Immigration

Democrats Pan Proposal to Limit Green Cards for Poor Immigrants
Administration touts rule as moving toward ‘merit-based’ immigration

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement that “those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic lawmakers are criticizing a new rule proposed by the Trump administration that would make it harder for immigrants who receive public benefits to obtain green cards.

The 447-page proposed rule, unveiled by the Department of Homeland Security on Saturday, would expand the government’s ability to deny a green card — and eventual citizenship — to applicants deemed likely to rely on programs including Medicaid, Section 8 low-income housing, and food stamps. The proposed rule represents a significant step in the administration’s efforts to move toward a “merit-based” immigration system, rather than the family-based system currently in place.

He Made Politics a Knockdown Brawl. (Hint: It Wasn’t Trump)
Contrary to the cries of ‘It’s never been worse,’ politics has always been personal, passionate and contentious

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams didn’t found America with backslaps and empty platitudes. They were as passionate as any politician since, write Heineman and Beebe. (Courtesy White House Historical Association and National Gallery of Art)

OPINION — In the presidential election of 1800, John Adams’ camp, through the Connecticut Courant newspaper, said that should Thomas Jefferson win the presidency, the United States would become a nation where “murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will openly be taught and practiced.”

Jefferson’s camp in turn accused Adams of being a “gross hypocrite” and “one of the most egregious fools on the continent.”

When Fried Pickles Lead to Better Policymaking
Ace program helps lawmakers build personal and working relationships

From right, Kentucky Rep. Andy Barr and California Rep. Jimmy Panetta visit a farm outside Lexington, Ky., during an exchange trip in June with the Bipartisan Policy Center. (Courtesy Bipartisan Policy Center)

OPINION — A California congressman, born in Mexico, introduces a Republican colleague in America’s heartland to traditional Mexican hibiscus water while attending a Cinco de Mayo festival, like the one he started in his home district. Within 24 hours, they receive a classified defense briefing nearby at U.S. Strategic Command headquarters. In ways both lighthearted and serious, that’s how relationships are built under the Bipartisan Policy Center’s American Congressional Exchange program, or ACE.

Relationships are foundational. Just as it is hard to trust someone you don’t know, it’s also difficult to disparage a person with whom you’ve broken bread — or shared hibiscus water, eaten fried pickles or tasted olive oil on ice cream. And experiencing the world through the eyes and perspective of another is frequently illuminating.

Trump Slams McCaskill for Opposing ‘Truly Spectacular’ Kavanaugh
Missouri attorney general is in Senate dogfight with Democratic incumbent

President Donald Trump, here at a rally in Las Vegas on Thursday, was in Missouri the following day to boost Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump hailed Missouri Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley as a “star” Friday night, while lambasting the Democratic incumbent, Claire McCaskill, for opposing his “truly spectacular” Supreme Court nominee. 

The president, as he often does for Republican candidates, attempted to boost Hawley, the state attorney general, by calling him onstage at the rally in Springfield, Missouri, to speak behind the presidential podium with the executive seal. 

Ocelots, Butterflies in Path of Border Wall
As DHS waives its way across Texas, Congress is rethinking a thirteen-year-old law

Barriers at the southern border hem in more than people, environmentalists say. Wildcats, tortoises and other animals can get trapped. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

When rains pushed the Rio Grande River to flood stage in 2010, an existing border wall acted as a flood barrier, protecting some lowlands but also trapping some animals. A 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Sierra Club noted the discovery after the flooding of shells from “hundreds” of Texas tortoise, which that state lists as a threatened species.

“Animals caught between the river and the flood wall that could not escape around the edges of the floodwalls likely perished,” said the report. Endangered species like the ocelot and jaguarundi, both small wildcats, also might have died, according to the report.

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

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., says the Department of Health and Human Services has a responsibility to ensure the safety of unaccompanied minors even after they’re placed with a sponsor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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.

As Trump Waffles, House Republicans Confident They’ll Avert Shutdown
Still president, conservatives wary of GOP leaders’ government funding strategy

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, is confident there will not be a government shutdown despite President Donald Trump’s mixed signals on the matter. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans prepare a legislative strategy with President Donald Trump seemingly on board, only for the president to catch them off guard with a last-minute tweet suggesting his opposition to the plan.

That scenario has played out a few times this year as lawmakers debated immigration and appropriations bills. And it could realistically happen again next week as Congress plans to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown that Trump has already signaled he might force.

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

Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Menendez called the Trump administration’s decision to lower the annual refugee cap “truly repugnant.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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.

A Workhorse and a Hard Charger Aim for Transportation Top Spot
Sam Graves and Jeff Denham mostly align on policy, but couldn’t vary more in style

An airplane takes off from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport at sunrise on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The personalities of the two candidates angling to be the next top Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee may be the starkest difference between them.

As Steering Committee members decide committee leadership posts later this year, they’ll have to choose between behind-the-scenes operator Sam Graves of Missouri and Jeff Denham, a hard-charging Californian best known for nearly forcing House leadership’s hand on immigration votes by advancing a discharge petition earlier this year. 

Why It’s NOT the Economy, Stupid
With growth up, unemployment down, voters are focusing on other issues

National Republicans are hoping the strong economy will boost candidates like Jim Hagedorn, their nominee in Minnesota’s 1st District, seen here campaigning Sunday at the Applefest parade in La Crescent, Minn. However, public polling shows the economy is not at the top of voters’ concerns. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS — Last week, the National Republican Congressional Committee released a web video entitled “Better Off Now.” According to NRCC communications director Matt Gorman, who was quoted in the accompanying press release, “November comes down to one question: Are Americans better off now than they were two years ago?” That might be what Republicans want, but it is not likely to be voters’ sole motivation as they cast their ballots. 

According to Gorman, voters will “keep Republicans in the majority.” The economy certainly is good, and there is no reason to believe that will change before November.