The prospects for immigration reform have come to a standstill. And with the heat increasing on the Obama administration from anti-deportation advocates, something is about to give.
The administration is expected to announce the results of the Homeland Security Department’s deportation policy review within the coming weeks, the The Wall Street Journal reports. The outcome will be much more modest than what many activists have been clamoring for: Rather than deferring deportation proceedings for millions here illegally, actions under review could affect a smaller number of people who have been in the U.S. for a long time, but have minor or no criminal violations. Last year, such people represented 50,000 deportations.
Expect such relief to be welcomed by advocates, but still leave many dissatisfied that it has not gone far enough.
On the flip side, such actions — really, any deportation executive action — will be used as further ammunition in the defense against doing anything on immigration policy this year. Republicans, even those who have spoken in favor of immigration reform, have said it can’t happen while lawmakers don’t trust the president to enforce laws already on the books.
Want to get an indication of where this is all heading? Just take a look at this letter, signed by 22 Republican senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, sent to Obama on Thursday. They write, “According to reports, the changes under consideration would represent a near complete abandonment of basic immigration enforcement and discard the rule of law and the notion that the United States has enforceable borders.”
The Republicans also criticize Obama for directing previous changes, such as prosecutorial discretion and allowing the deferral of deportation proceedings for so-called dreamers. “Your actions demonstrate an astonishing disregard for the Constitution, the rule of law, and the rights of American citizens and legal residents,” they write.
Strong executive action on deportation policy could easily be interpreted as “completely writing off immigration reform until 2016,” Theresa Cardinal Brown, the immigration-policy director at the Bipartisan Policy Center, previously told me. But modest action — combined with few legislative calendar days left in this midterm election year and sharp rhetoric about presidential overreach — means the likelihood that reform will happen this year is pretty low. Having the two sides agree on how a phone call went is even a tall order when discussing immigration.
What We're Following See More »
The Michael Flynn story is not going away for the White House as it tries to refocus its attention. The White House has denied requests from the House Oversight Committee for information and documents regarding payments that the former nationals security adviser received from Russian state television station RT and Russian firms. House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and ranking members Elijah Cummings also said that Flynn failed to report these payments on his security clearance application. White House legislative director Marc Short argued that the documents request are either not in the possession of the White House or contain sensitive information he believes are not applicable to the committee's stated investigation.
The U.S. deployed "F-35 joint strike fighters" to Estonia on Tuesday. The "jets will stay in Estonia for several weeks and will be a part of training flights with U.S. and other NATO air forces." The move comes at a time of high tension between the U.S. and Estonia's neighbor, Russia. The two nations have been at odds over a number of issues recently, most of all being Vladimir Putin's support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in light of Assad's chemical weapons attack on his own people in the midst of a civil war.
It took long enough, but the Trump administration finally includes an Agriculture secretary. "The Senate easily approved Sonny Perdue on Monday" by a count of 87-11. Perdue enjoyed the support of Democrats like Delaware's Chris Coons and Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin, both of whom spoke in his favor.
"A media arm of the State Department is using federal resources to promote President Donald Trump’s private Florida golf club, fueling scrutiny of the nexus between the president’s official duties and his personal financial interests." On April 4, "Share America, the State Department’s social media-friendly news website, paid homage to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club ... hailing the president’s use of 'the winter White House, as Share America dubbed it, to host world leaders."