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Trump running out of time to solidify immigration agenda after U.S. election loss

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Trump running out of time to solidify immigration agenda after U.S. election loss

By Ted Hesson



FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump smiles as he prepares to autograph a plaque commemorating the construction of the 200th mile of border wall while visiting the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border in San Luis, Arizona, U.S., June 23, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's administration is pushing to finalize new immigration restrictions before his term ends in January, according to three senior homeland security officials, a last-gasp effort in a policy area that was a central focus during his four years in office.


The moves come even as Democratic President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to rescind many of Trump's immigration policies. By finalizing rules that have just been proposed, or issuing last-minute orders, the administration could slow down Biden's efforts to undo many of Trump's signature measures that have made it harder for immigrants to enter and settle in the United States.


One measure announced this week limits travel to the United States for Chinese Communist Party members and their immediate families. The State Department said on Thursday it was reducing the maximum validity of tourist visas for that group to one month from 10 years.


Another goal for Trump's last few weeks in office is replacing a lottery system used to award H-1B visas to skilled foreign workers, according to officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss government operations. Instead, a new selection process would favor visa applicants with higher-paying jobs.


White House senior adviser Stephen Miller - considered the architect of Trump's hard-line immigration agenda - told Reuters over the summer that the regulations meant to drive up wages in the H-1B program would be politically unpopular to reverse, since the changes are aimed at protecting U.S. workers.


On Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Facebook Inc, accusing the social media giant of discriminating against potential U.S. hires by favoring temporary workers, including H-1B visas holders. A Facebook spokesman said it disputed the allegations in the complaint.


Other measures that could be hurried to the finish line include new rules to restrict access to asylum and a regulation that would allow federal immigration officials to collect DNA from family-based visa applicants and the U.S. citizens or permanent residents who sponsor them.


Another measure would tighten visa rules for international students, cultural exchange visitors and foreign journalists.


The changes would take the form of regulatory actions that are crafted by agencies and do not require congressional approval but need to follow legal processes outlined in federal law.


News reports have also surfaced about a possible Trump executive order to weaken the constitutional right to citizenship for all people born in the United States. A senior homeland security official told Reuters, however, the effort did not appear to be a priority for the White House.


Acting DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli is spearheading the last-ditch immigration effort, one official told Reuters, as the president continues to promote unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud and has not conceded his Nov. 3 election defeat.


The White House and DHS declined to comment.



Trump is not the first president to engage in a last-minute policy push, according to Republican strategist Alex Conant.


"Every outgoing administration tries to do as much as they can before the clock runs out," he said. "There are a lot of true believers in this White House who think immigration is bad for the country and are spending their last hours in power trying to cement their policies."


Most of Trump's immigration plans are unlikely to be finished, however, before he leaves office and the ones that are hastily pushed through will be vulnerable to court challenges.


A federal judge on Tuesday blocked two different fast-tracked Trump rules targeting the H-1B program. The judge said the administration failed to show "good cause" to skip regulatory steps that typically take months or longer.


Rules that have not taken effect by the time Biden takes office on Jan. 20 could be delayed and eventually rescinded, according to three experts in government regulations.


Any work in Trump's final month in office will also likely be slowed down by the Christmas and New Year's holidays and possible departures of Trump appointees, which is typical for outgoing administrations.


One closely watched policy area will be any final Trump actions related to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was instituted by President Barack Obama, whom Biden served as vice president.


The Supreme Court in June thwarted Trump's attempt to end DACA, which offers deportation relief and work permits to some 646,000 "Dreamer" immigrants brought to the United States as children but who lack legal status.


After the ruling, the Trump administration said it would still consider ending the program and then issued an order that narrowed its scope.

Even though a federal judge ruled against that move in November, the administration could try other last-minute avenues to hamper the program.


"Nothing would surprise us," said Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigrant America's Voice.


Biden has promised to send legislation to Congress that would provide a path to citizenship to the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally, including those enrolled in the DACA program.


(Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington; Editing by Mica Rosenberg, Peter Cooney and Alexandra Hudson)



-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-12-04
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The sooner this disgusting man is out of the news, the better!

Dictators always, always, need an enemy for the dumb population to refocus their hatred upon.....anyone that can be easily distinguished "physically" is a good start......if not, stick a star on them.

Let’s separate two things.   Sensible immigration control and the vicious and racist policies prompted by Miller and enacted by the Trump administration.   We can then dispense wit

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47 minutes ago, Tug said:

What on earth would lead a person to think immigration is or ever was unregulated that’s untrue heck it took almost 2 yrs to get my wife’s papers back in the early eighths trump and his tody Miller should have no more chances to screw this up they have damaged enough lives allready let it get worked out under the new administration yeiks!


Allow me to rephrase: It is certainly regulated, but it is getting abused and some of the regulations are in-effective and only loosely enforced (in Europe).

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2 hours ago, Thomas J said:

People are chosen to jobs, promotions, entry to organizations, sports teams, colleges etc based on MERIT.  The USA does in fact need immigrants.  However it has like most countries enough with limited to no skills.  With manufacturing going overseas and becoming automated the number of unskilled, low skilled labor positions is being reduced.  Entry to the USA or for that matter any other country should be based on what the entrant can provide to the country, not what the country can provide to the entrant. 


I am of the same opinion with regards to immigration, as we have something similar in New Zealand, and I have never seen the sense in allowing a broad-brush immigration to occur, whereby the immigrants go straight onto Social Security, get free housing and other benefits, and don't have to work for the rest of their lives.


That has happened in the UK and irrespective of whether people from poorer countries are seeking what some call "a better life", in the main they are just seeking an easier life without having to work. Then again, it's as much the government's fault for handing out freebies without demanding that work/employment is part of the deal.


I think Biden will have to find some middle ground between Draconian trump-like measures and common sense.

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