BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
Visitor Visa Wait Time Reduction Act
The bill would require the State Department to outline specific steps to reduce appointment wait times for visitor visas at diplomatic posts where the wait time exceeds 100 days. The bill would also temporarily reassign staff from other State Department offices to diplomatic posts where the wait time for a nonimmigrant visa appointment exceeds 300 days.
Sponsored by Representative Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Florida) (15 cosponsors— 12 Democrats, 3 Republicans)
10/07/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Salazar
10/07/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
Combatting International Drug Trafficking and Human Smuggling Partnership Act of 2022
The bill would grant Customs and Border Protection (CBP) permanent authority to operate in foreign countries.
Sponsored by Representative Michael Guest (R-Mississippi) (1 cosponsor— 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)
10/11/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Guest
10/11/2022 Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday October 17, 2022.
The U.S. House of Representatives will not be in session the week of October 17, 2022.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
Biden Administration Expands Title 42 Expulsions to Venezuelans, Launches Limited Humanitarian Parole Program
On October 12, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced an agreement with Mexico to expand Title 42 expulsions to Venezuelan nationals who arrive at the border. The administration simultaneously announced a new special parole program that would allow 24,000 Venezuelans to enter the country through official land or airports and receive temporary protections.
Title 42 is a pandemic-era order that both the Trump and Biden administrations have been using to rapidly expel arriving migrants to Mexico or their countries of origin without providing them the opportunity to seek asylum under U.S. law. Prior to the DHS announcement, Venezuelan asylum seekers were among the nationalities exempted from Title 42, in part because Mexico had refused to accept them. However, per the DHS announcement, Mexico has now agreed to accept up to 1,000 expelled Venezuelan migrants each day, and 300 Venezuelan migrants were already expelled under Title 42 on October 12. According to most recent data, over 25,000 Venezuelans have been arriving at the border seeking protection each month.
The new parole program — based in part on the Uniting for Ukraine private sponsorship parole program — will allow a U.S.-based individual or organization to sponsor a Venezuelan who wishes to migrate to the U.S. If both parties pass screening and background checks, the migrant would be permitted to fly to the U.S. and enter under humanitarian parole. This status will last for two years and include work authorization. This program is initially capped at 24,000 Venezuelan migrants, although the DHS statement noted it “may consider expanding it in the future.” Those who travel unlawfully into Mexico after the announcement of the program will not be eligible, potentially stranding tens of thousands of vulnerable migrants who were in the midst of the dangerous journey across the Darién gap, into Mexico, and towards the U.S. border.
This plan also provides for enhanced enforcement operations throughout the North American region in attempts to reduce human smuggling and irregular migration, especially in the Darién Gap.
Some Afghan Evacuees Begin Filing for Asylum or SIV Amid Lack of Congressional Action on Adjustment Act
According to an October 10 CBS News report, over 17,400 Afghan evacuees have filed applications for asylum or special immigrant visa (SIV) status amid Congress’ lack of action on the Afghan Adjustment Act. The Afghan Adjustment Act is a bill that would provide a path to permanent status to tens of thousands of Afghans who were evacuated under humanitarian parole to the U.S. following the fall of Kabul in August 2021. The bill, which received a bipartisan introduction in both the House and Senate on August 10, also includes provisions to ensure that eligible Afghan evacuees have been subject to rigorous vetting and screening procedures, and it would improve and expand pathways to protection for those left behind and at risk in Afghanistan.
In the past year, the U.S. military has evacuated over 124,000 people from Afghanistan – including tens of thousands of Afghan allies, refugees, parolees, and their families. Over 70,000 of these evacuees were vetted and then brought to the U.S. under humanitarian parole, which — unlike refugee or asylum status — does not automatically confer a path to a green card or citizenship. Afghan parolees are granted two years of protection from deportation and work authorization but no further access to status.
While many of these evacuees remain stuck in limbo on rapidly-expiring temporary status, a limited number with access to legal counsel have begun the lengthy asylum or SIV application process. These avenues are heavily backlogged and could take several months or years to complete.
Congress has passed adjustment acts in the aftermath of multiple prior evacuations, including for Cubans fleeing the Castro regime in the 1960s, for Vietnamese and South Asian refugees after the fall of Saigon in 1970s, and Iraqis after Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom in the 1990s.
Biden Administration Supplements H-2B Cap with 64,716 Additional Visas for Fiscal Year 2023
On October 12, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of Labor (DOL), announced that it will make available an additional 64,716 H-2B temporary non-agricultural worker visas for fiscal year 2023, on top of the 66,000 normally available. Of the available visas, 20,000 are reserved for nationals of Haiti, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The remaining 44,716 supplemental visas will be available to returning workers who received an H-2B visa, or were otherwise granted H-2B status, during one of the last three fiscal years.
In the announcement, DHS highlighted that the H-2B supplement advances the Biden administration’s pledge under the Los Angeles Declaration for Migration and Protection and its joint commitment with Mexico to expand legal pathways as an alternative to irregular migration.
The H-2B visa program is intended to help American employers fill temporary, non-agricultural positions when there are no sufficient qualified U.S. workers capable of performing the work.
Biden Administration Reports Reunification of 500 Families Separated at the Border in 2017, 2018
On October 7, the Biden administration reported that its Family Reunification Task Force has so far reunited 500 families who were separated under former President Trump’s “zero tolerance” border policy. The zero tolerance policy — which was met with widespread criticism from members of Congress, faith groups, and the general public — resulted in the deliberate separation of at least 5,569 migrant children from their parents between 2017 and 2018, impacting over 1,500 families. However, the exact number of separated children remains unknown due to the lack of precise records from the previous administration.
In a press release, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas stressed that while DHS and the Task Force “take great pride in this accomplishment, we also know that this important work isn’t finished.” Mayorkas also highlighted that “the Task Force continues to identify and engage families who were separated to ensure they are aware of the reunification process and the support the Task Force has arranged.”
Judge Hanen Extends Injunction to New DACA Rule, Protections Remain in Place for Current DACA recipients
On October 14, in the recently remanded case Texas v. U.S., District Judge Andrew Hanen applied an existing injunction against the Biden administration’s new 2022 DACA rule, preventing it from going into effect. Following the lead of the Fifth Circuit, Judge Hanen also made clear that current DACA recipients would continue to be able to maintain and renew their protections and work authorization. Hanen’s decision was issued after meeting with the parties’ attorneys in the case and his application of the existing injunction was agreed to by both parties. DACA is a policy that allows undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as children to stay and work in the U.S.
The case stems from a lawsuit brought by nine Republican-led states, led by Texas, challenging the legality of DACA. On July 16, 2021, Judge Hanen had ruled against the legality of DACA as it was set out under the Obama administration. The decision stopped new and pending applications to the program, but the judge did allow a stay of the ruling for the approximately 600,000 current DACA recipients. To address procedural concerns raised in Judge Hanen’s ruling, on August 24, 2022, DHS announced a final rule that codified a substantively identical version of DACA.
On September 10, 2021, the Department of Justice appealed Judge Hanen’s ruling before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. On October 5, the Fifth Circuit sided with Judge Hanen in ruling against the legality of the DACA program as set out in 2012. The Fifth Circuit declined to rule on the legality of the new DACA program set out in the Biden administration’s 2022 rule, which was set to go into effect October 31. A decision on the lawfulness of the new but substantively similar DACA program was remanded to Judge Hanen, who has now extended an injunction against the rule as he continues his decision.
While the case proceeds before Judge Hanen and likely ultimately before the Supreme Court, DACA recipients remain at risk of losing protections.
State & Local
Sheriff Certifies Migrants Flown to Martha’s Vineyards By Florida Governor Were Victims of a Crime
According to an October 13 report, Sherrif Javier Salazar of Bexar County, Texas, certified that the 48 Venezuelan migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) were victims of a crime. The certification ensures that the migrants will be able to stay in the U.S. to serve as witnesses as criminal proceedings continue, and is a key step towards allowing them to apply for U-visas, which are provided to crime victims or witnesses.
On September 19, Sherrif Salazar opened a criminal investigation into the flights, noting that evidence indicated the migrants had been misled and lured onto the flights under false pretenses by the DeSantis administration. On September 20, the migrants filed a class action lawsuit against Governor DeSantis and other Florida state officials.
New York City Mayor Declares State of Emergency in Response to Increased Number of Migrants Being Bussed to NYC
On October 7, New York City Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency and directed relevant city agencies to coordinate their efforts to respond to the humanitarian crisis arising out of the busing of asylum seekers to the city. According to Mayor Adams, his state of emergency declaration came in response to the more than 17,000 asylum seekers who have been bussed to the city from Texas and Arizona, straining New York’s shelter system. Mayor Adams also called for emergency federal and state aid to handle the continued influx of asylum seekers as the city projects costs of more than $1 billion related to the asylum seekers in this fiscal year.
According to the Mayor, the increasing number of asylum seekers being bused to the city have forced the city government to habilitate 42 hotels as emergency shelters, enroll over 5,500 children in public schools and open a Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center to assist asylum seekers arriving with immediate needs and help them reach their final desired destination.
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES
This explainer provides an overview of the October 6 Fifth Circuit ruling against Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), upholding an earlier decision from U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen that the policy is unlawful.
The bill — which got a bipartisan intro in the House and Senate this week — would provide a path to permanence for Afghan evacuees (and some others). The bill also establishes rigorous vetting and criminal inadmissibility requirements to access this new path and it includes provisions that would improve and expand pathways to protection for those left behind and at risk in Afghanistan.
This paper explores the rationale, benefits, and history of bilateral labor agreements (BLAs) in the United States, including the recent labor mobility discussions with the Mexican government. It also highlights how these agreements can benefit the U.S., as they provide U.S. policymakers more control over the size of the temporary migrant workforce, while prioritizing needed skills and experience. It argues that BLAs are useful in addressing U.S. labor shortages, help manage the irregular migration flow at the U.S. southern border, and reaffirm the United States’ hemispheric leadership.
* * *
*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Arturo Castellanos-Canales, National Immigration Forum Senior Policy and Advocacy Associate, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Arturo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.