Scoop: Trump to target “birth tourism” in new immigration fight

Will be interesting to see if this proposal proceeds and, if so, the inevitable implementation and court challenges:

The Trump administration has a new target on the immigration front — pregnant women visiting from other countries — with plans as early as this week to roll out a new rule cracking down on “birth tourism,” three administration officials told Axios.

Why it matters: Trump has threatened to end birthright citizenshipand railed against immigrant “anchor babies.” The new rule would be one of the first tangible steps to test how much legal authority the administration has to prevent foreigners from taking advantage of the 14th Amendment’s protection of citizenship for anyone born in the U.S.

  • “This change is intended to address the national security and law enforcement risks associated with birth tourism, including criminal activity associated with the birth tourism industry,” a State Department official told Axios.
  • The regulation is also part of the administration’s broader efforts to intensify the vetting process for visas, according to another senior administration official.

The big picture: “Birth tourists” often come to the U.S. from China, Russia and Nigeria, according to the AP.

  • There’s no official count of babies born to foreign visitors in the U.S., while the immigration restrictionist group Center for Immigration Studies — which has close ties to Trump administration immigration officials — puts estimates at around 33,000 every year.

How the new regulation would work: It would alter the requirements for B visas (or visitor visas), giving State Department officials the authority to deny foreigners the short-term business and tourism visas if they believe the process is being used to facilitate automatic citizenship.

  • It’s unclear yet how the rule would be enforced — whether officials would be directed to consider pregnancy or the country of the woman’s citizenship in determining whether to grant a visa.
  • Consular officers who issue passports and visas “are remarkably skilled at sussing out true versus false claims,” the senior official said.
  • “The underlying practical issue is that very few people who give birth in the U.S. got a visa for that specific purpose. Most people already have visas and come in later,” according to Jeffrey Gorsky, former chief legal adviser in the State Department visa office.

This is but one step in the administration’s plans to make it harder for people from other countries to benefit from birthright citizenship.

  • “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” the senior official said. “Just the legal recognition that this is improper and wrong and not allowed is a significant step forward.”
  • The plans to address the use of B visas for birth tourism were included in the latest version of the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.
  • Immigration experts expect there to be a similar rule for Customs and Border Protection to go along with the State Department’s regulation.

What to watch: Most of Trump’s major immigration moves have been met with lawsuits. If the regulation leaves it to officers’ discretion to ensure that B visas aren’t used for birth tourism, it would be difficult to challenge in court, according to Lynden Melmed, an attorney and former chief counsel at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

  • “State Department officials have all the discretion in the world to deny people visas,” said Sarah Pierce of the Migration Policy Institute. Foreign nationals who are outside the U.S. and have not yet received visas “don’t have a lot of legal standing.”
  • But specific restrictions that could keep out non-birth tourism visitors — such as pregnant women coming to the U.S. for business, etc. — would be legally questionable, according to Melmed and Gorsky.

Source: Scoop: Trump to target “birth tourism” in new immigration fight

After Stephen Miller’s white nationalist beliefs outouted, Latinos ask, ‘where’s the GOP outrage?’

Good question but yet not surprising:

It wasn’t the content of White House adviser Stephen Miller’s leaked emails that shocked Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat from El Paso, Texas, but the silence of her Republican colleagues that has followed.

Miller is the architect of President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies that have separated children from parents,forced people seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait in Mexico under squalid conditions, instituted the Muslim ban and poured money from the military into border wall construction. The administration is currently under fire for the deaths of migrant children and teens who have died while in government custody.

In a trove of emails provided to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group, Miller cited and promoted white nationalist ideologies of white genocide, immigrants as criminals and eugenics, all of which were once considered fringe and extreme. White nationalists embrace white supremacist and white separatist views.

Three weeks after the emails were made public, Miller still is in the White House. Only Democrats have called on the White House to rid itself of white nationalism.

“It really has been jarring (that) the president’s enablers and Republicans have not stood up and said, Mr. President, this is unacceptable,” Escobar said in an interview. “I would implore my Republican colleagues to join us in calling for Stephen Miller’s resignation,” she said.

MIller’s ideology has wide reach, consequences

Escobar represents El Paso, where a gunman opened fire in a Walmart on Aug. 3, killing 22 people and injuring 26.

Police have said the suspect in the El Paso shootings told them his target was “Mexicans.” They also said he posted an anti-immigrant, anti-Latino screed that stated the attack was a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Some of the language in the screed is consideredsimilar to words used by the president and state leaders.

After the shootings, Trump condemned white supremacy and said “hate has no place in America” but did not mention that Latinos were targeted or that the victims were predominantly Latino in his speech.

Miller is more than helping reshape immigration policy.

With Miller’s assistance, the administration is “doing an end run around Congress to dismantle every aspect of the immigration system” through executive actions and gutting regulations and replacing them with their own, said Doug Rand, an immigration policy adviser in the Obama White House and cofounder of Boundless Immigration, which uses technology to help immigrants obtain green cards and citizenship.

“Believe it or not, it’s possible to be to the right of President Trump on immigration, and that’s where Stephen Miller has spent his whole career,” Rand said. “He idealizes the 1924 law that banned immigrants from just about everywhere but Western Europe, and he is pulling every lever he can find throughout the federal government to accomplish the same outcome.”

Escobar has asked the Department of Homeland Security to audit its policies to determine which were influenced by Miller “to show the motivations of the administration’s immigration policies and shed light on the people that help craft them.”

Separately, 107 members of Congress signed a letter to Trump demanding he fire Miler.

“A documented white nationalist has no place in any administration, and especially not in such an influential position,” the Democratic congressional members said in the letter.

There also are several petitions calling for Miller’s resignation, including one started by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that had more than 130,000 signatures as of this week.

Miller previously worked for former Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. — who served as Trump’s first attorney general — before joining the Trump campaign.

More tolerance for intolerance?

That he persists reflects a change in what the country and political leaders are willing to tolerate under a Trump administration.

At the start of the year, House Republicans removed Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, from committee assignments after he said in an interview with The New York Times: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”

When he said in 2013 that young immigrants had calves the size of cantaloupes, King drew condemnation from throughout the party, including from Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and former Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both Florida Republicans. King has been repeatedly re-elected and is a Trump ally.

Diaz-Balart, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the three most senior Latino Republicans in Congress, either didn’t respond or declined to comment on the calls for Miller’s resignation.

Rubio and Diaz-Balart, both from immigrant families, have a moderate record on immigration. Miller even targeted Rubio in emails to get negative stories written about him by Breitbart. Rubio’s response has been that he knew Miller wasn’t a fan of his immigration policies.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment. The White House has defended Miller in previous statements to media, raising Miller’s Jewish background in that defense.

Ocasio-Cortez dismissed that defense in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes saying “the color of your skin and the identity you are born with does not absolve you of moral wrong.”

“I don’t think any public servant should weaponize their identity in order to advance white nationalist ideas. Period. Punto. I don’t care who you are,” Ocasio-Cortez said. Having Miller at the helm of U.S. immigration policy means policies “will become more fascistic and we cannot allow that to be us,” she said.

A rise in violent, white supremacist extremism

In his emails, Miller makes clear the esteem he holds for another period in the country, when President Calvin Coolidge signed the Immigration Act of 1924 that severely restricted immigration from certain parts of the world. Coolidge is admired by white nationalists, according to the SPLC.

The act was the nation’s first comprehensive restrictive immigration policy that established the Border Patrol.

After being told that Fox radio host Mark Levin has said there should be no immigration for several years “for assimilation purposes,” Miller responds:

“Like Coolidge did. Kellyanne Conway poll says that is exactly what most Americans want after 40 years of non-stop record arrivals,” according to emails posted by SPLC. Conway is an adviser to Trump.

In referencing the 1924 act, Miller is “harkening to an era of racial violence,” said Monica Muñoz Martinez, author of “The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas.”

FBI statistics released in November showed an increase in hate crimes and violence against Latinos.

In a September report, the Department of Homeland Security said while the country still faces threats from foreign terrorist organizations, “unfortunately, the severity and number of domestic threats have also grown.”

The agency said there has been a “concerning” rise in attacks by people motivated by racially and ethnically motivated violent extremism, including white supremacist violent extremism, anti-government and anti-authority violent extremism and other ideologies.

White supremacist violent extremists can generally be characterized by hatred for immigrants and ethnic minorities, often combining these prejudices with virulent anti-Semitism or anti-Muslim views, the DHS report states.

In a Sept. 6, 2015, email, Miller suggested Breitbart write about “The Camp of the Saints,” SPLC reported. The novel’s theme is the end of white civilization by migrants who arrive from India.

Kathleen Belew, an expert on the white-power movement, said in an interview with NPR that Miller’s citation of the book is “clear evidence that this is a person who is immersed in trafficking in white nationalist ideology.”

“Voters across the country, constituents across the country who see their leaders standing in silence in the face of unprecedented racism and bigotry at the highest levels of government in our generation, they need to look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves: Is this acceptable?” Escobar said.

Source: After Stephen Miller’s white nationalist beliefs outouted, Latinos ask, ‘where’s the GOP outrage?’

How McKinsey Helped the Trump Administration Carry Out Its Immigration Policies

Yet another illustration of McKinsey’s ethnical and moral blindspots (not as egregious as holding their conference in Xinjiang nor Huawei’s role in surveillance tech Huawei founder defends ‘seamless surveillance’ technology, dismisses criticism it enables human-rights abuses):

Just days after he took office in 2017, President Trump set out to make good on his campaign pledge to halt illegal immigration. In a pair of executive orders, he ordered “all legally available resources” to be shifted to border detention facilities, and called for hiring 10,000 new immigration officers.

The logistical challenges were daunting, but as luck would have it, Immigration and Customs Enforcement already had a partner on its payroll: McKinsey & Company, an international consulting firm brought on under the Obama administration to help engineer an “organizational transformation” in the ICE division charged with deporting migrants who are in the United States unlawfully.

ICE quickly redirected McKinsey toward helping the agency figure out how to execute the White House’s clampdown on illegal immigration.

But the money-saving recommendations the consultants came up with made some career ICE workers uncomfortable. They proposed cuts in spending on food for migrants, as well as on medical care and supervision of detainees, according to interviews with people who worked on the project for both ICE and McKinsey and 1,500 pages of documents obtained from the agency after ProPublica filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Principles of Trump University Now Apply to Our Immigration Policy

Speaks for itself:

Let’s say you’re a highly motivated immigrant kid from India who comes (legally) to Michigan. You want to study, say, computer science. So you run into another student from India who tells you about this place called the University of Farmington, where you can get your degree. The cost is relatively cheap as American colleges go: $12,000 a year, plus fees. This sounds great, you think.

Then, one day, after you’ve paid your money, the gang from ICE shows up, busts you for immigration violations, keeps all the money you paid for your classes, and ships you back to India. Or, they offer you a chance to pitch this university to other people in your same situation, people who get deported later. Then you get busted for fraud and sent to jail. But at least you’re still in the United States for a while, so there’s that.

Welcome to United States immigration policy in 2019. From the Detroit Free Press:

“A total of about 250 students have now been arrested since January on immigration violations by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as part of a sting operation by federal agents … The students had arrived legally in the U.S. on student visas, but since the University of Farmington was later revealed to be a creation of federal agents, they lost their immigration status after it was shut down in January. The school was … staffed with undercover agents posing as university officials. Out of the approximately 250 students arrested on administrative charges, “nearly 80% were granted voluntary departure and departed the United States,” the Detroit office of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) told the Free Press in a statement Tuesday.”

Plot twist No. 1 coming.

“ICE said in March that 161 students had been arrested, which has now increased to about 250. Meanwhile, seven of the eight recruiters who were criminally charged for trying to recruit students have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced in Detroit, including Prem Rampeesa, 27, last week. The remaining one is to be sentenced in January. Rampeesa was sentenced Nov, 19 to one year in prison by Judge Gershwin Drain of U.S. District Court in Detroit. With time already served of 295 days, he should be out in about two to three months, and will then be deported to India, said his attorney Wanda Cal. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit visa fraud and harbor aliens for profit. …

Rampeesa arrived in the U.S. legally a few years ago on a student visa and earned in 2016 a master’s degree in computer science at Northwestern Polytechnic University. But the university later lost its accreditation, which put his immigration status in jeopardy. He had spent $40,000 in tuition and fees for his studies at the university.

“He was desperate to find a way to stay in the United States,” Rampeesa’s attorney, Cal, wrote in his sentencing memo. He wanted to get a Ph.D. in computer science, she said. Rampeesa then met Sama, who recruited him to attend the University of Farmington and told him he could get tuition credits if he recruited other students, Cal said. Sama and Rampeesa were working with people they thought were university officials, but were actually undercover agents for the Department of Homeland Security.”

First, you convince some students that your university is real so you can bust them. Then you convince other students that they should help you recruit still other students for your university. Then you bust this second group of students and the people you entrapped to entrap them. Lovely.

And, of course, there’s the money, which ended up God knows where. Maybe in the university endowment.

“Emails obtained by the Free Press earlier this year showed how the fake university attracted students to the university… The U.S. “trapped the vulnerable people who just wanted to maintain (legal immigration) status,” Rahul Reddy, a Texas attorney who represented or advised some of the students arrested, told the Free Press this week. “They preyed upon on them.” The fake university is believed to have collected millions of dollars from the unsuspecting students. … “They made a lot of money,” Reddy said of the U.S. government.”

Of course, the prosecutors held the students at their fake university liable for stealing their own money.

“Attorneys for ICE and the Department of Justice maintain that the students should have known it was not a legitimate university because it did not have classes in a physical location. Some CPT programs have classes combined with work programs at companies. “Their true intent could not be clearer,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Helms wrote in a sentencing memo this month for Rampeesa, one of the eight recruiters, of the hundreds of students enrolled. “While ‘enrolled’ at the University, one hundred percent of the foreign citizen students never spent a single second in a classroom. If it were truly about obtaining an education, the University would not have been able to attract anyone, because it had no teachers, classes, or educational services.”

Of course, the whole scam was set up as yet another vehicle to restrict immigration to this country, and to delegitimize programs already in place. In related news, you all are still paying Stephen Miller’s salary.

“Baker wrote that “immigration and visa programs have been hot-button topics in the United States for years and national scrutiny has only been increasing. Fairly or unfairly, Rampeesa’s conduct casts a shadow on the foreign-student visa program in general, and it raises questions as to whether the potential for abuse threatens to outweigh the benefits.” Reddy said, though, that in some cases, students who transferred out from the University of Farmington after realizing they didn’t have classes on-site, were still arrested.”

And thus were the basic principles behind Trump University enshrined in federal law enforcement.

Source: The Principles of Trump University Now Apply to Our Immigration Policy

Emails Outline Anti-Immigration Group’s Connection to Stephen Miller

Not a surprise:

Stephen Miller, President Trump’s hard-line immigration adviser, has long relied on data produced by the Center for Immigration Studies, a right-leaning think tank, to shape policy at the White House. Shortly after Mr. Trump was elected, Mr. Miller became well-known in the West Wing for putting printouts of studies published by the group on the president’s desk.

A new set of emails first published by a civil rights advocacy group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and shared with The New York Times illustrates the degree to which Mr. Miller used the work of the think tank, which advocates restricting immigration, to shape coverage at Breitbart News, a conservative news site, while he served as a communications aide to Jeff Sessions, the former Republican senator from Alabama.

“He was almost a de facto assignment editor for the political writing team at Breitbart,” said Kurt Bardella, the site’s former spokesman and now a frequent critic of the Trump administration.

In one instance in January 2016 — around the time he joined Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign as a senior policy adviser — Mr. Miller sent Breitbart employees a study from the think tank that tracked Muslim population growth in the United States: “Huge Surge in U.S. newborns named ‘Mohammed,’” Mr. Miller wrote in the subject line. A related story appeared on Breitbart the next day.

Conservative Supreme Court justices lean toward Trump on ending immigrant program

And so it goes…:

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority signaled support on Tuesday for President Donald Trump’s bid to kill a program that protects hundreds of thousands of immigrants – dubbed “Dreamers” – who entered the United States illegally as children, even as liberal justices complained that the move would destroy lives.

The court’s ideological divisions were on full display as it heard the administration’s appeal of lower court rulings that blocked the Republican president’s 2017 plan to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created in 2012 by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.

DACA currently shields about 660,000 immigrants – mostly Hispanic young adults – from deportation and provides them work permits, though not a path to citizenship. Trump’s bid to end it is part of his hardline immigration polices.

Conservative justices questioned whether courts even have the power to review Trump’s action and also seemed to reject the views of lower courts that his administration had failed to properly justify ending DACA, a program Obama implemented after Congress failed to pass bipartisan immigration reform.

The court’s 5-4 conservative majority includes two Trump appointees – Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – who both indicated support for the president’s action.

Liberal justices emphasized the large number of individuals, businesses and others who have relied on the program and indicated that the administration did not sufficiently weigh those concerns. Justice Sonia Sotomayor referred to Trump’s decision as a “choice to destroy lives” and indicated that his administration had failed to supply the required policy rationale to make the move lawful.

Kavanaugh said he assumed that the administration’s analysis of the impact rescinding DACA would have on individuals was a “very considered decision.”

“I mean, this is a serious decision. We all agree on that,” Kavanaugh added.

A ruling is due by the end of June.

Trump’s administration has argued that Obama exceeded his constitutional powers when he created DACA by executive action, bypassing Congress. Trump has made his hardline immigration policies – cracking down on legal and illegal immigration and pursuing construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border – a centerpiece of his presidency and 2020 re-election campaign.

The challengers who sued to stop Trump’s action included a collection of states such as California and New York, people currently protected by the program and civil rights groups.

Even if Trump were to lose this time, his administration would be free to come up with new reasons to end the program in the future, a point picked up by Gorsuch.

“What good would another five years of litigation over the adequacy of that explanation serve?” Gorsuch asked.

Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, who could be the pivotal vote in deciding the case, likewise indicated he was satisfied with the administration’s rationale.

Roberts, however, had appeared sympathetic to Trump in a case this year on the administration’s attempt to add a contentious citizenship question to the 2020 census – a move critics said was intended to deter immigrants from being included in the nation’s official population count. Roberts cast the decisive vote against the president in a 5-4 ruling.

TRAVEL BAN

The Supreme Court previously handed Trump a major victory on immigration policy last year when it upheld as lawful his travel ban blocking people from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, finding that the president has broad discretion to set such policy.

Lower court rulings in California, New York and the District of Columbia left DACA in place, finding that Trump’s move to rescind it was likely “arbitrary and capricious” and violated a U.S. law called the Administrative Procedure Act.

The young people protected under DACA, Obama said, were raised and educated in the United States, grew up as Americans and often know little about their countries of origin.

Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, wondered if the court should take into account the fact that Trump has said he would look after “Dreamers.”

“He hasn’t” taken care of them, she said. “And that, I think, is something to be considered before you rescind a policy.”

Much of the administration’s reasoning was based on then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ conclusion in 2017 that the program was unlawful. Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pressed U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who argued the case for the administration, on the government’s reliance on the assertion that DACA was unlawful.

The administration could have just said “we don’t like DACA and we’re taking responsibility for that instead of trying to put the blame on the law,” Ginsburg said.

Francisco, who also argued the travel ban case, said the administration was not trying to shirk responsibility for ending a popular program.

“We own this,” Francisco said, referring to Trump’s decision to kill DACA.

Trump has given mixed messages about the “Dreamers,” saying in 2017 that he has “a great love” for them even as he sought to kill the program that protected them from deportation.

Trump on Tuesday took to Twitter to attack “many” DACA recipients as “tough, hardened criminals,” without offering evidence, and again dangled the possibility of a deal with congressional Democrats to allow people protected under the program to remain in the United States. Trump has never proposed a detailed replacement for DACA.

Several hundred DACA supporters gathered outside the court on a gray and chilly Tuesday morning, chanting, banging drums and carrying signs that read “home is here” and “defend DACA.”

Source: Conservative Supreme Court justices lean toward Trump on ending immigrant program

Trump wants to nearly double US citizenship application fees

Yet another deliberate barrier to citizenship. Hard to see how the processing costs could be that high (over twice Canada’s, which, of course, the re-elected Liberal government has promised to eliminate):

The Trump administration is considering raising the cost of U.S. citizenship applications, according to a Department of Homeland Security rule filed on Friday.

The fee for the U.S. citizenship application would increase to $1,170 – from $640, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

A number of other cost increases were proposed, as well as the addition of a $50 fee for asylum applications.

According to the document, a biennial fee review determined that current fees “do not recover the full costs of providing adjudication and naturalization services” at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Without an increase in funding, the government predicts the agency would experience an average annual shortfall of $1.2 billion.

The Department of Homeland Security has proposed adjusting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration fees “by a weighted average increase of 21 percent,” in addition to adding fees for some benefit requests. U.S. immigration services is primarily funded by fees charged to applicants and petitioners.

Written comments must be submitted within 30 days from the date the rule is published in the federal register, which will be on Thursday.

The last time the fee schedule was adjusted was at the end of 2016.

Source: Trump wants to nearly double US citizenship application fees

Bipartisan bills proposed on Capitol Hill to help children of service members overseas acquire citizenship automatically

One of the even less explainable citizenship policy changes of the Trump administration:

A bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill is underway to make the children of service members stationed overseas automatically Americans, responding to a new federal policy that forces some parents to apply for their child’s U.S. citizenship.

In August, Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a new policy addressing the definition of “residence” in the Immigration and Nationality Act. It affects children of service members and civilians living abroad who did not acquire citizenship at birth or while they were living in the United States.

Under section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, a child born outside the United States can automatically become a citizen if they are physically living in the United States with their parent who is a citizen. With the new policy that goes into effect Tuesday, these children will no longer be considered “residing in the United States” as they had been in the past and a parent will have to apply for their child’s citizenship before the child turns 18 years old.

When the policy was announced, President Donald Trump’s administration was criticized for its immigration policies and how the change would negatively impact military families. There was also widespread confusion about what the change actually meant and who was affected, with some initial reporting interpreting the policy to mean that military children were being denied citizenship.

On Wednesday, Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., announced they have introduced a bill called the Citizenship for Children of Military Members & Civil Servants Act that would modify section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act so children of service members who are stationed overseas can automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.

“Children of Americans serving their nation abroad are just as worthy of automatic citizenship as any other children,” Duckworth said in a prepared statement. “Forcing military families to jump through bureaucratic hoops and spend hundreds of dollars applying for citizenship on behalf of their children is not right.”

The USCIS policy change would force families to pay an application fee of $1,170 per child, according to the senators’ statement.

The policy change was estimated to affect between 20 and 25 people annually, based on data compiled by the USCIS during the last five years from overseas applications with Army or Air Force Post Office and Fleet Post Office mailing addresses, according to a USCIS official in August who spoke about the issue on the condition of anonymity.

Isakson called the bill “commonsense legislation” to help military families that is overdue.

“We should be doing all we can to ease the lives of our all-volunteer force, not add needless hurdles for them and their families,” he said in the prepared statement.

A bipartisan companion bill was also introduced in the House by Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Doug Collins, R-Ga., according to the statement.

Source: Bipartisan bills proposed on Capitol Hill to help children of service members overseas acquire citizenship automatically

Trump’s hard-line immigration rule could disproportionately hurt Asian immigrants

Not the first article examining the likely effects on particular groups and likely not the last:

A hard-line Trump administration immigration policy that would deny immigrants residency if they are deemed likely to become a “public charge,” or need public assistance, could significantly affect the Asian American community.

The Department of Homeland Security rule, which was published in August, greatly expanded the definition of who is considered a public charge. Given the community’s use of certain social services, high rates of limited English proficiency, and heavy reliance on the family reunification system to come to the United States, immigration advocates fear that the rule would create serious barriers for Asian immigrants or those who wish to change their status.

Research from the Migration Policy Institute reveals more than 941,000 recent green card holders would have fallen under the Trump administration rule had it been in effect when they applied. Of those, 300,000 are from Asian countries.

A federal judge temporarily blocked the rule earlier this month, allowing a total of 15 days — which ends Friday — for parties to submit filings. The policy is currently enjoined and cannot be implemented by the administration, but it has already impacted many in the community who fear their use of public benefits could compromise their immigration status.

“The policy itself, the mere suggestion that the administration was considering the policy, has resulted in Asian immigrants and other immigrants pulling out of public benefits,” John C. Yang, executive director of the civil rights nonprofit Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, told NBC News.

Yang added: “This [rule], to us, is just a made-up reason to exclude certain classes of immigrants.”

The current definition of public charge is rather specific. Those who would need cash assistance or institutionalized care would fall under the category. However the Trump administration’s expanded definition would include individuals who would need food stamps, Medicaid, and Section 8 housing. The administration rationalized the rule, claiming that “self-sufficiency has long been a basic principle of U.S. immigration law.”

Roughly 70 percent to 80 percent of Asian immigrants come to the U.S. through family-based immigration, which means they would be scrutinized under the Trump administration rule. Of the more than 420,000 green cards that were granted to Asian immigrants in Fiscal Year 2017, almost 40 percent were given to immediate family members, while more than 20 percent were given to family-sponsored waiting list registrants.

In some urban areas, the Asian American community experiences particularly high rates of poverty. In New York City, Asian Americans have the highest poverty rate compared to all other racial groups. The racial group has one of the fastest growing populations in poverty. Between 2007 and 2011, the number of Asian Americans in poverty grew by 37 percent and Pacific Islander poverty ballooned by 60 percent, higher compared to any other group. The national increase was significantly lower at 27 percent.

Almost 18 percent of those who participate in government assistance programs are Asian Americans. However those in the community already underuse social services, Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the New York City-based social services nonprofit Asian American Federation, said. Not only would underprivileged immigrants meet challenges in obtaining permanent residency, but Yoo said that the proposed rule would further intimidate them from utilizing public services.

According to the new public charge rule, immigrants would also be assessed on English proficiency. The Asian American population already has the highest proportion of residents who speak a language other than English at home. And more than one-third of Asian American and Pacific Islanders have limited English proficiency.

“The Trump administration has a very narrow view of what types of immigrants are so-called desirable in the United States and frankly it is a racist and xenophobic view,” Yang told NBC News. “That view is that only people who are desirable are already proficient in English, already have a certain level of wealth or high skills.”

Since the rule was proposed back in 2018, roughly 13 percent of immigrant adults are reported to have withdrawn their use of public benefits out of fear of risking their future green card status, according to a report by Urban Institute. Yang added that some individuals who would not be subject to the rule have actually pulled out of public services due to misinformation.

“It does not affect refugees. It does not affect existing citizens,” he said. “We don’t want people to be fearful of using public benefits when they are entitled to use them.”

Asian Americans have long confronted restrictive immigration policies tied to the potential use of social services. The first public charge rule in U.S. history coincided with the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The two separate legal rules ultimately carried the same function.

“There’s an absolute linkage between the discrimination of Asians and public charge,” Yang said. “[The first public charge rule and the Chinese Exclusion Act] were rooted in the same thing: which was this notion that Chinese immigrants were coming into the country in numbers that were too large and that they were somehow deemed to be undesirable.”

Yang pointed out that since that time, public charge has been used to exclude other immigrant communities, including Mexican immigrants and those in the Jewish community.

Source: Trump’s hard-line immigration rule could disproportionately hurt Asian immigrants

USCIS’s Cuccinelli Boasts Of Increasing Immigration Bureaucracy

Not something to boast about, normally:

In a new press release, USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli boasted that the Trump administration has increased red tape and bureaucracy for U.S. companies. It’s the latest example of administration officials lauding efforts to make it more difficult for employers to obtain what economists often consider to be a company’s most valuable resource – talent.

Since 2017, Trump administration policies have focused on restricting the entry of immigrants and foreign nationals, including scientists and engineers. “Denial rates for new H-1B petitions have increased significantly, rising from 6% in FY 2015 to 32% in the first quarter of FY 2019,” according to a National Foundation for American Policy analysis.

In addition, expensive and time-consuming Requests for Evidence (RFEs) reached an unprecedented level of 60% in the FY 2019 first quarter. The percentage of completed H-1B cases with a Request for Evidence has doubled between FY 2016 and FY 2019. Many companies have resorted to lawsuits in federal court against USCIS to gain approvals for employees they have identified as valuable.

However, Ken Cuccinelli and USCIS describe the increased bureaucracy facing businesses in positive terms and the fulfillment of a mission. “Consistent with President Trump’s call for enhanced vetting, USCIS plays a key role in safeguarding our nation’s immigration system and making sure that only those who are eligible for a benefit receive it,” according to the October 16, 2019, press release. “USCIS is vigorous in its efforts to detect and deter immigration fraud, using a variety of vetting and screening processes to confirm an applicant’s identity and eligibility. The agency also conducts site visits, interviews applicants, and requests evidence for benefits that offer individuals status in the United States.”

The meaning of the bureaucratic language used by USCIS is clear: USCIS has made it more difficult for employers to gain approval for high-skilled foreign nationals and others.

Here are examples of increased bureaucracy and added burdens on companies hiring foreign-born scientists and engineers:

•          Government documents reveal USCIS adjudicators were directed to restrict approvals of H-1B petitions without the legal or regulatory authority to justify those decisions. The documents became public following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

•          A USCIS internal document – “H-1B RFE Standards” – encouraged adjudicators to demand more information of employers, leading to such requests being made in 40% to 60% of H-1B cases.

•          Another USCIS document changed the standard for what qualifies as a “specialty occupation” for an H-1B visa holder – without any change in the law or regulation. While initially used to deny H-1B status to computer programmers, this analysis explains that the USCIS document states the new USCIS policy is “Applicable to Many Occupations.”

•          USCIS adjudicators have taken the unusual step of approving H-1B status for periods of very short duration. In an ongoing court case, U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer cited the plaintiff’s example of USCIS granting one applicant an H-1B approval valid for only a single day – from February 1 to February 2, 2019. (See USCIS decision here.) Such actions force businesses to waste time and money filing repeatedly for the same employees.

•          A Trump administration decision to compel employment-based green card applicants to sit for in-person interviews contributed to “increased delays in the adjudication of employment-based benefits [that] undermined the ability of U.S. companies to hire and retain essential workers,” according to an American Immigration Lawyers Association report. It also caused increased backlogs in other types of applications.

•          USCIS now often requires – without a new law or regulation – a company to list every contract on which an H-1B visa holder will work during a three-year period to prove a “valid employer-employee relationship.” This was not done previously, and companies consider it unduly burdensome and out of touch with how businesses operate in a modern economy. The policy is a source of litigation.

•          USCIS also issued a memo instructing adjudicators to no longer defer to prior determinations when adjudicating extension applications for existing H-1B visa holders. That policy change has contributed to a significant increase in denials and Request for Evidence for continuing employment for H-1B petitions, resulting in a three-fold increase in the denial rate for companies trying to retain current H-1B employees between FY 2016 and FY 2019. Employees who spent years working in the United States have been forced to leave the country after being denied H-1B extensions.

“By increasing the many hoops and hurdles that employers and foreign-born workers must negotiate to work in the United States, USCIS is making it harder for American companies to recruit and retain global talent,” said attorney Vic Goel, managing partner of Goel & Anderson, in an interview. “It is doing this through trumped-up claims of increased workload and fraud referrals, when many of those challenges are the result of its own efforts to create more work for itself and further grow the immigration bureaucracy.”

The available U.S. domestic talent pool is limited in many key fields. Approximately 80% of full-time graduate students at U.S. universities in computer science and electrical engineering are international students who need a visa to work long-term in the United States.

Research by Britta Glennon, an assistant professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, found the types of government restrictions applauded by the acting director of USCIS are not good for America. Glennon found H-1B visa restrictions carry the unintended consequence of pushing jobs outside the United States and lead to less innovation in America. “In short, restrictive H-1B policies could not only be exporting more jobs and businesses to countries like Canada, but they also could be making the U.S.’s innovative capacity fall behind,” concluded Glennon.

When USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli ran for and held public office in Virginia, he had the support of the Tea Party and advocated against overreaching federal bureaucracy, including by filing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency. As Bob Dylan once sang, “The times, they are a-changin.’”

Source: USCIS’s Cuccinelli Boasts Of Increasing Immigration Bureaucracy