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The Trump administration considered deploying a “heat ray” against migrants who were attempting to cross the border ahead of the 2018 midterm election, The New York Times reports. The heat ray, known as the “Active Denial System” that was developed by the U.S. military two decades ago, makes people’s skin feel as if it is burning when they get within range of its invisible beams. Customs and Border Protection Officials reportedly suggested the move, but then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen vetoed it. A DHS spokesman denied it was ever considered. The president had spent much of the buildup to the midterm election making dark warnings about the caravan traveling from Central America to the U.S. border. The New York Times
In other federal immigration news…
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Trump Oversees Naturalization at RNC, Raising Ethics Questions
Trump looked to strike a different tone on immigration during the Republican National Convention on Tuesday by airing a naturalization ceremony he oversaw at the White House. The move appeared to be aimed at softening Trump’s image among suburbanites, people of color, and women. Neimat Abdelazim Awadelseid was sworn in during the ceremony and is from Sudan, which Trump has subjected to travel restrictions. Sudha Sundari Narayanan, 35, who was also sworn in, said she and fellow immigrants had not been told that they would be sworn in by the president.
Some U.S. Customs and Immigration Services officials who oversee naturalizations were angered by the move, saying it politicized the naturalization process. Asylum officers confronted Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf during a virtual town hall Wednesday, asking whether he had violated rules that prohibit political activity by appearing in the video. Government watchdog groups also filed complaints saying Wolf violated the Hatch Act, which prevents the co-mingling of political activity and government business. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows responded by saying “nobody outside of the Beltway really cares” about the ethics violation. The New York Times, The Associated Press
Wolf to be Nominated DHS Secretary
The president appears to have given in to pressure and nominated Wolf to officially become his Secretary of Homeland Security after a government watchdog said he was illegally occupying the role. Wolf is likely to face a tough vetting process in the Senate due to his role in sending agents to police protests in Portland, among other things. Also, there is a narrow window between now and the election on Nov. 3. The administration may currently fear any decision Wolf makes will be in legal jeopardy since the report found he doesn’t currently legally hold his position. The Associated Press
New ICE Head Announced
The Trump administration has selected Tony Pham, a refugee from Vietnam, to run Immigration and Customs Enforcement after Matthew Albence resigned from the role. He joins a growing list of people who have overseen the agency under Trump. He previously led the agency’s prosecutors. Pham came to the U.S. from Vietnam as a young boy in 1975 and became a citizen ten years later, saying his family followed a “lawful path.” Before joining ICE, Pham oversaw the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail. BuzzFeed News
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