Legislative Bulletin — Friday, June 10, 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. 4334

United States-Colombia Bicentennial Alliance Act

The bill, among many other provisions, would prohibit the issuance of any type of visa to any member or leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The bill would also require the State Department to develop and implement a strategy, to be known as the “Colombia Relief and Development Coherence Strategy”, to support Colombia’s refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, vulnerable migrants, and people affected by natural disasters.

Sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) (5 cosponsors— 3 Republicans, 2 Democrats)

05/26/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Menendez

05/26/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

S. 4335

Register America to Vote Act of 2022

The bill, among many other provisions, would protect foreign nationals who were not eligible to vote in federal elections but were automatically registered to vote due to an individual or applicable agency error. Under the bill, such individuals would not be subject to prosecution or the loss of immigration status.

Sponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) (9 cosponsors— 9 Democrats, 0 Republicans)

05/26/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Klobuchar

05/26/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration

H.R. 7892

Prohibition of Agricultural Land for the People’s Republic of China Act

The bill would require the President of the United States to take all necessary actions to prohibit foreign nationals associated with the Chinese government from purchasing public or private agricultural land located in the U.S.

Sponsored by Representative Dan Newhouse (R-Washington) (15 cosponsors— 15  Republicans, 0 Democrats)

05/27/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Newhouse

05/27/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Agriculture and Foreign Affairs

H.R. 7946

Veteran Service Recognition Act of 2022

The bill would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Defense to implement a program that allows non-citizen servicemembers to file for naturalization during basic training, or as early as otherwise possible. The bill would also direct DHS to establish a Military Family Immigration Advisory Committee, which would review the cases of non-citizen veterans and active duty service members in removal proceedings and provide recommendations as to whether prosecutorial discretion is warranted, or whether the removal proceedings should continue. The bill would also provide an opportunity for non-citizen veterans who have been removed or ordered removed and who have not been convicted of serious crimes to apply for and obtain legal permanent resident status in the U.S.

Sponsored by Representative Mark Takano (D-California) (7 cosponsors— 7 Democrats, 0 Republicans)

06/03/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Takano

06/03/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Veterans’ Affairs, Armed Services, and the Judiciary

H.R. 7983

Biometric Verification for Entry and Reconfirming Identity with Forensics Act of 2022 (B-Verify Act)

The bill would require DHS to collect biometric information from foreign nationals who are seeking entry into the United States, apprehended by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), or receiving an immigration benefit. The bill would also require migrant children to undergo a DNA test to confirm familial relationships at the border.

Sponsored by Representative Lance Gooden (R-Texas) (9 cosponsors— 9 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

06/08/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Gooden

06/08/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Homeland Security and the Judiciary

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, June 13, 2022.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, June 13, through Thursday, June 16, 2022.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Hearing: Strengthening our Workforce and Economy through Higher Education and Immigration

Dates: Tuesday, June 14, 2022, at 2:30 pm (Senate Judiciary Committee)

Location: Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 226, Washington, D.C.

Witnesses: TBD

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Summit of the Americas Results in Multilateral Declaration to Protect Migrants

From June 6 through 10, the United States hosted the ninth Summit of the Americas. The summit — which was attended by presidents and prime ministers from most of the 35 nations in the hemisphere — resulted in a unanimous, multilateral migration management agreement titled the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection. The Declaration is organized around four pillars: (1) stability and assistance for communities; (2) expansion of legal pathways; (3) humane migration management; and (4) coordinated emergency response.

Among the commitments reached during the Summit, the Biden administration promised to resettle 20,000 refugees from the Americas during Fiscal Years 2023 to 2024 (the U.S. is currently on track to resettle just 1,944 refugees from the region in FY 2022). The U.S. also pledged more than $314 million in new funding for humanitarian and development assistance for refugees and vulnerable migrants across the hemisphere. The Biden administration also announced the launch of a $65 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pilot program to support U.S. farmers hiring agricultural workers under the H-2A temporary work visa program.

Other multilateral commitments include Canada’s pledge of $26.9 million to support projects focused on supporting the integration of refugees and migrants across the Americas; Mexico’s commitment to launch a new temporary labor program providing work opportunities for 15,000 to 20,000 workers from Guatemala per year; Belize’s promise to regularize Central American and Caribbean migrants who have been living without documents in the country; Colombia’s commitment to respect the temporary protected status for displaced Venezuelan migrants in its territory; Costa Rica’s promise to renew the special temporary protection for migrants from Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba; Ecuador’s commitment to create a path to a regular migration status for Venezuelans who entered the country regularly via an official port of entry, but who are currently out of status; and the commitment of Spain — who participated as an observer state —to double the number of labor pathways for Hondurans to participate in the country’s circular migration programs.

In his remarks on June 8, President Biden stated that the Declaration on Migration and Protection “represents a mutual commitment to invest in regional solutions that enhance stability, increase opportunities for safe and orderly migration through the region, and crack down on criminal and human trafficking who prey on desperate people.” He also highlighted that orderly migration is good for the economy. He noted, however, that “unlawful migration is not acceptable” and reiterated his commitment to enforcing U.S. borders.

Migrant Caravan Departs from Southern Mexico to the US

On June 6, a caravan ranging from 2,000 to 6,000 predominantly Venezuelan migrants departed from southern Mexico to the United States border by foot. While previous caravans have previously been violently broken up and hindered by Mexican authorities, in this instance officials have said the caravan will not be interrupted by security forces. Instead, migrants will be issued temporary humanitarian visas, allowing them to transit freely throughout the country without fear of apprehension or deportation.

This new position from the Mexican government comes after a May 19 decision by the Mexican Supreme Court that ruled the use of migration checkpoints throughout the country unconstitutional. The Supreme Court argued that the checkpoints violated the constitutional right to free transit of migrants. It also argued that the checkpoints racially profiled Mexican and non-Mexican people and severely impacted black and indigenous communities.

Trump Administration Officials Slowed Down Reunification of Families Separated at the Border in 2018

On June 8, a court filing revealed that Trump administration officials deliberately slowed down the reunification of families separated at the border in 2018 under the “zero tolerance” border policy. The zero tolerance policy resulted in the deliberate separation of more than 5,500 migrant children from their parents in 2018. So far, only 200 families have been reunited thanks to the Family Reunification Task Force, which the Biden administration created in February 2021.

In response to the family separations, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a class-action lawsuit against the government, “seeking damages on behalf of thousands of traumatized children and parents who were forcibly torn from each other.” Internal correspondence released due to the case show high-ranking Trump administration officials expressing concern that parents were being returned to their children in Border Patrol stations too quickly after going to criminal court. The emails further revealed the officials’ intention “to prevent this from happening.”

Refugee Resettlement Data Reveals Decline in Admissions for Third Consecutive Month

Refugee resettlement data released on June 5 by the State Department revealed the administration resettled a total of 1,898 refugees in May, which represents a 4.4% decrease from April. The decrease in May represents the third consecutive month of declining numbers. With only four months left in the fiscal year (FY), the current resettlement pace would lead to a total of only 18,961 refugees resettled in all of FY 2022. That number continues to lag far behind the refugee ceiling of 125,000 announced by President Biden last September.

The released data also revealed that the U.S. resettled only 77 refugees from Ukraine, bringing the total number of Ukrainian refugees resettled since February — when the Russian invasion started — to only 621. However, despite the low number of Ukrainians entering through the refugee resettlement program, the recently-launched Uniting for Ukraine private sponsorship parole program has received over 45,000 applications in just over a month, and over 27,000 have already been approved.

The May resettlement data also reveals that 629 Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) were granted to Afghans in May, an increase from 568 in April but still far below summer peaks prior to the fall of Kabul when the administration granted over 3,000 SIVs each month.

Biden Administration Instructs ICE Agents to Consider Military Service when Making Decisions to Deport Noncitizens and their Families

On May 23, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Tae Johnson issued a policy directive instructing ICE personnel to consider current or prior U.S. military service when making decisions on whether to deport noncitizens and their families. The new directive comes at the behest of the Biden administration to formalize a long-established —but not always followed — practice that has led to the removal of noncitizen veterans and service members in the past. The new policy also requires ICE to develop a formal tracking system to collect and maintain data on noncitizen veterans and service members to ensure compliance with the new directive.

Under the new directive, decisions to place noncitizen veterans or service members in deportation proceedings must be approved by top agency leaders at local offices. Each case will be decided on the totality of the circumstance- which includes one’s criminal history, potential pathway to citizenship, immediate family member(s), and years of service in the military. The policy directive is consistent with the Biden administration’s efforts to narrow the group of immigrants subject to ICE arrest and deportation.

According to a 2019 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, prior to the guidance ICE “did not properly track cases of veterans it deported or placed in deportation proceedings, partly because it did not require agents to ask immigrants about military service.”

Biden Administration Starts Registration Process for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Special Student Relief (SSR) for Cameroon

On June 6, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the start of the registration process for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Special Student Relief (SSR) for Cameroon. The 18-month TPS designation will allow nationals from Cameroon residing in the United States since April 14 to stay and work temporarily in the country without fear of being returned into conflict and violence. The 18-month SSR designation will allow Cameroonian students with F-1 student visas to request employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while their academic institution is in session, and reduce their course load while continuing to maintain their F-1 nonimmigrant student status.

Cameroon’s designation for TPS and SSR — effective through December 7, 2023 — was announced on April 6 as a result of the country’s ongoing armed conflict between government forces, armed separatists, and a significant rise in attacks from Boko Haram.

Biden Administration Reinstates Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program

On June 9, the Biden Administration announced the resumption of the Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) next fall. Initially created in 2014, the HFRP Program allows certain eligible U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to apply for parole for their family members in Haiti. If granted parole, these family members may come to the United States without waiting for their immigrant visas to become available. Once in the United States, HFRP Program beneficiaries may apply for work authorization while waiting for lawful permanent resident status.

The announcement comes after the administration relaunched the similar Cuban Family Reunification Parole program on May 16.

Biden Administration Offers Parole to Foreign Nationals Affected by Shooting in Uvalde, Texas

On June 8, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the agency would grant humanitarian parole to foreign nationals seeking to attend a funeral or provide emergency assistance to a family member affected by the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. To apply, USCIS requested applicants to fill out Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. The agency also requested applicants to provide evidence of the relationship to the affected family member, a completed Form I-134, Declaration of Financial Support, and any other evidence required to support the parole request.

Legal

Supreme Court Rules Border Patrol Agents Cannot Be Held Individually Liable

On June 8, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that a private citizen cannot claim civil damages against a border patrol agent who uses excessive force and illegal retaliation in violation of the Fourth and First Amendments, respectively.

The case, Egbert v. Boule, stems from a lawsuit that Robert Boule — who served as a confidential informant helping federal agents apprehend persons engaged in unlawful cross-border activity — filed against Border Patrol Agent Erik Egbert for retaliation and excessive force. In his lawsuit, Boule invoked the 1971 case of Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, which held that a private individual could sue a federal officer for damages if his fundamental rights are violated. The decision expanded federal officers’ immunity from private lawsuits and curtailed the citizens’ ability to sue law enforcement when there is no specific law authorizing such a claim to go forward.

State and Local

Massachusetts Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto Against Bill that Allows Undocumented Immigrants to Receive Driver’s Licenses

On June 9, the Massachusetts Senate voted 32-8 to override Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s veto of a bill that would allow undocumented residents to receive driver’s licenses. The vote followed a June 8 override vote by the state House of Representatives that passed 119-36. The bill will require undocumented immigrants seeking a license to demonstrate their identity and provide evidence of their residency in the state.

Recent estimates suggest that the law will benefit over 200,000 undocumented immigrants in the state. Massachusetts will join 16 other states and the District of Columbia, which already have similar laws allowing undocumented immigrants to access driver’s licenses.

New York State Legislature Passes Bill that Regulates For-Profit Immigration Bond Companies

On June 4, the New York State Legislature passed bill S7475B, commonly known as the Stop Immigration Bond Abuse Act (SIMBAA). The bill, which is the first of its kind in the U.S., seeks to protect immigrants in the state from being preyed upon by an unregulated, exploitative immigration bond industry. Among its various provisions, the bill prohibits for-profit immigration bond companies from imposing electronic shackles on their clients and caps the fees and charges on immigration bonds.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Congressional Research Service (CRS), “Legal Sidebar: The Biden Administration’s Immigration Enforcement Priorities: Background and Legal Considerations,” June 8, 2022

This CRS legal sidebar provides a brief overview of Biden Administration’s immigration enforcement guidelines. The guidelines instruct U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to exercise prosecutorial discretion and prioritize enforcement against immigrants who pose threats to national security, public safety, and border security.

Government Accountability Office (GAO), “Border Patrol: Actions Needed to Improve Checkpoint Oversight and Data“; June 6, 2022

This GAO report examines how U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operates immigration checkpoints at more than 110 locations on U.S. highways and secondary roads. The checkpoints are generally 25 to 100 miles inland from the southwest and northern borders. According to the report, between 2016 and 2020, CBP apprehended about 35,700 potentially removable people in about 17,500 events at checkpoints.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

The Current State of DACA: Challenges Await in Litigation and Rulemaking

This explainer describes the current state of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, discussing the ongoing attempts to scale back or end the program in the courts and the current administration’s attempts to preserve the program.

Explainer: Uniting for Ukraine

This explainer highlights the elements of the Uniting for Ukraine (U4U) program which provides Ukrainian citizens fleeing Russia’s aggression opportunities to come to the U.S. as parolees.

 42 Border Solutions That Aren’t Title 42

This resource provides 42 sustainable, effective border solutions that are not Tile 42. The 42 solutions are broken up into three categories — border processes, root causes, and border security.

* * *

*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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