Both the White House and Republican lawmakers are looking for ways to narrowly change the nation’s immigration policy to stop a massive surge in illegal immigration along the southern border.
The GOP senator leading the charge is Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee. Johnson told the Washington Examiner he plans to introduce legislation “shortly” after lawmakers return from a two-week recess in April that would address the way immigration officials determine who can claim asylum to remain in the United States.
He hopes the measure can be bipartisan and believes, based on comments from the Democrats on his committee, that both parties will be on board.
“I was very encouraged by a number of Democrats walking by me, on the dais, just basically saying lets get to work on this, we have to fix this,” Johnson said.
Johnson held a hearing last week to examine the latest surge of illegal immigration along the southwest border. At the hearing, Johnson displayed a chart he’s been distributing around the Capitol lately as he tries to draw attention to the ways in which illegal immigration surges are tied to the nation’s immigration policy.
So far this year, Johnson’s chart points out, 240,000 migrants have been apprehended, some at ports of entry but most at points in between along the southwest border.
Much of the increase, the chart notes, accelerated after July 2015, when a federal judge ruled that illegal immigrant parents must be released with children soon after they are apprehended.
The court ruling attracted mass family migration from Central America as adults learned bringing children to the U.S. border would prevent them from being detained or immediately sent home.
The White House is moving along a parallel track in seeking ways to make changes that would discourage mass migration. The Trump administration is planning changes that don’t require congressional approval, which, despite Sen. Johnson’s optimism, could prove to be difficult to obtain in the House where Democrats are in charge.
Trump kicked off the effort to reform the Department of Homeland Security by ousting Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Her departure was soon followed by the resignation of other top DHS officials. The purge has caused bipartisan alarm on Capitol Hill.
According to a senior administration official, the Homeland Security Department will be directed to employ a higher threshold for allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the United States under the “credible fear” standard. Up to 90% of Central American migrants are allowed to remain in the United States initially after making such a claim to agents with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Only 10-15% of those making such claims are ultimately determined to qualify for asylum when their cases are more thoroughly reviewed by asylum officers. More than 90% of those initially let go under the “credible fear” claim end up staying in the country illegally.
“Individuals conducting the exam are part of the problem,” the senior administration official said. “One of the biggest frustrations is that USCIS hasn’t changed its culture from the Obama years. The reflexive tendency is to believe stories even if they don’t stand up to fact.”
The Trump administration is also seeking new regulations that would allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold families and children for much longer than 20 days in order to provide time for a more thorough review of asylum claims.
Johnson said he is working with the Senate Judiciary Committee to craft legislation that would alter the nation’s asylum policies and the law governing how long illegal immigrant families can be detained.
“Right now, when 85% of asylum claims are denied, there is something wrong with that initial determination,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he’s not in favor of changing the current standard for granting asylum in the United States, “but change the bar for that initial determination.”
Johnson has the backing of Senate Republican leaders, who have criticized Trump for his recent purge at Homeland Security but have long agreed with him that the surge in illegal immigration along the border is rooted in bad policy and has to be fixed.
“We desperately need some immigration legislation,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said last week on Fox News “Special Report.” “The president’s entirely correct about the crisis at the border and the fact that our immigration laws do not allow us to deal with the crisis at the border.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Monday he was concerned about reports of more imminent departures in the White House after the latest shakeup of top immigration positions.
During a Monday night interview on Fox News, Grassley said he was caught off guard by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen submitting her resignation but understood that President Trump has the prerogative to decide who he wants to run the department.
“I am very surprised. But the president has a right to have whoever he wants,” Grassley said. “And the acting person is very well qualified.”
Trump announced Nielsen’s departure over Twitter Sunday after a heated meeting on the border and immigration. But Grassley said he is more concerned about reports that others could be on the cutting board, according to the Washington Post.
L. Francis Cissna, the head of Citizenship and Immigration Services, and John Mitnick, a senior member of Nielsen’s team, might be pushed out next, and Grassley said this makes him “very, very concerned.”
“One, those are good public servants,” he said. “Secondly, besides the personal connection I have with them and the qualifications they have, they are the intellectual basis for what the president wants to accomplish in immigration.”
When Grassley served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Cissna and he worked closely together.
“The president has to have some stability and particularly with the number one issue that he’s made for his campaign, throughout his two and a half years of presidency,” Grassley said, noting he has been in contact with Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, about the issue Monday.
The senior senator from Iowa also knocked Stephen Miller, one of Trump’s senior policy advisers and an immigration hardliner who reportedly played a big role in orchestrating Nielsen’s ouster.
“I think it would be hard for him to demonstrate he’s accomplished anything for the president,” Grassley said.
This shakeup also includes the coming departure of Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles, who Trump reportedly called “Dumbo” behind his back. James Murray was named as Alles’ replacement and Nielsen is set to be replaced by Kevin McAleenan.
The departures come days after the nomination of Ron Vitiello, who was to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was suddenly pulled from consideration.
A Republican advocacy group has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission arguing that Riley Roberts – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ boyfriend – illegally received $6,000 through a political action committee (PAC) allied with her congressional campaign.
The PAC is called Justice Democrats, founded by progressive commentator Cenk Uygur and Saikat Chakrabarti.
Chakrabarti now serves as AOC’s chief of staff.
Fox News’ Perry Chiaramonte has more:
Members of the Washington, D.C.-based Coolidge Reagan Foundation allege in their complaint that when the Brand New Congress PAC (BNC) — a political arm of Brand New Congress LLC, a company that was hired by Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., to run and support her campaign — paid Roberts for marketing services, it potentially ran afoul of campaign finance law.
“It’s not illegal for [Ocasio-Cortez] to pay her boyfriend, but it appears that they created some sort of scheme to avoid claiming the money [as a campaign expense],” Dan Backer, a D.C.-based attorney who filed the complaint on behalf of the foundation, told Fox News. “What exactly did he do for that money?”
It was first reported last week that the Brand New Congress PAC paid Roberts during the early days of the Ocasio-Cortez campaign. According to FEC records, the PAC made two payments to Roberts – one in August 2017 and one in September 2017 – both for $3,000.
The FEC complaint specifically cites the use of “intermediaries” to make the payments, “the vague and amorphous nature of the services Riley ostensibly provided,” the relatively small amount of money raised by the campaign at that stage and “the romantic relationship between Ocasio-Cortez and Riley” in asserting the transactions might violate campaign finance law.
Read More: http://americanactionnews.com/articles/money-funneled-to-aoc-s-boyfriend-sparks-possible-investigation
Source: The Washington Pundit