Reports: British Prime Minister Theresa May plans migration curbs

Non-EU migrants could find it harder to enter Britain under policies outlined in a pre-election manifesto drafted by the prime minister’s Conservatives. The document is being published ahead of a June 8 snap election.

Großbritannien Theresa May startet ihre Wahlkampagne (Reuters/P. Noble)

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday urged voters to “strengthen my hand” in Brexit talks, as she unveiled the Conservative manifesto. May reiterated that Britain would be leaving the European single market and the customs union and warned of “tricky battles” over the next two years as the country negotiates its departure from the EU.

“Every vote for me and my team will strengthen my hand in the negotiations to come,” May said at the launch in Halifax in northern England, calling it “a manifesto to see us through Brexit and beyond.”

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“If we fail, the consequences for Britain and for the economic security of ordinary working people will be dire. If we succeed, the opportunities ahead of us are great,” May said, as dozens of anti-austerity campaigners and trade unionists rallied outside.

“It is time to put the old tribal politics behind us and to come together in the national interest, united in our desire to make a success of Brexit,” May said.

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Mainstream British media said on Wednesday that May would pitch immigration strictures and trim certain welfare benefits for pensioners when she unveiled her pledges later Thursday for Britain’s snap June 8 election.

Employers seeking non-EU workers for skilled jobs would face a doubling of the so-called skills charge and migrant workers would be asked to pay more into the National Health Service, according to the BBC.

The extra revenue gathered would flow into skills training for British workers.

The skills charge sees companies fined when they employ migrants from outside the EU.

The BBC said May is also planning to implement a reduction of immigration from EU nations, once Britain has finalized its divorce from the bloc.

That amounted to the “end of freedom of movement, ” a key tenet of open-borders Europe, said the BBC, quoting an unnamed source.

Addressing a G20 trade union meeting in Berlin on Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Britain that ending free movement of people “will have its price.”

Merkel said London should not attempt to stipulate “there’s a cap of 100,000 or 200,000 EU citizens, more aren’t allowed into Britain – perhaps researchers as well, but no others, please.”

May outlines other pledges

May said she would also tighten laws on company takeovers and would ensure any foreign group buying important infrastructure did not undermine security or essential services if she wins next month’s election.

“We will require bidders to be clear about their intentions from the outset of the bid process; that all promises and undertakings made in the course of takeover bids can be legally enforced afterwards; and that the government can require a bid to be paused to allow greater scrutiny,” the Conservative Party said in its election policy document on Thursday.

May also said that when the current triple lock system governing the rates of state pensions expires in 2020, a new double lock system will be introduced instead. She said the double lock would mean pensions would rise in line with earnings or inflation, whichever was highest.

May said now was not the time for another Scottish independence referendum and one should not take place until the Brexit process has played out.

May added that she would increase spending on the state-run National Health Service by at least 8 billion pounds over the next five years and hike the migrant health surcharge. The Conservative election policy document also said it would prioritize the issue of the 140,000 nationals from other EU countries who work in the health system.

Writing in The Sun newspaper, May said she was “determined to cut the cost of living for ordinary working families, keep taxes low and to intervene when markets are not working as they should.”

The Telegraph newspaper said May would also stick to the conservative government’s pledge to cut the corporation tax to 17 percent by 2020.

People who currently receive free care in their home would be charged more, and funding for universal free school lunches for young children would be diverted to other educational tasks.

The ruling Conservative Party received 4.1 million pounds ($5.35 million) of donations in the first week of the campaign, the watchdog Electoral Commission said on Thursday. That compares to 2.7 million pounds for the main opposition Labour Party.

May heads into the election against the opposition center-left Labour with opinion surveys indicating that she could win by a landslide.

ipj/gsw (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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The human tragedies at the Mexican wall

Her everyday work involves helping deported immigrants at the US-Mexico border. Jana Echterhoff, a volunteer, cannot get the stories of the stranded migrants out of her head. Alexandra von Nahmen reports from Nogales.

Mexiko USA Grenzgebiet Nogales Kino Border Initiative | Grenzzaun (DW/A. von Nahmen)

Early in the morning, people are already lining up in front of the soup kitchen door. More and more people are gathering in front of the nondescript building located only a few hundred meters away from the US border crossing in the Mexican city of Nogales. Jana Echterhoff is wearing a yellow apron with her name stitched on it. She sweeps a strand of hair out of her face. “Almost time to begin,” says the volunteer from Germany.

The door opens and the room quickly fills up. This time, most of the people there are young men who look exhausted and battered. Some of them are wearing torn pieces of clothing and there are only few women among them.

Ever since 2008, the Catholic Kino Border Initiative (KBI), named after the Italian Jesuit Eusebio Kino, has been helping migrants who have been deported from the USA to Mexico because they have tried to cross the border illegally. Echterhoff helps hand out the breakfast consisting of beans, rice and meat.

Mexiko USA Grenzgebiet Nogales Kino Border Initiative | Jana Esterhoff und Vater Sean Carroll (DW/A. von Nahmen)Helper Jana Echterhoff with Jesuit priest Sean Carroll in the reception area for immigrants

Dangerous journey through the desert

Echterhoff stops at a table and listens. She learned Spanish at school and her past internships sparked her interest for Latin America. “I was interested in the topic of migration. Children of immigrant families are normal part of the place where I grew up,” says the 22-year-old who comes from the Ruhr region in western Germany.

Currently enrolled in the Globalization and Development Studies program at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, she is collecting data in Nogales for her master’s thesis. What happens to the immigrants after they’ve been deported from the USA? How does the Catholic Church help them? Those are all questions that interest the German university student.

“I wanted to go the USA to earn money. I want to help my mother,” explains 27-year-old Javier from Honduras. With the help of a smuggler, he embarked on the dangerous journey through the Sonoran Desert. He paid hundreds of dollars. Anyone who smuggles drugs does not have to pay for the trip but that was out of the question for him, said Javier. In the end, he was caught by US border patrol guards and deported.

Echterhoff hears stories like this every day. “Most people who come here are in bad shape. Many of them are injured in the desert, especially their feet,” says the German student. Also, they are malnourished when they are released from detention centers.

She anxiously turns to a teenager who is doubling over in pain. “He claims that an American border patrol guard beat him with a baton,” says Echterhoff. The teenager is bandaged around his waist. A volunteer tells him, “You have to go to the hospital,” but the boy doesn’t seem to really be listening.

Infografik Mexiko USA Grenzzaun ENG

Human tragedies

Kino Border Initiative provides warm meals, medical assistance and legal aid. “Our most important tasks are listening to people and getting them back in shape,” says Sean Carroll, the Jesuit priest who manages the project that is run on both sides of the border – in Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico.

Echterhoff agrees with him. “We try to give them back dignity and respect. Authorities treat them like dangerous criminals even though they are in dire need of help.” She adds that one cannot imagine what that does to a person.

Watch video03:23

Texans at border divided on Mexico ‘wall’

She recalls an encounter with a Mexican woman who – after living in the US as an undocumented worker for 15 years – was deported because she parked her car illegally and did not pay the fine on time. Ever since Donald Trump took office, Echterhoff has been seeing cases like these more frequently in Nogales. The US government vowed to deport undocumented immigrants if they committed crimes; however, the magnitude of the offense seems to play no role.

“The Mexican woman was completely distraught,” recalls Echterhoff. “She had tears in her eyes when she told me that she did not know what happened to her children, ages 8 and 12. They stayed behind in the USA and had the right to live there because they were born there.” The authorities did not respond to her queries. Only weeks later did the mother manage to get her children out. “The human tragedies are heartbreaking,” says Jana Echterhoff.

USA Einwanderungsreform Grenze zu Mexiko (Getty Images)Families torn apart: US citizen Lace Rodriguez re-enters the USA after visiting her husband, who was deported to Mexico

Nogales – a divided city

In May, her three-month stint in the Mexican city of Nogales comes to an end. She says the first-hand experience of day-to-day life here has been dramatic. She is skeptical about Trump’s harsh immigration policy, as she is about the construction of a “protective wall” along the US-Mexico border. The twin cities of Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico are already separated by a border fence.

“When I walk along the fence and see the crosses or photos that have been put up there, it reminds me of the wall that stood in Germany,” says Echterhoff. She does not believe that new barriers will keep people from trying to cross the border. She says that a wall would only make the situation worse in Nogales; she has no doubt about it.

 

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Nigeria moves to stop illegal emigration

Nigeria’s government is worried about clandestine migration. Unlike in Europe, the issue is not people coming in, but Nigerians leaving the country. New rules are being enacted to solve the problem.

African migrants on a rubber dinghy in the Mediterranean

On Monday, the Nigerian government presented the “Immigration Regulation 2017” in Abuja. It makes it easier for businessmen to visit the country, strengthens the defense of borders against terrorism and aims for better registration of immigrants. But both the title and the packaging hide the fact that this is far from being only about immigration. New rules for emigration are just as central to the project. To quote Nigerian Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazu: “It is an adjustment to the dynamics of modern-day’s migration realities.”

Harsh measures 

Mohammed Babandede, comptroller general of the Nigerian Immigration Service, is less inclined to mince words. “Nigeria today demonstrated it is committed to the fight against the smuggling of migrants. We are aware that a lot of our citizens are dying in the desert and the sea,” he said.

The government believes that only harsh measures will stop the dying. Accordingly, the new regulations include severe punishment for illegal migration. The old immigration law from 1963 established only modest fines of less than one euro ($1.08). New fines for infractions can go up to 3,000 euros ($2,800). Prison sentences for serious violations of the immigration law will be much longer than in the past.

Nigeria's Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazau and Comptoller General Mohammed Babandede Nigeria’s Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazau (right) and Comptroller General Mohammed Babandede presented Nigeria’s new migration policy in Abuja

Nigeria is one of the main countries of origin of illegal migration. In the last year alone, around 30,000 undocumented Nigerians crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. Hundreds die each year attempting to reach the continent. Human trafficking has tarnished Nigeria’s reputation around the globe. Current estimates point to more than 10,000 Nigerian women forced to prostitute themselves in Europe. Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari believes these numbers are a blight on his country’s reputation and has called for a coordinated strategy to fight smugglers and human traffickers.

The right of free movement

Babandede has promised to improve cooperation with Niger and other neighboring states which Nigerian emigrants cross on their way to Europe.

“If we have evidence that a migrant is planning to travel beyond Niger, we can stop him,” Babandede said.

That is the kind of measure rejected by Enira Kdrzalic, Nigeria’s chief of mission of the International Organization of Migration (IOM).

“Every single person has a right of free movement,” she told DW. That applies to all the citizens of the Economic Community of West

African refugees in Niger sit on the floor waiting for an opportunity to travel further to EuropeNigeria’s neighbor Niger is the main transit country for West African refugees

African States (ECOWAS), Kdrzalic added, before conceding that countries like Nigeria are under heavy pressure due to climbing numbers of undocumented migrants.

The European Union is seeking assurances from African states that they will take measures to stop mass migration. Countries willing to cooperate with Europe by joining so-called “migration partnerships” will be rewarded with substantial financial aid and investments. Those who refuse will face sanctions. The EU has put aside billions of euros to finance the partnerships in coming years.

Criminals will find a way

Enira Kdrzalic from the IOM believes that the failure to stop irregular emigration in Nigeria is not due to a lack of political will. Mostly, continued violations of the rules are a result of deficits in the country’s administration.

“Many agencies are operating in parallel. Much action is needed to ensure the effectiveness and coordination of their activities to avoid duplications,” Kdrzalic said.

Immigration head Babandede agreed that the new rules will not be enough if the job is not done properly.

“There must be a lot of training, attitude change and punishment of officials who compromise at the borders,” he said.

But Babandede also said that Europe must assume part of the responsibility. He called for the quick improvement of European laws regulating legal immigration for Nigerians.

“If you don’t create the opportunity for regular migration, criminal groups will provide those opportunities,” Babandede said.

Watch video03:44

Italy: Nigerian women forced into prostitution

 

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Let Bannon Be Bannon!

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Steve Bannon, the Prince of Darkness, outside the White House in February. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

I continue to worry about Steve Bannon. I see him in the White House photos, but he never has that sprightly Prince of Darkness gleam in his eye anymore.

His governing philosophy is being completely gutted by the mice around him. He seems to have a big influence on Trump speeches but zero influence on recent Trump policies. I’m beginning to fear that he’s spending his days sitting along the wall in the Roosevelt Room morosely playing one of those Risk-style global empire video games on his smartphone.

Back in the good old days — like two months ago — it was fun to watch Bannon operate. He was the guy with a coherent governing philosophy. He seemed to have realized that the two major party establishments had abandoned the working class. He also seemed to have realized that the 21st-century political debate is not big versus small government, it’s open versus closed.

Bannon had the opportunity to realign American politics around the social, cultural and economic concerns of the working class. Erect barriers to keep out aliens from abroad, and shift money from the rich to the working class to create economic security at home.

It was easy to see the Trump agenda that would flow from this philosophy: Close off trade and immigration. Fund a jobs-creating infrastructure program. Reverse the Republican desire to reform and reduce entitlements. Increase funding on all sorts of programs that benefit working-class voters in places like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Many of us wouldn’t have liked that agenda — the trade and immigration parts — but at least it would have helped the people who are being pummeled by this economy.

But Bannonesque populism is being abandoned. The infrastructure and jobs plan is being put off until next year (which is to say never). Meanwhile, the Trump administration has agreed with Paul Ryan’s crazy plan to do health care first.

Moths show greater resistance to flame than American politicians do to health care reform. And sure enough it’s become a poisonous morass for the entire party, and a complete distraction from the populist project.

Worse, the Ryan health care plan punishes the very people Trump and Bannon had vowed to help. It would raise premiums by as much as 25 percent on people between 50 and 64, one core of the Trump voter base. It would completely hammer working-class voters whose incomes put them just above the Medicaid threshold.

The Trump budget is an even more devastating assault on Bannon-style populism. It eliminates or cuts organizations like the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative that are important to people from Tennessee and West Virginia up through Ohio and Michigan. It cuts job-training and road-building programs. It does almost nothing to help expand opportunity for the working class and almost everything to serve defense contractors and the national security state.

Why is Bannonism being abandoned? One possibility is that there just aren’t enough Trumpians in the world to staff an administration, so Trump and Bannon have filled their apparatus with old guard Republicans who continue to go about their jobs in old guard pseudo-libertarian ways.

The second possibility, raised by Rich Lowry in Politico, is that the Republican sweep of 2016 was won on separate tracks. Trump won on populism, but congressional Republicans won on the standard cut-government script. The congressional Republicans are better prepared, and so their plans are crowding out anything Bannon might have contemplated.

The third possibility is that Donald Trump doesn’t really care about domestic policy; he mostly cares about testosterone.

He wants to cut any part of government that may seem soft and nurturing, like poverty programs. He wants to cut any program that might seem emotional and airy-fairy, like the National Endowment for the Arts. He wants to cut any program that might seem smart and nerdy, like the National Institutes of Health.

But he wants to increase funding for every program that seems manly, hard, muscular and ripped, like the military and armed antiterrorism programs.

Indeed, the Trump budget looks less like a political philosophy and more like a sexual fantasy. It lavishes attention on every aspect of hard power and slashes away at anything that isn’t.

The Trump health care and budget plans will be harsh on the poor, which we expected. But they’ll also be harsh on the working class, which we didn’t.

We’re ending up with the worst of the new guard Trumpian populists and the old guard Republican libertarians. We’re building walls to close off the world while also shifting wealth from the poor to the rich.

When these two plans fail, which seems very likely, there’s going to be a holy war between the White House and Capitol Hill. I don’t have high hopes for what’s going to emerge from that war, but it would be nice if the people who voted for Trump got economic support, not punishment.

For that, there’s one immediate recipe: Unleash Steve Bannon!

Trump’s immigration plans could cripple the US economy and hurt the workers he’s pledging to protect

  • Published: 24.02.2017
  • Pedro Nicolaci da Costa

President Donald Trump’s immigration plans have no basis in economic fact but are rather a cheap attempt to rally his political base.

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(Brian Snyder/Reuters)

  • Economists agree that immigration is good for the economy
  • Immigration is a source of labor-force growth, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said recently
  • The right-leaning Cato Institute says the deportation of “Dreamers” could cost $60 billion
  • Trump’s other policies could hurt US workers by making businesses less competitive

Economists disagree on a lot of issues. Immigration is not one of them.

Almost unequivocally, experts from the left and the right ends of the political spectrum see immigration as a net benefit to the economy. They cite everything from population growth to increased tax receipts to diversity of people and ideas.

That’s why it is surprising to see Wall Street analysts, who are rather intensely focused at the prospect of corporate tax cuts from President Donald Trump, largely ignore the clearly detrimental impact his immediate immigration orders are already having on economic growth.

During her congressional testimony on February 15, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen was not shy about offering a broad retort to immigration restrictions. Trump’s plans include blanket travel bans on citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations as well as orders to increase deportations at the Mexican border with still-shifting guidelines.

“Labor-force growth has been slowing in the United States,” Yellen said. “It’s one of several reasons, along with slow productivity growth, for the fact that our economy has been growing at a slow pace. Immigration has been an important source of labor-force growth. So slowing the pace of immigration probably would slow the growth rate of the economy.”

Her comments are striking because Yellen is usually careful not to discuss topics outside her monetary policy and regulation remit, lest her remarks be construed as political. But the Ph.D. economist and career central banker has a strong, bipartisan body of work to stand on.

The Center for American Progress, a liberal policy institute in Washington, estimates that a policy of mass deportation would “immediately reduce the nation’s GDP by 1.4% and ultimately by 2.6%.”

“Because capital will adjust downward to a reduction in labor — for example, farmers will scrap or sell excess equipment per remaining worker — the long-run effects are larger and amount to two-thirds of the decline experienced during the Great Recession,” the CAP report says. “Removing 7 million unauthorized workers would reduce national employment by an amount similar to that experienced during the Great Recession.”

Over 10 years, US output will have fallen $4.7 trillion short of what it might otherwise have been, CAP says. For comparison, US gross domestic product, the nation’s total spending on goods and services, stood at $18.6 trillion at the end of 2016.

Dreamers drag

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(Center for American Progress)

On the other side of the political spectrum, here’s how the libertarian Cato Institute describes the dangers of Trump’s immigration policies, which advocates fear will eventually encompass immigrants protected under President Barack Obama’s “Dreamers” program.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known better as DACA, gives certain rights, including work permits, to immigrants living in the US illegally who were brought to the US as children.

Cato estimates the budget drag from immediately deporting the approximately 750,000 people protected by DACA would be over $60 billion for the federal government. The think tank foresees a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade from the elimination of this program alone, even though it represents just a sliver of the estimated 11 million people living in the US illegally whose fates are now increasingly uncertain. Keep in mind that figure has been stable for several years, contradicting Trump’s suggestion that this is a sudden and pressing problem.

“Donald Trump has proposed eliminating or severely modifying the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program,” says Neal McCluskey, the director of Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom. “Many Americans believe that the presence of unauthorized immigrants is harmful to the economy and would like to see steps taken to reduce their presence. However, a repeal or rollback of DACA would harm the economy and cost the US government a significant amount of lost tax revenue.”

The case for immigrants

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(Pew Research Center)

But the cost of restricting immigration goes beyond the expense of deporting people on a greater scale.

Immigrants are more likely than native-born Americans to start a business. Some 24.3% of US engineering and technology startup companies and 43.9% of those based in Silicon Valley in recent years were founded by immigrants, according to a 2012 study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Local economies also tend to derive a perceptible boost from bursts of immigration. Businesses near the border stand to lose the most, and some communities — like Rutland, Vermont — are even making refugee resettlement part of their economic policy. The logic is simple enough: Refugees will reverse the population drain on the town as its younger residents move away and its older residents phase out of the workforce.

Some US real-estate markets, as Trump would well know, are also dependent on foreign demand. Even if his immigration policies don’t target these specific buyers, the hostility toward outsiders is turning them away.

Fear surrounding Trump’s aggressive anti-immigrant positions is already depressing the US real-estate market, Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson told Bloomberg television on Thursday, citing the large sums invested in the market from foreign buyers who had become reluctant to own property in the US.

Hurting constituents

Trump’s policy proposals thus far are also likely to hurt the constituency he promised to help: voters in economically depressed manufacturing and farming regions.

On manufacturing, Trump’s bluster about striking major deals with specific firms like Carrier is a sideshow. The number of jobs created in each instance is paltry, but pressure to keep jobs in the US will raise costs for US firms.

That makes them less competitive, actually endangering the well-paying jobs that do remain in the US and speeding up the automation of industries that can turn to robots instead of foreign labor.

Trump’s proposed offset is to levy a tax on imports, but that creates a whole other set of problems.

Many technology firms, a major source of American corporate strength, are actively fighting Trump’s immigration measures for concern they will narrow the pool of available talent. In farming, Trump’s popularity is already withering, because many agricultural businesses were in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement with 11 other nations including Japan, Canada, and Mexico. The construction industry, heavily reliant on undocumented labor, could suffer worker shortages if Trump’s measures are strictly enforced.

Whether the federal government has the resources to process all these deportations is another major uncertainty hanging over the proposed program.

It’s the politics, stupid

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(Bloomberg News)

Beyond the financial effects, it would be callous to ignore the tremendous human toll that extreme uncertainty about a more militant anti-immigration policy puts on families that are potentially affected by them. Many of those living in the US illegally have been in the country for decades, sometimes generations. They have American children and deep cultural and professional ties to the US. Wide-ranging legal challenges to Trump’s policies only deepen the foreboding sense of a looming unknown.

The fear factor that begins with Mexicans and other Latin-American immigrants is already sending a chill through other communities, particularly those made up of Muslims, who have faced increased discrimination since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Trump critics are warning, rightly, that America should not forget the stain on its democratic history represented by the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Given how flagrantly ill-advised Trump’s immigration stance is, even from the perspective of helping the disaffected workers he promises to represent, why is he sticking to it?

In this case, politics trumps economics, in spades. The reality-TV host turned president is merely pandering to the very base, which includes a significant racist element, that helped launch his campaign. Recall that his opening salvo for the 2016 election was a baseless, broad-brush attack on Mexico in which he mentioned the country 13 times, saying those who cross the southern border are “bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime — they’re rapists.”

For a president who fancies himself a dealmaker, such brutish language is hardly an adequate starting point for good relations with a neighbor and longtime ally whose relationship with the US wasn’t always so friendly.

As Tensions Over Immigration Rise, Paul Ryan Visits Border

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Paul Ryan Visits US, Mexico Border 1:42

House Speaker Paul Ryan made his first ever trip to the U.S.-Mexico border Wednesday as tensions over immigration policies mount and the initial work towards construction of President Trump’s wall is set to begin. He and House Homeland Security chair Michael McCaul and a handful of other GOP members toured the Rio Grande river on horseback and via air.

Ryan didn’t take the press with him on his trip to McAllen, Texas but he was led by officials from the Department of Homeland Security “to examine the challenges of securing the border and learn more about the issues facing border communities,” according to Ryan spokesman Doug Andres.

“When you see with your own eyes the many challenges facing our law enforcement professionals along the border, it gives you even greater respect for the work that they do day-in and day-out,” Ryan said in a statement after his tour. “But more tools and more support are needed for them to do their jobs effectively. Congress is committed to securing the border and enforcing our laws, and together with the Trump administration, we will get this done.”

President Donald Trump has repeatedly pledged to build a wall along the Mexico border, a multi-billion dollar project that will have to be approved by Congress. Ryan said that he expects the White House to send an emergency funding request to Congress to begin the construction of the wall soon, but the administration has yet to request federal funding as of Wednesday.

Immigration advocates, however, are worried that Ryan won’t receive a full understanding of border town challenges because he’s not scheduled to meet with border residents. Chris Rickerd, policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, said that Democratic members of Congress visited McAllen last week and held town halls with residents.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear Speaker Ryan and Rep. McCaul are interested in hearing from people living at the border,”Rickerd said.

Ryan’s trip also comes as the Trump administration’s immigration policies continue to draw protests around the country. The administration this week released two orders that greatly expand the number of people targeted for deportation. Some estimates show that up to eight million of the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S. could be deported.

The orders also attempt to restrict the ability to seek asylum and crack down on parents who pay smugglers to bring their children into the U.S., as some Central American parents have done.

In 2016, McAllen saw an increase in the number of unaccompanied children and families attempting to enter the U.S.

Related: Trump Enforcement Plan Has Immigrants Bracing for Raids, Deportation

While most Democratic members of Congress, mayors and governors immediately panned the immigration orders, saying they will divide communities, jeopardize people’s safety and cause immigrants to live in fear, many Republicans applauded the move.

Ryan, however, has not released a statement on the orders. Neither has the top Republican in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Ryan had previously dismissed the idea of mass deportation, saying in a CNN town hall event on January 12 that there will be no deportation force.

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Fact check: Could Trump’s new immigration policy spur mass deportations? 2:36

“I’m here to tell you, in Congress, it’s not happening,” he said. “But if you’re worried about, you know, some deportation force coming, knocking on your door this year, don’t worry about that.”

Just last week, McConnell was reluctant to answer any questions about the draft immigration proposals that had been leaked to the press.

“I’ll take a look at anything they may choose to do in that regard,” he said in a news conference Friday.

Most Democrats have been highly critical of the new immigration orders. Rep. Bennie Thompson, top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, called the orders “unwise and heartless.”

“Resources are not unlimited: when available resources are used to detain and remove law-abiding immigrants and break apart families, there are less resources to find and remove dangerous criminals from our streets,” Thompson said.

Also notable is that two Hispanic Republican members of Congress, Rep. Ileanna Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, both of Florida, have yet to issue statements on the orders.

On ‘Day Without Immigrants,’ Washington DC learns exactly what immigrants do

The restaurant industry in the US runs on immigrants. But it remains to be seen if those in power even noticed or cared on the day the immigrants left.

USA Day Without Immigrants-Protest in Washington (picture alliance/AP Photo/J. Luis Magana)

It was high noon in Washington, DC—prime lunch time—but instead of the usual crush of office workers buzzing about the sidewalks in search of food, a curious sight greeted onlookers: closed restaurants, dark sandwich shops and shuttered restaurant chains dotted the streets.

USA Protest und Streik in Washington (DW/M. Shwayder)Washington DC restaurant Aperto posted signs in solidarity with its striking employees

While thousands of immigrants were striking from work and taking to the streets to protest the anti-immigrant rhetoric and executive actions of US President Donald Trump, the jobs they normally occupied still needed doing. One of the most noticeable areas where immigrants occupy a great deal of the jobs in the United States is in the restaurant industry.

At District Commons, a sit-down restaurant near The George Washington University in downtown DC, the lunch hour was jammed with people as usual, but without around two-thirds of the usual staff on hand. John Hendrix, the manager of District Commons, said his beverage manager was acting as a host, the owners were in the back helping with dishes, and everyone was learning how to do new jobs on the spot. The restaurant printed out special menus for the day, reflecting the limited options the kitchen was offering because they were short-staffed.

“Our staff is more than two-thirds immigrants,” Hendrix told DW. “They are the backbone of this industry, without a doubt.”

John Zittrauer, the manager of Burger Tap & Shake, a local DC chain of fast-food burger restaurants, was similarly slammed at lunch, and similarly short-staffed. “I was on trash, I was bar backing,” he told DW. “I have immigrants in the kitchen, bussing tables, running food to the tables. They’re the lifeblood of the restaurant. It was intense during the lunch pop we had,” Zittrauer said, referring to the increase in activity in the joint during the lunch hours. “I wouldn’t want to work like this regularly.”

Hendrix also said that since Trump’s election, he had seen the levels of fear in his staff increase. “The fear was non-existent before,” he said, “and now everyone has a legitimate fear of being sent back to a place where they don’t want to go.” He added that he had a young woman on staff who was in the country illegally, and who had just joined the Navy ROTC at her university to try to find a path to citizenship. “These are serious, life-changing decisions people are making based on fear,” he said.

USA Protest und Streik in Washington (DW/M. Shwayder)Customers packed in to the short-staffed Burger Tap & Shake for the lunch rush

Luigi Diotaiuti, the head chef and manager at Aperto, an upscale Italian restaurant, said he chose to keep his restaurant open on Thursday, because he couldn’t afford to close. Dioaiuti, himself an immigrant from Italy, did say that several of his employees also chose to strike today, and despite being open, the restaurant hung signs in the window expressing their support.

“We are all immigrants,” said Dioaiuti of his restaurant, which he chose not to close on Thursday, because he said he couldn’t afford it. “We all are, from the owner on down. It’s a fact, if you stop all immigrants from coming to this country, the agriculture, the hotels, the construction, the restaurants, the cleaning businesses will stop.”

But even if all those industries ground to a halt, would Trump or his supporters even care?

“I’m hoping that with our address on Pennsylvania Avenue, or on K Street where there are so many lobbyists, that it was more difficult for people to eat, so that would affect them, and it would be noticed,” said Zittrauer, referred to the street where the White House is also located. “But I’m not optimistic.”

Watch video02:28

USA: Undocumented immigrants fear for future (24.12.16)

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