Tag Archives: Trump

Fear and uncertainty for Dreamers as Daca ends: ‘Where am I going to go?’

Reyna Montoya was on a plane, Sheridan Aguirre was standing outside the White House, and Concepcion Solis had arrived at work early to be in front of her computer when US attorney general Jeff Sessions upended their lives.

“I was debating whether or not I should come to work because I knew it was going to be hard,” Solis said. “But what can I do? Now more than ever I need to continue working.”

The Trump administration’s termination of the policy that protected “Dreamers” – undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children – from deportation will affect nearly 800,000 young people. Five years after Barack Obama’s implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) allowed recipients to get driver’s licenses, attend college, begin careers, purchase homes, and do all the other things that US citizens take for granted, Dreamers now face the reality that it could all be taken away.

For Solis, that means preparing for a future without her well-paid job at an insurance company and her rent-controlled apartment in her hometown of Oakland.

“My work permit expires in September, so I have until September,” the 30-year-old Daca recipient said. “I need to work as much as I can right now and save as much money as I can.”

Among Solis’s most pressing concerns is the fact that she provided the federal government with extensive information about herself in order to receive Daca in the first place. “Immigration has my address,” she said. “So come September, what’s going to happen?

“I can’t stay there, but where am I going to go?”


Montoya, a Daca recipient and the founder of a grassroots immigrant rights organization in Phoenix, Arizona, was concerned not just for herself but for the people who work for her.

“I have as an employee a US citizen,” she said Tuesday. “What does it mean if I get taken away?”

For Angelica Hernandez, a mechanical engineer at an energy efficiency company in Chandler, Arizona, the stakes are incredibly high. Hernandez was born in Mexico, but came to the US at the age of nine. She received Daca when she was studying for a master’s degree at Stanford. She bought a house, married another Daca recipient, and has two children who are US citizens.



Trump floats idea of using solar panels to pay for Mexico wall

President Donald Trump floated putting solar panels on his planned Mexican border wall in a meeting with legislative leaders Tuesday afternoon, according to White House and Capitol Hill officials.

It was unclear why Trump brought up the topic, but he presented the panels as a way to fund the wall, which is expected to cost billions of dollars, according to three people familiar with the conversation.


He didn’t express certainty that it would happen — but that he’d heard it as a possible idea and wanted to see what others thought, said a senior official familiar with the White House meeting.

Trump has insisted that Mexico will pay for the wall’s construction — something Mexican officials have repeatedly denied — but has acknowledged that taxpayers may need to initially foot the bill before being repaid.



Betsy DeVos Is Hellbent on Making Your Student Loans Even Harder to Pay Back

Oh Betsy DeVos, you terrible person you. As the nation’s attention is squarely focused on the Donald Trump-Russia investigations, it seems like the rest of the administration is trying to get away with destroying as many government programs as it can, without people noticing. Enter the Cruella DeVil of the education system, secretary of education Betsy DeVos. DeVos has already made quick work, getting rid of Obama-era protections for student loan borrowers, but she wasn’t content to just stop there. No, DeVos, a woman who admitted to having no personal experience with loans of pretty much any kind, is doing her damnedest to make sure you struggle to pay back your college loans.


As part of its plan to slash the Department of Education’s budget by some $10.6 billion, the Washington Post reports that the White House will propose ending the federal student loan forgiveness program for public sector and nonprofit workers, and lengthen the amount of time Americans will have to spend repaying their debts on income-based plans if they borrowed to get an advanced degree.

As it stands right now, if you work for the government or a non-profit for 10 years, you can have your student loans forgiven. Under this new budget that will disappear entirely. But that’s not all, the new plan also will make changes to the income-based repayment system. The current system requires that people who borrowed for undergraduate degrees spend 10 percent of their disposable income on their loans for 20 years to have the balance forgiven and for 25 years for a graduate degree. The new plan will up that 10 percent to 12.5 percent, but shorten the time down to 15 years for undergrads. It will lengthen the time for grad students to 30 years.


The major takeaway here? Things are going to get slightly harder, and though you will be able to get out from under your loan slightly faster under the undergraduate plan, it will come at a higher cost. And all decided by the woman who had this exchange with Elizabeth Warren during her confirmation hearing:

WARREN: Have you ever managed or overseen a trillion dollar loan program.

DEVOS: I have not.

WARREN: How about a billion dollar loan program?

DEVOS: I have not.

WARREN: Okay. So no experience managing a program like this. How about participating in one? I think it is important for the person who is in charge of our financial aid programs to understand what it is like for students and their families who are struggling to pay for college. Mrs. DeVos, have you ever taken out a student loan from the federal government to help pay for college?

DEVOS: I have not.

WARREN: Have any of your children had to borrow money in order to go to college?

DEVOS: They have been fortunate not to.

WARREN: Have you had any personal experience with a Pell Grant?

DEVOS: Not personal experience, but certainly friends and students with whom I have worked.

WARREN: So you have no personal experience with college financial aid or management of higher education.

You know what they say. Those who can’t do, control the budget and financial aid packages of millions of Americans.



Build it and be banned: Lawmakers move to block state contracts for any builders of Trump’s border wall

California legislators took the first step Tuesday to ban state government contracts for any company that helps build President Trump’s promised wall along the Mexico border, with the author of the plan urging colleagues “to be on the right side of history.”

The bill by state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) would prohibit any company from receiving a new or extended contract with the state of California if it participates in a future effort to build a new wall along the 2,000-mile international border.

“The wall is another attempt to separate and divide us,” Lara said in testimony to the Senate Governmental Organization Committee. “It sends a message that we are better off in a homogenous society.”

Senate Bill 30 won committee passage on a party-line vote, with Republicans expressing concern about the need for additional border security. Representatives of the construction industry also voiced opposition, arguing Lara’s bill forces contractors into the middle of a divisive political fight.

“This is precedent-setting,” said Todd Bloomstine, a lobbyist representing the Southern California Contractors Assn. “What next unpopular project would be [on the] blacklist?”

Lara told lawmakers he will amend the bill to exclude any work by a company — including current bids on border wall projects — that takes place prior to the bill’s becoming law.

Trump’s campaign promise of a new border wall remains in limbo in Washington, as members of Congress on both sides of the aisle voice skepticism about its funding.

Tuesday’s hearing in Sacramento often veered into the appropriateness of the wall itself, with environmental groups expressing concerns about animal species that live on both sides of the border. That testimony became emotional for Juan Altamirano, an associate director of Audubon California who crossed the border with his family as a young child.

“We need more migration and not stagnation,” Altamirano said.




Trump budget asks for $6 billion in HUD cuts, drops development grants

The Trump administration will slash more than $6 billion in funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and eliminate community development grants, according to a budget outline obtained by The Washington Post.

The Office of Management and Budget’s “blueprint” for 2018 puts HUD’s funding at $40.7 billion, down from $46.9 billion in 2017, representing a cut of 13.2 percent. The funding levels detailed in the OMB’s blueprint closely match preliminary numbers The Post first reported last week.

Throughout the OMB budget outline, the administration emphasizes its belief that local governments should be the ones primarily responsible for urban-development programs.

“State and local governments are better positioned to serve their communities based on local needs and priorities,” the budget document says.

The budget proposal would eliminate funding for the Community Development Block Grant program, which supports a wide range of urban-renewal projects and received $3 billion in funding for 2017. The decades-old grant program has been used to fund such projects as the Lafitte Greenway in New Orleans and to support Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.



Trump Just Allowed Private Prisons To Make Huge Profits

WASHINGTON ― Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday withdrew an Obama-era Justice Department memo that set a goal of reducing and ultimately ending the Justice Department’s use of private prisons.


In a one-page memo to the acting head of the Bureau of Prisons, Sessions wrote that the August 2016 memo by former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates “changed long-standing policy and practice, and impaired the Bureau’s ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system.”


A Justice Department spokesman said Sessions’ memo “directs the Bureau of Prisons to return to its previous approach to the use of private prisons,” which would “restore BOP’s flexibility to manage the federal prison inmate population based on capacity needs.”


BOP currently has 12 private prison contracts that hold around 21,000 inmates. Yates had said that private prisons compared “poorly” to BOP prisons. Her memo followed a damning report from the Justice Department’s inspector general which found that privately run facilities were more dangerous than those run by BOP.


The two largest private prison companies have told investors that they have room to accommodate increased use of their prisons by federal or state and local authorities. On an earnings call with stock analysts this week, executives at GEO Group emphasized that their company has a total of 5,000 spots in its prisons that are presently either unused or underutilized.


GEO senior vice President David Donahue put it fairly bluntly, telling analysts that their idle and underutilized cells are “immediately available and meet ICE’s national detention standards.”


CoreCivic, formerly known as CCA, told investors on Feb. 17 that the company has nine idle prisons that can hold a total of 8,700 people. Those prisons are ready to accept inmates on short notice. “All of our idle facilities are modern and well maintained, and can be made available to potential state and federal partners without much, if any capital investment or the lead-time required for new construction,” CEO Damon Hininger said. 


Indeed, Haninger said that CoreCivic was already holding more detained immigrants for the federal government than they anticipated. “Our financial performance in the fourth quarter of 2016 was well above our initial forecast due, in large part, to heightened utilization by ICE across the portfolio,” he said.


And, Haninger said, the Trump administration’s actions could boost financial performance even further. “When coupled with the above average rate crossings along the Southwest border, these executive orders appear likely to significantly increase the need for safe, humane and appropriate detention bed capacity that we have available in our existing real-estate portfolio,” he said. “We are well positioned,” to get more business from ICE, Haninger said.


David C. Fathi, who directs the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, said that giving for-profit companies control of prisons is “a recipe for abuse and neglect.” He said the Sessions memo was a further sign the U.S. “may be headed for a new federal prison boom” under the Trump administration.


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said the Sessions memo was an example of “how our corrupt political and campaign finance system” works.



“Private prison companies invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and today they got their reward: the Trump administration reversed the Obama administration’s directive to reduce the Justice Department’s use of private prisons,” Sanders said in a statement. “At a time when we already have more people behind bars than any other country, Trump just opened the floodgates for private prisons to make huge profits by building more prisons and keeping even more Americans in jail.”



Google creates $4 million crisis fund following Trump’s immigration ban

Google has created a $4 million crisis fund for those affected by President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, according to a report from USA Today. The $2 million fund can be matched by up to $2 million from employees, with all donations going toward four organizations: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Immigrant Legal Resource Center, International Rescue Committee and UNHCR, the UN agency responsible for protecting refugees. According to USA Today, the humanitarian campaign is Google’s largest ever.

The fund was announced in a memo from CEO Sundar Pichai, and confirmed to USA Today by a Google spokesperson. Pichai criticized Trump’s ban in an internal memo over the weekend, saying that it is “painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues.” The executive order, which temporarily bars immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries, affects at least 187 Google employees, according to Pichai’s memo.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin also joined protests against the executive order at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday, though he told The Verge that he was doing so “in a personal capacity.” Brin’s family fled the Soviet Union in 1979 to avoid persecution; Pichai is also an immigrant from India.

Several tech executives have spoken out against Trump’s executive order — some more forcefully than others. Over the weekend, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that “Trumps actions… are so un-American it pains us all.” On the more mealy-mouthed end of the spectrum, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said simply that he was “concerned” about the order.


Other companies have offered more concrete support. Lyft said it will donate $1 million over the next four years to the ACLU, while Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky saidin a tweet that the company will provide “free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the US.”

In a statement to USA Today, Google said: “We’re concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could create barriers to bringing great talent to the US. We’ll continue to make our views on these issues known to leaders in Washington and elsewhere.”



Two of Rep. John Lewis’ books sell out on Amazon amid Trump feud

NEW YORK — Two of John Lewis’ books have sold out on Amazon after the Democratic congressman claimed the top spots on the retailer’s best-seller list.

Sales of the civil rights leader’s graphic novel “March” and his 2015 memoir “Walking With the Wind” skyrocketed following his feud with President-elect Donald Trump over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. After Lewis questioned the legitimacy of Mr. Trump’s victory, Mr. Trump tweeted that the 16-term Georgia representative “should spend more time on fixing and helping his district.”

Support for Lewis among Democrats sent sales of his most popular books soaring late Saturday and early Sunday. A collection of his “March” trilogy” ranked no. 1 on Amazon, and its individual volumes also charted high. “Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement” ranked number two.

On Monday, Lewis spoke about the legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., telling students at a scholarship breakfast event in Miami to “be brave” and “never, ever give up.”

“Maybe one of you will be a mayor, a city councilperson, a great teacher, a member of the House, a member of the Senate, governor of this state, maybe president of the United States of America,” he said. “Dream dreams and never, ever give up on your dreams.”

Lewis, who brought prepared remarks but said he was not going to use them, spoke for approximately 30 minutes about his experiences with King during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, saying King is responsible for the trajectory of his life.

“If it hadn’t been for Martin Luther King Jr. I don’t know where I’d be,” he said, adding he might be “still down in rural Alabama, preaching to chickens.”

What Lewis did not mention was his disagreement with Trump. In an NBC interview last week, Lewis said he did not view Mr. Trump as a “legitimate president,” given the Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election. He also said he would not be attending Mr. Trump’s inauguration on Friday, the first time he’ll miss the ceremony in three decades.

Mr. Trump responded by lambasting Lewis on Twitter, calling him “all talk, talk talk – no action or results,” and saying Lewis’s Georgia district is “crime infested” and “falling apart.”

Lewis talked about walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama on what became known as Bloody Sunday, saying that day when he was being beaten, “I thought I saw death.”