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.
“Gang of Six senators furiously trying to nail down support for immigration bill
By: Tal Kopan, CNN
As votes for government funding look perilous in Congress, bipartisan senators behind an immigration deal are furiously working behind the scenes to build support for their bill, hoping it could be in play to avert a shutdown.
The group, an offshoot of the so-called Gang of Six, is “practically sprinting” to get the bill officially introduced, one congressional aide said, and are working to add as many Republican supporters as possible. When the bill was unveiled on Wednesday night, it had picked up four Republicans in addition to the three that worked to develop it.
If all 49 Democrats support the bill, only four more Republicans would be needed to clear the 60 votes required to advance legislation in the Senate.
Even though the bill has already been rejected by the President and Republican leadership, the calculus is that with a standoff on government funding, Republicans will be pressed on why they walked away from a bipartisan deal with votes to pass it when the shutdown blame game begins.
Illinois Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin, one of the lead authors of the bill, met on Thursday morning with the House Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers who have sought a centrist deal on DACA as well, his office said. Building House support could answer White House chief of staff John Kelly’s criticism that the bill didn’t have support from both sides of Capitol Hill when it was brought to the President last week.
Democrats’ negotiating position got stronger on Thursday when Republican South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds, who has backed the bipartisan immigration bill, announced he would not vote for a weeks-long short-term funding extension, saying good governance requires a long-term solution instead of short-term fixes.
Rounds joined the bill’s other lead author, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, in his opposition. With other Republican fiscal hawks traditionally opposed to short-term continuing resolutions, the pressure is lifted off vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election to vote for a funding deal that even a handful of Republicans aren’t supporting.
The bill would offer a pathway to citizenship for eligible young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, allocate nearly $3 billion to a border wall and technology, limit sponsorship of family members by recipients of the program and reallocate diversity lottery visas to other immigration programs.
Advocates are optimistic that the tide has turned in Democrats’ favor in recent days. They argue that the President’s rejection of the bipartisan bill — just days after he was televised telling lawmakers to bring him a deal and he would sign it — combined with the news of Trump referring to certain countries in a disparaging way has only empowered Democrats to stand up.
“In the last 24 hours we’ve sensed a real shift from Republicans not believing Democrats are going to be resolute, to, ‘Oh my god, Democrats are resolute and Republicans are joining in and we won’t be able to pass the CR without negotiation,'” said Frank Sharry, a longtime immigration advocate with America’s Voice Education Fund.”
I encourage everyone to go on over to CNN and check out Tal’s many other reports on the DACA process. Tal is so prolific, I just can’t keep up with her, sometimes! But, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t!
Notwithstanding Nolan’s skepticism about the “Gang of Six” effort, these Senators still think they can get something done and sell it to enough of their colleagues to make a difference! Time will tell! Stay tuned!
Yet no matter how Flake describes the proposal, it is not a good faith attempt to find common ground with either the majority of congressional Republicans or the president.
Five of the six senators in the Gang of Six were also in 2013’s the Gang of Eight, which showed the same disregard for majority Republican positions when they moved the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, S. 744, through the Senate.
S. 744 was bipartisan too, but it was opposed by 70 percent of the Senate Republicans. Among other things, it would have established a large legalization program without assurance that the aliens being legalized would not be replaced in 10 years by a new group of undocumented aliens.
This has been the sine qua non for Republican cooperation with a legalization program since the failed implementation of the enforcement provisions in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, (IRCA), which legalized 2.7 million aliens.
One of IRCA’s major objectives was to wipe the slate clean and start over with an effective enforcement program. But IRCA’s enforcement measures were not implemented, and by October 1996, the undocumented alien population had almost doubled.
. . . .
Trump wants a physical wall. Virtual walls rely primarily on surveillance technology, which just notifies the border patrol when aliens are making an illegal crossing. They will be in the United States before they can be apprehended, and Trump’s enforcement program suffers already from an immigration court backlog crisis.
A physical wall makes illegal crossings more difficult. While some grown men can climb over a large wall, children can’t, and the dangers involved in climbing over such a wall should deter parents from bringing their children here illegally.
If the Democrats really want to help the DACA participants, they will let Trump have his wall.”
There apparently are enough Democratic and GOP votes to pass the “Gang of Six” compromise. Why be held hostage by GOP legislators who, while perhaps they are a majority of the GOP, are a minority of the total legislature and actually represent a minority position among Americans? Some days Trump says he’ll sign anything Congress passes; other days he doesn’t. So, give him the bill and see what happens. Seems unlikely that he will veto his own budget.
On the other hand, at this point, I’d be willing to give Trump his Wall (but not an end to “chain migration” or permanent cuts in permanent immigration) if that’s what it takes to save the Dreamers. Unlike Nolan, however, my experience tells me that “The Wall” will ultimately be an expensive failure. Whatever the technical difficulties with past “Virtual Walls” might have been, I have to believe that technology, which tends to improve over time, not physical barriers are the wave of the future.
And the real solution to individuals coming here without documents is a more robust and realistic legal immigration program that meets market demands for additional labor and also satisfies our humanitarian obligations.
Most of the current adult so-called “undocumented” residents of the U.S. are gainfully employed in ways that actually help and support the U.S. They are a huge net “plus.” So, why would we want to go to great lengths in a futile attempt to keep folks like them from coming in to help us in the future? Doesn’t make any sense! That’s why we’re in the current situation — unrealistic laws.
The real solution is more legal immigration which would insure that those coming get properly screened and don’t have to use the services of smugglers. Then, immigration enforcement could concentrate on those seeking to come outside the system.
Leaving aside refugees, why would folks come if the job market actually gets to the point where it is saturated and can no longer expand? For the most part, they wouldn’t. But, of course, that wouldn’t satisfy the GOP White Nationalist restrictionists who are operating from a racial rather than a realistic perspective.
I knew that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, when she appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, would deny that Trump said what the whole world knows he said: that he wants immigrants from Norway rather than from “shithole” countries in Africa.
What I was not expecting was that Nielsen would raise a question about whether Norwegians are mostly white.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) displayed a poster from the dais proclaiming, in big letters, “Trump: Why allow immigrants from ‘Shithole Countries’?” An aide held the poster aloft right behind Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who, along with Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), was at the infamous meeting with Trump and told others about his racist language.
Nielsen, who was also in that meeting, was now under oath, and she wiggled every which way to excuse Trump without perjuring herself: “I did not hear that word used. . . . I don’t dispute that the president was using tough language.”
Leahy moved on to Trump’s wish for more Norwegian immigrants. “Norway is a predominantly white country, isn’t it?” he asked, rhetorically.
“I actually do not know that, sir,” Nielsen replied. “But I imagine that is the case.”
Kirstjen Nielsen doesn’t know Norwegians are white?
Just as Nielsen “imagines” Norwegians are white, I imagine that she, in her denial of the obvious and defense of the indefensible, is the latest Trump sycophant to trash her reputation. She joins the two Republican senators, David Perdue (Ga.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.), who were in the room for the “shithole” moment but not only denied that it was said (Trump’s use of the vulgar word was widely confirmed, even by Fox News, and not denied by the White House until Trump tweeted a partial denial the next day) but also disparaged the integrity of Durbin for being truthful.
It’s clear they, like Nielsen, do this so they don’t get crosswise with the volatile president — but in the process shred their own integrity.
Now the federal government is hurtling toward a shutdown, entirely because of the president’s whim. Democrats and Republicans presented him last week with exactly the bipartisan deal he said he would sign — protecting the immigrant “dreamers” while also providing funding for his border security “wall” — but Trump unexpectedly exploded with his racist attack and vulgar word.”
Read the rest of Milbank’s op-ed at the above link.
Obviously, Neilsen got the job of DHS Secretary because she was perceived by the Trumpsters to be a lightweight sycophant who wouldn’t “rock the boat.” After all, a truly independent individual at the head of DHS might stand up to the wasteful and immoral “Gonzo” enforcement program being pursued by Trump, Miller, Sessions, Kelly, Homan, and the rest of the Administration’s “White Nationalist Cabal.”
How dumb and complicit is Nielsen? Well, she’s been “reassuring” the “Dreamer community” that even if the budget deal falls through they won’t be an “enforcement priority!” She ignores, of course, the fact that without DACA or legislation, the Dreamers will lose their hard-earned legal work authorizations and, in many cases, their ability to pursue higher education.
In plain terms, they will be “forced underground” where they will be subject to employer abuse, won’t be able to pay taxes, won’t be able to realize their full potential, and, naturally, will be unable to report or act as witnesses to crimes because of fear of removal. Plus, Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions and Tom Homan have assured Dreamers that if they happen to get caught up in any of ICE’s “dragnet” operations, their “nonpriority” status won’t save them from deportation. Also, once “underground” and no longer required to apply to the DHS for renewals, those few “Dreamers” who do go “off the tracks” will not have their records periodically reviewed by the Government. We won’t even have a real idea of how many actually are in the U.S. any more. So, how is this sane government?
The Obama Administration correctly determined that removal of the Dreamers was not an enforcement priority and not in the national interest. In other words, they that they should receive “prosecutorial discretion,” or “PD” pending an appropriate legislative resolution which was not immediately available.
Rather than leaving it to a myriad of local enforcement officials to arbitrarily exercise PD, the Obama Administration established a program where Dreamers were carefully reviewed by professional DHS adjudicators who consistently applied written, transparent criteria. If qualified, Dreamers were given legal authorization to work and documentation that, for the most part, allowed them to pursue higher education, get drivers licenses, etc. What a reasonable and rational way to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” or “PD.” Indeed, a model program.
A real DHS secretary might have stood up to bullies Trump, Kelly, Miller, and Sessions by arguing that the DACA program should be reinstated. The opportunity certainly presented itself. The Administration could simply drop its opposition to the order of the U.S. District Judge Alsup blocking the rescission of DACA. That also would offer the Administration “legal cover” if any of the restrictionist GOP state AGs challenge DACA. They would have to deal with a highly skeptical Judge Alsup.
A real DHS Secretary might also not have had “bogus amnesia” and have reported accurately under oath what the President really said. A real DHS Secretary might also have “Just Said No” to the cruel and irrational termination of Salvadoran TPS. Yeah, the President could fire her for either of those things. But, no Cabinet Secretary job is forever anyway. If you’re going to go down, having it be for courageously telling truth to power, when power is being abused, isn’t the worst way to go out.
Instead, Neilsen will go down as just another bureaucratic sycophant who “went along to get along” no matter what the cost to her country and to her own integrity.
Folks, as we take a few minutes today to remember Dr. King, his vision for a better America, and his inspiring “I Have A Dream Speech,” we have to face the fact that everything Dr. King stood for is under a vicious and concerted attack, the likes of which we haven’t seen in America for approximately 50 years, by individuals elected to govern by a minority of voters in our country.
So, today, I’m offering you a “potpourri” of how and why Dr.King’s Dream has “gone south,” so to speak, and how those of us who care about social justice and due process in America can nevertheless resurrect it and move forward together for a greater and more tolerant American that celebrates the talents, contributions, and humanity of all who live here!.
On Martin Luther King’s birthday, a look back at some disquieting events in race relations in 2017.
Nearly 50 years ago, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. went to the mountaintop and looked out over the promised land. In a powerful and prophetic speech on April 3, 1968, he told a crowd at the Mason Temple in Memphis that while there would certainly be difficult days ahead, he had no doubt that the struggle for racial justice would be successful.
“I may not get there with you,” he said. “But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And so I am happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything.”
The following day, he was assassinated.
The intervening years have been full of steps forward and steps backward, of extraordinary changes as well as awful reminders of what has not changed. What would King have made of our first black president? What would he have thought had he seen neo-Nazis marching through the streets of Charlottesville, Va., so many years after his death? How would he have viewed the shooting by police of unarmed black men in cities around the country — or the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement? He would surely have heard the assertions that we have become a “post-racial” society because we elected (and reelected) Barack Obama. But would he have believed it?
This past year was not terribly heartening on the civil rights front. It was appalling enough that racist white nationalists marched in Charlottesville in August. But it was even more shocking that President Trump seemed incapable of making the most basic moral judgment about that march; instead, he said that there were some “very fine people” at the rally of neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
Racial injustices that bedeviled the country in King’s day — voter suppression, segregated schools, hate crimes — have not gone away. A report released last week by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on inequities in the funding of public schools concludes — and this should surprise no one — that students of color living in poor, segregated neighborhoods are often relegated to low-quality schools simply due to where they live. States continued in 2017 to pass laws that make it harder, rather than easier, for people of color to vote.
The Trump administration also seems determined to undo two decades of Justice Department civil rights work, cutting back on investigations into the excessive use of force and racial bias by police departments. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions in March ordered a review of all existing federal consent decrees with local police departments with the possibility of dismantling them — a move that could set back police reform by many years.
Here in Los Angeles County, this statistic is telling: 40% of the estimated 57,000 homeless people — the most desperate and destitute residents of the county — are black. Yet black residents make up only 9% of the L.A. County population.
But despite bad news on several fronts, what have been heartening over the last year are the objections raised by so many people across the country.
Consider the statues of Confederate generals and slave owners that were brought down across the country. Schools and other institutions rebranded buildings that were formerly named after racists.
The Black Lives Matter movement has grown from a small street and cyber-protest group into a more potent civil rights organization focusing on changing institutions that have traditionally marginalized black people.
When football quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest, as he said, a country that oppresses black people, he was denounced by many (including Trump) but emulated by others. Kaepernick has been effectively banished from professional football but he started a movement.
Roy Moore was defeated for a Senate seat in Alabama by a surge of black voters, particularly black women. (But no sooner did he lose than Joe Arpaio — the disgraced, vehemently anti-immigrant former Arizona sheriff — announced that he is running for Senate there.)
So on what would have been King’s 89th birthday, it is clear that the United States is not yet the promised land he envisioned in the last great speech of his life. But we agree with him that it’s still possible to get there.”
See this short HuffPost video on “Why MLK’s Message Still Matters Today!”
Read about how the Arizona GOP has resurrected, and in some instances actually welcomed, “Racist Joe” Arpaio, an unapologetic anti-Hispanic bigot and convicted scofflaw. “Racist Joe” was pardoned by Trump and is now running for the GOP nomination to replace retiring Arizona GOP Senator Jeff Flake, who often has been a critic of Trump. One thing “Racist Joe’s” candidacy is doing is energizing the Latino community that successfully fought to remove him from the office of Sheriff and to have him brought to justice for his racist policies.
Spared from the threat of deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, she campaigned to oust Joe Arpaio when he unsuccessfully ran for reelection as Maricopa County sheriff in 2016. She knocked on hundreds of doors in south Phoenix’s predominantly Latino neighborhoods to register voters. She made phone calls, walked on college campuses. Her message was direct, like the name of the group she worked with, Bazta Arpaio, a take on the Spanish word basta — enough Arpaio.
But now, the 85-year-old former sheriff is back and running for Senate. Sanchez, who had planned to step away from politics to focus on her studies at Grand Canyon University, is back as well, organizing once more.
“If he thinks he can come back and terrorize the entire state like he did Maricopa County, it’s not going to happen,” Sanchez, 20, said. “I’m not going to let it happen.”
Arpaio enters a crowded Republican primary and may not emerge as the party’s nominee, but his bid has already galvanized Arizona’s Latino electorate — one of the country’s largest and fastest-growing voter blocs.
Organizers like Sanchez, who thought they might sit out the midterm elections, rushed back into offices and started making calls. Social media groups that had gone dormant have resurrected with posts reminding voters that Arpaio was criminally convicted of violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos.
“We’ve been hearing, ‘Is it true Arpaio is back? OK, what can we do to help?’” said Montserrat Arredondo, director of One Arizona, a Phoenix nonprofit group focused on increasing Latino voter turnout. “People were living in terror when Arpaio was in office. They haven’t forgotten.”
In 2008, 796,000 Latinos were eligible to vote in the state, according to One Arizona. By 2016, that potential voting pool jumped to 1.1 million. (California tops the nation with the most Latinos eligible to vote, almost 6.9 million.)
In 2016, Latinos accounted for almost 20% of all registered voters in Arizona. Latinos make up about 30% of Arizona’s population.
. . . .
Last year, President Trump pardoned Arpaio of a criminal conviction for violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos. When announcing his candidacy Tuesday, Arpaio pledged his full support to the president and his policies.
On Saturday, Arpaio made his first public appearance since announcing his candidacy, attending a gathering of Maricopa County Republicans. He was unmoved when asked about the enthusiasm his candidacy has created among Latinos.
“Many of them hate me for enforcing the law,” he said. “I can’t change that. … All I know is that I have my supporters, they’re going to support who they want. I’m in this to win it though.”
Arpaio, gripping about a dozen red cardboard signs that read “We need Sheriff Joe Arpaio in DC,” walked through the crowd where he mingled with, among others, former state Sen. Kelli Ward and U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, who also are seeking the GOP Senate nomination. Overall, Arpaio was widely met with enthusiasm from attendees.
“So glad you’re back,” said a man wearing a “Vietnam Veteran” hat.
“It’s great to be back,” Arpaio replied.
Arpaio, who handed out business cards touting his once self-proclaimed status as “America’s toughest sheriff,” said he had no regrets from his more than two decades in office.
“Not a single one,” he said. “I spoke my mind and did what needed to be done and would do it the same in a minute.”
In an interview, Arpaio, who still insists he has “evidence” that former President Obama’s birth certificate is forged, a rumor repeatedly shown to be false, did not lay out specific policy platforms, only insisting he’ll get things done in Washington.
During his tenure as sheriff, repeated court rulings against his office for civil rights violations cost local taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.”
Read the complete story at the link.
Professor George Yancy of Emory University writing in the NY Times asks “Will America Choose King’s Dream Or Trump’s Nightmare?”
“Let’s come clean: President Trump is a white racist! Over the past few days, many have written, spoken and shouted this fact, but it needs repeating: President Trump is a white racist! Why repeat it? Because many have been under the grand illusion that America is a “post-racial” nation, a beautiful melting pot where racism is only sporadic, infrequent and expressed by those on the margins of an otherwise mainstream and “decent” America. That’s a lie; a blatant one at that. We must face a very horrible truth. And America is so cowardly when it comes to facing awful truths about itself.
So, as we celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, we must face the fact that we are at a moral crossroad. Will America courageously live out Dr. King’s dream or will it go down the road of bigotry and racist vitriol, preferring to live out Mr. Trump’s nightmare instead? In his autobiography, reflecting on the nonviolent uprising of the people of India, Dr. King wrote, “The way of acquiesce leads to moral and spiritual suicide.” Those of us who defiantly desire to live, and to live out Dr. King’s dream, to make it a reality, must not acquiesce now, precisely when his direst prophetic warning faces us head on.
On the night before he was murdered by a white man on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., Dr. King wrote: “America is going to hell if we don’t use her vast resources to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life.” Our current president, full of hatred and contempt for those children, is the terrifying embodiment of this prophecy.
We desperately need each other at this moment of moral crisis and malicious racist divisiveness. Will we raise our collective voices against Mr. Trump’s white racism and those who make excuses for it or submit and thereby self-destructively kill any chance of fully becoming our better selves? Dr. King also warned us that “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.” To honor Dr. King, we must not remain silent, we must not betray his legacy.
So many Americans suffer from the obsessive need to claim “innocence,” that is, to lie to ourselves. Yet such a lie is part of our moral undoing. While many will deny, continue to lie and claim our national “innocence,” I come bearing deeply troubling, but not surprising, news: White racism is now comfortably located within the Oval Office, right there at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, embodied in our 45th president, one who is, and I think many would agree, must agree, without any hesitation, a white racist. There are many who will resist this characterization, but Mr. Trump has desecrated the symbolic aspirations of America, exhumed forms of white supremacist discourse that so many would assume is spewed only by Ku Klux Klan.”
Read the rest of Professor Yancy’s op-ed at the link.
From lead columnist David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick at the NY Times we get “Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List.”
Donald Trump has been obsessed with race for the entire time he has been a public figure. He had a history of making racist comments as a New York real-estate developer in the 1970s and ‘80s. More recently, his political rise was built on promulgating the lie that the nation’s first black president was born in Kenya. He then launched his campaign with a speech describing Mexicans as rapists.
The media often falls back on euphemisms when describing Trump’s comments about race: racially loaded, racially charged, racially tinged, racially sensitive. And Trump himself has claimed that he is “the least racist person.” But here’s the truth: Donald Trump is a racist. He talks about and treats people differently based on their race. He has done so for years, and he is still doing so.
Here, we have attempted to compile a definitive list of his racist comments – or at least the publicly known ones.
The New York Years
Trump’s real-estate company tried to avoid renting apartments to African-Americans in the 1970s and gave preferential treatment to whites, according to the federal government.
Trump treated black employees at his casinos differently from whites, according to multiple sources. A former hotel executive said Trump criticized a black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks.”
In 1989, Trump took out ads in New York newspapers urging the death penalty for five black and Latino teenagers accused of raping a white woman in Central Park; he argued they were guilty as late as October 2016, more than 10 years after DNA evidence had exonerated them.
In 1989, on NBC, Trump said: “I think sometimes a black may think they don’t have an advantage or this and that. I’ve said on one occasion, even about myself, if I were starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I really believe they do have an actual advantage.”
He uses the gang MS-13 to disparage all immigrants. Among many other statements, he has suggested that Obama’s protection of the Dreamers — otherwise law-abiding immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children — contributed to the spread of MS-13.
In December 2015, Trump called for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” including refusing to readmit Muslim-American citizens who were outside of the country at the time.
“I find nothing more useless than debating the existence of racism, particularly when you are surrounded by evidence of its existence. It feels to me like a way to keep you fighting against the water until you drown.
The debates themselves, I believe, render a simple concept impossibly complex, making the very meaning of “racism” frustratingly murky.
So, let’s strip that away here. Let’s be honest and forthright.
Racism is simply the belief that race is an inherent and determining factor in a person’s or a people’s character and capabilities, rendering some inferior and others superior. These beliefs are racial prejudices.
The history of America is one in which white people used racism and white supremacy to develop a racial caste system that advantaged them and disadvantaged others.
Understanding this, it is not a stretch to understand that Donald Trump’s words and deeds over the course of his life have demonstrated a pattern of expressing racial prejudices that demean people who are black and brown and that play to the racial hostilities of other white people.
It is not a stretch to say that Trump is racist. It’s not a stretch to say that he is a white supremacist. It’s not a stretch to say that Trump is a bigot.
I know of no point during his entire life where he has apologized for, repented of, or sought absolution for any of his racist actions or comments.
Instead, he either denies, deflects or amps up the attack.
Trump is a racist. We can put that baby to bed.
“Racism” and “racist” are simply words that have definitions, and Trump comfortably and unambiguously meets those definitions.
We have unfortunately moved away from the simple definition of racism, to the point where the only people to whom the appellation can be safely applied are the vocal, violent racial archetypes.
Racism doesn’t require hatred, constant expression, or even conscious awareness. We want racism to be fringe rather than foundational. But, wishing isn’t an effective method of eradication.
We have to face this thing, stare it down and fight it back.
The simple acknowledgment that Trump is a racist is the easy part. The harder, more substantive part is this: What are we going to do about it?
First and foremost, although Trump is not the first president to be a racist, we must make him the last. If by some miracle he should serve out his first term, he mustn’t be allowed a second. Voters of good conscience must swarm the polls in 2020.
But before that, those voters must do so later this year, to rid the House and the Senate of as many of Trump’s defenders, apologists and accomplices as possible. Should the time come where impeachment is inevitable, there must be enough votes in the House and Senate to ensure it.
We have to stop thinking that we can somehow separate what racists believe from how they will behave. We must stop believing that any of Trump’s actions are clear of the venom coursing through his convictions. Everything he does is an articulation of who he is and what he believes. Therefore, all policies he supports, positions he takes and appointments he makes are suspect.
And finally, we have to stop giving a pass to the people — whether elected official or average voter — who support and defend his racism. If you defend racism you are part of the racism. It doesn’t matter how much you say that you’re an egalitarian, how much you say that you are race blind, how much you say that you are only interested in people’s policies and not their racist polemics.
As the brilliant James Baldwin once put it: “I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.” When I see that in poll after poll a portion of Trump’s base continues to support his behavior, including on race, I can only conclude that there is no real daylight between Trump and his base. They are part of his racism.
When I see the extraordinary hypocrisy of elected officials who either remain silent in the wake of Trump’s continued racist outbursts or who obliquely condemn him, only to in short order return to defending and praising him and supporting his agenda, I see that there is no real daylight between Trump and them either. They too are part of his racism.
When you see it this way, you understand the enormity and the profundity of what we are facing. There were enough Americans who were willing to accept Trump’s racism to elect him. There are enough people in Washington willing to accept Trump’s racism to defend him. Not only is Trump racist, the entire architecture of his support is suffused with that racism. Racism is a fundamental component of the Trump presidency.
Back over at the Washington Post, op-ed writer E.J. Dionne, Jr., tells us the depressing news that “We could be a much better country. Trump makes it impossible.”
Dionne concludes his piece with the following observations about our current “Dreamer” debate:
“Our current debate is frustrating, and not only because Trump doesn’t understand what “mutual toleration” and “forbearance” even mean. By persistently making himself, his personality, his needs, his prejudices and his stability the central topics of our political conversation, Trump is blocking the public conversation we ought to be having about how to move forward.
And while Trump’s enablers in the Republican Party will do all they can to avoid the issue, there should now be no doubt (even if this was clear long ago) that we have a blatant racist as our president. His reference to immigrants from “sh–hole countries” and his expressed preference for Norwegians over Haitians, Salvadorans and new arrivals from Africa make this abundantly clear. Racist leaders do not help us reach mutual toleration. His semi-denial 15 hours after his comment was first reported lacked credibility, especially because he called around first to see how his original words would play with his base.
But notice also what Trump’s outburst did to our capacity to govern ourselves and make progress. Democrats and Republicans sympathetic to the plight of the “dreamers” worked out an immigration compromise designed carefully to give Trump what he had said he needed.
There were many concessions by Democrats on border security, “chain migration” based on family reunification, and the diversity visa lottery that Trump had criticized. GOP senators such as Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) bargained in good faith and were given ample reason by Trump to think they had hit his sweet spot.
Trump blew them away with a torrent of bigotry. In the process, he shifted the onus for avoiding a government shutdown squarely on his own shoulders and those of Republican leaders who were shamefully slow in condemning the president’s racism.
There are so many issues both more important and more interesting than the psyche of a deeply damaged man. We are capable of being a far better nation. But we need leaders who call us to our obligations to each other as free citizens. Instead, we have a president who knows only how to foster division and hatred.”
Read the rest of the op-ed at the link.
Our “Liar-in-Chief:” This short video from CNN, featuring the Washington Post’s “Chief Fact Checker” Glenn Kessler deals with the amazing 2000+ false or misleading claims that Trump has made even before the first anniversary of his Presidency: “Trump averages 5-6 false claims a day.”
Also on video, even immigration restrictionists sometimes wax eloquent about the exceptional generosity of U.S. immigration and refugee laws (even as they engage in an unending battle to undermine that claimed generosity). But, the reality, as set forth in this short HuffPost video is that on a regular basis our Government knowingly and intentionally returns individuals, mostly Hispanics, to countries where they are likely to be harmed or killed because we are unable to fit them within often hyper-technical and overly restrictive readings of various protection laws or because we are unwilling to exercise humanitarian discretion to save them..
I know first-hand because in my former position as a U.S. Immigration Judge, I sometimes had to tell individuals (and their families) in person that I had to order them returned to a country where I had concluded that they would likely be severely harmed or killed because I could not fit them into any of the categories of protection available under U.S. law. I daresay that very few of the restrictionists who glory in the idea of even harsher and more restrictive immigration laws have had this experience.
And clearly, Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, Steven Miller, Bob Goodlatte and others in the GOP would like to increase the number of humans we return to harm or death by stripping defenseless juveniles and other vulnerable asylum seekers of some of the limited rights they now possess in the false name of “border security.” Indeed, Sessions even invented a false narrative of a fraud-ridden, “attorney-gamed” (how do folks who often don’t even have a chance to get an attorney use attorneys to “game” the system?) asylum system in an attempt to justify his totally indefensible and morally bankrupt position.
Check out this video from HuffPost, entitled “This Is The Violent And Tragic Reality Of Deportation” to see the shocking truth about how our removal system really works (or not)!
Thinking of MLK’S “I have a dream,” next, I’ll take you over to The Guardian, where Washington Correspondent Sabrina Siddiqui tells us how “Immigration policy progress and setbacks have become pattern for Dreamers.”
“Greisa Martínez Rosas has seen it before: a rare bipartisan breakthrough on immigration policy, offering a glimmer of hope to advocates like herself. Then a swift unraveling.
Martínez is a Dreamer, one of about 700,000 young undocumented migrants, brought to the US as children, who secured temporary protections through Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or Daca.
She considers herself “one of the lucky ones”. Last year, she was able to renew her legal status until 2020, even as Donald Trump threw the Dreamers into limbo by rescinding Daca and declaring a deadline of 5 March for Congress to act to replace it.
Martínez is an activist with United We Dream, the largest youth-led immigration advocacy group in the US. She has fought on the front lines.
In 2010 and 2013, she saw efforts for immigration reform, and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, culminate in disappointment. She rode a familiar rollercoaster this week, as a bipartisan Daca fix was undermined by Trump’s reported – if contested – reference to African and Central American nations as “shithole countries”.
“It feels like a sequel,” Martínez told the Guardian, adding that Trump’s adversarial views underscored the need to hash out a deal. “This same man is responsible for running a Department of Homeland Security that seeks to hunt and deport people of color.”
Negotiations over immigration have always been precarious. Trump has complicated the picture. After launching his candidacy for president with a speech that called Mexican migrants “rapists” and “killers”, Trump campaigned on deporting nearly 11 million undocumented migrants and building a wall on the Mexico border.
He has, however, shown a more flexible attitude towards Dreamers – despite his move to end their protective status. Last Tuesday, the president sat in the White House, flanked by members of both parties. In a 45-minute negotiating session, televised for full effect, Trump ignited fury among his hardcore supporters by signaling he was open to protection for Dreamers in exchange for modest border security measures.
Then, less than 48 hours later, Trump’s reported comments about countries like Haiti and El Salvador prompted a fierce backlash.
“People are picking their jaws up from the table and they’re trying to recover from feelings of deep hurt and anger,” said Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of America’s Voice, a group which advocates for immigration reform.
“We always knew we were climbing a mountain … but it’s improbable to imagine a positive breakthrough for immigrants with the most nativist president in modern America in charge.”
As the uproar continued, it was nearly forgotten that on Thursday, hours before Trump’s remarks became public, a group of senators announced a bipartisan deal.
Under it, hundreds of thousands of Dreamers would be able to gain provisional legal status and eventually apply for green cards. They would not be able to sponsor their parents for citizenship – an effort to appease Trump’s stance against so-called “chain migration” – but parents would be able to obtain a form of renewable legal status.
There would be other concessions to earn Trump’s signature, such as $2bn for border security including physical barriers, if not by definition a wall.
The compromise would also do away with the diversity visa lottery and reallocate those visas to migrants from underrepresented countries and those who stand to lose Temporary Protected Status. That would help those affected by the Trump administration’s recent decision to terminate such status for some nationals of El Salvador, effectively forcing nearly 200,000 out of the country.
The bill would be far less comprehensive than the one put forward in 2013, when a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Eight” proposed a bill that would have given nearly 11 million undocumented migrants a path to citizenship.
The bill passed the Senate with rare bipartisan support. In the Republican-led House it never received a vote.
Proponents of reform now believe momentum has shifted in their favor, despite Trump’s ascent. The Arizona senator Jeff Flake, part of the 2013 effort and also in the reform group today, said there was a clear deadline of 5 March to help Dreamers.
“I do think there is a broader consensus to do this than we had before,” Flake told the Guardian. “We’re going have 700,000 kids subject to deportation. That’s the biggest difference.”
Read the rest of the story at the link.
Finally, John Blake at CNN tells us “Three ways [you might not know] MLK speaks to our time.”
That’s a famous line from the 19th century philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, but it could also apply to a modern American hero: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
As the nation celebrates King’s national holiday Monday, it’s easy to freeze-frame him as the benevolent dreamer carved in stone on the Washington Mall. Yet the platitudes that frame many King holiday events often fail to mention the most radical aspects of his legacy, says Jeanne Theoharis, a political science professor at Brooklyn College and author of several books on the civil rights movement.
“We turn him into a Thanksgiving parade float, he’s jolly, larger than life and he makes us feel good,” Theoharis says. “We’ve turned him into a mascot.”
Many people vaguely know that King opposed the Vietnam War and talked more about poverty in his later years. But King also had a lot to say about issues not normally associated with civil rights that still resonate today, historians and activists say.
If you’re concerned about inequality, health care, climate change or even the nastiness of our political disagreements, then King has plenty to say to you. To see that version of King, though, we have to dust off the cliches and look at him anew.
If you’re more familiar with your smartphone than your history, try this: Think of King not just as a civil rights hero, but also as an app — his legacy has to be updated to remain relevant.
Here are three ways we can update our MLK app to see how he spoke not only to his time, but to our time as well:
. . . .
But here’s one more uncomfortable thought that also explains why King remains so relevant:
The country is still divided by many of the same issues that consumed him.
On the last night of his life, King told a shouting congregation of black churchgoers that “we as a people” would get to “the Promised Land.” That kind of optimism, though, sounds like it belongs to another era.
What we have now is a leader in the White House who denies widespread reports that he complained about Latino and African immigrants coming to America from “shithole” countries; a white supremacist who murders worshippers in church; a social media landscape that pulsates with anger and accusations.
King’s Promised Land doesn’t sound boring when compared to today’s headlines. And maybe that’s what’s so sad about reliving his life every January for some people.
Fifty years after he died, King’s vision for America still sounds so far away.”
Read the complete article at the link.
There you have it. A brief but representative sample of some of the many ways in which Dr. King’s dream of a “post racist America” is still relevant and why there’s still much more work still to be done than many of us might have thought several years ago.
So, the next time you hear bandied about terms like “merit-based” (means: exclude Brown and Black immigrants); “extreme vetting” (means: using bureaucracy to keep Muslims and other perceived “undesirables” out); “tax cuts” (means: handouts to the rich at the expense of the poor); “entitlement reform” (means: cutting benefits for the most vulnerable); “health care reform” (means: kicking the most needy out of the health care system); “voter fraud” (means: suppressing the Black, Hispanic, and Democratic vote); “rule of law” (means: perverting the role of Government agencies and the courts to harm Blacks, Hispanics, Gays, women, the poor, and other minorities); “job creation” (means: destroying our precious natural resources and the environment for the benefit of big corporations), “border security” (means: slashing rights for children and asylum seekers, and more money for building a wall and expanding prisons for non-criminal migrants, a/k/a/ “The New American Gulag”), “ending chain migration” (means keeping non-White and/or non-Christian immigrants from bringing family members) and other deceptively harmless sounding euphemisms, know what the politicos are really up to and consider them in the terms that Dr. King might have.
What’s really behind the rhetoric and how will it help create the type of more fair, just, equal, and value-driven society that majority of us in American seek to be part of and leave to succeeding generations. If it isn’t moving us as a nation toward those goals, “Just Say NO” as Dr. King would have done!
“WASHINGTON — The furor over President Trump’s language about immigrants from “shithole countries” has partially obscured the substance of what he was demanding and the profound shift among Republicans beyond opposing illegal immigration to also pushing new limits on legal migrants, particularly of color.
Trump made the remark as he rejected a bipartisan proposal from Sens. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to resolve the status of some 700,000 so-called Dreamers facing deportation. In exchange for protecting them, Trump wanted more restrictions on legal immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, among other changes.
Those demands come as Trump has already put the country on track to remove 1 million immigrants over the next two years. Among them are the Dreamers — young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — and more than 200,000 Salvadorans, nearly 60,000 Haitians and others from Central America who have lived in the U.S. legally, in some cases for decades, under temporary protected status that the administration is ending.
The mounting total is a policy reversal for Republicans, who until recently insisted that welcoming new arrivals was vital not just to the fabric of American life but in boosting the domestic economy. Now, many Republicans in Congress have moved to a more restrictionist position, following Trump’s lead.
Trump “has taken our issues off the back burner and thrust them into the spotlight,” said Roy Beck, executive director at Numbers USA, which argues for reducing immigration to midcentury levels, before passage of the 1965 immigration overhaul ushered in a new era of diverse migrants.
Beck marvels at the turn of events.
“The president has done as much as we hoped for,” he said.
Trump’s insistence on immigration restrictions may have increased the odds of a confrontation this week when Congress must vote on a measure to fund agencies or risk a partial government shutdown.”
Read the complete article at the link.
Aligning yourselves with Roy Beck says it all. The GOP’s push on undocumented immigration has become a smokescreen for a war on legal immigrants from non-European countries. That, in turn, is part of the White Nationalist attack on ethnic Americans, particularly individuals of color.
Trump’s crassness and lack of judgment has just blown the smokescreen and exposed the ugly racist and xenophobic underpinnings of the GOP’s “merit based” immigration charade. Folks who care about America’s future must resist this un-American GOP initiative.
Eventually, the majority of us who believe in a tolerant, diverse, welcoming, unafraid America that can resume its world leadership role must regain power from those driven by the toxic, intolerant views of a minority of Americans who foisted the national disaster of Trump upon our country!
“Lots of the news from sub-Saharan Africa is about war, famine, poverty or political upheaval. So it’s understandable if many Americans think most Africans who immigrate to the United States are poorly educated and desperate.
That’s the impression that President Trump left with his comments to members of Congress opposing admission of immigrants from “shithole countries” in Africa and elsewhere.
But research tells another story.
While many are refugees, large numbers are beneficiaries of the “diversity visa program” aimed at boosting immigration from underrepresented nations. And on average, African immigrants are better educated that people born in the U.S. or the immigrant population as a whole.
“It’s a population that’s very diverse in its educational, economic and English proficiency profile,” said Jeanne Batalova, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute think tank in Washington and coauthor of a report last year on sub-Saharan African immigrants in the U.S. “People came for a variety of reasons and at various times.”
Overall, their numbers are small compared with other immigrant groups but have risen significantly in recent years. The U.S. immigrant population from sub-Saharan Africa (49 countries with a total population of more than 1.1 billion) grew from 723,000 to more than 1.7 million between 2010 and 2015, according to a new report by New American Economy, a Washington-based research and advocacy group. Still, they make up just half a percent of the U.S. population.
Drawing from U.S. surveys and Census Bureau data, the report found that the majority come from five countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa.
The Pew Research Center reported that African immigrants are most likely to settle in the South or Northeast, and that the largest numbers — at least 100,000 — are found in Texas, New York, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Virginia. Many African refugees have also relocated to or have been resettled in states such as Minnesota and South Dakota.
The Refugee Act of 1980 made it easier for people fleeing war zones to resettle in the U.S., and today there are tens of thousand of refugees from Somalia, Sudan and Congo. About 22% of African immigrants are refugees, according to Andrew Lim, associate director of research at New American Economy.
At the same time, the diversity visa program — also known as the visa lottery — has opened the door to immigrants from more peaceful places. Of the sub-Saharan immigrants who have become legal permanent residents, 17% came through the program, compared with 5% of the total U.S. immigrant population, according to Batalova.
Applicants to the program must have completed the equivalent of a U.S. high school education or have at least two years of recent experience in any number of occupations, including accountant, computer support specialist, orthodontist and dancer.
As a result, the influx includes many immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa who are highly skilled professionals.
Batalova’s research found that of the 1.4 million who are 25 and older, 41% have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 30% of all immigrants and 32% of the U.S.-born population. Of the 19,000 U.S. immigrants from Norway — a country Trump reportedly told lawmakers is a good source of immigrants — 38% have college educations.
The New American Economy study found that 1 in 3 of these undergraduate degrees were focused on science, technology, engineering and math — “training heavily in demand by today’s employers.”
That report also found that African immigrants were significantly more likely to have graduate degrees. A total of 16% had a master’s degree, medical degree, law degree or a doctorate, compared with 11% of the U.S.-born population, Lim said.
African immigrants were more than twice as likely than the U.S. population overall to work in healthcare, Lim said. There are more than 32,500 nursing, psychiatric or home health aides, more than 46,000 registered nurses and more than 15,700 doctors and surgeons.
“Overwhelmingly the evidence shows that [African immigrants] make a significant, positive economic contribution to the U.S. economy,” both at a national level and in districts where they are concentrated, Lim said. “They contribute more than $10.1 billion in federal taxes, $4.7 billion in state and local taxes, and most importantly, they have significant economic clout to the point of $40.3 billion in spending power.”
That $40.3 billion pays for housing, transportation, consumer goods and education for their children — “things that actually stimulate the economy around them,” Lim said.
The biggest beneficiary is Texas, where their spending power is $4.7 billion, followed by California, Maryland, New York and Georgia.
“It’s a population that leverages its human resources and contributes to the U.S. economy by revitalizing communities, starting businesses, but also by working in a variety of professional fields,” Batalova said.
Even those with less education who arrive as refugees often fill certain lower-skill niches in healthcare, such as home health aides, researchers said.
“In the communities they were resettled in, they have made significant contributions,” Lim said.
In many towns and cities in the Great Lakes area of the Midwest, for example, they have started new businesses, infused local labor forces with younger workers, and expanded local tax bases, Lim said.
A report last year by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that immigrants in general had little to no negative effect on overall wages or employment levels for U.S.-born workers, and higher-skilled immigrants in fields such as technology and science had a positive influence on the U.S. labor force.
Still, supporters of stricter immigration policy back the Trump administration’s calls to end the visa lottery as well as programs that allow certain immigrants to sponsor family members to settle in the U.S. They believe that a merit system that selects immigrants based on individual skills should replace the current system.”
Truth, facts, and helping American workers have never been part of the GOP restrictionist agenda. The xenophobia is no longer limited to so-called undocumented immigrants; it’s clear that guys like Purdue, Cotton, and Goodlatte really don’t like immigrants of any type, and particularly those of color or from “developing nations.” It’s really all about race with religion and culture thrown in — slowing down the “browning and blackening” of America, attacking the Hispanic American and African-American cultures, and trying to block or limit the immigration of non-Christians (including, of course, Muslims).
Trump’s racist remarks this week (which Perdue, Cotton, and Nielsen are rather disingenuously trying to claim never happened) and the GOP’s basic defense of the idea of drawing immigrants from White European countries rather than Haiti, Africa, or Central America has basically “blown the cover” off of so-called “merit based” immigration being pushed by some in the GOP. Trump was just articulating the hateful White Nationalist immigration agenda that he ran on and many (not all) in the GOP have now adopted under the code word “merit based.” That doesn’t bode well for bipartisan immigration reform of any type or, for that matter, for the future of a diverse “nation of immigrants.”
“When it comes to President Trump and race, there is a predictable cycle. He makes a remark that seems racist, and people engage in an extended debate about whether he is personally racist. His critics say he is. His defenders argue for an interpretation in which race plays a secondary role (such as: Haiti really is a worse place to live than Norway).
It’s time to end this cycle.
No one except Trump can know what Trump’s private thoughts or motivations are. But the public record and his behavior are now abundantly clear. Donald Trump treats black people and Latinos differently than he treats white people.
And that makes him a racist.
Is it possible to defend some of his racially charged statements by pointing out that something other than race might explain them? Sure. Is it possible that he doesn’t think of himself as a racist who views white people as superior to nonwhite people? Yes.
But the definition of a racist — the textbook definition, as Paul Ryan might say — is someone who treats some people better than others because of their race. Trump fits that definition many times over:
• He frequently criticizes prominent African-Americans for being unpatriotic, ungrateful and disrespectful.
• He called some of those who marched alongside white supremacists in Charlottesville last August “very fine people.”
• He is quick to highlight crimes committed by dark-skinned people, sometimes exaggerating or lying about it (such as a claim about growing crime from “radical Islamic terror” in Britain). He is very slow to decry hate crimes committed against dark-skinned people (such as the murder of an Indian man in Kansas last year).
• At the White House yesterday, Trump vulgarly called for less immigration from Haiti and Africa and more from Norway.
For more on this topic, read my colleague Nick Kristof wrestling with the topic during the 2016 campaign: “Here we have a man who for more than four decades has been repeatedly associated with racial discrimination or bigoted comments about minorities,” he wrote. “While any one episode may be ambiguous, what emerges over more than four decades is a narrative arc, a consistent pattern — and I don’t see what else to call it but racism.”
And Slate’s Jamelle Bouie: “It’s impossible to know what’s in his heart. But what Trump feels is less important than what he does.”
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the NYT editorial page, Professor Roxane Gay, a distinguished Haitian American writes:
“I could write a passionate rebuttal extolling all the virtues of Haiti, the island my parents are from, the first free black nation in the Western Hemisphere. I could write about the beauty of the island, the music and vibrant art, the majesty of the mountains, the crystalline blue of the water surrounding her, the resilience of the Haitian people, our incredible work ethic, our faith. I could tell you about my parents, how they came to this country with so many other Haitians, how they embraced the American dream and thrived, how I and so many first-generation Haitian-Americans are products of our parents’ American dreams.
Or I could tell you about the singular, oppressive narrative the media trots out when talking about Haiti, the one about an island mired in poverty and misery, the one about AIDS, the one about a country plagued by natural and man-made disasters, because these are the stories people want to hear, the stories that make Haiti into a pitiable spectacle instead of the proud, complicated country it is. I could tell you how I have spent an inordinate amount of time and energy, throughout my life, educating people about Haiti and disabusing them of the damaging, incorrect notions they have about the country of my parents’ birth.
On the eve of the eighth anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that devastated Haiti, the president, in the Oval Office, is said to have wondered aloud why he should allow immigrants from “shithole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador and African nations to enter the United States. Mr. Trump has tweeted a denial that he made this statement. “He said those hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly,” Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, who was in the room, said Friday.
But the president has to know that even if video footage of the comment existed, there wouldn’t be any political consequences for him. He has to know, like we all do, that xenophobic commentary plays well with his base, the people who were more than happy to put him in office because they could seamlessly project their racism and misogyny onto his celebrity persona. It’s no wonder Fox News hosts have defended the comment.
Now, in response to the news about the reports of the vile remark, there are people saying “vote” and highlighting the importance of the 2018 midterm elections, as if American democracy is unfettered from interference and corruption. There is a lot of trite rambling about how the president isn’t really reflecting American values when, in fact, he is reflecting the values of many Americans. And there are entreaties to educate the president about the truth of Haiti as if he simply suffers from ignorance.
But the president is not alone in thinking so poorly of the developing world. He didn’t reveal any new racism. He, once again, revealed racism that has been there all along. It is grotesque and we must endure it for another three or seven years, given that the Republicans have a stranglehold on power right now and are more invested in holding onto that power than working for the greater good of all Americans.
What I’m supposed to do now is offer hope. I’m supposed to tell you that no president serves forever. I’m supposed to offer up words like “resist” and “fight” as if rebellious enthusiasm is enough to overcome federally, electorally sanctioned white supremacy. And I’m supposed to remind Americans, once more, of Haiti’s value, as if we deserve consideration and a modicum of respect from the president of the United States only because as a people we are virtuous enough.
But I am not going to do any of that. I am tired of comfortable lies. I have lost patience with the shock supposedly well-meaning people express every time Mr. Trump says or does something terrible but well in character. I don’t have any hope to offer. I am not going to turn this into a teaching moment to justify the existence of millions of Haitian or African or El Salvadoran people because of the gleeful, unchecked racism of a world leader. I am not going to make people feel better about the gilded idea of America that becomes more and more compromised and impoverished with each passing day of the Trump presidency.
This is a painful, uncomfortable moment. Instead of trying to get past this moment, we should sit with it, wrap ourselves in the sorrow, distress and humiliation of it. We need to sit with the discomfort of the president of the United States referring to several countries as “shitholes” during a meeting, a meeting that continued, his comments unchallenged. No one is coming to save us. Before we can figure out how to save ourselves from this travesty, we need to sit with that, too.
Thanks primarily to the African-American Community in Alabama, we all were saved from the nightmare of having racist, xenophobic, homophobic theocrat Roy Moore thrust upon the U.S. Senate. But, “White Folks” are going to chip in big time to save the country from Trump and his GOP apologists/handlers/fellow travelers. No less than the future of American Democracy and that of the so-called “Free World” is at stake.
“Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Friday that he heard President Donald Trump make “hate-filled, vile and racist” comments to lawmakers that the president is now denying.
Durbin, who was at the White House meeting on Thursday to discuss immigration, is the first to go on the record confirming reports that Trump referred to African nations as “shithole countries,” and that the U.S. should “take … out” Haitians currently living in the U.S. Trump reportedly also commented that the U.S. should accept more immigrants from Norway.
Trump on Friday claimed on Twitter that he didn’t use the language attributed to him about Haitians, but neither he nor the White House has directly denied his comments on African countries.
Durbin, speaking to reporters on Friday, contradicted Trump’s claim.
“I cannot believe that in the history of the White House, in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday,” Durbin said. “You’ve seen the comments in the press. I’ve not read one of them that’s inaccurate.”
Durbin added: “He said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly.”
Trump made the comments during an immigration meeting with Durbin and six Republican lawmakers: Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.); House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Reps. Bob Goodlatte, (R-Va.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), according to MSNBC.
Durbin and Graham pitched Trump on the outlines of a deal they and others in a six-senator bipartisan group made to resolve the legal status of Dreamers, the young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
Nearly 700,000 Dreamers are at risk of losing deportation relief and work permits ― or already have ― because Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
Democrats want protections for Dreamers included in a measure on government spending, which must pass by a Jan. 19 deadline to avoid a government shutdown.
Trump has said he wants to help Dreamers, but only if he gets something in return: his border wall and other security measures, an end to the diversity visa lottery, and limits on family-based visas, which the president derisively refers to as “chain migration.”
Trump has falsely claimed that other countries use the diversity visa lottery to send their “worst people” to the U.S. A large proportion of diversity visa lottery recipients come from African nations.
Durbin, Graham and their allies drafted a plan that would eliminate the diversity visa lottery as Trump demanded, but would allow some immigrants currently in the U.S. under temporary protected status, which lets people stay in the country after natural disasters or other crises in their home nations. The Trump administration is ending those protections for people from Haiti, El Salvador and Nicaragua, and suggested it will do the same for Hondurans.
Durbin said that’s when he told Trump about the numbers of people who hold temporary protected status from various countries, including Haiti.
“He said, ’Haitians, do we need more Haitians?’” Durbin said.
Trump then made “vile and vulgar comments” about African nations, Durbin said, calling them “shitholes.”
The slur was “the exact word used by the president ― not just once, but repeatedly,” said Durbin.
Graham spoke up, confronting Trump’s harsh language, which Durbin said “took extraordinary political courage.” Graham hasn’t publicly commented on the meeting.
Durbin also recounted a “heartbreaking moment” when Trump and others “scoffed” at his comments about the importance of family-based immigration. The president and his allies have said the U.S. should move to a “merit-based” system rather than admitting people based on family ties, referring to anyone but spouses and minor children as “extended family.”
“Chain migration” as a term is offensive, Durbin said he told the president.
“I said to the president, do you realize how painful that term is to so many people? African-Americans believe that they migrated to America in chains, and when you speak about ‘chain migration,’ it hurts them personally,” Durbin said. “He said, ‘Oh, that’s a good line.’”
In a statement after Trump’s comments were first reported, the White House did not deny them.
But Trump on Friday insisted the reports were inaccurate.
“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used,” he tweeted. “What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!”
Trump addressed Haiti, but said nothing about his reported comments on Africa.
“Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country,” Trump tweeted. “Never said ‘take them out.’ Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!”
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) was not among the lawmakers in the White House meeting, but tweeted Friday that he heard about Trump’s comments “directly following the meeting by those in attendance.”
The remarks “were not ‘tough,’ they were abhorrent and repulsive,” Flake tweeted.”
Trump’s total meltdown might well kill any budget deal for the time being, almost guaranteeing a USG shutdown.
At the same time, it “blows the cover” from the White Nationalist, restrictionist agenda that some in the GOP have been pushing under a bogus claim of “reshaping the immigration system in the interests of the United States.” No, it is, and always has been about unnecessarily and unwisely restricting and limiting legal immigration while directly attacking people of color, non-Christians, and other minorities. And, the bias and racism isn’t limited to immigrants — it also carries over to the views of many in the GOP about ethic Americans. When the GOP allows itself to be driven by a racially charged hate-based agenda, it makes “compromise” difficult, if not impossible.
The majority of us who believe in a diverse, tolerant, generous, welcoming America and a vibrant social and economic future for our country must over time retake power from the White Nationalist driven minority that now seems to be in charge! Every election, local, state, and national is critical! “Just Say No” to candidates, on every level, who promote, advance, or aid and abet the White Nationalist agenda.
Democrats are in a good position as they negotiate with President Trump and the congressional majority over their legislative priorities for the next couple of months: children’s health care, nondefense spending, disaster relief and legalization of the “dreamers,” that group of immigrants brought here illegally as children. They also are within reach of retaking both chambers of Congress in November.
But the dreamers have decided to give the Democrats a rude awakening.
When lawmakers reached a short-term, bipartisan deal last month to keep the government funded, United We Dream, the organization leading the campaign to legalize the dreamers, launched an all-out attack on Democrats for failing to insist that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals legislation be included in the spending bill.
The group declared the 17 Senate Democrats who voted for the bill the “Deportation Caucus” and, in a social-media barrage, said they “voted to deport young immigrants.”
United We Dream also fired off a tweet praising conservative Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) “for voting NO on a spending bill that did not include a Dream Act. We see your commitment and we need you to continue fighting with young immigrants!”
This is bonkers.
Democrats — in and out of the supposed “Deportation Caucus” — support legalizing the dreamers. And Lee? His opposition to the spending bill had nothing to do with dreamers. He had called DACA “an illegal abuse of executive power.” Meanwhile, Trump, who created the artificial crisis by announcing he would end DACA, gets away with barely a scratch.
United We Dream deleted the pro-Lee tweet but continues to attack Democrats. There have been sit-ins and sometimes arrests at the offices of Democratic senators.”
Read Milbank’s complete op-ed at the link.
I think he makes a good point. Yes, “Dreamers” have been disappointed by the Dems on many prior occasions. I get that.
But, legislation, particularly in an area as complex and controversial as immigration, takes time and some give and take. In many ways, “timing is everything.” I previously noted that right before the Christmas recess would have been a particularly inopportune time from the Dems to “draw a line in the sand,” particularly if there is still some chance of a bipartisan bill that the President will sign.
The Dreamers are surely deserving, but also in many ways fortunate that the Dems (and some GOP legislators) have now put their future as perhaps the number one “must do” on their agenda. They should be careful not to “blow it” by making life difficult for those committed to helping them.
If the DREAM Act is passed without going through the checks and balances that are provided by regular order, it will represent little more than the partisan views of those who wrote it.
. . . .
It seems somewhat hypocritical for Schumer and Pelosi to be urging the passage of a DREAM Act without going through the regular order: They have expressed outrage in the past when the Republicans have resorted to such tactics.
There is no regular order here. There are no bipartisan, public hearings on the Graham-Cassidy bill. … [I]t’s the same backroom, one-party sham of a legislative process that ultimately brought the other bill down. A contrived, 11th hour hearing on block grants in the Homeland Security Committee — a committee with such limited jurisdiction over healthcare matters — does not even come close to suggesting regular order.
And when House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) abandoned the pledge he had made to return to regular order, Pelosi responded with an angry press statement claiming that, “It has long been clear that regular order is not as important to republicans as protecting their special interest agenda.”
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Officeestimates the DREAM Act would make legal status available to 3.4 million undocumented aliens and would increase national budget deficits by $25.9 billion over the 2018-2027 period.
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 established the largest legalization program we have ever had, and it only legalized 2.7 million aliens.
The extreme generosity of the DREAM Act of 2017 is unfair to the American citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents who have unconscionably long waits to be reunited with alien family members. As of November 2017, there were 4 million aliens with approved family-based visa petitions on the visa waiting list.
. . . .
Congress needs to pass a bill to help alien children who were brought here illegally by their parents, but it should be a bill that has gone through the checks and balances of the legislative process.”
Go on over to The Hill at the link to get the full detail about Nolan’s objections to the current draft of the “Dream Act.”
The parallel between “Graham-Cassidy,” which was in fact a GOP backroom effort that totally excluded Dems from the process, and the Dream Act appears strained. Nonpartisan Dream Act negotiations are currently going on and have been for some time. Indeed, since the Dems are in the minority in both Houses, they will need some bipartisan GOP support to pass Dreamer relief. Moreover, unlike Graham-Cassidy, various versions of the Dream Act have been around and debated for years. Indeed, various bills at one time had majority support in both Houses, but GOP restrictionist maneuvering blocked them from becoming law.
The Dems had to face down some “rebellions’ from their base for going back on their word and voting to temporarily fund the USG over the Holidays. I don’t see how they can “kick the can” on the Dreamers down the road any more without some serious backlash from their own base. That’s particularly true now that the unnecessary and unwise termination of TPS for El Salvador has sowed yet more fear and unease in the immigrant and Hispanic communities.
As I’ve pointed out before, because of the “Bakuninist Wing” of the GOP, Trump isn’t going to get any type of budget without some Democratic support. Once he gets a budget, that need for “bipartisanship” might well disappear overnight. So, now is the time for the Dems to use their “leverage.”
As other commentators have noted, at one time additional border fencing was basically a “nonpartisan no-brainer.” But, by turning “The Wall” into a White Nationalist racist anti-Hispanic symbol, Trump basically has “poisoned the well” for the Democrats. Nevertheless, there might be room for some additional fencing that the Dems could characterize as “less than The Wall” while Trump could claim victory to his base. The Dems also could give on border equipment and technology as well as more administrative and legal personnel for DHS. Beyond that, the pickings are slim.
But, the GOP leaders and Trump don’t have lots of options either. They will be hard pressed to come up with a budget that satisfies Trump while still gaining sufficient support from the Bakuninists. Then, there is the problem that the budget apparently will require 60 votes in the Senate. That means that the GOP has to do at least something akin to a bipartisan deal. I’ve certainly been wrong before, but I don’t see Nolan’s idea as something the Dems can buy at this time.
I have no problem with also giving relief to family members waiting in line to immigrate. It’s not a “zero sum game” as the restrictions try to portray it. We could clearly take in more legal immigrants now and in the future; clearly we should have been doing so in the past, in which case we wouldn’t have approximately 10 million productive residents living here without legal status. But, that probably will have to await some type of overall Immigration Reform that’s unlikely to be accomplished as long as guys like Jeff Sessions, Steven Miller, and Sen. Tom Cotton are “driving the train” for the GOP on immigration.
“WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump sent senators a lengthy set of demands on Friday that could tank a deal to help Dreamers ― young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children ― and might risk a government funding agreement in the process.
The document is essentially an immigration restrictionist wish list. It calls for a border wall, more immigration enforcement agents, punishment for so-called “sanctuary cities,” restrictions on citizens and legal residents sponsoring family members’ visas, and policies to make it easier to detain and deport undocumented immigrants. No dollar amounts were included in the list of demands, but The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Friday that Trump is seeking nearly $18 billion to pay for a border wall.
Democrats and immigrant rights activists have said they won’t accept the White House’s demands in a deal to grant legal status to Dreamers, hundreds of thousands of whom are at risk of losing deportation protections because Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program.
The list could be enough to trigger a Democratic revolt on a government funding bill that needs to pass later this month, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), whose office shared the White House’s list with reporters, said in a statement.
“President Trump has said he may need a good government shutdown to get his wall,” Durbin said. “With this demand, he seems to be heading in that direction. … It’s outrageous that the White House would undercut months of bipartisan efforts by again trying to put its entire wish-list of hardline anti-immigrant bills—plus an additional $18 billion in wall funding—on the backs of these young people.”
Trump ended DACA in September and said Congress should act to give more permanent protections to recipients of the two-year work permits and deportation relief. DACA recipients will begin to lose permits in greater numbers in March, although activists estimate they’re already losing them at a rate of about 122 per day.
In the months since Trump ended the program, the White House has put out long lists of immigration priorities, and Trump has made broad pronouncements in public comments and tweets, largely focused around building a wall, ending the diversity visa lottery and eliminating so-called “chain migration,” immigration restrictionists’ preferred term for family reunification visas.
The list of demands was initially created in October, with Stephen Miller, a Trump policy adviser, listed as the author of the document, according to the properties on the PDF file. But senators didn’t get a copy until Friday.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the document.
Democrats have said they are willing to give Trump some of what he wants on border security, such as more infrastructure, technology and funds, in exchange for legal status for Dreamers. But they, and Dreamers themselves, have argued any deal must be proportional — not everything Republicans want in exchange for legal status for one subset of the undocumented population. During comprehensive immigration reform efforts in 2013, for example, Democrats agreed to an overhaul of the legal immigration system, border security measures and enforcement as part of a package that would have also granted a path to legal status and eventual citizenship for much of the undocumented immigrant population.
Democrats, activists and even some Republicans have warned that piling on more immigration issues has the potential to sink a deal — it happened during past reform efforts and could again now.
The document the White House sent to senators on Friday could indicate the administration either thinks it can get Democrats to settle because of their desire to help Dreamers, or that it doesn’t really want a deal at all.
I am not a bargaining chip for Stephen Miller’s vendetta against brown and black people. Offering up my safety in exchange for the suffering of immigrant families is sick and we won’t stand for it. Greisa Martinez Rosas, advocacy director for United We Dream
The demands include ending the diversity visa lottery and limiting refugee intake, as well as allowing citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor only minor children and spouses for green cards ― shutting out the ability to bring over adult children or siblings. Trump has disparaged both the diversity visa lottery and “chain migration” as dangerous by citing two terror incidents allegedly perpetrated by people who entered through those programs, although there is no evidence there is a greater risk of terror by immigrants with those visas.
The White House also asked for funds to hire 10,000 additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and to give local police more authority to assist with deportation efforts. Another priority is to more easily penalize “sanctuary cities,” the loose term for jurisdictions that don’t fully cooperate with immigration enforcement, often because they view it as bad for community policing or because of constitutional concerns.
The list also includes changing policies for people seeking asylum and for unaccompanied children apprehended at the border, restricting relief and making it easier to quickly deport them. It would also mandate E-Verify, a system that allows employers to check immigration status of would-be hires, something immigrant advocates and some business interests oppose because there currently is no pathway for many undocumented people in the U.S. to get status and some industries say they can’t find enough willing legal workers.
The demands include ending the diversity visa lottery and limiting refugee intake, as well as allowing citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor only minor children and spouses for green cards ― shutting out the ability to bring over adult children or siblings. Trump has disparaged both the diversity visa lottery and “chain migration” as dangerous by citing two terror incidents allegedly perpetrated by people who entered through those programs, although there is no evidence there is a greater risk of terror by immigrants with those visas.
The White House also asked for funds to hire 10,000 additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and to give local police more authority to assist with deportation efforts. Another priority is to more easily penalize “sanctuary cities,” the loose term for jurisdictions that don’t fully cooperate with immigration enforcement, often because they view it as bad for community policing or because of constitutional concerns.
The list also includes changing policies for people seeking asylum and for unaccompanied children apprehended at the border, restricting relief and making it easier to quickly deport them. It would also mandate E-Verify, a system that allows employers to check immigration status of would-be hires, something immigrant advocates and some business interests oppose because there currently is no pathway for many undocumented people in the U.S. to get status and some industries say they can’t find enough willing legal workers.”
Read the rest of Elise’s report at the link.
I think that “Dreamers” are a good place for the Dems to take a stand. And, given the “Bakuninist Wing” of the GOP (who share Trump’s desire to destroy Government, but are dissatisfied with the pace of the destruction), it’s going to be very difficult for Trump to get any type of budget passed without Democratic support.
The DHS needs an additional 10,000 agents like we all need holes in our heads. They don’t have enough legitimate law enforcement functions to perform with the staff they have; that’s why they have time for chasing after kids and stuffing their generally law-abiding parents into an already overwhelmed Immigration Court system for hearings that probably won’t take place until long after this Administration is history. (And, that’s even without Gonzo’s current “plan” which appears to be intentionally “jacking up” the Immigration Court backlog to more than 1,000,000 cases overnight by “recycling” all of the currently “administratively closed” cases!)
The words of Greisa Martinez Rosas, advocacy director for United We Dream, are worth repeating and keeping in mind:
“I am not a bargaining chip for Stephen Miller’s vendetta against brown and black people. Offering up my safety in exchange for the suffering of immigrant families is sick and we won’t stand for it.”
The outline of an immigration deal is starting to take shape in Washington after months of negotiations. Yet even as lawmakers draw close to a resolution, filling in the blanks could prove insurmountable.
Key Republican senators left a White House meeting Thursday optimistic about reaching a deal to make permanent the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — which protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation — along with some border security and immigration reforms.
But the meeting was boycotted by one Republican who is actively negotiating with Democrats, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, for not being bipartisan, and even the GOP lawmakers in the room did not all agree on how to hammer out remaining sticking points.
President Donald Trump called for a bipartisan meeting next week to follow, lawmakers said afterward, and Vice President Mike Pence personally called to invite Flake, who accepted.
Democrats, meanwhile, are keeping their options open — doubling down on bipartisan negotiations and declining opportunities to draw red lines around some of the proposals.
The shape of a deal
Republicans who were in the meeting, including Sens. John Cornyn of Texas, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma, all described a similar set of ingredients. A deal should include a resolution for DACA — which currently would be a path to citizenship for qualifying young undocumented immigrants, negotiators say — along with beefed up border security that would include physical barriers, some limits to family-based visa categories and the end of the diversity visa lottery.
But there was disagreement over what all that consists of specifically.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was at the White House meeting, and Flake — who have been negotiating intensely with Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois and Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, and Cory Gardner, a Republican — both said Thursday that the “chain migration,” or family-based migration, piece would be limited.
“We’re not going to fix it all,” Graham told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Thursday. “But the first round, there will be a down payment on breaking chain migration.”
Flake told reporters that the negotiations were settling on limiting the issue of “chain migration” to the DACA-eligible immigrants protected in the eventual deal.
But Lankford flatly rejected that approach.
“No,” he said when asked about Graham’s characterization of talks. “This has to be broader than that, because if you’re going to deal with chain migration, you deal with chain migration. … I can’t count on the fact that we’re going to do another (bill) in six months to resolve the rest of it.”
Lawmakers are discussing ending the diversity visa lottery but not erasing the 50,000 visas for legal permanent residency distributed through it annually. Graham said the deal would “use them more rationally” and Flake said it would be part of a trade for resolving a type of immigration protection for nationals of countries who suffer major disasters, which the Trump administration has moved to curtail.
And the border security piece still remained elusive, even as Trump continues to demand his wall. Lankford and Tillis made efforts to tell reporters that the “wall” piece does not mean a solid structure all the way across the entire southern border.
“That’s not what he means. That’s not what he’s tried to say — I think that’s what people are portraying it as,” Lankford said. But neither could describe what Republicans actually want out of a border deal, and they said they were still waiting for the White House to provide clarity on what it could and could not live with.
“What we did today that I thought was truly (a) breakthrough … we saw the President assume leadership on this issue beyond what he already has in terms of the message to the American people,” Tillis said. “Now it’s about the mechanics.”
Lankford said he anticipated something on “paper” from the White House by Tuesday, though lawmakers have been asking for such guidance for weeks.
Democrats, for their part, wave off Republican accusations that they are not being serious on a border security compromise as noise, pressing on in the Durbin-hosted negotiations.
“Anybody who thinks that isn’t paying attention or has their own agenda,” said a Democratic Senate aide.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer at a news conference Thursday dodged an opportunity to attack Republicans’ demands on “chain migration” and the visa lottery.
“I’m not going to negotiate in front of everyone here,” the New York Democrat said. “We’ve always said we need strong and real border security, not things that sound good but don’t do the job. And we need to help the (DACA recipients). That’s what we believe, and we will sit down with our Republican colleagues and try to negotiate.”
As a January 19 government funding deadline rapidly approaches, Democrats are still insisting a DACA deal must be had but are also continuing to hope negotiations bear fruit, alarming some progressives.
“It’s concerning that Schumer and Pelosi are not positioning and framing on this,” tweeted Center for American Progress’ Topher Spiro, speaking of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat. “They’re not setting themselves up to win public opinion and the blame game.”
In December, when Democrats helped Republicans punt the issue to January, a Senate Democratic leadership aide noted that it made no sense to force the issue when negotiations were still productive.
“I can’t imagine Sen. Schumer or Ms. Pelosi wanting to shut down the government over this issue when there is a bipartisan commitment to work on it in good faith,” Cornyn said Thursday, reiterating that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had promised Flake he would call a bill for a vote by the end of January if a compromise were reached.
Until then, 60 is the magic number — the number of votes required in the 51-49-split Senate to advance legislation.
“We got to get to 60, we’ve got to be reasonable and we’ve got to get it done,” Tillis said Wednesday.”
Meanwhile, Tal’s CNN colleague Lauren Fox tells us why some (but not all) in the GOP are “gun-shy” of involvement in immigration legislation.
“(CNN)A group of Republican senators is working alongside Democrats to try to protect hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from being deported in upcoming months, but the harsh lessons of a failed immigration reform push in 2013 loom large for a party barreling toward a midterm election.
For the last several months, familiar players in the immigration debate — South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham and Arizona’s Sen. Jeff Flake — have re-emerged, committed to finding a narrower legislative solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, a program that shielded young immigrants who came to the US illegally as children from deportation. But new faces have also joined in. Sen. James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, a state with a relatively small immigrant population, is involved, as is Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, the leader of the Senate’s campaign arm, and Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who worked as speaker of the House back in his state to pass immigration bills.
But in a climate where President Donald Trump swept the 2016 Republican primary with promises to build a wall at the southern border and applause lines to deport “bad hombres,” the politics for GOP senators involved in the negotiations are precarious. Still hanging in the backs of many members’ minds is the stark reality of what happened to a rising star in the Republican Party who stuck his neck out to fight to overhaul the country’s immigration system.
Notably absent in this debate is Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida — who spent most of his 2016 presidential campaign trying to answer for the Gang of Eight’s 2013 immigration bill. From debates to campaign ads, it was Rubio who endured the brunt of the right’s consternation.
“I frankly think Sen. Rubio would have been better off embracing and not apologizing for what we did. The Gang of Eight bill was a good bill. I think that Republicans can survive more than we think we can survive on immigration,” said Flake, who will retire at the end of his term after facing a serious primary threat. “But on this, on DACA, look at this issue. This is a 70 to 80% issue across the board. People think kids shouldn’t be punished for the actions of their parents.”
One Democratic aide suggested the lesson from 2013 wasn’t to avoid immigration reform. After all, Graham was able to run for re-election successfully in a primary in South Carolina after backing the 2013 bill. Instead, the Democratic aide said, the lesson was “if you are going to get involved in immigration, do it all the way.”
Republicans working now say the politics of immigration reform have changed drastically for the party. Many have compared Trump’s opportunity on immigration to that of former President Richard Nixon’s détente with China, and Republican lawmakers hope that if they can convince the President to endorse a bipartisan immigration bill, it will offer political cover in the midterms from a mobilized base that has long opposed anything that gives immigrants who entered the country illegally a shot at legal status.
“At the end of the day, the base needs to recognize we would do nothing the President doesn’t support and the President has strong support from the base,” Tillis said when asked why he’d ever engage in talks on immigration after watching what happens to Republicans who got involved in the Gang of Eight negotiations in 2013.
On one hand, Republicans argue that Trump gives them the flexibility to pursue protections for immigrants eligible for DACA they never could have touched when President Barack Obama was in office. If the argument during the Obama administration was the base couldn’t trust Obama to enforce immigration laws or secure the border, Republicans believe the base will follow Trump wherever he leads them on immigration.
“We all agree that this president is the first president in my adult life time who really is in a position to to deliver on the promise that every other president has made and failed to produce,” Tillis said.
Even with Trump, however, there is still a liability in jumping headfirst into immigration reform. After the President attended a dinner with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, in the fall and Democrats suggested Trump had agreed to support the DREAM Act, conservative news site Breitbart declared Trump was “Amnesty Don.”
GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a hard-liner on immigration, blasted Trump on Twitter: “@RealDonaldTrump Unbelievable! Amnesty is a pardon for immigration law breakers coupled with the reward of the objective of their crime.”
Other conservatives suggested the President had violated his promise on the campaign trail.
For now, the bipartisan effort to protect DACA recipients is far narrower than anything the Gang of Eight attempted — and the Republicans who are new to the talks insist on keeping it that way. In exchange for a potential path to citizenship for young immigrants, Republicans would get additional border security that included barriers, more personnel and technology. And anything agreed to, again, would have to have the blessing of the White House.
“I think it will be hard for Breitbart to attack Republicans who support Donald Trump’s immigration plan,” said GOP consultant and former Rubio spokesman Alex Conant.
Some also argue that DACA recipients themselves are easier to defend on the campaign trail, no matter how conservative your district is.
“I think it’s much harder to arouse hostility against the DREAMers,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told CNN. “But I also think the President is making real progress in controlling the border and dealing with illegals and going after MS-13.”
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican who has worked for years on immigration reform in the House and has seen the politics evolve, said he’s been “encouraged” by how many Republicans still want to be involved despite the risks.
“The safe thing to do is just stay away from the issue, but I have been very encouraged by the number of Republicans who want to get involved,” Diaz-Balart said.
CNN’s Tal Kopan, Ted Barrett and Phil Mattingly contributed to this report.”
No deal yet, and not clear there will be.
At some point, the GOP is going to have to start governing in the overall public interest, not just the interests of the 20-30% of voters who make up the dreaded “Trump Base.” Yeah, I understand that without the support of the “Trump Base” the GOP might revert to its proper place as a minority party. But, eventually, even the “Base,” plus gerrymandering, plus voter suppression won’t be able to save the GOP. Leaving the retrogressive policies of “the Base” behind would make the GOP more competitive with the rest of the electorate. It would also make America better and stronger, both domestically and internationally. And, assuredly, the “Trump Base” represents a “dying breed” in American politics. It’s just a question of how nasty and for how long its “death throes” will last.
“Anti-immigrant voices’ smokescreen that they were only opposed to illegal immigration has been shredded. They now revel in their calls for immigration exclusionism. If allowed to persist, it will distort and damage our economy and impede entrepreneurship. It has already encouraged a wholly-misguided approach to crime fighting.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump have concocted a theory that we are awash in crime because of illegal immigrants, especially those living in “sanctuary cities.” That is patently false, and Sessions’ efforts to punish cities that refuse to do the feds bidding in detaining and helping to deport illegal immigrant have been swatted down in court. However, the barrage of litigation over sanctuary cities and obsession with the issue has led us to ignore both the successes and failures in crime fighting — and the causes of each.
. . . .
So when Los Angeles mayors and police chiefs tell the Justice Department that making police into immigration agents will impair their community policing success and divert valuable resources, maybe we should listen to them. Conservatives used to understand that in federalism we have the “laboratories of democracy,” namely the opportunities to find through experimentation what works and what doesn’t. Rather than riding roughshod of localities, Sessions should highlight the successes of local police departments, urge others to follow suit and increase funding — rather than threaten to yank it for spurious reasons — for those localities that need it the most. Alas, his ideological fixation with demonizing illegal immigrants seems to preclude such a fact-based approach.“
Read JRube’s compleat article at the link.
As she indicates, Gonzo is undoubtedly the most “fact and law free” Attorney General in our lifetime. Almost every one of his amazingly horrible and destructive decisions is driven by deeply ingrained ideological bias. Senator Liz Warren and the others who spoke up at the confirmation hearings were right. But, the GOP Senate tuned them out. Remember that the next time you go to the polls!
But so many foreigners had flooded into the country since January, he vented to his national security team, that it was making a mockery of his pledge. Friends were calling to say he looked like a fool, Mr. Trump said.
According to six officials who attended or were briefed about the meeting, Mr. Trump then began reading aloud from the document, which his domestic policy adviser, Stephen Miller, had given him just before the meeting. The document listed how many immigrants had received visas to enter the United States in 2017.
More than 2,500 were from Afghanistan, a terrorist haven, the president complained.
Haiti had sent 15,000 people. They “all have AIDS,” he grumbled, according to one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there.
Forty thousand had come from Nigeria, Mr. Trump added. Once they had seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa, recalled the two officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive conversation in the Oval Office.
As the meeting continued, John F. Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security, and Rex W. Tillerson, the secretary of state, tried to interject, explaining that many were short-term travelers making one-time visits. But as the president continued, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Miller turned their ire on Mr. Tillerson, blaming him for the influx of foreigners and prompting the secretary of state to throw up his arms in frustration. If he was so bad at his job, maybe he should stop issuing visas altogether, Mr. Tillerson fired back.
Tempers flared and Mr. Kelly asked that the room be cleared of staff members. But even after the door to the Oval Office was closed, aides could still hear the president berating his most senior advisers.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, denied on Saturday morning that Mr. Trump had made derogatory statements about immigrants during the meeting.
“General Kelly, General McMaster, Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Nielsen and all other senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims,” she said, referring to the current White House chief of staff, the national security adviser and the secretaries of state and homeland security. “It’s both sad and telling The New York Times would print the lies of their anonymous ‘sources’ anyway.”
While the White House did not deny the overall description of the meeting, officials strenuously insisted that Mr. Trump never used the words “AIDS” or “huts” to describe people from any country. Several participants in the meeting told Times reporters that they did not recall the president using those words and did not think he had, but the two officials who described the comments found them so noteworthy that they related them to others at the time.
The meeting in June reflects Mr. Trump’s visceral approach to an issue that defined his campaign and has indelibly shaped the first year of his presidency.
Like many of his initiatives, his effort to change American immigration policy has been executed through a disorderly and dysfunctional process that sought from the start to defy the bureaucracy charged with enforcing it, according to interviews with three dozen current and former administration officials, lawmakers and others close to the process, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail private interactions.
But while Mr. Trump has been repeatedly frustrated by the limits of his power, his efforts to remake decades of immigration policy have gained increasing momentum as the White House became more disciplined and adept at either ignoring or undercutting the entrenched opposition of many parts of the government. The resulting changes have had far-reaching consequences, not only for the immigrants who have sought to make a new home in this country, but also for the United States’ image in the world.
“We have taken a giant steamliner barreling full speed,” Mr. Miller said in a recent interview. “Slowed it, stopped it, begun to turn it around and started sailing in the other direction.”
It is an assessment shared ruefully by Mr. Trump’s harshest critics, who see a darker view of the past year. Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group, argues that the president’s immigration agenda is motivated by racism.
“He’s basically saying, ‘You people of color coming to America seeking the American dream are a threat to the white people,’” said Mr. Sharry, an outspoken critic of the president. “He’s come into office with an aggressive strategy of trying to reverse the demographic changes underway in America.”
. . . .
Even as the administration was engaged in a court battle over the travel ban, it began to turn its attention to another way of tightening the border — by limiting the number of refugees admitted each year to the United States. And if there was one “deep state” stronghold of Obama holdovers that Mr. Trump and his allies suspected of undermining them on immigration, it was the State Department, which administers the refugee program.
At the department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, there was a sense of foreboding about a president who had once warned that any refugee might be a “Trojan horse” or part of a “terrorist army.”
Mr. Trump had already used the travel ban to cut the number of allowable refugees admitted to the United States in 2017 to 50,000, a fraction of the 110,000 set by Mr. Obama. Now, Mr. Trump would have to decide the level for 2018.
At an April meeting with top officials from the bureau in the West Wing’s Roosevelt Room, Mr. Miller cited statistics from the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies that indicated that resettling refugees in the United States was far costlier than helping them in their own region.
Mr. Miller was visibly displeased, according to people present, when State Department officials pushed back, citing another study that found refugees to be a net benefit to the economy. He called the contention absurd and said it was exactly the wrong kind of thinking.
But the travel ban had been a lesson for Mr. Trump and his aides on the dangers of dictating a major policy change without involving the people who enforce it. This time, instead of shutting out those officials, they worked to tightly control the process.
In previous years, State Department officials had recommended a refugee level to the president. Now, Mr. Miller told officials the number would be determined by the Department of Homeland Security under a new policy that treated the issue as a security matter, not a diplomatic one.
When he got word that the Office of Refugee Resettlement had drafted a 55-page report showing that refugees were a net positive to the economy, Mr. Miller swiftly intervened, requesting a meeting to discuss it. The study never made it to the White House; it was shelved in favor of a three-page list of all the federal assistance programs that refugees used.
At the United Nations General Assembly in September, Mr. Trump cited the Center for Immigration Studies report, arguing that it was more cost-effective to keep refugees out than to bring them into the United States.
“Uncontrolled migration,” Mr. Trump declared, “is deeply unfair to both the sending and receiving countries.”
At times, though, Mr. Trump has shown an openness to a different approach. In private discussions, he returns periodically to the idea of a “comprehensive immigration” compromise, though aides have warned him against using the phrase because it is seen by his core supporters as code for amnesty. During a fall dinner with Democratic leaders, Mr. Trump explored the possibility of a bargain to legalize Dreamers in exchange for border security.
Mr. Trump even told Republicans recently that he wanted to think bigger, envisioning a deal early next year that would include a wall, protection for Dreamers, work permits for their parents, a shift to merit-based immigration with tougher work site enforcement, and ultimately, legal status for some undocumented immigrants.
The idea would prevent Dreamers from sponsoring the parents who brought them illegally for citizenship, limiting what Mr. Trump refers to as “chain migration.”
“He wants to make a deal,” said Mr. Graham, who spoke with Mr. Trump about the issue last week. “He wants to fix the entire system.”
Yet publicly, Mr. Trump has only employed the absolutist language that defined his campaign and has dominated his presidency.
After an Uzbek immigrant was arrested on suspicion of plowing a truck into a bicycle path in Lower Manhattan in October, killing eight people, the president seized on the episode.
Privately, in the Oval Office, the president expressed disbelief about the visa program that had admitted the suspect, confiding to a group of visiting senators that it was yet another piece of evidence that the United States’ immigration policies were “a joke.”
Even after a year of progress toward a country sealed off from foreign threats, the president still viewed the immigration system as plagued by complacency.
“We’re so politically correct,” he complained to reporters in the cabinet room, “that we’re afraid to do anything.”
Read the full, much more comprehensive and detailed, article at the link.
Disturbing for sure, but unfortunately not particularly surprising for those of us who have watched the Administration roll out its toxic, ill-informed immigration policies. Perhaps ironically, while the immigration issue has certainly allowed Trump to capture and control the GOP, polls show that his extreme restrictionist, xenophobic views on immigration are generally out of line with the majority of Americans (although not necessarily the majority of GOP voters).
SEUNG MIN KIM, HEATHER CAYGLE and ELANA SCHOR 12/19/2017 08:40 PM EST
Top senactors and White House officials are laying the groundwork for a major immigration deal in January to resolve the fate of young undocumented immigrants whose legal protections were put in limbo by President Donald Trump.
At a Tuesday afternoon meeting with nearly a dozen senators deeply involved in immigration policy, White House chief of staff John Kelly pledged that the administration will soon present a list of border security and other policy changes it wants as part of a broader deal on so-called Dreamers, according to people who attended the meeting. The plan could come in a matter of days, senators said.
About a half-dozen senators have been negotiating a bipartisan package prompted by Trump’s decision to kill the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era executive action that granted work permits to nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came here as minors. Yet the senators could not fully flesh out a deal before they knew what Trump was willing to sign.
“We couldn’t finish this product, this bill, until we knew where the administration was,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has been negotiating a DACA compromise for weeks, said in an interview after the meeting with Kelly. “And that’s why this meeting was so important.”
Congressional Republicans and the White House have long said any DACA deal would need to be paired with security and other enforcement measures. Democrats say that’s fine as long as the provisions weren’t too onerous. But the border security question has been a sticking point for weeks, as senators swapped proposals without cutting a deal, so far.
And while liberal Democrats and grass-roots activists are pressuring Congress to enact permanent legal protections for Dreamers this year, both Democrats and Republicans at the meeting with Kelly said there was a consensus that legislation wouldn’t pass before lawmakers leave Washington. It was one of the clearest sign yet that a Dreamers agreement won’t, to the chagrin of liberals, come before 2018.
“Our belief is that if this matter is not resolved this week — and it’s not likely to be resolved — that come the omnibus and the caps, that we have another chance to finally come up with a bipartisan package of things to include” by mid-January, said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who also attended the meeting. “The closer we get [to the March deadline], the more nervous I get, not to mention the way these young people feel. I’m sorry that it’s taken this long.”
Flake said he believes he has a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to hold a cloture vote on the floor on an immigration deal by mid-January, before the next likely deadline to fund the government, Jan. 19.
A spokesman for McConnell did not immediately return a request for comment. But the majority leader said during a Fox News interview that he has talked about the immigration issue with his counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.
“No, we’ll not be doing DACA … this week,” McConnell said. “That’s a matter to be discussed next year. The president has given us until March to address that issue. We have plenty of time to do it.”
At the Tuesday meeting, Kelly and other administration officials went into detail about how much of the southern border is currently fenced and how much more the White House would want in exchange for a DACA deal, according to people who attended.
Senators also pressed the White House on other immigration demands, such as an overhaul of the nation’s asylum system or a change in policy toward unaccompanied minors who are apprehended at the southern border, and whether they needed to be included in the current DACA talks.
“Which of those policy items, or immigration law changes, do we need to make as part of this and what can wait for something else?” Flake said, summing up the questions from senators. “There’s a lot of nice things we need to do as part of broader comprehensive reform, but we need to have a bill in January and we need to know what has to be in it and what the administration will support.”
The bipartisan group of senators — Flake and Durbin, Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) — has discussed a legalization plan that would marry the DREAM Act, drafted by Durbin and Graham, with a more conservative proposal for Dreamers written by Tillis and Lankford, Flake said.
Those seven senators attended Tuesday’s meeting with Kelly, as did Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia.“I think what we’re trying to do is to get some clarity from the administration on what they require by way of border security and other enforcement measures,” Cornyn said as he left the meeting. “We got a promise to provide it to us and hopefully we’ll get that in short order. Maybe even this week.”
Republicans’ commitment to taking up a DACA deal next month won’t spare Democrats the fury of liberal groups that have demanded that any spending bill this year include a solution for Dreamers.
Democratic leaders have signaled that they won’t risk a government shutdown this month to secure relief for the Dreamers, though some lawmakers have vowed to withhold their votes for any must-pass funding measure without an immigration fix.
Durbin, the influential second-ranking Senate Democrat, is firmly in the camp of senators who won’t vote for a spending bill without help for Dreamers. That group also includes liberal Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Durbin was asked by reporters Tuesday if there was a divide between him and Schumer over where to draw the line on the issue, and acknowledged that there “may be.”
Schumer, for his part, put Republicans on notice Tuesday that they shouldn’t count on Democratic votes for a short-term funding package that includes just some of Democrats’ priorities — such as children’s health insurance — while leaving immigration for next year.
In the House, lawmakers, including several in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, privately say they don’t see a path to secure a legislative fix for Dreamers before the end of the year. They acknowledge that the sides are now positioning themselves for a fight in January.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) touched on dynamics during a private leadership meeting Monday night.
“We need to stick [together] and show that they need us,” said one Democratic member with knowledge of the strategy going into January. Republicans “are not going to be able to keep going on with the CRs. … Then we’re at an inflection point in January.”
That hasn’t stopped some members from making a last-ditch effort to reach a bipartisan agreement, in hopes Democrats can use it as leverage in the House if Republicans need their votes to pass a short-term funding bill later this week.
“I believe that my leadership is gonna close the deal and I have to believe that,” said CHC Chair Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), noting she’s canceled all Christmas travel to stay in Washington and work on a legislative fix.
Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) are behind one effort that would pair a proposal similar to the DREAM Act with border security, according to several members.
And the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of 48 moderate Democrats and Republicans, is preparing to publicly embrace a specific proposal in the next day or two. A subset of the group has been working for weeks to hammer out an agreement and the entire caucus planned to meet again Tuesday night.
“There’s certainly scenarios where this could get done this week. I’m not an expert on how all these pieces could unfold,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), a co-chairman of the group. “But everything is clearly on the table, which is why we think it’s important we move and move quickly here.”
Cristiano Lima contributed to this report
Ironically, as I’ve pointed out before, the controversial “Border Wall” seems to be the least overtly harmful to humans and the long-term interests of the US of the various unnecessary enforcement measures the GOP has put out there in negotiations. Yeah, it is a waste of money, a boondoggle for certain contractors, and makes us look like a nation of scared nincompoops.
But, ending normal family migration (or as GOP White Nationalists pejoratively have termed it “chain migration”), funding the “New American Gulag,” and/or providing more unneeded agents for the Trump-Sessions-Bannon “American Gestapo” all will do much more long-term damage to actual human beings and to the economic future and social fabric of our country,
Perhaps, at some better time in the future, we could pay a diverse group of native and immigrant workers to tear down “The Wall” as part of our gala Fourth of July celebration on TV. Or, it could work as part of the celebration of the birthday of President Ronald Reagan. Or, we could implode The Wall on national TV.