Sessions Likely To Take Heat For Role In Comey Firing After Recusal!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/12/politics/jack-reed-attorney-general-jeff-sessions-cnntv/index.html

CNN reports:

“(CNN)A Democratic senator who will question Attorney General Jeff Sessions at tomorrow’s Senate intelligence committee hearing wants to know why he was involved in the decision to fire former FBI director James Comey after he had recused himself from the Russia investigation.

“I think it’s important to establish why he was involved in the dismissal of Director Comey since he had recused from, apparently, all matters related to the Russia investigation, and (President Donald Trump) himself has indicated that he, indeed, based his dismissal of Comey on the Russia Investigation,” Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed said on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.” “The attorney general’s involvement is highly questionable, to be blunt, and I think those questions will be raised.”
The White House initially cited memos from Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommending Comey’s firing over his handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe as the reason for his dismissal, and did not mention the Russia investigation. Trump later said in an interview with NBC News’s Lester Holt that he was going to fire Comey “regardless of the recommendation” and that he was thinking of the investigations into Russian involvement in the 2016 election when he decided to let the FBI director go.
Sessions will answer lawmakers’ questions on those matters Tuesday at the hearing. Reed said he expects Sessions to be asked if he was aware that Trump was factoring Comey’s handling of the Russia investigation in his decision to fire Comey. And, if Sessions was aware of the President’s rationale, Reed said he expects that senators will ask why he did not remove himself from discussions about Comey.
Asked if he thinks Sessions will answer these questions, Reed said, “I don’t know frankly. I would hope that he would answer the questions.”

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Sessions is a pretty slippery character with a conveniently bad memory for some things (like who the Russian Ambassador is, what he looks like, and what the question was). But, he is a lawyer, so I wouldn’t expect the Committee to get anything except platitudes from him (like at his Comformation hearings where he obscured his White Nationalist philosophy and his predetermined plans to undermime civil rights, tank sentencing reform, and “go gonzo” on immigration enforcement).

PWS

06-12-17

Venezuela Now Tops List Of Asylum Sending Countries!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/11/us/venezuela-asylum-seekers-us/index.html

Marilia Brocchetto, Polo Sandoval and Jaide Timm-Garcia report for CNN:

“(CNN)The decision to come to the United States wasn’t an easy one. Carolina, a 33-year-old mother of three, said it was perhaps one of the toughest decisions of her life — one taken after many sleepless nights in her Barquisimeto, Venezuela, apartment.

Holding back tears, she remembers a night spent on the floor. She huddled with her three kids, praying, as Venezuelan government forces fiercely clashed with protesters outside her apartment walls. In the streets anti-government protesters demanded Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro step down. Their protests were met with tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets. During that night of April 11, three Venezuelans would die in the Barquisimetoarea.
“The hardest moments happened on the last days,” Carolina said. Carolina is not her real name. She has asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation against her family in Venezuela.

Carolina says she got emotional the first time she visited an American supermarket. One of the first things she bought was candy for her children.

Sitting in a metro Atlanta shopping area, she talks of an entire life left behind. The boutique she owned with her husband. The social events she organized. She remembers her family — her uncle who’s currently recovering from a stroke and her grandmother, in her 80’s, who has no one to care for her.
“One day I called her and she told me all she had to eat was rice and butter.”
Venezuela has been plagued by food shortages and soaring prices. Inflation levels are in the triple digits. In 2016, the average Venezuelan living in extreme poverty lost about 19 pounds due to the lack of food. Many of its citizens had to skip meals, according to a national poll.
People have demanded president Maduro step down and hold elections. Protests have stretched into a third month, resulting in nearly 70 deaths.
Carolina, her husband and their three kids will soon be joining the growing number of Venezuelans seeking asylum in the United states. Venezuelans are now the top asylum seekers in the US, ahead of citizens from China, Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. It’s the first time Venezuelans have topped the list.
Carolina sold her business and her car in Venezuela and used the money to buy plane tickets for her family. The leftover money was rationed out to buy a small car and for a deposit on an apartment.
“We know we are starting from zero” she said, “it is a very difficult time and I have a lot of sadness in my heart for the things I left behind in Venezuela, but for my children, it is all worth it.”
Carolina and her family have been in the United States for less than a month. Once they file their asylum applications, Carolina and her husband will then need to wait 150 days before they can request a work permit.
In the meantime, she said she stays up at night talking to her husband about money, and how little of it they have left.
However, Carolina knows her family is lucky to have had the tourist visas that allowed them to come into the US.”
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Read the complete story with more “individual portraits” at the link. This shows another hole in the Trump “border deterrence” theory: most Venezuelans enter the US legally and apply for asylum later on. I had predicted some time ago that Venezuela’s abusive leftist government would soon collapse what had been one of the Hemisphere’s more prosperous and resource rich countries, scattering hundreds of thousands of refugees throughout the Americas!
But, of course, advance planning with other nations for a humanitarian response to refugee emergencies is beyond this Administration. They just keep spouting enforcement and detention, the same failed, yet expensive, so-called “strategies” that have been unsuccessfully tried over and over for the past 50 years.
PWS
06-11-17

🤡 Just When You Thought Ringling Bros Was Dead — Listen To Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Describe The “Clown-In-Chief’s” 🤡 Rose Garden Reality Show — Trump Is Debasing & Trivializing The High Office To Which He Was Elected!

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2017/06/09/swalwell-trump-clownish-performance-lead-sciutto-intv.cnn Continue reading 🤡 Just When You Thought Ringling Bros Was Dead — Listen To Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Describe The “Clown-In-Chief’s” 🤡 Rose Garden Reality Show — Trump Is Debasing & Trivializing The High Office To Which He Was Elected!

AND IT’S NOT GETTING ANY BETTER NEXT WEEK FOR EMBATTLED AG — Sessions To Appear Before Senate Intelligence Comm On Tuesday! — Topic: RUSSIA!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/10/politics/sessions-senate-testimony/index.html

CNN reports:

“(CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced he will appear before the Senate intelligence committee rather than House and Senate appropriations subcommittees on Tuesday, saying Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will testify on the latter panels in his place.

In a letter Saturday to the Senate Appropriations subcommittee chairman, Richard Shelby of Alabama, Sessions said the change in venue would be more appropriate for expected questions on the issues raised by former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony to the intelligence committee Thursday.
“The Senate Intelligence Committee is the most appropriate forum for such matters, as it has been conducting an investigation and has access to relevant, classified information,” Sessions explained.
It is unclear whether the upcoming intelligence committee hearing will be open or closed.”
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You can get some video reports at the link:
Golly gee, sure hope Ol’ Jeff hasn’t forgotten what the Russian Ambassador looks like (again). Caution: If he denies the meeting under oath, and it can later be proved, Gonzo could follow in the footsteps of the his GOP antecedent, the notorious John Mitchell as a “law and order” AG who eventually became a guest of the Bureau of Prisons. But, Gonzo does love his prisons, so maybe that’s a good place for him. He’ll probably run into lots of “criminal” border crossers in minimum security. Perhaps, they will take pity on him and show him the ropes. He might want to brush up on his Spanish.
PWS
06-10-17

CNN: Sessions – Trump Rift Deepens — AG Offered To Resign — White House Declines “Vote Of Confidence”

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/06/politics/trump-and-sessions-have-had-heated-exchange/index.html

CNN reports:

“Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have had a series of heated exchanges in the last several weeks after Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe, a source close to Sessions told CNN Tuesday.

A senior administration official said that at one point, Sessions expressed he would be willing to resign if Trump no longer wanted him there.
The frustration comes at a critical juncture for Trump. Former FBI Director James Comey is set to testify Thursday about his private discussions with Trump and the Russia investigation has lapped into the White House, with questions about the President’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.
Tuesday afternoon, White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to say whether Trump has confidence in Sessions.
“I have not had a discussion with him about that,” Spicer said.
As of 9 p.m. ET Tuesday, the White House still was unable to say whether or not the President backs his attorney general, a White House official said. The official said they wanted to avoid a repeat of what happened when Kellyanne Conway said Trump had confidence in Flynn only to find out hours later that the national security adviser had been pushed out.
Sessions remains at the Justice Department, where a spokeswoman told CNN that he is not stepping down.”
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Read the complete article at the link.
Wow! Who would have thought that Jeff Sessions could be the first Cabinet casualty? Must say, I didn’t see this one coming! In recusing himself from the Russia probe, Sessions not only did the ethical thing, but also saved Trump from the firestorm that would have ensued had he continued to participate in the investigation.
Sessions is nutsos on most legal issues, but I have to give him credit for showing backbone and independence here. Sounds like he might be gone before the 4th of July, particularly if the Supremes turn down the Travel Ban case, which I think becomes more likely with each Trump escapade. I’d also guess that Rosenstein and Brand would follow him out the door, leaving the DOJ essentially leaderless at a critical time.

If Sessions can’t survive, who would want the AG job? And anyone who would take it, and was satisfactory to Trump, might well have problems getting confirmed, even with the GOP in charge.

Stay tuned.
PWS
06-07-17

H-1B NONIMMIGRANTS: A Needed Visa In Need Of Reform — It’s Essential For Our Economy, But It’s Wrong When US Workers Are Displaced & Degraded — A Plea For Reform By One Who Has Benefitted From The System But Sees The Abuses!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/04/us/understanding-the-h-1b-visa/index.html

Moni Bassu writes in CNN:

“Palmer and other H-1B reformers want accountability.
They say US companies must be required to document their searches to fill positions with American workers. Employers must pay prevailing wages and be prevented from subcontracting or outsourcing H-1B jobs.
Reform advocates are pushing for a system of government enforcement and oversight of the H-1B regulations, not one that is reliant on whistleblowers to expose abuse.
Technology is here to stay. And it is changing at warp speed. The demand for smart talent is not going away. That’s why even the biggest critics of H-1B are the most ardent backers of reform, not elimination.
What I hear them saying is the system ought to work the way it used to, when my father obtained an H-1 visa. He was hired for a job he was uniquely qualified for, and he was compensated with a decent wage.
No one wants to see Americans lose their jobs unfairly, and if my father were still alive, I know he’d be troubled by what I learned about the current H-1B program.
I also know he would be heartened to see that some of the most ardent backers of visa reform are Indian Americans. After all, we are the ones who have most reaped the rewards of H-1B.”
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The full article, which gives actual examples of both the benefits and the abuses of the H-1B program is a “must read.” Get it at the link.
Several thoughts. I was very critical, and still am, of House Immigration Subcommittee GOP Members for starting off with controversial, “in your face,” and unneeded enforcement-only bills. See http://wp.me/p8eeJm-Qw
Why not instead start with something bipartisan that would be good for America, like H-1B reform. Chairman Grassley in the Senate has expressed strong interest in reforming the H-1B category to eliminate abuses. And, it appears that most major U.S. employers who use H-1Bs also see the need for reform to preserve and improve the program.
Additionally, things like investment visa “EB-5” reform also appear likely to attract support from both sides of the aisle in both houses.
A second thought, why don’t U.S. companies, particularly those started or run by immigrants, which use H-1Bs start the reforms now. “Reverse” the process. Use highly talented H-1B workers to train U.S. workers, particularly in places where the economic rebound has not yet reached, for whatever reason.
For example, in a recent blog dealt with the situation in the small city of Gillette, WY. http://wp.me/p8eeJm-UY  The folks seemed nice, optimistic, and interested in a brighter future for their community. But, with or without Trump and his environment-busting policies, coal mining as a way of life is on the way out. I can’t imagine that too many of the younger generation are hanging around places like Gillette.
Why not go in and establish some tech centers using H-1Bs as trainers. Sure, working on a computer in an office isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I get that. But, it is something that can be done from anywhere.
And, the costs of doing business, at least initially, are likely to be less in a place like Gillette. Increased economic activity brings with it other needs: buildings, houses, markets, auto dealers, repair shops, HVAC technicians, public servants, schools, teachers, etc. So, there could be something for everyone, even those who don’t want to work at a desk all day.
Maybe, it’s time for those who want immigration reform to stop talking and whining and start doing. Things that demonstrably work and help folks out build their own bases of support. That’s better than trying to convince folks with statistics and pie charts!
PWS
06-05-17

BREAKING: Out Of Control “Tweeter In Chief” Continues To Undermine Own Case! — Basically Admits Revised Order Was A Ruse!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/05/politics/trump-travel-ban-courts/index.html

CNN reports:

“(CNN)President Donald Trump on Monday emphatically referred to his executive order on immigration as a “travel ban” and said his Justice Department should not have submitted a “watered down, politically correct version” to the Supreme Court.

Trump’s suggestion that changes to the ban — which, among other things, temporarily restricts travel to the US from several Muslim-majority countries — were due to political correctness could hamper his administration’s legal argument that the executive order did not target Muslims. As a candidate, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration to the United States.
Trump's terror tweets make a statement
Trump’s terror tweets make a statement
In a string of tweets, Trump reiterated comments he made in light of the London terror attacks that the travel ban was necessary.
“People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN,” he tweeted at 6:25 a.m. ET.
“The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.” he added.”

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

Read the entire breaking story at the link!

Gotta feel for the pros in the SG’s Office trying to defend the Prez while maintaining some semblance of credibility with the Court. Talk about the “Client from Hell!”

Back to two “soft predictions” that I had made earlier.

Frist, every time Trump tweets or throws gratuitous barbs at the Court, the chances increase that the Supremes will leave this mess to the lower Courts to sort out. There are also some practical difficulties, since the “Travel Ban” was supposed to be temporary and will soon expire by its own terms. Why mess with this mess? As noted in a previous blog, even some in the GOP are starting to acknowledge the untenability of Trimp’s position on the Travel Ban.

Second, over the course of an Administration, the Solicitor General’s Office is likely to lose its hard-earned credibility with the Supremes by defending the off the wall actions of a serial liar. Yeah, the Supremes take up the cases of, and even rule in favor of, some pretty scuzzy individuals. But, lack of candor before the courts and attempting to “bully” the judiciary are strongly frowned upon. At some point, courts at all levels hold the attorney responsible for his or her client’s conduct.

And, it is a mark of Jeff Sessions’s unsuitability to be Attorney General that he can’t get his primary client “under control.”

PWS

06-05-17

CNN BREAKING: Dem Sens Asked Comey To Investigate Sessions For Perjury!

CNN reports;

“Sens. Patrick Leahy and Al Franken — Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee — sent the requests to Comey and, later, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe in three letters dated March 20, April 28 and May 12.
First on CNN: Sources: Congress investigating another possible Sessions-Kislyak meeting
First on CNN: Sources: Congress investigating another possible Sessions-Kislyak meeting
“We are concerned about Attorney General Sessions’ lack of candor to the committee and his failure thus far to accept responsibility for testimony that could be construed as perjury,” Franken and Leahy wrote to Comey in their first request.
Leahy and Franken both grilled Sessions during his nomination hearing about any contacts he had with Russian officials about the 2016 campaign. At the time, Sessions said he had none. But following a Washington Post report that showed Sessions had met twice with Kislyak, Sessions acknowledged the meetings and recused himself from oversight of the Russia probe.
CNN reported Wednesday that congressional investigators were now examining whether Sessions and Kislyak met a third time.
“Earlier this year, Attorney General Sessions provided false testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in response to our questions regarding his contacts with Russian officials,” Franken and Leahy said in a joint statement Thursday. “The attorney general never fully explained or even acknowledged the misrepresentations in his testimony, and we remained concerned that he had still not been forthcoming about the extent of his contacts with Russian officials.”
Leahy and Franken said that, if Sessions did perjure himself, he should resign.
“We served with the attorney general in the Senate and on the Judiciary Committee for many years,” they wrote. “We know he would not tolerate dishonesty if he were in our shoes. If it is determined that the attorney general still has not been truthful with Congress and the American people about his contacts with Russian officials during the campaign, he needs to resign.”
This story is breaking and will be updated.”

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Wow!  DOJ eventually will have a whole division investigating all the things that Ol’ Jeff seems to have forgotten. Stay tuned.

PWS

06-01-17

CNN: More Potential Problems For Sessions On Russian Contacts!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/31/politics/congress-investigating-jeff-sessions-russian-ambassador-meeting/index.html

CNN reports:

“Washington (CNN)Congressional investigators are examining whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions had an additional private meeting with Russia’s ambassador during the presidential campaign, according to Republican and Democratic Hill sources and intelligence officials briefed on the investigation.

Investigators on the Hill are requesting additional information, including schedules from Sessions, a source with knowledge tells CNN. They are focusing on whether such a meeting took place April 27, 2016, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, where then-candidate Donald Trump was delivering his first major foreign policy address. Prior to the speech, then-Sen. Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak attended a small VIP reception with organizers, diplomats and others.
In addition to congressional investigators, the FBI is seeking to determine the extent of interactions the Trump campaign team may have had with Russia’s ambassador during the event as part of its broader counterintelligence investigation of Russian interference in the election. The FBI is looking into whether there was an additional private meeting at the Mayflower the same day, sources said. Neither Hill nor FBI investigators have yet concluded whether a private meeting took place — and acknowledge that it is possible any additional meeting was incidental.
“The Department of Justice appointed special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” Department of Justice spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement to CNN. “We will allow him to do his job. It is unfortunate that anonymous sources whose credibility will never face public scrutiny are continuously trying to hinder that process by peddling false stories to the mainstream media. The facts haven’t changed; the then-Senator did not have any private or side conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel.”
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Ol’ Jeff has had lots of trouble remembering relatively recent events and understanding pretty straightforward questions posed by Democratic Senators during his confirmation hearings. So, I wouldn’t put lots of weight on his denial. By the standards applied to migrants in many U.S. Immigration Courts (administered by Sessions), Sessions would be found “not credible.”
On the other hand, this is just an investigation. Nobody has concluded that the alleged meeting between Sessions and the Russian Ambassador actually took place or that it was in any way improper.
But, sometimes I have to wonder how Ol’ Jeff even remembers the way to work each day. Perhaps he has a driver.
I’m betting that there will be more to this story, and that Sessions will have some more “memory lapses” before the Russia investigation concludes. And, don’t forget that the “congressional investigators” all basically work for the GOP, who control everything on both ends of PA Ave. So, that they are even following up on Sessions’s involvement with the Russians is somewhat amazing.
PWS
05-31-17

LEGISLATION: House GOP Takes The Low Road — Eschews Compromise — Goes For Enforcement Overkill!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/18/politics/immigration-bill-house-committee/index.html

Tal Kopan reports for CNN:

“Washington (CNN)Democrats and Republicans on Thursday faced off over immigration policy as a House committee began considering a set of immigration bills that Democrats say would amount to the creation of a “mass deportation force.”

Proponents of the first bill under consideration by the House judiciary committee — named after two law enforcement officers who were allegedly murdered by an undocumented immigrant — advocated for the bill as important to public safety and rule of law.
But Democrats on the committee decried the bill as an unnecessarily harsh anti-immigrant push by President Donald Trump.
“Proponents of this bill say that it’s necessary to keep us safe, but what the bill really does is pander to the noxious notion that immigrants are criminals and should be dealt with harshly,” said immigration subcommittee ranking member Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat. “This bill gives Trump and (adviser Steve) Bannon the legislation to establish their mass deportation force. … This bill should really be called the ‘Mass Deportation Act,’ because that’s what it is.”
Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte said the bill was not intended to target immigrants, but to “respect the rule of law.”
“This is simply a bill that gives any administration, the current one and future ones, the authority to enforce our laws properly, and gives to state and local governments … the ability to participate in that enforcement,” Goodlatte said.
The committee was set to mark up three Republican bills related to immigration on Thursday — one that would vastly expand the role of state and local jurisdictions in immigration enforcement and two others that would authorize immigration components of the Department of Homeland Security.
But by mid-afternoon, the committee recessed until next week after only making its way through two amendments. Both were brought by Democrats to strike portions of the bill, and after lengthy debate, both were rejected by the Republican majority committee. Democrats were expected to continue bringing a number of similar amendments when the markup continues on the nearly 200 page bill.
The main bill the committee discussed, the Michael Davis Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act, was introduced by Republican Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, and closely resembles similar legislation that the House judiciary committee has advanced in the past and that now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions introduced in his time in the Senate.
The Davis-Oliver Act would substantially increase the capabilities of federal and local immigration enforcement, including empowering state and local law enforcement to enact their own immigration laws and penalties. It also would give the government powers to revoke visas, beef up Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ability to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants, increase criminal penalties for undocumented immigrants and punish sanctuary jurisdictions.

The two parties went back and forth on the bill, with Democrats decrying it as demonization of all immigrants, as an increase in mass incarceration and as a promotion of racial profiling and as unconstitutional federal overreach. They noted that local law enforcement in sanctuary cities say their policies are important for victims and witnesses of crimes to feel comfortable coming forward.
But Labrador said the notion that the bill harms public safety is “the most preposterous and outrageous argument I’ve ever heard.”
“For too long we have allowed individuals to enter our country illegally and in many cases do us harm,” he said. “While other reforms are needed, this bill is vital to a long-term fix.”
The other two bills, introduced by Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, would serve as authorizations for ICE and US Citizenship and Immigration Services, codifying the mission statements of both entities. The USCIS bill would focus the agency, which oversees the issuance of visas and grants immigrants the ability to enter the U.S. . . . .”

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America has all the immigration enforcement we need at present. Undocumented entries are down, the undocumented population is stable, and all reputable studies show that migrants of all types are among the most law-abiding sectors of our society.  Also, the DHS is unable to remove everyone who is currently under a final order of removal.  The U.S. Immigration Court system is completely backlogged, with nearly an astounding 600,000 pending cases.

Consequently, beyond funding “fixes” for the overwhelmed Immigration Courts and the DHS program for executing final orders of removal, there is no need for additional immigration enforcement personnel and authority at this time.  Nor is there any need to push reluctant cities to help DHS out with immigration enforcement.

No, notwithstanding the disingenuous statements by GOP Reps. Goodlatte and Labrador, this is all about generating anti-immigrant sentiment and promoting a non-existent link among  immigrants, crime, and national security..

What America really needs is some type of legalization program to allow the millions of law-abiding undocumented individual already here to continue to work and contribute to our society.  Additionally, we need immigration reform that would expand the legal immigration system to more realistically match supply with demand. This, in turn, would encourage individuals to enter through the legal system and thereby register and submit themselves to complete pre-entry vetting.  That’s what would actually promote the safety and prosperity of America!

PWS

05-19-17

 

 

DEATH WATCH: Average 1/MO Dies In ICE Custody — And It’s Only Just Beginning, As Another ICE Detainee Dies, This Time In Atlanta!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/17/us/ice-atlanta-detainee-dies/index.html

Catherine E. Shoichet reports for CNN:

“Atlanta (CNN) A man in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody has died after being hospitalized for shortness of breath, officials said Wednesday.

Atulkumar Babubhai Patel was pronounced dead at Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital on Tuesday afternoon.
The 58-year-old Indian national’s death is the second death of a detainee in ICE custody this week — and the second this week in the state of Georgia.
Officials said complications from congestive heart failure were ruled the preliminary cause of death.
Patel arrived at the Atlanta airport on May 10 on a flight from Quito, Ecuador. Authorities denied him entry into the United States because he did not have the necessary immigration documents, ICE said.
He was transferred to ICE custody in the Atlanta City Detention Center on Thursday, according to the agency. An initial medical screening at the time determined he had high blood pressure and diabetes. Two days later, Patel was transported to the hospital after a nurse checking his blood sugar noticed he had shortness of breath, ICE said. He died on Tuesday afternoon.
In its statement announcing Patel’s death, officials said fatalities in ICE custody are “exceedingly rare.”
“ICE is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody and is undertaking a comprehensive agency-wide review of this incident, as it does in all such cases,” ICE said.

Second death this week

Patel is the eighth person to die in ICE custody this fiscal year, which began in October.
Authorities are also investigating the death of another immigrant detainee in Georgia. Jean Jimenez-Joseph, 27, was found unresponsive in his cell on Monday with a sheet around his neck. The preliminary cause of death was self-inflicted strangulation.
He’d been in solitary confinement for more than two weeks at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia.
The recent deaths have drawn sharp criticism from immigrant rights activists, who have long decried conditions in immigration detention centers and called on the government to close such facilities.
US President Donald Trump has called for increasing detention as part of his crackdown on illegal immigration. And Congress recently upped its funding for immigrant detention, approving a spending bill that pays for an average of more than 39,000 detention beds per day.
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“Exceedingly rare?”  Like in two deaths in one week in ICE custody in Georgia? In addition to ruined lives, the Trump/Sessions/Kelly vision for an “American Gulag” is certain to cause more preventable deaths in DHS custody, in light of the well-documented substandard conditions in such facilities, particularly those run by private contractors and local jailers. I guess each member of the “Triumvirate of Death”  is well enough off so a few million in civil judgments wouldn’t be a problem.  But, the taxpayers are likely to be shelling out megabucks for some tort claims.
PWS
05-17-17

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) Slams Sessions On Sentencing!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/15/opinions/sessions-is-wrong-rand-paul-opinion/index.html

Sen. Rand Paul writes in an op-ed for CNN:

“The attorney general on Friday made an unfortunate announcement that will impact the lives of millions of Americans: he issued new instructions for prosecutors to charge suspects with the most serious provable offenses, “those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.”

Rand Paul

Mandatory minimum sentences have unfairly and disproportionately incarcerated a generation of minorities. Eric Holder, the attorney general under President Obama, issued guidelines to U.S. Attorneys that they should refrain from seeking long sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.
I agreed with him then and still do. In fact, I’m the author of a bipartisan bill with Senator Leahy to change the law on this matter. Until we pass that bill, though, the discretion on enforcement — and the lives of many young drug offenders — lies with the current attorney general
The attorney general’s new guidelines, a reversal of a policy that was working, will accentuate the injustice in our criminal justice system. We should be treating our nation’s drug epidemic for what it is — a public health crisis, not an excuse to send people to prison and turn a mistake into a tragedy.
And make no mistake, the lives of many drug offenders are ruined the day they receive that long sentence the attorney general wants them to have.
If I told you that one out of three African-American males is forbidden by law from voting, you might think I was talking about Jim Crow 50 years ago.
Yet today, a third of African-American males are still prevented from voting, primarily because of the War on Drugs.
The War on Drugs has disproportionately affected young black males.
The ACLU reports that blacks are four to five times likelier to be convicted for drug possession, although surveys indicate that blacks and whites use drugs at similar rates. The majority of illegal drug users and dealers nationwide are white, but three-fourths of all people in prison for drug offenses are African American or Latino.
Why are the arrest rates so lopsided? Because it is easier to go into urban areas and make arrests than suburban areas. Arrest statistics matter when cities apply for federal grants. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand that it’s easier to round up, arrest, and convict poor kids than it is to convict rich kids.
. . . .
Each case should be judged on its own merits. Mandatory minimums prevent this from happening.
Mandatory minimum sentencing has done little to address the very real problem of drug abuse while also doing great damage by destroying so many lives, and most Americans now realize it.
Proposition 47 recently passed in California, and it has spurred a cultural change in the way nonviolent drug offenders are treated, resulting in more than 13,000 fewer prisoners and a savings of $150 million, according to a Stanford Law School study.
Pew Research found that 67% of Americans want drug offenders to get treatment, not prison, and over 60% want an end to mandatory minimum sentences.
I urge the attorney general to reconsider his recent action. But even more importantly, I urge my colleagues to consider bipartisan legislation to fix this problem in the law where it should be handled. Congress can end this injustice, and I look forward to leading this fight for justice.”
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Finally, the ever divisive Jeff “Gonzo-Apocalypto” Sessions is doing something to unite Americans —  his “return to the failed policies of the past” on drugs is uniting Democrats and Republicans in bipartisan opposition.
PWS
05-16-17

JURIST: Christopher N. Lasch Says Sessions More Interested In Politics Than Justice!

http://www.jurist.org/forum/2017/04/the-political-attorney-general.php

Professor Lasch writes:

“As JURIST previously reported, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has threatened to cut Department of Justice funding to so-called “sanctuary” cities. The Attorney General’s comments during the White House press briefing on March 27, 2017, and on other occasions, demonstrate that our nation’s top law enforcement official is concerned far less with enforcing the law than with pursuing the Trump administration’s political agenda.

Ignoring the Law
Anti-sanctuary politicians like to claim that sanctuary cities defy or flout federal law. President Trump, for example, in his January 25 executive order on interior immigration enforcement, claimed that “[s]anctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States.” Echoing this, Attorney General Sessions on March 27 likewise tried to paint sanctuary policies as defying federal law. He said that the DOJ Inspector General previously “found that these policies … violate federal law.” PolitiFact rightly rated this claim “mostly false” after consulting with immigration law experts and reviewing the Inspector General’s report [PDF], which was fairly explicit in not reaching the conclusion that any particular policy violated the law.

Sessions’s inaccurate portrayal of the Inspector General’s report fits into a larger pattern of dishonesty about the law when it comes to sanctuary policies. His remarks on March 27 suggested that sanctuary policies might violate numerous federal laws. But only one specific statute has ever been cited by those (including President Trump, in his executive order, and Attorney General Sessions, in his March 27 remarks) who suggest sanctuary policies defy federal law: 8 U.S.C. § 1373.

8 U.S.C. § 1373 is a very narrow law, addressed only to prohibitions on local law enforcement sharing information with federal immigration officials concerning a person’s citizenship or immigration status. The overwhelming majority of “sanctuary” policies across the country have nothing to say about such information sharing. (San Francisco, for example, while perhaps the jurisdiction most often maligned by the anti-sanctuary campaign, takes the position that it complies with 8 U.S.C. § 1373). Instead, most policies address whether immigration “detainers” (requests by federal immigration officials for the continued detention of a state or local inmate who is otherwise entitled to release) will be accepted by local law enforcement.

Lack of compliance with detainers is what is really at stake in the current debate over sanctuary cities. We know this because while administration officials point to 8 U.S.C. § 1373 to support the claim that sanctuary policies violate federal law, they fail to discuss any claimed violations of 8 U.S.C. § 1373. Instead, they talk about jurisdictions failing to honor detainers—which is exactly where Attorney General Sessions took the conversation on March 27, trotting out the San Francisco case of Francisco Sanchez and the Denver case of Ever Valles as examples of prisoners released, despite ICE having lodged a detainer–only to be subsequently charged with murder.

We also know that detainers are what is really troubling the administration because the President’s executive order directed the Department of Homeland Security “on a weekly basis, [to] make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens.” Attorney General Sessions cited this order on March 27 before turning to the Sanchez and Valles cases, claiming the DHS report showed “that in a single week, there were more than 200 instances of jurisdictions refusing to honor ICE detainer requests with respect to individuals charged or convicted of a serious crime.” The report, it turns out, was riddled with errors—”corrections” to the report issued by DHS included, for example, that Franklin County, Iowa; Franklin County, New York; and Franklin County, Pennsylvania were all erroneously listed as having declined detainers in the first report. Its issuance was discontinued after just three weeks.

Despite the obsession with declined detainers, Attorney General Sessions has in his remarks demonstrated utter obliviousness to the actual law governing detainers. On March 27, Sessions suggested honoring detainers was a “fundamental principle of law enforcement” and in February at a meeting of states’ attorneys general, Sessions called it a “shocking thing” that localities were not honoring detainers. These comments suggest unawareness of a steady stream of federal court decisions since 2014. The Third Circuit US Court of Appeals, in Galarza v. Szalczyk, established that localities cannot be compelled to honor detainers. A district court in Oregon held further that localities can be held liable for Fourth Amendment violations, given that the detention requested by federal officials amounts to a new warrantless arrest that must be justified under the Constitution. This line of precedent was sufficiently strong that the Obama administration put an end to the “Secure Communities” [PDF] program (which relied heavily on detainers) because of it.

If Sessions is aware of this body of law, he is not talking about it.

. . . .

These policy positions, however, are contradicted by all available data. Study [PDF] after study has shown that immigrants, regardless of status, commit crimes at lower rates than citizens. In the words of Michael Tonry [PDF[, “high levels of legal and illegal Hispanic immigration … [are] credited with contributing significantly to the decline in American crime rates since 1991.” And sanctuary policies have not made cities unsafe–the recent study by Tom K. Wong concludes that crime rates are lower and economic indicators are stronger in sanctuary jurisdictions.

JURIST guest columnist Ali Khan recently situated America’s current war on immigrants in global trends of nativism, racism and xenophobia. This, in my view, provides the answer to the question of what “countervailing principles” might cause Attorney General Sessions not only to ignore all available data on immigration, sanctuary, and crime, but to upend traditional Republican views on federal-versus-local control of policing. Trump’s anti-sanctuary rhetoric, I have argued [PDF], is racial rhetoric. It is part of an illogical, counterfactual, counter-legal, and highly successful political formula: Demonizing immigrants wins votes; deporting immigrants wins votes.

Sanctuary cities stand in the way of this political agenda. The Attorney General’s words and actions reveal that, when it comes to sanctuary cities, Jeff Sessions is not serving the role of chief law enforcement lawyer. He is just another politician chasing down votes for the President.”

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Sessions’s latest threats directed against so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions have drawn some “robust pushback:”

As Jay Croft reports in CNN:

“(CNN)Insulting.

Out of touch.
Inaccurate.
Mayors of some of the so-called sanctuary cities were not impressed Friday with the Trump administration’s latest volley in the dispute over immigration policy. The Justice Department told the local government officials to share immigration information by June 30 on people who have been arrested — or lose federal money.

‘Civil deportation force’

“If anybody in the Trump administration would actually do some research before firing off letters, they would see that the city of New Orleans has already provided the Department of Justice documentation that shows we are in compliance with federal immigration laws,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu

“This is another example of the Trump administration acting before doing their homework. The New Orleans Police Department will not be a part of President Trump’s civil deportation force no matter how many times they ask.”
He reiterated a point made by sanctuary mayors — that individuals are more likely to report crime and testify if they are not afraid of being questioned about their immigration status.

Values ‘not for sale’

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel didn’t pull any punches, either.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

“We’ve seen the letter from DOJ. Neither the facts nor the law are on their side,” Emanuel said.
“Regardless, let me be clear: Chicago’s values and Chicago’s future are not for sale.”
Emanuel’s office said Chicago wants to be seen as a “welcoming” city for immigrants.
In Chicago, $3.6 billion in federal funds are at stake, possibly jeopardizing money to pay for everything from feeding low-income pregnant women to repairing roads and bridges, according an analysis by the Better Government Association, a nonpartisan state watchdog group.

NY mayor: Not ‘soft on crime’

The Justice Department claimed illegal immigration into the country has increased crime in these cities. It called New York City “soft on crime.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio

That didn’t play in New York.
“I have never met a member of the New York Police Department that is soft on crime,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
In a statement and on Twitter, de Blasio challenged President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to come to the city “and look our officers in the eye and tell them they are soft on crime.”
Spokesman Seth Stein went a step farther.
“This grand-standing shows how out of touch the Trump administration is with reality,” Stein said.
“Contrary to their alternative facts, New York is the safest big city in the country, with crime at record lows in large part because we have policies in place to encourage cooperation between NYPD and immigrant communities.”
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Session’s tone deaf, xenophobic approach shows little interest in effective law enforcement. Unlike Sessions, over my time at the U.S. Immigration Court in Arlington, I actually had to deal on a face to face basis with both gang members and their victims. Unlike Sessions, I have actually denied bond to and entered orders of removal against established gang members. I’ve also granted relief to victims of gang violence and watched the U.S. legal system intentionally “turn its back” on other victims in dire need of protection.
I have a daughter who as a teacher has had to deal on a day to day basis with some gang issues in the schools and the community in a constructive manner, rather than the harsh platitudes coming out of Sessions’s mouth.
From my perspective, a credible effort to reduce gang violence in the U.S. would require:
1) confidence and close cooperation with the migrant communities across the U.S. (for example, the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force, established with the help of Congress and the efforts of former Rep Frank Wolf has a much more nuanced and potentially effective “multi-faceted” approach to gang violence than the “talk tough, threaten, blame immigrants” approach Sessions is purveying; many of the gang-related cases I got at the Arlington Immigration Court stemmed from the efforts of the Task Force working positively in immigrant communities);
2) a sound voluntary working relationship with local police, community activists, and school officials that concentrates on reducing violent crime and making young people feel included and valued, not focused on “busting” undocumented migrants,
3) recognition that while deportations of gang leaders and members who are not U.S. citizens might be necessary, it will not solve the problem (indeed, since gangs control many of the prisons in Central America and have also have compromised the police and the some government officials, removal to, or even imprisonment in, the Northern Triangle is akin to a “corporate reassignment” for gang members);
4) an acknowledgement that U.S. deportations are what basically started, and then fueled, the “gang crisis” in Central America — MS-13 was actually “Born in the U.S.A.” (with apologies to Bruce — L.A. to be exact)  and “exported” (or perhaps more properly “deported”) to El Salvador after the end of the civil war; and
5) a program of at least temporary refuge for those fleeing gang violence in the Northern Triangle, many of whom now are effectively being told by the U.S. that joining gangs or giving in to their demands for extortion or assistance represents their only realistic chance of survival.
A long-term program to address the problems of gangs, drugs, violence against women, endemic public corruption, poor education, substandard health care, and gross economic inequality at the “point of origin” in the Northern Triangle is also needed, along with cooperative programs to encourage other stable countries in the Americas, such as Canada, Mexico, and Costa Rica to share the responsibility of providing at least “safe haven” to those fleeing the Northern Triangle.
Our current national policies, and particularly the ones advocated by Sessions and parroted by Secretary Kelly, actually appear likely to  further the power and influence of gangs rather than curbing it. Indeed, as fear and distrust of our Government and the police spreads in migrant communities throughout the U.S., the power, protection, and authority of criminal gangs in the community is almost certainly going to be enhanced.
I think it’s also useful to “keep it in perspective.”Although the power of individual gangs has ebbed and flowed with time, gangs are a well-established historical phenomenon. Indeed, at least one historian has pointed to continuous battles between warring barons and their respective knights as the antecedents of today’s criminal gangs: ruthless, violent, structured on loyalty and fear, greedy, and insatiable. The United States probably does as good a job as any country of dealing with and controlling gang violence. But, it’s unlikely that even we are going to be able to completely eliminate it, any more than we will be able to completely eradicate crime.
PWS
04-22-17

DEPORTATION EXPRESS: U.S. Courts Appear Ready To “Green Light” Summary Removal Of Asylum Seekers Without Regard To Due Process — Advocates Striking Out In Attempts To Get Meaningful Judicial Review Of Expedited Removal — Trump Administration’s Plans To Expand Expedited Removal Likely To Deny Thousands Day In Court!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/17/politics/supreme-court-castro-expedited-removal/index.html

By Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter  writes:

“(CNN)The Supreme Court on Monday left in place a lower court opinion rejecting claims by undocumented Central American women and children — who were apprehended immediately after arriving in the country without authorization — seeking asylum.

Lawyers for the families sought to challenge their expedited removal proceedings in federal court arguing they face gender-based violence at home, but a Philadelphia-based federal appeals court held that they have no right to judicial review of such claims.
The court’s action means the government can continue to deny asylum seekers placed in expedited removal a chance to have their cases heard by federal court.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, who has his first full week on the court starting Monday, did not participate in the decision.
The case, initially brought under the Obama administration, comes as the Trump administration has vowed to more strictly enforce immigration laws.
Originally, 28 mothers and their children entered the US border in Texas in late 2015. They were immediately placed in expedited removal proceedings. Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, they argue they suffered “gender-based violence, including sexual assault, by men from whom they could not escape” and that they were targeted by gangs because “they are single women residing without a male household member to protect them.” They sought to challenge their removal proceedings in federal court, arguing that they did not receive substantive procedural rights to which they were entitled.
A federal appeals court ruled against the petitioners, arguing that Congress could deny review for those who have been denied initial entry into the country who were apprehended close to the border. The court essentially treated the petitioners as equal to those who arrived at the border but had not yet entered.
“We conclude that Congress may, consonant with the Constitution, deny habeas review in federal court of claims relating to an alien’s application for admission to the country, at least as to aliens who have been denied initial entry or who, like Petitioners, were apprehended very near the border and, essentially, immediately after surreptitious entry into the country,” wrote the majority of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
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Here’s a link to the Third Circuit’s decision in Castro v. DHShttp://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/161339p.pdf
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This could be the real “sleeper” in the Trump Administration’s “get tough” immigration enforcement plan. Given the 540,000+ backlog in the U.S. Immigration Courts, the Administration appears to be looking for ways to circumvent the court process entirely wherever possible.
DHS could easily change the existing regulations to “max out” so called “Expedited Removal” by DHS enforcement officers by applying it to everyone unable to establish at least two years’ continuous residence in the U.S. (Currently, the cutoff is 14 days if apprehended within 100 miles of the border.)
Even individuals who meet the two-year requirement could be subsumed in the Expedited Removal regime. Without a right to be represented by counsel, to have a full hearing before an impartial decision maker, and to appeal to the Article III Federal Courts, an individual wrongly placed in the expedited process would have little chance of avoiding summary removal without a chance to apply for relief that might be available before the Immigration Court.
While the Supreme Court’s refusal to grant certiorari in Castro is not a decision on the merits, to date no circuit has ruled in favor of the claimants. Unless and until that happens, it is unlikely that the Supremes will even consider the advocates’ arguments for at least some degree of judicial review of Expedited Removal.
PWS
04-17-17

“The Gathering Storm” — From Small Cities In The East To Big States In The West, Resistance To Trump-Sessions “War On Sanctuary” Builds!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/eight-miles-from-the-white-house-hyattsville-embraces-sanctuary-label/2017/04/04/40a10a60-18cb-11e7-855e-4824bbb5d748_story.html?utm_term=.818671d4a34a

Arelis R. Hernández reports in the WashPost:
“The Hyattsville City Council defiantly voted Monday night to declare itself an official “sanctuary city,” backing a bill that would prohibit its small local police force from enforcing federal immigration law.

The preliminary 8-2 vote — which must be confirmed in two weeks — could make the Maryland suburb a target for the Trump administration, which has promised to withhold federal dollars from sanctuary jurisdictions and says such policies undermine public safety.

Council member Patrick Paschall, the bill’s lead sponsor, said the legislation codified the city’s existing practice of “non-intervention” in federal immigration matters. The ordinance’s authors said they explicitly used the word “sanctuary” — a loose term that means different things in different places — to make clear to immigrant residents that they do not have to fear local police.

“There is no federal law that requires municipalities to participate in immigration enforcement,” Paschall said.

Hyattsville would be the second official “sanctuary city” in Maryland and the first in Prince George’s County. Takoma Park, in neighboring Montgomery County, has provided official sanctuary to undocumented immigrants for more than three decades.
The sanctuary issue has triggered a delicate dance of sorts in many larger jurisdictions, including Maryland’s Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and Virginia’s Fairfax County, which have struggled to declare themselves immigrant friendly but also willing to comply with federal immigration agents in cases of serious crime or when agents have a criminal warrant.

Both President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have threatened to deny funding to sanctuary jurisdictions, but neither has given details of which localities would be targeted.”

http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/04/politics/california-sanctuary-state-bill-sb-54/index.html

Madison Park reports on CNN:

“San Francisco (CNN)–In defiance of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, the California Senate passed a bill to limit state and local police cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Senate Bill 54, which unofficially has been called a “sanctuary state” bill, bars state and local law enforcement agencies from using their resources, including money, facility, property, equipment or personnel, to help with immigration enforcement. They would be prohibited from asking about immigration status, giving federal immigration authorities access to interview a person in custody or assisting them in immigration enforcement.

The bill passed the Senate in a 27-12 vote along party lines with Democrats in support and Republicans in opposition.
SB 54 heads to the California State Assembly, where Democrats hold a super majority. If it passes there, the bill would go to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.
Its author, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León hailed SB 54’s passage on Monday as “a rejection of President Trump’s false and cynical portrayal of undocumented residents as a lawless community.”

What the bill says
SB 54 bars law enforcement from detaining a person due to a hold request, responding to federal immigration enforcement’s requests for notification or providing information about a person’s release date unless that’s already available publicly.
“Our precious local law enforcement resources will be squandered if police are pulled from their duties to arrest otherwise law-abiding maids, busboys, labors, mothers and fathers,” said de León in a statement.

The bill contains some exceptions, allowing local agencies to transfer individuals to federal immigration authorities if there is a judicial warrant or if the person has been previously convicted of a violent felony. It also requires notification to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement of scheduled releases of people who have been convicted of violent felonies.
“No one wants dangerous or violent criminals roaming our streets,” de León said.
Opposition to the bill
But critics say the bill has critical flaws.
State Sen. Jeff Stone, a Republican representing southwest Riverside County, argued on the floor that he recognized many undocumented workers don’t commit crimes and play a vital role in California. But he said that’s not what SB 54 addresses.
“We’re prohibiting local and state unfettered communications with federal authorities in getting many dangerous and violent felons out of our communities,” Stone said.
He said the latest amendments to the bill don’t cover other serious crimes such as human trafficking, child abuse and assault with a deadly weapon.
“How many more Kate Steinles do we need?” he asked.”

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Seems to be on a collision course, as Nolan Rappaport and I  have pointed out.

PWS

04/05/17