2019 Advocacy DayADVOCACY MATERIALS
This year, the HNBA is prioritizing the following issues for Advocacy Day:
- Passage of Immigration Reform Legislation
- Passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act
- Timely Confirmation of Diverse Judges to the Federal Bench
Below are some updates on the legislative work in Congress related to the top three policy issues for the HNBA in 2019.
House Democrats introduced the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 on Tuesday, March 12. The legislation would offer DREAMers and individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) an opportunity to earn permanent legal status, and eventually, citizenship. The legislation mirrors previous versions of the DREAM Act and the American Promise Act, with some additional provisions, including:
- Allowing Dreamers to access federal financial aid
- Repealing Section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which penalizes states that grant in-state tuition to undocumented students on the basis of residency
- Permitting eligible Dreamers deported from the United States by the Trump Administration to apply for relief from abroad
The House is likely to take up the legislation (after passing a Committee markup hearing) in early April. The expiration for current DED holders is March 31, 2019.
Voting Rights Advancement
On February 26, 2019, U.S. Representative Terri Sewell (AL-07) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the 2019 version of the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore provisions of the Voting Rights Act struck down by a 5-4 Supreme Court decision in 2013. 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.
The bill has been assigned a top bill number (H.R. 4), which indicates the House majority will prioritize its passage this session. Neither a markup hearing nor a floor vote has been scheduled for the bill yet.
On March 8, 2019, the House passed H.R. 1, the “For the People Act,” a campaign finance, government ethics, and voting rights reform bill. Some of the provisions included in H.R. 1 are in line with HNBA’s Resolution on Voting Rights, including:
- Creating a national automatic voter registration that asks voters to opt out, rather than opt-in, and promotes early voting, same-day voter registration, and online voter registration
- Making Election Day a holiday for federal employees and encouraging private sector businesses to do the same and requiring poll workers to provide a week’s notice if poll sites are changed
- Ending partisan gerrymandering in federal elections and prohibiting voter roll purging
- Increasing elections security, including requiring the director of national intelligence to do regular checks on foreign threats
- Recruiting and training more poll workers ahead of the 2020 election to cut down on long lines at the polls
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he will not bring up H.R. 1 for a vote in the Senate.
Confirmation of Diverse Judges
President Donald Trump has confirmed a total of 89 nominees to Article III (federal) court judgeships. Advocates have criticized the lack of diversity in his nominations, particularly in the Latino community.
- 76% of President Trump’s confirmed judges are male, compared to 58% for President Barack Obama and 78% for President George W. Bush.
- 92% of President Trump’s confirmed judges are white, compared to 64% for President Obama and 82% for President Bush.
- Only 1% 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, 4 nominees are Latino:
- Roy Kalman Altman (of Venezuelan descent) to be United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of Florida
- Raul M. Arias-Marxuach (of Puerto Rican descent) to be United States District Court Judge for the District of Puerto Rico
- David Steven Morales (of Mexican descent) to be United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of Texas
- Rodolfo Armando Ruiz II (of Cuban descent) to be United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of Florida