Trump Just Strong-Armed Guatemala Into a “Safe Third Country” Agreement.

The United States and Guatemala have reached a deal that has the potential to end most asylum seekers’ ability to seek protection at the US-Mexico border.

Under an agreement announced Friday afternoon, asylum seekers who travel through Guatemala on their way to the United States would be returned to Guatemala and forced to seek protection there. That would largely block Salvadorans and Hondurans from receiving asylum in the United States, as well as large numbers of asylum seekers from around the world who travel by land to the US border after flying to South America. Instead, only Mexicans and Guatemalans would be able to seek protection at the border.

The agreement would not apply to children who arrive at the border alone and would remain in effect for two years, according to a copy released by the Guatemalan government (in Spanish).

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said on a press call that he expects the deal, which is known as a safe third country agreement, to take effect in the next few weeks. Earlier this month, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court blocked President Jimmy Morales from unilaterally signing such an agreement. It is still not clear how Morales’ administrations plans to get around that. 

Beyond that it is unclear how Guatemala—which has become the leading sending country of migrants to the United States under Trump—plans to provide refuge for the thousands of asylum seekers who could arrive from El Salvador, Honduras, and elsewhere. As the Washington Post‘s Mexico and Central America bureau chief, Kevin Sieff, pointed out on Twitter, Guatemala doesn’t exactly have much recent experience handling asylum claims.

The deal, if it goes into effect, would be one of Trump’s two most important efforts to undermine the asylum system. The other is the Remain in Mexico program, which is forcing thousands of asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are pending in US immigration courts. Combined, the two policies could block the vast majority of asylum seekers who come to the southern border from entering the United States. People who fly or travel by sea to the United States would still be eligible to apply for asylum. (The problem for asylum seekers, particularly those who aren’t wealthy, is that it is often impossible to get a visa to fly to the United States, which is why people turn to smugglers instead.)

McAleenan said that by requiring people to apply for asylum in Guatemala, the agreement would “increase the integrity of the [asylum] process, keep vulnerable families that are really economic migrants out of the hands of smugglers, and allow us to reach those with asylum claims more expeditiously.”

Morales was supposed to come to the White House on July 15 to sign a safe third country agreement, but the trip was canceled at the last minute in response to the Constitutional Court decision. Trump responded to the Guatemalan court decision this week by threatening to impose tariffs on Guatemala and ban Guatemalans from entering the United States. 

Like Trump, Morales is a former television personality who ran for president in 2015 as a political outsider. Since then, Morales has worked aggressively to undermine a renowned UN-backed anti-corruption commission that has targeted members of his family. His administration also has gone out of its way to please Trump, moving its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem immediately after the United States did. The Trump administration has been largely silent about Morales’ efforts to undermine the rule of law in Guatemala.

[Mother Jones]

Trump vows mass immigration arrests, removals of ‘millions of illegal aliens’ starting next week

President Trump said in a tweet Monday night that U.S. immigration agents are planning to make mass arrests starting “next week,” an apparent reference to a plan in preparation for months that aims to round up thousands of migrant parents and children in a blitz operation across major U.S. cities.

“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump wrote, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “They will be removed as fast as they come in.”

Large-scale ICE enforcement operations are typically kept secret to avoid tipping off targets. In 2018, Trump and other senior officials threatened the mayor of Oakland, Calif., with criminal prosecution for alerting city residents that immigration raids were in the works.

Trump and his senior immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, have been prodding Homeland Security officials to arrest and remove thousands of family members whose deportation orders were expedited by the Justice Department this year as part of a plan known as the “rocket docket.”

In April, acting ICE director Ronald Vitiello and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen were ousted after they hesitated to go forward with the plan, expressing concerns about its preparation, effectiveness and the risk of public outrage from images of migrant children being taken into custody or separated from their families.

Vitiello was replaced at ICE by former FBI and Border Patrol official Mark Morgan, who had impressed the president with statements on cable television in favor of harsh immigration enforcement measures.

In his first two weeks on the job at ICE, Morgan has said publicly that he plans to beef up interior enforcement and go after families with deportation orders, insisting that the rulings must be carried out to uphold the integrity of the country’s legal system.

“Our next challenge is going to be interior enforcement,” Morgan told reporters June 4 in Washington. “We will be going after individuals who have gone through due process and who have received final orders of deportation.

“That will include families,” he said, adding that ICE agents will treat the parents and children they arrest “with compassion and humanity.”

U.S. officials with knowledge of the preparations have said in recent days that the operation was not imminent, and ICE officials said late Monday night that they were not aware that the president planned to divulge their enforcement plans on Twitter.

Executing a large-scale operation of the type under discussion requires hundreds — and perhaps thousands — of U.S. agents and supporting law enforcement personnel, as well as weeks of intelligence gathering and planning to verify addresses and locations of individuals targeted for arrest.

The president’s claim that ICE would be deporting “millions” also was at odds with the reality of the agency’s staffing and budgetary challenges. ICE arrests in the U.S. interior have been declining in recent months because so many agents are busy managing the record surge of migrant families across the southern border with Mexico.

The family arrest plan has been considered even more sensitive than a typical operation because children are involved, and Homeland Security officials retain significant concerns that families will be inadvertently separated by the operation, especially because parents in some households have deportation orders but their children — some of whom are U.S. citizens — might not. Should adults be arrested without their children because they are at school, day care, summer camp or a friend’s house, it is possible parents could be deported while their children are left behind.

Supporters of the plan, including Miller, Morgan and ICE Deputy Director Matthew Albence, have argued forcefully that a dramatic and highly publicized operation of this type will send a message to families that are in defiance of deportation orders and could act as a deterrent.

According to Homeland Security officials, nearly all unauthorized migrants who came to the United States in 2017 in family groups remain present in the country. Some of those families are awaiting adjudication of asylum claims, but administration officials say a growing number are skipping out on court hearings while hoping to live and work in the United States as long as possible.

Publicizing a future law enforcement operation is unheard of at ICE. Trump administration officials blasted Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf last year for warning immigrants about an impending raid, saying she endangered agents’ safety.

“The Oakland mayor’s decision to publicize her suspicions about ICE operations further increased that risk for my officers and alerted criminal aliens — making clear that this reckless decision was based on her political agenda with the very federal laws that ICE is sworn to uphold,” then-ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan said at the time.

Homan later retired, but last week Trump said Homan would return to public service as his “border czar.” On Fox News, Homan later called that announcement “kind of premature” and said he had not decided whether to accept the job.

Schaaf responded late Monday to the president’s tweet teasing the looming ICE roundups.

“If you continue to threaten, target and terrorize families in my community . . . and if we receive credible information . . . you already know what our values are in Oakland — and we will unapologetically stand up for those values,” she wrote.

[Washington Post]

Trump withdraws from UN Arms Trade Treaty

President Donald Trump speaking to the National Rifle Association, a group that made a multimillion investment in his campaign, declared his administration will not ratify the UN Arms Trade Treaty — a treaty supported by the Obama administration that is aimed at regulating the international arms industry.

“The United Nations will soon receive a formal notice that America is rejecting this treaty,” Trump said in a speech at the NRA convention in Indianapolis. The treaty was not supported by the NRA.

“We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your Second Amendment,” Trump said to applause and acknowledged the “happy faces from the NRA over there.”

Trump signed a document before the crowd, which he said was a “message asking the Senate to discontinue the treaty ratification process and return the now-rejected treaty right back to me in the Oval Office, where I will dispose of it.” The move, however, is mostly symbolic. The Obama administration submitted the treaty to the Senate, but it was never ratified after facing opposition. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not signaled how lawmakers will move forward with the president’s request.

Immediately, gun control advocates spoke out against the president’s decision to back away from the treaty, which seeks to make it more difficult to sell weapons to countries that are under arms embargoes, often because of conflict.

“The Arms Trade Treaty is designed to keep guns out of war-stricken countries and prevent dangerous situations from descending even further into chaos. It is a treaty supported by our allies, but in opposing it, the president instead chose to stand with countries such as North Korea and Syria,” said Kris Brown, the president of Brady, an organization aimed at preventing gun violence.

As he took the stage, it appeared that a phone was thrown at but did not strike the president. ABC News has reached out to the Secret Service.

During his speech, Trump jumped from defending Second Amendment rights to building a wall to touting economic numbers.

The president argued that while Democrats advocate for undocumented immigrants, they want to “disarm law-abiding citizens.”

“Democrats want to disarm law-abiding Americans while allowing criminal aliens to operate with impunity. But that will never happen as long as I’m your president. Not even close,” the president said.

Trump also claimed he had successfully fought back against the corruption “at the highest levels” in Washington in his speech at the NRA’s annual convention in Indiana, held one week after special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report was released to the public.

“All was taking place at the highest levels in Washington, D.C. You’ve been watching, you’ve been seeing. You’ve been looking at things that you wouldn’t have believed possible in our country. Corruption at the highest level a disgrace. Spying, surveillance. Trying for an overthrow. And we caught them. We caught them,” he said.

Earlier, Vice President Mike Pence took a swipe at newly announced Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday saying that the nation is not in a battle for the “soul of America.”

[ABC News]

‘KEEP OUT!’: Trump tells non-Americans to stay out of the country in border tweet

President Donald Trump’s latest tweet about the border outright told all foreigners to “KEEP OUT!”

“With Caravans marching through Mexico and toward our Country, Republicans must be prepared to do whatever is necessary for STRONG Border Security. Dems do nothing. If there is no Wall, there is no Security. Human Trafficking, Drugs and Criminals of all dimensions – KEEP OUT!” He wrote in a corrected tweet after misspelling “dimensions.”

[Raw Story]

Trump Falsely Claims Democrats Want ‘Open Borders’ Bringing ‘Crime and Disease’ in Morning Tweetstorm

President Donald Trump opened his communications strategy Tuesday morning with a series of tweets focused on the current immigration problems, particularly on the Southern U.S. border.

Trump has threatened to shut down the federal government if Congress does not approve the appropriate budget allocations to build the border wall that was so central to his campaign in 2016, despite the fact that candidate Trump repeatedly promised that Mexico would be paying for the wall.

[Mediaite]

Trump Ramps Up Attacks on Macron, Hits ‘Very Low Approval Rating’: ‘MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!’

President Donald Trump has been on a tear against French President Emmanuel Macron since returning from his trip to France to commemorate the centennial of the end of WWI.

Early Tuesday morning, Trump mocked France’s performance in the two world wars. Later, he complained about wine tariffs between the two countries. Now, he’s ripping Macron’s approval rating in response to the French president’s rejection of nationalism, a term Trump has embraced.

“The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of almost 10%. He was just trying to get onto another subject. By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people-and rightfully so!” Trump tweeted.

“MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!” he added.

Macron rejected nationalism in a speech on Sunday, in what many considered a rebuke of Trump.

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” Macron said. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying our interests first … we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what gives it grace, and what is essential: its moral values.”

[Mediaite]

Trump suggests support for family separations, after earlier practice caused outcry

President Donald Trump suggested on Saturday that he believes the controversial policy of family separations could continue in the United States and that the practice could dissuade immigrants from entering the country illegally.

Trump’s comments come on the heels of a Friday report in The Washington Post that the White House is actively considering plans that could again separate parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The newspaper, which cited several administration officials it did not name, reported that one option under consideration would detain asylum-seeking families together for up to 20 days and then give parents a choice of staying in family detention with their child as their immigration cases proceed or allowing children to be taken to a government shelter so other relatives or guardians could seek custody.

“We’re looking at a lot of different things having to do with illegal immigration,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House.

“I will say this: If they feel there will be separation, they don’t come,” Trump said.

The practice of separating children from their parents at the border ignited a firestorm of criticism. Under pressure, Trump in June signed an executive order that said he said would end the practice and allow families to be detained together.

At least 2,600 children were separated from their parents under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that called for prosecuting everyone who entered the country illegally. A federal judge ordered families to be reunified, and in September the government reported it had reunified or released 2,251 children.

The policy, in effect from May 6 through June 20, did not put a significant dent in the number of families crossing the border, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Trump has made illegal immigration a centerpiece of his campaign and presidency. On Saturday he insisted he wants workers to come into the country but repeated his refrain that he wants a “merit-based” immigration system and that he opposes the current lottery system.

A bill proposed by Republicans in August would halve the number of legal immigrants allowed into the United States while moving to a “merit-based” system of entry. Trump has said he supports that bill.

[NBC News]

Trump Slams Democrats Over Mollie Tibbetts Death: Their Policies Are ‘Spilling Very Innocent Blood’

Speaking at an Ohio Republican State Party fundraiser in Columbus Friday evening, President Donald Trump invoked the death of Mollie Tibbetts to slam Democrats on immigration.

Shortly after saying the Republican party “stands strongly behind ICE,” Trump then brought up how “they charged an illegal alien in the murder of a college student Mollie Tibbetts.

“Everybody loved her. Everybody that met her loved her,” Trump said. “And the father was saying she’s coming back, she’s coming back… This went on for a long time. When they found out that it was this horrible, illegal immigrant that viciously killed her, all of a sudden that story went down. They didn’t want to cover it the way it should have been covered. But what happened to Mollie was a disgrace.”

He added “Our hearts go out. We mourn for Mollie’s family.”

Tibbetts family has said publicly they do not want her death politicized.

Yet, Trump did not stop at Tibbetts’ tragedy to make his point.

He then mentioned the death of an elderly homeless woman in New York City who was allegedly beaten to death by an undocumented immigrant who Trump said “was not supposed to be in this country” and a rape of a young child in the “sanctuary city” of Philadelphia also allegedly at the hands of an illegal immigrant.

“Democrat immigration policies are destroying innocent lives and spilling very innocent blood,” he concluded. “We believe that any party that puts criminal aliens before American citizens should be voted out of office, not into office.”

The audience applauded.

[Mediaite]

President Donald Trump: ‘Our Laws are the Dumbest Anywhere in the World’

On the same day as immigration protests and marches were held throughout the nation, President Donald Trump called for those entering the country without proper paperwork to be immediately escorted “back out.”

“When people come into our Country illegally, we must IMMEDIATELY escort them back out without going through years of legal maneuvering,” Trump opined in a midafternoon tweet.

He then added this about U.S. law: “Our laws are the dumbest anywhere in the world. Republicans want Strong Borders and no Crime. Dems want Open Borders and are weak on Crime!”

Trump’s tweet follows an earlier tweet where he claimed, “I never pushed the Republicans in the House to vote for the Immigration Bill.” Just a few days ago, however, he said just that.

[Mediaite]

Trump threatens Harley-Davidson: If it moves operations overseas, ‘they will be taxed like never before!’

President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday that Harley-Davidsonwill be “taxed like never before” if the motorcycle maker moves production overseas. He claimed that the iconic U.S. company was using increased trade tensions as an excuse to justify planned changes in manufacturing.

“A Harley-Davidson should never be built in another country-never! Their employees and customers are already very angry at them. If they move, watch, it will be the beginning of the end – they surrendered, they quit! The Aura will be gone and they will be taxed like never before!” Trump said in a tweet.

Harley said Monday it was moving some production overseas due to increased costs from the EU’s retaliatory tariffs against the Trump administration’s duties on steel and aluminum. No production will be moving to Europe as a result of the tariffs, according to the company. Harley’s overseas manufacturing plants are in Brazil, India, Australia and Thailand.

[CNBC]

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