U.S. military receives request for troops to protect border

By Phil Stewart and Makini Brice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military has received a request from the Department of Homeland Security for active-duty troops on the U.S.-Mexico border, a U.S. official said on Thursday, after President Donald Trump said he was “bringing out the military” to guard against a caravan of Central American migrants trekking through Mexico.

The U.S. official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. military was examining the request that could require deploying between 800 and 1,000 active-duty troops to the border to assist with logistics and infrastructure.

The U.S. official said that any troops deployed to the border would not be involved in “law enforcement” activities, something that would be prohibited by a federal law dating to the 1870s.

That law restricts the use of the Army and other main branches of the military for civilian law enforcement on U.S. soil unless specifically authorized by Congress. But the military can provide support services to law enforcement and has done so on occasion since the 1980s.

Some specific statutes authorize the president to deploy troops within the United States for riot control or relief efforts after natural disasters.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump has taken a hard line toward immigration – legal and illegal – since becoming president last year. On Monday, Trump said he had alerted the Border Patrol and the U.S. military that the migrant caravan was a national emergency.

Despite raising Trump’s ire, thousands of Central American men, women and children seeking to escape violence, poverty and government corruption in their home countries continued their journey toward the distant U.S. border. Under a full moon early on Thursday, they walked from Mapastepec, close to the Guatemala border in southern Mexico. A town official said there had been 5,300 migrants in Mapastepec on Wednesday night.

A second group of more than a thousand people has started a similar journey from Guatemala.

“I am bringing out the military for this National Emergency. They will be stopped!” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to the migrants.

White House officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Trump’s comments regarding a military deployment and a national emergency.

Trump and his fellow Republicans have sought to make the caravan and immigration major issues ahead of the Nov. 6 U.S. congressional elections in which the party is trying to maintain control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

It is not new territory for Trump, who pledged during the 2016 presidential race to build a wall along the southern U.S. border with Mexico. However, funding for his signature campaign promise has been slow to materialize even though his party controls Congress and the White House.

In April, frustrated by lack of progress on the wall, Trump ordered the National Guard to help secure the border in four southwestern states. There are currently 2,100 National Guard troops along the borders of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Also in April, Trump raised the prospect of sending active-duty military forces to the border to block illegal immigration, raising questions in Congress and among legal experts about troop deployments on American soil.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Additional reporting by Delphine Schrank in Mapastepec, Mexico; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Will Dunham)

FBI chief says threats from drones to U.S. ‘steadily escalating’

FBI Director Christopher Wray, testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing on "Threats to the Homeland" at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, U.S., October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Alex Wroblewski

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – FBI director Christopher Wray told a U.S. Senate panel on Wednesday that the threat from drones “is steadily escalating” even as Congress gives agencies new tools to address threats.

Wray told the Senate Homeland Security committee that the FBI assesses that “given their retail availability, lack of verified identification requirement to procure, general ease of use, and prior use overseas, (drones) will be used to facilitate an attack in the United States against a vulnerable target, such as a mass gathering.”

Wray made his comments days after President Donald Trump signed into law legislation that gives the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI new powers to disable or destroy drones that pose a threat to government facilities.

The new law also requires DHS to conduct several assessments to evaluate emerging threats that drones may pose to state or private critical infrastructure entities and domestic airports. Wray said the risk has “only increased in light of the publicity associated with the apparent attempted assassination of Venezuelan President Maduro using explosives-laden” drones.

Wray noted the FBI had disrupted a plan in the United States to use drones to attack the Pentagon and the Capitol building. In 2012, Rezwan Ferdaus was sentenced to 17 years in prison for attempting to conduct a terrorist attack.

Ferdaus, who held a degree in physics, obtained multiple jet-powered, remote-controlled model aircraft capable of flying 100 miles per hour and planned to fill the aircraft with explosives and crash them into the Pentagon and the Capitol using a GPS system in each aircraft.

Senator Ron Johnson, who chairs the committee, said earlier this year that the number of drone flights over sensitive areas or suspicious activities has jumped from eight incidents in 2013 to an estimated 1,752 incidents in 2016, citing federal statistics.

The American Civil Liberties Union criticized the drone provision, saying it “amounts to an enormous unchecked grant of authority to the government to forcefully remove drones form the sky in nebulous security circumstances.”

The FBI has said drone threats could include surveillance, chemical, biological or radiological attacks or attacks “on large open-air venues” and attacks against government facilities.

Since 2017, federal officials have banned drones over U.S. military bases, national landmarks, nuclear sites and other sensitive areas. The Defense Department previously was given authority to address drone threats to military facilities.

More than 1 million U.S. drones have been registered, the Federal Aviation Administration said in January.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Port of San Diego hit by ransomware attack

FILE PHOTO: A tourist sightseeing boat motors through San Diego harbor in San Diego, California, U.S., June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Port of San Diego said on Thursday that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security were investigating a ransomware attack that disrupted the port’s information technology systems.

“This is mainly an administrative issue and normal Port operations are continuing as usual,” the Port of San Diego’s Chief Executive Officer Randa Coniglio said in a statement.

The cyberattack has not affected public safety operations or ship and boat traffic. Public services related to park permits, public records requests and business services have been disrupted, Coniglio said.

A ransom note from attackers requested payment in Bitcoin. Port officials declined to disclose the amount of that demand.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; editing by Bill Tarrant and Tom Brown)

U.S. moving some detained migrant parents closer to their children

FILE PHOTO: Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

By Yeganeh Torbati and Tom Hals

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government is moving some migrant parents to detention sites closer to the young children they were separated from while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in an attempt to meet a court-imposed deadline to reunify families, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said on Thursday.

U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego last month ordered the government to stop separating children from immigrant parents entering the United States illegally and set deadlines for the government to reunite families.

The judge’s order followed a political firestorm over U.S. President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and beefed up efforts to deter illegal U.S. entry.

Sabraw set a deadline for children under 5 years old to be reunited with their parents by July 10, and for all children to be reunited by July 26. He also set a deadline of Friday for parents to be in phone contact with their children.

Azar said that based on a comprehensive audit by HHS and immigration authorities, there were now fewer than 3,000 children in HHS care who may have been separated from parents taken into custody for crossing the border illegally or for other reasons, such as concern over safety of the child.

Of that group, approximately 100 children are under the age of 5, he said.

To speed the reunification process, the Department of Homeland Security is relocating parents of children under 5 years old to detention facilities close to their children “so that we can as expeditiously as possible reunite the children with their parents to meet the court’s deadline,” Azar said.

No children have yet been reunified with parents in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but that will soon happen to meet the court deadline, Azar said.

He added, however, that deadlines imposed by the court will require a “truncated vetting process” and that the government will likely “seek additional time to ensure that we can do the job that we believe is necessary to protect the children in our care.”

Government personnel are currently collecting cheek swab DNA samples from parents and children in order to verify family relationships, said Jonathan White, deputy director for children’s programs at the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the HHS office that takes care of the children.

White described the DNA process as faster than verifying relationships through documents such as birth certificates.

“We have to protect children from people who would prey on them, and that is what we are doing,” he said. “These DNA results are being used solely for that purpose and no other.”

In a reversal last month, after family separations at the border triggered a groundswell of opposition, Trump ordered that detained migrant families be kept together if possible.

In the past, families detained while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border were often released from custody to pursue their immigration cases while living freely in the United States, but the Trump administration has made clear that it intends to end what it derides as “catch and release” immigration policies.

A 1997 court ruling known as the Flores settlement has been interpreted to prevent detention of children for more than 20 days, which is one reason the administration gave for its policy of separating families when it decided to keep parents in custody.

Last month, the administration asked a federal court to modify the agreement so that it could detain children longer. It filed court papers last week saying it believed it had the right, under the current settlement, to hold children longer in order to enable family reunification and prevent future separations.

Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, which filed a lawsuit challenging the family separations, questioned the government’s contention it might need more time to safely reunite families.

“When the government wants to marshal its resources to separate families, it has shown that it can do it quickly and efficiently, but when told to reunite families, it somehow finds it too difficult and cumbersome to accomplish,” he said.

Wendy Young, president of Kids in Need of Defense, said her organization, which provides legal assistance to unaccompanied minors, was unaware of any comprehensive government plan for uniting families.

One test will be if the government can meet Friday’s deadline to get parents in touch with their children by phone, she said.

“If they fail to meet that deadline, I think it calls into serious question whether they will be able to meet the reunification deadlines in the coming weeks,” Young said.

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati and Tom Hals; Editing by Tom Brown and Sue Horton)

Two U.S. military bases in Texas to house immigrants: Mattis

Honduran families seeking asylum wait on the Mexican side of the Brownsville-Matamoros International Bridge after being denied entry by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers near Brownsville, Texas, U.S., June 24, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

By Phil Stewart

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (Reuters) – The U.S. military is preparing to house immigrants at two bases in Texas, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday, the latest sign of the military being drawn into a supporting role for President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Fort Bliss, an Army base in El Paso, Texas, and Goodfellow Air Base in San Angelo, Texas, would be used, Mattis said, but he added that he could not confirm any specifics.

“We’ll provide whatever support the Department of Homeland Security needs in order to house the people they have under their custody,” Mattis told reporters in Alaska before leaving on an Asia trip.

In the face of outrage at home and overseas over his crackdown on illegal immigration, Trump was forced last week to abandon his policy of separating children from parents who are apprehended for illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

The U.S. military, and Mattis in particular, have stressed that it is simply providing logistical support to the Department of Homeland Security, which deals with immigration issues.

“We’re not going to get into the political aspect. Providing housing, shelter for those who need it is a legitimate governmental function,” Mattis said.

One U.S. official, speaking earlier on the condition of anonymity, said it was expected that one of the bases would house immigrant families and another immigrant children.

On Sunday, Mattis said the U.S. military was preparing to build temporary camps at two military bases to house immigrants but did not name the facilities.

Last week, the U.S. military said it had been asked by the government to get ready to house up to 20,000 immigrant children.

Trump has previously turned to the military to help with his border crackdown. Earlier this year, U.S. National Guard forces were dispatched to border states to help tighten security.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska; additional reporting by Idrees Ali and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Grant McCool)

Canada wants U.S. cooperation in turning back asylum seekers

FILE PHOTO: A group of migrants who said they were from Djibouti and Somalia walk along railway tracks after crossing the Canada-U.S. border in Emerson, Manitoba, Canada, March 27, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo

By Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada wants to change a bilateral agreement to allow it to turn back thousands of asylum seekers walking across the border but the United States is not cooperating, according to a Canadian official with knowledge of the discussions.

Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, or STCA, asylum seekers who arrive at a formal Canada-U.S. border crossing going in either direction are turned back and told to apply for asylum in the first country they arrived in.

Canada wants the agreement rewritten to apply to the entire border.

More than 26,000 people have illegally crossed the Canada-U.S. border to file refugee claims in the past 15 months, walking over ditches and on empty roads along the world’s longest undefended border. Many have told Reuters they might have stayed in the United States were it not for President Donald Trump’s immigration rhetoric and policies.

Canadian officials first discussed changing the pact with U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials last September, shortly after more than 5,700 asylum seekers walked into Canada in August.

“We’d like to be able to get them to agree that we can, if somebody comes across, we just send them back,” the official told Reuters on Friday, adding Canada had raised the issue “at least a dozen” times since.

“I wouldn’t say they’ve been objecting or saying: ‘No, we won’t do it,’ but it’s been not responding rapidly.”

The Department of Homeland Security is reviewing Canada’s proposal and has not yet made a decision, a spokeswoman said.

The Canadian official compared Canada’s position to U.S. requests that Mexico prevent migrants traversing its territory from entering the United States

“We’ve got a problem, here. We’ve got to fix it,” the official added. “And we need the Americans’ cooperation.”

For now, another official said, Canada would keep doing what it is doing: Managing the influx of refugee claimants in a strained system, while seeking to dissuade would-be crossers through outreach efforts.

Even if the United States agreed to take back anyone trying to cross into Canada, keeping people out between all ports of entry would be a challenge and could result in asylum seekers taking potentially deadly risks to avoid detection, said University of Toronto law and human rights professor Audrey Macklin.

The STCA already faces a Canadian court challenge that argues the agreement is discriminatory and violates Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Canada has also urged U.S. officials to crack down on visas, saying many of the asylum seekers had valid U.S. visas and used the United States merely as a transit point.

Earlier this year, Canadian officials traveled to Nigeria, the source of a significant number of asylum seekers, to speak with Nigerian government officials and U.S. embassy staff.

The number of U.S. visas being issued to Nigerians has since dropped, said Mathieu Genest, a spokesman for Canadian Immigration and Refugee Minister Ahmed Hussen.

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Fight over U.S. spending bill rekindles immigration debate

FILE PHOTO: The United States Capitol Dome is seen before dawn in Washington March 22, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As another U.S. government funding deadline looms, a huge spending bill is ground zero in the latest battle between Republicans and Democrats in Congress over President Donald Trump’s push to toughen immigration policy.

Lawmakers have until March 23 to work out how to fund an array of government agencies for the next six months. But their behind-the-scenes negotiations are complicated by the immigration issue.

Republicans are seeking hundreds of millions of dollars more for the Department of Homeland Security to expand the number of beds for immigrant detainees and to hire more federal agents to patrol U.S. borders and the country’s interior.

That is aimed at finding and potentially deporting more illegal immigrants, a central pledge of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

“If you increased the number of beds, the number of people detained in this country will likely be increased,” said Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst for the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute.

She said that would help Trump carry out initiatives to expand detentions, including possibly those of children who are in the country illegally. For some immigrants, it could mean spending as long as two years in detention while their cases wind through an overburdened court system, instead of being under looser government controls during the process.

Congressional negotiators also are tussling over a Republican provision prohibiting the use of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement funds to facilitate abortions for immigrant detainees.

There is also a push for $1.6 billion to begin construction on a border wall, which Trump promised during his campaign would be paid for by Mexico – an unwilling partner in that pledge. That would be a down payment on a construction project likely to end up costing more than $18 billion.

During a visit to California on Tuesday, Trump inspected wall prototypes and urged Congress to fund it.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, an advocate for Trump’s immigration agenda, told reporters on Wednesday, “If there are additional appropriations added, I certainly would be supportive of that.”

Democrats, whose votes in the Republican-controlled Congress are likely needed to pass the trillion-dollar spending bill, are pushing back against a wall that they see as a waste of money.

A coalition of 83 Hispanic, African-American and Asian-American members of the House of Representatives wrote this week to congressional leaders urging them to also “reduce funding to DHS’s detention and deportation machine.”

Democratic Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham, who heads the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, told reporters: “It’s wasteful and it’s harmfully targeting and deporting non-criminal immigrants, separating families and terrorizing frankly whole communities.”

BATTLEGROUND

Appropriations bills in Congress are the lifeblood of Washington policymakers, providing the money to carry out their priorities.

Over the past several months, appropriations bills to fund an array of federal programs have been the battleground in which Trump and Congress fought over the future of young people brought to the country illegally as children.

That six-month skirmish ended last month with Congress unable to legislate new protection from deportation for 700,000 “Dreamers” after Trump ended an Obama-era program giving them temporary legal status. At one point, the standoff forced Washington into a three-day government shutdown in January when funding ran out.

This time, Republicans hope to get enough money to hire 500 more Customs and Border Protection agents and 1,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. That would be the start of an eventual increase of CBP’s workforce by 5,000 and ICE’s by 10,000.

Democrats have noted that the agencies are falling short in filling all positions Congress already has authorized.

Negotiators are expected to work through the weekend as House of Representatives leaders hope to unveil a bill early next week so it can be debated on the House floor by midweek, with a Senate vote by the March 23 deadline.

Failure to meet the deadline could result in the second partial government shutdown this year.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Caren Bohan, Peter Cooney and Bill Trott)

White House rejects bipartisan Senate immigration plan

Activists and DACA recipients march up Broadway during the start of their 'Walk to Stay Home,' a five-day 250-mile walk from New York to Washington D.C., to demand that Congress pass a Clean Dream Act, in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

By Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House stuck to its hard-line immigration approach on Thursday and said advisers would recommend that President Donald Trump veto a bipartisan U.S. Senate proposal to protect young “Dreamer” immigrants and tighten border security.

The plan, which would protect from deportation 1.8 million young adults who were brought to the United States illegally as children, would weaken border security and undercut existing immigration law, spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

“Preventing enforcement with respect to people who entered our country illegally before a date that is in the future would produce a flood of new illegal immigration in the coming months,” she said.

The proposal, which had been considered perhaps the most likely to succeed in the Senate, also includes a $25 billion fund to strengthen border security and possibly even build segments of Trump’s long-promised border wall with Mexico.

White House opposition to the bipartisan plan appeared to focus on a provision that would direct the Department of Homeland Security to focus enforcement efforts on undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of crimes, are a threat to national security or arrived in the United States after June 30, 2018.

The Senate is debating at least four immigration measures as lawmakers race to resolve the status of Dreamers, who were protected under an Obama-era program. Trump has ordered that program to end by March 5, telling Congress it should come up with an alternative plan by then.

The Department of Homeland Security also opposed the bipartisan plan led by Republican Senator Susan Collins, saying it would prevent DHS officers from being able to remove millions of undocumented immigrants from the country, and “is an egregious violation of the four compromise pillars laid out by the President’s immigration reform framework.”

Trump has said any immigration bill must include funds to build the border wall, end the visa lottery program, impose curbs on visas for the families of legal immigrants and protect Dreamers.

The Republican president has backed a measure by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley that embraces his wish list but is unlikely to win support from enough Democrats in the closely divided chamber.

A narrower third bill focusing just on Dreamers and border security, by Republican John McCain and Democrat Chris Coons, has been dismissed by Trump. A fourth measure, which is not expected to pass, focuses on punishing “sanctuary cities” that do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said votes on the four measures would be held possibly on Thursday or at least Friday morning, ahead of a self-imposed Senate deadline of the end of the week.

‘BITTER PILLS’

The bipartisan Collins bill got a slight boost earlier on Thursday when an influential group that advocates for immigrants, America’s Voice, gave its reluctant support to the measure.

The group opposes provisions allowing the construction of a border wall and moves to limit legal immigration, but said in a statement, “We believe the chance to provide a permanent solution for Dreamers calls us to swallow these bitter pills.”

Despite backing from several Republicans for the Collins-led plan, it was unclear whether it would muster the 60 votes needed in the 100-member Senate, controlled 51-49 by Republicans.

A senior Senate Republican aide said the White House veto threat would “scuttle” some Republican support for the bipartisan bill. The prospect of all bills failing could even discourage some Republicans from voting for the Trump-backed plan, the aide said.

Trump is anxious to start on the border wall, which he made a central part of his 2016 election campaign and which Democrats have long opposed. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the wall would be “an enormous waste of money,” but both parties had to bend.

“We have to rise above our differences, admit that no one will get everything they want and accept painful compromises,” Schumer said.

In September, Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to protect Dreamers from deportation and offer them work permits. Although the protections are due to start expiring on March 5, federal judges have blocked that from taking effect amid ongoing litigation.

Even if one of the Senate measures passes, it must still win over the U.S. House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a larger majority and are pushing a more conservative proposal that is more closely in line with Trump’s framework.

(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Makini Brice; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Senate faces showdown over immigration and ‘Dreamers’

Demonstrators calling for new protections for so-called "Dreamers," undocumented children brought to the U.S. by their immigrant parents, walk through a senate office building on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 17, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Susan Heavey and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration remained insistent on hardline immigration measures on Thursday as the U.S. Senate prepared to vote on various legislative proposals to protect young “Dreamer” immigrants and to tighten border security.

In a statement overnight, the Department of Homeland Security dismissed what some thought was the bill most likely to win enough bipartisan support to pass the chamber, saying it failed to meet minimum criteria set out by President Donald Trump.

The plan, crafted by a bipartisan group of senators led by moderate Republican Susan Collins, would protect from deportation 1.8 million young adults who were brought to the United States illegally as children and who are known as Dreamers.

It also includes a $25 billion fund to strengthen border security and possibly even construct segments of Trump’s long-promised border wall with Mexico.

The immigration issue has become a matter of urgency for lawmakers after Trump in September ordered an Obama-era program that protected Dreamers to end by March 5, telling Congress it should come up with a solution by then.

The Department of Homeland Security blasted the Collins-led plan, saying it destroyed the ability of DHS officers to remove millions of undocumented immigrants from the country, and “is an egregious violation of the four compromise pillars laid out by the President’s immigration reform framework.”

Trump’s four provisions are for any bill to include funds to build the border wall, to end the visa lottery program, to impose curbs on visas for the families of legal immigrants, and to protect Dreamers.

The Republican president has backed a bill by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley that embraces Trump’s wish list but is unlikely to win support from enough Democrats in the closely-divided chamber.

A narrower third bill, by Republican John McCain and Democrat Chris Coons, has been dismissed by Trump.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was expected to bring forward all three measures on Thursday to gauge which has enough support to move toward a vote in the Senate ahead of a Friday deadline he has imposed for the legislation.

Despite backing from several Republicans for the Collins-led plan, it was unclear if enough Democrats would get behind it to muster the 60 votes needed in the 100-member Senate that Republicans control 51-49.

Democratic U.S. Senator Tim Kaine told MSNBC on Thursday he thought lawmakers were “very close” to the 60 votes needed on the Collins-led measure. Republican Senator Marco Rubio told Fox News he was unsure whether any Senate plan would move forward.

Even if one of three bills passes, it must still win over the U.S. House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a larger majority and are pushing a more conservative proposal that is closer in line with Trump’s framework.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said he will support only legislation backed by Trump, who has carried his tough law-and-order stance toward immigrants from his 2016 campaign into his administration.

(Additional reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Super Bowl security document found on commercial flight

Policemen talk as a Super Bowl promotional banner showing Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hangs in an atrium at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. January 29, 2018

By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) – A U.S. government document outlining plans for responding to a possible biological attack at Sunday’s Super Bowl in Minneapolis was left on a commercial jetliner, CNN reported on Monday, saying one of its employees found the paper in a seat pocket.

Multiple copies of the document, marked “for official use only” and “important for national security,” were found during a flight before the Super Bowl was played.

CNN said on its website it had delayed reporting about its discovery until after the game, at the request of federal officials. It did not say when the document turned up or if the flight in question was going to or coming from Minneapolis. CNN said it could not determine who left the documents on the airplane.

The errant document offered a critique of how officials performed during a simulated release of the infectious disease anthrax in Minneapolis on the day of the Super Bowl. Other sensitive material was also found, CNN said, without further description.

Officials conducted such exercises in July and November, as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s BioWatch program, according to CNN.

One of the biggest sporting events of the year, the National Football League’s championship Super Bowl is high on the list of potential targets for an attack, security experts have previously said.

The Department of Homeland Security often conducts exercises with state and local governments to guard against national security threats, Tyler Houlton, acting press secretary of the department, said in a statement in response to a Reuters inquiry about the CNN report.

“It is important that operators regularly exercise their capabilities against a wide range of scenarios in order to effectively counter the changing threat environment,” Houlton said.

Houlton declined to confirm whether any sensitive documents related to the Super Bowl were misplaced.

The game went off without a hitch, with the Philadelphia Eagles beating the New England Patriots, 41-33, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

The security plan included bomb-sniffing dogs, a massive police presence, helicopters and a chain-link and concrete fence surrounding the stadium, officials said at a news conference ahead of the game on Wednesday.

In preparation for the game, authorities conducted more than 200 security assessments of critical infrastructure in the Minneapolis area, in addition to training for everything from active shooters to bombings.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank McGurty and Lisa Shumaker)