New rule could limit legal immigration
A huge majority of Americans want there to be a way for immigrants living in the US illegally to stay in the country legally, if requirements are met, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center out Monday.
Over the last week, immigration authorities rounded up 680 undocumented immigrants in a record-setting operation, taking place at seven sites in six cities in Mississippi. The raids are believed to be the "the largest single-state immigration enforcement operation in our nation's history," according to US Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi Mike Hurst.
The survey was conducted from late July to early August, before the raids in Mississippi, and found 72% of Americans want there to be a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants. Only about a quarter think there should be a national law enforcement effort to deport all undocumented immigrants.
Republicans and Republican-leaning independents mostly agree that there should be a legal way for undocumented immigrants to remain in the US (54%), but that view is on the decline, down 5 percentage points since a March 2017 Pew poll. Almost 9 in 10 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents support a legal way for undocumented immigrants to become citizens, which is steady since 2017.
Here are some more key takeaways:
- Republicans are also more apt to back a national law enforcement effort to deport all undocumented immigrants in the US — 42% of all Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and almost half (49%) of conservative Republicans.
- But there's an even split on which party Americans agree with on policies to deal with illegal immigration — 40% say the Democrats, 39% say the Republicans and 19% agree with neither party.
- Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are more likely to agree with their own party's policies (77%) than are Democrats and Democratic-leaners (70%).
- Liberal Democrats agree more strongly than moderate/conservative Democrats (82% and 61%, respectively) while 85% of conservative Republicans agreed with their own party, compared with 64% of moderate or liberal Republicans.
Democratic presidential candidiate Beto O’Rourke tweeted his objection to the Trump administration’s new immigration regulation, which would make it easier to reject green card and visa applications for new immigrants trying to enter and stay in the United States.
"Legal. Undocumented. Refugee. Asylum Seeker. The distinctions don't matter to President Trump. If you're an immigrant, he believes you have no place in this country," he tweeted.
Here's his full tweet:
The Trump administration's rule change targeting legal immigrants who rely on food stamps or housing assistance doesn't target Latinos and isn't meant to, according to the top citizenship services official.
Speaking at the White House, Ken Cuccinelli said the measure is 140 years in the making — and downplayed concerns it could target Latinos at a moment when that community has come under attack, specifically during the El Paso shooting.
"This is 140 year old legal structure," Cuccinelli, the acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, said. "We’re not doing anything new here. We're simply making effective what Congress already put on the books. There’s no reason for any particular group to feel this is targeting them."
Noting his own Italian heritage, Cuccinelli said other ethnic groups would have been disproportionately affected if the rule went into effect at another point in US history.
“If we had been having this conversation 100 years ago it would have applied to more Italians,” he said.
Asked about recent immigration raids carried out by ICE, acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli said, "You can expect to see more of that,"
Cucinelli added that ICE's "enforcement efforts are up."
Criminal investigations resulting from recent ICE raids in Mississippi are "still ongoing,” according to acting Director of USCIS Ken Cuccinelli, who said additional actions were likely.
Last week, CNN reported the White House has told ICE officials to conduct dozens more workplace enforcement operations this year, a senior immigration official with knowledge of the conversations told CNN.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said it "does not direct law enforcement operations from ICE ... or any federal law enforcement organization."
Some context: Last Wednesday, at least 680 undocumented immigrants were detained in a record-setting sweep at food processing plants in Mississippi six cities. More than 300 of them had been released by Thursday, Bryan D. Cox, an ICE spokesman, said in a statement.
Paired with last week's enforcement raids, Monday's announcement amounts to a concerted effort by the administration to limit legal immigration and crack down on illegal immigration.
The new Trump administration rule will encourage "self reliance and self sufficiency for those seeking to come to or stay in the United States," according to the acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Ken Cuccinelli, appearing in the White House briefing room, said the rule change is meant to uphold longtime American ideals.
"Self reliance has been a core principle in America," he said, adding later: "President Trump's administration is reenforcing the ideals of self sufficiency and personal responsibility."
He said the rule "prevents aliens who are likely to become a public charge from coming to the United States or remaining here and getting a green card."
He said the measure would use a person’s use of government assistance services like food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing programs to assess whether they are likely to become reliant on the government.
Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the Trump administration's immigration focus has not changed following this morning's rule change announcement.
The new rule change is all about legal immigration: The new regulation could dramatically cut the number of legal immigrants allowed to enter and stay in the US by making it easier to reject green card and visa applications.
But recent administration efforts have focused on illegal immigration: Just last week, immigration authorities rounded up hundreds of undocumented workers in a massive sweep at seven Mississippi food processing plants.
On Monday, Cuccinelli insisted that "This is not a change in focus."
He also said the rule change is not a substitute for congressional action, and he urged lawmakers to continue working on immigration reform.
He cited the crisis at the border, saying the issue is "all but begging" for Congress to take action.