Biden and Dems criticised ‘Trump’s hard rhetoric’ but now face an ‘immigration crisis’

Joe Biden and the Democrats always criticised Donald Trump’s “hard rhetoric” on immigration – and opposed his border wall – but now President Biden is dealing with an “immigration crisis,” says Sky News host Chris Kenny.

President Biden is facing an unfolding crisis amid a surge in migrants flocking to the US-Mexico border.

Mr Kenny spoke to Gray TV White House Correspondent Jon Decker about the issue.

Mr Kenny said, “you can’t afford to be soft on borders”.

“Joe Biden will create a lot of pain for a lot of people, as well as a lot of political problems for himself if he doesn’t fix it”.

Mr Decker said he didn’t think there was a chance Joe Biden would look to Donald Trump’s policy idea and complete the building of the border wall.

“His party won’t let him do that,” Mr Decker said.

“That was actually a big issue in the presidential campaign”.

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President Biden: Live Updates on Immigration, Coronavirus, Voting Rights and ACA

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

The Senate took its first steps on Wednesday to advance one of Democrats’ top legislative priorities, convening the chamber’s opening hearing on a sweeping federal elections overhaul to expand voting rights and blunt Republican efforts to restrict access to the ballot box through a wave of new measures racing through state legislatures.

Chock-full of liberal priorities, the bill, called the For the People Act, would usher in landmark changes to make it easier to vote, to enact new campaign finance laws and to end to partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts. The legislation passed the House along party lines earlier this month. It faces solid opposition from Republicans who are working to clamp down on ballot access, and who argue that the bill is a power-grab by Democrats.

Democrats on the Senate Rules Committee hope that testimony from Eric Holder, the former attorney general; prominent voting experts; and anti-corruption advocates will help build on a rising drumbeat of support by liberals for its enactment.

“Today, in the 21st Century, there is a concerted, nationwide effort to limit the rights of citizens to vote and to truly have a voice in their own government,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader.

He called the voting rollbacks in the states an “existential threat to our democracy” reminiscent of the Jim Crow segregationist laws of the past, chanting “Shame! Shame! Shame!” at Republicans who are promoting them.

Republicans were equally adamant in their opposition to a measure that promises to be an extraordinarily heavy lift for Democrats. They call the measure an attempt by Democrats to give themselves a permanent political advantage by driving up turnout among minority groups and by preventing Republicans, who control a majority of statehouses, from drawing new congressional districts later this year that would tilt the playing field in their favor.

“This is an attempt by one party to write the rules of our political system,” said Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader. “We can’t afford to go further down this road.”

So far, not a single Republican supports the nearly 800-page bill, and Democrats are unlikely to win support even from all 50 of their members without substantial changes.

Democrats’ best hope for enacting the legislation increasingly appears to be to try to leverage its voting protections — which many liberals view as a life or death matter not just for American democracy, but their own political chances in the future — to justify triggering the Senate’s so-called nuclear option: the elimination of the filibuster rule requiring 60 votes, rather than a simple majority, to advance most bills. For now though, even that remains out of reach as long as conservative Democrats in the 50-50 Senate are opposed.

To make the case against it, Republicans turned two officials who backed an effort to overturn President Biden’s election victory. Mac Warner, the secretary of state of West Virginia and Todd Rokita, the attorney general of Indiana, both supported a Texas lawsuit late last year asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the election results in key battleground states Mr. Biden won, citing groundless claims of voting fraud and other irregularities being spread by former President Donald J. Trump.

Two former Republican chairmen of the Federal Election Commission were also set to testify in opposition on Wednesday.

Republicans are particularly alarmed about provisions that would create a new public campaign financing system for congressional candidates and restructure the F.E.C., making it more partisan and punitive.

“Talk about ‘shame,’ ” Mr. McConnell said.

A man bearing an anti-gun sign walks past the memorial for those who lost their lives in a mass shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colo.
Credit…Stephen Speranza for The New York Times

President Biden’s demand for new gun control measures on Tuesday was the latest in what has become a doleful ritual in Washington: making a renewed call for legislation after a deadly mass shooting, the latest one at a Colorado grocery store where 10 people, including a police officer, were killed on Monday.

But while polling regularly shows broad support for tighter gun laws and specific policies like a ban on assault weapons, Republicans in Congress remained all but immovable on the issue, repeating longstanding arguments on Tuesday that gun violence should be addressed through steps like more policing rather than limiting gun rights.

“There’s not a big appetite among our members to do things that would appear to be addressing it, but actually don’t do anything to fix the problem,” said Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate Republican.

Even before the recent shootings, which also included a deadly rampage at massage parlors in Atlanta, Democrats had begun advancing stricter gun control measures. But those proposals face long odds in the 50-to-50 Senate, where it takes 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

House Democrats passed two bills this month aimed at expanding and strengthening background checks for gun buyers by applying them to all gun buyers and extending the time the F.B.I. has to vet those flagged by the national instant check system.

The twin pieces of legislation passed in the House have been deemed ineffective and too expansive by most Republicans; only eight House Republicans voted to advance the universal background check legislation. The bills would almost certainly not muster 60 votes in the Senate.

Nevertheless, Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, vowed on Tuesday to put the bills to a vote on the Senate floor, and Mr. Biden urged their passage while also calling for an assault weapons ban. The gunman in the Colorado shooting was armed with both a military-style semiautomatic rifle and a pistol.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said that he was “open to the discussion” around gun control measures, but that he was opposed to the two House-passed bills.

“What I’m not attracted to is something that doesn’t work, and there have been deep-seated philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats about how to deal with gun violence,” Mr. McConnell said.

Mr. Biden, for his part, expressed uncertainty when asked by a reporter whether he had the political capital to move forward with gun safety measures.

“I hope so,” he said, crossing his fingers. “I don’t know. I haven’t done any counting yet.”

Senator Tammy Duckworth said she told the White House that she would be voting “no” on every non-“diversity” nominee before the Senate until she felt President Biden’s team was taking the right steps.
Credit…Brandon Bell for The New York Times

The White House said Tuesday that it would appoint a senior official to focus on Asian-American priorities after the Senate’s two Asian-American Democrats called on President Biden to address what they said was an unacceptable lack of representation at the highest levels of his administration.

In a late-night statement, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Biden would name “a senior-level Asian-American Pacific Islander liaison who will ensure the community’s voice is further represented and heard.”

“The president has made it clear that his administration will reflect the diversity of the country,” Ms. Psaki said. “That has always been, and remains, our goal.”

The announcement came hours after Senators Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii promised to withhold their votes on some nominees until Mr. Biden engaged more actively on the issue amid a rising tide of racism toward Asian-Americans during the pandemic, culminating in last week’s deadly shootings in the Atlanta area.

With the Senate divided evenly between the two parties, the move temporarily threatened to derail the president’s hopes of confirming several executive branch officials, including the Pentagon’s No. 3. Apparently, it also created considerable pressure to find a solution to a diversity problem the senators said they had been quietly raising for months.

Open disputes between Mr. Biden and congressional Democrats have been relatively rare in his first months in office, and the senators’ ultimatum was an unusual public disagreement within a party in uniform control of Washington. But by late Tuesday, Ms. Duckworth and Ms. Hirono had dropped their threats and appeared satisfied by the administration’s response.

Ben Garmisa, a spokesman for Ms. Duckworth, said in a statement that the senator appreciated the White House’s “assurances that it will do much more to elevate A.A.P.I. voices and perspectives at the highest levels of government,” referring to Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. He added that the White House had given assurances that its new appointee would work both to confirm more Asian-American and Pacific Islander nominees and to advance legislation that was “relevant and important to the community.”

“Accordingly, she will not stand in the way of President Biden’s qualified nominees — which will include more A.A.P.I. leaders,” Mr. Garmisa said of Ms. Duckworth.

Citing her own conversation with the White House, Ms. Hirono said on Twitter that she would also “continue voting to confirm the historic and highly qualified nominees President Biden has appointed to serve in his administration.”

A placard honors Officer Brian Sicknick of the Capitol Police in the Rotunda in early February.
Credit…Pool photo by Brendan Smialowski

New videos obtained by The New York Times show publicly for the first time how the U.S. Capitol Police officer who died after the Jan. 6 attack was hit with chemical spray — with one of the rioters seen reaching in a friend’s backpack to retrieve what he called “bear spray.”

The officer, Brian D. Sicknick, who had been guarding the west side of the Capitol, collapsed later that day and died the next night. Little had been known about what happened to him during the assault, and the previously unpublished videos provide new details that clarify the confusing sequence of events.

Two men, Julian Elie Khater and George Pierre Tanios, were arrested on March 14 and charged with assaulting Officer Sicknick and two other officers with chemical spray. The investigation is continuing, and federal prosecutors haven’t ruled out pursuing murder charges.

Here’s what the videos show.

Mr. Khater and Mr. Tanios arrive near the police line on the west side of the Capitol at 2:09 p.m., more than an hour into the battle between rioters and police officers. Mr. Khater observes the fighting as tear gas and chemical spray waft through the crowd, then turns back toward where Mr. Tanios is standing.

At 2:14 p.m., he and Mr. Tanios huddle just a few yards from the police line, according to the F.B.I. Part of their conversation is captured in a separate video.

“Give me that bear shit,” Mr. Khater tells Mr. Tanios, most likely referring to a canister of bear repellent spray that prosecutors say Mr. Tanios purchased earlier that day.

He appears to retrieve something from Mr. Tanios’s backpack. After Mr. Tanios tells him to wait, Mr. Khater responds, “They just sprayed me.” He holds a white spray canister in his right hand.

On Monday, federal prosecutors alleged in court that Mr. Khater and Mr. Tanios were carrying Frontiersman bear spray, which can be many times more powerful than pepper sprays sold for self-defense and is not meant for use on humans.

By 2:20 p.m., six minutes later, Mr. Khater has returned to the police line, where Officer Sicknick and his colleagues are standing behind a row of bike rack barricades. He stands just a few feet from Officer Sicknick, who can be seen wearing a blue Capitol Police jacket, bicycle helmet and black coronavirus face mask.

At 2:23 p.m., Mr. Khater raises his arm over other rioters and sprays something toward Officer Sicknick.

A thin stream of liquid is visible shooting from a canister in Mr. Khater’s hand. It is unclear in the video what Mr. Khater is firing, and prosecutors have alleged that Mr. Tanios brought two smaller canisters of pepper spray to the Capitol in addition to two cans of Frontiersman bear spray.

Officer Sicknick reacts immediately to the spray, turning and raising his hand.

The last time Officer Sicknick appears in the videos or the photographs, he is bent over by the scaffolding erected for President Biden’s upcoming inauguration.




Biden Extends Obamacare Enrollment Period to Aug. 15

President Biden said on Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, that Americans who need health insurance would have until Aug. 15 to sign up through

Eleven years ago today, President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act, a historic achievement that would not have been possible but for the vision and determination of one of the most successful presidents in recent American history, Barack Obama. If you enroll in Obamacare, you’re going to save an average of $50 a month, $600 a year by the reduction in payments. For millions who are out of work and have no coverage, thanks to this law, there’s an Obamacare plan that most folks can get with $0 premiums. We’re also making it easy, easier to sign up for Obamacare. We’ve opened for special enrollments on Feb. 15. In the first two weeks alone, more than 200,000 Americans gained coverage. Today, I’m pleased to announce we’ve extended that period to run through Aug. 15. With the American Rescue Plan, and the Affordable Care Act, millions of families will be able to sleep a little more soundly at night because they don’t have to worry about losing everything if they get sick.

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President Biden said on Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, that Americans who need health insurance would have until Aug. 15 to sign up through…Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Americans who need health insurance will now have even longer to select a health plan for the rest of the year. The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it would extend enrollment for Obamacare plans sold on until Aug. 15, from a May deadline.

The change was announced on the 11th anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act, the law that established the markets where individuals could buy their own health insurance, and made plans available to shoppers regardless of pre-existing health conditions, among many other provisions.

“We have a duty not just to protect it but to make it better and keep becoming a nation where health care is a right for all and not a privilege for a few,” President Biden said at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital at the Ohio State University on Tuesday.

The stimulus bill signed this month expanded subsidies that help people buy such coverage, lowering the price of a typical plan to zero dollars for low-income families and offering financial assistance for the first time to households higher on the income scale. But it is taking time for the Department of Health and Human Services to implement the new provisions, and so far it has decided not to make the changes automatic. That means that even people who currently get coverage on the exchanges will need to go back to request new benefits. The extended enrollment period will give them more time to do that.

“Every American deserves access to quality, affordable health care — especially as we fight back against the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Xavier Becerra, the secretary of health and human services. His statement encouraged uninsured Americans to sign up and current Obamacare customers to review new discounts.

The administration also announced that sign-ups for special subsidies for Americans who receive unemployment insurance this year will start July 1. Congress established a system for them to receive zero-premium health plans all year, but carrying out that provision quickly has proved complicated.

Enrollment in Affordable Care Act plans for most Americans is typically limited to a six-week period each year, as a means of encouraging people to enroll when they are healthy. But the Biden administration had already opened a second enrollment period this year, arguing that the pandemic and its economic effects presented an emergency that justified expanding options for coverage. The original special enrollment period had been set to expire in mid-May.

The changes apply in the 36 states that use the federal platform to manage their insurance marketplaces. But several states that run their own marketplaces have also extended their enrollment periods.

Mr. Biden, who wore a black mask throughout his speech in Ohio, said the extension would also benefit minority communities that “historically have gone without insurance at higher rates” and have been disproportionally impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Millions of families will be able to sleep a little more soundly at night,” the president said, “because they don’t have to worry about losing everything if they get sick.”

After one of the closest contests in American history, the House must now decide whether to unseat Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican.
Credit…Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen, via Associated Press

Congress has plunged once again into a red-hot dispute over the 2020 balloting, this time weighing whether to overturn the results of a House race in Iowa that could tilt the chamber’s narrow balance of power.

At issue is the outcome of November’s election in a southeastern Iowa district, where state officials declared Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican, the winner in one of the closest contests in American history. Ms. Miller-Meeks prevailed by only six votes out of nearly 400,000 cast in the state’s Second Congressional District; in January, she took the oath of office in Washington.

But her Democratic opponent, Rita Hart, has refused to concede the race, pointing to 22 discarded ballots she says would have made her the winner if counted. Now Democrats, who hold the majority in the House and spent months pushing back on President Donald J. Trump’s falsehoods about a stolen election — including his claim that Congress had the power to unilaterally overturn the results — are thrust into the uncomfortable role of arbiters of a contested race.

Ms. Hart has appealed to the House, including in a new filing on Monday, to step in to overrule the state and seat her instead, sending Ms. Miller-Meeks back to Iowa.

“This was not something I sought, believe me,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California and the chairwoman of the panel looking into the race.

Ms. Lofgren and other Democrats say they have little choice but to take the appeal seriously under a 1960s law Ms. Hart has invoked. In recent weeks, Ms. Lofgren’s panel, the House Administration Committee, has opened a full-scale review into the contest that lawmakers say could lead to impounding ballots, conducting their own hand recount and ultimately a vote by the full House to determine who should rightfully represent the Iowa district.

Reversing the result would give Democrats a crucial additional vote to pad one of the sparest majorities in decades. The House is currently divided 219 to 211, with five vacancies.

House Republicans — more than half of whom voted to overturn Mr. Biden’s win — are accusing Democrats of a screeching, 180-degree turn now that flipping an election result would be to their advantage.

“One hundred percent, pure partisan politics,” said Representative Rodney Davis of Illinois, the top Republican on the Administration Committee.


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Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, and Janet L. Yellen, the Treasury secretary, give virtual testimony on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act before the Senate Banking Committee.CreditCredit…Jessica Mcgowan/Getty Images

America’s top two economic officials told senators on Wednesday that the economy is healing but still in a deep hole, and that continued government support is providing a critical lifeline to families and businesses.

Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, and Janet L. Yellen, the Treasury Secretary and Mr. Powell’s immediate predecessor at the Fed, are testifying before the Senate Banking Committee. Their prepared comments echoed their testimony before House lawmakers on Tuesday.

Mr. Powell said in his remarks that the government averted the worst possible outcomes in the pandemic economic recession with its aggressive spending response and super-low Fed interest rates.

“But the recovery is far from complete, so, at the Fed, we will continue to provide the economy the support that it needs for as long as it takes,” he said.

Ms. Yellen, who pushed hard for the recently-passed $1.9 trillion relief package, said that responding to a crisis with a needed surge of temporary spending without paying for it was “appropriate.”

“Longer-run, we do have to raise revenue to support permanent spending that we want to do,” she said.

She said that expanded unemployment insurance, part of the recent relief package, does not seem to be discouraging work and is needed at a time when the labor market is not at full strength.

“While unemployment remains high, it’s important to provide the supplementary relief,” Ms. Yellen said, noting that the aid lasts until the fall. She said that as the economy recovers, the aid “should be phased out.”

The Biden administration is also making plans for a $3 trillion infrastructure package. The fact that the government is spending so much, and contemplating spending more, at a time when the economy is recovering has stoked concerns about inflation among some economists and lawmakers.

Some onlookers fear that the Fed, which has interest rates at rock-bottom and is buying bonds in big quantities to help the economy, might be too slow to react to higher prices.

“I do worry that the Fed may be behind the curve when inflation inevitably picks up,” Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican from Pennsylvania, said during his opening remarks.

But Mr. Powell has consistently pushed back on concerns about runaway inflation, and did so again on Wednesday.

“We think the inflation dynamics that we’ve seen around the world for a quarter-century are essentially intact — we’ve got a world that’s short of demand, with very low inflation,” Mr. Powell said. “We think those dynamics haven’t gone away overnight, and won’t.”

Asked specifically about potential supply and demand mismatches — particularly in the context of a ship that had gotten stuck in the Suez Canal, but also in general as the economy reopens — he struck a similarly unconcerned tone.

“A bottleneck, by definition, is temporary,” he said.

He also batted back concerns about a recent increase in market-based interest rates. The yield on 10-year Treasury notes, a closely watched government bond, has moved up since the start of the year.

“Rates have responded to news about vaccination, and ultimately, about growth,” Mr. Powell said. “That has been an orderly process. I would be concerned if it were not an orderly process, or if conditions were to tighten to a point where they might threaten our recovery.”

Teaching a science class via Zoom last year in Durham, N.C. A year into the pandemic, America’s school system remains severely disrupted.
Credit…Pete Kiehart for The New York Times

Under President Donald J. Trump, the federal government did little to gauge the impact of the pandemic on the nation’s education system. President Biden promised to change that, and on Wednesday, his Department of Education released the first federal survey of how American public schools have operated amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The results paint a picture of a school system that remained severely disrupted as the pandemic neared its first anniversary.

It found that in January of this year, three-quarters of school buildings were open at least partially for in-person learning in the fourth and eighth grades, the two grade levels examined by the survey. Nevertheless, 43 percent of fourth graders and 48 percent of eighth graders were learning fully remotely. Only 28 percent of eighth graders and 38 percent of fourth graders were attending full-time, in-person school; the rest were on hybrid schedules, receiving a mixture of in-person and virtual instruction.

Racial disparities were stark. The majority of Black, Hispanic and Asian-American fourth graders were learning fully remotely, compared to only a quarter of white fourth graders. About half the white fourth graders were in full-time, traditional school.

Children with disabilities were only slightly more likely to be learning in-person than others, despite schools reporting that they had prioritized this population for classroom time.

“It’s sobering,” said Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a research group that has spent the past year gathering its own, widely cited data on how school districts are functioning. “The data point us to the strong likelihood that the effects from lack of live instruction will add up to significant challenges for kids.”

In line with previous research, the survey found that urban schools, which serve large numbers of nonwhite students, were less likely to offer full-time, in-person schedules. But there is also evidence that significant numbers of nonwhite parents are opting for remote learning even when other options are available, in part because they are more concerned about the health risks of returning their children to school buildings.

The quality of remote learning varied widely, according to the federal survey. More than 1 in 10 students were offered less than two hours per day of live instruction from teachers. In some states, such as Oklahoma and Idaho, only a small percentage of remote learners received more than two hours of live teaching daily.

The survey is based on a representative sample of schools, and will be updated monthly throughout the academic year. Future surveys will look at additional grade levels.

Dr. Vivek Murthy will return as surgeon general at a critical moment, as the president tries to steer the nation out of the worst public health crisis in a century.
Credit…Pool photo by Caroline Brehman

Dr. Vivek Murthy, who helped found several health-related advocacy groups and later tackled the opioid epidemic and e-cigarettes as surgeon general during the Obama administration, was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday to reprise that role for President Biden.

The vote, 57 to 43, was a much smoother ride for Dr. Murthy than the first time he was confirmed, in 2014, when Republicans cast him as a politically connected supporter of President Barack Obama who would use his position to push for stricter gun control. The fight dragged on for months, leaving the country without a top doctor for more than a year.

When President Donald J. Trump was elected, Dr. Murthy was asked to resign. He refused and was fired, his wife, Alice Chen, said at the time.

Dr. Murthy will return as surgeon general at a critical moment, as the president tries to steer the nation out of the worst public health crisis in a century while expanding access to health care for millions of Americans. During his confirmation hearing, he told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that he would make ending the coronavirus pandemic his highest priority.

Dr. Murthy, 43, helped found Doctors for Obama, a group that worked to elect Mr. Obama and now works to expand health care access for Americans. It now goes by Doctors for America.

As an undergraduate at Harvard University, he helped found two nonprofits, one focusing on H.I.V./AIDS education in the United States and India, and the other to train women as community health workers in rural India.

A son of Indian immigrants and the first person of Indian descent to hold the surgeon general’s post, Dr. Murthy, 43, was born in England and grew up mostly in Miami, watching his parents in their own medical practice. He invoked them during his confirmation hearing.

“I have tried,” Dr. Murthy said, “to live by the lessons they embodied: that we have an obligation to help each other whenever we can, to alleviate suffering wherever we find it, and to give back to this country that made their lives and my life and the lives of my children possible.”

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Trump to suspend immigration due to ‘invisible enemy’

Washington: President Donald Trump says he will be signing an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States.

“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States”, Trump said in a tweet late on Monday.

Trump has previously called the coronavirus the “invisible enemy”.

Donald Trump recently announced that his “authority is total” in dealing with the pandemic. Credit:AP

White House officials have said that Trump could sign an executive order as soon as Tuesday. This would suspend nearly all immigration under the rationale of preventing the spread of infection by foreigners. It is thought to be a temporary ban, and it is not known what exemptions might be allowed.

Trump has taken credit for his restrictions on travel to the US from China and hard-hit European countries, arguing it contributed to slowing the spread of the virus in the US. But he has yet to extend those restrictions to other nations now experiencing virus outbreaks.

“It makes sense to protect opportunities for our workforce while this pandemic plays out,” said Thomas Homan, Trump’s former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “It’s really not about immigration. It’s about the pandemic and keeping our country safer while protecting opportunities for unemployed Americans.”

The United States in mid-March suspended all routine visa services, both immigrant and non-immigrant, in most countries worldwide due to the coronavirus outbreak in a move that has potentially impacted hundreds of thousands of people.

U.S. missions have continued to provide emergency visa services as resources allowed and a senior State Department official in late March said U.S. was ready work with people who were already identified as being eligible for various types of visas, including one for medical professionals.

The administration recently announced an easing of rules to allow in more agricultural workers on temporary H2A visas to help farmers with their crops.

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Trans-Tasman spat erupts after Peter Dutton refers to immigration deportees as ‘trash’

New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister says Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has “trashed” his reputation by referring to the deportation of people who have served more than 12 months in Australian jails to New Zealand as “taking the trash out”.

Mr Dutton made the remark in a Channel Nine news segment that aired on Monday, in which reporters were given access to individuals being deported from Australia to New Zealand on character grounds.

In the report, Mr Dutton described the process of deporting what he described as “the most serious offenders” as “taking the trash out”.

“It’s taking the trash out. Then we can make Australia a safer place,” he said during the segment.

“We’re talking about the most serious offenders here and our country is safer for having deported them.”

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta​ said Mr Dutton’s comment “only serves to trash his own reputation”. 

“They should reflect on how they portray the transfer of people back to New Zealand, but again, Dutton’s comments only serve to trash his own reputation,” she said.

The Australian Border Force, the agency responsible for deportations, had allowed a Channel Nine crew access to film a flight of deportees being returned to New Zealand.   

Under current Australian laws, visa holders who are sentenced to at least 12 months in jail face mandatory deportation. For New Zealand citizens who have spent the majority of their lives in Australia, however, the practice can see them returned to a country they have little connection to.

The New Zealand government has repeatedly criticised Australia for deporting New Zealand citizens after they complete their jail terms in Australia, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern accusing Australia of deporting their problems.

Ms Ardern was pressed on Mr Dutton’s comments on Thursday, but said New Zealand would not get into a “tit-for-tat” over the dispute.

“Everyone is aware of our view on this and it is strongly held. The Australian government is within their rights, it just so happens we strongly disagree,” she told reporters.

“We’re not going to get into a tit-for-tat over it I don’t think that takes us anywhere.

”We’ve actually been totally consistent, the Australian leadership are actually very aware of our view on it and look it hasn’t changed … we will continue to raise [the issue], as long as it exists.”

Ms Ardern has consistently criticised the federal government’s deporting of Kiwi criminals, claiming that under a “common sense test” many of them would be considered Australian.

“If there is an issue you consider unjust you don’t just give up on it – we will continue to raise it as long as it exists,” she said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.


Meanwhile, the country’s COVID-19 Response Minister, Chris Hipkins, was forced to backtrack on Thursday after using a similar analogy to Mr Dutton when referring to the deportees.

“This is Australia exporting its garbage to New Zealand. Their criminal offending has been in Australia,” he told reporters, before adding: “I don’t necessarily completely agree with that sentiment, but if that is Peter Dutton’s view, it is his view … probably should have chosen a better frame of words.”

He continued to say he did “not mean to suggest” the deportees were garbage, but that he was using Mr Dutton’s words.

Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi also took issue with Mr Dutton’s description of the deportees, noting that the “majority of those people are Māori”.

“Here’s the problem: that is indicative of the system that our people are currently working in or living in. So you are calling them trash,” he said, according to News Hub.

“They are then brought into our prison system where they are treated like trash.”

Chris Hipkins was forced to backtrack on Thursday after using a similar analogy to Peter Dutton when referring to the deportees.

Chris Hipkins was forced to backtrack on Thursday after using a similar analogy to Peter Dutton when referring to the deportees.


During the Nine interview, Mr Dutton said Australia had deported more than 700 people from immigration detention over the past 12 months. More than 2,600 Kiwis were sent home between December 2014 and January 2020.

New Zealand criticised Australia’s decision to resume deportations on chartered flights in July last year after they were paused during the coronavirus pandemic.

At the time, Filipa Payne, co-founder of Iwi n Aus, an advocacy group for New Zealanders in Australia, said while many immigration detainees were relieved to be let out of immigration detention, many were also leaving behind families and children in Australia.

“It’s very challenging for them,” she said, adding that many of the returned New Zealanders faced homelessness and isolation on their return.

The Australian government has repeatedly defended its policy, which applies to foreign citizens of all countries.

“We deport non-citizens who have committed crimes in Australia against our community,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said last year.

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Detainees released from immigration detention speak about their dreams for the future

He arrived in Australia by boat in 2013 after fleeing political persecution in his home country of Iran.

On Tuesday, Mr Obeiszadeh experienced freedom in Australia for the first time after being released from a hotel at Kangaroo Point in inner-city Brisbane.

He is one of approximately 70 detainees Australia-wide expected to be released this week — all of whom were detained after being evacuated from Nauru and Manus Island for medical treatment.

For the next three weeks, Mr Obeiszadeh will live and be supported in student accommodation at South Bank in Brisbane with other released detainees.

“To be honest, I am a bit confused about being outside because it was a long time to be in the detention centre and I haven’t gotten used to this,” he said.

“It is a very happy moment for me also — I had this feeling that if there is security, he will call me and stop me going outside — it happened all the time in the detention centre.”

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DHS chief defends Biden admin on immigration, says Trump ‘gutted’ system

Mayorkas urged patience while they rebuild the system “virtually from scratch.”

“I learned that we did not have the facilities available or equipped to administer the humanitarian laws that our Congress passed years ago,” Mayorkas said in his first appearance at a White House briefing. “We did not have the personnel policies, procedures for training to administer those laws. Quite frankly, the entire system was gutted.”

Trump’s immigration approach largely focused on hardline enforcement and security measures including the appropriation of billions of dollars for a border wall, which Biden stopped.

“What we are seeing now at the border is the immediate result of the dismantlement of the system and the time that it takes to rebuild it virtually from scratch,” Mayorkas said. “We have, though, already begun.”

The Trump administration also took on a policy called “zero-tolerance” which resulted in the separation of thousands of migrant parents from their children. Hundreds remain separated to date and — among his first actions on immigration — Biden created a task force chaired by Mayorkas to reunite the separated families.

“We will explore lawful pathways for them to remain in the United States, and to address the family needs so we are acting as restoratively as possible,” Mayorkas said.

Despite what he called these “challenges,” he insisted the U.S. was not in the midst of a “crisis” at the southern border.

The number of arrests made each month at the border has been increasing since April 2020, which has posed a central challenge for the Biden administration as it works to roll back many of the Trump-era enforcement measures.

“We need individuals to wait,” Mayorkas said. “And I will say that they will wait with a goal in mind. And that is our ability to rebuild as quickly as possible a system so that they don’t have to take the dangerous journey, and we can enable them to access humanitarian relief from their countries of origin.”

Mayorkas insisted that the new administration is not treating migrants the same as the Trump administration.

However, Biden has yet to revoke Trump-era protocols brought down after the pandemic began to turn away or “expel” the vast majority of migrants at the border. This use of this section of public health code known as “Title 42” has been condemned by human rights observers as immigrant advocates for the limits it places on access to legal avenues for obtaining asylum status.

Dozens of advocacy organizations wrote to the Biden administration earlier this month calling for a swift end to the use of “Title 42,” claiming the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had been pressured by Trump’s immigration hawks into issuing the order.

Mayorkas rejected the comparison to the Trump administration’s policies, noting that, under Biden, authorities at the border are not “expelling” unaccompanied children.

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Go big or go home – Donald Trump thrived by painting Democrats as soft on immigration | United States

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Biden’s Immigration Opportunity – WSJ

Partisans on both sides during the Trump Presidency used immigration to bludgeon each other, but President Biden has a fresh opening for bipartisan cooperation. Now we’ll find out if Democrats want to reform immigration or keep using it as a political cudgel.

Mr. Biden made an opening offer Thursday with a bill by New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and California Rep. Linda Sanchez. The bill is dead on arrival in Congress since it doesn’t improve border security and provides more or less blanket legalization to the country’s 11 million or so undocumented immigrants. “We must not start with concessions out of the gate. We are not going to start with two million undocumented people instead of 11 million,” Mr. Menendez said. “We will never win an argument that we don’t have the courage to make.”

GOP restrictionists during the Trump Presidency also introduced immigration bills that were essentially political statements. They went nowhere. The lesson for Democrats is they won’t win an argument in Congress or the public without making concessions to the other party and immigration realities.


Start with the bill’s eight-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and three years for some farm workers and young adults who were brought to the country illegally as children. No matter what restrictionists say, most of these folks will never be deported. Many have been here for decades and contribute significantly to the economy.

The young adults known as Dreamers are particularly sympathetic since they didn’t knowingly break immigration laws and live in legal limbo. Barack Obama granted them temporary legal status and work permits. As we’ve argued, he didn’t have the legal authority to do so since the Constitution grants Congress power to regulate immigration. But Congress also has a moral imperative to grant a reprieve after the government invited them to come out of the shadows.

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Tamil family to stay on Christmas Island after Federal Court upholds previous ruling over youngest child’s immigration status

Lawyers for the family are now calling on the Federal Government to immediately release the family from detention.

Priya and Nades Murugappan and their Australian-born daughters Kopika, 5, and Tharunicaa, 3, had been living in Biloela in central Queensland, but in 2018 immigration officials transferred them to a Melbourne detention centre.

They remain in detention on Christmas Island off Western Australia after a last-minute injunction on an attempt to deport them to Sri Lanka.

Last year, the Federal Court ruled Tharunicaa was denied “procedural fairness” in an assessment by the Federal Government and ordered the Commonwealth to pay legal costs of more than $200,000.

The Federal Government appealed to the full bench of the Federal Court, and on Tuesday the court ruled that Justice Mark Mochinsky’s original ruling stands.

A separate appeal brought by the family was also rejected.

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Biden on Immigration and Covid-19 Stimulus, Trump Impeachment: Live Updates

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Former President Donald J. Trump will offer his first formal impeachment defense on Tuesday, when his legal team is scheduled to deliver to the Senate a written answer to the House’s charge that he incited a deadly insurrection last month when a mob of his supporters assaulted the Capitol.

The former president is all but certain to wave off the bipartisan charge as illegitimate, but the exact shape of his defense remains to be seen after a last-minute shake-up of his legal team. While Mr. Trump is said to have wanted the trial to include a full defense of his bogus election fraud claims that helped ignite the attack, his advisers and Republican senators are pushing a less inflammatory argument that trying a former president is simply unconstitutional.

The filing is scheduled to arrive alongside a lengthier written brief from the House impeachment managers preparing to prosecute Mr. Trump for “incitement of insurrection” that outlines their own theory of the case. Taken together, the two documents should provide the clearest preview yet of how Mr. Trump’s second impeachment trial will play out when it begins in one week.

Though Republican senators appear to be lining up to once again to acquit Mr. Trump, the arguments could determine the difference between a near-party-line verdict like the one that capped the former president’s first trial or a bipartisan rebuke.

Few facts in the case are in serious dispute. TV news broadcasts carried live video on Jan. 6 of Mr. Trump encouraging thousands of his supporters outside the White House to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell” to overturn the election by confronting lawmakers who were meeting there with Vice President Mike Pence to formalize his loss. Rioters dressed in Trump garb and chanting “hang Pence” violently clashed with the police and ransacked the Capitol, sending lawmakers and the vice president fleeing.

The House managers, led by Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, plan to vividly highlight that course of events in their pretrial brief. They will argue that the Jan. 6 assault was the climax of a monthslong campaign by Mr. Trump to sow doubts about the election, spread false claims that he won and then finally use Congress to try to overturn President Biden’s victory.

People familiar with the prosecution said the filing would also include a detailed argument that the framers of the Constitution intended impeachment to apply to officials who had committed offenses while in office.

Mr. Trump sharply criticized the impeachment push in the waning days of his presidency and argued that the remarks he gave on Jan. 6 to thousands of supporters he summoned to Washington were “totally appropriate.” The House moved within a week of the riot to impeach him.

His lawyers, Bruce L. Castor Jr. and David Schoen, will have to walk a fine line to placate both Mr. Trump and Republican senators, many of whom have disavowed Mr. Trump’s false claims to have won the election and criticized his actions on Jan. 6.

Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, warned the president’s team on Monday to steer away from rehashing his grievances and debunked theories about election fraud. Better, he said, to focus on rebutting the particulars of the House’s charge.

“It’s really not material,” Mr. Cornyn told reporters in the Capitol. “As much as there might be a temptation to bring in other matters, I think it would be a disservice to the president’s own defense to get bogged down in things that really aren’t before the Senate.”

President Joe Biden returning to the White House after visiting injured service members at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on Friday.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President Biden plans to sign three executive orders on Tuesday aimed at further rolling back his predecessor’s assault on immigration.

In one order, the president will direct the secretary of homeland security to lead a task force that will try to reunite several hundred families that remain separated under former President Donald J. Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, which sought to discourage migration across the country’s southern border. More than 5,000 families were separated.

The Senate is expected to confirm Mr. Biden’s nominee to run the Homeland Security Department, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, on Tuesday.

Under Mr. Biden’s order, the federal government will seek to either bring parents to the United States or return children to parents who are living abroad, depending on the wishes of the families and the specifics of immigration law.

In two other orders, Mr. Biden will authorize a review of Mr. Trump’s immigration policies that limited asylum, stopped funding to foreign countries, made it more difficult to get green cards or be naturalized, and slowed down legal immigration into the United States

Mr. Biden is to formally announce the three orders on Tuesday afternoon at the White House. They help satisfy some of his campaign promises but underscore the difficulty the new president faces in unraveling scores of individual policies and regulations.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky had strong words about Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia.
Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

Senator Mitch McConnell said on Monday that the “loony lies and conspiracy theories” embraced by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene amounted to a “cancer” on the Republican Party, issuing what in effect was a scathing rebuke to the freshman House Republican from Georgia.

In a statement reported earlier by The Hill, Mr. McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, never named Ms. Greene, but he referred to several of the outlandish and false conspiracy theories she has espoused and warned that such statements were damaging the party.

“Loony lies and conspiracy theories are cancer for the Republican Party and our country,” Mr. McConnell said. “Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed J.F.K. Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality. This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.”

House Republican leaders in the past week have been mostly silent as pressure mounted to respond to the cascade of Ms. Greene’s problematic social media posts and videos that have surfaced in the past week, in which she endorsed a seemingly endless array of conspiracy theories and violent behavior, including executing Democratic leaders.

Mr. McConnell’s comments intensified pressure on Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, who is to meet with Ms. Greene later this week amid calls from outside Republican groups and some members of his own party to revoke the Georgia freshman’s committee assignments.

Ms. Greene offered her own retort in response to Mr. McConnell on Twitter, saying “the real cancer” on the party was “weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully.”

As Republicans splinter over how to deal with Ms. Greene, Democrats are seizing on the infighting to make her the avatar for an array of G.O.P. lawmakers.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Tuesday began a $500,000 advertising campaign on television and online tying eight House Republicans, including Mr. McCarthy to Ms. Greene and QAnon, an effort to force them to make a public affirmation about Ms. Greene.

“Congressman Don Bacon,” an ominous-sounding voice intones in the ad targeting the Nebraska Republican, “he stood with Q, not you.”

The strategy is similar to the one Republicans employed against Democrats last summer during the protests over racial injustice, when they sought to paint all Democrats as in favor of defunding the police, including President Biden, who repeatedly said he did not favor it.

Democrats in Washington have adopted Ms. Greene as the symbol of the post-Trump Republican Party, aiming to elevate her profile as part of an effort to divide the G.O.P. while seeking to force Republicans to vote on whether to allow her to remain on House committees. On Saturday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s press office issued a news release under the headline “Minority Leader McCarthy (̶G̶O̶P̶)̶ (QAnon) Embraces Marjorie Taylor Greene.”

House Democrats on Monday indicated that they were prepared to unilaterally remove Ms. Greene from her committees if Mr. McCarthy does not act, advancing a measure to strip her of assignments that will be considered by the House Rules Committee on Wednesday.

Protestors surrounded the Capitol as they breached the doors on Jan. 6.
Credit…Jason Andrew for The New York Times

Nearly a dozen people who the authorities said made politically motivated threats by social media or phone have been charged with federal crimes — most of them were nowhere near Washington on the day of the Jan. 6 riot.

In recent weeks, law enforcement has arrested a Proud Boys supporter in New York accused of posting violent threats on the social media network Parler; a Colorado man charged with sending a text about “putting a bullet” in Speaker Nancy Pelosi; and a man near Chicago implicated in a voice mail message about killing Democrats on Inauguration Day.

Even though they were not physically present during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, they have become part of its sprawling fallout, as investigators scour the country to track down hundreds of rioters and examine whether right-wing extremist groups were involved in organizing the attack.

Law enforcement agencies have long struggled to decipher whether online statements could lead to real danger, wary of bringing cases hinged largely on speech that could be protected by the First Amendment. But the volume of tips about threats has skyrocketed since the Capitol assault, compelling some officials to decide not to wait to see if violent language developed into action.

When law enforcement officials are concerned about a violent social media threat that has not led to any real-world action, that person will often get a knock on the door from the F.B.I. with a warning. But former officials have called the Capitol riot a “9/11 moment” for domestic violent extremism, a catalyzing event that has pushed local and federal resources around the country to focus on one top priority, with a much lower tolerance to wait and see if threats materialize.

Brian Miller was sworn in as Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery during a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee nomination hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington in May. 
Credit…Pool photo by Alex Wong

The Biden administration has moved aggressively to undo former President Donald J. Trump’s policies and dislodge his loyalists from positions on boards and civil-service jobs, but it has hesitated on a related choice: whether to remove two inspectors general appointed by Mr. Trump under a storm of partisan controversy.

At issue is whether the new administration will keep Eric Soskin, who was confirmed as the Transportation Department’s inspector general in December, and Brian D. Miller, a former Trump White House lawyer who was named earlier in 2020 to hunt for abuses in pandemic spending.

Both were confirmed over intense Democratic opposition after Mr. Trump fired or demoted a number of inspectors general last year, saying he had been treated “very unfairly” by them.

By ousting or sidelining inspectors general who were seen as investigating his administration aggressively, Mr. Trump undercut a longstanding tradition that presidents refrain from firing inspectors general without cause.

Mr. Trump also named inspectors general who were overwhelmingly opposed by Democrats — breaking with another tradition that nearly all inspectors general since Congress created the independent anti-corruption watchdog positions in 1978 were confirmed unanimously or by voice vote without recorded opposition.

The Biden team wants to repair what it sees as damage to the government wrought by Mr. Trump through his many violations of norms. It also wants to restore and reinforce those norms, according to people briefed on its internal deliberations about inspectors general dating back to the campaign and transition.

“It’s very possible — and it would be a real mistake — for the Biden people to remove those I.G.’s because they were appointed by Trump,” said Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a government watchdog group.

Ms. Brian was one of the few outside observers to call attention to a little-noticed push by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, then the majority leader, to get Mr. Soskin confirmed as the Transportation Department inspector general. The 48-to-47 vote to confirm Mr. Soskin made him the first such official to take office on a purely party-line clash.

The office Mr. Soskin now controls has been investigating whether Mr. Trump’s Transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, improperly steered grants to Kentucky as her husband, Mr. McConnell, was seeking re-election there. During the lame-duck session, Mr. McConnell used his power to prioritize getting Mr. Soskin confirmed over four other inspector general nominees who had been waiting for floor votes longer, raising the question of why he was trying to ensure that a Republican appointee would control that post even after Mr. Biden took office.

Earlier in the year, only one Democrat voted to confirm Mr. Miller, who had worked in the Trump White House. Others rejected him on the grounds that he was seen as too close to the Trump administration to aggressively hunt for waste or fraud in pandemic spending during an election year.

The Biden team appears not to have reached any decision about what, if anything, to do about Mr. Soskin and Mr. Miller.

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