DC Insights: USCIS Nominee / India PM Visiting Next Week / Travel Ban Case Still Pending / Gender-Based Citizenship Case / Legislative Tracker
Feature Story: Recess is Coming – What we Expect from Congress in the Coming Months
Headlines: Brexit / Eid Delays / Canada Global Talent / Brain Gain / DACA
DC Insights: What We Learned in the Past 7 Days
Nominee for USCIS Director Moves to Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Lee Cissna to head USCIS. The final step, a confirmation vote in the Senate, has not yet been scheduled.
Update – India’s Prime Minister to Visit DC Next Week. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to DC has been scheduled for June 26th. The H-1B visa program will likely be discussed as President Trump has promised a crackdown on visa abuses, and Indian companies and Indian citizens are among the top recipients of H-1B visas.
Update – Travel Ban Appeal Still Pending at the Supreme Court. On Monday June 12th, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to reverse the Hawaii district court’s injunction preventing parts of President Trump’s Travel Ban from implementation. The three-judge panel was unanimous in their decision. The Supreme Court is still deliberating whether or not they will agree to hear the case.
Supreme Court Rejects Gender-based Distinctions in Citizenship Law. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a gender-based distinction in existing citizenship laws disfavoring individuals whose unmarried father was a U.S. citizen over individuals whose unmarried mother was a U.S. citizen. The Supreme Court found the gender-based distinction unconstitutional.
Legislative Tracker – Bills we are Watching
- In May, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, introduced the State Sponsored Visa Pilot Program Act of 2017. The proposed bill will allow states to issue up to 5,000 temporary work visas. States would decide whether they wanted to offer the program and set wage rates for each industry. The proposed bill has been read twice and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it remains. To date, there are no scheduled actions on the proposed bill.
- On Wednesday June 14th, the House Judiciary Committee finished its work on the Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act and referred it to the House for full consideration. This bill would put a 50,000-person cap on annual refugee admission, would allow states and localities to refuse refugee resettlement, and would require Congressional approval before the president can raise or lower the cap.
- On Wednesday June 14th, the House Homeland Security Committee approved the DHS Authorization Act of 2017, which regulates and provides guidance to the Department of Homeland Security. The bill is expected to reach the House floor by the end of June.
- On Tuesday June 13th, the House passed the Verify First Act, after a vote of 238 to 184. On Wednesday June 14th, the bill was received by the Senate and referred to the Committee on Finance. As currently written, the bill would require the Social Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Health and Human Services to collaborate to determine that a person is either a citizen or in legal immigration status before issuing a premium tax credit for health insurance.
Feature Story: Recess is Coming – What to Expect from Congress in the Coming Months
Despite all the public focus on immigration changes, we do not expect any major legislative changes until fall at the earliest. Recent Executive Orders signed by President Trump have impacted the lives of thousands of immigrants and garnered headlines, but long-term, systemic immigration reform will need to come through Congressional legislation. The H-1B program, guest-worker programs, border security funding, and birthright citizenship are just some of the topics that require Congressional action.
Congress Moves Slowly and Has Other Priorities
Although several bills impacting the immigration system have been proposed, those bills are still a long way from becoming law. We know some changes are being discussed – as reported previously, sources have reported quiet negotiations between the White House, U.S. Department of Justice, and key players in congress to reform the H-1B program – but to date, no significant immigration-based bills have advanced out of committee for full Congressional consideration.
In addition, Congress will soon be adjourning for summer, with a break for 4th of July and a recess for August, returning after Labor Day. During the weeks they are in DC, we do not expect immigration to be a high priority.
Of course, EIG will continue to monitor all actions of the Executive Branch – we are paying close attention to everything from the “Travel Ban” to H-4 EAD litigation – but we do not expect any major immigration news from Congress until the fall.
But Congress is Listening
As always, immigration reform can create political divides, but the good news is that the members are listening to public debate and the positions companies are taking. On Wednesday, EIG attorneys went to Capitol Hill and met with staff for key members in the House and Senate, participating in an advocacy day. At several meetings, congressional staff mentioned that the members are taking notice when companies speak out on immigration through forums like the Silicon Valley anti-travel ban amicus brief, and public letters supporting immigrant entrepreneurs.
It is important now, more than ever, that those who are interested in immigration reform keep speaking up. As the many bills introduced into Congress slowly wind through the lengthy legislative process, the groundwork for final negotiation is often laid through direct, public input. While immediate Congressional action is unlikely, it is still a possibility for the fall.
Headlines: Immigration News from Around the World
Brexit Negotiations Begin Today. Officials from the UK and the EU will meet in Brussels today to discuss matters ranging from finances, trade, freedom of movement and the Northern Irish border. Prime Minister Theresa May’s efforts to build a coalition in Parliament continue and, as such, her ability to command enough support for the Conservative Party’s stance on Brexit remains uncertain for now. We will follow Brexit’s negotiations closely and will provide updates on new developments.
Canada: New Global Talent Stream Program Announced. Citizenship and Immigration Canada has finally announced the details of the “Global Talent Stream” program – a program originally introduced in March. The program features expedited 2 week work permit processing for positions in occupations on the “Global Talent Occupations List”, if the applicant also fulfills other criteria. If you have questions about this program, email EIG’s global team at Global@eiglaw.com.
Immigration of Highly-skilled Foreign Nationals on the Rise. As revealed in a recent Migration Policy Institute report, 48% of immigrants from 2011-2015 were college graduates. This represents a 27% increase of recently arrived immigrants who had similar degrees back in 1990. The report attributes the increases to a variety of factors, including increased worldwide English education, and a rise in highly educated Asian immigrants.
DACA Continuing Under the Trump Administration. President Trump has decided to maintain the DACA program for now, although the long-term fate of the program is still uncertain. However, while thousands who are shielded from deportation under the DACA program will retain that protection, the government has begun reopening deportation cases for undocumented immigrants who had been considered low or non-priorities under the previous administration.