Anti-Immigrant Legislation – We Need Your Voice!

President Obama’s executive action will provide millions of our undocumented community members the opportunity to apply for temporary relief from deportation. Some members of Congress have threatened to stop administrative action through legislation, legal action or blocking funding for implementation. Additionally, with the new 114th Congress, we expect to see bills proposed with strong anti-immigrant sentiment and policies. It is important for Congress to hear from people of faith that we support the President expanding deferred action and that we stand behind policies that are pro-immigrant and support our immigrant brothers and sisters.

The following bills have been proposed in the House or the Senate.

H.R. 399 and the expected companion Senate bill, Secure Our Borders First Act of 2015, provide funding for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to further militarize the border, continue construction of fencing and other infrastructure, and increase enforcement mechanisms and personnel. This legislation requires the construction of new infrastructure, including 27 miles of additional fencing, hundreds of miles of new road construction, and increased drone surveillance — which has proven to be costly and ineffective. The legislation also enables the Department of Defense to transfer military equipment for use at the border, which is a costly, militarized response to migration, and also not proven effective. These bills allow CBP to supersede the jurisdiction of other federal agencies within 100 miles of the border, including environmental protection policies. They require the establishment of a biometric data collection system that would obtain and match biometric data at all ports of entry to anyone crossing the border in either direction — with the exception of U.S. citizens. It allows for the increased hiring of border patrol agents and provides funding for CBP to make grants to state law enforcement agencies to participate in border enforcement activities and utilize military equipment. States would be permitted to deploy National Guard troops more easily and would be reimbursed for the cost by the federal government. These bills increase CBP spending by $10 billion over the next 10 years for efforts to control migration flows when in fact, it does nothing to address the root causes of migration or meet critical humanitarian protection needs, nor does it fix our broken immigration system. In addition, these bills would give greater authority and resources to the Border Patrol, which has a record of inhumane treatment of people near the border with little to no accountability. The House bill is sponsored by Michael McCaul; co-sponsored by 23 Republican representatives. The Senate bill is sponsored by Senator Ron Johnson; co-sponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

H.R. 191 and companion S. 129 both titled, Repeal Executive Amnesty Act of 2015, are horrible bills that would narrow the protections of the U.S. immigration system.  Components of the legislation would harm immigrants and children seeking protection and those living in the United States.  Executive Action: These bills would undo DACA, DAPA, and the pieces of the Morton Memos that expand the factors considered to defer a deportation.  It stops funding of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and puts a hiring freeze on USCIS until the President rescinds his actions.  Parole:  These bills also narrow the definition of Humanitarian and Public Interest Parole and denies parolees living in the U.S. work authorization, any benefits, and the ability to adjust status. Those denied refugee status would also be ineligible for parole.  Unaccompanied Children: This would roll back protections in the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) so that children would be unsafely returned to their home country without proper screenings.  Our policies should safeguard against refoulement, (unsafe return) and turning children over to people who will traffic or exploit.  This bill also extends detention for children, targets undocumented care takers of UACs, and narrows the definition of a UAC to only children who have no family members over the age of 18 that could care for them in the United States.  Immigrants and Healthcare: These bills also limit the access to healthcare benefits through the ACA and other health programs.  Eligibility criteria would exclude lawfully present immigrants such as parolees, and would place a five-year bar for permanent residents to access to some healthcare programs.  Enforcement:  The proposed bills mandate that states and local law enforcement agencies comply with the “Secure Communities” (SCOM) program and enforce immigration laws or risk being penalized with less funding.  They also expand the definition of “undocumented criminal alien” and the detainer process. Asylum Seekers and Temporary Protection Status (TPS): These pieces of legislation deny access to government funded legal counsel to asylum seekers or anyone in deportation proceedings and puts more requirements on the credible fear interview for asylum seekers, making it more difficult to be granted protection in the United States.  Those in the United States under TPS would be at risk for removal. These bills are harmful in many ways.  HR 191 is sponsored by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL-4); co-sponsors include 24 members of congress. The similar piece of legislation in the Senate is sponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-W).

H.R. 29 — Separation of Powers Act of 2015 prohibits the use of federal funding to grant deferred action or parole to those in the United States without status except for extreme humanitarian purposes and on a case-by-case basis.  This bill also prohibits funding from any federal agency to go towards issuing work authorization or a status adjustment to an undocumented immigrant.  This bill would undo recent action taken by the President to expand DACA and introduce DAPA which gives temporary protection to undocumented immigrants living in the United States and provides legal authorization to employment.  Sponsored by Rep Ted Poe (R-TX-2) and has 23 co-sponsors.

H.R. 38 – Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act of 2015 was passed by the House on December 4, 2014 and previously introduced at H.R. 5759.  This is a destructive bill because it would prevent the executive branch from meeting its constitutional duty to prioritize enforcement of U.S. immigration law and would result in the separation of millions of families.  In addition to reversing the President’s recent executive order, H.R. 5759 would also place at risk the lives of individuals in vulnerable and complex situations that require case-by-case review, including survivors of domestic abuse and human trafficking. The bill states that only Congress has the power to “establish a uniform rule of Naturalization” and that previous actions taken by former Presidents regarding immigration were legitimate because they were done in response to foreign affairs. Though the recent action on immigration taken by the President grants a temporary stay of deportation, it is not a permanent status or a pathway to citizenship, and since 1956 every administration has utilized prosecutorial discretion to provide individuals and groups relief from deportation.  This bill undermines the Constitutional authority of the President and claims that anyone who is an undocumented immigrant should not be treated as if they have a lawful presence in the United States unless they are being tried for a crime or for humanitarian purposes.  This bill would deny any requests for work permits or stays of deportation under the executive action as well as reverse any other protections in the order.  Overturning prosecutorial discretion is extremely harmful and would continue to leave millions of undocumented immigrants in fear of deportation and at risk of being separated from their families.  Sponsored by Rep. Yoho, Ted S. [R-FL-3]; co-sponsored by 18 Representatives.

H.R.5774No Social Security Numbers and Benefits for Illegal Aliens Act of 2014 would amend the Social Security Act and prohibit access to social security benefits to undocumented immigrants eligible for DACA or DAP through the recent executive order on immigration.  This would prevent the Social Security Administration from issuing social security account numbers and any social security benefits for those eligible if their authorization to work in the United States is granted through executive order.  It denies any social security credits rightfully earned by immigrants who are legally authorized to work in the United States and who are paying into the social security system through income tax contributions. This bill is mean-spirited and unfairly denies access to benefits from a system to which undocumented immigrants are paying into.  This bill undermines the Constitutional authority of the President and shows a lack of understanding of the incredibly positive contributions immigrants are making to our country.  Sponsored by Rep. Johnson, Sam [R-TX-3].