Trump Defends Child Separation in Contentious Exchange With Lesley Stahl: ‘I’m President and You’re Not’

President Donald Trump‘s interview with Lesley Stahl for 60 Minutesaired on Sunday night, and during one contentious exchange, the president snapped at the CBS News journalist.

Stahl first asked Trump if he had any regrets from his first two years in office, and he replied that the press has treated him “terribly.”

When Stahl pressed, Trump held firm: “I regret that the press treats me so badly.”

Stahl pressed further and eventually asked Trump about his controversial immigration policy that separated migrant children from their parents at the southern border. Trump retorted by falsely claiming his policy was the same as former President Barack Obama‘s.

“It was on the books, but he didn’t enforce it,” Stahl corrected, noting Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy. “You enforced it.”

When Trump defended the policy as an effective deterrent to illegal immigration, Stahl asked if he would reprise the program. The president did not respond, but held that “there are consequences from coming into a country, namely our country, illegally.”

Trump eventually called out Stahl for her questions, claiming he was being treated differently than Barack Obama.

“I disagree, but I don’t wanna have that fight with you,” Stahl said.

“Lesley, it’s okay,” Trump snapped back. “In the meantime, I’m president and you’re not.”

[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]

DHS transferred $169 million from other programs to ICE for migrant detention

The Department of Homeland Security transferred $169 million from other agencies to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the detention and removal of migrants this year, according to a document sent to Congress by DHS.

Many of the transfers came from key national security programs, including $1.8 million from the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, $9.8 million from FEMA, $29 million from the U.S. Coast Guard and more than $34 million from several TSA programs. DHS also transferred $33 million from other ICE programs to pay for detention and removal, making the total amount of money transferred $202 million.

The FEMA and Coast Guard transfers were first reported by “The Rachel Maddow Show.” On Tuesday night, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., announced on the show that nearly $10 million was moved from FEMA’s budget to ICE. The budget document Merkley cited, which was later released and publicized by the DHS Watch program at America’s Voice, an advocacy group based in Washington, showed a breakdown of how DHS moved money between different programs and agencies.

The department has the authority to move funds around internally with the approval of Congress and transfers are not unusual. The total DHS budget for fiscal 2018 was $65 billion; FEMA’s total budget was $15.5 billion.

DHS spokesperson Tyler Houlton tweeted Tuesday night that, “Under no circumstances was any disaster relief funding transferred from @fema to immigration enforcement efforts. This is a sorry attempt to push a false agenda.” He also said that the transferred money came from routine operating expenses and “could not have been used for hurricane response due to appropriation limitations.”

On Wednesday, FEMA director Brock Long told Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News, that none of the $10 million transferred from FEMA to ICE came from the Disaster Relief Fund, saying that Merkley was “playing politics” ahead of Hurricane Florence.

However, money was taken from the response and recovery, preparedness and protection and mission support operations budgets, which are used to prepare for emergencies like Florence. Those FEMA budgets are for “training for all hazards, preparing our warehouses, making sure we have things ready to go so that we can pre-deploy like you see FEMA doing now,” Moira Whelan, FEMA’s former chief of staff for the office of Gulf Coast rebuilding, told Maddow on Wednesday.“Taking money away from that operation doesn’t just harm [FEMA’s hurricane response], it harms us with any disaster we face.”

DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the other transferred funds.

DHS stated in the document that the transfers to ICE were made due to “increasing operational demands.” The transfers were requested so ICE could add more than 2,000 detention center beds on top of 38,000 adult beds it predicted it would need in its initial budget request for the year. Those beds cost an additional $93 million above the allocated budget, according to the document provided to Congress.

The number of detained migrant children in federally contracted shelters has also increased, growing fivefold in the past year,The New York Times reported Wednesday.

ICE also expanded two kinds of flight operations as part of its removal program, increasing the cost of the already $369 million program by $107 million. Its daily air charter services alone increased by 28 percent this year.

The AP reported Wednesday that according to the office of Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, DHS notified Congress on June 30 that it wanted to transfer $200 million from other agencies to ICE, including the funds from FEMA. Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the transfer was approved by the Republican subcommittee chairs and no Democrats signed off on it.

The transfers occurred in August. Ur Jaddou, director of DHS Watch, called the reshuffling of funds an example of “upside down priorities.”

Jaddou said the document suggests the Trump administration would rather separate families “and detain and deport parents [than] prepare for hurricanes.”

[NBC News]

Trump administration tells ACLU to find deported parents

The Trump administration on Thursday informed a federal judge that it isn’t responsible for locating deported parents separated forcibly from their children at the southern border.

DOJ said in a court filing that the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit over family separations, should instead take the lead in reunifying deported parents with their children.

“Plaintiffs’ counsel should use their considerable resources and their network of law firms, NGOs, volunteers, and others, together with the information that defendants have provided (or will soon provide), to establish contact with possible class members in foreign countries,” DOJ said.

The administration suggested that the ACLU find out whether the deported parents wish to be reconnected with their children, or whether they waive that option.

An administration official said Thursday evening that the filing “simply asks the court to require the ACLU to determine the wishes of and fulfill their obligations to their clients, as they have repeatedly represented in court that they would.“

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has statedrepeatedly that no parents were deported without first being given the option to take their children with them. But a Trump administration official told POLITICO on July 25 that an estimated three-quarters of the parents who left the country alone left no record behind that they ever consented to leave their children in the U.S. “We don’t see it in the documentation,” the official said.

At a Senate hearing earlier this week, Matthew Albence, executive associate director for Enforcement and Removal Operations at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, repeatedly dodged questions about whether DHS could document that it secured deportee parents’ consent to leave their children behind.

[Politico]

Update

A federal judge has said the Trump administration is 100% responsible to find the lost parents.

Trump Dismisses Missed Deadline for Reuniting Migrant Families: The Solution is Come Here Legally

The Federal government is all but certain to miss Tuesday’s court-imposed deadline for reuniting migrant families (via Vox). But President Donald Trump is downplaying the blown deadline — and, in fact, pinning the blame on migrants.

Speaking outside the White House prior to leaving for the NATO summit in Brussels, the president sounded off against illegal immigration when asked about the missed deadline.

“I have a solution,” Trump said. “Tell people not to come to our country illegally. That’s the solution. Don’t come to our country illegally. Come like other people do, come legally.”

He added, “I’m saying this, very simply. We have laws. We have borders. Don’t come to our country illegally. It’s not a good thing.”

The president went on to again make the baseless, erroneous assertion that Democrats are advocating for open borders.

“Democrats want open borders and they don’t mind crime,” Trump said. “We want no crime and we want borders where borders mean something. All right? And, remember this, without borders, you do not have a country.”

[Mediaite]

Jeff Sessions jokes about separated families to laughing crowd

Attorney General Jeff Sessions cracked a joke about the administration’s immigration chaos, and was greeted with laughs at the idea of separated families.

Sessions spoke Tuesday to a crowd at the conservative-leaning Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, and accused critics of his “zero tolerance” immigration policy of hypocrisy.

“These same people live in gated communities, many of them, and are featured at events where you have to have an ID to even come in to hear em speak. They like a little security around themselves,” he said.

“If you try to scale the fence they’d be even too happy to have you arrested and separated from your children.”

The last line brought laughs and a few cheers from the audience in Los Angeles, which was greeted with protests by those who see the separation of children from their undocumented parents as inhumane.

After first insisting that Congress deal with the problem, President Trump signed an executive order amid the outrage reversing the policy he put in place in April, allowing children to remain with their parents for 30 days.

The fates of those families that have already been separated have hung in limbo with limited action from the federal government, though on Tuesday a federal judge ordered authorities to reunite the loved ones within 30 days.

That order, in response to an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit in California, also ordered an injunction against future family separations.

[New York Daily News]

Media

Reality

Poll after poll found massive disapproval with the Trump administration’s cruel policy of indefinitely separating children from their families as a deterrent to future immigration. So this is not the “lunatic fringe” but the vast majority of Americans.

Even Sessions’ joke is lie and based on a complete misunderstanding of our justice system.

If you take a Criminal Justice 101 class, you will learn the primary intention of incarcerating people for crimes is because they have harmed our society and as a form of punishment they are forced to rectify that harm. Removing that individual from their family is a side-effect. Have you ever heard the term, “he’s paid his debt to society?” That is what we are talking about.

Trump, separating families, is their primary intent.

Trump claims Obama kept migrants ‘wrapped in foil’ in cages: ‘We do a much better job’

President Donald Trump, is apparently trying to deflect criticism of his administration’s separating more than 2,000 migrant children from their parents by suggesting that former President Obama did worse.

Trump tweeted Saturday morning that President Obama kept immigrants “in cages, wrapped in foil,” pushing a Drudge Report headline that linked to an article that ran in The Daily Caller, a conservative media outlet.

The Daily Caller article was posted on Tuesday, when public outrage over the family separations was at a height. On Wednesday, the president signed an executive order to end the policy and keep migrant parents and children together.

The Obama administration also used detention facilities for migrants who crossed the border illegally but it did not engage in widespread family separations.

[ABC News]

Trump: Democrats Have Created A ‘Massive Child Smuggling Industry’

President Donald Trump blamed human trafficking on Democrats’ immigration policies during a Cabinet meeting Thursday.

“We have come up with a lot of solutions but we have Democrats that don’t want to approve anything because that’s probably, they think, bad for the election that’s coming up,” he said. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of people suffering and that’s unfortunate.”

“My administration is also acting swiftly to address the illegal immigration crisis on the southern border,” he continued. “Loopholes and our immigration laws all supported by extremist open border Democrats. That’s what they are, extremist, open border Democrats.”

He then specifically named House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and (of course) Hillary Clinton as leading a “con job” on immigration by saying they wanted closed borders, and then that they wanted open ones.

“We’ve created –– they’ve created and they’ve let it happen, a massive child smuggling industry,” Trump insisted. “That’s exactly what it’s become. Traffickers, you think about this, human traffickers are making a fortune. It’s a disgrace.

“They’re the worst immigration laws in the history of the world,” he later said. “The whole world is laughing at the United States and they have been for years. These alien minors were separated and sent all the way up here alone. But they really came up with coyotes — do you know what a coyote is? Not good. These are not good people.”

“They were set up here with human traffickers because the Democrat-supported policies that have allowed this to happen,” he reiterated.

So, yeah, just FYI, Trump’s accusation is inaccurate as hell. Immigration policy is not the work of the Democrats. It is the result of failed policies across the aisle and over many years. Everyone agrees the immigration system is broken and no one knows entirely how to fix it. (Except Donald Trump, clearly.)  As for the specific people he calls out for flip-flopping, we’ll let you be the judge of what they have or haven’t done.

[Mediaite]

Lawmakers banned from talking to detained migrant kids

Lawmakers are now banned from speaking with migrant children who are held at detention centers after being separated from their parents, according to a new Department of Heath and Human Services (HHS) directive sent to congressional offices on Wednesday.

The directive also states that lawmakers must give two weeks’ notice before traveling to an immigrant detention center. They will be barred from entering if they do not give the advanced notice.

HuffPost first reported on the directive.

[The Hill]

Trump blames ‘fake news’ media for aiding smugglers, human traffickers

President Trump on Tuesday blamed yet another entity for the growing immigration crisis on the U.S. southern border: the news media.

During a speech to a small-business group in Washington, Trump said the “fake news” reports about children being separated from their families at the border are aiding human traffickers.

“They are helping these smugglers and these traffickers like nobody would believe,” Trump said of the media. “They know exactly what they’re doing.”

The president accused news outlets of covering child separations more than congressional hearings about an inspector general report about the Hillary Clinton email probe “because those hearings are not good for them.”

“The whole thing is a scam,” he told members of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

The president also took aim at Mexico, accusing America’s southern neighbor of not doing enough to stop illegal border crossings.

“They come up through Mexico — Mexico does nothing for us,” Trump said. “They could stop it. They have very strong laws. Try staying in Mexico for a couple days see how long that lasts.”

The explosive remarks are the latest sign Trump is not backing down from his administration’s “zero tolerance” stance on illegal immigration, despite growing opposition at home and around the world.

Roughly 2,000 children have been separated from family members as a result of his administration’s decision to prosecute almost everyone who crosses the southern border illegally and jail them while awaiting trial.

The children are placed in juvenile detention facilities near the border because they cannot be held in custody with their adult guardians.

Trump is scheduled to meet with House Republicans later on Tuesday afternoon to discuss immigration measures slated for floor votes this week.

The president said he would be briefed on the proposals and then is “going to make changes” to them. That comment appeared to undercut his own staff, who said last week the president would sign both measures.

The president said he wants Congress to grant him “the legal authority to detain and properly remove families together as a unit,” a provision included in legislation written by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

“We have to be able to do this,” he said. “This is the only solution to the border crisis.”

He also questioned the need for more judges to handle immigration cases, something supported by lawmakers in both parties and his own Justice Department.

“I don’t want judges,” he said. “I want border security. I don’t want to try people. I don’t want people coming in.”

Trump also offered a confusing justification of the practice of separating children from their families at the border, something his top aides have also struggled to defend.

“I don’t want children taken away from parents,” Trump said, blaming the problem on a tangled web of “Democrat-supported loopholes” in immigration law he said he wants to close.

But in the next sentence, Trump said the separations are the intended consequence of a policy meant to deter illegal immigration.

“When you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away,” he said.

His comments reflect the contradictory remarks offered by members of his own team.

Department of Health and Human Services official Steve Wagner told reporters on Tuesday that “the new policy will result in a deterrence effect and we certainly hope parents stop bringing kids on this dangerous journey.”

That came one day after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsensaid she finds it “offensive” for reporters to suggest the child separations are an intended effect of the administration’s policy.

[The Hill]

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