Trump administration issues new travel restrictions on 6 countries

US President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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UPDATED 10:40 AM PT — Sunday, February 2, 2020

President Trump is adding six more African, Asian and eastern European countries to the U.S.’s travel order list. This latest move to reshape U.S. immigration policies was implemented on Friday. It will restrict citizens of Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Eritrea, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan from obtaining certain types of visas.

The travel order was said to be a revision of the president’s signature policies, which were previously challenged in the Supreme Court. Unlike the travel restrictions on citizens of Iran, Somalia and other Middle Eastern countries, the new policy will not affect non-immigrant visas. Those affected will still be able to visit the U.S. for tourism, education, business or medical purposes.

Some viewed the move as an inconvenience, especially citizens in Nigeria.

”Relocating to the U.S. is actually very hard, but it is somewhere I want to visit and probably relocate to if possible,” said one Nigerian resident. “But now that sounds like something that is not even possible.”

Homeland Security officials said the new travel order was implemented because those six countries have failed to comply with U.S. security requirements for passports and information sharing.

A police officer checks passports and vehicles at the entrance of the Channel tunnel in Calais, northern France, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. (Denis Charlet/Pool viaAP)

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley has defended the administration’s stance.

“If a country wants to fully participate in U.S. immigration programs, they should meet U.S. requirements,” he said.

During the World Economic Forum in Davos, the president reiterated that ensuring the safety of the American people is his top priority.

“Our country has to be safe, you see what is going on in the world,” he said. “So we have a very strong travel ban and we’ll be adding a few countries to it.”

The administration claimed the move will allow these six countries to have a “greater prospect” for improvement. The proclamation will officially go into effect on February 22nd.

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Fuel-guzzling California threatens Trump administration over fracking plan

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California leads the nation in the consumption of gasoline and jet fuel. The oil and gas industry provides more than 360,000 jobs and fracking helps the sector to pump annually into the state economy more than $55 billion in tax revenues.

Yet, today, state officials are threatening legal action after the Trump administration opened 1.2 million acres of federal land to drilling after a six-year moratorium.

“The Trump Administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wants to expose more than a million acres of public land in Central California to drilling and fracking using a patently deficient environment impact study,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “That’s not how we do things in California. We’re prepared to do whatever we must to protect the health and safety of our people. We intend to be good stewards of our public lands.”

STUART VARNEY: ONE OF TRUMP'S GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS GETS LEAST ATTENTION

Unlike drilling on private or state lands, the federal government collects a 12.5-percent royalty on every barrel of oil and gas produced on federal lands, providing billions to programs Congress approves. The BLM says drilling on the newly approved lands could generate $200 million annually and create 3,500 jobs in the Central Valley.

“This is a good thing, it gives California an opportunity to produce more of its own oil," said Bob Poole, of the Western State Petroleum Association.

"Currently, California uses 2 million barrels a day. Of those two million, we import over a million every day. This gives us the most opportunities available for us to produce our own energy under the most stringent environmental regulations.”

U.S. President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremonial swearing-in for Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 30, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis - RC1F370F7150

U.S. President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremonial swearing-in for Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 30, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis – RC1F370F7150

Environmentalists are not buying it. They oppose any new drilling and fear fracking will pollute groundwater and nearby waterways.

“We won’t let California’s stunning public lands be fracked and drilled without a fight,” said Clare Lakewood, an attorney for the Center for Biodiversity. “Trump and the oil industry want to expose our communities and wildlife to more toxic pollution. The future of our state and our fight against the climate crisis depend on stopping this vast fracking expansion in its tracks.”

The BLM says its court-ordered analysis found no adverse environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing or drilling.

SENATE CONFIRMS TRUMP'S PICK TO REPLACE RICK PERRY AS ENERGY SECRETARY

The administration's decision in California comes less than a month after Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would impose a moratorium on new high-pressure steam injection wells and review of all fracking permit applications.

“These are necessary steps to strengthen oversight of oil and gas extraction as we phase out our dependence on fossil fuels and focus on clean energy sources,” Newsom said in a written statement.

But the nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog claims Newsom approved 17 percent more drilling permits this year than it greenlighted under former Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration last year.

"Natural gas is the backbone of the generation sector in California," said Christopher Guith, of the U.S. Chamber's Global Energy Institute. "You can't have the massive amounts of renewables that California wants without gas. They need gas and their policies don't work without it. They should be thanking the Trump Administration for providing additional sources of gas that will help them run their economy."

A FracTracker website maps where new oil and gas wells are approved in California. Among others, it claims Newsom isn't doing enough to ban fracking and halt new permits. It shows Newsom approved more fracking permits than Brown.

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Fracking, which injects water, sand, and certain chemicals at high pressure into tight rock formations, is common in the 10 California counties that produce oil. In Kern County, California's major oil-producing area, up to 60 percent of new oil wells are fracked, according to estimates by Halliburton.

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Trump administration sanctions Nicaraguan president’s son for alleged corruption, money laundering

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The son of Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega faced financial sanctions from the White House on Thursday, after the Trump administration reprimanded him for alleged corruption and money laundering.

Rafael Ortega incurred the wrath of the U.S. government officials after committing human rights violations and acts of financial deception, according to a statement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"This new action furthers the United States’ unwavering commitment to use all economic and diplomatic tools to hold the government of Daniel Ortega accountable for acts of corruption and unconscionable human rights violations, and to support the Nicaraguan people’s struggle for a return to democracy," Pompeo said in a statement.

Pompeo cited an executive order from President Trump as the foundation for freezing Rafael Ortega's assets and accused him of working in secret to launder ill-gotten gains through seemingly legitimate enterprises.

"Rafael Ortega is a key money manager for the Ortega family, working alongside the previously sanctioned Vice President of Nicaragua and First Lady Rosario Murillo," Pompeo continued.

DEMONSTRATORS REPORTED ARRESTED, WOUNDED IN NICARAGUA

"Rafael Ortega uses at least two companies under his control, Inversiones Zanzibar, S.A and Servicio De Proteccion Y Vigilancia, S.A., to generate profits, launder money, and gain preferential access to markets for the Ortega regime. He uses Inversiones Zanzibar to obscure the transfer of profits from Distribuidor Nicaraguense de Petroleo, also designated today, and as a front company to procure fuel stations in an attempt to obscure DNP’s ownership of such fuel stations," he said.

The State Department also alleged that Ortega granted non-competitive government contracts to his cronies in an effort to reward political allies and stifle healthy competition.

"The United States urges the Ortega regime to resume dialogue with the opposition and restore democracy in the country, thereby fulfilling its obligations under the Inter-American Democratic Charter," Pompeo said.

"Nicaragua’s painful political crisis can only be resolved through free and fair elections that credibly reflect the will of the Nicaraguan people and with full respect for their human rights and fundamental freedoms," he added.

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In July 2018, Daniel Ortega rejected calls for an early election in response to the country's political unrest. His tenure has been rocked by protests and accusations of dictatorial corruption. His current term is up in 2021.

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Trump administration’s new food stamp policy stirs debate over work requirements

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How the Trump administration's new food stamp restrictions may affect certain states

The Trump administration last week proposed a new rule implementing work requirements for those in the Supplemental Nutrition Program, or SNAP. Conservative columnist and author Tom Basile argues policies like these are why President Trump was elected while Coalition on Human Needs Executive Director Deborah Weinstein counters that the latest announcement is just another addition to the Trump administration's unrelenting attack on low-income people in need of food assistance.

The Trump administration's proposal to tighten work requirements for food stamp recipients has ignited a debate over benefits for low-income people and cuts to government spending.

Last week, the administration proposed a new rule targeting the Supplemental Nutrition Program, known as SNAP, which feeds more than 36 million people. The plan will limit states from exempting work-eligible adults from having to maintain steady employment in order to receive benefits.

WHITE HOUSE TIGHTENS FOOD STAMP REQUIREMENTS, POTENTIALLY AFFECTING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE

Hundreds of thousands of people who rely on the program could be adversely impacted, critics of the proposal say.

In an interview with Fox News, Coalition on Human Needs Executive Director Deborah Weinstein argued that the latest announcement is just another example of the Trump administration’s attacks on low-income people in need of assistance. Weinstein said President Trump’s food stamp proposal “will take the poorest of the poor and deny assistance to nearly 700,000 of them, and that means there'll be more hunger, and less access to food."

Conservative columnist and author Tom Basile, however, argued that policies like these are why Trump was elected, saying it will not only encourage self-sufficiency, but it will save taxpayers dollars. The Agriculture Department has claimed it could save $5.5 billion over five years.

“This is what the president was elected to do. To reform the federal bureaucracy, to cut taxes, to help create an environment where people can get jobs, not just have these programs, and not just have a handout.”

— Tom Basile

“This is what the president was elected to do,” said Basile. “To reform the federal bureaucracy, to cut taxes, to help create an environment where people can get jobs, not just have these programs, and not just have a handout.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue last week argued the move would encourage self-sufficiency and employment.

"Government can be a powerful force for good, but government dependency has never been the American dream. We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand,” Perdue said.

Weinstein argued that calling the food stamps a “handout” is a mischaracterization and that they provide a modicum of stability in the lives of America’s very poor.

“The food assistance America’s poor get, which is very modest, around $160 a month, helps them stabilize their lives just a little bit,” Weinstein said. “It makes work more possible, and by cutting that away from them, work will be even harder.”

Trump administration set to tighten work requirements for food stampsVideo

Both Weinstein and Basile offered words of advice to the Trump administration. Basile advised highlighting fiscal responsibility, the low unemployment rate, and job openings across the country.

“For the Trump administration to say that we want to try to responsibly bring down the number of people who are on food stamp programs, if they are able-bodied adults, is not only the responsible thing, but will save taxpayers billions of dollars,” said Basile. “It will contribute to the ultimate goal of greater stability and economic prosperity.”

Weinstein, however, argued that the SNAP is a basic aid that helps secure people’s lives.

“That ought to remain the underpinning for moving people to more stable employment in a strong economy,” said Weinstein. “It should be especially a time when we offer training and support to people. So if there are jobs they can take, they can connect to them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Supreme Court temporarily blocks Trump administration request to resume federal executions

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The Supreme Court on Friday blocked the Trump administration from resuming federal executions in an attempt to put to death four convicted murderers. The executions were slated to begin next week.

The justices upheld a lower court ruling imposed last month after inmates claimed executions by lethal injection would violate federal law.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington, D.C., had imposed a temporary injunction on executions, saying they would conflict with federal law. That ruling was upheld Monday by a three-judge federal appeals court.

SUPREME COURT CONSIDERS FIRSR GUN CASE IN NEARLY A DECADE

In this Jan. 24, 2019, file photo, the Supreme Court is seen at sunset in Washington. The Supreme Court is preventing the Trump administration from re-starting federal executions next week after a 16-year break. The court on Friday denied the administration's plea to undo a lower court ruling in favor of inmates who have been given execution dates. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

In this Jan. 24, 2019, file photo, the Supreme Court is seen at sunset in Washington. The Supreme Court is preventing the Trump administration from re-starting federal executions next week after a 16-year break. The court on Friday denied the administration's plea to undo a lower court ruling in favor of inmates who have been given execution dates. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Attorney General William Barr announced in July that the federal government would resume executions after a 16-year break, using a single drug — pentobarbital — to put inmates to death. A legal battle has drawn out over that time over the drugs used for lethal injections.

Federal executions were all but halted after the government found it difficult to obtain the three-drug cocktail needed for such injections.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the legal battle would continue.

"While we are disappointed with the ruling, we will argue the case on its merits in the D.C. Circuit and, if necessary, the Supreme Court,” she said in a statement.

In a two-page statement, three justices — Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch — wrote they expected the Trump administration to prevail in court.

"The Court has expressed the hope that the Court of Appeals will proceed with 'appropriate dispatch,' and I see no reason why the Court of Appeals should not be able to decide this case, one way or the other, within the next 60 days," Alito said.

Federal government to resume capital punishment for first time since 2003Video

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The government had scheduled the execution of Danny Lee, who was convicted of killing a family of three — including an 8-year-old — on Monday. Wesley Ira Purkey had been scheduled to be put to death Dec. 13 for the murder and dismemberment of a 16-year-old girl and the slaying of an 80-year-old woman who suffered from polio.

Executions for Alfred Bourgeois, who beat, tortured and molested his 2-year-old daughter, and Dustin Lee Honken, who killed five people — including two children, were scheduled for January.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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