Nicole Lafond

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.

Articles by Nichole

Discussing his plan to incorporate border security legislation with a revitalization of the DREAM Act, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said President Donald Trump needs to talk with his chief of staff about what it would take to secure the U.S. border.

It’s not just about a wall, he said Wednesday on CNN.

I’ve been to the border a lot, a 2,200 mile wall is not necessary. Quite frankly I don’t think it makes a lot of border security sense,” he said. “We do need a wall in some places, but (Chief of Staff) John Kelly is probably the smartest guy I know on border security. He was the head of the southern command as a Marine. So my advice to the President would be, ‘You come up with the border security plan that’s reasonable that will secure the border.’”

If Trump can do that, Graham said he thinks he can “get Democrats on board” for legislation that would combine border security with the DREAM Act. 

The DREAM Act is a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors the opportunity to earn temporary and potentially permanent residency by attending college or joining the military. The legislation has been brought before Congress multiple times, but has never passed.

“We actually need to do both,” Graham said, referencing securing the U.S. border and helping protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients from deportation, a program that the administration just announced it would end in six months.

Lets do two things. Make a down payment on fixing a broken immigration system and give these kids the life they deserve. … Let somebody like John Kelly advise the President, and the President needs to own border security and (it) needs to be something we can pass,” he said. “And in return, Democrats, they are going to have to understand that most Americans want to treat these kids fairly but also want to secure the border. There’s a deal to be had here and the President’s got to help sell it.”

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If any of the 39 Microsoft employees who are recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) face legal challenges when the program ends, the tech company will defend them in court, President and CLO Brad Smith wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

He called the administration’s decision to end DACA, which protects undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors from deportation, is “a big step back for our entire country.”

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the decision to end the program in six months on Tuesday, he passed the buck to Congress to come up with a plan before the program ends.

Smith urged Congress to make passing legislation to protect DACA recipients its top priority this fall.

We say this even though Microsoft, like many other companies, cares greatly about modernizing the tax system and making it fairer and more competitive,” he said. “But we need to put the humanitarian needs of these 800,000 people on the legislative calendar before a tax bill. … In short, urgent DACA legislation is both an economic imperative and a humanitarian necessity.”

He called DACA recipients young people who are “part of our nation’s fabric” and said “they belong here.” He said Microsoft will work with other companies and the business community as a whole to “vigorously defend the legal rights” of all recipients.

“For the 39 Dreamers that we know of who are our employees, our commitment is clear. If Congress fails to act, our company will exercise its legal rights properly to help protect our employees,” he said.

If those Microsoft employees are deported, Smith said the company will back them up.

“If the government seeks to deport any one of them, we will provide and pay for their legal counsel. We will also file an amicus brief and explore whether we can directly intervene in any such case. In short, if Dreamers who are our employees are in court, we will be by their side,” he said.

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A Trump administration memo distributed Tuesday guided legislators to stick to the talking points that DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, recipients should prepare for deportation, according to multiple reports.

The Department of Justice officially announced Tuesday that it would end DACA in six months. The program, which was created by former President Barack Obama through executive order, protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors from deportation.

And while the White House and President Donald Trump are urging Congress to come up with a legislative solution for the issue, the talking points from the Trump administration told Congress that DACA recipients should “prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States.”

“The Department of Homeland Security urges DACA recipients to use the time remaining on their work authorizations to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States — including proactively seeking travel documentation — or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible,” the document said, which ABC obtained and confirmed with two congressional sources and one White House official. 

CNN was first to report on the memo. ABC News and NBC News also obtained the memo.

The guidance comes in contrast to public statements from the administration.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dodged questions about whether DACA recipients would be deported once the six month window closes and instead told reporters Tuesday the administration has “confidence that Congress will actually do their job.” She said that DACA recipients would not be a priority for deportation.

The President himself tweeted Tuesday night that if Congress fails to come up with a solution, he would “revisit” the issue in six months.

This post has been updated.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement that the White House will rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program instead of the President because it’s a legal issue, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Tuesday.

“It’s in large part a big part of the legal process. This was deemed illegal by, I think, just about every legal expert that you can find in the country, including many of (former President Barack) Obama’s own attorneys said that this was not (a) lawful program,” she said at a press briefing. “And therefore, it would be the Department of Justice to make a legal recommendation and that’s what they did.”

Sessions announced Tuesday morning that the administration would end the DACA program in six months in order to give Congress time to come up with a legislative solution for the immigration issue.

The White House said it made the decision this week because several states threatened to sue President Donald Trump if he didn’t make moves to end the program by Tuesday.

The DACA program was introduced through executive order by Obama in 2012 and is designed to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from deportation.

When asked again why Trump didn’t make the announcement himself — since he was so vocal about ending the program, but treating DACA recipients “with heart” — Sanders said the President has already “spoken about this numerous times in the past” and gave a near-identical response the second time.

“This was a legal issue because there was a court decision that had to be made with a timeline not placed— that the administration created, but a timeline that was created by the attorney generals in those states that were forcing this issue and this decision (was) to take place by today,” she said. “It was a legal decision and that would fall to the attorney general, and that’s why he would be the one making the announcement.” 

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A trade group that represents several big-name media outlets like The New York Times and USA Today told the National Rifle Association on Tuesday that it is encouraging violence against journalists in its most recent member recruitment video.

The trade group sent a letter to the NRA Tuesday, criticizing the advocacy group’s most recent aggressive video that appears to threaten the New York Times.

The letter was signed by Digital Content Next’s Senior Vice President Chris Pedigo, who called out the hypocrisy of disrespecting the First Amendment when the NRA was founded to staunchly defend the Second Amendment.

Pedigo said it’s the role of the press to “afflict the powerful,” including large organizations like the NRA.

Knowledge is gained through healthy debate. That’s why it’s your equal right to express your disagreement with viewpoints expressed by The New York Times or any other news organizations. The Constitution and its amendments are not ripe for cherry picking,” Pedigo wrote in the letter shared with TPM. “However, when you use such incendiary language as ‘we’re coming for you,’ it is our right to suggest in the strongest terms that your behavior is blatantly irresponsible as it may incite violence against journalists.”

He said it is “un-American” to threaten journalists and even invited NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch — to whom the letter was addressed — to a press freedom event at the Newseum this month so “you can reacquaint yourself with the importance of a free press as well as the real threats faced by journalists.”

Clearly, our Founding Fathers understood the value of a free press and sought to shield journalists from political pressure. As such, we encourage you to focus on defending the Second Amendment. We’ll take care of protecting the First,” he said.

The letter comes after the NRA published its second aggressive video last month.

The most recent video criticized the New York Times for its “pretentious, tone deaf assertion that you are, in any way, truth- or fact-based journalism,” Loesch said in the video. She said the NRA was going to “fisk” the newspaper and declared: “We’re coming for you.”

In June, the NRA released another video in which Loesch seemingly advocated for fighting the left and its “violence of lies with a clenched fist of truth.”

Civil rights groups as well as propaganda experts viewed the video as —at worst — a call for actual violence against Democrats and, at best, the use of violent rhetoric to recruit new members.

Read the full letter below:


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While Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “disagreed” with former President Barack Obama’s “unilateral action” on introducing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program through executive order in 2012, he said Tuesday that ending the program now is the “wrong approach to immigration policy.”

“I strongly believe that children who were illegally brought into this country through no fault of their own should not be forced to return to a country they do not know,” he said in a statement following Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement that the administration was ending the program that protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children from deportation.

“The 800,000 innocent young people granted deferred action under DACA over the last several years are pursuing degrees, starting careers, and contributing to our communities in important ways,” he said.

McCain, a longtime champion of increasing border security and reformation of the country’s immigration system, said that rescinding DACA at this time “is an unacceptable reversal of the promises and opportunities that have been conferred to these individuals,” he said.

“The federal government has a responsibility to defend and secure our borders, but we must do so in a way that upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation. I will be working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to devise and pass comprehensive immigration reform, which will include the DREAM Act,” he said, referencing legislation that was first introduced in the Senate in 2001 and has been brought back for debate several times, but has never passed.

The DREAM Act looked at granting conditional, and eventual permanent, residency to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors, by attending college or serving in the military. 

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A GOP sponsor of a bill that would protect undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children said Republicans like Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach are part of a “fringe” group who like to use immigrants as a scapegoat for economic struggles.

Appearing on MSNBC Tuesday just after Kobach gave an interview saying DACA recipients should go back to their home country and “get in line” before coming back to the U.S., Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) called Kobach’s opinions “regrettable.”

“It’s regrettable that some fringe elements in our politics have a sick obsession with scapegoating immigrants, for blaming them for all our economic struggles in this country,” he said, adding if that group wants a “culprit” for “stagnant economic growth,” Kobach and others should look at the country’s tax code and education system.

He also called out Kobach for blaming immigrants for struggles young Americans face when it comes to finding a job after college.

“It’s young Americans who overwhelmingly support the Dreamers’ cause and want to see Congress take action to afford them a permanent solution,” he said. “Why? Because they understand that these young people went to school with them, grew up in this country.”

Curbelo’s remarks came just minutes before Attorney General Jeff Sessions officially announced the DACA program would be “rescinded.” President Donald Trump made it clear early Tuesday that he expects Congress to come up with a legislative solution to the issue.

 Curbelo is one of several members of Congress who have already started crafting legislation to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

His bill, called Recognizing America’s Children Act, will reflect the idea that the majority of Americans believe dreamers are “de facto” Americans. He said he knows even “the President of the United States does not think that these young people should leave the country.”

He said his bill has bipartisan support and alluded that another Republican from the state of New Jersey had signed on as a co-sponsor for the bill.

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The wife of the U.S. Treasury secretary, Louise Linton, has called the Instagram picture she posted last month and the subsequent comments-section argument she got into with a follower “indefensible.”

In August, Linton posted on Instagram bragging about flying on a government plane to Kentucky with her husband, and she tagged high-end fashion brands — like Hermès, Tom Ford and Valentino — in her photo. Followers quickly posted comments on the post, calling Linton distasteful and questioning why taxpayers were funding a trip for her and her husband.

Linton fired back, attacking one specific commenter who she called “adorable” for thinking the trip to Kentucky was personal and claiming she and her husband “sacrifice” more than the average taxpayer.

“Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours,” she wrote in the comments.

She apologized through her publicist a day later and said in a recent interview with Washington Life magazine that she “concede(s) completely to the comments” of her critics.

“My post itself and the following response were indefensible. Period. I don’t have any excuses, nor do I feel any self-pity for the backlash I experienced,” she said. “I sincerely take ownership of my mistake. It’s clear that I was the one would was truly out of touch and my response was reactionary and condescending.”

The Scottish actress, who is married to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, acknowledged she had “no place” talking about sacrifice.

“My husband is very fortunate to be part of the government. It is a great honor and privilege and in no way is his work, or my part in this, any kind of sacrifice,” she said in the cover story interview, where she posed in a series of ball gowns. 

She said she understood why the post became newsworthy, admitted it was “boastful and materialistic” and said she made the post because she was trying to create “this public image that was elegant and stylish.” She said she regretted what she said and should have stuck with posting about the causes she cares about on social media, like animal rescues.

“I feel like I deserved the criticism and my response is ‘thanks for waking me up quickly and for turning me back in the right direction.’ My response is ‘I’m sorry,’” she said.

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Just hours before a scheduled press conference in which Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to announce the administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months, President Trump indicated called on Congress to come up with a legislative solution.

In a short tweet, Trump said called on Congress to “get ready to do your job” when it comes to DACA.

Politico was first to report that the Trump administration was planning to announce Tuesday that he will end DACA, a move that has seen bipartisan pushback.

A few GOP members of Congress, like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), said they would be supportive of the President’s plan to end the program if it meant the anticipated six-month delay in ending the program was put in place to give Congress time to come up with a solution to help the “dreamers,” undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors.

The DACA program was introduced through executive order by former President Barack Obama in 2012 and is designed to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from deportation.

The announcement coming Tuesday is in response to threats made by several states to sue Trump if he didn’t make moves to end the program by Tuesday.

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Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer will continue his career in front of the podium, but on a different stage.

While Spicer officially resigned in light of the hiring of quickly-ousted communications director Anthony Scaramucci in July, his last official day at the White House was Aug. 31.

Now he’s headed to a new speaker job with Worldwide Speakers Group, according to Politico. Spicer’s first paid speech will be on Sept. 11 in New York City at an annual gathering for Rodman and Renshaw bank.

“We are thrilled to provide Sean for our major trade association, corporate, university and public lecture series customers around the world,” a spokesperson for the organization told Politico in a statement. “With his well-known candor and extensive experience, Sean is uniquely qualified to help audiences understand how the political environment will impact them now and in the future.” 

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