5 key moments from Jeff Sessions’ testimony before House Judiciary Committee

ADAM KELSEY
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions denied suggestions Tuesday that he misled Congress in previous appearances before Senate committees in which he was asked about Trump campaign contacts with Russian officials.

Questions about Sessions’ prior answers to Congress came during his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Lawmakers asked about the latest developments in the investigations into Russian interference in last year’s U.S. presidential election — including a guilty plea by Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos to a charge of misleading investigators.

The questions focused on Papadopoulos’ attempts to coordinate a meeting between then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin and Papadopoulos’ presence at a March 2016 gathering also attended by Sessions. The attorney general’s responses to questions about communication with Russia drew scrutiny from Democrats who believed that he may have known more than he previously disclosed.

Sessions authorizes Justice Department to consider investigating Clinton Foundation

Sessions says he has not been interviewed by special counsel in Russia probe

Sessions said that he now recalled the 2016 meeting, after recent news reports on the matter, and that he “always told the truth” in his appearances on Capitol Hill. He added that he “wanted to make clear to [Papadopoulos] that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government.”

“But I did not recall this event, which occurred 18 months before my testimony of a few weeks ago,” he said.

Here’s a look at five key moments from Sessions’ testimony Tuesday:

Sessions claims he has ‘always told the truth’ and now recalls Papadopoulos meeting

In his opening statement, the attorney general told the committee he has “always told the truth,” referring to his criticized appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October.

On the subject of meetings attended by Papadopoulos and campaign aide Carter Page, Sessions said he “had no recollection” of the meetings until he saw recent news reports. He previously told the Senate Judiciary Committee he was “not aware” of attempts by the campaign to communicate with Russia.

“I do now recall the March 2016 meeting at the Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting,” Sessions said. “After reading his account, and to the best of my recollection, I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government or any other foreign government, for that matter.”

He continued that he “gladly would have reported it,” had he remembered it. Sessions said he “pushed back” against what he thought was an improper suggestion by Papadopoulos — that Trump meet with Putin.

NEW: AG Jeff Sessions says he now recalls meeting with George Papadopoulos, “but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said.” http://abcn.ws/2htbyes 

Sessions says he has ‘no reason to doubt’ accusers of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore

AG Jeff Sessions on Roy Moore’s accusers: “I have no reason to doubt these young women.” http://abcn.ws/2yZZA77 

Though he said he believes he should not be involved in the race for his former U.S. Senate seat representing Alabama, Sessions said he has “no reason to doubt” the women accusing Republican candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct.

Moore is accused of pursuing relationships with teenage girls in the late 1970s and early 1980s, including attempting to engage in sexual activity with one girl as young as 14.

PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Nov. 14, 2017, in Washington, on oversight of the U.S. Justice Department. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Nov. 14, 2017, in Washington, on oversight of the U.S. Justice Department. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
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Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, asked Sessions whether he would push for a Justice Department investigation into the alleged actions should Moore win the election.

Sessions would not comment on the hypothetical situation but pledged of his department, “We will do our duty.”

Sessions says DOJ shouldn’t ‘retaliate politically against opponents’

After the committee’s ranking member, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., showed Sessions several of Trump’s tweets suggesting the Justice Department investigate former campaign rival Hillary Clinton, the attorney general was asked whether it was “common” for a country’s leader to “retaliate against his political opponents.”

PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrives on Capitol Hill for a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Nov. 14, 2017, in Washington. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrives on Capitol Hill for a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Nov. 14, 2017, in Washington. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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“The Department of Justice can never be used to retaliate politically against opponents, and that would be wrong,” Sessions said. He added, after additional questioning, that the president should “take great care” not to influence a pending investigation.

Sessions admitted, however, he could not entirely control Trump’s seemingly off-the-cuff remarks.

“The president speaks his mind,” Sessions said.

Rep. Jordan asks about additional special counsel

Rep. Jordan: “What’s it going to take to actually get a special counsel” on FBI/DOJ handling of Clinton probe?

Jeff Sessions: “It would take a factual basis.” http://abcn.ws/2z0fej4 

After Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, ran through a timeline of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server and the related actions of then–FBI Director James Comey and then–Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Sessions explained that the matter did not automatically warrant a special counsel, as Jordan suggested was necessary.

“It would take a factual basis that meets the standards of the appointment of a special counsel,” Sessions said, an answer that did not appear to quell Jordan’s concerns.

In a letter to the committee Monday, Sessions said he authorized Justice Department prosecutors to look into whether the sale of a uranium company during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state warranted investigation by a special counsel. Republicans have raised alarm over donations to the Clinton Foundation made by people related to the deal.

Sessions cautioned Tuesday that the step outlined in his letter did not guarantee an independent investigator would be appointed.

“You can have your idea, but sometimes we have to study what the facts are and to evaluate whether it … meets the standard required for a special counsel,” he said.

Sessions admits he hasn’t ‘followed through’ on election interference mitigation efforts

Asked what steps he’s taken to protect elections, Attorney General Sessions says, “I have not followed through to see where we are on that.”

After telling the Senate Judiciary Committee in October that the U.S. was not prepared to prevent interference in its elections, Sessions admitted he has “not followed through to see where we are on that.”

“I will personally take action to do so,” he said. “A lot of things have been happening. We are working on a lot of great agenda items. But this one is important, and I acknowledge that.”

“I should be able to give you better information today than I am,” Sessions conceded.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb. asked Sessions last month about preparations for upcoming elections. Sessions said it would require a “specific review” but that no such efforts were underway at the time.

ABC News’ Mike Levine, Benjamin Siegel and Trish Truner contributed to this report.

Courtesy: GMA

US lawmakers slam ‘unauthorized’ military aid for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen

US lawmakers slam ‘unauthorized’ military aid for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen
The US House of Representatives has passed a resolution which states Washington’s support for the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemen war is unauthorized. However, the resolution does not call for an immediate halt to US assistance.

In a non-binding move, the lawmakers publicly acknowledged that the US military support for Saudi Arabia and its allies in Yemen, which involves sharing information and refueling warplanes, goes beyond what Congress has approved. It further explains that US forces are authorized to combat only Al-Qaeda or its affiliates as well as other terrorist groups in Yemen – but not the Houthi rebels that are targeted by the Saudis.

Congress “has not enacted specific legislation authorizing the use of military force against parties participating in the Yemeni civil war that are not otherwise subject to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force [AUMF] or the 2003 AUMF in Iraq,” the resolution says. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who co-sponsored the document with Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), also drew attention to the fact that what the US military is doing goes beyond its authorized capacity.

“What our military is not authorized to do is assist the Saudi Arabian regime in fighting the Houthis,” Khanna said, as cited by Politico. He also claimed that Washington’s aid to Saudi Arabia runs counter to its own stated goals in the region.

“In many cases, the Saudis have aligned with Al-Qaeda to fight the Houthis, undermining our very counterterrorism operations,” he said. The document itself also states that “the conflict between the Saudi-led Arab Coalition and the Houthi… alliance is counterproductive to ongoing efforts by the United States to pursue Al-Qaeda and its associated forces.”

Khanna, also a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has previously accused Washington of contributing to Saudi airstrikes “that kill civilians” and “are creating a security vacuum that allows groups like ISIS [Islamic State/IS, also ISIL] to gain a foothold.”

The resolution adopted 366-30 on Monday is, however, largely symbolic and does not call for an immediate stop to US military aid to the Saudi-led coalition. Khanna particularly criticized the US interventions in the Middle East by saying that they had not “made the United States or the world any safer.” In a Twitter post he also called on Washington to embrace “a foreign policy of restraint and diplomacy.”

Our interventionism in the Middle East has not made the United States or the world any safer. Instead of calling for regime change, we need a foreign policy of restraint and diplomacy.

Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called on lawmakers to “sunset the 2001 AUMF,” adding that the document had never been intended to be “a blank check,” Politico reports. The 2001 AUMF authorized the US president to use military force against “nations, organizations, or persons” that are considered to be in any way linked to the 9/11 attacks, to prevent further terrorist assaults on the country.

The authorization has been used numerous times to justify military action against Afghanistan, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Philippines, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, according to the Congressional Research Service.

There were calls to halt US support for the Gulf countries fighting in Yemen even before the Monday resolution. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) said in June that it was “astounding what’s going on in Yemen]” with US weapons, during a debate on American arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Representative Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California and a long-time advocate for the suspension of US cooperation with the Saudi-led coalition, also said earlier this year that Washington should not increase its involvement in the Yemeni civil war “without any explanation” by the president.

Since March 2015, the UN has recorded a total of 13,504 civilian casualties in Yemen, including 4,971 killed and 8,533 injured. Yemen’s conflict has also brought one of the region’s poorest countries to the brink of famine.

Courtesy: RT

NYC terror attack suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, entered US through Diversity Visa Program

The alleged ISIS fanatic authorities say was behind Tuesday’s deadly New York City slaughter came to the United States seven years ago from Uzbekistan under the Diversity Visa Program, details of Sayfullo Saipov’s travel to America that could become all the more important as President Trump proposes revisions to his “extreme vetting” program.

The Diversity Visa Program, a State Department program which offers a lottery for people from countries with few immigrants in America, drew the ire of Trump early Wednesday morning.

“The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based,” Trump tweeted. “We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter).”

The DV program makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available annually, “drawn from random selection among all entries to individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration” to the U.S., according to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services website. Applicants must prove they have a clean criminal record, have a high school diploma or its equivalent, or have at least two years of work experience within the past five years in order to qualify.

The program originated as part of a bill introduced in 1990 by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., then a member of the House. Schumer’s measure to make a set number of visas available to “diversity immigrants” from certain countries was absorbed into a larger House immigration bill, which was sponsored by Schumer and 31 others, including several Republicans.

This undated photo provided by St. Charles County Department of Corrections via KMOV shows the Sayfullo Saipov. A man in a rented pickup truck mowed down pedestrians and cyclists along a busy bike path near the World Trade Center memorial on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, killing several. Officials who were not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on the condition of anonymity identified the attacker Saipov. (St. Charles County Department of Corrections/KMOV via AP)

Sayfullo Saipov is accused of killing eight and injuring 11 in a terror attack in New York City.  (St. Charles County Department of Corrections)

The House legislation passed in a bipartisan – but contested – vote, 231-192, while the Senate version containing the “diversity immigrants” part passed more easily, 89-8, and went on to be signed by then-President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

The program has been in the crosshairs of Congress several times, most recently when the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, sponsored by Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark., called for its elimination. The Trump White House came out in support of the bill, calling the DV program “outdated,” adding that it “serves questionable economic and humanitarian interests.”

NYCTruck

Saipov allegedly drove a Home Depot truck into pedestrians in New York City.

Schumer responded to Trump’s comments early Wednesday, calling on the president to rescind proposed cuts to “vital anti-terrorism funding” in his budget.

“I have always believed and continue to believe that immigration is good for America,” the senator said in a statement. “President Trump, instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, should be focusing on the real solution – anti-terrorism funding – which he proposed cutting in his most recent budget.”

On Tuesday after the attack, Schumer kept his post-attack comments to praise of the NYPD.

“Thanks NYPD for rapidly responding to tragic situation downtown. Worried & saddened to hear about injuries & loss of life,” he said on Twitter.

Saipov is accused of killing eight people and injuring 11 others when he drove a rented Home Depot truck down a New York City bike lane, plowing into pedestrians, before slamming into a school bus.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Courtesy: Fox News

Yemen war ‘unconstitutional,’ says trio of US lawmakers

Yemen war ‘unconstitutional,’ says trio of US lawmakers
A group of Congressmen from both major parties is hoping to force a vote over Washington’s involvement in Yemen, with a resolution invoking the War Powers Act to force the US to stop aiding the Saudi-led coalition in its bombing campaign.

Three members of the US House of Representatives tried to illustrate the horrors of the Yemen conflict by comparing it to a hypothetical war affecting the US state of Washington ‒ with a population of 7.3 million ‒ “on the brink of starvation, with the port city of Seattle under a naval and aerial blockade, leaving it unable to receive and distribute countless tons of food and aid that is waiting offshore.”

“This nightmare scenario is akin to the obscene reality occurring in the Middle East’s poorest country, Yemen, at the hand of the region’s richest, Saudi Arabia, with unyielding support from the US military that Congress has not authorized and therefore violates the Constitution,” wrote Representatives Ro Khanna (D-California), Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin) and Walter Jones (R-North Carolina) in a New York Times op-ed Tuesday.

In March 2015, the Obama administration began aiding the coalition led by Saudi Arabia in its war against the Houthis, a rebel group that took control of Yemen’s capital Sanaa. Since then, Washington has supported the coalition’s military campaign in Yemen, by providing the Saudis with logistical support, intelligence and ammunition used in airstrikes.

This has led to the deaths of over 10,000 civilians and has plunged much of Yemen into a humanitarian crisis.

The three lawmakers teamed up with colleague Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) to introduce House Resolution 81, invoking the War Powers Act to guarantee a full House vote to withdraw US armed forces from the unauthorized war.

“We believe that the American people, if presented with the facts of this conflict, will oppose the use of their tax dollars to bomb and starve civilians,” the three representatives wrote.

Several more lawmakers have expressed support for the proposal as well.

Good morning. Good news on the Yemen debate in Congress. (1/x)

5 more Members of Congress are backing the bill to end US involvement in ‘s  War. ().

Here’s who they are:

Under the 1973 law, any proposed Congressional resolution regarding an unauthorized use of force is considered a priority, meaning that the foreign affairs committee must report on it within fifteen days and a vote must be held within three days thereafter.

“It will sit with the Foreign Affairs Committee for 15 calendar days and will then be discharged for consideration by the full House. At that point, any member of Congress can call the resolution up for a debate and floor vote,” Kate Khizer, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Yemen Peace Project told The Intercept.

Courtesy: DW

Trump’s DACA demands met with outrage from ‘Chuck and Nancy’

President Trump’s political dalliance with “Chuck and Nancy” already is running into problems, as the top congressional Democrats balk at the president’s new terms for a deal to help the roughly 800,000 young illegal immigrants known as ‘Dreamers.’

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“This proposal fails to represent any attempt at compromise,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement, after the administration announced the demands Sunday night.

The friction comes roughly three weeks after Pelosi and Schumer left a White House dinner with Trump saying they’d agreed to a framework deal to help the young illegal immigrants, as Trump moves to end their protections under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).

The Trump administration outlined an extensive list of conditions late Sunday.

“The administration can’t be serious about compromise,” Pelosi, of California, and Schumer, of New York, also said in their Sunday night statement. “We told the president at our meeting that we were open to reasonable border security measures … but this list goes so far beyond what is reasonable.”

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, on Monday questioned what Schumer thinks is “reasonable.”

“You have people who are losing loved ones because they are killed by an illegal immigrant,” Conway said on “Fox & Friends.” “What’s reasonable is to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs over the border. I’d like to know what Chuck Schumer thinks is reasonable.”

Trump Schumer Pelosi FBN

President Trump’s dealings with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are running into complications over his new DACA deal terms.  (AP)

Trump in recent weeks has turned to Schumer and Pelosi amid frustration with Senate Republicans, after they repeatedly failed to repeal and replace ObamaCare, denying him a major legislative victory and the ability to fulfill a top campaign promise.

Trump left the earlier meeting touting his efforts with “Chuck and Nancy” but was not specific about whether wall funding was a necessity.

The administration’s requirements announced Sunday include additional crackdowns on “sanctuary cities” that protect illegal immigrants; reducing the number of incoming refugees; 10,000 more Customs and Border Patrol agents; and new initiatives curbing the number of unaccompanied immigrants who come to the U.S. illegally as children.

“Over the last several decades, respect for the rule of law has broken down and immigration enforcement has been sacrificed for the sake of political expediency,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said after the announcement. “This plan will work.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokesman Doug Andres said the GOP-controlled chamber’s immigration working group would review the roughly 70-point White House list, then consult with the entire Republican caucus and the administration.

The White House plan is considered a starting point for congressional negotiations.

While the plan is already being embraced by Capitol Hill’s most conservative members, including a number of immigration hawks, backlash is growing among Democrats.

“It is immoral for the president to use the lives of these young people as bargaining chips in his quest to impose his cruel, anti-immigrant and un-American agenda on our nation,” said New Mexico Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

The House Freedom Caucus, the chamber’s most conservative wing, is backing the plan.

“We applaud the administration’s leadership on principles that will be critical to any immigration policy changes,” said caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C. “We look forward to the administration’s insistence on these principles in any deal that is signed into law.”

In dismantling DACA, the administration has argued it was forced to act because federal courts were ready to rule the program was unconstitutional, which would have put the Dreamers’ future in jeopardy.

Trump, in announcing the end of DACA, gave Congress six months to find a legislative alternative.

The White House on Sunday night also asked to limit family-based green cards to spouses and the minor children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, in addition to creating a point-based system.

And it called for boosting fees at border crossings, making it easier to deport gang members and unaccompanied children, and overhauling the asylum system.

Conway also said Monday that the White House requests are the result of collaborations with such agencies as the departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol.

Fox News’ Jennifer Bowman, Mike Emanuel, Jason Donner, Jake Gibson, Serafin Gomez, Chad Pergram and Joseph Weber and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Courtesy: Fox News

US lawmakers want commission to look at Iran’s compliance with nuclear deal

US lawmakers want commission to look at Iran’s compliance with nuclear deal
Two congressmen have introduced legislation seeking to create a bipartisan commission to verify whether Iran is complying with the 2015 nuclear deal before President Donald Trump can make good on his campaign promise to scrap it.

Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-Virginia) and Francis Rooney (R-Florida) are seeking to set up a commission that would include 16 members of Congress and four representatives of the executive branch – of departments of State, Energy, Treasury and Defense – who would together examine intelligence data and draw a conclusion regarding Iran’s compliance with the agreement.

The landmark nuclear deal with Iran was negotiated by US, Russia, France, Germany, China, the United Kingdom and the European Union two years ago to ensure that Iran does not build a nuclear weapon.

“Increasing public transparency surrounding the Iran deal’s implementation is a critical priority. Congress has a role to play in effective oversight of this agreement, and we must assert that role regardless of whether the president certifies Iran’s compliance,” Connolly said Wednesday.

The proposal comes amid reports that Trump may decertify Iran’s compliance with the deal next month, when Washington’s certification deadline matures. CBS News reported last week that the president is leaning toward the decision.

Trump said he had made a decision regarding the deal, but declined to say what that decision was. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump has not shared his decision “externally.”

However, Tuesday, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford told Congress that Iran is complying with the agreement. The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), announced a similar assessment three weeks ago.

‘Concise’  won’t tell allies his decision on Iran nuclear deal’ – Tillerson https://on.rt.com/8nr4 

Photo published for 'Clear & concise' Trump won't tell allies his decision on Iran deal – Tillerson — RT America

‘Clear & concise’ Trump won’t tell allies his decision on Iran deal – Tillerson — RT America

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson insists that Iran is only in “technical compliance” with its nuclear deal, following President Donald Trump’s cryptic announcement that he has reached a decision on…

rt.com

Last week, Trump declared the deal with Iran an “embarrassment to the US” and threatened to quit the agreement if the IAEA is not granted full access to all Iranian military sites.

In July, his administration certified that Iran was in compliance and lifted the nuclear-related sanctions against Iran under the agreement. However, US officials have said that despite “technically complying” with the nuclear agreement, Iran remains a “destabilizing” force in the region.

“We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities,” Trump told the UN General Assembly last week, citing Tehran’s support for Hezbollah, the Syrian government as well as for Shia Houthis in the Yemeni civil war.

Iran could pull out of the 2015 agreement and bolster its nuclear program at a “greater speed,” should President Trump decertify the pact, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warned this week.

Zarif underlined that Iran’s nuclear program “will remain peaceful,”but “will not address and accept the limitations that we voluntarily accepted.”

Zarif also noted that certification is not part of the deal and is only “US internal procedure.”

“It doesn’t absolve President Trump and the administration of the responsibility because the only authority that has been recognized in the nuclear deal to verify [compliance with the deal] is the IAEA,” the minister pointed out.

The nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has to be re-assessed every 90 days by the US president in accordance with a Congress-created mechanism. The next deadline is set for October 15. If Trump decides to decertify, Congress will have 60 days to vote on re-imposing sanctions lifted under the pact in exchange for Tehran capping its nuclear program.

Under the terms of the deal, Iran agreed to reduce the number of its uranium enrichment centrifuges by two-thirds; cap its enrichment below the level needed for weapons-grade material; reduce its enriched uranium stockpile by 98 percent from around 10,000kg for 15 years; and allow international inspections.

Courtesy, RT

President Trump’s statement on DACA

The following is a statement issued by President Trump on the administration’s decision to wind down the Obama-era DACA program: 

As President, my highest duty is to defend the American people and the Constitution of the United States of America.  At the same time, I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents.  But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.

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The legislative branch, not the executive branch, writes these laws – this is the bedrock of our Constitutional system, which I took a solemn oath to preserve, protect, and defend.

In June of 2012, President Obama bypassed Congress to give work permits, social security numbers, and federal benefits to approximately 800,000 illegal immigrants currently between the ages of 15 and 36.  The typical recipients of this executive amnesty, known as DACA, are in their twenties.  Legislation offering these same benefits had been introduced in Congress on numerous occasions and rejected each time.

In referencing the idea of creating new immigration rules unilaterally, President Obama admitted that “I can’t just do these things by myself” – and yet that is exactly what he did, making an end-run around Congress and violating the core tenets that sustain our Republic.

Officials from 10 States are suing over the program, requiring my Administration to make a decision regarding its legality. The Attorney General of the United States, the Attorneys General of many states, and virtually all other top legal experts have advised that the program is unlawful and unconstitutional and cannot be successfully defended in court.

There can be no path to principled immigration reform if the executive branch is able to rewrite or nullify federal laws at will.

The temporary implementation of DACA by the Obama Administration, after Congress repeatedly rejected this amnesty-first approach, also helped spur a humanitarian crisis – the massive surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America including, in some cases, young people who would become members of violent gangs throughout our country, such as MS-13.

Only by the reliable enforcement of immigration law can we produce safe communities, a robust middle class, and economic fairness for all Americans.

Therefore, in the best interests of our country, and in keeping with the obligations of my office, the Department of Homeland Security will begin an orderly transition and wind-down of DACA, one that provides minimum disruption.  While new applications for work permits will not be accepted, all existing work permits will be honored until their date of expiration up to two full years from today.  Furthermore, applications already in the pipeline will be processed, as will renewal applications for those facing near-term expiration.  This is a gradual process, not a sudden phase out.  Permits will not begin to expire for another six months, and will remain active for up to 24 months.  Thus, in effect, I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.

Our enforcement priorities remain unchanged. We are focused on criminals, security threats, recent border-crossers, visa overstays, and repeat violators.  I have advised the Department of Homeland Security that DACA recipients are not enforcement priorities unless they are criminals, are involved in criminal activity, or are members of a gang.

The decades-long failure of Washington, D.C. to enforce federal immigration law has had both predictable and tragic consequences: lower wages and higher unemployment for American workers, substantial burdens on local schools and hospitals, the illicit entry of dangerous drugs and criminal cartels, and many billions of dollars a year in costs paid for by U.S. taxpayers.  Yet few in Washington expressed any compassion for the millions of Americans victimized by this unfair system.  Before we ask what is fair to illegal immigrants, we must also ask what is fair to American families, students, taxpayers, and jobseekers.

Congress now has the opportunity to advance responsible immigration reform that puts American jobs and American security first.  We are facing the symptom of a larger problem, illegal immigration, along with the many other chronic immigration problems Washington has left unsolved.  We must reform our green card system, which now favors low-skilled immigration and puts immense strain on U.S. taxpayers.  We must base future immigration on merit – we want those coming into the country to be able to support themselves financially, to contribute to our economy, and to love our country and the values it stands for.  Under a merit-based system, citizens will enjoy higher employment, rising wages, and a stronger middle class.  Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue have introduced the RAISE Act, which would establish this merit-based system and produce lasting gains for the American People.

I look forward to working with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to finally address all of these issues in a manner that puts the hardworking citizens of our country first.

As I’ve said before, we will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion – but through the lawful Democratic process – while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve.  We must also have heart and compassion for unemployed, struggling, and forgotten Americans.

Above all else, we must remember that young Americans have dreams too. Being in government means setting priorities. Our first and highest priority in advancing immigration reform must be to improve jobs, wages and security for American workers and their families.

It is now time for Congress to act!

Courtesy, Fox News

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