The House and Senate Face a Heavy Immigration- and Refugee-Related Legislative Agenda as they Await a Supreme Court Decision on Arizona's S.B. 1070 and Begin to Spar on the Obama Administration's Announced Prosecutorial Discretion for DREAM Act Children
By Micheal E. Hill
Monday, June 18, 2012 -- 8:30 am EDT
--Original Version Posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012, at 5:10 am EDT--
The House and Senate face an unusually busy immigration- and refugee-related legislative agenda during the week to come.
The House returns from a week-long recess this coming week, joining the Senate in the nation's Capitol, which stayed behind last week. Both chambers are scheduled to be in session for the next two weeks before taking another week off for their week-long Independence Day recess.
Even though the two chambers face a heavy immigration- and refugee-related legislative agenda during the coming week, the air in Washington is dominated by two issues that are non-legislative. The first is the impending decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Arizona v. United States, relating to the constitutionality of Arizona's S.B. 1070 immigration enforcement law. The second is the decision that was announced by President Obama on Friday, June 15, to grant prosecutorial discretion and work authorization to DREAM Act children.
A Supreme Court decision on the Arizona case is expected to come on either Monday, June 18th, or Monday, June 25th. Whichever way the Court decides in the case of Arizona v. United States, the decision is likely to prompt a swift legislative response. The legislative fallout from the Obama Administration's DREAM Act decision also is expected to be swift and furious, as Republicans who oppose the policy jockey for political position and mount what is almost certain to be an unsuccessful effort to undo it legislatively.
Apart from the impending action in the Supreme Court on S.B. 1070 and the Administration's DREAM Act-related prosecutorial discretion policy, the big immigration- and refugee-related actions occurring during the week-to-come include possible votes in the Senate on several immigration-related amendments to the Farm Bill, including amendments that could deny Food Stamp benefits to U.S. citizen children who live in mixed alienage households; full House consideration of a bill that would expand DHS authority on public lands; full House consideration of a bill that would express regret for the Chinese Exclusion Act; a markup in the Senate of a North Korea human rights bill; a number of hearings on a variety of border security matters; and a plethora of activities both on and off of the Hill commemorating World Refugee Day.
If all of the preceding action is not enough to capture the attention of the pro-immigration and immigration restrictionist advocacy communities, President Obama, former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA), and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) each are scheduled to make separate appearances in Florida on Thursday and Friday of the week-to-come before the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), which will expect them to address the subject of immigration.
The week-to-come could be an interesting, if not bumpy, ride.
At the time of this writing, five immigration- or refugee-related hearings, three markup of immigration- or refugee-related measures (or of meaures that could become a target for immigration- or refugee-related amendments), and floor action on three measures containing (or that could become the target of) significant immigration- or refugee-related provisions or amendments are scheduled during the coming week.
The following lists the highlights of coming week's immigration- or refugee-related legislative-related action:
Senate Could Face Vote on Immigration in Connection with the Farm Bill. The full Senate during the week of June 18 is expected to continue its consideration of S. 3240, the "Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012", which is more popularly known as "The Farm Bill". The Senate could face votes on as many as four immigration-related amendments to the measure, including a Sessions SNAP and Immigrants Amendment that would require that immigration status of SNAP program recipients be verified through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) System, require that SNAP applicants sign a declaration that all members of their household are ether nationals of the United States or are “in a satisfactory immigration status”, and require applicants to submit documentation of their citizenship status and the citizenship status of members of the household in order to receive benefits; a Chambliss H-2A Workers Amendment that would expand the H-2A nonimmigrant seasonal agricutlural guestworker program to permit its use year-round, reduce the minimum wages that employers are required to pay to H-2A workers, lower the steps that agicultural employers must take to ensure that there are not U.S. workers to perform work, and limit the conditions under which the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) may provide legal assistance for any alien or provide financial assistance to any person or entity that provides legal assistance for any alien; and a Leahy Dairy, Sheep Herder and Goat Herder H2A Worker Amendment that would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to include within the H-2A nonimmigrant visa category (temporary agricultural workers) an alien coming temporarily to the United States to work as a sheepherder, goat herder, or dairy worker. Exempts an employer filing a petition to employ such a worker from the requirement to show that the position is of a seasonal or temporary nature.
Full House to Take Up Resolution Decrying Unjust Treatment of Chinese Immigrants by the U.S. Government.
The full House of Representatives is scheduled during the wek of June 18 to take up H. Res. 683
, a resolution expressing the regret of the House of Representatives for the passage of laws that adversely affected the Chinese in the United States, including the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Full House to Take Up Bill Exempting Border Security Activities from Environmental Laws.
The full House of Representatives during the week of June 18 is scheduled to take up H.R. 2578
, an omnibus public lands measure, Title XIV of which is comprised of the text of H.R. 1505
, the "National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act". Title XIV of the measure would prohibit the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) from taking action on public lands which impede the border security activities of the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS). The measure provides that the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have immediate access to any public land managed by the federal government in order to conduct activities that assist in securing the border (including access to maintain and construct roads, construct a fence, use patrol vehicles, and set up monitoring equipment). In addition to provisions on access, the "National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act" also would extend the authority that the Secretary of Homeland Security currently has to waive all environmental and land management laws in order to complete construction of fencing along the U.S. border with Mexico so that the authority would be applicable to all sections of the international land and maritime borders of the United States within 100 miles of such. The measure would sunset the authorities it grants to the Secretary of Homeland Security after five years.
- Senate Foreign Relations Committee Markup of North Korea Human Rights Bill. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has scheduled a markup during the week of June 18 of H.R. 4240, the Ambassador James R. Lilley and Congressman Stephen J. Solarz North Korea Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2012.
- House Appropriations Committee Markup of FY '13 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. The House Committee on Appropriations has scheduled a markup during the week of June 18 of its draft Fiscal Year 2013 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, which has no immigration-related provisions in it but which could become the target for immigration-related amendments.
- House Appropriations Panel Markup of Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies has scheduled a markup during the week of June 18 of its draft Fiscal Year 2013 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, which has no immigration-related provisions in it but which could become the target for immigration-related amendments.
- House Rules Committee Hearing on Procedure for House Consideration of Omnibus Public Lands Bill Containing Provisions Enhancing the Authority of DHS on Public Lands. The House Committee on Rules has scheduled a hearing for the week of June 18 on the procedure by which the House will take up H.R. 2578, an omnibus public lands measure, Title XIV of which is comprised of the text of H.R. 1505, the "National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act".
- House Homeland Security Panel Hearing on DHS's Response to Innovative Tactics and Techniques. The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security has scheduled a hearing for the week of June 18 titled, "Border Security Threats to the Homeland: DHS' [Department of Homeland Security] Response to Innovative Tactics and Techniques." Testifying at the hearing will be Donna A. Bucella, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Intelligence and Investigative Liaison, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security (DHS); James A. Dinkins, Executive Associate Director of Homeland Security Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, DHS; Rear Admiral William 'Dean' Lee, Deputy for Operations Policy and Capabilities, U.S. Coast Guard, DHS; and Rear Admiral Charles D. Michel, Director, Joint Interagency Task Force South.
- House Homeland Security Committee Hearing on Islamic Radicalization in the United States. The House Committee on Homeland Security has scheduled a hearing for the week of Jue 18 on Islamic radicalization in the United States. Testifying at the hearing will be Zuhdi Jasser, President and Founder, American Islamic Forum for Democracy; Asra Nomani, private citizen; Qanta A. A. Ahmed, private citizen; and John Cohen, principal coordinator for counterterrorism, Department of Homeland Security.
- House Judiciary Panel Hearing on Chinese Media Reciprocity Bill. The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement has scheduled a hearing for the week of June 18 on H.R. 2899, the "Chinese Media Reciprocity Act of 2011", which would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to ensure open and free journalism access in the People's Republic of China by establishing a reciprocal relationship between the number of visas issued to state-controlled media workers in China and in the United States. At the time of this writing, the witness list for the hearing had not yet been publicly released.
- House Homeland Security Panel Hearing on U.S.-Caribbean Border Security. The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management has scheduled a hearing for the week of June 18 titled "U.S.-Caribbean Border: Open Road for Drug Traffickers and Terrorists." Testifying at the hearing will be Luis Fortuno, Governor, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; Rear Admiral William Lee, Deputy for Operations, Policy and Capabilities, U.S. Coast Guard; Janice Ayala, Assistant Director for Operations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security (DHS); Kevin McAleenan, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations, Customs and Border Protection, DHS; and Michael Kostelnik, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Air and Marine, Customs and Border Protection, DHS.
In addition to "on the Hill" immigration- and refugee-related action that is scheduled for the coming week, a number of significant "off of the Hill" immigration- and refugee-related activities also could occur.
The following lists several highlights of the coming week's "off-of-the-Hill" immigration- and refugee-related legislative-related action:
- Obama, Romney, Rubio Remarks at NALEO Annual Conference. The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) is planning a three day-long Annual Conference during the week of June 18, during which it will hear from a multitude of public officials and candidates, including President Barack Obama, former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA), and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). The conference is being held at Disney's Contemporary Resort in Lake Buena Vista, FL.
Lamar Smith Press Conference on Immigration. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has scheduled a press conference for the week of June 18 on immigration. At the time of this writing, it was not widely known if he intends to address the Administration's decision to exercise prosecutorial discretion for DREAM Act Children or if he is anticipating a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Arizona v. United States, relating to the constitutionality of Arizona's S.B. 1070 immigration enforcement law.
Press Conference on Resolution of Regret for Chinese Exclusion Act. Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) has scheduled a news conference for the week of Jubne 18 following the House vote on H.Res. 683, a Resolution of Regret for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, a law that prevented Chinese citizens from becoming naturalized American citizens, voting, or immigrating to the United States until 1943.
World Refugee Day Activities. More than a-half-of-a-dozen events are scheduled in Washington during the week of June 18 to commemorate World Refugee Day, including a State Department briefing titled, "World Refugee Day: How the U.S. Manages the World's Largest Refugee Resettlement Program"; a reception and photo exhibit sponsored by the Jesuit Refugee Service; a reception in honor of the late Representative Donald Payne celebrating his work on refugee issues; a news conference featuring the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; a fllm screening at the John F. Kennedy Center for the performing arts; and a concert.
Book Discussion on the Making of the Chinese Mexican. The National Archives has scheduled a a book discussion for the week of June 18 on "Making the Chinese Mexican: Global Migration, Localism, and Exclusion in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands." Participating in the discussion wil be the book's author, Grace Delgado.
Forum on the Visa Waiver Program. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has scheduled an event for the week of June 18 on "Promoting Travel while Protecting National Security: Stimulating Travel, Streamlining Visa Processing, and Expanding the Visa Waiver Program." The program includes three panels. Participants in the first panel on "The Economics of Travel" will include Former Assistant Homeland Security Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Policy C. Stewart Verdery Jr., CSIS Senior Associate; and Julie Heizer, Acting Director of the Commerce Department Office of Travel and Tourism Industries. Participants on the second panel on "Encouraging Travel by Streamlining Visa Processing" will include Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services David Donahue; and Geoff Freeman, COO and Executive Vice President of the U.S. Travel Association. Participants in the third panel on "Expanding the Visa Waiver Program" will include Deputy Assistant Homeland Security Secretary for International Affairs Mark Koumans.
Book Discussion on Ellis Island and the Immigrant Experience. The National Archives has scheduled a discussion for the week of June 18titled, "Ellis Island and the Immigrant Experience." Participants in the discussion will include Megan Smolenyak, genealogy expert and author of "Hey America, Your Roots are Showing"; Marian Smith, Historian at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; John Phillip Colletta, genealogy expert and lecturer; and Joel Wurl, Senior Program Officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities.
White House Daily Briefings. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney is scheduled to conduct daily press briefings during the coming week, at which he will field questions from the White House press corps, including possible questions on immigration- and refugee-related matters.