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.
“PRESIDENT TRUMP has often spoken and tweeted of the soft spot in his “great heart” for “dreamers,” the hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to this country as children. This supposed concern has now been revealed as a con.
Offered bipartisan legislation in the Senate that would have protected 1.8 million dreamers from deportation, in return for a down payment on the $25 billion wall Mr. Trump assured voters that Mexico would finance, the president showed his cards. The deal was a “total catastrophe,” the president said, punctuating a day in which the White House mustered all its political firepower in an effort to bury the last best chance to protect an absolutely blameless cohort of young people, raised and educated as Americans.
Despite the withering scorn heaped on the bipartisan plan by Mr. Trump, with a hearty second by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), eight Republican senators backed it, giving it a total of 54 votes — six shy of the 60 required for passage. Had Mr. Trump stayed silent, or suggested he could accept a modified version, the bill may very well have passed. But he turns out to be far less interested helping the dreamers — helping anyone, really — than in maintaining his anti-immigrant political base.
His own blueprint, an obvious nonstarter that included sharp cuts to legal immigration, mustered just 39 votes in the Senate, nearly all Republicans. That’s a telling total, one that mirrors the percentage of Americans who still support him. Of the four immigration measures voted on in the Senate last week, the Trump bill had the least support.
The White House wasn’t surprised. By yoking its proposal for protecting dreamers to a hard-line wish list, the president guaranteed its defeat — and maintained the president’s own bona fides as a resolute champion of the nation’s xenophobes.
The president, along with Mr. McConnell, is intent on a blame game, not a solution. He suggested no compromises and engaged in no negotiations, preferring to stick with maximalist demands. Despite barely mentioning it as a candidate, Mr. Trump has not budged from insisting on a plan to reduce annual legal immigrants to the United States by hundreds of thousands, to the lowest level in decades.
That’s bad policy for a country with an aging population and an unemployment rate that ranks among the lowest in the industrialized world. More to the point, even if you favor lower levels, it was guaranteed in the context of this debate to doom the dreamers — especially after Democrats had already compromised substantially on the border security that Mr. Trump initially set as his price.
And what of the dreamers, whom Mr. Trump addressed repeatedly in calming tones, telling them not to worry? For the time being, federal courts have preserved their work permits and protections from deportation. Meanwhile, though, his administration is pressing ahead, asking the Supreme Court to uphold the president’s effort to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that has shielded dreamers since 2012.
If the administration is successful, as many legal experts expect, the lives, hopes and futures of nearly 2 million young immigrants will be upended. They will lose jobs and, in many cases, driver’s licenses, tuition subsidies and health insurance. They will slip into the shadows in the only country they know. This will be Mr. Trump’s legacy and the true reflection of his “great heart.”
As pointed out in this editorial, the best chance for a compromise, basically “Dreamers for Wall,” likely would have passed both Houses had Trump put himself fully behind it and pressured McConnell and Ryan to make it happen. But, that was never in the cards. The whole charade was always about Trump looking for a way to avoid taking responsibility for the Dreamer fiasco and proving to his “base” that he never really lost sight of their racist views.
About the only good thing was that the Administration’s “Miller-drafted” “Advancing White Supremacy and Xenophobic Racism Act of 2018” was defeated by the biggest margin of any of the proposals. But, that’s not much solace to the Dreamers, although it does help our country by staving off an insane cut in legal immigration that would have been “bad policy for a country with an aging population and an unemployment rate that ranks among the lowest in the industrialized world.”
“This is a messaging document,” Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at the White House.
Here are eight messages that the White House sends with its wish list:
1. Touching third rails he said he wouldn’t:
As a candidate, Trump repeatedly said he would never cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.
Now he proposes cutting Medicare by $554 billion and Medicaid by around $250 billion over the next decade.
His plan includes new per-person limits on the amount of health care each Medicaid enrollee can use and a dramatic shift toward block grants, which would allow states to tighten eligibility requirements and institute work requirements that would kick some off public assistance.
Impacting the middle class, Trump also calls for cutting the subsidies that allow more than four in five people with marketplace health plans to afford their insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act.
2. Scaling back support for the forgotten man:
Many displaced blue-collar workers in the Rust Belt took the president at his word when he promised to bring back their manufacturing jobs. But Trump’s budget calls for cutting funding for National Dislocated Worker Grants – which provides support to those who lose their jobs because of factory closures or natural disasters — from $219.5 million in 2017 to $51 million in 2019.
Also at the Labor Department, the president wants to slash support for the Adult Employment and Training Activities initiative, which serves high school dropouts and veterans, from $810 million last year to $490 million in 2019.
3. Giving up on a balanced budget:
Trump repeatedly promised that he would balance the budget “very quickly.” It turns out that a guy who has often described himself as the “king of debt” didn’t feel that passionately about deficits. Last year, he laid out a plan to balance the budget in 10 years. This year he didn’t even try. Trump now accepts annual deficits that will run over $1 trillion as the new normal.
Going further, the president also promised on the campaign trail that he’d get rid of the national debt altogether by the end of his second term. But his White House now projects that the national debt, which is already over $20 trillion, will grow more than $2 trillion over the next two years and by at least $7 trillion over the next decade. The administration repeatedly denied this in December as officials pushed to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion.
“After Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts in the 1980s, deficits exploded in the same range as Trump’s now, when calculated as a percentage of the economy, or gross domestic product. But Reagan’s famous ‘riverboat’ gamble came when the total national debt was a fraction of what it is today. Trump is pushing the envelope when debt is already near 80 percent of GDP, leaving far less room to maneuver if the economy turns downward,” David Rogers writes in Politico. “Economists and politicians alike don’t know what happens next. There’s all the edginess of breaking new ground. But also, as with Faulkner’s famous line, there is a sense that the past ‘is not even past.’ … Nothing now seems obvious, except red ink.”
Trump blames state of U.S. infrastructure on ‘laziness’ after WWII
4. Relying on fuzzy math:
Trump’s team knows full well that they’ll never get most of the spending cuts they’re proposing, but they’re using them to make the deficit look less bad than it really is. Just last Friday, the president signed into law an authorization bill that blows up the sequester and increases spending by more than $500 billion.
The White House also makes the unrealistic assumption that the economy will grow by more than 3 percent every year between now and 2024, which makes its projections for revenue growth rosier than they should be. No serious economist thinks that level of growth can be sustained. A recession seems probable in the next decade.
Senate Democrats noticed that Trump’s budget plan, if it was enacted, would actually result in a net decrease in federal spending on infrastructure. Chuck Schumer’s office identified more than $240 billion in proposed cuts over the coming decade to existing infrastructure programs, which is higher than the $200 billion Trump simultaneously proposed in new spending. “The cuts identified by Schumer’s office include a $122 billion reduction in outlays over the coming decade to the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for road projects and mass transit,” John Wagner reports. “Other proposed reductions would target an array of programs that fund rail, aviation [and] wastewater…”
In 1999, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush denounced a House Republican plan to save $8 billion by deferring tax credit payments for low-income people. “I don’t think they ought to balance their budget on the backs of the poor,” he said at a campaign stop. “I’m concerned for someone who is moving from near-poverty to middle class.”
That sentiment seems quaint now. While Trump has never claimed the mantle of “compassionate conservatism,” his budget validates several of the negative stereotypes that Bush tried to shed.
Trump wants to cut $214 billion from the food stamp program in the next decade, a reduction of nearly 30 percent.
The budget shows Ben Carson has no suction at the White House. Despite his efforts, the secretary of housing and urban development was unable to stop Trump from reducing Section 8 federal housing subsidies by more than $1 billion, zeroing out community development block grants and eliminating a $1.9 billion fund to cover public housing capital repairs. The 14 percent cut at HUD is even deeper than what Trump proposed last year.
The budget cuts 29 programs at the Education Department, many of which are designed to help needy children – including after-school activities to keep kids off the street and a grant program for college students with “exceptional financial need.” Trump’s plan also gets rid of a tuition initiative that makes college affordable for underprivileged D.C. residents, who don’t have access to strong in-state universities.
Trump wants to neuter the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by starving it of resources, limiting its enforcement power and changing its funding stream so that it’s more vulnerable to pressure from Wall Street.
He seeks to cut more than $2.5 billion from the annual budget of the Environmental Protection Agency, which is about a quarter of its spending. He’d eliminate funding for state radon-detection programs and end partnerships to monitor and restore water quality in the Gulf of Mexico, Puget Sound and other large bodies of water.
“Funding for the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay would fall from $72 million to $7 million, and a similar program for the Great Lakes would be cut from $300 million to $30 million — although neither would be wiped out,” Brady Dennis reports. “In addition, the Trump budget would eliminate — or very nearly eliminate — the agency’s programs related to climate change. Funding for the agency’s Office of Science and Technology would drop by more than a third, from $762 million to $489 million. And funding for prosecuting environmental crimes and for certain clean air and water programs would drop significantly.”
7. More guns, less butter:
Make no mistake, Trump is not calling for a reduction in the size of government. He seeks to spend $4.4 trillion next year, up 10 percent from last year. He’s calling for spending less on the homefront to cover a massive military buildup.
Trump asks for $716 billion in defense spending in 2019, a 13 percent increase. “The Trump plan provides more money for just about everything a general or admiral might desire,” Greg Jaffe notes. “The United States already spends more on its military than the next eight nations combined.”
Meanwhile, Trump proposes slashing the State Department’s budget by 23 percent. As Secretary of Defense James Mattis told Congress in 2013, when he was a Marine general leading Central Command: “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.”
Another campaign promise Trump is making good on: building his “Deportation Force.” The budget allocates $2.8 billion to expand immigration detention facilities so that 52,000 beds are always available, $782 million to hire 2,750 additional border agents, and $1.6 billion for the construction of 65 miles of border wall in Texas. (Whatever happened to Mexico paying?) He also adds $2.2 billion for the Secret Service to hire 450 more people.
Trump claims that U.S. has spent $7 trillion in the Middle East
8. Leaning in on privatization:
Trump wants to outsource as many public functions as possible to private, for-profit companies.
His budget calls for selling off scores of prized federal assets, from Reagan National and Dulles Airports to the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. “Power transmission assets from the Tennessee Valley Authority; the Southwestern Power Administration, which sells power in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas; the Western Area Power Administration; and the Bonneville Power Administration, covering the Pacific northwest, were cited for potential divestiture,” Michael Laris reports. “It was not immediately clear what public or private entity might buy those roads, whether they might be tolled, or other details. Some state officials said they were uncertain about how their residents would benefit from such a proposal.”
The White House is re-upping its plan to shift the nation’s air traffic control system out of government hands, even though it went nowhere in Congress last year.
Finally, he wants to increase spending by more than $1 billion on privateschool vouchers and other school choice plans while slashing the Education Department’s budget by $3.6 billion and devoting more resources to career training, at the expense of four-year universities.
Don’t be fooled by the “paper money” you might be making in the stock market (if you are one of the fortunate minority of Americans with money to invest). 2017 was one of the worst years in the history of American democracy, and 2018 promises to be even worse. Indeed, while American democracy has been resilient enough to stand up to Trump and the utterly corrupt GOP to date, they are now upping their attack. There is absolutely no guarantee that their plan to destroy our country and hand it over to an unholy mixture of Russian Oligarchs, Chinese Government Corporations, and greedy Capitalist plutocrats won’t succeed.
Donald Trump and today’s GOP are a clear and present danger to our national security and the future of our democracy!
The Senate is set to begin debating immigration Monday evening, and in a rare occurrence for the upper chamber of Congress, no one is quite sure how that will go.
Late Sunday, a group of Republicans introduced a version of President Donald Trump’s proposal on how to handle the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation before Trump decided to terminate it. That is expected to be one of the amendments that will compete for votes this week.
Some things are known: McConnell teed up the debate early Friday morning, as he had pledged, immediately after the Senate voted to end a government shutdown. The bill McConnell chose was entirely unrelated to immigration, which he said he planned to do to allow a blank slate for proposals to compete for votes.
Let the debate begin
At 5:30 p.m. Monday, senators will vote on whether to open debate on the bill, a vote that is largely expected to succeed.
From there, a lot will be up to senators. Both sides will be able to offer amendments that will compete for 60 votes — the threshold to advance legislation in the Senate. It’s expected that amendments will be subject to that threshold and will require consent agreements from senators for votes, opening up the process to negotiations.
If a proposal can garner 60 votes, it will likely pass the Senate, but it will still face an uncertain fate. The House Republican leadership has made no commitment to consider the Senate bill or hold a debate of its own, and House Speaker Paul Ryan has pledged repeatedly to consider a bill only if President Donald Trump will sign it.
Different groups have been working to prepare legislation for the immigration effort, including the conservatives who worked off the White House framework and a group of bipartisan senators who have been meeting nearly daily to try to reach agreement on the issue. Trump has proposed giving 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship in exchange for $25 billion for his long-promised border wall and a host of other strict immigration reforms.
The bill from GOP senators largely sticks to those bullet points, including sharp cuts to family-based migration, ending the diversity lottery and giving federal authorities enhanced deportation and detention powers.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of about 20 senators was drafting legislation over the weekend to offer perhaps multiple amendments and potentially keep the debate focused on a narrow DACA-border security bill. Multiple members of the group have expressed confidence that only such a narrow approach could pass the Senate — and hope that a strong vote could move Trump to endorse the approach and pave the way for passage in the House.
Advocates on the left may offer a clean DACA fix, like the DREAM Act, as well as the conservative White House proposal — though neither is expected to have 60 votes.
The move to hold an unpredictable Senate debate next week fulfills the promise McConnell made on the Senate floor to end the last government shutdown in mid-January, when he pledged to hold a neutral debate on the immigration issue that was “fair to all sides.”
Even Sunday, leadership aides weren’t able to say entirely how the week would go. The debate could easily go beyond one week, and with a scheduled recess coming next week, it could stretch on through February or even longer.
One Democratic aide said there will likely be an effort to reach an agreement between Republicans and Democrats on timing so that amendments can be dealt with efficiently, and, absent that, alternating proposals may be considered under time-consuming procedural steps.
“We just have to see how the week goes and how high the level of cooperation is,” the aide said.
Many Democrats and moderate Republicans were placing hope in the bipartisan group’s progress.
“We’re waiting for the moderates to see if they can produce a bill,” said the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin, on Thursday. “And considering options, there are lots of them, on the Democratic side. There’s no understanding now about the first Democratic amendment.”
Durbin said traditionally both sides have shared a few amendments with each other to begin to figure out the process’ structure. He also said the bipartisan group could be an influential voting bloc, if they can work together.
“They could be the deciding factor, and I’ve been hopeful that they would be, because I’ve had friends in those Common Sense (Coalition), whatever they call themselves, and reported back the conversations, and I think they’re on the right track.”
As she was leaving the Senate floor Friday night after the Senate voted to pass a budget deal and fund government into March, Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins was optimistic about the preparedness of the bipartisan group she has been leading for the all-Senate debate.
“We’ll be ready,” she told reporters.
Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford, who has been working both with the group introducing the White House proposal and the bipartisan group, said late Friday night that his plan is “to get things done.”
“It’s no grand secret that I have no problem with the President’s proposal; the challenge is going to be trying to get 60 votes,” Lankford said. “So I would have no issue with what (Sens. John) Cornyn and (Chuck) Grassley are working on and with the President supporting that, but I also want to continue to try finding out and see, if that doesn’t get 60 votes, what could.”
He said everyone is waiting to find out what happens next.
“Everybody’s trying to figure out the chaos of next week, and I’m with you,” Lankford said. “I don’t know yet how open the process is going to be. I hope it’s very open.”
Fortunately, we can rely on Tal’s amazing up to the minute reporting and analysis to keep us abreast of what’s happening on the Senate floor and in the cloakrooms!
“President Trump’s proposal to cut legal immigration rates would delay the date that white Americans become a minority of the population byas few as one or as many as five additional years, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.
The plan, released by the White House last month, would scale back a program that allows people residing in the United States to sponsor family members living abroad for green cards, and would eliminate the “diversity visa program” that benefits immigrants in countries with historically low levels of migration to the United States. Together, the changes would disproportionately affect immigrants from Latin America and Africa.
The Census Bureau projects that minority groups will outnumber non-Hispanic whites in the United States in 2044. The Post’s analysis projects that, were Trump’s plan to be carried out, the date would be between 2045 and 2049, depending on how parts of it are implemented.
(The Post’s methodology for estimating the annual impact of Trump’s proposed cuts is explained in more detail at the bottom of this story. Projecting this far into the future entails certain assumptions that could alter the range, but demographic experts said The Post’s approach was reasonable.)
All told, the proposal could cut off entry for more than 20 million legal immigrants over the next four decades. The change could have profound effects on the size of the U.S. population and its composition, altering projections for economic growth and the age of the nation’s workforce, as well as shaping its politics and culture, demographers and immigration experts say.
“By greatly slashing the number of Hispanic and black African immigrants entering America, this proposal would reshape the future United States. Decades ahead, manyfewer of us would be nonwhite or have nonwhite people in our families,” said Michael Clemens, an economist at the Center for Global Development, a think tank that has been critical of the proposal. “Selectively blocking immigrant groups changes who America is. This is the biggest attempt in a century to do that.”
Read the complete article, along with supporting “wonkie” stats, at the above link.
Yup! It is, and probably always has been, about White Nationalism and racism! Trump and his gang have just made it “fashionable” to be overtly racist again.
And, make no mistake about it, the REAL targets here are African American and Latino American citizens — immigrants are just a subterfuge. After all, if African Americans and Latinos were “good for America” why wouldn’t we want more of them and their families?
No, as Trumpie let on in his White House debacle, it’s all about trying (futilely) to make America “more White like Norway.” “Making America Great Again” is not so subtile “code language” for “Making America White Again.” Trump and his restrictionist cronies and misguided followers are not good for the future of America, or for the world.
“In 1968, a British Conservative politician, Enoch Powell, made what became known as his “Rivers of Blood” speech. In it, he sounded an alarm about what he imagined to be an unchecked immigrant invasion of the United Kingdom, at a time when the country’s immigrant population had only grown from 5 to 6% in the previous decade.
Crime was low, less than one homicide per 100,000 residents, a tenth the rate of the US. Quoting a constituent, he foresaw the day when “the black man will have the whip hand over the white man”. In subsequent decades, immigration slowly inched upwards, but the scenario Powell envisioned failed to materialize.
Half a century later, we Americans live in a Powellesque moment in which politicians’ hysterical rhetoric surrounding immigration is completely at odds with the facts. President Trump, giving his own Rivers of Blood speech on Tuesday, painted a grim picture of a wave of hardened criminal immigrants, exploiting diversity visas and “chain migration”, running around the country murdering people left and right.
In reality, illegal immigration to the US is down, not up. Trump would like to take credit for this with his tough talk about walls, rapists, and “bad hombres” from Mexico, but the number of unauthorized immigrants in the country has been falling for the past decade, due not to xenophobic bluster but the Great Recession.
Net migration from Mexico is currently negative: more Mexicans are leaving the US than coming in, and have been doing so since the end of the Bush administration. In coming decades, most new immigrants to the US will not be from Latin America at all, but from China and India.
Violent crime, too, is down, way down: FBI statistics show violent crimes are just half of what they were in the early 90s. Trump would have you believe that immigrants are responsible for “tremendous amounts of crime”, but research shows immigrants commit less crime than native-born Americans.
Yet to convince us the opposite is true, Trump and the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, have zeroed in on one group in particular, Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13, a gang I’ve researched in El Salvador. MS-13 makes for a picture-perfect boogeyman given its reputation for violence and scary face tattoos, and misreported origins in Central America.
In fact, it started in Los Angeles in the 1980s, was originally made up of adolescent stoners who listened to heavy metal, and only grew into a much larger and more vicious, officially designated “transnational gang” thanks to mass criminal deportations by the Clinton administration to poor countries that were ill-equipped to deal with the influx.
It can’t really be described accurately as a single gang but is rather a network of gangs with little centralized authority and a franchised name, whose street value only increases with each press conference by Trump and Sessions. And for all the hype, MS-13 is a relatively small player here. Its estimated US membership has remained constant for the past decade at around 10,000, or less than 1% of the 1.4 million gang members in the US: far smaller than the Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings, or Aryan Brotherhood.
Even the face tattoo image is out of date; MS cliques have been discouraging members from getting them after belatedly realizing it makes them easy to identify by police.
As for the origins of this nonexistent immigrant crime wave, Trump blames “chain migration”, the more menacing nativist buzzword for family reunification, the principle on which our immigration laws are founded.
“Chain migration” is actually a conservative idea: the Immigration and Nationality Act, which was passed in 1965, was sold to immigration restrictionists as a law which would preserve mostly white immigration while doing away with the overtly racist, eugenics-inspired quota laws it replaced. Because by 1965, most immigrants to the US were from Europe, it was assumed that giving preference to family members of current immigrants would restrict immigration from other parts of the world.
The opposite happened, with immigration surging from Asia and Latin America, not coincidentally many countries with histories of US military intervention: Korea, Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Iraq. Yet family reunification has remained the cornerstone of immigration policy, with broad conservative support, for decades.
After all, it is a policy which upholds the family as a unit. Families, conservatives argued, were preferable to single men. They encourage stable employment, homeownership, participation in the community, and provide a source of private, non-state welfare for needy relatives. Families are what keeps people out of trouble, the kind Trump imagines immigrants are getting into, and which may actually happen if he succeeds in taking away this base of support.
It wouldn’t be the first time US immigration policy had the opposite of its intended effect, from Johnson’s 1965 immigration law to Clinton’s criminal deportations. Similarly, Trump’s recent decision to revoke TPS protection for over 200,000 legal immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador will only increase the number of unauthorized immigrants and lead to more unauthorized immigration in the future: mass deportations mean a loss of cash remittances from those immigrants to countries whose economies are heavily dependent on them, which will only worsen unemployment and send more migrants north.
Breaking up families also creates the conditions of insecurity under which predatory gangs thrive. In Central America, deportations from the US give gangs a new vulnerable population to recruit from. In the US, the loss of family networks and raids which push migrants into the shadows give them a new vulnerable population to extort. There aren’t many beneficiaries of Trump’s immigration policy, but there’s at least one: MS-13 couldn’t have asked for a better president than Trump.”
Pretty much what I’ve been saying all along! With their toxic mixture of ignorance, arrogance, incompetence, bias, White Nationalism, and racism, Trump, Sessions, Miller, and their sycophantic followers have been destroying American communities, weakening and dissolving American society, and empowering our enemies, foreign and domestic! Other than that, they’re a great bunch of guys.
The only folks happier than MS-13 about the Trump/Sessions regime and their “sell-out” of America and American values are Vladi Putin and his Oligarchs.
Bess Levin at Vanity Fair with the “Levin Report:”
“WHY TRUMP’S INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN SHOULD SCARE THE CRAP OUT OF YOU
The president wants to apply his hotel-licensing model to a $1.5 trillion government initiative.
If you only paid attention to the words that tumbled out of his mouth, you might believe that Donald Trump was a successful real-estate developer, just like you might also think he’s a “stable genius” with a “winning temperament” who had a shot with Princess Diana. In reality, none of these things are true. In the wake of multiple bankruptcies, the Trump Organization shifted from developing properties on its own to licensing its founder’s name to others for multi-million-dollar fees, in what Forbes once called a “low-effort, low-risk, high-reward cash flow proposition.” With no capital on the line, Trump was free to sit back with a taco bowl, take a cut of the profit, and deal with none of the consequences if and when a project ran into trouble. And now, he wants to apply the same model to a $1.5 trillion infrastructure deal.
In his State of the Union speech last night, Trump said that he was “calling on Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need,” noting that “every federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with State and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment—to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit.” Previously, the administration had said it would put in $200 billion and would expect the private sector, along with state and local governments, to pony up $800 billion for a nice, round $1 trillion plan. Now they’re apparently going to have to dig a little deeper, for no other apparent reason than because Trump thinks $1.5 trillion sounds better. That might seem like a great deal for the federal government, except for the fact that by allocating a mere $200 billion—when you take the White House’s proposed infrastructure cuts into account, it comes out as even less—they’ll have to prioritize corporate profits over the actual needs of the public.
In order to get a return on their investment, which is—understandably!—the only reason private companies will want to get involved here, the government will naturally offer them lucrative tax breaks. But, as The Washington Postpoints out, unlike typical public-private partnerships wherein the government is the ultimate owner of the road or bridge constructed by a private company, it’ll all be under private ownership.
“PriveCo Equity Partners [get] a gigantic tax incentive to build the bridge, which the company now owns—and which will charge tolls on [it] in perpetuity. Taxpayers could shell out nearly as much in tax incentives to the private company as we would have spent to just build the bridge, and then on top of that you’ll have to pay tolls to cross it—forever. As long as the bridge stands, people are paying extra so PriveCo Equity Partners can make a profit.”
And because Trump & Co. will pay for no more than 20 percent of any given project, states and localities that don’t have the extra funds will most likely be shit out of luck. As the Post’s Paul Waldman notes, “the focus on private investment . . . will naturally privilege projects that can generate a profit for private companies, which probably won’t be the most sorely needed upgrades.” According to a new report released this week by the left-leaning Democracy Forward, under the rubric for judging grant applicants, a whopping 70 percent of a project’s score “would be based on the availability of non-federal revenue,” whereas the “economic and social returns” it could generate make up 5 percent. Sorry, Flint, Michigan! You don’t really need new pipes, right?
Of course, this was all by design. Less scary than the fact that Trump’s friends might financially benefit from the plan is the promise (threat?) he made last night that “any bill must . . . streamline the permitting and approval process,” by which he means gut environmental protections and put public health at risk. On the bright side, no one actually believes that President Hard Hat’s plan will come to fruition, at least not in its current form. “Not to be morbid, but an infrastructure catastrophe could move the needle . . . and spur congressional action,” political strategist Chris Kruegertold Business Insider. “Barring some kind of morbid catalyst, [the plan’s passage] seems extremely unlikely.”
Judge rules Mick Mulvaney will have to work hard to destroy the C.F.P.B.
Since the day the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was formed, Republicans have been raving about how it’s an unconstitutional menace that must be stopped. Unfortunately for people like Representative Jeb Hensarling, who thinks the bureau is a “dictator,” a court has more or less declared that this argument is bullshit:
The structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is constitutional, an appeals court ruled Wednesday in a blow to President Donald Trump’s efforts to ease regulations on the financial system.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit made the ruling in a battle over whether the president could remove the director at will. The court in October had upheld a challenge to the structure but agreed to rehear the case.
Republicans had challenged the C.F.P.B. structure on grounds that the director’s position was unaccountable to the executive branch.
On the bright side, now that the C.F.P.B.’s acting director is a guy who thinks the place shouldn’t exist, he can simply chip away at it from the inside. It’ll require a little more effort and creativity, but if anybody is up to the challenge, it’s Mick “The C.F.P.B. is a sick, sad joke” Mulvaney.
You get a Twinkie! And you get a Twinkie!
Hostess Brands is using its tax bill savings to reward employees with snacks:
The company, which makes Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, is providing its employees one-time payments of $1,250—with $750 in cash and $500 in the form of a 401(k) contribution. In taking the step, Hostess cited last month’s tax legislation, which slashed the rate for U.S. corporations.
It’s also offering a year’s worth of free food to workers—though they won’t be able to eat all the Ding Dongs they like. A representative from each of Hostess’s bakeries will choose a product each week, and the employees will be able to take home a multipack of that item. The company also makes Hostess CupCakes, Fruit Pies, and Donettes.”
Gotta love it!
Billions for the fat cats, “Twinkies” for the workers. And, while working his infrastructure scam, Trump and his GOP kleptocrats will be trashing our environment and destroying our health care. I suppose they all will eventually move to a (“Whites Only” — Sorry Ben & Tim) “tax haven” somewhere offshore leaving the rest of us sick and dying in a looted country with an “infrastructure” that nobody needs any more!
Meanwhile, over at Bloomberg News, reporter Ben Penn exposes a Trump Administration scheme to allow management to steal billions of dollars from waitresses and waiters!That’s right, folks, Trump’s GOP kleptocrats are busy scheming to transfer wealth from the lowest rungs on the economic ladder to the well-to-do! When the Labor Department’s own internal analysis exposed this “ripoff in the making,” the Trumpsters did what any good kleptocrat would do — tried to hide the results from the public (so much for the Trump White House claim of “transparency” in the release of “Vladi’s Agent Devon’s” memo).
“Labor Dept. Ditches Data Showing Bosses Could Skim Waiters’ Tips
Posted Feb. 1, 2018, 6:01 AM
Labor Department leadership scrubbed an unfavorable internal analysis from a new tip pooling proposal, shielding the public from estimates that showed employees could lose out on billions of dollars in gratuities, four current and former DOL sources tell Bloomberg Law.
The agency shelved the economic analysis, compiled by DOL staff, from a December proposal to scrap an Obama administration rule. The proposal would permit tip pooling arrangements that involve restaurant servers and other workers who make tips and back-of-the-house workers who don’t. It sparked outrage from worker advocates who said the move would permit management to essentially skim gratuities by participating in the pools themselves.
Senior department political officials—faced with a government analysis showing that workers could lose billions of dollars in tips as a result of the proposal—ordered staff to revise the data methodology to lessen the expected impact, several of the sources said. Although later calculations showed progressively reduced tip losses, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and his team are said to have still been uncomfortable with including the data in the proposal. The officials disagreed with assumptions in the analysis that employers would retain their employees’ gratuities, rather than redistribute the money to other hourly workers. They wound up receiving approval from the White House to publish a proposal Dec. 5 that removed the economic transfer data altogether, the sources said.
The move to drop the analysis means workers, businesses, advocacy groups, and others who want to weigh in on the tip pool proposal will have to do so without seeing the government’s estimate first. The public notice-and-comment period for the proposal is set to end Feb. 5.
The new revelation lends credence to concerns from Democrats and labor organizers that the proposed rule will short change workers. It also raises questions about how much the DOL intends to take public feedback into account in shaping a final version of the rule.
The current and former DOL sources, hailing from both political parties, were all independently briefed by people involved in the rulemaking. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to prevent retaliation against themselves and others.
The Labor Department “works to provide the public accurate analysis based on informed assumptions” a DOL spokesman told Bloomberg Law in an email. The spokesman noted that the department asked the public to comment with suggestions about how to quantify the rule’s impact as part of the proposal. “As previously stated, after receiving public comment, the Department intends to publish an informed cost benefit analysis as part of any final rule.”
The DOL did not address Bloomberg Law’s inquiry as to why the agency did not include the completed transfer analysis in the proposed rule.
The department has previously defended criticism of the proposal by saying the move would lead to higher pay for some low-wage workers who don’t traditionally earn tips, such as dishwashers. The DOL has also argued that managers would be dissuaded from stealing tips, out of fear of employee turnover and decreased morale. The department further noted that it included in the proposal a qualitative analysis, which doesn’t include dollar figures.
OMB Involvement Unclear
Former career and political officials at the DOL and the White House Office of Management and Budget, joined by business and employee-side regulatory attorneys, all told Bloomberg Law that scrapping a completed analysis from a significant proposal would mark a troubling departure from the government’s mission. Agencies and OMB are expected to ensure that all available data are brought to bear during notice-and-comment rulemaking, the sources said.
White House Office of Management and Budget’s regulatory review staff was familiar with the data, before the proposed rule was released, sources said. It’s not clear whether OMB Director Mick Mulvaney approved the deletion of the numbers or whether Neomi Rao, who runs OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, was involved in the decision.
“We do not comment on the interagency review process,” an OMB senior official told Bloomberg Law in an email responding to a series of questions directed at OIRA.
Representatives for the White House and Mulvaney did not respond to requests for comment.
“I have to wonder about the internal pressure brought to bear on OIRA in this case, because historically OIRA’s position has been that analysis is a good thing,” Stuart Shapiro, a career policy analyst at OIRA in the Clinton and Bush presidencies,” told Bloomberg Law. “It helps us make better decisions, it helps us increase the transparency of the regulatory effort.” Shapiro, who reviewed labor regulations in his tenure at the office, is now a Rutgers University professor researching the regulatory process.
Bloomberg Law has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the transfer report, which is being processed by the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division.
Transparency in Question
The proposal rescinds a 2011 rule that asserted tips are the property of workers who earn them. That revision of the Fair Labor Standards Act covered scenarios in which restaurants and other employers supplemented tipped workers’ earnings by paying at least the full minimum wage.
Since the rule’s release in December, worker advocacy groups and Obama administration officials have vehemently opposed it. They point to language that permits companies to keep gratuities for themselves, provided they pay workers at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and don’t apply a tip credit that allows them to pay as little as $2.13 per hour, depending on the state.
The left-leaning think tank Economic Policy Institute attempted to fill the data void by producing an analysis of its own. EPI predicts the proposed rule on tips would lead to $5.8 billion changing hands from workers to businesses, rather than being redistributed among employees as the DOL leadership suggested.
Some worker advocacy attorneys say the absence of the data might violate administrative law.
The existence of economic data has not been previously reported. It comes as President Donald Trump’s labor secretary and OIRA administrator have said they are committed to good government and transparent notice-and-comment rulemaking as they implement the White House demands to cut unnecessary regulations issued during the Obama administration.
Some attorneys have theorized that the Trump administration fast-tracked this rescission to moot the restaurant industry’s request that the U.S. Supreme Court grant review and invalidate the Obama tipping rule.
News of the scrapped analysis comes as Acosta has tried to avoid being cast as putting business interests above employees in various legal and regulatory moves.
David Weil, Wage and Hour Division administrator under President Barack Obama, called the new tip rule a boon for the restaurant industry,
“I think it is simply a statement of fact that Secretary Acosta and the people in the political side of the Labor Department who pushed that rule, which was a wonderful Christmas present to the National Restaurant Association, didn’t want the public to understand what kind of transfer we’re talking about,” Weil told Bloomberg Law in December, before the news of an existing analysis publicly surfaced.
Democrats have also placed their thumb on the scale when it comes to regulatory analyses, Leon Sequeira, who ran the DOL policy office in the George W. Bush administration, said.
“Economic analysis is a political football in every administration,” Sequeira told Bloomberg Law. He said the Obama administration DOL provided inadequate cost-benefit analyses that understated the compliance costs on businesses. “If the agency feels that it doesn’t have sufficient information to perform as robust an analysis as some may like, then that’s the precise purpose of the proposed rulemaking—to say to all of these critics, if you’ve got a better idea or different analysis or additional information, by all means send it in.”
“It’s at the final stage, when the agency makes its final decision, that folks need to be concerned about evaluating the rulemaking,” said Sequeira, now a management-side employment attorney in Washington.
The More Data the Better
The DOL insisted in the rule proposal that uncertain employer responses make it difficult to produce reliable estimates of managers participating in tip pools and how customers might change their tipping habits. Former agency officials said, however, that the regulation breaks from protocol because it is still the department’s duty to release a best attempt at the data in the proposed rule.
“To punt on that and say we’ll let the public come up with the economic analysis, that’s really not how the process is intended to work,” Michael Hancock, a former assistant administrator at the WHD, told Bloomberg Law. “The agency has an obligation to provide its best judgment on what the likely impact is economically, and that will give the public an opportunity to comment on that.”
The DOL proposal explained that an analysis of potential benefits and transfers is too speculative at this stage. “The Department is unable to quantify how customers will respond to proposed regulatory changes, which in turn would affect total tipped income and employer behavior,” the agency stated.
One trade association executive, who had no prior knowledge of a shelved analysis, told Bloomberg Law that when it comes to rulemaking, the more information the better. “I would just be troubled if the agency had done economic work that’s directly relevant to rulemaking, and for any reason chose not to include that, because the public has a right to know everything about the rule,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity to address an issue that doesn’t affect the trade association’s members.
The National Restaurant Association, by far the trade group most invested in the rulemaking, has been a massive supporter of the effort. An economic analysis isn’t relevant to this discussion because the 2011 version of the rule didn’t include that type of analysis either, Angelo Amador, the NRA’s senior vice president and regulatory counsel, told Bloomberg Law in December. Plus, Amador said he believes he has the law on his side.
“I do not see how an economic analysis has an impact either way on something that they don’t have the authority to do,” he said. The NRA has litigated the Obama rule since 2011 and has filed a request for review that is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Two circuit courts have called the rule an abuse of agency rulemaking authority.
Tough to Estimate
In reality, both business and employee-side sources told Bloomberg Law that it’s difficult to arrive at a confident estimate on this rule change, because of many possible employer and customer reactions, and interactions with a maze of state and local minimum wage laws.
The new methods ordered by the DOL leadership on the tip pool rule reduced the transfer total by changing the industries affected and how the rule would interact with state laws, which dropped the total, a few sources said.
Hancock, whose 20-year career at the WHD spanned three presidents from both parties, said that during the approximately 15-20 economically significant rules he’s worked on, he never once witnessed the agency excluding the cost-benefit analysis from a significant regulation. Lack of data accuracy is no excuse, Hancock said.
“If their view is they’re not really confident with the data you have, you put it out there, you identify those areas where you have uncertainty about the data, and invite the public to fill in those gaps,” said Hancock, who is now of counsel at plaintiff-side firm Cohen Milstein in New York.
The Labor Department’s policy shop played a central role in the tip pooling proposal, as is customary for significant rules. Sequeira, who was heavily involved with the WHD and other agencies in developing regulatory economic analyses in the prior Republican DOL, stopped short of saying whether the DOL behaved inappropriately in this circumstance.
“It’s hard to say,” Sequeira said. “That’s the age-old conspiracy theory with virtually every regulatory proposal that comes out.”
Kleptocracy, secrecy, anti-democracy, Putinism are at work every day the corrupt Trump Administration and the GOP enablers are in power. The Con-Man-In-Chief!
“MADISON – Amid all the defeats and disasters Democrats have suffered in Wisconsin, there’s one spot on the map that gets brighter for them all the time.
The capital city and its suburbs comprise one of America’s premier “blue” bastions.
Dane County’s liberal tilt is nothing new.
But obscured by the Democratic Party’s statewide losses since 2010 is the rapid, relentless growth of its voting power.
Fueled by a tech boomlet, Dane is adding people at a faster rate than any county its size between Minnesota and Massachusetts. Between 2015 and 2016, it accounted for almost 80% of Wisconsin’s net population growth and is now home to more than 530,000 people.
“It is just stunning what has happened,” said economic consultant and former university administrator David J. Ward, describing a physical transformation that includes an apartment-building spree in downtown Madison as well as Epic Systems’ giant tech campus in suburban Verona, a new-economy wonderland where more than 9,000 employees (many in their 20s) work in a chain of whimsical buildings planted in old farm fields.
What’s going on in Dane County is gradually altering the electoral math in Wisconsin. Dane has been growing about four points more Democratic with each presidential contest since 1980, while adding thousands more voters every year. As a result, it packs an ever stronger political punch. Democrats won the county’s presidential vote by a margin of roughly 20,000 votes in 1984, 50,000 votes in 1996, 90,000 votes in 2004 and almost 150,000 votes in 2016.
Mobilized against a lightning-rod Republican governor (Scott Walker) and president (Donald Trump), these voters are poised to turn out in droves for the mid-term elections this fall. Organized political groups and informal political networks proliferate here, some with deep roots, some triggered by the state’s labor and recall fights, some sparked by Bernie Sanders’ presidential run last year, some spurred by Trump’s election.
“I’ve never seen this level of political activity,” said Democrat Mark Pocan, who represents Madison and the surrounding area in Congress.
Part of an ongoing series: Wisconsin in the age of Trump.
Craig Gilbert of the Journal Sentinel is on a fellowship established through Marquette University Law School’s Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education. The fellowship is aimed at providing support for journalism projects on issues of civic importance. All the work is done under the direction of Journal Sentinel editors.
“Right now, as (county) clerk, I have to assume crazy turnout,” said Scott McDonell, who orders the election ballots for Dane County. “Because people are so intense about wanting to send a message.”
Dane is the embodiment of some of the Democratic Party’s rosiest national trend lines: a growing appeal to the young and college-educated and a growing dominance in prosperous metropolitan areas.
But Dane also points to the double-edged nature of that appeal. A parade of GOP victories in 2010, the 2012 recall fight, 2014 and 2016 shows that this area’s rising clout guarantees nothing for Democrats when it’s offset by deep losses in small towns and northern blue-collar battlegrounds like Green Bay and Wausau. In 2016, Dane delivered a bigger vote margin for Hillary Clinton than it did for Barack Obama, but Clinton lost the state thanks to her (and her party’s) epic collapse in rural counties.
These two dynamics — Dane getting bigger and bluer, northern Wisconsin getting redder — are at the heart of the battle for Wisconsin.
Some strategists in both parties believe the two are at least partly connected; that Democrats’ increasing reliance on Madison (and Milwaukee, the party’s other anchor) makes it harder for them to compete for more conservative blue-collar and rural voters.
When Madison Mayor Paul Soglin joined the vast Democratic field for governor last month, Walker immediately played the “Madison” card.
“The last thing we need is more Madison in our lives,” said Walker on Twitter, saying “businesses have left and murders have gone up.”
“We’re obviously doing something right and a lot better than the way (Walker) is doing it for the rest of the state. And it’s not because we’re the home of the state university and it’s not because of state government, because he has spent the better part of the last seven years strangling them,” said Soglin in an interview, arguing that his city represents a growth model of investing in education and quality of life and “creating a great place where people want to be.” (He contrasted it to the use of massive subsidies to bring FoxConn to Wisconsin).
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, who also bristled at Walker’s tweet, pointed to the state’s new ad campaign to draw millennials from Chicago, noting the Madison area is the one place in Wisconsin attracting that age group in significant numbers. (Many of Epic’s employees settle in downtown Madison and take a dedicated bus every day to the Verona campus.)
“Guess where millennials want to live? In communities that are tolerant, that invest in quality of life, that care about their environment, that provide recreational opportunities for them, a thriving downtown — everything Dane County has. We’ve worked on that,” Parisi said.
In a statement for this story, Walker political spokesman Brian Reisinger said that contrary to what his opponents say, the governor isn’t anti-Madison.
“The governor believes there are good people in Madison, like everywhere else in Wisconsin. But that doesn’t change the harm of a liberal governing philosophy that pits those hard-working families against their best interests. The governor enjoys a Badger game as much as anyone — the point is, Madison would be much better off if it had lower taxes and a better business environment, like the rest of Wisconsin does under his leadership.”
“It was liberal Madison politicians who gave us big budget deficits, massive tax increases, and record job loss,” Reisinger said.
But if the story of Madison figures in the campaign debate this year, the conversation could be awkward for both sides.
Walker is faced with the inconvenient fact that Wisconsin’s fastest-growing county is a place Republicans love to put down and where his party could hardly be less popular. National studies and stories in recent years have singled out Madison as an emerging technology hub for health care, life sciences, even gaming — much of the growth rooted in the University of Wisconsin and its myriad research centers. Madison routinely makes “best cities” lists. Nonstop flights to San Francisco are starting this summer, a sign of its tech growth. Dane has added far more private-sector jobs than any other Wisconsin county since Walker took office. And in a state where more people are moving out than moving in, it has experienced a net in-migration of more than 20,000 since 2010. No other county in the state is close.
You could argue that the tech-fueled expansion in greater Madison is the state’s brightest economic story, and Epic, the health care software firm that has been adding almost 1,000 employees annually, its brightest business story. But Walker, an aggressive cheerleader for Wisconsin’s economy, has not mentioned either in his eight “state of the state” speeches.
Meanwhile, this area’s prosperity creates its own “messaging” challenge for Democrats, who are painfully aware that “Madison” comes with baggage for some Wisconsinites, whether they see it as a symbol of government or left-wing politics or intellectual elitism or urban culture.
“It’s all of that combined, which in my mind is why it’s so powerful. It’s whatever part of it irks people,” said UW-Madison political scientist Kathy Cramer, who chronicled perceptions of the state’s capital in her book, “The Politics of Resentment,” about rural attitudes toward cities and their effect on politics.
Economics may be adding another wrinkle to this dynamic. Cramer said that Madison’s relative prosperity has the potential to provoke either “pride” or “resentment” elsewhere in the state.
Zach Brandon, a Democrat and head of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, laments Madison-bashing, but said, “Madison, too, has to make sure it’s telling a story that doesn’t separate us from the rest of Wisconsin.”
Thanks to Trump’s election, Walker’s victories and even the attention Cramer’s book has received here and nationally, voters and activists here seem more sensitive than ever to their cultural and political distance from some parts of the state and how that can influence elections.
“You get up in these others parts (of) Wisconsin and they don’t like Madison people,” said Ronald Stucki, a Democratic voter in Dane County, who was interviewed as he spoke to a party volunteer canvassing in the city last month.
Some Madison progressives said they hoped Democrats don’t nominate someone from Madison against Walker because they feared it would make it harder to win votes elsewhere. The party’s very crowded field includes several Madison candidates, and the Democratic U.S. senator on the 2018 ballot, Tammy Baldwin, is from Madison.
(The actual history of Madison Democrats in big statewide races isn’t a bad one at all: winners include Baldwin for Senate in 2012, Russ Feingold for Senate in 1992, 1998 and 2004, and Jim Doyle for governor in 2002 and 2006; losers include Feingold for Senate in 2010 and 2016 and Mary Burke for governor in 2014.)
There is no way to really measure whether, or how much, the Democratic Party’s growing reliance on Madison and Milwaukee has contributed to the party’s struggles elsewhere in the state. Both trends are part of a growing partisan divide nationally between cities and small towns and between college grads and blue-collar voters.
In private conversations, GOP strategists differ over how to view the inexorable growth in Dane’s voting power. Some say it puts Democrats in a political box, dragging them further to left and out of touch with “average” voters. They also note that it’s little use to Democrats in legislative races since that vote is so concentrated geographically.
But some in the GOP are troubled by the trend lines. While many rural Republican counties are losing population, the bluest part of the state is growing the fastest — and still getting bluer. Even the burgeoning suburbs outside Madison have shifted sharply Democratic.
For many years, the Republican answer to Dane was Waukesha County, the big, ultra-red, high-turnout suburban county west of Milwaukee. But Dane has been adding more jobs and more voters than Waukesha County for many years. Since 2010, it has added five times as many people as Waukesha County. In fact, Dane’s combination of size, one-party dominance, growth and extreme turnout has few analogs anywhere in the U.S. And while Wisconsin’s rural voters have a history of swinging, the unflagging expansion of the Democrat vote around Madison is the most enduring trend anywhere on the Wisconsin political map.
What does that mean for elections beyond 2018?
Craig Gilbert talks about his Lubar Fellowship analyzing Wisconsin in the age of Trump. Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Here is how pollster Charles Franklin of the Marquette Law School quantified Dane’s trajectory: based on a nearly 40-year trend line in presidential voting, the Democratic Party’s winning margin in Dane County is growing by more than 15,000 votes every four years. That’s bigger than the winning margin in two of the state’s past five presidential contests.
Here is another way to measure it:
Back in 1980, Dane County accounted for 7% of the statewide vote and gave Democrats a 17-point advantage. When you multiply those two numbers together, it means Dane boosted the party’s statewide performance by a little more than one point. Its “value” to Democrats has quintupled since then. In 2016, Dane accounted for more than 10% of the statewide vote and voted Democratic by almost 50 points. Multiply those numbers together, and it means Dane boosted the party’s statewide performance by 5 points.
In their Wisconsin victories, Walker and Trump overcame this trend by making their own deep inroads elsewhere. But as long as it keeps getting bluer and growing faster, Dane County may become harder for Republicans to neutralize.
Craig Gilbert is reporting an ongoing series on the shifting political landscape in Wisconsin after the state helped propel Donald Trump to the White House.
A view of new apartments and construction along E. Washington Ave. in Madison. Fueled by a tech boomlet, Dane is adding people at a faster rate than any county its size between Minnesota and Massachusetts. Between 2015 and 2016, it accounted for almost 80% percent of Wisconsin’s net population growthand is now home to more than 530,000 people. As its population grows, Dane County’s voting power also growing. Michael Sears / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel”
Energizing, registering, and “getting out the vote” are critically important. The “will of the real majority” across the country is what the GOP really fears! And, that’s what didn’t prevail in 2016! That’s why the GOP is so dedicated to voter suppression and gerrymandering! And skewing the census data against ethnic minorities and Democrat-leaning jurisdictions is high on the Trump/Sessions “suppression of democracy” agenda.
Here’s a sense of “deja vu.” When I was at U.W. Law School in the early 1970s, now Madison (and Dem Governor hopeful) Mayor Paul Soglin was one of my classmates. He actually sat in front of me in Environmental Law, although he seldom actually made a physical appearance. That’s probably because he was busy being the “Boy Wonder” progressive City Councilman who eventually ousted Madison’s arch-conservative GOP Mayor and became the “Boy Mayor” while Cathy and I were still living on Madison’s East Side.
After being out of office for a while, he made a “comeback” and is now Mayor of “MAD-CITY” again! Not a “Boy Wonder” any more. But, still “stirring up the pot.”
“State of the Union on Tuesday night, “one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.”
The president and his allies claim such an immigration policy would promote cohesion and unity among Americans “and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century.” Far from forward-facing, however, the president’s policies evoke the beginning of the 20th century, when war abroad and opportunity at home brought waves of immigrants to the United States, from Italians, Polish, and Russians to Chinese and Japanese. Their arrival sparked a backlash from those who feared what these newcomers might mean for white supremacy and the privileged position of white, Anglo-Saxon Americans. Those fears coalesced into a movement for “American homogeneity,” and a drive to achieve it by closing off America’s borders to all but a select group of immigrants. This culminated in 1924 with the Johnson-Reed Act, which sharply restricted immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe and all but banned it from much of Asia.
Members of the Trump administration have praised the Johnson-Reed Act for its severe restrictions on who could enter the country, and the act’s history helps illuminate what exactly Trump means when he says he wants to put “America first.”
The cohesion Trump espouses isn’t national or ideological. It is racial. The fight over immigration isn’t between two camps who value the contributions of immigrants and simply quibble over the mix and composition of entrants to the United States. It is between a camp that values immigrants and seeks to protect the broader American tradition of inclusion, and one that rejects this openness in favor of a darker legacy of exclusion. And in the current moment, it is the restrictionists who are the loudest and most influential voices, and their concerns are driving the terms of the debate.
At the heart of the nativist idea is a fear of foreign influence, that some force originating abroad threatens to undermine the bonds that hold America together. What critics condemned as “Know Nothing-ism” in the 19th century, adherents called Americanism. “The grand work of the American party,” said one nativist journal in 1855, “is the principle of nationality … we must do something to protect and vindicate it. If we do not, it will be destroyed.”
In the first decades of the 20th century, the defense of “the principle of nationality” took several forms. At the level of mass politics, it meant a retooled and reinvigorated Ku Klux Klan with a membership in the millions, whose new incarnation was as committed to anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, and anti-Semitic politics as it was to its traditional anti-black racism. In Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, historian Nancy MacLean notes how Georgia Klan leader William Joseph Simmons warned his followers that they were, in his words, “being crowded out by a “mongrel population … organized into Ghettos and Communistic groups … and uplifting a red flag as their insignia of war.” Likewise, Klan leaders and publications blasted Catholic immigrants as “European riff-raff” and “slaves of ignorance and vice” who threatened to degrade the country at the same time that they allegedly undermined native-born white workers. When, in 1923 and 1924, Congress was debating the Johnson-Reed Act, the Klan organized a letter-writing campaign to help secure its passage, turning its rhetoric into political action.
At the elite level, it meant the growth of an intellectual case for nativism, one built on a foundation of eugenics and “race science.” Prominent scholars like Madison Grant (The Passing of the Great Race) and Lothrop Stoddard (The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy) penned books and delivered lectures across the country, warning of a world in which “Nordic superiority” was supplanted by those of so-called inferior stock. “What is the greatest danger which threatens the American republic today?” asked eugenicist Henry Fairfield Osborn in the preface to Grant’s book. “I would certainly reply: The gradual dying out among our people of those hereditary traits through which the principles of our religious, political and social foundations were laid down and their insidious replacement by traits of less noble character.” The aim of the nativists was to preserve those traits and admit for entry only those immigrants who could fully and easily assimilate into them.
. . . .
It is true that there are some more moderate restrictionists in the mix, for whom the drive to reduce legal immigration is driven by concern and prudence—concern over immigration’s impact on wage and employment, especially among the country’s working-class citizens, and prudence regarding our ability to assimilate and absorb new arrivals.
The facts do not support these misgivings. Low-skilled immigration does more to bolster prospects for working-class Americans—providing complementary employment to construction and farm labor—than it does to lower wages. Likewise, immigrants to the United States have shown a remarkable capacity for assimilation, quickly integrating themselves into the fabric of American life by building homes, businesses, and families. To the extent that native-born workers need protection, it’s best provided by stronger unions and more generous support from the government.
But those moderate voices aren’t setting the agenda. Instead, it’s the hardliners who have used their initiative to inject nativism into mainstream politics and channel, in attenuated form, the attitudes that produced the 1924 law. President Trump, for example, ties Hispanic immigrants to crime and disorder, blaming their presence for gang violence. He attributes terror attacks committed by Muslim immigrants to the “visa lottery and chain migration” that supposedly allows them unfettered access to American targets. And in a recent meeting with Democratic and Republican lawmakers, Trump disparaged Haiti and various African nations as “shitholes” (or “shithouses”) whose immigrants should be turned away from the country in favor of those from European countries, like Norway. It’s unclear if Trump is aware of Rep. Albert Johnson, who spearheaded the 1924 immigration law. But in his racial ranking of immigrants, the president echoed the congressman’s sentiments. “The day of unalloyed welcome to all peoples, the day of indiscriminate acceptance of all races, has definitely ended,” proclaimed Johnson on the passage of the bill that bore his name.
The president isn’t alone in his views. Before joining the Trump administration, former White House adviser Stephen Bannon openly opposed nonwhite immigration on the grounds that it threatened the integrity of Western nations. And while Bannon has been exiled from Trump’s orbit, that legacy lives on. Stephen Miller, who is now the driving force behind immigration policy in the Trump administration, is a notorious hardliner who has echoed Bannon’s views, bemoaning the number of foreign-born people in the United States.
Miller is the former communications director for and protégé of Jeff Sessions, who as Alabama’s senator praised the Johnson-Reed Act and its restrictions on foreign-born Americans. “When the numbers reached about this high in 1924, the president and Congress changed the policy, and it slowed down immigration significantly,” Sessions said in a 2015 interview with Bannon. “We then assimilated through the 1965 and created really the solid middle class of America, with assimilated immigrants, and it was good for America.”
As attorney general, Sessions has leaned in to these views. “What good does it do to bring in somebody who’s illiterate in their own country, has no skills, and is going to struggle in our country and not be successful?” said Sessions during a recent interview on Fox News. “That is not what a good nation should do, and we need to get away from it.” Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a staunch defender of Trump, is especially blunt in his defense of hardline immigration policies. “Assimilation, not diversity, is our American strength,” he said on Twitter last year.
Assimilation in those middle decades of the 20th century was built, to a considerable extent, on racial exclusion. It was assimilation into whiteness, one which bolstered and preserved the racial status quo. There’s no return to the America of that era, but one could slow the nation’s demographic transition. The White House proposals for immigration reform seem designed to do just that. According to an analysis from the Cato Institute, President Trump’s framework for immigration would slash entries by 44 percent, excluding almost 22 million people from the United States over the next 50 years. And in an analysis tied to the “Securing America’s Future Act”—a House-produced bill which hews closely to what the president wants—the Center for Global Development finds that white immigrants would be twice as likely to attain entry into the United States than black and Hispanic ones, while a majority of Muslim and Catholic immigrants would be barred from the country. Couple these measures with voter suppression, a biased census, apportionment by citizenship, extreme gerrymandering, and the existing dominance of rural counties in national politics, and you can essentially rig the system for the preservation of white racial hegemony.
Immigration policy is inextricably tied to our nation’s self-identity. What we choose to do reflects the traditions we seek to uphold. In the 1920s, most Americans wanted a more homogenous country, and they chose accordingly. Forty years later, in the midst of the civil rights revolution and a powerful ethos of inclusion, Americans reversed course, opening our borders to millions of people from across the globe. In this moment, we have two options. We can once again take the path that wants to keep “America for Americans,” and which inevitably casts American-ness in ways circumscribed by race, origin, and religion. Or we could try to realize our cosmopolitan faith, that tradition of universalism which elevates the egalitarian ideals of the Founding, and which seeks to define our diversity of origins as a powerful strength, not a weakness to overcome.
Jamelle Bouie is Slate’s chief political correspondent.”
Read the complete article, with more historical references to the racist historical basis for today’s GOP restrictionist policies, at the link.
Actually, “Gonzo Apocalypto,” most of those Latino, African, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern immigrants that you look down upon and disrespect aren’t illiterate in their own countries. And, they probably speak and understand English better than you do their native languages.
While you, Gonzo, have spent most of your adult life on the “public dole,” trying to turn back the clock and, as far as I can see, doing things of questionable overall value to society, immigrants have been working hard at critical jobs, at all levels of our society, that you and your White Nationalist buddies couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to do.Hard-working immigrants, not your “White Nationalist Myth,” have advanced America in the latter half of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st Century. Immigrants will continue to make America stong, prosperous, and great, if you and your White Nationalist restrictionist cronies would only get out of the way of progress!
“We can once again take the path that wants to keep “America for Americans,” and which inevitably casts American-ness in ways circumscribed by race, origin, and religion. Or we could try to realize our cosmopolitan faith, that tradition of universalism which elevates the egalitarian ideals of the Founding, and which seeks to define our diversity of origins as a powerful strength, not a weakness to overcome.”
“Immigration negotiations: Lots of talk, little progress
By Tal Kopan, CNN
There are several groups in Congress who have been meeting regularly to try to reach a breakthrough on stalled immigration talks. But that doesn’t mean they’re making much progress.
Lawmakers are quick to bemoan the lack of forward motion on a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, a program that protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children that President Donald Trump is ending.
The lack of progress stands in contrast to what Trump called in his State of the Union address Tuesday a “bipartisan approach,” despite no Democrats supporting his framework.
“We presented Congress with a detailed proposal that should be supported by both parties as a fair compromise, one where nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs and must have,” he said, even as his proposal was dismissed as dead on arrival by Democrats whose votes will ultimately be needed to pass any compromise.
RELATED: What Trump’s State of the Union means for the immigration debate
Despite months of negotiations on how to preserve DACA and enact other measures like border security and White House-requested immigration overhauls, Congress still remains far from a clear path forward even as a deadline for government spending approaches.
“I wouldn’t say we’re making progress,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of the so-called “No. 2s” group, regular meetings of the seconds in command in both parties in both the House and Senate that have been coordinating with key administration officials.
“I would say we’re continuing, however, to try to winnow down what the discussion is about. We haven’t done it yet,” Hoyer said.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn similarly left a meeting last week of the group and characterized it as “wheel spinning.” Democrats have long complained their perception is the group mainly exists to slow down negotiations.
The circular talks, which sources in the room describe as mostly reiterations of positions that in most cases neither side is willing to cede, are indicative of a broader stalemate leading up to February 8 — when another short-term government funding bill is likely. After that, lawmakers await Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s promise to hold an open floor debate on immigration.
Likewise a group of roughly 20 bipartisan senators that formed out of the government shutdown at the last funding deadline has been meeting essentially daily to find common ground on the issue. But lawmakers in that group have similarly described a process of defining the issues, and have said their group’s work is mostly to generate ideas that will then be funneled to Cornyn and Democratic Whip Dick Durbin for further negotiation.
“We want to be deferential,” one of the group’s organizers, Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, said after a meeting Monday. “We hope we might be able to be helpful to them by going through a series of concepts,” she added, saying the group had discussed various proposals out there.
Many of the lawmakers in the group have little prior specialty in immigration policy. North Dakota Democrat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said that Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford has been working to brief the group on what the Department of Homeland Security wants out of negotiations, and the group does include one of the authors of the 2013 “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.
“I think that there’s such a discussion right now between process, how do you start, and then definitional, and I think the great work we’re doing in there is look, let’s get our facts in order, let’s get a unified sense of understanding,” Heitkamp said after one of the meetings of the group.
The groups’ efforts have attempted to find a path forward even after Trump rejected a bipartisan compromise negotiated by Durbin and a handful of other senators over months, declined a DACA for border wall offer from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and after the White House put out an aggressive framework that included a generous path to citizenship for the young undocumented immigrants but included a number of hardline requests that Democrats have said are impossible to swallow.
Some in the bipartisan group are already talking about narrowing the debate to just two issues — DACA and physical border security — even as others in the group reject that approach. Republicans like Cornyn and Lankford have said the White House’s “four pillars,” which include cuts to family migration and the diversity visa lottery and define border security broadly to include deportation authorities and other measures, have to be the starting point and can’t be narrowed down.
“If we can’t get a deal that includes that we may have to pair it down to two pillars and just do border and DACA as plan B,” Rubio told CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux on Wednesday. “But I know they’re going to try plan A first, and you know I’ve supported that and I continue to support limiting (family-based migration) to nuclear family.”
Meanwhile, the bipartisan group on the House side of the Capitol, the Problem Solvers Caucus, has proposed a compromise that hews very closely to the already-rejected proposal from Durbin, though the Senate has moved on from it. That group’s co-chairman, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, has been in touch with Collins and her Democratic co-organizer Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, about possibly bringing the two groups together to meet, the New Jersey Democrat told CNN.
All of the talk is setting the stage for a potentially messy floor debate in the Senate. Though McConnell has pledged to call something to the floor for an open debate process if no deal otherwise is reached by February 8, he has not made any statements about what he would call as a starting point. And with an open amendment process, the debate could get messy and any bill could be brought down by a poison pill amendment intentionally designed to tank the process.
Still, lawmakers are continuing to meet.
“I don’t know,” Durbin said of whether the plan to funnel ideas through him and Cornyn will work. “We’ve never tried anything like this. But I’m hopeful, and so is he.”
As for the No. 2s meeting he’s a part of, Durbin added, “We do have some looming deadlines. I hope that moves us.”
CNN’s Lauren Fox and Phil Mattingly contributed to this report.
I find the stated position of Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) remarkable! Rubio himself is the product of an immigrant background. So, he knows first-hand the complete falsity of the GOP’s (essentially racist) claims about the “bogus” dangers of “Family Migration” (often pejoratively called “chain migration” by GOP restrictionists); the important positive role that family immigration plays in many ethnic communities; the important role that Family Migration has played in the United States and our economy as a whole since 1965; and the overall benefits of more, not less, legal immigration.
Yet he somehow feels that his own personal success has so far removed him from the immigrant community and the national interest that he can join the current elitist White Nationalist charade in bashing Family Migration! Pretty sad indeed.
“Hispanic Caucus vents at Democratic leadership over shutdown, DACA strategy
By: Tal Kopan, CNN
Hispanic Democrats on Tuesday had a combination venting and strategy session with Democratic congressional leaders as they expressed frustration that there still has not been a resolution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer got an earful about the handling of the recent government shutdown and recent comments about future strategy, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said.
“I think there’s a lot of conversations about, where is our leverage and how are we going to use it?” said California Democrat Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán.
Barragán said she specifically raised comments Schumer made in The Washington Post that “can’t just let (DACA) occupy the whole stage,” referring to Democratic strategy in red states. She said she told Schumer her community felt that sent a message they weren’t a priority.
“He stood by his comment,” Barragán said of his response. Generally, she added, “He said, ‘I can understand the pain people are feeling and the frustration’ and certainly understood why people felt disappointed in where we are today. Although I think the message is, ‘We’re better off than we were.’ So I’m not sure there’s complete agreement on all fronts.”
The “tension,” as Barragán put it, was indicative of raw nerves among the Democratic caucus about whether leadership is fully committed to using all points of leverage to push for a solution on DACA, the program being ended by President Donald Trump that protected young undocumented immigrants from deportation.
One source in the room speaking anonymously to be candid called the meeting a “waste of time” that was “all filler.”
Another called it equal parts frustration and cheerleading, with an understanding that Republicans remain the main obstacle to deal with.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer called the meeting “candid,” saying the caucus is “correctly frustrated” about the situation for recipients of DACA.
“I think there were obviously some sentiments in the meeting, as you well know, that were, ‘I’m not sure we’re following the right strategy here,'” Hoyer told reporters after the meeting. “There was a candid discussion about why the strategy was being pursued and what was being pursued and what opportunities and challenges were, I think people came out with some degree of appreciation.”
Multiple lawmakers said there was frustration as Democrats rejected government funding on a Friday but voted to reopen the government on Monday when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to open debate on immigration on the Senate floor in February.
Barragán noted there is no commitment to an immigration vote in the House.”It’s very frustrating on the House side because it appears there’s a different situation in the House than in the Senate, we haven’t gotten any kind of commitment on the House side,” Barragán said. “And so even though on the Senate side, Sen. Schumer talks about how they have that commitment and he believes they’re going to get a vote, I think it still fails to take into consideration that strategy on the House side.”
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat who has long served as a voice for immigration advocates in the House, said many in the room “were disappointed” in a “lack of communication” regarding the shutdown. But he also said the focus was on moving forward.
“Democrats, we’re good at fighting and I also think we’re good at mending fences, and that’s what we’re doing here,” Gutierrez told reporters. “We’re trying to figure out a way forward. … I think (Dem leaders) are committed and this isn’t over. Look, trip, you get up and you go back to fight, but we have a clear determination, we’re going to fight for the Dreamers.”
The chairwoman of the Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, called the session a combination of strategy and “venting, productively.”
“I didn’t see it as being negative,” she said. “It was an important place to come back after a week for folks to talk about their frustrations, to talk about what they think we haven’t done well, to talk about things that we think are working and to talk about all eyes on the House. What is the House going to do, how are we going to get them to do it and where are we?”
I think the hard answer to Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s question is “You won’t get the House to ‘do what you want.'”Not as long as the GOP is in the majority, the White Nationalist/Bakuninist Block of the House GOP remains intact, and “Spineless Paul” Ryan (or any other GOP Representative) remains Speaker.
In simple terms, Dems and Dreamers, you’re going to have to win some elections and get some control to bring this to a conclusion that won’t involve “giving in” to the whole (or huge chunks of the) White Nationalist, anti-American, anti-growth restrictionist agenda! Minority parties pushing minority platforms seldom get what they want.
Instead of uselessly “ranting” and “venting” at each other, Dreamers and Dems need to work harder to get out the vote (a few more well-placed Hispanic, African-American, and other minority votes could have changed the results of the last election) and eventually win control of something on the national level!
Clearly, while Dreamers and their cause remain popular with the overall public, there is a “vocal minority” essentially White, racist, xenophobic “core” out there that is vehemently opposed to progress and a diverse society and puts their “hate/turn back the clock agenda” at the top of their “issues list.” That’s why most GOP legislators, particularly in the House, see little or no “downside risk” to “stiffing” Dreamers — particularly if the only “downside” is an unpopular and unsustainable “Government shutdown” by the Senate Dems.
Internal bickering is not a useful substitute for putting energy and talent into “grass-roots” organizations that appeal to voters, incorporate solutions to local and regional issues, and thereby win elections! Without “victories in the political arena,” there will be no “magic strategies” that will produce decent immigration reform — for the Dreamers or anyone else who cares about America’s future as a vibrant, forward-looking “nation of immigrants.”
“Message to Republicans: You can be pro-growth. You can be anti-immigration. But, honestly, you can’t be both.
Now, within the immigration debate, there are a lot of questions with no obvious right answers.
What’s the right balance of immigrants admitted for their skills and those allowed in because they have relatives here?
The big stories and commentary shaping the day.
How much effort should be devoted to tracking down the undocumented, and how much to punishing companies that hire them?
What should we do about the millions of immigrants who came here illegally a decade or more ago and have become established members of their communities?
And — what is the right number of legal immigrants every year from now on?
Big, complicated questions — which is why Congress shouldn’t try to solve them all between now and Feb. 8, its self-imposed deadline for resolving the issue of the “dreamers.” In the few days that remain, the best it could do would be to, well, resolve the issue of the dreamers — the undocumented immigrants who were brought here as young children through no fault of their own, who obey the law and who go to school or work or serve in the military.
They are American in all but legal status. Give them a path to citizenship, as President Trump has proposed. Give Trump the money for his wall (until he gets that check from Mexico). Punt on the big, complicated questions, something Congress certainly knows how to do. Everyone declares victory, and the government doesn’t shut down.
Of course, that would leave us still facing the big questions. Ideally, Congress would schedule a serious debate on them for the spring. Ideally, it would be conducted in a constructive spirit — acknowledging, for example, that reasonable people can disagree on skills vs. family.
But ideally, also, it would also be conducted with an understanding that those who favor a drastic, absolute drop in the level of immigration, as many Republicans do, would be making a choice about America’s future.
They would be turning us into Japan.
Now, to be clear, Japan is a wondrous nation, with an ancient, complex culture, welcoming people, innovative industry — a great deal to teach the world.
But Japan also is a country that admits few immigrants — and, as a result, it is an aging, shrinking nation. By 2030, more than half the country will be over age 50. By 2050 there will be more than three times as many old people (65 and over) as children (14 and under). Already, deaths substantially outnumber births. Its population of 127 million is forecast to shrink by a third over the next half-century.
Japan is a pioneer and an extreme version of where much of the First World is headed as longevity increases and fertility declines. The likely consequences are slower economic growth, reduced innovation, labor shortages and huge pressure on pensions. If you think our entitlement politics are fraught, think about this: In Japan in 2050, the old-age dependency ratio — the number of people 65 and over as a percentage of the number who are 15 to 64 — is projected to be 71.2 percent.
The comparable figure for the United States is 36.4 percent, up from 25.7 percent in 2020. Still high, but if it proves manageable, we will have immigration to thank. America still attracts dynamic, hard-working people from around the world, and they and their offspring help keep our population and our economy growing, as recent Pew Research Center and International Monetary Fund papers explain.
The wave of immigration over the past half-century also has changed the face of the nation, reducing the share of the white population from what it would have been and increasing the share of Asians and Hispanics. It’s not surprising that some people find this disorienting.
But as so often with such debates, perceptions lag reality. Nearly half (48 percent) of immigrants these days have college degrees, as a fact sheet from the Migration Policy Institute last year showed. A quarter of technology company start-ups between 2008 and 2012 included at least one foreign-born founder. As incomes and education levels rise around the world, in other words, the skills mix of U.S. immigration is already changing, without any changes in our laws.
Here’s the bottom line: I think we should remain open to immigrants because it’s part of who we are as a nation, because every generation of newcomers — even, or maybe especially, the ones who come with nothing but moxie and a tolerance for risk — has enriched and improved us.
But you don’t have to buy into any of that Statue of Liberty stuff to favor immigration, because naked self-interest leads to the very same conclusion. A vote to choke off immigration is a vote for stagnation and decline.”
Hiatt clearly “gets it!”
But, maybe the GOP restrictionists do too. Their opposition to legal immigration is grounded in racism, White Nationalism, and xenophobia — none of which have anything to do with rationality, facts, the common good, or even “enlightened self-interest.”
Therefore, neither an appeal to “who we are as a nation” nor “naked self-interest” is likely to change their highly emotional, but essentially irrational anti-immigrant views.
“In 2006, Arizona passed a ballot initiative that barred students without legal immigration status from receiving in-state tuition rates at public universities and colleges.
Dulce Matuz, an electrical-engineering major at Arizona State, ran to find her professor.
Bursting into tears, she told him something she had only ever shared with her closest friends. She was undocumented.
“It felt good to tell my story,” she told the Guardian this week. “It was like a weight had been lifted.”
The law meant Matuz would have to pay the out-of-state tuition rate, which she could not afford. But the next day, her professor gave her a flier advertising scholarships for “people in your situation”.
Matuz had thought she was the only undocumented student on one of the largest campuses in the country. She was wrong.
At an informational meeting, she met dozens of young people with stories similar to hers. Their discussion grew into a statewide coalition, the students rallying with organizations across the US to declare themselves “undocumented and unafraid”.
One by one they shed their anonymity, in effect daring law enforcement to target them.
It was a risky move, especially in a state which was then a cauldron of anti-immigrant sentiment. But the students weren’t alone. Thousands of young immigrants came forward to demand a future in the country where they were raised. Each had a name and a story.
Collectively, they are known as Dreamers, young people without immigration status who were brought to the US as children. Over the last decade, they’ve gone from the “shadows” to the center stage of US politics, and their fate now dangles before an irascible president and a gridlocked Congress.
In September, Donald Trump ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca), an Obama-era program that lifted the threat of deportation for Dreamers.
The administration argued that Obama had overstepped his authority. But Trump did give Dreamers a six-month grace period and called on Congress to pass legislation.
“If the Dreamers are able to lead a fight that results in a radical, nativist administration signing into law their freedom, it would be a testament only to how much moral and political power the Dreamers have built,” said Frank Sharry, a long-time advocate of immigration reform and executive director of America’s Voice.
Conservatives suggest Trump is uniquely qualified to succeed where predecessors have failed, to achieve immigration reform, precisely because of his credibility among fierce opponents of illegal immigration.
At a meeting earlier this month, for example, Trump promised to “take the heat” if Republicans passed legislation.
“President Obama tried and couldn’t fix immigration, President Bush tried and couldn’t do it,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina who is pushing bipartisan immigration reform.
“I believe President Trump can. Today’s Daca recipients can be tomorrow’s Trump Dreamers.”
Polling has consistently shown that a large majority of Americans – 87% in one recent survey – support protections for Dreamers. But general anti-immigrant fervor has stalled efforts to pass legislation and conservatives remain divided over whether Dreamers should ever be allowed to be citizens.
Rounds of negotiations have yielded no solution, only a brief shutdown of the federal government during which Democrats tried to force lawmakers to extend legal status to the Dreamers.
Depending on the day, lawmakers and the president are either on the verge of striking a deal or as far apart as ever. Trump was elected after championing hard-line immigration policies but he has demanded both a “bill of love” and a border wall.
This week, the White House released a proposal that offered a pathway to citizenship for up to 1.8 million undocumented young people – in exchange for a $25bn “trust fund” for a border wall, a crackdown on undocumented migrants and changes to the migration system.
The offer did not go down well, either with Trump’s base or with progressives ranged against him. Immigration hardliners crowned Trump “Amnesty Don”. Advocates for reform rejected the offer as an attempt to seal America’s borders.
In a statement issued on Friday, Chris Murphy, a Connecticut senator, called the offer “a total non-starter” that “preyed on the worst kind of prejudice”, using Dreamers “as a bargaining chip to build a wall and rip thousands of families apart”.
Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that Daca reform had “been made increasingly difficult by the fact that [Senate minority leader] Cryin’ Chuck Schumer took such a beating over the shutdown that he is unable to act on immigration!”
Dreamers say the fight is only beginning.
Matuz became a US citizen in 2016, a decade after she “came out of the shadows”. But she still identifies strongly with her fellow Dreamers.
“We still haven’t achieved what we set out to achieve,” she said.
’They’re speaking up’
The Dreamer movement came of age during the Obama administration. But legislation to build a path to citizenship was introduced to Congress in 2001.
Two senators – Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican – introduced the first Dream Act in August that year, a month before 9/11.
But after the attacks, as concerns over national security and terrorism dominated public life, the immigration debate shifted sharply. The bill stalled. It was reintroduced several times, without success.
Nonetheless, the Dreamers continued to galvanize public support. They escalated their tactics, staging sit ins and actions that risked arrest.
“There was a time when they used to be very quiet,” Durbin said recently at a rally. “Not any more. They’re speaking up and we’re proud that they are.”
The Dreamers’ fight for citizenship, Durbin has said, is the “civil rights issue of our time”.
In December 2010, the Dream Act was brought to the floor. It failed again. In 2012, months before the presidential election, Barack Obama established Daca.
Recipients had to have entered the US before their 16th birthday, which means the oldest beneficiaries are now 35.
The most common age of entry to the US was three while the median age was six, according to a report by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank in Washington.
Eight hundred thousand people qualified, the vast majority of them Latino, according to data from US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Nearly 80% were born in Mexico.
The largest numbers of recipients now live in California and other border states such as Texas and Arizona. They are more likely than their ineligible counterparts to hold a college degree and a higher-skilled job, according to an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute.
“What you’re seeing in the Dreamers is a reflection of the American ideals,” said Daniel Garza, president of the conservative Libre Institute, a free-market Latino advocacy group founded by the Koch brothers.
“When one breathes freedom it manifests itself. And now that these kids have a shot at directing their own future or setting a path toward their own future, let’s remove those barriers and allow them that opportunity.”
‘I’m not alone’
Over the last several months, Dreamers have been in Washington, walking the halls of Congress.
They wear light orange shirts with a comic book POW! bubble with the words: “Clean Dream Act Now.”
They sleep on church floors and friends’ couches; a few missed final exams to join protests in December, when there was a flicker of hope that legislation might receive a vote.
Greisa Martínez Rosas, 29, has been among them, leading members in song at rallies on the lawn in front of the capitol building, in between meetings with members of Congress.
She was eight when she and her father staked out a spot on the Rio Grande river and crossed from Mexico into Texas. She laid seashells to mark the place. The next day, her family swam into the United States.
Martínez Rosas grew up in a Hispanic neighborhood of Dallas and attended Texas A&M University. But the life she was building begin to unravel when her father was deported. Her mother died in 2016.
Fighting for a Dream Act has given her purpose, she said, and she is now advocacy and policy director at United We Dream, a national organization that campaigns for migrant rights. She has three younger sisters, one of them also undocumented.
“I am really lucky to be doing this,” she said. “It gives meaning to a lot of the pain and helps me deal with a lot of the trauma growing up undocumented.
“The reality is that I’m not alone. My story isn’t special. That’s why it’s so important that we wage this fight.”
The Dreamers rejected Trump’s latest proposal, even though it would allow a pathway to citizenship for more than twice the number of Daca recipients.
“We are not willing to accept an immigration deal that takes our country 10 steps back no matter how badly we want reprieve,” Martínez Rosas said. “That’s how much we love this country.”
The problem isn’t the Dreamers. It’s the 13% of so of White Nationalist citizens who have forgotten their own immigrant heritage and have abandoned human decency, compassion, and common sense in the process. Unfortunately, this minority has, and continues to wield, a disproportionate share of political power.
“Just a week ago, Harry Pangemanan was being honored for helping rebuild hundreds of homes along the Jersey Shore after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy. Now, the Indonesian is pleading for protection from deportation after narrowly escaping U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents during a raid.
ICE agents swept through Central New Jersey on Thursday morning and arrested two other Indonesians, the Deportation and Immigration Response Equipo, which tries to intervene in ICE raids, told U.S.A. Today.
After managing to avoid arrest, Pangemanan, who has two U.S.-born children, was reportedly escorted to a local church near his Highland Park home, where he was joined by three other Indonesian Christians, to claim sanctuary, the newspaper reports.
Undocumented immigrants face deportation under President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GETTY
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has since visited Pangemanan and other Indonesians seeking sanctuary at the Reformed Church of Highland Park to lend his support.
“Many of the houses that he worked on, in the lawn of the homes he was working on were big Donald Trump signs and yet he was still rebuilding those homes to get Jersey families back inside,” the church’s reverend, Seth Kaper-Dale told the governor.
Pangemanan’s plight is shared by many other undocumented immigrants who face deportation under the Trump administration’s crackdown.
Republicans and Democrats are expected to address immigration policy changes in Congress, with Democrats hoping to strike a deal to protect undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, known as Dreamers, from deportation before February 8.
That’s when a short-term extension on government funding is supposed to run out, after Congress voted to briefly restore the flow of funds following a three-day government shutdown with the promise that a vote would be held on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which had protected dreamers before President Donald Trump officially ended it in September.
A deal to protect Dreamers would not, however, help undocumented immigrants like Pangemanan, an Indonesian Christian who fled religious persecution in 1993.
While violent persecution has affected only a small percentage of Christians in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, Open Doors U.S.A. says on its website that the overall situation for the minority “has deteriorated in recent years.”
Pangemanan, who is married and has had two U.S. born children with his wife, has tried to gain legal status after overstaying his visa, according to U.S.A. Today, but has been unable to acquire the necessary support for his asylum application.
The undocumented immigrant was responsible for leading a team of volunteers who rebuilt more than 200 homes in Monmouth and Ocean counties after they were destroyed by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Just last week, Pangemanan received the 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award from the Highland Park Human Relations Commission for his work.
“I’m working. I’ve worked hard for my family,” the Indonesian told an Asbury Park Press reporter. “I’m not dependent on somebody else.”
In 2012, during the Obama administration, Pangemanan was also reportedly forced to enter sanctuary in the same church, along with a number of other Indonesian Christians who feared they would be deported by ICE agents.
At the time, ICE agents decided to give him a temporary reprieve from deportation, allowing him a “stay of removal”.
A nation of ingrates takes aim at its friends and supporters. Happy to accept their help and labor — but, not willing to recognize their humanity and their contributions to our society. Hmmm. Reminds me of some of the other worst parts about American history. In the end, mistreating the most vulnerable diminishes each of us. Maybe that’s how Thomas Jefferson shrunk from six feet to about six inches.
“They’re taking our jobs . . . They’re taking our money. They’re killing us,” is how then-candidate Donald Trumpcharacterized immigrants in July 2015. For nearly two and a half years, the man who practically founded his campaign on anti-immigrant sentiment—“when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” was his first attempt at a presidential address—has warned his fellow Americans that immigrants and refugees, regardless of their status, are undermining the economy, driving down wages, and mooching off government benefits at every level. Based on this argument, a man who’s sourced two-thirds of his spouses from Eastern Europe has vowed to increase border control to unprecedented levels; repeatedly demanded a multi-billion-dollar wall that even his chief of staff has called “uninformed”; proffered legislation that would slash legal immigration by 50 percent over the next decade; and made the case that the U.S. should reducethe number of refugees that will be allowed into the country to the lowest level since the Refugee Act of 1980 was created. But one needn’t look further than Trump’s own family business to see that the president’s logic is completely bunk.
Amidst the slew of anti-immigrant rhetoric that spews from the White House on a daily basis, BuzzFeed News reports Trump Winery—an establishment that trades in “Welch’s grape jelly with alcohol” and is owned by Eric Trump—has sought permission to hire 23 more foreign guest workers, according to a Department of Labor petition. The workers were requested under the H-2 visa program, which allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers on temporary work visas, as long as no qualified U.S. workers want the jobs they’ll be hired to fill. BuzzFeed also reports that companies bearing the Trump name are perennial users of the program, having requested more than 400 H-2 visas since the ex-real-estate developer announced his candidacy. (Neither the White House nor the winery responded to BuzzFeed’s request for comment.)
All of which, ironically, highlights the critical role immigrant labor plays in the U.S. economy—in fact, there is a large amount of evidence that a number of industries (and Mar-a-Lago) wouldn’t survive without it. In April, more than a thousand economists wrote an open letter to the president to give him a refresher on the importance of immigration to the U.S. economy. Separately, experts have estimated that given that as much as 70 percent of the U.S. agricultural workforce doesn’t have valid immigration papers, a wide-scale crackdown could essentially demolish the farming industry. (As Bank of America’s Ethan Harris noted in February, “There’s no way to get people out of the city and into the country to pick crops on short notice without a very dramatic increase in wages”; such an increase would represent a death blow to an industry where profits are already tanking, and which would struggle to afford the spike without passing on massive costs to consumers.) Oh, and remember Trump’s big infrastructure plan—coming any day now!—? Without immigrant labor, it’s basically dead on arrival.
Trump’s White House, of course, has done its best to bury these facts. Back in September, The New York Timesrevealed that after the Department of Health and Human Services found that refugees generated $63 billion more in government revenues than they cost over the past decade, Trump officials, lead by Lady Liberty nemesisStephen Miller, simply rejected the draft. Instead, the three-page report that was ultimately submitted “[used] government data to compare the costs of refugees to Americans and [made] no mention of revenues contributed by refugees.” Presumably, Team Trump will rely on that “data” when it sets the number of refugees the U.S. will take in for the fiscal year, the deadline for which is October 1.”
Of course we don’t need cuts in legal immigration. And, contrary to what the Trumpsters would have you believe, most adult “family immigrants” work in jobs that are important to our economy. Also, because they have family here, it’s actually easier for them to “adjust and fit in” — something the White Nationalists are always fretting about.