Musings on Events in U.S. Immigration Court, Immigration Law, Sports, and Other Random Topics by Retired United States Immigration Judge (Arlington, Virginia) and former Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals Paul Wickham Schmidt. To see my complete professional bio, just click on the link below.
“Even among some of Donald Trump’s allies, there is a sense of astonishment at the White House’s handling of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. “It’s like no one took down the Gambino family,” Steve BannontoldChris Whipple in a book adaptation the Hive published this week. “Mueller’s doing a roll-up just like he did with the Gambinos. [Paul] Manafort’s the caporegime, right? And [Rick] Gates is a made man!” Indeed, Mueller, who led the F.B.I. takedown of the infamous crime family in the early 1990s, famously cutting a deal with Sammy the Bull to flip on mob boss John Gotti, appears to be executing what some have called a “Gambino-style roll-up.” First, he flippedformer Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos; then, he turnedousted national security adviser Michael Flynn. Now, CNN reports, Mueller appears to be in the final stages of a plea deal with Gates, Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman and a longtime business associate of Manafort, who was indicted alongside him last fall.
The White House reportedly views Gates’s testimony as a threat to Manafort, and not to the president. “There’d be no anxiety here,” a White House official told CNN when asked about the possibility that Gates will cut a deal. The charges against the two, after all, had nothing do with Russian collusion; the 12 counts included failure to register as a foreign agent, false and misleading statements related to that registration, and seven counts of improper foreign financial reporting—all as part of a broader conspiracy to launder millions of dollars from their consulting work in Ukraine into the United States. Manafort has pleaded not guilty, and is fighting the charges. But Gates, who has also pleaded not guilty, has been grappling with financial troubles and difficulties with his legal team. According to CNN, he has been in plea negotiations with Mueller’s team of F.B.I. investigators for about a month, and has already given an interview in which he would have revealed any knowledge he might have of criminal activity that could be traded for leniency or immunity in sentencing.
What this means for the White House isn’t exactly clear. While Manafort’s reign as campaign chairman and Gates’s role as his deputy were short-lived, the duo oversaw a series of events and interactions that have come under intense scrutiny in the ongoing Justice Department probe. Manafort and Gates ran the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016, during which Donald Trump Jr. held his infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer. They were also on board during the Republican National Convention, where a number of Trump campaign officials and surrogates met with Russian officials and campaign officials altered the language of the official G.O.P. platform on Ukraine to be more sympathetic to Russian interests. While Manafort was replaced by Bannon after The New York Times alleged that handwritten ledgers showed millions in undisclosed cash payments designated for Manafort in Ukraine—a claim Manafort denies—Gates continued to work with the Trump campaign through the transition, and served as a senior official on Trump’s inaugural committee.”
For now, the most significant facts in the case remain under lock. Adam Schiff, the top ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that the panel has discovered evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the 2016 campaign, as well as evidence of subsequent obstruction. “There is certainly an abundance of non-public information that we’ve gathered in the investigation,” Schiff toldreporters. Whether that information is actionable remains to be seen. According to the White House’s own budget request, the administration expects Mueller’s investigation to continue well into next year, despite repeated assurances from the president’s legal team that it was approaching a conclusion. If Gates has the goods, perhaps it will end sooner.
No, the “Don of Con” isn’t “in the clear” as he incredibly asserts. In fact, it appears that the noose is slowly tightening. Exactly the kind of “dangling in the wind” to which The Don likes to subject those subordinates whom he suspects of disloyalty.
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” And, there’s so much smoke surrounding The Don, his family, and his current and former associates right now that it’s a miracle nobody in the White House has succumbed to smoke inhalation.
During four days last February, Immigration and Customs Enforcement targeted Austin, apparently in retaliation for Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez’s justified refusal to honor some warrantless detainers. Despite claims by ICE that its operation targeted “public safety threats,” most of those arrested had no criminal background and most of those who did committed only relatively minor offenses.
One “dreamer” reported that for weeks following these raids, her parents would leave home only one at a time for fear of leaving their children without any caregiver.
Indiscriminate raids make immigrants fearful of assisting local law enforcement. ” but the Trump administration does not conduct these for safety. Its objective is to instill fear and to intimidate immigrants into leaving. And this is the same treatment that dreamers could receive beginning next month if House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) continues to block a vote to secure their status.
ICE raids on the innocent rip apart families, devastate communities and satisfy only President Trump’s anti-immigrant hysteria.
Lloyd Doggett, Washington
The writer, a Democrat, represents Texas’s
35th District in the House.”
“Right on,” Lloyd!
Almost every day, America’s most despised and least trusted police force “earns their chops” with cruel, inhumane, dishonest, and ultimately senseless acts of “Gonzo ” enforcement.
“We can diminish ourselves as a Nation, but it won’t stop human migration!”
“Washington (CNN)As the ink dried Friday on a major budget compromise deal in Congress, immigration advocates were taking stock of getting left behind — again — without a resolution for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants on the verge of losing protections.
It’s an open question if there are cards left to play in the push to enshrine the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy into law. While no advocates say they are giving up, many also openly admit that Democrats and allies gave up their best negotiating position on the issue without another clear avenue coming up.
In the meantime, a pending court decision on DACA, which President Donald Trump is terminating, means the immigrants protected by it and who mostly have never known another country than the US, won’t begin losing their protections as planned on March 5 — but their fate could be reversed at any moment by another court decision.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat who has long served as one of the most outspoken advocates in Congress for immigration reform, was pessimistic with reporters early Friday morning as Congress passed the deal with virtually every Democratic priority except DACA in it.
“No, I don’t, I don’t,” he said when asked if there was any other way Democrats could exert leverage on the issue. Gutierrez said the plan from the beginning was to either attach a DACA compromise to the must-pass budget deal or raising the debt ceiling, both of which were passed in the early morning hours Friday without DACA. Arizona Democrat Raul Grijalva called the episode “disheartening.”
“We have decoupled the issues. Your leverage is you want them one and the same,” Gutierrez said. “Do we need a new way forward? Yeah, we’re going to figure out a new way forward.”
There is one glimmer of hope for advocates. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made good on his promise to tee up an immigration debate on the Senate floor next week. Moments after the Senate passed the deal, McConnell filed to have a vote to open debate on an unrelated bill Monday evening — which will kick off a process where an as-yet-unknown number of amendments will be able to compete for a procedural threshold of 60 votes to then pass the Senate.
It was that promise that put in motion the deal that eventually severed DACA from other negotiations but also offers a rare opportunity for lawmakers to compete on a neutral playing field for bipartisan support.
“We’re pivoting, what can you do?” said longtime advocate Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration group America’s Voice. “We’ve had our doubts about the viability of a standalone legislative process but that’s what we’re left with, so we’re hoping to make the most of it. … That will put pressure on the President and the House to do the same.”
Already, groups of lawmakers are preparing for the floor debate, even as it remains unclear how many amendments will be offered, how debate will be structured and how long it might last.
A group of roughly 20 bipartisan senators is drafting legislation over the weekend to offer perhaps multiple amendments and potentially keep the debate focused on a narrow DACA-border security bill. Advocates on the left may offer a clean DACA fix like the Dream Act, and some on the right are drafting a version of the White House proposal that would include $25 billion for a border wall and heavy cuts to legal immigration with a pathway to citizenship — though neither is expected to have 60 votes.
“First of all, we have the Senate procedure, which is my hope. We’re working with the (bipartisan group) to see if we can come to a two-pillar solution,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who has long worked on the issue, when asked Thursday what comes next for DACA. “Hopefully we could gather 60 votes for that. And then that would be it — we’d resist everything else, any other amendments, and then go back to the House and create all the pressure in the House to make it happen.”
Step 2: Pressure Ryan
If the Senate can pass a bill, lawmakers hope Trump will fully embrace it, freeing House Speaker Paul Ryan to call it up.
Already as the budget deal was on track for passage, House advocates began a pressure campaign to urge Ryan to make a promise like McConnell — though Ryan continually demurred and insisted instead he’s committed to the issue of immigration and passing a bill the President can support.
“I think we have to be realistic,” said Arizona’s Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego. “We’re going to have to deal with reality and find whatever means possible to put pressure on Speaker Ryan and the Republican Party to bring, again, a fair vote on the Dream Act to the floor.”
“I think for me the strategy has to be pressure Ryan and bring it to the floor,” Grijalva said, adding the process should allow any proposal to vie for a majority — even if it doesn’t have a majority of Republican votes. “The Senate, when they gave up on not voting for it, at the very minimum extracted a time certain and a debate on something. We don’t even have that.”
Republican Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania said he’s been urging fellow moderates to use their numbers the way that conservatives on the right flank do.
“The Freedom Caucus has been effective because they’ll use their power of 24 (votes to deny a majority), and they take the hostage, they’ll do what they have to do,” Dent said. “I tell our members, we put our votes together, we can really direct an outcome. … I suspect if the Senate sends us a bipartisan DACA bill, that’s when we’re going to have to flex our muscles.”
But others have doubts. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a member of the bipartisan group, says he learned his lesson in 2013, when he co-authored legislation that passed the Senate with wide margins but died in the House.
“There are some who believe that if we get a bunch of votes it’ll force the House to do it. I don’t agree,” Rubio said. “We could vote on it 90-10. … This notion that the House is going to listen to what a senator tells them to do is not real.”
Step 3: Other leverage
If the legislative process can’t produce success, advocates say, they will look for any other leverage points they can.
“If that doesn’t work out, then there’s still an omnibus at the end of the day,” said Menendez, referring to the spending bills due in March to fund the government under the topline two-year budget deal passed Friday.
But Gutierrez doubted that approach — scoffing at the idea that Democrats would be taken seriously if they threatened to withhold their votes yet again without success.
“Really?” Gutierrez said about the omnibus as leverage. “Is it plausible? Is it realistic? Can you continue to threaten with something?”
Other options could include a temporary, one-year or two-year extension of DACA without a permanent solution, though lawmakers have decried that option.
Still, many aren’t ready to give up hope.
“This President clearly wants to get it done, I think the majority of Republicans want to get it done and the majority of Democrats want to get it done. Can we reach that balance? We can get there, I feel very confident we can get there,” said Florida’s Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.”
Although it should be a “no brainer,” I’m not as confident as Rep. Diaz-Balart that this group can “get to yes.” A fair resolution of the “Dreamers” situation just isn’t very high on the GOP agenda, particularly in the House. And, both the Dreamers and the Dems are coming to grips with the obvious reality: if you want to set or control the agenda, you have to win elections!
We need Julia Preston to lock these folks in a room for awhile!
Bipartisan group of senators scrambling to draft immigration bill
By Ashley Killough and Tal Kopan, CNN
A bipartisan group of roughly 20 senators that’s been huddling behind closed doors for weeks is furiously working to draft a bill that they can propose during an expected floor showdown on immigration next week.
If they are successful, it would mean at least one-fifth of the Senate would have established an influential voting block to shape the debate over immigration and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Emerging from one of their closed-door meetings Thursday, senators said multiple members are drafting language for compromise legislation, though they acknowledged they still don’t have a consensus yet.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, said she would be “shocked” if they didn’t end up introducing their plan next week.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who hosts the meetings in her office on a near-daily basis, said there will “probably” be more than one proposal that emerges from their recent talks that could serve as amendments during next week’s debate, though she added it’s “too early to tell.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to bring up immigration next week in a rare neutral Senate floor debate. The Republican has pledged to allow for amendments from both sides, but it’s still unclear how many amendments either side will be able to offer. And the expectation is any proposal would need 60 votes to succeed, a high bar that may make a major immigration compromise unlikely.
Other groups of senators are expected to introduce amendments as well. The White House also has its own framework, and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn confirmed this week that some Republican lawmakers are working to draft a version based on those bullet points.
The bipartisan group of roughly 20 lawmakers, which calls itself the Common Sense Coalition, is aiming to operate as a voting bloc that can help steer the debate. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, who is working with members of the group said the goal would be to get 60 votes on the bipartisan amendment, and “then that would be it, we’d resist everything else, any other amendments.”
It’s unclear just how many members will make up the coalition in the end. The group could be influential if they vote as a unit, though it’s not clear that everyone would get on board. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, said the number of supporters they have depends on the contours of the proposal. In their negotiations, sometimes a proposal will garner 30 members, while a different proposal will have 20 or 40.
“The challenge with immigration is it’s a very broad range of concerns,” he said.
Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma cautioned that a final deal hasn’t been reached yet. “It’s one thing to edit concepts, it’s another thing to look at language and go, ‘no this doesn’t work,’ and then try to make adjustments from there,” he told reporters.
While the White House wants an immigration bill that focuses on four key pillars — increasing border security, resolving DACA, ending the visa diversity lottery, and heavily curtailing family-based immigration, or chain migration, as they call it, multiple senators stressed that a bill has little chance of passing unless it narrows to just two of those pillars: DACA and border security.
“I think a lot of people are learning that immigration’s complicated. The more we try to do, the more unanswered questions emerge,” said Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who was part of a different group of senators that pushed a much larger immigration bill in 2013. It was passed by the Senate but went nowhere in the House.
Like Rubio, Coons also endorses the concept of a narrower bill. “The challenge is, there’s lot of other proposals that the White House and others want to address,” he said.
The clock, however, is ticking, and the group is hoping to strike a final deal by Monday or Tuesday, roughly when McConnell is expected to kick off the amendment process.
“We don’t have any choice, right?” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire. “Next week’s coming.”
Anger rises from left as DACA left out of budget deal again
By: Tal Kopan, CNN
As a massive bipartisan budget deal moved towards a vote Thursday, temperatures were rising on the left, where Democrats were fuming that — once again — immigration was being left behind.
“Anyone who votes for the Senate budget deal is colluding with this President and this administration to deport Dreamers. It is as simple as that,” said Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a longtime Democratic advocate of immigration reform. Pro-immigration advocacy groups were sending similar messages to Democratic offices as well.
Democrats on the left, especially members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, were frustrated to see a budget deal negotiated that resolved virtually every Democratic priority except a resolution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a policy that protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children that President Donald Trump decided to terminate in September.
The Senate is expected to pass the bill Thursday and send it to the House attached to a continuing resolution to fund the government into March. Government funding expires Thursday at midnight.
The pushback was strong enough that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who was involved in negotiating the compromise, was so moved by the frustration when she presented the deal to her caucus that she took the House floor for a record-breaking eight hours straight on Wednesday, reading stories of DACA recipients.
But that wasn’t enough to satisfy some of her base, and the leadership team sent conflicting messages, saying they weren’t whipping the bill Wednesday, then sending a whip notice to vote no on Thursday. Pelosi also sent a “dear colleague” letter saying Republicans will need Democratic votes to pass the deal in the House and urging her caucus to “be heard,” though not necessarily block its passage.
“House Democrats have a voice here and we must be heard,” Pelosi wrote. “These are the reasons I am voting against this bill.”
But earlier Thursday, Pelosi called it a “good bill” and said she “fought very hard for many of the things that are in there,” even as she said she wouldn’t vote for it.
Pelosi also told members of her caucus planning to vote “yes” on the budget deal not to telegraph those positions in order to maintain leverage, according to two Democratic sources.
Even so, most everyone in Congress believed that the bill had enough votes to pass the House, even among Democrats.
“I think it’s very important for DACA that there be a significant presence of votes against whatever comes over, and not just for DACA, there’s other reasons (to oppose the deal),” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and Hispanic caucus member. “But I anticipate that if 30, 40 Democrats vote for it, it would pass.”
I can definitely see some House Democratic “protest votes” over the DACA omission. What I can’t see is House Dems joining the “Bakuninists” in the GOP to shut down the Government again.
As lawmakers announced a budget deal that would address many of the issues stymieing Washington — with the key exception of immigration — House Democrats on Wednesday were feeling the heat.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi took to the House floor Wednesday to warn she would not support the burgeoning deal without a commitment from House Speaker Paul Ryan that the Republican-controlled House would hold a debate and vote on immigration legislation as his Senate counterpart Mitch McConnell has pledged, setting up a potential standoff.
The two-year deal that leadership announced on the Senate floor would set domestic and defense spending levels, push back the debt limit and resolve some outstanding issues Democrats have pushed for like support for community health centers and disaster relief money.
But left out of the deal would be a resolution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that Trump is ending — and House Democrats have long been steadfast they would not support government funding without it.
The Senate is close, nevertheless, to sending the deal to the House with a continuing resolution that would fund the government into March, squeezing Democrats to risk rejecting a budget compromise over DACA alone, a position they have actively sought to avoid. Democratic votes in the House haven’t been necessary to pass continuing resolutions this year, but a number of House conservatives are expected to oppose the budget deal because of the domestic spending levels. That will force Democrats’ hand.
“The budget caps agreement includes many Democratic priorities,” Pelosi said in a statement. “This morning, we took a measure of our caucus because the package does nothing to advance bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers in the House. Without a commitment from Speaker Ryan comparable to the commitment from Leader McConnell, this package does not have my support.”
Some Democrats were already backing up Pelosi as the deal was announced Wednesday afternoon.
California Rep. Eric Swallwell said while he supports a DACA fix, his concern was more about the size of the deal.
“I still have a real problem dramatically increasing the caps, adding to the deficit, when we just added $2 trillion for the tax plan. So if (Republicans) want to roll back their tax cuts so that we don’t have such a deep, deep deficit, I would be more receptive to that,” Swallwell said.
Congressional Hispanic Caucus member and California Democratic Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán said Democrats should not accept a funding deal without what they’ve asked for.
“No, I think that we aren’t using all the leverage we have and that’s a disappointment and I won’t support it,” she said. “We as a caucus have talked about making this one of our leverage points and using this as a leverage point. I hope that we continue to do that.”
But the objection wasn’t universal, and the mood in a House Democrat caucus meeting this morning that convinced Pelosi to speak on the floor was split, according to a Democrat in the meeting. Some were “understandably upset” about not including DACA recipients and there was “generally a lot of frustration.”
But others raised questions, asking, “What is our plan? What is our message? How are we going to win this?” After the last shutdown members are still unclear on the path forward and expect the Senate to pass this, leaving them little room. The source said there is a lot in the deal that many Democrats support, including the increase in domestic programs.
This source told CNN “a lot of people are going to vote for it. It’s not a situation where we can hold all our members.”
It’s unclear if Democratic leadership will whip against the bill. Asked Wednesday if leadership is instructing its members any particular way, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley demurred.
“People in our caucus will do what they think is in the best interests of their constituents and for the country,” Crowley said.
And Crowley didn’t commit to supporting or rejecting the deal.
“There is more to this deal than the issue of immigration,” he said, referencing the disaster relief money, in particular. “It is very complex. This There? is much more to this than simply one-off issues. And we’ll have to look at that in totality.”
Unlike recent past government funding deadlines, House Democrats have been holding their fire in pressuring their Senate colleagues to reject a deal that doesn’t address DACA. That has largely been because of McConnell’s promise to turn to a “fair” process on immigration after February 8, when the deadline comes.
“It’s hard, because we want them to be clear that this is reckless by the Republicans, but we are also clear that they want to keep the Senate and Congress moving so they have an opportunity, not just at getting a full year (funding) — stop doing (continuing resolutions) — but also to deal with other issues including DACA, by getting a vote on something,” said on Tuesday.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has been one of the loudest voices for rejecting funding without an immigration deal, even marching from the House side to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office in December to urge him to hold the line. That pressure isn’t there this time.
“I don’t sense any,” said Arizona Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva, a member of the caucus. But, he added, there’s “some trepidation” about the Senate process because of what could be added to a neutral bill — both in the Senate and the House.
“This has been the black hole for immigration, the House of Representatives, since I’ve been here, 15 years, and nothing comes out of here, and whatever goes to conference, if the House leadership has any say, it will get uglier,” Grijalva said.
But while Democrats were keeping their powder dry on a continuing resolution, as talk of the caps deal being near circulated, one Democratic House member said on condition of anonymity to discuss dynamics, that began to change. Tuesday night and Wednesday morning brought a flurry of communications between members, the lawmaker said.
“There is more support than yesterday on holding the line,” the member said Wednesday. “We shouldn’t negotiate the caps away without a DACA fix.”
CNN’s Phil Mattingly, Deirdre Walsh and Sunlen Serfaty contributed to this report.”
I can’t see any “Bipartisan Dreamer Bill” along the lines being discussed in the Senate that will be able to pass the House as long as the GOP is in charge and Paul Ryan is the Speaker.
I also don’t see a “House Dreamer Bill” passing. The “Goodlatte Bill” — favored by many in the GOP –is so miserly in its Dreamer protections and has so much of the Administration’s White Nationalist restrictionist agenda attached that all or almost all Democrats and probably a “good-sized chunk” of “moderate” Republicans are likely to be able to defeat it.
But, while the Democrats and the GOP moderates in the House might be able to come up with a more reasonable proposal that actually could pass, like the Hurd-Aguilar Bill, under the “Hastert Rule,” Speaker Ryan won’t bring it to the floor for a vote because the bill would rely on a majority of Democrats for passage.
Given the foregoing scenarios, I don’t see where forcing another shutdown gets the Democrats. With the GOP and the White House opposed to including a narrower “Dreamers-Border Security Only” (only two of Trump’s “four pillars”) in a Budget Agreement, there isn’t a feasible “end game” for the House Democrats. They could force a shutdown, but I don’t think they will be able to force the GOP to include Dreamer protection in a Budget deal. So, ultimately, they will have to “fold,” as has happened in the past.
So, what’s the best result I could see for the “Dreamers” right now: 1) eventually getting a “temporary extension” of DACA from Congress, or 2) an “indefinite hold” on DACA recision from the Federal Courts (which wouldn’t preclude the Administration from going through a “Notice and Comment” regulatory process to repeal DACA). Either of those would only help those who qualify for the current DACA program — not the “expanded DACA” group. Either way, permanent relief for the Dreamers is likely to require “regime change” at least at some level.
“Hispanic Caucus vents at Democratic leadership over shutdown, DACA strategy
By: Tal Kopan, CNN
Hispanic Democrats on Tuesday had a combination venting and strategy session with Democratic congressional leaders as they expressed frustration that there still has not been a resolution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer got an earful about the handling of the recent government shutdown and recent comments about future strategy, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said.
“I think there’s a lot of conversations about, where is our leverage and how are we going to use it?” said California Democrat Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán.
Barragán said she specifically raised comments Schumer made in The Washington Post that “can’t just let (DACA) occupy the whole stage,” referring to Democratic strategy in red states. She said she told Schumer her community felt that sent a message they weren’t a priority.
“He stood by his comment,” Barragán said of his response. Generally, she added, “He said, ‘I can understand the pain people are feeling and the frustration’ and certainly understood why people felt disappointed in where we are today. Although I think the message is, ‘We’re better off than we were.’ So I’m not sure there’s complete agreement on all fronts.”
The “tension,” as Barragán put it, was indicative of raw nerves among the Democratic caucus about whether leadership is fully committed to using all points of leverage to push for a solution on DACA, the program being ended by President Donald Trump that protected young undocumented immigrants from deportation.
One source in the room speaking anonymously to be candid called the meeting a “waste of time” that was “all filler.”
Another called it equal parts frustration and cheerleading, with an understanding that Republicans remain the main obstacle to deal with.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer called the meeting “candid,” saying the caucus is “correctly frustrated” about the situation for recipients of DACA.
“I think there were obviously some sentiments in the meeting, as you well know, that were, ‘I’m not sure we’re following the right strategy here,'” Hoyer told reporters after the meeting. “There was a candid discussion about why the strategy was being pursued and what was being pursued and what opportunities and challenges were, I think people came out with some degree of appreciation.”
Multiple lawmakers said there was frustration as Democrats rejected government funding on a Friday but voted to reopen the government on Monday when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to open debate on immigration on the Senate floor in February.
Barragán noted there is no commitment to an immigration vote in the House.”It’s very frustrating on the House side because it appears there’s a different situation in the House than in the Senate, we haven’t gotten any kind of commitment on the House side,” Barragán said. “And so even though on the Senate side, Sen. Schumer talks about how they have that commitment and he believes they’re going to get a vote, I think it still fails to take into consideration that strategy on the House side.”
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat who has long served as a voice for immigration advocates in the House, said many in the room “were disappointed” in a “lack of communication” regarding the shutdown. But he also said the focus was on moving forward.
“Democrats, we’re good at fighting and I also think we’re good at mending fences, and that’s what we’re doing here,” Gutierrez told reporters. “We’re trying to figure out a way forward. … I think (Dem leaders) are committed and this isn’t over. Look, trip, you get up and you go back to fight, but we have a clear determination, we’re going to fight for the Dreamers.”
The chairwoman of the Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, called the session a combination of strategy and “venting, productively.”
“I didn’t see it as being negative,” she said. “It was an important place to come back after a week for folks to talk about their frustrations, to talk about what they think we haven’t done well, to talk about things that we think are working and to talk about all eyes on the House. What is the House going to do, how are we going to get them to do it and where are we?”
I think the hard answer to Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s question is “You won’t get the House to ‘do what you want.'”Not as long as the GOP is in the majority, the White Nationalist/Bakuninist Block of the House GOP remains intact, and “Spineless Paul” Ryan (or any other GOP Representative) remains Speaker.
In simple terms, Dems and Dreamers, you’re going to have to win some elections and get some control to bring this to a conclusion that won’t involve “giving in” to the whole (or huge chunks of the) White Nationalist, anti-American, anti-growth restrictionist agenda! Minority parties pushing minority platforms seldom get what they want.
Instead of uselessly “ranting” and “venting” at each other, Dreamers and Dems need to work harder to get out the vote (a few more well-placed Hispanic, African-American, and other minority votes could have changed the results of the last election) and eventually win control of something on the national level!
Clearly, while Dreamers and their cause remain popular with the overall public, there is a “vocal minority” essentially White, racist, xenophobic “core” out there that is vehemently opposed to progress and a diverse society and puts their “hate/turn back the clock agenda” at the top of their “issues list.” That’s why most GOP legislators, particularly in the House, see little or no “downside risk” to “stiffing” Dreamers — particularly if the only “downside” is an unpopular and unsustainable “Government shutdown” by the Senate Dems.
Internal bickering is not a useful substitute for putting energy and talent into “grass-roots” organizations that appeal to voters, incorporate solutions to local and regional issues, and thereby win elections! Without “victories in the political arena,” there will be no “magic strategies” that will produce decent immigration reform — for the Dreamers or anyone else who cares about America’s future as a vibrant, forward-looking “nation of immigrants.”
“Donald Trump hasn’t created the massive “deportation force” he promised as a candidate for president. But he has done the next best thing—boosting, bolstering, and unleashing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, giving it broad authority to act at its own discretion. The result? An empowered and authoritarian agency that operates with impunity, whose chief attribute is unapologetic cruelty.
Under President Obama, who ramped up immigration enforcement even as he sought to protect large categories of unauthorized immigrants from deportation, ICE was a controversial agency whose practices came under heavy scrutiny from activists and some fellow Democrats. But in the year since Trump’s election, ICE has become something far more sinister: a draconian force for harassing and detaining people who pose no threat to the United States or its citizens.
And in keeping with one of President Trump’s first executive orders, which drastically expanded who the federal government considered a priority for deportation, the most striking aspect of ICE under this administration has been its refusal to distinguish between law-abiding immigrants, whose undocumented status obscures their integration into American life, and those with active criminal records—the “bad hombres” of the president’s rhetoric.
Erasing that distinction is how we get the arrest and detention of Lukasz Niec, a Polish immigrant and green card holder who was brought to the United States as a young child. Last week, ICE agents arrested Niec at his home in Michigan, citing two misdemeanor convictions for offenses that were committed when he was a teenager, according to the Washington Post. Although one of the convictions had been scrubbed from his record, it can still be used to remove him from the country. A practicing physician, Niec now sits in a county jail, awaiting possible deportation.
Niec’s standing as an affluent professional makes him an unusual case. More typical is the plight of Jorge Garcia, a 30-year resident of the United States who was recently deported to Mexico after his arrest by ICE. Married with two American-born children, Garcia was brought to the country as a child. He was working to secure legal status when, following Trump’s election, he was ordered to leave the country. In a statement to CBS News, ICE explained that anyone violating immigration laws “may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and … removal from the United States.” Despite its ability to exercise discretion, ICE has opted for an indiscriminate approach to immigration enforcement, arresting and detaining unauthorized residents regardless of whether they pose a threat to the public.
In its drive to remove as many undocumented residents as possible, ICE has begun deporting immigrants who make routine check-ins to their offices, even if those people are simply awaiting visas or green cards that would allow them to stay. Vice News recounts the story of Andre Browne, a Barbados native married to an American citizen. At a recent check-in with ICE agents, he was “arrested and forced to surrender all personal belongings.” He was jailed and now faces deportation. Similarly, in Virginia, a mother of two, Liliana Cruz Mendez, was detained following her regular check-in with immigration officials. Her offense? A traffic misdemeanor.
ICE’s tactics can have life-changing effects, even when its targets are spared deportation. The New Yorker tells of Alejandra Ruiz, brought to the United States as an infant. Last March, she was arrested by ICE agents citing a deportation order issued when she was a toddler. She was shackled and sent to an immigrant-detention facility operated by a private-prison firm. Ruiz was eventually released—she had filed a motion to reopen her childhood case for asylum—but it came at the cost of her livelihood: She lost her job as a senior care worker.
In addition to these activities, ICE is ramping up its mass raids in an effort to spread paranoia and uncertainty in cities with large undocumented populations. The agency is deliberately targeting these “sanctuary cities,” hoping to compel cooperation with their newly aggressive enforcement operations. This is all part of a larger strategy to create an atmosphere of fear and desperation for unauthorized immigrants. It’s behind President Trump’s decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and end deportation protections for immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador. Vox’s Dara Lind describes it as “a combination of policy and messaging to keep the threat of deportation hanging over immigrants’ heads” meant to make sure “they don’t get too comfortable here because they could be taken at any minute.”
Anti-immigration hard-liners describe these incidents in the bloodless language of “immigration enforcement,” but that obscures the violence and trauma of what’s happening on the ground: ICE is whisking people away to jails or private prisons and then exiling them from their homes and communities with little chance of recourse or recompense. And the pace is only increasing. While the overall number of “border removals”—those caught trying to cross the border—dropped last year, as a result of economic trends and Trump’s hard-line policies, the proportion of “interior removals” undertaken by ICE increased. Most deportations still involve immigrants from a handful of Latin American countries, but “[t]he number of deportees from other nations rose 24 percent in Trump’s first year,” reports NPR.
The administration is still hoping to increase those efforts. A proposal released by the White House last week asked Congress to grant additional funds to hire more ICE agents as part of an overall increase in “border security” that would be effectively traded for a path to citizenship for more than 1 million Dreamers.
It will be up to Democrats to block those additional funds and, perhaps, to build a broader case against ICE and its tactics. Some high-profile Democrats, like Sen. Kamala Harris of California, have already publicly condemned the agency. “ICE raids across the country have torn mothers apart from their children. The raids lack transparency, spread fear, and harm public safety,” she said last year in a Facebook post. More recently, following a report that ICE was planning raids in retaliation to a new California law limiting cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities, Harris said that such raids would be “an abhorrent abuse of power.”
Given the extent to which Democrats have helped build the architecture for today’s ICE, Harris’ statements—as well as similar ones by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi—may mark the beginning of a new and needed skepticism toward the agency. And if so, then the logic of their critique doesn’t just point toward reform—it points toward a fundamental rethinking of immigration enforcement and a move away from the authoritarianism of ICE as it exists.
What the country needs, in other words, is an honest discussion about whether ICE can be effectively reformed or if it must be abolished and replaced by an agency that can carry out its mission in a more effective and humane way.”
Meanwhile, over in the Southern District of New York, U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest had enough of ICE’s “Gonzo” tactics following the mindless arrest of immigration activist Ravi Ragbir. She blasted ICE’s actions in ordering Ragbir’s release to say good-bye to his family and wind up his affairs. Judge Forrest characterized ICE’s actions in detaining Ragbir as “unnecessarily cruel.”
Here is a copy of Judge Forrest’s order in Ragbir v Sessions:
Useless, counterproductive removals, waste of Government enforcement resources, irrationality, and unnecessary cruelty are, of course, at the heart of the Trump/Sessions/Miller immigration enforcement program. Certainly, the performance of ICE under Trump — not especially good at removing real criminals and threats or any other type of legitimate law enforcement — much better at busting minor offenders and law-abiding community members and sowing terror in ethnic communities — provides a compelling argument that DHS does not need any additional enforcement agents.
Indeed, I have hypothesized that what Trump, Sessions, Miller, and the White Nationalists are really doing is building the DHS into an internal security police force that will be used against all of those the Administration fears or views as opponents of their “Totalitarian-Wannabe State.”
In the meantime, arbitrary use of force and calculated unnecessary cruelty are likely to remain staples of the DHS under Trump. That’s why ICE is fast becoming American’s most loathed, mistrusted, and unprofessional police force. Bouie might well be right. Assuming that America recovers from the Trump regime, unfortunately not necessarily a given, ICE might well need to be abolished and “replaced by an agency that can carry out its mission in a more effective and humane way.”
Folks, as we take a few minutes today to remember Dr. King, his vision for a better America, and his inspiring “I Have A Dream Speech,” we have to face the fact that everything Dr. King stood for is under a vicious and concerted attack, the likes of which we haven’t seen in America for approximately 50 years, by individuals elected to govern by a minority of voters in our country.
So, today, I’m offering you a “potpourri” of how and why Dr.King’s Dream has “gone south,” so to speak, and how those of us who care about social justice and due process in America can nevertheless resurrect it and move forward together for a greater and more tolerant American that celebrates the talents, contributions, and humanity of all who live here!.
On Martin Luther King’s birthday, a look back at some disquieting events in race relations in 2017.
Nearly 50 years ago, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. went to the mountaintop and looked out over the promised land. In a powerful and prophetic speech on April 3, 1968, he told a crowd at the Mason Temple in Memphis that while there would certainly be difficult days ahead, he had no doubt that the struggle for racial justice would be successful.
“I may not get there with you,” he said. “But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And so I am happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything.”
The following day, he was assassinated.
The intervening years have been full of steps forward and steps backward, of extraordinary changes as well as awful reminders of what has not changed. What would King have made of our first black president? What would he have thought had he seen neo-Nazis marching through the streets of Charlottesville, Va., so many years after his death? How would he have viewed the shooting by police of unarmed black men in cities around the country — or the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement? He would surely have heard the assertions that we have become a “post-racial” society because we elected (and reelected) Barack Obama. But would he have believed it?
This past year was not terribly heartening on the civil rights front. It was appalling enough that racist white nationalists marched in Charlottesville in August. But it was even more shocking that President Trump seemed incapable of making the most basic moral judgment about that march; instead, he said that there were some “very fine people” at the rally of neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
Racial injustices that bedeviled the country in King’s day — voter suppression, segregated schools, hate crimes — have not gone away. A report released last week by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on inequities in the funding of public schools concludes — and this should surprise no one — that students of color living in poor, segregated neighborhoods are often relegated to low-quality schools simply due to where they live. States continued in 2017 to pass laws that make it harder, rather than easier, for people of color to vote.
The Trump administration also seems determined to undo two decades of Justice Department civil rights work, cutting back on investigations into the excessive use of force and racial bias by police departments. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions in March ordered a review of all existing federal consent decrees with local police departments with the possibility of dismantling them — a move that could set back police reform by many years.
Here in Los Angeles County, this statistic is telling: 40% of the estimated 57,000 homeless people — the most desperate and destitute residents of the county — are black. Yet black residents make up only 9% of the L.A. County population.
But despite bad news on several fronts, what have been heartening over the last year are the objections raised by so many people across the country.
Consider the statues of Confederate generals and slave owners that were brought down across the country. Schools and other institutions rebranded buildings that were formerly named after racists.
The Black Lives Matter movement has grown from a small street and cyber-protest group into a more potent civil rights organization focusing on changing institutions that have traditionally marginalized black people.
When football quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest, as he said, a country that oppresses black people, he was denounced by many (including Trump) but emulated by others. Kaepernick has been effectively banished from professional football but he started a movement.
Roy Moore was defeated for a Senate seat in Alabama by a surge of black voters, particularly black women. (But no sooner did he lose than Joe Arpaio — the disgraced, vehemently anti-immigrant former Arizona sheriff — announced that he is running for Senate there.)
So on what would have been King’s 89th birthday, it is clear that the United States is not yet the promised land he envisioned in the last great speech of his life. But we agree with him that it’s still possible to get there.”
See this short HuffPost video on “Why MLK’s Message Still Matters Today!”
Read about how the Arizona GOP has resurrected, and in some instances actually welcomed, “Racist Joe” Arpaio, an unapologetic anti-Hispanic bigot and convicted scofflaw. “Racist Joe” was pardoned by Trump and is now running for the GOP nomination to replace retiring Arizona GOP Senator Jeff Flake, who often has been a critic of Trump. One thing “Racist Joe’s” candidacy is doing is energizing the Latino community that successfully fought to remove him from the office of Sheriff and to have him brought to justice for his racist policies.
Spared from the threat of deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, she campaigned to oust Joe Arpaio when he unsuccessfully ran for reelection as Maricopa County sheriff in 2016. She knocked on hundreds of doors in south Phoenix’s predominantly Latino neighborhoods to register voters. She made phone calls, walked on college campuses. Her message was direct, like the name of the group she worked with, Bazta Arpaio, a take on the Spanish word basta — enough Arpaio.
But now, the 85-year-old former sheriff is back and running for Senate. Sanchez, who had planned to step away from politics to focus on her studies at Grand Canyon University, is back as well, organizing once more.
“If he thinks he can come back and terrorize the entire state like he did Maricopa County, it’s not going to happen,” Sanchez, 20, said. “I’m not going to let it happen.”
Arpaio enters a crowded Republican primary and may not emerge as the party’s nominee, but his bid has already galvanized Arizona’s Latino electorate — one of the country’s largest and fastest-growing voter blocs.
Organizers like Sanchez, who thought they might sit out the midterm elections, rushed back into offices and started making calls. Social media groups that had gone dormant have resurrected with posts reminding voters that Arpaio was criminally convicted of violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos.
“We’ve been hearing, ‘Is it true Arpaio is back? OK, what can we do to help?’” said Montserrat Arredondo, director of One Arizona, a Phoenix nonprofit group focused on increasing Latino voter turnout. “People were living in terror when Arpaio was in office. They haven’t forgotten.”
In 2008, 796,000 Latinos were eligible to vote in the state, according to One Arizona. By 2016, that potential voting pool jumped to 1.1 million. (California tops the nation with the most Latinos eligible to vote, almost 6.9 million.)
In 2016, Latinos accounted for almost 20% of all registered voters in Arizona. Latinos make up about 30% of Arizona’s population.
. . . .
Last year, President Trump pardoned Arpaio of a criminal conviction for violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos. When announcing his candidacy Tuesday, Arpaio pledged his full support to the president and his policies.
On Saturday, Arpaio made his first public appearance since announcing his candidacy, attending a gathering of Maricopa County Republicans. He was unmoved when asked about the enthusiasm his candidacy has created among Latinos.
“Many of them hate me for enforcing the law,” he said. “I can’t change that. … All I know is that I have my supporters, they’re going to support who they want. I’m in this to win it though.”
Arpaio, gripping about a dozen red cardboard signs that read “We need Sheriff Joe Arpaio in DC,” walked through the crowd where he mingled with, among others, former state Sen. Kelli Ward and U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, who also are seeking the GOP Senate nomination. Overall, Arpaio was widely met with enthusiasm from attendees.
“So glad you’re back,” said a man wearing a “Vietnam Veteran” hat.
“It’s great to be back,” Arpaio replied.
Arpaio, who handed out business cards touting his once self-proclaimed status as “America’s toughest sheriff,” said he had no regrets from his more than two decades in office.
“Not a single one,” he said. “I spoke my mind and did what needed to be done and would do it the same in a minute.”
In an interview, Arpaio, who still insists he has “evidence” that former President Obama’s birth certificate is forged, a rumor repeatedly shown to be false, did not lay out specific policy platforms, only insisting he’ll get things done in Washington.
During his tenure as sheriff, repeated court rulings against his office for civil rights violations cost local taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.”
Read the complete story at the link.
Professor George Yancy of Emory University writing in the NY Times asks “Will America Choose King’s Dream Or Trump’s Nightmare?”
“Let’s come clean: President Trump is a white racist! Over the past few days, many have written, spoken and shouted this fact, but it needs repeating: President Trump is a white racist! Why repeat it? Because many have been under the grand illusion that America is a “post-racial” nation, a beautiful melting pot where racism is only sporadic, infrequent and expressed by those on the margins of an otherwise mainstream and “decent” America. That’s a lie; a blatant one at that. We must face a very horrible truth. And America is so cowardly when it comes to facing awful truths about itself.
So, as we celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, we must face the fact that we are at a moral crossroad. Will America courageously live out Dr. King’s dream or will it go down the road of bigotry and racist vitriol, preferring to live out Mr. Trump’s nightmare instead? In his autobiography, reflecting on the nonviolent uprising of the people of India, Dr. King wrote, “The way of acquiesce leads to moral and spiritual suicide.” Those of us who defiantly desire to live, and to live out Dr. King’s dream, to make it a reality, must not acquiesce now, precisely when his direst prophetic warning faces us head on.
On the night before he was murdered by a white man on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., Dr. King wrote: “America is going to hell if we don’t use her vast resources to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life.” Our current president, full of hatred and contempt for those children, is the terrifying embodiment of this prophecy.
We desperately need each other at this moment of moral crisis and malicious racist divisiveness. Will we raise our collective voices against Mr. Trump’s white racism and those who make excuses for it or submit and thereby self-destructively kill any chance of fully becoming our better selves? Dr. King also warned us that “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.” To honor Dr. King, we must not remain silent, we must not betray his legacy.
So many Americans suffer from the obsessive need to claim “innocence,” that is, to lie to ourselves. Yet such a lie is part of our moral undoing. While many will deny, continue to lie and claim our national “innocence,” I come bearing deeply troubling, but not surprising, news: White racism is now comfortably located within the Oval Office, right there at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, embodied in our 45th president, one who is, and I think many would agree, must agree, without any hesitation, a white racist. There are many who will resist this characterization, but Mr. Trump has desecrated the symbolic aspirations of America, exhumed forms of white supremacist discourse that so many would assume is spewed only by Ku Klux Klan.”
Read the rest of Professor Yancy’s op-ed at the link.
From lead columnist David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick at the NY Times we get “Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List.”
Donald Trump has been obsessed with race for the entire time he has been a public figure. He had a history of making racist comments as a New York real-estate developer in the 1970s and ‘80s. More recently, his political rise was built on promulgating the lie that the nation’s first black president was born in Kenya. He then launched his campaign with a speech describing Mexicans as rapists.
The media often falls back on euphemisms when describing Trump’s comments about race: racially loaded, racially charged, racially tinged, racially sensitive. And Trump himself has claimed that he is “the least racist person.” But here’s the truth: Donald Trump is a racist. He talks about and treats people differently based on their race. He has done so for years, and he is still doing so.
Here, we have attempted to compile a definitive list of his racist comments – or at least the publicly known ones.
The New York Years
Trump’s real-estate company tried to avoid renting apartments to African-Americans in the 1970s and gave preferential treatment to whites, according to the federal government.
Trump treated black employees at his casinos differently from whites, according to multiple sources. A former hotel executive said Trump criticized a black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks.”
In 1989, Trump took out ads in New York newspapers urging the death penalty for five black and Latino teenagers accused of raping a white woman in Central Park; he argued they were guilty as late as October 2016, more than 10 years after DNA evidence had exonerated them.
In 1989, on NBC, Trump said: “I think sometimes a black may think they don’t have an advantage or this and that. I’ve said on one occasion, even about myself, if I were starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I really believe they do have an actual advantage.”
He uses the gang MS-13 to disparage all immigrants. Among many other statements, he has suggested that Obama’s protection of the Dreamers — otherwise law-abiding immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children — contributed to the spread of MS-13.
In December 2015, Trump called for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” including refusing to readmit Muslim-American citizens who were outside of the country at the time.
“I find nothing more useless than debating the existence of racism, particularly when you are surrounded by evidence of its existence. It feels to me like a way to keep you fighting against the water until you drown.
The debates themselves, I believe, render a simple concept impossibly complex, making the very meaning of “racism” frustratingly murky.
So, let’s strip that away here. Let’s be honest and forthright.
Racism is simply the belief that race is an inherent and determining factor in a person’s or a people’s character and capabilities, rendering some inferior and others superior. These beliefs are racial prejudices.
The history of America is one in which white people used racism and white supremacy to develop a racial caste system that advantaged them and disadvantaged others.
Understanding this, it is not a stretch to understand that Donald Trump’s words and deeds over the course of his life have demonstrated a pattern of expressing racial prejudices that demean people who are black and brown and that play to the racial hostilities of other white people.
It is not a stretch to say that Trump is racist. It’s not a stretch to say that he is a white supremacist. It’s not a stretch to say that Trump is a bigot.
I know of no point during his entire life where he has apologized for, repented of, or sought absolution for any of his racist actions or comments.
Instead, he either denies, deflects or amps up the attack.
Trump is a racist. We can put that baby to bed.
“Racism” and “racist” are simply words that have definitions, and Trump comfortably and unambiguously meets those definitions.
We have unfortunately moved away from the simple definition of racism, to the point where the only people to whom the appellation can be safely applied are the vocal, violent racial archetypes.
Racism doesn’t require hatred, constant expression, or even conscious awareness. We want racism to be fringe rather than foundational. But, wishing isn’t an effective method of eradication.
We have to face this thing, stare it down and fight it back.
The simple acknowledgment that Trump is a racist is the easy part. The harder, more substantive part is this: What are we going to do about it?
First and foremost, although Trump is not the first president to be a racist, we must make him the last. If by some miracle he should serve out his first term, he mustn’t be allowed a second. Voters of good conscience must swarm the polls in 2020.
But before that, those voters must do so later this year, to rid the House and the Senate of as many of Trump’s defenders, apologists and accomplices as possible. Should the time come where impeachment is inevitable, there must be enough votes in the House and Senate to ensure it.
We have to stop thinking that we can somehow separate what racists believe from how they will behave. We must stop believing that any of Trump’s actions are clear of the venom coursing through his convictions. Everything he does is an articulation of who he is and what he believes. Therefore, all policies he supports, positions he takes and appointments he makes are suspect.
And finally, we have to stop giving a pass to the people — whether elected official or average voter — who support and defend his racism. If you defend racism you are part of the racism. It doesn’t matter how much you say that you’re an egalitarian, how much you say that you are race blind, how much you say that you are only interested in people’s policies and not their racist polemics.
As the brilliant James Baldwin once put it: “I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.” When I see that in poll after poll a portion of Trump’s base continues to support his behavior, including on race, I can only conclude that there is no real daylight between Trump and his base. They are part of his racism.
When I see the extraordinary hypocrisy of elected officials who either remain silent in the wake of Trump’s continued racist outbursts or who obliquely condemn him, only to in short order return to defending and praising him and supporting his agenda, I see that there is no real daylight between Trump and them either. They too are part of his racism.
When you see it this way, you understand the enormity and the profundity of what we are facing. There were enough Americans who were willing to accept Trump’s racism to elect him. There are enough people in Washington willing to accept Trump’s racism to defend him. Not only is Trump racist, the entire architecture of his support is suffused with that racism. Racism is a fundamental component of the Trump presidency.
Back over at the Washington Post, op-ed writer E.J. Dionne, Jr., tells us the depressing news that “We could be a much better country. Trump makes it impossible.”
Dionne concludes his piece with the following observations about our current “Dreamer” debate:
“Our current debate is frustrating, and not only because Trump doesn’t understand what “mutual toleration” and “forbearance” even mean. By persistently making himself, his personality, his needs, his prejudices and his stability the central topics of our political conversation, Trump is blocking the public conversation we ought to be having about how to move forward.
And while Trump’s enablers in the Republican Party will do all they can to avoid the issue, there should now be no doubt (even if this was clear long ago) that we have a blatant racist as our president. His reference to immigrants from “sh–hole countries” and his expressed preference for Norwegians over Haitians, Salvadorans and new arrivals from Africa make this abundantly clear. Racist leaders do not help us reach mutual toleration. His semi-denial 15 hours after his comment was first reported lacked credibility, especially because he called around first to see how his original words would play with his base.
But notice also what Trump’s outburst did to our capacity to govern ourselves and make progress. Democrats and Republicans sympathetic to the plight of the “dreamers” worked out an immigration compromise designed carefully to give Trump what he had said he needed.
There were many concessions by Democrats on border security, “chain migration” based on family reunification, and the diversity visa lottery that Trump had criticized. GOP senators such as Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) bargained in good faith and were given ample reason by Trump to think they had hit his sweet spot.
Trump blew them away with a torrent of bigotry. In the process, he shifted the onus for avoiding a government shutdown squarely on his own shoulders and those of Republican leaders who were shamefully slow in condemning the president’s racism.
There are so many issues both more important and more interesting than the psyche of a deeply damaged man. We are capable of being a far better nation. But we need leaders who call us to our obligations to each other as free citizens. Instead, we have a president who knows only how to foster division and hatred.”
Read the rest of the op-ed at the link.
Our “Liar-in-Chief:” This short video from CNN, featuring the Washington Post’s “Chief Fact Checker” Glenn Kessler deals with the amazing 2000+ false or misleading claims that Trump has made even before the first anniversary of his Presidency: “Trump averages 5-6 false claims a day.”
Also on video, even immigration restrictionists sometimes wax eloquent about the exceptional generosity of U.S. immigration and refugee laws (even as they engage in an unending battle to undermine that claimed generosity). But, the reality, as set forth in this short HuffPost video is that on a regular basis our Government knowingly and intentionally returns individuals, mostly Hispanics, to countries where they are likely to be harmed or killed because we are unable to fit them within often hyper-technical and overly restrictive readings of various protection laws or because we are unwilling to exercise humanitarian discretion to save them..
I know first-hand because in my former position as a U.S. Immigration Judge, I sometimes had to tell individuals (and their families) in person that I had to order them returned to a country where I had concluded that they would likely be severely harmed or killed because I could not fit them into any of the categories of protection available under U.S. law. I daresay that very few of the restrictionists who glory in the idea of even harsher and more restrictive immigration laws have had this experience.
And clearly, Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, Steven Miller, Bob Goodlatte and others in the GOP would like to increase the number of humans we return to harm or death by stripping defenseless juveniles and other vulnerable asylum seekers of some of the limited rights they now possess in the false name of “border security.” Indeed, Sessions even invented a false narrative of a fraud-ridden, “attorney-gamed” (how do folks who often don’t even have a chance to get an attorney use attorneys to “game” the system?) asylum system in an attempt to justify his totally indefensible and morally bankrupt position.
Check out this video from HuffPost, entitled “This Is The Violent And Tragic Reality Of Deportation” to see the shocking truth about how our removal system really works (or not)!
Thinking of MLK’S “I have a dream,” next, I’ll take you over to The Guardian, where Washington Correspondent Sabrina Siddiqui tells us how “Immigration policy progress and setbacks have become pattern for Dreamers.”
“Greisa Martínez Rosas has seen it before: a rare bipartisan breakthrough on immigration policy, offering a glimmer of hope to advocates like herself. Then a swift unraveling.
Martínez is a Dreamer, one of about 700,000 young undocumented migrants, brought to the US as children, who secured temporary protections through Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or Daca.
She considers herself “one of the lucky ones”. Last year, she was able to renew her legal status until 2020, even as Donald Trump threw the Dreamers into limbo by rescinding Daca and declaring a deadline of 5 March for Congress to act to replace it.
Martínez is an activist with United We Dream, the largest youth-led immigration advocacy group in the US. She has fought on the front lines.
In 2010 and 2013, she saw efforts for immigration reform, and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, culminate in disappointment. She rode a familiar rollercoaster this week, as a bipartisan Daca fix was undermined by Trump’s reported – if contested – reference to African and Central American nations as “shithole countries”.
“It feels like a sequel,” Martínez told the Guardian, adding that Trump’s adversarial views underscored the need to hash out a deal. “This same man is responsible for running a Department of Homeland Security that seeks to hunt and deport people of color.”
Negotiations over immigration have always been precarious. Trump has complicated the picture. After launching his candidacy for president with a speech that called Mexican migrants “rapists” and “killers”, Trump campaigned on deporting nearly 11 million undocumented migrants and building a wall on the Mexico border.
He has, however, shown a more flexible attitude towards Dreamers – despite his move to end their protective status. Last Tuesday, the president sat in the White House, flanked by members of both parties. In a 45-minute negotiating session, televised for full effect, Trump ignited fury among his hardcore supporters by signaling he was open to protection for Dreamers in exchange for modest border security measures.
Then, less than 48 hours later, Trump’s reported comments about countries like Haiti and El Salvador prompted a fierce backlash.
“People are picking their jaws up from the table and they’re trying to recover from feelings of deep hurt and anger,” said Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of America’s Voice, a group which advocates for immigration reform.
“We always knew we were climbing a mountain … but it’s improbable to imagine a positive breakthrough for immigrants with the most nativist president in modern America in charge.”
As the uproar continued, it was nearly forgotten that on Thursday, hours before Trump’s remarks became public, a group of senators announced a bipartisan deal.
Under it, hundreds of thousands of Dreamers would be able to gain provisional legal status and eventually apply for green cards. They would not be able to sponsor their parents for citizenship – an effort to appease Trump’s stance against so-called “chain migration” – but parents would be able to obtain a form of renewable legal status.
There would be other concessions to earn Trump’s signature, such as $2bn for border security including physical barriers, if not by definition a wall.
The compromise would also do away with the diversity visa lottery and reallocate those visas to migrants from underrepresented countries and those who stand to lose Temporary Protected Status. That would help those affected by the Trump administration’s recent decision to terminate such status for some nationals of El Salvador, effectively forcing nearly 200,000 out of the country.
The bill would be far less comprehensive than the one put forward in 2013, when a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Eight” proposed a bill that would have given nearly 11 million undocumented migrants a path to citizenship.
The bill passed the Senate with rare bipartisan support. In the Republican-led House it never received a vote.
Proponents of reform now believe momentum has shifted in their favor, despite Trump’s ascent. The Arizona senator Jeff Flake, part of the 2013 effort and also in the reform group today, said there was a clear deadline of 5 March to help Dreamers.
“I do think there is a broader consensus to do this than we had before,” Flake told the Guardian. “We’re going have 700,000 kids subject to deportation. That’s the biggest difference.”
Read the rest of the story at the link.
Finally, John Blake at CNN tells us “Three ways [you might not know] MLK speaks to our time.”
That’s a famous line from the 19th century philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, but it could also apply to a modern American hero: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
As the nation celebrates King’s national holiday Monday, it’s easy to freeze-frame him as the benevolent dreamer carved in stone on the Washington Mall. Yet the platitudes that frame many King holiday events often fail to mention the most radical aspects of his legacy, says Jeanne Theoharis, a political science professor at Brooklyn College and author of several books on the civil rights movement.
“We turn him into a Thanksgiving parade float, he’s jolly, larger than life and he makes us feel good,” Theoharis says. “We’ve turned him into a mascot.”
Many people vaguely know that King opposed the Vietnam War and talked more about poverty in his later years. But King also had a lot to say about issues not normally associated with civil rights that still resonate today, historians and activists say.
If you’re concerned about inequality, health care, climate change or even the nastiness of our political disagreements, then King has plenty to say to you. To see that version of King, though, we have to dust off the cliches and look at him anew.
If you’re more familiar with your smartphone than your history, try this: Think of King not just as a civil rights hero, but also as an app — his legacy has to be updated to remain relevant.
Here are three ways we can update our MLK app to see how he spoke not only to his time, but to our time as well:
. . . .
But here’s one more uncomfortable thought that also explains why King remains so relevant:
The country is still divided by many of the same issues that consumed him.
On the last night of his life, King told a shouting congregation of black churchgoers that “we as a people” would get to “the Promised Land.” That kind of optimism, though, sounds like it belongs to another era.
What we have now is a leader in the White House who denies widespread reports that he complained about Latino and African immigrants coming to America from “shithole” countries; a white supremacist who murders worshippers in church; a social media landscape that pulsates with anger and accusations.
King’s Promised Land doesn’t sound boring when compared to today’s headlines. And maybe that’s what’s so sad about reliving his life every January for some people.
Fifty years after he died, King’s vision for America still sounds so far away.”
Read the complete article at the link.
There you have it. A brief but representative sample of some of the many ways in which Dr. King’s dream of a “post racist America” is still relevant and why there’s still much more work still to be done than many of us might have thought several years ago.
So, the next time you hear bandied about terms like “merit-based” (means: exclude Brown and Black immigrants); “extreme vetting” (means: using bureaucracy to keep Muslims and other perceived “undesirables” out); “tax cuts” (means: handouts to the rich at the expense of the poor); “entitlement reform” (means: cutting benefits for the most vulnerable); “health care reform” (means: kicking the most needy out of the health care system); “voter fraud” (means: suppressing the Black, Hispanic, and Democratic vote); “rule of law” (means: perverting the role of Government agencies and the courts to harm Blacks, Hispanics, Gays, women, the poor, and other minorities); “job creation” (means: destroying our precious natural resources and the environment for the benefit of big corporations), “border security” (means: slashing rights for children and asylum seekers, and more money for building a wall and expanding prisons for non-criminal migrants, a/k/a/ “The New American Gulag”), “ending chain migration” (means keeping non-White and/or non-Christian immigrants from bringing family members) and other deceptively harmless sounding euphemisms, know what the politicos are really up to and consider them in the terms that Dr. King might have.
What’s really behind the rhetoric and how will it help create the type of more fair, just, equal, and value-driven society that majority of us in American seek to be part of and leave to succeeding generations. If it isn’t moving us as a nation toward those goals, “Just Say NO” as Dr. King would have done!
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.”
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.”
Sounds like a plausible deal that “finesses” some of the longer term immigration policy questions. Thanks to Tal for passing this on.
If the DREAM Act is passed without going through the checks and balances that are provided by regular order, it will represent little more than the partisan views of those who wrote it.
. . . .
It seems somewhat hypocritical for Schumer and Pelosi to be urging the passage of a DREAM Act without going through the regular order: They have expressed outrage in the past when the Republicans have resorted to such tactics.
There is no regular order here. There are no bipartisan, public hearings on the Graham-Cassidy bill. … [I]t’s the same backroom, one-party sham of a legislative process that ultimately brought the other bill down. A contrived, 11th hour hearing on block grants in the Homeland Security Committee — a committee with such limited jurisdiction over healthcare matters — does not even come close to suggesting regular order.
And when House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) abandoned the pledge he had made to return to regular order, Pelosi responded with an angry press statement claiming that, “It has long been clear that regular order is not as important to republicans as protecting their special interest agenda.”
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Officeestimates the DREAM Act would make legal status available to 3.4 million undocumented aliens and would increase national budget deficits by $25.9 billion over the 2018-2027 period.
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 established the largest legalization program we have ever had, and it only legalized 2.7 million aliens.
The extreme generosity of the DREAM Act of 2017 is unfair to the American citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents who have unconscionably long waits to be reunited with alien family members. As of November 2017, there were 4 million aliens with approved family-based visa petitions on the visa waiting list.
. . . .
Congress needs to pass a bill to help alien children who were brought here illegally by their parents, but it should be a bill that has gone through the checks and balances of the legislative process.”
Go on over to The Hill at the link to get the full detail about Nolan’s objections to the current draft of the “Dream Act.”
The parallel between “Graham-Cassidy,” which was in fact a GOP backroom effort that totally excluded Dems from the process, and the Dream Act appears strained. Nonpartisan Dream Act negotiations are currently going on and have been for some time. Indeed, since the Dems are in the minority in both Houses, they will need some bipartisan GOP support to pass Dreamer relief. Moreover, unlike Graham-Cassidy, various versions of the Dream Act have been around and debated for years. Indeed, various bills at one time had majority support in both Houses, but GOP restrictionist maneuvering blocked them from becoming law.
The Dems had to face down some “rebellions’ from their base for going back on their word and voting to temporarily fund the USG over the Holidays. I don’t see how they can “kick the can” on the Dreamers down the road any more without some serious backlash from their own base. That’s particularly true now that the unnecessary and unwise termination of TPS for El Salvador has sowed yet more fear and unease in the immigrant and Hispanic communities.
As I’ve pointed out before, because of the “Bakuninist Wing” of the GOP, Trump isn’t going to get any type of budget without some Democratic support. Once he gets a budget, that need for “bipartisanship” might well disappear overnight. So, now is the time for the Dems to use their “leverage.”
As other commentators have noted, at one time additional border fencing was basically a “nonpartisan no-brainer.” But, by turning “The Wall” into a White Nationalist racist anti-Hispanic symbol, Trump basically has “poisoned the well” for the Democrats. Nevertheless, there might be room for some additional fencing that the Dems could characterize as “less than The Wall” while Trump could claim victory to his base. The Dems also could give on border equipment and technology as well as more administrative and legal personnel for DHS. Beyond that, the pickings are slim.
But, the GOP leaders and Trump don’t have lots of options either. They will be hard pressed to come up with a budget that satisfies Trump while still gaining sufficient support from the Bakuninists. Then, there is the problem that the budget apparently will require 60 votes in the Senate. That means that the GOP has to do at least something akin to a bipartisan deal. I’ve certainly been wrong before, but I don’t see Nolan’s idea as something the Dems can buy at this time.
I have no problem with also giving relief to family members waiting in line to immigrate. It’s not a “zero sum game” as the restrictions try to portray it. We could clearly take in more legal immigrants now and in the future; clearly we should have been doing so in the past, in which case we wouldn’t have approximately 10 million productive residents living here without legal status. But, that probably will have to await some type of overall Immigration Reform that’s unlikely to be accomplished as long as guys like Jeff Sessions, Steven Miller, and Sen. Tom Cotton are “driving the train” for the GOP on immigration.
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, 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.
“(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.
“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.
CNN’s Tal Kopan, Ted Barrett and Phil Mattingly contributed to this report.”
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.
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has refused to say whether Donald Trump asked him to hinder the Russian investigation, a member of the House Intelligence Committee has claimed.
Representative Adam Schiff updated reporters after a closed-door meeting between Mr Sessions and the Intelligence Committee, of which Mr Schiff is a ranking member. The committee is one of several investigating possible Russian meddling in the US presidential election.
“I asked the attorney general whether he was ever instructed by the president to take any action that he believed would hinder the Russia investigation, and he declined to answer the question,” Mr Schiff told reporters after the meeting.
Sessions admits there is not enough evidence to investigate Clinton
Mr Sessions was an early supporter of Mr Trump, and a close adviser to his campaign. He was one of two people the President said he consulted about firing James Comey, the former FBI Director charged with overseeing the Russian investigation at the time.
In March, Mr Sessions recused himself from running the Justice Department’s Russia investigation. He had recently come under scrutiny for failing to disclose several meetings with Russian officials during the campaign. Mr Sessions maintains that nothing nefarious occurred during the meetings.”
Read the complete article at the link.
Seems like a pretty simple yes or no question. But, no question or answer under oath is simple where Gonzo is involved. While Sessions disses lawyers representing vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers, he had the foresight to show up for this hearing with his own “mouthpiece” former DOJ politico Chuck Cooper in tow.
“Republicans prepping letter to Ryan urging DACA fix
By: Tal Kopan, CNN
Dozens of House Republicans are preparing a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan urging a fix for young undocumented immigrants by the end of the year, adding pressure to high-stakes government funding discussions that could hinge on such a deal, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
The letter, organized by Virginia Rep. Scott Taylor, already has signatories numbering in the 20s, according to a source familiar with the letter, and could reach into the 30s by the time it is sent. Taylor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, revealed the work on the letter in a pen-and-pad session with reporters Thursday on Capitol Hill.
Two other GOP sources confirmed the letter’s development to CNN.
Grisham characterized the letter as “telling Ryan, ‘You’ve got to fix this. You’ve got nine days. What is your plan, what is your path?'”
The “nine days” refers to the December 8 deadline to fund the government. Democrats have said if Republicans need their votes to pass a government funding bill, which they have in the past, then they need to resolve the situation for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Donald Trump is ending by the end of the year.
Some Republicans, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, have said any DACA deal should not be included in year-end spending legislation. They have not ruled out, though, the possibility of timing a vote on a DACA deal with one on spending legislation.
Grisham referenced a Democratic-led discharge petition to force a vote on one legislative proposal, the Dream Act, which two Republicans have signed and which needs only 22 more members to support it to force a vote on the floor, though the letter does not threaten that its signatories will back the bill, according to one of the sources.
The letter’s signatories include members who have long pushed for a DACA fix and some who have been less vocal.
According to one of the GOP sources, the letter tells Ryan that the group would like DACA resolved this year and warns that while they agree a legislative solution should include border security, it should not contain measures sought by members like Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte and the White House. Some of those measures include cuts or changes to overall legal immigration, mandatory workforce verification and hardline enforcement measures.
The letter has come together quickly, just this week, and is being teed up for release Friday.”
At least some modest reason for optimism on the “DACA Front.” It’s also refreshing and encouraging to learn that there are a significant number of responsible Republican legislators who don’t necessarily “by into” the false narrative being peddled by Trump, Goodlatte, Perdue, Cotton, Sessions, Miller and other GOP restrictionists about the need to “offset” the Dreamers or decrease (the worst possible course of action) legal immigration avenues into the United States.
“When people arrive at the border seeking asylum from persecution, the United States gives them the benefit of the doubt. As long as they can show there’s a “significant possibility” that they deserve protection, they’re allowed to stay and make their case to an immigration judge. President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress want to change that.
On Sunday, the Trump administration demanded that Congress overhaul the US asylum system as part of any legislation to protect the nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers from deportation. The White House’s asylum proposal, laid out in nine bullet-pointed items as part of the broader immigration plan, appears to be modeled on the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act, a bill that Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee approved in July. The bill, which has not been passed by the full House, would make it easier for the Department of Homeland Securityto quickly reject asylum claims and force most asylum seekers to remain in detention while their cases are decided. The overall effect would be to transform a system for protecting persecuted people, created in the wake of World War II, into a much more adversarial process.
At a hearing in July, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) warned that the GOP proposal would “all but destroy the US asylum system.” Now Trump is trying to fold those changes into a deal to protect the Dreamers—undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children—who were previously covered by Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Eleanor Acer, an expert on refugees at the advocacy group Human Rights First, saidin a statement Monday that Trump’s demands will “block those fleeing persecution and violence from even applying for asylum, and punish those who seek protection by preventing their release from immigration detention facilities and jails.”
But Republicans like Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) argue that asylum reform is needed to address “pervasive” fraud, such as false claims of persecution. Asylum claims from the “Northern Triangle” countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras have been a major focus for Republicans. Between 2013 and 2015, there were more asylum claims from the Northern Triangle, which has been terrorized by MS-13 and other gangs, than in the previous 15 years combined. A 2015 report from the Government Accountability Office found that the United States has “limited capabilities to detect asylum fraud.” But the scope of the problem is not known. Leah Chavla, a program officer at the Women’s Refugee Commission, says going after fraud is misguided in light of the many checks and balances that are already in place.
The real “fraudsters” here are the GOP restrictionists, led by folks like Goodlatte, Miller, and Sessions, trying to fob off their knowingly false and contrived narrative on America. Shame!
Second, the current system intentionally denies lawyers to the respondents in detention in obscure locations along the Southern Border, specifically selected to make it difficult for individuals to exercise their rights.Raising the standards would virtually guarantee rejection of all such asylum seekerswithout any hearing at all.The standard for having asylum granted is supposed to be a generous “well-founded fear” (in other words, a 10% chance or a “reasonable chance”). In fact, however, DHS and EOIR often fail to honor the existing legal standards. Forcing unrepresented individuals in detention with no chance to gather evidence to establish that it is “more likely than not” that they would be granted asylum is a ridiculous travesty of justice.
Third, access to lawyers, not detention, is the most cost-effective way to secure appearance at Immigration Court hearings.Individuals who are able to obtain lawyers, in other words those who actually understand what is happening, have a relatively low rate of “failure to appear.” In fact, a long-term study by the American Immigration Council shows that 95% of minors represented by counsel appear for their hearings as opposed to approximately 67% for those who are unrepresented. See,e.g., https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/taking-attendance-new-data-finds-majority-children-appear-immigration-court
Rather than curtailment of rights or expensive and inhumane detention, the best way of insure that all asylum applicants appear for their scheduled hearings and receive full due process would be to insure that the hearings take place in areas with adequate supplies of pro bono and “low bono” counsel and that hearings are scheduled in a predictable manner that does not intentionally outstrip the capabilities of the pro bono bar.
Fourth, a rational response to fraud concerns would be building better fraud detection programs within DHS, rather than denying vulnerable individuals their statutory and constitutional rights. What would a better system look like: more traditional law enforcement tools, like undercover operations, use of informants to infiltrate smuggling operations, and much better intelligence on the operations of human trafficking rings. And, there’s plenty of resources to do it. DHS just lacks the ability and/or the motivation. Many of the resources now wasted on “gonzo” interior enforcement and mindless detention — sacking up janitors and maids for deportation and detaining rape victims applying for asylum — could be “redeployed” to meaningful, although more challenging, law enforcement activities aimed at rationally addressing the fraud problem rather than using it as a bogus excuse to harm the vulnerable.
Fifth, Goodlatte’s whole premise of fraud among Southern Border asylum applications is highly illogical. Most of the Southern Border asylum claims involve some variant of so-called “particular social groups” or “PSGs,” But, the entire immigration adjudication system at all levels has traditionally been biased against just such claims. and, it is particularly biased againstsuch claims from Central America. PSG claims from Central America receive “strict scrutiny’ at every level of the asylum system! No fraudster in his or her right mind would go to the trouble of “dummying up” a PSG claim which will likely be rejected. No, if you’re going to the trouble of committing fraud, you’d fabricate a “political or religious activist or supporter claim” of the type that are much more routinely granted across the board.
Don’t let Trump, Miller, Sessions, Goodlatte, and their band of shameless GOP xenophobes get away with destroying our precious asylum system! Resist now! Resist forever! Stand up for Due Process, or eventually YOU won’t any at all! Some Dude once said “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” While arrogant folks like the restrictionists obviously don’t believe that, it’s still good advice.