Trump Suspends Some Asylum Rights, Calling Illegal Immigration ‘a Crisis’

For the Conservatives arguing for closing the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement that does not return asylum seekers entering outside regular border crossings (i.e., Roxham Road) to the U.S., the constraints on the U.S. government doing the same for its Southern border may be instructive:

President Trump proclaimed on Friday that the illegal entry of immigrants across the southern border of the United States was detrimental to the national interest, spurring tough changes that will deny asylum to all migrants who do not enter through official border crossings.

The proclamation, issued just moments before Mr. Trump left the White House for a weekend trip to Paris, suspends asylum rights for all immigrants who try to cross into the United States illegally, though officials said it was aimed primarily at several thousand migrants traveling north through Mexico in caravans.

“The continuing and threatened mass migration of aliens with no basis for admission into the United States through our southern border has precipitated a crisis and undermines the integrity of our borders,” Mr. Trump wrote in the proclamation.

As he left the White House for the overseas trip, Mr. Trump said, “We want people to come into our country, but they have to come into the country legally.”

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Friday within hours of the president’s proclamation, urging a federal judge to prohibit Mr. Trump from moving ahead with his plans to deny asylum to thousands of migrants who may cross the border.

In a legal filing in United States District Court in San Francisco, the A.C.L.U. said that the president’s move was “in direct violation of Congress’s clear command that manner of entry cannot constitute a categorical asylum bar.” The lawsuit also alleges that the administration enacted the rule “without the required procedural steps and without good cause for immediately putting the rule into effect.”

The lawsuit could set in motion another clash between Mr. Trump and the judicial system over the power of the presidency to control the nation’s borders. Officials at the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to questions about the lawsuit.

Administration officials said on Friday that the suspension of asylum rights would be in effect for at least 90 days, but could end sooner if Mexico’s government would sign an agreement allowing the United States to return those who illegally cross the border from Mexico, regardless of their home country — a proposal that Mexico has long rejected.

For decades, immigration law in the United States has required that officials allow migrants who fear persecution in their home countries to seek asylum regardless of whether they entered the United States legally or illegally.

Mr. Trump’s proclamation is a radical departure from that tradition. With the exception of children arriving without parents, officials said that all migrants who cross illegally would automatically be denied asylum. Advocates for migrants condemned the policy shift as meanspirited and unconstitutional.

“Issuing a presidential proclamation effectively denying vulnerable families protection from violence is contrary to our laws and values,” said Kevin Appleby, a senior director at the Center for Migration Studies. “In the long run, it will not deter asylum seekers who are fleeing for their lives. On this one, the emperor has no clothes.”

Across the world, nations have for years agreed to consider asylum protections for those fleeing violence and persecution, even if they cross borders illegally. Human rights advocates said on Friday that the United States should be a leader in supporting that idea.

“One thing that unites a majority of Americans is a belief in the principle of asylum,” Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said in a statement. “Eroding that principle means eroding a defining value of our nation.”

Administration officials insisted that the new rules would remain consistent with United States obligations to the rest of the world because seeking asylum is not the only way for someone fleeing persecution to receive protection.

Officials said migrants would be allowed to seek other protections if they could prove a risk of being tortured in their home countries. However, they conceded that those claims were purposely much harder to prove and that fewer people were likely to qualify to stay in the United States than would have by receiving asylum. The only way to seek asylum will be to arrive at an official border crossing.

But officials conceded that many of the crossings from Mexico into the United States — known as ports of entry — were over capacity and already had trouble processing the number of asylum claims being made by migrants there. Under the new policy, many more are expected to arrive at the crossings.

In the proclamation, Mr. Trump acknowledged the problem and directed his administration “to commit additional resources to support our ports of entry at the southern border to assist in processing those aliens.”

Mr. Trump’s proclamation drew on the same powers to control the nation’s borders that he cited when he banned travel from several predominantly Muslim nations shortly after becoming president. The Supreme Court upheld a later version of that ban after a nearly year-and-a-half legal fight.

The new proclamation is certain to ignite a similar legal battle.

For months before the midterm elections, Mr. Trump cast the group of migrants as a threat to national security, claiming — without evidence— that among them are criminals and “unknown Middle Easterners.”

Mr. Trump’s proclamation puts into effect regulatory changes announced Thursday afternoon that effectively overhaul deep-rooted asylum laws that sought to provide a safer life in America for people fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries. Officials said the changes would take effect early Saturday morning.

Most of the migrants in the caravan come from Honduras and other Central American nations, where they say they fear for their lives because of continuing violence.

Mr. Trump has been seething for months about the increase of immigrants crossing into the United States from Mexico and the caravan of several thousand migrants whose travels have drawn news media attention. The president ordered more than 5,000 active-duty troops to the border to prevent the migrants from crossing.

By early this week, that caravan still had about 4,000 or 5,000 people and had made it to Mexico City.

ICYMI: The Intellectual Origins of Trump’s Chilling Immigration Plan

Worth reading:

Hunched forward in his chair, his fingertips and thumbs forming a familiar diamond shape, Donald Trump seemed to anticipate the question that Axios’s Jonathan Swan was about to ask him. “On immigration, some legal scholars believe you can get rid of birthright citizenship without changing the Constitution—” Swan began, before Trump cut him off gingerly. “With an executive order,” he interjected. “Exactly,” Swan replied. “Have you thought about that?” The president didn’t miss a beat. “Yes.”

The video teaser of the interview, which will appear in Axios’s forthcoming documentary news series on HBO, erupted in the middle of a news cycle driven by Trump’s inflammatory comments regarding immigration—his decision to dispatch the military to the U.S.-Mexico border, relentless fear-mongering over a migrant caravan of Central American “invaders,” and a white-supremacist terror attack inspired by Jewish aid for refugees. Trump, who is presiding over a midterm election next week that could determine control of the House, has been betting that a hard-line message on immigration will drive G.O.P. turnout. Yet even for a party that has largely aligned itself with the president’s nationalist rhetoric, what Trump proposed was radical and largely without precedent. “It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” the president continued in his conversation with Swan. “You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.” His subsequent claim—that the U.S. is the only country that bestows citizenship upon anyone born within its jurisdiction—was false, but the racial anxiety he was tapping into is real. “[A] person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States . . . with all of those benefits. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

The idea of revoking birthright citizenship has wended its way through Washington for years. Democrat Harry Reid, former Senate Majority Leader, proposed revoking birthright citizenship in 1993, before repeatedly apologizing for it. (“I didn’t understand the issue. I’m embarrassed that I made such a proposal,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.) On the right, fear of “anchor babies” has been exploited politically by even moderates such as Jeb Bush, who invoked the issue in 2015. But Trump’s decisive claim that he could get end birthright citizenship with the stroke of a pen caused critics to drop their jaws. “He obviously cannot do that,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, noting the intractable reality: birthright citizenship has been enshrined in the 14th Amendment for 150 years and would require no less than an act of Congress or a Supreme Court challenge to knock it down, an endeavor the vast majority of legal scholars consider impossible.

Regardless of whether it is a midterm stunt, Trump’s fever dream has very real origins in the scholarship of the Claremont Institute, a right-wing think tank based in Southern California—the front line, incidentally, of illegal border crossings. The current legal argument for revoking birthright citizenship, which had percolated on the left and right in the 90s, began gaining traction in 2006, when John C. Eastman, a Claremont Institute affiliate who is a professor at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law, published an article for the Heritage Foundation laying out a three-point argument to challenge the authority of birthright citizenship. First, according to Eastman, at the time of the 1866 Civil Rights Act, children born to foreigners were “not entitled to claim the birthright citizenship” provided by the act. Since the Act eventually became the backbone of the 14th Amendment, therefore, the original interpretation of citizenship should take precedence. Second, he argued the reading of the 14th Amendment—that birthright citizenship can be bestowed upon anyone who is “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States—was overbroad; in Eastman’s reading, citizenship can only be bestowed upon people with “total and exclusive allegiance” to the country. If a child’s parents had not pledged fealty to America, either by becoming full citizens or establishing permanent residence, their loyalty to the Constitution would, by all definitions, be as temporary as that of their parents. (The common legal interpretation of ”subject to the jurisdiction” is that anyone who enters the country, no matter how briefly, are subject to U.S. laws.) Finally, he wrote, the policy was a medieval remnant inconsistent with the Founding and the notion that Americans need consent to be governed: “This consent must be present, either explicitly or tacitly, not just in the formation of the government, but also in the ongoing decision whether to embrace others within the social compact of the particular people.”

The next year, Edward J. Erler, a Claremont scholar and one of the original thinkers on birthright issues, published a bookwith two colleagues examining what reviewer and Hoover Institution fellow Victor Davis Hanson deemed the problem of “massive illegal immigration from Mexico” for the American identity: “How did the founders and their successors deal with problems of being an American, and what are the effects of massive noncompliance with the laws of the United States?” Apart from several additional treatises they published, however, the idea never caught on with the rest of the conservative legal community. “It’s certainly in the idea of originalism, in that it relies that you understand the text at the time it was written, [but] there are a lot of people, even in that broadly conservative camp, that just reject it,” said Corey Brettschneider,professor of political science and public policy at Brown University, and the recent author of The Oath and the Office: A Guide to the Constitution for Future Presidents. “There are a couple of scholars that are pushing it, but it’s not a mainstream view even in conservative circles. That’s because it’s kind of wacky.”

Over time, Eastman and Erler’s legal arguments were adopted in Washington as part of various efforts to curb illegal immigration. In 2010, a small group of Republican senators, including Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell, and John McCain, floated the idea of holding hearings on the issue; Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposed a similar plan in 2015. Most conservative figures in Congress, to say nothing of the pro-immigration donor class, balked. But when Trump launched his unconventional, nativist-pandering campaign, legal birthrightists held out hope that he could indeed become their political vessel to revoke the law. “Political pundits believe that Trump should not press such divisive issues as immigration and citizenship. It is clear, however, that he has struck a popular chord—and touched an important issue that should be debated no matter how divisive,” Erler wrote in National Review in August 2015. At the same time, Erler acknowledged foreseeable roadblocks. “Republicans want cheap and exploitable labor and Democrats want future voters,” he said.

By early 2016, Stephen Miller was forcefully pushing for an end to the birthright privilege, calling it the linchpin in the administration’s immigration policies. “Birthright citizenship really is the ultimate magnet for illegal immigration,” he told the Daily Caller that February, outlining the traditional conservative fears of chain migration, anchor children, and the decreased likelihood of deportation. “[It’s] an open, worldwide invitation to ignore America’s immigration laws and an absolute perversion, misinterpretation, misapplication of the 14th Amendment.” Miller then suggested that Trump could do it more easily than the media or legal scholars imagined: “You could do it through a variety of different means, whether it be legislatively, whether it be through potential guidance that’s issued.”

According to Axios, the Trump administration had been quietly working on this policy for months, and Trump himself was surprised that Swan brought it up in their interview. (“I didn’t think anybody knew that but me. I thought I was the only one.”) But the revelation of the plan—only weeks away from the midterm election, and in the middle of Trump’s furious posturing on the migrant caravan winding its way to the southern border—immediately won plaudits among several of Trump’s allies, with Lindsey Graham announcing that he was completely on board. More sober-minded Republicans told Politico that they opposed Trump taking action via executive order, and would perhaps try to tailor the breadth of the amendment’s application in Congress. Nevertheless, ending birthright citizenship unilaterally, they concurred, was a bad idea. “As a conservative, I’m a believer in following the plain text of the Constitution, and I think in this case the 14th Amendment is pretty clear, and that would involve a very, very lengthy constitutional process,” said Ryan. “But where we obviously totally agree with the president is getting at the root issue here, which is unchecked illegal immigration.”

The Talmudic ponderings of Congress, however, may be less important than the energy this will automatically inject into the election—not just for Democrats enraged about Trump’s treatment of illegal immigrants, but also for conservatives prioritizing border control. Indeed, if a talk Erler delivered in April at Hillsdale College is any indication, birthright citizenship is only one facet of the great threat of political correctness, progressive equalization, and the horrors of plurality looming over the American experiment. “Greater diversity means inevitably that we have less in common, and the more we encourage diversity the less we honor the common good,” he said at the time, calling multiculturalism “a solvent that dissolves the unity and cohesiveness of a nation.” He condemned Republicans for caving so quickly to any accusations of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. “Only President Trump seems undeterred by the tyrannous threat that rests at the core of political correctness,” he explained.

Source: The Intellectual Origins of Trump’s Chilling Immigration Plan

Editorial: Trump’s cruel rule to strip H-1B spouses of the right to work

The Trump administration is moving forward with its much-criticized plan to strip working rights from about 100,000 foreign citizens in the U.S., many of whom live in the Bay Area.The Department of Homeland Security has announced that its new rule to ban the spouses of H-1B visa holders from working will be issued next month.

“Some U.S. workers would benefit from this proposed rule by having a better chance at obtaining jobs that some of the population of the H-4 workers currently hold,” the department said in the notice, as way of explanation for its actions.

In other words, this move is part of President Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, which was signed in 2017.

The Trump administration has already slowed the flow of H-1B visas,which are a linchpin of the Bay Area’s technology industry.

Trump himself has made it clear that he wants to make major changes to the controversial visa program. But it’s particularly cruel for his administration to launch a broadside against H-1B visa holders by banning their spouses from working.

Researchers at the University of Tennessee have estimated that 93 percent of H-4 visa holders are women from India.

Many of these women are highly educated; most are in their prime working years. By stripping H-4 visa holders of their right to work, the Trump administration is effectively denying a discrete group of women the opportunity to have economic independence and to provide for their families.

The rule change will also have an outsize impact on the Bay Area.

Many Bay Area residents who hold H-4 visas have told news organizations that, should the Trump administration go forward with this rule change, they and their families will probably have to leave the area or even the U.S.

That’s a brain drain this dynamic region can ill afford.

The Trump administration must leave the H-4 visa program alone.

Source: Editorial: Trump’s cruel rule to strip H-1B spouses of the…

Jeff Sessions Is Quietly Transforming the Nation’s Immigration Courts

Time to set the stage for a detailed analysis comparing decisions by judges from the previous administration to see if these fears are warranted:

Dorothea Lay was on track to become a member of the Board of Immigration Appeals, part of  the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. Her 25-year government career had prepared her for the post, as reflected in four letters of recommendation from academics and current and former officials. In December 2016, nine months after submitting her application, she was offered the job. But administrations changed, Jeff Sessions assumed the role of attorney general, and by early 2018, the offer was withdrawn.


That’s the question at the center of a complaint filed by Lay, an Idaho native, with the Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal investigative body. In a letter to Lay, 53, the Executive Office for Immigration Review said it rescinded her offer because “the needs of the agency have evolved,” even though the agency announced around the same time that it wanted to expand the size of the appeals board. The complaint suggests that political considerations may have been taken into account in reviewing Lay’s background, citing Lay’s letters of recommendation from people who “had liberal backgrounds or were perceived as having liberal backgrounds.”

The suspicion of politically based hiring has lingered among Democrats, who raised concerns in April and again in May. In the May letter, directed to Michael E. Horowitz, Democrats urged the inspector general of the Justice Department to investigate “allegations of politicized hiring practices,” citing cases in which offers for immigration judges and Board of Immigration Appeals positions had been delayed or withdrawn. (Lay’s attorney, Zachary Henige, is also representing two other people who claim their offers were withdrawn over political differences.) Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd responded to the Democrats’ allegations in a letter: “As stated in every immigration judge hiring announcement, the Department of Justice does not discriminate on the basis of political affiliation.”

The investigation into Lay’s complaint is ongoing, so it’s still not clear whether there were ulterior motives behind the withdrawal of her offer. But the case speaks to how DOJ can pick and choose who fills roles and in doing so, influence who’s at the helm of deciding immigration cases.This isn’t unique to this administration. The Justice Department has considerable leeway when appointing immigration judges—the immigration courts are part of its direct purview. The attorney general therefore has unique authority to overrule decisions and hire immigration judges. To that end, Sessions appears to be shaping the court by, at the very least, hiring former law enforcement officials as immigration judges.

“The more you bring people from the same background, the same set of experiences, the same perspective, the more you expose the court to criticism,” said Ashley Tabaddor, the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges. “Those decisions will be more open to being questioned.”

Of the 140 judges hired since Donald Trump’s inauguration, more than half have past prosecutorial experience or some other government experience. The pace of hiring has also stepped up: In fiscal year 2017, the Justice Department hired 64 immigration judges, compared to 81 in fiscal year 2018—bringing the total of immigration judges to 395, according to data released by EOIR. Sessions’s hiring spree is not unusual—and it’s also not unwarranted: His predecessors brought on new immigration judges, and the immigration court backlog also continues to creep up, with the latest figure at more than 760, 000 pending cases. Of the newly hired immigration judges, at least half had received conditional offers during the Obama administration, said Kathryn Mattingly, assistant press secretary at EOIR, in an email.

It’s not just how many immigration judges are being brought on but where they’re being located. EOIR has hired immigration judges for two adjudication centers—in Falls Church, Virginia, and Fort Worth, Texas—where cases from around the country will be heard through video teleconferencing. Judges will be located at the centers, while attorneys and respondents will be in separate locations. According to Rob Barnes, a regional public information officer for EOIR, immigration judges at these centers will be evaluated like others. It’s likely then that thousands of immigration cases will be heard with respondents never seeing a judge face to face.

Across the board, there appears to be a preference for people who come from an enforcement background, according to biographies of newly hired immigration judges posted by the Justice Department. Of the 23 judges announced in August, more than half previously worked with the Department of Homeland Security, and of those remaining, most came from a law enforcement background. In September, EOIR announced 46 new immigration judges, two of which will serve in a supervisory role: 19 previously worked for ICE, 10 had served at DOJ or as a former local prosecutor, and seven had a background in military (one of whom previously served in Guantánamo). It’s not yet known how these judges will rule once they’re on the bench and whether their enforcement background will inform their decisions. But experts, attorneys, and current and former immigration judges have warned about hiring too many people from government before.

“It’s not that we’re saying [those] with law enforcement or military background are unqualified,” Tabaddor, the head of the immigration judges association, told me. “A diverse bench is what brings fairness and legitimacy to court. It’s very important for a court to be reflective of the people it serves and the community at large to gain legitimacy and respect.”

Mattingly, the EOIR spokeswoman, has provided a series of specific qualifications that all candidates for immigration judge must possess.

Previous administrations also pulled from within government, reasoning that candidates have already passed background checks and can therefore be hired more quickly. But that can present some challenges. It’s possible that having spent years fighting in court on behalf of the government, an individual might be biased, said Jeremy McKinney, an immigration lawyer in North Carolina. The American Immigration Lawyers Association, of which McKinney is a part of, and National Association of Immigration Judges, have called for the pool of immigration judges to also include people from private firms and academia.

Their concerns were backed up by Booz Allen Hamilton, which conducted a year-long study of the immigration court system at EOIR’s direction. The April 2017 study found that at least 41 percent of immigration judges previously worked in the Department of Homeland Security, and nearly 20 percent worked at other branches within the Justice Department. The report recommended broadening “hiring pools and outreach programs to increase diversity of experience among [immigration judges].” It’s not clear whether the Justice Department took the study into account in putting together its hiring plan in April 2017, the same month the study was presumably handed over.

The hiring of immigration judges has always been a contentious issue: complaints have been lodged about there not being enough career diversity; it often takes months to hire judges (though the Justice Department recently pushed the time it took down from an average of 742 days to about 266 days); and political affiliations have previously been weighed in selecting judges. In 2008, the Inspector General issued a report on the hiring practices of DOJ in selecting attorneys, immigration judges, and members of the Board of Immigration Appeals. The report concluded that hiring based on political or ideological affiliation is in violation of department policy.

The fear, as expressed by some Democrats, legal experts and immigration advocates, is that Sessions is improperly seeking out conservatives in order to to influence the tilt of the nation’s immigration courts and hire a large cadre of immigration judges who will likely far outlast his tenure.

“I think he’s trying to get a complacent judiciary: ‘Forget the title, you guys are really DOJ employees, you’re out there to carry out my policies,’” said Paul W. Schmidt, former chairman of EOIR’s Board of Immigration Appeals from 1995 to 2001 and a former immigration judge.

Beyond who the Justice Department decides to bring on board, the message Sessions sends down to judges can also heavily influence their decisions, as direct reports to the department, Schmidt and others argue.In September, for example, Sessions delivered remarks to a new class of immigration judges, the largest in history, according to the Justice Department, in which he pressed them to decide cases swiftly. “You have an obligation to decide cases efficiently and to keep our federal laws functioning effectively, fairly, and consistently,” he said. “As you take on this critically important role, I hope that you will be imaginative and inventive in order to manage a high-volume caseload. I do not apologize for expecting you to perform, at a high level, efficiently and effectively.”

The message was striking given who it’s intended for. “If he was speaking to attorneys, that’d be normal. He has the right to set prosecutorial policy,” McKinney said. “That doesn’t translate to immigration judges.” Judges—even when they are DOJ employees—are expected to be independent. By effectively telling them how to handle cases and how quickly, the Justice Department is infringing upon that independence, McKinney said.

And Sessions’s words weren’t just an expression of what he hopes judges will do either. As of October 1, the expectation to “efficiently and effectively” adjudicate cases is being enforced. Earlier this year, the Justice Department took the unprecedented step of rolling out quotas for judges. To receive a “satisfactory” performance evaluation, judges are required to clear at least 700 cases a year. According to the Justice Department, judges complete 678 cases a year on average now, meaning they will have to pick up the pace to remain in good standing.

This fall, DOJ expects to bring on at least 75 more immigration judges. Even if Sessions days as attorney general are numbered, as Trump has suggested, his selections will decide the fate of immigrants, for years to come.

Source: Jeff Sessions Is Quietly Transforming the Nation’s Immigration Courts

Trump’s Immigration Crackdown Is Blowing Holes In Agency Budgets

Not surprising. Self-imposed rather than responding to external events:

Two years in, President Donald Trump’s promised immigration crackdown is hardly on pace to deliver his stated goal of deporting up to 3 million people. But it has produced something else: gaping budget holes that the administrationhas scrambled to fill.

Since taking office, the president has repeatedly ordered sweeping and often improvised changes that gave federal agencies a greater stake in immigration enforcement but muddled their missions. The sudden policy shifts sparked self-inflicted crises that regularly required band-aid solutions far more expensive than the status quo. And to pay for it all, the administration pulled money from federal agencies that have nothing to do with immigration ― including cancer research, Head Start and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It’s policymaking for the Trump era: rushed, chaotic, expensive — and ultimately self-defeating.

A Tent Camp For The Price Of A Luxury Hotel

Perhaps the most glaring example of the wastefulness of the White House’s approach is the creation of the tent shelter for migrant children at Tornillo, Texas. The administration had the camp hastily erected in Juneas an emergency measure to shelter 400 unaccompanied minors and children it had separated from their families at the border. The Tornillo contract was supposed to expire in September. But as the month wound to a close, officials decided to keep the facility open to solve a new crisis of the administration’s own making.

The new crisis was triggered by the administration’s decision in May to begin fingerprinting the adult sponsors (often relatives) who sought to retrieve children the government had detained — and to share that information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Because sponsors are often unauthorized immigrants themselves and therefore reluctant to be fingerprinted by federal agencies, the outcome was predictable: More children are stuck in shelters for longer periods of time. The system, run by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, is currently housing more than 13,000 of them — about five times as many as a year ago. So instead of shutting down the Tornillo tent camp, the Trump administration is packing more children into it, with plans to hold as many as 3,800 minors.

The expected cost: $750 per night, per bed. For about the same price, the federal government could pay for a deluxe hotel room — with a view of Central Park — at Trump’s Manhattan hotel. For every month that the Trump administration locks up a single undocumented minor in the Texas desert, it pays more than the annual cost of putting a student through state college, complete with room and board.

The policy of fingerprinting sponsors and sharing that information with ICE didn’t exist when Congress approved the HHS budget. But the government is still stuck with the bill. To cover the gap, HHS reshuffled about $260 million last month from other parts of its budget, as Yahoo! News first reported. Among the losers in the battle of priorities are cancer research ($13.3 million), Head Start preschool ($16.7 million) and HIV prevention ($5.7 million).

Improvising A Bigger Detention System

Trump’s improvised crackdown blew a similar hole in the ICE budget.

Within a week of taking office, Trump signed an executive order eliminating arrest priorities set by the outgoing Obama administration. Instead of focusing on detaining recent border-crossers, people with serious crimes or those who had been deported in the past, the White House freed the agency to arrest any unauthorized immigrant its agents find. The mandate was clear: Arrest more migrants.

ICE did just that. The agency’s immigration arrests jumped 42 percent over the first eight months after Trump took office. Immigration arrests jumped an additional 17 percent over the first three quarters of this fiscal year, to nearly 120,000, ICE’s most recent data show. More than a third of those people ICE arrested had no criminal convictions, meaning they wouldn’t have been arrested under the Obama-era guidelines Trump scrapped.

Indiscriminate arrests make intuitive sense for a politician who campaigned as an enforcement hard-liner. But they’re an inefficient way of removing unauthorized immigrants from the country. People without serious criminal records or deportation orders are typically entitled to a hearing. Because the immigration court backlog has ballooned by more than 48 percent over the last two years to 764,000 cases, it often takes years to get new arrestees in front of an immigration judge.

“They’re overwhelming us,” Dana Leigh Marks, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Immigration Judges, told HuffPost. “The number of immigration cases coming in continues to be crippling to the court.”

All of those new arrestees waiting for hearings are straining the immigration detention system. Congress last year showered nearly 1 billion new dollars on ICE — a windfall larger than the previous six years of budget boosts combined. But that budget gave the agency only enough money to lock up an average of 38,000people facing deportation per day. ICE blew past that by 2,000 beds in average daily capacity.

So, just like HHS, the Department of Homeland Security, which is ICE’s parent agency, had to reshuffle about $200 million last month to make up the shortfall. The most public loser was FEMA, which lost $10 million just as Hurricane Florence barreled toward North Carolina.

To fund detention and deportation operations, Homeland Security pulled $13 million from Homeland Security Investigation’s domestic investigation budget and an additional $270,000 from its international operations. The Coast Guard and Transportation Security Administration coughed up tens of millions each.

“They’ve put the cart in front of the horse here,” former ICE official Alonzo Peña said. “They’re going to do these programs and figure out how to pay for it afterwards.”

The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of referring all migrants caught crossing the border illegally for criminal prosecution is also both expensive and inefficient. At an average daily bed cost of $80 per prisoner — not to mention the costs of judges and public defenders required to make the policy work — the Justice Department is spending hundreds of millions of dollars detaining and prosecuting people the Department of Homeland Security aims to deport anyway.

So Damn Much Money… And Not Much To Show For It

The irony of the Trump administration’s approach is that, by all the most obvious metrics, it has failed to meet its goals. With the first three quarters of this year tallied, ICE is on track to deport about 250,000 migrants — well below the more than 409,000 removals registered in 2012.

You’re robbing one piece of the immigration system to feed that beast of the detention system. Those are tough decisions that Congress will be forced to make.Tracey Valerio, ICE’s former head of management

Likewise, with one month left to tally for the fiscal year, arrests for illegal border crossings stand at about 355,000. Those numbers are among the lowest registered since the 1970s. But they’re up, modestly, over the previous year, indicating that Trump’s massive spending — aimed squarely at scaring potential migrants from trying to cross the border — isn’t working.

Congress, firmly in Republican control, has so far declined to halt the agency’s backdoor expansion of the immigrant detention system or its evolving prioritization of petty immigration arrests over investigative work.

“You’re robbing one piece of the immigration system to feed that beast of the detention system,” Tracey Valerio, ICE’s former head of management, said. “Those are tough decisions that Congress will be forced to make.”

DHS funding legislation winding its way through Congress suggests the plan is to throw still more money at the problem. If passed, Congress would shovel another quarter billion dollars into ICE next year — a small increase compared to either last year or to what the White House asked for, but still well above any other year since 2012.

But until that new funding bill passes, the Trump administration is left shuffling money around to pay for its immigration agenda. Even Trump has had to curb his ambitions to pay for his administration’s haphazard policymaking. Last month, DHS yanked $26 million that Customs and Border Protection had earmarked for “border security fencing, infrastructure and technology” and gave it to ICE. It was money for Trump’s promised border wall.

Source: Trump’s Immigration Crackdown Is Blowing Holes In Agency Budgets

Trump’s Vow to Cut Red Tape Doesn’t Extend to Legal Immigrants

Interesting take – using regulatory reform language to criticize Trump administration immigration policies:

A Trump administration proposal to make it harder for legal immigrants to remain in the U.S. could cause thousands of them to forgo $2.3 billion worth of food stamps and other government assistance each year.

But even with that apparent taxpayer savings, it still could be the costliest regulation the administration has proposed. That’s because of the paperwork burden it would impose on immigrants and the way the government measures the costs and benefits of regulations.

The Department of Homeland Security measure would make it more difficult for legal immigrants to get green cards authorizing them to permanently remain in the U.S. if they use public aid programs.

The proposal, expected to affect some 383,000 people annually, would boost the odds that U.S. citizenship officers would deem any legal immigrant a “public charge” — someone dependent on the government for assistance — making that person ineligible for legal resident status as a result.

The plan aligns with President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigration — both legal and illegal — and is in keeping with the wishes of some hard-line advocates worried about a wave of low-skilled immigrants taking advantage of the U.S.

It also dovetails with conservative pushes to rein in federal assistance, because many immigrants would be so worried about risking their shot at green cards that they would forgo federal aid. The Homeland Security Department acknowledges there is a potential “chilling effect” that would discourage immigrants from using public benefits programs.

“Those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said. The proposal aims to “promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.”

Some 2.5 percent of affected immigrants would opt out of the government programs as a result, according to the administration’s estimates, potentially preventing the payout of some $19.3 billion in aid over the next decade, estimated at a 3 percent discount rate.

Even so, the administration’s analysts say the rule would cost society more than it saves.

Although federal and state governments would dole out less aid, the unspent money would be a loss for the immigrants, making the change a wash for the government analysts calculating the cost and benefits of federal rules across society. Under their accounting practices, the analysts haven’t treated those foregone transfer payments as a benefit since they “do not directly affect total resources available to society.”

Instead, the government’s analysis says the rule would actually impose big costs on society — largely by forcing immigrants to spend hours upon hours completing detailed paperwork instead of working and other activities. For instance, the government anticipates each immigrant subject to the proposed rule would spend, on average, four and a half hours just filling out a single new form tracking their assets and financial status, with the opportunity cost of that time calculated at $47.97 per applicant.

The total possible price tag: $1.1 billion over a decade. The Trump administration’s own analysis estimates that all of that lost time filling out paperwork, the cost of getting credit reports and other effects mean the rule would have a direct net cost of $318 million to $1.1 billion over 10 years, when discounted to reflect 2018 dollars.

If finalized, the rule would become one of the most expensive Trump administration regulations yet, based on a survey of proposed and final rules.

Immigration is one area “where Trump wants to regulate and doesn’t mind imposing costs,” said Amit Narang, a regulatory policy expert at the watchdog Public Citizen.

The Homeland Security Department will receive feedback on the quality of its analysis, including how potential costs and benefits are characterized, as part of a public comment period.

“As noted in the analysis, the estimated savings through transfers is roughly double the cost,” Homeland Security Department spokeswoman Katie Waldman said by email. “The main direct costs of the rule would be associated with paperwork burden imposed on alien applicants for adjustment of status, who have the burden to show that they are not likely to become a public charge.”

Representatives of the White House Office of Management and Budget, which analyzes proposed regulations and their cost, did not respond to requests for comment.

Under federal law, U.S. immigration and citizenship officers vetting green card applicants already weigh factors such as the immigrants’ health, education, skill levels and whether they have taken direct cash benefits from the government. Substantial reliance on cash aid is a strike against them.

But under the new proposal, use of an array of non-cash government benefits — even acquiring prescription drugs through Medicare Part D — would become part of the calculus in determining the immigrants’ admissibility.

Legal immigrants generally can get some public benefits after they have been in the U.S. for five years. By contrast, illegal immigrants who are not authorized to be in the U.S. can’t get them at all.

Ricky Revesz, director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University, said that the administration’s financial analysis of the proposal overlooks plenty of potential costs. For instance, it doesn’t account for the potential that illnesses and health expenses might climb as a result of immigrants rejecting food stamps that help them buy nutritional fare.

There was extensive analysis of the proposal’s paperwork burden, Revesz said during an event Monday at George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center. But “there’s virtually no discussion of the negative health consequences and other consequences to people who qualify for these benefits who might decide to forgo them in order to protect their immigration status.”

Source: Trump’s Vow to Cut Red Tape Doesn’t Extend to Legal Immigrants

How Trump Can Use Welfare To Stymie Immigration — And Vice Versa

Yet another restrictive measure:

The Trump administration is following through on a long-rumored plan to make it harder for immigrants to get green cards if they’re poor or might become poor.

The proposal is a double whammy that could scare people away from safety net programs and keep immigrants out of the country ― with the added benefit of simultaneously demonizing both immigrants and welfare.

″It’s an opportunity to fuel the nativist fire and scapegoat immigrants as a drain on our economy,” said Wendy Cervantes, senior policy analyst for the Center for Law and Social Policy, a nonpartisan organization that works to improve the lives of low-income people.

The U.S. government has almost always had a rule against legal permanent resident status for anyone who might become a “public charge,” meaning someone who is likely to wind up on welfare. The proposed rule, which will not take effect for at least 60 days and is subject to change, would broaden the criteria the government can use to deny applicants.

The proposal will likely scare immigrants out of applying even for benefits that wouldn’t hurt their green card chances, Cervantes said, such as food stamps for their children. Already, officials in several states have reported sharp declines in child nutrition program enrollment that they attribute to earlier news reports about the possibility of a new “public charge” rule. (The final proposed rule considers only an individual’s use of public benefits, not any use by their dependents.)

Experts said it’s impossible to estimate how many people will be affected by the rule, but some said it could be in the millions ― some directly because they would be denied a green card, others indirectly because they declined to use a benefit out of fear or because a family member was kept away.

The Department of Homeland Security said in its proposal that it estimated more than 324,000 people would disenroll from safety net benefits “due to concern about the consequences to that person receiving public benefits and being found to be likely to become a public charge,” saving the federal government more than $2 billion annually. (That’s less than 1 percent of what the government spends on food and health benefits for the poor each year.) The proposed rule wouldn’t make those individuals ineligible for public benefits ― the administration is predicting it would cause people to not use help even if they were qualified for it.

Cervantes said the proposal as written would affect several million people if you count a program beneficiary’s family members. More than 40 percent of the nearly 40 million food stamp recipients in the U.S., for instance, are children whose parents receive the benefits on their behalf.

Immigrants could be fearful of enrolling their families in certain benefits even if they wouldn’t have an adverse effect on a future immigration decision, either because of confusion about what is included or fear that it could be expanded in the future, said Melissa Boteach, senior vice president at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, who works on poverty issues.

“People are confused, and the stakes are too high for them to make an educated guess,” Boteach said. “I think there’s a sense that even if you are technically exempt, who knows what they’ll do next?”

Undocumented immigrants and people on work visas are ineligible for most federal benefits in the first place, and green card holders are only eligible after five years. The proposal would not affect people applying to become U.S. citizens. It primarily targets people abroad hoping to be reunited with family members living in the U.S. and those already living here and seeking green cards.

In fiscal 2017, the State Department initially denied more than 280,000 immigrant visa applications. Of those, only 3,200 were refused on public charge grounds, according to the Congressional Research Service (most of those refusals were overcome on appeal). Cervantes said the number of public charge refusals would likely skyrocket under the new proposal.

The current public charge guidance considers a person’s age, education, assets and employment status, as well as his or her current enrollment in a small number of state and federal programs. Republicans have long complained that the biggest programs, such as food stamps and Medicaid, were excluded. The Trump administration’s rule would broaden the criteria to include most federal safety net benefits.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement announcing the proposal that it would “implement a law passed by Congress intended to promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.”

The current guidance says an immigrant would only count as a public charge if he or she is likely to depend “primarily” on government assistance, meaning for more than 50 percent of his or her income. The new rule would lower the threshold to receipt of government benefits totaling 15 percent of the poverty line in a given year.

The meaning of “likely” is entirely up to immigration officials, said David Bier, an expert at the libertarian Cato Institute who wrote in an analysis of the proposal.

“They just are very vague about how this whole thing is going to go down,” Bier said in an interview. “So inevitably what we’re going to see when this rule is enforced is just wildly varying outcomes depending on who’s adjudicating applications.”

Source: How Trump Can Use Welfare To Stymie Immigration — And Vice Versa

Immigrants, fearing Trump crackdown, drop out of nutrition programs

Short-term reaction with longer-term health implications, just as the previous Canadian Conservative government’s cut to the interim federal health program had with respect to refugees (restored by the current government):

Immigrants are turning down government help to buy infant formula and healthy food for their young children because they’re afraid the Trump administration could bar them from getting a green card if they take federal aid.

Local health providers say they’ve received panicked phone calls from both documented and undocumented immigrant families demanding to be dropped from the rolls of WIC, a federal nutrition program aimed at pregnant women and children, after news reports that the White House is potentially planning to deny legal status to immigrants who’ve used public benefits. Agencies in at least 18 states say they’ve seen drops of up to 20 percent in enrollment, and they attribute the change largely to fears about the immigration policy.

The Trump administration hasn’t officially put the policy in place yet, but even without a formal rule, families are already being scared away from using services, health providers say.

“It’s a stealth regulation,” said Kathleen Campbell Walker, an immigration attorney at Dickinson Wright in El Paso, Texas. “It doesn’t really exist, but it’s being applied subliminally.”

Health advocates say the policy change could put more babies who are U.S.-born citizens at risk of low birth weight and other problems — undermining public health while also potentially fueling higher health care costs at taxpayer expense. WIC — formally the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children — serves about half of all babies born in the U.S by providing vouchers or benefit cards so pregnant women and families with small children can buy staple foods and infant formula. The program is also designed to support women who are breastfeeding.

Because it benefits babies, the vast majority of whom are U.S.-born citizens, WIC is among the least politically controversial programs that the administration is said to be targeting in its crackdown.

“The big concern for all of us in the WIC community is that this program is really about growing healthy babies,” said Rev. Douglas Greenaway, president and CEO of the National WIC Association. “When any population that’s potential eligible for this program is either driven away by changes in regulation or legislation or simply by political rhetoric inducing fear there are huge personal consequences to those babies and their families.”

The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

The immigration proposal, which White House officials are working on ahead of the midterms as a way to energize the Republican base, would primarily affect legal immigrants already in the U.S. who are seeking a green card and people applying for legal admission to the U.S. It could also affect undocumented immigrants if they want to seek legal permanent residency in the future — a change that would represent a substantial expansion of the definition of public charge.

Under a provision known as public charge, U.S. immigration law has for more than a century allowed officials to reject admission to the country on the grounds that potential immigrants or visitors might become overly reliant on the government. But until now, officials have looked narrowly at whether someone would need cash benefits such as welfare or long-term institutional care. Immigration hawks in the Trump administration are pushing to consider would-be immigrants’ use of a much broader array of services, including non-cash assistance like food stamps, Head Start, Medicaid and WIC, according to versions of the proposed rule that were obtained by news organizations earlier this year.

Undocumented immigrants do not qualify for most government aid programs, but such an expansion of public charge could apply to the whole family. In the past, if a mom was applying for a green card her own use of public benefits might be examined. Under the proposed change, her child’s enrollment in Medicaid or Head Start would weighed as a negative factor, even if that child is a U.S. citizen.

Trump administration officials have argued that they are simply trying to clarify and enforce current immigration law.

“The goal is not to reduce immigration or in some diabolical fashion shut the door on people, family-based immigration, anything like that,” said Francis Cissna, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, at the National Press Club earlier this month.

Cissna said the rule the administration is working on is “rational and reasonable” and will go through the full and “proper” regulatory process.

Enrollment in WIC has been going down for a variety of reasons as the economy has improved and the birth rates decline. When Trump took office there were approximately 7.4 million women and children in the program. As of May, the last month for which there is data, the number had dropped to 6.8 million.

Government officials aren’t able to track exactly how many people have dropped from WIC or declined the benefits because they’re afraid of the public charge rule, in part because the program is immigration blind. But providers say anecdotal evidence shows the proposal is contributing to the drop-off.

POLITICO interviewed more than a dozen WIC providers nationwide who serve tens of thousands of children from Washington state, Kansas and New York state. Almost all said they have seen immigrant mothers and their children drop from WIC, citing public charge concerns. They also said they’ve fielded inquiries about whether participating in WIC could put a family at risk of either deportation or at a disadvantage in immigration proceedings.

Jennifer Mejias-Martinez, who works on WIC at the Shawnee County Health Department in Topeka, Kan., recalled getting a call earlier this year from a family who’d seen a report on Univision about public benefits being a threat to immigration proceedings.

“They were very, very scared,” Mejias-Martinez said of the family. She said she tried to calm them down and assure that the policy had not changed, but they dropped from the program anyway. “It made me very sad, and quite frankly upset,” she said.

In some cases, immigration attorneys are recommending that families drop out of all government programs, including WIC, to avoid any chance that using the benefits could negatively affect their chances of getting a green card — or even prevent a family member from being able to get a visa to visit, according to caseworkers.

Public health and immigration advocates say they now find themselves debating the ethics of encouraging people to enroll in the program to improve their children’s health while there’s so much fear the benefits might one day jeopardize their ability to stay in the United States.

“Without a draft rule being released, we don’t think it’s wise to frighten people or tell them that they’re in the clear,” said Zach Hennessey, vice president of programs and services at Public Health Solutions, a large health non-profit in New York City.

The leaked version of the proposed rule suggests benefits used before the rule is final wouldn’t be used against an applicant.

Nearly two-thirds of WIC providers, from 18 different states, reported they have noticed a difference in immigrant WIC access in the wake of the news about potential changes in the public charge rules, according to a March survey by the National WIC Association. Seventeen of the agencies reported that participants had asked to dis-enroll or be deleted from WIC records.

An agency in Longview, Texas, reported it’s losing an estimated 75 to 90 participants per month to public charge fears. In Beacon, N.Y., an agency estimated it’s lost 20 percent of its caseload. In St. Louis, Mo., a provider said it’s seen a few dozen drop in the last year.

Public Health Solutions, the largest WIC provider in New York state, said WIC caseloads fell after press coverage of the proposed public charge changes. The non-profit said it saw more than six times the normal attrition rate after initial news reports about a potential executive order in the first quarter of 2017. The drop rate spiked again twice more in the wake of additional news reports about the coming proposed rule.

The group cautioned that the numbers don’t prove that public charge fears drove households from the program, but said that the unusually large declines appeared to correspond with the timing of the news reports.

The USDA, which oversees the WIC program, is conducting several studies to explore why eligible families are either not enrolling in WIC or discontinuing their participation, according to a spokesperson.

“The USDA is committed to the health and well-being of all WIC eligible mothers, infants and children and supports families seeking assistance,” a spokesperson said in a statement to POLITICO.

The department did not comment on whether officials are concerned about public charge fears driving participation down.

The drops in WIC enrollment stemming from public charge concerns come alongside broader fears about the Trump administration’s crackdown on both legal and illegal immigration.

Maria Isabel Rangel, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, recently interviewed ten farmworker families in California whose households included both legal and undocumented immigrants. She said they described dealing with “constant anxiety,” even when they’ve decided to keep using programs like WIC, Medicaid and food stamps.

“They’re worried that their documentation status will be somehow be jeopardized by participating in these health programs,” Rangel said. “They say: ‘I can’t stop using these programs because my children need them, but I know I’m risking my future and the future of my children.’”

“They’re making these decisions basically based off fear,” she said.

WIC has been largely immigration-blind since it was created in 1974, most of the infants it serves are citizens born in the U.S. regardless of their parents’ immigration status. Despite that, providers say parents’ fear of deportation may also be driving declining enrollment in WIC.

False rumors that federal agents are planning to raid WIC clinics have circulated in immigrant communities, to the point that providers in places like King County, Wash. have posted signs designating their clinics as “private” areas and have statements on their websites that immigrants should access services “without fear.”

Aliya Haq, a nutrition supervisor at International Community Health Services, a large health non-profit in Washington state, recalled a terrified father calling in earlier this year asking that his wife be dropped from WIC, citing fears about getting deported.

“He was literally begging us requesting that we remove his family from the WIC program. … it was very heartbreaking,” Haq said.

The WIC program is broadly supported on both sides of the aisle because it’s been shown to lead to better health outcomes for mothers and babies, and pays dividends in savings to Medicaid. A 1988 USDA study found that for every dollar spent on WIC, there is between $1.77 and $3.13 in Medicaid savings for the infant and mother in the first 60 days after birth.

Rep. Roger Marshall, a conservative Kansas Republican who was an obstetrician before he ran for Congress in 2016, says the program is “crucial.” When he saw pregnant women during his three decades in practice, he said, “This nutrition helped prevent birth defects, led to healthier outcomes, and healthier infants.”

Marshall noted he hasn’t seen the changes the administration is considering. “I will stand beside WIC and say they’ve been a great use of federal dollars,” he said.

Even as they’re considering the proposed rule change, Trump officials have already begun enacting some new restrictions. In January, the State Department instructed embassies and consulates to look at potential use of nutrition and health benefits when deciding whom to admit to the U.S.

A spokesperson from the State Department said the changes “clarify current regulations and policy guidance.”

Immigration lawyers are watching very closely to see whether the updated guidance leads to more denials based on public charge grounds.

Immigrant advocates are expected to mount a court challenge if the expanded public charge rule is finalized, but public health advocates say the damage is already being done to women and families who are afraid to use WIC.

“One way or another society is going to pay for this,” said Hennessey of Public Health Solutions in New York City. “It’s very expensive for a baby in the NICU. It’s very expensive when a child’s developmental needs aren’t met, or there’s a severe maternal morbidity event.”

Source: Immigrants, fearing Trump crackdown, drop out of nutrition programs

Trump builds his wall against legal immigrants

Good analysis of some of the administrative measures being implemented:

While President Trump has failed to build a wall across the southern border, his administration is constructing a wall nonetheless—just one made of paperwork, rather than concrete, and targeting legal, rather than illegal, immigrants. Last week, the administration released its latest brick in this virtual wall: a policy that would give government officials the ability to deny legal immigrants outright with no opportunity for them to correct mistakes on their applications and then attempt to deport them.

This latest policy is the culmination of a year-and-a-half of groundwork. First, the administration massively expanded the amount of paperwork in immigration forms by double or, in some cases, triple. The new forms asked vague and legally complex questions, which require a lawyer to answer and make it far more likely mistakes will happen. The administration continues to euphemistically refer to this as “extreme vetting” when it is nothing more than extreme bureaucracy.

Second, pursuant to the president’s protectionist Buy American, Hire American executive order, the government began to issue far more Requests for Evidence (RFE) to support visa petitions. RFEs are issued when adjudicators demand new evidence before issuing an approval or denial. For H-1B high skilled visas, employers saw a 45 percent increase in the number of RFEs. RFEs lengthen the process of applying, increase attorney fees, and raise the cost of hiring a foreign worker overall.Third, just this month, the Trump administration rolled out a policy that would allow certain legal immigrant applicants whose petitions are denied to be placed in removal proceedings—the start of the deportation process—if the denial results in their permission to stay in the country expiring.

This is a common scenario because employers can wait until just prior to the expiration of their status to file a renewal request. If the request is denied, the legal employee—who likely had no control over when the employer filed—is suddenly an illegal immigrant. Under prior administrations, the person could voluntarily leave the country or potentially reapply, but this administration would seek to deport them, which—if successful—results in a decade ban on returning.

Finally, we have last week’s policy that brings together the entire effort so far. Now, rather than issuing RFEs for mistakes in applications, the government will give adjudicators the ability to deny the application outright. An outright denial would require the applicants at a minimum to refile or file an appeal with all the fees and attorney time that those options entail.

This policy is misguided in part because the adjudicators often simply overlook evidence already provided. Applicants resupply it and are approved. In fact, the overwhelming majority of applications that receive RFEs are ultimately approved. Despite a 45 percent increase in the number of RFEs last year, the denial rate for applications only increased slightly.

For this reason, this new policy allowing outright denials rather than an RFE is likely to get the results that the other policies failed to achieve: more denials and fewer foreign workers in this country. Higher costs and risks will lead fewer to apply, and more legal immigrants to seek out other countries that could use their talents.

With each new brick, the virtual wall against legal immigration grows higher. The costs and risks are clearly having an effect. Immigration is down. Visits to the United States are down. These policies harm America’s economy by keeping foreign talent overseas and driving away potential customers for U.S. businesses. With a booming economy, and more job openings than unemployed workers, legal immigration policy should welcome foreigners willing to work, not seek to drive them home.

David Bier is an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute.

Source: Trump builds his wall against legal immigrants

USA: Dozens of infants [babies] ordered to appear in immigration court: report

Speaks for itself:

At least 70 children under the age of 1 have been ordered before immigration judges since last October, some without any form of legal representation present, according to newly released government data.

Information from the Department of Justice (DOJ) reported by the Texas Tribune on Wednesday states that the number of infants summoned before immigration judges tripled in 2017 compared to the previous year.

A total of 1,500 “unaccompanied” children ages 3 and younger have been ordered before immigration judges since October 2015, the Tribune reported, citing DOJ data provided by Kaiser Health News.

About three-fourths of those children had legal representation, while the remainder only had access to a list of legal aid attorneys their caregiver can contact. In some cases, young children appear before judges with little to no knowledge of their situation or where their families are, the report noted.

While officials said many children under the age of 1 come into the U.S. with a parent and their case proceeds together, some of the children arrived in the U.S. without their parents or legal guardians, according to the Tribune.

Others were only deemed to be “unaccompanied” minors after being separated by their parents under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy, which prioritized prosecuting all illegal border crossers.

President Trump signed an executive order last month to end the separation of families at the border, and his administration has been working to reunite affected families after thousands of young children were separated from adults.

“This is to some extent a … crisis of the creation of the government,” Robert Carey, the former head of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement, told the Tribune. “It’s a tragic and ironic turn of events.”

One immigration attorney based in Virginia noted to the Tribune that many children are unaware that they face life-threatening situations in their home country.

“Think about it as a parent. You’re not going to tell your child they might be killed, right?” Eileen Blessinger told the newspaper. “A lot of the kids don’t know.”

Asylum claim denials, according to the data, are at an all-time high of 42 percent.

Earlier this month the Trump administration issued guidance ending asylum claims for migrants fleeing domestic abuse or gang-related violence, a move that was heavily criticized by immigrant rights activists.

“The Trump administration just handed a death sentence to thousands of women and families fleeing domestic and gang violence by barring them from accessing asylum in the U.S.,” Jess Morales Rocketto, political director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, said in June.

Source: Dozens of infants ordered to appear in immigration court: report