US cracking down on citizenship for hundreds of Hispanics along border

The Trump administration is reportedly accusing hundreds of Hispanics living along the U.S.-Mexico border of having fraudulent birth certificates, stripping some of their passports and throwing their citizenship into question.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that cases it examined and interviews with immigration attorneys suggest a dramatic increase in immigration enforcement and a decrease in the number of passports issued by the U.S.

Some passport applicants with official U.S. birth certificates are being jailed in detention facilities as they await immigration proceedings, while others have had their passports revoked when they tried to reenter the U.S., The Post reported.

The newspaper did not say exactly how many people the U.S. appears to be investigating for allegedly having fraudulent birth certificates. The Post reported that the administration “is accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands.”

A State Department official told The Hill in a statement that the agency “has not changed policy or practice regarding the adjudication of passport applications.”

“There are numerous reasons why a customer may be asked to provide additional documentation or information. The burden of proving one’s identity and citizenship falls on the applicant for a U.S. passport regardless of where the application was submitted,” the official said.

The official said that “the U.S.-Mexico border region happens to be an area of the country where there has been a significant incidence of citizenship fraud.”

The U.S. government has alleged that fraud is sometimes perpetrated by midwives and other birth attendants who sell legal birth certificates to children born in Mexico.

“This fraud is often documented through convictions, plea agreements, and confessions by midwives, mothers, and other family members,” the State Department official said.

According to The Post, the State Department under former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama investigated people who had been delivered by midwives in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley based on a 1993 case in which a midwife pleaded guilty to selling Texas birth certificates to parents of children born in Mexico.

After the government settled in a case involving the American Civil Liberties Union in 2009, the number of passport denials dropped off, according to The Post.

Now, the government is apparently denying passports to those it suspects of having fraudulent birth certificates at an increasing rate, regardless of whether they were delivered by midwives, the newspaper reported.

The State Department official emphasized that “the standard for determining whether a person is entitled to a passport, regardless of whether the person was born in a home, hospital, or with the assistance of a doctor or midwife, is the same. The applicant must demonstrate through a preponderance of evidence that he or she was born in the United States.”

“Applicants who have birth certificates filed by a midwife or other birth attendant suspected of having engaged in fraudulent activities, as well as applicants who have both a U.S. and foreign birth certificate, are asked to provide additional documentation establishing they were born in the United States,” they added.

“Individuals who are unable to demonstrate that they were born in the United States are denied issuance of a passport,” the official said. “The Department’s determination in such cases affects only the passport, and not citizenship status, of the applicant.”

[The Hill]

Trump Reaffirms Praise For Gov’t Response to Puerto Rico as Death Toll Updated to 2,975: ‘Fantastic Job’

President Donald Trump responded to the new shocking death toll in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria last year by saying the government “did a fantastic job.”

The new toll, which was found by researchers at George Washington University who were commissioned by Puerto Rico, raised deaths caused by the disaster from 64 to just below 2,975.

“I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico. We’re still helping Puerto Rico. The governor is an excellent guy, he’s very happy with the job we’ve done,” Trump told reporters today. “We’ve put billions and billions of dollars into Puerto Rico, and it was a very tough one.”

He continued by saying that “we’ve put a lot of money and a lot of effort into Puerto Rico” and added that he thinks “most of the people in Puerto Rico really appreciate what we’ve done.”

The comments echoed what Trump has said in the past about the US territory, as he infamously bragged just days after the storm that only “16 people [died] verses in the thousands,” which he claimed was good compared to “a real catastrophe like Katrina.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement of her own after the new death toll came out this week, saying, “The President remains proud of all of the work the Federal family undertook to help our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Slams Democrats Over Mollie Tibbetts Death: Their Policies Are ‘Spilling Very Innocent Blood’

Speaking at an Ohio Republican State Party fundraiser in Columbus Friday evening, President Donald Trump invoked the death of Mollie Tibbetts to slam Democrats on immigration.

Shortly after saying the Republican party “stands strongly behind ICE,” Trump then brought up how “they charged an illegal alien in the murder of a college student Mollie Tibbetts.

“Everybody loved her. Everybody that met her loved her,” Trump said. “And the father was saying she’s coming back, she’s coming back… This went on for a long time. When they found out that it was this horrible, illegal immigrant that viciously killed her, all of a sudden that story went down. They didn’t want to cover it the way it should have been covered. But what happened to Mollie was a disgrace.”

He added “Our hearts go out. We mourn for Mollie’s family.”

Tibbetts family has said publicly they do not want her death politicized.

Yet, Trump did not stop at Tibbetts’ tragedy to make his point.

He then mentioned the death of an elderly homeless woman in New York City who was allegedly beaten to death by an undocumented immigrant who Trump said “was not supposed to be in this country” and a rape of a young child in the “sanctuary city” of Philadelphia also allegedly at the hands of an illegal immigrant.

“Democrat immigration policies are destroying innocent lives and spilling very innocent blood,” he concluded. “We believe that any party that puts criminal aliens before American citizens should be voted out of office, not into office.”

The audience applauded.

[Mediaite]

Trump introduces Border Patrol agent: He ‘speaks perfect English’

President Donald Trump wanted to congratulate Border Patrol agent Adrian Anzaldua, who the president proclaimed had saved 78 lives a little over a week ago after he arrested a human smuggler.

But Trump stepped on his own message when he announced on national television that Anzaldua, whose last name the president didn’t attempt to pronounce, could speak “perfect English.”

Trump has a history of making assumptions about people based on their ethnic backgrounds, including claiming a U.S.-born judge couldn’t be impartial because of his Mexican heritage. His commentary on the language skills of a man with a Spanish-sounding last name seemed to fit that pattern.

Trump said at the event honoring members of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Custom and Border Protection that Anzaldua had caught a smuggler who was holding 78 undocumented immigrants inside a trailer, which the president called “horrible.” He praised Anzaldua for saving their lives.

“The border patrol agent who caught the accused and likely really saved many lives, he’s here with us. And Adrian, where is Adrian? Adrian is here with us,” the president said. “Thank you, Adrian. Great job. Thank you. It’s a lot of lives.”

The president then invited Anzaldua to the podium to describe the incident.

“Come here, you’re not nervous, right? Speaks perfect English,” Trump said to Anzaldua.

“Come here, I want to ask you about that, 78 lives. You saved 78 people,” Trump continued. “So how did you feel that there were people in that trailer? There’s a lot of trailers around. Please.”

Anzaldua, who wore a giant smile as he stood next to the president, said the trailer was flagged after the vehicle eluded a checkpoint in Texas.

Anzaldua said after the vehicle was stopped, he ran out with a patrol canine and conducted a non-intrusive search of the vehicle.

“I opened the little latch of the back of the tractor trailer and revealed a lot of subjects,” Anzaldua said. “I quickly asked for backup, and backup got there, and the subjects were transported back to…the checkpoint, and all of them were in good health.”

Trump seemed pleased with Anzaldua’s retelling of the encounter.

“What a good job he did. What a good job,” he said. “Tomorrow he will be announcing that he’s running for office.”

Trump has been criticized over his immigration policies, including a “zero tolerance” approach toward people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border that resulted in thousands of parents and children being separated. While the administration has taken steps to reunite families, there are still about 550 children who were separated from their parents in custody with the Department of Health and Human Services.

[Politico]

Trump calls for deporting migrants ‘immediately’ without a trial

President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday morning that the U.S. “Cannot accept all of the people trying to break into our Country” and called for migrants to be “immediately” deported without a trial.

“When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came,” he said. His tweet did not mention people coming to the U.S. to seek asylum, which is legal to do.

Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order,” he said, adding in another tweet that legal entry to the country should be based on “merit.”

Immigration advocates pushed back on the comments. “What President Trump has suggested here is both illegal and unconstitutional. Any official who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws should disavow it unequivocally,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

Late Saturday night, the Trump administration released a “fact sheet” noting more than 2,000 children have yet to be reunited with their parents and revealing some details about the reunification process.

[NBC News]

Corey Lewandowski Mocks Disabled Migrant Girl Who Was Separated From Parents: ‘Womp Womp’

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski mocked a story about a migrant child with down syndrome who was taken from her mother by mimicking sad trombone noises and saying “womp womp.”

Democratic strategist Zac Petkanas, who was debating Lewandowski on the issue of undocumented migrant families being split apart by border officials, fiercely responded: “How dare you. How absolutely dare you, sir.”

When Lewandowski responded by falsely claiming the policy existed under the Obama administration, Petkanas fact checked him.

“This policy was not done during the administration,” the strategist said. “You are now lying about this policy, in addition to just saying, ‘womp, womp.’”

Petkanas continued:

“The difference now is they are accompanied minors, but the Trump Administration is forcibly making them unaccompanied minors when they take them from their parents and put them in cages. And we have members of the Trump team who are going wah wah when you learn about the stories — the horror that is going on down at the border.”

Lewandowski replied by arguing that “coming across the border illegally is a crime,” and criminals get separated from their children when they go to jail, therefore migrant kids should be taken from their parents too.

[Mediaite]

Trump Explains That “You Have to Take the Children Away” in Unhinged Speech to Small-Business Owners

In a defensive and rambling speech in which the president was clearly venting frustration over the rising tide of bipartisan outrage over the policy that separates migrant families, Donald Trump told an audience of small-business owners a series of falsehoods and dramatic, fear-mongering warnings as he doubled down on his now familiar justifications for child separation.

While reserving blame for the Democrats (who, he said, support “open borders” because they consider MS-13 gang members future Democrat voters and who forced this outcome by building loopholes in the immigration laws) and Mexico (“They do nothing for us”), Trump still seemed to take some ownership of the policy, justifying it as a necessary step in protecting the border. “When you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away,” he said.

The speech, delivered to the National Federation of Independent Businesses on Tuesday, dealt much more with immigration than with small-business issues, as Trump has appeared to become increasingly agitated in the face of both Democrats and Republicanscalling his administration’s policy cruel and inhumane.

But the president did deliver a strange set of remarks about trade and tariffs, with a warning to Canada that its tariffs are too high, meaning “we’re treated horribly.” He shared a strange example:

The tariffs to get common items back into Canada are so high that they have to smuggle them in. They buy shoes, then they wear them. They scuff them up. They make them sound old or look old.

It’s unclear where he pulled this anecdote from. He concluded, “No, we have to change our ways. We can no longer be the stupid country. We want to be the smart country.”

But the president’s most inflammatory statements came when he spoke about Central American migrants, who, in one of his more fearmongering speeches, he described as violent people, often either bringing gang violence to the country or trafficking children. Some highlights from the speech:

People that come in violate the law, they endanger their children in the process, and frankly, they endanger all of our children. You see what happens with MS-13 where your sons and daughters are attacked violently. Kids that never even heard of such a thing are being attacked violently. Not with guns but with knives because it’s much more painful.

And remember, these countries that we give tremendous foreign aid to in many cases, they send these people up, and they’re not sending their finest. Does that sound familiar? Remember I made that speech and I was badly criticized? ‘Oh, that’s so terrible what he said.’ It turned out I was 100 percent right. That’s why I got elected.

Trump also cited some false or misleading facts in his speech to bolster his anti-immigrant views, including his assertion that since Germany began accepting a large number of refugees, the country’s crime has increased by 10 percent. Germany’s crime levels are actually at a 25-year low.

Trump also portrayed migrants as savvy and able to hire lawyers who tell them exactly what to say to be released, allowing them to leave and never return for their court date. In reality, many asylum-seekers are left to navigate the asylum process without the help of any legal counsel, and a significant percentage do return for their hearing.

And he rambled about the large number of judges “they” want at the border. It’s unclear who he was saying wanted “thousands and thousands” of judges, though Ted Cruz has said he would increase the number of judges in his proposed immigration plan.

And he finally made a promise that he would withhold aid from the migrants’ home countries:

Hundreds of millions of dollars we give to some of these countries, and they send them up. Well, I’m going to go very shortly for authorization that when countries abuse us by sending their people up – not their best – we’re not going to give any more aid to those countries. Why the hell should we?

And for a little personal color in his attack on Democrats, who, he said, did a terrible job of letting people know what they stood for, he said his opposing party united around an anti-Trump message which, essentially, was too mean. “I used to go home, I started disliking myself,” he said. “It’s true. I said, man, am I that bad?”

Trump also hit some of his other traditional points. He boasted about the economy. He bragged about his election, “a beautiful thing.” And he threw in accusations that the “fake news” media were actively aiding criminals: “They are helping these smugglers and these traffickers like nobody would believe,” he said. “They know it, they know exactly what they’re doing, and it should be stopped.”

[Slate]

Media

 

Trump Says Democrats Want Immigrants to ‘Infest’ the U.S.

One of the paradoxes of modern-day American politics is that white identity politics can be a potent political platform, as long as you don’t call it that. Policies with racist effects are often popular; explicit racism is verboten.

Thus Donald Trump can win the presidency while running, as my colleague Adam Serwer documented, on a program of discrimination, but when Corey Stewart, a Republican politician in Virginia, makes his white-identity politics too explicit he gets shunned by the GOP.

Sometimes, however, the president’s mask slips, usually at moments of national crisis, and he says the quiet part loud, as The Simpsons memorably put it. This happened after race riots in Charlottesville, when Trump insisted there were good people among the white-supremacist marchers. And it’s happening again now in the context of separating families at the borders.

After days of insisting, falsely, that the separations were the result of some Democratic-passed law, the president has partially shifted gears, defending the policy in a series of tweets. The most shocking is this one, with its description of unauthorized immigrants as an “infestation”:

[The Atlantic]

Trump Defends His Family Separation Policy, Blames Democrats: ‘The US Will Not Be a Migrant Camp’

President Donald Trump turned a White House meeting with the National Space Council into a presser on his administration’s migrant children controversy on Monday. The president continued to falsely blame Democrats for the policy that separates kids from their parents and declared that the US will not become “a migrant camp.”

“Immigration is the fault and all of the problem we are having because we can not get them to sign legislation, we cannot even get them to negotiate to the table. And I say this very strongly: it’s the democrats fault,” Trump said. “The U.S. will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility, it wont be.”

He went on to claim that if the left side of the aisle would “sit down instead of obstructing, we could have something done very quickly” about the migrant situation.

Trump continued discussing the child migrant separation policy by saying: “We’re stuck with these horrible laws. What’s happening is so sad. And it can be taken care of quickly beautifully and we’ll have safety.”

[Mediaite]

Media

Trump threatened to send 25 million Mexicans to Japan

Donald Trump threatened Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe he would ship 25 million Mexicans to his country, one of a series of bizarre missives that jarred fellow leaders at last week’s acrimonious G7 meet, according to a report on Friday.

The Group of Seven summit gathering of top industrialized democracies finished in disarray after the US president abruptly rejected its consensus statement and bitterly attacked Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Behind the scenes, Trump’s counterparts were dismayed by verbal jabs on topics ranging from trade to terrorism and migration, The Wall Street Journal said, quoting European officials who were present.

At one point he described migration as a big problem for Europe then said to Abe: “Shinzo, you don’t have this problem, but I can send you 25 million Mexicans and you’ll be out of office very soon,” creating a sense of irritation in the room, according to an EU official.

The source added that when the topic turned to Iran and terrorism, Trump took aim at French President Emmanuel Macron, saying: “You must know about this, Emmanuel, because all the terrorists are in Paris.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also came under fire and was repeatedly described by Trump as a “brutal killer” in reference to the bloc’s antitrust and tax fines against US tech companies that have run into billions of dollars.

Bitter differences over trade dominated the summit hosted by Canada, with leaders of the world’s largest economies lining up against Trump’s threats to impose stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

After rejecting the joint statement, Trump and his top aides assailed Trudeau, accusing him of dishonesty and betrayal.

Trump on Friday rejected reports of discord, blaming the “Fake News Media” on Twitter for portraying a false picture while posting several photos of himself appearing to get along well with fellow G7 leaders.

[Yahoo]

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