Sct Thunderstorms
H 92° L 76°
  • clear-night
    Current Conditions
    Sct Thunderstorms. H 92° L 76°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    Sct Thunderstorms. H 92° L 76°
  • cloudy-day
    Partly Cloudy. H 92° L 76°

The latest newscast

00:00 | 00:00


The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00


The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

National Govt & Politics
Usually talkative Trump silent on asylum changes

Usually talkative Trump silent on asylum changes

Usually talkative Trump silent on asylum changes
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Alex Brandon
President Donald Trump listens to a question during a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, July 22, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Usually talkative Trump silent on asylum changes

It is, arguably, the most sweeping step that President Donald Trump's administration has taken to try to stop the flow of migrants at the border — the kind of thing he might have been expected to promote on Twitter and brandish in front of news cameras as proof he is taking hardline steps to crack down on illegal immigration.

Under proposed new rules, Trump would effectively end asylum, barring claims from migrants who'd traveled through Mexico from other countries and closing the door to tens of thousands of individuals and families fleeing violence and economic duress in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Instead, the move one week ago has been followed by relative silence about the policy change.

Trump has yet to tweet about the effort or discuss it publicly, even when prompted. Asked specifically about the move by a reporter last week, Trump took the conversation elsewhere. His most prominent anti-immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, failed to mention the effort during a Sunday talk show appearance. And a senior Department of Homeland Security official tried to play down its significance before issuing a quiet retraction.

The approach has been met with surprise by some who have spent more than two years fighting Trump's attempted immigration changes.

"I think we were all surprised that the administration has conceded that the policy may be quickly enjoined and even suggested that it wasn't as broad as everyone assumed," said American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt, who was traveling to California on Monday to argue against the changes in court.

"Normally," he said, the administration has "tried to paint their policies as broad and unprecedented as possible."

The White House did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the strategy, but several senior administration officials seemed to have paid the measure and its rollout little attention themselves.

Observers offered several potential explanations, including possible fatigue over an endless stream of immigration orders, rules and changes that seem to blur together — including another Monday that would expand the authority of immigration officers to deport migrants without requiring them to appear before judges. In addition, the announcement came during an especially crowded news cycle, with Trump's racist tweets and comments targeting four Democratic congresswoman of color commanding most of the attention in Washington over the past week.

When Miller appeared on "Fox News Sunday," for instance, he did not field a single question on immigration policy and instead spent his segment defending the tweets. And lawmakers didn't bring it up when Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan appeared before a House committee last week to discuss family separations.

Others cited the fact that both activists and administration officials seem certain the asylum change will be blocked by the courts, as have so many of Trump's previous immigration efforts.

"If we thought this really was going to be the new policy of the land, we would be lying down in front of ICE buses and taking over DHS facilities," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, a liberal immigration reform group. But, he said, "just about everybody expects it to be enjoined by the court and the preparation for the implementation of the strategy has been almost non-existent."

Sharry said the administration appeared more interested in producing a headline to scare off potential migrants than actually following through with policy changes.

"They're trying to use cruelty as a deterrent and tough talk as a deterrent. And so this was, 'Let's get a headline that says we're stopping asylum,'" Sharry said.

But the threat of court action didn't stop the administration from stirring up attention for past efforts that have either been quickly blocked by judges or abandoned at the last minute — including the first iterations of Trump's proposed "Muslim ban" and his threat to shut down the entire southern border.

This time, however, the effort was announced with little fanfare — published quietly in the Federal Register — with a joint statement hours later from the attorney general and McAleenan, but no explanation of how it would work practically at the border.

Some Homeland Security officials said they were caught off guard by the regulations' introduction and unsure about how to implement the new process alongside the administration's other efforts to curb asylum, including the so-called "remain in Mexico" program. That program forces asylum-seekers to wait out their cases in Mexico.

There also appears to be confusion within the department's highest ranks. Mark Morgan, the new acting head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, tried to downplay the effort in an NPR interview last week, saying the administration would only be testing the new rules in a pilot program along one small stretch of the border. He also said he doubted the courts would allow the rule to move forward, citing two federal lawsuits seeking to block it.

"We're actually anticipating that probably the regulation will be enjoined," he said.

But no mention of a piecemeal approach had been made previously and Morgan walked back the comment hours later.

The rule "speaks to asylum eligibility and applies to all amenable individuals," he said.

A judge on Monday said he'd decide as soon as possible whether to block the rules temporarily while the case played out. The judge cited Morgan's comments in his questioning, wondering why the government would have a problem with halting the new rules if they anticipated it anyway.

Trump, meanwhile, was busy tweeting about the self-described "squad" of Democratic congresswomen, calling their views on immigration "So bad for our Country!"


Associated Press writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.

Read More

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • He probably needed a ride home, but Pinellas County Sheriff Deputies say John Davis stole a courtesy scooter from a St. Petersburg Wal-mart and drove it for almost a mile before stopping at a gas station. He told deputies Friday night, that he planned to recharge the scooter and head on down the road. Investigators confirmed that the 58-year-old was intoxicated at the time, noting that it would be a long ride to his home in Palmetto, which was another 23-miles down I-275. Davis did get a ride, to the county jail where he was charged with grand theft. His mug shot shows a badly bruised face, but it is not clear when or where the injuries happened. He was issued a $2,000 bond, but at last check was still behind bars. The scooter is valued at $1,500.
  • A trio of local lawmakers successfully worked to double the amount of money the City of Orlando will receive in anti-terrorism funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Central Florida Representative Stephanie Murphy, Val Demmings, and Darren Soto secured $3.25 million after they convinced DHS to revise its allocation formula to consider factors like daily visitors, high-profile events and so called ‘soft targets’ like theme parks. “Orlando is one of our nation’s most popular destinations and home to a vibrant community that has endured tragedy and loss. Residents and visitors alike should know the federal government is providing the support needed to protect them from terrorist threats,” Rep. Murphy said in a press release. The money will be allocated by by the Urban Area Work Group, which is headed by Orange County Sheriff's Office. It’s part of $590 million in funding granted to 31 cities across the nation, including Orlando, Tampa and Miami.  The money can be used to purchase homeland security equipment, conduct training exercises, train and pay first responders, and enhance security in order to protect high-profile locations like stadiums, public transit, and theme parks. The city received $1.5 million last year but received zero dollars from fiscal years 2015 through 2017.  “Our ongoing advocacy efforts to increase federal resources have paid off as we continue improving security against terrorism in our Central Florida region,” said Soto. “Orlando metro has faced multiple threats in the past years, adding alarming risks to the safety and well-being of our community. More than 75 million people visited Orlando in 2018 and recently the Orlando International Airport was named the busiest in the state.  The city has also been the target of an attack at the Pulse Nightclub in 2016, where 49 people were killed. “I am grateful that Central Florida is receiving the funding we need to ensure that our communities remain safe places to live, work, worship, and visit,” said Demings. “Security is our top priority, and with these grants, the federal government is doing its part to help ensure we remain ahead of those seeking to do harm.”In addition, because Orlando is receiving  Urban Area Security Initiative funding, non-profit organizations in the city are eligible for Nonprofit Security Grants from DHS. Three non-profit organizations that predominantly serve the Jewish community in Orlando applied for, and received, a total of $270,000.
  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is asking for your help as they face an unknown condition threatening our big cats. The disorder has, so far, seemed to affect Florida panthers and bobcats. The abnormality causes the cats to stumble, seemingly unable to coordinate their back legs. The FWC writes: As of August 2019, the FWC has confirmed neurological damage in one panther and one bobcat. Additionally, trail camera footage has captured eight panthers (mostly kittens) and one adult bobcat displaying varying degrees of this condition. Videos of affected cats were collected from multiple locations in Collier, Lee and Sarasota counties, and at least one panther photographed in Charlotte County could also have been affected.” They are testing for toxins, including rat pesticide, as well as infectious diseases and nutritional deficiencies. The organization is also asking the public for video, if they have it, of stumbling big cats and to submit those videos to the FWC. Mobile users see video here. The more footage they have, the better their investigation, which quickly needs solved. Florida panthers are an endangered species in the state. Biologists estimate there are about 200 left in the wild. Mobile users see Instagram post here.
  • Mark your calendars and grab your sunglasses, the Florida Strawberry Festival has announced its new theme for the 85th annual event in 2020 — 'Our Perfect Vision! A new theme is created for the festival each year, and this year the marketing geniuses played up the year 2020 and the Festivals “Perfect Vision” for fun. Mr. Berry is sporting a FSF fedora and sunglasses with 2020 on the lenses. The iconic mascot is also carrying a plate of strawberry shortcake. Each year, more than 500,000 people enjoy the 11-day community event which celebrates the strawberry harvest of Eastern Hillsborough County. The festival features headline entertainment, youth livestock shows, exhibits of commerce and, of course, its strawberry shortcake. The 2020 Florida Strawberry Festival is set for February 27 - March 8 in Plant City. For more information, visit www.flstrawberryfestival.com. 
  • The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office shared what they call a “sensitive” arrest on their Facebook page writing, “You could even say it’s kinda nuts.” Deputies responded to a 911 hang-up call at a Sebring home Sunday, to discover Gary Van Ryswyk had just performed a castration on another man he met on the dark web at a sight for people with a castration fetish. Deputies found the victim on the bed with a towel over his groin, which was bleeding heavily. Nearby, there was a pink container which held two body parts that deputies say,  “had recently been much closer to the victim.” The Sheriff said in the Facebook post that “Van Ryswyk had dropped the ball on this one.” The victim was taken to the hospital and was later flown to a regional medical center where  he is listed in stable condition. Van Ryswyk admitted to investigators that he told the victim he had experience performing the procedure on animals and had even removed one of his own testicles in 2012. Deputies say Van Ryswyk had planned to operate on the victim a week earlier, but had to delay it after trying to sanitize the area. He also said he had done a similar procedure on a man in a local motel a few years ago, which also did not turn out well. Van Ryswky could not remember the name of that victim, who he said also went to the hospital, but law enforcement was not notified. The 74-year-old was arrested Monday and charged with practicing medicine without a license resulting in bodily injury, a second-degree felony. His bond was set at $250,000. Anyone who has information about Van Ryswyk is asked to call Det. Roger St. Laurent at 863-402-7250 or email detectives@highlandssheriff.com. Tips can also be left anonymously on the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office app or through Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS or www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com.

Washington Insider

  • With the Prime Minister of Denmark making it clear that she was not interested in selling Greenland to the United States, labeling the idea 'absurd,' President Donald Trump said Tuesday night that he would cancel his scheduled visit to the NATO ally in early September. 'Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting,' the President tweeted on Tuesday evening. In interviews this week, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen had made clear that Greenland was not for sale, even as she welcomed the idea of closer relations between Denmark and the United States. But that wasn't enough for President Trump. On Sunday, President Trump had downplayed the issue as he returned to the White House. 'It’s not number one on the burner, I can tell you that,' the President told reporters when asked about the idea of buying Greenland. The decision obviously came as a surprise to U.S. diplomats in Denmark, as the U.S. Ambassador had put out a tweet a few hours earlier about the President's scheduled state visit. The President and First Lady had been invited by the Queen of Denmark earlier this summer for a two day state visit. Democrats mocked the President for canceling his stop in Denmark. “Embarrassing,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA). 'What a shame when Greenland could be covered with sand traps, water holes and lots of beautiful putting greens,' said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), referring to the President's golfing.