Legislative Bulletin — Thursday, August 11, 2022

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. 4611

A bill to improve services for trafficking victims by establishing, in Homeland Security Investigations, the Investigators Maintain Purposeful Awareness to Combat Trafficking Trauma Program and the Victim Assistance Program

The bill would establish a Victim Assistance Program within Homeland Security Investigations of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (HIS-ICE) to provide support to individuals impacted by human trafficking. The bill would also make permanent an existing program that ensures the wellbeing of HIS-ICE employees and partners who are exposed to repeated stress and associated trauma through their work in supporting victims and investigating human trafficking crimes.

Sponsored by Senator Gary Peters (D-Michigan) (1 cosponsor— 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

07/26/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Peters

07/26/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

S. 4634

A bill to require the Secretary of Energy to administer polygraph examinations to certain foreign nationals with access to nonpublic areas or information of the National Laboratories

Sponsored by Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) (1 cosponsor— 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

07/26/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Barrasso

07/26/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

S. 4703

Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act

The bill would require the President of the United States to take all necessary actions to prohibit foreign nationals associated with the Chinese Communist Party from purchasing public or private real estate in the U.S.

Sponsored by Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) (2 cosponsors— 2 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

08/02/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Cotton

08/02/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs

S. 4736

Arctic Commitment Act

Among various other provisions, the bill would grant E1 and E2 nonimmigrant status to nationals of Iceland who invest or trade in the United States.

Sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) (1 cosponsor— 1 Independent, 0 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

08/02/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Murkowski

08/02/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

S. 4770

A bill to prohibit any employee or contractor of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Department of Health and Human Services from transporting any alien across State lines for the purpose of procuring an abortion for such alien

Sponsored by Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) (9 cosponsors— 9 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

08/04/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Marshall

08/04/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

S. 4775

A bill to establish and authorize funding for a Border Patrol Reserve

Sponsored by Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) (3 cosponsors— 2 Democrats, 1 Republican)

08/04/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Portman

08/04/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

S. 4787

Afghan Adjustment Act

The bill would allow Afghan evacuees with temporary humanitarian parole protections to apply for permanent status. The bill also requires Afghan evacuees who access the pathway to be vetted according to the same security procedures as those resettled through the U.S. refugee admissions process. In addition, the bill would expand and improve pathways to protection for Afghans left behind and in danger in Afghanistan or neighboring countries.

Sponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) (5 cosponsors— 3 Republicans, 2 Democrats)

08/07/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Klobuchar

08/07/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 8609

To direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish and maintain a ratio of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement prosecutors to immigration judges

Sponsored by Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) (3 cosponsors— 3 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

07/29/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Crenshaw

07/29/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 8629

To remove the requirement to demonstrate residency for eligibility as a nonimmigrant described in section 101(a)(15)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act for certain aliens

Sponsored by Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan) (1 cosponsor— 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

07/29/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Slotkin

07/29/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 8632

To provide that no Federal funds may be used for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Secure Docket Card Program

The bill would prohibit the use federal funds to establish a national I.D. system for undocumented immigrants.

Sponsored by Representative Jefferson Van Drew (R-New Jersey) (12 cosponsors— 12 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

07/29/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Van Drew

07/29/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 8638

To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 with respect to the definition of unaccompanied alien child

Sponsored by Representative Madison Cawthorn (R-North Carolina) (0 cosponsors)

08/02/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Cawthorn

08/02/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and on the Judiciary

H.R. 8640

Reducing Excessive Vetting Authorities to Maintain our Ports (REVAMP) Act

The bill would allow the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to conduct minor repairs at land ports of entry, without involving the General Services Administration (GSA). This is a companion bill of S. 3903.

Sponsored by Representative Tony Gonzalez (R-Texas) (2 cosponsors— 2 Democrats, 0 Republicans)

08/02/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Gonzalez

08/02/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Homeland Security, and Ways and Means

H.R. 8644

Advanced Border Coordination Act

The bill would require DHS to establish at least two additional joint operations centers along the southern border. Joint operations centers are DHS locations that allow federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to work together to address border security and transnational criminal activity. The bill would also require DHS to present an annual report to Congress on the centers’ operational activities and general recommendations for improving coordination across local, state, and federal law enforcement efforts at the border. This is a companion bill of S. 4436.

Sponsored by Representative David Joyce (R-Ohio) (5 cosponsors— 3 Republicans, 2 Democrats)

08/02/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Joyce

08/02/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Ways and Means, Homeland Security, and the Judiciary

H.R. 8685

Afghan Adjustment Act

The bill would allow Afghan evacuees with temporary humanitarian parole protections to apply for permanent status. The bill also requires Afghan evacuees who access the pathway to be vetted according to the same security procedures as those resettled through the U.S. refugee admissions process. In addition, the bill would expand and improve pathways to protection for Afghans left behind and in danger in Afghanistan or neighboring countries.

Sponsored by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) (8 cosponsors— 4 Republicans, 4 Democrats)

08/09/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Blumenauer

08/09/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives will not be in session until Tuesday, September 6, 2022.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

There are no immigration-related hearings scheduled for the next fortnight.

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Introduce Legislation Offering Path to Permanent Status for Afghan Evacuees

On August 9, a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers announced the introduction of the Afghan Adjustment Act, a bill that would provide a path to permanent status to tens of thousands of Afghans who were evacuated to the U.S. following the fall of Kabul in August 2021. The bill also includes provisions to ensure that eligible Afghan evacuees have been subject to a rigorous vetting and screening procedures, and it would improve and expand pathways to protection for those left behind and at risk in Afghanistan.

The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), who was joined by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Chris Coons (D-Delaware), Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). An identical House version of the Afghan Adjustment Act was introduced by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), along with Representatives Peter Meijer (R-Michigan), Jason Crow (D-Colorado), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), Jerrold Nadler (D-New York), Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), Zoe Lofgren (D-California), Fred Upton (R-Michigan), and Scott Peters (D-California).

In the announcement, Senator Klobuchar said that the bill would “help provide these newly arrived Afghans who have sacrificed so much for our country with the legal certainty they deserve as they begin their lives in the U.S.” Senator Blunt added that the bill “maintains a rigorous vetting process” while allowing evacuees the opportunity “to rebuild their lives in America.”

Immigration Enforcement Amendments Voted Down as Senate Approves Inflation Reduction Act

On August 7, the U.S. Senate passed on a 51-50 vote the Inflation Reduction Act (H.R. 5376), a budget reconciliation bill designed to tackle climate change, lower health-care costs, raise taxes on certain corporations, and reduce the federal deficit. The bill, a key priority for Congressional Democrats and the Biden administration, is set to be voted on by the House of Representatives on August 11.

The bill passed the Senate via the budget reconciliation process, which allows Democrats and the Biden administration to avoid a Senate filibuster and pass legislation with a simple majority. One feature of passing legislation via budget reconciliation is a lengthy debate period where rapid-fire votes are held on a series of amendments. Despite several Republican-sponsored immigration amendments receiving votes, all of them were voted down and the Senate-approved Inflation Reduction Act did not include any immigration provisions.

Among the immigration-related amendments that failed to pass was Senator Lankford’s (R-Oklahoma) proposal to codify Title 42 — a pandemic-era immigration policy that allows authorities to turn migrants away at the border — until 120 days after the national COVID-19 public health emergency is terminated. Also, Senator Scott’s (R-Florida) proposal to block the hiring of any new Internal Revenue Service agents until the Border Patrol hired an additional 18,000 agents “over the top” of the agency’s current total of nearly 20,000 agents was also defeated, as was Senator Hagerty’s (R-Tennessee) proposal to eliminate $500 million in the bill for DHS to manage climate-change-related disaster relief and replace it with $440 million for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport and arrest individuals who committed felonies.

Biden Administration to End “Remain in Mexico” Policy Following Supreme Court Decision

On August 8, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would end the implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program. DHS stated that individuals are no longer being newly enrolled into MPP, and individuals currently in MPP in Mexico will be disenrolled when they return for their next scheduled court date. DHS added that individuals disenrolled from MPP would continue their removal proceedings in the United States. In a statement, DHS reiterated that “MPP has endemic flaws, imposes unjustifiable human costs, and pulls resources and personnel away from other priority efforts to secure our border.”

MPP, which the Trump administration implemented in 2019, forced more than 70,000 non-Mexican nationals arriving by land from Mexico to await for the results of their removal proceedings in Mexico. The Biden administration stopped enrollment in MPP in June 2021. However, on August 13, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the termination of MPP violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). Hence, in compliance with court orders, the Biden administration resumed the implementation of MPP on December 6. On December 29, the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to consider its arguments to end MPP after the Fifth Circuit rejected its appeal on December 14.

The U.S. Supreme Court sided 5-4 with the Biden administration, ruling that the government is not required to implement MPP and the policy can be lawfully ended. The case was sent back to the lower courts, and on August 8 a U.S. District Judge lifted his injunction blocking Biden officials from ending the program. After lifting the injunction, the Biden administration has full authority to legally end the program.

Refugee Resettlement in July Marks Highest Number in FY 2022

Refugee resettlement data released on August 5 by the State Department revealed the administration resettled a total of 2,589 refugees, the highest resettlement total of any month in FY 2022 so far, and the second highest resettlement total of President Biden’s entire presidency. With just two months left in the fiscal year, the current resettlement pace would lead to a total of only 21,228 total refugees resettled in FY 2022 — a number that would represent the third lowest total in the history of the resettlement program and one that is far below the refugee ceiling the administration set at 125,000 last fall.

July’s resettlement increase was driven largely by a continued increase in refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The U.S. resettled 1,182 Congolese refugees in June, a 32% increase from 808 in June and by far the highest resettlement total of any country of origin for a second consecutive month.

The released data also revealed that the U.S. resettled only 98 Ukrainians in July, down from 142 in June. The United States, however, has already received 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion through pathways other than refugee resettlement. Approximately 47,000 Ukrainians have arrived on temporary or immigrant visas, over 30,000 have arrived under the Uniting for Ukraine parole program; and more than 22,000 were paroled in after arriving along the U.S.-Mexico border. Most of these Ukrainians are on temporary visas or humanitarian parole, neither of which provides a clear path to permanent resettlement.

Biden Administration has Reunited 400 Families Separated at the Border in 2017, 2018

On August 2, the Biden administration reported that its Family Reunification Task Force has so far reunited 400 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 thousands of migrant children from their parents between 2017 and 2018.

According to an August 7 report of The Atlantic, the number of separated children at the border under the zero tolerance policy reached at least 5,569 and the policy impacted at least 1,500 families. However, the exact number of separated children remains unknown due to the lack of precise records from the previous administration. According to the report, approximately 700 families are still waiting to be officially reunited.

On August 1, more than 450 faith leaders and organizations called on Congress and the Biden administration to do more to right the wrongs of family separation and to provide basic services to reunited families.

At Least Five Haitian Migrants Drown Near Puerto Rico

On July 28, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Coast Guard reported the death of five Haitian migrants and the rescue of 68 people after smugglers dropped the group near the shores of Mona Island in Puerto Rico. The tragedy comes amid an increase in irregular maritime migration to the United States. According to a May 25 Migration Policy Institute report, during the first seven months of Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, the U.S. Coast Guard interdicted more than 4,400 Haitians – more than any full fiscal year since 1994. The report also notes that the Coast Guard interdicted nearly 2,000 Cubans at sea in the same period, more than any fiscal year since 2016 and putting this year on track to be the second highest year of Cuban interdictions since 1994.

In a statement, a CBP official highlighted that “transnational criminal organizations continue to recklessly endanger the lives of individuals they smuggle for their own financial gain with no regard for human life.” The official added that “smuggling organizations are abandoning migrants in remote and dangerous areas, leading to a rise in the number of rescues but also tragically a rise in the number of deaths.”

Legal

Federal District Court in Brooklyn Denies Relief for Dreamers Whose DACA Applications Are in Limbo

On August 3, a District Court judge in the Eastern District of New York denied the request of Dreamers who asked the court to reconsider the status of their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications. The case, Batalla Vidal v. Mayorkas, stems from a July 16, 2021, ruling from District Court Judge Andrew Hanen in which he held that DACA was unlawful, granted a permanent injunction vacating the original 2012 DACA memorandum, and prevented USCIS from approving new DACA applications. As a result of this decision, the Biden administration has refused to grant protections to those with pending first-time DACA applications at the time of the ruling, as well as those who have refiled for DACA after their initial DACA protections have lapsed.

In Batalla Vidal v. Mayorkas, a group of these Dreamers argued that the Biden administration has gone beyond the requirements of the Texas court ruling to interpret their applications as “new” applications. The plaintiffs — many of whom paid $495 in application fees to USCIS and have not received a refund — argue that Judge Hanen did not specify what should happen to applications already received or to reapplications after protections have lapsed, and, therefore, their applications should be excluded from the ruling.

According to a June 7 Bloomberg Law report, USCIS had around 80,000 pending applications at the moment when Judge Hanen ruled that DACA was unlawful.

State and Local

Department of Defense Denies Request for DC National Guard to Assist with Migrants Bused from Texas and Arizona

On August 5, the Department of Defense denied Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s request for the National Guard to assist with processing and caring for migrants bused from Texas and Arizona. According to recent estimates, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R-Texas) busing initiative has transported over 6,100 migrants from near the border to D.C. and New York City, with Arizona’s similar program transporting at least 1,100 asylum seekers.

According to an NBC News report, Bowser’s request was rejected in part because the city already has sufficient funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that can be used to shelter the migrants and provide necessary resources.

Mayor Bowser has stated she plans to send an amended request to DOD.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General (DHS-OIG)”El Paso Sector Border Patrol Struggled with Prolonged Detention and Consistent Compliance with TEDS Standards;” August 9, 2022

This OIG report finds that during an unannounced visit in October 2021, U.S. Border Patrol in the El Paso Sector held 493 migrants in custody longer than specified in the applicable standards, which generally limit detention in these facilities to 72 hours. The report also found that CBP held some migrants placed for expulsion under Title 42 authorities for longer than 14 days, which is inconsistent with Border Patrol policy. The report also notes that CBP failed to segregate juveniles from unrelated adults or legal guardians in accordance to transport, escort, detention, and search (TEDS) standards.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Bill Summary: The Afghan Adjustment Act

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.

Explainer: The Migrant Protection Protocols

This explainer describes the history and elements of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), commonly known as the Remain-in-Mexico program. Under MPP, certain migrants seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border were returned to Mexico after making an asylum claim in the U.S. and expected to wait near the border for the duration of their immigration proceedings.

Bilateral Labor Agreements: A Beneficial Tool to Expand Pathways to Lawful Work

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 Policy and Advocacy Associate, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Arturo can be reached at acastellanos@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.

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