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A CDC order suspended ‘the introduction of all individuals without proper documentation.’

More than 88,000 immigrants trying to enter the U.S. illegally have been turned back since a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) emergency health order in response to the coronavirus crisis that allows for illegal immigrants and asylum seekers to be quickly removed from the U.S.

According to DHS data obtained by Fox News, border officials have prevented more than 88,100 individuals attempting to enter the U.S. illegally as of mid-June, and have been quickly turning them back normally within just a few hours, often without them even entering the country.

The administration announced in March that the CDC had directed DHS to “suspend the introduction of all individuals without proper documentation” into the U.S. from both the northern and southern borders in response to the spread of the deadly virus.

Under those authorities, known as “Title 42,” Border Patrol estimates that the average time from encountering a migrant in the field to expelling them from the country is just two hours, compared with the days or weeks it could normally take to process, detain and remove an illegal immigrant. Those authorities have been credited with keeping detention centers, which a year ago were packed amid an ongoing border crisis, relatively empty.

“The president’s decision to implement CDC and HHS authorities quickly averted the profound public health and national security threat at our Southwest border and will endure as one of the pivotal actions taken against the coronavirus in the United States,” a senior administration official told Fox News. “If not for this effort, tens of thousands of aliens acting as potential carriers for the coronavirus would have continued to enter law enforcement facilities near the border in congregate settings, making our Southwest border a major vein for coronavirus outbreak.”

The DHS data also show that between January and July, the total number of those apprehended, deemed inadmissible, or expelled under Title 42 at the southern border, have comprised 130 separate nationalities — including China and Brazil — attempting to gain entry.

Trump has placed a great deal of emphasis on his border and immigration-related actions in how he reacted to the virus — even as he has faced criticism for this administration’s handling of the crisis. He placed travel bans on China, Europe, Iran and the U.K. in the initial days of the crisis as part of an effort to combat the virus.

Officials are saying that the Title 42 authorities allowed the U.S. to avoid an overcrowding at facilities that could have been deadly in spreading the virus, at facilities, to staff, and eventually into the U.S. homeland itself. Many of those migrants also have been packed into vehicles or shelters on their journey north.

“We already know that overcrowding at DHS facilities can lead to increased cases of easily communicable diseases, such as measles, mumps, chicken pox, and the flu, but only a single individual infected with the coronavirus within the detained migrant community could ignite an acute public health crisis whereby our frontline defenses and operations would be crippled, law enforcement facilities at or near the border would become incubators of the illness, and intensive care units and hospital beds for Americans overwhelmed virtually overnight,” the official said.

Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan told Fox News in May that the numbers of migrants in custody had gone down from the tens of thousands last year to just over 100.

“This strategy has kept a potentially vast number of migrants from overwhelming our health care systems along the border,” Morgan told Fox News in a response to written questions. “And our Border Patrol agents are seeing fewer people attempt to cross the border illegally. In fact, CBP’s encounters with migrant individuals have dropped to approximately 500 a day.”

The Title 42 authorities are just one tool the administration has used to bring down numbers at the border since the 2019 crisis saw more than 100,000 a month apprehended at the border in the spring.

Key to that has been the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) or the “Remain-in-Mexico” policy, which sent migrants back to Mexico to await their immigration hearings. The Trump administration has also signed a series of asylum cooperative agreements with Northern Triangle countries that has stopped migrant flows, or allowed swift returns to those countries for asylum claims.

Meanwhile, the administration also has been forging ahead with construction of a wall at the southern border, marking 200 miles built last month. Officials say this helps stem illegal immigration and makes it easier to apprehend migrants attempting to cross the border.

Author: Adam Shaw

Source: Fox News: Over 88,000 migrants trying to enter US illegally turned back since March: DHS data

More than a million stimulus payments totaling nearly $1.4 billion went to dead people after the Treasury Department and IRS, as they sought to get cash out as quickly as possible, neglected to use death records to prevent payments going to the deceased, according to a new watchdog report.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, which looked at how the nearly $3 trillion stimulus package was administered, said that the IRS typically uses third-party data such as death records maintained by the Social Security Administration to prevent erroneous tax refund claims.

The CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Trump at the end of March, provided $1,200 to adults and $500 for children to help reinvigorate the economy after it was largely shuttered in response to the coronavirus crisis. Payments were distributed based on either a 2018 or 2019 tax return, and total payments added up to $269 billion.

But with the economic stimulus checks sent out in April and May in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Treasury and IRS “did not use the death records to stop payments to deceased individuals for the first three batches of payments because of the legal interpretation under which IRS was operating.”

IRS counsel reportedly “determined that IRS did not have the legal authority to deny payments to those who filed a return for 2019, even if they were deceased at the time of payment.” It also advised “discretion” provided for in the CARES Act (which authorized the payments) to apply the same set of rules to those who filed a 2018 return but not one in 2019.

Treasury officials also cited language in the CARES Act that demanded the payments be made as “rapidly as possible” as to why Treasury and IRS used policies and procedures developed in 2008 for stimulus payments, and consequently “did not use the death records as a filter to halt payments to decedents in the first three batches of payments” in an effort to fulfill that mandate from Congress.

The report said that IRS had implemented a process to use death records to update taxpayer accounts in 2013, and that bypassing that control “substantially increased the risk of potentially making improper payments to decedents.”

The report, citing the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, says that $1.4 billion went to dead people as of April 30.

Treasury officials told the GAO that “upon learning that payments had been made to decedents, Treasury and IRS, in consultation with counsel, determined that a person is not entitled to receive a payment if he or she is deceased as of the date the payment is to be paid.”

Officials then removed such payments starting with the fourth batch of payments and on May 6, the IRS announced that payments to dead or incarcerated people should be returned. However, it said it didn’t plan to take further steps to notify people on how to return them.

It’s unclear what part of that money may have been spent, if relatives or other associates were able to access their accounts for direct deposits or somehow able to cash checks.

The report recommends a number of steps, including the IRS taking further efforts to notify people how to return such payments, and for Congress to amend the Social Security Act to allow the SSA to share death data with the Treasury.

President Trump said this week he wants to do another round of stimulus checks, although he didn’t say when, or how much the checks would be.

“We will be doing another stimulus package, it’ll be very good, it’ll be very generous,” he said.

Author: Adam Shaw

Source: Fox News: Feds sent nearly $1.4 billion in stimulus money to dead people, report finds

EXCLUSIVE: Construction of the wall at the southern border has sped up amid the coronavirus crisis, and it remains a “top priority” for the Trump administration, the head of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) told Fox News this week.

“This pandemic has not slowed the construction of the border wall system. In fact, we’re increasing the pace of construction,” Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan said. “COVID-19 should be a wake-up call for all Americans that border security is national security. Preventing and slowing down the introduction of a deadly virus into the U.S. from outside our borders is exactly why border security matters, and why the wall matters.”

Morgan said that 182 miles of the wall have been built so far, as the administration tries to meet its goal of completing 450 miles by the end of the year, after years of battling in Congress and the courts for funding. It’s a significant jump in a few months — the administration marked the 100th mile built in January and surpassed 150 miles last month.

“Border security is national security and the border wall system is a priority in protecting the American people. We’ve been consistent about our need for a wall, and we are full steam ahead on its construction,” he said, in written responses to questions from Fox News.

While much of that construction has been in places where there were already existing structures, officials have been keen to point out that there is a big difference between this wall and the old landing-mat style structures that could easily be driven or climbed over.

“Keep in mind that a comprehensive border wall system is not just a physical structure, but it also includes more roads for Border Patrol enforcement, and ever-evolving technology like cameras and sensors — equipment that is vital for confronting the unique and diverse threats we face, including pandemics,” Morgan said.

The wall is one of the Trump administration’s most controversial policies — having served as a lightning rod for criticism ever since the campaign. Democrats and pro-immigrant activists have claimed that a wall is cruel, while simultaneously claiming it doesn’t work.

Last month, dozens of House and Senate Democrats wrote to the administration urging it to halt all border wall construction.

“Money that should be invested in health care, small businesses and fighting the spread of COVID-19 is instead being used to build an ineffective and wasteful border wall that does not solve our immigration crisis or protect our homeland,” the lawmakers wrote, according to Politico. “We should be using all resources and funding to combat this virus and protect Americans, instead of using critical funding and resources to continue the construction of a border wall.”

It’s an argument that the administration flatly rejects — and it has pushed a number of immigration and border-related measures in response to the crisis, including allowing CBP to immediately return those who enter the country illegally, as well as limiting nonessential travel at both the southern border and the U.S. border with Canada.

The wall is part of that effort, and CBP, in particular, had taken efforts to demonstrate the progress it is making on the barriers — recently creating an interactive website to track this.

“The border wall system is and will remain a top priority. It is an integral tool [that] improves CBP’s operational capacity with every mile of steel put into the ground to effectively impede and deny who and what is coming through our borders that may cause harm to our nation’s citizens, including infectious diseases like COVID-19,” Morgan said.

He later stressed the added health risk to agents, doctors and the public, saying the wall is a “necessary tool in our toolbox” in fighting back against the coronavirus.

“CBP has dealt with a variety of infectious disease threats in the past and it is undeniably a health security and national security matter,” he said. “The border wall system has helped us stem the spread of COVID-19.”

Author: Adam Shaw

Source: Fox News: Border wall construction has sped up amid coronavirus crisis, CBP chief says

EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, unveiled a bill Thursday to ban U.S. officials from using tech platforms supported by the Chinese government and bar taxpayer dollars from being used for related U.N. contracts — the latest move amid growing tensions between the U.S. and China.

Co-sponsored by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., the “Countering Chinese Attempts at Snooping,” or CCAS Act, comes as lawmakers and the Trump administration seek to push back against Chinese espionage efforts and global dominance.

Cruz, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Fox News that Chinese companies such as Tencent and Huawei “[a]re espionage operations for the Chinese Communist Party [CCP], masquerading as telecom companies for the 21st century.”

“Prohibiting the use of these platforms and stopping taxpayer dollars from being used to capitalize Chinese espionage infrastructure are common-sense measures to protect American national security,” he said. “These are just some of the measures we will have to take as the United States reevaluates its relationship with China and the CCP.”

The bill notes that Chinese tech companies such as Huawei, Tencent, ZTE, Alibaba and Baidu “have no recourse but to assist the Chinese Communist Party with securing access to foreign technologies and foreign networks, conducting espionage including commercial espionage, and gaining insight into the profiles, activity, or location of foreign users of Chinese hosted or facilitated social media, computer or smartphone applications.”

Cruz’s bill would require that a list be created by the Secretary of State of Chinese tech companies that enable the CCP in espionage. That list would then prohibit all U.S officials from using technology provided by those companies.

Cruz’s bill also takes aim at the United Nations, where there has been a surge in Chinese influence in recent years. The bill would offset U.S. payments to the U.N. equal to the amount paid by the world body to any of those Chinese companies.

Earlier this month, Foreign Policy Magazine reported that the United Nations had backed off a deal it had with Chinese Internet giant Tencent to help as a platform for thousands of online conversations to celebrate the United Nation’s 75th anniversary, or UN75, which takes place later this year.

When asked by Fox News if the Tencent deal had been scrapped, UN75 spokesperson Lisa Laskaridis told Fox News that “the UN75 Office is still in consultations with Tencent, no partnership agreement has been concluded.”

Just last year, Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation Chris Ford, while speaking at a conference on Sensitive Technologies in D.C., outlined the links between China and some of its best-known tech companies.

“Firms such as Huawei, Tencent, ZTE, Alibaba, and Baidu have no meaningful ability to tell the Chinese Communist Party ‘no,’” Ford said at the time.

Ford noted that such asks could be anything from requests for access to foreign networks or computer or smartphone applications. He added that “such aid may not necessarily occur routinely, but it certainly can occur — and presumably will — whenever the Party considers this useful and cares to demand it.”

Attention has been renewed on Chinese influence, particularly at the U.N., in recent weeks as the coronavirus pandemic that originated in China has spread throughout the world.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence confirmed on-record for the first time Thursday that the U.S. intelligence community is investigating whether the outbreak started as the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

President Trump also announced this month a pause in funding to the World Health Organization amid concerns about the body’s alleged pro-China ties.

Fox News’ Gillian Turner contributed to this report.

Author: Ben Evansky, Adam Shaw

Source: Fox News: Cruz bill would bar US officials from using Chinese-backed tech, stop taxpayer dollars for related UN contracts

Former Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said during the 2008 financial crisis that lawmakers should “never let a crisis go to waste,” and many Democratic lawmakers appear to be heeding that advice — using the coronavirus pandemic as a jumping-off point to renew calls for a historic expansion of government.

Emanuel repeated his mantra again last month, this time in connection with the new crisis. “Start planning for the future. This has to be the last pandemic that creates an economic depression. We’re going to have more pandemics, but this has to be the last economic depression,” he said.

The view that the crisis should be an axis for deep, long-lasting change was on display during negotiations over the $2 trillion stimulus package, in which House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn reportedly said that the package was “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

That remark brought criticism from Republicans, when Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said of Clyburn’s comments: “When we see a rising body count, they see a political opportunity. Shame on them.”

But Clyburn’s sentiment was reflected at the time in an ultimately unsuccessful House Democratic stimulus proposal that included environmental regulations on airplanes, diversity demands for the boards of companies receiving bailouts, as well as other wish list items.

The idea that the coronavirus crisis could spur a new progressive revolution is shared by California Gov. Gavin Newsom who recently said: “Absolutely, we see this as an opportunity to reshape the way we do business and how we govern.” The remark came near the end of a long answer to a question about whether he saw “the potential” in the crisis for “a new progressive era” in state and national politics.

The renewed push comes as ideas normally advanced only by progressives — such as expanded unemployment benefits and direct cash payments to every American — have been adopted by Republicans as part of a short-term response to an unprecedented national emergency. The over $2 trillion stimulus package that passed included both measures, and more remains under discussion.

But while Republicans and conservatives say that such measures are appropriate only in limited circumstances, Democratic politicians see the door as now having been opened to an enormous expansion of government. It’s an expansion that would also have no clear off-ramp.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the de facto leader of the party’s left-wing faction in the House, has called for measures including “extending Medicare/Medicaid coverage to all, Eviction freezes, No-strings UBI [universal basic income] program, eliminating work requirements for SNAP & other assistance and humanitarian provisions in prisons & decarceral policies.”

She’s previously called for COVID-19 relief to be “drafted with a lens of reparations.”

All of those ideas track closely with ideas the left-wing freshman congresswoman has been promoting since coming to Washington, D.C.

Those ideas were on display on Monday, when the congresswoman said in a press call that the $1,200 stimulus payment to most Americans was not enough, and called for regular recurring payments of almost double that. She said she foresaw a fourth round of stimulus — known as Phase 4 — including expanded health care and $2,000 in monthly reoccurring payments to all families, regardless of immigration status, and $1,000 per child.

She was joined by Progressive Caucus leaders and fellow Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, and “squad members” Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and activists in demanding an even costlier version of the economic stimulus.

The progressive caucus already outlined its priorities — including direct payments, a federal paycheck guarantee program for employers, essential worker protections, expanded health care and a vote-by-mail requirement for the 2020 federal elections. Other members touted their priorities, including Omar’s legislation to cancel rent and mortgage payments during the pandemic and Pressley’s call for student debt cancellations.

Bigger and more regular stimulus payments had been endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., when he was running for the Democratic presidential nod, as well as former 2020 hopeful Andrew Yang, who promoted the idea of a $1,000-a-month universal basic income long before the pandemic.

“They should be monthly and should go to EVERY American regardless of circumstance,” Yang said of the $1,200 payments this month.

Sanders, meanwhile, used the crisis to repeat previous calls that free health care be provided to illegal immigrants as well.

“We are all in this together and must demand that government economic and health care assistance is available to all, regardless of immigration status,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “A human being is a human being.”

Pushing for items that line up with one’s pre-existing political agenda is not exclusive to Democrats, however. President Trump, who campaigned on stricter border and immigration controls, this week announced an immigration moratorium on top of a host of other restrictionist policies such as turning away illegal immigrants and asylum seekers at the border.

The push for bigger, broader government programs is something that Republicans are likely to be wary of, even if they are backing the expansion in the short term. The free-market economist Milton Friedman once quipped that there is nothing so permanent as a temporary government program.

Should the government get into expanding on a short-term basis, politicians could find themselves in a politically difficult position when it comes to rolling back popular giveaways — especially if the economy doesn’t snap back as quickly as optimists are hoping.

Additionally, left-wing Democrats are likely to fight any return to a pre-COVID situation tooth and nail, and have already indicated as much.

“We just have to reject any calls for a return to normal,” Rep. Pressley said Monday. “Because that normal is one that was slowly killing people.”

Sanders, in a New York Times op-ed, went so far as to see a “silver lining” in the crisis.

“If there is any silver lining in the horrible pandemic and economic collapse we’re experiencing,” he said, “it is that many in our country are now beginning to rethink the basic assumptions underlying the American value system.”

Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.

Author: Adam Shaw

Source: Fox News: Dem lawmakers eye ‘opportunity’ for historic expansion of government amid coronavirus crisis

The Trump administration on Wednesday launched an interactive map of the ever-expanding wall at the southern border — as the administration looks to show the progress it has made on President Trump’s signature 2016 campaign promise.

“President Trump is delivering on his promise to build a border wall system to secure the border,” Acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan said in a statement. “Border security is national security and a strong border wall system is critical to keeping our nation safe.”

The website features a video of continuing construction at various parts of the border, as well as an interactive map that readers can zoom in on and see the stages of wall development across the border.

It shows areas that are built, under construction and that are at various stages of preconstruction. It allows users to type in specific areas and see the state of construction in moments.

It also keeps the reader up to date with the cumulative construction of the wall at the border. According to the site on Wednesday, approximately 170 miles have been built since January 2017, and about 237,000 tons of steel and 335,000 cubic yards of concrete have been used in construction.

A CBP official told Fox News last month that wall construction schedules have so far not been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Most of that construction has taken place in areas where some sort of old or dilapidated barrier already existed. But officials have argued that new 30-foot structures — that include cameras, anti-climb tech and access roads — are so different from old landing mat barriers, they should be classified as “new wall.”

Much of 2018 and 2019 was spent securing and appropriating the funding necessary for the wall — and officials say that the money is now there for the wall to be built.

But it is still not clear if the administration will meet the goal of 450 miles constructed or under construction by the end of the year that Trump has set as he seeks to convince supporters that the wall is being built.

Author: Adam Shaw

Source: Fox News: Trump administration launches border wall website with interactive construction map

The $2 trillion spending package to boost the economy in response to the coronavirus crisis includes a $350 million pot of money for “Migration and Refugee Assistance” — the latest item in the legislative behemoth that is angering critics.

While a number of items that Republicans objected to got trimmed in the final Senate bill, the Migrant and Refugee Assistance item actually increased by $50 million to $350 million. That’s more than the bill put forward by House Democrats earlier this week, which included $300 million in “Migrant and Refugee Assistance” for the State Department.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla, called it a “poison pill” that put “America LAST.”

“Democrats: This is not the time to advance your legislative agenda,” he tweeted before the bill passed the Senate late Wednesday. “This is the time to put #AmericaFirst.’

The bill ultimately passed the Senate 96-0 and is expected to pass the House in a voice vote on Friday. It includes a number of measures to boost businesses and help individuals hurt by the economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

But it includes controversial items, such as $25 million in funding for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

The Senate bill also provides $75 million to each the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. That is down from the $300 million for each that was in the House stimulus bill.

Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.

Author: Adam Shaw

Source: Fox News: Coronavirus bill includes $350 million for migration, refugee assistance

President Trump on Wednesday announced that the U.S. and Canada are temporarily closing their shared border to non-essential traffic as part of the effort to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

“We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic,” Trump tweeted. “Trade will not be affected. Details to follow!”

As of Wednesday morning, there were 6,519 cases and 114 deaths in the United States. Canada, meanwhile, has recorded 598 cases of coronavirus and has so far had eight fatalities nationwide.

The move comes as countries across the globe shut down their borders in order to combat the virus that has brought daily life to a standstill. Trump on Saturday added the U.K. and Ireland to a 30-day European travel ban, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday previously had closed Canada’s borders to all foreign nationals except U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Trudeau said the exemption for Americans at the time was due to “the level of integration of our two economies.”

Canada relies on the U.S. for 75 percent of its exports. Much of Canada’s food supply comes from or via the U.S., and 98 percent of its oil exports go to the U.S. About 18 percent of American exports go to Canada.

Trudeau is currently in self-quarantine after his wife Sophie tested positive for the virus.

Future plans for the southern U.S. border remain in development.

Fox News learned Tuesday that the Department of Homeland Security is considering a plan that would turn away asylum seekers and anyone who has crossed the southern border illegally. The idea is currently being developed by DHS staff, but there is still more work to do before it’s presented to Trump for a final decision.

“President Trump is 100 percent committed to protecting the American people from coronavirus and all options are in the table,” a DHS spokesperson told Fox News.

Fox News’ Jon Decker, John Roberts and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Adam Shaw

Source: Fox News: Trump announces US, Canada closing border to ‘non-essential traffic’ amid coronavirus fears

Republicans in the House and the Senate are introducing legislation that would block federal funds from states that allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses — the latest move in an escalating fight over “sanctuary” laws.

The Stop Greenlighting Driver Licenses for Illegal Immigrants Act would block funds to sanctuary states — which limit local cooperation with federal immigration authorities — and those that give licenses to illegal immigrants. Specifically, it would halt Justice Department (DOJ) grants, in particular those awarded under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which is a top source of federal criminal justice funding for states.

The legislation is being introduced in the Senate by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. It is being co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.; Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Mike Rounds, R-S.D. Meanwhile, in the House, Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., is introducing companion legislation. That bill is co-sponsored by 21 other members.

“Tennesseans know all too well what can happen when illegal immigrants are granted driver licenses,” Blackburn said in a statement. “While Tennessee and many other states prohibit driver licenses for illegal aliens, a growing number of states are moving in the opposite direction and unleashing dangerous open borders policies. Immigrants must follow the proper federal process and obtain citizenship or lawful status before obtaining a state driver license.”

“In America, no one is above the law,” she added.

Her office estimates that states that issued licenses to illegal immigrants received nearly $53 million from the program in fiscal year 2019.

The bicameral legislation comes amid a growing fight over sanctuary legislation. The Trump administration has been attempting to highlight attention to the dangers of the policy and has been shining light on cases whereby illegal immigrants have killed Americans.

“The United States of America should be a sanctuary for law-abiding Americans, not criminal aliens,” Trump said at his State of the Union address last week.

The administration has also been caught up in a fight with New York over its “Green Light Law” that both gives driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and bans state Department of Motor Vehicles agencies from sharing information with federal immigration authorities.

The latter move led the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last week to announce that it is suspending Global Entry and other Trusted Traveler Programs for New York residents, saying that the law makes DHS agencies unable to run the necessary security checks and risk assessments.

Author: Adam Shaw

Source: Fox News: Republicans introduce bill to pull funds from states that give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants

The Trump administration has started returning Mexican migrants deep into the country’s interior as part of an expanding effort to deter illegal immigration and combat the ongoing crisis at the border.

The Department of Homeland Security started running flights from Tucson, Ariz., to Guadalajara in December. Officials say the migrants being returned are all Mexican nationals from non-border Mexican states who typically have either recently illegally entered the U.S., or who had gone through the court system but were ruled to be deportable by an immigration judge.

The Trump administration has started returning Mexican migrants deep into the country’s interior as part of an expanding effort to deter illegal immigration and combat the ongoing crisis at the border.

The Department of Homeland Security started running flights from Tucson, Ariz., to Guadalajara in December. Officials say the migrants being returned are all Mexican nationals from non-border Mexican states who typically have either recently illegally entered the U.S., or who had gone through the court system but were ruled to be deportable by an immigration judge.

Mexican migrants are returned to the Mexican interior. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo by Jerry Glaser)

The plan marks a departure from past practice of releasing migrants at the border. The idea would be to make it harder for repeat offenders to try and cross the border again if they are returned hundreds of miles away. Officials say returning people closer to their hometowns is better for them as well, and allows them to receive services from the Mexican government.

DHS says it plans to run two flights a week starting at the end of January and expects to return about 250 migrants a week. Officials say the move has been requested by the Mexican government, with which the U.S. has been working for months to stem the border crisis — which peaked in May but still concerns officials.

The policy represents the latest change to come out of an intense effort by the Trump administration to bring in regional partners on the issue.

“This is another example of the Trump Administration working with the Government of Mexico to address the ongoing border security crisis,” DHS spokeswoman Heather Swift told Fox News. “Mexico has been a great partner in stopping illegal migration before they reach our border and in standing up the Migrant Protection Protocol which has allowed us to provide court dates to more than 55,000 individuals.”

The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “Remain-in-Mexico” policy, sees migrants (from all countries south of the border) returned to Mexico to await their immigration hearings — ending the practice of “catch-and-release” where immigrants were released into the U.S. interior to await their hearings.

The policy was expanded over the summer and was strengthened at Tucson and Del Rio sectors in recent months. Those being flown into the Mexican interior are not part of the MPP program.

Mexican migrants are returned to the Mexican interior. (DHS)

“Remain-in-Mexico” has proven controversial with human rights and pro-migrant activists, who claim it can place migrants in significant danger of kidnapping or violence by returning them to the Mexican side of the border. The program is facing a legal challenge at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. A ruling is expected soon.

Mexican migrants are returned to the Mexican interior. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo by Jerry Glaser)

That regional cooperation has also produced agreements with Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The agreement with Guatemala sees migrants flown into that country to claim asylum there. Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf on Friday said that so far 96 migrants have been flown into Guatemala, but that only one individual eventually chose to claim asylum.

Those agreements have fueled a dramatic drop in apprehensions at the border by more than 70 percent since May. In December, law enforcement apprehended or turned away 40,620 at the border, the seventh month of decline since the more than 144,000 encountered in May.

Author: Adam Shaw

Source: Fox News: Trump administration starts returning migrants deep into Mexico to combat border crisis

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