The Week Ahead: April 16-20
April 16, 2018
‘Queen of the Hill’ Gains Supporters
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-California) continues to add supporters of his “Queen of the Hill” resolution, which would bring up four separate immigration bills for a House vote. Should the resolution proceed, the bill receiving the most votes and at least 218 — a majority of the House — would be adopted.
The proposals that would face a vote include the restrictionist Securing America’s Future Act, the bipartisan DREAM Act and USA Act, and an immigration bill of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisconsin) choosing.
Denham’s resolution has at least 45 Republican supporters and he is expecting more this week. With what is expected to be near-unanimous support from Democrats, the proposal easily will surpass the 218-vote threshold that would be needed to pass the House. However, Speaker Ryan has stated his opposition to the approach. He raised doubts about the likelihood of any proposed legislation being signed into law, expecting President Trump to veto any proposals that do not meet his demands for reductions in legal immigration.
Senate to Hold Hearing on Immigration Courts This Week
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration will hold a hearing Wednesday afternoon on “Strengthening and Reforming America’s Immigration Court System.” The hearing follows recent guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice that would establish minimum case quotas for immigration judges while suspending the Legal Orientation Program for immigrants held in detention. Immigration advocates and immigration judge groups have expressed concern about the new guidance.
Witnesses include the Director of Homeland Security and Justice at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and director of the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), as well as legal experts from the American Bar Association, Center for Immigration Studies and National Association of Immigration Judges.
In addition to the Senate hearing, the House will hear testimony on the proposed fiscal year 2019 budgets for the Census Bureau and State Department this week.
Summary of immigration legislation introduced and government reports on immigration: https://immigrationforum.org/blog/legislative-bulletin-friday-april-13-2018/
PROPUBLICA: Who Polices the Immigration Police?
By Deborah Sontag and Dale Russakoff
April 16, 2018
This story was co-published with the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Early one winter morning last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were scouting the last-known address of a fugitive they had labeled Target #147 when they happened upon Isabel Karina Ruiz-Roque.
A turkey farmworker for over a decade, Ruiz-Roque had kept her head down and her record clean, never once encountering los ICEs, as she called them. Then two federal agents rapped on her car window and flashed a photo of the immigration fugitive they believed to be her York County neighbor. Ruiz-Roque, 34, said she did not know the woman, and they told her not to worry, that she was not their target.
ROLL CALL: Trump’s Strategy to Shrink Immigration Court Backlog May Not Work
By Dean DeChiaro
April 16, 2018
A crucial piece of President Donald Trump’s deportation machine is not working the way he wants. He’s arresting thousands more undocumented immigrants than his predecessor, and illegal border traffic has dropped to historically low levels.
Still, something is wrong.
“We have to bring them before a ridiculous court system,” Trump complained at the White House earlier this month.
The vast, complicated immigration court system is designed to uphold a foreigner’s right to due process in the United States before he can be deported. That includes everyone from longtime residents who once overstayed a visa to an asylum-seeking Central American child who arrived alone at the border just days ago.
Trump’s displeasure lies with the system’s massive list of unclosed cases. The courts, overseen by the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, or EOIR, face a backlog that’s grown to nearly 685,000 cases over the last decade. It takes an average of 561 days for a case to be closed.
WASHINGTON POST (Feinstein Op-Ed): Protecting defenseless children is not an immigration ‘loophole’
By Dianne Feinstein
April 13, 2018
I remember watching the nightly television news in the 1990s and seeing a 15-year-old Chinese girl trembling before a U.S. immigration judge. Despite having committed no crime, she was shackled and sobbing. She couldn’t speak English, and it was clear she had no understanding of what the judge was saying or what would happen to her.
Her parents had sent her to the United States in the cargo hold of a container ship because she had been born in violation of China’s rigid family-planning laws — and was therefore denied citizenship, access to health care and education.
By the time the girl appeared before the immigration judge, she had already been detained for eight months. Even more shocking: After she was granted political asylum, she was detained for four more months before she was released.
This situation would not be allowed to occur today because Congress has enacted laws to provide basic humanitarian protections to unaccompanied immigrant children.