FORMER SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD IN THE GUARDIAN: TRUMP’s WHITE SUPREMACISM IS PART OF THE GOP AGENDA!

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/19/republican-party-white-supremacists-charlottesville

Feingold writes:

“It takes approximately 30 seconds to send a tweet. A half hour to draft and release a statement. And the shelf life of both is only marginally longer. We should not commend Republican party elected officials who claim outrage on social media at Trump’s remarks, often without daring to mention his name. The phony claimed outrage becomes dangerous if it convinces anyone that there is a distinction between Trump’s abhorrent comments and the Republican Party agenda.

The lesson from Charlottesville is not how dangerous the neo-Nazis are. It is the unmasking of the Republican party leadership. In the wake of last weekend’s horror and tragedy, let us finally, finally rip off the veneer that Trump’s affinity for white supremacy is distinct from the Republican agenda of voter suppression, renewed mass incarceration and the expulsion of immigrants.

There is a direct link between Trump’s comments this week and those policies, so where is the outrage about the latter? Where are the Republican leaders denouncing voter suppression as racist, un-American and dangerous? Where are the Republican leaders who are willing to call out the wink (and the direct endorsement) from President Trump to the white supremacists and acknowledge their own party’s record and stance on issues important to people of color as the real problem for our country?

Republicans on the voter suppression commission are enabling Trump’s agenda and that of the white Nazi militia
Words mean nothing if the Republican agenda doesn’t change. Governors and state legislatures were so quick to embrace people of color in order to avoid the impression, they too share Trump’s supreme affinity for the white race. But if they don’t stand up for them they are not indirectly, but directly enabling the agenda of those same racists that Republican members were so quick to condemn via Twitter.

Gerrymandering, strict voter ID laws, felon disenfranchisement are all aimed at one outcome: a voting class that is predominantly white, and in turn majority Republican.

 

The white supremacist chant of, “you will not replace us,” could easily and accurately be the slogan for these Republican politicians. Their policies will achieve the same racial outcome as Jim Crow – the disenfranchisement and marginalization of people of color.

It is a sad day when more CEOs take action by leaving and shutting down Trump’s Strategy and Policy Forum, and Manufacturing Council, than elected officials take action leaving Trump’s “election integrity” commission.

Businessman are acting more responsive to their customers than politicians are to their voters. At the end of the day, which presidential council is more dangerous? Which most embodies the exact ideology that Trump spewed on Monday? A group of businessmen coming together to talk jobs or a group of elected officials coming together to disenfranchise voters of color?

Anyone still sitting on the voter suppression commission is enabling Trump’s agenda and that of the white Nazi militia that stormed Charlottesville to celebrate a time when the law enforced white supremacy.

If Republican lawmakers want to distinguish themselves from Trump’s comments, they need to do more than type out 144 characters on their phone. They need to take a hard look at their party’s agenda.”

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Read the full article at the link.

I’ve noticed the clear pattern going back to the beginning of the campaign: Trump says or does something totally outrageous; GOP leaders disassociate themselves and claim it doesn’t represent the “real” GOP (whatever that might be); shortly thereafter the same folks go back to supporting Trump and the GOP agenda directed at insuring White control. Nobody switches party, resigns in protest, or tells voters how incompetent and dangerous Trump is. Indeed, these guys are scared silly that they will actually turn off Trump’s White Nationalist base that insures them power even though it’s been many years since they racked up a majority of the popular vote in a national election. Trump then goes on to the next outrage, and the process repeats itself.

Someday, the majority of American voters might actually get a Government that represents their interests rather than those of a White Nationalist minority. But, not any time soon if the GOP can prevent it. So far, they are doing a bang up job of it.

PWS

08-19-17

 

 

 

 

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

 

FROM THE “CHASE ARCHIVES:” 24 Years Ago, Jeffrey Chase Stood Up For The Rights Of Asylum Seekers, Due Process, And American Values — H.R. 391 Is A Mindless Recycling Of The Same Horrible Ideas That Chase Opposed Then — Have We Learned Nothing In The Interim?

https://www.jeffreyschase.com/blog/2017/8/3/from-the-archives-my-wall-st-journal-op-ed-sept-9-1993

Jeffrey wrote;

“Last week, the House marked-up H.R. 391, the “Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act of 2017.”  The bill would create significant obstacles for asylum seekers, and increase the risk to unaccompanied children fleeing harm.  Provisions of the bill caused me to think of an op-ed I had written 24 years ago, which was published in The Wall Street Journal.  A different bill, a different President, but many of the same arguments apply.  So many years later, I still become emotional when I remember, as we stepped out of the airport terminal, the little girl excitedly crying out in Farsi: “Maman, azad shodim, azad shodim!” (“Mommy, we’re free, we’re free!)

 

 

‘Mommy, We’re Free!’ — In Defense of Asylum Rights

By Jeffrey S. Chase

 

Five years ago I met Goli (not her real name), a three-year-old Iranian girl detained by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.  Goli’s parents were political opponents of the Ayatollah Khomeini’s government.  Her father was missing in Iran, either killed or imprisoned.  Goli and her mother were forced to seek refuge in, of all places, Iraq.  They had spent the last two years in a camp there.  Goli was small for her age and sickly; she needed surgery unavailable to her in Iraq.  She had never had a real home, or even her own doll.

When Iraq’s war with Iran ended, Goli and her mother were expelled by Saddam Hussein.  They could not return to Iran, where the war’s end was celebrated with the arrests of hundreds of members of the mother’s opposition party.  With little money and nowhere else to go, the mother paid a smuggler to get her and her child to the U.S. with a false passport.  There, they would apply for asylum.  A relative of her husband’s, a physician living in Michigan, would help them settle and arrange for Goli’s much needed medical care.

Goli and her mother were detained on arrival at Kennedy Airport by the INS.  They were immediately scheduled for a hearing before an immigration judge; I was their attorney.  When we met, Goli had a high fever.  A doctor had prescribed antibiotics, but the security guards had not found time to purchase them.  A week later, when she had taken the antibiotics that I insisted be provided, she felt better, and a friendlier captor played with the girl, using her handcuffs as a makeshift toy.

Thanks to the rights afforded by our current asylum laws, Goli and her mother were released after a few weeks to live with their relatives in Michigan.  When her mother carried Goli outdoors for the first time, she cried, “Mommy, we’re free!”

Representing asylum seekers entails much work and aggravation with little or no pay.  The reward is a happy ending.  I have known nearly 100 others like Goli and her mother who have found refuge here in the U.S., away from the terror and chaos reigning in their home countries.  But recently, President Clinton announced legislation, sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D., Mass.), that would end such happy endings.  Reacting to a “crisis” that doesn’t exist, he has decided to show his political toughness by going after the world’s most vulnerable group, refugees.

Under the president’s bill, asylum seekers arriving here without proper documents will have no right to a lawyer, or a hearing, or an appeal.  The bill ignores the fact that many refugees are forced to escape their homelands without valid papers because there is no time to obtain them or because applying for and carrying the proper documents is too dangerous.

There are other troubling provisions.  According to the new bill, if refugees escaping certain death at home try fleeing to the U.S. aboard a plane that stops in Germany, for example, they would immediately be deported to Germany–even if they never stepped off the plane there.  This provision is similar to one in many Western European nations, whereby refugees are expected to apply for asylum in the first “safe” country they reach.  But sending refugees back to a country where they were “last present” is no guarantee that they will not be deported to their nation of origin.

As an immigration attorney, I’ve heard hundreds of asylum claims: in my office and in detention centers, in courts and airport terminals.  Asylum seekers are not terrorists; they are people like Goli and her mother.  Nor are they statistics; they are flesh and blood.  This phrase takes on added meaning when the flesh is marked with bullet wounds, cigarette burns and other remnants of torture.

I can still see the Afghan teenager, much of whose face was blown off by a Soviet land mine.  I still hear the Muslim man from Bosnia, who wept as he told me how Serbian troops stopped the United Nations bus he rode.  He was spared only when the would-be executioners discovered that the bus was leaving the country, thus assisting them in their “ethnic cleansing.”  After finally escaping Bosnia, he stopped briefly in another country en route to the U.S.  The Clinton legislation would deport him, and similarly the Liberian boy I met who told me how he survived a massacre by a rival clan by lying still among the corpses until the attackers left.

Even some who are sympathetic to such cases may feel that the U.S. cannot accept all of the world’s refugees.  We don’t.  There are 17 million refugees in the world.  Of the 300 million aliens the INS inspected last year at ports of entry, only 15,000 applied for asylum.  This means that 0.005% of the people who sought admission to the U.S. were asylum applicants.  Ironically, such exemplars of human rights as Iran and Pakistan accept far more.  Contrary to media reports, we have not “lost control of our borders” to “teeming hordes” of asylum seekers.  While some individuals abuse the system, their number is too small to justify all the ills assigned to them by nativist organizations.

Under the proposed legislation, if refugees somehow managed to reach the U.S. directly, they would have to present their cases on the spot at the airport to a junior level INS official.  The asylum seeker would have no right to compile evidence supporting their requests for asylum, call witnesses, or even consult a lawyer.  If this legislation becomes law, a person fighting a parking ticket would have more rights in our country than a Muslim fleeing certain death in Bosnia.

The answer to the asylum question is not to turn away genuine refugees.  Administrative improvements to preserve legal protections for refugees are urgently needed.  More asylum officers and faster and fairer processing of asylum cases would eliminate any instances of abuse.  They would also make possible more happy endings for the world’s future Golis.

 

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H.R. 391 is simply appalling in its false premises and its ignorance about what really happens in the U.S. asylum system.  And, make no mistake about it — even without the “gonzo” proposals contained in H.R. 391, we are knowingly and intentionally sending plenty of innocent folks back to countries in the Northern Triangle to be preyed upon by gangs, corrupt governments, or both, too many without receiving even the trappings of real due process.  Why not fix the due process problems in the current asylum system, rather than trying to further diminish the already limited rights of asylum seekers? For a fraction of the money Trump & Co. propose to waste on unneeded additional enforcement agents and an idiotic border wall, the asylum system could be fixed to run smoothly, efficiently, and fairly!
PWS
08-03-17

MORE DC AREA FAMILIES & COMMUNITIES TRASHED BY TRUMP’S ARBITRARY IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT POLICIES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/a-soccer-star-from-gaithersburg-won-a-college-scholarship-but-ice-plans-to-deport-him/2017/07/31/07ef1ff8-764b-11e7-8839-ec48ec4cae25_story.html?utm_term=.4783f45f9347&wpisrc=nl_buzz&wpmm=1

Rachel Chason reports for the Washington Post:

“Foster McCune will play Division I soccer at Georgetown University this fall. Matt and Ben Di Rosa, twins from the District’s Chevy Chase neighborhood, will play for the University of Maryland.

On Monday night, they stood with other members of their elite Bethesda Soccer Club outside Department of Homeland Security headquarters in Northwest Washington, protesting the arrest and pending deportation of a beloved teammate: Lizandro Claros Saravia.

Claros Saravia, 19, who had a scholarship to play college soccer in North Carolina, was detained along with his older brother, Diego, in Baltimore on Friday following one of their regular check-ins with immigration officials.

Lizandro Claros Saravia ( Courtesy of Bethesda Soccer Club )

They entered the United States illegally in 2009, fleeing violence in their native El Salvador. Lizandro Claros Saravia graduated from Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg this past spring and was planning to attend the two-year Louisburg College in North Carolina on a soccer scholarship this fall.

“He’s one of the hardest-working people on our team,” Matt Di Rosa said at the protest, which drew about 50 people, including family, teammates and immigration advocates. “He has a bright future, and that’s something he actively sought.”

Diego Claros Saravia, 22, graduated from high school a few years ago and works in a car repair shop.

Neither brother has a criminal record, said Nick Katz, senior manager of legal services at the immigration advocacy organization CASA de Maryland, who is representing the pair.

They would not have been priorities for deportation under the Obama administration, according to a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But President Trump’s administration has made clear that any undocumented immigrant is vulnerable to deportation, and there has been a steady increase in the number of people detained after otherwise routine check-ins, advocates say.

Play Video 2:42
Trump said he would deport millions. Now ICE is in the spotlight.
The White House has said they are focused on deporting undocumented immigrants who “pose a threat to this country,” but advocates say undocumented immigrants without criminal records are being detained by ICE. (Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

The brothers, who were detained by immigration officers when they arrived in the United States, were issued final removal orders by an immigration judge in November 2012, but were released pursuant to an order of supervision, ICE spokesman Matthew Bourke said.

They were both granted a stay of removal in 2013. But their two subsequent applications for stays were denied. Since 2016, Bourke said, ICE deportation officers have instructed the brothers to purchase tickets for departure.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Katz said. “These are the kids who we want to stay.”

Fatima Claros Saravia, 25, cried as she held up a sign she had made for her brothers. “Stop separating families,” she wrote under photos of Lizandro playing soccer. “Let my brothers live their American dream.”

“They wanted to study and to work,” she said. “We are heartbroken — this is not fair, and it is not right.”

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Read the full story at the link.

This is an example of the type of “order” and “rationality” that Gen. John Kelly brought to DHS. That’s why I’m not as sanguine as some that he will bring any sense of order and decency to the gonzo crew in the West Wing.

“Dumb, divisive, and cruel” enforcement by DHS is likely to be the norm unless and until the majority of U.S. voters who don’t believe that this is the best use of taxpayer dollars rise up and put more responsible politicians in office.

PWS

08-01-17

 

THE GUARDIAN: HUMAN TRAFFICKERS LOVE TRUMP & “GONZO APOCALYPTO” SESSIONS — HERE’S WHY! –Trump’s crackdown “a gift to human traffickers!”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/28/trump-immigration-immigrant-deaths-people-smuggling

Tom Dart reports from Houston:

“Donald Trump’s immigration policies are likely to encourage migrants to risk more dangerous routes into the US, like the journey which this week ended with the death of ten people in a sweltering truck, border security experts have warned.

Dozens of people from Mexico and Central America were found packed into a non-air-conditioned cargo container in a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio at about 12.30am last Sunday.

The deaths are thought to have been caused by heat exposure, dehydration and suffocation. About 30 people were hospitalised.

Days later, at least four people – including two children – drowned trying to cross the swollen Rio Grande near El Paso.

As part of its campaign to crackdown on undocumented migration, the Trump administration wants to force so-called “sanctuary cities” to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, beef up frontier security and surveillance, and – eventually – build a wall along the border with Mexico.

But Alonzo Peña, a former deputy director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice), said simplistic strategies would not deter people desperate to join family or seek a better life. Instead, closing off simpler routes would prompt migrants to attempt more dangerous crossings.

“I call it an unfortunate collateral consequence,” he said. “They will put themselves in the hands of unscrupulous criminals that see them as just a commodity.”

Asked if a wall would help, Peña, now a consultant in San Antonio, said: “Absolutely not – it probably will contribute to more tragedies.”

He said building better binational relationships, encouraging information-sharing and more use of informants were key to breaking up networks of smugglers and traffickers.

In recent years, stepped-up frontier security has meant that smuggling activities once orchestrated by small, loosely organised enterprises are being run by bigger, more ruthless and profit-oriented criminal gangs with indirect links to drug cartels.

Packing many people into a truck is a profitable strategy for such smugglers. A large vehicle is a better hiding place than smaller alternatives and reduces the number of trips, making evading detection more likely at busy interior US Border Patrol checkpoints placed along highways near the frontier.

“The policies to enforce the border have the unintended consequence of strengthening transnational smuggling networks and the connection of business with transnational criminal organisations. There’s money there,” said Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, an associate professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley who studies migration and trafficking. “You are increasing the incentives for corruption on both sides of the border.”

. . . .

Texas this year passed a law banning so-called sanctuary cities – places that offer little or no cooperation with federal immigration agents. “Border security will help prevent this Texas tragedy,” John Cornyn, a US senator from Texas, wrote on Twitter.

But critics say that such enforcement does nothing to remove the “push factors” behind migration from Mexico and Central America, such as the lack of economic opportunity and violence by street gangs, security forces and crime groups.

A report published in March by the risk analysts Verisk Maplecroft termed Trump’s crackdown “a gift to human traffickers” by driving undocumented workers in the US deeper into the shadows, while a wall “would increase criminal trafficking fees, leaving migrants more deeply mired in debt and vulnerable to exploitation”.

But even this week’s deaths would not curtail demand, Correa-Cabrera said.

“They will still take trucks. They have been taking the journey and nothing has stopped them,” she said. “How many women are willing to take the journey even though they know there is a very high possibility of being raped?”

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Folks are going to keep coming and keep dying until we make the needed, realistic changes to our legal immigration system. The smugglers will up their profits and expand their operations, making and taking more money than ever from already stressed individuals seeking to come. And the bodies will continue to pile up as a testament to the failed White Nationalist agenda of Trump and Sessions.

What “gonzo enforcement” has done, however, is to cut or eliminate the incentive for folks to use the legal system by coming to the border and presenting themselves for protection or by turning themselves in to the Border Patrol. Knowing that their rights under the law and as human beings will not be respected by the likes of Trump, Sessions, and Kelly’s replacement will merely put more individuals at the mercy of the smugglers. The smugglers are likely to get so good that we won’t have the faintest idea anymore how many forks are coming without documents until they wind up dead in a parking lot or a field. And, I suppose that CBP will come up with some formula like “for every dead body we figure there are 1,000 who made it into the interior.”

PWS

07-28-17

FLASH: AILA WITHDRAWS SUPPORT FOR MORE U.S. IMMIGRATION JUDGES & EOIR FUNDING! — UNDER TRUMP/SESSIONS REGIME “increased judges will not necessarily promote due process and fairness for those appearing in proceedings!”

“From: Greg Chen [mailto:GChen@aila.org]
Sent: Wednesday, July 05, 2017 10:06 AM
To: AILA Interior Enforcement List
Cc: AILA Interior Enforcement List; Kate Voigt; Laura Lynch; Kerri Talbot
Subject: [interiorenforcement] AILA shifted position on IJ funding – CJS approps

Everyone,

AILA’s board just voted to change our position on the funding of immigration judges: in brief, AILA will no longer be supporting increased funding for IJs.  The change in position was motivated by two principal concerns: 1) additional funding for judges will enable this administration to deport more people more rapidly; and 2) increased judges will not necessarily promote due process and fairness for those appearing in proceedings, esp under the current administration.

We will convey this to key friends on the Hill, but we haven’t decided how actively we plan to push this.

Here’s what the House FY18 CJS bill includes, according to the summary posted by House approps:

Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) – Funding for the EOIR is increased by $64.5 million, for a total of $505 million. This increase will provide for 65 additional immigration judge teams to process immigration reviews more quickly, and reduce the backlog of pending cases.

Gregory Z. Chen, Esq.
Director of Government Relations
Direct: 202-507-7615 I Cell: 202.716-5818 I Email: gchen@aila.org American Immigration Lawyers Association
Main: 202.507.7600 I Fax: 202.783.7853 I www.aila.org<http://www.aila.org/>
1331 G Street, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005″

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I can understand the sentiment that brought this about. I’m not sure, however, that this isn’t an exercise in “kicking the cat.” The real problem here is lack of independence and the highly inappropriate, facially unethical, role of the DOJ, which Congress created, allowed to fester, and failed to date to fix. And the type of misguided GOP agenda behind an atrocity like H.R. 391 also doesn’t help.

Interesting that the last several Administrations have mismanaged the Immigration Courts to the point where they appear to be doing exactly the opposite of their single mission: guaranteeing fairness and due process for all!

With this particular Congress and Administration, AILA’s change in position probably won’t mean much. Only White Nationalist and restrictionist groups seem to have any influence.

Sadly, years of hard-won progress in establishing due process in the Immigration Court system have now been squandered. EOIR and the Immigration Courts have returned to the mess that they were before EOIR was created.

Bad time to be seeking justice in America! Thanks to my former Georgetown Law Refugee Law & Policy student Shaw Drake for sending me this item!

PWS

07-27-17

 

 

 

GOP ATTACK ON DUE PROCESS: HOUSE GOP ADVANCES BILL TO EVISCERATE U.S. ASYLUM SYSTEM — WOULD RETURN CHILDREN, WOMEN & FAMILIES TO LIFE THREATENING SITUATIONS WITHOUT DUE PROCESS! — STOP H.R. 391!

http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/press-release/house-bill-would-return-persecuted-refugees-danger

Human Rights First reports:

HOME / PRESS RELEASE / HOUSE BILL WOULD RETURN PERSECUTED REFUGEES TO DANGER
July 26, 2017
House Bill Would Return Persecuted Refugees to Danger

 

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Immigration Detention, Refugee Protection
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today urged members of the House Judiciary Committee to reject the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act when it marks up the legislation today. The bill would severely undermine access to protection for genuine refugees.

“The proposed legislation does nothing to enhance the integrity of our asylum system, but instead puts individuals, particularly women and children, at grave risk of return to persecution, trafficking, and death in their home or third countries,” said Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer. “Instead, this bill is a disgraceful attempt to evade U.S. refugee protection responsibilities and foist them on to other countries. Not only would this effort undermine U.S. global leadership, but it would set a poor example for the countries hosting the vast majority of the world’s refugees. The bill would make it even more difficult for refugees to receive asylum in our already rigorous asylum system and leave vulnerable children, families, and other individuals at risk of severe harm or death.”

The bill seeks to make it harder for those fleeing persecution and torture to file for asylum in the United States, a process already fraught with obstacles. Several groups of particularly vulnerable individuals—including children, women, and LGBTQ asylum seekers—would be disproportionately impacted by certain provisions, which essentially eliminate protection for refugees who have been victims of crimes in their home countries. The bill attempts to eliminate the statutory basis for release on parole, which would leave asylum seekers detained in violation of U.S. treaty obligations, and held in jails and facilities with conditions similar to jails despite the existence of more cost-effective and humane alternative measures that result in compliance and appearance at hearings. The bill also seeks to ban federal government-funded counsel, including for unaccompanied children, some of whom are toddlers or even younger.

Human Rights First, along with 73 other rights and immigration groups, sent a letter to members of the committee today urging them to reject the legislation. Among many changes to law, the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act of 2017 would:

Raise the expedited removal screening standard to an unduly high level. The bill would require that an asylum seeker—in order to even be allowed to apply for asylum—not only show a “significant possibility of establishing eligibility for asylum” but also prove it is more likely than not that his or her statements are true—the standard for a full adjudication, not a summary screening interview.
Appear to prevent arriving asylum seekers who have passed the credible fear screening process from being paroled from immigration detention, instead leaving them in jails and jail-like facilities for months or longer, even though there are more fiscally-prudent and humane alternatives that have been proven effective.
Deny asylum to large numbers of refugees based on transit or stays in countries where they had no legal status, or no lasting legal status, and to which they cannot be returned in most cases. This provision would seek to deny asylum to many refugees who have passed through Mexico, despite the risks and severe protection deficiencies there. In addition, refugees—who may have languished in a refugee camp for decades without the ability to legally work, access education or secure legal permanency—with valid claims would be left in a state of uncertainty, with no prospects for a durable solution and no secure future for themselves and their children.
Allow asylum applicants and unaccompanied children to be bounced to third countries (such as Mexico) despite the dangers and lack of protection from return to persecution there, and in the absence of any agreement between the United States and the countries in question for the reception of asylum seekers.
Categorically deny asylum and withholding of removal to refugees targeted for criminal harm—including rape and killing—based on their membership in a particular social group in their countries of origin. This extraordinarily broad provision would deny protection to asylum seekers who have been beaten for being gay, who have suffered horrific domestic abuse, or who have been treated as property by virtue of their status as women, to name but a few examples. It would also effectively eliminate asylum eligibility or withholding of removal for asylum seekers who have been victims of or who fear persecution related to gang violence in their home country.
State that the government not bear expense for counsel. The bill also states that in no instance will the federal government bear expense for counsel for anyone in removal or appellate proceedings. Children – including toddlers – the mentally disabled, and other vulnerable people cannot represent themselves in our complex immigration system.
Last week Human Rights First released a new report assessing the dangers facing refugees in Mexico in the wake of proposals from the Trump Administration and Congress to block refugees passing through Mexico from seeking protection in the United States. The analysis, “Dangerous Territory: Mexico Still Not Safe for Refugees” finds that migrants and refugees in Mexico face risks of kidnapping, disappearance, sexual assault, and trafficking, and that Mexican authorities routinely deport individuals to their home countries regardless of whether they fear return to persecution and the country’s human rights obligations.

Human Rights First notes that when Congress—with strong bipartisan support—passed the Refugee Act of 1980, the United States codified its commitment to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its Protocol. Under those treaties, states can’t return refugees to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened or reject potential refugees at the border. The United States is also a party to the Convention Against Torture, which prohibits governments from sending people to places where they would be in danger of being tortured, and to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which prohibits the arbitrary detention of asylum seekers and migrants. Instead of turning away those seeking protection, the United States should be doing more to ensure their protection claims are properly assessed and due process is safeguarded.

“At a time when the world faces the largest refugee crisis in history, this bill sends a dangerous message to other nations, including those who host the overwhelming majority refugees: that the United States intends to shirk its responsibility to those fleeing violence and persecution,” added Acer.

For more information or to speak with Acer, contact Corinne Duffy at 202-370-3319 or DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org.

PRESS CONTACT

Corinne Duffy
202-370-3319
Email Corinne
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Eleanor Acer
Senior Director, Refugee Protection
RELATED PRESS RELEASES

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I also highly recommend this “spot on” analysis by David Bier of the Cato Institute of this warped and misguided attempt by GOP restrictionists in the House to destroy Due Process in the U.S. Asylum system without in any way addressing the real issues — conditions in foreign countries and our outdated and unuduy restrictive legal immigration system.

I Bier writes:

NOTE: The charts and formatting are much better if you go to,the link than on the reprinted version below.

https://www.cato.org/publications/public-comments/statement-hr-391-asylum-reform-border-protection-act

Statement for the Record of David Bier of the Cato Institute* Submitted to House Committee on the Judiciary Markup of “H.R. 391 – Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act” July 26, 2017

The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act (H.R. 391) would undermine the individual rights of people fleeing persecution and violence to seek asylum in the United States. The bill would obliterate the current asylum standards and now require asylum seekers to prove their claims to an impossible degree immediately upon their arrival at the border—without access to the documents or witnesses that they would need to do so. The government would then promptly deport without a hearing before an immigration judge those who fail this unattainable requirement, possibly to endure violence or persecution. The authors claim that this radical change is necessary due to an unprecedented surge of asylum applicants. In the 1990s, however, a similar surge of asylum seekers arrived in the United States, and Congress adopted much less severe reforms than those proposed in this bill. Even assuming that the applicants are submitting asylum applications for the sole purpose of gaining entrance to the United States, the bill does nothing to address the underlying cause of the problem: the lack of a legal alternative to migrate. As long as legal immigration remains impossible for lesser- skilled workers and their family members, unauthorized immigration of various kinds will continue to present a challenge. Asylum rule change will result in denials of legitimate claims Current law requires that asylum seekers at the border assert a “credible fear” of persecution.1 Asylum officers determine credibility based on whether there is a “significant possibility” that, if they allow the person to apply, an immigration judge would find that the fear is “well-founded,” a higher standard of proof. The credible fear interview screens out only the claims that obviously have “no possibility, or only a minimal or mere possibility, of success,” as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) puts it.2 If the USCIS asylum officer rejects the claim as not credible, the applicant may ask an immigration judge to review the determination the next day but is not granted a full hearing. Customs and Border Protection removes those who fail to assert or fail to articulate a credible fear. H.R. 391 would impose a much higher standard simply to apply for asylum in the United States. In addition to demonstrating that they had significant possibility of successfully proving their claim to an immigration judge, it would require applicants to prove that it is “more probable than

* The Cato Institute is a libertarian 501(c)(3) nonprofit think tank founded in 1977 and located in Washington D.C.

not” that their claims are true—a preponderance of the evidence standard.3 This standard eviscerates the lower bar that Congress established. The committee simply cannot expect that asylum seekers who may have had to sneak out of their country of origin in the dead of night or swim across rivers to escape persecution will have sufficient evidence the moment they arrive in the United States to meet this burden. In 2016, a group of Syrian Christians who traveled thousands of miles across multiple continents and then up through Mexico to get to the United States arrived at the border to apply for asylum.4 Thankfully, they met the credible fear standard and were not deported, which enabled them to hire an attorney to help them lay out their claim, but this new standard could endanger anyone who follows their path. An inability to provide sufficient evidence of their religion, nationality, residence, or fear would result in deportation immediately after presenting themselves at the border. The authors imply that requiring them to prove their statements are true is not the same as requiring them to prove their entire asylum case, but this is a distinction without a difference.5 Asylum applicants must state a “credible fear” of persecution. Those statements would then be subject to the much more stringent standard. Of course the government should demand the truth from all applicants, but this is a question of the standard by which asylum officers should use to weed truth from falsehood. It is virtually impossible that, by words alone, asylum seekers could prove that it is “more probable than not” that their statements are true. The committee should consider this fact: in 2016, immigration judges reversed nearly 30 percent of all denials of credible fear that came to them on appeal.6 This means that even under the current law, asylum officers make errors that would reject people with credible claims of persecution. If Congress requires an even greater burden, many more such errors will occur, but faced with the higher evidentiary requirement, immigration judges will have little choice but to ratify them. Here is another sign that the truth is not enough: asylum applicants with attorneys were half as likely to have their asylum denied by immigration judges in 2016 as those without attorneys. Indeed, 90 percent of all applicants without counsel lose their case, while a majority with counsel win theirs.7 This demonstrates that people need more than just honesty—they also need to understand what evidence is relevant to their case and need help to gather documents, witnesses, and other evidence to support their claim. For these reasons, Congress never intended the credible fear interview as a rigorous adversarial process because it wanted to give people who could credibly articulate a fear of persecution an opportunity to apply. It knew that while some people without legitimate claims would be able to apply, the lower standard of proof would protect vulnerable people from exclusion. As Senator Alan Simpson, the sponsor of the 1996 bill that created the credible fear process, “it is a significantly lesser fear standard than we use for any other provision.”8 Indeed, during the debate over the compromise version of the bill, proponents of the legislation touted that the fact that they had dropped “the more probable than not” language in the original version.9

Asylum surge is not unprecedented People can either apply for asylum “affirmatively” to USCIS on their own or they can apply “defensively” after they come into the custody of the U.S. government somehow, such as at the border or airport, to an immigration judge, which would include the credible fear process. If USCIS denies an “affirmative” applicant who is in the country illegally, the government places them in removal proceedings before an immigration judge where they can present their claim again. Reviewing the data on asylum claims, two facts become clear: total asylum claims peaked in the 1990s, and a substantial majority of claims are affirmative—that is, done voluntarily, not through the credible fear process or through removal proceedings. Although credible fear claims—a process that was first created in 1997—have increased dramatically, the overall number of asylum claims has still not reached the highs of the early 1990s. Unfortunately, the immigration courts have not published the number of cases that they received before 1996, but as Figure 1 shows, the United States has experienced similar surges of asylum seekers to 2016.10

Figure 1 Asylum Applications Received and Credible Fear Claims Approved, 1985-2016 160,000 140,000 120,000 100,000 80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000 0 USCIS Asylum Cases Immigration Judge Asylum Cases Credible Fear Approvals Sources: Department of Justice; Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services It is noteworthy that in the midst of the surge in the 1990s, Congress did not adopt the draconian approach that this bill would require. Rather, it created the credible fear process that the bill would essentially eliminate. The authors of the legislation, however, argue that the Obama administration turned the credible fear process into a rubber stamp, allowing applicants to enter regardless of the credibility of their claims. But again a look at the numbers undermines this 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

It is noteworthy that in the midst of the surge in the 1990s, Congress did not adopt the draconian approach that this bill would require. Rather, it created the credible fear process that the bill would essentially eliminate. The authors of the legislation, however, argue that the Obama administration turned the credible fear process into a rubber stamp, allowing applicants to enter regardless of the credibility of their claims. But again a look at the numbers undermines this

narrative. As Figure 2 highlights, the Obama administration denied an average of about 25 percent of all asylum seekers from 2009 to 2016.11

Figure 2 Credible Fear of Persecution Claims, FY 1997 to 2017 120,000 100,000 80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000 0 Completed Cases (left) Approval Share (Rate) Sources: Rempell (1997-2008); USCIS (2009-2016)

Despite fluctuations of up to 35 percentage points during this time, there is simply no relationship at all between the rate of approval and the number of claims being made. Factors other than the approval rate must be driving the number of applications. Some of these claims are undoubtedly invalid or even fraudulent, but given that a majority of claims by individuals with representation in immigration court win their asylum claims, it is obvious that the credible fear process has protected many people from deportation to persecution abroad.12 If fraudulent claims are a concern, Congress can best address it in the same way that it has successfully addressed other aspects of illegal immigration from Mexico: through an expansion of legal immigration. During the 1950s and again recently in the 2000s, Congress expanded the availability of low-skilled guest worker visas, which led to a great reduction in the rate of illegal immigration. Figure 3 presents the number of guest workers entering each year and the number of people each border agent apprehended each year—the best available measure of illegal immigration. It shows that the period of high illegal immigration occurred almost exclusively during the period of restrictive immigration.13 Most guest workers today are Mexicans.14 This is largely due to the fact that the current guest worker programs are limited to seasonal temporary jobs and Mexico is closer to the United

States, which makes trips to and from the United States easier. By comparison, most asylum seekers are from Central America. Assuming that a significant portion of these asylum seekers are either reuniting with illegal residents already in the United States or are seeking illegal residence themselves, these seasonal programs are unavailable to them.

Figure 3 Guest Worker Entries and Apprehensions of Illegal Aliens per Border Patrol Agent, 1946-2015 1,200 500,000 1,000 800 600 400 200 400,000 300,000 200,000 100,000 00 Apprehensions Per Agent (left) Guest Workers (Right) Sources: Border Patrol; Immigration and Naturalization Service; Department of Homeland Security 1946 1948 1950 1952 1954 1956 1958 1960 1962 1964 1966 1968 1970 1972 1974 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014

Congress should create a temporary work visa program for low-skilled workers in year-round jobs, similar to the H-1B visa for high-skilled workers.15 This would cut down on asylum fraud and illegal immigration without the downsides that this bill presents.

1 8 U.S. Code § 1225 2 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Lesson Plan Overview – Credible Fear,” February 28, 2014, http://cmsny.org/wp-content/uploads/credible-fear-of-persecution-and-torture.pdf. 3 P. 2 Justia, “Evidentiary Standards and Burdens of Proof,” https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/evidentiary-standards- burdens-proof/ 4 Molly Hennessy-Fiske, “Who were the Syrians who showed up at the Texas border? Some are Christians,” Los Angeles Times, December 7, 2015, http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-syrian-texas-christians-20151207- story.html 5 “Markup of H.R. 1153, The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act,” House Judiciary Committee, March 4, 2015, https://judiciary.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/03.04.15-Markup-Transcript.pdf. 6 U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review, “FY 2016 Statistics Yearbook,” March 2017, https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/fysb16/download. 7 TracImmigration, “Continued Rise in Asylum Denial Rates,” Syracuse University, December 13, 2016, http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/448/. 8 142 Cong. Rec. S4492 (1996) https://www.congress.gov/crec/1996/05/01/CREC-1996-05-01-pt1-PgS4457.pdf 9 142 Cong. Rec. H11081 (1996) https://www.congress.gov/crec/1996/09/25/CREC-1996-09-25-pt1-PgH11071- 2.pdfhttps://www.congress.gov/crec/1996/09/25/CREC-1996-09-25-pt1-PgH11071-2.pdf 10 U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review, “Statistics Yearbook,” https://www.justice.gov/eoir/statistical-year-book Department of Homeland Security, “Yearbook of Immigration Statistics 2004,” https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Yearbook_Immigration_Statistics_2004.pdf U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Asylum Division Quarterly Stakeholder Meeting,” https://search.uscis.gov/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&affiliate=uscis_gov&query=Asylum+Division+Quarterly+Stak eholder+Meeting&commit= 11 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Asylum Division, “Credible Fear Data,” https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Outreach/PED- Credible_Fear_Workload_Report_Summary_POE_and_Inland_Caseload_through_2015-09.pdf https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Outreach/Upcoming%20National%20Engagements/PED_CredibleF earReasonableFearStatisticsNationalityReport.pdf https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Outreach/PED- Credible_Fear_Workload_Report_Summary_POE_and_Inland_Caseload_through_2015-09.pdf https://www.chapman.edu/law/_files/publications/clr-18-rempell.pdf https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Outreach/PED- _Credible_Fear_and_Reasonable_Fear_Statistics_and_Nationality_Report.pdf 12 http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/448/ 13 Alex Nowrasteh, “Guest Worker Visas Can Halt Illegal Immigration,” Cato Institute, May 5, 2014, https://www.cato.org/blog/guest-worker-visas-can-halt-illegal-immigration. 14 Alex Nowrasteh, “H-2B Expansion Doubles Down on Successful Border Control Strategy,” Cato Institute, December 23, 2015, https://www.cato.org/blog/h-2b-expansion-doubles-down-successful-border-control-strategy. 15 Alex Nowrasteh, “How to Make Guest Worker Visas Work,” Cato Institute Policy Analysis 719, January 31, 2013, https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/how-make-guest-worker-visas-work.

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Bier’s report notes that U.S. Immigration Judges overruled approximately 30% of credible fear denials by the DHS Asylum Office. Although I did a modest number of credible/fear reasonable fear reviews, including some in temporary assignments to “detained courts” on the Southern Border, I found the number of erroneous credible/reasonable fear denials to be in the 80% to 90% range, including a number of cases that were “clear grants” under Fourth Circuit case law. The idea that Border Patrol Officer could fairly make these determinations is beyond preposterous!

Chairman Goodlatte and his GOP buddies seek nothing less than the end of a fair asylum adjudication system that fulfills our international mandates. H.R. 391 also makes a mockery of due process. In other words, the Goodlatte GOP crowd seeks to turn the U.S. into a “Third World” imitation of a democracy. These types of legislative tactics are exactly what I saw for 21 years of adjuducating claims from countries where the rule of law had broken down.

Whether immigration/refugee advocates or not, every American Citizen who cares about our Constitution and the rule of law should be fighting measures like this tooth and nail. If Goodlatte & Co. win, we all lose, and America will be well on its way to becoming just another third world facade of a democratic republic.

Rather than the totally bogus restrictionist agenda being pushed by Goodlatte and the GOP, here’s what REALLY should concern us as a nation, taken from one of my recent speeches:

“Our Government is going to remove those who lose their cases to countries where some of them undoubtedly will suffer extortion, rape, torture, forced induction into gangs, and even death. Before we return individuals to such possible fates, it is critical that they have a chance to be fully and fairly heard on their claims for protection and that they fully understand and have explained to them the reasons why our country is unwilling and unable to protect them. Neither of those things is going to happen without effective representation.

We should always keep in mind that contrary to the false impression given by some pundits and immigration “hard liners,” losing an asylum case means neither that the person is committing fraud nor that he or she does not have a legitimate fear of return. In most cases, it merely means that the dangers the person will face upon return do not fall within our somewhat convoluted asylum system. And, as a country, we have chosen not to exercise our discretion to grant temporary shelter to such individuals through Temporary Protected Status, Deferred Enforced Departure, or prosecutorial discretion (“PD”). In other words, we are returning them knowing that the effect might well be life threatening or even fatal in many cases.”

Picking on the already vulnerable, disposed, and endangered is what the Goodlatte/GOP restrictionist program is really about.

PWS

07-27-17

Steven Pearlstein In WonkBlog In The WashPost: When It Comes To Governing, The GOP Is NQRFPT — By A Long Shot! — The President & Party Of Irresponsibility Can’t Duck Responsibility For The Mess THEY Have Created!

NQRFPT = Not Quite Ready For Prime Time 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/07/20/pearlstein-on-gop-health-care-debacle/?utm_term=.d51013b98429

Pearlstein writes:

“The inability of a Republican Congress and a Republican president to repeal Obamacare, or even just dial it back, is yet the latest demonstration that Republicans simply aren’t ready to govern.

The facile explanation for this is the unresolved division, within the party, between its radical tea party populist wing and its more moderate, business-friendly establishment wing. But the bigger issue is that the party’s elected politicians are unwilling to make the trade-offs that are the essence of what governing is about.

On health care, for example, they promised to lower premiums but refused to embrace any of the three approaches that could accomplish that: increase co-payments and deductibles; squeeze the incomes of doctors, hospitals and drug companies; or finance more of the country’s health care through higher taxes.

. . . .

As a group, they have demonstrated a breathtaking lack of policy knowledge and sophistication, a stubborn disregard for intellectual honesty, lousy political instincts and a broken moral compass. Their leaders have forgotten what it means to lead, if they ever knew, while their backbenchers don’t have a clue of what it takes to be constructive followers. If there were a bankruptcy code for politics, it’s safe to say the Republicans would be in Chapter 11.

This complete abdication of governing responsibility was confirmed Tuesday when the party’s nominal leader, President Trump, announced to the country, “I think we are probably in that position where we will just let Obamacare fail. … I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it.”

Even Sen. Shelly Caputo, the reliably party-line toting Republican from West Virginia, was moved to distance herself from that cynical win-at-any-cost strategy. “I did not come to Washington to hurt people,” she said.

“It’s almost an embarrassment being an American citizen traveling around the world … listening to the stupid s‑‑‑ we have to deal with in this country,” Jamie Dimon, the chairman of JPMorgan Chase, said in an unguarded moment last week. Dimon was quick to add, reflexively, that it wasn’t a Republican or a Democratic issue, but he knows better than that. Republicans were handed a golden opportunity to govern and they have blown it. This one is on them.”

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At the link, read Pearlstein’s complete op-ed which contains many great examples of how the GOP fails to “do the right thing” over and over. And, he only touches on the “gonzoness,” moral vapidness, and complete disregard for sound government and prudent expenditure of public funds demonstrated by Trump’s immigration policies.

PWS

07-21-17

 

GOP’S WAR ON OUR GOVERNMENT CONTINUES — FEDS’ COMPENSATION, RETIREMENT PROGRAMS TARGETED! — GOP WOULD SOCK IT TO MIDDLE CLASS TO GIVE UNNEEDED TAX CUTS TO RICH CRONIES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/07/18/gop-again-hits-federal-retirement-in-latest-budget-plan/?utm_term=.4446f1d6d7d6&wpisrc=nl_buzz&wpmm=1

Joe Davidson & Eric Yoder report in the Washington Post:

“The House budget proposal released Tuesday continues Republican efforts to cut federal employees’ compensation by making them pay more for retirement benefits.

Saying they seek “reforms to civil service pensions to put them on a better fiscal path,” the spending plan released by the House Budget Committee calls on staffers “to make greater contributions to their own defined benefit retirement plans.”

While the Republican’s “Plan for Fiscal Responsibility” did not provide details, it echoes previous proposals, including one offered by President Trump this year. He proposed increasing individual out-of-pocket payments toward retirement by 1 percentage point each year until they equal the government’s contribution for those in the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).

Over a six-year period, this would result in increased payments of about 6 percent. With no increase in benefits, that would equal a 6 percent drop in pay.

The budget “blueprint” assumes that the main panel overseeing federal employment in the House will take those steps to find the $32 billion in savings over 10 years that the blueprint would require.

The budget plan released by Committee Chairwoman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) also would end the “special retirement supplement,” which pays FERS employees “the equivalent of their Social Security benefit at an earlier age.”

“These plans put the ownership, flexibility, and portfolio risk on the employee as opposed to the employer,” the GOP document says. “Similarly, federal employees would have more control over their own retirement security under this option.”

Federal employee leaders sharply disagree.

“Slashing the pay and benefits of America’s civil servants while lining the pockets of the wealthiest of the wealthy is a shameful way to govern the country and is emblematic of everything that’s wrong with this horrible budget,” said J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees.”

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Read the complete article with charts at the above link.

These guys are shameless. The USG’s career civil service was once a “model program” that states, private employers, and even other countries sought to emulate. It produced an overall talented, motivated, honest, and effective workforce. And, the promise of an adequate, stable, and predictable retirement program underwritten by Uncle Sam was an important part of that success.

The GOP proposes to end all of that and turn the USG into just another lousy employer more interested in his or her own welfare than the well-being of the employees who are the heart and soul of the business. Shifting risk from the “big guys” like the Government, who can actually leverage investment and insurance markets and raise revenues when necessary, to individual employees who are much less well positioned to bear that risk is immoral, not to mention stupid. You get what you pay for. Reducing government employment to the lowest common denominator will essentially make us a third world country.

I dealt with this in Immigration Court all the time. The main difference between the U.S. and countries folks were fleeing (many of which had plenty of natural and human resources) was the lack of government structure and the inability or unwillingness of government to be an “honest broker” serving the needs of the people at large. In too many countries, corrupt governments are seen as primarily furthering the power and interests of those at the “top of the pile” and keeping everyone else in line.

We once had a President who sought to create a U.S. Government of “the best and the brightest.” Sadly, those days are long gone. Ultimately, all of us, and particularly those who come after us, will pay the price for the GOP’s endemic lack of vision and decency and their failure to honor and appreciate the massive contributions of career civil servants to to overall success of our nation.

PWS

07-18-17

 

BREAKING: Senate GOP Implodes On Healthcare — Trump Reaches New Heights Of Incompetence & Irresponsibility By Tweeting Call For Complete Repeal Without A Plan For Replacement!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-health-care-bill-response_us_596d719ee4b010d7767345ff?s69&ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Nick Visser reports for HuffPost:

“President Donald Trump called on congressional Republicans to craft an outright repeal of Obamacare late Monday, an hour after the GOP’s controversial Senate health care bill appeared dead once again after losing two more Republican votes.

“Republicans should just REPEAL failing Obamacare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate,” the president tweeted, adding that “Dems will join in!”

The “clean repeal” option is unpopular in both parties, and it’s unclear how much support the president’s proposal will garner in Congress. It would take 60 votes in the Senate for an outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and Republicans only hold a 52-seat majority.

Trump’s response came after Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) announced Monday evening that they planned to vote no on a “motion to proceed” for the Senate’s legislation ― a step needed to begin debate on the bill.”

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Duh, after being treated with total disrespect and contempt by the President and the GOP for 6 months, why is it that Democrats would suddenly jump at the chance to pull the Administration’s chestnuts out of the fire?

On the other hand, a nuanced “fix” of Obamacare probably would have had enough votes to pass both Houses with bipartisan support from all or most Democrats and enough Republicans. But, that wouldn’t have allowed the GOP and Trump to have claimed “victory” on an Obamacare repeal. Talk about a President and a party who have long ago abandoned the best interests of America!

And, just think about all the time and taxpayer money the GOP has wasted over the past few years passing boneheaded, cosmetic “Obamacare repeals.” Obviously, the folks who voted for such nonsense were posturing rather than legislating.

PWS

07-18-17

House Appropriations Adds 65 New U.S. Immigration Judge Positions!

According to Congressional Quarterly, on July 14, 2017, the House Appropriations committee voted to add 65 new U.S. Immigration Judge positions to the DOJ’s FY 2018 spending bill.

PWS

07-16-17

CNN’S TAL KOPAN: Congress “Stonewalls” Trump’s Wall!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/02/politics/border-wall-white-house-push/index.html

Tal reports:

“Washington (CNN)Building a border wall remains a stated top priority for President Donald Trump, but thus far he has precious little to show for it.

That’s largely because when Congress appropriated money earlier this year to fund the government, opposition from Democrats and some Republicans alike left the administration empty handed in terms of funding any new construction.
Trump’s Department of Homeland Security did get permission to reassign $20 million to fund prototypes for wall construction as well as new money for technology, maintenance and hiring for Border Patrol.
But the biggest thing Trump wants remains the biggest thing Democrats want to deny him — the ability to point at a structure and say: Here is the wall.
Multiple sources familiar with negotiations for both the fiscal year 2017 budget and 2018 cycle say that the White House did mobilize behind the wall — putting it in their proposed budget and having representatives like Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly stump for it.
But Democrats from the outset threatened that inclusion of wall money would be a deal breaker on the budget, which needs Democratic votes to pass, meaning the White House risked a government shutdown standoff on the President’s 100th day in office if it forged ahead.
Ultimately, the White House accepted a budget deal that did not include the wall.
“Their priorities were made known, obviously,” said a House GOP aide, who requested anonymity to speak freely. But, the aide added, there was also an awareness that a second chance at money would be coming up this fall.
“I didn’t get the impression that they were deeply disappointed or unhappy,” the aide said of the White House. “I think they realized the situation and will continue to work toward to getting more money.”
Negotiations are well underway for the next chance, in the budget for fiscal year 2018.
But it’s an open question whether the administration will push Congress harder on getting money for the wall after caving on the signature campaign pledge this spring. The dynamics of the situation haven’t changed to give the White House any more leverage.
Already, Democrats have again signaled that a wall is a no-go. In a letter this week to their Republican counterparts, the top Senate Democrats in leadership and the Appropriations committee laid out their red lines.
“We are once again concerned with the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 request for a very expensive, ineffective new wall along the southern border with Mexico,” the Democrats wrote.
And other barriers in Congress remain. Border state lawmakers of both parties are largely against a massive wall in their districts, preferring technology and smart infrastructure. Even without Democratic support, it’s unclear if Republicans have the votes among themselves to move forward with a wall.”
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Read Tal’s entire article at the above link.
We arrived in Washington, D.C. in the “Watergate Summer” of 1973. “Stonewall” was one of the great adjectives used during Watergate to describe efforts by the Nixon Administration to undermine and resist the various Watergate investigations. It remains vibrant and relevant 44 summers later!
Gee, I thought that Mexico was going to pay for “The Wall.”
PWS
07-02-17

HOUSE PASSES MORE UNNEEDED, DIVISIVE, ANTI-IMMIGRANT LEGISLATION!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/29/politics/kates-law-house-vote/index.html

Tal Kopan reports for CNN:

“Washington (CNN) The House Thursday is expected to pass bills that would hand President Donald Trump key pieces of his immigration agenda, especially efforts targeting sanctuary cities.

The bills, “Kate’s Law” and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, would install harsher penalties for repeat illegal entry to the US, and expand US law on sanctuary cities to pressure localities to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.
But it’s unlikely either would have enough votes to pass the Senate, which struggled with Kate’s Law last year.

Immigration and civil liberties advocates have also come out swinging against the bills, saying they bolster a “deportation force” and anti-immigrant agenda from the Trump administration.
Both bills come from the Judiciary Committee led by Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a longtime proponent of strict immigration policies like Trump’s and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Another lead sponsor is Iowa Rep. Steve King, one of the most aggressive Republicans on immigration enforcement who has a history of controversial statements about immigrants.”

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Read Tal’s complete article at the link.

Looking at the folks pushing this ill-advised piece of legislation tells you about all you need to know about what’s really underneath the surface.

PWS

06-29-17

TAKE 5 MINUTES TO LOOK INSIDE THE “AMERICAN GULAG” OF CIVIL IMMIGRATION DETENTION BEING PROMOTED BY TRUMP, SESSIONS, KELLY & THE HOUSE GOP!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HeV1QSrEdo#action=share

Published on Jun 26, 2017

Learn about the history, laws, and unjust realities of the U.S. immigration detention system in this short 5-minute film. Narrated by Kristina Shull. Graphics and editing by Stephanie Busing. Script by Terry Ding and Rachel Levenson at NYU’s Immigrant Rights Clinic in collaboration with CIVIC. Learn more and at www.endisolation.org.

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Talk about fraud, waste, abuse, and corruption. And, amazingly, House Republicans are pushing for yet more mandatory detention, this time for those convicted of DUIs who have already completed punishment and are now subject to case-by-case determinations by U.S. Immigration Judges as to whether or not bond should be granted.

As an Immigration Judge, I denied bond in lots of cases with multiple DUIs, probably a substantial majority. But, each case was different, and there were some where the violations were well in the past, the individual had documented freedom from alcohol or substance abuse, and had strong U.S. equities, where bond was appropriate.

And since all cases depend on facts and proof, it’s important for the Judge to listen and be empowered to make the best decision for society and the individual under all the circumstances. “One size fits all” mandatory detention is an abuse of legislative authority and a waste of taxpayer money.

While to date it has not been found unconstitutional, I daresay that’s because the Supreme Court Justices who decide such matters have never had to experience the extreme dysfunction and inherent unfairness of the current immigration detention system on a daily basis like those of us who have served as trial judges. For that matter, they don’t completely understand the total dysfunction of our current Immigration Courts, and the systemic inability to deliver due process on a consistent basis throughout the nation. 600,000 pending cases! That dwarfs the rest of the Federal Judicial system.

Perhaps what it will take to change the system is for some of the Justices to have their son-in-law, daughter-in-law, or law clerk’s spouse more or less arbitrarily tossed into the world of immigration detention. Yes, folks, it’s not just recent border crossers, dishwashers, waitresses, and gardeners who end up in the “American Gulag” that so delights Jeff Sessions. “Professionals,” kids, pregnant women, and human beings from all walks of life, many with only minor violations or no criminal record at all, can end up there too.

PWS

06-28-17

“TRUMP(Hell no, we don’t)CARE” Likely Would Destroy Health Insurance Market, According To Experts — Trump GOP’s “War On America & Americans” Shifts Into High Gear!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/06/23/republicans-say-the-health-insurance-market-is-in-a-death-spiral-their-bill-could-make-it-really-happen/?hpid=hp_regional-hp-cards_rhp-card-business%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.e61d8234b1ca

Kim Soffen writes in the Wonkblog columns in the Washington Post:

“Senate Republican leaders unveiled their health-care bill Thursday morning, after weeks of crafting it behind closed doors. The bill keeps some popular parts of the Affordable Care Act, such as the provision preventing insurance companies from charging people more or denying them coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and eliminates some unpopular parts, such as the individual mandate which requires people to buy insurance or pay a penalty.

[What the Senate bill changes about Obamacare]

But those two provisions, taken together, are likely to send the individual marketplace into a “death spiral,” ending with only the sickest people insured, sky-high premiums, and insurers exiting the individual market, according to experts across the political spectrum. The bill has a $112 billion market stabilization fund to prevent this, but experts doubt it, or a similar measure in the House bill, would be enough.

Here’s how a death spiral would happen. People shopping for insurance in the individual market all sit on a spectrum from healthy to sick.”

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Lots of “neat” graphics with the full article. Clink the link and see the GOP’s plan to “deconstruct” American healthcare in action.

Sobering thought: Millions of Americans voted to destroy their own healthcare and endanger their own lives and those of family members who can’t vote. Unfortunately, their lack of prudence and sound judgment is likely to take the rest of us into the abyss with them. The “silver lining:” Guys like the Koch Bros, Tom Price, Wilber Ross, et. al. will pay lower taxes. (I didn’t include Trump in this list because there is no hard evidence that he currently pays, or ever again will pay,  income taxes.)

PWS

06-24-17