President Trump signs order denying asylum to illegal border crossers

President Donald Trump on Friday invoked extraordinary national security powers to deny asylum to migrants who enter the country illegally, tightening the border as caravans of Central Americans slowly approach the United States.

Trump is using the same powers he used to push through a version of the travel ban that was upheld by the Supreme Court. The proclamation puts into place regulations adopted Thursday that circumvent laws stating that anyone is eligible for asylum no matter how he or she enters the country.

“We need people in our country but they have to come in legally and they have to have merit,” Trump said Friday as he prepared to depart for Paris.

The measures are meant to funnel asylum seekers through official border crossings for speedy rulings, officials said, instead of having them try to circumvent such crossings on the nearly 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border. But the busy ports of entry already have long lines and waits, forcing immigration officials to tell some migrants to turn around and come back to make their claims.

The move was spurred in part by caravans of Central American migrants slowly moving north on foot but will apply to anyone caught crossing illegally, officials said Thursday. It’s unknown whether those in the caravan, many fleeing violence in their homeland, plan to cross illegally.

Administration officials said those denied asylum under the proclamation may be eligible for similar forms of protection if they fear returning to their countries, though they would be subject to a tougher threshold. Those forms of protection include “withholding of removal” — which is similar to asylum, but doesn’t allow for green cards or bringing families — or asylum under the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

The announcement was the latest push to enforce Trump’s hardline stance on immigration through regulatory changes and presidential orders, bypassing Congress. But those efforts have been largely thwarted by legal challenges and, in the case of family separations this year, stymied by a global outcry that prompted Trump to scrap them.

The new changes were likely to be met with legal challenges, too. Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said Thursday they were clearly illegal.

“U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry. It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree,” he said.

Curbing immigration has been a signature issue for Trump, who pushed it hard in the days leading up to Tuesday’s midterm elections, railing against the caravans that are still hundreds of miles from the border.

He has made little mention of the issue since the election but has sent troops to the border in response. As of Thursday, there are more than 5,600 U.S. troops deployed to the border mission, with about 550 actually working on the border in Texas. The military is expected to have the vast majority of the more than 7,000 troops planned for the mission deployed by Monday, and that number could grow.

Trump also suggested he’d revoke the right to citizenship for babies born to non-U.S. citizens on American soil and erect massive “tent

The administration has long said immigration officials are drowning in asylum cases partly because people falsely claim asylum and then live in the U.S. with work permits.

The asylum section of the Immigration and Nationality Act says a migrant is allowed to make a claim up to a year after arriving in the U.S., and it doesn’t matter how they arrive — illegally or through a border crossing.

Migrants who cross illegally are generally arrested and often seek asylum or some other form of protection. Claims have spiked in recent years, and there is a backlog of more than 800,000 cases pending in immigration court. Generally, only about 20 percent of applicants are approved.

Trump has long said those seeking asylum should come through legal ports of entry. But many migrants are unaware of that guidance, and official border crossings have grown clogged.

Officials have turned away asylum seekers at border crossings because of overcrowding, telling them to return later. Backlogs have become especially bad in recent months at crossings in California, Arizona and Texas, with some people waiting five weeks to try to claim asylum at San Diego’s main crossing.

In 2017, the U.S. fielded more than 330,000 asylum claims, nearly double the number two years earlier and surpassing Germany as highest in the world.

It’s unclear how many people en route to the U.S. will even make it to the border. About 4,800 migrants are sheltered in a sports complex in Mexico City, some 600 miles from the U.S. border. Several smaller groups were trailing hundreds of miles to the south; officials estimated about 7,000 in all were in the country in the caravans. The migrants are largely poor people and many say they’re fleeing violence; more than 1,700 were children under 18, and more than 300 were children under age 5.

Similar caravans have gathered regularly over the years and have generally dwindled by the time they reach the southern border. Most have passed largely unnoticed.

[Chicago Tribune]

Trump tells black reporter she’s ‘racist’ for asking him to renounce white nationalism

President Donald Trump accused African-American reporter Yamiche Alcindor of asking a “racist” question on Wednesday.

At a White House press conference, the PBS reporter wondered if the president was concerned that he is sending the wrong message by calling himself a “nationalist.”

“Some heard that as emboldening white nationalists,” Alcindor explained. “There are some people that say that now the Republican Party is seen as supporting white nationalists because of your rhetoric.”

“Why do I have the highest poll numbers ever with African-Americans?” Trump retorted. “My highest poll numbers — that’s such a racist question, honestly. I know you have it written down and you’re going to tell me — that’s a racist question.”

“I love our country, I do,” the president continued. “I don’t mind helping the world but we have to straighten out our country first and our problems.”

Trump added: “But to say what you said is so insulting to me, it’s a very terrible thing you said.”

[Raw Story]

‘Sit down!’ Trump berates CNN’s April Ryan as she tries to question him about voter suppression

In a lengthy press conference Wednesday following a Democratic takeover of the House, President Donald Trump denounced the Mueller investigation as a “disgrace” and shouted at several CNN reporters.

The president’s antipathy towards certain reporters was in full display. He repeatedly shut down CNN’s April Ryan when she tried to ask a question, refusing to cede the microphone to her.

“Will you please sit down?” he shouted at the CNN reporter. Ryan shook her head and took her seat.

[Raw Story]

Media

Trump shocks with racist new ad days before midterms

In the most racially charged national political ad in 30 years, President Donald Trump and the Republican Party accuse Democrats of plotting to help people they depict as Central American invaders overrun the nation with cop killers.

The new web video, tweeted by the President five days before the midterm elections, is the most extreme step yet in the most inflammatory closing argument of any campaign in recent memory.

The Trump campaign ad is the latest example of the President’s willingness to lie and fear-monger in order to tear at racial and societal divides; to embrace demagoguery to bolster his own political power and the cause of the Republican midterm campaign.

The web video — produced for the Trump campaign — features Luis Bracamontes, a Mexican man who had previously been deported but returned to the United States and was convicted in February in the slaying of two California deputies.

“I’m going to kill more cops soon,” a grinning Bracamontes is shown saying in court as captions flash across the screen reading “Democrats let him into our country. Democrats let him stay.”

The ad recalls the notorious “Willie Horton” campaign ad financed by supporters of the George H.W. Bush campaign in the 1988 presidential election. Horton was a convicted murderer who committed rape while furloughed under a program in Massachusetts where Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis was governor.

The ad has since come to be seen as one of the most racially problematic in modern political history since it played into white fear and African-American stereotypes. It was regarded at the time as devastating to the Dukakis campaign.

Trump’s web video, while just as shocking as the Horton spot, carries added weight since, unlike its 1988 predecessor, it bears the official endorsement of the leader of the Republican Party — Trump — and is not an outside effort. Given that Trump distributed it from his Twitter account, It also comes with all the symbolic significance of the presidency itself.

In a first reaction, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said the ad was a sign of desperation and suggested that Trump was losing the argument over health care that is at the center of the Democratic campaign.

“This is distracting, divisive Donald at his worst,” Perez said on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time.”

“This is fear mongering. … They have to fear monger and his dog whistle of all dog whistles is immigration. This has been Donald Trump’s playbook for so long.”

[CNN]

Trump, Asked by Reporter If Soros Is Funding the Caravan, Says ‘I Wouldn’t Be Surprised’

Speaking outside the White House on Wednesday, President Donald Trump refused to rule out the possibility that George Soros might be behind the migrant caravan.

Trump was first asked if he thought someone was funding the caravan.

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Trump replied.

George Soros?” a reporter pressed.

“I don’t know who, but I wouldn’t be surprised,” Trump continued on. “A lot of people say yes.”

A “lot of people” includes Fox News folks like Lou Dobbs and Laura Ingraham, as well as pro-Trump Congressman Matt Gaetz who tweeted out this:

The conspiracy theory — which apparently dates back to March — may also have contributed to the synagogue slayings in Pittsburgh.

Standing on the White House lawn on Wednesday, Trump gave no further indication about why he would “not be surprised” that Soros was involved, although blaming Soros has proven popular among Trump’s base.

[Mediaite]

Trump Blasts Paul Ryan for Contradicting Him on Birthright Citizenship: ‘Something He Knows Nothing About’

President Donald Trump ripped into Paul Ryan on Wednesday over his comments on birthright citizenship, in a stunning rebuke of his own party’s House Speaker just a week before the midterm elections.

“Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about!” Trump tweeted. “Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!”

The Wisconsin Republican broke with Trump on Tuesday when he rejected the president’s expressed desire to end birthright citizenship through executive order.

Ryan said in a radio interview that Trump “cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Ramps Up Fear-Mongering: Caravans Made up of ‘Very Bad Thugs and Gang Members’

President Donald Trump is nothing if not consistent.

Despite significant and bipartisan criticism for irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric that critics have described as fear-mongering, Trump is hitting the same “be afraid of the Caravan” note on Twitter this morning.

Trump tweeted:

He followed that first tweet shortly after with:

These tweets came the morning after the Commander in Chief and First Lady returned from a somber visit to the Pittsburgh synagogue that saw 11 worshipers murdered by an unhinged individual that parroted right-wing rhetoric calling this mass of migrants “invaders.”

Depending on reports one follows, the caravan is comprised of roughly 3,500 Central Americans that are roughly 1,000 miles from the southern U.S. border and are traveling by foot. By most accounts, they won’t arrive at the United States for at least six to eight weeks.

[Mediaite]

Trump targeting birthright citizenship with executive order

President Trump plans to sign an executive order that would remove the right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born on U.S. soil, he said yesterday in an exclusive interview for “Axios on HBO,” a new four-part documentary news series debuting on HBO this Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT.

Why it matters: This would be the most dramatic move yet in Trump’s hardline immigration campaign, this time targeting “anchor babies” and “chain migration.” And it will set off another stand-off with the courts, as Trump’s power to do this through executive action is debatable to say the least.

Trump told “Axios on HBO” that he has run the idea of ending birthright citizenship by his counsel and plans to proceed with the highly controversial move, which certainly will face legal challenges.

  • “It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said, declaring he can do it by executive order.
  • When told that’s very much in dispute, Trump replied: “You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”
  • “We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States … with all of those benefits,” Trump continued. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.” (More than 30 countries, most in the Western Hemisphere, provide birthright citizenship.)
  • “It’s in the process. It’ll happen … with an executive order.”

The president expressed surprise that “Axios on HBO” knew about his secret plan: “I didn’t think anybody knew that but me. I thought I was the only one. “

  • Behind the scenes: “Axios on HBO” had been working for weeks on a story on Trump’s plans for birthright citizenship, based on conversations with several sources, including one close to the White House Counsel’s office.

The legal challenges would force the courts to decide on a constitutional debate over the 14th Amendment, which says:

  • “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

Be smart: Few immigration and constitutional scholars believe it is within the president’s power to change birthright citizenship, former U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services chief counsel Lynden Melmed tells Axios.

  • But some conservatives have argued that the 14th Amendment was only intended to provide citizenship to children born in the U.S. to lawful permanent residents — not to unauthorized immigrants or those on temporary visas.
  • John Eastman, a constitutional scholar and director of Chapman University’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, told “Axios on HBO” that the Constitution has been misapplied over the past 40 or so years. He says the line “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” originally referred to people with full, political allegiance to the U.S. — green card holders and citizens.

Michael Anton, a former national security official in the Trump administration, recently took up this argument in the Washington Post.

  • Anton said that Trump could, via executive order, “specify to federal agencies that the children of noncitizens are not citizens” simply because they were born on U.S. soil. (It’s not yet clear whether Trump will take this maximalist argument, though his previous rhetoric suggests there’s a good chance.)
  • But others — such as Judge James C. Ho, who was appointed by Trump to Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in New Orleans — say the line in the amendment refers to the legal obligation to follow U.S. laws, which applies to all foreign visitors (except diplomats) and immigrants. He has written that changing how the 14th Amendment is applied would be “unconstitutional.”

Between the lines: Until the 1960s, the 14th Amendment was never applied to undocumented or temporary immigrants, Eastman said.

  • Between 1980 and 2006, the number of births to unauthorized immigrants — which opponents of birthright citizenship call “anchor babies” — skyrocketed to a peak of 370,000, according to a 2016 study by Pew Research. It then declined slightly during and following the Great Recession.
  • The Supreme Court has already ruled that children born to immigrants who are legal permanent residents have citizenship. But those who claim the 14th Amendment should not apply to everyone point to the fact that there has been no ruling on a case specifically involving undocumented immigrants or those with temporary legal status.

The bottom line: If Trump follows through on the executive order, “the courts would have to weigh in in a way they haven’t,” Eastman said.

[Axios]

Reality

Fact is Republicans and Fox News have long targeted only Hispanic or Asian “anchor babies” claiming they were a national security threat. (cough) (cough) racism (cough) (cough)

The Trump administration’s flawed argument is over the line in Section 1 of the 14th Amendment, “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” claiming it only referred to people with full, political allegiance to the U.S., such as citizens or green card holders.

The problem with this thinking is the writings of the authors of the 14th amendment clearly show the line in the amendment refers to the legal obligation to follow U.S. laws within the U.S. border.

Finally, you can’t change the Constitution with an executive order. Can’t happen.

All Trump is doing is riling up his insanely racist base, who are trained by Republican news to fear all foreigners, to show up at the polls one week away.

Media

Trump: We will ‘build tent cities’ for migrant caravan

President Trump during an interview on Monday said that the administration is planning to “build tent cities” for the thousands of migrants seeking asylum who are heading towards the Southern border.

Trump in recent days has been stoking fears that violent gang members may be part of the so-called migrant “caravan,” which includes thousands of Central Americans fleeing violence and dire economic conditions in their home countries. The migrants are still weeks away from reaching the border.

The president during a pre-recorded interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham said the administration will “hold” the migrants who apply for asylum rather than releasing them pending their court dates, as previous administrations have done.

“If they applied for asylum, we’re going to hold them until such time as their trial takes place,” Trump told Ingraham.

“Where? We have the facilities?” she asked.

“We’re going to put up – we’re going to build tent cities,” Trump replied. “We’re going to put tents up all over the place. We’re not going to build structures and spend all of this, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars — we’re going to have tents.”

“They’re going to be very nice,” he added.

Trump has called the caravan of Central American migrants an “invasion.” He has also referred to the midterms as the election of the “caravan.”

Democrats and immigration-rights activists have accused the president of drawing on xenophobic and racist images in an effort to frighten the electorate ahead of Election Day. The migrants are still over one thousand miles away.

Ingraham during the interview asked Trump to respond to former President Obama, who denounced the president’s rhetoric about the caravan during a recent campaign event.

“Now the latest, they’re trying to convince everybody to be afraid of a bunch of impoverished, malnourished refugees a thousand miles away — that’s the thing, it’s the most important in this election?” Obama said during an event in Florida this week. “We’re scare-mongering people on the border.”

Trump responded by saying that there are people from “gangs” in the caravan. His claim has not been proven.

[The Hill]

Media

Pentagon to deploy 5,200 active duty troops to Mexico border as Trump escalates threats against migrant caravan

A week out from the midterm elections, the Pentagon said Monday it is sending 5,200 troops, some armed, to the Southwest border this week in an extraordinary military operation to stop Central American migrants traveling north in two caravans that were still hundreds of miles from the U.S. The number of troops is more than double the 2,000 who are in Syria fighting the Islamic State group.

President Donald Trump, eager to focus voters on immigration in the lead-up to the elections, stepped up his warnings about the caravans, tweeting: “This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!”

His warning came as the Pentagon began executing “Operation Faithful Patriot,” described by the commander of U.S. Northern Command as an effort to help Customs and Border Protection stiffen defenses at and near legal entry points. Advanced helicopters will allow border protection agents to swoop down on migrants trying to cross illegally, he said.

“We’re going to secure the border,” Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the Northern Command leader, said at a news conference. He spoke alongside Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.

Eight hundred troops already are on their way to southern Texas, O’Shaughnessy said, and their numbers will top 5,200 by week’s end. He said troops would focus first on Texas, followed by Arizona and then California.

The number of people in the first caravan has dwindled to 3,500 from about 7,000, though a second one was gaining steam and marred by violence. About 600 migrants in the second group tried to cross a bridge from Guatemala to Mexico en masse on Monday but were met by ranks of Mexican federal police who blocked them from entering. The riverbank standoff followed a more violent confrontation Sunday when the migrants used sticks and rocks against Mexico police. One migrant was killed Sunday night by a head wound, but the cause was unclear.

The first group passed through the spot via the river — wading or on rafts — and was advancing through southern Mexico. That group appeared to begin as a collection of about 160 who decided to band together in Honduras for protection against the gangs who prey on migrants traveling alone and snowballed as the group moved north. They are mostly from Honduras, where it started, as well as El Salvador and Guatemala.

Overall, they are poor, carrying the belongings that fit into a knapsack and fleeing gang violence or poverty. It’s possible there are criminals mixed in, but Trump has not substantiated his claim that members of the MS-13 gang, in particular, are among them.

The president’s dark description of the caravan belied the fact that any migrants who complete the long trek to the southern U.S. border already face major hurdles, both physical and bureaucratic, to being allowed into the United States. Migrants are entitled under both U.S. and international law to apply for asylum, but it may take a while to make a claim. There is already a bottleneck of asylum seekers at some U.S. border crossings, in some cases as long as five weeks.

McAleenan said the aim was to deter migrants from crossing illegally between ports, but he conceded his officers were overwhelmed by a surge of asylum seekers. He also said Mexico was prepared to offer asylum to the caravan.

“If you’re already seeking asylum, you’ve been given a generous offer,” he said of Mexico. “We want to work with Mexico to manage that flow.”

The White House is also weighing additional border security measures, including blocking those traveling in the caravan from seeking legal asylum and preventing them from entering the U.S.

The military operation drew quick criticism.

“Sending active military forces to our southern border is not only a huge waste of taxpayer money, but an unnecessary course of action that will further terrorize and militarize our border communities,” said Shaw Drake of the American Civil Liberties Union’s border rights center at El Paso, Texas.

Military personnel are legally prohibited from engaging in immigration enforcement. The troops will include military police, combat engineers and others helping on the southern border.

The escalating rhetoric and expected deployments come as the president has been trying to turn the caravans into a key election issue just days before the midterm elections that will determine whether Republicans maintain control of Congress.

“This will be the election of the caravans, the Kavanaughs, law and order, tax cuts, and you know what else? It’s going to be the election of common sense,” Trump said at a rally in Illinois on Saturday night.

On Monday, he tweeted without providing evidence: “Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border.”

“Please go back,” he urged them. “you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!”

The troops are expected to perform a wide variety of functions such as transporting supplies for the Border Patrol, but not engage directly with migrants seeking to cross the border, officials said. One U.S. official said the troops will be sent initially to staging bases in California, Texas and Arizona while the CBP works out precisely where it wants the troops positioned. U.S. Transportation Command posted a video on its Facebook page Monday of a C-17 transport plane that it said was delivering Army equipment to the Southwest border in support of Operation Faithful Patriot.

The U.S. military has already begun delivering jersey barriers to the southern border in conjunction with the deployment plans.

[CNBC]

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