OPTIMISTS’ CORNER: Thinking Ahead To A Post-Trump World! — WashPost Book Review: “One Nation after Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported” by E.J. Dionne, Jr., Norman J. Ornstein, and Thomas E. Mann!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/imaginative-optimism-about-life-in-america-after-trump/2017/09/15/b8b3cc00-94c6-11e7-8754-d478688d23b4_story.html?utm_term=.b261a1306421

Reviewer Beverly Gage writes:

President Trump is not forever. At some point in the not-too-distant future, he will no longer be president, and it will be time to asdamage and begin the recovery process. We don’t know when this will happen: this year or next, in 2021 or 2025. And we don’t know how it will occur: impeachment, resignation, being voted out of office or simply finishing out two terms. But it will happen, and the people in the best position to take advantage of that moment will be those who are already thinking about where we ought to go next. [Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.] That is the imaginative task behind “One Nation After Trump,” a dense but good-spirited and thoroughly readable exercise in envisioning a better America. The book is a team effort by three well-respected Beltway thinkers: the liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr., the American Enterprise Institute’s more conservative Norman J. Ornstein and Ornstein’s longtime co-author Thomas E. Mann, of the Brookings Institution. Their bipartisan — or, perhaps, tripartisan — work seems intended to send the rest of us a message: It’s time to find some common ground before obstructionism, demagoguery, fake news and racial resentment become the dominant features of our national politics. They call upon the old but good Latin phrase “E pluribus unum” to express those aspirations. “Out of many,” they hope, Americans can still find a way to act as “one.” The book begins with an assessment of the 2016 election, asking how on earth we ended up with our reality-star “Normless President.” Its emphasis is less on Trump, however, than on the long-term structural and cultural changes that made his election possible. The authors have no patience for a “both sides” argument about the degradation of our political culture. They lay the blame firmly within the Republican Party, where a process of “radicalization” that began in the 1980s has now resulted in a “Jurassic Park”-style disaster, with the creators of that change unable to control their own monster. “One Nation After Trump,” by E.J. Dionne Jr. and Norman Ornstein (St. Martin’s Press) While Republicans in general — and conservatives in particular — come in for censure, the authors also stress how seemingly neutral aspects of our political system have conspired in recent years to produce an ominous trend toward undemocratic “minority rule.” The electoral college is perhaps the most obvious example; in two out of the past five presidential elections, the popular-vote winner lost the electoral count. Add to this partisan gerrymandering and the two-senators-per-state rule, and we begin to see a national government that does not fully reflect the will of the national majority. In 2012, the authors note, Democrats won 50.5 percent of the major-party votes in House elections but only 46.2 percent of the seats. And such statistics only begin to capture the scope of the challenge. The same structures that weight votes heavily toward rural and Republican areas also discourage voting in the first place, forever reminding individual voters that they don’t matter unless they live in a few key swing states or congressional districts. So what is to be done? If the book’s first half focuses on the sorry state of things today, the second half focuses on how to not make the same mistakes in the future. The authors claim to be genuinely — if tentatively — hopeful about what Trump’s election may ultimately yield for American civic life. “We believe that the popular mobilization and national soul-searching he has aroused could be the occasion for an era of democratic renewal,” they write. But that will happen only if Trump’s opponents across the political spectrum come up with “a hopeful and unifying alternative.” The authors present an impressive list of policy ideas designed to do just that and perhaps even to dispel some of Trump’s allure within the MAGA base. They make a distinction between the “legitimate” (read: economic) grievances of Trump voters and the illegitimate expression of those grievances in the politics of racial and nativist resentment. They chastise Democrats for paying insufficient attention to the real pain of working-class voters, sidelined for decades by deindustrialization and now by an incomplete recovery from the financial crisis. But they insist — rightly — that any attempt to address those problems cannot come at the expense of other social justice movements. Many of their proposals are at once ambitious and reasonable, attempts to make the government work better for its citizens and to deliver a measure of economic justice to those left behind. They group these ideas into a Charter for American Working Families, including a GI Bill for American Workers, designed to revive the all-but-dying dream of economic mobility, and a Contract for American Social Responsibility, aimed at getting corporations to take their public obligations seriously. “Warm feelings are not the same as coherent policies,” they warn. At the same time, they can’t help but dream that the two need not be mutually exclusive. It is hard to object to much about these plans, with their emphasis on fairness and comity and partisan goodwill. And yet there is something incongruous about the authors’ belief that good policy, judiciously presented, will yield the desired political transformation. As the authors note, one of the more depressing lessons of the 2016 election was that policy simply didn’t matter much. Nobody, including his own voters, thought Trump had much policy expertise. On the campaign trail, however, his abuse of wonks and elites and bureaucrats seemed to work in his favor.”

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Read Gage’s complete review, with original and much better formatting, at the link.

I’ve made the point before that those of us who believe in the goodness of America and the strength of a nation based on diversity of backgrounds, cultures, and talents, that is, the majority of Americans, have somehow found ourselves in the unhappy position of being governed by a President and a Party that largely represent the disonent views of a (often unjustifiably) “disgruntled minority” that does not share that vision. There is actually plenty of room for that minority to peacefully coexist and prosper in the majority worldview; but little room for the more humane and tolerant views of the majority in this minority’s crabbed and too often largely self-centered worldview.

Somehow, over time, that has to change for our country to continue to move forward and accomplish great things for ourselves and, perhaps even more important, for others throughout the world. And, there will always be plenty of room for that “disonent minority” regardless of how long it take them to, or if they ever do, “see the light.”

PWS

09-16-17

 

NEW FROM TAL KOPAN AT CNN: DACA ON THE ROPES — “Only Congress can enact a permanent solution to the DACA situation!”

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/15/politics/daca-anniversary-peril/index.html

Tal reports:

“Washington (CNN)Tuesday marks the fifth anniversary of a program that protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation — but supporters worry this one could be its last.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, was implemented in 2012 under President Barack Obama, and President Donald Trump’s administration has continued running despite heated rhetoric against it from Trump on the campaign trail.
But DACA has arguably never been on shakier ground, and advocates for the program are desperately trying to protect it, including with a planned march Tuesday on the White House.
Nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants have benefited from DACA, which protects individuals who were brought to the US illegally as children from deportation, and offers them the ability to work, study and drive legally. Applicants must meet certain criteria, pass a background check and maintain a clean record.
But despite the fact that the administration has continued to issue permits, concerns are increasing that the program could be ended.
“DACA is under grave threat,” Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said on a conference call with reporters Monday.
Ten state attorneys general, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, have issued an ultimatum to the Trump administration — sunset DACA by September 5, or we’ll challenge it in court. The attorneys general have threatened to petition a court that’s considering a similar but separate Obama administration deferred action program, for parents, to also weigh the legality of DACA.
Experts believe that given the makeup of the court hearing the case, and its previous ruling against the parents program, the judges involved would likely strike down DACA as well.
If the court allows arguments against DACA, the Justice Department would be forced to decide whether it will defend the program. While Trump has recently spoken about how sympathetic he is to the “Dreamers” who receive DACA, saying the choice is “very, very hard to make,” he campaigned on a pledge to immediately rescind it. And the US attorney general, former Sen. Jeff Sessions, has been a chief opponent of the program.
The White House offered a cryptic statement on the program’s future, expressing only concern with illegal immigration.
“The President’s priority remains protecting the jobs, wages and security of American workers, families and communities — including the millions of Hispanic and African American workers disadvantaged by illegal immigration,” an administration official said.
On the call with reporters and a DACA recipient, Masto and California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris extolled its virtues, citing estimates that the US economy would lose hundreds of billions of dollars without the contributions of DACA recipients.
“This is not just about what is morally right, this is not only a point about what is right in terms of fighting for the ideals of our country,” Harris said. “This is also right and smart in terms of public benefits.”
Both are co-sponsors of one bipartisan proposal to make the program permanent in Congress, the Dream Act, which also has three Republican co-sponsors. It’s one of four proposed bills that would codify DACA if the administration were to rescind it or the courts were to strike it down.
The Department of Justice did not respond to a CNN request for comment.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the division of the Department of Homeland Security, said the program remains under review.
“The Department of Homeland Security’s stance remains the same — the future of the DACA program continues to be under review with the administration,” said USCIS press secretary Gillian Christensen. “The President has remarked on the need to handle DACA with compassion and with heart. As a matter of policy, we do not comment on pending litigation, but we have said before only Congress can enact a permanent solution to the DACA situation.”
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I think the last statement in Tal’s article, from USCIS, hits the nail on the head. Congress has to come up with a solution to this issue or there will be chaos. Imagine another 800,000 cases of young people thrown into the U.S. Immigration Courts on top of the 610,000 cases already there! It’s Jason Dzubow’s vision of “Trump’s 100 year deportation plan” in action. http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/08/14/jason-dzubow-in-the-asylumist-trumps-101-year-plan-for-removals-malevolence-tempered-by-incompetence/
As Nolan Rappaport has pointed out, it’s unlikely that any of the pending bills, in their present forms, will attract enough GOP support to be enacted. http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/08/07/n-rappaport-in-the-hill-dems-dreamer-bill-offers-false-hope/
But perhaps Democrats and some willing Republicans can work on a compromise legislative solution. Otherwise, the results aren’t likely to be pretty — for the Dreamers or for our country’s future.
PWS
08-15-17

NOLAN RAPPAPORT IN THE HILL: RAISE ACT COULD BE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR DREAMERS!

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/346367-how-trumps-legal-immigration-cuts-could-be-a-blessing-to

Nolan writes:

“Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) recently introduced a revised version of the bill addressing legal immigration into the United States, the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act.  It is supposed to spur economic growth and raise working Americans’ wages by giving priority to the best-skilled immigrants from around the world and reducing overall immigration by half.

Supporters include President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, andActing Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke.

Nevertheless, it will not reach the president’s desk without support from influential Democratic congressmen, which will be difficult to get and won’t be free.
According to Representative Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.), the RAISE Act “and the bear hug by the Bannon/Kelly/Trump White House — betrays the deep animosity towards legal immigration that has become the central, unifying tenet of the Republican Party.”

. . . .

Suggestions for a compromise.

The main price for Gutierrez’s support would be to establish a DREAM Act program that would be based on an appropriate merit-based point system.

The number of undocumented aliens who might benefit from a dream act can range from 2.5 to 3.3 million.  It isn’t likely that an agreement will be reached if Gutierrez insists on a number in that range.

Concessions have to be made to achieve an acceptable compromise, and allowing termination of the Visa Waiver Program would be a reasonable choice.  An alternative would be to keep the program as is but distribute the visas on a merit point system instead of using a lottery.

The refugee provision is problematic, but the president has sole authority to determine the number of admissions and the current president supports the 50,000 cap. The Democrats will try to eliminate this cap or raise it if they can’t eliminate it, but this should not be a deal breaker if the other issues are worked out satisfactorily.

The restrictions on family-based immigration, however, are another matter.  They should be modified.  Cotton and Purdue doomed their bill to failure with these provisions.  They hurt constituents on both sides of the aisle.

Moreover, they do not make any sense.  What does national interest mean if the family-unification needs of citizens and legal permanent residents don’t count?

Some advocates strongly opposes the point system because they think it fails to take into account the needs of U.S. businesses, but their concern is based on the point criterion in the current version of the RAISE Act, which has not been subjected to any hearings or markups yet.  If the senators and Gutierrez cannot work out a compromise that protects the needs of U.S. businesses, there will be plenty of time to make additional changes.

This isn’t just about moving these bills through congress.  According to recent Gallup polls, “Americans view Congress relatively poorly, with job approval ratings of the institution below 30% since October 2009.”

And the current Republican-controlled congress is not turning this around.  Reaching an agreement with the Democrats on an immigration reform bill that includes a DREAM Act legalization program would be a good place to start.”

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Go over to The Hill at the above link to read Nolan’s complete article.

PWS

08-13-17

 

N. RAPPAPORT IN THE HILL: DEMS’ DREAMER BILL OFFERS FALSE HOPE!

Nolan writes:

“Late last month, Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), introduced the American Hope Act, H.R. 3591, with 116 co-sponsors, all Democrats.

The bill would provide conditional permanent resident status for undocumented aliens who were brought to the U.S. before their 18th birthday, which would permit them to live and work here legally for three years and put them on a path to Legal Permanent Resident status and citizenship.

Such bills are referred to as “DREAM Acts,” an acronym for “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act.”

It might be more accurate, however, to call this bill “The False Hope Act.”

Bills to provide lawful status for undocumented aliens who were brought here as children have been pending in Congress since 2001, and we are yet to see one enacted legislatively, rather than by executive action.  And this one was introduced by Democrats in a Republican-controlled Congress.  Moreover, it is out of step with President Donald Trump’s policies on legal immigration.

. . . .

Why hasn’t a DREAM Act bill been enacted?  

No one knows for sure.  I think it is due mainly to the fact that the number of undocumented aliens who would benefit from such legislation could get quite large.  Also, the fact that they are innocent of wrongdoing with respect to being here unlawfully does not make it in our national interest to let them stay.  This is particularly problematic with respect to the American Hope Act.  Section 4 of this bill includes a waiver that applies to some serious criminal exclusion grounds.

Although estimates for the number of undocumented aliens who could be impacted are not available yet for the American Hope Act, they are available for similar bills that were introduced this year, the Recognizing America’s Children Act, H.R. 1468, and the Dream Act of 2017, S. 1615.

The Migration Policy Institute estimates that potentially 2,504,000 aliens would be able to meet the minimum age at arrival and years of residence thresholds for the House bill and 3,338,000 for the Senate bill.  However, some of them would need to complete educational requirements before they could apply.

Trump is supporting a revised version of the RAISE Act which would reduce the annual number of legal immigrants from one million to 500,000 over the next decade.  It does not seem likely therefore that he will be receptive to a program that would make a very substantial increase in the number of legal immigrants.

Not merit-based.

The American Hope Act would treat all immigrant youth who were brought here as children the same, regardless of educational level, military service, or work history.  Gutiérrez said in a press release, “We are not picking good immigrants versus bad immigrants or deserving versus undeserving, we are working to defend those who live among us and should have a place in our society.”

This is inconsistent with the skills-based point system in the revised version of the RAISE Act that Trump is supporting.  It would prioritize immigrants who are most likely to succeed in the United States and expand the economy.  Points would be based on factors such as education, English-language ability, age, and achievements.

Thus, Democrats’ American Hope Act as presently written is very likely to suffer the same fate as the other DREAM Acts.

Success requires a fresh, new approach, and the approach taken by the revised RAISE Act might work by basing eligibility on national interest instead of on a desire to help the immigrants.  Certainly, it would be more likely to get Trump’s support.”

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Read Nolan’s complete article over at The Hill on the above link.

I agree with Nolan insofar as any immigration bill sponsored by
Democrats at present is DOA. On the other hand, I doubt that the RAISE Act will pass either. There aren’t enough votes in the GOP caucus to pass any type of meaningful immigration reform without some help from the Democrats.

So, it doesn’t hurt for the Democrats to start laying down some specific “markers” for some future negotiations on immigration reform. Also, while it might not happen in my liftetime, history suggests that the Democrats are no more permanently “dead” as a party than the GOP was after the first Obama election and Democratic surge into power in the Executive and Legislative Branches.

The last time Democrats were in power, the Latino/Hispanic voters who had helped put them there were treated as largely non-existent. Indeed, the Obama Administration ran the U.S. Immigration Courts largely as if they were an extension of the Bush Administration, giving the advocacy community the cold shoulder, enacting zero reforms, and pitching a “near shutout” on outside appointments to the Immigration Court and the BIA over which they had total control.

The next time Democrats come into power, it would be wise of the groups that will help put them there to insist on the types of specific reforms and improvements that the Democrats are now articulating in “can’t pass” legislative proposals. And, in addition to doing something for Dreamers and other migrants who are contributing to our society, meaningful Immigration Court reform to remove it from Executive Branch control needs to be high on the list. Realistically, that’s probably going to require some bipartisan cooperation, participation, and support.

I also disagree with Nolan’s suggestion that it would not be in the national interest to let “Dreamers” stay. Of course, it would be strongly in our national interest to fully incorporate these fine young folks into our society so that they could achieve their full potential and we could get the full benefit of their talents, skills, and courage.

I had a steady stream of DACA applicants coming through my court in Arlington. Sure, some of them had problems, and DHS did a good job of weeding those folks out and/or revoking status if problems arose. But, the overwhelming majority were fine young people who either already were making significant contributions to our society or who were well positioned to do so in the future. Indeed, they were indistinguishable from their siblings and classsmates who had the good fortune to be born in the U.S., except perhaps that they often had to work a little harder and show a little more drive to overcome some of the inaccurate negative stereotypes about undocumented migrants and some of the disabilities imposed on them.

PWS

08-07-17

TAL KOPAN AT CNN: DACA IN PERIL –“If you’re going to count on Jeff Sessions to save DACA, then DACA is ended!”

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/12/politics/daca-jeopardy-kelly/index.html

Tal Reports:

“Washington (CNN)The DACA program, which protects undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children, could be in serious jeopardy, President Donald Trump’s secretary of Homeland Security told lawmakers Wednesday.

Secretary John Kelly told Democrats of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that while he personally supports the program, he could not commit to the Trump administration defending it, according to members in attendance and Kelly’s spokesman, David Lapan.
Kelly said that legal experts he’s talked to both inside and outside the administration have convinced him that it is unlikely the DACA program, the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive action, would sustain a court challenge.
Kelly said he has discussed DACA with Attorney General Jeff Sessions but wouldn’t describe the contents of those conversations. Sessions is an immigration hard-liner who has been outspoken against the Obama administration policy.
“He did not indicate that they would (defend it). He didn’t say that they wouldn’t, but he didn’t say that they would,” said New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez. “So between that and what he says is the legal analysis he’s heard, it’s not a pretty picture.”
The issue may be forced later this year. There is a pending lawsuit on a related program, deferred action for parents of childhood arrivals, that will come up in September, and attorneys general from 10 states are threatening to add DACA to their complaints, which could force the administration to defend or abandon it.
Kelly suggested to lawmakers they work to pass immigration reform, but lawmakers expressed frustration that Kelly seemed to ignore the difficulty of passing legislation and the Republican opposition to extending DACA. They were also unhappy he seemed unaware there were any bills to make the program permanent, including the bipartisan BRIDGE Act and other proposals including from some Republicans — “to which there was a combination of laughter and appalled shock in the room,” said California Rep. Nanette Barragán.
. . . .
“If you’re going to count on Jeff Sessions to save DACA, then DACA is ended,” Illinois Rep. Luis Gutiérrez said.”
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Read Tal’s complete article at the link.
The Trump Administration probably could garner bipartisan support for some sort of long-term legislative relief for “DACA/Dreamers.” But, so far, they haven’t shown much interest in doing so.
PWS
07-13-17