Trump Administration Targets Immigrants on Public Assistance

Legal immigrants who use or appear likely to tap public assistance programs could find it harder to come to the U.S. or stay permanently under a Trump administration proposal released Saturday.

Legal immigrants could be denied a green card, which grants permanent residency, if they have received certain government assistance which they were legally allowed to access. About 27 million people live in families that have received benefits and had at least one immigrant family member, according to a June analysis by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington.

The proposal released by the Department of Homeland Security shows President Donald Trump is not backing off tightening immigration despite a backlash and court action over some policies, including the separation this summer of children and parents entering the country illegally.

Conservatives have cheered the new proposal, which was first floated last year, as necessary to prevent immigrants from becoming a drain on public services such as Medicaid and food stamps. Democrats and immigrant rights groups argue the rule would punish people who are entitled to benefits and legally live in the U.S.

The proposed rule must still be finalized following 60 days for public comment. Certain groups, including refugees, would be exempt.

The change would broaden the framework the U.S. considers when deciding status and entry for immigrants who are likely to receive public benefits such as nutrition assistance, low income housing subsidies and Medicaid above a specific threshold, according to the information released Saturday.

“Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a statement. She added that “This proposed rule will implement a law passed by Congress intended to promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.”

“Building on the traumatic separation of families at the border, the Trump administration has taken another cruel step,“ Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said Saturday in a statement. ”This proposed rule change will similarly result in the separation of families and is just the latest assault on immigrant families.”

[Wall Street Journal]

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]

Now Trump is targeting Vietnamese refugees

In its insatiable quest to rid the U.S. of immigrants, the Trump administration has been rounding up Vietnamese refugees who have been in the country for more than a quarter of a century and trying to send them back to Vietnam — despite a formal bilateral agreement that refugees who arrived here prior to the 1995 normalization of relations between the two countries would not be sent home.

In a number of cases, the refugees have been held in detention centers for months as the government sought to obtain travel documents from the Vietnamese government, and despite a Supreme Court decision that said the government could not detain someone for an extended period of time if it was unlikely the home country would accept the deportee.

After the end of the Vietnam War, and after the North Vietnamese communist government unified the country, hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese — many of whom fought alongside or cooperated with American forces — fled for safety, often boarding rickety boatsto cross the South China Sea. In many cases, the refugees were stateless, because they were citizens of South Vietnam, a country that dissolved with the end of the war.

Nearly 1.3 million eventually settled in the U.S., some 200,000 in and around Orange County’s Little Saigon.

That large a population is bound to include some people who break the law, and upward of 10,000 Vietnamese have been ordered deported by immigration judges after being convicted of often serious crimes in American criminal courts. But for more than three decades after the war ended, the Vietnamese government refused to accept deportees from the U.S., viewing the refugees as political enemies or possible American spies.

That changed in 2008, when the George W. Bush administration reached an agreementunder which Vietnam would accept the return of deportees who had arrived in the U.S. after July 12, 1995. The wording of the pact is significant:

“Vietnamese citizens are not subject to return to Vietnam under this Agreement if they arrived in the United States before July 12, 1995, the date on which diplomatic relations were re-established between the U.S. Government and the Vietnamese Government. The U.S. Government and the Vietnamese Government maintain their respective legal positions relative to Vietnamese citizens who departed Vietnam for the United States prior to that date.”

For a decade that has been interpreted as a flat protection for the refugees. But the Trump administration argues in court filings — immigrant rights organizations are suing to halt the detentions and deportations — that the second sentence in effect negates the first, so the U.S. can deport Vietnamese refugees if they have committed acts that render them ineligible to remain in the U.S.

“The agreement does not in fact prohibit such removals,” the government argued in court documents. “Rather, it provides merely that pre-1995 aliens cannot be removed under the terms of the agreement itself.”

That’s a specious argument. Until the agreement, Vietnam would not accept any deportees from the U.S.; after the agreement, it began accepting what are called post-1995 deportees. So the only mechanism for returning people to Vietnam falls under the agreement, regardless of U.S. laws. The Trump administration is simply trying to break the terms of the deal — and so far has been successful in at least 11 cases, though it’s unclear why Vietnam agreed to let the deportees in. According to reports, the deportees have had trouble finding places to live and getting permission to work in Vietnam.

News accounts of the efforts have focused on refugees who arrived here as young (usually) men with limited social or family structure. A number of them fell in with gangs or individually committed crimes of varying seriousness, from drug possession to robbery and a few rare murders. Yet the issue here isn’t the crimes some refugees committed, but the circumstances of their arrival in the U.S., and the letter of the agreement with Vietnam.

This is yet another instance in which the Trump administration has just bulled its way forward to try to reduce the number of immigrants living in the U.S. If the government believes that it is in the nation’s best interest to deport Vietnamese refugees convicted of crimes, then it should reopen the 2008 agreement and create a lawful mechanism to do so.

[Los Angeles Times]

Here’s the photo of a very white summer intern class the White House didn’t release

Past group photos of White House interns under President Donald Trump have drawn criticism for showing a group of overwhelmingly white young people. This summer, the White House didn’t make much progress on diversity — they just didn’t release the photo.

A group picture with President Donald Trump showed the summer 2017 class was very white and very male. In the fall 2017 picture, observers pointed out one of the interns seemed to be making a white power gesture. (He denied it.) And the spring 2018 class was, again, very white(although with more female interns represented).

The White House appears not to be in a hurry to put out its summer 2018 intern picture, but Vox obtained a copy.

The photo of 128 summer interns surrounding President Trump gives an overall impression of a sea of white faces, with those who appear to be people of color dramatically outnumbered. That’s despite the fact that almost half of millennials in the United States are minorities.

The White House’s summer internship program this year ran from May 30 to August 10, and the photo, which has appeared on at least one now-former intern’s Instagram account, has yet to be released. Last year, members of the media were invited into the summer 2017 photo op, with the Associated Press capturing video of the picture being taken. This year, the spring 2018 class picture was distributed by the White House as one of its photos of the week.

But the summer internship program has been over for two and a half weeks, and the White House has yet to distribute it, as its photo of the week or otherwise. The White House did not immediately return a request for comment on the photo, its release, and the diversity of its intern class.

[Vox]

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 Bemoans ‘Persecuted White Farmers’ in South Africa

President Trump says he has instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to look into alleged violence against white farmers in South Africa and the government’s alleged seizure of their land after watching a Fox News report on the subject. Citing Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s statement that the “South African government is now seizing land from white farmers,” Trump tweeted that he’s asked Pompeo to “closely study” the matter, which he said involves the “large scale killing of farmers.” The comments, which appear to fuel claims by right-wing groups that the South African government is waging war against whites, seemed to be an abrupt change of subject from perhaps the biggest blow to Trump’s White House so far: the conviction of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the plea deal by his longtime fixer Michael Cohen earlier this week. The State Department has yet to comment on Trump’s tweet, but in a statement cited in the same Fox News report Trump was referencing, the State Department noted that South Africa’s land redistributions are being carried out through “an open process including public hearings, broad-based consultations, and active civic society engagement.” Most of South Africa’s land belongs to a white minority two decades after apartheid ended.

[The Daily Beast]

Reality

How does a specific white genocide conspiracy theory about white farmers being murdered in South Africa pushed by the white supremacist groups AfriForum and Identity Evropa, where the white supremacist podcasts White Rabbit Radio and Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance both had episodes dedicated to, end up being tweeted out by Donald Trump?

Oh he watched it on white supremacist Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show.

The reality is, as with the vast majority of conspiracy theories, it is simply not true.

Yes there are farmers being murdered in South Africa and each one is sad and tragic, but since Trump is talking about the data then we have to look at the data. Murder rates among African farmers have drastically declined over the past decades and there are no stats that say they happened for racial reasons.

The last time there was large scale tracking in South Africa of murders of farmers by race, 33% of victims were black.

Also, South Africa’s has a high murder rate, of 34.1 per 100,000 people, that number is far lower in the rural areas.

 

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