Legislative Bulletin – Friday, March 16, 2018
Policy and Advocacy Associate
March 16, 2018
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
This resolution would bring four immigration reform bills to the U.S. House floor. It would offer alternatives to the Securing America’s Future Act, proposed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia), which would dramatically transform our immigration system. Those alternatives comprise the bipartisan DREAM Act and USA Act, and an immigration bill of Speaker Paul Ryan’s choice.
Sponsored by Representative Jeff Denham (R – California) (17 cosponsors – 17 Republicans)
03/13/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Denham
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, March 19, 2018.
The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, March 19, 2018 to Thursday, March 22, 2018.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
This hearing will include discussion on funding for a variety of U.S. Department of Education’s programs that allow participants, including immigrants, to improve their skills and reach their full potential. Those programs include Career and Technical Education, Adult education and English Language Acquisition programs.
Date: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. (House Appropriations Committee)
Location: 2358-C Rayburn House Office Building
Betsy DeVos, Secretary, Department of Education
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
Trump Backtracks on Three-For-Three Approach on DACA, Border Security
The White House announced President Trump does not support a proposal that would provide a three-year extension of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in exchange for three years of border wall funding to be included in the omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year. The announcement followed reporting that the President did favor such a temporary fix for the nearly 700,000 DACA recipients.
Legislators must decide on whether to attach a DACA fix to the omnibus spending package by March 23, the deadline for Congress to pass the legislation to avoid a government shutdown. However, Senate Republicans reportedly said it is unlikely that Congress will agree on a DACA on time to include it in the omnibus spending bill. On the other hand, a number of House Republicans said they would be open to supporting inclusion of a three-year DACA fix in the spending package but are waiting for guidance from the White House.
A new survey suggests that while Trump’s voters favor the wall, they also support solution for Dreamers. The poll showed 86 percent of the president’s supporters would approve of and only 10 percent would oppose a deal exchanging bolstered border security for a pathway to citizenship for DACA holders.
Tillerson out as Secretary of State; CBP Nominee Advances in Senate; USICS Spokesman Quits
On March 13, President Trump announced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would be terminated and that he would be nominating current CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his replacement. The State Department houses the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) which processes refugees. During his tenure at the Department of State, Tillerson oversaw the administration’s substantial downsizing of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and withdrawal of the United States from the Global Compact on Migration. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Pompeo co-sponsored legislation to temporarily prohibit all refugee admissions and to end the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program.
On March 14, the Senate voted to advance the nomination of Kevin McAleenan, President Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). As the current acting commissioner of the agency, McAleenan has overseen some of the President’s key immigration policies. A vote is expected to occur on Monday, March 19.
Separately, on March 13, U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USCIS) spokesperson James Schwab resigned over the agency’s claim that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s public warning about immigration raids in Northern California resulted in 800 “criminal aliens and public safety threats” evading arrest. Schwab, a career employee who has served across multiple administrations, objected to that characterization: “It’s a false statement because we never pick up 100% of our targets. And to say they’re a type of dangerous criminal is also misleading.”
USCIS Starts Division to Oversee Its Own Employees
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is reportedly creating a new division, the Organization of Professional Responsibility, overseeing the agency’s caseworkers handling residency and citizenship applications. The new division would increase oversight of the way USCIS employees handling of the thousands of cases the agency adjudicates daily, and it is believed that motivation for establishing the new division is to address those who they believe may be too lenient in reviewing applications. The agency’s plans for the new oversight unit were not fully disclosed to employees yet. The proposal is consistent with the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce legal immigration to the U.S.
UPDATE: USCIS has denied these reports.
Sessions Takes Step to Limit Grants of Asylum; ACLU Files Family Separation Lawsuit
In a series of actions in recent days, Attorney General Jeff Sessions quietly moved to curtail grants of asylum. Making use of a relatively obscure power to review case rulings from the Board of Immigration Appeals, Sessions appears to be on the verge of changing the way immigration courts decide asylum cases. In one case, Session overturned a 2014 order requiring that all asylum claims be heard by a court before they can be rejected. In another case, he signaled the he will reevaluate whether claims by potential victims of crimes can qualify for asylum, a move that will have implications for victims of domestic violence and gang violence.
Immigration advocates warn that such policies could lead to rejections of thousands of legitimate asylum seekers fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently filed a separate class-action lawsuit, claiming the U.S. government is separating asylum-seeking families. The lawsuit builds on an earlier case of a detained Congolese woman who has been separated from her 7-year-old daughter and asks the court to declare family separation unlawful.
Immigrants Sue Trump Administration over TPS Termination; AGs Urge Congress to Act
A number of Haitian immigrants filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Federal District Court in New York on Thursday, March 15, claiming that the administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti was motivated by race. The suit follows another case from earlier this week in which a group of adult immigrants and their U.S.-citizen children filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Federal District Court in San Francisco, asking for restoration of TPS for eligible nationals from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan. This claim also challenges President Trump’s decision to terminate the program for those countries, also stating it was motivated by race.
At the beginning of this week, 19 attorneys general jointly sent a letter to Congress, urging legislators to pass a bill that would provide legal status to Haitians and Salvadorans, whose TPS will expire because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ended the TPS designation for those countries.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary grants TPS to eligible foreign-born individuals, who are unable to return home safely due to conditions or circumstances preventing their country from adequately handling the return.
Appeals Court Allows Texas SB 4 to Take Effect
On March 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld most of Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), allowing the controversial immigration legislation to take effect while legal challenges continue. The bill bans so-called sanctuary jurisdictions and penalizes local authorities who fail to honor federal immigration detainers.
The court reversed an earlier district court ruling that blocked the enforcement of SB 4, upholding one of the most severe state-enacted immigration measures. SB 4, which was signed into law in May 2017, requires local police chiefs and sheriffs to honor federal immigration detainers, bars local communities from adopting certain policies aimed at building community trust, and permits police to question the immigration status of anyone they arrest or detain.
The ruling has serious implications for local law enforcement because SB 4 interferes with their ability to build trust and safety in their communities and requires them to dedicate scarce resources to federal immigration responsibilities. Under SB 4, public officials, including police chiefs and sheriffs may be subject to criminal penalties and removal from office if they if they limit their jurisdiction’s involvement with federal immigration authorities.
State and Local
Long Beach, California Expands Its Sanctuary City Policy
On Tuesday, March 13, Long Beach City Council passed a resolution strengthening restrictions on cooperation with federal immigration authorities unless it is required by law. Officials approved the Long Beach Values Act after a five-hour debate that consisted mainly of a discussion on whether to include certain exceptions to the broadened policy. The city’s Police Chief Robert Luna said his officers currently operate under the California Values Act that limits the amount of information the police share with immigration agents and was recently challenged by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Immigration Bills Fail in Florida Legislature
Florida legislators rejected two immigration bills this past week. First, state senators in the Judiciary Committee stalled SB 308, which would repeal the state’s sanctuary policies and require local governments to cooperate with USCIS detainer requests. Earlier this year the Florida House passed HB9 an identical bill to SB 308. Second, HB 45 and its companion bill SB 212 were defeated. These bills sought to prevent individuals who were denied admission, excluded, removed or deported from re-entering or residing in Florida.
Congressional Research Service (CRS): District Court Enjoins DACA Phase-Out: Explanation and Takeaways, March 7, 2018 (by Hillel R. Smith and Ben Harrington)
This legal side bar provides an update on the CRS original post on issues raised by the recent litigation over DACA.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General: Progress and Challenges with the Use of Technology, Tactical Infrastructure, and Personnel to Secure the Southwest Border, March 15, 2018 (by Rebecca Gambler)
This report examines DHS efforts to deploy and measure the effectiveness of its surveillance technologies; maintain and assess the efficiency of existing tactical infrastructure and to arrange new physical barriers; and address staffing challenges faced by the Border Patrol.
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES
These charts compare legislative solutions for Dreamers introduced in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.
This document reviews the President’s budget request for the DHS and compares the funding requests to FY 2017 Omnibus Enacted Discretionary Funding and the FY 2018 President’s budget request.
As the omnibus spending bill deadline looms, this blog features stories of a few of the many immigrants who have benefited from programs funded under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), highlighting the bill’s positive impacts of on the U.S. economy and society and stressing the need for increased funding for those programs.
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*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Zuzana Cepla, 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.