Trump Warns of ‘Invasion’ on U.S. Border After Condemning New Zealand Mosque Shooting

President Donald Trump railed against illegal immigration on the southern border on Friday, after condemning the mass shooting at a New Zealand Mosque.

Speaking to reporters at the signing for his first veto, which struck down an attempt to reject his national emergency declaration, Trump spoke about the shooting carried out at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The gunman, who killed 49 worshipers in his attack, decried Muslims as “invaders” in a manifesto posted online.

Trump called the shooting a “horrible, horrible thing,” and said he offered support to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, before pivoting to his immigration veto.

“We’re on track for a million illegal aliens to rush our borders,” Trump said. “People hate the word invasion, but that’s what it is. It’s an invasion of drugs and criminals and people. We have no idea who they are.”

Trump has frequently compared illegal immigration into the United States to an “invasion.” He ramped up use of the term before the midterm elections in November 2018, when he warned of a migrant caravan approaching the southern border from Central America.

The Australian gunman, who killed 49 and wounded dozens more at two mosques in Christchurch, posted on fringe message board 8chan before launching his attack. He wrote that he planned to carry out “an attack against the invaders.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Administration Will Send Asylum-Seekers To Mexico While Claims Are Processed

Migrants who cross the U.S. southern border and seek asylum will be forced to wait in Mexico while their claims are being processed, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Thursday.

Currently, people claiming asylum are allowed to stay in the U.S. — sometimes in detention — while their claim is pending in immigration court. The new policy will send such migrants to Mexico for the duration of that process.

That’s true regardless of the migrants’ country of origin: Many people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border are not Mexican, but are fleeing violence in Central America.

The immigrants will still “be interviewed by a U.S. asylum officer, but they will no longer be released into the interior with a notice to appear in immigration court,” NPR’s John Burnett reports. “DHS has long complained that many applicants simply disappear and never show up for their hearing.”

Speaking before lawmakers on Thursday, Nielsen also emphasized that DHS cannot detain families with children for more than a few weeks under U.S. law, which is not enough time for an asylum claim to be processed.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration began separating children from parents who were being prosecuted for illegally crossing the border, a policy which horrified many Americans and was ultimately found to be illegal. Sending families back to Mexico would provide an alternate method for the administration to avoid releasing such families into the U.S.

The Mexican government, while affirming its own sovereign rights to determine who enters the country, said it would allow the practice. Mexico also said it would extend some rights and protections to the non-Mexican asylum-seekers on Mexican soil who await immigration hearings in the U.S.

The migrants will receive humanitarian visas, have the opportunity to apply for work permits and have access to legal services, Mexico said.

Last month, The Washington Post reported that the Trump administration had reached a deal with Mexico to allow asylum-seekers to remain south of the border while their claims were processed. However, governments of both countries would not publicly confirm that a plan was in place, in part because the Mexican government was days away from a transition of power.

The announcement on Thursday appears to confirm those early reports.

In late November, Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said there were questions about the legality of such a proposal.

“One thing we know right off the bat is that it cannot be legal unless they can assure all the asylum seekers who will be stranded in Mexico … will be safe — not only from persecution by state actors in Mexico, but by criminal gangs,” Gelernt told NPR. “And from what we know about what’s going on, we see no likelihood that that is going to be true.”

The news comes during a time of close national attention to issues of immigration and asylum, as President Trump continues to denounce migration as a national security threat, and critics of the administration’s actions accuse the White House of inhumane policies.

The recent arrival of a caravan of Central American migrants at the U.S. southern border brought fresh attention to asylum-seekers, particularly after a clash between protesters and Border Patrol agents.

The Trump administration has been setting limits on the number of people allowed to claim asylum at those ports of entry per day. The result has been a massive backlog of migrants waiting to claim asylum — in addition to a backlog of migrants who have claimed asylum and are awaiting processing.

The death of a 7-year-old migrant girl in Border Patrol custody this month has brought fresh outrage to the debate.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to seek funding for his border wall — which he had originally claimed would be paid for by Mexico. He recently said that Mexico is essentially paying for the wall through the new deal to replace NAFTA, a claim which is not true.

[NPR]

Trump Moves to Deport Vietnam War Refugees

The Trump administration is resuming its efforts to deport certain protected Vietnamese immigrants who have lived in the United States for decades—many of them having fled the country during the Vietnam War.

This is the latest move in the president’s long record of prioritizing harsh immigration and asylum restrictions, and one that’s sure to raise eyebrows—the White House had hesitantly backed off the plan in August before reversing course. In essence, the administration has now decided that Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in the country before the establishment of diplomatic ties between the United States and Vietnam are subject to standard immigration law—meaning they are all eligible for deportation.

The new stance mirrors White House efforts to clamp down on immigration writ large, a frequent complaint of the president’s on the campaign trail and one he links to a litany of ills in the United States.

The administration last year began pursuing the deportation of many long-term immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia, and other countries who the administration alleges are “violent criminal aliens.” But Washington and Hanoi have a unique 2008 agreement that specifically bars the deportation of Vietnamese people who arrived in the United States before July 12, 1995—the date the two former foes reestablished diplomatic relations following the Vietnam War.

The White House unilaterally reinterpreted the agreement in the spring of 2017 to exempt people convicted of crimes from its protections, allowing the administration to send back a small number of pre-1995 Vietnamese immigrants, a policy it retreated from this past August. Last week, however, James Thrower, a spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Hanoi, said the American government was again reversing course.

Washington now believes that the 2008 agreement fails to protect pre-1995 Vietnamese immigrants from deportation, Thrower told The Atlantic. This would apply to such migrants who are either undocumented or have committed crimes, and this interpretation would not apply to those who have become American citizens.

“The United States and Vietnam signed a bilateral agreement on removals in 2008 that establishes procedures for deporting Vietnamese citizens who arrived in the United States after July 12, 1995, and are subject to final orders of removal,” Thrower said. “While the procedures associated with this specific agreement do not apply to Vietnamese citizens who arrived in the United States before July 12, 1995, it does not explicitly preclude the removal of pre-1995 cases.”

The about-turn came as a State Department spokesperson confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security had met with representatives of the Vietnamese embassy in Washington, D.C., but declined to provide details of when the talks took place or what was discussed.

Katie Waldman, a spokeswoman for DHS said: “We have 5,000 convicted criminal aliens from Vietnam with final orders of removal—these are non-citizens who during previous administrations were arrested, convicted, and ultimately ordered removed by a federal immigration judge. It’s a priority of this administration to remove criminal aliens to their home country.”

Spokespeople for the Vietnamese embassy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

But the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group, said in a statement that the purpose of the meeting was to change the 2008 agreement. That deal had initially been set to last for five years, and was to be automatically extended every three years unless either party opted out. Under those rules, it was set to renew next month. Since 1998, final removal orders have been issued for more than 9,000 Vietnamese nationals.

When it first decided to reinterpret the 2008 deal, Donald Trump’s administration argued that only pre-1995 arrivals with criminal convictions were exempt from the agreement’s protection and eligible for deportation. Vietnam initially conceded and accepted some of those immigrants before stiffening its resistance; about a dozen Vietnamese immigrants ended up being deported from the United States. The August decision to change course, reported to a California court in October, appeared to put such moves at least temporarily on ice, but the latest shift leaves the fate of a larger number of Vietnamese immigrants in doubt. Now all pre-1995 arrivals are exempt from the 2008 agreement’s protection.

Many pre-1995 arrivals, all of whom were previously protected under the 2008 agreement by both the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, were refugees from the Vietnam War. Some are the children of those who once allied with American and South Vietnamese forces, an attribute that renders them undesirable to the current regime in Hanoi, which imputes anti-regime beliefs to the children of those who opposed North Vietnam. This anti-Communist constituency includes minorities such as the children of the American-allied Montagnards, who are persecuted in Vietnamfor both their ethnicity and Christian religion.

The Trump administration’s move reflects an entirely new reading of the agreement, according to Ted Osius, who served as the United States ambassador to Vietnam from December 2014 through November 2017.* Osius said that while he was in office, the 2008 agreement was accepted by all involved parties as banning the deportation of all pre-1995 Vietnamese immigrants.

“We understood that the agreement barred the deportation of pre-1995 Vietnamese. Both governments—and the Vietnamese-American community—interpreted it that way,” Osius told The Atlantic in an email. The State Department, he added, had explained this to both the White House and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

News of the Trump administration’s renewed hard line quickly made the rounds on Vietnamese American social media, with advocacy groups warning of potentially increased deportations.

“Forty-three years ago, a lot of the Southeast Asian communities and Vietnamese communities fled their countries and their homeland due to the war, which the U.S. was involved in, fleeing for their safety and the safety of their families,” said Kevin Lam, the organizing director of the Asian American Resource Workshop, an advocacy group. “The U.S. would do well to remember that.”

[The Atlantic]

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 defends use of tear gas at the border

President Trump on Monday defended the use of tear gas against asylum seekers at the border, telling reporters that it was a “very minor form of tear gas” and questioning why migrants were trying to cross the border.

“First of all, the tear gas is a very minor form of the tear gas itself. It’s very safe,” Trump told reporters Monday evening in Mississippi.

“But you really say, why is a parent running up into an area where they know the tear gas is forming? And it’s going to be formed and they’re running up with a child,” he added.

Photos circulated on Monday showing women and children at a port of entry near San Diego fleeing tear gas, which was fired by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents.

The CBP said in a statement Monday that agents fired the tear gas after migrants attempted crossing the border illegally, some of them throwing rocks at border agents.

Trump earlier Monday said that border agents were forced to fire the tear gas.

“They had to use because they were being rushed by some very tough people and they used tear gas. And here’s the bottom line: nobody’s coming into our country unless they come in legally,” he told reporters.

In his comments Monday evening, Trump also claimed without evidence that some asylum seekers trying to cross the border were only pretending to be parents because of “certain advantages” that come with having a child.

“In some cases, they’re not the parents. These are people — they call them grabbers. They grab a child because they think they’re going to have a certain status by having a child,” he said.

“You have certain advantages in terms of our crazy laws that, frankly, Congress should be changing. If you changed the laws, you wouldn’t be having this problem,” Trump added.

The president also repeated that “violence” from asylum seekers could lead him to closing off the southern border.

“If they do a charge. Because with a closed border, it’s very easy to stop,” he said. “With an open border it’s not. If they do a charge. As you know, we have a big caravan coming up, another one.”

Trump in recent days has threatened to close off the southern border as he has ramped up his claims that the caravan of migrants moving through Mexico present a national security threat to the U.S. and presses for border wall funding to be included in the spending bills under negotiation by Congress.

[The Hill]

Media

Trump Announces All Asylum Seekers Must Now ‘Stay in Mexico’ Until Claims Approved in Court

On Saturday, President Donald Trump announced via a pair of tweets that migrants seeking asylum will now have to remain in Mexico until their claims are approved in court.

“Migrants at the Southern Border will not be allowed into the United States until their claims are individually approved in court. We only will allow those who come into our Country legally. Other than that our very strong policy is Catch and Detain. No ‘Releasing’ into the U.S.,” Trump wrote.

He then added in a second tweet: “All will stay in Mexico. If for any reason it becomes necessary, we will CLOSE our Southern Border. There is no way that the United States will, after decades of abuse, put up with this costly and dangerous situation anymore!”

Trump’s announcement comes just days after the Washington Postreported on plans to implement the policy as early as Friday.

According to DHS memos obtained by The Washington Post on Wednesday, Central American asylum seekers who cannot establish a “reasonable fear” of persecution in Mexico will not be allowed to enter the United States and would be turned around at the border.

The plan, called “Remain in Mexico,” amounts to a major break with current screening procedures, which generally allow those who establish a fear of return to their home countries to avoid immediate deportation and remain in the United States until they can get a hearing with an immigration judge. Trump despises this system, which he calls “catch and release,” and has vowed to end it.

At the time, Department of Homeland Security spox Katie Waldman said the policy will not start “this week.”

Yet, Trump also teased plans to close the entire border while speaking with reporters on Thanksgiving Day.

Earlier today, WaPo also reported that the Trump administration had reached a deal with Mexico to allow migrants to wait in the country. However, incoming Interior Minister Olga Sanchez has since deniedsuch deal exists.

The ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy is likely to meet court challenges in the days ahead especially since just this past Monday a San Francisco judge ruled Trump may not rewrite immigration laws.

[Mediaite]

Trump Warns ‘Whole Border’ Could Be Shut: We May ‘Close Entry Into the Country for a Period of Time’

After speaking with members of the military who are deployed around the world, President Donald Trump took questions from the media, and said that he might have to close the southern border altogether.

He talked about the border, as he did on the call with the military members, and said that the U.S. border had been entirely closed two days ago, and may have to be closed again.

Speaking specifically about the caravan, Trump said that if the military has to, they’ll use lethal force. He cited the reaction of the people of Tijuana, Mexico to the massive influx of people from the caravan.

“You ask the people in Tijuana, Mexico, they opened up with wide arms, just come in, come in, let me help you, let us take care of you. And within two days, now they’re going crazy to get them out. They want them out,” he said. “Because things are happening, bad things are happening in Tijuana. And again, it’s not in this country because we’ve closed it up.”

“Actually, two days ago, we closed the border. We actually just closed it. We say nobody is coming in because it was out of control,” he said.

A reporter asked, “What do you mean you closed the border and nobody is coming in? What do you mean by that?”

“If we find that it’s uncontrollable, Josh, if we find that it’s — it gets to a level where we are going to lose control or where people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control,” he answered.

A reporter asked, “do you mean the entire border?”

“The whole border. I mean the whole border,” the President confirmed. “And Mexico will not be able to sell their cars into the United States where they make so many at great benefit to them — not a great benefit to us, by the way. But at least now we have a good new trade deal with Mexico and with Canada. But we will close the border. And that means that Mexico is not going to be able to sell their cars into the United States until it’s open.”

“We’re going to either have a border or we’re not. And when they lose control of the border on the Mexico side, we just close the border,” he repeated. “And we have a very powerful border. We built a very strong border in a very short period of time.”

[Mediaite]

President Trump signs order denying asylum to illegal border crossers

President Donald Trump on Friday invoked extraordinary national security powers to deny asylum to migrants who enter the country illegally, tightening the border as caravans of Central Americans slowly approach the United States.

Trump is using the same powers he used to push through a version of the travel ban that was upheld by the Supreme Court. The proclamation puts into place regulations adopted Thursday that circumvent laws stating that anyone is eligible for asylum no matter how he or she enters the country.

“We need people in our country but they have to come in legally and they have to have merit,” Trump said Friday as he prepared to depart for Paris.

The measures are meant to funnel asylum seekers through official border crossings for speedy rulings, officials said, instead of having them try to circumvent such crossings on the nearly 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border. But the busy ports of entry already have long lines and waits, forcing immigration officials to tell some migrants to turn around and come back to make their claims.

The move was spurred in part by caravans of Central American migrants slowly moving north on foot but will apply to anyone caught crossing illegally, officials said Thursday. It’s unknown whether those in the caravan, many fleeing violence in their homeland, plan to cross illegally.

Administration officials said those denied asylum under the proclamation may be eligible for similar forms of protection if they fear returning to their countries, though they would be subject to a tougher threshold. Those forms of protection include “withholding of removal” — which is similar to asylum, but doesn’t allow for green cards or bringing families — or asylum under the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

The announcement was the latest push to enforce Trump’s hardline stance on immigration through regulatory changes and presidential orders, bypassing Congress. But those efforts have been largely thwarted by legal challenges and, in the case of family separations this year, stymied by a global outcry that prompted Trump to scrap them.

The new changes were likely to be met with legal challenges, too. Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said Thursday they were clearly illegal.

“U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry. It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree,” he said.

Curbing immigration has been a signature issue for Trump, who pushed it hard in the days leading up to Tuesday’s midterm elections, railing against the caravans that are still hundreds of miles from the border.

He has made little mention of the issue since the election but has sent troops to the border in response. As of Thursday, there are more than 5,600 U.S. troops deployed to the border mission, with about 550 actually working on the border in Texas. The military is expected to have the vast majority of the more than 7,000 troops planned for the mission deployed by Monday, and that number could grow.

Trump also suggested he’d revoke the right to citizenship for babies born to non-U.S. citizens on American soil and erect massive “tent

The administration has long said immigration officials are drowning in asylum cases partly because people falsely claim asylum and then live in the U.S. with work permits.

The asylum section of the Immigration and Nationality Act says a migrant is allowed to make a claim up to a year after arriving in the U.S., and it doesn’t matter how they arrive — illegally or through a border crossing.

Migrants who cross illegally are generally arrested and often seek asylum or some other form of protection. Claims have spiked in recent years, and there is a backlog of more than 800,000 cases pending in immigration court. Generally, only about 20 percent of applicants are approved.

Trump has long said those seeking asylum should come through legal ports of entry. But many migrants are unaware of that guidance, and official border crossings have grown clogged.

Officials have turned away asylum seekers at border crossings because of overcrowding, telling them to return later. Backlogs have become especially bad in recent months at crossings in California, Arizona and Texas, with some people waiting five weeks to try to claim asylum at San Diego’s main crossing.

In 2017, the U.S. fielded more than 330,000 asylum claims, nearly double the number two years earlier and surpassing Germany as highest in the world.

It’s unclear how many people en route to the U.S. will even make it to the border. About 4,800 migrants are sheltered in a sports complex in Mexico City, some 600 miles from the U.S. border. Several smaller groups were trailing hundreds of miles to the south; officials estimated about 7,000 in all were in the country in the caravans. The migrants are largely poor people and many say they’re fleeing violence; more than 1,700 were children under 18, and more than 300 were children under age 5.

Similar caravans have gathered regularly over the years and have generally dwindled by the time they reach the southern border. Most have passed largely unnoticed.

[Chicago Tribune]

Trump Says He Told U.S. Military at Border to ‘Consider it a Rifle’ if Migrants Throw Rocks

During an address on immigration from the White House on Thursday, President Donald Trump took questions from the press.

At one point, in response to a question from a reporter about if he would foresee a situation where the military may fire on the Central American migrants making their way to the border, he said that the United States military will consider a rock held in the hands of migrants the same as a firearm.

“I will tell you this, anybody throwing stones, rocks, like they did to Mexico and the Mexican military, Mexican police, where they badly hurt police and soldiers of Mexico, we will consider that a firearm,” Trump said. “Because there’s not much difference. When you get hit in the face with a rock, which as you know, that was very violent a few days ago. Very, very violent.”

Then a little while later he doubled down, saying that he considers a rock like a rifle: “They’re throwing rocks, viciously, and violently. You saw that three days ago. Really hurting the military. We’re not going to put up with that. They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back. We’re gonna consider, and I told them consider it a rifle. When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police, I say consider it a rifle.”

Just one week ago, in an interview with Fox News, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen downplayed the possibility of the US military opening fire on the migrants, saying, “We do not have any intention right now to shoot at people…They will be apprehended, however.”

[Mediaite]

Trump: ‘I am bringing out the military’ to stop border crossings

President Trump said in an early morning tweet on Thursday that he is “bringing out the military” to secure the border with Mexico, calling it a “National Emergency.”

“Brandon Judd of the National Border Patrol Council is right when he says on @foxandfriends that the Democrat inspired laws make it tough for us to stop people at the Border,” Trump tweeted. “MUST BE CHANDED [sic], but I am bringing out the military for this National Emergency. They will be stopped!”

Trump tweeted last week that he would use the military to stop a caravan of migrants from Central America, which has reportedly swelled beyond 7,500, if Mexico did not stop it.

“I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught — and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!” Trump tweeted.

He said Wednesday night at a rally in Wisconsin that the “military are ready” to help secure the border against the caravan, according to NBC News.

The Mexican ambassador to the U.S., Gerónimo Gutiérrez, said Monday that Mexico will continue to work to halt illegal immigration into its country and work with the Trump administration to block the caravan from passing into the U.S.

Pentagon spokesman Capt. Bill Speaks told The Hill that the military is working through the logistics and is monitoring the situation at the border closely.

“At this time, I can only confirm that the Department of Defense continues to monitor events along the Southwest U.S. border, including the status of the migrant caravan heading north through Mexico,” Speaks wrote in an email.

“We anticipate receiving a request for assistance (RFA) from the Department of Homeland Security and are currently working with DHS to determine the specifics of our support to Customs and Border Protection (CBP).”

[The Hill]

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