By Ted Hesson | 05/19/2017 10:00 AM EDT
With help from Marianne LeVine, Mel Leonor and Ian Kullgren
BORDER WALL FIGHT, ROUND TWO: President Donald Trump plans to request $2.6 billion in new funding for border security in his fiscal year 2018 budget, The New York Times' Alan Rappeport reported Thursday night. The president is expected to send his budget proposal to Congress on Tuesday, but some details have begun to emerge. Of funds requested for border security, $1.6 billion would go toward a wall on the southern border. The money would be used for construction of a levee wall in the Rio Grande Valley and to replace existing border fence in the areas around El Paso and San Diego, according to the Times.
The rest of the border funding - $1 billion - would go to planning more wall and other security measures, the Times reports. An official from the Office of Management and Budget told the Times that the wall wouldn't stretch across the entire border. "There are places where it doesn't make sense," the official said. As part of the border plan, the president also intends to request funds for aircraft, cameras, sensors and other technology.
The budget proposal shows Trump isn't ready to abandon one of his central campaign promises, despite failing to get any border wall funding in a spending deal inked earlier this month. It's possible the $2.6 billion figure represents downsized expectations, too. Back in March, Trump's budget director Mick Mulvaney said they wanted that much for the wall alone. More from the Times here.
PAID LEAVE FOR EVERYONE? The president's budget will also require states to offer paid family leave programs, the Associated Press reported Thursday, citing a senior budget official. "The official said the budget - set to be released Tuesday - will include a plan to provide six weeks of paid leave to new mothers, fathers and adoptive parents," writes the AP's Catherine Lucey. "Under the plan, states would be required to provide leave payments through existing unemployment insurance programs and would have to identify cuts or tax hikes, as needed, to cover the costs."
"The administration said this approach would give states flexibility and stressed that the administration would provide support to state governments to help them determine how to fund the program," Lucey reports. "States could opt out if they created a different paid leave system." As the AP points out, Democrats have suggested funding paid family leave through other avenues, including taxes on the wealthy. More here.
CUTS IN FEDERAL EMPLOYEE BENEFITS? Meanwhile, Trump's budget will also propose reductions to federal employee retirement benefits, which has federal worker unions stewing, the Washington Post reports.
GOOD MORNING. It's Friday, May 19, and this is Morning Shift, POLITICO's daily tipsheet on employment and immigration policy. Send tips, exclusives, and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @tedhesson, @marianne_levine, @melleonor_, @IanKullgren, and @TimothyNoah1.
THEY'RE DOWN WITH OPT: The number of foreign students who remain in the U.S. to work after graduating from a college or university has skyrocketed in the last decade, according to a report Thursday from the Pew Research Center. When a student with an F-1 visa graduates, they're eligible to apply for "optional practical training," which allows them to work in the U.S. for 12 months (students in science, technology, engineering and math can work for 36 months). The program isn't capped and it's grown following expansions in the work period for STEM grads under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Pew found 136,617 students were approved for OPT in 2014, up from 28,497 in 2008 - a 379 percent increase. The work program serves as complement to the H-1B visa, which allows companies to employ specialized foreign workers. A student could potentially graduate, use OPT, transition to an H-1B visa and then apply for a green card. Just as with H-1B visas, optional practical training is popular with tech companies, and they're watching closely to see what might happen to it. Just as Bush and Obama expanded the program, the Trump administration could move to cut it back. Read the report here.
THE AILES LEGACY: Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes died Thursday morning at age 77, nine months after he was forced out at the channel following a barrage of sexual harassment allegations and lawsuits. Depending on political persuasion, the reactions varied greatly, as Jonah Engel Bromwich pointed out in The New York Times. Fox News host Sean Hannity called Ailes one of America's "great patriotic warriors" in a lengthy statement. President George H.W. Bush tweeted his respects, too. "He wasn't perfect, but Roger Ailes was my friend & I loved him," said the elder Bush. "Not sure I would have been President w/o his great talent, loyal help. RIP."
But the raft of sexual harassment allegations that chased Ailes out of his perch at Fox News won't soon be forgotten, as The New York Times pointed out in a roundup of responses. "Roger Ailes has died. Wow," tweeted Temple University professor and CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill. "Sending deep and heartfelt condolences to everyone who was abused, harassed, exploited, and unjustly fired by him." Gabriel Sherman, a New York Magazine reporter who wrote a biography about Ailes and closely followed the fallout of the sexual harassment allegations, tweeted the reaction of an Ailes accuser. "A Fox News employee who'd been sexually harassed by Ailes said this morning," Sherman wrote. "'Justice.'" More from the Times here.
** A message from SIFMA: The Department of Labor must delay its harmful fiduciary rule, until the review directed by President Trump is completed. Up to 14.7 million consumers could face significant changes to their retirement and financial advice and lose up to $109 billion over 10 years. Protect retirement savers. Delay the DOL Rule. https://t.e2ma.net/pages/1780301/1131. **
UNIONS ON NAFTA NEWS: The Trump administration gave official notice to Congress that it will start the formal process to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, William Mauldin reports in The Wall Street Journal.
"Reactions were mixed," Mauldin writes. "Most business and farm groups say they're hoping the Trump administration doesn't make too many changes that could erode the benefits they enjoy under NAFTA. But U.S. labor unions and environmental groups, however, are demanding the administration do more than it has signaled to raise standards and prevent trading partners from cutting corners."
Based on the responses of several unions Thursday, the president may have a tough time convincing them to get behind a new deal. CWA President Chris Shelton lamented that some Trump officials "praise the worse elements of bad trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership." The Teamsters said that any NAFTA deal that doesn't make cross-border long-haul trucking a priority "is a non-starter." More here.
ACOSTA AT G-20 MEETING: Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta will speak about training and apprenticeships today at the G-20 Labor and Employment Ministers' Meeting in Bad Neuenahr, Germany. On Wednesday, he toured the BMW Group's headquarters in Munich. From his remarks prepared for delivery:
"In the United States, we have about 6 million vacant jobs and 7 million unemployed workers," he said. "In the last several months, CEO after CEO has told me that they are eager to fill their vacancies, but they cannot find workers with the right skills. Perhaps our most critical challenge today is giving our workers the skills they need to participate in an ever-changing, fast-moving economy."
"In the United States, apprenticeships are a major priority for President Trump and the Department of Labor," he said. "We have made a strong commitment to increasing the number of quality apprenticeships, including expansion into high-growth, emerging sectors where apprenticeships have historically been rare." Read the prepared remarks here.
FARMERS TURN TO LEGAL WORKERS: New data from the Labor Department shows that farmers sought more workers through the H-2A temporary visa program in the first months of the Trump presidency. If an agricultural business wants to employ foreign workers under the H-2A program, it must first show that it can't find willing and available workers, that the hiring of temporary workers won't adversely affect wages of U.S. workers and that the job is seasonal. The applications to prove that - known as a labor certification - spiked during the second quarter of fiscal year 2017.
From Jan. 1-March 31, farmers filed 4,131 applications to hire 70,852 guest workers through the H-2A program - up 36 percent from a year ago. Requests by Florida farmers account for 16 percent of all applications, followed by Georgia at 13 percent and North Carolina at 10 percent, Labor Department data shows.
Farmers of all stripes have expressed concern about Trump's vast immigration crackdown and what it might mean for their workforce. The president reportedly said at a roundtable last month that he didn't want to create labor problems for the agriculture industry, but the rise in labor certification applications could mean growers are, ahem, hedging their bets. See a breakdown of the data here. H/t to NPR's Dan Charles, who first found the numbers.
WHAT ABOUT H-1B AND H-2B? Labor certification applications also rose for H-2B visas, used to bring seasonal, non-agricultural workers to the U.S. In the second quarter, employers filed 5,379 applications for certifications related to H-2B - a 32 percent increase over the same period a year earlier. The number of requests for labor certifications for H-1B visas, on the other hand, remained steady. The Labor Department received roughly 324,255, compared to 323, 817 in the second quarter of 2016. See H-1B data here and H-2B data here.
SPEAKING OF H-2B: A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to the secretaries of Homeland Security and Labor this week that asks them to "carefully evaluate hiring and recruitment efforts" by companies that seek H-2B guest worker visas, in order to ensure foreign workers don't undercut their U.S. counterparts. The visa program reached its 66,000-visa annual cap in March, but the recent spending deal gave DHS Sec. John Kelly the power to add more visas this year.
Business groups would like to see an expansion, but some skeptics think the businesses should just pay more if they can't fill open positions. The letter was signed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), according to BuzzFeed. Read it here.
IBM: WORK FROM HOME NO MORE: IBM "is giving thousands of its remote workers in the U.S. a choice this week: Abandon your home workspaces and relocate to a regional office-or leave the company," writes John Simons in the Wall Street Journal.
"The 105-year-old technology giant is quietly dismantling its popular decades-old remote work program to bring employees back into offices, a move it says will improve collaboration and accelerate the pace of work," Simons reports. "The changes comes as IBM copes with 20 consecutive quarters of falling revenue and rising shareholder ire over Chief Executive Ginni Rometty's pay package." More here.
GOOD JOB, CHEAP HOUSING: It's that time of the year. As college graduates head out into the workforce this summer, a new report breaks down where they can find the best-paying jobs and the cheapest housing markets. "In a recent report from the real-estate website Trulia and the job posting site Indeed, researchers crunched the numbers on what grads are likely to face when it comes to job prospects and housing costs in major cities," Jonnelle Marte writes in the Washington Post. "Unfortunately, the cities that tend to have the most job opportunities for recent college graduates are also typically the most expensive."
The report found six metro areas were "as good as it gets for grads" (not a ringing endorsement, but we'll take it). Seattle, Hartford, Conn., Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Dayton, Ohio, all made the list. In Dayton, roughly 43 percent of the housing was considered affordable for grads; compare that with 2 percent in San Francisco metro areas. Read the report here and more from the Post here.
TEXAS SANCTUARY CRACKDOWN HITS RESISTANCE: "Days after Texas' Republican governor, Greg Abbott, signed one of the nation's toughest immigration laws barring sanctuary policies, the new measure is already under legal and political attack," Dan Frosch writes in the Wall Street Journal. "Under the law, which was passed by the Republican-controlled legislature, municipalities and police departments are prohibited from adopting policies that limit their cooperation with federal authorities in enforcing immigration law."
"Last week, the League of United Latin American Citizens filed a federal lawsuit against Texas, challenging the law on behalf of the small, largely Hispanic border town of El Cenizo," Frosch writes. "The suit says the law is unconstitutional and infringes on the rights of local governments to police their own residents. On Monday, the El Paso County Commissioners voted to retain a law firm so they can move forward with their own suit against the measure." More here.
FORMER DHS OFFICIAL ON CLARKE: 'NOT FIT TO SERVE': Former DHS official Juliette Kayyem published an op-ed in The Washington Post Thursday to stress just how strongly she opposes the appointment of Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to an assistant secretary position at the department. Clarke - an outspoken Trump supporter unafraid to court controversy - said earlier this week that he would join the Office of Partnership and Engagement (DHS still hasn't confirmed).
Kayyem held the same position during the first year of the Obama administration and now runs a consulting company. "I've never met Clarke, but based on his inflammatory rhetoric, along with the cloud hanging over his tenure in Milwaukee, I'll just come right out and say it: He's not fit to serve at the agency tasked with domestic security for all Americans," she wrote in the Post.
She cites his comments about the Black Lives Matter movement ("Black Lies Matter," in the words of Clarke, who is African American) and a comparison of Obama to Hitler. "17Jun1936 Hitler united all police forces under one commander," Clarke tweeted in 2015. "Obama trying to do the same using DOJ to federalize local police. Wake up!"
"The department, and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, would be ill-served by a political antagonist such as Clarke," Kayyem writes. "Going out of his way to inflame tensions between law enforcement and activists, stoking partisan fights and suggesting that the government and the people it serves are at odds all run directly counter to the approach this job requires." More here.
SALVADORAN MOM DETAINED IN FAIRFAX: "Federal immigration officials detained an undocumented woman from Falls Church who came to their offices for a routine check-in on Thursday, drawing angry protests from advocates who say President Trump should focus on deporting those who pose a public-safety threat," Maria Sacchetti and Antonio Olivo report in the Washington Post. "The arrest of Liliana Cruz Mendez, 30, a mother of two from El Salvador, comes a day after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released statistics showing a significant increase in deportation arrests since Trump's inauguration, mostly involving undocumented residents with criminal records." More here.
AIRLINES TURN TO DATA TO IMPROVE PERFORMANCE: Delta Airlines is turning to data to give pilots feedback about how well they are flying, Andy Pasztor writes in The Wall Street Journal. Under Delta's system, pilots "automatically receive a printout of the precise angle of the nose, aircraft speed and other variables recorded during takeoff and landing. The printouts are designed to show up several minutes after takeoff and again at the end of the landing roll." Delta is not the only one, either. Southwest Airlines and American Airlines group are planning to implement similar programs. More here.
-"How Roger Ailes's death affects lawsuits," from The Wall Street Journal
-"Trump's budget calls for hits on federal employee retirement programs," from The Washington Post
-"Americans on unemployment hits lowest since 1988," from Marketplace
- "Rauner willing to back Chicago casino, but only with grand bargain on the budget," from CBS Chicago
-"Prosecutors are quietly helping protect immigrants from Trump," from Vice
- "Federal workforce: Sustained attention to human capital leading practices can help improve agency performance," from the U.S. Government Accountability Office
-"NLRB counsel has significant authority but little time," from Bloomberg BNA
-"Time is running out for AT&T workers to negotiate contract as strike looms," from The New York Daily News
THAT'S ALL FOR MORNING SHIFT.
** A message from SIFMA: The Department of Labor's fiduciary rule is harming retirement savers and it must be delayed. Financial professionals helping millions of American households save for retirement urge the DOL to delay its harmful fiduciary rule for a minimum of 180 days. Recently, the DOL proposed a rule to provide a 60-day delay of the fiduciary rule, which temporarily helped prevent further service changes, customer confusion and market disruptions. However, this is not enough time to fully review the consequential impact of the entire rule, as requested by the president. American investors saving for retirement deserve better. DOL needs to take the time to get this right and review the entire rule. A 180-day is needed to conduct the review and protect retirement savers from additional harm and turmoil. DOL must delay the rule. https://t.e2ma.net/pages/1780301/1131. **
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