Musings on Events in U.S. Immigration Court, Immigration Law, Sports, and Other Random Topics by Retired United States Immigration Judge (Arlington, Virginia) and former Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals Paul Wickham Schmidt. To see my complete professional bio, just click on the link below.
“PRESIDENT TRUMP has often spoken and tweeted of the soft spot in his “great heart” for “dreamers,” the hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to this country as children. This supposed concern has now been revealed as a con.
Offered bipartisan legislation in the Senate that would have protected 1.8 million dreamers from deportation, in return for a down payment on the $25 billion wall Mr. Trump assured voters that Mexico would finance, the president showed his cards. The deal was a “total catastrophe,” the president said, punctuating a day in which the White House mustered all its political firepower in an effort to bury the last best chance to protect an absolutely blameless cohort of young people, raised and educated as Americans.
Despite the withering scorn heaped on the bipartisan plan by Mr. Trump, with a hearty second by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), eight Republican senators backed it, giving it a total of 54 votes — six shy of the 60 required for passage. Had Mr. Trump stayed silent, or suggested he could accept a modified version, the bill may very well have passed. But he turns out to be far less interested helping the dreamers — helping anyone, really — than in maintaining his anti-immigrant political base.
His own blueprint, an obvious nonstarter that included sharp cuts to legal immigration, mustered just 39 votes in the Senate, nearly all Republicans. That’s a telling total, one that mirrors the percentage of Americans who still support him. Of the four immigration measures voted on in the Senate last week, the Trump bill had the least support.
The White House wasn’t surprised. By yoking its proposal for protecting dreamers to a hard-line wish list, the president guaranteed its defeat — and maintained the president’s own bona fides as a resolute champion of the nation’s xenophobes.
The president, along with Mr. McConnell, is intent on a blame game, not a solution. He suggested no compromises and engaged in no negotiations, preferring to stick with maximalist demands. Despite barely mentioning it as a candidate, Mr. Trump has not budged from insisting on a plan to reduce annual legal immigrants to the United States by hundreds of thousands, to the lowest level in decades.
That’s bad policy for a country with an aging population and an unemployment rate that ranks among the lowest in the industrialized world. More to the point, even if you favor lower levels, it was guaranteed in the context of this debate to doom the dreamers — especially after Democrats had already compromised substantially on the border security that Mr. Trump initially set as his price.
And what of the dreamers, whom Mr. Trump addressed repeatedly in calming tones, telling them not to worry? For the time being, federal courts have preserved their work permits and protections from deportation. Meanwhile, though, his administration is pressing ahead, asking the Supreme Court to uphold the president’s effort to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that has shielded dreamers since 2012.
If the administration is successful, as many legal experts expect, the lives, hopes and futures of nearly 2 million young immigrants will be upended. They will lose jobs and, in many cases, driver’s licenses, tuition subsidies and health insurance. They will slip into the shadows in the only country they know. This will be Mr. Trump’s legacy and the true reflection of his “great heart.”
As pointed out in this editorial, the best chance for a compromise, basically “Dreamers for Wall,” likely would have passed both Houses had Trump put himself fully behind it and pressured McConnell and Ryan to make it happen. But, that was never in the cards. The whole charade was always about Trump looking for a way to avoid taking responsibility for the Dreamer fiasco and proving to his “base” that he never really lost sight of their racist views.
About the only good thing was that the Administration’s “Miller-drafted” “Advancing White Supremacy and Xenophobic Racism Act of 2018” was defeated by the biggest margin of any of the proposals. But, that’s not much solace to the Dreamers, although it does help our country by staving off an insane cut in legal immigration that would have been “bad policy for a country with an aging population and an unemployment rate that ranks among the lowest in the industrialized world.”
When Donald Trump was running for president, absent any actual relevant experience, he claimed he was qualified for the job thanks to his superior deal-making skills—an argument that many ended up buying, despite vast stores of evidence to the contrary. Unfortunately for the U.S., what Trump didn’t explain—though laid out pretty clearly in his book The Art of the Deal—was that as a businessman, making “a deal” to him meant the other side loses, rather than both parties walking away with a happy compromise. “Sometimes, part of making a deal is denigrating your competition,” he wrote, because yes, he’s just that much of an asshole. But whereas his business-world competition could simply get up from the negotiating table and leave, sadly for America, that asshole is our president. And this week, we all got a taste of his singular deal-making style. Only instead of jockeying over some crappy Atlantic City casino or Versailles-inspired condo, this deal had to do with the fate of hundreds of thousands of people who might be sent back to a country they’ve never known because the president is a fraud.
Despite claiming over and over that he has a “big heart” where DACA recipients are concerned, that he wants to come up with a solution before the March 5 deadline he set, and that if lawmakers came to him with an agreement, “I will be signing it,” Trump this week chose to torpedo Congress’s best stab at a bipartisan deal. With four proposed Senate bills to protect the Dreamers from deportation, the White House chose to “work vigorously to oppose” a centrist bill that had the best chances of passing, with the Department of Homeland Security claiming it amounted to “mass amnesty for over 10 million illegal aliens.” While the Common Sense Coalition measure, sponsored by eight Republicans, seven Democrats, and one independent, would have provided $25 billion for border security, including Trump‘s precious wall, it would have done so over a period of 10 years and not immediately, as the man-child in the Oval Office has demanded. “I don’t think the president helped very much,” Senator Lindsey Graham, told The New York Times, adding, “As long as the president allows Steve Miller and others to run the show down there, we’re never going to get anywhere.” Thanks to Congress’s paralysis, experts estimate that more than 100 DACA recipients are losing their status daily. And Trump’s the business world is pissed.
“I’ve been very worried for quite a while that I was watching a train wreck in slow motion, and yesterday we had that train wreck,” Tamar Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks USA, an alliance of small businesses, told the Financial Times. Echoing the sentiment was Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, who noted: “We have people who are working here contributing to our society. Many of them are in the manufacturing sector. We don’t want to lose those folks. And frankly our country shouldn’t want to lose those folks—especially in manufacturing where we have 364,000 open jobs.” Earlier in the week, Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein said in interview, “I couldn’t bear the idea of sending outside the country someone who grew up here his or her entire life,” adding that “over time, immigrants add to the economy because they bring in skills,” a data point the administration would rather not hear. To that end, the Cato Institute estimates that if the employers lost all of their DACA employees, it would set businesses back $6.3 billion in worker-turnover costs.
You might think a guy who just delivered a billion-dollar tax break to corporations would remain invested in keeping those corporations happy. But of course, Trump doesn’t deal in facts, so such negotiating points are lost on him. Art of the Deal, indeed.
“Putin’s Idiot” Donald Trump specializes in taking potential “win-win” situations and turning them into “lose-lose.” That’s certainly what he has done with the Dreamers. And, we all share in their loss.
Nevertheless, if our country survives, the Dreamers will end up better than Trump and his apologists. The Dreamers aren’t going anywhere, for the most part. But, I’m betting that we will see a number of the super slimy folks who served Trump in the White House or his campaign headed for jail (or at least a few years of “supervised release.”).
“This is a messaging document,” Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at the White House.
Here are eight messages that the White House sends with its wish list:
1. Touching third rails he said he wouldn’t:
As a candidate, Trump repeatedly said he would never cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.
Now he proposes cutting Medicare by $554 billion and Medicaid by around $250 billion over the next decade.
His plan includes new per-person limits on the amount of health care each Medicaid enrollee can use and a dramatic shift toward block grants, which would allow states to tighten eligibility requirements and institute work requirements that would kick some off public assistance.
Impacting the middle class, Trump also calls for cutting the subsidies that allow more than four in five people with marketplace health plans to afford their insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act.
2. Scaling back support for the forgotten man:
Many displaced blue-collar workers in the Rust Belt took the president at his word when he promised to bring back their manufacturing jobs. But Trump’s budget calls for cutting funding for National Dislocated Worker Grants – which provides support to those who lose their jobs because of factory closures or natural disasters — from $219.5 million in 2017 to $51 million in 2019.
Also at the Labor Department, the president wants to slash support for the Adult Employment and Training Activities initiative, which serves high school dropouts and veterans, from $810 million last year to $490 million in 2019.
3. Giving up on a balanced budget:
Trump repeatedly promised that he would balance the budget “very quickly.” It turns out that a guy who has often described himself as the “king of debt” didn’t feel that passionately about deficits. Last year, he laid out a plan to balance the budget in 10 years. This year he didn’t even try. Trump now accepts annual deficits that will run over $1 trillion as the new normal.
Going further, the president also promised on the campaign trail that he’d get rid of the national debt altogether by the end of his second term. But his White House now projects that the national debt, which is already over $20 trillion, will grow more than $2 trillion over the next two years and by at least $7 trillion over the next decade. The administration repeatedly denied this in December as officials pushed to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion.
“After Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts in the 1980s, deficits exploded in the same range as Trump’s now, when calculated as a percentage of the economy, or gross domestic product. But Reagan’s famous ‘riverboat’ gamble came when the total national debt was a fraction of what it is today. Trump is pushing the envelope when debt is already near 80 percent of GDP, leaving far less room to maneuver if the economy turns downward,” David Rogers writes in Politico. “Economists and politicians alike don’t know what happens next. There’s all the edginess of breaking new ground. But also, as with Faulkner’s famous line, there is a sense that the past ‘is not even past.’ … Nothing now seems obvious, except red ink.”
Trump blames state of U.S. infrastructure on ‘laziness’ after WWII
4. Relying on fuzzy math:
Trump’s team knows full well that they’ll never get most of the spending cuts they’re proposing, but they’re using them to make the deficit look less bad than it really is. Just last Friday, the president signed into law an authorization bill that blows up the sequester and increases spending by more than $500 billion.
The White House also makes the unrealistic assumption that the economy will grow by more than 3 percent every year between now and 2024, which makes its projections for revenue growth rosier than they should be. No serious economist thinks that level of growth can be sustained. A recession seems probable in the next decade.
Senate Democrats noticed that Trump’s budget plan, if it was enacted, would actually result in a net decrease in federal spending on infrastructure. Chuck Schumer’s office identified more than $240 billion in proposed cuts over the coming decade to existing infrastructure programs, which is higher than the $200 billion Trump simultaneously proposed in new spending. “The cuts identified by Schumer’s office include a $122 billion reduction in outlays over the coming decade to the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for road projects and mass transit,” John Wagner reports. “Other proposed reductions would target an array of programs that fund rail, aviation [and] wastewater…”
In 1999, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush denounced a House Republican plan to save $8 billion by deferring tax credit payments for low-income people. “I don’t think they ought to balance their budget on the backs of the poor,” he said at a campaign stop. “I’m concerned for someone who is moving from near-poverty to middle class.”
That sentiment seems quaint now. While Trump has never claimed the mantle of “compassionate conservatism,” his budget validates several of the negative stereotypes that Bush tried to shed.
Trump wants to cut $214 billion from the food stamp program in the next decade, a reduction of nearly 30 percent.
The budget shows Ben Carson has no suction at the White House. Despite his efforts, the secretary of housing and urban development was unable to stop Trump from reducing Section 8 federal housing subsidies by more than $1 billion, zeroing out community development block grants and eliminating a $1.9 billion fund to cover public housing capital repairs. The 14 percent cut at HUD is even deeper than what Trump proposed last year.
The budget cuts 29 programs at the Education Department, many of which are designed to help needy children – including after-school activities to keep kids off the street and a grant program for college students with “exceptional financial need.” Trump’s plan also gets rid of a tuition initiative that makes college affordable for underprivileged D.C. residents, who don’t have access to strong in-state universities.
Trump wants to neuter the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by starving it of resources, limiting its enforcement power and changing its funding stream so that it’s more vulnerable to pressure from Wall Street.
He seeks to cut more than $2.5 billion from the annual budget of the Environmental Protection Agency, which is about a quarter of its spending. He’d eliminate funding for state radon-detection programs and end partnerships to monitor and restore water quality in the Gulf of Mexico, Puget Sound and other large bodies of water.
“Funding for the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay would fall from $72 million to $7 million, and a similar program for the Great Lakes would be cut from $300 million to $30 million — although neither would be wiped out,” Brady Dennis reports. “In addition, the Trump budget would eliminate — or very nearly eliminate — the agency’s programs related to climate change. Funding for the agency’s Office of Science and Technology would drop by more than a third, from $762 million to $489 million. And funding for prosecuting environmental crimes and for certain clean air and water programs would drop significantly.”
7. More guns, less butter:
Make no mistake, Trump is not calling for a reduction in the size of government. He seeks to spend $4.4 trillion next year, up 10 percent from last year. He’s calling for spending less on the homefront to cover a massive military buildup.
Trump asks for $716 billion in defense spending in 2019, a 13 percent increase. “The Trump plan provides more money for just about everything a general or admiral might desire,” Greg Jaffe notes. “The United States already spends more on its military than the next eight nations combined.”
Meanwhile, Trump proposes slashing the State Department’s budget by 23 percent. As Secretary of Defense James Mattis told Congress in 2013, when he was a Marine general leading Central Command: “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.”
Another campaign promise Trump is making good on: building his “Deportation Force.” The budget allocates $2.8 billion to expand immigration detention facilities so that 52,000 beds are always available, $782 million to hire 2,750 additional border agents, and $1.6 billion for the construction of 65 miles of border wall in Texas. (Whatever happened to Mexico paying?) He also adds $2.2 billion for the Secret Service to hire 450 more people.
Trump claims that U.S. has spent $7 trillion in the Middle East
8. Leaning in on privatization:
Trump wants to outsource as many public functions as possible to private, for-profit companies.
His budget calls for selling off scores of prized federal assets, from Reagan National and Dulles Airports to the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. “Power transmission assets from the Tennessee Valley Authority; the Southwestern Power Administration, which sells power in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas; the Western Area Power Administration; and the Bonneville Power Administration, covering the Pacific northwest, were cited for potential divestiture,” Michael Laris reports. “It was not immediately clear what public or private entity might buy those roads, whether they might be tolled, or other details. Some state officials said they were uncertain about how their residents would benefit from such a proposal.”
The White House is re-upping its plan to shift the nation’s air traffic control system out of government hands, even though it went nowhere in Congress last year.
Finally, he wants to increase spending by more than $1 billion on privateschool vouchers and other school choice plans while slashing the Education Department’s budget by $3.6 billion and devoting more resources to career training, at the expense of four-year universities.
Don’t be fooled by the “paper money” you might be making in the stock market (if you are one of the fortunate minority of Americans with money to invest). 2017 was one of the worst years in the history of American democracy, and 2018 promises to be even worse. Indeed, while American democracy has been resilient enough to stand up to Trump and the utterly corrupt GOP to date, they are now upping their attack. There is absolutely no guarantee that their plan to destroy our country and hand it over to an unholy mixture of Russian Oligarchs, Chinese Government Corporations, and greedy Capitalist plutocrats won’t succeed.
Donald Trump and today’s GOP are a clear and present danger to our national security and the future of our democracy!
“Congress now appears likely to reach a budget deal to keep the government functioning without treating as bargaining chips hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States when they were children. It also appears, though, that President Trump will consider undoing his threat of deportation for these young “Dreamers” only if Congress considers the first deep cuts to legal immigration since the 1920s.
The changes the president is demanding stem from a nativist, zero-sum view that what’s good for immigrants is bad for America. That view runs counter not just to the best of American tradition and principles, but to evidence of what’s best for the country.
The programs targeted by Mr. Trump are designed to make legal immigration more diverse and humane. One is the lottery system that offers the chance for visas to people from countries that are underrepresented as sources of American immigrants; the other is family-based immigration, which offers visas to close relatives of citizens and legal residents.
Mr. Trump, who has regularly smeared immigrants as terrorists and criminals, has lately been focusing his fear-mongering on the diversity visa program. Last month, his Department of Homeland Security released a report that dishonestly claimed that those who entered the country via the lottery were more likely to be tied to terrorist attacks. The Cato Institute found that lottery visa holders actually killed only eight of 3,037 Americans murdered by foreign-born terrorists since 1975. The immigrants chosen in the lottery, moreover, are not chosen “without any regard for skill, merit or the safety of our people,” as Mr. Trump said in his State of the Union address. They must have at least a high school education or two years of experience in skilled work, and they must also undergo criminal, national security and medical checks. The 50,000 recipients of the visas are not guaranteed permanent residence, only a chance at getting through the rest of the immigration process.
Mr. Trump has said that the family reunification program — which he and other immigration opponents prefer to call “chain migration” — opens the floodgates to “virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.” In fact, relatives other than spouses, parents and minor children are subject to annual caps and country quotas, so that, today, the backlog is almost four million applicants, most of them facing many years of waiting to get a visa. Mr. Trump would allow no new applicants other than immediate family members, and even these would no longer include parents. Imposing these restrictions and ending the diversity visa lottery would cut in half the number of legal immigrants.
It is hard to gauge how much of what Mr. Trump says is meant as a scare tactic and how much he really will demand. The one notion that runs through all he says or tweets about immigration is that it is a door for criminals and terrorists to enter the United States. Yet data studied by the Cato Institute indicates that diversity-visa holders and illegal immigrants, the groups most maligned by Mr. Trump, are far less prone to crime than native-born Americans.
Politicians have wrestled for decades with how to deal with immigrants who are in the United States illegally — now around 11 million people. But immigration in itself has been widely regarded as good for America and for the American dream. The preponderance of evidence shows that immigrants help the economy grow. They are more likely to own businesses or to start businesses than the native-born; of the 87 privately held companies currently valued at more than $1 billion, 51 percent had immigrant founders.
There are questions worth examining and debating about whether the United States ought to admit more skilled immigrants and what criteria it uses to screen applicants. But such a debate can’t unfold in the shadow of Mr. Trump’s threat to imminently expel the Dreamers. So what is Mr. Trump really after?
A Gallup poll last June found 62 percent of Americans support maintaining current levels of immigration or even increasing them. And since the country is at nearly full employment, the timing of these anti-immigrant demands might seem odd. Yet it’s no more odd than the president’s tough-on-crime talk at a time when crime is lower than it’s ever been, or his obsession with Islamist terrorists, even though the Government Accountability Office found that right-wing extremists have committed far more domestic attacks against Americans since 2001. Mr. Trump’s approach seems intended less to rationalize the immigration system than to inflame his core supporters by demonizing nonwhite people, as he did when he disparaged immigrants from nations like Haiti and Mexico while praising Norwegians.
Members of Congress know better, and they are aware that there are sensible measures that would clear the immediate hurdle and produce a bipartisan deal. Senators John McCain, the Arizona Republican, and Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, have offered a stopgap bill that would end the threat to the Dreamers while strengthening border security. Nothing about diversity visas or family-based migration, nothing for the wasteful wall.
That makes sense. The way we deal with legal immigration should not be changed without a thorough, honest debate.
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When policies are driven by White Nationalism, racism, and the need to throw “red meat” to a base that has abandoned inclusiveness, humanity, and “enlightened self interest,” there isn’t much room for rationality, facts, or the common good. Unfortunately, that’s a description of the modern GOP.
CIS frequently manipulates its findings to achieve results that further its anti-immigrant agenda. Last fall, for instance, CIS staffer Jessica Vaughn published a report exaggerating how many people would enter America via a process that CIS calls “chain migration” — the hate group’s preferred phrase to stigmatize the idea of immigrant families reuniting.
The phrase “chain migration” appeared twice in this week’s State of the Union, alongside dangerous and hateful misinformation about immigrants taken directly from CIS talking points.
Given the State of the Union’s author, that should be no surprise.
Senior adviser Stephen Miller, who took the lead writing the speech, served for years as an aide to Jeff Sessions, who has himself endorsed CIS’ work, spoken on a CIS panel, and taken whispered counsel from a former CIS staffer during immigration debates on the Senate floor.
When Sessions hired Miller fresh from Duke University, he did so at the recommendation of anti-Muslim extremist David Horowitz. Now in the White House, Miller has been claimed and praised by extremists for advocating policy on hate group wish lists and pushing anti-immigrant narratives like the one we heard in the State of the Union.
“For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They have allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans,” Trump said Tuesday, reading Miller’s text off a teleprompter.
But studies consistently show that immigrants help — not hurt — the U.S. economy.
“Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives,” Trump said Tuesday — despite study after study finding immigrants commit crime at rates lowerthan native-born Americans, not higher.
Hate groups should not have a seat at the table on matters of national policy or influence what talking points to highlight in the State of the Union.
But thanks to Stephen Miller, they have exactly that.
P.S. Here are some other pieces we think are valuable this week:
Yup. Sadly, Trump and his cohorts Sessions & Miller are out to divide, not unify America (except in the sense that they are unifying all decent Americans against their White Nationalist, racist agenda). For years, the GOP right-wing has “talked around” the racism and White Nationalism inherent in many of their programs and actions, using euphemisms like “reform,” “streamlining,” “right to work,” “combatting voter fraud,” etc. And, while occasionally it earns them a mild “tisk, tisk” from so-called “moderate” or “mainstream” Republicans, for the most part the spineless leadership of the GOP has given racism, White Nationalism, and xenophobia a “free Pass.”
Just look at the “hero of the GOP moderates,” Mitt Romney. “The Mittster” appears poised to reenter politics as the Junior Senator from Utah, replacing the retiring Orrin Hatch.
While carefully steering a moderate line on immigration during his governorship of “Blue State” Massachusetts, once nominated for the Presidency, Romney hired the notorious racist/White Nationalist/vote suppressor Kris Kobach as his “Immigration Advisor.” He then proceeded to largely adopt the White Nationalist line in immigration, including the famous Kobach initiative that sought to make life so miserable for hardworking, law-abiding undocumented residents (known in White Nationalist lingo as “illegals”) that they would “self-deport.”
Who is the real Mitt Romney? Nobody knows. But, my guess is that he’ll stand with the White Nationalists on immigration.
Although he has been sharply critical of Trump at times, it’s likely that when push comes to shove, he’ll line up behind the Trump-far right agenda just like other so-called “critics” such as Sen. “Bobby the Cork” Corker, Sen. Jeff Flake, Sen. John McCain, Sen. Susan Collins, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski when it came to “sticking it to America” with the GOP Tax ripoff. After all, remember how quick Mitt was to “pretzel himself up” and grovel before Trump on the off-chance that he would be allowed to serve the Great Con-Master as Secretary of State!
“MADISON – Amid all the defeats and disasters Democrats have suffered in Wisconsin, there’s one spot on the map that gets brighter for them all the time.
The capital city and its suburbs comprise one of America’s premier “blue” bastions.
Dane County’s liberal tilt is nothing new.
But obscured by the Democratic Party’s statewide losses since 2010 is the rapid, relentless growth of its voting power.
Fueled by a tech boomlet, Dane is adding people at a faster rate than any county its size between Minnesota and Massachusetts. Between 2015 and 2016, it accounted for almost 80% of Wisconsin’s net population growth and is now home to more than 530,000 people.
“It is just stunning what has happened,” said economic consultant and former university administrator David J. Ward, describing a physical transformation that includes an apartment-building spree in downtown Madison as well as Epic Systems’ giant tech campus in suburban Verona, a new-economy wonderland where more than 9,000 employees (many in their 20s) work in a chain of whimsical buildings planted in old farm fields.
What’s going on in Dane County is gradually altering the electoral math in Wisconsin. Dane has been growing about four points more Democratic with each presidential contest since 1980, while adding thousands more voters every year. As a result, it packs an ever stronger political punch. Democrats won the county’s presidential vote by a margin of roughly 20,000 votes in 1984, 50,000 votes in 1996, 90,000 votes in 2004 and almost 150,000 votes in 2016.
Mobilized against a lightning-rod Republican governor (Scott Walker) and president (Donald Trump), these voters are poised to turn out in droves for the mid-term elections this fall. Organized political groups and informal political networks proliferate here, some with deep roots, some triggered by the state’s labor and recall fights, some sparked by Bernie Sanders’ presidential run last year, some spurred by Trump’s election.
“I’ve never seen this level of political activity,” said Democrat Mark Pocan, who represents Madison and the surrounding area in Congress.
Part of an ongoing series: Wisconsin in the age of Trump.
Craig Gilbert of the Journal Sentinel is on a fellowship established through Marquette University Law School’s Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education. The fellowship is aimed at providing support for journalism projects on issues of civic importance. All the work is done under the direction of Journal Sentinel editors.
“Right now, as (county) clerk, I have to assume crazy turnout,” said Scott McDonell, who orders the election ballots for Dane County. “Because people are so intense about wanting to send a message.”
Dane is the embodiment of some of the Democratic Party’s rosiest national trend lines: a growing appeal to the young and college-educated and a growing dominance in prosperous metropolitan areas.
But Dane also points to the double-edged nature of that appeal. A parade of GOP victories in 2010, the 2012 recall fight, 2014 and 2016 shows that this area’s rising clout guarantees nothing for Democrats when it’s offset by deep losses in small towns and northern blue-collar battlegrounds like Green Bay and Wausau. In 2016, Dane delivered a bigger vote margin for Hillary Clinton than it did for Barack Obama, but Clinton lost the state thanks to her (and her party’s) epic collapse in rural counties.
These two dynamics — Dane getting bigger and bluer, northern Wisconsin getting redder — are at the heart of the battle for Wisconsin.
Some strategists in both parties believe the two are at least partly connected; that Democrats’ increasing reliance on Madison (and Milwaukee, the party’s other anchor) makes it harder for them to compete for more conservative blue-collar and rural voters.
When Madison Mayor Paul Soglin joined the vast Democratic field for governor last month, Walker immediately played the “Madison” card.
“The last thing we need is more Madison in our lives,” said Walker on Twitter, saying “businesses have left and murders have gone up.”
“We’re obviously doing something right and a lot better than the way (Walker) is doing it for the rest of the state. And it’s not because we’re the home of the state university and it’s not because of state government, because he has spent the better part of the last seven years strangling them,” said Soglin in an interview, arguing that his city represents a growth model of investing in education and quality of life and “creating a great place where people want to be.” (He contrasted it to the use of massive subsidies to bring FoxConn to Wisconsin).
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, who also bristled at Walker’s tweet, pointed to the state’s new ad campaign to draw millennials from Chicago, noting the Madison area is the one place in Wisconsin attracting that age group in significant numbers. (Many of Epic’s employees settle in downtown Madison and take a dedicated bus every day to the Verona campus.)
“Guess where millennials want to live? In communities that are tolerant, that invest in quality of life, that care about their environment, that provide recreational opportunities for them, a thriving downtown — everything Dane County has. We’ve worked on that,” Parisi said.
In a statement for this story, Walker political spokesman Brian Reisinger said that contrary to what his opponents say, the governor isn’t anti-Madison.
“The governor believes there are good people in Madison, like everywhere else in Wisconsin. But that doesn’t change the harm of a liberal governing philosophy that pits those hard-working families against their best interests. The governor enjoys a Badger game as much as anyone — the point is, Madison would be much better off if it had lower taxes and a better business environment, like the rest of Wisconsin does under his leadership.”
“It was liberal Madison politicians who gave us big budget deficits, massive tax increases, and record job loss,” Reisinger said.
But if the story of Madison figures in the campaign debate this year, the conversation could be awkward for both sides.
Walker is faced with the inconvenient fact that Wisconsin’s fastest-growing county is a place Republicans love to put down and where his party could hardly be less popular. National studies and stories in recent years have singled out Madison as an emerging technology hub for health care, life sciences, even gaming — much of the growth rooted in the University of Wisconsin and its myriad research centers. Madison routinely makes “best cities” lists. Nonstop flights to San Francisco are starting this summer, a sign of its tech growth. Dane has added far more private-sector jobs than any other Wisconsin county since Walker took office. And in a state where more people are moving out than moving in, it has experienced a net in-migration of more than 20,000 since 2010. No other county in the state is close.
You could argue that the tech-fueled expansion in greater Madison is the state’s brightest economic story, and Epic, the health care software firm that has been adding almost 1,000 employees annually, its brightest business story. But Walker, an aggressive cheerleader for Wisconsin’s economy, has not mentioned either in his eight “state of the state” speeches.
Meanwhile, this area’s prosperity creates its own “messaging” challenge for Democrats, who are painfully aware that “Madison” comes with baggage for some Wisconsinites, whether they see it as a symbol of government or left-wing politics or intellectual elitism or urban culture.
“It’s all of that combined, which in my mind is why it’s so powerful. It’s whatever part of it irks people,” said UW-Madison political scientist Kathy Cramer, who chronicled perceptions of the state’s capital in her book, “The Politics of Resentment,” about rural attitudes toward cities and their effect on politics.
Economics may be adding another wrinkle to this dynamic. Cramer said that Madison’s relative prosperity has the potential to provoke either “pride” or “resentment” elsewhere in the state.
Zach Brandon, a Democrat and head of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, laments Madison-bashing, but said, “Madison, too, has to make sure it’s telling a story that doesn’t separate us from the rest of Wisconsin.”
Thanks to Trump’s election, Walker’s victories and even the attention Cramer’s book has received here and nationally, voters and activists here seem more sensitive than ever to their cultural and political distance from some parts of the state and how that can influence elections.
“You get up in these others parts (of) Wisconsin and they don’t like Madison people,” said Ronald Stucki, a Democratic voter in Dane County, who was interviewed as he spoke to a party volunteer canvassing in the city last month.
Some Madison progressives said they hoped Democrats don’t nominate someone from Madison against Walker because they feared it would make it harder to win votes elsewhere. The party’s very crowded field includes several Madison candidates, and the Democratic U.S. senator on the 2018 ballot, Tammy Baldwin, is from Madison.
(The actual history of Madison Democrats in big statewide races isn’t a bad one at all: winners include Baldwin for Senate in 2012, Russ Feingold for Senate in 1992, 1998 and 2004, and Jim Doyle for governor in 2002 and 2006; losers include Feingold for Senate in 2010 and 2016 and Mary Burke for governor in 2014.)
There is no way to really measure whether, or how much, the Democratic Party’s growing reliance on Madison and Milwaukee has contributed to the party’s struggles elsewhere in the state. Both trends are part of a growing partisan divide nationally between cities and small towns and between college grads and blue-collar voters.
In private conversations, GOP strategists differ over how to view the inexorable growth in Dane’s voting power. Some say it puts Democrats in a political box, dragging them further to left and out of touch with “average” voters. They also note that it’s little use to Democrats in legislative races since that vote is so concentrated geographically.
But some in the GOP are troubled by the trend lines. While many rural Republican counties are losing population, the bluest part of the state is growing the fastest — and still getting bluer. Even the burgeoning suburbs outside Madison have shifted sharply Democratic.
For many years, the Republican answer to Dane was Waukesha County, the big, ultra-red, high-turnout suburban county west of Milwaukee. But Dane has been adding more jobs and more voters than Waukesha County for many years. Since 2010, it has added five times as many people as Waukesha County. In fact, Dane’s combination of size, one-party dominance, growth and extreme turnout has few analogs anywhere in the U.S. And while Wisconsin’s rural voters have a history of swinging, the unflagging expansion of the Democrat vote around Madison is the most enduring trend anywhere on the Wisconsin political map.
What does that mean for elections beyond 2018?
Craig Gilbert talks about his Lubar Fellowship analyzing Wisconsin in the age of Trump. Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Here is how pollster Charles Franklin of the Marquette Law School quantified Dane’s trajectory: based on a nearly 40-year trend line in presidential voting, the Democratic Party’s winning margin in Dane County is growing by more than 15,000 votes every four years. That’s bigger than the winning margin in two of the state’s past five presidential contests.
Here is another way to measure it:
Back in 1980, Dane County accounted for 7% of the statewide vote and gave Democrats a 17-point advantage. When you multiply those two numbers together, it means Dane boosted the party’s statewide performance by a little more than one point. Its “value” to Democrats has quintupled since then. In 2016, Dane accounted for more than 10% of the statewide vote and voted Democratic by almost 50 points. Multiply those numbers together, and it means Dane boosted the party’s statewide performance by 5 points.
In their Wisconsin victories, Walker and Trump overcame this trend by making their own deep inroads elsewhere. But as long as it keeps getting bluer and growing faster, Dane County may become harder for Republicans to neutralize.
Craig Gilbert is reporting an ongoing series on the shifting political landscape in Wisconsin after the state helped propel Donald Trump to the White House.
A view of new apartments and construction along E. Washington Ave. in Madison. Fueled by a tech boomlet, Dane is adding people at a faster rate than any county its size between Minnesota and Massachusetts. Between 2015 and 2016, it accounted for almost 80% percent of Wisconsin’s net population growthand is now home to more than 530,000 people. As its population grows, Dane County’s voting power also growing. Michael Sears / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel”
Energizing, registering, and “getting out the vote” are critically important. The “will of the real majority” across the country is what the GOP really fears! And, that’s what didn’t prevail in 2016! That’s why the GOP is so dedicated to voter suppression and gerrymandering! And skewing the census data against ethnic minorities and Democrat-leaning jurisdictions is high on the Trump/Sessions “suppression of democracy” agenda.
Here’s a sense of “deja vu.” When I was at U.W. Law School in the early 1970s, now Madison (and Dem Governor hopeful) Mayor Paul Soglin was one of my classmates. He actually sat in front of me in Environmental Law, although he seldom actually made a physical appearance. That’s probably because he was busy being the “Boy Wonder” progressive City Councilman who eventually ousted Madison’s arch-conservative GOP Mayor and became the “Boy Mayor” while Cathy and I were still living on Madison’s East Side.
After being out of office for a while, he made a “comeback” and is now Mayor of “MAD-CITY” again! Not a “Boy Wonder” any more. But, still “stirring up the pot.”
“State of the Union on Tuesday night, “one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.”
The president and his allies claim such an immigration policy would promote cohesion and unity among Americans “and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century.” Far from forward-facing, however, the president’s policies evoke the beginning of the 20th century, when war abroad and opportunity at home brought waves of immigrants to the United States, from Italians, Polish, and Russians to Chinese and Japanese. Their arrival sparked a backlash from those who feared what these newcomers might mean for white supremacy and the privileged position of white, Anglo-Saxon Americans. Those fears coalesced into a movement for “American homogeneity,” and a drive to achieve it by closing off America’s borders to all but a select group of immigrants. This culminated in 1924 with the Johnson-Reed Act, which sharply restricted immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe and all but banned it from much of Asia.
Members of the Trump administration have praised the Johnson-Reed Act for its severe restrictions on who could enter the country, and the act’s history helps illuminate what exactly Trump means when he says he wants to put “America first.”
The cohesion Trump espouses isn’t national or ideological. It is racial. The fight over immigration isn’t between two camps who value the contributions of immigrants and simply quibble over the mix and composition of entrants to the United States. It is between a camp that values immigrants and seeks to protect the broader American tradition of inclusion, and one that rejects this openness in favor of a darker legacy of exclusion. And in the current moment, it is the restrictionists who are the loudest and most influential voices, and their concerns are driving the terms of the debate.
At the heart of the nativist idea is a fear of foreign influence, that some force originating abroad threatens to undermine the bonds that hold America together. What critics condemned as “Know Nothing-ism” in the 19th century, adherents called Americanism. “The grand work of the American party,” said one nativist journal in 1855, “is the principle of nationality … we must do something to protect and vindicate it. If we do not, it will be destroyed.”
In the first decades of the 20th century, the defense of “the principle of nationality” took several forms. At the level of mass politics, it meant a retooled and reinvigorated Ku Klux Klan with a membership in the millions, whose new incarnation was as committed to anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, and anti-Semitic politics as it was to its traditional anti-black racism. In Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, historian Nancy MacLean notes how Georgia Klan leader William Joseph Simmons warned his followers that they were, in his words, “being crowded out by a “mongrel population … organized into Ghettos and Communistic groups … and uplifting a red flag as their insignia of war.” Likewise, Klan leaders and publications blasted Catholic immigrants as “European riff-raff” and “slaves of ignorance and vice” who threatened to degrade the country at the same time that they allegedly undermined native-born white workers. When, in 1923 and 1924, Congress was debating the Johnson-Reed Act, the Klan organized a letter-writing campaign to help secure its passage, turning its rhetoric into political action.
At the elite level, it meant the growth of an intellectual case for nativism, one built on a foundation of eugenics and “race science.” Prominent scholars like Madison Grant (The Passing of the Great Race) and Lothrop Stoddard (The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy) penned books and delivered lectures across the country, warning of a world in which “Nordic superiority” was supplanted by those of so-called inferior stock. “What is the greatest danger which threatens the American republic today?” asked eugenicist Henry Fairfield Osborn in the preface to Grant’s book. “I would certainly reply: The gradual dying out among our people of those hereditary traits through which the principles of our religious, political and social foundations were laid down and their insidious replacement by traits of less noble character.” The aim of the nativists was to preserve those traits and admit for entry only those immigrants who could fully and easily assimilate into them.
. . . .
It is true that there are some more moderate restrictionists in the mix, for whom the drive to reduce legal immigration is driven by concern and prudence—concern over immigration’s impact on wage and employment, especially among the country’s working-class citizens, and prudence regarding our ability to assimilate and absorb new arrivals.
The facts do not support these misgivings. Low-skilled immigration does more to bolster prospects for working-class Americans—providing complementary employment to construction and farm labor—than it does to lower wages. Likewise, immigrants to the United States have shown a remarkable capacity for assimilation, quickly integrating themselves into the fabric of American life by building homes, businesses, and families. To the extent that native-born workers need protection, it’s best provided by stronger unions and more generous support from the government.
But those moderate voices aren’t setting the agenda. Instead, it’s the hardliners who have used their initiative to inject nativism into mainstream politics and channel, in attenuated form, the attitudes that produced the 1924 law. President Trump, for example, ties Hispanic immigrants to crime and disorder, blaming their presence for gang violence. He attributes terror attacks committed by Muslim immigrants to the “visa lottery and chain migration” that supposedly allows them unfettered access to American targets. And in a recent meeting with Democratic and Republican lawmakers, Trump disparaged Haiti and various African nations as “shitholes” (or “shithouses”) whose immigrants should be turned away from the country in favor of those from European countries, like Norway. It’s unclear if Trump is aware of Rep. Albert Johnson, who spearheaded the 1924 immigration law. But in his racial ranking of immigrants, the president echoed the congressman’s sentiments. “The day of unalloyed welcome to all peoples, the day of indiscriminate acceptance of all races, has definitely ended,” proclaimed Johnson on the passage of the bill that bore his name.
The president isn’t alone in his views. Before joining the Trump administration, former White House adviser Stephen Bannon openly opposed nonwhite immigration on the grounds that it threatened the integrity of Western nations. And while Bannon has been exiled from Trump’s orbit, that legacy lives on. Stephen Miller, who is now the driving force behind immigration policy in the Trump administration, is a notorious hardliner who has echoed Bannon’s views, bemoaning the number of foreign-born people in the United States.
Miller is the former communications director for and protégé of Jeff Sessions, who as Alabama’s senator praised the Johnson-Reed Act and its restrictions on foreign-born Americans. “When the numbers reached about this high in 1924, the president and Congress changed the policy, and it slowed down immigration significantly,” Sessions said in a 2015 interview with Bannon. “We then assimilated through the 1965 and created really the solid middle class of America, with assimilated immigrants, and it was good for America.”
As attorney general, Sessions has leaned in to these views. “What good does it do to bring in somebody who’s illiterate in their own country, has no skills, and is going to struggle in our country and not be successful?” said Sessions during a recent interview on Fox News. “That is not what a good nation should do, and we need to get away from it.” Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a staunch defender of Trump, is especially blunt in his defense of hardline immigration policies. “Assimilation, not diversity, is our American strength,” he said on Twitter last year.
Assimilation in those middle decades of the 20th century was built, to a considerable extent, on racial exclusion. It was assimilation into whiteness, one which bolstered and preserved the racial status quo. There’s no return to the America of that era, but one could slow the nation’s demographic transition. The White House proposals for immigration reform seem designed to do just that. According to an analysis from the Cato Institute, President Trump’s framework for immigration would slash entries by 44 percent, excluding almost 22 million people from the United States over the next 50 years. And in an analysis tied to the “Securing America’s Future Act”—a House-produced bill which hews closely to what the president wants—the Center for Global Development finds that white immigrants would be twice as likely to attain entry into the United States than black and Hispanic ones, while a majority of Muslim and Catholic immigrants would be barred from the country. Couple these measures with voter suppression, a biased census, apportionment by citizenship, extreme gerrymandering, and the existing dominance of rural counties in national politics, and you can essentially rig the system for the preservation of white racial hegemony.
Immigration policy is inextricably tied to our nation’s self-identity. What we choose to do reflects the traditions we seek to uphold. In the 1920s, most Americans wanted a more homogenous country, and they chose accordingly. Forty years later, in the midst of the civil rights revolution and a powerful ethos of inclusion, Americans reversed course, opening our borders to millions of people from across the globe. In this moment, we have two options. We can once again take the path that wants to keep “America for Americans,” and which inevitably casts American-ness in ways circumscribed by race, origin, and religion. Or we could try to realize our cosmopolitan faith, that tradition of universalism which elevates the egalitarian ideals of the Founding, and which seeks to define our diversity of origins as a powerful strength, not a weakness to overcome.
Jamelle Bouie is Slate’s chief political correspondent.”
Read the complete article, with more historical references to the racist historical basis for today’s GOP restrictionist policies, at the link.
Actually, “Gonzo Apocalypto,” most of those Latino, African, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern immigrants that you look down upon and disrespect aren’t illiterate in their own countries. And, they probably speak and understand English better than you do their native languages.
While you, Gonzo, have spent most of your adult life on the “public dole,” trying to turn back the clock and, as far as I can see, doing things of questionable overall value to society, immigrants have been working hard at critical jobs, at all levels of our society, that you and your White Nationalist buddies couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to do.Hard-working immigrants, not your “White Nationalist Myth,” have advanced America in the latter half of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st Century. Immigrants will continue to make America stong, prosperous, and great, if you and your White Nationalist restrictionist cronies would only get out of the way of progress!
“We can once again take the path that wants to keep “America for Americans,” and which inevitably casts American-ness in ways circumscribed by race, origin, and religion. Or we could try to realize our cosmopolitan faith, that tradition of universalism which elevates the egalitarian ideals of the Founding, and which seeks to define our diversity of origins as a powerful strength, not a weakness to overcome.”
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.”
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.”
You can can read the complete versions of both op-eds, which I highly recommend, at the above links.
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!
“Message to Republicans: You can be pro-growth. You can be anti-immigration. But, honestly, you can’t be both.
Now, within the immigration debate, there are a lot of questions with no obvious right answers.
What’s the right balance of immigrants admitted for their skills and those allowed in because they have relatives here?
The big stories and commentary shaping the day.
How much effort should be devoted to tracking down the undocumented, and how much to punishing companies that hire them?
What should we do about the millions of immigrants who came here illegally a decade or more ago and have become established members of their communities?
And — what is the right number of legal immigrants every year from now on?
Big, complicated questions — which is why Congress shouldn’t try to solve them all between now and Feb. 8, its self-imposed deadline for resolving the issue of the “dreamers.” In the few days that remain, the best it could do would be to, well, resolve the issue of the dreamers — the undocumented immigrants who were brought here as young children through no fault of their own, who obey the law and who go to school or work or serve in the military.
They are American in all but legal status. Give them a path to citizenship, as President Trump has proposed. Give Trump the money for his wall (until he gets that check from Mexico). Punt on the big, complicated questions, something Congress certainly knows how to do. Everyone declares victory, and the government doesn’t shut down.
Of course, that would leave us still facing the big questions. Ideally, Congress would schedule a serious debate on them for the spring. Ideally, it would be conducted in a constructive spirit — acknowledging, for example, that reasonable people can disagree on skills vs. family.
But ideally, also, it would also be conducted with an understanding that those who favor a drastic, absolute drop in the level of immigration, as many Republicans do, would be making a choice about America’s future.
They would be turning us into Japan.
Now, to be clear, Japan is a wondrous nation, with an ancient, complex culture, welcoming people, innovative industry — a great deal to teach the world.
But Japan also is a country that admits few immigrants — and, as a result, it is an aging, shrinking nation. By 2030, more than half the country will be over age 50. By 2050 there will be more than three times as many old people (65 and over) as children (14 and under). Already, deaths substantially outnumber births. Its population of 127 million is forecast to shrink by a third over the next half-century.
Japan is a pioneer and an extreme version of where much of the First World is headed as longevity increases and fertility declines. The likely consequences are slower economic growth, reduced innovation, labor shortages and huge pressure on pensions. If you think our entitlement politics are fraught, think about this: In Japan in 2050, the old-age dependency ratio — the number of people 65 and over as a percentage of the number who are 15 to 64 — is projected to be 71.2 percent.
The comparable figure for the United States is 36.4 percent, up from 25.7 percent in 2020. Still high, but if it proves manageable, we will have immigration to thank. America still attracts dynamic, hard-working people from around the world, and they and their offspring help keep our population and our economy growing, as recent Pew Research Center and International Monetary Fund papers explain.
The wave of immigration over the past half-century also has changed the face of the nation, reducing the share of the white population from what it would have been and increasing the share of Asians and Hispanics. It’s not surprising that some people find this disorienting.
But as so often with such debates, perceptions lag reality. Nearly half (48 percent) of immigrants these days have college degrees, as a fact sheet from the Migration Policy Institute last year showed. A quarter of technology company start-ups between 2008 and 2012 included at least one foreign-born founder. As incomes and education levels rise around the world, in other words, the skills mix of U.S. immigration is already changing, without any changes in our laws.
Here’s the bottom line: I think we should remain open to immigrants because it’s part of who we are as a nation, because every generation of newcomers — even, or maybe especially, the ones who come with nothing but moxie and a tolerance for risk — has enriched and improved us.
But you don’t have to buy into any of that Statue of Liberty stuff to favor immigration, because naked self-interest leads to the very same conclusion. A vote to choke off immigration is a vote for stagnation and decline.”
Hiatt clearly “gets it!”
But, maybe the GOP restrictionists do too. Their opposition to legal immigration is grounded in racism, White Nationalism, and xenophobia — none of which have anything to do with rationality, facts, the common good, or even “enlightened self-interest.”
Therefore, neither an appeal to “who we are as a nation” nor “naked self-interest” is likely to change their highly emotional, but essentially irrational anti-immigrant views.
“At his inauguration, President Trump promised to renew the unity of the American people, claiming that “through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.” Then, Trump seemed intent on creating a reborn civic and social consciousness, and on empowering ordinary people against big government and big money.
And yet, Trump’s administration has ushered in a virulently antisocial politics that dissolves the most basic bonds and leaves individuals powerless against both market and state. Trump, like many populists of the right, gained a foothold by promising that a resurgent nationalism could make people feel cohesive, trusting and strong again. But like his right-leaning populist predecessors, he has offered only the imaginary bonds of nationalism — the illusion of fellow-feeling and homogeneity — even as his policies destroy the real and foundational bonds of family and community in the arenas of health care, immigration, labor and more.
. . . . In its amicus brief in support of unions, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops points out that the destruction of unions based on the loose interpretation of money as speech will render workers weaker than ever before. “Ironically then,” the bishops observe, “a misguided effort to protect one individual from government coercion would leave only individuals to stand against government (or economic) coercion.”
If only that world were really so far away. In reality, it is already here. What unites workfare, the annihilation of DACA and the war on unions is a totalizing individualism — the belief that people are essentially isolated individuals. That we are alone before we are together. That we are more and not less ourselves in total isolation. From that view flow policies that disregard or deny that people are, in fact, embedded in families, communities and industries, and that their bonds and obligations are powerful and ought to be respected and protected by the state. No politics issuing from that view can ever cultivate unity.
What Trump offered as an answer to the aching aloneness of Americans was nationalism, the exchange of an imagined community for actual ones, the promise of a mystic bond with people you’ll never meet even while the ones you know and love are deported, abandoned, dying. It was supposed to bring us together, supposed to make us strong. But his policies stand to leave us more alone than we’ve ever been, and in our solitude, weak.
Read the rest of Elizabeth’s op-ed at the link.
First, it was Mexicans, Muslims, and undocumented workers. Then came Legal Immigrants, Latinos, African-Americans, LGBTQ individuals, demonstrators, the sick, the poor, women seeking to exercise their constitutional right to abortion, unionists, Liberals, and Democrats. Don’t see YOUR GROUP on the “hit list.” Just wait. It keeps expanding, Folks like Trump and his White Nationalist buddies can’t live without an “enemy of the day” to rally their “base.”
When the GOP White Nationalists decide that YOU no longer fit their image of America, who will be left to stand up for YOUR rights. Harm to the most vulnerable members of our community, and failure to stand up for them, harms and ultimately diminishes the humanity of all of us. And, that’s how free societies are “deconstructed and destroyed.” Stand up for everyone’s rights! Just say no to Trump and his White Nationalist Cabal!
“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.
Famous Chef Jose Andres writes in the Washington Post:
“Washington is the kind of city where you can learn a lot by listening to the conversations over dinner. At my restaurants, I have been lucky to join the conversation with presidents and first ladies, senators and ambassadors.
But right now, you can hear the most important conversations if you walk past the tables out front and into my kitchens. There — amid the din of knives chopping, plates clattering and chefs calling out a staccato stream of food orders — you’ll hear from people who look and sound a lot like America. English predominates, but you’ll also catch Haitian Creole, French and Spanish. Natural-born citizens and naturalized citizens like me work alongside those on temporary visas. I believe that all these voices make us stronger, more creative and courageous, less complacent and fearful.
Manuel is one of those people in the kitchen who prepare food for the powerful. (I am using only his first name here, to protect him from the threats many immigrants are now facing.) He was born in El Salvador, in a small town called Santa Rosa de Lima. He came to the United States in 1997 and, after a massive earthquake in his native country, was granted temporary protected status (TPS) in 2001. When immigration officials asked how he came into the United States, he didn’t lie about his walk across the border. “Matamoros,” he said.
It was also in 2001 that Manuel started as a cook at my Spanish restaurant, Jaleo. I have come to know him as someone who works hard, pays his taxes and is raising his children — a son with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and two American-born children — to respect the country that gave him so much. But now, his family’s future is in doubt. “I just want to work to be able to send my two American-born children to university; I want them to have a better life than mine,” he told me.
The Trump administration’s decision to revoke protective status for Salvadorans (affecting 200,000 immigrants living in the United States, including 32,000 in the Washington area), Haitians (59,000 immigrants) and possibly Hondurans (86,000 immigrants) has thrown families across the country into chaos. This policy shift also has the potential to devastate my industry and hurt the overall economy.
Congress created TPS in 1990 to provide legal status to foreigners who could not safely return home because of war, natural disasters or other extreme conditions. Republican and Democratic administrations alike have extended those protections, six to 18 months at a time, recognizing that conditions remain dangerous. El Salvador, for example, is in such a state of turmoil that the State Department advisesU.S. citizens to reconsider traveling there. An influx of tens of thousands of returning citizens would only make things worse.
In the meantime, people like Manuel have built lives in the United States, buying homes (nearly a third have mortgages) and becoming active in their communities. Like Manuel, many TPS recipients are married and have children who are U.S. citizens — immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras are raising about 273,200 U.S.-born children, according to the Center for American Progress.
Understandably, few parents would want to uproot their spouses and children to travel to a country with little opportunity and widespread violence. So, instead, these individuals face an agonizing choice: to leave without their families, or to remain in the United States without the legal means to work and in constant fear of deportation. No doubt, many will disappear from their jobs, obtain fake documents and become ghosts in a country where they used to belong.
As Americans, we also have much to lose if hundreds of thousands of industrious migrants are expelled. The Center for American Progress estimates that removing TPS workers from the economy would generate a $164 billion hole in gross domestic product over the next decade.
Because restaurants are among the main employers of these immigrants (along with construction companies, landscape businesses and child-care services), the restaurant industry stands to be particularly hard hit. Immigrants, including Salvadorans and other Central Americans, make up more than half of the staff at my restaurants, and we simply could not run our businesses without them. With national unemployment at 4 percent, there aren’t enough U.S.-born workers to take their places — or cover the employment needs of a growing economy.
Let me be frank: The administration is throwing families and communities into crisis for no good reason. This is not what people of faith do. It’s not what pragmatic people do. It’s not what America was built on.
I came to the United States from Spain in 1991 with an E-2 visa and big ambitions. I wanted to introduce America to the food of my heritage while at the same time reimagining it. I wanted to become a chef and start my own restaurant.
Despite the many hardships of being a new immigrant, life was relatively easy for me — in no small part because of my fair skin and blue eyes. America isn’t the only place where this happens; it is a human sickness. We have a hard time welcoming those who are different from us.
With the help of many friends and mentors, I worked hard to realize my ambitions. And I made sure to bring as many people as I could along with me. That is the American Dream: to live your own dream while helping others achieve theirs.
As an employer and friend of Salvadorans, Haitians and incredible people of many other nationalities, I hope Congress can work with the administration to change course on immigration policy.
TPS recipients, who have contributed for so long to the U.S. economy and our communities, should be able to apply for green cards and start on the path to citizenship. And DACA recipients, like Manuel’s son, should be able to apply for permanent status so they can truly belong to the country they have long thought of as their own.
Let’s also create a revolving-door visa, allowing people from Mexico, El Salvador and other countries to work for a few months and then return home, bringing their earnings back with them. Revolving-door visas would help the U.S. economy continue to grow and help grow the economies of our allies, too.
President Trump knows full well the value of temporary visas. From his family’s winery in Virginia to his construction projects in New York, he has hired many foreign workers to build his businesses.
President Trump, if you are reading this: Back in 2016 you told me in a phone conversation that you wanted to hear more about my views on immigration. We haven’t spoken in a while. So let me say this here: Walls will not make America safer or greater. But the money our immigrants send back home most certainly does, because economic stability contributes to political stability and international security. Allowing immigrants to work without fear of deportation or exploitation would help, too, because it would sustain American businesses and support American families. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the American way to transform what might seem a problem into an opportunity.”
Jose Andres doesn’t just talk and write; he acts! During the recent Puerto Rico disaster, while the Trump Administration was dithering and pointing fingers, Andres was “on the ground” serving free meals to those who needed them. Seems like we have the “wrong kind of businessman” in the White House! One who is more concerned about himself than he is about others and the country.
“All he had were his words and the power of truth,” Sessions said. “ . . . His message, his life and his death changed hearts and minds. Those changed souls then changed the laws of this land.”
But civil rights leaders criticized Sessions’s remarks, made at a time, they said, when the Justice Department is rolling back efforts to promote civil and voting rights.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions called Tuesday for Justice Department employees to “remember, celebrate and act” in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
“It is beyond ironic for Jeff Sessions to celebrate the architecture of civil rights protections inspired by Dr. King and other leaders as he works to tear down these very protections,” said Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Barack Obama and now president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
“Make no mistake,” Gupta said. “If Dr. King were alive today, he would be protesting outside of Jeff Sessions’s office.”
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said that in the past year, the Justice Department under Sessions has taken action to “obstruct and reverse civil rights enforcement.”
She and others point to a new policy that calls for federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges even if that might mean minority defendants face stiff, mandatory-minimum penalties. Sessions has defended President Trump’s travel ban and threatened to take away funding from cities with policies he considers too lenient toward undocumented immigrants. The department’s new guidance and stances on voting rights and LGBT issues also might disenfranchise minorities and poor people, civil rights advocates say.
Justice officials say that Sessions’s actions reflect an aggressive, by-the-book interpretation of federal law and that his policies are geared toward fighting violent crime and drug trafficking.”
Read the complete article at the above link.
Absurd and insulting! Actions speak louder than words, Gonzo! Every day that you spend in office mocks our Constitution, the rule of law, human decency, and the legacy of MLK and others who fought for racial and social equality and social justice under the law.
I have no doubt that if Dr. King were alive today, he and his followers would be on your and Trump’s “hit list.” Indeed, peacefully but forcefully standing up to and shaming tone-deaf, White Nationalist, racially challenged politicos like you, who lived in the past and inhibited America’s future with their racism, was one of the defining marks of MLK’s life!
How do things like increasing civil immigration detention, building the “New American Gulag,” stripping unaccompanied children of their rights to an Immigration Court hearing, mindlessly attacking so-called “sanctuary cities,” mocking hard-working pro bono immigration attorneys and their efforts, reducing the number of refugees, excluding Muslims, building a wall, stripping protections from Dreamers, reducing legal immigration, favoring White immigrants, and spreading false narratives about Latino migrants and crime “honor” the legacy of Dr. King?
Indeed, the “Sanctuary Cities Movement” appears to have a direct historical connection to King’s non-violent civil disobedience aimed at the enforcement of “Jim Crow” laws. Much as today, those on the “wrong side of history” wrapped themselves in hypocritical bogus “rule of law” arguments as they mocked and violated the civil rights of African Americans.
At some point, America needs and deserves a real Attorney General, one who recognizes and fights for the rights of everyone in America, including minorities, the poor, the most vulnerable, and the so-called undocumented population, who, contrary to your actions and rhetoric, are entitled to full Due Process of law under our Constitution. Imagine how a real Attorney General, one like say Vanita Gupta, might act.Now that would truly honor Dr. King’s memory.
“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.
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.