immigration

Trump touts more than 100 miles of new border wall during State of Union
But all but one mile of it simply replaces old, existing barriers

A section of the border wall stretches through the Rio Grande Valley sector of the Texas border on Aug. 20, 2019. (Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump boasted during his State of the Union address that his administration has built more than 100 miles of barriers along the southwest border. The latest government data, however, shows that only one new mile of barrier has been constructed where none previously existed.

During his address Tuesday night to Congress, the president referred to ongoing construction of “a long, tall and very powerful wall” that echoed promises from his 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump State of the Union guests highlight reelection messaging
Taxes, immigration, abortion among issues expected on campaign trail

Vice President Mike Pence claps while Speaker Nancy Pelosi rips up a copy of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address after his remarks to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The guest lists for the 2020 State of the Union underscored both the messages for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and the way in which congressional Democrats will be on offense against him and his GOP supporters on Capitol Hill.

From an appeal to his base through a typical hard line on immigration and Iran to a broader audience through talk of the benefits of 2017 Republican-led tax cuts and the state of the economy, the president’s guests set up a series of bullet points for the speech-writing team behind the teleprompter text.

Trump administration adds travel restrictions to six countries
Restrictions expanded to Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania

Passage of the original travel ban prompted protests like this one at Dulles International Airport on  Jan. 29, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration announced it will place travel restrictions on six additional countries, expanding a policy that has severely prohibited travel from targeted nations.

President Donald Trump signed a new proclamation Friday suspending immigrant visas for Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria. The remaining two countries, Sudan and Tanzania, will be barred from participating in the diversity visa lottery, which randomly allocates 50,000 green cards each year to countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

U.S. border officers ordered to vet Iranian American travelers, memo shows
Jayapal seeks Customs and Border Patrol meeting over agency's 'leaked' directive

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., called the practice of targeting U.S. citizens and residents at the border "absolutely unacceptable." (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal said Thursday that her office was working to confirm what appears to be a Customs and Border Protection directive to field officers asking for additional scrutiny of Iranians, Palestinians and Lebanese at the U.S. border. 

“This document, if verified as coming from the Seattle CBP Field Office, matches exactly the process described by CBP leadership in a briefing last week, our own sources inside CBP, and the credible and powerful accounts from travelers who faced extreme profiling at the U.S.-Canada border,” the Democratic lawmaker said in a statement that linked to a local paper in Washington state that published the directive. 

Supreme Court allows Trump's ‘public charge’ rule to proceed
The 5-4 ruling would deny green cards to immigrants who use federal aid programs

The "public charge" rule was originally issued last August by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under Ken Cuccinelli, the agency's acting director. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Trump administration can implement its divisive “public charge” rule, which seeks to withhold citizenship from immigrants the government deems likely to rely on public benefits like Medicaid and Section 8 housing. 

In the 5-4 vote, conservative-leaning justices voted to grant the administration its request to stay a lower court injunction on the rule while the merits of the case continue to be debated in the lower courts. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen G. Breyer voted against the stay. 

Trump administration restricts U.S. travel for pregnant foreigners
A new State Department rule targets 'birth tourism,' White House says

The rule issued by the State Department goes into effect Friday. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The State Department issued a new rule Thursday that will make it more difficult for pregnant women abroad to obtain visas to the United States, an attempt to curb what the White House is calling "birth tourism."

The department will grant visa officers more discretion to deny nonimmigrant visas to women they believe are entering the United States specifically to obtain citizenship for their child by giving birth here, a State Department spokesperson told reporters during a background briefing.

Green card gridlock: When will Congress agree on a solution?
The waiting lists for residency status grow ... and grow.

Hundreds of thousands of people may find themselves waiting for decades in green card limbo. (CQ Roll Call)

On Dec. 18, immigration reform stalwart Richard J. Durbin’s announcement on the Senate floor about a rare bipartisan breakthrough flew largely under the radar, overshadowed in the chaotic flurry of impeachment. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah had dueled two months earlier over unanimous consent requests on the Senate floor, and had since been deadlocked.

Each had pushed for his own solution to an important but often overlooked symptom of the broken U.S. immigration system: the employment-based green card backlog. Because of it, hundreds of thousands of people — overwhelmingly from India — wait in limbo, sometimes for decades.

More votes to terminate Trump's border emergency in the works
Lawmakers can vote again starting Feb. 15, 2020 to terminate the emergency declaration

A section of the border wall stretches through the Rio Grande Valley sector of the Texas border on Aug. 20, 2019. (Photo by Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call)

Top Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, said Wednesday that they intended to force another vote on termination of the national emergency that President Donald Trump has used to boost border wall spending.

"Bipartisan majorities in Congress have repeatedly rejected diverting money from critical military construction projects to build a single additional mile of border wall. Robbing the Defense Department of these much-needed funds in order to boost his own ego and for a wall he promised Mexico would pay to build is an insult to the sacrifices made by our service members," Schumer said in a joint statement with Appropriations ranking member Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Armed Services ranking member Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico.

Appeals court lifts block of funding for border wall

A section of the border wall stretches through the Rio Grande Valley sector of the Texas border on Aug. 20, 2019. (Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call)

A U.S. appeals court has issued a stay on a lower court ruling that had blocked the Trump administration from reallocating $3.6 billion in federal military funds to construct a wall along the nation’s border with Mexico.

In a 2-1 decision late Wednesday, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals placed a temporarily halt on a Dec. 10 ruling by a federal judge in El Paso, Texas, that barred the transfer.

Customs and Border Protection denies targeting Iranian Americans at border
But Rep. Jayapal, others skeptical after hearing stories about hours-long detentions

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., cast doubt over CBP statements related to Iranian-Americans who said they were held at the U.S.-Canada border. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Customs and Border Protection has denied targeting American citizens and permanent residents of Iranian descent for additional scrutiny at U.S. ports of entry, but a Washington lawmaker who heard multiple accounts of such detentions happening in her district expressed skepticism of the claims.

“It appears that that was a result of some sort of directive,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said at a press conference Monday at her Seattle office. “The discrimination that we seem to be once against veering towards has a deep-rooted history.”