Acting US Attorney General Will Not Defend Trump Immigration Order

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The acting U.S. Attorney General, Sally Yates, said she will not defend President Trump's executive order regarding immigration because she is not convinced it is "lawful," according to a letter.

"At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful," Yates wrote.

"Consequently, for as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so."

Trump's order, which went into effect Friday, affects immigration from seven countries that have predominantly Muslim populations, temporarily bans certain travelers and places indefinite restrictions on Syrian refugees.

The order sparked protests at airports across the country, as well as legal action. A federal judge issued a stay on part of the order regarding deportations.

Yates, who was nominated by former President Obama and confirmed in May 2015, wrote that the "order has now been challenged in a number of jurisdictions."

"My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts," she wrote. "In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right."

She also wrote that the Office of Legal Counsel's review of the order "does not address whether any policy choice embodied in an Executive Order is wise or just."

Before Trump signed the executive order, DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel offered the White House a "narrow" assessment of whether the orders were illegal on their face, according to a Justice Department official.

"Through administrations of both parties, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has consistently been asked by the White House to review Executive Orders for form and legality before they are issued. That review is limited to the narrow question of whether, in OLC's view, a proposed Executive Order is on its face lawful and properly drafted. OLC has continued to serve this traditional role in the present administration," the DOJ official said a statement.

The office's legal review is generally conducted without the involvement of DOJ leadership, and OLC's legal review "does not address the broader policy issues inherent in any executive order," the statement continued.

According to a DHS official, as of Sunday night, there were 735 encounters at ports of entry related to the executive order and no one remains detained.

In addition, there was confusion over whether or not the executive order applied to green card holders from the countries, until DHS Sec. John Kelly issued a statement Sunday, ordering that the entry of lawful permanent residents was in "the national interest," allowing those people to enter the U.S. absent any "significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare."

After Yates' letter was released, Trump Tweeted on Monday night that the "Democrats are delaying my cabinet picks for purely political reasons. They have nothing going but to obstruct. Now have an Obama A.G."

And on MSNBC, White House adviser Stephen Miller said that the acting attorney general's memo is a "demonstration of how politicized our legal system has become" and defended the president’s authority to determine who is allowed to enter the country.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended the implementation of the president’s immigration executive order during his press briefing Monday, telling ABC News' Cecilia Vega that the interests of national security outweighed the uncertainty that was caused to those who were stuck in limbo when they arrived in the U.S.

"Coming into this country is a privilege, and be able to come to America is a privilege not a right and it is our duty and it is the president's goal to make sure that everyone who comes to this country to the best of our ability is here because they want to enjoy this country and come in peacefully and so he takes that obligation extremely seriously," he said.

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Protests erupt from Boston to California as Confederate monument tensions boil over

Protests erupt from Boston to California as Confederate monument tensions boil overSpencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The weekend after a white nationalist rally collapsed into chaos in Charlottesville, Virginia, leading to the alleged murder of an anti-racism activist, protests erupted across the country against white supremacy, racism and the presence of Confederate monuments.

Boston, Massachusetts

Tens of thousands counterprotesting a rally purporting to be about free speech swarmed Boston on Saturday, leading to a few conflicts with police and widespread attention from traditional and social media.

A total of 33 arrests were made Saturday in Boston, primarily resulting from disorderly conduct and alleged assaults against police officers, the Boston Police Department said. Police indicated that some demonstrators were throwing rocks and bottles of urine, but that did not represent the majority of participants, according to Police Commissioner William Evans.

"99.9 percent of the people here were for the right reasons" and participated peacefully, Evans said.

Dallas, Texas

Thousands of demonstrators gathered around the area of Dallas City Hall Saturday at a rally calling for unity, according to ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.

More than a dozen activists, politicians and faith leaders spoke prior to a candlelight vigil, the affiliate reported.

Tensions were high near Confederate War Memorial Park, where calls have been growing to remove statues commemorating Civil War veterans who fought for the Confederacy, WFAA-TV reported.

Cotton candy and caramel apples for sale for $3 in the middle of this protest against Dallas' Confederate War Memorial. pic.twitter.com/SdWNhGmTP1

— Jason Whitely (@JasonWhitely) August 20, 2017

Monuments commemorating the Confederacy on public land "must be and will be removed," Dallas Mayor Dwaine Caraway said at a Friday press conference, which featured black members of Dallas's City Council, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Kevin Felder, one of the City Council members, said "taxpayer dollars should not support vestiges of racism and white supremacy," in reference to the statues, while speaking at Friday's press conference.

Five people were detained during Saturday’s rally and then released without charges, the Dallas Police Department told ABC News.

Memphis, Tennessee

Six demonstrators were arrested in Memphis following a rally to remove a monument to Nathan Bedford Forrest, a slavetrader and lieutenant general who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, according to ABC affiliate WATN-TV.

The monument has become a flashpoint of tension between anti-racism activists, who covered it with anti-racist signs on Saturday, and those who seek to protect the history of the Confederacy.

Gene Andrews, a caretaker for Nathan Bedford Forrest's boyhood home and a participant in the white nationalist rally that took place in Charlottesville last week, told the Tennessean newspaper that tensions over the monuments were building.

"I think people have had enough," Andrews told the paper. "Somewhere there’s going to be a line drawn. And if it’s a war that’s coming, so be it."

Our beloved @tamisawyer and other activists calling on @MayorMemphis remove Confederate statues. #TakeEmDown901 pic.twitter.com/bwjtTmEimp

— Broderick Greer (@BroderickGreer) August 16, 2017

Atlanta, Georgia

Hundreds of groups gathered in Centennial Olympic Park on Saturday in Atlanta to march against racism and hate, according to ABC affiliate WSB-TV.

The march ended at the tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the affiliate reported.

Hundreds of anti-racism marchers quietly filing into Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta. #Charlottesville pic.twitter.com/gTApyUpWbI

— Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) August 20, 2017

Indianapolis, Indiana

Anthony Ventura, a 30-year-old man, was arrested after police said he damaged the Confederate statue with a hammer, according to ABC affiliate WRTV.

Laguna Beach, California

In Laguna Beach on Saturday, a group of about 300 demonstrators met for a pre-emptive response to a far-right rally planned for that day, the Los Angeles Times reported. At the rally, participants planned to call attention to victims of crimes committed by immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

Thank you to Saturday's rally at Main Beach for staying peaceful while expressing your First Amendment rights. #LagunaBeach pic.twitter.com/mufznrEBIL

— Laguna Beach Police (@LagunaBeachPD) August 19, 2017

Saturday’s gathering of counterprotesters, which was set up to show solidarity and strength, was officially called “From Charlottesville to Laguna Beach: We Stand Together.” Laguna Beach Mayor Toni Iseman helped organize the event and spoke to the crowd on Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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