Immigration

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Mexico and U.S. Reach Immigration Agreement

Illegal immigration has been a hot topic throughout President Trump’s term in office. The president recently threatened to impose tariffs on Mexican goods unless that nation’s government took steps to curtail illegal immigration. This weekend, the two nations came to an agreement that will avoid these tariffs.

 

Under this deal, Mexico will increase the military presence on its southern border to deter migrants from Central America entering and coming to the U.S. Mexico will also allow some asylum seekers to be returned to Mexico to await a resolution of their claim.

 

This plan was drawn up after President Trump threatened an escalating series of tariffs in response to what he termed the Mexican government’s inadequate efforts to deter illegal immigration into the U.S. Many in the business community, and many Republicans in Congress, said that these tariffs would be destructive to the U.S. economy.

 

Democrats have expressed skepticism that this agreement will do much to address the problems causing people to enter the U.S. illegally. President Trump’s supporters hail it as a victory for his negotiating skill.

 

What should the Mexican government be doing, if anything, to stop illegal immigrants from entering the U.S.?

House Passes Residency Fix for Dreamers

The fate of so-called “Dreamers” – illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children – has been debated in Washington for years. This week, the House of Representatives passed legislation to provide them with a path to permanent residency. But President Donald Trump has said he is opposed to it.

 

The House passed H.R. 6 by a vote of 237-187 on June 4. Here is how VoteSpotter described the legislation:

 

To stop deportation proceedings against non-citizens who were brought to the U.S. as minors, and allow those individuals to remain in the U.S. for 10 years. To qualify, a person must have been brought to the U.S. as a minor, must meet certain educational and residency requirements, and cannot have been convicted of a felony, among other things. The bill would also allow these individuals to become permanent legal residents if they graduate college, complete military service, or have three years of steady employment.

 

President Obama attempted to deal with the status of Dreamers without Congress. He instituted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This affected illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and who met educational requirements and had no criminal record to be shielded from deportation. Once he assumed office, Donald Trump canceled DACA, saying it was an overreach of executive power.

 

President Trump has signaled support for legislation that would provide permanent residency for Dreamers. However, he has issued a veto threat for H.R. 6. He would like to see this issue tied to a larger plan that limits immigration and provides more border security. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agrees with the president, and has said that the Senate will not consider H.R. 6.

 

Do you think that children who were brought to the U.S. illegally should receive legal residence if they have no criminal record and meet education requirements? Should the status of Dreamers be tied to overall immigration reform?

North Carolina Considers Sanctuary City Ban

Legislators in North Carolina are advancing a bill that would prohibit sanctuary city policies in that state. This may set up another veto fight with Gov. Roy Cooper, as the Democratic governor faces protests urging him to reject this bill.

 

Under House Bill 370, local law enforcement officers in North Carolina would be required to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts. The bill would specifically prohibit law enforcement personnel from refusing to comply with federal immigration detainer request. These requests come from immigration agents looking to detain illegal immigrants who are in local law enforcement custody.

 

In cities with sanctuary policies, local law enforcement does not cooperate with the federal government in enforcing federal immigration laws or comply with detention requests. These local officials are not breaking federal law by refusing to do so; the federal government can only request, not command, cooperation of local police or sheriffs in enforcing federal law. But some states are enacting statewide policies that require such cooperation.

 

The North Carolina House passed HB 370 by a vote of 63-51, and now it is being considered by the Senate. This weekend, protestors urged Gov. Roy Cooper to veto the bill if it emerges from the General Assembly.

 

Do you think that states should prohibit sanctuary cities? Should local law enforcement cooperate with the federal government to enforce federal immigration laws?

Trump Unveils New Immigration Plan

Immigration has been one of the defining issues of President Trump’s time in office. Today the president unveiled a proposal that would reshape the nation’s immigration laws, bringing them more in line with the president’s views.

 

Under the Trump plan, overall immigration numbers would not change. Instead, policies would shift from family-based immigration to skills-based immigration. The president’s proposal would limit the immediate family members whom a U.S. resident could sponsor for entry into the nation. It would also prioritize immigration for individuals with certain skills.

 

Other aspects of the plan include making it tougher for individuals to seek asylum, modernizing ports of entry in an attempt to stop more drug trafficking, and finishing the border wall. There is no proposal to deal with the millions of “Dreamers,” or individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, already in the nation.

 

The president has outlined an immigration plan, but has not prepared legislation to move this plan through Congress. Any such proposal would likely face Democratic opposition. There are also some grumblings of opposition from the president’s base, with some immigration restrictionists upset that the president is not calling for a reduction in immigration numbers.

 

Should U.S. immigration policy focus more on family reunification or economic skills? Do you support placing more restrictions on who can seek asylum here? Should overall immigration numbers be reduced, kept the same, or increased?

Pentagon Shifting $1.5b to Build Border Wall

Earlier this year, President Trump declared a national emergency in order to build a border wall without congressional authorization. Now the White House is releasing details on how he wants to pay for part of it – with $1.5 billion being re-directed from the Department of Defense.

 

While President Trump wants a border wall, Congress has not allocated funding to pay for it. The president’s emergency order allows him to shift funding from other sources to build the wall, but he has to identify those sources. Last week, the Pentagon announced that $1.5 billion would be moved from other defense areas and be used for roughly 80 miles of border wall construction.

 

Among those areas losing money to pay for the wall are an intercontinental ballistic missile system, a surveillance plane, the Afghan Security Force Fund, chemical weapons destruction, and military retirement. The money from these accounts will be re-programmed for construction of the wall.

 

The Pentagon says that removing funding from these areas will not affect military readiness. Opponents of this move argue that the president is prioritizing an ineffective all over military programs that have already been approved by Congress.

 

This funding will not pay for the entire wall. To do so the president must find other areas of federal spending where he can move money to wall construction.

 

Do you think that money should be taken from military programs to pay for a border wall?

Trump Threatens to Close the Border

President Trump this week continues his focus on illegal immigration, threatening to close the border with Mexico if that nation does not curtail the flow of migrants north. This has met pushback from Republicans as well as Democrats, who point out the large economic damage it could cause.

 

On Wednesday morning he tweeted, “Congress must get together and immediately eliminate the loopholes at the Border! If no action, Border, or large sections of Border, will close. This is a National Emergency!” This follows earlier statements calling for Mexico to do more to stem illegal immigration or the border would close.

 

It is unclear how the border would be closed under the president’s scenario. He has floated both a complete closure and a closure of key ports of entry. Either way, say business leaders and elected officials, this would impose a heavy cost on the economy. With significant trade between the U.S. and Mexico, a border closure would impede U.S. exports south and Mexican exports north. Both businesses and consumers would be affected quickly if such an action is taken.

 

The president and his allies say that shutting down border crossing is the best way to deal with an increasing number of illegal immigrants. Many disagree, however. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, said, “Closing down the border would have potentially catastrophic economic impact on our country, and I would hope we would not be doing that sort of thing.”

 

Do you think that President Trump should shut down the U.S.-Mexican border?

House Fails to Override Trump Border Emergency Veto

A majority of the House of Representatives may want to terminate President Trump’s border wall emergency declaration, but there weren’t enough votes to overcome his veto keeping it in place.

 

By a vote of 248-181, the House voted to override the president’s veto of House Joint Resolution 46. This resolution would end the national emergency declared by President Trump in February to shift federal funds around to build a border wall.

 

Both the House and Senate passed this resolution, but President Trump vetoed it earlier this month. The Constitution requires a 2/3 vote, or 288 members of the House of Representatives, to override a veto. The vote yesterday fell well short of that number.

 

This is not the end of the fight over the emergency declaration, however. Sixteen states are suing the federal government over this issue. Under the terms of the National Emergencies Act, the House of Representatives can also bring up another resolution to terminate the emergency in 6 months. See our Deep Dive on presidential emergencies for more information

 

Do you support a vote to override President Trump’s veto of a resolution to terminate the border wall emergency declaration?

Senate Rejects Trump's Border Emergency

The Senate today joined the House of Representatives in voting to terminate President Trump’s border emergency.

 

By a vote of 59-41, the Senate voted in favor of House Joint Resolution 46. This resolution would end the national emergency declared by President Trump in February to shift federal funds around to build a border wall. Twelve Republicans joined all the Democrats in voting for this measure.

 

Under the National Emergencies Act, the law that allows President Trump to declare an emergency, Congress has the authority to pass a resolution to terminate that emergency declaration. Both houses of Congress must pass the resolution, and it is subject to the president’s veto.

 

The House of Representatives passed the same resolution in late February by a vote of 245-182. However, the majorities in the House and Senate for approval were not large enough to meet the threshold to override the promised veto by President Trump.

 

This is not the end of the fight over the emergency declaration, however. Sixteen states are suing the federal government over this issue.

 

Do you support the vote in the House and Senate to terminate President Trump’s emergency declaration allowing him to build a border wall?

Rand Paul Says “No” To Border Wall Emergency

President Trump usually has an ally in Senator Rand Paul. When it comes to the border wall, however, the Kentucky senator is breaking with the president, saying that the emergency declaration is “extra-constitutional.”

 

In a speech over the weekend, Sen. Paul said he would vote in favor of a resolution that would terminate the president’s emergency declaration. He justified it by pointing to the Constitution. According to Sen. Paul, “I can’t vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress. We may want more money for border security, but Congress didn’t authorize it. If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing.”

 

The House of Representatives passed a resolution to terminate the emergency declaration on February 26 by a vote of 245-182.

 

Sen. Paul’s vote will join a handful of other Republican senators who have announced their support for ending the emergency declaration. These include Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Susan Collins of Maine. With all the Democratic senators expected to vote in favor of the Senate resolution, these Republican votes will ensure that the resolution will pass. If this happens, then President Trump still has the option of vetoing it.

 

Do you think that the Senate should vote in favor of ending President Trump’s border wall emergency declaration?

House Rebukes Trump on Border Wall

President Trump may think that there’s an emergency at the U.S.-Mexican border, but the House of Representatives disagrees.

 

By a vote of 245-182, the House voted in favor of House Joint Resolution 46. This resolution terminates the national emergency declared by President Trump earlier this month in order to shift federal funds around to build a border wall. Thirteen Republicans joined all the Democrats in voting for this measure.

 

Under the National Emergencies Act, the law that allows President Trump to declare an emergency, Congress also has the authority to pass a resolution to terminate that emergency declaration. Both houses of Congress must pass the resolution, and it is subject to the president’s veto. If one house of Congress passes the resolution, the other house must consider it within 15 days.  

 

There is likely enough support among Republicans in the Senate to pass a disapproval resolution. However, the majority in the House for approval is does not meet the threshold to override a presidential veto. That means that if President Trump vetoes the resolution, which he is likely to do, then his emergency declaration stands.

 

This is not the end of the fight over the emergency declaration, however. Sixteen states are suing the federal government over this issue.

 

Do you think that Congress should vote to terminate President Trump’s emergency declaration allowing him to build a border wall?

Trump Declares Emergency to Build Border Wall

There’s an emergency at the national border – at least that’s what President Trump thinks. He said today that he plans to use his powers under a 1976 law to declare an emergency and build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

 

The National Emergency Act of 1976 gives the president broad authority to declare an emergency, which frees up his power to make decisions and spend money in ways that have not been approved by Congress. Previous presidents have used this power a number of times, although this is likely to be the most high-profile and controversial use.

 

President Trump campaigned on the promise of building a wall on the southern border, but has not bene able to convince Congress to fund it. He said that he would sign legislation that would keep the government open and allocate money for some border security, but would pair that action with an emergency declaration that lets him build the wall. The president says that the humanitarian crisis at the border justifies such an action.

 

This has prompted a backlash from Democrats and some conservatives. They argue that there is no real emergency at the border. Instead, they say the president is misusing his powers in order to bypass Congress, not using his power to combat an unexpected crisis.

 

Under the emergency legislation, a majority in each house of Congress can pass a resolution to revoke an emergency declaration. The president would likely veto such a resolution, meaning that 2/3 of Congress would have to override it. Democrats have vowed to introduce and pass such a resolution in the House of Representatives. Besides this resolution, there will also be lawsuits against the president’s actions.

 

Do you support President Trump’s emergency declaration to bypass Congress and build a border wall?

Border Security Deal May Avert Government Shutdown

Democrats and Republicans in Congress have agreed on principles of a border security package that would pave the way for bipartisan support for a bill that would fund the federal government. This would stop a looming government shutdown and provide the government with money to operate through the end of the fiscal year. The only question that remains is if President Trump will support it.

 

Under the proposal, the funding bill will contain $1.375 billion for 55 miles of border fencing and over 40,000 slots in immigrant detention facilities. There is also another $1.7 billion for other border security measures. Democrats had been pressing for a cap on slots in interior immigration detention facilities, but this did not make the final cut.

 

President Trump has pushed for $5 billion in funding for a wall or other border barrier. While this deal does not contain full funding for the president’s request, it does contain funding to begin construction.

 

Currently, the federal government is staying open because Congress passed a temporary funding measure that the president signed. That funding runs out on February 15. Congress has time to work out the details and pass a long-term funding measure prior to this date. If the president vetoes it, however, that would possibly lead to another government shutdown unless Congress overrode his veto.

 

Do you support the plan to fund 55 miles in border fencing? Do you think that President Trump should veto the bill because it does not contain full funding for his border wall?

Trump Talks Immigration, Unity in State of the Union Address

President Trump delivered his second State of the Union address last night, sounding familiar themes on immigration, among other issues. He also used the occasion to tout bipartisanship, talking about ways he has worked with Democrats in the past and wishes to work with them in the future.

 

According to the president, “The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security, and financial well-being of all Americans.” He reiterated his call to build a wall on the southern border, saying, “I’m asking you to defend are very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and our country.”

 

While there has been discussion of the president using emergency powers to build the border wall, during this address he did not say that he would do so. Instead, he asked Congress to support his proposal for “a smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier — not just a simple concrete wall.”

 

Currently, funding to keep the federal government open lasts until February 15. Congress must pass a new spending bill before then to avoid another government shutdown. If the president’s border wall plan is not part of this spending bill, he may veto it, triggering a shutdown.

 

Republicans at the speech reacted favorably to the call for a wall, but Democrats were unenthusiastic. However, the president did talk about bipartisan initiatives he supported, such as criminal justice reform. He also said, “Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure” and discussed efforts to lower drug prices. These are issues that Democrats may find common ground with Republicans.

 

What did you think of President Trump’s State of the Union address? Do you support President Trump’s call to build a border wall? Do you think that Democrats and Republicans should work together on infrastructure and drug prices?

Senate Votes Fail to End Government Shutdown

Senators considered dueling plans to end the partial government shutdown on Thursday. Republicans offered President Trump’s path to re-open the government while Democrats presented their proposal. Neither side received enough votes to pass the legislation, leaving negotiations between Senate leaders ongoing.

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered an amendment that would have provided $5.7 billion for a border wall and extended protections for illegal immigrants covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Senate voted 50-47 to invoke cloture, or end debate, on this proposal. The measure needed 60 votes to move to a final vote, so it failed. Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Mike Lee of Utah joined the Democrats in voting “no.”

 

After the Senate failed to invoke cloture on the Republican measure, it considered a Democratic plan to re-open the government through February 8th. This proposal did not have funding for a border wall. The Senate vote of 52-44 also failed to reach the 60-vote threshold to close debate. Republicans Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah joined the Democrats in voting for this proposal.

 

Senator McConnell continues to meet with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the minority leader, to negotiate a deal that would re-open the federal government and gain enough bipartisan support to pass the Senate.

 

Do you think that members of Congress should re-open the government temporarily while Congress and the president negotiate over a border wall? Or should the government remain shut down until the border wall is funded?

New York City Promises Health Care for All – Even Illegal Immigrants

Mayor Bill de Blasio wants every New York City resident to have health care coverage. He recently pledged $100 million to provide that coverage to uninsured New Yorkers – including any undocumented immigrants who want to sign up.

 

The program as envisioned by the mayor will be called NYC Care. Uninsured city residents can apply for the program and be assigned a doctor and access to a variety of health care services. It will be offered at no cost to those with lower incomes, but city residents with higher incomes will have to pay on a sliding scale.

 

In presenting the plan, Mayor de Blasio argued that it is both morally and fiscally responsible to offer this program. He said that everyone, regardless of their immigration status, deserves health care. He also said that providing this coverage would be more cost-effective than when the uninsured use emergency rooms or let serious conditions go untreated.

 

Critics counter that that taxpayer dollars should not be used to provide services to people in the country illegally. They also say that this program will likely be more expensive than predicted, leading to higher taxes for the city’s residents.

 

Do you think that New York City should offer health care coverage to all uninsured residents, even those who are in the country illegally?

Trump Mulls Declaring Emergency to Build Border Wall

President Trump wants a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border. Congress does not want to appropriate money for it. So the president is considering doing an end-run around the legislative branch by declaring an emergency, enabling the military to use its funds to build the wall. If he does that, say some observers, it could prompt a constitutional crisis.

 

The issue of the border wall is one that then-candidate Trump campaigned on from the day he announced his candidacy for president. Once elected, he has pushed Congress to provide money for it. While spending bills have contained money for border security, there has been no decision to allocate money to build the wall as envisioned by the president.

 

The government is currently undergoing a partial shutdown because President Trump has refused to sign a spending bill to keep it open unless that bill has $5 billion in it to construct roughly 200 miles of a border wall. Democrats in Congress have refused to go along with this demand, and neither side seems willing to shift from its positions.

 

Since he cannot get the money from Congress, President Trump is now considering another route. Under this scenario, he would use provisions of a 1978 law to declare a national emergency. That would give him leeway to use some military funding to build the wall. Under this law, however, Congress could pass a resolution that would disapprove of his action. There are also legal scholars who dispute that the president would be able to declare an emergency over the situation at the border. They say that this action would not survive legal challenge and would be unconstitutional.

 

President Trump will discuss this issue during a televised address tonight.

 

Do you think that President Trump should declare a national emergency to bypass Congress and build a border wall?

Border Wall Divides Trump, Congress

Whether or not the government stays open could depend on the fate of President Trump’s border wall.

 

In a familiar dispute, the president has said he will not sign any bill that would keep the government open unless such legislation has money for a border wall. While Republicans largely agree with this position, the president needs Democratic votes in order to make it happen. So far, Senate Democrats are refusing to go along with funding a border wall. This had led the government to the brink of a shutdown.

 

The border wall was a key plank in Donald Trump’s platform during the 2016 campaign. At that time, he said that Mexico would pay for it. Today, however, the dispute is whether or not Congress will put money for a wall in their annual spending bills. Opposition from Democrats has prevented this from happening so far during President Trump’s term.

 

While Congress has passed appropriations bills to fund some parts of the federal government, it has not yet passed legislation to fund the entire government through the end of the fiscal year. Currently, the government is staying open due to short-term funding measures. The president has said he will refuse to sign any further short-term spending bills until he gets money for his wall.

 

Do you support President Trump’s refusal to sign legislation to keep the federal government open if Congress does not provide funding for a border wall?

Court Strikes Down Ban on Encouraging Illegal Immigration

How far can the federal government go to discourage illegal immigration? This question has taken on new importance during the presidency of Donald Trump, but it has long been a concern for policymakers. A recent ruling by a federal court has turned attention on a little-known immigration law that, according to the judges, violates the First Amendment.

 

A three-judge panel on the Ninth Judicial Circuit ruled that criminalizing speech that encourages or induces someone to illegally immigrate is not consistent with the U.S. Constitution. At question is a portion of the federal code that imposes a fine and prison sentence for anyone wo “encourages or induces an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law.”

 

The judges unanimously ruled that this language is so broad that it encompasses a variety of speech, such as a grandmother who encourages her grandson to overstay his visa. The judges acknowledged that there is a legitimate government interest in curtailing illegal immigration, but that this law criminalizes much more speech than necessary to accomplish that goal.

 

Supporters of this ruling see it as a victory for the First Amendment. They say that the government should not be punishing what people say. They argue that this law could make certain political advocacy illegal. Opponents counter that the government should be able to stop people who are encouraging others to break the law.

 

The federal government could appeal this decision to the full Ninth Circuit or, ultimately, the Supreme Court.

 

Do you think that it should be illegal to encourage someone to immigrate illegally to the U.S.?

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