The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, July 16, 2019, Page A5, Image 5

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Associated Press
From left: Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.; Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-
Cortez, D-NY.; Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.
Trump digs in on racist tweets
Associated Press
Unbowed by searing crit-
icism, President Donald
Trump on Monday emphati-
cally defended his tweet call-
ing on four Democratic con-
gresswomen of color to go
back to their “broken and
crime infested” countries.
Condemnation of his
comments “doesn’t concern
me because many people
agree with me,” he declared.
Trump responded to ques-
tions at the White House after
his Sunday tweet assailing
the lawmakers, all of whom
are U.S. citizens and three
of whom were born here. He
has been roundly criticized
by Democrats who labeled
his remarks racist and divi-
sive. A smattering of Repub-
licans also have objected,
though most leading Repub-
licans have been silent.
Trump, resurrecting lan-
guage not prevalent in the
U.S. for decades, said Mon-
day that if the lawmakers
“hate our country,” they “can
leave” it.
“If you’re not happy in the
U.S., if you’re complaining
all the time, you can leave,
you can leave right now,” he
said. The lawmakers’ criti-
cism has been largely aimed
at Trump and his administra-
tion’s policies and actions.
It was yet another sign
that Trump, who won the
presidency in 2016 in part by
energizing disaffected voters
with incendiary racial rheto-
ric, has no intention of back-
ing away from that strategy
going in 2020. Trump has
faced few consequences for
such attacks, which typically
earn him cycles of front-page
media attention.
Earlier Monday, Trump
made clear he had no inten-
tion of backing down, asking
on Twitter when “the Rad-
ical Left Congresswomen”
would “apologize to our
Country, the people of Israel
and even to the Offi ce of the
President, for the foul lan-
guage they have used, and
the terrible things they have
“So many people are
angry at them & their horri-
ble & disgusting actions!” he
Asked whether Trump’s
comments were racist,
Marc Short, chief of staff
to Vice President Mike
Pence, defended Trump, tell-
ing reporters he had been
responding to “very specifi c”
comments made by Rep.
Ilhan Omar of Minnesota,
who was born in Somalia,
and was not making a “uni-
versal statement.”
But Trump didn’t make
that distinction in his tweets.
He cited “Congresswomen”
— an almost-certain refer-
ence to a group of women
who have labeled themselves
“the squad” that includes
Omar, Rep. Alexandria Oca-
sio-Cortez of New York,
Ayanna Pressley of Massa-
chusetts and Rashida Tlaib
of Michigan.
“I don’t think that the
president’s intent any way
is racist,” said Short, point-
ing to Trump’s decision to
choose Elaine Chao, who
was born outside the coun-
try, as his transportation
Chao is one of the few
minorities working among
the largely white and male
aides in high-profi le roles in
Trump’s administration. She
is the wife of Senate Repub-
lican leader Mitch McCon-
nell, who had made no com-
ment on Trump’s attacks as
of midday Monday.
Omar ignited a bipartisan
uproar in Washington several
months ago when she sug-
gested that some members
of Congress support Israel
because of money, while
Tlaib riled up a supportive
crowd by calling the presi-
dent a profane name and pre-
dicting he would be removed
from offi ce.
Trump on Monday sin-
gled out Omar, in partic-
ular, accusing her of hav-
ing “hatred” for Israel, and
expressing “love” for “ene-
mies like al-Qaida.”
“These are people that, in
my opinion, hate our coun-
try,” he said.
Trump to end asylum at southern border
Associated Press
Trump administration said
Monday it will end asy-
lum protections for most
migrants who arrive at the
U.S.-Mexico border, in a
major escalation of the pres-
ident’s battle to tamp down
Asylum seekers who pass
through another country fi rst
will be ineligible for asylum
at the U.S. southern border,
according to a new rule pub-
lished in the Federal Reg-
ister. The rule, expected to
go into effect Tuesday, also
applies to children who have
crossed the border alone.
The rule applies to anyone
arriving at the U.S.-Mexico
border. Sometimes asylum
seekers from Africa, Cuba
or Haiti and other continents
arrive there, but the vast
majority of migrants arriving
recently come from Central
There are some excep-
tions, including for vic-
tims of human traffi cking
and asylum-seekers who
were denied protection in a
country. If the country the
migrant passed through did
not sign one of the major
international treaties govern-
ing how refugees are man-
aged (though most West-
ern countries signed them) a
migrant could still apply for
U.S. asylum.
But the move by Presi-
dent Donald Trump’s admin-
istration, even if blocked by
courts, is reversing decades
of U.S. policy on how refu-
gees are treated and marks an
escalation even compared to
other hardline efforts meant
to choke off the fl ow of peo-
ple from poor and war-torn
Attorney General Wil-
liam Barr said that the United
States is “a generous country
but is being completely over-
whelmed” by the burdens
associated with apprehend-
ing and processing hundreds
of thousands of migrants at
the southern border.
“This rule will decrease
forum shopping by eco-
nomic migrants and those
who seek to exploit our asy-
lum system to obtain entry to
the United States,” Barr said
in a statement.
The policy is almost cer-
tain to face a legal challenge;
the American Civil Liber-
ties Union already signaled
it would sue. ACLU attor-
ney Lee Gelernt, who has
litigated some of the major
challenges to the Trump
administration’s immigra-
tion policies, said the rule
was unlawful.
“The rule, if upheld,
would effectively elimi-
nate asylum for those at the
southern border,” he said.
“But it is patently unlawful.”
U.S. law allows refugees
to request asylum when they
arrive at the U.S. regardless
of how they did so, but there
is an exception for those who
have come through a coun-
try considered to be “safe.”
But the Immigration and
Nationality Act, which gov-
erns asylum law, is vague
on how a country is deter-
mined “safe”; it says “pursu-
ant to a bilateral or multilat-
eral agreement.”
Right now, the U.S. has
such an agreement, known as
a “safe third country,” only
with Canada. Mexico and
Central American countries
were considering a regional
compact on the issue, but
nothing has been decided.
Guatemalan offi cials were
expected in Washington on
Monday, but apparently a
meeting between Trump
and Guatemalan President
Jimmy Morales was can-
celed amid a court challenge
in Guatemala over whether
the country could agree to a
safe third with the U.S.
Trump nominates Esper for defense chief
ing defense secretary — a
job he has held since June
— until he is confi rmed as
WASHINGTON — Pres- the permanent secretary.
ident Donald Trump on He reverted to his previous
Monday asked the
position of Army
Senate to confi rm
Mark Esper as the
Filling in for
successor to former
Esper pending his
Defense Secretary
confi rmation is Rich-
Jim Mattis, whose
ard Spencer, who
has been the civilian
December opened
leader of the Navy
Mark Esper
since August 2017.
period of senior-
level instability at the ure as acting secretary is
expected to be brief. Esper
The moment the nomi- will have his Senate con-
nation was received by the fi rmation hearing on Tues-
Senate on Monday after- day and could be confi rmed
noon, Esper was required as early as Thursday. Spen-
to step out of his role as act- cer would then return to the
Associated Press
Esper, who has been the
civilian leader of the Army
since November 2017, has
a wide range of experience
with defense issues, includ-
ing years on Capitol Hill.
More recently he was a lob-
byist for Raytheon Co.,
which does a lot of business
with the Pentagon.
Esper’s former work with
Raytheon is likely to come
up at his Senate Armed
Services Committee hear-
ing on Tuesday. Sen. Eliza-
beth Warren, a candidate for
the Democratic presidential
nomination and a member
of the committee, has raised
questions about Esper’s lob-
bying background.
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