PETER BEINART IN THE ATLANTIC: ANTI-LATINO RACISM IS NOW THE MAJOR PLANK IN THE TRUMP GOP IMMIGRATION PLATFORM: “When Americans talk about undocumented immigrants, Latinos or immigrants in general . . . the images in their heads are likely to be the same.” — Since Trump & Sessions Are Well-Established Scofflaws – Trump Regularly Bashes The FBI & Ignores Ethics Laws, While Sessions Is Openly Scornful Of The Federal Courts And Constitutional Abortion Rights – They Need To Play To “Tribal Bias” Rather Than The “Rule of Law!”

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/what-the-new-gop-crack-down-on-legal-immigration-reveals/553631/

Beinart writes:

“The Trump-era GOP cares more about the national origin and race of immigrants than the methods they used to enter the United States.

In this August 2015, photo, a woman approaches the entrance to the Mexico border crossing in San Ysidro, California.Lenny Ignelzi / AP
A few weeks ago, the contours of an immigration compromise looked clear: Republicans would let the “dreamers” stay. Democrats would let Trump build his wall. Both sides would swallow something their bases found distasteful in order to get the thing their bases cared about most.Since then, Trump has blown up the deal. He announced on Wednesday that he would legalize the “dreamers,” undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, only if Democrats funded his wall and  ended the visa lottery and “chain migration.” He would support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants only if Congress brought the number of legal immigrants down.

There’s an irony here, which was pointed out to me by CATO Institute immigration analyst David Bier. Until recently, Republican politicians drew a bright line between illegal immigration, which they claimed to hate, and legal immigration, which they claimed to love. Florida Senator Marco Rubio launched his presidential campaign at the Freedom Tower, Miami’s Ellis Island. Texas senator Ted Cruz, who in 2013 proposed a five-fold increase in the number of H1B visas for highly skilled immigrants, declared in April 2015 that, “There is no stronger advocate for legal immigration in the U.S. Senate than I am.” Mitt Romney promised in 2007 that, “We’re going to end illegal immigration to protect legal immigration.”

Trump has turned that distinction on its head. He’s willing to legalize the “dreamers”—who came to the United States illegally—so long as the number of legal immigrants goes down. He has not only blurred the GOP’s long-held moral distinction between legal and illegal immigration. In some ways, he’s actually flipped it—taking a harder line on people who enter the U.S. with documentation than those who don’t.

What explains this? Trump’s great hidden advantage during the 2016 Republican presidential primary was his lack of support from the GOP political and donor class. This allowed him to jettison positions—in support of free trade, in support of the Iraq War, in support of cutting Medicare and Social Security—that enjoyed support among Republican elites but little support among Republican voters. He did the same on immigration, where the “legal good, illegal bad” distinction turned out to be much more popular among the party’s leaders than among its grassroots. Cribbing from Ann Coulter’s book, Adios America, Trump replaced the legal-illegal distinction with one that turned out to have more resonance on the activist right: The distinction between white Christian immigrants and non-white, and non-Christian ones.The words “illegal immigration” do not appear in Trump’s presidential announcement speech. Instead, Trump focused on immigrants’ country of origin. “When Mexico sends its people,” he declared, “they’re not sending their best … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists … It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably—probably—from the Middle East.”

Trump, who often says bluntly what other Republicans say in code, probably realized that “illegal immigrant” was, for many voters, already a euphemism for Latino or Mexican-immigrants. In their book White Backlash, the political scientists Marisa Abrajano and Zoltan Hajnal cite a poll showing that 61 percent of Americans believe that most Latino immigrants are undocumented even though only about a quarter are. “When Americans talk about undocumented immigrants, Latinos or immigrants in general,” they note, “the images in their heads are likely to be the same.”

What really drove Republican opinion about immigration, Trump realized, was not primarily the fear that the United States was becoming a country of law-breakers. (Republicans, after all, were not outraged about the lack of prosecution of tax cheats.) It was the fear that the United States—which was becoming less white and had just elected a president of Kenyan descent—was becoming a third world country.When the Public Religion Research Institute and Brookings Institution asked Americans in 2016 their views of immigration from different parts of the world, it found that Republicans were only three points more likely than Democrats to want to reduce immigration from “predominantly Christian countries” and only seven points more likely to want to reduce immigration from Europe. By contrast, they were 33 points more likely to support reducing immigration from Mexico and Central America and 41 points more likely to support reducing immigration from “predominantly Muslim countries.” What really drives Republican views about immigrants, in other words, is less their legal status than their nation of origin, their religion, and their race.

Trump grasped that during the campaign, and in coalition with a bevy of current and former Southern Senators—Jeff Sessions, David Perdue and Tom Cotton—he has used it to turn the GOP into a party devoted to slashing legal immigration. On Thursday, when presented with a bill that traded the legalization of dreamers for more border security but did not reduce legal immigration, only eight Republican Senators voted yes. However, 37 voted for a bill that legalized the “dreamers,” added more border security and substantially reduced legal immigration.

But there’s another reason Trump has succeeded in erasing the “legal good, illegal bad” distinction that for years governed GOP immigration debate. He’s made Republicans less concerned with legality in general. In 2012, the GOP—which was then-outraged by executive orders that supposedly displayed President Barack Obama’s contempt for the constitutional limits of his office—titled the immigration section of its platform, “The Rule of Law: Legal Immigration.” The seven paragraph-section used variations of the word “law” fourteen times.That emphasis is harder now. In his ongoing battles with the FBI, Justice Department, judiciary and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Trump has convinced many Republicans that the “rule of law” is often a cloak for the partisan biases of the “deep state.” As a result, Republicans are now 22 pointsless likely to hold a positive opinion of the FBI than they were in 2015.

What really matters for many Republicans in Trump’s standoff with Mueller and the FBI is not who has the law on their side, since the bureaucracy can twist the law to its own advantage. What really matters is who enjoys the backing of “the people,” the authentic America that resides outside the swamp, a construct that definitely does not include the imagined beneficiaries of “chain migration” and the “visa lottery.”

In the Trump era, Republicans now justify their immigration views less by reference to law than by reference to tribe. Which, not coincidentally, is how they justify Trump’s presidency itself.”

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Marco Rubio has already seen the downside of trying to become a national force in the GOP by advocating a moderate, pro-business, pro-immigrant, not overtly anti-Hispanic policy. I suspect if and when Ambassador Nikki Haley tries to make a bid for national office in the GOP she’ll find out that the Miller-Sessions-Cotton-Perdue-King group and Trump supporters will treat her with the same disrespect, bias, and disdain that they usually reserve for smart, capable Latinas, children fleeing for their lives from the Northern Triangle, and “Dreamers.”

And folks like Sen. Tim Scott will find that even consistent support for a right-wing GOP that regularly disses African-Americans and Hispanics won’t give him “White Guy” status in the larger GOP world. A useful vote in the Senate. That’s about it. Reportedly, Scott once talked to Trump about the latter’s “tone” on race. How did that work out, Tim? But, hey, as long as you vote for big tax breaks for the wealthy, cuts in health care, and are happy to threaten the benefits, remaining dignity, and lives of the poor, you can at least retain your status a “club member at the retail level.”

PWS

02-18-18

NIGHTMARE: TRUMP AND THE GOP’S UGLY LEGACY TO DREAMERS: “They will lose jobs and, in many cases, driver’s licenses, tuition subsidies and health insurance. They will slip into the shadows in the only country they know. This will be Mr. Trump’s legacy and the true reflection of his ‘great heart.’”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mr-trump-to-the-dreamers-drop-dead/2018/02/17/26799300-1320-11e8-8ea1-c1d91fcec3fe_story.html

By the Washington Post Editorial Board:

“PRESIDENT TRUMP has often spoken and tweeted of the soft spot in his “great heart” for “dreamers,” the hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to this country as children. This supposed concern has now been revealed as a con.

Offered bipartisan legislation in the Senate that would have protected 1.8 million dreamers from deportation, in return for a down payment on the $25 billion wall Mr. Trump assured voters that Mexico would finance, the president showed his cards. The deal was a “total catastrophe,” the president said, punctuating a day in which the White House mustered all its political firepower in an effort to bury the last best chance to protect an absolutely blameless cohort of young people, raised and educated as Americans.

Despite the withering scorn heaped on the bipartisan plan by Mr. Trump, with a hearty second by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), eight Republican senators backed it, giving it a total of 54 votes — six shy of the 60 required for passage. Had Mr. Trump stayed silent, or suggested he could accept a modified version, the bill may very well have passed. But he turns out to be far less interested helping the dreamers — helping anyone, really — than in maintaining his anti-immigrant political base.

His own blueprint, an obvious nonstarter that included sharp cuts to legal immigration, mustered just 39 votes in the Senate, nearly all Republicans. That’s a telling total, one that mirrors the percentage of Americans who still support him. Of the four immigration measures voted on in the Senate last week, the Trump bill had the least support.

The White House wasn’t surprised. By yoking its proposal for protecting dreamers to a hard-line wish list, the president guaranteed its defeat — and maintained the president’s own bona fides as a resolute champion of the nation’s xenophobes.

The president, along with Mr. McConnell, is intent on a blame game, not a solution. He suggested no compromises and engaged in no negotiations, preferring to stick with maximalist demands. Despite barely mentioning it as a candidate, Mr. Trump has not budged from insisting on a plan to reduce annual legal immigrants to the United States by hundreds of thousands, to the lowest level in decades.

That’s bad policy for a country with an aging population and an unemployment rate that ranks among the lowest in the industrialized world. More to the point, even if you favor lower levels, it was guaranteed in the context of this debate to doom the dreamers — especially after Democrats had already compromised substantially on the border security that Mr. Trump initially set as his price.

And what of the dreamers, whom Mr. Trump addressed repeatedly in calming tones, telling them not to worry? For the time being, federal courts have preserved their work permits and protections from deportation. Meanwhile, though, his administration is pressing ahead, asking the Supreme Court to uphold the president’s effort to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that has shielded dreamers since 2012.

If the administration is successful, as many legal experts expect, the lives, hopes and futures of nearly 2 million young immigrants will be upended. They will lose jobs and, in many cases, driver’s licenses, tuition subsidies and health insurance. They will slip into the shadows in the only country they know. This will be Mr. Trump’s legacy and the true reflection of his “great heart.”

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As pointed out in this editorial, the best chance for a compromise, basically “Dreamers for Wall,” likely would have passed both Houses had Trump put himself fully behind it and pressured McConnell and Ryan to make it happen. But, that was never in the cards. The whole charade was always about Trump looking for a way to avoid taking responsibility for the Dreamer fiasco and proving to his “base” that he never really lost sight of their racist views.

About the only good thing was that the Administration’s “Miller-drafted” “Advancing White Supremacy and Xenophobic Racism Act of 2018” was defeated by the biggest margin of any of the proposals. But, that’s not much solace to the Dreamers, although it does help our country by staving off an insane cut in legal immigration that would have been “bad policy for a country with an aging population and an unemployment rate that ranks among the lowest in the industrialized world.”

PWS

02-18-18

 

TAL @ CNN – STATUS OF PARENTS STICKING POINT IN SENATE DREAMER NEGOTIATIONS

http://www.cnn.com/2018/02/14/politics/daca-parents-flashpoint/index.html

 

DACA parents become flashpoint in negotiations

By: Tal Kopan, CNN

As the debate over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program goes down to the wire, the parents of the young undocumented immigrants affected — not the recipients themselves — may be the trickiest flashpoint.

Negotiations on a bipartisan Senate plan have been thorny on the issue of what to do about the parents, according to sources familiar with the group’s discussions, and comments from lawmakers. And threading the needle could be the difference on whether it can get 60 votes.

“If you deal with the parents now, you lose a lot of Republicans. If you try to do the breaking chain migration now, you lose a lot of Democrats,” South Carolina’s Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said of the talks. “We’re going to say that parents can’t be sponsored by the Dream Act child they brought in illegally.”

According to a draft of the bipartisan deal obtained by CNN, the compromise would prevent parents from being sponsored for citizenship by their children if the children received citizenship through the pathway created by the bill or if the parents brought them to the US illegally. That leaves Democrats grappling with the idea that they may have to trade protections for DACA immigrants for a penalty for their parents, who brought them to the US illegally.

“I don’t like that part,” Hawaii’s Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono said, leaving a meeting of Democrats where they were briefed on the bill, though she indicated she may be able to accept it as a compromise.

At issue are laws that allow US citizens to sponsor family members for eventual citizenship, including parents.

The Trump administration and allies have seized on the issue of family-based migration as a wedge, arguing that all forms of family sponsorship except spouses and minor children should be cut.

But even Republican moderates who don’t support that position are concerned about the implications for parents of recipients of DACA.

If eligible young immigrants are granted a path to becoming citizens in roughly a decade, as per most proposals, that could allow them to sponsor their parents down the road — though experts say it’s not that simple.

Conservatives object to the notion that parents who came here illegally could eventually be rewarded with citizenship.

In a call with reporters on Wednesday, a White House official said that without blocking parental sponsorship for people who came to the US illegally with their children, a deal “would massively incentivize” more illegal immigration and would create a “perverse incentive of adult illegal immigrants to (not) enter illegally without their children.”

How to do it is tricky. Lawmakers agree it’s impossible to create a class of citizen that has different rights than others, so that leaves either cutting parental sponsorship for all citizens, a massive cut to current legal immigration or specifically addressing parents of DACA immigrants.

Advocates and experts point out that it’s false to claim that a DACA pathway would quickly, or even easily, allow parents to get citizenship.

The law already requires that individuals who came to the US illegally and have been here without status for more than a year — statistically a substantial majority of DACA parents — are required to return to their home countries for at least 10 years before they can apply for green cards. Nothing in proposed legislation would remove that requirement, which would come after a 10- to 12-year waiting period for the children.

After that, all of those individuals would still have to meet other requirements on all green card applicants, including clean criminal records and being able to prove they could support themselves once here. Advanced age can be used as a factor to reject immigrants on the latter grounds.

William Stock, a partner at Klasko Immigration Law Partners and the former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said “nearly all” DACA parents would have trouble becoming citizens even with a bill because of the 10-year penalty.

“If they didn’t have to deal with the 10-year bar, they would have done it already,” Stock said. “They wouldn’t be undocumented, because they could have found some way (to legalize their status.)”

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How screwed up is U.S. Immigration policy under Trump and the GOP?

Under a rational policy, we would not only legalize the “Dreamers” and give them a path to citizenship, but also eliminate the stupid, cruel, and ineffective (actually counterproductive) 10-year bar. Then, over time, as the Dreamers naturalized (five or more years down the line from any green card) they could petition for their parents, and gradually, those who were still alive could gain legal status.  Pretty much another win-win. Parents of “Dreamers” are almost all good, hard-working folks who took risks and “put it all on the line” for their kids’ futures. Basically “salt of the earth.”What better people could you want for fellow citizens? And the parents who are already here are basically supporting the rest of us with their work.

But, when one side of the “debate” is driven by bias, racism, xenophobia, White Nationalism, bogus narratives, and fake statistics, well, you get folks like the immigration restrictionists and the mess we have today. We’d do much better if we just incorporated all the good folks who are already here into our society over time and moved forward as a united country. That would be common sense, enlightened self-interest, and basic human decency. Not in the restrictionists’ play book, I’m afraid. But, someday we’ll either get to that point, in spite of the restrictionists, or perish as a viable nation. That’s why Putin loves Trump and the GOP so much. America’s worst enemies are his best friends!

PWS

02-14-18

JAMES HOHMANN @ WASHPOST DAILY 202 — TRUMP, GOP DON’T APPEAR SERIOUS ABOUT PROTECTING DREAMERS OR IMMIGRATION REFORM — RATHER, SEEK WAYS TO ADVANCE INTENTIONALLY DIVISIVE, RACIALLY BIASED, “FACT-FREE” WHITE NATIONALIST AGENDA! — Plus, My Point By Point Analysis Of Why The Democrats Should “Hang Tough” On A Dreamer Deal!

Hohmann reports:

THE BIG IDEA: Democrats are so eager to shield young foreign-born “dreamers” from deportation that they’re now offering to make compromises that would have been hard to imagine a year ago. Republicans, who feel like they have them over the barrel, are demanding more.

Showing his pragmatic side, for instance, Bernie Sanders says he’s willing to pony up big for border security if that’s what it takes. “I would go much further than I think is right,” the Vermont senator said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “Unwillingly. Unhappily. I think it’s a stupid thing to do. But we have to protect the dreamers. … I’m willing to make some painful concessions.”

Sanders said a wall is still a “totally absurd idea” and that there are better ways to secure the border with Mexico, but he also emphasized that there will be “a horrible moral stain” on the country if President Trump goes through with his order to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program next month.

— Anti-immigration hardliners are staking out a firm position because most of them are not actually concerned about the plight of the dreamers. They have never thought these young people, whose undocumented parents brought them to the United States as children, should be here anyway. They agitated for Trump to end the program.

This means they’ll be fine if no bill passes, and they know that gives them way more leverage to demand wholesale changes to the entire legal immigration system. “The president’s framework bill is not an opening bid for negotiations. It’s a best and final offer,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who has emerged as the leader of this group in the Senate. He made this comment yesterday on “Fox and Friends,” knowing the president watches. Sure enough, Trump echoed the same talking point on Twitter, calling this the “last chance” for action.

— Mitch McConnell wants to use this week’s immigration debate to force show votes that can be used to embarrass vulnerable Democratic senators from red states. For example, the majority leader introduced a measure yesterday that would penalize so-called sanctuary cities for not cooperating with federal immigration laws. This issue tests well in polls and focus groups in most of the 10 states Trump carried in 2016 where a Democrat is now up for reelection. GOP insiders on the Hill say that McConnell is mainly focused on doing whatever it takes to protect his majority now that 2018 has arrived, and he has a narrower majority after the loss in Alabama.

— Democrats stuck together to block the Senate from taking up the poison pill on sanctuary cities, but the fact that the debate has so quickly devolved into a fight over process offered another data point – if for some reason you needed one – of how dysfunctional the Senate has become.

Trump urges senators to back his immigration proposal

— “Most Republicans on Tuesday appeared to be rallying behind a proposal by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and six other GOP senators that fulfills Trump’s calls to legalize 1.8 million dreamers, immediately authorizes spending at least $25 billion to bolster defenses along the U.S.-Mexico border, makes changes to family-based legal immigration programs and ends a diversity lottery system used by immigrants from smaller countries,” Ed O’Keefe reports. Senate Minority Leader Chuck “Schumer said the Grassley plan unfairly targets family-based immigration and that making such broad changes as part of a plan to legalize just a few million people ‘makes no sense.’

In a bid to soften Trump’s proposals and win over Democrats, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) unveiled a watered-down version of the GOP proposal — but had not won support from members of either party by late Tuesday. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a longtime proponent of comprehensive immigration changes, said the Grassley proposal should be the focus of the Senate’s debate. … Schumer and other Democrats, meanwhile, voiced support for a plan by Sens. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would grant legal status to dreamers in the country since 2013 but would not immediately authorize money to build out southern border walls and fencing.”

— Democrats would like to pass a narrow bill that only protects DACA recipients, but they know that’s not possible with Republicans in control of Congress and the presidency. To get the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster, they’re conceding on at least some of Trump’s demands related to security. Sanders said there are between 55 to 57 votes for a compromise that would save the dreamers and fund border protections. “We are scrambling now for three to five more votes,” he said.

— The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. to continue debate, as negotiations behind the scenes continue. Somewhat counterintuitively, conservative hardliners believe that Latinos will be less likely to turn out this November if nothing passes in Congress because activists will blame Democrats for not delivering.

Bernie Sanders heads to a Democratic caucus meeting in the Capitol. (Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post)

Bernie Sanders heads to a Democratic caucus meeting in the Capitol. (Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post)

— Despite concerted efforts by Trump and McConnell to drive a wedge through the Democratic caucus, there remains a remarkable degree of unity. This highlights how much the terms of the immigration debate have shifted over the past decade. Every Democrat in Congress now wants to protect DACA recipients. It wasn’t always this way. The House passed a Dream Act in 2010 that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to apply for citizenship if they entered the United States as children, graduated from high school or got an equivalent degree, and had been in the United States for at least five years. Five moderate Democrats in the Senate voted no. If each of them had supported it, the bill would have become law, and DACA would have been unnecessary. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is the only one of those five Democrats still left. (The others retired or lost.) Now Tester speaks out against the president’s decision to end DACA. (I explored this dynamic in-depth last September.)

Sanders marveled during our interview at how much the polling has shifted in recent years toward protecting dreamers, with some public surveys showing that as many 90 percent of Americans don’t think they should be deported. The share who think they should also have a pathway to become U.S. citizens has also risen. “If we talked a year or two ago, I’m not sure I would have thought that would be possible,” he said.

Hillary Clinton relentlessly attacked Bernie during the debates in 2016 for voting to kill comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. Sanders – working closely with some of the leading unions – expressed concern back then that the bill would drive down wages for native-born workers by flooding the labor market with cheap foreign workers. This position caused him problems with Hispanics during his presidential bid.

Sanders rejects the idea that his views have changed since 2007, and he still defends his 11-year-old vote. He noted that the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) opposed that bill, as did the Southern Poverty Law Center, because it included a guest worker program that was “akin to slavery.” He said he remains just as concerned about guest worker programs as he was back then, but that he’s always favored a comprehensive solution that includes legal protections for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants who live here. “You can say you support immigration reform, but obviously the devil is in the details on what that means,” the senator explained. “I stood with progressive organizations who said you don’t want to bring indentured servitude.”

Sanders criticized a guest worker program in his home state that allows resorts to hire ski instructors from Europe instead of native Vermonters. “Now do you not think we can find young people in Vermont who know how to ski and snowboard? But if you go to some of the resorts, that’s what you would find,” he said. “When I was a kid, we worked at summer jobs to help pay for college. … So I think we want to take a hard look at guest worker programs. Some of them remain very unfair.”

— After coming surprisingly close to toppling Clinton and winning the Democratic nomination two years ago, Sanders is at or near the top of the pack in every poll of potential 2020 primary match-ups. He’s going to Des Moines next Friday for a rally with congressional candidate Pete D’Alessandro, his first visit to Iowa this year. Sanders will also go to Wisconsin for Randy Bryce, who is running against Speaker Paul Ryan, and Illinois, where he’ll boost Chuy Garcia’s bid for retiring Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s open seat. A few weeks after that, he plans a tour of the Southwest. “I’m going to do everything I can to help people in 2018,” Sanders said.

Lobbying for their lives

— Republicans have gone the other direction. Before Trump came on the scene, the party was divided but GOP elites agreed that, for the long-term survival of the party, they needed to embrace more inclusive policies. Losses in 2012 prompted many Senate Republicans to endorse a comprehensive bill the next year (Sanders voted for it too), but the legislation was doomed in the House after Majority Leader Eric Cantor went down in a Virginia primary partly because of his perceived softness on the issue.

Elected Republicans used to insist adamantly that they were not anti-immigration but anti-illegal immigration. That’s changed. At the behest of Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Republicans are rallying around the idea of dramatic reductions in legal immigration. Two years ago, this was an extreme idea that most GOP senators would have quickly distanced themselves from. Now it’s considered mainstream and the centerpiece of the bill that McConnell has rallied his members behind.

To put it in perspective: By cutting the rate of legal immigration, Trump’s proposal – codified in Grassley’s bill — would delay the date that white Americans become a minority of the population by as many as five additional years, according to expert analysis.

“What’s very sad, but not unusual given the moment we’re living in, is that Republicans are more concerned about their right-wing, extremist, xenophobic base,” said Sanders. “You would think that, with 85 to 90 percent of people supporting protections for the dreamers, that it would not take a profile in courage to pass legislation to protect them.”

Kelly: ‘Dreamers’ who didn’t sign up for DACA were ‘too afraid’ or ‘too lazy’

— A dual-track fight over DACA is playing out in the courts. A federal judge in New York issued a preliminary injunction last night that keeps the program alive beyond Trump’s March 5 deadline so that legal challenges can play out. “A federal judge in California has issued a similar injunction, and the Supreme Court is expected this week to consider whether it will take up the fight over DACA,” Matt Zapotosky reports.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis recognized that Trump “indisputably” has the authority to end the program put in place by Barack Obama, but he also called the administration’s arguments that DACA was unconstitutional and illegal under federal law flimsy. “Because that conclusion was erroneous, the decision to end the DACA program cannot stand,” he wrote.

— Happy Valentine’s Day. Don’t forget to get a gift.

— What I’m especially excited about this morning is baseball. Pitchers and catchers are reporting for spring tr

Listen to James’s quick summary of today’s Big Idea and the headlines you need to know to start your day:

 

 

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Contrary to most of the “chatter,” I think that the Dreamers and the Democrats have the upper hand in this one. I’ll tell you why below!

A “border security package,” could involve the Wall, technology and much needed management improvements at DHS (but certainly no additional detention money — stop the “New American Gulag” — or personnel for the Border Patrol until they full current vacancies and account for how they are currently are deploying agents).

Beyond that, the Dems probably could agree to a reallocation of diversity and some preference visas while maintaining current legal immigration levels. Cutting legal immigration levels, eliminating family immigration, or authorizing further denials of due process (the totally bogus and essentially evil claim that the current already inadequate protections for children and other vulnerable migrant’s are “loopholes”) should be “non-starters.”

If they can’t get the deal they want, the Dems can walk away and still win for the Dreamers in the long run. Here is why:

  • I doubt that Trump would actually veto a compromise bill passed by both Houses that protected Dreamers without his full “Four Pillars of White Nationalism” program.
    • If he does, any Democrat who can’t make Trump and the GOP pay for such a dumb move in the next election cycle doesn’t deserve to be a Democrat.
    • The “full Dreamer protection” trade for border security with no other changes should be a “no brainer.” If Trump or the GOP “tank” it over the restrictionist agenda, the Democrats should be able to make them pay at the polls.
  • Right now, the Administration is under two injunctions halting the repeal of the “core DACA” program.
    • If the Supremes don’t intervene, that issue could be tied up in the lower Federal Courts for years.
      • It’s very clear that the Administration’s current position is ultimately a loser before the lower Federal Courts.
      • If the Administration tries to “short-circuit” the process by going through APA to promulgate a regulation to terminate DACA, that process also is likely to be successfully challenged in the Federal Courts.
        • The so-called “legal rationale” that Sessions has invoked for ending DACA has literally been “laughed out of court.”
        • Trump himself has said that there is really no reason to remove Dreamers from the U.S.
        • So, on  the merits, an attempt to terminate DACA by regulation probably would be held “without any legal or rational basis” by the lower Federal Courts.
  • Even if the Supremes give the “green light” to terminate DACA, most “Dreamers” by now have plausible cases for other forms of relief.
    • Many DACA recipients have never been in removal proceedings. If they have been here for at least 10 years, have clean criminal backgrounds, and have spouses or children who are U.S. citizens they can apply for “cancellation of removal.”
    • “Former DACA” recipients appear to be a “particular social group” for asylum and withholding of removal purposes. They are “particularized,  the characteristic of having DACA revoked is “immutable,” and they are highly “socially distinct.”  Many of them come from countries with abysmal human rights records and ongoing, directed violence. They therefore would have plausible asylum or withholding claims, or claims under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”).
    • If ICE tries to use information voluntarily given by the Dreamers during the application process to establish removability or for any other adverse reason, that is likely to provoke a challenge that will be successful in at least some lower Federal Courts.
  • Safety in numbers.
    • There is nothing that Trump, Sessions, and the DHS can actually do to remove 700,000+ Dreamers.
    • The U.S. Immigration Courts are backed up for years, with nearly 700,000 already pending cases! Sessions is doing everything he can to make the backlog even worse. Dreamers will go to the “end of the line.”
    • Sure Sessions would like to speed up the deportation “assembly line” (a/k/a “The Deportation Railway”).
      • But, his boneheaded and transparently unfair attempts to do that are highly likely to cause “big time” pushback from the Federal Courts and actually “tie up” the entire system — not just “Dreamers.”
      • The last time the DOJ tied to mindlessly accelerate the process, under AG John Ashcroft, the Courts of Appeals remanded defective deportation orders by the basket-load for various due process and legal violations — many with stinging published opinions.
        • Finally, even former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez (“Gonzo I”), hardly a “Due Process Junkie” had enough and slowed down the train. It took years for the “haste makes waste” Circuit Court remands to work their way back through the system. Some might still be hanging around.
      • Because the GOP White Nationalists and Trump read off of “restrictionist cue cards” that don’t take account of the law, facts, or history, the Dems should have a huge advantage here if and when individual “Dreamer” removal cases get to the Federal Courts.
    • Each “Dreamer removal case” should present the Democrats with excellent example of the cruelty, stupidity, and total wastefulness of the Trump/Sessions/DHS enforcement policies. Wasting money to “Make America Worse.” Come on, man!
    • Bottom Line: Trump and Sessions have created a “false Dreamer emergency” that they can’t escape without some help from the Democrats. If the Democrats see an opportunity to make a “good deal” for the Dreamers, they should take it. But, they shouldn’t trade the Dreamers for the harmful White Nationalist restrictionist agenda! Eventually, the problem will be solved in a way that is favorable for most Dreamers, regardless of what the White Nationalists threaten right now. The Dreamers might just have to hang on longer until we get at least some degree of “regime change.”

PWS

02-13-18

ENJOINED AGAIN: US DISTRICT JUDGE IN EDNY ALSO TEMPORARILY HALTS DACA REPEAL — FINDS GONZO’s “LEGAL” RATIONALE “PLAINLY INCORRECT!”

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/13/politics/federal-judge-daca/index.html

Ariane de Vogue Reports for CNN:

(CNN)A second federal judge Tuesday has temporarily blocked the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Success for Harvard medical students in DACA could mean their parents are deported
Success for Harvard medical students in DACA could mean their parents are deported
Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York ruled that DACA participants and states are likely to succeed in their challenge that the way President Donald Trump terminated the Obama-era program was arbitrary and capricious.
Trump last year announced his plan to end DACA, the policy that allowed undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children to stay in the country, effective March 5. That deadline has become central in the congressional debate over immigration, but Democrats and Republicans are nowhere near a breakthrough.
Tuesday’s ruling, combined with a ruling from a California judge last month, means the program could end up going beyond the March 5 date. The ruling means DACA recipients can renew their status, but the administration will not have to hold the program open to those who never applied.
“Defendants indisputably can end the DACA program,” Garaufis wrote, referring to the Trump administration. “The question before the court is thus not whether defendants could end the DACA program, but whether they offered legally adequate reasons for doing so. Based on its review of the record before it, the court concludes that defendants have not done so.”
The judge said that the decision to end the program was based in part on the “plainly incorrect factual premise” that the program was illegal.
“Today’s ruling shows that courts across the country agree that Trump’s termination of DACA was not just immoral, but unlawful as well,” said Karen Tumlin of the National Immigration Law Center.
This week the Supreme Court is set to meet behind closed doors to discuss whether to take up the Trump administration’s appeal of the related case.
The Justice Department said it maintains that the administration acted “within its lawful authority” in deciding to end DACA and will “vigorously defend this position.”
“DACA was implemented unilaterally after Congress declined to extend these benefits to this same group of illegal aliens. As such, it was an unlawful circumvention of Congress,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “Promoting and enforcing the rule of law is vital to protecting a nation, its borders, and its citizens.”
Impact on immigration negotiations
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, urged lawmakers to “focus” on March 5, despite the two district court rulings blocking the DACA drawdown, but acknowledged there will be more time.
“We should still focus on the March 5 date,” Tillis said on Fox News Tuesday afternoon. “The reality is, unless there’s any action by the Supreme Court, looks like we have some number of weeks following March 5 to solve the problem.”
Judge brought up “Norway” comments
In fiery oral arguments last month, Garaufis gave a blistering critique of what he called the President’s “recurring, redundant drumbeat of anti-Latino commentary.”
“It’s not just an ad hoc comment that was overheard on an open mic,” the judge said. “It’s not just that somebody at INS said something derogatory about Mexicans. This came from the top.”
Garaufis was responding to a question regarding Trump’s comments in a closed-door meeting with senators in which the President asked why people from Haiti and more Africans were wanted in the US and added that the US should get more people from countries like Norway.
CNN’s Laura Jarrett contributed to this report.

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

Who knows how this eventually will end if Congress doesn’t solve the problem? I certainly can imagine a conservative majority of the Supremes cooking up a way to empower Trump and dump on the Dreamers.

But, no matter how this comes out, it’s never been about the “rule of law,” border security, or protecting Americans. Indeed, every commentator who isn’t Jeff Sessions or one of his White Nationalist xenophobic buddies agrees that ending DACA and removing “Dreamers” would make America a worse place in every possible way.

No, it’s always been about White Nationalism, racism, xenophobia, dividing America, and the general alt right “agenda of hate and intolerance” which has been what Sessions and those like him are all about. And, he’s not even a very good lawyer, taking most of his bogus so-called “legal arguments” off of “cue cards” prepared  for him by restrictionist interest groups.

And racist, xenophobic statements by Trump himself continue to undermine the DOJ attorneys’ arguments that there is some type of “rational basis” for Trump immigration policies.

PWS

02-13-17

ON SATURDAY, “COURTSIDE” & SLATE’S JEREMY STAHL GAVE YOU THE “REAL LOWDOWN” ON AAG RACHEL BRAND’S “FLIGHT FROM JUSTICE!” — Two Days Later, NBC News Confirms What We Already Said!

Here’s a link to the prior blog on immigrationcourtside.com:

https://wp.me/p8eeJm-26R

Here’s the NBC report by one of my favorite Washington reporters, Julia Edwards Ainsley:

http://nbcnews.to/2CfKuHi

Julia reports:

“WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s No. 3 attorney had been unhappy with her job for months before the department announced her departure on Friday, according to multiple sources close to Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand.

Brand grew frustrated by vacancies at the department and feared she would be asked to oversee the Russia investigation, the sources said.

She will be leaving the Justice Department in the coming weeks to take a position with Walmart as the company’s executive vice president of global governance and corporate secretary, a job change that had been in the works for some time, the sources said.

Sources: Brand left DOJ over fear of overseeing Russia probe 3:40

As far back as last fall, Brand had expressed to friends that she felt overwhelmed and unsupported in her job, especially as many key positions under her jurisdiction had still not been filled with permanent, Senate-confirmed officials.

Four of the 13 divisions overseen by the associate attorney general remain unfilled, including the civil rights division and the civil division, over one year into the Trump administration.

While Brand has largely stayed out of the spotlight, public criticism of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein by President Donald Trump worried Brand that Rosenstein’s job could be in danger.

Should Rosenstein be fired, Brand would be next in line to oversee Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, thrusting her into a political spotlight that Brand told friends she did not want to enter.

The Justice Department pushed back on NBC’s report.

“It is clear these anonymous sources have never met Rachel Brand let alone know her thinking. All of this is false and frankly ridiculous,” said Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Flores.

Brand has had a long legal career that has spanned several administrations, including under Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican George W. Bush.

In announcing her departure, Attorney General Jeff Sessions described Brand as “a lawyer’s lawyer,” noting that she graduated from Harvard Law School and clerked at the Supreme Court.

In the same statement, Brand said, “I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish over my time here.”

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

Undoubtedly, the DOJ under Trump and Sessions has made some great strides in attacking the rule of law, undermining social justice, mal-administering the Immigration Courts, eroding the credibility of DOJ attorneys in court, and generally diminishing the quality and fairness of the justice system in the United States.

While those might give Rachel “bragging rights” over at Wal-Mart or in right-wing legal circles, I don’t see that they are anything to “write home about.”  Hopefully, at some point in the future, having served as a politico in the Trump/Sessions DOJ will become a “career killer” for any future Government appointments.

But, in today’s topsy-turvy legal-political climate, it’s still a shrewd “self-preservation” move on Brand’s part. And, she’s somewhat less likely to be stomping on anyone’s civil rights over at Wal-Mart (although you never know when an opportunity to dump on the civil rights of the  LGBTQ community, African-Americans, Latinos, immigrants, women, the poor, or to promote religious intelerance might present itself in a corporate setting).

Looking forward to more DOJ reporting from the super-talented Julia! I’ve missed her on the “immigration beat!”

PWS

02-12-18

 

 

 

SEE, HEAR, READ TAL’S ANALYSIS OF LATEST GOP IMMIGRATION PROPOSAL ON CNN!

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/11/politics/republican-senators-white-house-framework/index.html

“GOP senators introduce version of White House immigration framework

By Tal Kopan, CNN
Updated 6:13 PM ET, Sun February 11, 2018
Trump proposes path to citizenship for 1.8M

Washington (CNN)A group of Republican senators on Sunday night released a version of President Donald Trump’s immigration proposal ahead of a floor debate on immigration this week.

The proposal is expected to be one of several amendments the Senate will consider this week as it debates immigration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has used a bill unrelated to immigration as the starting point for the debate, which will allow senators to offer proposals that can compete for 60 votes to advance.
The bill from Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley, John Cornyn, James Lankford, Thom Tillis, David Perdue, Tom Cotton and Joni Ernst largely resembles what Trump has proposed.
At its base is still a resolution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has protected young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation. Trump has decided to terminate the Obama-era program.
With DACA left out again, advocates figure out their next move
With DACA left out again, advocates figure out their next move
The White House proposal offered a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million eligible immigrants, more than the 800,000 of whom registered for DACA in the five years of the program. In exchange, the White House sought upwards of $25 billion for border security and a wall, a number of changes to laws to make it easier to deport and detain immigrants, a substantial cut to legal immigration based on family relationships and an end to the diversity visa lottery.
The Grassley bill essentially makes those bullet points a reality, including the proposals that would toughen immigration enforcement and limiting family-based visas only to spouses and children under 18 years old — a vastly reduced number of eligible immigrants from the current system.
As proposed by the White House, the cuts to the family system and diversity lottery would be used to allow in the 4 million to 5 million immigrants already waiting years — and in some cases decades — in the backlog for visas. Cuts to yearly visas would only occur after that backlog is cleared, allowing Congress time to make reforms, the lawmakers said.
McConnell officially tees up immigration debate next week
McConnell officially tees up immigration debate next week
The bill is not expected to have 60 votes in support of it, the threshold required to advance legislation in the Senate. Democrats have uniformly objected to the cuts to family migration and have issues with the ending of the diversity visa without another way to support immigrants from countries that are otherwise underrepresented in immigration to the US. The so-called reforms to current immigration laws also face steep opposition.“

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

Click the above link to see Tal on TV!

Unfortunately, “closing loopholes” is a euphemism for increasing unnecessary, expensive, and inhumane civil immigration detention (the “New American Gulag”).

It also involves denying due process to tens of thousands of “unaccompanied children” seeking protection for which many should qualify were they given a fair opportunity to obtain counsel, adequate time to document applications, and truly fair hearings in Immigration Court.

In plain terms, it’s a cowardly and disingenuous attack on the rights of the most vulnerable migrants. Hopefully there are enough legislators on both sides of the aisle committed to due process, human rights, and just plain human decency to expose and defeat these highly abusive and dishonest parts of the GOP proposal.

PWS

02-11-18

DREAMERS “LEFT OUT” AGAIN – CONTEMPLATE NEXT MOVE – News & Analysis From Tal @ CNN

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/10/politics/daca-left-out-what-next/index.html

The “Amazing Tal” writes:

“Washington (CNN)As the ink dried Friday on a major budget compromise deal in Congress, immigration advocates were taking stock of getting left behind — again — without a resolution for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants on the verge of losing protections.

It’s an open question if there are cards left to play in the push to enshrine the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy into law. While no advocates say they are giving up, many also openly admit that Democrats and allies gave up their best negotiating position on the issue without another clear avenue coming up.
In the meantime, a pending court decision on DACA, which President Donald Trump is terminating, means the immigrants protected by it and who mostly have never known another country than the US, won’t begin losing their protections as planned on March 5 — but their fate could be reversed at any moment by another court decision.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat who has long served as one of the most outspoken advocates in Congress for immigration reform, was pessimistic with reporters early Friday morning as Congress passed the deal with virtually every Democratic priority except DACA in it.
“No, I don’t, I don’t,” he said when asked if there was any other way Democrats could exert leverage on the issue. Gutierrez said the plan from the beginning was to either attach a DACA compromise to the must-pass budget deal or raising the debt ceiling, both of which were passed in the early morning hours Friday without DACA. Arizona Democrat Raul Grijalva called the episode “disheartening.”
close dialog
“We have decoupled the issues. Your leverage is you want them one and the same,” Gutierrez said. “Do we need a new way forward? Yeah, we’re going to figure out a new way forward.”

Step 1: Senate vote next week

There is one glimmer of hope for advocates. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made good on his promise to tee up an immigration debate on the Senate floor next week. Moments after the Senate passed the deal, McConnell filed to have a vote to open debate on an unrelated bill Monday evening — which will kick off a process where an as-yet-unknown number of amendments will be able to compete for a procedural threshold of 60 votes to then pass the Senate.
It was that promise that put in motion the deal that eventually severed DACA from other negotiations but also offers a rare opportunity for lawmakers to compete on a neutral playing field for bipartisan support.
“We’re pivoting, what can you do?” said longtime advocate Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration group America’s Voice. “We’ve had our doubts about the viability of a standalone legislative process but that’s what we’re left with, so we’re hoping to make the most of it. … That will put pressure on the President and the House to do the same.”
Already, groups of lawmakers are preparing for the floor debate, even as it remains unclear how many amendments will be offered, how debate will be structured and how long it might last.
A group of roughly 20 bipartisan senators is drafting legislation over the weekend to offer perhaps multiple amendments and potentially keep the debate focused on a narrow DACA-border security bill. Advocates on the left may offer a clean DACA fix like the Dream Act, and some on the right are drafting a version of the White House proposal that would include $25 billion for a border wall and heavy cuts to legal immigration with a pathway to citizenship — though neither is expected to have 60 votes.
“First of all, we have the Senate procedure, which is my hope. We’re working with the (bipartisan group) to see if we can come to a two-pillar solution,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who has long worked on the issue, when asked Thursday what comes next for DACA. “Hopefully we could gather 60 votes for that. And then that would be it — we’d resist everything else, any other amendments, and then go back to the House and create all the pressure in the House to make it happen.”

Step 2: Pressure Ryan

If the Senate can pass a bill, lawmakers hope Trump will fully embrace it, freeing House Speaker Paul Ryan to call it up.
Already as the budget deal was on track for passage, House advocates began a pressure campaign to urge Ryan to make a promise like McConnell — though Ryan continually demurred and insisted instead he’s committed to the issue of immigration and passing a bill the President can support.
“I think we have to be realistic,” said Arizona’s Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego. “We’re going to have to deal with reality and find whatever means possible to put pressure on Speaker Ryan and the Republican Party to bring, again, a fair vote on the Dream Act to the floor.”
“I think for me the strategy has to be pressure Ryan and bring it to the floor,” Grijalva said, adding the process should allow any proposal to vie for a majority — even if it doesn’t have a majority of Republican votes. “The Senate, when they gave up on not voting for it, at the very minimum extracted a time certain and a debate on something. We don’t even have that.”
Democrats also may have some Republican supporters in the House to pressure Ryan. A bipartisan group of lawmakers that includes two dozen Republicans sent a letter to Ryan asking to open a floor debate like McConnell.
Republican Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania said he’s been urging fellow moderates to use their numbers the way that conservatives on the right flank do.
“The Freedom Caucus has been effective because they’ll use their power of 24 (votes to deny a majority), and they take the hostage, they’ll do what they have to do,” Dent said. “I tell our members, we put our votes together, we can really direct an outcome. … I suspect if the Senate sends us a bipartisan DACA bill, that’s when we’re going to have to flex our muscles.”
But others have doubts. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a member of the bipartisan group, says he learned his lesson in 2013, when he co-authored legislation that passed the Senate with wide margins but died in the House.
“There are some who believe that if we get a bunch of votes it’ll force the House to do it. I don’t agree,” Rubio said. “We could vote on it 90-10. … This notion that the House is going to listen to what a senator tells them to do is not real.”

Step 3: Other leverage

If the legislative process can’t produce success, advocates say, they will look for any other leverage points they can.
“If that doesn’t work out, then there’s still an omnibus at the end of the day,” said Menendez, referring to the spending bills due in March to fund the government under the topline two-year budget deal passed Friday.
But Gutierrez doubted that approach — scoffing at the idea that Democrats would be taken seriously if they threatened to withhold their votes yet again without success.
“Really?” Gutierrez said about the omnibus as leverage. “Is it plausible? Is it realistic? Can you continue to threaten with something?”
Other options could include a temporary, one-year or two-year extension of DACA without a permanent solution, though lawmakers have decried that option.
Still, many aren’t ready to give up hope.
“This President clearly wants to get it done, I think the majority of Republicans want to get it done and the majority of Democrats want to get it done. Can we reach that balance? We can get there, I feel very confident we can get there,” said Florida’s Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.”
***************************************
Although it should be a “no brainer,” I’m not as confident as Rep. Diaz-Balart that this group can “get to yes.” A fair resolution of the “Dreamers” situation just isn’t very high on the GOP agenda, particularly in the House. And, both the Dreamers and the Dems are coming to grips with the obvious reality: if you want to set or control the agenda, you have to win elections!
We need Julia Preston to lock these folks in a room for awhile!
PWS
02-10-18

GONZO’S WORLD: DOJ #3 RACHEL BRAND FLEES SINKING SHIP TO SAVE CAREER – FINDS REFUGE AT WALMART – No, It’s Not Normal For The Associate AG To Leave After 9 Months! – But, Who Ever Said The Trump/GONZO DOJ Is “Normal?”

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/02/rachel-brand-is-leaving-doj-are-we-headed-for-a-massacre.html

“In a surprise move, Rachel Brand is stepping down as the No. 3 official at the Department of Justice, the New York Timesreported on Friday. Brand was next in line to oversee the special counsel’s Russia inquiry after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Brand’s departure could have enormous consequences for Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference and President Donald Trump.

The New York Times has reported that Trump considered firing Rosenstein and Mueller over the summer, a situation that would have been reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre and the firing of Watergate investigator Archibald Cox. Trump will now get to hand-pick a replacement for Brand, who would step in to take over the investigation should he or she be confirmed by the Senate and should Rosenstein go. It’s also been noted that Rosenstein may ultimately have to recuse himself from the investigation; in that case, he wouldn’t even have to be fired for the Trump selection to take control of the investigation into Trump.

Last March, Trump issued an executive order modifying the line of succession for an acting attorney general, the person who would be in control of Mueller’s inquiry since Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself. According to that order, under normal procedures, a potential replacement for either Brand or Rosenstein to oversee the Russia inquiry would need Senate confirmation.

Fordham Law professor and occasional Slate contributor Jed Shugerman has laid out the potential orders of succession at the current moment. According to the vacancy statutes, Solicitor General Noel Francisco would be designated by Jeff Sessions as acting attorney general if Rosenstein were to depart, and he’d be followed by the assistant attorneys general. The next in line after that would typically be the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, a position which is being vacated by Dana Boente. Since Boente is leaving that job, it would go to the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon Jr.

It’s worth noting that the executive order says Trump “retains discretion, to the extent permitted by law” to go around this line of succession to select an acting attorney general on his own. But doing so in an effort to squelch an investigation into himself, his allies, and his family would conceivably be such a transparent effort to subvert the rule of law as to be a political liability even within the Republican Party.

Rosenstein has been personally attacked by Trump. He has come under additional fire recentlyfrom critics of the Russia investigation, who have been using a concocted and false narrative from a recently declassified talking points memo to go after the FBI, Mueller, and Rosenstein. When Trump was asked by reporters if he still had confidence in Rosenstein last week, he responded “you figure that one out.”

Brand is reportedly leaving to become the head of global corporate governance at Walmart. The move feels possibly odd for someone who has served in three presidential administrations, cultivated a reputation as a devoted public servant, and who has only been in her current job less than one year.

Politico’s Eliana Johnson reported that someone close to Brand and the administration said she was leaving “because she is very smart, accomplished, and talented, and wants to protect her career.”

Brand worked in the George W. Bush administration and has been considered a rising conservative legal star for more than a decade. It seems very possible that staying in that DOJ position might have ultimately left her facing a very difficult situation career-wise. In a world where Rosenstein was fired and Brand was placed in charge of the Mueller probe, she might have to choose between obeying a Trump order that might upend the rule of law and being fired by Trump. As congressional and mainstream Republicans have moved closer towards Trump’s apparent anti-Mueller, anti-rule of law position, such martyrdom does not sound like it would help her future in the GOP.

Either decision might have done long-term damage to Brand’s future career prospects in any branch of government.

Brand’s move, however, preemptively abdicates that possible decision, quite possibly leaving it to a Trump-approved successor. As Elie Mystal, the executive editor at Above the Law, wrotefollowing the news, it seems as though we might be rolling towards a “slow moving Saturday Night Massacre.”

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

Gee, Jeremy, I’m only a retired Immigration Judge (and 35 year vet of the DOJ), but I don’t view this a much of a “surprise.”

Brand has a reputation as as a smart lawyer, perhaps the smartest of the “Sessions crew.” As opposed to someone like the buffoonish racist White Nationalist xenophobe Stevie Miller or the often incoherently bias spewing Sessions himself, Brand was a low-key “doer.” She actually did a “bang up job” of implementing the Sessions alt right, anti-civil rights, anti-due process, anti-minority, anti-civil-liberties, anti-diversity, homophobic agenda at the DOJ.

She obviously sees “Armageddon” coming to the realm of “Gonzo Apocalypto” and wants to get out before she is left in the “lose-lose” position (that both Trump & Sessions have a penchant for creating) of having to become “Trump’s patsy” in the Russia investigation or maintaining her integrity, getting fired, and getting on Trump’s “S-list.”

This way, she can get out of the way of the “train wreck,” make some real money, and preserve her reputation in both right-wing legal circles and with Trump. That sets her up as a possible Cabinet appointee in a future, somewhat saner GOP Administration, or even to be a Trump nominee for a Federal Judgeship.

Smart, Rachel!

PWS

02-10-18

GONZO’S WORLD: How “Gonzo” Immigration Enforcement & The All-Out Attack On So-Called “Sanctuary Cities” Actually IMPEDE Effective Law Enforcement! — “The bottom line is, you just can’t trust ICE during the Trump administration!”

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=9cb0eda5-8512-4812-9d46-0b07c60a000b

Frank Shyong reports for the LA Times:

“For the better part of a decade, an agency that bilked Chinese immigrant investors out of nearly $50 million operated in plain sight from a storefront in the front lobby of the bustling Hilton San Gabriel hotel.

Their crimes came to light last year after a task force of San Gabriel police and federal immigration officials tracked transactions between Chinese and U.S. banks, conducted cross-border surveillance operations, launched an undercover sting and sought information from the Chinese government.

San Gabriel Valley police departments often use federal partnerships to tackle crimes like these — many of which target vulnerable new immigrants — because they lack the necessary resources, skills and technology to pursue them.

But the largely immigrant communities that they police are starting to protest these partnerships in the wake of aggressive, Trump-era immigration enforcement that has stoked widespread fears over deportations.

On Tuesday, San Gabriel city leaders rescinded a Police Department agreement with immigration officials, citing doubts about the arrangement’s necessity and heightened fears about deportations.

The memorandum of understanding, signed by Police Chief Eugene Harris in December, designates a San Gabriel police detective to act as a customs officer on a task force that investigates various types of immigration-related crimes.

Although the memo states that the designated officer does not have the authority to enforce administrative violations of immigration law, city leaders said the decision should have been brought before the City Council.

The partnership sends the wrong message about the city’s stance toward immigrants, Councilman Jason Pu said. The city’s population is 61% Asian and 25% Latino, and more than half of of all residents are foreign-born. He also asked the City Council to consider a “sanctuary city” resolution at a later meeting.

“The city of San Gabriel embraces our immigrant communities. If the message becomes ‘Come to San Gabriel and get deported,’ it would be devastating to our community and to our businesses,” Pu said.

Harris said the partnership with Homeland Security Investigations was designed to fight crimes, not deport immigrants. Contributing an officer to an HSI task force allowed the department to access federal databases, among other resources.

Councilman John Harrington voted against canceling the agreement and accused other council members of playing politics.

“This sends the message that politics are more important than residents’ safety,” Harrington said.

The news of the agreement was met with alarm in San Gabriel.

Advocacy groups and residents chanted slogans and waved signs before the Tuesday night meeting, which was so crowded that the city was forced to relocate it from City Hall to the nearby San Gabriel Mission Playhouse.

San Gabriel’s agreement was one of dozens that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have struck with local agencies across Southern California, including jurisdictions as small as Monterey Park and as large as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The documents lay out terms for information-sharing, compensation for labor costs and, in some cases, the designation of a local police officer to work on a task force with Homeland Security Investigations, ICE’s criminal investigations arm.

But California’s new “sanctuary state” law largely prohibits the use of local funds and personnel on both criminal and civil immigration enforcement.

Jurisdictions around the state are scrutinizing these agreements and other local collaborations with ICE — and in some cases canceling them.

Pasadena city leaders recently voided an agreement signed by Police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez, saying that it required the signature of the city manager.

Santa Monica also canceled its Police Department’s arrangement with ICE in a letter from the city manager last year, citing concerns about “implied or inadvertent involvement in civil immigration enforcement by the SMPD.”

Oakland city leaders canceled their agreement with ICE after activists learned that two Oakland police officers had stopped traffic during a raid that resulted in the arrests of two people. One was placed in deportation proceedings. Federal officials said the operation was targeting a human trafficking ring, but no criminal charges have been filed.

In Santa Cruz, a criminal investigation targeting gang members also brought about the arrests of several non-gang members for immigration violations. The city police chief, Kevin Vogel, said he was never informed about the possibility of collateral arrests.

“They misled my department as to the actual scope of the operation. I feel like I was lied to,” Vogel said.

ICE officials said they told Vogel that collateral arrests of non-gang members could occur during the operations several days before the raids, which Vogel disputes.

Though Santa Cruz had no agreement with ICE, Vogel warned other police departments to clarify the terms of their cooperation with ICE up front.

“I’m not in a position to tell authorities which laws to enforce,” said Vogel, a 30-year veteran of the Santa Cruz Police Department who retired in June. “But you have to be straight with me if you’re going to come into my city for an operation.”

A detective in San Gabriel has been assigned to an HSI task force since June. The group has arrested two people it says were posing as immigration attorneys in order to charge exorbitant fees for fraudulent legal services. It has also investigated a counterfeit driver’s license and passport operation, and is looking for the owners of 30 Chinese passports discovered in a package.

These cases are typically too small to draw the attention of state and federal law enforcement agencies but too complicated for local police departments to handle with their own resources, Harris said.

Police departments and immigration authorities say these partnerships are strictly for criminal investigations.

But advocates say it may be impossible to ensure these partnerships won’t include what the Trump administration has called “collateral arrests,” or arrests of immigrants who are in the country illegally but are not the target of criminal investigations.

“Even if the original intent is to investigate a crime, if they find neighbors, bystanders that they believe are removable, they will also arrest and detain them,” said Angela Chan of Advancing Justice — Asian Law Caucus, a coauthor of Senate Bill 54, the sanctuary state bill.

Of the 111,000 immigration arrests reported by ICE between Jan. 20 and Sept. 30 of last year, about 8% were collateral arrests. And last year, ICE’s acting director, Thomas Homan, warned that more collateral arrests might be one result of California’s passing a sanctuary state bill.

Agreements like San Gabriel’s, immigrant rights advocates say, often are broadly worded and rarely include any mention of collateral arrests or consequences for violating the agreement, said Ana Muñiz, assistant professor of criminology at UC Irvine.

“On one hand, ICE and HSI can technically comply with agreements, but on the other hand, there are rhetorical and technical loopholes,” Muñiz said.

Police officers working with HSI task forces are “not authorized” to arrest people for administrative violations of immigration law, said Jennifer Reyes, assistant special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles. But immigration officers working on HSI task forces have no such restrictions.

“HSI special agents, however, have the authority to make administrative arrests during criminal investigations as part of enforcing our nation’s laws,” Reyes said.

Harris said he thinks proper oversight of joint operations with immigration authorities could ensure that no local resources are used to enforce immigration law.

Federal, state and local agencies work together to emphasize that public safety is a shared goal across all law enforcement agencies, Harris said.

But cities are increasingly wary of the perception of endorsing the Trump administration’s immigration policies. And some city leaders, like Pu, don’t see ICE and HSI as trustworthy law enforcement partners.

“The bottom line is, you just can’t trust ICE during the Trump administration,” Pu said.”

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Yup. Declaring  “open season” on law-abiding undocumented members of the community (treating them basically the same as criminals and gangsters) and picking fights with local officials is one of the dumbest “law enforcement” strategies I could imagine. Even after the “Trumpsters” eventually depart, ICE might never be able to re-establish trust and credibility in many communities.

PWS

02-09-18

BESS LEVIN @ VANITY FAIR – TRUMP FINDS A NEW WAY TO BE “A JERK” – PLANNING ANOTHER BOGUS ATTACK ON LEGAL IMMIGRANTS BY EXPANDING CONCEPT OF “PUBLIC CHARGE”

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/02/trumps-spending-spree-global-sell-off-hellacious

Bess actually used a more “colorful descriptor” for Trump. But, since this is a “Family Based Blog” I toned it down a bit. You can go on over to the “Levin Report” at Vanity Fair at the above link for the “tell it like it is” version.

Donald Trump finds a new and unique way to be [ a jerk]

They said it couldn’t be done. They said it wasn’t possible. They said how could he, when he’s seemingly exhausted all possible avenues for an achievement like this? They underestimated him, yet again:

The Trump administration is considering making it harder for foreigners living in the United States to get permanent residency if they have received certain public benefits such as food assistance, in a move that could sharply restrict legal immigration. The Department of Homeland Security has drafted proposed new rules seen by Reuters that would allow immigration officers to scrutinize a potential immigrant’s use of certain taxpayer-funded public benefits to determine if they could become a public burden.

For example, U.S. officials could look at whether the applicant has enrolled a child in government pre-school programs or received subsidies for utility bills or health insurance premiums.

The draft, which reads a lot like it was written by senior adviser Stephen “white American males should be a protected class” Miller, states: “Non-citizens who receive public benefits are not self-sufficient and are relying on the U.S. government and state and local entities for resources instead of their families, sponsors or private organizations. An alien’s receipt of public benefits comes at taxpayer expense and availability of public benefits may provide an incentive for aliens to immigrate to the United States.” As a reminder, when the administration was trying to make the case that the U.S. should restrict the number of refugees it allows into the country to the lowest levels since 1980, it conveniently left out data that showed refugees generate $63 billion more in government revenues than they cost over the last decade. So take the latest immigrants are a drain on the economy and preventing us from Making America Great Again screed with a grain of salt.

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Yeah, whatever term you use, Trump and his White Nationalist xenophobic, racist cabal are at it again. Masses of folks coming to the US to get “welfare” is another “restrictionist myth” used to distort the immigration debate, and whip up anti-immigrant sentiment.

PWS

02-09-18

 

DAN KOWALSKI @ LEXISNEXIS: EXPERTS “CALL OUT” TRUMP & GOP RESTRICTIONISTS’ BOGUS CLAIMS ABOUT THE ADVERSE EFFECTS OF FAMILY MIGRATION (Pejoratively Called “Chain Migration” By The Trumpsters)

https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/immigration/b/immigration-law-blog/archive/2018/02/08/experts-debunk-trump-39-s-false-39-chain-migration-39-claims.aspx?Redirected=true

Here’s what Dan posted on LexisNexis Immigration Community:

“Experts Debunk Trump’s False ‘Chain Migration’ Claims

Miriam Valverde, Politifact, Jan. 31, 2018 – “President Donald Trump in his State of the Union address called for tighter control of legal immigration and for an end to “chain migration.”  “Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives,” Trump said Jan. 30. “Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children.” … But there is a long queue for certain relatives seeking to come through family sponsorship. For brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, the waiting period for a visa is over 13 years. … But there are limits on the number of visas issued per year per family category.  More than 3.9 million people were in line for a visa as of Nov. 1, 2017, according to the U.S. State Department. Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens fall under a “fourth-preference” category, which had 2.3 million people waiting for a visa — the wait period is over 13 years for immigrants from most nations, but even longer for some countries with heavy demand, such as Mexico and the Philippines.  Siblings in the Philippines would have to wait at least 23 years for a visa, and Mexican siblings at least 20 years.  “As a practical matter, because of these long backlogs there is not as much chain migration as President Trump claims,” said Stephen W. Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law practice at Cornell Law School.  Trump said “a single immigrant can bring in unlimited numbers of distant relatives.” … Trump’s statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.”

Philip Bump, Washington Post, Feb. 6, 2018 – “As is so often the case with his discussion of immigrants, President Trump’s State of the Union description of “chain migration” — the process by which people in the United States can sponsor family members to join them — was long on fearmongering and short on accuracy.  “The fourth and final pillar protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration,” Trump said of his multipart immigration restructuring proposal. “Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security and our future.”  The idea that curtailing a process to bring in members of an immigrant’s nuclear family protects the nuclear family is one thing. But there is simply no way to defend the claim that “a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.” … Immigrants can’t come to the United States and sponsor 20 cousins who arrive four months later, the sort of ease-of-entry that Trump and the White House seem to imply. At best, an immigrant could bring in a spouse or child — after likely waiting an extended period for that application to be approved.  “You’re looking at years and years of waiting in this legal line,” [past president and past general counsel of the Washington, D.C.-based American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), David W.] Leopold said. “For anyone to say that the continuation of sponsorship based on family relationship is going to lead to an influx of people is either lying or doesn’t understand how the system works.” “

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Go on over to LexisNexis at the above link to get further links to the full articles. Many thinks to Dan for getting “the truth” assembled into one convenient blog.
PWS
02-09-18

POLITICO: JULIA’S CONGRESS: “THE PRESTON GROUP” OF DIVERSE EXPERTS SOLVES THE “DREAMER ISSUE” WITHOUT A BATHROOM BREAK! — Perhaps They Need To Give Congress & The White House A Demo Of How They “Got To Yes!”

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/02/09/how-to-solve-immigration-experts-daca-216954

Julia writes:

. . . .

Members of the Model Congress: To simulate a real immigration negotiation, we tried to select participants from across the policy spectrum—advocates and operatives, defenders of more immigration and proponents of less. In the end, we ended up with a well-rounded expert group of four:

Theresa Cardinal Brown is director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a research group in Washington. She was an immigration policy adviser at the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2008 and the agency’s attaché in Canada under Obama from 2008 to 2011. Before that, she served as director of immigration and border policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Steven Camarota is director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington think tank that seeks less immigration overall and has opposed past measures to legalize undocumented immigrants.

Leon Fresco, an immigration lawyer at Holland and Knight, was previously a staff member for Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he was one of the main drafters of the comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2013.

Tom Jawetz is vice president for immigration at the Center for American Progress, a progressive policy group. As chief counsel to the immigration subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee and adviser to Democrats, he helped negotiate an immigration reform bill in the House in 2014. It never went to a vote.

I acted as the moderator.

. . . .

The makings of a deal: So that’s where our negotiators ended up after two hours: A pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and a 50,000 reduction in visas across several categories that would last for some period of time.

. . . .

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Find out how they got there by going on over to Politico at the above link and reading Julia’s entire report. Most impressive! Julia’s certainly got my vote for President!

PWS

02-09-18

TAL @ CNN: DREAMERS WON’T BE PART OF BUDGET DEAL — What Happens After That Still Up In The Air!

Tal and her colleague Ashley Killough write:

http://www.cnn.com/2018/02/08/politics/bipartisan-senators-immigration-bill/index.html
Bipartisan group of senators scrambling to draft immigration bill
By Ashley Killough and Tal Kopan, CNN
A bipartisan group of roughly 20 senators that’s been huddling behind closed doors for weeks is furiously working to draft a bill that they can propose during an expected floor showdown on immigration next week.
If they are successful, it would mean at least one-fifth of the Senate would have established an influential voting block to shape the debate over immigration and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Emerging from one of their closed-door meetings Thursday, senators said multiple members are drafting language for compromise legislation, though they acknowledged they still don’t have a consensus yet.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, said she would be “shocked” if they didn’t end up introducing their plan next week.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who hosts the meetings in her office on a near-daily basis, said there will “probably” be more than one proposal that emerges from their recent talks that could serve as amendments during next week’s debate, though she added it’s “too early to tell.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to bring up immigration next week in a rare neutral Senate floor debate. The Republican has pledged to allow for amendments from both sides, but it’s still unclear how many amendments either side will be able to offer. And the expectation is any proposal would need 60 votes to succeed, a high bar that may make a major immigration compromise unlikely.
Other groups of senators are expected to introduce amendments as well. The White House also has its own framework, and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn confirmed this week that some Republican lawmakers are working to draft a version based on those bullet points.
The bipartisan group of roughly 20 lawmakers, which calls itself the Common Sense Coalition, is aiming to operate as a voting bloc that can help steer the debate. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, who is working with members of the group said the goal would be to get 60 votes on the bipartisan amendment, and “then that would be it, we’d resist everything else, any other amendments.”
It’s unclear just how many members will make up the coalition in the end. The group could be influential if they vote as a unit, though it’s not clear that everyone would get on board. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, said the number of supporters they have depends on the contours of the proposal. In their negotiations, sometimes a proposal will garner 30 members, while a different proposal will have 20 or 40.
“The challenge with immigration is it’s a very broad range of concerns,” he said.
Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma cautioned that a final deal hasn’t been reached yet. “It’s one thing to edit concepts, it’s another thing to look at language and go, ‘no this doesn’t work,’ and then try to make adjustments from there,” he told reporters.
While the White House wants an immigration bill that focuses on four key pillars — increasing border security, resolving DACA, ending the visa diversity lottery, and heavily curtailing family-based immigration, or chain migration, as they call it, multiple senators stressed that a bill has little chance of passing unless it narrows to just two of those pillars: DACA and border security.
“I think a lot of people are learning that immigration’s complicated. The more we try to do, the more unanswered questions emerge,” said Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who was part of a different group of senators that pushed a much larger immigration bill in 2013. It was passed by the Senate but went nowhere in the House.
Like Rubio, Coons also endorses the concept of a narrower bill. “The challenge is, there’s lot of other proposals that the White House and others want to address,” he said.
The clock, however, is ticking, and the group is hoping to strike a final deal by Monday or Tuesday, roughly when McConnell is expected to kick off the amendment process.
“We don’t have any choice, right?” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire. “Next week’s coming.”

http://www.cnn.com/2018/02/08/politics/budget-deal-anger-daca/index.html
Anger rises from left as DACA left out of budget deal again
By: Tal Kopan, CNN
As a massive bipartisan budget deal moved towards a vote Thursday, temperatures were rising on the left, where Democrats were fuming that — once again — immigration was being left behind.
“Anyone who votes for the Senate budget deal is colluding with this President and this administration to deport Dreamers. It is as simple as that,” said Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a longtime Democratic advocate of immigration reform. Pro-immigration advocacy groups were sending similar messages to Democratic offices as well.
Democrats on the left, especially members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, were frustrated to see a budget deal negotiated that resolved virtually every Democratic priority except a resolution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a policy that protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children that President Donald Trump decided to terminate in September.
The Senate is expected to pass the bill Thursday and send it to the House attached to a continuing resolution to fund the government into March. Government funding expires Thursday at midnight.
The pushback was strong enough that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who was involved in negotiating the compromise, was so moved by the frustration when she presented the deal to her caucus that she took the House floor for a record-breaking eight hours straight on Wednesday, reading stories of DACA recipients.
But that wasn’t enough to satisfy some of her base, and the leadership team sent conflicting messages, saying they weren’t whipping the bill Wednesday, then sending a whip notice to vote no on Thursday. Pelosi also sent a “dear colleague” letter saying Republicans will need Democratic votes to pass the deal in the House and urging her caucus to “be heard,” though not necessarily block its passage.
“House Democrats have a voice here and we must be heard,” Pelosi wrote. “These are the reasons I am voting against this bill.”
But earlier Thursday, Pelosi called it a “good bill” and said she “fought very hard for many of the things that are in there,” even as she said she wouldn’t vote for it.
Pelosi also told members of her caucus planning to vote “yes” on the budget deal not to telegraph those positions in order to maintain leverage, according to two Democratic sources.
Even so, most everyone in Congress believed that the bill had enough votes to pass the House, even among Democrats.
“I think it’s very important for DACA that there be a significant presence of votes against whatever comes over, and not just for DACA, there’s other reasons (to oppose the deal),” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and Hispanic caucus member. “But I anticipate that if 30, 40 Democrats vote for it, it would pass.”

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I can definitely see some House Democratic “protest votes” over the DACA omission. What I can’t see is House Dems joining the “Bakuninists” in the GOP to shut down the Government again.

PWS

02-08-18

TRUMP & RESTRICTIONISTS JUST DON’T “GET” IT: HUMAN MIGRATION IS A DYNAMIC FORCE THAT CAN BE HARNESSED OR CHANNELED, BUT WON’T BE SHUT DOWN BY WALLS, FENCES, ABUSIVE DETENTION, DENIAL OF RIGHTS, KANGAROO COURTS, SUMMARY REMOVAL, OR OTHER INTENTIONALLY “NASTY” ENFORCEMENT MEASURES – “But migrants and advocates said they were driven to cross the border more by conditions in Central America — gang violence and economic downturns — than by U.S. policies. “Many of these countries, you just cannot live in them,” said Ruben Garcia of El Paso’s Annunciation House shelter. “People will tell you ‘It’s just dangerous to walk around in our neighborhood.’ ” – WE CAN DIMINISH OURSELVES AS A NATION, BUT THAT WON’T HALT HUMAN MIGRATION!

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=2b1d32e6-30fa-40dc-8203-88f9b77b1203

 

Molly Hennessy-Fiske reports for the LA Times:

“McALLEN, Texas — Illegal crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border, after declining in early 2017, began an unexpected upturn last spring that only recently receded, according to new government figures.

The figures reflect the up-and-down nature of illegal immigration and are reminders that multiple factors — from politics to weather to conditions in home countries — influence who tries to come to the United States and when.

Apprehensions on the southern border in October 2016, a month before Donald Trump’s election, topped 66,000. After Trump’s victory, the number of migrants trying to enter the U.S. illegally reached a 17-year low.

Monthly apprehensions continued to drop into 2017, hitting 15,766 in April, when the downward trend reversed. Apprehensions rose each month to 40,513 in December. Migrant advocates said the “Trump effect” discouraging illegal immigration might be wearing off.

But last month, apprehensions decreased again. It’s not clear whether the post-holiday decrease is seasonal, or whether it will continue.

There were 35,822 migrants apprehended on the southern border in January, according to figures released Wednesday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. That’s not as many as in December, but it’s more than were apprehended each month last February to October.

The number of families and unaccompanied children caught crossing the border, which rose nearly every month since last spring, also dropped slightly last month to 25,980, but remained more than twice April’s total, 11,127.

In releasing the numbers Wednesday, Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton noted the apprehension figures for children and families were still high.

“Front-line personnel are required to release tens of thousands of unaccompanied alien children and illegal family units into the United States each year due to current loopholes in our immigration laws. This month we saw an unacceptable number of UACs [unaccompanied children] and family units flood our border because of these catch and release loopholes,” he said. “To secure our borders and make America safer, Congress must act to close these legal loopholes that have created incentives for illegal immigrants.”

In Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, so many migrant families with small children arrive daily — more than 15,500 family members so far this fiscal year — that volunteers at a local shelter set up a play area in the corner.

When the number of unaccompanied migrant children caught crossing began to increase in April, fewer than 1,000 were apprehended a month. By last month, that had grown to 3,227. The number of family members caught crossing grew even faster during that time, from 1,118 in April to 5,656 last month.

When Elvis Antonio Muniya Mendez arrived at the shelter last month from Honduras with his 15-year-old son, the playpen was packed with the children of 100 fellow Central American migrants caught crossing the border illegally and released that day. Muniya, 36, had fled a gang that killed his 26-year-old brother the month before. He was hoping to join another brother in Indiana. He and his son were released with a notice to appear in immigration court, which he planned to attend.

“I want to live here legally, without fear,” he said.

Trump administration officials have proposed detaining more families, but that’s not happening in the Rio Grande Valley, where many are released like Muniya with notices to appear in court. The shelter where Muniya stopped, Sacred Heart, saw the number of migrants arriving drop at the end of last year only to increase recently, said the director, Sister Norma Pimentel.

“I’ve never seen so many children be part of this migration,” Pimentel said.

Children who cross the border unaccompanied by an adult are sheltered by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement and placed with relatives or other sponsors in the U.S. The agency has about 9,900 shelter beds at various facilities. As of this week, the agency was sheltering 7,800 youths.

Children who cross the border with a parent may be released with notices to appear in court or held at special family detention centers.

Trump administration officials have proposed detaining more of the families. But space is limited. As of Monday, the detention centers held 1,896 people. Only one of them can hold fathers, and attorneys said it’s always full, so men who cross with children are often released with a notice to appear in court.

Advocates for greater restrictions on immigration say more needs to be done to hold parents who cross with their children accountable. They say such parents put their children at risk by making the dangerous journey. Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge now serving as a resident fellow in law and policy at the conservative Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, said the way migrants are treated on the border encourages family migration.

“The reason the children are there to begin with is this belief that a parent with a child will not be detained,” Arthur said. That assumption, he said, is wrong.

He said Congress and the Trump administration’s unwillingness to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has also encouraged migrant families to make the trip now in hopes of benefiting from a “DACA amnesty,” even though the program is limited to those who grew up in the U.S.

But migrants and advocates said they were driven to cross the border more by conditions in Central America — gang violence and economic downturns — than by U.S. policies.

“Many of these countries, you just cannot live in them,” said Ruben Garcia of El Paso’s Annunciation House shelter. “People will tell you ‘It’s just dangerous to walk around in our neighborhood.’ ”

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Quite contrary to Tyler Houlton, the Trump Administration, and the restrictionists, this isn’t about “loopholes” in the law! Individuals arriving at our borders have a right to apply for asylum and they have a right to receive Due Process and fair treatment in connection with those “life or death” applications.

But for the purposely convoluted decisions of the BIA, individuals resisting gang violence would be “slam dunk” asylum, withholding of removal, or Convention Against Torture (“CAT”) cases. If we just screened them for crimes or gang connections and granted their applications, they could easily be absorbed by our country.

But, even if we don’t want to interpret “protection laws” to actually grant much protection, we could devise humanitarian relief short of asylum or full legal status that would allow individuals whose lives were in danger to find safety in the U.S. Or, we could work with the sending countries, the UNHCR, and other countries in the Americas to solve the problem of “safe havens.”

While the Trump Administration largely ignores the lessons of history and what happens abroad, one has only to look at the “European example” to see the inevitable failure of the restrictionist agenda. The European Union has done everything within it power to” slam the door” on refugees, make them feel unwelcome, unwanted, threatened, and targets for repatriation regardless of the harm that might befall them. But, still determined refugees continue to risk their lives to flee to Europe.

What the restrictive policies have accomplished is to force more refugees to use the services of professional smugglers, and to attempt more dangerous routes. Killing more refugees en route does somewhat reduce the flow — at the cost of the humanity of the nations involved.

Likewise, although border apprehensions were down last year, deaths of migrants crossing the Southern Border were up. See e.g., “US-Mexico border migrant deaths rose in 2017 even as crossings fell, UN says,” The Guardianhttps://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/06/us-mexico-border-migrant-deaths-rose-2017

I suspect that the increase in deaths has to do with more individuals having to use the services of professional smugglers, who are more unscrupulous than “Mom & Pop” and “Do It Yourself” operations, and smugglers having to use more dangerous routes to avoid increased border security.

I suppose that restrictionists can be cheered by the fact that more individuals will be killed coming to and into the United States, thus decreasing the overall  flow of unwanted human beings. But 1) it won’t stop people from coming, and 2) I doubt that finding way to kill more refugees will look that good in historical perspective.

As one of my colleagues told me early on in my career as an Immigration Judge: “Desperate people do desperate things!” That’s not going to change, no matter how much the restrictionists want to believe that institutional cruelty, inhumanity, “sending messages,” denying legal rights, and “get tough tactics” can completely squelch the flow of human migration. However, it certainly can squelch the flame of our own humanity.

PWS

02-08-18