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By Julia Ainsley and Heidi Przybyla

WASHINGTON — Talks to avert another government shutdown broke down over the weekend — this time over Democrats’ demand for a cap on the number of undocumented immigrants who can be detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The issue has reared its head because the White House has asked for $4.2 billion for ICE to increase its capacity to detain immigrants to 52,000, up from 40,000 currently funded by Congress. Democrats want to cap the detention space ICE can use to hold immigrants in the interior of the country — away from the border — at 16,500.

Here’s a look at what’s driving both sides to their positions.

Why does ICE need more space?

Currently, ICE is already holding more immigrants than Congress has authorized. Although it is only authorized to hold 40,000, there were 49,057 immigrants in ICE detention as of Feb. 6, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee. An ICE spokeswoman said the average daily population for this year as of Jan. 26 was 45,671.

When ICE does not have funding for space, they may take funds from other areas or use contracts with prisons to find additional beds for immigrants.

In the interior of the country, where Democrats would like to see a limit of 16,500 immigrants in detention, there are approximately 20,800 migrants being held, according to an ICE official authorized to speak on the subject.

Who are these immigrants in ICE detention?

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said ICE is holding dangerous criminals, including murderers. While ICE held immigrants in fiscal year 2018 who collectively were convicted on 54,630 charges, only 1,641 of the charges were homicide. The most frequent charges were for driving under the influence, followed by drug offenses, traffic offenses and immigration offenses (such as re-entering the country after a deportation order.)

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers frisk undocumented immigrants after detaining and bringing them to a processing center last April at the U.S. Federal Building in lower Manhattan.John Moore / Getty Images

Why are noncriminal or nonviolent immigrants in ICE detention?

Under President Barack Obama, ICE was told to prioritize immigrants convicted of serious crimes and those who posed threats to national security. As a result, in fiscal year 2016, 98 percent of immigrants arrested in the United States fit those priorities.

Trump changed that practice, making every immigrant in the country illegally a priority for arrest and deportation by ICE. As a result, in fiscal year 2018, 20 percent of immigrants arrested by ICE had no criminal conviction.

The ICE official told NBC News that 89 percent of immigrants currently being held in detention have been convicted or charged with crimes.

Criminal immigrants in ICE detention have served their time in the U.S. penal system and are awaiting deportation.

Why do Democrats want a cap?

After high-profile deportations and raids by ICE, including arrests at courthouses and deportations of military spouses, some Democrats began calling for ICE to be abolished.

Democrats on the conference committee negotiating the budget have pushed for ICE to cap its detention space so that noncriminals will be left out of ICE enforcement operations.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, a Democrat from California and a member of the conference committee, said in a statement, “A cap on ICE detention beds will force the Trump administration to prioritize deportation for criminals and people who pose real security threats, not law-abiding immigrants who are contributing to our country.”

A Democratic aide who reviewed the White House’s January budget request said the proposal “continues to assume that the only approach to handling recent border crossers is detention. This is also an historically high number of beds to maintain and could be used as a ‘bail out’ for ICE, which has been consistently operating well over its appropriated levels for detention space in the past few years.”

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THE LABOUR party and Jeremy Corbyn have been dealt a blow today with a number of MPs leaving the party to form their own ‘Independent Group’. Among them is Luciana Berger – but who is Luciana Berger and did she vote for Brexit?

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Trump vows ‘new day’ for Venezuela

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By Jane C. Timm

President Donald Trump condemned socialism and urged a peaceful transition of power to end the Venezuelan crisis on Monday.

“We’re here to proclaim that a new day is coming in Latin America, it’s coming,” Trump said at a speech at Florida International University in Miami. “The people of Venezuela are standing for freedom and democracy, and the United States of America are standing right by their side.”

Trump expressed strong support for Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó and urged the Venezuelan military to abandon the country’s socialist president Nicolás Maduro, warning of financial repercussions and hinting at a military intervention in an speech aimed at rallying the Venezuelan-American community in support of the country’s opposition party.

“You’ve seen the crimes and you’ve seen the corruption. You’ve seen the hunger and the suffering,” Trump said. “You have protested and protested with respect, but loudly, and you have prayed for the day we can now see which is just ahead — the day when all of the people of this region will at last be free.”

Last month, the crisis in Venezuela came to a head after decades of mismanagement and corruption: on January 23, Guaidó declared himself the interim leader. The U.S. recognized Guaidó as the interim president immediately, but Maduro, the socialist president of the nation, vowed to fight back and sought to block international aid from entering the country.

Trump’s remarks were a sign of the growing pressure the U.S. is seeking to put on the socialist government there, with the president specifically calling on Venezuela’s military to let aid into the country.

“The socialists have done in Venezuelans all of the same things that socialists, totalitarians, communists, have done everywhere they have had a chance to rule,” he said. “Almost 90 percent of Venezuela now live in poverty. In 2018, hyperinflation in Venezuela exceeded 1 million percent. Crippling shortages of food and medicine plague the country, socialism has so completely ravaged this great country that even the world’s largest reserves of oil are no longer enough to keep the lights on. This will never happen to us.”

Trump called Maduro a “Cuban puppet” and argued that democracy in Venezuela would encourage its appearance in Cuba and Nicaragua.

“We seek a peaceful transition of power, but all options are on the table,” Trump added.

Trump has repeatedly alleged that Democrats are trying to institute Venezuelan-style socialism in the U.S., and Monday’s address included a few apparent references to what the president suggested was the threat of socialism on America.

“To those who want to try to impose socialism on the United States, we again deliver a very simple message, America will never be a socialist country,” he said. “We were born free, and we will stay free now and forever.”



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