Musings on Events in U.S. Immigration Court, Immigration Law, Sports, and Other Random Topics by Retired United States Immigration Judge (Arlington, Virginia) and former Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals Paul Wickham Schmidt. To see my complete professional bio, just click on the link below.
“Washington (CNN)As the ink dried Friday on a major budget compromise deal in Congress, immigration advocates were taking stock of getting left behind — again — without a resolution for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants on the verge of losing protections.
It’s an open question if there are cards left to play in the push to enshrine the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy into law. While no advocates say they are giving up, many also openly admit that Democrats and allies gave up their best negotiating position on the issue without another clear avenue coming up.
In the meantime, a pending court decision on DACA, which President Donald Trump is terminating, means the immigrants protected by it and who mostly have never known another country than the US, won’t begin losing their protections as planned on March 5 — but their fate could be reversed at any moment by another court decision.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat who has long served as one of the most outspoken advocates in Congress for immigration reform, was pessimistic with reporters early Friday morning as Congress passed the deal with virtually every Democratic priority except DACA in it.
“No, I don’t, I don’t,” he said when asked if there was any other way Democrats could exert leverage on the issue. Gutierrez said the plan from the beginning was to either attach a DACA compromise to the must-pass budget deal or raising the debt ceiling, both of which were passed in the early morning hours Friday without DACA. Arizona Democrat Raul Grijalva called the episode “disheartening.”
“We have decoupled the issues. Your leverage is you want them one and the same,” Gutierrez said. “Do we need a new way forward? Yeah, we’re going to figure out a new way forward.”
There is one glimmer of hope for advocates. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made good on his promise to tee up an immigration debate on the Senate floor next week. Moments after the Senate passed the deal, McConnell filed to have a vote to open debate on an unrelated bill Monday evening — which will kick off a process where an as-yet-unknown number of amendments will be able to compete for a procedural threshold of 60 votes to then pass the Senate.
It was that promise that put in motion the deal that eventually severed DACA from other negotiations but also offers a rare opportunity for lawmakers to compete on a neutral playing field for bipartisan support.
“We’re pivoting, what can you do?” said longtime advocate Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration group America’s Voice. “We’ve had our doubts about the viability of a standalone legislative process but that’s what we’re left with, so we’re hoping to make the most of it. … That will put pressure on the President and the House to do the same.”
Already, groups of lawmakers are preparing for the floor debate, even as it remains unclear how many amendments will be offered, how debate will be structured and how long it might last.
A group of roughly 20 bipartisan senators is drafting legislation over the weekend to offer perhaps multiple amendments and potentially keep the debate focused on a narrow DACA-border security bill. Advocates on the left may offer a clean DACA fix like the Dream Act, and some on the right are drafting a version of the White House proposal that would include $25 billion for a border wall and heavy cuts to legal immigration with a pathway to citizenship — though neither is expected to have 60 votes.
“First of all, we have the Senate procedure, which is my hope. We’re working with the (bipartisan group) to see if we can come to a two-pillar solution,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who has long worked on the issue, when asked Thursday what comes next for DACA. “Hopefully we could gather 60 votes for that. And then that would be it — we’d resist everything else, any other amendments, and then go back to the House and create all the pressure in the House to make it happen.”
Step 2: Pressure Ryan
If the Senate can pass a bill, lawmakers hope Trump will fully embrace it, freeing House Speaker Paul Ryan to call it up.
Already as the budget deal was on track for passage, House advocates began a pressure campaign to urge Ryan to make a promise like McConnell — though Ryan continually demurred and insisted instead he’s committed to the issue of immigration and passing a bill the President can support.
“I think we have to be realistic,” said Arizona’s Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego. “We’re going to have to deal with reality and find whatever means possible to put pressure on Speaker Ryan and the Republican Party to bring, again, a fair vote on the Dream Act to the floor.”
“I think for me the strategy has to be pressure Ryan and bring it to the floor,” Grijalva said, adding the process should allow any proposal to vie for a majority — even if it doesn’t have a majority of Republican votes. “The Senate, when they gave up on not voting for it, at the very minimum extracted a time certain and a debate on something. We don’t even have that.”
Republican Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania said he’s been urging fellow moderates to use their numbers the way that conservatives on the right flank do.
“The Freedom Caucus has been effective because they’ll use their power of 24 (votes to deny a majority), and they take the hostage, they’ll do what they have to do,” Dent said. “I tell our members, we put our votes together, we can really direct an outcome. … I suspect if the Senate sends us a bipartisan DACA bill, that’s when we’re going to have to flex our muscles.”
But others have doubts. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a member of the bipartisan group, says he learned his lesson in 2013, when he co-authored legislation that passed the Senate with wide margins but died in the House.
“There are some who believe that if we get a bunch of votes it’ll force the House to do it. I don’t agree,” Rubio said. “We could vote on it 90-10. … This notion that the House is going to listen to what a senator tells them to do is not real.”
Step 3: Other leverage
If the legislative process can’t produce success, advocates say, they will look for any other leverage points they can.
“If that doesn’t work out, then there’s still an omnibus at the end of the day,” said Menendez, referring to the spending bills due in March to fund the government under the topline two-year budget deal passed Friday.
But Gutierrez doubted that approach — scoffing at the idea that Democrats would be taken seriously if they threatened to withhold their votes yet again without success.
“Really?” Gutierrez said about the omnibus as leverage. “Is it plausible? Is it realistic? Can you continue to threaten with something?”
Other options could include a temporary, one-year or two-year extension of DACA without a permanent solution, though lawmakers have decried that option.
Still, many aren’t ready to give up hope.
“This President clearly wants to get it done, I think the majority of Republicans want to get it done and the majority of Democrats want to get it done. Can we reach that balance? We can get there, I feel very confident we can get there,” said Florida’s Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.”
Although it should be a “no brainer,” I’m not as confident as Rep. Diaz-Balart that this group can “get to yes.” A fair resolution of the “Dreamers” situation just isn’t very high on the GOP agenda, particularly in the House. And, both the Dreamers and the Dems are coming to grips with the obvious reality: if you want to set or control the agenda, you have to win elections!
We need Julia Preston to lock these folks in a room for awhile!
Members of the Model Congress: To simulate a real immigration negotiation, we tried to select participants from across the policy spectrum—advocates and operatives, defenders of more immigration and proponents of less. In the end, we ended up with a well-rounded expert group of four:
Theresa Cardinal Brown is director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a research group in Washington. She was an immigration policy adviser at the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2008 and the agency’s attaché in Canada under Obama from 2008 to 2011. Before that, she served as director of immigration and border policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Steven Camarota is director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington think tank that seeks less immigration overall and has opposed past measures to legalize undocumented immigrants.
Leon Fresco, an immigration lawyer at Holland and Knight, was previously a staff member for Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he was one of the main drafters of the comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2013.
Tom Jawetz is vice president for immigration at the Center for American Progress, a progressive policy group. As chief counsel to the immigration subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee and adviser to Democrats, he helped negotiate an immigration reform bill in the House in 2014. It never went to a vote.
I acted as the moderator.
. . . .
The makings of a deal: So that’s where our negotiators ended up after two hours: A pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and a 50,000 reduction in visas across several categories that would last for some period of time.
. . . .
Find out how they got there by going on over to Politico at the above link and reading Julia’s entire report. Most impressive! Julia’s certainly got my vote for President!
“Congress now appears likely to reach a budget deal to keep the government functioning without treating as bargaining chips hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States when they were children. It also appears, though, that President Trump will consider undoing his threat of deportation for these young “Dreamers” only if Congress considers the first deep cuts to legal immigration since the 1920s.
The changes the president is demanding stem from a nativist, zero-sum view that what’s good for immigrants is bad for America. That view runs counter not just to the best of American tradition and principles, but to evidence of what’s best for the country.
The programs targeted by Mr. Trump are designed to make legal immigration more diverse and humane. One is the lottery system that offers the chance for visas to people from countries that are underrepresented as sources of American immigrants; the other is family-based immigration, which offers visas to close relatives of citizens and legal residents.
Mr. Trump, who has regularly smeared immigrants as terrorists and criminals, has lately been focusing his fear-mongering on the diversity visa program. Last month, his Department of Homeland Security released a report that dishonestly claimed that those who entered the country via the lottery were more likely to be tied to terrorist attacks. The Cato Institute found that lottery visa holders actually killed only eight of 3,037 Americans murdered by foreign-born terrorists since 1975. The immigrants chosen in the lottery, moreover, are not chosen “without any regard for skill, merit or the safety of our people,” as Mr. Trump said in his State of the Union address. They must have at least a high school education or two years of experience in skilled work, and they must also undergo criminal, national security and medical checks. The 50,000 recipients of the visas are not guaranteed permanent residence, only a chance at getting through the rest of the immigration process.
Mr. Trump has said that the family reunification program — which he and other immigration opponents prefer to call “chain migration” — opens the floodgates to “virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.” In fact, relatives other than spouses, parents and minor children are subject to annual caps and country quotas, so that, today, the backlog is almost four million applicants, most of them facing many years of waiting to get a visa. Mr. Trump would allow no new applicants other than immediate family members, and even these would no longer include parents. Imposing these restrictions and ending the diversity visa lottery would cut in half the number of legal immigrants.
It is hard to gauge how much of what Mr. Trump says is meant as a scare tactic and how much he really will demand. The one notion that runs through all he says or tweets about immigration is that it is a door for criminals and terrorists to enter the United States. Yet data studied by the Cato Institute indicates that diversity-visa holders and illegal immigrants, the groups most maligned by Mr. Trump, are far less prone to crime than native-born Americans.
Politicians have wrestled for decades with how to deal with immigrants who are in the United States illegally — now around 11 million people. But immigration in itself has been widely regarded as good for America and for the American dream. The preponderance of evidence shows that immigrants help the economy grow. They are more likely to own businesses or to start businesses than the native-born; of the 87 privately held companies currently valued at more than $1 billion, 51 percent had immigrant founders.
There are questions worth examining and debating about whether the United States ought to admit more skilled immigrants and what criteria it uses to screen applicants. But such a debate can’t unfold in the shadow of Mr. Trump’s threat to imminently expel the Dreamers. So what is Mr. Trump really after?
A Gallup poll last June found 62 percent of Americans support maintaining current levels of immigration or even increasing them. And since the country is at nearly full employment, the timing of these anti-immigrant demands might seem odd. Yet it’s no more odd than the president’s tough-on-crime talk at a time when crime is lower than it’s ever been, or his obsession with Islamist terrorists, even though the Government Accountability Office found that right-wing extremists have committed far more domestic attacks against Americans since 2001. Mr. Trump’s approach seems intended less to rationalize the immigration system than to inflame his core supporters by demonizing nonwhite people, as he did when he disparaged immigrants from nations like Haiti and Mexico while praising Norwegians.
Members of Congress know better, and they are aware that there are sensible measures that would clear the immediate hurdle and produce a bipartisan deal. Senators John McCain, the Arizona Republican, and Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, have offered a stopgap bill that would end the threat to the Dreamers while strengthening border security. Nothing about diversity visas or family-based migration, nothing for the wasteful wall.
That makes sense. The way we deal with legal immigration should not be changed without a thorough, honest debate.
Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTOpinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.”
When policies are driven by White Nationalism, racism, and the need to throw “red meat” to a base that has abandoned inclusiveness, humanity, and “enlightened self interest,” there isn’t much room for rationality, facts, or the common good. Unfortunately, that’s a description of the modern GOP.
“Even as President Donald Trump has led the most prolonged and public attack on the Justice Department in history, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has broken a long tradition of those in his position of protecting the institution from such interference by remaining largely silent, The New York Times reported Monday.
“What is unusual is the FBI and the Justice Department being attacked, the president leading the charge and the attorney general missing in action,” said Harvard Law Prof. Jack Goldsmith, who headed the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under President Geoerge W. Bush. “Why isn’t he sticking up for the department?”
Many prosecutors say Sessions’ tepid response is deflating morale among department employees and has increased fears prosecutors cannot depend on protection from political interference.
“Attorneys general swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, not the president,” said Matthew Axelrod, a former Justice Department official who is a partner at Linklaters. “Institutions like the DOJ rely on their leaders to be a voice that defends them. It’s critically important to this institution that its leadership have its back.”
Although the Business Insider reported Sessions did praise his second-in-command Rod Rosenstein hours before the disputed Devin Nunes memo was released Friday by saying he represents “the kind of quality and leadership we want in the department” and he had “great confidence in the men and women of this department,” many commentators said that backing was quite meager when he added, “But no department is perfect.”
One such previous example often cited of far more courageous and strong backing is when ailing attorney general John Ashcroft from his hospital bed allowed his acting replacement, James Comey, to defy the Bush administration over a surveillance program that Justice Department lawyers had called unconstitutional.
Sessions, who has been heavily and publicly criticized by Trump in the past year, declined to comment to the Times.
“Sessions’ silence is evidence that Trump’s public neutering of anyone close to this investigation is working,” said Paul Pelletier, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Virginia who was a long-time federal prosecutor. “It is deleterious to the whole criminal justice process.”
The law enforcement community might have thought that they were getting a strong defender/advocate in the right-winger Sessions. After all, he’s out to bust those recreational legalized marijuana users and hard-working maids and janitors who have been in the U.S. without documents for decades waiting for the immigration reform that never came because he helped block it in the Senate.
But, what they actually got was a disingenuous “Gonzo Apocalypto” White Nationalist interested primarily in advancing his racially inspired agenda at the expense of the U.S. justice system and anyone who might stand in the way. Oh yeah, and a guy who is also very interested in “covering his own tail.” That’s why he didn’t hesitate to hire DC Lawyer Chuck Cooper to defend him once his continuing “memory lapses” came to light in the Russia investigation and things started “hitting the fan.”
A guy with no time for the rights of African-Americans Latinos, Immigrants, LGBTQ Americans, women, or apparently his subordinates and employees at the DOJ seems to have an excellent sense of his own rights and self-preservation. And, he isn’t so silent when it comes to an opportunity for slandering and diminishing the achievements of DACA recipients, Immigrants, sanctuary cities, asylum seekers, or people of color who are supposed to be entitled to justice and protection from his more or less “Whites only” DOJ.
“Well before The Wall Street Journal reported that a porn star with the meteorological name of Stormy Daniels was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about sex with Donald Trump, it was clear that a bigger and more crass proposition would be emerging from the White House.
Going into the midterm elections, Trump is offering this deal to his supporters: Say nothing about the lies, the bullying, the accusations of sexual misconduct from more than a dozen women, the undermining of the rule of law, the abdication of basic decency — and in turn he will make you rich.
Essentially, it’s a payoff. Trump himself has framed it this way. When asked about his coming health exam last month, he said, “It better go well, otherwise the stock market will not be happy.” He used the same phrase when talking about his hard-line position on immigration.
Both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton oversaw spectacular gains in the stock market — among the best in history. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 227 percent during Clinton’s eight years and 149 percent under Obama.
Yet, neither of those men held the market out as hostage to a backward agenda and a deranged personality. Trump is running a bottom-line presidency — as soulless as a Kremlin bot on Facebook — in which people who know better are asked to stay quiet in exchange for a short-term payoff.
Modern presidents, dating at least to Ronald Reagan, have urged voters to ask one question going into pivotal elections: Are you better off than you were before? It’s a reasonable standard. But it has never been the leverage for allowing a democracy to collapse.
You heard some uplifting words during the State of the Union address, words with all the staying power of vapor from a sewage vent. But a more honest assessment of what this presidency represents came from Trump when he was in his element, surrounded by Mar-a-Lago cronies. “You all just got a lot richer,” he told a bejeweled and pink-faced crowd just a few hours after signing the $1.5 trillion tax cut in December.
Even as Trump spoke before Congress on Tuesday, he monetized the speech, with donors paying to have their name live-streamed across a Trump campaign web page.
A cartoon in Politico showed a naked Trump with a king’s crown and a golf club walking down a red carpet. “I know, I know,” one man says to another. “Just keep thinking about your stock portfolio.”
The question for those yet to join the enablers is: What’s the price — a record stock market in which 10 percent of Americans own 84 percent of the market wealth, a tax cut that burdens the working poor in years to come — for saying nothing?
Evangelical Christians were among the first to sign on to a Stormy Daniels proposition. In the infamous words of Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, Trump gets a “do-over” for the infidelity allegation. Yes, because nothing says family values like a thrice-married man who allegedly cheats on his latest wife just after she gives birth to their son. And Pat Robertson, the mush-headed moralist who still fogs up many a television screen with his gaseous utterances, told Trump last summer, “I’m so proud of everything you’re doing.”
For these self-appointed guardians of the soul, the bargain is bigger than 30 pieces of silver: It’s a promise that Trump will continue to protect their tax-exempt empires, in the name of religious freedom.
For Republicans in Congress, the pact is more consequential. They will ignore the pleadings of career law enforcement officials in order to stoke fantasies of a deep-state coup against the president. These politicians are counting on a base that will look the other way as they undermine Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian tampering with the election.
It’s a good bet. After Trump called the American justice system “a joke” and “a laughingstock,” after he fired the F.B.I. director because he would not pledge loyalty to him, after he told another top lawman that his wife was “a loser,” after he referred to members of the intelligence community as “political hacks,” it was all quiet on the Republican front.
He can falsely say that his State of the Union speech drew the highest audience in history — in fact, it ranked ninth since 1993 — because this president has told more than 2,000 lies in a year and hasn’t been called out for them by the people who signed on to silence.
But what happens if the bargain crumbles? What if the market tanks — as the Dow did in losing more than 500 points a few days ago? Do the sycophants bail? Or do they hold out for something more — like the lobbyists now drafting legislation and gutting regulations that affect the companies that pay them?
Beware, those of you who have made your deal with the Stormy Daniels presidency. You can take your settlement money — as the people who signed up for the fraudulent Trump University did — but you still got suckered.
I invite you to follow me on Twitter (@nytegan).”
The lack of values, intellectual honesty, and common decency from the GOP and the so-called “Evangelical right” (not much recognizable Christianity in their words and actions) is stunning, but, unfortunately, not very surprising.
There’s a simple question here: Do you believe in America or not?
Throughout its history, the country has accepted waves of mostly low-skilled immigrants — German, Irish, Italian, Eastern European, now Latino. There are highly skilled immigrants, too; African newcomers, for example, are better-educated than the U.S. population as a whole, and an estimated 63 percent of people holding “computer and mathematical” jobs in Silicon Valley are foreign-born. But most immigrants over the years have arrived bearing not much more than grit, ambition and a dream.
Does an influx of workers with entry-level skills tend to depress wages? That’s the wrong question. Instead, we should be asking why the federal minimum wage is so low as to be almost irrelevant.
And we should recognize that immigration gives the United States a tremendous competitive advantage. In other advanced countries, populations are aging rapidly. Immigration provides a steady stream of younger workers whose brain and brawn keep programs such as Medicare and Social Security viable.
The only coherent — if despicable — arguments for Trump’s plan are racial and cultural. The way they used to put it in the Jim Crow days was succinct: White is right.”
The results are just as clear as in the German case. Between 2014 and 2016 the counties that embrace diversity accounted for 72 percent of the nation’s increased economic output and two-thirds of the new jobs. The approximately 85 percent of counties that support restrictionists like Donald Trump accounted for a measly 28 percent of the growth.
Republicans’ problem is that since George W. Bush left town they’ve become the East Germans of the 21st century. They have embraced a cultural model that produces low growth and low dynamism. No wonder they want to erect a wall.
Progressives say Republicans oppose immigration because of bigotry. But it’s not that simple. It’s more accurate to say restrictionists are stuck in a mono-cultural system that undermines their own values: industry, faithfulness and self-discipline. Of course they react with defensive animosity to the immigrants who out-hustle and out-build them. You’d react negatively, too, if confronted with people who are better versions of what you wish you were yourself.”
You can can read the complete versions of both op-eds, which I highly recommend, at the above links.
When you’re coming from the same places as Jim Crow and the East Germans, there is no acceptable “rational basis” for the restrictionist agenda. It’s bad for America as well as for immigrants. But, it’s difficult or impossible to make rational arguments against deeply held, factually incorrect, irrational beliefs, particularly those based on racial, economic, cultural, and class bias. That’s probably why rational “immigration reform” has been, and remains, so difficult to achieve.
And, having seen thousands of migrants and their families come before me at the Arlington Immigration Court over the years, gotten to know many of their stories, and having represented immigrants, entrepreneurs, and businesses during my time in private practice, there is no doubt that Brooks is right: they “out-hustle and out-build” many of those “native-born” Americans who despise and look down on them.
And, it’s not just the doctors, professors, and top execs — folks who pound nails, lay foundations, make food, sweep floors, put on roofs , and pick our produce are also performing essential services that keep our country going — and, in many if not all cases, doing it better than the rest of us could or would.Really, how long would YOU last picking lettuce or laying shingles on a 100 degree day? And, how GOOD would you really be at it? There is more “skill” to so-called “unskilled” work than most of us in the “privileged classes” want to admit!
“WASHINGTON — A secret, highly contentious Republican memo reveals that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein approved an application to extend surveillance of a former Trump campaign associate shortly after taking office last spring, according to three people familiar with it.
The renewal shows that the Justice Department under President Trump saw reason to believe that the associate, Carter Page, was acting as a Russian agent. But the reference to Mr. Rosenstein’s actions in the memo — a much-disputed document that paints the investigation into Russian election meddling as tainted from the start — indicates that Republicans may be moving to seize on his role as they seek to undermine the inquiry.
The memo’s primary contention is that F.B.I. and Justice Department officials failed to adequately explain to an intelligence court judge in initially seeking a warrant for surveillance of Mr. Page that they were relying in part on research by an investigator, Christopher Steele, that had been financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Democrats who have read the document say Republicans have cherry-picked facts to create a misleading and dangerous narrative. But in their efforts to discredit the inquiry, Republicans could potentially use Mr. Rosenstein’s decision to approve the renewal to suggest that he failed to properly vet a highly sensitive application for a warrant to spy on Mr. Page, who served as a Trump foreign policy adviser until September 2016.
A handful of senior Justice Department officials can approve an application to the secret surveillance court, but in practice that responsibility often falls to the deputy attorney general. No information has publicly emerged that the Justice Department or the F.B.I. did anything improper while seeking the surveillance warrant involving Mr. Page.
Mr. Trump has long been mistrustful of Mr. Rosenstein, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, who appointed the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and now oversees his investigation into Mr. Trump’s campaign and possible obstruction of justice by the president. Mr. Trump considered firing Mr. Rosenstein last summer. Instead, he ordered Mr. Mueller to be fired, then backed down after the White House counsel refused to carry out the order, The New York Times reported last week.
Mr. Trump is now again telling associates that he is frustrated with Mr. Rosenstein, according to one official familiar with the conversations.
It is difficult to judge whether Republicans’ criticism of the surveillance has merit. Although House members have been allowed to view the Republican memo in a secure setting, both that memo and a Democratic one in rebuttal remain shrouded in secrecy. And the applications to obtain and renew the warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are even more closely held. Only a small handful of members of Congress and staff members have reviewed them.
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, whose staff wrote the memo, could vote as early as Monday, using an obscure House rule, to effectively declassify its contents and make it available to the public. Mr. Trump would have five days to try to block their effort, potentially setting up a high-stakes standoff between the president and his Justice Department, which opposes its immediate release.
The White House has made clear to the Justice Department in recent days that it wants the Republican memo to be made public. Asked about the issue on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Marc Short, the White House’s head of legislative affairs, said that if the memo outlined serious concerns, “the American people should know that.”
But Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general, warned in a letter last week to the committee’s chairman, Representative Devin Nunes of California, that it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release a memo drawing on classified information without official review and pleaded with the committee to consult the Justice Department. He said the department was “unaware of any wrongdoing related to the FISA process.”
To obtain the warrant involving Mr. Page, the government needed to show probable cause that he was acting as an agent of Russia. Once investigators get approval from the Justice Department for a warrant, prosecutors take it to a surveillance court judge, who decides whether to approve it.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment, and a spokesman for Mr. Nunes did not reply to requests for comment. The people familiar with the contents of the memo spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details remained secret.
A White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, said in a statement: “The president has been clear publicly and privately that he wants absolute transparency throughout this process. Based on numerous news reports, top officials at the F.B.I. have engaged in conduct that shows bias against President Trump and bias for Hillary Clinton. While President Trump has the utmost respect and support for the rank-and-file members of the F.B.I., the anti-Trump bias at the top levels that appear to have existed is troubling.”
Mr. Page, a former Moscow-based investment banker who later founded an investment company in New York, had been on the F.B.I.’s radar for years. In 2013, an investigation revealed that a Russian spy had tried to recruit him. Mr. Page was never charged with any wrongdoing, and he denied that he would ever have cooperated with Russian intelligence officials.
But a trip Mr. Page took to Russia in July 2016 while working on Mr. Trump’s campaign caught the bureau’s attention again, and American law enforcement officials began conducting surveillance on him in the fall of 2016, shortly after he left the campaign. It is unclear what they learned about Mr. Page between then and when they sought the order’s renewal roughly six months later. It is also unknown whether the surveillance court granted the extension.
The renewal effort came in the late spring, sometime after the Senate confirmed Mr. Rosenstein as the Justice Department’s No. 2 official in late April. Around that time, following Mr. Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director in May, Mr. Rosenstein appointed Mr. Mueller, a former head of the bureau, to take over the department’s Russia investigation. Mr. Rosenstein is overseeing the inquiry because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself.
Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, who is close to Mr. Trump and House Republicans, signaled interest in Mr. Rosenstein this month as news of the memo’s existence first circulated, asking on air if Mr. Rosenstein had played a role in extending the surveillance. “I’m very interested about Rod Rosenstein in all of this,” he said.
In a speech on Friday in Norfolk, Va., Mr. Sessions appeared to wade into the debate. Without mentioning the Republican memo, he said that federal investigations must be free of bias, and that he would not condone “a culture of defensiveness.” While unfair criticism should be rebutted, he added, “it can never be that this department conceals errors when they occur.”
Man, “Ol’ Vladi P” must wake up with an ear-to-ear grin every single morning! How could it get any better for him!
First, notwithstanding a solid year of totally unpresidential performance, moronic Tweets, intentional divisiveness, blatant lies, wanton environmental destruction, attacks on American’s health, kleptocracy, overt promotion of income inequality, and abandonment of American world leadership, about one-third of American voters love having a puppet (even an evil and incompetent one) for a President!Sometimes in the former “Soviet Satellites” that the old KGB-man loved so much, the “chosen one” never, ever got to that support level!
And, as if that’s not enough, Vladi’s “GOP Fellow Travelers” are busy tearing down the fabric of the American justice system and at the same time insuring that nobody will ever get to the bottom of Vladi’s well-documented attempts to “tank” the American electoral system and the several already-documented (formerly) secret contacts between officials of the Trump campaign and Vladi’s chosen Russian agents.
“Wow,” Vladi’s thinking, “all my predecessors spent all that time, money, and trouble ‘weaponizing,’ building up our military, overthrowing pro-American governments, infiltrating, starting wars in third countries, and supporting terrorists. But, I’ve gotten all of this from the dumb Yanks pretty much for free — just the investment in some basic hacking equipment that most high school kids could have developed in the basement, a few juicy rumors about “HRC,” and some rubles converted to dollars to underwrite some fake “consulting contracts” and I’ve got these guys destroying American democracy and world leadership without me lifting a finger or firing a shot! I’m a genius,” thinks Vladi!
Leaving the question, if Vladi’s a “genius” what does that make us, our elected puppet President, and his enablers?
Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman report for the NYT:
“WASHINGTON — President Trump ordered the firing last June of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive.
The West Wing confrontation marks the first time Mr. Trump is known to have tried to fire the special counsel. Mr. Mueller learned about the episode in recent months as his investigators interviewed current and former senior White House officials in his inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice.
Amid the first wave of news media reports that Mr. Mueller was examining a possible obstruction case, the president began to argue that Mr. Mueller had three conflicts of interest that disqualified him from overseeing the investigation, two of the people said.
First, he claimed that a dispute years ago over fees at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., had prompted Mr. Mueller, the F.B.I. director at the time, to resign his membership. The president also said Mr. Mueller could not be impartial because he had most recently worked for the law firm that previously represented the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Finally, the president said, Mr. Mueller had been interviewed to return as the F.B.I. director the day before he was appointed special counsel in May.
After receiving the president’s order to fire Mr. Mueller, the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, refused to ask the Justice Department to dismiss the special counsel, saying he would quit instead, the people said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.”
Read the complete story at the link.
More “not-so-bright Third World dictator” than “stable genius.” The minority of Americans who voted for this evil clown have debased our once-great nation! And the GOP continues to enable the destruction of American democracy and values.
Michael D. Shear & Sheryl Gay Stolberg report for the NYT:
“WASHINGTON — President Trump proposed legislation on Thursday that would provide a path to citizenship for as many as 1.8 million young, undocumented immigrants in exchange for an end to decades of family-based migration policies, a massive border wall and a vast crackdown on other illegal immigrants already living in the country.
Describing the plan as “extremely generous” but a take-it-or-leave-it proposal by the president, White House officials said they hoped it will be embraced by conservatives and centrists in Congress as the first step in an even broader effort to fix the nation’s broken immigration system.
But the plan — drafted by Stephen Miller, the president’s hard-line domestic policy adviser and John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff — was immediately rejected by Democrats, pro-immigration activists and some Republicans, with some describing it as nothing but an attempt to rid the country of immigrants and close the nation’s borders.
Republican and Democratic senators are working on a narrower immigration plan of their own, hoping that if it can pass the Senate with a strong, bipartisan majority, it would be Mr. Trump who would have the take-it-or-leave-it decision.
“We will oppose it. Most if not all Democrats will oppose it. Some Republicans will, too,” said Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group. “We are not going to allow Stephen Miller to exploit a crisis that he and his boss created to take a wrecking ball to the Statue of Liberty and enact his nativist wish list.”
Eddie Vale, a Democratic consultant working with a coalition of immigration groups, described the president’s proposal as an effort to sabotage bipartisan talks and win passage of “a white supremacist wish list.”
Anti-immigration activists also assailed the plan, though for the opposite reason. The Breitbart.com website greeted word of the president’s plan with the headline: “Amnesty Don Suggests Citizenship for Illegal Aliens.”
Under Mr. Trump’s plan, described to reporters by senior White House officials, young immigrants who were brought into the United States as children, would be granted legal status, allowed to work legally, and could become citizens over a 10-to-12 year period if they remain out of trouble with the law.
Officials said that would include about 690,000 people who signed up for protection under an Obama-era program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, but also for another 1.1 million undocumented immigrants who would have qualified for the program but never applied. Mr. Trump ended the DACA program last September.
In exchange, Congress would have to create a $25 billion trust fund to pay for a southern border wall, dramatically boost immigration arrests, speed up deportations, crack down on people who overstay their visas, prevent citizens from bringing their parents to the United States, and end a State Department program designed to encourage migration from underrepresented countries.
White House officials said that the list of enhanced security measures — which have been on anti-immigration wish lists for decades — were nonnegotiable parts of their plan. They warned that if no deal is reached, young DACA recipients will face deportation when the program fully expires on March 5.”
Read the complete article at the link.
Looks more like political grandstanding than a serious proposal geared to attract bipartisan support. About all you need to know is that it was put together by White Nationalist racist Steven Miller.
And so in this gateway city on the Rio Grande [Laredo], inside a building rimmed with barbed wire, past security guards and locked doors, immigration judges on short details started hearing cases in a cramped courtroom that was hastily arranged in March.
But seven months later, the case of Oscar Arnulfo Ramírez, an immigrant from El Salvador, was not going quickly. He was sitting in detention, waiting for a hearing on his asylum claim. And waiting some more.
The court files, his lawyer discovered, showed that Ramírez’s case had been completed and closed two months earlier. Since the case was closed, the court clerk couldn’t schedule a new hearing to get it moving again. In fact, the clerk didn’t even have a record that he was still detained.
“It’s as if he’s non-existent,” his lawyer,, said. “He’s still in a detention center. He’s still costing the government and the American people tax dollars. But there’s no proceeding going on. He’s just sitting there doing completely nothing.”
Ramírez’s case was one of many signs of disarray in the improvised court in Laredo, which emerged during a weeklong visit in late October by a reporter from The Marshall Project and a radio producer from This American Life. Instead of the efficiency the Trump administration sought, the proceedings were often chaotic. Hearing schedules were erratic, case files went missing. Judges were exasperated by confusion and delays. Like Ramírez, detainees were lost in the system for months on end.
For a view of the border crossing in Laredo and the grinding process migrants begin there, check out Kirsten Luce’s photosfrom the gateway on the Rio Grande.
With the intense pressure on the court to finish cases, immigrants who had run from frightening threats in their home countries were deported without having a chance to tell the stories that might have persuaded a judge to let them stay.
. . . .
For Paola Tostado, the lawyer, Ramírez was not the first client to fall through the cracks in Laredo. Even though she is based in Brownsville, three hours away, Tostado was making the pre-dawn drive up the highway as many as three times a week, to appear next to her clients in court in Laredo whenever she could.
Another Salvadoran asylum-seeker she represented, whose case was similarly mislaid, had gone for four months with no hearing and no prospect of having one. Eventually he despaired. When ICE officers presented him with a document agreeing to deportation, without consulting Tostado he had signed it.
“I’ve had situations where we come to an individual client who has been detained over six months and the file is missing,” she said. “It’s not in San Antonio. It’s not in Laredo. So where is it? Is it on the highway?”
In her attempts to free Ramírez, Tostado consulted with the court clerk in San Antonio, with the ICE prosecutors and officers detaining him, but no one could say how to get the case started again.
Then, one day after reporters sat in the courtroom and spoke with Tostado about the case, ICE released him to pursue his case in another court, without explanation.
But by December Tostado had two other asylum-seekers who had been stalled in the system for more than seven months. She finally got the court to schedule hearings for them in the last days of the year.
“I think the bottom line is, there’s no organization in this Laredo court,” Tostado said. “It’s complete chaos and at the end of the day it’s not fair. Because you have clients who say, I just want to go to court. If it’s a no, it’s a no. If it’s a yes, it’s a yes.”
Unlike criminal court, in immigration court people have no right to a lawyer paid by the government. But there was no reliable channel in Laredo for immigrants confined behind walls to connect with low-cost lawyers. Most lawyers worked near the regular courts in the region, at least two hours’ drive away.
Sandra Berrios, another Salvadoran seeking asylum, learned the difference a lawyer could make. She found one only by the sheerest luck. After five months in detention, she was days away from deportation when she was cleaning a hallway in the center, doing a job she had taken to keep busy. A lawyer walked by. Berrios blurted a plea for help.
The lawyer was from a corporate law firm, Jones Day, which happened to be offering free services. Two of its lawyers, Christopher Maynard and Adria Villar, took on her case. They learned that Berrios had been a victim of vicious domestic abuse. A Salvadoran boyfriend who had brought her to the United States in 2009 had turned on her a few years later when he wanted to date other women.
Once he had punched her in the face in a Walmart parking lot, prompting bystanders to call the police. He had choked her, burned her legs with cigarettes, broken her fingers and cut her hands with knives. Berrios had scars to show the judge. She had a phone video she had made when the boyfriend was attacking her and records of calls to the Laredo police.
The lawyers also learned that the boyfriend had returned to El Salvador to avoid arrest, threatening to kill Berrios if he ever saw her there.
She had started a new relationship in Texas with an American citizen who wanted to marry her. But she’d been arrested by the Border Patrol at a highway checkpoint when the two of them were driving back to Laredo from an outing at a Gulf Coast beach.
After Berrios been detained for nine months, at a hearing in July with Maynard arguing her case, a judge canceled her deportation and let her stay. In a later interview, Berrios gave equal parts credit to God and the lawyers. “I would be in El Salvador by this time, already dead,” she said. “The judges before that just wanted to deport me.”
. . . .
We have heard frustration across the board,” said Ashley Tabaddor, a judge from Los Angeles who is the association [NAIJ] president. She and other union officials clarified that their statements did not represent the views of the Justice Department. “We’ve definitely heard from our members,” she said, “where they’ve had to reset hundreds of cases from their home docket to go to detention facilities where the docket was haphazardly scheduled, where the case might not have been ready, where the file has not reached the facility yet.”
Another association official, Lawrence Burman, a judge who normally sits in Arlington, Va., volunteered for a stint in a detention center in the rural Louisiana town of Jena, 220 miles northwest of New Orleans. Four judges were sent, Burman said, but there was only enough work for two.
“So I had a lot of free time, which was pretty useless in Jena, Louisiana,” Burman said. “All of us in that situation felt very bad that we have cases back home that need to be done. But in Jena I didn’t have any of my files.” Once he had studied the cases before him in Jena, Burman said, he was left to “read the newspaper or my email.”
The impact on Burman’s case docket back in Arlington was severe. Dozens of cases he was due to hear during the weeks he was away had to be rescheduled, including some that had been winding through the court and were ready for a final decision. But with the enormous backlog in Arlington, Burman had no openings on his calendar before November 2020.
Immigrants who had already waited years to know whether they could stay in the country now would wait three years more. Such disruptions were reported in other courts, including some of the nation’s largest in Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles.
“Many judges came back feeling that their time was not wisely used,” Judge Tabaddor, the association president, said, “and it was to the detriment of their own docket.”
Justice Department officials say they are pleased with the results of the surge. A department spokesman, Devin O’Malley, did not comment for this story but pointed to congressional testimony by James McHenry, the director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review. “Viewed holistically, the immigration judge mobilization has been a success,” he said, arguing it had a “positive net effect on nationwide caseloads.”
Justice Department officials calculated that judges on border details completed 2700 more cases than they would have if they had remained in home courts. Officials acknowledge that the nationwide caseload continued to rise during last year, reaching 657,000 cases by December. But they noted that the rate of growth had slowed, to .39 percent monthly increase at the end of the year from 3.39 percent monthly when Trump took office.
Judge Tabaddor, the association president, said the comparison was misleading: cases of immigrants in detention, like the ones the surge judges heard, always take priority and go faster than cases of people out on release, she said. Meanwhile, according to records obtained by the National Immigrant Justice Center, as many as 22,000 hearings in judges’ home courts had to be rescheduled in the first three months of the surge alone, compounding backlogs.
. . . .”
Read Julia’s complete article at the above link. Always enjoy getting quotes from my former Arlington colleague Judge Lawrence O. (“The Burmanator”) Burman. He tends to “tell it like it is” in the fine and time-honored Arlington tradition of my now retired Arlington colleague Judge Wayne R. Iskra. And, Judge Iskra didn’t even have the “cover” of being an officer of the NAIJ. Certainly beats the “pabulum” served up by the PIO at the “Sessionized” EOIR!
Also, kudos to one of my “former firms” Jones Day, its National Managing Partner Steve Brogan, and the Global Pro Bono Counsel Laura Tuell for opening the Laredo Office exclusively for pro bono immigration representation, As firms like jones Day take the “immigration litigation field,” and give asylum applicants the “A+ representation” they need and deserve, I predict that it’s going to become harder for the Article III U.S. Courts to ignore the legal shortcomings of the Immigration Courts under Sessions.
A brief aside. My friend Laura Tuell was a “Guest Professor” during a session of my Immigration Law & Policy class at Georgetown Law last June. On the final exam, one of my students wrote that Laura had inspired him or her to want a career embodying values like hers! Wow! Talk about making a difference on many levels!And talk about the difference in representing real valuesas opposed to the legal obfuscation and use of the legal system to inflict wanton cruelty represented by Sessions and his restrictionist ilk.
We also should recognize the amazing dedication and efforts of pro bono and “low bono” lawyers like Paola Tostado, mentioned in Julia’s report. “Even though she is based in Brownsville, three hours away, Tostado was making the pre-dawn drive up the highway as many as three times a week, to appear next to her clients in court in Laredo whenever she could.” What do you think that does to her law practice? As I’ve said before, folks like Paola Tostado, Christopher Maynard, Adria Villar, and Laura Tuell are the “real heroes” of Due Process in the Immigraton Court system.
Compare the real stories of desperate, bona fide asylum seekers and their hard-working dedicated lawyers being “stiffed” and mistreated in the Immigration Court with Sessions’s recent false narrative to EOIR about an asylum system rife with fraud promoted by “dirty attorneys.” Sessions’s obvious biases against migrants, both documented and undocumented, and particularly against Latino asylum seekers on the Southern Border, make him glaringly unqualified to be either our Attorney General or in charge of our U.S. Immigration Court system.
No amount of “creative book-cooking” by EOIR and the DOJ can disguise the human and due process disaster unfolding here. This is exactly what I mean when I refer to “”Aimless Docket Reshuffling” (“ADR”), and it’s continuing to increase the Immigration Court backlogs (now at a stunning 660,000) notwithstanding that there are now more Immigration Judges on duty than there were at the end of the last Administration.
On September 30, 2016, near the end of the Obama Administration, the Immigration Court backlog stood at a whopping 516,000! Not good!
But, now let go to Nov. 30, 2017, a period of 14 months later, 10 of these full months under the policies of the Trump Administration. The backlog has mushroomed to a stunning 659,000 cases — a gain of 153,000 in less than two years!And, let’s not forget, that’s with more Immigration Judges on board!
By contrast, during the last two full years of the Obama Administration — September 30, 2014 to September 30, 2016 — the backlog rose from 408,000 to 516,000. Nothing to write home about — 108,000 — but not nearly as bad as the “Trump era” has been to date!
Those who know me, know that I’m no “fan” of the Obama Administration’s stewardship over the U.S. Immigration Courts. Wrongful and highly politicized “prioritization” of recently arrived children, women, and families from the Northern Triangle resulted in “primo ADR” that sent the system into a tailspin that has only gotten worse. And, the glacial two-year cycle for the hiring of new Immigration Judges was totally inexcusable.
But, the incompetence and disdain for true Due Process by the Trump Administration under Sessions is at a whole new level. It’s clearly “Amateur Night at the Bijou” in what is perhaps the nation’s largest Federal Court system. And, disturbingly, nobody except a few of us “Immigration Court Groupies” seems to care.
So, it looks like we’re going to have to stand by and watch while Sessions “implodes” or “explodes” the system. Then, folks might take notice. Because the collapse of the U.S. Immigration Courts is going to take a big chunk of the Article III Federal Judiciary with it.
Why? Because approximately 80% of the administrative review petitions in the U.S. Courts of Appeals are generated by the BIA. That’s over 10% of the total caseload. And, in Circuits like the 9th Circuit, it’s a much higher percentage.
The U.S. Immigration Judges will continue to be treated like “assembly line workers” and due process will be further short-shrifted in the “pedal faster” atmosphere intentionally created by Sessions and McHenry. The BIA, in turn, will be pressured to further “rubber stamp” the results as long as they are removal orders. The U.S. Courts of Appeals, and in some cases the U.S. District Courts, are going to be left to clean up the mess created by Sessions & co.
We need an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court with competent, unbiased judicial administration focused on insuring individuals’ Due Process now! We’re ignoring the obvious at our country’s peril!
“Expulsions on the scale the Trump administration envisions are hardly unknown to history. Even modern countries, within memory, have sought to rid themselves of entire populations. It tends neither to turn out well nor reflect well on the expelling country. Two hundred thousand people may not sound like a huge number on a historic scale. But the population of San Salvador, El Salvador’s capital, is only 280,000. Money sent home by Salvadorans living abroad, most in the United States, where protected status conveys work authorization, amounts to 17 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the country’s central bank. The destabilizing effect of cutting off this flow of capital is obvious.
The potential economic effects in this country are less obvious, but real. Contrary to what President Trump might think, the Salvadoran community is highly productive. According to the Center for Migration Studies, a think tank in New York affiliated with a Catholic group, the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles, 88 percent of Salvadorans participate in the labor force (the construction and food service industries are their biggest employers), compared with 63 percent of Americans as a whole. They pay taxes and own homes. Since individuals with protected status are ineligible for welfare and other social benefits, this is a group that contributes to the country while taking little.
And the human cost of expelling them is nearly unbearable. More than half have been in this country for at least 20 years. During that time they have become parents of some 200,000 United States-born citizens. Ten percent of the protected-status Salvadorans are married to legal residents. What exactly does the Trump administration think should become of these families? “Not even a dog would leave their babies behind,” Elmer Pena, an Indianapolis homeowner who has worked for the same company there for 18 years, said to USA Today. His children, United States citizens, are 10, 8 and 6 years old.
. . . .
Revisiting El Salvador’s bloody history is outside the scope of this column. But in this #MeToo era of standing with one’s fellow humans, it seems to me that we owe something to that country beyond the sundering of families and the expulsion of people who did exactly what they were supposed to do: make the best of the opportunity extended to them in grace nearly a generation ago. Were we a better country then? Are we comfortable with what we have become?”
Read thge complete op-ed at the link.
And, over at the Washington Post, Charles Lane had this to offer:
“This forgotten history has contemporary lessons, which we should try to understand lest President Trump’s policy prove not merely morally questionable but also counterproductive.
El Salvador is the most densely populated Spanish-speaking country on the planet; yet a small elite historically controlled its best farmlands.
The struggle for existence there is intense, sometimes violent. And so generations of Salvadorans have left in search of land and work — and tranquility. Neighboring Honduras was once a crucial demographic escape valve. The 1969 war closed it, and disrupted the Central American common market, destabilizing El Salvador politically. There was a savage 1979-1992 civil war between U.S.-supported governments and Marxist guerrillas.
That conflict drove hundreds of thousands to the United States, establishing a migratory pattern that continues to this day. The 2.1 million Salvadoran-origin people now constitute the third-largest Hispanic group in the United States, after those of Mexican and Puerto Rican origin, according to the Pew Research Center.
Salvadoran labor helped build the shiny new downtown of Washington, D.C., one of several cities — including Houston and Los Angeles — that would barely be recognizable anymore without a Salvadoran community.
. . . .
Still, he is correct to focus on the deeper causes of migration, and the United States’ chronic failure positively to affect them. At the very least, history provides cause for concern that, by ending “temporary protected status” next year for nearly one-tenth of all Salvadoran-origin people here, Trump might ultimately destabilize Central America further.
. . . .
At the same time, it would deprive the Salvadoran economy of millions of dollars in cash remittances, while requiring it to house and employ a large number of returnees.
Of course, that’s on the implausible assumption that most affected Salvadorans wouldn’t try to stay, thus swelling the very undocumented population Trump is supposedly bent on shrinking.
MS-13 itself metastasized in El Salvador as the unintended consequence of a (defensible) American effort, begun under the Clinton administration, to deport members convicted of crimes in the United States. The gang began in L.A.’s Salvadoran community; once back in El Salvador, its members took advantage of corrupt, weak law enforcement to expand and, eventually, reach back into the United States.
Of all the United States’ international relationships, surely the most underrated — in terms of tangible impact on people’s everyday lives, both here and abroad — is the one with El Salvador. Any policy that fails to take that into account is doomed to fail.”
Read the complete article at the link.
Of course the Trump Administration neither cares about the human effects on Salvadorans and their families nor fully understands and appreciates the adverse effects on both the U.S. and El Salvador. And, this Administration arrogantly and stupidly thinks that it can control human migration patterns solely by “macho” enforcement actions on this end. That’s why they are on track for an immigration policy that is “FUBAR Plus.” Others will be left to wipe up the tears and pick up the pieces! But, then, taking responsibility for failure isn’t a Trump specialty either.
“These days calling someone a “know-nothing” could mean one of two things.
If you’re a student of history, you might be comparing that person to a member of the Know Nothing party of the 1850s, a bigoted, xenophobic, anti-immigrant group that at its peak included more than a hundred members of Congress and eight governors. More likely, however, you’re suggesting that said person is willfully ignorant, someone who rejects facts that might conflict with his or her prejudices.
The sad thing is that America is currently ruled by people who fit both definitions. And the know-nothings in power are doing all they can to undermine the very foundations of American greatness.
The parallels between anti-immigrant agitation in the mid-19th century and Trumpism are obvious. Only the identities of the maligned nationalities have changed.
After all, Ireland and Germany, the main sources of that era’s immigration wave, were the shithole countries of the day. Half of Ireland’s population emigrated in the face of famine, while Germans were fleeing both economic and political turmoil. Immigrants from both countries, but the Irish in particular, were portrayed as drunken criminals if not subhuman. They were also seen as subversives: Catholics whose first loyalty was to the pope. A few decades later, the next great immigration wave — of Italians, Jews and many other peoples — inspired similar prejudice.
And here we are again. Anti-Irish prejudice, anti-German prejudice, anti-Italian prejudice are mostly things of the past (although anti-Semitism springs eternal), but there are always new groups to hate.
But today’s Republicans — for this isn’t just about Donald Trump, it’s about a whole party — aren’t just Know-Nothings, they’re also know-nothings. The range of issues on which conservatives insist that the facts have a well-known liberal bias just keeps widening.
One result of this embrace of ignorance is a remarkable estrangementbetween modern conservatives and highly educated Americans, especially but not only college faculty. The right insists that the scarcity of self-identified conservatives in the academy is evidence of discrimination against their views, of political correctness run wild.
. . . .
Clearly, we need policies to spread the benefits of growth and innovation more widely. But one way to think of Trumpism is as an attempt to narrow regional disparities, not by bringing the lagging regions up, but by cutting the growing regions down. For that’s what attacks on education and immigration, key drivers of the new economy’s success stories, would do.
So will our modern know-nothings prevail? I have no idea. What’s clear, however, is that if they do, they won’t make America great again — they’ll kill the very things that made it great.”
Read Krugman’s full op-ed at the link.
The anti-intellectual, anti-science, anti-arts, anti-progress tilt of the modern GOP is almost as disturbing as their White Nationalism, racism, and xenophobia. It all means trouble for our country.
Folks, as we take a few minutes today to remember Dr. King, his vision for a better America, and his inspiring “I Have A Dream Speech,” we have to face the fact that everything Dr. King stood for is under a vicious and concerted attack, the likes of which we haven’t seen in America for approximately 50 years, by individuals elected to govern by a minority of voters in our country.
So, today, I’m offering you a “potpourri” of how and why Dr.King’s Dream has “gone south,” so to speak, and how those of us who care about social justice and due process in America can nevertheless resurrect it and move forward together for a greater and more tolerant American that celebrates the talents, contributions, and humanity of all who live here!.
On Martin Luther King’s birthday, a look back at some disquieting events in race relations in 2017.
Nearly 50 years ago, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. went to the mountaintop and looked out over the promised land. In a powerful and prophetic speech on April 3, 1968, he told a crowd at the Mason Temple in Memphis that while there would certainly be difficult days ahead, he had no doubt that the struggle for racial justice would be successful.
“I may not get there with you,” he said. “But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And so I am happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything.”
The following day, he was assassinated.
The intervening years have been full of steps forward and steps backward, of extraordinary changes as well as awful reminders of what has not changed. What would King have made of our first black president? What would he have thought had he seen neo-Nazis marching through the streets of Charlottesville, Va., so many years after his death? How would he have viewed the shooting by police of unarmed black men in cities around the country — or the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement? He would surely have heard the assertions that we have become a “post-racial” society because we elected (and reelected) Barack Obama. But would he have believed it?
This past year was not terribly heartening on the civil rights front. It was appalling enough that racist white nationalists marched in Charlottesville in August. But it was even more shocking that President Trump seemed incapable of making the most basic moral judgment about that march; instead, he said that there were some “very fine people” at the rally of neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
Racial injustices that bedeviled the country in King’s day — voter suppression, segregated schools, hate crimes — have not gone away. A report released last week by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on inequities in the funding of public schools concludes — and this should surprise no one — that students of color living in poor, segregated neighborhoods are often relegated to low-quality schools simply due to where they live. States continued in 2017 to pass laws that make it harder, rather than easier, for people of color to vote.
The Trump administration also seems determined to undo two decades of Justice Department civil rights work, cutting back on investigations into the excessive use of force and racial bias by police departments. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions in March ordered a review of all existing federal consent decrees with local police departments with the possibility of dismantling them — a move that could set back police reform by many years.
Here in Los Angeles County, this statistic is telling: 40% of the estimated 57,000 homeless people — the most desperate and destitute residents of the county — are black. Yet black residents make up only 9% of the L.A. County population.
But despite bad news on several fronts, what have been heartening over the last year are the objections raised by so many people across the country.
Consider the statues of Confederate generals and slave owners that were brought down across the country. Schools and other institutions rebranded buildings that were formerly named after racists.
The Black Lives Matter movement has grown from a small street and cyber-protest group into a more potent civil rights organization focusing on changing institutions that have traditionally marginalized black people.
When football quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest, as he said, a country that oppresses black people, he was denounced by many (including Trump) but emulated by others. Kaepernick has been effectively banished from professional football but he started a movement.
Roy Moore was defeated for a Senate seat in Alabama by a surge of black voters, particularly black women. (But no sooner did he lose than Joe Arpaio — the disgraced, vehemently anti-immigrant former Arizona sheriff — announced that he is running for Senate there.)
So on what would have been King’s 89th birthday, it is clear that the United States is not yet the promised land he envisioned in the last great speech of his life. But we agree with him that it’s still possible to get there.”
See this short HuffPost video on “Why MLK’s Message Still Matters Today!”
Read about how the Arizona GOP has resurrected, and in some instances actually welcomed, “Racist Joe” Arpaio, an unapologetic anti-Hispanic bigot and convicted scofflaw. “Racist Joe” was pardoned by Trump and is now running for the GOP nomination to replace retiring Arizona GOP Senator Jeff Flake, who often has been a critic of Trump. One thing “Racist Joe’s” candidacy is doing is energizing the Latino community that successfully fought to remove him from the office of Sheriff and to have him brought to justice for his racist policies.
Spared from the threat of deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, she campaigned to oust Joe Arpaio when he unsuccessfully ran for reelection as Maricopa County sheriff in 2016. She knocked on hundreds of doors in south Phoenix’s predominantly Latino neighborhoods to register voters. She made phone calls, walked on college campuses. Her message was direct, like the name of the group she worked with, Bazta Arpaio, a take on the Spanish word basta — enough Arpaio.
But now, the 85-year-old former sheriff is back and running for Senate. Sanchez, who had planned to step away from politics to focus on her studies at Grand Canyon University, is back as well, organizing once more.
“If he thinks he can come back and terrorize the entire state like he did Maricopa County, it’s not going to happen,” Sanchez, 20, said. “I’m not going to let it happen.”
Arpaio enters a crowded Republican primary and may not emerge as the party’s nominee, but his bid has already galvanized Arizona’s Latino electorate — one of the country’s largest and fastest-growing voter blocs.
Organizers like Sanchez, who thought they might sit out the midterm elections, rushed back into offices and started making calls. Social media groups that had gone dormant have resurrected with posts reminding voters that Arpaio was criminally convicted of violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos.
“We’ve been hearing, ‘Is it true Arpaio is back? OK, what can we do to help?’” said Montserrat Arredondo, director of One Arizona, a Phoenix nonprofit group focused on increasing Latino voter turnout. “People were living in terror when Arpaio was in office. They haven’t forgotten.”
In 2008, 796,000 Latinos were eligible to vote in the state, according to One Arizona. By 2016, that potential voting pool jumped to 1.1 million. (California tops the nation with the most Latinos eligible to vote, almost 6.9 million.)
In 2016, Latinos accounted for almost 20% of all registered voters in Arizona. Latinos make up about 30% of Arizona’s population.
. . . .
Last year, President Trump pardoned Arpaio of a criminal conviction for violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos. When announcing his candidacy Tuesday, Arpaio pledged his full support to the president and his policies.
On Saturday, Arpaio made his first public appearance since announcing his candidacy, attending a gathering of Maricopa County Republicans. He was unmoved when asked about the enthusiasm his candidacy has created among Latinos.
“Many of them hate me for enforcing the law,” he said. “I can’t change that. … All I know is that I have my supporters, they’re going to support who they want. I’m in this to win it though.”
Arpaio, gripping about a dozen red cardboard signs that read “We need Sheriff Joe Arpaio in DC,” walked through the crowd where he mingled with, among others, former state Sen. Kelli Ward and U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, who also are seeking the GOP Senate nomination. Overall, Arpaio was widely met with enthusiasm from attendees.
“So glad you’re back,” said a man wearing a “Vietnam Veteran” hat.
“It’s great to be back,” Arpaio replied.
Arpaio, who handed out business cards touting his once self-proclaimed status as “America’s toughest sheriff,” said he had no regrets from his more than two decades in office.
“Not a single one,” he said. “I spoke my mind and did what needed to be done and would do it the same in a minute.”
In an interview, Arpaio, who still insists he has “evidence” that former President Obama’s birth certificate is forged, a rumor repeatedly shown to be false, did not lay out specific policy platforms, only insisting he’ll get things done in Washington.
During his tenure as sheriff, repeated court rulings against his office for civil rights violations cost local taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.”
Read the complete story at the link.
Professor George Yancy of Emory University writing in the NY Times asks “Will America Choose King’s Dream Or Trump’s Nightmare?”
“Let’s come clean: President Trump is a white racist! Over the past few days, many have written, spoken and shouted this fact, but it needs repeating: President Trump is a white racist! Why repeat it? Because many have been under the grand illusion that America is a “post-racial” nation, a beautiful melting pot where racism is only sporadic, infrequent and expressed by those on the margins of an otherwise mainstream and “decent” America. That’s a lie; a blatant one at that. We must face a very horrible truth. And America is so cowardly when it comes to facing awful truths about itself.
So, as we celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, we must face the fact that we are at a moral crossroad. Will America courageously live out Dr. King’s dream or will it go down the road of bigotry and racist vitriol, preferring to live out Mr. Trump’s nightmare instead? In his autobiography, reflecting on the nonviolent uprising of the people of India, Dr. King wrote, “The way of acquiesce leads to moral and spiritual suicide.” Those of us who defiantly desire to live, and to live out Dr. King’s dream, to make it a reality, must not acquiesce now, precisely when his direst prophetic warning faces us head on.
On the night before he was murdered by a white man on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., Dr. King wrote: “America is going to hell if we don’t use her vast resources to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life.” Our current president, full of hatred and contempt for those children, is the terrifying embodiment of this prophecy.
We desperately need each other at this moment of moral crisis and malicious racist divisiveness. Will we raise our collective voices against Mr. Trump’s white racism and those who make excuses for it or submit and thereby self-destructively kill any chance of fully becoming our better selves? Dr. King also warned us that “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.” To honor Dr. King, we must not remain silent, we must not betray his legacy.
So many Americans suffer from the obsessive need to claim “innocence,” that is, to lie to ourselves. Yet such a lie is part of our moral undoing. While many will deny, continue to lie and claim our national “innocence,” I come bearing deeply troubling, but not surprising, news: White racism is now comfortably located within the Oval Office, right there at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, embodied in our 45th president, one who is, and I think many would agree, must agree, without any hesitation, a white racist. There are many who will resist this characterization, but Mr. Trump has desecrated the symbolic aspirations of America, exhumed forms of white supremacist discourse that so many would assume is spewed only by Ku Klux Klan.”
Read the rest of Professor Yancy’s op-ed at the link.
From lead columnist David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick at the NY Times we get “Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List.”
Donald Trump has been obsessed with race for the entire time he has been a public figure. He had a history of making racist comments as a New York real-estate developer in the 1970s and ‘80s. More recently, his political rise was built on promulgating the lie that the nation’s first black president was born in Kenya. He then launched his campaign with a speech describing Mexicans as rapists.
The media often falls back on euphemisms when describing Trump’s comments about race: racially loaded, racially charged, racially tinged, racially sensitive. And Trump himself has claimed that he is “the least racist person.” But here’s the truth: Donald Trump is a racist. He talks about and treats people differently based on their race. He has done so for years, and he is still doing so.
Here, we have attempted to compile a definitive list of his racist comments – or at least the publicly known ones.
The New York Years
Trump’s real-estate company tried to avoid renting apartments to African-Americans in the 1970s and gave preferential treatment to whites, according to the federal government.
Trump treated black employees at his casinos differently from whites, according to multiple sources. A former hotel executive said Trump criticized a black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks.”
In 1989, Trump took out ads in New York newspapers urging the death penalty for five black and Latino teenagers accused of raping a white woman in Central Park; he argued they were guilty as late as October 2016, more than 10 years after DNA evidence had exonerated them.
In 1989, on NBC, Trump said: “I think sometimes a black may think they don’t have an advantage or this and that. I’ve said on one occasion, even about myself, if I were starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I really believe they do have an actual advantage.”
He uses the gang MS-13 to disparage all immigrants. Among many other statements, he has suggested that Obama’s protection of the Dreamers — otherwise law-abiding immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children — contributed to the spread of MS-13.
In December 2015, Trump called for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” including refusing to readmit Muslim-American citizens who were outside of the country at the time.
“I find nothing more useless than debating the existence of racism, particularly when you are surrounded by evidence of its existence. It feels to me like a way to keep you fighting against the water until you drown.
The debates themselves, I believe, render a simple concept impossibly complex, making the very meaning of “racism” frustratingly murky.
So, let’s strip that away here. Let’s be honest and forthright.
Racism is simply the belief that race is an inherent and determining factor in a person’s or a people’s character and capabilities, rendering some inferior and others superior. These beliefs are racial prejudices.
The history of America is one in which white people used racism and white supremacy to develop a racial caste system that advantaged them and disadvantaged others.
Understanding this, it is not a stretch to understand that Donald Trump’s words and deeds over the course of his life have demonstrated a pattern of expressing racial prejudices that demean people who are black and brown and that play to the racial hostilities of other white people.
It is not a stretch to say that Trump is racist. It’s not a stretch to say that he is a white supremacist. It’s not a stretch to say that Trump is a bigot.
I know of no point during his entire life where he has apologized for, repented of, or sought absolution for any of his racist actions or comments.
Instead, he either denies, deflects or amps up the attack.
Trump is a racist. We can put that baby to bed.
“Racism” and “racist” are simply words that have definitions, and Trump comfortably and unambiguously meets those definitions.
We have unfortunately moved away from the simple definition of racism, to the point where the only people to whom the appellation can be safely applied are the vocal, violent racial archetypes.
Racism doesn’t require hatred, constant expression, or even conscious awareness. We want racism to be fringe rather than foundational. But, wishing isn’t an effective method of eradication.
We have to face this thing, stare it down and fight it back.
The simple acknowledgment that Trump is a racist is the easy part. The harder, more substantive part is this: What are we going to do about it?
First and foremost, although Trump is not the first president to be a racist, we must make him the last. If by some miracle he should serve out his first term, he mustn’t be allowed a second. Voters of good conscience must swarm the polls in 2020.
But before that, those voters must do so later this year, to rid the House and the Senate of as many of Trump’s defenders, apologists and accomplices as possible. Should the time come where impeachment is inevitable, there must be enough votes in the House and Senate to ensure it.
We have to stop thinking that we can somehow separate what racists believe from how they will behave. We must stop believing that any of Trump’s actions are clear of the venom coursing through his convictions. Everything he does is an articulation of who he is and what he believes. Therefore, all policies he supports, positions he takes and appointments he makes are suspect.
And finally, we have to stop giving a pass to the people — whether elected official or average voter — who support and defend his racism. If you defend racism you are part of the racism. It doesn’t matter how much you say that you’re an egalitarian, how much you say that you are race blind, how much you say that you are only interested in people’s policies and not their racist polemics.
As the brilliant James Baldwin once put it: “I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.” When I see that in poll after poll a portion of Trump’s base continues to support his behavior, including on race, I can only conclude that there is no real daylight between Trump and his base. They are part of his racism.
When I see the extraordinary hypocrisy of elected officials who either remain silent in the wake of Trump’s continued racist outbursts or who obliquely condemn him, only to in short order return to defending and praising him and supporting his agenda, I see that there is no real daylight between Trump and them either. They too are part of his racism.
When you see it this way, you understand the enormity and the profundity of what we are facing. There were enough Americans who were willing to accept Trump’s racism to elect him. There are enough people in Washington willing to accept Trump’s racism to defend him. Not only is Trump racist, the entire architecture of his support is suffused with that racism. Racism is a fundamental component of the Trump presidency.
Back over at the Washington Post, op-ed writer E.J. Dionne, Jr., tells us the depressing news that “We could be a much better country. Trump makes it impossible.”
Dionne concludes his piece with the following observations about our current “Dreamer” debate:
“Our current debate is frustrating, and not only because Trump doesn’t understand what “mutual toleration” and “forbearance” even mean. By persistently making himself, his personality, his needs, his prejudices and his stability the central topics of our political conversation, Trump is blocking the public conversation we ought to be having about how to move forward.
And while Trump’s enablers in the Republican Party will do all they can to avoid the issue, there should now be no doubt (even if this was clear long ago) that we have a blatant racist as our president. His reference to immigrants from “sh–hole countries” and his expressed preference for Norwegians over Haitians, Salvadorans and new arrivals from Africa make this abundantly clear. Racist leaders do not help us reach mutual toleration. His semi-denial 15 hours after his comment was first reported lacked credibility, especially because he called around first to see how his original words would play with his base.
But notice also what Trump’s outburst did to our capacity to govern ourselves and make progress. Democrats and Republicans sympathetic to the plight of the “dreamers” worked out an immigration compromise designed carefully to give Trump what he had said he needed.
There were many concessions by Democrats on border security, “chain migration” based on family reunification, and the diversity visa lottery that Trump had criticized. GOP senators such as Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) bargained in good faith and were given ample reason by Trump to think they had hit his sweet spot.
Trump blew them away with a torrent of bigotry. In the process, he shifted the onus for avoiding a government shutdown squarely on his own shoulders and those of Republican leaders who were shamefully slow in condemning the president’s racism.
There are so many issues both more important and more interesting than the psyche of a deeply damaged man. We are capable of being a far better nation. But we need leaders who call us to our obligations to each other as free citizens. Instead, we have a president who knows only how to foster division and hatred.”
Read the rest of the op-ed at the link.
Our “Liar-in-Chief:” This short video from CNN, featuring the Washington Post’s “Chief Fact Checker” Glenn Kessler deals with the amazing 2000+ false or misleading claims that Trump has made even before the first anniversary of his Presidency: “Trump averages 5-6 false claims a day.”
Also on video, even immigration restrictionists sometimes wax eloquent about the exceptional generosity of U.S. immigration and refugee laws (even as they engage in an unending battle to undermine that claimed generosity). But, the reality, as set forth in this short HuffPost video is that on a regular basis our Government knowingly and intentionally returns individuals, mostly Hispanics, to countries where they are likely to be harmed or killed because we are unable to fit them within often hyper-technical and overly restrictive readings of various protection laws or because we are unwilling to exercise humanitarian discretion to save them..
I know first-hand because in my former position as a U.S. Immigration Judge, I sometimes had to tell individuals (and their families) in person that I had to order them returned to a country where I had concluded that they would likely be severely harmed or killed because I could not fit them into any of the categories of protection available under U.S. law. I daresay that very few of the restrictionists who glory in the idea of even harsher and more restrictive immigration laws have had this experience.
And clearly, Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, Steven Miller, Bob Goodlatte and others in the GOP would like to increase the number of humans we return to harm or death by stripping defenseless juveniles and other vulnerable asylum seekers of some of the limited rights they now possess in the false name of “border security.” Indeed, Sessions even invented a false narrative of a fraud-ridden, “attorney-gamed” (how do folks who often don’t even have a chance to get an attorney use attorneys to “game” the system?) asylum system in an attempt to justify his totally indefensible and morally bankrupt position.
Check out this video from HuffPost, entitled “This Is The Violent And Tragic Reality Of Deportation” to see the shocking truth about how our removal system really works (or not)!
Thinking of MLK’S “I have a dream,” next, I’ll take you over to The Guardian, where Washington Correspondent Sabrina Siddiqui tells us how “Immigration policy progress and setbacks have become pattern for Dreamers.”
“Greisa Martínez Rosas has seen it before: a rare bipartisan breakthrough on immigration policy, offering a glimmer of hope to advocates like herself. Then a swift unraveling.
Martínez is a Dreamer, one of about 700,000 young undocumented migrants, brought to the US as children, who secured temporary protections through Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or Daca.
She considers herself “one of the lucky ones”. Last year, she was able to renew her legal status until 2020, even as Donald Trump threw the Dreamers into limbo by rescinding Daca and declaring a deadline of 5 March for Congress to act to replace it.
Martínez is an activist with United We Dream, the largest youth-led immigration advocacy group in the US. She has fought on the front lines.
In 2010 and 2013, she saw efforts for immigration reform, and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, culminate in disappointment. She rode a familiar rollercoaster this week, as a bipartisan Daca fix was undermined by Trump’s reported – if contested – reference to African and Central American nations as “shithole countries”.
“It feels like a sequel,” Martínez told the Guardian, adding that Trump’s adversarial views underscored the need to hash out a deal. “This same man is responsible for running a Department of Homeland Security that seeks to hunt and deport people of color.”
Negotiations over immigration have always been precarious. Trump has complicated the picture. After launching his candidacy for president with a speech that called Mexican migrants “rapists” and “killers”, Trump campaigned on deporting nearly 11 million undocumented migrants and building a wall on the Mexico border.
He has, however, shown a more flexible attitude towards Dreamers – despite his move to end their protective status. Last Tuesday, the president sat in the White House, flanked by members of both parties. In a 45-minute negotiating session, televised for full effect, Trump ignited fury among his hardcore supporters by signaling he was open to protection for Dreamers in exchange for modest border security measures.
Then, less than 48 hours later, Trump’s reported comments about countries like Haiti and El Salvador prompted a fierce backlash.
“People are picking their jaws up from the table and they’re trying to recover from feelings of deep hurt and anger,” said Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of America’s Voice, a group which advocates for immigration reform.
“We always knew we were climbing a mountain … but it’s improbable to imagine a positive breakthrough for immigrants with the most nativist president in modern America in charge.”
As the uproar continued, it was nearly forgotten that on Thursday, hours before Trump’s remarks became public, a group of senators announced a bipartisan deal.
Under it, hundreds of thousands of Dreamers would be able to gain provisional legal status and eventually apply for green cards. They would not be able to sponsor their parents for citizenship – an effort to appease Trump’s stance against so-called “chain migration” – but parents would be able to obtain a form of renewable legal status.
There would be other concessions to earn Trump’s signature, such as $2bn for border security including physical barriers, if not by definition a wall.
The compromise would also do away with the diversity visa lottery and reallocate those visas to migrants from underrepresented countries and those who stand to lose Temporary Protected Status. That would help those affected by the Trump administration’s recent decision to terminate such status for some nationals of El Salvador, effectively forcing nearly 200,000 out of the country.
The bill would be far less comprehensive than the one put forward in 2013, when a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Eight” proposed a bill that would have given nearly 11 million undocumented migrants a path to citizenship.
The bill passed the Senate with rare bipartisan support. In the Republican-led House it never received a vote.
Proponents of reform now believe momentum has shifted in their favor, despite Trump’s ascent. The Arizona senator Jeff Flake, part of the 2013 effort and also in the reform group today, said there was a clear deadline of 5 March to help Dreamers.
“I do think there is a broader consensus to do this than we had before,” Flake told the Guardian. “We’re going have 700,000 kids subject to deportation. That’s the biggest difference.”
Read the rest of the story at the link.
Finally, John Blake at CNN tells us “Three ways [you might not know] MLK speaks to our time.”
That’s a famous line from the 19th century philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, but it could also apply to a modern American hero: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
As the nation celebrates King’s national holiday Monday, it’s easy to freeze-frame him as the benevolent dreamer carved in stone on the Washington Mall. Yet the platitudes that frame many King holiday events often fail to mention the most radical aspects of his legacy, says Jeanne Theoharis, a political science professor at Brooklyn College and author of several books on the civil rights movement.
“We turn him into a Thanksgiving parade float, he’s jolly, larger than life and he makes us feel good,” Theoharis says. “We’ve turned him into a mascot.”
Many people vaguely know that King opposed the Vietnam War and talked more about poverty in his later years. But King also had a lot to say about issues not normally associated with civil rights that still resonate today, historians and activists say.
If you’re concerned about inequality, health care, climate change or even the nastiness of our political disagreements, then King has plenty to say to you. To see that version of King, though, we have to dust off the cliches and look at him anew.
If you’re more familiar with your smartphone than your history, try this: Think of King not just as a civil rights hero, but also as an app — his legacy has to be updated to remain relevant.
Here are three ways we can update our MLK app to see how he spoke not only to his time, but to our time as well:
. . . .
But here’s one more uncomfortable thought that also explains why King remains so relevant:
The country is still divided by many of the same issues that consumed him.
On the last night of his life, King told a shouting congregation of black churchgoers that “we as a people” would get to “the Promised Land.” That kind of optimism, though, sounds like it belongs to another era.
What we have now is a leader in the White House who denies widespread reports that he complained about Latino and African immigrants coming to America from “shithole” countries; a white supremacist who murders worshippers in church; a social media landscape that pulsates with anger and accusations.
King’s Promised Land doesn’t sound boring when compared to today’s headlines. And maybe that’s what’s so sad about reliving his life every January for some people.
Fifty years after he died, King’s vision for America still sounds so far away.”
Read the complete article at the link.
There you have it. A brief but representative sample of some of the many ways in which Dr. King’s dream of a “post racist America” is still relevant and why there’s still much more work still to be done than many of us might have thought several years ago.
So, the next time you hear bandied about terms like “merit-based” (means: exclude Brown and Black immigrants); “extreme vetting” (means: using bureaucracy to keep Muslims and other perceived “undesirables” out); “tax cuts” (means: handouts to the rich at the expense of the poor); “entitlement reform” (means: cutting benefits for the most vulnerable); “health care reform” (means: kicking the most needy out of the health care system); “voter fraud” (means: suppressing the Black, Hispanic, and Democratic vote); “rule of law” (means: perverting the role of Government agencies and the courts to harm Blacks, Hispanics, Gays, women, the poor, and other minorities); “job creation” (means: destroying our precious natural resources and the environment for the benefit of big corporations), “border security” (means: slashing rights for children and asylum seekers, and more money for building a wall and expanding prisons for non-criminal migrants, a/k/a/ “The New American Gulag”), “ending chain migration” (means keeping non-White and/or non-Christian immigrants from bringing family members) and other deceptively harmless sounding euphemisms, know what the politicos are really up to and consider them in the terms that Dr. King might have.
What’s really behind the rhetoric and how will it help create the type of more fair, just, equal, and value-driven society that majority of us in American seek to be part of and leave to succeeding generations. If it isn’t moving us as a nation toward those goals, “Just Say NO” as Dr. King would have done!
“When it comes to President Trump and race, there is a predictable cycle. He makes a remark that seems racist, and people engage in an extended debate about whether he is personally racist. His critics say he is. His defenders argue for an interpretation in which race plays a secondary role (such as: Haiti really is a worse place to live than Norway).
It’s time to end this cycle.
No one except Trump can know what Trump’s private thoughts or motivations are. But the public record and his behavior are now abundantly clear. Donald Trump treats black people and Latinos differently than he treats white people.
And that makes him a racist.
Is it possible to defend some of his racially charged statements by pointing out that something other than race might explain them? Sure. Is it possible that he doesn’t think of himself as a racist who views white people as superior to nonwhite people? Yes.
But the definition of a racist — the textbook definition, as Paul Ryan might say — is someone who treats some people better than others because of their race. Trump fits that definition many times over:
• He frequently criticizes prominent African-Americans for being unpatriotic, ungrateful and disrespectful.
• He called some of those who marched alongside white supremacists in Charlottesville last August “very fine people.”
• He is quick to highlight crimes committed by dark-skinned people, sometimes exaggerating or lying about it (such as a claim about growing crime from “radical Islamic terror” in Britain). He is very slow to decry hate crimes committed against dark-skinned people (such as the murder of an Indian man in Kansas last year).
• At the White House yesterday, Trump vulgarly called for less immigration from Haiti and Africa and more from Norway.
For more on this topic, read my colleague Nick Kristof wrestling with the topic during the 2016 campaign: “Here we have a man who for more than four decades has been repeatedly associated with racial discrimination or bigoted comments about minorities,” he wrote. “While any one episode may be ambiguous, what emerges over more than four decades is a narrative arc, a consistent pattern — and I don’t see what else to call it but racism.”
And Slate’s Jamelle Bouie: “It’s impossible to know what’s in his heart. But what Trump feels is less important than what he does.”
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the NYT editorial page, Professor Roxane Gay, a distinguished Haitian American writes:
“I could write a passionate rebuttal extolling all the virtues of Haiti, the island my parents are from, the first free black nation in the Western Hemisphere. I could write about the beauty of the island, the music and vibrant art, the majesty of the mountains, the crystalline blue of the water surrounding her, the resilience of the Haitian people, our incredible work ethic, our faith. I could tell you about my parents, how they came to this country with so many other Haitians, how they embraced the American dream and thrived, how I and so many first-generation Haitian-Americans are products of our parents’ American dreams.
Or I could tell you about the singular, oppressive narrative the media trots out when talking about Haiti, the one about an island mired in poverty and misery, the one about AIDS, the one about a country plagued by natural and man-made disasters, because these are the stories people want to hear, the stories that make Haiti into a pitiable spectacle instead of the proud, complicated country it is. I could tell you how I have spent an inordinate amount of time and energy, throughout my life, educating people about Haiti and disabusing them of the damaging, incorrect notions they have about the country of my parents’ birth.
On the eve of the eighth anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that devastated Haiti, the president, in the Oval Office, is said to have wondered aloud why he should allow immigrants from “shithole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador and African nations to enter the United States. Mr. Trump has tweeted a denial that he made this statement. “He said those hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly,” Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, who was in the room, said Friday.
But the president has to know that even if video footage of the comment existed, there wouldn’t be any political consequences for him. He has to know, like we all do, that xenophobic commentary plays well with his base, the people who were more than happy to put him in office because they could seamlessly project their racism and misogyny onto his celebrity persona. It’s no wonder Fox News hosts have defended the comment.
Now, in response to the news about the reports of the vile remark, there are people saying “vote” and highlighting the importance of the 2018 midterm elections, as if American democracy is unfettered from interference and corruption. There is a lot of trite rambling about how the president isn’t really reflecting American values when, in fact, he is reflecting the values of many Americans. And there are entreaties to educate the president about the truth of Haiti as if he simply suffers from ignorance.
But the president is not alone in thinking so poorly of the developing world. He didn’t reveal any new racism. He, once again, revealed racism that has been there all along. It is grotesque and we must endure it for another three or seven years, given that the Republicans have a stranglehold on power right now and are more invested in holding onto that power than working for the greater good of all Americans.
What I’m supposed to do now is offer hope. I’m supposed to tell you that no president serves forever. I’m supposed to offer up words like “resist” and “fight” as if rebellious enthusiasm is enough to overcome federally, electorally sanctioned white supremacy. And I’m supposed to remind Americans, once more, of Haiti’s value, as if we deserve consideration and a modicum of respect from the president of the United States only because as a people we are virtuous enough.
But I am not going to do any of that. I am tired of comfortable lies. I have lost patience with the shock supposedly well-meaning people express every time Mr. Trump says or does something terrible but well in character. I don’t have any hope to offer. I am not going to turn this into a teaching moment to justify the existence of millions of Haitian or African or El Salvadoran people because of the gleeful, unchecked racism of a world leader. I am not going to make people feel better about the gilded idea of America that becomes more and more compromised and impoverished with each passing day of the Trump presidency.
This is a painful, uncomfortable moment. Instead of trying to get past this moment, we should sit with it, wrap ourselves in the sorrow, distress and humiliation of it. We need to sit with the discomfort of the president of the United States referring to several countries as “shitholes” during a meeting, a meeting that continued, his comments unchallenged. No one is coming to save us. Before we can figure out how to save ourselves from this travesty, we need to sit with that, too.
Thanks primarily to the African-American Community in Alabama, we all were saved from the nightmare of having racist, xenophobic, homophobic theocrat Roy Moore thrust upon the U.S. Senate. But, “White Folks” are going to chip in big time to save the country from Trump and his GOP apologists/handlers/fellow travelers. No less than the future of American Democracy and that of the so-called “Free World” is at stake.
“Immigration has become one of the most polarizing issues of our day. But it is worth remembering that this century opened with a tale of family and migration that was as contentious as many of the stories that punctuate our current debate: the case of Elián González.
In November 1999, when Elián was 6, he left Cuba in a small boat with his mother, who was seeking a better life in Florida. She and 10 others died when the boat sank in a storm. Elián survived by clinging to an inner tube. Courts eventually ruled that he must return to his father in Cuba rather than stay with relatives in Florida. He remains there to this day.
Regardless of your views of the underlying legal arguments in the case, the image of a small, frightened boy being pulled from the arms of a sheltering adult by a team of heavily armed federal agents remains seared in the minds of many people as a low point in the immigration debate.
Brace yourself for the possibility of seeing this kind of scene again.
As Republicans, whose party has consistently and rightly advanced policies to support the essential role of families in America, we are deeply troubled by the harm that is about to be done to hundreds of thousands of families that have legally called America home for more than two decades.
In the wake of the 2001 earthquake in El Salvador that claimed more than 1,000 lives and destroyed 100,000 homes, the United States allowed hard-hit families to live and work in America. This merciful act was one of many that America took to relieve the suffering of a natural disaster in one of the hemisphere’s most troubled, impoverished nations.
Now, after almost two decades, the nation that showed that kindness is poised to revoke it and force approximately 200,000 Salvadorans to leave the United States, even those whose children are American citizens. (Together, they have about 190,000 American-born children.)
It is wrong to potentially break up so many families that have for so long made the United States their home — legally and at our invitation.
When prioritizing the immigration problems we face, the case of 200,000 Salvadorans who accepted our invitation to live and work here legally would not even make a top-10 list. The biggest challenge is, of course, securing the border. It must be done. Continued illegal migration across the southern border and the often-related criminal activity involving drugs, human trafficking and undocumented, unregulated labor is unacceptable.
Second, of course, is what to do with the 10 million to 15 million undocumented immigrants who arrived over the past several decades and who have become part of American life — and who, let’s be honest, will not and should not be forcibly removed. Congress and the president can and must act now to resolve these problems.
As our leaders try to devise durable, humane solutions to the most urgent immigration issues, it is a mistake to think the right approach is to look backward, relitigate nearly 20-year-old decisions and break up families. In fact, the action against Salvadoran families is so problematic that it is hard to see how it will not hinder efforts in Washington to find common ground on immigration.
Another of our challenges is how to deal with the 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States with their families when they were children. The uncertain status of these “Dreamers” is not of their own making. Though they were not born here, they know no other home than America. They grew up, studied and work here. They are largely models of the assimilation we seek for all immigrants. Congress can and should move quickly to send President Trump legislation providing a common-sense resolution to their situation so that they can continue to thrive here as part of the American dream.
One of our party’s, and the world’s, greatest leaders, Ronald Reagan, was also a passionate and articulate advocate of strong families. He once said: “The family has always been the cornerstone of American society. Our families nurture, preserve and pass on to each succeeding generation the values we share and cherish, values that are the foundation for our freedoms.”
Singling out Salvadoran families for separation is simply a bad idea that should be dropped. If we believe America is made stronger by families, then let’s do everything we can to strengthen all the families who choose to call America home. At the very least, the federal government should not become the instrument for attacking them.
We must instead take up the actual immigration challenges we face in a humane, responsible way that protects American interests and jobs.