Musings on Events in U.S. Immigration Court, Immigration Law, Sports, and Other Random Topics by Retired United States Immigration Judge (Arlington, Virginia) and former Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals Paul Wickham Schmidt. To see my complete professional bio, just click on the link below.
“WASHINGTON — The furor over President Trump’s language about immigrants from “shithole countries” has partially obscured the substance of what he was demanding and the profound shift among Republicans beyond opposing illegal immigration to also pushing new limits on legal migrants, particularly of color.
Trump made the remark as he rejected a bipartisan proposal from Sens. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to resolve the status of some 700,000 so-called Dreamers facing deportation. In exchange for protecting them, Trump wanted more restrictions on legal immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, among other changes.
Those demands come as Trump has already put the country on track to remove 1 million immigrants over the next two years. Among them are the Dreamers — young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — and more than 200,000 Salvadorans, nearly 60,000 Haitians and others from Central America who have lived in the U.S. legally, in some cases for decades, under temporary protected status that the administration is ending.
The mounting total is a policy reversal for Republicans, who until recently insisted that welcoming new arrivals was vital not just to the fabric of American life but in boosting the domestic economy. Now, many Republicans in Congress have moved to a more restrictionist position, following Trump’s lead.
Trump “has taken our issues off the back burner and thrust them into the spotlight,” said Roy Beck, executive director at Numbers USA, which argues for reducing immigration to midcentury levels, before passage of the 1965 immigration overhaul ushered in a new era of diverse migrants.
Beck marvels at the turn of events.
“The president has done as much as we hoped for,” he said.
Trump’s insistence on immigration restrictions may have increased the odds of a confrontation this week when Congress must vote on a measure to fund agencies or risk a partial government shutdown.”
Read the complete article at the link.
Aligning yourselves with Roy Beck says it all. The GOP’s push on undocumented immigration has become a smokescreen for a war on legal immigrants from non-European countries. That, in turn, is part of the White Nationalist attack on ethnic Americans, particularly individuals of color.
Trump’s crassness and lack of judgment has just blown the smokescreen and exposed the ugly racist and xenophobic underpinnings of the GOP’s “merit based” immigration charade. Folks who care about America’s future must resist this un-American GOP initiative.
Eventually, the majority of us who believe in a tolerant, diverse, welcoming, unafraid America that can resume its world leadership role must regain power from those driven by the toxic, intolerant views of a minority of Americans who foisted the national disaster of Trump upon our country!
“Lots of the news from sub-Saharan Africa is about war, famine, poverty or political upheaval. So it’s understandable if many Americans think most Africans who immigrate to the United States are poorly educated and desperate.
That’s the impression that President Trump left with his comments to members of Congress opposing admission of immigrants from “shithole countries” in Africa and elsewhere.
But research tells another story.
While many are refugees, large numbers are beneficiaries of the “diversity visa program” aimed at boosting immigration from underrepresented nations. And on average, African immigrants are better educated that people born in the U.S. or the immigrant population as a whole.
“It’s a population that’s very diverse in its educational, economic and English proficiency profile,” said Jeanne Batalova, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute think tank in Washington and coauthor of a report last year on sub-Saharan African immigrants in the U.S. “People came for a variety of reasons and at various times.”
Overall, their numbers are small compared with other immigrant groups but have risen significantly in recent years. The U.S. immigrant population from sub-Saharan Africa (49 countries with a total population of more than 1.1 billion) grew from 723,000 to more than 1.7 million between 2010 and 2015, according to a new report by New American Economy, a Washington-based research and advocacy group. Still, they make up just half a percent of the U.S. population.
Drawing from U.S. surveys and Census Bureau data, the report found that the majority come from five countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa.
The Pew Research Center reported that African immigrants are most likely to settle in the South or Northeast, and that the largest numbers — at least 100,000 — are found in Texas, New York, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Virginia. Many African refugees have also relocated to or have been resettled in states such as Minnesota and South Dakota.
The Refugee Act of 1980 made it easier for people fleeing war zones to resettle in the U.S., and today there are tens of thousand of refugees from Somalia, Sudan and Congo. About 22% of African immigrants are refugees, according to Andrew Lim, associate director of research at New American Economy.
At the same time, the diversity visa program — also known as the visa lottery — has opened the door to immigrants from more peaceful places. Of the sub-Saharan immigrants who have become legal permanent residents, 17% came through the program, compared with 5% of the total U.S. immigrant population, according to Batalova.
Applicants to the program must have completed the equivalent of a U.S. high school education or have at least two years of recent experience in any number of occupations, including accountant, computer support specialist, orthodontist and dancer.
As a result, the influx includes many immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa who are highly skilled professionals.
Batalova’s research found that of the 1.4 million who are 25 and older, 41% have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 30% of all immigrants and 32% of the U.S.-born population. Of the 19,000 U.S. immigrants from Norway — a country Trump reportedly told lawmakers is a good source of immigrants — 38% have college educations.
The New American Economy study found that 1 in 3 of these undergraduate degrees were focused on science, technology, engineering and math — “training heavily in demand by today’s employers.”
That report also found that African immigrants were significantly more likely to have graduate degrees. A total of 16% had a master’s degree, medical degree, law degree or a doctorate, compared with 11% of the U.S.-born population, Lim said.
African immigrants were more than twice as likely than the U.S. population overall to work in healthcare, Lim said. There are more than 32,500 nursing, psychiatric or home health aides, more than 46,000 registered nurses and more than 15,700 doctors and surgeons.
“Overwhelmingly the evidence shows that [African immigrants] make a significant, positive economic contribution to the U.S. economy,” both at a national level and in districts where they are concentrated, Lim said. “They contribute more than $10.1 billion in federal taxes, $4.7 billion in state and local taxes, and most importantly, they have significant economic clout to the point of $40.3 billion in spending power.”
That $40.3 billion pays for housing, transportation, consumer goods and education for their children — “things that actually stimulate the economy around them,” Lim said.
The biggest beneficiary is Texas, where their spending power is $4.7 billion, followed by California, Maryland, New York and Georgia.
“It’s a population that leverages its human resources and contributes to the U.S. economy by revitalizing communities, starting businesses, but also by working in a variety of professional fields,” Batalova said.
Even those with less education who arrive as refugees often fill certain lower-skill niches in healthcare, such as home health aides, researchers said.
“In the communities they were resettled in, they have made significant contributions,” Lim said.
In many towns and cities in the Great Lakes area of the Midwest, for example, they have started new businesses, infused local labor forces with younger workers, and expanded local tax bases, Lim said.
A report last year by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that immigrants in general had little to no negative effect on overall wages or employment levels for U.S.-born workers, and higher-skilled immigrants in fields such as technology and science had a positive influence on the U.S. labor force.
Still, supporters of stricter immigration policy back the Trump administration’s calls to end the visa lottery as well as programs that allow certain immigrants to sponsor family members to settle in the U.S. They believe that a merit system that selects immigrants based on individual skills should replace the current system.”
Truth, facts, and helping American workers have never been part of the GOP restrictionist agenda. The xenophobia is no longer limited to so-called undocumented immigrants; it’s clear that guys like Purdue, Cotton, and Goodlatte really don’t like immigrants of any type, and particularly those of color or from “developing nations.” It’s really all about race with religion and culture thrown in — slowing down the “browning and blackening” of America, attacking the Hispanic American and African-American cultures, and trying to block or limit the immigration of non-Christians (including, of course, Muslims).
Trump’s racist remarks this week (which Perdue, Cotton, and Nielsen are rather disingenuously trying to claim never happened) and the GOP’s basic defense of the idea of drawing immigrants from White European countries rather than Haiti, Africa, or Central America has basically “blown the cover” off of so-called “merit based” immigration being pushed by some in the GOP. Trump was just articulating the hateful White Nationalist immigration agenda that he ran on and many (not all) in the GOP have now adopted under the code word “merit based.” That doesn’t bode well for bipartisan immigration reform of any type or, for that matter, for the future of a diverse “nation of immigrants.”
Here’s what SCOTUS Blog has to say about the issue:
“Issue: Whether, to trigger the stop-time rule by serving a “notice to appear,” the government must “specify” the items listed in the definition of a “notice to appear,” including “[t]he time and place at which the proceedings will be held.”
And, here’s a “key quote” from Judge Lipez’s decision in Pereira that explains the issue a little more detail:
“The Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) gives the Attorney General discretion to cancel the removal of a non-permanent resident alien if the alien meets certain criteria, including ten years of continuous physical presence in the United States. 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(b)(1). Under the “stop-time” rule, the alien’s period of continuous physical presence ends “when the alien is served a notice to appear under section 1229(a)” of the INA. Id. § 1229b(d)(1). In this case, we must decide whether a notice to appear that does not contain the date and time of the alien’s initial hearing is nonetheless effective to end the alien’s period of continuous physical presence. The Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) answered this question affirmatively in Matter of Camarillo, 25 I. & N. Dec. 644 (B.I.A. 2011). The BIA applied that rule in this case.
Joining the majority of circuit courts to address this issue, we conclude that the BIA’s decision in Camarillo is entitled to Chevron deference. We deny the petition for review.”
So, with the 1st Circuit joining the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th, and 9th Circuits in upholding Matter of Camarillo, 25 I&N Dec. 644 (BIA 2011); only the 3rd Circuit rejecting the BIA’s interpretation (Orozco- Velasquez v. Att’y Gen. United States, 817 F.3d 78, 81-82 (3d Cir. 2016)); and what is generally perceived as a “conservative leaning” Supreme Court, looks like a “slam dunk” for the Government, right? Not so fast!
On a question of statutory interpretation like this, I could definitely see some of the more conservative “strict constructionist” Justices teaming up with the “liberals” to reject the BIA’s interpretation by invoking the “plain meaning” rule of statutory construction to overcome “Chevron deference.” Indeed, quite interestingly, as I have noted in prior blogs, Justice Neil Gorsuch was an outspoken critic of Chevron while on the Tenth Circuit. Read his opinion in Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, 834 F.3d 1142 (10th Cir. 2016) if you have any doubts! Here’s a link to that opinion: https://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/14/14-9585.pdf
So, I wouldn’t assume at this point that Justice Gorsuch will be a “shill” or “pushover” for the Administration on all immigration issues, even if Trump thinks that’s the type of “loyalty” all his judicial appointments owe him. Actually, the oath of office that Federal Judges take requires them to uphold the Constitution of the United States, not the views and positions of President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, DHS Secretary Kristjen Nielsen, or anybody else of any importance whatsoever. That’s what real “judicial independence” (as opposed to the “captive” Immigration Judiciary) is all about!
And, you might ask what’s the “big deal” about this case? After all, even if the Supremes agree with the petitioner and the Third Circuit that the notice was defective, the BIA and DHS could easily cure the “problem” simply by specifying a “time, place, and date” for the Immigration Court hearing on the original Notice to Appear. Indeed, when I joined the Arlington Immigration Court in 2003 such a system, called “Interactive Scheduling” was in effect. But, like much else at EOIR it appears to have run into problems and been largely abandoned as the dockets mushroomed out of control. Many (not all) things about the administration of the Immigration Courts actually moved backward during my 13 year tenure in Arlington.
But, if the original Notice to Appear were held to be ineffective, then it would not serve to “Stop Time” for the 10 year period of “continuous physical presence” required to apply for the relief of “Cancellation of Removal.” This, in turn, would make thousands of individuals now in Immigration Court proceedings, perhaps tens of thousands, eligible to apply for Cancellation. And, it likely would require the reopening of thousands of already completed cases where the respondent was denied Cancellation of Removal based solely on the “Stop Time” rule. So, that’s why it’s worth the Supremes’ time to resolve this conflict among the lower Federal Courts.
STRIKING A blow for making America small again — plus petty, callous and self-defeating — the Trump administration on Monday stripped about 200,000 Salvadorans of their work authorizations and protection from deportation, effective 20 months from now.
The move will create tens of thousands of new undocumented immigrants in the United States; aggravate labor shortages in some American cities; saddle one of the hemisphere’s most beleaguered countries with problems it is ill-equipped to manage; and embitter tens of thousands of U.S.-born citizens whose parents are suddenly thrust into a life in the shadows or forced to return to a country where they have no future.
At this point, it’s naive to wonder what has become of America’s humanitarian impulse; in the Age of Trump, it’s null and void. Before the decision Monday by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to send packing Salvadorans who have lived in this country since a pair of earthquakes crippled their homeland in 2001, the administration took identical action last year against citizens of the hemisphere’s two poorest countries, Haiti and Nicaragua, who have also lived in this country since natural disasters ravaged their own, and announced its intention to end protections for young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” effective beginning in March.
As with the dreamers, the administration has seized on a narrow, legalistic interpretation as a pretext for turning against immigrants who have lived in the United States for years. In the case of the Salvadorans, officials insisted that the humanitarian program that shielded them, known as Temporary Protected Status, should lapse because their country had surmounted the original calamity that triggered TPS in the first place. The argument was the same last year for ending TPS for immigrants from Haiti, knocked senseless by a 2010 earthquake, and those from Nicaragua, leveled by a hurricane in 1998.
The administration insists it is giving meaning to the “temporary” in Temporary Protected Status. That’s fine as theory; as a policy, it fails by ignoring reality. Both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations grasped that it was unwise, not to mention cruel, to impose additional burdens on already desperate neighbors. El Salvador — wracked by brutal gang warfare, one of the world’s highest murder rates and an anemic economy — has gross domestic product per capita one-seventh that of the United States. Deporting tens of thousands of Salvadorans, and, in the process, depriving their country of the remittances they send home, will only deepen that country’s unfolding disaster. How is that in the United States’ interest?
The fact is that the Salvadorans have nearly 200,000 children who are U.S. citizens, born in this country, with no knowledge of their parents’ homeland. Nearly a quarter of those who will lose their status have mortgages, many have businesses, and a large majority have been gainfully employed for many years, paying taxes and contributing to communities.
The costs of the administration’s policy are clear. But what has been gained?”
In the end, “Gonzo” enforcement and policy making will cost the United States dearly in many, many ways. But, that’s what happens when folks elect an Administration made up of “unqualifieds” and a Congress controlled by a minority Party that doesn’t take seriously its responsibility to legislate or goven in the overall public interest.
The only real solution here is likely to be a longer term one at the ballot box.
New DHS secretary faces first immigration litmus test
By Tal Kopan, CNN
New Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen faces her first major test on immigration policy next week with a decision that could force upwards of 250,000 Central Americans to leave the United States or scramble to find a way to stay.
Monday is the deadline for deciding the future of a protected status for nationals of El Salvador, and the Department of Homeland Security is widely expected to announce an end to the program, which has offered work permits and the right to live in the United States.
More than 260,000 Salvadorans are covered by the program, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services, but some experts estimate roughly 200,000 of them could be left without the protected status, based on previous department estimates. Salvadorans make up the largest share of immigrants protected by the program, and all of them have lived in the United States since at least 2001.
While the Homeland Security Department has not yet announced its decision, its actions this year have signaled a tougher approach to the program, which allows individuals from countries affected by crises like natural disasters, war and epidemics to stay in the US and work without being deported. The “temporary protected status,” as it is known, lasts for about two years before needing to be renewed. El Salvador’s status has been continually renewed since 2001, when it was granted after a series of earthquakes.
The pending deadline marks the first major immigration decision that will fall to Nielsen, who has thus far pledged to carry on the legacy of her predecessor and former boss, John Kelly, who is now White House chief of staff.
This fall, her department ended temporary protected designations for thousands of immigrants, including more than 50,000 from Haiti and thousands more from Nicaragua and Sudan, which critics say needlessly uproots contributing immigrants to send them back to unstable countries.
Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, however, extended protections for more than 80,000 Hondurans for six months because she said she was unable to reach a decision about whether conditions in that country had improved enough to terminate the protected status. That decision prompted heavy pressure from the White House to end the protections, sources said, though Duke later denied accounts that said she felt distressed and disappointed by the interference from Kelly.
Nielsen has the ultimate decision on whether to extend El Salvador’s status, but advocates on the issue from both sides of the aisle anticipate a similar decision to that on Haiti, a struggling country as well, but one the department says has recovered from its devastating earthquake in 2010. If Nielsen opts to end the Salvadorans’ protections, it likely would give them 12 to 18 months to apply for some other visa to stay in the United States or prepare to leave.
When the protections end, recipients revert to the status they have otherwise, which would likely leave a number of Salvadorans undocumented after nearly two decades of legally working and living in the United States.
Groups on the right that advocate for restricting immigration are pressing the Homeland Security Department to end the status for El Salvador, and were concerned during Nielsen’s confirmation that she would be adequately hard-line in implementing President Donald Trump’s immigration agenda.
“(Monday’s decision) is a test of whether she properly reflects the Trump campaign’s commitment to the people on these issues,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “We’d be very disappointed to see TPS extended yet again — with no credible justification.”
“Allowing them to stay longer only undermines the integrity of the program and essentially makes the ‘temporary’ protected status a front operation for backdoor permanent immigration,” added Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA.
There is one area of agreement between the groups on the right like FAIR and NumbersUSA and advocates on the left who say ending temporary protected status for El Salvador would be an unnecessary and cruel move — Nielsen’s decision will toss a political hot potato to Congress.
In ending the protections for other groups, the Homeland Security Department has urged outraged lawmakers to enact legislation rather than continue to force the secretary to make the decisions.
“It will be couched in nice terms, but it actually will be a dramatic move,” Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice Education Fund, a pro-immigration reform group, said of his expectation that DHS will urge Congress to act. “These are Salvadorans who have been living in the United States with work permission for almost 20 years. These are people who are American in all but their paperwork. And the idea that we’re going to try to drive them back to a country that is engulfed in weak governance and corruption and violence is unthinkable.”
How dumb is it to terminate TPS for El Salvador. I ran into a respected local immigration attorney over the Holidays. While she decried the stupidity and wastefulness of the anticipated decision to terminate Salvadoran TPS, she said that it would have little practical effect on most of her Salvadoran TPS clients.
By now, she related, they all have strong prima facie claims for what is known as “Non-Lawful Permanent Resident Cancellation of Removal” based on “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to U.S. citizen spouses or children. Once TPS runs out and these cases are placed on the already dysfunctional Immigration Court docket, she will file the Form EOIR-43 Application for Cancellation of Removal and seek work authorization while the cases are pending before the Immigration Courts. She anticipates that given the current and anticipated backlogs in the local U.S. Immigration Courts, those cases will receive “Individual (Merits) Hearings” about five or six years from now.
Some, she thinks most, will succeed. Those that fail will exercise their appellate rights, thus further extending the process. By that time, the already feeble rationale for actually removing them for the U.S. will be even weaker. And, by then, we likely will have a different Administration and Congress that hopefully will take a more realistic, humane, and pro-American approach to the plight of the TPSers.
How dumb is terminating TPS? I’d hazard to guess that Salvadorans with “permits’ — work authorizations granted under TPS — form the backbone of the booming Northern Virginia construction and remodeling industry. If they were removed tomorrow, everyone in the region would suffer an immediate, and not easily reversible, economic downturn.
Similar problems will occur throughout the nation, not to mention the likely destabilization of El Salvador from the return of so many individuals who had long resided in the U.S to a country already in serious turmoil. In other words, the Trump Administration appears to be in the process of engineering a human rights, foreign policy, and economic disaster on multiple levels.
Nick Miroff at the Washington Post reports that the Secretary of DHS has decided to end Salvadoran TPS, effective September 9, 2019.
“The Trump administration will announce Monday that it intends to cancel the provisional residency permits of about 200,000 Salvadorans who have lived in the country since at least 2001, leaving them vulnerable to deportation, according to mulitple people on Capitol Hill who’ve been apprised of the plan.
The administration will notify the Salvadorans they have until Sept. 9, 2019 to leave the United States or find a new way to obtain legal residency, according to a copy of the announcement prepared by the Department of Homeland Security that will be published Monday morning.
The Salvadorans were granted what is known as Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, after a series of earthquakes devastated the country in 2001.
DHS is preparing to announce that Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has decided the conditions in El Salvador have improved significantly since then, ending the original justification for the Salvadorans’ deportation protection, these people said.”
But so many foreigners had flooded into the country since January, he vented to his national security team, that it was making a mockery of his pledge. Friends were calling to say he looked like a fool, Mr. Trump said.
According to six officials who attended or were briefed about the meeting, Mr. Trump then began reading aloud from the document, which his domestic policy adviser, Stephen Miller, had given him just before the meeting. The document listed how many immigrants had received visas to enter the United States in 2017.
More than 2,500 were from Afghanistan, a terrorist haven, the president complained.
Haiti had sent 15,000 people. They “all have AIDS,” he grumbled, according to one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there.
Forty thousand had come from Nigeria, Mr. Trump added. Once they had seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa, recalled the two officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive conversation in the Oval Office.
As the meeting continued, John F. Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security, and Rex W. Tillerson, the secretary of state, tried to interject, explaining that many were short-term travelers making one-time visits. But as the president continued, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Miller turned their ire on Mr. Tillerson, blaming him for the influx of foreigners and prompting the secretary of state to throw up his arms in frustration. If he was so bad at his job, maybe he should stop issuing visas altogether, Mr. Tillerson fired back.
Tempers flared and Mr. Kelly asked that the room be cleared of staff members. But even after the door to the Oval Office was closed, aides could still hear the president berating his most senior advisers.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, denied on Saturday morning that Mr. Trump had made derogatory statements about immigrants during the meeting.
“General Kelly, General McMaster, Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Nielsen and all other senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims,” she said, referring to the current White House chief of staff, the national security adviser and the secretaries of state and homeland security. “It’s both sad and telling The New York Times would print the lies of their anonymous ‘sources’ anyway.”
While the White House did not deny the overall description of the meeting, officials strenuously insisted that Mr. Trump never used the words “AIDS” or “huts” to describe people from any country. Several participants in the meeting told Times reporters that they did not recall the president using those words and did not think he had, but the two officials who described the comments found them so noteworthy that they related them to others at the time.
The meeting in June reflects Mr. Trump’s visceral approach to an issue that defined his campaign and has indelibly shaped the first year of his presidency.
Like many of his initiatives, his effort to change American immigration policy has been executed through a disorderly and dysfunctional process that sought from the start to defy the bureaucracy charged with enforcing it, according to interviews with three dozen current and former administration officials, lawmakers and others close to the process, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail private interactions.
But while Mr. Trump has been repeatedly frustrated by the limits of his power, his efforts to remake decades of immigration policy have gained increasing momentum as the White House became more disciplined and adept at either ignoring or undercutting the entrenched opposition of many parts of the government. The resulting changes have had far-reaching consequences, not only for the immigrants who have sought to make a new home in this country, but also for the United States’ image in the world.
“We have taken a giant steamliner barreling full speed,” Mr. Miller said in a recent interview. “Slowed it, stopped it, begun to turn it around and started sailing in the other direction.”
It is an assessment shared ruefully by Mr. Trump’s harshest critics, who see a darker view of the past year. Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group, argues that the president’s immigration agenda is motivated by racism.
“He’s basically saying, ‘You people of color coming to America seeking the American dream are a threat to the white people,’” said Mr. Sharry, an outspoken critic of the president. “He’s come into office with an aggressive strategy of trying to reverse the demographic changes underway in America.”
. . . .
Even as the administration was engaged in a court battle over the travel ban, it began to turn its attention to another way of tightening the border — by limiting the number of refugees admitted each year to the United States. And if there was one “deep state” stronghold of Obama holdovers that Mr. Trump and his allies suspected of undermining them on immigration, it was the State Department, which administers the refugee program.
At the department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, there was a sense of foreboding about a president who had once warned that any refugee might be a “Trojan horse” or part of a “terrorist army.”
Mr. Trump had already used the travel ban to cut the number of allowable refugees admitted to the United States in 2017 to 50,000, a fraction of the 110,000 set by Mr. Obama. Now, Mr. Trump would have to decide the level for 2018.
At an April meeting with top officials from the bureau in the West Wing’s Roosevelt Room, Mr. Miller cited statistics from the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies that indicated that resettling refugees in the United States was far costlier than helping them in their own region.
Mr. Miller was visibly displeased, according to people present, when State Department officials pushed back, citing another study that found refugees to be a net benefit to the economy. He called the contention absurd and said it was exactly the wrong kind of thinking.
But the travel ban had been a lesson for Mr. Trump and his aides on the dangers of dictating a major policy change without involving the people who enforce it. This time, instead of shutting out those officials, they worked to tightly control the process.
In previous years, State Department officials had recommended a refugee level to the president. Now, Mr. Miller told officials the number would be determined by the Department of Homeland Security under a new policy that treated the issue as a security matter, not a diplomatic one.
When he got word that the Office of Refugee Resettlement had drafted a 55-page report showing that refugees were a net positive to the economy, Mr. Miller swiftly intervened, requesting a meeting to discuss it. The study never made it to the White House; it was shelved in favor of a three-page list of all the federal assistance programs that refugees used.
At the United Nations General Assembly in September, Mr. Trump cited the Center for Immigration Studies report, arguing that it was more cost-effective to keep refugees out than to bring them into the United States.
“Uncontrolled migration,” Mr. Trump declared, “is deeply unfair to both the sending and receiving countries.”
At times, though, Mr. Trump has shown an openness to a different approach. In private discussions, he returns periodically to the idea of a “comprehensive immigration” compromise, though aides have warned him against using the phrase because it is seen by his core supporters as code for amnesty. During a fall dinner with Democratic leaders, Mr. Trump explored the possibility of a bargain to legalize Dreamers in exchange for border security.
Mr. Trump even told Republicans recently that he wanted to think bigger, envisioning a deal early next year that would include a wall, protection for Dreamers, work permits for their parents, a shift to merit-based immigration with tougher work site enforcement, and ultimately, legal status for some undocumented immigrants.
The idea would prevent Dreamers from sponsoring the parents who brought them illegally for citizenship, limiting what Mr. Trump refers to as “chain migration.”
“He wants to make a deal,” said Mr. Graham, who spoke with Mr. Trump about the issue last week. “He wants to fix the entire system.”
Yet publicly, Mr. Trump has only employed the absolutist language that defined his campaign and has dominated his presidency.
After an Uzbek immigrant was arrested on suspicion of plowing a truck into a bicycle path in Lower Manhattan in October, killing eight people, the president seized on the episode.
Privately, in the Oval Office, the president expressed disbelief about the visa program that had admitted the suspect, confiding to a group of visiting senators that it was yet another piece of evidence that the United States’ immigration policies were “a joke.”
Even after a year of progress toward a country sealed off from foreign threats, the president still viewed the immigration system as plagued by complacency.
“We’re so politically correct,” he complained to reporters in the cabinet room, “that we’re afraid to do anything.”
Read the full, much more comprehensive and detailed, article at the link.
Disturbing for sure, but unfortunately not particularly surprising for those of us who have watched the Administration roll out its toxic, ill-informed immigration policies. Perhaps ironically, while the immigration issue has certainly allowed Trump to capture and control the GOP, polls show that his extreme restrictionist, xenophobic views on immigration are generally out of line with the majority of Americans (although not necessarily the majority of GOP voters).
“Trump fully embraces far right immigration playbook
By: Tal Kopan, CNN
President Donald Trump and his administration have been sending a message in recent weeks: Trump’s campaign rhetoric on immigration was not just talk. In fact, it was just the beginning.
Trump has never shied from his attacks on illegal immigration, which, alongside a US-Mexico border wall, was a core component of his campaign.
But doubts existed about his commitment level, as some of the more aggressive proposals considered by the administration languished in bureaucratic morass and as he said strongly favorable things about recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in September as he opted to end it.
RELATED: DACA negotiations reach critical week
Of late, however, Trump and the administration have upped their rhetoric on immigration.
Trump has railed in several instances against “chain migration” and lotteries for green cards. His administration is moving to alter a program for the spouses of high-skilled visa holders. And the White House and Congress remain far apart on how to address DACA.
In mid-September, Trump wrote, “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military?”
But since then, he has insisted on controversial immigration reduction proposals that would have a hard time passing even among some Republicans, including drastically cutting the overall number of green cards given out annually and transforming the way they are given out, placing a heavy emphasis on only highly skilled, English-speaking immigrants and not low-skilled individuals.
Groups that have long advocated for reducing overall immigration are energized.
“We’re excited about how the administration has held firmly to these issues,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “We’ve put almost $1 million into ads. … This is the moment we’ve been waiting for four decades.”
Stein was especially pleased with Trump’s recent insistence that any deal to save DACA, which protected young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children, include cuts to family-based immigration, or “chain migration,” and the diversity visa program, which allows up to 50,000 individuals from countries with low levels of immigration to the US to come on visas distributed by lottery.
Chain migration focus
The administration also was quick to point out that two recent terrorist attacks in New York City were committed by individuals with connections to family-based migration and the diversity lottery.
“You think the countries’ giving us their best people?” Trump said Friday in a speech to law enforcement personnel. “No. What kind of system is that? They come in by lottery. They give us their worst people, put them in a bin, but in his hand when he is picking them is really the worst of the worst.”
The theme of the dangers of immigrants — despite no research showing them to be more prone to crime than the native-born population — has been particularly hammered by longtime immigration hardliner Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“If we accept lawlessness, then we encourage lawlessness. When people break our laws without consequences, we shouldn’t be surprised when they continue breaking our laws,” Sessions said in a speech last week. “We should give priority to those who are likely to thrive here — such as those who speak English or are highly skilled — not someone chosen at random or who happens to be somebody’s relative.”
In reality, individuals in those countries are selected randomly but still must meet the security and eligibility requirements placed on all immigrants to actually get their visas. Diversity recipients specifically must also have at least a high school education or equivalent and job experience. The process includes an in-person interview, and anyone that is found to be a security threat would be inadmissible to the US.
While the diversity lottery only affects about 50,000 of roughly 1 million green cards given out to the US annually, Trump has supported legislation from two GOP senators that would drastically reduce family visa categories, cutting yearly numbers in half.
The administration has also made its own efforts to reduce immigration levels without Congress, including setting a historically low number of refugee admissions for next year, instituting the travel ban and submitting would-be visitors and immigrants to “extreme vetting.”
Late last week, the Department of Homeland Security revealed it intends to do away with work permits for spouses of high-skilled visa holders who are waiting in a years-long green card backlog. The announcement also said the agency intends to set a higher bar for the high-skilled visa itself.
New Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen spent last week establishing her hardline immigration bona fides, touting security at the border and attacking sanctuary cities and immigrant-related crime. Her tour came after weeks of broadsides from Trump-aligned sources like Breitbart, which had pejoratively nicknamed her “Lady DACA.”
Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney and Obama administration alum, said that while there may be some fraud in the immigration system, the Trump agenda goes beyond reasonably trying to resolve it.
“They’re not just fixing the system, they are signaling a belief that regardless of their skills and talent, people from foreign countries are not welcome,” Fresco said. “Many of these reforms that are being implemented are simply out of the wishlist of the anti-immigrant groups and are not serving a legitimate purpose of reforming the immigration system. … The goal is to reduce the total number of foreigners.”
Right on, Leon!
DHS can use more lawyers, better technology, and some new equipment. The Dems certainly could offer up that.
The U.S. Immigration Court could use more resources. But, with “Gonzo” in charge, it’s probably a case of “throwing good money after bad.”
“The Wall” is overkill and has some bad symbology. But, in human rights terms, it’s not as overtly harmful as the other stuff on the restrictionist’s list.
The rest of the “restrictionist wish list” is pretty toxic. Don’t see how the Dems can vote for a bill that contains any of it.
For any of you who thought Tal was “easing up” on her amazing pace, here are her interesting reports on Puerto Rico:
Maria’s always “on top” of the almost daily examples of cruel, intentionally inhumane, unconstitutional, wasteful “Gonzo” Enforcement by the Trump regime. Here is some of what she reports on the deadly conditions in “NAG:”
“The inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security has criticized several immigration detention facilities for having spoiled and moldy food and inadequate medical care, and for inappropriate treatment of detainees, such as locking down a detainee for sharing coffee and interfering with Muslims’ prayer times.
Acting Inspector General John V. Kelly, who took over Dec. 1, said the watchdog agency identified problems at four detention centers during recent, unannounced visits to five facilities. The Dec. 11 report , released Thursday, said the flaws “undermine the protection of detainees’ rights, their humane treatment, and the provision of a safe and healthy environment.”
“Staff did not always treat detainees respectfully and professionally, and some facilities may have misused segregation,” the report found, adding that observers found “potentially unsafe and unhealthy detention conditions.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement jails tens of thousands of immigrants for civil immigration violations, holding them until they are deported or released in the United States. The jails are not supposed to be punitive, according to the report.
ICE concurred with the inspector general’s findings and said it is taking action to fix the problems, some of which have already been addressed.
“Based on multi-layered, rigorous inspections and oversight programs, ICE is confident in conditions and high standards of care at its detention facilities,” the agency said in a statement. “To ensure the safety and well-being of those in our custody, we work regularly with contracted consultants and a variety of external stakeholders to review and improve detention conditions at ICE facilities.”
The Office of Inspector General said it launched the surprise inspections after receiving complaints from immigrant advocacy groups and on its hotline about treatment of detainees. The inspectors also interviewed staff members and detainees and examined records.
Advocates for immigrants said the report reaffirmed their long-standing calls for the detention facilities to be closed. Advocates have complained about reports of physical and sexual assaults, deaths in detention and other concerns for years under past presidents — and say their worries are increasing under President Trump.
Trump has pledged to dramatically increase deportations and is seeking congressional approval for more than 51,000 detention beds this fiscal year, up from about 30,000 under President Barack Obama.
Trump’s pick for the permanent director of ICE, Thomas D. Homan, previously ran the ICE detention system.
“The realities documented by the OIG inspectors, and many more, are endemic to the entire detention system,” Mary Small, policy director at Detention Watch Network, a nonprofit group that monitors immigration detention, said in a statement. “ICE has proven time and time again to be incapable of meeting basic standards for humane treatment.”
In a statement, Azadeh Shahshahani, legal and advocacy director of Project South, in Atlanta, cited the death in May of Jean Jimenez-Joseph. The 27-year-old Panamanian national was held in solitary confinement for 19 days at the Stewart Detention Center in rural Georgia, according to Project South.
Shahshahani said his death “should have served as a final wake-up call and resulted in the immediate closure of the facility.”
The Administration tries to hide, obscure, cover up, and bureaucratize what’s happening in the NAG. But, thanks to courageous reporters like Maria, the truth isn’t going to be suppressed. Read the rest of Maria’s report at the link.
Is this YOUR America? Is this the America you want YOUR children and grandchildren to read about and inherit?
Gee whiz, what were my parents and grandparents doing while neo-Nazis were invading the government and recreating the “Fourth Reich?”
And, when are the Article III Courts going to get some backbone to go with their lifetime sinicure and stand up for the Constitution and human decency before it’s too late? When good people stand by and do nothing, tyrants like Trump, Sessions, Homan, Bannon, and their corrupt supporters will have their way!
Tell your legislators:
NO to Tom Homan as ICE Director;
NO to funding for the NAG;
NO to funding DOJ’s corrupt defense of the NAG and Gonzo Immigration Enforcement;
NO to additional unneeded DHS Enforcement agents;
YES to legislative and criminal investigations of the unconstitutional activities of Gonzo, Nielsen, Homan, and their cronies and the human rights abuses they are knowingly creating by misusing the immigration laws;
YES to “Dreamer Relief” with “no strings attached;”
YES to immigration reform that legalizes law-abiding residents already here and provides additional legal visas for the future to end the “false criminalization” of needed workers and refugees!
Stand up for America as a Nation of Immigrants — Stand up for human decency — Stand against Trump, Nielsen, Sessions, Homan, Bannon, Miller and the other neo-Nazis promoting the NAG!
Immigrants detained at four large centers used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement are subject to inhumane treatment, given insufficient hygiene supplies and medical care, and provided potentially unsafe food, according to a federal report.
The “concerns” about the treatment of detained immigrants in facilities in California, Georgia, New Jersey and New Mexico is summarized in a report issued by the Inspector General’s Office of the Department of Homeland Security.
As NPR’s Joel Rose reports,
“The findings are similar to those of outside groups that have alleged ‘extensive’ human rights abuses at ICE detention centers.
“The inspector general’s report comes as the Trump administration is asking Congress for funding to expand the immigration detention system.
“ICE says some of its existing facilities are short-staffed. And the acting director has agreed to the report’s recommendations.”
The report was based on inspections of five detention facilities, four of which failed to meet certain federal standards, although “not every problem was present in all of them.”
The report summarized the results of the inspections:
“Upon entering some facilities, detainees were housed incorrectly based on their criminal history. Further, in violation of standards, all detainees entering one facility were strip searched. Available language services were not always used to facilitate communication with detainees. Some facility staff reportedly deterred detainees from filing grievances and did not thoroughly document resolution of grievances. Staff did not always treat detainees respectfully and professionally, and some facilities may have misused segregation. Finally, we observed potentially unsafe and unhealthy detention conditions.
Detainees … reported long waits for provision of medical care, poor conditions in bathrooms and insufficient hygiene supplies. OIG inspectors also observed expired, moldy, and spoiled foods in the kitchen in four facilities.”
The report also recommends that ICE improve its oversight of detention facility management and operations. In an official response, ICE concurred with the findings and promised to strengthen oversight and improve overall conditions.
Critics of President Trump’s immigration policies say the findings are not new as they predate the current administration.
A 2015 report by the National Immigrant Justice Center questioned ICE’s ability to oversee the detention centers it uses.
In a statement on the 2017 report, the Center’s Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy said:
“ICE’s inability to provide for the safety and health of the tens of thousands of immigrants in its custody has been documented for years. Today, we are calling on Congress to demand accountability and drastically reduce ICE’s detention budget.
“While the Inspector General’s report provides documentation of extensive abuses, its remedy is incredibly insufficient: it directs ICE field office directors to review the areas of concern. We know from earlier directives that ICE’s internal review processes fail to generate meaningful change.”
The Women’s Refugee Commission said the report is consistent with what the organization and its partners have “documented for years” from visits to ICE detention facilities as well as with research it has conducted over 20 years. Katharina Obser, senior program officer at WRC said in a statement:
“This week’s OIG report spells out what WRC and our partners have documented for years, making clear the critical need for greater oversight and reform. Instead, the Trump administration is intent on lowering or eliminating standards for immigration detention – putting detainees’ lives at risk – all while promising to ramp up detentionon a grand scale. As Congress continues to debate DHS FY 18 appropriations, the OIG’s findings show that now is not the time to expand a detention system that ICE is not capable of effectively and safely running. Detention must be reduced and, where needed, humane alternatives to detention, implemented in its place.”
Three years ago, the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General’s office reported on a series of unannounced visits to detention centers for unaccompanied children. The inquiry found evidence of inadequate food, temperature control problems and inconsistent employee-to-detainee ratios.”
These are hardly “new” developments! So, why are Sessions and his DHS “stooges” “doubling down” on detention of non-crimninal aliens in private facilities, rather than fixing these life-threatening, unconstitutional conditions first. Sounds like clear Civil Rights violations to me. Why isn’t the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division “all over this like a cheap suit?” The answer to that is pretty obvious: They would have to prosecute their boss for knowingly creating and furthering these conditions. All part of his “Gonzo deterrence strategy.” What if it were a member of YOUR family being held in inhumane conditions like these?
The solution?” Simple: Let the non-dangerous immigrants (about 98% of them) out; put Sessions, Nielsen, Homan, and Miller in prison until the problems are fixed. Now THAT would finally be a use of detention that would have some real and appropriate deterrent value!
The true “rule of law” won’t be “restored” to America until “Gonzo” Sessions is removed from office.
“The U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Kirstjen M. Nielsen as the next secretary of the Department Homeland Security, installing a close confidant of White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly to lead the federal agency responsible for carrying out many of President Trump’s most ambitious domestic policy plans.
Nielsen, 45, developed a reputation for fierce devotion to Kelly as his deputy at the White House, and before that as his chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, which he ran from January until July.
An attorney and cybersecurity expert, Nielsen will be the first DHS secretary with previous experience working at the agency. Her confirmation Tuesday gives the White House a DHS chief well versed in the politics and policy goals of Trump’s immigration enforcement agenda.
“By confirming Ms. Nielsen’s nomination to lead the DHS, this Senate will take a serious step to strengthen our nation’s security,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement.
“Ms. Nielsen will be charged with leading the department at a critical time,” he said. “With her understanding of the challenges facing our nation and her experience in prevention and preparedness, I believe that she will excel as the next Secretary of Homeland Security.”
Nielsen was confirmed 62 to 37, the narrowest margin ever to approve a DHS secretary. Though no GOP senator voted against her, the outcome reflected both intense opposition to Trump as well as doubts about Nielsen’s executive leadership experience and willingness to challenge the White House in the event of a disagreement.
Last month, a watchdog group filed an ethics complaint against Nielsen, after she used a private consultant who represents clients with millions of dollars in DHS contracts to help her navigate the confirmation process.”
Read the full article at the link.
On paper, she appears qualified. But, so did Kelly. DHS is a mess. Those expecting any “enlightened leadership” or humanity from Nielsen are likely to be just as disappointed as they were with Kelly. I’d love to be wrong, but Nielsen is probably going to be as much of a Trump toady and Sessions parrot as her predecessor.
“The Temporary Protected Status program provides the sort of assistance the United States should be proud to extend to foreigners fleeing civil unrest, violence or natural disasters. Enacted by Congress in 1990, it currently offers safe and legal harbor to 437,000 people from 10 countries. Many stay for a long time, their status regularly extended because of continued turmoil in their homelands.
That, alas, is a far cry from the spirit of the Trump administration. But even President Trump’s bombastic pledges to throw up a Mexican border wall, expel illegal immigrants and bar entry to Muslims are different from expelling people who, though they may have entered the United States illegally, have been allowed to stay legally, often for many years, with solid jobs and large families, while their homelands remain unsettled or dangerous.
On Thanksgiving, of all days, the Department of Homeland Security is to announce whether it will extend the temporary protected status that was granted to about 50,000 Haitians when their country was devastated by an earthquake in 2010. Their stay has been regularly extended, but in May, John Kelly, then secretary of homeland security and now the White House chief of staff, gave them only six more months, explicitly to get ready to go home. Unless their status is extended this week, they must leave by Jan. 22.
By any reasonable measure, Haiti is not ready to take them back. The destitute country has never fully recovered from the 2010 earthquake or the cholera epidemic that followed. Last year, Hurricane Matthew added even more suffering. The country does not have the resources to absorb 50,000 people, and the money they have sent back is a critical source of income for their relatives and homeland.
Every member of Congress who represents South Florida, where most of these Haitians live, is in favor of extending their status. One of them, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Miami, is among the congressional members of both parties who have proposed legislation that would allow these immigrants to eventually apply for permanent residency, which is not possible under current rules.”
Read the full editorial at the link.
Haitians seem to have gotten the “short end” of US immigration, refugee, and humanitarian policies over the years.
Let’s take a look at the latest Country Report on Human Rights issued by the US State Department:
“The most serious impediments to human rights involved weak democratic governance in the country worsened by the lack of an elected and functioning government; insufficient respect for the rule of law, exacerbated by a deficient judicial system; and chronic widespread corruption. Other human rights problems included significant but isolated allegations of arbitrary and unlawful killings by government officials; allegations of use of force against suspects and protesters; severe overcrowding and poor sanitation in prisons; chronic prolonged pretrial detention; an inefficient, unreliable, and inconsistent judiciary; governmental confiscation of private property without due process. There was also rape, violence, and societal discrimination against women; child abuse; allegations of social marginalization of vulnerable populations; and trafficking in persons. Violence, including gender-based violence, and crime within the remaining internally displaced persons (IDP) camps remained a problem. Although the government took steps to prosecute or punish government and law enforcement officials accused of committing abuses, credible reports persisted of officials engaging in corrupt practices, and civil society groups alleged there was widespread impunity.”
Sound like a place where 50,000 additional refugees can be safely returned and reintegrated? Preposterous!
No, the only thing that has changed here is the political motivation of the Administration; TPS — some of the most successful, efficient, and cost effective migration programs the US has ever run — has become a target of the xenophobic, White Nationalist, restrictionist wing of the GOP.
Allowing 50,000 Haitians already residing here to remain costs the US nothing — in fact their continued presence is good for the US economy and our international image. Not to mention that many of the Haitian TPS holders have relatives with legal status in the US.
On the other hand, pulling TPS and removing these individuals could have catastrophic consequences for the individuals involved, their families, and their US communities. And, it’s likely to overwhelm Haiti, a country that has already proved unable to take care of its existing population.
Anywhere but the Trump Administration, extending TPS for Haitians and others while looking for a long-term solution that would give them some type of permanent status in the US would be a “no brainer.” But, in the Trump Administration immigration and refugee policies appear to be driven largely by a policy of “no brains” — just unnecessary cruelty, wasting resources, diminishing our international humanitarian standing, and playing to the xenophobia, racism, and hate of the White Nationalists.
“By: Tal Kopan, Abby Phillip and Miranda Green, CNN
White House chief of staff John Kelly pressured acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke to terminate protections for tens of thousands of Honduran immigrants currently living in the US, sources tell CNN.
Duke received multiple calls from Kelly pressuring her, in Duke’s perception, to end Temporary Protected Status for Honduran immigrants on Monday’s decision day, leaving Duke “distraught and disappointed” and ready to leave the department, according to a source familiar with Duke’s thinking.
The Trump administration characterized the call as Kelly weighing in through a normal process and said Duke was committed to remaining at her post.
The Washington Post first reported on the call.
TPS is an immigration status allowed by law for certain countries experiencing dire conditions, such as a natural disaster, epidemic or war, and protects individuals from deportation and authorizes them to work in the US.
Monday was the deadline for a decision on the protected status for the roughly 86,000 Hondurans. DHS instead announced that Duke had not found there was enough information to make a formal decision, a move that triggered a six-month extension of the protected status. The administration did terminate protections for Nicaraguans, about 5,300 of which live in the US. Both populations have lived in the US for nearly two decades.
According to the source familiar with Duke’s thinking, Kelly and the administration wanted Homeland Security secretary nominee Kirstjen Nielsen to avoid questions about the issue at her Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday, and wanted to her confirmed quickly enough that she would be the one to make a decision on temporary protected status for Haitians, which is due at the end of the month and which will likely be ended.
According to the source familiar, Duke had decided over the weekend that she did not have enough information to end the protections for the Hondurans, which is what the department announced late Monday evening.
“I think she’s very distraught and disappointed at Kelly and the whole apparatus,” the source said. “She’s out there alone, you know? It’s like, ‘Why do I keep doing this if you guys are just going to beat me up?'”
The source confirmed that she made reference to resigning during the back-and-forth and is inclined to leave the job.
The source described the back-and-forth as a “forceful, directive conversation.”
“It was a loud conversation, it wasn’t a quiet conversation,” the source said.”
Read the rest of the story from Tal & Co at the link. No wonder Gonzo’s DOJ is trying (unethically) to “retaliate” against CNN by abusing the anti-trust laws! Very “Third World” — a perfect term to describe the Trump Administration — corruptly using government power to reward cronies, intimidate the public, and punish opposition. Those of us who have had to deal with Third World dictatorships and kleptocracies and their carnage for decades know the characteristics all too well.
So, long time Honduran residents of the US (and their families, employers, employees, colleagues, friends, and neighbors) owe their “six month reprieve” from insane chaos totally to one career Senior Executive with the backbone and integrity (a word seldom heard in connection with the Trump Administration) to stand up to the “Trump Mafia.” Cheers for Elaine Duke!
Kelly sinks deeper into “The Swamp” every day with each new revelation of his sleazy conduct and reactionary views. I suspect that Duke’s DHS career will come to an end shortly. And, there is some reason to suspect that her permanent replacement, Kirstjen Nielsen, is being put over at DHS to be a “yes-woman” for the Trump, Sessions, Kelly, Miller, Bannon (in absentia) White Nationalist crew operating out of the White House and the DOJ. Whether she will live up to their “low expectations,” however, is another matter entirely.
Ashley Parker and Matt Zapotosky report for the Washington Post:
“President Trump announced Wednesday that he intends to nominate Kirstjen Nielsen, a cybersecurity expert and deputy White House chief of staff, to be Homeland Security secretary, a job left vacant when John F. Kelly departed to become White House chief of staff in July.
The White House, in a statement, described Nielsen as having “extensive professional experience in the areas of homeland security policy and strategy, cybersecurity, critical infrastructure, and emergency management.”
Nielsen is a longtime Homeland Security Department official who served as Kelly’s chief of staff when he was DHS secretary and accompanied him to the White House as his deputy. She also worked at the DHS during the George W. Bush administration and founded a consulting firm focused on risk and security management.
Other contenders for the Cabinet post included Tom Bossert, Trump’s homeland security adviser, and Kevin McAleenan, the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
[Trump slow to replace John Kelly at DHS as immigration, security challenges continue]
Nielsen had one crucial advantage — the absolute trust and support of Kelly, to whom she grew close after volunteering to be a “sherpa” to him as he went through the confirmation process this year.
At the White House, as Kelly’s enforcer, Nielsen quickly emerged as a controversial presence. Her detractors viewed her no-nonsense style as brusque and complained that she could be unresponsive as she worked with Kelly to streamline operations and instill discipline in a White House often lacking structure. But her allies and supporters said she was simply helping to professionalize the West Wing — the sort of necessary but thankless task that often leaves some staff members griping.
Nielsen will inherit a massive and important portfolio. The Department of Homeland Security is considered a critical agency on matters of counterterrorism and national security. It is the agency, for example, that informed states they had been targeted by Russian hackers during the 2016 election campaign, and it would be responsible for monitoring and preventing such incidents in the future.
But it also bears primary responsibility for immigration enforcement and border protection — top priorities in the Trump administration. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has been coordinating the government’s response to several recent hurricanes, the Secret Service, which protects the president and his family, and the Transportation Security Administration, which handles airport and other transportation-related security, are also a part of the DHS.
Nielsen is likely to have to navigate no shortage of controversies. Homeland Security officials will play a key role in implementing Trump’s new entry ban, which is scheduled to fully take effect Oct. 18, and agency officials are also at the center of the president’s decision to wind down DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — which allowed undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to avoid deportation.
The DHS, along with the Justice Department, has been energetic in implementing Trump’s promised crackdown on illegal immigration — employing aggressive, controversial tactics such as arresting people suspected of being in the country illegally while they were in court seeking redress on matters including domestic violence complaints. Immigration agents have made 43 percent more arrests since Trump took office than in the same time period last year, but fewer deportations have taken place than in the comparable period last year.
Nielsen is not expected to face a difficult confirmation process in the Senate. She is widely viewed as a competent, experienced and nonpartisan security professional.
Given that polarizing and ideological figures such as former Milwaukee County sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach were previously rumored to be in the running for the DHS job, mostly for their hard-line views on immigration, the Nielsen choice would be more evidence of Kelly’s ability to consolidate control and move the administration in a more conventional, mainstream direction.
Some of the president’s senior advisers, including Stephen Miller, were said to favor an immigration hard-liner who would excite Trump’s base.
But the Nielsen pick would preserve the DHS’s reputation as an agency whose core mission is counterterrorism and national security.
Democrats and critics of the president said they were looking for a nominee with counterterrorism experience and a familiarity with DHS operations, and Nielsen would qualify on both counts.
What’s most important from where the world meets Washington
“Nielsen’s nomination is a strong signal of competence and experience being valued by the White House over ideologues and outsiders,” said Stewart Verdery, a Republican lobbyist who worked in the department during the George W. Bush administration. “The homeland mission requires an unusual, diverse set of skills, and she has expertise in almost all of them.”
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge (R), the first secretary of homeland security, said in a statement that Nielsen was a “homeland security veteran” who was “extremely well versed in the all-hazard threats” challenging the nation’s security and resilience.
“Kirstjen can hit the ground running and there won’t be a learning curve,” Ridge said. “Most importantly, in this hyper-political environment, Kirstjen is not a self-promoter. She is a patriot and takes a mission-focused approach to her work.”
Seems like a logical, qualified choice. Pretty scary, since Trump almost never acts logically nor are the majority of his most visible picks qualified for their positions.
That being said, it probably doesn’t make much difference for immigration. The de facto DHS Secretary for Immigration is Sessions. And the “Gonzo” Enforcement policies are driven by Sessions’s White Nationalist xenophobia, parrotted by ICE’s Tom Homan, and the largely arbitrary whims of line agents. That’s not likely to change under Nielsen.