Tag Archives: Trump Immigration

Trump Policy Of Sending Asylum Seekers To Mexico Faces San Francisco Judge

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF / AP) — A U.S. judge in San Francisco will scrutinize the Trump administration’s policy of returning asylum seekers to Mexico during a court hearing Friday to help him decide whether to block the practice.

Civil rights groups have asked Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco to put the asylum policy on hold while their lawsuit moves forward. Seeborg was not expected to rule immediately.

The policy began in January at the San Ysidro border crossing in San Diego, marking an unprecedented change to the U.S. asylum system . Families seeking asylum are typically released in the U.S. with notices to appear in immigration court.

The administration later expanded the policy to the Calexico port of entry, about 120 miles (193 kilometers) east of the San Ysidro crossing.

The lawsuit on behalf of 11 asylum seekers from Central America and legal advocacy groups says the administration is violating U.S. law by failing to adequately evaluate the dangers that migrants face in Mexico.

It also accuses Homeland Security and immigration officials of depriving migrants of their right to apply for asylum by making it difficult or impossible to do so.

“Instead of being able to focus on preparing their cases, asylum seekers forced to return to Mexico will have to focus on trying to survive,” according to the lawsuit filed in February by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies.

The Trump administration hopes that making asylum seekers wait in Mexico will discourage weak claims and help reduce an immigration court backlog of more than 800,000 cases.

The Justice Department said in court documents that the policy “responds to a crisis of aliens, many of whom may have unmeritorious asylum claims, overwhelming the executive’s immigration-detention capacity, being released into the U.S. to live for many years without establishing an entitlement to relief, and often never appearing for immigration proceedings.”

Border Patrol arrests, the most widely used gauge of illegal crossings, have risen sharply over the last year but are relatively low in historical terms after hitting a 46-year low in 2017.

A federal law allows the Homeland Security secretary to return immigrants to Mexico at her discretion, Justice Department officials said in a court filing this month urging Seeborg not to block the policy.

The civil rights groups said that law does not apply to asylum seekers who cross the border illegally or arrive at an entry port without proper documents.

The policy followed months of delicate talks between the U.S. and Mexico. Mexicans and children traveling alone are exempt from it.

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

California National Guard Troops To Leave Border, Assist In Wildfire Prevention

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF / AP) — California is calling in the National Guard for the first time next month to help protect communities from devastating fires like the Camp Fire that largely destroyed the city of Paradise last fall.

It’s pulling the troops away from President Donald Trump’s border protection efforts and devoting them to fire protection, another area where Trump has been critical of California’s Democratic officials — even repeatedly threatening to cut off federal disaster funding.

Starting in April, 110 California National Guard troops will receive 11 days of training in using shovels, rakes and chain saws to help thin trees and brush, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Mike Mohler said.

They will be divided into five teams that will travel around the state working on forest management projects, mainly clearing or reducing trees and vegetation in an effort to deprive flames of fuel.

ALSO READ: Newsom Calls Trump Border Policy ‘Comedy,’ Signs Order To Redeploy Guard Troops

“They will be boots on the ground doing fuels projects alongside Cal Fire crews,” Mohler said. “We’ve had them out for flood fighting, several different operations, but this would be the first time their mission would be fuels thinning and forest management.”

They have helped fight fires before, however.

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the first in recent decades to deploy California National Guard troops as firefighters. That occurred on July 4, 2008, after lightning storms sparked hundreds of fires, Guard Lt. Col. Jonathan Shiroma said.

He referred questions about the latest effort to Cal Fire, which is directing the Guard’s new assignment.

The training is similar for firefighting and fire protection. Mohler said the troops also will receive some training in forest management, “so they’re not just out there cutting brush” but understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.

For instance, firefighting crews generally cut fire lines down to mineral earth during active wildfires, while fuels management crews often do less-intensive thinning of trees and chaparral to slow advancing flames.

That often involves creating fuel breaks. They can range from stripping away all woody vegetation on wide strips of land to thinning larger trees and removing shorter trees, brush and debris to discourage fires from climbing into treetops and jumping from tree to tree.

Critics say the work damages forests and can be useless against wind-driven fires, like the one that jumped a river to rain embers on the Sierra Nevada foothills community of Paradise last year, killing 85 people in and around the Northern California city of 27,000 people.

“Cal Fire is taking the Trump approach, logging the forest and weakening critical environmental protections, and that’s the exact opposite of what we need to be doing,” Center for Biological Diversity scientist Shaye Wolf said.

She said the better approach is to make homes more fire resistant while pruning vegetation immediately surrounding homes.

Cal Fire this month listed 35 fuel-reduction projects it wants to start immediately, covering more than 140 square miles (362 square kilometers) — double the acreage in previous years. But state officials estimate 23,438 square miles (60,704 square kilometers) of California forestland need thinning or other restoration.

“It’s not a problem that’s going to get fixed overnight,” Mohler said.

Such thinning operations are getting more attention in recent years, with the U.S. Forest Service estimating last month that 18 million trees died in California over the last year.

The agency estimated that more than 147 million trees have died across nearly 15,625 square miles (40,469 square kilometers) during a drought that began in 2010, while about 1.5 million dead trees have been cut down.

Moreover, investigations have often blamed recent wildfires on utilities not doing a good enough job of clearing vegetation around power lines and equipment. Democratic state Sen. Bill Dodd of Napa has proposed legislation that would require CalFire to tell utilities which trees and brush to remove and then inspect the work.

Aside from Guard troops, Cal Fire also is creating 10 civilian fuels management crews this year. The 10-member crews could help with initial fire suppression if need be but will primarily reduce fuels, Mohler said.

“It’s going to be a pretty amazing sight to see as these crews get out there on the ground,” he said. “There’s hundreds of, unfortunately, Paradises cross the state, (so) the public needs to understand this.”

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Feds Cancel High-Speed Rail Grant, Explore Return Of $2.5B

WASHINGTON — Making good on President Trump’s call last week for California to return billions of dollars in federal funds intended for the high-speed rail project, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Tuesday it would cancel nearly a billion dollars in grant funds yet to be paid to the project.

The press release issued by the Department of Transportation said the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) planned to cancel $929 million in federal grant funds that have not yet to been paid towards the California high-speed rail project connecting the Los Angeles basin to the San Francisco Bay Area.  

Additionally, the Department announced it was actively exploring legal options to seek the return of $2.5 billion in federal funds the FRA previously granted for the project.

FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory notified the California HSR Authority (CHSRA) head Brian Kelly of the action in a letter sent Tuesday.

Governor Gavin Newsom quickly issued a response to the announcement Tuesday afternoon. The statement read:

It’s no coincidence that the Administration’s threat comes 24 hours after California led 16 states in challenging the President’s farcical “national emergency.” The President even tied the two issues together in a tweet this morning. This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won’t sit idly by.  This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it.

The President first demanded that federal funds be reimbursed on Twitter in the wake of Governor Newsom’s State of the State address last week.

The President posted the pointed criticism on his preferred social media outlet early Wednesday evening, tweeting that the state needs to repay $3.5 billion to the federal government in the wake of the Governor’s comments on high-speed rail during the State of the State address Tuesday.

Within the hour, Newsom had responded, tweeting that the President’s post was “fake news.”

The Governor posted a statement saying that the money belongs to the state and has been allocated by Congress for the still ongoing project. He also added a dig about the President “desperately searching for some wall $$” at the end of the tweet.

During last Tuesday’s address, Newsom confirmed that the state would continue work to finish the high-speed rail link between Merced and Bakersfield, dismissing critics who would call it a “train to nowhere” and citing the need to reduce air pollution in the Central Valley and tap into the region’s economic potential.

The Governor’s office later clarified that Newsom was still fully committed to building a high-speed rail connection between San Francisco and Los Angeles, despite there not currently being a path to do so.

The state got $3.5 billion in federal funding to complete the Merced to Bakersfield line. If it is not complete by 2022, that money must be refunded.

During his address, Newsom specifically made note of the federal funding that the state had received for the project.

“I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump,” Newsom said.

President Trump and the governor have been at odds since before Newsom took office. While Gov. Newsom told KPIX 5 anchor Ken Bastida during an interview last month that he is not trying to pick fights with the President, earlier this week, the governor redeployed several hundred National Guard troops from the state’s southern border with Mexico in defiance of the Trump administration’s request for support.

 

President Trump: California Owes Feds Billions For Bullet Train ‘Disaster’

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — A day after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans to scale back the state’s high-speed rail project, President Donald Trump demanded that federal funds be reimbursed on Twitter.

Within the hour, Newsom had responded, tweeting that the President’s post was “fake news.”

The President posted the pointed criticism on his preferred social media outlet early Wednesday evening, tweeting that the state needs to repay $3.5 billion to the federal government in the wake of the Governor’s comments on high-speed rail during the State of the State address Tuesday.

Newsom dropped the bombshell early in his State of the State address, announcing that California would abandon the state’s plan for a high-speed rail connection between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

During the address, he said that, while he respects the vision of his predecessors Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, “…there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were.”

“Let’s be real,” Newsom continued. “The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”

A day later, President Trump responded to that announcement by calling out California — and Governor Newsom by extension — with his tweet.

It did not take long for Governor to respond Wednesday night. Less than an hour had passed when he posted a statement saying that the money belongs to the state and has been allocated by Congress for the still ongoing project. He also added a dig about the President “desperately searching for some wall $$” at the end of the tweet.

During Tuesday’s address, Newsom confirmed that the state would continue work to finish the high-speed rail link between Merced and Bakersfield, dismissing critics who would call it a “train to nowhere” and citing the need to reduce air pollution in the Central Valley and tap into the region’s economic potential.

Gov. Gavin Newsom delivers the State of the State Address at the California State Capitol, February 12, 2019. (CBS)

Gov. Gavin Newsom delivers the State of the State Address at the California State Capitol, February 12, 2019. (CBS)

The Governor’s office later clarified that Newsom was still fully committed to building a high-speed rail connection between San Francisco and Los Angeles, despite there not currently being a path to do so.

The state got $3.5 billion in federal funding to complete the Merced to Bakersfield line. If it is not complete by 2022, that money must be refunded.

During his address, Newsom specifically made note of the federal funding that the state had received for the project.

“I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump,” Newsom said.

President Trump and the governor have been at odds since before Newsom took office. While Gov. Newsom told KPIX 5 anchor Ken Bastida during an interview last month that he is not trying to pick fights with the President, earlier this week, the governor redeployed several hundred National Guard troops from the state’s southern border with Mexico in defiance of the Trump administration’s request for support.

 

 

Pelosi Claims Trump Shutdown Meeting ‘Was A Setup, So He Could Walk Out’

WASHINGTON (CBS SF / CNN) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco accused President Donald Trump of staging the Situation Room meeting Wednesday so he could walk out, calling the move “unpresidential.”

“Not only was the President unpresidential — surprise, surprise — yesterday in his behavior, I think the meeting was a setup, so he could walk out, but I’ll say just that,” Pelosi told reporters in her weekly briefing.

“I don’t even know that the President wants the wall, I think he just wants to debate on the wall,” she added.

Trump and Democrats remain stalemated over funding for Trump’s southern border wall, as the government shutdown enters its 20th day. House Democrats, meanwhile, will continue to vote on spending bills next week to reopen shuttered parts of government — but Trump has refused to sign them unless he his $5.7 billion wall request is fulfilled.

Asked by CNN’s Manu Raju how the House would respond if Trump declared a national emergency, Pelosi said “let’s see what he does.”

“If and when the President does that, you’ll find out how we would react,” she said, predicting Trump will have problems on his own side of the aisle “for exploiting this situation in a way that enhances his power.”

“I don’t think he really wants a solution,” she later added. “I think he loves the distraction.”

Asked what she would say to families who’ve lost family members in crimes by undocumented immigrants or to the opioid crisis, Pelosi acknowledged the deaths were tragic, but she said “the plural of ‘anecdote’ is not data” and that children were also dying in US custody and families were being separated.

“One death is more than we should be able to bear, whether it’s the corporal (referring to Cpl. Ronil Singh) or whether it’s the children, but the fact is we have to have public policy that secures the border and what the President is proposing would not eliminate those possibilities.”

She said it’s important to be “concerned about every death that happens because … we live in an imperfect world and that is very sad, but it is not a justification for having more children die in custody or be separated from their families.”

“I find that appalling,” she added. “They find it normal.”

Pelosi, who represents San Francisco, also blasted the President for tweeting Wednesday that he ordered FEMA to withhold funds to California in the aftermath of the wildfires unless the state “get(s) their act together” and conducts what he called “proper Forest Management.”

Pelosi said Trump had “no right to withhold those funds.”

“The votes he did get in California were in rural California,” she said. “If you think you’re punishing our state, you’re punishing your own voters.”

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten. CNN contributed to this report.

Federal Judge Blocks Trump Administration Partial Ban On Asylum Seekers

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A federal judge in San Francisco Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction blocking President Donald Trump’s partial ban on asylum seekers who enter at the United States’ southern border.

The restriction, issued by Trump in a proclamation on Nov. 9, would allow asylum applications only from immigrants who enter the United States at official entry points along the Mexican border.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar ruled in a lawsuit filed by four refugee assistance organizations led by the Berkeley-based East Bay Sanctuary Covenant.

The judge wrote, “Plaintiffs have established an overwhelming likelihood that the new rule barring asylum is invalid.”

Tigar had issued a temporary restraining order on Nov. 19, which halted the ban, and that order expired Wednesday.

Unless the government successfully appeals or obtains a stay, the preliminary injunction will remain in effect for at least several months until the case is resolved through either a full trial or a summary judgment ruling. Tigar scheduled a hearing on March 19 to discuss the next steps in the case.

Tigar said Trump’s rule violates “the will of Congress” in a four-decades-old federal law that allows asylum applications from people who have entered the United States at any point, “whether or not at a designated port of entry.”

The judge wrote that the arguments by both sides are nearly identical to those made last month, but said, “If anything, the inconsistency between the new regulation and the immigration laws has been stated more clearly.

“The harms to those seeking asylum are also even clearer, and correspondingly the public interest more plainly supports injunctive relief,” the judge said.

On another track in the case, the U.S. Department of Justice last week asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the temporary restraining order while the case proceeds. The department filed that request after the 9th U.S.  Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco declined to grant a stay. The high court had not acted as of this evening.

Spokespersons for the Justice Department were not immediately available for comment.

 

© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.