Trump uses Egypt attack to plug border wall, immigration restrictions

In denouncing the terror attack on a mosque in Egypt, President Trump on Friday renewed his calls for for tighter immigration screening in the U.S, and a wall along the border with Mexico.

Trump said he would Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi “to discuss the tragic terrorist attack, with so much loss of life,” adding on Twitter: “We have to get TOUGHER AND SMARTER than ever before, and we will. Need the WALL, need the BAN! God bless the people of Egypt.”

Egyptian state media reported that at least 235 people died and more than 130 were injured during an attack on a Sufi mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai region, the deadliest attack ever on Egyptian civilians by Islamic militants.

Earlier Friday, Trump tweeted: “Horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenseless worshipers in Egypt. The world cannot tolerate terrorism, we must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence!”

In a readout after the call, the White House said Trump offered his condolences to the people of Egypt after the “heinous attack” on worshippers. Trump “reiterated that the United States will continue to stand with Egypt in the face of terrorism,” the statement said. “The international community cannot tolerate barbaric terrorist groups and must strengthen its efforts to defeat terrorism and extremism in all its forms.”

Trump has used previous terror attacks to promote immigration restrictions that are the subject of many political and legal disputes.

The administration’s proposed ban on immigration from six Muslim majority countries has faced a number of legal challenges. And congressional Democrats have moved to block funding for the proposed wall on the nation’s southern border.

Democrats said the nation has long screened immigrants in an effort to block potential terrorists, and they have accused Trump of making his proposals to keep Muslims and Hispanics out of the United States.

[USA Today]

Reality

Trump proposes a border wall with Mexico to keep out Egyptians and a Muslim ban that does not include Egypt as solutions to prevent terrorism after a terror attack at a mosque in Egypt.

Trump’s Latest Post-London Tweet Storm Didn’t Wait For the Facts

Even as British police were still sorting out exactly what had happened in the London Underground on Friday morning, President Donald Trump was using the incident to prove a point.

“Another attack in London by a loser terrorist.” he tweeted. “These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!” Added Trump: “The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!”

The travel ban, of course, is Trump’s executive order aimed at blocking people from six majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States, a necessary step in combating terrorism, according to the President. But, at least in the early stages of this London investigation, there is no evidence to suggest where the attackers hailed from or what their motives were. All we know, according to British police, is that it is being investigated as a terrorist incident.

Asked about Trump’s tweet that the London tube attack was perpetrated by people known to the security services, British Prime Minister Theresa May said it is “never helpful for anyone to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation.”

Trump’s willingness to jump to conclusions about the London incident stands in stark contrast to his defense of his unwillingness to fully condemn the white supremacists and neo-Nazis behind the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month.

Trump, who initially (and repeatedly) said that there were violent people on both sides in Charlottesville, attributed that response to a desire to gather all the facts before offering an opinion. (Yes, I know this doesn’t make a ton of logical sense.)

“I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement,” Trump explained to reporters. “The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement. But you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts.”

It’s impossible to square “you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts” to what Trump did Friday morning in regard to the London attack.
What’s clear from a look at the way Trump has responded to a series of high-profile incidents — primarily terror attacks — since being elected President is that he is more than willing to leap on them well before all the facts are known if they reinforce something he already believes. If they go against his views, he is far less willing to do so.

The London attack Friday morning is, to Trump, yet more evidence of the existential threat posed by terrorism — and proof of how politicians obsessed with political correctness refuse to properly acknowledge that threat. (Remember that Trump blasted London Mayor Sadiq Khan back in June for allegedly underselling the threat of terrorism.)

History has shown that Trump is ready and willing to seize on any bit of evidence that proves his point on terrorism — whether or not that evidence actually proves his point on terrorism. In the immediate aftermath of an incident in the Philippines in June, Trump noted that “it is really pretty sad what is going on throughout the world with terror.” It turned out that the Philippines event was a robbery, not a terror incident.

By contrast, Charlottesville was not in Trump’s belief wheelhouse. Because of his suspicion of the mainstream media and what he believes to be the cult of political correctness, his instincts in the wake of the violence was to avoid jumping to the conclusion that the blame lay with the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who had gathered to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. That, in Trump’s mind, was the story the media wanted you to believe; he was convinced there was more to it.

Of course, there really wasn’t — despite Trump’s ongoing attempts to prove that he was right all along and that “both sides” were violent.

In short: Trump is more than willing to jump to conclusions when he can comfortably fit an incident like what happened in London this morning into his existing world view.

It’s a selective outrage. And Trump deploys it very, very selectively.

[CNN]

Reality

Even as British police were still sorting out exactly what had happened in the London Underground on Friday morning, Donald Trump was using the incident to prove a point that we should bar Muslims from entering the United States.

Now contrast Trump’s rush to judgement over the possibility of an Islamic terror attack with his comments after Charlottesville last month were Nazis killed and injured protesters. Trump refused to condemn, or even mention white supremacy, instead claiming he needs to wait for the facts to come in.

Trump: I am calling it a ‘TRAVEL BAN!’

President Trump early Monday made clear the intent of a blocked executive order on immigration now being appealed to the Supreme Court.

“People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!” he tweeted.

Trump also said in a series of tweets that the Department of Justice (DOJ) should have fought for his original order, instead of the “watered down, politically correct version” submitted to the Supreme Court.

He said the DOJ should ask for an expedited Supreme Court hearing for the “watered down Travel Ban” and then seek a “much tougher version.”

Trump in his final tweet on the subject said his administration is “EXTREME VETTING” people now coming into the U.S.

“The courts are slow and political!” he added.

Administration officials had rejected the characterization of Trump’s executive order as a travel ban, instead saying it was a vetting system to keep America safe.

Trump over the weekend reignited the debate over the topic following a London terror attack in which seven people were killed and almost 50 others injured.

In a tweet on Saturday, Trump renewed his call for the courts to approve his revised executive order, which would temporarily bar nationals from six predominately Muslim countries from entering the U.S. and suspend the acceptance of refugees for 120 days.

“We need to be smart, vigilant and tough,” Trump said. “We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!”

The Trump administration issued its original travel ban in January. That order, which was blocked by the courts, was met with backlash and protests across the country.

The president then issued a revised ban in March aimed at defusing the controversy and defeating court challenges.

Last week, the Trump administration appealed lower-court decisions to block the revised ban to the Supreme Court.

In a statement last week, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said the department had “asked the Supreme Court to hear this important case and [is] confident that President Trump’s executive order is well within his lawful authority to keep the nation safe and protect our communities from terrorism.”

“The president is not required to admit people from countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism,” the statement said, “until he determines that they can be properly vetted and do not pose a security risk to the United States.”

Over the weekend, some Republicans echoed the president’s renewed calls for his travel ban following the London attack, while other lawmakers appeared to disagree with Trump and instead called for inclusion and community.

[The Hill]

 

 

US Approves Social Media Background Checks for Visa Applicants

The U.S. is buttressing its paperwork walls with new requirements for social media disclosures as part of revised visa applications.

Reported by Reuters earlier today, the decision from the U.S. government’s Office of Management and Budget was made over strenuous objections from education and academic groups during a public comment period.

The new questionnaire will ask for social media handles dating back over the last five years and biographical information dating back 15 years.

For critics, the new questionnaire represents yet another obstacle that the government is putting in the path of potential immigrants, would-be students and qualified researchers and teachers that may otherwise want to come to the United States.

Check out the new visa questionnaire here.

Quoting an unnamed State Department official, Reuters reported that the additional information would only be requested when the department determines that “such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting.”

In an earlier Reuters report, the news service quoted an immigration attorney railing against the new procedures:

“What this language effectively does is give the consular posts permission to step away from the focused factors they have spent years developing and revising, and instead broaden the search to large groups based on gross factors such as nationality and religion,” Gairson said.

[TechCrunch]

Trump Refused to Turn Over Giuliani Travel Ban Memo by Court-Ordered Deadline

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Saturday blasted President Trump for ignoring a court order demand to release a memo drafted under former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s guidance that outlined a plan to implement a travel ban without making it seem as if it was directly aimed at Muslims.

A federal judge in Detroit ordered the Trump administration to turn over the memo by May 19, according to reports. The ACLU said Saturday that Trump did not meet the deadline on Friday.

“If, as the administration claims, the Executive Order is not a Muslim Ban, then why is the administration refusing to turn over the Giuliani memo? What is in that document that the government doesn’t want the court to see?” Miriam Aukerman, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Michigan, said in a statement.

The ACLU along with Arab American Civil Rights League (ACRL) challenged the president’s travel ban on nationals from several Muslim-majority countries in federal court earlier this year.

According to the statement, both groups will not hesitate to “return to court to compel production of the memo.”

Nabih Ayad, founder of the ACRL, argued that the memo will help “shed light on the intentions behind the President’s Executive Order.”

“And if those intentions support the public statements that Mr. Giuliani made about looking for a legal explanation for a ban on Muslims, the court needs to know this,” Ayad added.

[The Hill]

DOJ Retaliating Against Immigration Lawyers Who Fought Trump’s Travel Ban

The Department of Justice is instructing lawyers to stop representing immigrants in need of legal assistance for President Donald Trump’s travel ban and for ICE deportations.

According to an investigative report from The Nation, four weeks ago the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) in Seattle received a “cease and desist” letter from the DOJ demanding they drop their clients and close down programs or face disciplinary action. The DOJ is accusing the NWIRP of requiring clients pay them and then dropping the cases after receiving the money.

The NWIRP disputes the DOJ’s accusations.

Viewers of TV crime shows are familiar with the police recitation, “You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you by the court.” Any immigrant facing deportation is not entitled to such an attorney because they haven’t technically been charged with a crime. This results in crowded immigration courts in which few defendants have attorneys.

Non-profit groups work to ensure those in the hearings have access to attorneys through volunteers at big law firms. At the same time, there are thousands of dishonest attorneys who do take money from immigrants promising to help defend them before walking off with their money. NWIRP isn’t one of those, according to The Nation, yet under Attorney General Jeff Sessions the DOJ intends to pursue a disciplinary review of them and other non-profits.

They’re not entitled to an attorney or provided with one but can accept the work of an attorney that will agree to help if the case ends up being a long one. If it’s short they’re not allowed to have any help in filling out legally binding documents. Any attorney that tries to help will be sanctioned.

NWIRP, however, has worked with immigration officials to ensure they can run programs to help people fill out forms or assist with legal proceedings with advice and explanation.

The organization has been on the frontline of fighting Trump’s travel ban with volunteer lawyers at Seattle’s SeaTac airport. There are many other groups who did the same.

Sending the cease and desist letter frightened employees volunteering for the cases and concerned the firm that they might become a target by the DOJ for other projects. If the pro-bono lawyers stop providing the service it’ll result in silencing the bar and diminishing the work of the groups providing people with important services around the U.S.

Lawyers sprang into action when airports began restricting access to citizens on planes arriving in the U.S. from countries on Trump’s ban list. Their stories dominated the news cycle and it’s assumed that Trump took offense to defying the order. Other institutions like the FBI, Justice Department, and courts all seem to be under attack, according to The Nation.

[Raw Story]

Trump Rejects Intelligence Research on Muslim Ban

The White House is dismissing a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intelligence report rebuffing President Trump’s claims that citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries pose an increased terror threat, the Wall Street Journal reported late Friday.

“The president asked for an intelligence assessment,” a senior administration official told the Journal. “This is not the intelligence assessment the president asked for.”

Trump administration officials claim that the report failed to include available evidence that supports the president’s Jan. 27 order barring citizens from Syria, Iraq, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia from entering the U.S.

That executive order was blocked by a federal appeals court earlier this month, and Trump has said he is crafting a new order that can withstand legal muster.

Acting DHS Press Secretary Gillian Christensen also challenged the agency’s report, calling it an “incomplete product.” But she said the administration’s reason for taking issue with it was not political.

“Any suggestion by opponents of the president’s policies that senior [DHS] intelligence officials would politicize this process or a report’s final conclusions is absurd and not factually accurate,” Christensen told the Journal.

“The dispute with this product was over sources and quality, not politics.”

The DHS report came after Trump reportedly asked the department to help bolster his legal case for implementing the controversial travel ban.

But the findings seemed to directly contradict the president’s key argument, saying that an individual’s citizenship is an “unlikely indicator” of the threat they pose to the U.S., according to the Associated Press.

As a presidential candidate, Trump took a hardline stance on terrorism by Islamist extremists, and often contended that the U.S. was too willing to allow people from Muslim-majority countries to enter its borders.

But his efforts to implement a travel ban on certain countries was met with sharp criticism by many, who accused it of being a de facto Muslim ban and a violation of religious freedom protections.

(h/t The Hill)

Stephen Miller Admits the New Executive Order on Immigration Ban is Same as the Old

During a town hall hosted by Fox News Tuesday night, White House adviser Stephen Miller confirmed that President Donal Trump’s new executive order — which will replace the immigration ban on seven majority-Muslim countries — will effectively have the same policy outcome.

As one of the architects of the first executive order, Miller insisted that “nothing was wrong with the first executive order” — although the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate the ban earlier this month. Miller admitted that a new order was necessary to avoid the judicial rulings from the appellate courts.

Although there will be changes in the language of the upcoming executive order, Miller said the policy outcome will remain the same.

“One of the big differences that you are going to see in the executive order is that it is going to be responsive to the judicial ruling which didn’t exist previously,” Miller said. “And so these are mostly minor, technical differences. Fundamentally, you are still going to have the same, basic policy outcome for the country.”

Critics were quick to point out that Miller had involuntarily provided civil rights organizations the material needed to challenge the order once it’s signed by the president.

Lawyers that challenged the first executive order cited former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani’s remarks on Fox News, when he said that Trump sought advice for a legal way to carry out a “Muslim ban.” Civil rights activists argued that Giuliani’s statement was evidence that the Trump administration wanted to discriminate against people of a certain religion.

Miller still believes the appellate courts’ rulings were wrong.

“The rulings from those courts were flawed, erroneous and false,” he said. “The president’s actions were clearly legal and constitutional and consistent with the longstanding tradition of presidents of the past.”

(h/t Salon)

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Non-Lawyer Stephen Miller Told US Attorney How to Defend Travel Ban, Report Says

White House aide Stephen Miller, who does not have a law degree, told a federal attorney how his office should defend the president’s controversial travel ban on seven Muslim-majority nations, The New York Daily News reports.

The executive order, signed Jan. 27, quickly faced legal challenge from non-citizens who already had visas. This included two detained Iraq men, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq and Hameed Khalid Darweesh, and their case landed in a Brooklyn federal court. A federal law enforcement official reportedly told the Daily News that on Jan. 28, Miller called up Robert Capers, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and told him how he had to defend the policy.

The Eastern District declined to comment on this report when the Daily News reached out to them. We reached out to a White House spokesperson for comment.

The federal attorneys faced a setback. In court on Jan. 28, Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Riley argued that the hearing was scheduled too soon.

“This has unfolded with such speed, we haven’t had an opportunity to address any of the important legal issues,” she said.

The judge issued a temporary stay of the order. The policy has also gotten tied up in other federal courts nationwide, so Trump has promised a new EO.

Harry Siegel, the Daily News columnist who wrote the report, wasn’t sanguine about all this.

“That’s not how it works, since the legal issues the ongoing suits raise won’t all just disappear when Trump issues a new order,” he wrote. “But it shows how hard it is to distinguish sloppiness from nastiness, clumsiness from willful disruption, in this terribly new, terribly different administration led by a President with no prior governing experience.”

His article echoes other reports that claim the Trump administration failed to inform Congress and relevant federal agencies before releasing the EO, leading to disorganization. The president has denied these reports.

“The media is trying to attack our administration because they know we are following through on pledges that we made, and they’re not happy about it, for whatever reason,” he said at a Thursday press conference. “I turn on the news and I see stories of chaos. And yet it is the exact opposite. The administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.”

(h/t LawNewz)

Update

“Stephen Miller did not speak to Robert Capers,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said Tuesday, two days after this story was published. “They have never spoken to one another.”

Trump Slams 9th Circuit Court, Which Blocked His Immigration Ban, As ‘In Chaos’

During his first solo press conference as commander-in-chief, President Donald Trump on Thursday slammed the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals as being “in chaos” and “in turmoil.” The 9th Circuit Court ruled unanimously to block Trump’s ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim nations earlier this month.

Trump vowed to appeal the court’s ruling in Thursday’s press conference; he had previously vacillated on whether his administration would issue a brand new executive order on immigration or appeal the current order all the way to the Supreme Court.

Trump has been criticized in recent weeks for his apparent attempts to undermine the American judiciary system, with his own Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch calling Trump’s repeated attacks on judges’ integrity “demoralizing.” On Thursday, Trump said he’d “heard” that 80 percent of the 9th Circuit Court’s decisions are overturned — a claim that is patently false, and which Snopes debunked here.

(h/t The Week)

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