Week 5, Tuesday
President Trump finally spoke out about anti-Semitic incidents that have taken place around the country since his election, including four rounds of bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers and extensive vandalism at a St. Louis Jewish cemetery over the weekend. Reading carefully from a prepared text at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, he said, “The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible, and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”
Trump has been roundly criticized for not speaking out about anti-Semitism, for deflecting questions about these incidents last week, for the support he has received from white supremacist anti-Semites, for excising any mention of Jews from the administration’s statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and for the prominent role he has given to Steve Bannon (whose Breitbart website traffics in white supremacist anti-Semitic rhetoric).
The Department of Homeland Security released a set of documents translating President Trump’s executive orders on immigration and border security into policy. DHS will begin the process of hiring 10,000 new immigration and customs agents and expanding the number of detention facilities in order to carry out the aggressive enforcement of existing law promised by the Trump administration. This includes the prioritized deportation of any undocumented immigrant who commits any crime, not simply those who commit serious offenses (as had been the case under the Obama administration). The policy of expedited removal will also be significantly expanded, allowing Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to deport more people immediately. “Under the Obama administration, expedited removal was used only within 100 miles of the border for people who had been in the country no more than 14 days. Now it will include those who have been in the country for up to two years, and located anywhere in the nation.” Nothing in the directives would change the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Hundreds of Congressional Republicans are dodging their constituents during the February recess, electing not to hold traditional town halls to avoid protesters who have turned up at their colleagues’ public events to voice their disapproval of lawmakers’ handling of various issues so far this session (especially the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and confirmation of Trump’s Cabinet nominees).
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