When President Donald Trump insisted last year that America’s southern border was in crisis, his warnings landed with a thud.
Making unverified claims about “unknown Middle Easterners” and prayer rugs found by ranchers, Trump drew eye rolls from Democrats and many others, who derided his tactics as little more than an election-year stunt .
Now, six months later, Trump’s new cries of alarm are again being met with skepticism, though the situation at the border has indeed deteriorated. Lawmakers of both parties agree there is a genuine humanitarian emergency, with federal authorities and nonprofits unable to cope with the tens of thousands of Central American families seeking refuge in the U.S.
It’s a classic case of the boy who cried wolf.
No wonder the public is skeptical, says Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif. “There’s a humanitarian crisis and I think that there are steps we can take to help. Unfortunately the president has never been an honest broker about any of these solutions. He plays fast and loose with the facts.”
Trump and members of his administration have spent years blaming Democrats for failing to work with them to close what they describe as “loopholes” that encourage migrants to make the dangerous trek to the U.S. and that restrict the government’s ability to remove them once they arrive.
“Democrats in Congress must return from their Vacations and change the Immigration Laws, or the Border, despite the great job being done by Border Patrol, will only get worse,” Trump tweeted again on Wednesday.
But Democratic lawmakers and immigration activists say that, after years of incendiary comments and false starts, there is little appetite for cooperation with Trump on an issue that has vexed lawmakers for decades. The president, they say, has not only squandered potential goodwill, but also failed to demonstrate that he is genuinely interested in potential solutions.
Many also accuse the president of simply stoking the issue for his political benefit to energize his base and boost turnout ahead of his 2020 re-election race.
Democrats note, in particular, the president’s threat to send migrants immigration-friendly “sanctuary cities” in an effort to punish political foes as the starkest example of why they don’t trust the administration.
“The problem is he has made it political. He’s made it all about political revenge,” said Rep. Nanette Barragan, D-Calif., who sits on the Homeland Security committee. She said that Democrats would be happy to work with the White House to address the problem, but not under the current circumstances.
“If he’s truly interested in the southern border right now and what has been happening, then these policies need to change, this rhetoric has to change,” she said.
Aguilar, the congressman from California, said that if the White House were really serious, it would propose legislative language on potential changes it wants for Congress to review and debate.
There does appear at least to be discussion underway.
Last Wednesday, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan met with several Democratic senators to discuss border security, said an aide to No. 2 Senate Democratic leader Dick Durbin of Illinois. The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe a closed door meeting, said the talks were in early stages.
Other senators in the one-hour session included California’s Dianne Feinstein, in whose office the session was held, Jon Tester of Montana and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
For the most part, critics say, Trump has instead pushed ideas that have made things worse. Those include cutting off aid money to the Central American countries that migrants are fleeing; limiting asylum claims at legal ports of entry, which encourages migrants to cross illegally elsewhere, and threatening to completely close southern border crossings, which could have the same affect.
“The problem is we’re dealing with an administration that doesn’t want a solution,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz. He argued the administration could be doing far more to address the immediate crisis including incentivizing people to apply for asylum in their home countries so they don’t make the journey north, dedicating more resources to border facilities to process new arrivals and hiring more immigration judges to clear the backlog of asylum cases.
Some have also called for mobilizing FEMA and the Red Cross to help provide housing and health care as the government would in a natural disaster.
“Solutions aren’t really that hard,” Gallego said.
Meanwhile, Trump continues to portray asylum-seekers as dangerous figures trying to game the U.S. immigration system.
“You look at some of these people; you want protection from them. And they’re saying, ’We need protection from our country,” Trump said this week. “It’s a big con job. That’s what it is.”
“Trump’s rhetoric poisons the well for any deal making,” said Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a liberal immigration reform group, which soured on working with Trump after he backed out of a bipartisan 2018 congressional deal that would have provided legal protection for hundreds of thousands of “dreamer” immigrants brought to the country as children and now here illegally.
“He’s leveraging chaos for political advantage,” Sharry said.
Indeed, Sharry said he has a difficult time using the word “crisis” to describe the current situation because it has become so politically charged.
“Here is an asylum emergency at the border,” he said instead.
The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment Wednesday. But in Africa, Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser told the AP that “there is no one solution to solving this problem.”
“We have a humanitarian crisis at our southern border of epic proportion,” she said. “Ultimately it’s going to have to be done in Congress to change the laws that enable us to maintain secure borders and ensure that there’s adequate humanitarian assistance and relief for those who are struggling and seeking legitimate asylum in our country.”
Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Colleen Long in Washington and Catherine Lucey in Abidjan, Ivory Coast contributed to this report.
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A Democratic House committee chairman on Wednesday invited White House aide Stephen Miller to testify before his panel and “make your case” for President Donald Trump’s aggressive policies cracking down on both illegal and legal immigration.
The combative Miller is one of the White House’s most conservative and influential voices in pushing moves that Trump has taken to curb immigration. He engineered Trump’s Muslim travel ban and is widely viewed as the driving force behind the administration’s hardest-line immigration policies.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Past administrations have often refused to send White House aides to testify before Congress, though there have been exceptions.
Should such a session occur, it would be bound to ignite fireworks over an issue that has repeatedly produced heated clashes between Trump and congressional Democrats. Trump has made an immigration crackdown a cornerstone of his appeal to conservative voters, while Democrats — led by liberal and Hispanic lawmakers — have been just as adamant in opposing his moves.
“I understand that you may not want to submit yourself to rigorous questioning,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said in his letter to Miller requesting his appearance.
“I want to make clear that I am inviting you to appear voluntarily,” Cummings wrote. “I am offering you an opportunity to make your case to the committee and the American people about why you — and presumably President Trump — believe it is good policy for the Trump administration to take the actions it has.”
Cummings cited the separation of migrant children from detained parents, a policy Trump withdrew under fire last year; Trump’s threat to move detained migrants to “sanctuary cities,” communities that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities and that are mostly in Democratic areas; and the removal of top Homeland Security officials, including Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
Cummings said he wanted Miller to testify to his committee on May 1 and gave him until April 24 to respond.
Meanwhile, Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson said he is working on legislation to help stem the flow of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Johnson, R-Wis., said he wants to toughen the initial standard for asylum seekers to “more than a probable chance” they’ll experience violence or persecution in their home countries. Right now, if people can demonstrate “credible fear,” they’re allowed to stay in the U.S. as their cases progress.
Johnson said in an interview that asylum cases must be adjudicated faster and that asylum seekers should be detained while they wait.
Johnson visited this week with migrants in Border Patrol custody on the southwestern border. He said most were seeking a better life and said that while he’s sympathetic to their circumstances, that doesn’t mean they should be granted asylum.
Tensions are rising, fingers are pointing and the search for solutions is becoming increasingly fraught.
Overwhelmed by an influx of migrants at the border that is taxing the immigration system, President Donald Trump is grasping for something — anything — to stem the tide.
Trump, who campaigned on a promise to secure the border, has thrown virtually every option his aides have been able to think of at the problem, to little avail. He’s deployed the military, signed an emergency declaration to fund a border wall and threatened to completely seal the southern border. On Thursday he added a new threat, warning of hefty tariffs on cars made in Mexico if the country doesn’t abide by his demands.
Now, with the encouragement of an influential aide and his re-election campaign on the horizon, Trump is looking at personnel changes as he tries to shift blame elsewhere. The first move was made Thursday, when the White House unexpectedly pulled back the nomination of Ron Vitiello to permanently lead the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, where he had been acting director. The abrupt reversal was encouraged by top Trump policy adviser Stephen Miller and seen by some as part of a larger effort to bring on aides who share Miller’s hardline immigration views.
The president said he wanted to go in a “tougher direction.”
An empowered Miller is also eyeing the removal of Lee Francis Cissna, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which runs the legal immigration system, according to two people who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal staffing matters. The White House did not respond to questions Friday about whether Trump was on board with that plan.
Trump has become increasingly exasperated at his inability to do more to halt the swelling numbers of migrants entering the country. Aides, too, have complained they are stymied by regulatory guardrails, legal limitations and a Congress that has scoffed at the president’s requests for legislative changes.
“There is indeed an emergency on our southern border,” Trump said Friday during a visit to the southern border in Calexico, California, where his frustration was evident. “It’s a colossal surge and it’s overwhelming our immigration system, and we can’t let that happen. So, as I say, and this is our new statement: The system is full. Can’t take you anymore.”
He went on to flatly declare: “Our country is full.”
Immigration experts say Trump’s own immigration policies have caused so much chaos along the border that they may be encouraging illegal crossings. The furor over family separations last summer helped to highlight the fact that families won’t be detained for long in the U.S. if they’re detained at all. And metering, in which people are asked to return to a busy port of entry on another day to seek asylum, may have encouraged asylum seekers to cross illegally, said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank.
“This policy chaos, coupled with a sense that the U.S. government may at some point really shut down the border, has generated an urgency to migrate now while it is still possible,” he said.
Whatever the reasons for the migrant surge, there is a growing consensus that federal border resources are overwhelmed. While illegal border crossings are still down sharply from their peak in 2000, they have nonetheless reached a 12-year high. And while most illegal border crossers used to be single Mexican nationals coming to the U.S. in search of work, more than half are now parents and children who have traveled from Central America to seek refuge in the U.S.
Those families, along with unaccompanied children, are subject to specific laws and court settlements that prevent them from being immediately sent back to their home countries. Immigrant processing and holding centers have been overwhelmed, forcing officials to dramatically expand a practice Trump has long mocked as “catch and release.”
Indeed, ICE has set free more than 125,000 people who came into the U.S. as families since late last year and is now busing people hundreds of miles inland, releasing them at Greyhound stations and churches in cities like Albuquerque, San Antonio and Phoenix because towns close to the border already have more than they can handle.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen also has voiced increasing exasperation, equating the situation to the aftermath of a Category 5 hurricane.
“We have tried everything that we can at DHS,” she said Thursday on CNN. “We are out of the ability to manage this flow and they need help.”
She recently called on Congress to consider changes to the immigration system. But those efforts have so far landed with a thud.
House Democrats would almost certainly reject any plans to simply deport unaccompanied minors or otherwise rewrite the law governing asylum or family detentions that they see as protecting young migrants who are often fleeing difficult conditions. In the Senate, where Republicans have the majority, there’s little interest in big legislative proposals this year, especially on a divisive issue like immigration. Trump’s ideas could be especially tough for senators facing re-election in 2020 in Colorado, Arizona and North Carolina, swing states with sizable Latino and immigrant populations.
In the meantime, tensions between agencies and at the White House have been bubbling up. At the Department of Homeland Security, officials have expressed frustration with colleagues at the department of Health and Human Services and at the Pentagon, accusing them of doing too little to help. And there are complaints about the White House and what some see as an effort by Miller to dismantle the leadership of the department, in part to shift the blame away from the White House.
Associated Press writer Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.
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A U.S. judge in San Francisco will scrutinize the Trump administration’s policy of returning asylum seekers to Mexico during a court hearing Friday to help him decide whether to block the practice.
Civil rights groups have asked Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco to put the asylum policy on hold while their lawsuit moves forward. Seeborg was not expected to rule immediately.
The policy began in January at the San Ysidro border crossing in San Diego, marking an unprecedented change to the U.S. asylum system . Families seeking asylum are typically released in the U.S. with notices to appear in immigration court.
The administration later expanded the policy to the Calexico port of entry, about 120 miles (193 kilometers) east of the San Ysidro crossing.
The lawsuit on behalf of 11 asylum seekers from Central America and legal advocacy groups says the administration is violating U.S. law by failing to adequately evaluate the dangers that migrants face in Mexico.
It also accuses Homeland Security and immigration officials of depriving migrants of their right to apply for asylum by making it difficult or impossible to do so.
“Instead of being able to focus on preparing their cases, asylum seekers forced to return to Mexico will have to focus on trying to survive,” according to the lawsuit filed in February by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies.
The Trump administration hopes that making asylum seekers wait in Mexico will discourage weak claims and help reduce an immigration court backlog of more than 800,000 cases.
The Justice Department said in court documents that the policy “responds to a crisis of aliens, many of whom may have unmeritorious asylum claims, overwhelming the executive’s immigration-detention capacity, being released into the U.S. to live for many years without establishing an entitlement to relief, and often never appearing for immigration proceedings.”
Border Patrol arrests, the most widely used gauge of illegal crossings, have risen sharply over the last year but are relatively low in historical terms after hitting a 46-year low in 2017.
A federal law allows the Homeland Security secretary to return immigrants to Mexico at her discretion, Justice Department officials said in a court filing this month urging Seeborg not to block the policy.
The civil rights groups said that law does not apply to asylum seekers who cross the border illegally or arrive at an entry port without proper documents.
The policy followed months of delicate talks between the U.S. and Mexico. Mexicans and children traveling alone are exempt from it.
The number of migrant families crossing the southwest border is again breaking records, and the crush is overwhelming border agents and straining facilities, officials said.
More than 76,000 migrants crossed the U.S.-Mexico border last month, more than double the number from the same period last year. Most were families coming in ever-increasingly large groups — there were 70 groups of more than 100 people in the past few months, and they cross illegally in extremely rural locations with few agents and staff. There were only 13 large groups during the previous budget year, and only two the year before.
The system “is well beyond capacity, and remains at the breaking point,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said during a press conference Tuesday.
The new figures reflect the difficulties President Donald Trump has faced as he tries to cut down on illegal immigration, his signature issue. But it could also help him make the case that there truly is a national emergency at the border — albeit one built around humanitarian crises and not necessarily border security. The Senate is expected to vote next week and join the House in rejecting his national emergency declaration aimed at building border walls, but Trump would almost certainly veto the measure and the issue is likely to be settled in the courts.
After the deaths of two migrant children in Border Patrol custody, Customs and Border Protection stepped up medical screenings. They also announced sweeping changes including more rigorous interviews as migrants come into the system.
And McAleenan said a new processing center would be built in El Paso, Texas, that will be better suited to manage families and children and handle medical care concerns — but it’s not a permanent solution.
“While our enhanced medical efforts will assist in managing the increased flows, the fact is that these solutions are temporary and this solution is not sustainable,” he said.
While fewer people overall are being apprehended crossing the border illegally each year — about 400,000 over the last budget year compared with the high of 1.6 million in 2000, the increasing numbers are alarming, officials said.
Those apprehended used to be mostly single men from Mexico, but are now mostly families from Central America — since October, more than 130,000 families have been apprehended between ports of entry. From October through September 2018, about the same number of families was apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border. Tens of thousands of children illegally cross the border alone. While single men used to evade capture, the families are seeking out agents.
Customs and Border Protection also reported using firearms less and less. There were 15 instances where officers and agents used firearms during the budget year 2018, down from a high of 55 reported during the 2012 budget year, and down from 17 during 2017′s budget year and 25 the year before.
Despite high-profile instances in recent months where agents used tear gas on groups of migrants that included children, use of less-lethal force like tear gas, batons or stun guns are also down, to 898. That’s a decrease from the high in 2013 of 1,168, according to the data.
Border officials said the large families groups are creating opportunities for smugglers because attention is diverted to the large groups. Border officials say they worry they’re spending too much time on migrant care and not enough on security.
During 2018′s fiscal year, border agents and officers seized more than 1.7 pounds of narcotics, including 1.1 million pounds of marijuana, 282,570 pounds of cocaine, 6,552 pounds of heroin and 2,463 pounds of fentanyl, mostly through ports of entry, according to the border security report from budget year 2018, released Tuesday. Fentanyl seizures were up nearly 70 percent from the last budget year.
Complaints of excessive force prompted the border enforcement agency to commission an audit and investigation by the Police Executive Research Forum, a research and policy group. The 2013 audit highlighted problems that included foot-patrol agents without access to less-lethal options, and it recommended law enforcement not be allowed to use deadly force when people throw rocks — a suggestion that was rejected.
Following those reviews, major training and policy changes were made. Border Patrol agents now undergo scenario-based drills at the academy and learn how to de-escalate tense situations. They get 64 hours of on-the-job training on use of force. Agents and officers are authorized to use deadly force when there is reasonable belief in an imminent danger of serious physical injury or death to the officer or another person.
They have discretion on how to deploy less-than-lethal force: It must be both “objectively reasonable and necessary in order to carry out law enforcement duties” — and used when other “empty hand” techniques are not sufficient to control disorderly or violent subjects.
Officials say they deploy the lowest form of force necessary to take control of a situation, but instances a few months ago where tear gas was used on migrants that included children drew strong criticism.
President Donald Trump is going after the “horror show” known as the diversity visa lottery program. His description of it is pure fiction.
The president offered a multitude of fabrications and partial truths over the past week on the subject of immigration — both the legal and illegal varieties — as he declared a national emergency aimed at finding the money to build his border wall. He said drugs are flowing across the hinterlands from Mexico, not from border crossings, and suggested that the federal prison population is laden with hardened criminals who are in the U.S. illegally. Neither claim is substantiated.
Along the way, the president took unearned credit for developments in the auto industry, health care for veterans and trade with China.
A look at the rhetoric and the reality:
TRUMP: “And then you have the lottery. It’s a horror show, because when countries put people into the lottery, they’re not putting you in; they’re putting some very bad people in the lottery. It’s common sense. If I ran a country, and if I have a lottery system of people going to the United States, I’m not going to put in my stars; I’m going to put in people I don’t want.” — Rose Garden remarks Friday.
THE FACTS: That’s completely false. He says this often anyway.
The lottery program is run by the U.S. government, not foreign governments. Other countries do not get to sort through their populations looking for bad apples to put in for export to the U.S. Citizens of qualifying countries are the ones who decide to bid for visas under the program.
The program requires applicants to have completed a high school education or have at least two years of experience in the last five years in a selection of fields identified by the Labor Department. Out of that pool of people from certain countries who meet those conditions, the State Department randomly selects a much smaller pool of winners. Not all winners will have visas ultimately approved, because they still must compete for a smaller number of slots by getting their applications in quickly. Those who are ultimately offered visas still need to go through background checks, like other immigrants.
The lottery is extended to citizens of most countries, except about 20. The primary goal is to diversify the immigrant population by creating slots for underrepresented parts of the world.
TRUMP: “I’ve built a lot of wall. I have a lot of money, and I’ve built a lot of wall.” — Rose Garden remarks .
THE FACTS: He’s built no new miles of wall, lacking the money. His new construction to date has replaced existing barriers.
This month marks the start of construction of 14 miles (22 kilometers) of fencing in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, the first lengthening of barrier in his presidency. That’s from money approved by Congress a year ago, most of which was for renovating existing barrier.
Money approved by Congress in the new deal to avert another government shutdown would cover about 55 more miles (88 km).
Trump often has often portrayed his wall, falsely, as largely complete, to a point where “Finish the wall” has become his rallying cry, replacing “Build the wall.” That masks a distinct lack of progress in physically sealing the border — a frustration that is now prompting him to find money outside the normal channels of congressional appropriation. Trump inherited about 650 miles (1,050 km) of physical border barrier from previous administrations.
TRUMP, on past presidents declaring national emergencies: “There’s rarely been a problem. They sign it; nobody cares. I guess they weren’t very exciting. But nobody cares. … And the people that say we create precedent — well, what do you have? Fifty-six? There are a lot of times — well, that’s creating precedent. And many of those are far less important than having a border.” — Rose Garden remarks.
THE FACTS: Those declarations were rarely as consequential, and that’s precisely why they were mostly uncontroversial. He’s roughly correct about the numbers. But past declarations did not involve the unilateral spending of substantial sums of money that Congress — which holds the power of the purse — did not approve.
Emergency declarations by Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were overwhelmingly for the purpose of addressing crises that emerged abroad. Many blocked foreign interests or terrorist-linked entities from access to funds. Some prohibited certain imports from or investments in countries associated with human rights abuses.
Trump’s number resembles findings from the Brennan Center for Justice , which has tracked 58 emergency declarations back to 1978.
“It’s extremely rare for a president to declare a national emergency in a bid to fund domestic construction projects, particularly one that Congress has explicitly refused to fund,” said Andrew Boyle, an attorney in the national security program at the center. “The ones that former presidents declared are of a different sort.”
Obama declared a national emergency in July 2011 to impose sanctions on transnational criminal groups, blocking any American property interests and freezing their assets, authorizing financial sanctions against anyone aiding them and barring their members from entering the United States. It authorized sanctions against criminal cartels in Mexico, Japan, Italy and Eastern Europe. It did not direct billions in spending by the U.S. treasury.
TRUMP: “Billions of Dollars are being paid to the United States by China in the form of Trade Tariffs!” — tweet Saturday.
THE FACTS: U.S. importers typically pay tariffs, not the exporting country. The cost is borne by U.S. business and often passed on to consumers, so the trade dispute is not generating a new source of wealth for the U.S.
After Trump imposed tariffs last year on roughly half the goods that the U.S. imports from China, Ford Motor Co. said the import taxes would raise its costs $1 billion through this year. Caterpillar said the steel tariffs would cost the company about $100 million in 2018.
TRUMP: “And a big majority of the big drugs — the big drug loads — don’t go through ports of entry. They can’t go through ports of entry. You can’t take big loads because you have people — we have some very capable people; the Border Patrol, law enforcement — looking.” — Rose Garden remarks.
TRUMP: “We have tremendous amounts of drugs flowing into our country, much of it coming from the southern border. When you look and when you listen to politicians — in particular, certain Democrats — they say it all comes through the port of entry. It’s wrong. It’s wrong. It’s just a lie. It’s all a lie.” — Rose Garden remarks.
THE FACTS: His own administration says illicit drugs come mainly through ports of entry. He has persistently contradicted his officials — never mind Democrats — on this point. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said in a 2018 report that the most common trafficking technique by transnational criminal organizations is to hide drugs in passenger vehicles or tractor-trailers as they drive into the U.S. at official crossings. They also use buses, cargo trains and tunnels, the report says, citing smuggling methods that would not be choked off by a border wall.
“Only a small percentage” of heroin seized by U.S. authorities comes across on territory between ports of entry, the agency says, and the same is true of drugs generally. The great majority of heroin, methamphetamines, cocaine and fentanyl is seized at ports of entry. Marijuana is one exception; significant quantities are seized between entry ports.
Even if a wall could stop all drugs from Mexico, America’s drug problem would be far from over. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 40 percent of opioid deaths in 2016 involved prescription painkillers. Those drugs are made by pharmaceutical companies. Some feed the addiction of people who have prescriptions; others are stolen and sold on the black market. Moreover, illicit versions of powerful synthetic opioids such as fentanyl have come to the U.S. from China, not Mexico.
TRUMP: “Take a look at our federal prison population. See how many of them, percentage-wise, are illegal aliens. Just see. Go ahead and see.” — Rose Garden remarks.
THE FACTS: About 40 percent of the people who entered federal prison in 2014 were foreigners, according to the most recent Bureau of Justice Statistics report. The vast majority of the foreigners (20,842 of 28,821) were being held for immigration violations, not violent or property crimes. It’s not clear how many were in the country illegally. The federal prison population is not a solid yardstick of immigrant crime because it represents only 10 percent of the overall prison population of the U.S. Most people convicted of crimes are in state prison.
DEMOCRATS ON IMMIGRATION
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, Democrat of California: “Unauthorized border crossings are at their lowest levels in decades, about one-third of their peak levels two decades ago. If there were an emergency, the president wouldn’t have waited two years to make this political decision.” — tweet Thursday.
CALIFORNIA GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM: “We are currently experiencing the lowest number of (illegal) border crossings since 1971.” — State of the State speech Tuesday.
THE FACTS: They’re wrong in saying illegal crossings are the lowest in recent decades, based on Border Patrol arrests, the most widely used gauge. That was true in the 2017 budget year, when Border Patrol arrests along the Mexican border fell to 303,916, the smallest number since 1971. But arrests jumped 31 percent last year, to 396,579. And in the 2019 budget year, which started in October, southern border arrests nearly doubled through January, to 201,497 from 109,543 the same period a year earlier.
Illegal crossings remain relatively low in historical terms but not as low as the Democrats said.
DEMOCRATIC SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, a 2020 presidential candidate, responding to reports she can be a tough boss: “I was teasing President Obama the other day. They have hired, the White House hired, over 20 of my staff members. You only have about 25 in a Senate office. And a number of them have come back to me when they were over there. So that’s my story. I know I can be too tough sometimes. And I can push too hard, that’s obvious. But a lot of it is because I have high expectations for myself, I have high expectations for the people that work with me.” — interview with MSNBC on Feb. 11.
KLOBUCHAR CAMPAIGN: “She has many staff … who have gone on to do amazing things, from working in the Obama Administration (over 20 of them) to running for office to even serving as the Agriculture Commissioner for Minnesota.” — statement to news media this month.
THE FACTS: Klobuchar is correct that more than 20 former staffers later worked for Obama, though not all in the White House, with some serving in his administration or on his 2008 campaign, according to a list provided to The Associated Press.
Among them are Jake Sullivan, a former chief counsel to Klobuchar who served in Obama’s State Department and was Vice President Joe Biden’s national security adviser; Rob Friedlander, a former Klobuchar press secretary who became a spokesman in the Obama Treasury Department; and Joe Paulsen, who worked on Klobuchar’s advance team and moved on to become an Obama aide and the president’s golfing buddy.
As for “a number of them” coming back to work for her again, three were identified by her campaign team.
They are Brigit Helgen, a former Klobuchar press secretary who served in the U.S. Trade Representative’s office in the Obama administration and returned as Klobuchar’s chief of staff; Hannah Hankins, a former special assistant who served as communications director and senior adviser for Obama’s Domestic Policy Council and returned as Klobuchar’s deputy chief of staff; and Andrea Mokros, a former Klobuchar deputy chief of staff who later managed scheduling and advance operations for first lady Michelle Obama. Mokros was an outside political consultant for Klobuchar for her 2018 Senate re-election campaign.
A survey of senators by the website LegiStorm from 2001 to 2016 found that Klobuchar’s office had the highest turnover in the Senate. A recent HuffPost article portrayed her as a demanding manager who lost some potential 2020 campaign staff members because of her reputation.
TRUMP: “A lot of car companies are coming back to the United States.” — Cabinet meeting Tuesday.
TRUMP: “We’re most proud of the fact — you look at the car companies, they’re moving back, they’re going into Michigan, they’re going into Pennsylvania, they’re going back to Ohio, so many companies are coming back.” — El Paso, Texas, rally on Feb. 11.
TRUMP: “We have massive numbers of companies coming back into our country — car companies. We have seven car companies coming back in right now and there’s going to be a lot more.” — remarks to reporters Feb. 6.
THE FACTS: There’s no such discernible influx. And at the end of this past week, industrial production numbers for January showed an 8.8 percent plunge in the making of motor vehicles and auto parts from the previous month.
Since Trump took office in 2017, auto manufacturing employment has risen by about 51,000 jobs to just over 1 million, according to the Labor Department. That’s a 5 percent increase over two years.
There have been new factory announcements, but excluding those that were planned before Trump took office, they don’t add up to seven.
Last month, Volkswagen announced plans to expand manufacturing in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Toyota is building a new factory in Alabama with Mazda, and Volvo opened a plant in South Carolina last year, but in each case, that was in the works before Trump took office.
Fiat Chrysler also has nebulous plans to return some pickup truck production from Mexico to suburban Detroit next year, and it may reopen a small Detroit factory to build an SUV. At least one Chinese automaker wants to build in the U.S. starting next year but hasn’t announced a site.
Against those uncertain and limited gains, GM is laying people off and plans to close four U.S. factories. Both GM and Ford also are letting go of white-collar workers in restructuring efforts.
TRUMP: “Another one they said could never get passed, they have been trying to do it for 40 years, we passed VA Choice. Veterans Choice. … VA Choice, they would wait on line for days and weeks, they couldn’t see a doctor. Now, they go out, they have a choice. They get a private doctor, they have things taken care of, and we pay their bills.” — El Paso rally.
THE FACTS: He’s not the first president in 40 years to get Congress to pass a private-sector health program for veterans. And while it’s true the VA recently announced plans to expand eligibility for veterans in the Veterans Choice program, the program remains limited due in part to uncertain funding and longer waits. Contrary to Trump’s depiction, veterans still must wait “for days and weeks.”
The VA said this month it does not expect a significant increase in new appointments outside VA under the expanded program.
Congress first approved the program in 2014 during the Obama administration after some veterans died while waiting months for appointments at the Phoenix VA medical center. The program currently allows veterans to see doctors outside the VA system if they must wait more than 30 days for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles to a VA facility. Now they are to have that option for a private doctor if their VA wait is only 20 days (28 for specialty care) or their drive is only 30 minutes.
That is to start in June, under a law Trump signed last year to expand the Choice program. But the expanded Choice eligibility may do little to provide immediate help.
That’s because veterans often must wait even longer for an appointment in the private sector. Last year, then-Secretary David Shulkin said VA care is “often 40 percent better in terms of wait times” compared with the private sector. In 2018, 34 percent of all VA appointments were with outside physicians, down from 36 percent in 2017.
The VA also must resolve long-term financing due to congressional budget caps after the White House opposed new money to pay for the program. As a result, lawmakers could be forced later this year to limit the program, or slash core VA or other domestic programs.
Also key to the program’s success is an overhaul of VA’s electronic medical records to allow seamless sharing of medical records with private physicians, a process expected to take up to 10 years. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has said full implementation of the expanded Choice program is “years” away.
GREEN NEW DEAL
TRUMP, on the effects of the Green New Deal floated by some Democrats: “You’re not allowed to own cows anymore.” He added that the plan would “shut down American energy” and “a little thing called air travel.” — El Paso rally.
THE FACTS: The Democratic plan would do none of those things. Trump chose to ignore the actual provisions of the plan, which calls for a drastic drop in greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas but would not ban methane-emitting cows or air travel.
Instead, Trump took his cue from a fact sheet that was distributed by the office of Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, then clumsily disavowed by her and replaced with a more accurate summary of the plan.
The first version described measures beyond those contained in the plan, such as: “Build out high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.” And it made the impolitic statement: “We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.” Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, said that was meant as an ironic quip.
EL PASO CRIME
TRUMP, on the effect of a border wall on crime in El Paso: “When that wall went up, it’s a whole different ball game. … I don’t care whether a mayor is a Republican or a Democrat. They’re full of crap when they say it hasn’t made a big difference. I heard the same thing from the fake news. They said, ‘Oh crime, it actually stayed the same.’ It didn’t stay the same. It went way down. … Thanks to a powerful border wall in El Paso, Texas, it’s one of America’s safest cities now.” — El Paso rally.
THE FACT: Trump falsely suggests a dramatic drop in crime in El Paso due to a border wall. In fact, the city’s murder rate was less than half the national average in 2005, the year before the start of its border fence. It’s true that the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report shows that El Paso’s annual number of reported violent crimes dropped from nearly 5,000 in 1995 to around 2,700 in 2016. But that corresponded with similar declines in violent crime nationwide and included periods when the city’s crime rates increased year over year, despite new fencing and walls.
Before the wall project started, El Paso had been rated one of the three safest major U.S. cities going back to 1997.
TRUMP, describing the crowd for a competing rally in El Paso, Texas, led by Beto O’Rourke, a potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate: “He has 200 people, 300 people, not too good. … That may be the end of his presidential bid.” — El Paso rally.
THE FACTS: That’s far from true. O’Rourke’s march and rally drew thousands. Police did not give an estimate, but his crowd filled up nearly all of a baseball field from the stage at the infield to the edge of outfield and was tightly packed.
IMMIGRANTS-COSTS AND BENEFITS
TRUMP: “Illegal immigration hurts all Americans, including millions of legal immigrants, by driving down wages, draining public resources and claiming countless innocent lives.” — El Paso rally.
THE FACTS: These assertions are unsupported by research, which Trump appeared to acknowledge obliquely by making a crack about “phony stats.”
The weight of research on wages suggests that immigrants have not suppressed them, although it’s not cut and dried. What’s clear is that macro forces that go beyond immigration are at work in the sluggishness of wage growth: the decline in unionization, an intensified push to maximize corporate profits, growing health insurance costs that supplant wages and the rise of a lower-wage global labor force that in an intertwined worldwide economy can hinder pay growth for Americans.
On public resources, the National Academy of Sciences concluded: “An immigrant and a native-born person with similar characteristics will likely have the same fiscal impact.” The academy found that because state and local governments supply most of the money for public schools, immigrants often receive more in benefits than they pay in taxes. But education produces children who grow into adults who get jobs, buy cars, buy houses and pay taxes and thereby contribute to economic growth. And succeeding generations of immigrant families become net contributors to government budgets, according to the study.
On the loss of lives, plenty of research challenges the assumption that people in the country illegally drive up violent crime. In one such study, sociologists Michael Light and Ty Miller reviewed crime in every state and the District of Columbia from 1990 to 2014. They found that a rising number of immigrants in the country illegally corresponded with a drop, not a rise, in reported crime.
Associated Press writers Tom Krisher in Detroit, Will Weissert in El Paso, Texas, Elliot Spagat in San Diego, and Josh Boak, Colleen Long, Kevin Freking, Michael Balsamo and Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this report.
President Donald Trump has long railed against immigration as a scourge on the economy and national security. He’s committed his administration to starting construction on a wall along the Mexican border to stop illegal immigration and asylum seekers, yet he reversed his past policy efforts on restricting legal immigration in this year’s State of the Union address.
Trump managed to accuse immigrants in the country illegally of stealing jobs from American workers, while declaring that the country needs more immigrants because of its economic boom. This argument rested on a series of false stereotypes.
“I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally,” he declared, only to say later, “Working-class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal immigration: reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools, hospitals that are so crowded you can’t get in, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net.”
That’s a slight variation on his drumbeat going back to 2015, when he declared: “They’re taking our jobs, they’re taking our manufacturing jobs, they’re taking our money, they’re killing us.”
The fact is that 75 percent of immigrants arrived legally, according to the Pew Research Center. In general, the entire immigrant population is increasingly better educated than native-born Americans.
They’re more likely to have jobs. They’re less likely to commit violent crimes. They help fuel economic growth. And as a group over time, they’re no more a drain on taxpayers than native-born citizens.
Moreover, for all the attention to the southern border, in recent years immigrants to the U.S. have been more likely to come from Asia than from Mexico.
Three Harvard University economists released a paper in June that looked at immigration in multiple countries and concluded that native-born Americans as a whole wildly overestimate the prevalence of immigrants. These Americans estimated, on average, that legal immigrants made up 36 percent of the U.S. population, more than triple their actual share. They thought that immigrants were less likely to work and more dependent on government aid than immigrants actually are — and these stereotypes made them less supportive of social programs that might aid immigrants.
“We were surprised by how much of a misperception there was about the level of education, income and contribution to society that immigrants give,” said Alberto Alesini, a Harvard economist who co-wrote the paper.
Here are some fundamental myths about U.S. immigration and the economy:
MYTH: VAST NUMBERS OF IMMIGRANTS ARE POURING ACROSS U.S. BORDERS
REALITY: Not really.
The net flow of all migration into the United States in recent years — around 0.3 percent of the total population — is roughly at a long-standing historical average, according to an analysis of government data by Lyman Stone, an economist who studies demographic issues.
“It isn’t rock-bottom, but it isn’t that high either,” Stone said.
Economists say that restricting immigration would probably weaken economic growth. Given today’s lower birth rates in the United States, immigrants are increasingly needed to sustain a level of population growth for the U.S. economy to keep expanding.
Immigrants as a whole do make up a greater percentage of the total U.S. population than they did back in 1970, having grown from less than 5 percent of the population to more than 13 percent now.
But there’s a largely overlooked reason for that: Native-born Americans are having fewer children. The falling birth rate means that immigrants now make up a greater share of the population. In 2030, it’s projected that immigrants will become the primary driver for U.S. population growth, overtaking U.S. births.
MYTH: IMMIGRANTS ARE TAKING AWAY JOBS
REALITY: Many people have firsthand stories of losing a construction bid or an office job to a foreign worker. This happens in an economy as large and diverse as the United States’, where numerous people also lose jobs to native-born Americans.
But employment data suggest that the influx of immigrants helps increase overall hiring for the U.S. economy rather than erode job growth. The trend is clear in the government’s monthly jobs report. The data doesn’t distinguish between immigrants who are in the U.S. legally and illegally.
Nearly 64 percent of immigrants hold jobs, compared with roughly 60 percent of workers born in the United States, according to the Labor Department. Last year, immigrants accounted for roughly 40 percent of the 2.4 million jobs added.
Because a steady growth in the workforce helps the economy expand, economists say fewer immigrants would equal slower growth and fewer jobs. Falling birth rates and the retirement of the vast generation of baby boomers mean fewer people will flow into the workforce in the coming years — a drag on economic growth, which will, in turn, probably limit hiring.
Many economists have noted that adding immigrants would help maintain the flow of workers into the economy and support growth.
MYTH: IMMIGRANTS ARE UNEDUCATED
REALITY: The president has pledged to create an immigration system based on “merit,” thereby implying that the United States is a destination mainly of unskilled and uneducated workers.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said at his 2015 campaign kickoff.
But today’s immigrants are more likely to be better educated than Americans. And the country has increasingly become a magnet for foreigners with doctorates and master’s degrees. Sixteen percent of all immigrants who arrived since 2000 hold an advanced degree, compared with 13 percent of the native-born population, according to the Census Bureau.
As of 2017, immigrants who have become citizens are almost twice as likely to hold a doctorate than are native-born U.S. citizens. Foreign-born citizens were more likely to have a doctorate at least as far back as 2000.
And Census records also show that the children of immigrants are more likely to graduate from college than are those of native-born parentage.
This doesn’t mean, of course, that all immigrants are better educated. Such are the disparities within the immigrant population that immigrants as a whole are less likely than native-born Americans to have completed high school. But the trend shows that the United States is increasingly a home for foreigners with graduate degrees and higher earnings.
MYTH: IMMIGRANTS ARE TO BLAME FOR TODAY’S SLUGGISH WAGE GROWTH
REALITY: The weight of the research suggests that immigrants have not suppressed wages.
David Card, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley, first studied the issue in 1990 by reviewing the arrival of Cuban migrants in Miami during the 1980 “Mariel boat lift.” This historical rush of immigrants created a natural experiment to measure what then happened to incomes in the local area. He concluded: “The influx appears to have had virtually no effect on the wages or unemployment rates of less-skilled workers.”
Giovanni Peri, an economist at the University of California at Davis, studied immigration into California between 1960 and 2005. He wrote in a 2010 paper that it had “essentially” no effect on wages or employment of native-born workers.
But many people seeking to reduce immigration rely on research from George Borjas, a Harvard economist. His research found that the arrival of Cubans in the Mariel boat lift caused wages to fall for native-born high school dropouts in Miami. Other economists have questioned his methodology.
In addition, Borjas’ findings would apply to a small fraction of U.S. jobholders today, only about 6.2 percent of whom lack a high school degree.
Other explanations for sluggish wage growth go beyond immigration. They include the decline in unionization, an intensified push to maximize corporate profits, growing health insurance costs that supplant wages and the rise of a lower-wage global labor force that in an intertwined worldwide economy can hinder pay growth for Americans.
MYTH: IMMIGRANTS ARE A DRAIN ON TAXPAYERS
REALITY: The National Academy of Sciences explored the costs to taxpayers in 2016. It’s a tricky issue. The federal government runs a budget deficit, which means it spends more than it collects in taxes. This means that, on average, most Americans are a net drain on taxpayers.
All told, the costs imposed by immigrants are about the same as they are for native-born citizens.
“An immigrant and a native-born person with similar characteristics will likely have the same fiscal impact,” the report said.
But the report also examined spending by states and localities, which generally must maintain balanced budgets. Because state and local governments supply most of the money for public schools, immigrants often receive more in benefits than they pay in taxes.
That said, there are longer-term benefits from educating children, who grow into adults who get jobs, buy cars, buy houses and pay taxes and thereby contribute to economic growth. The National Academy found that the net cost from 2011 to 2013 for state and local budgets combined averaged $1,600 a year for a first-generation immigrant. But that figure became a net positive of $1,700 for the second generation and $1,300 for the third.
Immigrant households with children are generally more likely to use welfare programs like food assistance and Medicaid than native-born households, largely because the immigrant families have lower average incomes and larger families, according to the National Academy report.
MYTH: ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION LEADS TO VIOLENT CRIME
REALITY: Trump frequently highlights violence by the “savage” MS-13 gang, saying in his speech Tuesday that it operates in at least 20 states and “they almost all come through our southern border.”
He invokes that gang, whose members come predominantly from El Salvador or are U.S. citizens descended from there, to portray immigrants as criminals. Widespread crime makes it harder, of course, to run a business, spend money and engage in the daily transactions that keep an economy humming.
But there is scant evidence that immigrants are perpetuating a crime wave. In a paper published last year, sociologists Michael Light and Ty Miller reviewed crime in every state and the District of Columbia from 1990 to 2014. They found that a rising number of immigrants in the country illegally corresponded with a drop, not a rise, in reported crime.
The authors acknowledged that it’s possible that people who came illegally are less likely to report a crime. But the authors also note that such immigrants overwhelmingly arrived to work, a trend that helps to reduce crime levels. Past research cited in their paper found that 93 percent of the men in the country illegally either have a job or are looking for one.
“At a minimum, the results of our study call into question claims that undocumented immigration increases violent crime,” their paper concluded. “If anything, the data suggest the opposite.”
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On Friday HHS basically admitted that when they separated children from their migrant parents they never anticipated reuniting them, and didn’t bother gathering the information they’d need to bring the families together. As appalling as that is, they said it would be too much of a “burden” to reunited parents and children. If you want to read proof of the government’s callousness and incompetence here’s their nine page response to the ACLU lawsuit.
Lee Gelernt, lead attorney in the ACLU lawsuit demanding reunification and deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, had issued this statement::
“The Trump administration’s response is a shocking concession that it can’t easily find thousands of children it ripped from parents, and doesn’t even think it’s worth the time to locate each of them. The administration also doesn’t dispute that separations are ongoing in significant numbers. We will be back in court on February 21.”
In response to the ACLU lawsuit the government complained that 100 analysts would have to work eight hours each day for between seven and 15 months to “even begin reconciling” data on separated families and said ORR didn’t have the staff to accomplish this.
Are these people sociopaths who draw a wall of empathy between white people and brown people? The kindest explanation I can come up with is that they misunderstood the King’s James Version of the Bible’s famous line: “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come to me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
During Jesus’ time (the Got Questions website tells us) children were not necessarily regarded as special or particularly endearing, except to their own parents. The disciples most likely rebuked those bringing the children to Jesus because they felt bringing children to Jesus was socially improper or because they thought the children would bother Jesus. But Jesus wanted the children to come to Him. He said, “Let the children come” with the meaning of “suffer” being “to allow.” He wanted to bless them.
I have a few lines for Stacey Abrams, whose parents were both Methodist ministers, when she delivers the Democratic response to Trump’s State of the Union address. Trump will paint a picture of the state of the union as glorious and he may brag about what he considers to be his accomplishments, from getting a credibly accused rapist onto the Supreme Court to using his “Art of the Deal” skill to get North Korea to denuke.
I’d like to hear Stacey Adams say that Trump can demand billions to build a wall but doesn’t care enough to allocate the resources to reunite children taken, at times crying and forced from the arms of their parents because of his zero-tolerance policy, with their families.
The minister’s daughter could end with: “Mr. President, as long as this nation has children separated from their families, and considers it a ‘burden’ to reunite them, the state of the union is not good. When Jesus said suffer the little children, He didn’t mean make the little children suffer. If you want to make America great, start with the little children.
– $5.7 billion to add 230 miles of steel barrier along the border.
– $805 million for drug detection technology and canine units.
– $800 million in humanitarian assistance for migrants.
– The hiring of an additional 2,750 border agents and other personnel.
– $563 million in funding for the immigration court system and the hiring of 75 new judges.
– Three years of legal protections for so-called “Dreamers,” a group of about 700,000 immigrants who entered the country illegally as children.
– Three years of extended protections for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, a group of about 300,000 nationals from designated countries affected by armed conflict, natural disaster, or other strife.
I don’t even think a border barrier whose purpose is to discourage people from trying to cross or making it more diffiuclt for them to cross for whatever reason along the border is even necessary. I think a simple chainlink fence delinating the border is all that we should have.
I think we should have the same border as we do with Canada:
Canada and the United States share the world’s longest international border. Officially called the International Boundary, it’s known as the “world’s longest undefended border” because of the friendly relationship between the U.S. and Canada and because there’s no wall separating the countries – just checkpoints at highway crossings. There are rules, however, about traversing the border from either direction. The Canada Border Services Agency solely determines entry into Canada, in accordance with Canadian laws. U.S. Customs and Border Protection also imposes rules on American citizens returning to the U.S. from Canada. (From USA Today)
This being said, here’s my proposal for the Democrats.
It probably would add up to more than $5.7 billion. The last bargaining point wouldn’t cost anything. I add features which emphasize addressing and providing a start to remedying the humanitarian crisis which Trump has caused.
– Money for added structures along border areas where such barriers made sense according to unbiased experts would be what made sense, as determined by unbiased experts. In December 2018 then House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer suggested that $1.6 billion was an agreeable figure for border security so long as the language does not require it to be spent on the wall. (RollCall)
– Enough money, again as determined by experts, for drug detection technology, canine units, DEA undercover agents to work with Mexican drug police, informant money, forensic technology including drone and satellite surveillance, and support staff
– The funding for humanitarian assistance for migrants would be, once again, as determined by experts, and would likely include medical, educational, social services, teachers, teacher aides, and other support personnel and vastly improved infrastructure. There would be no tents. There would modern livable air-conditioned facilities. Gone would be the cages! The would be an absolute and clear law that families are never separated. This isn’t Ellis Island.
– As for the hiring of an additional 2,750 border agents, I’d also want the number to be reviewed by outside experts and not just take the word of those within the agency as to how many new staff they need.
— As for funding for the immigration court system and the hiring of new judges I also would want the number needed to be determined by experts in immigration law and not locked in to Trump’s proposed number of 75. The entire system should be evaluated to make sure it employes enough paralegals, social workers, and other supports staff, plus has the appropriate infrastructure.
– Permanent legal protections for “Dreamers.” The would be the same as the much hated by Ann Coulter “amnesty.” Today, the kind-hearted president threatened deportation of the 11 million undocumented residents in a morning tweet: No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer. It is a 3 year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else. Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally-but be careful Nancy!
I’d like House Majority Leader Pelsosi (the four words Trump must hate to hear) to respond simply “Yes Amnesty is part of our demand.”
In addition to allowing undocumented Dreamers to live without fear of deportation, otherwise known as amnesty, I would offer a clear expedited path to citizenship. This could come with two years of public service in professions including but not limited to medical, education, social services, libraries, or miliary service. It would offer automatic citizenship when completed. Four years of volunteer work for service agencies also would assure permanent citizenship.
– Permanent protections for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, a group of about 300,000 nationals from designated countries affected by armed conflict, natural disaster, or other strife during which time they could get on the same citizenship track as described above for dreamers.
Reimburse all federal workers affected by the shutdown, whether they had to work without pay or were furloughed, for wages not paid with 6% interest.
Instruct the Senate to pass a bill for protections for the Special Counsel investigation to assure independence.
Addendum, my tweet to Trump — The Devil Made Me Do It:
This is the Ann Coulter, the woman who has so much influence over the President of the United States. I have no idea what she is trying to say in her nonsensical incoherent tweet (below) except that it sounds downright nasty.
In a bid to break the shutdown stalemate, President Donald Trump offered to extend temporary protections for young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children and those fleeing disaster zones in exchange for his long-promised border wall. But while Trump cast the move as a “common-sense compromise,” Democrats were quick to dismiss it as a “non-starter.”
With polls showing a majority of Americans blaming him and Republicans for the impasse, Trump said from the White House that he was there “to break the logjam and provide Congress with a path forward to end the government shutdown and solve the crisis on the southern border.”
Hoping to put pressure on Democrats, the White House billed the announcement as a major step forward. But Trump did not budge on his $5.7 billion demand for the wall and, in essence, offered to temporarily roll-back some of his own hawkish immigration actions — actions that have been blocked by federal courts.
Following a week marked by his pointed clashes with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it was not clear if Trump’s offer would lead to serious steps to reopen the government, shut for a record 29 days. Trump’s move came as hundreds of thousands of federal workers go without paychecks, with many enduring financial hardship. Many public services are unavailable to Americans during the closure.
Democrats dismissed Trump’s proposal even before his formal remarks. Pelosi said the expected offer was nothing more than “a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives” and that the effort could not pass the House.
“What is original in the President’s proposal is not good. What is good in the proposal is not original,” she later tweeted.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also panned the proposal as “more hostage taking,” saying that it was Trump who had “single-handedly” imperiled the future of the immigrants he proposed to help.
The New York Democrat said there is only “one way out” of the shutdown. “Open up the government, Mr. President, and then Democrats and Republicans can have a civil discussion and come up with bipartisan solutions.” he said.
Democrats had made their own move late Friday to try to break the impasse when they pledged to provide hundreds of millions of dollars more for border security. But Trump, who has yet to acknowledge that offer, laid out his own plan, which officials said had been in the works for days.
Seeking to cast the plan as a bipartisan way forward, Trump said Saturday he was incorporating ideas from “rank-and-file” Democrats, as top Democrats made clear they had not been consulted. He also said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would bring the legislation to a vote this week, though Democrats appeared likely to block it. McConnell had previously stated that no vote should be held in the Senate until Trump and Democrats agreed on a bill.
Trump’s plan seems to stand little chance of getting the 60 votes needed in the Senate. Chris Coons of Delaware, a Democrat the White House has looked to as a possible partner on immigration negotiations, said he will not support it. And Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, another key centrist, said she would study the details of the plan but did not commit to vote for it.
She added of the shutdown: “This needs to end now.”
Trump’s remarks from the Diplomatic Room marked the second time he has addressed the nation as the partial shutdown drags on. On this occasion, he sought to strike a diplomatic tone, emphasizing the need to work across the aisle. He maintained a border barrier was needed to block what he describes as the flow of drugs and crime into the country — but described “steel barriers in high-priority locations” instead of “a 2,000-mile concrete structure from sea to sea.”
The proposal was met with immediate criticism from some conservative corners, including NumbersUSA, which seeks to reduce both legal and illegal immigration to the U.S. “The offer the President announced today is a loser for the forgotten American workers who were central to his campaign promises,” said Roy Beck, the group’s president.
At the other end of the political spectrum, Trump’s offer was panned by progressive groups, with Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, calling it a “one-sided proposal.”
Trump embraced the shutdown in December in large part because of angry warnings from his most ardent supporters that he was passing up on his last, best shot to build the wall before Democrat took control of the House in the new year. After his announcement Saturday, some supporters appeared unhappy with his effort to bridge the divide with Democrats.
“Trump proposes amnesty,” tweeted conservative firebrand Ann Coulter. “We voted for Trump and got Jeb!” she said, in a reference to Trump’s 2016 rival, Jeb Bush.
In a briefing with reporters, Vice President Mike Pence defended the proposal from criticism from the right. “This is not an amnesty bill,” he insisted.
White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney also sought to increase the pressure on congressional Democrats in advance of Tuesday, the deadline for the next federal pay period and the day officials said McConnell would begin to move on legislation.
“If the bill is filibustered on Tuesday…people will not get paid,” he said.
Mulvaney said that Trump had not ruled out one day declaring a national emergency to circumvent Congress to get his wall money — as he has threatened — but added that Trump maintains that the “best way to fix this is through legislation.”
Trump’s son-in-law and senior aide, Jared Kushner, along with Vice President Mike Pence, had led the efforts build the plan Trump announced on Saturday, according to three people familiar with White House thinking who were not authorized to speak publicly. After a heated meeting with Pelosi and Schumer that Trump stormed out of, the president directed his aides to bypass Democratic leaders and instead reach out to rank-and-file members for ideas.
To ensure wall funding, Trump said he would extend temporary protections for three years for “Dreamers,” young people brought to the country illegally as children. Administration officials said the protections would apply only to the approximately 700,000 people currently enrolled in the Obama-era program shielding them from deportation, and not all those who could be eligible. The plan would offer no pathway to citizenship for those immigrants — a deal breaker for many Democrats.
Trump also proposed a three-year extension to the temporary protected status the U.S. offers to immigrants fleeing countries affected by natural disasters or violence. Officials said the exemption would apply to about 300,000 people who currently live in the U.S. under the program and have been here since 2011. That means people from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti — countries that saw the status revoked since Trump took office — would get a reprieve.
Democrats, however, criticized Trump’s proposal for failing to offer a permanent solution for the immigrants in question and because he refuses back away from his demand a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which the party strongly oppposes. Democrats have told Trump he must reopen government before talks can start.
Trump had repeatedly dismissed the idea of a deal involving Dreamers in recent weeks, saying he would prefer to see first whether the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, survived a court challenge.
On Friday, the Supreme Court took no action on the Trump administration’s request to decide by early summer whether Trump’s bid to end that program was legal, meaning it probably will survive at least another year.
But during a recent trip to the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump hinted at the possibility, saying he would consider working on the wall and DACA “simultaneously.”
A previous attempt to reach a compromise that addressed the status of “Dreamers” broke down a year ago as a result of escalating White House demands.
Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Matthew Daly in Washington and Colleen Long in Brooklyn, New York, contributed to this report.