Legislative Bulletin – Friday, July 21, 2017
Policy and Advocacy Associate
July 21, 2017
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
This bill would provide Dreamers — young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and have lived in the U.S. at least four years — protection from deportation and an opportunity to obtain legal status if they meet certain requirements.
Sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)
07/20/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Graham
07/20/2017 Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee
Fiscal Year 2018 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Act
This appropriations bill targets critical programs such as aviation security, border and immigration enforcement, customs activities, protection against cyberterrorism, natural disaster response, and efforts to stop the smuggling of drugs and people into the U.S.
Sponsored by Representative TBD
07/11/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative TBD
07/11/2017 Referred to House Appropriations Committee
07/12/2017 Marked up and approved by House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security in a voice vote
07/18/2017 Marked up and approved by House Appropriations Committee on Homeland Security in a 30-22 vote
DHS Authorization Act of 2017
This bill would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to make certain improvements in the laws administered by the Secretary of Homeland Security
Sponsored by Representative Michael T. McCaul (R-Texas) (11 cosponsors)
06/08/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative McCaul
06/08/2017 Reported (Amended) by the Committee on Homeland Security. H. Rept. 115-198
07/20/2017 Passed/agreed to in House: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 386 – 41 (Roll no. 403)
This bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to permit certain E-2 nonimmigrant investors to adjust status to lawful permanent resident status.
Sponsored by Representative John Rutherford (R-Florida) (1 cosponsor)
07/17/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Rutherford
07/17/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act
This bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for the admission of certain health care workers as immigrants. Specifically, it would increase the number of temporary work visas available for foreign-trained nurses by up to 8,000.
Sponsored by Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wisconsin) (1 cosponsor)
07/20/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Sensenbrenner
07/20/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
The Second Chance for Service Act
This bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide that an applicant for citizenship who served honorably in the Armed Forces of the United States is not automatically barred from becoming a citizen of the United States for having committed certain crimes.
Sponsored by Representative Mark Takano (D-California) (2 cosponsors)
07/20/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Takano
07/20/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, July 24, 2017.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
This hearing will discuss expanding options for employers and workers, including immigrants, through Earn-and-Learn opportunities.
Date: Wednesday, July 26, 2017 at 10 a.m. (House Education and the Workforce)
Location: 2175 Rayburn House office Building
(Includes consideration of S. 1199, Border Enforcement Security Task Force Reauthorization Act of 2017)
Date: Wednesday, July 26, 2017 at 10 a.m. (Senate Homeland Security Committee)
Location: SD-342 Dirksen Senate Office Building
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
Sens. Graham and Durbin Introduce Bipartisan DREAM Act
On July 20, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) introduced a new version of the DREAM Act, legislation that would provide Dreamers — young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and have lived in the U.S. at least four years — protection from deportation and an opportunity to obtain legal status if they meet certain requirements.
In order to qualify, individuals must prove they have been brought to the U.S. at age 17 or younger; have lived continuously in the U.S. for at least four years prior to the bill’s enactment; have been admitted to a college or university, have earned a high school diploma, or are in the process of earning a high school diploma or an equivalent; have paid a fee, passed a government background check and demonstrated “good moral character” with no felony or multiple misdemeanor convictions. Under the bill, DACA recipients would automatically be granted conditional permanent resident status as long as they still meet the DACA requirements.
Additionally, certain individuals may qualify to adjust their status from conditional permanent resident status to lawful permanent resident status (green card) if they meet specific criteria: (1) maintain continuously presence in the U.S.; (2) meet any one of the following three requirements (a) have completed two years in the military, (b) have graduated from college or two years of a bachelor’s higher degree program in the U.S., or (c) have been employed for three years; (3) pass a government background check; (4) demonstrate proficiency in English and an understanding of American history and government; and (5) pay a fee.
The bill was introduced as a response to the action of 10 states, led by Texas, who threatened to sue the Trump administration if it does not end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which shields from deportation nearly 800,000 young unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. While White House officials have signaled that Trump will not support the DREAM Act, Senator Graham noted that it could be a way Trump could unify the Republican Party and address legal concerns surrounding DACA.
Democratic Attorneys General Urge Trump to Keep DACA
Attorneys general from 19 states. and the District of Columbia sent a letter to President Trump urging him to retain DACA.. The Democratic attorneys general, led by California’s Xavier Becerra, offered to support the administration in the legal defense of DACA in litigation arising from a decision to maintain the program.
According to a recent study, ending DACA would remove an estimated 685,000 workers from the U.S. workforce and result in a $460.3 billion decrease in GDP over the next decade.
House Committee Approves Border Wall Funding
On Tuesday, July 18, the House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year (FY) 2018 Homeland Security spending bill along party-lines by a 30 to 22 vote. The bill includes $1.6 billion in funding for a wall along the U.S.- Mexico border, which will cover construction of the barrier along the Rio Grande Valley and secondary fencing in San Diego. The bill would also allocate funds to increase number of immigration detention beds to about 44,000 (up from 34,000), and to hire over 1,000 additional U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and 500 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents. The full House is expected to consider the bill later this month.
Sessions Slams “Sanctuary Jurisdictions” in Philadelphia
In a July 21 speech in Philadelphia, Attorney General Jeff Sessions assailed jurisdictions with so-called sanctuary policies, asserting that they harm public safety. In remarks touting administration efforts to combat violent crime, Sessions stated, “Some jurisdictions in this country refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities and turn over illegal aliens who commit crimes—even MS-13 gang members. These policies are often called “sanctuary” policies. But they are giving sanctuary not to their law-abiding residents; they are giving sanctuary to criminals.” The remarks echoed a July 12 speech Sessions made in Las Vegas.
Sessions’ remarks came one day after a federal court in California ruled against the Trump administration’s efforts to dismiss lawsuits challenging its executive order threatening to strip federal funding from “sanctuary jurisdictions.” They also followed July 18 comments by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Thomas Homan who pledged to send more federal agents and resources to such jurisdictions to “enforce the laws on the books without apology.” Homan called so-called sanctuary jurisdictions “ludicrous” and accused them of “violat[ing] the laws of this country.”
Under Mayor Jim Kenney, Philadelphia is a self-proclaimed “sanctuary city” that limits cooperation between city police and prison officials and federal immigration authorities in order to ensure that immigrant victims and witnesses are comfortable coming forward to cooperate with law enforcement. The city has resisted Trump administration efforts to change its policies, noting that its policies comply with federal law and promote community safety.
Many localities, most of which do not consider themselves to be “sanctuary jurisdictions,” maintain community trust policies to ensure that immigrant victims and witnesses of crimes cooperate with police and that community members share information about criminal or suspicious conduct. Such community policing strategies are well-established and effective at fostering trust. Many jurisdictions also do not elect to honor federal immigration detainers — federal requests to detain individuals suspected of being in the U.S. unlawfully – after federal courts in Pennsylvania, Oregon, Illinois and elsewhere have questioned their legality.
Trump Administration Seeks to Expand Expedited Removal
The Trump administration is considering a change in policy to expand the use of expedited removal. The changes would allow DHS to bypass the immigration court system and expedite the deportations of undocumented immigrants targeted for removal. Under existing guidelines, DHS can utilize expedited removal procedures only for individuals who have been in the U.S. for less than two weeks and are apprehended within 100 miles of the border. The new policy under consideration would dispense with the 100-mile rule and would allow DHS to use expedited removal for anyone who cannot prove that they have resided in the U.S. continuously for more than 90 days. In a February 2017 memorandum, DHS Secretary John Kelly stated that DHS would be issuing rules expanding the use of expedited removal in order to speed up deportations and decrease immigration court backlogs.
Critics have expressed deep concerns about the proposals under consideration. Immigrant rights and civil rights advocates have long expressed concerns about expedited removal procedures, which facilitate the removal of individuals with valid asylum and other immigration claims without due process.
U.S. to Launch Immigration Raids Targeting Youth Suspected of Being Gang Members
On July 21, Reuters reported that federal immigration agents are planning raids targeting youth suspected of being gang members. The raids will focus on 16- and 17-year olds with gang tattoos, wear gang apparel or frequenting areas known for gang activity. Those suspected of being associated the El Salvador-based gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, are the administration’s top priority.
Under the Obama administration, minors convicted of crimes – including gang-related crimes – were prioritized for removal, but not those merely suspected of having a gang affiliation. Advocates have expressed concern that, without a requirement of a criminal conviction, innocent children may be erroneously labelled as having gang affiliations and targeted for deportation.
The Reuters report also indicated that others without any affiliation to gangs will be targeted in the raids – parents who crossed the border with their children and have been ordered deported by an immigration judge, as well as former unaccompanied minors who have since turned 18.
Arrests Up, Deportations Down under Trump Immigration Policies
As immigration court backlogs hit record levels, deportations under the Trump administration are down, even as immigration arrests have spiked. ICE personnel arrested 13,914 people in the month of June 2017, up from an average of 9,134 people per month during the last three months of the Obama administration.
DHS Permits 15,000 Additional H-2B Visas for Seasonal Workers
On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would release up to 15,000 additional H-2B visas for temporary non-agricultural seasonal workers. The visas are particularly important for the tourism and hospitality sector, which struggles to find workers in summer and winter seasons. This decision follows pressure from Senator Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), who blocked Senate consideration of the nomination of Francis Cissna to lead the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) until the DHS issued more H-2B visas.
Afghan Girls’ Robotics Team Wins Silver Medal after Being Permitted to Enter the U.S.
A team of six Afghan girls won a silver medal at the FIRST international robotics competition on July 18 in Washington D.C. The team arrived in the U.S. on July 15 only after President Trump intervened at the eleventh hour to grant them conditional entry. Previously, the team was twice denied permission to enter the country even though Afghanistan is not among the six countries listed on the travel ban issued by the Trump Administration in March. The State Department did not provide any explanation of why it refused entry to the six Afghans. Teams from Syria, Yemen, and Sudan, three of the countries affected by the ban, were granted visas without incident.
The Afghan team won a silver medal in “courageous achievement,” a category that rewards teams that show a “can-do attitude” despite difficult circumstances. The Afghan girls and the U.S. team also got to meet with Ivanka Trump because of their participation in the competition.
SCOTUS Allows Trump Refugee Restrictions, Narrows Travel Ban on Relatives
On July 19, the U.S. Supreme Court released an unsigned order clarifying its June 26 decision permitting those with “bona fide relationship[s] with a person or entity in the United States” to avoid the Trump administrations travel and refugee bans. The order upheld part of the ruling from a federal judge in Hawaii, which narrowed the administration’s guidance that excluded grandparents and other family members from being considered a “bona fide relationship” sufficient to exempt someone from the travel ban.
However, the Supreme Court stayed the second part of the lower court’s ruling that held that relationships between refugees and resettlement agencies were also “bona fide relationships” satisfying the Court’s guidance on the refugee ban. Trump administration guidance excluding those with relationships with resettlement agencies will now go back into effect.
Federal Court Declines to Dismiss Lawsuit by Jurisdictions Challenging Executive Order on Sanctuary Jurisdictions
On July 20, a federal judge in California declined to dismiss a lawsuit brought by San Francisco and Santa Clara County, California challenging a key part of President Trump’s executive order on interior enforcement that would threaten federal grant money going to so-called sanctuary jurisdictions.
In an April 25 order, U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick held that the California jurisdictions were likely to prevail on their claims that the executive order infringed the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, the court highlighted Fifth Amendment vagueness and due process concerns with stripping grant funding from states, cities and localities deemed “sanctuary jurisdictions;” Tenth Amendment federalism concerns related to commandeering those governmental units to carry out a federal regulatory program; and Article I concerns relating to Congress’s “power of the purse.”
Refusing to revisit his April 25 nationwide injunction, Judge Orrick declined to credit a May 22 memorandum from Attorney General Sessions purporting to limit the scope of the executive order. Judge Orrick noted that the memo was an “illusory promise” because it was not binding; the attorney general can revoke it – and therefore penalize whatever he deems to be “sanctuary cities” – at any time.
There were no immigration or workforce related government reports published during the week of Monday, July 17, 2017.
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*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Zuzana Jerabek, National Immigration Forum Policy and Advocacy Associate, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Zuzana can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.