THURSDAY AM DACA UPDATE: WASHPOST SAYS DEMS SHOULD TRADE WALL FOR DREAMERS — TAL @CNN REPORTS ON THE “FOUR PILLARS” OF IMMIGRATION NEGOTIATIONS ON THE HILL!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/take-a-deal-for-the-dreamers-build-the-wall/2018/01/10/d02a5c06-f640-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html?utm_term=.276f11c859c2
January 10 at 7:21 PM

PRESIDENT TRUMP says he is optimistic a deal can be struck to shield “dreamers,” the young undocumented immigrants whose lives he put in jeopardy by stripping them of work permits and deportation protection, beginning March 5. His price, and that of many Republicans, is up to $33 billion in border-security measures, including Mr. Trump’s “beautiful” wall.

If that’s the deal — not one freighted with a laundry list of other items on the GOP wish list — Democrats should take it.

Granted, Mr. Trump once told Americans that a border wall, paid for by Mexico, would cost $4 billion. After that, he said $6 billion or $7 billion, and later $10 billion. Now his administration says it’s really $18 billion for 722 miles of wall, of which just 316 miles would be a brand-new structure along the 2,000-mile southwest frontier. Oh, and Mexico’s credit card seems to be missing.

The wall is a dumb idea. It won’t do much to suppress illegal border crossings, which in any event have been falling for decades. And the additional border-security spending proposed by the administration, including thousands of new Border Patrol agents, is largely a waste. Rather than seriously addressing the opioid epidemic, or mounting cyberwarfare threats, or America’s crumbling infrastructure, the president wants to fortify a border where illegal crossings, as measured by Border Patrol apprehensions, are already at their lowest point since the Nixon administration.

But consider how rare it is that a dumb idea in Congress actually buys something smart in return. In this case, the return on that dumb idea would be huge. (And betting that the courts will save the dreamers is too risky, notwithstanding a federal judge’s ruling Tuesday freezing dreamers’ protections — for now.)

The wall’s $18 billion price tag would be spread over a decade. If a few billion dollars annually is the trade-off that provides certainty — a pathway to citizenship or permanent legal status — for nearly 700,000 young immigrants brought to this country as children by their parents, it’s worth it. Because the alternative — all those lives ruined, all those jobs lost, all that education and promise cut short — is much worse.

Democrats who choke on the wall, loath to hand Mr. Trump a political triumph, might ask themselves what other deals they might strike that would do so much tangible good, for so many people, so immediately — and at such a relatively modest price. The likely answer is: very few.

Some Republicans are angling for more than half a loaf. Using the dreamers as hostages, they want to decimate legal immigration, slash family reunification visas and dissolve the lottery system that provides visas for people from Africa and other regions that generate relatively few immigrants.

Those measures would inflict real harm on real people. By contrast, spending billions on border security, while profligate, has enjoyed bipartisan support in the past. In 2006, many prominent Democrats, including then-Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, voted for 700 miles of fencing at the southwest frontier, albeit at a time when illegal crossings were more than three times greater than they are today.

Many in Congress may have lost the muscle memory required to strike a compromise, but here’s a reminder: In politics, as in life, compromise is often painful. That doesn’t mean you refuse it.”

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Meanwhile, over at CNN, Tal and her colleague Ashley Killough file the following reports:

“Lawmakers compete to carry President’s mantle on DACA as talks continue

By: Tal Kopan, CNN

If the “four pillars” that emerged out of the White House immigration meeting spurred anything Wednesday on Capitol Hill, it was a fresh PR strategy.

A variety of competing factions continue to pursue their proposals on resolving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a policy President Donald Trump is seeking to end that protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children.

As the lawmakers touted their proposals Wednesday, though, they made an effort to explain just how their own push is the one that meets the President’s wishes — even as all of them took different approaches. The marketing underscored how essential Trump’s approval is to any deal — and how much lawmakers believe he can still be convinced.

The White House meeting settled on four check boxes for Trump’s signature, although he told lawmakers he’d sign whatever the group came up with:

A fix for DACA recipients.

Money for border security.

Dealing with “chain migration” or family-based sponsorship.

Ending the diversity lottery.

As lawmakers sought to fill in the details Wednesday, they made sure to explain how their proposals related to the President’s guidelines.

More: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/10/politics/daca-latest-talks/index.html

Here are the key players in Congress on immigration

By Ashley Killough and Tal Kopan, CNN

As President Donald Trump led the widely-televised bipartisan meeting at the White House on Tuesday, he was surrounded by a flock of lawmakers from both parties and both houses of Congress.

A massive issue like immigration has many competing interests at stake, drawing in groups of lawmakers who work on competing proposals

In just one effort to streamline the process, the four second-in-command congressional leaders — Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer — got together Wednesday afternoon to try to sort through the efforts.

“We are not going to default to existing groups. There were too many groups to count and they were basically getting nowhere,” Cornyn told reporters. “So that’s why, I think, the need to move to this level.”

But Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican member of another group, says it’s his “Gang of Six” that’s leading the way. “Somebody has to put forward a document. Somebody has to put forward a bill,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing.”

A variety of formal and informal groups are still meeting and doing their own work, some designed to find the middle ground and some designed to pull talks to the left or right. Here’s a look at the key players across the political spectrum that have taken the lead.

More: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/11/politics/key-players-immigration-congress/index.html”

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I’ve been saying for some time now that a “Wall for Dreamers” deal might be the best the Dems can do. As the Post points out, although the “The Wall” probably is “overkill” in terms of border security, at least the money gets us something in return: the Dreamers are one of our country’s most valuable assets. People over “things.” Or, as we used to say in college, “nothing gets broken, no-one gets hurt.”

Whether or not the “deal” outlined by the Post is actually out there to be “closed” remains to be seen. It apparently would only address two of the four “pillars” described by Tal and Ashley. That seems entirely reasonable to me; but, of course, I’m not one of the negotiators. And, Trump said he would “sign anything that Congress sends him” on the topic.

PWS

01-11-18

ADMINISTRATION PANICS AS BORDER ARRIVALS (NOT SURPRISINGLY) CONTINUE TO RISE – BUT, CLAIMS OF AN “EMERGENCY” ARE TOTALLY BOGUS! – TAL @ CNN REPORTS!

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/10/politics/border-crossings-up-trump-effect/index.html

Tal isn’t just following DACA. She “does it all” when it comes to migration. Here’s her latest report:

“Trump admin grapples with rise in border crossing numbers it once touted

By Tal Kopan, CNN

The Trump administration is pointing to a recent uptick in illegal border crossings as evidence that it needs more authority — even as it continues to tout a longer-term decrease as proof of the effectiveness of its policies.

Illegal entries to the US have risen substantially over the past few months.

In a rare statement on its monthly report of apprehensions and rejections at the border, the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday both praised the numbers and said work remained.

“The final border apprehension numbers of 2017, specifically at the southern border, undeniably prove the effectiveness of President Trump’s commitment to securing our borders,” said DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton, noting the numbers over the last year were 40% below the final year of President Barack Obama’s tenure.

But, Houlton said, the recent increase spelled trouble.

“The significant increase over the last month in the number of family units and unaccompanied children coming across the border illegally highlights the dire need for Congress to immediately adopt responsible pro-American immigration reforms. … The Secretary will require fixes to these loopholes as part of any immigration package negotiated (in a meeting Tuesday) at the White House.”

After a sharp drop in the number of undocumented immigrants attempting to cross the border at the beginning of the Trump administration, the President and his administration frequently cited the low numbers as evidence that Trump’s immigration policy works.

But starting in the summer, crossings began to again approach historic levels. With 40,513 apprehensions and rejections at the southern border in December, the total numbers are behind fiscal years 2016 and 2017, but surpass crossings in fiscal years 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The administration has employed aggressive rhetoric and spoken consistently about securing the border and cracking down on undocumented immigrants in the US. Arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement are up — but little has operationally changed at the border and deportations last year lagged behind the last year of Obama’s presidency.

Trump is pushing for aggressive policies as part of a deal to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, as conservatives argue that allowing undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship will only add incentives for potential illegal crossings in the future.”

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We’re clearly dealing with “Amateur Night at the Bijou” here! Anybody with even passing familiarity with or competency in immigration policy would know better than to do the “victory dance” based on a couple of months of DHS enforcement data. It’s not like DHS is renowned for either the accuracy of its enforcement statistics or the depth and quality of analysis thereof.

First, and foremost, the increased arrivals of families and children from the Northern Triangle presents no real security issue. Most turn themselves in at the border or the nearest Border Patrol Station and seek asylum. Indeed, if anything, the unrelentingly negative rhetoric of the Trumpsters probably leads a few individuals who would otherwise turn themselves in or apply at the port of entry to try to get inland to avoid more or less mandatory detention.

Clearly, the driver here is conditions in the Northern Triangle, which continue to deteriorate, notwithstanding the absurd political determination by Secretary Neilsen that it was” A-OK” to send long term residents from El Salvador back there. The solution is definitely not more militarization of the border or more unnecessary and inhumane detention.

No, its a combination of 1) working to improve conditions that force folks to flee the Northern Triangle; 2) working with the UNHCR other stable countries in the Americas to distribute the flow more evenly among “receiving countries;” and 3) developing either a temporary refuge program or a more realistic, generous, and easily administered program to grant asylum, withholding, and/or relief under the CAT to those many who meet the legal requirements properly interpreted.

At bottom, there really isn’t much difference between these folks and waves of Cuban refugees whom we accepted, processed, and successfully integrated into our society with greatly beneficial results for both the Cubans and America.

Time to be done with the xenophobia and the racially-inspired bias against Central Americans fleeing for their lives.  No, this Administration is unlikely to do that. And, that’s why the problems caused by irregular migration are likely to continue long into the future no matter how much “tough guy” rhetoric Trump or anyone else spews out and how much we spend on unnecessary border militarization.

Yes, there are real security and law enforcement problems at the Southern Border. For sure! But more women and children fleeing conditions in the Northern Triangle aren’t among them. If anything, the Trump Administration’s fixation on those who aren’t a real security problem deflects focus from the real problems of drug and human smuggling and the possible entry of those who would actually be risks to our safety and security.

PWS

01-10-18

 

TRUMP’S MEETING WITH LEGISLATORS ON IMMIGRATION – LOTS OF TALK, MANY SOUND BITES, NO CLEAR “BOTTOM LINE!” — Including Reports From WashPost’s David Nakamura and CNN’s Tal Kopan!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2018/01/09/trump-urges-congress-to-pass-bill-of-love-to-protect-dreamers-but-reiterates-demand-for-border-wall/?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_trump-dreamers-2pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.873d6df1082a

David Nakamura reports for the Washington Post:

“President Trump met with a bipartisan group of Congress members at the White House on Tuesday in an effort to revive stalled talks over immigration, urging lawmakers to pass a “bill of love” to protect some undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Trump expressed confidence that a deal over the fate of the “dreamers” — immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as children — was within reach ahead of a March 5 deadline he set before work permits issued under an Obama-era program to nearly 700,000 begin to expire in mass. The president reiterated his demands for border wall funding and curbs to some legal immigration programs, but he said he would defer to lawmakers to hammer out the details and sign whatever bill they put in front of him.

“I really do believe Democrat and Republican, the people sitting in this room, really want to get something done,” Trump said.

“My position is going to be what the people in this room come up with,” he added. “I have a lot of respect for people on both sides. What I approve will be very much reliant on what people in this room come to me with. If they come to me with things I’m not in love with I’m going to do it.”

Lawmakers in both parties have said they are waiting for the Trump White House to specify its demands before the negotiations can move forward. Democrats and some moderate Republicans have resisted funding a border wall at a time when illegal immigration over the Mexico border is at record lows.

In an unusual meeting, Trump allowed reporters to remain in the Cabinet Room for more than 50 minutes as he and the Congress members laid out their bargaining positions. Trump challenged the group to “put country before party” to get a deal done.

“Lives are hanging in the balance. We’ve got the time to do it,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), an original sponsor of legislation to legalize dreamers.

During the meeting, Trump also addressed other news, saying he believed a presidential run by media mogul Oprah Winfrey would be fun, but predicting she would ultimately chose to forgo a White House bid despite some enthusiasm among Democrats after she gave a rousing speech at the Golden Globe awards this week.

“I don’t think she’s gonna run,” Trump said, responding to a question from a reporter. “I know her very well.”

Trump announced in September his plans to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but he gave lawmakers a six-month window to pass a legislative deal before the temporary work permits begin to expire at a rate of nearly 1,000 per day. (About 122 immigrants a day already are losing their work permits after failing to renew their applications last fall.)

But negotiators have been at an impasse over how to proceed. Democrats and some moderate Republicans are eying a Jan. 19 deadline for a must-pass government spending deal as leverage to get a deal done on DACA. But the talks are deadlocked over Trump’s demands for the wall and cuts to legal immigration, including ending a diversity visa lottery and ending what the president calls “chain migration,” the practice of Americans sponsoring extended family members for green cards.

Democrats have balked at accepting major new border security provisions, saying the administration’s call for $18 billion in funding for hundreds of miles of a border wall is costly and unnecessary at a time when illegal immigration levels have plummeted.

Lawmakers from both said expressed confidence that the meeting had been productive and said the group had succeeded in narrowing the framework for discussions — yet both sides defined that framework in different terms. Democrats suggested they were open to some border security enhancements, but they emphasized that they agreed with Trump that broader talks over additional changes to the immigration system must be done after a deal over the dreamers is completed.

But Republicans said they expect Democrats to address four areas — border security, the fate of the dreamers, the diversity visa lottery and curbs to “chain migration.”

During the talks in the Cabinet Room, Trump appeared at one point to agree with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who said Democrats are seeking a “clean” DACA bill without additional border security provisions. House Majority Leaders Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) then interjected to insist that Republicans want security included.

“Mr. President, you need to be clear, though,” McCarthy said. When we talk about just DACA, we don’t want to be back here two years later. We have to have security.”

Trump responded: “I think that’s what she’s saying.”

Further confusing matters, Trump also said he hoped to pursue a “comprehensive” immigration bill after lawmakers strike a deal on the dreamers. Comprehensive bills, which would deal with work visas and other elements of the immigration system, failed on Capitol Hill during the tenures of both Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

Republican leaders of the House Judiciary and Homeland Security committees said they will introduce a bill Wednesday that will represent a purely Republican solution to the DACA dilemma, offering legal status to immigrants who had participated in the DACA program alongside a suite of measures that go well beyond the parameters of the bipartisan negotiations. Two Republicans familiar with the bill say it is expected to include several measures Democrats have roundly rejected, such as sanctions for “sanctuary cities” that do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement agencies.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said the bill would be a “good foundation” for the bipartisan talks and that more would have to be done after the initial deal is struck,

Trump indicated during the meeting that he would accept a border wall that includes elements of fencing and surveillance tools, such as aerial drones, in the place of a steel or concrete structure. Democrats said they were supportive of additional border security but declined to say whether they were open to supporting funding for a wall.

“That’s all part of the negotiations,” McCarthy said. “What today was about was bringing the narrowing of solving this problem and finding common ground.”

He said negotiators for both parties were scheduled to meet Wednesday to continue the talks.

Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.”

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And, here are the latest reports from Tal Kopan and her colleagues at CNN, who are on top of the DACA story.

Trump contradicts self repeatedly in immigration meeting

By Tal Kopan, CNN

President Donald Trump appeared to contradict himself multiple times in a meeting on immigration with a bipartisan group of lawmakers Tuesday — a reflection of growing frustration from Capitol Hill about the lack of direction from the White House on the issue.

The President at times suggested he would be looking to sign everything from a stand-alone fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — set to expire in March — to comprehensive immigration reform, often appearing to being guided by lawmakers in the room to modify his positions.

The comments came during a nearly hour-long conversation between the roughly two dozen lawmakers, the President and White House staff that the press was allowed to record — a window into the difficult negotiations that still surround the issue of replacing DACA, which protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation, and border security.

At the end of the session, Trump suggested that ultimately, he would sign whatever he was presented with.

More: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/09/politics/donald-trump-immigration-contradictions/index.html

House conservatives prep own DACA bill

By Tal Kopan, CNN

A group of House conservatives are set to introduce their own proposal on immigration this week — a move that could seek to pull ongoing bipartisan negotiations to the right.

Reps. Bob Goodlatte and Raul Labrador said the bill was expected Wednesday — with Goodlatte telling President Donald Trump about the effort in a White House meeting with bipartisan lawmakers Tuesday and Labrador speaking with reporters earlier in the day.

The meeting with Trump was largely focused on resolving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which Trump has opted to end but says he wants preserved legislatively in exchange for border security and immigration reforms.

According to a source familiar with the effort, the bill was discussed in Republican conference on Tuesday and will include virtually the entire wish-list of conservatives.

The bill comes from a handful of conservative Republican members from Speaker Paul Ryan’s immigration working group — though not some key moderate members of that group. The team had a meeting at the White House the Tuesday before Christmas, which included Reps. Mike McCaul, the House Homeland Security Committee chairman; Goodlatte, the House Judiciary Committee chairman; Labrador, the chairman of the immigration subcommittee on Judiciary; Martha McSally, the chairwoman of the border subcommittee on Homeland; and Mark Meadows, the conservative House Freedom Caucus chairman.

More: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/09/politics/conservative-house-daca-bill-goodlatte-mccaul-labrador/index.html

And more on the overall meeting in our main piece:

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/09/politics/white-house-congress-lawmakers-immigration-daca/index.html

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Got it? It’s all “clear as mud” to me!

Lots of talk; whether it results in action, TBD. Immigration does seem to be on the “front burner” these days.

 

PWS

01-09-18

CNN: CURRENT STATE OF DACA NEGOTIATIONS: “A MESS!”

 

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/08/politics/daca-immigration-negotiations-latest/index.html

 

 

Lauren Fox, Phil Mattingly, & Tal Kopan report for CNN:

“(CNN)Republicans and Democrats will sit down with President Donald Trump in a bipartisan meeting Tuesday aimed at moving closer to protecting hundreds of thousands of immigrants from deportation, but a long-entrenched partisan divide over immigration policy and a looming budget deadline are threatening progress.

Republican and Democrats involved in negotiations over the must-pass January spending deal say that DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — has become the key to unlocking any funding agreement and some are frustrated with how negotiations are unfolding. Republicans charge that Democrats have all but halted talks on spending caps until there is a resolution on DACA, which gives undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children a chance to stay, work or study in the US without fear of deportation.
“Seems to me that Democrats are holding that deal hostage for a DACA negotiation and we are meeting at the White House tomorrow on a bipartisan basis with the President to see what that might look like,” said the Senate’s No. 2, Texas Republican John Cornyn. “But I think that’s going to make the January 19 date pretty hard to hit.”
“It’s a mess,” said one person directly involved in the negotiations.
A separate GOP aide said the broader environment for both parties simply “isn’t in a good place right now.”
Democrats argue the White House hasn’t been fully engaged to the degree it needs to be and say that a long and broad policy wish list released last week just further irritated Democrats working closely on the immigration compromise. One Democratic aide argued the White House’s list was “out of the realm of reality.”

Republicans can’t avoid Trump’s wall promises in DACA talks
“No wall,” said Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California. “Listen, I believe in border security. I think it’s very important that we have a secure border, but spending billions and billions of dollars on this wall because of a political promise and a campaign promise is ridiculous.”
What Tuesday’s meeting means
The meeting at the White House on Tuesday was expected to — at the very least — symbolize that Trump was growing more serious about finding a bipartisan resolution. But adding more tension to the anticipated meeting for Democrats is the fact the White House invited GOP lawmakers Democrats view as openly hostile to finding a consensus deal on DACA.
In the background, details are still being worked out on what a plan to help recipients of DACA would look like, and a bipartisan group of Senate lawmakers led by Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina continues to negotiate.
However, the tensions that existed in December but had been overcome with a holiday deadline are playing out in real time now between the two parties.
“I think this is going to be the flexion point where we get some things done or we don’t,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, said Monday afternoon on CNN.
On Capitol Hill, bipartisan talks have been ongoing for months and the group of senators led by Durbin and Graham acknowledge they need Trump to lay out clear priorities to move forward.
The thinking is that Trump — who secured the Republican Party’s nomination by promising mass deportations and a border wall — can offer political cover for Republicans who may be fearful of backing any immigration bill that is viewed as amnesty among their base. With Trump’s blessing, Republicans believe they can find a way to move ahead on DACA. Without it, the votes are compromised.
The bipartisan meeting at the White House on Tuesday comes after Trump met with Republicans last week at the White House and Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona refused to attend, citing the lack of bipartisanship.
White House chief of staff John Kelly, formerly the secretary of homeland security, will also be in the bipartisan meeting Tuesday and has been leading outreach to lawmakers on Capitol Hill on the ongoing talks.
Also on the list Tuesday are a host of lawmakers who would be expected, including Durbin and Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, a 2013 immigration reform veteran. But the list also includes red state Democrats like Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Jon Tester of Montana, as well as Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, who frequently votes with Republicans on immigration and border issues — a sign that the White House is looking to pick off as many Democrats as it can even if it can’t work with the party’s key negotiators.

The key for some negotiators attending the meeting is to convince Trump to keep any deal on DACA narrow. The agreement that is taking shape in Durbin and Graham’s group would offer a path to citizenship to DACA eligible immigrants, would include money for border security, would address the “chain migration” — or family-based sponsorship options — of the covered population and would end the diversity lottery in favor of reallocating those visas somewhere else, possibly to include a fix for Temporary Protected Status.
Flake told CNN he’s prepared to tell Trump on Tuesday that this DACA deal cannot include a whole host of immigration policy changes but instead has to be narrowly focused if Republicans want to succeed.
“This is not a comprehensive reform bill,” Flake said. “We can’t do one before March.”
More than one group pushing immigration plans
In addition to the bipartisan working group, conservatives including Cornyn and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa are having their own conversations, and Republican Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma are also going to be at the White House on Tuesday.
In the House, multiple efforts are underway as well, many led by rank-and-file members. Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas and Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar of California have released their own bipartisan framework for a deal after weeks of negotiations. Aguilar is the whip for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. That deal focuses on DACA and border security, but the lawmakers hope additional measures could be added if necessary to finalize a deal.
The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus — including Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, a longtime DACA advocate — had also been working to reach a compromise that before the break was similar in concept to what the Senate group was working on.
And, as in the Senate, a group of more conservative Republican lawmakers are working on their own proposal, including House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul of Texas and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, which would be strongly to the right of most of the bipartisan compromises. Both men will also be at the White House on Tuesday.
CNN’s Ted Barrett and Dana Bash contributed to this report.“

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Stay tuned!

PWS

01-09-17

 

EXCLUSIVE FROM TAL @ CNN: “Pair of lawmakers unveil bipartisan DACA plan!”

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/08/politics/bipartisan-daca-compromise-plan-unveiled/index.html

The always amazing Tal Kopan at CNN files this exclusive report on a possible “Dreamer Breakthrough:”

“Exclusive: Pair of lawmakers unveil bipartisan DACA plan

By Tal Kopan, CNN

A bipartisan pair of House members have reached a compromise on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and border security — a plan the two unlikely allies hope could provide a “foundation” for a deal President Donald Trump could sign into law.

Reps. Will Hurd, a Texas Republican, and Pete Aguilar, a California Democrat and whip for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, have been quietly working for weeks to develop their legislation, which the two sophomore lawmakers are releasing as a discussion draft as talks heat up on DACA ahead of a government funding deadline January 19 being used as leverage in Congress. The hope is, they say, that putting out a bipartisan proposal could speed up talks about resolving the issue.

The plan aims to be “as narrow as possible,” Hurd told CNN in an exclusive joint interview with Aguilar on Sunday night about the proposal.

The legislation draws heavily from other proposed legislation, a conscious decision by the two congressmen to lean on language that has already been vetted by committees and lawmakers, they say.

At the core of the deal would be a legislative way to enact DACA, an Obama administration program that protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation that Trump has decided to end.

The bill would offer qualifying individuals the ability to get in line for a green card and eventual citizenship after years of conditional residency, provided they meet certain requirements, including a background check and work, education or military service requirements. The bill doesn’t make explicit reference to sponsoring relatives, but the bill summary notes that existing law would prohibit parents of these individuals who came to the US illegally to return to their home country for at least 10 years before applying for a visa to come back, and the bill does nothing to erase that requirement. That addresses “chain migration,” or family-based migration, that Trump says he wants to cut.

Other provisions include increasing the number of immigration judges and attorneys, as the Justice Department has sought, to reduce the lengthy backlog of cases in immigration courts that cause people to stay in the US in limbo for years. The bill also coordinates efforts to improve conditions in Central America, to address factors that send undocumented immigrants to the US.

For the border, the bill draws heavily from Hurd’s “smart wall” bill that would direct the Department of Homeland Security to gain “operational control” of the border by the end of 2020 through “technology, physical barriers, levees, tools and other devices,” according to a bill summary shared with CNN.

Both lawmakers said they hope the deal can provide a basis for Congress to resolve the DACA issue, which Trump has said he wants replaced but only if paired with his border wall and some other immigration fixes.

Leadership has not officially blessed Hurd and Aguilar’s work, but party leaders on both sides, including the White House, have been looped in on its development, the lawmakers said.

“This is a DACA and border security fix,” Hurd said. “And if there’s other elements that have to be included in a broader deal to get signed into law, this is a foundation for that conversation.”

Aguilar said he has been whipping “in the weeds” on the issue, and Hurd has been working on his side of the aisle. Neither gave numbers of supporters, though Hurd estimated “dozens of Republicans” could back it.

“This is the building block that would have bipartisan support if it was on the floor tomorrow,” Aguilar added. “I feel confident about that. I feel the same as Will, if there are other pieces that have to come to get a signature, we’ll take a look.”

 

Unlikely allies

 

Both lawmakers were elected in 2014, both defeating incumbent congressmen of the opposite party, and both defended their seats in rematch challenges in 2016.

The partnership evolved out of Congressional Hispanic Caucus efforts to engage Republicans and see what they could support, Aguilar said. He even checked with his colleague Democrat Beto O’Rourke, whose district neighbors Hurd’s and who did a 24-hour livestreamed road trip with him to DC. O’Rourke affirmed that Hurd could be trusted, Aguilar said.

Both noted that they were not in Congress for previous immigration reform battles, unlike some of their counterparts in the Senate and broader House negotiations, something they see as an advantage.

“I think it grew out of two folks that, we don’t have all the wounds from all the other in-fights over these topics,” Hurd said.

“We’re having really substantive discussions in a way that some of our colleagues can’t because they’re trying to fight the battles from 10 and 15 and 20 years ago, or because this isn’t something that they work with or see a lot,” Aguilar added.

Aguilar represents the whip operation of the Hispanic caucus, which has been one of the leading voices on the left and closely listened to by Democratic leadership in negotiating a deal.

Hurd’s district in Texas contains the most border of any lawmaker in Congress, from the outer ring of El Paso on the western edge of Texas to the region due south of San Antonio in the middle of the state. It includes more than 800 miles of border with Mexico, which is more than one-third of the entire US-Mexico border. It’s also a district Hillary Clinton won in the last election and has a heavy Hispanic population.

That combination of knowledge, the duo says, was key.

“From my perspective, he has the most knowledge of issues that are going on in a border district than any member I’ve worked with or talked to, period, irrespective of party affiliation,” Aguilar said.

“This is about solving the problem, and the only way you solve the problem is to do it with people that have the respect of their colleagues and knowledge of the problem, and that is Pete Aguilar,” Hurd said.”

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Sounds like a plausible deal that “finesses” some of the longer term immigration policy questions. Thanks to Tal for passing this on.

PWS

01-08-18

 

TAL @ CNN: TRUMP ADMINISTRTATION EXPECTED TO INFLICT MORE UNNECESSARY PAIN & SUFFERING ON LATINO COMMUNITIES NEXT WEEK BY TERMINATING TPS FOR EL SALVADOR!

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/06/politics/homeland-security-nielsen-temporary-protected-status-el-salvador/index.html

Tal writes:

New DHS secretary faces first immigration litmus test

By Tal Kopan, CNN

New Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen faces her first major test on immigration policy next week with a decision that could force upwards of 250,000 Central Americans to leave the United States or scramble to find a way to stay.

Monday is the deadline for deciding the future of a protected status for nationals of El Salvador, and the Department of Homeland Security is widely expected to announce an end to the program, which has offered work permits and the right to live in the United States.

More than 260,000 Salvadorans are covered by the program, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services, but some experts estimate roughly 200,000 of them could be left without the protected status, based on previous department estimates. Salvadorans make up the largest share of immigrants protected by the program, and all of them have lived in the United States since at least 2001.

While the Homeland Security Department has not yet announced its decision, its actions this year have signaled a tougher approach to the program, which allows individuals from countries affected by crises like natural disasters, war and epidemics to stay in the US and work without being deported. The “temporary protected status,” as it is known, lasts for about two years before needing to be renewed. El Salvador’s status has been continually renewed since 2001, when it was granted after a series of earthquakes.

The pending deadline marks the first major immigration decision that will fall to Nielsen, who has thus far pledged to carry on the legacy of her predecessor and former boss, John Kelly, who is now White House chief of staff.

This fall, her department ended temporary protected designations for thousands of immigrants, including more than 50,000 from Haiti and thousands more from Nicaragua and Sudan, which critics say needlessly uproots contributing immigrants to send them back to unstable countries.

Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, however, extended protections for more than 80,000 Hondurans for six months because she said she was unable to reach a decision about whether conditions in that country had improved enough to terminate the protected status. That decision prompted heavy pressure from the White House to end the protections, sources said, though Duke later denied accounts that said she felt distressed and disappointed by the interference from Kelly.

Nielsen has the ultimate decision on whether to extend El Salvador’s status, but advocates on the issue from both sides of the aisle anticipate a similar decision to that on Haiti, a struggling country as well, but one the department says has recovered from its devastating earthquake in 2010. If Nielsen opts to end the Salvadorans’ protections, it likely would give them 12 to 18 months to apply for some other visa to stay in the United States or prepare to leave.

When the protections end, recipients revert to the status they have otherwise, which would likely leave a number of Salvadorans undocumented after nearly two decades of legally working and living in the United States.

Groups on the right that advocate for restricting immigration are pressing the Homeland Security Department to end the status for El Salvador, and were concerned during Nielsen’s confirmation that she would be adequately hard-line in implementing President Donald Trump’s immigration agenda.

“(Monday’s decision) is a test of whether she properly reflects the Trump campaign’s commitment to the people on these issues,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “We’d be very disappointed to see TPS extended yet again — with no credible justification.”

“Allowing them to stay longer only undermines the integrity of the program and essentially makes the ‘temporary’ protected status a front operation for backdoor permanent immigration,” added Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA.

There is one area of agreement between the groups on the right like FAIR and NumbersUSA and advocates on the left who say ending temporary protected status for El Salvador would be an unnecessary and cruel move — Nielsen’s decision will toss a political hot potato to Congress.

In ending the protections for other groups, the Homeland Security Department has urged outraged lawmakers to enact legislation rather than continue to force the secretary to make the decisions.

“It will be couched in nice terms, but it actually will be a dramatic move,” Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice Education Fund, a pro-immigration reform group, said of his expectation that DHS will urge Congress to act. “These are Salvadorans who have been living in the United States with work permission for almost 20 years. These are people who are American in all but their paperwork. And the idea that we’re going to try to drive them back to a country that is engulfed in weak governance and corruption and violence is unthinkable.”

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

How dumb is it to terminate TPS for El Salvador. I ran into a respected local immigration attorney over the Holidays. While she decried the stupidity and wastefulness of the anticipated decision to terminate Salvadoran TPS, she said that it would have little practical effect on most of her Salvadoran TPS clients.

By now, she related, they all have strong prima facie claims for what is known as “Non-Lawful Permanent Resident Cancellation of Removal” based on “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to U.S. citizen spouses or children. Once TPS runs out and these cases are placed on the already dysfunctional Immigration Court docket, she will file the Form EOIR-43 Application for Cancellation of Removal and seek work authorization while the cases are pending before the Immigration Courts. She anticipates that given the current and anticipated backlogs in the local U.S. Immigration Courts, those cases will receive “Individual (Merits) Hearings” about five or six years from now.

Some, she thinks most, will succeed. Those that fail will exercise their appellate rights, thus further extending the process. By that time, the already feeble rationale for actually removing them for the U.S. will be even weaker. And, by then, we likely will have a different Administration and Congress that hopefully will take a more realistic, humane, and pro-American approach to the plight of the TPSers.

How dumb is terminating TPS? I’d hazard to guess that Salvadorans with “permits’ — work authorizations granted under TPS — form the backbone of the booming Northern Virginia construction and remodeling industry. If they were removed tomorrow, everyone in the region would suffer an immediate, and not easily reversible, economic downturn.

Similar problems will occur throughout the nation, not to mention the likely destabilization of El Salvador from the return of so many individuals who had long resided in the U.S to a country already in serious turmoil. In  other words, the Trump Administration appears to be in the process of engineering a human rights, foreign policy, and economic disaster on multiple levels.

PWS

01-07-18

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

UPDATE:

Nick Miroff at the Washington Post reports that the Secretary of DHS has decided to end Salvadoran TPS, effective September 9, 2019.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-administration-to-end-provisional-residency-for-200000-salvadorans/2018/01/08/badfde90-f481-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html

“The Trump administration will announce Monday that it intends to cancel the provisional residency permits of about 200,000 Salvadorans who have lived in the country since at least 2001, leaving them vulnerable to deportation, according to mulitple people on Capitol Hill who’ve been apprised of the plan.

The administration will notify the Salvadorans they have until Sept. 9, 2019 to leave the United States or find a new way to obtain legal residency, according to a copy of the announcement prepared by the Department of Homeland Security that will be published Monday morning.

The Salvadorans were granted what is known as Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, after a series of earthquakes devastated the country in 2001.

DHS is preparing to announce that Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has decided the conditions in El Salvador have improved significantly since then, ending the original justification for the Salvadorans’ deportation protection, these people said.”

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Read Nick’s complete report at the link.

PWS

01-08-18

 

INSIDE THE LATEST DACA NEGOTIATIONS WITH TAL @ CNN—PLUS LAUREN FOX ON WHY SOME IN GOP FEAR THE “RUBIO EXAMPLE” ON IMMIGRATION!

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/05/politics/daca-trump-congress-next-steps/index.html

“By Tal Kopan, CNN

The outline of an immigration deal is starting to take shape in Washington after months of negotiations. Yet even as lawmakers draw close to a resolution, filling in the blanks could prove insurmountable.

Key Republican senators left a White House meeting Thursday optimistic about reaching a deal to make permanent the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — which protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation — along with some border security and immigration reforms.

But the meeting was boycotted by one Republican who is actively negotiating with Democrats, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, for not being bipartisan, and even the GOP lawmakers in the room did not all agree on how to hammer out remaining sticking points.

President Donald Trump called for a bipartisan meeting next week to follow, lawmakers said afterward, and Vice President Mike Pence personally called to invite Flake, who accepted.

Democrats, meanwhile, are keeping their options open — doubling down on bipartisan negotiations and declining opportunities to draw red lines around some of the proposals.

The shape of a deal

Republicans who were in the meeting, including Sens. John Cornyn of Texas, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma, all described a similar set of ingredients. A deal should include a resolution for DACA — which currently would be a path to citizenship for qualifying young undocumented immigrants, negotiators say — along with beefed up border security that would include physical barriers, some limits to family-based visa categories and the end of the diversity visa lottery.

But there was disagreement over what all that consists of specifically.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was at the White House meeting, and Flake — who have been negotiating intensely with Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois and Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, and Cory Gardner, a Republican — both said Thursday that the “chain migration,” or family-based migration, piece would be limited.

“We’re not going to fix it all,” Graham told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Thursday. “But the first round, there will be a down payment on breaking chain migration.”

Flake told reporters that the negotiations were settling on limiting the issue of “chain migration” to the DACA-eligible immigrants protected in the eventual deal.

But Lankford flatly rejected that approach.

“No,” he said when asked about Graham’s characterization of talks. “This has to be broader than that, because if you’re going to deal with chain migration, you deal with chain migration. … I can’t count on the fact that we’re going to do another (bill) in six months to resolve the rest of it.”

Lawmakers are discussing ending the diversity visa lottery but not erasing the 50,000 visas for legal permanent residency distributed through it annually. Graham said the deal would “use them more rationally” and Flake said it would be part of a trade for resolving a type of immigration protection for nationals of countries who suffer major disasters, which the Trump administration has moved to curtail.

And the border security piece still remained elusive, even as Trump continues to demand his wall. Lankford and Tillis made efforts to tell reporters that the “wall” piece does not mean a solid structure all the way across the entire southern border.

“That’s not what he means. That’s not what he’s tried to say — I think that’s what people are portraying it as,” Lankford said. But neither could describe what Republicans actually want out of a border deal, and they said they were still waiting for the White House to provide clarity on what it could and could not live with.

“What we did today that I thought was truly (a) breakthrough … we saw the President assume leadership on this issue beyond what he already has in terms of the message to the American people,” Tillis said. “Now it’s about the mechanics.”

Lankford said he anticipated something on “paper” from the White House by Tuesday, though lawmakers have been asking for such guidance for weeks.

Democrats hedge

Democrats, for their part, wave off Republican accusations that they are not being serious on a border security compromise as noise, pressing on in the Durbin-hosted negotiations.

“Anybody who thinks that isn’t paying attention or has their own agenda,” said a Democratic Senate aide.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer at a news conference Thursday dodged an opportunity to attack Republicans’ demands on “chain migration” and the visa lottery.

“I’m not going to negotiate in front of everyone here,” the New York Democrat said. “We’ve always said we need strong and real border security, not things that sound good but don’t do the job. And we need to help the (DACA recipients). That’s what we believe, and we will sit down with our Republican colleagues and try to negotiate.”

As a January 19 government funding deadline rapidly approaches, Democrats are still insisting a DACA deal must be had but are also continuing to hope negotiations bear fruit, alarming some progressives.

“It’s concerning that Schumer and Pelosi are not positioning and framing on this,” tweeted Center for American Progress’ Topher Spiro, speaking of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat. “They’re not setting themselves up to win public opinion and the blame game.”

In December, when Democrats helped Republicans punt the issue to January, a Senate Democratic leadership aide noted that it made no sense to force the issue when negotiations were still productive.

“I can’t imagine Sen. Schumer or Ms. Pelosi wanting to shut down the government over this issue when there is a bipartisan commitment to work on it in good faith,” Cornyn said Thursday, reiterating that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had promised Flake he would call a bill for a vote by the end of January if a compromise were reached.

Until then, 60 is the magic number — the number of votes required in the 51-49-split Senate to advance legislation.

“We got to get to 60, we’ve got to be reasonable and we’ve got to get it done,” Tillis said Wednesday.”

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

Meanwhile, Tal’s CNN colleague Lauren Fox tells us why some (but not all) in the GOP are “gun-shy” of involvement in immigration legislation.

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/05/politics/republicans-immigration-daca-fight-2013/index.html

“(CNN)A group of Republican senators is working alongside Democrats to try to protect hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from being deported in upcoming months, but the harsh lessons of a failed immigration reform push in 2013 loom large for a party barreling toward a midterm election.

For the last several months, familiar players in the immigration debate — South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham and Arizona’s Sen. Jeff Flake — have re-emerged, committed to finding a narrower legislative solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, a program that shielded young immigrants who came to the US illegally as children from deportation. But new faces have also joined in. Sen. James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, a state with a relatively small immigrant population, is involved, as is Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, the leader of the Senate’s campaign arm, and Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who worked as speaker of the House back in his state to pass immigration bills.
But in a climate where President Donald Trump swept the 2016 Republican primary with promises to build a wall at the southern border and applause lines to deport “bad hombres,” the politics for GOP senators involved in the negotiations are precarious. Still hanging in the backs of many members’ minds is the stark reality of what happened to a rising star in the Republican Party who stuck his neck out to fight to overhaul the country’s immigration system.
Notably absent in this debate is Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida — who spent most of his 2016 presidential campaign trying to answer for the Gang of Eight’s 2013 immigration bill. From debates to campaign ads, it was Rubio who endured the brunt of the right’s consternation.
close dialog

“I frankly think Sen. Rubio would have been better off embracing and not apologizing for what we did. The Gang of Eight bill was a good bill. I think that Republicans can survive more than we think we can survive on immigration,” said Flake, who will retire at the end of his term after facing a serious primary threat. “But on this, on DACA, look at this issue. This is a 70 to 80% issue across the board. People think kids shouldn’t be punished for the actions of their parents.”
One Democratic aide suggested the lesson from 2013 wasn’t to avoid immigration reform. After all, Graham was able to run for re-election successfully in a primary in South Carolina after backing the 2013 bill. Instead, the Democratic aide said, the lesson was “if you are going to get involved in immigration, do it all the way.”
Republicans working now say the politics of immigration reform have changed drastically for the party. Many have compared Trump’s opportunity on immigration to that of former President Richard Nixon’s détente with China, and Republican lawmakers hope that if they can convince the President to endorse a bipartisan immigration bill, it will offer political cover in the midterms from a mobilized base that has long opposed anything that gives immigrants who entered the country illegally a shot at legal status.
“At the end of the day, the base needs to recognize we would do nothing the President doesn’t support and the President has strong support from the base,” Tillis said when asked why he’d ever engage in talks on immigration after watching what happens to Republicans who got involved in the Gang of Eight negotiations in 2013.
On one hand, Republicans argue that Trump gives them the flexibility to pursue protections for immigrants eligible for DACA they never could have touched when President Barack Obama was in office. If the argument during the Obama administration was the base couldn’t trust Obama to enforce immigration laws or secure the border, Republicans believe the base will follow Trump wherever he leads them on immigration.
“We all agree that this president is the first president in my adult life time who really is in a position to to deliver on the promise that every other president has made and failed to produce,” Tillis said.
Even with Trump, however, there is still a liability in jumping headfirst into immigration reform. After the President attended a dinner with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, in the fall and Democrats suggested Trump had agreed to support the DREAM Act, conservative news site Breitbart declared Trump was “Amnesty Don.”
GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a hard-liner on immigration, blasted Trump on Twitter: “@RealDonaldTrump Unbelievable! Amnesty is a pardon for immigration law breakers coupled with the reward of the objective of their crime.”
Other conservatives suggested the President had violated his promise on the campaign trail.
For now, the bipartisan effort to protect DACA recipients is far narrower than anything the Gang of Eight attempted — and the Republicans who are new to the talks insist on keeping it that way. In exchange for a potential path to citizenship for young immigrants, Republicans would get additional border security that included barriers, more personnel and technology. And anything agreed to, again, would have to have the blessing of the White House.
“I think it will be hard for Breitbart to attack Republicans who support Donald Trump’s immigration plan,” said GOP consultant and former Rubio spokesman Alex Conant.
Some also argue that DACA recipients themselves are easier to defend on the campaign trail, no matter how conservative your district is.
“I think it’s much harder to arouse hostility against the DREAMers,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told CNN. “But I also think the President is making real progress in controlling the border and dealing with illegals and going after MS-13.”
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican who has worked for years on immigration reform in the House and has seen the politics evolve, said he’s been “encouraged” by how many Republicans still want to be involved despite the risks.
“The safe thing to do is just stay away from the issue, but I have been very encouraged by the number of Republicans who want to get involved,” Diaz-Balart said.

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

No deal yet, and not clear there will be.

At some point, the GOP is going to have to start governing in the overall public interest, not just the interests of the 20-30% of  voters who make up the dreaded “Trump Base.” Yeah, I understand that without the support of the “Trump Base” the GOP might revert to its proper place as a minority party.  But, eventually, even the “Base,” plus gerrymandering, plus voter suppression won’t be able to save the GOP. Leaving the retrogressive policies of “the Base” behind would make the GOP more competitive with the rest of the electorate. It would also make America better and stronger, both domestically and internationally. And, assuredly, the “Trump Base” represents a “dying breed” in American politics. It’s just a question  of how nasty and for how long its “death throes” will last.

PWS

01-05-17

TAL @ CNN: DID DEMS “LOSE LEVERAGE” BY REFUSING TO SHUT DOWN USG OVER DREAMERS?

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/22/politics/daca-leverage-democrats/index.html

Tal writes:

“Washington (CNN)In the end, the calendar won — and that has some recalculating who will have leverage in January for negotiations on immigration.

Congress finished up its business for the year Thursday night and left town without resolving major outstanding issues — including a resolution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which lawmakers had repeatedly pledged to fix before the end of the year.
Republicans voted to pass an extension of government funding through mid-January without acting on immigration, health care or disaster spending issues, pushing a showdown into January.
Some DACA advocates worry that by not forcing a government shutdown fight, they gave up leverage for next year.
“I think it’s pretty evident that — how do I say this kindly — that there was some leverage potentially to do (DACA) this year, I think Nancy (Pelosi) and the Democrats kind of abandoned it,” said Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, who has long supported immigration reform. “But I’m still committed to getting it done and I think it will get done.”
close dialog
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DACA protected from deportation young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children. But after President Donald Trump decided to end the program, DACA permits are set to begin expiring in early March. So the closer talks get to that date, it could make Democrats more desperate to secure a fix, and they will have to swallow more concessions — or at least so some Republicans hope.
“Yeah, I do have concerns about that,” Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat who’s a leading progressive advocate for DACA in the Senate, said about the potential that a deal will get worse for supporters as negotiations slip into the new year.
Supporters also note that despite Trump’s plan to have no permits expire before March by offering a renewal window, more than 20,000 DACA recipients were either unable or unwilling to renew, meaning an average of 122 of them are losing their protections every day. Moreover, experts have expressed concern that any replacement program will take time to establish, resulting in potential gaps in protections the later it gets.
Harris noted the daily number of individuals losing status and living with the fear of possible deportation and inability to work.
“These timelines are not theoretical,” she said. “There is literally a consequence each day we don’t get it done.”
Her concerns were echoed by Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, who has been pushing hard in the House for a compromise on DACA.
“I think the later it gets on this issue, the more difficult it will be to put together a workable compromise for everyone,” Curbelo said.

Negotiations continue

Negotiations will continue during the holiday break on possible solutions such as pairing a DACA fix with conservative asks like border security, interior enforcement and some elements of immigration reform. On the Senate side, Democratic Whip Dick Durbin’s bipartisan working group will continue to meet, likely by phone, according to a source familiar.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, pledged Wednesday to call a bill to the floor if the working group can reach a deal that’s acceptable to both sides.
On the House side, bipartisan talks have made substantial progress and the result of those efforts could be introduced in January, when lawmakers are looking to move a deal, though House leadership has not committed to endorse any of those efforts.
One Republican aide said that if lawmakers can reach a compromise in the time the continuing budget resolution buys them, leverage won’t change much from the end of December. But closer to March is less forgiving for Democrats.
“I don’t think it’s a victory for either side. It epitomizes what Congress does best, which is kicking the can down the road,” the aide said on condition of anonymity in order to speak candidly. “Now, if we manage to kick it down the road past January 19, maybe the dynamic changes.”

Sending a message

Democrats hope that the strong show of force against the continuing resolution — which passed the House with only 13 Democrats and lost 16 Republicans, and passed the Senate with 32 Democratic no votes — will send a message to Republicans that they will have to negotiate in January.
As lawmakers had faced the possibility of a government shutdown over Christmas, Republicans who have had major opposition to various elements of government funding mostly agreed to punt the issue to January. But Democrats expect that the next go-round, they will not be so willing, and Republicans will have to come asking for Democratic votes.
“I think we end up being in a better position, because they cannot hold their caucus,” said Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona. “At some point, the Freedom Caucus and the sort of conservative hawks will end up revolting against a CR, and that’s why we need to stay strong, in the House and in the Senate.”
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, of which Gallego is a member, made a last-minute march to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office on Thursday to urge him to hold his caucus against the continuing resolution. While it was never expected that Democrats would deny the House-passed CR the votes it needed, especially with vulnerable red state Democrats up for re-election, the hope was that a strong showing of no votes would help send a message to Republicans.
“It keeps the momentum, and I think as we get into more complicated issues like the (spending) cap and others, that presence is just going to get stronger and stronger, because internally they’re going to get to the same point that Boehner was at and Ryan’s been at trying to hold those groups,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, referring to former House Speaker John Boehner and current Speaker Paul Ryan.
“I think it’ll intensify and become more urgent and bitter, period,” Grijalva added of January’s new deadline. “There’s no way to go but it getting more bitter.”
******************************************
And, according to this article in yesterday’s Washington Post, Dreamers and their advocates were absolutely outraged at Democrats who went back on their supposed “pledge” and voted to keep the USG open for at least three more weeks. https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/democrats-who-supported-spending-bill-face-angry-backlash-over-immigration/2017/12/22/242a8ef4-e73f-11e7-a65d-1ac0fd7f097e_story.html?utm_term=.04791cbf892d
I think that the Dems will have much the same “leverage” in January, but better “optics.” And, the GOP won’t be able to pass a budget without the Dems help. That’s because of the irresponsible “Bakuninist Wing” of the GOP (a/k/a the “Freedom Caucus”) which is committed to a program of anarchy and destruction of all viable public services. With the holidays over, and most voters (including some of the GOP’s “corporate sponsors”) wanting some Dreamer relief, I think the Dems can hold the line and, if it comes to that which I hope to won’t, let the GOP (after all, they control all branches of Gov) shut things down.
I realize that the Dreamers have been “left behind” before and are growing impatient. But, I think they need to “ease up” a bit on the Dems. The GOP has a fairly narrow base to “play’ to (mostly the rich and the disgruntled who wish they were rich).  But, the Dems have a wider constituency that they need to keep on board. Sending Government workers home for the Christmas holidays without paychecks wouldn’t play so well everywhere. I know that as Government worker, I was upset each time we had a useless “shutdown.”
So, hang in there Dreamers. I think you day will be coming in the near future.
PWS
12-24-17

TAL @ CNN: TRUMP GOP’S WHITE NATIONALIST AGENDA IMPEDES DREAMER NEGOTIATONS! (Plus, Extra Bonus : “Quadruple Header” From Tal!)

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/18/politics/trump-administration-immigration-hardline/index.html

“Trump fully embraces far right immigration playbook

By: Tal Kopan, CNN

President Donald Trump and his administration have been sending a message in recent weeks: Trump’s campaign rhetoric on immigration was not just talk. In fact, it was just the beginning.

Trump has never shied from his attacks on illegal immigration, which, alongside a US-Mexico border wall, was a core component of his campaign.

But doubts existed about his commitment level, as some of the more aggressive proposals considered by the administration languished in bureaucratic morass and as he said strongly favorable things about recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in September as he opted to end it.

RELATED: DACA negotiations reach critical week

Of late, however, Trump and the administration have upped their rhetoric on immigration.

Trump has railed in several instances against “chain migration” and lotteries for green cards. His administration is moving to alter a program for the spouses of high-skilled visa holders. And the White House and Congress remain far apart on how to address DACA.

In mid-September, Trump wrote, “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military?”

But since then, he has insisted on controversial immigration reduction proposals that would have a hard time passing even among some Republicans, including drastically cutting the overall number of green cards given out annually and transforming the way they are given out, placing a heavy emphasis on only highly skilled, English-speaking immigrants and not low-skilled individuals.

Groups that have long advocated for reducing overall immigration are energized.

“We’re excited about how the administration has held firmly to these issues,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “We’ve put almost $1 million into ads. … This is the moment we’ve been waiting for four decades.”

Stein was especially pleased with Trump’s recent insistence that any deal to save DACA, which protected young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children, include cuts to family-based immigration, or “chain migration,” and the diversity visa program, which allows up to 50,000 individuals from countries with low levels of immigration to the US to come on visas distributed by lottery.

Chain migration focus

The administration also was quick to point out that two recent terrorist attacks in New York City were committed by individuals with connections to family-based migration and the diversity lottery.

“You think the countries’ giving us their best people?” Trump said Friday in a speech to law enforcement personnel. “No. What kind of system is that? They come in by lottery. They give us their worst people, put them in a bin, but in his hand when he is picking them is really the worst of the worst.”

The theme of the dangers of immigrants — despite no research showing them to be more prone to crime than the native-born population — has been particularly hammered by longtime immigration hardliner Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“If we accept lawlessness, then we encourage lawlessness. When people break our laws without consequences, we shouldn’t be surprised when they continue breaking our laws,” Sessions said in a speech last week. “We should give priority to those who are likely to thrive here — such as those who speak English or are highly skilled — not someone chosen at random or who happens to be somebody’s relative.”

In reality, individuals in those countries are selected randomly but still must meet the security and eligibility requirements placed on all immigrants to actually get their visas. Diversity recipients specifically must also have at least a high school education or equivalent and job experience. The process includes an in-person interview, and anyone that is found to be a security threat would be inadmissible to the US.

While the diversity lottery only affects about 50,000 of roughly 1 million green cards given out to the US annually, Trump has supported legislation from two GOP senators that would drastically reduce family visa categories, cutting yearly numbers in half.

The administration has also made its own efforts to reduce immigration levels without Congress, including setting a historically low number of refugee admissions for next year, instituting the travel ban and submitting would-be visitors and immigrants to “extreme vetting.”

Late last week, the Department of Homeland Security revealed it intends to do away with work permits for spouses of high-skilled visa holders who are waiting in a years-long green card backlog. The announcement also said the agency intends to set a higher bar for the high-skilled visa itself.

New Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen spent last week establishing her hardline immigration bona fides, touting security at the border and attacking sanctuary cities and immigrant-related crime. Her tour came after weeks of broadsides from Trump-aligned sources like Breitbart, which had pejoratively nicknamed her “Lady DACA.”

Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney and Obama administration alum, said that while there may be some fraud in the immigration system, the Trump agenda goes beyond reasonably trying to resolve it.

“They’re not just fixing the system, they are signaling a belief that regardless of their skills and talent, people from foreign countries are not welcome,” Fresco said. “Many of these reforms that are being implemented are simply out of the wishlist of the anti-immigrant groups and are not serving a legitimate purpose of reforming the immigration system. … The goal is to reduce the total number of foreigners.”

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

Right on, Leon!

DHS can use more lawyers, better technology, and some new equipment. The Dems certainly could offer up that.

The U.S. Immigration Court could use more resources. But, with “Gonzo” in charge, it’s probably a case of “throwing good money after bad.”

“The Wall” is overkill and has some bad symbology. But, in human rights terms, it’s not as overtly harmful as the other stuff on the restrictionist’s list.

The rest of the “restrictionist wish list” is pretty toxic. Don’t see how the Dems can vote for a bill that contains any of it.

For any of you who thought Tal was “easing up” on her amazing pace, here are her interesting reports on Puerto Rico:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/19/politics/puerto-rico-washington-equal-treatment/index.html

Puerto Rico governor calls out Washington on ‘equal treatment’By Tal Kopan, CNN

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/19/politics/carson-nielsen-puerto-rico-visit/index.html

Carson: Puerto Rico recovery is ‘better than what I had heard’

By Tal Kopan

and Senator Lindsay Graham:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/18/politics/lindsey-graham-donald-trump-immigration-daca/index.html

“Graham had ‘long’ talk with Trump about immigration”

By: Tal Kopan, CNN”

 

Thanks for all you do, Tal!

Hope you will get some rest and relaxation over the holidays!

PWS

12-22-17

 

 

NEW FROM TAL @ CNN: Dreamers “Twist In The Wind” As Congress Dithers! — The “Clown 🤡 Kleptocracy ” In “Action!”

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/18/politics/daca-negotiations-continue/index.html

“DACA negotiations reach critical week

By Tal Kopan, CNN

As lawmakers reach the final week to decide year-end government funding, negotiations on saving the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program are reaching a fever pitch despite long odds.

Chances remain slim that lawmakers will reach agreement before the end of the year on what to do about DACA, which President Donald Trump has decided to end. Still, talks in both chambers are continuing in the hopes that a last-minute option could be reached or there will be an opportunity early next year, according to sources close to the discussions.

The House and Senate are still divided on what it will do next to fund the government beyond Friday’s deadline. It’s believed that a deal can be reached in the Senate to punt some issues, including DACA, until January, but unclear if Republicans will have the votes in the House.

And if leadership in the House needs a substantial amount of Democratic votes, DACA could very likely be a requirement in a deal.

That’s driving some negotiators to put something out this week, just in case leadership needs a last-minute fix.

The greatest hope for advocates who want to see a version of the program, which protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children, put into law is the Senate talks.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, has been leading a bipartisan working group with North Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. The pair hosted the group in Durbin’s office for multiple meetings last week, including a Thursday gathering before lawmakers left town that included Republicans James Lankford, Cory Gardner, Jeff Flake and staff from Sen. Thom Tillis and Democrat Michael Bennet.

After the meeting, Durbin said a deal was “starting to take form” but work remained. Tillis earlier that day estimated the group was “maybe a third of the way there,” saying what a DACA piece should look like was mostly done, but still unresolved is what border security and reform to “chain migration,” or family-based migration, which the President has repeatedly demanded, will be included.

Tillis and Lankford both said January was a more likely time for a resolution than December.

On the House side, moderate Republicans are working with Democratic colleagues to try to put together some compromise options, with Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo pushing especially hard to get something public quickly.

Curbelo is working on both an effort among the bipartisan centrist Problem Solvers Caucus. In a separate effort, Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd, has pledged to join Democrats in not supporting government funding that doesn’t include DACA.

“At the very least, those of us who have been calling for this compromise and demanding that it get done by the end of the year should have something to show,” Curbelo said last week.

Possible bipartisan options to pair with DACA include border security investments, adjusting the diversity lottery and a version of Kate’s Law, which increases penalties on undocumented immigrants who commit violent crimes, Curbelo said.

According to a House Republican aide, the Problem Solvers and the other member-driven effort are both working with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on shaping a deal. The Problem Solvers would have a version of the Dream Act and Curbelo’s Recognizing America’s Children Act, which offer pathways to citizenship, paired with border security and some visa changes. The other proposal is focused more on an adjusted Dream Act with a border security investment that is not Trump’s proposed border wall.”

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

When it comes to looking for ways to make America weaker, line the pockets of the rich, screw the middle class and poor, and loot the country for their own personal gain, Trump & the GOP seem to have endless time. When it comes to governing for the public good, not so much.

That’s the problem with the Trump GOP’s “Clown 🤡 Kleptocracy!”

PWS

12-18-17

 

TWO NEW FROM TAL@CNN: 1) Will “Radical Moderation” Be The Next Great Political Movement? – 2) How Will Dems Negotiate The DACA Endgame?

Here’s what Tal has to say:

1) Will “Radical Moderation” Be The Next Great Political Movement?

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/14/politics/congress-moderate-republicans-revenge/index.html

Can moderates get their revenge on DACA?

By: Tal Kopan, CNN

As year-end funding decisions loom, a familiar pattern is repeating, with House conservative Republicans playing hardball to pull their colleagues to the right.

And moderates are increasingly tiring of it — especially after Tuesday’s repudiation of a candidate seen as emblematic of the GOP’s right flank in the Alabama special election.

Government funding and efforts to abolish Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a popular program for young undocumented immigrants, have some moderates increasingly wondering: Why can’t we play hardball, too?

Moderate Republicans and House members in districts that are either generally competitive or which Hillary Clinton carried in the 2016 presidential election are starting to grow frustrated with the effectiveness of groups like the House Freedom Caucus in influencing legislation, often by withholding their votes as a bloc until demands are met.

“Yes,” Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo said with exasperation when CNN asked Wednesday if the time had come for centrists to borrow tactics from the far right.

“We cannot be spectators here,” Curbelo said. “Other groups have used their leverage to influence the process, and we must do so as well, especially when there are 800,000 lives which could be radically changed for the worse if we don’t take care of (DACA).”

“I think last night’s election’s going to cause a lot of people to re-think where we are and what we’re doing,” said New York Republican Rep. Pete King of Democrat Doug Jones’s victory in Alabama.

While the current focus is on passing tax reform, one Republican staffer said patience could be limited once it’s dispensed with, as vulnerable moderates are frustrated with being forced to take tough votes seen in many cases as messaging exercises to appease the conservative base.

“It’s the moderates who are going to have to run in tough elections on this sh**,” the staffer said.

But there remains skepticism that, despite the frustration, moderates can hold together as a group the way conservatives have been able to do, or are willing to stomach the tough tactics the right flank employs.

The conservative House Freedom Caucus, for example, almost tanked a procedural measure on tax reform in a public show of force on the House floor earlier this month to send a message to Speaker Paul Ryan about year-end funding.

And according to a Republican source, rumors have been building around the Capitol that the farther right lawmakers are prepared to challenge Ryan’s speakership immediately if he calls a stand-alone fix for DACA to the floor.

Nearly three dozen moderates, on the other hand, sent a carefully worded letter to Ryan urging him to move on a fix for DACA, which protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children, by the end of the year, without making any concrete threats to withhold any votes on government funding.

Curbelo has committed to oppose government funding without clear progress toward a DACA fix, and is urging fellow Republicans to do the same.

Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican who has decided to not seek reelection, said he agreed with Curbelo that a DACA fix should go on an upcoming must-pass bill, though it could potentially be in January.

“The power of 25 here can force a lot of things,” Dent said, referring to the GOP margin of the majority in the House. “And Freedom Caucus has been effective at it, they can put their votes together, and we need to do that from time to time, (though) we need to pick our fights carefully.”

But one conservative Republican source noted that moderates have always had difficulty being as united as more conservative groups. That sentiment was echoed by King, who referred to the group that former House Speaker John Boehner once called “legislative terrorist(s)” as “crazies” even as he distanced himself from moderates.

“I consider myself actually a blue-collar conservative, I’m not really in the moderate wing, I’m just against some of the crazies,” King told CNN, speaking of his unsuccessful fight against the GOP tax bill he sees as devastating for his state. “It’s hard to unify everybody.”

Some moderates gave credit to the Freedom Caucus, saying their effectiveness should only be a source of inspiration.

“I don’t fault anybody for doing what they believe is best in their way of representing their district,” said Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse, who helped organize the DACA letter. “I respect that. …(But) it’s also incumbent upon me to do the same thing.”

2) How Will Dems Negotiate The DACA Endgame?

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/14/politics/daca-likely-slip-january/index.html

Democrats wrestle with likelihood DACA slips to January

Washington (CNN)Democrats are increasingly grappling with the likelihood that Congress could push a decision on a popular immigration program into January, even as they’ve spent weeks saying it should be dealt with by the end of the year.

“To some extent, yes,” Congressional Hispanic Caucus member and Arizona Democrat Rep. Raúl Grijalva said Thursday on Capitol Hill when asked if there’s a growing realization that the issue will likely slip to January.
“Some of us are holdouts, but if you talk about reality, yeah,” he continued. “I mean, if leadership is not pushing it, they’re not holding the line with members and we have a CR that includes (children’s health funding), which is really, really important, funding for community health centers, then not seeing it before the end of the year becomes more and more precarious.”
Democrats and even some Republicans have not given up on trying to get done a deal to maintain a version of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protected young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation but which President Donald Trump has opted to terminate.
Advocates note the issue is more urgent than portrayed by the administration. More than 20,000 DACA recipients either did not renew or were rejected in the window the government offered, meaning more than 100 lose their status every day before the March 6 deadline the administration intended to set.
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But even as negotiations continue and intensify on both sides of the Capitol to reach a bipartisan compromise on the issue, the likelihood of being able to pass something by the end of the year is rapidly slipping away.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat, hosted a meeting of the Senate negotiators on Thursday afternoon, including Republicans Lindsey Graham, James Lankford, Cory Gardner, Jeff Flake and staff from Sen. Thom Tillis. But all exiting the meeting said while negotiations progressed, no break-throughs have been reached yet. And while some wouldn’t rule it out as a possibility, none expressed much optimism it could be done by the end of the year.
“It’s starting to take form, but we’re still negotiating,” Durbin said.
Tillis, R-North Carolina, said earlier Thursday that negotiators are working on a consensus on how to handle the DACA component of the deal, reconciling different bill approaches that are out there.
“What we’re trying to do is figure out where we have common ground there,” Tillis said. “But we’ll be reaching a point pretty soon to where we have to have a discussion about chain migration, which is very important, the President’s told us, and border security and other things. I would say when we talk about ‘we’re close to an agreement,’ we’re only talking about one half of the broader agreement, so maybe we’re a third of the way there.”
“I think people are having good faith discussions,” he continued. “I can’t imagine it being done by year end.”

Strategic maneuvering

Democrats know that their greatest leverage for many of their priorities is on government funding, which expires a week from Friday. Republicans will likely need Democratic votes to pass a full year of funding, in the Senate and likely in the House where budget hawks traditionally reject domestic spending levels.
But they also have a laundry list of priorities for negotiation, including an overall deal on domestic spending, community health centers, children’s health insurance, pensions and immigration. And five legislative days before funding runs out.
The current plan, according to multiple lawmakers and aides, is for the House to pass a bill that would fund defense for a year, reauthorize children’s health insurance, and punt the rest into January. That bill is dead on arrival in the Senate, where 44 Democrats have gone on record opposing it. The belief is that the Senate will send something back to the House, likely with Obamacare payments or possibly just a short-term funding extension into January. All the while, parties negotiating a DACA deal in both chambers remain optimistic about the progress of talks.
Such a plan could squeeze Democrats, especially in the Senate, to weigh rejecting an opportunity to keep negotiating and risk the government shutting down, or to hold out for more offers from Republicans.
It’s possible that a short-term extension could pass the House without Democratic votes, taking pressure of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who with her caucus has been more vocal about rejecting anything that doesn’t include DACA by the end of the year. House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said many of his members, who are the more troublesome Republicans for the party on funding, could support a punt.
“If it’s just looking at a (continuing resolution) that gets us to January 19 where we can negotiate on a bigger omnibus, I think most of my members will support that,” Meadows, R-North Carolina, told reporters Thursday. “There are some who won’t, but most would be supportive of that.”
In the Senate, Democratic aides believe that January could be an option. They feel there would be no need to force a bad deal now, if a good deal is still attainable in a few weeks’ time. Senators have also been more cautious than their House colleagues.
“I’m hopeful that it will happen. And we’re not there yet on what will happen if it doesn’t happen,” Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono said at a press conference Thursday about pushing for all of Democrats’ priorities by the end of the year, asked whether members would reject a deal to keep making progress on some issues.

Warnings to Democratic leadership

Still, Democrats are warning their leadership that they can’t appear to surrender.
“I think there is a Plan A, a Plan B, a Plan C, a Plan D and a Plan E in the House, I can see that there are more heightened negotiations in the Senate, and I’m dedicated to working 24/7 and I have to say my caucus has been doing that,” Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham said Thursday. “We want something to vote on next week, and we are making that clear to leadership. … So I think we have to stay the course and any conversation that we can wait even 15 days is cruel, unjust, wrong and there’s real harm.”
“I’m not ready to wave the white flag and say let’s see what happens,” Grijalva echoed. “I think the pressure has to be constant on this thing or it will fail.”
The deputy chair of the Democratic Party, Minneosta Rep. Keith Ellison, said Democratic leadership should know that the party base will not accept less than a full fight.
“My advice to anybody in leadership in the House of Representatives is we better do everything imaginable to deliver on DACA or we better we be visibly shown to have done every single thing that could be done,” Ellison said. “Our grassroots base is expecting us to deliver on DACA, and that’s it. … I feel so strongly about this. We cannot fail on this.”

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

Tal is amazing! As you probably can tell, I’m a big fan of her reporting: Timely, informative, balanced, easy to read. I’m glad she is on the CNN “immigration beat” — particularly for the “Dreamers” story which is so critical to the fate of our nation (not to mention the Dreamers).

The “Freedom Caucus” is in fact the “Bakuninist Wing” of the GOP: Out to destroy American Government and perhaps take the world with it. They are an existential threat to every American, nearly on the same level as the Trump Administration itself.

Somewhere, Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin –– the “Grandaddy of all Anarchists — must be smiling at how these “valueless bad dudes” can actually “con” constituents into voting for their own (and everyone else’s destruction). Of course, on the way to destruction, they don’t mind freeloading off the public purse. They just mind it when others get their fair share of the pie.

The Dems need to peel off enough GOP moderate support to enact a decent Dream Act. They definitely can’t go with the White Nationalist inspired — essentially racist (let’s be upfront about it) — end of so-called “chain migration.”

Chain migration is actually the White Nationalists’ misnomer for “Beneficial Family Migration” that has helped make America great and is essential to our future success. Yeah, they aren’t all White Christians who arrive with PhDs speaking English (although some family members undoubtedly fit this mold). And, that’s a good thing for both us and them that “they aren’t, and they don’t.”

While I can see a case for some additional immigration enforcement resources, increases  should be limited to technology, management improvements, and  increased legal resources for the ICE Offices of Chief Counsel.

Under NO circumstances should more immigration agents be authorized unless and until DHS improves their current hiring and training practices; abandons “Gonzo enforcement” for a rationally tailored enforcement program along the lines of other law enforcement agencies; and closes down the majority of their unnecessary, wasteful, and counterproductive “American Gulag,” starting with substandard and corrupt private immigration detention facilities.

With the border largely under control, interior enforcement without any discernible plan, rational objectives, or meaningful results, and the U.S. Immigration Courts in complete disarray under Sessions, there is no need for yet more immigration agents at present.

What on earth would they do? “Bust” more janitors, maids, landscapers, mothers, and students who are helping America? Then what? Throw them into the collapsing Immigration Courts which already have enough work for the balance of this Administration?

It’s much more likely that White Nationalists Trump, Sessions, and their cronies would build up an internal security police, to be used against America, than that additional agents would be put to any reasonable, permissible, and constructive use. It’s a prescription for disaster. And, ironically, one that should worry the GOP “Bakuninists.”  Hard to see how expanding Government domestic police resources without rational assignments or goals should be a priority for folks who want to “shrink government, then drown it in a teacup.”

And anyone who says that the so-called “Trump Executive Orders” (an exercise in “Gonzo racist irrationalism” if I’ve ever seen one) is some sort of “reasonable blueprint” has been smoking some stuff stronger than can legally be bought in Colorado. Yeah, Trump can issue any Executive Order he wants to. But, he can’t fund most of his unnecessary initiatives without Congressional permission. This is Congress’s chance to force some rationality back into the U.S. Immigration enforcement system, which has taken a decidedly irrational, racist, and xenophobic turn under Trump and Sessions.

PWS

12-14-17

TAL @ CNN: TRUMP’s CLAIM THAT IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONS WOULD PREVENT TERRORISM RINGS HOLLOW — Critics Say More Likely That Campaign Of Hate, Fear, Loathing, & Isolation Promotes Radical Terrorism!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/12/politics/new-york-attacker-domestic-radicalization-trump-administration/index.html

Tal reports:

“But given that Ullah began his radicalization in the US years after immigrating, and that the previous New York attacker, Sayfullo Saipov, was also radicalized in the US, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, critics are accusing the administration of disingenuously pushing its aggressive immigration agenda.

Reacting to Cissna’s turn at the podium, Gregory Chen, director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, called it “baldly transparent” that the administration could not make a sufficient connection between the immigration programs it is targeting and terrorism.
“They are just using this as a way to scapegoat and attack the immigration system, this particular incident, when there’s no demonstrated connection between cutting back on the family-based system and protecting our national security,” Chen said. “That was so transparent from that (briefing).”
Experts say family-based migration achieves the goals of assimilation that the administration says it wants, by connecting individuals from abroad with family members already settled in the US.
All immigrants to the US are screened for security risks, which Cissna acknowledged on Tuesday. Although diversity lottery winners are chosen at random and family-based migrants are allowed in based on their relatives, all of them must pass eligibility checks by the US and be interviewed before they can receive visas.

Critics argue that the administration is ignoring the threat of online radicalization by terror groups in its pursuit of dramatic cuts to the legal immigration system.
“It’s worse than not effective, it’s counterproductive,” said Michael Breen, president and CEO of the Truman Center and Truman National Security Project, whose membership includes former national security officials and veterans of the Obama and Clinton administrations.
Breen said that responding effectively to terrorist ideologies requires creating a “sense of national unity,” and that to be “opportunistic” with an agenda instead could lead to more radicalization.

“The more we alienate people, the more difficult it is to prevent radicalization,” Breen said. “It is not good policy to categorize large parts of your population as outside the national identity.”

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

Read Tal’s complete article at the link.

The Trump/Sessions/Bannon/Miller White Nationalist restrictionist immigration agenda has NEVER been about protecting America from terrorism. That’s just a smokescreen for an unrelenting (and counterproductive) program of racist, antiMuslim, anti-foreigner hysteria. In other words, the White Nationalist agenda of dividing and destroying America as we know it.

PWS

12-13-17

 

LAUREN & TAL @ CNN: Dreamer Relief Still Appears Likely, But Maybe Not This Year! — Pressure Shifts To Dems!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/12/politics/democrats-daca-shutdown-plan/index.html

 

Lauren Fox & Tal Kopan report for CCN;

“For Democrats, a tough choice on DACA
By: Lauren Fox and Tal Kopan, CNN
With just two weeks until Congress is expected to leave town, the fate of roughly 700,000 young immigrants still hangs in the balance.
And, it could be up to Senate Democrats now to decide whether they will make protections for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients a condition of their support for a must-pass spending bill or punt the issue to next year when they still have months to work it out.
There’s a whole host of issues that must be dealt with by the end of the year including reauthorizing a spying program, funding disaster relief and paying for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which has all sparked questions about whether Democrats will insist DACA also be included in that list of year-end spending priorities.
“There’s no reason it can’t get done, but there’s a lot that needs to be done in the next 10 days,” Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, a member of the Senate Democrats’ leadership, said about DACA on Monday evening. “We have the CHIP re-authorization, we need the budget numbers, we have to have some decisions on a number of things.”
Asked if Democrats would reject a spending bill that punted DACA to January, independent Maine Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats, said, “I can’t answer that.”
Republican leaders have thrown cold water on the idea that a DACA deal could get attached to a year-end spending package, leading to questions about whether Democrats — under pressure from their base — would shut down the government over a program that doesn’t begin to expire fully until March. Activists and some Democratic members point out that the must-pass spending deadline could be the party’s best opportunity to exert pressure on Republicans who don’t want a government shutdown to occur when they control all levers of government.
“That’s a complex question that’s not amenable to a simple answer. There’s a whole lot of things that are not resolved right now. Republicans control the whole government — House, Senate and White House. We are what, 69, 70 days past CHIP authorization. I’ve got folks pressing every day on wildfire relief, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico … CHIP and Dreamers,” said Sen. Chris Coons of Deleware, a Democrat. “I think we ought to be able to fix all of that, and if it takes another week or two to resolve all of those, I think folks will forgive us. But I don’t think we should go home or close out the year without a clear path to resolving it.”
Most Democrats in the Senate say they are optimistic that an immigration bill will be passed by the end of the year or close to it and that they’ll never be forced to decide between funding the government or giving certainty to DACA recipients. But, with fewer than two weeks until Congress faces its spending deadline and no real, concrete compromise on DACA at this point, it’s unclear how Democrats will proceed if they are faced with no solutions for young immigrants.
“There’s still some negotiations going on between some Democrats and some Republicans about how to get this done,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire. “I’m hopeful that will produce a positive outcome.”
Talks have circled for months on a fix to DACA, but sticking points remain. Working groups and bipartisan negotiations have formed and faltered in both chambers, with some continuing under the radar even as leadership focuses on bigger picture issues like tax reform and spending cap negotiations. On the House side, rank-and-file members in the Problem Solvers Caucus are trying to reach a bipartisan compromise, while Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois continues to negotiate with a range of Republicans interested in a deal on the Senate side.
Pressure has been increasing on leadership from both sides as the end of the year looms. Democrats on the left, especially Congressional Hispanic Caucus members in the House, have pushed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California to hold firm on wanting something by the end of the year. Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez said it would be a “betrayal” to push the fight until January, and just last week Pelosi pledged to not go home for the year without a fix.
Moderate Republicans have also sought to push their leadership for a fix by the end of the year, with nearly three dozen House Republicans urging House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to come up with a solution by then. But on the other side, conservatives like the House Freedom Caucus have also threatened a political price if Ryan were to attach a deal to a spending package.
In private, Democratic staff have been concerned about being able to reach a compromise by the end of the year, and whether Republicans will cave in the face of a potential shutdown, potentially forcing Democrats’ hand. Still, at least one Senate Democratic aide on Monday remained optimistic, saying back room talks were making more progress than public posturing might indicate.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, who has been working on a DACA deal, said he wouldn’t negotiate publicly about what Democrats will do if a deal isn’t reached by the end of the year, but that his group continues to work.
“It should have been done five months ago,” the Vermont Democrat said.
Throughout the entire process, President Donald Trump has remained the mystery. Lawmakers know that his blessing could allow a deal to happen rapidly — while his public opposition to a deal could prove its death knell. The President had spoken favorably in September about DACA recipients and pushed Congress to reach a deal, but in recent weeks ne has taken to hardline rhetoric on illegal immigration and blaming Democrats for crime.
Republicans — who do support a fix to DACA — say that it’s still an open question whether a deal will come together by the holiday, but that no matter what, they hope to see Republicans and Democrats come together to keep the government funded.
“I support marrying up DACA reform to border security and a break in chain migration on the spending bill,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina. “I support that. I’m not going to shut down the government over it.”

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

What’s going to happen with DACA was a major area of concern on the Spanish language radio programs I did in Richmond, VA last Friday. As I said on radio, I remain “cautiously optimistic” on an eventual legislative solution for “Dreamers.” But, probably not before the end of this year. Stay tuned! And many thanks to Tal & Lauren for staying “on top” of this story which is so important for so many!

PWS

12-12-17

SUPREMES APPEAR TO BE TILTING TOWARD TRUMP! — DREAMERS STIFFED BY HIGH COURT!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/08/politics/supreme-court-daca-ruling-immigration-california/index.html

Ariane de Vogue reports for CNN::

“(CNN) A divided Supreme Court agreed 5-4 on Friday to temporarily put on hold a lower court order requiring the government to turn over documents related to its decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The program is an Obama-era policy that defers deportation for some undocumented youth who had been brought to the United States as children.
The Supreme Court’s order is a setback for challengers, including California and the regents of the University of California, who contend that the Trump administration violated federal law when it abruptly decided to rescind the program. The challengers had sought the documents to bolster their case, pending in California.

Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by the three other liberal justices, dissented from the court’s order. Stressing that the lower court has still not heard the merits of the case, Breyer criticized the majority for intervening “in this kind of discovery-related dispute.”
He said the matter should be left with the lower courts, which are in a better position “to understand whether a particular discovery order is over-burdensome. ”
“This court,” Beyer wrote, is “poorly positioned to second-guess district courts’ determinations in this area.”
The high court’s action is a win for government lawyers, who argued in court papers that the “district court’s orders mandating discovery and expansion of the administrative record were in excess of the district court’s authority.”
They're united in friendship but divided by DACA
They’re united in friendship but divided by DACA
In a statement, a Justice Department spokesman praised the Supreme Court’s order.
“The Department of Homeland Security acted within its lawful authority in deciding to wind down DACA in an orderly manner, and the Justice Department believes the courts will ultimately agree,” said spokesman Devin O’Malley.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra responded: “What is the Trump administration trying so hard to hide?
“The administration owes the American people a real explanation for its decision to upend the lives of 800,000 Dreamers, stripping them of their ability to work and study, stirring fear, and threatening our economy,” Becerra said. “We’ll keep fighting in court for Dreamers, particularly the 1-in-4 DACA grantees who call California home.”
The district judge had filed a statement with the justices arguing that the government’s petition “leaves the incorrect impression that the district court endorsed unfettered discovery,” he said.
Judge William Alsup of the US District Court for the Northern District of California argued that his request was “limited, narrowly directed, and reasonable.”
The challengers have until Wednesday to respond to the ruling. The district court is set to hear arguments December 20 on whether the case should be dismissed altogether.”

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

To date, lower Federal Courts generally have been willing to hold the Trump Administration accountable for its immigration policies. But, the Supremes seem to agree with the Administration that Trump, Sessions, & co. can do as they please in the immigration area without providing anything other than fairly cosmetic explanations.

Dreamers apparently will have to look to Congress for  any help in staying.

PWS

12-08-17

 

TAL @ CNN: MODERATE GOP REPS TURN UP PRESSURE ON RYAN FOR DACA RESOLUTION!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/05/politics/moderate-republicans-daca-letter-ryan/index.html

“Moderate Republican lawmakers push Ryan on DACA solution

By Tal Kopan, CNN

Moderate Republicans in Congress are seeking to lead on a possible solution for young undocumented immigrants, as a group on Tuesday pushed their leadership to reach a deal by the end of the year.

Thirty-four Republicans on Tuesday signed a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan urging him that Congress should act “immediately” on a “permanent legislative solution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients before the end of the year.”

On the Senate side, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake told reporters Monday that he is working with Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin and Michael Bennet along with fellow Republican Sen. Cory Gardner to reach a bipartisan deal on DACA, a program that protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation, which President Donald Trump is ending.

Flake said he spoke with the President last week about the issue and he was headed to the White House again on Tuesday for a meeting with Gardner and other senators and the President on year-end issues.

“I think his instincts on this are right,” Flake said Monday of Trump and past positive statements he’s made about preserving DACA legislatively. “He’s been pulled different directions by others who have an interest either in getting done or blocking it. So I think he’s getting pulled, but I think his instincts on this, I don’t say this about every issue, but I think his instincts on DACA are right.”

The moderate-led efforts come amid the lack of progress since Trump’s September announcement from leadership in reaching a deal and the increasing pressure from Democrats and a flank of the GOP to resolve the issue before Congress recesses for the holidays.

The letter calls for the “urgent matter” to be addressed with a “balanced approach that does not harm valuable sectors of our economy nor the lives of these hard-working young people” — a message to leadership that more conservative proposals pushed by the right flank of the party won’t get their support.

As reported by CNN, the letter was organized by the nascent Main Street Caucus and announced Tuesday by Virginia Rep. Scott Taylor, Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse and California Rep. Jeff Denham.

While the lawmakers said the letter should not be interpreted by a threat to make life difficult for Ryan or not support government funding bills without a DACA solution, 34 Republicans is more than enough to deny Republicans a majority, sending a signal to leadership about the sentiments of moderates.

“Before we take up the end of the year bills, we want Republican leadership to see how many Republicans are willing to put their names on the line,” California Rep. Jeff Denham said in a call with reporters. “We’re trying to show the economies of scale of the amount of members we have.”

“There should be no implied threat that’s perceived in this letter at all, whether we would be holding out a vote,” Newhouse said. “This is an issue that is strong on its own merits and the goal of the letter is to demonstrate to the leadership of our conference that the support is there and the urgency of the issue is real and it should be solved before the end of the year.”

As for why there are only 34 Republicans on the letter, Taylor said there are “numerous” others who would vote for a deal but couldn’t sign the letter publicly for various reasons.

“This is a strong statement, a strong showing of support on people who are willing to publicly put their name out there,” Taylor said.”

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As we all know, lot of things are supposed to be happening on the legislative front before the end of the year, including funding the Feds. So, this one is probably still ‘too close to call” for this year.

 

PWS

12-05-17