“Warren Buffett on Immigration Reform: Buffett feels that immigrants (including undocumented ones) have been and continue to be a key part of our prosperity — not a part of the problem.“

https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/09/29/warren-buffett-on-immigration-reform.aspx

Matthew Frankel reports for The Motley Fool:

“Immigration reform has been a hot-button issue long before President Trump pledged to build a wall along our border. And while there’s certainly an argument to be made that we need to do a better job of controlling illegal immigration, there’s also a strong case to be made that immigrants are a big driving force behind America’s growth — past, present, and future.

Warren Buffett has been very outspoken in recent years about America and its amazing economic story. Not only does Buffett feel that immigrants have led us to where we are today, but he also thinks that immigrants are an essential component of our country’s future success.

Here’s what Warren Buffett thinks of immigrants
In a nutshell, Buffett feels that immigrants (including undocumented ones) have been and continue to be a key part of our prosperity — not a part of the problem. “This country has been blessed by immigrants,” Buffett said in February at Columbia University. “You can take them from any country you want, and they’ve come here and they found something that unleashed the potential that the place that they left did not, and we’re the product of it.”

Referring to Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard, both of whom were immigrants themselves, Buffett said, “If it hadn’t been for those two immigrants, who knows whether we’d be sitting in this room.”

In his most recent letter to Berkshire Hathaway’s (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) shareholders, Buffett specifically mentioned immigrants as one of the major components of America’s success story. “From a standing start 240 years ago — a span of time less than triple my days on earth — Americans have combined human ingenuity, a market system, a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants, and the rule of law to deliver abundance beyond any dreams of our forefathers.”

On a pathway to citizenship
Buffett is an outspoken Democrat who actively campaigned for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Buffett doesn’t want to deport millions of illegal immigrants who are currently in the United States.

In a 2015 interview with Fox Business, Buffett said

People should be able to earn citizenship who are here. You know, I do not think we should deport millions of people. So, I think we should have a real path to citizenship.

Buffett was then asked specifically about the DREAM Act and its 800,000 minors who are in the country illegally and now face an uncertain future after the end of DACA, from the perspective of a successful American businessman. Buffett replied:

It is a question of being a human being not really a businessman. Immigrants came, our forefathers came as immigrants, they got here anyway they could. And who knows what I would have done if I were in some terrible situation in a country and wanted to come here…a great percentage of them are good citizens. I would have a path to citizenship for them, I would not send them back.

 

On immigration policy and reform
As we all know, the immigration debate has been going on for a long time. And Buffett’s stance hasn’t changed much over the past several years. In a 2013 interview with ABC’s This Week, Buffett said:

I think we should have a more logical immigration policy. It would mean we would attract a lot of people, but we would attract the people we want to attract in particular — in terms of education, tens or hundreds of thousands of people. We enhance their talents and have them stick around here.

Buffett went on to say that any reform package should “certainly offer [undocumented immigrants] the chance to become citizens,” and one main reason for doing so would be to deepen the talent pool of the labor force.

Buffett’s stance on immigration in a nutshell
Warren Buffett believes that allowing immigrants who are already in the country to stay and pursue citizenship is not only the right thing to do, but is essential to America’s continued economic prosperity. Buffett certainly sees the need for immigration reform, as most Americans of all political affiliations do, but wants to encourage and simplify the legal pathways to immigration.”

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Buffet speaks simple truth: Immigrants, both documented and undocumented are not threats, but rather are a necessary ingredient for America’s greatness. We need to bring law-abiding undocumented individuals into our society in some type of legal, work authorized status. We also need substantial across the board increases in legal immigration, so that in the future the immigrants we need can come through the legal system (or wait in a realistic line) rather than coming through an underground system and working and living in the shadows.

The lies, misrepresentations, and false narratives being peddled by Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Miller, Kobach, Cotton, Perdue, King, Goodlatte, Labrador, the so called “Freedom” Caucus, and the rest of their White Nationalist restrictionist cronies are a path to national disaster. Removing existing non-criminal migrants who happen to be working here in undocumented status is a colossal waste of limited Government resources that actually hurts our country in numerous ways.

Time to stand up against the restrictionist, White Nationalist, xenophobic, anti-American blather. Demand that your Congressional representatives back sane, humane immigration reform that takes care of those already here and recognizes their great contributions while appropriately and significantly expanding future legal immigration opportunities so that we don’t keep repreating our mistakes over and over.

Let’s be honest about it. If the time, money, and resources that the U.S. Government is currently spending on the counterproductive aspects of immigration enforcement and inhumane immigration detention were shifted into constructive areas, there would be no “disaster relief crisis” in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands right now, and we’d have more money to spend on heath care, job training and retraining, infrastructure, addressing the opioid crisis, and many more legitimate national priorities!

PWS

09-30-17

THE REAL HUMAN COSTS — AND THE COSTS TO OUR HUMAN VALUES & NATIONAL CONSCIENCE — OF TRUMP’S BOGUS REFUGEE BAN!

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/somali-refugees-american-dream-hold-trump-ban-debated-49866974

Tom Odula reports for the AP from Nairobi, Kenya, where the unnecessary human suffering caused by the Trump Administration is a daily reminder of how our national soul was diminished by Trump’s election:

“Somali refugee Asho Manangara Ibrahim has a dream. She wants to educate herself and her children in the United States. For 10 years she went through a rigorous process of interviews and screening and finally she was cleared to travel to the United States.

But Ibrahim’s hopes have been dashed. The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Trump administration to maintain its restrictive policy on refugees. The court agreed to an administration request to block a lower court ruling that would have eased the ban on refugees and allowed up to 24,000 refugees to enter the country before the end of October.

Ibrahim, a 30-year-old mother of four children, escaped war-torn Somalia in 2007 after three men forced their way into her house and assaulted her.

She trekked for three days with her 2-year-old daughter to reach the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp in neighboring Kenya where she stayed for three years. She was relocated to Kakuma refugee camp where she learned that she could apply to be resettled in a third country. By the time she was cleared to travel to the U.S. on July 19, she had three other children from a second marriage.

After years of patiently waiting to be resettled, the news that she may not be allowed into the U.S. because of the Trump administration restrictions has devastated her.

“I feel shocked. I forget things now,” she told The Associated Press last month through an interpreter.

She and her three daughters and small son pass their days in a makeshift home of mud walls, sticks and battered sheets. The children sit on woven plastic rugs covering a cracked-earth floor amid the barest of possessions: plastic water jugs, metal basins, a simple stove.

Ibrahim is one of about 500 people among the hundreds of thousands in Kenyan refugee camps who are ready for resettlement in the U.S. but are now stranded, said Jennifer Sime, senior vice president with the International Rescue Committee, an organization that helps resettlements.

The fear and rhetoric that refugees are a security threat or terrorists looking to infiltrate the U.S. are unfounded, Sime said.

“The probability of dying from an act of terrorism committed by a refugee is unbelievably low. Refugees have not perpetrated terrorist acts,” she said. The chance of being murdered in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is one in 3.64 billion a year, she added, citing 2016 figures from the Cato Institute.

Globally about 45,000 refugees have been approved for resettlement in the U.S. and 2,000 are ready to board planes but this has been put on hold, Sime said. Many gave away their hard-earned belongings to start a new life, she said.

Tuesday’s court order was not the last word on the travel policy that President Donald Trump rolled out in January. The Supreme Court justices are scheduled to hear arguments on Oct. 10 on the legality of the bans on refugees anywhere in the world and on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries.

It’s unclear, though, what will be left for the court to decide. The 90-day travel ban lapses in late September and the 120-day refugee ban will expire a month later.

The Trump administration has yet to say whether it will seek to renew the bans, make them permanent or expand the travel ban to other countries.

For now Ibrahim, like many in limbo, must wait to see if her American dream of education for her family will become a reality.”

***************************************

Maybe, moral leadership doesn’t end wars or prevent famine. But, we have graphically demonstrated over the past four decades the inability to solve problems by use of military force. Moral leadership is still a useful thing to have. And, by electing Trump and his intellectually shallow, unqualified, amoral minions we have diminished ourselves in the world’s eyes!

PWS

09-15-17

WELCOMING REFUGEES SHOULD BE A “NO BRAINER” FOR U.S. — What Does That Say About What’s Between The Ears Of Pols Who Vilify Them & Seek To Slash Legal Admissions?

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/14/opinion/welcoming-refugees-trump-america.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region®ion=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region

David Miliband writes in the NYT:

“Many Americans, and the American government itself, have expressed shock at the treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The Trump administration has also said it is concerned about persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East. For his part, the president has said he wants to defend the rights of the Castro regime’s opponents in Cuba.

Yet all these protestations will be for nothing if, as the deadline approaches for the White House to make its determination about the number of refugees to be admitted next year, the administration decides to decimate the United States refugee resettlement program. At stake are not just the lives of tens of thousands of victims of war and persecution who dream of starting a new life in America; at risk also are American values, the United States’ reputation and American interests around the world.

Every year, the president decides a refugee admission number. Since the 1980 Refugee Act, the average annual admissions ceiling under both Republican and Democratic presidents has exceeded 95,000. For the fiscal year 2017, President Barack Obama decided the number should be 110,000, against the backdrop of a global refugee population that numbers some 22.5 million. President Trump’s two “travel ban” executive orders already intended to cut the 2017 number by more than 50 percent.

Now a decision is expected on the number for fiscal year 2018. Inside the administration, there is a debate between fact and fiction.

The facts are that the vetting for entry to the United States as a refugee is tougher than for any other means of arrival. Not one of the three million refugees to the United States since 1980 has committed a lethal act of terror on American soil. The Cato Institute has calculated that a United States resident has a 1 in 3.64 billion chance of being killed by a refugee.

 

Meanwhile, some 60,000 Iraqis who have supported the American military and diplomatic effort in Iraq — as, for example, interpreters — are waiting to know if the promise of safe passage to the United States is to be honored.

To put the reduced number of admissions the Trump administration will permit for 2018 in a larger context, the king of Jordan, an American ally, has said that his country of some 9.5 million inhabitants is at a breaking point, with 650,000 registered refugees and, by some estimates, as many more unregistered. Last year, the United States helped resettle more than 19,000 of those most vulnerable Syrians from Jordan. Besides relieving pressure there, this crucially countered the Islamic State’s narrative that America will never offer dignity to Muslims.

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Some more facts. Providing sanctuary is not charity: Researchers have found that over a 20-year period, those who were admitted to the United States as refugees between the ages of 18 and 45 (and more than half of refugees are under 18) will pay $21,000 more in taxes than they will receive in benefits.

American leadership is a vital part of the story. This time last year, the Obama administration’s response to the refugee crises led to a doubling of refugee admissions pledges by wealthy nations. This year, America’s retreat from its commitments has contributed to a nearly 60 percent fall in the global resettlement total so far this year.

The question is whether the Trump administration cares about the facts. Because fiction has its backers. The fiction that the vetting is done by the United Nations, not the United States. That refugees are economic migrants in disguise. That America bears an unfair share of the global burden.

The reverse is true: According to Amnesty International, the world’s top 10 refugee-hosting countries, places like Uganda, account for only 2.5 percent of global income. Uganda has received more than 600,000 refugees alone from the war in South Sudan since 2016. When I asked its leaders in June if they were going to put up the shutters, their answer was simple: “It could have been us. These are our fellow human beings. We cannot turn them away.”

If Uganda can welcome refugees, a country like the United States has no reason to upend a great national tradition. From among its refugee population, America has benefited from entrepreneurs like Andrew Grove and Sergey Brin, entertainers like Gloria Estefan and public servants like Madeleine Albright.

The people waiting to know their fate are from every walk of life and every station in society: students, factory workers, accountants, widows. What they have in common is that they have lost everything, including in some cases their husbands or wives, sons or daughters. They have heard the professions of concern and looked to the United States as a beacon of hope. Now they want to know if the words mean anything.

The test for this administration is simple. Set a refugee resettlement number around the past level of multiple administrations of 75,000, and this will show that the White House has a head as well as a heart. Gut the refugee program, which the Senate, in the last week, again funded, and the administration will lose any claim to strategy or to humanity.

Crocodile tears are the worst aspect of diplomacy. Real lives depend on this fateful decision.

David Miliband (@DMiliband), a former British foreign secretary, is the president and chief executive of the International Rescue Committee.”

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Historically, refugee admissions have been an area of strong bipartisan agreement. We should not let White Nationalist, xenophobic, “know nothings” like Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller diminish America’s greatness with their false messages of hate and fear masked as bogus national security and economic concerns.

PWS

09-15-17

COURTSIDE COMMENTARY/ANALYSIS: AG Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions Might Be A Clown 🤡 — But His White Nationalist Plan To Destroy The American Justice System Is No Joke — He Has Already Done Untold Damage To Our Country & Our Rights — And, He And His White Supremacist Buddy Steve Bannon, The Alt-Right, And Other Haters Are Just Getting Started On Their Plan To Turn America Into A “Whites Only” Paradise!

Three articles from today show the “clear and present danger” to American democracy, our national security, and our fundamental values stemming from Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions and his radical right — some would say fascist is more accurate — cabal.

While Trump increasingly appears to be a looney incompetent functioning primarily in the early morning “tweetosphere,” Sessions & Co. know a thing or two about how to take over and sabotage government of the people, by the people, and for the people. (Ironically, the “Party of Lincoln” has morphed into  the “anti-Lincoln,” opposed to equality, generosity, democracy, and inclusion.)

First, Dana Milbank in the Washington Post describes “Gonzo the Clown’s” ludicrous attempts to use and abuse criminal law to suppress free public expression of opinions:

“Did you hear the one about Jeff Sessions?

I’d like to tell you, but I can’t. You see, it’s illegal to laugh at the attorney general, the man who on Tuesday morning announced that the 800,000 “dreamers” — immigrants brought here illegally as children — could soon be deported. If you were to find my Sessions jest funny, I would be an accessory to mirth.

This is no joke, because liberal activist Desiree Fairooz is now being put on trial a second time by the Justice Department — Jeff Sessions’s Justice Department — because she laughed at Sessions during his confirmation hearing. Specifically, she laughed at a line about Sessions “treating all Americans equally under the law” (which is, objectively, kind of funny).”

Yeah, I guess what Sessions, a well-established liar, probably a perjurer, really meant was “all Americans except Blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans, immigrants, migrants, Dreamers, gays, lesbians, transgendered, bisexual, criminal defendants, Democrats, non-Christians, protestors, non-GOP women, and the poor.” Read the rest of Dana’s article here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/apparently-its-illegal-to-laugh-at-jeff-sessions/2017/09/05/86b6e48a-9278-11e7-aace-04b862b2b3f3_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-b%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.c6b057add449

But, the following list of hostile actions that Sessions has already taken at Justice, compiled by CNN’s Gregory Krieg, are no laughing matter:

“*Directed federal prosecutors to pursue the stiffest possible charge in every single criminal case — potentially triggering draconian mandatory minimum sentences the Obama administration tried to avoid on fairness grounds for non-violent offenders.

*Withdrawn an Obama administration directive offering protections for transgender students who wanted to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

*Reversed an Obama DOJ order that the federal Bureau of Prisons back off new deals with private facilities. “I direct the Bureau to return to its previous approach,” Sessions said in a memo citing concerns that the “future needs of the federal correctional system” would be “impaired.”

*Launched a broad-based effort to reduce federal oversight of local police departments, like those put under increased scrutiny following investigations into alleged abuses. The deputy attorney general and associate attorney general were ordered to review lots of things, including all “contemplated consent decrees.”

*In a move criticized by voting rights advocates, asked state election officials in June to lay out their processes for purging voter rolls of individuals who have become ineligible due to, among other reasons, “death or change of residence.”

*Put in place a policy that could pave the way for an increase in a certain kind of civil asset forfeiture, a controversial practice — in this case a joint federal, state and local version that some departments were accused of using to get around state law — that allows police to seize money or property from suspects who haven’t been convicted of a crime. (The DOJ says it has put new safeguards in place to prevent abuse.)

And more.
Consider Trump’s plan to end DACA. When it came down to it, the President steered clear of the spotlight and let Sessions be the public face of a decision officials from both parties have described as unfair or even cruel.
It’s not the first time Trump has been happy enough — or detached enough, depending on your assessment of the his mindset on these issues — to defer to Sessions or, in cases where executive action is required, follow his lead. Where Trump is primarily focused on how he’s covered in the press and how his actions play with “the base,” officials like Sessions and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have shown themselves to be laser-focused on very specific policy points.

. . . .

By his side? None other than a once anonymous aide turned top Trump White House official: Stephen Miller.”

Read Gregory’s complete article here:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/06/politics/jeff-sessions-donald-trump-daca-policy/index.html

And, in the Washington Post,  Sarah Posner puts it all in scary context by describing the Bannon-led White Nationalist’s larger program to turn America into a White Theo-Fascist State:

“Now that he is out of the White House, Bannon’s ambitions, if anything, appear to seek an even more enduring footprint on Republican politics. His grand plan is to remake American conservatism, by shifting it away from its long-standing “three-legged stool” coalition of tax-cutters, defense hawks and the religious right. His strategy is to peel away Christian conservatives from that coalition, and to build a new coalition with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, far-right nationalists, in order to make the Trump revolution permanent, even after Trump has left the White House.
Consider the headline on a prominently placed “exclusive” published on the site late last night, which heaps the most coveted of Breitbartian praise on Moore: “Judge Roy Moore Embodies Jeff Sessions.” In an interview with Breitbart, Moore says he shares Sessions’s views on immigration and trade, and that he, too, is a “very strict constructionist of the Constitution.” He says he favors impeaching federal judges, even Supreme Court justices, and singles out Obergefell v. Hodges , the landmark 2015 case legalizing same-sex marriage, as warranting impeachment.
Bannon hinted at some of his designs in an interview with me last year. He said that, without the religious right, his base alone lacks the numbers to “to ever compete against the progressive left.”
In Moore, Bannon has found an unabashed proponent of “biblical law.” Bannon doesn’t appear to care much about “biblical law,” but Moore’s overheated depiction of the overreach of the federal government dovetails with the Bannon goal of “the deconstruction of the administrative state.”
Indeed, the Breitbart-Moore alliance is the most vivid example to date of the anti-government, white-nationalist Breitbart forces teaming up with a candidate with shared views on issues such as immigration and the role of the federal government, but which are driven by outwardly theocratic aspirations. Bannon is not seen as an overtly religious figure, but he has actively sought the religious right’s imprimatur for purely political purposes.
As Politico reports, Bannon himself is now using Breitbart to help “orchestrate the push” for Moore’s candidacy in high-level meetings with influential conservative groups.
There is a good deal of overlap between Bannon’s depiction of Trumpism as a revolt against global elites and Moore’s own rhetoric. Moore has long railed at elitists and “tyrannical” government overreach, albeit from a theocratic point of view. He first became a national hero to the religious right over a decade ago, after he was stripped of his post as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for defying a federal court order to remove a 2.6-ton Ten Commandments monument from the state courthouse, because it violated the separation of church and state.
Undeterred, Moore ran unsuccessfully for governor and then again for his state’s top judicial post, regaining his seat in 2012. After a federal court struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage in early 2015, Moore pointedly told Alabama’s governor that complying with the federal court order could violate God’s law.
Although Breitbart hardly teems with religious language, Moore shares its conspiratorially dark vision of America, and particularly America’s perceived enemies. When I saw him speak in 2011, when Barack Obama was still president, Moore maintained: “Our government is infiltrated with communists, we’ve got Muslims coming in and taking over where we should be having the say about our principles.” On immigration, he said the government was failing “to protect against invasions” and was “letting anybody come in!”
Ultimately, the Breitbart-Moore alliance offers a hint at where the Trump base is headed. If Bannon has his way, it will evolve into a kind of coalition of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim white nationalists seeking to disrupt the GOP from within by joining forces with the Christian right, long an essential component of the GOP base. Whether or not Moore wins, if Bannon can keep pushing the Trumpist base in that direction by continuing to solidify that coalition, we can only guess at the consequences that will have for the GOP over the long term.”

Consequences for the GOP, Sarah? What about the consequences for the world and humanity of turning America into a White Fascist State incorporating the worst parts of Christian mythology, while leaving the kind, merciful, inclusive, and forgiving message of Jesus Christ in the dust?

In the first place, fortunately, only a minority of Americans share the Bannon-Sessions White Nationalist dream. So, making it come to fruition has to involve suppressing and overcoming by unlawful or unconstitutional means the will and rights of those of us in the majority.

That’s an old Bolshevik trick. And, indeed, Bannon is a self-proclaimed “Leninist revolutionary” — Sessions is his Trotsky. (Can’t really picture Stephen Miller as Stalin —  but his ability to concoct lies at a moment’s notice and his cold lack of humanity or any discernible decency or human values, along with his disdain for representative government and love of the dictatorial model certainly fits “Papa Joe” to a tee. You could definitely imagine Miller as leader of a Trump “personality cult” in a fascist regime.)

Read Sarah’s complete article here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/09/05/steve-bannons-grand-disruptive-designs-are-only-getting-started/?utm_term=.80ddcfa9f294

But, that’s not all folks! Intentionally cruel, racist, and gonzo as Sessions’s grand plan of “ethnic cleansing” of Dreamers might be, it would actually cost the US economy an astounding  $215 billion, and that’s a conservative estimate that doesn’t even factor in the billions that would be wasted by DHS and EOIR in arresting and deporting America’s future stars (basically, because they aren’t White. As I’ve said before, no sane person thinks we’d be having this orchestrated “immigration debate” if the migrant population were predominantly white, English as a first language, Christians)!

According to Vanessa Wang in Buzzfeed:

“Reversing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could cost the economy $215 billion in lost GDP and cost the federal government $60 billion in lost revenue over ten years, according to the libertarian think tank the Cato Institute.
Ike Brannon, a visiting fellow at Cato, wrote in a recent blog post: “It is important to note that these estimates are conservative, as DACA recipients will likely end up being more productive than their current salaries indicate, as they complete their degrees and gain experience in the workplace. Nor does this analysis factor in the enforcement cost of physically deporting recipients should the program be eliminated, which we believe would be significant.”
California, New York and Florida would bear the greatest costs, according to the Cato Institute’s analysis.
The New American Economy — a coalition of business leaders and mayors “who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today” — estimated that the DACA-eligible population earns almost $19.9 billion in total income annually, contributes more than $1.4 billion to federal taxes, more than $1.6 billion to state and local taxes and represent almost $16.8 billion in spending power.
“Despite the rhetoric claiming undocumented youths are a drain on the U.S. economy, 90% of the DACA-eligible population who are at least 16 years old are employed” and contribute meaningfully to the economy, the coalition wrote in a brief.
“Ending DACA will disrupt hundreds of thousands of promising careers and cost the US economy dearly,” said John Feinblatt, President of New American Economy in a statement on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security said it would shut down DACA in six months, potentially giving Congress some time for a legislative solution. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said there are DREAMers “who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don’t know another home. And so I really do believe there that there needs to be a legislative solution.”
“Now it’s imperative for Congress to do what’s right and economically smart – protect the young achievers who know no home but America,” said Feinblatt.”

That’s right folks! The Bannon-Sessions White Nationalists would be willing to damage our economy to the the tune of probably a quarter of a trillion dollars for the sheer joy of ruining human lives and entrenching their White Power structure. In most other contexts, there would be a name for such conduct: “domestic terrorism!”

Here’s a link to Vanessa’s article:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/venessawong/scrapping-daca-could-cost-the-economy-as-much-as-215-billion?utm_term=.xdw9nKYOa#.liAZ2w8Y5

Finally, a number folks have noted that DACA is a DHS/USCIS program. So, why was the Attorney General, who pointedly was stripped of his immigration deportation functions and responsibilities by the Act creating DHS, out there acting like he is the deporter-in-chief and administrator of the DHS (which, by statute, he no longer is.)

 

Well, not suprisingly, I’m not in the Trump Administration’s “inner circle.” So, who knows for sure.

But, to me two things were evident. First, Donald Trump is a coward who didn’t have the guts to be the front man for his own inhumane policy — particularly since Sessions contradicted Trump’s public assurances that he “loved Dreamers,” understood their plight, and that they had “nothing to fear” from him and his Administration because he was going to come up with a”great solution” to their situation.

Second, Sessions has never accepted his secondary statutory and Constitutional role in immigration enforcement. With the weak Gen. Kelly in charge of DHS, Sessions simply pretended like the AG was back at the helm of immigration enforcement. After all, Sessions has spent a lifetime attempting to turn back the clock. This is just the first time that he has gotten away with it without any real opposition.

Kelly was a “bobblehead,” meekly agreeing with Sessions’s most outrageous, unlawful, and inhumane statements. He even lent his name to an infamous Sessions-Miller contrived “letter” asking the President for Travel Ban 2.0 and citing facially bogus statistics and disingenuous arguments attempting to tie individuals from Muslim countries to unrelated terrorist threats. In other words, on immigration enforcement, Kelly’s “substance” was about 1/16″ deep, and I’m being generous.

Obviously, killing the Dreamers’ future while heaping scorn on them was Session’s version of “Super Bowl Sunday:” a chance to publicly reclaim the role of deporter-in-chief, while inflicting gratuitous harm on a gallant but vulnerable (largely non-White) group of young people, and tossing in some gratuitous racist insults and nativist lies in the process. For a guy who has spent a lifetime heretofore unsuccessfully trying to “get back to Jim Crow” (where not coincentally, bogus “rule of law” arguments and “state’s rights” were used by Sessions’s Alabama antecedents to deny Black Americans not only their constitutional rights but in many cases their very lives in the process) this had to be “hog heaven.” Let’s not forget that Sessions has endorsed the blatantly racist and anti-semitic “Immigration Act of 1924” as a model for White Nationalist restrictionist policies. See, e.g.http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/09/05/jeff_sessions_praise_of_1924_eugenics_immigration_law_remains_insane.html

I’m sure Gonzo pines for the “good old days” of the Chinese Exclusion Laws when America knew how to use the “rule of law”  and just how to treat the folks who built the trans-continental railroad, most of California, lots of New York, and points in between. Declare them to be an “inferior race” — a threat to our cultural integrity —  and throw them out before they can displace the White Americans who exploited their ingenuity and hard labor.

Also, make no mistake about it, if Sessions were able to carry out his gonzo plans to deport Dreamers to foreign lands that most of them have hardly lived in, some will actually die in the process. But, hey, the lives of non-Whites are just “collateral damage” in the Bannon-Sessions world vision.

Sessions is part of our nation’s racist, White Supremacist past that we will need to get beyond to continue to prosper as a country and to lead the free world. The Dreamers can help us do that! The only question for the rest of us is what legal channels are available to move Sessions and his cohorts out of the way so that the Dreamers, along with other immigrants and minorities, can help lead us to a brighter future as a proudly diverse, humane, and powerful nation.

Liz Warren was right! America is better than Jeff Sessions! It’s time we showed it!  

PWS

09-05-17

 

 

BUZZFEED NEWS: Gonzo’s Bogus Attempt To Link Dreamers With Terrorism & His Racial Slurs Directed Against Some Of America’s Finest Young People Continue To Draw Fire!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/dominicholden/jeff-sessions-terrorism-in-daca-speech?utm_term=.wwqMWLRLKn#.wwqMWLRLKn

Dominic Holden reports:

“When US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on Tuesday, he didn’t merely argue that former President Obama’s immigration policy was legally flawed.

Sessions, among a menu of reasons, claimed failing to crack down on undocumented immigrants increases the risk of crime and terrorism.

Critics quickly scorched Sessions for linking undocumented immigrants with bomb-plotting terrorists in the same speech, saying that data don’t support his claim, and that Sessions’ reasoning reveals ill motives behind cancelling a program that protected some young immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.

“There is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws,” Sessions said from behind a lectern at the Department of Justice. “Enforcing the law saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers, and prevents human suffering. Failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence, and even terrorism.”

But Frank Sharry, executive director of immigration reform group America’s Voice, shot back on a press call that Sessions’ comments were “a distortion and a lie that is regularly spewed by talk radio.”

“That was right out of the nativist playbook,” he said.
Twitter users also jumped aboard, saying the claims amounted to a baseless, racist smear of so-called DREAMers who came to the country as kids.”

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Read the rest of the story, including more Sessions whoppers and attempts by DOJ to cover up by citing inapplicable data at the link.

Dreamers are the real great Americans and our future. Sessions is a person who has contributed little, if anything, of lasting value to America over a lenthy career on the public dole. He has consistently worked against immigrants, deepened divisions, and seeks to return us to the Jim Crow era of which he is a product.

Liz was right.

PWS

09-05-17

 

 

SLATE: “Jeff Sessions Spews Nativist Lies While Explaining Why Trump Is Killing DACA!”

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/09/05/sessions_daca_speech_was_full_of_nativist_lies.html

Mark Joseph Stern writes:

“Many Republicans have made clear in recent weeks that they favor the basic policy DACA enshrined, and merely oppose its executive implementation. Sessions, who helped persuade Trump to kill the program, is not one of those Republicans. In his remarks, he directly denounced the very idea of granting any kind of amnesty to undocumented individuals brought to the U.S. as children through no fault of their own. At the heart of his speech were two lies, straight from Breitbart, explaining why DACA must end:

The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences. It also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.

Let’s examine these falsehoods in turn.

First: Sessions claimed that DACA “contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border.” This allegation, often touted by far-right xenophobes, is false. A study published in International Migration, a peer-reviewed academic journal, found that the surge in unaccompanied minors actually began in 2008. (DACA was announced in 2012.) The authors pointed to a host of factors contributing to this phenomenon, including escalating gang violence in Central America, as well as drug cartels’ willingness to target and recruit children in Mexico. But the study found that DACA was not one of these factors. Its authors concluded that “the claim that DACA is responsible for the increase in the flow of unaccompanied alien children is not supported by the data.”

Even without the study, it should be obvious that DACA played no role in this surge of unaccompanied minors because the theory itself makes no sense. Undocumented children who arrived in the United States following DACA’s implementation would not qualify for the program. Only those individuals who “have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007” and “were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012” could receive DACA status. Why would parents send their children to the U.S. to participate in a program in which they are not legally permitted to participate?

Second: Sessions alleged that DACA has “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.” This line is obviously drawn from the false narrative that immigrants steal jobs from American citizens. There is no actual evidence that DACA recipients have taken jobs from any Americans, let alone “hundreds of thousands.” There is, however, strong evidence that killing DACA will significantly damage the economy—a fact that Sessions conveniently omitted from his speech.

Once DACA is fully rescinded, its former recipients will lose their work permits (and thus their jobs) and face possible deportation. According to the left-leaning Center for American Progress, about 30,000 people will lose their jobs each month as their DACA status expires. The loss of these workers could reduce the national GDP by $280 billion to $433 billion over the next decade. According to estimates by the libertarian Cato Institute, DACA’s demise will cost employers $2 billion and the federal government $60 billion. Trump’s decision to end DACA isn’t a job-saver; it’s a job-killer.

Toward the end of his speech, Sessions praised the RAISE Act, a Republican-backed bill that would tightly curtail immigration into the U.S. Sessions claimed the act would “produce enormous benefits for our country.” In reality, the measure marks an effort to return America to an older immigration regime that locked out racial and ethnic minorities. Sessions has praised the 1924 law that created this regime—a law whose chief author declared that his act was meant to end “indiscriminate acceptance of all races.” On Tuesday, Sessions revived this principle in slightly more polite language.

The attorney general’s utterly gratuitous defamation of young Latino immigrants tells you everything you need to know about the decision to kill DACA. Before Tuesday, the Trump administration seemed eager to frame its DACA decision as respect for constitutional separation of powers: Congress, it insisted, not the president, must set immigration policy. But after Sessions’ speech, it is difficult to view this move as anything other than an attempt to implement the white nationalism that Trump and Sessions campaigned on.”

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Read the full report at the link.

It shouldn’t be news by now that “Gonzo Apocalypto” is a lifelong racist and White Nationalist totally unfit to serve as Attorney General. That’s what Liz Warren and others said during the confirmation process when Sessions’s GOP “fellow travelers” were so eager to brush over his un-American record and his anti-American views.

Latinos, Asians, Blacks, Jews and other American minorities need to unite with those of us who don’t want a return to the “Jim Crow” American South of the earlier 20th Century (which spawned the likes of Sessions and where the white GOP population is still racially and culturally tone deaf) behind some good candidates, get out the vote, and throw the White Nationalists and their GOP enablers and apologists (guys like Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and most of the rest of the today’s GOP legislators who take responsibility for nothing while encouraging the Trump Administration’s outrageous conduct by refusing to join with Congressional Democrats to “just say no'”) out of office at the ballot box.  Otherwise, there won’t be an America in the future. We’ve got to stop letting “the “30%” who either never knew or have forgotten what it means to be a real American run roughshod over our country and particularly our kids. It’s going to be a long four years. Feels like it already.

PWS

09-05-17

U.S. IMMIGRATION JUDGES CAN BREATHE EASIER: Judge Richard “Dickie The P” Posner Retires — 7th Cir. Jurist Was Caustic, Unrelenting Critic Of U.S. Immigration Courts!

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-judge-richard-posner-retires-met-20170901-story.html

The Chicago Tribune reports:

“Judge Richard A. Posner, one of the nation’s leading appellate judges, whose acerbic wit attracted an almost cultlike following within legal circles, is retiring after more than three decades with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Posner, 78, is stepping down effective Saturday, according to a news release Friday afternoon from the 7th Circuit. He was appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and served as its chief judge from 1993 to 2000.

Posner said in a statement he has written more than 3,300 opinions in his time on the bench and is “proud to have promoted a pragmatic approach to judging.” He said he spent his career applying his view that “judicial opinions should be easy to understand and that judges should focus on the right and wrong in every case.”

Posner’s biting and often brilliant written opinions as well as his unrelenting questioning from the bench have made him an icon of the court for years.

 

Known as a conservative at the time of his appointment, Posner’s views skewed more libertarian through the years, and he often came down in favor of more liberal issues such as gay marriage and abortion rights.

Lawyers who regularly appeared before the 7th Circuit knew that when Posner was on a panel they had to be ready for a line of questioning that could come out of left field. The salty judge was known to abruptly cut off lawyers who he thought were off-point, often with a dismissive “No, no, no!” delivered in his trademark nasal tone.”

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Read the full article at the link.

Here’s a classic Posner comment on the U.S. Immigration Courts from a 2016 case,  Chavarria-Reyes v. Lynch:

“POSNER, Circuit Judge, dissenting. This case involves a typical botch by an immigration judge. No surprise: the Immigration Court, though lodged in the Justice Department, is the least competent federal agency, though in fairness it may well owe its dismal status to its severe underfunding by Congress, which has resulted in a shortage of immigration judges that has subjected them to crushing workloads.”

See my prior blog on Chavarria-Reyes:

http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/01/02/the-u-s-immigration-courts-vision-is-all-about-best-practices-guaranteeing-fairness-and-due-process-7th-circuits-judge-posner-thinks-its-a-farce-blames-congressional-underfunding/

Judge Posner was always provocative, often entertaining, and eminently quotable. While I found some of his commentary on the Immigration Courts and the BIA, and particularly some of his harsh words about individual Immigration Judges, to be “over the top,” his blunt criticism of the failure to provide due process to migrants and his recognition that the DOJ and Congress shared the majority of the responsibility for screwing up the system was spot on.

He was always a “player,” and he will be missed even by those who disagreed with him. I look forward to a “Posner commentary” on the state of due process in the Immigration Courts in the Sessions regime.

PWS

09-03-17

 

 

CATO’S DAVID J. BIER IN THE NYT: IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS, PARTICULARLY WHEN IT COMES TO PUSHING MISGUIDED IMMIGRATION SCHEMES!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/04/opinion/ignorant-immigration-reform.html?ribbon-ad-idx=5&rref=opinion&module=Ribbon&version=context®ion=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&pgtype=article&_r=0

Bier writes:

“This week the Republican senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia introduced a bill that they said would cut legal immigration to the United States by 50 percent. They are right about that, but nearly everything else that they have said about their bill is false or misleading.

The senators, whose bill is endorsed by President Trump, argue that America is experiencing abnormally high immigration; that these immigrants are hurting American wages; and that their bill would prioritize skilled immigrants, the way Canada does, thus making the United States more competitive internationally. These talking points are pure fiction.

They have justified this drastic cut in immigration by stating that the bill will, as they put it in February when announcing an earlier version, bring “legal immigration levels” back down to “their historical norms.” But the senators fail to consider the impact of population growth. A million immigrants to the United States in 2017 isn’t equivalent to the same number in 1900, when there were a quarter as many Americans.

Controlling for population, today’s immigration rate is nearly 30 percent below its historical average. If their bill becomes law, the rate would fall to about 60 percent below average. With few exceptions, the only years with such a low immigration rate were during the world wars and the Great Depression. Surely, these are not the “norms” to which the senators seek to return.

Senator Cotton is trying to connect a slow increase in the immigration rate in recent decades to declining wages for Americans without a college degree, implying that low-skilled workers are facing more competition for jobs than in earlier years. But this correlation is spurious, because it ignores the size of the overall labor pool.

. . . .

Rather than cutting immigration, Congress should raise the employment-based quotas, which it has not adjusted since 1990 — when the United States had some 77 million fewer people and the economy was half the size it is now. A smart reform would double green cards and peg future work visas to economic growth, responding to market forces rather than political whims.

Smart reforms, however, require that Congress first understand the basic facts: America has not seen a deluge of immigration. Low-skilled American-born workers have not faced more competition for jobs. Other countries accept more immigrants per capita. Until these facts penetrate the halls of the Capitol, the immigration debate will continue to be mired in ignorant proposals like this.

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Read Bier’s complete op-ed at the above link.

Raising legal immigration to more realistic levels, consistent with market forces, would also facilitate “smart” law enforcement. Fewer needed workers would have to come “outside” the system. Once there is a realistic “line” the threat of being “sent to the end of the line” or even taken out of “the line” would become more effective in deterring unauthorized entries. Immigration enforcement could concentrate on a fewer number of folks trying to evade the system, rather than, as is the case now, concentrating largely on “busting” those who are coming to take jobs that play a constructive and expansive role in the American economy.

The workforce age individuals within the 10 –11 million undocumented individuals here now are almost all working in jobs that help support the American economy. Indeed, removing them all tomorrow would “tank” many American businesses and likely send the entire economy into a tailspin. Legalizing them would insure that they all pay takes and prevent them from being exploited by unscrupulous employers.

Legalization + more legal immigration is a “win-win” for America and its workers of all types and statuses.

PWS

08-07-17

In an Editorial today, the NY Times was equally unimpressed with the Trump/GOP proposal for cutting immigration, calling it “senseless:”

“The issue of immigration in America is volatile and complex and thus vulnerable to seductive promises. This bill falls into that category. Its central premise — that it would help American workers — is false. It’s true that an influx of workers can cause short-term disruptions to the labor market, but the impact on the wages of native workers over a period of 10 years or more is “very small,” according to a comprehensive National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reportpublished last year.

Moreover, as studies have repeatedly shown, immigration boosts productivity and economic growth; restricting it would have the opposite effect. Growth is determined by the changes in productivity — how much each worker produces — and the size of the work force. Productivity in recent decades has been growing more slowly than in the past for reasons that economists do not fully understand. The labor force is also growing slowly as baby boomers retire. Restricting immigration would reinforce both trends.

Mr. Trump and the senators behind this bill seem to believe that immigrants who are admitted to America because they have family ties possess few skills and are of little value to the country. That’s simply not so. About 41 percent of legal immigrants, the large majority of whom are relatives of citizens, have at least a bachelor’s degree, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center report.

Hostility to immigration was a pillar of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, and he has surrounded himself with like-minded officials, so it’s no surprise that he likes this bill. But it is a bridge too far for Republicans like Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, which makes it unlikely to go anywhere. The right approach to immigration reform would be bipartisan and comprehensive. It would include stronger enforcement, better worker protections and a pathway to citizenship for the country’s 11 million unauthorized immigrants.

A Quinnipiac poll released last week showed the president’s job approval ratings at a new low, even among demographic groups that make up his base. About 61 percent of voters disapproved of the way Mr. Trump was doing his job, including half of whites without a college degree. Mr. Trump’s recent messages opposing transgender people in the armed forces and encouraging aggressive behavior by the police have been seen as efforts to recapture that base. His support for this immigration bill is more of the same.”

Read the complete editorial at this link:

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/08/07/opinion/trump-legal-immigration-senseless.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170807&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=0&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&referer=

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Ignorance, arrogance, while nationalism, racism, xenophobia are a dangerous combination.

PWS

08-07-17

 

 

GOP ATTACK ON DUE PROCESS: HOUSE GOP ADVANCES BILL TO EVISCERATE U.S. ASYLUM SYSTEM — WOULD RETURN CHILDREN, WOMEN & FAMILIES TO LIFE THREATENING SITUATIONS WITHOUT DUE PROCESS! — STOP H.R. 391!

http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/press-release/house-bill-would-return-persecuted-refugees-danger

Human Rights First reports:

HOME / PRESS RELEASE / HOUSE BILL WOULD RETURN PERSECUTED REFUGEES TO DANGER
July 26, 2017
House Bill Would Return Persecuted Refugees to Danger

 

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Immigration Detention, Refugee Protection
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today urged members of the House Judiciary Committee to reject the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act when it marks up the legislation today. The bill would severely undermine access to protection for genuine refugees.

“The proposed legislation does nothing to enhance the integrity of our asylum system, but instead puts individuals, particularly women and children, at grave risk of return to persecution, trafficking, and death in their home or third countries,” said Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer. “Instead, this bill is a disgraceful attempt to evade U.S. refugee protection responsibilities and foist them on to other countries. Not only would this effort undermine U.S. global leadership, but it would set a poor example for the countries hosting the vast majority of the world’s refugees. The bill would make it even more difficult for refugees to receive asylum in our already rigorous asylum system and leave vulnerable children, families, and other individuals at risk of severe harm or death.”

The bill seeks to make it harder for those fleeing persecution and torture to file for asylum in the United States, a process already fraught with obstacles. Several groups of particularly vulnerable individuals—including children, women, and LGBTQ asylum seekers—would be disproportionately impacted by certain provisions, which essentially eliminate protection for refugees who have been victims of crimes in their home countries. The bill attempts to eliminate the statutory basis for release on parole, which would leave asylum seekers detained in violation of U.S. treaty obligations, and held in jails and facilities with conditions similar to jails despite the existence of more cost-effective and humane alternative measures that result in compliance and appearance at hearings. The bill also seeks to ban federal government-funded counsel, including for unaccompanied children, some of whom are toddlers or even younger.

Human Rights First, along with 73 other rights and immigration groups, sent a letter to members of the committee today urging them to reject the legislation. Among many changes to law, the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act of 2017 would:

Raise the expedited removal screening standard to an unduly high level. The bill would require that an asylum seeker—in order to even be allowed to apply for asylum—not only show a “significant possibility of establishing eligibility for asylum” but also prove it is more likely than not that his or her statements are true—the standard for a full adjudication, not a summary screening interview.
Appear to prevent arriving asylum seekers who have passed the credible fear screening process from being paroled from immigration detention, instead leaving them in jails and jail-like facilities for months or longer, even though there are more fiscally-prudent and humane alternatives that have been proven effective.
Deny asylum to large numbers of refugees based on transit or stays in countries where they had no legal status, or no lasting legal status, and to which they cannot be returned in most cases. This provision would seek to deny asylum to many refugees who have passed through Mexico, despite the risks and severe protection deficiencies there. In addition, refugees—who may have languished in a refugee camp for decades without the ability to legally work, access education or secure legal permanency—with valid claims would be left in a state of uncertainty, with no prospects for a durable solution and no secure future for themselves and their children.
Allow asylum applicants and unaccompanied children to be bounced to third countries (such as Mexico) despite the dangers and lack of protection from return to persecution there, and in the absence of any agreement between the United States and the countries in question for the reception of asylum seekers.
Categorically deny asylum and withholding of removal to refugees targeted for criminal harm—including rape and killing—based on their membership in a particular social group in their countries of origin. This extraordinarily broad provision would deny protection to asylum seekers who have been beaten for being gay, who have suffered horrific domestic abuse, or who have been treated as property by virtue of their status as women, to name but a few examples. It would also effectively eliminate asylum eligibility or withholding of removal for asylum seekers who have been victims of or who fear persecution related to gang violence in their home country.
State that the government not bear expense for counsel. The bill also states that in no instance will the federal government bear expense for counsel for anyone in removal or appellate proceedings. Children – including toddlers – the mentally disabled, and other vulnerable people cannot represent themselves in our complex immigration system.
Last week Human Rights First released a new report assessing the dangers facing refugees in Mexico in the wake of proposals from the Trump Administration and Congress to block refugees passing through Mexico from seeking protection in the United States. The analysis, “Dangerous Territory: Mexico Still Not Safe for Refugees” finds that migrants and refugees in Mexico face risks of kidnapping, disappearance, sexual assault, and trafficking, and that Mexican authorities routinely deport individuals to their home countries regardless of whether they fear return to persecution and the country’s human rights obligations.

Human Rights First notes that when Congress—with strong bipartisan support—passed the Refugee Act of 1980, the United States codified its commitment to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its Protocol. Under those treaties, states can’t return refugees to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened or reject potential refugees at the border. The United States is also a party to the Convention Against Torture, which prohibits governments from sending people to places where they would be in danger of being tortured, and to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which prohibits the arbitrary detention of asylum seekers and migrants. Instead of turning away those seeking protection, the United States should be doing more to ensure their protection claims are properly assessed and due process is safeguarded.

“At a time when the world faces the largest refugee crisis in history, this bill sends a dangerous message to other nations, including those who host the overwhelming majority refugees: that the United States intends to shirk its responsibility to those fleeing violence and persecution,” added Acer.

For more information or to speak with Acer, contact Corinne Duffy at 202-370-3319 or DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org.

PRESS CONTACT

Corinne Duffy
202-370-3319
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I also highly recommend this “spot on” analysis by David Bier of the Cato Institute of this warped and misguided attempt by GOP restrictionists in the House to destroy Due Process in the U.S. Asylum system without in any way addressing the real issues — conditions in foreign countries and our outdated and unuduy restrictive legal immigration system.

I Bier writes:

NOTE: The charts and formatting are much better if you go to,the link than on the reprinted version below.

https://www.cato.org/publications/public-comments/statement-hr-391-asylum-reform-border-protection-act

Statement for the Record of David Bier of the Cato Institute* Submitted to House Committee on the Judiciary Markup of “H.R. 391 – Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act” July 26, 2017

The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act (H.R. 391) would undermine the individual rights of people fleeing persecution and violence to seek asylum in the United States. The bill would obliterate the current asylum standards and now require asylum seekers to prove their claims to an impossible degree immediately upon their arrival at the border—without access to the documents or witnesses that they would need to do so. The government would then promptly deport without a hearing before an immigration judge those who fail this unattainable requirement, possibly to endure violence or persecution. The authors claim that this radical change is necessary due to an unprecedented surge of asylum applicants. In the 1990s, however, a similar surge of asylum seekers arrived in the United States, and Congress adopted much less severe reforms than those proposed in this bill. Even assuming that the applicants are submitting asylum applications for the sole purpose of gaining entrance to the United States, the bill does nothing to address the underlying cause of the problem: the lack of a legal alternative to migrate. As long as legal immigration remains impossible for lesser- skilled workers and their family members, unauthorized immigration of various kinds will continue to present a challenge. Asylum rule change will result in denials of legitimate claims Current law requires that asylum seekers at the border assert a “credible fear” of persecution.1 Asylum officers determine credibility based on whether there is a “significant possibility” that, if they allow the person to apply, an immigration judge would find that the fear is “well-founded,” a higher standard of proof. The credible fear interview screens out only the claims that obviously have “no possibility, or only a minimal or mere possibility, of success,” as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) puts it.2 If the USCIS asylum officer rejects the claim as not credible, the applicant may ask an immigration judge to review the determination the next day but is not granted a full hearing. Customs and Border Protection removes those who fail to assert or fail to articulate a credible fear. H.R. 391 would impose a much higher standard simply to apply for asylum in the United States. In addition to demonstrating that they had significant possibility of successfully proving their claim to an immigration judge, it would require applicants to prove that it is “more probable than

* The Cato Institute is a libertarian 501(c)(3) nonprofit think tank founded in 1977 and located in Washington D.C.

not” that their claims are true—a preponderance of the evidence standard.3 This standard eviscerates the lower bar that Congress established. The committee simply cannot expect that asylum seekers who may have had to sneak out of their country of origin in the dead of night or swim across rivers to escape persecution will have sufficient evidence the moment they arrive in the United States to meet this burden. In 2016, a group of Syrian Christians who traveled thousands of miles across multiple continents and then up through Mexico to get to the United States arrived at the border to apply for asylum.4 Thankfully, they met the credible fear standard and were not deported, which enabled them to hire an attorney to help them lay out their claim, but this new standard could endanger anyone who follows their path. An inability to provide sufficient evidence of their religion, nationality, residence, or fear would result in deportation immediately after presenting themselves at the border. The authors imply that requiring them to prove their statements are true is not the same as requiring them to prove their entire asylum case, but this is a distinction without a difference.5 Asylum applicants must state a “credible fear” of persecution. Those statements would then be subject to the much more stringent standard. Of course the government should demand the truth from all applicants, but this is a question of the standard by which asylum officers should use to weed truth from falsehood. It is virtually impossible that, by words alone, asylum seekers could prove that it is “more probable than not” that their statements are true. The committee should consider this fact: in 2016, immigration judges reversed nearly 30 percent of all denials of credible fear that came to them on appeal.6 This means that even under the current law, asylum officers make errors that would reject people with credible claims of persecution. If Congress requires an even greater burden, many more such errors will occur, but faced with the higher evidentiary requirement, immigration judges will have little choice but to ratify them. Here is another sign that the truth is not enough: asylum applicants with attorneys were half as likely to have their asylum denied by immigration judges in 2016 as those without attorneys. Indeed, 90 percent of all applicants without counsel lose their case, while a majority with counsel win theirs.7 This demonstrates that people need more than just honesty—they also need to understand what evidence is relevant to their case and need help to gather documents, witnesses, and other evidence to support their claim. For these reasons, Congress never intended the credible fear interview as a rigorous adversarial process because it wanted to give people who could credibly articulate a fear of persecution an opportunity to apply. It knew that while some people without legitimate claims would be able to apply, the lower standard of proof would protect vulnerable people from exclusion. As Senator Alan Simpson, the sponsor of the 1996 bill that created the credible fear process, “it is a significantly lesser fear standard than we use for any other provision.”8 Indeed, during the debate over the compromise version of the bill, proponents of the legislation touted that the fact that they had dropped “the more probable than not” language in the original version.9

Asylum surge is not unprecedented People can either apply for asylum “affirmatively” to USCIS on their own or they can apply “defensively” after they come into the custody of the U.S. government somehow, such as at the border or airport, to an immigration judge, which would include the credible fear process. If USCIS denies an “affirmative” applicant who is in the country illegally, the government places them in removal proceedings before an immigration judge where they can present their claim again. Reviewing the data on asylum claims, two facts become clear: total asylum claims peaked in the 1990s, and a substantial majority of claims are affirmative—that is, done voluntarily, not through the credible fear process or through removal proceedings. Although credible fear claims—a process that was first created in 1997—have increased dramatically, the overall number of asylum claims has still not reached the highs of the early 1990s. Unfortunately, the immigration courts have not published the number of cases that they received before 1996, but as Figure 1 shows, the United States has experienced similar surges of asylum seekers to 2016.10

Figure 1 Asylum Applications Received and Credible Fear Claims Approved, 1985-2016 160,000 140,000 120,000 100,000 80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000 0 USCIS Asylum Cases Immigration Judge Asylum Cases Credible Fear Approvals Sources: Department of Justice; Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services It is noteworthy that in the midst of the surge in the 1990s, Congress did not adopt the draconian approach that this bill would require. Rather, it created the credible fear process that the bill would essentially eliminate. The authors of the legislation, however, argue that the Obama administration turned the credible fear process into a rubber stamp, allowing applicants to enter regardless of the credibility of their claims. But again a look at the numbers undermines this 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

It is noteworthy that in the midst of the surge in the 1990s, Congress did not adopt the draconian approach that this bill would require. Rather, it created the credible fear process that the bill would essentially eliminate. The authors of the legislation, however, argue that the Obama administration turned the credible fear process into a rubber stamp, allowing applicants to enter regardless of the credibility of their claims. But again a look at the numbers undermines this

narrative. As Figure 2 highlights, the Obama administration denied an average of about 25 percent of all asylum seekers from 2009 to 2016.11

Figure 2 Credible Fear of Persecution Claims, FY 1997 to 2017 120,000 100,000 80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000 0 Completed Cases (left) Approval Share (Rate) Sources: Rempell (1997-2008); USCIS (2009-2016)

Despite fluctuations of up to 35 percentage points during this time, there is simply no relationship at all between the rate of approval and the number of claims being made. Factors other than the approval rate must be driving the number of applications. Some of these claims are undoubtedly invalid or even fraudulent, but given that a majority of claims by individuals with representation in immigration court win their asylum claims, it is obvious that the credible fear process has protected many people from deportation to persecution abroad.12 If fraudulent claims are a concern, Congress can best address it in the same way that it has successfully addressed other aspects of illegal immigration from Mexico: through an expansion of legal immigration. During the 1950s and again recently in the 2000s, Congress expanded the availability of low-skilled guest worker visas, which led to a great reduction in the rate of illegal immigration. Figure 3 presents the number of guest workers entering each year and the number of people each border agent apprehended each year—the best available measure of illegal immigration. It shows that the period of high illegal immigration occurred almost exclusively during the period of restrictive immigration.13 Most guest workers today are Mexicans.14 This is largely due to the fact that the current guest worker programs are limited to seasonal temporary jobs and Mexico is closer to the United

States, which makes trips to and from the United States easier. By comparison, most asylum seekers are from Central America. Assuming that a significant portion of these asylum seekers are either reuniting with illegal residents already in the United States or are seeking illegal residence themselves, these seasonal programs are unavailable to them.

Figure 3 Guest Worker Entries and Apprehensions of Illegal Aliens per Border Patrol Agent, 1946-2015 1,200 500,000 1,000 800 600 400 200 400,000 300,000 200,000 100,000 00 Apprehensions Per Agent (left) Guest Workers (Right) Sources: Border Patrol; Immigration and Naturalization Service; Department of Homeland Security 1946 1948 1950 1952 1954 1956 1958 1960 1962 1964 1966 1968 1970 1972 1974 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014

Congress should create a temporary work visa program for low-skilled workers in year-round jobs, similar to the H-1B visa for high-skilled workers.15 This would cut down on asylum fraud and illegal immigration without the downsides that this bill presents.

1 8 U.S. Code § 1225 2 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Lesson Plan Overview – Credible Fear,” February 28, 2014, http://cmsny.org/wp-content/uploads/credible-fear-of-persecution-and-torture.pdf. 3 P. 2 Justia, “Evidentiary Standards and Burdens of Proof,” https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/evidentiary-standards- burdens-proof/ 4 Molly Hennessy-Fiske, “Who were the Syrians who showed up at the Texas border? Some are Christians,” Los Angeles Times, December 7, 2015, http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-syrian-texas-christians-20151207- story.html 5 “Markup of H.R. 1153, The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act,” House Judiciary Committee, March 4, 2015, https://judiciary.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/03.04.15-Markup-Transcript.pdf. 6 U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review, “FY 2016 Statistics Yearbook,” March 2017, https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/fysb16/download. 7 TracImmigration, “Continued Rise in Asylum Denial Rates,” Syracuse University, December 13, 2016, http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/448/. 8 142 Cong. Rec. S4492 (1996) https://www.congress.gov/crec/1996/05/01/CREC-1996-05-01-pt1-PgS4457.pdf 9 142 Cong. Rec. H11081 (1996) https://www.congress.gov/crec/1996/09/25/CREC-1996-09-25-pt1-PgH11071- 2.pdfhttps://www.congress.gov/crec/1996/09/25/CREC-1996-09-25-pt1-PgH11071-2.pdf 10 U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review, “Statistics Yearbook,” https://www.justice.gov/eoir/statistical-year-book Department of Homeland Security, “Yearbook of Immigration Statistics 2004,” https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Yearbook_Immigration_Statistics_2004.pdf U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Asylum Division Quarterly Stakeholder Meeting,” https://search.uscis.gov/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&affiliate=uscis_gov&query=Asylum+Division+Quarterly+Stak eholder+Meeting&commit= 11 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Asylum Division, “Credible Fear Data,” https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Outreach/PED- Credible_Fear_Workload_Report_Summary_POE_and_Inland_Caseload_through_2015-09.pdf https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Outreach/Upcoming%20National%20Engagements/PED_CredibleF earReasonableFearStatisticsNationalityReport.pdf https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Outreach/PED- Credible_Fear_Workload_Report_Summary_POE_and_Inland_Caseload_through_2015-09.pdf https://www.chapman.edu/law/_files/publications/clr-18-rempell.pdf https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Outreach/PED- _Credible_Fear_and_Reasonable_Fear_Statistics_and_Nationality_Report.pdf 12 http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/448/ 13 Alex Nowrasteh, “Guest Worker Visas Can Halt Illegal Immigration,” Cato Institute, May 5, 2014, https://www.cato.org/blog/guest-worker-visas-can-halt-illegal-immigration. 14 Alex Nowrasteh, “H-2B Expansion Doubles Down on Successful Border Control Strategy,” Cato Institute, December 23, 2015, https://www.cato.org/blog/h-2b-expansion-doubles-down-successful-border-control-strategy. 15 Alex Nowrasteh, “How to Make Guest Worker Visas Work,” Cato Institute Policy Analysis 719, January 31, 2013, https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/how-make-guest-worker-visas-work.

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Bier’s report notes that U.S. Immigration Judges overruled approximately 30% of credible fear denials by the DHS Asylum Office. Although I did a modest number of credible/fear reasonable fear reviews, including some in temporary assignments to “detained courts” on the Southern Border, I found the number of erroneous credible/reasonable fear denials to be in the 80% to 90% range, including a number of cases that were “clear grants” under Fourth Circuit case law. The idea that Border Patrol Officer could fairly make these determinations is beyond preposterous!

Chairman Goodlatte and his GOP buddies seek nothing less than the end of a fair asylum adjudication system that fulfills our international mandates. H.R. 391 also makes a mockery of due process. In other words, the Goodlatte GOP crowd seeks to turn the U.S. into a “Third World” imitation of a democracy. These types of legislative tactics are exactly what I saw for 21 years of adjuducating claims from countries where the rule of law had broken down.

Whether immigration/refugee advocates or not, every American Citizen who cares about our Constitution and the rule of law should be fighting measures like this tooth and nail. If Goodlatte & Co. win, we all lose, and America will be well on its way to becoming just another third world facade of a democratic republic.

Rather than the totally bogus restrictionist agenda being pushed by Goodlatte and the GOP, here’s what REALLY should concern us as a nation, taken from one of my recent speeches:

“Our Government is going to remove those who lose their cases to countries where some of them undoubtedly will suffer extortion, rape, torture, forced induction into gangs, and even death. Before we return individuals to such possible fates, it is critical that they have a chance to be fully and fairly heard on their claims for protection and that they fully understand and have explained to them the reasons why our country is unwilling and unable to protect them. Neither of those things is going to happen without effective representation.

We should always keep in mind that contrary to the false impression given by some pundits and immigration “hard liners,” losing an asylum case means neither that the person is committing fraud nor that he or she does not have a legitimate fear of return. In most cases, it merely means that the dangers the person will face upon return do not fall within our somewhat convoluted asylum system. And, as a country, we have chosen not to exercise our discretion to grant temporary shelter to such individuals through Temporary Protected Status, Deferred Enforced Departure, or prosecutorial discretion (“PD”). In other words, we are returning them knowing that the effect might well be life threatening or even fatal in many cases.”

Picking on the already vulnerable, disposed, and endangered is what the Goodlatte/GOP restrictionist program is really about.

PWS

07-27-17

NEW FROM CATO INSTITUTE: Michelangelo Landgrave and Alex Nowrasteh Analyze Crime and Migrants — Conclusion: “Legal and illegal immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than natives.”

https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/immigration-brief-1_1.pdf

“Legal and illegal immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than natives. Our numbers do not represent the total number of immigrants who can be deported under current law or the complete number of convicted immi- grant criminals who are in the United States, but merely those incarcerated. This report provides numbers and demographic characteristics to better inform the public policy debate over immigration and crime.”

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The report is called Criminal Immigrants: Their Numbers, Demographics, and Countries of Origin, and it was issued on March 15, 2017. You can read the full report with charts, graphs, and citation of authorities at the link.

Many thanks to Nolan Rappaport for passing this along (although he doesn’t necessarily agree with the report’s conclusion).

PWS

03/15/17

 

Opinion: Cato’s Jonathan Blanks On How Trump’s Immigration Policies Endanger Safety & Why “Sanctuary Cities” Are Right To Resist

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-enforcing-trumps-immigration-actions-could-hurt-public-safety/2017/02/17/3644da9c-f553-11e6-b9c9-e83fce42fb61_story.html

Blanks writes in the Washington Post:

“Last week, federal immigration officials seized an unauthorized immigrant at an El Paso courthouse where she had been seeking a protective order against an alleged domestic abuser. The judge who oversees the court that issued the protective order expressed dismay that such a seizure took place when the person was seeking protection from violence, and perhaps acting on a tip provided by the alleged abuser himself.

President Trump has said his proposed actions to stiffen immigration enforcement are in the interests of public safety, but seizures such as the one in El Paso and the proposed revitalization of the 287(g) program that deputizes local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law make the public less safe and interfere with local policing priorities.

Certainly, immigration enforcement falls within the federal government’s prerogative, regardless of one’s opinion on current immigration laws. However, that does not make every single enforcement action wise or justifiable. Moreover, the respect for federalism — the recognition of state and local governments’ priorities over the whims of Washington — has long been a mantra of small-government Republicans. Yet, it is hard to think of a larger and more dangerous federal intrusion into local affairs than undermining local law enforcement.

. . . .

The federal government has the authority to enforce its immigration laws, but it should do so with discretion and in a way that aligns with the public trust. Likewise, local law enforcement should be free to protect the communities they serve in line with each community’s best interests. Taking law enforcement actions against people seeking protection is dangerous and irresponsible. Threatening those most vulnerable to crime is anathema to improving public safety.”

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PWS

02/18/17

Danger On The Right Flank: After Just 10 Days, Are The Powerful Koch Bros Already “Trumped Out?” — Trade Wars, Immigrant & Refugee Bashing, Multi-Billion Dollar Walls, Dissing Allies, Kissing Up To Enemies, De-Stabilizing International Order & Ruling By Executive Decree — It’s Not Exactly What The Libertarian-Leaning Bros Wanted From A GOP President!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/kochs-condemn-trumps-immigration-crackdown/2017/01/29/626345d8-e698-11e6-903d-9b11ed7d8d2a_story.html?utm_term=.dff0b12716de

The Washington Post writes:

“INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Charles Koch first likened candidate Donald Trump’s plan to ban Muslim immigrants to something Adolf Hitler would have done in Nazi Germany.

The billionaire industrialist and his chief lieutenants offered a more delicate response this weekend when asked about President Trump’s plan to block immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. They described Trump’s plan as “the wrong approach” that violated its dedication to “free and open societies.”

The criticism comes as the Koch network, among the most powerful conservative groups in the nation, works to strike a delicate balance in the early days of the new administration. The Kochs refused to support Trump’s candidacy last fall, but they now see a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to influence the White House and the Republican-controlled Congress.”

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President Trump has nothing but outright contempt for Democrats and the majority of voters who opposed his candidacy. And, why wouldn’t he? A group that gets nearly three million more votes than its opponent, yet still can’t win the Presidency, the Senate, the House, or the majority of state governments is the very definition of a “loser.” Indeed, Trump no longer considers the Dems to be the “real” opposition  — he’s conferred that honor on “the media.” Trump has proved that he doesn’t need majority support to take power — all he needs is the right support in the right places.

Yet, there might be trouble in “Trumpadise.” While the Democrats are protesting vociferously in the streets, finally showing the energy and passion missing during the election, but without a hint of dynamic leadership or a discernible plan for reviving their emasculated party, the Koch Bros head a a well-financed, well-organized political machine that could potentially take Trump down if they perceive that he is a threat to their stylized vision of a free, business-oriented, feebly-governed, and highly unequal society.

Notwithstanding their initial consternation, the Kochs haven’t quite “gotten there” yet. After all, Vice President Mike Pence is their “man,” bought and paid for in full. They are still fairly optimistic that Pence and the House and Senate GOP will be able to exercise enough control over Trump to prevent him from turning America into another really bad reality show. But, if they can’t, and the Bros decide that Trump has to go, he could have a more formidable opposition than the media or the Democrats to worry about.

PWS

01/30/17

 

USA Today: Cato Institute Says “America The Great” Hiding From Its Own Shadow — Chance Of American Being Killed By Vetted Refugee Terrorist: One in 36 Billion — You’d Probably Have A Better Chance Of Winning The Lottery 100X In A Row Or Being Killed By Your Own Lawnmower! — Trump To Bar Mexican-Made Lawnmowers Next?

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/01/25/syrian-refugees-trump-extreme-vetting-column/97043442/

Stephen Yale-Loehr and Nicholas Logothetis write in USA Today:

“The Cato Institute calculates that the chance of being killed in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is about one in 3.6 billion a year. By comparison, CATO found, your chance of being murdered by anyone is one in 14,000. The head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told Congress in September that not a single act of actual terrorist violence has been committed by a refugee “who has undergone our screening procedures” since 9/11.”

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In a “fact-free parallel universe” who cares?  We can’t easily solve the real problems of worldwide terrorism, so let’s all “kick the cat.”

PWS

01/26/17