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U.S. Senate Stays Divided Over Trump’s Immigration Deal

As tensions over the border wall and the government shutdown continued unabated last week, Pelosi demanded Trump postpone his scheduled Jan. 29 State of the Union address

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Internal Revenue Service employees Brian Lanouette, of Merrimack, N.H., center right, and Mary Maldonado, of Dracut, Mass., right, join with others as they display placards during a rally by federal employees and supporters, Jan. 17, 2019. VOA

The partial U.S. government shutdown reached day 31 Monday with the Senate’s Republican leader preparing a vote on a proposal that President Donald Trump is calling a compromise and Democratic leaders say is a non-starter.

Trump’s plan would provide three years of protection against deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to the country illegally when they were children, as well extensions of protected status for people who fled their countries due to violence or natural disasters.In return he would get the $5.7 billion in funding he wants for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Democrats object to the border wall as an ineffective and expensive security solution.They want Trump and Republicans to agree to reopen the government first and then discuss other border security initiatives.

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A National Park entrance fee collection service is temporarily suspended at Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park, the lowest point in North America, during the partial U.S. government shutdown, in Death Valley, California, U.S., Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

Senate to vote on Trump proposal 

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he plans to bring Trump’s proposal to a vote in his chamber in the coming days, although he will need some Democratic support to win approval.

In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is planning votes this week on adding more immigration judges and money for scanning vehicles and drugs at the country’s ports of entry. The House has already passed multiple measures that would reopen the government, but McConnell has refused to bring them up in the Senate, saying he will not consider any bill that Trump would not support.

Day 31

While the shutdown continues, about 800,000 government workers are either continuing their jobs without pay, or have been furloughed.

“Nancy Pelosi and some of the Democrats turned down my offer yesterday before I even got up to speak. They don’t see crime & drugs, they only see 2020 – which they are not going to win. Best economy!” Trump said on Twitter, referring to next year’s presidential election. “They should do the right thing for the Country & allow people to go back to work.”

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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

He later called the government employees working without pay “great patriots.”

elosi used her own post Sunday to reiterate to Trump the Democrats’ position.

“800,000 Americans are going without pay. Re-open the government, let workers get their paychecks and then we can discuss how we can come together to protect the border. #EndTheShutdown,” Pelosi said.

Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement there is “simply no reason” for the shutdown to continue while the two sides “are engaged in a complex policy discussion.”

“Protecting Dreamers and TPS recipients is the right thing to do. The President is wrong to hold them hostage over money for a wasteful wall that could be better spent on more effective border security measures. The President’s trade offer — temporary protections for some immigrants in exchange for a border wall boondoggle — is not acceptable,” Lowey said.

Conservatives weigh in 

Conservative critics of Trump’s plan said the protections against deportation amounted to amnesty for lawbreakers.

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During a training drill, a Customs and Border Protection official stops the flow of northbound traffic at entrance to the San Ysidro port of entry, Jan. 10, 2019, seen from Tijuana, Mexico. VOA

But Trump tweeted, “No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer … Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else.Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally-but be careful Nancy!”

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, but major legislation in the chamber almost always requires a 60-vote majority. It is unclear if Trump will be able to convince at least seven Democrats to vote for his proposal.

Even if the Senate approves Trump’s plan, it would face defeat in the House. A Senate victory for Trump, however, could force new negotiations over his border wall plan and over reopening the government, as furloughed federal workers are set to miss their second paycheck next Friday.

State of the Union 

As tensions over the border wall and the government shutdown continued unabated last week, Pelosi demanded Trump postpone his scheduled Jan. 29 State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress until after the government is reopened, submit it in writing to Congress or make the speech at the White House.Trump, in turn, postponed her fact-finding trip with other congressional leaders to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Also Read: Donald Trump Offers ‘Compromise’ to End Government Shutdown in US

Trump had not directly responded to her call to delay the State of the Union speech until after the shutdown ends.

But on Sunday, he said, “Nancy, I am still thinking about the State of the Union speech, there are so many options – including doing it as per your written offer (made during the Shutdown, security is no problem), and my written acceptance. While a contract is a contract, I’ll get back to you soon!” (VOA)

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White House Condemns Any Link of President Donald Trump to Accused New Zealand Shooter

Trump was widely attacked in the aftermath of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 when he equated white supremacists with counter-protesters, saying "both sides" were to blame and that there were "fine people" on both sides of the protest.

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In this Jan. 2, 2019, file photo White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington. VOA

The White House on Sunday rejected any attempt to link President Donald Trump to the white supremacist accused of gunning down 50 people at two New Zealand mosques.

“The president is not a white supremacist,” acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told the “Fox News Sunday” show. “I’m not sure how many times we have to say that. Let’s take what happened in New Zealand [Friday] for what it is: a terrible evil tragic act.”

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The statement renewed criticism that Trump has not voiced strong enough condemnation of white nationalists. VOA

Alleged gunman Brenton Harris Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, said in a 74-page manifesto he released shortly before the massacre unfolded at mosques in Christchurch that he viewed Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose” but did not support his policies.

The statement renewed criticism that Trump has not voiced strong enough condemnation of white nationalists.

Asked Friday after the mosque attacks whether he sees an increase in white nationalism, Trump said, “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess.” He said he had not seen the manifesto.

Mulvaney said, “I don’t think it’s fair to cast this person as a supporter of Donald Trump any more than it is to look at his eco-terrorist passages in that manifesto and align him with [Democratic House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi or Ms. Ocasio-Cortez,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic congresswoman.

“This was a disturbed individual, an evil person,” he said.

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“The president is not a white supremacist,” acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told the “Fox News Sunday” show. “I’m not sure how many times we have to say that. Let’s take what happened in New Zealand [Friday] for what it is: a terrible evil tragic act.” VOA
Scott Brown, the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand, told CNN that he gave no credence to Tarrant’s comments about Trump in the manifesto, saying the accused gunman “is rotten to the core.” Brown said he hopes Tarrant is convicted “as quickly as he can be” and the key to his prison cell thrown away.

Also Read: Did You Know? IOM States Latin America as World’s Deadliest Route for Migrants

Trump was widely attacked in the aftermath of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 when he equated white supremacists with counter-protesters, saying “both sides” were to blame and that there were “fine people” on both sides of the protest.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, one of numerous Democrats seeking the party’s presidential nomination to oppose Trump in the 2020 election, said on Twitter after the New Zealand attack, “Time and time again, this president has embraced and emboldened white supremacists and instead of condemning racist terrorists, he covers for them. This isn’t normal or acceptable.” (VOA)