Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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U.S. authorities are planning raids to deport hundreds of families who crossed the border illegally during the last few years' Central American migrant crisis, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Anonymous sources familiar with the preparations told the Post that as soon as January, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents will begin targeting "family units" who did not secure asylum and have been ordered to leave the country since January 1, 2014.

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As 2015 comes to a close, the crazy keeps on coming. From a Nevada politician's gun-toting family Christmas card to a Chicago news channel wishing its Jewish viewers a Happy Yom Kippur with a Nazi emblem, this year featured no shortage of scandals, mishaps and conspiracy theories -- like GOP presidential candidate's Ben Carson's notion that the Egyptian pyramids were actually built by the biblical hero Joseph to store grain.

Here are the most-read stories at TPM in 2015:

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GOP 2016er Jeb Bush defended his decision as Florida governor to take down the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol by arguing the controversy around Confederate monuments "isn't the 19th century issue, it's the 20th century issue."

"The problem with the Confederate flag isn't the Confederacy, the problem with the Confederate flag is what it began to represent later," Bush said while on a campaign stop. "And that's what we have to avoid to heal those wounds."

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Nobody puts Rand Paul in a corner -- or at least, not in an undercard debate. The Kentucky senator suggested he will boycott next month's Fox Business Network debate unless he is upgraded to the main stage.

"I won’t participate in any kind of second-tier debate,” Paul said on Kilmeade and Friends -- as picked up by Buzzfeed -- when asked about the recently released criteria, which suggests that Paul will not qualify for the top-tier debate.

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More than 8.2 million consumers either signed up for new plans on the Obamacare federal marketplace or renewed their old plans in time for Jan. 1 coverage, according to an open enrollment report released Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services Monday.

Compared to the number of enrollees at this point last year, HealthCare.Gov sign-ups are up about 30 percent, HHS said, with 2.4 million new users on the federal marketplace.

The surge comes after HHS announced that it was extending the deadline for this open enrollment period from Dec. 15 to Dec. 17, having seen an unprecedented amount of traffic on its website and call centers.

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Hillary Clinton's campaign acknowledged the current hubbub around Trump's use of the word "schlonged" to describe her defeat to Barack Obama in the 2008 election, by calling on "everyone who understands the humiliation this degrading language inflicts on all women" to respond to Trump, via tweet by campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri.

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Given how vocal the Sons of Confederate Veterans have been about the removal of Confederate monuments across the country, it’s not surprising a local chapter based in New Orleans decided to sue the city over a recently passed ordinance to remove four statues. But they're being joined in the suit by a number of preservationist groups -- some of them decades old -- that appear to take a more conventional approach to historical preservation.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans, whose Louisiana Facebook page compared the monument opponents to Islamic State terrorists, is identified as a neo-Confederate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Based in Columbia, Tennessee, it reportedly has a membership of more than 29,000, limited to "male descendants of any veteran who served honorably in the Confederate armed forces."

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Hours after the New Orleans City Council and its mayor Mitch Landrieu signed an ordinance last week to remove four Confederate monuments, a coalition of preservation groups as well the Sons of Confederate Veterans sued to block their removal. The federal lawsuit, filed Thursday in New Orleans, said the monuments' removal violated local law, federal law, the state constitution and the U.S. Constitution, according to the ABA Journal.

"Plaintiffs have a First Amendment right to free expression, free speech and free
association, which they exercise by maintaining and preserving the historic character and nature of the City of New Orleans, including their monuments, and by using the monuments as the location for events commemorating individuals and events critical to the outcome of the Civil War," the challengers -- Monumental Task Committee, Louisiana Landmarks Society, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana and the Beauregard Camp No. 130, a local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans -- wrote in the suit.

The mayor's office confirmed the city would hold-off on removing the monuments as the case proceeds, NOLA.com reported, and an initial hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 14.

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