TRUMP HELPING TO ENABLE FAMINE THAT THREATENS LIVES OF MILLIONS!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/how-trump-is-enabling-famine/2017/08/20/f687dda2-835d-11e7-902a-2a9f2d808496_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-d%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.69ae0886ac93

Jackson Diehl writes in the Washington Post:

“That’s where the real responsibility of President Trump lies, too. His pathological need to focus attention on himself has created the vortex into which public discourse on vital issues such as this disappears. But his larger offense has been his love affair with the despotic regimes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which are largely responsible for creating — and perpetuating — the food and cholera crises in Yemen.

The problem is this: About 90 percent of food and medicine for Yemenis is imported through a seaport, Hodeida, which is controlled by Yemeni rebels against whom the Saudis and their allies have unsuccessfully waged war for the past 2½ years. In the name of enforcing an arms embargo, the Saudis have blockaded Hodeida from the sea and also forced the closure of the international airport in the capital, Sanaa. Ships carrying food and approved by the U.N. are supposed to be allowed to dock, but in practice are often held up by the Saudis.

The result, says Joel Charny of the Norwegian Refugee Council USA, is that the Yemen crisis “is not about aid or aid dollars.” It’s about the blockade — and the Trump administration is complicit. It is backing the Saudi war effort with intelligence and military supplies and, says Charny, “failing to pressure the Saudis to do basic things that would remediate the situation.”

 

Two weeks ago, the U.N. Security Council finally took action on this problem, unanimously adopting a statement calling on “all parties” to “facilitate access for essential imports of food.” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley issued her own broadside, saying that “we must hold governments and armed groups blocking access accountable.” Unfortunately, as Charny puts it, “that is not actually U.S. policy, if you look objectively at what is going on.” In fact, Trump is, in more ways than one, enabling famine.”

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Read the complete story at the link.

Just another day at the office for a President who lacks compassion and can’t take responsibility for the consequences.

PWS

08-20-17

 

BREAKING: SPLIT DECISION — SUPREMES SAY YES TO GRANDPARENTS, DEMUR ON REFUGEES (FOR NOW)!

Here’s the report from NPR News:

Merrit Kennedy, reporting:

“The Supreme Court has upheld parts of a lower court order that had widened the definition of which citizens from the six Muslim-majority countries covered by the Trump administration’s travel ban are still eligible to travel to the U.S.

The order issued Wednesday leaves in place the action of a U.S. District Court judge in Hawaii who broadened the definition of close family to include categories such as the grandparents and cousins of a person in the U.S.

However, the Supreme Court blocked another part of the lower court order that said citizens with formal assurances from a U.S. refugee resettlement agency are eligible.

Since the travel ban was introduced, defining which citizens from the six countries are exempt has been redefined multiple times.

Last month, as we reported, the Supreme Court ruled that parts of the Trump administration’s ban can take effect while the justices prepare to hear oral arguments on the case later this year.

But the court said people from the six countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — can be exempted from the ban if they have a “bona fide relationship” with a person in the U.S., including close family members.

The legal question here is centered on how to define a “bona fide relationship.” As we reported, the Trump administration argued that assurances from a refugee agency are “not sufficient” to constitute this relationship.

However, the judge in Hawaii rejected this argument. “An assurance from a United States refugee resettlement agency, in fact, meets each of the Supreme Court’s touchstones: it is formal, it is a documented contract, it is binding, it triggers responsibilities and obligations,” District Court Judge Derrick Watson wrote. “Bona fide does not get any more bona fide than that.”

The Supreme Court justices, however, stayed that portion of the judge’s order without elaborating. It sent the case back to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a ruling. The Trump administration had asked the high court to settle the dispute, leapfrogging the 9th Circuit, which the justices denied without comment.

The order said Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch would have stayed the entire lower court order, including the broadening of close family categories.

Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA senior director of campaigns, stated that Wednesday’s order “jeopardizes the safety of thousands of people across the world including vulnerable families fleeing war and violence.”

Earlier this week, the State Department released new instructions to U.S. embassies and consulates to implement the Hawaii federal court’s order expanded definition of close family to include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, and cousins.”

Here is link to copy of the brief per curium order:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/071917zr_o7jp.pdf

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Six Justices of the Court appear ready to “just say no” to some parts of the “blanket ban” on the current record. However, they obviously deem “refugees” a closer case, leaving that for the Ninth Circuit to review first. So, there is still a chance that refugees ultimately will prevail. But, as I’ve said many times before, it’s one of the worst times in recent history to be a refugee.

PWS

07-19-17

 

UNDER THE RADAR: Trump Administration Implementing “Muslim Ban” Without Fanfare!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/18/opinion/trump-muslim-ban-supreme-court.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170718&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=3&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

“Lost amid the uproar over the Trump administration’s travel restrictions on citizens from Muslim-majority countries and the impending showdown at the Supreme Court are the insidious ways that the government has already begun to impose a Muslim ban.

It’s doing so through deceptively boring means: increasing administrative hurdles and cementing or even expanding the current travel restrictions that are not under review at the court. The collective impact of these changes will be that a permanent Muslim ban is enshrined into American immigration policy.

. . . .

The Twitterverse and cable news pundits are unlikely to be mobilized by policy changes that come about through these types of bureaucratic processes. Most people are not closely following the intricacies of visa vetting and screening.

That’s a shame because there is already evidence that they are working. The number of visas issued to citizens from Muslim-majority countries has decreased by double digits. Among nearly 50 Muslim-majority countries, nonimmigrant visas declined almost 20 percent in April, compared with the monthly average from 2016. Visas issued to people from Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen, the six countries on the travel ban list, were down 55 percent. Those figures will continue to get worse if these other provisions are implemented.

Finally, consider an embarrassing incident. An Afghan girls’ robotics team was initially denied entry into the United States to participate in a science competition. It was only after public outcry and an intervention by President Trump that they were granted passage. Situations like that are also likely to have a chilling effect on people from Muslim-majority countries, resulting in further decreases.

A Muslim ban, even when implemented through seemingly mundane bureaucratic processes, simply has no place in our country.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S WAR ON AMERICA — Proposals To Restrict Student Visas & Reduce Legal Immigration Will Hurt Economy, National Standing

These articles from today’s Washington Post highlight three “gonzo” immigration proposals driven by the Trump Administration’s white nationalist agenda.

First, the proposal to require nonimmigrant students in the U.S. to apply for annual extensions of stay would roll back the “duration of status program” for students — arguably the single best and most mutually beneficial efficiency move in the history of INS/USCIS. It would also create chaos in student visa programs that not only keep many colleges and universities financially viable, but also fuel American innovation and technological advances in the STEM fields.

Second, proposals to make visa issuance a law enforcement function within the DHS would lead to chaos in the visa issuing program and probably will result in retaliation by other friendly nations. Visas are part of the foreign commerce of the U.S., not a domestic law enforcement program.

Finally, proposals to reduce legal immigration and further restrict legal opportunities for unskilled workers would deprive the U.S. of workers at a time when the growing economy needs them the most. This short-sighted policy would likely lead to the same type of economic stagnation that has plagued EU countries and Japan over the past several decades.

Read the articles here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-latest-nativist-trump-proposals-would-actually-hurt-american-institutions/2017/07/17/c85765fc-67eb-11e7-8eb5-cbccc2e7bfbf_story.html?utm_term=.570c8e41fee6

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/07/17/cutting-legal-immigration-50-percent-might-be-trumps-worst-economic-policy-yet/?utm_term=.ac7808d8383d

Restrictionist policies driven by xenophobia and racism inevitably lead to disaster.

PWS

07-18-17

COLBERT I. KING IN WASHPOST OP-ED: “Americans put Trump in the Oval Office. What does that say about the country?”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americans-put-trump-in-the-oval-office-what-does-that-say-about-americans/2017/07/14/e6dd8996-67e8-11e7-a1d7-9a32c91c6f40_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.490e8d0e535b

King writes:

“The vaudeville show that’s running at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue didn’t book itself into the White House. Nearly 63 million Americans sent that burlesque comedy with headliner Donald Trump to Washington. That 66 million other voters thought otherwise is beside the point. Trump didn’t anoint himself president. Millions put him in office.

What does that tell us about the country?

Was hatred of President Barack Obama, fear of Hillary Clinton, outrage over America’s perceived direction enough to transfer the reins to Trump?

It’s not as if the Trump on display in the Oval Office is not the same Trump we saw on the campaign trail or on reality TV or out and about touting his businesses. He was, by any yardstick, the most unqualified presidential nominee in modern history.

Trump didn’t seize the presidency by deception. For months on end, he was out there for all voters to see, measure and judge. Some of us did offer our preelection assessments, based upon his campaign, well before time came to cast ballots.

In my view, Trump showed himself to be one who could be neither out-demagogued nor out-nastied.

Well in advance of the vote, the country heard Trump’s vile insults and claims: Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists; Obama wasn’t born in the United States and was an illegitimate president.

 

And his attacks on people. Megyn Kelly: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” Jews: “The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): “He’s not a war hero . . . I like people that weren’t captured.” My journalist colleague Serge Kovaleski, who has limited mobility in his arms: “Now the poor guy, you ought to see this guy,” Trump said, before contorting his arms in an apparent impersonation.

Trump the candidate showed himself to be an ignorant, undisciplined, ranting bully who exaggerated and lied without shame. A man who wore a tough-guy masculinity but was actually a coward, who picked on women, demeaned minorities and was thoroughly lacking in human decency.

Trump’s character defects were on full display well before the polls opened.

President Trump’s behavior in the White House has been equally as disgusting and beneath the dignity of that high office.

And now our nation’s capital is being wrenched apart by the Trump-Russia scandal and congressional and federal investigations into the Kremlin’s intrusion in the election.

The country can’t claim not to have seen this coming.”

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Read King’s full op-ed at the link.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the Trump fiasco is that although he might be “historically unpopular,” his support in the polls has remained steady at around 35% – 40%. That means that at least 1/3 of Americans are willing to accept incompetence, dishonesty, bias, racism, xenophobia, intentional cruelty and divisiveness, nepotism, bullying, anti-intellectualism, scientific ignorance, undermining national security, and misogyny as the “new norms” in America. It essentially means that a substantial number of our fellow Americans have put themselves out of reach of rational political dialogue. That’s going to make America “tough to govern” no matter who wins the next round of elections.

PWS

07-15-17

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ASKS SUPREMES TO INTERVENE (AGAIN) IN TRAVEL BAN CASE!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-supreme-court-travel-appeal_us_596980fde4b017418627ad08

HuffPost reports:

“The U.S. Justice Department on Friday asked the Supreme Court to block a judge’s ruling that prevented President Donald Trump’s travel ban from being applied to grandparents of U.S. citizens and refugees already being processed by resettlement agencies.

In a court filing, the administration asked the justices to overturn Thursday’s decision by a U.S. district judge in Hawaii, which limited the scope of the administration’s temporary ban on refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries.

The latest round in the fight over Trump’s March 6 executive order, which he says is needed for national security reasons, came after the Supreme Court intervened last month to partially revive the two bans, which were blocked by lower courts.

The Supreme Court said then that the ban could take effect, but that people with a “bona fide relationship” to a U.S. person or entity could not be barred.

The administration had narrowly interpreted that language, saying the ban would apply to grandparents and other family members, prompting the state of Hawaii to ask Hawaii-based U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson to expand the definition of who could be admitted. He ruled for the state late on Thursday.

In the court filing, the Justice Department said the judge’s ruling “empties the (Supreme) Court’s decision of meaning, as it encompasses not just “close” family members but virtually all family members.

The conservative-leaning Supreme Court is not currently in session but the justices can handle emergency requests. The administration’s application could be directed either to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has responsibility for emergency requests from western states, or to the nine justices as a whole. If the court as a whole is asked to weigh in, five votes are needed to grant such a request.

“The truth here is that the government’s interpretation of the Supreme Court’s stay order defies common sense,” said Omar Jadwat, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union involved in challenging the ban. “That’s what the district court correctly found and the attorney general’s misleading attacks on its decision can’t change that fact.”

In his decision, Watson harshly criticized the government’s definition of close family relations as “the antithesis of common sense.”

Watson also ruled that the assurance by a resettlement agency to provide basic services to a newly arrived refugee constitutes an adequate connection to the United States because it is a sufficiently formal and documented agreement that triggers responsibilities and compensation.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Wow, for a group that despises and disses Federal Judges on a regular basis, the Trumpsters seem to be always calling on them for help!

Hard to see what the “emergency” would be that can’t wait till October.

PWS

07-14-17

 

BREAKING: GRANDPARENTS, REFUGEES WIN, TRUMP LOSES (AGAIN) — JUDGE WATSON EXPANDS TRAVEL BAN EXCEPTIONS!

Here’s U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson’s full opinion:

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3894503/Hawaii-v-Trump-Motify-Injunction-Order.pdf

KEY EXCERPTS

“PREDETERMINED AND UNDULY RESTRICTIVE:”

“First, the Government’s utilization of the specific, family-based visa provisions of the INA identified above constitutes cherry-picking and resulted in a

predetermined and unduly restrictive reading of “close familial relationship.” Other, equally relevant federal immigration statutes define a close family in a much broader manner.”

“ANTHESIS OF COMMON SENSE:”

“In sum, the Government’s definition of “close familial relationship” is not only not compelled by the Supreme Court’s June 26 decision, but contradicts it.

Equally problematic, the Government’s definition represents the antithesis of common sense. Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents. Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The Government’s definition excludes them. That simply cannot be. See generally Klayman v. Obama, 142 F. Supp. 3d 172, 188 (D.D.C. 2015) (noting that courts should not “abandon all common sense” when considering injunctive relief).”

“BONA FIDE DOES NOT GET ANY MORE BONA FIDE THAN THAT:”

“Nothing in the Supreme Court’s decision requires a refugee to enter into a contract with a United States entity in order to demonstrate the type of formal relationship necessary to avoid the effects of EO-2. An assurance from a United States refugee resettlement agency, in fact, meets each of the Supreme Court’s touchstones: it is formal, it is a documented contract, it is binding, it triggers responsibilities and obligations, including compensation, it is issued specific to an individual refugee only when that refugee has been approved for entry by the Department of Homeland Security, and it is issued in the ordinary course, and historically has been for decades. See Slip Op. at 12. Bona fide does not get any more bona fide than that.11 Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ Motion is granted with respect to this specific request for injunctive relief.”

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PWS

07-14-17

THERE IS A REAL THREAT TO OUR NATIONAL SECURITY — AND IT’S GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH GRANDPARENTS, MEXICAN WORKERS, OR CENTRAL AMERICAN REFUGEES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-behavior-is-the-biggest-threat-to-us-national-security/2017/07/09/a5d3a842-64a8-11e7-8eb5-cbccc2e7bfbf_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-b%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.6a555fb6107b

Lawrence H. Summers writes in a WashPost op-ed:

“Confusing civility with comity is a grave mistake in human or international relations. Yes, the Group of 20 summit issued a common communique after the leaders’ meeting. Some see this as an indication that some normality is being restored in international relations between the United States and other countries. The truth is that at no previous G-20 did the possibility occur to anyone that a common statement might not be agreed to by all participants.

Rather than considering agreement on a communique as an achievement, it is more honest and accurate to see its content as a confirmation of the breakdown of international order that many have feared since Donald Trump’s election. And the president’s behavior in and around the summit was unsettling to U.S. allies and confirmed the fears of those who believe that his conduct is currently the greatest threat to American national security.

The existence of the G-20 as an annual forum arose out of a common belief of major nations in a global community with common interests in peace, mutual security, prosperity and economic integration, and the containment of global threats, even as there was competition among nations in the security and economic realms. The idea that the United States should lead in the development of international community has been a central tenet of American foreign policy since the end of World War II. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the aspiration to international community has been an aspiration to global community.

All of this is troubling enough. The elephant in the room, however, is the president’s character and likely behavior in the difficult times that come during any presidential term. Biographer Robert Caro has observed that power may or may not corrupt but it always reveals. Trump has yet to experience a period of economic difficulty or international economic crisis. He has not yet had to make a major military decision in a time of crisis. Yet his behavior has been, to put it mildly, erratic.

. . . .

A corporate chief executive whose public behavior was as erratic as Trump’s would already have been replaced. The standard for democratically elected officials is appropriately different. But one cannot look at the past months and rule out the possibility of even more aberrant behavior in the future. The president’s Cabinet and his political allies in Congress should never forget that the oaths they swore were not to the defense of the president but to the defense of the Constitution.”

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The Administration’s fear-mongering, xenophobia, insulting rhetoric, environmental destruction, and sometimes outright racism is a smokescreen to divert attention from the real threat to American’s national security — Donald Trump, some of his right wing extremest supporters, and the “fellow travelers” in Congress otherwise known as the GOP.

PWS

07-09-17

 

 

 

WHITE NATIONALISTS IN WHITE HOUSE AIM TO STRIP VISA AND REFUGEE FUNCTIONS FROM STATE DEPT!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/battle-emerging-inside-trump-administration-over-who-controls-immigration-and-refugees/2017/07/09/006c6e9a-6357-11e7-8adc-fea80e32bf47_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-c%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.afef8f7696dd

Josh Rogin writes in a WashPost op-ed:

“When President Trump spoke of the need to defend Western civilization in Poland last week, many saw an effort by him and some of his top White House advisers to redefine the mission of American foreign policy away from building relationships and spreading democratic principles, to a more protective stance drawing sharp lines between the United States and those perceived as threats.

One emerging flash point in that struggle is the internal administration debate over which part of the government should be in charge of deciding who gets into the United States.

Ever since the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1952, that mission has been charged to the State Department. Thousands of diplomats not only stamp passports and issue visas, but also craft policy and make recommendations about who gets to visit, work and seek refuge in the United States. That tradition has now come into question.

A document crafted by senior White House advisers, first reported by CNN, includes proposals to move the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs and Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration over to the Department of Homeland Security. White House policy adviser Stephen Miller, who helped craft the document, has reportedly been pushing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to get “tougher” on immigration, vetting and refugee policy at the State Department.

. . . .

That nativist strain in the White House is represented by Miller, who was the principal author of Trump’s travel ban, which targeted six Muslim-majority countries, as well as of Trump’s speech last week in Poland, which cast the mission of U.S. foreign policy as one based on threats, not relationships.

“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” Trump said. “Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”

Viewing immigration and refugee programs through that lens alone is the opposite of courage. Only through a humane, non-discriminatory approach, led by diplomats and integrated with the rest of American foreign policy, can the United States achieve long-term stability abroad and security at home.”

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Sometimes, all you need to know about a “bureaucratic reorganization” is who is sponsoring it. On its face, combining all immigration related functions in one agency could make sense and has been discussed in various forums for years. But, once we know that racist white nationalist Stephen Miller, a disciple of Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions, is sponsoring the proposal, it’s obvious that it has nothing to do with efficiency or security and everything to do with advancing a racist, xenophobic, white nationalist agenda. That an out of touch, anti-social, extremist like Miller, who has no known positive accomplishments in his life, should be in the White House and shaping national and international policy should be of concern to every American who believes in the tenants of Western liberal democracy.

PWS

07-09-17

 

 

9th Stuffs Hawaii On Travel Ban 2.0 — No Jurisdiction!

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/341072-hawaii-loses-final-appeal-to-narrow-scope-of-travel-ban

Alicia Cohn reports in The Hill:

“Hawaii must wait on the Supreme Court to rule on President Trump’s so-called travel ban after losing a Friday appeal on an emergency motion to narrow the scope of the ban.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled it does not have jurisdiction to clarify the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision regarding the ban, Reuters reported.

The Supreme Court last month granted the Trump administration’s request to implement part of the travel ban meant to temporarily block people from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

The ban as currently implemented prevents travelers from six predominately Muslim countries entering the country if they lack a “bona fide relationship with any person or entity in the United States.”

Trump called the Supreme Court order a “clear victory for our national security.”

Hawaii challenged the ban in its current form this week, asking the U.S. District Court of the District of Hawaii to narrow its scope to define “bona fide relationship.” The state called it “preposterous” that the phrase does not appear to include fiances or grandparents.

However, a federal court judge said the state will have to turn to the Supreme Court for clarity.

“Because plaintiffs seek clarification of the June 26, 2017 injunction modifications authored by the Supreme Court, clarification should be sought there, not here,” District Court Judge Derrick K. Watson of the District Court of the District of Hawaii wrote.

Hawaii then filed an appeal Friday that was also denied.

The Supreme Court will hear the travel ban case when it returns for the fall term, which begins in October.”

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Looks like the DHS definitions will remain in effect at least until the Fall.

 

PWS

07-09-17

 

 

TRAVEL BAN UPDATE: Hawaii Federal Judge Rebuffs Plaintiffs’ Attempt To Broaden Travel Ban Exception — Only The Supremes Can Clarify — Grandparents Of Americans Stiffed!

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/us-judge-in-hawaii-leaves-trumps-travel-ban-rules-in-place/2017/07/06/dedcf73a-62b7-11e7-80a2-8c226031ac3f_story.html?utm_term=.4b44cb00533

Audrey McEvoy of AP reports in the Washington Post:

“HONOLULU — A federal judge in Hawaii on Thursday left Trump administration rules in place for a travel ban on citizens from six majority-Muslim countries.

U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson denied an emergency motion filed by Hawaii asking him to clarify what the U.S. Supreme Court meant by a “bona fide” relationship in its ruling last month.

The Supreme Court ruled the administration could mostly enforce its travel ban, but said those “with a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” could enter.

Watson says the relationship question would be better posed to the Supreme Court, not him.

“This court will not upset the Supreme Court’s careful balancing and ‘equitable judgment,’” Watson said in his order.

Hawaii attorney general Doug Chin objected to the administration’s omission of grandparents, aunts and uncles from its list of people meeting the definition of a close relationship.

The Trump administration has said the exemption to the ban would apply to citizens of the six countries with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in an emailed statement that it was pleased with the decision.

“If the plaintiffs elect to proceed, we are confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will again vindicate the President and his constitutional duty to protect the national security of the United States,” the department said.

The Hawaii Attorney General’s Office noted after the ruling that the district court did not address the substance of either party’s arguments and instead focused on the procedural question about which court is the appropriate forum to decide the issue.

“The scope of the travel and refugee bans badly needs to be resolved and not just according to the Trump administration’s interpretation,” Chin said.

Hakim Ouansafi, president of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, said he respects Watson’s ruling but thinks there will be more opportunities to ensure the ban does not exclude grandparents and others close family members.

“We will have people directly affected by this, for sure,” Ouansafi said. “When you exclude that many people, the circle is much wider.”

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Read the complete story at the link.

One problem when an appellate court emasculates the trial judge at a preliminary stage of the case is that the higher court then “owns” the case. But, in this particular situation, the Supremes are out to recess until Fall. So, the Trump Administration appears to have won this round because right now the plaintiffs realistically have no forum for their complaint. We can all sleep better knowing that we are protected from a few grandparents of U.S. citizens!

PWS

07-07-17

N. RAPPAPORT IN HUFFPOST: ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE SHOULDN’T BE AN ISSUE IF SUPREMES EVER REACH MERITS OF TRAVEL BAN CASE!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/5956805de4b0f078efd9894c

Nolan writes:

“May not need to state a reason at all.

In Kleindienst v. Mandel, the Court observed that, without exception, it has sustained Congress’ “plenary power to make rules for the admission of aliens.” And, “The power of Congress …. to have its declared policy in that regard enforced exclusively through executive officers, without judicial intervention, is settled by our previous adjudications.” (Page 408 U. S. 766).

Mandel held that when Congress has made a conditional delegation of its plenary power over the exclusion of aliens to the Executive Branch, and the Executive Branch exercises this power “on the basis of a facially legitimate and bona fide reason,” the courts will not look behind the exercise of that discretion.

The next sentence in Mandel indicates that it may not be necessary to state the reason. “What First Amendment or other grounds may be available for attacking [an] exercise of discretion for which no justification whatsoever is advanced is a question we neither address nor decide in this case.” (Page 408 U. S. 769-70).

No basis for finding religious discrimination in the language of the order.

But the travel ban order does state a reason, and the District Court for the District of Hawaii found no basis in the stated reason or elsewhere in the language of the order for suspecting that the real purpose of the ban was religious discrimination:

It is undisputed that the Executive Order does not facially discriminate for or against any particular religion, or for or against religion versus non-religion. There is no express reference, for instance, to any religion nor does the Executive Order — unlike its predecessor — contain any term or phrase that can be reasonably characterized as having a religious origin or connotation (page 30).
Does it matter if other explanations for the travel ban are possible?

The district court nevertheless went on to find that religious discrimination was the real reason for the ban. In other words, the court finds two reasons, the stated one, which does not reflect religious discrimination, and the real reason, which was found in Trump’s calls for a Muslim ban when he was still campaigning.

Other areas of immigration law do require a weighing of conflicting reasons. An alien is not eligible for an immigration benefit on the basis of a sham marriage, which is defined as a marriage that was entered into for the primary purpose of circumventing the immigration laws. But if the primary reason was that the couple was in love and wanted to spend their lives together, the fact that they got married so the alien spouse could stay in America does not make the marriage a sham.

In the present case, however, the Court will not be weighing reasons to determine which one is primary. It will be interpreting an unambiguous statutory provision that does not require the stated reason to be the primary one. It doesn’t even require the president to say why he made the finding. Section 212(f) has no requirements at all. The president just has to proclaim that he has found that that “the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

If opponents of the travel ban find this unacceptable, their only recourse is to lobby Congress to revise section 212(f).

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years; he subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years.”

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Man, Nolan is prolific, appearing not only in The Hill on an almost weekly basis, but in HuffPost and other publications as well! And, it’s all “original stuff.”  I have a hard time just keeping up with posting his articles!

Nolan might be right, if Trump can keep from shooting off his mouth and undermining his own case, as he has done in the past. But, that’s a big “if!” And to date, I’ve seen nothing to indicate that 1) Trump possesses the quality of self control, or 2) that anyone else can impose it on him. So, I wouldn’t underestimate Trump’s ability to screw this up. Perhaps, Nolan is just hoping that Trump will show some restraint.

PWS

07-01-17

WHAT’S TRUMP’S TRAVEL BAN PROTECTING US FROM? — DUH, NOTHING, OF COURSE — But, It IS Distracting Attention From The REAL Threat To Our National Security!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/06/26/supreme-court-partially-restores-trump-travel-ban-which-wouldnt-have-kept-out-anyone-behind-deadly-terrorist-attacks/?utm_term=.b3e979184075

Mark Berman writes in the Washington Post:

“The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to let a limited version of President Trump’s travel ban take effect, so we are republishing an updated version of this story.

President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning travelers from six Muslim-majority nations due to “heightened concerns about terrorism” was quickly frozen by the courts, much like an earlier version of the ban, until the Supreme Court acted on Monday.

The justices said they would let the ban partially take effect and, in the ruling, announced plans to consider the case later this year. The Supreme Court made a key exception, saying the ban could not be “enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” But otherwise, the Trump administration is now free to impose a 90-day ban on travelers from six countries that it had said posed certain “national security risks.”

The second travel ban had something big in common with the first version: It would not have kept out of the United States anyone responsible for a deadly terrorist attack since 2001.”

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Read the complete article (with charts and map) at the above link.

Question of the Day:

In any “normal” Administration, how many of the characters holding positions in the Trump White House would be granted high level security clearances (including, of course, the “Tweeter-in-Chief” himself)?

PWS

06-30-17

 

 

 

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S WAR ON AMERICA’S GREATNESS CONTINUES –TILLERSON DECONSTRUCTS CENTURIES OF AMERICAN DIPLOMACY!

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/06/29/how-rex-tillerson-destroying-state-department-215319

Max Bergmann writes in Politico:

“The deconstruction of the State Department is well underway.

I recently returned to Foggy Bottom for the first time since January 20 to attend the departure of a former colleague and career midlevel official—something that had sadly become routine. In my six years at State as a political appointee, under the Obama administration, I had gone to countless of these events. They usually followed a similar pattern: slightly awkward, but endearing formalities, a sense of melancholy at the loss of a valued teammate. But, in the end, a rather jovial celebration of a colleague’s work. These events usually petered out quickly, since there is work to do. At the State Department, the unspoken mantra is: The mission goes on, and no one is irreplaceable. But this event did not follow that pattern. It felt more like a funeral, not for the departing colleague, but for the dying organization they were leaving behind.

As I made the rounds and spoke with usually buttoned-up career officials, some who I knew well, some who I didn’t, from a cross section of offices covering various regions and functions, no one held back. To a person, I heard that the State Department was in “chaos,” “a disaster,” “terrible,” the leadership “totally incompetent.” This reflected what I had been hearing the past few months from friends still inside the department, but hearing it in rapid fire made my stomach churn. As I walked through the halls once stalked by diplomatic giants like Dean Acheson and James Baker, the deconstruction was literally visible. Furniture from now-closed offices crowded the hallways. Dropping in on one of my old offices, I expected to see a former colleague—a career senior foreign service officer—but was stunned to find out she had been abruptly forced into retirement and had departed the previous week. This office, once bustling, had just one person present, keeping on the lights.

This is how diplomacy dies. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. With empty offices on a midweek afternoon.

When Rex Tillerson was announced as secretary of state, there was a general feeling of excitement and relief in the department. After eight years of high-profile, jet-setting secretaries, the building was genuinely looking forward to having someone experienced in corporate management. Like all large, sprawling organizations, the State Department’s structure is in perpetual need of an organizational rethink. That was what was hoped for, but that is not what is happening. Tillerson is not reorganizing, he’s downsizing.

While the lack of senior political appointees has gotten a lot of attention, less attention has been paid to the hollowing out of the career workforce, who actually run the department day to day. Tillerson has canceled the incoming class of foreign service officers. This as if the Navy told all of its incoming Naval Academy officers they weren’t needed. Senior officers have been unceremoniously pushed out. Many saw the writing on the wall and just retired, and many others are now awaiting buyout offers. He has dismissed State’s equivalent of an officer reserve—retired FSOs, who are often called upon to fill State’s many short-term staffing gaps, have been sent home despite no one to replace them. Office managers are now told three people must depart before they can make one hire. And now Bloomberg reports that Tillerson is blocking all lateral transfers within the department, preventing staffers from moving to another office even if it has an opening. Managers can’t fill openings; employees feel trapped.

Despite all this, career foreign and civil service officers are all still working incredibly hard representing the United States internationally. They’re still doing us proud. But how do you manage multimillion-dollar programs with no people? Who do you send to international meetings and summits? Maybe, my former colleagues are discovering, you just can’t implement that program or show up to that meeting. Tillerson’s actions amount to a geostrategic own-goal, weakening America by preventing America from showing up.

State’s growing policy irrelevance and Tillerson’s total aversion to the experts in his midst is prompting the department’s rising stars to search for the exits. The private sector and the Pentagon are vacuuming them up. This is inflicting long-term damage to the viability of the American diplomacy—and things were already tough. State has been operating under an austerity budget for the past six years since the 2011 Budget Control Act. Therefore, when Tillerson cuts, he is largely cutting into bone, not fat. The next administration won’t simply be able to flip a switch and reverse the damage. It takes years to recruit and develop diplomatic talent. What Vietnam did to hollow out our military, Tillerson is doing to State.”

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While Trump and his cronies fabricate security threats from refugees, Muslims, and immigrants (and, I guess we can now add “grandparents” to that list), the greatest threat to our national security is the Trump Administration itself and its toxic mix of arrogance, incompetence, ignorance, and disdain for America and all it has stood for.

PWS

06-25-17

HAWAII CHALLENGES TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S RE-IMPLEMENTATION OF TRAVEL BAN — CLAIMS GOV DEFINITIONS VIOLATE SUPREME’S ORDER! — JUDGE WATSON TO DECIDE!


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/travel-ban-hawaii_us_595594eee4b05c37bb7d3390

Mollie Reilly reports for HuffPost:

“Hawaii has filed a challenge to the State Department’s implementation of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, disputing the administration’s guidelines for what relationships to the U.S. are necessary to continue travel to the country.

Hawaii is challenging guidance issued by the State Department on Wednesday that says travelers from the six banned countries must have formal ties or close family relationships with someone or an entity within the U.S. Having familial ties “does not include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, fiancés, and any other ‘extended’ family members,” the guidance said. (The State Department later said fiancés would, in fact, count as close family.)

In its motion, Hawaii asked a federal judge to clarify that the Trump administration can’t enforce those bans.

“The state of Hawaii is entitled to the enforcement of the injunction that it has successfully defended, in large part, up to the Supreme Court — one that protects the State’s residents and their loved ones from an illegal and unconstitutional Executive Order,” reads the state’s motion.

“In Hawaii, ‘close family’ includes many of the people that the federal government decided on its own to exclude from that definition,” said Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin. “Unfortunately, this severely limited definition may be in violation of the Supreme Court ruling.”

Trump signed the executive order, which seeks to ban travel to the U.S. for most nationals of six Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and suspend refugee resettlement for 120 days, in March.

The travel ban went into effect Thursday, three days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to partially reinstate a watered-down version of it before the court hears arguments on its constitutionality in October.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court specified that the ban could be implemented with the exception of individuals who have “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United State.” The court, however, did not specify what qualifies as a “bona fide” relationship, thus leaving the matter up to State Department interpretation.

In March, Hawaii became the first state to sue to block Trump’s second attempt at a travel ban, which included citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, all majority-Muslim countries. In its suit, the state said its universities would be hurt by the ban because they would struggle to recruit faculty and students. It also argued that the ban would have a detrimental effect on tourism, critical to the state’s economy.”

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Stay tuned for the results!

PWS

06-30-17