MILWAUKEE JOURNAL/SENTINAL: COULD THE EXPLOSIVE GROWTH OF DANE CO. WI – Where, Not Surprisingly, Diversity Is Celebrated & Innovation Welcomed – EVENTUALLY HELP RID WISCONSIN OF SCOTT WALKER AND OUR NATION OF TRUMP & GOP STRANGLEHOLD ON NATIONAL GOVERNMENT?

https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2018/02/01/can-voting-power-fast-growing-dane-county-help-democrats-win-statewide-elections-again/1085968001/

Craig Gilbert reports:

“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.

POLITIFACT: Scott Walker’s overstated attack on governor rival Paul Soglin over business and murder in

RELATED: As dust settles, parts of political map scrambled

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.”

RELATED: Scott Walker amasses $4 million campaign war chest, dwarfing Dem rivals in Wisconsin governor’s race

Democrats scoffed at Walker’s grim portrayal of the city and accused him of beating up on a place that embodies the economic success he covets for the state.

The episode set off a round of feuding over whether Madison is a damaging symbol for Democrats because of its left-wing image or an increasingly attractive one because of its economic vigor.

“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.)

RELATED: Wisconsin seeks to lure young Chicagoans to Badger State

“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.

 

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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.”

PWS

02-02-18

 

JAMELLE BOUIE @ SLATE: TRUMP, SESSIONS, MILLER & THE GOP RESTRICTIONISTS HAVE PUT GOOD OL’ 1920S RACISM AT THE FOREFRONT OF THEIR WHITE NATIONALIST IMMIGRATION AGENDA! –“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? . . . That is not what a good nation should do, and we need to get away from it.” — J. “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, Attorney General of the United States of America & Unapologetic White Nationalist With A Long History Of Racism!

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/02/the-nativist-blueprint-for-trumps-immigration-plan.html

Jamelle writes in Slate:

“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.

portrait of Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is Slate’s chief political correspondent.”

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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.”

Right on, Jamelle!

PWS

02-02-18

EUGENE ROBINSION @ WASHPOST & DAVID BROOKS @ NY TIMES: GOP IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONISTS’ PROPOSALS TO CUT LEGAL IMMIGRATION LEVELS HAVE NO RATIONAL BASIS! – That’s Going To Be A Big Problem In Trying To Forge A “Compromise!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-is-trying-to-make-america-white-again/2018/01/29/9afa7afa-053d-11e8-8777-2a059f168dd2_story.html

Robinson writes:

“. . . .

There’s a simple question here: Do you believe in America or not?

Throughout its history, the country has accepted waves of mostly low-skilled immigrants — German, Irish, Italian, Eastern European, now Latino. There are highly skilled immigrants, too; African newcomers, for example, are better-educated than the U.S. population as a whole, and an estimated 63 percent of people holding “computer and mathematical” jobs in Silicon Valley are foreign-born. But most immigrants over the years have arrived bearing not much more than grit, ambition and a dream.

Does an influx of workers with entry-level skills tend to depress wages? That’s the wrong question. Instead, we should be asking why the federal minimum wage is so low as to be almost irrelevant.

And we should recognize that immigration gives the United States a tremendous competitive advantage. In other advanced countries, populations are aging rapidly. Immigration provides a steady stream of younger workers whose brain and brawn keep programs such as Medicare and Social Security viable.

The only coherent — if despicable — arguments for Trump’s plan are racial and cultural. The way they used to put it in the Jim Crow days was succinct: White is right.”

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https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/29/opinion/east-germany-immigration-usa.html

Meanwhile, over at the NY Times, Brooks writes:

“. . . .

The results are just as clear as in the German case. Between 2014 and 2016 the counties that embrace diversity accounted for 72 percent of the nation’s increased economic output and two-thirds of the new jobs. The approximately 85 percent of counties that support restrictionists like Donald Trump accounted for a measly 28 percent of the growth.

Republicans’ problem is that since George W. Bush left town they’ve become the East Germans of the 21st century. They have embraced a cultural model that produces low growth and low dynamism. No wonder they want to erect a wall.

Progressives say Republicans oppose immigration because of bigotry. But it’s not that simple. It’s more accurate to say restrictionists are stuck in a mono-cultural system that undermines their own values: industry, faithfulness and self-discipline. Of course they react with defensive animosity to the immigrants who out-hustle and out-build them. You’d react negatively, too, if confronted with people who are better versions of what you wish you were yourself.”

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You can can read the complete versions of both op-eds, which I highly recommend, at the above links.

Yup!
When you’re coming from the same places as Jim Crow and the East Germans, there is no acceptable “rational basis” for the restrictionist agenda. It’s bad for America as well as for immigrants. But, it’s difficult or impossible to make rational arguments against deeply held, factually incorrect, irrational beliefs, particularly those based on racial, economic, cultural, and class bias. That’s probably why rational “immigration reform” has been, and remains, so difficult to achieve.

And, having seen thousands of migrants and their families come before me at the Arlington Immigration Court over the years, gotten to know many of their stories, and having represented immigrants, entrepreneurs, and businesses during my time in private practice, there is no doubt that Brooks is right: they “out-hustle and out-build” many of those “native-born” Americans who despise and look down on them.

And, it’s not just the doctors, professors, and top execs — folks who pound nails, lay foundations, make food, sweep floors, put on roofs , and pick our produce are also performing essential services that keep our country going — and, in many if not all cases, doing it better than the rest of us could or would. Really, how long would YOU last picking lettuce or laying shingles on a 100 degree day? And, how GOOD would you really be at it? There is more “skill” to so-called “unskilled” work than most of us in the “privileged classes” want to admit!

PWS

01-30-18

FRED HIATT @ WASHPOST: NOTE TO GOP RESTRICTIONISTS: ANTI-IMMIGRATION = ANTI GROWTH! — “A vote to choke off immigration is a vote for stagnation and decline!” – EXACTLY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/without-immigration-america-will-stagnate/2018/01/28/e659aa94-02d5-11e8-8acf-ad2991367d9d_story.html

Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt writes:

“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?

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.

PWS

01-29-18

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

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

Lauren Gambino reports for The Guardian:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Trump Dreamers’

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

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

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

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

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

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

Timeline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dreamers say the fight is only beginning.

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

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

’They’re speaking up’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick guide

What is Daca and who are the Dreamers?

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

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

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

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

‘I’m not alone’

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

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

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

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

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

Profile

Who are the Dreamers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

01-27-18

 

BESS LEVIN @ VANITY FAIR: “TRUMP’S ENTIRE NATIVIST AGENDA IS BASED ON A LIE” — OF COURSE WE NEED MORE LEGAL FOREIGN WORKERS – AND NOT JUST “ROCKET SCIENTISTS” – EVEN TRUMP’S BUSINESSES CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT ‘EM!

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/01/trumps-entire-nativist-agenda-is-based-on-a-lie-immigration-trump-winery?mbid=nl_th_5a6274f87df577764ae9be8c&CNDID=48297443&spMailingID=12789821&spUserID=MjMzNDQ1MzU1ODE2S0&spJobID=1321960766&spReportId=MTMyMTk2MDc2NgS2

Levin writes:

“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.

PWS

0123-18

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

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

Bardella writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cotton said:

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

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

Cardenas said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

01-22-18

 

 

 

HOPEFUL SIGNS FROM THE BADGER STATE: EVEN IN DEEP RED “TRUMP COUNTRY” FOLKS APPEAR FED UP WITH BOORISH, CONFRONTATIONAL TRUMP GOP BRAND – TURN TO DEM IN KEY STATE ELECTION!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ready-for-an-anti-trump-wave-in-november-look-at-wisconsin/2018/01/17/3b8ec8d6-fbca-11e7-ad8c-ecbb62019393_story.html?utm_term=.6fdc123a44b9

By E.J. Dionne Jr. in the Washington Post:

“If you are appalled by the chaos, division and meanness of the Trump presidency, if you are tired of the lies he and his apparatchiks tell, take heart. Most of your fellow Americans feel the same way.

There is a condescending habit in the nation’s capital of seeing voters as detached and indifferent to the day-to-day workings of government.

The folks who promised to drain the swamp are guilty of a particularly pernicious form of this elitism. President Trump’s defenders regularly claim his base is so blindly loyal that nothing he says or does will ever drive its members away.

This message was already delivered in elections in November and December. The latest tidings are from Wisconsin, which led the way toward the style of politics that Trump exploited to get to the White House, even though he fared poorly there during the 2016 Republican primaries.

Democrat Patty Schachtner was elected to represent a traditionally conservative Wisconsin Senate district in a victory over Republican Adam Jarchow on Jan. 16.

In the rural 10th Senate District in the state’s western reaches, Democrat Patty Schachtner defeated Republican Assemblyman Adam Jarchow by an impressive nine percentage points in a special election on Tuesday. Also consider that Trump carried the district by 17 points in the last presidential election (up from a six-point margin for Mitt Romney in 2012), and that the seat had been held by a Republican for 17 years.

It was, as my Post colleague David Weigel noted, the Democrats’ 34th legislative pickup from the Republicans since Trump’s election. Republicans have flipped just four.

And lest anyone dismiss the importance of what happened, Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who rode to power in Wisconsin on the 2010 conservative wave, warned that Schachtner’s victory was “a wake up call for Republicans in Wisconsin.”

It might usefully rouse Republicans in Washington, too.

Wisconsin matters, and not simply because it was, along with Michigan and Pennsylvania, one of the closely contested states that gave Trump his electoral college victory. It is a place where American progressivism took root at the turn of the last century, but also one where conservatives have staged a dramatic realignment of popular sentiments over a short period.

. . . .

But backlash politics provokes a backlash of its own, and during an interview on Wednesday, Cramer said the voters are weary of division. “Wisconsinites believe in ‘Wisconsin Nice,’ ” she said, “and they really dislike ‘us versus them’ politics.”

This is certainly Schachtner’s view. The chief medical examiner for St. Croix County — Trump prevailed there by 18 points — told the Associated Press that her victory “could be” a portent of Democratic gains, and added: “My message has always been: be kind, be considerate and we need to help people when they’re down.”

Now this would be a change of pace.

With Washington engulfed in controversy over Trump’s hate-filled comments about people from certain countries, Republicans would do well to note the costs of unkind politics.

A Quinnipiac poll released on Wednesday made clear where the passion in politics lies right now. The survey found Trump with a dismal 38 percent job approval rating. More significantly, only 29 percent strongly approved of his performance, while 49 percent strongly disapproved. Intensity of feeling is important to voter turnout, especially in midterms.

Predicting November’s elections in January is, of course, a fool’s game. But failing to see the depth of the loathing for Trump is a form of political malpractice. He has given nice a chance to prevail.”

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

Read Dionne’s complete article at the link.

Cruelness, nastiness, lies, and meanness usually prove counterproductive in the long run. Certainly true in court. And, perhaps also in politics.

Always wondered what had happened to “Wisconsin Nice” during the regime of GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

PWS

01-19-18

 

PAUL KRUGMAN IN THE NY TIMES: The “New Know Nothings” Are Killing That Which Made American Great! — Insisting “that the facts have a well-known liberal bias!”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/15/opinion/trump-american-values.html

Krugman writes:

“These days calling someone a “know-nothing” could mean one of two things.

If you’re a student of history, you might be comparing that person to a member of the Know Nothing party of the 1850s, a bigoted, xenophobic, anti-immigrant group that at its peak included more than a hundred members of Congress and eight governors. More likely, however, you’re suggesting that said person is willfully ignorant, someone who rejects facts that might conflict with his or her prejudices.

The sad thing is that America is currently ruled by people who fit both definitions. And the know-nothings in power are doing all they can to undermine the very foundations of American greatness.

The parallels between anti-immigrant agitation in the mid-19th century and Trumpism are obvious. Only the identities of the maligned nationalities have changed.

After all, Ireland and Germany, the main sources of that era’s immigration wave, were the shithole countries of the day. Half of Ireland’s population emigrated in the face of famine, while Germans were fleeing both economic and political turmoil. Immigrants from both countries, but the Irish in particular, were portrayed as drunken criminals if not subhuman. They were also seen as subversives: Catholics whose first loyalty was to the pope. A few decades later, the next great immigration wave — of Italians, Jews and many other peoples — inspired similar prejudice.

Photo

Portrait of a young man, circa 1864, representing the nativist ideal of the Know Nothing party.CreditLibrary of Congress

And here we are again. Anti-Irish prejudice, anti-German prejudice, anti-Italian prejudice are mostly things of the past (although anti-Semitism springs eternal), but there are always new groups to hate.

But today’s Republicans — for this isn’t just about Donald Trump, it’s about a whole party — aren’t just Know-Nothings, they’re also know-nothings. The range of issues on which conservatives insist that the facts have a well-known liberal bias just keeps widening.

One result of this embrace of ignorance is a remarkable estrangementbetween modern conservatives and highly educated Americans, especially but not only college faculty. The right insists that the scarcity of self-identified conservatives in the academy is evidence of discrimination against their views, of political correctness run wild.

. . . .

Clearly, we need policies to spread the benefits of growth and innovation more widely. But one way to think of Trumpism is as an attempt to narrow regional disparities, not by bringing the lagging regions up, but by cutting the growing regions down. For that’s what attacks on education and immigration, key drivers of the new economy’s success stories, would do.

So will our modern know-nothings prevail? I have no idea. What’s clear, however, is that if they do, they won’t make America great again — they’ll kill the very things that made it great.”

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

Read Krugman’s full op-ed at the link.

The anti-intellectual, anti-science, anti-arts, anti-progress tilt of the modern GOP is almost as disturbing as their White Nationalism, racism, and xenophobia. It all means trouble for our country.

PWS

01-17-18

DAVID BIER @ CATO IN WASHPOST: ADMINISTRATION’S WAR ON SALVADORANS IN AMERICA IS AS FUTILE AS IT IS STUPID!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/trumps-move-against-salvadorans-wont-make-them-leave–or-help-us-workers/2018/01/11/0fa6aac4-f637-11e7-a9e3-ab18ce41436a_story.html

David Bier of the Cato Institute writes in the Washington Post:

“Trump administration officials announced this past week that the government would terminate provisional residency permits for about 200,000 Salvadorans next year. The decision is part of President Trump’s “America first” agenda, restricting the rights of immigrants in order to protect U.S. workers. But, as previous immigration experiments demonstrate, the policy will not aid American workers. And it certainly won’t make Salvadorans pack their bags. Trump’s order is likely to have the opposite effects.

President George W. Bush granted Salvadorans temporary protected status (TPS) after devastating earthquakes hit El Salvador in 2001. He and President Barack Obama repeatedly extended the status. Beyond its humanitarian impact, TPS provides significant economic benefits. It doesn’t give applicants access to any federal welfare — so there are few costs — but it does grant the legal right to work. And Salvadorans with TPS work at very high rates: Eighty-eight percent participate in the labor force, compared with 63 percent of all Americans.

Legal employment has helped Salvadorans achieve a relatively high standard of living. The median household income for Salvadorans with TPS is $50,000, higher than the roughly $36,000 for unauthorized immigrants. Their higher wages, combined with the lack of public benefits, has been a big win for U.S. taxpayers.

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Canceling TPS will make it illegal for these Salvadorans to work, but it’s unlikely to force them home. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush granted TPS to some 185,000 Salvadorans during the country’s civil war, and when President Bill Clinton canceled their status in 1996, few returned. Deportations rose only slightly, and many Salvadorans just worked illegally until 2001.

At this point, 28 years since the original TPS designation and 17 years since the subsequent one, the incentives to stay will be too large for any mass migration back to El Salvador. Trump can try to drive them out with immigration raids and increased deportations, as other presidents have tried, but the highest percentage of unauthorized immigrants deported in a given year is 2.1 percent — three times the amount this administration deported in 2017.

Losing the legal right to work doesn’t prevent immigrants from finding jobs. They can use fake or borrowed documents from U.S. citizen family members, or employers can pay them off the books. Illegal employment, however, pays less than legal employment — employers compensate for taking the risk of hiring someone who may be here illegally.”

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Read Bier’s complete article at the link.

I can make a strong argument that Salvadoran, Haitian, and Honduran TPS are some of the most successful and humane Immigration programs in US history. In contrast to asylum adjudication, TPS adjudications cost the Government peanuts. And, the processing fees for periodic renewals of work authorization actually make money for the Government.

TPSers are overwhelmingly law-abiding, industrious, and because of their legal work authorization they pay taxes. Many TPSers work in essential industries like construction where there are not equally qualified “native born American workers” readily available to replace them. Many have US Citizen children and they have integrated into their communities. In my experience, while the majority would like to have a “path to citizenship” they aren’t aggressively agitating for one. Almost all are grateful just for the chance TPS gives them to remain with their families in the communities they call home and to work legally to support their families.

Thus, TPSers contribute much to the US and ask little in return. Their continuing presence here is in no way a “problem.”

In a rational political climate, extending TPS while offering some type of permanent status to TPSers through legislation would be a “no brainer.”  Indeed, a generation or so ago, US enacted a great program called NACARA, which offered Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalan a way of staying permanently and eventually becoming citizens. The program was immensely successful at a minimal administrative cost to the Government.

But, today we have a White Nationalist Administration and an increasingly White Nationalist restrictionist GOP interested more in dumping on Hispanics and Blacks through a bogus “merit based” immigration agenda than they are in doing what’s best for America.

Bier’s right. the Salvadorans aren’t going anywhere. But the Administration and the GOP restrictionists appears fixed on driving them “underground” at great cost to the TPSers and to America. They are likely to remain underground until we have “regime change” and saner heads eventually prevail.

PWS

01-14-17

WASHPOST EDITORIAL: TERMINATION OF SALVADORAN TPS IS GRATUITOUS CRUELTY ON PART OF ADMINISTRATION – All Pain, No Gain (In Fact, A Net Loss For Everyone)!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-new-self-inflicted-wound-from-the-trump-administration/2018/01/09/19db1190-f585-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html?utm_term=.bfcbf9ae8f07

January 9 at 7:46 PM

STRIKING A blow for making America small again — plus petty, callous and self-defeating — the Trump administration on Monday stripped about 200,000 Salvadorans of their work authorizations and protection from deportation, effective 20 months from now.

The move will create tens of thousands of new undocumented immigrants in the United States; aggravate labor shortages in some American cities; saddle one of the hemisphere’s most beleaguered countries with problems it is ill-equipped to manage; and embitter tens of thousands of U.S.-born citizens whose parents are suddenly thrust into a life in the shadows or forced to return to a country where they have no future.

At this point, it’s naive to wonder what has become of America’s humanitarian impulse; in the Age of Trump, it’s null and void. Before the decision Monday by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to send packing Salvadorans who have lived in this country since a pair of earthquakes crippled their homeland in 2001, the administration took identical action last year against citizens of the hemisphere’s two poorest countries, Haiti and Nicaragua, who have also lived in this country since natural disasters ravaged their own, and announced its intention to end protections for young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” effective beginning in March.

As with the dreamers, the administration has seized on a narrow, legalistic interpretation as a pretext for turning against immigrants who have lived in the United States for years. In the case of the Salvadorans, officials insisted that the humanitarian program that shielded them, known as Temporary Protected Status, should lapse because their country had surmounted the original calamity that triggered TPS in the first place. The argument was the same last year for ending TPS for immigrants from Haiti, knocked senseless by a 2010 earthquake, and those from Nicaragua, leveled by a hurricane in 1998.

The administration insists it is giving meaning to the “temporary” in Temporary Protected Status. That’s fine as theory; as a policy, it fails by ignoring reality. Both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations grasped that it was unwise, not to mention cruel, to impose additional burdens on already desperate neighbors. El Salvador — wracked by brutal gang warfare, one of the world’s highest murder rates and an anemic economy — has gross domestic product per capita one-seventh that of the United States. Deporting tens of thousands of Salvadorans, and, in the process, depriving their country of the remittances they send home, will only deepen that country’s unfolding disaster. How is that in the United States’ interest?

The fact is that the Salvadorans have nearly 200,000 children who are U.S. citizens, born in this country, with no knowledge of their parents’ homeland. Nearly a quarter of those who will lose their status have mortgages, many have businesses, and a large majority have been gainfully employed for many years, paying taxes and contributing to communities.

The costs of the administration’s policy are clear. But what has been gained?”

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In the end, “Gonzo” enforcement and policy making will cost the United States dearly in many, many ways. But, that’s what happens when folks elect an Administration made up of “unqualifieds” and a Congress controlled by a minority Party that doesn’t take seriously its responsibility to legislate or goven in the overall public interest.

The only real solution here is likely to be a longer term one at the ballot box.

PWS

01-10-18

TIS INDEED THE “SEASON OF MIRACLES” — I WOKE UP THIS MORNING AND FOUND MYSELF IN COMPLETE AGREEMENT WITH CHARLES KOCH!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/congress-must-act-on-the-dreamers/2017/12/14/3dc0ab98-e053-11e7-bbd0-9dfb2e37492a_story.html

From the Washington Post:

Congress must act on the ‘dreamers’


A woman holds up a sign outside the U.S. Capitol in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Dec. 5. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
December 14

Tim Cook is chief executive of Apple. Charles Koch is chairman and chief executive of Koch Industries.

The holidays are upon us, and families across the United States are coming together to celebrate. Yet for about 690,000 of our neighbors, colleagues and friends, this holiday season is marked by uncertainty and fear.

These are the “dreamers” — children of undocumented immigrants who are working, in countless ways, to make the United States stronger. Unless Congress acts, this holiday season might be the last one the dreamers get to spend in the country they love and call home.

We must do better. The United States is at its best when all people are free to pursue their dreams. Our country has enjoyed unparalleled success by welcoming people from around the world who seek to make a better life for themselves and their families, no matter what their backgrounds. It is our differences that help us to learn from each other, to challenge our old ways of thinking and to discover innovative solutions that benefit us all. To advance that prosperity and build an even stronger future, each successive generation — including, today, our own — must show the courage to embrace that diversity and to do what is right.

We have no illusions about how difficult it can be to get things done in Washington, and we know that people of good faith disagree about aspects of immigration policy. If ever there were an occasion to come together to help people improve their lives, this is it. By acting now to ensure that dreamers can realize their potential by continuing to contribute to our country, Congress can reaffirm this essential American ideal.

This is a political, economic and moral imperative. The sooner Congress resolves this situation — on a permanent basis — the sooner dreamers can seize the opportunity to plan their lives and develop their talents.

This extraordinary set of circumstances has brought the two of us together as co-authors. We are business leaders who sometimes differ on the issues of the day. Yet, on a question as straightforward as this one, we are firmly aligned.

As a matter of both policy and principle, we strongly agree that Congress must act before the end of the year to bring certainty and security to the lives of dreamers. Delay is not an option. Too many people’s futures hang in the balance.

Both of our companies are fortunate to have dreamers on our teams. We know from experience that the success of our businesses depends on having employees with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. It fuels creativity, broadens knowledge and helps drive innovation. For our nation to maximize progress and prosperity, we need more, not fewer, talented people at the table.

Another foundation of our country’s success is our consistent and equal application of the law. In a free nation, individuals must be able to trust that when our government makes a promise, it is kept. Having laws that are reliable is what gives people the confidence to plan their futures and to invest in their businesses, their communities and themselves.

The United States should not hold hard-working, patriotic people hostage to the debate over immigration — or, worse, expel them because we have yet to resolve a complex national argument. Most Americans agree. In fact, more than 8 in 10 Americans support a straightforward solution to allow dreamers to stay.

No society can truly flourish when a significant portion of its people feel threatened or unable to fulfill their potential. Nor can it prosper by excluding those who want to make positive contributions. This isn’t just a noble principle; it’s a basic fact, borne out through our national history.

Dreamers are doing their part. They have shown great faith in the United States by coming forward, subjecting themselves to background checks, and submitting personal and biometric data.

Now, the rest of us need to do our part. Congress should act quickly, ideally before year’s end, to ensure that these decent people can work and stay and dream in the United States. As a nation, we must show that the dreamers’ faith in our word and goodwill was not misplaced. And we should make clear that the United States welcomes their contributions as part of our national life.

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I agree with every word.

My only question: Why are Ol’ Charlie and his bro David (the “Koch Bros”) bankrolling a GOP that has been taken over by repulsive, dishonest, backward looking, fundamentally dumb, anti-American guys like Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Miller and their racist, White Nationalist, xenophobic, homophobic, religiously intolerant, exclusionary agenda of hate, fear, and loathing, which if followed to its logical conclusion, would destroy America and quite possibly the world?

Even though the Koch Bros are White, many of the employees they depend on to maintain their billionaire status aren’t White, Christian, straight, or U.S. citizens. They have no place in the Trump GOP’s vision of America. Trump and his band wouldn’t exempt the Koch Bros from their planned Armageddon just because of their Whiteness or past services to the party.

So, why keep supporting these heinous individuals and their anti-American agenda? The only reason we have this problem is because a minority of voters with incredibly poor judgement and total disregard for the common good, in an intentionally gerrymandered America, voted for the absurdly unqualified Trump rather than the clearly more qualified candidate. And, if the Kochs had supported Clinton, America would be closer to the place that Charlie Koch and Tim Cook describe in their article. Indeed, the whole costly, divisive, and totally unnecessary self-created “Dreamer Disaster” need never have occurred. What do you expect when you enable a racist xenophobe like Jeff Sessions (who doesn’t know much, if any, law either) to serve as our Attorney General?

At some point, decent folks (and, I’d be willing to admit the Kochs into that company even if I don’t agree with them on most things) who believe in America have to either 1) support Democrats, or 2) form an honest Third Party that excludes the White Nationalist haters. Today’s GOP is not that party.

Realizing that I actually have a fundamental area of agreement with the Koch Bros makes their overall conduct all the more inexplicable.

PWS

12-14-17

WASHINGTON POST: GONZO’S IMMIGRATION COURT “REFORMS” WILL CREATE “KANGAROO COURTS!” —Recent “moves to evaluate judges based on the speed with which they handle dockets that typically exceed 2,000 cases, rather than on fair adjudication, is a recipe for assembly-line injustice.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-deportation-tough-talk-hurts-law-abiding-immigrants/2017/12/10/9a87524a-a93b-11e7-850e-2bdd1236be5d_story.html

The Post Editorial Board writes:

“The broader dysfunction in America’s immigration system remains largely unchanged. Federal immigration courts are grappling with a backlog of some 600,000 cases, an epic logjam. The administration wants to more than double the number of the 300 or so immigration judges, but that will take time. And its recent moves to evaluate judges based on the speed with which they handle dockets that typically exceed 2,000 cases, rather than on fair adjudication, is a recipe for assembly-line injustice.

Mr. Trump’s campaign bluster on deportation was detached from reality. He said he’d quickly deport 2 million or 3 million criminal illegal immigrants, but unless he’s counting parking scofflaws and jaywalkers, he won’t find that many “bad hombres” on the loose. In fact, legal and illegal immigrants are much less likely to end up in jail than U.S. citizens, according to a study by the Cato Institute.

The president’s sound and fury on deportation signify little. He has intensified arrests, disrupting settled and productive lives, families and communities — but to what end? Only an overhaul of America’s broken immigration system offers the prospect of a more lasting fix.”

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Read the full article at the link.

The Post also points out the damage caused by Trump’s racist “bad hombres” rabble rousing and the largely bogus nature of the Administration’s claims to be removing “dangerous criminals.” No, the latter would require some professionalism and real law enforcement skills. Those characteristics are non-existent among Trump Politicos and seem to be in disturbingly short supply at DHS. To crib from Alabama GOP Senator Richard Shelby’s statement about “Ayatollah Roy:” Certainly DHS can do better than Tom Homan.

And certainly America can do better than a US Immigration Court run by White Nationalist Attorney General Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions. Gonzo’s warped concept of Constitutional Due Process is limited to insuring that he himself is represented by competent counsel as he forgets, misrepresents, misleads, mis-construes, and falsifies his way through the halls of justice.

Jeff Sessions does not represent America or American justice. The majority of American voters who did not want the Trump debacle in the first place still have the power to use the system to eventually restore decency, reasonableness, compassion, and integrity to American Government and to send the “Trump White Nationalist carpetbaggers” packing. The only question is whether or not we are up to the task!

PWS

12-12-17

 

THE TRUMP/SESSIONS XENOPHOBIC ANTI-REFUGEE BIAS THREATENS TO DESTROY EVERY ASPECT OF AMERICAN SOCIETY, INCLUDING OUR STAR CHEFS & OUR IMMIGRATION-INSPIRED CRUSINE!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/in-praise-of-refugee-chefs-they-came-from-syria-but-they-represent-an-american-ideal/2017/12/06/64e7c4be-c400-11e7-aae0-cb18a8c29c65_story.html

Marin Cogan reports for the Washington Post:

“On a Thursday morning in June, near the end of Ramadan, Majed Abdulraheem arrives for work at Union Kitchen. The brightly lit, shared commercial kitchen space in Northeast Washington is filled with chef’s tables, pastry racks and the bustling of a dozen cooks building fledgling businesses. It’s Chef Majed’s second time at work today. Fasting makes the daytime heat of the kitchen too hard to manage, and so he was in the kitchen preparing orders late last night, into the early morning.

Abdulraheem, 29, works at Foodhini, a meal delivery service that employs immigrant chefs in Washington. The start-up was founded by Noobtsaa Philip Vang, a child of refugees from Laos, who discovered, after arriving from Minnesota to Georgetown three years ago to get his MBA, that he was missing the Hmong cuisine he grew up with. “I was really craving some of my mom’s food,” says Vang, “and I was thinking I wanted to find a grandma or auntie that was living in the neighborhood somewhere and just buy some of their food.”

He started mulling his own family’s immigration story: When his mom came to the United States, she had limited English skills, and finding work was difficult. His dad sometimes worked multiple jobs, sleeping in his car between shifts, to make sure the family had enough money to survive. What his mother did have, which might have been marketable if only she’d had the resources, was incredible skill as a chef. “There’s got to be a way to create opportunities for people like my mom,” he thought.

Abdulraheem is one of Foodhini’s first chefs. On its website, he offers a menu of his own design: bamiatan, a dish of crisp mini okra sauteed in garlic and topped with cilantro; mutabbal, an eggplant-tahini dip similar to baba ghanouj; and kebab hindi, meatballs cooked in a spiced tomato stew. Like Vang, his love for food and for family are inextricably intertwined: Many of the items on Abdulraheem’s menu are dishes his mother used to make for him when he was a kid growing up in a small town in southern Syria. Even after attending culinary school in Syria, and after years of working in restaurants, he still considers her, his original teacher, to be the better chef.

“You have to love cooking to be good at it,” Abdulraheem tells me through an interpreter. He is preparing the vegetables for fattoush, a staple salad of lettuce, tomato and crunchy pita chips. He stacks long leaves of romaine lettuce, one on top of the other, slicing them crosswise into small confetti ribbons as he talks, before perfectly dicing tomatoes. He cuts huge lemons in half, just once, and squeezes the juice out of them effortlessly. It’s a simple dish but one he loves to make, because it’s both universal and endlessly customizable. “I’m making fattoush, my wife will make fattoush, you can make fattoush,” he says. “But each time it will come out a little bit different, because it’s a reflection of you.”


Majed Abdulraheem and wife Walaa Jadallah at their home in Riverdale Park, Md. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

When Abdulraheem arrived here in 2016, he became part of a long history of immigrants — often refugees — who reached the United States and began making food. You can find this tradition in Eden Center, the Northern Virginia strip mall packed with pho restaurants and pan-Asian groceries, built up by Vietnamese refugees in the 1980s. You can see it in the popular Ethiopian restaurants on U Street; in the restaurants of Peter Chang, who fled Washington’s Chinese Embassy in 2003 and acquired one of the most loyal followings of any chef in America; or in the Thai and Indian restaurants in large cities and small towns across the country.

. . . .

What Abdulraheem and other refugee chefs bring when they come to America has implications beyond the kitchen. Cooking the dishes — sharing the foods of their home country — is a way of ensuring “that identity and heritage are not lost just because the homeland is,” says Poopa Dweck, author of the book “Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews.” They are “documenting history, in some way, for the next generation.”

It’s this diversity — the richness of so many cuisines and cultures, brought from all over the world — that makes American food so outstanding. At the moment, however, that tradition is under threat. The Trump administration has dedicated a lot of energy to barring Syrian refugees like Abdulraheem from coming into the country, while waging a multifront campaign against undocumented immigrants from Latin America. Continuing on this path would have a profound impact — not just on our food, but on our national identity.

It can be hard to explain to people who view immigration as a threat just what we stand to lose when we turn away from this ideal. Maybe a grand argument about American values isn’t the best place to begin. Maybe it’s best to start smaller, somewhere closer to home — somewhere like the dinner table.


Abdulraheem’s kebab hindi (meatballs cooked in a spiced tomato stew). (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

There are things that Majed Abdulraheem doesn’t usually talk about when he’s at work chopping vegetables. But they’re on his mind a lot: How, on his last visit to his parents’ home in 2013, they begged him not to return to his apartment in Damascus but to flee Syria across the border to Jordan instead. How he did as his parents asked. And how he never got to see his father, who became ill during his exile, before he died.

. . . .

The culinary education of refugee chefs is unusual. It is at once cosmopolitan — thanks to the fusing of different influences during the chef’s travels — and narrowly defined by both physical barriers and the limitations of circumstance. The journeys of refugee chefs often spark creativity, born of necessity. The education, just like the migration, is sui generis. Just like America.”

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Read the complete article at the above link.

The irony is certainly not lost on me. Refugees overcome great obstacles to contribute to America’s greatness; immigrants (including, yes, those without legal status) help us prosper as a society; guys like Trump and Sessions are corrosive negative influences who contribute little of positive value and do great damage to our country, our society, and our collective future every day they hold power, despite having having been given every chance to make positive contributions.

America’s continued greatness, and perhaps our ultimate survival as a nation, depends on whether we can use the legal system and the ballot box to remove corrosive influences like Trump, Sessions, and their ill-intentioned cronies from office before they can completely destroy our country.

PWS

12-10-17

WASHINGTON POST – “GOOD STUFF” ABOUT THE “REAL AMERICA” FROM LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Immigrants reflect what makes America great


A newly naturalized citizen holds an American flag during at the Atlanta office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2016. (Kevin D. Liles/For the Washington Post)
December 6
I applaud the strong statement in The Post’s Dec. 4 editorial “An attack on America.” I agree that the “president’s immigration policies are neither an embrace of legality nor in the national interest.”

This past year, I suffered a mild stroke, and through the swift actions of staff at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, I have thankfully recovered. The staff helped me cope and persist. The cultural diversity of the staff reflected the America I cherish. We are already great because of the gifts such people bring to our shores. Everyone in our country deserves the care I received, not just those of us who are privileged.

I am deeply appreciative to all who administered compassionate care with skill and consistency at that hospital and who represent the many sons and daughters of immigrants to whom we should be thankful — not only those who work in our fields, construction sites, kitchens and bathrooms but also those in the corridors and labs in our hospitals and by the bedside of a frightened patient.

I write this letter also on behalf of the hundreds of immigrants who fill the pews each week in the National Capital Presbytery, where I am a moderator, and who remind us of their gifts and deeply religious and faithful commitment to the well-being of all.

William Plitt, Arlington

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Yup, I had the same thoughts about the nice folks who took care of my Dad during his years in a retirement home and the great surgeon who repaired my broken ankle in Maine this summer.

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The ‘dreamers’ emergency


A woman holds up a sign outside the U.S. Capitol in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Tuesday in Washington. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)
December 6
Regarding Paul Kane’s Dec. 3 @PKCapitol column, “Republicans savor a win that could be swept aside by shutdown negotiations”:Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said there is no need for action on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program because it is not a crisis or an emergency. Really, is that his management style?Maybe that’s why Congress can come up with money for hurricane recovery but not to help people to move out of houses that flood repeatedly. Still, it seems that about 690,000 people not knowing what is going to happen to them in three months is at least as much of an emergency as the need for a deficit-financed tax cut for a nation with a booming economy and a $20 trillion debt.

Mike Zasadil, Silver Spring

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It’s all about priorities, Mike. For the GOP, greed, selfishness, and rewarding the rich are where it’s at. Human needs and the rest of the populace, not so much. It’s not going to change until those of us who believe differently throw the GOP out of power at the ballot box.

PWS

12-08-17