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 migrants); “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, money for building a wall and expanding prisons for non-criminal migrants, a/k/a/ “The New American Gulag”) 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

DANA MILBANK @ WASHPOST: “DREAMERS” NEED TO “COOL IT” AND STOP ATTACKING THEIR ALLIES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dreamers-need-to-get-out-of-their-own-way/2018/01/09/85a999a4-f58b-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html?utm_term=.4494c7762a33

Milbank writes:

“Once again, the left is eating its own.

Democrats are in a good position as they negotiate with President Trump and the congressional majority over their legislative priorities for the next couple of months: children’s health care, nondefense spending, disaster relief and legalization of the “dreamers,” that group of immigrants brought here illegally as children. They also are within reach of retaking both chambers of Congress in November.

But the dreamers have decided to give the Democrats a rude awakening.

When lawmakers reached a short-term, bipartisan deal last month to keep the government funded, United We Dream, the organization leading the campaign to legalize the dreamers, launched an all-out attack on Democrats for failing to insist that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals legislation be included in the spending bill.

The group declared the 17 Senate Democrats who voted for the bill the “Deportation Caucus” and, in a social-media barrage, said they “voted to deport young immigrants.”

United We Dream also fired off a tweet praising conservative Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) “for voting NO on a spending bill that did not include a Dream Act. We see your commitment and we need you to continue fighting with young immigrants!”

This is bonkers.

Democrats — in and out of the supposed “Deportation Caucus” — support legalizing the dreamers. And Lee? His opposition to the spending bill had nothing to do with dreamers. He had called DACA “an illegal abuse of executive power.” Meanwhile, Trump, who created the artificial crisis by announcing he would end DACA, gets away with barely a scratch.

United We Dream deleted the pro-Lee tweet but continues to attack Democrats. There have been sit-ins and sometimes arrests at the offices of Democratic senators.”

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

Read Milbank’s complete op-ed at the link.

I think he makes a good point. Yes, “Dreamers” have been disappointed by the Dems on many prior occasions. I get that.

But, legislation, particularly in an area as complex and controversial as immigration, takes time and some give and take. In many ways, “timing is everything.” I previously noted that right before the Christmas recess would have been a particularly inopportune time from the Dems to “draw a line in the sand,” particularly if there is still some chance of a bipartisan bill that the President will sign.

The Dreamers are surely deserving, but also in many ways fortunate that the Dems (and some GOP legislators) have now put their future as perhaps the number one “must do” on their agenda. They should be careful not to “blow it” by making life difficult for those committed to helping them.

PWS

01-10-18

 

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

POLITICO: Agreement On Dreamer Relief Still Likely, But Not This Year!

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/19/senate-white-house-trump-lay-groundwork-for-daca-deal-30

SEUNG MIN KIM, HEATHER CAYGLE and ELANA SCHOR 12/19/2017 08:40 PM EST
Top senactors and White House officials are laying the groundwork for a major immigration deal in January to resolve the fate of young undocumented immigrants whose legal protections were put in limbo by President Donald Trump.

At a Tuesday afternoon meeting with nearly a dozen senators deeply involved in immigration policy, White House chief of staff John Kelly pledged that the administration will soon present a list of border security and other policy changes it wants as part of a broader deal on so-called Dreamers, according to people who attended the meeting. The plan could come in a matter of days, senators said.

About a half-dozen senators have been negotiating a bipartisan package prompted by Trump’s decision to kill the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era executive action that granted work permits to nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came here as minors. Yet the senators could not fully flesh out a deal before they knew what Trump was willing to sign.

“We couldn’t finish this product, this bill, until we knew where the administration was,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has been negotiating a DACA compromise for weeks, said in an interview after the meeting with Kelly. “And that’s why this meeting was so important.”

Congressional Republicans and the White House have long said any DACA deal would need to be paired with security and other enforcement measures. Democrats say that’s fine as long as the provisions weren’t too onerous. But the border security question has been a sticking point for weeks, as senators swapped proposals without cutting a deal, so far.

And while liberal Democrats and grass-roots activists are pressuring Congress to enact permanent legal protections for Dreamers this year, both Democrats and Republicans at the meeting with Kelly said there was a consensus that legislation wouldn’t pass before lawmakers leave Washington. It was one of the clearest sign yet that a Dreamers agreement won’t, to the chagrin of liberals, come before 2018.

“Our belief is that if this matter is not resolved this week — and it’s not likely to be resolved — that come the omnibus and the caps, that we have another chance to finally come up with a bipartisan package of things to include” by mid-January, said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who also attended the meeting. “The closer we get [to the March deadline], the more nervous I get, not to mention the way these young people feel. I’m sorry that it’s taken this long.”

Flake said he believes he has a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to hold a cloture vote on the floor on an immigration deal by mid-January, before the next likely deadline to fund the government, Jan. 19.

A spokesman for McConnell did not immediately return a request for comment. But the majority leader said during a Fox News interview that he has talked about the immigration issue with his counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

“No, we’ll not be doing DACA … this week,” McConnell said. “That’s a matter to be discussed next year. The president has given us until March to address that issue. We have plenty of time to do it.”

At the Tuesday meeting, Kelly and other administration officials went into detail about how much of the southern border is currently fenced and how much more the White House would want in exchange for a DACA deal, according to people who attended.

Senators also pressed the White House on other immigration demands, such as an overhaul of the nation’s asylum system or a change in policy toward unaccompanied minors who are apprehended at the southern border, and whether they needed to be included in the current DACA talks.

“Which of those policy items, or immigration law changes, do we need to make as part of this and what can wait for something else?” Flake said, summing up the questions from senators. “There’s a lot of nice things we need to do as part of broader comprehensive reform, but we need to have a bill in January and we need to know what has to be in it and what the administration will support.”

The bipartisan group of senators — Flake and Durbin, Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) — has discussed a legalization plan that would marry the DREAM Act, drafted by Durbin and Graham, with a more conservative proposal for Dreamers written by Tillis and Lankford, Flake said.

Those seven senators attended Tuesday’s meeting with Kelly, as did Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia.“I think what we’re trying to do is to get some clarity from the administration on what they require by way of border security and other enforcement measures,” Cornyn said as he left the meeting. “We got a promise to provide it to us and hopefully we’ll get that in short order. Maybe even this week.”

Republicans’ commitment to taking up a DACA deal next month won’t spare Democrats the fury of liberal groups that have demanded that any spending bill this year include a solution for Dreamers.

Democratic leaders have signaled that they won’t risk a government shutdown this month to secure relief for the Dreamers, though some lawmakers have vowed to withhold their votes for any must-pass funding measure without an immigration fix.

Durbin, the influential second-ranking Senate Democrat, is firmly in the camp of senators who won’t vote for a spending bill without help for Dreamers. That group also includes liberal Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Durbin was asked by reporters Tuesday if there was a divide between him and Schumer over where to draw the line on the issue, and acknowledged that there “may be.”

Schumer, for his part, put Republicans on notice Tuesday that they shouldn’t count on Democratic votes for a short-term funding package that includes just some of Democrats’ priorities — such as children’s health insurance — while leaving immigration for next year.

In the House, lawmakers, including several in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, privately say they don’t see a path to secure a legislative fix for Dreamers before the end of the year. They acknowledge that the sides are now positioning themselves for a fight in January.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) touched on dynamics during a private leadership meeting Monday night.

“We need to stick [together] and show that they need us,” said one Democratic member with knowledge of the strategy going into January. Republicans “are not going to be able to keep going on with the CRs. … Then we’re at an inflection point in January.”

That hasn’t stopped some members from making a last-ditch effort to reach a bipartisan agreement, in hopes Democrats can use it as leverage in the House if Republicans need their votes to pass a short-term funding bill later this week.

“I believe that my leadership is gonna close the deal and I have to believe that,” said CHC Chair Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), noting she’s canceled all Christmas travel to stay in Washington and work on a legislative fix.

Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) are behind one effort that would pair a proposal similar to the DREAM Act with border security, according to several members.

And the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of 48 moderate Democrats and Republicans, is preparing to publicly embrace a specific proposal in the next day or two. A subset of the group has been working for weeks to hammer out an agreement and the entire caucus planned to meet again Tuesday night.

“There’s certainly scenarios where this could get done this week. I’m not an expert on how all these pieces could unfold,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), a co-chairman of the group. “But everything is clearly on the table, which is why we think it’s important we move and move quickly here.”

Cristiano Lima contributed to this report

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

Ironically, as I’ve pointed out before, the controversial “Border Wall” seems to be the least overtly harmful to humans and the long-term interests of the US of the various unnecessary enforcement measures the GOP has put out there in negotiations. Yeah, it is a waste of money, a boondoggle for certain contractors, and makes us look like a nation of scared nincompoops.

But, ending normal family migration (or as GOP White Nationalists pejoratively have termed it “chain migration”), funding the “New American Gulag,” and/or providing more unneeded agents for the Trump-Sessions-Bannon “American Gestapo” all will do much more long-term damage to actual human beings and to the economic future and social fabric of our country,

Perhaps, at some better time in the future, we could pay a diverse group of native and immigrant workers to tear down “The Wall” as part of our gala Fourth of July celebration on TV.  Or, it could work as part of the celebration of the birthday of President Ronald Reagan. Or, we could implode The Wall on national TV.

PWS

12-20-17

 

 

 

COVER UP: ADMINISTRATION TRIES TO “DEEP SIX” DHS IG REPORT SHOWING INCOMPETENCE AND LAWLESSNESS SURROUNDING IMPLEMENTATION OF TRAVEL BAN!

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/20/homeland-security-travel-ban-253902

“The Department of Homeland Security’s official watchdog is accusing his own agency of slow-walking the public release of a report about confusion that ensued earlier this year after President Donald Trump issued his first travel ban executive order.

The still-unreleased inspector general report found that senior managers at Customs and Border Protection were “caught by surprise” by Trump’s order and that agency officials “violated two court orders” limiting implementation of Trump’s directive to suspend travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries, according to a letter sent to lawmakers Monday and obtained by POLITICO.

The report’s conclusions appear to be sharply in tension with the picture the White House tried to paint of the execution of Trump’s Jan. 27 order, which led to confusion throughout the air travel system, protests at airports and delays at ports of entry to the U.S.

“It really is a massive success story in terms of implementation on every single level,” a senior administration official told reporters two days after Trump ordered the move.

The unusual missive to Congress on Monday from Inspector General John Roth said his 87-page report was sent to DHS leadership Oct. 6, but officials have declined to authorize its release over the past six weeks.

Roth said officials informed his office that the report is under review for information that may be subject to attorney-client privilege or to a privilege protecting the agency’s “deliberative process.”

“I am very troubled by this development,” Roth wrote, referring to the deliberate process claim. “This is the first time in my tenure as Inspector General that the Department has indicated that they may assert this privilege in connection with one of our reports or considered preventing the release of a report on that basis. In fact, we regularly have published dozens of reports that delve into the Department’s rationale for specific policies and decisions, and comment on the basis and process on which those decisions were made.”

Asked about Roth’s letter, DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton defended the department’s handling of the report, as well as the travel ban Trump ordered Jan. 27.

. . . .

Despite the lack of permission to release the report, Roth’s seven-page letter does outline its key findings. He suggests that while most Customs and Border Protection staffers did their best to implement the policy humanely, the lack of advance notice caused significant problems and led to a lack of clarity on key issues, including whether so-called green card holders were covered by the ban.

“During the early period of the implementation of the order, neither CBP nor the Department was sure of the answers to basic questions as to the scope of the order, such as whether the order applied to Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), a significant percentage of the affected travelers and a fundamental question that should have been resolved early in the process,” Roth wrote.

The IG review compliments CBP personnel at various ports, saying many used their own funds to buy food and water for travelers delayed by the policy. The report also finds that officers generally complied with court orders that were quickly issued freezing efforts to expel travelers from the U.S.

However, Roth said CBP defied court orders by providing guidance to airlines not to allow travelers from certain countries to board flights bound for the U.S.

“While CBP complied with court orders at U.S. ports of entry with travelers who had already arrived, CBP was very aggressive in preventing affected travelers from boarding aircraft bound for the United States, and took actions that, in our view, violated, two separate court orders,” he wrote.

Records obtained by POLITICO through an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit underscore concerns by DHS personnel that there was no clear guidance about how to interpret the first order.

“We got a memo from the White House saying one thing and now the Press Secretary said another,” a senior CBP official wrote to an American Airlines executive in a Feb. 1 email explaining why the agency just abruptly withdrew guidance sent to major international air carriers.

Former Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwich said a letter like Roth’s is a rarity, but so is an agency trying to block disclosure of a report on the grounds being cited by DHS.

“It’s quite unusual. If agencies asserted these privileges as broadly as the letter says DHS is doing in this case, the ability of IGs to investigate important matters would be significantly compromised,” Bromwich told POLITICO. “In my tenure as IG, I don’t recall any instances in which the attorney-client or deliberative privileges were invoked by DOJ.”

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

Read the full report at the link.

Pretty typical Trump Administration stuff.

PWS

11-21-17

GONZO’S WORLD: THE “KING OF OBFUSCATION” “STONEWALLS” THE US SENATE! — “He Don’t Know Nothin’ ‘Bout Nothin’” — But He Can’t Tell You Why He Can’t Talk About Why He Doesn’t Know! — And, He Bristles With Righteous Indignation If Anyone Accuses Him Of Not Being Very Forthcoming!

What Jeff Sessions wouldn’t say was more revealing than what he did
How the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Jeff Sessions

THE BIG IDEA: Jeff Sessions was the personification of a hostile witness whenever a Democratic lawmaker questioned him during a contentious five-hour oversight hearing on Wednesday.

The attorney general set the tone early in his first appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee since his January confirmation. “I can neither assert executive privilege nor can I disclose today the content of my confidential conversations with the president,” Sessions said in his opening statement.

There were several yes-or-no questions that should have been easy for Sessions to answer, but he refused. Sometimes what someone will not say is more interesting than what they do.

THE SPECIAL COUNSEL:

— Sessions said he has not been interviewed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. But has his team requested an interview? “I don’t think so,” the attorney general told Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), reflecting the cautiousness he showed all day. “I don’t know … I don’t want to come in here and be trapped. … I will check and let you know.” Later, Sessions announced: “My staff handed me a note that I have not been asked for an interview at this point.”

— The attorney general declined to express personal confidence in Mueller, a former FBI director: “I think he will produce the work in a way he thinks is correct and history will judge,” Sessions said.

— He also declined to say whether he would resign if President Trump tried to fire Mueller. Sessions said getting rid of Mueller would be up to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein because he has recused himself. (Rosenstein was interviewed by Mueller’s team this summer.)

Sessions says he can’t disclose ‘confidential conversations’ with Trump

“THE CLOUD”:

— Sessions declined to discuss anything the president told him before firing James Comey. He pointedly refused to answer multiple questions about whether Trump told him that getting rid of the FBI director would “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation. “I do not confirm or deny the existence of any communication with the president,” Sessions replied. Yet he didn’t hesitate to defend the president’s dubious rationale for axing Comey, which was the former FBI director’s alleged mishandling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

— If Trump hadn’t mentioned “the cloud,” why not just say so? In sworn testimony this June, Comey recounted a phone call he received from Trump at the FBI on March 30: “He described the Russia investigation as ‘a cloud’ that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to ‘lift the cloud.’ … He finished by stressing ‘the cloud’ was interfering with his ability to make deals for the country and said he hoped I could find a way to get out that he wasn’t being investigated.”

Trump called again on April 11 to ask for an update on when Comey was going to announce publicly that he was not personally under investigation. “I replied that I had passed his request to the Acting Deputy Attorney General, but I had not heard back,” the former FBI director said. “He replied that ‘the cloud’ was getting in the way of his ability to do his job. … That was the last time I spoke with President Trump.”

— Sessions also would not say whether he was aware of Trump’s draft letter detailing some of the real reasons that he wanted to remove Comey, which Mueller has been reviewing.

Donald Trump and Joe Arpaio campaign together in Iowa last year. (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)

Donald Trump and Joe Arpaio campaign together in Iowa last year. (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)

PARDONS:

— Can the president pardon someone under investigation by Mueller before they’ve been charged? “Well, the pardon power is quite broad,” Sessions replied. “I have not studied it. I don’t know whether that would be appropriate or not, frankly.” Pressed further, he added later: “My understanding is a pardon can be issued before a conviction has occurred.” (He said that he’d like to reply with more detail in writing. That was one of his go-to lines throughout the day, though Democrats have complained for months that the Justice Department doesn’t respond to their letters.)

— Could the president pardon himself? Sessions again said he hadn’t studied the issue.

— Did Trump discuss pardoning Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio with Sessions before he announced it? “I cannot comment on the private conversations I’ve had with the president,” he replied.

— What was the process that led to Arpaio’s pardon? “I don’t know that I remember or I know it precisely,” Sessions dodged.

Sessions: ‘I don’t know that I can make a blanket commitment’ to not jail reporters

JAILING REPORTERS:

— Will he commit to not putting reporters in jail for doing their jobs? “Well, I don’t know that I can make a blanket commitment to that effect,” Sessions replied to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). “But I would say this: We have not taken any aggressive action against the media at this point. But we have matters that involve the most serious national security issues, that put our country at risk, and we will utilize the authorities that we have, legally and constitutionally, if we have to.”

Durbin slams Sessions for wanting safer cities, withholding police grants

LGBT DISCRIMINATION:

— Two weeks ago, Sessions sent a memo to all federal agencies on “protections for religious liberty.” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked about it: “Could a Social Security Administration employee refuse to accept or process spousal or survivor benefits paperwork for a surviving same-sex spouse?

After four seconds of silence, Sessions replied: “That is something I have never thought would arise, but I would have to give you a written answer to that, if you don’t mind.”

Durbin followed up: Would the guidance Sessions released permit a federal contractor to “refuse to provide services to LGBTQ people, including in emergencies, without risk of losing federal contracts?”

“I’m not sure that is covered by it,” Sessions said, “but I will look.”

“The questions were hardly out of left field — or unfamiliar to the Justice Department,” BuzzFeed notes, adding that the Justice Department has been declining to answer them for weeks.

— The evasiveness played out on a host of other policy questions:

Did Sessions talk with the Texas attorney general about DACA before convincing Trump to end the program? He said such a conversation, if it happened, would be tantamount to “work product” and thus privileged.

Is there any evidence to support Trump’s claim on Monday that the Cuban government was behind the sonic attacks on U.S. diplomats in Havana? “I’m just not able to comment,” Sessions replied.

Democrats noted that Sessions, when he was a member of the committee, would never have tolerated one of Barack Obama’s appointees being so evasive.

— Republicans mostly rallied to Sessions’s defense. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, noted that Eric Holder refused to turn over documents relating to the Fast and Furious program by asserting executive privilege. Though, Grassley added, “The American people have a right to know why (Comey) was fired.”

Jeff Sessions testifies. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Jeff Sessions testifies. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Sessions stumbles through questions about communicating with Russia

RUSSIA CONTACTS:

— The main headline out of the hearing is that the nation’s chief law enforcement officer is still getting his story straight on his interactions with the Russians: “Sessions offered a slightly new wrinkle Wednesday, asserting that he may have discussed Trump campaign policy positions in his 2016 conversations with (Ambassador Sergey) Kislyak,” Matt Zapotosky, Sari Horwitz and Devlin Barrett report. “The attorney general said it was ‘possible’ that ‘some comment was made about what Trump’s positions were,’ though he also said, ‘I don’t think there was any discussion about the details of the campaign.’The Post reported in July that Kislyak reported back to his superiors in the Kremlin that the two had discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow. Sessions has previously said he did not ‘recall any specific political discussions’ …”

— Another significant admission: Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) asked whether the U.S. government is doing enough to prevent Russian interference in future elections. “We’re not,” Sessions responded.

— In the testiest exchange of the day, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) sparred with Sessions over whether he told the truth during his confirmation hearing:

Al Franken Cross-Examines Jeff Sessions On Lying About Russian Meeting

HOW IT’S PLAYING:

— On the left:

  • Slate: “Jeff Sessions Is Using Phony Executive Privilege to Shield Trump, and GOP Senators Are Letting Him.”
  • Esquire: “Jeff Sessions Is Not Donald Trump’s Lawyer. And that suggestion could be a license for corruption.”
  • Mother Jones: “Justice Department Has Communicated With Controversial Election Commission, Sessions Confirms. The revelation fuels concerns over voter suppression efforts and could raise legal questions.”
  • The Nation: “Jeff Sessions Keeps Lying to the Senate. Sessions once claimed he never met with the Russians. Well, sorta, kinda, maybe. It depends…”
  • Los Angeles Times editorial page: “Trump and Sessions are still telling different stories about Comey.”

— On the right:

  • Daily Caller: “Sessions Admits The Wall Won’t Run Full Length Of The Border.”
  • Breitbart: “Sessions: ‘We’re Not’ Doing Enough to Prepare for Future Info Interference By Russia and Other Countries.”
  • Fox News: “Sessions tangles with Durbin over Chicago violence.”
  • Washington Examiner: “Sessions is confident Trump’s travel ban will win in Supreme Court.”
  • Washington Free Beacon: “Franken, Sessions Spar Over Time Restrictions During Russia Hearing: ‘No, No, No.’”

— All politics is local:

Here’s a link to Hohmann’s complete rundown, which contains lots of other news beyond today’s “Gonzo Report:”

https://s2.washingtonpost.com/camp-rw/?e=amVubmluZ3MxMkBhb2wuY29t&s=59e886a9fe1ff6159ed350e0

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

Gonzo would have been a “perfect fit” in the Nixon Administration which gave birth to the term, “stonewalling!”

Let’s see, Gonzo’s “progressed” from saying under oath that he had no contact whatsoever with any Russians during the campaign, to later “clarifying” that he met with none other than the Russian Ambassador during the campaign (while at least implying that these meetings were in his capacity as a Senator, not a campaign official), to saying that he “may have discussed Trump campaign policy positions in his 2016 conversations with (Ambassador Sergey) Kislyak.” Gosh, that sounds to me like enough to sustain an “adverse credibility finding” in U.S. Immigration Court if said by an immigrant!

But, Gonzo says it’s all the fault of bullies like Sen. Al Franken for springing “trick” questions on him. After all, who would have thought that a major figure in the Trump Campaign (one of his earliest, most vocal, and proudest supporters) would be asked nasty questions about the Russia probe?

Gonzo basically refused to discuss the dark implications of his war on LGBTQ Americans, while allowing as how he might target reporters in the future (this Dude recently made speeches on the First Amendment?) if necessary to stop national security leaks.

And, on DACA, Tal Kopan reports for CNN:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions told senators they have an “opportunity to do something historic” on immigration on Wednesday as he was pressed repeatedly on the administration’s move to terminate a popular protection for young undocumented immigrants.

“We have got to have more than just an amnesty,” Sessions said in his opening remarks. “We need a good improvement in the illegality that’s going on, and there is an opportunity right now, I’m telling you, an opportunity to do something historic.”

Despite multiple follow-ups, Sessions did not diverge much from the remarks, repeatedly telling lawmakers the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was in their hands.

Testifying before the Senate judiciary committee, the longtime immigration hardliner was asked by senators from both parties about the administration’s plans for DACA, which President Donald Trump has opted to end, citing Sessions’ recommendation.

. . . .

Sessions did not lay out details of what the administration may want to do for the Obama-era program, which protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation. Sessions has long railed against the program and once again expressed his belief that the executive action was unconstitutional.

Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, though, who has pursued legislation that would offer DACA-like protections for nearly two decades, pressed Sessions on how he could recommend to Trump that the program is unconstitutional and would be found the same in the courts when the Justice Department still maintains a 2014 Office of Legal Counsel memo on its website that found DACA would be constitutional.

“I believe this is accurate, that the so-called approval of DACA by OLC, Office of Legal Counsel, was based on the caveat or the requirement that any action that’s taken be done on an individual basis,” Sessions said, then appeared to mix up court precedent on the issue.

Sessions said a court had struck down the program because individual decisions were not made, but was seemingly referring to a decision made about an expansion of the program to parents. Courts have not found DACA to be unconstitutional to date. 

Durbin noted that each DACA applicant is evaluated individually. All go through background checks before receiving the two-year permits.

Growing frustrated at Session’s answers, Durbin referenced his former colleague’s past on the other side of the dais. “I believe this is just about the moment that Sen. Sessions would have blown up,” Durbin said. 

Later in the hearing, Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono, also a lawyer, asked Sessions if he considered any due process or “bait and switch” issues in recommending the program be ended, since DACA recipients willingly gave the Department of Homeland Security their information in exchange for protection when the program was created. Sessions said he didn’t believe it was discussed.

“It’s a valid issue,” Sessions said. “You’re right to raise it.”

But when Hirono pressed Sessions on what might happen to the individuals covered under the program if it ends in six months, Sessions deflected.

“The answer to that is in your hands,” he said. “Congress has the ability to deal with this problem in any number of ways.” He reiterated he did not support “simply an amnesty” without additional anti-illegal immigration measures, but said “if we work together, something can be done on that.”

Here’s the link to Tal’s report:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/18/politics/jeff-sessions-hearing-daca-remarks/index.html

In other words, Sessions continued to assert his conclusory, essentially “law free” position that DACA is unconstitutional. He didn’t even know which case he was wtalking about (and it’s not that he didn’t have any idea that Durbin and others were going to quiz him on DACA). At the same time, he can’t bring himself to acknowledge that the DACA young people have been a great boon to the US and to our economy and that they deserve a path to citizenship. Indeed, if Gonzo had his way and the “Dreamers” were actually removed from the US, it would actually “TANK” our economy by reducing our GNP by nearly one-half trillion dollars! See CNBC, John W. Schoen, “DACA deportations could cost US economy more than $400 billion,” available at this link:

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/05/daca-deportations-could-cost-us-economy-more-than-400-billion.html

And, Gonzo goes on to press his absurd demand that any relief from “Dreamers” be “offset” by  Trump’s “off the wall” immigration restrictionist program. Dreamers are contributing over $400 billion to our GNP, so what’s there to “offset?” We should be happy to have them as permanent members of our society.

No, the real problem here is that the Dreamers and their families (who also are contributing to our society and economy) should have been screened and admitted through our legal immigration system. The solution isn’t to extract a “penalty” from the Dreamers, but rather to expand our legal immigration system so that future Dreamers and their hard-working productive families can be properly screened and legally admitted into the United States in the first place!

That Gonzo, others in the Administration, and the “restrictionist wing” of the GOP keep pushing in exactly the opposite direction is truly reprehensible. The real  “national debate” that we should be having on immigration is how to get Dreamers and other law-abiding undocumented residents on a track to full integration into our society, how many MORE legal immigrants we should admit each year, and how we should select them to achieve the most both for our country’s future and for those vibrant, hard-working, and much-needed future immigrants that we should be attracting! Legal immigration is a good thing, to be valued and welcomed! It’s NOT something to be feared and restricted as Gonzo and his cronies would have us believe! And, by converting most of the flow of “undocumented migrants” into “legal immigrants” we would reduce the need for DHS enforcement directed at the immigrant community. Those resources could be redirected at removing the “real bad guys.”

 

PWS

10-19-17

BRET STEPHENS IN THE NYT: DREAMERS & MIGRANTS (DOCUMENTED OR NOT) MAKE AMERICA GREAT!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/01/opinion/daca-trump-dreamers-immigration.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region%C2%AEion=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

Stephens writes:

“A common American conceit is that we attract brilliant foreigners because we have brilliant things: great universities, vast financial resources, a dynamic economy, high-tech. That gets things mostly backward. It’s because we have brilliant foreigners that we have those things in the first place. Google. Comcast. eBay. Kraft. Pfizer. AT&T. They all had immigrants as founders.

Overall, a 2016 study by the Partnership for the New American Economy found that 40 percent of all Fortune 500 companies were founded or co-founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Taken together they employed 19 million people and had revenues of $4.8 trillion.

Opponents of a liberal immigration policy often insist they welcome legal immigrants and only object to illegal ones. Rubbish. The immigration reform bill introduced in Congress this year by Republicans Tom Cotton and David Perdue and endorsed by Donald Trump aims to cut legal immigration by half.

Restrictionists also argue that we need to favor newcomers with “skills” and educational credentials. More rubbish. Jan Koum arrived in the U.S. from Ukraine in 1992 as a 16-year-old boy with his mother, living off food stamps. She worked as a babysitter. He later dropped out of college. In 2009 he came up with an idea for a mobile messaging app. Five years later Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $22 billion.

Should it make any difference to WhatsApp’s billion-plus users that Koum arrived in the United States legally? And if it turned out that he hadn’t, should he be required to leave the country, presumably so he can pay income tax — and create jobs — in his native Ukraine?

That would be self-defeating. But it’s the fate that may soon await 800,000 or so young people who were brought without visas to the United States as children, grew up in the country, in some cases only speak English, and now face deportation because the Trump administration seems poised to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that allowed them to stay in school or their jobs.

The nativist wing of the right thinks DACA is unconstitutional. That’s not clear, though it would be on firmer legal ground if Congress turned DACA into law by passing Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin’s Dream Act. In the meantime, allowing these young dreamers to stay is ordinary humanity and enlightened policy. If just 10 of those 800,000 turn into future Jan Koums, the program will have more than paid for itself.

 

It isn’t the whole truth to say that immigrants come to our shores because of our wealth. They also come in hope of being welcomed by a country whose astounding faith in human possibility includes a faith in them, however poor, unkempt — or even undocumented — they may sometimes be.

Lose that faith, and lose what’s best about America, too.”

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

Read the complete op-ed at the link.

Stephens doesn’t know squat about climate change. But, he does understand the overriding value of immigration, whether documented or not, to America and our future as a great nation. He also exposes the bogus rationales employed by supporters of the RAISE Act to “dress up” their White Nationalist agenda.

PWS

09-02-17

“Duh” ARTICLE OF THE WEEK: Guess What? Immigration Policy Is Complex And Difficult — The President Should Seek Some Decent Advice!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-hardline-immigration-rhetoric-runs-into-obstacles–including-trump/2017/02/17/37ba2218-f537-11e6-b9c9-e83fce42fb61_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_trumpimmigration-8pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.f7b4a8ac9f52

David Nakamura reports in the Washington Post:

“The Trump administration’s attempts to translate the president’s hard-line campaign rhetoric on immigration into reality have run into two major roadblocks: the complexity of reshaping a sprawling immigration system and a president who has not been clear about how he wants to change it.

In his first four weeks in office, President Trump has sought to use his executive powers to punch through Washington’s legislative and bureaucratic hurdles and make quick progress on pledges to crack down on illegal immigrants and tighten border control.

But Trump has been vague about his goals and how to achieve them and his aides have struggled to interpret his orders.

The resulting turmoil has included a successful legal challenge halting his immigration travel ban, fears among congressional Republicans over the White House’s more extreme measures and widespread anxiety among immigrant communities across the country.

The latest flash point erupted Friday over reports that the Department of Homeland Security was considering mobilizing 100,000 National Guard troops to help round up millions of unauthorized immigrants in 11 states, including some such as Colorado and Oregon far from the southern border.

President Trump said at a press conference Thursday that deciding the fate of illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children is “one of the most difficult subjects I have.” (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)”

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

It’s not difficult for anyone who understands the complex field of immigration to see that when you surround yourself with tone-deaf advisors like Jeff Sessions, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Kris Kobach, and Rep. Steve King your immigration policies are headed straight onto the rocks, where they likely will remain aground for the rest of the Administration.

So, you’re President Donald Trump. You want to make an impact in immigration, and also have everybody love what you’re doing to “make America great.”

Then, why not sit down with some Republicans who have thought carefully about the issue, like, for example: House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Jeff Flake, Congresswoman Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, Senator Marco Rubio, the Koch Brothers, former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson, and Ohio Governor John Kasich? Also, it would be a good idea to reach across the aisle and speak with folks like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Dick Durban, Senator Bernie Sanders, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Representative Henry Cuellar who have worked thoughtfully on immigration issues. And, why not invite DHS Secretary John Kelly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta (assuming confirmation), and, of course, Vice President Mike Pence to the table too?

Think about how refugees, legal immigrants, and those who are already here and in our workforce can be melded in the best way possible to tap America’s full potential, create meaningful opportunities for all Americans, increase productivity and innovation, and combat the looming problem of future labor shortages. Also, consider how a more realistic, expanded legal immigration system could be a critical tool for discouraging illegal migration, maintaining control of our borders, and insuring national security without over-investing in the (usually ineffective and always expensive) quasi-militarization of our borders.

As one of my colleagues used to tell me when I got going too fast, “Relax, it’s a marathon not a sprint.” There is still plenty of time for President Trump to get the immigration issue right for America. But, it’s not going to happen unless he expands his circle of advisers to include those with a more positive and realistic view of  immigration’s essential role in making America great.

PWS

02/17/17

 

Sessions Gives Few Specifics About Immigration Role During First Day of Hearings — Offers Neither Support Nor Solution For Dreamers, But Doesn’t Consider Them Removal Priorities — Defends Hard Line Positions, But Says He Would Like To Work Together On Solving Difficult Problem In Compassionate Manner

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-dick-durbin-immigration_us_58751aa5e4b02b5f858b5c4a

“The attorney general is not in charge of most deportation efforts ― that falls to the Department of Homeland Security. But should he be confirmed, Sessions would still have plenty of power to affect immigration matters, from shaping the resources immigration courts receive and how they make decisions to pressuring local law enforcement to assist in deportation efforts.

Sessions said that Durbin was “wrong” about what his record indicates he’d do as attorney general, but he also defended his support of limiting immigration and increasing deportations.

“I believe the American people spoke clearly in this election,” Sessions said. “I believe they agreed with my basic view and I think it’s a good view, a decent view, a solid legal view for the United States of America that we create a lawful system of immigration that allows people to apply to this country and if they’re accepted, they get in; if they’re not accepted, they don’t get in.”

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

Senator Sessions seemed neither sympathetic to, nor understanding of, the difficult situation of “Dreamers.”  On the plus side, he seemed to recognize that the Dreamers, and similarly situated individuals who have successfully integrated into the community of the United States, probably aren’t going anywhere, but offered no specific suggestions as to how they should be treated if DACA is withdrawn.

I was somewhat encouraged by the Senator’s recognition of the complexity of the immigration issue — something many enforcement-oriented individuals refuse to acknowledge — the need to work together to solve problems, ideally through legislation, and his use of the term “compassionate.”  He also seems to appreciate that being the Attorney General of the United States is a markedly different role than representing Alabama in the Senate  — it’s a bigger picture with a much border, more diverse constituency.

As far as I can tell from reading press accounts, Senator Sessions was neither asked about nor did he reveal his plans for what is probably going to be his biggest problem when he assumes the leadership of the Department of Justice — the total meltdown of the U.S. Immigration Court System.

PWS

01-11-17