US Headlines: Deadline for Congress to Act on DACA Moves Closer / Challenge to the Travel Ban to Be Heard by the Supreme Court / Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Revises its I-94 Website / Organizations Show Support for Keeping H-4 EAD
Global Headlines: El Salvadoran Refugees to Head North After Trump Ends TPS / Protestors Respond to the Government’s Treatment of Migrants / Switzerland One Step Closer to Cancelling Schengen Status
Feature Story: Government Shutdown Ends; Countdown Begins Again with Immigration Push in Senate
The Deadline for Congress to Act on DACA Moves Closer. With the deadline to end DACA set for March 5, 2018, the urgency for Congress to step in is becoming increasingly necessary. However, it is unclear how concrete this deadline is since a federal judge has ruled that USCIS should accept renewal applications going forward. USCIS began accepting renewal applications again on January 13, 2018.
Challenge to the Travel Ban to Be Heard by the Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court has announced an interest in hearing a challenge to the latest enactment of the Trump administration’s Travel Ban. Last March, the Court allowed part of the third version of the Travel Ban to go into effect while litigation challenging it was pending. The Court will likely issue its response in June.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has Revised its I-94 Website. CBP has introduced the “View Compliance” feature within their I-94 website to help Visa Waiver travelers stay in compliance. The feature allows Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers to check their status to see how many days they have left of their lawful stay in the US. Travelers will also receive email notifications when they are close to expiring.
Organizations Show Support for Keeping H-4 EAD. Several organizations, including the Software Alliance, Compete America, the Council for Global Immigration, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wrote Lee Francis Cissna, Director of USCIS, in support of retaining the H-4 EAD program. The organizations highlighted the benefits of H-4 EAD employment to the US economy.
El Salvadoran Refugees to Head North after Trump ends TPS. The Trump administration has announced its intention to end the Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) program for citizens of El Salvador living in the United States, a population of roughly 200,000 people. The administration intends to terminate the TPS program for Salvadorans on September 9, 2019, despite many having U.S. citizen children (roughly 190,000 U.S. citizen children of Salvadoran TPS holders). The Canadian government has been proactively addressing the potential influx of Salvadorans, sending delegates to U.S. cities with large populations of Salvadorans to address the challenges of immigrating to Canada, despite widespread misinformation across social media channels. In November 2017, over 1,600 people crossed the Canadian border on foot without authorization.
Protesters Respond to the Government’s Treatment of Migrants. In response to the Belgian government’s plan to conduct raids and arrests on migrants in Brussels, over 2,000 Belgians protested in the capital and found overnight residences for hundreds of homeless migrants with the aid of volunteer programs. The protest is part of a larger pattern of discontent with Belgium’s immigration policy, specifically with regard to its handling of the deportation of Sudanese migrants. Opponents of the government’s plan have singled out Junior Minister Theo Francken of the New Flemish Alliance party (N-VA) for his role in the deportations amidst widespread reports of human rights violations.
Switzerland One Step Closer to Cancelling Schengen Status. A Swiss campaign to abandon the country’s Schengen Member State status, which guarantees freedom of movement with 26 other European countries, has received approval to move forward from the Swiss Government. Proponents of the initiative to curb immigration from the EU now have until July 2019 to obtain 100,000 signatures in support. If successful, the initiative would come down to a vote by the entire Swiss population to be passed into law. This referendum represents a continuing trend in Switzerland in response to its dissatisfaction with the EU’s resulting economic limitations placed on the country as a non-member. The latest push for stricter immigration reform comes after the 2014 referendum against mass immigration, which was later watered down by the Swiss parliament in 2016 in an effort to preserve diplomatic relations with neighboring countries.
Feature Story: Government Shutdown Ends; Countdown Begins Again With Immigration Push in Senate
The U.S. government shutdown ended last night with an agreement to fund the government for three weeks, until February 8th. As part of the negotiations to end the shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agreed to let an immigration bill reach the Senate floor. However, the negotiated agreement did not contain specifics as to which bill would be heard, or addressed.
On Tuesday morning, Senator McConnell opened the Senate session by stating that “serious negotiations” can resume on issues including immigration. Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) tweeted on Monday that it would be a breach of trust if the agreement to vote on a bill was not honored.
With a 16-day countdown and no single immigration reform bill emerging as a bipartisan favorite, it seems unlikely that a comprehensive bill will result from this compromise. However, if any immigration legislation makes it to a Senate vote by February 8th, that would be progress, if only slight. Lawmakers still have roughly a month and a half until March 5th, the date that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is currently set to end.
There are currently several immigration bills pending review by the full Senate and several more still at more preliminary stages, with bills from both sides of the aisle addressing the issues of DACA, border security, Temporary Protected Status, and the diversity visa lottery. Given this cornucopia of legislation, there remains significant uncertainty as to what specifics the Senate would vote on. Even if a compromise bill were to pass through the Senate with 60 votes, there is no guarantee that the bill would be taken up in the House of Representatives
Jowanda Jones, Attorney
Jeff Davis, Paralegal
Michael Craig, Attorney
Editors: Jeff DeCruz, Aisha Farooq, Christina Holtz, and Theresa Meehan