A Federal Judge In Florida Has Ruled Ballots That Arrived Too Late In The Mail Won’t Count

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida — US District Court Chief Judge Mark Walker ruled on Friday evening that Florida election officials can continue to ignore vote-by-mail ballots sent within the United States that arrived after 7 p.m. on Election Day, a deadline set by state law.

The ruling rejects an effort from Democrats who claimed those voters were being unconstitutionally disenfranchised because certain factors, such as late mail delivery, were beyond their control.

“The fact that there might be problems with the mail does not outweigh the state’s important interest in delineating finality in elections,” said an order by US District Court Judge Mark Walker, siding with Republicans who have argued in several cases this week that deadlines must remain rigid. “To hold otherwise could call into question the entirety of the vote-by- mail system itself.”

He added the state must have a “deadline after which vote-by-mail ballots may not be counted.”

The decision further imperils chances for Democrats, who have embarked on a campaign to count as many eligible votes as possible in Florida’s race for US Senator, where Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson narrowly trails Republican Gov. Rick Scott amid a statewide recount.

Judge Walker has ruled in several cases against Democrats this week, including by refusing to push back the election’s final certification. Scott’s campaign hailed the Friday night decision, saying in a statement, ”There is simply no path for Senator-elect Rick Scott’s insurmountable margin to be overturned.”

The case considers two legal issues. First, it asks if the 7pm Election Day deadline to receive mail-in ballots unduly burdens on the right to vote. Second, it considers if the fact that ballots sent from overseas can be received 10 days after the election, while those sent domestically cannot, creates an unconstitutional form of inequality.

The complaint was filed Monday by VoteVets, a national voter advocacy group of military veterans that claims 40,000 supporters in Florida, along with the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. They allege the deadline violates First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and is also unnecessary, demonstrated by numerous other states that do count mail-in ballots that arrive after Election Day.

“The outright rejection of such ballots, based on arbitrary conditions — namely the timeliness of post office delivery — outside the voter’s control unlawfully infringes upon the fundamental right to vote,” says the complaint, which cites 10 states that accept valid ballots as many as 10 days after the election.

The plaintiffs note that mail delivery can be delayed several reasons, such as when police evacuated a mail distribution center in Miami-Dade county in late October due to a bomb scare. “The 7 p.m. receipt deadline on Election Day for those whose vote by mail ballots are postmarked before Election Day is not justified by any legitimate state interest, let alone any compelling state interest that is narrowly drawn.”

They also say the timeline for delivering first class mail extended from three to five days recently, with little publicity. “Mail delivery can be delayed due to weather emergencies, human error causing bags of mail to be sent to the wrong transfer facility, traffic delays resulting in behind-schedule mail transfers, and understaffing at postal facilities,” the complaint says.

Mohammed Jazil, who is representing the Secretary of State’s Office, said in a phone conference with Judge Walker on Nov. 13 that the deadline for unofficial ballot returns was on Nov. 10, so adding more ballots now would require starting over from scratch. This is because the unofficial returns were already the basis for whether to conduct a recount — changing the underlying numbers after the fact could require or negate the need for a recount.

But Florida law already allows ballots to be counted up to 10 days later if they were sent from overseas, Uzoma N. Nkwonta, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, noted in the hearing, and as such, there’s no reason to ignore ballots sent domestically that arrive in the same timeframe. He said numerous ballots were discovered in Miami-Dade County, apparently the result of a postal problem, and the issue must be addressed urgently in order to avoid disenfranchising those voters.

The plaintiffs asked the court to declare that “all ballots postmarked before November 6 and received by the supervisor of elections within 10 days after Election Day should be counted in the general election,” while suspending state laws with the earlier deadlines.

But Walker said, “The deadline disparity does not deprive domestic voters of the opportunity to vote on equal terms with overseas voters. Just the opposite. The law gives overseas voters the opportunity to vote on equal terms with domestic voters.”

“The state’s regulatory interest is sufficient to justify the deadline,” he added.

Further, the plaintiffs asked the court to find that Secretary of State Ken Detzner must tell county election supervisors that “all vote by mail ballots postmarked before Election Day and received by the supervisor of elections within 10 days of Election Day must be counted” while temporarily delaying a Nov. 15 deadline to count any of those late-arriving ballots.

YouTube quietly added free, ad-supported movies to its site

YouTube quietly added around 100 ad-supported Hollywood movies to its site, beginning last month, according to a new report from AdAge. The titles include a mix of classics like “Rocky” and “The Terminator,” as well as other family fare like “Zookeeper,” “Agent Cody Banks,” and “Legally Blonde,” among others.

Before, YouTube had only offered consumers the ability to purchase movies and TV shows, similar to how you can rent or buy content from Apple’s iTunes or Amazon Video.

Currently, YouTube is serving ads on these free movies, but the report said the company is open to working out other deals with advertisers – like sponsorships or exclusive screenings.

YouTube’s advantage in this space, compared with some others, is its sizable user base of 1.9 million monthly active users and its ability to target ads using data from Google .

The addition of a an ad-supported movies marketplace on YouTube follows Roku’s entry into this market, which began last year with the launch of its free collection of movies, called The Roku Channel.

This year, Roku has been expanding the type of content on that channel to also include things like live news from ABC News, Cheddar, Newsmax, Newsy, People TV, Yahoo and The Young Turks, and – more recently – entertainment and live sports. 

Walmart also offers its own free movies collection through Vudu, and recently teamed up with MGM on original content for the service. Tubi operates a streaming service with free, ad-supported content, too. And Amazon is rumored to be working on something similar.

Lawyers Challenge Matthew Whitaker’s Appointment As Acting Attorney General At The Supreme Court

Lawyers on Friday brought a challenge to the validity of President Donald Trump’s appointment of Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to the Supreme Court in a pending case.

Questions have surrounded the legality of Whitaker’s appointment since the day after the midterm elections when Trump forced out the former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and announced on Twitter that Whitaker was his choice to be the acting attorney general.

“Because Whitaker’s appointment does not satisfy the Appointments Clause, it is unlawful, and he cannot serve as Acting Attorney General,” the lawyers wrote in Friday evening’s filing.

The issue is being brought to the Supreme Court in Barry Michaels’ pending petition for certiorari in a case challenging the federal law barring possession of a gun by a felon.

In addition to Michael Zapin, Michaels’ lawyer on previous filings, Tom Goldstein and his colleagues at Goldstein Russell joined Friday’s filing challenging Whitaker’s appointment.

Goldstein and the firm earlier this week had joined the Maryland attorney general in challenging Whitaker’s appointment in a different case before a trial judge.

They argued in that filing that the appointment violates both a federal law setting the order of succession at the Justice Department and the Constitution’s Appointments Clause, which requires the Senate to provide advice and consent on principal officers of executive branch departments.

In Friday’s filing at the Supreme Court, the lawyers made similar arguments, specifically raising the issue by asking the court to declare that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and not Whitaker, should be substituted as the respondent in the case for those reasons.

Additionally, the lawyers also ask the justices to take up the case without waiting for lower courts to rule, as it ordinarily would, because the issue is “a pure question of law” and could arise in “thousands” of cases.

Noting the many “personal responsibilities” of the attorney general, they warn, “If this Court declines to resolve this question immediately and instead determines several months in the future that Mr. Whitaker’s appointment was always invalid, then ‘unwinding’ all of those personal orders would be a fraught and disruptive exercise that could embroil the federal courts in innumerable collateral disputes.”

This is a developing story. Please check back at BuzzFeed News for the latest.

Blockchain gaming gets a boost with Mythical Games’ $16M Series A

Fortnite, the free multi-player survival game, has earned an astonishing $1 billion from in-game virtual purchases alone. Now, others in the gaming industry are experimenting with how they too can capitalize on new trends in gaming.

Mythical Games, a startup out of stealth today with $16 million in Series A funding, is embracing a future in gaming where user-generated content and intimate ties between players, content creators, brands and developers is the norm. Mythical is using its infusion of venture capital to develop a line of PC, mobile and console games on the EOSIO blockchain, which will also be open to developers to build games with “player-owned economies.”

The company says an announcement regarding its initial lineup of games is on the way.

Mythical is led by a group of gaming industry veterans. Its chief executive officer is John Linden, a former studio head at Activision and president of the Niantic-acquired Seismic Games. The rest of its C-suite includes chief compliance officer Jamie Jackson, another former studio head at Activision; chief product officer Stephan Cunningham, a former director of product management at Yahoo; and head of blockchain Rudy Kock, a former senior producer at Blizzard — the Activision subsidiary known for World of Warcraft. Together, the team has worked on games including Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, Marvel Strike Force and Skylanders.

Galaxy Digital’s EOS VC Fund has led the round for Mythical. The $325 million fund, launched earlier this year, is focused on expanding the EOSIO ecosystem via strategic investments in startups building on EOSIO blockchain software. Javelin Venture Partners, Divergence Digital Currency, cryptocurrency exchange OKCoin and others also participated in the round.

It’s no surprise investors are getting excited about the booming gaming business given the success of Epic Games, Twitch, Discord and others in the space.

Epic Games raised a $1.25 billion round late last month thanks to the cultural phenomenon that its game, Fortnite, has become. KKR, Iconiq Capital, Smash Ventures,Vulcan Capital, Kleiner Perkins, Lightspeed Venture Partners and others participated in that round. Discord, a chat application for gamers, raised a $50 million financing in April at a $1.65 billion valuation from Benchmark Capital, Greylock Partners, IVP, Spark Capital and Tencent. And Dapper Labs, best known for the blockchain-based game CryptoKitties, even raised a VC round this year — a $15 million financing led by Venrock, with participation from GV and Samsung NEXT.

In total, VCs have invested $1.8 billion in gaming startups this year, per PitchBook.

Stacey Abrams Has Effectively Ended Her Campaign For Governor In Georgia

Democrat Stacey Abrams effectively ended her campaign for governor in Georgia on Friday night, accepting that Republican Brian Kemp would soon be named the official winner.

“I acknowledge that Brian Kemp will be certified as the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial election,” Abrams said at a press conference. “But to watch an elected official who claims to represent the people in this state baldly pin his hopes for election on the suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote has been truly appalling.”

She refused to call her statement a traditional concession, maintaining that the race was rife with voter suppression and unfair, but that she had limited legal options to proceed further.

“This is not a speech of concession. Because concession means an action is right, true, or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that. But my assessment is the law currently allows no further viable remedy,” Abrams said.

Voting rights has been the central issue in the race. Kemp until recently was Georgia’s secretary of state, serving as the state’s top elections official. In that role, his office held over 53,000 voter registration applications — predominantly from black voters, the AP reported — for what it called voter roll maintenance. Abrams campaign has said those efforts and others amounted to voter suppression and called on Kemp to resign as secretary of state, a step he only took last week.

In the first debate of the election, Abrams accused Kemp of creating “an atmosphere of fear” around voting in the state. Kemp refuted the claims, and blamed Abrams and her voter registration organization for “sloppy” voter applications.

National Democrats have backed Abrams up, with some high-profile senators suggesting that the election has been unfairly conducted. “If Stacey Abrams doesn’t win in Georgia, they stole it,” Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown said this week.

Abrams said Friday that she planned to soon file a “major federal lawsuit” against Georgia “for the gross mismanagement of this election and to protect future elections.”

Kemp declared the election over soon after Abrams’ remarks, and implored the state to move past “divisive politics.”

Georgia’s election officials have spent the days since last Tuesday’s election trying to count outstanding ballots in the race, where Kemp has consistently held just over 50% of the votes. That margin is crucial: Under state law, if no candidate clears 50%, the race, which featured three candidates, would go to a December two-candidate runoff election.

Abrams had pushed for a runoff since the results came in on Election Day. “If I wasn’t your first choice, or if you didn’t vote, you’re going to have a chance to do a do-over,” she said early last Wednesday morning, hours after Kemp had declared victory.

Abrams on Friday asked her supporters not to be angry, or turn away from politics. “The antidote to injustice is progress,” she said. “The cure to this malpractice is a fight for fairness in every election held, in every law passed, in every decision made.”

The House Freedom Caucus Chairman Has Been Reprimanded By The House Ethics Committee

The House Ethics Committee on Friday reprimanded Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, for his handling of sexual harassment allegations made by female staffers against his former chief-of-staff, Kenny West.

In its report, the Ethics Committee said Meadows failed to “take appropriate steps to ensure that his House office was free from discrimination and any perception of discrimination.” The committee also said it will require Meadows to reimburse the US Treasury for the “overpayment” of West’s salary, in the amount of $40,625. A spokesperson for Meadows told BuzzFeed News in an email Meadows will pay the amount.

The independent Office of Congressional Ethics’ report, which was passed along to the House Ethics Committee, said multiple female staffers complained about West in October 2014. The women alleged he had engaged in “unwanted touching, inappropriate staring and unprofessional comments.”

The House Ethics Committee, which has no jurisdiction over West, determined that the women were “credible and their testimony was consistent.” They alleged West looked up skirts, down shirts, and engaged in unwanted touching, sexual comments, and inappropriate staring.

According to the committee’s report, Meadows arranged for an independent investigation of the allegations, which was conducted by a senior staffer from Rep. Trey Gowdy’s office. But once it was completed, Meadows ignored the investigator’s recommendation to fire West. Instead, he kept West in his role in the months that followed, which meant his responsibilities and salary did not change.

Meadows, according to the committee, put in place “restrictions” to keep West away from female staff members. But they didn’t work, to the point that a congressman approached Meadows on the House floor to talk about the issue, the report states. It wasn’t until Speaker Paul Ryan’s office got involved in April 2015 that West was removed as chief of staff, but even then he was demoted to a “senior advisor” role and kept the same salary.

The House Ethics Committee, for its part, found the “restrictions” problematic, and noted in its report that an “environment where only male staff have access to the chief of staff risks unequal treatment of employees based solely on sex.”

The committee also acknowledged Meadows took “important immediate steps” in restricting West’s access to congressional offices and keeping him from contacting most female employees, but ultimately concluded “he should have done more to address that behavior and prevent it from occurring again in the future.”

Rather than cooperating with an investigation by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics that started in October 2015 —which Meadows called “a costly and burdensome process”— Meadows wrote to the House Ethics Committee, which is made up of his House peers. In the letter Meadows asked that the committee review his decision to continue paying West in the months following his resignation, noting that the continued payment was a “severance” and that West continued to engage in “legitimate official activity.”

In a statement on Friday, Meadows said he appreciated that the House Ethics Committee acknowledged “the immediate, appropriate, and good faith steps I did take after learning of my staff’s concerns—including immediately separating the chief from the accusers so they never had to interact with him personally during the independent investigation.”

“Making sure my team feels safe and secure in our office is the highest priority for me and I’m truly sorry for any stress or burden this situation caused them,” Meadows added.

Walmart passes Apple to become No. 3 online retailer in U.S.

Walmart has overtaken Apple to become the No. 3 online retailer in the U.S., according to a report this week from eMarketer. While Amazon still leads by a wide margin, accounting for 48 percent of e-commerce sales in 2018, Walmart – including also Sam’s Club and Jet.com – is poised to capture 4 percent of all online retail spending in the U.S. by year-end, totaling $20.91 billion.

The news of the shift in e-commerce rankings comes alongside Walmart’s strong earnings which saw the retailer reporting a 43 percent increase in online sales and upping its year-end forecast for both earnings and sales.

The company had beat Wall St.’s expectations in its fiscal third quarter, with $1.08 earnings per share instead of the expected $1.01. However, it fell short on revenue with $124.89 billion versus the $125.55 billion expected, due to currency complications, it said.

eMarketer had estimated in July that Walmart would capture a 3.7 percent e-commerce share in the U.S. this year, but increased that to 4 percent based on its quickly growing online sales.

This year, Walmart’s online sales will grow by 39.4 percent – just slightly behind the growth rate for online furniture and home goods retailer Wayfair, which is expected to see sales grow by 40.1 percent, the firm also noted.

Apple, meanwhile, will grow just over 18 percent in 2018 – a slowdown related to slowing domestic sales for smartphones and other devices. Its portion of the e-commerce market is relatively unchanged from 2017 to 2018, going from 3.8 percent to 3.9 percent.

Walmart, by comparison, is increasing its share from 3.3 percent to 4.0 percent.

But both are behind eBay, now at 7.2 percent. And they’re both vastly outranked by Amazon, which will account for a whopping 48 percent of the U.S. e-commerce market in 2018, up from 43.1 percent last year.

Amazon will take in more than $252.10 billion domestically this year, eMarketer said.

“Walmart’s e-commerce business has been firing on all cylinders lately,” said eMarketer principal analyst Andrew Lipsman, said in a statement. “The retail giant continues to make smart acquisitions to extend its e-commerce portfolio and attract younger and more affluent shoppers. But more than anything, Walmart has caught its stride with a fast-growing online grocery business, which is helped in large part by the massive consumer adoption of click-and-collect.”

Now The Government Says The White Supremacist They Arrested Called The Mail Bombs A “Dry Run,” Not The Pittsburgh Shooting

WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors in Washington, DC, have walked back a statement in court filings linking a white supremacist arrested on firearms charges with the alleged Pittsburgh synagogue shooter.

In a criminal complaint unsealed Nov. 13 in federal district court in Washington, an FBI special agent stated that the defendant, DC resident Jeffrey Clark Jr., posted a photo of alleged Pittsburgh shooter Robert Bowers on the social network Gab, known as a hub for the alt-right, and the comment: “Nah he was BASED! Get used to it libtards. This was a dry run for things to come.”

The agent wrote: “This statement implies that Jeffery Clark did know more about the attack in the Tree-of-Life synagogue, and that there was more to come.”

But at a detention hearing for Clark on Friday, Assistant US Attorney John Cummings Jr. told the judge that the government now believed Clark was referring to the arrest of Cesar Sayoc, the man charged with sending explosive devices to CNN and a number of current and past Democratic officials. Clark had also posted what appeared to be a photo of Sayoc’s van.

Clark’s lawyer David Bos asked US Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey to free Clark pending trial, and argued that in light of the government’s change in position about the meaning of Clark’s posts — and after numerous media outlets, including BuzzFeed News, ran stories highlighting Clark’s apparent reference to the synagogue shooting — the judge should be skeptical about the prosecution’s representations now.

Harvey ultimately granted the government’s request to keep Clark held pending trial. He found that given the combination of the evidence against Clark related to his possession of firearms, drug use, and threatening statements online — the judge said it appeared Clark wanted to start a race revolution — Clark posed a danger to the community.

The judge did press Cummings about the shifting interpretations of Clark’s Gab posts. Cummings said that when Clark made his initial appearance in court on Nov. 13, Cummings told the judge that they were continuing to investigate Clark’s statements. Once prosecutors had more information, he said they told Clark’s lawyer, and noted it in the written request for pretrial detention filed the day before the hearing.

Clark, wearing an orange prison uniform, did not speak for most of Friday’s hearing. He did not appear to have a strong reaction when the judge announced he would stay in custody pending trial. Harvey told Clark that he could appeal the judge’s decision with the US district judge taking over the case, and Clark said he understood.

Clark is due back in court before US District Judge Timothy Kelly for a status hearing on Nov. 27.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment against Clark on Thursday, charging the DC resident with unlawfully possessing firearms as the user of a controlled substance, which is a felony; Cummings said there was evidence Clark smoked marijuana, which is legal to possess in Washington, DC, but still illegal under federal law, on a daily basis. He was also charged with possessing a large-capacity ammunition magazine in violation of DC law.

Clark entered a plea of not guilty on Friday. His lawyer hinted at possible future First Amendment and Second Amendment challenges in the case — the judge noted that the federal firearms-plus-drugs charge Clark faced was rarely used.

According to the FBI agent’s affidavit in the original criminal complaint, Clark had posted online that the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting “deserved exactly what happened to them and so much worse.” After the shooting, two of Clark’s relatives contacted the FBI to express concern that he was a danger to himself and others. When the relatives went to check on Clark, he gave them four boxes of “parts to weapons” that weren’t registered to Clark or to his brother, who committed suicide hours after the Pittsburgh attack, according to the FBI.

Law enforcement recovered multiple firearms — most registered to Clark or his brother, but one gun that was not — as well as evidence of marijuana use, according to Cummings. The FBI agent’s earlier affidavit noted that Clark’s Gab profile included the phrase “Meth-Smoking” as part of his self description, but Cummings said a drug test didn’t find any evidence of methamphetamines.

If convicted of the more serious felony charge, Cummings said on Friday that Clark faced an estimated sentencing range of 15 to 21 months in prison, given his lack of previous criminal history.

Rep. Ruben Kihuen Has Been Reprimanded By The House Ethics Committee After He Was Accused Of Sexual Harassment By Multiple Women

The House Ethics Committee reprimanded outgoing Nevada Rep. Ruben Kihuen on Friday for making “persistent and unwanted advances” toward women required to interact with him for work, but did not recommend any disciplinary action against him.

Kihuen was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment starting last year when BuzzFeed News first reported on allegations of one woman, Sam, who said she left her job working as Kihuen’s campaign finance director because of his repeated harassment.

Because of the allegations, the congressman — once seen as a rising star in the Democratic caucus — chose not to run for reelection. The allegations led to the Ethics Committee investigation, but its report, which includes a decision to “reprove” Kihuen, was not made public until Friday.

Reproval by the committee is “intended to be a clear public statement of rebuke of a Member’s conduct issued by a body of that Member’s peers.” The report states that the could have “sought harsher sanctions” but found reproval to be the “appropriate” step. The committee would have lost jurisdiction over Kihuen when he is officially no longer a member of Congress.

In the course of its investigation of the allegations against Kihuen, the committee interviewed three women who said he sexually harassed them, including Sam.

“I definitely feel very relieved because, I mean, I probably shouldn’t have done this, but I read comments that people posted online,” Sam told BuzzFeed News on Friday after the Ethics Committee’s report came out. She added some of the comments had questioned whether she was telling the truth. “I think it’s important for the Ethics Committee to say, yes we believe these women, and no, we don’t think this behavior is OK.”

“I mostly just feel very relieved.”

Sam said that the Ethics Committee had not reached out to her to let her know the investigation had reached its conclusion and that she first learned about it from BuzzFeed News.

The committee’s report on Kihuen noted similarities in the allegations “[bolstered] the credibility of the complainants.” None of the women were named in the report, but Sam, who was identified as “Campaign Staffer,” and another woman identified as a “Nevada Lobbyist” both testified that Kihuen touched their thighs while in a car with him, according to the report.

Among the report’s other findings:

  • Sam and the “Nevada Lobbyist” testified that Kihuen grabbed their thighs or buttocks while alone with Kihuen in an office.

  • The “DC Firm Employee” and “Nevada Lobbyist” testified “and/or produced evidence” that Kihuen brought up their work and career advancement while making sexual advances.

In a statement on Friday after the report was made public, Kihuen said he recognized that “regardless of the fact that I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable or disrespected, what matters is how my actions were perceived by the women who came forward. It saddens me greatly to think I made any woman feel that way due to my own immaturity and overconfidence. I extend my sincere apologies to each of these women.”

He went on to say that he does “not agree with aspects of the Report.”

Trump Administration Again Considering Ways To Force People To Wait In Mexico For Their Immigration Cases

US immigration officials met this week to discuss a proposal to send those who arrive at the US-Mexico border to Mexico while their immigration cases are being processed in the United States, according to sources close to the administration.

The meeting, which included officials from US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and US Customs and Border Protection, was meant so officials could consider a potential regulation that would apply immediately to individuals at the US-Mexico border, including asylum applicants.

Such a proposal would forgo the normally deliberative system that allows for public comment before a new rule is implemented. The ACLU recently sued the administration for following such a process when it instituted major changes to asylum applications at the border.

It’s unclear how the Mexican government would react to such a proposal. The discussions appear to be a renewed effort to discuss a proposal first raised in an executive order signed by Trump in 2017. The Mexican government previously publicly rejected those plans, and the Trump administration made no effort to implement the president’s instructions.

An administration source said that discussions with the Mexican government are ongoing.

“Implementing this policy without prior approval from Mexico would be extremely detrimental for the US’s relationship with the new Mexican administration,” said Sarah Pierce, an analyst at Migration Policy Institute. “If they move forward with this, it could result in Central American asylum seekers waiting in Mexico for months or even years.”

Trump administration officials have long complained that limited detention space forces them to release migrants who then live in the country for months or years as they wait for their case to be heard in immigration courts.

The Trump administration has recently imposed a series of new policies intended to limit asylum as an avenue for entering the United States, including a recent move to block asylum for those who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.