DREAMERS “LEFT OUT” AGAIN – CONTEMPLATE NEXT MOVE – News & Analysis From Tal @ CNN

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/10/politics/daca-left-out-what-next/index.html

The “Amazing Tal” writes:

“Washington (CNN)As the ink dried Friday on a major budget compromise deal in Congress, immigration advocates were taking stock of getting left behind — again — without a resolution for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants on the verge of losing protections.

It’s an open question if there are cards left to play in the push to enshrine the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy into law. While no advocates say they are giving up, many also openly admit that Democrats and allies gave up their best negotiating position on the issue without another clear avenue coming up.
In the meantime, a pending court decision on DACA, which President Donald Trump is terminating, means the immigrants protected by it and who mostly have never known another country than the US, won’t begin losing their protections as planned on March 5 — but their fate could be reversed at any moment by another court decision.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat who has long served as one of the most outspoken advocates in Congress for immigration reform, was pessimistic with reporters early Friday morning as Congress passed the deal with virtually every Democratic priority except DACA in it.
“No, I don’t, I don’t,” he said when asked if there was any other way Democrats could exert leverage on the issue. Gutierrez said the plan from the beginning was to either attach a DACA compromise to the must-pass budget deal or raising the debt ceiling, both of which were passed in the early morning hours Friday without DACA. Arizona Democrat Raul Grijalva called the episode “disheartening.”
close dialog
“We have decoupled the issues. Your leverage is you want them one and the same,” Gutierrez said. “Do we need a new way forward? Yeah, we’re going to figure out a new way forward.”

Step 1: Senate vote next week

There is one glimmer of hope for advocates. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made good on his promise to tee up an immigration debate on the Senate floor next week. Moments after the Senate passed the deal, McConnell filed to have a vote to open debate on an unrelated bill Monday evening — which will kick off a process where an as-yet-unknown number of amendments will be able to compete for a procedural threshold of 60 votes to then pass the Senate.
It was that promise that put in motion the deal that eventually severed DACA from other negotiations but also offers a rare opportunity for lawmakers to compete on a neutral playing field for bipartisan support.
“We’re pivoting, what can you do?” said longtime advocate Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration group America’s Voice. “We’ve had our doubts about the viability of a standalone legislative process but that’s what we’re left with, so we’re hoping to make the most of it. … That will put pressure on the President and the House to do the same.”
Already, groups of lawmakers are preparing for the floor debate, even as it remains unclear how many amendments will be offered, how debate will be structured and how long it might last.
A group of roughly 20 bipartisan senators is drafting legislation over the weekend to offer perhaps multiple amendments and potentially keep the debate focused on a narrow DACA-border security bill. Advocates on the left may offer a clean DACA fix like the Dream Act, and some on the right are drafting a version of the White House proposal that would include $25 billion for a border wall and heavy cuts to legal immigration with a pathway to citizenship — though neither is expected to have 60 votes.
“First of all, we have the Senate procedure, which is my hope. We’re working with the (bipartisan group) to see if we can come to a two-pillar solution,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who has long worked on the issue, when asked Thursday what comes next for DACA. “Hopefully we could gather 60 votes for that. And then that would be it — we’d resist everything else, any other amendments, and then go back to the House and create all the pressure in the House to make it happen.”

Step 2: Pressure Ryan

If the Senate can pass a bill, lawmakers hope Trump will fully embrace it, freeing House Speaker Paul Ryan to call it up.
Already as the budget deal was on track for passage, House advocates began a pressure campaign to urge Ryan to make a promise like McConnell — though Ryan continually demurred and insisted instead he’s committed to the issue of immigration and passing a bill the President can support.
“I think we have to be realistic,” said Arizona’s Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego. “We’re going to have to deal with reality and find whatever means possible to put pressure on Speaker Ryan and the Republican Party to bring, again, a fair vote on the Dream Act to the floor.”
“I think for me the strategy has to be pressure Ryan and bring it to the floor,” Grijalva said, adding the process should allow any proposal to vie for a majority — even if it doesn’t have a majority of Republican votes. “The Senate, when they gave up on not voting for it, at the very minimum extracted a time certain and a debate on something. We don’t even have that.”
Democrats also may have some Republican supporters in the House to pressure Ryan. A bipartisan group of lawmakers that includes two dozen Republicans sent a letter to Ryan asking to open a floor debate like McConnell.
Republican Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania said he’s been urging fellow moderates to use their numbers the way that conservatives on the right flank do.
“The Freedom Caucus has been effective because they’ll use their power of 24 (votes to deny a majority), and they take the hostage, they’ll do what they have to do,” Dent said. “I tell our members, we put our votes together, we can really direct an outcome. … I suspect if the Senate sends us a bipartisan DACA bill, that’s when we’re going to have to flex our muscles.”
But others have doubts. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a member of the bipartisan group, says he learned his lesson in 2013, when he co-authored legislation that passed the Senate with wide margins but died in the House.
“There are some who believe that if we get a bunch of votes it’ll force the House to do it. I don’t agree,” Rubio said. “We could vote on it 90-10. … This notion that the House is going to listen to what a senator tells them to do is not real.”

Step 3: Other leverage

If the legislative process can’t produce success, advocates say, they will look for any other leverage points they can.
“If that doesn’t work out, then there’s still an omnibus at the end of the day,” said Menendez, referring to the spending bills due in March to fund the government under the topline two-year budget deal passed Friday.
But Gutierrez doubted that approach — scoffing at the idea that Democrats would be taken seriously if they threatened to withhold their votes yet again without success.
“Really?” Gutierrez said about the omnibus as leverage. “Is it plausible? Is it realistic? Can you continue to threaten with something?”
Other options could include a temporary, one-year or two-year extension of DACA without a permanent solution, though lawmakers have decried that option.
Still, many aren’t ready to give up hope.
“This President clearly wants to get it done, I think the majority of Republicans want to get it done and the majority of Democrats want to get it done. Can we reach that balance? We can get there, I feel very confident we can get there,” said Florida’s Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.”
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Although it should be a “no brainer,” I’m not as confident as Rep. Diaz-Balart that this group can “get to yes.” A fair resolution of the “Dreamers” situation just isn’t very high on the GOP agenda, particularly in the House. And, both the Dreamers and the Dems are coming to grips with the obvious reality: if you want to set or control the agenda, you have to win elections!
We need Julia Preston to lock these folks in a room for awhile!
PWS
02-10-18

TAL @ CNN: GRAHAM “PESSIMISTIC” ON LONG-TERM IMMIGRATION DEAL!

Tal reports:

“Graham: ‘Increasingly pessimistic on immigration’
Tal Kopan
By Tal Kopan, CNN
Updated 4:54 PM ET, Tue February 6, 2018
lindsey graham card

Sen. Graham: We don’t need $25B for a wall 01:22
Washington (CNN)One of the strongest advocates for a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy in the Senate says he is “increasingly pessimistic” that Congress will pass a fix beyond a short-term “punt.”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, leaving a meeting of the Republican conference, that he now believes only a one- or two-year extension of the DACA program, which protects young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, is likely.
McConnell holds all the cards on next week's immigration debate, and he's not tipping his hand
McConnell holds all the cards on next week’s immigration debate, and he’s not tipping his hand
The dire prediction came from a longtime advocate of immigration reform who has been one of the strongest supporters of getting a permanent solution to DACA — and who had a confrontation with President Donald Trump about vulgar comments the President made in rejecting a bipartisan compromise Graham negotiated.
“I’m becoming increasingly pessimistic about immigration,” Graham said. “I don’t think we’re going to do a whole lot beyond something like the BRIDGE Act, which would be extend DACA for a year or two, and some border security. It’s just too many moving parts.”
Graham’s comments came before said on Tuesday he supports a government shutdown if Democrats won’t agree to tighten immigration laws, undercutting ongoing bipartisan negotiations on Capitol Hill.
Graham, who has also been a part of bipartisan Senate meetings that are seeking a compromise and who helped convince Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to promise to bring immigration to the floor in a “fair” process next week, called that option unsatisfactory but likely.
“That will be a punt, that will not be winning for the country, but that’s most likely where we’re going to go,” Graham said.”

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Read the rest of Tal’s report at the above link.

PWS

02-06-18

THE “DREAMERS’’ ARE OUR FUTURE – THEY’RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE – WE CAN DO THE SMART THING, WELCOME & INTEGRATE THEM INTO OUR SOCIETY – OR WE CAN “JERK ‘EM AROUND” THE WRONG WAY – But They’re Here To Stay, Either Way! — “What you’re seeing in the Dreamers is a reflection of the American ideals!”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/27/the-civil-rights-issue-of-our-time-how-dreamers-came-to-dominate-us-politics?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Lauren Gambino reports for The Guardian:

“In 2006, Arizona passed a ballot initiative that barred students without legal immigration status from receiving in-state tuition rates at public universities and colleges.

Dulce Matuz, an electrical-engineering major at Arizona State, ran to find her professor.

Bursting into tears, she told him something she had only ever shared with her closest friends. She was undocumented.

“It felt good to tell my story,” she told the Guardian this week. “It was like a weight had been lifted.”

The law meant Matuz would have to pay the out-of-state tuition rate, which she could not afford. But the next day, her professor gave her a flier advertising scholarships for “people in your situation”.

Matuz had thought she was the only undocumented student on one of the largest campuses in the country. She was wrong.

One by one they shed their anonymity, in effect daring law enforcement to target them.

It was a risky move, especially in a state which was then a cauldron of anti-immigrant sentiment. But the students weren’t alone. Thousands of young immigrants came forward to demand a future in the country where they were raised. Each had a name and a story.

Itzel. Irving. Allyson. Justino. Ivy. Yuridia. Luna. Jhoana. Jesus. Osmar. Christian. Indira. Karen. Reyna. Sheridan. Concepcion. Angelica. Greisa. Adrian.

Collectively, they are known as Dreamers, young people without immigration status who were brought to the US as children. Over the last decade, they’ve gone from the “shadows” to the center stage of US politics, and their fate now dangles before an irascible president and a gridlocked Congress.

‘Trump Dreamers’

In September, Donald Trump ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca), an Obama-era program that lifted the threat of deportation for Dreamers.

The administration argued that Obama had overstepped his authority. But Trump did give Dreamers a six-month grace period and called on Congress to pass legislation.

“If the Dreamers are able to lead a fight that results in a radical, nativist administration signing into law their freedom, it would be a testament only to how much moral and political power the Dreamers have built,” said Frank Sharry, a long-time advocate of immigration reform and executive director of America’s Voice.

Conservatives suggest Trump is uniquely qualified to succeed where predecessors have failed, to achieve immigration reform, precisely because of his credibility among fierce opponents of illegal immigration.

At a meeting earlier this month, for example, Trump promised to “take the heat” if Republicans passed legislation.

“President Obama tried and couldn’t fix immigration, President Bush tried and couldn’t do it,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina who is pushing bipartisan immigration reform.

Timeline

​Donald Trump and Dreamers: a timeline of mixed messages​

“I believe President Trump can. Today’s Daca recipients can be tomorrow’s Trump Dreamers.”

Polling has consistently shown that a large majority of Americans – 87% in one recent survey – support protections for Dreamers. But general anti-immigrant fervor has stalled efforts to pass legislation and conservatives remain divided over whether Dreamers should ever be allowed to be citizens.

Rounds of negotiations have yielded no solution, only a brief shutdown of the federal government during which Democrats tried to force lawmakers to extend legal status to the Dreamers.

Depending on the day, lawmakers and the president are either on the verge of striking a deal or as far apart as ever. Trump was elected after championing hard-line immigration policies but he has demanded both a “bill of love” and a border wall.

This week, the White House released a proposal that offered a pathway to citizenship for up to 1.8 million undocumented young people – in exchange for a $25bn “trust fund” for a border wall, a crackdown on undocumented migrants and changes to the migration system.

The offer did not go down well, either with Trump’s base or with progressives ranged against him. Immigration hardliners crowned Trump “Amnesty Don”. Advocates for reform rejected the offer as an attempt to seal America’s borders.

In a statement issued on Friday, Chris Murphy, a Connecticut senator, called the offer “a total non-starter” that “preyed on the worst kind of prejudice”, using Dreamers “as a bargaining chip to build a wall and rip thousands of families apart”.

Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that Daca reform had “been made increasingly difficult by the fact that [Senate minority leader] Cryin’ Chuck Schumer took such a beating over the shutdown that he is unable to act on immigration!”

Dreamers say the fight is only beginning.

Matuz became a US citizen in 2016, a decade after she “came out of the shadows”. But she still identifies strongly with her fellow Dreamers.

“We still haven’t achieved what we set out to achieve,” she said.

’They’re speaking up’

The Dreamer movement came of age during the Obama administration. But legislation to build a path to citizenship was introduced to Congress in 2001.

But after the attacks, as concerns over national security and terrorism dominated public life, the immigration debate shifted sharply. The bill stalled. It was reintroduced several times, without success.

Nonetheless, the Dreamers continued to galvanize public support. They escalated their tactics, staging sit ins and actions that risked arrest.

“There was a time when they used to be very quiet,” Durbin said recently at a rally. “Not any more. They’re speaking up and we’re proud that they are.”

The Dreamers’ fight for citizenship, Durbin has said, is the “civil rights issue of our time”.

In December 2010, the Dream Act was brought to the floor. It failed again. In 2012, months before the presidential election, Barack Obama established Daca.

Recipients had to have entered the US before their 16th birthday, which means the oldest beneficiaries are now 35.

The most common age of entry to the US was three while the median age was six, according to a report by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank in Washington.

Quick guide

What is Daca and who are the Dreamers?

Eight hundred thousand people qualified, the vast majority of them Latino, according to data from US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Nearly 80% were born in Mexico.

The largest numbers of recipients now live in California and other border states such as Texas and Arizona. They are more likely than their ineligible counterparts to hold a college degree and a higher-skilled job, according to an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute.

“What you’re seeing in the Dreamers is a reflection of the American ideals,” said Daniel Garza, president of the conservative Libre Institute, a free-market Latino advocacy group founded by the Koch brothers.

“When one breathes freedom it manifests itself. And now that these kids have a shot at directing their own future or setting a path toward their own future, let’s remove those barriers and allow them that opportunity.”

‘I’m not alone’

Over the last several months, Dreamers have been in Washington, walking the halls of Congress.

They wear light orange shirts with a comic book POW! bubble with the words: “Clean Dream Act Now.”

They sleep on church floors and friends’ couches; a few missed final exams to join protests in December, when there was a flicker of hope that legislation might receive a vote.

Greisa Martínez Rosas, 29, has been among them, leading members in song at rallies on the lawn in front of the capitol building, in between meetings with members of Congress.

She was eight when she and her father staked out a spot on the Rio Grande river and crossed from Mexico into Texas. She laid seashells to mark the place. The next day, her family swam into the United States.

Profile

Who are the Dreamers?

Fighting for a Dream Act has given her purpose, she said, and she is now advocacy and policy director at United We Dream, a national organization that campaigns for migrant rights. She has three younger sisters, one of them also undocumented.

“I am really lucky to be doing this,” she said. “It gives meaning to a lot of the pain and helps me deal with a lot of the trauma growing up undocumented.

“The reality is that I’m not alone. My story isn’t special. That’s why it’s so important that we wage this fight.”

The Dreamers rejected Trump’s latest proposal, even though it would allow a pathway to citizenship for more than twice the number of Daca recipients.

“We are not willing to accept an immigration deal that takes our country 10 steps back no matter how badly we want reprieve,” Martínez Rosas said. “That’s how much we love this country.”

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The problem isn’t the Dreamers. It’s the 13% of so of White Nationalist citizens who have forgotten their own immigrant heritage and have abandoned human decency, compassion, and common sense in the process. Unfortunately, this minority has, and continues to wield, a disproportionate share of political power.

PWS

01-27-18

 

WILLIAM SALETAN @ SLATE TELLS US WHY, IN ADDITION TO BEING A WAR HERO, RESTRICTIONIST GOP SEN. TOM COTTON IS A LIAR WHO PEDDLES A RACIALLY-CHARGED IMMIGRATION PROGRAM – HE’S ACTUALLY ONE OF THE MOST DANGEROUS & TWISTED MEN IN AMERICA! – IF HE ACHIEVES HIS AMBITION TO BECOME AMERICA’S NEXT “SPY-MASTER,” NONE OF US WILL BE SAFE!

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/01/tom-cotton-is-dangerously-deceptive.html

Saletan writes:

“Cotton Tales

Tom Cotton’s lies make him a dangerous prospect to head the CIA.

Tom Cotton, the Republican senator from Arkansas, is becoming President Trump’s right arm in the Senate. Or maybe it’s the other way around, and Cotton, a right-wing ideologue, is helping to steer the president. Either way, Trump’s behavior in the immigration debate—turning against a legislative compromise after Cotton was summoned to a White House meeting to oppose it—illustrates the young senator’s influence. In fact, Trump is said to be considering him as the next CIA director.

Cotton’s emergence is alarming. In part, that’s because what endears Cotton to Trump—and makes them particularly dangerous together—is Cotton’s unflinching willingness, in pursuit of an agenda, to say things that aren’t true.

Cotton is a veteran. He served with honor in Iraq and Afghanistan. But when he came home, he brought back the psychology of war. He treats liberals and moderates as the enemy. In 2015, he blocked one of President Obama’s ambassadorial nominees over an unrelated issue—she eventually died waiting for approval—because Cotton knew she was Obama’s friend. He depicts Obama as a traitor. Last month, Cotton said of the Iran nuclear agreement: “Barack Obama was willing to give away anything to get that deal.”

Cotton is quick to charge others with lying. Two weeks ago, he accused colleagues of floating a “disingenuous” immigration compromise. He said Democrats had “misrepresent[ed]” immigration talks. On Friday, Cotton accused Graham of conspiring with Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin: “Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin are not adversaries in negotiating. They are allies strategizing.” That line has been used exactly once before, by an anonymous member of Congress—presumably Cotton—who accused House Speaker Paul Ryan of treachery on the same issue. Tucker Carlson reported the accusation last fall:

As one of their colleagues told us just this morning, when Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan sit down to talk immigration, they aren’t opponents negotiating, they are allies strategizing … Earlier this year we had Speaker Ryan on this show and he assured us Congress would be working hard on funding the border wall. That was a lie.

In the war at home, Cotton fights for Trump. Each time he’s faced with a choice between Trump and the truth, Cotton protects Trump. Two months ago on Face the Nation, John Dickerson asked Cotton about unresolved sexual misconduct allegations against the president. Cotton brushed the allegations aside, arguing that “the American people had their say on that” when they elected Trump. Last month, when an AP reporter asked Cotton about collusion between Trump and Russia, Cotton dismissed the question, claiming that Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein had “said she’d seen no evidence of collusion.” Actually, what Feinstein had said was, “It’s an open question because there’s no proof yet that it’s happened, and I think that proof will likely come with [Special Counsel] Mueller’s investigation.”

Now Cotton is protecting Trump again. On Jan. 11, during an Oval Office meeting, Trump said he wanted fewer immigrants from “shithole” countries in Africa and Haiti and more from Norway and Asia. The president’s comments were leaked, and Durbin, who had witnessed the exchange, publicly recounted them the next day. Cotton, who had also attended the meeting, went on TV to defend Trump. He portrayed Durbin as a liar, saying Trump had never used the expletivereported by Durbin. Dickerson asked Cotton whether Trump, in the meeting, was in any way “grouping people based on the countries they came from.” Cotton denied it. He insisted that Trump had “reacted strongly against” such thinking and that “what the president said he supports is [to] treat people for who they are,” not “where they’re from.”

Cotton was lying. We know this from other Republicans who were in the meeting. On Jan. 16, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified that Trump had specifically praised Norwegians and had worried aloud about not bringing in enough Europeans. An anonymous White House official told the Washington Post that Trump, in addition, had “suggested that he would be open to more immigrants from Asian countries because he felt that they help the United States economically.” Trump also recapitulated his remarks, complaining in tweets that the U.S. “would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly.” And the Post reported that according to “three White House officials,” Cotton and his fellow immigration hard-liner, Sen. David Perdue, had later “told the White House that they heard ‘shithouse’ rather than ‘shithole,’ allowing them to deny the president’s comments on television.”

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Read the entire, eye-opening article at the link.

I’ve seen Cotton at least twice on “Meet the Press.” Each time I was impressed by the number of lies, distortions, misrepresentations, and evasions he could pack into a relatively short interview with Chuck Todd. You could tell that even the perennially affable Todd was having a hard time keeping a straight face at some of Cotton’s antics and facially absurd answers.

That this is what passes for “leadership” in today’s GOP should give us all pause.

PWS

01-25-18

WHILE MANY PAN THE DEMS FOR “FOLDING” ON SHUTDOWN, DANA MILBANK @ WASHPOST SEES HOPEFUL SIGNS FOR “GOOD GOVERNMENT!” — “[T]here is at least the potential for lawmakers to take the wheel from an erratic and dangerous driver!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/shutdown-silver-lining-senators-rediscover-their-role-and-moderation-prevails/2018/01/22/3b02db10-ffc5-11e7-9d31-d72cf78dbeee_story.html

Milbank writes:

“The head is missing, but the body is still alive.

The president killed off all attempts at compromise, then went dark after the government shut down, refusing to say what he would support on immigration or even to engage in negotiations. But in this leadership vacuum, something remarkable happened: Twenty-five senators, from both parties, rediscovered their role as lawmakers. They crafted a deal over the weekend that offers a possible path forward, and, in dramatic fashion on the Senate floor Monday, signaled the end of the shutdown with a lopsided 81-to-18 vote.

The agreement may not end in a long-sought immigration deal and a long-term spending plan. Trump could yet kill any deals they reach. And liberal interest groups are furious at what they see as a Democratic surrender. But Monday’s breakthrough shows there is at least the potential for lawmakers to take the wheel from an erratic and dangerous driver.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), announcing his deal with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on the Senate floor Monday afternoon, said he hadn’t even heard from Trump since Friday, before the government closed. “The White House refused to engage in negotiations over the weekend. The great dealmaking president sat on the sidelines,” Schumer said, adding that he reached agreement with McConnell “despite and because of this frustration.”

Looking down from the gallery Monday afternoon, I saw the sort of scene rarely observed any longer in the Capitol: bipartisan camaraderie. Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), two architects of the compromise, were talking, when McConnell, with a chipper “Hey, Chris,” beckoned him for a talk with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who soon broke off for a word with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) hobnobbed with Coons and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) put an arm around Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) as he chatted with Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). During the vote, Manchin sat on the Republican side with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sat with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Durbin marveled at the festival of bonhomie. “What I have seen here on the floor of the Senate in the last few days is something we have not seen for years,” he said.

Neither side particularly wanted this shutdown. It was the work of a disengaged president who contributed only mixed signals, confusion and sabotage. After provoking the shutdown by killing a bipartisan compromise to provide legal protection for the “dreamers” (undocumented immigrants who came as children), Trump’s political arm put up a TV ad exploiting the dreamers by saying “Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.”

Trump’s anti-immigrant ad and his racist outburst in the White House last week will only increase Republicans’ long-term political problems, but, in the short term, Republicans succeeded in portraying Democrats as shutting down the government to protect illegal immigrants. And liberal interest groups took the bait. In a conference call just before news of the deal broke Monday morning, a broad array of progressive groups — Planned Parenthood, labor unions, the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU, MoveOn and Indivisible — joined immigration activists in demanding Democrats refuse to allow the government to reopen without an immediate deal for the dreamers.”

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Read the rest of Milbank’s op-ed at the link.

I’ve said all along that there is potential for Congress to govern if McConnell, Ryan, and the rest of the GOP leadership would permit it. But, that means ditching the “Hastert Rule” (named, btw, for convicted “perv” and former GOP Speaker Denny Hastert) and thereby “PO’ing” both the “White Nationalist” and “Bakuninist Wings” of the GOP. That’s why it likely won’t happen. Because although they could govern in this manner, in coalition with many Dems, the modern GOP is beholden to both the White Nationalists and the Bakuninists to win elections and have a chance at being in the legislative majority.

In the end, if the Dems want to change the way America is governed for the better, they’re going to have to win some elections — lots of them. And, that’s not going to happen overnight. Although I can appreciate the Dreamers’ frustration, I think they would do better getting behind the Dems, and even the moderate GOP legislators who support them, rather than throwing “spitballs.”

Ironically, the disappearing breed of “GOP moderates” — who played a key role in restarting the Government — could be more effective and wield more power if they were in the minority, rather than being stuck in a majority catering to the extremest elements of  a perhaps loud, but certainly a distinct minority, of Americans!

PWS

01-23-18

KURT BARDELLA @ HUFFPOST: “Make No Mistake, Trump’s Government Shutdown Is About Racism!” — GOP LATINO LEADER AL CARDENAS SLAMS HIS PARTY’S “LACK OF EMPATHY” ON “MEET THE PRESS!”

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-bardella-government-shutdown_us_5a62d025e4b0e563006fd287

Bardella writes:

“Lost in the shitstorm over “shithole” was another equally damning example of President Donald Trump’s blatant racism and sexism. It was an outward display of a mindset that in many ways has paved the way for the government shutdown we’re facing now.

Last week, NBC News reported that last fall, the president of the United States asked a career intelligence analyst “Where are you from?” She responded, “New York,” and that should have ended the conversation. It didn’t.

He asked again, and she responded, “Manhattan.”

For those who have initiated a similar conversation, if you ask twice and you don’t get the answer you are fishing for ― just drop it. Take a hint. We don’t want to go there with you.

Trump, clearly oblivious to this social cue, follows up and asks where “your people” are from.

Finally relenting, the analyst answered that her parents are Korean. At this point, Trump, through his ignorance, has robbed this woman of all the hard work, intellect and skill she has invested into her profession by placing some artificial value on her (and her family’s) ethnicity.

Where she or her parents are from has zero bearing on her job or value. It’s one thing if someone volunteers information about their culture, background, family and upbringing. But until they do, it’s none of your business and should have no role in how you judge, evaluate and view them as professionals or human beings.

Taking it even further, Trump somehow manages to combine sexism with racism by asking why the “pretty Korean lady” wasn’t negotiating with North Korea. The insane thing about this statement is that I’m 100 percent certain that in Trump’s mind, he was paying her a compliment.

What he did was demean and insult a woman who was simply trying to do her job.

Trump owes this “pretty Korean lady” an apology for his ignorant, racist and sexist comments. I don’t think Trump realizes or cares about the consequences that his tone, tenor and words have had in the lives of people who don’t look like him.

Pretty much my entire life, I’ve been asked (primarily by white people) the question that I imagine every “Asian-looking” person cringes at inside: “Where are you from?”

In most cases, I’m certain that the person asking this is not consciously discriminatory, but rather is just completely ignorant of how annoying this question is to people who look like me. Like the career intelligence analyst attempted to do with Trump, I answered the question by saying “New York” or “California” ― where I had spent my childhood and formative years. Inevitably comes the dreaded follow-up: “No, I mean what is your background? Chinese or Japanese?

The puzzled looks I would receive when I responded: “German and Italian” were priceless but also revealing. I simply did not fit into their preordained stereotypical worldviews.

My name is Kurt (German) Bardella (Italian), and I am adopted.

For most of you out there who ask this question of people who look or sound “different,” you’re probably just genuinely curious and mean no harm. You’re just trying to start conversation.

But the case of Trump and the career intelligence professional reveals something much more offensive. It was a glimpse into the racially charged worldview that Trump subscribes to, a worldview that has infected the Republican Party and now led us to a government shutdown.

It’s the same worldview that led to his vulgarly demeaning the lives of would-be immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and nations in Africa. It’s the same worldview that has him obsessed with building a border wall to keep “bad hombres” out of the United States. And it’s the same worldview that drove him to end DACA.

Trump and his Republican enablers are so fixated on enacting these outwardly racist policies that they are willing to preside over a government shutdown to get them.

The shutdown showdown unfolding right now is about much more than government funding. It is about two different portraits representing the American identity. The Trump-GOP viewpoint sees our country as one that is, first and foremost, Caucasian. The Democratic perspective sees a diverse nation of many cultures, backgrounds, languages and customs.

That’s what we are fighting about. It may be more politically expedient for Democrats to back down, but with our national identity hanging in the balance, this is the time to take a stand.

Kurt Bardella was born in Seoul, South Korea, and adopted by two Americans from Rochester, New York, when he was three months old. He currently lives in Arlington, Virginia.

This piece is part of HuffPost’s brand-new Opinion section. For more information on how to pitch us an idea, go here.

Kurt Bardella is a media strategist who previously worked as a spokesperson for Breitbart News, the Daily Caller, Rep. Darrell Issa, Rep. Brian Bilbray and Senator Olympia Snowe.”

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One had only to listen to Senator Tom Cotton on “Meet the Press” yesterday to see how true Bardella’s commentary is. Cotton lied, obfuscated, and generally avoided answering Moderator Chuck Todd’s questions.

Then, he let loose with his biggest fabrication: that somehow legalizing the Dreamers and eventually allowing their parents to legally immigrate would “do damage” to the U.S. which would have to be “offset” by harsher, more restrictive immigration laws! So, in allowing the Dreamers, who are here doing great things for America, and somewhere down the road their parents, some of whom are also here and are also doing great things for America, to become part of our society is a justification for more racially-motivated restrictions on future immigration. What a total crock!

Cotton said:

But it gives them legal status. That’s an amnesty, by adjusting their status from illegal to legal, no matter what you call it. It didn’t give money to build any new border barriers, only to repair past border barriers. It didn’t do anything to stop chain migration. Here’s what the president has been clear on. Here’s what I and so many Senate Republicans have been clear on: we’re willing to protect this population that is in the DACA program. If we do that, though, it’s going to have negative consequences: first, it’s going to lead to more illegal immigration with children. That’s why the security enforcement measures are so important. And second, it means that you’re going to create an entire new population, through chain migration, that can bring in more people into this country that’s not based on their skills and education and so forth. That’s why we have to address chain migration as well. That is a narrow and focused package that should have the support of both parties.

Meanwhile, on Meet the Press, GOP Latino leader Al Cardenas hit the nail on the head in charging Cotton and others in the GOP with a disturbing “lack of empathy” for Dreamers and other, particularly Hispanic, immigrants:

Cardenas said:

“Excuse me, that’s right. And you know, look, for the Republican Party the president had already tested DACA. The base seemed to be okay with it. Now that things have changed to the point where this bill passes, and it should, Democrats are going to take all the credit for DACA. And we’re taking none. Stupid politics. Number two, the second part that makes us stupid is the fact that no one in our party is saying, “Look, I’m not for this bill but I’ve got a lot of empathy for these million family.” Look, I can see why somebody would not be for this policy-wise. I don’t understand it. But I can respect it. But there’s no empathy. When I saw the secretary of homeland security in front of a Senate saying she’d never met a Dreamer. And yet she’s going to deport a million people, break up all these families. Where is the empathy in my party? People, you know the number one important thing in America when somebody’s asking for a presidential candidate’s support is, “Do you care…Does he care about me?” How do we tell 50 million people that we care about them when there’s not a single word of empathy about the fate of these million people.”

Here’s the complete transcript of “Meet the Press” from yesterday, which also included comments from Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and others. Check it out for yourself, if you didn’t see it.

https://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/meet-press-january-21-2018-n839606

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Unlike Cotton and his restrictionist colleagues, I actually had “Dreamer-type” families come before me in Immigration Court. The kids eventually had obtained legal status, probably through marriage to a U.S. citizen, naturalized and petitioned for their parents.

Not only had the kids been successful, but the parents who were residing here were without exception good, hard-working, tax-paying “salt of the earth” folks.  They had taken big-time risks to find a better life for their children, made big contributions to the U.S. by doing work that others were unavailable or unwilling to do, and asked little in return except to be allowed to live here in peace with their families.

Most will still working, even if they were beyond what we might call “retirement age.” They didn’t have fat pensions and big Social Security checks coming.

Many were providing essential services like child care, elder care, cleaning, cooking, fixing, or constructing. Just the type of folks our country really needs.

They weren’t “free loaders” as suggested by the likes of Cotton and his restrictionist buddies. Although I don’t remember that any were actually “rocket scientists,” they were doing the type of honest, important, basic work that America depends on for the overall success and prosperity of our society. Exactly the opposite of the “no-skill — no-good” picture painted by Cotton and the GOP restrictionists. I’d argue that our country probably has a need for more qualified health care and elder care workers than “rocket scientists” for which there is much more limited market! But, there is no reason se can’t have both with a sane immigration policy.

PWS

01-22-18

 

 

 

TAL @ CNN SAYS “GANG OF SIX” STILL WORKING FURIOUSLY TO GET BIPARTISAN SUPPORT AS BUDGET CRISIS LOOMS EVER CLOSER!

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/18/politics/immigration-shutdown-talks/index.html

Tal reports:

“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.”

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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!

PWS

01-18-18

THE HILL: NOLAN UNIMPRESSED BY “GANG OF SIX’S” DREAMER COMPROMISE EFFORT!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/369403-gang-of-six-daca-bill-is-an-exploitative-political-statement

 

Family Pictures

Nolan writes:

“. . . .

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.”

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I probably see it more the way the Washington Post did in yesterday’s lead editorial. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ignore-the-president-vote-on-the-daca-deal/2018/01/16/55f38288-fb03-11e7-8f66-2df0b94bb98a_story.html

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.

PWS

01-18-18

 

DANA MILBANK @ WASHPOST: KIRSTJEN NIELSEN IS A BUREAUCRATIC SUPER SYCOPHANT! – Duh! Why Do You Think She Got The Job?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/this-way-madness-lies/2018/01/16/0b627fe2-fb0a-11e7-a46b-a3614530bd87_story.html

Milbank writes:

“This way madness lies.

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.”

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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.

PWS

01-17-18

 

MLK DAY 2018 — DR. KING’S DREAM OF AN AMERICA CELEBRATING EQUALITY & RACIAL HARMONY IS UNDER VICIOUS ATTACK BY TRUMP, PENCE, SESSIONS, AND A HOST OF OTHERS IN TODAY’S WHITE NATIONALIST ENABLING GOP — Who Is Going To Fight To Reclaim The Dream, & Who Is Going To “Go Along To Get Along” With The 21st Century Version Of Jim Crow?

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!.

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From the LA Times Editorial Board:

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_popover_share.aspx?guid=186bb118-702e-49a2-a52d-b8dac8aa0cc8

“50 years on, what would King think?

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.”

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See this short HuffPost video on “Why MLK’s Message Still Matters Today!”

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/martin-luther-king-jr-assassination-legacy_us_58e3ea89e4b03a26a366dd77

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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. 

Kurtis Lee reports for the LA Times:

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-pol-arpaio-latino-voters-20180114-story.html

“Yenni Sanchez had thought her work was finished.

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.

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Professor George Yancy of Emory University writing in the NY Times asks “Will America Choose King’s Dream Or Trump’s Nightmare?”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/15/opinion/martin-luther-king-trump-racism.html

Yancy writes:

“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.

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From lead columnist David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick at the NY Times we get “Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List.”

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/01/15/opinion/leonhardt-trump-racist.html

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.”

An Obsession With
Dark-Skinned Immigrants

He began his 2016 presidential campaign with a speech disparaging Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists.”

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.

Trump said a federal judge hearing a case about Trump University was biased because of the judge’s Mexican heritage.

In June 2017, Trump said 15,000 recent immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS” and that 40,000 Nigerians, once seeing the United States, would never “go back to their huts” in Africa.

At the White House on Jan. 11, Trump vulgarly called forless immigration from Haiti and Africa and more from Norway.”

The disgusting list goes on and on. Go to the link to get it all!

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Also at the NY Times, Charles M. Blow states what by now should have become obvious to the rest of us: “Trump Is A Racist. Period.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/14/opinion/trump-racist-shithole.html

Blow writes:

“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.

Those are just facts, supported by the proof of the words that keep coming directly from him. And, when he is called out for his racism, his response is never to ameliorate his rhetoric, but to double down on it.

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.

 

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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.” 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/we-could-be-a-much-better-country-trump-makes-it-impossible/2018/01/14/84bff6dc-f7d4-11e7-b34a-b85626af34ef_story.html?utm_term=.c2151ab89a3c

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.

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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.”

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2018/01/15/president-trump-false-claims-first-year-washington-post.cnn

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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)!

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/this-is-the-violent-and-tragic-reality-of-deportation_us_5a58eeade4b03c41896545f2

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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.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/15/dreamers-policy-progress-and-disaster-has-become-a-pattern-trump

Sabrina writes:

“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.

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Finally, John Blake at CNN tells us “Three ways [you might not know] MLK speaks to our time.”

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/12/us/mlk-relevance-today/index.html

“(CNN)“Every hero becomes a bore at last.”

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:
. . . .
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.
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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! 
PWS
01-15-18

NY TIMES: YES, HE’S A RACIST! — AND THE GOP ENCOURAGES/ENABLES HIM! – NOBODY IS GOING TO “SAVE” US FROM TRUMP & THE GOP IF WE DON’T!

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/12/opinion/trump-racist.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region&_r=0

David Leonhardt writes in the NY Times:

“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:

• Trump’s real-estate company was sued twice by the federal government in the 1970s for discouraging the renting of apartments to African-Americans and preferring white tenants, such as “Jews and executives.”

• He spent years claiming that the nation’s first black president was born not in the United States but in Africa, an outright lie that Trump still has not acknowledged as such.

• He began his 2016 presidential campaign by disparaging Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists.”

• He has retweeted white nationalists without apology.

• 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.

If you think this list is incomplete, email me at Leonhardt@nytimes.com.

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.”

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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.

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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.

PWS

01-12-18

OUR TOTALLY UNHINGED, RACIST PRESIDENT — FIRST HE MADE RACIALLY DEROGATORY REMARKS; THEN, AS USUAL, HE LIED ABOUT IT! — Get the Inside Dope From Sen. Dick Durbin About The Outrageous Behavior In The Oval Office — GOP “End Chain Migration Demand” Exposed As Part Of White Nationalist Restrictionist Agenda Aimed At Blacks, Latinos, & Other Minorities!

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/durbin-trump-shithole_us_5a58c7ffe4b02cebbfdb29c8?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Elise Foley reports for HuffPost:

“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.

PWS

01-12-18

 

THE HILL: NOLAN SAYS THAT ANY DREAMER LEGISLATION MUST BE “FULLY VETTED!”

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/367744-democrats-out-of-order-on-dream-act?rnd=1515255525

 

Family Pictures

Nolan writes (in part):

“. . . .

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.

For instance, when Republicans tried to rush the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill through the Senate to repeal the Affordable Care Actwithout going through the regular order, Schumer made the following statement on the floor of the Senate:

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.

So, stay tuned, we’ll see how this all plays out.

 

PWS 01-08-18

 

 

 

INSIDE THE LATEST DACA NEGOTIATIONS WITH TAL @ CNN—PLUS LAUREN FOX ON WHY SOME IN GOP FEAR THE “RUBIO EXAMPLE” ON IMMIGRATION!

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/05/politics/daca-trump-congress-next-steps/index.html

“By Tal Kopan, CNN

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 hedge

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.

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/05/politics/republicans-immigration-daca-fight-2013/index.html

“(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.
close dialog

“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.

***********************************

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.

PWS

01-05-17

THE NY TIMES TAKES YOU INSIDE THE “NERVE CENTER” OF THE WHITE NATIONALIST EMPIRE: TRUMP’S “GONZO” IMMIGRATION POLICIES DRIVEN BY XENOPHOBIA, RACISM, IRRATIONAL FEAR, FAKE NEWS, MISINFORMATON, AND BIAS! – Trump & Cronies Deny Our Nation’s Immigrant Past While Seeking To Destroy Our Future As A Powerful and Diverse Democracy!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/23/us/politics/trump-immigration.html?_r=0

 

Michael D. Shear & Julie Hirschfield Davis report for the NY Times:

“WASHINGTON — Late to his own meeting and waving a sheet of numbers, President Trump stormed into the Oval Office one day in June, plainly enraged.

Five months before, Mr. Trump had dispatched federal officers to the nation’s airports to stop travelers from several Muslim countries from entering the United States in a dramatic demonstration of how he would deliver on his campaign promise to fortify the nation’s borders.

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.

How We Reported This Story

The Times conducted over three dozen interviews with current and former administration officials, lawmakers and others close to the process.

Seizing on immigration as the cause of countless social and economic problems, Mr. Trump entered office with an agenda of symbolic but incompletely thought-out goals, the product not of rigorous policy debate but of emotionally charged personal interactions and an instinct for tapping into the nativist views of white working-class Americans.

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.”

. . . .

As the new year approached, officials began considering a plan to separate parents from their children when families are caught entering the country illegally, a move that immigrant groups called draconian.

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).

PWS

12-23-17