PROFESSOR ERIC S. YELLEN IN WASHPOST: TRUMP & GOP’S MOST OUTRAGEOUS WHITE NATIONALIST RACIST PROPOSAL TO DESTROY AMERICA MIGHT NOT EVEN HAVE BEEN HIS RESTRICTIONIST IMMIGRATION PLAN — DESTROYING THE CAREER CIVIL SERVICE PROMISES RETURN TO CORRUPT POLITICAL SPOILS SYSTEM WE ABANDONED NEARLY 150 YEARS AGO! — “Calls for government accountability have long merged racism and anti-government rhetoric but have traditionally stopped short of resurrecting the spoils system.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2018/02/05/the-corrupt-racist-proposal-from-the-state-of-the-union-address-that-everyone-missed/

Yellen writes:

“President Trump continued his efforts to drive the United States back to the 19th century during his State of the Union address last week.

Standing in front of a divided Congress, with possible obstruction charges looming over him and facing governance struggles produced by his ineffective leadership, the president sought to undermine a 135-year-old law protecting federal civil servants from the whims of tyrants and hacks. “I call on the Congress to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers — and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people,” he said.

While this plea sounds sensible, it actually represents a historic threat to the U.S. government and to some of its most vulnerable citizens. Recognizing that threat requires understanding two crucial and related pieces of context — first, how the law Trump seeks to dissolve came into being, and second, how the effort to undermine it fits into a larger pattern of racist ideas driving the Trump administration’s actions.

Why can’t a Cabinet secretary simply fire federal employees? Before 1883, they did just that on a regular basis. Federal employees came and went on the orders of political appointees with each electoral cycle. Every four years, federal workers sat waiting with bags packed to find out if their party would hold on to power and they onto their livelihoods.

Claiming these spoils of victory enabled a president and his Cabinet secretaries to hand out high-paying, desirable jobs to political supporters. Abraham Lincoln famously — or infamously — cleaned house in 1861 to reward his new political party whose members had not tasted federal salaries since the collapse of the Whig party a decade earlier.

But in the 1870s, consistency and competence in the federal bureaucracy became more important as the nation’s political and commercial life grew more complex. Americans became increasingly aware of political corruption (see: the Grant administration) and its drag on government and commercial efficiency. When, in July 1881, President James A. Garfield was assassinated by disgruntled office seeker Charles Guiteau, the push for reform gained enough momentum to force Congress to rein in the patronage system.

The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 cost its namesake, Sen. George H. Pendleton (Ohio), his job in a political backlash against the new anti-spoils system. Nevertheless, the Pendleton Act was a major step forward for good government, and over the next quarter-century the majority of ordinary and largely essential civil service positions became disconnected from political machinations, filled instead through a standard set of hiring practices and exams, and protected from arbitrary firing.

The system was never perfect, and political affiliation has continued to matter for employment prospects in Washington right up through the present. Still, today the U.S. government does have something resembling what political scientists call an “autonomous” civil service — that is, a federal bureaucracy sheltered from political winds.

The result is a more stable and experienced government workforce, a Congress that gets accurate reports from its research bureaus and federal departments that provide a certain level of regulatory consistency for citizens and businesses at home and around the world.

Trump’s upending of decades of civil service protections is not about accountability. Such changes would clearly risk a return to more corrupt and less competent government. Even worse, Trump’s proposal and the rhetoric surrounding it also threaten to undermine a second set of crucial reforms that occurred thanks to the civil rights movement.

During the 1960s, the civil rights movement pushed the government to guarantee racial equality in federal employment. This effort was more successful than attempts to transform the private workforce, largely because of federal training programs, standardized hiring procedures and fixed pay scales that weeded out bias, aggressive anti-discrimination measures and historic mentorship and seniority lines dating to the Johnson administration. Today, African Americans are 30 percent more likely to work in civil service than white Americans. Black men and women, just 13 percent of the U.S. population and with an unemployment rate double that of white Americans, make up about 18 percent of the federal workforce.

Over the past 30 years, conservative valorization of “market solutions” has been accompanied by deeply racialized notions of government inefficiency that aims to undermine these civil rights achievements by invoking the image of a wasteful, corrupt public workforce — one viewed by many Americans as dominated by African Americans. Commentator Pat Buchanan, for example, claimed that federal offices under the Obama administration operated according to a “racial spoils system.” For Buchanan and many others, the drive for a leaner government merges with a racist suspicion of black workers — what they see as the most rotten part of the bureaucracy.

Moreover, the president’s attack on the stability of government jobs comes at a rough time for public servants, who have been battered by austerity measures that have made jobs scarcer.

These measures have also deepened the racial disparity in the public workforce, which, along with the growing racial wealth gap that deprives nonwhite Americans of stability and mobility, transforms Trump’s assault on the Pendleton Act from merely historically ignorant and potentially corrupt into something more. It becomes a nod to the same racist worldview that produces the profound suspicion of people of color that has defined much of Trump’s political life.

Continuous conflation of blackness and wastefulness in American governance, a conflation pushed by writers and politicians like Buchanan and Trump, marks African Americans as incapable of earning “the public’s trust” through good governance, a stain that persists into today’s politics, from assumptions of black voting malfeasance to questions about President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

And that returns us to Trump’s rise to the presidency. Calls for government accountability have long merged racism and anti-government rhetoric but have traditionally stopped short of resurrecting the spoils system. Then again, politicians have traditionally veiled their positions in generous and moderately realistic visions of humanity to maintain moral ground and the capacity to govern. In his latest call for the gutting of civil service reforms, Trump seems hellbent on surrendering both.

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

As I have mentioned several times before, my more than four decades of working in the field of immigration, and my 21 years of judging individual asylum cases have given me an outstanding chance to study virtually all of the current political and government systems in the world.

The difference between the U.S. and the corrupt states that send us refugees is not necessarily the words of our Constitution. Almost all countries have snazzy sounding constitutions that aren’t worth the paper on which they are written.

The main difference is that the U.S. has a basically honest, dedicated, professional, largely apolitical Career Civil Service that works hard to make sure that the words of our Constitution are translated into actions. Most refugee sending countries have a Trump-like “spoils system” where notwithstanding the words of the constitution and laws, the government is corrupt and run primarily for the benefit of the dictator and his relatives and friends or for the ruling class and their cronies.

When the government changes (usually, although not always, violently) the “new” group, even if it once had a “reform platform,” merely views it as “their turn” to loot and pillage the country and the common people for their own benefit and that of their supporters, be it tribe, ethnic group, or party.

The Trump Administration and the “modern GOP” already have all of the earmarks of a kleptocracy. Letting them destroy our Career Civil Service, the “Jewel in the Crown” of American democracy, would lead to the end of our nation as we have known it.

PWS

02-05-18

THE SPLC ANALYZES TRUMP’S CONTORTED AND CONTRIVED MESSAGE OF HATE, INTOLERANCE, & DIVISION!

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FIGHTING HATE // TEACHING TOLERANCE // SEEKING JUSTICE

FEBRUARY 3, 2018

“In his State of the Union address this week, President Trump congratulated his administration for having “taken historic actions to protect religious liberty.”

It certainly was historic in October when Trump became the first sitting president to give the keynote address at an annual summit hosted by an anti-LGBT hate group, the Family Research Council.

And it was historic when his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, issued religious freedom guidance eroding protections for LGBT people after he consulted with another anti-LGBT hate group, the Alliance Defending Freedom.

But it was an anti-immigrant hate group, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), whose talking points laced the State of the Union address this week.

CIS presents itself as an independent think tank, but it began as a project of the anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform and was founded by white nationalist John Tanton.

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.

The Editors

P.S. Here are some other pieces we think are valuable this week:

What kids are really learning about slavery by Melinda Anderson for The Atlantic

How the far right has perfected the art of deniable racism by Gary Younge for The Guardian

Indian slavery once thrived in New Mexico. Latinos are finding family ties to it by Simon Romero for The New York Times

The terrifying rise of alt-right fight clubs by Bryan Schatz for Mother Jones

View this email in your browser.”

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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!

PWS

02-03-18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHICH MAN IS REALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR AMERICA’S STRONG ECONOMY, OBAMA OR TRUMP? – WELL, ACTUALLY, THE “MAN” MOST RESPONSIBLE IS A WOMAN: JANET YELLEN! — Her “Reward?” – To Be Summarily Dismissed By A Boorish President Without Even a Thank You! – And Then The “Con-Man-In-Chief” Stole Credit For Her Success!

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/01/janet-yellen-praise-economy-donald-trump

Jill Abramson reports for The Guardian:

The strength of the economy was the keystone of President Trump’s State of the Union speech. There was no need to exaggerate how good things are – low inflation, lower unemployment, soaring stock market. Nonetheless, as usual, he had to inflate his boastful claims with hot air.

There were so many encomiums for various Americans in the president’s speech that the personal, anecdotal stories blurred into each other. But there was no word of thanks for the person most responsible for the strong economic winds keeping the Trump administration afloat.

Janet Yellen, perhaps the most successful Federal Reserve chair in modern history and the first woman to hold the job, was completely unrecognized. President Trump gave her the boot, making her the first Fed leader not to be renominated for a second term. All of her predecessors were renominated by presidents of the opposite party. But not Yellen, whom President Barack Obama appointed in 2014 and whose last day on the job is 3 February.

Yellen was denounced by some of the Republican lawmakers who clapped thunderously as the president bragged about the 2.4m jobs created during the first year of his presidency. Conservatives in the Congress lambasted Yellen in her early days for her singular focus on job creation and her tenacious loyalty to the bond-buying program known as quantitative easing.

As a member of the Fed board of governors, Powell had supported virtually all of Yellen’s key decisions. It’s telling that the president had to embroider the already impressive economic gains the country had enjoyed during his first year in office.

“Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone,” he boasted. But according to Pro Publica, only 206,000 real jobs have actually been created so far and only 63,000 of those can be attributed to President Trump.

As for manufacturing jobs, the president began his tenure by anointing himself as the savior of a Carrier plant in Indianapolis, Indiana. But only two weeks ago, 200 workers at the plant lost their jobs. And it took $7m in tax breaks and other goodies just to get Carrier to back off from its plan to move to Mexico.

The New Yorker published the anguished stories of some of those being laid off earlier this month, just as President Trump began drafting his speech. The magazine gathered with a group of about-to-be former Carrier employees at Sully’s, a local bar. They expressed their sense of having been had by Trump.

Among those who spoke at the gathering was Chuck Jones, the former president of United Steel Workers Local 1999, in Indianapolis, who disputed Trump’s initial claims about the Carrier deal and was attacked by Trump on Twitter as a result. “Trump is a liar and an idiot,” Jones told the crowd, adding, “He’s a con man, pure and simple, who sold us a bag of shit.”

The 2.4m new jobs figure Trump trumpeted for 2017 is accurate. But it’s also less than the 2.7m jobs created during President Obama’s last year in office. The president’s “Happy Days Are Here Again” economic picture hinges on what he described in his address as “the biggest tax cuts and reform in history”.

Actually, the Trump tax cuts are only the 12th largest in history. Ronald Reagan’s 1981 rate cuts were the largest. Everyone knows that the tax bill that was the president’s signature achievement in 2017 is a wet kiss to the billionaire class and robs the poor and many members of the middle class. Nonetheless, Trump and the Republican party believe the tax cuts may be the only thing standing between them and Armageddon in the 2018 elections.

The Koch Brothers, among the chief beneficiaries of the bill, just announced their intention of asking their donor network to spend $400m to beat back an expected Democratic wave in congressional races. They more or less sat out those races in 2016 and were lukewarm to Trump. With the tax bill gift, they are lukewarm no more.

Trump also repeated the most cynical boast of all – that he’s responsible for improving the economic standing of black Americans. He was stung by criticisms from Jay-Z and tweeted: “Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!”

Black unemployment has been declining steadily for the past seven years. It is now at its lowest rate – below 7%, but it is still more about double the 3.7% rate for white Americans, hardly something to brag about.

Before the speech, pundits debated whether the president would be “Twitter Trump” or “Teleprompter Trump” for his State of the Union. The angry, dark president on view a year ago on Inauguration Day was replaced by the calm reader. Also on display, to good reviews, in Davos.

But substance, not presentation, is what’s important. And it was really the same Donald Trump standing in the well of the House of Representatives, the man who regularly does set a record: for untruths uttered by an American president.

  • Jill Abramson is a Guardian columnist”

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

You can be pretty sure that when the inevitable financial crisis comes, both Trump and “The Munchkin” will be clueless about what to do. After all, this is a dude whose formula for dealing with his own business incompetence was “stiff the suppliers, screw the workers, and declare bankruptcy!” We all have to hope that new Fed Chief Jerome Powell turns out to be smarter and more “Yellen-like” than the clowns who ousted her.

And, of course, when the tough times come, Trumpie will blame the Democrats, “sanctuary cities,” Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mexico, Canada, California, New York, The New York Times, CNN, NBC News, or just about anybody, rather than accepting any personal responsibility. That’s just not in the Con-Man’s makeup. But, when things look good again, you can bet that The Donald will take all the credit and stiff the “real heroes” no matter who they are.

PWS

02-03-18

Michael Paarlberg @ THE GUARDIAN: HOW WACKO & COUNTERPRODUCTIVE IS TRUMP/SESSIONS “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT? — Who Screws Their Friends & Productive Residents While Empowering Multinational Gangs? — “[MS-13] can’t really be described accurately as a single gang but is rather a network of gangs with little centralized authority and a franchised name, whose street value only increases with each press conference by Trump and Sessions. . . . There aren’t many beneficiaries of Trump’s immigration policy, but there’s at least one: MS-13 couldn’t have asked for a better president than Trump.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/02/trump-immigration-bogeymen-ms-13-chain-migration?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Paarlberg writes:

“In 1968, a British Conservative politician, Enoch Powell, made what became known as his “Rivers of Blood” speech. In it, he sounded an alarm about what he imagined to be an unchecked immigrant invasion of the United Kingdom, at a time when the country’s immigrant population had only grown from 5 to 6% in the previous decade.

Crime was low, less than one homicide per 100,000 residents, a tenth the rate of the US. Quoting a constituent, he foresaw the day when “the black man will have the whip hand over the white man”. In subsequent decades, immigration slowly inched upwards, but the scenario Powell envisioned failed to materialize.

Half a century later, we Americans live in a Powellesque moment in which politicians’ hysterical rhetoric surrounding immigration is completely at odds with the facts. President Trump, giving his own Rivers of Blood speech on Tuesday, painted a grim picture of a wave of hardened criminal immigrants, exploiting diversity visas and “chain migration”, running around the country murdering people left and right.

In reality, illegal immigration to the US is down, not up. Trump would like to take credit for this with his tough talk about walls, rapists, and “bad hombres” from Mexico, but the number of unauthorized immigrants in the country has been falling for the past decade, due not to xenophobic bluster but the Great Recession.

Net migration from Mexico is currently negative: more Mexicans are leaving the US than coming in, and have been doing so since the end of the Bush administration. In coming decades, most new immigrants to the US will not be from Latin America at all, but from China and India.

Violent crime, too, is down, way down: FBI statistics show violent crimes are just half of what they were in the early 90s. Trump would have you believe that immigrants are responsible for “tremendous amounts of crime”, but research shows immigrants commit less crime than native-born Americans.

In fact, it started in Los Angeles in the 1980s, was originally made up of adolescent stoners who listened to heavy metal, and only grew into a much larger and more vicious, officially designated “transnational gang” thanks to mass criminal deportations by the Clinton administration to poor countries that were ill-equipped to deal with the influx.

It can’t really be described accurately as a single gang but is rather a network of gangs with little centralized authority and a franchised name, whose street value only increases with each press conference by Trump and Sessions. And for all the hype, MS-13 is a relatively small player here. Its estimated US membership has remained constant for the past decade at around 10,000, or less than 1% of the 1.4 million gang members in the US: far smaller than the Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings, or Aryan Brotherhood.

Even the face tattoo image is out of date; MS cliques have been discouraging members from getting them after belatedly realizing it makes them easy to identify by police.

As for the origins of this nonexistent immigrant crime wave, Trump blames “chain migration”, the more menacing nativist buzzword for family reunification, the principle on which our immigration laws are founded.

“Chain migration” is actually a conservative idea: the Immigration and Nationality Act, which was passed in 1965, was sold to immigration restrictionists as a law which would preserve mostly white immigration while doing away with the overtly racist, eugenics-inspired quota laws it replaced. Because by 1965, most immigrants to the US were from Europe, it was assumed that giving preference to family members of current immigrants would restrict immigration from other parts of the world.

After all, it is a policy which upholds the family as a unit. Families, conservatives argued, were preferable to single men. They encourage stable employment, homeownership, participation in the community, and provide a source of private, non-state welfare for needy relatives. Families are what keeps people out of trouble, the kind Trump imagines immigrants are getting into, and which may actually happen if he succeeds in taking away this base of support.

It wouldn’t be the first time US immigration policy had the opposite of its intended effect, from Johnson’s 1965 immigration law to Clinton’s criminal deportations. Similarly, Trump’s recent decision to revoke TPS protection for over 200,000 legal immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador will only increase the number of unauthorized immigrants and lead to more unauthorized immigration in the future: mass deportations mean a loss of cash remittances from those immigrants to countries whose economies are heavily dependent on them, which will only worsen unemployment and send more migrants north.

Breaking up families also creates the conditions of insecurity under which predatory gangs thrive. In Central America, deportations from the US give gangs a new vulnerable population to recruit from. In the US, the loss of family networks and raids which push migrants into the shadows give them a new vulnerable population to extort. There aren’t many beneficiaries of Trump’s immigration policy, but there’s at least one: MS-13 couldn’t have asked for a better president than Trump.”

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

Pretty much what I’ve been saying all along! With their toxic mixture of ignorance, arrogance, incompetence, bias, White Nationalism, and racism, Trump, Sessions, Miller, and their sycophantic followers have been destroying American communities, weakening and dissolving American society, and empowering our enemies, foreign and domestic! Other than that, they’re a great bunch of guys.

The only folks happier than MS-13 about the Trump/Sessions regime and their “sell-out” of America and American values are Vladi Putin and his Oligarchs.

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.”

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

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

NOLAN RAPPAPORT @ THE HILL: PERHAPS, THE PARTIES NEED TO COME UP WITH A NEW SYSTEM THAT COMBINES “FAMILY REUNIFICATION” WITH “MERIT-BASED” FACTORS!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/371380-if-dreamers-get-a-deal-it-will-be-because-of-trump-not-schumer

Family Pictures

Nolan writes:

“Senator Chuck Schumer (R-N.Y.) has dismissed the White House’s new Framework on Immigration Reform & Border security as a “wish list” for hard-liners. According to Schumer, Trump is using protection for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) participants as “a tool to tear apart our legal immigration system and adopt the wish list that anti-immigration hardliners have advocated for years.”

But Schumer’s own DACA proposal, which he put together as part of the Gang of Six, was just as unacceptable to Trump as Trump’s current proposal is to Schumer.

Schumer rejected Trump’s previous proposal, which was to establish a program for the 690,000 DACA participants that would continue their temporary legal status, and proposed a legalization program for a couple of million Dreamers. Moreover, he offered Trump just $1.591 billion for building a wall, which is only a small fraction of the amount he needs; and did not meaningfully address his chain migration concerns.That was not the first time Schumer has advocated a position he knew would be rejected. Four years ago, he moved his immigration reform bill, S.744, through the Senate despite the fact that it was opposed by 70 percent of the Senate Republicans.  It was dead on arrival in the Republican controlled House.

. . . .

This does not have to be an “either or” situation. The visas currently given to extended family members could be transitioned to a merit-based point system that would give extra credit for family ties to a citizen or LPR. Under such a system, aliens who have family ties would be chosen ahead of aliens with similar qualifications who do not have family ties.”

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Go on over to The Hill at the above link to read Nolan’s complete analysis!

Seems like an idea worth exploring, particularly since current negotiations appear to be running up against a “brick wall.” No, it won’t resolve all of the outstanding issues. But trying to work the concepts of “merit and family” into one system could be a starting point. After all, it’s hard to argue that “family” doesn’t have “merit” — both for the individuals involved and for the U.S.

PWS

01-30-18

THE HILL: NOLAN UNIMPRESSED BY “GANG OF SIX’S” DREAMER COMPROMISE EFFORT!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/369403-gang-of-six-daca-bill-is-an-exploitative-political-statement

 

Family Pictures

Nolan writes:

“. . . .

Yet no matter how Flake describes the proposal, it is not a good faith attempt to find common ground with either the majority of congressional Republicans or the president.

Five of the six senators in the Gang of Six were also in 2013’s the Gang of Eight, which showed the same disregard for majority Republican positions when they moved the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, S. 744, through the Senate.

S. 744 was bipartisan too, but it was opposed by 70 percent of the Senate Republicans. Among other things, it would have established a large legalization program without assurance that the aliens being legalized would not be replaced in 10 years by a new group of undocumented aliens.

This has been the sine qua non for Republican cooperation with a legalization program since the failed implementation of the enforcement provisions in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, (IRCA), which legalized 2.7 million aliens.

One of IRCA’s major objectives was to wipe the slate clean and start over with an effective enforcement program. But IRCA’s enforcement measures were not implemented, and by October 1996, the undocumented alien population had almost doubled.

. . . .

Trump wants a physical wall. Virtual walls rely primarily on surveillance technology, which just notifies the border patrol when aliens are making an illegal crossing. They will be in the United States before they can be apprehended, and Trump’s enforcement program suffers already from an immigration court backlog crisis.

A physical wall makes illegal crossings more difficult. While some grown men can climb over a large wall, children can’t, and the dangers involved in climbing over such a wall should deter parents from bringing their children here illegally.

If the Democrats really want to help the DACA participants, they will let Trump have his wall.”

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I probably see it more the way the Washington Post did in yesterday’s lead editorial. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ignore-the-president-vote-on-the-daca-deal/2018/01/16/55f38288-fb03-11e7-8f66-2df0b94bb98a_story.html

There apparently are enough Democratic and GOP votes to pass the “Gang of Six” compromise. Why be held hostage by GOP legislators who, while perhaps they are a majority of the GOP, are a minority of the total legislature and actually represent a minority position among Americans? Some days Trump says he’ll sign anything Congress passes; other days he doesn’t. So, give him the bill and see what happens. Seems unlikely that he will veto his own budget.

On the other hand, at this point, I’d be willing to give Trump his Wall (but not an end to “chain migration” or permanent cuts in permanent immigration) if that’s what it takes to save the Dreamers. Unlike Nolan, however, my experience tells me that “The Wall” will ultimately be an expensive failure. Whatever the technical difficulties with past “Virtual Walls” might have been, I have to believe that technology, which tends to improve over time, not physical barriers are the wave of the future.

And the real solution to individuals coming here without documents is a more robust and realistic legal immigration program that meets market demands for additional labor and also satisfies our humanitarian obligations. 

Most of the current adult so-called “undocumented” residents of the U.S. are gainfully employed in ways that actually help and support the U.S. They are a huge net “plus.” So, why would we want to go to great lengths in a futile attempt to keep folks like them from coming in to help us in the future? Doesn’t make any sense! That’s why we’re in the current situation — unrealistic laws.

The real solution is more legal immigration which would insure that those coming get properly screened and don’t have to use the services of smugglers. Then, immigration enforcement could concentrate on those seeking to come outside the system.

Leaving aside refugees, why would folks come if the job market actually gets to the point where it is saturated and can no longer expand? For the most part, they wouldn’t. But, of course, that wouldn’t satisfy the GOP White Nationalist restrictionists who are operating from a racial rather than a realistic perspective.

PWS

01-18-18

 

HOW THE WHITE NATIONALIST RESTRICTIONSTS MIS-APPROPRIATED AND MIS-CONSTRUED THE TERM “CHAIN MIGRATION” – It’s All About Race & Culture Wars, Not The Best Interests Of The US!

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/12/29/16504272/chain-migration-family-how-trump-end

Dara Lind writes for VOX:

“Over the course of President Donald Trump’s first year in office, his administration’s top immigration priority has shifted subtly. He’s talking less about deporting “bad hombres” and talking more — a lot more — about how “chain migration” is bad for the United States.

“We have to get rid of chainlike immigration, we have to get rid of the chain,” Trump told the New York Times’s Mike Schmidt in an impromptu interview at his West Palm Beach golf club in December. He followed it up, as he does, with a tweet:

“Chain migration” — which is loosely used as a synonym for all immigration to the United States that happens based on family ties (when a US citizen or, in some cases, a green card holder petitions for a relative to join them) — has become a conservative boogeyman, and an excuse to cut down on legal immigration. It’s long been a target of immigration restrictionists whose concerns about immigration are less about people “respecting the law” than about the government exercising stricter control over who enters the country.

Under the Trump administration, those restrictionists have more political power than they’ve had in a generation — and they’re using it to prosecute an aggressive case against the family-based system as it stands.

The Trump administration’s attacks on “chain migration” have helped shift the terms of the debate over immigration policy. “Chain migration” is being invoked, among other things, to frame two totally different demands Republicans have made in the debate over legalizing immigrants temporarily covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program: preventing current DACA recipients from sponsoring their parents after becoming citizens, and cutting or eliminating some categories of family-based immigration for all immigrants in exchange for legalizing DACA enrollees.

But it’s not just during the DACA debate. The Trump administration blamed the failed New York subway bombing in December on “chain migration” because the would-be bomber came as the child of a US citizen’s sibling in 2010. Its National Security Strategy, issued Monday, called chain migration a security threat.

In other words, the Trump administration’s attack on “chain migration” isn’t just a setup for a particular policy fight. It’s about who is allowed to be a part of America — and whether changes to the country’s makeup are healthy demographic development or a sign of uncontrolled invasion.

“Chain migration” is the technical name for a commonsense idea: People are more likely to move where their relatives are

The dynamic underlying “chain migration” is so simple that it sounds like common sense: People are more likely to move to where people they know live, and each new immigrant makes people they know more likely to move there in turn.

But as obvious as the reality is on the ground, it wasn’t always incorporated into theoretical models of migration (particularly economic models). Economists tended to think about the decision to migrate as a simple calculus of how much money someone was making at home versus how much he could be making abroad, rather than understanding that the decision was more complicated — and that family and social relationships played a role.

Princeton demographer Doug Massey, one of the leading scholars on immigration to the US at the end of the 20th century (and the beginning of the 21st), was one of the scholars who tried to correct this oversimplified view. As he put it in an essay for the Inter-American Parliamentary Group on Population and Development in the early 1990s:

The first migrants who leave for a new destination have no social ties to draw upon, and for them migration is costly, particularly if it involves entering another country without documents. After the first migrants have left, however, the costs of migration are substantially lower for their friends and relatives living in the community of origin. Because of the nature of kinship and friendship structures, each new migrant creates a set of people with social ties to the destination area.

These immigrants would also end up behaving differently once they arrived in their new countries. If they were just there for economic reasons, they’d have an incentive to move back once they’d made enough money, or circulate back and forth. But immigrants who move for social reasons are moving to a new community — a new place they’ll stay. That’s an upside if you think it’s important for immigrants to become American — and a downside if you think the US should be much pickier about who gets to move here for good than it is about who gets to work here.

One upshot of chain migration: Any policies that made it easier for immigrants to bring their relatives would allow migration chains to form, thus expanding immigration into the country. “Family reunification systems,” Massey wrote, “work at crosspurposes with the limitation of immigration.”

Massey and the other demographers of “chain migration” weren’t presenting it as a negative. But their words were easily adopted by people who did. The Massey essay quoted above ended up being reprinted in an issue of The Social Contract — the journal founded by immigration restrictionist mogul John Tanton, who also founded the three most visible restrictionist organizations in American politics (the think tank the Center for Immigration Studies and the advocacy groups NumbersUSA and FAIR).

The Social Contract was a forum for concerns about the threat of mass immigration (particularly mass nonwhite immigration) to the United States. (The Southern Poverty Law Center, which considers all Tanton-affiliated institutions to be “hate groups,” has a rundown of some of the journal’s more incendiary content.) Massey, on the other hand is a longtime supporter of reforms that would make it easier for immigrants to come to America.

An article by a supporter of expansive immigration policy could be reprinted, with few apparent edits, in a journal for his intellectual opponents only because the debate over chain migration is fundamentally not about whether it happens, but whether it’s okay. Defenders of chain migration tend to argue that it’s important for immigrants to put down roots in the US, and that having a family here is part of what that means.

Opponents, on the other hand, see family-based immigration as the government ceding some control for who gets to come here, so that it’s not selecting individuals in a vacuum — which leads rapidly to fears of the US government losing control of the immigration system entirely.

The actual policy behind “chain migration”

It’s not clear whether President Trump understands how family-based immigration actually works — and when it can lead to “chains” of relatives. Trump has claimed that the man who ran over several pedestrians in New York in November brought 23 (sometimes he says 24) relatives to the US in the seven years he’d lived here — a claim that chain migration opponent Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration studies said was impossible. And the White House’s “chain migration” diagram makes it looks like each generation of adults brings in children, which brings their children — which isn’t how chain migration works.

To better understand what policies, exactly, opponents of “chain migration” are worried about, check out this chart from the restrictionist advocacy group NumbersUSA — which is a more detailed representation of the same fear of overwhelming, uncontrollable waves of migration.

It’s a little overwhelming!
NumbersUSA

Let’s walk through the scenario in that chart. It depicts an immigrant who’s come to the US on an employment-based green card (in black) and is able to bring over his spouse and children immediately. He can also petition for his parents to come to the US on green cards, and — after he becomes a citizen (something the NumbersUSA chart doesn’t clarify) — he can petition for his siblings as well (all in gray).

The siblings all bring over their spouses and children immediately, and the spouses (in orange, maroon, navy, and teal) petition to bring over their own parents and (upon naturalization) their own siblings. The original immigrant’s parents (eventually) petition for their own siblings to come to the US, and the siblings then petition to bring over their married adult children — whose spouses can then petition for their own parents and (eventually) siblings, etc., etc.

Meanwhile, the original immigrant’s spouse can petition for her parents (in pink) and, once she becomes a citizen, her siblings (in blue, purple, red, and green). Those siblings bring over their spouses, who subsequently petition for their own parents and siblings, etc., etc.

There are a ton of assumptions in this model about the way immigrants behave — why is everyone in families of four or five? Does no one really want to stay in her home country? Is there no such thing as a bachelor in any of these families? — but the visa categories under US law make it a hypothetical possibility. But the thing is, US policymakers know that it’s a hypothetical possibility. And there are safeguards built into the system that restrict family-based immigration far more than the diagram would have you believe.

In practice, bringing over a family member takes years — which makes it very hard to build a chain

No one is automatically allowed to immigrate to the US. Anyone applying for residency in the country has to go through a standard vetting process — including a criminal and terrorism background check, and an evaluation of whether they’re likely to become a “public charge” in the US (i.e., be unable to support themselves for income and rely on social programs).

Trump’s National Security Strategy claims that “chain migration” is a problem for national security, but there’s nothing inherent to the way someone is allowed to immigrate to the US that makes it harder for the US to catch would-be terrorists — that is, if anything, a failure of the screening process.

The bigger obstacle, though, isn’t qualifying to immigrate — it’s that the number of hypothetically qualified family-based immigrants greatly exceeds the number of slots available for immigrants each year. The US doesn’t set caps on the number of spouses, minor children, or parents of US citizens who can come to the US each year — but, again, those categories in themselves don’t create chains.

The categories that do create chains are strictly capped: 23,400 married children of US citizens (plus their own spouses and minor children) are allowed to immigrate each year, and 67,500 adult siblings of US citizens (plus spouses and minor children). Furthermore, because the total number of immigrants coming from a particular country each year is capped, would-be immigrants from Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines end up facing even longer wait times.

When people talk about the “visa backlog,” this is what they mean: In January 2018, for example, the US government will start processing applications for F4 visas (the siblings of US citizens) who first petitioned to let them immigrate on June 22, 2004, or earlier. That is, unless the sibling lives in India (in which case the petition had to be filed by December 2003 to get processed in January 2018), Mexico (November 1997), or the Philippines (September 1994).

Sudarshana Sengupta, pictured here with family in Massachusetts, had been waiting for a green card for seven years when this picture was taken.
Washington Post/Getty Images

Understanding that an F4 visa is a 13- to 23-year process throws that NumbersUSA diagram into a different light. How implausible it is depends on your assumptions about how close together generations are, and how young the immigrants are when they come to the United States. But if you start by understanding that the first members of the orange, maroon, navy, teal, blue, purple, red, and green chains don’t enter the US until 18 years after the original immigrant (signified by black) does — and that the first immigrants in the yellow section of the chart don’t enter the country until 23 years later — it should give you a sense of how long it will take in to fill in the rest of the chain.

In practice, this ultimately looks like a lot of people coming to the US in late middle age. That’s backed up by the data: A study from Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies — which is critical of “chain migration” — found that the average age of immigrants to the US has risen over the past few decades, and that family-based immigration was a substantial cause.

But even then, the NumbersUSA scenario assumes that all the immigrants can afford to sponsor a family member to immigrate to the US. A US citizen (or green card holder seeking to bring an unmarried child or parent) has to prove to the government that they can provide financial support if their relative needs it, rather than relying on the government for aid.

In practice, this means that every immigrant needs to have someone vouching for them whose household income is 125 percent of the poverty line — and the “household” includes the relative who’s trying to come to the US. In other words, a single adult could sponsor his parent to immigrate if he made at least $20,300 — 125 percent of the federal poverty line for a two-person household — but if he had a spouse and two children, he’d have to be making 125 percent of the poverty line for a five-person household. And that includes any other immigrants who the household is sponsoring at the same time.

So an immigrant with a wife and two children who wanted to sponsor his parents and four siblings to immigrate as soon as he became a citizen would have to be making $56,875 — around the median income in the US. And if his spouse were trying to do the same thing with her parents and four siblings, as in the NumbersUSA chart, they’d have to be making $83,000 — which would place them in the 66th percentile of US household income.

That’s not impossible. But it certainly calls into question the stereotype of family-based migration as a way for “low-skilled,” low-earning immigrants to bring their low-skilled, low-earning relatives into the US.

There are ways for citizens to get other people to agree to help support a potential immigrant relative. But at the same time, the US government has discretion to reject an application, even if the citizen meets the income threshold, if they suspect that in practice the immigrant won’t be supported in the US. (Another factor in determining “public charge”is age — which is interesting, given the data about family-based immigrants being older.)

Add all of these factors together, and it becomes clear that an immigrant won’t be able to bring that many relatives to the US over the course of his or her lifetime. Vaughan’s studyfound that as of 2015, immigrants who came to the US from 1981 to 2000 had sponsored an average of 1.77 relatives to come join them. The most recent immigrants in the study — those who came to the US in the late 1990s — had sponsored the most relatives: 3.46. But both of those numbers include the minor children they brought with them at the time: In other words, they were hardly starting 3.46 new “chains.”

If anything, in fact, the family-based system is so overloaded that it ends up creating unrealistic hopes in people that they’ll be able to immigrate to the US. If your sibling moves to the US on a work visa, for example, you might start to hope that he’ll eventually be able to bring you along — but if you try to plan your life around that, you’ll end up waiting for two decades.

There are hints all this panic over “chain migration” is really about fear of cultural change

All of this is relevant to a conversation about whether to further restrict, or eliminate, the F3 and F4 visas for married children and adult siblings of US citizens. And indeed, that’s the most common policy demand being made by Republicans who are seeking to end or reduce “chain migration.”

But the most stalwart opponents of “chain migration,” the ones who use it to refer to all family-based immigration, period, are talking not just about the mechanics of the chain but about a bigger normative question: whether allowing immigrants to come as family units, or allowing people to immigrate based on family relationships, gives the US too little control over who gets to come.

The ultimate impression of both the White House and NumbersUSA “chain migration” diagrams is to make it seem that admitting a single immigrant unleashes an uncontrollable tide of infinite future family-based immigration — that each immigrant is a one-person Trojan horse for hundreds more.

A pro-Brexit billboard depicting a stream of refugees “overrunning” Britain.
This is an image from the pro-Brexit campaign, but the theme’s the same: a lack of control.
Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty

“As more and more immigrants are admitted to the United States, the population eligible to sponsor their relatives for green cards increases exponentially,” the restrictionist group FAIR says on its website. “This means that every time one immigrant is admitted, the door is opened to many more.”

This potent visual is why “chain migration” has been a longtime target of immigration restrictionists, even when the Republican Party as a whole was attempting to welcome legal immigrants. For people whose biggest fear regarding immigration is that immigrants will change the face of America — that they’ll trample the country’s “traditionally” white, Christian majority — there’s little more potent than the idea of immigrants bringing over huge families, replanting their communities whole in American soil.

This fear goes hand in hand with a fear that immigrants won’t assimilate. When immigration restrictionists cite the second quarter of the 20th century as a great time for the United States, they’re not (at least explicitly) praising the racist country quotas that governed immigration at the time. They’re (explicitly) praising the fact that, with overall immigration levels low, immigrants were forced to interact with and eventually integrate among US citizens. The more immigrants that come over — and especially the more that immigrants bring their families over — the less, in theory, that they and their descendants will have to interact with people from outside of their community. In turn, this gets into fears that parts of America could become alien to Americans — cultural, or literal, “no-go zones.”

The use of “chain migration” in the current debate over DACA, to refer to DACA recipients allowing their parents to become legal immigrants, complicates the matter even further. Because the parents of DACA recipients have, by definition, lived in the US as unauthorized immigrants, this isn’t really about bringing new people into the US — it’s about legalizing people who are already here (or bringing people back who have been deported, something US policy already makes pretty hard).

The insistence among some Republicans that “Dreamers” not be allowed to sponsor their parents, even after they become US citizens, is really about not wanting to “reward” unauthorized immigrants for living in the US without papers. They’re worried about losing “control” in a slightly different sense — worried that any “reward” for illegal behavior will incentivize a new wave of unauthorized migration to take advantage of potential rewards. This is pretty far afield from the way that “chain migration” is commonly understood — but that’s the word being used in the DACA debate anyway, not least because the president has helped turn it into a buzzword.

Because these memes, and the fears that they provoke, are all so tightly connected, “chain migration” is both an ideological concern about America selecting immigrants based on their merit, and a racist smokescreen for fears of demographic change. It can be hard to separate the two. And it’s certainly not in the interests of the opponents of “chain migration” to try.

There’s a reason that family-based immigration has lasted as long as it has

It’s a lot easier to get people to agree, in theory, that the US should be accepting immigrants on the basis of “merit” — i.e., without concern for whether they have relatives living here — than it is to get them to agree on exactly what should be done to reduce the importance of family-based immigration to the current system.

For one thing, many policymakers, including many Republicans, see allowing some family members to immigrate as an important factor in encouraging integration. Allowing immigrants to bring along their spouses and minor children, for example, makes it less likely that they’ll decide to return to their home countries — and it means their children will grow up American, in more ways than one.

There are also policymakers who see family unity as a value worth protecting for its own sake (an argument you’ll often hear among religious advocates). And there’s, of course, an ethnic component. Asian Americans, in particular, feel that they are still trying to make up ground after decades of racist exclusion from the immigration system — and family-based immigration has been the best way for them to make that ground up. Mexican Americans, too, feel that the current system has unfairly forced Mexican immigrant families to be separated while other families get to reunite with ease.

All of these objections have combined, so far, to make Democrats firmly opposed to any proposal that would restrict future family-based immigration. But as “chain migration” begins to eclipse other issues (like immigration enforcement in the interior of the US) as a top Republican priority, it’s not clear whether Democrats’ commitment to hypothetical legal immigrants of the future is going to win out over their commitment to legalizing unauthorized immigrants who are currently here.”

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The fear that the US won’t be a “White Christian country” is what’s really driving the campaign against family migration (a/k/a/ “chain migration”). But, in reality, the days of the US as a “White Christian Empire” are in our national rearview mirror, no matter what the White Nationalist restrictionists do. It’s really just a question of how much pain, suffering, and divisiveness the White Nationalists can inflict as their already tenuous control inevitably continues to slip.

As almost all “non-restrictionist” economists tell us, restrictive national immigration policies are not in our national interest. In fact, more, not less legal immigration is going to be a necessity to keep our economy from stagnating like that of Japan and some European countries. Indeed, Paul Ryan’s goofy “everyone should have more kids” was an acknowledgement of how our future success depends on a robust legal immigration system.

Also, the concept that the legal admission of Dreamers is a “negative” that has to be “offset” by cuts in legal immigration elsewhere is pure fiction. Dreamers are already here and contributing to our society and our national welfare. Giving them legal status is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing. And doing the “smart thing” requires no bogus “offsets.”

PWS

01-01-18

THE NY TIMES TAKES YOU INSIDE THE “NERVE CENTER” OF THE WHITE NATIONALIST EMPIRE: TRUMP’S “GONZO” IMMIGRATION POLICIES DRIVEN BY XENOPHOBIA, RACISM, IRRATIONAL FEAR, FAKE NEWS, MISINFORMATON, AND BIAS! – Trump & Cronies Deny Our Nation’s Immigrant Past While Seeking To Destroy Our Future As A Powerful and Diverse Democracy!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/23/us/politics/trump-immigration.html?_r=0

 

Michael D. Shear & Julie Hirschfield Davis report for the NY Times:

“WASHINGTON — Late to his own meeting and waving a sheet of numbers, President Trump stormed into the Oval Office one day in June, plainly enraged.

Five months before, Mr. Trump had dispatched federal officers to the nation’s airports to stop travelers from several Muslim countries from entering the United States in a dramatic demonstration of how he would deliver on his campaign promise to fortify the nation’s borders.

But so many foreigners had flooded into the country since January, he vented to his national security team, that it was making a mockery of his pledge. Friends were calling to say he looked like a fool, Mr. Trump said.

According to six officials who attended or were briefed about the meeting, Mr. Trump then began reading aloud from the document, which his domestic policy adviser, Stephen Miller, had given him just before the meeting. The document listed how many immigrants had received visas to enter the United States in 2017.

More than 2,500 were from Afghanistan, a terrorist haven, the president complained.

Haiti had sent 15,000 people. They “all have AIDS,” he grumbled, according to one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there.

Forty thousand had come from Nigeria, Mr. Trump added. Once they had seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa, recalled the two officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive conversation in the Oval Office.

As the meeting continued, John F. Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security, and Rex W. Tillerson, the secretary of state, tried to interject, explaining that many were short-term travelers making one-time visits. But as the president continued, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Miller turned their ire on Mr. Tillerson, blaming him for the influx of foreigners and prompting the secretary of state to throw up his arms in frustration. If he was so bad at his job, maybe he should stop issuing visas altogether, Mr. Tillerson fired back.

Tempers flared and Mr. Kelly asked that the room be cleared of staff members. But even after the door to the Oval Office was closed, aides could still hear the president berating his most senior advisers.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, denied on Saturday morning that Mr. Trump had made derogatory statements about immigrants during the meeting.

“General Kelly, General McMaster, Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Nielsen and all other senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims,” she said, referring to the current White House chief of staff, the national security adviser and the secretaries of state and homeland security. “It’s both sad and telling The New York Times would print the lies of their anonymous ‘sources’ anyway.”

While the White House did not deny the overall description of the meeting, officials strenuously insisted that Mr. Trump never used the words “AIDS” or “huts” to describe people from any country. Several participants in the meeting told Times reporters that they did not recall the president using those words and did not think he had, but the two officials who described the comments found them so noteworthy that they related them to others at the time.

The meeting in June reflects Mr. Trump’s visceral approach to an issue that defined his campaign and has indelibly shaped the first year of his presidency.

How We Reported This Story

The Times conducted over three dozen interviews with current and former administration officials, lawmakers and others close to the process.

Seizing on immigration as the cause of countless social and economic problems, Mr. Trump entered office with an agenda of symbolic but incompletely thought-out goals, the product not of rigorous policy debate but of emotionally charged personal interactions and an instinct for tapping into the nativist views of white working-class Americans.

Like many of his initiatives, his effort to change American immigration policy has been executed through a disorderly and dysfunctional process that sought from the start to defy the bureaucracy charged with enforcing it, according to interviews with three dozen current and former administration officials, lawmakers and others close to the process, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail private interactions.

But while Mr. Trump has been repeatedly frustrated by the limits of his power, his efforts to remake decades of immigration policy have gained increasing momentum as the White House became more disciplined and adept at either ignoring or undercutting the entrenched opposition of many parts of the government. The resulting changes have had far-reaching consequences, not only for the immigrants who have sought to make a new home in this country, but also for the United States’ image in the world.

“We have taken a giant steamliner barreling full speed,” Mr. Miller said in a recent interview. “Slowed it, stopped it, begun to turn it around and started sailing in the other direction.”

It is an assessment shared ruefully by Mr. Trump’s harshest critics, who see a darker view of the past year. Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group, argues that the president’s immigration agenda is motivated by racism.

“He’s basically saying, ‘You people of color coming to America seeking the American dream are a threat to the white people,’” said Mr. Sharry, an outspoken critic of the president. “He’s come into office with an aggressive strategy of trying to reverse the demographic changes underway in America.”

. . . .

Even as the administration was engaged in a court battle over the travel ban, it began to turn its attention to another way of tightening the border — by limiting the number of refugees admitted each year to the United States. And if there was one “deep state” stronghold of Obama holdovers that Mr. Trump and his allies suspected of undermining them on immigration, it was the State Department, which administers the refugee program.

At the department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, there was a sense of foreboding about a president who had once warned that any refugee might be a “Trojan horse” or part of a “terrorist army.”

Mr. Trump had already used the travel ban to cut the number of allowable refugees admitted to the United States in 2017 to 50,000, a fraction of the 110,000 set by Mr. Obama. Now, Mr. Trump would have to decide the level for 2018.

At an April meeting with top officials from the bureau in the West Wing’s Roosevelt Room, Mr. Miller cited statistics from the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies that indicated that resettling refugees in the United States was far costlier than helping them in their own region.

Mr. Miller was visibly displeased, according to people present, when State Department officials pushed back, citing another study that found refugees to be a net benefit to the economy. He called the contention absurd and said it was exactly the wrong kind of thinking.

But the travel ban had been a lesson for Mr. Trump and his aides on the dangers of dictating a major policy change without involving the people who enforce it. This time, instead of shutting out those officials, they worked to tightly control the process.

In previous years, State Department officials had recommended a refugee level to the president. Now, Mr. Miller told officials the number would be determined by the Department of Homeland Security under a new policy that treated the issue as a security matter, not a diplomatic one.

When he got word that the Office of Refugee Resettlement had drafted a 55-page report showing that refugees were a net positive to the economy, Mr. Miller swiftly intervened, requesting a meeting to discuss it. The study never made it to the White House; it was shelved in favor of a three-page list of all the federal assistance programs that refugees used.

At the United Nations General Assembly in September, Mr. Trump cited the Center for Immigration Studies report, arguing that it was more cost-effective to keep refugees out than to bring them into the United States.

“Uncontrolled migration,” Mr. Trump declared, “is deeply unfair to both the sending and receiving countries.”

. . . .

As the new year approached, officials began considering a plan to separate parents from their children when families are caught entering the country illegally, a move that immigrant groups called draconian.

At times, though, Mr. Trump has shown an openness to a different approach. In private discussions, he returns periodically to the idea of a “comprehensive immigration” compromise, though aides have warned him against using the phrase because it is seen by his core supporters as code for amnesty. During a fall dinner with Democratic leaders, Mr. Trump explored the possibility of a bargain to legalize Dreamers in exchange for border security.

Mr. Trump even told Republicans recently that he wanted to think bigger, envisioning a deal early next year that would include a wall, protection for Dreamers, work permits for their parents, a shift to merit-based immigration with tougher work site enforcement, and ultimately, legal status for some undocumented immigrants.

The idea would prevent Dreamers from sponsoring the parents who brought them illegally for citizenship, limiting what Mr. Trump refers to as “chain migration.”

“He wants to make a deal,” said Mr. Graham, who spoke with Mr. Trump about the issue last week. “He wants to fix the entire system.”

Yet publicly, Mr. Trump has only employed the absolutist language that defined his campaign and has dominated his presidency.

After an Uzbek immigrant was arrested on suspicion of plowing a truck into a bicycle path in Lower Manhattan in October, killing eight people, the president seized on the episode.

Privately, in the Oval Office, the president expressed disbelief about the visa program that had admitted the suspect, confiding to a group of visiting senators that it was yet another piece of evidence that the United States’ immigration policies were “a joke.”

Even after a year of progress toward a country sealed off from foreign threats, the president still viewed the immigration system as plagued by complacency.

“We’re so politically correct,” he complained to reporters in the cabinet room, “that we’re afraid to do anything.”

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Read the full, much more comprehensive and detailed, article at the link.

Disturbing for sure, but unfortunately not particularly surprising for those of us who have watched the Administration roll out its toxic, ill-informed immigration policies. Perhaps ironically, while the immigration issue has certainly allowed Trump to capture and control the GOP, polls show that his extreme restrictionist, xenophobic views on immigration are generally out of line with the majority of Americans (although not necessarily the majority of GOP voters).

PWS

12-23-17

RESISTING TRUMP AND THE WHITE NATIONALIST STATE: “YEAR 1” — Read Polish Journalist Martin Mycielski’s “Authoritarian Regime Survival Guide”

YEAR 1 Under Authoritarianism

What to Expect?

  1. They will come to power with a campaign based on fear, scaremongering and distorting the truth. Nevertheless, their victory will be achieved through a democratic electoral process. But beware, as this will be their argument every time you question the legitimacy of their actions. They will claim a mandate from the People to change the system.

    Remember – gaining power through a democratic system does not give them permission to cross legal boundaries and undermine said democracy.

  2. They will divide and rule. Their strength lies in unity, in one voice and one ideology, and so should yours. They will call their supporters Patriots, the only “true Americans”. You will be labelled as traitors, enemies of the state, unpatriotic, the corrupt elite, the old regime trying to regain power. Their supporters will be the “People”, the “sovereign” who chose their leaders.

    Don’t let them divide you – remember you’re one People, one Nation, with one common good.

  3. Through convoluted laws and threats they will try to control mainstream media and limit press freedom. They will ban critical press from their briefings, calling them “liars”, “fake news”. They will brand those media as “unpatriotic”, acting against the People (see point 2).

    Fight for every media outlet, every journalist that is being banned, censored, sacked or labelled an “enemy of the state” – there’s no hope for freedom where there is no free press.

  4. They will create chaos, maintain a constant sense of conflict and danger. It will be their argument to enact new authoritarian laws, each one further limiting your freedoms and civil liberties. They will disguise them as being for your protection, for the good of the People.

    See through the chaos, the fake danger, expose it before you wake up in a totalitarian, fascist state.

  5. They will distort the truth, deny facts and blatantly lie. They will try to make you forget what facts are, sedate your need to find the truth. They will feed “post-truths” and “alternative facts”, replace knowledge and logic with emotions and fiction.

    Always think critically, fact-check and point out the truth, fight ignorance with facts.

  6. They will incite and then leak fake, superficial “scandals”. They will smear opposition with trivial accusations, blowing them out of proportion and then feeding the flame. This is just smokescreen for the legal steps they will be taking towards totalitarianism.

    See through superficial topics in mainstream media (see point 3) and focus on what they are actually doing.

  7. They will propose shocking laws to provoke your outrage. You will focus your efforts on fighting them, so they will seemingly back off, giving you a false sense of victory. In the meantime they will push through less “flashy” legislation, slowly dismantling democracy (see points 4 and 6).

    Focus your fight on what really matters.

  8. When invading your liberal sensibilities they will focus on what hurts the most – women and minorities. They will act as if democracy was majority rule without respect for the minority. They will paint foreigners and immigrants as potential threats. Racial, religious, sexual and other minorities will become enemies to the order and security they are supposedly providing. They will challenge women’s social status, undermine gender equality and interfere with reproductive rights (see point 7). But it means they are aware of the threat women and minorities pose to their rule, so make it your strength.

    Women and minorities should fight the hardest, reminding the majority what true democracy is about.

  9. They will try to take control of the judiciary. They will assault your highest court. They need to remove the checks and balances to be able to push through unconstitutional legislation. Controlling the judiciary they can also threat anyone that defies them with prosecution, including the press (see point 3).

    Preserve the independence of your courts at all cost, they are your safety valve, the safeguard of the rule of law and the democratic system.

  10. They will try to limit freedom of assembly, calling it a necessity for your security. They will enact laws prioritizing state events and rallies, or those of a certain type or ideology. If they can choose who can demonstrate legally, they have a legal basis to forcefully disperse or prosecute the rest.

    Oppose any legislation attempting to interfere with freedom of assembly, for whatever reason.

  11. They will distort the language, coin new terms and labels, repeat shocking phrases until you accept them as normal and subconsciously associate them with whom they like. A “thief”, “liar” or “traitor” will automatically mean the opposition, while a “patriot” or a “true American” will mean their follower (see point 2). Their slogans will have double meaning, giving strength to their supporters and instilling angst in their opponents.

    Fight changes in language in the public sphere, remind and preserve the true meaning of words.

  12. They will take over your national symbols, associate them with their regime, remake them into attributes of their power. They want you to forget that your flag, your anthem and your symbols belong to you, the People, to everyone equally. Don’t let them be hijacked. Use and expose them in your fight as much as they do.

    Show your national symbols with pride, let them give you strength, not associate you with the tyranny they brought onto your country.

  13. They will try to rewrite history to suit their needs and use the education system to support their agenda. They will smear any historical or living figure who wouldn’t approve of their actions, or distort their image to make you think they would. They will place emphasis on historical education in schools, feeding young minds with the “only correct” version of history and philosophy. They will raise a new generation of voters on their ideology, backing it with a distorted interpretation of history and view of the world.

    Guard the education of your children, teach them critical thinking, ensure their open-mindedness and protect your real history and heritage.

  14. They will alienate foreign allies and partners, convincing you don’t need them. They won’t care for the rest of the world, with their focus on “making your country great again”. While ruining your economy to fulfil their populist promises, they will omit the fact that you’re part of a bigger world whose development depends on cooperation, on sharing and on trade.

    Don’t let them build walls promising you security instead of bridges giving you prosperity.

  15. They will eventually manipulate the electoral system. They might say it’s to correct flaws, to make it more fair, more similar to the rest of the world, or just to make it better. Don’t believe it. They wouldn’t be messing with it at all if it wasn’t to benefit them in some way.

    Oppose any changes to electoral law that an authoritarian regime wants to enact – rest assured it’s only to help them remain in power longer.

And above all, be strong, fight, endure, and remember you’re on the good side of history.
EVERY authoritarian, totalitarian and fascist regime in history eventually failed, thanks to the PEOPLE.
– With love, your Eastern European friends

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

Martin Mycielski is a journalist, serving as Brussels correspondent for leading Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza. Before that he was one of the leaders of the Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD) NGO and protest movement, which has organized the largest mass demonstrations in Poland since the fall of communism, opposing the authoritarian and unlawful actions of the Law and Justice (PiS) government and its leader, Jarosław Kaczyński (read more here and here, or just Google). In 2016 KOD’s efforts to defend democracy, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law were recognized by the European Parliament which awarded it the European Citizen’s Prize.

Since childhood Martin has been enamoured with the US, it’s culture, politics and people. Tragically, January events have put the worlds greatest democracy at risk, as they have clearly undermined the fundamental values the States were build upon, such as freedom, democracy, equality & diversity. As these values form the idea of America Martin has been raised on, he has decided to step in and help to defend them the only way he knows how – by sharing with you his experiences from a continent being currently torn apart by populists, authoritarians and tinpot dictators.

His message to President Donald J. Trump is therefore a paraphrased fragment from W. B. Yeats:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams;
And if you don’t, we the People will push you off them.

You can follow Martin on Twitter at @mycielski.

To view his professional background visit his portfolio, or invite him on LinkedIn to connect.

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

Scary, but important points to remember if we want “liberal Western democracy” to survive the Trump era.

Points 8, 9, an 14 have particular relevance to what is happening in our legal and immigration systems now. thus, I reiterate them in full here:

Point 8

When invading your liberal sensibilities they will focus on what hurts the most – women and minorities. They will act as if democracy was majority rule without respect for the minority. They will paint foreigners and immigrants as potential threats. Racial, religious, sexual and other minorities will become enemies to the order and security they are supposedly providing. They will challenge women’s social status, undermine gender equality and interfere with reproductive rights (see point 7). But it means they are aware of the threat women and minorities pose to their rule, so make it your strength.

Women and minorities should fight the hardest, reminding the majority what true democracy is about.

Point 9

They will try to take control of the judiciary. They will assault your highest court. They need to remove the checks and balances to be able to push through unconstitutional legislation. Controlling the judiciary they can also threat anyone that defies them with prosecution, including the press (see point 3).

Preserve the independence of your courts at all cost, they are your safety valve, the safeguard of the rule of law and the democratic system.

Point 14

They will alienate foreign allies and partners, convincing you don’t need them. They won’t care for the rest of the world, with their focus on “making your country great again”. While ruining your economy to fulfil their populist promises, they will omit the fact that you’re part of a bigger world whose development depends on cooperation, on sharing and on trade.

Don’t let them build walls promising you security instead of bridges giving you prosperity.

 

 

PWS

12-22-17

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.

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

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

IMMIGRATION, AGRIBUSINESS, & THE AMERICAN SMALL CITY — A Complex Dialogue!

https://slate.com/business/2017/12/latino-immigrants-and-meatpacking-in-midwestern-towns-like-fremont-nebraska.html

Henry Graber reports for Slate:

“FREMONT, Nebraska—The past few years in this Nebraska town of 26,000 have been unusually fraught. “My neighbor is on the City Council. His wife does not wave to me,” explained John Wiegert, as he made his way to a political meeting at the public library this summer. “I could be on fire in the front yard, and she wouldn’t put me out with a garden hose.” Doug Wittmann, who had organized the get-together, wore a blue polo branded with his organization, a Tea Party–influenced group called Win It Back. “We’re divided in this country; we’re divided in this community,” Wittmann told me. “And a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Twenty minutes later, the City Council president, Scott Schaller, wearily addressed the gathering: “It seems like we’ve disagreed on more issues lately, over the past year, than we’ve ever disagreed on.”

A few dozen Fremont residents were crowded into a library meeting room to discuss the Costco chicken plant, a $300 million facility that broke ground this summer and will, starting in 2019, slaughter and ship nearly 400,000 birds a day, all raised by local farmers on strict contracts. The meeting was about eminent domain, but the plant had come to stand for much more than that. Its arrival had split this quadrant of the state along lines that defy traditional two-party politics. In favor is the pro-growth business and political elite, immigration-friendly liberals, and a considerably quieter contingent of Latino residents. Opposed is a curious coalition of aging nativists, good-government advocates, environmentalists, and advocates for workers’ rights.

When complete, the Fremont plant will enable Costco to control poultry production all the way from fertilization to the spits upon which rotisserie chickens will glisten in the chain’s hundreds of locations in the Western United States. Costco says the economic impact of the Fremont plant, hatchery, and feed mill will be $1.2 billion each year, adding more than 1 percent to Nebraska’s gross domestic product. It will transform Fremont, where as many as 1,000 new workers could buy their groceries and educate their children, and the surrounding region, where hundreds of chicken barns will sprout in the fields like mushrooms after the rain.

The battle over the Costco plant has served as a coda for a long war over the way the meat business—Fremont’s Hormel hog plant is the nation’s largest producer of Spam—has changed the town’s identity through the arrival of Latino workers and their families, who now number about 4,000 here. Fremont is the only city in the country that has successfully made it illegal to rent a house to an unauthorized immigrant. The ordinance failed in the City Council in 2008, passed in a referendum in 2010, was overturned by a district court judge in 2012, and was upheld by a circuit court in 2013. Fremont reaffirmed the ordinance in a second referendum in 2014, with 60 percent of voters in favor. Years of raucous debate split families and neighbors, inspired acts of vandalism, brought media attention from far afield, and drove hundreds of Latino residents to leave. Since the second referendum, the city has held an uneasy peace over the ordinance, which goes largely unenforced. Many Latinos who left have returned. But the City Council still sets aside budget money for the possibility they will wind up back in court. A similar, ultimately overturned ordinance cost a Dallas suburb $6 million in legal fees.

The themes that characterized that saga in Fremont resonate across dozens of Midwestern towns—Austin, Minnesota; Storm Lake, Iowa; Garden City, Kansas—where just about the only job and population growth in the past two decades has come from the meatpacking industry and the immigrant workers it attracts. Meat has remained invulnerable to the outsourcing that devastated Rust Belt manufacturing towns. In fact, deregulation and factory farming have brought on a meat boom, bringing good news to towns like these: more young people, more downtown businesses, and related jobs in law, finance, and health care. This is especially visible in places like Schuyler, Nebraska, a small city west of Fremont that’s now more than 70 percent Hispanic. “People had to make a decision: Embrace change or get rid of it,” said Susan Jacobus, a Fremont city councilor who moved recently from Schuyler. “And if you get rid of it, it’s going to cost you your town.”

The Costco plant will bring tax dollars and local spending from hundreds of new arrivals. But it will also reshape the environment of eastern Nebraska, with fertilizer from 500 chicken barns dumping nitrates and phosphates into the water supply of cities downstream. And the work itself, if history is any guide, will be low-paying, dangerous, and difficult. There’s a reason native-born whites don’t work in meat plants anymore.

Supporters of the housing ordinance claimed to defend law and order—they had no problem with legal immigrants, they often said—but they also complained about hearing Spanish spoken in the supermarket and worried about the burden that even legal immigrants placed on Fremont’s schools and social services. They didn’t see why Fremont had to change. If the ordinance was their defiant rebuke to the plants, the packers, and the politicians, the approval of the Costco plant was the opposite: proof that their world was indeed changing beyond their control.

Three years after affirming what may be the most anti-immigrant housing law in the country, Fremont is welcoming a plant that is all but certain to bring hundreds more immigrant and refugee families to town. The city’s political class, which by and large opposed the ordinance, considers this a no-brainer. Unlike many rural communities, Fremont’s population has not declined, in part because it’s now 15 percent Latino. But it is older than the state and the country: Nearly 20 percent of the population is 65 and older. “There’s some people that, regardless of what you do, it’s change, and they don’t want change, period,” said Fremont Mayor Scott Getzschman, who has helped approve the facility. “There’s nothing you can do to make them feel this is the right thing for Fremont.” But, he insists, there is no alternative. “You have to continue to grow, or you die.”

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Read the complete, much longer, article at the link.

Seems like the immigrants and the local folks have a lot in common. They all want:

  • A decent place to live;
  • Economic and educational opportunities;
  • A better future for their kids.

So, what’s preventing them from working together for a better future?

PWS

12-06-17

 

 

VICTORY DANCE! — ICE’S HOMAN SAYS CLIMATE OF FEAR HAS STEMMED BORDER CROSSINGS & PROVES UNRESTRAINED, ARBITRARY IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT WORKS! — “There’s no population that’s off the table,” he said. “If you’re in the country illegally, we’re looking for you and we’re looking to apprehend you.” — America Won’t Be Truly Safe Until The Last Cook, Gardner, Construction Worker, Nanny, Janitor, Tree Cutter, Mechanic, Handyman, Carpenter, Home Health Aide, Computer Programmer, Healthcare Worker, Lettuce Picker, Cow Milker, Landscaper, Lawnmower, Bricklayer, Roofer, Window Washer, Waiter, Sandwich Artist, Teacher, Minister, Coach, Student, Parent, Clerk, Fisherman, Farmer, Maid, Chicken Plucker, Meat Processor, Etc., Without Docs Is Removed And US Citizens Take Over All These Jobs!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/arrests-along-mexico-border-drop-sharply-under-trump-new-statistics-show/2017/12/05/743c6b54-d9c7-11e7-b859-fb0995360725_story.html

Nick Miroff reports in the Washington Post:

“The number of people caught trying to sneak over the border from Mexico has fallen to the lowest level in 46 years, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics released Tuesday that offer the first comprehensive look at how immigration enforcement is changing under the Trump administration.

During the government’s 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, U.S. border agents made 310,531 arrests, a decline of 24 percent from the previous year and the fewest overall since 1971.

The figures show a sharp drop in apprehensions immediately after President Trump’s election win, possibly reflecting the deterrent effect of his rhetoric on would-be border crossers; starting in May, the number of people taken into custody began increasing again.

Arrests of foreigners living illegally in the United States have surged under Trump. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers made 110,568 such arrests between inauguration and the end of September, according to the figures published Tuesday, a 42 percent increase over the same period during the previous year.

Tom Homan, ICE’s temporary director and Trump’s nominee to lead the agency, praised the president and gave a vigorous defense of ICE’s more aggressive approach.

“This president, like him or love him, is doing the right thing,” Homan told reporters at a news conference in Washington, accompanied by the heads of the U.S. Border Patrol and Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“A 45-year low in border crossings? That’s not a coincidence,” Homan said. “That’s based on this president and his belief and letting the men and women of ICE and the Border Patrol do their job.”

[How Trump is building a border wall no one can see]

Trump’s sweeping promises to crack down on illegal immigration fueled his presidential campaign and are at the center of his most ambitious domestic policy proposals, including construction of a wall along the border with Mexico.

Asked whether such a barrier was justifiable given its high cost and the decline in illegal immigration, DHS officials endorsed the president’s plan.

“In this society, we use walls and fences to protect things. It shouldn’t be different on the border,” said Ronald Vitiello, chief of the Border Patrol.

Apprehensions by Border Patrol agents peaked at more than 1.6 million in 2000 and began falling substantially after 2008. The previous low point was 331,333 arrests, during fiscal 2015. Experts have attributed the decline to tougher U.S. enforcement, improving job prospects in Mexico and long-term demographic changes that have driven down the country’s birthrate.

3:32
On the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump supporters wait for th
Still, the drop in border arrests is among the sharpest year-to-year changes on record, one that only casts more doubt on the wisdom of building a border wall, said Doris Meissner, senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think tank.

“It’s a throwback response to yesterday’s problems,” she said, arguing that the money would be better spent addressing what accounts for a growing share of illegal migration: families with children fleeing rampant violence and dismal poverty in Central America.

Border agents took more than 75,000 “family units,” classified as at least one child and a related adult, into custody during fiscal 2017. But the number of unaccompanied minors fell 31 percent, to 41,435.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

This has to be what true greatness looks like! Imagine a world without those pesky undocumented workers to support our economy, our society, and our “American” way of life! That’s making America Great Again!

I’m sure future generations will be inspired by Homan’s humanity and wisdom as they pick produce or pound shingles in 100 degree heat, clean toilets, empty urine bags for the elderly and handicapped, clean tables, wash dishes, limb trees, shuck oysters, schlep concrete blocks, dig ditches, and, horror of horrors, take care of their own children while working full-time. Man, that’s going to be “America the Great” just as Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Miller, Homan, and others envision it!

And, the best part: we won’t have to worry about any of that burdensome, nasty “globalism” and the unfair burden of global leadership! That’s because the Chinese, Indians, Canadians, Mexicans, and Europeans will be in charge of the world economy and the Ruskies will control world politics. So we can enjoy our little White Nationalist enclave modeled on post-revolutionary Cuba — life in the 1950’s preserved forever! Save those “Classic ’57 Chevies!”

Kinda sorry I won’t be here to enjoy it! But, then again, I already lived through the real 1950’s once — Cold War, Jim Crow, segregation, anti-semitism, racial covenants, no women doctors, lawyers, or execs, African Americans only welcome on the football fields and basketball courts of a few Northern colleges! Boy, it was great! But, not sure I want  to do it again, even to experience the pure, unadulterated joy of having “my Milwaukee Braves” win the 1957 World Series (before fleeing to Atlanta)!

On the flip side, at Homan’s “record pace” of “law enforcement,” he and his minions will have every single undocumented American resident removed from the U.S by 2080 — that’s if no more arrive in the interim. And, the really great thing — they and those around them (including U.S. citizen kids and family members) will be living in fear every moment for the next six decades! Now, that’s something of which we can be truly proud! Of course, this all assumes that the North Koreans don’t nuke us and the rest of the world out of existence first!

PWS

12-06-17

 

WASHPOST: TRUMP’S ANTI-IMMIGRANT WHITE NATIONALIST HYSTERIA & UNJUSTIFIED ATTACKS ON OTHERS DIMINISHES OUR COUNTRY AND MAKES US LESS SAFE!

Three Editorials in today’s Washington Post emphasize the extremely counterproductive nature of Trump’s response to the NY terrorist attack.

First, on his inappropriate attempt to blame immigrants for the incident:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-response-to-the-new-york-attack-was-downright-dispiriting/2017/11/01/00558930-bf43-11e7-8444-a0d4f04b89eb_story.html?utm_term=.133a8ef49c1b

“IN LOWER MANHATTAN on Tuesday, not far from the memorial to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, eight people were killed and 12 injured when a man espousing fidelity to the Islamic State drove a rented pickup down a busy bike path along the Hudson River. “It was gruesome. It was grisly. It was surreal,” one witness said of bicyclists and pedestrians being mowed down. The attack on innocent people enjoying a fine autumn day was a chilling reminder of the persistent threat posed to the United States by Islamist extremists — and their ingenuity in finding ways to commit murder.

Some small comfort can be taken in the fact that in the 16 years since the fall of the twin towers, improvements in protecting the homeland and fighting terrorism abroad have lessened the terrorists’ strength to strike and improved our ability to respond. The quick actions of police and other first responders during Tuesday’s tragedy should be applauded. So must the resilience and strength of the people of New York City, who made clear they will not be cowed by fear.

Far less inspiring — indeed, downright dispiriting — was the reaction of President Trump. In a series of tweets that apparently were informed (a word we use loosely) by his viewing of “Fox & Friends,” Mr. Trump went on a harangue about immigration and attacked Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). On Wednesday, Mr. Trump signaled he might upend the judicial process by declaring the suspected attacker an enemy combatant to be shipped off to the Guantanamo Bay prison; federal terrorism charges filed against him later in the day likely would foreclose that from happening. Note that the White House wouldn’t discuss gun control after last month’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, on the grounds that it would politicize a tragedy, but it had no problem launching partisan attacks following a terrorist strike that ought to unify all Americans. Note also, as The Post’s Philip Bump pointed out, that Mr. Trump is quick to jump to conclusions when there are incidents involving immigrants but is far more circumspect when nonimmigrants are involved.

What’s really needed from the Trump administration is not blame-shifting but a serious attempt to investigate and learn from this latest attack. Were others involved or aware of the alleged plans dating back a year that went into the attack? Are authorities right in their initial assessment that the suspect became “radicalized domestically” while living in the United States? Were signals missed when he appeared on the radar of law enforcement in connection with the investigations of other suspects? The 29-year-old, authorities said, allegedly “followed almost exactly to a T” instructions that the Islamic State has put out on its social-media channels on how to carry out attacks. So what can be done to detect and deter other would-be followers?

Among those killed Tuesday were five Argentines who were part of a group of school friends who traveled to New York to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation. It was their dream trip to a city known for being open and generous and diverse. Those are the traits that make America great; to undermine them in response to Tuesday’s attack only plays into the hands of terrorists.”

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Second, the Editorial Board responds to Trump’s attempt to blame Senator Chuck Schumer of New York for the attack:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/for-trump-new-yorks-tragedy-means-a-new-attack-on-immigration/2017/11/01/8ffa0940-bf38-11e7-97d9-bdab5a0ab381_story.html?utm_term=.ead2a22ecd7d

“PRESIDENT TRUMP, ever prone to seek out scapegoats, fastened on a new target in the wake of the terrorist attack in New York: the state’s senior Democratic senator, along with a 27-year-old visa program that offers applicants from dozens of countries a shot at immigrating to the United States.

Mr. Trump singled out Sen. Charles E. Schumer, who, in 1990, sponsored the diversity visa program, through which the alleged attacker in New York, Sayfullo Saipov, is reported to have immigrated to the United States from his native Uzbekistan. In a tweet, the president derided the program as “a Chuck Schumer beauty.”

Never mind that Mr. Schumer’s legislation establishing the program attracted bipartisan support; or that it was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, a Republican; or even that Mr. Schumer himself unsuccessfully bargained to end the program, in 2013, in return for a bill granting legal residence to millions of undocumented immigrants already in the United States. Neither the facts nor the normal political imperative to avoid partisanship in the wake of a terrorist attack appeared to move Mr. Trump.

His tweet made it appear that his overriding interest in an assault allegedly backed by the Islamic State is to use it to assail immigration — in this instance, a legal program whose beneficiaries represent a speck in the overall number of immigrants. Managed by the State Department since 1995, the program now grants up to 50,000 visas annually, via a random lottery, to citizens of dozens of countries who would otherwise be mostly overlooked in the annual influx of green-card recipients. In recent years, many of the winners have been from Africa and Eastern Europe.

Having reaped political advantage as a candidate in vilifying illegal immigrants, Mr. Trump has set his sights in office on legal migrants, including refugees, from a handful of mostly Muslim countries, whom he’d like Americans to see as an undifferentiated mass of potentially violent interlopers. Gradually, he is chipping away at what was once a national consensus that immigrants are a critical source of vitality, invention and international appeal.

Like almost any immigration program, the diversity visa lottery is imperfect and susceptible to abuse. The fortunate winners, who represent less than 1 percent of those who have applied annually in recent years, are not uniformly equipped to thrive in this country; many lack an education beyond high school. As Mr. Saipov may turn out to prove, even the extensive vetting required of all who immigrate through the program does not provide an ironclad guarantee that it is impervious to applicants who might seek to harm the United States.

The lottery program might be improved. Still, the fact that more than 11 million people applied for it in fiscal 2016 reflects the magnetic appeal the United States continues to exert around the world. Satisfying a small fraction of that demand, through the lottery or some other legal means, is a powerful tool of public diplomacy in countries whose citizens might otherwise have no hope of coming here.”

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Third, Jennifer Rubin (“JRUBE”) comments on Trump’s “mindless,” totally inappropriate, attack on our justice system (in other words, on our Constitution):

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/11/02/trumps-mindless-insult-to-the-american-judicial-system/?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-b%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.6be7fbcdabb0

“Asked about the suspect Wednesday, President Trump called him an “animal.” Prompted to say whether he thought Saipov should be sent to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Trump said, sure, he’d consider it. Later, at Wednesday’s White House press briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said flatly that the White House considered the suspect an “enemy combatant.”

The president also said yesterday that the American justice system (presumably including his own Justice Department) is a “joke” and a “laughingstock.” He further opined, “We also have to come up with punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now,” Trump said. (Terrorists are subject to the death penalty, so it’s unclear what he had in mind.) “They’ll go through court for years … We need quick justice, and we need strong justice,” he said.

Thankfully, the Justice Department, like the Pentagon, has learned when to ignore Trump. On Wednesday, Saipov was charged in federal court. By Thursday morning, Trump was backing off his support for sending Saipov to Guantanamo. Once again, the ignorant president shot from the hip and had to creep back to reality.

Just how harmful were Trump’s statements? It is reprehensible for the president to defame our justice system, which is not a “joke” nor a “laughingstock” but the envy of the world. Moreover, in the terrorist context, it has proved remarkably efficient in trying and convicting terrorists, and then handing out maximum punishments. The surviving Boston Marathon bombing defendant was convicted in just this way and sentenced to death.

. . . .

Based on today’s tweet, we were right to assume that neither Trump nor Sanders had any idea what he/she was talking about (always a good assumption). We will watch with pride as American justice takes its course — and with horror as Trump continues to wreck havoc from the Oval Office.”

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Having spent a professional lifetime working on immigration and refugee issues, I can confirm that Trump and his GOP “restrictionist cronies” like Sessions, Miller, and Bannon have managed to transform what used to be “a national consensus that immigrants [and particularly refugees] are a critical source of vitality, invention and international appeal” into a highly partisan and racially-charged attack on the national origins and futures of some of our most productive citizens and residents — those who far more than Trump or his cronies are likely to help us in building a better, safer future for all Americans.

Having worked on all sides of our U.S. Justice System, served as an administrative judge on the trial and appellate levels for more than 21 years, listened to and/or read thousands of accounts of what made people leave their “home countries,” and studied in detail the reasons why some failing countries are “senders” of talented migrants and others, like the U.S., are fortunate enough to be on the “receiving” end, I can say unequivocally that the fairness of our justice system and the overall honsety and integrity of civil servants in the U.S. Government are the primary differences between the “sending” and “receiving” countries, like ours.

As I have observed before, Trump and his cronies are launching what is basically a “Third-World autocratic attack” on our Constitution and our democratic institutions. If they succeed, the immigration “problem” might eventually be “solved” because nobody will want to come here any more. How many people risked their lives trying to get into the former Soviet Union?
Donald Trump, his cronies, and his enablers are and will remain a much greater threat to our safety and Constitutional institutions than any foreign terrorist could ever be. We ignore his dangerous and fundamentally un-American rants at our own peril!
PWS
11-02-17

 

THE XENOPHOBIC WHITE NATIONALISM OF TRUMP, SESSIONS, & THE GOP RESTRICTIONISTS COULD WELL LEAVE AGING BABY BOOMERS WITHOUT NEEDED HEALTH CARE ASSISTANCE!

https://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2017/10/25/immigrants-caretaker-workforce-000556

Ted Hesson reports for Politico:

“One of the biggest future crises in U.S. health care is about to collide with the hottest political issue of the Trump era: immigration.

As the largest generation in American history – the baby boom – heads into retirement and old age, most of those aging boomers will need someone to help take care of them for at least some portion of their twilight years. Demand for home health aides is expected to outstrip the growth for nearly all other jobs in coming decades, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting the number of home health aide positions will increase 38 percent by 2024. That puts it among the top five fastest-growing U.S. occupations.

So who’s going to do it? The question is one of the biggest uncertainties looming over not only the health care, but the labor market overall. Health policy experts have been raising the alarm for some time: No matter how you look at it, the United States is going to need a lot more caretakers and home health aides. And we’re going to need them soon.

Right now, immigrant workers fill a significant share of the formal and informal caretaker workforce. In health care overall, immigrants (both legal and undocumented) make up roughly 17 percent of workers, on par with their representation in the broader labor force. When it comes to home health care, however, that figure is considerably higher: about 24 percent, according to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.

There’s a reason foreign-born workers take so many home health jobs: they’re low-paid, low-skilled and increasingly plentiful. Barriers to entry are low; a high school degree is not usually a requirement and neither is previous work experience. Much caretaking comes from family members, of course. But with families getting smaller, more Americans living alone and chronic diseases growing more complex, a lot of that care in the future will need to come from professionals.

 

The job also isn’t easy. Home health aides can be tasked with bathing and feeding clients, cleaning the person’s house, driving them to doctor’s appointments and even helping with trips to the bathroom. It’s one of those occupations that comes to mind “when people say that immigrants do the jobs that Americans don’t want to do,” notes Patricia Cortés, an assistant professor of markets, public policy and law at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.

Bianca Frogner, an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said the low barriers to entry make it a natural fit for immigrants who are new to the U.S. workforce. “It’s easy to get into and they’re in high demand,” she said.

This is where politics comes in: The current move to curb immigration threatens to cut off the main supply of potential new workers to care for aging Americans.

Illegal immigration isn’t the issue. The home health care immigrant workforce is vastly legal. The Pew Research Center found that just 4 percent of nursing, psychiatric and home health aides are in the country without legal status, based on an average from 2005 to 2014. Some home health aide positions require certification, which may drive down the ranks of undocumented immigrants in those positions.

The question for the health care system is what will happen to the flow of legal immigrants. Trump and immigration hawks in Congress have endorsed a bill that would cut legal immigration in half over a decade. The bill would also refocus the immigration system to prize better-educated and more highly skilled immigrants — potentially choking off the supply of lower-skilled workers who are the likeliest candidates to fill the home health aide jobs of the future.

In theory, native-born Americans could take some of those jobs, but there are reasons to assume they won’t.

. . . .

The strange thing about home health care work is that immigrants don’t appear to drive down wages, as happens in some other fields. If anything, they tend to push wages higher. Naturalized citizens who worked as nursing, psychiatric and home health aides earned 22 percent more than their U.S.-born counterparts, according to 2015 American Community Survey data analyzed by the University of Washington Center for Health Workforce Studies.

Lindsay Lowell of Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of International Migration, said the wage phenomenon and the fact that the work is a natural fit for new immigrants make it a no-brainer: Immigrants are our best caretaking option for the foreseeable future. “You put all that together,” Lowell said, “and I think it’s a good thing.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

In a sane system led by competent individuals with the common good in mind, this would be a “no brainer.”  Legalize the existing undocumented workforce to provide some “upward and sideways” mobility to staff these jobs in the short run, while expanding legal immigration opportunities for these positions in the future. More legal immigration would also contribute to the tax coffers and add needed workers to the Social Security contribution base. Moreover, it would conserve considerable Government funds now being squandered on counterproductive immigration enforcement and unnecessary detention, as well as relieving the pressure on the overwhelmed Immigration Courts. That, in turn, would free up enforcement resources to concentrate on removing serious criminals and shutting down international smuggling cartels.

However, when policy is driven by bias, prejudice, and irrationality, as with guys like Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Miller, and the “RAISE Act Bunch” the results are a lose – lose.

PWS

10-28-17