Legislation

Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act of 2021

  • Sponsors: Reps. Jayapal, Rep. Smith; Sen. Booker 
  • Date:  3/25/21
  • Bill Numbers: HR 2222

Overview:  The Act responds to many of the issues The Advocates has reported in our reports on the harms and violations in immigration detention.  The Act will end the use of private detention facilities altogether, repeal mandatory detention, stop family detention, and prohibit solitary confinement while also restoring due process and increasing oversight, accountability, and transparency measures.  It will also save the taxpayer the billions of dollars wasted on unnecessary immigration detention by promoting more humane and less costly community-based alternatives and mandating that all detained immigrants have access to a custody hearing in front of an immigration judge. Vulnerable populations — including primary caregivers and asylum seekers — will also be protected. Additionally, the government will be required to show probable cause that someone poses a risk to the community in order to detain them-- a burden that immigrants currently hold to prove they are NOT such a danger.  The Bill also requires that DHS establishes legally enforceable civil detention standards, and creates a meaningful inspection process at facilities. 

 

  • Sponsors: Reps. Garcia, Meng and Jayapal; Sens. Markey and Hirono 
  • Date Introduced: 1/28/21 
  • Bill Numbers: HR 536  

Overview: This bill starts to unwind the harms of the 1990’s criminal justice and immigration laws.  It will end mandatory detention and ban for-profit jails, increase judicial discretion to immigration judges and restore judicial review, and bar local police from acting as federal ICE agents.  It will also disentangle the criminal and immigration justice systems by limiting deportations for drug convictions and other offenses, ending criminal punishments for crossing the border, and expanding opportunities for people to return to the U.S. 

AHR supports:  Embodies the new vision we need for our immigration system—one that disentangles criminal and immigration systems, recognizing that the criminal justice system overwhelmingly harms black and brown communities, and that our immigration system should not be founded on exclusionary policies that are inherently racist. 

 

FAIR Proceedings Act 

  • Sponsor: Sen Gillibrand
  • Date: 3/24/21*
  • Bill: TBD

Overview:  The Act will guarantee government-appointed counsel for children; individuals with disabilities; victims of abuse, torture eand violence; and those at/below 200% of the federal poverty level.  It will also require Legal Orientation Programs be available for all people in detention to have access to information about their rights and immigration options.  And, it is a step toward due process by requireing that individuals have the right to review, in advance, documents to be used against them by the Department of Homeland Security in removal proceedings. 

AHR Supports: The Advocates has noted in our Bearing Witness Report, lack of access to counsel is one of the greatest impediments to fairness and due process in immigration court.  We support steps that ensure fairness by guaranteeing government-appointed counsel and information about rights.  This also makes proceedings less costly and reduces backlog.  We also welcome the provisions related to access to evidence, as the current system allows DHS to skirt due process and fairness standards by failing to provide, in a timely and easy-to-access manner, evdience used against respondents, such as basic charging documents.  

AHR Opposes: The Advocates believes immigration court proceedings will never meet minimum human rights and due process standards until they are held in impartial courts.  This Act is a good step toward fixing many of the issues in the system, but broader action is required which moves the courts from the Executive branch.  

 

Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021

  • Sponsors: Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA); Sen. Bennet and Sen. Crapo
  • Date:  3/3/21
  • Bill Numbers: HR 1537-- Passed; Introduction in Senate expected  

Overview: would provide undocumented farmworkers and their family members with a path to legal immigration status and citizenship, revise the H-2A agricultural guestworker program to address some employer and worker concerns, and impose mandatory employment verification (“E-verify”) in agriculture.  The bill also includes updates related to COVID impact on farm workers.  

AHR supports: The Advocates is concerned about the significant number of migrant workers who experience human trafficking due to gaps in our immigration laws.  This bill is an improtant step toward eliminating some immigration concerns that traffickers use to force labor.  We also support efforts that allow flexibility to change and leave employers, rather than tying immigration options to a specific employer, which can reduce vulneability to trafficking.  Finally, we support efforts to provide greater benefits and paths to citizenship for migrant workers, reflecting dignity of all people and the improtant contribution of migrant workers in our economy and livelihoods.  

AHR opposes: continued inclusion of expansive criminal bars to immigration status that perpetuate injustices and inequalities inherent in our criminal justice and immigration systems.  

 

  • Sponsors: Reps. Roybal-Allard, Velázquez, Clarke 
  • Date Introduced: 3/3/21 
  • Bill Numbers: HR 6-- Passed; Introduction in Senate expected  

Overview: Grants LPR status and cancels removal proceedings for people continuously present in the U.S. since 1/1/21 who entered initially before age 18, have high school degree or equivalent and are not inadmissible for a broad range of issues including criminal bars.  Also grants LPR status for people who Have been in the United States for a period of 3 years before the Act’s enactment; and Were eligible or had TPS on September 17, 2017 or had DED status as of January 20, 2021, in addition to codifying precedent that TPS is treated as inspection/admission.   

AHR supports: Creating safe, organized and predictable paths for migration with dignity, especially for people who have been long-term members of our communities but are currently excluded due to flaws in our immigration system.

AHR opposes: Criminal bars to status—perpetuating the entanglement of our immigration and criminal justice systems and furthering the injustices of the our criminal systems that target and harm black and brown communities. 

 

  • Sponsors: Rep. Castro; Sen. Padilla and Warren
  • Date Introduced: 3/16/21 
  • Bill Number: H.R. 1909 and S.747

Overview: The bill provides Adjustment of Status to Legal Permanent Resident (green cards) for non-citizen workers in approximately 20 sectors labeled essential during the pandemic, as well as those who worked in that industry but lost their job due to COVID.  Immigrants are essential, not just to our economy, but to our communities, our society, and our nation, and have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic despite many having no path to citizenship under current immigration law.  

AHR supports: Recognizing the thankless and often dangerous jobs migrants undertake in the U.S.; Ensuring a path to citizenship for the millions of workers who continued to keep our economy running in the face of a pandemic—often in industries or locations where they were not provided PPE or reasonable accommodations, or even the most basic labor rights. 

AHR opposes: Including criminal bars, which further perpetuate—rather than take the opportunity to untangle—the injustices of our criminal and immigration systems, which overwhelmingly harm and target black and brown communities.  

 

U.S. Citizenship Act  

  • Sponsors: Rep. Lisa Sanchez; Sen. Menendez  
  • Date Introduced: 02/18/2021 

Overview:  The bill is a sweeping—but insufficient—revision of our immigration system to ensure people can migrate with dignity through safe, orderly and predictable pathways.  The bill removes certain bars to migration; creates a path to a green card and citizenship for many currently barred; expands visa categories for families, employees and victims of crimes; focuses on smart border policies and seeks to address causes of migration; and aims to improve due process.   

AHR supports: Removes harmful bars and creates waviers, increases visa numbers, creates new pathways to permanent residence and citizenship, recognizes push factors in migration.

AHR opposes:  Maintains harmful criminal bars to relief that perpetuate inequalities in our criminal and immigration systems.   

 

  • Sponsors: Rep. Judy Chu, Sen. Coons 
  • Date Introduced:  
  • Bill Numbers: HR 1333-- Passed; Introduction in Senate 

Overview:  The bill aims to prevent future actions by the executive that unlawfully use immigration laws in discriminatory ways.  It imposes limitations on the President's authority to suspend or restrict entry into the US, creates requirements for DHS and DOS, and provides a civil action for those harmed. It also prohibits religious discrimination in various immigration-related decisions. 

AHR supports: Closing gaps in our immigration laws that allow violations of international law and constitutional protections that prohibit actions rooted in racism and xenophobia based on pretextual national security grounds.  

 

  • Sponsors: Rep Jackson
  • Date Introduced: 3/8/21; Passed House and introduced in Senate 3/18/21
  • Bill Numbers: HR 1620; S.  

Overview: The Violence Against Women's Act has been an historic piece of legislation that has helped stop GBV in the U.S. since its initial passage.  Yet, GBV remains one of the greatest health crises in our country (and world).  Congress failed to reauthorize the protections enshrined in VAWA last year, so its passage is all the more crucial today.  VAWA helps provide funding and laws that prevent and punish GBV.  It also makes available immigration relief for those noncitizens who have suffered domestic violence by a US citizen or permanent resident family member.  We have seen its importance in our work at AHR.  The 2021 reauthorization would further these protections by: ensuring that non-tribal offenders on tribal lands can be held accountable; closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” which would bar anyone convicted of stalking from obtaining a firearm; providing funds for housing vouchers so survivors in federally-assisted housing are able to relocate quickly; and guaranteeing unemployment insurance if they have to leave a job because of concerns for their safety.

 

New Deal for New Americans (National Office of New Americans Act) 

  • Sponsor: Sen. Markey; Rep. Meng, Rep Jayapal 
  • Date Introduced: Jan 28, 2021 

Overview: The New Deal will help ensure the U.S. immigration system allows people to migrate with dignity and human rights.  Among other things, it proposes to create grants to support organizations that provide direct assistance through immigration screening, education, and legal assistance.  It will also take numerous steps to increase assimilation and inclusion of migrants, and increase family reunification by allowing US citizens 18 years and older to petition for parents.  It meets our international obligations by increasing refugee admissions to at least 110,000 per fiscal year. 

AHR supports: Focus on access to counsel and due process rights for people in the immigration system; efforts to ensure compliance with international law by welcoming more refugees. 

 

Guaranteed Refugee Admissions Ceiling Enhancement (GRACE) Act 

  • Sponsors: Senator Markey 
  • Date Introduced: Exepcted 3/26/21
  • Bill Numbers: TBD  

Overview: Would protect and restore the U.S. resettlement program by setting a minimum refugee admissions goal to 125,000 and increasing congressional oversight over the administration's operations of the resettlement program.

AHR supports: ensuring refugee admissions are in-line with our obligations under international law and our values as a nation.  By setting a minimum, default number for admissions, the bill will help avert opportunities for the Executive to reduce admissions and violate international law through inaction.

 

Access to Counsel Act of 2021

 

  • Sponsor: Rep. Jayapal 
  • Date: 4/16/21 
  • Bill: H.R. 1573

Overview: The Act requires DHS to ensure that a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, person in possession of a visa, a returning asylee, or refugee has a meaningful opportunity to consult with counsel and certain related parties, such as a relative, to help them understand their rights when going through the inspection process at borders and ports-of-entry. The counsel and related party shall be allowed to advocate on behalf of the covered individual, including by providing evidence and information to the examining immigration officer.

AHR supports: ensuring access to counsel and a meaningful opportunity to understand a process against them as well as options for relief.  

AHR opposes: the Act excludes asylum seekers and trafficking victims who may be subject to the same process and have a right to relief if given the opportunity to consult counsel.  All people facing expulsion and removal, particularly people who have a right to seek protection from persecution and torture, must be given access to counsel to protect their rights and ensure the U.S. does not improperly exclude or remove people in violation of our laws and duties. 

 

Dream Act

  • Sponsor: Sen Durban 
  • Date: 2/4/21 
  • Bill: S 264 

Overview:  Act to provide status to people with DACA 

 

  • Sponsors: Sen. Gillibrand, Rep. Jayapal 
  • Date Introduced: 2/13/21 
  • Bill Number: S 382 

Overview:  The bill aims to prevent future abuses of children and family’s rights through stopping family separation and guaranteeing through legislation the rights of children held in government custody.  It requires that immigrant children be held in the least restrictive setting, empowers an ombudsperson, and creates an advisory committee. 

AHR supports: Righting the wrongs of the Trump Administration’s family separation policies while working to ensure such violations of the rights of children and families do not happen again. 

AHR opposes: Measures that create advisory committees instead of codifying human rights standards in immigration and dismantling detention systems to adequately resolve and prevent abuses.  

 

  • Sponsors: Rep. Castro 
  • Date: 1/25/21 
  • Bill Numbers: HR 458 

Overview: This bill requires an investigation and reports for each death of an alien in Department of Homeland Security or Department of Health and Human Services custody. 

  • Sponsor: Sen. Klobuchar 
  • Date: 2/4/21 
  • Bill Numbers: S 260 

Overview: Expands protections for derivatives who have suffered abuse or whose family members have suffered abuse.  

 

 

New Deal for New Americans (National Office of New Americans Act) 

  • Sponsor: Sen. Markey; Rep. Meng, Rep Jayapal 
  • Date Introduced: Jan 28, 2021 

Overview: The New Deal will help ensure the U.S. immigration system allows people to migrate with dignity and human rights.  Among other things, it proposes to create grants to support organizations that provide direct assistance through immigration screening, education, and legal assistance.  It will also take numerous steps to increase assimilation and inclusion of migrants, and increase family reunification by allowing US citizens 18 years and older to petition for parents.  It meets our international obligations by increasing refugee admissions to at least 110,000 per fiscal year. 

AHR supports: Focus on access to counsel and due process rights for people in the immigration system; efforts to ensure compliance with international law by welcoming more refugees.