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Trump and GOP Leaders Face Uncertainty Over 2018 Legislative Agenda

President Trump or senior White House officials are slated to meet at least twice with GOP congressional leaders next week as Republican lawmakers prepare to return to Washington amid uncertainty about which of the big-ticket items on their legislative agenda they will prioritize first.

Leaders from both parties will sit down with White House chief of staff John Kelly on Wednesday at the Capitol to hammer out a deal on spending caps ahead of a Jan. 19 deadline to avert a government shutdown, a congressional aide told the Washington Examiner.

Immigration is likely to become a dominant topic of discussion in the early weeks of 2018. Lawmakers only have three months to hammer out an immigration deal that preserves protections for undocumented immigrants called Dreamers, brought into the country illegally as children by their parents. Trump also hinted on Friday that the upcoming Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program debate will also include a fight over his promised border wall.

 

Trump Blasts Democrats in Advance of Immigration Meeting

The day before a meeting of administration officials and congressional leaders on outstanding legislative business, President Trump accused Democrats of “doing nothing” to hammer out an immigration deal to protect from deportation people brought to the country illegally as children. “Democrats are doing nothing for DACA, just interested in politics,” Trump wrote in a Tweet on Tuesday morning.

The White House on Tuesday said the meeting is to discuss separate spending caps on military and domestic programs. Yet the Democrats insist the discussion also must include a variety of legislative issues that Trump and Congress punted into the new year, on immigration, the budget, healthcare and more.

 

 

  1. S. Immigration Crackdown Hits Britons’ H-1B “Genius” Visas

President Trump’s immigration crackdown has prompted a sharp fall in the number of “genius” visas granted to British specialists, official figures suggest. The number of H-1B specialty occupations, known as genius visas, given to Britons is on course to fall by a third this year, an analysis of U. S. Department of State figures by The Times shows.

Trump announced a crackdown on immigration days after entering office last January, and in April signed an executive order for a comprehensive review of the H-1B visa program. On the campaign trail Trump said: “These are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay.

 

Chicago Immigration Court Slows Pace Amid More Cases

Statistics show Chicago’s immigration court now has the second-longest average time to dispose of a case in the U.S. due to a spike in pending cases and the complexity of some of them.

National data collected by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University show the average wait time for a case to be processed in Chicago’s immigration court increased from less than 750 days in 2014 to more than 1,000 days at the end of fiscal 2017.

Court officials said Chicago’s court had more than 25,000 pending cases in its system at the end of fiscal 2017. The number of pending cases nationwide has tripled in recent years, according to leaders of the federal Executive Office for Immigration Review.

 

ICE Condemns Pardons of Immigrants in New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has granted pardons to 18 aliens in an attempt to shield them from deportation. Cuomo’s actions follow California Gov. Jerry Brown’s pardoning of two aliens several days earlier.

Cuomo said the pardons may not automatically remove the grounds of removal for those facing deportation, but they are “a necessary predicate to regaining the right to remain here in the country they call home.”

Thomas Decker, New York field office director of the Enforcement and Removal Operations field offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), had a different message. “While the governor’s pardons appear to be yet another politically driven attempt to circumvent federal immigration law, whether or not they actually have any legal effect on individual immigration cases will be reviewed by ICE,” Decker said in a statement on Jan. 1st.

Most of those pardoned had obtained legal immigration status at some point, but were convicted of crimes so serious that their legal status was forfeited, according to Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies.

 

Utah Lawmaker’s Plan Would Kick Immigrant Kids Off Insurance

A Utah senator proposing to make new legal immigrants wait five years before receiving coverage through government health insurance programs said he’s trying to promote self-reliance and discourage socialism. Critics of State Sen. Allen Christensen’s plan argue that it’s mean-spirited and will strip health care coverage from 475 legal immigrant children, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Thursday.

His plan would reinstate a previous provision that required new legal immigrants, who are mostly Latinos, to wait five years before they could qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The move would not save Utah money since the federal government covers the Medicaid costs for new immigrants who were legal permanent residents, said Lincoln Nehring, president and CEO for Voices for Utah Children. Although the bill’s draft is complete and has been released to the public, Christensen said he will wait to see where public debate goes before he decides if he will move it forward.

 

Immigration Effort Helps FC

Nash County deputies are taking part in a federal immigration enforcement program to help staunch the flow of drugs into the area, not to lock up law-abiding immigrants, Sheriff Keith Stone said.

“I’m not interested in any immigrant who isn’t a criminal,” Stone said. “But this helps when we stop an illegal alien on the interstate involved in criminal activity. It helps get him out of our community.”

“My primary reason for participating is the help we get with contraband,” he added. “I want to stop heroin and cocaine from getting to our community. Even marijuana, but I’m more concerned about the serious drugs that’re killing our loved ones.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has repeatedly expressed its concern about ICE’s delegation of federal immigration authority to state and local law enforcement agencies under the 287(g) program. Stone said he’s been asked about his participation in the program, but once he explains his position, folks understand. Stone said his priority is always the safety of Nash County residents.

 

Immigration Official Wants Pols in Sanctuary Cities Charged

Thomas Homan, the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in an interview Tuesday with Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto that the Department of Justice (DOJ) needs to file charges against municipalities that don’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities and deny them funding.

He also says politicians should be held “personally accountable” for crimes committed by people living in the U.S. illegally.

 

  1. S. Immigration Computers Are Back Up After Outage Wreaks Havoc at Airports
  2. S. immigration computer systems are back up after a massive outage brought immigration lines to a standstill at airports across the U. S. on Monday. International travelers waited in lines hundreds deep when the systems went down for two hours.

In what they called a “processing system outage,” U. S. Customs and Border Protection said the system went down around 7:30pm EST and was back up at all airports around 9:30pm. Among the affected airports were immigration-heavy ones such as New York-JFK, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, Denver and Miami.

Though it didn’t say what caused the failure, the agency said that there was no reason to believe that the system was hacked or otherwise tampered with, and added that passengers were processed by other means.

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