Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Obama personally warned Zuckberberg over fake news

September 25, 2017


WASHINGTON (AFP) – Former US President Barack Obama personally urged Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to counter the rise of fake news on the social network during a meeting held shortly after last year’s election, the Washington Post reported Sunday.The encounter reportedly took place on the sidelines of a meeting of global leaders in Lima, Peru on November 19, two months before Trump’s inauguration and days after Zuckerberg had dismissed as “crazy” the idea that misleading stories driven by Russian operatives had made a major impact on the outcome of the vote.

“Zuckerberg acknowledged the problem posed by fake news. But he told Obama that those messages weren’t widespread on Facebook and that there was no easy remedy,” the newspaper said, quoting people it said had knowledge of the exchange.

The report comes days after Facebook announced it would be handing over to Congress advertisements it discovered were bought by Russia-linked fake accounts, aimed at inflaming political tensions ahead of and following the election.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement.


Afghan President Says Trump War Plan Has Better Chance Than Obama’s

September 20, 2017

(Reuters) – Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s strategy to win the war in Afghanistan will work where his predecessor’s failed because the Afghan army is stronger and Trump wants a regional approach and a harder line with Pakistan.

Ghani also said that former President Barack Obama “did not have a partner in Afghanistan,” implicitly criticizing former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who frequently disdained U.S. policy and the U.S.-led international military force.

“President Trump is not just an individual (but) a team of partners in Afghanistan,” Ghani told the Asia Society in New York, where he is attending the U.N. General Assembly. “The Trump administration’s strategy has the uniqueness of immense consultations with us.”

At the same time, Ghani said, Obama’s decision to maintain some U.S. forces in Afghanistan “ensured our survival” despite advances by Taliban insurgents.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced on Tuesday that more than 3,000 additional U.S. troops are being deployed to Afghanistan under the new strategy announced last month. The number of U.S. forces would rise to around 12,000, compared to a high of more than 100,000 under Obama.

While providing few details, Trump pledged stepped-up operations against the Taliban and an open-ended commitment of U.S. military advisers, trainers and counter-terrorism units.

He also vowed to take a tougher line to end what U.S. officials say is Pakistan providing refuge and other support to the Taliban and other extremist groups. Pakistan denies the charge.

Asked how Trump’s strategy differs from Obama’s, Ghani said Trump’s plan takes “a regional approach” to security and a harder line with Pakistan while providing a new opening for peace talks.

“The message to Pakistan to engage and become a responsible stakeholder in the region and in the fight against terrorism has never been clearer,” Ghani said. “What I am offering the Pakistan government, the Pakistan security apparatus, is the invitation to a comprehensive dialogue.”

“If Pakistan does not take this opportunity, I think they will pay a high price,” he said, without elaborating.

“Afghans are determined to fight,” he said. “No one should mistake our will to defend our country.”

Not only is the army better trained and profiting from a new generation of soldiers, but it gained experience because the massive cuts in the U.S.-led international force under Obama forced Afghans to assume a bigger role in the fighting, Ghani said.

When it was pointed out that the Taliban have expanded their control of territory, Ghani blamed the inability of the police to hold ground.

The next phase of reforming Afghanistan’s security forces will focus on the police, he said.

As for when the 16-year-long war would end, Ghani said, “I think we are not talking a decade or longer. We are talking some limited years.”

(Reporting by Jonathan Landay; Editing by John Walcott and Grant McCool)

Did Obama Know about Comey’s Surveillance?

September 20, 2017

The media is less interested in Obama Administration wiretapping than in how Trump described it.

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This week CNN is reporting more details on the Obama Administration’s 2016 surveillance of people connected to the presidential campaign of the party out of power. It seems that once President Obama’s appointee to run the FBI, James Comey, had secured authorization for wiretapping, the bureau continued its surveillance into 2017. CNN reports:

US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources tell CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe.

The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.

Some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign, according to three sources familiar with the investigation. Two of these sources, however, cautioned that the evidence is not conclusive.

This means the wiretapping was authorized more than ten months ago and perhaps more than a year ago.

It was presumably a tough decision for a judge to issue a secret warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, enabling the administration to spy on someone connected with the presidential campaign of its political adversaries.

One would presumably only approve such an order if the request presented by the executive branch was highly compelling and likely to produce evidence that the subject of the wiretap was in fact working with Russia to disrupt U.S. elections.

Roughly a year later, as the public still waits for such evidence, this column wonders how this judge is feeling now, especially now that CNN has reported that at least two of its three sources believe the resulting evidence is inconclusive.

One would also presume—or at least hope—that seeking to wiretap associates of the leader of the political opposition is not an everyday occurrence in any administration. At the very least, it seems highly unlikely that such a decision would be made by a mid-level official. CNN notes,

“Such warrants require the approval of top Justice Department and FBI officials, and the FBI must provide the court with information showing suspicion that the subject of the warrant may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.”

It seems reasonable for the public to know exactly which officials made this decision and who else they consulted or informed of their surveillance plans. Was the President briefed on the details of this investigation?

And as for the information showing suspicion, where did the FBI come up with that? A September 7 column from the Journal’s Kim Strassel raises disturbing questions, based on recent events and a Washington Post story from last winter. Ms. Strassel writes:

The House Intelligence Committee’s investigation took a sharp and notable turn on Tuesday, as news broke that it had subpoenaed the FBI and the Justice Department for information relating to the infamous Trump “dossier.”

That dossier, whose allegations appear to have been fabricated, was commissioned by the opposition-research firm Fusion GPS and then developed by a former British spook named Christopher Steele. ..

The Washington Post in February reported that Mr. Steele “was familiar” to the FBI, since he’d worked for the bureau before. The newspaper said Mr. Steele had reached out to a “friend” at the FBI about his Trump work as far back as July 2016. The Post even reported that Mr. Steele “reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the bureau to pay him to continue his work.”

Oddly, even though CNN is the source of this week’s news, the media outlet seems less interested in President Obama’s knowledge of the surveillance activities that occurred on his watch and against his political adversaries than in how President Trump has described them.

CNN’s scoop doesn’t even mention Mr. Obama except in the context of Mr. Trump’s accusations of wiretapping against the former president that appeared on Twitter in March. CNN has followed up with another story saying that Mr. Trump’s accusations have still not been proven.

That’s true, although Mr. Trump’s argument may be getting stronger. And whatever Donald Trump’s tweets say, Americans deserve to know how our government came to spy on people associated with the presidential campaign of the party out of power.

The Iran Deal Is on Thin Ice, and Rightly So

September 9, 2017

Foreign Policy

The Iran Deal Is on Thin Ice, and Rightly So

The future of the Iran deal is again under question. President Donald Trump garnered much attention in July by stating he no longer wanted to certify that Iran is in compliance with the agreement, which is required by law to occur every 90 days and thus due again next month. European leaders reacted by affirming their support for the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the Iranian government responded by claiming that it was in compliance — but would take measures to accelerate its nuclear program if Washington were to stop its compliance. Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) certified Iran’s compliance again in June, weakening the president’s case.

But given the extraordinary threat that Iran poses with its expansionism in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere, as well as the ongoing administration review of Iran policy, the status of the JCPOA cannot be sacrosanct.

It’s clear that those within Trump’s orbit are already thinking hard about the best way to remake U.S. policy toward Iran. Former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton recently published a detailed “game plan” for pulling out of the agreement and adopting a course of political pressure on Iran amounting almost to regime change. And this week, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley laid out the case for Iran’s non-compliance in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), without endorsing a specific action by the administration.

The Trump administration, Haley noted, sees the agreement as flawed because it is time-limited, front-loaded in Iran’s favor, and does not end enrichment. Thus, it does not totally exclude Iran’s path to the accumulation of sufficient fissile material for a nuclear device. Moreover, it does not effectively address prior nuclear weaponization efforts, which were left to an opaque side deal between the IAEA and Iran, which now blocks inspections of military facilities.

But a primary problem with the agreement, in Haley’s view, is that it does nothing to curb Iran’s aggressive regional expansionism. This behavior, which profoundly worries every friendly Middle East leader, kicked into high gear just weeks after the JCPOA was signed in 2015. International agreements, particularly concerning weapons of mass destruction, are obviously important in themselves, but their strategic context should not be ignored. For example, while there has been little genuine angst over the Israeli nuclear weapons program, regional and global concern about Iranian nukes has been profound due to its destabilizing regional policies.

The Obama administration’s behavior stoked Iran’s aggressive regional approach.

The Obama administration’s behavior stoked Iran’s aggressive regional approach. U.S. officials in the previous administration were slippery on the issue of “linkage” between the agreement and Iran’s disruptive regional agenda. At times, such as a speech Vice President Joseph Biden made at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in April 2015, officials argued that the agreement was simply concerned with nuclear restraints, and Iran’s regional behavior would be dealt with in other ways. But it never was — not in Syria, Yemen, or elsewhere. Rather, the administration’s implicit position appeared best reflected in President Barack Obama’s 2015 interview with the Atlantic, wherein he argued that the long game engendered by the agreement would help return Iran to respectability and calm the region, while also signaling that he was not overly troubled by Iran’s depravations. He opined that Saudi Arabia had to find a way to “share the neighborhood” with Iran, and that backing U.S. allies in the region too strongly against Iran would only fan the flames of conflict.But Iran’s behavior is now too dangerous to ignore. Tehran has facilitated Bashar al-Assad’s scorched-earth policy, encouraged Russia to intervene in Syria, and abetted the rise of the Islamic State by allowing Assad and its clients in Iraq to oppress Sunni Arabs to the point of embracing the jihadist organization. While the JCPOA itself did not enable Iran’s regional policies or finance its expeditionary campaigns — which were well-funded before 2015 — the agreement encouraged Iran’s behavior. Certainly its huge arms purchases from Russia would not have been possible under the oil export and foreign deposit sanctions, and the agreement gave Iran a “seal of approval” facilitating its aggressiveness.

Leveraging the Iran deal to pressure Tehran, or even negotiating a more restrictive agreement, may look at first blush like mission impossible. Despite the nibbling at the edges described above, there is as yet no serious Iranian JCPOA violation. Under these conditions, as Richard Nephew and Ian Goldberg argue in Foreign Policy, there is little likelihood that the United States could convince the agreement’s other signatories and third parties to again implement U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil exports, which brought Iran to the negotiating table last time.

While this fact seemingly argues for leaving the agreement alone, there are other considerations that the administration must take into account. This includes a looming crisis in the Middle East: The Iranian-Assad-Russian campaign for dominance in Syria, and the American-led Coalition campaign to destroy the Islamic State, are both coming to a close. This leaves the United States and its partners with the choice of pulling out of enclaves in Syria and northern Iraq, which were established to fight the Islamic State but useful to counter the Iranian alliance, or if not, face possible direct military confrontation with Iran and its surrogates in both countries, as they see these enclaves as obstacles to Iranian domination of the Levant. Under such circumstances, no aspect of Iranian relations, including the JCPOA, can be immune from a re-think.

The United States can take measures here short of a full-scale JCPOA annulment — which, given the difficulties imposing international sanctions, would likely be a diplomatic disaster. European allies, for example, recently joined the United States in challenging an Iranian missile test “in defiance of” U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the JCPOA. The issue of blocked IAEA access to Iranian military facilities should also be reviewed.

Iran’s expectation of commercial benefits from the JCPOA is also its Achilles’ heel.

Iran’s expectation of commercial benefits from the JCPOA is also its Achilles’ heel. The administration could discourage global firms from doing business with Iran by leaving open its final position on the deal, and thus placing at risk their business with America. This is a technical violation of the JCPOA’s terms, but of the most unrealistic condition — the commitment to support  Iranian economic development. While such actions would disappoint Iran, they are unlikely to drive Tehran from an otherwise beneficial agreement.Furthermore, as Haley signaled in her AEI remarks, the law passed by the U.S. Congress requiring the president to certify that Iran is abiding by the Iran deal defines “compliance” more broadly than the JCPOA terms does. In contrast to the Iran deal, the president is required to certify that sanctions relief is in the vital national security interests of the U.S. The president thus could hold Iran in “non-compliance” under that act without necessarily stopping — or allowing Congress to stop — American compliance with the terms of the JCPOA. Under JCPOA Paragraph 36, the United States could also reinstitute token or partial sanctions in response to Iranian actions without pulling out of the agreement.

To many in the international community — especially Europe, but less so in the countries closer to Iran — such steps are anathema. But few if any countries really consider preserving the JCPOA their overriding interest in the Middle East: Even in Europe, what really impacts populations is threats from the Islamic State and unchecked refugee flows, which are largely a result of Iran’s policies in Syria. Moreover, a possible collapse of the U.S.-led Middle East security system by an unchecked Iran endangers them more than it does the United States.

No matter what Trump or another president does, the Iran deal is poised to run up against an uncomfortable political reality. Under the JCPOA, Congress must formally terminate sanctions — which until now have only been waived by the executive branch – by January 2024. It defies credulity to think that anything like today’s Congress, given anything like Iran’s current behavior, would take such a step by 2024.  But not doing so would violate a key JCPOA provision and block Iranian formal adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s Additional Protocol. Under these conditions, it may be feasible to pressure those in the international community favorable to the JCPOA to rethink overall relations with Iran, as the “price” for salvaging the agreement’s nuclear restraints.


The Iran Deal Is on Thin Ice, and Rightly So


Shiite corridor from Tehran to Damascus)

 (John Bolton)

(Includes John Bolton’s Plan for Iran and the Nuclear Deal)

Trump’s Malaysia Swamp — Why China Wins While the U.S. Loses

September 7, 2017

Did Tillerson tell his boss he’s repeating an Obama mistake?

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Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak

Sept. 6, 2017 6:59 p.m. ET

A visit to the White House is a diplomatic plum that world leaders covet. So why is President Trump bestowing this honor on Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who jailed an opposition leader and is a suspect in a corruption scandal that spans the globe?

Mr. Najib will visit the White House next week for a presidential photo-op that could help him win the next general election and imperil Malaysia’s democracy. Yet it isn’t clear that Mr. Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are getting anything in return for associating with a leader their own Justice Department is investigating. This could set them up for a repeat of the way Mr. Najib humiliated Barack Obama.

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Mr. Najib oversaw the creation of 1MDB, a state-owned fund that was supposed to attract foreign investment. The U.S. Justice Department alleges that the Prime Minister and his associates looted the fund of $4.5 billion. The DOJ has filed civil lawsuits to freeze more than $1.6 billion of assets allegedly stolen from the fund. Five other nations are also investigating, and Singapore has convicted five financiers of money laundering and fraud. Mr. Najib hasn’t been charged and denies wrongdoing, and Malaysia’s Attorney General cleared him.

Under Mr. Najib, Malaysian authorities also conducted a six-year prosecution against opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on dubious charges of sodomy, for which he was sentenced to five years in prison. That legal farce helped Mr. Najib’s party win a narrow victory in the 2013 election.

So how should the U.S. engage a troubled Malaysia? Mr. Obama cozied up to Mr. Najib and chose to ignore the prosecution of Mr. Anwar when he made the first visit by a U.S. President in 60 years to Kuala Lumpur in April 2014. Eight months later, he invited Mr. Najib for a showy round of golf in Hawaii.

But that precedent is not consistent with Mr. Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” of Washington politics. Two months after that golf round Mr. Anwar was jailed again. And shortly after Mr. Obama made nice with Mr. Najib, Frank White Jr. , who served as co-chair of President Obama’s re-election committee before becoming a lobbyist for Malaysia, sold a stake in a 1MDB-linked solar technology firm back to the fund for $69 million.

The benefits of communing with Mr. Najib aren’t obvious. Perhaps Mr. Tillerson thinks Malaysia will help tighten the financial screws on North Korea, which has long used the country as a business hub. But Mr. Najib isn’t likely to stop his strategic drift toward China. Keeping 1MDB afloat will require cash infusions, and China, eager to help fellow authoritarians, can deploy its One Belt, One Road slush fund. Mr. Najib can then buy off the opposition and consolidate power.

If Malaysia slides into dictatorship, it will almost surely fall into Beijing’s orbit. The U.S. relationship depends on Malaysia remaining a viable democracy. That’s why helping Mr. Najib at this critical moment is a mistake.

Mr. Trump will be told that it’s too late to cancel the meeting, but the U.S. can find a diplomatic excuse in Hurricanes Harvey and Irma or congressional battles. Any embarrassment is better than giving a scandal-tainted leader a White House photo-op.


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Malaysia — Troublemakers ignited two flare, threw chairs and flung shoes and slippers on to the stage when Dr Mahathir Mohamad was speaking. The fracas forced organisers to escor Dr Mahathir our of the venue. Malaysian Insight pic by Nazir Sufari, August 13, 2017.


Malaysians tell Peace and Freedom the real problem is the corrupt government of Prime Minister Najib Razak and the 1 MDB scandal….

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Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that state fund 1MDB has cleared over 3 billion ringgit (S$947.1 million) in debt over the past two years. He had chaired 1MDB’s advisory board until it was dissolved in May 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

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Victoria’s Secret Angel Miranda Kerr walks the runway in 2012.


The Dreamer Debacle — Another Trump Unforced Error? — Trump acted on DACA. Now it’s time for Congress to show heart and smarts on immigration

September 6, 2017

By Steve Cortes

Published September 05, 2017

White House discussing whether DACA deadline can be moved

Congress needs to act to reform America’s immigration laws, following President Trump’s announcement Tuesday that he is phasing out a program called DACA that allows 800,000 immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to remain here temporarily.

The president was right to say it is up to Congress to determine whether these immigrants, known as Dreamers, should be allowed to stay in our country. He explained that the Constitution does not allow the president the power to unilaterally change immigration law by executive order.

Under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which was created by an executive order signed by President Obama in 2012, the federal government allowed children brought to the U.S. in violation of the law to get permits so they could stay here legally for two years at a time, with the ability to renew their permits.

President Obama said he issued the executive order because Congress was deadlocked and couldn’t reach agreement to pass legislation to fix our badly broken immigration system.

Conservatives rightly assailed President Obama for assuming lawmaking jurisdiction, clearly usurping the constitutional authority of the Congress to pass laws.

Even more egregiously, Obama achieved nothing but talk regarding immigration reform when he entered office in 2009 with a solidly Democratic Congress. He instead waited for a politically opportune time before the 2012 election to waive his scepter like a king and pronounced DACA as an edict.

On the other side, many Hispanics and immigration advocates now correctly decry the threat of deportation facing Dreamers, who were brought to America by their parents and had no say in breaking our immigration laws.

Congress should show heart and smarts through a three-part law that would help the Dreamers and at the same give America a sound immigration policy that serves our nation’s best interests.

First, Congress must accede to the president’s insistence on a fully funded wall along our border with Mexico, which was clearly a foundational pillar of his 2016 victory. Our government has an obligation to secure our border.

Second, DACA should be turned from an unconstitutional executive order into a law. But is should also be phased out, so that no more immigrants can sign up for the program. It is one thing to allow people already protected by DACA to stay here. It is quite another to make this a permanent program that would incentivize never-ending violations of our immigration laws.

And third, the RAISE Act – supported by President Trump and sponsored by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Sonny Perdue of Georgia – should be approved by Congress. The legislation would transform our present chain-migration system based on relatives already in this country to one based on skills, so that we welcome the best and brightest of the world who also love our values.

Paradoxically, it is President Trump – so roundly and unjustly maligned by the mainstream media as anti-Hispanic – who stands uniquely positioned now to achieve this substantive immigration reform, and on “America First” terms.

President Trump has, amazingly, largely secured our border only months into office and empowered U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement to accelerate the deportation of dangerous criminal illegal aliens.

At the same time, the president clearly aches for the predicament of the Dreamers themselves. So he is in the best position to achieve a long-awaited solution to their uncertain immigration status.

Many DACA residents know no other country, speak English as their primary language, work legally and raise children who are American-born.

I disagree with some of my Team Trump brethren who believe these 800,000 residents should be “returned to sender” to their birthplaces. In my view, they comprise a totally different category than adults who willfully broke our immigration laws.

So Congress, I hope you enjoyed the August break that you didn’t deserve. Now get to work!

Steve Cortes is a Fox News contributor, former Trump campaign operative and spokesman for the Hispanic 100. For two decades, he worked on Wall Street as a trader and strategist.



The Dreamer Debacle

Cynical politics by both parties puts thousands of young adults in jeopardy.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks on immigration at the Justice Department, Sept. 5.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks on immigration at the Justice Department, Sept. 5. PHOTO: ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES

Updated Sept. 5, 2017 9:07 p.m. ET

President Trump is taking flak from all sides for ending his predecessor’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, thus putting some 800,000 young immigrants—so-called Dreamers—in legal limbo. Though the President and Barack Obama share responsibility for instigating the crisis, Mr. Trump and Congress now have an obligation to fix it and spare these productive young adults from harm they don’t deserve.


Mr. Trump was at his worst during the campaign when he assailed DACA as an “unconstitutional executive amnesty,” though to his credit he later evinced a change of heart toward these immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. The White House continued DACA despite legal misgivings. But in June, 10 GOP state Attorneys General presented an ultimatum: Kill DACA or we’ll sue.

They could make this threat because President Obama unilaterally issued the policy in June 2012 putatively because Congress failed to reform immigration, but the end-run was timed to galvanize his base before the election. He also knew that Dreamers have widespread public sympathy, including among Republicans who otherwise support strict immigration enforcement. He figured Republicans would harm themselves politically by opposing the compassionate policy and that a GOP successor couldn’t roll it back without a public backlash.

This was Mr. Obama at his most cynical, and it takes gall for him to scold Mr. Trump as he did Tuesday for making a “political decision” about “a moral question” and “basic decency.” Mr. Obama’s “political decision” to act as his own legislature teed up this moral crisis and created the legal jeopardy.

DACA allows undocumented immigrants under age 36 to apply for legal status and work permits, which can be renewed every two years. Applicants cannot have a serious criminal conviction. They must attend school, have a job, or serve in the military.

As America’s problems go, these young adults shouldn’t even be on the list. And it shows the Republican Party at its worst that the state AGs and Attorney General Jeff Sessions want to make this an urgent priority, rather than let Congress take it up when it has a less crowded schedule. They are pandering to the restrictionist right that is a minority even within the GOP.

But as a legal matter, they are right that Mr. Obama’s DACA diktat presents legal problems. The Constitution gives Congress the power to write immigration law, and issuing work permits confers a right that is the purview of the legislative branch.

The GOP AGs led by Texas’s Ken Paxton threatened to amend their lawsuit against the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which Mr. Obama issued in November 2014. That sweeping order granted legal protections to four million or so undocumented immigrants and stretched far beyond any reasonable definition of prosecutorial discretion.

In 2015 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed DAPA, holding that the order usurped congressional authority. The Supreme Court left the injunction in place last year. Mr. Sessions is probably right that DACA “is vulnerable to the same legal and constitutional challenges that the courts recognized with respect to the DAPA program.”

But DACA presents distinct humanitarian and economic concerns—as well as a government promise that carries a moral if not legal obligation. Unlike DAPA, which was never implemented, some 800,000 Dreamers have used DACA to reorder their lives.

The Obama Administration invited Dreamers out of the shadows and asked them to submit personal identification and records that could now allow the feds to track them down. These young immigrants have committed no crime and trusted the federal government to protect them. A study last year by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center found that 87% of DACA beneficiaries are employed.

They would no longer be able to work legally once their DACA permits expire. And if they forge work documents, they would become a deportation priority. Dreamers could be forced to return to a country where they have no family and may not even speak the language. Is deporting these people really how Republicans want to define themselves?


The White House seems to understand the terrible political optics, which is why it has tossed the issue to Congress. It plans what it calls “an orderly wind-down of DACA” rather than wait for a potentially disruptive court injunction. Current Dreamers whose permits expire over the next six months will be allowed to apply for renewals by Oct. 5, though no new applications will be accepted.

This gives Congress at least some time to enact the current Dreamer legalization process in a statute that is the proper legal path under the Constitution’s separation of powers. Mr. Trump signaled his willingness to sign such a bill on Tuesday when he tweeted, “Congress, get ready to do your job—DACA!” We hope he means it.

This will be a test of the sincerity of both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Some Republicans like Iowa Rep. Steve King will oppose any DACA legalization as “amnesty,” and will want to load up a bill with poison pills that moderates and Democrats can’t abide. Many Democrats may also be more than happy to block legislation and use the Dreamers as a cudgel against Republicans next year.

An obvious bipartisan solution would trade authorizing DACA in return for additional border enforcement. But Republicans should also be prepared to send Mr. Trump a clean authorization to make good on the government’s moral obligation to these young people.

Appeared in the September 6, 2017, print edition.

Trump took a giant step toward truly legalizing the Dreamers

September 6, 2017

The New York Post

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Even in our divided politics, it should be a matter of consensus that the president of the United States can’t write laws on his own.

That’s what President Obama did twice when he unilaterally granted amnesties to swaths of the illegal-immigrant population. The courts blocked one of these measures, known as DAPA, and President Trump has now begun the process of ending the other, DACA, on a delayed, rolling basis.

In a country with a firmer commitment to its Constitution and the rule of law, there’d be robust argument over how deal with the DACA recipients — so-called DREAMers who were brought here by their illegal-immigrant parents as children — but no question that Congress is the appropriate body for considering the matter, not the executive branch.

Instead, President Trump is getting roundly denounced by all his usual critics for inviting Congress to work its will. Obama came out of his brief retirement to join the pile-on. In a Facebook post, the former president said it’s wrong “to target these young people,” and called Trump’s act “cruel” and “contrary to our spirit, and to common sense.”

This is a lot of hyperventilating, even for a former president of the United States who must loathe his successor. Trump’s decision is a relatively modest way to roll back what is clearly an extra-legal act.

The president goes out of his way to minimize disruption for current DACA recipients. The administration will stop accepting new applications for the program but will continue to consider two-year renewals for recipients whose status is expiring between now and March 5.

This gives Congress a six-month window for its own solution before anyone’s status changes.

The proximate cause of the Trump decision was a threat by the attorney general of Texas and other states to bring a suit challenging the legality of DACA. Attention had to be paid because Texas and other states successfully got the other Obama unilateral amnesty, DAPA, enjoined by the courts.

In his post, Obama waives off the legal challenge. He says DACA is based “on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion.” He maintained the exact same thing about DAPA, and that didn’t save it in the courts, including the Supreme Court.

True prosecutorial discretion involves a case-by-case determination by authorities. Obama’s executive amnesties were sweeping new dispensations designed to apply to broad categories of illegal immigrants.

They didn’t involve simply deciding not to prioritize the deportation of the affected illegal immigrants, but the conferral of various positive benefits on them, most importantly, work permits.

This is clearly a new legal system for these immigrants, and in fact, President Obama once slipped and told an audience, “I just took action to change the law.” Prior to DACA, Obama repeatedly said that he didn’t have the authority to implement his own amnesty absent congressional action — before doing just that.

Now, Trump is giving Congress another chance. It has gotten out of the practice of legislating, but it isn’t hard to see the parameters of a deal: a codification of DACA, putting it on firm legal footing, in exchange for enforcement measures.

Whatever Congress arrives at, it will have more legitimacy than the jerry-rigged legislating of a president wielding a pen and a phone.

President Obama’s executive amnesties rendered the Left’s warnings about Trump during the campaign a little tinny. What was the worst a President Trump could do? Push for legislation and when it failed, impose it on his own? Obama had already done it, and neither the former president nor his supporters have second thoughts, yet warn hourly of Trump’s threats to our constitutional system.

President Trump has exercised his powers foolishly at times, but he’s never exceeded them. What Obama calls, pejoratively, the White House shifting “its responsibility for these young people to Congress,” is really just basic civics. Congress writes the laws, even on immigration.

FILED UNDER            

Trump Will End Program Shielding Child Immigrants, Sessions Says

September 5, 2017


By Chris Stroh and Justin Sink

September 4, 2017, 2:28 PM EDT September 5, 2017, 11:27 AM EDT
  • DACA would end in six months, allowing time for legislation
  • Obama policy protects undocumented people brought as children

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 U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. FILE PHOTO

Trump Plans End Program Shielding Child Immigrants

President Donald Trump will end an Obama-era program preventing the deportation of immigrants illegally brought to the U.S. as children, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, putting in legal limbo about 1 million people who consider themselves Americans.

Trump will delay the end of the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, for six months in the hope that Congress can pass legislation to codify the protections President Barack Obama created.

“Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!” Trump said on Twitter Tuesday morning as lawmakers returned to Washington from their August recess.

Sessions announced Trump’s decision at the Department of Justice, calling the program “an unconstitutional exercise.”

“The policy was implemented unilaterally to great controversy and concern,” he said. Polls show that the vast majority of Americans believe that immigrants protected from deportation by DACA should be allowed to remain in the U.S.

Sessions did not take questions from reporters.

Business Concerns

Business leaders and lawmakers from both parties have warned the president that ending the program would have economic and social consequences. Some Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, said while they don’t agree with the executive action that began the policy five years ago, it should be up to Congress to come up with a more permanent solution.

Administration officials say the decision to wind down the program was prompted by a threatened legal challenge by the Republican attorneys general of Texas and several other states. Sessions, in a memo dated Monday, said the program was “effectuated by the previous administration through executive action, without proper statutory authority and with no established end-date” and would likely be overturned by the courts.

Acting on Sessions’ determination, the Department of Homeland Security rescinded the Obama administration’s memo creating the program and issued a new memo outlining a plan to wind it down. The hope within the Trump administration is that the decision will ratchet up pressure on lawmakers who have repeatedly sidestepped legislative opportunities to address those who entered the country illegally as children.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said Monday that Obama’s action was “a presidential overreach” but that the immigrants it protects “know no country other than America.”

“If President Trump makes this decision we will work to find a legislative solution to their dilemma,” he said in a statement.

Trump’s Promise

Trump during last year’s campaign described the program as unconstitutional and promised to end it on his first day in office. Since assuming the presidency, though, he has spoken kindly of DACA’s beneficiaries and his administration has granted thousands of new permits to so-called “Dreamers.”

The threat from the state attorneys general created a political deadline for Trump to make a decision on DACA. One state, Tennessee, dropped its threat in a letter from its attorney general last week, citing the program’s “human element.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi described the move to end DACA as a “cruel act of political cowardice” by Trump and called for a legislative fix.

“Congress must move immediately to protect these courageous, patriotic Dreamers,” Pelosi said Monday in a statement. “House Republicans must join Democrats to pass legislation to safeguard our young DREAMers from the senseless cruelty of deportation and shield families from separation and heartbreak.”

Under the Trump administration’s wind-down plan, DACA applications received before Tuesday will continue to be evaluated. No new applicants will be allowed after Tuesday. People already enrolled in DACA will continue to be protected until their permits expire, and those whose permits expire before March 5, 2018 can apply for renewals, as long as the applications are received by October 5 of this year.

After that, the administration will reject all renewal requests.

“With the measures the Department is putting in place today, no current beneficiaries will be impacted before March 5, 2018, nearly six months from now, so Congress can have time to deliver on appropriate legislative solutions,” acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke said in a statement.

Legislative Possibilities

There are a few legislative possibilities, including two bills introduced by Republican senators. The Dream Act of 2017 (S.1615) would codify parts of the DACA program, and the Bridge Act (S.128) would extend those same protections for three years to give lawmakers more time to work out a more permanent solution.

Senator Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, also plans to introduce a measure shielding the young immigrants from deportation for five years if they work, pursue higher education or serve in the military.

But Congress faces a time crunch in September: It already must pass legislation to fund the government, raise the nation’s borrowing authority and increase disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Republicans have also been told they have until Sept. 30 to utilize a procedure in the Senate that would allow them to pass legislation changing or repealing Obamacare without facing a filibuster.

Adding a controversial issue such as immigration risks imperiling their agenda and stalling other priorities, chiefly an overhaul of the U.S. tax code.

Conservative Pressure

Trump will face pressure from conservatives and some outside advisers to pair any legislative protections for Dreamers with reductions to legal immigration and stricter border enforcement. That could reduce the chances of reaching a bipartisan deal in Congress.

“There will be lots of members of Congress falling all over themselves to create an amnesty program, but they will include only token enforcement measures without cuts in legal immigration,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that has pushed to reduce both legal and illegal immigration to the U.S. “The president should veto anything like that.”

About 800,000 immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children have received renewable, two-year work permits under DACA and are protected from deportation. Recipients have to undergo a background check and certify that they had not been convicted of any serious crimes.

Ending the program would cost employers $6.3 billion to dismiss roughly 720,000 workers and retrain their replacements, according to a report by David Bier of the Cato Institute. More than 350 chief executives of major companies signed a letter to the president last week urging him to preserve DACA’s protections.

— With assistance by Jennifer Jacobs, Margaret Talev, and Toluse Olorunnipa

Daca: Trump ‘to scrap’ amnesty for young immigrants

September 4, 2017

BBC News

Rocio, a Daca programme recipient, at a rally outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles, California, September 1, 2017
Many recipients of the Daca programme have taken to the streets to defend it. Reuters photo

US President Donald Trump has decided to scrap a programme that protects young undocumented immigrants, according to reports.

He will give Congress six months to draw up legislation to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca), sources quoted by US media say.

The decision, first reported in Politico, is considered a compromise amid strong support for the scheme.

However, the sources cautioned that Mr Trump could still change his mind.

He is due to formally announce his decision on Tuesday.

The Obama-era Daca programme protects hundreds of thousands of so-called “Dreamers” from deportation and provides work and study permits.

According to Politico, the White House informed House Speaker Paul Ryan of the president’s decision on Sunday morning.

Mr Ryan last week urged the president not to scrap the scheme, arguing it left many young people “in limbo”.

“These are kids who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don’t know another home,” he said.

Young immigrants and supporters walk holding signs during a rally in support of Daca in Los Angeles, on September 1, 2017
President Trump has previously said he “loves” the Dreamers. AFP

Mr Ryan is one of a growing number of Republican lawmakers and business leaders to speak out against scrapping the programme.

While campaigning for office, Mr Trump took a hard-line on immigration and scrapping Daca was one of his core promises.

But since then he has said he finds the subject “very, very tough”.

He said he intends to show “great heart” in dealing with what he described as, in many cases, “incredible kids”.

On Sunday, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted: “Thanks to Dreamers’ courage & resolve, #DACA has allowed thousands of young people to contribute to our society. We’re better for it.”

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-American Republican Representative from Florida, also took to Twitter to vent her frustration, saying: “After teasing #Dreamers for months with talk of his ‘great heart,’ @POTUS slams door on them. Some ‘heart’.”

What is Daca?

The Daca programme protects roughly 750,000 people in the US from deportation and provides temporary permits for work and study.

In order to qualify for Daca, applicants under the age of 30 submit personal information to the Department of Homeland Security.

Where do America’s undocumented immigrants live?

They must go through an FBI background check and have a clean criminal background, and either be in school, recently graduated or have been honourably discharged from the military.

In exchange, the US government agrees to “defer” any action on their immigration status for a period of two years.

The majority of so-called Dreamer immigrants in the US are from Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Ryan asks Trump to hold off on scrapping DACA — “Save the Dreamers”

September 1, 2017


  • “I actually don’t think he should do that,” Ryan said
  • A number of moderate Republicans alongside Democrats support the program

(CNN) — House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday gave a major boost to legislative efforts to preserve protections for young undocumented immigrants — and urged President Donald Trump to not tear up the program.

Trump told reporters Friday he was still mulling the decision.
Responding to a question about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, on his hometown radio station WCLO in Janesville, Wisconsin, Ryan said Congress was working on a legislative fix to preserve the program.
“I actually don’t think he should do that,” Ryan said of Trump’s consideration of terminating the program. “I believe that this is something that Congress has to fix.”
Ryan’s statement offers the most public support by anyone in the Republican congressional leadership for some sort of legislation to protect the “Dreamers” under DACA.
The popular Obama administration program — which gives protections from deportation to undocumented immigrants that were brought to the US as children to work or study — has long been targeted by Republicans as an overreach of executive authority.
Nevertheless, a number of moderate Republicans alongside Democrats support the program and have offered legislation that would make the protections permanent.
Ryan, who worked on comprehensive immigration reform before he became part of House leadership, endorsed that approach in the interview.
“President (Barack) Obama does not have the authority to do what he did … we’ve made that very clear,” Ryan said in the radio interview. “Having said all of that, there are people who are in limbo. These are kids who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don’t know another home. And so I really do believe there that there needs to be a legislative solution.”

Trump’s decision


Asked whether he’s made a decision on DACA, Trump said: “Sometime today, maybe over the weekend.”
“We love the Dreamers,” he said.
The Trump administration has been discussing for weeks what to do about DACA, responding to the deadline on an ultimatum issued by 10 state attorneys general, led by Texas. The threat: Sunset DACA by September 5 or the states will try to end it in court.
Discussions have heated up this week as officials have met to chart a path forward. While a decision had been possible Friday, and one source familiar had believed a decision was pending Friday morning, by midday, sources familiar with the deliberations did not expect a decision before the weekend.
Parts of the Department of Homeland Security, which administers DACA, have been told to prepare for a decision but have not been given any potential details of what a decision may be.
Sources inside and outside the administration said the White House continues to explore buying itself time and is also considering allowing the attorneys general to proceed with their threat.
That course of action could potentially remove pressure from the White House, where the President has promised to act with “heart” on the matter and give Congress time to pass a legislative fix, and one source said it was under consideration.
Any action by the President to sunset DACA would put immediate pressure on Congress to act, something the White House and a senior congressional source recognize would be a challenge with many other pressing priorities at the moment, from Harvey relief to the debt ceiling to government spending. A go-slow approach on DACA is preferred, the congressional source added.

Big congressional boost


Ryan has long been sympathetic to the plight of Dreamers. At a CNN town hall at the beginning of the year, Ryan was asked by a young woman protected under DACA whether he wanted her deported. He said he was working with the Trump administration and seeking a “humane solution.”
“What we have to do is find a way to ensure that you can get right with the law,” the speaker told the young woman.
But until now, leadership has not helped the push by moderate Republicans to advance legislation to do so. Four different options have been introduced in Congress, including two bipartisan solutions led by Sens. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, and Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat. Another proposal from Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo has entirely Republican support and is expected to be introduced in a similar form in the Senate by North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis.
In addition to Ryan’s endorsement, another conservative boost on Friday came from Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, a staunch conservative who has in the past supported immigration reform.
“I’ve urged the President not to rescind DACA, an action that would further complicate a system in serious need of a permanent, legislative solution,” Hatch said in a statement. “Like the President, I’ve long advocated for tougher enforcement of our existing immigration laws. But we also need a workable, permanent solution for individuals who entered our country unlawfully as children through no fault of their own and who have built their lives here. And that solution must come from Congress.”
Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, a moderate Republican, announced on Thursday he would try to force a vote on one of the bipartisan bills when Congress returns next week through what’s known as a discharge petition, which would require a majority of House members to sign on to work. The speaker’s office had no comment on that effort.
The bill Coffman is supporting would give DACA-like protections to qualified applicants for three years, but would require renewal by Congress to continue after that.
DACA currently awards renewable two-year permits to applicants who meet the requirements.