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A Hearing on the DREAM Act and Release of 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report Highlight This Week's  Immigration- and Refugee-Related Legislative Action


By Micheal E. Hill
Monday, June 27, 2011
-- 7:15 am EDT
--Updated on Tuesday, June 28, 2011, at 8:10 am EDT--
--Original Version Posted on Saturday, June 25, 2011 at 1:15 pm EDT--

The U.S. House of Representatives is in recess this week, leaving the Senate alone in the Capitol as it limps toward a week-long July 4 recess. This week’s big immigration-related legislative action is the first-ever hearing in the Senate on the DREAM Act, which will occur in the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security when Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appear on behalf of the measure. 

On the executive branch front, the Department of State this week will unveil its 2011 Trafficking in Person Report.



This Week's On-the-Hill Activity
In all, at the time of this writing, one hearing on immigration-, border security-, or refugee-related matters was scheduled on Capitol Hill for this week. 

The following lists the highlights of this immigration- and refugee-related legislative-related action:

  • Senate Panel to Hold Hearing on the DREAM Act: The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security has scheduled a hearing for this week on S. 952, the DREAM Act, a measure introduced by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) which is intended to give undocumented students a chance to earn legal status if they came here as children, are long-term U.S. residents, have good moral character, and complete two years of college or military service in good standing.  At the time of this writing, the witness list for the hearing included Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.  Other witnesses may be added prior to the hearing.
 
This Week's "Off-of-the-Hill" Activity
In addition to the schedule of immigration-related action taking place this week on Capitol Hill, a number of significant "off of the Hill" immigration-related activities also are scheduled to occur.

The following lists several highlights of thisweek's "off-of-the-Hill" immigration- and refugee-related legislative-related action:
  • Secretary of State Clinton to 2011 Unveil Traffficking Report. The U.S. Department of State has scheduled an event for this at which the Department will unveil the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report.  Participants in the event will include Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero, and Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Luis CdeBaca.
  • Department of Education Press Conference on the DREAM Act. The U.S. Department of Education has scheduled a telephonic news conference for this week in support of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.  Participants in the news conference will include Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Margaret Stock, former professor, U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
  • Briefing for Foreign Press on Trafficking in Persons Report.  Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Luis CdeBaca is planning a briefing for this week of foreign press on the Department of State's 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report. 


Click Here to See Detailed Listing of the Likely Immigration Actions For the Week of June 27


 

Discussions on the Subject of Immigration Appear Unlikely During This Weekend's Sunday Public Affairs Programs


By Micheal E. Hill

Friday, June 24, 2011  -- 9:25 am EDT
--Updated on Saturday, June 25, 2011, at 11:00 am EDT--

 

A look of the guest lists for this weekend's Sunday public affairs programs indicates that the programs will likely continue to be dominated by discussions on
the issues of war, debt relief, and presidential politics, with little room for discussion on immigration matters.

The following is a guide to what is known at the time of this writing about what can be expected on this weekend's programs:
  • ABC - This Week.  Among the guests on the June 26, 2011, edition of ABC's "This Week" program will  be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn (D-SC).  Appearing during the roundtable segment of the program will be ABC's George Will, former White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, Thomson Reuters' Chrystia Freeland, and ABC's senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl.   Given the lineup of guests, it is unlikely that the subject of immigration will be discussed during the program.
  • CBS - Face the Nation.  Among the guests on the June 26, 2011, edition of CBS's "Face the Nation" program will be Representative Michele Bachman (R-MN), founder of the Tea Party Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives and a prospective candidate for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination.   It is uncertain whether the issue of immigration will come up during the program.
  • CNN - State of the Union. Among the guests on the June 26, 2011, edition of CNN's "State of the Union" program will be House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI).  Also appearing on the program will be former Obama Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton and Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.
  • FOX - FOX News Sunday.  Among the guests appearing on the June 26, 2011, edition of FOX's "FOX News Sunday" will be Representative Michele Bachman (R-MN), founder of the Tea Party Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives and a prospective candidate for the 2012 Republican Presidential nominaion.  Also appearing on the program will be Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ), who recently pulled out of the bipartisan debt relief talks.  Appearing during the roundtable segment of the program will be Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard and Fox News; Brit Hume, Fox News Senior Political Analyst; Juan Williams, Fox News Political Analyst; and Kirsten Powers, New York Post Columnist and Fox News Contributor. Given the lineup of guests, it is unlikely that the subject of immigration will be discussed during the program.
  • NBC - Meet the Press.  Among the guests on the June 26, 2011, edition of NBC's "Meet the Press" program will be Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ), Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), and Senator Jim Webb (D-VA).  Appearing during the roundtable segment of the program will be the BBC's Katty Kay, David Brooks of the New york Times, and Matt Bai of the New York Times.  Given the lineup of guests, it is unlikely that the subject of immigration will be discussed during the program.

 

House Judiciary Committee Approves Visa Revocation and
Nonimmigrant Nurses Bills


By Micheal E. Hill
Friday, June 24, 2011
-- 8:45 am EDT

The full House Committee on the Judiciary has approved two immigration bills, moving them a step closer to consideration by the full House of Representatives.  Committee action occurred on Thursday, June 23, 2011, in connection with H.R. 1741, the "Secure Visas Act", which seeks to make it easier for the Departments of State and Homeland Security to deny ad revoke visas, and H.R. 1933, legislation that would revive and revise the H-1C nonimmigrant nurses program.  The Committee approved the visa security bill by a party-line vote of 17-11 after an extensive debate and the consideration of four amendments.  It approved the H-1C bill by a voice vote after a brief debate and the consideration of only one amendment.

The following briefly summarizes the two bills that the Committee approved:
  • H.R. 1741, Visa Security Bill.  As approved by the House Committee on the Judiciary, H.R. 1741 would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to grant the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) (Secretary), except for the Secretary of State's authority with respect to diplomatic- and international organization-related visas, exclusive authority to issue regulations, establish policy, and administer and enforce the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and all other immigration or nationality laws relating to U.S. consular officer visa functions.
The measure would authorize the Secretary to refuse or revoke any visa to an alien or class of aliens if necessary or advisable for U.S. security interests. It would prohibit judicial review of such determinations, provide that any such visa revocation shall become effective immediately, and cancel any other visa in an alien's possession.

In addition, H.R. 1741 would authorize the Secretary of State to direct a consular officer to refuse or revoke a visa if necessary or advisable for U.S. foreign policy interests.

H.R. 1741 would prohibit a decision by the Secretary of State to approve a visa from overriding a revocation or refusal determination by the Secretary.
 
H.R. 1741 would direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to review on-site all visa applications and supporting documentation before adjudication at visa-issuing posts in Algeria, Canada, Colombia, Egypt, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in Israel, Jordan, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the UK, Venezuela, and Yemen. And it would authorize the Secretary to assign DHS employees to such posts.

The measure states that if the Secretary or the Secretary of State revokes a visa, the relevant consular, law enforcement, and terrorist screening databases shall be immediately updated; and look-out notices shall be posted to all DHS port inspectors and Department of State consular officers.

The measure also would amend the INA to eliminate the exception permitting judicial review of a visa revocation where such revocation is the sole ground for a deportation process based upon an alien's unlawful presence in the U.S.

The Committee approved two amendments during its consideration of H.R. 1741 and rejected two others.

The first amendment that the Committee agreed to was a Smith-Berman Amendment striking a provision that would have limited the Secretary of State's authority to refuse or revoke a visas to only those instances when such an act was necessary or advisable in the foreign policy interests of the United States.  The second amendment that the Committee agreed to was a Deutch-Berman Amendment clarifying that the bill's requirement to conduct on-site reviews of visa applications would not affect the authority of the chidef of mission to a foreign country or the process established by the President for determining staffing at diplomatic missions and overseas constituent posts.

The most impassioned debate during the markup of the bill occurred when the Committee took up an amendment offered by Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL) that would have stricken the measure's provision barring judicial review of a decision to revoke a visa for someone who already is in the United States.  Representative Deutch and many of his Democratic colleagues arugued that the language in the bill constituted an unconstitutional deprivation of visa holders' due process rights.  The Committee rejected the Deutch Amendment, however, by a vote of 10-15.
  • H.R. 1933, H-1C Nurses Nonimmigrant Program Bill.  As approved by the House Committee on the Judiciary, H.R. 1933 would revive the expired H-1C nonimmigrant nurses program, which provided for the admission of up to 500 nurses into the United States each year to work in areas with nursing shortages.  The Committee-approved bill would reduce the number of visas that can be issued each year under the program to 300; extend the program for three years; provide that nurses admitted under the program may serve in the United States for two three-year periods rather than just one three-year period; and permit nurses admitted under the program to move to other employers so long as their new employers are participants in the H-1C program.
The H-1C program was first established in 1999, when Congress enacted P.L. 106-95, the “Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act of 1999”, into law.  The measure established the H-1C nonimmigrant program, which provided for the admission of up to 500 nurses into the United States each year to work in areas with nursing shortages.   It was initially authorized for a period of four years. It was renewed in 2006 pursuant to P.L. 109-423, the “Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Reauthorization Act of 2005. The program expired in December of 2009.

The Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act of 1999, and its reauthorization in December of 2006, allowed qualifying hospitals to employ temporary foreign workers as Registered Nurses (RNs) for up to three years under H-1C visas. Only 500 H-1C visas could be issued each year during the period of the H-1C program. Additionally, no state with a population of less than nine million persons could receive more than 25 nonimmigrant nurses under the program, and states with a population in excess of nine million persons could have no more than 50 nurses under the program.

The Committee considered only one amendment to H.R. 1933.  The amendment, offered by House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement Ranking Minority Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), sought to add a provsion to the bill permitting nurses admitted to the United States under the H-1C program to switch to other employers so long as the employer was eligible to participate in the H-1C program.  The Committee agreed to the Lofgren Amendment by a voice vote.


Next Steps
Now that the House Committee on the Judiciary has approved H.R. 1741 and H.R. 1933, the next step in the legislative process is for the Committee to prepare formal written reports on the two measures and formally report the to the full House of Representatives.  Following that, the House could take up the measures at any time. 

At the time of this writing, no timetable for House consideration of the measure had been announced.

 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Smith Planning to Introduce Bill to Circumscribe President Obama's Authority to Grant Immigration Relief or Temporary Protected Status to Aliens in the United States


By Micheal E. Hill
Thursday, June 23, 2011
-- 6:30 am EDT

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) is planning to introduce legislation that would take the extraordinary step of barring President Barack Obama from granting relief from removal, discretionary grants of work authorization, cancellation of removal, and even Temporary Protected Status (TPS) during the remainder of his presidential term.

Citing an internal, unreleased memorandum on forms of administrative immigration relief available to the Administration that was leaked last year, a "seemingly-authentic draft DHS memo" on administrative relief options that more recently was leaked, and a memorandum on prosecutorial discretion from ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton that was released last week, Chairman Smith sent a "Dear Collleague" letter to other Members of the House of Representatives, dated on Thursday, June 23, 2011, in which he solicited their support for the “HALT (Hinder the Administration’s Legalization Temptation) Act”, which he plans to introduce in the U.S. House of Representatives in the coming days.

According to the Smith "Dear Colleague" letter, the HALT Act would prevent the Obama Administration from --
  • granting parole (except in narrow circumstances)
  • issuing deferred action (except in narrow circumstances)
  • issuing extended voluntary departure to removable aliens
  • granting work authorization to aliens on a discretionary basis
  • granting TPS to any new groups of aliens
  • waiving the three and 10 year bars to admittance for aliens who have been illegally present in the U.S.
  • granting cancellation of removal to illegal immigrants. 
The Smith "Dear Colleague" letter indicates that the bill "will restore these powers to the next president whom the American people elect – on January 22, 2013."

Smith asserts in his letter that, "[b]ecause of the Obama Administration’s record, it cannot be trusted with these powers."  He posed the question, "How do we handle extraordinary humanitarian situations that might arise in the interim?"  And he answers it by asserting, "Congress can always act by passing private bills to help individual aliens in the U.S. or outside the U.S. when we deem it wise, just and prudent."

At the time of this writing, it is not possible to know whether Chairman Smith intends to move the HALT Act through Committee and to the House floor.   While he could well have enough votes to pass such a measure in the House, it is highly unlikely that he could get it through the Senate.   And if it did pass the Senate, it would almost certainly draw a veto.



Text of the June 23, 2011, Smith "Dear Colleague" Letter on the HALT Act




House Judiciary Committee to Mark Up Two
Controversial and One Not-So-Controversial Immigration Bills


By Micheal E. Hill
Thursday, June 23, 2011
-- 12:01 am EDT
--Original Version Posted on Friday, June 3, 2011 at 8:00 am EDT--

The full House Committee on the Judiciary has scheduled a markup for today of three immigration-related bills, two of which are controversial and have appeared on the markup calendar before, and the third of which is noncontroversial and is appearing on the calendar for the first time.  However a combination of the ambitious schedule (two items unrelated to the subject of immigration also were on the calendar at the time of this writing), numerous Democratic amendments, and activities that will be occurring on the House floor, the Committee could run out of time and be unable to complete action on all three bills before the markup session ends.

The two more controversial immigration-related measures that the Committee has on its agenda are H.R. 1741, the "Secure Visas Act", which was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX); and H.R. 1932, the "Keep Our Communities Safe Act of 2001", a measure that also was introduced by Chairman Smith (R-TX), that would provide for the indefinite detention of "dangerous" aliens.  Both bills first appeared on the Committee's markup calendar on June 2, 2011, but they were not considered at that time because the Committee ran out of time before it could take them up.  Both bills also will likely be the target of numerous amendments from the Democratic side of the aisle.  The one not-so-contoversial bill that the Committee is planning to mark up today is H.R. 1933, legislation introduced by Chairman Smith that would revive and revise the H-1C nonimmigrant nurses program.

The following briefly summarizes the three immigration-related bills that are on the Committee's markup calendar:
  • H.R. 1741, Visa Security Bill.  As introduced, H.R. 1741 would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to grant the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) (Secretary), except for the Secretary of State's authority with respect to diplomatic- and international organization-related visas, exclusive authority to issue regulations, establish policy, and administer and enforce the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and all other immigration or nationality laws relating to U.S. consular officer visa functions.
The measure would authorize the Secretary to refuse or revoke any visa to an alien or class of aliens if necessary or advisable for U.S. security interests. It would prohibit judicial review of such determinations, provide that any such visa revocation shall become effective immediately, and cancel any other visa in an alien's possession.

In addition, H.R. 1741 would authorize the Secretary of State to direct a consular officer to refuse or revoke a visa if necessary or advisable for U.S. foreign policy interests.

H.R. 1741 would prohibit a decision by the Secretary of State to approve a visa from overriding a revocation or refusal determination by the Secretary.
 
H.R. 1741 would direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to review on-site all visa applications and supporting documentation before adjudication at visa-issuing posts in Algeria, Canada, Colombia, Egypt, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in Israel, Jordan, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the UK, Venezuela, and Yemen. And it would authorize the Secretary to assign DHS employees to such posts.

The measure states that if the Secretary or the Secretary of State revokes a visa, the relevant consular, law enforcement, and terrorist screening databases shall be immediately updated; and look-out notices shall be posted to all DHS port inspectors and Department of State consular officers.

The measure also would amend the INA to eliminate the exception permitting judicial review of a visa revocation where such revocation is the sole ground for a deportation process based upon an alien's unlawful presence in the U.S.

  • H.R. 1932, Indefinite Detention of "Dangerous" Aliens.  As introduced, H.R. 1932 would allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to detain specified dangerous aliens under orders of removal who cannot be removed. The measure would authorize DHS to detain aliens who effected an entry beyond six months if the alien will be removed in the reasonably foreseeable future; the alien would have been removed but for the alien’s refusal to make all reasonable efforts to comply and cooperate with the Secretary of DHS’ efforts to remove him; the alien has a highly contagious disease; release would have serious adverse foreign policy consequences; release would threaten national security; or release would threaten the safety of the community and the alien either is an aggravated felon or has committed a crime of violence.
Under H.R. 1932, DHS would be able to detain such aliens for six months at a time, and that period could be renewed.  In addition to providing for the indefinite detention of aliens, H.R. 1932 also would expand instances where aliens are subject to mandatory detention. And the measure would limit jurisdiction to review habeas corpus petitions from aliens subject to mandatory detention to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
  • H.R. 1933, H-1C Nurses Nonimmigrant Program Bill.  As introduced, H.R. 1933 would would revive the expired H-1C nonimmigrant nurses program, which provided for the admission of up to 500 nurses into the United States each year to work in areas with nursing shortages; reduce the number of visas that can be issued each year under the program to 300; extend the program for three years; and provide that nurses admitted under the program could serve in the United States for two three-year periods rather than just one three-year period.
The H-1C program was first established in 1999, when Congress enacted P.L. 106-95, the “Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act of 1999”, into law.  The measure established the H-1C nonimmigrant program, which provided for the admission of up to 500 nurses into the United States each year to work in areas with nursing shortages.   It was initially authorized for a period of four years. It was renewed in 2006 pursuant to P.L. 109-423, the “Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Reauthorization Act of 2005. The program expired in December of 2009.

The Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act of 1999, and its reauthorization in December of 2006, allowed qualifying hospitals to employ temporary foreign workers as Registered Nurses (RNs) for up to three years under H-1C visas. Only 500 H-1C visas could be issued each year during the period of the H-1C program. Additionally, no state with a population of less than nine million persons could receive more than 25 nonimmigrant nurses under the program, and states with a population in excess of nine million persons could have no more than 50 nurses under the program.


 

Trio of Senior Senate Democrats Join Senator Bob Menendez in Introducing a Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill


By Micheal E. Hill

Wednesday, June 22, 2011
-- 6:00 pm EDT
--Updated on Thursday, June 23, 2011, at 9:10 am EDT--



Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today introduced  S. 1258,
the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011", legislation to comprehensively reform the nation's immigration laws and system.  Senator Menendez was joined in introducing the measure by three senior Democrats: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL).   Additional cosponsors of the measure include Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security Chairman Charles Schumer (D-NY), Senator John Kerry (D-A), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).

The centerpiece of the "Comprehensive Reform Act of 2011" is its provision that would provide for a path to legalization and eventual citizenship to aliens who currently are illegally residing in the United States and who meet the bill's criteria.  The bill would create a new status, called Lawful Prospective Immigrant (LPI) status,  for non‐criminal undocumented aliens living in the U.S. since June 1, 2011.  It would require applicants to submit  biometric and biographical data, undergo security and law enforcement checks, and pay a $500 fine plus application fees.  An alien in LPI status could remain so for four years, and that four year period could be extended.  Under the bill, aliens in LPI status would receive work authorization and permission to travel abroad.  They also would be eligible to have their immediate family members receive LPI status.  In order to adjust to permanent residency, applicants would be required to wait in line between six and eight years, pay taxes and a $1000 fine, learn English and U.S. civics,  and undergo additional background checks. They would not be permitted to adjust to LPR status until all of those who were in line to legally immigrate to the United States ahead of them do so.

In addition to providing for the legalization of undocumented aliens through the LPI program outlined in the bill, the "Comprehensive Reform Act of 2011" incorporates into its text two iconic legalization measures: the DREAM Act,
a measure introduced by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) which is intended to give undocumented students a chance to earn legal status if they came here as children, are long-term U.S. residents, have good moral character, and complete two years of college or military service in good standing; and the AgJOB bill, a measure sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) which would legalize current undocumented seasonal agricultural workers and make changes to the H-2A nonimmigrant seasonal agricultural worker program. 

The Menendez bill would do far more than merely legalize undocumented ailiens.  It also contains subtitles on workplace immigration enforcement, border enforcement, and interior immigration enforcement.  Among the immigration enforcement provisions in the bill are provisions that would mandate that all employers in the United States use an electronic employment verification system, establish a fraud-resistant and tamper-resistant Social Security card, increase criminal penalties for the misuse of Social Security numbers, and expand the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP).

With regard to the legal immigration system, the Menendez bill would establish a Standing Commission on Immigration, Labor Markets, and the National interest to evaluate labor market and economic conditions and  recommend quotas for employment-based visa programs that Congress and the President would act on.  In addition, it would exempt certain immigrants from counting against the annual immigration quotas so that they can immediately reunite with loved ones in the U.S., including spouses and minor children of LPRs.  Additionally, it would incorporate the text of S. 821, the Uniting American Families Act, a controversial measure that would allow "permanent partners"  of gay and lesbian U.S. citizens and permanent residence to access the family‐based immigration system.

With regard to other provisions, the measure contains sections to enhance programs and policies to help immigrants learn English and U.S. civics, such as tax credits for teachers of English language learners and businesses who provide such training for their employees; revamp the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Citizenship and New Americans to assist with immigrant integration; provide for grants for states that work to successfully integrate newcomers; provide for humanitarian immigration visas for Haitian children orphaned by the 2010 earthquake; and provide for immigration status for Liberian nationals who fled civil strife and received Temporary Protected Status in the U.S.

The Menendez bill will likely be referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, with no legislative action on it anticipated.


Unofficial Text of S. 1258. the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011
Short Section-by-Section Summary of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011
Long Section-by-Section Summary of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011



 

No E-Verify Markup, the Commemoration of World Refugee Day, and the Markup of Three Immigration and Visa Security Bills Highlight This Week's Immigration- and Refugee-Related Legislative Action


By Micheal E. Hill
Monday, June 20, 2011
-- 7:45 am EDT
--Original Version Posted on Friday, June 17, 2011, at 10:00 am EDT--
--Updated on Wednesday, June 22, 2011, at 8:20 am EDT--

The House Committee on the Judiciary is scheduled to mark up a trio of bills this week that would provide for the indefinite detention of "dangerous" aliens, make it easier to deny and revoke visas for aliens; and renew and revise a program for nonimmigrant nurses who come to the United States to work in underserved communities.  As big as the news of the impending action on those measures is, the far bigger news this week is the immigration legislative activity that is NOT happening.  It was widely anticipated that during the coming week, the House Committee on the Judiciary would markup H.R. 2164, the "Legal Workforce Act", a mandatory E-Verify bill which was introduced last week in the U.S. House of Representatives by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX).  However, the Committee has delayed marking up the measure until July or later, calling into doubt whether there will be sufficient votes in the House to pass the delicately balanced measure without substantial alteration of it.


E-Verify Bill In Trouble?
Predictably, H.R. 2164 is vehemently opposed by the pro-immigrant advocacy community.  However, it was carefullly crafted in an effort to win the support of the immigration restrictionst-oriented Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), avoid opposition by seasonal agricultural employers, and to win the support of such big business organizations as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Home Builders, and the National Restaurant Association. 

Notwithstanding the careful crafting of the bill, a chorus of criticisms and denouncements of it has emerged from the hard right of the immigration restrictionst movement, key members of which believe it is too tame and does not go far enough in clamping down on illegal immigration.  Critics of the bill from the right include three of the modern immigration restrictionist movement's key icons:
  • Lou Barletta.  Freshman Representative Lou Barletta (R-PA), the former Mayor of Hazelton, Pennsylvania who achieved icon status by shepherding the first anti-immigrant ordinance into law, last week penned a "Dear Colleague" Letter attacking H.R. 2164
  • Russell Pearce.  Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, author of Arizona's controversial S.B. 1070 immigration enforcement law, wrote an op-ed expressing opposition to H.R. 2164, shortly after the bill was introduced.
  • Kris W. Kobach.  Kris W. Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who has provided the intellectual firepower behind a host of state and local immigration enforcement laws and bills, authored an op-ed lambasting H.R. 2164 the day after it was introduced.

To be fair, Chairman Smith never publicly indicated that the Committee planned to markup H.R. 2164 this week.  Moreover, Chairman Smith and his staff are extraordinarily talented and resourceful and it could well be the case that they can tweak the bill enough to get it through the Committee and the full House of Representatives.  But, at the time of this writing, it seems equally plausible that any changes Smith makes to H.R. 2164 that would win the support of its critics on the right will prompt opposition to the bill from the mainstream business community and even more vehement opposition from the powerful agricultural lobby.  It also seems plausible that if the text of the bill remains as it was introduced, opposition from the hard right of the immigration restrictionist movement could give moderate Democrats enough cover to oppose it and motivate hard right Republicans in the House of Representatives to do so, as well, dooming the bill to being killed by an improbable left-right coalition.

And so, one week after introduction in the House of Representatives of a mandatory E-Verify bill that everyone once assumed would breeze through the chamber, the only thing certain at the time of this writing is that advocates on both sides of the E-Verify issue are in for an interesting, bumpy ride during what will be a long, hot summer.



This Week's On-the-Hill Activity
In all, at the time of this writing, three markups and potential immigration-, border security-, or refugee-related floor actions on at least two measures were scheduled on Capitol Hill for this week. 

The following lists the highlights of this week's immigration- and refugee-related legislative-related action:

  • House Judiciary Committee to Markup Bill on the Indefinite Detention of "Dangerous" Aliens. The House Committee on the Judiciary has scheduled a markup for this week of H.R. 1932, the "Keep Our Communities Safe Act of 2001", a measure introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) that would provide for the indefinite detention of "dangerous" aliens. 
  • House Judiciary Committee to Markup of Visa Security Bill. The House Committee on the Judiciary has scheduled a markup for this week of H.R. 1741, the "Secure Visas Act", which was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX).

    House Judiciary Committee to Markup of Nurses Visa Bill. The House Committee on the Judiciary has scheduled a markup for this week of H.R. 1933, legislation that would revive and revise the H-1C nonimmigrant nurses program.
  • Full Senate to Resume Economic Development Administration Reauthorization Bill with Five Immigration Floor Amendments Possible. The Senate this week is expected to resume its consideration of S. 782, the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011.  While the measure, itself, does not contain any immigration- or refugee-related provisions, at the time of this writing, at least five immigration- or refugee-related amendments to the bill had been filed and could be offered at any time.  These include SA 421, an amendment filed by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) relating to the construction of fencing along the U.S. border with Mexico; SA 419, an amendment filed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that would permanently reauthorize the EB-5 Investor Visa Regional Center program, which otherwise is set to expire on September 30, 2012; SA 456, an amendment filed by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that would expand the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) to permit reimbursement to state and local governments for the incarceration of aliens who are charged with a felony or two misdemeanors; SA 455, an amendment filed by Senator Feinstein that would amend Title 18, United States Code, to prohibit persons convicted of certain felonies in foreign courts from purchasing firearms; and SA 434, an amendment filed by Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Minority Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) that would permanently reauthorize the E-Verify Program, which otherwise is set to expire on September 30, 2012.
  • Full House to Take Up Defense Appropriations Bill Containing Several Familar Immigration-Related Provisions. The full House of Representatives this week is expected to take up H.R. 2219, the Fiscal Year 2012 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill, which contains several immigration-related provisions and could be the target for immigration-related amendments on the House floor.  Among the immigration-related provisions in the House Appropriations Committee-reported version of the bill are those that would bar use of funds in contravention of U.S. laws and regulations implementing the U.N. Torture Convention and provisions prohibiting the transfer into the United States or to other countries of Guantanamo detainees.

This Week's "Off-of-the-Hill" Activity
In addition to the schedule of immigration-related action taking place this week on Capitol Hill, a number of significant "off of the Hill" immigration-related activities also are scheduled to occur, including events during which Members, Senators, and refugee advocates will commemorate World Refugee Day.

The following lists several highlights of this week's "off-of-the-Hill" immigration- and refugee-related legislative-related action:
  • Discussion on the Hispanic Population and the 2012 Elections.  NDN has scheduled a panel discussion for this week titled,  "What the 2010 Census Means for the 2012 Elections."  Participants in the discussion will include Morley Winograd, Fellow, NDN; Joel Kotkin, Author; Carlos Odio, Director of Special Projects, New Organizing Institute; and Alicia Menendez (moderator), Senior Adviser, NDN.
  • UNHCR Reception for World Refugee Day.  The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is sponsoring a reception for this week to commemorate World Refugee Day 2011.  Remarks will be made by Eric Schwartz, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM); Vincent Cochetel, Regional Representative, UNHCR; and Dan Kosten, Charman, Refugee Council USA and Vice-President of Programs, World Relief.
  • Photo Exhibition in Commemoration of World Refugee Day.  Refugee Council USA is sponsoring a photo exhibition this week to commemorate World Refugee Day.  The event "will honor some of the doctors, nurses, faith leaders, lawyers, business owners, farmers, case workers, teachers, and many others who welcome refugees into their communities and whose commitment to service helps keep America's great light of hope burning bright for the oppressed around the world."
  • Panel Discussion on the REAL ID Act and Driver's Licenses.  The Heritage Foundation and the Coalition for a Secure Drivers License have scheduled a discussion for this week titled, "Making Real ID a Reality: Next Steps for Congress."  Participants in the discussion will include Representative F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI); Janice Kephart, Director of National Security Policy at the Center for Immigration Studies; Brian Zimmer, President of the Coalition for a Secure Drivers License; and Jena Baker McNeill, Senior Policy Analyst of Homeland Security at the Heritage Foundation.
  • Reception for World Refugee Day.  Refugee Council USA is sponsoring a Capitol Hill reception this week to commemorate World Refugee Day.  Sponsors and participants will include House foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Minority Member Howard Berman (D-CA); Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL); Representative Gary Peters (D-MI); Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA); Sarah Costa, Executive Director, Women's Refugee Commission; Dr. Katherine Yun, Yale School of Medicine; and Demisse Abebe, Executive Director, TASSC International.
  • Plenary on Student Visas.  The U.S. Department of State this week is hosting a plenary on student visas as part of its EducationUSA Forum.  Among the participants in the plenary will be Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michael Kirby.

Click Here to See Detailed Listing of the Likely Immigration Actions For the Week of June 20


 

The Subject of Refugees Surfaces During the June 19
Sunday Public Affairs Programs



By Micheal E. Hill

Sunday, June 18, 2011  -- 11:55 pm EDT
--Updated on Monday, June 20, 2011, at 8:00 am EDT--


The subject of immigration came up tangentially during only one of the June 19, 2011, Sunday public affairs programs.  In this instance, the actual subject that came up was how two Iraqi nationals who were admitted to the United States as refugees and who recently were arrested in a Bowling Green, Kentucky sting operation, should be tried for their crimes.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), appearing on CBS News' "Face the Nation" program, was emphatic that the two defendants should be tried in military tribunals rather than in the federal court system, notwithstanding the fact that the crimes they committed were on American soil.



Click on the Play Button, Above, to See Streaming Video of Senator McConnell's Remarks on CBS News' "Face the Nation" Program

 

Discussions on the Subject of Immigration are Possible but Unlikely During This Weekend's Sunday's Public Affairs Programs


By Micheal E. Hill

Friday, June 17, 2011  -- 8:16 am EDT
--Updated on Sunday, June 19, 2011, at 7:00 am EDT--

 

The final guest for this weekend's Sunday Public Affairs programs
contains four figures with a long history on immigration issues: Senator John McCain, coauthor with the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) of several comprehensive immigration reform bills over the last decade; Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL), author of the DREAM Act in the Senate; Senate Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-NY), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security; and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a former sometimes champion of comprehensive immigration reform. 

Notwithstanding the appearances by Senators McCain, Durbin, Schumer, and Graham on this weekend's programs, however, the issues of war, debt relief, and presidential politics are likely to dominate the programs, and it is doubtful whether or not the subject of immigration will come up during them.

The following is a guide to what can be expected on this weekend's programs:
  • ABC - This Week.  Among the guests on the June 19, 2011, edition of ABC's "This Week" program will be Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Minority Member and 2008 Republican Presidential Nominee John McCain (R-AZ).  Also appearing on the program will be Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani; Elizabeth Cheney of Keep America Safe; and David Ignatius of the Washington Post.  And ABC News' Robin Roberts will conduct a taped Father's Day interview with President Barack Obama.  Appearing during the roundtable segment of the program will be ABC News' George Will; ABC News Political Director Amy Walter; ABC News Political Analyst Matthew Dowd; and Slate magazine's Jacob Weisberg.
  • CBS - Face the Nation.  Among the guests on the June 19, 2011, edition of CBS's "Face the Nation" program will be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-NY), and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI).  Given the lineup of guests, it is possible but unlikely that the subject of immigration will be discussed during the program.
  • CNN - State of the Union.  Among the guests on the June 19, 2011, edition of CNN's "State of the Union" program will be outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.  Also appearing on the program will be former White House and Obama Campaign advisor David Axelrod.  Given the lineup of guests, it is unlikely that the subject of immigration will be discussed during the program.
  • FOX - FOX News Sunday.  Among the guests appearing on the June 19, 2011, edition of FOX's "FOX News Sunday" will be outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and political satirist Jon Stewart, host of the Comedy Channel's "The Daily Show."  Appearing during the roundtable segment of the program will be Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard and Fox News; Mara Liasson, National Public Radio and Fox News; Dana Perino, former Press Secretary for then President George W. Bush; and Bill Burton, former Deputy Press Secretary for President Barack ObamaGiven the lineup of guests, it is unlikely that the subject of immigration will be discussed during the program.
  • NBC - Meet the Press.  Among the guests on the June 19, 2011, edition of NBC's "Meet the Press" program will be Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)Given the lineup of guests, it is possible but unlikely that the subject of immigration will be discussed during the program.

 

Chairman Leahy and Ranking Minority Member Lofgren Introduce the Refugee Protection Act of 2011 in the Senate and House


By Micheal E. Hill

Thursday, June 15, 2011
-- 1:15 am EDT
--Updated on Thursday, June 16, 2011, at 8:20 am EDT--

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement Ranking Minority Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) have introduced the "Refugee Protection Act of 2011" in the Senate and House of Representatives.  The two legislators introduced the measure on Wednesday, June 15, 2011 as S. 1202 in the Senate and H.R. 2185 in the House of Representatives.

Chairman Leahy was joined by
Senators Carl Levin (D-MI), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) in introducing the Refugee Protection Act in the Senate.  Ranking Minority Member Lofgren was joined by House Judiciary Committee Ranking Minority Member John Conyers (D-MI) in introducing the bill in the House.

The measure contains 32 sections, including 28 substantive sections.  Among the
most significant ones are sections that would eliminate the one-year time limit for applicants to apply for asylum in the United States; modify the "Material Support" provisions of law that the sponsors believe result in victims of terrorism being mistakenly defined as terrorists and, thus, excluded from the United States; make changes to asylum law to make it easier for certain vulnerable groups of asylum seekers to win their asylum claims; authorize the Attoney General to appoint counsel for an alien in removal proceedings "where fair resolution or effective adjudication of the case would be served by doing so;" modify the way asylum seekers are treated when in expedited removal; establish a secure "alternatives to detention" program for certain aliens in civil immigration custody; and provide for the release from detention of aliens seeking asylum if they have been found to have a credible fear of persecution."

Other significant sections in the Refugee Protection Act include those that would require the promulgation of regulations to address conditions of detention for detained aliens, including access to legal service providers, group legal orientation presentations, recreational programs and activities, access to law libraries, prompt case notification requirements, access to working telephones, access to religious sservices, notice of transfers, access to facilities by nongovernmental organizations, and the limitation of the use of solitary confinement, shackling, and strip searches; exempt children from the safe third country and one-year deadline for filing for asylum. 

Still other sections in the Refugee Protection Act would povide that the asylum cases of all children shall be before an asylum officer in a non-adversarial proceeding; authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make grants to assist lawfully resettled refugees with legal advice on applications for immigration benefits to which they may be entitled; enable stateless persons to obtain lawful status in the United States; authorize the President of the United States to designate certain groups as eligible for expedited adjudication as refugees; require the refugee consultation process between the Administration and Congress to take place earlier in the year; permit the admission of refugees in cases where the Presidential Determination on refugee admissions is delayed; update the Reception and Placement Grants made to non-governmental organizations that partner with the federal government in refugee resettlement; and extend by two years the limitation on how long refugees who have not become naturalized U.S. citizens are eligibile for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.


In introducing the measure, Senator Leahy said,
"[t]here is no question that the United States is leader among nations in refugee protection, but we can do better."  He added that "[t]he refugees we welcome to our shores contribute to the fabric of our nation, and enrich the communities where they settle."  Continuing, Chairman Leahy added, "[t]he Refugee Protection Act will reaffirm the commitments our nation made in ratifying the 1951 Refugee Convention ... This bill would repeal the most harsh and unnecessary elements of current law, and help return the United States to its rightful role as a safe and welcoming home for those suffering from persecution around the world."

Senator Leahy and Representative Lofgren introduced the "Refugee Protection Act" of 2011" just days before the refugee community is scheduled to commemorate World Refugee Day on June 20, 2011.



Section-by-Section Analysis of the Refugee Protection Act of 2011, Prepared by Senate Staff
Congressional Record Introductory Statement by Senator Patrick Leahy
 
 

House Judiciary Committee Panel Holds Hearing on Chairman Smith's Bill Mandating that All Employers Use an Electronic Employment Verification System to Verify the Employment Eligibility of Prospective Employees


By Micheal E. Hill
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
-- 1:00 pm EDT

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement held a hearing today on H.R. 2164, the "Legal Workforce Act", which has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX).  Testifying at the hearing were Representative Ken Calvert (R-CA), whose amendment in 1996 created the E-Verify program; Barry Rutenberg, First Vice Chairman, National Association of Home Builders; Craig S. Miller, Former President and CEO, Ruth's Chris Steak House, representing the National Restaurant Association; and Tyler Moran, Policy Director, National Immigration Law Center (NILC).

As introduced on June 14, 2011, H.R. 2164 would mandate that
all employers in the United States use an electronic employment verification system (EEVS) to verify the employment eligibility of their newhires. 

The following summarizes the testimony at the hearing:
  • Representative Ken Calvert.  In Representative Ken Calvert's prepared testimony, the Congressman asserted that "[o]f the millions of queries run through the computer based E-Verify system, 98.3% of employees are instantly verified. Individuals who are given a tentative non-confirmation are given eight business days to contact SSA or DHS regarding their case. Currently one percent of all queried employees choose to contest an E-Verify result and only half of them - point five percent - are successful in contesting that the governments information was incorrect. E-Verify is doing the job it was intended: denying employment to people in the United States not authorized to work."  He declared that "E-Verify is ready for mandatory use", asserting that "[t]he Legal Workforce Act would phase in the mandatory requirement over 24 months for most employers with the exception for agricultural labor which will have 36 months to comply."  Calvert  defended the extra time in the bill for seasonal agricultural employers to comply with the Act, asserting that "I think it is important to ensure our agriculture community has the labor they need.  I support parallel legislation to provide a workable guest worker program that includes the necessary safeguards to ensure that guest workers leave on time.  This should be easier to do because with mandatory employment verification guest workers will not be able to secure a legal job in the U.S. after their seasonal work visa expires."
  • Barry Rutenberg.  In the National Association of Homebuilder's Barry Rutenberg's prepared testimony, Mr. Rutenberg told the Subcommittee that the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) supports H.R. 2164, including a number of features of the bill: holding employer responsible for verifying the eligibility of its employees but not of the employees of subcontractors; federal preemption of state law; applying the EEVS requirements to day labor sites; providing employers with a safe harbor from liability either to DHS or to a prospective employee for mistakes in the System; toll-free telephonic asscess to the System for employers;  a phase-in period that takes into account the size of businesses; permitting employers to use EEVS earlier in the hiring process.  At the same time, Mr. Rutenberg expressed several concerns about the bill.  Among them was a concern that the bill would allow states and localities to use their authority over business licensing and similar laws to penalize employers who do not comply with this legislation.  About this concern, Mr. Rutenberg said, "[o]n the surface, this seems to be a reasonable use of state authority in the mandated federal program. However, we are concerned this language could open the door for every state to develop its own enforcement programs and requirements. There could be potential for finding ourselves in the same position we are in now: with a patchwork quilt of differing state-level enforcement regulations of the federal mandate, all related to business licensing."  Mr. Rutenberg also expressed concerns about whether the bill would adequately protect employers who decide not to hire a prospective employee because of a tentative nonconfirmation.
  • Craig S. Miller.  In the National Restaurant Association's Craig S. Miller's prepared testimony, Mr. Miller expressed support for H.R. 2164, saying that "[w]e realize that E-Verify is not infallible, as unauthorized workers using stolen or  borrowed identifications might still pass an E-Verify check, but we support Congress’ efforts to establish a more effective federal system for all employers.  For businesses across the country, particularly small businesses, it is imperative that any mandated E-Verify program be successful, efficient, and cost-effective within their own administrative structure."  Continuing, Mr. Miller said, "[a] federal E-Verify mandate would have an impact on the day-to-day activities, obligations, responsibilities, and exposure to liability of all restaurants, regardless of size." 
In his prepared statement, Mr. Miller offered support for a number of features in H.R. 2164.  For instance, he praised the bill's call for the creation of a toll-free telephonic option for doing E-Verify inquiries; the bill's provision that and allows, but does not mandate, the copying of additional identity documents from prospective employees; and the option in the bill to permit employers to check the employment authorization status of job applicants before official hiring; the bill's provision permitting employers to use the EEVS system to re-verify  the employment eligibility of existing employees.

Notwithstanding his expression of general support for H.R. 2164, Mr. Miller expressed a few concerns.  For instance, he said that, "[u]nder the Legal Workforce Act, as we understand it, states and localities are preempted from legislating different requirements or imposing additional penalties, but they may decide to revoke a business license for failure to participate in the program, as required under federal law. While we might prefer blanket preemption, we understand the need to  reach a balance."  Mr. Miller also was critical of the bill's provision that dismisses the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).  Of that provision, Mr. Miller said, "[i]t is vital that the government give employers an opportunity to comment on significant new regulatory requirements, before imposing those requirements upon businesses. The APA is extremely helpful in making sure that specific issues with proposed regulations are considered by the Administration, regardless of whether it is a Democrat or a Republican holding the executive office.  The Executive Branch sometimes tries to implement programs in conflict with the intent of Congress. The APA is a helpful check to overreaching by any Administration. If speed and the implementation timeline is the concern, the Legal Workforce Act could mandate deadlines for the publication of the regulations, instead of dismissing the APA’s requirements altogether."  And Mr. Miller was critical of a provision in the bil that would require the Social Security Administration to mail letters notifying people of multiple uses of their social security numbers, saying that many restaurant workers hold multiple jobs and would get caught up in this provision.

Miller went on to tell the Subcommittee that "[i]In the National Restaurant Association’s opinion, notwithstanding the few clarifications and  minor changes needed, the Legal Workforce Act reaches the right balance—a broad federal E-Verify mandate that is both fast and workable for businesses of every size under practical real world working conditions. Without the assurances and improvements to the E-Verify system found in the Legal Workforce Act, it should not be imposed on businesses." 
  • Tyler Moran.  In the National Immigration Law Center's  Tyler Moran's prepared testimony, Ms. Moran  told the Subcommittee that H.R. 2164 "will mandate the use of an ineffective and expensive employment eligibility verification system that has grave consequences for our economy and unemployment rate. And despite all the rhetoric, the bill does nothing to create jobs and will even exacerbate the problems caused by our broken immigration system. The Legal Workforce Act will worsen unemployment rates, cause billions of dollars in lost tax revenue, and leave both employers and workers in the agricultural industry vulnerable. And this is all for a program that doesn’t work: 54 percent of undocumented workers who are run through E-Verify are not detected."  Ms. Moran continued, asserting, "NILC believes the key to good jobs for all workers is (1) reforming our immigration laws in a comprehensive and realistic way that also includes strengthening our labor, employment, and civil rights laws, and (2) vigorously enforcing these laws. Protecting the rights of all workers in this way will strengthen jobs and our economy."  She said that H.R. 2164 "will do precisely the opposite."
Ms. Moran enunciated six concerns that NILC has about H.R. 2164: (1) It will cost federal and state governments billions of dollars in lost tax revenue, but it detects undocumented workers less than half of the time; (2) It will prevent millions of American workers from getting a job and cause many more to lose their jobs; (3) It fails to address the real needs of the agricultural industry and leaves employers, workers, and the American people vulnerable; (4) It will increase discrimination against Latino, Asian, and other foreign-born workers; (5) It hurts women who change their name due to marriage or divorce and others with mismatches in SSA’s database; and (6) The implementation timeline is impractical and unworkable.

Ms. Moran testified that "[m]aking E-Verify mandatory for all employers without legalizing the status of immigrants in the labor force who  currently are undocumented or fixing the weaknesses in the current system will not create jobs and will result in poorer working conditions, the loss of jobs for American workers, and billions in dollars of lost tax revenue."  She said that, at a minimum, 11 steps "must be taken" for expansion of E-Verify to be considered: (1) Consider making use of the EEVS mandatory only if this is paired with a legalization program; (2) Apply the EEVS only to new hires; (3) Phase in the EEVS with evaluations of its performance; (4) Ensure data accuracy; (5) Protect workers from misuse of the system; (6) Ensure due process for workers subject to database errors; (7) Protect the privacy of workers; (8) Fund an outreach program; (9) Create a term-limited employment eligibility verification advisory panel; (10) Clarify that states are preempted from requiring businesses to use the EEVS; and (11) Prevent unscrupulous employers from using immigration law to avoid their obligations under labor laws.

Ms. Moran concluded her prepared testimony by sayingthat "[m]aking use of E-Verify or any electronic employment eligibility verification system mandatory, outside of broader reform of our immigration system, will undermine American jobs and ultimately impose new burdens on our economy, workers and businesses. We have been trying an 'immigration enforcement–only approach' for at least two decades now, and it has not worked. We need enforcement of labor, employment and civil rights laws, not the current churning of the workforce, where undocumented workers are often preferred over documented workers because they are easier to hire and fire. That only results in further downward pressure on wages and working conditions of all U.S. workers."


The full House Committee on the Judiciary is expected to markup H.R. 2164 sometime in the next several weeks, perhaps as soon as the week of June 20.

 

Senate Judiciary Ranking Minority Member Grassley Introduces Bill Mandating that All Employers in the United States Use the E-Verify System to Verify the Employment Eligibility of New and Existing  Employees


By Micheal E. Hill
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
-- 7:55 am EDT
--Updated on Wednesday, June 15, 2011, at 11:20 pm EDT--

Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Minority Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) has joined his GOP counterpart in the House by introducing a measure that would require all employers in the United States to use an electronic verification system to verify the work eligibility of their employees.  The Grassley bill was introduced as S. 1196, the "Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act", on Tuesday, June 14, 2011.  The measure would permanently reauthorize the E-Verify System; mandate that not later than one year after the date of enactment, all employers in the United States use it to verify the employment eligibility of both their newhires and existing employees; permit employers to use the E-Verify System to pre-screen job applicants rather than only using it after a hiring decision has been made; increase penalties for employers who knowingly hire persons who are not authorized to work; and increase penalties for persons who misuse Social Security numbers. 

The Grassley bill differs substantially from
H.R. 2164, the "Legal Workforce Act", that was introduced on June 14 by House judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX).  The Smith bill would replace the E-Verify System with an Electronic Employment Verification System (EEVS); the Grassley bill would permanently reauthorize the existing E-Verify System.  The Smith bill would require employers to verify newhires but would not, for the most part, require most employers to use the System to re-verify the work eligibility of existing employees; the Grassley bill would require all employers to use the System to verify the employment eligibility of newhires and re-verify the work eligibility of existing employees.  The Smith bill would phase-in the requirement that employers use the System to verify newhires over a three year-long period; the Grassley bill would phase-in the requirement for verifying newhires over a one year-long period.  And the Smith bill would provide special exemptions for seasonal agricultural employers; the Grassley bill would not.

Senator Grassley was joined in introducing his E-Verify bill by Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Roger Wicker (R-MS), John Boozman (R-AR), Chris Lee (R-UT), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), David Vitter (R-LA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Bob Corker (R-TN).

In introducing the measure, Senator Grassley said,
"E-Verify has already proven effective in combating the hiring of illegal aliens. It’s a simple tool for employers who want to comply with the law in a digital age when sophisticated, fraudulent documents are just the stroke of a computer key away,” Grassley said. “This legislation allows us to hold employers accountable while giving them the tools needed to abide by the law in their hiring practices."

The text of the Grassley had just emerged at the time of this writing.  Accordingly a detailed, independent analysis of the bill had not yet been made.  bill had not been publicly revealed at the time of this writing.  Using a combination of a press release from Senator Grassley's office and a quick read of the bill, the measure would --
  • Permanent Authorization for the E-Verify System.  Sec. 2 of S. 1696 would make permanent the E-Verify System that was created as a pilot program in 1996 and expires from time-to-time.  
  • Mandatory Use for All Employers.  Sec. 3(c) of S. 1696 would make the E-Verify System mandatory for all employers who hire, recruit, or refer an individual for employment within one year of the date of enactment of the bill.
  • Federal Contractors.  Sec. 3(b) of S. 1696 would "clarify" that federal contractors and the Federal Government (executive and legislative branches) must use the E-Verify System to verify the employment eligibility of persons whom they hire, recruit, or refer and allow the Secretary of Homeland Security to require "critical employers" to use it immediately. 
  • Increased Penalties for Employers.  Sec. 4(b) of S. 1696 would increase penalties for employers who don’t use the system or illegally hire, recruit, or refer undocumented workers, as well as provide for the debarment of employers who violate the Act.
  • Reduced Liability for Employers.  Sec. 4(b) of S. 1696 would reduce the liability that employers face if they participate in E-Verify when it involves the wrongful termination of an individual.  
  • Use of E-Verify for Pre-Screening of Applicants.  Sec. 6 of S. 1696 would allow employers to use E-Verify before a person is hired, recruited, or referred if the applicant consents.
  • Re-Verification of Existing Employees.  Sec. 6 of S. 1696 would require employers to use the E-Verify System to check the status of existing employees within 3 years after the date of enactment of the Act.  
  • Re-Verification of Nonimmigrant Employees.  Sec. 7 of S. 1696 would require employers to re-verify a person’s status if their employment authorization is due to expire.  
  • Required Temination of Employees.  Sec. 8 of S 1696 would require employers to terminate the employment of those found unauthorized to work due to a check through the E-Verify System.  
  • Detecting Misuse of Social Security Numbers.  Sec. 11 of S. 1696 would "[h]elp ensure that the Social Security Administration catches multiple use of Social Security numbers by requiring them to develop algorithms to detect anomalies."
  • Aggravated Identity Fraud.  Sec. 12 of S. 1696 would "[a]mend the criminal code to make clear that defendants who possess or otherwise use identity information not their own without lawful authority and in the commission of another felony is still punishable for aggravated identity fraud, regardless of the defendant’s 'knowledge'" of the victim.  
  • Assistance for Small Businesses.  Sec. 13 of S. 1696 would establish a demonstration project in a rural area or area without internet capabilities to assist small businesses in complying with the participation requirement.  
  • Offset of Costs.  Sec. 14 of S. 1696 would offset the costs of any upgrades or expenses required by the legislation using unobligated funds from various departments, excluding the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the National Nuclear Security Administration Weapons Activities and Naval Reactors Accounts.

Also on June 14, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced H.R. 2164, his long-awaited bill mandating that virtually all employers in the United States use an electronic employment verification system (EEVS) to verify the employment eligibility of their newhires.  That bill was the subject of a hearing on June 15, 2011, in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement, and it is expected to be marked up by the full House Committee on the Judiciary in the coming weeks.

Unlike with the Smith bill in the House, there is no chance that the Grassley bill will move through the legislative process in the Senate with a hearing, markup, and floor consideration.  However, given the freewheeling nature of Senate rules,  it is possible that Senator Grassley will seek to offer the text of his bill as an amendment to some other legislation on the Senate floor later during the 112th Congress.

 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Smith Introduces Bill Mandating that All Employers Use an Electronic Employment Verification System to Verify the Employment Eligibility of Prospective Employees


By Micheal E. Hill
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
-- 4:45 pm EDT
--Updated on Monday, June 20, 2011, at 7:15 am EDT--

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has introduced H.R. 2164, The "Legal Workforce Act", which is his long-awaited bill mandating that all employers in the United States use an electronic employment verification system (EEVS) to verify the employment eligibility of their newhires.  The measure would pattern the new EEVS after the E-Verify System that currently is in use.  Chairman Smith introduced the measure on Tuesday, June 14, 2011, one day before a hearing on the measure was scheduled to take place in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.

Among the highlights of H.R. 2164 are provisions that would mandate that all employers in the United States use the EEVS system to verify the employment eligibility of their newhires; phase in the mandatory use requirement over two years for most employers; provide seasonal agricultural employers with an extra year before they have to use the System to verify the employment eligibility of their newhires; allow seasonal agricultural employers to avoid using the system at all to verify the employment eligibility of for persons they hire if those persons previously have worked for them; require some employers, including all federal, state, and local governments and other employers in critical industries to use the System to re-verify existing employees; permit other employers to use the System to re-verify existing employees if the employers wish to do so; pre-empt state and local E-Verify laws while still permitting state and local governments to suspend or revoke business and other licenses for failure to comply with the law; impose mandatory minimum prison sentences for persons who use false Social Security numbers; and reduce the number of documents permissible to demonstrate work eligibility.

In introducing the measure, Chairman Smith said, "
E-Verify is a successful program to help ensure that jobs are reserved for citizens and legal workers.  The ‘E’ in E-Verify could just as well stand for ‘easy’ and ‘effective.’  It takes just a few minutes to use and easily confirms 99.5% percent of work-eligible employees.  There is no other legislation that can be enacted that will create more jobs for American workers.”  

Judiciary Committee Democrats blasted the bill, however.  In a "Dear Colleague" letter sent by Representative Judy Chu (D-CA), a member of the House Committee on the Judiciary and the House Committee on Small Business, the California Democrat said, "
[a]s a member of both the Judiciary and Small Business Committees, I am concerned about the effect this legislation will have on American small businesses.  Mom and pop businesses have no idea what is about to hit them if this bill becomes law. To start with, every one of them will have to master an 82 page “User Manual” filled with procedures and diagrams and take a 3-hour tutorial. They will then be required to run the E-Verify software for each new hire. Remember, most small businesses only hire a few people each year, so many will have to re-learn the software and procedures. Under the Smith bill, some existing workers must also be run through the system, but figuring out which ones practically requires a law degree."

Chairman Smith was joined in introducing the measure by a number of Members of Congress, including Representatives 
Brian Bilbray (R-CA), Ken Calvert (R-CA), John Carter (R-TX), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Jack Kingston (R-GA), Gary Miller (R-CA), Sue Myrick (R-NC), Ed Royce (R-CA), F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), and  Immigration Policy and Enforcement Subcommittee Chairman Elton Gallegly (R-CA).

The text of the "Legal Workforce Act" was not widely released until just before the bill was introduced.  Accordingly, it will take some time for detailed summaries of it to be produced.  A quick analysis o the bill reveals that, among its major provisions, the bill would--
  • Requirement to Use the System.  Require virtually all employers in the United States who hire one or more employees to use an electronic employment verification system (EEVS or System) to verify the employment eligibility of newly hired workers.
  • Treatment of Recruiters and Referrers.  Require entities that recruit or refer persons for employment to use EEVS to verify the employment eligibility of the persons they recruit or refer.  Would include under this requirement union hiring halls and labor service entities, whether public, private, for-profit, or non-profit, that refer, dispatch, or otherwise facilitate the hiring of laborers.
  • Pre-Screening of Prospective Employees.  Permit employers to use the System not only after a decision to hire an employee, but to use it, as well, before making a final decision on whether or not to hire a prospective employee.
  • Mandatory Re-Verification of Existing Employees.  Require that certain employers use the System to re-verify the employment eligibility of existing employees.  Among those who would be subject to mandatory re-verification using EEVS would be federal, state, or local government employees; individuals who require a security clearance working in a federal, state, or local government building, a military base, a nuclear energy site, a weapons site, or an airport or other facility that requires workers to carry a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC); and certain workers assigned to a federal or state contract, the value of which exceeds $100,000.
  • Voluntary Re-Verification of Existing Employees.   Permit employers to use the System to re-verify the employment eligibility of existing employees so long as it verifies all of its employees.
  • Phase-In Period.  Phase-in the mandated use of the System for most employers over a two year period, beginning six months after the date of enactment for the nation's largest employers (those that employ 10,000 or more employees) and ranging up to two years after the date of enactment for the smallest of employers.
  • Special Provisions for Seasonal Agricultural Employers.  Extend the phase-in period to three years after the date of enactment for seasonal agricultural employers, while permitting them to avoid using the system altogether for employees who are returning after having previously worked for them.
  • Number of Documents.  Reduce the number of documents that are acceptable to prove employment eligibility and identity.
  • Felony for False Use of Social Security Numbers.  Provide that an individual who knowingly uses a false Social Security Number or DHS Authorization Number will be guilty of a felony and face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of one year, possibly extending to 15 years, plus a fine.
  • Preemption of State or Local Law.  Provide for the preemption of any state or local law, ordinance, policy or rule, including any civil or criminal penalty relating to hiring, continued employment, or status verification for employment eligibility purposes.  However, it would provide that states or localities may exercise authority over business licensing and similar laws as a penalty for failure to use the EEVS.
  • Biometric Pilot Program.  Establish a voluntary "Biometric Pilot" program using biometric data to verify identity and employment authorization of new hires.

The House Judiciary Subcommitte on Immigration Policy and Enforcement is scheduled to hold a hearing on H.R. 2164 beginning at 10:00 am EDT on Wednesday, June 15, in Room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building. 



GOP 2012 Presidential Candidates Address Immigration Policy During
CNN-Sponsored New Hampshire Debate


By Micheal E. Hill
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
-- 8:45 am EDT
--Updated on Tuesday, June 14, 2011, at 10:11 am EDT--


In a somewhat confusing and unfocused exchange, seven Republican candidates for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination addressed immigration policy during a June 13, 2011, presidential candidate debate in New Hampshire that was aired on CNN.  The candidates addressed a broad range of immigration issues during the seven minute-long exchange, including access by illegal immigrants to government services, birthright citizenship, the authority of state and local governments to enforce civil immigration law, the use of the National Guard on the U.S. border with Mexico, and the question of whether every illegal immigrant in the United States should be rounded up and deported. 

Five of the seven candidates who participated in the debate participated in the exchange on immigration, including former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), former Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), Reprentative Ron Paul (R-TX), businessman Hermain Cain, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA).

During the exchange, former Senator Santorum asserted that the federal government should not require states to provide government services to illegal immigrants, Mr. Cain and Governor Pawlenty seemed to take positions against birthright citizenship for U.S. born children of illegal immigrants, Representative Paul said that states and hospitals should not be forced to provide care to illegal immigrants but implied that nonprofit institutions like the Catholic Church should not be required to deny services to illegal immigrants, former Governor Pawlenty and Mr. Cain  expressed support for allowing states to pass laws like Arizona's S.B. 1070, and former Speaker Giingrich indicated that the proper choice is not between shipping 20 million people out of America or legalizing all of them. 

Former Speaker Gingrich was the most animated of all of the candidates during his response, sayin that "one of the reasons this country is in so much trouble is that we are determined among our political elites to draw up catastrophic alternatives; we either have to ship 20 [million] people out of America or legalize all of them."  He continued, saying such choices are "nonsense" and that "we're never going to pass a comprehensive bill."  Gingrich concluded his remarks by asserting that "there are humane, practical steps to solve this problem if we would get the politicians and news media to deal with it honestly."

The exchange on immigration was prompted by a question from a naturalized United States citizen who asked the candidates how they plan to prevent illegal immigrants from using American health care, educational, or welfare systems.



Click on the Play Button, above, to see video of the exhange on immigration that occurred during the June 13, 2011, CNN Republican 2012 presidential candidate debate in New Hampshire.

 

Introduction of and a Hearing on a Mandatory E-Verify Bill and the Introduction of the Refugee Protection Act Highlight This Week's Immigration- and Refugee-Related Legislative Action


By Micheal E. Hill
Monday, June 13, 2011
-- 8:00 am EDT
--Updated on Monday, June 13, 2011, at 12:15 pm EDT--
--Original Version Posted on Saturday, June 11, 2011 at 2:32 pm EDT--

Immigration and refugee activity in Congress will hit a fever pitch this week, with the big action being the planned introduction by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) of the "Legal Workforce Act", a bill that would make the use of the E-Verify program mandatory for most employers; a hearing on the "Legal Workforce Act" in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement; the introduction by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement Ranking Minority Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) of the "Refugee Protection Act", a measure that would make a number of reforms in immigration and refugee law intended to protect refugees, asylum seekers, and similarly situated persons; and a hearing in a House Foreign Affairs Committee panel on human trafficking.

In addition to the scheduled "On-the-Hill" legislative activity, this week also has a crowded schedule of "off-of-the-Hill" immigration-, border security-, and refugee-related legislative activity, including a press conference featuring Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force Chairman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), who is expected to take President Obama to task for not providing administrative relief to DREAM Act-eligible students; several speaking appearances by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas; and roundtable discussions on immigrant integration and refugee protection
.


On-the-Hill Activity
In all, at the time of this writing, four hearings and potential immigration-, border security-, or refugee-related floor actions on two measures were scheduled on Capitol Hill for this week. 

The following lists the highlights of this week's immigration- and refugee-related legislative-related action:

  • House Judiciary Chairman to Introduce Mandatory E-Verify Bill.  House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) is likely this week to introduce the "Legal Workforce Act", a bill that reportedly will make the use of the E-Verify System mandatory for most employees.  The Chairman could introduce the bill as soon as Tuesday, June 14.
  • House Judiciary Committee Panel to Hold Hearing on Smith E-Verify Bill. The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement has scheduled a hearing for this week on the "Legal Workforce Act", a soon-to-introduced bill to make the E-Verify System mandatory for most employers
  • Chairman Leahy and Ranking Minority Member Lofgren to Introduce the Refugee Protection Act.  Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement Ranking Minority Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) are planning this week to introduce the Refugee Protection Act, a measure that would make a number of reforms in U.S. law to protect refugee and asylum applicants.  The two legislators are likely to introduce the bill sometime on Wednesday, June 15, 2011.
  • House Foreign Affairs Panel to Hold Hearing on Trafficking Victims Protection. The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights has scheduled a hearing for this week titled Best Practices and Next Steps: A New Decade in the Fight Against Human Trafficking".  Among the witnesses invited to testify at the hearing is Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons,  U.S. Department of State.  Other witnesses will include
The hearing is scheduled for 2:30 pm EDT on Monday, June 13, 2011, in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
  • Senate Caucus to Hold "Hearing" on Border Tunnels. The Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control has scheduled a "hearing" for this week titled, "Illegal Tunnels on the Southwest Border." Testifying at the hearing will be James Dinkens, Executive Associate Director, Homeland Security Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security; Laura Duffy, U.S. attorney, Southern District of California; and Tim Durst, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, San Diego Office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security.
  • Full Senate to Take Up Economic Development Administration Reauthorization Bill with Two Immigration Floor Amendments Possible. When the Senate convenes on Tuesday, June 14, 2011, the Senate is expected to resume its consideration of S. 782, the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011.  While the measure, itself, does not contain any immigration- or refugee-related provisions, at the time of this writing, at least two immigration- or refugee-related amendments to the bill had been filed and could be offered at any time.  These include SA 421, an amendment filed by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) relating to the construction of fencing along the U.S. border with Mexico; and SA 419, an amendment filed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that would permanently reauthorize the EB-5 Investor Visa Regional Center program, which otherwise is set to expire on September 30, 2012.

"Off-of-the-Hill" Activity
In addition to the schedule of immigration-related action taking place  week on Capitol Hill, a number of significant "off of the Hill" immigration-related activities also are scheduled to occur.

The following lists several highlights of the coming week's "off-of-the-Hill" immigration- and refugee-related legislative-related action:
  • Press Conference on Immigration Policy and the DREAM Act. Presente.org has scheduled a telephonic news conference for this week, during which participants are expected to call on President Obama to use his executive power to halt deportation of undocumented youths eligible for the DREAM Act.  Participants in the press conference will include Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL); Esmeralda Hidalgo, DREAM Act-eligible student; Laurie Ignacio, campaign manager, Presente.org; Carlos Santiago, CEO, Hispanic College Fund; Angelo Falcon, president, National Institute for Latino Policy; and Jose Rodriguez, spokesperson, Dominican Human Rights Center in Puerto Rico.
  • Roundtable Discussion on the Integration of Immigrants into the United States. The Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) has scheduled a discussion for this week on "Immigrants in the United States: How Well Are They Integrating into Society?"  Participants in the discussion will include Randy Capps, senior policy analyst of the Migration Policy Institute; Tamar Jacoby, president and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA; and Tomas Jimenez, assistant professor of Stanford University.
  • Discussion on Helping the World's Refugees.  Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration Eric Schwartz and George Rupp, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, have scheduled a discussion for this week on “Helping the World's Refugees.”  The discussion will be moderated by Cheryl Benton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. You are invited to participate by submitting questions, some of which will be selected for response during the live broadcast. 
  • Symposium on U.S. Immigration Policy. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has scheduled a symposium for this week titled "The Future of U.S. Immigration Policy."  Among the speakers making remarks during the symposium will be USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
  • MALDEF Awards Gala.  The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) has scheduled its DC Awards Gala for this week, at which it will honor Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis; Acting New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales; and Will and Susan Soza.  Emceeing the dinner will be actress and activist Eva Longoria and Lili Estefan.
  • Remarks by USCIS Director Mayorkas at Flag Day Naturalization Ceremony.  USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas is scheduled to make remarks this week during a Flag Day naturalization ceremony.


Click Here to See Detailed Listing of the Likely Immigration Actions For the Week of June 13


 

Numerous Immigration Amendments Filed to Senate
Economic Development Bill


By Micheal E. Hill

Monday, June 13, 2011
-- 12:01 am EDT
--Original Version Posted on Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 8:55 am EDT--



The Senate this week is expected to continue its all-to-familiar slow-walk through a legislative measure.  This week's target for the Senate slow-walk is
S. 782, the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011.  The measure would reauthorize the Economic Development Administration (EDA), an agency that provides aid to economically distressed communities

S. 782 did not contain any immigration- or refugee-related provisions in it as it was reported to the Senate.  However, at the time of this writing, at least five immigration- or border security-related amendments were among the 70 amendments that had been filed to the bill.  Any of the five amendments could be offered at any time.


Two of the five immigration- or border security-related amendments to S. 782 that have been filed are familiar ones for the Senate, which has dealt with both before:
  • DeMINT BORDER FENCING AMENDMENT.  Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) has filed SA 421, an amendment that would provide that the construction of the 700 miles of fencing along the U.S. border with Mexico that is required by Section 102(b)(1) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 be must be completed within one year after the date of enactment of the Act; provide that fencing that does not effectively restrain pedestrian traffic cannot be used to satisfy the 700-mile requirement; suspend any requirement that the Department of Homeland Security consult with local communities in the construction of fencing; and require the Secretary of Homeland Security to report on the Department's progress in meeting the requirements of the amendment.
On July 8, 2009, the Senate agreed to a similar amendment offered by Senator DeMint to H.R. 2892, the Fiscal Year 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations Act.  The Senate defeated the amendment at that time by a vote of 54-44.  However, the language was dropped in the ensuing conference between the House and the Senate.

Most recently, on May 27, 2010, Senator DeMint offered a nearly identical version of SA 421 to H.R. 4899, a fiscal year 2010 supplemental appropriations bill.  The Senate defeated the amendment at that time by a vote of 45-52.
 
  • LEAHY EB-5 INVESTOR VISA REGIONAL CENTER AMENDMENT.  Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has filed SA 419, an amendment that would permanently reauthorize the EB-5 Investor Visa Regional Center program, which otherwise is set to expire on September 30, 2012.
On July 8, 2009, the Senate agreed to a nearly identical amendment offered by Chairman Leahy H.R. 2892, the Fiscal Year 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations Act.  The Senate agreed to the amendment by a voice vote.  However, the language was dropped in the ensuing conference between the House and the Senate.


Three of the five immigration- or border security-related amendments to S. 782 are relatively new:
  • FEINSTEIN SCAAP AMENDMENT.  Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has filed SA 456, an amendment that would expand the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) to permit reimbursement to state and local governments for the incarceration of aliens who are charged with a felony or two misdemeanors.  Under current law, the SCAAP program is limited to reimbursements for the incarceration of aliens who have been convicted of a felony or two misdemeanors.
  • FEINSTEIN NO FIREARMS FOR FOREIGN FELONS AMENDMENT.  Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has filed SA 455, an amendment that would amend title 18, United States Code, to prohibit persons convicted of certain felonies in foreign courts from purchasing firearms.
  • GRASSLEY PERMANENT AUTHORIZATION OF E-VERIFY AMENDMENT.  Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Minority Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) has filed SA 434, an amendment that would permanently reauthorize the E-Verify Program, which otherwise is set to expire on September 30, 2012.

It is typical in the Senate for scores (if not hundreds) of amendments to be filed to bills that are never offered.  Accordingly, it is not possible at this time to determine whether the Senate is likely to take up either the DeMint or Leahy amendments to S. 782.



The Subject of Immigration is Again Unlikely to Come Up on This
Weekend's Sunday's Public Affairs Programs



By Micheal E. Hill

Friday, June 10, 2011  -- 8:45 am EDT
--Updated on Friday, June 10, 2011, at 7:00 pm EDT--


 

This weekend's Sunday public affairs programs are not expected to feature immigration discussions.  Instead, those programs are likely to be dominated by discussions on the looming debt limit battle, the developing 2012 presidential campaign, and the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.

The following is a preliminary guide to what can be expected on this weekend's programs:
  • ABC - This Week.  Among the guests on the June 12, 2011, edition of ABC's "This Week" program will be former New Jersey Senator and Governor Jon Corzine (D-NJ), Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.  Also appearing on the program will be ABC News' Claire Shipman, co-author of "Womenomics," and Cecilia Attias, former wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.  Appearing during the roundtable segment of the program will be Democratic strategist Donna Brazile; Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal; ABC News senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper; and ABC News' George Will.
  • CBS - Face the Nation.  Among the guests on the June 12, 2011, edition of CBS's "Face the Nation" program will be House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).  Given the lineup of guests, it is unlikely that the subject of immigration will be discussed during the program.
  • CNN - State of the Union.  Among the guests on the June 12, 2011, will be former New Hampshire Governor and White House Chief of Staff under President George H. W. Bush, John H. Sununu (R-NH), and former Senator John E. Sununu (R-NH).
  • FOX - FOX News Sunday.  Among the guests appearing on the June 12, 2011, edition of FOX's "FOX News Sunday" will be former Minnesoa Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.  Appearing during the roundtable segment of the program will be Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard and Fox News; Mara Liasson, National Public Radio and Fox News; Juan Williams, Fox News Political Analyst; and Brit Hume, Fox News Senior Political Analyst.  Given the lineup of guests, it is unlikely that the subject of immigration will be discussed during the program.
  • NBC - Meet the Press.  Among the guests on the June 12, 2011, edition of NBC's "Meet the Press" program will be Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC); and Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC).  Also appearing on the program will be former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.  Appearing during the roundtable segment of the program will be Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (D), GOP strategist Mike Murphy, MSNBC's Richard Wolffe, and the Wall Street Journal's Kim Strassel.

Check Back with MicEvHill.Com Sunday Afternoon for Video Clips of any Immigration-Related Comments Made on the Programs



A Week-Long House Recess Makes for a Light Schedule of Immigration- and Refugee-Related Legislative Action This Week


By Micheal E. Hill
Monday, June 6, 2011
-- 12:01 am EDT
--Updated on Wednesday, June 8, 2011, at 7:15 am EDT--
--Original Version Posted on Friday, June 3, 2011 at 7:45 am EDT--

The House and Senate swap positions this week, with the Senate returning to Washington while the House leaves town for a one week-long recess

Since most of the immigration- and refugee-related legislative action this year has been taking place in the Ho
use, the lower chamber's absence from Washington means that little will be happening on immigration or refugee matters this week.


On-the-Hill Activity
In all, at the time of this writing, no markups or floor actions on immigration or refugee matters were scheduled on Capitol Hill for this week.  Indeed, just one hearing that could have consequences for immigration or refugee policy was scheduled to occur in Congress during the period. 

The following lists the highlights of this week's immigration- and refugee-related legislative-related action:
  • Senate Panel to Hold Hearing on Corruption in Customs and Border Protection. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery and Intergovernmental Affairs has scheduled a hearing for this week titled "Border Corruption: Assessing Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General's Office Collaboration in the Fight to Prevent Corruption."

"Off-of-the-Hill" Activity
In addition to the schedule of immigration-related action taking place this week on Capitol Hill, a number of significant "off of the Hill" immigration-related activities also are scheduled to occur.

The following lists several highlights of this week's "off-of-the-Hill" immigration- and refugee-related legislative-related action:
  • Address on Immigration Services and National Security.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas is scheduled this week to deliver remarks on providing immigration benefits while ensuring national security to the American Council on International Personnel Symposium.
  • Discussion on Immigration and Competitiveness.  The Migration Policy Institute has scheduled a discussion for this week titled "Immigration and Competitiveness: Responding to Global Challenges in the EU and US".  Participants in the discussion will include Jared Bernstein, Senior Fellow, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, and former Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden; Pia Orrenius, Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas; and Demetrios Papademetriou, MPI’s President and convener of the Transatlantic Council on Migration.
  • Discussion on 21st Century U.S.-Mexico Border.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has scheduled a news conference for this week to release a report on "Steps to a 21st Century U.S.-Mexico Border," focusing on trade, security, infrastructure, immigration, and travel issues along the U.S.-Mexico border.  Participants in the news conference will include former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, chairman of the U.S. Chamber's National Security Task Force; Ann Beauchesne, vice president for national security and emergency preparedness at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Adam Salerno, director of national security and emergency preparedness at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and Patrick Kilbride, senior director for the Americas and international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
  • Discussion on Migration as a Tool of Disaster Recovery.  The Center for Global Development has scheduled a policy roundtable discussion for this week on how the United States might utilize migration as one of many tools to help people after a natural disaster abroad. The roundtable will discuss a paper written by Sarah Petrin Williamson and Royce Murray titled, "Migration as a Tool for Disaster Recovery", which examines ways in which the United States could better utilize or update existing migration policies to assist people from developing countries following a natural catastrophe.

Click Here to See Detailed Listing of the Likely Immigration Actions For the Week of June 6




The Subject of Immigration is Again Unlikely to Come Up on This
Weekend's Sunday's Public Affairs Programs



By Micheal E. Hill

Friday, June 3, 2011  -- 5:45 pm EDT
--Updated on Saturday, June 3, 2011, at 8:40 am EDT--


 

One again, given the lineup of guests, it is unlikely that the subject of immigration will come up on this weekend's Sunday public affairs programs, which likely will be dominated by the looming debt limit battle and the developing 2012 presidential campaign.

The following is a preliminary guide to what can be expected on this weekend's programs:
  • ABC - This Week.  Among the guests on the June 5, 2011, edition of ABC's "This Week" will be White House economic advisor Austan Goolsbee; 2008 Nobel Prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman of The New York Times; Chief Economist of the Chamber of Commerce Martin Regalia; Marwan Muasher, the former Foreign Minister of Jordan; and Chrystia Freeland of Thomson Reuters.  Appearing on the roundtable segment of the program will be Republican political adviser Mark McKinnon; ABC News' senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl; former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers; and Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain.
  • CBS - Face the Nation.  Among the guests on the June 5, 2011, edition of CBS's "Face the Nation" program will be House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS).  Given the lineup of guests, it is unlikely that the subject of immigration will be discussed during the program. 
  • CNN - State of the Union.  Among the guests on the June 5, 2011, edition of CNN's "State of the Union" program will be White House economic advisor Austan Goolsbee; former Congressional Budget Office directors Alice Rivlin and Douglas Holtz-Eakin; and Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.  Appearing on the roundtable segment of the program will be former White House Communications Director under President Barack Obama Anita Dunn and former Republican National Committee Chairman and Counselor to President George W. Bush, Ed Gillespie. 
  • FOX - FOX News Sunday.  Among the guests appearing on the June 5, 2011, edition of FOX's "FOX News Sunday" will be former Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin (R-AK).  Appearing during the roundtable segment of the program will be Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard and Fox News; Mara Liasson, National Public Radio and Fox News; Kimberley Strassel, the Wall Street Journal; and John Podesta, the Center for American Progress.  Given the lineup of guests, it is unlikely that the subject of immigration will be discussed during the program. 




House Judiciary Committee to Mark Up Two
Controversial Immigration Bills


By Micheal E. Hill
Thursday, June 2, 2011
-- 8:15 pm EDT
--Original Version Posted on Friday, June 3, 2011 at 8:00 am EDT--

The full House Committee on the Judiciary markup of two controversial immigration-related bills that was scheduled for Thursday, June 2, 2011, has been postponed until Friday, June 3.  The delay in the markup was necessitated by the Committee taking longer than expected to markup other items on its agenda.  The two immigration-related measures that the Committee has on its agenda for June 3 are H.R. 1932, the "Keep Our Communities Safe Act of 2001", a measure introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) that would provide for the indefinite detention of "dangerous" aliens; and H.R. 1741, the "Secure Visas Act", which also was introduced by Chairman Smith.  Both bills are highly controversial and will likely be the objects of numerous amendments from the Democratic side of the aisle.

The following briefly summarizes the two bills to be marked up in the Committee:
  • H.R. 1932, Indefinite Detention of "Dangerous" Aliens.  As introduced, H.R. 1932 would allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to detain specified dangerous aliens under orders of removal who cannot be removed. The measure would authorize DHS to detain aliens who effected an entry beyond six months if the alien will be removed in the reasonably foreseeable future; the alien would have been removed but for the alien’s refusal to make all reasonable efforts to comply and cooperate with the Secretary of DHS’ efforts to remove him; the alien has a highly contagious disease; release would have serious adverse foreign policy consequences; release would threaten national security; or release would threaten the safety of the community and the alien either is an aggravated felon or has committed a crime of violence.
Under H.R. 1932, DHS would be able to detain such aliens for six months at a time, and that period could be renewed.  In addition to providing for the indefinite detention of aliens, H.R. 1932 also would expand instances where aliens are subject to mandatory detention. And the measure would limit jurisdiction to review habeas corpus petitions from aliens subject to mandatory detention to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
  • H.R. 1741, Visa Security Bill.  As introduced, H.R. 1741 would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to grant the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) (Secretary), except for the Secretary of State's authority with respect to diplomatic- and international organization-related visas, exclusive authority to issue regulations, establish policy, and administer and enforce the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and all other immigration or nationality laws relating to U.S. consular officer visa functions.
The measure would authorize the Secretary to refuse or revoke any visa to an alien or class of aliens if necessary or advisable for U.S. security interests. It would prohibit judicial review of such determinations, provide that any such visa revocation shall become effective immediately, and cancel any other visa in an alien's possession.

In addition, H.R. 1741 would authorize the Secretary of State to direct a consular officer to refuse or revoke a visa if necessary or advisable for U.S. foreign policy interests.

H.R. 1741 would prohibit a decision by the Secretary of State to approve a visa from overriding a revocation or refusal determination by the Secretary.
 
H.R. 1741 would direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to review on-site all visa applications and supporting documentation before adjudication at visa-issuing posts in Algeria, Canada, Colombia, Egypt, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in Israel, Jordan, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the UK, Venezuela, and Yemen. And it would authorize the Secretary to assign DHS employees to such posts.

The measure states that if the Secretary or the Secretary of State revokes a visa, the relevant consular, law enforcement, and terrorist screening databases shall be immediately updated; and look-out notices shall be posted to all DHS port inspectors and Department of State consular officers.

The measure also would amend the INA to eliminate the exception permitting judicial review of a visa revocation where such revocation is the sole ground for a deportation process based upon an alien's unlawful presence in the U.S.
 
 

House Passes FY '12 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill Making Deep Cuts in Funding for Immigration Services and Modest Increases in Border and Interior Immigration Enforcement Fundingl


By Micheal E. Hill
Thursday, June 2, 2011 
-- 8:10 pm EDT
--Updated on Monday, June 6, 2011, at 7:45 am EDT--
--Original Version Posted on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 6:50 pm EDT--

The full House of Representatives has passed a measure making fiscal year 2012 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security.  As passed by the House, the measure would provide slightly elevated levels of funding for border security and interior immigration enforcement, relative to fiscal year 2011.  However, it would make a substantial cut in fiscal year 2012 directly appropriated funding for immigration services, relative both to fiscal year 2011 and to the Obama Administration's request, zeroing out the Administration's requested direct appropriations for immigrant integration funding and for the processing of refugee and asylum claims.  Final House floor action occurred on Thursday, June 2, 2011, in connection with H.R. 2017, the Fiscal Year 2012 Homeland Security Appropriations bill.  The House began considering the bill on Wednesday, June 1, 2011, plowed through amendments to the measure until about 12:30 am EDT the next morning, resumed consideration of the bill at about 12:25 pm EDT on Thursday, June 2, and completed consideration of the bill just before 7:00 pm EDT that evening.  The House passed the measure by a vote of 231-188.

The House considered 20 immigration- or refugee-related amendments to H.R. 2017 during the two days that the bill was before the body.  Of the 20 amendments, the House agreed to eight and rejected three.  Additionally, the presiding officer of the House found that nine immigration- or border security-related floor amendments that Members offered to H.R. 2017 were out of order, thus, denying the amendments' authors the right to a vote in the House on them.

The significant immigration- or border-related amendments that the House agreed to during its consideration of H.R. 2017 include a Royce amendment to increase funding for the 287(g) program by $1 MILLION; a Honda amendment to strike language in the bill that would have barred direct funding for immigrant integration grant programs; a Poe amendment to bar funding in contravention of Section 642(a) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) (relating to communication with DHS on the immigration status of aliens); a Poe amendment barring funding for grants of parole or deferred action "
for any reason other than on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit"; and a Cravaack amendment that seeks to bar parole or alternatives to detention for persons described in Section 236(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  Some immigration insiders believe the latter three amendments simply restate current law and would have no practical impact if they were to become law.

Not all of the immigration- or border security-related amendments that were offered to H.R. 2017 on the House floor were agreed to.  Among the most significant amendments that the House rejected was an amendment by Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) essentially to bar all 287(g) funding in the bill and an amendment by House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security Ranking Minority Member Henry Cuellar (D-TX) to increase funding in the bill in order to procure two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for use along the U.S. border with Mexico.



Legislative History
H.R. 2017 was approved by the House Committee on Appropriations on Tuesday, May 24, 2011, which ordered it reported to the full House of Representatives by a vote of 20-17.

As approved by the House Committee on Appropriations, H.R. 2017 would provide slightly elevated levels of funding for border security and interior immigration enforcement, relative to fiscal year 2011.  However, it would make a substantial cut in fiscal year 2012 directly appropriated funding for immigration services, relative both to fiscal year 2011 and to the Obama Administration's request.

Among the Committee-approved measure’s notable immigration services-related funding cuts was its rejection of the Obama Administration’s request for direct appropriations for refugee and asylum application adjudications and its provision that would bar the use of directly appropriated USCIS funds for immigrant integration program grants, a bar that was reversed on the House floor by an amendment offered by Representative Mike Honda (D-CA).  Notwithstanding the bar on directly appropriated funding for immigrant integration programs that was contained in the Committee-approved measure, however, it provided for a funding stream for immigrant integration grant program; doing so by appropriating up to $8.5 MILLION in Immigration Examinations Fee Account funding for such a program, provided that none of the funds are used to provide immigrant integration program services to an alien who has not been admitted for lawful permanent residence.  This provision remains in the House-passed version of the bill.

From an enforcement perspective, while the Committee-approved measure would not dramatically increase overall spending for border or interior immigration enforcement, it would redirect priorities, increasing the minimum number of detention beds, for instance, from 33,400 to 34,000; explicitly funding Operation Stonegarden; and increasing funding for the Secure Communities Program.


Immigration- and Border Security-Related Floor Amendments Agreed to by the House
The following immigration- or border security-related amendments to H.R. 2017 were agreed to by the full House of Representatives during its consideration of the measure:
  • ROYCE AMENDMENT ON 287(g) FUNDING.  Representative Ed Royce (R-CA) offered an amendment to H.R. 2017 that would increase funding ICE’s Salaries & Expenses by $1 MILLION to increase funding for 287(g) programs.  The increased spending would be offset by reducing spending by $1 MILLION from the Office of the Secretary.
The House agreed to the Royce 287(g) Amendment by a vote of 268-151.

  • POE AMENDMENT ON CELL TOWER FUNDING.  Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) offered an amendment to H.R. 2017 to increase CBP’s border fencing account by $10 MILLION in order to improve cell phone access in areas near the border.  The increased spending would be offset by reducing funding for the Office of the Undersecretary for Management by $10 MILLION.
The House agreed to the Poe Cell Tower Amendment by a vote of 327-93.

  • HONDA AMENDMENT TO STRIKE LANGUAGE IN THE BILL BLOCKING DIRECT FUNDING FOR IMMIGRANT INTEGRATION GRANTS.  Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) offered an amendment to H.R. 2017 to strike language in the measure that would have barred directly appropriated funding for immigrant integration grants.
The House agreed to the Honda Immigrant Integration Grants Amendment by a voice vote.

  • POE AMENDMENT ON SANCTUARY CITIES.  Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) offered an amendment to H.R. 2017 stating that none of the funds made available by this Act may be used in contravention of section 642(a) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1373(a)), a provision that provides that a "Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.".
The House agreed to the Poe Sanctuary Communication Amendment by a voice vote.

  • POE AMENDMENT ON PAROLE AND DEFERRED ACTION.  Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) offered an amendment to H.R. 2017 providing that none of the funds made available by the Act may be used to parole an alien into the United States, or grant deferred action of a final order of removal, for any reason other than on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.
The House agreed to the Poe Parole/Deferred Action Amendment by a voice vote.

  • SESSIONS AMENDMENT TO STRIKE LANGUAGE PROHIBITING USCIS FROM CONTRACTING OUT FOR CERTAIN WORKERS.  Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) offered an amendment to strike section 514 of H.R. 2017, which would prohibit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from outsourcing to private contractors the positions of immigration officers, contact representatives, or investigative assistants.
The House agreed to the Sessions Contracting Out Amendment by a vote of 218-204.

  • LUMMIS AMENDMENT TO STRIKE LANGUAGE PERMITTING DHS TO TRANSFER ENVIRONMENTAL MITIGATION FUNDS TO THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR.  Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) offered an amendment to strike Section 547 of H.R. 2017, which permits the Department of Homeland Security to transfer prior year funds for environmental mitigation along the U.S. border to the Department of the Interior.
The House agreed to the Lummis Environmental Mitigation Amendment by a vote of 238-177.
 

  • CRAVAACK AMENDMENT TO PRECLUDE FUNDING FOR ALTERNATES TO DETENTION FOR CERTAIN CRIMINAL ALIENS.  Representative Chip Cravaack (R-MN) offered an amendment to H.R. 2017 may be used to provide alternatives to detention to aliens in contravention of Section 236(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  Some immigration insiders believe that the Cravaack Amendment is merely a restatement of current law.
The House agreed to the Cravaack Alternatives to Detention/236(c) Amendment by a vote of 289-131.


Immigration- and Border Security-Related Floor Amendments Rejected by the House
The following immigration- or border security-related amendments to H.R. 2017 were rejected by the full House of Representatives:

  • McCAUL INCREASED FUNDING FOR BORDER TECHNOLOGY AMENDMENT.  Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) offered an amendment to H.R. 2017 that would have increased funding by $10 MILLION for Border Tehnology.
The House rejected the McCaul Amendment by a voice vote.

  • CUELLAR INCREASED FUNDING FOR UAVs AMENDMENT.  Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX) offered an amendment to H.R. 2017 that would have increased funding by $320 MILLION for CBP's Air and Marine account for the purposes of purchasing two additional Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).  The increased spending would be offset, in part, by reducing funding for the Office of the Undersecretary for Management by $16 MILLION.
The House rejected the Cuellar Amendment by a vote of 162-256.

  • POLIS AMENDMENT TO BAR FUNDING FOR THE 287(g) PROGRAM.  Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) offered an amendment to H.R. 2017 providing that none of the funds provided in this Act may be used for the 287(g) Program.
The House rejected the Polis 287(g) Amendment by a vote of 107-313.


Immigration- and Border Security-Related Floor Amendments Ruled Out of Order
The following immigration- or border security-related amendments to H.R. 2017 were ruled out of order upon being offered on the floor of the House of Representatives:

  • POE INCREASED FUNDING FOR DETENTION And REMOVAL AMENDMENT.  Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) offered an amendment (Amendment Number 7) that would have increased funding for ICE’s Detention and Removal Operations by $100 MILLION, to be used for detention beds.  The increased spending would be offset by reducing the Office of the Undersecretary for Management by $100 MILLION.
The Poe Amendment was ruled out of order by the Chair.

  • McCAUL INCREASED FUNDING FOR UAVs AMENDMENT.  Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) offered an amendment to H.R. 2017 that that would increased funding by $50 MILLION for CBP's Air and Marine account for the purposes of purchasing two additional Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and additional helicopters.
The McCaul Amendment was ruled out of order by the Chair.

  • McCAUL INCREASED FUNDING FOR OPERATION STONEGARDEN AMENDMENT.  Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) offered an amendment to H.R. 2017 that would have increased funding by $10 MILLION for Operation Stonegarden.
The McCaul Amendment was ruled out of order by the Chair.

  • McCAUL INCREASED FUNDING FOR BEST TEAMS AMENDMENT.  Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) offered an amendment to H.R. 2017 that would have increased funding by $10 MILLION for ICE's Salaries and Expenses account by $10 MILLION in order to increase the number of Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) Teams.
The McCaul Amendment was ruled out of order by the Chair.

  • McCAUL INCREASED FUNDING FOR DETENTION AND REMOVAL AMENDMENT.  Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) offered an amendment to H.R. 2017 that would have increased funding by $10 MILLION for ICE's Detention and Removal Account to be used for additional detention capacity.
The McCaul Amendment was ruled out of order by the Chair.

  • McCAUL INCREASED FUNDING FOR 287(g) PROGRAM AMENDMENT.  Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) offered an amendment to H.R. 2017 that would have increased funding by $10 MILLION Iin order to nearly triple the funding available for 287(g) programs.
The McCaul Amendment was ruled out of order by the Chair.

  • POE AMENDMENT ON SANCTUARY CITIES.  Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) offered an amendment to H.R. 2017 (Amendment Number 9 Printed in the Congressional Record) stating that none of the funds made available by the Act may be used to provide assistance to state and local communities in violation Section 642(a) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), which provides that a "Federal, State, or local government entitity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual."
The Poe Amendment was ruled out of order by the Chair.

  • ALTIMRE AMERICAN-MADE STEEL FOR BORDER FENCING AMENDMENT.  Representative Jason Altmire (D-PA) offered an amendment to require that American-made steel be used on any new fencing or any repair of fencing along the U.S. border with Mexico.
The Altimire Amendment was ruled out of order by the Chair.

  • KING DEDICATED FUNDING FOR FENCING AMENDMENT.  Representative Steve King (R-IA) offered an amendment to H.R. 2017 to designate $50 MILLION of funding in the bill for building 25 miles of fencing along the U.S. border with Mexico, as is required by Section 102 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsiblity Act of 1996 (IIRIRA).
The King Amendment was ruled out of order by the Chair.


Next Steps
Now that the U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 2017, the next step in the legislative process is for the Senate Committee on Appropriations to take up its own version of the measure.  At the time of this witing, no timetable for when that might happen had been established.


Text of H.R. 2017, as Reported by the House Committee on Appropriations
Text of H.R. 2017, as Passed by the House

Text of the Committee Report Accompanying, H.R. 2017

Text of Potential Amendments Printed in the Congressional Record

Summary of Immigration-Related Provisions in the Subcommittee-Approved Bill
Summary of Immigration Action in Full Appropriations Committee
 
 

House Homeland Security Committee Panel Approves
Three Border Security Bills


By Micheal E. Hill
Thursday, June 2, 2011
-- 8:05 pm EDT
--Updated on Sunday, June 5, 2011, at 4:00 pm EDT--
--Original Version Posted on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 8:58 am EDT--

A House Homeland Security panel has approved three border security bills, readying them for consideration by the full House Committee on Homeland Security.  Action on the three measures occurred on Thursday, June 2, 2011, in connection with H.R. 1299, the "Secure Border Act of 2011"; H.R. 915, the "Jamie Zapata Border Enforcement Security Task Force Act"; and H.R. 1922, a bill to provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection with greater access to Federal lands.  The Subcommittee approved all three measures by voice votes.  However, one of the measures drew several amendments from the Democratic side of the aisle.

The following briefly summarizes the three bills marked up in the Subcommittee:
  • H.R. 1299, Relating to Operational Control of the Border.  As approved by the Subcommittee, H.R. 1299 would direct the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) to within 180 days of the enactment of the Act, submit to the House Committee on Like the original version, the Miller Substitute would require the Department of Homeland Security to submit to the House Committee on Homeland Security and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs “a comprehensive strategy for gaining operational control of the international borders.  But the Substitute added to the bill the requirement directing the Secretary to submit a comprehensive measurement system that analyzes the effectiveness of security at all land, air, and sea ports of entry.   And the Substitute introduced the idea of using the Sandia National Laboratory to measure the efficacy of the Department’s standards.Like the original version, the Miller Substitute would require the Department of Homeland Security to submit to the House Committee on Homeland Security and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs “a comprehensive strategy for gaining operational control of the international borders.  But the Substitute added to the bill the requirement directing the Secretary to submit a comprehensive measurement system that analyzes the effectiveness of security at all land, air, and sea ports of entry.   And the Substitute introduced the idea of using the Sandia National Laboratory to measure the efficacy of the Department’s standards.Homeland Security and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs “a comprehensive strategy for gaining operational control of the international borders between the official ports of entry of the United States” within five years.  The measure also would direct the Secretary to submit a comprehensive measurement system that analyzes the effectiveness of security at all land, air, and sea ports of entry. 

    The Subcommittee-approved bill provides that the term “operational control” would have the same meaning in the bill as is found in Section 2(b) of
    P.L. 109-367, the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which defines it as “the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband.”

    When the Subcommittee took up H.R. 1299, it actually took up an Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute that was offered by House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security Chairwoman Candice Miller (R-MI).  The  Miller Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute made substantial changes to the introduced version of the bill.  Like the original version, the Miller Substitute would require the Department of Homeland Security to submit to the House Committee on Homeland Security and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs "a comprehensive strategy for gaining operational control of the international borders."  But the Substitute added to the bill the requirement directing the Secretary to submit a comprehensive measurement system that analyzes the effectiveness of security at all land, air, and sea ports of entry.  And the Substitute introduced the idea of using the Sandia National Laboratory to measure the efficacy of the Department's standards.
The Subcommittee approved the measure by a voice vote after agreeing to the Miller Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute and rejecting the following three amendments offered by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX):

JACKSON LEE SAFETY OF BORDER TOWNS IN THE U.S. AMENDMENT.--Representative Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) offered a Safety of U.S. Border Towns Amendment to the Miller Subsitute that would have added language to the bill's findings finding that crime rates in many border towns are substantially lower than they are in towns and cities in the interior of the United States.

The Subcommittee rejected the Jackson Lee Amendment by a voice vote.
 
JACKSON LEE CIVIL AND CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT.--Representative Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) offered a Civil and Constitutional Rights Amendment to the Miller Substitute that would have required that the plan that the bill requires the Secretary of Homeland Security also include a plan for protecting the civil and constitutional rights of persons encountered at the border.

The Subcommittee rejected the Jackson Lee Amendment by a vote of 4-7.

JACKSON LEE LIFE AND SAFETY AMENDMENT.--Representative Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) offered a Life and Safety Amendment to the Miller Substitute that would have required that the plan that the bill requires the Secretary of Homeland Security also include a plan for protecting the life and safety of persons who may be subjected to harsh life threatening weather and terrain along the border.

The Subcommittee rejected the Jackson Lee Amendment by a vote of 4-7.

  • H.R. 1922, Relating to CBP Access to Federal Lands.  As introduced, H.R. 1922 would provide that, notwithstanding any other provision of law, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shall have access to Federal lands for security activities, including routine motorized patrols; and the deployment of temporary tactical infrastructure.  The measure would provide that in carrying out routine motorized patrols and deploying temporary tactical infrastructure, CBP shall, “to the maximum extent practicable, in a manner that the Secretary of Homeland Security determines will best protect the natural and cultural resources on Federal lands.”
The Subcommittee approved the measure without amendment by a voice vote.
 
  • H.R. 915, Border Enforcement Security Task Force Program.  As introduced, H.R. 915 would establish within the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unit a Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) program.  The measure would establish a number of criteria for the Secretary of Homeland Security to take into consideration when establishing BEST programs and, and it would direct the Secretary to report on the effectiveness of the program in enhancing border security and reducing the drug trafficking, arms smuggling, illegal alien trafficking and smuggling, violence, and kidnapping along and across U.S. borders.

    When the Subcommittee took up H.R. 915, it actually took up an Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute that was offered by House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Enforcement Ranking Minority Member Henry Cuellar (D-TX).  The Cuellar Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute made two changes to the bill, including adding a provision authorizing $10 MILLION for the bill.  
The Subcommittee approved the measure by a voice vote after agreeing to the Cuellar Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute.


Next Steps
Now that the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security has approved the three measures, the next step in the legislative process is for the full Committee on Homeland Security to take up the measures.  According to Subcommittee Chair Miller, the full House Committee on Homeland Security is likely to take up the bills sometime in June.


 
 
New Today!
NEW!   MicEvHill.Com has posted the Thursday, June 30, 2011, edition of its "Today on the Hill" page, which details the likely immigration- and refugee-related legislative activity for Thursday, June 30, 2011. -- Click Here to See the June 30, 2011, Edition of "Today on the Hill"
 
New This Week!
MicEvHill.Com has posted a brief write-up summarizing the likely immigration- and refugee-related legislative activity that Congress will face during the week of June 27, 2011. --  Click Here to See a Summary of the Likely Immigration- and Refugee-Related Legislative Activity for the Week of June 27, 2011
MicEvHill.Com has posted the June 27, 2011, edition of its "This Week on the Hill" page, which details the likely congressional immigration- and refugee-related legislative activity for the week of June 27, 2011. -- Click Here to See the June 27, 2011, Edition of "This Week on the Hill"
MicEvHill.Com has posted a link to the "Weekly Update on "Immigration and Refugee Legislative Matters" for the week of June 27, 2011. -- Click Here to See the June 27, 2011, Edition of the Weekly Legislative Update
 
New Last Week!
MicEvHill.Com has posted a sneak peek at the possible immigration-related discussions that could take place during the June 26, 2011, Sunday public affairs programs. -- Click Here to See a preview of the June 26, 2011, Sunday Public Affairs Programs
MicEvHill.Com has posted a write-up summarizing the June 23, 2011, markup of an visa security bill and an H-1C nurses nonimmigrant bill that were marked up in the House Committee on the Judiciary. -- Click Here to See the Summary of the June 23, 2011, House Judiciary Committee Markup
MicEvHill.Com has posted a write-up on the HALT Act, a bill that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) is planning to introduce that would strip President Obama and his Administration of much of its discretionary immigration authority for the remainder of the Obama Administration's first term. -- Click Here to See the Write-Up on the HALT Act
MicEvHill.Com has posted a write-up previewing the June 23, 2011, markup of three immigration and visa security bills being marked up in the House Committee on the Judiciary. -- Click Here to See the Preview of the June 23, 2011, House Judiciary Committee Markup
MicEvHill.Com has posted a brief write-up summarizing the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011", introduced by Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) on June 22, 2011. --  Click Here to See the Write-Up of the Menendez Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill, Including Links to Bill Text and Summaries of the Measure
MicEvHill.Com has posted immigration-related video clips from the June 19, 2011, Sunday public affairs programs. -- Click Here to See the Immigration-Related Video Clips from the June 19, 2011, Sunday Public Affairs Programs
MicEvHill.Com has posted a brief write-up summarizing the likely immigration- and refugee-related legislative activity that Congress will face during the week of June 20, 2011. --  Click Here to See a Summary of the Likely Immigration- and Refugee-Related Legislative Activity for the Week of June 20, 2011
MicEvHill.Com the June 20, 2011, edition of its "This Week on the Hill" page, which details the likely congressional immigration- and refugee-related legislative activity for the week of June 20, 2011. -- Click Here to See the June 20, 2011, Edition of "This Week on the Hill"
MicEvHill.Com has posted a link to the "Weekly Update on "Immigration and Refugee Legislative Matters" for the week of June 20, 2011. -- Click Here to See the June 20, 2011, Edition of the Weekly Legislative Update
 
New This Month!
MicEvHill.Com has posted a sneak peek at the possible immigration-related discussions that could take place during the June 19, 2011, Sunday public affairs programs. -- Click Here to See a preview of the June 19, 2011, Sunday Public Affairs Programs
MicEvHill.Com has posted a write-up summarizing the June 15, 2011, introduction of the "Refugee Protection Act of 2011" by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement Ranking Minority Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). -- Click Here to See the Write-Up on the Bill's Introduction
MicEvHill.Com has posted the unofficial text of the S. 1196 the "Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act", introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Minority Member Charles Grassley (R-IA). -- Click Here to See the Unofficial Text of S. 1196
MicEvHill.Com has posted a number of new immigration- and refugee-related documents on its "Top Documents" page, including links to the text of recently introduced bills and amendments, as well as transcripts of and the prepared testimony for several recent House and Senate hearings at which immigration or refugee matters were prominently featured.  --  Click Here to See the MicEvHill.Com's "Top Documents" Page
MicEvHill.Com has posted a write-up summarizing the June 15, 2011, hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement on Representative Lamar Smith's H.R. 2164, a measure that would requier all employers in the United Staets to use the E-Verify System. -- Click Here to See the Write-Up of the Hearing
MicEvHill.Com has posted a write-up summarizing some of the most significant provisions in S. 1196, a mandatory E-Verify bill introduced on Tuesday, June 14, 2011, by Senate Juidiciary Committee Ranking Minority Member Charles Grassley (R-IA). -- Click Here to See the Write-Up of the Grassley E-Verify Bill
MicEvHill.Com has posted the just-released official text of the H.R. 2164, the "Legal Workforce Act", introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX). -- Click Here to See the Official Text of H.R. 2164
MicEvHill.Com has posted a write-up summarizing some of the most significant provisions in H.R. 2164, a mandatory electronic employment verification system bill introduced on Tuesday, June 14, 2011, by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX). -- Click Here to See the Write-Up of the Lamar Smith E-Verify Bill
MicEvHill.Com has posted a write-up summarizing the immigration matters that were discussed during the June 13, 2011, Republican presidential candidate debate that aired on CNN, including a link to a video excerpt of the immigration discussion that took place during the debate. -- Click Here to See the Write-Up and Video of the Immigration Discussion that Occurred During the June 13 GOP Presidential Candidate Debate In New Hampshire
MicEvHill.Com has posted a brief write-up summarizing the likely immigration- and refugee-related legislative activity that Congress will face during the week of June 13, 2011. --  Click Here to See a Summary of the Likely Immigration- and Refugee-Related Legislative Activity for the Week of June 13, 2011
MicEvHill.Com has posted its June 13, 2011, edition of its "This Week on the Hill" page, which details the likely congressional immigration- and refugee-related legislative activity for the week of June 13, 2011. -- Click Here to See the June 13, 2011, Edition of "This Week on the Hill"
MicEvHill.Com has posted a link to the "Weekly Update on "Immigration and Refugee Legislative Matters" for the week of June 13, 2011. -- Click Here to See the June 13, 2011, Edition of the Weekly Legislative Update
MicEvHill.Com has posted a write-up summarizing five immigration- and border security-related floor amendments that have been filed by Senators Jim DeMint and Patrick Leahy to an economic development measure that the Senate is considering. -- Click Here to See the Write-Up of the DeMint and Leahy Amendments to S. 782
MicEvHill.Com has posted a sneak peek at the possible immigration-related discussions that could take place during the June 12, 2011, Sunday public affairs programs. -- Click Here to See a preview of the June 12, 2011, Sunday Public Affairs Programs
MicEvHill.Com has made extensive updates to its "Over the Horizon" page, which looks ahead to likely immigration-, asylum-, and refugee-related legislative activity that either is scheduled to occur within the next several weeks or which has not yet been officially scheduled but that is likely occuring just over the horizon. -- Click Here to See MicEvHill.Com's "Over the Horizon" Page
 
MicEvHill.Com has posted a brief write-up summarizing the likely immigration- and refugee-related legislative activity that Congress will face during the week of June 6, 2011
. --  
Click Here to See a Summary of the Likely Immigration- and Refugee-Related Legislative Activity for the Week of June 6, 2011
MicEvHill.Com has posted the June 6, 2011, edition of its "This Week on the Hill" page, which previews the likely congressional immigration- and refugee-related legislative activity for the week of June 6, 2011. -- Click Here to See the June 6, 2011, Edition of "This Week on the Hill"
MicEvHill.Com has posted a link to the "Weekly Update on "Immigration and Refugee Legislative Matters" for the week of June 6, 2011. -- Click Here to See the June 6, 2011, Edition of the Weekly Legislative Update
MicEvHill.Com has posted the just-released text of the House-passed version of H.R. 2017, the Fiscal Year 2012 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill. -- Click Here to See the June 6, 2011, Edition of the Weekly Legislative Update
MicEvHill.Com has posted a sneak peek at the possible immigration-related discussions that could take place during the June 5, 2011, Sunday public affairs programs. -- Click Here to See a preview of the June 5, 2011, Sunday Public Affairs Programs
MicEvHill.Com has posted a write-up previewing the June 3, 2011, House Judiciary Committee markup of two controversial immigration bills. -- Click Here to See the Preview of the June 3, 2011, House Judiciary Committee Markup
MicEvHill.Com has made extensive updates to its "Over the Horizon" page, which looks ahead to likely immigration-, asylum-, and refugee-related legislative activity that either is scheduled to occur within the next several weeks or which has not yet been officially scheduled but that is likely occuring just over the horizon. -- Click Here to See MicEvHill.Com's "Over the Horizon" Page
MicEvHill.Com has posted a write-up summarizing the immigration-, border security-, and refugee-related action that occurred in the House of Representatives during House floor consideration of H.R. 2017, the Fiscal Year 2012 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, which the House passed on June 2, 2011. -- Click Here to See a Summary of the Immigration-, Border Security-, and Refugee-Related Action in Relation to House Floor Consideration of HR. 2017
MicEvHill.Com has posted a write-up summarizing the June 2, 2011, markup of three border security bills in the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security. -- Click Here to See the Summary of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee Markup of the Three Border Security bills
MicEvHill.Com has posted a link to the "Weekly Update on "Immigration and Refugee Legislative Matters" for the week of May 30, 2011. -- Click Here to See the May 30, 2011, Edition of the Weekly Legislative Update
MicEvHill.Com has posted a brief write-up summarizing the likely legislative activity that Congress will face during the week of May 30, 2011. -- Click Here to See a Summary of the Likely Immigration- and Refugee-Related Legislative Activity for the Week of May 30, 2011
MicEvHill.Com has posted the May 30, 2011, edition of its "This Week on the Hill" page, which previews the likely congressional immigration- and refugee-related legislative activity for the week of May 30, 2011. -- Click Here to See the May 30, 2011, Edition of "This Week on the Hill"


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