Trump approves plan for record low number of refugee admissions

President Trump has approved a plan to reduce the cap for refugee admissions to the country for fiscal 2020 to 18,000, the lowest level on record since the program began more than three decades ago. 

In a statement announcing the move this weekend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “the core of the Trump Administration’s foreign policy is a commitment to make decisions based on reality, not wishes, and to drive optimal outcomes based on concrete facts.” 

Pompeo went on to say that “this year’s determination on refugee admissions does just that, even as we sustain our longstanding commitment to help vulnerable populations and our leadership as the world’s most generous nation.” 

The plan, which was announced in late September, has drawn pushback from Democratic lawmakers, including governors who have said they will continue to welcome refugees to their states despite the steep reduction.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) said last month that her state is a “sanctuary state” and that Oregon will continue to “stand with refugees” in light of the executive order issued by the Trump administration, which allows states to turn away refugees. 

“These are people who cannot return home because they fear for their lives and their families. And to make matters worse, the Trump administration wants to slash the number of refugees our country will welcome this coming year to 18,000, the lowest ever on record,” she said then.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) said in a letter to Trump last month that his state will continue to accept refugees fleeing violence and added that he was “dismayed” by the administration’s plans to drastically reduce the refugee cap to 18,000 — a significant jump from former President Obama’s proposed cap of 116,000 refugees in 2016.

“To reject refugees outright emboldens the message of those who seek to inspire hatred by saying that we, as Americans, do not have compassion or care for specific groups of people in the world facing persecution or worse,” Wolf wrote in the letter.

According to The New York Times, under the new move by the Trump administration, only 5,000 people who wish to flee their home countries for fear of persecution due to their religion will be allowed admission into the U.S. as part of the refugee program.

Fewer than 2,000 Central Americans will reportedly be allowed admission under the program going forward as well as 4,000 Iraqis who aided the United States military during the Iraq War.

The new cap for Iraqi refugees is reportedly less than half of the 9,829 who were admitted under the Obama administration in fiscal 2014. Under the Trump administration during fiscal 2019, just 153 Iraqi refugees whose applications were given high priority were admitted into the country. 

[The Hill]

Trump compares impeachment process to ‘a lynching’

President Donald Trump compared the impeachment process to “a lynching” on Twitter Tuesday morning.

A check of his previous tweets and public statements showed that this appeared to be the first time he has used the term as president.

“So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights,” he wrote. “All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here – a lynching. But we will WIN!”

Criticism of the president’s tweet was swift – from Democrats and some Republicans.

GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said the word referred to a “painful scourge in our history” and called on Trump to retract his statement.

“We can all disagree on the process, and argue merits. But never should we use terms like “lynching” here. The painful scourge in our history has no comparison to politics, and @realDonaldTrump should retract this immediately. May God help us to return to a better way,” Kinzinger tweeted.

A top Democrat, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said on CNN, “”That is one word no president ought to apply to himself. You know, I’ve studied presidential history quite a bit, and I don’t know if we’ve ever seen anything quite like this.”

Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, an African American Democratic congressman, in a reference to the historical connotations of the word, said, “Do you know how many people who look like me have been lynched, since the inception of this country, by people who look like you.”

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Rush tweeted.

But GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters that he agrees with the president calling the impeachment probe a “lynching.”

“This is a lynching in every sense,” Graham said, defending the president. “This is un-American.”

Graham said the president’s use of the word in a tweet this morning is “pretty well accurate” in describing what Democrats in Congress are doing to the president by launching an impeachment probe.

“This is a sham, this a joke,” Graham said of the probe.

“I think lynching can be seen as somebody taking the law into their own hands and out to get somebody for no good reason,” Graham said.

“What does lynching mean? When a mob grabs you, they don’t give you a chance to defend yourself. They don’t tell you what happened to you. They just destroy you,” Graham went on.

“That is exactly what is going on in the U.S. House of Representatives right now,” Graham said.

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only African American Republican in the Senate, also defended the president — if not his use of the word “lynching.”

“There’s no question that the impeachment process is the closest thing of a political death row trial, so I get his absolute rejection of the process,” Scott said.

“I wouldn’t use the word lynching,” Scott added.

Asked whether he disagreed with those who see the word as racially charged, Scott responded, “Yeah, I do actually disagree. I think the fact of the matter is that you’re talking about something that’s akin to a death row trial from a political perspective, so we should keep our focus on the fact that this is something that is something that has been done behind closed doors,” Scott said.

Trump’s tweet came amid a series of tweets apparently quoting programming on “Fox & Friends,” which included accounts about polling on impeachment and about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

While he has previously referred to both the impeachment inquiry and Mueller probe as a “coup,” Tuesday’s comments appear to be the first time Trump has publicly used the word “lynching” to describe the investigations into his potential misconduct in office.

Trump’s allies, however, have used variations of the the word in such a context.

In September, Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz referred to Democratic outcry about Trump’s conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky — which sparked the impeachment inquiry — as a “lynch mob.”

On the campaign trail, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary and 2020 presidential candidate Julian Castro said the president’s use of the word was “beyond shameful.”

“It’s beyond shameful to use the word ‘lynching’ to describe being held accountable for your actions,” Castro tweeted.

Sen. Kamala Harris, another 2020 presidential candidate, called Trump’s tweet “disgraceful.”

“Lynching is a reprehensible stain on this nation’s history, as is this President. We’ll never erase the pain and trauma of lynching, and to invoke that torture to whitewash your own corruption is disgraceful,” Harris said in a tweet of her own.

George Conway, lawyer and husband to White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway and a frequent Trump critic, called him “deranged.”

The president’s reference to “lynching” comes months after the Senate passed a bill that would make lynching a federal hate crime. The bill was introduced by Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker — both now presidential hopefuls — and Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.

The Justice for Victims of Lynching Act referred to lynching as having “succeeded slavery as the ultimate expression of racism in the United States following Reconstruction.”

“Lynching is not a relic of a painful past — it is a present and pernicious evil that we still have yet to confront,” Booker said in a statement in February.

[ABC News]

Trump discourages black college students from becoming astronauts in bizarre anti-science rant

President Donald Trump went off-script and attacked astronauts as a career choice at an event for Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs).

The president made the anti-science rant while congratulating his administrations work with HBCUs.

“To give just a few examples, NASA is expanding outreach to HBCUs who want to become scientists, engineers and even astronauts,” Trump said.

“I don’t know about the astronaut,” he added, breaking from prepared remarks. “I don’t want to be an astronaut.”

Trump then polled the audience: “Does anybody want to be an astronaut? I see one. There’s one brave person.”

[Raw Story]

Media

Trump dismisses idea of allowing Bahamians into U.S. after Hurricane Dorian

President Donald Trump on Monday downplayed the idea of allowing Bahamians fleeing the destruction of Hurricane Dorian into the United States on humanitarian grounds, hours after his acting Customs and Border Protection chief said it was worth considering.

“We have to be very careful. Everybody needs totally proper documentation because the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas that weren’t supposed to be there,” Trump said on the White House South Lawn before departing for a campaign rally in North Carolina, where he also planned to survey Dorian damage.

“I don’t want to allow people that weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States, including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers.”

Earlier Monday, acting Customs and Border Protection chief Mark Morgan said during a press briefing that while there has not been any formal grant of temporary protected status, or TPS, for Bahamians affected by Dorian, it was not something he had ruled out. TPS provides legal status to migrants from countries affected by war or natural disaster and allows them to live and work in the U.S. for a set period of time.

Morgan said he had yet to discuss it with Trump but said, “I think it would be appropriate to have that circumstance. History shows we’ve done that before.” He added that if it’s a “lengthy time” before residents of the Bahamas can get back on their feet, he expected the discussion to happen.

Instead of allowing Bahamians into this country — which Trump said is “also recovering from the hurricane” — Trump suggested those struggling in devastated areas of the Bahamas could go to the “large sections” of their country that were not hit.

The conflicting stances came a day after more than 100 Bahamians were forced off a ferry boat before it could reach Florida, according to two U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.

Those removed from the boat were supposed to be taken to the Bahamas capital of Nassau first to get visas, a process that authorities in the United States have been coordinating with the Bahamas government on to ensure is done correctly, Customs and Border Protection officials said in a statement on Monday.

The ferry boat operator had not coordinated the evacuation with U.S. authorities first, the officials said.

Customs and Border Protection said in a statement on Monday that it is “supporting the humanitarian mission with interagency partners in the Bahamas” following Dorian, one of the strongest Atlantic storms ever recorded.

“CBP continues to process the arrivals of passengers evacuating from the Bahamas according to established policy and procedures — as demonstrated by the nearly 1,500 Hurricane Dorian survivors who arrived at the Port of Palm Beach, Fla., aboard a cruise ship on Saturday and were processed without incident,” the agency said.

The agency added it was “notified of a vessel preparing to embark an unknown number of passengers in Freeport and requested that the operator of the vessel coordinate with U.S. and Bahamian government officials in Nassau before departing The Bahamas.” The agency said that it has already processed nearly 1,500 storm survivors at the Port of Palm Beach, Fla., aboard a cruise ship on Saturday.

Video of the evacuees being ordered off the boat was first shared by Miami’s WSVN reporter Brian Entin late Sunday.

Anyone arriving in the U.S. from another country needs to first meet with a Customs and Border Protection officer at official ports of entry and must have valid identity and travel documents, the agency’s statement said.

Dorian has killed at least 44 people in the Bahamas, according to the country’s health minister. The storm hit the islands as a Category 5 last Sunday and Monday, leaving tens of thousands of residents homeless. It then slammed North Carolina’s Outer Banks Islands before pounding Canada’s Atlantic Coast.

[NBC News]

White Supremacists Responsible for All Race-Based Domestic Terrorism Incidents in 2018 – DOJ Blocked Report

The Trump administration has known since at least April that alleged white supremacists were responsible for every single act of race-based domestic terrorism in the U.S. in 2018, yet not only took no action to combat the growing right wing violent extremism, but actually substantially reduced or even eliminated funding and programsthat combat white supremacist extremism, violence, and terrorism – and then blocked the data from reaching the hands of Congress.

“Domestic Terrorism in 2018,” a document (embedded below) prepared by the State of New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security Preparedness, “shows 25 of the 46 individuals allegedly involved in 32 different domestic terrorism incidents were identified as white supremacists,” Yahoo News’ Jana Winter and Hunter Walker report.

That document finds there were “32 domestic terrorist attacks, disrupted plots, threats of violence, and weapons stockpiling by individuals with a radical political or social agenda who lack direction or influence from foreign terrorist organizations in 2018.”

The report was “circulated” throughout the U.S. Dept. of Justice “and around the country in April just as members of the Senate pushed the DOJ to provide them with precise information about the number of white supremacists involved in domestic terrorism.”

The Justice Department, under President Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General Bill Barr, refused to hand over the data or the document to Congress.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in January of 2019 had already compiled a report, announcing that, “Right-Wing Extremism Linked to Every 2018 Extremist Murder in the U.S., ADL Finds.”

ADL reported that “Right-wing extremists were linked to at least 50 extremist-related murders in the United States in 2018, making them responsible for more deaths than in any year since 1995, according to new data from the ADL.”

1995 was the year domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma City federal building, slaughtering 168 people and injuring more than 680 others.

“The tally represents a 35 percent increase from the 37 extremist-related murders in 2017,” ADL reported, “making 2018 the fourth-deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970. Last year saw the highest percentage of right-wing extremist-related killings since 2012, the last year when all documented killings were by right-wing extremists.”

Why the Dept. of Justice and the White House blocked the data from reaching Congress is now yet another investigation Congress should take up.

Here’s the document the DOJ refused to hand over to Members of the House and Senate:

[New Civil Rights Movement]

Trump: ‘I’d Love to See Kaepernick Back in the NFL But Only if He is Good Enough’

President Donald Trump said he’d “love to see” former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick back in the league, “but only if he is good enough.”

Trump made Kaepernick a target of his ire during his 2016 election campaign, frequently trashing the ex-San Francisco 49er for kneeling during the National Anthem. Kaepernick was protesting racial injustice in America

“I think if he was good enough, I know the owners, I know Bob Kraft, I know so many of the owners. If he’s good enough they’d sign him. So if he’s good enough, I know these people. They would sign him in a heartbeat. They will do anything they can to win games,” Trump told reporters before leaving for a vacation Friday.

“Frankly, I’d love to see Kaepernick come in if he’s good enough. But I don’t want to see him come in because somebody thinks of it’s a good PR move. If he’s good enough, he will be in,” Trump said.

Earlier this year, Kaepernick settled a collusion lawsuit with the NFL, which is subject to a confidentiality agreement.

Kaepernick alleged that NFL owners conspired to keep him off the field after the end of his 2016 contract due to his activism.

Earlier this week, Kaepernick posted a work-out video indicating he was still interested in getting back to playing with an NFL team.

[Mediaite]

Trump responds to reports of Cummings’s Baltimore home being robbed: ‘Too bad!’

President Trump responded early Friday to reports that Rep. Elijah Cummings’s (D-Md.) Baltimore home was broken into, tweeting that the reported incident was “really bad news” and “too bad!”

“Really bad news! The Baltimore house of Elijah Cummings was robbed. Too bad!” Trump tweeted.

Trump’s early morning remark came just days after he sent more than a dozen tweets criticizing the House Oversight and Reform Committee chairman, accusing Cummings of being a “brutal bully” and saying his district, which includes parts of West Baltimore, was “rat and rodent infested” and a “very dangerous & filthy place” where “no human being would want to live.”

His attack on the longtime Democratic lawmaker was seen as the latest in a line of statements aimed at minority members of Congress, which some Democrats have denounced as racist.

Trump has insisted on multiple occasions that he is the “least racist person anywhere in the world.” 

Cummings has spoken out against Trump repeatedly on various issues surrounding his administration and chairs a committee that has pursued aggressive investigations into the Trump administration.

The burglary, which police said occurred early Saturday morning, reportedly happened just hours before the president’s initial tweet about Cummings.

“At this time, it is unknown if any property was taken from the location,” a spokesman for Baltimore police told news outlets on Thursday.

[The Hill]

Trump Claims He’s ‘Least Racist Person’ While Calling Don Lemon ‘Dumbest Man’ On TV

President Donald Trump lambasted CNN’s Don Lemon as “dumb” and “stupid” after the Democratic debate moderator asked questions about the president’s “bigotry” on Tuesday.

Trump called Lemon, who is black, “the dumbest man on television” on Twitter Wednesday, an insult he has used against the CNN anchor in the past.

The president also insisted he is “the least racist person in the world,” appearing to quote himself. In the last month, he has unleashed racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen of color, as well as Rep. Elijah Cummings and the predominantly black city of Baltimore.

Lemon asked a series of questions regarding the current administration and race during Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate on CNN.

He asked former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and later former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, about Trump’s race baiting: “President Trump is pursuing a reelection strategy based in part, on racial division. How do you convince primary voters that you’d be the best nominee to take on President Trump and heal the racial divide in America?”

O’Rourke responded that we should “call his racism out for what it is, and also talk about its consequences.”

“It doesn’t just offend our sensibilities to hear him say ‘send her back,’ about a member of Congress, because she’s a woman color, because she’s a Muslim-American, doesn’t just offend our sensibilities when he calls Mexican immigrants ‘rapists and criminals,’ or seeks to ban all Muslims from the shores of a country that’s comprised of people from the world over, from every tradition of faith,” said the Texan.

Lemon also asked Sen. Amy Klobuchar what she’d “say to those Trump voters who prioritize the economy over the president’s bigotry?”

Klobuchar responded that “there are people that voted for Donald Trump before that aren’t racist; they just wanted a better shake in the economy. And so I would appeal to them,” before adding: “I don’t think anyone can justify what this president is doing.”

Trump’s attack on Lemon echoed comments from right-wing commentators, including Fox News’ Howard Kurtz and Laura Ingraham, who questioned why Lemon would say Trump “traffics in racial division.”

O’Rourke tweeted Wednesday that “Donald Trump is a racist,” alongside a video of his response to Lemon’s question.

[Huffington Post]

Trump grows furious when reporter points out his dismal approval numbers from black Americans

President Donald Trump on Tuesday grew visibly angry after a reporter informed him that a recent poll showed that the vast majority of black Americans believe he is a racist.

While talking with reporters on the White House lawn, one reporter asked the president why 80 percent of black voters in a Quinnipiac poll said that he was racist. The same poll also showed that 89 percent of black voters said they would “definitely” not vote for Trump in 2020.

The president responded by blaming the reporter.

“You know why? Because the fake news doesn’t report it properly,” Trump said. “People like you! Fake news does not report it properly! If the news reported it properly, the right way, like instead of a statement like you just made, if the news reported it properly for all of the things I’ve done for African-Americans… I think I’d do very well with the African Americans!”

[Raw Story]

Media

Trump keeps up fight with black community by launching feud with Al Sharpton

President Donald Trump launched a feud with the Rev. Al Sharpton on Monday, escalating a series of attacks on prominent black leaders and minority progressives.Trump has recently called out minority lawmakers and leaders in an effort to define the Democratic Party and strengthen his base ahead of the 2020 presidential election. His morning tirade against Sharpton, a longtime African-American activist, come after a weekend in which the President repeatedly assailed Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, who is black, and the city of Baltimore, parts of which lie in Cummings’ district. Later Monday, Sharpton is set to hold a press conference in Baltimore with former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a Republican, “to address Trump’s remarks & bi-partisan outrage in the black community.”In his tweets on Monday, Trump called Sharpton a “con man, a troublemaker” who “Hates Whites & Cops!” He also claimed that during the 2016 election, Sharpton visited him at Trump Tower “to apologize for the way he was talking about me.”

In response, Sharpton tweeted a photo of Trump speaking to him, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the late James Brown, writing, “Trump at (National Action Network) Convention 2006 telling James Brown and Jesse Jackson why he respects my work. Different tune now.” Sharpton did not address Trump’s specific claims in Monday’s tweets.

Trump ignited a racial controversy earlier this month when he repeatedly used racist language to attack four minority Democratic lawmakers. Trump has denied accusations of racism, but he hasn’t apologized for his language. On Saturday, Trump lashed out at Cummings, the House Oversight chairman who recently lambasted conditions at the border, suggesting that conditions in Cummings’ district, which is majority black and includes parts of Baltimore, are “FAR WORSE and more dangerous” than those at the US-Mexico border and called it a “very dangerous & filthy place.”

In response, Cummings tweeted that “Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors. It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.”

[CNN]

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