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McConnell calls for bipartisan U.S. immigration legislation

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McConnell calls for bipartisan U.S. immigration legislation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday opened the door to addressing the nation’s immigration problems through bipartisan legislation that he said should include changes to asylum law.

FILE PHOTO – U.S. ‪Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) leads a news conference after the weekly Republican Party caucus luncheons at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Speaking to reporters before the start of a two-week Senate recess, McConnell noted the “crisis” at the southern border with Mexico and said, “I think it’s long past due for us to sit down on a bipartisan basis and try to fix as much of this problem as we can.”

With the numbers of Central American migrants surging at the U.S.-Mexico border, President Donald Trump earlier this year declared a national emergency. That, he argued, would allow him to take federal funds and use them to build a wall to repel undocumented immigrants. He took the step after Congress refused to give him $5.7 billion for the construction.

But McConnell said that bolstering border security would not fully address immigration ills.

“That doesn’t solve the asylum issue. That can’t be solved I don’t think without some kind of statutory adjustment of some kind or another,” McConnell said.

Asked whether he has spoken to Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer about working on a wide-ranging immigration bill, McConnell said, “Well yeah. We’re talking about a variety of different things and we’ll see what happens.”

Schumer aides were not immediately available for comment. Earlier in the day at a news conference, Schumer did not list immigration as one of the issues he thought could be addressed by the Senate this year.

U.S. officers arrested or denied entry to over 103,000 people along the border with Mexico in March, a 35 percent increase over the prior month and more than twice as many as the same period last year, according to data released on Tuesday.

‘A PARTICULARLY DIFFICULT AREA’

The Trump administration and leading Senate Republicans have called for moving Central American asylum cases more quickly through the legal system and setting an easier standard for deportations.

But toughening U.S. asylum law is likely to face stiff opposition from Democrats in Congress and from immigration advocacy groups.

Democrat Chris Coons, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversees immigration policy, earlier this week said it was “unlikely” he would support such changes to asylum law.

“But I’m always willing to hear constructive ideas and proposals. That is a particularly difficult area,” Coons said in a brief interview outside the Senate chamber.

Asked what other immigration problems could be addressed in a bipartisan negotiation, McConnell did not specify saying, “That’s what a negotiation produces, some kind of understanding of how many of these different issues you can get agreement to solve.”

At the top of Democrats’ list is providing permanent legal protections from deportation for hundreds of thousands of “dreamers.” They are undocumented immigrant youths who were brought to the United States when they were under the age of 18, many as infants or toddlers.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, also in hallway interviews this week, said he has asked the White House to provide detailed changes it would want in asylum legislation.

“They were supposed to get it to me last week. I don’t know what has happened,” said Graham, who has developed close ties to Trump.

Gregory Chen, director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said that instead of toughening U.S. asylum law, Congress and the Trump administration should invest in more orderly screening of undocumented immigrants and improve infrastructure at ports of entry.

Asked whether asylum law also needs to be changed, Chen said, “In a word, no. We already have very strict and narrow definitions” of who should qualify.

Altering it in the way some Republicans are discussing, Chen said in a phone interview this week, could put migrant children in jeopardy if they are sent back to their native countries, some of which have the highest levels of violent crime in the world.

Reporting by Richard Cowan and Patricia Zengerle; editing by Dan Grebler and Bill Berkrot

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Trump sues to block Democrats’ subpoena for financial information

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Republican convention set for August 2020 in Charlotte

Lawyers for President Trump on Monday sued to block a subpoena issued by members of Congress that sought the business magnate’s financial records.

The complaint named Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democratic chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Peter Kenny, the chief investigative counsel of the House committee, as its plaintiffs.

“We will not allow Congressional Presidential harassment to go unanswered,” said Jay Sekulow, counsel to the president.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

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Congressman Moulton enters Democratic 2020 presidential race

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Congressman Moulton enters Democratic 2020 presidential race

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Representative Seth Moulton entered the 2020 Democratic presidential race on Monday as a long-shot contender in a contest that now includes almost 20 candidates.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA) speaks at a Merrimack County Democrats Summer Social at the Swett home in Bow, New Hampshire, U.S., July 28, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

A 40-year-old Iraq War veteran who represents a district in Massachusetts, Moulton enters the race as an underdog, with little national name recognition and a shorter track record than some rivals who have spent years in the U.S. Senate or as state governors.

Moulton has built a political career by challenging the party’s establishment. He entered Congress in 2015 after winning a Democratic primary challenge against John Tierney, who had held the seat for 18 years.

After Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, Moulton helped organize opposition to Representative Nancy Pelosi’s bid to again become Speaker of the House.

He ended his opposition to Pelosi with a statement saying: “Tough conversations make us stronger, not weaker, and we need to keep having them if we’re going to deliver on the change that we’ve promised the American people.”

In a YouTube video announcing his presidential candidacy, he said: “Decades of division and corruption have broken our democracy and robbed Americans of their voice.”

“While our country marches forward, Washington is anchored in the past,” he said.

In the video, Moulton said he wants to tackle climate change and grow the U.S. economy by promoting green jobs as well as high tech and advanced manufacturing.

Moulton served in the Marines from 2001 to 2008. During his 2014 congressional bid, he became a vocal critic of the Iraq War in which he served, saying no more troops should be deployed to the country.

He has advocated stricter gun laws, saying military-style weapons should not be owned by civilians.

Moulton supports the legalization of marijuana and told Boston public radio station WGBH in 2016 that he had smoked pot while in college.

He graduated from Harvard University with an undergraduate degree in physics in 2001 and returned to receive a master’s degree in business and public policy in 2011.

For a graphic of the 2020 presidential candidates, see: tmsnrt.rs/2Ff62ZC

Reporting by Ginger Gibson; additional reporting by Rich McKay; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Jonathan Oatis, Kirsten Donovan and David Gregorio

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Trump sues to block subpoena for financial information

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Trump sues to block subpoena for financial information

U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One as they travel to Florida for Easter weekend, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Al Drago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday sued to block a subpoena issued by the Democratic chairman of the U.S. House Oversight Committee that sought information about his and his businesses’ finances.

“Chairman Cummings’ subpoena is invalid and unenforceable because it has no legitimate legislative purpose,” lawyers for Trump and the Trump Organization said in court filing.

Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Tim Ahmann

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