Jason Hopkins


Nearly 100 Democrats in Congress are urging the Trump administration to halt construction on the U.S.-Mexico border wall during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ninety-one Democrats in the House and Senate signed onto a letter addressed to key members of the Trump administration, requesting that “all border wall construction halt immediately.” Not only has border construction continued amid the coronavirus outbreak, but the White House has moved to expedite its progress — to the chagrin of its critics.

News of the letter was first reported by Axios.

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

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) arrives to hear President Donald Trump deliver the State of the Union address in the House chamber on February 4, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Leah Millis-Pool/Getty Images)

Sixty-six Democrats in the House and 25 Democrats in the Senate are in support of the push — including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Judiciary Chair Jerrod Nadler, and several members who represent border districts.

The letter was addressed to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, and Attorney General William Barr.

The Trump administration, undeterred by the crisis, has continued with its most lauded campaign promise of 2016: the construction of a massive border wall between the United States and Mexico. The White House promised to construct around 400 miles of border wall before the end of 2020.

Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott announced April 6 that 151 miles of border wall had been completed since the dawn of the Trump administration. Scott revealed in an updated post Monday that the total amount of completed border wall has risen to 158 miles.

Despite claims made by Democrats, Wolf has pointed to numerous instances where illegal immigrant crossings have gone down after the erection of a wall system.

Notably, on the same day that the letter was dated and released, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an environmental waiver allowing for the “expeditious construction” of roughly 15 miles of border wall in the Rio Grande Valley Sector in Texas.

Democrats — who have long opposed the concept of a border wall — are pointing to the coronavirus pandemic as a reason to pause construction.

“At this juncture, the priority of the United States must be to stop the spread of COVID-19. The continuation of wall construction compromises those efforts,” the Democrats said.

Author: Jason Hopkins

Source: Daily Caller: Democrats Are Asking The Trump Administration To Stop Border Wall Construction

Citing the coronavirus pandemic, several progressive lawmakers are demanding the Department of Homeland Security release illegal aliens from detention and scale back other immigration enforcement measures.

Democratic Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, along with four other Democratic congressmen, delivered a letter Monday to acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, requesting the administration take action to protect the immigrant community and detained illegal aliens from COVID-19.

Among their demands: a “moratorium” on all immigration arrests of individuals who pose no public safety risk, a release of as “many immigrants as possible” from detention, and a reconsideration of the Trump administration’s public charge rules.

“In times of a public health crisis, it is imperative that we protect the most vulnerable and remove barriers to care for all, including fears of enforcement that prevent immigrant communities from seeking care,” the progressive lawmakers wrote.

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“COVID-19 does not discriminate based on nationality, citizenship status, or any other characteristic, and our federal agencies must respond accordingly,” the letter continued.

Jayapal and the other Democratic lawmakers said the large-scale release of aliens in DHS detention — those in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody — was necessary to decrease the population of “overcrowded” facilities.

Notably, some of these concerns posed in the letter have already been addressed by DHS officials.

ICE announced Wednesday that the agency would scale back its enforcement procedures, focusing on individuals who pose public safety risks and those subject to mandatory detention. Additionally, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, another agency within DHS, announced earlier in March that illegal aliens could seek COVID-19 testing without fear of being penalized under the public charge rule.

USCIS has implored the immigrant community to get tested if they are showing symptoms of coronavirus.

The letter was joined by Democratic Reps. Joaquin Castro and Veronica Escobar of Texas, Chuy Garcia of Illinois, and Adam Smith of Washington state.

A separate groups of Democratic lawmakers — led by Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar — sent a letter to DHS on Friday, demanding a total freeze on deportations.

Author: Jason Hopkins

Source: Daily Caller: House Democrats Ask DHS To ‘Release As Many Immigrants As Possible From Detention’

The Trump administration is looking to make deportation orders much more expensive for foreign nationals to reverse by dramatically hiking appeal fees.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) announced a proposed rule Thursday to aggressively raise the price tag for appealing a deportation order, with fee hikes ranging in price depending on the type of appeal. One proposal seeks to raise the cost of appealing an immigration judge’s decision by nearly nine times the current cost.

The proposed rule change is the Trump administration’s latest move to escalate enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.

It already costs $100 to $110 to appeal a deportation order handed down by the U.S. immigration court system, depending on the appeal. For example, it costs $110 to file an EOIR-26 to appeal a deportation order by an immigration judge. Under the proposed rule change, this fee would rise to $975.

Immigrants wait in line to become U.S. citizens at a naturalization ceremony on February 2, 2018 in New York City. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) swore in 128 immigrants from 42 different countries during the ceremony at the downtown Manhattan Federal Building. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The other new appeal fees range from $305 to $705. The proposed rule, however, would not affect an alien’s ability to submit fee waiver requests or add any new fees.

The Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) said the fee hikes were needed given rising operating costs.

“The activity-based cost analysis demonstrates that EOIR’s processing costs consistently exceed the assessed fees for these EOIR applications for relief, appeals, and motions. Although EOIR is an appropriated agency, EOIR has determined that it is necessary to update the fees charged for these EOIR forms and motions to more accurately reflect the costs for EOIR’s adjudications of these matters,” the proposal read.

“EOIR’s calculation of fees accordingly factors in both the public interest in ensuring that the immigration courts are accessible to aliens seeking relief and the public interest in ensuring that U.S. taxpayers do not bear a disproportionate burden in funding the immigration system,” it continued.

The last time the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) updated their prices was over three decades ago in 1986.

Author: Jason Hopkins

Source: Daily Caller: Trump Administration Proposes Fee Hikes For Those Appealing Deportation Orders

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced House Democrats will soon introduce legislation that aims to block President Donald Trump’s ban on several countries.

Pelosi revealed in a press release Monday that Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee will introduce and vote on the s0-called NO Ban Act, which would limit the White House’s authority to impose travel restrictions on foreign nationals, in the next few weeks. Introduction of the bill comes roughly three years after the president introduced his first travel ban, and follows confirmation that he plans to add more countries to the list.

“House Democrats continue to stand opposed to President Trump’s cruel, un-American travel ban in all of its iterations. In the coming weeks, the House Judiciary Committee will mark up and bring to the Floor the NO BAN Act to prohibit religious discrimination in our immigration system and limit the President’s ability to impose such biased and bigoted restrictions,” Pelosi said Monday.

“In his last address as President, Ronald Reagan warned that ‘If we ever close the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost.’ House Democrats are working tirelessly to uphold our role as a global leader and a beacon of hope and opportunity for countless people around the world,’” the speaker continued.

(Credit: Shutterstock / Vadim Georgiev)

While such legislation would likely pass the Democratic-controlled House, it faces a very uncertain future in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Trump introduced his first travel ban via executive order in January 2017, nearly immediately upon entering the Oval Office. That ban was later blocked by a federal court. A similar chain of events took place after Trump issued a second travel ban. However, it was his third ban that proved successful — surviving a challenge all the way to the Supreme Court in June 2018.

The travel ban restricts travel from seven countries: Syria, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, North Korea and Venezuela. The fact that most of the countries have majority-Muslim populations, detractors of the executive order have deemed it a “Muslim ban.”

Trump confirmed earlier this month that the administration is working on expanding the travel ban. Countries to be added to the list reportedly include Sudan, Nigeria, Eritrea, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, and Belarus. However, the level of restriction is expected to vary from country to country.

In her Monday statement, Pelosi expressed disdain at the idea of expanding the scope of the ban.

“Today, reports indicate that the Administration is once again preparing to expand its dangerous travel ban, threatening key international relationships and jeopardizing our ability to fight terrorism and extremism at home and abroad,” she wrote. “Despite the Administration’s hateful policies and dangerous rhetoric, this fundamental truth remains: immigrants make America more American.”

Author: Jason Hopkins

Source: Daily Caller: Nancy Pelosi Says House Democrats Will Vote To Block Trump’s Travel Ban

  • Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden released his immigration plan Wednesday, pledging to dismantle a number of the Trump administration’s key immigration policies.
  • Biden called for an end to Remain in Mexico, reinstatement of DACA, and raising the refugee cap to nearly seven times the current limit.
  • Unlike his progressive rivals, Biden did not call for a ban on deportations, or decriminalization of illegal immigration, and he doesn’t want to see DHS fundamentally changed.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden published a sweeping immigration plan that called for an overhaul of the Trump administration’s agenda, but it remained largely moderate compared to his progressive contenders.

Biden’s campaign on Wednesday published a massive, nearly 6,700-word plan for how the Democratic candidate would manage immigration if elected president of the United States. While the former vice president pledged to undo a number of President Donald Trump’s most notable programs and acknowledged criticism of deportations that took place during his own administration, Biden’s platform was still reflective of his moderate stance on the issue of immigration.

Early on in the outline, Biden appeared to take a left turn by openly acknowledging the “pain” caused by deportations that took place during the Obama administration.

“Joe Biden understands the pain felt by every family across the U.S. that has had a loved one removed from the country, including under the Obama-Biden Administration, and he believes we must do better to uphold our laws humanely and preserve the dignity of immigrant families, refugees, and asylum-seekers,” the announcement said.

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden arrives at a campaign stop on Dec. 2, 2019 in Emmetsburg, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Since the launch of his campaign, Biden has been dogged by immigration activists who have criticized him for the record-high number of deportations — three million — that took place during the eight years of the Obama-Biden era. However, he has remained largely defiant about the statistic, and went so far as to say he had “nothing” to apologize for when asked by a Telemundo reporter earlier this month.

The former vice president announced on Wednesday he would mostly unwind the Trump administration’s immigration agenda. Namely, he pledged to end Migrant Protection Protocols, otherwise known as Remain in Mexico, a program that mandates asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their cases are processed in the U.S. immigration court system. He also said he would reinstate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and abolish for-profit detention centers.

The former vice president said he would raise the refugee cap nearly sevenfold — increasing the current cap of 18,000 to 125,000.

“Trump has waged an unrelenting assault on our values and our history as a nation of immigrants. It’s wrong, and it stops when Joe Biden is elected president,” the announcement said, referring to Trump’s immigration agenda as a “moral failing and a national shame.”

However, what was not addressed in the plan was also telling.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent is seen at the U.S.-Mexico border in Mission, Texas, U.S., July 1, 2019. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

The leading Democratic candidate did not say he would put a moratorium on all deportations if elected president, nor did he say he would decriminalize illegal immigration. The omissions were notable as they are two positions becoming increasingly popular among his party’s base, and were recently adopted by both Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — the progressive darlings of the Democratic presidential field.

And unlike Sanders’ recent immigration platform unveiling, Biden did not call for an overhaul of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The two agencies under DHS that mostly deal with immigration enforcement — Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — would not be fundamentally reworked under a Biden administration, but he did say that the two agencies would “abide by professional standards” and he would hold those accountable for “inhumane” treatment.

Biden also said he would help address the border crisis by hiring more judges and court staff, and called for an investment of $4 billion of U.S. taxpayer funds into Central America to address the root causes of illegal migration.

Author: Jason Hopkins

Source: Daily Caller: Joe Biden Unveils Immigration Platform, Acknowledges ‘Pain’ Of Deportations During Obama Era

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