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BuzzFeed, Reporting To You

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    Mario Tama / Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Donald Trump and his top aides say their best shot at popularity may be winning over black people.

    It’s a theory that looks good on paper: Black workers, and black men in particular, have a lot of the same characteristics as the underemployed and alienated whites in places like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania who made Trump president. The White House has suggested that the same policies — trade barriers, domestic spending — could provide good jobs from both groups, driving down black youth unemployment, which currently stands at 27%.

    Trump, who received 8% of the black vote in 2016 and subsequently thanked some black voters for staying home, told a Black History month reception that he’s looking for as much as 51% of the black vote in 2020. His top political aide Steve Bannon recently said if they could win 40% of the black and Latino vote, they’d be in office 50 years.

    But Trump remains so toxic among many black Americans that he’s having trouble getting some black football players (and one white one) to celebrate their victory at the White House. He smeared the first black president with birtherism. His attorney general is a longtime enemy of black civil rights groups, who fought to block his nominations.

    And his shot at a new coalition rests on overthrowing the old American truth that economics aren’t enough: attempts by everyone from the Communist Party in the 1930s to the Democrats in the 1980s to the Republican Party in the 2000s to build a class-based coalition has foundered on the shoals of race.

    “If he got 51% of the black vote, it would the only justification I could think of to support Sessions investigating voter fraud in the black community,” scoffed the Rev. Al Sharpton.

    Trump’s own connections to the black community are complex, and don’t run either through the traditional civil rights leadership — which has loathed him at least since he called for the execution of the subsequently vindicated Central Park Five; nor the small black conservative movement, whose free market politics have never been compatible with the kind of massive stimulus spending he contemplates. He has long enjoyed friendships in the past with hip-hop moguls like Russell Simmons, who now disagrees with Trump’s politics; he is also, for instance, friends with the celebrity television correspondent and former 106th and Park host A.J. Calloway. Kanye West and Steve Harvey visited him in Trump Tower.

    And his message has also appealed to some black politicos outside the traditional Beltway politics he exploded.

    One representative figure is Bruce Carter, an organizer and strategist who supported Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton during the primary before switching over to Trump. He says he thinks Trump will get 40% of the black vote in the next election, “because of the success rate that will happen over the next four years.”

    In a memo circulated shortly after the election titled, “Mission Accomplished: African-American Political Slavery has Ended,” Carter said that black voters pay attention when a candidate is talking specifically about opportunities to invest in their communities. “There are no permanent allies or enemies, only permanent interests,” he wrote, quoting Henry Kissinger.

    “We do believe some of Mr. Trump’s policies that have been articulated so far could be very consistent with the interest and needs of the African-American community across the United States,” said another figure from outside the Beltway, head of the South Carolina Black Chamber of Commerce, Stephen Gilchrist, whose politics are more traditionally Republican: Black small businesses owners, he said, could benefit from looser regulations and more access to capital.

    “If those things happen, 2020 could be competitive year when it comes to the vote of the African-American community,” he said.

    And the black groups that supported Trump see even his words as a positive step. They view the mere mention of making gains with black voters as not only as shrewd politics, but as a real chance their expand their base and a positive step away from the Democrats being the preferred party of a majority of black Americans.

    “People can say that they want to say, but 40% would be unprecedented in the Republican Party,” said Chris Prudhome, the president of Vote America Now, a conservative group engaging young voters and voters of color on issues like criminal justice and educational opportunity. “Just the fact that he’s saying that and he’s addressing African-American issues — how can you say that you don’t want to be a part of it?”

    But even among the black conservatives who have been trying for decades to chip away at the monolith, there are doubts that spending in black communities — if infrastructure projects do materialize — will be enough.

    Few are convinced economic momentum alone would be enough to change voters’ minds.

    “Those are steps in the right direction but [black voters] still see it as a party that doesn’t welcome them inside,” said Gerard Robinson, an education policy expert with the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Robinson was among the leaders who met with Trump for the listening session, encouraging him on strides the new administration could make on education.

    Trump’s early nominations — there is a single black cabinet member, Dr. Ben Carson, in the whitest, most male first cabinet since Reagan — worry others.

    “The administration has to look like America,” said strategist Jarvis Stewart, who spent the better part of the campaign season consulting progressive groups on how best to reach young black voters. “If their political operation anticipates being more inclusive to attract the African-American vote... it has to start with policy initiatives. And they can’t leave out criminal justice, voter ID, or health care. They are all equally important to black voters as the economy.”

    During his campaign, Trump famously asked black voters what they had to lose. Conflicts over voting rights and policing may reopen that question. And for now, liberal organizers say what they see is a community that has been energized — against the new president.

    "We know Donald struggles with reality, but he shouldn't confuse photo ops with Kanye West, Steve Harvey and the pitiful black folks that work in his administration with support from community,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of progressive Color of Change. “At the end of the day we all know that Donald and the folks he takes orders from like Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway are way more interested in advancing white supremacy and selling dresses than winning over black voters."


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    Joe Raedle / Getty Images

    A flurry of developments and reports at the end of the day Friday left significant confusion as to what would happen next with President Trump's refugee and travel ban executive order.

    The administration has a few different options to proceed legally, after the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the Justice Department's request to put on hold the ruling that froze implementation of the travel and refugee bans.

    But now, a move from a judge in the Ninth Circuit means that a bunch of additional judges there likely will be having a say on what happens next.

    Here's what happened and how we got here.

    On Thursday, the Ninth Circuit issued an order denying the Justice Department's request to stay the Feb. 3 trial court order halting enforcement of the ban. The focus throughout the day Friday was on whether the Trump administration would — and should — go to the Supreme Court seeking a stay (which would allow the ban to be implemented during the legal proceedings).

    The problem there, though, is the 4-4 split on the Supreme Court. Inside the White House, there could be significant concern about whether a majority of the court — so at least five justices — would vote to grant a stay. Again, this would involve the issue of whether the ban could be enforced right now.

    Reince Priebus

    Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

    With that in mind, it made sense when multiple outlets reported Friday afternoon that the Trump administration would not be going to the Supreme Court now — instead continuing to fight out in lower courts the larger question of whether Trump's order is legal and constitutional. White House chief of staff Reince Priebus pushed back on those reports, though, saying that all options — including going to the Supreme Court now — remained on the table.

    Among those options is the possibility — outside of courts — of issuing a new executive order. "We also have a lot of other options, including just filing a brand new order," Trump said on Friday afternoon.

    But then something unexpected happened.

    Before those questions could go much further, however, the Ninth Circuit took back the reins. A little before 3 p.m. PT, the court announced that one of the judges of the court requested the full court take a vote on whether to reconsider the three-judge panel's decision. While parties can request for an appellate court to reconsider a decision, a judge here called for a vote on the matter of his or her own volition, or "sua sponte."

    The parties have been ordered to submit briefs on whether the larger court should reconsider the three-judge panel's decision by 11 a.m. PT on Thursday.

    The Ninth Circuit — which covers nine western states — actually is made up of 25 judges, with another 19 judges in "senior status" on the court. However, voting to decide whether to take the case "en banc" only includes the 25 active judges.

    Here, that means that two of the judges who were involved in the initial decision — Judges William Canby and Richard Clifton — will not have a vote on whether to rehear the matter, because both are senior judges.

    Now, the fact that one judge called for a vote does not mean that a majority of the court is upset with the three-judge panel's decision or that they plan to review, let alone reverse, the decision. It simply means that one of the judges of the court called for an en banc vote.

    If the court does vote to rehear the Justice Department's request for a stay en banc, that could lead to a whole new briefing schedule and possibly even oral argument before the Ninth Circuit. Additionally, the size of the Ninth Circuit leads to another wrinkle: The appeals court has what is called a "limited en banc" process, in which it hears en banc appeals with 11 judges. Those judges would include the chief judge of the circuit, Judge Sidney Thomas, as well as 10 judges selected at random. (Canby and Clifton — along with the 24 active judges besides Thomas — could be selected, per the rules.)

    A Justice Department spokesperson, noting the Ninth Circuit's order, said only, "The Justice Department is considering its options. We have no further comment."

    This isn't where things end, though, even for now.

    There still remain three additional questions out there.

    The administration could still seek a stay from the Supreme Court. That's unlikely, it would seem at this point, but, as Priebus said, it is an option. The Ninth Circuit's move does not take that option away from the administration, although it's hard to see why it would take that option now with more of the Ninth Circuit set to consider rehearing the request for a stay.

    Secondly, the president could withdraw the current executive order; amend it; or issue a new order that supersedes, in whole or in part, the current one. Any such move obviously would cause complications for current litigation, although it would not necessarily render the lawsuits moot. In other words, even if the White House puts out a new executive order, there still might be lawsuits — old and new.

    Finally, the trial judge — US District Judge James Robart — is still asking the parties what he should be doing and whether he should keep planning to move forward toward a hearing on a preliminary injunction. (This relates back to the question the Ninth Circuit considered at arguments about whether the temporary restraining order, which is generally not appealable, looks more like a preliminary injunction, which is appealable.) Since the appeals court decided the TRO was appealable — and set a further briefing schedule on the federal government's underlying appeal (before the en banc rehearing question was raised) — Robart, on Friday night, asked the parties to tell him by noon Pacific Time on Monday what he should do.


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    Yuri Gripas / Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The Justice Department took a step back Friday from its prior position of advancing transgender people's rights under existing civil rights laws.

    On just the second day of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' tenure at the helm of the Justice Department, the federal government filed a notice in the lawsuit Texas and other states had brought against the Obama administration's pro-transgender policies.

    The moves taken in the filing — a joint filing made with the states — suggest that the federal government's position on the pending legal questions surrounding transgender people's rights could be changing soon. At the least, it suggests the new administration is pulling back while it determines the position it will be taking in the case.

    The Justice Department announced in the short filing that it was withdrawing its request that the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit limit a lower court's nationwide injunction of the pro-transgender policies to instead cover only those states that had brought the litigation.

    Then, in a joint request with the states challenging the policy, the states and the Justice Department both requested that the oral arguments on that issue be removed from the court's calendar.

    Finally, they note, "The parties are currently considering how best to proceed in this appeal."

    The argument, advanced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and later by the Justice Department and other federal agencies, is that existing civil rights law bans on sex discrimination should be read to include a ban on anti-transgender discrimination because it is a type of sex discrimination.

    During the presidential campaign, President Trump suggested he supported the rights of transgender people to use the restroom that matches their gender identity, but he later clarified that he believed the Obama administration had gone too far by trying to create a national policy. He said the decisions should be left to state and local governments.

    Nonetheless, despite the Justice Department move, the EEOC — an independent federal agency — appeared to be keeping its fight for the pro-transgender interpretation of the law proceeding in court.

    The agency filed a brief on Friday making its case to the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

    "Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination 'because of ... sex' encompasses discrimination based on transgender status and/or transitioning," the EEOC lawyers wrote. "This conclusion is based on the text of Title VII, as well as decisions of the Supreme Court and this Court that have long recognized that Title VII forbids gender from playing a role in employment decisions."

    Notably, the appeal — in a case brought by the EEOC against a funeral home that it alleges discriminated against an employee because she is transgender — also makes the argument that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not provide a defense to the funeral home's actions here.

    Via assets.documentcloud.org



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    U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch

    Yuri Gripas / Reuters

    President Trump's nominee for the US Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, described the most significant cases he'd been involved in and provided new details about the events leading up to his nomination in a questionnaire submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    According to Gorsuch, he knew he'd be the nominee on Jan. 27, several days before Trump announced the pick at a White House ceremony on Jan. 31. The nomination was kept secret until then, with reporters scrambling in the hours before the announcement to check in with another judge reported to be a finalist, Judge Thomas Hardiman.

    Gorsuch, a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, wrote that he was first contacted about the Supreme Court seat on Dec. 2 by Leonard Leo, the executive vice president of the conservative lawyers group the Federalist Society, who has been a close adviser to Trump on judicial nominations. After a series of interviews with Trump advisers in early January and then Trump himself on Jan. 14, he learned on Jan. 27 from White House counsel Don McGahn that he would be the nominee. He heard it from Trump directly on Jan. 30.

    In the 68-page questionnaire, Gorsuch answered questions about the groups he was a member of and his past political affiliations — he volunteered on the campaigns for presidents Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, and George W. Bush — his writings and speeches over the years, and those of his decisions he considered most significant.

    The cases that Gorsuch highlighted included disputes over religious liberty — one was a challenge to the contraception care coverage section of the Affordable Care Act — warrantless searches by police, and the amount of deference that federal agencies should get in court. In some cases, Gorsuch wrote the main opinion, while others involved concurring opinions or dissents.


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    Carlos Barria / Reuters

    WASHINGTON — While the Trump administration decides how to proceed with its fight against challenges to the president's refugee and travel ban, federal courts in Washington and Virginia on Monday dealt legal victories to those challenging the executive order.

    At a conference at the district court in the Washington v. Trump case that has led to the halted enforcement of the ban, US District Judge James Robart decided on Monday that the underlying lawsuit by the states of Washington and Minnesota can proceed while the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit addresses questions relating to his initial order.

    Reuters reported that Robart said "he was 'surprised' the Justice Department would seek a delay given Trump's angry tweets over the 9th Circuit ruling."

    Across the country, in Virginia, US District Judge Leonie Brinkema issued her own injunction in the case, finding a "likelihood that the Commonwealth will prevail on the merits of its Establishment Clause claim," and halting enforcement of the visa portion of the executive order against Virginia residents affected by the ban.

    Brinkema — following a hearing on the issues this past week — pointed to Trump's campaign statements calling for a ban on Muslim immigration and more recent statements by Trump adviser Rudolph Giuliani about being asked to help craft such a ban as evidence that the executive order was not motivated by "rational national security concerns."

    "The Commonwealth has produced unrebutted evidence supporting its position that it is likely to succeed on an Establishment Clause claim," Brinkema wrote. "The 'Muslim ban' was a centerpiece of the president's campaign for months, and the press release calling for it was still available on his website as of the day this Memorandum Opinion is being entered."

    Brinkema went on to say in a footnote that she gave "little weight" to statements from administration officials that the travel ban was not targeted at Muslims, since they were made after legal challenges were filed.

    Like the Ninth Circuit, Brinkema rejected the Justice Department's argument that the court lacked jurisdiction to consider the constitutionality of the executive order.

    "Maximum power does not mean absolute power," Brinkema wrote. "Every presidential action must still comply with the limits set by Congress' delegation of power and the constraints of the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights."

    In filings earlier Monday, the Trump administration appeared to announce that it will allow things to play out at the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for now in litigation over President Trump's refugee and travel ban — rather than seeking a stay of the nationwide order halting enforcement of the ban from the Supreme Court.

    "Further proceedings in the Ninth Circuit will likely inform what additional proceedings on a preliminary injunction motion are necessary in district court," Justice Department lawyers wrote, referring to a Friday order from the appeals court announcing that a judge of that court had requested a vote on whether the appeals court should reconsider its earlier decision allowing the trial court order to stand.

    The Justice Department announced the plans in a filing before Robart. Later Monday, the judge decided to proceed anyway, siding with the argument advanced by Washington and Minnesota.

    "The Ninth Circuit’s ruling treats this Court’s prior order as a preliminary injunction, rendering further preliminary injunction proceedings unnecessary and allowing the parties to proceed directly to discovery," the state lawyers argued.

    Saying that discovery "will not interfere with the case on appeal," the states argued, "To the contrary, it will allow this Court to consider the merits of the case in an efficient manner. Given the gravity of the States’ constitutional allegations, Defendants’ stated national security concerns, and the public interests at stake, the States respectfully submit that discovery should proceed without delay."

    The Justice Department also Monday attempted to put an end to litigation over the ban in federal court in Michigan, arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case because there is no "case or controversy" — a constitutional requirement.

    In that case, Justice Department lawyers are urging the judge to dissolve — or end — the permanent injunction barring enforcement of the travel ban against green card holders because the federal government has since announced that the ban does not apply to green card holders (after shifting policies in the first days of the implementation of the order).

    "Any dispute that might have existed due to 'reasonable uncertainty' surrounding lawful permanent residents ('LPRs') directly following the signing of the Executive Order, is now moot," the Justice Department lawyers argue, citing the Feb. 1 memorandum sent by White House counsel Donald McGahn to the heads of the justice, homeland security, and state departments.

    The department has been arguing in court that the memorandum should be given the force of law in cases across the country — with little success.

    Read the injunction from the federal court in Virginia:

    Read the opinion from the federal court in Virginia:

    Read the Justice Department's filing in the Washington v. Trump case:

    Read the states' filing in the Washington v. Trump case:


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    The retired general has for days been at the center of controversy about what he said to a Russian ambassador — and whether he lied to Vice President Pence about it.

    Carolyn Kaster / AP

    President Donald Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned late Monday after he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

    Flynn had for days fielded accusations that he had discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak as a private citizen in December. Pence publicly defended the retired general, and reports said Flynn lied to the vice president about his conversations with Kislyak.

    The conversations between Flynn and the Russian ambassador took place over the phone weeks before Trump's inauguration, when Flynn was still a private citizen with no position in the government, the New York Times reported. Flynn suggested to Kislyak that once Trump was president he would reconsider US positions on Russia — such as sanctions imposed by former President Barack Obama. Private US citizens are prohibited from negotiating with foreign governments by the Logan Act, and some US officials have said they believed Flynn had gone too far.

    Mario Tama / Getty Images

    Pence denied that conversation took place on national television. But, the Times reported, the Russian ambassador's calls had been wiretapped by US intelligence, and a transcript was made available to the White House.

    Then–acting Attorney General Sally Yates late last month briefed Trump that Flynn had misled officials about the phone call, the Washington Post reported, and she told Trump the Department of Justice believed that Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

    In his resignation letter, Flynn, who had been on the job for just 24 days, said he inadvertently briefed Pence and others with "incomplete information."

    "I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology," Flynn said.

    The move came just hours after Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to Trump, said on MSNBC that the president had "full confidence" in Flynn.

    The Kremlin declined to comment when asked about the resignation. Speaking on Tuesday morning, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "We would like to refrain from commenting. This is the Americans’ internal affair, an issue for the Trump administration, and not our business."

    Retired Lt. General Joseph Kellogg has been named acting national security adviser, the White House said in a statement.

    The news was met with calls from several Democrats in Congress for an investigation into what Flynn had said to Russia — and who else in the Trump administration knew about it. A formal congressional inquiry would require Republicans to agree.


    View Entire List ›


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    WASHINGTON — National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation Monday night might have been a stunning early setback for the new administration, but it also offered proof that Vice President Mike Pence does have some power to spur change in the White House.

    Flynn resigned after reports emerged that he discussed the issue of sanctions with Russian officials prior to President Donald Trump’s inauguration and, worse, misled Pence, leading the vice president to claim falsely that Flynn had not spoken to Russia on Sunday TV shows. Flynn apologized to Pence, but the relationship had soured, with Pence’s credibility at stake.

    Earlier on Monday, after Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway said on television that Flynn still had the president’s full confidence, a Pence ally would not say the same for the vice president. It was frankly “unclear,” the ally said, if “Flynn has his trust.”

    Another Pence ally said, “I hope they get rid of Flynn for Pence's sake," hours before the resignation.

    "How much power does Pence really have?” a source with ties to the administration said Monday afternoon. “There's a difference between being in the room and being able to move things."

    For Republicans who spent much of the campaign skeptical of Trump, his choice of Pence as vice president and his subsequent cabinet picks were cause for growing confidence. Many Republicans who remained uncertain about Trump himself were enthused by his cabinet picks. Flynn represented a different kind of pick: a loyal Trump adviser, an advocate of a much closer relationship with Russia, and a virulent critic of Islam. His being forced to resign — and so early in the administration — deals a blow to Trump’s oft-repeated insistence that he picks only the best.

    Pence’s exact role in that exit is unclear. The vice president spent hours on Capitol Hill Monday meeting with different groups of lawmakers. Over the course of two hours, several Republican members moved in and out of Pence's first-floor office in the Capitol. Among them were Florida Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, and Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe.

    The subject of Flynn, Roe and Banks said afterward, did not come up at all in the closed-door discussions. And Pence ignored repeated questions from reporters on the issue. But on a day when Flynn’s future in the White House was up in the air, it was clear that members in the meetings were no less confident in Pence's ability to drive administration policy.

    "Having recently served with him, I know that he listens and will relay those thoughts to the administration and do what he can to take that into account," Banks said.

    And even as Republicans were reluctant to comment on the specifics of the situation with Flynn, dodging repeatedly and saying they were more concerned about policy and leaving personnel matters to the executive branch, they strongly defended and praised Pence. "Mike Pence is a trustworthy person, I don't think he would deliberately mislead anyone,” said Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio.

    Jeffrey Lord, a former Reagan administration official and CNN commentator who supported Trump during the general election, said the resignation is a signal that Pence is a powerful player in the young administration.

    “You don’t look Vice President Pence in the eye and not tell the truth,” Lord said after Flynn’s resignation. “The president is going to look to the VP and say, ‘What happened?’”

    “If the VP says, ‘You’re being told A and I know B,’ the president is not going to take that well, particularly this president,” Lord continued, adding that he believed Pence would be a strong vice president, on his way to “Dick Cheney-style, Joe Biden-style clout” with the president.

    Throughout the day on Monday, the White House offered varying responses to whether Flynn would remain in the administration. Besides Conway, White House press secretary Sean Spicer soon issued a statement saying Trump was still "evaluating the situation" around Flynn.

    Pence got dragged into a wave of reports concerning Flynn and Russia when he did a round on Sunday shows in January.

    “I talked to Lt. Gen. Flynn about that conversation and actually was initiated on Christmas Day he had sent a text to the Russian ambassador to express not only Christmas wishes but sympathy for the loss of life in the airplane crash that took place,” Pence said on Face the Nation on Jan. 15.

    “It was strictly coincidental that they had a conversation. They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.”

    A Washington Post story on Monday evening reported that the Justice Department had warned the White House about Flynn’s communications with Russia — even before Pence had defended Flynn on national television.

    That revelation was ultimately too explosive for Flynn to continue on in the administration. His resignation was announced less than three hours later.

    “Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the vice president elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador,” Flynn wrote in his resignation letter. “I have sincerely apologized to the president and the vice president, and they have accepted my apology.”



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    Foreign nationals are arrested during a targeted enforcement operation.

    Charles Reed / U.S. Immigration and Customs Enf

    A federal magistrate judge has ordered officials to defend the arrest of an undocumented immigrant who has protection from deportation during a raid last week, BuzzFeed News has learned.

    Daniel Ramirez was detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Seattle on Feb. 10 and threatened with deportation, despite being a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, a lawsuit filed on Monday alleges.

    On Tuesday, Magistrate Judge James Donohue asked the Department of Homeland Security and other respondents to address by Thursday morning whether Ramirez was still being detained and if so, why, given that he was granted deferred action under DACA.

    Donohue also asked federal officials to address whether Ramirez has been placed in removal proceedings, questions about any possible bond hearing for Ramirez, and what the court's authority is to order an immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals to act.

    A hearing on the matter was set for Friday.

    "If petitioner is still detained and removal proceedings have not been initiated against him, what is the basis for ICE’s authority to detain him?" Donohue asked. "What limitations are there, if any, on the Court’s ability to hold a detention hearing for petitioner before the merits of his habeas petition have been decided?"

    In a statement Rose Richeson, ICE spokesperson, said Ramirez was detained because he was a “self-admitted gang member.”

    “ICE officers took Mr. Ramirez into custody based on his admitted gang affiliation and risk to public safety,” Richeson said.

    Ramirez was transferred to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, and was expected to face deportation proceedings with the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, Richeson said.

    One of Ramirez's lawyers called the ICE statement "inaccurate."

    "Mr. Ramirez unequivocally denies being in a gang. While in custody, he was repeatedly pressured by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to falsely admit affiliation," Mark Rosenbaum, counsel for Ramirez, said in a statement. "The statement issued tonight by Ms. Richeson of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is inaccurate."


    Bryan Cox / ICE

    About 750,000 young immigrants — referred to as DREAMers because of the protections sought for them by the DREAM Act — were shielded from deportation and received work permits under then-President Barack Obama’s 2012 executive actions that deprioritized the deportations of undocumented immigrants with no criminal records. DREAMers also got letters stating that any removal actions against them would be deferred for two years, during which they had permission to work.

    Ramirez’s lawyers allege that by detaining him despite him having the protections afforded by DACA, federal officials violated his due process and Fourth Amendment rights. He appears to be one of the first — if not the first — DACA recipient to be detained since Trump took office.

    “In establishing DACA, the federal government created a clear and reasonable expectation among DACA recipients that they would be able to live and work in the United States without being subjected to arrest and deportation,” said Mark Rosenbaum, one of his attorneys. “Bait-and-switch sullies the integrity of our nation’s core values.”

    Trump has for months pledged to end DACA, calling it "one of the most unconstitutional actions ever undertaken by a president." But he hasn’t made a move against the program, which remains on the books.

    According to the lawsuit, Ramirez, 23, has twice been granted deferred action under the program and renewed his status on May 5, 2016.

    Foreign nationals were arrested this week during a targeted enforcement operation.

    Bryan Cox / U.S. Immigration and Customs Enf

    “In granting Daniel DACA status, the federal government has twice determined — after intensive scrutiny — that he presents no threat to national security or public safety,” said another one of Ramirez's attorneys, Theodore J. Boutrous, a partner at Gibson Dunn.

    He is joined in the lawsuit by Erwin Chemerinsky, Laurence Tribe, lawyers from Public Counsel, Barrera Legal Group, Hawkins Law Group, and Northwest Immigrants Rights Project.

    Ramirez was asleep at his father’s home in Seattle when ICE agents with an arrest warrant detained his father, the lawsuit states. His father was allowed to re-enter his home to tell his two sons about his arrest. It was when the ICE agents entered the home that they asked Ramirez, “Are you legally here?”

    “Yes, I have a work permit,” Ramirez said, according to the lawsuit.

    He declined to answer more questions and ICE agents took him to a processing center in Seattle and eventually booked into a detention center despite having been shown the work permit obtained through DACA, his attorneys said.

    The lawsuit was filed against the Department of Homeland Security and ICE in US District Court for the Western District of Washington. In adding the warden of the Northwest Detention Center, where Ramirez allegedly is being held, as a respondent in the case, Donohue noted that "generally, the proper respondent in a habeas action is the warden of the facility where the petitioner is detained."

    Read the lawsuit:

    Read the judge's order:


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    Donald Trump and Kellyanne Conway at a dinner on Jan. 19 in Washington, DC.

    Evan Vucci / AP

    The internet was abuzz Tuesday with a rumor that Donald Trump had unfollowed his controversial senior advisor Kellyanne Conway on Twitter.

    The only problem is, Trump has never followed Kellyanne Conway on Twitter — until late Tuesday.

    Throughout much of the election season, Trump famously only followed around 41 Twitter accounts. The accounts were well documented, with multiple news outlets listing and profiling the people Trump followed.

    The number of people Trump followed did occasionally fluctuate. In October of 2015, he was reportedly following 44 accounts. And in January, Trump briefly made headlines for following, then quickly unfollowing, the account @EmergencyKittens — which true to its name posts pictures cats.

    But at no point throughout the election did anyone document Trump following Conway. The fact that Trump didn't follow Conway was noted by at least one Twitter user back in November.

    No one has been able to show evidence — screen shots, news stories, etc. — that the official @realdonaldtrump and @POTUS accounts had followed then unfollowed Conway.

    Nevertheless, numerous people — including many with verified accounts — tweeted Tuesday that Trump had unfollowed Conway. Many of those tweets racked up hundreds or thousands of retweets.

    Twitter / Via Twitter: @melslien

    Coincidentally or not, the rumor that Trump unfollowed Conway took off the same day she found herself in hot water after her account thanked and retweeted a white nationalist. Conway claimed she didn't know who was responsible for the retweet, and then deleted it.

    Twitter / Via Twitter: @realDonaldTrump

    In the end, though, the rumors seem to have had an effect. As Twitter buzzed Tuesday with misinformation, Trump and the official @POTUS account actually followed Conway and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

    LINK: Kellyanne Conway Claims She Doesn’t Know Who Retweeted A White Nationalist From Her Twitter Account







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    The Women's March in Washington.

    Bryan Woolston / Reuters

    Progressives are planning a series of demonstrations across 60 cities on April 15, describing the protest as the first major successor to the women’s marches that drew as many as 4 million people over inauguration weekend last month.

    The so-called Tax March — set to coincide with the annual IRS deadline — aims to pressure President Donald Trump and Congress over Trump's unreleased tax returns, organizers said, citing reports this week on his team's communication with Russian officials and long-standing questions about potential foreign conflicts of interest.

    A coalition of liberal groups is organizing the march, including Bernie Sanders' Our Revolution, MoveOn.org, the Indivisible Project, Americans for Tax Fairness, the Center for Popular Democracy, and the American Federation of Teachers.

    Also involved are leaders from the Women's March, the day of protests that turned out to be among the largest demonstrations in US history.

    The Tax Day plans make April 15 a key test for Democratic leaders working to harness that expanse of activist energy into a sustainable movement that yields results in Congress and at the ballot box in next year's midterm elections. (Similarly, in 2009, Tax Day was one of the first major protest days for the conservative, anti-establishment Tea Party movement.)

    Fissures in the Democratic Party's self-described resistance effort have already emerged since Trump's inauguration, with progressive activists demanding that lawmakers oppose the president at every turn, while various House and Senate members maintain some openness to pieces of Trump's cabinet and agenda.

    The country's highest-ranking Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer, drew protests from his own party's base outside his home in Brooklyn earlier this month. Activists on the left have also confronted other Democratic lawmakers outside their congressional offices and in recent town hall meetings, demanding top-to-bottom opposition.

    On Wednesday, a group of former Sanders campaign aides and activists launched a PAC, #WeWillReplaceYou, aimed at challenging Democratic elected officials in primaries, asking progressives to "pledge to support primary election challengers against any Dems who won’t do everything in their power to resist Trump."

    A Trump protester in San Francisco.

    Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images

    The Tax March will be based in Washington, with satellite marches planned in cities ranging from New York and Los Angeles to Little Rock, Arkansas, and Boise, Idaho.

    Organizers said the idea started with a tweet from Frank Lesser, a New York-based comedy writer who took issue with the Trump administration's claim that people "didn't care" about his tax returns. (Trump is the first president in 40 years to keep his tax returns private, breaking a tradition kept by candidates since Richard Nixon.)

    In Washington this week, members of the Republican-led House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee voted down an amendment proposed by Democrats to have Congress ask the Treasury Department for copies of Trump's tax returns.

    Tax March organizers also linked the effort to questions about Trump's ties to Russia.

    On Sunday night the president's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned after the Washington Post revealed that he had discussed sanctions against Russia with the country's US ambassador. And on Tuesday, a New York Times report cited claims from four current and former US officials that some involved with Trump's campaign had been in contact with Russian intelligence officials during the election, though officials told the Times that no evidence has yet been found that there was coordination with those Russian officials.

    "Until we see his taxes we don't know how much money he owes Russia, China, and other countries,” said Ben Wikler, the Washington director of MoveOn.org.


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    “This WikiLeaks, it’s like a treasure trove.”

    President Donald Trump went on a tirade this week against the intelligence community, who he believes leaked information — including intercepted phone calls and phone records — connecting his aides to Russia.

    President Donald Trump went on a tirade this week against the intelligence community, who he believes leaked information — including intercepted phone calls and phone records — connecting his aides to Russia.

    Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

    He promised on Wednesday to catch those responsible for "illegally" leaking classified information, while also accusing the media of fabricating its sources.

    However, throughout his campaign, Trump repeatedly spoke highly of leaks, praised the FBI for investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails, and on at least one occasion directly called on Russia to recover 30,000 missing emails.

    “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

    Trump issued an open call to Russia to “find” Hillary Clinton’s private emails during a press conference in Miami on July 27, 2016. He had initially been asked about his involvement with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    YouTube / Via youtube.com


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    Carlos Barria / Reuters

    WASHINGTON — In light of the fact that President Trump announced that a new executive order would be issued soon to replace his Jan. 27 refugee and travel ban executive order, a federal appeals court agreed to put the key challenge to the ban on hold until a new order is issued.

    "We're going to put in a new executive order next week sometime," Trump said at his extended news conference on Thursday. "We have some of the best lawyers in the country working on it."

    Notably, in his news conference, Trump said that he had wanted a month, or at least a week, delay in when the executive order would have taken effect. Trump said, however, that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said no and that the order had to take effect immediately.

    In the wake of the Jan. 27 order, there was significant confusion at airports and conflicting interpretations about the order from the federal government agencies responsible for implementing and enforcing it. The order and resulting confusion led to nearly immediate litigation — and quick court orders halting enforcement of some of the most harsh ramifications of the order, like deportations and detentions.

    While the Justice Department in a Thursday filing harshly criticized this past week's ruling of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that refused to allow the government to begin enforcing the executive order while the litigation is ongoing, the department nonetheless asked for the appeals court "to hold its consideration of the case until the President issues the new Order."

    Later on Thursday, the court, in an order by Chief Judge Sidney Thomas, agreed. The ban will stay on hold pending a new executive order — but so will any decision by the court whether to rehear the case with an en banc panel.

    On Feb. 9, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit had denied the Justice Department's request to put a district court's order halting enforcement of the refugee and travel bans on hold. The next day, a judge of the appeals court asked for all of the 25 active judges of appeals court to take a vote on whether a larger, en banc panel of the court should reconsider the Feb. 9 ruling.

    The Ninth Circuit had requested the states of Washington and Minnesota, which challenged the ban, and the Justice Department to file briefs by Thursday laying out whether they thought en banc reconsideration was appropriate. Both sides said no, although the states gave different reasons.

    Despite Trump and the Justice Department's criticism of the Ninth Circuit's ruling — Trump called it a "bad court" and said he had heard information about it being reversed at a high rate — Trump also said Thursday that the new order would comport with the constitutional concerns raised by the Ninth Circuit's ruling.

    "We can tailor the order to that decision," he said.

    (Trump also said in Thursday's news conference that the lawyers were "appealing" the Ninth Circuit's decision, which they have not done.)

    Once the new order is issued, Justice Department lawyers urged on Thursday, the court should vacate the three-judge panel's decision against the administration. Such a move would eliminate the legal precedent of the appeals court's ruling against the administration.

    Here's the key part of the Justice Department's argument:

    Here's the key part of the Justice Department's argument:

    Via assets.documentcloud.org

    And here's the court order putting their actions on hold:

    And here's the court order putting their actions on hold:


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    Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray

    Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — An Obama-era consumer protection agency will get another chance to defend its independence from the White House in court.

    A panel of three federal appeals judges in Washington, DC, ruled in October that the single-director structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — opposed by Republicans since its inception in 2010 — was unconstitutional, and expanded the authority of the president to remove the director.

    But on Thursday, the full US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit agreed to rehear the case, scheduling the next round of arguments for May 24.

    The order vacates the earlier decision from October, which means that (under the law as written) President Trump can only remove director Richard Cordray for cause — defined as "inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office" — as opposed to at will.

    The bureau was created as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform package. Cordray was confirmed by the Senate to a five-year term as director in 2013.

    Given its independent status, the bureau's own in-house lawyers are handling the case, as opposed to the US Department of Justice, which defends other federal agencies in court. This means that unless Trump does remove Cordray for cause and replaces him with a director who no longer wants to fight the case, the bureau is expected to press ahead in defending itself in court.

    The full sitting of the DC Circuit hasn't ruled yet on whether to allow other groups to intervene that want to defend the bureau if circumstances do change and the bureau drops its defense. The three-judge panel denied those intervention requests, and the would-be intervenors — civil rights groups, two members of Congress, and public interest groups — have asked the full court to reconsider that decision.

    The DC Circuit's order on Thursday specified three questions that it wanted the parties to argue: first, whether the structure of the bureau was constitutional, and, if not, what should the court do about that; second, whether the court could avoid the constitutional question by focusing on legal issues specific to the underlying challenge to action by the bureau; and third, how the court should rule if it reached a certain conclusion about the constitutionality of how administrative law judges are appointed in a separate case. (The administrative law judge issue is separate from the fight over the constitutionality of the bureau's structure.)

    According to the order, Chief Judge Merrick Garland did not participate in the decision to rehear the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau case. Garland did not participate in cases last year while he was Obama's nominee to the US Supreme Court, but the order did not specify why he sat out of this decision.


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    Mark Wilson / Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — A new poll shows Ivanka Trump is viewed in high regard by most Republicans and some Democrats.

    In recent weeks, her clothing line's performance and related retail decisions have spurred what critics call a conflict of interest from White House officials.

    Meanwhile, Nordstrom — which drew President Donald Trump's ire for its decision to drop Ivanka Trump's clothing line — is less popular among self-identified Republicans, but shows strong support among Democrats compared to other retailers, the poll found.

    The PredictWise and Pollfish survey received responses from 1,200 people on Feb. 13 through online and in-app polling methods. Economist David Rothschild, from` PredictWise, said he does not report margins of error because he does "not believe it can be accurately estimated."

    BuzzFeed News worked with PredictWise on designing the exclusive poll as part of a regular partnership.

    The poll found that Ivanka Trump — a close, though informal, adviser to her father — was viewed as "favorable" or "very favorable" by 39% of Americans surveyed, and "unfavorable" or "very unfavorable" by 27%. The rest either said they were neutral or didn't know.

    Among surveyed Republicans, Ivanka was viewed by 67% in a favorable light, the poll found. Only 9% said they viewed her unfavorably. Among Democrats, 22% said their opinion of her was positive, while 44% viewed her unfavorably.

    The poll authors note that Ivanka Trump's unfavorability among Democrats is "relatively light" considering her high visibility within Trump's team and compared with Trump's other prominent advisers.

    PredictWise/Pollfish

    Nordstrom, for its part, showed "incredibly high Democratic favorability for a relatively exclusive retail store," Rothschild wrote. The retail chain scored 47% favorability and 8% unfavorability among Democratic respondents.

    On the other hand, 27% of Republican respondents said they viewed Nordstrom in an unfavorable light, and 25% viewed the store favorably.

    PredictWise/Pollfish

    "The decision to stop carrying Ivanka Trump’s brand, and President Trump’s public reaction, seems to have made them quite partisan, at least for now," Rothschild wrote.

    However, the poll was only performed after the incident, so it is not possible to conclude whether favorability toward Ivanka Trump or Nordstrom has changed as a result of the public spat.

    The results were gathered a week after President Trump tweeted that Nordstrom was treating his daughter “so unfairly” for dropping her clothing line. Nordstrom has said it dropped the line because of declining sales.

    Democratic members of Congress accused Trump of engaging in a potential conflict of interest. Criticism amplified the following day when White House counselor Kellyanne Conway went on national television and told viewers to "go buy Ivanka's stuff" — a potential violation of ethics rules.


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    Mario Tama / Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — President Trump said at a press conference on Thursday that he has asked the US Department of Justice to investigate leaks from his administration to reporters.

    "I've actually called the Justice Department to look into the leaks. Those are criminal leaks," he said.

    Trump didn't specify if he'd asked the Justice Department to investigate any specific leaks, but his ire this week has been especially focused on information reportedly disclosed to reporters about the resignation of Michael Flynn as Trump's national security adviser and connections between Russia and Flynn and other individuals with ties to the Trump administration.

    "We will decline to comment at this time," Justice Department spokesperson Peter Carr said of Trump's remarks.

    On Feb. 14, the morning after news broke that Flynn had submitted his resignation, Trump tweeted:

    It's not new for the federal government to pursue leaks. The Justice Department under Obama aggressively pursued investigations and prosecutions under the federal Espionage Act, more so than under previous administrations.

    Obama-era prosecutions under the Espionage Act included the case against Thomas Drake, a former National Security Agency senior executive charged with leaking information related to alleged government waste to the Baltimore Sun. Prosecutors later dropped the felony charges against Drake — he was facing up to 35 years in prison — and he pleaded guilty in 2011 to a misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to community service and probation.

    Drake's supporters hailed him as a whistleblower wronged, and the case was held up as an example of the Obama administration's overzealous approach to tackling leaks.

    In 2013, the administration faced criticism after the Associated Press revealed that the Justice Department secretly obtained the telephone records of several Associated Press journalists as part of an investigation into leaked information about a failed terrorist attack.

    Obama at the time expressed concerns about the Justice Department's investigations of journalists, and then-US attorney general Eric Holder conducted a review of the department's policies. In January 2015, Holder announced new guidelines for obtaining information from or about journalists, which require the attorney general to sign off on all subpoenas related to newsgathering activities.

    In tweets this week, Trump signaled that rooting out leakers would be a priority for his administration. Yesterday morning, he tweeted:

    And then on a few hours before his Thursday press conference, he sent out another round of tweets.



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    FWD.us

    WASHINGTON — The former Bernie Sanders staffer turned on a sepia-toned Facebook live video outside the Phoenix Immigration and Customs Enforcement office where family friend Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos was being held before being deported last week and pleaded with progressives to join the fight.

    "This is the time to show up for the undocumented community. This is the time to show up for Lupita," said an emotional Erika Andiola, a popular and well-respected DREAMer who benefited from Barack Obama's deferred action program. "All of you who were at the Women's March, all of you that were at every single protest against Trump."

    Andiola was talking about a mother of US-born children who went to a check-in with immigration officials and was deported after 22 years living in the states over a years-old removal order, but she could have been talking about her own mom, and very soon she will be.

    Immigration activists tied together by the arms participate in a sit-in protest against ICE raids and deportations near the downtown Los Angeles Federal Building.

    Nick Ut / AP

    In May, her mother Maria “Guadalupe” Arreola has her own check-in with ICE, as well as a pending removal order. Andiola, who has already stopped her mother's deportation once, said she will fight, even in the face of the daunting challenge of doing so, against a Trump administration that has already expanded immigration enforcement priorities.

    "With my mom, it's really bad," Andiola said, letting out a heavy breath in a phone conversation just days after her friend's deportation. "Trust me, I’m putting up a fight. I'm not just going to sit here and let them take her from me or me self-deporting, that’s not how I've done things before and that’s not how I am."

    The problem for even the most hardened activists is that the playbook they've used for years is severely limited by an administration that doesn't have the same pressure points as Obama's did. They used to reach out to former Sen. Harry Reid or Sen. Dick Durbin, who would make the call to ICE themselves or contact the administration. But last week, efforts to recruit Republican Sen. John McCain to help Garcia de Rayos were unsuccessful.

    That's why Andiola says the new anti-Trump protest energy that has been seen at the Women's March in Washington, DC, and Los Angeles, and at airports in New York City and around the US to demonstrate against the travel ban on Muslim-majority countries, must also be mobilized to help immigrants.

    Andiola, who was a featured speaker at the Women's March and saw the ferocious pushback against the travel ban, notes with frustration that those outside ICE in Phoenix, Arizona, were the same faces she always sees fighting on immigration. The coalescing of a unified progressive coalition is happening in fits and starts, she argues, but needs to muscle up quickly.

    On Sunday, MoveOn.org, the earliest incarnation of what we now know as the online left, held a call for members that grew from 30,000 the previous week to 40,000. And presenting on the call was Cristina Jimenez of the advocacy group United We Dream, comprised and working in defense of undocumented youth and families. The progressives on the call, she said, should pressure their mayors and local elected officials to stand up to Trump’s raids and deportations "and ensure that immigrants in our localities are safe, protected from deportation, and that local police are not deputized to be immigration agents."

    Charles Reed / AP

    ACLU, MoveOn.org, and Star Trek actor George Takei's popular social media presence also shared United We Dream online information cards on what to do if immigration officials show up at your door.

    Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action, said she sees momentum growing to protect immigrants, and that progressives should show up on the issue.

    “People who aren't themselves members of frontline communities really need to show up in the wake of reports of recent raids," she said. "This is truly a moment for solidarity across lines of immigration status, religion, and national origin."

    But along with grassroots energy, immigration advocates say they also need organized pushback and the support of progressive Democrats, which has at times been difficult to focus during the early days of the Trump administration because there has always seemed to be a new outrage or major issue to react to.

    Andiola is hoping to see her former boss Sanders and the group that sprouted from his candidacy, Our Revolution — for which she now works — on the front lines fighting for her mother and immigrants across the country.

    But the issue doesn't yet seem to be the top priority for progressives. Sanders did not respond to repeated requests for comment over multiple days for this story. Jeff Weaver, his former campaign manager and president of Our Revolution, also did not respond to requests for comment. Rep. Keith Ellison, who Sanders backed for DNC chair, also did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

    Symone Sanders, who worked on black outreach for Sanders, in addition to her role as national press secretary, and is now a strategist for Priorities USA, said it is not enough for progressives to come out forcefully for something like the Women's March but not for a Black Lives Matter or immigration rally.

    "The progressive movement is really going to have to step up on all fronts — today it's immigration raids, tomorrow it could be infringing on the rights of indigenous communities," she said.

    And advocates hoping to catalyze immigration as the next great progressive fight with protests like Thursday's "Day Without Immigrants," which features business owners closing shop for the day, may find that other issues continue to step on the urgency of the immigration battle. A coalition of progressive groups, including Our Revolution, hopes to create a sequel to the Women's March with the April 15 Tax March, to pressure Trump to release his taxes.

    Foreign nationals are arrested an ICE operation.

    Bryan Cox / U.S. Immigration and Customs Enf

    Former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, who is running to be chair of the DNC, told BuzzFeed News that raids near schools and deporting families and DREAMers are not who we are as a country.

    "We can't and won't stand for this," he said. "This is why we must continue to organize, we must continue to march, and we must make our voices heard the way we've done over the first month of his disastrous administration. We can't be silent now and we must hold him accountable."

    The fear, activists say, is that the new administration will mobilize against already-vulnerable immigrants.

    "With Erika, one of the fears we have is there are greater risks for us as individual activists, she's a very public figure, her mother was out there during SB1070," said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC). "Trump is a very vindictive personality, so you wonder not just about him, but the team he has around him, will they take any action? But we’re committed to protecting our leaders."

    Members of the family of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, left, stand with supporters at a news conference in front of the ICE office in Phoenix.

    Steve Fluty / AP

    For these activists, the current situation is serious. Just 24 hours after Garcia de Rayos was deported from Phoenix after appearing for her immigration check-in, DREAMer Daniel Ramirez, one of the estimated 750,000 young immigrants shielded from deportation under Obama’s 2012 executive actions, was detained in Seattle after officials maintained that he admitted to being a gang member. On Wednesday, Jeanette Vizguerra, who has lived in the country for 20 years, did not go to her check-in, instead taking sanctuary in a church in Denver, Colorado.

    Then there are those with upcoming court dates like Juan Miguel, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who is scheduled to appear for his asylum case in April.

    “I’m scared that when I show up they’ll put me in detention right then and there or deport me,” Juan Miguel told BuzzFeed News.

    The 40-year-old was deported three times. The last time he was deported to Mexico was in 2015. At that time, he worked in Nogales, Sonora, in Mexico and sent money to his wife and kids on the US side of the border.

    One night, Juan Miguel said, he was kidnapped by a cartel and, along with a group of other people, forced to dig tunnels underneath the border fence. After nine days of grueling work, people started screaming that the Mexican government was coming. Seeing his armed captors run, Juan Miguel also ran until he felt safe enough to catch his breath.

    At the suggestion of an immigrant rights group, Juan Miguel asked for asylum at the border and was placed in detention for eight months without a bond hearing. That changed when a federal court ruling, Rodriguez v. Robbins, required that detainees locked up for six months or more be given a bond hearing.

    He’s settled back into life with his family in Tempe, Arizona, and is heavily involved the immigrant rights movement there. He visits detainees at Eloy Detention Center and recently met with a delegation from Mexico that was concerned about the treatment of Mexicans under the Trump administration.

    Despite his activism, the thought of now going to court weighs on him.

    “We have to wait and see what happens in the immigration courts,” Juan Miguel said. “If they do end up locking people up or deporting them, I just don’t know. I don’t want to be in a detention center again, that was hell.”

    "They have a thirst to do their job and are just going to town with it."

    Karla Navarrete, staff attorney for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, doubts people will be detained in courtrooms, because they are supposed to be neutral spaces.

    “But for check-ins, you should be wary. You should go, but you should go with an attorney,” Navarrete told BuzzFeed News. “I know it’s scary, but it’s better than having someone come knock on your door and putting people around you at risk. At the same time, I do believe it’s hard to tell people it’s going to be OK.”

    When she tried to help an undocumented man who was caught in an ICE sweep last week get out, an agent told her things were changing, Navarrete said.

    “I feel like a lot of ICE officers feel like they’ve been suppressed in doing their jobs for the last eight years, even though that’s ridiculous because Obama deported more people than in the past,” she said. “They feel like people have gotten too many passes… They have a thirst to do their job and are just going to town with it.”

    Besides emboldened immigration agents on the ground, conversations with Trump administration officials reveal the scope of the challenges facing activists and immigrants. Appearing on Meet the Press Sunday, senior policy adviser Stephen Miller said the emphasis is on removing immigrants that commit crimes that threaten or endanger public safety, but that he "cannot order a federal law enforcement officer in ICE" to ignore the laws of the United States.

    Further, he said it would "be highly unethical for me in the White House or anybody else to pick up the phone and call an ICE officer and say, 'Well, when you encounter this particular felon, we'd like you to pretend the law doesn't exist.'"

    Asked about Andiola and her mother, a Trump official told BuzzFeed News they didn't know who she is. But in discussing whether the administration might employ some sort of prosecutorial discretion on individual cases in the future for someone like Arreola — who has a removal order because she re-entered the United States in 1998 after an initial deportation order was given to her at the border — the official went down the same road as Miller, questioning whether activists want criminals out on the street.

    Pressed on Meet the Press, Miller said "an immigration judge makes those decisions. An ICE officer makes those decisions."

    But David Leopold, a lawyer who represented clients in many high-profile immigration cases in the Obama years, said Trump gave judges and immigration agents all the leeway they needed to argue that everyone is a removal priority by how broadly the administration wrote the executive order on interior enforcement.

    "When I read these priorities two weeks ago, I jumped out of my seat because they really do encompass almost every undocumented person in this country," Leopold said.

    He pointed to Section 5 of the executive order, which sets as a priority any immigrant who has been convicted of any criminal offense; someone who has only been charged; someone who has committed a "chargeable offense" but has not been charged; someone who engaged in fraud, such as working with a false social security number; has received public benefits; is subject to a final order of removal, but who has not complied with their legal obligation to depart the country; or someone who poses a public safety or national security risk, in the judgment of an immigration officer.

    About 40% of undocumented immigrants crossed the border without inspection, Leopold said, so that's already 5 million people subject to deportation. Someone who did not receive due process may nonetheless have a final order of removal against them and an immigration agent would have incredible leeway to decide if an individual is a risk under these guidelines.

    Everyone from a person with a parking ticket to a murderer could be included in the same enforcement priorities boat.

    "So [press secretary Sean Spicer] or Trump can say we’re going after bad people, but mothers and grandmothers and fathers are living in fear," Leopold said.

    Activists worry that the administration will do just that, labeling everyone a hardened criminal who deserves to be expelled from the country. That's why they say Facebook Live, as Andiola used last week, will be an important tool to show Americans who is actually being targeted.

    "This is about the soul of the nation and who we are as Americans," NILC's Hincapié said.

    But to Jeffrey Lord, a former official in the Reagan administration who went to bat for Trump on CNN during the campaign, the president has always been clear on what he plans to do. He cited Americans who have been killed by undocumented immigrants, which Trump elevated to national prominence during the election.

    Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

    "I am of the belief that what he’s going to do here is set an example, he’s going to rigorously enforce the law and say we can’t just do this," Lord said, adding that Trump's promised border wall will have a big, beautiful door for legal entry. "There's no question this is going to be a flashpoint, this is just the beginning."

    And Andiola says she will need the force of the progressive movement for the coming clash.

    "It's interesting how the rest of the progressive movement is now paying attention to injustice and suffering because there’s a boogeyman talking about it," Andiola said. "Our house has already been raided, my mom's been detained before, we’ve grown a lot stronger, but we're picking ourselves up and having a plan, we’re not leaving this country without a fight."

    LINK: A DREAMer Was Arrested During A Raid And Now Immigration Officials Have Been Ordered To Explain Why

    LINK: More Than 680 Arrested In Raids Targeting Undocumented Immigrants



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    Dominick Reuter / AFP / Getty Images

    Florida lawmakers violated the First Amendment when they passed a law prohibiting doctors generally from asking patients if they owned guns, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday.

    The law said that doctors couldn't ask patients if they owned guns unless they believed in "good faith" that the information was relevant to a patient's medical care or safety, or the safety of others. A doctor who violated the law faced disciplinary action, including having their medical license revoked.

    The American Medical Association encourages doctors to ask patients about gun ownership as part of a broader inquiry into possible health and safety risks, particularly if children live in the home. In response to complaints from patients who said they felt harassed and discriminated against by these types of questions from doctors, the Florida Legislature passed the Firearms Owners’ Privacy Act in 2011.

    A majority of all the active judges of the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit rejected Florida's argument that the law wasn't a free speech restriction but was rather a permissible regulation of doctors' professional conduct. The court also found that state lawmakers relied on a weak record of evidence in adopting the law.

    "Saying that restrictions on writing and speaking are merely incidental to
    speech is like saying that limitations on walking and running are merely incidental
    to ambulation," Judge Adalberto Jordan wrote in a majority opinion.

    The court did uphold a separate section of the law that said doctors couldn't discriminate against gun-owning patients.


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    Pete Marovich / Getty Images

    Two candidates for chair of the Democratic National Committee cast scrutiny and doubt Thursday on the claim from one leading rival, Tom Perez, that he has secured 180 votes in the race.

    It's a rare flash of discord in a race where criticism and debate have been sparse, despite the opportunity to use the DNC platform to potentially alter the direction of the Democratic Party in the Trump era.

    Perez, the former labor secretary and civil rights lawyer, announced the pledges on Tuesday in a letter to DNC members, the rank-and-file Democrats and state leaders who will vote next weekend on a new chair. To clinch the race, candidates need a 224-vote majority. Perez did not name the 180 members, but the decision to reveal the whip count in the final days of the race came as a striking assertion of confidence in a crowded 10-candidate field.

    On Thursday, two of those candidates, Rep. Keith Ellison and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, each pushed back on Perez, describing the 180-commitment figure as questionable.

    Ellison, the Minnesota congressman also vying for the lead in the race, went so far as to suggest that Perez had released his whip count to deliberately mislead.

    Referring to Perez only as “one of the other great candidates,” Ellison told DNC members in a letter that the whip count was “unverifiable” and meant to “exert pressure on you” — “tactics,” he said, to “make the race sound like it is over” and put a “finger on the scale.”

    On Thursday night, in an interview, Buttigieg said he found Perez’s 180-pledge count “a little unlikely,” asking why the campaign hadn't release names with the number. “If hard counts or hard numbers were used there — if it's actually hard, you can put out the names. But by definition it's not a hard count,” Buttigieg said, speaking by phone in Indiana, where he is a two-term mayor of South Bend.

    Buttigieg conceded that Perez likely has “a substantial number” of backers. “But you don't generally do that [publicize a whip count] if you're at or near the majority,” he said.

    “I'd be surprised if they were at 180.”

    Perez’s team has spent eight weeks aggressively courting, and tracking, the 447-person voting pool. (David Huynh and Matt Berg, two strategists who built the massive and intricately organized whip operation at the Democratic convention last summer, are now running Perez's whip count.)

    The pledges would put Perez just 44 members south of victory. If no candidate immediately receives a majority of the 447 votes — a scenario most in the race consider likely on the first ballot — DNC members will vote again on a new ballot, and then another, until someone reaches 224 votes.

    Buttigieg said his success depends on multiple rounds of voting, where members may abandon their first choice: “It’s a very specific lane for us, but the lane is there.”

    Neither Ellison nor Buttigieg has released his own whip count.

    Ellison told DNC members he is “very confident in our whip count” — “in an excellent position to win,” he said, dismissing Perez’s claim to a definitive lead.

    The responses from Ellison and Buttigieg on Thursday, mild as they are compared to any exchange from 2016, amount in this particular race to a pointed moment.

    The DNC chair candidates agree on many of the issues. The forums where they face off are cordial and subdued, less like debates than lengthy Q&As where all 10 candidates, from Perez to 29-year-old Sam Ronan of Ohio, are given fair time.

    After one recent forum in Washington, the night before Ellison wrote to DNC members about Perez, the two rivals sat down to a private dinner together.

    “We’re friends. It's ok,” Ellison tweeted.

    Perez added: “What Keith said.”


    0 0

    Sean Rayford / Getty Images

    President Trump's war against the news media escalated to new heights Friday, posting on Twitter that news organizations are "the enemy of the American people."

    In the tweet, Trump said the New York Times, CNN, NBC News "and many more" are not his enemy — but rather that of the general public.

    "SICK!" the tweet concluded.

    Twitter

    Trump deleted the tweet moments after sending it out, then reposted it a few minutes later — this time adding CBS and ABC to the list of "enemy" media organizations, and removing the all caps "SICK!"

    The White House did not immediately respond to a BuzzFeed News request for clarification Friday.

    However, the tweet comes just a day after Trump held a combative and lengthy news conference in which he repeatedly accused various US news organizations of reporting "fake news." He also emailed a survey to supporters designed to record his supporters' anger at news organizations.

    Trump has long been a critic of the media, but his escalating attacks on "fake news" and "enemy" organizations comes amid a rocky start to his administration that has seen his national security adviser resign, his nominee for labor secretary withdraw, and a barrage of leaks suggesting the White House is in chaos.

    LINK: President Trump Wants You To Take This Bizarre Survey On Media Bias

    LINK: Trump Attacked The Media For Running "Fake News" During A Combative Press Conference



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    Rep. Mark Sanford

    Sean Rayford / Getty Images

    MT. PLEASANT, S.C. — “What do y’all want to do?” South Carolina GOP Rep. Mark Sanford asked the crowd of 235 or so supporters and protesters packing a small auditorium shortly after 9 a.m. on Saturday.

    This was Sanford’s mantra for the morning, when the hour-long town hall he had scheduled with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott ballooned into a three hour and 38 minute exercise in playing, as Sanford put it the night before, “a human piñata.”

    Heading into the recess week, many Republican members of Congress and staff met questions about in-person town halls with a point blank “no,” and the occasional question about the sanity of any member who did one. Since the election of President Donald Trump, members’ offices have been flooded with phone calls and protesters have flocked to their offices in Washington and back home, eager to press members on Trump’s policies and the GOP plan to repeal Obamacare.

    Before this week’s recess — the longest break members have had at home since Trump’s inauguration — Republican House members discussed security precautions to prevent town halls from becoming violent, and talked about strategies to keep events under control in the face of heightened activism around the country in opposition to Trump.

    Then there’s Sanford, who organized the town hall mid-week in conjunction with protesters, in this case the Charleston chapter of Indivisible, a loosely organized national network dedicated to resisting Trump’s agenda and holding members of Congress’ feet to the fire.

    “They said they wanted to do one, and we said, ‘OK, let's do one,’” Sanford told BuzzFeed News Friday evening.

    Joe Preston, the legislative coordinator for Indivisible Charleston, corroborated that version of events, remarking on just how amenable Sanford’s office had been to working with them.

    “It blows my mind, actually,” he told BuzzFeed News.

    Though Saturday’s town hall was scheduled for 9 a.m., the room had hit already capacity by 8:09, and an equal number of people were stuck outside. Sanford was trying to find a way to accommodate everyone. He offered to relocate to the nearby building, or to move the whole thing outside to the waiting crowd, but those people who had arrived before 8 a.m. to secure seats were not inclined to give them up. They wanted another town hall next weekend, in a bigger venue.

    The crowd outside was not pleased, jeering Scott and Sanford when they went out to talk to them.

    “The group outside didn’t like the plan,” Sanford deadpanned when he came back in.

    Finally, Sanford settled on a solution. “We'll do 45 minutes in here, then we'll come outside,” he told the crowd. Scott, would stay only for the first hour; he had to leave to get to a funeral.

    So, Sanford began, “Do y’all want to do questions?”

    Sanford knew what he was getting into. The former governor, who earned notoriety when he was caught lying about an extra-marital affair, then rekindled his political career by winning back his old congressional seat, is no stranger to political fireworks.

    “They're down to watch me blow up tomorrow morning,” Sanford, can of Miller Lite in hand, told acquaintances and friends Friday evening, as he introducing them to the two reporters he was teaching to shuck oysters at a fundraiser for Ducks Unlimited in Charleston.

    “What's gonna happen tomorrow is gonna be a little bit weird,” he acknowledged later that evening, perched on a table as an auctioneer took bids for duck-related items.

    The room he and Scott — who asked to join the event at the last minute on Friday — walked into the next morning was charged, but polite. Wearing matching blue and white checked shirts (“His has buttons [on the collar], mine does not,” Scott protested), the two faced a crowd armed with signs that read “agree” on one side and “disagree” on another.

    The “agree” side got very little use.

    “Are you personally proud to have this person representing our country?” a man asked, kicking it off with an immediate reference to Trump.

    “Given the two choices I had, I am thankful that Trump is our president,” Scott said.

    Sanford, who has been openly critical of Trump at times, was more circumspect. “I think we’re all struggling a little,” he said.

    It was the reason that many of the people in the crowd were there; the reason Indivisible was founded. “Trump brought us here,” said Brandy Southerland, who was seated in the front row.

    But Sanford tried to move the conversation away from the president. “Let’s not make this a referendum on [Trump],” he urged. “It’s the Irish prayer: we can control certain things, certain things we can’t control.”

    The subjects ranged the gamut, but healthcare was the dominant topic of discussion, with attendees voicing concerns about the quality of care and range of options they would have if Republicans follow through on their promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.

    True to his word, Sanford stopped the discussion 45 minutes later to move the proceedings outside. Flanked by attendees asking more questions and one urging him to stop Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz from continuing to investigate Hillary Clinton, Sanford and the crowd slowly processed to the football field where a crowd was waiting. He stood on the field, facing a crowd arrayed along the track and in the bleachers.

    The crowd ping ponged between applause for Sanford, in appreciation of the fact that he was sticking around or when he gave an answer they appreciated (like suggesting Trump ought to release his tax returns, calling it unrealistic that Mexico would really pay for the border wall, or suggesting that perhaps a House committee ought to look into the circumstances surrounding Gen. Mike Flynn’s resignation as National Security Advisor), and jeers and boos when he said things with which they disagreed. At one point, he was serenaded with a version of “Big Yellow Taxi,” by an environmental activist who asked him, in song, to “save paradise.”

    “We’ll agree on some things; we’ll disagree on other things,” Sanford told the crowd. But he asked that people not yell over each other so that he could hear them.

    By 11:30, two and a half hours in, the crowd had started to dwindle. “I totally get it,” he said. “Two and a half hours into any town hall gets boring.” But, he promised, “as long as y’all want to talk, I’ll talk.”

    Finally, he agreed to stop at noon, if only to let the police officers who were working security leave. But he made the most of his time. When an aide attempted to cut him off at 11:57, he stopped her. “We’re” going right ‘til 12,” he said. “We have three more minutes.”

    When his time ran out, Sanford meandered over to a car and leaned against it, taking questions from the small group of people remaining. “Would you call the boys and see if any of them want to have a late lunch?” he asks his aide at one point, referring to his four sons.

    Asked before the town hall why he would want to put himself through this, Sanford deflected, calling his “human piñata” comment the night before just a joke and then turning the floor over to Scott. But he is fiercely proud of the character of his district, where the people, he says, are uniquely suited to have these types of disagreements without ever becoming disagreeable.

    Sanford, too, may be uniquely suited to voluntarily wade into such an, at times, unfriendly situation. He often finds himself in political “no man’s land,” he tells the crowd — that is to say, vocal when he’s not on the same page as his own party. And he very evidently relishes being the one who stays and takes questions and criticism — despite the fact, as he noted several times, there are plenty of other things he could be doing with his Saturday.

    Three hours and 38 minutes later, Sanford had taken his last question, and shaken his last hand. He dashed across the road, narrowly avoiding oncoming vehicles, and hopped into a waiting car.

    LINK: After Promising For Years To Repeal Obamacare, Republicans Have To Explain Why They Haven’t Yet



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