BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
Assuring that the Fact-Finding Examination Continues to Track (AFFECT) Human Rights in Venezuela Act
Among various other provisions, the bill would authorize the President of the United States to urge the United Nations to address the humanitarian needs of Venezuelan refugees and migrants in third countries through direct assistance.
Sponsored by Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) (3 cosponsors— 2 Republicans, 1 Democrat)
12/05/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Kaine
12/05/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Affordable and Secure Food Act of 2022
The bill would establish a program for immigrant agricultural workers, along with their spouses and minor children, to earn legal status. In addition, the bill would allow farm workers in the program to earn a path to a green card after ten years of agriculture work. The bill would also reform the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Worker program by providing H-2A visas for year-round jobs for the first time, modernizing the application process, creating more wage certainty, and ensuring critical protections for H-2A farm workers. The bill would also establish a mandatory, nationwide electronic verification system for all agricultural employment, with high standards for privacy and accuracy.
Sponsored by Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) (0 cosponsors)
12/15/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Bennet
12/15/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Finance
American Safety and Fairness Through Expedited Removal (SAFER) Act
The bill would subject all undocumented immigrants to expedited removal proceedings regardless of where they are encountered or apprehended.
Sponsored by Representative Pat Fallon (R-Texas) (18 cosponsors— 18 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
12/08/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Fallon
12/08/2022 Referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary
Eradicating Narcotic Drugs and Formulating Effective New Tools to Address National Yearly Losses of Life Act (END FENTANYL Act)
The bill would require the CBP Commissioner to review and update the policies and manuals of the Office of Field Operations to enhance inspection practices at ports of entry to prevent the trafficking of drugs and humans. This is a companion bill of S. 4460.
Sponsored by Representative Michael Guest (R-Mississippi) (1 cosponsor— 1 Democrat, 0 Republicans)
12/08/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Guest
12/08/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Homeland Security and Ways and Means
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives will be in session the week of Monday, December 19, 2022.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
There are no immigration-related hearings scheduled for next week.
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
Negotiations on Dreamer Protection and Border Security Compromise Stall in Congress; Hope Remains for Other Immigration Provisions
After months of negotiation around a potential bipartisan compromise led by Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Arizona) that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for over 2 million Dreamers and allocated billions of dollars for increased border security, multiple sources reported that the bill would not be introduced or move forward this year. Despite support from faith leaders, national security experts, and immigration advocates for the reported framework of the compromise, the negotiations failed to gain enough support to pass in the final weeks of the legislative session.
The text of the framework had reportedly been finalized by December 15, but the leads determined there was not enough time in the legislative calendar to garner the necessary support. According to a December 15 report, Senators Tillis and Sinema are planning to continue to work on the legislation in the next Congress — which begins on January 1, 2023.
The door has not yet been closed on other pieces of immigration legislation this Congres. On December 15, Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) introduced the Affordable and Secure Food Act to reform the agricultural visa system and offer migrant farmworkers a path to permanent residency. The revised legislation is similar to the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which passed the House with bipartisan support in 2021. Specifically, the bill – which has received the endorsement of farmers and farmworker groups – would establish a program for immigrant agricultural workers and their spouses and minor children to earn legal status in the United States. In addition, the bill would allow farm workers in the program to earn a path to a green card after ten years of agriculture work. The bill would also reform the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Worker program by providing H-2A visas for year-round jobs for the first time, modernizing the application process, creating more wage certainty, and ensuring critical protections for H-2A farm workers. The bill would also establish a mandatory, nationwide electronic verification system for all agricultural employment, with high standards for privacy and accuracy.
In addition, on December 13 and 14, the Afghan Adjustment Act received the bipartisan support of four additional cosponsors after updated language in the bill concerning vetting and reporting requirements. The Afghan Adjustment Act would provide a vetting process and a path to permanent status to tens of thousands of Afghans who were evacuated to the U.S. following the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in August 2021.
Over 1,000 Migrants Arrive in El Paso, Texas, as Court-Ordered End of Title 42 Nears
On December 11, a group of over 1,000 migrants – mostly Nicaraguan asylum seekers who are currently not subject to Title 42 expulsions – crossed the Rio Grande border into El Paso, Texas. Their arrival represented one of the largest groups of migrants to cross in a single day to West Texas, where encounters have been rising in recent months: In October alone, the city received over 50,000 migrants. As a consequence, local shelters and immigrant detention centers in El Paso are overwhelmed, leaving many asylum seekers without a roof over their heads.
The El Paso arrivals presaged some of the challenges the Biden administration could face after lifting Title 42 by December 21 as ordered by a District court. Title 42 is a pandemic-era order that both the Trump and Biden administrations have used since March 2020 to rapidly expel arriving migrants without providing them the opportunity to seek asylum. Title 42 has been used over 2.5 million times to expel arriving migrants since the pandemic began. The policy has been used for approximately 35% of arrivals — mostly single adults from Mexico and the Northern Triangle – since July of this year.
In response to the arrivals and in preparation for lifting Title 42 next week, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said that “once the Title 42 order is no longer in place, DHS will process individuals encountered at the border without proper travel documents using its longstanding Title 8 authorities.” Secretary Mayorkas added that under Title 8, migrants could be subject to expedited removal proceedings, which allows DHS to quickly repatriate individuals who do not have a legal basis to stay in the United States. In addition, on December 13, DHS published the framework guiding the administration’s preparations to lift Title 42.
According to multiple sources, the Biden administration is considering new asylum restrictions that might restrict asylum for those who have crossed through third countries where they may have applied for protection. The sources also note the administration is considering programs for a limited group of Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Cubans to apply for humanitarian parole from their home countries.
The US Issued 493,000 Permanent Immigrant Visas in Fiscal Year 2022, a 73% Increase From 2021
On December 14, CBS News published preliminary statistics from the State Department showing that in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, the U.S. issued 493,000 permanent immigrant visas. That number represents a 73% increase from 2021. The tally also represents a 7% increase from 2019 – the last full year before the Covid-19 pandemic.
The report highlights that due to closures of consulates, shutdowns of cities worldwide, and President Trump’s partial bans on immigrant visas, the number of permanent immigrant visas plummeted to 240,526 in 2020. To reverse the decline, the report notes that the State Department hired additional consular officers who reduced the immigrant visa backlog in 2022 by 30%. However, the pending immigrant visa applications remain considerably above pre-pandemic levels. According to the report, 377,953 immigrant visa applicants are currently waiting for an interview at U.S. consulates, compared to the 60,866 pre-pandemic backlog average.
The report notes that the top ten countries whose nationals received immigrant visas in 2022 were Mexico, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, India, Cuba, Vietnam, China, El Salvador, Jamaica, and Bangladesh. The report also clarifies that the State Department visa figures do not include immigrants who gained permanent residency while already living in the U.S., as those cases are adjudicated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In FY 2022, USCIS approved more than 545,000 green card requests from immigrants in the U.S., according to unpublished agency figures.
Secretary Mayorkas Meets with Colombian and Ecuadorian Presidents to Discuss Regional Migration Management
On December 9, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas met in Bogota with Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro to follow up on the commitments adopted last June in the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection. During the meeting, Colombia’s government promised to continue leading regional efforts to reduce irregular migration. Secretary Mayorkas praised Colombia’s government for welcoming and integrating more than 2.4 million Venezuelans who have fled their country in the last decade. He also reiterated the U.S. government’s pledge to spend $376 million in humanitarian assistance for people affected by the Venezuela refugee crisis in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.
The day before, on December 8, Secretary Mayorkas met with Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso to discuss various bilateral issues, including regional migration. During the meeting, Secretary Mayorkas urged Ecuadorian migrants not to put their lives in the hands of smugglers, noting that individuals and families who try to cross into the United States without a legal basis to stay would be removed. In addition, both delegations reiterated their commitment to fulfill the migration commitments adopted as part of the Los Angeles Declaration.
Biden Administration Relaunches Task Force on New Americans to Help Immigrants and Refugees Integrate in the U.S.
On December 13, the Biden administration announced the reconvening of the Task Force on New Americans, an interagency effort to develop a coordinated federal strategy to help new Americans and refugees integrate into their communities. Initially created in the mid-2000s and dissolved during the Trump administration, the task force will focus on workforce training, financial access, and language learning of immigrants. According to the White House, the Task Force on New Americans — overseen by the Domestic Policy Council — will strengthen the civic, economic, and linguistic abilities of immigrants and refugees in the United States to help them contribute fully to our economy.
Biden Administration Announces Availability of Additional H-2B Visas for Fiscal Year 2023
On December 12, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) announced the availability of an additional 64,700 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for fiscal year (FY) 2023. Of the supplemental visas, 44,700 will be available for returning H-2B workers, and the remaining 20,000 will be reserved for nationals of Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. In the announcement, the administration highlighted that the policy was adopted after reaching the 33,000 semiannual cap for the first half of FY 2023 on September 12.
The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire noncitizens to perform nonagricultural temporary labor or services in the United States. Employers seeking H-2B workers must certify there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work for which they seek a prospective foreign worker. In addition, they must certify that employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
USCIS Automatically Extends Green Cards for Certain Naturalization Applicants
On December 9, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated the agency’s policy manual to automatically extend the validity of Permanent Resident Cards — commonly called Green Cards — for 24 months for lawful permanent residents who apply for naturalization after December 12, 2022. In the announcement, USCIS explained that the policy aims to protect naturalization applicants by maintaining their status while waiting for the naturalization process’s culmination.
The announcement came a few days after USCIS reported that 1,023,200 immigrants were naturalized as American citizens in Fiscal Year 2022. Among the total number of naturalizations, 967,400 were immigrant adults, which marked the third-highest annual tally recorded in U.S. history after 1996 and 2008.
District Court in Texas Halts Biden Administration’s Memo that Terminated MPP, But Stops Short of Ordering MPP Reinstatement
On December 15, a District Court in Texas paused the effectiveness of the October 29 memo through which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) terminated the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program. The ruling does not compel the Biden administration to resume placing arriving migrants in MPP. The ruling — which argues the October 29 memo does not satisfy requirements in the Administrative Procedures Act — comes almost six months after the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Biden administration can lawfully end MPP. The case, however, was sent back to the lower courts, where it was expected that the administration’s attempts to end MPP could face additional procedural challenges.
If the administration decides to reimplement MPP, the United States government would have to engage again in diplomatic negotiations with Mexico, whose government announced on October 25 the termination of collaboration on the policy. Moreover, on October 26, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that the Mexican government had failed to publish the guidelines under which migrants expelled under MPP would be received and protected in the country. The ruling forced Mexican authorities to publish those guidelines without delay. Those guidelines still do not exist.
The case, Biden v. Texas, revolved around whether the Biden administration may end MPP under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Texas and Missouri — the states challenging the administration’s efforts to end the policy — argued that the Biden administration is statutorily required to use MPP as long as it does not have the capacity to detain all arriving migrants. The Supreme Court, however, sided with the Biden administration, ruling that the government is not required to implement MPP and the policy can be lawfully ended. Additionally, the Supreme Court noted that the judiciary should not “impose a significant burden on the Executive’s ability to conduct diplomatic negotiations,” and bilateral negotiations with Mexico over its implementation.
19 Republican-Led States Request U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Delay the Lifting of Title 42
On December 12, nineteen Republican-led states filed a request before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to suspend a lower court ruling that ordered the termination of Title 42 border expulsions by December 21. Title 42 is a pandemic-era order that both the Trump and Biden administrations have used since March 2020 to rapidly expel arriving migrants without providing them the opportunity to seek asylum. Title 42 has been used over 2.5 million times to expel arriving migrants since the pandemic began.
In their request, the states argued that Title 42’s cancellation would create an “enormous disaster” along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The case, Huisha-Huisha v. Mayorkas, stems from a lawsuit spearheaded by the ACLU against the Trump administration in 2020 over Title 42 expulsions. After hitting an impasse in negotiations with the Biden administration, the plaintiffs went back to court in July 2021 to seek an immediate termination of the policy. On November 15, a U.S. District Court in D.C. ordered the Biden administration to lift Title 42 because it found it “arbitrary and capricious.” As a consequence, on December 7, the Biden administration also appealed the ruling, arguing that the use of Title 42 was lawful. Unlike the states’ involvement, the administration’s appeal does not seem intended to result in the continued use of Title 42 expulsions immediately after December 21 — but rather the ability to legally use the policy in the future.
Biden Administration Sues Arizona Over Shipping Containers on Mexico Border
On December 14, the U.S. government sued Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) over his construction of a temporary wall of up to 3,000 double-stacked shipping containers along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border. The lawsuit, which was filed by the Department of Justice in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, asks that Arizona be compelled to halt placement and remove the containers in Cochise County, and compensate the U.S. to fix any damage caused along the border.
In the suit, the Biden administration argues that the containers trespass on federal lands and pose operational concerns for the U.S. Forest Service and other federal agencies. The government also contends that the construction of the wall has posed a public safety risk and caused negative environmental impacts, including the degradation of habitats in which endangered species live.
Governor Ducey’s project, which costs $95 million, began in August this year when he issued an executive order instructing the state’s Department of Emergency and Military Affairs to fill in gaps along the border with shipping containers. The order was issued without official permits or authorization.
Ducey rejected the claims made by the U.S. government in its lawsuit but stated that Arizona would help remove the containers, which he alleges were placed as a temporary barrier. The Republican governor has continued carrying out his project in the final weeks before he steps aside for Governor-elect Katie Hobbs on January 5, 2023. Hobbs, a Democrat, has said she opposes the project and is exploring options for removing the containers. Environmental protesters have held up further construction on the wall in recent days.
Congressional Research Service (CRS); Federal Agency Rule Expands Asylum Officers’ Authority; December 9, 2022
This CRS report provides an overview of the interim final rule issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on March 2022, that allows asylum officers within USCIS to determine whether foreign nationals encountered at the border who show a credible fear of persecution or torture may seek asylum and related protections.
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES
The fact sheet describes and visualizes the changing dynamics at the border — particularly concerning the increasing number of Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and Colombians. It also discusses the policy implications of these changes.
This resource provides 42 sustainable, effective border solutions that are not Title 42. The 42 solutions are broken up into three categories — border processes, root causes, and border security.
This explainer describes the elements, policies, likely impact, and some concerns surrounding the Venezuela Parole Program and Title 42 expansion to Venezuelans.
* * *
*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 email@example.com. Thank you.