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September 23, 2018
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The Trump administration on Saturday proposed a rule change that would make it more difficult for immigrants to receive visas and green cards if they are deemed likely to use public assistance programs.

"Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially," said Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a statement arguing the rule would "promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers."

The proposal will define a threshold for a total amount of assistance from programs like public housing and food stamps, and using assistance above that line will be "a heavily weighed negative factor" in the consideration of immigration status change applications, DHS said. The new rules could take effect before the end of the year.

Critics say the proposal is less about frugality than restricting immigration, and legal challenge is expected. "Today's announcement by the Trump administration is a backdoor, administrative end-run to substantially reduce legal immigration that, if implemented, will hurt our entire country," Todd Schulte of FWD.us told CNN. "This policy will cost the United States in the long run by limiting the contributions of hardworking immigrants who could become legal residents, and no one is better off because of it." Bonnie Kristian

August 9, 2018
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First lady Melania Trump's parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, became U.S. citizens on Thursday, taking advantage of a program that President Trump has long railed against.

Their ceremony was private for "security reasons," attorney Michael Wildes said. Trump has decried "chain migration," where adult U.S. citizens can obtain residency for their relatives. On Nov. 1, 2017, for example, he tweeted: "CHAIN MIGRATION must end now! Some people come in, and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE!" Wildes told The New York Times "I suppose" the Knavses obtained citizenship through chain migration, but called the term a "dirtier" way of describing family-based immigration, "a bedrock of our immigration process when it comes to family reunification."

The Knavses are from Slovenia, but they now divide their time between New York City, Palm Beach, and Washington, D.C., where they stay with the Trumps in the White House. Wildes said the first lady sponsored her parents for their green cards, and once eligible, they applied for citizenship. To apply for U.S. citizenship, a person must have a green card for at least five years, plus meet the character, residency, and civic knowledge requirements. It's unclear when the Knavses obtained permanent residency in the U.S., the Times reports, but Wildes said they met the five-year requirement.

Melania Trump became a citizen in 2006, five years after she gained permanent residency by obtaining a so-called "Einstein visa," for "individuals of extraordinary ability." She began dating Donald Trump in 1998. Catherine Garcia

August 4, 2018
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A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully revive the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects from deportation young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

U.S. District Judge John Bates decided the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has failed to adequately "explain its view that DACA is unlawful." "The court has already once given DHS the opportunity to remedy these deficiencies — either by providing a coherent explanation of its legal opinion or by reissuing its decision for bona fide policy reasons that would preclude judicial review," he said. "So it will not do so again."

The restart is set to begin Aug. 23, though the administration can appeal the ruling in the meantime. DACA was started by the Obama administration via executive order. Trump rescinded it in September and has since taken conflicting positions on possible congressional responses. Bonnie Kristian

July 20, 2018
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On Thursday, the Trump administration said it has reunited 364 of more than 2,500 migrant children ages five and older with their families, after they were separated from their parents along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The government has a court-ordered deadline of July 26 to reunite the children with their parents, and in a court filing, the Trump administration said of the 1,607 parents eligible for reunification, 719 have final orders of deportation. "That's a pretty horrifying statistic," Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of Immigrant Defenders Law Center, told NBC News. "We have had such limited communication with parents it was difficult to know where they were in their case."

The parents will need to decide if they will take their children back with them to their native countries, or leave them in the care of the government or relatives in the United States so they can seek asylum. Catherine Garcia

July 3, 2018
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On Monday, a federal judge ruled that the Department of Homeland Security has been ignoring its own 2009 directive requiring that asylum seekers receive individualized reviews of their cases, instead making blanket detention decisions.

District Judge James Boasberg of the District of Columbia issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that necessitates the Department of Homeland Security follow the directive. "To mandate that ICE provide these baseline procedures to those entering our country — individuals who have often fled violence and persecution to seek safety on our shores — is no great judicial leap," he said.

Before the Trump administration, most people seeking asylum were granted release in the U.S. to await their final hearing in front of an immigration judge, unless they were deemed threats to public safety. In March, nine asylum seekers — including an ethics teacher from Haiti who was attacked after teaching students about government corruption and a gay man from Honduras who was threatened by a gunman — sued, with all saying they had been held for several months, and in one case more than two years, with no explanation as to why they were still in custody. Catherine Garcia

June 30, 2018
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The Justice Department said in a district court filing Friday that the Trump administration can detain migrant families intact at the border for as long as it takes to prosecute them.

The claim came in response to a Tuesday court ruling prohibiting family separations and requiring immigrant children currently separated from their parents to be reunited with them within 30 days. Because of the ban, the DOJ argued, the administration can now disregard the 1997 Flores agreement that prohibited the federal detention of children for longer than 20 days.

"To comply with the [Tuesday] injunction," the filing said, "the government will not separate families but detain families together during the pendency of immigration proceedings when they are apprehended at or between ports of entry."

The Obama administration complied with the Flores limitation by releasing families into the United States to await their immigration hearings but also requested permission to detain families for longer than 20 days. That request was denied in court in 2015. Bonnie Kristian

June 29, 2018
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The Trump administration is reviewing a proposal that would make immigrants who enter the country illegally ineligible for asylum, Vox reported Friday. Per a drafted Justice Department proposal — documents for which were reviewed by Vox — the government would make achieving asylum much more difficult in several respects.

While the proposal could still be changed before it is made public, the current draft proposes "the most severe restrictions on asylum since at least 1965," one expert told Vox.

It suggests a number of sweeping changes, including disqualifying immigrants who enter the country outside of a port of entry and officially making domestic violence and gang violence an ineligible reason to apply for asylum, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions floated earlier this month. The proposal additionally penalizes immigrants coming from Central America who don't ask Mexico for asylum first, and limits the number of appeals an asylum-seeker can make during their application process. For immigrants who enter the U.S. and then legally ask for asylum within the first year of residence, the plan would make misdemeanors like traffic violations a disqualifying offense.

The proposal, especially the part that requires immigrants to wait — possibly for several weeks or more — at a port of entry before requesting asylum, will likely face a legal challenge, reports Vox. But if even a portion of the proposed regulation is signed into law, it would become "nearly impossible" for immigrants to successfully navigate the asylum process. Read more at Vox. Summer Meza

June 25, 2018
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Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced Monday that he has asked the United States for temporary protected status for migrants affected by the recent volcano eruptions that have left hundreds of Guatemalans dead, injured, or without homes.

The Fuego volcano, 25 miles southwest of Guatemala City, first erupted on June 3, and it has been spewing ash and lava on and off ever since. Marta Larra, a spokeswoman for Guatemala's Foreign Ministry, said Morales' request is "a response to the catastrophe caused by the Fuego volcano." Many migrants have traveled to the U.S. from Guatemala seeking an escape from gang violence. Catherine Garcia

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