Adam K. Raymond reports in New York Magazine:

“In 2016, the last year of President Obama’s administration, the U.S. accepted 85,000 refugees and set a goal of bumping that number up to 110,00 this year. Those plans changed with President Trump’s so-called travel ban, which set the refugee limit at 50,000 for 2016. Now, the administration is considering setting that number even lower for 2018, despite the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

The President has until October 1 to set a refugee ceiling and, the Times reports, there’s a debate raging in the White House about whether the number should be reduced to numbers not seen in decades. Leading the arguments against cutting the totals is Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller, an immigration hawk and ally of Steve Bannon and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Miller has reportedly produced cutting the number all the way to 15,000. The Department of Homeland Security has proposed its own cut to 40,000.

The Times explains their purported thinking:


Two administration officials said those pushing for a lower number are citing the need to strengthen the process of vetting applicants for refugee status to prevent would-be terrorists from entering the country. Two others said another factor is a cold-eyed assessment of the money and resources that would be needed to resettle larger amounts of refugees at a time when federal immigration authorities already face a years long backlog of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers.
This reasoning doesn’t align with the facts. Refugees are far more likely to be victims of politically motivated attacks than perpetrators. Limiting refugees does not keep America safer because refugees are not dangerous. It’s difficult not to see nativism as the motive behind pretending that they are: fear makes it easier to convince people that suffering people should be excluded from the United States. As for the cost concerns, the GOP’s feigned fiscal prudence should never be taken seriously.

By setting the refugee cap at 50,000 this year, Trump has already pushed the number lower than it’s been in decades. In the 37 years since the Refugee Act of 1980 gave the president a role in setting the cap, it hasn’t slipped lower than the 67,000 President Reagan set in 1987.

Cutting the refugee ceiling would leave tens of thousands of vulnerable people out in the cold, the International Rescue Committee said in a report last month. The humanitarian organization advocates for a ceiling no lower than 75,000 people. “An admissions level of at least 75,000 is a critical signal to the world that the United States remains a safe haven for those fleeing persecution, terror and ideologies antithetical to American democratic values,” the report says. “Anything less would be to turn our backs on the United States’ humanitarian tradition and global leadership.”


Under the last three Administrations, the US has made an absolute muddle out of two ill-advised wars and Middle East policies in general. The idea that guys like Trump, Tillerson, Miller, Bannon, Sessions, and even “the Generals” can come up with a constructive solution borders on the ludicrous. Nope. They going to to fight the 21st Century version of the “100 Years War” with similar results.

If there is a solution out there that will help achieve stability and provide a durable solution to the terrorist threats, it’s more likely going to be coming from one of today’s refugees who have a better idea of what’s actually going on and how we might become part of the solution rather than making the problems worse.

Refugees represent America’s hope. The Sessions-Miller-Bannon cabal represents America’s darkest side — one that threatens to drag us all into the abyss of their dark, distorted, and fundamentally anti-American world view.





OPTIMISTS’ CORNER: Five Reasons Why DACA Legislation Could Pass!

Jonathan Chait writes in The Intellingencer as reprinted in New York Maggie:

“Not just a dream? Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
“If they pass a straight-up Dream amnesty,” says Mark Krikorian, an anti-immigration activist, “they will go into the elections having failed to repeal Obamacare but having passed amnesty.” When you put it like that, it sounds crazy, doesn’t it? And indeed it would seem bizarre for Donald Trump’s sole legislative achievement to be the negation of his central campaign theme. But in recent days, the implausible has become suddenly plausible.

1. Trump doesn’t really care about restrictionism. The president has many prejudices but almost no actual policy commitments. He rode anti-immigrant sentiment to the presidency, but his use of the theme was largely instrumental. Trump has alternated his nativist lurches with professions of sympathy for the Dreamers. “I have a love for these people and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly,” Trump said recently. “And I can tell you, speaking to members of Congress, they want to be able to do something and do it right. And really, we have no choice.”

2. He’s in a bipartisanship groove. The president cares more about positive feedback and good press than anything else. His bipartisan deal to lift the debt ceiling for three months might have been substantively contentless, but he liked the response from the media. As a creature of impulse, he will probably want to tap the bar for another pleasure hit.


3. The cult of personality protects him. Previous efforts to protect the Dreamers have all fallen prey to conservative revolts. But the Trump imprimatur has unique power to give Republicans political cover. A glimpse of the strange dynamic came into view when Trump cut his debt-ceiling agreement with Democrats over the objections of the GOP leadership, and enraged conservatives took out their anger on … Paul Ryan.

Trump catered to his base by tapping into primal ethno-nationalist resentment. Having proven his tribal loyalty, he is perfectly positioned, should he choose, to bring along his base. A large segment of the party-messaging apparatus seems prepared to follow along. “Nobody wants to kick a bunch of kids out of the country, right?” Rush Limbaugh said Tuesday. “I don’t care if they’re budding little Al Capones. People just don’t want to do it … There needs to be a price, and it would be a great thing, couple this, say, with building the wall. I mean, you do all-in on border enforcement.”

4. The bill will materialize. There is almost certainly a majority in both chambers for a Dreamer bill. The trick is getting the bill to the floor. When Ryan ran for the Speakership, in 2015, he promised he would not bring immigration legislation to the floor unless it commanded a majority of his own party.

What might do the trick, however, is attaching DACA — Deferred Action of Child Arrivals — to an unrelated bill. There will be at least two measures to increase the debt ceiling. Those bills, crucially, will rely heavily on Democratic votes, since a large portion of the Republican base refuses to vote to increase the debt ceiling. This essentially circumvents the informal requirement that the GOP only brings up bills that most Republicans support, opening the door for passing something mostly with Democratic votes.

“There’s no way,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas says of a DACA vote. “We will take that up. I’m confident. But there’s no way that it will stand alone.” But it’s not standing alone any more.

5. Ambiguity is their friend. The ability of both sides to claim a deal does different things is the classic lubricant of any political negotiation. In this case, the grounds for ambiguity are obvious. Trump has made the symbolism of the wall a political fetish, and Democrats oppose it on similar grounds. The way around this standoff is to tie DACA to border-security measures that Trump can call a “wall” and Democrats can call “not a wall.”

After all, Democrats have previously supported border-security measures like increased drone surveillance and added fencing. What is the conceptual distinction between a fence and a wall? Not much.

The safest bet, of course, is that nothing happens, because that is almost always the safest bet in modern Washington. But the window of possibility has opened quickly. All of a sudden, helping the Dreamers is not just a dream.”


Let’s keep our fingers crossed.  It would be nice.

One potential problem is that Trump doesn’t appear to have any immigration expertise in his Administration that’s not part of the restrictionist White Nationlist cabal. He’d probably have to get down to the career level at USCIS to find someone to work on the legal details of a Dreamer bill.

Clearly, White Nationalist restrictionists like Sessions and Miller would have to be screened out of any bipartisan process. And, Chief of Staff Kelly showed little or no appreciation for promoting constructive legal immigration programs during his short DHS tenure. Indeed, he appearss to have overridden sound internal advice and counsel and suppressed evidence in supporting the Sessions-Bannon-Trump disingenuous “Travel Bans.” That’s the trouble with a politically biased Administration that neither appreciates nor has the ability to work with experts in the career civil service.





Israel & The Middle East Are A Powder Keg — The Obvious Solution — Send A 30-Something Relative With Neither Expertise Nor Diplomatic Experience To Straighten Things Out — Nepotism Is Not Just An Ethical Problem (For A Prez Who Can’t Spell Ethics), But A Danger To The World’s Security!

Jonah Shepp reports in New York Magazine:

“President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner spent the better part of last week in the Middle East, meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in an attempt to relaunch U.S.-brokered peace talks. Shockingly, the trip was not a great success.

Kushner, who has carved out a foreign-policy portfolio for himself at the White House despite having no relevant experience, arrived in Jerusalem on Wednesday. Accompanied by Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, he began his trip with an apparently friendly meeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and a visit to the the family of Hadas Malka, a 23-year-old border police officer who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian attacker in East Jerusalem the previous Friday.

. . . .

Perhaps fortunately, Kushner will likely be busy in the near future defending himself in the developing investigation into his communications with Russian officials and bank executives, as well as his personal finances and business dealings. But it should go without saying that anyone dogged by such questions should under no circumstances be running foreign policy on behalf of the United States government. If Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis can’t convince Trump to stop listening to his wunderkind adviser, that’s a big problem.

Maybe Trump thinks Kushner has some special insight into the Middle East on account of his Jewish heritage, or maybe Kushner just fancies himself a budding statesman and convinced his doting father-in-law to let him play action-hero diplomat in the most volatile region of the world. In any case, Trump’s willingness to hand his daughter and son-in-law the keys to the government whenever they want to drive it constitutes a level of reckless, corrupt nepotism the likes of which this country has rarely seen.”


“Amateur Night at the Bijou” continues, with YOUR security at stake.