Legislative Bulletin – Friday, September 7, 2018

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. 6696

TPS Extension Act of 2018

This bill would extend Temporary Protection Status (TPS) for all current participating countries through September 15, 2021.

Sponsored by Representative Mike Coffman (R – Colorado) (0 cosponsors)

09/04/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Coffman

09/04/2018 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 6692

Alternatives to Detention Act of 2018

This bill would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to use alternatives to detention for certain vulnerable immigrant populations.

Sponsored by Representative Anthony G. Brown (D – Maryland) (4 cosponsors – 4 Democrats)

08/31/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Brown

08/31/2018 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 6691

Community Safety and Security Act of 2018

This bill would broaden the definition of “crime of violence” to include additional offenses, some of which do not involve violent conduct. The bill, a response to the Supreme Court decision in Dimaya v. Lynch, would impact immigration law, increasing the number of offenses that could lead to an immigrant being subject to mandatory detention or removal, and also impact federal criminal law generally.

Sponsored by Representative Karen C. Handel (R – Georgia) (0 cosponsors)

08/31/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Handel

08/31/2018 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

09/05/2018 Rules Committee Resolution H. Res. 1051 providing for consideration of H.R. 6691 with 1 hour of general debate reported to House.

09/06/2018 Rule H. Res. 1051 passed House

09/07/2018 Passed the House in a 247-152 vote (Roll Call no. 393)

H. Res. 1048

Opposing the targeted Harassment of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officers and Employees and Reaffirming the Fundamental Principle that Public Safety Services Should be Provided without Discrimination

This resolution expresses solidarity with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.

Sponsored by Representative Ralph Norman (R – South Carolina) (4 cosponsors –4 Republicans)08/31/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Norman

08/31/2018 Referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary, Ways and Means, and Homeland Security

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives will be in session from Wednesday, September 12, 2018 through Friday, September 14, 2018.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

There are no immigration-related hearings and markups scheduled for the week of Monday, September 10, 2018.

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Legal

Judge Hanen Declines to Issue Injunction Terminating DACA, Nearly One Year after President Trump Attempted to End It 

Almost exactly one year after President Trump sought to end DACA on September 5, 2017, On August 31, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen denied a request by Texas and six other states to issue a preliminary injunction ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on August 31.

In declining to issue an injunction halting DACA, Hanen held that the states suing to could not show that allowing renewals to continue would cause them irreparable harm. While Hanen questioned the legality of DACA, reiterating his belief that DACA is unconstitutional, he argued that more harm would be done to DACA recipients if DACA was immediately blocked through a preliminary injunction. Noting that the plaintiff states waited six years to bring suit, Hanen argued that “the egg has been scrambled. To try to put it back in the shell with only a preliminary injunction record…does not make sense nor serve the best interests of this country.”

Hanen, who has been openly critical of DACA and blocked Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) in 2015 took the unusual step of issuing a second order on August 31 providing Texas permission to appeal his ruling denying the a preliminary injunction. Hanen gave the parties three weeks to figure out next steps before the case moves to its next phase. MALDEF, representing individual DACA recipients in the case, said it expects the state plaintiffs to appeal the decision.

Had Hanen issued a preliminary injunction halting DACA, as some expected he would, he would have triggered a conflict with multiple other federal court decisions that ordered the Trump administration to continue to process DACA renewal applications, having found the Trump administration’s September 2017 rescission of DACA to be improper.

Federal

Trump Administration Releases Proposed Regulations that Would Permit Indefinite Family Detention; 416 Children Remain Separated

On September 7, the Trump administration published proposed regulations that would permit indefinite family detention, eliminating protections the federal government agreed to in the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement. Contrary to federal court rulings that barred the long-term incarceration of children in immigration detention and declined to modify the Flores Agreement to permit family detention, the regulations would permit children to be held with their parents during the pendency of immigration proceedings, which can take several months, if not longer.

The Trump administration is proposing the regulations under a 2001 Stipulation to the Flores Agreement, which terminates the agreement following the promulgation of final regulations “implementing” the agreement. The Trump administration asserts that the proposed regulations are consistent with the “substantive and underlying purpose of” the Flores Agreement, but acknowledged the previous court rulings rejecting the use of family detention or otherwise undermined the several of the rationales behind the proposed regulations.

In addition to permitting indefinite family detention, the rule would end existing Flores requirements that facilities holding immigrant children, including family detention facilities, be state-licensed, creating a new alternative federal licensing scheme. The regulations would also limit who can qualify as an unaccompanied child (UAC), removing protections for some juveniles who no longer qualify as UACs, such as those whose parents are already in the United States.

Advocates have criticized the proposed regulations for undermining important child protections and departing from the requirements of the Flores Agreement. The regulations are likely to be challenged in federal court, although the use of the rulemaking process affords the administration with a greater likelihood of prevailing than previous efforts to modify the agreement through the courts.

In the meantime, more than 400 immigrant children remain separated from their parents after a federal court ordered the administration to reunify families by late July. More than 300 of these children, representing about three-quarters of the remaining separated population, have parents who have been deported. In a letter sent on Monday, September 4, 2018, a group of House Democrats urged the administration to prepare a plan for reunification of all remaining families.

House Passes Bill to Reverse Supreme Court’s Dimaya v. Sessions Decision

On September 7, the House of Representatives passed the Community Safety and Security Act of 2018, H.R. 6691, which seeks to broaden the definition of “crime of violence” under federal law, by a 247-152 margin.

The bill, which was introduced by Representative Karen C. Handel (R – Georgia), would specify offenses constituting “crimes of violence” in an effort to reverse the recent Supreme Court decision in Dimaya v. Lynch. In doing so, the bill would categorize a number of offenses that do not necessarily involve violent conduct as “crimes of violence.” This bill would impact immigration law, increasing the number of offenses that could lead to an immigrant being subject to mandatory detention or removal, and also impact federal criminal law generally

Following the vote, President Trump tweeted in support of the bill and criticized House Democrats, the majority of whom opposed the bill. The bill faced opposition from a cross-section of immigration, criminal justice reform, and civil rights organizations, as well as libertarian Republicans in the House Liberty Caucus.

Immigrants Drop Out of Nutrition Programs Fearing Immigration Penalties

According to a report in Politico, agencies in at least 18 states reported major reductions in enrollment in federal nutrition programs following reports that the Trump administration plans to penalize immigrants whose family members legally use certain federal benefits.  The state agencies have reported reductions of up to 20 percent in Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) enrollment. Almost half of all infants born in the United States receive WIC benefits, including credits for staple foods and baby formula. The overwhelming majority of babies receiving benefits are U.S. citizens.

The Trump administration is reportedly preparing to issue a proposed rule that would penalize immigrants who receive or whose family members receive any of a large number of public benefits. While the proposal has not been finalized and has not been released, it is expected to require U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) officers to use stricter rules when determining whether the applicant can be considered or is likely to become a “public charge,” and subsequently barred from receiving certain visas or (potentially) permanent residency. The term “public charge” has traditionally been defined fairly narrowly, referring to an individual who is dependent on government assistance and current guidelines focus on those who receive cash welfare payments. Under the proposed rule, noncitizens – including those here legally – would face negative immigration consequences if they or their family members accept almost any form of governmental assistance, including health insurance subsidies, food stamps, certain tax credits, and other “non-cash” public benefits.

The sudden reduction in WIC enrollment is seen as the result of growing fear among immigrant population that many may suffer significant immigration consequences if they or their family members receive these types of federal benefits, including being unable to apply for a green card or adjust their immigration status. Public health advocates have expressed concerns that the policy change, which has not yet been formally announced, will harm pregnant women and infants and potentially lead to increased medical costs.

State & Local

Immigration Enforcement Continues Increasing with Businesses Facing Additional Scrutiny

According to new data from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immigration enforcement by the Trump administration continued to increase during the first three quarters of 2018, with almost 120,000 arrests and 191,500 removals. Although the administration has claimed to focus its enforcement activity on undocumented individuals with criminal backgrounds, a large proportion of the increase in overall arrests were among individuals with no prior criminal convictions, which grew from 24,000 in the same time period in 2017 to 40,000 in 2018.

Worksite enforcement appears to be a growing focus of the administration, with a number of high-profile immigration raids targeting businesses that employ undocumented workers seem to be the new focus of the administration. On August 28, ICE targeted a Texas manufacturing plant, arresting 160 undocumented immigrants in one of the largest raids in a decade. On September 6, ICE agents investigated a dairy farm in Iowa after receiving intelligence that the man charged with Mollie Tibbetts’ death worked there under a false name.

Texas Halts Education Funding for Detained Immigrant Children

According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) is telling school districts and charter schools in Texas that state funding can no longer be used to fund will no longer provide  funding to educate immigrant kids in  immigration detention. In an August 31 letter to superintendents statewide, TEA, Which is responsible for primary and secondary public education in the state, declared that any services provided by the state to these migrant children must be funded through contracts with the federal government or migrant shelter operators. The letter asserts that it should be the federal government’s responsibility to provide such funding. Schools are permitted to voluntarily provide services to shelters holding children, but will not receive state funds to do so.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requires migrant shelters to educate children at least six hours on weekdays and provide them with special education services such as ESL classes. Although Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) provides certain financial aid to meet this requirement, the shelters often rely on additional resources from their districts. After receiving the notification, some districts immediately ended their partnership with local shelters. In a letter sent to Texas officials in June, the Texas State Teachers Association had urged the government to develop and fund an education scheme for increasing number of detained migrant children.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Congressional Research Service: The “Flores Settlement” and Alien Families Apprehended at the U.S. Border: Frequently Asked Questions, August 28, 2018 (by Sarah Herman Peck and Ben Harrington)

This report seeks to answer legal questions about the Flores Settlement Agreement and its impact on the detention of immigrant families apprehended at the U.S. Southern border. Among other things, the report specifically addresses background of the Flores litigation, how the settlement restricts DHS’s authority to keep families in civil immigration detention, the executive branch’s policy options for detaining or releasing these families and the extent to which either the executive branch or Congress can override or modify the terms of the Flores Settlement.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

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.

Education Sector: Immigrants are Indispensable to U.S. Workforce

This fact sheet focuses on immigrants in the U.S. education sector, highlighting key facts about their demographics, income, and contribution. It is a part of a series of infographics that can be found here.

Immigrants as Economic Contributors: Immigrant Tax Contributions and Spending Power

This report highlights the role immigrants play in covering costs of public services at the local, state, and federal level, and how their spending contributes to the U.S. economy.

* * *

*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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