Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday called for stricter immigration laws and increased vetting of individuals entering the U.S. amid a heated debate between Congress and the White House over immigration reform.

“What the American people want, have a right to, and what’s good for America is a lawful system of immigration. And when we admit people to our country, we should be like Canada,” Sessions said on Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

Sessions said President Trump is not against immigration, but the country should vet potential immigrants and accept those who will be successful in the U.S. “We should evaluate them and make sure they are going to be lawful, they are not threats to us, they have the education and skill level to prosper in America. That’s good for them and good for America,” he added.

 

  1. S. Department of Homeland Security banned staff from talking to Congress about immigration

Congress is scrambling to put together a bipartisan immigration bill that will allow the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients to remain legally in the U. S., and could impact migration to the country for generations to come.

But the top government experts on the issue have been barred from speaking to members of Congress in recent days, potentially limiting the information lawmakers can get on issues like effectiveness of border walls or links between immigrants and crime.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Legislative Affairs office sent an email on Jan. 9 to top officials at the agency, informing them that “all operating component meetings on immigration are cancelled,” according to someone with a copy of the email who read it to Quartz.

“Operating components” refers to divisions who execute an agency’s policies, in this case, the Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security. They were cancelled “on behalf of the front office,” the email said, the “front office” being the agency head, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

 

U.S. Hispanic Caucus Head Rejects Senate “Dreamer” Immigration Deal

U.S. Democratic Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham, head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, expressed opposition on Tuesday to a bipartisan Senate immigration deal set to be unveiled on Wednesday.

Lujan Grisham said in a hallway interview that the Senate measure would make parents of Dreamers “second-class citizens” and had other problems “that would give me both as a member (of Congress) and as the chairwoman of the caucus heartburn.”

Grisham has thrown her weight behind a bipartisan bill being introduced in the House of Representatives that is narrower than the Senate bill and would not address all the immigration issues being sought by the White House.

 

DOJ Issues New Immigration Court Policies, Addressing Obama-Era Caseload Backup

The Justice Department issued new measures on Wednesday that will prioritize certain immigration cases in an effort to streamline a system that nearly tripled the caseload of judges during the Obama administration.

A memo listing guidelines for all new cases filed and an order that all immigration court cases that are reopened must establish case priorities was sent by John McHenry, the director of the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, to the Office of Chief Immigration Judge, all immigration judges, all court administrators and all immigration court staff.

The new measures require that 85% of all non-status detained removal cases be completed within 60 days of filing; 85% of all non-status non-detained removal cases be completed within 1 year of filing; and 85% of all motions adjudicated within 14 days of the request.

 

Key GOP Negotiators Doubt Immigration Deal Materializes This Week

A key Senate negotiator and White House official on Tuesday expressed little hope for an immigration deal this week but nonetheless predicted that Congress can avoid a government shutdown.

“I think we’re optimistic that we’ll get a deal. I think this week would be fairly Herculean,” White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told reporters Tuesday after a meeting with staff of the No. 2 congressional leaders. Short also said he expected the No. 2 leaders, Cornyn, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, to meet Wednesday to continue the talks

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, one of the No. 2 leaders, separately told reporters that he doubts an agreement on a legislative replacement for the DACA program and other immigration matters would get done this week.