Fact Check And Review Of Trump Immigration Policy

Good summary:

At the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump and his supporters have given the impression that Trump administration policy, while tough on illegal immigration, has been welcoming to legal immigrants, people trying to become American citizens and refugees fleeing government persecution. Below is a review of Trump administration policies on legal immigration from 2017 to the present.

Legal Immigration Cut in Half, Most Categories Blocked: By 2021, Donald Trump will have reduced legal immigration by 49% since becoming president – without any change in U.S. immigration law, according to a National Foundation for American Policy analysis. An April presidential proclamation blocked the entry of legal immigrants to the United States in almost all categories.

Reducing legal immigration most harms refugees, employers and Americans who want to live with their spouses, parents or children, but it also affects the country’s future labor force and economic growth: “Average annual labor force growth, a key component of the nation’s economic growth, will be approximately 59% lower as a result of the administration’s immigration policies, if the policies continue,” according to the National Foundation for American Policy.

The Most Highly Skilled Foreign-Born Blocked or Denied at High Rates: The denial rate on new H-1B petitions for high-skilled foreign nationals has increased from 6% in FY 2015 to 30% in FY 2020. A June 2020 presidential proclamation suspended the entry of foreign nationals on H-1B and L-1 (intracompany transferees) visas.

As reported in August, “Today, even the most highly skilled individuals in the world cannot enter America under the Trump administration’s immigration policy. Reports from attorneys and a statement from the State Department confirm that U.S. consular officers in Europe are denying O-1 visas for individuals with ‘extraordinary ability’ based on a health pretext.”

Refugees and Asylum Seekers, including from Venezuela, Denied:At least one speaker at the convention discussed the protection Americans once offered Cuban refugees and spoke sympathetically about the victims of Venezuela’s socialist government. For FY 2020, the Trump administration established an annual ceiling for refugees 84% lower than the final year of the Obama administration (from 110,000 down to 18,000). As of July 17, 2020, only 7,848 refugees have arrived in the United States in FY 2020.

As of December 2019, 24,451 Venezuelans were in U.S. immigration court facing removal, an increase of 277%, from 6,492 in September 2018, reports the Syracuse University Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). “Rather than make things easier for fleeing Venezuelans, the Trump administration has tightened asylum standards,” according to Miami New Times reporter Manuel Madrid, who writes that many Venezuelans consider being deported to Venezuela to be a death sentence.

Despite pleas from religious leaders, the administration has not designated Venezuelans for Temporary Protected Status and has continued to deport people back to Venezuela. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)removed more than 900 people to Venezuela between 2017 and 2019. In FY 2016, the last full year of the Obama administration, 182 Venezuelans were removed, compared to 327 in FY 2019 under the Trump administration, an 80% increase.

Asylum seekers from Cuba and Venezuela (and Central America) who try to enter the United States and apply for asylum would be unlikely to obtain a hearing under current administration policies at the U.S. border. New asylum regulations also make it difficult for those fleeing persecution to be approved if they receive a hearing.

A Significant Increase in Denials for Military Naturalizations: The denial rate for military naturalizations increased from 7% in FY 2016 to 17% in FY 2019, a 143% increase in the denial rate, according to a National Foundation for American Policy analysis. Due to policy decisions, between FY 2016 and FY 2019 the number of immigrants in the military who naturalized dropped by 54%, from 8,606 in FY 2016 to 3,987 in FY 2019.

On August 25, 2020, the same day a naturalization ceremony was held at the White House, a federal court ruled against the Trump administration’s efforts to make it more difficult for active-duty service members to become American citizens. “A federal court today ruled that the Trump administration’s policy of depriving military service members of an expedited path to citizenship is unlawful,” reported the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). “The ruling comes in a lawsuit, Samma v. U.S. Department of Defense, filed by the ACLU on behalf of eight non-citizen U.S. service members who represent a class of thousands in uniform.”

Naturalization Slowed and Ceremonies Stopped for Many Applicants: The five people who received naturalization at the White House on August 25, 2020, were fortunate. Over 100,000 immigrants have been waiting to become U.S. citizens due to administration policies. In March, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) closed offices and for months would not provide alternative methods for completing the citizenship process, such as administering oaths virtually or incorporating social distancing in naturalization ceremonies.

While naturalization ceremonies slowly came back, it is likely many immigrants will not be citizens in time to vote in the November election, due, in part, to long delays in processing. (See also this report from Boundless, which has estimated as many as 300,000 immigrants may not gain citizenship before November.)

On August 3, 2020, the administration significantly increased the fees for immigrants to become American citizens, increasing the cost of the application (N-400) to become a U.S. citizen by more than 80%, from $640 to $1,160 (for online filings, although a separate $85 biometrics fee would be eliminated).

Some have wondered about the Trump campaign’s motivations for presenting a picture of its immigration policies that differs from the policies the administration implemented over the past three and a half years. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker Glenn Kessler asked, “Hmm, wouldn’t a speech by Stephen Miller at this point better reflect the president’s immigration policies in the past three years than this naturalization ceremony?” Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell replied, “Exactly. If Trump’s (anti-)immigration agenda is so great, why not defend it on the merits? Why misrepresent what it actually does, by pretending Trump welcomes political refugees and newly-naturalized immigrants?”

Source: Fact Check And Review Of Trump Immigration Policy

Sensitive to claims of bias, Facebook relaxed misinformation rules for conservative pages

The social media platforms continue to undermine social inclusion and cohesion:

Facebook has allowed conservative news outlets and personalities to repeatedly spread false information without facing any of the company’s stated penalties, according to leaked materials reviewed by NBC News.

According to internal discussions from the last six months, Facebook has relaxed its rules so that conservative pages, including those run by Breitbart, former Fox News personalities Diamond and Silk, the nonprofit media outlet PragerU and the pundit Charlie Kirk, were not penalized for violations of the company’s misinformation policies.

Facebook’s fact-checking rules dictate that pages can have their reach and advertising limited on the platform if they repeatedly spread information deemed inaccurate by its fact-checking partners. The company operates on a “strike” basis, meaning a page can post inaccurate information and receive a one-strike warning before the platform takes action. Two strikes in 90 days places an account into “repeat offender” status, which can lead to a reduction in distribution of the account’s content and a temporary block on advertising on the platform.

Facebook has a process that allows its employees or representatives from Facebook’s partners, including news organizations, politicians, influencers and others who have a significant presence on the platform to flag misinformation-related problems. Fact-checking labels are applied to posts by Facebook when third-party fact-checkers determine their posts contain misinformation. A news organization or politician can appeal the decision to attach a label to one of its posts.

Facebook employees who work with content partners then decide if an appeal is a high-priority issue or PR risk, in which case they log it in an internal task management system as a misinformation “escalation.” Marking something as an “escalation” means that senior leadership is notified so they can review the situation and quickly — often within 24 hours — make a decision about how to proceed.

Facebook receives many queries about misinformation from its partners, but only a small subsection are deemed to require input from senior leadership. Since February, more than 30 of these misinformation queries were tagged as “escalations” within the company’s task management system, used by employees to track and assign work projects.

The list and descriptions of the escalations, leaked to NBC News, showed that Facebook employees in the misinformation escalations team, with direct oversight from company leadership, deleted strikes during the review process that were issued to some conservative partners for posting misinformation over the last six months. The discussions of the reviews showed that Facebook employees were worried that complaints about Facebook’s fact-checking could go public and fuel allegations that the social network was biased against conservatives.

The removal of the strikes has furthered concerns from some current and former employees that the company routinely relaxes its rules for conservative pages over fears about accusations of bias.

Two current Facebook employees and two former employees, who spoke anonymously out of fear of professional repercussions, said they believed the company had become hypersensitive to conservative complaints, in some cases making special allowances for conservative pages to avoid negative publicity.

“This supposed goal of this process is to prevent embarrassing false positives against respectable content partners, but the data shows that this is instead being used primarily to shield conservative fake news from the consequences,” said one former employee.

About two-thirds of the “escalations” included in the leaked list relate to misinformation issues linked to conservative pages, including those of Breitbart, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Gateway Pundit. There was one escalation related to a progressive advocacy group and one each for CNN, CBS, Yahoo and the World Health Organization.

There were also escalations related to left-leaning entities, including one about an ad from Democratic super PAC Priorities USA that the Trump campaign and fact checkers have labeled as misleading. Those matters focused on preventing misleading videos that were already being shared widely on other media platforms from spreading on Facebook and were not linked to complaints or concerns about strikes.

Facebook and other tech companies including Twitter and Google have faced repeated accusations of bias against conservatives in their content moderation decisions, though there is little clear evidence that this bias exists. The issue was reignited this week when Facebook removed a video posted to Trump’s personal Facebook page in which he falsely claimed that children are “almost immune” to COVID-19. The Trump campaign accused Facebook of “flagrant bias.”

Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone did not dispute the authenticity of the leaked materials, but said that it did not provide the full context of the situation.

In recent years, Facebook has developed a lengthy set of rules that govern how the platform moderates false or misleading information. But how those rules are applied can vary and is up to the discretion of Facebook’s executives.

In late March, a Facebook employee raised concerns on an internal message board about a “false” fact-checking label that had been added to a post by the conservative bloggers Diamond and Silk in which they expressed outrage over the false allegation that Democrats were trying to give members of Congress a $25 million raise as part of a COVID-19 stimulus package.

Diamond and Silk had not yet complained to Facebook about the fact check, but the employee was sounding the alarm because the “partner is extremely sensitive and has not hesitated going public about their concerns around alleged conservative bias on Facebook.”

Since it was the account’s second misinformation strike in 90 days, according to the leaked internal posts, the page was placed into “repeat offender” status.

Diamond and Silk appealed the “false” rating that had been applied by third-party fact-checker Lead Stories on the basis that they were expressing opinion and not stating a fact. The rating was downgraded by Lead Stories to “partly false” and they were taken out of “repeat offender” status. Even so, someone at Facebook described as “Policy/Leadership” intervened and instructed the team to remove both strikes from the account, according to the leaked material.

In another case in late May, a Facebook employee filed a misinformation escalation for PragerU, after a series of fact-checking labels were applied to several similar posts suggesting polar bear populations had not been decimated by climate change and that a photo of a starving animal was used as a “deliberate lie to advance the climate change agenda.” This claim was fact-checked by one of Facebook’s independent fact-checking partners, Climate Feedback, as false and meant that the PragerU page had “repeat offender” status and would potentially be banned from advertising.

A Facebook employee escalated the issue because of “partner sensitivity” and mentioned within that the repeat offender status was “especially worrisome due to PragerU having 500 active ads on our platform,” according to the discussion contained within the task management system and leaked to NBC News.

After some back and forth between employees, the fact check label was left on the posts, but the strikes that could have jeopardized the advertising campaign were removed from PragerU’s pages.

Stone, the Facebook spokesperson, said that the company defers to third-party fact-checkers on the ratings given to posts, but that the company is responsible for “how we manage our internal systems for repeat offenders.”

“We apply additional system-wide penalties for multiple false ratings, including demonetization and the inability to advertise, unless we determine that one or more of those ratings does not warrant additional consequences,” he said in an emailed statement.

He added that Facebook works with more than 70 fact-checking partners who apply fact-checks to “millions of pieces of content.”

Facebook announced Thursday that it banned a Republican PAC, the Committee to Defend the President, from advertising on the platform following repeated sharing of misinformation.

But the ongoing sensitivity to conservative complaints about fact-checking continues to trigger heated debates inside Facebook, according to leaked posts from Facebook’s internal message board and interviews with current and former employees.

“The research has shown no evidence of bias against conservatives on Facebook,” said another employee, “So why are we trying to appease them?”

Those concerns have also spilled out onto the company’s internal message boards.

One employee wrote a post on 19 July, first reported by BuzzFeed News on Thursday, summarizing the list of misinformation escalations found in the task management system and arguing that the company was pandering to conservative politicians.

The post, a copy of which NBC News has reviewed, also compared Mark Zuckerberg to President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Just like all the robber barons and slavers and plunderers who came before you, you are spending a fortune you didn’t build. No amount of charity can ever balance out the poverty, war and environmental damage enabled by your support of Donald Trump,” the employee wrote.

The post was removed for violating Facebook’s “respectful communications” policy and the list of escalations, previously accessible to all employees, was made private. The employee who wrote the post was later fired.

“We recognize that transparency and openness are important company values,” wrote a Facebook employee involved in handling misinformation escalations in response to questions about the list of escalations. “Unfortunately, because information from these Tasks were leaked, we’ve made them private for only subscribers and are considering how best to move forward.”

Source: https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/sensitive-claims-bias-facebook-relaxed-misinformation-rules-conservative-pages-n1236182

Fact check: Trump strays from the truth again and again on immigration

No surprises but good summary:

President Trump is distorting the truth when it comes to the impact of his administration’s policy regarding separating children from their parents at the U.S. border.

He falsely suggests that a newly signed executive order will permanently solve the problem of separations by keeping families together when they are detained for illegally crossing the border and exaggerates the number of immigration judges available to process their claims while they’re held in custody. A growing backlog of claims could mean that people will be held longer in detention until their cases are heard.

Here’s a look at some of his statements and the reality behind them:

TRUMP: “And ultimately, we have to have a real border — not judges. Thousands and thousands of judges they want to hire. Who are these people? When we vet a single federal judge, it goes through a big process. Now we’re hiring thousands and thousands.… And it got so crazy that all of these thousands — we now have thousands of judges — border judges — thousands and thousands.” — remarks Tuesday to the National Federation of Independent Business.

TRUMP: “We shouldn’t be hiring judges by the thousands, as our ridiculous immigration laws demand, we should be changing our laws, building the Wall, hire Border Agents and Ice and not let people come into our country based on the legal phrase they are told to say as their password.” — tweet Thursday.

THE FACTS: He’s incorrect about the U.S. having “thousands and thousands” of immigration judges and about thousands of additional judges being hired. The Justice Department’s immigration courts division has about 335 judges currently on staff nationwide, with the budget for 150 additional judges.

Dana Leigh Marks, past president of the National Association of Immigration Judges who also works in the Justice Department’s executive office for immigration review, said funding for immigration courts has increased modestly amid a growing backlog of cases. With a backlog of 700,000, each judge would have to take on more than 2,000 cases apiece to clear the docket.

The figures also don’t take into account a wave of expected retirements that would shrink the ranks of judges. A June 2017 Government Accountability Office report determined that 39% of the immigration judges are now eligible for retirement. Congressional investigators blamed the mounting caseload in part on the slow hiring of immigration judges and said the federal government needed to do a better job to address staffing needs.

TRUMP: “We’re keeping families together, and this will solve that problem.” — remarks Wednesday at signing of order to halt his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents when they are detained illegally crossing the U.S. border.

THE FACTS: It doesn’t solve the problem.

Trump’s executive order will continue his “zero tolerance” policy of criminally prosecuting all adults caught crossing the border illegally, and will now seek to keep families together in detention instead of separating them while their legal cases are heard by the courts.

But a 1997 landmark settlement known as the Flores agreement that generally bars the government from keeping children in immigration detention for more than 20 days remains in place. Trump is seeking to have the settlement overturned, but his Justice Department says the 20-day policy remains in effect until Congress or the courts take action to change that.

That means without further action from Congress or the courts, the Trump administration could be forced to again separate the immigrant children from their parents in three weeks.

TRUMP: “So here are just a few statistics on the human toll of illegal immigration. According to a 2011 government report, the arrests attached to the criminal alien population included an estimated 25,000 people for homicide, 42,000 for robbery, nearly 70,000 for sex offenses, and nearly 15,000 for kidnapping. In Texas alone, within the last seven years, more than a quarter-million criminal aliens have been arrested and charged with over 600,000 criminal offenses. You don’t hear that.”

THE FACTS: Trump is probably working from a 2011 U.S. Government Accountability Office report that looked at arrests, costs and incarcerations of immigrants who were in the U.S. illegally. The statistics he cites are accurate. He doesn’t note that about half of all of the 3 million arrests of the “criminal alien population” in the study were for immigration (529,859), drugs (504,043) or traffic (404,488). And some of the immigration arrests were related to civil violations, not criminal charges. The report didn’t distinguish between the two.

TRUMP: “I always hear that, ‘Oh, no, the population’s safer than the people that live in the country.’ You’ve heard that, fellas, right? You’ve heard that. I hear it so much, and I say, ‘Is that possible?’ The answer is it’s not true. You hear it’s like they’re better people than what we have, than our citizens. It’s not true.”

THE FACTS: Trump is questioning reports that those living in the country illegally commit fewer crimes than people in the population overall. He shouldn’t.

Several studies from social scientists and the libertarian think tank Cato Institute have shown that people here illegally are less likely to commit crime than U.S. citizens, and legal immigrants are even less likely to do so.

A March study by the journal Criminology found “undocumented immigration does not increase violence.”

The study, which looked at the years 1990 through 2014, argues that states with bigger shares of such people have lower crime rates.

A study last year by Robert Adelman, a sociology professor at University of Buffalo, analyzed 40 years of crime data in 200 metropolitan areas and found that immigrants helped lower crime. New York City, for example, has the nation’s largest population of immigrants living in the country illegally — about 500,000 — and last year had only 292 murders among a total population of 8.5 million people. A city murder rate is often used as a benchmark for overall crime because it’s difficult to fudge murder statistics.

And Ruben Rumbaut, a UC Irvine sociology professor, co-authored a recent study that noted crime rates fell sharply from 1990 to 2015 at a time when illegal immigration spiked.

Source: Fact check: Trump strays from the truth again and again on immigration