1/ The Trump administration made it harder for legal immigrants who rely on government benefit programs to obtain permanent legal status as part of a new policy aimed at reducing legal immigration and cutting down the number of poor immigrants. The new regulation makes it easier for federal officials to deny green cards and visa applications to legal immigrants who have received public benefits, such as Medicaid, food stamps, or housing vouchers, have low incomes, or little education, deeming them more likely to need government assistance in the future. Wealth, education, age and English-language skills will take on greater importance for obtaining a green card, as the change seeks to redefine what it means to be a “public charge.” (CNN / NBC News / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)
2/ The White House has ordered ICE officials to conduct more “workplace enforcement operations” this year. After the recent raids in Mississippi led to the arrest of at least 680 undocumented workers, ICE field offices across the country were told to identify at least two locations in their respective regions as potential targets for additional raids. (CNN)
- “If you’re a good worker, papers don’t matter”: How a Trump construction crew has relied on immigrants without legal status. For nearly two decades, the Trump Organization has relied on a roving crew of Latin American employees at the company’s winery and its golf courses from New York to Florida. (Washington Post)
3/ The Trump administration weakened the Endangered Species Act, allowing the government to put an economic cost on saving a species. The changes will also make it harder to consider the effects of climate change on wildlife. Critics argue that the change will accelerate the extinction for some plants and animals and clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live. (New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News / Washington Post)
- The EPA dropped salmon protections after Trump met with with Alaska’s governor. EPA scientists were planning to oppose a controversial Alaska mining project on environmental grounds that could devastate one of the most important wild salmon fisheries. In 2014, the project was halted because an EPA study found that it would cause “complete loss of fish habitat due to elimination, dewatering, and fragmentation of streams, wetlands, and other aquatic resources” in some areas of Bristol Bay. (CNN)
4/ Attorney General William Barr and several members of Congress called for an investigation following the apparent suicide of billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who faced federal sex trafficking charges before his death this weekend. Barr said Epstein’s death while in federal custody “raises serious questions that must be answered.” The FBI and the Justice Department inspector general both opened investigations. Epstein had been briefly placed on suicide watch leading up to his death, but was taken off six days later. Epstein had reportedly been alone in his cell and was not monitored by guards, who were supposed to check on him every 30 minutes. (NBC News / The Hill / CNN / CBS News / New York Times)
The day before Epstein’s death, thousands of pages of court documents related to his activities were unsealed and released. The documents detail how hundreds of girls and young women were allegedly trafficked for sex to a range of wealthy business, political and world leaders by Epstein and his madam, Ghislaine Maxwell. (New York Magazine / Miami Herald)
Barr accused the Manhattan federal prison of “serious irregularities” and a “failure to adequately secure” Epstein. Barr did not provide details about the irregularities, but questioned why Epstein had been taken off suicide watch and left in a cell alone without supervision. Epstein was found hanging in his cell over the weekend. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)
5/ Trump told advisers that he thinks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should bar Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering Israel because the two congresswomen support a boycott of Israel over the country’s continued occupation of Palestine. Israel passed a law in 2017 that requires the interior minister to block foreign nationals from entering Israel if they have supported boycotting the Jewish state. Trump’s reaction came days after the House passed a resolution condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which Omar and Tlaib supported. (Axios)
6/ The U.S. fiscal deficit has already exceeded last year’s total. The deficit grew to $866.8 billion in the first 10 months of the fiscal year, up 27% from the same period a year earlier. At this point last year, the deficit was $684 billion. (Bloomberg)
7/ U.S. intelligence officials believe Russia tested a new type of nuclear-propelled cruise missile following an explosion that killed at least seven people, including scientists, and released radiation off the coast of northern Russia last week. Russian officials said “a small nuclear reactor had exploded during an experiment.” (New York Times)
8/ Trump has made 12,019 false or misleading claims over 928 days and is averaging about 13 false or misleading claims a day. (Washington Post)
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