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In separate interviews for "Axios on HBO," two top immigration officials defended the Trump administration's so-called "remain in Mexico" plan.

  • Mark Morgan and Ken Cuccinelli told "Axios on HBO" that it's meant to ease bureaucratic burdens on the U.S. and prevent the "catch and release situation" where asylum-seekers would be released into the interior of the U.S.
  • Homeland Security claims Mexico will provide those affected by the plan "with all appropriate humanitarian protections for the duration of their stay."

The plan, formally titled the Migrant Protection Protocol, pushes for some migrants seeking entry to the U.S. from Mexico to be returned to Mexico while waiting for the completion of their immigration proceedings.

  • Immigration reformists argue the plan denies individuals their right to asylum.

What they're saying:

"With our broken immigration system, specifically the Flores Settlement agreement, which says [children] cannot be held more than 20 days, it's impossible for us to get through the full process in 20 days."
— Mark Morgan to "Axios on HBO"

Morgan further argued that provisions protecting children from prolonged detainment have encouraged smugglers to "grab a kid and that's your U.S. passport in the United States."

  • "You grab a kid, you're into this country. And so what that does is you're sending a message, right, that that loophole is being closed no more. If you grab a kid, it's no longer an automatic passport into the interior United States never to be heard from again."

Cuccinelli echoed Morgan's defense of the plan:

  • "The point was to be able to actually have a way to deal with this population that wasn't a catch and release situation. So we have achieved that."
  • "It's been a success in the sense that we've been able to keep families together. We have not released people into the interior of the United States, and that was a big part of the goal."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

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9 mins ago - Energy & Environment

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden will on Wednesday order a government-wide review of over 100 Trump-era policies and direct agencies to prepare a suite of emissions and energy efficiency rules.

Why it matters: New information from transition officials offers the full scope of Biden's imminent, inauguration-day burst of environmental and energy policy moves.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
10 mins ago - Health

The public health presidency

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Joe Biden will take office today facing a challenge none of his modern predecessors have had to reckon with — his legacy will depend largely on how well he handles a once-in-a-century pandemic that's already raging out of control.

The big picture: Public health tends to be relatively apolitical and non-controversial. The limelight in health care politics typically belongs instead to debates over costs and coverage. But that will all change for the Biden administration.

D.C. braces for economic hit from scaled-back inauguration

Photo: Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The days leading up to and including Inauguration Day typically generate $31.4 million in additional sales for D.C. businesses — but not this year.

Why it matters: Washington's economy is already suffering from pandemic-induced closures, and could very much use the revelry and tourist dollars that Inauguration Day brings — instead of the large bills that will pile up if there's further mayhem or if visitors continue to stay away.