In a major attack against immigrant communities in the United States, the Trump administration has announced it is ending temporary protected status for up to 250,000 Salvadorans who have been living in U.S. since at least 2001. The temporary protected status, known as TPS, gives the Salvadorans legal permission to live and work in the United States. It was enacted in 2001, after a devastating pair of earthquakes hit El Salvador. The announcement sparked immediate protests at the White House and a press conference in New York City. This is Salvadoran TPS recipient Urania Reyes speaking in New York City.
Urania Reyes: “We are begging to our President Trump and to the public to stand up and ask for our permanent—not temporary—legalization. We have been in the U.S. for more than 20 years, and they didn’t give us any permanent status. I think we are honorable people. We do the work other people don’t want to do. We earn very little money. We pay for housing and taxes and school for the children—for my three children—and they go to the school. And today I feel very sad, because they want to take the TPS from us.”
The Salvadorans will now have 18 months to leave the U.S. or find a legal way to remain in the country. The move will also affect nearly 200,000 children of Salvadoran parents who have TPS. These children are U.S. citizens. On Monday, many immigration advocates expressed concern the United States is planning to deport the Salvadorans back to a country gripped by violence and poverty, which has been exacerbated and fueled by decades of U.S. military and economic intervention in El Salvador and Central America. This is community organizer Sara Ramirez speaking at a protest outside the White House on Monday.
Sara Ramirez: “Never will a physical wall stop migration, because the basis of our coming to this country is not because we thought it would be fun or because we just wanted to. It is because of situations in our countries that were historically provoked—not by us—that forced us to migrate.”
Last year, the Trump administration announced it is also ending temporary protected status for tens of thousands of Haitian, Nicaraguan and Sudanese immigrants living in the United States. We’ll have more on the Trump administration’s TPS announcement after headlines.
In more news on immigration, President Trump is meeting with Republican and Democratic lawmakers at the White House today to debate funding for Trump’s border wall and the future of nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers. Trump is demanding $33 billion over a decade to fund the expansion of the militarized border wall and to hire 10,000 additional immigration agents. In exchange, he’s proposing Congress authorize protections for the undocumented young people who had been protected under DACA—that’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—before Trump rescinded the Obama-era policy late last year. Immigrant rights groups and Democratic lawmakers have slammed Trump for trying to use the DREAMers in order to win his far-right, anti-immigrant demands. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who was formerly the secretary of homeland security, has been in charge of reaching out to lawmakers for the talks and will be at today’s meeting. Over the weekend, while speaking at a press conference at Camp David, President Trump vowed there will be no resolution on DACA without billions of dollars in funding for the border wall.
President Donald Trump: “We want the wall. The wall is going to happen, or we’re not going to have DACA.”
In news from Washington, D.C., special counsel Robert Mueller is likely planning to interview President Trump as part of Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. The New York Times reports Mueller told Trump’s lawyers last month that he will probably seek to interview the president, although he has not yet sent a formal request for the interview. So far, Mueller has brought charges against four former Trump aides, including Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates and Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos.
Speculation about Oprah Winfrey potentially running for president in 2020 is continuing to build, following Oprah’s powerful lifetime achievement award acceptance speech at the Golden Globes on Sunday night. On Monday, a number of Democratic strategists came out endorsing or praising the idea. Meanwhile, President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, also tweeted out a celebration of Oprah’s Golden Globes speech and Hollywood’s new “Time’s Up” initiative to stop sexual harassment and violence. Ivanka wrote, “Just saw @Oprah’s empowering & inspiring speech at last night’s #GoldenGlobes. Let’s all come together, women & men, & say #TIMESUP! #United.” Ivanka’s tweet sparked widespread criticism online, given that her father, President Trump, has been accused of sexual harassment or assault by at least 16 women.
President Trump’s nominee for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services is slated to appear before the Senate Finance Committee for his confirmation hearing today. Alex Azar is a former executive of the multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. President Trump nominated Azar to head the Health and Human Services Department after Trump’s former pick, Tom Price, resigned from the position amid a scandal over his use of military and private charter flights, which cost taxpayers up to $1 million. On Monday, Politico reported that when Alex Azar the former president of Eli Lilly’s U.S. operations, the company tested the company’s highly profitable erectile dysfunction drug Cialis on children, in efforts to extend a patent that was soon to expire. Critics say Azar helped the company game the patent system, testing a sex drug on children in order to extend their profits.
Officials from North Korea and South Korea met today in the Demilitarized Zone for the first high-level talks in more than two years, amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, largely sparked by President Trump’s repeated threats to launch a nuclear strike against North Korea. During the meeting, North Korea said it would send a delegation of athletes, officials and cheerleaders to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February. The two countries will also reinstate a military hotline that was suspended for nearly two years.
In Tunisia, anti-austerity protests are spreading across the country, after the government announced it was raising taxes and hiking fuel prices. At least one protester was killed and five others were injured amid a police crackdown against the protests on Monday. The Tunisian Interior Ministry says the 55-year-old protester likely died after inhaling tear gas.
In Turkey, the deputy prime minister has announced the state of emergency imposed after a July 2016 failed coup attempt will be extended for another three months.
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag: “The state of emergency will be extended again. As you know, as a procedure, the National Security Council needs to take an advisory decision, and then this must be discussed in the Cabinet meeting. Probably, this will be on the agenda during the next meeting of the National Security Council.”
Activists say the Turkish government has used the failed military coup and the state of emergency to enact a far-reaching crackdown against dissidents, journalists, teachers, intellectuals, human rights activists, opposition lawmakers and Kurdish communities in Turkey.
Back in the United States, in an unexpected move, the Republican-controlled Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has rejected the Trump administration’s proposal to bolster coal-fired and nuclear power plants. Trump has repeatedly promised to bolster coal production and the number of coal jobs in the United States. But his plan to do so, which was outlined last fall by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, has faced widespread opposition from not only environmentalists but also a wide array of corporate interests, including Dow Chemical and Koch Industries. Multiple former energy commission chairs have also criticized the plan, saying it would raise electricity prices across the Northeast and Midwest.
In Alabama, residents have raised more than $150,000 to support Tina Johnson, whose home was burned to the ground only months after she came forward to publicly accuse Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of groping her without her consent back in 1991. The destruction of Johnson’s home on January 3 is being investigated as possible arson. Johnson says she suspects the fire is connected to her decision to come forward about her experiences with Roy Moore, who lost December’s highly controversial special Senate election after at least nine women, including Johnson, came forward to accuse him of sexually harassing or assaulting them when they were teenagers, one as young as 14 years old.
In Washington, D.C., members of the LGBT community are speaking out about the brutal murder of a young African-American lesbian named Kerrice Lewis. The 23-year-old woman was shot and burned alive in the trunk of a car on December 28, in one of the final homicides of last year. After minimal media coverage of the possible hate crime, residents and activists took to Twitter using the hashtag “#SayHerName” to mourn the death of Kerrice Lewis.
And in Harlem, New York, hundreds of people attended the funeral of anti-police brutality activist Erica Garner, who died at the age of 27 on December 30 after an asthma-induced heart attack, four months after giving birth to her second child. Erica’s father, Eric Garner, was killed when police officers in Staten Island wrestled him to the ground, pinned him down and applied a fatal chokehold in 2014. Inside the church, Erica was eulogized by the Reverend Al Sharpton, who talked about Erica’s unflinching determination to get justice for her father. Sharpton said, while they say “she died of a heart attack, no, her heart was attacked that day,” referring to July 27, 2014, the day police killed her father. Sharpton went on to say, “Justice is in a coma in the Eric Garner case.”
Police officer Daniel Pantaleo, who put Garner in the fatal chokehold, still works in the NYPD. There have also been no federal civil rights charges brought against him and others responsible for Eric Garner’s death. Also attending the funeral were hip-hop artist and actor Common and the father of Michael Brown, killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, two weeks after Eric Garner was killed.
There was conflict in the midst of the funeral last night over the exclusion of Erica’s grandmother, Eric Garner’s mother Gwen Carr, causing a number of people to leave, including a group of mothers of children killed by New York police, like Kadiatou Diallo, the mother of Amadou Diallo. A number of New York police officers escorted Erica’s coffin out of the church. After the funeral, several dozen Black Lives Matter activists took to the streets. One person was arrested. Before they marched, I spoke to QB of Shut It Down NYC, a friend of Erica Garner.
QB: “Every Tuesday and Thursday, she would do a rally. Whether it was 9 degrees, 10 degrees, whether it was three people, four people, we marched. We marched to her father’s memorial. We said a few words. And that was something that just became a part of our lives. That’s just a unique situation where you have to grow up in front of the world. It’s like the world saw your father get murdered. The world watched your father not get justice. And then you’re pushed into the limelight, and you’re basically living a life that you didn’t ask for. And she didn’t ask to be an activist; it was kind of a choice that was made for her. She was demanding what we were all demanding, which is Pantaleo to be fired, even though he’s still collecting a salary.”
Amy Goodman: “The officer who put her father”—
QB: “That’s the officer who ultimately killed her—who murdered her father. And he’s still actively working with NYPD. There’s no justice. And there still isn’t justice. And just to have NYPD at her funeral, that’s the last thing in this world that she would have wanted, to have NYPD come in the church, to be involved in the funeral. But one thing I want her to be remembered is how much she loved her children, because nobody’s thinking about that. She just had a 3-month-old. She had an 8-year-old, Alyssa. She loved those two kids. She loved them for the world. And I want people to just remember that, that, you know, she wanted justice, she never got it, and she died never getting it. But the fight is not over. It’s not over.”
Protesters: “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now! What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now! If we don’t get it? Shut it down!”
Police officer: “Get back. Get back. Get back. No video.”
Amy Goodman: “We’re standing right near the church where Erica Garner was just memorialized, and police are arresting one of the protesters outside.”
Police officer: “Back up. Back up.”
Valerie Ross: “The man is still being paid who murdered Eric Garner! Please keep that in mind. That man is still on salary with the NYPD. And his daughter is now dead! Show some respect for the dead!”
That’s Valerie Ross, one of scores of protesters who took to the streets after the funeral of Erica Garner. She will be laid to rest today in Linden, New Jersey.
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