Trump Wants You to Think All the Immigrants He’ll Deport Are Criminals. They’re Not.

President Trump on Tuesday night blamed undocumented immigrants for violent, criminal behavior — also accusing them of hurting the economy, stealing jobs from struggling families, costing the government billions of dollars, and generally creating “an environment of lawless chaos.”

The man who began his presidential campaign talking about “rapists” coming over the border cast his crusade to deport and block undocumented immigrants as a moral choice between protecting Americans or leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and death. “What would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or a loved one, because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?” he asked.

Trump’s special guests at his joint address to Congress included relatives of Americans who had been killed by undocumented immigrants. “We will never stop fighting for justice. Your loved ones will never be forgotten, we will always honor their memory,” Trump promised them.

He also touted the creation several weeks ago of a special office in the Department of Homeland Security called Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, or VOICE. This office will be tasked with recording crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and supporting those victimized by them. Its funding will come in part from canceling all DHS “outreach or advocacy services” for undocumented immigrants.

Trump claims his immigration crackdown is a way to keep Americans safe — that he isn’t interested in tearing apart families, just in stopping violent criminals. VOICE will give the Trump administration a stream of propaganda intended to reshape the image of undocumented immigrants in the minds of the American public, from one where these migrants are simply seeking a better future for their families to one where they are hardened criminals, ready to prey on innocent Americans.

That’s a big lie. The reality is that undocumented immigrants are no more likely to commit crimes in America than anyone else. And there are plenty of migrants who are not violent criminals who are being targeted by immigration enforcement. As a result, innocent people are fearful.

“There’s so much fear in immigrant communities across the country right now,” said Joanne Lin, who works on immigration issues at the American Civil Liberties Union. “I’m getting calls from teachers, principals, educators, clergy, and these fears are not exaggerated. They’re very real fears. And people have heard about the stories of homeless men emerging from a shelter and being arrested. About a domestic violence survivor going to court for her own protection and being nabbed by immigration agents. These are the worst kinds of cases and they have ripple effects across the country.”

And even if Trump meant what he was saying about only deporting criminals — Tuesday night, for instance, he said that “As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens. Bad ones are going out as I speak tonight and as I have promised” — that’s simply not a credible plan.

Most recently, President Obama made a real effort to focus immigration enforcement on criminals — and yet even then, many of the people deported did not have criminal backgrounds at all.

ICE itself keeps public data on who it removed from the country during the Obama years. Even as it got better at focusing on convicted criminals, a very substantial number were non-criminals. In Fiscal Year 2015, 139,368 convicted criminals were removed by ICE; the same year, 96,045 non-criminals were removed:

That’s just the ICE deportations, which are focused on the interior of the country. Elliot Young, a history professor at Lewis & Clark College who studies immigration, tallied the numbers using government data that includes deportations by the Border Patrol and other agencies that do removals closer to the border. He concluded that 56 percent of immigrants who were removed from the country between 2009 and 2015 were non-criminals. He made the following chart to illustrate this:

[photo align=’none’ width=’auto’ credit=’Dr. Elliot Young “The Hard Truths About Obama’s Deportation Priorities” access here: ‘] Screen-Shot-2017-03-01-at-12.09.29-PM-1488400165


“Obama was more believable than Trump and it wasn’t true when he said it,” Young said of both presidents’ supposed focus on criminals. Even if the government is truly trying to target criminals, “the reality on the ground is that they are picking up lots of people who either don’t have any criminal convictions or they have low level misdemeanors or have crossed the border more than once and have been deported which then becomes a criminal offense.”

And the Trump administration has already expanded its focus beyond criminals. In the executive order he signed on January 25, Trump laid out “enforcement priorities” for removals by the Department of Homeland Security that include immigrants who have “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense” or who have “abused any program related to receipt of public benefits.” These immigrants have the exact same priority as those who have been charged for criminal offenses.

The ACLU’s Joanne Lin explained that the executive order basically makes all undocumented immigrants a “priority” for removal. “So, like, jaywalking, have you ever driven without your wallet because you left your wallet at home? That begs the question whether any of us could actually meet that standard, in all candor,” she said.

“Because it doesn’t say that you’ve been arrested, you’ve been charged, you’ve been booked, it just says you ‘committed’,” she said. “It’s very wide berth. It’s written that way because under this administration they want every undocumented immigrant to be a potential priority.”

Top photo: Guatemalan deportee Eric Perez kisses his daughter Kimberly after he arrived on an ICE deportation flight on Feb. 9, 2017 to Guatemala City, Guatemala. The charter jet, carrying 135 deportees, arrived from Texas.

The post Trump Wants You to Think All the Immigrants He’ll Deport Are Criminals. They’re Not. appeared first on The Intercept.

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9.57pm GMT

Malcolm Turnbull has been asked, do you think Tony Abbott’s intent on blowing up this government?

I’ll decline the opportunity to comment on personalities.

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Here is that quote from treasurer Scott Morrison on not spending any excess windfall in government revenue.

Q: There is no temptation to spend it?

John [Fraser] is right. That is government actual fiscal policy.

Continue reading…

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New Bill Would Force NYPD to Disclose Its Surveillance Tech Playbook

Legislation introduced today by New York City council members Dan Garodnick and Vanessa Gibson would finally compel the NYPD — one of the most technology-laden police forces in the country — to make public its rulebook for deploying its controversial surveillance arsenal.

The bill, named the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) act, would require the NYPD to detail how, when, and with what authority it uses technologies like Stingray devices, which can monitor and interfere with the cellular communications of an entire crowd at once. Specifically, the department would have to publicize the “…rules, processes and guidelines issued by the department regulating access to or use of such surveillance technology as well as any prohibitions or restrictions on use, including whether the department obtains a court authorization for each use of a surveillance technology, and what specific type of court authorization is sought.”

The NYPD would also have to say how it protects the gathered surveillance data itself (for example, x-ray imagery, or individuals captured in a facial recognition scan), and whether or not this data is shared with other governmental organizations. A period of public comment would follow these disclosures.

In a press release, the New York Civil Liberties Union, which has itself been instrumental in fighting to reveal the mere fact that the NYPD possesses devices like the Stingray, hailed the bill:

“Public awareness of how the NYPD conducts intrusive surveillance, especially the impacts on vulnerable New Yorkers, is critical to democracy. For too long the NYPD has been using technology that spies on cell phones, sees through buildings and follows your car under a shroud of secrecy, and the bill is a significant step out of the dark ages.”

It’s unclear whether the bill would apply to products that have both powerful surveillance and non-surveillance functionality, a la Palantir, but the legislation’s definition of “surveillance technology” is sufficiently broad:

The term “surveillance technology” means equipment, software, or system capable of, or used or designed for, collecting, retaining, processing, or sharing audio, video, location, thermal, biometric, or similar information, that is operated by or at the direction of the department.

Though the bill might to little to curb the use of such technologies, it would at least give those on the sidewalk a better idea of how and when they’re being watched, if not why.

The NYPD did not immediately return a request for comment.

The post New Bill Would Force NYPD to Disclose Its Surveillance Tech Playbook appeared first on The Intercept.

In Confirmation Lovefest, Senators Tell Future Spy Chief He May Be Too Nice for the Trump Administration

Former Sen. Dan Coats’ wife Marsha and professional sports came up more frequently than CIA black sites and NSA surveillance powers during the Director of National Intelligence nominee’s confirmation hearing with the Senate intelligence committee Tuesday.

Coats served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence alongside many of the men and women tasked with assessing his readiness to lead the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies. The Indiana Republican announced his retirement in November 2015, before being asked by President Trump to take on the Director of National Intelligence job in January. His former colleagues kept things lighthearted during the unclassified session. Coats kicked off his testimony by comparing the DNI’s role to that of a head football coach.

“There is a coach for offense, defense, special teams, one for quarterback and on and on it goes. But every team has a head coach…I see the role of Director of National Intelligence as analogous for the head hole for the intelligence community…integrating and leveraging all of the expertise in our community,” he said during his opening statement, when he also took the opportunity to celebrate the Chicago Cubs’ World Series win. He also gave a shout out to his wife and his ten grandchildren.

Coats promised to work to streamline the development process for satellites at the National Reconnaissance Office, attend meetings of the National Security Council, cooperate with Congress’s investigation into alleged Russian hacking during the election, and tell the President the truth whether he wants to hear it or not—to try to be ornery and straight shooting like notorious New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick when confronting the world’s threats.

But several Senators who called Coats a friend—nearly all of whom asked about his “lovely wife”, as Sen. Saxby Chambliss referred to her— expressed reservations about Coats’ kindhearted nature, his “Mr. Rogers” personality, and the potential that the White House would steamroll him during internal meetings and discussions.

Those concerns likely aren’t unfounded. The Director of National Intelligence was left off a list of permanent members of the Principals Committee of the National Security Council, and reporting from The Intercept as early as November has suggested an appetite in the Trump administration to do away with the position altogether.

“You’re one of the most likeable, affable, easygoing people I’ve ever met,” Angus King, the independent senator from Maine, said during the hearing. For the person in charge of the nation’s intelligence community, who is going to be “reporting to a President who may not want to hear what you have to say,” King said he wanted “someone crusty and mean and tough.”

Sen. James Lankford, apparently not reassured, demanded Coats “be tough when [the job] requires you to be tough.”

While Coats attempted to assuage his former colleagues’ concerns, saying he understood that responsibility—that now is “no time to be the nice guy”—he faltered and failed to commit to definitive positions when asked tougher questions.

Throughout the hearing, when put under pressure—about the National Security Council or specifics about intelligence programs—Coats stumbled over his words, at one point calling his expected position “the DI”, flubbing “transparency” with “tranparity.”

Sen. Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat who has been an outspoken critic of the intelligence community, came out swinging with specific questions and demands of Coats. While Coats had no trouble to responding to Wyden’s questions about Russia, he refused to commit to publishing the number of Americans swept up in the NSA’s foreign intelligence dragnet, or release public updates on why that estimate hadn’t been completed yet.

“We need that number, we have sought it for years and years,” Wyden pleaded.

“I’m going to do everything I can,” Coats responded. “I’ve been told it’s an extremely complex process,” he continued—a process he doesn’t yet understand. “I need to first find out why we can’t get it.”

In the past, the ODNI has argued searching its database for the number of Americans’ communications incidentally grabbed up would be technically impossible, and if not, it would doubly invade the privacy of the owners.

But Coats’ response is actually a retreat from public positions the U.S. intelligence community has recently made about its work to release that estimate. The intelligence community has held meetings with outside advisors, including civil liberties groups, for many months—and committed to releasing a number by early 2017.

Coats also seemed to question laws against torture, including a 2015 Senate amendment to the defense budget, which in turn bolstered a 2009 executive order from President Obama. As a senator, Coats voted against that amendment, and while he told thecCommittee his job would be to fully comply with the law, he also left open the possibility for extreme measures in a “ticking time bomb” scenario. In a situation “where you know something terrible is going to happen to the American people in a short amount of time” and “you don’t have time to go through the process that the Army Field Manual requires” Coats said, “I do think it’s at least worth a discussion relative to the situation that might occur.”

Ultimately, a decision to amend the Army Field Manual would fall to General James Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, who has consistently said he doesn’t think torture works. When Sen. Mark Warner, the Demoratic vice chair of the committee, pressed Coats to promise he wouldn’t lead a charge to change the law on torture, he said he “respected” Mattis’ and Sen. John McCain’s views on the subject. “I intend to be available to work with them and talk with them,” he continued.

Additionally, Senators were confused as to whether or not Coats would secure a permanent place on the National Security Council—rather than a promise and a pat on the back from the President that he would be informally included. Coats said his team requested that the Executive Order outlining the structure of the NSC be amended—but that he had not heard back from the White House on a date or time that might happen.

The post In Confirmation Lovefest, Senators Tell Future Spy Chief He May Be Too Nice for the Trump Administration appeared first on The Intercept.