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Trump extends legal protection for nearly 59,000 Haitians in U.S.

TPS protest | Getty Images

People protest the possibility that the Trump administration may overturn the Temporary Protected Status for Haitians in front of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office on May 13 in Miami. | Getty

President Donald Trump is again backing away from his hard-line anti-immigration rhetoric from the campaign trail, this time by extending the legal status of nearly 59,000 Haitians already in the U.S..

Haitian activists, the Haitian government, immigrant advocates and a bipartisan group of lawmakers pressed the White House to maintain the special status for Haitians affected by the 2010 earthquake in their country, with some advocates warning that Trump and other Republicans could face political repercussions—particularly in Florida, which is home to a large Haitian community.

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Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly allowed only another six months, passing up the typical 18-month extension. Trump aides are pointing to that curtailment as evidence of their intent to conduct a more rigorous review of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program under which the Haitians won relief six years ago.

The TPS program is one of several forms of relief the U.S. has given to foreigners over the years when their homelands were struck by natural disasters or armed conflict. The program allows nationals of the affected countries to remain in the U.S. and receive work permits until the disaster or unrest in their home country abates. People in the U.S. from those countries are eligible whether they were here legally or illegally at the time their country was designated for TPS.

Kelly warned that Haitians who hold the special status should not assume it will be renewed after the new expiration set for next January.

"This six-month extension should allow Haitian TPS recipients living in the United States time to attain travel documents and make other necessary arrangements for their ultimate departure from the United States, and should also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients," the secretary said in a statement.

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However, the secretary stopped short of embracing an option reportedly recommended by top immigration officials: announcing definitively that the special designation will end early next year.

DHS officials briefing reporters said Haiti was eager to have its nationals return, despite about $2 billion in remittances from the U.S. to Haiti annually. Remittances from abroad represented 25 percent of Haiti’s gross domestic product in 2015 — one of the highest percentages of any nation, according to data compiled by the World Bank.

In a statement, Kelly said the Haitian government wanted to have their citizens return home from the U.S. "in the near future."

However, Haiti's Ambassador to the U.S., Paul Altidor, said his country made it clear it supported the full, 18-month extension permitted under U.S. law.

"The near future


Trump in Jerusalem: Peace 'one of the toughest deals'

Trump in Jerusalem: Peace 'one of the toughest deals'

President Donald Trump talks during a news conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on May 22. | AP Photo


Trump drags his scandals back into the spotlight on foreign trip

The president delivers another self-inflicted wound by vigorously denying he revealed Israel was the source of intelligence.

By Nolan D. McCaskill

05/22/2017 01:57 PM EDT

Updated 05/22/2017 04:07 PM EDT


President Donald Trump on Monday denied divulging Israel as the source behind highly classified intelligence he allegedly shared with Russian officials, bringing attention back to the scandals engulfing his White House while he's on his first foreign trip.

Citing current and former U.S. officials, The Washington Post reported last week that Trump disclosed a sensitive Islamic State plot to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during a conclave earlier this month. Later reports pointed to Israel as the original source of the intelligence.

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The reports, however, generally did not allege that Trump specifically told the Russians that Israel may have been the source, and it's unclear if Trump even knew who the source was.

Trump, who is in Israel for the second leg of his foreign trip, delivered brief remarks alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their bilateral meeting at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

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It was their second of three extended meet-and-greets during the day: Netanyahu, a weakened politician at home who is eager to show off to Israelis his close bond with Trump, met the president at the airport for his arrival, and hosted him for dinner at the end of the day.

During the bilateral meeting, the two shook hands for the cameras as reporters shouted questions. Press wranglers were trying to clear reporters from the room when Bloomberg’s Margaret Talev asked the prime minister if he had any concerns about intelligence cooperation with the U.S.

“The intelligence cooperation is terrific,” Netanyahu told reporters, eager for the opportunity to channel publicly that the reported breach did nothing to harm the special relationship between the two countries. Trump paused for a moment and then halted the press from leaving the room. “Hey, folks,” he said. “Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name ‘Israel.’ Never mentioned it during that conversation.”

He looked toward Netanyahu as he gestured toward the pack of reporters. “They were all saying I did,” the president said. “So you had another story wrong. Never mentioned the word ‘Israel.’”

As the two leaders walked away, Netanyahu reiterated that “intelligence cooperation is terrific.”

“And it’s never been better,” he said.

While Trump’s foreign travel provides a reprieve from Washington, Monday’s questioning is evidence that not even distance can separate the president from the controversies he’s generated at home. And Trump's impromptu remarks on Monday could create more political damage, as the president appeared to further confirm that he had shared other highly sensitive information.

It was the first apparent gaffe of Trump’s foreign trip, where he is on day three of a nine-day journey. He appeared more


White House pitches budget as welfare reform

White House pitches budget as welfare reform

The budget policy summary echoes Trump’s campaign promises to invest in infrastructure and overhaul the tax code. | Getty

The Trump administration wants to take an ax to the safety net in order to balance the budget.

By Sarah Ferris

05/22/2017 02:04 PM EDT

The Trump administration is billing its budget as a plan to “reform the welfare system” and replace “dependency with dignity of work,” while saving $274 billion over 10 years, according to a four-page memo obtained by POLITICO.

The White House budget, to be released Tuesday, will suggest taking an ax to safety net programs like food stamps and popular family benefits like the child tax credit, in order to achieve the ambitious goal of balancing the federal budget over a decade.

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About $193 billion of the estimated savings would come from controversial changes to food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, with tighter work rules for beneficiaries and restrictions limiting benefits to people who are authorized to work in the United States.

Under the proposal, the White House estimates changes to the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit would save $40 billion over 10 years. And changes to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program are expected to save $21 billion over that time.

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As anticipated, the budget document will avoid revamping Social Security and Medicare.

“During his presidential campaign, the President promised not to cut Medicare benefits. And it does not,” the administration guidance document states.

The budget, which will be titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” will propose to bring down publicly held debt to 60 percent of GDP by 2027.

President Donald Trump is proposing to “fully reverse” the sequester’s cuts to defense spending to facilitate “a larger, more capable, and more lethal joint force.” Building on the priorities laid out in the so-called skinny budget released earlier this year, a $54 billion investment in defense would be paid for by slashing discretionary spending.

The president’s proposal calls for 56,400 more military service members in 2018 than the end-strength planned by the Obama administration, according to the document. The administration is also requesting 84 fighter aircraft, including 70 Joint Strike Fighters and 14 FA-18 Super Hornets.

The budget policy summary echoes Trump’s campaign promises to invest in infrastructure and overhaul the tax code. The document references “spurring $1 trillion” in infrastructure investment but does not detail the White House’s request for direct spending.

The administration document states that Trump’s tax plan “is not just a tax cut,” explaining that the president is seeking an overhaul “to make our tax system simpler and fairer” by cutting rates and eliminating “loopholes and deductions.” The plan would shrink the current system from seven to three brackets — 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent


Notre Dame graduates walk out on Pence's commencement address

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