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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Last Updated on Monday, February 6, 2012 at 12:01 am EST

 
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President Obama Fields a Question About the H-1B Visa Program During the First-Ever Presidential Google+ Hangout


By Micheal E. Hill

Tuesday, January 31, 2012  -- 7:30 am EST





President Barack Obama fielded only one immigration-related yesterday question during the first-ever Presidential Google+ Hangout: a question about the H-1B visa program.

The question, posed by Jennifer Hedel, a mother of two from Fort Worth, Texas, who is married to an unemployed semiconducter engineer, asked the President why the federal government continues to admit people seeking to enter the United States on H-1B visas when so many qualified Americans are out of work and are not being hired. 


Click on the play button, above, to view a video clip of the President's response to the Google+ Hangout question on H-1B visas.

 

Markup of VAWA Immigration Provisions and Possible Action on the Immigration Provisions in the Payroll Tax Cut Extension Bill Highlight this Week's Immigration and Refugee Activity


By Micheal E. Hill
Monday, January 29, 2012 -- 12:01 am EST
--Original Version Posted on Saturday, January 28, 2012  at 3:50 am EST--

A Senate Judiciary Committee markup of the Violence Against Women Act Amendments of 2011, the introduced version of which contains a number of immigration-related provisions, and possible conference committee action on the payroll tax cut extension bill highlight this week's immigration- and refugee-related legislative action on Capitol Hill.


The Coming Week's On-the-Hill Activity
This week's on-the-Hill actvity includes one hearing, one markup, no House or Senate floor ation, and one possible conference committee action.

The following lists the highlights of the coming week's anticipated immigration- and refugee-related legislative-related action:
  • Senate Judiciary Committee Markup of Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Bill. The Senate Committee on the Judiciary has scheduled a markup for this week of S. 1925, the "Violence Against Women Reauthorizaion Act of 2011".  The measure contains among its many provisions a number of sections intended to enhance protections for aliens who are the victim of domestic violence.  
  • Immigration Provisions of the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Bill.  House and Senate conferees are scheduled this week to meet in an effort to iron out differences between the House-passed and the Senate-passed versions of H.R. 3630, the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011. The most significant immigration-related difference between the two bills is a provision contained in the House-passed version of the bill that was stripped from the Senate-passed version of the measure.  The provision, found in Section 5201 of the House-passed version of the measure, would pay for the cost of the payroll tas cut, in part, by requiring that at least one parent have a Social Security Number to qualify for either the refundable (Child Tax Credit) or nonrefundable (Additional Child Tax Credit) version of the child care tax credit, even if the children who are receiving the child care are U.S. citizens.  It has been estimated that the provision would result in the loss of $9.4 BILLION in tax credits to low-income immigrant families over the next ten years.  There is no comparable version of the provision in the Senate-passed version of the measure.
  • Hearing on the Homeland Security Threat.  A House Homeland Security panel is holding a hearing this week titled, "Is DHS [Department of Homeland Security] Effectively Implementing a Strategy to Counter Emerging Threats?"  The witness list for the hearing includes Paul Schneider, Principal, Chertoff Group; Shawn Reese, Analyst in Emergency Management and Homeland Security Policy, Congressional Research Service; David Maurer, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Team, Government Accountability Office; and Alan Cohn, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, Office of Strategic Plans, DHS Policy Office..

This Week's "Off-of-the-Hill" Activity
In addition to the schedule of immigration-related action taking place this week on Capitol Hill, a number of significant "off of the Hill" immigration-related activities also could occur.

The following lists several highlights of this week's "off-of-the-Hill" immigration- and refugee-related legislative-related action:
  • Panel Presentation on ICE Detention Reform. Arnold & Porter is hosting a panel presentation this week on conditions of confinement, access to legal counsel, alternatives to detention/incarceration, barriers to release, and use of discretion in decisions to detain/incarcerate aliens.  Participants will include Samuel M. Witten, Counsel, Arnold & Porter, and former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration (2007 – 2010); Steve J. Martin, Attorney, corrections consultant, and former General Counsel of the Texas prison system; Laura Sullivan, Correspondent and Investigative Reporter for National Public Radio; Gary Mead, Executive Associate Director for Enforcement and Removal Operations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and Ruthie Epstein, Researcher & Advocate, Refugee Protection Program, Human Rights First.
  • Secretary Napolitano Address on the State of America's Homeland Security. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is scheduled this week to give an address on the State of America's Homeland Security.
  • Telephonic Press Conference on Latino Voters in Western States.  Colorado College has scheduled a news conference call this week to release a poll on Latino voters in western states.  Participants will include Lori Weigel, Public Opinion Strategies; Dave Metz, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates; Walt Hecox, Professor of Economics, Colorado College; Sandy Close, Executive Editor and Director, New America Media; and Maite Arce, CEO, Hispanic Access Foundation.
  • Panel Presentation on the Need for High-Skilled Immigrants. The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) has scheduled a discussion for this week titled, "Competing for Talent: The United States and High-Skilled Immigration."  Participants will include Barry Chiswick of George Washington University; Gordon Hanson of the University of California at San Diego; and Kevin Hassett of AEI.


See a Detailed Listing of the Likely Immigration Actions For the Week of January 30, 2012

 

Immigration Makes a Big Appearance on the Weekend's
Sunday Public Affairs Programs



By Micheal E. Hill

Sunday, January 29, 2012  -- 3:45 pm EDT
--Updated on Sunday, January 29, 2012  at 7:00 pm EST--



After months of absence from the Sunday public affairs programs, the subject of immigration returned to the programs on Sunday, January 29, with former Secretary of Commerce under President George W. Bush Carlos Gutierrez and Los Angleles Mayor Antonio Villaragaiso participating in an animated discussion about U.S. immigration policy and the value of immigration to the United States and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) mounting a virgorous defense of Governor Jan Brewer's (R-AZ) critcisms of President Barack Obama's immigration enforcement record.  Also commenting on immigration during the week's programs were Democratic National Committee Chair Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Fox News Political Analyst Juan Williams, and NBC White House Correspondent and Political Director Chuck Todd.

The following is a summary of the immigration-related comments made on the January 29 Sunday public affairs programs:
  • CBS - Face the Nation.  The guest list for the January 29, 2012, edition of CBS's "Face the Nation" program included Representative Debbie Wasserman-Shultz (D-FL), Chair of the Democratic National Committee, who commented on whether adding Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) to the ticket as the 2012 Republican vice-presidential nominee would improve former Governor Mitt Romney's prospects for beating President Obama in the 2012 general election.  
  • CNN - State of the Union. The guest list for the January 29, 2012, edition of CNN's "State of the Union" program included Carlos Gutirrez, Secretary of Commerce under President George W. Bush, and Antonio Villaragaiso, Mayor of Los Angeles, California, who participated in an extended discussion on U.S. immigration policy, Latino voters, and the impact that both may have on the upcoming 2012 elections.
  • FOX - FOX News Sunday.  The guest list for the January 29, 2012, edition of FOX's "FOX News Sunday" program included Juan Williams, Fox News Political Analyst, who commented on the controversy over Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's confrontation with President Obama over her characterization of his attitude about immigration during a meeting the two of them had in 2011.
  • NBC - Meet the Press.  The guest list for the January 29, 2012, edition of NBC's "Meet the Press" program inluded Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who expressed criticsms of President Obama's immigration enforcement record.  Appearing during the roundtable segment of NBC's "Meet the Press" program was Chuck Todd, NBC White House Correspondent and Political Director, who speculated on how former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's position on immigration may be used against him in the upcoming Arizona Republican presidential primary.

Click on the play button, above, to view video clips of the immigration discussions that took place during the  January 29, 2012, Sunday Public Affairs Programs.


 

Discussions on the Subject of Immigration Highly Likely During This Weekend's Sunday Public Affairs Programs


By Micheal E. Hill

Friday, January 27, 2012  -- 11:28 am EST
--Updated on Sunday, January 29, 2012, at 10:45 am EST--


 

The subject of immigration is almost certain to come up during this week's Sunday public affairs programs, as several of them are scheduled to include among their guests former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaragaiso.


The following is a guide to what can be expected on this weekend's public affairs programs:
  • ABC - This Week.  The guest list for the January 29, 2012 edition of ABC's "This Week" program includes Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA), who is a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.  Appearing during the roundtable segment of the program will be ABC's George Will, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, former Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, and radio host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham.  Given the lineup of guests, it is almost certain that the subject of immigration will be discussed on the program.
  • CBS - Face the Nation.  The guest list for the January 29, 2012, edition of CBS's "Face the Nation" program includes Representative Debbie Wasserman-Shultz (D-FL), Chair of the Democratic National Committee; and Reince Preibus, Chair of the Republican National Committee.  Also appearing on the program will be Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN), a former candidate for president; businessman Donald Trump; Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL); Representative Alan West (R-FL); and humorist Dave Barry.  Appearing during the roundtable segment of the program will be The Miami Herarld's Marc Caputo, Real Clear Politics' Scott Conroy, and CBS News' John Dickerson.  Given the lineup of guests, it is highly likely that the subject of immigration will be discussed during the program.
  • CNN - State of the Union. The guest list for the January 29, 2012, edition of CNN's "State of the Union" program includes Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination; Florida Governor Rick Scott (R-FL), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).  Also appearing on the program this week will be Carlos Gutirrez, Secretary of Commerce under President George W. Bush; and Antonio Villaragaiso, Mayor of Los Angeles, California.  Given the lineup of guests, it is highly likely that the subject of immigration will be discussed during the program.
  • FOX - FOX News Sunday.  The guest list for the January 29, 2012, edition of FOX's "FOX News Sunday" will include former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA), who is a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI).  Appearing during the roundtable segment of the program will be Brit Hume, Fox News Senior Political Analyst; AB Stoddard of The Hill; Paul Gigot of The Wall Street Journal and Fox News Channel's “Journal Editorial Report”; and Juan Williams, Fox News Political Analyst.  Given the lineup of guests, it is almost ceratin that the subject of immigration will be discussed on the program.
  • NBC - Meet the Press.  Among the guests on the January 29, 2012, edition of NBC's "Meet the Press" program will be Senator John McCain (R-AZ), the 2008 Republican nominee for president, who is appearing as a surrogate for 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney; and former Senator Fred Thompson (R-KY), a candidate for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination who is appearing as a surrogate for Newt Gingrich.  Also appearing on the program this week will be former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination; and David Axelrod, a strategist for President Barack Obama's 2012 reelection campaign.  Appearing during the roundtable segment of the program will be MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida; Chuck Todd, NBC White House Correspondent and Political Director; and presidential historian Doris Kearnes Goodwin.  Given the lineup of guests, it is likely that the subject of immigration will be discussed on the program.

Check Back with MicEvHill.Com late on Sunday afternoon for video clips of any immigration-related discussions that appear on the programs

 

The Four Remaining Candidates Engage in Sharp Exchanges Over Immigration During Florida GOP Presidential Candidates Debate


By Micheal E. Hill

Friday, January 27, 2012  -- 2:13 am EST






Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) engaged in two sharp exchanges over the issue of immigration on Thursday, January 26, during the final Presidential candidates debate that will be held before the crucial 2012 Florida Presidential primary.

The former House speaker ridiculed the notion, advanced by Governor Romney, that illegal immigrants will "self-deport" themselves; accused Governor Romney of wanting to deport grandmothers and grandathers from their families; and characterized the Governor as the most anti-immigrant candidate on the debate stage.  Speaker Gingrich's characterizations prompted outrage from Governor Romney, who denied the charges, calling them repulsive; mounted a long and detailed defense of himself as being in favor of expanding legal immigration but also in favor of the rule of law; countercharged that Speaker Gingrich was engaging in "over the top rhetoric"; and accused the former Speaker of labeling him with "highly charged epithets."


The exchange occurred on Thursday, January 26, 2012, during a GOP presidenital candidates debate that was sponsored by CNN, the Republican Party of Florida, and the Hispanic Leadership Network.  It was held in Jacksonville, Florida.


Click on the "Play" button, above, to see an extended video excerpt of the exchange on immigration between former Speaker Gingrich, former Governor Romney, and the two other candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

 

Gingrich and Romney Conduct Dueling Interviews that Touch Heavily on Immigration in Separate Florida Campaign Appearances


By Micheal E. Hill

Thursday, January 26, 2012  -- 8:38 am EST

--Updated on Thursday, January 26, 2012, at 12:10 pm EST--







Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) sat for separate interviews with Univision's Jorge Ramos on January 25, both of which touched heavily on the subject of immigration. 

In his interview, Speaker Gingrich aggressively ridiculed Governor Romney's positions on immigration, saying that Governor Romney is anti-immigrant, calling the Governor's support for "self-deportation" of illegal immigrants currently living in the United States a "fantasy", and asserting that the Governor's positions on immigration lacked humanity.  Under sharp questioning by Ramos and by students in the audience, Speaker Gingrich repeated his previously articulated position on the DREAM Act, saying he would support legaliziation for DREAM Act children who went into the military but that he did not support legalization for them otherwise.  Gingrich also defended his postition in favor of legalizing "grandmothers" and others who have been in the United States for 25 years or more and defended his position that English should be the official language of the United States.

Under less sharp questioning, Governor Romney called Speaker Gingrich's remarks "sad" and accused Gingrich of "pandering to the audience."  The governor defended his position that illegal immigrants in the United States would "self-deport" themselves when stronger enforcement of our immigration laws resulted in them not being able to get jobs in the United States.  He also defended his opposition to the DREAM Act.  But in doing so, he associated himself with the position of Speaker Gingrich, saying that he, too, could support a DREAM Act that targeted its benefits on children who joined the military.  Governor Romney asserted that he strongly supports immigrants and legal immigration.  He warned, however, that increasing illegal immigration threatened to reduce support in the United States for legal immigration.

The two interviews were conducted on Wednesday, January 25, 2012, as part of a Presidential candidate forum sponsored by Univision and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  It was held at the Miami Dade Community College in Miami, Florida, in advance of the Florida Republican Presidential primary.


Click on the "Play" buttons, above, to see video of the complete Univision interviews with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.


 

President Obama Expresses Support for the DREAM Act and High-Skilled Foreign-Born Graduates During his Third
State of the Union Address


By Micheal E. Hill

Tuesday, January 24, 2012  -- 10:45 pm EST

--Updated on Thursday, January 26, 2012, at 8:30 am EST--





In the only reference to immigration that he made during his 2012 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama couched his remarks on immigration in the context of children, the DREAM Act, high-skilled students from abroad who graduate from United States universities, and his immigration enforcement policies, urging Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation but, if it cannot get that done, to send him the DREAM Act so he can sign it into law.

In his January 24 State of the Union remarks, President Obama said of his immigration policy, "Let’s also remember that hundreds of thousands of talented, hardworking students in this country face another challenge: The fact that they aren’t yet American citizens. Many were brought here as small children, are American through and through, yet they live every day with the threat of deportation.  Others came more recently, to study business and science and engineering, but as soon as they get their degree, we send them home to invent new products and create new jobs somewhere else."  Continuing, the President said, "That doesn’t make sense.  I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration. That’s why my Administration has put more boots on the border than ever before. That’s why there are fewer illegal crossings than when I took office.  The opponents of action are out of excuses. We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now.  But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away."

The President's remarks, delivered on January 24 during a joint meeting of Congress, was his third State of the Union Address.  However, it was the fifth time that he has addressed a joint meeting of Congress since he was sworn into office in January of 2009.  Counting his 2012 appearance, he now has referenced immigration in four of those five appearances.

Many have noted that the President's remarks on immigration during his 2012 State of the Union Address were remarkably similar to the remarks he made on the subject during his 2011 State of the Union Address.  But or those who measure a President's commitment to an issue by the length of his or remarks during the State of the Union Address, the President's Third State of the Union Address contained 195 words devoted to immigration.  His second State of the Union Address contained 144 words that were devoted to immigration.  By contrast, his first State of the Union Address contained 37 words on immigration.

In reaction to the immigration-related comments in the President's State of the Union Address, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) ignored the President's expression of support for the DREAM Act and for comprehensive immigration reform.  Instead, he concentrated on his comments in support of legislation that would permit high-skilled foreign-born graduates of U.S. universities to remain in the United States once they have graduated.  "It is part of our jobs creating agenda," said Cantor.  Referring to our immigration laws as being "antiquated", Cantor said, "I was glad to hear the President talk about that, and he even referenced the fact that the kind of immigration reform that he would like to see may not make it through the proess but at least we can do some things that we agree upon.  That's one of them."


Click on the "Play" button, above, to see a video excerpt of the immigration-related remarks made by President Obama during his January 24, 2012, State of the Union Address.


Click Here to see a Transcript of President Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address


 

Advocates Look for Signal of President Obama's Election Year Posture on Immigation from Tonight's State of the Union Address


By Micheal E. Hill
Tuesday, January 24, 2011  -- 4:05 pm EST


Immigration advocates on all sides of the immigration issue will be watching closely to see if and how President Barack Obama includes any references to immigration tonight when he delivers his third State of the Union Address.  Most pro-immigrant advocates expect that he will tread no new ground on the issue, if he mentions it at all.  The address is scheduled for 9:00 pm EST on Tuesday, January 25, 2011.

Last year, President Obama expressed explicit support for comprehensive immigration reform and implicit support for enactment of the DREAM Act during what was his second State of the Union Address, which he delivered on January 25, 2011.  While that appearance was only his second official State of the Union Address, it actually was his fourth time addressing a joint meeting of Congress since he was sworn into office in January of 2009.  He referenced immigration in three of those four appearances.

2011 State of the Union Address
In his 2011 State of the Union remarks, President Obama said, "I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration.  I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws, and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows."  The President went on to say, "I know that debate will be difficult and take time.  But tonight, let's agree to make that effort."

In his 2011 State of the Union remarks, President Obama said, "I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration.  I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws, and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows."  The President went on to say, "I know that debate will be difficult and take time.  But tonight, let's agree to make that effort."  In an apparent reference to the DREAM Act, the President went on to say, "Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens.  Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents.  They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation."  He concluded his immigration-related remarks with a reference to the DREAM Act, as well, adding, "let's stop expelling talented, responsible youg people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation."

Reaction in Congress to last year's immigration-related State of the Union remarks fell along predictable lines.  Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force Chairman Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) was pleased with President Obama's comments, saying of the President, "I know he sees immigration as a key building block for our economic success and an asset in our international competitiveness, so I am glad it was a part of the speech.  It is no secret that I am always pushing him to do more to address the issue, but by including immigration in the speech, it makes it clear that the President knows it is an issue that can be ignored or a problem that will resolve itself without his consistent and persistent attention.  However, the President's remarks were criticized by immigration hardliners in Congress.  House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) said of the President's remarks, "[w]hile more than 14 million Americans are desperately looking for work, seven million illegal immigrants have jobs in the U.S.  The President should put American workers first and enforce immigration laws to make scarce jobs available for those legally authorized to work in the U.S."  The Chairman went on to say, "it's hard for him to talk about creating jobs and then endorse illegal workers keeping their jobs at the expense of American workers."

Immigration Mentions in Obama's Previous Appearances Before Joint Meetings of Congress
While his first appearance before a joint meeting of Congress was not officially called a State of the Union Address, President Obama first addressed a
joint meeting of Congress just one month after assuming office.  In that address, which he delivered on February 24, 2009, Obama spoke to Congress and the nation about the state of the economy and the need for Congress to enact economic recovery legislation. He made no mention of or reference to immigration during that address.

President Obama devoted just 37 words to the subject of immigration during his
first official State of the Union Address, which he delivered to a joint meeting of Congress on January 27, 2010. In his only mention of the subject during that address, Obama promoted comprehensive immigration reform, delicately balancing both enforcement and legalization, saying, “we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system -– to secure our borders and enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation.”

In what turned out to be the most controversial reference to the subject of immigration that President Obama has made during his presidency so far, he made a brief mention of the subject during a September 9, 2009,
address on health care reform to a joint meeting of Congress. In that address, the President said, “[t]here are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms -- the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.” After being interrupted from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC), who shouted “You Lie” from the House floor, President Obama responded, “It's not true.” The President’s remarks on health care and illegal immigrants, the interruption of his remarks by Representative Joe Wilson, and the ensuing controversy proved to have a significant impact. Following the speech, the Obama Administration hardened its position on health care and illegal immigrants, declaring its support for barring illegal immigrants from using even their own funds to purchase health insurance products listed on the health insurance exchanges that the bill would create. The Administration’s position angered Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the pro-immigrant advocacy community.

Matrix for Measurement
For those who measure a President's commitment to an issue by the length of his or remarks during the State of the Union address, President Obama's second State of the Union speech in 2011 contained 144 words that were devoted to immigration.  By contrast, his first State of the Union address contained just 37 words on immigration.

Check this space later tonight for video of any immigration mentions at tonight's State of the Union Address

 

The 112th Congress Returns to an Uncertain Immigration-
and Refugee-Related Legislative Agenda


By Micheal E. Hill
Monday, January 23, 2012 -- 8:58 am EST
--Updated on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, at 8:35 pm EST--

The Senate and U.S. House of Representatives have returned to Washington for the Second Session of the 112th Congress, facing an uncertain immigration- and refugee-related agenda
.

The following lists some of the major unfinished immigration- and refugee-related matters that are pending or that Congress is expected to address as the Second Session of the 112th Congress gets underway:
  • Oversight Hearings on Immigration and Refugee Operations. The House Judiciary Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee, in particular, are expected to continue to hold aggressive and vigorous oversight hearings on immigration and refugee matters during the Second Session of the 112th Congress.  The House Committee on the Judiciary is expected to hold a hearing in March on the U.S. refugee admissions and asylum programs. The Committee also is expected during the year to hold hearings that focus on what the majority believes is the Obama Administration's lax enforcement of the nation's immigration laws and on what it contends is the Administration's efforts to grant "amnesty" by administrative action.
  • Expiring Provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Four popular provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act are set to expire on September 30, 2012, unless Congress enacts legislation to extend them before that date.  The four provisions are the controversial E-Verify Program, the EB-5 Investor Visas Regional Centers Program, the Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker Visa Program, and the Conrad 30 State J-1 Visa Program. Congress last extended the authority of these programs in October of 2009, when President Obama signed P.L. 111-83, the Fiscal Year 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations Act, into law.
At the time of this writing, no timetable had yet been revealed for when Congress will begin to move legislation to reauthorize any of the four programs.
  • FY '13 Spending Bills for the Federal Government's Immigration- and Federal Refugee-Related Agencies and Functions. President Obama is scheduled to submit his fiscal year 2013 budget to Congress on February 13, 2012, an act that will kick off the fiscal year 2013 budget and appropriations process.  Four of the 12 regular appropriations bills fund the bulk of the federal governent's immigration enforcement-, immigration services-, border security-, refugee admissions-, and overseas refugee assistance-related functions and agencies.  The agencies and functions funded by all four bills face both the spectre of deep across-the-board cuts, owing to the sequestrations that are mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011, as well as the possibility of deep cuts through the regular appropriations process. 

    It is not possible at the time of this writing to predict whether this year's budget and appropriations process will mark a continuation of the appropriations dysfunctionality of the last several years or whether the House and Senate will actually consider appropriations bills in an orderly and timely process.  However, given that 2012 is an election year in which one-third of the U.S. Senate, all of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the presidency of the United States is at stake, most insiders predict a continuation of the dysfuncitionality that has gripped the process over the last several years.

    If the House and Senate do take up appropriations bills this year, not only will the chambers face questions of how much to spend on the federal government's immigration- and refugee-related functions, they also will likely face numerous immigration- and refugee-related policy questions in the form of policy riders and limitation provisions.  Additionally, the bills could become the vehciles for extending expiring programs.
Congress must act before October 1, 2012, to appropriate fiscal year 2013 for the federal goverment's immigration- and refugee-related agencies and functions in order to prevent a shutdown of those agencies and operations.
  • SSI Eligibility for Refugees. On October 17, 2011, the Senate passed S. 1721, the SSI Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act of 2011.   As passed by the Senate, S. 1721 would amend the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconcilation Act of 1996 (PROWRA) to extend through fiscal year 2012 the eligibility period for benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program) for refugees who otherwise have expended their eligibility for the program.

    The bill would pay for the extension of refugee eligibility for the SSI program by amending the Immigration and Nationality Act to establish a diversity immigrant vis petition fee of $30, which would be required to be deposited directly in the general fund of the treasury.  It would apply such fees only to petitions filed before October 1, 2013.
At the time of this writing, the House had not acted on S. 1721 or any cno timetable had yet been revealed for when Congress will begin to move legislation to reauthorize any of the four programs.
  • Per-Country Limits for Employment- and Family-Based Immigrant Visas.  On November 18, 2011, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3012, the "Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2011.  As passed by the House, the measure would eliminate the annual per-country limitations for employment-based immigrants, and it would increase the annual per-country limitations for family-based immigant visas from 7.5 percent of the total number of available visas to 15 percent of the total number of available visas.
At the time of this writing, no date for full Senate consideration of the measure had yet been set.
  • Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization. The House and Foreign Affairs and Senate Judiciary Committees have each approved differing versions of legislation to reauthorize and revise programs that assist trafficking victims found in the United States.  However, both bills are mired in partisan differences, and the outlook for enactment of a reauthorization measure is cloudy.  
The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved H.R. 2830, its version of the legislation, on October 5, 2011.  However, the measure has been referred to several other committees, none of which had acted on it at the time of this writing.  Moreover, Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ), the author of H.R. 2830, introduced H.R. 3589, a new version of the bill, on December 7, 2011.  The new version, which Representative Smith introduced in reaction to  a Department of Health and Human Services decision to deny a trafficking assistance grant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) because of USCCB's refusal to refer trafficking victims for abortions and birth control services, would strip the Department of Heallth and Human Services of its jurisdiction over trafficking victim assistance programs and establish a provision barring the federal government from discriminating against grant applicants that decline to refer clients for services that would violate their religious principals.
  • Potential House Floor Action on Controversial House Judiciary Committee Immigration Bills. It is possible that action could occur on the House floor during the Second Session of the 112th Congress on as many as five controversial immigration-related bills that the House Committee on the Judiciary has approved but that are awaiting House floor action. The bills include measures to require all employers in the United States to use the E-Verify system, eliminate the diversity visa program, provide for the indefinite detention of "dangerous" aliens, make it easier to prosecute illegal immigrants of felony identity theft charges, and make it easier for the Departments of State and Homeland Security to deny and revoke visas.
The House Committee on the Judiciary approved H.R. 2885, the "Legal Workforce Act", on September 21, 2011, however, at the time of this writing, the Committee had not yet formally reported the measure to the full House of Representatives.  As approved by the House Committee on the Judiciary, H.R. 2885 would require that all employers in the United States use an electronic employment verification system (EEVS) to verify the employment eligibility of their newhires. The Committee also has approved H.R. 704, the "SAFE for America Act", doing so on July 20, 2011. As approved by the Committee, H.R. 704 would eliminate the popular diversity visa "lottery" program, which sets aside up to 55,000 immigrant visas per year for aliens from low-sending countries. Also on July 20, 2011, the Committee approved H.R. 2552, the "Identify Theft Improvement Act of 2011".  H.R. 2551 would make it easier for prosecutors to win felony identity fraud convictions against illegal immigrants. The Committee approved H.R. 1932, the "Keep Our Communities Safe Act of 2001", on July 13, 2011.  That measure would provide for the indefinite detention of "dangerous aliens". Finally, the House Committee on the Judiciary has approved H.R. 1741, the "Secure Visas Act", a measure ithat would make it easier for the Departments of State and Homeland Security to deny and revoke visas.  The Committee approved H.R. 1741 on June 23, 2011.

All five bills are strongly opposed by the pro-immigrant advocacy community and supported by the immigration restrictionist advocacy community.  At the time of this writing, it is uncertain whether the House Republican Leadership will put them on the House floor for what could be divisive immigration debates during a presidential and congressional election year.
  • Potential House Floor Action on Controversial House Homeland Security Committee Border Security Bills. It is possible that action could occur on the House floor during the Second Session of the 112th Congress on several border security-related bills that the House Committee on Homeland Security has approved but that are awaiting House floor action. The bills include H.R. 1299, the "Secure Border Act of 2011", introduced by House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security Chairwoman Candice Miller (R-MI).  As approved by the Committee, the measure would require the Administration to submit within 180 days a plan on how to achieve operational control of the U.S. border within five years.   A second bill is H.R. 915, the "Jamie Zapata Border Enforcement Security Task Force Act", introduced by House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security Ranking Minority Member Henry Cuellar (D-TX).  As approved by the Committee, the measure would establish within the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unit a Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) program.  The bill would establish a number of criteria for the Secretary of Homeland Security to take into consideration when establishing BEST programs, and it would direct the Secretary to report on the effectiveness of the program in enhancing border security and reducing the drug trafficking, arms smuggling, illegal alien trafficking and smuggling, violence, and kidnapping along and across U.S. borders. 
  • Potential Full Committee Markups of Several Border Security Bills. As the First Session of the 112th Congress drew to a close, three border security bills had been approved by various subcommittees of the House, but they had not yet been taken up by their respective full committees.  The bills were pending in the House Committee on Homeland Security, the House Committee on Natural Resources, and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology at the end of the First Session of the 112th Congress.  Among them is is H.R. 1922, a bill to provide the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with greater access to federal lands for the purposes of conducting border security operations.  A second bill is H.R. 2463, the "Border Security Technology Innovation Act of 2011", which would direct the Department of Homeland Security to continue the development of a variety of border security technologies, including efforts to incorporate the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in border and maritime airspaceAnd a third bill is H.R. 1505, the "National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act".  As introduced, H.R. 1505 would prohibit the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) from taking action on public lands which impede the border security activities of the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) (Secretary).

See a Detailed Listing of Immigration and Refugee Actions Happening "Over the Horizon"

 

Possible Markup of a VAWA Bill Containing Immigration Provisions, the State of the Union Address, and Two GOP Presidential Debates Highlight the Week's Immigration and Refugee Action


By Micheal E. Hill
Monday, January 23, 2012 
-- 9:00 am EST

Refugee issues are expected to capture a good deal of attention in Washington over the next several weeks as the Senate and House of Representatives return for the convening of the Second Session of the 112th Congress.  Upcoming action on refugee matters includes two Capitol Hill briefings that are scheduled for this week and a rare refugee-related oversight hearing that could occur as soon as next week in the House Committee on the Judiciary.

Notwithstanding the flurry of refugee-related activity that is expected to occur in the next several weeks, however, immigration is still expected to be the dominant issue of the two, both this week, and in the year-to-come.

Most of the attention of the immigration and refugee advocacy communites during this week will be focused on the House Chamber, where President Obama will deliver his third State of the Union Address, and in Florida, where the four remaining major Republican presidential candidates will debate twice by week's end.  Advocates will be looking for a signal from President Obama's State of the Union Address of how aggressive or passive he will be on the subject of immigration as he heads into his reelection battle.  And they will be looking at the debates in Florida for a signal of whether the major Republican candidates will shape their positions on immigration in a swing state that has a significant immigrant population.


This Week's On-the-Hill Activity
Apart from the briefings, the debates, and the State of the Union Address, only one actual immigration- or refugee-related legislative action is scheduled to occur this week on Capitol Hill.  The Senate Committee on the Judiciary is scheduled to markup a Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill that contains significant immigration-related provisions.  However, while the markup is scheduled to occur this week, it likely will not actually occur until next week or later.

The following lists the highlights of this week's anticipated immigration- and refugee-related legislative-related action:
  • Senate Judiciary Committee Markup of Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Bill. The Senate Committee on the Judiciary has scheduled a markup of S. 1925, the "Violence Against Women Reauthorizaion Act of 2011".  The measure contains among its many provisions a number of sections intended to enhance protections for aliens who are the victim of domestic violence.  
  • State of the Union Address. The full House of Representatives and Senate this week will hold a joint meeting, at which the will listen to President Barack Obama's third State of the Union Address.  Immigration advocates on both sides of the issue will be waiting and ready to pounce, depending on whether and how he addresses the subject of immigration during his remarks.
  • Immigration Provisions of the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Bill.  While no action had yet been scheduled at the time of this writing, House and Senate conferees could at any time meet in an effort to iron out differences between the House-passed and the Senate-passed versions of H.R. 3630, the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011. The most significant immigration-related difference between the two bills is a provision contained in the House-passed version of the bill that was stripped from the Senate-passed version of the measure.  The provision, found in Section 5201 of the House-passed version of the measure, would pay for the cost of the payroll tas cut, in part, by requiring that at least one parent have a Social Security Number to qualify for either the refundable (Child Tax Credit) or nonrefundable (Additional Child Tax Credit) version of the child care tax credit, even if the children who are receiving the child care are U.S. citizens.  It has been estimated that the provision would result in the loss of $9.4 BILLION in tax credits to low-income immigrant families over the next ten years.  There is no comparable version of the provision in the Senate-passed version of the measure.

This Week's "Off-of-the-Hill" Activity
In addition to the schedule of immigration-related action taking place  this week on Capitol Hill, a number of significant "off of the Hill" immigration-related activities also could occur.

The following lists several highlights of this week's "off-of-the-Hill" immigration- and refugee-related legislative-related action:
  • Panel Discussion on the Impact on Refugees of the Material Support to Terrorism Provisions of the INA. Human Rights First has scheduled a panel discussion for this week titled, "Mislabeled as Terrorists: Government Inaction Keeps Refugee Families Apart," at which it will discuss the material support to terrorism provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  Participants will include Barrett Duke, Vice President for Public Policy and Research, Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Anwen Hughes, Senior Counsel, Refugee Protection Program, Human Rights First; Steven H. Shulman, Partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld LLP; and Julie Hysenaj, a U.S. citizen who is separated from her Kosovar husband because of the material support provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. 
  • Panel Discussion on the Immigration Policy Outlook. The Center for Global Development has scheduled a panel discussion for this week titled "Lessons for Bi-Partisan Immigration Compromise."  Participants will include Michael Clemens, Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development; Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini, filmmakers of "How Democracy Works Now: 12 Stories"; and Esther Olavarria, former immigration counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA).

  • 2012 Presidential Candidates Debates. There will be two GOP presidential debates this week.  Given the location of both debates (in Florida), it is highly likely that the candidates will be asked to address the issue of immigration during the course of the debate.  The first debate will be held on Monday, January 23, 2012, and it will be moderated by NBC's Brian Williams and will include a panel with National Journal’s Beth Reinhard and the Tampa Bay Times’ Adam Smith.  The second will be held on Thursday, January 26, 2012, and it will be moderated by CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

  • Briefing on Iraqi Refugees. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), and the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project are sponsoring a congressional briefing to discuss the status of Iraqi interpreters and translators who helped U.S. forces and Iraqi refugees and displaced persons dislocated by the war.



See a Detailed Listing of the Likely Immigration Actions For the Week of January 23, 2012

 
 

New in January!
MicEvHill.Com has posted video excerpts of the immigration-related questions fielded by President Obama at his January 30, 2012 Google+ Hangout. -- Click Here to See Video of the Immigration-Related Questions and Answers at the Presidential Google+ Hangout
MicEvHill.Com has posted a brief write-up summarizing the likely immigration- and refugee-related legislative activity that Congress will face during the week of January 30, 2012. -- Click Here to See a Summary of the Likely Immigration- and Refugee-Related Legislative Activity for the Week of January 30, 2012
MicEvHill.Com has posted the January 30, 2012, edition of its "This Week on the Hill" page, which previews the likely immigration- and refugee-related legislative activity that will occur during the week of January 30, 2012.  -- Click Here to See the January 30, 2012, edition of "This Week on the Hill"
MicEvHill.Com has posted video excerpts of the immigration-related comments made by guests on the January 29, 2012, Sunday public affairs programs. -- Click Here to See Video of the Immigration-Related Comments Made on the January 29, 2012, Sunday Public Affairs Programs
MicEvHill.Com has posted a sneak peek at the possible immigration-related discussions that could take place during the January 29, 2012, Sunday public affairs programs. -- Click Here to See a preview of the January 29, 2012, Sunday Public Affairs Programs
MicEvHill.Com has posted an extensive video excerpt of the January 26 2012, exchange on immigration between the four remaining Republican Candidates for the 2012 Repubican Presidential Candidates Debate in Jacksonville, Florida. --  Click Here to See the Video Excerpt of the Immigration Exchange at the January 26, 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates Debate
MicEvHill.Com has posted videos of the complete interviews that Univision's Jorge Ramos conducted with former Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Governor Mitt Romney at a presidential candidates forum in Miami, Florida. --  Click Here to See the Videos of the January 25, 2012, Gingrich and Romney Interviews
MicEvHill.Com has posted the video excerpt of the immigration-related remarks made by President Obama in his 2012 State of the Union Address. --  Click Here to See the Immigration-Related Video Excerpt from the President's 2012 State of the Union Address
MicEvHill.Com has provided a write-up of the immigration references made by President Obama in his 2012 State of the Union Address. --  Click Here to See the Write-Up of the Immigration References to the President's State of the Union Address
MicEvHill.Com has posted a link to a transcript of President Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address. --  Click Here to See a Transcript of the President's 2012 State of the Union Address
MicEvHill.Com has posted a preview of President Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address, which reviews past mentions of immigration by President Obama in previous addresses he has made to joint meetings of Congress during his presidency. --  Click Here to See the Peview of President Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address
MicEvHill.Com has posted a write-up previewing the likely immigration and refugee legislative agenda that Congress faces now that it has returned for the Second Session of the 112th Congress. -- Click Here to See the Write-Up Previewing the Immigration and Refugee Legislative Agenda Facing Congress in September, and beyond
MicEvHill.Com has posted a brief write-up summarizing the likely immigration- and refugee-related legislative activity that Congress will face during the week of January 23, 2012. -- Click Here to See a Summary of the Likely Immigration- and Refugee-Related Legislative Activity for the Week of January 23, 2012
MicEvHill.Com has posted the January 23, 2012, edition of its "This Week on the Hill" page, which details the likely immigration- and refugee-related legislative activity that will occur during the week of January 23, 2012.  -- Click Here to See the January 23, 2012, edition of "This Week on the Hill"
MicEvHill.Com has made extensive updates to its "Over the Horizon" page, which looks ahead to likely immigration-, asylum-, and refugee-related legislative activity that either is scheduled to occur within the next several months  or which has not yet been officially scheduled but that is likely occuring just over the horizon. -- Click Here to See MicEvHill.Com's "Over the Horizon" Page


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