SURPRISE: GONZO LIES! — MISREPRESENTS DOJ’S CRIME STATS!

http://www.newsweek.com/jeff-sessions-crime-statistics-misrepresented-747409

Josh Saul reports for Newsweek:

“While delivering a speech in Baltimore on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions misrepresented Department of Justice statistics in claiming there had been a 13 percent spike in the violent crime rate. The report he was citing clearly said there had been no measurable change.

Sessions started his speech on one of his favorite themes: what he sees as a troubling increase in violent crime. He noted the high rates of rape and murder in Baltimore, and reminded the audience that on the day he was sworn in, President Donald Trump ordered him to reduce crime in America.

“Violent crime is up in many places across the country,” Sessions said. “Last week, the department released its annual National Crime Victimization Survey. It shows that the rate of Americans victimized by violent crime is up more than 13 percent.”

That 13 percent figure comes from comparing the rates of violent crime in 2015 (18.6 victimizations per 1,000 people) to rates in 2016 (21.1 per 1,000).

But the report for the 2016 National Crime Victimization Survey says on its first page that the 2016 data aren’t comparable to those for past years. And among the geographical areas that can be accurately compared, there was no increase in violent crime between 2015 and 2016.
That’s because the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an agency within the Justice Department, in 2016 changed the counties and cities it surveys in order to better reflect U.S. Census data. And because the new areas included in the 2016 survey had higher rates of violent crime than the areas they replaced, any comparison between the two years would show an artificial increase in the violent crime rate.

“The National Crime Victimization Survey sample went through a routine redesign in 2016, which resulted in the 2016 data not being comparable to data from prior years,” the survey released last week states on its first page. “Among counties that remained in sample from the previous design, there was no measurable change in the rates of violent, serious violent, or property crime from 2015 to 2016.”

Grace Kena, one of the BJS statisticians who wrote the report on the 2016 National Crime Victim Survey, reiterated that it isn’t appropriate to compare the two years.

“It’s apples and oranges,” Kena told Newsweek of the violent crime rate in the two surveys. “The only comparison that can be made is there was no change, statistically speaking, in violent crime rates.… In those counties that remained in the survey, the rate between those two years was stable.”

The National Crime Victim surveys focus on a representative sample of Americans aged 12 and older. The surveys are different from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program, which is based on the number of crimes reported by local law enforcement agencies.

A Justice Department spokesman said the 13 percent figure Sessions used in Baltimore was accurate given the violent crime numbers per 1,000 people in 2015 and 2016.

“The survey shows an increase in the violent crime victimization rate both in the counties that remained in the sample and between the outgoing 2015 sampled counties and the new 2016 sampled counties,” spokesman Ian Prior told Newsweek in an email.

“The survey confirms what we’ve seen in the FBI’s uniform crime report, which finds an increase in violent crime and an increase in murders over the last two years. These trends are troubling, and this administration is committed to reversing them and making our neighborhoods and communities safer.”

Both Trump and Sessions have been accused at times of misusing crime statistics to achieve political goals like building a border wall or passing strict immigration and “tough on crime” policies.

“The murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years, right? Did you know that? Forty-seven years,” Trump said during a White House roundtable with local sheriffs in February. (Politifact rated that statement as “False” and noted the murder rate was much higher in the early 1990s.)

In a Washington Post opinion piece in September titled, “Sessions’s big lie on crime,” conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin highlighted a new study that contradicted the Trump administration’s argument that the U.S. was in the midst of a crime wave.

“Sessions is entitled, within legal and constitutional limits, to change enforcement policies for the federal government,” Rubin wrote. “He should not, however, use a blatant lie to justify such moves.”

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This is getting tiresome. We shouldn’t normalize intentional misrepresentations and incredible, facially ridiculous explanations from our nation’s top lawyer in support of his anti-American White Nationalist agenda!

Gonzo is a racist, a White Nationalist, a homophobe, xenophobe, bully, and congenital liar. Even with Franken gone, it’s time for Democrats to demand an investigation by the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General.

Unless that investigation provides a plausible justification for Gonzo’s facially dishonest conduct, he should be removed from the office for which he is so spectacularly unqualified. Someone should also notify the Alabama Bar so that they can commence the process for revoking his license to practice law.

Then, the Democrats should prevail on two of their more moderate GOP colleagues to block the appointment of any more political hacks to the job. The DOJ deserves a qualified lawyer of integrity for its leader.

Dreamers, TPSers, and the overwhelming majority of so-called undocumented individuals are making positive contributions to America every day. Gonzo, not so much.

PWS

12-12-17

START YOUR WEDNESDAY WITH SOME UPLIFTING BREAKING NEWS – IT’S A GREAT DAY FOR THE USA: 1) Alabama Comes Through For U.S. By Electing Democrat Doug Jones To US Senate; 2) Aaron Rodgers Cleared To Return To Pack & Will Start Against The Carolina Panthers on Sunday! –- “Ayatollah Roy” Will Not Be Bringing His Agenda Of Bigotry, Hate, & Un-American Views & His Total Scumbag Persona To Washington – One Of America’s Favorite — & Most Fun To Watch – Sports Stars Will Return To “Primetime!”

First, we can all thank Senator Elect Doug Jones and the voters of Alabama for saving America from the horrible spectacle and damage that would have been caused by the election of the heinous bigot, liar, slanderer, racist, homophobe, xenophobe, theocrat of a false religion, coward, scofflaw, and apparent sexual predator Roy Moore. Jones’s election is a striking rebuke to that other sleazy, corrupt, dishonest, bigoted unrepentant sexual predator in America, Trump. And, by narrowing the GOP advantage in the Senate to a razor-thin 51-49, it raises the possibility that the Democrats with the help of just two responsible Republicans could block substantial parts of Trump’s and the GOP’s insane “War on America” and protect us from some of Trump’s worst excesses.

How ironic that White Nationalist and “Jim Crow relic” Attorney General Jeff “Gonzo Apocalyopto” Sessions is being replaced by a by a competent and decent person who believes in American democracy and governing for the “common good” rather than as an out of touch ideologue with a strong anti-American, anti-Diversity, hate promoting agenda.

It’s also ironic that Jones has done the GOP a favor by relieving them of the lengthy circus of both expelling him from their party and ultimately removing him from the Senate. Anything short of that would have been a continuing embarrassment for the party. Quite contrary to Trump’s outrageous statements in support of the Ayatollah, any vote that a party wins because of support of a total scumbag like Moore damages that party as well as our country. (It does, however, raise in my mind the question of when they are going to expel the anti-American, racist, bigot Steve King from their party. There is no room in any major party for the likes of King.)

Hats off to the African-American community in Alabama who were not deterred by the Sessions/GOP voter suppression anti-Civil Rights initiatives and showed up in the numbers required to make a difference in the election. After being shut out of their fair share of political power in Alabama for over 300 years, African-Americans are finally in a position to make their voices and feelings heard in the U.S. Senate.

Also, hats off to GOP Southern Senators Richard Shelby of Alabama and Tim Scott of South Carolina for standing up and “Just Saying No” to the Moore nonsense. As pointed out by Shelby, Alabama could do better than Ayatollah Roy (not a very high hurdle), and they now have in the person of Doug Jones.

Hopefully, Jones will over time find a way to “win over” most of those misguided souls who voted for Ayatollah Roy notwithstanding the very credible evidence of sexual misconduct with minors in his past, his arrogant “not credible” defense, the clear lies that he told in attempting to smear those who came forward, and his scofflaw, anti-American views. What a jerk!

Here’s the Washington Post’s editorial on Jones’s stunning upset:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/thank-you-alabama/2017/12/12/176388de-df64-11e7-bbd0-9dfb2e37492a_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-d%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.4ea2f1920de1

“THANK YOU, Alabama.

In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alabama, seemingly confirming every negative stereotype about the Deep South state, the shame would have been national. Instead, Alabama voters chose Democrat Doug Jones to represent them until 2021.

Mr. Jones is not in perfect sync with many Alabama voters on some issues, most notably abortion. But he is an honorable man with an admirable record of public service who ran a respectful campaign. His behavior suggests he will serve with decency and care in the Senate. He should make his state proud. None of these fine things could have been said of Mr. Moore. It is beyond heartening that Alabamians refused to overlook or forgive Mr. Moore’s misshapen character.

Mr. Jones’s victory shows that, while partisanship might be extreme, it still has limits. Even in deep-red Alabama, enough voters refused to succumb to lies about how negative stories on Mr. Moore were merely fake news cooked up by a hostile media.

Americans do not send senators to Washington merely to vote mechanically on a few hot-button issues, but to exercise judgment when cameras are not rolling, on issues that are important but not headline-grabbing. Good lawmakers also protect the nation’s democratic institutions, preserve the independence of their branch of government and work with people with whom they disagree. It takes character to fulfill these responsibilities. Mr. Jones seems ready to do such work. Mr. Moore did not.

Mr. Jones’s victory also suggests that the nation’s recent awakening on sexual harassment and assault is spreading across the country. Enough Alabamians believed the women.

If Americans should feel grateful to Alabama voters, so should the Republican Party, much of which debased itself by following President Trump into the gutter of support for Mr. Moore. Its majority in the Senate will be slightly narrower, but the dignity of the Senate GOP caucus will be at least partially salvaged. Alabama voters spared the Senate Ethics Committee the dilemma of how to handle a senator who was clearly unfit but who nevertheless won a popular election. Instead of inviting controversy and chaos, they elected Mr. Jones, a man who deserves the honor.

Thanks to Alabama, Americans can wake up Wednesday morning feeling hopeful about the decency and dignity of their democracy.”

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

On to the other big story, Aaron Rodgers (“AR”). AR’s recovery from a broken collarbone which required surgery, two plates, and 13 screws is about as amazing as Jones’s victory.

AR is a smart player, tough guy, and great competitor. It’s certainly possible that he will be able to lead the Pack (currently 7-6 and “on the outside looking in” for a playoff spot) to a sweep of the final three games and a possible playoff birth. But, certainly no “slam dunk!”

The O line will have to do a perfect job of protecting AR. He will have to suppress his tendency to run with the football when nobody is open and the Pack needs a first down.

If the Pack should lose to the Panthers on Sunday, they will have to make a decision on whether to play AR in the final two games. A defeat would pretty much end any realistic hope of the playoffs this year. So, it might make sense to let backup Brett Hundley (3-4 as a starter in AR’s absence) start the last two games. On the other hand, being the competitor that he is, AR will want to play.

Congrats to AR on his return, good luck, and stay tuned.

Here’s a report from the Green Bay Press Gazette on AR’s return:

http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/2017/12/12/silence-prevails-packers-ponder-aaron-rodgers-decision/943774001/

“The news catapults the Packers’ playoff chances from a pipe dream to a legitimate possibility with three games remaining. Conventional wisdom says the Packers must win all three — at Carolina, vs. Minnesota and at Detroit — to have a chance at a wild card in the top-heavy NFC. Accomplishing that feat with Brett Hundley at quarterback was unlikely after he won just three games in seven starts; but with Rodgers the odds shift dramatically.

Beginning Wednesday, Rodgers will have three days of practice to prepare for his first game since Oct. 15, when a hit from Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr resulted in a broken right collarbone. Rodgers underwent surgery in California to stabilize the fracture, and the Packers ultimately placed him on injured reserve. He returned to practice on a limited basis Dec. 2 and spent the last two weeks running the scout team, dazzling his teammates each day.

His initial return meant nothing, though, if Rodgers could not be medically cleared. He underwent a series of scans Monday to reveal the progress of his collarbone, and the interpretations of those scans by team physician Patrick McKenzie, several outside specialists and general manager Ted Thompson would determine whether the risk of further injury would be worth the reward of having Rodgers for a potential playoff run.

For a while it appeared bleak. Monday came and went with nothing but party-line comments by coach Mike McCarthy, who reiterated during a news conference that any decision on Rodgers’ future would be made by medical professionals. That Rodgers spun the football during pregame at Heinz Field or zinged passes in the Don Hutson Center was irrelevant, just as his assistant coaching efforts in Cleveland did nothing but reinforce his passion.

With Tuesday morning came additional silence, and social media wondered if the lengthy delay lessened Rodgers’ chances of returning. But the results of his scans were sent to specialists around the country, in multiple time zones, and the coordination of gathering various opinions certainly influenced the timeline. It’s quite possible that Rodgers’ surgeon in California, who at this point is unidentified, had a large say in the discussion.

If nothing else, the painstaking deliberation surrounding Rodgers’ health captures the importance of franchise quarterbacks, and in particular elite franchise quarterbacks. In breadth alone the discussion might have stretched to a dozen people: McKenzie, Thompson, McCarthy, the doctor who performed surgery, several outside experts and, of course, Rodgers himself. The crew needed 36 hours to probe the conundrum from various angles.

Everything started, of course, with the fairly black-and-white question of whether Rodgers’ collarbone had calcified since two plates and 13 screws were inserted to stabilize the fracture eight weeks ago. Enough time had passed for the bone to heal significantly, though perhaps not entirely, and therein lies the gray area for whoever reviewed the scans. How sturdy must his collarbone be to withstand the punishment of 300-pound defensive linemen or hard-charging linebackers?

There were also football questions that clouded the equation. At 7-6, the Packers must win out to have a realistic shot at the playoffs — and even then, they could fall short. Why risk Rodgers’ throwing shoulder when the Packers don’t control their postseason destiny? Surely that question irked the conscience of Thompson, whose conservative disposition is well-documented in Green Bay.

One has to wonder if the two-day uncertainty weighed on Hundley as well. With Sunday’s win over the Browns came the cleansing exhale of accomplishing his primary job: keeping the Packers in playoff contention until Rodgers was eligible to return. He achieved that feat with consecutive overtime victories that cast light on his moxie.

But narrow escapes against the Browns and Buccaneers bear little resemblance to the challenge of the next three weeks. To beat the Panthers (9-4), Vikings (10-3) and Lions (7-6) — two of which are on the road — the Packers will need reinforcements.

As it turns out, that’s just what the doctor ordered.”

Not often these days that we get to wake up to good news. Go Doug, go AR, go Pack, go America!

PWS

12/13/17

LAUREN & TAL @ CNN: Dreamer Relief Still Appears Likely, But Maybe Not This Year! — Pressure Shifts To Dems!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/12/politics/democrats-daca-shutdown-plan/index.html

Lauren Fox & Tal Kopan report for CCN;

“For Democrats, a tough choice on DACA
By: Lauren Fox and Tal Kopan, CNN
With just two weeks until Congress is expected to leave town, the fate of roughly 700,000 young immigrants still hangs in the balance.
And, it could be up to Senate Democrats now to decide whether they will make protections for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients a condition of their support for a must-pass spending bill or punt the issue to next year when they still have months to work it out.
There’s a whole host of issues that must be dealt with by the end of the year including reauthorizing a spying program, funding disaster relief and paying for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which has all sparked questions about whether Democrats will insist DACA also be included in that list of year-end spending priorities.
“There’s no reason it can’t get done, but there’s a lot that needs to be done in the next 10 days,” Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, a member of the Senate Democrats’ leadership, said about DACA on Monday evening. “We have the CHIP re-authorization, we need the budget numbers, we have to have some decisions on a number of things.”
Asked if Democrats would reject a spending bill that punted DACA to January, independent Maine Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats, said, “I can’t answer that.”
Republican leaders have thrown cold water on the idea that a DACA deal could get attached to a year-end spending package, leading to questions about whether Democrats — under pressure from their base — would shut down the government over a program that doesn’t begin to expire fully until March. Activists and some Democratic members point out that the must-pass spending deadline could be the party’s best opportunity to exert pressure on Republicans who don’t want a government shutdown to occur when they control all levers of government.
“That’s a complex question that’s not amenable to a simple answer. There’s a whole lot of things that are not resolved right now. Republicans control the whole government — House, Senate and White House. We are what, 69, 70 days past CHIP authorization. I’ve got folks pressing every day on wildfire relief, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico … CHIP and Dreamers,” said Sen. Chris Coons of Deleware, a Democrat. “I think we ought to be able to fix all of that, and if it takes another week or two to resolve all of those, I think folks will forgive us. But I don’t think we should go home or close out the year without a clear path to resolving it.”
Most Democrats in the Senate say they are optimistic that an immigration bill will be passed by the end of the year or close to it and that they’ll never be forced to decide between funding the government or giving certainty to DACA recipients. But, with fewer than two weeks until Congress faces its spending deadline and no real, concrete compromise on DACA at this point, it’s unclear how Democrats will proceed if they are faced with no solutions for young immigrants.
“There’s still some negotiations going on between some Democrats and some Republicans about how to get this done,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire. “I’m hopeful that will produce a positive outcome.”
Talks have circled for months on a fix to DACA, but sticking points remain. Working groups and bipartisan negotiations have formed and faltered in both chambers, with some continuing under the radar even as leadership focuses on bigger picture issues like tax reform and spending cap negotiations. On the House side, rank-and-file members in the Problem Solvers Caucus are trying to reach a bipartisan compromise, while Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois continues to negotiate with a range of Republicans interested in a deal on the Senate side.
Pressure has been increasing on leadership from both sides as the end of the year looms. Democrats on the left, especially Congressional Hispanic Caucus members in the House, have pushed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California to hold firm on wanting something by the end of the year. Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez said it would be a “betrayal” to push the fight until January, and just last week Pelosi pledged to not go home for the year without a fix.
Moderate Republicans have also sought to push their leadership for a fix by the end of the year, with nearly three dozen House Republicans urging House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to come up with a solution by then. But on the other side, conservatives like the House Freedom Caucus have also threatened a political price if Ryan were to attach a deal to a spending package.
In private, Democratic staff have been concerned about being able to reach a compromise by the end of the year, and whether Republicans will cave in the face of a potential shutdown, potentially forcing Democrats’ hand. Still, at least one Senate Democratic aide on Monday remained optimistic, saying back room talks were making more progress than public posturing might indicate.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, who has been working on a DACA deal, said he wouldn’t negotiate publicly about what Democrats will do if a deal isn’t reached by the end of the year, but that his group continues to work.
“It should have been done five months ago,” the Vermont Democrat said.
Throughout the entire process, President Donald Trump has remained the mystery. Lawmakers know that his blessing could allow a deal to happen rapidly — while his public opposition to a deal could prove its death knell. The President had spoken favorably in September about DACA recipients and pushed Congress to reach a deal, but in recent weeks ne has taken to hardline rhetoric on illegal immigration and blaming Democrats for crime.
Republicans — who do support a fix to DACA — say that it’s still an open question whether a deal will come together by the holiday, but that no matter what, they hope to see Republicans and Democrats come together to keep the government funded.
“I support marrying up DACA reform to border security and a break in chain migration on the spending bill,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina. “I support that. I’m not going to shut down the government over it.”

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

What’s going to happen with DACA was a major area of concern on the Spanish language radio programs I did in Richmond, VA last Friday. As I said on radio, I remain “cautiously optimistic” on an eventual legislative solution for “Dreamers.” But, probably not before the end of this year. Stay tuned! And many thanks to Tal & Lauren for staying “on top” of this story which is so important for so many!

PWS

12-12-17

THIRD WORLD AMERICA! – THE ATTACK OF THE SWAMP RATS! — Under Trump’s GOP, Americans Now Correctly View White House As The Most Corrupt Institution — But, Who Are The Fools Who Voted These Immoral Jokers Into Control?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2017/12/12/report-americans-view-trump-white-house-as-the-most-corrupt-government-institution/

Josh Rogin reports in the Washington Post:

“Almost half of Americans believe that corruption is pervasive in the White House under President Trump, a sharp increase over last year, according to a new survey. Americans now see Trump and his top officials as the most corrupt public officials in government, despite his campaign pledge to drain the swamp.

A new report out Tuesday compiled by Transparency International, the leading nonprofit organization tracking corruption worldwide, shows Americans have significantly lost faith that their government is ably fighting corruption, compared to last year. Overall, Washington-based government institutions are viewed by Americans are more corrupt than those outside the Beltway, the report found. But the Trump White House tops the list.

According to the group’s 2017 U.S. Corruption Barometer, 44 percent of respondents said that most or all of the officials in the office of the president are corrupt, up from 38 percent at the end of Obama’s second term.

Members of Congress are seen as the second most corrupt group of government officials of the nine categories in the survey, with 38 percent of Americans viewing them as mostly or all corrupt. After that, Americans perceive corruption as pervasive in non-White House government officials, business executives, local officials and business leaders in decreasing proportions. Only 16 percent of respondents viewed judges and magistrates as mostly or all corrupt, according to the data.

Meanwhile, 69 percent of respondents said the U.S. government is fighting corruption “fairly badly” or “very badly,” up from 51 percent in 2016. More than half of respondents said people don’t report corruption due to fear of retaliation.

Transparency International defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.” Key issues within that definition include the influence of wealthy individuals over government, “pay for play” politics, revolving doors between government and corporate entities and the abuse of the financial system by elites.

The perception of Trump and his top officials as being corrupt is easy to understand. Trump and his family have scores of well-documented conflicts of interest they have dealt with in an opaque manner. Meanwhile, Trump’s failure to divest fully from his businesses, combined with his failure to release his tax returns, has fueled suspicions.

The phone survey, performed by the company Efficience3, included interviews of 1,005 randomly selected Americans in October and November. The data were weighted to be demographically representative of all American adults by age, race, gender, urbanization, social grade and ethnicity.

Zoe Reiter, Transparency International’s U.S. representative, said that the study was meant to form a basis for understanding how government is failing to uphold high anti-corruption standards and provide a call to action for Americans to respond. She pointed out that 74 percent of respondents said they believed ordinary people still can make a difference.

“The good news is a majority of Americans feel empowered to fight corruption,” she said. “Since our elected officials are failing to deliver, we need to figure out a way to push them much harder to take these issues more seriously.”

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Read the rest of the article at the link.

There is some disconnect here, because some of the folks who now are concerned about corruption voted for Trump and the GOP, despite more than ample public evidence of his endemic dishonesty, congenital lying, incompetence, and general immorality. Garbage in — garbage out!

But, the answer to the problem is still pretty obvious:

  • Vote Trump and his corrupt cronies out of office;
  • Dismantle the current version of the GOP, which has become an “aider and abettor” of corruption, greed, immorality, and bad government.

Yes, we could and should have a viable two-party system. But, no major party should include horrible immoral individuals like Donald Trump, “Ayatollah Roy,” Steve King, Stephen Miller, or Steve Bannon whose views are deeply Anti-American and threatening to our continued existence as a nation and to the entire free world!

PWS

12-12-17

 

EXPOSED! — AILA’S JOHNSON SHOWS HOW “GONZO” INTENTIONALLY MISUSES DATA TO CREATE A FALSE ANTI-ASYLUM, ANTI-LAWYER NARRATIVE TO CONCEAL THE REAL GLARING PROBLEM DRIVING US IMMIGRATION COURT BACKLOGS — AIMLESS DOCKET RESHUFFLING (“ADR”) DRIVEN BY POLITICOS ATTEMPTING TO STACK THE COURT SYSTEM AGAINST DUE PROCESS AND TILT IT IN FAVOR OF DHS/ADMINISTRATION ENFORCEMENT INITIATIVES!!!!!!! — SURPRISE — By Far The Biggest Increase In Continuances Comes From DHS & EOIR Itself!

http://www.aila.org/advo-media/press-releases/2017/ag-sessions-cites-flawed-facts-imm-court-system

From AILA Executive Director Ben Johnson:

“Once again, the Attorney General cites flawed facts to castigate the immigration bar for the significant case backlog and inefficiencies in our immigration court system,” said Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director. “He blames immigration attorneys for seeking case continuances, disregarding the fact that continuances are also routinely requested by counsel for the government, or are issued unilaterally by the court for administrative reasons. In fact, although the report cited by the Attorney General indicates an 18% increase in continuances requested by respondents, that same report found a 54% increase in continuances requested by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and a 33% increase in ‘Operational-related’ continuances. That said, continuances are often a necessary means to ensure due process is afforded in removal proceedings. The number one reason a continuance is requested by a respondent is to find counsel. Other reasons include securing and authenticating documentary evidence from foreign countries, or to locating critical witnesses. And when the government refuses to share information from a client’s immigration file and instead makes them go through the lengthy process of a Freedom of Information/Privacy Act request, a continuance is often a client’s only lifeline to justice. For the AG to blame immigration lawyers for imagined trespasses is both malicious and wrong. We will not let that misinformation pass without setting the record straight.

“The immigration court backlog is a function of years and years of government spending on enforcement without a commensurate investment in court resources. Our nation would be better served if the immigration courts were an independent judiciary, free from the auspices of the Department of Justice, where every immigrant has access to counsel. Immigration court is not small claims court or traffic court; each decision has the potential to tear apart families or keep them together, to destroy businesses or build our economy, to send someone back to certain death, or bring hope for a new and better life. Immigration judges should make those decisions with all information at hand, without any undue influence or arbitrary case completion requirements. That is a goal we can all work toward.”

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Sure matches my observations from the latter part of my career at the U.S. immigration Court in Arlington, VA!

Probably 75% of the cases on my “Non-Detained Docket” were there NOT at the request of a respondent or his or her attorney. No, they were “mass transferred and continued” to my docket unilaterally by EOIR to fulfill “Border Priorities” established by the DOJ during the Obama Administration as an adjunct to changing DHS Enforcement priorities.

And, these weren’t “short continuances” to find a lawyer or prepare an application as might be requested by a respondent or a private bar lawyer. NO, these were “Merits Hearing” cases that had often been set for late 2016 or 2017 hearings before one of my colleagues, only to be “continued” by EOIR to my docket for dates many additional years in the future. Indeed, many of these cases were unilaterally removed by EOIR from “Individual Dockets” and “orbited” to my “Master Calendars” (arraignments) years in the future — indeed years after I would be retired. That’s because my docket was already completely full for several years when this chapter of ADR started.

And the same was true for my colleague Judge Lawrence O. Burman. Indeed, at the time I retired, Judge Burman and I were the ONLY judges hearing “nonpriority, non-detained cases” — even though those cases were BY FAR the majority of cases on the Arlington Court Docket. And, to make things worse, my “replacement” retired at the end of 2016 thus resulting in a whole new “round” of ADR. 

Talk about ADR driven by incompetent administration and improper political meddling from the DOJ. And, from everything “Gonzo” has said and I have heard about what’s happening at EOIR, such impropriety has become “normalized” under the Trump Administration.

No court system can run efficiently and fairly when the perceived interests of one of the parties are elevated over fairness, Due Process, equal justice, and reaching correct decisions under the law. No court system can run efficiently and fairly when control over day-to-day dockets is stripped from the local US Immigration Judges and Court Administrators and hijacked by officials in Washington and Falls Church driven by political performance objectives  not by practical knowledge and day-to-day considerations of how to construct and run a docket for maximum fairness and efficiency under local conditions (the most important of which is the an adequate number of pro bono lawyers to represent respondents).

NO OTHER MAJOR COURT SYSTEM IN AMERICA OPERATES THE WAY EOIR DOES! THAT SHOULD TELL US SOMETHING!

So, why is “Gonzo Apocalypto” being allowed to get away with misrepresenting the facts and intentionally running the Immigration Court system for the perceived benefit of one of the parties and against the interests of the other? There is a simple term for such conduct: Ethical Misconduct. Usually, it results in the loss or suspension of the offender’s license to practice law. Why is Gonzo above accountability?

PWS

12-12-17

WASHINGTON POST: “DEATH PENALTY IN TRAFFIC COURT” — BIG STAKES, LITTLE COURTS, FLAWED PROCEDURES, IMPROPER POLITICAL INFLUENCE, SOME JUDGES WHO FAIL TO PROTECT INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS LEAD TO LIFE-THREATENING ERRORS ON A DAILY BASIS IN OVERWHELMED U.S. IMMIGRATION COURTS. — What If YOU or YOUR Loved Were On Trial In This Godforsaken Corner Of Our Justice System Controlled By Jeff “Gonzo Aocalypto” Sessions!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-mexican-journalists-life-hangs-in-the-balance/2017/12/11/9783ab1a-deac-11e7-8679-a9728984779c_story.html

The WashPost Editorial Board writes:

“As he awaits his fate in a remote Texas jail, Mr. Gutierrez, 54, remains convinced of the peril he faces if deported to his native country. “My life depends on this [appeal],” he said by telephone in a news conference organized Monday by the National Press Club. “I’m terrified to set foot in Mexico.”

The judge who denied asylum in the case, Robert S. Hough, pointed to an absence of documentary and testimonial corroboration of Mr. Gutierrez’s claim. The woman who relayed word of the alleged death threat did not come forward; neither did Mr. Gutierrez’s former boss at the newspaper for which he worked in Chihuahua. Much of Mr. Gutierrez’s case comes down to his word.

Nonetheless, the judge’s cut-and-dried application of the law fails to take into account conditions in Mexico generally and the peril faced there by journalists in particular. It’s not surprising that Mr. Gutierrez cannot recover copies of his articles, written more than a decade ago for a regional newspaper. Nor is it unusual that witnesses are reluctant to come forward, given the fear with which many Mexicans regard the security forces.

As a U.N. report published this month concluded, citing the deaths, disappearances and attacks on dozens of journalists tallied by Mexico’s Human Rights Commission, “The data . . . presents a picture for the situation of journalists in Mexico that cannot be described as other than catastrophic.” Against that background, it seems cavalier to dismiss the threat Mr. Gutierrez faces should he be deported to Mexico. He should be granted asylum.”

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

Read the complete Editorial at the link.

Unfortunately, a “cut and dried application of the law” without proper regard to the facts or reality is a disturbingly accurate snapshot of what all too often happens daily in our Immigration Courts, a “wholly owned subsidiary” of the US Department of Justice and part of the “Trump Conglomerate” (formerly known as the US Government).

Our failing US Immigration Court system and its aggravation by AG “Gonzo Apocalypto’s” oft-expressed hostility to immigrants, asylum, the rule of law (except his 1950s “Jim Crow” views on the law and how it should be a tool for injustice and advancing White Nationalism), lawyers, Latinos, Mexicans, and the press has become an almost daily topic for major editorial boards. At least someone (other than me) is watching and documenting as this mockery of American justice unfolds before us.

In particular, too many U.S. Immigration Judges are tone-deaf to Mexican asylum claims, not wanting to be accused of “opening the floodgates” ( a concept that is nowhere to be found in the actual law) and knowing that “Gonzo” wants lots of  “quick removals” rather than asylum grants.  Additionally, the only administrative check on the Immigration Judges’ authority is a weak Appeals Board that never “calls out” overly restrictive Immigration Judges by name and seldom publishes precedents granting asylum. Truly, a prescription for a “Due Process Disaster!”

Judge Hough seems to have forgotten that under the law:

  • ”Corroborating evidence” can only be required if it is “reasonably available;”
  • Testimony may be corroborated by country condition information describing the same abuses that the applicant claims;
  • The standard for granting asylum is a  generous “well-founded fear” or “reasonable likelihood” of future harm which can be “significantly less than probable — as little as a 10% chance can suffice;
  • Asylum applicants are supposed to be given the “benefit of the doubt” in recognition of the evidentiary challenges of providing proof of persecution and the difficulties of relating traumatic events in the past.

It remain to be seen whether the Board of Immigration Appeals, EOIR’s “Appellate Court,” will correct Judge Hough’s life-threatening errors and, further, issue a strong precedent on asylum for foreign journalists (traditionally one of the most vulnerable and persecuted groups) to prevent further miscarriages of Justice such as this. Such a precedent would also discourage the DHS from continuing to abuse our system by pushing for removal (and needless detention) in cases such as this where a grant of asylum at the DHS  Asylum Office or at the hearing following the testimony would be the correct result.

Or, will the next major editorial describe and decry Mr. Gutierrez’s death in Mexico!

In a well-functioning justice system, this case should have been a “Short-docket, No-brainer Grant.” But, Gonzo Apocalypto seeks to use the US Immigration Courts as an extension of DHS enforcement rather than, as they were intended, as Courts guaranteeing fairness, Due Process, and equal justice for all! We need change. Lots of it!

[NOTE: For those interested, Judge Hough apparently has not decided enough asylum cases on the merits in El Paso to be listed on the statistical profile of asylum outcomes maintained by TRAC Immigration.]

PWS

12-12-17

 

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

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

The Post Editorial Board writes:

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

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

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

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

Read the full article at the link.

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

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

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

PWS

12-12-17

 

CHECK OUT MY 17-POINT “IMMIGRATION CONSUMERS’ PROTECTION PROGRAM” (“ICPP”)!

IMMIGRATION CONSUMERS’ PROTECTION PROGRAM (“ICPP”)

BY Paul Wickham Schmidt, United States Immigration Judge (Retired)

  • Get a lawyer.
  • Make sure lawyer is real & reputable.
    • Confirm bar admission and check complaints online.
    • Firm website should confirm that immigration is a primary area of practice.
    • Google published immigration cases and check results.
  • Get it in writing.
    • In a language you understand.
  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t.
  • Play to tell the truth.
    • With lawyer, court, DHS.
  • Keep your appointments with your lawyer.
    • Time is money – YOUR money!
    • Lawyer needs complete and accurate information to help.
  • Show up for all Immigration Court hearings at least 30 minutes early.
    • Failing to appear (“FTA”) is the worst possible thing you can do in Immigration Court.
    • FTA = Final Order of Removal = Arrest, Detention & Immediate Removal = YOU become “low hanging fruit” for DHS’s “jacked up” removal goals!
  • Dress the part.
    • No cutoffs, t-shirts, flip-flops, halter-tops, crop tops, underwear showing, muscle shirts, flashy distracting jewelry, “rainbow hair,” shirts with (particularly political) slogans, baseball caps in Immigration Court.
    • Dress as you would to go to the funeral of someone you respected.
  • Avoid the “Big Five:”
    • Alcohol
    • Drugs
    • Domestic violence
    • Gangs
    • Driving violations of all types.
      • OWLs can be a problem and eventually turn into felonies in Virginia!
      • That’s what busses, trains, friends, co-workers, bikes, and strong legs are for.
    • Keep all documents – originals and at least one copy.
      • Never give away originals (unless the judge requires it) or your only copy of a document.
    • Pay taxes.
    • Stay in school or keep employed.
    • Ask questions.
      • Insist on an explanation that you understand in a language you understand.
    • Don’t sign anything you don’t understand.
      • Make sure everything has been translated for you.
    • Comply with all court orders.
    • Use available resources:
      • Internet
      • 1-800 number
      • Immigration Court Practice Manual (“ICPM”) (online).
    • Don’t forget family and friends.
      • They can be some of your best resources.

(12-10-17)

This outline contains some of the points that I emphasized during my two Spanish-language radio appearances in Richmond, Virginia on Friday, December 8, 2017!

 

PWS

12-10-17

 

 

 

 

 

 

PREVENTABLE HUMAN DISASTER: THE WANTON CRUELTY, WASTEFULNESS, & TOTAL STUPIDITY OF THE TRUMP/SESSIONS “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM PORTRAYED IN GRAPHIC HUMAN TERMS — The Damage To America Of Mistreating Our Families & Our Citizen Youth Will Long Outlive The Misguided Officials Carrying It Out!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/classic-apps/deported-divided-how-a-moms-return-to-el-salvador-tore-her-family-in-two/2017/12/08/70f81724-9a37-11e7-87fc-c3f7ee4035c9_story.html

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.

 

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

“Cruz Mendez, 30, made this trip in reverse when she was 18 years old, skipping her high school graduation to flee a neighborhood man who had harassed her in San Salvador. She was detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, released and allowed to join her brother in Virginia. Two months later, an immigration judge in Texas ordered her deported. Cruz Mendez says she never knew about the hearing.

In Fairfax, she was crowned beauty queen at a local Salvadoran festival and met Rene Bermudez, a hazel-eyed laborer who worked construction.

Steve was born in 2007, Danyca in 2012.

Late in 2013, police stopped Cruz Mendez for failing to turn on the lights on her minivan and charged her with driving without a license, an arrest that alerted federal agents to her old deportation order.

While President Barack Obama deported high numbers of undocumented immigrants during parts of his tenure, parents of American citizens with little to no criminal record were not priorities for expulsion. So officials released Cruz Mendez with orders to stay out of trouble and check in with them once a year.

But under President Trump, who campaigned on a promise to crack down on illegal immigration, anyone here without papers can be expelled.

Interior deportations — of people already living in the United States, as opposed to those caught crossing the border — have risen 37 percent since Trump took office. Deportation arrests of non-criminals such as Cruz Mendez — many, like her, with children who were born in this country and are U.S. citizens — surged past 31,000 from inauguration to the end of September, triple the same period last year.

On the May morning when she was scheduled for her yearly check-in, Cruz Mendez lingered in the apartment, which she’d decorated with family photographs, Danyca’s art projects and Steve’s citizen-of-the-month award from elementary school.

She considered the possibility of skipping the check-in, aware of other longtime immigrants who had been deported after similar appointments. But she could not fathom life as a fugitive. Worried, Bermudez warned her that she was going to be late.

“Why are you trying to turn me over so fast?” Cruz Mendez snapped in Spanish.

She eventually walked into the immigration agency’s Fairfax office, accompanied by advocates and loved ones. Agents took her into custody as her supporters shouted.

For a month, her husband and lawyers fought to free her. Steve tried, too, writing letters to Immigration and Customs Enforcement that were full of pleas and questions.

“Plz don’t deport my mom,” one of the letters said.

Who will take me to the doctor, the dentist? Who will take care of me and my sister? Who will I live with?

It didn’t work. On June 14, they sent her back. Bermudez and the kids filled a giant cardboard box with her dresses and shoes, pots and pans, and placed it by the front door, waiting for a courier to take it away.

Steve Bermudez, 10, wrote immigration officials in May to ask them not to deport his mother. For a month, Cruz Mendez’s husband and lawyers fought to free her and stop the deportation. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Steve looks out the window of the bedroom he used in his mother’s childhood home in El Salvador. The sign advertises fruit and vegetables his family sells. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
‘How can I go?’
Deportations can shatter a family or a marriage. In one study of the aftermath of six immigration raids, family income dropped an average of 70 percent. Another study, of U.S.-born Latino children, found that those whose parents had been detained or deported experienced significantly higher post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms than their peers.

“That child’s more likely to be poor. They’re more likely to be depend on public benefits,” said Randy Capps, U.S. research director for the Migration Policy Institute. “And then psychologically, you just don’t know. There could be an immediate impact; it could be a long time before that psychological impact shows up.”

In the Falls Church apartment, Steve and Danyca cried all the time after Cruz Mendez was deported. No one wanted to eat.

. . . .

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.“

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

Read Maria’s entire story of this grotesque failure of responsible government, common sense, and human decency at the link!

THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE

What kind of country abuses its youth  — our hope for the future —  this way? What kind of county wastes its human capital and potential in this manner? What kind of country empowers leaders who are intentionally cruel, immoral, dishonest, and stupid? What kind of country intentionally turns valued friends and positive contributors into potential disgruntled enemies?

This is the way that a once great nation transforms itself into an “overstuffed banana republic!”

But, it’s not yet too late to change the grim vision of “Christmas Future” being promoted by Trump, Sessions, Kelly, Homan, Bannon, Miller, and their cronies. We can resist the horrible policies of the Trump Administration in the courts of law and the courts of public opinion! Ultimately, totally unqualified officials like Trump, Sessions, and their White Nationalist cronies — who are plotting the end of America as we know it — can be defeated at the ballot box and removed from office.

But, there will come a “point of no return” when the damage done by these corrupt individuals and their enablers (both willing and unwitting) cannot be undone! Are we as smart, human, and capable of leaving behind selfishness and embracing decency and human kindness as Ebineezer Scrooge? Or will the Ghost prove to be the Prophet in this version of the Christmas Carol?

PWS

12-09-17

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

Immigrants reflect what makes America great


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

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

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

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

William Plitt, Arlington

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

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

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

The ‘dreamers’ emergency


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

Mike Zasadil, Silver Spring

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

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

PWS

12-08-17

ATTN “COURTSIDERS” – HEAR ME “LIVE” ON RADIO IN RICHMOND, VA, THE INTERNET, AND FACEBOOK TOMORROW, FRIDAY, DEC. 8, 2017!

I’ll be on two local radio shows hosted by Richmond Attorney Pablo Fantl tomorrow.

Both are am radio stations, and are available online.  They also will broadcast on Facebook Live, and will be available in the archives afterwards.  I will post links on immigrationcourtside.com once the recordings are available.

From 11:30-12:30     Radio Poder 1380 am   http://www.wbtk.com/

From 1:00-2:00         Maxima 1320 am          https://maxima1320.com/

These are programs directed at informing the Hispanic community in Richmond. Although I’m not bilingual, Pablo has promised excellent interpretation services. And, gosh knows, I’m pretty used to being translated into many languages from my days on the immigration bench.

Hope you’ll “tune in!”

PWS

12-07-17

 

 

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

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

Henry Graber reports for Slate:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

12-06-17

 

 

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

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

Nick Miroff reports in the Washington Post:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Read the complete article at the link.

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

12-06-17

 

WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL RIPS TRUMP/SESSIONS “GONZO” IMMIGRATION AGENDA AS “ANTI-AMERICAN!”– White Nationalist Inspired Restrictionism Is Suppressing The Real Dialogue We Should Be Having!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-crusade-against-immigrants-is-an-attack-on-america/2017/12/03/0ac43dec-d624-11e7-b62d-d9345ced896d_story.html?utm_term=.71780d337509

December 3 at 8:10 PM

THE TRUMP administration likes to justify its multi-front crusade against immigration and immigrants as a revival of the rule of law, or a recalibration of the rules to favor disadvantaged American workers. In fact, it is largely a resurrection of xenophobia that coincides with a spike, nearly 50 years in the making, in the number of foreign-born residents living in the United States.

“For decades,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a speech in October, “the American people have been begging and pleading . . . for an immigration system that’s lawful and serves the national interest. Now we have a president who supports that.”

Mr. Sessions’s claims are specious. An embrace of legality is not the driving force behind the president’s decision to slash the admission of refugees to levels unseen in nearly 40 years. It is not what compelled Mr. Trump to endorse Republican legislation that would cut the annual allotment of green cards by a half-million, mainly by barring relatives of existing legal permanent residents of the United States. It is not why the Pentagon has considered ending a recruitment program that put skilled foreigners on a fast track for citizenship if they served in this country’s armed forces. And it is not why the administration favors ending the so-called diversity visa lottery program, under which immigrants are admitted from nations underrepresented in other programs.

Those programs were all legally enacted and, by and large, carried out in compliance with the law. The animating force in targeting them, as the administration is now doing, is an effort to turn back the tide of foreigners in our midst and exorcise what the president evidently sees as the demon of diversity.

The administration’s goal is not to reshape America’s immigration policy but to prune immigration itself. While Mr. Trump backs a GOP plan that would give preference to immigrants with skills rather than family connections in the United States, the effect would be not simply to shift the mix while maintaining the current level of legal immigration but to drastically reduce overall numbers of admissions.”

. . . .

Unfortunately, Mr. Trump has poisoned the debate on immigration so thoroughly that he has twisted the frame through which many Americans see the issue. His slurs — labeling Mexican immigrants as rapists and Muslim immigrants as terrorists — form the context from which the administration’s policies arise. They are affronts to U.S. tradition and values.

They’re also an assault on what Mr. Sessions refers to as “the national interest” and specifically the United States’ economic well-being. Legions of employers dependent on immigrant workers, especially to fill low-skilled jobs for which native-born Americans are too well educated and in short supply, will be harmed by choking off the flow of immigrant labor. With unemployment at a 16-year low and approaching levels unseen in a half-century, the Trump policies threaten to sap the economy by depriving it of the energy of striving newcomers who have fueled this nation’s ambitions since its founding.

It is within the president’s discretion to intensify efforts at deportation, though the humanitarian price — in shattered communities and families, including those whose children, born in this country, are Americans — is high. It is reasonable to take steps to tighten border security, though with illegal crossings already at a 40-year low and the Border Patrol’s staffing having already been doubled since the George W. Bush administration, a significant new investment along those lines faces the risk of diminishing returns. The administration may arguably have had a valid legal basis for ending the Obama-era program granting deportation protection for “dreamers” — undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children, often brought by their parents — though only a smallish minority of Americans believes they should be removed from this country.

But what value, other than sheer bigotry, is served by reducing the resettlement of refugees in the United States at a time when the number of displaced people worldwide has soared to staggering levels? In a country founded and in many respects shaped by refugees — a country that has resettled some 3 million refugees since 1980, more than any other nation — why does the Trump administration insist on turning its back on them now, when some 17 million people have been displaced from their homes across international borders around the world due to conflict or persecution, the highest number in a quarter-century?

It is clearly jarring to some Americans that the foreign-born portion of the overall population has nearly tripled since 1970. Many communities, towns and cities have been transformed culturally and socially by that surge, about a third of which was driven by illegal immigrants.

In some places, local government budgets have strained to provide services for immigrants, particularly public education, and the economic dislocation felt by many working-class Americans is a fact. But that dislocation is not mostly caused by immigrants. The United States is a more prosperous place today than it was before the surge in immigration, and immigrants have fed that prosperity — by helping to harvest America’s crops, build its cities, care for its young and elderly, and found some of its most buoyant companies.

. . . .The Trump administration’s crusade against immigration and immigrants is not just a quest to diminish the influence of the “other”; it is an assault on the nation’s future and prospects.”

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Read the complete editorial at the link.

This is largely (not entirely — I believe that there is a sound legal basis for continuing DACA, for example) what I’ve been saying all along:

  • Jeff Sessions is a bigoted, xenophobic, anti-American scofflaw whose disingenuous, self-righteous claims to be restoring the “Rule of Law” (that would be the “Jim Crow laws” of Sessions’s Alabama past) are totally outrageous;
  • The real purpose of the Administration’s xenophobic program is to divide and weaken America  by stirring up racial, religious, and ethnic animosities;
  • The “Gonzo,” arbitrary interior enforcement program serves no useful purpose other than playing to the “biases of the base” and the wishes of some (not all) disgruntled immigration enforcement agents for unbridled authority;
  • Our xenophobic anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies are costing us leadership and respect on the world scene (just this weekend, the Administration withdrew from the UN Global Migration Pact);
  • Our past strength as a nation and our future success and prosperity is based on immigration (and, the US clearly has benefitted from BOTH legal and “extra-legal” migration);
  • The Trump Administrations’s rhetoric and actions are preventing us from having the serious discussion we need: how we can better regulate (not cut off, diminish, or eliminate) future legal migration of all types to serve our national interest (and to be more “in tune” with “market realities” that drive much immigration), reflect our humanitarian values and the legitimate needs of current and future migrants, and encourage use of our legal immigration system, thereby diminishing the incentives for extra-legal migration.

As long as U.S. immigration policy remains in the hands of White Nationalist xenophobes like Trump, Sessions, Miller, and Bannon (yes, Stevie “Vlad the Lenin” has vacated his perch in the West Wing, but he continues to pull strings through his White Nationalist disciples Sessions and Miller and to stir the pot through his alt-right “news” apparatus Breitbart News) we won’t get the constructive dialogue and the humane, realistic “immigration reform” that we really  need. In other words, under current leadership, the real “Rule of Law” will continue to be diminished.

PWS

12-04-17

 

INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE: US ADMINISTRATION OF SHAME: “A year of unwelcome How the Trump administration has sabotaged America’s welcome in 2017”

https://www.rescue.org/article/how-trump-administration-has-sabotaged-americas-welcome-2017

“Since President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20, his administration has repeatedly implemented policies that pull the welcome mat from under the feet of refugees and immigrants seeking safety in the United States. The latest directive, announced in late October, institutes new vetting measures for refugees from 11 countries, effectively extending the travel ban that recently expired.

These developments are unbefitting America’s history as a safe haven for refugees. Democratic and Republican presidents alike have ensured that the United States supports refugees who seek liberty and reject ideologies opposed to American values.
U.S. leadership is needed now more than ever, when tens of millions across the globe face life-threatening situations. Yet the Trump administration continues to issue anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policies that endanger innocent people fleeing persecution and, inherently, weaken America’s reputation both at home and abroad.
Here is a timeline of the Trump administration’s immigrant policies during its first nine months.
Travel ban
By the numbers
President Trump is pulling back America’s welcome mat at a time of unprecedented global need. This year:
65 million
people worldwide are currently uprooted by crisis

More people have been forced to flee their homes by conflict and crisis than at any time since World War II.

Learn more about refugees
During his first week in office, President Trump instituted a travel ban that suspended the U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days and barred Syrian refugees from entry to the U.S. indefinitely. It also indiscriminately excluded any travel from six other countries—Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen—for 90 days.
Opponents of the travel ban challenged the directive in the courts. The Administration drafted a second travel ban as replacement: It allowed travelers who hold green cards entry the U.S.; removed Iraq from the list of restricted countries; and struck down the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.
Even with this second ban, an eventual Supreme Court ruling required the administration to rewrite its travel guidelines over the summer, stipulating that people who have a “credible claim of bona fide relationship” with a person living in the U.S. can enter the country. The new guidelines, however, raised more questions than answers. For example, “bona fide relationships” didn’t include grandparents or resettlement agencies until advocates further challenged the protocols. Meanwhile, thousands of vulnerable refugees who were not already on flights to the U.S. were left stranded.
“The human toll on families who have patiently waited their turn, done the vetting, given up jobs and prepared to travel is wrong,” said David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), in a July 13 statement. “After decades of leading with its gold standard resettlement program, this defective policy shifts the goal posts and sees America turn its back on—and break its promise to—the world’s most vulnerable.”
The Supreme Court scheduled hearings on the legality of the travel ban, but the expiration date for the directive rendering the case moot.
End of protections for Central American refugee children
On Aug. 16, the Trump administration ended the automatic parole option for children in the CAM program (formally called the Central American Minors Refugee and Parole program). Since December 2014, the CAM program has helped reunite children fleeing gang violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador with parents already in the U.S.
Many of these children avoided a perilous journey in order to reunite with parents and relatives—who are lawfully in the U.S.—and begin their new lives with refugee status protected under U.S. and international laws, notes Jennifer Sime, senior vice president of United States Programs at the IRC. “These children are no longer separated from their parents due to conflict and unrest, and are able to attend school and have a childhood free from violence.”
Terminating this lifesaving program, as this administration has done, is brutally tearing families apart—and in many cases, endangering children.
End of the “Dreamers” program
By the numbers
President Trump is pulling back America’s welcome mat at a time of unprecedented global need. This year:
45,000
is the record-low U.S. limit on refugee admissions

That number is less than half the refugee admissions cap set by President Obama last year.

Why the U.S. should accept more refugees
On Sept. 5, Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program, which created a fair and necessary safeguard for hundreds of thousands of young people—commonly known as Dreamers—brought to the U.S. as children.
This decision puts nearly 800,000 young people at risk of deportation from the only country they have ever known. It will have a painful and lasting impact on their lives, the fortunes of their employers, and the wellbeing of their communities.
“The devastating decision to discontinue DACA … unnecessarily tears families apart,” says Hans van de Weerd, vice president of United States Programs at the IRC. “To take away the promised protection of DACA without an alternative, from those who courageously came out of the shadows to apply to the program, bolster our economy and enrich our communities, is simply inhumane.”

Historically low refugee cap
On Sept. 27, the Trump administration announced that it would cap at 45,000 the number of refugees granted admission to the U.S. in Fiscal Year 2018. This number is a historic low—the annual cap on average has exceeded 95,000 since 1980—and comes at a time when more people are uprooted by war and crisis than ever before.
“This administration’s decision to halve the number of refugees admitted to America is a double-blow—to victims of war ready to start a new life, and to America’s reputation as a beacon of hope in the world,” says Miliband. “When America cuts its numbers, the danger is that it sets the stage for other nations to follow suit, a tragic and contagious example of moral failure.”
New vetting procedures
By the numbers
President Trump is pulling back America’s welcome mat at a time of unprecedented global need. This year:
15,000
refugees are actually likely to be admitted to the U.S., based on IRC projections

Vulnerable refugees are being harmed by bureaucratic red tape that won’t make Americans safer.

Why the existing vetting process already works
The travel ban officially expired on Oct. 24, but the Trump administration substituted the directive with a round of new vetting procedures for refugees entering the U.S. All refugees will now need to provide addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and other details – over the past decade – for themselves and, potentially, their extended family members.
Further measures essentially allow Trump to extend the ban for 90 days for refugees from 11 countries.
“This will add months, or potentially years, to the most urgent cases, the majority of which are women and children in heinous circumstances,” says Sime. “With a world facing brutal and protracted conflicts like in Syria, or new levels of displacement and unimaginable violence against the Rohingya, this moment is a test of the world’s humanity, moral leadership, and ability to learn from the horrors of the past.”
Stand with refugees

We need your help to fight back and remind Congress that the Trump administration’s refugee policies DO NOT represent American values.”

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More for Fat Cats, corporations, and the Trump Family Enterprises. Less for the needy and vulnerable. Eventually, there will be a reckoning for selfish, “me first,” policies of greed and disregard for the rights and humanity of others. I read it in a book.

PWS

12-02-17