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Trump Muddles DACA Program in Anti-immigrant Twitter Comments

While President Donald Trump has said illegal immigrants heading toward the United States are trying to take advantage of an Obama-era policy that shields certain people from deportation, the program known as DACA is actually not open to new entrants.

At issue is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which the Republican president last September ordered rescinded. Under DACA, hundreds of thousands of young adults dubbed “Dreamers” who were brought into the United States illegally as children have been shielded from deportation and given work permits.

On Sunday, apparently in reference to a caravan of 1,500 Central Americans who are journeying through Mexico toward the United States, Trump wrote on Twitter: “These big flows of people are all trying to take advantage of DACA. They want in on the act!”

But there is no “act” to get in on. Newly arriving illegal immigrants cannot win protections under DACA, created in 2012 by Trump’s Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, for two reasons.

Anyone admitted into the program had to have been living continuously in the United States since June 15, 2007, along with other requirements. In addition, Trump himself ordered an end to the program, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is not accepting new applicants.

Under Trump’s action, DACA was supposed to have begun winding down last month. But courts have ruled that Trump acted improperly and that the hundreds of thousands of immigrants currently enrolled still qualified for protections while the legal fight over DACA unfolds.

When he announced he was ending DACA, Trump urged Congress to come up with a legislative fix. Referring to the Dreamers, Trump said, “I have a great heart for the folks we’re talking about, a great love for them.”

Seven months later, DACA participants are living with the uncertainty over whether they will be protected or targeted for deportation. 

Meanwhile, following a series of failed negotiations with Democrats and some Republicans in Congress, Trump has been fuming over the refusal of lawmakers to fully fund a $25 billion wall he wants to build on the U.S.-Mexican border. The wall became a bargaining chip in DACA replacement legislation.

“NO MORE DACA DEAL!,” Trump said on Twitter as he blamed Democrats for the situation. “DACA is dead.”

Matthew Wright, a government professor at American University in Washington, called Trump’s tweets “not connected to reality.” Wright noted that Trump rejected several Democratic offers to address DACA, including at one point a deal that would have provided $25 billion for his wall.

Last month, Senator Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said Trump’s rejection of that offer was the “high-water mark” for the wall’s prospects in Congress, where support for it is tepid at best.

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US Gubernatorial Races to Feature Record Number of Women

A record number of women are running for governors’ offices in the U.S. this year.

The Center for American Women and Politics said Monday that 40 Democratic or Republican women have filed candidacy papers in 19 states where the deadline has passed. The number is likely to rise because filing remains open in 17 other states.

The center at Rutgers University in New Jersey says the previous high mark for major party female gubernatorial candidates was 34, set in 1994. This year’s field includes 24 Democrats and 16 Republicans.

At least one woman is running for governor in each state where filing has ended. Colorado and Maine have the most, with five female candidates.

The candidates include three incumbents, 15 challengers and 22 running for open seats in eight states.

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US Gubernatorial Races to Feature Record Number of Women

A record number of women are running for governors’ offices in the U.S. this year.

The Center for American Women and Politics said Monday that 40 Democratic or Republican women have filed candidacy papers in 19 states where the deadline has passed. The number is likely to rise because filing remains open in 17 other states.

The center at Rutgers University in New Jersey says the previous high mark for major party female gubernatorial candidates was 34, set in 1994. This year’s field includes 24 Democrats and 16 Republicans.

At least one woman is running for governor in each state where filing has ended. Colorado and Maine have the most, with five female candidates.

The candidates include three incumbents, 15 challengers and 22 running for open seats in eight states.

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Legal Defense Funds for Undocumented in US Create Another Front in Immigration Conflict

While the U.S. federal government is working to detain and deport undocumented immigrants, some U.S. states and cities have started legal funds to defend them, opening up a new front in the conflict over immigration.

About 13 jurisdictions have joined a network to expand legal representation for immigrants facing detention and deportation — the ultimate line of defense, officials said.

The Safe Cities Network pledges to keep communities “safe and strong by protecting due process and providing legal representation to immigrants facing deportation.”

“We’re not just talking about one person going through. One person going to court. One in detention and going through the deportation process. You’re talking about families, entire families and communities being impacted,” Annie Chen, program director at the New York-based VERA Institute of Justice, a data center that partners with local and state government officials to change the U.S. justice system.

WATCH: Washington, US States at Odds Over Immigration Policy

“I would say with increased immigration enforcement, changes, harsher immigration enforcement policies, I think that city and county officials are more aware of this, and they see the impact in their communities,” Chen said.

The city of Baltimore in Maryland became one of the most recent jurisdictions to establish a legal defense fund in March when the city allocated $100,000 to help immigrants fight deportation.

The money was added to a pool of private money and was matched by funding from VERA.  

Catalina Rodriguez, director of the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs, said following the increase in immigration enforcement that started in February 2017, the city received calls from residents.

“All of these individuals [arrested] were not necessarily criminals. Their ‘crime’ was they were here [in the U.S.] undocumented, and they had already a deportation order. However, they were members of our city, business owners, and contributors. So, there was a lot of panic in our city,” Rodriguez said.

Being in the U.S. unlawfully is a civil violation, not a criminal one. Rodriguez said Baltimore learned from New York, the first U.S. city to have a legal fund pilot program. The Baltimore fund is expected to help about 40 people going through removal proceedings.

Pros and cons

The immigration data tracker TRAC reports that out of 304,642 immigrants detained from 2002 to February 2018, only 62,697 had legal representation. 

According to immigration lawyers and advocates, access to legal representation “greatly” increases an immigrant’s chance of winning his/her case.

“In the criminal justice system, if you can’t afford an attorney, you get a public defender. In immigration court, you don’t. You have the right to pay for your own attorney. And if you can’t afford one, you do not have access to the same due process,” Chen told VOA.

Not everyone agrees with public money going into a legal defense fund.

Through a spokesman, Maryland’s Republican party chairman Dirk Haire told The Baltimore Sun that Maryland Republicans “questioned whether the money is being wisely spent, given funding shortfall issues in Baltimore, such as public schools without heat.”

“My hunch is that the vast majority of Baltimore residents would prefer to have that money spent on heat and air conditioning in Baltimore public schools instead of legal fees,” Haire said.

Baltimore city councilman Zeke Cohen told the Sun that in Southeast Baltimore, the area he represents, a small-business owner, a popular barber and a father dropping off a child at school were among the arrests.

“First, we lost a barber, then a small-business owner. Finally, a father was handcuffed and detained after dropping off his 9-year-old at school. The child’s mother is back in Honduras. What kind of a country do we live in that would orphan a child in order to enforce its broken immigration laws?” Cohen said.

Data from the New American Economy, a coalition of business leaders and mayors working toward immigration reform, shows that in the Baltimore metro area, there are 281,109 immigrant residents, or 10 percent of the population. In 2014, immigrants paid about $3.4 billion in taxes and had a spending power of $7.7 billion in the same region.

Feds vs. states

The legal fund network places some local jurisdictions at still greater odds with the federal government.

Governor Jerry Brown said in early March that the federal government was “basically going to war against the state of California” after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sued California over its so-called sanctuary state law.

On Saturday, President Donald Trump fired back via Twitter.

California is not the only state considered sanctuary, along with its numerous cities and counties. While the term “sanctuary” does not have a legal established meaning, it is generally applied to jurisdictions that choose not to participate with federal immigration agents.

“What happens is, if you don’t have someone complying with this and working with us, a criminal alien will be released from prison,” Tyler Q. Houlton, U.S. Department of Homeland Security press secretary, told reporters during an off-camera, on-the-record conversation.

Houlton said though cooperation is not a “mandatory thing,” immigration officers try to work with law enforcement to get undocumented immigrants off the street. He added that it is “much safer to pick up criminal aliens at the jail than it is on the streets.”

Many states and local jurisdictions support the federal government’s approach to immigration. Last week, the Orange County Board of Supervisors joined the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) lawsuit that condemns California’s sanctuary law, calling it unconstitutional. 

Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement that DOJ “welcomes” Orange County’s decision.

“Orange County’s residents have experienced firsthand the negative effects of SB 54 [California’s sanctuary law], which mandates releasing criminal aliens back into their communities instead of into the custody of federal immigration authorities,” O’Malley said.

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Trumps to Host Annual Easter Egg Roll

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump host the annual Easter Egg Roll Monday on the South Lawn of the White House. 

People attending the event won their tickets through a public lottery held in February. 

The White House says the day will be “filled with family activities.” 

As part of the festivities, children and families usually push wooden eggs across the White house lawn using oversized spoons. Military bands and games are also part of the customary trappings of the event.

The White House Easter Egg Roll has a long tradition, dating back to 1878 when President Rutherford B. Hayes hosted the first one. 

There were no egg rolls between 1917 to 1920 because of World War One. Similarly, during World War Two, no egg rolls were held from 1943 to 1945. 

Food conservation efforts and then construction on the White House also brought a halt to the celebrations from 1946 to 1952. 

However, President Dwight Eisenhower reinstated the White House Easter Egg Roll in 1953. 

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Trumps to Host Annual Easter Egg Roll

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump host the annual Easter Egg Roll Monday on the South Lawn of the White House. 

People attending the event won their tickets through a public lottery held in February. 

The White House says the day will be “filled with family activities.” 

As part of the festivities, children and families usually push wooden eggs across the White house lawn using oversized spoons. Military bands and games are also part of the customary trappings of the event.

The White House Easter Egg Roll has a long tradition, dating back to 1878 when President Rutherford B. Hayes hosted the first one. 

There were no egg rolls between 1917 to 1920 because of World War One. Similarly, during World War Two, no egg rolls were held from 1943 to 1945. 

Food conservation efforts and then construction on the White House also brought a halt to the celebrations from 1946 to 1952. 

However, President Dwight Eisenhower reinstated the White House Easter Egg Roll in 1953. 

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Trump Nixes DACA Deal, Citing ‘Caravans’ of Illegal Immigrants

U.S. President Donald Trump called for tougher immigration laws Sunday, vowing that there would be no deal for DACA recipients.

“Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release,” Trump wrote on Twitter Sunday morning.

“Getting more dangerous. “Caravans” coming. Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!”

“These big flows of people are all trying to take advantage of DACA. They want in on the act!” he said in a follow-up tweet.

Commentary on the Fox news channel earlier Sunday had used a headline referring to “caravans” of illegal immigrants to the U.S.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was enacted under the Obama administration and had allowed children brought illegally to the United States to remain here and legally study and work.

The Trump administration ended the program in September, but gave Congress six months to come up with a permanent plan for the program recipients.

Despite Democrats’ efforts, the recent spending $1.3 trillion spending bill, signed by Trump last week, made no mention of protections for these so-called Dreamers. Democrats had called on Republican leaders to bring to a vote on the House floor a range of proposals to fix DACA. Meanwhile, federal judges have ordered the Trump administration to keep in place certain parts of DACA while legal challenges make their way through the court system.

Trump had initially said that he would agree on protections for DACA recipients if Congress approved funding for a proposed wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico.

In another tweet Sunday morning, Trump blamed Mexico for “doing very little, if not NOTHING” to stop the flow of migrants into the United States, threatening to “stop” the North American Free Trade Agreement.

 

Officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico are supposed to meet in the United States next month for the eighth round of talks about NAFTA, although Washington has not announced dates yet.

 

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Trump Nixes DACA Deal, Citing ‘Caravans’ of Illegal Immigrants

U.S. President Donald Trump called for tougher immigration laws Sunday, vowing that there would be no deal for DACA recipients.

“Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release,” Trump wrote on Twitter Sunday morning.

“Getting more dangerous. “Caravans” coming. Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!”

“These big flows of people are all trying to take advantage of DACA. They want in on the act!” he said in a follow-up tweet.

Commentary on the Fox news channel earlier Sunday had used a headline referring to “caravans” of illegal immigrants to the U.S.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was enacted under the Obama administration and had allowed children brought illegally to the United States to remain here and legally study and work.

The Trump administration ended the program in September, but gave Congress six months to come up with a permanent plan for the program recipients.

Despite Democrats’ efforts, the recent spending $1.3 trillion spending bill, signed by Trump last week, made no mention of protections for these so-called Dreamers. Democrats had called on Republican leaders to bring to a vote on the House floor a range of proposals to fix DACA. Meanwhile, federal judges have ordered the Trump administration to keep in place certain parts of DACA while legal challenges make their way through the court system.

Trump had initially said that he would agree on protections for DACA recipients if Congress approved funding for a proposed wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico.

In another tweet Sunday morning, Trump blamed Mexico for “doing very little, if not NOTHING” to stop the flow of migrants into the United States, threatening to “stop” the North American Free Trade Agreement.

 

Officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico are supposed to meet in the United States next month for the eighth round of talks about NAFTA, although Washington has not announced dates yet.

 

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AP Fact Check: No New Work on the Wall; Shaky Amazon Claim

President Donald Trump hailed the start of his long-sought U.S.-Mexico border wall this past week, proudly tweeting photos of the “WALL!” 

Actually, no new work got underway. The photos showed the continuation of an old project to replace 2 miles of existing barrier.

And Saturday, he ripped Amazon with a shaky claim that its contract with the post office is a “scam.”

Trump and his officials departed from reality on a variety of subjects in recent days: the census, Amazon’s practices and the makeup of the Supreme Court among them. Here’s a look at some statements and their veracity:

TRUMP: “Great briefing this afternoon on the start of our Southern Border WALL!” — tweet Wednesday, showing photos of workers building a fence.

TRUMP: “We’re going to be starting work, literally, on Monday, on not only some new wall — not enough, but we’re working that very quickly — but also fixing existing walls and existing acceptable fences.” — Trump, speaking the previous week after signing a bill financing the government.

THE FACTS: Trump’s wrong. No new work began Monday or any other time this past week. And the photos Trump tweeted were misleading. They showed work that’s been going on for more than a month on a small border wall replacement project in Calexico, California, that has nothing to do with the federal budget he signed into law last week.

The Calexico project began Feb. 21 to replace a little more than 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) of border wall was financed during the 2017 budget year. A barrier built in the 1990s mainly from recycled metal scraps is being torn down and replaced with bollard-style barriers that are 30 feet (9.1 meters) high.

Ronald D. Vitiello, acting deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, defended the president’s statements, saying Friday “there’s construction” underway.

U.S. Post Service

TRUMP: “If the P.O. ‘increased its parcel rates, Amazon’s shipping costs would rise by $2.6 Billion.’ This Post Office scam must stop. Amazon must pay real costs (and taxes) now!” — tweet Saturday.

TRUMP: “I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!” — tweet Thursday.

THE FACTS: Trump is misrepresenting Amazon’s record on taxes, the U.S. Postal Service’s financial situation and the contract that has the post office deliver some Amazon orders. Federal regulators have found that contract to be profitable for the Postal Service.

People who buy products sold by Amazon pay sales tax in all states that have a sales tax. Not all third-party vendors using Amazon collect it, however.

As for the post office, package delivery has been a bright spot for a service that’s lost money for 11 straight years. The losses are mostly because of pension and health care costs, not the business deal for the Postal Service to deliver packages for Amazon. 

Boosted by e-commerce, the Postal Service has enjoyed double-digit increases in revenue from delivering packages, but that hasn’t been enough to offset declines in first-class letters and marketing mail, which together make up more than two-thirds of postal revenue.

While the Postal Service’s losses can’t be attributed to its package business, Trump’s claim that it could get more bang for its buck may not be entirely far-fetched. A 2017 analysis by Citigroup concluded that the Postal Service was charging below-market rates as a whole for parcels. The post office does not use taxpayer money for its operations.

Trump is upset about Amazon because its owner, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post, one of the targets of his “fake news” tweets.

Pentagon and the wall

TRUMP: “Because of the $700 & $716 Billion Dollars gotten to rebuild our Military, many jobs are created and our Military is again rich. Building a great Border Wall, with drugs (poison) and enemy combatants pouring into our Country, is all about National Defense. Build WALL through M!” — tweets Sunday and Monday.

THE FACTS: Trump is floating the idea of using “M” — the Pentagon’s military budget — to pay for his wall with Mexico. Such a move would almost certainly require approval from Congress and there’s plenty of reason to be skeptical about the notion of diverting military money for this purpose.

Only Congress has the power under the Constitution to determine federal appropriations, leaving the Trump administration little authority to shift money without lawmakers’ approval.

Pentagon spokesman Chris Sherwood referred all questions on the wall to the White House. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to reveal specifics, but said Trump would work with the White House counsel to make sure any action taken was within his executive authority.

Veterans Affairs

DAVID SHULKIN, citing reasons Trump fired him as Veterans Affairs secretary: “I have been falsely accused of things by people who wanted me out of the way. But despite these politically based attacks on me and my family’s character, I am proud of my record and know that I acted with the utmost integrity.” — op-ed Thursday in The New York Times.

THE FACTS: His statement that he and his family were subjected to politically based attacks is disingenuous, though politics contributed to his dismissal.

White House support for Shulkin eroded after a blistering report in February by VA’s internal watchdog, a nonpartisan office. The inspector general’s office concluded that he had violated ethics rules by accepting free Wimbledon tennis tickets. The inspector general also said Shulkin’s chief of staff had doctored emails to justify bringing the secretary’s wife to Europe with him at taxpayer expense.

It is true that Shulkin encountered resistance from about a half-dozen political appointees at the VA and White House who rebelled against him. In an extraordinary telephone call, John Ullyot, a top communications aide, and VA spokesman Curt Cashour asked the Republican staff director of the House Veterans Affairs Committee to push for Shulkin’s removal after the release of the inspector general’s report. The staff director declined to do so. Those political appointees were not involved in drafting the inspector general’s report.

Shulkin expressed regret for the “distractions” caused by the report and agreed to pay more than $4,000 to cover the costs of his wife’s coach airfare and the Wimbledon tickets. He continues to insist he did nothing wrong and point to what his staff did in doctoring his emails as a “mistake.”

Second Amendment

TRUMP: “THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL NEVER BE REPEALED! As much as Democrats would like to see this happen, and despite the words yesterday of former Supreme Court Justice Stevens, NO WAY. We need more Republicans in 2018 and must ALWAYS hold the Supreme Court!” — tweet Wednesday.

THE FACTS: As a basics civics lesson, Trump’s tweet falls short. The Supreme Court is the unelected branch of government and no party can “hold” it. That said, both parties try to win confirmation of justices who are considered likely to vote the way they want.

Republican-nominated justices have formed a majority of the Supreme Court for nearly 50 years. The five more conservative justices were appointed by Republicans while the four more liberal justices were Democratic nominees.

Republicans would have the opportunity to cement ideological balance in their favor if Justice Anthony Kennedy, the most moderate of the conservatives, or one of the older and more liberal justices were to retire with Trump in office and Republicans in control of the Senate.

Trump was citing retired Justice John Paul Stevens, who called in a New York Times article for repeal of the Second Amendment to allow for gun control legislation. Democratic leaders are not proposing repeal of the amendment, as Trump implies. Also noteworthy: Stevens was nominated by a Republican president, Gerald Ford.

Census and citizenship

WHITE HOUSE SPOKESWOMAN SARAH SANDERS, on the Trump administration’s decision to ask people about their citizenship in the 2020 census: “This is a question that’s been included in every census since 1965 with the exception of 2010, when it was removed. … And again, this is something that has been part of the census for decades and something that the Department of Commerce felt strongly needed to be included again.” — press briefing Tuesday.

COMMERCE DEPARTMENT: “Between 1820 and 1950, almost every decennial census asked a question on citizenship in some form.” — statement on Monday.

THE FACTS: Sanders is incorrect. The Commerce Department statement is also problematic. Both are trying to play down the risk of a severe undercount of the population if many immigrants, intimidated by the citizenship question, refuse to participate.

The Census Bureau hasn’t included a citizenship question in its once-a-decade survey sent to all U.S. households since 1950, before the Civil Rights era and passage of a 1965 law designed to help ensure minority groups in the count are fully represented.

The nation’s count is based on the total resident population, both citizens and noncitizens, and used to determine how many U.S. representatives each state gets in the U.S. House.

The citizenship question was not in the 1960 census, according to a copy of the form posted on the Census Bureau website, and no census was held in 1965.

From 1970 to 2000, the question was included only in the long-form section of the census survey, sent to a portion of U.S. households. After 2000, the question has been asked on the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, a separate poll designed to replace the census long form and sent only to a sample of U.S. households.

The Commerce Department’s assertion that the citizenship question was asked on “almost” every decennial census between 1820 and 1950 also pushes the limits of reality. According to the Census Bureau, the question wasn’t asked in four of those censuses —1840, 1850, 1860 or 1880.

Between 1820 and 1950, a total of 14 censuses were held. That means more than 1 in 4 surveys during that time period lacked the citizenship question.

Not exactly “almost.”

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AP Fact Check: No New Work on the Wall; Shaky Amazon Claim

President Donald Trump hailed the start of his long-sought U.S.-Mexico border wall this past week, proudly tweeting photos of the “WALL!” 

Actually, no new work got underway. The photos showed the continuation of an old project to replace 2 miles of existing barrier.

And Saturday, he ripped Amazon with a shaky claim that its contract with the post office is a “scam.”

Trump and his officials departed from reality on a variety of subjects in recent days: the census, Amazon’s practices and the makeup of the Supreme Court among them. Here’s a look at some statements and their veracity:

TRUMP: “Great briefing this afternoon on the start of our Southern Border WALL!” — tweet Wednesday, showing photos of workers building a fence.

TRUMP: “We’re going to be starting work, literally, on Monday, on not only some new wall — not enough, but we’re working that very quickly — but also fixing existing walls and existing acceptable fences.” — Trump, speaking the previous week after signing a bill financing the government.

THE FACTS: Trump’s wrong. No new work began Monday or any other time this past week. And the photos Trump tweeted were misleading. They showed work that’s been going on for more than a month on a small border wall replacement project in Calexico, California, that has nothing to do with the federal budget he signed into law last week.

The Calexico project began Feb. 21 to replace a little more than 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) of border wall was financed during the 2017 budget year. A barrier built in the 1990s mainly from recycled metal scraps is being torn down and replaced with bollard-style barriers that are 30 feet (9.1 meters) high.

Ronald D. Vitiello, acting deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, defended the president’s statements, saying Friday “there’s construction” underway.

U.S. Post Service

TRUMP: “If the P.O. ‘increased its parcel rates, Amazon’s shipping costs would rise by $2.6 Billion.’ This Post Office scam must stop. Amazon must pay real costs (and taxes) now!” — tweet Saturday.

TRUMP: “I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!” — tweet Thursday.

THE FACTS: Trump is misrepresenting Amazon’s record on taxes, the U.S. Postal Service’s financial situation and the contract that has the post office deliver some Amazon orders. Federal regulators have found that contract to be profitable for the Postal Service.

People who buy products sold by Amazon pay sales tax in all states that have a sales tax. Not all third-party vendors using Amazon collect it, however.

As for the post office, package delivery has been a bright spot for a service that’s lost money for 11 straight years. The losses are mostly because of pension and health care costs, not the business deal for the Postal Service to deliver packages for Amazon. 

Boosted by e-commerce, the Postal Service has enjoyed double-digit increases in revenue from delivering packages, but that hasn’t been enough to offset declines in first-class letters and marketing mail, which together make up more than two-thirds of postal revenue.

While the Postal Service’s losses can’t be attributed to its package business, Trump’s claim that it could get more bang for its buck may not be entirely far-fetched. A 2017 analysis by Citigroup concluded that the Postal Service was charging below-market rates as a whole for parcels. The post office does not use taxpayer money for its operations.

Trump is upset about Amazon because its owner, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post, one of the targets of his “fake news” tweets.

Pentagon and the wall

TRUMP: “Because of the $700 & $716 Billion Dollars gotten to rebuild our Military, many jobs are created and our Military is again rich. Building a great Border Wall, with drugs (poison) and enemy combatants pouring into our Country, is all about National Defense. Build WALL through M!” — tweets Sunday and Monday.

THE FACTS: Trump is floating the idea of using “M” — the Pentagon’s military budget — to pay for his wall with Mexico. Such a move would almost certainly require approval from Congress and there’s plenty of reason to be skeptical about the notion of diverting military money for this purpose.

Only Congress has the power under the Constitution to determine federal appropriations, leaving the Trump administration little authority to shift money without lawmakers’ approval.

Pentagon spokesman Chris Sherwood referred all questions on the wall to the White House. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to reveal specifics, but said Trump would work with the White House counsel to make sure any action taken was within his executive authority.

Veterans Affairs

DAVID SHULKIN, citing reasons Trump fired him as Veterans Affairs secretary: “I have been falsely accused of things by people who wanted me out of the way. But despite these politically based attacks on me and my family’s character, I am proud of my record and know that I acted with the utmost integrity.” — op-ed Thursday in The New York Times.

THE FACTS: His statement that he and his family were subjected to politically based attacks is disingenuous, though politics contributed to his dismissal.

White House support for Shulkin eroded after a blistering report in February by VA’s internal watchdog, a nonpartisan office. The inspector general’s office concluded that he had violated ethics rules by accepting free Wimbledon tennis tickets. The inspector general also said Shulkin’s chief of staff had doctored emails to justify bringing the secretary’s wife to Europe with him at taxpayer expense.

It is true that Shulkin encountered resistance from about a half-dozen political appointees at the VA and White House who rebelled against him. In an extraordinary telephone call, John Ullyot, a top communications aide, and VA spokesman Curt Cashour asked the Republican staff director of the House Veterans Affairs Committee to push for Shulkin’s removal after the release of the inspector general’s report. The staff director declined to do so. Those political appointees were not involved in drafting the inspector general’s report.

Shulkin expressed regret for the “distractions” caused by the report and agreed to pay more than $4,000 to cover the costs of his wife’s coach airfare and the Wimbledon tickets. He continues to insist he did nothing wrong and point to what his staff did in doctoring his emails as a “mistake.”

Second Amendment

TRUMP: “THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL NEVER BE REPEALED! As much as Democrats would like to see this happen, and despite the words yesterday of former Supreme Court Justice Stevens, NO WAY. We need more Republicans in 2018 and must ALWAYS hold the Supreme Court!” — tweet Wednesday.

THE FACTS: As a basics civics lesson, Trump’s tweet falls short. The Supreme Court is the unelected branch of government and no party can “hold” it. That said, both parties try to win confirmation of justices who are considered likely to vote the way they want.

Republican-nominated justices have formed a majority of the Supreme Court for nearly 50 years. The five more conservative justices were appointed by Republicans while the four more liberal justices were Democratic nominees.

Republicans would have the opportunity to cement ideological balance in their favor if Justice Anthony Kennedy, the most moderate of the conservatives, or one of the older and more liberal justices were to retire with Trump in office and Republicans in control of the Senate.

Trump was citing retired Justice John Paul Stevens, who called in a New York Times article for repeal of the Second Amendment to allow for gun control legislation. Democratic leaders are not proposing repeal of the amendment, as Trump implies. Also noteworthy: Stevens was nominated by a Republican president, Gerald Ford.

Census and citizenship

WHITE HOUSE SPOKESWOMAN SARAH SANDERS, on the Trump administration’s decision to ask people about their citizenship in the 2020 census: “This is a question that’s been included in every census since 1965 with the exception of 2010, when it was removed. … And again, this is something that has been part of the census for decades and something that the Department of Commerce felt strongly needed to be included again.” — press briefing Tuesday.

COMMERCE DEPARTMENT: “Between 1820 and 1950, almost every decennial census asked a question on citizenship in some form.” — statement on Monday.

THE FACTS: Sanders is incorrect. The Commerce Department statement is also problematic. Both are trying to play down the risk of a severe undercount of the population if many immigrants, intimidated by the citizenship question, refuse to participate.

The Census Bureau hasn’t included a citizenship question in its once-a-decade survey sent to all U.S. households since 1950, before the Civil Rights era and passage of a 1965 law designed to help ensure minority groups in the count are fully represented.

The nation’s count is based on the total resident population, both citizens and noncitizens, and used to determine how many U.S. representatives each state gets in the U.S. House.

The citizenship question was not in the 1960 census, according to a copy of the form posted on the Census Bureau website, and no census was held in 1965.

From 1970 to 2000, the question was included only in the long-form section of the census survey, sent to a portion of U.S. households. After 2000, the question has been asked on the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, a separate poll designed to replace the census long form and sent only to a sample of U.S. households.

The Commerce Department’s assertion that the citizenship question was asked on “almost” every decennial census between 1820 and 1950 also pushes the limits of reality. According to the Census Bureau, the question wasn’t asked in four of those censuses —1840, 1850, 1860 or 1880.

Between 1820 and 1950, a total of 14 censuses were held. That means more than 1 in 4 surveys during that time period lacked the citizenship question.

Not exactly “almost.”

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