Camila DeChalus

Trump wants 400 TSA agents sent to the border. Democrats say that may hurt morale
Lawmakers worry high TSA turnover could increase after the White House said it was sending agents to the southwest border

Democrats raised concerns on Tuesday that the Transportation Security Administration’s ongoing problems with high turnover rates could worsen after the Trump administration announced it would send 400 TSA workers to the southwest border to help with the migrant surge.

“I think what I see now is continued manufacturing of a crisis, to the detriment of TSA and some other agencies, which should not be,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., House Homeland Security chairman, said at a Tuesday hearing on the TSA workforce crisis. “I’m concerned that we are now putting airports at risk potentially, as well as the traveling public at risk in general, by taking people away from airports and sending them to the border.”

Graham aims to advance border security bill in early June
Bill would change asylum laws and expand detention facilities to address a surge of migrants arriving at the southwest border

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said he is willing to work with Republicans and Democrats to craft a limited immigration bill in short order that would change asylum laws and expand detention facilities in an attempt to address the surge of migrants arriving at the southwest border.

Speaking with a sense of urgency, the South Carolina Republican said at a news conference Wednesday that he will introduce a bill later this week that would: require immigrants to apply for U.S. asylum in their home countries instead of at the border; hire more immigration judges to reduce the case backlog that already exceeds 800,000; and modify a court settlement that currently limits the amount of time migrant children can be held in detention while they await adjudication.

New budget request for border crisis could come this week
Some funding would be for migrant processing facilities

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told lawmakers Tuesday that the White House is planning to send Congress a supplemental funding request this week to address the high volume of migrants arriving at the southern border.

“The supplemental funding request will address critical humanitarian requirements and help ensure that the crisis is managed in an operationally effective, humane and safe manner,” McAleenan said.

‘Remain in Mexico’ policy for migrants creating ambiguity, fear
Trump administration wants to expand program beyond San Diego-Tijuana corridor

Nearly four months ago, the Trump administration launched its “Remain in Mexico” program, under which migrants seeking entry to the United States must stay in Mexico while their immigration court hearings go on north of the border. The government announced this week that it intended to expand the program beyond where it began in the San Diego-Tijuana corridor.

But U.S. immigration lawyers say the program is mainly leaving them confused on how best to help their clients, and leaving their clients fearful about their safety in Mexico.

Trump's 2020 budget seeks 7 percent rise in Secret Service funding for 2020 campaign
The budget summary says it seeks to hire 177 additional special agents, officers and professional staff for the agency

President Donald Trump's fiscal 2020 budget proposal seeks $2.3 billion to fund the U.S. Secret Service, an increase of 7 percent over the estimated spending for 2019 and some 15 percent above actual spending for 2018, according to budget documents released this week.

Much of the extra money in discretionary budget authority would go to protecting presidential candidates during the 2020 campaign and for the two national political conventions, plus hiring more agents, and more money for research and development and "protective equipment and technology." 

Ph.D. student faces deportation to Liberia, where she has never lived
Trump administration has announced DED program will end March 31

Yatta Kiazolu moved to Los Angeles from Delaware to pursue her dream of obtaining a Ph.D. in history at UCLA.

But as she approaches her final year of the program, her dreams of walking across the stage with her degree in hand seem further and further away as her temporary visa status will expire at the end of this month. And she could be deported to Liberia, a country in which she has never lived, or even visited.

Senate rejects Trump’s emergency declaration on border
President has promised to veto the joint resolution

On this day in the Senate, no man a king, not even President Donald Trump.

The Senate passed a resolution Thursday to terminate Trump’s national emergency declaration that would have allowed him to redirect up to $6.7 billion from other Cabinet departments toward constructing his long-promised wall on the southwestern border.

Homeland Secretary to face tough questions from Democrats
Democrats are expected to grill Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during the House Homeland Security Committee hearing

Democrats are expected to grill Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during the House Homeland Security Committee hearing Wednesday about President Donald Trump’s immigration and border security policies. It is the first time Nielsen has appeared before the Democratically controlled House.

Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency to reallocate more than $6 billion from other departments to construct a border wall will likely take center stage. Senators are poised to vote soon on a resolution to block the national emergency, following the House's vote last week to block Trump's emergency declaration.

FEMA administrator departs, says it’s ‘time for me to go home to my family’
Brock Long departs after questions about use of government vehicles

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long, who during his tenure had to repay the government for using vehicles in a nonofficial capacity, resigned his position Wednesday.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement that Deputy Administrator Pete Gaynor will become the acting administrator.

Trump extends order on asylum seekers at southwest border
The order bars migrants who arrive outside points of entry at the U.S.-Mexico border from requesting asylum

President Donald Trump issued a proclamation Thursday evening that extends for 90 days his November order barring migrants who arrive outside points of entry at the U.S. Mexico border from requesting asylum. The courts have blocked implementation of the first order.

In his new proclamation, Trump declared that the U.S. immigration and asylum system remains “in a crisis as a consequence of the mass migration of aliens across the border between the United States and Mexico.”

Family separation blasted by both parties at oversight hearing
“I think what we’re really talking about is state sponsored child abuse, and I would go as far as to say kidnapping,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky

Democrats on a House subcommittee demanded answers Thursday from Health and Human Services officials regarding how many children were actually separated from parents during the “zero tolerance” policy last spring at the southern border, after a report found that thousands more children could have been separated than the 2,700 previously reported.

“What’s been happening is more than irresponsible and sloppy. I think what we’re really talking about is state sponsored child abuse, and I would go as far as to say kidnapping,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., said at a hearing by the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Unshackled by leadership, appropriators ready to deal on border

The top congressional leaders in both chambers have a message for the 17 appropriators making up the House-Senate conference committee on Homeland Security spending: Do your thing.

And that’s a positive sign for negotiations on border security funding that are going down to the wire again, with a Feb. 15 deadline to avert yet another partial government shutdown. Appropriators want to reach at least an agreement in principle by the end of this week, to be able to start putting pen to paper over the weekend.

ICE detention facilities don’t meet national standards, IG says
The report found ICE does a poor job managing facilities, rarely holds contractors accountable and grants too many repair waivers

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does a poor job of managing its detention facilities that hold tens of thousands of immigrants awaiting hearings, rarely holds contractors accountable for lapsed standards and informally grants too many waivers to allow facility managers to avoid making repairs, a new report from the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general found.

From October 2015 to June 2018, “ICE paid contractors operating the 106 detention facilities subject to this review more than $3 billion,” the inspector general wrote in its conclusion. “Despite documentation of thousands of deficiencies and instances of serious harm to detainees that occurred at these detention facilities, ICE rarely imposed financial penalties.”

Border security bargainers get to work, still miles apart
First conference committee meeting does little to close the divide

House Democrats showed few signs of giving in to President Donald Trump’s demands for $5.7 billion for a border wall as a conference committee began talks Wednesday to strike a border security deal that would also fund the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal 2019.

But both sides expressed optimism and pledged to work toward an agreement by the Feb. 15 deadline that the president can sign, and thus avoid another partial government shutdown.

Senate shutdown talks hastened after airline disruption
Trump announces deal that would open shuttered government agencies and negotiate DHS funding

Discussions between Senate leaders of both parties on how to end the 35-day government shutdown picked up with renewed urgency Friday as the record-setting government shutdown began halting flights scheduled to land at LaGuardia Airport — in Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s home state of New York.

President Donald Trump announced Friday afternoon that a deal had been reached that would fund shuttered government agencies for three weeks while providing time to negotiate funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

At border, Homeland Security Department stats paint complex situation
White House says crisis is brewing, but apprehensions have declined, assets slowly built up

President Donald Trump has spent much of his time in office making assertions about the southern border as he seeks to evoke a sense of crisis about an influx of illegal immigrants, possible terrorists, rapists and all manner of criminals who will threaten the safety of the American people.

That’s the same script he drew from Tuesday night as he addressed the nation from the Oval Office.

Immigration case backlog keeps growing as shutdown drags on
‘Some people have been waiting years to have their cases heard,’ immigration attorney says

The partial federal government shutdown has closed most immigration courts, exacerbating the immigration case backlog as judges postpone scores of court cases.

Ashley Tabaddor, the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said that many immigration judges are on furlough, or unpaid leave, and had to postpone immigration cases, which can take years before they are reheard.

Trump Administration to Make Asylum-Seekers Wait in Mexico
Similar asylum policy proposed last month was stymied by the courts

The Homeland Security Department on Thursday announced a plan to keep Central American asylum-seekers in Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings, claiming it would “reduce illegal migration by removing one of the key incentives that encourages people from taking the dangerous journey to the United States in the first place.”

Under the plan, asylum-seekers would be temporarily returned to Mexico after being issued a notice to appear in U.S. immigration court. The department said it reached an agreement with Mexico to issue asylum-seekers humanitarian visas and access to attorneys and the United States for the purpose of appearing in court.

New Bill Would Hold HHS Feet to Fire for Unaccompanied Minors
Whereabouts of nearly 1,500 undocumented children are reportedly unknown

A bipartisan group of senators have introduced a bill designed to ensure that the Department of Health and Human Services takes full responsibility for, and keeps better track of, unaccompanied children who come to the border seeking entry to the United States and then are placed with U.S. sponsors.

The legislation follows a new report that revealed that the government could not determine the whereabouts of nearly 1,500 children that HHS had placed with sponsors this year.

Lawmakers Unhappy With Pompeo’s Lowered Cap on Refugees
New cap of 30,000 is a historic low

Lawmakers of both parties are criticizing the Trump administration’s decision to lower the annual refugee cap to 30,000 people for fiscal 2019 — a sharp decrease from the 45,000 cap set for fiscal 2018, and also a historic low.

“At a time when we should be defending our values and ideals as Americans and working to alleviate the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, it is truly repugnant to see the Trump administration double down on its efforts to reject our foundational values and humanitarian duty of providing those escaping persecution the opportunity to seek protection and safe haven,” Sen. Robert Menendez, the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement Monday.