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

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

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

‘Deeply disappointed’

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

‘A so-called Human Rights Council’

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

[CNN]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Slate]

Media

 

US launches bid to find citizenship cheaters

The U.S. government agency that oversees immigration applications is launching an office that will focus on identifying Americans who are suspected of cheating to get their citizenship and seek to strip them of it.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna told The Associated Press in an interview that his agency is hiring several dozen lawyers and immigration officers to review cases of immigrants who were ordered deported and are suspected of using fake identities to later get green cards and citizenship through naturalization.

Cissna said the cases would be referred to the Department of Justice, whose attorneys could then seek to remove the immigrants’ citizenship in civil court proceedings. In some cases, government attorneys could bring criminal charges related to fraud.

Until now, the agency has pursued cases as they arose but not through a coordinated effort, Cissna said. He said he hopes the agency’s new office in Los Angeles will be running by next year but added that investigating and referring cases for prosecution will likely take longer.

“We finally have a process in place to get to the bottom of all these bad cases and start denaturalizing people who should not have been naturalized in the first place,” Cissna said. “What we’re looking at, when you boil it all down, is potentially a few thousand cases.”

He declined to say how much the effort would cost but said it would be covered by the agency’s existing budget, which is funded by immigration application fees.

The push comes as the Trump administration has been cracking down on illegal immigration and taking steps to reduce legal immigration to the U.S.

Immigrants who become U.S. citizens can vote, serve on juries and obtain security clearance. Denaturalization — the process of removing that citizenship — is very rare.

The U.S. government began looking at potentially fraudulent naturalization cases a decade ago when a border officer detected about 200 people had used different identities to get green cards and citizenship after they were previously issued deportation orders.

In September 2016, an internal watchdog reported that 315,000 old fingerprint records for immigrants who had been deported or had criminal convictions had not been uploaded to a Department of Homeland Security database that is used to check immigrants’ identities. The same report found more than 800 immigrants had been ordered deported under one identity but became U.S. citizens under another.

Since then, the government has been uploading these older fingerprint records dating back to the 1990s and investigators have been evaluating cases for denaturalization.

Earlier this year, a judge revoked the citizenship of an Indian-born New Jersey man named Baljinder Singh after federal authorities accused him of using an alias to avoid deportation.

Authorities said Singh used a different name when he arrived in the United States in 1991. He was ordered deported the next year and a month later applied for asylum using the name Baljinder Singh before marrying an American, getting a green card and naturalizing.

Authorities said Singh did not mention his earlier deportation order when he applied for citizenship.

For many years, most U.S. efforts to strip immigrants of their citizenship focused largely on suspected war criminals who lied on their immigration paperwork, most notably former Nazis.

Toward the end of the Obama administration, officials began reviewing cases stemming from the fingerprints probe but prioritized those of naturalized citizens who had obtained security clearances, for example, to work at the Transportation Security Administration, said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute’s office at New York University law school.

The Trump administration has made these investigations a bigger priority, he said. He said he expects cases will focus on deliberate fraud but some naturalized Americans may feel uneasy with the change.

“It is clearly true that we have entered a new chapter when a much larger number of people could feel vulnerable that their naturalization could be reopened,” Chishti said.

Since 1990, the Department of Justice has filed 305 civil denaturalization cases, according to statistics obtained by an immigration attorney in Kansas who has defended immigrants in these cases.

The attorney, Matthew Hoppock, agrees that deportees who lied to get citizenship should face consequences but worries other immigrants who might have made mistakes on their paperwork could get targeted and might not have the money to fight back in court.

Cissna said there are valid reasons why immigrants might be listed under multiple names, noting many Latin American immigrants have more than one surname. He said the U.S. government is not interested in that kind of minor discrepancy but wants to target people who deliberately changed their identities to dupe officials into granting immigration benefits.

“The people who are going to be targeted by this — they know full well who they are because they were ordered removed under a different identity and they intentionally lied about it when they applied for citizenship later on,” Cissna said. “It may be some time before we get to their case, but we’ll get to them.”

[Associated Press]

Trump Declares His Supporters the ‘Smartest, Strongest, Most Hard Working’ in America’s History

President Donald Trump just declared his supporters the “smartest” in the history of the country.

Writing on Twitter early Saturday, Trump said this: “My supporters are the smartest, strongest, most hard working and most loyal that we have seen in our countries history. It is a beautiful thing to watch as we win elections and gather support from all over the country. As we get stronger, so does our country. Best numbers ever!”

[Mediaite]

Trump says he ‘hates’ family separations at border

President Donald Trump on Friday condemned the practice of separating children from their parents at the border and reiterated an incorrect assertion that the Democrats are to blame for the practice.

“I hate the children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law,” Trump said to a group of reporters on the White House lawn in an impromptu appearance on “Fox and Friends“ Friday morning.

The “zero tolerance” approach to immigration that the Trump administration adopted resulted in the controversial policy of border agents separating families. But Trump insisted that the ball is in the Democrats’ court.

“The Democrats gave us the laws. Now, I want the laws to be beautiful, humane, but strong. I don’t want bad people coming in,” Trump said. “We can solve that problem in one meeting. Tell the Democrats and your friends to call me.”

House Republicans on Thursday released a bill intended to keep migrant children with their families if they are detained. Immigration-rights advocates, however, have criticized the proposal for “prolonging detention and hastening deportation” because it allows children to be held in detention centers with their parents.

Thursday night, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also pushed forward the administration’s message that Democrats are responsible for the separation of families in a tense exchange with White House reporters.

“Illegal alien families is the product of the same legal loopholes that Democrats refuse to close. And these laws are the same that have been on the books for over a decade,” she said.

[Politico]

Trump Shocks Leaders With Trudeau Insult to Upend G-7 Summit

President Donald Trump told U.S. officials not to endorse the Group of Seven’s final communique and accused Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of being dishonest, escalating a trade spat that had simmered throughout the two-day meeting.

Trump, who is on a plane to Singapore, unleashed two Twitter posts about two hours after Trudeau spoke, saying the U.S. would look at tariffs on automobiles that he said were “flooding the U.S. market.”

His comments threaten to undermine a grouping that has long acted as a defender of the global system of trade rules, and cause fresh friction with his northern neighbor as tensions percolate over efforts to redraw the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!,” Trump said on his Twitter account on Saturday evening.

The reference to cars is not new. Trump last month directed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to initiate a national-security investigation into imports of cars, trucks and vehicle parts that could possibly lead to tariffs. Canada would be among the biggest losers from such a move as the second-largest supplier of foreign vehicles to the U.S.

The investigation into cars is seen by some as a way for the U.S. to gain leverage in the talks to revamp Nafta, including Mexico, which is the largest source of U.S. auto imports.

The investigation into cars is seen by some as a way for the U.S. to gain leverage in the talks to revamp Nafta, including Mexico, which is the largest source of U.S. auto imports.

Trump’s comments on Saturday came shortly after Trudeau, who was hosting the G-7 meeting in Canada, had projected an image of cooperation. At his closing press conference as the summit’s chair, Trudeau announced all G-7 nations had worked hard to finalize a joint statement, which largely committed the nations to keep talking on trade.

Still, Trudeau also gave an account of his discussions with the U.S. president. Trudeau said he told Trump in candid conversations that U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs imposed this month were “insulting” and that Canada will move forward with counter-tariffs.

Trump said that retaliation is a “mistake,” according to Trudeau.

Canada is “polite, we’re reasonable but we also will not be pushed around,” Trudeau added.

Trudeau responded with a written statement, saying his comments in public and in private with Trump were “nothing he hasn’t said before” and that he was “focused on everything we accomplished here at the G-7 summit.”

Trump left the summit early Saturday, before it officially ended, to head to Singapore to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12.

Copies of the communique stamped with “approuve,” or approved in French, were being circulated around the G-7 media center in Quebec City as Trump made his order on Twitter. The statement had been published online before Trump commented.

“PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, “US Tariffs were kind of insulting” and he “will not be pushed around.” Very dishonest & weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!,” Trump said in a second post.

Trump has complained repeatedly — including throughout the summit — about Canada’s protected dairy sector, citing 270 percent tariffs that he says stand in the way of American farmers accessing that market.

Canada’s system of quotas and tariffs for dairy, poultry and eggs, known as supply management, is something of a sacred cow — all major political parties support it, and, given the value of existing quotas, farm groups erupt when changes are discussed. Trump has called for the full dismantling of that system over 10 years.

[Bloomberg]

Trump’s White House Iftar Is Missing Major American Muslim Groups

America’s largest Muslim organizations will not be attending President Donald Trump’s first iftar dinner on Wednesday night ― an absence that highlights the tumultuous relationship the president has had with American Muslim communities.

Since the Clinton administration, the White House has hosted holiday iftar dinners for foreign diplomats, Cabinet officials and Muslims from civil society organizations in honor of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The Trump White House declined to host an iftar dinner last year, but surprised many Muslim advocates by announcing that it was planning one for Wednesday.

The official guest list for the event has not been released, but press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said about 30-40 people were expected to attend, The Associated Press reports.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

[Huffington Post]

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director to speak at hate group event

ICE deputy director Thomas Homan will be at the National Press Club on Tuesday morning to participate in an event hosted by the anti-immigrant hate group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

Homan’s participation comes just days after news that President Trump tapped a CIS fellow, Ronald Mortensen, to serve as assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

Unfortunately, Homan will be lending further credibility to a group that for over three decades has published a litany of reports and blog posts demonizing immigrants and blaming them for virtually all of the United States’ ills. Founded by white nationalist John Tanton, CIS has also circulated white nationalist content thousands of times.

Last year, former CIS staffer Jon Feere was appointed to serve as Homan’s special adviser and Homan himself has made a number of hardline, anti-immigrant statements. In June 2017, Homan sounded a warning to undocumented immigrants: “If you’re in this country illegally… you should be uncomfortable. You should look over your shoulder, and you need to be worried.”

Homan, like Trump and the broader anti-immigrant movement, has made attacking so-called sanctuary cities a priority. In January 2018, Homan threatened elected officials in these jurisdictions, telling Fox News, “We gotta take [sanctuary cities] to court and we gotta start charging some of these politicians with crimes.” In April, Homan announced that he will resign this summer. His resignation comes at a time when ICE is under major scrutiny for militaristic worksite raidsand separating migrant parents from their children.

The Trump administration’s entire immigration policy regime has pulled directly from the anti-immigrant movement, including populating it with personnel from groups like CIS and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Homan’s appearance on Tuesday further cements that relationship.

https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/06/04/us-immigration-and-customs-enforcement-acting-director-speak-hate-group-event-tomorrow#.WxVs39Y9Qig.twitter

Trump tweets that ‘disrespectful’ Eagles were disinvited because not enough would attend

President Donald Trump spoke out about the whirlwind he caused, by uninviting the Philadelphia Eagles to the White House ceremony.

In a tweet President Trump said: “The Philadelphia Eagles Football Team was invited to the White House. Unfortunately, only a small number of players decided to come, and we canceled the event. Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!”

CNN’s Don Lemon remind viewers on Monday night that not one Eagles player kneeled during the season and called President Trumps’s actions a political stunt.

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney said President Trump “is the most disrespectful person on earth,” during an interview with Lemon.

[Raw Story]

Trump’s phone call with Macron described as ‘terrible’

A call about trade and migration between US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron soured last week after Macron candidly criticized Trump’s policies, two sources familiar with the call told CNN.

“Just bad. It was terrible,” one source told CNN. “Macron thought he would be able to speak his mind, based on the relationship. But Trump can’t handle being criticized like that.”

A short White House readout of last Thursday’s call said the conversation was focused on trade and immigration.

“Both leaders discussed the migration problem in Libya, and timelines to solve it. President Trump underscored the need to rebalance trade with Europe,” the readout states.

The call came the same day the United States announced a unilateral decision to slap steel and aluminum tariffs on American allies, including Mexico, Canada, and the European Union.

In a statement issued by the Elysee Palace ahead of the call, Macron said he “regrets the US decision to confirm tariffs in steel and aluminum.”

“This decision is not only illegal, it is a mistake on many points. It is a mistake because it responds to a worldwide unbalance that exists in the worst ways through fragmentations and economic nationalism,” the statement continued, with Macron adding that “if these kind of things impacted our relations, it would have been the case since day one because he has decided to leave the Paris (climate) agreement.”

“I prefer to say things directly and not through the press; and I will tell him what I told you, which are my convictions that he knows already,” he said in the statement.

Thursday’s strained call is particularly notable because Macron is arguably the European leader to whom Trump is closest. In an interview with the BBC in January, Macron said he had a “very direct relationship” with his US counterpart.

“I’m always extremely direct and frank. He is. Sometimes I manage to convince him, and sometimes I fail,” Macron said at the time.

Trump can expect a similar call from British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday, sources tell CNN. It’s not her style to be combative, but one source said May is expected to be direct in her criticisms and that Trump could expect a tough conversation.

[CNN]

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