Legislative Update: 12/20/2016
Border Surge Continues as Obama’s Presidency Dwindles
Unaccompanied alien minors (UAMs) and “family units,” primarily from Central America, are surging across the Southern border at record rates in the waning days of Barrack Obama’s presidency. New Border Patrol apprehension statistics paint an alarming picture: 15,573 family units and 7,406 UAMs were apprehended in November. (CBP Southwest Border Apprehensions) The number of UAMs apprehended is up slightly from the 6,722 in October but significantly higher than the 5,604 apprehended last November. (Id.) In fact, the November 2016 UAM apprehensions is the highest number since the surge peaked in the summer of 2014. (Id.) November’s family unit apprehensions set a record high (up from October’s 13,118 apprehensions) and is more than twice the 6,471 apprehensions from last November. (Id.)
The sustained surge in unlawful border crossings is overwhelming border patrol agents. Earlier this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it is opening a temporary holding facility near the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge (16 miles east of Hildalgo, Texas) to help handle the flow. (CBP Press Release, Dec. 7, 2016) This facility can handle about 500 people and will “remain open pending any changes in the volume of people arriving at the ports of entry or crossing the border between the ports in the South Texas area.” (Id.) In a statement, Joint Task Force-West South Texas Corridor Commander Manuel Padilla, Jr. said, “This effort is designed to minimize the impact to border security operations while fulfilling our humanitarian efforts.” (Id.)
The surge of UAMs and family units is unsurprising given the Obama administration’s refusal to secure the Southern border and unwillingness to promptly return those apprehended. Even though these individuals are willingly being smuggled across the border, the Obama administration is treating Central Americans as “trafficking victims” which triggers addition layers of process. Thus, once Central American UAMs and family units are apprehended, they receive papers setting court dates (often years in the future) and are then released into the U.S. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Sept. 20, 2016) The illegal aliens refer to these “notices to appear” as “permisos” (permission to stay) and predictably over 80 percent fail to show up for their hearings. (Id.) Additionally, an activist judge ruled in 2015 that family units cannot be detained prior to their hearings—a ruling that has directly correlated to the rise in “family units” appearing at the border. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Aug. 4, 2015) Despite the obvious connection between Obama policies and the surge of UAMs and family units, the administration continues to blame violence in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala as the sole cause for the illegal migration. (See Washington Times, Dec. 15, 2016)
Unsurprisingly, the UAM crisis is costing taxpayers millions of dollars that could have been used elsewhere if the Obama administration had control of the border. Through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on behalf of FAIR, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) discovered that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has spent over $100 million over the past few years transporting UAMs across the country. (Washington Times, Dec. 11, 2016) The data showed that ICE spent approximately $665 per UAM during the initial 2014 surge just in airline expenses transferring the minors between agencies, delivering to family in the interior, and rarely returning to the home country. (Id.) IRLI’s Executive Director Dale Wilcox described this waste of taxpayer dollars as “insult to injury on a massive scale.” (Id.) “We fought for nearly two years to get this data,” Wilcox said. (Id.) “Now we see why the administration has been less than forthcoming and why they’ve repeatedly tried to blame the costly… surge on Central American crime rather than its own amnesty policies.” (Id.)
Displaced Tech Workers Sue Disney Again
Thirty American information technology workers who were replaced by foreign workers on H-1B visas filed suit against their former employer, Walt Disney World. (Orlando Sentinel, Dec. 13, 2016) The lawsuit alleges discrimination on the basis of race and national origin since all the H-1Bs that replaced the U.S. workers are from India. (Id.)
At the beginning of 2015, Disney dismissed nearly 250 workers and replaced them with foreign workers from outsourcing companies. (Id.) Adding insult to injury, Disney also required the displaced American workers to train their replacements as a condition of receiving severance pay. (Id.) Leo Perrero and Dena Moore, two of the displaced Disney workers, sued Disney earlier this year alleging that their displacement violated the RICO Act (racketeering) by colluding with the outsourcing company, HCL, to replace American workers with cheap foreign labor. (See FAIR Legislative Update, May, 24, 2016) But in October, U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell dismissed the suit, ruling that HCL did not make false statements on its applications that HCL workers would not be adversely impacted. (Orlando Sentinel, Oct. 14, 2016) Perrero and Moore are part of the new lawsuit brought against Disney.
Disney vows to fight this case vigorously. “Like the two other dismissed cases brought by this lawyer, this latest lawsuit is nonsense and we will defend it vigorously,” Disney said in a statement. (Orlando Sentinel, Dec. 13, 2016) While it is unclear how the court will rule in this current action, this case is the latest example highlighting the flaws in the H-1B law. Congress created the H-1B visa program in 1990 to allow U.S. employers to hire foreign workers, purported on a “temporary” basis, for “specialty occupations.” The visa is most commonly associated with “high-skilled” jobs in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. (Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) § 101(a)(H)(15)) The law was written to appear to provide protections for American workers by requiring companies to pay H-1B workers the “prevailing wage” for their job and not adversely affect the working conditions of American workers “similarly employed.” (See FAIR Legislative Update, Sept. 15, 2015)
Stay tuned to FAIR as details emerge…
Trump’s ‘Contract with the American Voter’ Contains Key Immigration Promises
Near the end of his successful campaign, President-elect Donald J. Trump unveiled a “Contract with the American Voter” – a plan for his first 100 days in office. The plan, which contains numerous immigration-related measures, is meant to “restore honesty and accountability, and bring change to Washington.” (Trump Press Release, Oct. 22, 2016) These relevant immigration-related measures are highlighted below.
On the first day of his term in office, the Trump administration will immediately take actions to protect American workers, including:
- Announce the administration’s intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205;
- Announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership; and
- Direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately.
Additionally, on the first day, the Trump administration will take the following actions to restore security and the constitutional rule of law, including:
- Cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama;
- Cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities;
- Begin removing the more than 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back; and
- Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into the country will be considered extreme vetting.
Along with the aforementioned executive actions, the Trump administration intends to work with Congress to introduce broader legislative measures and fight for their passage within the first 100 days, including the “End Illegal Immigration Act.” This yet to be drafted piece of legislation would:
- Fully-fund the construction of a wall on the southern border with the full understanding that Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall;
- Establish a 2-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a 5-year mandatory minimum for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions or two or more prior deportations; and
- Reform visa rules to enhance penalties for overstaying and to ensure open jobs are offered to American workers first.
FAIR looks forward to working with the incoming administration and Congress to ensure that the President-elect’s pledges to enforce our immigration laws and protect American workers are successfully implemented.
California Democrats Introduce Legislation to Undermine Immigration Enforcement
Legislators in the California State Assembly and State Senate began the 2017-2018 legislative session by introducing a package of bills prioritizing the interests of illegal aliens over its lawful residents. (Senate President Pro Tempore Press Release, Dec. 5, 2016) Democrats in both chambers introduced measures to thwart immigration enforcement under the upcoming Trump administration. (Id.)
First, State Senator Ben Hueso (D-40) introduced Senate Bill 6 (S.B. 6) to provide taxpayer-funded legal representation to illegal aliens, despite a federal law prohibiting the expenditure of government money on legal representation for aliens in immigration matters. (8 U.S.C. 1229a(b)(4); 8 U.S.C. 1362) Notably, S.B. 6 provides illegal aliens with free legal representation for civil proceedings, something that is not provided to U.S. citizens who face civil legal issues, such as foreclosures, evictions proceedings, child custody cases, or divorce proceedings. (S.B. 6) Aliens that wish to be represented by legal counsel are free to do so, but federal law stipulates that it must be at no cost to the government. (8 U.S.C. 1229a(b)(4); 8 U.S.C. 1362)
Additionally, Assembly Member Robert Bonta (D-18) introduced Assembly Bill 3 (A.B. 3), which creates training centers offering training programs for public defenders on immigration issues. A.B. 3 will provide taxpayer funded legal training, written materials, mentoring, and technical assistance for public defenders on issues relating to immigration consequences of criminal convictions. (A.B. 3) Together, S.B. 6 and A.B. 3 are estimated to cost taxpayers up to $80 million dollars to implement. (Los Angeles Times, Dec. 6, 2016)
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, (D-24) also announced legislation to strengthen California’s sanctuary policies by banning state and local law enforcement from using any resources for the purposes of immigration enforcement. (Sacramento Bee, Dec. 7, 2016) Senate Bill 54 also repeals existing California law that requires law enforcement to notify federal immigration officials if there is reason to believe a person arrested for a controlled substance violation is not a U.S. citizen.
State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-33) also announced his plans to introduce legislation to combat President-elect Trump’s immigration proposals. (Los Angeles Times, Dec. 19, 2016) Senator Lara included a proposal to require state voter approval of any additional border fence projects on the state’s Mexico border.
Lastly, the two chambers passed identical resolutions, House Resolution 4 and Senate Resolution 7, urging President-elect Trump to avoid deportation of illegal aliens and maintain President Obama’s unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA provides illegal aliens with a temporary deferment of deportation and work authorization if they show that they entered the United States before the age of sixteen, as well as other requirements.
Currently, California has the largest illegal alien population in the country, estimated to be over 3 million. California is one of just two states to have a state-wide sanctuary policy shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement. FAIR estimates California taxpayers already spend at least $25.3 billion annually on costs related to illegal immigration. (FAIR Cost Study, 2014)