Trump sending ‘500 migrants a month’ to Florida Democratic strongholds

President Donald Trump‘s plans to send potentially hundreds of undocumented immigrants each month to the Democratic strongholds of Broward and Palm Beach counties ignited a torrent of criticism from local Florida officials who called the move political.

“The blatant politics, sending them to the two most Democratic Counties in the state of Florida, is ridiculous,” said state Sen. Gary Farmer, a Democrat who represents portions of Broward County. “You can’t make this stuff up.”

Broward County officials described the plans Thursday in a press release, saying the Trump administration plans to release asylum seekers caught along the southern U.S. border into the county. A month earlier, Trump floated the idea of shipping undocumented immigrants to sanctuary cities that limit their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. Neither Palm Beach nor Broward counties fit that description, but politically they’re enemy territory for Trump and Republicans.

“That is so typically Trump,” Farmer said. “When the facts don’t fit the narrative, you slightly adjust the narrative.”

Broward County state Rep. Evan Jenne, opposed the move but said the county will do what it can to help those sent its way.

“He has been threatening this for a while, and I’m sure his voters will think it’s a great idea,” said Jenne (D-Dania Beach). “We will do what we can to help them, I’m sure with no help from the federal government.”

Jenne called the Trump policy a form of “fiscal punishment,” a sentiment shared by other regional officials.

A statement from Broward County said Trump “has threatened to send people who illegally cross the border to communities that are considered immigrant friendly.”

“This is a humanitarian crisis. We will do everything possible to help these people,” Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen, a Democrat, said in the statement. “If the President will not provide us with financial assistance to house and feed these people, he will be creating a homeless encampment.”

Adding to the political intrigue, the Trump administration has not said whether it will send immigrants to the state’s most-populous county that’s also a liberal bastion — Miami-Dade, which has Florida’s largest Spanish-speaking and foreign-born population.

Miami-Dade has a large base of support for Trump among Cuban-Americans, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, a Republican and early backer of some of the president’s detention policies. The mayor’s son has also lobbied for Trump in prior years.

Immigration and Border Patrol spokesperson Kaitlyn Pote referred questions to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which did not respond to requests for comment.

Rubio said the counties will be getting a big influx of undocumented immigrants from the border.

“Unlawful arrivals are overwhelming our system,” Rubio wrote on Twitter. “Now I have just been informed by #PalmBeach Sheriff that starting next week Border Patrol will begin transporting 500 migrants a month from border to #Broward & PalmBeach #Florida, & releasing them pending an asylum hearing.”

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), said he has reached out to the White House and DHS to get additional information. He said Democrats “refuse to help fix” the federal immigration policy.

“There were almost 99,000 apprehensions at the southern border in April, more than double the number of apprehensions in January,” Scott spokesperson Chris Hartline said. “It’s a crisis and needs to be fixed.”

Bogen, the Broward mayor, suggested a place to house the hundreds of undocumented immigrants: Trump-owned properties.

“In my opinion, the people that we can’t find shelter for and will become homeless, I would suggest that we bring them to the Trump hotels and ask the President to open his heart and home as well,” Bogen said.

During Florida’s recently-adjourned legislative session, one of the most divisive issues was legislation outlawing sanctuary cities. Democrats and immigration activists flooded the Capitol in protest, but the bill easily passed the Legislature and is supported by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a longtime Trump political ally.

In a statement after the bill cleared the Legislature, DeSantis said he would sign the proposal.

“We are a stronger state when we protect our residents, foster safer communities and respect the work of law enforcement at every level,” he said.

[Politico]

Former DHS officials blocked Trump plan to arrest thousands of migrants before being ousted

Former leaders at the Department of Homeland Security, including then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, pushed back on a White House plan for mass arrests of migrants shortly before their ouster, according to The Washington Post.

The Trump administration had planned to arrest thousands of parents and children in 10 major U.S. cities to deter further migrants, the Post reported, citing seven current and former DHS officials. The plan involved fast-tracking immigration court cases and expanding the government’s authority to deport migrants who did not show for their hearings. Arrests of the no-shows would involve coordinated raids of the homes and neighborhoods of parents with children, according to the Post.

Nielsen and then-acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Ronald Vitiello put a stop to the plan, citing lack of preparation by ICE personnel and public relations concerns, according to the Post.

“There was concern that it was being hastily put together, would be ineffective, and might actually backfire by misdirecting resources away from critical border emergency response operations,” one DHS official told the Post.

Major boosters of the plan within the administration included senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Deputy Director Matthew Albence. The plan, which is reportedly still under consideration, incorporated cities including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, according to the Post.

The two officials’ pushback was a major factor in their ouster, according to the Post, citing administration officials. When Trump announced the withdrawal of Vitiello’s nomination as ICE director in April, he expressed a desire to go in a “tougher” direction without further elaborating.

“Both he and Nielsen instinctively thought it was bad policy and that the proposal was less than half-baked,” a DHS official told the Post.

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

[The Hill]

Trump says US is sending immigrants to sanctuary cities: ‘That was my sick idea’

President Trump said late Saturday that the U.S. is already sending immigrants to sanctuary cities and that it was his “sick idea.” 

“Last month alone, 100,000 illegal immigrants arrived at our borders, placing a massive strain on communities and schools and hospitals and public resources like nobody’s ever seen before,” Trump said during a rally in Green Bay, Wis. “Now we’re sending many of them to sanctuary cities. Thank you very much. They’re not too happy about it. I’m proud to tell you that was actually my sick idea.”

“What did they say? ‘We want them,'” Trump continued. “I said we’ll give em to you.”

The comments came just a day after Trump said in a speech to the National Rifle Association that the U.S. was forced to release migrants and that it gave sanctuary cities “as many as they can handle,” according to CNN

The Washington Post first reportedearlier this month that Trump administration officials had floated the idea to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The administration had reportedly unsuccessfully tried to persuade DHS to release thousands of detainees in small and midsize cities that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities. 

The move was reportedly meant to put pressure on Democratic lawmakers. 

Trump said in a tweet on April 12 that his administration was actively considering the move. 

“The USA has the absolute legal right to have apprehended illegal immigrants transferred to Sanctuary Cities,” he wrote in a separate tweet on April 13. “We hereby demand that they be taken care of at the highest level, especially by the State of California, which is well known or its poor management & high taxes!”

DHS has made no formal announcement related to sending migrants to sanctuary cities or Trump’s statement. 

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

[The Hill]

Trump threatens to send ‘gang members’ and ‘human traffickers’ to sanctuary cities in latest immigration meltdown

President Donald Trump again threatened to send asylum seekers to sanctuary cities.

“Democrats must change the immigration laws fast,” Trump demanded, despite nothing being done during the two years of his presidency that Republicans controlled both houses of Congress.

Trump then branded immigrants as “criminals of all shapes.”

“If not, sanctuary cities must immediately act to take care of the illegal immigrants – and this includes gang members, drug dealers, human traffickers, and criminals of all shapes, sizes and kinds,” Trump continued.

“Change the laws now,” he demanded.

[Raw Story]

Trump Bashes NY Times for Making Him Look Bad: ‘In 6 Years They Will Be Gone’

Back from his round of golf with Tiger Woods, President Donald Trumptook to Twitter on Saturday evening to bash the New York Times for being corrupt after running a story about sanctuary cities.

“The New York Times Sanctuary Cities/Immigration story today was knowingly wrong on almost every fact. They never call to check for truth. Their sources often don’t even exist, a fraud. They will lie & cheat anyway possible to make me look bad. In 6 years they will be gone,” Trump wrote.

He also insisted that the paper had to beg subscribers for forgiveness after botching coverage of the 2016 election.

“When I won the Election in 2016, the @nytimes had to beg their fleeing subscribers for forgiveness in that they covered the Election (and me) so badly,” Trump wrote. “They didn’t have a clue, it was pathetic. They even apologized to me. But now they are even worse, really corrupt reporting!”

Trump, by the way, doesn’t exactly have his facts right. The New York Timesactually reported that they had a “Trump bump” as a result of the election.

Here is the report from November 2018 (emphasis mine):

More than three million paid digital-only subscribers. More than four million total.

The New York Times Company announced on Thursday that it surpassed those milestones during the third quarter of 2018, when the number of its digital subscribers showed a net increase of roughly 203,000.

That was the highest gain in digital subscribers in a quarter since the so-called Trump bump in the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 after the presidential election.

[Mediaite]

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]

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