Trump backs citizenship for Dreamers, while slashing legal immigration

 

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said he will support a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, according to a telephone briefing by the White House for Republican congressional staff members. His remarks could move negotiations on an immigration deal that is stalled in Congress but Democrats have signaled that his proposal is a non-starter.

The call, hosted by White House adviser Stephen Miller, outlined the demands for any deal on DACA, which includes a $25 billion “trust fund” for a border wall, an end to family reunification, also called “chain migration” by conservatives, and an end to the diversity visa lottery.

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 Trump to back pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million dreamers1:59

But in a more detailed outline of the proposal released by the White House later on Thursday, it calls for a massive increase in border security and a massive decrease in legal immigration by aiming to “protect the nuclear family migration” by only allowing family immigration sponsorships to include spouses or children, rather than extended family members.

In addition to $25 billion in border security, it would appropriate funds to add new enforcement officers, immigration judges and prosecutors – efforts to more quickly deport people who are in the country without legal papers.

The path to citizenship would be provided to DACA recipients via a “10-12 year path” that includes “requirements for work, education and good moral character.”

A path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers is a significant concession for Democrats, most of whom say they will not support any deal that does not provide for citizenship. It’s similar to a bipartisan proposal by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., also includes a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

But Democrats say that the massive increase in border security, elimination of most family migration and the end to the diversity visa lottery is a lopsided deal.

“Dreamers should not be held hostage to President Trump’s crusade to tear families apart and waste billions of American tax dollars on an ineffective wall,” Durbin said in a statement. “This plan would put the administration’s entire hard-line immigration agenda — including massive cuts to legal immigration — on the backs of these young people.”

Trump told reporters Wednesday night before leaving for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that he’d support legalization that would “morph” into citizenship.

Many on Capitol Hill have been waiting for specifics from the president on what he wants to see in an immigration bill. He has expressed requirements in line with conservative principles while also signaling his openness to a more lenient plan, confusing the topic for lawmakers attempting to draft legislation.

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 Dreamer: The goalpost keeps moving for our families 5:18

“We’re grateful for the president showing leadership on this issue, and believe his ideas will help us ultimately reach a balanced solution,” Michael Ricci, a spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, told NBC News.

Some Republicans, especially those with more hard-line views on immigration, praised the plan.

“The president’s framework is generous and humane, while also being responsible,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said.

Immigration activists, however, blasted the plan for ending family reunification, and vowed to oppose it.

“They think that by offering up a spoonful of sugar — relief for Dreamers — they can get Congress and the American people to swallow the bitter medicine of radical nativism,” Frank Sharry, founder of America’s Voice, an immigration rights group. “We are going to fight this tooth and nail.”

United We Dream Advocacy Director Greisa Martínez Rosas, who would be a DACA beneficiary, went further in a statement.

“Let’s call this proposal for what it is: a white supremacist ransom note,” she said. “Trump and Stephen Miller killed DACA and created the crisis that immigrant youths are facing. They have taken immigrant youth hostage, pitting us against our own parents, Black immigrants and our communities in exchange for our dignity.”

The ACLU also did not pull any punches, saying that “the only community that benefits from this supposed generosity are white supremacists.”

The nonprofit advocacy organizationadded that the “proposal is clearly an effort to sabotage bipartisan talks on the issue by continuing to put issues on the table that are non-starters.”

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 Schumer pulls offer to to fund border wall 13:04

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force, said in a tweet that Trump’s proposal didn’t “pass the laugh test.”

$25 billion as ransom for Dreamers with cuts to legal immigration and increases to deportations doesn’t pass the laugh test.

And Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., excoriated the bill in a statement.

“We cannot allow the lives of young people who have done everything right to be used as bargaining chips for sweeping anti-immigrant policies,” she said. “The White House is using Dreamers to mask their underlying xenophobic, isolationist, and un-American policies, which will harm millions of immigrants living in the United States and millions of others who want to legally immigrate and contribute to our country.”

Meanwhile, other Democrats in the House and Senate — as well as liberal advocates — shared their continued displeasure with Trump’s proposal on social media.

The White House’s immigration framework is not a serious attempt to reach an agreement on . It is Stephen Miller’s nativist wishlist, which pits children against children and immigrants against immigrants. We need a !

By ending DACA, @realdonaldtrump subjected 800k Dreamers to deportation. Now he wants to hold them hostage to Steven Miller’s anti-immigrant wish list. It’s insulting. We already have a bipartisan solution to the Trump-created crisis: it’s called the Dream Act.

‘s immigration plan is about one thing: white supremacy. It is about fundamentally changing the makeup of our country by removing people of color and preventing them from coming in the first place.

Democrats shut down the government over the issue of immigration for three days, demanding progress on the issue of protecting Dreamers. Trump, who announced he was ending the Obama-era DACA program in September, gave Congress until March 5 to find a legislative solution for the people who were brought to the U.S. as young children by their parents and whose legal status remains in limbo.

To end the government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to take up DACA if no deal is reached between the White House, the Senate and the House before February 8, which is when the next government funding bill runs out.

In a statement Thursday, McConnell thanked Trump for putting forth the framework.

“I am hopeful that as discussions continue in the Senate on the subject of immigration, Members on both sides of the aisle will look to this framework for guidance as they work towards an agreement,” he said.

A White House official told reporters that they would like to see their proposal, which is likely to be more conservative than anything the Senate would devise, brought up the week of February 5, just days before the funding deadline.

Trump Says He’s Open to U.S. Citizenship for DACA Illegal Aliens

President Trump told mainstream media reporters on Wednesday that he was open to breaking his immigration commitment by giving a pathway to U.S. citizenship to nearly 800,000 illegal aliens shielded from deportation by the President Obama-created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

In statements outside the White House, Trump told the Associated Press (AP) that he would be open to giving U.S. citizenship to DACA illegal aliens, saying “It’s going to happen.”

The AP reported:

President Donald Trump says he’s open to a pathway to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of young people who were brought to the country as children and are now here illegally.

Trump told reporters, “We’re going to morph into it. It’s going to happen, at some point in the future, over a period of 10 to 12 years.” [Emphasis added]

Trump was talking about the young immigrants who had been protected from deportation and given the right to work legally in the country under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

According to Bloomberg News, an anonymous administration official is already walking back Trump’s comment about citizenship for DACA illegal aliens, saying the remark does not indicate an upcoming policy proposal by the White House.

Trump on DACA recipients: “Tell em not be concerned, OK? Tell em not to worry about it. We’re going to solve the problem… They should not be concerned.”

Trump on citizenship for DACA recipients: “We’re going to morph into it. It’s going to happen, at some point in the future, over a period of 10 to 12 years.”

Trump also said he would be demanding at least $30 billion to build a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as an end to the process known as “chain migration,” where newly naturalized citizens can bring an unlimited number of foreign relatives to the U.S., and an end to the Diversity Visa Lottery program, which imports 50,000 random foreign nationals every year from countries with known terrorism issues.

On immigration bill, Pres Trump said he wants $30-billion – including $25-billion to build a border wall. In exchange, would agree to a path to citizenship for DACA “Dreamers,” during a 10-12-year period if no criminal record.

Pres Trump also said he wants family reunification/chain migration limited to husbands/wives and children. Says parents are tricky. Wants visa lotteries to undergo significant changes – or ended.

“If you don’t have a wall, you don’t have DACA,” said Pres Trump, again insisting the wall is essential to an immigration deal. He wants $25-billion in funding, but believes it won’t cost that much. “We’re talking about probably 800 miles of wall,” says the pres.

In another break of commitment, Trump said he was open to potentially extending the DACA program beyond its March 5 deadline of when Attorney General Jeff Sessions said it would officially end.

If no immigration deal by March 5th DACA deadline, he might extend the deadline. “Yeah I might do that,” but he’s not guaranteeing because he wants to give Congress incentive to act.

While the White House’s official position on a DACA deal has been that they would be open to giving legal status only to DACA-enrolled illegal aliens in exchange for the end to chain migration, elimination of the Visa Lottery, and full funding for a border wall, the administration has never been supportive of citizenship for illegal aliens.

Granting a pathway to U.S. citizenship to DACA illegal aliens would break Trump’s long-held campaign promise that no amnesty for illegal aliens would be granted until illegal immigration to the U.S. was fully ended.

In Trump’s historic 2016 immigration speech, he specifically said “There will be no amnesty.”

“For those here illegally today who are seeking legal status, they will have one route and one route only. To return home and apply for re-entry like everybody else under the rules of the new legal immigration system that I have outlined today.”

“It’s our right as a sovereign nation to choose immigrants that we think are the likeliest to thrive and flourish and love us.”

“Anyone who tells you the core issue is the needs of those living here illegally has simply spent too much time in Washington.”

Trump’s comments come just after a new Harvard-Harris poll revealed that his pro-American immigration agenda of reducing legal immigration levels to raise the wages of Americans is wildly popular with American voters, as Breitbart News reported.

For example, 85 percent of black Americans said they supported a merit-based immigration system, rather than the current flow of chain migration. Another 72 percent of Democrat, former voters for Hillary Clinton agreed that the legal immigration system should be based on skills, not family ties.

Currently, the U.S. admits more than 1.5 million legal and illegal immigrants every year, with more than 70 percent coming to the country through the process of chain migration. Mass immigration to the U.S. has had a detrimental impact on America’s working and middle class, which have seen stagnant wages for decades and continued outsourcing of blue-collar and some white-collar jobs.

The poll found that more than 80 percent of Americans support curbing legal immigration levels, a plan that Trump has endorsed to raise the wages of working and middle-class Americans and stem the current never-ending flow of cheaper, foreign competition that burdens the country’s blue-collar workers the most.

Since DACA’s inception, more than 2,100 illegal aliens on the program have been kicked off because they were found to be either gang members of convicted criminals.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.

Trump administration attempts to link terrorism cases with immigration

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

The Trump administration on Tuesday released a report attempting to link terrorism with migration, arguing that it was evidence of the need to dramatically reshape the nation’s immigration system.

The report, ordered by President Trump in an executive order last year, said that 75% of the 549 people convicted of terrorism charges since 9/11 were born outside the U.S. Administration officials called that a sign that the U.S. needs to scrap its policy of family preferences for visas, which they call “chain migration,” and a diversity visa lottery program.

But the report did not specify how many — if any — of the convicted terrorists entered the country through those means. It also did not detail how many of the convictions were related to attacks or plans in the U.S. versus overseas and how many involved people who went to fight overseas for the Islamic State or another terror group. Those details were not available, officials said.

“The focus of our immigration system should be assimilation,” a senior administration official said on Tuesday, speaking on condition that his name not be used. He said the nation should give priority to potential immigrants who speak English, who have an education and those who are “committed to supporting our values — not family members of people already here.”

“This report is likely just the tip of the iceberg,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told the Senate Judiciary Committee during testimony Tuesday.

The report, due last year, is being released in a highly charged moment in the immigration debate, as Trump and some Republicans in Congress seek tough new border and immigration measures in return for a deal protecting the 690,000 people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals  program. The official said the timing of the report was coincidental.

Latest updates

White House doctor says Trump scored perfect marks on cognitive test, needs to lose weight

President Trump registered a perfect score on a cognitive screening test as part of his physical examination taken last week, the White House physician said Tuesday, adding that Trump requested the test to rebut accusations that his mental faculties are declining.

“There’s no indication whatsoever that he has any cognitive issues,” Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the chief White House doctor, whose tenure treating presidents began with George W. Bush, told reporters during a lengthy White House briefing. “He’s very sharp. He’s very articulate when he speaks to me.”

“Absolutely, he’s fit for duty,” Jackson said.

Congress White House

Senate advances bill to continue NSA surveillance program; passage expected this week

The National Security Agency campus at Ft. Meade, Md. (Patrick Semansky / Associated Press) None
The National Security Agency campus at Ft. Meade, Md. (Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

A bill to continue the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs for five more years advanced Tuesday in the Senate, overcoming objections that it did not do enough to protect Americans’ civil liberties.

Opponents came close to filibustering the measure, which was approved by the House last week. But the Senate’s narrow 60-38 vote puts it on track for final passage this week.

Voting stretched more than an hour as senators lobbied key holdouts in dramatic fashion on the Senate floor.

A coalition of Republicans and Democrats sought to limit the program, operating under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s section 702, ever since former federal contractor Edward Snowden disclosed its reach in 2013.

Two years ago, Congress agreed to reforms requiring the government to seek warrants for bulk data collection.

But civil libertarians wanted further restrictions to prevent eavesdropping on Americans without a court-issued warrant. Others argued the surveillance system was vital for national security.

President Trump confused matters last week when he tweeted criticism of the bill before quickly reversing himself, after House Speaker Paul D. Ryan intervened, ahead of the House vote.

The bill would reauthorize the program, with some changes, through 2023.

This is the test Trump’s doctor says the president aced. How well can you do?

At a press conference Tuesday, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the chief White House doctor, stated that President Trump aced a cognitive screening testas part of his physical examination taken last week.

The test administered, Jackson noted, was the widely used Montreal Cognitive Assessment, a brief written and oral examination covering basic recall exercises, language questions, abstraction and more.

The president, according to Jackson, received a perfect score of 30.

See how well you do below:

Congress Immigration White House

Sen. Cory Booker calls Homeland Security chief ‘complicit’; Nielsen testifies she never met a ‘Dreamer’

Sen. @corybooker: “When the Commander-in-chief speaks or refuses to speak, those words just don’t dissipate like mist in the air. They fester. They become poison. The give license to bigotry and hate in our country.”

Sen. Cory Booker rebuked Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen as “complicit” Tuesday for failing to recall — or object to — President Trump’s vulgar language about immigrants from Africa and other countries.

“Why is this so important? Why is this so disturbing? Why am I frankly seething with anger?” Booker asked at the Senate Judiciary Hearing.

“We have this incredible nation where we have been taught it doesn’t matter where you’re from. … It’s about the content of your character,” he said.

“You’re under oath,” he told Nielsen. “You and others in that room that suddenly cannot remember? … Your silence and your amnesia is complicity.”

The impassioned exchange came as Nielsen testified that she had never met with any “Dreamers” — the young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, who now face deportation under Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA.

The personal stories of Dreamers’ accomplishments have captivated lawmakers. Trump last week rejected a bipartisan deal to help them during a White House meeting.

Trump ignited furor when he criticized the plan for allowing immigrants from Africa, Haiti and other “shithole” countries. Trump told the lawmakers he wanted more Europeans, specifically from Norway.

Two Republicans, Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, have given shifting accounts of the meeting, first saying they didn’t recall Trump using the word and then denying he did.

Nielsen told senators she did not hear Trump’s specific comments, but was struck by other “rough talk” in the Oval Office.

Booker, invoking Martin Luther King Jr. and other human rights leaders, described the president’s “shithole” remarks as part of a racially tinged pattern that included his support of “both sides” of the deadly neo-Nazi protest over the summer in Charlottesville, Va.

“We know what happens when people sit back and are bystanders and say nothing,” Booker said, noting the death threats he and other senators of color have received.

“When the commander in chief speaks or refuses to speak, those words don’t dissipate like mist in the air. They fester. They become poison. They give licenses to bigotry and hate in our country.”

Nielsen told the senator she shares his passion against white supremacists and insisted the department is going after those groups. “It can’t be tolerated in the United States,” she said.

Trump administration confirms it halved payment to U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees

 (EPA)
(EPA)

The Trump administration said Tuesday it had cut in half a scheduled annual payment to the United Nations relief agency that serves millions of Palestinian refugees across the Middle East.

A funding cut had been anticipated since Jan. 2, when President Trump complained on Twitter that the United States gives what he described as hundreds of millions dollars a year to the Palestinians, who do not show “respect or appreciation” in return.

After Trump’s tweet, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson put a hold on the annual U.S. payment to UNRWA, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, while the State Department launched a review.

On Tuesday, the State Department said it would pay $60 million to UNRWA but would withhold an additional $65 million pending the review. As the world’s richest country, the U.S. is the largest donor to the U.N. agency.

Trump’s tweet followed widespread condemnation of his Dec. 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and eventually to move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv. Palestinians, who consider Jerusalem the capital of a future state, said Trump’s move crippled chances for a negotiated peace deal to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The White House was especially angered on Dec. 21 when the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly voted, 128-9, to approve a nonbinding resolution that declared Trump’s decision “null and void,” despite Trump’s threats to cut funding from the world body.

According to its website, UNRWA helps provide education, healthcare and social services to more than 5 million Palestinians in parts of Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Created in 1949, it isn’t associated with the Palestinian government and doesn’t take part in peace talks with Israel.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said administration officials had considered cutting off all money to the relief agency but were convinced by neighboring Arab states that such a drastic move would be highly destabilizing.

She said the Trump administration wants to see other countries pay more to support the U.N. agency’s mission.

“This is not aimed at punishing anyone,” she said. “It has long been a concern … how UNRWA manages its money.”

DACA to remain in effect while Trump administration asks Supreme Court to overturn judge’s order

President Trump sits and Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
President Trump sits and Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

The Justice Department said Tuesday it will ask the Supreme Court to overturn a federal judge’s ruling that prevents President Trump from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which currently offers protections from deportation for about 700,000 people who came to the U.S. as children.

But the administration has not asked courts to put the ruling by U.S. District Judge William Alsup on hold while the Supreme Court considers what to do. The effect will be to allow the DACA program to continue while the litigation proceeds.

“Until further notice … the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded” by Trump, a spokesperson for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said Tuesday. “We are still accepting applications.”

Although the administration is seeking a speedy review by the high court, the justices are under no obligation to expedite the case — or even to hear the administration’s appeal. They could send the case back to a lower court for further proceedings.

At minimum, the high court would likely take several weeks to consider the case. That could buy congressional negotiators additional time to come up with a legislative solution for the so-called Dreamers, the young immigrants who came to the country illegally as children.

The Homeland Security Department announced Saturday that it would once again start processing applications for renewal of DACA permits because of Alsup’ ruling. The judge’s ruling also ordered the department not to terminate any existing permits.

The judge, who is based in San Francisco, made his ruling applicable nationwide.

“It defies both law and common sense for DACA … to somehow be mandated nationwide by a single district court in San Francisco,” said Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions.

UPDATE

11:50 a.m.: This article was was updated throughout with additional details and background.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham: Let’s end this ‘s-show’ on immigration

Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks on Capitol Hill. (Alex Brand/Associated Press)
Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks on Capitol Hill. (Alex Brand/Associated Press)

A leading Republican senator on immigration urged President Trump to abandon his harsh and profane statements about Africa and some other countries and return to an attempt to get a bipartisan deal to protect young immigrants and boost border security.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who confronted Trump at a White House meeting last Thursday after the president apparently complained of immigrants from “shithole countries,” said Trump may have gotten bad advice from his staff before the meeting.

“This has turned into an s- show and we need to get back to being a great country,” Graham said Tuesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

He said Trump needed to return to his mood and language of Jan. 9, when the president said he wanted a bipartisan deal that continued to protect from deportation about 800,000 people brought to the country illegally as children and was made with “love.”

The so-called Dreamers were allowed to apply for deferral from deportation under an Obama-era program known as DACA, but Trump last year moved to phase out the protection, kicking the sensitive issue to Congress for a solution.

Shortly before the meeting on Thursday, Trump had an agreeable conversation with Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, Graham said.

“What happened between 10 and 12?” Graham asked Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of Homeland Security, who testified to the House committee. “I don’t [know] either and I’m going to find out.”

“Tuesday we had a president I was proud to golf with and call my friend,” Graham said. “I don’t know where that guy went. I want him back.”

Graham said Congress and the White House still could come up with a deal on DACA, as long as it contained some measures on border security and changes to the legal immigration system. He said Republicans would not support a so-called clean bill on DACA, that excludes other issues.

“I’m telling my friends on the other side – DACA and nothing else is not going to happen,” he said.

Homeland Security head, in sworn testimony, says she did not hear Trump call African countries ‘shitholes’

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

The head of the Homeland Security Department denied that President Trump referred to some countries as “shitholes” during a White House meeting about immigration —  though she didn’t dispute that Trump used vulgar language.

“The conversation was very impassioned,” secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I don’t dispute that the president was using tough language. Others in the room were also using tough language.”

“I did not hear that word used, no sir,” Nielsen said, responding to a question from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). She didn’t specify what Trump did say. Nielsen is the only Cabinet member who was in the room.

Pressed about Trump’s expressed preference during the meeting for immigrants from Norway, Nielsen also said she couldn’t be sure that the country’s population is mostly white.

“Norway is a predominantly white country, isn’t it?” Leahy asked.

“I actually do not know that, sir, but I imagine that’s the case,” she said.

Reports last week said that Trump said he wanted fewer immigrants from “shithole countries” in Africa and more from places like Norway. Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) confirmed Trump’s statements after the first reports.

Pressed by Durbin on Tuesday, Nielsen said she did not “specifically remember the categorization of countries in Africa.”

“Do you remember him saying, “I want more Europeans; why can’t we have more immigrants from Norway?” he asked.

Nielsen said she remembered Trump calling immigrants from Norway hard-working.

The White House did not deny that Trump made the comment after reports on the meeting surfaced last week. Over the weekend, the president and some Republican senators have disputed it. Some White House aides have said Trump actually used the word “shithouse.”

Trump’s language has further inflamed the debate on how to address immigration and a deal on the DACA program, which provides protections from deportation.

White House

A week after California mudslides, Trump sends condolences through press secretary statement

 (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Nearly a week after horrific mudslides hit California’s Central Coast and killed at least 20 people, President Trump sent his condolences to those affected in his first public statement on the disaster.

The two-sentence statement was released by the White House press secretary on Monday.

“The President has been briefed and will continue to monitor the mudslides in California. The President and First Lady extend their deepest sympathies to the families affected, their appreciation for the first responders saving lives, and their prayers for those who remain missing.”

Trump’s belated response stood in contrast to his repeated statements and tweets of condolences and promises of aid after hurricanes slammed Texas, Louisiana and Florida last year — all states that, unlike California, backed Trump for president in 2016.

The mudslides’ toll could go higher. Four people remain missing, and authorities said Sunday their focus has gone from search and rescue to recovery. The disaster has wiped out 73 homes and damaged hundreds more.

Courtesy: Los Angeles Times

White House Caught Doctoring Transcript For Second Time

Yesterday’s televised session on immigration is being spun as evidence that President Trump isn’t senile. You might think Trump’s supporters would be touting something a little more upbeat than “not senile,” but that’s hard to do when Trump demonstrated virtually no understanding of a subject that has literally been his signature issue for the past two years. Pretty much the best you can say about Trump’s performance is that he didn’t fall asleep or start telling stories about his old days on The Apprentice.

Matt Yglesias has the right take on this. As he (and everyone else) has noted, Trump was obviously confused even about DACA, the topic that Congress has to decide right away:

The key exchange of the afternoon came when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked the president if he might like to completely abandon his administration’s stated position on the issue under discussion and, instead, adopt the Democratic position. At this point, you would expect a Republican Party politician to restate the Republican Party’s position on the issue….Trump, instead, just said he agreed with Feinstein!

The Washington Post picks up the story:

So pliant was Trump that when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), one of the most liberal members of the chamber, asked if he would support “a clean DACA bill” that protects the dreamers with no other conditions, the president sounded amenable. “Yeah, I would like to do it,” Trump said.

Trump’s apparent concession so alarmed House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) that he interjected himself, although he was careful only to gently contradict the president….McCarthy apparently was not the only one concerned by Trump’s seeming agreement with Feinstein. When the White House released its official transcript Tuesday afternoon, the president’s line — “Yeah, I would like to do it” — was missing.

A White House official said that any omission from the transcript was unintentional and that the context of the conversation was clear.

“Unintentional.” Sure it was. Just like it was last July.

This episode shows not just that the White House is dishonest, but that it’s stupid. Doctoring a transcript to remove the one line that everyone gasped at in real time is idiotic. Apparently one of the new tasks of the press in the Trump era is going to be scouring White House transcripts for errors. Unintentional though they may be, surely we’re all interested in keeping these historical records accurate. Right?

Courtesy: Mother Jones

Is a US government shutdown looming after Donald Trump’s DACA meddling?

The US Congress reaching a bipartisan deal shielding hundreds of thousands of so-called Dreamers from deportation and averting a looming government shutdown promised to be tough, but doable. Then two things happened.

USA Donald Trump im Weißen Haus in Washington (picture-alliance/abaca/A. Harrer)

Up until 48 hours ago, the basic battle lines drawn by Republicans and Democrats in Congress around the fate of DACA, an Obama-era program rescinded by the Trump administration that protects hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought to the US by their parents illegally years ago, looked something like this:

Democrats as their key goal wanted to get a quick and permanent fix for those covered by DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and were intent on using an upcoming government funding deadline as leverage to get a deal passed. Any bill, said the Democrats, aimed at keeping much of the government working beyond January 19 when current funding runs out would also have to solve the issue of those people formerly shielded by DACA.

Republicans, however, wanted to decouple those issues, pass their key goal, a clean budget bill, and deal with DACA separately. In addition, they knew they also had to finagle a way to somehow include President Donald Trump’s border wall project in the funding bill even though many Republican legislators remain deeply skeptical of or outright oppose allocating $18 billion (€15 billion) towards the president’s signature campaign promise.

Trump and the courts

While these general guidelines foreshadowed difficult negotiations — lawmakers had already punted on the issue once before the holiday break in December — it ultimately looked doable.

But then two things happened that seem to be occurring often in Trump-era Washington. The president inserted himself fully into the debate and the courts intervened.

Read moreSteve Bannon’s demise is not the end of Trumpism

First, Trump, in an unusual move, allowed the media to be present for a good part of the talks he had scheduled with Congressional Republicans and Democrats in the White House about DACA and the budget.

The outcome of the meeting lead by the president, who considers himself a savvy negotiator, was best summed up by Richard Durbin, a Democratic senator from Illinois who attended the gathering: “My head is spinning with all the things that were said by the president and others in that room in the course of an hour-and-a-half.”

USA | Tausende Menschen protestieren in LA gegen Trumps DACA-Pläne (Getty Images/AFP/R. Beck)President Trump’s decision to rescind DACA has been met with protests.

Complicating circumstances

Asked about Trump’s input in the ongoing negotiations, Norman Ornstein, a Congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said that “he always complicates things because he has no clue what the policies are or even what he supports on his own.”

Ornstein was referring to a decision made by the president that astonished his fellow Republicans: inserting comprehensive immigration reform, an elusive legislative goal that his two predecessors could not get through Congress, into the debate.

Read moreUS upends policy protecting 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants

After Trump appeared to agree to the suggestion by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein to first pass a clean DACA vote and then focus on comprehensive immigration, he had to be reminded and corrected by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy that such a move would not include funds for his border wall.

Where exactly Trump stands on DACA and the budget, and whether he is really serious about tackling comprehensive immigration reform, is even less clear after the meeting than before. The only thing that seems certain is that the president wants to be able to say that the wall he promised will be built, the government is funded and DACA is resolved — somehow.

Ready to sign

“What’s clear is, that just about anything [House Speaker] Paul Ryan, [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell and the Democrats agree to Trump will sign,” said AEI’s Ornstein. “And the negotiations are going to be more with them than with Trump himself. But he can help to mess up those negotiations.”

The other thing complicating matters further was a court ruling temporarily halting Trump’s decision to end DACA. In what can be viewed as a legal slap in the face for the president, the judge in his ruling referenced a September tweet by Trump stating that he did want to deport the people impacted by his move to end DACA.

Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!…..

“We seem to be in the unusual position wherein the ultimate authority over the agency, the Chief Executive, publicly favors the very program the agency has ended,” wrote the judge.

While this week’s ruling is certainly not the last legal word on this matter and, as Trump said, will be challenged in courts, it further complicates the political wrangling over DACA, which expires in early March.

USA San Diego Grenze Mexiko Mauerbau Prototypen (Reuters/J. Duenes)Prototypes of a border wall were built in California last year.

Kicking the can down the road?

But what does this mean for the ongoing negotiations? Will Congress manage to hammer out a DACA deal? Should Trump’s call for comprehensive immigration reform be taken seriously? And can a government shutdown be averted?

Congressional expert Ornstein said it was 50-50 whether the government will shutdown because lawmakers can’t agree on a budget, but declined to try to give any other predictions.

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“I think we are really in the territory where making a prediction is not going to get us very far,” he said.

Steve Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law at Cornell University, who co-wrote the leading 21-volume treatise on the issue, predicted that Congress will do what it did a few weeks ago — kick the can down the road.

“I don’t think President Trump and the US Congress will be able to finalize the government funding and immigration issues by January 19,” he wrote in an email. “They are too complicated to resolve in just 10 days. Instead, I predict that Congress will simply extend current government funding levels without any changes for a few more weeks to give themselves more time to negotiate everything.  The real deadline for DACA is March 5, not this month.”

COURTESY: DW

Trump’s immigration plan revealed: Green card overhaul, no sanctuary cities, 10k more ICE officers

Trump’s immigration plan revealed: Green card overhaul, no sanctuary cities, 10k more ICE officers
The White House has unveiled a set of immigration policies aimed at toughening up the existing laws and closing legal loopholes. The list envisions transforming the Green Card system, beefing up border security and facilitating deportations.

The measures on the list released by the White House late Sunday are necessary to compensate for damages that would be inflicted by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, if it is to stay intact, according to White House legislative affairs director Marc Short.

“These priorities are essential to mitigate the legal and economic consequences of any grants or status to DACA recipients,” Short said.

The plan calls for funds for the construction of the wall along the border with Mexico and would allow the deportation of unaccompanied children arriving illegally in the US, impose more rigorous checks on asylum applicants, make it harder for gang members to sneak into the US and ensure swift removal of all immigration offenders, with a particular focus on visa overstayers. The latter are considered the main source of illegal immigrants in the US, according to the report by Center for Migration Studies.

The legislation, if passed, would also see a crackdown on sanctuary cities, which would be banned from receiving any grants provided the US Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.

The number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers will rise by 10,000, in addition to the current 20,000, and an extra 300 federal prosecutors will be hired to tackle the immigration challenge, according to the document, which calls the existing number of staffers “grossly inadequate.”

‘Anathema to Dreamers’

The plan did not sit well with the Democrats, who slammed it for being extremely severe on immigrants and not allowing any room for compromise.

“The administration can’t be serious about compromise or helping the Dreamers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said in a joint statement, calling the demands “far beyond what is reasonable.”

The term “Dreamers” refers to immigrants who were brought to the US illegally as children.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) decried the newly-unveiled immigration principles as “draconian and anti-immigrant.”

Last month, Trump announced his intent to rescind DACA by March 2018, while giving lawmakers six months to pass a law that would regulate the status of its recipients – up to 800,000 people who were granted protection from deportation by President Barack Obama’s executive action in 2012.

Trump’s decision was met with protests, with several Democratic-led states threatening to sue the president.

Courtesy: RT

Trump Supports Plan to Cut Legal Immigration by Half

Photo

President Trump just before an announcement about immigration legislation with Senator Tom Cotton, second from right, and Senator David Perdue, far right, at the White House on Wednesday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump embraced a proposal on Wednesday to slash legal immigration to the United States in half within a decade by sharply curtailing the ability of American citizens and legal residents to bring family members into the country.

The plan would enact the most far-reaching changes to the system of legal immigration in decades and represents the president’s latest effort to stem the flow of newcomers to the United States. Since taking office, he has barred many visitors from select Muslim-majority countries, limited the influx of refugees, increased immigration arrests and pressed to build a wall along the southern border.

In asking Congress to curb legal immigration, Mr. Trump intensified a debate about national identity, economic growth, worker fairness and American values that animated his campaign last year. Critics said the proposal would undercut the fundamental vision of the United States as a haven for the poor and huddled masses, while the president and his allies said the country had taken in too many low-skilled immigrants for too long to the detriment of American workers.

“This legislation will not only restore our competitive edge in the 21st century, but it will restore the sacred bonds of trust between America and its citizens,” Mr. Trump said at a White House event alongside two Republican senators sponsoring the bill. “This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and that puts America first.”

In throwing his weight behind a bill, Mr. Trump added one more long-odds priority to a legislative agenda already packed with them in the wake of the defeat of legislation to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care program. The president has already vowed to overhaul the tax code and rebuild the nation’s roads, airports and other infrastructure.

Continue reading the main story

But by endorsing legal immigration cuts, a move he has long supported, Mr. Trump returned to a theme that has defined his short political career and excites his conservative base at a time when his poll numbers continue to sink. Just 33 percent of Americans approved of his performance in the latest Quinnipiac University survey, the lowest rating of his presidency, and down from 40 percent a month ago.

Democrats and some Republicans quickly criticized the move. “Instead of catching criminals, Trump wants to tear apart communities and punish immigrant families that are making valuable contributions to our economy,” said Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “That’s not what America stands for.”

The bill, sponsored by Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, would institute a merit-based system to determine who is admitted to the country and granted legal residency green cards, favoring applicants based on skills, education and language ability rather than relations with people already here. The proposal revives an idea included in broader immigration legislation supported by President George W. Bush that died in 2007.

More than one million people are granted legal residency each year, and the proposal would reduce that by 41 percent in its first year and 50 percent by its 10th year, according to projections cited by its sponsors. The reductions would come largely from those brought in through family connections. The number of immigrants granted legal residency on the basis of job skills, about 140,000, would remain roughly the same.

Under the current system, most legal immigrants are admitted to the United States based on family ties. American citizens can sponsor spouses, parents and minor children for an unrestricted number of visas, while siblings and adult children are given preferences for a limited number of visas available to them. Legal permanent residents holding green cards can also sponsor spouses and children.

In 2014, 64 percent of immigrants admitted with legal residency were immediate relatives of American citizens or sponsored by family members. Just 15 percent entered through employment-based preferences, according to the Migration Policy Institute, an independent research organization. But that does not mean that those who came in on family ties were necessarily low skilled or uneducated.

The legislation would award points based on education, ability to speak English, high-paying job offers, age, record of achievement and entrepreneurial initiative. But while it would still allow spouses and minor children of Americans and legal residents to come in, it would eliminate preferences for other relatives, like siblings and adult children. The bill would create a renewable temporary visa for older-adult parents who come for caretaking purposes.

Video

Stephen Miller Jousts With Reporters Over Immigration

Exchanges between the senior White House adviser and Glenn Thrush of The New York Times and Jim Acosta of CNN became combative at a news briefing on Wednesday.

By THE NEW YORK TIMES on Publish DateAugust 2, 2017. Photo by Doug Mills/The New York Times. Watch in Times Video »

The legislation would limit refugees offered permanent residency to 50,000 a year and eliminate a diversity visa lottery that the sponsors said does not promote diversity. The senators said their bill was meant to emulate systems in Canada and Australia.

The projections cited by the sponsors said legal immigration would decrease to 637,960 after a year and to 539,958 after a decade.

“Our current system does not work,” Mr. Perdue said. “It keeps America from being competitive and it does not meet the needs of our economy today.”

Mr. Cotton said low-skilled immigrants pushed down wages for those who worked with their hands. “For some people, they may think that that’s a symbol of America’s virtue and generosity,” he said. “I think it’s a symbol that we’re not committed to working-class Americans, and we need to change that.”

But Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, noted that agriculture and tourism were his state’s top two industries. “If this proposal were to become law, it would be devastating to our state’s economy, which relies on this immigrant work force,” he said. “Hotels, restaurants, golf courses and farmers,” he added, “will tell you this proposal to cut legal immigration in half would put their business in peril.”

Cutting legal immigration would make it harder for Mr. Trump to reach the stronger economic growth that he has promised. Bringing in more workers, especially during a time of low unemployment, increases the size of an economy. Critics said the plan would result in labor shortages, especially in lower-wage jobs that many Americans do not want.

The National Immigration Forum, an advocacy group, said the country was already facing a work force gap of 7.5 million jobs by 2020. “Cutting legal immigration for the sake of cutting immigration would cause irreparable harm to the American worker and their family,” said Ali Noorani, the group’s executive director.

Surveys show most Americans believe legal immigration benefits the country. In a Gallup poll in January, 41 percent of Americans were satisfied with the overall level of immigration, 11 percentage points higher than the year before and the highest since the question was first asked in 2001. Still, 53 percent of Americans remained dissatisfied.

The plan endorsed by Mr. Trump generated a fiery exchange at the White House briefing when Stephen Miller, the president’s policy adviser and a longtime advocate of immigration limits, defended the proposal. Pressed for statistics to back up claims that immigration was costing Americans jobs, he cited several studies that have been debated by experts.

“But let’s also use common sense here, folks,” Mr. Miller said. “At the end of the day, why do special interests want to bring in more low-skill workers?”

He rejected the argument that immigration policy should also be based on compassion. “Maybe it’s time we had compassion for American workers,” he said.

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When a reporter read him some of the words from the Statue of Liberty — “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” — Mr. Miller dismissed them. “The poem that you’re referring to was added later,” he said. “It’s not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty.”

He noted that in 1970, the United States allowed in only a third as many legal immigrants as it now does: “Was that violating or not violating the Statue of Liberty law of the land?”

Correction: August 2, 2017 
An earlier version of this article misstated part of President Trump’s effort to stem the flow of immigrants into the United States. He has increased immigration arrests, not deportations.

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