Trump Once Again Rejects Puerto Rican Death Toll : ‘FIFTY TIMES LAST ORIGINAL NUMBER – NO WAY!’

On Friday night, President Donald Trump tweeted out a quote from the Washington Post in a pair of tweets defending his decidedly false claim that 3000 people did not die as the result of hurricanes in Puerto Rico.

“’When Trump visited the island territory last October, OFFICIALS told him in a briefing 16 PEOPLE had died from Maria.’ The Washington Post. This was long AFTER the hurricane took place. Over many months it went to 64 PEOPLE. Then, like magic, ‘3000 PEOPLE KILLED.’ They hired…” Trump tweeted out in the first part of the tweet.

Then 18 minutes later, he added: “GWU Research to tell them how many people had died in Puerto Rico (how would they not know this?). This method was never done with previous hurricanes because other jurisdictions know how many people were killed. FIFTY TIMES LAST ORIGINAL NUMBER – NO WAY!”

The quote Trump tweeted out appears to be referencing this statement from WaPo:

When Trump visited the island territory last October, officials told him in a briefing that 16 people had died from Maria. But Puerto Rican officials doubled the death toll to 34 later that day.

That quote comes from an article titled, “Trump creates political storm with false claim on Puerto Rico hurricane death toll.”

The reference to GWU Research refers to the independent research study the Puerto Rican government commissioned to track the hurricane deaths.

The whole kerfuffle started with another, earlier tweet where Trump wrote, “3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico.”

As CNN and WaPo noted, Trump’s claim that 3000 people did not die does not stack up to the facts.

[Mediaite]

DHS transferred $169 million from other programs to ICE for migrant detention

The Department of Homeland Security transferred $169 million from other agencies to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the detention and removal of migrants this year, according to a document sent to Congress by DHS.

Many of the transfers came from key national security programs, including $1.8 million from the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, $9.8 million from FEMA, $29 million from the U.S. Coast Guard and more than $34 million from several TSA programs. DHS also transferred $33 million from other ICE programs to pay for detention and removal, making the total amount of money transferred $202 million.

The FEMA and Coast Guard transfers were first reported by “The Rachel Maddow Show.” On Tuesday night, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., announced on the show that nearly $10 million was moved from FEMA’s budget to ICE. The budget document Merkley cited, which was later released and publicized by the DHS Watch program at America’s Voice, an advocacy group based in Washington, showed a breakdown of how DHS moved money between different programs and agencies.

The department has the authority to move funds around internally with the approval of Congress and transfers are not unusual. The total DHS budget for fiscal 2018 was $65 billion; FEMA’s total budget was $15.5 billion.

DHS spokesperson Tyler Houlton tweeted Tuesday night that, “Under no circumstances was any disaster relief funding transferred from @fema to immigration enforcement efforts. This is a sorry attempt to push a false agenda.” He also said that the transferred money came from routine operating expenses and “could not have been used for hurricane response due to appropriation limitations.”

On Wednesday, FEMA director Brock Long told Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News, that none of the $10 million transferred from FEMA to ICE came from the Disaster Relief Fund, saying that Merkley was “playing politics” ahead of Hurricane Florence.

However, money was taken from the response and recovery, preparedness and protection and mission support operations budgets, which are used to prepare for emergencies like Florence. Those FEMA budgets are for “training for all hazards, preparing our warehouses, making sure we have things ready to go so that we can pre-deploy like you see FEMA doing now,” Moira Whelan, FEMA’s former chief of staff for the office of Gulf Coast rebuilding, told Maddow on Wednesday.“Taking money away from that operation doesn’t just harm [FEMA’s hurricane response], it harms us with any disaster we face.”

DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the other transferred funds.

DHS stated in the document that the transfers to ICE were made due to “increasing operational demands.” The transfers were requested so ICE could add more than 2,000 detention center beds on top of 38,000 adult beds it predicted it would need in its initial budget request for the year. Those beds cost an additional $93 million above the allocated budget, according to the document provided to Congress.

The number of detained migrant children in federally contracted shelters has also increased, growing fivefold in the past year,The New York Times reported Wednesday.

ICE also expanded two kinds of flight operations as part of its removal program, increasing the cost of the already $369 million program by $107 million. Its daily air charter services alone increased by 28 percent this year.

The AP reported Wednesday that according to the office of Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, DHS notified Congress on June 30 that it wanted to transfer $200 million from other agencies to ICE, including the funds from FEMA. Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the transfer was approved by the Republican subcommittee chairs and no Democrats signed off on it.

The transfers occurred in August. Ur Jaddou, director of DHS Watch, called the reshuffling of funds an example of “upside down priorities.”

Jaddou said the document suggests the Trump administration would rather separate families “and detain and deport parents [than] prepare for hurricanes.”

[NBC News]

Trump says Puerto Rico death toll inflated by Democrats: ‘3000 people did not die’

President Trump on Thursday accused Democrats, without evidence, of inflating the 3,000-person death count from last year’s hurricanes in Puerto Rico in order “to make me look bad.”

The stunning accusation is Trump’s latest attempt to defend his handling of natural disasters as Hurricane Florence bears down on the Southeastern U.S.

In a series of tweets, Trump disputed an independent report commissioned by Puerto Rico’s government that raised the death toll from Hurricane Maria to 2,975.

“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths,” Trump tweeted. “As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000.”

The president said the number was manufactured “by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico.”

“If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!” he added.

Trump’s latest comments drew an instant rebuke from San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who accused the president of minimizing the plight of Puerto Rico.

“This is what denial following neglect looks like: Mr Pres in the real world people died on your watch. YOUR LACK OF RESPECT IS APPALLING!” she tweeted.

As he prepares for Hurricane Florence, Trump has repeatedly argued that his response to Hurricane Maria was a success, despite the record-high death toll, widespread devastation and power outages and intense criticism from local officials.

The president warned Americans in Florence’s path to take precautions while meeting with federal officials to show his administration is ready for the potentially devastating storm.

But he has also made several remarks claiming he has not received proper credit for his response to Maria at a time when Puerto Ricans have given him very low marks for his handling of the storm.

A Washington Post–Kaiser Family Foundation study showed 80 percent of island residents disapprove of his response.

Trump’s claims fly in the face of a George Washington University study commissioned by Puerto Rico’s governor examining the effects of Maria in the six months following landfall in September 2017.

The long time period was used to determine the hurricane’s lingering effect on deaths on the island. It compared the death rates in the post-hurricane period to other periods not affected by natural disasters.

Puerto Rico’s government endorsed the results of the study once it was released and raised its official death toll, which previously sat at 64. Skeptics believed the number was too low, given that Maria resulted in widespread property damage and destroyed key infrastructure across the island.

Nonetheless, Trump has sought to convince Americans that his account of the hurricane response is correct.

“We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida (and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico, even though an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan). We are ready for the big one that is coming!” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

Those comments have reignited Trump’s feud with Puerto Rican officials, including Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, who has typically avoided confrontations with the president.
“No relationship between a colony and the federal government can ever be called ‘successful’ because Puerto Ricans lack certain inalienable rights enjoyed by our fellow Americans in the states,” Rosselló said in a Wednesday statement.
 
The governor also called on Trump to redouble federal assistance for recovery efforts so that the island can fully recover, calling Maria “the worst natural disaster in our modern history.”
 
Trump has struggled at playing the role of consoler-in-chief in times of national crisis. He drew criticism during his post-hurricane tour of Puerto Rico last October for throwing paper towels to people in a crowd and feuding with Cruz.
 
The president at the time downplayed the damage caused by Maria, saying it paled in comparison to a “real catastrophe” like Hurricane Katrina, which killed an estimated 1,800 people along the Gulf Coast in 2005. He also complained that federal relief efforts in Puerto Rico blew a hole in the federal budget.
“The missing part was empathy,” Trump’s former homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, said in an interview with The New York Times. “I wish he’d paused and expressed that, instead of just focusing on the response success.”
 
Hurricane Florence has weakened slightly from a Category 3 to Category 2 storm. But it is expected to cause widespread property damages, millions of power outages and possible loss of life in the Carolinas and Georgia.

[The Hill]

Trump Attacks Puerto Ricans, ‘Totally Incompetent’ San Juan Mayor Ahead of Hurricane Florence

MAs Hurricane Florence is about to bear down on the southeastern U.S. coastline, President Trump is attacking San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz for her criticism of the government’s “unappreciated great job” of how it handled the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Here’s the part where Trump advised people to take appropriate safety measures to prepare for Florence.

Yesterday, Trump held a pool spray where he bragged about about the federal government’s “unsung success” in handling the disaster in Puerto Rico last year. These remarks were panned immediately by critics who wonder how Trump can possibly call the recovery a success when almost 3,000 died as a result of the storm.

Last night, Cruz responded to Trump by blasting his “despicable” comments and “lack of understanding of reality.” Puerto Ricans governor Ricardo Rosselló also gave a statement, saying the island is still in the middle of a crisis, and he also criticized the “unfair and unAmerican” relationship between Puerto Rico and Washington.

[Mediaite]

US cracking down on citizenship for hundreds of Hispanics along border

The Trump administration is reportedly accusing hundreds of Hispanics living along the U.S.-Mexico border of having fraudulent birth certificates, stripping some of their passports and throwing their citizenship into question.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that cases it examined and interviews with immigration attorneys suggest a dramatic increase in immigration enforcement and a decrease in the number of passports issued by the U.S.

Some passport applicants with official U.S. birth certificates are being jailed in detention facilities as they await immigration proceedings, while others have had their passports revoked when they tried to reenter the U.S., The Post reported.

The newspaper did not say exactly how many people the U.S. appears to be investigating for allegedly having fraudulent birth certificates. The Post reported that the administration “is accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands.”

A State Department official told The Hill in a statement that the agency “has not changed policy or practice regarding the adjudication of passport applications.”

“There are numerous reasons why a customer may be asked to provide additional documentation or information. The burden of proving one’s identity and citizenship falls on the applicant for a U.S. passport regardless of where the application was submitted,” the official said.

The official said that “the U.S.-Mexico border region happens to be an area of the country where there has been a significant incidence of citizenship fraud.”

The U.S. government has alleged that fraud is sometimes perpetrated by midwives and other birth attendants who sell legal birth certificates to children born in Mexico.

“This fraud is often documented through convictions, plea agreements, and confessions by midwives, mothers, and other family members,” the State Department official said.

According to The Post, the State Department under former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama investigated people who had been delivered by midwives in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley based on a 1993 case in which a midwife pleaded guilty to selling Texas birth certificates to parents of children born in Mexico.

After the government settled in a case involving the American Civil Liberties Union in 2009, the number of passport denials dropped off, according to The Post.

Now, the government is apparently denying passports to those it suspects of having fraudulent birth certificates at an increasing rate, regardless of whether they were delivered by midwives, the newspaper reported.

The State Department official emphasized that “the standard for determining whether a person is entitled to a passport, regardless of whether the person was born in a home, hospital, or with the assistance of a doctor or midwife, is the same. The applicant must demonstrate through a preponderance of evidence that he or she was born in the United States.”

“Applicants who have birth certificates filed by a midwife or other birth attendant suspected of having engaged in fraudulent activities, as well as applicants who have both a U.S. and foreign birth certificate, are asked to provide additional documentation establishing they were born in the United States,” they added.

“Individuals who are unable to demonstrate that they were born in the United States are denied issuance of a passport,” the official said. “The Department’s determination in such cases affects only the passport, and not citizenship status, of the applicant.”

[The Hill]

Trump Reaffirms Praise For Gov’t Response to Puerto Rico as Death Toll Updated to 2,975: ‘Fantastic Job’

President Donald Trump responded to the new shocking death toll in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria last year by saying the government “did a fantastic job.”

The new toll, which was found by researchers at George Washington University who were commissioned by Puerto Rico, raised deaths caused by the disaster from 64 to just below 2,975.

“I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico. We’re still helping Puerto Rico. The governor is an excellent guy, he’s very happy with the job we’ve done,” Trump told reporters today. “We’ve put billions and billions of dollars into Puerto Rico, and it was a very tough one.”

He continued by saying that “we’ve put a lot of money and a lot of effort into Puerto Rico” and added that he thinks “most of the people in Puerto Rico really appreciate what we’ve done.”

The comments echoed what Trump has said in the past about the US territory, as he infamously bragged just days after the storm that only “16 people [died] verses in the thousands,” which he claimed was good compared to “a real catastrophe like Katrina.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement of her own after the new death toll came out this week, saying, “The President remains proud of all of the work the Federal family undertook to help our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Slams Democrats Over Mollie Tibbetts Death: Their Policies Are ‘Spilling Very Innocent Blood’

Speaking at an Ohio Republican State Party fundraiser in Columbus Friday evening, President Donald Trump invoked the death of Mollie Tibbetts to slam Democrats on immigration.

Shortly after saying the Republican party “stands strongly behind ICE,” Trump then brought up how “they charged an illegal alien in the murder of a college student Mollie Tibbetts.

“Everybody loved her. Everybody that met her loved her,” Trump said. “And the father was saying she’s coming back, she’s coming back… This went on for a long time. When they found out that it was this horrible, illegal immigrant that viciously killed her, all of a sudden that story went down. They didn’t want to cover it the way it should have been covered. But what happened to Mollie was a disgrace.”

He added “Our hearts go out. We mourn for Mollie’s family.”

Tibbetts family has said publicly they do not want her death politicized.

Yet, Trump did not stop at Tibbetts’ tragedy to make his point.

He then mentioned the death of an elderly homeless woman in New York City who was allegedly beaten to death by an undocumented immigrant who Trump said “was not supposed to be in this country” and a rape of a young child in the “sanctuary city” of Philadelphia also allegedly at the hands of an illegal immigrant.

“Democrat immigration policies are destroying innocent lives and spilling very innocent blood,” he concluded. “We believe that any party that puts criminal aliens before American citizens should be voted out of office, not into office.”

The audience applauded.

[Mediaite]

Trump cites death of Iowa college student in appeal for stronger immigration laws

President Trump on Tuesday seized on news that an undocumented immigrant was charged in the death of an Iowa college student to underscore his push for stricter immigration laws.

“You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in, very sadly, from Mexico, and you saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful young woman. Should’ve never happened,” Trump said at a rally in Charleston, W.Va.

“We’ve had a huge impact but the laws are so bad,” he continued. “The immigration laws are such a disgrace. We’re getting them changed, but we have to get more Republicans.”

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, was charged with murder in connection to the death of 20-year-old Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts, who had been missing for more than a month before authorities discovered her body this week.

Authorities said that Rivera led investigators to Tibbetts’s body, according to The Washington Post.

Trump returned to immigration and border security later in his speech by touting the work of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in removing MS-13 gang members, and knocking Democrats over calls from some lawmakers to abolish the agency.

Trump has made cracking down on illegal immigration and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border a hallmark issue since the time he hit the campaign trail. He has regularly derided the U.S. as having the “worst” laws of anywhere in the world and called on Congress to pass legislation restricting both illegal and legal immigration.

On Tuesday, as he ostensibly rallied for U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Morrissey, Trump stressed that electing more Republicans will lead to a stronger border.

“A blue wave in November means open borders which means massive crime. a red wave means safety and strength,” Trump said.

[The Hill]

Reality

This was a sad and tragic event by an illegal immigrant, but it is *A* sad and tragic event, meaning this is just one instance. Policy needs to reflect data, which unequivocally shows that immigrants (both legal and illegal) commit crimes at far lower rates than the native population.

Trump introduces Border Patrol agent: He ‘speaks perfect English’

President Donald Trump wanted to congratulate Border Patrol agent Adrian Anzaldua, who the president proclaimed had saved 78 lives a little over a week ago after he arrested a human smuggler.

But Trump stepped on his own message when he announced on national television that Anzaldua, whose last name the president didn’t attempt to pronounce, could speak “perfect English.”

Trump has a history of making assumptions about people based on their ethnic backgrounds, including claiming a U.S.-born judge couldn’t be impartial because of his Mexican heritage. His commentary on the language skills of a man with a Spanish-sounding last name seemed to fit that pattern.

Trump said at the event honoring members of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Custom and Border Protection that Anzaldua had caught a smuggler who was holding 78 undocumented immigrants inside a trailer, which the president called “horrible.” He praised Anzaldua for saving their lives.

“The border patrol agent who caught the accused and likely really saved many lives, he’s here with us. And Adrian, where is Adrian? Adrian is here with us,” the president said. “Thank you, Adrian. Great job. Thank you. It’s a lot of lives.”

The president then invited Anzaldua to the podium to describe the incident.

“Come here, you’re not nervous, right? Speaks perfect English,” Trump said to Anzaldua.

“Come here, I want to ask you about that, 78 lives. You saved 78 people,” Trump continued. “So how did you feel that there were people in that trailer? There’s a lot of trailers around. Please.”

Anzaldua, who wore a giant smile as he stood next to the president, said the trailer was flagged after the vehicle eluded a checkpoint in Texas.

Anzaldua said after the vehicle was stopped, he ran out with a patrol canine and conducted a non-intrusive search of the vehicle.

“I opened the little latch of the back of the tractor trailer and revealed a lot of subjects,” Anzaldua said. “I quickly asked for backup, and backup got there, and the subjects were transported back to…the checkpoint, and all of them were in good health.”

Trump seemed pleased with Anzaldua’s retelling of the encounter.

“What a good job he did. What a good job,” he said. “Tomorrow he will be announcing that he’s running for office.”

Trump has been criticized over his immigration policies, including a “zero tolerance” approach toward people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border that resulted in thousands of parents and children being separated. While the administration has taken steps to reunite families, there are still about 550 children who were separated from their parents in custody with the Department of Health and Human Services.

[Politico]

Trump administration tells ACLU to find deported parents

The Trump administration on Thursday informed a federal judge that it isn’t responsible for locating deported parents separated forcibly from their children at the southern border.

DOJ said in a court filing that the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit over family separations, should instead take the lead in reunifying deported parents with their children.

“Plaintiffs’ counsel should use their considerable resources and their network of law firms, NGOs, volunteers, and others, together with the information that defendants have provided (or will soon provide), to establish contact with possible class members in foreign countries,” DOJ said.

The administration suggested that the ACLU find out whether the deported parents wish to be reconnected with their children, or whether they waive that option.

An administration official said Thursday evening that the filing “simply asks the court to require the ACLU to determine the wishes of and fulfill their obligations to their clients, as they have repeatedly represented in court that they would.“

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has statedrepeatedly that no parents were deported without first being given the option to take their children with them. But a Trump administration official told POLITICO on July 25 that an estimated three-quarters of the parents who left the country alone left no record behind that they ever consented to leave their children in the U.S. “We don’t see it in the documentation,” the official said.

At a Senate hearing earlier this week, Matthew Albence, executive associate director for Enforcement and Removal Operations at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, repeatedly dodged questions about whether DHS could document that it secured deportee parents’ consent to leave their children behind.

[Politico]

Update

A federal judge has said the Trump administration is 100% responsible to find the lost parents.

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