2007 and more than double the number of apprehensions in FY 2018. CBP stated that the number of apprehensions included a “record-breaking” 473,000 migrants traveling as families and 76,000 unaccompanied migrant children (UACs) in FY 2019, which ended on September 30. CBP data also showed a slowing of border apprehensions in recent months, with levels falling for the fourth straight month to 41,000 in September, down 20 percent from August (51,000) and 70 percent from May (133,000).

Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner at CBP, credited the Trump administration’s policies for the decline in border apprehensions over the latter part of FY 2019. The Trump administration has recently implemented multiple policies along the Southern border to attempt to stem the flow of migrants coming to the U.S., including the “Remain in Mexico” policy, asylum-related agreements with the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and a third country transit rule that effectively blocks most Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S.

Trump Administration Piloting Rapid Asylum Review and Deportations

The Trump administration began a pilot program, “Prompt Asylum Case Review,” in the El Paso area on October 7 to speed up the asylum process for certain non-Mexican migrants who are seeking protection in the U.S. Under the pilot program, asylum seekers receive a decision on their request for protection in 10 days or less without going through the formal asylum process. The pilot program provides asylum seekers access to a phone in the first 24 hours to call family members or a lawyer before an initial asylum screening. After 24 hours of detention, asylum seekers receive an interview with an asylum officer to determine whether they have a credible fear of persecution and can stay in the U.S. Immigration lawyers and advocates say the pilot program denies asylum seekers proper due process, because immigration lawyers are not allowed to meet with their clients in person and are limited to brief phone conversations.

The pilot program reportedly applies to individuals subject to the recent interim final rule that bars most migrants traveling to the U.S. Southern land border from seeking asylum unless they are first denied asylum in one of the countries they passed through on their way to the U.S. The rule effectively ends the possibility for Central American asylum seekers to seek asylum in the U.S first.

The launch of the pilot program comes as the Trump administration is preparing to finalize an agreement with Guatemala about returned asylum seekers. DHS officials reportedly plan to start sending Honduran and Salvadoran migrants to Guatemala soon after implementation of the agreement.

Legal

Federal Judge Rules Court Cannot Block Trump Administration from Ending DED Protections

A federal judge ruled on October 29 that the court does not have the authority to require President Trump to maintain Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) protections for Liberians, leaving the estimated 800 to 3,600 DED recipients living in the United States susceptible to deportation once their current protections expire on March 31, 2020. U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Hillman ruled that DED exists at the president’s discretion, stating that it “comes from the executive branch’s constitutional power to conduct foreign affairs . . . a realm entrusted to the President.” Tillman found, as a result, that the courts do not have power to force the executive branch to maintain the protections. Lawyers arguing on behalf of the plaintiffs had claimed the decision to end DED protections for Liberians was motivated by racial animus and is therefore unconstitutional.

DED is a form of temporary relief from removal, which protects individuals living in the U.S. from deportation and allows them to work legally in the U.S. DED is designated for countries are regions facing political or civic conflict or a natural disaster. DED is currently in effect for an estimated 800 to 3,600 Liberians who arrived in the U.S. before or during Liberia’s civil wars from 1989 to 2003. The White House originally indicated it would end DED for Liberians on March 31, 2019 but decided “upon further reflection and review . . . that it is in the foreign policy interest of the United States to extend the wind-down period for an additional 12 months, through March 30, 2020.”

 AILA, Immigrant Rights Groups Challenge Presidential Proclamation on Health Insurance

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and other immigrant rights groups filed a lawsuit on October 30 challenging the Trump administration’s presidential proclamation that would deny U.S. immigrant visas to individuals unless they can prove they have health insurance or can afford to pay for medical care. The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon, claims that the proclamation will prevent up to two-thirds of all future legal immigrants from coming to the U.S. The lawsuit argues that the proclamation “represents an unprecedented abuse of . . . power” and targets immigrant families from specific countries of origin. Under the presidential proclamation, future immigrants must provide proof they have health insurance or can afford to pay for medical care before being issued a visa that could lead to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. The proclamation requires insurance to be provided through employment or purchased individually.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

There were no immigration-related government reports published on the week of Monday, October 28, 2019.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Mexico’s Asylum System Is Inadequate

This analysis provides an overview of the Mexican asylum system and finds that it cannot handle the scope of the humanitarian crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border due to insufficient infrastructure, legal representation and due process. The analysis notes that the U.S. asylum system has more experience handling large numbers of asylum claims and sufficient resources to ensure fair adjudication.

Fact Sheet: Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)

This fact sheet provides general information about Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED), a temporary immigration benefit that allows certain individuals from designated countries and regions facing political or civic conflict and/or natural disasters to stay in the United States.

Fact Sheet: Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

This fact sheet provides an overview of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), including the process for designating a country for TPS, who is eligible, and how many individuals are currently granted TPS.

* * *

*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Christian Penichet-Paul,  Policy and Advocacy Manager at the National Immigration Forum, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Christian can be reached at cpenichetpaul@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.

Learn More

Read more about Legislative Bulletin - Friday, November 15, 2019

Legislative Bulletin

Legislative Bulletin - Friday, November 15, 2019

Read more about Analysis: Executive Order on Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement

Article

Analysis: Executive Order on Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement

Read more about New Report Highlights Innovative Strategies in Workforce Development

Press Release

New Report Highlights Innovative Strategies in Workforce Development