Supreme Court divided on citizenship question for census


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The Supreme Court seemed divided along ideological lines Tuesday as the justices heard arguments about the Trump administration’s move to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census.

All of the court’s four liberals sounded highly skeptical about Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision, which three federal judges have found illegal because it lacked a coherent explanation and could lead to a large undercount of non-citizens as well as Americans of Hispanic origin.

During the 90-minute court session, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the most vocal critic of Ross’s action, saying it was fairly transparent that he wanted to add the citizenship question and then began fishing for a justification.

“This is a solution in search of a problem,” Sotomayor declared, blasting Ross’s approach as: “I got to find a problem that fits what I want to do.”

After Solicitor General Noel Francisco suggested that the courts should not meddle Continue reading “Supreme Court divided on citizenship question for census”

New homeland chief urges Congress to address border crisis


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Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan urged Congress on Wednesday to address what he called “both a humanitarian and security crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In his first public appearance since he replaced Kirstjen Nielsen last week at the Department of Homeland Security, McAleenan emphasized that lax asylum and immigration laws encourage Central American migrants to trek to the border.

"Without action from Congress, criminals will continue to profit from human misery along our border,” McAleenan said at a press conference near the border in Hidalgo, Texas. “It’s clear that all of our resources are being stretched thin. The system is full and we are beyond capacity.”

McAleenan, who was previously Trump’s Senate-confirmed Customs and Border Protection commissioner and a former Obama administration official, warned that a rising tide of migrants at the border will place more strain on law enforcement and local service providers.

"We don’t Continue reading “New homeland chief urges Congress to address border crisis”

Justice Dept. denies bond for tens of thousands of asylum seekers


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In a move that could keep tens of thousands of asylum seekers locked up, the Justice Department said Tuesday that it will deny a large class of undocumented immigrants a bond hearing to argue for their release.

The opinion, by Attorney General William Barr, adheres to the Trump administration’s stance that migrants caught at the border should be detained whenever possible, even when they’ve petitioned for asylum.

The 11-page precedent-setting decision reverses a 2005 immigration court ruling that guaranteed bond hearings for certain migrants. Under the earlier ruling, some migrants who passed a “credible fear” interview — the first step in their asylum review — were eligible to seek release on bond.

The new standard will eliminate that option. The Homeland Security Department will, however, retain discretion to let individual asylum seekers out of detention, a decision that can be dictated by the availability of resources.

“It strips away the Continue reading “Justice Dept. denies bond for tens of thousands of asylum seekers”

Judiciary Democrats seek details on Trump’s reported offer to pardon border chief


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Top Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee requested information Tuesday related to President Donald Trump’s reported offer to pardon a top border official if he acted illegally to block asylum seekers.

Multiple media outlets reported Friday that Trump earlier this month told Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan he’d pardon him if he broke the law to deny migrants the ability to petition for asylum. It wasn’t clear whether the president intended the remark as a joke, and Trump denied later that day on Twitter that he "offered pardons to Homeland Securi[t]y personnel in case they broke the law."

News of the pardon offer followed Trump’s announcement last week that former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen would step down from her post and be replaced in an acting capacity by McAleenan.

The dismissal was part of a department purge as the White House seeks to stem the flow Continue reading “Judiciary Democrats seek details on Trump’s reported offer to pardon border chief”

White House weighs travel restrictions for countries with frequent visa overstays


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The White House is weighing travel restrictions for nationals of countries with high rates of overstaying visas in the United States, according to a Department of Homeland Security official.

Some of the countries with the highest rates of overstaying temporary visas are in Africa. Chad, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Eritrea, Liberia, Somalia, and South Sudan have among the highest overstay rates for short-term tourist and business visas, although they send relatively small numbers of travelers to the U.S. each year. During a meeting in January 2018, President Donald Trump reportedly referred to Haiti and some African nations as “shithole countries“ and questioned why their nationals should be admitted to the U.S.

The prospective action, which was also confirmed by a congressional staffer, comes amid a leadership shakeup among Trump’s top immigration staff. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen left her post last week and three other officials recently resigned or Continue reading “White House weighs travel restrictions for countries with frequent visa overstays”

White House weighs travel restrictions for countries with frequent visa overstays


This post is by Ted Hesson from Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories


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The White House is weighing travel restrictions for nationals of countries with high rates of overstaying visas in the United States, according to a Department of Homeland Security official.

Some of the countries with the highest rates of overstaying temporary visas are in Africa. Chad, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Eritrea, Liberia, Somalia, and South Sudan have among the highest overstay rates for short-term tourist and business visas, although they send relatively small numbers of travelers to the U.S. each year. During a meeting in January 2018, President Donald Trump reportedly referred to Haiti and some African nations as “shithole countries“ and questioned why their nationals should be admitted to the U.S.

The prospective action, which was also confirmed by a congressional staffer, comes amid a leadership shakeup among Trump’s top immigration staff. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen left her post last week and three other officials recently resigned or Continue reading “White House weighs travel restrictions for countries with frequent visa overstays”

Another top immigration official to leave Friday


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Top immigration official Ronald Vitiello will leave his post Friday amid President Donald Trump’s homeland staff shakeup, an agency spokesperson confirmed to POLITICO.

Vitiello is a former long-term Border Patrol official who’s been acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement since June. Whether Vitiello will remain in government remains unclear, and ICE declined to comment further. The agency has not announced a replacement, although Matthew Albence, acting deputy director, would be next in line.

Trump on Friday clawed back Vitiello’s nomination to become ICE director on a permanent basis, saying he preferred to move in a “tougher direction.” The news was followed by three high-profile resignations, including that of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. White House senior adviser Stephen Miller has sought in recent days to remove other officials, such as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Francis Cissna.

Border Patrol arrested nearly 93,000 migrants at Continue reading “Another top immigration official to leave Friday”

Nielsen: Acting DHS Deputy Grady offers resignation


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Claire Grady, the acting Homeland Security Department deputy secretary, has offered to resign, according to outgoing Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

“Acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady has offered the President her resignation, effective tomorrow,” Nielsen tweeted Tuesday evening. “For the last two years, Claire has served @DHSgov w excellence and distinction. She has been an invaluable asset to DHS – a steady force and a knowledgeable voice.”

The resignation comes amid a broader Homeland Security staff shakeup pushed by White House senior adviser Stephen Miller. President Donald Trump on Sunday announced that Nielsen would step down from her post. Days before, the White House pulled its nominee to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with Trump pledging to go in a “tougher direction.”

When Trump announced Nielsen’s departure, he also tapped Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan to become acting DHS secretary, a move that has raised legal questions. Grady, Continue reading “Nielsen: Acting DHS Deputy Grady offers resignation”

Trump’s immigration plans face likely turbulence in courts


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President Donald Trump’s purge of top Homeland Security officials ignores the larger obstacle to his aggressive immigration agenda — the courts.

With Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen out of the way, and other DHS officials expected to be pushed out, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller hopes to accelerate or pursue more aggressive enforcement policies, including one regulation that allows children to be detained more than 20 days and another that would deny green cards to immigrants who’ve received public assistance or are deemed likely to do so.

Miller has also pressed to revive family separations at the border, though when asked Tuesday about this, the president said, "We are not looking to do that, no."

But even if Trump "cleans house" — a phrase he’s never used, he told reporters today — he’ll still need to follow the law, and federal courts have ruled repeatedly against his most audacious Continue reading “Trump’s immigration plans face likely turbulence in courts”

Judge halts Trump administration’s ‘remain in Mexico’ policy


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A federal judge today halted the Trump administration’s “remain in Mexico” policy, which forces certain non-Mexican asylum seekers to wait in Mexico during their court proceedings.

The plaintiffs — a group of asylum seekers and organizations represented by the American Civil Liberties Union — argued the policy violates U.S. asylum law, international treaty obligations and federal regulatory requirements.

In a 27-page order, San Francisco-based U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg issued a preliminary injunction against the policy, a decision that represents another legal setback for the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration agenda. The order will take effect Friday at 8 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. PDT), which will provide the administration time to seek a stay from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

The ruling did not tackle the question of whether DHS has the authority to send asylum seekers to Mexico. Instead, it Continue reading “Judge halts Trump administration’s ‘remain in Mexico’ policy”

Trump’s right: Border arrests are surging. Here’s why.


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President Donald Trump has been talking about a border crisis for three years. Now he has the numbers to prove it, with border arrests spiking to the highest levels in a decade as growing crowds of migrants from Central America try to enter the U.S.

But he might be wrong about why it’s happening.

Trump is planning a visit to Calexico, Calif., on Friday as he blames Mexico for failing to stem the tide of migrants. Still, the forces driving Central American families and children northward are complex — and some think Trump’s hard-line immigration rhetoric could be making the problem worse.

Border officials encountered an estimated 100,000 migrants in March, with families making up the bulk of that, according to preliminary figures. The tally suggests border traffic could return to the higher levels of the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s.

Migrants say they’re fleeing Honduras, Guatemala and Continue reading “Trump’s right: Border arrests are surging. Here’s why.”

Nielsen pushing lawmakers to make it easier to deport asylum-seekers


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Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will speak with senior members of Congress Tuesday to press for legislation that toughens asylum laws and allows the Trump administration to more easily detain and remove Central American families and children.

President Donald Trump and top officials have complained in recent weeks about a growing number of migrants arriving at the southwest border. DHS estimates that border arrests in March will approach 90,000 people, which would be the highest monthly level in more than a decade. Officials argue that a dramatic increase in migrant families and children has created a crisis that necessitates an immediate response from Congress.

“The secretary’s first and biggest priority is to demand congressional action,” a senior DHS official said on a call with reporters Tuesday morning. “The only way we fix this crisis, the only way we get lasting solutions, is if Congress closes the loopholes, fixes the misguided Continue reading “Nielsen pushing lawmakers to make it easier to deport asylum-seekers”

Nielsen to require more asylum seekers to remain in Mexico


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Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Monday ordered an expansion of the administration’s “remain in Mexico” strategy, which forces certain non-Mexican asylum seekers to wait in Mexico pending resolution of their asylum cases in the U.S.

The secretary said her department would expand the policy — formally known as the “Migrant Protection Protocols” — “to return hundreds of additional migrants per day.” The program already has been launched at and between several ports of entry in California and Texas.

In a memo to Customs and Border Protection, Nielsen also called for the agency to accelerate a plan to reassign 750 customs officers to assist with Border Patrol efforts to process and house incoming migrants.

She added in a related announcement that CBP should explore reassigning more personnel, but should notify her if it details more than 2,000 employees to emergency border work.

“The crisis at our border is Continue reading “Nielsen to require more asylum seekers to remain in Mexico”

Democrats fume as Trump cuts Central American aid


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Democratic lawmakers and other supporters of foreign aid to Central America fumed over the weekend following President Donald Trump’s announcement Friday that he will cut hundreds of millions in assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas), chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, called the move “short-sighted and flawed,” and cautioned that it could inflame what he called a humanitarian crisis at the border. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said it was “foreign policy by tweet” and demonstrated Trump’s ignorance of the funds’ purpose.

Several House Democrats were visiting El Salvador when they heard the news. The group, which included Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs and Judiciary committees, respectively, ripped Trump’s approach in a joint written statement as “entirely counterproductive."

The Trump administration has intensified its Continue reading “Democrats fume as Trump cuts Central American aid”

Here’s what’s driving the ‘crisis’ at the border


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The border crisis that President Donald Trump used to justify declaring a national emergency was never real, but a different crisis at the border is now starting to escalate as immigration officials hold hundreds of parents and children in makeshift facilities, including a parking lot.

During a press conference in El Paso, Texas, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan argued Wednesday that a surge of incoming Central American migrants has pushed the U.S. immigration system to a “breaking point” and that all available resources should be devoted to manage it.

But Democrats and advocates contend that the Trump administration’s response is exacerbating the problems.

Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), a freshman lawmaker who represents El Paso, fumed Thursday over the border situation — which she also described as a crisis — during an interview after leaving the House floor.

“They knew that the numbers would increase,” she said. “Why Continue reading “Here’s what’s driving the ‘crisis’ at the border”

White House slow-walking aid to Central America


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Hundreds of millions of dollars in aid that Congress approved for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras is stalled at the White House budget office, an impasse that threatens ongoing efforts to stem the influx of asylum seekers from the region.

The holdup: Administration officials aren’t sure whether President Donald Trump wants to withhold the funds for these countries to punish them for the northward flow of migrants.

The money — a significant portion of roughly $627 million that Congress allocated for Central America one year ago — has been in limbo for months at the White House Office of Management and Budget, according to three people with knowledge of the process.

“We have paralysis moving this funding through the Northern Triangle because people don’t know what the president wants,” one State Department official said. "No one wants to do something that looks like they’re not following his guidance.” The Continue reading “White House slow-walking aid to Central America”

Supreme Court rules for Trump on detaining immigrants


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The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the federal government can detain immigrants indefinitely for past crimes, even if they have been previously released.

In a 5-4 decision that fell along ideological lines, the high court reversed lower court rulings that found immigrants could only be subject to mandatory detention without a bond hearing if they were detained promptly upon their release from custody.

The ruling provides President Donald Trump more authority in his efforts to arrest, detain and deport immigrants convicted of crimes. Trump administration officials frequently lament the inability to remove immigrants due to court rulings around the country.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote in a 26-page majority opinion that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit — a popular Trump target — incorrectly interpreted the federal statute that outlines procedures for mandatory detention.

Alito said “neither the statute’s text nor its structure“ supported the contention Continue reading “Supreme Court rules for Trump on detaining immigrants”

Trump may send volunteer force to border


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The Trump administration may send a volunteer emergency response team to assist with security and humanitarian efforts at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to four current and former officials briefed on the discussions.

With border arrest numbers on the rise, the Trump administration has been “casting about” for ways to devote additional resources to stem the flow of migrants, according to an official of the Department of Homeland Security who is familiar with the discussions.

“My question is, do they actually need more people on the border or are they just trying to make a statement here?’” asked Craig Fugate, who was FEMA administrator during the Obama administration.

A second DHS official similarly questioned the administration’s motives for considering the force. It “makes eminent sense for a hurricane,” this person said, but not for the border. “All of this is just to buttress the administration’s claim that there’s Continue reading “Trump may send volunteer force to border”

Judge orders more reunifications following Trump family separation policy


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A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to reunite a larger pool of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The decision could pose considerable difficulty for the administration in locating and reconnecting children and parents split apart before and after the launch of President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” border strategy.

That policy, which ran publicly from April until June, called for all suspected border crossers — including parents and asylum seekers — to face prosecution for illegal entry. As a result, thousands of families were separated, although the total remains unknown.

The order issued Friday by San Diego-based U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw will keep the administration on the defensive over the separations, a controversial practice that experts argue can result in lifelong damage to a child’s health. The judge temporary stayed the decision to allow further debate in court about how families could be Continue reading “Judge orders more reunifications following Trump family separation policy”

Nielsen argues border in crisis: ‘This chain of human misery is getting worse’


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Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen argued in stark terms Wednesday that illegal immigration has caused a humanitarian crisis that necessitates construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In opening remarks to the House Homeland Security Committee, Nielsen called the current state of border security a “humanitarian catastrophe” and described the border as a conduit for criminals, drugs, and human trafficking.

“This chain of human misery is getting worse,” she said, citing recent statistics that show a spike in border arrests, a metric used to estimate crossings.

Border Patrol arrested 66,450 migrants at the southwest border in February, the highest single-month total since March 2009. Since October, monthly arrests have averaged 53,600, the highest rate since 2008 but still far below arrest rates in the 1990s and early 2000s.

At the hearing today, Nielsen will stand at the center of a heated border security debate. President Donald Trump Continue reading “Nielsen argues border in crisis: ‘This chain of human misery is getting worse’”