Immigration Chief: ‘Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor Who Can Stand On Their Own 2 Feet’

“Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge,” Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said Tuesday, twisting Emma Lazarus’ famous words on a bronze plaque at the Statue of Liberty.

Cuccinelli was speaking to NPR’s Morning Edition about a new regulation he announced Monday that targets legal immigration. The rule denies green cards and visas to immigrants if they use — or are deemed likely to need — federal, state and local government benefits including food stamps, housing vouchers and Medicaid. The change stands to impact hundreds of thousands of immigrants who come to the United States legally every year.

The final version of the “public charge” rule is scheduled to be published Wednesday in the Federal Register. A public charge refers to a person who relies on public assistance for help.

On Tuesday, Cuccinelli described the public charge as a “burden on the government.” He told NPR the new regulation was a prospective rule, “part of President Trump keeping his promises.”

The new rule will go into effect Oct. 15, and only government aid used after that point will be assessed, Cuccinelli said.

Welfare benefits will be just one factor that immigration service officers use to determine an applicant’s fate in the United States, in addition to age, health, education and financial status.

“If they don’t have future prospects of being legal permanent residents without welfare, that will be counted against them,” Cuccinelli said.

“All immigrants who can stand on their own two feet, self-sufficient, pull themselves up by their bootstraps” would be welcome, he added.

Asked if that changes the definition of the American dream, Cuccinelli said, “No one has a right to become an American who isn’t born here as an American.”

Then he clarified: “It is a privilege to become an American, not a right for anybody who is not already an American citizen, that’s what I was referring to.”

He said the welcoming words from the 1903 plaque at the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor,” were put there “at almost the same time” as when the first public charge law was passed — in 1882.

Critics have denounced the rule as a sweeping attempt to stem immigration and favor wealthy migrants. The regulation is expected to be challenged by immigration groups in court.

Leon Fresco, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Obama administration, said the case could wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I also expect lawsuits from individuals who say that, at the end of the day, if Congress provided certain benefits to be accessible by certain groups of immigrants, that meant that they did not want them then banned under the public charge rule,” Fresco told NPR.

Rumors that the Trump administration was considering the regulation already led to a chilling effect on immigrants looking to put down roots through legal and permanent residency. Public health and social service providers report that immigrants are worried about seeking medical and housing aid for themselves and their children, who may be U.S. citizens.

Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general, has long held a hard-line stance against immigration and asylum policies. President Trump tapped him to be the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in June, bringing him to the helm of an agency he had never worked in.

[NPR]

Trump Slams U.S. Military Exercises, Helps Kim Jong Un Blame America for Missile Launches

President Donald Trump released some details of the “beautiful letter” that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un sent him recently, which apparently included a “small apology” for the recent missile tests, which Kim blamed on the U.S. military exercises that Trump called “ridiculous and expensive.”

During an impromptu press gaggle on the South Lawn of the White House Friday, Trump told reporters that he “got a very beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un yesterday,” and while he gushed about the beauty and three-page (“right from top to bottom”) length of the letter, Trump would not reveal its beautiful contents.

But on Saturday morning, Trump did reveal some of Kim’s letter, writing that the dictator mostly complained about our country’s military exercises, and promised to end missile tests once those exercises stop. Trump called the exercises “expensive and ridiculous.”

Since Trump announced receipt of that beautiful letter, North Koreas has reportedly conducted another missile launch, its fifth in recent weeks. Trump has been a consistent critic of the U.S. military’s joint military exercises with South Korea, which Trump and the North Koreans call “war games.”

Watch Trump describe the beautiful three full page, right from top to bottom, feat of correspondence above, via CBS.

[Mediaite]

White House proposal would have FCC and FTC police alleged social media censorship

A draft executive order from the White House could put the Federal Communications Commission in charge of shaping how Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and other large tech companies curate what appears on their websites, according to multiple people familiar with the matter.

The draft order, a summary of which was obtained by CNN, calls for the FCC to develop new regulations clarifying how and when the law protects social media websites when they decide to remove or suppress content on their platforms. Although still in its early stages and subject to change, the Trump administration’s draft order also calls for the Federal Trade Commission to take those new policies into account when it investigates or files lawsuits against misbehaving companies.

If put into effect, the order would reflect a significant escalation by President Trump in his frequent attacks against social media companies over an alleged but unproven systemic bias against conservatives by technology platforms. And it could lead to a significant reinterpretation of a law that, its authors have insisted, was meant to give tech companies broad freedom to handle content as they see fit.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment on the draft order, but referred CNN to Trump’s remarks at a recent meeting with right-wing social media activists. During the meeting, Trump vowed to “explore all regulatory and legislative solutions to protect free speech.”

According to the summary seen by CNN, the draft executive order currently carries the title “Protecting Americans from Online Censorship.” It claims that the White House has received more than 15,000 anecdotal complaints of social media platforms censoring American political discourse, the summary indicates. The Trump administration, in the draft order, will offer to share the complaints it’s received with the FTC.

In May, the White House launched a website inviting consumers to report complaints of alleged partisan bias by social media companies.

The FTC will also be asked to open a public complaint docket, according to the summary, and to work with the FCC to develop a report investigating how tech companies curate their platforms and whether they do so in neutral ways. Companies whose monthly user base accounts for one-eighth of the U.S. population or more could find themselves facing scrutiny, the summary said, including but not limited to Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat.

The Trump administration’s proposal seeks to significantly narrow the protections afforded to companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Under the current law, internet companies are not liable for most of the content that their users or other third parties post on their platforms. Tech platforms also qualify for broad legal immunity when they take down objectionable content, at least when they are acting “in good faith.” From the start, the legislation has been interpreted to give tech companies the benefit of the doubt.

In a Senate floor speech last year, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), one of the authors of Section 230, said his aim with the legislation was to make sure “that internet companies could moderate their websites without getting clobbered by lawsuits.”

“Imagine how hard it would be to launch a platform that’s open to discussion of any topic when even the simplest, most narrowly-focused website on the internet can become a magnet for lawsuits,” Wyden said.

By comparison, according to the summary,the White House draft order asks the FCC to restrict the government’s view of the good-faith provision. Under the draft proposal, the FCC will be asked to find that social media sites do not qualify for the good-faith immunity if they remove or suppress content without notifying the user who posted the material, or if the decision is proven to be evidence of anticompetitive, unfair or deceptive practices.

Yet in its current form, the draft order could lead to significant questions about the role the FCC and FTC can play when it comes to interpreting and enforcing Section 230, an area they have previouslyleft largely unaddressed. The effort to draft the order has been ongoing for some time, the people said, and the proposal remains subject to change.

“It makes no sense to involve the FCC here,” said Berin Szoka, president of the libertarian-leaning think tank TechFreedom. “They have rule-making authority, but no jurisdiction — they can’t possibly want to be involved. It would be an impossible position.”

The FTC and FCC both declined to comment.

The attempt to write the order comes as the White House on Friday prepared to meet with a number of tech companies to discuss their approaches to detecting and responding to violent extremism.

The midday meeting is expected to involve five-minute presentations from the companies on their respective policies and projects, according to copies of an invitation obtained by CNN. The presentations will be followed by a group discussion on technology and the companies’ roles in fighting “signals of violence … while respecting free speech.”

Some people close to the tech industry expressed frustration that the White House seemed to be trying to have it both ways — excoriating tech companies for allegedly censoring conservative speech, a claim the platforms vigorously dispute, while castigating them for failing to block enough violent or hateful content.

“The internal inconsistency of this is outrageous,” one of them said.

[CNN]

Trump claims he tried to quell “send her back!” chants. The video says otherwise.

During an Oval Office media session with the US Special Olympics team on Thursday, President Donald Trump made a desperate attempt to distance himself from one of the ugliest moments of his presidency — one his words directly incited, despite what he’d now have people believe.

ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked why he didn’t do something to try to stop the “send her back!” chants that were directed toward Somali refugee-turned-Rep. Ilhan Omar during his rally the night before in North Carolina. Trump defended himself by simply lying.

“Well, number one, I think I did. I started speaking very quickly,” Trump said. “I disagree with [the chants], by the way. But it was quite a chant, and I felt a little bit badly about it. But I will say — I did, and I started speaking very quickly. But it started up rather fast.”

Trump went on to try to draw a contrast between what he said and what his supporters chanted.

“I didn’t say that, they did,” Trump said, prompting Karl to point out that the chant seemed to be directly inspired not only by his misleading attacks on Omar during the rally, but also by tweets he posted on Sunday urging Omar and other Democratic women of color in Congress who are critical of him to leave the country.

“If you examine that, I don’t think you’ll find that,” Trump said, unconvincingly. He then moved on to taking questions from other reporters.

Trump isn’t shy about gaslighting — during a speech last summer, he advised his supporters to “just remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” But his claim that he “started speaking very quickly” is directly contradicted by video footage of Wednesday’s event.

Here’s what really happened

After Trump spent about two minutes lambasting Omar during his rally in North Carolina — going as far as to falsely accuse her of sympathizing with al-Qaeda — the “send her back!” chants broke out. But instead of trying to stop them, Trump briefly basked in the chants before moving on with his speech.

He gave no indication that he disagreed with the sentiments expressed by his supporters. In fact, given that he admonished Omar and other congresswomen of color “to go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” in the aforementioned tweet, the idea that he’s opposed to such sentiments is a huge stretch.

Here’s the full clip of the chants and what led up to them:

The chants quickly became the major headline from the speech, in a week when Trump has continued his racist attacks on Democratic women of color. Journalists and politicians compared the outburst to scenes from fascist rallies, including Nazi Germany.

Even Trump and his supporters seem to realize that this is a bad look. But instead of apologizing, they’re lying. For instance, during his weekly press conference on Thursday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) tried to portray the fact that Trump continued with his speech after the chants as though it constituted a bold stand against bigotry.

White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley echoed McCarthy during a Fox News interview later that day. “He didn’t let the chant go on very long,” Gidley said, adding that “it’s tough to hear what they were chanting.” (It was not tough to hear what people were chanting.)

While the White House and McCarthy try to rewrite history, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the quiet part loud. Asked about the anti-Omar chants during a press gaggle on Thursday, Graham suggested that Trump and his supporters are only interested in deporting refugees who don’t support the president politically.

“If you’re a Somali refugee wearing a MAGA cap, [Trump] doesn’t want to send you back,” Graham said. “What does that tell me? That it’s about the criticism, not the critic.”

Refugees, however, have just as much of a right to criticize the president as anybody else — no matter how much Trump and his supporters may dislike it.

[Vox]

Trump admin dramatically limits asylum claims by Central Americans

The Trump administration on Monday moved to dramatically limit the ability of Central American migrants to claim asylum if they enter the United States by land through Mexico, the latest attempt by the White House to limit immigration and toughen the US asylum process amid overcrowded conditionsat border facilities.The rule from the departments of Justice and Homeland Security would prohibit migrants who have resided or “transited en route” in a third country from seeking asylum in the US, therefore barring migrants traveling through Mexico from being able to claim asylum and as a result, drastically limit who’s eligible for asylum. Over recent months, there’s been a dramatic spike in apprehensions at the US-Mexico border. The majority of migrants are from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. They’ve had to travel through Mexico to reach the border and upon arriving in the US, some have turned themselves into the US Border Patrol and claimed asylum.The regulation addresses that group of migrants.

“Until Congress can act, this interim rule will help reduce a major ‘pull’ factor driving irregular migration to the United States,” acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan in a statement. It will allow the departments of Justice and Homeland Security to “more quickly and efficiently process cases originating from the southern border, leading to fewer individuals transiting through Mexico on a dangerous journey.”There are some exceptions: an asylum seeker whose claim was denied after applying for protection in a country, if someone has been trafficked, and if someone transited through a country that did not sign one of the major international treaties on refugees. The rule would take effect immediately but is certain to face legal challenges. Under US law, migrants are allowed to claim asylum once on US soil. There’s a caveat, however, for those who come through safe third countries, meaning countries that the US has entered into an agreement with. The United Nations’ refugee agency defines “safe country,” in part, as “being countries in which refugees can enjoy asylum without any danger.”But Trump’s own statements on Mexico could undercut that definition. In tweets, the President has called Mexico “one of the most dangerous country’s in the world” and claimed that the murder rate in the country has increased.”The Coyotes and Drug Cartels are in total control of the Mexico side of the Southern Border. They have labs nearby where they make drugs to sell into the U.S. Mexico, one of the most dangerous country’s in the world, must eradicate this problem now. Also, stop the MARCH to U.S.” Trump tweeted in April.

[CNN]

Trump defends Putin’s claim that democracy is dead with bizarre, confused rant about California

Ahead of the G20 summit in Osaka, Vladimir Putin told the Financial Times that “the liberal idea has become obsolete,” a line that drew sharp rebuke from the democratic world.

But when President Donald Trump was asked about the line by Peter Baker of The New York Times, he didn’t even appear to understand what Putin was talking about, responding with a confused rant about how terrible California is.

Los Angeles and San Francisco, Trump said, are “sad to look at” because they are run by “liberal people”:

Putin, of course, was not talking about “liberal” in the sense of California or the Democratic Party. He was talking about the whole concept of Western, pluralistic, multicultural democracy, and arguing that giving marginalized groups like refugees and LGBTQ persons human rights is dying off.

Even if Trump had understood Putin, it is not clear he wouldn’t agree, given that his administration is rolling back LGBTQ protections, holding asylum seekers in camps with no soap and toothpaste, and broadly pushing to remove federal protections for the democratic process.

[Raw Story]

Trump gives Putin light-hearted warning: ‘Don’t meddle in the election’

President Donald Trump issued a breezy warning to his Russian counterpart Friday against meddling in US elections, laughing and smiling as he told his counterpart not to interfere.”Don’t meddle in the election, please,” Trump said, smirking and wagging his finger at Putin. He only raised the matter after being questioned by reporters whether he would issue a warning.”Yes, of course I will,” Trump said before making his joking aside.It was an off-hand moment that came at the start of the men’s first meeting since the conclusion of Robert Mueller’s investigation.Trump said he enjoyed a “very, very good relationship” with Putin, and said “many positive things are going to come out of the relationship.””We have many things to discuss, including trade and some disarmament, some little protectionism, in a very positive way,” Trump said.

When he made his playful admonishment against election interference, Putin sat beside him laughing. Trump’s aides, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also smiled.It was hardly the serious confrontation that many of Trump’s critics — and even some officials in the US government — have been hoping he’d make ahead of the 2020 contest, which could be vulnerable again to foreign meddling efforts.Instead, it appeared to be Trump’s way of injecting levity into what remains a deeply fractured Washington-Moscow relationship.In the seven months since Trump last encountered his Russian counterpart, the Russians detained a former Marine on espionage charges and were accused by Mueller in his report of waging a “sweeping and systematic” influence campaign during the 2016 election.That’s a distant cry from the warmed-up relations with Russia that Trump entered office vowing to pursue. When he sat down with Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit here on Friday, ties between the two countries were near the lowest ebb since the Cold War.In Trump’s view, that’s the fault of Democrats and overzealous investigators intent on finding links between his campaign and Russian officials. As he greeted Putin for the first time since Mueller concluded his investigation and released a final report, there was little to indicate his view of Moscow’s influence efforts has changed or that his prickliness on the topic had waned.”I’ll have a very good conversation with him,” Trump told reporters at the White House as he was departing for Japan.But he declined to detail what he might say regarding election meddling, or whether he would raise it at all.”What I say to him is none of your business,” Trump said.

[CNN]

Trump jokes to Putin they should ‘get rid’ of journalists

Donald Trump joked with Vladimir Putin about getting rid of journalists and Russian meddling in US elections when the two leaders met at the G20 summit in Japan.

As they sat for photographs at the start of their first formal meeting in nearly a year, the US president lightheartedly sought common ground with Putin at the expense of the journalists around them in Osaka.

“Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it? You don’t have this problem in Russia but we do,” Trump said.

To which Putin responded, in English: “We also have. It’s the same.”

Twenty-six journalists have been murdered in Russia since Putin first became president, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), many of them investigative reporters scrutinising governmental abuses.

Trump has frequently referred to the press as the “enemy of the people” and in February the CPJ expressed concern about the safety of journalists covering Trump rallies, where they have been the target of derision and abuse from the president and his supporters. It is a year to the day since five Capital Gazette employees were killed in their newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland. The shooting led to the organisation Reporters Without Bordersadding the US to its list of the five deadliest countries for journalism.

It was the first meeting between the two men since a summit in Helsinki last July, and since the publication of a report by the special counsel Robert Mueller, which found Russia had interfered extensively in the 2016 US presidential election, but found insufficient evidence that the Trump campaign had conspired with Moscow.

When journalists asked Trump just before he left for Japan what he would like to talk to Putin about, he told them it was “none of your business”. As they sat alongside each other, a reporter asked whether he was going to tell Putin not to meddle in the 2020 election.

Trump said: “Yes, of course I will,” drawing a laugh from Putin. Then, without looking at Putin, Trump said briskly: “Don’t meddle in the election, please,” and then repeated the phrase with a mock finger wag as Putin and the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, smiled broadly.

Relations between the two countries have been sour for years, worsening after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backed Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war. In a recent television interview, Putin said relations between Moscow and Washington were “getting worse and worse”.

Trump has sought better relations with Putin to tackle a host of issues, including his goal to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. On Friday, he emphasised the positives.

“It’s a great honour to be with President Putin,” Trump said. “We have many things to discuss, including trade and including some disarmament.”

Trump and Putin had been scheduled to meet at the end of November at the last G20 in Buenos Aires, but Trump cancelled the meeting as he flew to Argentina, citing Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian navy ships and sailors. The two spoke informally at the event. The Ukrainian sailors have still not been freed.

“We’ve had great meetings. We’ve had a very, very good relationship,” Trump said on Friday. “And we look forward to spending some very good time together. A lot of very positive things are going to come out of the relationship.”

In May, the two leaders had their first extensive phone conversation in months. Trump said they talked about a new accord to limit nuclear arms that could eventually include China. Russia is under punitive sanctions imposed by the US and the EU and wants them lifted.

Trump’s critics have accused him of being too friendly with Putin and castigated him for failing to publicly confront the Russian leader in Helsinki over Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election.

In an interview with the Financial Times on Thursday, Putin claimed Trump’s victory in 2016 and the rise of nationalist-populist movements in Europe signalled the death of liberal policies in the west.

“[Liberals] cannot simply dictate anything to anyone just like they have been attempting to do over the recent decades,” he said. “The liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.”

Trump later held talks with Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro. “He is a special man, doing very well, very much loved by the people of Brazil,” Trump said, smiling broadly. For his part, Bolsonaro told the US president: “I have been a great admirer of you for quite some time, even before your election. I support Trump, I support the United States, I support your re-election.”

[The Guardian]

Trump says supporters could ‘demand’ he not leave office after two terms

In tweets on Sunday morning, President Donald Trump suggested supporters might not want him to leave office after two terms. 

“The good news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT),” Trump wrote. 

The president had also been criticizing the Washington Post and the New York Times, calling them “both a disgrace.” 

Trump has talked about the issue before. In March last year, according to a recording obtained by CNN, he told a closed-door fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago that “maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day,” in reference to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s abolishment of term limits. It was unclear if the comments were made in jest.  

The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution explicitly states that “no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice.” 

The only American president to serve more than two terms was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who died during his fourth term in office. 

Some progressive commentators have speculated about the possibility of Trump not leaving office if he loses the election narrowly. Last week, Bill Maher said on CNN that if Trump loses, “he won’t go.”  

To which conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg responded, “Refusing to leave would make him the crazy guy the Marines escort out of the building.”

[USA Today]

Trump says he would accept dirt on political rivals from foreign governments

President Donald Trump says he would listen if a foreign government approached him with damaging information about a political rival — and wouldn’t necessarily report the contact to the FBI.

“I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” Trump said in an interview with ABC News that aired on Wednesday.

“I think I’d want to hear it,” Trump went on, downplaying the idea such a move by another country would amount to election interference.

Trump and his 2016 campaign have come under intense scrutiny — and a special counsel investigation — for their contacts with Russians during the last presidential election.

Special counsel Robert Mueller detailed extensive contact between Trump campaign associates and Russians, but did not conclude there was a criminal conspiracy.

Asked Wednesday whether he would take opposition research being peddled by another government, Trump said he likely would.

“It’s not an interference, they have information — I think I’d take it,” Trump said. “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI — if I thought there was something wrong.

“Still, Trump said he wouldn’t automatically report the foreign government’s actions to US law enforcement — something he says he’s never considered doing in his lifetime.

“I’ll tell you what, I’ve seen a lot of things over my life. I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI. In my whole life. You don’t call the FBI,” he said. “You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you do.”

“Life doesn’t work that way,” Trump said.

[CNN]

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