Legislative Bulletin – Friday, June 24, 2016
Policy and Advocacy Associate
June 24, 2016
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
This bill reaffirms the United States’ commitment to the protection of refugees and displaced persons.
Sponsored by Representative Ted Lieu (D – California) (10 cosponsors)
06/20/2016 Introduced in the House by Representative Lieu
06/20/2016 Referred to House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Recognizing American Children Act
This bill authorizes the cancellation of removal and adjustment of status of certain aliens who are long-term United States residents and who entered the United States as children.
Sponsored by Representative Carlos Curbelo (R – Florida) (1 cosponsor)
06/20/2016 Introduced in the House by Representative Curbelo
06/20/2016 Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committees on Homeland Security, Armed Services, Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.
06/20/2016 Referred to House Judiciary
06/20/2016 Referred to House Homeland Security
06/20/2016 Referred to House Armed Services
06/20/2016 Referred to House Ways and Means
06/20/2016 Referred to House Energy and Commerce
A resolution recognizing June 20, 2016, as “World Refugee Day”.
Sponsored by Senator Benjamin Cardin (D – Maryland) (20 cosponsors)
06/20/2016 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Cardin
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. House of Representatives will not be in session the week of June 27, 2016.
The U.S. Senate will be in session from Monday, June 27, 2016 to Thursday, June 30, 2016.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
Date: Thursday, June 30, 2016 at 9:45 AM (Senate Judiciary)
Location: 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Witnesses: The Honorable Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
SCOTUS Blocks Obama’s Immigration Plan with 4-4 Tie
On Thursday, June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked in U.S. vs. Texas, which challenged President Obama’s immigration plan that would grant protection from deportation and work authorizations to about five million undocumented immigrants. With the 4-4 tie, the judges left in place the lower court’s decision on the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), blocking the Administration’s 2014 deferred-action policy with a nationwide injunction.
However, the Thursday ruling has no effect on the previous 2012 version of DACA, which has shielded from deportation and provided temporary work permits to 700,000 young Dreamers.
The Obama’s executive action was challenged by a coalition of 26 states, led by Texas, claiming that the President is abusing his power by circumventing Congress. One of the main parts of the Texas’s argument was claim that the state would lose millions of dollars if it had to provide driver’s licenses to the nearly 600,000 eligible immigrants. In February, the case was affected by a death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Although President Obama nominated federal Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy, the Republican Senate leaders decided to not confirm any nominee until next year when a new President is sworn into office.
House Approps Considers Homeland Security, State Department Spending Bills
On June 22, the House Appropriations Committee marked up and passed the Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2017 by a voice vote. The bill provides the Department of Homeland Security $41.1 billion for discretionary programs, a $100 million increase above enacted fiscal year 2016 levels. During the markup, the committee adopted an amendment by Representative Robert Aderholt (R-Alabama) that would prohibit federal funds from being used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pay for abortion procedures for individuals in immigration detention facilities, except in rare cases. The Aderholt Amendment passed by a 29 to 15 vote. The committee also adopted Representative Andy Harris’s (R-Maryland) amendment, which would permit returning non-agricultural guest workers on H-2B visas to not be counted against the total cap in fiscal year 2017. The Harris Amendment was adopted by a voice vote.
In addition, the House Appropriations Committee released the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Act of 2017 on June 22. The bill includes $3.1 billion in funding for refugee assistance, with the majority of the funding directed to displaced persons living abroad and not for resettlement in the United States.
Kerlikowske Announces Appointment of New Border Patrol Chief
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske announced the appointment of Mark Morgan to the position of the U.S. Border Patrol Chief. Mr. Morgan, who is currently the FBI Assistant Director, will start in his new office in July, playing a key leadership role responsible for more than 21,000 Border Patrol agents and personnel. The selection of Mr. Morgan followed a nationwide searching process among executives within the Border Patrol as well as other federal law enforcement agencies.
The Number of Displaced Individuals Tops 65 Million
There were 65.3 million refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally displaced people around the world by the end of 2015, a new report published by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) revealed. According to the study, which was posted on June 20 in observance of the World Refugee Day, the total number increased by 10 percent from the last year’s 59.5 million, surpassing the 60-million threshold for the first time in the organization’s history. In fact, one out of every 113 people on Earth has now been forced to leave home due to persecution, war or human rights violations, and more than half of them are children.
According to the report, the rise in number of displaced people has been driven by escalating humanitarian crisis in Yemen and conflicts in northern Nigeria and Colombia, while the increase in refugees has been caused by the ongoing war in Syria. Refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia accounted for more than a half of the all refugees worldwide. Moreover, about 86 percent of those refugees have been hosted in developing countries led by Turkey with a total of 2.5 million admitted individuals. Furthermore, just slightly more than 200,000 of the world’s refugees were able to go back home and only 0.66 percent of them were approved for resettlement in another country last year.
State & Local
Hundreds Arrested in May Raids in the Midwest
This past May, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 331 people in multiple raids in Missouri and Kansas. Many of those arrested were people that have previously been convicted of crimes such as battery or larceny, while others were accused of recently entering the United States unlawfully.
Those arrested with outstanding orders of deportation or who returned to the United States unlawfully are subject to immediate removal. The remaining individuals are either waiting for hearings before an immigration judge, or waiting for travel arrangements for removal.
North Carolina Senate Weighs Cuts to Sanctuary Cities Funds
North Carolina Senators have been discussing a legislative proposal which would reduce finances available to local governments with ‘sanctuary city’ policies for school and road construction. The bill, filed by Republican Senator Norman Sanderson in May, would particularly penalize those local governments that prevent law enforcement officers from requesting or sharing information about a suspect’s immigration status with federal authorities. It was assigned to three committees, but no hearings have been on the legislation.
On Tuesday, June 21, Sanderson attached the provisions to a House bill on jury duty records, creating a combined jury duty-immigration legislation that passed a Senate committee within few minutes after its introduction and is expected to be soon brought to the Senate floor. Last year, the North Carolina legislators approved a state law banning sanctuary city policies. However, it did not contain penalties for local governments refusing to comply.
Arlington County Board Endorses Resolution Allowing Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants
The Arlington County Board supported a resolution allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s license. In a 4-0 vote, with one abstention, the Board decided to include the proposal in the county’s list of state legislative priorities for 2017. Contrary to Washington, D.C. and Maryland, Virginia prevents undocumented immigrants from receiving licenses.
According to the Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, providing licenses to undocumented immigrants would benefit economy and add to public safety. Board Member Christian Dorsey, who also supported the legislation, said that there is no advantage in not allowing all immigrants to get a license.
Skills & Workforce Development
Department Of Labor To Award $7.5 million For Occupational Licensing Reform
The Department of Labor announced that it will be awarding $7.5 million in grants to identify unnecessary occupational licensing criteria and to increase the ability of licensed practitioners to move and work more seamlessly across state lines. Occupational licensing reform will be particularly important for foreign-educated immigrants and refugees, of whom nearly 2 million are under- or unemployed.
This initiative is part of the Obama administration’s ongoing effort to bring about occupational licensing reform. In July 2015, the White House released a report outlining best practices for state policymakers to limit the burden of unnecessary occupational licensing requirements on workers. Since then, legislators in 11 states have introduced 15 bills in line with the administration’s recommendations, four of which have been passed.
Nearly 30 percent of workers in the U.S. today need a license to do their jobs. While licensing for certain occupations provides a necessary assurance of health and safety to consumers, the current system can be costly and can create unnecessary barriers to employment for capable workers as well as unnecessary costs for consumers.
Department of Labor Makes $50.5M Available to Expand Registered Apprenticeship Programs
The Department of Labor will be awarding ApprenticeshipUSA State Expansion Grants totaling $50.5M to expand Registered Apprenticeship programs to new sectors and populations. One of the key goals of the grants is to significantly increase apprenticeship opportunities for all American workers, particularly low-income individuals and underrepresented populations, including limited English proficient individuals and foreign-trained immigrants.
Registered apprenticeship programs are a proven training model that increases employers’ productivity while also providing workers with pathways to gain occupational skills, knowledge, and experience. This announcement comes as the second phase in the Obama administration’s $90M investment in ApprenticeshipUSA, announced earlier this year, and follows an unprecedented $175 million investment in apprenticeship programs announced last September.
There were no relevant immigration-related government reports published in the week of June 20, 2016.
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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 email@example.com. Thank you.