On Day 29, Biden called an 8:00 a.m. lid for one-half inch of snowfall. On the same day he made overtures toward Iran in an attempt to jump-start nuclear deal diplomacy.
Biden Snowed In.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden took a snow day, cancelling his trip to Michigan (where it was not snowing) and calling an 8:00 a.m. lid. Because of the early lid, the 12:30 p.m. press briefing by press secretary Jen Psaki was conducted by telephone, where she couldn’t be interrupted or second guessed by muted attendees.
The dusting in Washington must not have reached Blair House, the indefinite residence of Vice President Kamala Harris, who did not cancel scheduled events on the White House complex.
This was Biden’s second snow day this month, having also cancelled activities at the State Department on February 1.
Overtures Toward Iran.
On Thursday, Biden made a series of concessions toward Iran with a view toward resurrecting the Iran nuclear deal.
In a preliminary move toward breaking the stalemate between Washington and Tehran, State Department spokesperson Ned Price announced that “the United States would accept an invitation from the European Union High Representative to attend a meeting of the P5+1 and Iran to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear program.” P5+1 refers to the permanent members of the UN Security Council—China, France, Russia, the UK, and the U.S.—plus Germany.
The Biden administration also informed the UN Security Council that it was reversing President Trump’s efforts to snapback UN sanctions on Iran and easing certain travel restrictions on Iranian diplomats to the United Nations, moves that the Iranian regime has already said are not enough.
As a candidate, Biden pledged to “offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy” if Iran would comply with its original commitments on uranium enrichment, while Iran refuses to retreat on uranium enrichment unless sanctions are lifted.
Biden addressed the U.S. relationship with Iran briefly in his Feb 5, 2021 interview on Face the Nation.
Q: Will the U.S. lift sanctions first in order to get Iran back to the negotiating table?
Q: They have to stop enriching uranium first?
New “Priorities” For Immigration Enforcement.
On Thursday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement released new interim guidelines to limit deportations and arrests of illegal immigrants carried out by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The new guidelines prioritize threats to national security and public safety and those who crossed the border on or after November 20, 2020, for deportation. A public safety threat is defined as someone who has been convicted of an aggravated felony or an active participant in a criminal street gang. From the press release:
In evaluating whether an individual poses a threat to public safety, officers and agents are to consider the extensiveness, seriousness and recency of any criminal activity, as well as mitigating factors, including, but not limited to, personal and family circumstances, health and medical factors, ties to the community, and evidence of rehabilitation.
Field officers have been instructed to seek pre-approval from supervisors before making arrests of non-citizens convicted of other crimes, such as minor drug offenses, immigration offenses, and driving under the influence.
In practice, that means ICE arrests would be limited largely to immigrants who have been convicted of felony offenses and are already detained in federal or state prisons.
The new guidelines were met with criticism on both the right and left, with border security proponents saying they prevent ICE officers from doing their job, while progressives say that the new guidelines still give ICE too much latitude on deportations.