(Other news commingled with immigration and refugee news.)

January 26, 2018

Trump's DACA bid

With help from Ian Kullgren, Andrew Hanna and Timothy Noah
TRUMP’S DACA BID: The White House on Thursday evening formally rolled out its legislative framework to guide a DACA deal in Congress. The big news is that President Donald Trump will back a path to citizenship for an estimated 1.8 million DREAMers brought to the United States as children. The figure is more than double the 690,000 people currently enrolled in the DACA program — a bold enough concession to sound the alarm at the alt-right website Breitbart, which highlighted “Don’s Amnesty Bonanza.”

The legalization would be accompanied by major changes to the immigration system. Trump wants $25 billion for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as funds to hire additional personnel. The plan would limit family-based immigration to spouses and minor children, cutting out parents, siblings and adult children (what the administration calls “extended-family chain migration”). The changes would be applied prospectively, so people in the “backlog” would continue to be processed. The diversity visa lottery would be eliminated, and visas would be redistributed to clear backlogs for family- and employment-based visas.

The proposal also hints at changes to asylum and detention laws. The plan would deter illegal immigration by “closing legal loopholes” — language the administration has used in the past to refer to asylum laws it deems too easily gamed. In addition, the outline calls for measures to “ensure the prompt removal of illegal border-crossers regardless of country of origin.” The language could suggest changes to permit a broader use of expedited removal, which allows border agents to remove individuals quickly from the country.

Republicans greeted the plan warmly. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), one of the foremost immigration hawks in the Senate, called it “generous and humane, while also being responsible.” Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), another hardliner, said Republicans and Democrats should be “eager” to embrace the framework. On the House side, immigration centrist Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) also praised the outline.

But at least one House Republican sounded pessimistic, according to POLITICO’s Rachael Bade. “This is the beginning of the end of the GOP majority in the House,” the lawmaker said. “In a year when the Democrats impeach Trump, we can point to this moment.” NumbersUSA, a group that backs lower levels of immigration, rejected the plan outright, saying it too closely resembled a 2007 immigration blueprint backed by President George W. Bush. “NumbersUSA mobilized our huge grassroots army to defeat the 2007 amnesty, and we will do the same if this plan is proposed next week,” said Roy Beck, the group’s president.

House Democrats gave the framework a cold reception, too. “It would be far cheaper to erect a 50-foot concrete statue of a middle finger and point it towards Latin America,” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) tweeted. “Both a wall and the statue would be equally offensive and equally ineffective and both would express Trump’s deeply held suspicion of Latinos.” Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Michelle Lujan Grisham said it was “shameful” that Trump would use Dreamers to enact such a wide-ranging policy wish list.

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the lead Democratic negotiator in DACA talks, panned the proposal, too. “Dreamers should not be held hostage to President Trump’s crusade to tear families apart and waste billions of American tax dollars on an ineffective wall,” he said. Read more about the framework from POLITICO’s Rachael Bade, Burgess Everett and Lorraine Woellert here.

GOOD MORNING! It's Friday, Jan. 26, and this is Morning Shift, POLITICO's daily tipsheet on employment and immigration policy.

INCREDIBLE SHRINKING NLRB: Peter B. Robb, the new general counsel at the National Labor Relations Board, outlined a proposal earlier this month to demote the NLRB’s regional directors, Noam Scheiber reports in the New York Times. “Under the proposal,” Scheiber writes, “those civil servants — considered by many conservatives and employers to be biased toward labor — would answer to a small cadre of officials installed above them in the National Labor Relations Board’s hierarchy.” In addition, the regional directors’ Senior Executive Service rank within the civil service would be lowered, reducing their pay and their authority. Robb described the proposed restructuring, which would require approval from the full board, in a Jan. 11 phone call with the NLRB’s 26 regional directors.

“The regional directors and their staffs” Scheiber notes, “typically resolve more than 85 percent of the roughly 20,000 cases filed with the agency each year over disputed labor practices without involving the general counsel.” Adding an administrative layer above that of regional directors runs counter to the Trump administration’s stated goal of shrinking government bureaucracy and improving efficiency. But the GOP doesn’t especially prize efficiency in a government agency created in 1935 with the legislative mandate to encourage “the practice and procedure of collective bargaining.”

WHAT SHOULD DREAMERS DO?: “Congress and the White House have used the end of DACA to try to negotiate a broader immigration deal that many Republicans insist should include beefed-up security and changes to the legal immigration system,” POLITICO’S Ted Hesson reports. “What does all this mean for DREAMers?” Find the answers here.


TRUMP’S DAVOS SPEECH: President Trump is expected to sound an “America First” theme during his speech today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Quartz reports that some attendees plan to walk out of the address to protest Trump’s calling Haiti, El Salvador, and the nations of Africa “shithole countries.” The speech airs at 8 a.m. ET, according to the White House.

SESSIONS ON IMMIGRATION PLAN: Attorney General Jeff Sessions will speak today about national security and the administration’s immigration priorities during a 1:30 p.m. speech in Norfolk, Va. The speech takes place at the Slover Library, 6th Floor, 235 E. Plume Street.

HOME DEPOT, SANTANDER GIVE TAX KICKBACKS: Home Depot and Santander Bank on Thursday jumped on the bandwagon of companies to give bonuses and raises to employees in the wake of the GOP tax bill. Home Depot said it will give hourly employees a one-time bonus of "up to" $1,000. The company said it expects to pay $150 million more in taxes on offshore earnings in the short term, but to save money in 2018. Santander Bank, with more than 650 branches in the Northeast, said it would raise employee wages to $15 an hour.

More than a dozen companies have announced bonuses and wage hikes since the GOP tax bill became law in December, though skeptics note that some companies, such as Walmart, have announced layoffs and store closings at the same time. Walmart and Starbucks also have expanded their paid sick and parental leave policies.

PITTSBURGH PAPER GOES ON BYLINE STRIKE: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s newsroom went on a byline strike Thursday over wages and health benefits. Staff have not received a pay increase in over a decade, according to the newsroom’s union. “We are working in 2018 making 10 percent less than we did in 2006,” says union president Michael Fuoco. Ten months of contract negotiations broke down after the company indicated it would not pay for increased health care premiums which rose 5 percent in January. The union opened a case with the NLRB earlier this month over the health care issue.

A byline strike does not mean editorial staff have stopped producing content, merely that they refuse to put their bylines on their work. “It calls attention to the amount of work, the contribution, that our photographers, our reporters, our columnists, our graphic artists, bring to this paper, as well as our copy editors, our web designers, our web editors,” says Fuoco. The Gazette did not have immediate comment on the strike.

FLORIDA HOUSE PASSES ‘UNION-BUSTER’ BILL: Florida’s House of Representatives passed a bill that could decertify unions whose dues-paying membership falls below 50 percent. “The bill — fast-tracked by House leadership — would exempt unions that represent police officers, prison guards and firefighters … But unions representing teachers, nurses and other public-sector workers have hammered the proposal for weeks, describing it as old-school ‘union-busting,’” POLITICO’s Daniel Ducassi reports. The bill faces a heavy lift in the state Senate, where a similar measure died last year. More here.

DUKE ON TWITTER: DHS Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke is now on Twitter. Say hello to her @

REFUGEE NUMBERS DWINDLE: Refugee admissions have plummeted in the past year, according to statistics released today by the International Rescue Committee. The United States is on pace to admit roughly 21,000 refugees in fiscal year 2018 — less than half of the 45,000-person ceiling set by Trump in September. The drop in the number of Muslim refugees is striking: just 13 percent of all refugees admitted from Oct. 1 - Jan. 23 were Muslim. During the same period a year ago, Muslims represented 48 percent of refugee arrivals. Nearly a year ago, President Trump signed the first travel ban, which temporarily blocked travelers from several majority-Muslim nations and suspended the refugee resettlement program. Read more from the IRC here.

MANDATORY ARBITRATION STIFLES HARASSMENT CLAIMS: “More companies are adopting the mandatory-arbitration clauses, and many employees are walking away from harassment, wrongful-termination and discrimination claims rather than taking them to a privately run tribunal, according to experts and new research,” Jacob Gershman reports in the Wall Street Journal.

“The percentage of nonunion, private-sector employees covered by the mandatory-arbitration clauses has more than doubled since the early 2000s, according to a 2017 study by a Cornell University professor and sponsored by the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank in Washington, D.C.,” the Journal reports. “In many cases, workers drop the claims because they can’t get lawyers to take their cases. Plaintiffs’ lawyers say they are reluctant to represent arbitration clients on contingency fees because potential settlement and award payouts are generally lower than in court.” More here.

FUTURE OF WORK CONVO: WeWork CEO Adam Neumann, Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will discuss the future of work and the changing economy at a 10:30 a.m. event today. The speech is part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting and takes place in the presidential ballroom of the Capitol Hilton Hotel. Watch a livestream here.

H-1B BONANZA: Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) introduced a bill Thursday that would more than double the number of H-1B visas for high-skilled workers, POLITICO’s Ted Hesson reports.
“The bill, called the Immigration Innovation Act, or I-Squared, would increase the base level of visas to 85,000 annually, up from 65,000. Depending on demand, however, that number could rise to 195,000,” Hesson reports. “The bill would provide an unlimited number of H-1B visas for master’s degree holders on a path to receive a green card, according to a summary of the legislation. Currently, 20,000 H-1B visas are available each year under an exemption for people with master's degrees or higher.”

The legislation, versions of which Hatch has introduced in the past, arrives as Congress is working on a possible immigration deal. The large increase in temporary visas doesn’t really fit into President Trump’s “America First” ethos, but does contain some minor provisions to protect U.S. workers. The visa lottery system would be retooled to favor workers with advanced degrees (instead of a blind draw) and employers with a workforce of more than 50 percent H-1B workers (“super-dependent” employers) would be required to meet recruitment and displacement mandates. Read more from POLITICO here, the bill here and a summary here.

OVERTIME IN SHUTDOWN PAY: “Federal employees who were furloughed during the partial government shutdown not only will be paid their regular salaries as if they had worked, those who would have been eligible for overtime or other pay add-ons will receive them as well, under guidance issued Wednesday,” the Washington Post reports. More here.


—“A beginner’s travel guide to Haiti, El Salvador and Africa,” from the New York Times
—“Uber-union proposal on benefits met with skepticism from labor,” from Bloomberg
—“Rubio rejects bipartisan immigration gang,” from POLITICO
—“Maids to ask Las Vegas hotels for panic buttons,” from the Associated Press
—“Is Indianapolis cool enough for Amazon? It just might be,” from the New York Times
—“Most Americans want legal status for ‘Dreamers.’ These people don’t,” from the New York Times
—“The gig economy is especially susceptible to sexual harassment,” from the New Yorker