Trump Official: 30,000 Undocumented Kids Could Be Held by August

A senior administration official at the Department of Health and Human Services says the agency expects to be taking in about 250 children a day as a result of the crackdown on illegal immigration that started in May, even as President and Mrs. Trump declared in separate statements they “hated” seeing kids taken from their parents. That could mean some 30,000 kids will be detained by the end of August, the official said.

The Trump administration could be holding 30,000 undocumented immigrant children by the end of August as a result of its push to enforce federal immigration laws, which has led to the separation of children from their parents and guardians as those adults are prosecuted, reports The Washington Examiner. 

A senior administration official who asked not to be identified said the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been taking in about 250 children per day in recent weeks (HHS is the agency that is taking in children when they are separated from their families).

An HHS official also added that the agency expects to be taking about 250 kids each day at least for the next two months. If that estimate holds, HHS could be caring for 18,500 more children by the end of August. The official said as of Friday, HHS was already holding 11,500 children, which means the total could hit 30,000 by August.

The practice of separating children from undocumented immigrant adults has become highly controversial in the last few weeks, and the media has highlighted the issue by revealing the horrible conditions of immigration detention centers, where children are being held in cages and separated from their families.

Inside an old warehouse in South Texas, hundreds of immigrant children wait in cages created by metal fencing. One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets, the Associated Press reports.

One teenager said she was helping care for a young child she didn’t know because the child’s aunt was somewhere else in the facility. She had to show others in her cell how to change the girl’s diaper.

The U.S. Border Patrol allowed reporters to visit the facility where it holds families arrested at the southern U.S. border, responding to new criticism and protests over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy and resulting separation of families.

Yet reporters were not allowed to interview any of the detainees or take photos.

More than 1,100 people were inside the large, dark facility that’s divided into separate wings for unaccompanied children, adults on their own, and mothers and fathers with children. The cages in each wing open out into common areas to use portable restrooms. The overhead lighting stays on around the clock.

The Border Patrol said 200 people inside the facility were minors unaccompanied by a parent. Another 500 were “family units,” parents and children.

In a statement last Friday, Trump condemned the practice of taking away children at the border, declaring, “I hate the children being taken away,” but he falsely blamed Democrats for a law requiring it.

First lady Melania Trumo said she also “hates” to see families separated at the border and hopes “both sides of the aisle” can reform U.S immigration laws, according to a statement Sunday about the controversy over separation  of immigrant parents and children at the U.S- Mexico border.

Democrats responded to the president’s statement by saying that no law mandates the separation of children and parents at the border.

They claimed the current crisis is the result of a Trump administration policy that went into effect in May, which sought to maximize criminal prosecutions of people caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally. More adults were jailed as a result of the policy, which led to their children being separated from them.

Mrs. Trump didn’t refer specifically to the Trump administration’s “no tolerance” policy, which was causing a spike in children being separated from their families.

Megan Hadley is a staff writer at The Crime Report.


In IG’s Comey Report, Several Losers But No Winners

Among other things, the 18-month review by the U.S. inspector general makes it clear that there is no basis to “lock her up,” as the popular anti-Hillary Clinton chant at Trump rallies demands.

Former FBI director James B. Comey predicted last month that the Justice Department inspector general “might bang me for [my] decisions.” “Bang” turned out to be a fittingly forceful verb choice, says the Washington Post. In a report published Thursday after an 18-month review, Inspector General Michael Horowitz faulted Comey’s handling of an election-season investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email use as secretary of state. He criticized Comey for his decision to notify lawmakers just before the election that the FBI was reopening the Clinton email investigation, which he had declared closed at a news conference four months earlier. Writing in the New York Times, Comey responded, “I do not agree with all of the inspector general’s conclusions, but I respect the work of his office and salute its professionalism.”

The upshot of the report? For one thing, it makes clear that there is no basis to “lock her up,” as the popular anti-Clinton chant at Trump rallies demands. The president contends that Clinton should have been indicted. Horowitz concluded that the recommendation not to charge Clinton was sound. For Clinton and her supporters, the report gives credence to the view that she was robbed of her rightful place in the Oval Office. As for Trump, it provides campaign material but does not support his contention that he was a victim of a “deep state” conspiracy at the FBI and other agencies. It found five FBI officials whose private communications indicated troubling personal biases.


Family Separations at Border Prompt Protests, GOP Rift

Amid protests across the country Thursday, the White House and attorney general cited Bible verses to support the separation of families at the Mexican border, a practice that a leading Democrat called “barbaric.” House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans said they are not comfortable with the situation.

Congressional Republicans have distanced themselves from the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border even as the White House and Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the Bible in defending the “zero tolerance” approach to illegal border crossings, reports the Associated Press. House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans said they were not comfortable with family separations, which spiked dramatically after the Justice Department adopted a policy in April of referring all illegal border crossers for prosecution. Meanwhile, thousands of people demonstrated the family separations in dozens of communities on Thursday, including Los Angeles, Austin, Texas, and Suffolk County, N.Y.

In an unusually tense series of exchanges in the White House briefing room, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders blamed Democrats for the policy separating children from parents and wrongly insisted the administration had made no changes increasing the tactics’ use. Ryan and other GOP lawmakers said they are seeking to resolve the problem in a compromise immigration bill. A draft of that bill released Thursday would keep children with their families while they are in Homeland Security Department custody. Ryan claimed Thursday that the family-separation policy is being dictated by a court ruling that prevents children who enter the country illegally from being held in custody for long periods. But House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said President Trump could “stop the practice on a dime.” She called the Trump administration’s separation policy “barbaric.”


Scathing NY Lawsuit Cites Self-Dealing by Trump Foundation

In a stunning rebuke of a sitting president, the New York State attorney general’s lawsuit accuses Trump’s charity and his family of sweeping violations of campaign finance laws, self-dealing and illegal coordination with the presidential campaign. The suit seeks to shutter the foundation and bar Trump and three of his children from serving on the boards of nonprofits.

The New York State attorney general’s office filed a scathingly worded lawsuit on Thursday that accuses the Donald J. Trump Foundation and the Trump family of sweeping violations of campaign finance laws, self-dealing and illegal coordination with the presidential campaign, reports the New York Times. The lawsuit, which seeks to dissolve the foundation and bar President Trump and three of his children from serving on the boards of nonprofits, was an extraordinary rebuke of a sitting president. The attorney general also sent referral letters to the IRS and the Federal Election Commission for possible further action, adding to Trump’s extensive legal problems.

The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, culminated a nearly two-year investigation of Trump’s charity, which became a subject of scrutiny during the 2016 presidential campaign. While such foundations are supposed to be devoted to charitable activities, the complaint asserts that Trump’s was often used to curry political favor or settle legal claims against his various businesses, and even spent $10,000 on a portrait of Trump that was hung at one of his golf clubs. The portrait was one of several examples of the foundation being used in “at least five self-dealing transactions,” according to the attorney general’s office, violating tax regulations that prohibit using nonprofit charities for private interests.

Trump Minions Scour Bygone Immigrant Records for Fraud

The Trump administration is analyzing old fingerprints in an unprecedented effort to rescind American citizenship from immigrants who may have lied or falsified information on their naturalization forms.

The Trump administration is analyzing decades-old fingerprints in an unprecedented effort to rescind American citizenship from immigrants who may have lied or falsified information on their naturalization forms, says the Washington Post. Revoking citizenship has long been treated as a rare and drastic measure by immigration authorities, reserved for foreigners who commit egregious crimes or acts of fraud, or pose a threat to national security. But under a new policy first reported by the Associated Press, L. Francis Cissa, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), has ordered an investigation of thousands of old fingerprint records and files to determine whether foreigners made false or fraudulent statements in their attempts to obtain legal residency in the United States.

Homeland Security investigators are digitizing fingerprints collected in the 1990s and comparing them with more recent prints provided by foreigners who apply for legal residency and U.S. citizenship. If decades-old fingerprints gathered during a deportation match those of someone who did not disclose that deportation on their naturalization application or used a different name, that individual could be targeted by a new Los Angeles-based investigative division. Violators will be referred to federal courts where they could be stripped of citizenship and potentially deported. According to the latest USCIS data, 2,536 naturalization cases have prompted in-depth reviews so far. Ninety-five of those cases have been referred to the Justice Department. Only a federal judge — not USCIS — has the authority to revoke citizenship.


Border Patrol Union: Trump’s Guard Deployment ‘a Waste’

In a dramatic departure from his support of Trump, the head of the national Border Patrol union called the ballyhooed deployment of National Guard troops on the border “a colossal waste of resources…We have seen no benefit.”

A month after President Trump called for sending National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, the head of the national Border Patrol union called the deployment “a colossal waste of resources,” reports the Los Angeles Times.”We have seen no benefit,” said Brandon Judd, president of the union that represents 15,000 agents, the National Border Patrol Council. The criticism is a dramatic departure for the group, which endorsed Trump’s candidacy for president and has praised his border security efforts, including National Guard deployments. “When I found out the National Guard was going to be on the border I was extremely excited,” Judd said, because previous deployments on the border helped alleviate the Border Patrol’s workload. He said that hasn’t happened.

About 1,600 National Guard troops were deployed on the border. About 750 more troops may soon be added in support roles, and the total could reach 4,000 “based on requests for assistance and what they need,” said Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. Davis declined to comment on the remarks by the Border Patrol union. A Border Patrol spokeswoman said National Guard troops had assisted with 3,924 deportations, 1,116 “turn backs” of migrants into Mexico and the seizure of 3,486 pounds of marijuana — all by operating support technology and equipment. She said they had replaced some Border Patrol agents at observation posts. Border Patrol Acting Chief Carla Provost responded to the union’s claims by acknowledging that the National Guard’s role has changed compared with past deployments.


Could ‘Ideologue’ Otis Inject Politics Into Sentencing Panel?

Bill Otis, “the arch-nemesis of criminal justice reform,” is one of four people nominated by the Trump administration for vacancies on the nonpartisan U.S. Sentencing Commission. The New Republic says Otis’ nomination could upset the balance of a body tasked with using data, not politics, to set sentencing policies.

Bill Otis

Bill Otis. Courtesy Federalist Society

In an article headlined “The Man Who Hates Criminal Justice Reform,” The New Republic profiles Bill Otis, a former federal prosecutor and special counsel to President George H.W. Bush who has been nominated by President Trump to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Otis is a sharp critic of the criminal justice reform movement in America.

Last year, the Georgetown adjunct law professor told NPR that mandatory-minimum sentences were a “big success,” citing the drop-off in crime since the 1980s.

He was even more blunt in the Crime and Consequences blog:

“Q: Where do the ideas behind sentencing reform lead?” he asked last February. “A: To the morgue.”

And don’t get him started on racial disparities in imprisonment. “They are NOT caused by racism,” he wrote in a 2013 blog post.

“They are caused by making choices. Of course the question is then asked: Well, why do blacks make, proportionately speaking, more criminal choices than whites? Isn’t that because of the damaging effects of white people’s racial bigotry? And the answer, which we must not hesitate to give, is ‘no.’”

Kevin Ring, the president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, calls Otis an ideologue and “the arch-nemesis of criminal justice reform.”

The seven-member sentencing commission was created by Congress in 1984 precisely so it could avoid politicized battles when crafting federal sentencing guidelines. Otis’s nomination could upset that balance. Its main function is to draft and revise federal sentencing guidelines, which aim to impose a degree of uniformity on federal criminal sentences nationwide.

It has been able to reduce thousands of sentences for non-violent federal prisoners. The commission also functions as a clearinghouse of sorts for criminal justice data and statistical reports.

See also Otis’ Op Ed in The Crime Report, “Memo to Lynch: Reach Out to your opponents.


Trump Muses Over Yanking Credentials from Media Enemies

Apparently prompted by his favorite TV show, “Fox and Friends,” Trump tweeted that the media was “working overtime” against him. “Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt?” he wrote on Twitter. “Take away credentials?”

President Trump on Wednesday raised the prospect of taking away credentials from news media outlets that he believes are reporting negatively on his administration, claiming that the “Fake News” is “working overtime” against him, reports the Washington Post. “Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt?” Trump tweeted. “Take away credentials?” Trump has long been critical of the news media, but taking away the credentials of White House reporters who cover him would take his animus to a new level.

As is often the case, his tweet likely was touched off by his favorite TV show. The Twitter missive closely followed a “Fox & Friends” discussion about a Media Research Center study suggesting that 91 percent of network news stories about him are negative. During his presidential bid, Trump’s campaign temporarily banned several news organizations from his rallies, including The Washington Post, citing dissatisfaction with the coverage. If Trump were to carry through with his threat now that he’s president, it would be at odds with a pledge he made during a November 2015 interview with Time magazine. Trump was asked: “Could you assure that even news outlets that you feel are being very unfair to you will continue to have their credentials at the White House if you’re elected President?” Trump responded: “Oh yeah, I would do that. It doesn’t mean I’d be nice to them. I tend to do what I do. If people aren’t treating me right, I don’t treat them right.”


Guns in Schools: The Nuanced View From ‘Trump Country’

Few messages are more alarming to the parent of a schoolchild than a “lockdown” alert from a school. When an incident near a small Catholic school in Gainesville, Fl. triggered that alert it reinforced some local views that having weapons available in schools made sense. But not everyone in this conservative pro-Trump stronghold agrees.

Art work at Saint Patrick’s Interparish school. Photo by Megan Hadley

“Personally, with the way things are going now, I think teachers should be allowed to have protection,” said Lady L, the mother of an eight-year-old boy at Saint Patrick Interparish school in Gainesville, Fl., and a firm supporter of allowing teachers to carry guns in schools.

Saint Patrick’s, a small Catholic grade school, was on lockdown last Wednesday, due to an attempted armed robbery at a bank just down the street.

Fearful for her child’s life, Lady L (who asked that her real name be withheld) texted the school for permission to come and pick up her child, but he was not allowed to leave.

“I didn’t know what to think,” she told The Crime Report.

While gun control remains a widely polarized issue nationally, with President Donald Trump voicing his support for guns in schools at the National Rifle Association Convention last Friday, and gun control advocates making clear their fierce opposition to the idea, those closest to the problem have a much more nuanced reaction.  

Here in the so-called Florida “Panhandle,” in the state’s northwest corner, where conservative voters helped Trump win the state in 2016,  gun ownership is common. But the mood in this part of “Trump Country”  reflects both fear and anxiety.

Saint Patrick Parish. Photo by Megan Hadley

As we stood on the church steps, Lady L described the realities of what she called the “natural world,” a world where humans need to protect themselves, especially in present times, because people are “doing strange things.”

“You never know. People are bringing guns in churches these days and when you leave the house you don’t know if you’re coming back home,” she said.

Richard Shalack, a local gun shop owner in Gainesville, carries not one, but two guns on him at all times.

Shalack agreed that teachers have a right to defend themselves in the school, and if they carry a concealed weapons permit, they should be allowed a gun in the classroom to protect themselves and their students against a possible shooter.

“It’s common sense” he told me. “You are responsible for your own protection. You are responsible for your own safety.”

Maurice Moore, who retired after teaching school  in Florida for 35 years, would have brought his gun to class if it were an option.

Moore also spent time in the air force, and said that his training made him qualified to handle a gun in the classroom.

“I think it should be open to teachers who want to do it and who are qualified.” If they are military personal, such as myself, who know about weapons and guns, I would be comfortable with it, he said.

Since the mass shooting in a Parkland, FL high school that left 17 dead and 17 injured, and prompted walkouts and rallies across the country, research shows a large uptick in school-based violent incidents.

Data from the Educator’s School Safety Network found more than 70 violent incidents in schools each day, prompting lockdowns and other safety measures.

Although one consequence is that 57 percent of young people surveyed  report being fearful in their schools, according to a report released by the Center for American Progress, others contend that arming teachers or school resource officers will address those fears.

Shalack- owner of Gainesville Guns-  used the example of the gym coach at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who died to support his argument.

Richard Shalack, owner of Gainesville Guns, shows some of his wares. Photo by Megan Hadley

The gym coach used his body as a shield to protect his students, and consequently was shot down.

If he had a concealed weapon, instead of having a 17 loss that day, it could’ve been a two-loss,” he said. 

Currentlyat least 15 states already arm teachers, including Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and, as of this March, Florida.

And now Louisiana is considering gun legislation that would allow visitors with concealed weapon permits to carry their guns on school and college campuses.

See also: Louisiana is Latest State to Consider Allowing Guns in Schools.

While arming teachers is one facet of the gun control debate, whether or not mentally ill individuals should be allowed to purchase a gun remains unsettled.

Shalack, a firearms dealer for 33 years, said that he “never would have sold a gun to the kid that shot up Parkland” because he “weeds out the crazies” before selling them guns.

Signs in Shalack’s store make his political sympathies clear. Photo by Megan Hadley

Not wanting to end up in court with a lawsuit against him, Mr. Shalack only sells guns to individuals with a concealed weapons permit, above the age of 21, after having what he describes as an in-depth conversation with them.

He keeps his guns in the back, and refuses to sell any firearms to individuals who are “too emotional” or “acting weird.”

In the state of Florida, it is not required to have a license or permit to purchase a gun, leaving the sale of firearms to the discretion of firearm dealers. 

Yet on a federal level, unlicensed sellers are exempt from having to perform any background check before selling a firearm, a loophole that The Giffords Law Center calls particularly dangerous.

But according to the principal of a small grade school in Gainesville, FL, who asked to remain anonymous, the answer to gun control is to simply stop making firearms.

More guns means more killing, he said.

“What do we need guns for?” he asked. “Guns are designed to kill people. If you don’t own a gun then I don’t need to gun.”

Logistically, he noted that the states would waste money training and equipping teachers with guns, and that money could be spent elsewhere.

He said that schools need better mental health care for students, not more guns.

The school guidance counselor, who asked to remain anonymous as well, also cited mental health as the determining factor for reducing school violence.

She pointed to the need for changing the stigma associated with mental illness.

“A huge part of the solution is increase in mental health funding- that’s what I see with my kids,” she said.

But as state legislators across the country move towards arming teachers with guns, students, particularly in low-income, minority communities, could be in greater danger than their white, wealthier counterparts, one expert told TCR. 

Hailey Nolasco

Photo of Hailey Nolasco

Hailey Nolasco from the Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence in New York City painted a grim picture of  the risks when a new teacher comes to work in a school in an unfamiliar and violent neighborhood. If the teacher were armed, the gun might be used in response to a perceived threat from a student, she said. 

Likewise, the teachers are also in danger: a violent student could disarm the teacher and take the gun, she mentioned. 

For Nolasco, guns in schools are “ just the wrong way to go” because there is a sense that law enforcement is “everywhere.”

She related schools where teachers carry guns and students have to walk through metal detectors to prison, which is certainly not a “conducive learning environment.”

Instead, she pointed to a model used in New York City’s Mayor’s office called the ‘cure violence model’ which aims to reduce violence in the schools. While the ‘cure violence model’ is an international approach to reducing harm, NYC has created a unique subset called ‘crisis management in the schools’.

Now, a trained official, someone who has experience with gun violence, possibly someone who has been in prison for gun use, goes into the schools and mediates dangerous situations.

“Instead of relying on law enforcement, it’s wholistic approach where young people can relate to people who have had similar experiences.” Nolasco said.

And now, New York is the safest it’s ever been, she concluded.

Megan Hadley is a staff reporter for The Crime Report.


DOJ Accused of ‘Erasing’ LGBTQ Teens from Crime Survey

The Trump administration is seeking to change Obama-era protocols on questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in the National Crime Victimization Survey. Some see a pattern of attempts to remove or minimize LGBTQ issues in federal questionnaires and websites.

The U.S. Department of Justice has submitted a request seeking to revise questions relating to sexual orientation and gender identity on the annual National Crime Victimization Survey, reports NBC News.

For two years, the survey has been asking respondents 16 and older about their sexual orientation and gender identity. The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics requested that the minimum age for answering these questions be raised from 16 to 18, citing “concerns about the potential sensitivity of these questions for adolescents,” according to the document with the submitted request.

The survey, administered since 1973, collects information from a nationally representative sample of 135,000 households about victimization of crimes such as rape, sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault. The New York City Anti-Violence Project, which tracks violence against LGBTQ people, criticized the DOJ’s request.  “This survey is one of the main sources of data on crime, and it is vital for informing policy related to all forms of violence in ensuring that victims, even youth, can access support,” said the group’s Emily Waters.

This is not the first time the Trump administration has been accused of erasing LGBTQ people from federal questionnaires. In 2017, advocates were outraged after the Department of Health and Human Services removed questions about LGBTQ seniors from an annual survey that determines services for elderly Americans. Last month, the Sunlight Foundation reported that the same department had quietly removed lesbian and bisexual content from its women’s health website. The Department of Justice declined to comment. The new proposal could be implemented in six months.