NEW FROM TAL KOPAN AT CNN: DACA ON THE ROPES — “Only Congress can enact a permanent solution to the DACA situation!”

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/15/politics/daca-anniversary-peril/index.html

Tal reports:

“Washington (CNN)Tuesday marks the fifth anniversary of a program that protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation — but supporters worry this one could be its last.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, was implemented in 2012 under President Barack Obama, and President Donald Trump’s administration has continued running despite heated rhetoric against it from Trump on the campaign trail.
But DACA has arguably never been on shakier ground, and advocates for the program are desperately trying to protect it, including with a planned march Tuesday on the White House.
Nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants have benefited from DACA, which protects individuals who were brought to the US illegally as children from deportation, and offers them the ability to work, study and drive legally. Applicants must meet certain criteria, pass a background check and maintain a clean record.
But despite the fact that the administration has continued to issue permits, concerns are increasing that the program could be ended.
“DACA is under grave threat,” Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said on a conference call with reporters Monday.
Ten state attorneys general, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, have issued an ultimatum to the Trump administration — sunset DACA by September 5, or we’ll challenge it in court. The attorneys general have threatened to petition a court that’s considering a similar but separate Obama administration deferred action program, for parents, to also weigh the legality of DACA.
Experts believe that given the makeup of the court hearing the case, and its previous ruling against the parents program, the judges involved would likely strike down DACA as well.
If the court allows arguments against DACA, the Justice Department would be forced to decide whether it will defend the program. While Trump has recently spoken about how sympathetic he is to the “Dreamers” who receive DACA, saying the choice is “very, very hard to make,” he campaigned on a pledge to immediately rescind it. And the US attorney general, former Sen. Jeff Sessions, has been a chief opponent of the program.
The White House offered a cryptic statement on the program’s future, expressing only concern with illegal immigration.
“The President’s priority remains protecting the jobs, wages and security of American workers, families and communities — including the millions of Hispanic and African American workers disadvantaged by illegal immigration,” an administration official said.
On the call with reporters and a DACA recipient, Masto and California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris extolled its virtues, citing estimates that the US economy would lose hundreds of billions of dollars without the contributions of DACA recipients.
“This is not just about what is morally right, this is not only a point about what is right in terms of fighting for the ideals of our country,” Harris said. “This is also right and smart in terms of public benefits.”
Both are co-sponsors of one bipartisan proposal to make the program permanent in Congress, the Dream Act, which also has three Republican co-sponsors. It’s one of four proposed bills that would codify DACA if the administration were to rescind it or the courts were to strike it down.
The Department of Justice did not respond to a CNN request for comment.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the division of the Department of Homeland Security, said the program remains under review.
“The Department of Homeland Security’s stance remains the same — the future of the DACA program continues to be under review with the administration,” said USCIS press secretary Gillian Christensen. “The President has remarked on the need to handle DACA with compassion and with heart. As a matter of policy, we do not comment on pending litigation, but we have said before only Congress can enact a permanent solution to the DACA situation.”
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I think the last statement in Tal’s article, from USCIS, hits the nail on the head. Congress has to come up with a solution to this issue or there will be chaos. Imagine another 800,000 cases of young people thrown into the U.S. Immigration Courts on top of the 610,000 cases already there! It’s Jason Dzubow’s vision of “Trump’s 100 year deportation plan” in action. http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/08/14/jason-dzubow-in-the-asylumist-trumps-101-year-plan-for-removals-malevolence-tempered-by-incompetence/
As Nolan Rappaport has pointed out, it’s unlikely that any of the pending bills, in their present forms, will attract enough GOP support to be enacted. http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/08/07/n-rappaport-in-the-hill-dems-dreamer-bill-offers-false-hope/
But perhaps Democrats and some willing Republicans can work on a compromise legislative solution. Otherwise, the results aren’t likely to be pretty — for the Dreamers or for our country’s future.
PWS
08-15-17

NOLAN RAPPAPORT IN THE HILL: RAISE ACT COULD BE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR DREAMERS!

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/346367-how-trumps-legal-immigration-cuts-could-be-a-blessing-to

Nolan writes:

“Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) recently introduced a revised version of the bill addressing legal immigration into the United States, the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act.  It is supposed to spur economic growth and raise working Americans’ wages by giving priority to the best-skilled immigrants from around the world and reducing overall immigration by half.

Supporters include President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, andActing Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke.

Nevertheless, it will not reach the president’s desk without support from influential Democratic congressmen, which will be difficult to get and won’t be free.
According to Representative Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.), the RAISE Act “and the bear hug by the Bannon/Kelly/Trump White House — betrays the deep animosity towards legal immigration that has become the central, unifying tenet of the Republican Party.”

. . . .

Suggestions for a compromise.

The main price for Gutierrez’s support would be to establish a DREAM Act program that would be based on an appropriate merit-based point system.

The number of undocumented aliens who might benefit from a dream act can range from 2.5 to 3.3 million.  It isn’t likely that an agreement will be reached if Gutierrez insists on a number in that range.

Concessions have to be made to achieve an acceptable compromise, and allowing termination of the Visa Waiver Program would be a reasonable choice.  An alternative would be to keep the program as is but distribute the visas on a merit point system instead of using a lottery.

The refugee provision is problematic, but the president has sole authority to determine the number of admissions and the current president supports the 50,000 cap. The Democrats will try to eliminate this cap or raise it if they can’t eliminate it, but this should not be a deal breaker if the other issues are worked out satisfactorily.

The restrictions on family-based immigration, however, are another matter.  They should be modified.  Cotton and Purdue doomed their bill to failure with these provisions.  They hurt constituents on both sides of the aisle.

Moreover, they do not make any sense.  What does national interest mean if the family-unification needs of citizens and legal permanent residents don’t count?

Some advocates strongly opposes the point system because they think it fails to take into account the needs of U.S. businesses, but their concern is based on the point criterion in the current version of the RAISE Act, which has not been subjected to any hearings or markups yet.  If the senators and Gutierrez cannot work out a compromise that protects the needs of U.S. businesses, there will be plenty of time to make additional changes.

This isn’t just about moving these bills through congress.  According to recent Gallup polls, “Americans view Congress relatively poorly, with job approval ratings of the institution below 30% since October 2009.”

And the current Republican-controlled congress is not turning this around.  Reaching an agreement with the Democrats on an immigration reform bill that includes a DREAM Act legalization program would be a good place to start.”

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Go over to The Hill at the above link to read Nolan’s complete article.

PWS

08-13-17

 

TWO NEW ONES FROM CNN’S AMAZING TAL KOPAN: September May Bring Dark Clouds For Dreamers — Trump Administration Lags In Filling Top Spots!

Good morning! Happy recess.

Thought you might find a couple stories of mine that we published this morning interesting.

As always, all the best,

Tal

 

 

A storm is brewing for DACA this September

By: Tal Kopan, CNN

A suite of pressures on the policy that protects young undocumented immigrants is brewing — and it could mean the program soon either becomes permanent or disappears entirely.

Next month, the Trump administration faces both an ultimatum from challengers to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA, and a potentially nasty government funding fight that could require an 11th hour deal to avert a shutdown.

Last week, the administration’s biggest defender of DACA moved much closer to the President, who has also spoken about being sympathetic to DACA recipients. Gen. John Kelly is now the White House chief of staff, and as homeland security secretary, he spoke frequently about preserving the program under this administration.

But the move also takes him out of the department that was responsible for issuing permits under the Obama administration policy — and he recently warned Democrats on the Hill that the program’s prospects are dim.

When Congress wraps up its August recess, members will return to a consequential month — one in which they may be forced to act whether they want to or not.

The earliest trigger will be September 5. That’s the deadline in an ultimatum issued by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine other state attorneys general to the Trump administration: Rescind DACA or we will challenge it in an unfriendly court. They have already succeeded in stopping a similar program to protect the parents of childhood arrivals to the US.

Trump said the ultimate decision on what to do will be made by him.

“It’s a decision that I make and it’s a decision that’s very, very hard to make. I really understand the situation now,” Trump said in a conversation with reporters on Air Force One last month. “I understand the situation very well. What I’d like to do is a comprehensive immigration plan. But our country and political forces are not ready yet.”

Trump has spoken recently about having compassion for recipients of the policy, which protects undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation and allows them to work and study in the US. But he also pledged to end the program “immediately” on the campaign trail, and his base strongly opposes the Obama administration policy they call an “amnesty.”

That could make punting the issue to Congress an appealing solution for the administration.

“My assumption is that the cleanest thing they can do, though they’ll take the vast majority of the blame for ending the program, is simply announce come September 5 a sunset of the program, that they’ll stop approving applications, and then invite Congress to work on legislation,” said a Democratic congressional staffer familiar with the issue who spoke on condition of anonymity to be candid.

Story continues here http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/07/politics/daca-coming-storm/index.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 200-day mark, Trump nominations still lag

By: Tal Kopan, CNN

On President Donald Trump’s 200th day in office, he still lags far behind his predecessors in staffing up his administration, both in terms of nominations and confirming those positions.

Any new administration has to fill roughly 4,000 positions across the government, more than 1,200 of which require Senate confirmation. While no administration can accomplish that task in 200 days, the nonprofit good-government group Partnership for Public Service recommends having the most important 300-400 confirmed by August recess.

Trump hasn’t come close.

The President got a big boost to his progress last week when the Senate confirmed en masse more than five dozen outstanding nominees — roughly doubling the number of nominees Trump has had confirmed.

But he still remains far behind.

As of August 4, when the Senate left town for its August recess, Trump has nominated 277 people for key posts, has had 124 confirmed, and has withdrawn eight of the nominations, according to CNN’s tracker.

The Partnership for Public Service has identified 577 executive branch positions as being particularly essential — and Trump has only successfully filled about a fifth of them.

Meanwhile, his predecessor fared far better at the same point in their terms. President Barack Obama had 433 nominations and 310 confirmations at the same point, President George W. Bush had nominated 414 and had 294 confirmed, and President Bill Cilnton had 345 nominations and 252 confirmed.

Trump’s rate of 45% of nominees confirmed lags behind Obama’s 72%, Bush’s 71% and Clinton’s 73%. His nominees have also taken far longer to confirm — an average of 54 days compared with 41, 35 and 30 respectively.

The White House has consistently placed blame for its slow pace on Democrats — the minority party in the Senate — arguing they’ve employed stall tactics to slow-walk Trump’s confirmations.

Indeed, before the failure of the Senate to advance a plan to repeal Obamacare, Senate Democrats were forcing Republicans to go through all procedural steps for nominees, dragging out the process.

But part of the slowness has also been due to difficulty getting paperwork in for many of the nominees, and some announced nominations were not transmitted to the Senate for formal consideration for months. Trump also lags in naming officials amid reports that Cabinet officials and the White House have butted heads over potential candidates.

Trump has had his entire Cabinet confirmed, although when he selected John Kelly as his chief of staff late last month, he created a vacancy at the Department of Homeland Security. But experts say his slowness to fill deputy positions at agencies is equally important, as those officials handle much of the day-to-day management of government.

Partnership for Public Service President Max Stier, who has advised multiple presidents and presidential candidates, including Trump, on transitioning into office, said the President should be prioritizing filling positions if he wants to execute his agenda.

“While the pace of nominations for political appointees has picked up in recent weeks, critical leadership positions remain vacant at almost every agency and department,” Stier said. “The President must prioritize getting his full team in place. Doing so will strengthen his ability to run the government, achieve his priorities and deal effectively with the inevitable crises that will take place in our complicated and dangerous world.”

Story link here: http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/07/politics/trump-200-days-nominations/index.html

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Thanks, Tal, for your incisive and timely reporting and for making it readily available to us.

PWS

08-07-17

 

 

N. RAPPAPORT IN THE HILL: DEMS’ DREAMER BILL OFFERS FALSE HOPE!

Nolan writes:

“Late last month, Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), introduced the American Hope Act, H.R. 3591, with 116 co-sponsors, all Democrats.

The bill would provide conditional permanent resident status for undocumented aliens who were brought to the U.S. before their 18th birthday, which would permit them to live and work here legally for three years and put them on a path to Legal Permanent Resident status and citizenship.

Such bills are referred to as “DREAM Acts,” an acronym for “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act.”

It might be more accurate, however, to call this bill “The False Hope Act.”

Bills to provide lawful status for undocumented aliens who were brought here as children have been pending in Congress since 2001, and we are yet to see one enacted legislatively, rather than by executive action.  And this one was introduced by Democrats in a Republican-controlled Congress.  Moreover, it is out of step with President Donald Trump’s policies on legal immigration.

. . . .

Why hasn’t a DREAM Act bill been enacted?  

No one knows for sure.  I think it is due mainly to the fact that the number of undocumented aliens who would benefit from such legislation could get quite large.  Also, the fact that they are innocent of wrongdoing with respect to being here unlawfully does not make it in our national interest to let them stay.  This is particularly problematic with respect to the American Hope Act.  Section 4 of this bill includes a waiver that applies to some serious criminal exclusion grounds.

Although estimates for the number of undocumented aliens who could be impacted are not available yet for the American Hope Act, they are available for similar bills that were introduced this year, the Recognizing America’s Children Act, H.R. 1468, and the Dream Act of 2017, S. 1615.

The Migration Policy Institute estimates that potentially 2,504,000 aliens would be able to meet the minimum age at arrival and years of residence thresholds for the House bill and 3,338,000 for the Senate bill.  However, some of them would need to complete educational requirements before they could apply.

Trump is supporting a revised version of the RAISE Act which would reduce the annual number of legal immigrants from one million to 500,000 over the next decade.  It does not seem likely therefore that he will be receptive to a program that would make a very substantial increase in the number of legal immigrants.

Not merit-based.

The American Hope Act would treat all immigrant youth who were brought here as children the same, regardless of educational level, military service, or work history.  Gutiérrez said in a press release, “We are not picking good immigrants versus bad immigrants or deserving versus undeserving, we are working to defend those who live among us and should have a place in our society.”

This is inconsistent with the skills-based point system in the revised version of the RAISE Act that Trump is supporting.  It would prioritize immigrants who are most likely to succeed in the United States and expand the economy.  Points would be based on factors such as education, English-language ability, age, and achievements.

Thus, Democrats’ American Hope Act as presently written is very likely to suffer the same fate as the other DREAM Acts.

Success requires a fresh, new approach, and the approach taken by the revised RAISE Act might work by basing eligibility on national interest instead of on a desire to help the immigrants.  Certainly, it would be more likely to get Trump’s support.”

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Read Nolan’s complete article over at The Hill on the above link.

I agree with Nolan insofar as any immigration bill sponsored by
Democrats at present is DOA. On the other hand, I doubt that the RAISE Act will pass either. There aren’t enough votes in the GOP caucus to pass any type of meaningful immigration reform without some help from the Democrats.

So, it doesn’t hurt for the Democrats to start laying down some specific “markers” for some future negotiations on immigration reform. Also, while it might not happen in my liftetime, history suggests that the Democrats are no more permanently “dead” as a party than the GOP was after the first Obama election and Democratic surge into power in the Executive and Legislative Branches.

The last time Democrats were in power, the Latino/Hispanic voters who had helped put them there were treated as largely non-existent. Indeed, the Obama Administration ran the U.S. Immigration Courts largely as if they were an extension of the Bush Administration, giving the advocacy community the cold shoulder, enacting zero reforms, and pitching a “near shutout” on outside appointments to the Immigration Court and the BIA over which they had total control.

The next time Democrats come into power, it would be wise of the groups that will help put them there to insist on the types of specific reforms and improvements that the Democrats are now articulating in “can’t pass” legislative proposals. And, in addition to doing something for Dreamers and other migrants who are contributing to our society, meaningful Immigration Court reform to remove it from Executive Branch control needs to be high on the list. Realistically, that’s probably going to require some bipartisan cooperation, participation, and support.

I also disagree with Nolan’s suggestion that it would not be in the national interest to let “Dreamers” stay. Of course, it would be strongly in our national interest to fully incorporate these fine young folks into our society so that they could achieve their full potential and we could get the full benefit of their talents, skills, and courage.

I had a steady stream of DACA applicants coming through my court in Arlington. Sure, some of them had problems, and DHS did a good job of weeding those folks out and/or revoking status if problems arose. But, the overwhelming majority were fine young people who either already were making significant contributions to our society or who were well positioned to do so in the future. Indeed, they were indistinguishable from their siblings and classsmates who had the good fortune to be born in the U.S., except perhaps that they often had to work a little harder and show a little more drive to overcome some of the inaccurate negative stereotypes about undocumented migrants and some of the disabilities imposed on them.

PWS

08-07-17