Society

John Kelly says Americans should ‘look harder at who we elect’

Trump administration Ex-White House chief of staff questioned Trump’s character and ethics after Mattis attacked president for his conduct in office Donald Trump and John Kelly at the White House in Washington DC on 5 October 2017. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters The former White House chief of staff John Kelly has said Americans should “look harder…

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DHS To Expand DNA Collection Of Detained Migrants

Law360 (March 6, 2020, 9:30 AM EST) — The Trump administration finalized its policy on Friday to collect DNA from detained migrants, allowing the government to move toward expanding its existing pilot program that began at the border early this year.The rule, which takes effect in April, will require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to collect DNA samples from hundreds of thousands of detained migrants each year and input them into the federal government’s criminal database, which could then be searched against DNA information found at crime scenes.“Today’s rule assists federal agencies in implementing longstanding aspects of our immigration laws,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen said…

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USCIS Adjusting Premium Processing Fee

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced beginning on Dec. 2, it is adjusting the fee to request premium processing for certain employment-based petitions.
The premium processing fee will increase to $1,440 from the current fee of $1,410 for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. This increase, which is done in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act, reflects the full amount of inflation from the implementation of the premium processing fee in June 2001 through August 2019 based on the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U). USCIS last increased the fee in 2018.
Premium processing is an optional service currently authorized for certain petitioners filing Forms I-129 or I-140. The system allows petitioners to request 15-day processing of these forms if they pay an extra fee. The premium processing fee is paid in addition to the base filing fee and any other applicable fees. It cannot be waived.
For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook (/uscis).

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Cuccinelli Announces USCIS’ FY 2019 Accomplishments and Efforts to Implement President Trump’s Goals

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today released preliminary fiscal year 2019 agency statistics, accomplishments and efforts to implement President Trump’s agenda. These preliminary statistics highlight important immigration trends and illustrate the work accomplished by USCIS in FY 2019. The agency will publish final, verified FY 2019 statistics later next month.
“FY 2019 has been a historic year for USCIS and we have achieved many of President Trump’s goals to make our immigration system work better for America. As an agency, we have worked hand-in-hand with our fellow DHS components to answer President Trump’s call to address the ongoing crisis at our southern border. In the face of congressional inaction, we’ve taken significant steps to mitigate the loopholes in our asylum system, combat fraudulent claims and strengthen the protections we have in place to preserve humanitarian assistance for those truly in need of it,” said USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. “Meanwhile, the men and women of USCIS continue to administer our nation’s lawful immigration system, processing a large number of applications and requests while naturalizing 833,000 new U.S. citizens, an 11-year high.
“In the coming year, we will continue to use every tool available to us to deliver on President Trump’s promises to the American people. We will continue to fulfill his goals to strengthen our nation’s strained immigration system and alleviate the crisis at our border while the agency continues to fairly and efficiently adjudicate the applications of those seeking lawful status in the U.S.”
Crisis Response and Asylum Reform
Absent congressional action to provide targeted fixes to our immigration system, USCIS rushed personnel and resources to our southern border and implemented a number of significant policy changes and reforms designed to help reduce the loopholes in our nation’s asylum system that allowed for crisis levels of abuse and exploitation.
Major Policy Reforms

Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP): MPP was established by the Trump Administration in January 2019 to restore a safe and orderly immigration process along the U.S. southern border and decrease the number of aliens attempting to game the immigration system. Under MPP, aliens attempting to enter the U.S. from Mexico without proper documentation may be returned to Mexico to wait outside of the U.S. during their immigration proceedings.

Third Country Transit Asylum Rule: In July, DHS and DOJ published a joint interim final rule to enhance the integrity of the asylum process by placing further restrictions or limitations on eligibility for aliens who seek asylum in the United States. Specifically, with limited exceptions, the rule bars aliens, who entered along the southern border, from receiving asylum in the U.S. if they did not apply for asylum in at least one other country they transited through. This rule aims to mitigate the crisis at the border by better identifying and serving legitimate asylum seekers.
Credible Fear
In FY 2019, the Asylum Division received more than 105,000 credible fear cases – over 5,000 more than in FY 2018 and a new record high.
The top five countries asylum officers processed credible fear claims from: Honduras, Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador and India.
Asylum Workforce
In FY 2019, USCIS executed an ambitious plan to hire 500 staff for the Asylum Division by the end of December 2019 to reach authorized staffing levels. New strategies are in development to more specifically target individuals with relevant experience and skill sets, including those with prior military and law enforcement expertise.
During any given week in FY 2019, 60-90 USCIS employees were assigned to detention facilities or Border Patrol stations along the southwest border, including about 40-60 asylum officers.
The Asylum Division trained and deployed U.S. Border Patrol agents and USCIS officers from outside the Asylum Division to supplement staffing on the southern border and assist with the Asylum Division’s workload.
Refugee Processing
USCIS processed tens of thousands of refugees overseas, work that contributed to meeting the 30,000 refugee admissions ceiling for FY 2019.
USCIS conducted a successful pilot program to validate the identity of refugee applicants using UNHCR biometric records.
Crisis Deployments
In FY 2019, USCIS sent 400 employee volunteers to assist with the federal government’s overall efforts responding to critical DHS needs.
233 of these volunteers were deployed directly to the nation’s southern border through the DHS Volunteer Force in support of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Others were deployed to offices across the country providing critical legal services and mission support to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Protecting American Workers and Taxpayers
Public Charge
In August, USCIS announced the publication of the Final Rule on Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds, a rule that enforces long-standing law to better ensure that those seeking to come to, or stay in, the United States are self-sufficient. With this new rule, DHS defined public charge to mean an alien who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months, in the aggregate, within any 36-month period (such that, for instance, receipt of two benefits in one month counts as two months). Under the new regulation, USCIS sought to evaluate applications to better ensure that aliens seeking to come to, or remain in, the United States are able to successfully support themselves through their own capabilities and through the resources of their families, sponsors, and private organizations rather than rely on public benefit programs supported by taxpayers.
On Oct. 11 and Oct. 14, 2019, judges in eight separate cases before U.S. District Courts for the Southern District of New York, Northern District of California, Eastern District of Washington, Northern District of Illinois, and District of Maryland enjoined DHS from implementing and enforcing this final rule and postponed the effective date until a final resolution of the litigation.
EB-5 Reform
In July, USCIS published a final rule that made a number of significant changes to the agency’s EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Under the EB-5 program, individuals are eligible to apply for conditional lawful permanent residence in the United States if they make the necessary investment in a new commercial enterprise in the United States and create 10 full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers. The reforms made to the program this year increase the minimum investment level to account for inflation over the past three decades and substantially restrict the possibility of gerrymandering targeted employment areas that qualify for a reduced investment amount, ensuring that the incentive is reserved for rural and high-unemployment areas most in need.
Securing the Homeland
Vetting and Screening
Consistent with President Trump’s call for enhanced vetting, USCIS plays a key role in safeguarding our nation’s immigration system and making sure that only those who are eligible for a benefit receive it. USCIS is vigorous in its efforts to detect and deter immigration fraud, using a variety of vetting and screening processes to confirm an applicant’s identity and eligibility. The agency also conducts site visits, interviews applicants, and requests evidence for benefits that offer individuals status in the United States.
In FY 2019, USCIS expanded certain screening procedures to address President Trump’s Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” This includes additional vetting for naturalization and permanent residence applicants.
USCIS personnel completed more than 8,000 site visits as part of the Targeted Site Visit and Verification Program.
Referrals to the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate  from field offices surpassed FY 2018 levels by more than 22%.
The primary background screening system for USCIS (known as ATLAS) processed more than 16.5 million screenings, through law enforcement and other federal databases, generating approximately 124,000 automated potential fraud, public safety and national security detections requiring further analysis and manual review by USCIS officers.
FDNS continued leveraging open source and publicly available social media information to investigate potential fraud, national security and public safety concerns with approximately 11,420 checks completed in FY 2019.
Large Workload
From the beginning of FY 2019 through August 2019, USCIS adjudicated nearly 7.5 million requests for immigration benefits, which is a 14% increase over the last fiscal year. However, data for September 2019 is not yet available. The verified final totals will be released later next month.
USCIS also naturalized 833,000 new citizens in FY 2019 – an 11-year high in new oaths of citizenship.
USCIS granted lawful permanent residence to 582,000 individuals and processed more than 2.1 million employment authorization applications. The agency also verified more than 40 million new hires through E-Verify.
From the start of FY 2019 through August 2019, the backlogs for Green Cards and naturalizations were reduced by 25% and 20% respectively.
Modernization
Online Filing
The agency’s transition from paper applications to a fully digital experience continues to be an important priority for USCIS. Consequently, USCIS continues to expand our online filing capabilities.
In FY 2019, 1,214,300 applications were filed online, a 10.4% increase from the 1,100,242 filed in FY 2018.
USCIS added three forms (N-600, N-600K, and I-539) during FY 2019 for a total of eight forms (I-90, I-131A, N-336, N-400, N-565, N-600, N-600K and I-551) available now for online filing.
USCIS plans to add several more forms for electronic filing during FY 2020, including the I-485, I-765, I-131, I-129 and I-589.
Additionally, USCIS stood up FIRST, the federal government’s first fully electronic FOIA/Privacy Act request and delivery system that allows users to submit and track FOIA requests and receive documents digitally. In FY 2019, more than 26,000 electronic responses have been delivered to indivduals with online accounts.
Information Services Modernization Program
In FY 2019, USCIS expanded the Information Services Modernization Program (InfoMod). InfoMod saves both applicants and the agency time by enabling hundreds of thousands applicants who would have otherwise required an in-person appointment at a USCIS office to have their inquiries answered through the agency’s suite of self-help tools online and over the phone. Under InfoMod, applicants still in need of in-person appointment services for certain issues, such as emergency travel documentation, are now able to schedule appointments without being turned away due to lack of availability. 
Self-Help Tools
USCIS has continued to expand and enhance the self-help tools available to applicants online and through the agency’s Contact Center with the goal of providing more efficient, timely service. Due to these improvements, USCIS has seen an 13% increase in the number of individuals using USCIS’ digital tools since FY 2018. The number of myUSCIS sessions reached 35,138,900 in FY 2019 compared, with 31,079,323 in FY 2018.
For more information on USCIS and our programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook (/uscis).

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Refugee Admissions Part of Overall Humanitarian Relief Efforts says USCIS Acting Director Cuccinelli

WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli today issued the following statement on the Trump Administration’s proposed refugee ceiling for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020.
“The United States is the most generous country in the world when it comes to humanitarian relief efforts, and we are committed to maintaining that leadership position. In keeping with that goal, the President has proposed that we resettle 18,000 refugees from around the world, which will be in addition to the hundreds of thousands of asylum applicants we will process. This domestic support of refugees and asylum seekers is in addition to our commitment of billions of dollars to support refugees and other displaced people around the world in accordance with the President’s 2017 National Security Strategy.
“The proposed FY 2020 refugee ceiling, as outlined by the President, takes into account our existing and anticipated humanitarian workload on all fronts and fulfills our primary duty to protect and serve U.S. citizens. The professional, dedicated men and women of USCIS continue to faithfully administer our nation’s lawful immigration system and protect its integrity in order to ensure we provide humanitarian protection to the most vulnerable who meet the requirements under the law.
“Our nation continues to face a security and humanitarian crisis at our southern border where hundreds of thousands of Central Americans who are not being persecuted in their home countries are using our asylum system to gain entry into the United States. The ongoing crisis has created an unprecedented asylum workload for USCIS and creates difficulty for legitimate asylum seekers who need protection.
“USCIS is committed to assisting those truly in need, protecting the law, and serving the American people.”
For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook (/uscis).

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USCIS to Welcome More Than 34,000 New Citizens in Celebration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day

WASHINGTON — USCIS announced today that it will celebrate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day by welcoming nearly 34,300 new U.S. citizens during 316 naturalization ceremonies across the nation between Sept. 13 and 23. View a list of other notable 2019 Constitution Week-themed naturalization ceremonies.
“Two hundred and thirty-two years ago, our great country adopted the United States Constitution, and as we celebrate Constitution Week, it is important to underscore the significance of citizens’ responsibilities for protecting and defending the Constitution,” said Acting Director Cuccinelli. “These nearly 34,300 new U.S. citizens followed the law on their path to naturalization and now call the U.S. home. I can think of no better way to celebrate Constitution Week than to welcome thousands of new U.S. citizens who have assimilated, made a commitment to our great country, and have vowed to support the Constitution.”
On Sept. 17, the nation observes Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, as part of Constitution Week (Sept. 17 to 23 this year). The commemoration honors both the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787, and an observance that began in 1940 as “I Am an American Day.” Citizenship Day began in 1952, based on a law signed by President Harry Truman, and in 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower proclaimed the first Constitution Week.
This time of year serves as an opportunity to celebrate the connection between the Constitution and citizenship and reflect on the meaning of becoming a citizen of the United States. USCIS welcomes approximately 650,000 to 750,000 citizens each year during naturalization ceremonies across the United States and around the world. In fiscal year 2018, USCIS naturalized more than 756,000 people, a five-year high in new oaths of citizenship.
To help applicants prepare to become U.S. citizens, USCIS provides study materials and resources available through the Citizenship Resource Center. In addition, the only official USCIS Civics Test application, USCIS: Civics Test Study Tools, is a mobile app that challenges users’ civic knowledge and is currently available for download in the Google Play and iTunes stores.  
Following each naturalization ceremony, USCIS encourages new U.S. citizens and their families and friends to share their naturalization photos on social media using the hashtags #newUScitizen, #ConstitutionWeek, and #WethePeople.
For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow them on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis), and LinkedIn (/uscis).

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