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.
“Almost half of Americans believe that corruption is pervasive in the White House under President Trump, a sharp increase over last year, according to a new survey. Americans now see Trump and his top officials as the most corrupt public officials in government, despite his campaign pledge to drain the swamp.
A new report out Tuesday compiled by Transparency International, the leading nonprofit organization tracking corruption worldwide, shows Americans have significantly lost faith that their government is ably fighting corruption, compared to last year. Overall, Washington-based government institutions are viewed by Americans are more corrupt than those outside the Beltway, the report found. But the Trump White House tops the list.
According to the group’s 2017 U.S. Corruption Barometer, 44 percent of respondents said that most or all of the officials in the office of the president are corrupt, up from 38 percent at the end of Obama’s second term.
Members of Congress are seen as the second most corrupt group of government officials of the nine categories in the survey, with 38 percent of Americans viewing them as mostly or all corrupt. After that, Americans perceive corruption as pervasive in non-White House government officials, business executives, local officials and business leaders in decreasing proportions. Only 16 percent of respondents viewed judges and magistrates as mostly or all corrupt, according to the data.
Meanwhile, 69 percent of respondents said the U.S. government is fighting corruption “fairly badly” or “very badly,” up from 51 percent in 2016. More than half of respondents said people don’t report corruption due to fear of retaliation.
Transparency International defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.” Key issues within that definition include the influence of wealthy individuals over government, “pay for play” politics, revolving doors between government and corporate entities and the abuse of the financial system by elites.
The perception of Trump and his top officials as being corrupt is easy to understand. Trump and his family have scores of well-documented conflicts of interest they have dealt with in an opaque manner. Meanwhile, Trump’s failure to divest fully from his businesses, combined with his failure to release his tax returns, has fueled suspicions.
The phone survey, performed by the company Efficience3, included interviews of 1,005 randomly selected Americans in October and November. The data were weighted to be demographically representative of all American adults by age, race, gender, urbanization, social grade and ethnicity.
Zoe Reiter, Transparency International’s U.S. representative, said that the study was meant to form a basis for understanding how government is failing to uphold high anti-corruption standards and provide a call to action for Americans to respond. She pointed out that 74 percent of respondents said they believed ordinary people still can make a difference.
“The good news is a majority of Americans feel empowered to fight corruption,” she said. “Since our elected officials are failing to deliver, we need to figure out a way to push them much harder to take these issues more seriously.”
Read the rest of the article at the link.
There is some disconnect here, because some of the folks who now are concerned about corruption voted for Trump and the GOP, despite more than ample public evidence of his endemic dishonesty, congenital lying, incompetence, and general immorality. Garbage in — garbage out!
But, the answer to the problem is still pretty obvious:
Vote Trump and his corrupt cronies out of office;
Dismantle the current version of the GOP, which has become an “aider and abettor” of corruption, greed, immorality, and bad government.
Yes, we could and should have a viable two-party system. But, no major party should include horrible immoral individuals like Donald Trump, “Ayatollah Roy,” Steve King, Stephen Miller, or Steve Bannon whose views are deeply Anti-American and threatening to our continued existence as a nation and to the entire free world!
Ed Kilgore reports for The Daily Intelligencer in NY Maggie:
“Most reactions to McKay Coppins’s vast new profile of Vice-President Mike Pence have focused on an October 2016 incident wherein the then-candidate for veep offered to replace Donald Trump at the top of the ticket in the wake of the Access Hollywood revelations, which for a moment looked likely to bring the mogul down.
But the far more enduring picture Coppins paints is very different: Mike Pence as a man who decided early on in his relationship with Trump that no one could look in the mirror at night and see a browner nose.
In Pence, Trump has found an obedient deputy whose willingness to suffer indignity and humiliation at the pleasure of the president appears boundless. When Trump comes under fire for describing white nationalists as “very fine people,” Pence is there to assure the world that he is actually a man of great decency. When Trump needs someone to fly across the country to an NFL game so he can walk out in protest of national-anthem kneelers, Pence heads for Air Force Two.
This willingness to serve as First Toady was evident in Pence’s initial interview — on a Trump golf course — as a potential running mate:
Pence had called Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump adviser, whom he’d known for years, and asked for her advice on how to handle the meeting. Conway had told him to talk about “stuff outside of politics,” and suggested he show his eagerness to learn from the billionaire. “I knew they would enjoy each other’s company,” Conway told me, adding, “Mike Pence is someone whose faith allows him to subvert his ego to the greater good.”
True to form, Pence spent much of their time on the course kissing Trump’s ring. You’re going to be the next president of the United States, he said. It would be the honor of a lifetime to serve you. Afterward, he made a point of gushing to the press about Trump’s golf game. “He beat me like a drum,” Pence confessed, to Trump’s delight.
This set the pattern for Pence, notwithstanding anything he might have contemplated during the brief but intense hours after the Access Hollywoodrevelations.
What makes Coppins’s take on Pence especially valuable is his understanding that sucking up to Trump was entirely in keeping with the Hoosier governor’s sense that God was working through the unlikely medium of the heathenish demagogue to lift up Pence and his godly agenda to the heights of power. Just as it has been forgotten that the Access Hollywood tapes nearly brought Trump down, it has rarely been understood outside Indiana that Pence was down and possibly out when Trump reached out to him to join his ticket.
The very fact that he is standing behind a lectern bearing the vice-presidential seal is, one could argue, a loaves-and-fishes-level miracle. Just a year earlier, he was an embattled small-state governor with underwater approval ratings, dismal reelection prospects, and a national reputation in tatters.
Pence’s apparent demise, moreover, came after his careful plans to position himself to run for president in 2016 went awry via his clumsy handling of a signature “religious liberty” bill and a fatal underestimation of the resulting backlash from the business community.
All of a sudden, he was lifted from this slough of despond and placed a heartbeat away from total power thanks to his ability to, as Kellyanne Conway put it, “subvert his ego” in the presence of his deliverer, whose own ego has no limits. He clearly has not forgotten this lesson of an ambition fed by self-abasement rather than self-promotion. And according to Coppins, he even has a theological justification for blind loyalty to Trump:
Marc Short, a longtime adviser to Pence and a fellow Christian, told me that the vice president believes strongly in a scriptural concept evangelicals call “servant leadership.” The idea is rooted in the Gospels, where Jesus models humility by washing his disciples’ feet and teaches, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.”
Usually the idea is to be the “slave” of one’s followers and of the less fortunate, not the slave of the billionaire POTUS, but Pence has the “humility” part down pat.
Pence’s presumed reward in this redemption story could, of course, extend beyond the power he exercises as one of the more influential vice-presidents in history, and as Trump’s designated mediator with the Christian right and with those Republican elected officials who aren’t themselves in the great man’s retinue. He would be the obvious successor to Trump in 2024, when he will still be a relatively youthful 65 — whether or not Trump wins a second term in 2020. And in the meantime, as in the panic-stricken hours after the Access Hollywood tapes were released, Republicans will look to Pence as a reassuring and unifying figure whenever Trump’s presidency is endangered, whether it’s by the Mueller investigation or his own erratic conduct.
Pence has indeed come a long way since he was airlifted out of what was probably a losing gubernatorial race to the role of worshipful sidekick to Donald Trump. And he’s earned his actual and potential power via a habit of slavish loyalty that he may consider godly, but others find infernally corrupt if effective.”
I’ve called Pence a sycophant. But, sycophant, toady, you get the picture: spineless, and when you get beyond the disgustingly un-Christian and un-Jesus brand of intolerant religious zealotry that Pence passes off for Christianity (thus giving Christians a “bad name”) you get a guy that no thoughtful American should want for President. Doesn’t, of course, mean that he won’t be President; just that he shouldn’t be.
Now, there is a school of thought around “The Swamp” that “Mikey the Toady” is “going down” along with The Trumpster in “Russiagate,” leaving us with the “Weaselly Badger” Paul Ryan as President. Before you get too excited about that prospect, however, best to read the following article to understand that in addition to being a spineless coward who isn’t as smart as he and his backers think he is, Ryan is a “Joint Venture” (50-50 ownership for you non-corporate types) of the National Rifle Association and the Koch Brothers. Yeah, I know that this is a “fake news” satirical piece by none other than the New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz.Sadly, however, it contains more accuracy than a standard White House press briefing by Sarah Huckabee Sanders (a disturbingly low standard to be sure — where oh where is “Spicey” when we need him?). In the end, he could turn out to be just as damaging to America and the world as Trump and Pence.
“WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a unique accord, the billionaire Koch brothers and the National Rifle Association have reached a timeshare agreement over the ownership of House Speaker Paul Ryan, representatives of both parties have confirmed.
Speaking on behalf of the Kochs, Charles Koch said that he contacted the N.R.A.’s executive director, Wayne LaPierre, with the timeshare proposal “so that we could all get the maximum enjoyment out of owning Paul.”
The arrangement is intended to minimize conflicts between the Kochs and the gun group that have arisen in the past when both co-owners have wanted to use Ryan at the same time, Koch said.
“I said to Wayne, ‘This is craziness,’ ” he said. “ ‘Let’s work something out where you get Paul half the year, and we’ll take him the other half.’ ”
Under the timeshare deal, the Kochs will have the exclusive use of Ryan during the months when tax cuts and environmental deregulation are put to a vote, while the N.R.A. will have him for the months when gun legislation is to be defeated.
Additionally, each co-owner is responsible for insuring that Ryan is well maintained and in good condition when the other’s period of using him commences.
Koch indicated that, if the timeshare agreement is a success, the two parties are likely to work out a similar deal for their longtime joint ownership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.”
So, what’s a self-respecting country to do? The answer is actually pretty obvious. Stop putting Republicans in elective office. No, that won’t cure all the country’s ills; indeed, just repairing the damage already done by this Administration could take decades.
But, at least we’ll have some folks in office who are working for the common good and trying to solve the nation’s and the world’s problems (yes, amazingly, they are interrelated) rather than actively making them worse every day. And, that would be a start!
“Moderate Republican lawmakers push Ryan on DACA solution
By Tal Kopan, CNN
Moderate Republicans in Congress are seeking to lead on a possible solution for young undocumented immigrants, as a group on Tuesday pushed their leadership to reach a deal by the end of the year.
Thirty-four Republicans on Tuesday signed a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan urging him that Congress should act “immediately” on a “permanent legislative solution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients before the end of the year.”
On the Senate side, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake told reporters Monday that he is working with Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin and Michael Bennet along with fellow Republican Sen. Cory Gardner to reach a bipartisan deal on DACA, a program that protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation, which President Donald Trump is ending.
Flake said he spoke with the President last week about the issue and he was headed to the White House again on Tuesday for a meeting with Gardner and other senators and the President on year-end issues.
“I think his instincts on this are right,” Flake said Monday of Trump and past positive statements he’s made about preserving DACA legislatively. “He’s been pulled different directions by others who have an interest either in getting done or blocking it. So I think he’s getting pulled, but I think his instincts on this, I don’t say this about every issue, but I think his instincts on DACA are right.”
The moderate-led efforts come amid the lack of progress since Trump’s September announcement from leadership in reaching a deal and the increasing pressure from Democrats and a flank of the GOP to resolve the issue before Congress recesses for the holidays.
The letter calls for the “urgent matter” to be addressed with a “balanced approach that does not harm valuable sectors of our economy nor the lives of these hard-working young people” — a message to leadership that more conservative proposals pushed by the right flank of the party won’t get their support.
As reported by CNN, the letter was organized by the nascent Main Street Caucus and announced Tuesday by Virginia Rep. Scott Taylor, Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse and California Rep. Jeff Denham.
While the lawmakers said the letter should not be interpreted by a threat to make life difficult for Ryan or not support government funding bills without a DACA solution, 34 Republicans is more than enough to deny Republicans a majority, sending a signal to leadership about the sentiments of moderates.
“Before we take up the end of the year bills, we want Republican leadership to see how many Republicans are willing to put their names on the line,” California Rep. Jeff Denham said in a call with reporters. “We’re trying to show the economies of scale of the amount of members we have.”
“There should be no implied threat that’s perceived in this letter at all, whether we would be holding out a vote,” Newhouse said. “This is an issue that is strong on its own merits and the goal of the letter is to demonstrate to the leadership of our conference that the support is there and the urgency of the issue is real and it should be solved before the end of the year.”
As for why there are only 34 Republicans on the letter, Taylor said there are “numerous” others who would vote for a deal but couldn’t sign the letter publicly for various reasons.
“This is a strong statement, a strong showing of support on people who are willing to publicly put their name out there,” Taylor said.”
As we all know, lot of things are supposed to be happening on the legislative front before the end of the year, including funding the Feds. So, this one is probably still ‘too close to call” for this year.
“PYONGYANG (The Borowitz Report)—Kim Jong Un is concerned that his long-standing plan to destroy the United States has been made totally irrelevant by the Republican tax bill moving through the Senate, a source close to the North Korean dictator said on Friday.
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Kim fears that his scheme to turn the United States into an uninhabitable hellhole has been to a large extent upstaged by a similar proposal from congressional Republicans.
“You have to understand, destroying America is something that Kim and his family have been plotting for decades,” the source said. “To see the Republicans swoop in at the last second and basically steal that idea—it’s got to hurt.”
According to the source, Kim has been watching C-span non-stop, praying that the Republicans’ plan to end life as Americans know it might come undone at the last moment, but he is “not getting his hopes up.”
“After having such a wonderful missile test, he should be on top of the world this week,” the source said. “Instead, he’s afraid that all his hard work has been for nothing. He now understands why so many Americans despise the Republicans.”
Getting harder to tell the difference between satire and reality these days. And, Borowitz probably could have substituted “President Xi,” “President Putin,” or for that matter the “Leader of ISIS” for “Un.”
The point is that weave done this to ourselves. A completely preventable disaster, but not one that will be easily repaired, if ever.
“Economists and tax experts are overwhelmingly skeptical that the bills in the House and Senate can generate meaningful job growth and economic expansion. Many view the legislation not as a product of genuine deliberation, but as a transfer of wealth to corporations and affluent individuals — both generous purveyors of campaign contributions. By 2027, people making $40,000 to $50,000 would pay a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes, while the group earning $1 million or more would get a $5.8 billion cut, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office.
“When you put all these pieces together, what you’re left with is we are squandering a giant sum of money,” said Edward D. Kleinbard, a former chief of staff at the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation who teaches law at the University of Southern California. “It’s not aimed at growth. It is not aimed at the middle class. It is at every turn carefully engineered to deliver a kiss to the donor class.”
In a recent University of Chicago survey of 38 prominent economistsacross the ideological spectrum, only one said the proposed tax cuts would yield substantial economic growth. Unanimously, the economists said the tax cuts would add to the long-term federal debt burden, now estimated at more than $20 trillion.
If the package does have a guiding philosophy, it is a return to trickle-down economics, an enduring story line in which the wealthy are supposed to spend and invest their tax breaks, creating jobs and commercial opportunities for everyone else.
As President Ronald Reagan slashed taxes in the 1980s, he argued that citizens, not bureaucrats, should decide how to spend their money. President George W. Bush bestowed enormous tax cuts on the affluent.
But the trickle-down story has yet to achieve its promised happy ending. Only the beginning reliably transpires, the part where wealthy people get relief. The spoils of resulting economic growth have largely been monopolized by those with the highest incomes. Pay for most American workers has been stagnant since the mid-1970s, after the rising costs of housing, health care and other basics are factored in.
Nonetheless, Republicans are staging a trickle-down revival.
“Either it’s a religious belief, a belief where no amount of evidence would change that, or they are using the argument cynically and they just want more money for themselves,” the economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate, said.
Mr. Stiglitz has long warned of the perils of growing inequality while deriding tax-cutting inclinations. Yet even those who have favored lighter tax burdens are critical of the current proposals.
In the late 1970s, Bruce Bartlett developed what would become the locus of the Reagan tax cuts while working for Representative Jack Kemp, a conservative Republican from New York. Those cuts helped cushion the pain from sharp increases in interest rates by the Federal Reserve, Mr. Bartlett maintains. But Reagan was lowering the highest tax rate on individuals from 70 percent down to 28 percent by 1986.
“What they have here is a big tax cut for the rich paid for with random increases in taxes for various constituencies,” Mr. Bartlett said. “It’s ridiculous. And it’s telling that they are ramming this through without any debate. All of the empirical evidence goes against the tax cut.”
The meat of the package is a permanent lowering of the corporate tax rate, to 20 percent from 35 percent, which business leaders have long wanted. Proponents assert that this would prompt multinational companies to expand operations in the United States.
“We’ve been bleeding corporate headquarters and production for a long time,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and now president of the American Action Forum, a nonprofit that promotes smaller government.
But recent history suggests that when corporations get tax relief, they find abundant uses for money that do not involve paying higher wages. They give dividends to shareholders and stock options to executives. They stash earnings in tax havens.
In 2004, Congress invited American corporations to bring home overseas earnings at a sharply reduced rate, pitching it as a means of bolstering investment. But the corporations spent as much as 90 percent of their windfall buying back their shares, according to Bureau of Economic Analysis research.
If Congress bestows fresh relief on major businesses, signs suggest a similar result. Many companies are enjoying record profits. Those in the Fortune 500 had $2.6 trillion salted away overseas as of last year.
“In our boardroom, the number-one thing we’re talking about is not taxes,” said Jeremy Stoppelman, chief executive of Yelp, the online review platform. “Having a strong middle class out there spending money is what’s most important for our business.”
If the tax bill widens inequality, local communities will likely find themselves with fewer resources to aim at helping struggling people.
In high-tax states like California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — where electorates have historically shown a willingness to finance ample safety-net programs — the measure could change the political calculus. It would magnify the costs to taxpayers, pressuring states to stay lean or risk the wrath of voters.
Some see in this tilt a reworking of basic principles that have prevailed in American life for generations.
. . . .
Since the 1930s, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt created Social Security, unemployment benefits and other pillars of the safety net to combat the Great Depression, crises have been tempered by some measure of government support. Recent decades have brought cuts to social services, but the impact of the current bill could be especially consequential.
“This is a repudiation of the social contract that Franklin Roosevelt announced at the New Deal,” Joseph J. Ellis, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian, said of trimming benefits for lower- and middle-income families to finance bigger rewards for the wealthy. Health coverage would shrink under the Republican plan while multimillion-dollar estates would not have to pay a penny in taxes.
The tax cut package, for instance, could trigger rules mandating cuts to Medicare, the government health care program for seniors, the Congressional Budget Office warned. Some 13 million people could lose health care via the elimination of a key plank of Obamacare. Insurance premiums are also expected to rise by 10 percent.
“This tax bill is a grand deception,” said Arnold Hiatt, the former chief executive of Stride Rite, which makes children’s shoes. “It hurts the most vulnerable, and hurts health care and education, which are essential for a healthy economy.”
The proposals break from seven decades’ worth of federal efforts to broaden access to higher education.
Since World War II, the guiding sense has been that “it is government’s responsibility to provide higher education for all those who can benefit from it,” said David Nasaw, a historian at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. That idea was behind the G.I. Bill, which helped generations of veterans pay for college and training.
The House bill includes provisions that would end the deductibility of tuition waivers for graduate students and repeal the deduction for interest paid on student loans. Both chambers’ bills would tax investment earnings from university endowments.
The endowment tax, in particular, threatens the ability of low-income students to pursue college and graduate studies, said Ron Haskins, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Proceeds from endowments subsidize students from lower-income families, while allowing students across the board to graduate with less debt.
“When the time of reckoning comes to fix huge deficits, social safety-net programs will be first on the chopping block,” Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, said.
“It’s very far-reaching,” he added, “but there hasn’t been much of a debate.”
Read the complete, revealing but disturbing, article at the link. We’re ultimately going to look more like a (at least temporarily) well-to-do “Banana Republic” with the rich on top and in power; everyone else scrambling; lots of excess guns and ammo; and a lower standard of living for average folks to support the privileged power class. And, the GOP has managed to pull all of this off at the ballot box and without any true debate or public accounting, relying on the overall inability of the electorate to figure out that they are being fleeced by their own representatives. Pretty impressive!
“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.
“A Republican lawmaker on Tuesday joined congressional Democrats in saying he won’t support government funding at the end of the year without a resolution for young undocumented immigrants, adding heat to already tense negotiations.
Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo has long been pushing for a permanent version of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Donald Trump has decided to end, but Tuesday was the first time he committed to withhold a vote for funding in search of a deal.
“I’m announcing today that I will not support any appropriations bill that funds the government beyond December 31 unless we get this DACA issue resolved,” Curbelo said at a panel on immigration reform in Florida held by the pro-immigrant business group IMPAC Fund and the University of Miami.
Curbelo had stopped short of the threat just before leaving for Thanksgiving recess. Tuesday’s move puts him in the same camp as a growing number of Democrats, who have said they would not support any funding bill without a solution on DACA, which protects young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation.
. . . .
Curbelo said he has no requirements about what the deal might entail, other than a reasonable compromise, and said he would be supportive of either combining it with spending or a standalone bill, but that it would have to be done by the end of the year.
Republican leadership has been disinclined to combine the two efforts and has pointed to the March deadline set by Trump for permits to begin expiring. Republican senators said after meeting with Trump earlier this month that they had ruled out putting DACA on a funding bill.
“I don’t think it’s going to be resolved in the context of the year-end omnibus, I think it’s going to be handled separately,” Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told CNN in the Capitol on Monday, but he didn’t say whether they could be accomplished at the same time.
“We’re not there yet. We’re still talking,” he said.
Curbelo also said during the event that the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus is near completion on its proposal for a compromise.
“What we’ve essentially done is taken the (Recognizing America’s Children Act, which Curbelo authored) and the Dream Act and married them and then taken some border security components and put them into a bill. That’s almost ready to go,” Curbelo said.
His bill has 35 co-sponsors in the House, all but one of which are Republicans. It has a Senate companion, as well.
Democratic Florida Reps. Frederica Wilson and Ted Deutch were also on the panel and supported Curbelo’s position on funding.”
Read Tal’s complete article at the link.
Stay tuned! I’d say it’s still “too close to call.”
“One thing you can count on in 21st-century U.S. politics is that Republicans will lie about taxes. They did it under George W. Bush, they did it under Barack Obama and they’re still doing it under Donald Trump.
Yet this time is different. It’s not just that the lies have gotten even more brazen. There’s now a combination of incoherence and rage that we, or at least I, haven’t seen before. These days, they can’t even seem to get their fake story straight — and they literally start yelling obscenities when someone tries to point out the facts.
G.O.P. lies about taxes generally involve two issues: who is hurt or helped by tax changes, and what these changes will do to the budget.
Thus, when George W. Bush cut taxes in 2001 and 2003, he and his party repeatedly insisted that the tax cuts were primarily for the middle class. In fact, while there were some middle-class tax breaks in the package, such as an increase in the child tax credit, these were dwarfed by cuts in tax rates on high incomes, reduced taxes on dividends and repeal of the estate tax. Over all, the richest 1 percent saw a much larger increase in after-tax income than middle-class families did.
At the same time, the Bush administration used a series of gimmicks to hide the true fiscal cost of the plan, such as delaying the implementation of some tax cuts while pretending that others would expire when the actual intention was to make them permanent.
When Obama took office, these tricks were simply flipped on their head. Republicans insisted, falsely, that Obama had imposed a “massive tax increase” on the middle class; in fact, for the most part he actually cut middle-class taxes. Meanwhile, they insisted that the surge in the budget deficit caused by the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis was permanent, and ridiculed the Obama administration’s claims that deficits would fall sharply once crisis spending ended and tax receipts recovered; in fact, that’s exactly what happened.
So what’s different this time? As in the Bush years, Republicans are claiming to be offering a middle-class tax cut. But where Bush truly was cutting taxes on the middle class, just much less than he was on the wealthy, current Republican plans would raise those taxes on many lower- and middle-income families, even as they go down for the wealthy. (Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, claims that only “million-dollar earners”would see tax increases. This is the opposite of the truth.
Oh, and a memo to journalists: If you play it safe by reporting this as “Democrats say” that middle-class taxes will go up, you’re misleading your readers: Those estimates come from the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s own nonpartisan scorekeeper.
How can Republicans like Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, pretend to be helping the middle class? It depends crucially on a new kind of budget gimmick: Both the House and Senate tax-cut bills do contain some middle-class tax breaks — but only for the first few years. Then they expire.
Take one of Ryan’s favorite examples, a family with two children and earning $59,000 a year. That family would indeed get a tax break next year. But the break would rapidly dwindle and turn into a tax increase by 2024.
The Republican response is to claim that these tax breaks wouldn’t really expire, that Congress would eventually renew them. That’s quite doubtful — and even if true, it means that the tax plans would add much more to the national debt than the G.O.P. admits. Which brings me to the whole budget deficit issue.
Not long ago, leading Republicans claimed to be deeply concerned about budget deficits. Only fools and centrists took the Republicans seriously. Still, the abrupt shift to nonchalance about adding trillions to the debt in order to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy is causing a bit of whiplash even among cynics. How do they justify the shift?
Well, they don’t seem to have settled on a story. Mnuchin keeps asserting that tax cuts will pay for themselves, going so far as to claim (falsely) that Treasury has released a study showing this. Mick Mulvaney, the budget director, cheerfully acknowledges that they’re using gimmicks to pass a bill that permanently cuts taxes on corporations, and not to worry. Whatever works, it seems.
So we’re really looking at an unprecedented level of dishonesty here. But what happens when you try to explain what’s going on? When Senator Sherrod Brown tried to point out, correctly, that the Senate G.O.P.’s tax bill heavily favors the rich, Senator Orrin Hatch exploded, calling it “bull crap” and asserting that he grew up poor (which is relevant why, exactly?).
Sorry, but this isn’t the righteous anger of a man falsely accused of wrongdoing. It’s the rage con men always exhibit when caught out in their con.
But what’s the con about? The very incoherence of the arguments Republicans are making for their plans shows that it’s not about helping the economy, let alone ordinary families. It really is about making the rich richer, at everyone else’s expense. If this be bull crap, make the most of it.”
As usual, the GOP counts heavily on voters being too biased or gullible to figure out that they are being fleeced. And, to date, they have been correct. So, why stop a “winning strategy” even if it is based on lies, demonstrably bogus assumptions, and other “cons?”
At a recent Center for Immigration Studies panel discussion on the backlog, Judge Larry Burman said, “I cannot give you a merits hearing on my docket unless I take another case off. My docket is full through 2020, and I was instructed by my assistant chief immigration judge not to set any cases past 2020.”
By the end of September 2016, the backlog was up to 516,031 cases. A year later, it had grown to 629,051.
. . . .
If Trump relies on hiring more IJs to deal with the backlog crisis, his enforcement program will be a dismal failure.
His only viable alternative is to reduce the size of the immigration court’s docket, which he can do by promulgating regulations making IJ hearings unavailable to aliens whose cases can be handled in expedited removal proceedings.
He seems to have had this in mind when he directed DHS to use expedited removal proceedings to the full extent authorized by law, which would include most of the undocumented aliens in the United States who were not lawfully admitted, unless they can establish that they have been here for two years.
In expedited removal proceedings, which are conducted by immigration officers, aliens can be deported without IJ hearings unless they have a credible fear of persecution. If they establish a credible fear of persecution, they are entitled to an asylum hearing before an IJ.
But would the courts stop him?”
Go on over to The Hill at the link to read Nolan’s complete article.
Expedited removal is the wrong solution to the Immigration Court backlog!
As I have noted in recent blogs, recent studies show that Immigration Court hearings area already falling substantially short of providing real due process because of lack of available counsel and overuse of immigration detention. Expedited removal would aggravate that problem tenfold.
Expedited removal couldn’t begin to solve the current backlog problems because the vast majority of the estimated 11 million individuals already here have been here for more than two years and can prove it, most from Government records. Indeed, I’d wager that the vast majority of individuals in Removal Proceedings in U.S. Immigration Court have had their cases pending for two or more years.
The problems in Immigration Court were caused by “Aimless Docket Reshuffling”by the last three Administrations emanating from undue political influence from the Department of Justice, DHS, and the White House. Only an independent Immigration Court that places control of the dockets in individual Immigration Judges, where it belongs, can address those problems.
The answer to hiring problems resulting from poor management and political hiring from the DOJ is certainly not to “get rid of” any existing U.S. Immigration Judges. Whether the hiring was done properly or not, there is no reason to believe that any of the currently sitting local U.S. Immigration Judges did anything wrong or participated in the hiring process other than by applying for the jobs. The system needs all the experienced judges it currently has.
The problem of inconsistency will only be solved by having an independent BIA that acts in the manner of an independent appellate court, cracking down on those judges who are not correctly applying legal standards. That’s how all other court systems address consistency issues — through precedent and independent appellate review. Numerous examples have been documented of Immigration Judges in courts like Atlanta, Stewart, and Charlotte, to name three of the most notorious ones, improperly denying asylum claims and mistreating asylum applicants. The BIA has failed to function in a proper, independent manner ever since the “Ashcroft Purge.” The only way to get it doing its job is by creating true judicial independence.
“Haste makes waste” is never the right solution! It’s been done in the past and each time has resulted in increased backlogs and, more importantly, serious lapses in due process.
The docket does need to be trimmed. The Obama Administration was at least starting the process by a more widespread use of prosecutorial discretion or “PD” as in all other major law enforcement prosecutorial offices. Most of the individuals currently in the country without status are assets to the country, who have built up substantial equities, and do not belong in removal proceedings. No system can function with the type of unregulated, irrational, “gonzo” enforcement this Administration is pursuing.
The reasonable solution is to do what is necessary to build a well-functioning system that provides due process efficiently, as it is supposed to do.The elements are reasonable access to lawyers for everyone in proceedings, reducing expensive, wasteful, and fundamentally unfair use of detention, better merit hiring and training procedures for Immigration Judges, modern technology, better use of prosecutorial discretion by the DHS, legislation to grant legal status to law-abiding productive individuals currently present in the US without status, and a truly independent judicial system that can develop in the way judicial systems are supposed to — without political meddling and without more “haste makes waste” schemes like “expedited removal!”
“Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions repeatedly denied Tuesday that he deliberately misled or lied to Congress about the Trump campaign’s multiple contacts with Russia, saying he forgot that two aides told him about their meetings with Russian government officials during the 2016 race.
In an often-contentious House Judiciary Committee hearing, Sessions sparred for more than five hours with Democrats, who faulted him for changing his story each time he has testified under oath before Congress, and some Republicans, who pushed him to appoint a second special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton.
Sessions grew visibly angry at times, insisting again and again that he “always told the truth” as he recalled it, even as he confirmed for the first time that an aide offered to help arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin last March. Sessions said he “pushed back” against the offer.
“In all of my testimony, I can only do my best to answer all of your questions as I understand them and to the best of my memory,” he said.
“But I will not accept, and reject accusations, that I have ever lied,” he added. “That is a lie.”
The nationally-televised hearing was the latest sign of how last year’s bitter presidential campaign has yet to recede. Harsh questions about the Democratic nominee’s alleged misdeeds collided with national security concerns of whether President Trump’s current or former aides helped Russia meddle in an American election — the focus of a special counsel investigation led by former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.
Sessions held firm against Republicans who pressed him to swiftly appoint another special counsel to focus on Clinton. Senior prosecutors at the Justice Department were reviewing the record and it would “be done without political influence,” he said.
After Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) laid out a long list of allegations that he said indicated wrongdoing, Sessions responded sharply. “I would say ‘looks like’ is not enough basis to appoint a special counsel,” he said.
Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the House committee’s top Democrat, said the allegations against Clinton — which chiefly involve her use of a private email server as secretary of State, fundraising for the Clinton Foundation, and an Obama administration decision in 2010 to approve sales of uranium to a Russian company — have been “carefully examined and completely debunked” and said the threat of jailing political opponents after an election is something that would happen in “a banana republic.”
The often testy back-and-forth on Russia largely echoed Sessions’ three previous appearances on Capitol Hill this year, creating more heat than light as lawmakers confronted Sessions with his previous statements and other evidence that contradicted his claims, and the attorney general insisting he did “not recall” dozens of times in response.
“I have been asked to remember details from a year ago, such as who I saw on what day, in what meeting, and who said what when,” he said.
He blamed his faulty memory on the political and organizational maelstrom of Trump’s insurgent presidential campaign. The four-term senator from Alabama joined Trump’s side early on and became his top foreign policy advisor.
“It was a brilliant campaign in many ways,” he said. “But it was a form of chaos every day from Day One. We traveled all the time, sometimes to several places in one day. Sleep was in short supply.”
. . . .
Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) challenged Sessions to explain an FBI report made public in October that said “black identity extremists” were intent on killing law enforcement officers. She said all the groups named were from decades ago, and asked him if any such groups existed today. He said he did not know of any.
He said he was aware of no similar report on white extremist groups, such as the white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville, Va., in August. Later, he said he did not have a senior staff member who is African American, and said Trump has appointed just one African American as a U.S. attorney.
Sessions also declined to defend Roy Moore, the Republican candidate in the special election to decide Sessions’ old Senate seat in Alabama. Moore now faces charges of being a serial predator of teenage girls, with five women coming forward to describe their encounters.
“I have no reason to doubt these young women,” he said of Moore’s accusers, adding that he would consider whether the Justice Department should open an investigation. “We would do our duty,” he said. He said he has followed advice from the department’s ethics lawyers and avoided any involvement in the campaign.”
Read the complete article at the link.
Doesn’t seem that unreasonable to expect a former Senator and a guy who got himself appointed and confirmed to the highest legal job in the country to remember key events that happened less than two years ago.
Sessions should contrast his performance with the way some U.S. Immigration Judges exercising his delegated authority treat memory lapses by barely literate individuals trying to go back into traumatic events that happened a decade or more ago. Would that our U.S. Immigration Courts were all as forgiving of others as Sessions is of himself. Perhaps, he needs to ease up a bit on the “gonzo enforcement” push and act more like a human being. Not a bad idea for someone seeking better and more sympathetic treatment for himself.
“Last week in the Russia investigations: More pressure on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, more details about Russia’s personal outreach to Trump campaign aides and more questions about Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians last year
More questions for Jeff Sessions
The bad news for Attorney General Jeff Sessions: He is due back on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to talk about the Russia imbroglio, this time before the House Judiciary Committee.
The good news for Sessions: He’ll be before the House Judiciary Committee.
The Alternative ‘Russia Scandal’
The Alternative ‘Russia Scandal’
Its chairman, retiring Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., wants to talk Russia all right — about the Russian acquisition of the Canadian mining company Uranium One in 2010, which has become the basis for a parallel narrative of “Russian collusion” that Republicans say is the real scandal here.
House Republicans Launch New Investigations Into Clinton Email Probe, Uranium Deal
House Republicans Launch New Investigations Into Clinton Email Probe, Uranium Deal
Goodlatte and other House committee chairmen have vowed to investigate the role that Hillary Clinton played in that deal — including allegations of graft involving Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation — as well as the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Clinton’s private email server when she was secretary of state.
So the stage could be set for a Benghazi-like dual-track hearing: When Republicans have the floor, they can throw Sessions a lifeline with questions about what they call the venality of the Clintons and the Justice Department under his predecessor. When Democrats are up, they can focus on what critics have called his inconsistent statements about the ties between Trump campaign aides and Russians.
Sessions has said that he wasn’t aware of any contacts between people in the campaign and Russians trying to influence the election. In the past few weeks, however, two former junior foreign policy aides — George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, of whom more anon — have said they told their bosses, including Sessions, about their Russian connections.
Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his dealings with Russians, which included meetings and contacts that involved offers of dirt on Clinton and “off the record” discussions with top Russians. Page told the House Intelligence Committee that he wasn’t aware of any influence campaign, but he did acknowledge many in-person contacts with Russians on his trips to Moscow last year.
Sessions has already recused himself from the DOJ Russia probe because, he said, it would be improper for him to superintend the investigation of a campaign in which he took part. But Democrats say there’s even more to this — Sessions hasn’t been truthful to Congress, they complain, and he owes more answers.”
Read the full report at the link.
Gonzo is a poor excuse for an Attorney General. But, he is pretty good at obscuring and distorting facts and selective memory failure.
Given that the House GOP has less than zero interest in getting to the bottom of the Russian effort to interfere with American Democracy (“hey, as long as it benefits us who cares”), this appearance should be a breeze. Except that Gonzo keeps forgetting that there are other folks out there who can undermine his claims of ignorance. And testifying before Congress under oath presents different issues from spreading false White Nationalist anti-immigrant propaganda during press conferences and in speeches. At some point, if the GOP loses its congressional majority, his testimony and his ever-changing recollections could come back to hunt him.
What would “honest” testimony look like?
“Yes, I was well aware that some individuals associated with the campaign were trying to promote closer cooperation with President Putin and the Russians and to “dig up dirt” on Secretary Clinton. Indeed, I ordered that such contacts should cease and that nobody should ever mention them again because I knew how damaging they could be and that they were of questionable legality. However, one or more of these individuals continued to have a dialogue with the Russians and reported it back to me. I also met with the Russian Ambassador on several occasions and might have discussed campaign issues with him.”
Now, that testimony might have provoked a quite different response than the misleading “no knowledge of any contacts” testimony erroneously provided during the Senate Confirmation Hearings.
“LONG BEACH, Pacific County — Named after a character in a cowboy book, Police Chief Flint Wright describes himself as pretty conservative.
A portrait of Ronald Reagan hangs in his office, along with photos of John Wayne, and his father and grandfather on horses — capturing the rural lifestyle of Pacific County, which curves around Willapa Bay in the state’s southwest corner.
He doesn’t talk about it much, but he voted for Donald Trump, helping Pacific County go with the Republican presidential candidate for the first time in decades. Among other things, he liked Trump’s promise to secure the borders. Economic migrants are not a problem in his mind — he’s seen how hard they work — but he wondered, “who’s coming with them?” Terrorists, he feared.
Then came the July arrest of Mario Rodriguez by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“I was kind of in shock, to be blunt with you,” Wright said.
Rodriguez, whose visa had expired, had lived in the area for more than a dozen years. He had worked in bilingual education and periodically tipped police to trouble spots.
“He was real pro-law enforcement,” the police chief said. “Shoot, anybody would like to have him as a neighbor.”
Trump, on the campaign, had talked about kicking out Mexican “drug dealers, criminals, rapists.” And that’s the kind of immigration crackdown a lot of people here were expecting.
“Yeah, we don’t want that element,” Wright said. But Rodriguez? The police chief couldn’t believe sending him back to Mexico would do anybody any good.
That kind of shock is reverberating throughout the county as Trump’s toughened immigration policy hits home. ICE has arrested at least 28 people in the county this year, according to numbers provided to the Sheriff’s Office.
While that’s just a small share of the roughly 3,100 ICE arrests overseen by its regional office in Seattle — which covers Washington, Oregon and Alaska — it represents a pronounced upward trajectory. Last year, ICE reported eight Pacific County arrests to the sheriff and for a long stretch of years before that, zero.
In a county of small, close-knit communities — Long Beach, population 1,400, is one of the largest — it’s noticed when someone goes missing. The number is magnified by those who have moved, gone into hiding or followed family after a deportation. People have lost neighbors, schools have lost students and businesses have lost employees.
. . . .
Shellfish farmers face many uncertainties, Sheldon explained.
The weather is a big one, periodically disrupting work on the water.
ICE is the new big storm, blowing in periodically to take essential workers.
Boats, working in the seafood industry, travel on Willapa Bay. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)
“One minute they’re here. Another minute they’re not,” Sheldon said. “It’s not like there’s any warning.”
She and other employers say they get required paperwork for every worker — though documents might be fake — and don’t know who is illegally here.
“It’s been a huge impact,” said Kathleen Nisbet-Moncy, vice president of the Willapa-Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association, of ICE’s arrests. Many of the area’s two dozen companies are small businesses. Losing key employees is a big deal. One, she said, lost a worker of 25 years.
And the industry already faced a labor shortage.
Workers need to have an understanding of tides; they carry tide tables like Bibles, arranging their days accordingly. Some operate boats. Others shuck oysters or process fish, not easy when done quickly.
Paid by volume, they sometimes work seven day weeks, or days that take in both early-morning and late-night tides cycles.
“Don’t you want people to work?” Sheldon asked. “Why don’t we say you can’t sell cigarettes to illegal immigrants?”
She was joking. But things didn’t make sense to her.
It was hurting her business. So many people have been arrested or moved that she can no longer fill empty positions. She has had scale back orders and turn away customers.
“Tell him I say hi”
In Long Beach Culbertson Park, as after-school football practice got started, 10-year-old Danner Walters broke into tears.
He was on the sidelines talking about his friend Joel. A week before, Joel left for Mexico with his mom and siblings to rejoin his dad, who had been deported months before.
“We’ve been best friends since kindergarten,” Danner said.
. . . .”
Read the complete, much lengthier, article, at the link.
Too bad folks don’t think through all of the implications before they pull the lever for immoral and irrational candidates like Trump and the GOP restrictionists. Truth is what the restrictionists don’t want you to hear or think about: the vast majority of the allegedly 11 million undocumented individuals here are law-abiding, productive members of the American community, doing jobs that help, rather than hurt, American workers, doing them exceptionally well, and raising or being part of part of “mixed families” with citizens, immigrants, and undocumented individuals all mixed together.
Removing them is a senseless and cruel waste of time and money. The only reasons for doing it have to do with racial and cultural bias — that’s why guys like Trump, Sessions, Bannon, and Miller have to come up with bogus economic and law enforcement rationales in an attempt to “rationalize” basically irrational policies.
Actually, the number of undocumented individuals in the United States is a boon to our country, our economy, and our culture. It shows that we remain a vibrant nation, and that we should have been admitting hundreds of thousands of additional legal immigrants annually. That’s why GOP proposals to restrict legal immigration are so wrong-headed.
Because we failed to do what we should have, the system basically “self corrected” largely by the operation of free market forces, but with some adverse effects like the use of smugglers, the exploitation of the undocumented, and the colossal amount of money wasted by “dumb” immigration enforcement and detention over many Administrations and Congresses.
But, it’s not too late to get it right by legalizing the productive, law-abiding individuals already here and expanding our legal immigration system to realistic levels that are more consistent with our needs as a nation. That will reduce or eliminate the “job magnet” and cut the business for smugglers without vast expenditures of law enforcement funds.
“IN LOWER MANHATTAN on Tuesday, not far from the memorial to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, eight people were killed and 12 injured when a man espousing fidelity to the Islamic State drove a rented pickup down a busy bike path along the Hudson River. “It was gruesome. It was grisly. It was surreal,” one witness said of bicyclists and pedestrians being mowed down. The attack on innocent people enjoying a fine autumn day was a chilling reminder of the persistent threat posed to the United States by Islamist extremists — and their ingenuity in finding ways to commit murder.
Some small comfort can be taken in the fact that in the 16 years since the fall of the twin towers, improvements in protecting the homeland and fighting terrorism abroad have lessened the terrorists’ strength to strike and improved our ability to respond. The quick actions of police and other first responders during Tuesday’s tragedy should be applauded. So must the resilience and strength of the people of New York City, who made clear they will not be cowed by fear.
Far less inspiring — indeed, downright dispiriting — was the reaction of President Trump. In a series of tweets that apparently were informed (a word we use loosely) by his viewing of “Fox & Friends,” Mr. Trump went on a harangue about immigration and attacked Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). On Wednesday, Mr. Trump signaled he might upend the judicial process by declaring the suspected attacker an enemy combatant to be shipped off to the Guantanamo Bay prison; federal terrorism charges filed against him later in the day likely would foreclose that from happening. Note that the White House wouldn’t discuss gun control after last month’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, on the grounds that it would politicize a tragedy, but it had no problem launching partisan attacks following a terrorist strike that ought to unify all Americans. Note also, as The Post’s Philip Bump pointed out, that Mr. Trump is quick to jump to conclusions when there are incidents involving immigrants but is far more circumspect when nonimmigrants are involved.
What’s really needed from the Trump administration is not blame-shifting but a serious attempt to investigate and learn from this latest attack. Were others involved or aware of the alleged plans dating back a year that went into the attack? Are authorities right in their initial assessment that the suspect became “radicalized domestically” while living in the United States? Were signals missed when he appeared on the radar of law enforcement in connection with the investigations of other suspects? The 29-year-old, authorities said, allegedly “followed almost exactly to a T” instructions that the Islamic State has put out on its social-media channels on how to carry out attacks. So what can be done to detect and deter other would-be followers?
Among those killed Tuesday were five Argentines who were part of a group of school friends who traveled to New York to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation. It was their dream trip to a city known for being open and generous and diverse. Those are the traits that make America great; to undermine them in response to Tuesday’s attack only plays into the hands of terrorists.”
Second, the Editorial Board responds to Trump’s attempt to blame Senator Chuck Schumer of New York for the attack:
“PRESIDENT TRUMP, ever prone to seek out scapegoats, fastened on a new target in the wake of the terrorist attack in New York: the state’s senior Democratic senator, along with a 27-year-old visa program that offers applicants from dozens of countries a shot at immigrating to the United States.
Mr. Trump singled out Sen. Charles E. Schumer, who, in 1990, sponsored the diversity visa program, through which the alleged attacker in New York, Sayfullo Saipov, is reported to have immigrated to the United States from his native Uzbekistan. In a tweet, the president derided the program as “a Chuck Schumer beauty.”
Never mind that Mr. Schumer’s legislation establishing the program attracted bipartisan support; or that it was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, a Republican; or even that Mr. Schumer himself unsuccessfully bargained to end the program, in 2013, in return for a bill granting legal residence to millions of undocumented immigrants already in the United States. Neither the facts nor the normal political imperative to avoid partisanship in the wake of a terrorist attack appeared to move Mr. Trump.
His tweet made it appear that his overriding interest in an assault allegedly backed by the Islamic State is to use it to assail immigration — in this instance, a legal program whose beneficiaries represent a speck in the overall number of immigrants. Managed by the State Department since 1995, the program now grants up to 50,000 visas annually, via a random lottery, to citizens of dozens of countries who would otherwise be mostly overlooked in the annual influx of green-card recipients. In recent years, many of the winners have been from Africa and Eastern Europe.
Having reaped political advantage as a candidate in vilifying illegal immigrants, Mr. Trump has set his sights in office on legal migrants, including refugees, from a handful of mostly Muslim countries, whom he’d like Americans to see as an undifferentiated mass of potentially violent interlopers. Gradually, he is chipping away at what was once a national consensus that immigrants are a critical source of vitality, invention and international appeal.
Like almost any immigration program, the diversity visa lottery is imperfect and susceptible to abuse. The fortunate winners, who represent less than 1 percent of those who have applied annually in recent years, are not uniformly equipped to thrive in this country; many lack an education beyond high school. As Mr. Saipov may turn out to prove, even the extensive vetting required of all who immigrate through the program does not provide an ironclad guarantee that it is impervious to applicants who might seek to harm the United States.
The lottery program might be improved. Still, the fact that more than 11 million people applied for it in fiscal 2016 reflects the magnetic appeal the United States continues to exert around the world. Satisfying a small fraction of that demand, through the lottery or some other legal means, is a powerful tool of public diplomacy in countries whose citizens might otherwise have no hope of coming here.”
“Asked about the suspect Wednesday, President Trump called him an “animal.” Prompted to say whether he thought Saipov should be sent to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Trump said, sure, he’d consider it. Later, at Wednesday’s White House press briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said flatly that the White House considered the suspect an “enemy combatant.”
The president also said yesterday that the American justice system (presumably including his own Justice Department) is a “joke” and a “laughingstock.”He further opined, “We also have to come up with punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now,” Trump said. (Terrorists are subject to the death penalty, so it’s unclear what he had in mind.) “They’ll go through court for years … We need quick justice, and we need strong justice,” he said.
Thankfully, the Justice Department, like the Pentagon, has learned when to ignore Trump. On Wednesday, Saipov was charged in federal court.By Thursday morning, Trump was backing off his support for sending Saipov to Guantanamo. Once again, the ignorant president shot from the hip and had to creep back to reality.
Just how harmful were Trump’s statements? It is reprehensible for the president to defame our justice system, which is not a “joke” nor a “laughingstock” but the envy of the world. Moreover, in the terrorist context, it has proved remarkably efficient in trying and convicting terrorists, and then handing out maximum punishments. The surviving Boston Marathon bombing defendant was convicted in just this way and sentenced to death.
. . . .
Based on today’s tweet, we were right to assume that neither Trump nor Sanders had any idea what he/she was talking about (always a good assumption). We will watch with pride as American justice takes its course — and with horror as Trump continues to wreck havoc from the Oval Office.”
Having spent a professional lifetime working on immigration and refugee issues, I can confirm that Trump and his GOP “restrictionist cronies” like Sessions, Miller, and Bannon have managed to transform what used to be “a national consensus that immigrants [and particularly refugees] are a critical source of vitality, invention and international appeal” into a highly partisan and racially-charged attack on the national origins and futures of some of our most productive citizens and residents — those who far more than Trump or his cronies are likely to help us in building a better, safer future for all Americans.
Having worked on all sides of our U.S. Justice System, served as an administrative judge on the trial and appellate levels for more than 21 years, listened to and/or read thousands of accounts of what made people leave their “home countries,” and studied in detail the reasons why some failing countries are “senders” of talented migrants and others, like the U.S., are fortunate enough to be on the “receiving” end, I can say unequivocally that the fairness of our justice systemand the overall honsety and integrity of civil servants in the U.S. Government are the primary differences between the “sending” and “receiving” countries, like ours.
As I have observed before, Trump and his cronies are launching what is basically a “Third-World autocratic attack” on our Constitution and our democratic institutions. If they succeed, the immigration “problem” might eventually be “solved” because nobody will want to come here any more. How many people risked their lives trying to get into the former Soviet Union?
Donald Trump, his cronies, and his enablers are and will remain a much greater threat to our safety and Constitutional institutions than any foreign terrorist could ever be. We ignore his dangerous and fundamentally un-American rants at our own peril!
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Greetings. Preliminary figures based upon case-by-case court records as of the end of September 2017 indicate that the number of DHS issued NTAs (notices to appear) initiating proceedings in Immigration Court is substantially down since President Trump took office. This is surprising since ICE states that its apprehensions were up during this same period.
There were also increasing delays at DHS before NTAs, once issued, were actually filed in Immigration Court. This backlog of un-filed NTAs helped obscure the fall in Trump-initiated cases. Over 75,000 DHS filings in court after January 20, 2017 actually were of deportation cases begun under the Obama administration.
Despite the drop in court filings, and the hiring of 74 additional immigration judges over the past year, the court backlog also increased by 113,020 cases during FY 2017 – most of it since President Trump assumed office. As of the end of September 2017 the Immigration Court backlog has grown to 629,051 cases.
These and other findings are based upon very current case-by-case court records that were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.
In addition, many of TRAC’s free query tools – which track the court’s overall backlog, new DHS filings, court dispositions and much more – have now been updated through September 2017. For an index to the full list of TRAC’s immigration tools go to:
TRAC is self-supporting and depends on foundation grants, individual contributions and subscription fees for the funding needed to obtain, analyze and publish the data we collect on the activities of the U.S. federal government. To help support TRAC’s ongoing efforts, go to:
David Burnham and Susan B. Long, co-directors
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse
Suite 360, Newhouse II
Syracuse, NY 13244-2100
The Trump Administration is good at “obfuscation of data.” Seems like the upcoming appearance of EOIR Acting Director James McHenry before the House Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee on Wednesday, November 1, would be a good time for legislators to start asking some tough questions about how resources are being used (or not) at EOIR and why U.S. Immigration Judges were detailed, at Government expense, to locations where they had insufficient cases to keep busy while leaving jam-packed dockets behind.
They might also be curious as to how EOIR could be requesting a dramatic increase in Immigration Judges when additional positions allocated by Congress several years ago remain unfilled and, according to a recent GAO Report, Immigration Judge hiring has taken an average of two years (yet most of those hired are already on the government payroll and in jobs requiring full background checks).
They also might want to get an accounting for the continuation of the DOJ/EOIR practice of Aimless Docket Reshuffling (“ADR”) which “jacks up” backlogs while denying many due process of law.
Congressional Quarterly reports that Acting EOIR Director James McHenry will testify before the Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chaired by Chairman Raul R. Labrador, R-Idaho, at 2 p.m. in Room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building on Wednesday, Nov. 1. According to CQ, he is expected to address backlogs, hiring, and other issues facing the U.S. Immigration Courts.