Sam's Top 5 Things to Know for 2/22/17

1. The Trump administration outlined the rewrite of immigration enforcement policies yesterday.

Any immigrant who is in the country illegally and is charged or convicted of any offense, or even suspected of a crime, will now be an enforcement priority, according to Homeland Security Department memos signed by Secretary John Kelly. That could include people arrested for shoplifting or minor offenses — or simply having crossed the border illegally.

The Trump administration memos replace narrower guidance focusing on immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes, are considered threats to national security or are recent border crossers.

Under the Obama administration guidance, immigrants whose only violation was being in the country illegally were generally left alone. Those immigrants fall into two categories: those who crossed the border without permission and those who overstayed their visas.

Crossing the border illegally is a criminal offense, and the new memos make clear that those who have done so are included in the broad list of enforcement priorities.

2. Since Trump's initial executive orders on immigration, legal service organizations in Los Angeles, Maryland and New York said they've been fielding a rising number of calls and questions about how to become a citizen.

The wait time has doubled for a spot at a monthly naturalization clinic focused on Asian immigrants in Los Angeles. Since Trump's executive orders on immigration, the number of immigrants inquiring about citizenship has also doubled at a Muslim organization in Southern California and at Latin American-focused groups in Maryland and New York, advocates said.

Nearly 1 million people applied to naturalize during the 2016 fiscal year, the largest number in nine years, government data shows.

3. Representative Tom Emmer is warning protesters not to disrupt his town hall this evening — or he’ll cancel the whole event.

Similar town halls held by Republican members of Congress around the country in the past month have seen huge turnouts of protesters fired up about President Donald Trump, immigration, defending the Affordable Care Act and other issues. In a statement released yesterday, Emmer’s chief of staff said he wouldn’t tolerate violence or a “disruptive display” at the event.

David FitzSimmon’s statement said, “Should this event turn into a disruptive display, or if there are any violent actions or threats, we will end the meeting and be forced to reassess our policy on town halls going forward.

Among the behavior FitzSimmons said qualified as “disruptive” were “shouting” and “chanting.” Progressive activist groups such as Take Action Minnesota are urging their members to attend Emmer’s town hall, and say they’ll hold a “rally” outside if they can’t all get in to the venue.

4. Osakis school district has dropped the prom-dress photo requirement, saying “It’s 2017.” It also turns out it wasn’t even a real issue after all, either.

The school district Interim Superintendent Randy Bergquist, who attended the school board’s Feb. 13 meeting, said the photo requirement was a discussion item only and nothing was finalized.

He said, “The students are not going to have to submit a photo. That doesn’t make sense — it’s 2017.”

Bergquist, on behalf of Osakis Public Schools, issued a statement Tuesday, after the district received a barrage of feedback after it was reported in newspapers.

His statement reads, “In an effort to prevent putting both our students and prom advisors in a difficult position on the night of prom and to prevent our students from spending hundreds of dollars on a dress inconsistent with the prom dress code, it was suggested that the prom advisor could pre-approve the dresses worn ahead of time. We were hoping this would ensure that no one would be denied the privilege of participating in the Grand March on the night of prom. We are not going to require any such photo prior to the prom. None of the discussion items were acted on or put into policy.”

Bergquist said the school board, administration and prom adviser are in the process of updating the school’s prom dress-code policy, which has been in place for many years, in an attempt to bring it up to contemporary standards.

5. Get ready for this beautiful weather to come to an end.

What could be the strongest winter storm of the season is expected to track across the Plains Thursday, to Iowa Thursday night, and Wisconsin by Friday. Rain will develop across southern Minnesota Thursday afternoon and early evening before changing to heavy snow Thursday night through Friday. Snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour are likely within the intense snow band, which could persist for several hours.

Snow accumulations of 6 to 12 inches are likely from southwest to east central Minnesota and west central Wisconsin, with amounts of over a foot possible.

The Friday morning and afternoon commutes are expected to be significantly impacted.


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