Legislative Bulletin — Friday, October 29, 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

H.R. 5681

Shadow Wolves Enhancement Act

The bill would allow the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to reclassify technical enforcement officers in tactical units on Tohono O’odham Nation lands as special agents. This would give the officers, commonly known as “Shadow Wolves,” more authority to investigate and track cross-border criminal activity.

Sponsored by Representative John Katko (R-New York) (1 cosponsor — 1 Democrat, 0 Republicans)

10/22/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Katko

10/22/2021 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security

10/26/2021 Reported out of the Committee on Homeland Security by Voice Vote

H.R. 5682

CBP Donations Acceptance Program Reauthorization Act

The bill would provide funding to the Donations Acceptance Program (DAP), which enables Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to create public-private partnerships and receive donations related to the improvement and modernization of ports of entry.

Sponsored by Representative Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-California) (3 cosponsors — 2 Democrats, 1 Republican)

10/22/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Barragan

10/22/2021 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security

10/26/2021 Reported out of the Committee on Homeland Security by Voice Vote

H.R. 5683

Department of Homeland Security Border Support Services Contracts Review Act

The bill calls for additional transparency measures and reporting requirements regarding the procurement of services performed by contractors along the borders of the United States in support of the mission of the Department of Homeland Security.

Sponsored by Representative Kat Cammack (R-Florida) (1 cosponsor — 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

10/22/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Cammack

10/22/2021 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security

10/26/2021 Reported out of the Committee on Homeland Security by Voice Vote

H.R. 5693

Migrant Relocation Transparency Act

The bill would require the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Homeland Security (DHS) to consult with state and local officials in advance of using federal funds to resettle migrants in their jurisdictions. The bill would further require a series of reporting requirements regarding the resettlement and transportation of undocumented individuals to Congress and state governors. The bill is a companion to S. 1865.

Sponsored by Representative Andrew Garbarino (R-New York) (1 cosponsor — 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

10/22/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Garbarino

10/22/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 5700

9/11 Immigrant Worker Freedom Act

The bill would provide a path to citizenship for the approximately 2,000 immigrant workers, volunteers, and first responders who assisted with clean-up and search-and-rescue efforts at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks.

Sponsored by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) (21 cosponsors — 21 Democrats, 0 Republicans)

10/22/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Ocasio-Cortez

10/22/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R 5709

Afghanistan Security Through Intelligence Act

The bill would require the Director of National Intelligence to produce a National Intelligence Estimate on the situation in Afghanistan. The Estimate would include an assessment of the treatment and safe transit of Afghans who have assisted U.S. efforts, including Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders.

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

10/25/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Crow

10/25/2021 Referred to the House Committee on Intelligence

H.R. 5717

Stop the Surge of Unsafe Rio Grande Encampments (SURGE) Act

The bill would create processing facilities in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Delaware, California, and Vermont and relocate unauthorized migrants apprehended in South Texas to the newly established facilities. The bill is a companion to S. 3002.

Sponsored by Representative Ralph Norman (R-South Carolina) (0 cosponsors)

10/25/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Norman

10/25/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 5759

Better Enforcement of Grievous Offenses by un-Naturalized Emigrants (BE GONE) Act

The bill would include “sexual assault and aggravated sexual violence” within the definition of “aggravated felony” in the list of convictions that would disqualify those seeking to immigrate to the U.S. The bill is a companion to S. 2945.

Sponsored by Representative Elise Stefanik (R-New York) (60 cosponsors — 60 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

10/27/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Stefanik

10/27/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

S. 3058

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2022

The bill provides appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year (FY) 2022, including providing revised funding levels for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Sponsored by Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) (0 cosponsors)

10/25/2021 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Murphy

10/25/2021 Referred to the Senate Committee on Appropriations

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives will be in session the week of Monday, November 1, 2021

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

An Oversight Hearing to Examine the Department of Homeland Security

Date: Tuesday, November 16, 2021 at 10:00 am ET (Senate Judiciary Committee)

Location: Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 106

Witnesses:

Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Immigration Provisions Remain Unclear as Democrats Move Closer to a Deal on Reconciliation

On October 28, President Biden announced a $1.85 trillion legislative framework for a potential budget reconciliation bill. The framework included $100 billion to “improve and reform our broken immigration system consistent with the Senate’s reconciliation rules.” The framework also referenced immigration provisions that would make “enhancements to reduce [green card] backlogs, expand legal representation, and make the asylum and border processing more efficient and humane.”

The Senate Parliamentarian, the body’s nonpartisan rules referee, has twice ruled against the inclusion of a path to citizenship in a reconciliation bill. According to multiple reports, Democrats are working to submit their “Plan C” on immigration before the Parliamentarian: An effort to offer parole — or temporary protection from deportation and work authorization — to undocumented individuals who have been in the country since 2010. It is not yet clear whether Democrats will also include provisions to address the green card backlog and related legal immigration reforms in this third submission, or how the Parliamentarian will rule.

The President’s framework came after extensive negotiations with moderate and progressive Democrats in the House and Senate. While the effort was clearly the result of progress in those negotiations, prominent Democrats involved in the talks were unwilling to offer their full endorsement of the framework. As a result, the administration’s hopes that releasing the framework would lead to the swift passage of a separate, bipartisan infrastructure bill were dashed on October 28, as House progressives indicated they would not support infrastructure until more progress was made. The House and Senate instead passed an extension of transportation funding that was set to expire at the end of October.

Should the House move on reconciliation, they are likely to initially vote on a provision to update the registry date to allow certain undocumented individuals who have been in the country since 2010 to adjust to permanent status. However, as this proposal was already rejected by the Parliamentarian, it is understood to be a placeholder while the Parliamentarian prepares to rule on the parole option.

Biden Administration Issues New Memo Terminating Migration Protection Protocols as Court Fight Continues

On October 29, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a new memo terminating the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program. The administration had previously halted enrollment in MPP in January and had officially terminated the program in June through a multi-page memorandum, but in August a federal judge in Texas ruled that the termination violated the Administrative Procedure Act and required the administration to reimplement the program.

The new memo, which is 39 pages long, provides additional rationale for the termination of the program, concluding that “there are inherent problems with the program that no amount of resources can sufficiently fix.” The memo notes further that MPP “fails to provide the fair process and humanitarian protection that all persons deserve.”

On October 14, the Department of Homeland Security detailed its plans to comply with the court order and restart MPP in mid-November, pending agreement from Mexico. The new termination memo concludes that DHS will continue to follow the court’s ruling in good faith and that the “termination of MPP will be implemented as soon as practicable after a final judicial decision to vacate” the court order.

Administration Bars Immigration Enforcement in Schools, Hospitals, and Other “Protected Areas”

On October 27, the Biden Administration issued new guidance that bars immigration enforcement in a series of “protected areas,” including schools, places of worship, and hospitals, as well as playgrounds, funerals, and social service establishments. According to the new policy, which replaces and updates a previous policy governing immigration enforcement in sensitive locations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents will be prohibited from entering the protected areas for the purpose of making arrests, conducting searches, and serving subpoenas. Limited exceptions to the prohibition would be admissible for reasons such as if the enforcement action involves a national security threat or if there is an imminent risk of death, violence, or physical harm to a person.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas stated that immigration authorities must “consider the impact” of where enforcement actions might take place. Mayorkas had previously ended a Trump policy of large-scale immigration raids at worksites.

White House Launches Private Sponsorship Program for Afghan Refugees

On October 25, the U.S. State Department announced it has partnered with a private organization called the Community Sponsorship Hub (CSH) to sponsor recently arrived Afghan evacuees. Under the new initiative, private individuals and community organizations will have the opportunity to privately sponsor recently-arrived Afghans . The initiative, which will be called the Sponsor Circle Program, will allow groups of five or more individuals to assist with providing housing, basic necessities, and employment and school placement assistance to Afghans who have been evacuated to the U.S. Each “circle” will be required to fundraise at least $2,275 per refugee, the same amount of money that refugee resettlement agencies are given by the State Department for basic expenses for each refugees first 90 days in the U.S.

The announcement comes as the administration continues to work to move Afghans swiftly out of military bases in the U.S. and on to communities across the U.S. As of October 27, 53,500 evacuees remain in the military sites, and 10,000 have been resettled across the U.S.

On October 26, the White House also released a statement highlighting how private sector companies have stepped up to assist recently arrived Afghan refugees. For example, multiple airline carriers have partnered to donate over 40,000 airline tickets to  Afghans travelling to the U.S. Other companies such as Walgreens, CVS, and Proctor & Gamble have committed to providing medical and personal hygiene products to Afghans upon their arrival.

Report: ICE Arrest Data Reveals Lowest Total in Years Amid Pandemic, New Enforcement Priorities

According to an October 26 Washington Post report, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made 72,000 immigration arrests during fiscal year (FY) 2021, which ended in September. The number represents the lowest number in over a decade, as arrests have continued a steady decline since peaks reached by the Obama administration. Approximately 104,000 arrests were made in FY 2020 and the 10-year peak of 322,000 arrests were conducted in FY 2011.

The decrease in arrests aligns with lower safe detention capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as with the Biden administration’s focus on apprehending recent border crossers and threats to national and public safety. Around 65% of arrests made in FY 2021 were of convicted criminals or those who had pending criminal cases.

On September 30, DHS released updated enforcement priorities which continue to emphasize threats to national security, public safety, and border security, while increasing the role of enforcement officers to utilize prosecutorial discretion to make individualized assessments of each case.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated, “are we going to spend the time apprehending and removing the farmworker who is breaking his or her back to pick fruit that we all put on our tables? Because if we pursue that individual, we will not be spending those same resources on somebody who does, in fact, threaten our safety. And that is what this is about.”

Migrant Caravan Continues Slowly Towards U.S. as Mexico Deploys National Guard

According to an October 27 report, a group of about 4,000 primarily Central American migrants are making their way slowly on foot towards the U.S. border from Southern Mexico. The group remains close to the Mexico’s southern border, and would need to travel some 1,500 miles to reach the U.S. On October 24, the group was confronted by the Mexican National Guard, and Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said that the government intends to act “prudently” to respond to the caravan. Since 2019, every migrant caravan attempting to make it to the U.S. has been broken up and dissolved by Mexican or Guatemalan authorities, often in brutal fashion.

The caravan in southern Mexico consists largely of families and children. Some said they do not intend to travel all the way to the U.S., and instead are hoping to make it to Mexico City and a faster Mexican asylum process.

Report: Border Patrol Agents Not Held Accountable for Sharing Racist, Offensive Posts About Migrants

According to a House Oversight and Reform Committee majority staff report released on October 25, an investigation into U.S. Border Patrol agents who shared racist and offensive posts about migrants on in a private Facebook group resulted in minimal punishment. In 2019, a ProPublica investigation revealed that 70 current and former Customs and Border Protection (CBP) employees belonged to the group, where members joked about migrant deaths and shared racist and sexist memes.

The House report stated that after a review board recommended that CBP fire 24 agents who were active members of the group, only two were removed from their posts. According to the report, 43 were also temporarily suspended without pay and 12 received formal letters of reprimand. The report further noted that CBP was aware of the social media posts three years before the ProPublica investigation. The report concluded that there are weaknesses in the CBP disciplinary process and that CBP had provided “insufficient social media guidance and training to agents.”

According to a October 26 report, the results of an investigation into images of CBP agents on horseback appearing to use their reins as whips and charging Haitian migrants as they attempted to enter the U.S. have been submitted to the Department of Justice to determine if criminal charges are warranted. The agents involved in the controversial images have not yet been questioned.

Legal

Federal Jury Finds Private Prison Group Must Pay Immigrant Detainees Minimum Wage

On October 27, a federal jury in Seattle ruled that a private prison group must pay minimum wage to detained immigrants. The for-profit prisons in question, run by GEO Group, had required immigrant detainees to perform tasks and duties to keep up the facility, and had paid them $1 a day. The jury will now determine how much the immigrant detainees are owed as a result of being underpaid.

The vast majority of immigration detention facilities in the U.S. are contracted by ICE to private prison groups like GEO Group, CoreCivic, and LaSalle corrections.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

There were no immigration-related government reports from federal agencies released the week of Monday, October 25, 2021.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Explainer: Budget Reconciliation and Immigration Reform

This resource explains the elements, rules, and history of the budget reconciliation process. Congressional Democrats are expected to try to use reconciliation to avoid a Senate filibuster and pass immigration reforms with a simple majority.

Explainer: DHS Immigration Enforcement Guidelines

This is an explainer on the new DHS immigration enforcement priorities issued on September 30. The new guidance provides flexibility to DHS personnel, who are advised to balance aggravating and mitigating factors when making enforcement determinations.

Fact Sheet: Unused Green Card Recapture

This fact sheet explains green card recapture. Every year, the U.S. sets aside a specific number of available green cards for individuals from all around the world. However, over the years, various administrative complications have left hundreds of thousands of green cards unissued. Green card recapture would “recapture” a number of these unused green cards accumulated over the years, relieving the backlog and promoting economic growth.

* * *

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

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