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Trump suggests refugees want to harm the U.S. But they just want to make America great, a new report says



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President Donald Trump, in the earliest days of his presidency, told Australia’s prime minister that he hates taking in refugees.

“I guarantee you they are bad,” he said, according to a transcript of the called obtained by The Washington Post. He added, “They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people.”

But a new report released Monday by a Washington-based think tank suggests that Trump’s dire warnings about those who seek asylum in the United States may be unfounded. In fact, the report indicates, they’re helping make America great.

The nonpartisan Urban Institute crunched Census and refugee survey data and complied recent academic studies, among other sources, to show that over time refugees integrate into nearly all aspects of American life. And the longer refugees remain in the U.S., the report says, the more likely they are to embrace tenets of the traditional American dream — buying homes and starting their own businesses.

According to the report, labor force participation rates of refugees on average exceed native-born rates. That’s typically because 77 percent of refugees are likely to be of working age compared to 50 percent of the native-born population. This also allows them to contribute economically, with their income rising the longer they stay in the U.S.

“There is a gap in what the current policy debate is and what the reality of refugees that are here is,” Hamutal Bernstein, a senior researcher at the think tank and the report’s author, said. “After a period of adjustment refugees integrate in different ways — they’re working at really high rates, the longer they’re here, the more they earn, the better their English gets.”

In 2015, for example, refugee income nationwide totaled $77.2 billion and refugees paid $20 billion in taxes, according to the report. Meanwhile, the report notes, use of public assistance also declines over time. (Under U.S. law, refugees qualify for some federal public benefits, but must meet certain conditions.)

 Aba Abu, refugee integration program coordinator for Trinity Jubilee Center in Lewiston, Maine, works with visitors on March 8, 2017. Ann Hermes / The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

The report comes at a time when the Trump administration has slashed refugee admissions to a historic low and changes to the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program have left some people in limbo. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court plans to hear arguments on the third iteration of Trump’s travel ban later this month.

As president, Trump has worked to reduce the number of refugees the country allows in. The first two iterations of his travel ban, which were met with immediate legal challenges, included provisions such as a 120-day refugee ban, an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees and a reduction of admissions overall. A third travel ban, issued last September, placed restrictions on certain people from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, but did not mention refugees.

Separately, in September 2017, Trump signed an executive order effectively ending his administration’s temporary ban on all refugees, but with new provisions that delayed processing certain refugees from 11 countries for 90 days. The order also lowered the admission cap for refugees to 45,000 for the fiscal year 2018. Since 2008, the cap has ranged from 70,000 to 110,000.

From the start of the 2018 federal fiscal year — Oct. 1 through March 15 — roughly 9,600 refugees have been admitted into the country, according to the report.

However, the report notes gaps that require additional study, such as how refugees from specific countries and cultures with different educational levels integrate. It also acknowledges some imprecision in Census data, and that some areas of refugee life are not able to be measured.

Bernstein said the Urban Institute hopes its findings will inject nuance into the conversation.

“I would hope there is a change when people are talking about this population and more sense about the complexity of their experience,” Bernstein said.

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Sturgeon ‘in no rush’ to hold independence referendum as polls suggest SNP will lose



NICOLA STURGEON won’t hold an independence referendum “any time soon”, a political expert has said.

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More than 100 Republican former officials, others to seek reforms, threaten new party



A group of more than 100 influential Republicans and others plans to release a call for reforms within the GOP and a threat to form a new party if change isn’t forthcoming, according to a person familiar with the effort.

The statement, set to be released Thursday, involves a “Call for American Renewal,” a credo that declares to “either reimagine a party dedicated to our founding ideals or else hasten the creation of such an alternative,” and a set of 13 yet-to-be-revealed principles that the signatories want to see the GOP embrace.

This is not the first group to form as the pro-Trump and traditional conservative factions of the Republican party remain at loggerheads. The new effort comes as a vote looms that is expected to oust Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., from the House Republican No. 3 leadership spot for her refusal to stay silent about former President Donald Trump’s repeated election lies and his role in the Jan. 6 riot.

The move was first reported by Reuters, which cites some of the people involved: Christine Todd Whitman, Tom Ridge, former Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and former GOP Reps. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Reid Ribble of Wisconsin and Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma. Evan McMullin, a former CIA agent who ran as an independent during the 2016 presidential election, is also involved.

A push to try to channel anti-Trump sentiment with the “Never Trump” movement in the spring of 2016 was largely unsuccessful at the time, and none of the names backing this latest effort are currently serving as elected Republicans. However, it does come as Trump’s pull within his own party appears to have lessened. A recent NBC News poll found that 44 percent of Republicans said they support Trump more than the GOP, versus 50 percent who said they support the GOP more than the former president.

One of the organizers is Miles Taylor, a former Trump official who wrote the then-anonymous op-ed blasting the former Trump administration.

“We’re going give the GOP one last chance to get its act together and moderate, but we’re not going to hold our breath,” Taylor told NBC News. “We’re ready to get out there and fight against the radical elements in the party to try to excise those elements from within the GOP and our national politics, and to try to invest in the deeper pro-democracy bench.”

Taylor suggested this nascent movement will work to back candidates who support their principles, whether they be moderates or independents.

“Enough is enough, and the GOP has had enough time to decide whether it’s going to separate itself from a man who is a chronic loser,” he said, referring to Trump, predicting a “raging civil war” if the rest of the party doesn’t get on board.

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Democrats’ sweeping election overhaul bill hits roadblock with tie vote in Senate panel



WASHINGTON — Democrats hit roadblocks Tuesday as they sought to advance their massive voting and election overhaul bill to the full Senate after a long and contentious session.

A Senate Rules Committee vote to move the legislation forward concluded with a predictable 9-9 tie along party lines, trapping it in the panel until Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., makes a motion to send the measure to the full chamber.

“This is not the last you will hear. This is the beginning, as Sen. Schumer under his rights will be able to bring this bill to the floor,” Senate Rules Chair Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said after the vote.

But Democrats don’t have the votes to pass it — and it’s not clear they have a strategy to get there.

For now, Democrats have 49 members sponsoring the bill. The holdout is Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who opposes the current version and has said he wants a bipartisan plan instead.

But Republicans made clear they have no interest in compromising on core provisions of the bill, which would establish a federal floor for voting rights by requiring states to automatically register eligible voters and offer 15 days of early voting, among other provisions.

Led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., GOP senators blasted the legislation during the Tuesday markup as a federal takeover of elections by one party.

Even if Democrats unified their 50-member caucus and secured a majority for the bill, it is subject to a filibuster. And Manchin has insisted, repeatedly, that he won’t vote to abolish the 60-vote rule.

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the Republican ranking member of the committee, told reporters Tuesday that the legislation “doesn’t have any hope of passing.”

“The majority leader will have to decide if he wants to bring a bill to the floor that can’t possibly pass unless there’s a change to the Senate rules.”

Democratic leaders described the legislation as crucial to protecting American democracy from GOP-led restrictive voting laws in states like Arizona, Texas and Georgia, which some of them compared to Jim Crow.

“In democracy, when you lose an election, you try to persuade more voters to vote for you. You don’t try to ban the other side from voting,” Schumer said. “That’s what dictators do.”

The committee considered over thirty amendments, and only a handful were adopted.

They included one by Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., to require the attorney general to submit a report to Congress studying voting by mail for military and overseas voters, and one from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that eliminates the requirement that applicants for independent redistricting commissions disclose their affiliation with religious organizations.

Cruz also introduced amendments that failed, including one that would express a sense of the Senate condemning businesses boycotting Georgia over their new restrictive voting law. Klobuchar condemned the amendment because it stuck language in the underlying bill that said Russia interfered in the 2016 election. And Sen. Jon Ossof, D-Ga., also opposed the amendment, saying that while he is against boycotts of his state, he did not support the way the Cruz language characterized its voting law.

Klobuchar offered an amendment on behalf of Democrats to make a series of revisions to the bill, giving states waivers and flexibility to implement major pieces of it.

The amendment won the support of all Democrats, but the 9-9 tie meant it was not adopted. Aides said they could pursue the amendments on the Senate floor.

But first they’d have to break a filibuster to begin debate.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., the lead sponsor of the bill, said Democrats are “having conversations” about the need to protect Americans’ constitutional right to vote. “If we can’t persuade Republicans to join us, then 50 Democrats will get in a room and figure it out,” he said.

Asked if that means getting around the filibuster, Merkley, an outspoken opponent of the 60-vote rule, said only: “Fifty Democrats will have to get in a room and figure out how to go forward.”

Toward the end of the Tuesday session, Blunt made clear his side wasn’t interested in getting the bill to the finish line.

“Your enthusiasm is not shared by us,” Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the ranking member, told Klobuchar.

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