Trump Touts Recent Immigration Raids, Calls Them A ‘Military Operation’


Philip Rucker
U.S. President Donald Trump pauses during an an interview in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 23, 2017.© REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst U.S. President Donald Trump pauses during an interview in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 23, 2017.


President Trump on Thursday celebrated what he called “a military operation” to round up and deport undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes or caused violence in the United States.

“We’re getting gang members out, we’re getting drug lords out, we’re getting really bad dudes out of this country — and at a rate that nobody’s ever seen before,” Trump told a group of several dozen manufacturing executives during a policy discussion at the White House.

Trump brought up immigration enforcement as he discussed the trip Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly are taking to Mexico this week. Trump said he told Tillerson, “That’s going to be a tough trip because we have to be treated fairly by Mexico.”

Trump then praised Kelly for the work his department is doing to secure the border with Mexico and deport illegal immigrants.

“It’s a military operation,” Trump said, attributing gang violence and illegal drug trade to undocumented immigrants.

Trump was presumably referring to enforcement actions carried out by ICE two weeks ago that rounded up 683 immigrants purportedly in the country illegally.

Trump’s reference to a military operation could raise eyebrows among immigrant rights advocates and even within the Department of Homeland Security. Federal immigration policy is enforced by several divisions inside DHS, including Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the military has no role. A leaked DHS proposal last week to deploy Army National Guard troops to help apprehend undocumented immigrants was quickly denied by DHS leadership and the White House as being under consideration. The unions representing Border Patrol agents and officers have regularly denounced the use of military personnel.

“I do not believe the National Guard to be a good idea,” Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said in an interview. “We’re just setting ourselves up for too much liability with people who have not been trained to do the jobs.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump used the phrase “military operation” as a way to describe how the raids were being conducted, not to suggest that they are being done by the military.

“The president was using that as an adjective,” Spicer said at his Thursday afternoon press briefing. “It’s happening with precision … The president was clearly describing the manner in which this is being done.”

Similar raids were carried out during the Obama administration, and the department played down the significance of the number of people arrested in a Feb. 13 news release.

“ICE conducts these kinds of targeted enforcement operations regularly and has for many years,” DHS said.

But immigrant rights advocates have said directives contained in a pair of memos from Kelly this week would significantly expand the pool of immigrants who would be targeted for deportation, broadening it well beyond the hardened criminals and new arrivals that had been the priorities under the Obama administration.

On Thursday, Trump portrayed the immigrants targeted as criminals.

“They’re rough and they’re tough, but they’re not tough like our people, so we’re getting them out,” Trump said.


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CNN: FBI Refused White House Request To Refute Stories About Russian Contact


Matt Shuham
National Intelligence Director James Clapper, left, and FBI Director James Comey, center, testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian Intelligence Activities.© AP Photo/Cliff Owen National Intelligence Director James Clapper, left, and FBI Director James Comey, centre, testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian Intelligence…  

CNN reported Thursday that the FBI and other federal agencies rejected the White House’s request to refute stories about contact between members of the Trump campaign and Russian nationals, including members of the Russian intelligence community.

CNN’s report was based on multiple unnamed U.S. officials briefed on the matter.

The New York Times and CNN reported last week that members of the Trump campaign and Russian nationals were in repeated contact during the campaign.

Trump affiliates mentioned in the Times’ story all denied that they knowingly had untoward contact with Russians during the campaign. Some, including Roger Stone, later denied any contact categorically.

This article was written by Matt Shuham from Talking Points Memo and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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One Lucky Winner For $435M Powerball Jackpot |The Republican News


Justin Sayers
                     © Provided by USA Today

LOUISVILLE — The winning ticket for Wednesday’s Powerball drawing, which was worth an estimated $435 million, was sold at a gas station in Lafayette, Ind., a Hoosier Lottery spokesman said early Thursday morning.

Dennis Roseboro, director of public relations for Hoosier Lottery, said he couldn’t release many details but confirmed that the ticket was sold in the Central Indiana city, located about 175 miles north of Louisville and about 62 miles north-west of Indianapolis.

He said it’s most likely the second-biggest winning ticket ever sold in the state — a $540 million Mega Millions ticket was sold in Cambridge City in July.

“It’s not quite at that level,” said Roseboro.

Powerball confirmed on its website that the Indiana ticket was the only winner from Wednesday night’s drawing. The winning numbers were 10-13-28-52-61 and Powerball 2.

This is the first time the jackpot has climbed above $400 million in nearly three months.

Powerball is played in 44 states, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The odds of winning any Powerball prize are 1 in 24.9, but the odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million.

The jackpot drops back to $40 million for the drawing Saturday night.


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Mexican Man Jumps To His Death After Deportation From U.S. In Possible Border Suicide


Kate Linthicum
A view south on the bridge from which Guadalupe Olivas jumped on Tuesday morning, Feb. 21, 2017 is shown on Feb. 22, 2017 near Tijuana. Bellow are cars entering Mexico from the USA. (Alejandro Tamayo/The San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)© Alejandro Tamayo-San Diego Union-Tribune-TNS A view south on the bridge from which Guadalupe Olivas jumped on Tuesday morning, Feb. 21, 2017 is shown on Feb. 22, 2017 near Tijuana. Bellow are cars entering Mexico from the USA…  

MEXICO CITY — A Mexican man who had just been deported from the United States fell to his death Tuesday from a bridge near the Tijuana-San Diego border crossing.

A Mexican official with knowledge of the case, but who was not authorized to speak to the media, said it was unclear whether the man accidentally fell or intentionally jumped, but Mexican media cited bystanders and a Tijuana prosecutor who said the death appeared to be a suicide.

News of the death, which coincided with this week’s announcement that U.S. authorities are planning a major crackdown on immigrants living in the country illegally, sparked outrage in Mexico, with some tying the incident to President Donald Trump.

Guadalupe Olives Valencia, 44, tried to cross into the U.S. illegally on Monday, the Mexican official said. Olives was detained by U.S. immigration authorities, who deported him Tuesday morning.

Shortly after, Olives’ body was found on the ground near the El Chaparral border crossing. Next to it was a plastic bag, issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, that contained some of his possessions. Olives was pronounced dead at a hospital.

At least one Mexican newspaper reported that Olives had screamed about not wanting to return to Mexico before leaping to his death. The website of the newspaper Excelsior ran a story on Olives on a page labeled “the Trump era.”

Olives had worked illegally as a gardener in California for years to help provide for his three sons back in Mexico after his wife died, according to his niece, Yuriba Valles de Espinoza. In a telephone interview, she said Olives had been recently deported, and was intent on crossing back to the U.S. to work.

Valles de Espinoza said she believed her uncle threw himself off the bridge “in desperation over the deportation” because he had had trouble finding work in Mexico.

“He was doing this to take care of his children,” she said. “They were his entire life.”

Another family member, who asked not to be identified, said Olives tried to cross into the U.S. not to find work but because he was fleeing problems in Mexico.

After being deported on Tuesday, Olives was debriefed by Mexican immigration agents, who offered him food and transportation to a migrant shelter. But Olives decided to leave the immigration office on his own, the official said. The agents who spoke to him said he showed no signs of distress or mental illness, the official said.

On Facebook, family members of Olives’ mourned his death.

“We miss you so much,” wrote a niece, Jennifer Diaz. “You’re an angel.”                               (Los Angeles Times)

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White House Punts New Travel Order To Next Week |The Republican News


Jordan Fabian
White House punts new travel order to next week        © Provided by The Hill White House punts new travel order to next week  

The White House is pushing back the release of a revised executive order on travel and refugees until next week, an official said Wednesday.

No explanation was given for the delay, and it remains unclear how the White House will tweak the travel ban to avoid future legal pitfalls.

“Fundamentally you’re going to have the same basic policy outcome for the country,” White House policy adviser Stephen Miller said on Fox News on Tuesday night.

He said the new order will largely resemble the old one, but that the changes will be “mostly minor technical differences.”

President Trump said last Thursday he would unveil a more tailored travel ban this week after his initial directive was blocked by a federal court.

White House officials have been scrambling to draft a new executive order, while stressing they are taking steps to ensure a smoother rollout than the last one.

The initial ban temporarily blocked travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. and suspended refugee resettlement for at least four months. It indefinitely blocked Syrian refugees from entering the country.

Chaos ensured after the ban was handed down on Jan. 27, as hundreds of travelers were stranded at airports around the country amid confusion about whether the policy applied to people in transit and legal permanent residents.

The Department of Homeland Security days later clarified the order did not apply to permanent residents.

But that did not stop a federal judge in Washington from issuing a nationwide restraining order halting the ban, which was later upheld by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The White House has signaled it intends to continue the legal fight even though Justice Department lawyers said in a court filing the administration planned to rescind the initial order.  (The Hill)

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North Korea Diplomat Wanted Over Kim Jong-Nam Killing-Malaysia Official


Detectives probing the assassination of Kim Jong-Un’s half-brother want to question a North Korean diplomat, Malaysia’s top policeman said Wednesday.

Investigators have put five North Koreans in the frame for last week’s brazen killing of Kim Jong-Nam at Kuala Lumpur International Airport and have said they are seeking three more for questioning.

They include the embassy’s second secretary, Hyon Kwang Song, as well as a North Korean airline employee called Kim Uk Il, Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters.

“We have written to the ambassador to allow us to interview both of them. We hope that the Korean embassy will cooperate with us and allow us to interview them quickly. If not, we will compel them to come to us,” he said.

Jong-Nam died on February 13 after being attacked as he waited for a plane to Macau.

Leaked CCTV footage from the airport shows the chubby 45-year-old being approached by two women, one of whom grabs him from behind and appears to shove a cloth in his face.

Moments later Jong Nam is seen seeking help from airport staff, who direct him to a clinic, where he apparently slumped in a chair.

Malaysian police say he suffered a seizure and died before he reached hospital, seemingly from the effects of a toxin.

Seoul has said from the start that Pyongyang was behind the murder, citing a “standing order” from Jong-Un to kill his elder sibling, and a failed assassination bid in 2012.

Royal Malaysian Police chief Khalid Abu Bakar addresses journalists during a press conference at the Bukit Aman police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on February 22, 2017, following the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Malaysian investigators are seeking to question a North Korean embassy employee over the killing of the leader's brother at a Kuala Lumpur airport, national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said February 22. (MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images) Royal Malaysian Police chief Khalid Abu Bakar addresses journalists during a press conference at the Bukit Aman police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on February 22, 2017, following the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam, the half brother of North…  

– Trained killers –

Asked whether the five North Korean suspects had masterminded the attack, Khalid said he believed they were “heavily involved” in the murder.

Four of the men fled the country on the day of the killing and returned to Pyongyang, he said, while one remains in custody in Malaysia.

The police chief dismissed claims the two women had believed the attack was a made-for-TV prank.

“Of course they knew” it was a poison attack, Khalid said. “I think you have seen the video, right? The lady was moving away with her hands towards the bathroom. She was very aware that it was toxic and that she needed to wash her hands.”

Khalid said Vietnamese suspect Doan Thi Huong, 28, and Indonesian Siti Aishah, 25, had been trained to swab the man’s face, practising in Kuala Lumpur before the assault at the airport.

Aishah wiped a toxic substance in his face first, followed by Huong, the Malaysian police chief said.

Khalid said investigators had been “very fair” and the North Korean embassy now had a duty to assist them.

Pyongyang and Kuala Lumpur have been at daggers drawn over the attack, with North Korea’s envoy insisting Jong-Nam’s body be returned and objecting to an autopsy.

Malaysia rejected the request, saying the remains must stay in the morgue until a family member identifies them and submits a DNA sample.

No next-of-kin have come forward, Khalid said, adding rumours that Jong-Nam’s son Kim Han-Sol was in Malaysia were not true.

First born Jong-Nam was once thought to be the natural successor to his father, the then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.

But after Jong-Il’s death in 2011 the succession went instead to Kim Jong-Un, a child of a later marriage.

Some analysts have said Jong-Nam was a marked man since he criticised the regime in 2011 to a Japanese journalist, while others said the killing could have been ordered over reports he was readying to defect.

Reports of purges and executions have emerged from the current regime as the young leader tries to strengthen his grip on power in the face of international pressure over his nuclear and missile programmes.



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Trump Administration Poised To Change Transgender Student Bathroom Guidelines


Moriah Balingit, Emma Brown, Sandhya Somashekhar

The Trump administration plans to roll back protections for transgender students and is preparing changes to federal guidance that required the nation’s public schools to allow students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that matched their gender identities.

A White House spokesman said Tuesday that the Education and Justice departments would soon issue new guidance on the matter. He hinted that it would be different from the Obama administration’s position, which was that denying transgender students the right to use the bathroom of their choice violates federal prohibitions against sex discrimination.

“I think that all you have to do is look at what the president’s view has been for a long time, that this is not something that the federal government should be involved in, this is a states’ rights issue,” spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Should the Trump administration reverse the existing transgender guidance, it would be a significant setback for the gay rights movement, which made enormous gains under Obama, winning the right to marry and gaining the ability to serve openly in the military. It suggests that President Trump, who had signaled during the campaign and in the early days of his presidency that he supports gay and transgender rights, will hew closer to the GOP party line.

Gavin Grimm, shown in his home in Gloucester, Va. Grimm, a transgender high school student, sued his school board after it barred him from the boys’ locker room.© Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post Gavin Grimm, shown in his home in Gloucester, Va. Grimm, a transgender high school student, sued his school board after it barred him from the boys’ locker room.  

The decision would not have an immediate impact on the nation’s public school students because a federal judge had already put a hold on the Obama-era directive issued in May. That directive told schools that students must be permitted to use facilities that corresponded with their gender identity rather than the sex listed on their birth certificates.

But it would instantly affect several legal cases, including that of Gavin Grimm, a transgender Virginia teen who sued his school board for barring him from using the boys’ bathroom. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Grimm’s case next month.

A lower court ruled in favor of Grimm based on the Obama administration’s position on transgender student bathroom use. As a result, the change would at least partially undermine Grimm’s case.

Gay rights groups, which expected the Trump administration to change course from the earlier transgender guidance, condemned the move preemptively.

“Such clear action directed at children would be a brazen and shameless attack on hundreds of thousands of young Americans who must already defend themselves against schoolyard bullies, but are ill-equipped to fight bullies on the floors of their state legislatures and in the White House,” Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement Tuesday.

The Obama administration’s guidance was based on the position that requiring students to use a restroom that clashes with their gender identity is a violation of Title IX, the federal law that bars sex discrimination in public schools. Transgender students and their parents cheered Obama’s move to expand the protections, but it drew legal challenges from those who believe it was a federal intrusion into local affairs and a violation of social norms.

The inauguration of President Trump on Jan. 20, 2017.© Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post The inauguration of President Trump on Jan. 20, 2017. The issue of which bathrooms transgender people should be permitted to use has evolved in recent years into a central debate about LGBT rights. Transgender advocates say that allowing people with gender dysphoria to use their preferred restroom is essential for their health and psychological well-being. Opponents say the accommodations violate student privacy and traditional values.

It is unusual for a new administration to overturn such significant civil rights guidance, according to advocates who closely track the issue. And such a reversal is likely to leave schools confused about how to proceed, they say; Obama administration officials said that they developed the transgender guidance in response to requests from school officials.

“Schools repeatedly asked for guidance on how to support transgender students and create a safe and inclusive learning environment for all,” said Anurima Bhargava, who helmed the educational opportunities section of DOJ’s civil rights division under Obama. “The guidance has been, and will continue to be, an important and practical resource for schools.”

Nearly 800 parents of transgender students wrote to President Trump last week, urging him to keep the guidance to protect their children from discrimination.

“No young person should wake up in the morning fearful of the school day ahead,” the parents wrote. “When this guidance was issued last year, it provided our families — and other families like our own across the country — with the knowledge and security that our government was determined to protect our children from bullying and discrimination. Please do not take that away from us.”

The Obama administration’s directive sparked immediate backlash when it was issued last May from those who saw it as a gross overreach of executive power, and several states sued in response.

Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick has been one of the most vociferous opponents of the Obama guidance, calling it “blackmail” and the most important issue for families in schools since the Supreme Court ruled against school-sponsored prayer.

In January, Patrick joined Texas Republicans in supporting a bill that would require the state’s transgender residents to use bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding to their biological sex, not their gender identity. He said the legislation was necessary to protect Texans’ privacy, including in public schools.

“We know it’s going to be a tough fight,” Patrick said at the time, according to the Texas Tribune. “But we know we’re on the right side of the issue. We’re on the right side of history. You can mark today as the day Texas is drawing a line in the sand and saying no.”

In an interview in May with The Washington Post, Donald Trump, then the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, said that he thought the government should protect transgender people but that he would rescind guidance issued by the Obama administration directing schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice. Trump said that should be left up to the states.

“I think it’s something where we have to help people — and hopefully the states will make the right decisions,” Trump said in the interview.

Reversing the guidance would put Betsy DeVos — who was narrowly confirmed as secretary of the Education Department after a contentious hearing last month — in the middle of an equally contentious issue at the outset of her tenure.

DeVos has been accused of hostility to LGBT rights because of her extended family’s donations to socially conservative advocacy groups and efforts to ban same-sex marriage. She has tried to distance herself from her family’s position; in 2004, for example, she and her husband did not contribute to a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage in their home state of Michigan, though several of their relatives did.

At her confirmation hearing, she asked senators not to confuse her record with that of her family: “I embrace equality, and I firmly believe in the intrinsic value of each individual, and that every student should have the assurance of a safe and discrimination-free place to become educated,” she said at the time. And a week later, a spokesman for the DeVos family told Buzzfeed News that DeVos supports same-sex marriage.

But she never said she was committed to upholding the Obama administration’s guidance on transgender students, writing in response to a question from Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) that she would “carefully review the law and all existing documents that are in effect on Title IX to ensure that the Department is faithfully implementing the law as intended.”

Some states and local governments already had been pushing back against the Obama administration’s stance on transgender accommodations, and the Trump administration’s reversal is likely to give oxygen to that resistance.

In the Chicago suburb of Palatine, Ill., for example, the community was divided when the school board decided in late 2015 to allow a transgender girl to change in the girls’ locker room. Now, three candidates are running for school board promising to reverse that policy “for the privacy and well-being of all children,” according to their website.

Others in the community support transgender accommodations in Palatine’s public schools, and they fear that the Trump administration’s reversal paves the way for discrimination against transgender students.

“The guidance at a federal level for transgender students is essential,” said Lindsay Christensen, a Palatine parent. “Thankfully Illinois has strong anti-discrimination laws to contend with if federal law fails. I worry about people in other states that may be left without much protection at all if the guidance is rescinded.”

Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.  


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