Major U.S. Congressional Actions in 2018 â€“ ImmigrationSecuring Americaâ€™s Future Act
- Introduced by retiring House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) as a bill favored by conservative Republicans.
- Would have granted legal status to DACA recipients with reapplication every three years.
- Would allow the Department of Justice (DOJ) to penalize sanctuary cities and authorize more border wall construction.
- One of the only immigration bills that made it to a full House vote, but failed, 193-231.
Status: Failed in a House vote on 6/21/18Government Shutdown
- The government shut down from Jan. 19-Jan. 22, 2018 when Senate Democrats refused to pass government funding legislation without protections for DACA recipients.
- Senate Democrats voted to reopen the government following what seemed to be a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to open debate on immigration bills.
Status: Majority Leader McConnell did not open debate on immigration billsUSA Act (H.R. 4796/S.2367)
- A bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) in the House on and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) in the Senate.
- Would have provided undocumented minors who have lived in the US for at least four years the opportunity to earn permanent legal status.
- Also includes provisions to strengthen border security.
Status: Referred to House and Senate Judiciary Committees, no action afterwardSources: National Journal Research, 2018
Trump Administration Recap
- President Trump announced plans to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in September 2017.
- He gave Congress until March 5, 2018 to act.
- Several federal courts have granted injunctions that forced the federal government to resume DACA while it works its way through the courts.
- Congress has not passed any legislation to codify DACA.
- Lacking major funding to construct a full wall, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has devoted funds to repairing existing barriers.
- Roughly 40 miles of new barriers have been erected or approved for construction.
- The Trump administration commissioned construction of wall prototypes in 2017; the wall designs failed U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)â€™s field tests.
Family Separation Crisis
- The DOJ instituted a â€œzero toleranceâ€ policy in April, which required prosecution of all people attempting to enter the country not at a port of entry.
- DHS separated children from their parents because they are not allowed to detain children for more than 20 days (Flores Agreement).
- The policy was ended by executive order on June 20 after intense public pressure.
â€œI am proud to shut down the government for border security.â€Â â€” President Trump threatening to shut down the government unless Congress included $5 billion for the border wall in its end-of-year government funding package.
Sources: National Journal Research, 2018
Potential 2019 Congressional Immigration Agenda Items
Pathway to Citizenship for Undocumented Youth
- Incoming Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has signaled support for bills providing a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients.
- Incoming House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has said that he will aim to strike an immigration deal with Republicans.
Potential Legislation: S. 1615 Dream Act
- Introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) with bipartisan support.
- Would grant a three-year provisional residence for qualified undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
- Also provides additional funding for border security.
Family Migration (â€œChainâ€ Migration)
- President Trump and conservative Republicans have demanded that any changes to immigration involve the end of family-based visa sponsorship or â€œchainâ€ migration.
- Conservative Republicans are wary that DACA recipients that earn a path to citizenship or residency will be able to sponsor their family members who brought them to the U.S. illegally.
â€œ[The 2017 Dream Act] would allow these young people â€“ who grew up in the United States â€“ to contribute more fully to the country they love.Â They have a powerful story to tell and this may be an area where both parties can come together.â€Â â€” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), incoming chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee
Â Sources: National Journal Research, 2018
House Democrats are Poised to Hold Many More Oversight Hearings on Immigration
- Incoming House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) plans to hold more oversight hearings on the Trump administrationâ€™s handling of the family separation crisis.
- As chair, he will wield subpoena power over Trump administration officials that were involved in separating children at the southern border.
Immigration Detention Centers
- After a seven-year-old girl died in federal immigration custody in December 2018, members have called for hearings on CBPâ€™s handling of juvenile detention.
â€œWe should be investigating the fact that the United States government tore babies out of the arms of their mothers and there are still separated kids who havenâ€™t been reunited with their families and may never be.â€Â â€” Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee
Potential 2019 Trump Administration Immigration Agenda Items
Cuts to Asylum Numbers
- The administration is trying to cut down on what it sees as abuses of the asylum system.
- They have already removed the ability to apply for asylum on domestic violence or gang violence grounds.
- They are now negotiating with the Mexican government to keep asylum-seekers in Mexico while their claims are processed.
Public Charge Rule
- The proposed rule would expand the number of immigrants who could be excluded as â€œpublic chargesâ€ under the Immigration & Nationality Act.
- Probable future usage of health care, nutrition,Â and housing programs would count as factors for denial under the rule.
- The public comment period closed on December 10, 2018; over 210,000 comments were received and must be reviewed before a final rule is issued.
Flores Agreement Appeal
- The Flores Agreement prevents children from being detained for more than 20 days.
- The Trump administration has introduced a proposed rule that would end Flores and free the federal governmentâ€™s juvenile immigrant detention from court supervision.
- The public comment period closed on November 6, 2018; HHS and DHS must now review the comments before issuing a final rule.
â€œAs ridiculous as it sounds, the laws of our country do not easily allow us to send those crossing our Southern Border back where they came from. A whole big wasted procedure must take place.â€Â â€” President Trump in an April 2, 2018 tweet criticizing asylum claims
Sources: National Journal Research, 2018