U.S. Government Separating Children From Parents At Border: And One Big Lie/Lyers

U.S. Government Separating Children From Parents At Border: And One Big Lie/Lyers

 

Today most of the news on the Google News site that I use is loaded with different articles about the child separation from parents at the U.S. Southern Border. One of the things I wonder about is why is this policy not being followed that same way at our Northern Border with Canada? Is this because most Canadians are white folks and most folks at our Southern Border are not white folks? Even though this is an issue that seems to be a non issue at this time maybe one of the major News Agencies will decide to look at the ‘why’ of this issue at some point. Even though this is an important issue it is not the issue that my article today is about. My article today is about what is going on at our Nations Southern Border with Mexico right now.

 

Like most all things in life, there are at least two sides to every issue, this disaster at our Southern Border is no exception. Technically any person crossing into our country at a non designated entry point is breaking the law and should be arrested. People wanting to live in a country should enter that country legally so that they do not have to always be worried about being deported. The last I heard the U.S. only allows about 55,000 people to legally migrate through the legal system so that they can become legal citizens.  That policy, that kind of a number, in my opinion should be raised to about 250,000 for all Americans, North Americans and South Americans. If the legal number was a more realistic number hopefully most people coming to the U.S Borders would choose to try to come in legally so that they could truly feel free once they started working and living here without having worry about ICE arresting them everyday.

 

I have spoken with many people from Mexico who are here illegally during my decades as a long haul truck driver (1981-2013). Constantly I heard the same thing from them, that they would rather be at home but there was no way to survive there, meaning that the Mexican economy was/is lousy. They were here trying to find a way to send money back home so that their families could afford to pay rent and to buy groceries. Some U.S. people make fun of the reality of having 10-15 Mexican people living in a two bedroom apartment, it is cruel and ignorant to make such comments even though in many cases it is true. Yet the reason you may have 10 working men living in a two bedroom living quarters is because they are pooling their money together so that they can send more money home to their wife and children. I have just been speaking of Mexican folks so far but the reality reaches to the southern end of the South American Continent. People in Central America and South America face the same issues as the poor people from Mexico face. Example, you don’t see Mexican billionaires trying to sneak across the borders do you? This issue in countries south of the U.S. is not going to change until these southern nations are able to get a good strong working economy so that their people can have livable wage jobs.  If you are living in (for example) Guatemala and you have a good paying job to where you have a nice home, good food, vehicles, clothes and the such are you really going to give it all up to try to sneak into the U.S. so that you can be a criminal under constant threat of arrest and deportation?

 

Now let us get to the point of the children being separated from their parents at the U.S. Southern Border. If you break the laws of a Nation that Nations law enforcement agencies are going to consider you to be a criminal whom they will arrest if they possibly can. Lets get away from the Border for a moment and let us look at another angle. If I am a person who lives in Chicago or New York and I commit a crime to where I am arrested and sent to a prison the law does not allow my minor children to be put into prison with me. If I don’t have someone else here in the States the government will give my children to the (DCS) Department of Children’s Services who are going to take my children and house them until they can find someone to give custody to while I am in prison. Would you want your minor children to be thrown into an adult prison with you? This policy that Donald Trump has put into place is cruel, but, what should our government, any government do in these cases?

 

Do not fall for the Trump Administration lies, this is a Presidential Policy, it is not a Law, and it is not a Law that was instituted during the Obama Administration, this one is all on the habitual liar, Donald Trump. This morning the Chief of the Department of Homeland Security Kristen Nielsen angerally told reporters that the Trump Administration has no policy in place to separate the children form their parents at the Border. Yet many documents from the DOJ and Jeff Sessions state very clearly for the security personal at the Mexican Border to do exactly that. That I know of there is no good answer for the Trump Administration to follow on this issue. They can either do what they are doing which is angering many people and is a death dart for Republicans this November in the Mid Term Elections or they can just say the heck with it and just open up the Borders to anyone who wishes to cross it. Folks, I don’t know how to be the most humane here on this issue unless North and South American Countries all totally open up their borders sort of like what the EU has done. Here is my single biggest issue with Donald Trump and his flunkies who work for him, just be honest, quit lying all the time, quit trying to blame everyone else for what you yourself are doing.

Proof Of Trump’s Policy To Separate Children From Parents At Border

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE WASHINGTON INSIDER’)

 

Conclusive proof that it is Trump’s policy to separate children from their families at the border

Border Patrol Child Girl
A Honduran mother with her daughter shortly before the two were separated at the US-Mexico border.
John Moore/Getty Images
  • The Trump administration has repeatedly denied that its policy is to separate children from their parents when families cross the US border illegally.
  • But its own internal documents contradict that.
  • The Department of Homeland Security’s website put out a press release on Friday saying it would separate children from their families.
  • A “zero tolerance” policy from Attorney General Jeff Sessions mandates that anyone illegally crossing the border be treated like a criminal.

The Trump administration has repeatedly sought to distance itself from its policy separating children from their parents when families cross the US border illegally, but its own internal documents contradict those efforts.

President Donald Trump had previously tried to blame the policy on Democrats, but over the weekend his secretary of homeland security, Kirstjen Nielsen, flat-out denied that such a policy existed.

“We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period,” Nielsen tweeted.

But the Department of Homeland Security does separate children from their parents at the border, and it just put out a press release about it on Friday, explaining its new “zero tolerance” policy for border crossers.

From the DHS website:

“The Attorney General directed United States Attorneys on the Southwest Border to prosecute all amenable adults who illegally enter the country, including those accompanied by their children, for 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a), illegal entry.

“Children whose parents are referred for prosecution will be placed with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).”

Another FAQ section deals with questions including “Why Are Parents Being Separated From Their Children?”; “Where Are Children Going?”; and “What Happens to Children in HHS Custody?”

DHS separates families border children
An image of the memo from the Department of Homeland Security.
DHS.gov

The DHS made a step-by-step guide for detained adults who are trying to reach their children called “Next Steps for Families.”

Furthermore, the rise of facilities that house children separated from their families at the border during Trump’s administration has been well documented.

Nielsen’s real argument is that border crossers are criminals

friendship park us mexico border
Mexicans at the US-Mexico border fence on May 1, 2016, in Tijuana, Mexico.
Getty Images

Nielsen continued: “For those seeking asylum at ports of entry, we have continued the policy from previous Administrations and will only separate if the child is in danger, there is no custodial relationship between ‘family’ members, or if the adult has broken a law.”

Unauthorized border crossings have always been illegal, but previous administrations did not criminally prosecute all border crossers the way Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has.

Detainees in the US who are charged with criminal wrongdoing have always been separated from their children; by treating all adult border crossers as criminals, Trump’s administration has therefore crafted a policy that leads families to be separated at the border.

North Korean Know Kim Jong Un Is A Liar, They Just Don’t Know How Much

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)

 

North Koreans understand their government lies, but there’s one thing they don’t know, according to a defector

North Korea
Servicepersons of the Ministry of People’s Security met on August 10, 2017 to express full support for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) government statement.
Reuters/KCNA
  • North Korean defector Kim Young-il is the 39-year-old founder of People for Successful Corean Reunification (PSCORE). He escaped North Korea at 19 years old.
  • Kim said that it is obvious to North Koreans that the government of Kim Jong Un is lying to the people about the country’s situation and its reality.
  • The one thing it is impossible for North Koreans to understand, however, is how big the difference in prosperity is between their country and developed nations like the US and South Korea.

North Koreans understand that their government regularly lies to them and feeds them propaganda that contradicts their current situation, but few understand the true discrepancy between their country and the outside world, according to North Korean defector Kim Young-il.

Kim, the 39-year-old founder of People for Successful Korean Reunification (PSCORE), escaped North Korea when he was 19 years old. PSCORE is a nonprofit that promotes reunification, raises awareness about human rights issues in North Korea, and helps defectors adjust to life in South Korea.

In 1997, Kim and his father left the country in the midst of a four-year-long famine and economic crisis that some estimates suggest claimed the lives of between 240,000 and 3.5 million North Koreans, out of a population of 22 million.

The dire situation made it obvious to North Koreans at the time that the government was not telling the truth about country, Kim told Business Insider in a recent interview. Kim, whose organization helps defectors escape North Korea and China and assists them once they reach South Korea, said that, even now, the situation is much the same; North Koreans know their government is lying.

“The people know these are all lies because it’s obvious. When the government says, there is prosperity in terms of food and rice, we see it ourselves and see that there is a drought and there is no food for us,” Kim said.

“When they see that what they say doesn’t match with what is actually happening, they understand the government is lying.”

The one thing that North Koreans can’t know, according to Kim, is the actual disparity between the country and other nations like the US, South Korea, or China.

“They know [those countries are more prosperous and developed], but they don’t know at what level and how different the countries are. They have no frame of reference. All the government says are lies, Kim said. “They have no way to obtain information about what South Korea or the United States look like.”

As Kim told the International Business Times last year, he and his family thought it was normal to “have our freedoms restricted.” It was only upon arriving in South Korea that Kim said he realized “how unhappy we were.”

Giuliani And Trump: A Couple Made In Hell, Both Are Habitual Liars

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Melania Trump’s spokeswoman’s response to Rudy Giuliani is lit

(CNN)President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani shared his thoughts Wednesday during a speaking engagement about first lady Melania Trump and the allegations her husband had an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels.

“She believes her husband,” Giuliani said at the “Globes” Capital Market conference in Tel Aviv. “And she knows it’s untrue.”
Thursday afternoon, the first lady’s communications director fired back at Giuliani.
“I don’t believe Mrs. Trump has ever discussed her thoughts on anything with Mr. Giuliani,” East Wing communications director Stephanie Grisham told CNN in a statement.
It was a sharp rebuke to Giuliani, who according to Grisham’s statement, would have had no knowledge based in fact about Melania Trump and her feelings about the alleged extramarital dalliance.
The first lady has never publicly addressed the Daniels story, choosing instead a path of avoiding all press interviews and not responding, via Grisham, to repeated requests for comment from the media.
Giuliani told an audience in Israel that he does not think first lady Melania Trump believes that President Donald Trump had an affair with Stormy Daniels.
When asked by CNN for his response to the statement from the first lady’s office, Giuliani said he didn’t regret his comments.
“I don’t regret saying it because I believe it,” he said.
He added, “Yes I believe that she (the first lady) knows him well enough to know this one is — what’s the word, fakakta?”
Giuliani also said he hasn’t interviewed Melania Trump about the Stormy Daniels issue.
“I’ve never interviewed Melania, there is no reason to,” Giuliani said. “I took it [Melania Trump’s statement] as she didn’t want to get involved and get called as a witness or anything like that.”
The former GOP mayor of New York also attacked Daniels, an adult film actress who alleges she had an affair with Trump more than a decade ago, personally and denied that sex workers had credibility.
“Yes I respect porn stars. Don’t you respect porn stars? Or do you think that porn stars desecrate women? Do you think that porn stars don’t respect women?” Giuliani said. “And therefore sell their bodies. So yes, I respect all human beings. I even have to respect, you know, criminals. But I’m sorry I don’t respect a porn star the way I respect a career woman or a woman of substance or a woman who has great respect for herself as a woman and as a person and isn’t going to sell her body for sexual exploitation.”

Trump’s lies betray his desperation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE)

 

Column: 

Trump’s lies betray his desperation

Here’s what I hope Robert Mueller will conclude when he is done investigating Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign: The president is innocent of criminal wrongdoing. He did not know of or approve contacts with Russians to influence the election. His interactions with FBI Director James Comey and other Justice Departmentofficials never rose to the level of obstructing justice.

But it would require an extraordinary faith in Trump’s character and a stubborn disregard for his behavior to expect that outcome. If there is one inference to be drawn from everything he has done with respect to the investigation and the Russian government, it’s that he suffers from a powerful consciousness of guilt.

The latest came in a tweet expressing bitter regret that he didn’t choose someone other than Jeff Sessions for attorney general — because Sessions recused himself and therefore can’t send Mueller packing. Trump doesn’t want a fair and impartial investigation; he wants no investigation.

He insists over and over that there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians. But we already have evidence there was — in the form of guilty pleas by Trump aides Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI about their contacts with Russians.

We have evidence in the 2016 meeting hosted by son Donald Jr. and attended by son-in-law Jared Kushner with a Russian lawyer who had promised information from the Kremlin incriminating Hillary Clinton. Meeting secretly with Russians in hopes of cooperating for mutual benefit is collusion, whether illegal or not.

This week, we got confirmation that the statement Donald Jr. issued — claiming the meeting was primarily about adoption issues — was dictated by his father. When The Washington Post reported that last year, the White House denied the story. In a memo to Mueller obtained by The New York Times, however, Trump’s lawyers admitted it was true.

Yet he has insisted that “nobody’s found any collusion at any level.” The assertion is not only false; it’s flagrantly, obviously false.

Over and over, Trump has resorted to complaints, attacks and deceptions. He fired Comey ostensibly because of how the director mishandled the investigation of Clinton. But Trump went on to say repeatedly that he did it because of the Russia probe. Recently, though, he tweeted, “I never fired James Comey because of Russia!” Lying is generally not a manifestation of innocence.

His shifting position on being interviewed under oath by Mueller likewise betrays him. When the question first was posed, Trump declared himself “100 percent” willing. Or maybe it’s zero percent. In January, his lawyers sent a letter to Mueller rejecting the idea.

“Your office clearly lacks the requisite need to personally interview the President,” they told him. “Having him testify demeans the Office of the President before the world.” One of his lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, added another reason for this reluctance, expressing concern that Mueller might “trap him into perjury.”

But someone who tells the truth is in no danger of committing perjury. What Trump might be in danger of is admitting to crimes that could lead to his indictment or impeachment.

Giuliani, however, has not ruled out that Trump, if subpoenaed, might invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. (Trump in 2016: “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”) Nor has Giuliani ruled out refusing to submit to a subpoena.

If that weren’t enough to indicate the president has a large pile of things to hide, Trump now claims the power to grant himself a full pardon. But a pardon would be necessary only if he is guilty of specific crimes.

It’s impossible to exaggerate his lawyers’ claims about his impunity. They say a president may not be indicted. Giuliani said Trump could not be indicted even “if he shot James Comey.”

The president can’t obstruct justice, his team insists, because the president has complete power over federal law enforcement. Anything he does in that realm is therefore legal.

Maybe his pattern of chutzpah and untruth is just the essence of his toxic character, which bubbles over no matter what. But more likely, the conduct of Trump and his attorneys reflects their knowledge that he is guilty of serious offenses and their fear that he will be exposed and punished. He looks like someone terrified of going to prison.

Even congressional Republicans say he won’t do anything so foolish as to fire Mueller or pardon himself. But desperate men do desperate things.

Steve Chapman, a member of the Tribune Editorial Board, blogs at www.chicagotribune.com/chapman.

[email protected]

Twitter @SteveChapman13

Trump’s legal memo to Robert Mueller is a recipe for tyranny

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

Trump’s legal memo to Robert Mueller is a recipe for tyranny

A clear and present danger to the rule of law

Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

Essentially all presidents sooner or later end up commissioning lawyers to put forward an expansive view of presidential power, but those lawyers take pains to argue that they are notmaking the case for a totally unchecked executive whose existence would pose a fundamental threat to American values.

Donald Trump, however, is a different kind of president.

In a 20-page memo written by Trump’s legal team and delivered to Robert Mueller, as reported by the New York Time’s this weekend, they make an unusually frank case for a tyrannical interpretation of presidential power.

Trump’s lawyers say he has unlimited power over criminal justice

The key passage in the memo is one in which Trump’s lawyers argue that not only was there nothing shady going on when FBI Director James Comey got fired there isn’t even any potentialshadiness to investigate because the president is allowed to be as shady as he wants to be when it comes to overseeing federal law enforcement. He can fire whoever he wants. Shut down any investigation or open up a new one.

Indeed, the President not only has unfettered statutory and Constitutional authority to terminate the FBI Director, he also has Constitutional authority to direct the Justice Department to open or close an investigation, and, of course, the power to pardon any person before, during, or after an investigation and/or conviction. Put simply, the Constitution leaves no question that the President has exclusive authority over the ultimate conduct and disposition of all criminal investigations and over those executive branch officials responsible for conducting those investigations.

This is a particularly extreme version of the “unitary executive” doctrine that conservative legal scholars sometimes appeal to (especially when there’s a Republican president), drawing on the notion that the executive branch of government — including the federal police agencies and federal prosecutors — are a single entity personified by the president.

But to push that logic into this terrain would not only give the president carte blanche to persecute his enemies but essentially vitiate the idea that there are any enforceable laws at all.

Donald Trump’s impunity store

Consider that if the memo is correct, there would be nothing wrong with Trump setting up a booth somewhere in Washington, DC where wealthy individuals could hand checks to Trump, and in exchange Trump would make whatever federal legal trouble they are in go it away. You could call it “The Trump Hotel” or maybe bundle a room to stay in along with the legal impunity.

Having cut your check, you’d then have carte blanche to commit bank fraud or dump toxic waste in violation of the Clean Water Act or whatever else you want to do. Tony Soprano could get the feds off his case, and so could the perpetrators of the next Enron fraud or whatever else.

Perhaps most egregiously, since Washington DC isn’t a state all criminal law here is federal criminal law, so the president could have his staff murder opposition party senators or inconvenient judges and then block any investigation into what’s happening.

Of course, as the memo notes, to an extent this kind of power to undermine the rule of law already exists in the form of the essentially unlimited pardon power. This power has never been a good idea and it has been abused in the past by George H.W. Bush to kill the Iran-Contra investigation and by Bill Clinton to win his wife votes in a New York Senate race. Trump has started using the power abusively and capriciously early in his tenure in office in a disturbing way, but has not yet tried to pardon his way out of the Russia investigation in part because there is one important limit on the pardon power — you have to do it in public. The only check on pardons is political, but the political check is quite real (which is why both Bush and Clinton did their mischievous pardons as lame ducks) and the new theory that Trump can simply make whole investigations vanish would eliminate it.

This issue is bigger than Comey or Mueller

Much of the argument about Trump and the rule of law has focused rather narrowly on the particular case of Comey’s firing and the potential future dismissal of Robert Mueller.

These are important questions, in the sense that an FBI Director is an important person and a special counsel investigation is an important matter, but the memo is a reminder that they offer much too narrow a view of what the real extent of the problem is here.

One of the main purposes of the government is to protect the weak from exploitation at the hands of the strong by making certain forms of misconduct illegal. Trump’s assertion that he can simply waive-away investigations into misconduct because he is worried that the investigation might end badly for his friends or family members is toxic to that entire scheme. Trump, like most presidents, has plenty of rich and powerful friends and a much longer list of rich and powerful people who would like to be his friends.

If he really does have the power to just make anyone’s legal trouble go away because he happens to feel like it, then we’re all in a world of trouble.

Netherlands And Australia Hold Russia Partly At Fault For Downing Of Malaysian Jet

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

(FLIGHT MH17 WAS SHOT DOWN WITH A RUSSIAN MISSILE FROM A RUSSIAN HELD MILITARY LOCATION)

Friday – 9 months of Ramadan 1439 H – 25 May 2018 m
Joint investigation team in Malaysia plane crash offers a shattered missile (Reuters)
Amsterdam: Middle East Online
The Netherlands and Australia have taken responsibility for the downing of the Malaysian plane over Ukraine during its flight MH17 in 2014, officials said on Friday, in a move that could trigger a judicial move.
In a statement, the Dutch government said the two countries “hold Russia partly responsible for the downing” of the Malaysian plane, a day after investigators found that a Bock missile hit the plane while it was flying, moving from a Russian military unit in Kursk. All 298 passengers, mostly Dutch, were killed.

Trump And Pence Both Lying About School Safety Budget

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

 1:22
Fact Checker | Has the administration obtained $2 billion for ‘school safety’?

President Trump and Vice President Pence have been touting their commitment to school safety, but the numbers don’t add up. 

“Thanks to the president’s leadership, we’re already providing nearly $2 billion more in help to local governments to ensure security at our schools and the safety of our students. It represents the single largest investment in school safety in American history.”
— Vice President Pence, in remarks in Indianapolis, May 18, 2018

“I recently signed legislation that includes more than $2 billion to improve school safety, including the funding for training, and metal detectors, and security and mental health.”
— President Trump, in remarks to the National Rifle Association, Dallas, Texas, May 4

We first spotted Vice President Pence’s claim of “nearly $2 billion” in funding for school safety but then realized that President Trump had offered a more grandiose statement of “more than $2 billion” during his speech to the NRA.

With yet another deadly school shooting, this time in Santa Fe, Tex., it seems appropriate to figure whether these numbers are real. Pence touted it as the “single largest investment to school safety in American history” and attributed it “to the president’s leadership.”

The Facts

The funding is contained in the omnibus spending package signed into law in March — a bill that the president said he was “unhappy” with. He threatened a veto and then signed it anyway, but promised he would “never sign another bill like this again.”

The vice president’s office directed us to the White House Office and Management and Budget for a detailed explanation of “nearly $2 billion” in funding. An OMB senior adviser provided a list of programs that added up to $1.7 billion, which means that according to the White House’s own accounting the president was exaggerating when he said “more than $2 billion.”

But upon inspection, the vice president is exaggerating too. The biggest part of the figure — $1.1 billion — is for a school grants program that is only tenuously connected to school safety.

The program, Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE), is a block grant, also known as Title IV-A, signed into law by President Barack Obama, with an authorized level of $1.6 billion a year. At least 20 percent of the funds are supposed to be used for “safe and healthy students,” which ranges from school-based mental health programs and suicide prevention to better health and safety practices in athletic programs.

This is what is supposed to represent “school safety” and “security at schools.” At best the administration could claim $220 million of the $1.1 billion appropriation for school security, but frankly that’s a stretch.

Under the law, the grants are also supposed to be used for “well-rounded educational opportunities” — such as bolstering STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education — and “effective use of technology” in increasing academic achievement. No more than 15 percent of the money can be spent on buying “technology infrastructure.”

Indeed, language in the House Appropriations Committee report and the omnibus explanatory statement published in the Congressional Record shows that Congress expected that much of this money would be spent on STEM education, especially computer science training for “underrepresented students such as minorities, girls, and youth from families living at or below the poverty line.”

That doesn’t sound like school security at all.

The OMB official defended attributing all the money to school security because the Education Department estimates “a significant majority of the districts will receive under $30,000, meaning they will have no restrictions on how they can allocate funds.” He added: “The program was designed to be very flexible with the intention of meeting local needs. Since we do not know if districts intend to seek waivers, we have stated that ‘up to $1.1 billion is available for school safety needs.’”

Kirsten Stewart, director of public policy at advocacy group Futures without Violence, a member of the Title IV-A Coalition, says other estimates indicate a “a good percentage” of school districts will exceed the $30,000 threshold, requiring guidelines to be followed. She said it is not clear how the money has been spent in the past because schools are only due to receive 2017 funding by September. The money in the $1.1 billion appropriation will not reach schools until September 2019.

There’s another fishy aspect to Pence and Trump bragging about the SSAE grants. The Trump administration has repeatedly insisted the program should be eliminated, even just weeks before the passage of the omnibus legislation in its 2019 budget proposal. In 2018, SSAE received funding of almost $400 million, but Trump proposed to zero it out, arguing “it duplicates activities that may be supported by other Federal programs as well as state, local, and private funding.”

Congress simply ignored the administration’s objections and even boosted the annual funding by $700 million.

A tip-off that the administration was not happy about this development is that in its official Statement of Administration Policy on the omnibus bill, issued March 22, the OMB made no mention of the SSAE grants when it applauded money in the bill to improve school safety. Instead, it mentioned the inclusion of the STOP School Violence Act, which earned a $75 million appropriation in 2019, and a few other programs in the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services and Justice.

(The $75 million for the STOP School Violence Act came from funds already appropriated for the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, a program developed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, that the Trump administration also sought to end funding for in 2019.)

Note that Pence claimed the funding was “thanks to the president’s leadership.” That’s akin to a student on a group project in high school who repeatedly badmouths the group’s agenda, even to the point of refusing to do any work — and then tries to claim credit after the project earned kudos from the teacher.

The other items on the OMB list are a grab-bag of items totaling about $500 million, such as $71 million for Project AWARE, to increase awareness of mental health issues among youth, $94 million for peer-to-peer mentoring of at-risk youths and $24 million to prevent gang violence.

There’s also $90 million for “school safety national activities,” but that’s mostly aimed at training teachers on how to improve student behavior. That’s also higher than the administration requested; for 2019, the administration wants to cut the funding to $42 million and turn the focus on the opioid crisis.

We would argue that some of these programs have little to do with school security, especially in the context of school shootings. But in any case, even under the most generous accounting, it doesn’t come close to $2 billion.

The OMB did not respond to repeated questions about how it determined this was the largest investment in school safety in U.S. history. Given how the other numbers were fudged, this is also rather dubious.

The Pinocchio Test

On either side of $2 billion, Pence and Trump have been rather misleading with the funding for school security in the omnibus bill. More than 60 percent of the money comes from a pot that is mostly devoted to a well-rounded education or technology, not school safety — and it’s an Obama-era program the administration wanted to zero out. The administration’s spin earns Four Pinocchios.

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Mike Pence
Vice President
“Thanks to the president’s leadership, we’re already providing nearly $2 billion more in help to local governments to ensure security at our schools and the safety of our students. It represents the single largest investment in school safety in American history.”
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Donald Trump
President
“I recently signed legislation that includes more than $2 billion to improve school safety, including the funding for training, and metal detectors, and security and mental health.”
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Trump Blames Own Border Policy on Democrats

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FACTCHECK.ORD)

 

Trump Blames Own Border Policy on Democrats


President Donald Trump wrongly blamed Democrats for a Trump administration policy that will separate parents and their young children caught entering the U.S. illegally.

“We have to break up families,” Trump claimed, because of “bad laws that the Democrats gave us.” But there is no such law. Instead, it’s the administration’s decision to criminally prosecute all immigrants who cross the border illegally that will cause children to be separated from their parents.

In early May, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen directed her department to refer all unauthorized immigrants who cross the U.S. border to federal prosecutors. It’s in accordance with the Department of Justice’s new “zero tolerance” policyon illegal immigration at the Southwest border.

Parents would be sent to federal court under the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and then placed in a detention center, according to a DHS spokesperson. Their children, minors who cannot be housed in a detention center for adults, would be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services for placement in a juvenile facility or foster care if they have no other adult relative in the U.S. who can take them in.

“It is the government’s choice whether to criminally prosecute someone for illegal entry or reentry,” Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., told us.

Trump made his remarks at a White House meeting on so-called “sanctuary city” policies in California. He told Nielsen, who was in attendance, that Democrats were responsible for the “tough” situation involving immigrant families.

Trump, May 16: I know what you’re going through right now with families is very tough. But those are the bad laws that the Democrats gave us. We have to break up families. The Democrats gave us that law. It’s a horrible thing. We have to break up families.

The Democrats gave us that law and they don’t want to do anything about it. They’ll leave it like that because they don’t want to make any changes. And now you’re breaking up families because of the Democrats. It’s terrible.

Since at least the administration of George W. Bush, a Republican president, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has held many parents and children who crossed the border seeking asylum in family detention centers. Those families have been kept together until they go before an immigration judge or are formally removed from the U.S.

Prior to that, “family units were hardly ever detained, but rather processed and released with a notice to appear at immigration court, especially if they met the credible fear of persecution criteria for a claim to asylum,” according to the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank that promotes bipartisan policy solutions.

So, to what Democratic law is Trump referring?

A White House spokesman referred us to a DHS statement regarding a 1997 legal settlement and 2008 antitrafficking law affecting minors who are apprehended without a parent present:

  • Under the 1997 settlement, DHS could detain unaccompanied children captured at the border for only 20 days before releasing them to foster families, shelters or sponsors, pending resolution of their immigration cases. The settlement was later expanded through other court rulings to include both unaccompanied and accompanied children.
  • The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 requires unaccompanied minors from countries other than Mexico and Canada to be placed in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, or relatives in the U.S., while they go through removal proceedings. The bipartisan bill was approved by unanimous consent and signed by Bush.

(We wrote about both when Trump also wrongly faulted Democrats for the so-called “catch and release” policy that allows some immigrants caught in the U.S. without proper documentation to be released back into the U.S. while they await an immigration court hearing. See “FactChecking Trump’s Immigration Tweets” for more details.)

But neither the court settlement nor the 2008 law require the Trump administration to “break up families.”

They require the government to release children from custody after a certain period of detainment, said Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute. But they don’t require that parents continue to be held in immigration detention.

“The government absolutely has the option to release the parents,” as well, Pierce said. That’s as long as they aren’t a flight or safety risk, she added.

Brown, of the Bipartisan Policy Center, said the Trump administration’s decision to bring criminal charges against the parents — rather than follow the civil removal process — will result in children being separated from their parents.

“It is the government’s choice whether to criminally prosecute someone for illegal entry or reentry,” Brown wrote in an email to FactCheck.org. “That is the quintessential definition of ‘prosecutorial discretion.’”

“Historically, most immigrants were not prosecuted, even when the law allowed for it, they were simply removed in civil proceedings,” she said. “The significant uptick in criminal prosecution began under President George W. Bush, and continued through the early Obama administration.”

U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlined the new enforcement actions on May 7.

“If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple,” Sessions said. “If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law.”

Because minors cannot be kept in jails for adults, children would be separated from parents charged with committing a crime, Brown explained. Children would then be considered unaccompanied minors and turned over to the refugee resettlement office.

In fact, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who was Homeland Security secretary before Nielsen, indicated in March 2017 that DHS was considering splitting up parents and children as a strategy to deter other families from illegally immigrating to the U.S.

Other administration officials — including Nielsen and ICE’s top official, Thomas Homan — have since denied that is the intent.

“I want to be clear. DHS does not have a blanket policy on separating families as a deterrent,” Homan, reportedly said at the press event with Sessions. “Every law enforcement agency in this country separates parents from children when they’re arrested for a crime. There is no new policy. This has always been the policy. Now, you will see more prosecutions because of the attorney general’s commitment to zero tolerance.”

Even so, the decision to prosecute all offenders is one that was made by the current administration. It is not a law that “Democrats gave us,” as Trump said.

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Donald Trump
President of the United States
“We have to break up families” entering the country illegally, because of “bad laws that the Democrats gave us.”

Iran And America’s ‘Dumb-Ass’ In Chief: No Plan, Just Stupidity And Lies

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTE)

 

he suspense is over. Two weeks after President Trump ruptured the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran to a chorus of questions about the administration’s “Plan B,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday outlined a new U.S. strategy for contending with the persistent challenges posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

There’s only one problem with the strategy: It’s not a strategy at all, but rather a grab bag of wishful thinking wrapped in a thinly veiled exhortation for regime change in Iran.

Actually, there are about a dozen other problems with the strategy that Pompeo articulated—that being the number of benchmarks that the speech laid out as the prerequisites for any “new deal” that he insisted the administration is “ready, willing, and able to negotiate” with Iran. Despite this nod to the possibility of new negotiations, the substance of Pompeo’s remarks forecloses any realistic avenue for diplomacy with or around Iran’s current leadership. And it will exacerbate existing frictions around a variety of diplomatic and trade issues with all of America’s traditional partners

Instead, the speech heralds an unabashed embrace of go-it-alone maximalism that is not only likely to come up short on Iran, but will also backfire across an array of U.S. interests and allies in an unpredictable fashion. Trump’s alternative to the Iran nuclear deal is a dead end, one that will alienate our allies, disregard vital partners such as Russia and China, and divorce U.S. policy on Iran from even the slightest pretense at multilateral support or realistic objectives. What a terrible waste of U.S. leverage and leadership.

Trump’s alternative to the Iran nuclear deal is a dead end.

MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER

For a president with brash ambition and only the crudest understanding of international politics, maximalism has understandable appeal, not the least of which is that it seems to present a compelling alternative to the approach pursued by Trump’s predecessors. President Obama sought an explicitly limited bargain with Tehran under a framework for issue-specific diplomatic engagement that was first advanced during the latter days of the Bush administration. This was a purely pragmatic calculation that reflected the urgency of Iran’s burgeoning nuclear infrastructure and the absence of any meaningful consensus with U.S. allies and other key stakeholders around the full suite of challenges posed by Tehran.

But in practice, the narrow transactionalism of the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), contributed to its eventual unravelling by Trump. An unavoidably imperfect solution to only one aspect of the Iran problem ensured that the continuation—and in many cases, the exacerbation—of Tehran’s regional malfeasance loomed all that much larger. In the aftermath of the deal, the real and present dangers of Iran’s support for violent proxies, its military entrenchment in Syria, and its relentless domestic repression seemed even more resistant to external pressure or inducements. And with the clock ticking on the expiration of some of the JCPOA’s restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities, skepticism around the nuclear deal’s value eroded the durability of the deal in Washington. It’s worth noting that Iranians felt a corresponding buyer’s remorse, having overestimated the ripple effects of reopening their economy, their compliance assured by the lack of obviously better alternatives.

Trump felt no such constraint. Having made his name as a wheeler-dealer, he disdains half-measures and is convinced he can find holistic fixes to protracted problems. Which is why his new secretary of state articulated an ambitious laundry list of demands for a new deal in his speech today—including a full accounting of Tehran’s past nuclear work, an end to Iran’s support for terrorist organizations, the release of unjustly detained dual-nationals.

Who can rightly argue against these as the aspiration objectives of U.S. policy? The difficulty, of course, is that the speech offered no realistic pathway to achieving them. Insisting on an unequivocal end to the full inventory of Iranian misdeeds is not a starting point for a serious negotiation. It’s magical thinking to suggest that after 40 years and at the apex of its regional reach, the Islamic Republic will proffer a blanket capitulation in exchange for the promise of a future treaty with a government that has just jettisoned an existing agreement.

DIPLOMACY OUT THE DOOR

In this sense, Pompeo’s speech made clear that the administration has no interest in negotiating with Tehran. For that matter, the framework outlined in his speech underscores the administration’s contempt toward key U.S. allies and diplomatic partners, whose cooperation proved critical to securing the nuclear deal in the first place and whose diplomats have been working for months in good faith with the State Department to devise some path to salvage and strengthen the nuclear accord.

Pompeo hailed multilateral support for the goals of U.S. policy toward Tehran. However, he acknowledged that Europe may choose to preserve the 2015 accord, which built on more than a dozen years of British, French, and German diplomacy. “That is their decision to make,” Pompeo said airily, adding: “They know where we stand.” Presumably the same applies for other vital stakeholders, including Russia and China whose extensive political and economic ties to Tehran proved crucial in prior diplomatic wrangling.

Pompeo’s implication was clear: To achieve its voluminous (and in places, redundant) objectives on Iran, the Trump administration is prepared to break with its core allies. And more pointedly, thanks to American dominance of the international financial system, Washington sees little cost to either the threat or its implementation. Financial sanctions leverage the indispensable role of the U.S. dollar and the U.S. market, and their dissuasive influence is not lessened by the formalities of national sovereignty. The implied risks have already sent firms around the world rushing to wind down business in Iran, and in the short term there may be little that European indignation can do to blunt or reverse this.

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The costs to American prestige and influence will surely be higher. Four decades of U.S. policy toward Tehran underscore how difficult it is to make real progress against the perennial threats posed by this regime. The nuclear deal itself is testament to the vital role of a broad coalition that was constructed through dogged diplomacy, led by both Republican and Democratic administrations, around a shared consensus around achievable goals. Resentment of American imperiousness will seep far beyond the usual suspects. After all, if the Trump administration is prepared and capable of bending Iran, a major player in regional politics and energy markets, to its will in order to enforce its mandates, where else might Washington choose to apply this awesome power?

THE REGIME-CHANGE DRUMBEAT

Pompeo did offer one alternative to diplomacy—regime change in Iran. The speech was littered with flamboyant expressions of official American appeals to the Iranian people and the declaration that “unlike the previous [Obama] administration, we are looking for outcomes that that benefit the Iranian people, not just the regime.” Asked how quickly the new “strategy” might be implemented, Pompeo showed his regime-change hand, emphasizing:

“At the end of the day, the Iranian people will decide the timeline. At the end of the day, the Iranian people will get to make a choice about their leadership. If they make the decision quickly, that would be wonderful. If they choose not to do so, we will stay hard at this until we achieve the outcomes that I set forward today.”

This advocacy comes at a genuinely precarious moment for Iran’s internal politics: fissures within the establishment, generational change and the diffusion of information technology, the deep alienation among at least some proportion of the population, and anticipation around succession that had begun to prompt consideration of what comes next, not simply who comes next. A simple, peaceful transition was always a long shot as a short-term hope. But the Islamic Republic’s slow-motion metastasis, combined with the opportunities for political entrepreneurship around succession, offered the first real sprigs of optimism that the end was somehow in sight.

But Iranians are wildly nationalistic and have been steeped in an especially conspiratorial interpretation of the role of the United States and other great powers in their own history. The 1953 coup, in which America and Britain expedited the downfall of a populist prime minister, has been assimilated as an article of faith about U.S. meddling and its counterproductive consequences.

Given this context, Pompeo’s copious sympathy for the plight of the Iranian people will fall flat on a population whose economic prospects are directly targeted by this administration and who the president has banned from even stepping foot in the United States. And his subtle appeal for regime change will elicit a nationalist backlash that will almost certainly subsume the embryonic openings for anti-regime activism.

Iran won’t bend, and it probably won’t break either.

THE PROBLEM WITH ANTI-SOLUTIONISM

The realistic outcome is that Trump will not get his bigger, better deal or his advisors’ hoped-for regime change; Iran won’t bend, and it probably won’t break either. That appears to be an acceptable alternative outcome for the Trump White House. Iran will remain in the penalty box, an international pariah state subject to severe economic pressure and, at least in theory, robust regional deterrence. As former senior Obama administration official Jake Sullivan noted last week: “The punishment isthe strategy.”

This is an approach that vaguely parallels what my colleague Natan Sachs has described as “anti-solutionism” as applied by the Israelis to their own enduring security dilemma—the conviction that “there are currently no solutions to the challenges the country faces and that seeking quick fixes to intractable problems is dangerously naïve.” Instead of reaching for a grand bargain, the game plan is open-ended confrontation, with the goal of limiting the immediate risks and damages.

There’s only one problem with this approach as a long-term mechanism for managing Iran: In terms of advancing American interests in peace and stability in the Middle East, it’s manifestly inferior to the arrangement Trump just discarded, the nuclear deal.

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