Legislative Bulletin – Friday, March 2, 2018
March 2, 2018
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
Three-Year Border and DACA Extension Act
This bill would extend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections for three years and provide $7.6 billion to fund three years of the Trump administration’s border security proposal.
Sponsored by Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) (1 cosponsor – 1 Democrat, 0 Republicans)
02/27/2018 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Flake
02/28/2018 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar No. 338
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, March 5, 2018.
The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, March 5, 2018 to Thursday, March 8, 2018.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
Date: Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. (House Appropriations Committee)
Location: 2358-C Rayburn House Office Building
Alex Acosta, Secretary, Department of Labor
The meeting agenda includes a mark-up of the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act (H.R. 2825).
Date: Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee)
Location: 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
Supreme Court Declines to Hear DACA Case; Sen. Flake Releases Temporary Solution
On February 26, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up a case on whether President Trump’s termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) followed the proper procedure, effectively allowing DACA recipients to continue submitting renewal applications. President Trump’s decision to end DACA was blocked by a federal judge in California in January. The court directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to restart accepting renewal applications for DACA. Immigration advocates noted that, despite the Supreme Court’s decision, the urgency of a permanent legislative solution remains. The case will now continue through the lower courts.
That same day, a federal judge in California ruled that the government cannot revoke a DACA recipient’s work permits or protection from deportation without giving the individual prior notice and a chance to defend themselves. The ruling is a result of a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Collective, a southern California-based group led by Dreamers. The lawsuit argued that the government had revoked protections from DACA recipients who had not been convicted of a serious crime without giving them any opportunity to defend themselves.
Meanwhile, Senators Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) introduced a bipartisan bill on February 27 that would provide a ‘three-for-three’ approach to protect Dreamers and bolster border security. The bill would provide a three-year extension of DACA protections and $7.6 billion to finance three years of President Trump’s border security policies. Following the Senate’s rejection of three immigration proposals that would have provided protections to 1.8 million Dreamers, a number of Republican Senators mentioned that the most likely scenario seems to include a temporary extension of DACA in the omnibus spending bill that must pass Congress by March 24.
A CNN poll released on February 28 showed that 83 percent of Americans believe DACA recipients should be allowed to remain in the U.S., including at least two-thirds of Republicans and 64 percent of voters who approve of President Trump’s job performance.
ICE Detains Over 150 Immigrants in California Raids
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers detained over 150 people in California this week during a series of immigration raids across the state. A statement by ICE indicated that about half of those apprehended in the three-day sweep did not have criminal records. On February 24, a few days before the immigration raids, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf alerted immigrant communities, and encouraged them to learn their rights and search for legal options. Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan blasted Schaaf’s actions, claiming that the mayor’s warning helped an estimated 800 immigrants avoid capture.
ICE data released on February 23 showed that immigration arrests of those without criminal records in 2017 were up 171 percent from 2016. In January 2017, President Trump signed an executive order making all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. a priority for deportation.
Administration Decision to Revoke Work Permits of H-1B Spouses Postponed
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) postponed until June a proposed rule change that would revoke work authorization for H4 visa holders, the spouses of H-1B workers. If DHS moves forward with the rule change, over 100,000 H4 visa holders stand to lose employment authorization documents (EADs). H4 EADs are valid for two years, and immigration attorneys say they expect the rule change will allow existing EADs to run those two years, rather than retroactively be terminated. H4 EADs are only available to spouses of H-1B visa holders that have been approved for green card processing, which can take years. Because of the link to their spouse’s green card processing, H4 visa holders whose spouses were approved for a green card recently are more likely to be impacted by the rule, whereas those whose spouses are close to obtaining a green card would no longer need EAD to work once the green card was awarded. For the next several months H4 visa holders will continue to be able to work, but the uncertainty over their future employment remains. The DHS decision follows the idea behind President Trump’s “Buy American Hire American” executive order, which incorrectly claims that immigrant workers undercut employment and wages for U.S.-born workers and fails to consider the economic contributions of immigrants in the U.S.
Supreme Court Rules Bond Hearings Not Required for Immigration Detention
The Supreme Court ruled on February 27 in a 5 to 3 vote that people held in immigration detention, sometimes for years, are not entitled by law to periodic hearings to decide whether they may be released on bond. The case came before Supreme Court as a class-action lawsuit brought by immigrants who have spent long periods in immigration detention, including people facing deportation and others who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum. Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, said the practice of immigration detention is needed to give immigration officials time to “determine an alien’s status without running the risk of the alien’s either absconding or engaging in criminal activity.”
Justice Stephen Breyer’s dissent responded that the decision was likely the first time the Supreme Court interpreted federal law to permit long-term detention of people in the U.S. without an opportunity to obtain bail, which creates significant due process concerns. The Supreme Court’s decision overturned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that bond hearings are required after six months to determine whether detainees who do not pose a flight risk or do not represent a danger to public safety may be released while their case proceeds. Both the Supreme Court decision and the Ninth Circuit opinion it overturned were based on statutory interpretation, and did not address constitutional claims. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit and instructed it to consider whether the U.S. Constitution requires the bond hearings.
Judge Rules that Border Wall Construction Can Move Forward
A federal judge ruled on February 27 that the Trump administration could move forward with construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel ruled that the Trump administration has the authority to waive a host of environmental laws and other regulations to begin construction of the border wall, rejecting arguments made by the state of California and a number of environmental groups that the Trump administration improperly ignored environmental laws in its push for construction of a border wall. In the ruling, Curiel noted that his decision centered on whether the administration had the authority to build a border wall, not on the wisdom of that decision. Under a 1996 law, the executive branch can waive certain environmental laws and other regulations in case it is “necessary to ensure expeditious construction” of barriers along the border.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump criticized Judge Curiel, who presided over an unrelated civil case involving Trump University.
Federal Judge Permanently Bars Indiana from Blocking Syrian Refugees
A U.S. District Court judge permanently enjoined Indiana on March 1 from withholding payments authorized to an Indianapolis refugee resettlement agency. In November 2015, then-Governor Mike Pence (R-Indiana) ordered state agencies to withhold payment to Exodus Refugee Immigration to prevent refugees from being resettled in the state, citing concerns about links between refugees and terrorism. Pence’s order was temporarily blocked by a federal district court judge in February 2016, because the judge considered it a case of discrimination against Syrian refugees, noting that Indiana did not provide any evidence the refugees posed a threat to public safety. A federal appeals court ruling in October 2016 upheld the lower court in blocking Indiana’s actions, noting that after it accepted federal money for refugee resettlement, it could not withhold that money in a discriminatory fashion. Immigration experts have generally found that refugees, who are extensively vetting, post no significant security risk.
Lawsuit Claims Immigration Authorities Separated Mother and Daughter in Detention
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on February 26 claiming that immigration agencies have separated a Congolese woman seeking asylum in the U.S. from her seven-year-old daughter for four months while in immigration detention. The lawsuit states that the practice of indefinitely separating parents from children is a tactic to discourage asylum seekers from coming to the U.S.
The Trump administration reportedly considered implementing an official policy to separate families to discourage undocumented immigration and asylum seekers from coming to the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to sign off on the proposal. Child welfare advocates have warned against family separation, stressing its long-lasting impact on the children’s safety, health, development and wellbeing.
State & Local
Indiana Agency Denies Professional Licenses to DACA Recipients, Spurring Calls for a State Fix
The Indiana Professional Licensing Agency recently added new questions about citizenship status to all of its license applications, effectively screening out applicants who are recipients of relief under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. The agency says DACA recipients are barred from holding professional licenses under a 2011 state law.
The new practice prevents Indiana’s 9,000 DACA recipients from becoming licensed in more than 70 professions, ranging from nursing to architecture. The agency has already started denying applications to DACA recipients. In response to the new practice, Governor Eric Holcomb (R-Indiana) said that while his administration acted appropriately, Indiana state law should allow DACA recipients “to skill up and work here in Indiana” and that he was encouraged to ”see legislative intent to fix this.” He also called on Congress to “clarify federal immigration law regarding DACA.” Holcomb’s statement came hours after a State House committee amendment to Senate Bill (S.B.) 419 that would permit DACA recipients to receive professional licenses. The amended bill now moves to the full House. The State Senate must also act on the amended S.B. 419.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General: Immigration and Customs Enforcement Did Not Follow Federal Procurement Guidelines When Contracting for Detention Services, February 21, 2018 (by John V. Kelly, Acting Inspector General)
This report found that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) did not follow federal procurement guidelines when it modified an intergovernmental service agreement (IGSA) with the city of Eloy, Arizona to establish an immigration detention center 900 miles away in Dilley, Texas.
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES
This fact sheet explains family-based immigration, sometimes called “chain migration.” It provides an overview of family visas, information about who is eligible and process of obtaining them, and highlights the economic and cultural benefits of a family-based immigration system.
This is an analysis of the Securing America’s Future (SAF) Act (H.R. 4670) introduced by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R- Virginia) on January 10, 2018. The wide-ranging, over 400-page bill would transform America’s immigration system by reducing annual legal immigration by at least 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. It would also provide some Dreamers with a temporary three-year renewable nonimmigrant status.
This document provides an overview of Senator John Cornyn’s (R-Texas)border security and interior immigration enforcement bill, Building America’s Trust Act (S. 1757). The bill, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate with 8 Republican co-sponsors, would significantly expand border security and interior enforcement in the U.S.
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*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Christian Penichet-Paul, National Immigration Forum Policy and Advocacy Associate, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Christian can be reached at email@example.com. Thank you.