During the past month, Congress has been very busy introducing multiple pieces of immigration-related legislation that could fundamentally alter the rights and protections afforded to foreign nationals while they are in the United States. It is important to stay informed on Congress’s movements on immigration and equally important for members of the community to contact their federal representatives and senators to let them know that America needs less restrictive immigration laws – not more restrictive laws.
H.R. 1149: The Protect the Children Act of 2015 (PCA)
HR 1149, the Protect Children Act of 2015, has a nice-sounding name but in reality will work to speed up the deportation of children fleeing the drug- and gang-related violence of Central American countries. Texas Republican Representative Mr. John Carter introduced the bill into the House of Representatives, and the House Judiciary Committee approved it last week.
If passed by the Senate, the PCA would remove the requirement that children fleeing noncontiguous countries be granted a hearing before an immigration judge. Instead, these children would be subject to expedited deportation and removal back to their home countries. Under the current law, children fleeing contiguous countries (such as Mexico) are already subject to expedited removal.
Additionally, the PCA would also impose additional restrictions on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). SIJS provides young foreign nationals with legal status in the U.S. if they have been abandoned by one of their parents. The PCA would require SIJS applicants to show they have been abandoned by both parents.
H.R. 1174: The Legal Workforce Act (LWA)
An outspoken immigration critic, House Republican Mr. Lamar Smith, introduced the Legal Workforce Act, which the House Judiciary Committee also approved last week. The LWA aims to completely repeal the entire paper I-9 system and replace it with a wholly electronic-based system for confirming a prospective worker’s eligibility for employment authorization in the United States.
This new E-Verify system would be mandatory for all employers, including those in the agricultural industry. This industry will particularly feel the ill effects imposed by a mandatory system, due to the combination of the temporary and seasonal nature of the industry’s employment needs, with the lengthy employment verification process caused by the E-Verify system.
The bill also sets up a method by which a person can “lock” their or their minor child’s social security number.
H.R. 1148: The Michael Davis, Jr. in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act
HR 1148 seeks to reverse what little progress the country has made in terms of immigration reform in the past few years. For example, the bill would defund many of the programs President Obama announced in his November 2014 executive orders. The bill would also effectively reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the critically important case of Arizona v. United States by empowering all state and local police forces to essentially pass and enforce their own immigration-related laws.
Foreign nationals and immigrants rights advocacy groups should not stand idly by while Congress works to both undo the country’s immigration progress and to stifle any future improvements to the nation’s broken system. Consider contacting your Congressional Representative and letting him or her know that you oppose these efforts to counteract the U.S.’s much-needed immigration reform.
Additional Blog Posts:
The Government’s War on H-1Bs, ImmigRantings, October 11, 2012
Obama Signs Immigration Executive Order, ImmigRantings, June 15, 2012
Problems with the H-1B visa: From Work Horse to Show Pony, ImmigRantings, February 13, 2012