Thursday, November 23, 2017

Bill Johnson on the FCC’s Net Neutrality Announcement

Washington, D.C. - November 23, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Bill Johnson (R-Marietta) issued the following statement after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) put forward its plan on Net Neutrality rules:

“I’m very encouraged by the FCC’s plan to free the Internet from the overly burdensome regulations imposed by the previous Administration. Much of the innovation we’ve seen in America over the last several decades has been driven by a free and open Internet - it’s imperative that this type of innovative environment is restored. Additionally, it’s vital that the FCC and Congress continue working together to close the ‘digital divide’ that has left millions of Americans in rural areas – including a large number of those I represent - behind when it comes to internet access. Access to broadband internet is critical for Americans to pursue today’s educational and economic opportunities.”

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Inhofe Praises President's Action on North Korea

Washington, D.C. - November 23, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), made the following statement after President Trump declared North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism:

“By imposing the most substantial sanctions against the North Korean regime to date, the President has shown that his actions towards the regime speak far louder than the threats of Kim Jong Un—the United States is committed to stopping North Korea’s aggressive actions against America and our allies.

“I’ve been clear—North Korea is currently the most imminent threat facing the United States. The past eight years of ‘strategic patience’ have done nothing but enable a rogue regime to advance their nuclear and ballistic missile programs. As the President considers all economic, diplomatic and military options against North Korea, I will continue to fight for increased missile defense to protect American families and our allies around the world.”

Inhofe worked to include several provisions to support missile defense to the FY18 NDAA, which is currently awaiting the president’s signature. Some of the provisions include increasing funding to modernize the U.S. ground-based missile defense system and the procurement of 24 additional Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems.

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Immigrant Legal Resource Center says Deporting Haitians is Heartless

Washington, D.C. - November 23, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The Trump Administration announced it is terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti. Beneficiaries will be out of status and subject to deportation effective July 22, 2019. There are currently 50,000 Haitians with TPS living and working in the US who will be affected by this decision.

Said Amanda Baran, Policy Consultant at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and co-author of ILRC’s report “Economic Contributions by Salvadoran, Honduran and Haitian TPS Holders”:

“Ripping 50,000 Haitians from communities across the United States and sending them back to a country that still hasn’t recovered from the dire conditions that qualified it for TPS in the first place is another heartless decision made by the Trump Administration. A mere six months ago, then-DHS Secretary John Kelly decided to extend TPS for Haiti, noting the extensive damage Hurricane Matthew left in its wake and, since then, the island was hit by two more hurricanes--Irma and Maria--further damaging Haiti’s infrastructure and displacing thousands.

“This decision is yet another example of the Trump Administration politicizing a humanitarian program in an effort to appease its anti-immigrant base and breaking our country’s long-standing commitment to people who have built lives, grown families, and lived in the U.S. for years. This Administration has no plan in place for the children who are U.S. citizens but may now lose their parents and caregivers to deportation. Deporting mothers and fathers back to a country with bleak living conditions that cannot support their return is stunningly cruel.

“We call on Congress to step in immediately and find a legislative solution for all TPS holders. Haitian TPS holders are an important part of our communities, our economy, and our society. There is bipartisan support for a humane solution for Haitians with TPS, that would extend them a path to citizenship.”

Deporting current Haitian TPS holders will cost our nation more than $468 million; lead to a GDP reduction of $2 billion over a decade; and incur $428 million in lost Social Security and Medicare contributions over a decade, according to findings from ILRC’s report “Economic Contributions by Salvadoran, Honduran and Haitian TPS Holders” released earlier this year. The ILRC report “Relief Not Raids: Temporary Protected Status for El Salvador, Guatemala & Honduras” outlines the legal and factual grounds for designating these Central American countries for TPS and the impact it would have on these communities.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a national nonprofit that works with immigrants, community organizations, legal professionals, and policy makers to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. Through community education programs, legal training & technical assistance, and policy development & advocacy, the ILRC’s mission is to protect and defend the fundamental rights of immigrant families and communities.

Court Order on Presidential Proclamation on Visas November 13, 2017

Washington, D.C. - November 23, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- On November 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted, in part, the government’s motion for an emergency stay of the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii’s October 17, preliminary injunction. The preliminary injunction prohibited the U.S. government from enforcing or implementing Sections 2(a), (b), (c), (e), (g), and (h) of Presidential Proclamation 9645, “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or other Public-Safety Threats.” Under the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, the earlier preliminary injunction is stayed, except as to “foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” In light of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, visa applicants who are nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen and do not have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States are now subject to the applicable visa restrictions under the Presidential Proclamation. Consequently, any applicants who lack such a claim, if found otherwise eligible for a visa, will be denied under the Proclamation, unless they are exempt or qualify for a waiver under the Proclamation. The court orders did not affect Sections (d) and (f) of the Proclamation, so nationals from North Korea and Venezuela remain subject to the restrictions and limitations listed in the Presidential Proclamation, which went into effect at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, with respect to nationals of those countries.

Additional Background: The President issued Presidential Proclamation 9645 on September 24, 2017. Per Section 2 of Executive Order 13780 of March 6, 2017 (Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States), a global review was conducted to determine what additional information is needed from each foreign country to assess whether foreign nationals who seek to enter the United States pose a security or safety threat. As part of that review, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) developed a comprehensive set of criteria to evaluate the information-sharing practices, policies, and capabilities of foreign governments on a worldwide basis. At the end of that review, which included a 50-day period of engagement with foreign governments aimed at improving their information sharing practices, there were seven countries whose information sharing practices were determined to be “inadequate” and for which the President deemed it necessary to impose certain restrictions on the entry of nonimmigrants and immigrants who are nationals of these countries. The President also deemed it necessary to impose restrictions on one country due to the "special concerns" it presented. These restrictions are considered important to addressing the threat these existing information-sharing deficiencies, among other things, present to the security and welfare of the United States and pressuring host governments to remedy these deficiencies.

Nationals of the eight countries are subject to various travel restrictions contained in the Proclamation, as outlined in the following table, subject to exceptions and waivers set forth in the Proclamation. In addition, under applicable court orders, applicants from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with either a person or an entity in the United States are exempt from the restrictions in the Proclamation. Consequently, if the requirements for a particular visa classification include that the applicant have a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States, then applicants qualifying for visas of those classifications are exempt from the Proclamation, based on the court orders.

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Sessions Orders Review of Background Check System

Washington, D.C. - November 23, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo to the FBI and ATF directing them to look at several issues as it relates to reporting information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The memo directs the FBI and ATF to take the following steps:

1. Work with the Department of Defense to identify and resolve any issues with the military’s reporting of convictions and other information relevant to determining prohibited person status under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g).

2. Conduct a review to identify other federal government entities that are not fully and accurately reporting information to NICS. If any such entities are identified, a plan should be developed to ensure full and accurate reporting to NICS going forward to the extent required under current law.

3. Conduct a review of the format, structure, and wording of ATF Form 4473 and recommend changes as necessary.

4. Prepare a report that addresses: (a) the number of current open investigations for making a false statement on ATF Form 4473; (b) the number of investigations for making a false statement on ATF Form 4473 for the past five years; (c) the prosecution referral and declination numbers for the current year, as well as the past five years for making a false statement on ATF Form 4473; and (d) the priority level assigned to investigations for making a false statement on ATF Form 4473.

5. Identify any additional measures that should be taken to prevent firearms from being obtained by prohibited persons, including identifying obstacles to state, local, and tribal entities sharing information with NICS.

“The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is critical for us to be able to keep guns out of the hands of those that are prohibited from owning them,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “The recent shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas revealed that relevant information may not be getting reported to the NICS – this is alarming and it is unacceptable. Therefore, I am directing the FBI and ATF to do a comprehensive review of the NICS and report back to me the steps we can take to ensure that those who are prohibited from purchasing firearms are prevented from doing so.”

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