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Biden’s Immigration Plan Would Offer Path to Citizenship For Millions


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Congressional Democrats Introduce Eight-year Path to Citizenship

Democrats on Capitol Hill unveiled their immigration overhaul on Thursday that would expand worker visas in an effort to modernize the immigration system and provide a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented Americans.

“That’s why we today, collectively, are introducing the U.S. Citizenship Act in the Senate and the House, legislation that brings to life President Biden’s plan to restore humanity and American values to our immigration system. It’s our vision. It’s our vision of what immigration reform should look like. And it’s a bill we can all be proud of. It will modernize our system, offer a path to citizenship for hardworking people in our communities, reunite families, increase opportunities for legal immigration and ensure America remains a powerhouse for innovation and a beacon of hope to refugees around the world. Our system is broken. We have 11 million undocumented people living, working and raising families in our communities without legal status. These are good and decent people who believe in the promise of America down to their bones. They did not come here for handouts. They came here for hard work. And that’s exactly what they do each and every day. They work really hard.” “Today, we have an administration and a president that understands that the success of our country is interwoven and linked to the success of our immigrant communities, and it is time that we finally put in place an immigration system that’s based on that reality. Immigrants are good for our communities, for our economy and for our country.”

Democrats on Capitol Hill unveiled their immigration overhaul on Thursday that would expand worker visas in an effort to modernize the immigration system and provide a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented Americans.CreditCredit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

President Biden’s allies on Capitol Hill formally introduced his immigration overhaul in the House on Thursday morning, making good on his campaign promise to seek to modernize the nation’s immigration system and provide a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented Americans.

“We’re here today because last November 80 million Americans voted against Donald Trump and against everything he stood for,” Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, said at a virtual news conference. “They voted to restore common sense, compassion, and competence in our government. And part of that mandate is fixing our immigration system, which is a cornerstone of Trump’s hateful horror show.”

The unveiling puts a spotlight on a high-profile and thorny political issue that Mr. Biden is hoping to address, despite the steep political challenges associated with moving immigration legislation in Congress.

It comes at a time when the president and Democratic lawmakers are already in the midst of another major legislative undertaking: passing another coronavirus relief package. A planned trip by Mr. Biden to visit a Pfizer vaccine manufacturing facility in Michigan on Thursday was postponed until Friday because of a winter storm in the Washington area.

Though Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan is all but certain to command attention on Capitol Hill in the near term, the introduction of the immigration overhaul provides a reminder that a number of daunting issues unrelated to the pandemic lie ahead as well.

Mr. Menendez and Representative Linda T. Sánchez, Democrat of California, unveiled the immigration legislation, which will be called the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 and is based on a proposal Mr. Biden announced on his first day in office. The two lawmakers were joined by 10 of their colleagues for the announcement.

The centerpiece of the legislation is an eight-year path to citizenship for most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States as of Jan. 1. After passing background checks and paying taxes, they would be allowed to live and work in the United States for five years. After that, they could apply for a green card, giving them permanent status in the United States and the opportunity to win citizenship after three more years.

But the bill tries to make the most far-reaching changes in immigration law in more than three decades. It would sweep away restrictions on family-based immigration, making it easier for spouses and children to join their families already in the country. And it would expand worker visas to allow more foreigners to come to the United States for jobs.

Unlike previous efforts to overhaul immigration, the legislation does not include a large focus on increased border enforcement. Instead, the bill adds resources to process migrants legally at ports of entry and invests $4 billion over four years in distressed economies in the hopes of preventing people from fleeing to the United States because of security and economic crises.

Mr. Menendez acknowledged that it would be difficult to win the support of the 10 Republican senators needed to pass Mr. Biden’s legislation. The Senate is split 50-50 and Democrats will need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

But Mr. Menendez rejected arguments by some immigration advocates that Congress should pursue more targeted bills that provide citizenship to smaller, more discrete groups of undocumented people.

“We will never win an argument that we don’t have the courage to make,” he said. “We will do the righteous thing and make our case for both inclusive and lasting immigration reform. And we have seen in poll after poll, the vast majority of Americans are standing with us.”

Thomas Kaplan contributed reporting.

President Hassan Rouhani during a cabinet meeting in the capital Tehran.
Credit…Iranian Presidency/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The United States took a major step on Thursday toward restoring the Iran nuclear deal that the Trump administration abandoned, offering to join European nations in what would be the first substantial diplomacy with Tehran in more than four years, Biden administration officials said.

In a series of moves intended to make good on one of President Biden’s most significant campaign promises, the administration backed away from a Trump administration effort to restore United Nations sanctions on Iran. That effort had divided Washington from its European allies.

And at the same time, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken told European foreign ministers in a call on Thursday morning that the United States would join them in seeking to restore the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, which he said “was a key achievement of multilateral diplomacy.”

Hours later, Enrique Mora, the European Union’s deputy secretary general for political affairs, appealed to the original signers of the nuclear deal to salvage it from “a critical moment.”

“Intense talks with all participants and the US,” Mr. Mora said on Twitter. “I am ready to invite them to an informal meeting to discuss the way forward.”

Mr. Biden has said he would lift sanctions imposed by President Donald J. Trump only if Iran returns to the limits on nuclear production that it observed until 2019.

The announcement will open what is likely to be a delicate set of diplomatic offerings. A State Department official said the United States had no indication whether Iran will accept the offer, and cautioned that the prospect of a meeting was a first step in what would be a lengthy, difficult process toward restoring the nuclear deal.

The State Department said that Iran must return to full compliance with the deal — as the Biden administration has insisted — before the United States would unwind a number of American economic sanctions that Mr. Trump imposed against Tehran, crippling the Iranian economy.

Until then, and as a good-will gesture, the Biden administration withdrew a demand from last fall that the United Nations Security Council enforce international sanctions against Iran for violating the original 2015 agreement that limited its nuclear program.

Nearly every other nation had rejected the Trump administration’s insistence that the United States could invoke the so-called snap back sanctions because it was no longer a part of the accord.

Additionally, the Biden administration is lifting travel restrictions on Iranian officials who seek to enter the United States to attend U.N. meetings, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity before the actions were announced.

The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said on Twitter that Tehran was waiting for American and European officials to “demand an end to Trump’s legacy of #EconomicTerrorism against Iran.”

“We’ll follow ACTION w/ action,” Mr. Zarif tweeted.

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Women Leaving Work Force Is a ‘National Emergency,’ Harris Says

In a meeting with women leaders, Vice President Kamala Harris said high numbers of women being pushed from the work force by the pandemic can be largely addressed by the Biden administration’s coronavirus relief plan.

“Our economy cannot fully recover unless women can participate fully. So I believe, I think we all believe, this is a national emergency — women leaving the workforce in these numbers, it’s a national emergency, and it demands a national solution. We do believe that the American Rescue Plan is a very big part of the solution to this issue. And in many ways; one, it will get immediate relief to women workers, including $1,400 checks to those who need it. And at least $3,000 in tax credits to parents for each of their children. And the beauty of the significance of this is by doing that, we will lift up nearly half of the children who are living in poverty in our country. The American Rescue Plan will also provide funding to help schools safely reopen, and make a big investment in child care to help providers keep their doors open. And it will get America vaccinated. So simply put, the American Rescue Plan will help get women back to work.” “Women are not opting out of the workforce. They are being pushed by inadequate policies. So we have an opportunity not just to throw money at a problem, but to build that architecture for the future. Use this as a moment to address the serious inequities that have been further exposed by the coronavirus pandemic.” “Do not underestimate the impacts from enhanced unemployment benefits, pandemic unemployment assistance and economic payments that have come directly into our families. They are a lifeline and we have to continue this.”

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In a meeting with women leaders, Vice President Kamala Harris said high numbers of women being pushed from the work force by the pandemic can be largely addressed by the Biden administration’s coronavirus relief plan.CreditCredit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Vice President Kamala Harris said on Thursday that the 2.5 million women who have left the work force since the beginning of the pandemic constituted a “national emergency,” one that she said could be addressed by the Biden administration’s coronavirus relief plan.

That number, according to Labor Department data, compares with 1.8 million men who have left the work force. For many women, the demands of child care, coupled with layoffs and furloughs in an economy hit hard by the pandemic, have forced them out of the labor market.

The vice president painted a dire picture of the reality that millions of American women are facing during the pandemic. “Our economy cannot fully recover unless women can participate fully,” Ms. Harris said on a video call held with several women’s advocacy groups and lawmakers.

As part of its $1.9 trillion relief plan, the Biden administration has outlined several elements that officials say will ease the burden on unemployed and working women, including $3,000 in tax credits issued to families for each child, a $40 billion investment in child care assistance and an extension of unemployment benefits. Ms. Harris said that the package would “lift up nearly half of the children that are living in poverty” in the United States, a claim backed by a Columbia University analysis of the plan.

A recent Quinnipiac poll showed broad support for the Biden administration’s proposal. It has no Republican support in Congress, but Democrats aim to pass the plan using a fast track budgetary process, known as reconciliation, which would allow them to push it through the Senate with a simple majority.

Female employment began plummeting almost immediately once the virus took hold last spring, according to a report published last year by researchers at the University of Arkansas and the Center for Economic and Social Research at the University of Southern California.

Non-college educated women and women of color have been disproportionately affected. Another report, published last fall by the Brookings Institution, showed that nearly half of all working women have low-paying jobs, which are more likely to be held by Black or Latina women and in sectors, including dining and travel, that are among the least likely to return soon to a degree of normalcy.

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Ted Cruz Leaves Mexico Amid Winter Emergency in Texas

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas flew home from a vacation to Mexico after receiving heavy criticism for leaving the state while millions have struggled with a lack of electricity and water after a brutal winter storm.

Keep working to get the grid reopened, to get power restored, get water back on. A lot of Texans are hurting, and this crisis is frustrating. It’s frustrating for millions of Texans, it shouldn’t happen.

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Senator Ted Cruz of Texas flew home from a vacation to Mexico after receiving heavy criticism for leaving the state while millions have struggled with a lack of electricity and water after a brutal winter storm.CreditCredit…Reuters

Like millions of his constituents across Texas, Senator Ted Cruz had a frigid home without electricity this week amid the state’s power crisis. But unlike most, Mr. Cruz got out, fleeing Houston and hopping a Wednesday afternoon flight to Cancún with his family for a respite at a luxury resort.

Photos of Mr. Cruz and his wife, Heidi, boarding the flight ricocheted quickly across social media and left both his political allies and rivals aghast at a tropical trip as a disaster unfolded at home. The blowback only intensified after Mr. Cruz, a Republican, released a statement saying he had flown to Mexico “to be a good dad” and accompany his daughters and their friends; he noted he was flying back Thursday afternoon, though he did not disclose how long he had originally intended to stay.

Text messages sent from Ms. Cruz to friends and Houston neighbors on Wednesday revealed a hastily planned trip. Their house was “FREEZING,” as Ms. Cruz put it — and she proposed a getaway until Sunday. Ms. Cruz invited others to join them at the Ritz-Carlton in Cancún, where they had stayed “many times,” noting the room price this week ($309 per night) and its good security. The text messages were provided to The New York Times and confirmed by a second person on the thread, who declined to be identified because of the private nature of the texts.

For more than 12 hours after the airport departure photos first emerged, Mr. Cruz’s office declined to comment on his whereabouts. The Houston police confirmed that the senator’s office had sought their assistance for his airport trip on Wednesday, and eventually Mr. Cruz was spotted wheeling his suitcase in Mexico on Thursday as he returned to the state he represents in the Senate.

As the Cruzes were away, millions of Texans were still without electricity, many had no running water and the icy air that swept into the state was so severe that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had been activated to send supplies, including generators. Some searched neighborhoods for discarded fallen trees to burn for warmth.

“What’s happening in Texas is unacceptable,” Mr. Cruz told a television crew at the Cancún airport. He was wearing a Texas state flag mask and a short-sleeved polo shirt tucked into his jeans; the temperature in Cancún was above 80 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday, and in the 30s in Houston.

Even before he left town, Mr. Cruz’s critics were already recirculating tweets he sent last summer criticizing California for being “unable to perform even basic functions of civilization” after the state’s governor asked residents to conserve electricity during a spate of deadly wildfires. Mr. Cruz lampooned California’s “failed energy policy” as the product of liberal excess.

Mr. Cruz had been acutely aware of the possible crisis in advance. In a radio interview on Monday, he said the state could see 100 or more deaths this week. “So don’t risk it. Keep your family safe and just stay home and hug your kids,” he said.

More recently, in December, Mr. Cruz had attacked a Democrat, Mayor Stephen Adler of Austin, for taking a trip to Cabo while telling constituents to “stay home” during the pandemic.

“Hypocrites,” Mr. Cruz wrote on Twitter. “Complete and utter hypocrites.”

Vlad Tenev, the chief of Robinhood, during his testimony on Thursday.
Credit…House Financial Services Committee, via Associated Press

Politicians from both parties wanted to identify a villain for the mania that surrounded the trading in GameStop stock last month that roiled the markets, alarmed Wall Street and made winners and losers of many small investors. On Thursday, they took aim at Vlad Tenev, the chief executive of Robinhood, the free trading app that fueled much of the buying and selling.

“You are at the center of this,” Representative David Scott, a Democrat from Georgia, told Mr. Tenev, who received more than half of all the questions asked at a congressional hearing conducted via videoconference. “Don’t you see and agree that something very wrong happened here? And that you are at the center of it?”

Members of the House Financial Services Committee called the hearing to try to make sense of why the stock of GameStop — a troubled video game retailer that was once a mainstay of suburban malls — had attracted so many small investors in late January. They also wanted to know whether Wall Street players that were involved in the trading benefited at the expense of those small investors, and whether the events highlighted shortcomings of market structure or regulation.

But mostly, they wanted to know if Robinhood, a Silicon Valley start-up that rode to success on the strength of its message to democratize finance, was actually encouraging customers to take unnecessary risks and making money at their expense.

Most of the panelists were major players during a two-week period last month, when millions of small investors egged on one another via Reddit and other online forums to buy GameStop, driving the stock to stratospheric levels. Those small investors were at least partly motivated by a desire to hurt big Wall Street firms, like Melvin Capital, which had bet that GameStop’s shares would fall.

Several lawmakers pointed out how, after Robinhood curtailed trading in GameStop and a dozen other stocks last month, it was slow to explain why it had done so. That gave rise to several conspiracy theories that Robinhood was making decisions at the bidding of hedge funds like Melvin Capital and Citadel.

Mr. Tenev categorically denied that was the case. “We don’t answer to hedge funds,” he said. “We serve the millions of small investors who use our platform every day to invest.”

But Mr. Tenev’s response did not satisfy several of the members of Congress.

“There is an innate tension in your business model, between democratizing finance, which is a noble calling, and being a conduit to feed fish to sharks,” Representative Sean Casten, a Democrat from Illinois, said.

Donald F. McGahn II was President Donald J. Trump's White House counsel until late 2018.
Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The White House and congressional Democrats are divided over a politically charged lawsuit that raises novel constitutional issues: the House’s long-running attempt to compel Donald J. Trump’s former White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, to testify about Mr. Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Russia inquiry.

When Democrats only controlled one institution — the House — it was simpler for their leaders to unite behind subpoenaing Mr. McGahn. But those who now run the executive branch, especially President Biden’s White House lawyers, are hesitant about establishing a precedent that might be someday used to force them to testify before lawmakers about internal matters.

A glimpse of the disconnect became public late on Wednesday, when the Justice Department — which under Mr. Trump had been representing Mr. McGahn in fighting the lawsuit — asked an appeals court to delay arguments in the case scheduled for Tuesday in part because of the change in administrations.

“The new administration wishes to explore whether an accommodation might be available with respect to the Committee’s request,” the filing said. “Discussions among the relevant parties have begun, and the new administration believes the parties would benefit from additional time to pursue these discussions.”

But Douglas N. Letter, a lawyer for House Democrats — and, effectively, Speaker Nancy Pelosi — opposed that motion, urging the full Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to press forward without delay.

“We appreciate the Biden administration’s efforts to settle this case, and we have actively participated in those efforts,” Mr. Letter wrote. “But we do not believe that postponing the argument will improve the prospect of a settlement or serve the interests of judicial efficiency or fairness to the parties.”

House Democrats were frustrated that the Trump administration’s uncompromising approach and litigation strategy succeeded in running out the clock, preventing any testimony by Mr. McGahn before the 2020 election. In his motion, Mr. Letter raised doubts that any compromise involving Mr. Trump will be possible, warning that delay could further thwart Congress’s constitutional oversight powers.

The case centers on Mr. McGahn’s role as an important witness in the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, about efforts by Mr. Trump to obstruct the investigation. After the Justice Department made most of the report public, the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Mr. McGahn to testify at an oversight hearing. When he refused to appear, on Mr. Trump’s instructions, the committee sued.

The Justice Department has argued that Mr. McGahn was “absolutely immune” from any compelled appearance before Congress to testify about his work duties. But in August of last year, the full District of Columbia Circuit rejected that theory. Justice Department lawyers under the Trump administration continued to fight the subpoena on other legal grounds, however, prompting the new round of arguments before the full court set for Tuesday.

Navajo Nation volunteers prepared to distribute drinking water to families in need outside Monument Valley Tribal Park in Arizona in the spring. 
Credit…Mark Ralston/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

When President Biden introduced Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico as his pick for interior secretary, making her the first Native American to be selected for a cabinet position, he acknowledged the country’s long history of failing the land’s first citizens.

“The federal government has long broken promises to Native American tribes who have been on this land since time immemorial,” he said. “With her appointment, Congresswoman Haaland will help me strengthen the nation to nation relationship.”

But with Mr. Biden’s election and Ms. Haaland’s nomination, tribal communities are looking for more than vague pledges.

Angry over their treatment during the Trump administration, which oversaw a deeply flawed response to the pandemic on tribal lands and pursued other policies at odds with Native American priorities, they are now hopeful that Mr. Biden, who benefited from their enthusiastic support in battleground states like Arizona last year, will back a far-reaching agenda to address the poverty that has long ravaged their communities.

They are pushing to ensure that any infrastructure plan the Biden administration pursues includes substantial money to improve access to water and electricity and to improve roads and bridges. They want more funding for their woeful health care service. They want changes to federal land use policy to minimize environmental damage from energy projects. And they want a renewed commitment to improving their schools.

In more than a dozen interviews with tribal leaders, health officials and lawyers across the country, many expressed cautious optimism that the Biden administration will follow through on efforts to address 150 years of systematic failures and breaches of treaty agreements.

“The Trump administration left us out in the cold when it came to the pandemic — all the federal aid that came as a result of the stimulus act, and other acts, throughout this year were meant to try to help entities deal with the pandemic, but we were left out in the cold,” said Tim Davis, chairman of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana.

“There is so much we are going to have to do and we are hoping we will get that opportunity with the new administration,” Mr. Davis added.

Ivanka Trump, former President Donald J. Trump’s eldest daughter, and her family permanently moved to Florida.
Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Ivanka Trump will not run for the U.S. Senate from Florida in 2022, according to people close to her as well as an aide to Senator Marco Rubio, who holds the seat.

Since the final days of former President Trump’s term in office, speculation has been growing that Ms. Trump, his eldest daughter, might try to run for statewide office in Florida, where she and her family have moved permanently. Such a bid would involve a primary challenge to a sitting Republican senator, Mr. Rubio, and a competitive general election.

“Marco did speak with Ivanka a few weeks ago,” said Nick Iacovella, a spokesman for Mr. Rubio. “Ivanka offered her support for Marco’s re-election. They had a great talk.”

A person close to Ms. Trump also confirmed the conversation, and said that a Senate run was never something she was seriously considering. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose private discussions, said that Mr. Rubio’s office had asked Ms. Trump to hold off on making clear she was not running until April, when they hoped to hold a joint event with her.

Mr. Iacovella, while not confirming that there was a request for Ms. Trump to delay speaking publicly, said there was a discussion of an event with her to highlight the work that she and Mr. Rubio have done on an expanded child tax credit that was part of the tax bill Mr. Trump pushed for early in his term.

In separate statements, the two Republicans heaped praise on each other. Ms. Trump described Mr. Rubio as a “good personal friend and I know he will continue to drive meaningful progress on issues we both care deeply about.” Mr. Rubio thanked her for her “friendship” and for work they did together while she worked in the White House.

The discussion of whether Ms. Trump would seek the Senate seat in the battleground state came as her sister-in-law, Lara Trump, had let it be known that she was thinking of running for the U.S. Senate from her native state of North Carolina. But people briefed on the discussions said that Lara Trump was also unlikely to run.

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at the White house on Wednesday.
Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

As the United States resets under new leadership, Europe is charting its own course on Russia and China in ways that do not necessarily align with President Biden’s goals.

On Friday, Mr. Biden will address the Munich Security Conference, a gathering of leaders and diplomats from Europe and the United States that he has attended for decades. Speaking there two years ago, he lamented the damage the Trump administration had inflicted on Washington’s relationship with Europe’s major capitals and promised that the United States would again “shoulder our responsibility of leadership.”

The president’s remarks on Friday are sure to repeat that promise and spotlight his now-familiar call for a more unified Western front against the anti-democratic threats posed by Russia and China.

But if by “leadership” Mr. Biden means a return to the traditional American assumption — we decide and you follow — many Europeans feel that that world is gone. The continent has its own set of interests and ideas about how to manage the United States’ two main rivals.

China has long been a vital trade partner for Europe. While European leaders see Beijing as a rival and competitor, they hardly view it as an enemy. And Russia remains a nuclear-armed neighbor, however truculent, and has financial and emotional leverage of its own.

“Biden is signaling an incredibly hawkish approach to Russia, lumping it in with China, and defining a new global Cold War against authoritarianism,” said Jeremy Shapiro, the research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

That makes many European leaders nervous, he said. And other regional experts said they had seen fewer signs of overt enthusiasm from the Continent than Biden administration officials might have hoped for.

Bob Dole paying his respects to former President George H.W. Bush at the Capitol in 2018. Mr. Dole represented Kansas in the Senate for more than 25 years.
Credit…Erin Schaff for The New York Times

Bob Dole, the former senator and 1996 Republican presidential nominee, announced on Thursday that he had advanced lung cancer.

“Recently, I was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer,” Mr. Dole said in a statement. “My first treatment will begin on Monday. While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own.”

Mr. Dole, 97, represented Kansas in the Senate for more than 25 years, including 11 years as the chamber’s Republican leader. He gave up his position as majority leader to run for the White House in 1996, only to lose to President Bill Clinton by a large margin, 379 electoral votes to 159.

He has faced health challenges for decades, starting with a battlefield injury during World War II, in which he served as an Army second lieutenant. He was hit by machine-gun fire, which almost killed him and permanently limited his use of his right arm. He went on to support the Americans with Disabilities Act, passed in 1990, and later pushed for the United States to join the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.

Mr. Dole — the oldest living former presidential nominee or president, one year older than former President Jimmy Carter — disclosed his lung cancer diagnosis a day after the conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh died of the same disease.

From left, Jabir McKnight, Mike McQuerry and Remmington Belford, aides to members of Congress, were at work on Capitol Hill during the mob attack on Jan. 6.
Credit…Brandon Bell for The New York Times

Jabir McKnight woke up on the morning of Jan. 6 with an uneasy feeling.

As he walked that Wednesday to Capitol Hill, where he had always felt safe, images of white supremacist violence in Charleston, S.C., and Charlottesville, Va., began to race through his head.

Hours before the violent pro-Trump mob rampaged through the halls of Congress, leaving nearly 140 police officers injured and five people dead, Mr. McKnight recalled, he could not shake the sense that something very bad was about to happen.

“The writing was on the wall for this,” said Mr. McKnight, 23, who is the communications director for Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas.

Only a small percentage of congressional aides are Black. Since the attack, Mr. McKnight and others who were in nearby offices in the Capitol complex that day have been talking among themselves about how close the violence came to them, what it means to experience such a virulent expression of racism in what is supposed to be a citadel of liberty, and the suspicion they now feel toward other aides, members of Congress and random people they encounter as they go about their business on Capitol Hill.

“It makes the trauma worse,” Mr. McKnight said. “Because as you’re walking around, you don’t know who could have been involved with what.”

Symbols of racism and white supremacy were on full display at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Rioters paraded the Confederate battle flag through the halls. One man wore a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt, while others flew the flag of the fictional country Kekistan, which mimics a Nazi war flag.

The staff members described feelings of fear about the physical threat and anger about the psychic damage done by the mob.

“I never though I’d see the Confederate flag walked through the halls of Congress,” said Mike McQuerry, 50, the communications director for Delegate Stacey Plaskett, Democrat of the Virgin Islands and an impeachment manager in the trial of former President Donald J. Trump. “As much as we think we’ve had progress, we haven’t progressed that much.”

After the siege, congressional aides have reported trouble sleeping and feeling anxious, claustrophobic, angry and depressed. Lawmakers have requested additional resources to support the mental health needs of employees in response to surging demand.

Despite what they experienced that day, Mr. McQuerry, who is from Detroit, said staff members felt an obligation to push on with work.

“There’s not that many of us that work up here,” he said of Black aides to members of Congress. “It’s affected us tremendously. We have to just push through. I think we deal with it every day. PTSD is really real.”





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