The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a request from the Trump administration for approval of its plan to shutter the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on March 5, which means some pieces of the program will remain active even in the absence of congressional action.
But DACA recipients, who were illegally brought to the United States as children, are also finding help in another quarter. The LIBRE Initiative, a policy and activism shop supported by the Koch brothers' network, has launched a six-figure campaign to pressure Congress to make DACA protections permanent. The group is running online advertising that touts these young immigrants, also known as DREAMers, as "Americans and patriots," The Washington Post reports, "and incorporates messages of economic and family values as an appeal to conservative audiences."
"This situation has an expiration date. We can't afford to kick the can down the road," Daniel Garza, LIBRE Initiative president, told the Post. He supports "policy that allows DACA DREAMers to achieve their dreams but also strengthens America. We are all in on getting a reform that is going to allow that to happen."
Both Republican and Democratic senators voted Thursday to reject consideration of a bipartisan immigration proposal put together by the so-called "Common Sense Coalition," The New York Times reports. The vote was 54-45, leaving the legislation six votes short of the 60 votes it needed to be considered.
The bill, titled the Immigration Security and Opportunity Act, would have offered a 10-year path to citizenship for DREAMers — young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children — as well as $25 billion over a decade for border security. It would also have curbed family-based immigration, but would not have ended the visa lottery program. President Trump had publicly opposed the bill.
Instead, Trump favored a bill sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). The Senate overwhelmingly shot that legislation down Thursday in a vote of 39-60.
Trump has informally threatened to veto a bipartisan bill that would just tackle border security and DREAMers, calling it a "dangerous policy that will harm the nation." Jeva Lange
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) is poised to introduce legislation that would more than double the number of temporary high-skilled visas available to foreign workers, Bloomberg Politics reports. Tech companies such as Google and Facebook argue that the legislation is necessary to keep American companies competitive because there are not enough U.S. graduates in the desired fields to keep up with demand. "High-skilled immigration reform has received strong bipartisan support in the past and Sen. Hatch believes it would be an asset to any larger immigration deal," said Hatch's spokesman, Matt Whitlock.
The proposal is expected to allow for as many as 195,000 H1-B visas, an increase of 110,000. And while the bill could find the support of Democrats — an earlier version of the legislation was co-sponsored by Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) — it could nevertheless face opposition by President Trump, who has slammed the H1-B system as being a "cheap labor program."
Hatch's to-be-proposed legislation is also expected to do away with caps on the number of permanent residents that can come from any one country, "a provision that has often stymied workers from India and China," Bloomberg Politics writes. Additionally, it would loosen restrictions on others authorized to live and work in the U.S. permanently, like family members or people with advanced STEM degrees.
The bill could potentially be rolled into a larger immigration package, such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals legislation that has a deadline for being brought to a vote by Feb. 8. Read more about the legislation at Bloomberg Politics. Jeva Lange
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke announced Monday that roughly 59,000 Haitians living in the United States who have been protected from deportation since 2010 have 18 months to leave the United States.
Haitians who came to the U.S. after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti in 2010 have been safe under a program known as Temporary Protected Status, enacted by Congress in the 1990s to help large groups of undocumented people who fled to the U.S. from natural disasters and wars. More than 30,000 of the affected Haitians live in Florida, and thousands of others live in New York City. Duke is giving the Haitians until July 22, 2019, to leave.
In May, when White House Chief of Staff John Kelly led the Department of Homeland Security, he said conditions in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, had improved enough that the U.S. should stop granting Haitians temporary protection. He extended the program for another six months, but warned that those affected should start preparing to return to Haiti, the Los Angeles Times reports. Catherine Garcia
Nicaraguan migrants who have had temporary protected status in the United States will be subject to deportation starting in January 2019, the Trump administration announced Monday.
There are 325,000 people living in the United States under temporary protected status, meaning they cannot be detained by immigration agents, can travel outside the country with permission, and can obtain work permits. They come from 10 countries, including Nicaragua, Honduras, and Haiti, and are fleeing natural disasters, conflict, drugs, and gang violence. A senior Homeland Security Department official told the Los Angeles Times the department's acting secretary, Elaine Duke, has decided things are better now in Nicaragua, and migrants can start going back. She needs more information on Honduras, though, and extended the temporary protected status for Hondurans through July 5.
There are more than 5,000 Nicaraguans under temporary protected status in the U.S. and 86,000 Hondurans, and the administration had until Monday to decide whether to extend their protections. Some of the migrants have lived in the U.S. for up to 20 years, and the senior official told the Times the administration would support Congress if lawmakers ever came up with a permanent solution that let protected migrants stay in the U.S. Catherine Garcia
A New Hampshire border patrol checkpoint 72 miles south of the Canadian border has raised some local eyebrows and marks "the latest in an escalation of border security efforts from [the] new presidential administration," the Concord Monitor reports. The location of the checkpoint this week — on the southbound side of Interstate 93, in Woodstock — is not new, although such stops were not conducted between 2012 and 2017.
A Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman said that the stops have recently resumed because of increased funding to the agency as well as "intelligence and operational needs." In August, 25 undocumented immigrants were picked up from the checks and 18 U.S. citizens were arrested, most for drug use, which is a "side-focus" of the checkpoint, the Monitor writes.
Most people described their stops as being quick: A Monitor reporter and photographer were asked if they were "both U.S. citizens," and a verbal "yes" had them on their way. But Carla Gericke of the libertarian group Foundation for New Hampshire Independence said the stops are "extremely troubling."
The Department of Homeland Security announces intention to collect information about immigrants' social media accounts
The Department of Homeland Security has announced its intention to expand the sort of information it collects on immigrants, with "social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results" subject to be added to immigration files as soon as Oct. 18, BuzzFeed News reports. The new policy would apply to both green card holders and naturalized citizens.
The changes "will not only allow DHS to collect information about an immigrant's Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts, but it also mentions all 'search results,'" Gizmodo writes. "It's not immediately clear if that means the agency will have access to things such as Google search histories nor is it clear how that would be obtained."
An additional consequence of the new policy is that everyone who interacts with immigrants on social media would also presumably be subject to having those conservations under surveillance, Gizmodo reports. What's more, social media surveillance has historically not proven to be a promising mode of vetting: "In cases of benefit denial, the denial was based on information found outside of social media," presidential transition documents by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services report.
The Brennan Center's co-director of liberty and national security, Faiza Patel, raised another concern to BuzzFeed News: "The question is, do we really want the government monitoring political views?" Patel said. "Social media may not be able to predict violence but it can certainly tell you a lot about a person's political and religious views." Read the full report at BuzzFeed News. Jeva Lange
An undocumented mother and father living in North Brownsville, Texas, were told by their local hospital that their 2-month-old son needed emergency stomach surgery that required them to travel to the only capable nearby facility, Driscoll Children's Hospital, in Corpus Christi, Texas. In order to get to Corpus Christi, Oscar and Irma Sanchez would have had to pass through a Border Patrol checkpoint. But even before they decided to go, a Border Patrol agent showed up at the hospital, likely summoned by a nurse, and told the parents that he would escort them through the checkpoint but arrest them and put them in deportation proceedings afterwards, NPR reports. The Sanchezes agreed to go:
The Border Patrol followed the ambulance, the night of May 24, as it raced to Corpus through desolate ranchland, carrying Oscar, Irma, and tiny Isaac — with an IV in his arm and a tube in his stomach. Once they arrived at Driscoll Children's Hospital, the green-uniformed agents never left the undocumented couple's side. Officers followed the father to the bathroom and the cafeteria and asked the mother to leave the door open when she breast-fed Isaac.
"Everywhere we went in the hospital," Oscar says, "they followed us." [NPR]
Oscar and Irma Sanchez have no criminal records and "advocates are puzzled why the Border Patrol chose to put the Sanchezes under such intense supervision, which one would expect for higher-value targets like drug traffickers or MS-13 gang members," NPR writes. Additionally, the Sanchezes' case raises immigration advocates' concerns about the Trump administration's treatment of "sensitive locations," or safe zones. Under President Obama, the Department of Homeland Security avoided arresting immigrants at hospitals, schools, churches, or public demonstrations.
"That's how you treat criminals that are harmful, and that's understandable for our own protection," said immigrant advocate Ana Hinojosa. "But [the Sanchezes are] a family that's just here trying to make a living, provide an education and a future for their children." Read or listen to the full story at NPR. Jeva Lange