Trump Moves to End DACA and Calls on Congress to Act

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to the Obama-era program that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation, calling it an “amnesty-first approach” and urging Congress to pass a replacement before he begins phasing out its protections in six months.

As early as March, officials said, some of the 800,000 young adults brought to the United States illegally as children who qualify for the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, will become eligible for deportation. The five-year-old policy allows them to remain without fear of immediate removal from the country and gives them the right to work legally.

Mr. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced the change at the Justice Department, both used the aggrieved language of anti-immigrant activists, arguing that those in the country illegally are lawbreakers who hurt native-born Americans by usurping their jobs and pushing down wages.

Mr. Trump said in a statement that he was driven by a concern for “the millions of Americans victimized by this unfair system.” Mr. Sessions said the program had “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.”

Protests broke out in front of the White House and the Justice Department and in cities across the country soon after Mr. Sessions’s announcement. Democrats and some Republicans, business executives, college presidents and immigration activists condemned the move as a coldhearted and shortsighted effort that was unfair to the young immigrants and could harm the economy.

“This is a sad day for our country,” Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, wrote on his personal page. “It is particularly cruel to offer young people the American dream, encourage them to come out of the shadows and trust our government, and then punish them for it.”

Former President Barack Obama, who had warned that any threat to the program would prompt him to speak out, called his successor’s decision “wrong,” “self-defeating” and “cruel.”

“Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us,” Mr. Obama wrote on Facebook.

Both he and Mr. Trump said the onus was now on lawmakers to protect the young immigrants as part of a broader overhaul of the immigration system that would also toughen enforcement.

But despite broad and longstanding bipartisan support for measures to legalize unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children, the odds of a sweeping immigration deal in a deeply divided Congress appeared long. Legislation to protect the “dreamers” has also repeatedly died in Congress.

Just hours after the angry reaction to Mr. Trump’s decision, the president appeared to have second thoughts. In a late-evening tweet, Mr. Trump specifically called on Congress to “legalize DACA,” something his administration’s officials had declined to do earlier in the day.

Mr. Trump also warned lawmakers that if they do not legislate a program similar to the one Mr. Obama created through executive authority, he will “revisit this issue!” — a statement sure to inject more uncertainty into the ultimate fate of the young, undocumented immigrants who have been benefiting from the program since 2012.

Conservatives praised Mr. Trump’s move, though some expressed frustration that he had taken so long to rescind the program and that the gradual phaseout could mean that some immigrants retained protection from deportation until October 2019.

The White House portrayed the decision as a matter of legal necessity, given that nine Republican state attorneys general had threatened to sue to halt the program immediately if Mr. Trump did not act.

Months of internal White House debate preceded the move, as did the president’s public display of his own conflicted feelings. He once referred to DACA recipients as “incredible kids.”

The president’s wavering was reflected in a day of conflicting messages from him and his team. Hours after his statement was released, Mr. Trump told reporters that he had “great love” for the beneficiaries of the program he had just ended.

“I have a love for these people, and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly,” he said. But he notably did not endorse bipartisan legislation to codify the program’s protections, leaving it unclear whether he would back such a solution.

Mr. Trump’s aides were negotiating late into Monday evening with one another about precisely how the plan to wind down the program would be executed. Until Tuesday morning, some aides believed the president had settled on a plan that would be more generous, giving more of the program’s recipients the option to renew their protections.

But even taking into account Mr. Trump’s contradictory language, the rollout of his decision was smoother than his early moves to crack down on immigration, particularly the botched execution in January of his ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

In addition to the public statement from Mr. Sessions and a White House question-and-answer session, the president was ready on Tuesday with the lengthy written statement, and officials at the Justice and Homeland Security Departments provided detailed briefings and distributed information to reporters in advance.

Mr. Trump sought to portray his move as a compassionate effort to head off the expected legal challenge that White House officials said would have forced an immediate and highly disruptive end to the program. But he also denounced the policy, saying it helped spark a “massive surge” of immigrants from Central America, some of whom went on to become members of violent gangs like MS-13. Some immigration critics contend that programs like DACA, started under Mr. Obama, encouraged Central Americans to enter the United States, hoping to stay permanently. Tens of thousands of migrants surged across America’s southern border in the summer of 2014, many of them children fleeing dangerous gangs.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, indicated that Mr. Trump would support legislation to “fix” the DACA program, as long as Congress passed it as part of a broader immigration overhaul to strengthen the border, protect American jobs and enhance enforcement.

“The president wants to see responsible immigration reform, and he wants that to be part of it,” Ms. Sanders said, referring to a permanent solution for the young immigrants. “Something needs to be done. It’s Congress’s job to do that. And we want to be part of that process.”

Later on Tuesday, Marc Short, Mr. Trump’s top legislative official, told reporters on Capitol Hill that the White House would release principles for such a plan in the coming days, input that at least one key member of Congress indicated would be crucial.

“It is important that the White House clearly outline what kind of legislation the president is willing to sign,” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said in a statement. “We have no time to waste on ideas that do not have the votes to pass or that the president won’t sign.”

The announcement was an effort by Mr. Trump to honor the law-and-order message of his campaign, which included a repeated pledge to end Mr. Obama’s immigration policy, while seeking to avoid the emotionally charged and politically perilous consequences of targeting a sympathetic group of immigrants.

Mr. Trump’s decision came less than two weeks after he pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff who drew intense criticism for his aggressive pursuit of unauthorized immigrants, which earned him a criminal contempt conviction.

The blame-averse president told a confidante over the past few days that he realized that he had gotten himself into a politically untenable position. As late as one hour before the decision was to be announced, administration officials privately expressed concern that Mr. Trump might not fully grasp the details of the steps he was about to take, and when he discovered their full impact, would change his mind, according to a person familiar with their thinking who was not authorized to comment on it and spoke on condition of anonymity.

But ultimately, the president followed through on his campaign pledge at the urging of Mr. Sessions and other hard-line members inside his White House, including Stephen Miller, his top domestic policy adviser.

The announcement started the clock on revoking legal status from those protected under the program.

Officials said DACA recipients whose legal status expires on or before March 5 would be able to renew their two-year period of legal status as long as they apply by Oct. 5. But the announcement means that if Congress fails to act, immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children could face deportation as early as March 6 to countries where many left at such young ages that they have no memory of them.

Immigration officials said they did not intend to actively target the young immigrants as priorities for deportation, though without the program’s protection, they would be considered subject to removal from the United States and would no longer be able to work legally.

Officials said some of the young immigrants could be prevented from returning to the United States if they traveled abroad.

Immigration advocates took little comfort from the administration’s assurances, describing the president’s decision as deeply disturbing and vowing to shift their demands for protections to Capitol Hill.

Marielena Hincapié, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, called Mr. Trump’s decision “nothing short of hypocrisy, cruelty and cowardice.” Maria Praeli, a recipient of protection under the program, criticized Mr. Sessions and Mr. Trump for talking “about us as if we don’t matter and as if this isn’t our home.”

The Mexican foreign ministry issued a statement saying the “Mexican government deeply regrets” Mr. Trump’s decision.

As recently as July, Mr. Trump expressed skepticism about the prospect of a broad legislative deal.

“What I’d like to do is a comprehensive immigration plan,” he told reporters. “But our country and political forces are not ready yet.”

As for DACA, he said: “There are two sides of a story. It’s always tough.”

In: nytimes

Anthony Scaramucci removed as White House communications director

President Trump has removed Anthony Scaramucci from his new job as communications director, exactly 10 days after he was named to the position, sources familiar with the situation confirmed to CBS News’ Major Garrett.

This comes the same day that retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly was sworn in as the new White House chief of staff.

The New York Times first reported the development, which said that Kelly asked Mr. Trump to remove Scaramucci from his role. The report added that Kelly also made clear Monday morning that he’s now in charge.

Scaramucci had previously bragged that he would report directly to the president rather than the chief of staff.

At a Cabinet meeting earlier in the day, Mr. Trump said, “I predict that General Kelly will go down, in terms of the position of chief of staff, one of the great ever. And we’re going to have a good time, but much more importantly, we’re going to work hard and we’re going to make America great again.”

Mr. Trump named Kelly, who had been serving as Homeland Security secretary, to the new role on Friday, replacing Reince Priebus. Priebus said that he had resigned from the position, which he had served in since the inauguration in January.

Scaramucci was viewed as a provocative figure who bumped heads with both Priebus and Sean Spicer, who resigned from his job as press secretary the same day that Scaramucci was chosen to lead the White House communications operation. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has since taken over as press secretary.

Last week, he came under fire for comments he made during a phone call with New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza. He said that he believed that Priebus had leaked information about the dinner he attended with the president that night.

“They’ll all be fired by me,” he said. “I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus — if you want to leak something — he’ll be asked to resign very shortly…Reince is a f******* paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac.”

Then using a vulgar colloquialism, Scaramucci said that Priebus had tried to block him for months, and was now giving Fox executive Bill Shine the same treatment. The entire exchange between Lizza and Scaramucci was outlined in a story published online Thursday by the New Yorker.

Scaramucci is the second communications director to leave the position. In May, Michael Dubke resigned from the gig, saying that he was leaving for personal reasons.

In: cbsnews

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What ‘SNL’ got wrong in its Spicer satire

Sean Spicer and actress Melissa Mccarthy as “Spicey”. Image:!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_750/trump.jpg

By: Dean Obeidallah

(CNN) – Thanks to “Saturday Night Live,’ we have two versions of Sean Spicer. There’s the sympathetic one who Melissa McCarthy plays hilariously on the late-night show. And then there’s the Spicer who has defended many of Donald Trump’s outrageous claims with false statements and outright lies.

The problem is that the “SNL” version made Spicer far more endearing than he actually is. And this gives us a sense of the power of political comedy. Comedy can be used to make us laugh while reminding us of a politician’s transgressions. But the risk is that comedy can make a flawed political figure seem sympathetic and even help us overlook his misconduct.

Just look at the reactions when Spicer announced his resignation as press secretary on Friday. Democratic Rep. Pramila Jaypal tweeted, “Huge blow for “SNL.” Farewell, Sean Spicer.” Journalist and CNN contributor April Ryan, who had battled with Spicer in the past tweeted, “It is over no more Melissa McCarthy!” While actor Zach Braff wrote on Twitter “actual footage of Sean Spicer” and shared a clip of McCarthy looking forlorn on the streets of New York.

Don’t get me wrong — I had a similar reaction to the news of his resignation. But if McCarthy and “SNL” had not depicted Spicer in the fashion they had, do you think we would’ve seen such a strong reaction?

Instead, many of us would have responded the way The New York Times “eulogized” Spicer on Saturday — as the person who began by lying on day one as the White House spokesperson and only continued from there.

As a reminder, Spicer lied to us at his very first press conference after Trump was sworn in, defending Trump’s baseless claims about the size of the inauguration crowd. Spicer emphatically declared, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period.” But, as the fact checkers at the Washington Post put it, “This is an appalling performance by the new press secretary,” as he made “a series of false and misleading claims in service of a relatively minor issue.” They concluded Spicer’s statements that day earned him the maximum four Pinocchios but added, “we wish we could give five.”

And we can’t forget Spicer defending Trump’s fact free claims of mass voter fraud by making up sources to help Trump cope with losing the popular vote. At the January 25 press conference, Spicer claimed that a 2008 Pew poll “showed 14% of people who voted were noncitizens.” However, the nonpartisan Politifact dubbed that statement false since the Pew poll “makes no mention of noncitizens voting or registering to vote.

And the list goes on of Spicer’s outlandish statements in defense of Trump — from his remark that Adolf Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons” in an effort to gin up support for Trump’s bombing of Syria to false statements about the role Paul Manafort played in the campaign in an effort to help distance Trump from his former campaign manager.

But, for many, McCarthy’s wildly popular depiction of “Spicey” as a likable bumbling character has come to define the former press secretary. In fact, the last time we saw McCarthy as Spicer on “SNL” in May makes this very point. While “Spicey” was defending a Trump lie, one reporter asked isn’t there a chance Trump is lying to you, to which McCarthy sympathetically responded, “he wouldn’t do that, he’s my friend.”

“Spicey” then headed off to confront Trump, played by Alec Baldwin, demanding to know if Trump ever lied to him. Baldwin replied, “Only since you started working here.” Through comedy, “SNL” had erased Spicer’s moral culpability for lying to us by making it all Trump’s fault.

In contrast and thankfully, however, “SNL” has been careful not to forgive Trump’s transgressions. In fact, in that same “SNL” sketch, Baldwin tells McCarthy to “kiss me.” “Spicey” responded, “I can’t — I have a wife and took vows.” “SNL” then reminded us of Trump’s vile comments on the Access Hollywood bus when Baldwin tells McCarthy, “I’m famous — it’s okay.”

In the time of Trump, comedy is playing a critical role in serving as both a cathartic release and source of empowerment for those who oppose Trump. But comedy shows must be aware that there’s a fine line between causing us to laugh at a political figure’s misconduct and minimizing them through comedy that makes him undeservedly likable.

Given the stakes, hopefully comedians will continue to use their skills to remind us of Trump’s misconduct and not turn him into an orange haired version of “Spicey.”

Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM’s radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @deanofcomedy. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his. For more on humor, watch CNN’s “The History of Comedy” Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.



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