Legislative Bulletin – Friday, February 16, 2018

February 16, 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. 4996

Protecting Our Communities from Gang Violence Act of 2018

This bill would subject any naturalized individual that is affiliated with a criminal gang, or that has been convicted of certain offenses, to revocation of citizenship. The bill also prohibits such individuals from filing an immigration petition on behalf of any potential immigrant, or from assuming custodial care for an unaccompanied minor.

Sponsored by Representative Lee Zeldin (R-New York) (0 cosponsors)

2/08/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Zeldin

2/08/2018 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 4956

Keeping Salvadoran Families Together Act

This bill would allow recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from El Salvador to adjust to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.

Sponsored by Representative Eleanor Norton (D-Washington, DC) (1 cosponsor – 1 Democrat, 0 Republicans)

2/06/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Norton

2/06/2018 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 4940

Border and Port Security Act

This bill increases the number of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and support staff and requires reports that identify staffing, infrastructure, and equipment needed to enhance security at ports of entry.

Sponsored by Representative Filemon Vela (D-Texas) (9 cosponsors – 9 Democrats, 0 Republicans)

2/06/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Vela

2/06/2018 Referred to the House Committees on Homeland Security, Ways and Means, and Agriculture.

H.R. 4508

Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act

This bill seeks to support students, including immigrants, in completing an affordable postsecondary education that will prepare them to enter the workforce with the skills they need for lifelong success. It would make changes to federal student aid and other programs under the Higher Education Act.

Sponsored by Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) (21 cosponsors – 21 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

12/1/2017 Introduced in House by Representative Foxx

12/1/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

12/13/2017 Marked up by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce by a 23–17 vote.

2/8/2018 Reported (amended) by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

2/8/2018 Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 413.

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives will not be in session the week of Monday, February 19, 2018.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

There are no immigration or skills and workforce development related hearings or markups scheduled for the week of February 19.

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Senate Fails to Pass Legislation Protecting Dreamers

On February 15, four immigration proposals brought to the Senate floor all failed to achieve the 60 votes needed to advance, following months of intense negotiations to protect Dreamers. After the votes, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) noted that the only way forward is, “for President Trump to grab the reins and lead us to a solution.” Other Senators, including Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), mulled extending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) temporarily with some border security funding as part of the March spending package, reducing the likelihood that Congress will find a permanent solution this year.

Earlier on February 15, the bipartisan plan introduced by Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware) that took a “narrow” approach, focusing only on providing Dreamers the opportunity to earn U.S. citizenship and investing in border security, failed 52 to 47 in largely party-line vote. The McCain-Coons bill mirrored a House proposal introduced by Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Pete Aguilar (D-California) with widespread bipartisan support.

The next amendment focused not on Dreamers or border security, but on so-called sanctuary cities, which limit their cooperation with federal immigration detainer requests unless immigration officials also provide a warrant or establishment of probable cause. Detainer requests typically ask local law enforcement to hold individuals up to 48 hours beyond the time when they are legally required to release an individual in custody. The amendment, introduced by Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), would have withheld federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities. This proposal failed 54 to 45, with some Senate Democrats voting in support of the bill.

The third measure considered was introduced by Senator Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota) and other members of the bipartisan Common Sense Caucus. This plan provided a path to citizenship for about 1.8 million Dreamers, $25 billion in border security funding, prevented DACA recipients from sponsoring their parents for legal status and eliminated the ability of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to sponsor adult children. The plan was seen as having the most likley chance of passing, but was strongly opposed by the Trump administration in the hours before the vote. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also issued a statement stating that the bill would create “mass amnesty” for over 10 million undocumented immigrants and would fail to secure the border, despite the fact that the bill granted earned legal status only to Dreamers and provided $25 billion in border security. The plan failed 54 to 45.

The fourth and final proposal considered by the Senate was introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and had the endorsement of the White House. This proposal also would have provided a path to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers and $25 billion for border security, but would also have made substantial cuts to legal immigration, anywhere from 25 to 40 percent per year, and eliminated the Diversity Visa program. This proposal did not get a simple majority voting in favor, failing by a 39 to 60 vote.

Meanwhile, in the House, Speaker Paul Ryan did not outline Republican leadership’s plan for an immigration bill if the bill introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) cannot earn enough support to pass. Republican leadership whipped the Goodlatte bill this week, but it was not clear that the bill has enough support among Republicans to pass the House.

Chief Counsel at Seattle ICE Office Charged with Stealing Immigrant’s Identities

The chief counsel at the Seattle Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was charged on February 12 with stealing the identity of seven immigrants involved in immigration proceedings. From October 2013 through October 2017, Chief Counsel Raphael A. Sanchez used the stolen identities to acquire money and property from various financial institutions. Sanchez was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

Dozens of Refugee Resettlement Offices Closing or Cutting Back Operations

The State Department is reportedly reviewing for final approval the refugee resettlement agencies’ plans to close over 20 refugee resettlement offices and scaling back of operations at over 40 others. The plans to scale back U.S. refugee resettlement operations follow President Trump’s decision to limit Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 refugee admissions to just 45,000, down from the initial FY 2017 limit of 110,000 that was set by the Obama administration. A State Department spokesperson stated that the planned changes will encourage consolidation among affiliated resettlement organizations, reduce costs, and promote fiscal responsibility. However, a former refugee resettlement official noted that these offices provide services to refugees for up to five years, not just incoming refugees. The cuts to services may make their integration more difficult and time consuming, counter to the stated intent of the Trump administration to integrate refugees. The administration told refugee resettlement agencies that any offices that expect to work with less than 100 refugees in FY 2018 would lose resettlement authorization.

Legal

Federal Judge Rules That Trump Administration Must Continue DACA Program

On February 13, a U.S. District Court judge in New York, Judge Nicholas Garaufis, blocked the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Garaufis found that the reasons given by the Trump administration in September 2017 for rescinding DACA were too arbitrary and that DACA renewal applications must continue to be accepted. The decision mirrors a January 2018 decision by a federal judge in California, which also found that the administration must continue to accept and process renewal applications. However, the court rulings do not require the administration to accept new DACA applications from those not currently covered by DACA. The Supreme Court announced that it will have a closed-door meeting on February 16 to decide whether or not it will review the California case.

Second Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Third Version of the Travel Ban

On February 15, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the travel ban issued by President Trump was unconstitutional, mirroring a decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in December. In a 9 to 4 ruling, the Fourth Circuit said that the ban on travel to the United States by nationals of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, North Korea and Venezuela violated the Establishment Clause, which prohibits religious discrimination by the government. The Ninth Circuit ruling stated that the president acted beyond the statutory authority granted to the office by Congress. The Supreme Court will be hearing both constitutional and statutory arguments on the travel ban in April.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

U.S. Government Accountability Office: WORKFORCE INNOVATION AND OPPORTUNITY ACT: Federal Agencies’ Collaboration Generally Reflected Leading Practices, but Could Be Enhanced, February 8, 2018 (by Cindy Brown Barnes)

This report examines the extent to which federal agencies’ efforts to implement certain Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act requirements have aligned with leading collaboration practices.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Support for Dreamers

This resource provides an overview and list of public bipartisan or center-right statements urging Congress to protect Dreamers as soon as possible.

Fact Sheet: Family-Based Immigration

This fact sheet explains family-based immigration, called “chain migration” by some critical of such immigration. It provides an overview of the family visas, information about who is eligible and process of obtaining them, while highlighting benefits of a family-based immigration system.

Bill Analysis: Securing America’s Future Act

This is an analysis of the Securing America’s Future Act, H.R. 4670 introduced by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R- Virginia) and five original co-sponsors  on January 10, 2018. The wide-ranging, over 400-page bill would dramatically transform America’s immigration system by reducing legal immigration by 25 percent, criminalizing illegal presence in the U.S., increasing border security and interior immigration enforcement, revising the agricultural guest worker program, and mandating E-verify for all employers among other provisions. It would provide some Dreamers with a temporary three-year renewable nonimmigrant status.

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*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Christian Penichet-Paul, National Immigration Forum Policy and Advocacy Associate, and Jeff Mason, National Immigration Forum Policy and Advocacy Intern, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Christian can be reached at cpenichetpaul@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.