Legislative Update: 7/25/2017 
+A A-

Legislative Update: 7/25/2017

DREAM Act Amnesty Reintroduced as Trump Administration Considers Ending DACA

By: Robert Law

Fearing legal challenges to the unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, former Gang of Eight leaders Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) recently reintroduced a new version of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2017 (DREAM Act) amnesty bill. (Fox News, July 20, 2017) The legislation, which has repeatedly been rejected by Congress and the American people since Durbin first introduced it in 2001, grants amnesty to illegal aliens who arrived in the United States unlawfully before their 18th birthday by offering work permits and a pathway to citizenship. (Washington Post, July 21, 2017)

Eligibility for the DREAM Act is similar to the requirements for DACA which President Obama unilaterally created in 2012. Specifically, the DREAM Act awards Conditional Permanent Residency status and work authorization to illegal alien applicants who have been in the country for at least four years, claim they entered the United States under the age of 18, and meet security and minimum educational/occupational requirements. (DREAM Act of 2017) An illegal alien must maintain Conditional Permanent Residency status for eight years before he or she can apply for Legal Permanent Residency (LPR) status (also known as a Green Card). (Id.) After five years, a Green Card holder may apply for citizenship. (Id.) Additionally, if passed, current DACA recipients will be immediately granted Conditional Permanent Residency status without needing to apply. (Id.)

The legislation filed on Thursday is very similar to versions of the DREAM Act introduced in previous years. The current version of the bill, however, increases the pool of eligible illegal aliens by raising the age limit for unlawful entry into the United States to 18. (DREAM Act of 2017) Previous versions of the bill only granted amnesty to those who entered the country before the age of 16. Additionally, previous versions of the bill required illegal aliens either join the military or finish two years of higher education. The current version of the bill allows illegal aliens to become LPRs by only maintaining employment and exempts full-time caregivers from all educational or employment requirements. (Id.) “We don’t believe that young people should be held responsible for the errors or the illegal actions of their parents,” Sen. Durbin told reporters Thursday. (CNS News, July 21, 2017) Unsurprisingly, Sen. Durbin failed to mention that once an amnestied illegal alien becomes an LPR as a result of the bill, the illegal alien may petition his or her parents, in addition to other immediate family members, to receive Green Cards, despite their unlawful conduct. (USCIS)

FAIR urges its members to contact their representatives and urge them to support the Rule of Law and oppose the DREAM Act or any legislation that grants amnesty to illegal aliens. “Amnesty for illegal aliens is not immigration reform. It is simply repeating the mistakes of the past. The American people have repeatedly rejected sweeping amnesties for illegal aliens, and targeted ones such as the Dream Act,” stated FAIR President Dan Stein. (FAIR Press Release, July 21, 2017) The DREAM Act only sends the message that the U.S. does not seriously intend to discourage illegal immigration. That is a perception that American voters do not support and lawmakers must reverse.

ICE Director Readies National Sanctuary Crackdown

By: RJ Hauman

Empowered by a president who has "taken the handcuffs off of law enforcement," the nation's chief immigration enforcement official revealed that his agency will devote more resources to arresting criminal aliens in sanctuary cities. (Washington Examiner, July 18, 2017) Thomas Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said in an interview that hundreds of ICE agents are set to deploy to sanctuary cities while he works to swell the agency’s ranks by 10,000. (Id.) "The president recognizes that you've got to have a true interior enforcement strategy to make it uncomfortable for [illegal aliens]," the 30-year immigration agency veteran said. (Id.Homan also noted that, in the first six months of the Trump administration, illegal border crossings have crashed by almost 70 percent, "an historic low," arrests inside the country have jumped 40 percent, and requests to detain criminal aliens in local jails have skyrocketed 80 percent. (Id.)

Homan ripped some of the most notorious sanctuary cities that do not cooperate with ICE and ignore detainer requests, including Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and San Francisco. (Id.) He called all 300-plus sanctuary cities and counties “ludicrous,” adding, “In the America I grew up in, cities didn’t shield people who violated the law.” (Id.) Homan also noted that sanctuary policies actually create more fear in immigrant communities by forcing ICE agents to hunt down fugitives at their homes or work. (Id.) "I'm going to arrest him and anybody else with him because there is no population off the table anymore,” he said. (Id.) In a recent appearance before a House Appropriations Subcommittee, Homan warned that no illegal alien is safe from deportation. (Washington Examiner, June 13, 2017) “What I want to get to is a clear understanding from everybody, from the congressmen to the politicians to law enforcement to those who enter the country illegally, that ICE is open for business. We're going to enforce the laws on the books without apology, we'll continue to prioritize what we do. But it's not OK to violate the laws of this country anymore, you're going to be held accountable," said Homan. (Id.)

House to Vote on Border Wall Funding This Week

By: RJ Hauman

This week, the House will consider a must-pass spending package that includes funding for President Trump’s border wall. (Washington Examiner, July 24, 2017) "The president campaigned across America about making sure our borders are secure," Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), said when he announced the pending vote. (Id.) "The American public has requested it." (Id.) McCarthy plans to include the $1.6 billion in funding in a group of FY 2018 spending bills combined into one measure. (Id.) Specifically, the money would fund "physical barrier construction along the southern border, including bollards and levee improvements," according to the House Appropriations Committee. (Appropriations Committee Press Release, July 11, 2017) The funding level matches President Trump's full FY 2018 request. (Id.)

While the measure is expected to pass the GOP-led House, Senate Democrats have already signaled that they will oppose any spending bill that includes funding for a border wall or increased immigration enforcement. “We are once again concerned with the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 request for a very expensive, ineffective new wall along the southern border with Mexico and new funding for the Department of Homeland Security to hire a ‘deportation force’ and increase detention beds,” wrote Senate Democratic leaders to their GOP counterparts, setting the stage for a shutdown fight this fall. (Senate Democratic Leadership Letter, June 26, 2017)

Denver Officials Bend Over Backwards to Help Illegal Aliens Avoid ICE

By: Shari Rendall

Denver district attorney’s and sheriff’s offices released criminal alien Daniel Lopez-Vera on $1,000 bond despite an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer and his previous involvement in a fatal fight in jail. (Daily Caller, July 21, 2017) Lopez-Vera was arrested on July 8 for his failure to appear to face charges in three other cases. (9News, July 18, 2017) Other previous charges leveled against 19 year-old Lopez-Vera include drunk driving, obstructing an officer, driving without a license, and auto theft. (Id.)

The decision by Denver officials not to honor ICE’s detainer request in the Lopez-Vera case is not an isolated one. The sheriff’s office also released Ever Valles even though ICE issued a detainer and considered him an immigration enforcement priority. (The Denver Post, July 19, 2017) Valles, a known gang member, was charged with possession of a weapon and theft of a vehicle among other charges. (The Denver Post, Feb. 17, 2017) In December, he was released from jail after posting a $5,000 bond. (Id.) At the time of Valles’ release, the sheriff’s department stated, they were part of “the criminal justice system and do not hold people on civil matters.” Valles was arrested again in February and is being charged with aggravated robbery and first-degree murder. (Id.)

Denver has a history shielding criminal aliens from ICE. It does not enforce immigration laws or honor ICE detainer requests to hold aliens in jail past their release dates. (The Denver Post, Jan. 30, 2017) In fact, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and the City Council are actively helping aliens avoid ICE. (NPR, July 13, 2017) They have reduced jail sentences so that aliens convicted of crimes are not flagged for deportation. (Id.) Also, in order to minimize aliens’ time in the courthouse where ICE can take them into custody, officials allow aliens to plead online to traffic offenses and to wait in a private shelter until it is time for their court appearance. (Id.)

It is unsurprising, therefore, that the Denver City Council will take the first steps on August 2 to prohibit city officials from voluntarily cooperating with federal immigration authorities when they begin to consider the Public Safety Enforcement Priorities Act. The Public Safety Enforcement Priorities Act codifies policies and practices already in effect. (The Denver Post, July 19, 2017) It will: 1) prohibit the sheriff’s department from notifying ICE when an alien wanted on a detainer is about to be released from jail; 2) prohibit the sheriff’s department from honoring detainer requests; 3) prohibit employees, including police officers, from asking about immigration status; and 4) ban the use of city money or resources to assist in immigration enforcement actions. (Id.)