IMMIGRATION CRACKDOWN: Trump to Sign Executive Order Suspending Work Visas to Protect American Jobs

WASHINGTON — Administration officials announced Monday that President Donald Trump will sign an executive order suspending the issuance of certain temporary worker visas through the end of 2020, in an effort to prioritize American workers and slow down immigration.

The order applies to H-1B visas, H-2B visas, H-4 visas, L-1 visas and certain J-1 visas, which relate to skilled and seasonal workers and spouses of H-1B visa holders.

The restrictions are set to remain in place for the rest of the calendar year and administration officials say they be extended beyond the end of the year.

The move comes in response to complaints that American born workers should be prioritized when it comes to jobs, especially in light of the economic downturn caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

A senior administration official said the visa restrictions would free up more than half a million jobs for American workers. The order will also close loopholes that allow companies to outsource labor to foreign workers, the official said.

Two months ago the president signed an initial executive order which temporarily suspended the issuance of new green cards, citing the need to protect American jobs amid widespread unemployment caused by the Coronavirus outbreak.

“I think it’s going to make a lot of people very happy,” Trump said of the order Sunday during an interview with Fox News. “And it’s common sense, I mean, to be honest with you. It’s common sense.”


DACA SHOWDOWN: Clarence Thomas Slams SCOTUS Over Anti-Trump Ruling

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Thursday scolded his fellow Supreme Court Justices over its controversial ruling on DACA.

In a 5-4 decision earlier this week, the Supreme Court ruled to block President Donald Trump’s request to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama era program which prevents young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children from being deported for a set period of time.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the opinion, said the court took issue with the Trump administration’s reasoning for eliminating the program and ultimately determined that the Department of Homeland Security did not follow proper procedure in its decision to end the program and that the department did not have the authority to do so.

In his dissent, Roberts strongly disagreed.

“Today’s decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision,” Thomas wrote. “The dispute before the Court is not whether DHS may rescind DACA. All parties agree that it may. The dispute is instead primarily about the procedure the agency followed in doing so.”

Thomas then slammed his colleagues for giving the “green light for future political battles to be fought in this Court rather than where they rightfully belong — the political branches.”

“The majority does not even attempt to explain why a court has the authority to scrutinize an agency’s policy reasons for rescinding an unlawful program under the arbitrary and capricious microscope. The decision to countermand an unlawful agency action is clearly reasonable. So long as the agency’s determination of illegality is sound, our review should be at an end,” Thomas wrote, adding, “The majority’s opinion supports the idea that a president is “not only permitted, but required, to continue administering unlawful programs that it inherited from a previous administration.”

FED UP: Trump to fire DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen over immigration failures, says report

WASHINGTON — Frustrated over failed efforts to secure the nation’s border, President Donald Trump has decided to fire Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen based on lack of performance.

“Trump canceled a planned trip with Nielsen this week to visit U.S. troops at the border in South Texas and told aides over the weekend he wants her out as soon as possible,” The Washington Post reported, citing five current and former White House officials. “The president has grumbled for months about what he views as Nielsen’s lackluster performance on immigration enforcement and is believed to be looking for a replacement who will implement his policy ideas with more alacrity.”

The president has publicly criticized Nielsen’s for months and publicly chastised her during a meeting in May after it got back to him that the number of illegal aliens entering the U.S. through the Southern Border had skyrocketed for the second consecutive month.

“Why don’t you have solutions? How is this still happening?” Trump demanded during the meeting, adding, “We need to shut it down. We’re closed.”

“Our Southern Border is under siege. Congress must act now to change our weak and ineffective immigration laws,” the president vented in a tweet later that same day. “Must build a Wall. Mexico, which has a massive crime problem, is doing little to help!”

A DHS official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Washington Post that Trump should nominate a replacement who has “executive-branch experience” to reinforce the department’s goals.

“This will be our fourth secretary in two years,” the official said. “The last thing we want is someone who needs hand-holding.”

“Former colleagues who worked with Nielsen were astonished when Kelly pushed to install her at DHS because she had never led a large organization, let alone one with so many responsibilities,” the official added. “Nielsen worked on disaster-management response in the Bush White House, then in the private sector and academia as a cyber security expert before returning to DHS to work as chief of staff under Kelly when he was Homeland Security secretary during Trump’s first six months in office.”

According to the Post report, the president is considering several candidates to replace Nielsen including Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection; David P. Pekoske, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration and a former vice commandant of the Coast Guard; or Kris Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state who has been very vocal in his no-nonsense approach to immigration.

Trump campaigned heavily on immigration reform during his 2016 presidential campaign and the issue is expected to remain a principal focus of his 2020 reelection run.


BATTLE FOR THE BORDER: GOP winces as petition to force vote on immigration gains support

Washington, D.C. (The Hill) — Another House Republican has signed on to the discharge petition that would force a series of votes on immigration that GOP leaders are seeking to avoid, bringing the number of signatories to 204.

Rep. Erik Paulsen’s (R-Minn.) signature means the petitioners need just 14 more signers to force a series of votes on immigration legislation that would offer shelter to “Dreamers,” immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children.

Paulsen, a top Democratic target in the midterm elections who represents a district Hillary Clinton won in 2016, is the 21st Republican to sign the petition.

Twenty-five GOP signatures are needed if every Democrat in the House backs the petition, meaning the petitioners may just need another four signatures to reach their goal.

GOP leaders have pressed lawmakers not to sign the discharge petition, which would allow a minority of Republicans working with Democrats to control the floor.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has warned members of his conference it could have negative implications during the midterm election cycle.

Top Republicans have recently floated an alternative plan to hold a series of immigration votes on bills picked by House GOP leadership the week of June 17, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

Under the Queen of the Hill rule, the conservative-backed bill by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the bipartisan USA Act, the Dream Act and a bill of Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) choosing would come to the floor. The measure that receives the most votes over the 218 threshold would then be sent to the Senate.

House GOP leadership has promised members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus a vote on the Goodlatte-McCaul legislation in June. Members of the caucus are hoping a stand-alone vote on the White House-backed measure would kill the discharge petition.

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), a leader on the discharge petiiton, wants a single rule to set up all the bills so that the Freedom Caucus can’t tank the rule for the moderate-backed bill spearheaded by Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.).

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) called on leadership to do everything in their power to stop the discharge petition from moving forward, adding he believes bringing up the Goodlatte bill is the easiest way to derail moderates’ efforts.

“When I voted against a rule, they threatened to take away all travel, they threatened to take away any NRCC contributions,” he told reporters Monday evening, referring to the House Republicans’ campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee. “Most of those people that were on the discharge petition are much closer to leadership than members of the Freedom Caucus — so I don’t see them voting against the rule.”

Meadows said he wouldn’t be supportive of bringing up a rule that also includes the legislation being worked on by Denham, arguing he doesn’t know what the final product will look like.

“I think it’s two separate votes. I mean, the truth of the matter is … we’ll vote on the Goodlatte bill as it was promised some seven months ago,” he said. “Let’s vote on that, and then if we know the parameters of the other bill with Mr. Denham or anybody else, I don’t envision any bloc of votes voting against the rule from our side.”

The North Carolina lawmaker said Republicans need to prove to the American people Goodlatte doesn’t have the 218 votes needed to send his legislation to the upper chamber before looking at alternatives.

“I guess the question is if that’s the only bus leaving the station, how many people actually vote for the Goodlatte bill?” he asked. “And I can tell you there are discussions going on right now on how you modify the Goodlatte bill to get to 218.”

Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.



‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!’: An angry Trump renews vow to crackdown on illegal immigrants

Washington, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Tuesday renewed his pledge to tighten America’s border, fix the broken immigration system and to come down hard on those who enter the United States illegally.

Speaking outside the U.S. Capitol during a National Peace Officers’ memorial service event, the president called on lawmakers to fund his proposed border wall, pass new measures to penalize sanctuary cities and to put an end what he called “catch and release” immigration laws.

“We don’t want it anymore. We’ve had it. Enough is enough,” Trump said after criticizing current policies which “release violent criminals back into our communities” and put police and border patrol officers’ lives at risk.

“We must end the attacks on our police and we must end them right now,” he said. “We believe criminals who kill our police should get the death penalty. Bring it forth.”

The president’s latest remarks come after weeks of his being increasingly vocal in his frustration toward U.S. immigration laws, which he has repeatedly slammed as being too weak.

Further, it was reported last week that President Trump dressed down Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen so hard over her not being aggressive enough in going after people who cross into the U.S. illegally that Neilson was on the brink of resigning her position.

In a statement, Nielsen confirmed the president’s anger over current immigration laws, but did not confirm or deny reports that she was on the verge of resigning her position.

“The president is rightly frustrated that existing loopholes and the lack of Congressional action have prevented this administration from fully securing the border and protecting the American people,” Neilson said. “I share his frustration.”

“I will continue to direct the department to do all we can to implement the president’s security-focused agenda,” Nielsen added.

Trump, who is in the early stages of preparing for his 2020 reelection campaign, campaigned heavily on the topic of immigration reform during his 2016 presidential run.

A large part of his now famous “Make America Great Again” slogan centered around the promise to build a border wall between the southern U.S. border and Mexico and to fix broken and unenforced immigration laws, issues that have been met with staunch challenges from the left.




POTUS UNDER FIRE: Seven U.S. states sue Trump administration over failure to end DACA

Washington, D.C. — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday filed suit against the Trump administration over its failure to end DACA, the “unconstitutional” immigration program which protects many illegals from being deported.

Other states joining its suit against the Trump administration include Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia.

““Today, leading a coalition of seven states, I filed a lawsuit against the federal government to end the unconstitutional Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program (“DACA”),” Paxton said at a press conference on Tuesday.

“DACA purported to grant lawful presence and work permits to nearly one million unlawfully present aliens without congressional approval. In fact, DACA was an attempt by President Obama to enact a law that Congress had repeatedly rejected,” Paxton continued.

“Our coalition is urging the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to declare DACA unconstitutional and stop the federal government from issuing or renewing any DACA permits in the future.The multi-state coalition lawsuit we filed today is about the rule of law, not the wisdom of any particular immigration policy.”

In the suit, Paxton faults activist judges who he claims are preventing the Trump administration from phasing out the DACA program as Trump promised to do early in his presidency.

“That means that unelected federal judges are forcing the Trump administration to leave an unlawful program in place indefinitely as legal challenges drag on,” Paxton said.

“President Trump has a duty under the Constitution to take care that the law be faithfully executed.”

President Trump campaigned heavily on the issue of national security and securing America’s southern border. Multiple attempts at doing so have been blocked by federal district courts throughout the nation who ruled that such programs constituted “racism” and discriminatory practices based on religion.

Calls to the White House for statement regarding the multi-state lawsuit were met with “no comment”.



REPORT: Trump’s travel ban headed for victory at Supreme Court

Washington, D.C. (Bloomberg) — The U.S. Supreme Court appeared poised to uphold President Donald Trump’s travel ban as two key justices used an argument session to aim skeptical questions at a lawyer challenging the policy.

Hearing the last case of its nine-month term Wednesday, the court took its first direct look at a policy that indefinitely bars more than 150 million people from entering the country. Opponents, led at the high court by Hawaii, say Trump overstepped his authority and was motivated by anti-Muslim animus.

Chief Justice John Roberts suggested he doubted that the policy was unconstitutionally tainted by Trump’s campaign call for a Muslim ban at the border. Roberts asked whether those types of comments would prevent a president from taking the advice of his military staff to launch an air strike against Syria.

“Does that mean he can’t because you would regard that as discrimination against a majority-Muslim country?” Roberts asked Hawaii’s lawyer, Neal Katyal.

Another pivotal justice, Anthony Kennedy, suggested he understood Katyal to be asking the court to second-guess the president on whether a national-security emergency warranted border restrictions.

“Your argument is that courts have the duty to review whether or not there is such a national exigency,” Kennedy said with a tone of incredulity. “That’s for the courts to do, not the president?”

The court is considering the third version of a ban that triggered chaos and protests at American airports when Trump signed the first executive order a week after taking office in January 2017. Although two federal appeals courts have ruled against Trump, the Supreme Court let the policy take full effect in December.

The travel policy bars or limits entry by people from Iran, Syria, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. It also blocks people from North Korea and a handful of Venezuelan government officials, though those aspects of the policy aren’t at issue at the high court. Trump removed Chad from the list of restricted countries earlier this month.

The high court’s decision, likely to come in the final days of June, promises to be a major pronouncement on the president’s control over the nation’s borders. It may also serve as a judgment on an unconventional presidency marked by ad-hoc policy decisions and pointed Twitter comments.

Wednesday’s session offered few reasons to expect that judgment to be anything but deferential. The toughest questions for U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, Trump’s top Supreme Court advocate, came almost entirely from the court’s most liberal members.

One of them, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, said Congress had already enacted a visa waiver process that required heightened vetting in some cases. “Where does the president get the authority to do more than Congress has already decided is adequate?” she asked.

Justice Elena Kagan, another Democratic appointee, raised a hypothetical issue of a president who had made anti-Semitic remarks and whose administration found security reasons to recommend a ban on travel from Israel.

“This is an out-of-the-box kind of president in my hypothetical,” she said, drawing laughter from the courtroom. “We don’t have those, Your Honor,” Francisco quickly shot back before saying that he doubted that any national security reasons could justify a ban on such a close ally.

“The question is, what are reasonable observers to think given this context, in which this hypothetical president is making virulent anti-Semitic comments,” Kagan said.

But Justice Samuel Alito noted that Trump’s policy affects only a small percentage of the world’s Muslims.

“It does not look at all like a Muslim ban,” he said. “There are other justifications that jump out as to why these particular countries were put on the list.”

Katyal said the travel ban “does fall almost exclusively on Muslims.”

Kennedy, the court’s most frequent swing vote, asked questions of both sides. He asked Francisco about a hypothetical mayoral candidate who made “hateful statements” during his campaign and then acted on those comments on the second day of his administration.

“You would say whatever he said in the campaign is irrelevant?” Kennedy asked.

But Kennedy aimed his toughest questions at Katyal, the Hawaii lawyer. The justice suggested the travel ban was more flexible than opponents contended, pointing to a provision in the most recent version that he said requires officials to revisit it every 180 days. “That indicates there’ll be a reassessment and the president has continuing discretion,” Kennedy said.

And the Republican-appointed justice scoffed at Katyal’s argument that the policy lacks any clear end point. “You want the president to say, ‘I’m convinced that in six months we’re going to have a safe world,’” Kennedy said.

Francisco ended his argument by offering a defense of Trump’s motives, though the lawyer stumbled slightly over his words.

“He has made crystal clear that Muslims in this country are great Americans and there are many, many Muslim countries who love this country,” Francisco said. “And he has praised Islam as one of the great countries of the world.”

Underscoring the widespread interest in the case, the court posted an audio recording of the argument on its website Wednesday afternoon. It’s the first time this term the court has released same-day audio.

People began lining up days in advance for one of the roughly 50 seats the court typically sets aside for members of the general public.

The case is Trump v. Hawaii, 17-965.



ALL EYES ON GORSUCH: Trump nominee could play key role in SCOTUS decision on travel ban

Washington, D.C. (Fox News) — All eyes are on Justice Neil Gorsuch as a major constitutional challenge to one of President Trump’s most controversial initiatives — the so-called travel ban — comes before the Supreme Court.

Trump’s own nominee to the court could prove key with oral arguments scheduled for Wednesday.

At issue, in part, is whether the third and latest version of Trump’s travel ban, affecting visitors from six majority Muslim nations, discriminates on the basis of nationality and religion. Given the high public interest, the court is modifying its usual policy and will release audio of the session soon after its conclusion.

The controversy pits an administration that considers the restrictions necessary for Americans’ security against challengers who claim it is illegally aimed at Muslims — and stems from Trump’s campaign call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the U.S.

The case will be the first significant legal test so far of the president’s administration and could lead to a precedent-setting ruling on the limits of executive power, especially within the immigration context.

“This is a very difficult issue for the Supreme Court,” said Thomas Dupree, a former top Bush Justice Department official. “In many ways, it’s a political judgment — who is allowed into this country — and historically the court has been very reluctant to tread into areas where it could be viewed as making a political judgment that is properly confined to the executive.”

Read more at Fox News


POTUS v SCOTUS: Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments over Trump travel ban

WASHINGTON, D.C. (The Wall Street Journal) — The Supreme Court on Wednesday will consider whether President Donald Trump can legally restrict entry to the U.S. for travelers from several Muslim-majority countries, tackling a central issue of his presidency.

The case traces back to a defining moment in Mr. Trump’s campaign, when he called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” That idea evolved through three travel bans of varying character and severity, the latest issued in September 2017.

The ban has become more measured in some respects, as the White House has sought to withstand legal scrutiny, though the current travel prohibitions have no expiration date, a contrast from the temporary nature of the earlier bans.

To prevail, the government may have to persuade the justices that the current order is untainted by religious bias, contrary to the findings of some lower courts. The administration also will assert that the ban is needed to help prevent terrorist attacks.

Clarifying the scope of the president’s power over immigration and national-security policy is a momentous task in itself. But in a matter so closely tied to Mr. Trump’s own instincts and style, the case amounts to something of a personal test for the president, as well as a legal one.

While the dispute involves a number of familiar legal questions involving the interpretation of statutes and constitutional provisions, Mr. Trump’s habit of regularly tweeting and otherwise declaring his opinions has added additional dimensions.

“One is the question of when the executive can free itself from the taint of earlier remarks or earlier actions, because if you pretend there were no campaign promises of a Muslim ban and there was no Version 1.0 of a travel ban, the administration’s position looks a lot better,” said Kermit Roosevelt, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Supreme Court has tread carefully when considering a handful of preliminary matters involving the travel ban and other disputed Trump administration policies, suggesting the justices may be reluctant to pare back Mr. Trump’s authority in ways that could curtail the powers of future presidents.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal


GORSUCH CAVES: Trump’s SCOTUS pic sides with libs; Strikes down key deportation provision on Trump immigration plan

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Fox News) — Justice Neil Gorsuch provided the decisive vote Tuesday in a Supreme Court ruling striking down a key provision that made it easier to deport immigrants convicted of violent crimes, in a blow to the Trump administration.

President Trump’s Supreme Court pick has largely sided with the conservative members of the bench since his appointment, but sided with the liberal wing on Tuesday.

The court said the part of the law in question is too vague to be enforced.

The court’s 5-4 decision concerns a provision of federal immigration law that defines a “crime of violence.” Conviction for a crime of violence subjects an immigrant to deportation and usually speeds up the process.

A federal appeals court in San Francisco previously struck down the provision as too vague, and on Monday the Supreme Court agreed. The appeals court based its ruling on a 2015 Supreme Court decision that struck down a similarly worded part of another federal law that imposes longer prison sentences on repeat criminals.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote that the 2015 decision “tells us how to resolve this case.”

The decision is a loss for Trump’s administration which, like President Barack Obama’s administration before it, had defended the provision at issue before the Supreme Court. And it comes amid an ongoing focus on immigration by Trump.

The case the high court ruled in involves James Dimaya, a native of the Philippines who came to the United States legally as a 13-year-old in 1992. After he pleaded no contest to two charges of burglary in California, the government began deportation proceedings against him. The government argued among other things that he could be removed from the country because his convictions qualified as crimes of violence that allowed his removal under immigration law.

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