Poor immigrants face poor choice
Walls were never the only barriers President Donald Trump wanted to put up to curb immigration.
New criteria rolled out by the administration on Monday would allow the federal government to deny green cards to legal immigrants enrolled in taxpayer-supported assistance programs — Medicaid, food stamps and housing subsidies among them. Also facing a roadblock would be those deemed likely to need such programs in the future, reports Newsday's Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
Federal law already requires those seeking to become permanent residents or gain legal status to prove they will not go on welfare or otherwise be a burden to the U.S., but the new rules detail a broader range of programs that could disqualify them. They are due to take effect Oct. 15.
Acting Citizenship and Immigration Services director Ken Cuccinelli, in a briefing with reporters at the White House, said the changes to the long-standing “public charge” rule “is reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility.” Immigrant advocates, who vowed a challenge in the courts, say the move targets immigrants working low-wage jobs who came from impoverished countries.
"It will have a dire humanitarian impact, forcing some families to forgo critical lifesaving health care and nutrition," said Marielena Hincapieé of the National Immigration Law Center.
The Washington Post reports the rule effectively circumvents earlier, failed efforts by Trump and hard-liners including White House adviser Stephen Miller to build support in Congress for a “merit-based” overhaul to the family-based immigrant visa system.
Claudia Calhoon, a senior director at the New York Immigration Coalition, said that leading up to the announcement of the new rules, fearful immigrants have withdrawn their U.S.-born children from programs, unaware that policy shift does not apply to citizens. “I think that’s part of the strategy of the administration, it’s just another way of sowing fear and instability,” she said.
Janison: Ineptitude is prime suspect
Trump's indulgence in conspiracy theory on the jailhouse death of Jeffrey Epstein is a deflection from what appears at this stage to be the likeliest scenario, writes Newsday's Dan Janison. Epstein hanged himself, after failing earlier, because the federal jail system blundered its basic mission of custody, care and control.
When he died at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, Epstein was under Justice Department stewardship. Attorney General William Barr runs the department. Trump is his boss. Those facts won't change, and Barr knows it, even if Trump has failed to acknowledge it.
"We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation," Barr told a national policing conference in New Orleans on Monday. Barr said he was "appalled" and "angry" to learn of the Metropolitan Correctional Center's "failure to adequately secure this prisoner."
For more on the Epstein case, see Newsday's story by Anthony M. DeStefano with John Riley.
Why the big stink on extinction?
The Trump administration moved on Monday to weaken how it applies the Endangered Species Act.
The law enacted 45 years ago brought the bald eagle, the American alligator, the California condor, the humpback whale and the grizzly bear back from the brink of extinction, The Washington Post writes. But Trump wants the changes to make it easier for oil companies, real estate interests and the agriculture industry to develop land inhabited by vulnerable wildlife.
Under the enforcement changes, officials for the first time will be able to publicly attach a cost to saving an animal or plant so it can be argued whether it's worth it.
Fire in de Blasio's belly
Presidential long shot Bill de Blasio has a tough time filling a room, but he had no trouble filling his gut at the Iowa State Fair.
According to his campaign, de Blasio ingested a corn dog, tot-chos (tater tot nachos), Wonder Bar ice cream, cheese curds, a "double Dutch" sandwich, a pork chop, a brown-sugar grilled pork belly on a stick, deep-fried Twinkies and a deep-fried Oreo. He washed it down with an Exile Ruthie (a local beer) and lemonade.
Conspicuous consumption at the fair is expected of candidates competing for the Iowa caucuses, even if the resulting photos with meats on sticks can be unflattering. Luckily for vegan Cory Booker, there was a veggie stand serving a fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich. "It exceeded my expectations," he said.
The red ink sea
When Trump and the then-Republican Congress passed their tax cut package in 2017, the White House said don't worry about deficits. Look for economic growth so robust that the tax cut will pay for itself through rising revenue, the White House said.
Not yet. Figures released Monday show the budget gap grew to $866.8 billion in the first 10 months of the fiscal year, up 27% from the same period a year earlier. That’s wider than last fiscal year’s shortfall of $779 billion — which was the largest federal deficit since 2012, Bloomberg News reports.
Nuts by the case
Trump's weekend retweet insinuating a Clinton plot behind Epstein's death is but the latest baseless conspiracy theory he has promoted. The Washington Post looked back and counted 22 others.
Probably the best known was birtherism — the accusation that Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States. Among the obscure but still notable Trump fantasies: That disease caused by asbestos exposure is a hoax pushed by the Mafia, that wind farms cause cancer and that it wasn't really his voice on the notorious "Access Hollywood" tape.
What else is happening:
- In his speech Monday in New Orleans, Barr denounced the rowdy youths who doused NYPD cops with water in several incidents as "prancing punks."
- Does anyone take Anthony Scaramucci seriously when he says he wants to rally other former Trump aides and prominent Republicans to come out against him? Hard to see it, but Trump attacked him again on Twitter, asserting Scaramucci is upset because he wanted another administration job and Trump doesn't return his calls.
- The head of the New York City sanitation workers union is urging members to donate $1 to $5 to de Blasio's campaign to help him qualify for the third Democratic debate, the Staten Island Advance reports. Some in the rank and file trashed the idea.
- Another 2020 Democratic long shot, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, says she will be off the trail while serving two weeks of active duty with the Hawaiian Army National Guard on a joint training exercise in Indonesia.
- In a bureaucratic battle between acting Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the White House is stepping up its efforts to block the State Department from distributing several billion dollars in foreign aid by the end of the fiscal year, Bloomberg News reports.
- While the Russia investigation special counsel’s office has shut down and Robert Mueller has returned to life as a private citizen, the universe of pundits, podcasts, journalists and others focused on Mueller’s work continues to expand, Politico Magazine writes.