Highlights of DHS Report to Judiciary Cmte on Immigration

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The Justice Department on Tuesday announced plans to appeal a judge’s ruling that blocked President Donald Trump from shuttering a program that gave protections and work permits to some people who entered the U.S. illegally as children.

In a ruling last week, San Francisco-based U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup ordered the administration to resume accepting renewal applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, better known as DACA. More here from Politico.

In part, highlights:

The Department has also implemented historic efforts to step up international cooperation. For the first time ever, DHS established a clear baseline for what countries must do to help the United States confidently screen travelers and immigrants from their territory. Every country in the world is now required to meet high security standards and to help us understand who is coming into our country.
As required under President Trump’s Executive Order Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States (EO 13780), all foreign governments have been notified of the new standards, which include the sharing of terrorist identities, criminal
history information, and other data needed to ensure public safety and national security, as well as the requirement that countries issue secure biometric passports, report lost and stolen travel documents to INTERPOL, and take other essential actions to prevent identity fraud.
Visa Waiver Program
We are also looking at ways to further strengthen the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). First and foremost, the VWP is a security partnership program. It mandates high and consistent standards from partner countries in the areas of national security, law enfor
cement, and immigration enforcement to detect and prevent terrorists, criminals, and other potentially dangerous individuals from traveling to the United States —
while still facilitating legitimate travel and tourism.
Currently, 38 countries participate in the VWP, which allows their citizens to travel to the United States for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days after applying and being approved through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). In return, these countries must comply with program requirements to enter into information
-sharing protocols that enable the relay of information concerning known and suspected terrorists and criminals; consistent and timely lost and stolen passport information reporting; and robust border and travel document
screening. As a result of these program requirements, countries have adopted new laws, policies, and practices that strengthen our mutual security.
The Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015,
combined with Secretarial action, have strengthened the VWP’s security provisions over the past two years.
VWP countries are now required to issue high -security electronic passports (e-
passports); implement information sharing arrangements to exchange terrorist identity information; establish mechanisms to validate e-passports at each key port of entry; report all lost and stolen passports to INTERPOL or directly to the United States no later than 24 hours after the country becomes aware of the loss or theft; and screen international travelers against the INTERPOL Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database and notices. As with other operational activities of DHS, a full discussion of the privacy impact of these initiatives and how we mitigate the risk to personal privacy is available on our website.
Since enactment of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, DHS has realized an increase in the sharing of terrorist identity information. Several countries have increased the frequency of their reporting of lost and stolen passports —VWP countries account for over 70 percent of the almost 73 million lost and stolen travel documents reported to INTERPOL. All VWP countries are now issuing and using for travel to the United States fraud-resistant e-passports that meet or exceed the ICAO standards. Over 70,000 ESTA applicationshave been denied, cancelled or revoked under enforcement of the VWP Improvement Act’seligibility restrictions for VWP travel.
Border Security
In compliance with Executive Order 13767: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement
Improvements, DHS has conducted a comprehensive study of the security of the southern border that addresses all of the elements that provide an integrated solution for the Nation. Our first priority is to expand on our existing southern border wall system and close legal loopholes that encourage and enable illegal immigration and create a corresponding backlog in the courts. We currently have an immigration court backlog of more than 650,000 cases pending before the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. We also have a massive asylum backlog with more than 270,000 pending cases before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Recognizing the unsustainability of the asylum case backlog, USCIS has implemented efficiency measures designed to reduce adjudication times. Similarly, the Department of Justice has taken action to reduce unwarranted case continuances in immigration courts, which helps reduce the backlog while affording aliens full and fair hearings. To further

reduce the “pull factors” and restore integrity to our immigration benefits adjudication process, we must tighten case processing standards, including the “credible
-fear” standard, impose and enforce penalties for fraud, and ensure applicants are fully vetted before they are allowed access to the United States.
In addition, visa-overstays account for roughly 40 percent of all illegal immigration in the
United States. In FY 2016, more than 628,000 aliens overstayed their visas. By increasing
overstay penalties and expanding ICE’s enforcement tools, we can help ensure that foreign
workers, students, and visitors respect the terms of their temporary visas. We need Congress to authorize the Department to raise and collect fees from immigration benefit applications to fund additional enhancements to our immigration system called for by the President’s Executive Orders.
Enforcing Immigration Laws
We are also prioritizing the enforcement of our immigration laws in the interior of our country.
There are nearly one million aliens with final orders of removal across the country
—meaning these removable aliens were afforded due process of law, had their
day in court, and were ultimately ordered removed by a judge — yet they remain in our nation and ICE only has 6,000 Deportation Officers to arrest and remove them. The Administration looks to strengthen law enforcement by hiring 10,000 more ICE officers and agents, and supports the request from the Department of Justice to hire 300 more federal prosecutors.
To further protect our communities, we must end so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions. Hundreds of state and local jurisdictions across the country that do not honor requests from ICE to hold criminal aliens who are already in state and local custody. Instead, they allow them back into their communities, where they are allowed to commit more crimes. This also poses a greater risk of harm to ICE officers, who must locate and arrest these criminals in public places, and increases the likelihood that the criminal aliens can resist arrest or flee. Rather than enhancing public safety, sanctuary jurisdictions undermine it.
The only “sanctuary” these jurisdictions create is a safe haven for criminals. States and localities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities should be ineligible for funding from certain grants and cooperative agreements.
Authorizing and incentivizing states and localities to enforce immigration laws would further help ICE with its mission and make all communities safer.
In FY 2017, 1,761 criminal illegal aliens were released from ICE custody because of a 2001
Supreme Court decision that generally requires ICE to release certain removable aliens with final orders of removal—including violent criminals—
within 180 days, if they have not been removed and there is no significant likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future. Legally insupportable judicial interpretations of the law regarding the detention and removability of criminal aliens have eroded ICE’s authority to keep aliens in custody pending removal.
Pursuant to this Executive Order, USCIS announced it will take a more targeted approach to combatting fraud and abuse in the employment -based visa programs, including the H-1B program. To help end H-1B petitioner fraud and abuse, USCIS has established a Targeted Site Visit and Verification Program (TSVVP). Targeted site visits allow USCIS to focus its resources where fraud and abuse of certain programs are more likely to occur. TSVVP initially focused on H-1B petitions filed by companies that are H-1B dependent (as defined by statute), employers petitioning for H-1B workers who will be placed off -site at another company’s location, or cases where USCIS cannot validate the H-1B petitioner’s business information through commercially -available data.
USCIS has also taken great strides to improve transparency with the public about employment -based immigration programs. The agency has published new data on its website to give the public more information regarding the use of nonimmigrant workers in the H-1B, H-2B, and L nonimmigrant programs. Information about the use and legal authority for employment authorization documents has also been published.
Most low-skilled immigration into the United States occurs legally through our
immigrant-visa system, which, unlike many other countries’ systems, prioritizes family
-based chain-migration. Each year, the United States grants lawful permanent resident status (greencards) to more than one million people; two-thirds of that total is based on a person having a sponsoring relative in the United States, regardless of the new immigrant’s skills, education, English language proficiency, or ability to successfully assimilate. This system of chain-migration has accounted for more than 60 percent of immigration into the United States over the past 35 years. We must end chain-migration, and limit family -based green cards to spouses and the minor children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.
We must also eliminate the “diversity visa” lottery. Every year, through this lottery, 50,000
green cards are awarded at random to foreign nationals. Many of these lottery beneficiaries have absolutely no ties to the United States, no special skills, and limited education. The random lottery program has not been adopted by other countries and does not adequately serve our national interest. Full opening summary here.
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Denise Simon

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