ICE ROUND-UPS OF NON-CRIMINAL IMMIGRANTS SKYROCKET IN SOUTHEAST: “ICE continues to focus its enforcement efforts on criminal offenders,” ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said in a statement to the Observer this week. “Claims of any type of random or indiscriminate enforcement by this agency are not accurate.” But in the Southeast, ICE has steadily been arresting more immigrants who lack a criminal record, according to an Observer analysis of data released by the agency last week. The Atlanta office for the agency, which oversees Georgia and the Carolinas, has not changed the number of people it detains each year across the region in the current administration: Since at least fall 2017, it apprehended about 1,230 immigrants each month. (Arrest numbers, however, are down from the early 2010s under President Obama.) In the past year and a half, though, the percentage of those arrested who lack criminal convictions or pending charges has been rising steadily, up almost 50% in the past two years for the Atlanta field office, from 7.75% to over 11.5%.
VOTING MACHINE SWITCH MAY BE DELAYED ANOTHER YEAR: Voters in large swaths of North Carolina may use touchscreen voting equipment again for the 2020 presidential elections, despite the legislature voting in 2013 to phase out these machines in favor of paper ballots. Legislation to delay that for a third time in the last 6 years is pending at the General Assembly, and the state's elections director has backed the delay as the State Board of Elections weighs what new machines to sign off on. Separate legislation is also moving through the General Assembly to require all the companies that want to sell voting machines in North Carolina to put up a $17 million bond, a change that at least one competing vendor sees as a way to discourage competition, and the current vendor says is only fair. Meanwhile the federal government is probing poll books used in Durham in the 2016 elections for evidence of foreign tampering. State elections officials are also doing a deeper dive on the three companies hoping to sell voting machines to local boards of election, probing whether any have foreign ownership.
JUDGES RULE HOFELLER COMPUTER FILES CAN BE USED IN GERRYMANDERING LAWSUIT: The plaintiffs subpoenaed documents from the estranged daughter of longtime GOP mapmaker Tom Hofeller that turned out to be more than 75,000 files from 22 hard drives and thumb drives that she said she came across while looking for personal mementos. Tom Hofeller died last year. Those who sued told the judges last week they want to offer 35 of those files that they say will show Hofeller used partisanship as a predominant motivation to help create the 2017 districts to maximize advantage for Republicans. Lawyers for the GOP legislators argued the files mean little to the case, and can't be authenticated as authored by Hofeller because he's dead. But the judges wrote they were satisfied there was enough information from the plaintiffs, including Stephanie Hofeller's deposition testimony, to properly validate the files as coming from her father.
MUELLER & CONGRESS POSTPONE TESTIMONY TO GIVE LAWMAKERS MORE TIME TO PREP: Former special counsel Robert Mueller III and two House panels struck a deal Friday to reschedule his congressional testimony for July 24 and agreed to give lawmakers more time to question him about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump. Mueller had been scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on Wednesday in a much-anticipated public appearance since he gave a short statement following the conclusion of his nearly two-year investigation. The former FBI director is perhaps the one person lawmakers and the nation have been wanting to hear from most. Instead, Mueller will testify beginning 8:30 a.m. on July 24, the two committees announced late Friday, for an “extended period of time.” “This will allow the American public to gain further insight into the Special Counsel’s investigation and the evidence uncovered regarding Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and President Trump’s possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
U.S. HOUSE PASSES DEFENSE BILL THAT CURTAILS TRUMP'S WAR POWERS AND WELCOMES BACK TRANSGENDER TROOPS: The House gave final approval Friday to a defense bill that would put a liberal stamp on military policy by shackling President Trump’s ability to wage war in Iran and Yemen, restricting the use of military funds at the southwestern border and returning transgender troops to the armed forces. The $733 billion National Defense Authorization Act was passed along stark party lines — 220 to 197 — with Republicans uniting to oppose the legislation. The defense policy bill has traditionally been a bipartisan exercise, but House Republicans have come out strongly against this year’s version. The bill still must be reconciled with a Senate version that is considerably less confrontational with the Trump administration. And it is likely Senate negotiators will try to strip out many of the House’s provisions. Last month, Mr. Trump led the United States to the brink of a retaliatory missile strike before abruptly reversing course minutes before launch.