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Trump says ‘caravans’ of immigrants are headed for the U.S. What’s he talking about?

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“These are families — women, children, men, too — fleeing horrific violence,” Gilman said. “They’re fleeing crime, they are not criminals.”

The march was organized by a group called Pueblo Sin Fronteras, or People Without Borders, which said in a release they are seeking refuge from violence and corruption. The group did not respond to a request for interview.

Mexican authorities have not stopped the group as it makes it way through the country, with many seeking entry to the United States, according to Buzzfeed.

 Central American migrants arrive at in Ixtepec, Oaxaca, Mexico on March 30, 2018, before continuing their journey to the United States. Jose Jesus Cortes / Reuters

What happens when the people reach the U.S.-Mexico border?

If the caravan attempts to cross the border in a group, participants will be stopped or apprehended, according to Kevin Johnson, dean of the University of California, Davis, School of Law. The majority of the migrants are expected to seek asylum if they cross into the United States. (Otherwise, they would likely be deported immediately — sometimes on the same day — under existing law.)

Asylum seekers are screened with a “credible fear interview” within weeks of their arrival, Gilman said. If they do not pass, they are deported immediately.

Those who are determined to have a credible claim for asylum will then proceed toward an asylum hearing in immigration court. Pending an asylum hearing, some immigrants are released to live with nearby families, while others will be detained in immigration detention housing, which was widely expanded as part of the Obama administration’s immigration enforcement.

Could Mexico still stop them?

“In recent years, the Mexican government has tried to keep Central Americans out because they don’t like to be an avenue for migration,” Johnson said, but he pointed to international law mandating that people be free to leave any country, including their own. “I don’t see there’s evidence that Mexico’s not doing what it’s supposed to be doing under international law.”

Mexico could have barred the migrants from entering its own country, but it’s unlikely they’ll stop them from trying to enter the United States.

Is “catch and release” a “liberal (Democrat)” law, like Trump says?

There is no “catch and release” law that stops U.S. authorities from apprehending migrants at the border, as Trump claimed in a tweet. Rather, the phrase refers to a past policy of letting certain immigrants without documentation live in the U.S. while awaiting immigration hearings.

Gilman said it was not a widespread practice under the Obama administration, and is not now. The president announced he was ending the practice with an executive order more than a year ago, too.

 Central American migrants gather before continuing their journey to the U.S.in Ixtepec, Oaxaca, Mexico on March 31, 2018. Jose Jesus Cortes / Reuters

“Almost everybody is detained at the border until at least they pass the (initial asylum) screening interview, and increasingly after,” Gilman said.

Can the migrants receive DACA status?

Trump gets this wrong. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is not the same as asylum, and anyone who crosses the border now is not eligible for DACA.

The Obama-era DACA program, which is the subject of a legal battle after Trump ended the program last year, allows children of undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers, to remain in the U.S. if they were under 16 when their parents brought them to the U.S., were under 31 in June 2012, and had continuously lived here without legal status since at least June 2007. The only people who can currently use or apply for DACA are the the 700,000 young people currently enrolled thanks to a lower court order that remains in effect.

“Asylum would give you a path to legalization and lawful resident status — DACA doesn’t give you that,” Johnson added.



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On immigration, the confusion is coming from inside the White House

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President Joe Biden appears to be confounded by the substance and politics of immigration.

The latest evidence of that is Friday’s laughable-if-it-wasn’t-so-serious White House backtrack of Biden’s walk-back on refugee policy. After promising to raise President Donald Trump’s annual cap on refugee admissions from 15,000 to 62,500, Biden balked on Friday morning. Then, under heavy pressure from fellow Democrats — many of whom had described Trump’s policy as racist, xenophobic and un-American — Biden decided on Friday afternoon to increase the number of refugees admitted into the country.

How many? “His initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement issued late Friday. The policy, she said, “has been the subject of some confusion.”

That confusion is coming from inside the White House.

It is the result of a much larger conundrum for Biden: finding the safe harbor spot on immigration that satisfies his base and doesn’t alienate centrist voters. He’ll never win over hard-line conservatives whose views are represented by a new Anglo-Saxon caucus in the House or more temperate conservatives who prioritize restrictive immigration policies.

But even if he doesn’t seek re-election in 2024, he needs both wings of his own coalition to move his agenda and keep Congress in Democratic hands in next year’s midterm elections.

So far, Biden is not just failing to please everyone; he’s having a hard time pleasing anyone. Less than a quarter of adults approve of his handling of immigration, according to an AP-NORC poll released last week, and the share of Democrats who view illegal immigration as “a major problem” has spiked from 15 percent to 29 percent in the last year, according to the Pew Research Center.

“It’s easy to promise a quick fix in a campaign, but the reality of the situation is it’s a mess and they don’t know how to address it,” a senior Senate Republican aide said of the broader issue. The back-and-forth over the refugee cap “is less an indictment of policy and more a highlight of how complex and difficult this issue is,” the aide added.

While the refugee policy limits legal rather than illegal immigration, Democratic lawmakers and immigrant-rights advocates are eager to see changes across the board after Trump cracked down on both forms of migration.

Biden’s stumbles on the issue come at a time when a surge of migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border has forced officials to house children in overcrowded facilities and forced Biden to reconsider his vow to allow asylum-seekers to await adjudication of their cases in the U.S.

Given that Biden’s overall approval ratings remain squarely on positive turf — roughly between 54 percent and 59 percent, depending on the poll — sentiments on his handling of immigration could be insignificant to his standing or a harbinger of trouble ahead. His skittish approach to the issue suggests more concern about the latter than confidence about the former.

Before taking office, Biden said he wanted to reverse Trump’s immigration policies but would set up “guardrails” to ensure that he didn’t act rashly in a way that “complicates what we’re trying to do.” He issued an executive order creating a review of Trump’s policies shortly after being sworn in, but has thus far left many of them in place.

Until Friday, Biden’s Democratic allies had been reserved in their criticism of his moves, hopeful that he will ultimately implement an immigration agenda that more closely approximates campaign-trail rhetoric envisioning “an immigration system that powers our economy and reflects our values.” Then the dam broke with news of his initial decision to leave the Trump refugee cap in place.

“Say it ain’t so, President Joe,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said in a statement. “This Biden Administration refugee admissions target is unacceptable.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., a leader of House progressives, accused Biden of having “broken his promise to restore our humanity” and called the 15,000 cap “harmful, xenophobic and racist.”

One Latino-rights advocate who has been in discussions with White House officials on immigration policy told NBC News last month that the administration did not appear to have a plan on the issue. The advocate spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering allies in the White House. But activists have had to lean on their faith in Biden’s intent to reverse Trump’s policies as they wait for action.

Democratic officials’ response to the initial refugee cap decision is a sign that their patience is fleeting.

“We can’t allow refugees and asylum-seekers to sit and suffer because of Washington politics,” Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro said. “I’m glad the administration has reversed course on lifting the refugee cap. It should be done immediately and up to the target promised.”

Biden’s timidity reflects confusion over how to line up his stated policy goals with his political interests.



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Tories braced for loss of 550 council seats at 'Super Thursday' local elections

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SENIOR Tories are braced for a loss of 550 council seats at the “Super Thursday” local elections next month.

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End reliance on EU! UK must become self-reliant to avoid being at bloc's mercy on vaccines

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THE recent vaccine wrangle underlines why the UK must also end its reliance on goods imported from the EU, Brexiteer Jayne Adye has said.

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