Nov 15, 2019

House Democrats challenge legality of Wolf, Cuccinelli jobs at DHS

Ken Cuccinelli of the Department of Homeland Security testifies during a House Oversight subcommittee last month. (Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Democratic lawmakers are disputing the legality of Chad Wolf's appointment as acting Homeland Security secretary and immigration hardliner Ken Cuccinelli as his deputy, asking the U.S. Comptroller General for an expedited review. 

Why it matters: If the argument set forth by two House committee chairs on Friday prevails, it could give Democrats a path to try to block the ascension of Cuccinelli, or more broadly to seek to invalidate months of agency actions.

Between the lines: Before leaving office, former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen changed an internal policy determining who is next in line if the current agency head can no longer serve in that position.

  • The lawmakers are arguing that her successor, acting secretary Kevin McAleenan, may have never legally served in that role — and that even if he did, his appointment may have legally expired before he left the job.
  • While Nielsen changed who was next in line in case of "disaster or catastrophic emergency," she did not make any changes to the line of succession in case of "death, resignation, or inability to perform," according to the letter.
  • Meanwhile, under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, they argue that McAleenan's acting position may have expired days before he changed the same policy to allow Wolf to become acting Secretary. If Wolf's appointment isn't legally valid, they argue, he lacks the authority to elevate Cuccinelli.

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Refugee resettlement agencies sue Trump admin over executive order

Protesters gather at the Capitol as they protest U.S. refugee policies. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Three refugee resettlement agencies filed suit on Thursday against the Trump administration for an executive order signed in September that permits state and local officials to block resettlement in their jurisdictions, the groups announced.

The big picture: The order requires cities and states to give written consent before refugees can be settled there. The three agencies, HIAS, a Jewish nonprofit, Church World Service and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, are asking the court to block the order as it is tried in court.

Go deeperArrowNov 22, 2019

Report: Top border official Mark Morgan broke rules to fund happy hours

Mark Morgan. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Acting commissioner for the Customs and Border Protection agency Mark Morgan broke federal rules in a previous position by soliciting sponsors to pay for FBI happy hours, the San Francisco Chronicle newly reports.

Where it stands: Morgan continued the practice even after being warned that asking outside entities to fund the functions was not in compliance with federal rules, according to the Justice Department’s inspector general.

Go deeperArrowNov 26, 2019

U.S. sends first Honduran asylum seeker sent to Guatemala

Dozens of people seen waiting to enter the U.S. on the Northern side of the International Bridge over the Rio Grande, in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, Mexico. Photo: LEXIE HARRISON-CRIPPS/AFP via Getty Images

The first Honduran migrant was sent to Guatemala on Thursday to pursue his asylum case, the AP reports, kicking off a "landmark" Trump administration policy.

Flashback: Guatemala signed a "safe third country" agreement in July, agreeing to take in more Central American asylum seekers in an effort to slow migration in the U.S. The policy mostly impacts immigrants from Honduras and El Salvador whose routes to the U.S. go through Guatemala. Thousands of Guatemalans left the country last year to seek asylum in the U.S., Al Jazeera notes.

Go deeperArrowNov 22, 2019