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 expands federal contractors’ ability to cite religious freedom in discrimination cases

The Trump administration issued a directive earlier this month that critics argue will allow federal contractors to assert their right to a religious exemption from LGBT discrimination charges.

The Department of Labor directive, issued on Aug. 10, expands the circumstances under which federal contractors can claim they have a religious exemption when battling discrimination charges.

The directive addresses an executive order enacted in 1965 that blocks businesses that work with the federal government from discriminating against people on the basis of sex, gender identity, race, sexual orientation and other factors.

The new notice cites recent Supreme Court decisions, including a ruling in favor of a baker who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple and the 2014 Burwell v Hobby Lobby decision that certain corporations can be exempt from regulations over religious objections.

It also cites recent executive orders by President Trump, including his order earlier this year directing federal agencies to respect and protect religious liberty and political speech.

Critics told BuzzFeed News that the new directive would contradict a promise Trump made when he took office last year to not to touch an executive order issued by former President Obama that banned federal contractors from engaging in LGBT discrimination.

Department of Labor and White House officials told the news outlet that the Obama-era executive order remains in place, but declined to answer questions on when the religious exemption directive could be utilized by contractors.

“The purpose of Directive 2018-03 is to ensure [the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs] guidance on the religious exemption is consistent with federal law related to religious freedom and religious accommodation, including recent U.S. Supreme Court precedents and Executive Orders, which OFCCP is obligated to follow,” a Labor Department official told BuzzFeed News.

The official noted that the executive order enacted in 1965 allows “religious organizations to make employment decisions on the basis of religion.”

The new directive also states that it “supersedes” a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) memo on the illegality of anti-LGBT discrimination.

“The previous FAQ did not reflect recent Supreme Court decisions regarding religious freedoms,” the Department of Labor official told BuzzFeed News.

“President Trump and his Administration are working diligently to improve the lives of all Americans, including faith-based and LGBT communities,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters told BuzzFeed News. “We will continue to ensure anti-discrimination protections are in place for all Americans.”

Advocates opposing the new directive told the news site that the policy opens the door for contractors to cite religious exemptions when discriminating against LGBT employees.

“This Administration apparently recognizes — correctly, in our view — that rescinding [Obama’s 2014] executive order outright would cause a huge public outcry,” Shannon McGowan, a former lawyer in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the current head of Lambda Legal, told BuzzFeed News. “So instead, this Administration is trying to accomplish the same end through different means.”

McGowan noted that a fifth of the federal workforce is employed through federal contractors, telling the news site that the “damage that could be done here cannot be overstated.”

[The Hill]

Trump renews attacks on NFL players, calling for suspensions

President Trump on Friday renewed his attacks on NFL players who protest during the national anthem, claiming they “wanted to show their ‘outrage’ at something that most of them are unable to define.”

“The NFL players are at it again — taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem,” Trump tweeted.

“Be happy, be cool! A football game, that fans are paying soooo much money to watch and enjoy, is no place to protest,” he continued. “Most of that money goes to the players anyway.”

“Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!” Trump added.

Trump’s new attack came a day after the first big slate of NFL preseason games on Thursday night, during which players from several teams protestedduring “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

[The Hill]

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.

Trump wants suspensions for NFL players who kneel during anthem

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that National Football League (NFL) players who do not stand for the national anthem should be suspended for the season without pay.

The comments come a day after the NFL and the union representing its players said they were working on a resolution to the league’s national anthem policy.

The policy, which was announced in May, followed Trump’s denunciation of pregame protests which were intended to call attention to what critics say is often brutal treatment of minorities by U.S. law enforcement.

Trump and others have blasted the gesture as a sign of disrespect to the U.S. flag and the military.

“The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again – can’t believe it!,” Trump said on Twitter.

“First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay.

“The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand,” he said in reference to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The players union, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), recently filed a grievance over the league’s new requirement that players stand for the national anthem or wait in their dressing rooms.

The NFLPA claimed the new policy was inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringed on player rights.

The NFL and NFLPA said on Thursday no new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while the confidential discussions are ongoing.

[Reuters]

Reality

Two days prior, Fox News begged Donald Trump to tweet something out to distract everyone from his failure in Helsinki. Trump took their advice.

Trump Mocks the #MeToo Movement During Montana Rally

Donald Trump, whom more than a dozen women have accused of sexual misconduct, has made no secret of his distaste for the #MeToo movement, defending both longtime pal Roger Ailes and ex-Fox mega-host Bill O’Reilly against charges of sexual misconduct (Ailes he called a “very, very good person,” while of O’Reilly he said, “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”). But in February, the president made his position on #MeToo even more explicit: the day after defending former staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned amid allegations of domestic abuse from two of his ex-wives, Trump tweeted that “lives are being shattered and destroyed” by “mere” allegations. “He says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that,” Trump said the day prior. “He said very strongly . . . that he’s innocent.” The comments inspired a wave of disquiet among those inclined to support women in speaking out about harassment and abuse. And on Thursday, the president revived his rhetoric during a bizarre rally in Montana ostensibly intended to stoke support for the state’s Republican Senate candidate.

Riffing on his nickname for Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose Native American heritage he has repeatedly questioned, Trump—who made no mention of the hasty same-day resignation of E.P.A. chief Scott Pruitt—told the crowd, “I want to apologize. Pocahontas, I apologize to you . . . to you I apologize. To the fake Pocahontas, I won’t apologize.”

He went on to suggest that if Warren won the 2020 Democratic primary, he would dare her to take an ancestry test during a televised debate. “We’ll take that little kit and say, we have to do it gently because we are in the #MeToo generation, so we have to be very gentle. And we will very gently take that kit, and we will slowly toss it” to Warren, “hoping it doesn’t hit her and injure her arm.” Trump added that he’d give $1 million to charity if the test “shows [Warren is] an Indian . . . I have a feeling,” he said, “she will say no.”

Nor did Trump confine himself to insulting a potential Democratic opponent—during the same speech, he also claimed that Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters had an I.Q. in the “mid-60s,” lobbed derogatory criticisms at journalists, and vouched for Russian President Vladimir Putin. After the rally, Warren fired back with a tweet, writing, “Hey, @realDonaldTrump: While you obsess over my genes, your Admin is conducting DNA tests on little kids because you ripped them from their mamas & you are too incompetent to reunite them in time to meet a court order. Maybe you should focus on fixing the lives you’re destroying.”

The president’s particular strain of misogyny has been on display for much of this week—earlier on Thursday, Trump told reporters that he doesn’t believe allegations that G.O.P. Rep. Jim Jordan knew about the sexual abuse of student athletes while he was a coach at Ohio State University. (Jordan himself has denied them.) “I don’t believe them at all,” Trump said of Jordan’s accusers, adding that he believes in Jordan’s innocence “100 percent”. Thursday also happened to be the day the White House officially hired Bill Shine, the former Fox News co-president who allegedly covered for Ailes for years. In making such statements, Trump seems to be indicating that no line of attack is off-limits—a tactic that successfully set him apart from a crowded Republican field in 2016.

He’s also setting a deeply toxic precedent for the 2020 presidential race—particularly if he faces off against another woman. And though this strategy is likely to appeal to his base, potentially deepening the gulf between people who believe women when they say they’ve been forced to endure sexual harassment and people who don’t, it is not without risk for Republicans. Not only could it further galvanize Democrats, but it could also alienate women voters who, according to a poll published on Friday, have a disproportionately negative view of the president: just 32 percent of women approve of his job performance, compared to 51 percent of men.

[Vanity Fair]

Trump administration to reverse Obama-era guidance on use of race in college admissions

The Trump administration is planning to rescind a set of Obama-era policies that promote using race to achieve diversity in schools, a source familiar with the plans tells CNN.

While the decision does not change current US law on affirmative action it provides a strong illustration on the administration’s position on an issue that could take on renewed attention with the departure of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court.
“The executive branch cannot circumvent Congress or the courts by creating guidance that goes beyond the law and—in some instances — stays on the books for decades,” Justice Department spokesperson Devin O’Malley told CNN in a statement. “Last year, the Attorney General initiated a review of guidance documents, which resulted in dozens of examples—including today’s second tranche of rescissions — of documents that go beyond or are inconsistent with the Constitution and federal law. The Justice Department remains committed to enforcing the law and protecting all Americans from all forms of illegal race-based discrimination.”
The Education Department did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.
The move, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, comes as the administration has thrown its weight behind a student group that accuses Harvard University of discriminating against Asian-Americans in its admissions process.
Last year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was ending the practice of the Justice Department issuing “guidance documents” that have the “effect of adopting new regulatory requirements or amending the law,” without to going through the formal rulemaking process. As a result, 25 documents were rescinded in December.
The guidance that will be reversed Tuesday provided examples of different educational contexts within which institutions could permissibly consider race.
Tuesday’s reversal also does not affect what a school decides to do on its own within the confines of current Supreme Court precedent, but civil rights groups swiftly reacted with disappointment.
“We condemn the Department of Education’s politically motivated attack on affirmative action and deliberate attempt to discourage colleges and universities from pursuing racial diversity at our nation’s colleges and universities,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The rescission of this guidance does not overrule forty years of precedent that affirms the constitutionality of a university’s limited use of race in college admissions. This most recent decision by the Department of Education is wholly consistent with the administration’s unwavering hostility towards diversity in our schools.”
[CNN]

Trump calls for deporting migrants ‘immediately’ without a trial

President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday morning that the U.S. “Cannot accept all of the people trying to break into our Country” and called for migrants to be “immediately” deported without a trial.

“When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came,” he said. His tweet did not mention people coming to the U.S. to seek asylum, which is legal to do.

Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order,” he said, adding in another tweet that legal entry to the country should be based on “merit.”

Immigration advocates pushed back on the comments. “What President Trump has suggested here is both illegal and unconstitutional. Any official who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws should disavow it unequivocally,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

Late Saturday night, the Trump administration released a “fact sheet” noting more than 2,000 children have yet to be reunited with their parents and revealing some details about the reunification process.

[NBC News]

US leaving UN Human Rights Council — ‘a cesspool of political bias’

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced the United States is withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council Tuesday, accusing the body of bias against US ally Israel and a failure to hold human rights abusers accountable.

The move, which the Trump administration has threatened for months, came down one day after the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights slammed the separation of children from their parents at the US-Mexico border as “unconscionable.”
Speaking from the State Department, where she was joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Haley defended the move to withdraw from the council, saying US calls for reform were not heeded.
“Human rights abusers continue to serve on, and be elected to, the council,” said Haley, listing US grievances with the body. “The world’s most inhumane regimes continue to escape its scrutiny, and the council continues politicizing scapegoating of countries with positive human rights records in an attempt to distract from the abusers in its ranks.”

‘Deeply disappointed’

“For too long,” Haley said, “the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias.”
Based in Geneva, the Human Rights Council is a body of 47 member states within the United Nations tasked with upholding human rights.
Membership on the council gives countries like the United States a voice in important debates over human rights atrocities, but the council’s critics, including Haley, say abusers use their membership to guarantee their own impunity.
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted a statement: “Today the U.S. took a stand against some of the world’s worst human rights violators by withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council. By elevating and protecting human rights violators and engaging in smear campaigns against democratic nations, the UNHRC makes a mockery of itself, its members, and the mission it was founded on. For years, the UNHRC has engaged in ever more virulent anti-American, and anti-Israel invective and the days of U.S. participation are over.”
The UN expressed disappointment. “The Secretary-General would have much preferred for the United States to remain in the Human Rights Council,” Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said in response to the US announcement. “The UN’s Human Rights architecture plays a very important role in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide.”
The move was immediately condemned by a dozen charitable groups, who wrote to Pompeo to say they were “deeply disappointed with the Administration’s decision to withdraw the United States from the United Nations Human Rights Council, the premier intergovernmental human rights body at the global level.”

‘A so-called Human Rights Council’

“This decision is counterproductive to American national security and foreign policy interests and will make it more difficult to advance human rights priorities and aid victims of abuse around the world,” they added.
Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary-general, said: “Once again President Trump is showing his complete disregard for the fundamental rights and freedoms the US claims to uphold. While the Human Rights Council is by no means perfect and its membership is frequently under scrutiny, it remains an important force for accountability and justice.”
US withdrawal from the council follows efforts by Haley and the US delegation to implement reforms, including more stringent membership criteria and the ability to remove members with egregious human rights records.
“When a so-called Human Rights Council cannot bring itself to address the massive abuses in Venezuela and Iran, and it welcomes the Democratic Republic of Congo as a new member, the council ceases to be worthy of its name,” said Haley. “Such a council, in fact, damages the cause of human rights.”
Haley also blasted the council for a “disproportionate focus and unending hostility toward Israel,” citing a series of resolutions highlighting alleged abuses by the Israeli government of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
Haley said the United States will continue to promote human rights outside of the council and would consider rejoining it in the future if reforms are made.
“We have used America’s voice and vote to defend human rights at the UN every day,” she said, “and we will continue to do so.”

[CNN]

Trump Dodges When Confronted on Kim’s Brutality: ‘A Lot of Other People’ Have Done Bad Things Too

President Donald Trump sat down with Fox News’ Bret Baier for a one-on-one interview aboard Air Force One.

During the interview, the president praised “President for Life” Xi Jinping and pointed out North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump also said he and the North Korean despot “understand each other.”

POTUS’s praise of Kim prompted Baier to ask why he would say such nice things about a “killer.”

“You were asked in the press conference a number of different times and in different ways about human rights and that you that call this relationship ‘really good’ and that he was ‘very talented person.’” Baier said.

Baier then continued on, “You call people sometimes killers. He is a killer. He’s executing people.”

Trump dodged trying to say North Korea was a “tough country” with “tough people.”

“You take it over from your father––I don’t care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have. If you can do that at 27 years old, that’s one in 10,000 that could do that,” Trump claimed, continuing to praise Kim. “So he’s a very smart guy. He’s a great negotiator, but I think we understand each other.”

Baier then pressed further, adding, “He has still done some really bad things.”

“Yeah, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things,” Trump said, dodging again. “I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done.”

It is also not the first time Trump has dodged questions from Fox News about cozying up to a killer. In February 2017, Trump sat down for a pre-Super Bowl interview with Bill O’Reillywhere he was asked about how he could be so friendly with Russian President Vladimir Putindespite the fact that he, too, has blood on his hands.

Trump dodged back then too, telling O’Reilly: “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent?”

[Mediaite]

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