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Trump Continues to Criticize Democrats Over DACA Demands

WASHINGTON U.S. President Donald Trump criticized Democrat lawmakers Tuesday, saying their demands to include protections for young undocumented immigrants in a bill that would prevent a government shut-down this week would cost the military.

The White House-congressional talks about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are linked to urgent meetings this week about funding to keep the government operating beyond Friday midnight, when current spending authorization expires.

Democratic leaders have said they most likely will oppose a measure that does not protect young immigrants known as Dreamers, including the nearly 800,000 who entered the United States unauthorized and received protection from deportation through DACA since its creation five years ago.

This has raised the ire of Trump, who again insisted the spending bill must satisfy his demands for tighter border security.

Deportation status

Even if legislators do not approve a program to protect the immigrants, deporting them will not be a top federal government priority, according to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

“It’s not going to be a priority of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” Nielsen told CBS News Tuesday. “If you are a DACA that’s compliant with your registration, meaning you haven’t committed a crime and you in fact are registered, you are not a priority of enforcement for ICE should the program end.”

Despite Nielsen’s remarks, Trump has greatly expanded the categories of people who can be prioritized for deportation, a move immigration advocates say puts DACA recipients who lose their status at risk.

Nielsen’s comments were made as the battle over an immigration agreement has been complicated by Trump’s controversial remarks at White House meeting last Thursday.

Race issue raised

During an Oval Office meeting Tuesday with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Trump said he wants the U.S. to draw immigrants from nations around the world.

“I want them from everywhere,” he said in response to a reporter’s question at the end of the meeting about whether he wanted more immigrants from Norway.

Trump did not respond when asked if he wanted people to enter the country from “just Caucasian or white countries.”

At a White House meeting last week, Trump reportedly referred to immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and Africa as coming from “s—hole countries” and said he wanted more immigrants from countries such as Norway.

During testimony Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Nielsen said she “did not hear” Trump use a certain vulgarity to describe African countries but added she doesn’t “dispute the president was using tough language.”

Democratic Sen. Dick Durban has not wavered from his allegations of Trump’s profanity during last week’s meeting in the Oval Office. “I stand by every word,” he told reporters.

In an exclusive CNN interview that aired Tuesday, Durbin said, “We talked about the color of the skin of the people coming into the United States.”

At one point after news surfaced about his remark, Trump tweeted, “Never said anything derogatory about Haiti. Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately no trust.”

Trump’s reported remark has fueled Democrats’ charges he is a racist. On Sunday, Trump denied he is a racist, telling reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in the state of Florida, “I am the least racist person you will ever interview.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders continued the narrative Tuesday, saying claims Trump is racist are “outrageous.”

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday on CBS’s Late Show that Trump could demonstrate he is not a racist by signing an immigration bill that would protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Trump is tying an extension of DACA, a temporary program championed by his predecessor Barack Obama, to funding for a wall he wants built along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Building a wall to stop further illegal immigration was a campaign promise Trump made during his successful 2016 run to the White House.

Many Democrats want extending DACA to be a separate issue from building a wall � something they oppose.

Last September, Trump signed an executive order ending DACA, but gave Congress until March 5 to weigh in on the issue.

Source: Voice of America

Gunbattle in Libya’s Capital Kills 20, Closes Airport

BENGHAZI, LIBYA Heavily armed Libyan militias clashed in Tripoli on Monday, killing at least 20 people and forcing the capital’s only airport to close, officials said.

The Health Ministry said another 63 people were wounded in the fighting between two militias that are ostensibly allied with the internationally-backed government, underscoring the lingering instability in the country seven years after a popular uprising toppled long-ruling dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Civilians were among the dead, including an airline employee who was trying to get home after Matiga airport shut down. An airport official said staffers were evacuated from Matiga airport and that five flights have been canceled. A picture posted on the airport’s Facebook page showed a passenger plane with its roof blown off.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

The Special Deterrent Force, a militia which controls the airport, was fighting a rival militia led by local strongman Bashir al-Baqara. Both are allied with the internationally recognized government in Tripoli. A rival government and parliament rule in Libya’s east, but across the country real power is held by a dizzying array of armed groups.

The Presidency Council � one of the three ruling bodies in Tripoli � said al-Baqara’s men wanted to release suspected al-Qaida and Islamic State members held at a prison near the airport that is also run by the Special Deterrent Force. The government has ordered al-Baqara’s men to hand over their weapons and disband.

Special Deterrent Force spokesman Ahmed bin Salem said four of his men were killed. He said the situation is now under control, and that a number of the attackers were arrested while trying to storm the prison. On its Facebook page, the force says the prison houses 2,500 detainees.

The chaos in Libya has made it a major transit point for migrants from across Africa and the Middle East hoping to reach Europe.

On Monday, the coast guard intercepted three boats carrying at least 300 migrants bound for Europe, according to Ayoub Gassim, the spokesman for Libya’s navy. The boats departed from different points near Tripoli and the coastal city of Sabratha, he said.

Source: Voice of America