Legislative Bulletin – Friday, November 16, 2018



S. 3624

Families Not Facilities Act

This bill seeks to reduce U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) ability to use information gathered while resettling unaccompanied immigrant children (UACs) to take enforcement actions against individuals in the prospective sponsors’ households. It would also redirect ICE funding to programs meant to enhance safety and welfare of UACs.

Sponsored by Senator Kamala Harris (D – California) (9 cosponsors – 8 Democrats, 1 Independent)

11/14/2018 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Harris

11/14/2018 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 7132

Strengthening America’s Public Schools Through Promoting Foreign Investment Act

This bill would permit immigrants who enter the U.S. on valid visas as nonimmigrant elementary and secondary school students to attend U.S. public schools for longer than 1 year if they reimburse the local educational agency that administers the school for the full, unsubsidized per capita cost of providing education at such school for the period of the immigrant’s attendance.

Sponsored by Representative Peter Welch (D – Vermont) (0 cosponsors)

11/14/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Welch

11/14/2018 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary


Calling on the President to resume the interpretation of section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution as originally intended and applied as law for a century

This resolution calls for end of birthright citizenship. It would call on the administration to reinterpret the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause to exclude the children of the undocumented, a departure from longstanding precedent.

Sponsored by Representative Brian Babin (R – Texas) (0 cosponsors)

11/13/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Babin

11/13/2018 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary


The U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives are out of session the week of Monday, November 19, 2018.


There are no immigration-related hearings or markups scheduled for the week of Monday, November 19, 2018.



Congress Mulls Border Wall Funding, Potential Immigration Compromise

On November 14, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D – New York) stated that negotiations to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies would move forward as long as President Trump does not interfere. Schumer said that lawmakers should “stick with their agreement” to provide $1.6 billion in border wall funding as part of the spending bill, which would fund DHS and the other federal agencies for the remaining months of fiscal year (FY) 2019. However, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R – Kentucky) said in October he would try to seek $5 billion in border wall funding, the amount approved by the House Appropriations Committee. Since then, President Trump and some Republican lawmakers have continued to try to increase border wall funding in the lame duck session before control of the House switches to the Democrats.

Previously, on November 11, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said that he is open to additional funding for physical barriers along the Southern border as part of a compromise with Republican lawmakers on immigration reform, but noted that if the deal is “wall or nothing” Republicans will “get nothing.” Last week, President Trump mentioned that he hopes to work with Congress to fully fund a wall along the Southern border and expressed some openness to “really do something having to do with DACA.”

If Congress does not reach a spending deal by December 7, when funding for DHS and other federal agencies is set to expire, the government could face a partial shutdown.

Federal Judge Schedules Hearing for Case Challenging Trump’s Asylum Policy

A federal judge in California will hear arguments in a case challenging President Trump’s proclamation limiting access to asylum for migrants who crossed the U.S. border between ports of entry without proper documentation on November 19.. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the policy, arguing that the policy is in violation of U.S. law and international treaties that permit anyone in the U.S. to request asylum, regardless of how and where they crossed the border. The ACLU has also requested that the court enjoin changes in asylum process while the litigation process is ongoing, meaning that the Monday hearing could result in temporary injunction halting implementation of the order.

The President’s proclamation purports to  target asylum seekers traveling with the Central American caravan. While the first few hundreds of migrants from the caravan have reportedly arrived in Tijuana, most of the migrants remain about 1,100 miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border. Also in response to the caravan, the Trump administration deployed up to 8,000 U.S. troops to the border to supplement U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The administration has faced criticism that the administration’s response to the caravan was a pre-election ploy, with several commentators noting that the president has largely stopped talking about the caravan after the election.

Trump’s Pick for ICE Assistant Director Doesn’t Rule Out Further Family Separations

In his November 15 confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) nominee Ronald Vitiello didn’t foreclose separating families in the future. When asked about family separations, Vitiello didn’t stated that the Trump administration could resume the “zero tolerance” policy that drove the separations in the future, saying that the policy was a way to deter migrants from coming to the border.

In his hearing, Vitiello, who is currently serving as the acting director of ICE, underlined that ICE’s priority is deporting criminals and defended the agency against calls to abolish it. Before joining ICE, he served as acting Deputy Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Washington Post: Trump Plans to Replace Nielsen at DHS

According to a report in the Washington Post, President Trump is planning on terminating DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in the coming weeks. Nielsen was scrutinized by Congress for her management of the zero-tolerance policy, but according to the report, Trump has grown frustrated by the increase in arrests along the border and other setbacks. Analysts have noted that Nielsen has been placed in a difficult position by failing to achieve outcomes that are often unrealistic or impossible.

Nielsen was confirmed as secretary less than a year ago to replace John Kelly who became the president’s Chief of Staff. She previously served as Kelly’s chief of staff when he was the DHS secretary and in the George W. Bush administration handling disaster-management response. Reports have also surfaced that Kelly is likely to resign after Nielsen is replaced. On November 7, Trump requested and received the resignation of former attorney general Jeff Sessions.

October CBP Arrests Highest Since Trump Took Office

The number of people arrested along the U.S. Southern border climbed to the highest level of the Trump presidency in October. CBP arrested 60,745 individuals, out of which nearly 54 percent were families and unaccompanied immigrant children (UACs). The October total represents almost 17-percent increase from the previous month and the highest number since November 2016, when the figure reached 63,218. At the same time, the Border Patrol apprehended a record number of individuals traveling with a family member. The agents arrested 23,121 families between ports of entry in October.

Number of Immigrants in ICE Detention Hits Record High in FY18

ICE has held reportedly an average of over 42,000 individuals in immigration detention every day in fiscal year (FY) 2018, the most since  authorities under the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service that was previously responsible for handling detentions started to track the data in 2001. Over the course of the year, the monthly averages ranged from slightly over 39,000 seen in October 2017 to nearly 44,700 reached in June 2018. DHS came under scrutiny in September after it reportedly transferred almost $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to finance ICE immigration detention centers and removal operations. The increase in detention levels has occurred even though alternatives to detention (ATD) programs represent a cheaper alternative to detention. In June, the DHS Inspector General released a report criticizing ICE detention facilities for having unsanitary and inadequate conditions.


Congressional Research Service (CRS): Federal District Court Enjoins the Department of Homeland Security from Terminating Temporary Protected Status, November 9, 2018 (by Hillel R. Smith)

This report examines and analyzes the federal district court’s preliminary injunction issued in the Ramos v. Nielsen case, which enjoined DHS from terminating the temporary protected status (TPS) designations for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador. In the lawsuit, nine TPS beneficiaries and their five U.S. citizen children challenged the department’s decisions to end TPS designations for the four countries.


Border Security Along the Southwest Border: Fact Sheet

This fact sheet provides an overview of border security resources and migration trends along America’s Southwest border.

Infographic: Alternatives to Detention

This infographic shows that ATDs represent just a fraction of the cost of detention while continuing to ensure that upwards of 95 percent of individuals on ATDs attend required immigration hearings and appointments.

Comments on DHS Public Charge Rule

Those wishing to make public comments on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) proposed regulations that would redefine the meaning of the legal term “public charge” may do so through the National Immigration Forum’s Legislative Action Center. The proposed regulations would redefine “public charge” to reject immigrants applying for an immigrant visa (green card) or a temporary visa if they have previously accessed or are deemed likely to rely on certain forms of public assistance in the future.


* * *

*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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