Given the opposition of the former Judiciary Committee chair, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), who had blocked a similar bill in 2011, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 (S. 386) had been given little chance of passage until this week, when a deal was reached with the bill’s sponsor, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), to
In a 5-4 decision issued on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, the US Supreme Court upheld the president’s broad statutory authority to suspend the issuance of visas to nationals of certain countries in the interests of national security. Finding the September 24, 2017, Proclamation 9645 (“Proclamation”) to be neutral on its face, the Court rejected the arguments of the State of Hawaii that the ban was a thinly veiled attempt to ban Muslims from the United States in violation of the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”).
“By its plain language, [the INA] grants the president broad discretion to suspend the entry of aliens into the United States,” the majority opinion, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, states. “The president lawfully exercised that discretion based on his findings—following a worldwide, multiagency review—that entry of the covered aliens would be detrimental to the national interest. And plaintiffs’ attempts to identify a conflict with other provisions in the INA, and their appeal to the statute’s purposes and legislative history, fail to overcome the clear statutory language.”
On Tuesday, June 19, 2018, President Donald Trump told House Republicans to send him a compromise immigration bill to address border security and other key issues. Within less than 24 hours, in a move designed to stave off the continued public outcry over the separation of children from migrant parents detained at the southern border, on June 20 the president signed an executive order, “Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation.” The executive order states that officials will continue to prosecute everyone who crosses the border illegally but will find or build facilities to hold families together while the parents’ cases are considered by the courts.
Zero Tolerance Policy Reiterated
The president indicated the border will be “just as tough,” with borders “very strong,” but families will no longer be separated. In a news conference where he was flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, President Trump indicated, “We are keeping a very powerful border and it continues to be a zero tolerance.” The executive order similarly reiterates the administration’s hard-line policy to detain any adults entering the country illegally, a policy that, according to statistics released on June 19, has led to the separation of more than 2,300 children from their parents. As stated in the order:
In a recent analysis of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)—the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) system used to monitor academic students (F-1), vocational students (M-1) and exchange visitors (J-1)—DHS determined that of the nearly 1.5 million students and exchange who were either expected to change status or depart the United States in FY 2016 there was an estimated overstay rate of 6.19% for F-1s, 11.60% for M-1s and 3.80 % for J-1s. These figures were included in a report to Congress along with overstay data for other nonimmigrant categories and a game plan for reducing these figures, the centerpiece of which is a new biometric exit verification capability to be implemented by US Customs & Border Protection (CBP).
Last week, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) took another step in the overall DHS effort to reduce the rate of overstays with a focus on the student and exchange visitor populations. By memorandum dated May 10, 2018, USCIS announced a change, effective August 9, 2018, in the way it will calculate periods of unlawful presence in the United States for students and exchange visitors who remain beyond completion of their academic/training program or otherwise violate the terms of their status. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a foreign national who remains six months or one year beyond his or her authorized period of stay faces a bar to reentry of three or ten years, respectively, following departure from the United States. The issue of calculating unlawful presence for students and exchange visitors arises because foreign students and exchange visitors have historically been admitted, not until a date certain, but for the duration of their academic or training programs, designated on the Form I-94 (arrival/departure record) as duration of status or “D/S.”
On Wednesday, April 25, 2018, the US Supreme Court will hear argument in Trump v. Hawaii. Mayer Brown’s Legal Update provides background on this challenge to the third in a series of travel bans issued by President Trump and summarizes the questions before the Court in this final oral argument of its current term.
The demand for H-1B (specialty occupation) visas normally exceeds the annual 85,000 visa cap by two to three times, thus triggering a random lottery for the available visas. Existing United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations prohibit the filing of multiple H-1B visa petitions that are subject to the annual cap for the same individual by an employer or a “related entity,” unless the related entity filing is justified by a legitimate business need. The purpose of the regulation is to prevent employers from trying to increase their chances of winning the H-1B cap lottery by submitting multiple petitions for the same individual for substantially the same position. The penalty for violation of the regulation is denial or revocation of all petitions for the common beneficiary.
DACA CONTINUES AT LEAST TEMPORARILY
On Monday, February 26, 2018, the US Supreme Court declined to consider the government’s request to review a preliminary injunction issued last month by a federal court in California. On January 9, 2018, Judge William Alsup of the US District Court for the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction temporarily reinstating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Judge Alsup’s temporary order in Regents of the University of California, et al. v. Department of Homeland Security, et al. requires US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to accept DACA renewal applications. On January 13, 2018, USCIS announced its process for accepting renewal applications. In a petition filed by the Justice Department on January 18, 2018, the government asked the Supreme Court to take the unusual step of bypassing the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and reviewing Judge Alsup’s injunction directly. The Supreme Court declined, thus leaving the lower court’s order in place.…
As Congress wrestles with another government funding deadline of February 8, 2018, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Christopher Coons (D-DE) have announced their intent to introduce a bill to provide permanent relief for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. The bill, which is expected to mirror a measure introduced last month in the House by Congressmen Will Hurd (R-TX) and Pete Aguilar (D-CA), would provide permanent residence and a path to ultimate citizenship for beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program terminated last September by President Trump. DACA is scheduled to end on March 5, 2018.
The House bill, Uniting and Securing America Act (USA Act), has 54 co-sponsors evenly split between party lines. The bipartisan bill would create a renewable eight-year conditional permanent resident status that would allow DACA recipients (a/k/a DREAMers) to be protected from deportation; work legally in the United States; travel outside the country; and apply to be lawful permanent residents (green card holders) if they meet certain requirements. In view of the expected parity with the House bill, the summary below is based on the USA Act’s provisions.…