#AceNewsReport – May.03: In February, President Biden signed an Executive Order establishing the Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families (Task Force) to identify parents and children separated by the prior administration. The order directed the Task Force to implement comprehensive strategies that will bring families back together and ensure the families are provided support.
Biden Administration Begins This Week to Reunite Families Separated Under the Prior Administration: “The Family Reunification Task Force has been working day and night, across the federal government and with counsel for the families and our foreign partners, to address the prior administration’s cruel separation of children from their parents,” said Secretary Mayorkas, who serves as the Chair of the Task Force. “Today is just the beginning. We are reuniting the first group of families, many more will follow, and we recognize the importance of providing these families with the stability and resources they need to heal.”
The Task Force has been working tirelessly to establish a complete database of separated families, correct inaccuracies in the files they were provided, and build the processes to find every family and give them the opportunity to reunite and heal. The Task Force is in the process of reviewing additional cases for reunification in the coming months. The Task Force’s initial report is due on June 2, 2021, and will provide a full update on the Task Force’s progress.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leads the President’s Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families and is joined by the Department of State, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Justice. Michelle Brané serves as the Task Force’s Executive Director. While the Task Force is leveraging existing authorities, the reunification effort is novel work that has required significant interagency coordination:
DHS has established a process for accepting parole requests and stands ready to process and receive families as they request to enter the U.S.
The Department of Health and Human Services is working on facilitating services to support harmed families.
The Department of State has developed a streamlined system for processing in-country requests for travel documents to enter the U.S.
The Department of Justice supports the Task Force in related settlement negotiation efforts.
While coordinating all these efforts, the Task Force is also exploring options for long term legal stability for reunified families and identifying and recommending policies to avoid repeating these unnecessary and cruel separations in the future. The Task Force has made critical progress in a short period of time, resulting in reunifications starting this week and many more in the weeks ahead.
#AceNewsReport – May.03: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita during a Friday phone call that the Biden administration would not, “for the time being,” reverse his predecessor’s pro-Israeli move in the waning days of his presidency, US-based Axios news website reported, citing “two sources familiar with the call.”
Biden to uphold Western Sahara recognition for sake of Israel: ‘The recognition came as part of a deal with the despotic North African country to normalize relations with the Israeli regime’
Saturday, 01 May 2021 10:05 AM [ Last Update: Saturday, 01 May 2021 11:08 AM ]
“The secretary welcomed Morocco’s steps to improve relations with Israel and noted the Morocco-Israel relationship will bring long-term benefits for both countries,” according to a readout of the call released by the State Department.
Responding to inquires about the issue during a Friday press briefing, State Department deputy spokesperson Jaline Porter tried to dodge the issue.
“When it comes to Western Sahara, we are consulting privately with parties on how to best halt the violence there… We would also talk about having the goal to achieve a lasting settlement,” she said.
Trump’s recognition of Western Sahara as part of Morocco reversed decades of Washington’s policy regarding the disputed territory. It was part of a wider agreement with Rabat’s ruler that included the renewal of diplomatic ties between the Israeli and the Moroccan regimes that triggered massive protests in Palestine and Morocco.Moroccans protest normalization deal with Israel, voice solidarity…
The US thus became the only Western country to recognize Morocco’s alleged sovereignty over Western Sahara, which was annexed by the Rabat regime in 1975 after the former colonial government of Spain surrendered control.
The report further revealed that 10 days ago Biden’s Middle East advisor Brett McGurk “spoke to Bourita and gave the impression that there would be no change in the US policy on Western Sahara.”
It report said both Morocco and Israel had become concerned that the Biden administration may reverse Trump’s contentious decision, solely intended to press more Arab dictatorships to recognize Israel.
Last December, Morocco became the fourth US-backed Arab kingdom to strike a deal aimed at establishing ties with Israel. The others were the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.
The move sparked protests across the North African country, opposing the deal and expressing solidarity with the Palestinian cause while condemning the Israeli regime’s persisting atrocities against Palestine’s native population.
Trump’s controversial decision, which contradicts UN resolutions on the issue, has been challenged by US lawmakers.
In February, half the US Senate signed a bipartisan letter led by Republican Jim Inhofe and senior Democrat Patrick Leahy calling on Biden to reverse Trump’s “illegitimate” decision.
“The abrupt decision by the previous administration on December 11, 2020, to officially recognize the Kingdom of Morocco’s illegitimate claims of sovereignty over Western Sahara was short-sighted, undermined decades of consistent US policy, and alienated a significant number of African nations,” the senators wrote.
“The Sahrawi people deserve the right to freely choose their own destiny. We hope that we can count on you to be a partner in this effort,” they added.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.29: No president has ever said those words from this podium, and it’s about time.
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by President Biden — Address to a Joint Session of Congress
April 28, 2021:
Madame Vice President.
The First Lady.
The Second Gentleman.
Mr. Chief Justice.
Members of the United States Congress and the Cabinet – and distinguished guests.
My fellow Americans.
While the setting tonight is familiar, this gathering is very different – a reminder of the extraordinary times we are in.
Throughout our history, Presidents have come to this chamber to speak to the Congress, to the nation, and to the world.
To declare war. To celebrate peace. To announce new plans and possibilities.
Tonight, I come to talk about crisis — and opportunity.
About rebuilding our nation — and revitalizing our democracy.
And winning the future for America.
As I stand here tonight — just one day shy of the 100th day of my administration.
100 days since I took the oath of office, lifted my hand off our family Bible, and inherited a nation in crisis.
The worst pandemic in a century.
The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.
Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again.
Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength.
Life can knock us down.
But in America, we never stay down.
In America, we always get up.
And today, that’s what we’re doing: America is rising anew.
Choosing hope over fear. Truth over lies. Light over darkness.
After 100 Days of rescue and renewal, America is ready for takeoff.
We are working again. Dreaming again. Discovering again. Leading the world again.
We have shown each other and the world: There is no quit in America.
100 days ago, America’s house was on fire.
We had to act.
And thanks to the extraordinary leadership of Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer – and with the overwhelming support of the American people – Democrats, Independents, and Republicans – we did act.
Together — we passed the American Rescue Plan.
One of the most consequential rescue packages in American history.
We’re already seeing the results.
After I promised 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots in 100 days – we will have provided over 220 million COVID shots in 100 days.
We’re marshalling every federal resource. We’ve gotten the vaccine to nearly 40,000 pharmacies and over 700 community health centers.
We’re setting up community vaccination sites, and are deploying mobile units into hard-to-reach areas.
Today, 90% of Americans now live within 5 miles of a vaccination site.
Everyone over the age of 16, everyone – is now eligible and can get vaccinated right away.
So get vaccinated now.
When I was sworn in, less than 1% of seniors were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
100 days later, nearly 70% of seniors are fully protected.
Senior deaths from COVID-19 are down 80% since January. Down 80%.
And, more than half of all adults in America have gotten at least one shot.
At a mass vaccination center in Glendale, Arizona, I asked a nurse what it’s like.
She looked and said every shot feels like a dose of hope.
A dose of hope for the educator in Florida who has a child who suffers from an auto-immune disease.
She wrote to me that she was worried about bringing the virus home.
When she got vaccinated, she sat in her car and just cried.
Cried out of joy, cried out of relief.
Parents are seeing smiles on their kids’ faces as they go back to school because teachers and school bus drivers, cafeteria workers have been vaccinated.
Grandparents hugging their children and grandchildren instead of pressing their hands against a window to say goodbye
It means everything to both of them.
There’s still more work to do to beat this virus. We can’t let our guard down now.
But tonight, I can say because of you — the American people – our progress these past 100 days against one of the worst pandemics in history is one of the greatest logistical achievements our country has ever seen.
What else have we done these first 100 days?
We kept our commitment and we are sending $1,400 rescue checks to 85% of all American households.
We’ve already sent more than 160 million checks out the door.
It’s making a difference.
For many people, it’s making all the difference in the world.
A single mom in Texas wrote to me.
She said when she couldn’t work, this relief check put food on the table
and saved her and her son from eviction.
A grandmother in Virginia told me she immediately took her granddaughter to the eye doctor — something she put off for months because she didn’t have the money.
One of the defining images of this crisis has been cars lined up for miles waiting for a box of food to be put in the trunk.
Did you ever think you’d see that in America?
That’s why the American Rescue Plan is delivering food and nutrition assistance to millions of Americans facing hunger – and hunger is down sharply already.
We’re also providing:
Rental assistance to keep people from being evicted from their homes. Providing loans to keep small businesses open and their employees on the job.
During these 100 days, an additional 800,000 Americans enrolled in the Affordable Care Act because I established a special sign up period to do that.
We’re making one of the largest one-time investments ever in improving health care for veterans.
Critical investments to address the opioid crisis.
And, maybe most importantly, thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we are on track to cut child poverty in America in half this year.
In the process, the economy created more than 1.3 million new jobs in 100 days.
More new jobs in the first 100 days than any president on record.
The International Monetary Fund is now estimating our economy will grow at a rate of more than 6% this year.
That will be the fastest pace of economic growth in this country in nearly four decades.
America is moving. Moving forward. And we can’t stop now.
We’re in a competition with China and other countries to win the 21st Century.
We have to do more than just build back. We have to build back better.
Throughout our history, public investments and infrastructure have transformed America.
The transcontinental railroad and interstate highways united two oceans and brought us into a totally new age of progress.
Universal public school and college aid opened wide the doors of opportunity.
Scientific breakthroughs took us to the Moon and now to Mars, discovered vaccines, and gave us the Internet and so much more.
These are the investments we make together, as one country, and that only government can make.
Time and again, they propel us into the future.
That’s why I proposed The American Jobs Plan — a once-in-a-generation investment in America itself.
The largest jobs plan since World War II.
It creates jobs to upgrade our transportation infrastructure. Jobs modernizing roads, bridges and highways. Jobs building ports and airports, rail corridors and transit lines. It’s clean water.
Today, up to 10 million homes and more than 400,000 schools and child care centers have pipes with lead in them, including for drinking water.
A clear and present danger to our children’s health.
The American Jobs Plan creates jobs replacing 100% of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines so every American, so every child – can turn on the faucet and be certain to drink clean water.
It creates jobs connecting every American with high-speed internet, including 35% of rural Americans who still don’t have it.
This will help our kids and businesses succeed in a 21st Century economy.
And I am asking the Vice President to help lead this effort.
It creates jobs by building a modern power grid.
Our grids are vulnerable to storms, hacks, and catastrophic failures – with tragic results as we saw in Texas and elsewhere during winter storms.
The American Jobs Plan will create jobs to lay thousands of miles of transmission lines needed to build a resilient and fully clean grid.
The American Jobs Plan will help millions of people get back to their jobs and their careers.
2 million women have dropped out of the workforce during this pandemic, too often because they couldn’t get the care they need for their family, their children.
800,000 families are on a Medicaid waiting list right now to get homecare for their aging parent or loved one with a disability.
This plan will help these families and create jobs for our caregivers with better wages and better benefits.
For too long, we have failed to use the most important word when it comes to meeting the climate crisis.
For me, when I think about climate change, I think jobs.
The American Jobs Plan will put engineers and construction workers to work building more energy efficient buildings and homes.
Electrical workers installing 500,000 charging stations along our highways.
Farmers planting cover crops, so they can reduce carbon dioxide in the air and get paid for doing it.
There’s no reason the blades for wind turbines can’t be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing.
No reason why American workers can’t lead the world in the production of electric vehicles and batteries.
The American Jobs Plan will create millions of good paying jobs – jobs Americans can raise their families on.
And all the investments in the American Jobs Plan will be guided by one principle: “Buy American.”
American tax dollars are going to be used to buy American products made in America that create American jobs.
The way it should be.
Now – I know some of you at home are wondering whether these jobs are for you.
You feel left behind and forgotten in an economy that’s rapidly changing.
Let me speak directly to you.
Independent experts estimate the American Jobs Plan will add millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in economic growth for years to come.
These are good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced.
Nearly 90% of the infrastructure jobs created in the American Jobs Plan do not require a college degree.
75% do not require an associate’s degree.
The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America.
And, it recognizes something I’ve always said.
Wall Street didn’t build this country. The middle class built this country. And unions build the middle class.
And that’s why I’m calling on Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act – the PRO Act — and send it to my desk to support the right to unionize.
By the way – let’s also pass the $15 minimum wage.
No one should work 40 hours a week and still live below the poverty line.
And we need to ensure greater equity and opportunity for women.
Let’s get the Paycheck Fairness Act to my desk for equal pay.
It’s long past time.
Finally, the American Jobs Plan will be the biggest increase in non-defense research and development on record.
We will see more technological change in the next 10 years – than we saw in the last 50 years.
And we’re falling behind in that competition.
Decades ago we used to invest 2% of our GDP on research and development.
Today, we spend less than 1%.
China and other countries are closing in fast.
We have to develop and dominate the products and technologies of the future: advanced batteries, biotechnology, computer chips, and clean energy.
The Defense Department has an agency called DARPA – the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – that’s there to develop breakthroughs to enhance our national security – which led to the internet and GPS and so much more.
The National Institutes of Health, the NIH – should create a similar Advanced Research Projects Agency for health.
To develop breakthroughs – to prevent, detect, and treat diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer.
This is personal to so many of us.
I can think of no more worthy investment. And I know of nothing that is more bipartisan.
Let’s end cancer as we know it. It’s within our power
Investments in jobs and infrastructure like the ones we’re talking about have often had bipartisan support.
Vice President Harris and I meet regularly in the Oval Office with Democrats and Republicans to discuss the American Jobs Plan.
And I applaud a group of Republican Senators who just put forward their proposal.
So, let’s get to work.
We welcome ideas.
But, the rest of the world isn’t waiting for us. Doing nothing is not an option.
We can’t be so busy competing with each other that we forget the competition is with the rest of the world to win the 21st Century.
To win that competition for the future, we also need to make a once-in-a-generation investment in our families – in our children.
That’s why I’m introducing the American Families Plan tonight, which addresses four of the biggest challenges facing American families today.
First, access to a good education.
When this nation made 12 years of public education universal in the last century, it made us the best-educated and best-prepared nation in the world.
But the world is catching up. They are not waiting.
12 years is no longer enough today to compete in the 21st Century.
That’s why the American Families Plan guarantees four additional years of public education for every person in America – starting as early as we can.
We add two years of universal high-quality pre-school for every 3- and 4- year-old in America.
The research shows that when a young child goes to school—not day care—they are far more likely to graduate from high school and go on to college.
And then we add two years of free community college.
And we will increase Pell Grants and investment in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal colleges, and minority-serving institutions.
Jill is a community college professor who teaches today as First Lady.
She has long said any country that out-educates us is going to outcompete us – and she’ll be leading this effort.
Second, the American Families plan will provide access to quality, affordable child care.
We guarantee that low- to middle-income families will pay no more than 7% of their income for high-quality care for children up to the age of 5.
The most hard-pressed working families won’t have to spend a dime.
Third, the American Families Plan will finally provide up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
No one should have to choose between a job and paycheck or taking care of themselves and a loved one – a parent, spouse, or child.
And fourth, the American Families Plan puts money directly into the pockets of millions of families.
In March we expanded a tax credit for every child in a family.
Up to a $3,000 Child Tax Credit for children over 6 — and $3,600 for children under 6.
With two parents, two kids, that’s up to $7,200 in your pocket to help take care of your family.
This will help more than 65 million children and help cut child poverty in half this year.
Together, let’s extend the Child Tax Credit at least through the end of 2025.
The American Rescue Plan lowered health care premiums for 9 million Americans who buy their coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Let’s make that provision permanent so their premiums don’t go back up.
In addition to my Families Plan, I will work with Congress to address – this year – other critical priorities for America’s families.
The Affordable Care Act has been a lifeline for millions of Americans –protecting people with pre-existing conditions, protecting women’s health.
And the pandemic has demonstrated how badly it is needed.
Let’s lower deductibles for working families on the Affordable Care Act, and let’s lower prescription drug costs.
We all know how outrageously expensive they are.
In fact, we pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world right here in America – nearly three times as much as other countries.
We can change that.
Let’s do what we’ve always talked about.
Let’s give Medicare the power to save hundreds of billions of dollars by negotiating lower prices for prescription drugs.
That won’t just help people on Medicare – it will lower prescription drug costs for everyone.
The money we save can go to strengthen the Affordable Care Act – expand Medicare coverage and benefits – without costing taxpayers one additional penny.
We’ve talked about it long enough – Democrats and Republicans.
Let’s get it done this year.
This is all about a simple premise: Health care should be a right, not a privilege in America.
So how do we pay for my Jobs and Family Plans?
I’ve made clear that we can do it without increasing deficits.
Let’s start with what I will not do.
I will not impose any tax increases on people making less than $400,000 a year.
It’s time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1% of Americans to pay their fair share.
Just pay their fair share.
A recent study shows that 55 of the nation’s biggest corporations paid zero in federal income tax last year.
No federal taxes on more than $40 billion in profits.
A lot of companies evade taxes through tax havens from Switzerland to Bermuda to the Cayman Islands.
And they benefit from tax loopholes and deductions that allow for offshoring jobs and shifting profits overseas.
That’s not right.
We’re going to reform corporate taxes so they pay their fair share – and help pay for the public investments their businesses will benefit from.
And, we’re going to reward work, not wealth.
We take the top tax bracket for the wealthiest 1% of Americans – those making $400,000 or more – back up to 39.6%.
We take the top tax bracket for the wealthiest 1% of Americans – those making $400,000 or more – back up to 39.6%.
That’s where it was when George W. Bush became president.
We’re going to get rid of the loopholes that allow Americans who make more than $1 million a year pay a lower rate on their capital gains than working Americans pay on their work.
This will only affect three tenths of 1% of all Americans.
And the IRS will crack down on millionaires and billionaires who cheat on their taxes.
That’s estimated to be billions of dollars.
Look, I’m not out to punish anyone.
But I will not add to the tax burden of the middle class of this country.
They’re already paying enough.
What I’ve proposed is fair. It’s fiscally responsible.
It raises the revenue to pay for the plans I’ve proposed that will create millions of jobs and grow the economy.
When you hear someone say that they don’t want to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1% and on corporate America – ask them: whose taxes are you going to raise instead, and whose are you going to cut?
Look at the big tax cut in 2017.
It was supposed to pay for itself and generate vast economic growth.
Instead it added $2 trillion to the deficit.
It was a huge windfall for corporate America and those at the very top.
Instead of using the tax savings to raise wages and invest in research and development – it poured billions of dollars into the pockets of CEOs.
In fact, the pay gap between CEOs and their workers is now among the largest in history.
According to one study, CEOs make 320 times what their average workers make.
The pandemic has only made things worse.
20 million Americans lost their jobs in the pandemic – working- and middle-class Americans.
At the same time, the roughly 650 Billionaires in America saw their net worth increase by more than $1 Trillion.
Let me say that again.
Just 650 people increased their wealth by more than $1 Trillion during this pandemic.
They are now worth more than $4 Trillion.
My fellow Americans, trickle-down economics has never worked.
It’s time to grow the economy from the bottom up and middle-out.
A broad consensus of economists – left, right, center – agree that what I’m proposing will help create millions of jobs and generate historic economic growth.
These are among the highest value investments we can make as a nation.
I’ve often said that our greatest strength is the power of our example – not just the example of our power.
And in my conversations with world leaders – many I’ve known for a long time – the comment I hear most often is: we see that America is back – but for how long?
My fellow Americans, we have to show not just that we are back, but that we are here to stay.
And that we aren’t going it alone – we’re going to be leading with our allies.
No one nation can deal with all the crises of our time alone – from terrorism to nuclear proliferation to mass migration, cybersecurity, climate change – and as we’re experiencing now, pandemics.
There’s no wall high enough to keep any virus away.
As our own vaccine supply grows to meet our needs – and we are meeting them – we will become an arsenal of vaccines for other countries – just as America was the arsenal of democracy in World War 2.
The climate crisis is not our fight alone, either.
It’s a global fight.
The United States accounts for less than 15% of carbon emissions.
The rest of the world accounts for 85%.
That’s why – I kept my commitment to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement on my first day in office.
And I kept my commitment to convene a climate summit right here in America, with all of the major economies of the world – from China and Russia to India and the European Union in my first 100 days.
I wanted the world to see that there is consensus that we are at an inflection point in history.
And the consensus is if we act, we can save the planet – and we can create millions of jobs and economic growth and opportunity to raise the standard of living for everyone in the world.
The investments I’ve proposed tonight also advance a foreign policy that benefits the middle class.
That means making sure every nation plays by the same rules in the global economy, including China.
In my discussion with President Xi, I told him that we welcome the competition – and that we are not looking for conflict.
But I made absolutely clear that I will defend American interests across the board.
America will stand up to unfair trade practices that undercut American workers and industries, like subsidies for state-owned enterprises and the theft of American technologies and intellectual property.
I also told President Xi that we will maintain a strong military presence in the Indo—Pacific just as we do with NATO in Europe – not to start conflict – but to prevent conflict.
And, I told him what I’ve said to many world leaders – that America won’t back away from our commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms.
No responsible American president can remain silent when basic human rights are violated. A president has to represent the essence of our country.
America is an idea – unique in the world.
We are all created equal. It’s who we are. We cannot walk away from that principle.
With regard to Russia, I made very clear to President Putin that while we don’t seek escalation, their actions have consequences.
I responded in a direct and proportionate way to Russia’s interference in our elections and cyber—attacks on our government and businesses – and they did both of those things and I did respond.
But we can also cooperate when it’s in our mutual interests.
As we did when we extended the New START Treaty on nuclear arms – and as we’re working to do on the climate crisis.
On Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs that present a serious threat to America’s security and world security – we will be working closely with our allies to address the threats posed by both of these countries through diplomacy and stern deterrence.
And American leadership means ending the forever war in Afghanistan.
We have the greatest fighting force in the history of the world.
And I’m the first President in 40 years who knows what it means to have had a child serving in a warzone.
Today we have service members serving in the same war as their parents once did.
We have service members in Afghanistan who were not yet born on 9/11.
War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multi—generational undertaking of nation—building.
We went to Afghanistan to get the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.
We delivered justice to Osama Bin Laden and we degraded the terrorist threat of al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
After 20 years of American valor and sacrifice, it’s time to bring our troops home.
Even as we do, we will maintain an over—the—horizon capability to suppress future threats to the homeland.
But make no mistake – the terrorist threat has evolved beyond Afghanistan since 2001 and we will remain vigilant against threats to the United States, wherever they come from.
Al Qaeda and ISIS are in Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and other places in Africa and the Middle East and beyond.
And, we won’t ignore what our own intelligence agencies have determined – the most lethal terrorist threat to the homeland today is from white supremacist terrorism.
And my fellow Americans, we must come together to heal the soul of this nation.
It was nearly a year ago before her father’s funeral, when I spoke with Gianna Floyd, George Floyd’s young daughter.
As I knelt down to talk to her so we could talk eye—to—eye, she said to me, “Daddy changed the world.”
After the conviction of George Floyd’s murderer, we can see how right she was – if we have the courage to act.
We have all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black America.
Now is our opportunity to make real progress.
Most men and women in uniform wear their badge and serve their communities honorably.
I know them. I know they want to help meet this moment as well.
My fellow Americans, we have to come together.
To rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve.
To root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system.
And to enact police reform in George Floyd’s name that passed the House already.
I know the Republicans have their own ideas and are engaged in productive discussions with Democrats.
We need to work together to find a consensus.
Let’s get it done next month, by the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death.
The country supports this reform.
Congress should act.
We have a giant opportunity to bend to the arc of the moral universe toward justice.
And with the plans I outlined tonight, we have a real chance to root out systemic racism that plagues American life in many other ways.
A chance to deliver real equity.
Good jobs and good schools. Affordable housing. Clean air and clean water.
Being able to generate wealth and pass it down through generations.
Real opportunities in the lives of more Americans – Black, white, Latino, Asian American, Native American.
I also want to thank the Senate for voting 94—1 to pass the COVID—19 Hate Crimes Act to protect Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from the vicious hate crimes we’ve seen this past year – and for too long.
I urge the House to do the same and send that legislation to my desk as soon as possible.
I also hope Congress can get to my desk the Equality Act to protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans.
To all the transgender Americans watching at home – especially the young people who are so brave – I want you to know that your president has your back.
And another thing.
Let’s reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which has been law in this country for 27 years since I first wrote it.
It will close the so—called “boyfriend” loophole to keep guns out of the hands of abusers.
It’s estimated that more than 50 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner – every month in America.
Pass it and save lives.
And I need not tell anyone this, but gun violence is an epidemic in America.
Our flag at the White House was still flying at half—staff for the 8 victims of the mass shooting in Georgia, when 10 more lives were taken in a mass shooting in Colorado.
In the week between those mass shootings, more than 250 other Americans were shot dead.
250 shot dead.
I know how hard it is to make progress on this issue.
In the 1990s, we passed universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons and high—capacity magazines that hold 100 rounds that can be fired in seconds.
We beat the NRA. Mass shootings and gun violence declined.
But in the early 2000’s, that law expired and we’ve seen the daily bloodshed since.
More than two weeks ago in the Rose Garden, surrounded by some of the bravest people I know – the survivors and families who lost loved ones to gun violence – I laid out several steps the Department of Justice is taking to end this epidemic.
One of them is banning so—called “ghost guns.”
They are homemade guns built from a kit that includes the directions on how to finish the firearm.
The parts have no serial numbers, so when they show up at a crime scene, they can’t be traced.
The buyers of ghost gun kits aren’t required to pass a background check.
Anyone from a criminal to a terrorist could buy this kit and, in as little as 30 minutes, put together a lethal weapon.
But not anymore.
I will do everything in my power to protect the American people from this epidemic of gun violence.
But it’s time for Congress to act as well.
We need more Senate Republicans to join with the overwhelming majority of their Democratic colleagues, and close loopholes and require background checks to purchase a gun.
And we need a ban on assault weapons and high—capacity magazines again.
Don’t tell me it can’t be done. We’ve done it before … and it worked.
Talk to most responsible gun owners, most hunters – they’ll tell you there’s no possible justification for having 100 rounds – 100 bullets – in a weapon.
They will tell you that there are too many people today who are able to buy a gun, but who shouldn’t be able to.
These kinds of reasonable reforms have the overwhelming support of the American people – including many gun owners.
The country supports reform, and the Congress should act.
This shouldn’t be a Red vs. Blue issue. It’s an American issue.
And here’s what else we can do.
Immigration has always been essential to America.
Let’s end our exhausting war over immigration.
For more than 30 years, politicians have talked about immigration reform and done nothing about it.
It’s time to fix it.
On day one of my Presidency, I kept my commitment and I sent a comprehensive immigration bill to Congress.
If you believe we need a secure border – pass it.
If you believe in a pathway to citizenship – pass it.
If you actually want to solve the problem – I have sent you a bill, now pass it.
We also have to get at the root of the problem of why people are fleeing to our southern border from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador.
The violence. The corruption. The gangs. The political instability. Hunger. Hurricanes. Earthquakes.
When I was Vice President, I focused on providing the help needed to address these root causes of migration.
It helped keep people in their own countries instead of being forced to leave.
Our plan worked.
But the last administration shut it down.
I’m restoring the program and asked Vice President Harris to lead our diplomatic efforts.
I have absolute confidence she will get the job done.
Now, if Congress won’t pass my plan – let’s at least pass what we agree on.
Congress needs to pass legislation this year to finally secure protection for the Dreamers – the young people who have only known America as their home.
And, permanent protections for immigrants on temporary protected status who come from countries beset by man—made and natural made violence and disaster.
As well as a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers who put food on our tables.
Immigrants have done so much for America during the pandemic – as they have throughout our history.
The country supports immigration reform.
Congress should act.
And if we are to truly restore the soul of America – we need to protect the sacred right to vote.
More people voted in the last presidential election than ever before in our history – in the middle of one of the worst pandemics ever.
That should be celebrated. Instead it’s being attacked.
Congress should pass H.R. 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and send them to my desk right away.
The country supports it.
Congress should act.
As we gather here tonight, the images of a violent mob assaulting this Capitol—desecrating our democracy—remain vivid in our minds.
Lives were put at risk. Lives were lost. Extraordinary courage was summoned.
The insurrection was an existential crisis—a test of whether our democracy could survive.
But the struggle is far from over. The question of whether our democracy will long endure is both ancient and urgent.
As old as our Republic. Still vital today.
Can our democracy deliver on its promise that all of us – created equal in the image of God – have a chance to lead lives of dignity, respect, and possibility?
Can our democracy deliver on the most pressing needs of our people?
Can our democracy overcome the lies, anger, hate and fears that have pulled us apart?
America’s adversaries – the autocrats of the world – are betting it can’t.
They believe we are too full of anger and division and rage.
They look at the images of the mob that assaulted this Capitol as proof that the sun is setting on American democracy.
They are wrong. And we have to prove them wrong.
We have to prove democracy still works.
That our government still works – and can deliver for the people.
In our first 100 Days together, we have acted to restore the people’s faith in our democracy to deliver.
We’re vaccinating the nation. We’re creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. We’re delivering real results people can see and feel in their own lives.
Opening the doors of opportunity. Guaranteeing fairness and justice.
That’s the essence of America.
That’s democracy in action.
Our Constitution opens with the words, “We the People”.
It’s time we remembered that We the People are the government. You and I.
Not some force in a distant capital. Not some powerful force we have no control over.
It’s us. It’s “We the people.”
In another era when our democracy was tested, Franklin Roosevelt reminded us—In America: we do our part.
That’s all I’m asking. That we all do our part.
And if we do, then we will meet the central challenge of the age by proving that democracy is durable and strong.
The autocrats will not win the future.
The future will belong to America.
I stand here tonight before you in a new and vital hour in the life of our democracy and our nation.
And I can say with absolute confidence: I have never been more confident or more optimistic about America.
We have stared into an abyss of insurrection and autocracy — of pandemic and pain — and “We the People” did not flinch.
At the very moment our adversaries were certain we would pull apart and fail.
We came together.
With light and hope, we summoned new strength and new resolve.
To position us to win the competition for the 21st Century.
On our way forward to a Union more perfect. More prosperous. More just.
As one people. One nation. One America.
It’s never been a good bet to bet against America.
And it still isn’t.
We are the United States of America.
There is nothing – nothing – beyond our capacity – nothing we can’t do – if we do it together.
#AceNewsRepor t- Apr.24: Despite a minuscule majority, House Democrats have passed legislation this year reworking voting laws, toughening gun background checks and fulfilling other party goals. Yet in the 50-50 Senate, which Democrats control because of Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote, Republicans will be able to force changes in some bills and block others completely:
The Senate GOP’s superpower: filibusters, bill-killing delays that would force the chamber’s 50 Democrats to win votes from at least 10 Republicans to prevail. That gives Republicans tremendous power over much of Biden’s and Democrats’ agenda, and it’s fueling frustration among progressives who want senators to abolish the filibuster rule.
“Everything we love is at stake,” first-term Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., said Thursday, ticking off a list of House-passed bills gathering dust in the Senate. “Not just everything we love, but everything we need.”
It would take all 50 Democratic senators — plus Harris — to abolish or curtail the filibuster, over the certain objection of the chamber’s 50 Republicans.
But moderate Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have opposed eliminating it, and Democrats say others in the party quietly oppose the move as well. Filibuster supporters cite a preference for seeking bipartisan accord with Republicans as well as repercussions when the GOP, inevitably at some point, returns to majority Senate control.
Manchin said at an event this week sponsored by Axios, a news website, that the filibuster was designed to prod the two parties to “find a pathway forward.” And while Republicans are using the filibuster to block Democratic legislation, Democrats in past GOP-run Senates have used it to stall Republican efforts to curtail abortion rights and in other fights, and some in the party fear losing that weapon in the future.
“What goes around comes around,” Manchin added.
Significantly, Biden has already won the capstone of his first months’ agenda — the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, signed into law in March. In coming months, he stands a strong chance of achieving a second major triumph on his proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, which the White House says would create millions of jobs.
“The biggest pieces of Biden’s agenda, that he’s put the most political capital behind, already became law” or have a strong chance of that, said Matt Bennett, a top official with Third Way, a centrist Democratic group.
Democrats passed the virus relief bill over unanimous Republican opposition because they used special budget rules preventing GOP filibusters. They might resort to the same procedure for the infrastructure bill to prevail if, as seems strongly possible, they can’t reach compromise with Republicans.
But use of the procedure circumventing filibusters is strictly limited by Senate rules. Since January alone, that’s stymied Democratic initiatives beloved by the party’s core liberal voters, including bills easing voting restrictions, reviving portions of the Voting Rights Act, tightening gun restrictions and helping women win salaries equal to men’s pay. The bill granting statehood to the District of Columbia also faces no chance in the Senate.
Under pressure after this week’s conviction of a former Minneapolis police officer in the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, senators are trying to negotiate a compromise for overhauling police procedures. A House-passed bill would ban chokeholds, improve police training and end immunity of many police officers from lawsuits.
The roadblocks have prompted progressives like Bush to continue pressing Democratic senators to eliminate the filibuster. Some top Democrats have repeatedly dangled the threat of doing just that. Liberals hope pressure on Senate Democrats to end the rule will build as House-passed bills stack up in the chamber.
“This chamber can work in a bipartisan fashion to get things done,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday after it passed the bill on violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. “That doesn’t mean we forgo our principles. That doesn’t mean we cut back on the boldness that is needed. But it means we try to work with our Republican colleagues whenever we can.”
At a news conference last month, Biden advocated a return to an earlier filibuster version that forced objecting senators to speak on the Senate floor until one side or the other surrendered. He added that if a “complete lockdown” occurred, “we’ll have to go beyond what I’m talking about.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters Thursday that “Mitch McConnell is still the problem.” She was referring to Democrats’ nemesis, the Senate minority leader from Kentucky, who exactly two years ago happily described himself as the “Grim Reaper” killing progressive bills in his chamber.
McConnell, however, isn’t to blame for all their Senate woes. Democrats currently lack 50 Senate votes for expanded gun background checks, raising the minimum wage and some other priorities, so eliminating the filibuster wouldn’t be enough.
Republicans are already playing offense on the filibuster fight. McConnell warned on the Senate floor Thursday that Democrats want to eliminate the procedure to push though legislation imposing new federal voting rules, adding more Supreme Court justices and creating a new Democratic-controlled state.
“Rewriting the rules of American politics to exclusively benefit one side,” McConnell said.
Looking ahead to 2022 elections when Republicans hope to win congressional control, the GOP House and Senate campaign committees are savoring using the issue.
“It’s going to become a standard question” for Democrats, said Chris Hartline, spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “They’ll have to say that they support getting rid of the filibuster, or they will face the ire of their liberal base” if they don’t.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.23: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has long complained about police in sanctuary cities that fail to honor its detainers, instead releasing serious criminals in the U.S. rather than turn them over to get deported. Now two states are suing the Homeland Security agency for failing to issue detainer requests for convicted felons in the country illegally, forcing local authorities to free them after completing their sentence rather than turning them over to the feds for removal. It seems that the tables have turned under the Biden administration, according to the lawsuit, filed this month by officials in Texas and Louisiana.
‘States Say ICE Stops Issuing Detainers for Illegal Immigrant Convicts, Revokes Them for Dozens’
The states claim that ICE has reversed a Trump era policy and is not issuing detainer requests for dangerous illegal aliens imprisoned in their jurisdiction. “As a result, many convicted criminal aliens have been released to society after their sentences, contrary to Congress’s mandate that they be detained pending their removal from the United States,” according to their complaint, filed this month in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas Victoria Division. Besides ICE, the defendants include the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and various officials at the DHS agencies.
The lawsuit begins by stating that “the Biden Administration is refusing to take custody of criminal aliens despite federal statutes requiring it to do so.” Instead, the document reads, defendants “have issued and implemented unlawful agency memoranda that allow criminal aliens already convicted of felony offenses to roam free in the United States. Such aliens belong in federal custody, as Congress required.”
Adding insult to injury, officials in the Lone Star State reveal in the court document that the Biden administration has taken the extra step of revoking ICE detainer requests for a multitude of illegal immigrants convicted of felonies and serving sentences in prisons operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Many were found guilty in a U.S. court of serious drug offenses, including possession, manufacturing, and sale. “President Biden’s outright refusal to enforce the law is exacerbating an unprecedented border crisis,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “By failing to take custody of criminal aliens and giving no explanation for this reckless policy change, the Biden Administration is demonstrating a blatant disregard for Texans’ and Americans’ safety. Law and order must be immediately upheld and enforced to ensure the safety of our communities. Dangerous and violent illegal aliens must be removed from our communities as required by federal law.” In 2019 Texas housed nearly 9,000 undocumented criminal aliens at a cost of more than $152 million, according to the lawsuit.
In Louisiana ICE is not removing individuals subject to mandatory deportation, the complaint says, causing convicted felons incarcerated in state facilities to be released in local communities throughout the Bayou State. Louisiana, more than any other state, has greater risk due to the large number of local jails that are used to house detainees prior to removal, according to Attorney General Jeff Landry. “The President’s refusal to enforce the law only worsens an already dire border crisis,” Landry said. “Law and order must prevail; dangerous and violent criminal aliens must not be allowed to roam free in our communities.” Both states assert that the administration is violating binding agreements with DHS to assist in immigration enforcement and national security missions as well the Constitution, Immigration and Nationality Act and Administrative Procedure Act, which require the government to post proposed substantive rule changes in the Federal Register and allow the public to comment on them before enacting them.
For years ICE has slammed sanctuary cities nationwide for refusing to honor a local-federal partnership known as 287(g) that notifies the agency of jail inmates in the country illegally so that they can be deported after serving time for state crimes. Before Biden became president, ICE repeatedly issued statements reminding sanctuary cities and states that when law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders onto the streets, it undermines its ability protect public safety and carry out its mission. The agency even launched a billboard campaign seeking the public’s help in capturing felons released by one state’s sanctuary policy.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.15: Treasury’s actions include the implementation of new prohibitions on certain dealings in Russian sovereign debt, as well as targeted sanctions on technology companies that support the Russian Intelligence Services’ efforts to carry out malicious cyber activities against the United States:
‘The President signed this sweeping new authority to confront Russia’s continued and growing malign behavior,” said Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen. “Treasury is leveraging this new authority to impose costs on the Russian government for its unacceptable conduct, including by limiting Russia’s ability to finance its activities and by targeting Russia’s malicious and disruptive cyber capabilities.”
U.S. Department of the Treasury : Office of Public Affairs: Press Release: For Immediate Release
Treasury Sanctions Russia with Sweeping New Sanctions Authority
NEW AUTHORITY IN RESPONSE TO RUSSIAN MALIGN ACTIVITIES
The E.O. of April 15, 2021, “Blocking Property with Respect to Specified Harmful Foreign Activities of the Government of the Russian Federation,” elevates the U.S. government’s capacity to deploy strategic and economically impactful sanctions to deter and respond to Russia’s destabilizing behavior. In particular, this new E.O. authorizes sanctions to counter Russia’s harmful foreign activities that threaten the national security and foreign policy of the United States, including: undermining the conduct of free and fair elections and democratic institutions in the United States and its allies and partners; engaging in and facilitating malicious cyber activities against the United States and its allies and partners that threaten the free flow of information; fostering and using transnational corruption to influence foreign governments; pursuing extraterritorial activities targeting dissidents or journalists; undermining security in countries and regions important to the United States’ national security; and violating well-established principles of international law, including respect for the territorial integrity of states. To address these threats, the E.O. of April 15, 2021 authorizes sanctions on a wide range of persons, including, among others, those operating in the technology and defense and related materiel sectors of the Russian Federation economy, and in any additional sectors of the Russian Federation economy as may be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State.
SOVEREIGN DEBT PROHIBITIONS
Pursuant to the E.O. of April 15, 2021, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is issuing a directive that generally prohibits U.S. financial institutions from participating in the primary market for ruble or non-ruble denominated bonds issued after June 14, 2021 by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, or the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation, and further prohibits U.S. financial institutions from lending ruble or non-ruble denominated funds to these three entities. This directive expands upon existing prohibitions on certain dealings in Russian sovereign debt that have been in place since August 2019.
TREASURY DESIGNATES RUSSIAN COMPANIES IN THE TECHNOLOGY SECTOR SUPPORTING RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICES
Treasury’s first use of the E.O. of April 15, 2021 targets companies operating in the technology sector of the Russian Federation economy that support Russian Intelligence Services.
The following companies are designated for operating in the technology sector of the Russian Federation economy: ERA Technolopolis; Pasit, AO (Pasit); Federal State Autonomous Scientific Establishment Scientific Research Institute Specialized Security Computing Devices and Automation (SVA); Neobit, OOO (Neobit); Advanced System Technology, AO (AST); and Pozitiv Teknolodzhiz, AO (Positive Technologies).
ERA Technopolis is a research center and technology park funded and operated by the Russian Ministry of Defense. ERA Technopolis houses and supports units of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) responsible for offensive cyber and information operations and leverages the personnel and expertise of the Russian technology sector to develop military and dual-use technologies.
Pasit is a Russia-based information technology (IT) company that conducted research and development in support of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service’s (SVR) malicious cyber operations.
SVA is a Russian state-owned research institute specializing in advanced systems for information security located in Russia. SVA conducted research and development in support of the SVR’s malicious cyber operations.
Neobit is a Saint Petersburg, Russia-based IT security firm whose clients include the Russian Ministry of Defense, SVR, and Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). Neobit conducted research and development in support of the cyber operations conducted by the FSB, GRU, and SVR. Neobit was also designated today pursuant to cyber-related E.O. 13694, as amended by E.O. 13757, WMD-related E.O. 13382, and the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for providing material support to the GRU.
AST is a Russian IT security firm whose clients include the Russian Ministry of Defense, SVR, and FSB. AST provided technical support to cyber operations conducted by the FSB, GRU, and SVR. AST was also designated today pursuant to E.O. 13694, E.O. 13382, and CAATSA for providing support to the FSB.
Positive Technologies is a Russian IT security firm that supports Russian Government clients, including the FSB. Positive Technologies provides computer network security solutions to Russian businesses, foreign governments, and international companies and hosts large-scale conventions that are used as recruiting events for the FSB and GRU. Positive Technologies was also designated today pursuant to E.O. 13694, E.O. 13382, and CAATSA for providing support to the FSB.
SANCTIONS TARGET RUSSIAN MALICIOUS CYBER ACTORS
The Russian Intelligence Services — specifically the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), and the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) — have executed some of the most dangerous and disruptive cyber attacks in recent history, including the SolarWinds cyber attack. The FSB and GRU were previously sanctioned in 2016, and again in 2018, for malicious cyber activity, and most recently on March 2, 2021 for activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
The FSB was involved in the August 2020 poisoning of Aleksey Navalny with a chemical weapon, specifically a nerve agent known as Novichok. The GRU also engaged in activities that materially contributed to the possession, transportation, and use of Novichok related to a March 2018 poisoning in the United Kingdom.
The FSB has also used its cyber capabilities to target Russian journalists and others who openly criticize the regime, as well as U.S. government personnel and millions of private citizens around the world. To bolster its malicious cyber operations, the FSB cultivates and co-opts criminal hackers, including the previously designated Evil Corp, enabling them to engage in disruptive ransomware attacks and phishing campaigns.
The GRU’s malign cyber activities include deployment of the NotPetya and Olympic Destroyer malware; intrusions targeting the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the World Anti-Doping Agency; cyber attacks on government systems and critical infrastructure in Ukraine and the state of Georgia; and hack-and-leak operations targeting elections in the United States and France.
In addition, the Russian Intelligence Services’ third arm, the SVR, is responsible for the 2020 exploit of the SolarWinds Orion platform and other information technology infrastructures. This intrusion compromised thousands of U.S. government and private sector networks. The scope and scale of this compromise combined with Russia’s history of carrying out reckless and disruptive cyber operations makes it a national security concern. The SVR has put at risk the global technology supply chain by allowing malware to be installed on the machines of tens of thousands of SolarWinds’ customers. Victims of the compromise include the financial sector, critical infrastructure, government networks, and many others. Further, this incident will cost businesses and consumers in the United States and worldwide millions of dollars to fully address.
Additionally, the SVR stole “red team tools,” which mimic cyber attacks to help customers better protect themselves, from a U.S. cyber security company. These tools, if made public or used offensively by the SVR or other actors, would create additional opportunities for malign actors to target computer systems worldwide.
The private and state-owned companies designated today enable the Russian Intelligence Services’ cyber activities. These companies provide a range of services to the FSB, GRU, and SVR, ranging from providing expertise, to developing tools and infrastructure, to facilitating malicious cyber activities.
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated persons described above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.10: The United States is pleased to announce that, working with Congress, we plan to restart U.S. economic, development, and humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people:
‘The United States Restores Assistance for the Palestinians: ‘This includes $75 million in economic and development assistance in the West Bank and Gaza, $10 million for peacebuilding programs through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and $150 million in humanitarian assistance for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)’
We are also resuming vital security assistance programs: All assistance will be provided consistent with U.S. law. Economic assistance includes support for small and medium enterprises’ recovery from the effects of COVID-19; support for needy households to access basic human needs, such as food and clean water; and assistance for Palestinian civil society. A portion of this funding will support the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, as it continues to provide necessary and life-saving treatments to Palestinians. This funding is in addition to the $15 million in humanitarian assistance to address the COVID-19 pandemic and food insecurity the United States announced in March:
The United States is resuming support for UNRWA’s services, including education for over 500,000 Palestinian boys and girls, thereby providing hope and stability in UNRWA’s five fields of operation in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza Strip: Funding to UNRWA also provides critical COVID-19 assistance, including healthcare, medicine, and medical supplies, as well as cash and food assistance to families severely impacted by COVID-19. The United States is deeply committed to ensuring that our partnership with UNRWA promotes neutrality, accountability, and transparency. As with all of our engagements with UN institutions, the United States needs to be at the table to ensure that the reforms advance efficiencies and are in accord with our interests and values.
U.S. foreign assistance for the Palestinian people serves important U.S. interests and values: It provides critical relief to those in great need, fosters economic development, and supports Israeli-Palestinian understanding, security coordination and stability. It also aligns with the values and interests of our allies and partners. The United States is committed to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians in tangible ways in the immediate term, which is important in its own right, but also as a means to advance towards a negotiated two-state solution: The United States encourages other donors to support programs and activities that work toward a common goal of stability and progress for Israelis and Palestinians alike:
#AceNewsReport – Mar.28: The decision is alarming child welfare experts who say the waiver compromises safety as thousands of unaccompanied child migrants cross the border.
Biden administration waives FBI background checks on caregivers at new migrant facilities: ‘In the rush to get children out of overcrowded and often unsuitable Border Patrol sites, President Joe Biden’s team is turning to a measure used by previous administrations: tent camps, convention centers and other huge facilities’
These facilities are operated by private contractors and funded by U.S. Health and Human Services.
In March alone, the Biden administration announced it will open eight new emergency sites across the Southwest adding 15,000 new beds, more than doubling the size of its existing system.
These emergency sites don’t have to be licensed by state authorities or provide the same services as permanent HHS facilities. They also cost far more, an estimated $775 per child per day.
And to staff the sites quickly, the Biden administration has waived vetting procedures intended to protect minors from potential harm.
Staff and volunteers directly caring for children at new emergency sites don’t have to undergo FBI fingerprint checks, which use criminal databases not accessible to the public and can overcome someone changing their name or using a false identity.
New migrant shelter opens in San Diego to deal with influx
HHS issued a statement Friday saying that direct care staff and volunteers ‘must pass public record criminal background checks.’ Public records checks generally take less time but are reliant on the subject providing correct information.
The agency says those giving direct care are supervised by federal employees or others who have passed fingerprint-based background checks.
‘In the Emergency Intake Sites, HHS is implementing the standards of care used for children in an emergency response setting,’ the agency said.
During former President Donald Trump´s administration, HHS for months did not ensure FBI fingerprint checks or child welfare screenings were done for workers at a large camp in Tornillo, Texas.
An Associated Press investigation in 2018 also found staff at another camp at Homestead, Florida, were not given routine screenings to rule out allegations of child abuse or neglect.
HHS´ inspector general warned then that FBI fingerprint checks ‘provide a unique safeguard’ over most commercial background checks that search a person´s name.
‘While the various background checks could identify some past criminal convictions or sexual offenses, these checks were not as extensive as the FBI fingerprint background checks,’ the inspector general found.
Laura Nodolf, the district attorney in Midland, Texas, where HHS opened an emergency site this month, said that without fingerprint checks, ‘we truly do not know who the individual is who is providing direct care.’
‘That´s placing the children under care of HHS in the path, potentially, of a sex offender,’ Nodolf said. ‘They are putting these children in a position of becoming potential victims.’
Dr. Amy Cohen, a child psychiatrist who is executive director of the immigration advocacy group Every Last One, noted that HHS requires fingerprint checks of relatives who seek to take in children as part of a vetting process that takes more than 30 days on average.
‘Failure to check fingerprints of frontline facility staff exposes vulnerable migrant children to a significant danger of physical and sexual abuse,’ she said.
The Biden administration has 18,000 children and teenagers in its custody, a figure that has risen almost daily over the last several weeks.
While Biden continues to expel most adults and many families crossing the border, he has declined to reinstate expulsions of unaccompanied immigrant children, which stopped last year after a now-stayed federal court order.
More than 5,000 youths are in border custody, many of them in a South Texas tent facility with limited space, food and access to the outdoors.
But Border Patrol is apprehending hundreds more minors than HHS is releasing every day – a difference of 325 just on Thursday.
At the downtown Dallas convention center, one of HHS’ emergency sites, almost all of its 2,300 beds were filled just one week after it opened this month.
Child advocates say that rather than opening more unlicensed emergency facilities, the administration must speed up placing children with sponsors, especially the approximately 40% of youths in custody who have a parent in the country ready to take them.
HHS has tried to expedite processing of minors in recent weeks, allowing some youths to be placed with parents while fingerprint checks are pending and authorizing the use of government funds to pay for airfare when a child is released.
Ana, the mother of a 17-year-old teen detained in Dallas, told AP said her son fled gangs trying to recruit him in El Salvador and hoped to join her in Virginia.
After an eight-day journey, the teenager crossed the U.S.-Mexico border on March 9. Eight days would pass until she heard from authorities at the border that they had him in custody.
She received a 10-minute call from him on March 20, after he was taken to the Dallas facility. It was the first time she’s spoken to him since he entered the country.
She says she has repeatedly called HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement to ask if they would release him to her family, but they have refused, saying they have to process her case. In the meantime, she’s ready to present documentation proving she is his mother and fit to take him.
‘I don´t understand why they are making it so difficult,’ said Ana, who is not being identified by her last name to protect her son´s privacy. ‘I know that we are in a pandemic, but maybe I think that it is that they are behind schedule, that maybe there are a lot of people there.’
Tornillo and Homestead were sharply criticized by Democrats and child welfare experts who warned of the potential trauma of detaining thousands of teenagers without adequate support.
Volunteers from the American Red Cross provided care at the first two emergency HHS sites, a converted camp for oil workers in Midland, Texas, and the Dallas convention center. Those volunteers are now being phased out.
The Red Cross and HHS for several days refused to acknowledge that the volunteers weren´t given FBI fingerprint checks. The Red Cross first said that all of its volunteers underwent background checks when they joined the group. On Tuesday, the group said it was ‘refreshing’ checks on about 300 volunteers sent to care for children and that it had not found any new red flags.
HHS spokesman Mark Weber said he could not yet identify which companies or groups will now step in. The department asked contractors in mid-March to submit bids to provide child care and transportation.
Leecia Welch, an attorney for the nonprofit National Center for Youth Law who monitors the treatment of immigrant children, said lawyers would pay ‘close attention to whether this temporary waiver becomes standard operating practice.’
‘Given the urgency of the current placement crisis, families deserve the same flexibility as the for-profit companies contracting with the federal government,’ she said.
Safety concerns have already been raised about the Midland camp. One official working there noted a lack of new clothes and caseworkers when teenagers initially arrived, and state regulators last week warned that the water on site may not be safe, forcing U.S. authorities to give teens bottles until they could arrange for water deliveries.
Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez, a Dallas-based immigration lawyer, described the Dallas convention center as reminiscent of a barracks but ‘very welcoming.’
She visited the convention center in its first days as a volunteer for Catholic Charities and said that cots for more than 2,000 boys have been placed in socially distanced rows in a ballroom.
After being bused to the site, the boys get clean clothes, a pillow, a blanket and a COVID-19 test, Saenz-Rodriguez said. She saw them last week sitting together at tables, talking and playing card games. Most did not understand why they´d been brought to Dallas or what would happen to them next, she said.
‘Their number one question is `How long are we going to be here? What´s going to happen to us?´’ Saenz-Rodriguez said.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.22: Secretary of State Antony Blinken laid out the thinking behind the guidance in his first major speech since entering office. It was a compelling one, underscoring the urgent need to shore up US democracy and revitalize America’s alliances and partnerships:
Who will organize the world? That’s what’s at stake in the Biden-Xi contest: ‘The Washington piece was President Joe Biden’s release of the “Interim National Security Strategic Guidance,” which is unprecedented at this stage in a new administration. Biden’s purpose was to provide early clarity about how he intends to set and execute priorities in a fast-changing world’
Kindness & Wisdom says will God take over and bring Peace & Goodwill to ALL on this Earth Amen
Who is going to organize the world? And what forces and whose interests will shape the global future?
“ Whether we like it or not, the world does not organize itself,” Blinken said. “When the U.S. pulls back, one of two things is likely to happen: either another country tries to take our place, but not in a way that advances our interests and values; or, maybe just as bad, no one steps up, and then we get chaos and all the dangers it creates. Either way, that’s not good for America.”
Relations with China, which Blinken called “the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century,” are the wrench in this organizational thinking.
Said Blinken: “China is the only country with the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system—all the rules, values, and relationships that make the world work the way we want it to, because it ultimately serves the interests and reflects the values of the American people.”
Biden’s biggest departure from former President Donald Trump’s approach to China is his emphasis on working with partners and allies. This week’s move by the United States and European Union to ease trade tensions, suspending a long list of tariffs related to the Airbus-Boeing dispute over government subsidies, underscores Biden’s seriousness of purpose.
China’s take on organizing the world
Unsurprisingly, Beijing is offering up a different view of the future around the second key event this past week: China’s National People’s Congress that convened Friday and will continue this coming week.
Chinese President Xi Jinping sees momentum building for Beijing in a world where “the East is rising, and the West is declining.” His argument was that China offers order, in contrast to the United States’ chaos, and effective governance, in contrast to Washington’s ineffectiveness, demonstrated by how much better it has handled the pathogen it unleashed.
Xi’s most comprehensive swipe at how China would organize the world came in late January at this year’s virtually convened World Economic Forum. The speech’s title underscored its all-embracing ambition: “Let the Torch of Multilateralism Light up Humanity’s Way Forward.”
If Biden’s vision is for the United States to create a band of reinvigorated democratic sisters and brothers, inspired by the country’s revitalization, Xi’s vision is for a world where each country’s political system, culture, and society are its own business.
In this world, America’s value judgments are passé.
The subtext for Xi is simple: How countries organize themselves internally, along with whatever authoritarian strictures and human rights violations they include—whether against the Uighur minority in Xinjiang, democracy activists in Hong Kong, or perhaps even ultimately Taiwan’s independence—just is not Washington’s business.
“Each country is unique with its own history, culture and social system, and none is superior to the other,” Xi told the virtual Davos crowd. “The best criteria are whether a country’s history, culture and social system fit its particular situation, enjoy people’s support, serve to deliver political stability …” Xi made clear this approach is meant to “avoid meddling in other countries’ internal affairs.”
By contrast, in a letter that accompanied the strategic guidance this week, President Biden wrote, “I firmly believe that democracy holds the key to freedom, prosperity, peace, and dignity… We must prove that our model isn’t a relic of history; it’s the single best way to realize the promise of our future. And if we work together with our democratic partners, with strength and confidence, we will meet every challenge and outpace every challenger.”
As democracy weakens globally, the world’s democracies must act
The context for these competing visions was this week’s release of Freedom House’s annual survey that said, “less than 20 percent of the world’s population now lives in a Free country, the smallest proportion since 1995.”
In the study, called “Democracy under Siege,” Sarah Repucci and Amy Slipowitz wrote, “as a lethal pandemic, economic and physical insecurity, and violent conflict ravaged the world in 2020, democracy’s defenders sustained heavy new losses in their struggle against authoritarian foes, shifting the international balance in favor of tyranny.”
It was the fifteenth successive year in which countries with declines in political rights and civil liberties outnumbered those with gains. The report said that nearly 75 percent of the world’s population lived in a country that faced a deterioration of democratic freedoms last year.
It may seem that this is absolutely the wrong time to expect the world’s democracies to rally to shape the global order. Yet just the opposite is true: At a time when democracy is being tested across the world, there’s no better time to work together to address these challenges and ensure that the global gains in freedom over the past seventy-five years don’t continue to erode.
Chastened by the global situation, the Biden administration knows its work must begin at home. Blinken also was modest in how the United States would go about advancing democracy.
“We will use the power of our example,” he said. “We will encourage others to make key reforms, overturn bad laws, fight corruption, and stop unjust practices. We will incentivize democratic behavior.”
What the United States won’t do is promote democracy “through costly military interventions,” said Blinken, “or by attempting to overthrow authoritarian regimes by force. We have tried these tactics in the past. However well intentioned, they haven’t worked.”
In the end, the world is not going to be organized either by Chinese or American fiat, but rather by a concert of national interests influenced by the trajectory of the world’s two leading powers.
Xi’s bet is that China’s momentum is unstoppable, that the world is sufficiently transactional, and that his economy has become indispensable to most US allies. Biden must not only shift that narrative but also work in common cause to reverse the reality of democratic weakening.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.21: The areas of pushback right now—including human rights, Taiwan, territorial disputes, and cyber—appear to far outweigh the other areas:
The US just sent China a message in Alaska: ‘The public theatrics and hostile rhetoric that marked the first meeting of top US and Chinese officials since Joe Biden’s inauguration were certainly striking. But it’s not surprising that the talks in Alaska on Thursday were more confrontational than cooperative as China only respects strength, and strength in numbers’
Numbers: The heart of the Biden approach is to consult with allies and partners and seek to present a united front—an approach that the Chinese abhor and aim wherever possible to avoid. They prefer to pick countries off one by one, as part of a divide-and-conquer strategy, to maximize their interests. The Biden administration’s sequencing of meetings over the last week was nothing short of masterful—starting with the Quad summit with Biden and the leaders of Australia, India, and Japan one week ago, proceeding to the 2+2 consultative meetings with the Japanese and South Korean foreign and defense ministers and their American counterparts, and only then followed by the US-China meeting in Alaska, as US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin headed to India to meet with his counterpart after the 2+2 meetings.
Many in the media and elsewhere will say that the drama in Anchorage portends worsening US-China relations and high potential for crises. That may be exaggerated. This first clash, with perhaps others to follow, is necessary as the Biden team sees it. It was needed both to assure allies of the rock-solid US commitment to protect the mutual interests of like-minded democracies against manifold Chinese challenges, and to make it crystal clear to China that the United States and its allies and partners will stand firm on issues of highest interest to them.
Once China realizes that the United States, contrary to the statement Chinese officials issued yesterday, is indeed dealing from a position of strength, the relationship will return to one in which the most difficult issues can be managed and cooperation can be explored.
As US President Joe Biden moves quickly in his first one hundred days to address key priorities, one issue is crying out for urgent action: the precarious state of the World Trade Organization, which is confronting a variety of immediate and long-term crises.
If Biden’s vision is for the United States to create a band of reinvigorated democratic sisters and brothers, inspired by the country’s revitalization, Xi’s vision is for a world where each country’s political system, culture, and society are its own business. Will either view come out on top?
#AceNewsReport – Mar.16: President Joe Biden has been reversing some of his predecessor’s policies: But the recent surge of arrivals is putting pressure on processing systems: There were a record number of children – 3,200 – being held in US immigration facilities on the US-Mexican border as of 8 March.
Hundreds continue to arrive each day, and many are being held beyond the legal three-day limit for being processed and transferred.
Announcing Fema’s involvement, Mr Mayorkas said the agency would work with the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) to “look at every available option to quickly expand physical capacity for appropriate lodging”.
“Our goal is to ensure that unaccompanied children are transferred to HHS as quickly as possible, consistent with legal requirements and in the best interest of the children,” he added.
On the campaign trail, Joe Biden promised to reverse many of Donald Trump’s restrictive migrant policies.
Since taking office in January, he has ordered the reunification of migrant children with their families, ended construction of the border wall and called for reviews of legal immigration programmes terminated by his predecessor.
But in the same month Mr Biden became president, 5,871 unaccompanied children crossed the border – up from 4,995 in December – according to data from the US Customs and Border Protection (CPB).
As of 8 March, the number of children held in US immigration facilities had tripled in just two weeks – to 3,250. Of that number, nearly half had been in detention longer than the three-day limit and were in CBP-managed facilities that were designed for adults.Asylum seekers arrive in US after year-long wait in Mexico
The HHS is required to link children up with their parents, guardians, US relatives or find a sponsor to take them in while their immigration case is being considered.
Although Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted on HHS-managed shelters to expand capacity for unaccompanied children, the New York Times reports that they are just days away from reaching maximum capacity.
Most of the unaccompanied children detained are boys between the ages of 15-17.
Some reports suggest desperate families, who have been turned away at the US border, have been sending their children on alone to improve their chances of entering the US.
#AceNewsReport – WASHINGTON:June.16:When Daniel Craig returns as Agent 007 James Bond this fall, he will be appearing in one of the most expensive spy films ever made. SPECTRE, like many Bond films before it, includes a high-speed ski chase.
Fortunately, the American taxpayer wasn’t forced to pony up for the elaborate production’s ski escapade costs. (I’m sure the producers of any movie would happily have accepted the financial support.) Unfortunately, however, the taxpayers were forced to pay, and pay through the nose, for Michelle Obama’s ski weekend escapade in pricey, trendy Aspen, Colorado, this past February.
This is what we learned in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request we made to the U.S. Air Force on February 18, 2015. We asked for:
Any and all records concerning mission taskings relevant to First Lady Michelle Obama’s trip to Aspen, Colorado.
Any and all records concerning transportation costs.
According to the newly released records, the transportation costs for the four-day trip to Aspen were based on a flight cost of $7,712 an hour for the First Lady, her daughters, and support personnel in the Gulfstream aircraft (as opposed to the $700 that the average American can spend for a roundtrip flight all the way to Europe and back). Not included were the attendant costs for U.S. Secret Service personnel, accommodations, meals, rental cars, lift tickets for skiing at Buttermilk, and related expenses. The $57,068.80 tab Mrs. Obama and her daughters ran up in travel expenses alone for their weekend trip is more than 14 times what the average American of four spends for an entire week-long vacation.
It has been apparent to us for some time now that the Obamas abuse taxpayer money with unnecessarily luxurious vacations and travel. How many times did the Obama family travel to Aspen prior to the presidency? Misusing the perks of presidency to travel to luxury hot-spots is an abuse that must end. If Congress is looking to save tax dollars, they might consider trimming the platinum travel budgets of this and future presidents.
Apparently, the ski trip was intended to be low-key, and it may have stayed under the radar had it not been for the Obama’s motorcade having been forced to stop for a two-car collision ahead of them, which closed the road for 40 minutes. Though the Obamas had been allowed to “sneak through while they waited on tow trucks,” according to Aspen Police Chief Brian Olsen, the presence of the First Lady was noticed. The Obama family reportedly stayed at the home of Jim and Paula Crown, a Chicago couple who have been major campaign contributors to President Obama throughout his political career.
Barack and Michelle Obama and other members of their family have traveled more during his presidency than any other first couple, including extensive and costly trips to Spain, Africa, South America, and China, accompanied by staff and often by friends.
Including the Aspen trip, government records indicate that the beyond-first-class travel of the Obamas and Vice President Joe Biden have cost the American people well over $56 million.
The Obamas have trained Vice President Biden well on how to use tax dollars for personal and political use. Air Force records we received in response to a September 19, 2014, FOIA show that Biden’s September 3, 2014, trip to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in New Hampshire cost taxpayers $17,025 in transportation expenses. Biden was in New Hampshire to campaign for Democratic Senate and House candidates.
We had asked for:
1) Any and all records concerning mission taskings of Vice President Biden’s September 3, 2014 trip to New Hampshire;
2) Any and all records concerning transportation costs for Vice President Biden’s September 3, 2014 trip to New Hampshire; and
3) Any and all passenger manifests (DD-2131) for Vice President Biden’s September 3, 2014 trip to New Hampshire.
Biden’s cost included three hours of flight time at $5,675 an hour, which does not include Secret Service expenses or costs incurred by local law enforcement in New Hampshire. While the Obama administration claimed Biden was in New Hampshire to celebrate shipyard workers, it’s clear that he was in campaign mode. London’s Daily Mail reported that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire, along with Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud of Maine, all joined Biden at the shipyard.
And tax dollars are sacrificed on the altar of Mr. Biden’s political ambition.
CNN Politics reported, “The vice president, who’s mulling a 2016 presidential bid, made his remarks at the Portsmouth Naval Yard in a speech about the economy. He was accompanied on stage by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat who’s running for re-election this year.” The dirty little not-so-secret is that candidates, campaigns, and political parties pay nearly nothing for the political use of Air Force One (or Air Force Two).
The Obama family and Biden mistake the Air Force for Uber. The scam of presidents and vice presidents using tax dollars to subsidize candidates running for office must end. Did Shaheen reimburse taxpayers for a reasonable portion of the costs Biden to campaign for her? Our military has been decimated and is under strain. Biden might want to consider this when he next considers using Air Force Two for a trip to New Hampshire or Iowa as he runs for the presidency.