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Chad Wolf’s authority is ‘illegitimate’: Hispanic Caucus chairman demands DHS chief ‘resign in disgrace’

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President Donald J. Trump welcomes Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary Chad Wolf to the Oval Office for Wolf’s ceremonial swearing-in Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

Immigrant rights groups and Texas Democrats are urging a review on the legality of Trump administration immigration policies after a government watchdog found two of the White House’s top immigration officials are not legally eligible to serve in their respective positions.

The Government Accountability Office on Friday determined that Chad Wolf, acting Department of Homeland Security secretary, and Ken Cuccinelli, a senior official performing deputy secretary duties, aren’t legally qualified to hold those posts.

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United We Dream, an advocacy group pushing for immigration reform, said the GAO’s conclusion calls into question the latest guidance from the DHS on the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program that was initiated in 2012.

The program has provided a legal shield to hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as children; it was open to undocumented immigrants who came to the country before they were 16 and who were 30 or younger as of June 2012. The program gave them a renewable, two-year work permit and a reprieve from deportation. Since its inception, DACA, has protected more than 130,000 Texans from deportation, the second-highest total of any state after California. As of December 2019, there were about 107,000 Texans with DACA permits, according to federal statistics.

Wolf, who was appointed late last year, said last month he was instructing staff “to take all appropriate actions to reject all pending and future initial requests for DACA” and exercise its authority to “to terminate or deny deferred action at any time when immigration officials determine termination or denial of deferred action is appropriate.”

The GAO’s determination Friday should render that order invalid, said Greisa Martínez Rosas, executive director of United We Dream.

“What’s clear today from the Government Accountability Office is that Chad Wolf did not have the authority to issue this memo in the first place,” she said in a statement.

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The GAO report says that Wolf and Cuccinelli were appointed as a result of “reference to an invalid order of succession” because when former DHS chief Kirstjen Nielsen resigned in April of 2019, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency was supposed to succeed her. But instead, former Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan was named as a replacement.

“As such, the subsequent appointments of Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans, Chad Wolf and Principal Deputy Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli were also improper because they relied on an amended designation made by Mr. McAleenan,” the report notes.

Trump announced in 2017 he was ending the DACA program but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that it was improperly terminated and allowed the initiative to continue. A federal district judge subsequently ordered that new applications should be processed at the same time the DHS was accepting other DACA renewals. After that order, Wolf instructed staff to reject certain DACA requests.

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The GAO’s report has no legal authority but the report authors said the findings are being referred to the DHS’s inspector general. The issue is likely to be raised more often in an election year when immigration-reform advocates continue clamoring for a legislative solution for DACA recipients.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said in a statement the GAO conclusion also calls into question recent DHS actions during nationwide protests against police practices.

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“The Trump administration went around Congress to make invalid appointments of anti-immigrant white nationalists in violation of the law,” said Castro, the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “From dismantling the immigration system to tear-gassing peaceful protestors, their authority is illegitimate. In light of this GAO decision, both Wolf and Cuccinelli must resign in disgrace or be removed from their positions immediately.”

by Julián Aguilar, The Texas Tribune

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2020/08/14/trump-homeland-security-officials/.

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Scientists alarmed as first ever nest of giant ‘murder hornets’ is found in the United States

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After months of meticulous tracking, authorities in the western US state of Washington on Friday said they had uncovered the first ever nest of the deadly Asian giant hornet in the country.

The nest was found on Thursday by Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) entomologists on a property in Blaine, near the border with Canada, the agency said in a statement.

It added that an attempt to eradicate the nest of wasps -- the world's largest hornet species also known as the "murder hornet" -- would take place on Saturday.

"The successful detection of a nest comes after a WSDA trapper collected two live Asian giant hornets on October 21 (Wednesday), caught in a new type of trap the agency had placed in the area," the statement said.

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Mormons fed up with Trump’s vulgar rhetoric and behavior are flocking to the Democratic Party

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Mormons in the United States have traditionally been reliable Republican voters, but some members of the conservative church put off by President Donald Trump are switching sides and backing veteran Democrat Joe Biden.

Support for Trump among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which emphasizes family values and morals, is especially lagging among women.

Experts say that could have a significant impact in some key battleground states -- notably Arizona and Nevada, where Mormons represent six percent of the population.

"There are things about Biden that I don't agree with, but I think it's more important not to vote for Trump," said Melarie Wheat, a 36-year-old mother of five who lives in the western state of Utah, where the LDS Church is headquartered.

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‘Nuts!’ The Lincoln Project mocks Jared and Ivanka for their ‘comical’ threat to sue over Times Square billboards

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The Lincoln Project on Friday night fired back at White House advisors Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump for threatening to sue over billboards in Times Square attacking their response to the coronavirus crisis.

The ads show the couple smiling alongside coronavirus death tolls for New Yorkers and Americans.

https://twitter.com/ProjectLincoln/status/1319294071513346053?s=20

Kushner and Trump's attorney, Marc Kasowitz, on Friday sent a letter to the Lincoln Project warning that the billboards were defamatory. “Those ads show Ms. Trump smiling and gesturing toward a death count of Americans and New Yorkers, and attribute to Mr. Kushner the statement that “[New Yorkers] are going to suffer and that’s their problem” (alteration in original), with body bags underneath,” the letter read.

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