Legislative Activity

Immigration Amendments Threaten Annual Defense Authorization Bill

This week, the House of Representatives will debate the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (H.R. 1735), Congress’s annual measure authorizing defense programs. During its consideration of the bill last week, the House Armed Services Committee approved two amendments that would ask the Defense Secretary to consider allowing undocumented young people who have work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to join the U.S. military, including one proposed by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ). Rep. Gallego’s amendment was approved in a 33-30 vote, with six Republicans joining all Democrats in support of the measure. Even though the amendments do not require the Defense Department change its policy – only review it – some House Republicans are cautioning that these provisions could threaten the House’s passage of the NDAA. A group of Republicans, led by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), have introduced an amendment ahead of the House’s floor debate of H.R. 1735 that would strike Rep. Gallego’s provision. The House Rules Committee will determine which amendments will be eligible for consideration on the floor during a meeting on Tuesday, May 12. The full chamber is expected to begin consideration of H.R. 1735 on Wednesday, May 13. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) made clear that he will not accept any similar immigration provisions in his committee’s version of the NDAA, saying “The defense bill is for defense, not for Dreamers.” The Senate will begin consideration of its version of the FY 2016 NDAA this week.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Wednesday, May 13: The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will hold a hearing titled “Securing the Border: Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology Force Multipliers.”
  • Wednesday, May 13: The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management efficiency will meet to mark up pending legislation.

Executive Branch Activity

DOJ Acknowledges it Extended Benefits to Illegal Immigrants Despite Court Order

This week, Justice Department lawyers acknowledged that up to 2,000 illegal immigrants were granted extended benefits under the President’s new immigration executive actions after the issuance of a court order not to do so. Texas federal Judge Andrew Hanen originally blocked the President’s executive actions in February while a case brought by 26 states is considered by the courts. One of the President’s proposals would be to expand the duration of deferred action grants from two years to three for 100,000 illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, known as “DREAMERs.” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has asked the agency’s Inspector General to investigate why the work authorizations were issued in contravention of the court order. The Justice Department told Judge Hanen that the Department of Homeland Security is already converting the three-year terms to two.