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2019 Advocacy Day



This year, the HNBA is prioritizing the following issues for Advocacy Day:

Below are some updates on the legislative work in Congress related to the top three policy issues for the HNBA in 2019. 

Immigration Reform

  • The House Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a “markup” hearing on May 8th for the Dream and Promise Act of 2019. The purpose of the hearing will be to consider any amendments to the legislation and hold a vote to recommend the bill for consideration by the full House of Representatives. Supporters of the bill are hoping to keep the bill as pro-immigrant as possible throughout this process.
  • On April 7, 2019, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen submitted her resignation to President Donald Trump, which went into effect on April 10, 2019. President Trump has appointed U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan to serve as acting Secretary for DHS.
  • On April 10, 2019, Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Ron Vitiello also submitted his letter of resignation, after President Trump had rescinded his nomination to be permanent ICE director. Acting Deputy Director Matthew Albence was announced as Vitiello’s replacement.
  • On April 16, 2019, U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced a decision directing immigration judges to deny bond hearings to individuals seeking asylum. Civil rights organizations have vowed to block the ruling, and ABA President Bob Carlson has urged Attorney General Barr to reconsider his decision in an April 23 letter.
    – As Vox reporter Dara Lind points out, the decision would not affect family units seeking asylum per the 1997 Flores settlement that limits the federal government’s ability to detain children for more than 20 days.
  • On April 22, 2019, the Trump Administration ordered a review of federal immigration laws to reduce the rate of “visa overstays,” which occurs when foreigners enter the country legally, but remain in the country after their visa has expired. The Administration’s memorandum specifically mentions individuals who fall under the B-1 (business) and B-2 (tourism) visitor visa categories, and those who enter under the Visa Waiver Program.
  • According to the Washington Post, the countries most likely to be affected tend to be smaller in population but high in the percent of overstays. Out of the twenty (20) countries estimated to have a visa overstay rate of over 10%, only Syria and Nigeria had more than 1,000 visa overstays each in 2018.

Voting Rights Advancement

  • As of April 26, the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R 4) has collected 221 co-sponsors in the House, all Democrats. No Republicans have signed on to co-sponsor the legislation. The legislation would create a new formula to determine which states and localities with a recent history of voting rights violations must pre-clear election changes with the Department of Justice.
  • No mark-up hearing has been scheduled yet. However, Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) has been organizing field hearings in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama to build the public record on the need for the bill’s passage. The goal is to pass the legislation in the House before the anniversary of the Shelby v. Holder case (June 25).

Confirmation of Diverse Judges

  • As of April 12, 2019, President Donald Trump has confirmed a total of 97 nominees to Article III (federal) court judgeships. Advocates have criticized the lack of diversity in his nominations, particularly in the Latino community.
    – 75% of President Trump’s confirmed judges are male, compared to 58% for President Barack Obama and 78% for President George W. Bush.
    – 89% of President Trump’s confirmed judges are white, compared to 64% for President Obama and 82% for President Bush.
    – Only 3% of President Trump’s confirmed judges are Hispanic, compared to 11% for President Obama and 9% for President Bush.
  • Of the 60 pending nominations for federal judgeships, 2 nominees are Latino:
    – Raul M. Arias-Marxuach (of Puerto Rican descent) to be United States District Court Judge for the District of Puerto Rico
    – Rodolfo Armando Ruiz II (of Cuban descent) to be United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of Florida