U.S. Citizens Married To Immigrants Are Blocked From Getting Stimulus Checks

The coronavirus stimulus package was meant to put emergency spending money into the economy, issuing a $1,200 check to most Americans that they can use to pay their bills in this time of hardship, and help stimulate businesses in the process. Now, though, we’re learning about all the strings that are coming attached to that hastily passed package — including the fact that U.S. citizens aren’t eligible to receive the money if they’re married and filed taxes jointly with an immigrant who doesn’t have a social security number.

The LA Times reports that there are more than a million Americans in this position across the country. This is just one more way the Trump administration has found to attack immigrants, no matter how they arrived in this country.

According to the Times, the stimulus bill doesn’t just pass over immigrants who don’t pay taxes. Any immigrant without a social security number — even if they have a tax ID and pay U.S. taxes — can render their entire family ineligible to receive any money.

This isn’t about documented versus undocumented immigration, either. Immigrants to the U.S. receive a social security number only when they receive a work permit, which means there are a whole host of visas immigrants can use to come to the country perfectly legally (student or fiancé visas, for example) that won’t get them a work permit or a social security card. For people on non-work visas, it’s impossible to obtain a social security number until obtaining permanent resident status, which is a whole other process that takes a ton of paperwork, a ton of money, and months or even years of waiting, depending on how backed up the system was at the time they applied. The LA Times interviewed a number of people who are in the middle of the months-long process of applying for a legal green card, whose families won’t receive stimulus checks because of it.

For the Trump administration (and, let’s be real, Republican lawmakers) to deny families much-needed stimulus money for this reason is nothing but another baseless attack on people who come to live in the U.S., no matter how they do it.

For all their spouting that they have no problem with immigration as long as it’s done “the right way,” this stimulus check provision is proof that that’s not what Trump and GOP lawmakers think at all. They just hate immigrants, and now, by default, American citizens who associate with them.

In response to this, California has announced its own stimulus plan, offering grants of up to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for families, meant to help immigrants without legal status get through this crisis. But immigrants who do have legal status, but aren’t able to work in the U.S.? The government is leaving those people (and their families) out of help, and it’s heartbreaking.

[Yahoo]

Trump claims he will temporarily suspend immigration into US due to coronavirus fears

President Donald Trump said late Monday night he will sign an executive order temporarily suspending immigration to the United States as the nation battles the health and economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!” he tweeted.

It’s unclear what mechanism he will use to suspend immigration, how long such a suspension could last or what effect this will have on the operation of US border crossings and on those who already hold green cards.

The White House declined to provide further information on the executive order Monday evening.

The tweet comes as the administration seeks to reopen parts of the country from the coronavirus shutdown through a phased approach, but it’s also a continuation of the President’s 2016 campaign promise to slow immigration.

Trump has repeatedly touted his decision to halt travel from China and Europe as a means of blunting the spread of coronavirus in the United States.

The tweet also comes hours after Trump directed Admiral Brett Giroir, the assistant Health and Human Services secretary for health, to provide an update on border wall construction after he briefed reporters on coronavirus testing.

[CNN]

Trump Just Called DACA Recipients ‘Hardened Criminals’ Hours Before Their Supreme Court Case

Hours before the Supreme Court would hear arguments in a case to determine the legal status of nearly 700,000 immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, President Trump tweeted a message for them.

“Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from ‘angels.’ Some are very tough, hardened criminals,” wrote Trump, referring to immigrants who’ve benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.

The missive came as protestors and activists swarmed the Supreme Court ahead of its hearing on the Obama-era law that gives certain immigrants temporary legal status and a work permit, which they can renew every two years. Recipients need to have come to the U.S. before age 16, graduated high school (or be enrolled), and passed a background check.

Trump’s Tuesday morning tweet echoes the language he frequently uses to describe immigrants. But according to a 2017 report from the libertarian think tank CATO Institute, DACA recipients have lower incarceration rates than people born in the U.S. And to be eligible for the program, applicants can’t have been convicted of a felony — or even a string of misdemeanors.

After he took office, Trump initially waffled on whether his administration would preserve the policy. In February of 2017, Trump called DACA beneficiaries “absolutely incredible kids.” But facing pressure from immigration hard-liners, Trump swiftly changed his tune. By September of that year, he announced that the Department of Homeland Security would end the program completely.

That fight has now arrived at the Supreme Court, which will decide whether it’s lawful for the Trump administration to end the program. Nearly 700,000 immigrants rely on DACA to live and work in the U.S., the vast majority of which are women under the age of 25.

Despite the fact that his own administration is pushing to dismantle the program, Trump has punted the issue to Democrats in Congress. He added in his tweet that, if the Supreme Court rules in his administration’s favor, the White House will work with Democrats on a plan to keep DACA beneficiaries in the U.S.

“President Obama said he had no legal right to sign order, but would anyway. If Supreme Court remedies with overturn, a deal will be made with Dems for them to stay!” Trump wrote.

[VICE]

Trump approves plan for record low number of refugee admissions

President Trump has approved a plan to reduce the cap for refugee admissions to the country for fiscal 2020 to 18,000, the lowest level on record since the program began more than three decades ago. 

In a statement announcing the move this weekend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “the core of the Trump Administration’s foreign policy is a commitment to make decisions based on reality, not wishes, and to drive optimal outcomes based on concrete facts.” 

Pompeo went on to say that “this year’s determination on refugee admissions does just that, even as we sustain our longstanding commitment to help vulnerable populations and our leadership as the world’s most generous nation.” 

The plan, which was announced in late September, has drawn pushback from Democratic lawmakers, including governors who have said they will continue to welcome refugees to their states despite the steep reduction.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) said last month that her state is a “sanctuary state” and that Oregon will continue to “stand with refugees” in light of the executive order issued by the Trump administration, which allows states to turn away refugees. 

“These are people who cannot return home because they fear for their lives and their families. And to make matters worse, the Trump administration wants to slash the number of refugees our country will welcome this coming year to 18,000, the lowest ever on record,” she said then.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) said in a letter to Trump last month that his state will continue to accept refugees fleeing violence and added that he was “dismayed” by the administration’s plans to drastically reduce the refugee cap to 18,000 — a significant jump from former President Obama’s proposed cap of 116,000 refugees in 2016.

“To reject refugees outright emboldens the message of those who seek to inspire hatred by saying that we, as Americans, do not have compassion or care for specific groups of people in the world facing persecution or worse,” Wolf wrote in the letter.

According to The New York Times, under the new move by the Trump administration, only 5,000 people who wish to flee their home countries for fear of persecution due to their religion will be allowed admission into the U.S. as part of the refugee program.

Fewer than 2,000 Central Americans will reportedly be allowed admission under the program going forward as well as 4,000 Iraqis who aided the United States military during the Iraq War.

The new cap for Iraqi refugees is reportedly less than half of the 9,829 who were admitted under the Obama administration in fiscal 2014. Under the Trump administration during fiscal 2019, just 153 Iraqi refugees whose applications were given high priority were admitted into the country. 

[The Hill]

Trump says US is building a wall in Colorado

President Trump declared Wednesday that the U.S. is building a border wall in Colorado despite the fact that the Western state does not sit on the U.S-Mexico border.

“You know why we’re going to win New Mexico? Because they want safety on their border. And they didn’t have it,” Trump said during a speech at the Shale Insight conference in Pittsburgh.

“And we’re building a wall on the border of New Mexico,” he continued. “And we’re building a wall in Colorado. We’re building a beautiful wall, a big one that really works that you can’t get over, you can’t get under.”

He added, “And we’re building a wall in Texas. And we’re not building a wall in Kansas, but they get the benefit of the walls we just mentioned. And Louisiana’s incredible.”

Colorado sits directly on top of New Mexico, and aside from Trump’s comments, there are no reports that his administration is building a wall in the state.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

There is a piece of the border wall being built along the Colorado River in Arizona, which shares a border with Mexico.

Lawmakers and other officials knocked Trump for his comments, with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) tweeting a photo of a U.S. map with a Sharpie outline along the Colorado border.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) tagged New Mexico Sens. Martin Heinrich (D) and Tom Udall (D) in a tweet, saying, “Do one of you want to break it to @realDonaldTrump that Colorado’s border is with New Mexico, not Mexico…or should I?” 

George Conway, husband to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and an outspoken Trump critic, tweeted that “we can confidently say that Mexico is never going to pay for a wall with Colorado.”

[The Hill]

Trump suggested shooting Hispanic migrants in the legs

President Trump suggested having migrants shot in their legs during a March meeting with White House advisers in the Oval Office, The New York Times reported Tuesday. 

The Times’ report is based on interviews with more than a dozen White House administration officials involved in the events the week of the meeting. The article is adapted from a forthcoming book by reporters Mike Shear and Julie Hirschfield Davis, titled “Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration.” It will be published Oct. 8. 

The aides told the Times Trump suggested to advisors during the Oval Office meeting that they should shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. 

The suggestion came after Trump had publicly suggested shooting migrants if they threw rocks, the Times reports. Trump had made the suggestion about shooting migrants that threw rocks during a speech in November

Officials who spoke to the Times also recall Trump often suggesting fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators. 

Trump also “wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh,” the Times reports. 

When advisors told Trump some of his suggestions were not allowed, he reportedly became frustrated. 

“You are making me look like an idiot!” Trump shouted, according to the Times, citing multiple officials in the room’s description. “I ran on this. It’s my issue.”

The meeting was set for 30-minutes and the Times reports it lasted more than an hour. Officials in the room included then Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Customs and Border Protection Chief Kevin McAleenan, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Steven Miller, according to the Times. 

A White House spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

[The Hill]

White House fires DHS general counsel

The White House has fired John Mitnick, who served as the general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), The New York Timesreported on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the department confirmed Mitnick’s exit to the news publication, saying: “We thank John for this service, and we wish him well.”

The official also told the paper that Chad Mizelle, an associate counsel to the president, will fill the position in Mitnick’s place.

Mitnick, who was nominated to the post by President Trump in 2017 and confirmed by the Senate the following year, was the department’s fifth general counsel.

His reported firing comes as DHS has continued to see a series of top aides and officials leave the agency amid tensions with the White House over its handling of immigration policy in recent months.

The news comes months after former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsenresigned from her post following speculation that her position was in jeopardy as the president grew frustrated over the situation at the border.

In the months following her exit, other top staffers, including Andrew Meehan, who served as top aide to acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, resigned from the department as tensions between it and the White House escalated.

The White House and DHS did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hill.

[The Hill]

Trump dismisses idea of allowing Bahamians into U.S. after Hurricane Dorian

President Donald Trump on Monday downplayed the idea of allowing Bahamians fleeing the destruction of Hurricane Dorian into the United States on humanitarian grounds, hours after his acting Customs and Border Protection chief said it was worth considering.

“We have to be very careful. Everybody needs totally proper documentation because the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas that weren’t supposed to be there,” Trump said on the White House South Lawn before departing for a campaign rally in North Carolina, where he also planned to survey Dorian damage.

“I don’t want to allow people that weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States, including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers.”

Earlier Monday, acting Customs and Border Protection chief Mark Morgan said during a press briefing that while there has not been any formal grant of temporary protected status, or TPS, for Bahamians affected by Dorian, it was not something he had ruled out. TPS provides legal status to migrants from countries affected by war or natural disaster and allows them to live and work in the U.S. for a set period of time.

Morgan said he had yet to discuss it with Trump but said, “I think it would be appropriate to have that circumstance. History shows we’ve done that before.” He added that if it’s a “lengthy time” before residents of the Bahamas can get back on their feet, he expected the discussion to happen.

Instead of allowing Bahamians into this country — which Trump said is “also recovering from the hurricane” — Trump suggested those struggling in devastated areas of the Bahamas could go to the “large sections” of their country that were not hit.

The conflicting stances came a day after more than 100 Bahamians were forced off a ferry boat before it could reach Florida, according to two U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.

Those removed from the boat were supposed to be taken to the Bahamas capital of Nassau first to get visas, a process that authorities in the United States have been coordinating with the Bahamas government on to ensure is done correctly, Customs and Border Protection officials said in a statement on Monday.

The ferry boat operator had not coordinated the evacuation with U.S. authorities first, the officials said.

Customs and Border Protection said in a statement on Monday that it is “supporting the humanitarian mission with interagency partners in the Bahamas” following Dorian, one of the strongest Atlantic storms ever recorded.

“CBP continues to process the arrivals of passengers evacuating from the Bahamas according to established policy and procedures — as demonstrated by the nearly 1,500 Hurricane Dorian survivors who arrived at the Port of Palm Beach, Fla., aboard a cruise ship on Saturday and were processed without incident,” the agency said.

The agency added it was “notified of a vessel preparing to embark an unknown number of passengers in Freeport and requested that the operator of the vessel coordinate with U.S. and Bahamian government officials in Nassau before departing The Bahamas.” The agency said that it has already processed nearly 1,500 storm survivors at the Port of Palm Beach, Fla., aboard a cruise ship on Saturday.

Video of the evacuees being ordered off the boat was first shared by Miami’s WSVN reporter Brian Entin late Sunday.

Anyone arriving in the U.S. from another country needs to first meet with a Customs and Border Protection officer at official ports of entry and must have valid identity and travel documents, the agency’s statement said.

Dorian has killed at least 44 people in the Bahamas, according to the country’s health minister. The storm hit the islands as a Category 5 last Sunday and Monday, leaving tens of thousands of residents homeless. It then slammed North Carolina’s Outer Banks Islands before pounding Canada’s Atlantic Coast.

[NBC News]

Trump says administration looking ‘seriously’ at ending birthright citizenship

President Trump on Wednesday said his administration is once again seriously considering an executive order to end birthright citizenship months after several lawmakers cast doubt on his ability to take such action.

“We’re looking at that very seriously,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House for Kentucky. “Birthright citizenship, where you have a baby on our land — walk over the border, have a baby, congratulations, the baby’s now a U.S. citizen.”

“We are looking at birthright citizenship very seriously,” he added. “It’s, frankly, ridiculous.”

The president proposed ending the practice that grants citizenship to those born in the United States during his 2016 presidential campaign. He revived the idea last year, saying he would sign an executive order to enact the change.

Numerous lawmakers, including several Republicans, quickly pushed back on the idea and argued Trump lacked the authority to make such a change using an executive order. They cited that birthright citizenship is a right enshrined under the 14th Amendment.

Trump responded to the criticism by saying birthright citizenship would be ended “one way or another.”

The president has sought various ways to crack down on illegal and legal immigration throughout his presidency.

His administration enacted and later reversed a “zero tolerance” policy that led to the separation of thousands of migrant families; Trump has sought changes to asylum laws to keep refugees in Mexico while they wait to be processed; and the White House last week rolled out a rule that would make it more difficult for some immigrants to obtain green cards.

The Trump administration announced earlier Wednesday it would unveil a new rule that would allow migrant families to be held indefinitely, ending a procedure known as the Flores Settlement Agreement that requires children to be held no longer than 20 days.

[The Hill]

Trump officials unveil rule allowing indefinite migrant family detentions

The Trump administration on Wednesday said it would unveil a new rule that would allow migrant families to be held indefinitely, ending a procedure known as the Flores Settlement Agreement that requires children to be held no longer than 20 days.

The decision is a momentous change in detainee policy that the administration has sought as a disincentive for people crossing the border. 

“This rule allows the federal government to enforce immigration laws as passed by Congress,” acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said in a statement.

Under the new system, immigrant families could be held for the duration of their court proceedings, which officials claim could be resolved within three months.

McAleenan said the new rule takes aim at a 2015 “reinterpretation of the Flores Settlement Agreement” in which a California district court ruled accompanied minors are subject to the same detention limits as unaccompanied minors.

The 2015 change, McAleenan said, “has generally forced the government to release families into the country after just 20 days, incentivizing illegal entry, adding to the growing backlog in immigration proceedings, and often delaying immigration proceedings for many years.”

The Trump administration has frequently blamed Flores for the spike in family border crossings over the last few years, claiming the promise of eventual release creates an incentive to enter the country illegally. On Wednesday, it defended the change as closing a “loophole exploited by human smugglers.”

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), however, panned the move, saying it will “put even more stress on our immigration system and add to the chaos the Administration continues to create.”

“The Trump Administration has managed to find a new low in its continued despicable treatment of migrant children and families. Terminating the Flores settlement is illegal and goes against our longstanding American values about the treatment of children,” Thompson said in a statement.

The new rule would establish new standards for conditions in detention centers while simultaneously removing the 20-day maximum detention limit that has existed since the original 1997 court ruling.

“Large numbers of alien families are entering illegally across the southern border, hoping that they will be released into the interior rather than detained during their removal proceedings,” the two agencies that created the rule, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement.

“Promulgating this rule and seeking termination of the FSA [Flores Settlement Agreement] are important steps towards an immigration system that is humane and operates consistently with the intent of Congress.”

The rule will be published in the Federal Register on Friday and will be effective 60 days later — if it is approved by the courts.

However, the process is likely to take significantly longer.

“Obviously, there will be litigation, as you know, all new immigration rules have faced litigation in my career,” said McAleenan.

Under the terms of the 1997 consent decree that eventually led to the 20-day limit in Flores, the regulation must be approved by Judge Dolly M. Gee of United States District Court for the Central District of California, who heard the original case.

Gee, who was appointed by President Obama, denied the administration’s request last year to extend family detentions after a 2015 ruling that officials could not hold unaccompanied children in unlicensed facilities longer than 20 days.

The upcoming litigation means the proposed rule could be significantly delayed or sidetracked in the courts.

“This rule contemplates terminating the Flores Settlement Agreement. And actually, there’s a legal proceeding just to do that coming out of the implementation. So we do expect litigation but we do hope to be able to implement as soon as possible,” said McAleenan.

Trump officials have sought to address Gee’s concerns with indefinite detention by creating a federal government licensing regime which includes public audits of facilities conducted by a third party.

And McAleenan painted a rosy picture of family detention units under the new rule.

“For example, the first family residential center in Berks, Pa., has a suite for each family [to be] housed separately. Furniture, bedding, towels, clothing and toiletries are provided,” said McAleenan.

He added the facilities would include medical care and educational wings, as well as leisure activities for detainees.

But DHS has bed space for 2,500 to 3,000 individuals in family units at current funding levels, a fraction of the number of Central Americans who claim asylum every month.

McAleenan blamed Congress, where Democrats worked to limit the administration’s capability to detain immigrants, for the limited facilities.

“Just a quick reminder, we did ask Congress for additional family beds in the 2019 budget process and the supplemental, and we did not receive them. So I think that’s important to recall,” said McAleenan.

Additional legal challenges to the rule are likely from immigration advocacy groups.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has fought several Trump administration immigration policies, slammed the rule as “yet another cruel attack on children.”

“The government should NOT be jailing kids, and certainly shouldn’t be seeking to put more kids in jail for longer,” the group tweeted.

“This is yet another cruel attack on children, who this administration has targeted again and again with its anti-immigrant policies.”

McAleenan said the “multihundred-page rule” would preserve the original intent of Flores, granting asylum-seeking families a safe place to live while their cases go through immigration courts.

The rule comes amid a flood of federal action to limit both legal and illegal immigration, and another lengthy rule to submit documented immigrants to a “public charge” test that’s been shown to be rife with inconsistencies.

That rule would make a receipt of public benefits, like food stamps or Medicaid, a negative factor when considering a noncitizen’s application for a visa or green card.

Earlier in the summer, the administration announced a rule expanding authority for expedited deportation, where immigration cases are not reviewed by judges, from within 100 miles of the border to anywhere in the U.S.

It also promulgated a rule which would deny asylum claims for immigrants who pass through another country before reaching the southern border.

All of those moves, which experts say would severely limit immigration, face legal challenges.

[The Hill]

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