Trump hosts victims of undocumented migrants amid family separations row

US President Donald Trump has hosted the relatives of victims killed by illegal immigrants amid outrage over the separation of migrant families.

“Your loved ones have not died in vain,” he told the group of so-called Angel Families at the White House.

Mr Trump has faced global condemnation for the US immigration policy that has seen more than 2,000 migrant children stripped from their families.

He bowed to public pressure and reversed the policy earlier this week.

The president signed an executive order on Wednesday to stop undocumented immigrant children being detained separately from their parents after they have illegally entered the country.

But the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy of criminally prosecuting anyone who crosses the border illegally remains in place.

What did the president say?

“These are the American citizens permanently separated from their loved ones,” Mr Trump said on Friday, before introducing family members of victims.

“I cannot imagine it being any worse, but we promise to act with strength and resolve.

“We’ll not rest until our border is secure, our citizens are safe and we end this immigration crisis once and for all,” the president added.

Laura Wilkerson, whose son was killed in 2010 by an undocumented immigrant, told audience members: “None of our kids had a minute to say goodbye. We weren’t lucky enough to be separated for five days or 10 days.

“We were separated permanently.”

Are immigrants more likely to commit crimes?

In 2017, Gallup polls showed that almost half of Americans believe that immigrants raise crime rates. Yet many studies have found that the reverse is actually true.

Native-born Americans are more likely to commit a crime than immigrants, and more likely to be incarcerated.

One study spanning four decades compared immigration rates with crime rates. The researchers found that immigration appeared to be linked to decreases in violent crimes like murder, or property crime such as burglaries.

“The results show that immigration does not increase assaults and – in fact, robberies, burglaries, larceny, and murder are lower in places where immigration levels are higher,” said the paper’s lead author, Robert Adelman.

A 2017 study by the Cato Institute found that the incarceration rate for native-born Americans was 1.53%, compared to 0.85% for undocumented immigrants and 0.47% for legal immigrants.

What started the row over migrant families?

Approximately 2,300 migrant children have been removed from their families since Mr Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy began in May, and housed in detention centres run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Some shelters, including three in Texas, house so-called “tender age” children, who are under five years old.

[BBC]

Trump: North Korea ‘total denuclearization’ started; officials see no new moves

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday North Korea was blowing up four of its big test sites and that a process of “total denuclearization … has already started,” but officials said there was no such evidence since a landmark summit last week.

Trump said at a Cabinet meeting in the White House that “They’ve stopped the sending of missiles, including ballistic missiles. They’re destroying their engine site. They’re blowing it up. They’ve already blown up one of their big test sites, in fact it’s actually four of their big test sites.

“And the big thing is it will be a total denuclearization, which has already started taking place.”

It was not immediately clear which North Korean test sites Trump was referring to and U.S. officials familiar with current intelligence on North Korea’s nuclear and missile test sites said there was no evidence of new moves to dismantle any sites since Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, speculated Trump might have been referring to explosions last month that North Korea said were to destroy tunnels at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and the dismantling of a medium-range ballistic missile test stand at Iha-ri, also in May.

There had been contact with North Korean officials since the summit, the U.S. State Department said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “will be meeting with them and talking with them at the earliest possible date” to implement what was agreed in Singapore, spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters, without providing further details.

Asked on Wednesday if North Korea had done anything toward denuclearization since the summit, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters: “No, I’m not aware of that … obviously, it’s the very front end of a process. The detailed negotiations have not begun. I wouldn’t expect that at this point.”

Mattis sat next to Trump at Thursday’s Cabinet meeting.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s latest remarks. There also was no immediate response from the White House.

The U.S.-based North Korea monitoring group 38 North said in an analysis at the end of last week there had been no sign of any activity toward dismantling of any missile test site.

Trump, who has been leading an international drive to press North Korea to abandon development of nuclear missiles capable of reaching the United States, told reporters after the June 12 summit that Kim had pledged to dismantle one of his missile installations.

A U.S. official said on Wednesday that the site Trump referred to then was the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, a major facility in the western part of the country that has been used for testing engines for long-range missiles.

[Reuters]

Trump Claims Melania’s Jacket Was About ‘The Fake News Media’: She Knows ‘How Dishonest They Are’

Earlier today, First Lady Melania Trump was spotted wearing a jacketsaying “I DON’T REALLY CARE DO U” en route to visit detained migrant children. It was a curious choice and it’s unclear why she wore it in the first place, but as a spokeswoman for the First Lady insisted, there was no “hidden message.”

Well, no one apparently told the President:

Yes, President Trump is claiming that the First Lady’s jacket was reallya statement about the “Fake News Media,” tweeting, “Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!”

So… there was a hidden message?

[Mediaite]

Trump: Democrats Have Created A ‘Massive Child Smuggling Industry’

President Donald Trump blamed human trafficking on Democrats’ immigration policies during a Cabinet meeting Thursday.

“We have come up with a lot of solutions but we have Democrats that don’t want to approve anything because that’s probably, they think, bad for the election that’s coming up,” he said. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of people suffering and that’s unfortunate.”

“My administration is also acting swiftly to address the illegal immigration crisis on the southern border,” he continued. “Loopholes and our immigration laws all supported by extremist open border Democrats. That’s what they are, extremist, open border Democrats.”

He then specifically named House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and (of course) Hillary Clinton as leading a “con job” on immigration by saying they wanted closed borders, and then that they wanted open ones.

“We’ve created –– they’ve created and they’ve let it happen, a massive child smuggling industry,” Trump insisted. “That’s exactly what it’s become. Traffickers, you think about this, human traffickers are making a fortune. It’s a disgrace.

“They’re the worst immigration laws in the history of the world,” he later said. “The whole world is laughing at the United States and they have been for years. These alien minors were separated and sent all the way up here alone. But they really came up with coyotes — do you know what a coyote is? Not good. These are not good people.”

“They were set up here with human traffickers because the Democrat-supported policies that have allowed this to happen,” he reiterated.

So, yeah, just FYI, Trump’s accusation is inaccurate as hell. Immigration policy is not the work of the Democrats. It is the result of failed policies across the aisle and over many years. Everyone agrees the immigration system is broken and no one knows entirely how to fix it. (Except Donald Trump, clearly.)  As for the specific people he calls out for flip-flopping, we’ll let you be the judge of what they have or haven’t done.

[Mediaite]

Trump mocks ‘elites’ at campaign rally

President Trump mocked the elite class at a campaign rally in Duluth, Minnesota on Wednesday, saying he has a better apartment than they do.

“Why are they elite? I have a much better apartment than they do,” Trump told supporters.

“I’m smarter than they are. I became president and they didn’t. And I’m representing the best people on earth, the deplorables,” he continued, referring to the term his former opponent Hillary Clinton used to once describe his supporters during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The president was at the rally to support Republican candidate Pete Stauber, and was joined by Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Sean Duffy(R-Wis.), Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), and Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Minn.).

The rally came hours after the president signed an executive order intended to end family separations at the southern border, giving into bipartisan pressure to end the policy.

Trump invoked immigration at the rally, vowing to defend the U.S. border.

“I will always fight for an immigration system that defends our borders, and takes care of our sovereignty as a nation,” Trump said. “I will never sacrifice the safety and security of the American people.”

Trump also took an opportunity at the rally to slam the news media.

“So we’ve created 3.4 million new jobs since Election Day,” Trump told the crowd of supporters.

“And I’ve said before if I would have said that to you during the campaign, those very dishonest people back there, the fake news. Very dishonest.”

[The Hill]

Rally crowd chants ‘CNN sucks’ after Trump rips media

The crowd at President Trump‘s Wednesday campaign rally in Duluth, Minn., erupted into chants of “CNN sucks” after the president ripped the news media.

“So we’ve created 3.4 million new jobs since Election Day,” Trump told the crowd of supporters.

“And I’ve said before if I would have said that to you during the campaign, those very dishonest people back there, the fake news. Very dishonest,” he continued to boos from the crowd.

“They would have said he’s exaggerating,” Trump said to chants of “CNN sucks.”

The White House has a very tense relationship with the press, which Trump has repeatedly dismissed as “fake news.”

The president was at the rally to support Republican candidate Pete Stauber, who shared the stage with the president for a short time.

“Like President Trump, I love this country. I love our freedoms. And I love our Constitution,” Stauber said.

Trump was joined at the event by Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), and Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Minn.).

The rally comes hours after Trump gave into bipartisan pressure, and signed an executive order intended to end family separations at the southern border.

[The Hill]

Media

Trump blames ‘fake news’ media for aiding smugglers, human traffickers

President Trump on Tuesday blamed yet another entity for the growing immigration crisis on the U.S. southern border: the news media.

During a speech to a small-business group in Washington, Trump said the “fake news” reports about children being separated from their families at the border are aiding human traffickers.

“They are helping these smugglers and these traffickers like nobody would believe,” Trump said of the media. “They know exactly what they’re doing.”

The president accused news outlets of covering child separations more than congressional hearings about an inspector general report about the Hillary Clinton email probe “because those hearings are not good for them.”

“The whole thing is a scam,” he told members of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

The president also took aim at Mexico, accusing America’s southern neighbor of not doing enough to stop illegal border crossings.

“They come up through Mexico — Mexico does nothing for us,” Trump said. “They could stop it. They have very strong laws. Try staying in Mexico for a couple days see how long that lasts.”

The explosive remarks are the latest sign Trump is not backing down from his administration’s “zero tolerance” stance on illegal immigration, despite growing opposition at home and around the world.

Roughly 2,000 children have been separated from family members as a result of his administration’s decision to prosecute almost everyone who crosses the southern border illegally and jail them while awaiting trial.

The children are placed in juvenile detention facilities near the border because they cannot be held in custody with their adult guardians.

Trump is scheduled to meet with House Republicans later on Tuesday afternoon to discuss immigration measures slated for floor votes this week.

The president said he would be briefed on the proposals and then is “going to make changes” to them. That comment appeared to undercut his own staff, who said last week the president would sign both measures.

The president said he wants Congress to grant him “the legal authority to detain and properly remove families together as a unit,” a provision included in legislation written by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

“We have to be able to do this,” he said. “This is the only solution to the border crisis.”

He also questioned the need for more judges to handle immigration cases, something supported by lawmakers in both parties and his own Justice Department.

“I don’t want judges,” he said. “I want border security. I don’t want to try people. I don’t want people coming in.”

Trump also offered a confusing justification of the practice of separating children from their families at the border, something his top aides have also struggled to defend.

“I don’t want children taken away from parents,” Trump said, blaming the problem on a tangled web of “Democrat-supported loopholes” in immigration law he said he wants to close.

But in the next sentence, Trump said the separations are the intended consequence of a policy meant to deter illegal immigration.

“When you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away,” he said.

His comments reflect the contradictory remarks offered by members of his own team.

Department of Health and Human Services official Steve Wagner told reporters on Tuesday that “the new policy will result in a deterrence effect and we certainly hope parents stop bringing kids on this dangerous journey.”

That came one day after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsensaid she finds it “offensive” for reporters to suggest the child separations are an intended effect of the administration’s policy.

[The Hill]

Trump Explains That “You Have to Take the Children Away” in Unhinged Speech to Small-Business Owners

In a defensive and rambling speech in which the president was clearly venting frustration over the rising tide of bipartisan outrage over the policy that separates migrant families, Donald Trump told an audience of small-business owners a series of falsehoods and dramatic, fear-mongering warnings as he doubled down on his now familiar justifications for child separation.

While reserving blame for the Democrats (who, he said, support “open borders” because they consider MS-13 gang members future Democrat voters and who forced this outcome by building loopholes in the immigration laws) and Mexico (“They do nothing for us”), Trump still seemed to take some ownership of the policy, justifying it as a necessary step in protecting the border. “When you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away,” he said.

The speech, delivered to the National Federation of Independent Businesses on Tuesday, dealt much more with immigration than with small-business issues, as Trump has appeared to become increasingly agitated in the face of both Democrats and Republicanscalling his administration’s policy cruel and inhumane.

But the president did deliver a strange set of remarks about trade and tariffs, with a warning to Canada that its tariffs are too high, meaning “we’re treated horribly.” He shared a strange example:

The tariffs to get common items back into Canada are so high that they have to smuggle them in. They buy shoes, then they wear them. They scuff them up. They make them sound old or look old.

It’s unclear where he pulled this anecdote from. He concluded, “No, we have to change our ways. We can no longer be the stupid country. We want to be the smart country.”

But the president’s most inflammatory statements came when he spoke about Central American migrants, who, in one of his more fearmongering speeches, he described as violent people, often either bringing gang violence to the country or trafficking children. Some highlights from the speech:

People that come in violate the law, they endanger their children in the process, and frankly, they endanger all of our children. You see what happens with MS-13 where your sons and daughters are attacked violently. Kids that never even heard of such a thing are being attacked violently. Not with guns but with knives because it’s much more painful.

And remember, these countries that we give tremendous foreign aid to in many cases, they send these people up, and they’re not sending their finest. Does that sound familiar? Remember I made that speech and I was badly criticized? ‘Oh, that’s so terrible what he said.’ It turned out I was 100 percent right. That’s why I got elected.

Trump also cited some false or misleading facts in his speech to bolster his anti-immigrant views, including his assertion that since Germany began accepting a large number of refugees, the country’s crime has increased by 10 percent. Germany’s crime levels are actually at a 25-year low.

Trump also portrayed migrants as savvy and able to hire lawyers who tell them exactly what to say to be released, allowing them to leave and never return for their court date. In reality, many asylum-seekers are left to navigate the asylum process without the help of any legal counsel, and a significant percentage do return for their hearing.

And he rambled about the large number of judges “they” want at the border. It’s unclear who he was saying wanted “thousands and thousands” of judges, though Ted Cruz has said he would increase the number of judges in his proposed immigration plan.

And he finally made a promise that he would withhold aid from the migrants’ home countries:

Hundreds of millions of dollars we give to some of these countries, and they send them up. Well, I’m going to go very shortly for authorization that when countries abuse us by sending their people up – not their best – we’re not going to give any more aid to those countries. Why the hell should we?

And for a little personal color in his attack on Democrats, who, he said, did a terrible job of letting people know what they stood for, he said his opposing party united around an anti-Trump message which, essentially, was too mean. “I used to go home, I started disliking myself,” he said. “It’s true. I said, man, am I that bad?”

Trump also hit some of his other traditional points. He boasted about the economy. He bragged about his election, “a beautiful thing.” And he threw in accusations that the “fake news” media were actively aiding criminals: “They are helping these smugglers and these traffickers like nobody would believe,” he said. “They know it, they know exactly what they’re doing, and it should be stopped.”

[Slate]

Media

 

Donald Trump accuses Canadians of smuggling shoes home from U.S.

U.S. President Donald Trump has called Canada “brutal,” accused Canada’s prime minister of being “weak,” and taken aim at Canada’s supply management system for dairy.

Now he is calling Canadians shoe smugglers.

Speaking to the National Federation of Independent Businesses in Washington on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump claimed Americans are “treated horribly” by Canadians who return home with U.S.-purchased shoes they have smuggled across the border. (CHRIS KLEPONIS – POOL / GETTY IMAGES)

In the latest salvo in the president’s multi-front attack on Canadian trade practices, Trump told a story Tuesday about Canadians who cross the U.S. border to buy shoes. The tale left trade experts and apparel industry officials scratching their heads.

Trump launched into it while delivering a rambling speech, focused on illegal immigration, to the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

“There was a story two days ago in a major newspaper talking about people living in Canada coming to the United States and smuggling things back into Canada because the tariffs are so massive. The tariffs to get common items back into Canada are so high that they have to smuggle ‘em in,” Trump said, apparently referring to an essay in the New York Post by Canadian journalist Isabel Vincent. “They buy shoes, then they wear them. They scuff ’em up. They make them sound old or look old. No, we’re treated horribly.”

There was a grain of truth to the story. Crossing the border to shop in the U.S. and then sneaking an item or two past customs on the way back is a time-honoured Canadian pastime. On Twitter, several Canadians immediately confessed to making furtive attempts to make their new shoes look well-worn.

But there is no indication that any of this has anything to do with tariffs. And Trump’s claim that this shop-and-hide practice results in the U.S. being mistreated makes no sense at all, trade and apparel experts said.

The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, the U.S. industry’s lobby group, said in a statement: “The president seems misinformed about footwear trade.”

“On behalf of the American footwear industry, we welcome anyone from anywhere to come and purchase shoes in America. It helps both our brands and retailers grow. Period,” the group said. “We don’t care where they wear them, and if they get scuffed up all the better so we can sell them more.”

Under NAFTA, there are no Canadian tariffs on shoes manufactured in the U.S. Since more than 95 per cent of shoes sold in the U.S. are made abroad, any Canadian shoppers avoiding Canada’s tariffs upon their return home are actually avoiding tariffs on foreign-made items, mostly made-in-Asia goods.

In other words, Trump was complaining about Canadians spending money at U.S. stores and then refusing to pay the Canadian government for goods made in other countries — a process that does not victimize the U.S. in any way.

“There doesn’t seem to be an issue. I’m not sure why we’re talking about this. Yet again, we’re being led down this path when there really isn’t anything there,” said Bob Kirke, executive director of the Canadian Apparel Federation. “I feel like I’m going down the rabbit hole here.”

In a tweet to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the U.S. industry group added: “The US Footwear Industry welcomes you and all Canadians to come buy shoes in America! As many as you want — and scuff them up if you want, we can sell you more!”

Kirke said he doesn’t think “there’s any negotiation or discussion around footwear tariffs or rules of origin in the current NAFTA negotiation. Zero. Zip.” And he said lower shoe prices in the U.S. are a result of the competitiveness of the U.S. retail market, not tariffs.

“Both countries have tariffs on imported footwear,” said Karl Littler, vice-president of public affairs at the Retail Council of Canada. “His critique of Canada he might level at the U.S. system as well.”

Canadians don’t have to pay duties on their first $200 in purchases if they’re in the U.S. for 24 hours. They get an $800 exemption if they’re away 48 hours.

Another cross-border shopping issue has been significant in NAFTA talks: Canada’s $20 threshold, one of the lowest in the world, for duties on shipments mailed from abroad. The U.S. threshold is $800, and the Trump administration has called on Canada to raise its own.

On Tuesday, Trump again floated the idea of making separate deals with Canada and Mexico rather than preserving the North American Free Trade Agreement. He also made some of his usual false claims about the trade balance with Canada, and he again criticized Canada’s dairy tariffs.

“We can no longer be the stupid country. We want to be the smart country. So hopefully we’ll be able to work it out with Canada. We have very good relationships with Canada, we have for a long time, and hopefully that’ll work out, but Canada’s not going to take advantage of the United States any longer. And Mexico’s not going to take advantage of the United States any longer,” he said.

Trump also scoffed at Trudeau’s argument against the steel and aluminum tariffs that Trump imposed on “national security” grounds. Trudeau has invoked the Canadian soldiers who have fought and died with American soldiers. On Tuesday, Trump paraphrased the argument with a hint of mockery.

“By the way, Canada, they like to talk,” Trump said to laughter. “They’re our great neighbour. They fought World War II with us. We appreciate it. They fought World War I with us, and we appreciate it. But we’re protecting each other.”

[Toronto Star]

Trump Says Democrats Want Immigrants to ‘Infest’ the U.S.

One of the paradoxes of modern-day American politics is that white identity politics can be a potent political platform, as long as you don’t call it that. Policies with racist effects are often popular; explicit racism is verboten.

Thus Donald Trump can win the presidency while running, as my colleague Adam Serwer documented, on a program of discrimination, but when Corey Stewart, a Republican politician in Virginia, makes his white-identity politics too explicit he gets shunned by the GOP.

Sometimes, however, the president’s mask slips, usually at moments of national crisis, and he says the quiet part loud, as The Simpsons memorably put it. This happened after race riots in Charlottesville, when Trump insisted there were good people among the white-supremacist marchers. And it’s happening again now in the context of separating families at the borders.

After days of insisting, falsely, that the separations were the result of some Democratic-passed law, the president has partially shifted gears, defending the policy in a series of tweets. The most shocking is this one, with its description of unauthorized immigrants as an “infestation”:

[The Atlantic]

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