Thursday, February 22, 2018

Legal status of Melania Trump's parents raises questions about 'chain migration'

Good Morning America KATHERINE FAULDERS and DEVIN DWYER,Good Morning America 4 hours ago

  • Legal status of Melania Trump's parents raises questions about 'chain migration' (ABC News)

As President Donald Trump calls for an end to immigration to the U.S. based on extended family ties, the legal status of his mother and father-in-law faces new scrutiny as they move closer toward naturalization and U.S. citizenship.

First Lady Melania Trump's parents Viktor and Amalija Knavs are permanent residents of the United States after emigrating from Slovenia, according to their lawyer Michael Wildes.

“I can confirm that Mrs. Trump’s parents are both lawfully admitted to the United States as permanent residents,” Wildes said in a statement to ABC News. “The family, as they are not part of the administration, has asked that their privacy be respected so I will not comment further on this matter.”

PHOTO: Viktor and Amalija Knavs, the parents of Melania Trump, step off Air Force One upon arrival at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla., March 17, 2017. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Wildes would not say how the Knavses received green cards to live and work in the U.S.

Immigration experts say the most likely way the Knavses could have become permanent residents is through their daughter’s citizenship — a process the president has referred to as "chain migration".

“The most obvious way that they would have become green card holders is by being the parents of a U.S. citizen – i.e. Melania Trump,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration professor at Cornell Law School.

The Knavses theoretically could have applied for green cards through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program or through an employee sponsorship, but that is unlikely Yale-Loehr says, as they are retired and 65 percent of green cards are given out through various family programs.

According to public records, Melania's sister Ines Knauss lives in New York City, but it's not clear whether she was sponsored by her sister and Wildes declined to comment on the matter.

The likelihood that the Knavses received legal status based on their family ties cuts against President Trump's desire to end the practice in favor of immigration by merit and skill basis.

“Restricting family migration in certain ways, including to prohibit parents of U.S. citizens from emigrating to the U.S. – if that had been law, Melania Trump’s parents would not be able to emigrate to the United States,” Yale Loehr said.

Trump has long said one of the goals of the administration's proposed immigration reform plan is to "end chain migration," the term critics of the current system use to describe the process by which American citizens sponsor their relatives for immigration to the U.S.

PHOTO: Melania Trump listens to President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks while hosting a reception in honor of National African American History Month, in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 13, 2018. (Michael Reynolds/EPA via Shutterstock)

"Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited number of distant relatives," Trump claimed during his State of the Union address last month.

This claim isn't accurate, however. Citizens and green card holders can petition for certain immediate family members, but it's not feasible to admit an unlimited number of family members, according to an ABC News fact check of those comments.

Wildes declined to comment further on the matter. A spokesperson for the First Lady declined to comment to ABC News.

The news was first reported by the Washington Post

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Fire District 2’s referenda heats up

Below is a sign in neighboring McHenry County regarding Boone County’s Fire District employees.  Needless to say the sign is outside Stark’s Trucking.  Mr. Stark is an appointed trustee for Fire District 2 and his son is a elected member of the Boone County Board.

REMEMBER TO VOTE on March 20, 2018


Remember to Vote .  Early voting is occurring at the Boone County Administrative Building,


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Trump Reneging on Budget Compromise?

Trump's budget will ask Congress not to spend all the money from cap-busting spending deal

Gregory Korte, USA TODAY Published 2:17 p.m. ET Feb. 11, 2018 | Updated 5:17 p.m. ET Feb. 11, 2018

The House has narrowly passed a sweeping bipartisan budget accord, ending an hours-long government shutdown and clearing a path for huge spending increases for both the Pentagon and domestic programs. The Senate passed the measure earlier Friday. (Feb. 9) AP


(Photo: Alex Brandon, AP)


WASHINGTON — The 2019 budget that President Trump will send to Congress Monday will attempt to "bend the trajectory down" on trillion-dollar budget deficits — even after Trump agreed to eliminate the spending caps in a budget deal last week, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said Sunday.

"Just because this deal was signed does not mean the future is written in stone. We do have a chance still to change this trajectory and that's what the budget will show," Mulvaney told Fox News Sunday.

Trump's second budget proposal, to be released Monday, could be among the most important policy blueprints of his administration. His first budget proposal, coming just weeks into his administration, was portrayed largely as a placeholder — despite its proposals for deep cuts in domestic spending.

But now, Trump's 2019 budget has been overtaken by events even before it's off the printing press. 

Mulvaney's office has been working for months based on the assumption that spending caps first imposed in the 2011 Budget Control Act would remain intact. With those assumptions now blown up, budget drafters scrambled over the weekend to update to its budget requests for this year and the next.

The budget deal Trump signed on Friday aborted an overnight shutdown by authorizing nearly $400 billion in additional spending over the next 19 months: $163 billion Republicans wanted for the military, $130 billion Democrats wanted for domestic spending, and $100 billion for emergencies.

Trump said Friday he was forced to agree to those terms "in order to finally, after many years of depletion, take care of our military."

Mulvaney's comments Sunday could be seen as a White House attempt to reneg on that compromise, but the budget director emphasized that the compromise doesn't directly spend any money beyond the next six weeks.

Congress has already passed five short-term spending bills in the 2018 fiscal year. It will have to pass another by March 23 to keep the government open through Sept. 30.

"What we're doing is, is saying, look, you don't have to spend all of this money. These are spending caps. They're not spending floors. So, you don't have to spend all that," Mulvaney said.

Last year, Trump proposed the elimination of 62 specific government programs. But the inability of Congress to agree on a long-term spending bill resulted in short-term measures that largely put spending on auto-pilot.

Trump will also include a number of policy proposals in the budget, including:

Infrastructure: The budget will lay out details of how Trump wants to spend his proposed $200 billion infrastructure package. Trump will highlight that proposal Monday in a meeting at the White House with state and local officials.

Civil Service: Trump wants to overhaul the federal workforce by giving Cabinet secretaries the power to fire poor performers and reward their best employees with bonuses.

Drug prices: The administration will make several modest proposals to curb prescription drug prices. A report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers Friday recommends changing some Medicaid rules on rebates for low-income patients, reclassifying drug therapies administered in the doctor's office, increasing the leverage insurance companies have to negotiate drug prices, and enhancing competition.

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

VOX Exclusive: Trump’s draft plan to punish legal immigrants for sending US-born kids to Head Start Or getting insured through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or getting assistance to heat their homes.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Trump administration is working on new rules that would allow the government to keep immigrants from settling in the US, or even force them to leave, if their families had used a broad swath of local, state, or federal social services to which they’re legally entitled — even enrolling their US-born children in Head Start or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

A draft of the new regulation, posted first by Vox, can be found at the bottom of this article or on DocumentCloud. (If the DocumentCloud link does not work for you, here is a direct link to the PDF.) Reuters originally reported on the existence of the draft regulation Thursday.

The rule wouldn’t make it illegal for immigrants to use public services that are open to everyone regardless of immigration status, or that are available to their US-born children. But it would make it possible for the government to deny their applications for a new type of visa, or a green card, if they’d used those services. In other words, it could force them to choose between taking advantage of available social services, and their family’s future ability to stay in the United States permanently.

If approved and finalized, the regulation would vastly expand the federal government’s power to bar an immigrant from entering the United States, obtaining a new visa, or becoming a lawful permanent resident (green-card holder) by labeling the immigrant a likely “public charge.”

Right now, the government can only consider use of cash benefits, like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, in “public charge” determinations. The Trump administration wants to give officials the power to look at use of other benefits as well, including:

  • some “educational benefits,” including use of Head Start for children
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • use of any subsidies, or purchase of subsidized insurance, under the Affordable Care Act
  • food stamps
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) assistance
  • Housing benefits, like Section 8
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • transit vouchers

Using any of these for more than six months in the last two years (before applying for a different visa or a green card) would be considered a “heavily weighted” strike against the immigrant. (That strike could be canceled out if an immigrant was making more than 250 percent of the federal poverty level when applying for the new visa or green card — which, for a family of 4 in 2017, was $60,750.)

Government officials already have a lot of discretion in who gets labeled a public charge, and use of public services is supposed to be only one factor among many. But the Trump administration’s desire to expand it so radically indicates that they do, in fact, plan to reject visa or green card applications based on use of non-cash services and health insurance subsidies.

Immigrants can get out of being considered a “public charge” if they have someone willing to sign an “affidavit of support” promising to support them at 125 percent of the federal poverty level. But the government doesn’t have to agree to admit someone, or give them a green card, based on that affidavit.

The draft would allow an immigrant one other way to get out of a “public charge” bar: paying at least $10,000 in bond. But the Department of Homeland Security would have the power to decide whether to allow an immigrant to post bond. And if the immigrant used any public benefits in the five years after posting the bond, they’d forfeit the whole $10,000.

Not every immigrant has to pass the “public charge” test — refugees and asylees, for example, are exempt both when they come to the US and if they apply for green cards after that. But most immigrants who get green cards do have to pass. According to calculations from Reuters, nearly 383,000 of the immigrants who got green cards in 2016 were subject to the test.

The version Vox obtained, dated February 6, was circulated to Department of Homeland Security employees. The document as obtained by Vox includes pages 1-2 of the document, and the regulatory text (starting at page 228); it does not include the 225-page preamble originally included with the draft.

It has not yet been approved by L. Francis Cissna, the director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (which regulates legal immigration to the United States). Sources believe that the regulation is being drafted quickly and could be sent to the Office of Management and Budget for validation as soon as March.


See the rest of this document by clicking on the following:

Sunday, February 4, 2018

U.S. department store chain Bon-Ton files for bankruptcy

Bergner’s and Carson’s parent in bankruptcy.  In additional to the local store in Cherry Valley there is a distribution center in Rockford.

Reuters Staff

  • (Reuters) - Bon-Ton Stores Inc said on Sunday it filed for bankruptcy protection to restructure its debt and explore a potential sale, making it the first major U.S. brick-and-mortar retailer to do so this year.

    The York, Pennsylvania-based department store operator, which has about 260 stores, listed assets in the range of $50,001 to $100,000 and liabilities in the range of $500 million to $1 million, according to a Chapter 11 filing with the Delaware bankruptcy court.

    Department store operators have been struggling to fend off online sellers like Inc as shoppers increasingly choose to shop over the internet and mall foot traffic declines.

    Last year, more than 15 U.S. retailers filed for bankruptcy, the most in six years, as consumers moved more of their shopping online.

    During the court-supervised process, Bon-Ton plans to continue operating in the normal course, it said.

    Bon-Ton said it received a commitment of up to $725 million in debtor-in-possession financing from its existing ABL lenders to support its operations.

    The company reiterated it would shutter 47 stores across the country, with the bulk concentrated in Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

    “We are currently engaged in discussions with potential investors and our debtholders on a financial restructuring plan,” Chief Executive Bill Tracy said in a statement.

    Bon-Ton said its stores, e-commerce and mobile platforms under the Bon-Ton, Bergner‘s, Boston Store, Carson‘s, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s and Younkers nameplates are open and operating as usual.

    AlixPartners LLP is serving as restructuring adviser and PJT Partners Inc is acting as financial adviser, the company said.

    Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier

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    Department store chain Bon-Ton files for bankruptcy protection

    • Bon-Ton Stores files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
    • The retailer will explore strategic alternatives, which include a sale of the company.
    • Bon-Ton is in the midst of closing more than 40 stores across the U.S.

    Lauren Thomas | @laurenthomasx3

    Published 5 Hours Ago Updated 2 Hours Ago

    A Bon-Ton store in South Portland, Maine.

    Derek Davis | Portland Press Herald | Getty Images

    A Bon-Ton store in South Portland, Maine.

    Bon-Ton Stores has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the largest retailer to do so this year.

    The regional department store chain, which has dual headquarters in Milwaukee and York, Pennsylvania, has been burdened with massive debt as it struggles to grow sales and move operations online in the face of Amazon.

    Bon-Ton said Sunday it received a commitment of as much as $725 million in financing from existing lenders to support its operations.

    "During this court-supervised process, we plan to continue operating in the normal course and executing on our key initiatives to drive improved performance," CEO Bill Tracy said in a statement.

    The company, which operates about 260 retail locations, recently laid out plans to shutter more than 40 stores across the U.S. under its various banners (i.e. Carson's, Elder-Beerman, Herberger's and Younkers).

    "We are currently engaged in discussions with potential investors and our debtholders on a financial restructuring plan," Tracy said.

    While under bankruptcy protection, Bon-Ton said it will also explore strategic alternatives, including a sale of the company or assets as a part of the reorganization plan. The process will also make it easier for Bon-Ton to renegotiate its leases or ask for rent reductions.

    The department store chain recently reported a dismal holiday season, despite many of its peers, including J.C. Penney, Kohl's and Macy's, doing well against a strong economic backdrop.

    Bon-Ton has said it plans to invest more in private-label brands, refreshing the overall store layout, ditching excess inventory and strengthening its e-commerce business.

    "The harsh reality is that while Bon-Ton's management put in great effort to make the business sustainable, they were always running up a down escalator," GlobalData Retail managing director Neil Saunders said.

    "A scaled-down business may have a chance of survival," Saunders said. But Bon-Ton must resolve the fact that its products are "undifferentiated, unclear and have become increasingly irrelevant to consumers."

    More than 20 retailers, including Toys R Us, Hhgregg, Gymboree and RadioShack, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2017. And with another load of retail debt coming due this year, several others could do so.

    Lauren Thomas

    Lauren ThomasRetail Reporter

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    China launches dumping probe into U.S. sorghum imports amid rising trade tension

    Reuters Reuters 17 hours ago

    By Dominique Patton

    BEIJING (Reuters) - China has launched an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into imports of sorghum from the United States, the Ministry of Commerce said on Sunday, less than a fortnight after U.S. President Donald Trump slapped steep tariffs on imports of solar panels and washing machines.

    Beijing's action is expected to immediately hit demand for the upcoming U.S. sorghum crop, exports of which are largely used to feed China's huge livestock sector, and send shivers through the entire U.S. farm sector.

    China is the top buyer of U.S. sorghum as well as soybeans, the United States' most valuable export to the world's No. 2 economy.

    "I personally believe this is China's response to Trump's action on washing machines," said Li Qiang, chief analyst at agriculture consultancy Shanghai JC Intelligence Co Ltd.

    "If he takes any further measures, they will consider soybeans," he added.

    The U.S. shipped 4.76 million tonnes of sorghum to China in 2017, the bulk of China's roughly 5 million tonnes of imports of the grain that year, and worth around $1.1 billion, according to Chinese customs data.

    That makes it almost twice as valuable as exports of Chinese aluminium alloy sheet to the U.S., also subject to recent trade action by Washington, which is being seen as another possible trigger for Beijing's move.

    Like the U.S. aluminium investigation, China's commerce ministry investigation into sorghum was self-initiated.

    The ministry said it had initiated the investigation because the local industry included a large number of small growers who were unable to prepare the necessary documentation.

    Preliminary evidence and information found that imported sorghum from the U.S. had been exported at a lower than normal value, it said, damaging local producers.

    The trade action comes a year after Beijing slapped hefty anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on imports of distillers dried grains (DDGS) from the U.S., another product used as a feed ingredient, although it recently reduced VAT on DDGS imports.

    Exports of U.S. soybeans to China are also under pressure from stiff competition from rival exporter Brazil, with export sales hitting a seven-month low last week.

    The investigation into sorghum dumping will be carried out for the period from Nov. 1, 2016 until Oct. 31, 2017, while an investigation of industrial injury will be from Jan. 1, 2013 until Oct. 31, 2017, said the commerce ministry statement.

    The investigation should be complete by Feb. 4, 2019, it said, but can be extended until Aug. 4, 2019.

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    Saturday, February 3, 2018

    The U.S. government is set to borrow nearly $1 trillion this year, an 84 percent jump from last year

    The U.S. government is set to borrow nearly $1 trillion this year, an 84 percent jump from last year

    By Heather Long

    February 3, 2018 at 7:00 AM

    The National Debt Clock in New York City is shown last November. The total is about $100 billion higher now. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters).

    It was another crazy news week, so it's understandable if you missed a small but important announcement from the Treasury Department: The federal government is on track to borrow nearly $1 trillion this fiscal year — Trump's first full year in charge of the budget.

    That's almost double what the government borrowed in fiscal year 2017.

    Here are the exact figures: The U.S. Treasury expects to borrow $955 billion this fiscal year, according to a documents released Wednesday. It's the highest amount of borrowing in six years, and a big jump from the $519 billion the federal government borrowed last year.

    Treasury mainly attributed the increase to the “fiscal outlook.” The Congressional Budget Office was more blunt. In a report this week, the CBO said tax receipts are going to be lower because of the new tax law.

    President Trump said during a Jan. 18 speech in Coraopolis, Pa., that Republicans’ tax overhaul is already benefiting the U.S. economy. Here are his full remarks. (The Washington Post)

    The uptick in borrowing is yet another complication in the heated debates in Congress over whether to spend more money on infrastructure, the military, disaster relief and other domestic programs. The deficit is already up significantly, even before Congress allots more money to any of these areas.

    “We're addicted to debt,” says Marc Goldwein, senior policy director at Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. He blames both parties for the situation.

    What's particularly jarring is this is the first time borrowing has jumped this much (as a share of GDP) in a non-recession time since Ronald Reagan was president, says Ernie Tedeschi, a former senior adviser to the U.S. Treasury who is now head of fiscal analysis at Evercore ISI. Under Reagan, borrowing spiked because of a buildup in the military, something Trump is advocating again.

    Trump didn't mention the debt — or the ongoing budget deficits — in his State of the Union address. The absence of any mention of the national debt was frustrating for Goldwein and others who warn that America has a major economic problem looming.

    “It is terrible. Those deficits and the debt that keeps rising is a serious problem, not only in the long run, but right now,” Harvard economist Martin Feldstein, a former Reagan adviser, told Bloomberg.

    A strong jobs report and disappointing earnings slammed Wall Street on Feb. 2. The Dow suffered its worst percentage drop since June 2016. (Reuters)

    The White House got a taste of just how problematic this debt situation could get this week. Investors are concerned about all the additional borrowing and the likelihood of higher inflation, which is why the interest rates on U.S. government bonds hit the highest level since 2014. That, in turn, partly drove the worst weekly sell-off in the stock market in two years.

    The belief in Washington and on Wall Street has long been that the U.S. government could just keep issuing debt because people around the world are eager to buy up this safe-haven asset. But there may be a limit to how much the market wants, especially if inflation starts rising and investors prefer to ditch bonds for higher-returning stocks.

    “Some of my Wall Street clients are starting to talk recession in 2019 because of these issues. Fiscal policy is just out of control,” says Peter Davis, a former tax economist in Congress who now runs Davis Capital Investment Ideas.

    The Federal Reserve was also buying a lot of U.S. Treasury debt since the crisis, helping to beef up demand. But the Fed recently decided to stop doing that now that the economy has improved. It's another wrinkle as Treasury has to look for new buyers.

    Tedeschi, the former Treasury adviser to the Obama administration, calls it “concerning, but not a crisis.” Still, he says it's a “big risk” to plan on borrowing so much in the coming years.

    Trump's Treasury forecasts borrowing over $1 trillion in 2019 and over $1.1 trillion in 2020. Before taking office, Trump described himself as the “king of debt,” although he campaigned on reducing the national debt.

    The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget predicts the U.S. deficit will hit $1 trillion by 2019 and stay there for a while. The latest borrowing figure — $955 billion — released this week was determined from a survey of bond market participants, who tend to be even faster to react to the changing policy landscape and change their forecasts.

    Both parties claim they want to be “fiscally responsible,” but Goldwein says they both pass legislation that adds to the debt. Politicians argue this is the last time they'll pass a bill that makes the deficit worse, but so far, they just keep going.

    The latest example of largesse is the GOP tax bill. It's expected to add $1 trillion or more to the debt, according to nonpartisan analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation (and yes, that's after accounting for some increased economic growth).

    But even before that, Goldwein points to the 2015 extension of many tax cuts and the 2014 delays in Medicare reimbursement cuts.

    “Every time you feed your addiction, you grow your addiction,” says Goldwein.

    There doesn't seem to be any appetite for budgetary restraint in Washington, but the market may force Congress' hand.

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