Camila Dechalus

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

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

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.

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 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 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.

Appeals court lifts block of funding for border wall

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.

‘Dreamers,’ Democrats push for DACA
While Dreamers await Supreme Court decision, Democrats push Senate leadership to pass DACA bill

Waving American flags and holding up signs that read “Defend DACA” and “Make SCOTUS great again,” hundreds of young immigrants, activists and their supporters demonstrated Tuesday outside the Supreme Court steps as justices inside heard arguments regarding the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Just a few blocks away at the Capitol, meanwhile, congressional Democrats urged Senate leadership to take up House-passed legislation that would ensure protections for this population.

Immigrant ‘Dreamers’ look to Supreme Court, Congress for help
Supreme Court considers DACA cases

Samuel Cervantes can’t ever imagine returning to Mexico. He hasn’t been back since his family moved to Houston when he was 5. He now fears being deported if the federal government ends the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

He also fears for his life if forced to return to a country he barely even remembers. 

Outgoing DHS chief McAleenan will stay on 'if necessary'
No successor formally tapped a day before McAleenan set to step down from role

A day before he was set to step down as acting Homeland Security secretary, Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday that he would stay on the job “if necessary” since the White House has yet to tap his successor.

“I said in my resignation letter to the president that I would ensure a smooth transition and that remains my position. I want to make sure that it happens for the department,” he told lawmakers during a House Homeland Security Committee meeting.

McAleenan out at Homeland Security, Trump says
Trump to name new acting secretary next week

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan is leaving his job, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter.

“We have worked well together with Border Crossings being way down. Kevin now, after many years in Government, wants to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector,” Trump wrote.

More non-Spanish speaking migrants are crossing the border
The crisis at the southern border is becoming a global one, officials say

EL PASO, Texas — When a 6-year-old Indian migrant girl named Gurupreet Kaur was found dead in the Arizona desert by Border Patrol agents in June, the tragedy surprised many — mostly because of where the girl was from.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center.]

‘Metered’ immigrants face long waits at the border
The informal policy can serve as a delaying mechanism, keeping migrants in Mexico before they can legally claim asylum at the border

Besides the Migrant Protection Protocols program, U.S. border agencies have a less formal process to regulate the flow of asylum seekers seeking to cross the U.S.-Mexico border called “metering.”

Under this informal policy, Customs and Border Protection determines each day how many people it can process at each port of entry.

DHS advances plan to get DNA samples from immigrant detainees
Immigration advocates worry about long-term privacy implications of proposal

Immigration advocates sounded alarm over the Department of Homeland Security’s new proposed rule to collect DNA samples from migrants in government custody, expressing grave concern over long-term privacy implications.

“The government doesn’t have a very good track record of collecting and protecting the genetic material of marginalized populations, including foreign nationals and black and brown people,” Andrew Free, a Nashville-based immigration and civil rights lawyer, told CQ Roll Call. “In the absence of a limiting principle, I just really worry about the abuses.”

White House plans to cut refugee admittance to all-time low

The Trump administration announced on Thursday plans to slash its refugee admittance program by almost half next year, the lowest cap since the refugee system was created in 1980.

The White House said it would admit no more than 18,000 refugees for the next fiscal year, a drop from its current limit of 30,000 and a plunge from the 110,000 admitted in 2016 under President Barack Obama’s final year in office.

Divided House Democrats punt border bill until after recess
‘We want to make sure we do what we’re going to do right,’ Hoyer says

Disagreement in the House Democratic Caucus finally derailed a bill that would have provided more oversight over border agencies coping with an influx of asylum seekers from Central America.

“We want to make sure we do what we’re going to do right,” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer told reporters Thursday afternoon. “There are a number of things that need to be dealt with on the policy. … I think we need to do that in a thoughtful way.”

Trump’s new asylum rule left dead in the water after court decisions
The Supreme Court may ultimately have to decide the issue

Two contradictory federal court decisions, both on the same day, have disrupted President Donald Trump’s latest attempt to tighten asylum laws, and the Supreme Court may ultimately have to decide the issue.

A federal judge in California late Wednesday temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s new rule that requires asylum seekers transiting a third country to request protections there first before applying for asylum in the United States.

Behind the scenes of covering headline committee hearings
Undercover Capitol: taking you inside the historic workplace — one video at a time

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III will testify before two House committees on Wednesday, an event that will no doubt get wall-to-wall coverage from the news media, despite the fact the Mueller is unlikely to actually say anything new.

Democrats denounce immigration raids slated for weekend
‘We pray that the president will think about this again,’ Pelosi says

Democrats and advocacy groups are raising concerns over the latest reports that the Trump administration is planning to ramp up its enforcement efforts and conduct immigration raids across the country on Sunday.

“We pray that the president will think about this again,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday.

House Judiciary to vote on subpoenas on family separation order
Chair Jerrold Nadler said 12 individuals would be issued subpoenas including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump’s son-in-law Jared C. Kushner

The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled for Thursday a vote on a resolution that would authorize the issuing of subpoenas to current and former White House officials who participated in the 2018 decisions over the “zero tolerance” policy, which resulted in the separation of more than 2,500 children from their migrant parents at the southern border.

The resolution would authorize subpoenas for documents and testimony from current and former administration officials relating to the family separation policy, other separating policies and the detention of children and families.

Senate approves border bill; Pelosi and Trump talk compromise

Updated 10:35 p.m. | With the Senate’s passage of its version of a border supplemental funding bill Wednesday, and its rejection of the House measure, negotiations between the White House, Senate and House leaders will now attempt to nail down a compromise before Congress leaves for the July Fourth recess.

Several disagreements lie at the heart of Senate and House differences on the two bills. The Senate bill rejected some of the tight restrictions the House included in its measure on the care of migrant children in government custody. The Senate also added in more money than the House for border enforcement agencies and for more immigration judges.

Lindsey Graham confronted with the ghosts of the ‘gang of 8’
“We would have a very different situation” had that bill passed, acting DHS secretary says

If Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham is looking for strategies on moving his immigration overhaul legislation, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan presented one possible path: Graham’s old work with the “gang of eight” that produced a bill the Senate passed in 2013 with a veto-proof majority. 

At a hearing Tuesday before Graham’s panel, McAleenan said the current border situation now wouldn’t be as bad if the bipartisan gang of eight compromise of 2013 — which passed the Democratic Senate 68-32 but was never taken up by the Republican House — had become law.