Tanvi Misra

Homeland Security announces easing of facial recognition rule
Lawmakers, civil rights groups and tech companies have raised privacy concerns

Homeland Security officials continue to step back from their published plan to require use of facial recognition technology on American citizens at U.S. airports when they arrive from or depart to international destinations.

The Trump administration’s proposed mandatory use of the technology was included in the so-called unified agenda, published in late November, which sets out the regulatory changes agencies intend to pursue in coming months. The proposal sought to expand mandatory facial recognition at U.S. airports “to provide that all travelers, including U.S. citizens, may be required to be photographed upon entry and/or departure.”

IG: DHS knew it couldn’t track migrant kids separated at border
The findings further illuminate the behind-the-scenes chaos in the lead-up to the ‘zero tolerance’ policy rollout

The Department of Homeland Security knew it lacked the technology to track more than 26,000 children it expected to separate from their parents at the U.S. southern border in 2018 as part of its controversial “zero tolerance” policy. As a result, the roughly 3,000-plus children DHS ultimately estimated as being affected may actually be a severe underestimate, the agency’s inspector general reported Wednesday.

“Because of these IT deficiencies, we could not confirm the total number of families DHS separated during the Zero Tolerance period,” the watchdog office said in a report.

‘Remain in Mexico’ policy faces internal critiques at House hearing
Migration Protection Protocols spurs human rights violations, an asylum officer told Homeland Security panel

The Migrant Protection Protocols, a program that has so far forced more than 57,000 migrants to wait in Mexico while their immigration cases wind through the court, is illegal and enables human rights abuses against the vulnerable, a Department of Homeland Security employee told lawmakers Tuesday.

“These policies are illegal, they’re immoral, and they’re the basis for human rights abuses on behalf of our nation," Michael Knowles, president of a union that represents U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees and a longtime asylum officer, said in his testimony to a House Homeland Security panel.

Legality of Wolf, Cuccinelli appointments to DHS questioned
Key House Democrats cite new documents in request for review

The leaders of the House Oversight and Homeland Security panels on Friday challenged the legality of recent top appointments at the Department of Homeland Security, including newly installed acting secretary, Chad Wolf.

Reps. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., the acting Oversight and Reform Committee chairwoman, have asked the U.S. Comptroller General to conduct an “expedited review” to determine whether the Trump administration acted legally when it appointed both Wolf and his predecessor, Kevin McAleenan, as acting DHS secretary. They also question Wolf naming Ken Cuccinelli to serve as deputy director.

Suddenly, Ken Cuccinelli is No. 2 at DHS
The immigration hardliner became acting deputy secretary after Chad Wolf sworn in as acting DHS chief

Shortly after being sworn in as acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf — who the Senate confirmed as the agency's policy undersecretary just hours earlier — conducted his first order of business. 

He moved Ken Cuccinelli, a favorite of immigration hardliners, into the No. 2 position. 

Chad Wolf sworn in as acting DHS chief
Wolf takes over just hours after Senate confirmed him as undersecretary

Chad Wolf was sworn in Wednesday as acting director of the Department of Homeland Security, the fifth person to head the agency in the Trump administration.

A DHS spokesperson confirmed Wolf's new position to CQ Roll Call by email.

‘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.

Trump suggests Chad Wolf is his pick for next DHS chief
But DHS spokesperson says Kevin McAleenan is still acting secretary

President Donald Trump indicated Friday he would name Chad Wolf as the next acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, ending nearly a month of uncertainty over who would fill the job once outgoing acting chief, Kevin McAleenan, steps down.

“He is right now acting and we’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters when asked if Wolf would be the next DHS chief. “We have great people in there.”

DOJ changed hiring to promote restrictive immigration judges
New practice permanently placed judges on powerful appellate board, documents show

The Department of Justice has quietly changed hiring procedures to permanently place immigration judges repeatedly accused of bias to a powerful appellate board, adding to growing worries about the politicization of the immigration court system.

Documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests describe how an already opaque hiring procedure was tweaked for the six newest hires to the 21-member Board of Immigration Appeals. All six board members, added in August, were immigration judges with some of the highest asylum denial rates. Some also had the highest number of decisions in 2017 that the same appellate body sent back to them for reconsideration. All six members were immediately appointed to the board without a yearslong probationary period.

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.]

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.

Emails show how private firms profit from ICE detention centers
Documents provide rare glimpse into dealings between private detention companies and government officials

On Feb. 6, 2019, Jill Grant, chief financial officer of Immigration Centers of America, emailed the town treasurer of Farmville, Virginia, where her company operates an immigrant detention center.

“I’m feeling lucky today so I wanted to check on our funds. Has anything shown up?” she wrote.

Trump’s family separation policy amplified children’s trauma
Report: Zero tolerance policy ‘added to the trauma that children had already experienced’

Through its “zero tolerance policy” at the southwest border during 2018, which led to separation of migrant children from their parents, the Trump administration “added to the trauma that children had already experienced and put tremendous pressure on facility staff,” according to a report Wednesday by a government watchdog.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General visited 45 of about 90 facilities holding migrant children in August and September of 2018 and conducted interviews with operators, medical coordinators, mental health clinicians and other staff. In the resulting report, these officials and practitioners described significant challenges in meeting the mental health needs of children in their care, who had been traumatized long before coming to the United States, then were re-traumatized by policies at the border and further aggravated by being kept in government custody for long periods of time.

Friction over diverted disaster aid ahead of Hurricane Dorian
CQ Budget, Episode 125

Even though Congress is still in a prolonged summer recess, spending battles between the White House and Congress have only been multiplying. The Trump administration plans to divert money from disaster relief and other programs to fund more immigration detention beds and some immigration court facilities - and a lot of senior appropriators aren’t happy about it....
Trump wants to reprogram DHS money for ICE detention operations
This is the fourth consecutive fiscal year in which DHS has diverted money for immigrant enforcement

Trump wants to lift restrictions on how long it can hold migrant families
Pelosi accuses White House of ‘seeking to codify child abuse’

The Trump administration is moving to end a court settlement that limits its ability to hold migrants who cross the border into the United States, the Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday, potentially allowing for indefinite detention of children with their parents.

President Donald Trump and his administration for years have chafed at the limitations resulting from the settlement, known as the Flores agreement. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday the new policy would get rid of an interpretation of Flores that has “substantially caused and continued to fuel” a migrant crisis at the southern border.

New ‘public charge’ rule could affect millions of immigrants
The DHS rule gives officers new authority to deny citizenship, or other status based on past or future use of public benefits

A new Department of Homeland Security rule unveiled Monday seeks to do what pro-immigration advocates have long dreaded by giving U.S. immigration officers broad authority to deny applicants citizenship, green cards, visa extensions and changes in immigration status based on past or potential future use of public benefits.

The change covers people who may have used a wide range of benefits in the past such as food stamps, Medicaid and housing assistance, even if they were eligible for them. Furthermore, the government under the new rule can reject people if immigration officers deem it likely they could become reliant on such public assistance in the future.

Senate panel advances asylum bill over Democratic objections
‘This is supposed to be the Senate Judiciary Committee — not the Donald Trump committee,’ Leahy says

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved, 12-10, Sen. Lindsey Graham’s asylum overhaul bill that aims to stanch the flow of migrants to the southwest border.

But the vote came amid loud protests from Democrats that the legislation was hastily pushed through. Democrats said Graham, the committee chairman, broke from longstanding committee procedures in scheduling a markup for Thursday and not allowing any Democratic amendments.

Homestead: On the front lines of the migrant children debate

The immigration debate in southern Florida is not like those of any of the other detention centers around the U.S. Homestead sits on 55-acres of land sandwiched between buildings abandoned due to hurricane damage and the Homestead Air Reserve Base. The ground is a mix of gravel and grass and locals say heavy rains hit every afternoon.