PRESIDENTS’ DAY: MOVE ON OVER JIMMIE BUCHANAN!– THERE’S A NEW “WORST PRESIDENT IN U.S. HISTORY” IN TOWN – You Might Have Thought That Sitting On Your Behind While The US Dissolved Into A Bloody Civil War Would Insure You A Lasting Last Place In History – BUT NO, IN ONLY A LITTLE OVER A YEAR, “PUTIN’S PUPPET” & “CON-MAN-IN-CHIEF” DONALD TRUMP HAS BEAT YOU OUT FOR THE “WORST PRESIDENT IN U.S. HISTORY” ACCORDING TO A BIPARTISAN PANEL OF EXPERTS!

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/02/19/opinion/how-does-trump-stack-up-against-the-best-and-worst-presidents.html

“Where does Donald Trump rank on the list of American presidents?

We surveyed presidential politics experts to sketch out a first draft of Trump’s place in presidential history.

Since our previous survey in 2014, some presidential legacies have soared (Barack Obama’s stock has climbed into the Top 10), while others have fallen (Andrew Jackson toppled to 15, out of the Top 10).

And President Trump? Let’s say that, according to the 170 members of the American Political Science Association’s Presidents and Executive Politics section who filled out our survey, he has at least three years to improve on an ignominious debut.

Presidential Greatness Rankings

James Buchanan, who was at the helm as the United States careened into civil war, was dislodged from his position as our nation’s worst president by our current president, Trump.

His Oval Office predecessor, Barack Obama, shot into the Top 10, up from 18th in the previous survey. Ulysses S. Grant also got a bump, up seven places from 2014, perhaps owing to a strong assist from Ron Chernow’s recent masterpiece.

The biggest declines were for Bill Clinton, arguably the result of contemporary scorn for his treatment of women, and Andrew Jackson, for evolving attitudes on his treatment of Native Americans.

Overall rankings.

Presidents since World War II in boldface.

Presidents whose rank changed since last survey

0 = FAILURE

50 = AVERAGE

100 = GREAT

2014 RANK

CHANGE

IN RANKING

UP OR

DOWN

TOP 10 IN 2018

1. Lincoln

95

2. Washington

93

3. F.D. Roosevelt

89

4. T. Roosevelt

81

5. Jefferson

80

6. Truman

75

7. Eisenhower

74

8. Obama

71

8. Clinton

–5

9. Reagan

69

9. Jackson

–6

10. L.B. Johnson

69

10. Wilson

–1

11. Wilson

67

11. Reagan

+2

12. Madison

64

12. L.B. Johnson

+2

13. Clinton

64

13. Madison

+1

14. J. Adams

63

14. Kennedy

–2

15. Jackson

62

15. J. Adams

+1

16. Kennedy

62

16. Monroe

–2

17. G.H.W. Bush

61

18. Monroe

61

18. Obama

+10

19. McKinley

55

19. Polk

–1

20. Polk

54

20. Taft

–2

21. Grant

53

21. McKinley

+2

22. Taft

52

22. J.Q. Adams

–1

23. J.Q. Adams

52

23. Cleveland

–1

24. Cleveland

51

24. Ford

–1

25. Ford

47

25. Van Buren

–2

26. Carter

45

27. Van Buren

44

27. Coolidge

–1

28. Coolidge

42

28. Grant

+7

29. Hayes

42

29. B. Harrison

–3

30. G.W. Bush

40

30. Hayes

+1

31. Arthur

40

31. Garfield

–3

32. B. Harrison

38

32. Arthur

+1

33. Nixon

37

33. Taylor

–2

34. Garfield

37

34. Nixon

+1

BOTTOM 10

35. Taylor

33

35. G.W. Bush

+5

36. Hoover

33

36. Tyler

–1

37. Tyler

31

37. Fillmore

–1

38. Fillmore

28

38. Hoover

+2

39. Harding

25

39. W.H. Harrison

–3

40. A. Johnson

25

40. Pierce

–1

41. Pierce

23

41. A. Johnson

+1

42. W.H. Harrison

19

42. Harding

+3

43. Buchanan

15

44. Trump

12

Methodology: Each expert was invited to rate each president on a 0-100 scale, with 0 = failure, 50 = average, and 100 = great. Scores were then averaged for each president, with presidents then ranked in order of highest average to lowest.

Greatness Rankings by Party

On partisan-votes lines, Democrats ranked Ronald Reagan nine places lower than Republicans, while Democrats place Obama 10 places higher.

Counting only Republican votes, William McKinley — best known for winning the Spanish-American war, for defeating William Jennings Bryan twice in contests for the White House and for being assassinated by the anarchist Leon Czolgosz — holds a spot in the Top 10.

Independents admire George H.W. Bush, ranking him higher than Obama.

Trump doesn’t get much of a lift from Republican-only vote: Even in their eyes, he’s a bottom-five president.

Democratic scholars

Independents/other

Republican scholars

Presidents since World War II in boldface.

These scholars skew somewhat to the right.

TOP 10

0

AVG.

100

0

AVG.

100

0

AVG.

100

1. Washington

94

1. Lincoln

96

1. Lincoln

94

2. Lincoln

94

2. F.D. Roosevelt

94

2. Washington

91

3. F.D. Roosevelt

83

3. Washington

93

3. F.D. Roosevelt

83

4. T. Roosevelt

77

4. T. Roosevelt

83

4. T. Roosevelt

79

5. Reagan

76

5. Jefferson

82

5. Jefferson

79

6. Jefferson

70

6. Obama

78

6. Eisenhower

77

7. Eisenhower

68

7. Truman

78

7. Reagan

75

8. Truman

67

8. L.B. Johnson

75

8. Truman

74

9. McKinley

64

9. Eisenhower

74

9. Madison

65

10. Jackson

64

10. Wilson

72

10. J. Adams

64

11. G.H.W. Bush

63

11. Madison

67

11. G.H.W. Bush

64

12. Wilson

61

12. Kennedy

67

12. Obama

63

13. Polk

60

13. Clinton

66

13. L.B. Johnson

63

14. Taft

60

14. Reagan

65

14. Clinton

62

15. Clinton

59

15. J. Adams

64

15. Wilson

62

16. Obama

57

16. Monroe

62

16. McKinley

61

17. J. Adams

57

17. Jackson

62

17. Jackson

61

18. Monroe

56

18. G.H.W. Bush

59

18. Monroe

60

19. L.B. Johnson

56

19. Grant

53

19. Kennedy

58

20. Cleveland

55

20. J.Q. Adams

53

20. Taft

56

21. Coolidge

52

21. Polk

52

21. Polk

56

22. Madison

52

22. McKinley

50

22. Grant

54

23. G.W. Bush

52

23. Cleveland

49

23. Cleveland

54

24. Kennedy

50

24. Carter

48

24. J.Q. Adams

52

25. Grant

49

25. Taft

48

25. Coolidge

50

26. Ford

49

26. Ford

46

26. Ford

49

27. J.Q. Adams

49

27. Van Buren

44

27. Van Buren

47

28. Hayes

44

28. Hayes

39

28. Hayes

45

29. Nixon

42

29. Arthur

39

29. Arthur

44

30. Hoover

41

30. G.W. Bush

37

30. Garfield

42

31. B. Harrison

39

31. Nixon

37

31. G.W. Bush

42

32. Carter

39

32. B. Harrison

36

32. Carter

41

33. Van Buren

38

33. Coolidge

36

33. B. Harrison

40

34. Arthur

36

34. Garfield

34

34. Taylor

37

Lighter circles = below average

BOTTOM 10

35. Garfield

36

35. Taylor

31

35. Hoover

37

36. Taylor

34

36. Tyler

31

36. Nixon

36

37. Tyler

33

37. Hoover

29

37. Tyler

32

38. Harding

32

38. A. Johnson

27

38. Fillmore

30

39. Fillmore

29

39. Fillmore

26

39. Harding

26

40. Trump

25

40. Pierce

24

40. Pierce

25

41. A. Johnson

21

41. Harding

23

41. A. Johnson

23

42. Pierce

19

42. W.H. Harrison

19

42. W.H. Harrison

19

43. W.H. Harrison

19

43. Buchanan

16

43. Trump

16

44. Buchanan

14

44. Trump

8

44. Buchanan

14

Methodology: Each expert was allowed to self-identify as either Republican, Democrat, Independent, or Other. The results of those who self-identified were later analyzed independently to allow comparisons across partisan groups.

Next on Mt. Rushmore

Which president deserves to have his likeness carved next into Mt. Rushmore’s granite cliff? Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the overwhelming favorite, selected by two-thirds of our respondents.

Franklin

Roosevelt

Barack

Obama

James

Madison

Lyndon

Johnson

66%

7

5

4

4

2

2

10

Others

Ronald

Reagan

Dwight

Eisenhower

William

McKinley

Methodology: Respondents were asked if they were to add one president to those currently represented on Mt. Rushmore, who would it be, and then allowed to select any past or current president. The number and percentage of times each president was selected was then calculated.

Mt. Rushmore by Party

It wasn’t just Democratic support that would carve F.D.R. on Mt. Rushmore: All groups, including Republicans, named him as most deserving of that honor.

Roosevelt, the godfather of presidential liberalism, received more than twice as many votes from Republicans as Ronald Reagan, his conservative counterpart.

Democratic scholars’ vote:

Barack

Obama

Lyndon

Johnson

James

Madison

Franklin

Roosevelt

75%

11

3

3

8

Others

Independent/others’ vote:

Ronald

Reagan

Dwight

Eisenhower

William

McKinley

Franklin

Roosevelt

57%

9

9

6

19

Others

Republicans’ vote:

Ronald

Reagan

James

Madison

Franklin

Roosevelt

43%

19

10

29

Others

Methodology: Using the previously discussed self-identified partisanship breakdowns, the number and percentage of times each partisan group selected each president was calculated in the same way as the overall results.

Trump’s initial rating places him in an ignominious category, but dozens of presidents have had slow starts and have course corrected to improve their public esteem. Beyond his reputation or ranking, Donald Trump’s very presidency may alter perceptions of presidential legacies as his unique approach to the office continues to surprise.

Brandon Rottinghaus is a professor of political science at the University of Houston. Justin S. Vaughn is an associate professor of political science and director of the Center for Idaho History and Politics at Boise State University.

COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE U.S. STEW AS TRUMP USES MS-13 “BOGEYMAN” TO WHIP UP WHITE NATIONALIST RAGE AGAINST ALL LATINOS! –Yeganeh Torbati Reports For Reuters News (Video)!

http://www.reuters.tv/v/wfz/2018/02/01/trump-s-focus-on-ms-13-gang-deepens-immigration-impasse

Yeganeh Torbati reports for Reuters News. Click the above link to play video!

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

As Yeganeh’s report notes, nobody disputes the Trump Administration’s claim that the MS-13 are “Bad Guys” who should be removed from the U.S. Although you wouldn’t know it from the Trump Administration’s self-congratulatory rhetoric, every Administration going back to that of President Ronald Reagan has made a concerted effort to remove gang members. They were a particular priority of the Obama Administration’s criminal alien removal program.

Unlike Trump, Sessions, and most of those “spouting off the rhetoric,” I have been involved in gang removal efforts from both the law enforcement and the judicial perspectives. I actually came face to face with gang members and entered final orders removing them from the United States at several levels during my Government career. And, unlike some final orders of removal, I know that these were actually carried out.

Not surprisingly, though, a few of the deportees managed to reenter the U.S. again. No “wall” is likely to stop determined international gangs from getting their members back into the U.S. if they really want to. Just like “show deportations” didn’t significantly hamper or eradicate Italian Mafia-type organized crime gangs, the “Maras” are unlikely to fold their tents and disappear quietly into the night just because of “get tough” speeches by American politicos and some well-publicized deportations. Most Maras are actually pretty good at running operations from abroad, as well as from prisons, both here and in the Northern Triangle.

I have observed, however, that the Trump Administration’s anti-gang program is likely to be relatively ineffective for a number of reasons. First, by terrorizing Latino communities with DHS arrests and removals of law-abiding non-criminals, they make it difficult or impossible for victims, most of whom are members of the Latino community, and some of whom are undocumented or come from “mixed families,” to report gang-related crimes and activities to the police. Thus, these folks are “easy marks” for the gangs.

Second, for the same reason, many community members are reluctant to come forward and be witnesses against gang members for fear of their own deportation or that the police will not protect them from retaliation.

Third, by consistently “dissing” and devaluing the contributions of the many law-abiding members of the Latino community, this Administration makes it easier for gang recruiters to point to the “empowerment” and “respect” that gangs claim to offer.

Fourth, by “manipulating the law” to deny legal protections to many of those who courageously resist gang recruitment (I just “blogged” an egregious example from the 9th Circuit this week), the Administration sends a strong “you might as well join” message to young people in the U.S. and who are returned to the Northern Triangle. The message that our Government places no value on their lives is not lost on these kids.

Finally, by failing to concentrate on the root causes of gangs in the Northern Triangle, and instead consistently “over-selling” the law enforcement benefits of deportation, the Administration guarantees an almost endless regime of violence and disorder in the Northern Triangle and a steady stream of would-be refugees flowing north.

The only effective gang-eradication programs that I’m aware of involve local authorities, often from the Latino community, gaining the trust of the young people in the community and “reinforcing” Latino role models, some originally from undocumented backgrounds, as offering viable alternatives to gangs. Slowly, through education and community based activities that show the value, respect, and positive recognition that can be gained by avoiding gangs and having the courage to stand up against them, we can, over time, drastically reduce, and perhaps eventually eliminate the destructive role gangs in America.

But, the continuing White Nationalist, anti-Hispanic “blathering” of Trump, Sessions, Homan, and the other GOP “hard liners” is likely to be counterproductive. And, “traditional” law enforcement methods of arrest, imprisonment, and deportation have been shown, by themselves, to be ineffective in solving the long-term problems of gangs in both America and the Northern Triangle. Of course we should continue to arrest and deport known gang members. But, we shouldn’t expect that, without some community-based solutions and more thoughtful approaches to the problems caused by deportations in the Northern Triangle, deportations will solve our problem. They won’t!

PWS

02-01-18

 

THE TRAGEDY OF EL SALVADOR IN THE AGE OF TRUMP: Linda Greenhouse @ NYT” – “[S]ince President Trump announced his decision, I’ve been obsessed not with its legality but with its cruelty and self-defeating stupidity.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/18/opinion/el-salvador-trump-immigration.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20180118&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=8&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1

Greenhouse writes:

“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:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-dangerous-threat-to-the-third-largest-hispanic-group-in-america/2018/01/17/44b1b6bc-fbac-11e7-a46b-a3614530bd87_story.html?utm_term=.4f0ff01e7347

Lane writes:

“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.

PWS

01-19-18

 

 

NY TIMES: John Kasich and Jeb Bush Jr. SPEAK OUT IN FAVOR OF SALVADORAN FAMILIES — TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S DECISION TO TERMINATE TPS “A BAD IDEA!”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/opinion/kasich-bush-immigration-salvadorans.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&_r=0

Kasich & Bush write in the NY Times:

“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.

“GANGDOM” THRIVES IN VIEW OF CAPITOL — Michael E. Miller and Dan Morse @ WashPost Tell The Shockingly Ugly “Inside Story” Of How Gangs Terrorize The Undocumented Community In Langley Park, MD! — The Trump/Sessions “Gonzo” Approach To Immigration Seems Likely To Make Things Even Worse!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/people-here-live-in-fear-ms-13-menaces-a-community-seven-miles-from-the-white-house/2017/12/20/6cebf318-d956-11e7-b859-fb0995360725_story.html

Miller & Morse write:

‘People here live in fear’: MS-13 menaces a community seven miles from the White House
By Michael E. Miller and Dan Morse December 20 at 8:00 AM

Abigail Bautista, 34, of Langley Park, Md., describes what MS-13 did to her and then to her son. “People here live in fear,” she said. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
It took Abigail Bautista less than a month of living in Langley Park to learn that her new neighborhood in Maryland had its own set of laws, written not in statutes but in gang graffiti and blood.

The Guatemalan mother of five was pushing a cart of merchandise along University Boulevard one winter morning in late 2012 when three young men approached.

“Do you know who we are?” one asked her in Spanish.

Bautista shook her head.

“We are La Mara Salvatrucha,” he said. “And here, there are rules.”

Pay $60 “rent” per week or there would be trouble, he said. Undocumented and afraid of being deported if she went to police, Bautista began handing over the cash.

She had heard of the international street gang growing up in Central America, where MS-13, as it’s known, controls cities through brutality and corruption. But she had lived for the better part of a decade in the United States without crossing its path.

Now, she realized, she’d unwittingly moved into MS-13 territory a mere seven miles from the White House.

As the gang has grown in strength in recent years, so has its sway over communities across the country. From Boston to Northern Virginia to Houston, a string of grisly MS-13 murders has highlighted its resurgence, drawing a response from the White House.

“One by one, we’re liberating our American towns,” President Trump said this summer in Long Island, where MS-13 has been linked to more than a dozen recent killings.

Left out of Trump’s speeches, however, is the fact that most of the gang’s victims are not Americans but undocumented immigrants like Bautista. And when it comes to the gang’s infamous motto of “kill, rape, control,” it’s the third — enforced daily through extortion and intimidation — that defines life for some immigrants in places such as Langley Park.

“They are preying on the communities that they are living in,” said Michael McElhenny, a supervisory special agent for the FBI in Maryland.

More than a decade after a string of MS-13 killings shook the heavily Latino neighborhood, Langley Park is still struggling to shake off the gang’s influence. Despite aggressive policing, the area continues to be plagued by MS-13 drug dealing, prostitution, robbery, extortion and murder, according to court records and interviews with residents, activists, prosecutors and gang experts, as well as local and federal law enforcement officials.

. . . .

Federal authorities say the racketeering case and two other recent MS-13 indictments show they are serious about again dismantling the gang in Maryland. But Bautista won’t be satisfied until authorities lock up the man she suspects of leading MS-13 in Langley Park.

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Two weeks after her son’s body was found, and a few days before his vigil, she said, a letter was slipped under her door.

“If you keep talking, there will be consequences,” it warned in childlike handwriting, according to Bautista.

It was signed, she said, by the roofer.

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

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

One thing is clear: The gang problem isn’t going to be “solved” by having having clueless, anti-Hispanic, White Guys like Trump and Sessions uttering threats against the entire immigrant community from Washington.

No, the irony is that prosecutions and deportations, although they might rack up impressive statistics, really don’t bother gangs much. Gangs control big chunks of the prisons, both in the US and, even moreso, in the Northern Triangle. To some extent, a prison sentence is just a “temporary work reassignment.”

And, deportations: well that’s actually how the MS-13 grew, when the US deported LA gang members to El Salvador during the Reagan Administration without thinking about how to deal with the long term problem — how they would grow to control and terrorize the places to which they were being deported.

It doesn‘t take a “rocket scientist” (just someone smarter and less racist than Trump and Sessions) to figure out that the overheated anti-immigrant rhetoric that lumps gang members with generally law abiding workers and asylum applicants is a “made to order” recruitment tool for the MS-13 and other gangs.

”Trump and Sessions don’t respect you and don’t want you in America. They don’t even like the ‘good’ immigrants, so don’t waste your time on the false ‘American Dream.’ We’re you’re ‘REAL’ family that isn’t afraid of Trump, and will give you power, respect, and control, as long as you remain loyal to us. What’s Trump got to offer Hispanic youth?”

Reducing gang violence will require a nuanced, time consuming, labor intensive multi-cultural approach that:

  • Treats Hispanic youth, documented and undocumented, with respect and shows them they are valued by society;
  • Provides positive role models from the Hispanic community;
  • Gives youth viable alternatives to gangs;
  • Gains the trust of all members of the Hispanic community, whether documented or not;
  • Involves bilingualism, more Hispanic police officers, and potentially dangerous undocover operations in the community;
  • Recognizes and deals with the problems of gang control in US prisons;
  • Deals with the difficult question of what happens when we deport gang members back to the Norther Triangle.

With respect to the latter point, if we merely send U.S. gang members back to terrorize communities in the Northern Triangle, that will lead more terrorized community members to flee to the U.S. The cycle will continue.

The Trump Administration’s ham-handed immigration policies taken from the “White Nationalist restrictionist playbook” will likely only exaberrate the problem of gangs and gang violence in the long run.

PWS

 

 

“THIRD WORLD AMERICA” — GOP ON THE VERGE OF “DECONSTRUCTING” GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC SERVICES, HEALTH, & EDUCATION AT ALL LEVELS TO HAND OUT FAVORS TO THE RICH — PARTY OF “REVERSE ROBIN HOOD” ABOUT TO “SCORE A BIG ONE“ FOR THE ALREADY OVERPRIVILEGED AT THE EXPENSE OF EVERYONE ELSE! –“This tax bill is a grand deception,” said Arnold Hiatt, the former chief executive of Stride Rite, which makes children’s shoes. “It hurts the most vulnerable, and hurts health care and education, which are essential for a healthy economy.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/29/business/republican-tax-cut.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

“Economists and tax experts are overwhelmingly skeptical that the bills in the House and Senate can generate meaningful job growth and economic expansion. Many view the legislation not as a product of genuine deliberation, but as a transfer of wealth to corporations and affluent individuals — both generous purveyors of campaign contributions. By 2027, people making $40,000 to $50,000 would pay a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes, while the group earning $1 million or more would get a $5.8 billion cut, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office.

“When you put all these pieces together, what you’re left with is we are squandering a giant sum of money,” said Edward D. Kleinbard, a former chief of staff at the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation who teaches law at the University of Southern California. “It’s not aimed at growth. It is not aimed at the middle class. It is at every turn carefully engineered to deliver a kiss to the donor class.”

In a recent University of Chicago survey of 38 prominent economistsacross the ideological spectrum, only one said the proposed tax cuts would yield substantial economic growth. Unanimously, the economists said the tax cuts would add to the long-term federal debt burden, now estimated at more than $20 trillion.

If the package does have a guiding philosophy, it is a return to trickle-down economics, an enduring story line in which the wealthy are supposed to spend and invest their tax breaks, creating jobs and commercial opportunities for everyone else.

As President Ronald Reagan slashed taxes in the 1980s, he argued that citizens, not bureaucrats, should decide how to spend their money. President George W. Bush bestowed enormous tax cuts on the affluent.

But the trickle-down story has yet to achieve its promised happy ending. Only the beginning reliably transpires, the part where wealthy people get relief. The spoils of resulting economic growth have largely been monopolized by those with the highest incomes. Pay for most American workers has been stagnant since the mid-1970s, after the rising costs of housing, health care and other basics are factored in.

Nonetheless, Republicans are staging a trickle-down revival.

“Either it’s a religious belief, a belief where no amount of evidence would change that, or they are using the argument cynically and they just want more money for themselves,” the economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate, said.

Mr. Stiglitz has long warned of the perils of growing inequality while deriding tax-cutting inclinations. Yet even those who have favored lighter tax burdens are critical of the current proposals.

In the late 1970s, Bruce Bartlett developed what would become the locus of the Reagan tax cuts while working for Representative Jack Kemp, a conservative Republican from New York. Those cuts helped cushion the pain from sharp increases in interest rates by the Federal Reserve, Mr. Bartlett maintains. But Reagan was lowering the highest tax rate on individuals from 70 percent down to 28 percent by 1986.

“What they have here is a big tax cut for the rich paid for with random increases in taxes for various constituencies,” Mr. Bartlett said. “It’s ridiculous. And it’s telling that they are ramming this through without any debate. All of the empirical evidence goes against the tax cut.”

 

The meat of the package is a permanent lowering of the corporate tax rate, to 20 percent from 35 percent, which business leaders have long wanted. Proponents assert that this would prompt multinational companies to expand operations in the United States.

“We’ve been bleeding corporate headquarters and production for a long time,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and now president of the American Action Forum, a nonprofit that promotes smaller government.

But recent history suggests that when corporations get tax relief, they find abundant uses for money that do not involve paying higher wages. They give dividends to shareholders and stock options to executives. They stash earnings in tax havens.

In 2004, Congress invited American corporations to bring home overseas earnings at a sharply reduced rate, pitching it as a means of bolstering investment. But the corporations spent as much as 90 percent of their windfall buying back their shares, according to Bureau of Economic Analysis research.

If Congress bestows fresh relief on major businesses, signs suggest a similar result. Many companies are enjoying record profits. Those in the Fortune 500 had $2.6 trillion salted away overseas as of last year.

“In our boardroom, the number-one thing we’re talking about is not taxes,” said Jeremy Stoppelman, chief executive of Yelp, the online review platform. “Having a strong middle class out there spending money is what’s most important for our business.”

If the tax bill widens inequality, local communities will likely find themselves with fewer resources to aim at helping struggling people.

A key feature of the Senate bill is the elimination of a federal deduction for state and local taxes. Conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation and American Legislative Exchange Council have sought to end the deduction as a means of reining in government spending.

In high-tax states like California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — where electorates have historically shown a willingness to finance ample safety-net programs — the measure could change the political calculus. It would magnify the costs to taxpayers, pressuring states to stay lean or risk the wrath of voters.

Some see in this tilt a reworking of basic principles that have prevailed in American life for generations.

. . . .

Since the 1930s, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt created Social Security, unemployment benefits and other pillars of the safety net to combat the Great Depression, crises have been tempered by some measure of government support. Recent decades have brought cuts to social services, but the impact of the current bill could be especially consequential.

“This is a repudiation of the social contract that Franklin Roosevelt announced at the New Deal,” Joseph J. Ellis, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian, said of trimming benefits for lower- and middle-income families to finance bigger rewards for the wealthy. Health coverage would shrink under the Republican plan while multimillion-dollar estates would not have to pay a penny in taxes.

The tax cut package, for instance, could trigger rules mandating cuts to Medicare, the government health care program for seniors, the Congressional Budget Office warned. Some 13 million people could lose health care via the elimination of a key plank of Obamacare. Insurance premiums are also expected to rise by 10 percent.

“This tax bill is a grand deception,” said Arnold Hiatt, the former chief executive of Stride Rite, which makes children’s shoes. “It hurts the most vulnerable, and hurts health care and education, which are essential for a healthy economy.”

The proposals break from seven decades’ worth of federal efforts to broaden access to higher education.

Since World War II, the guiding sense has been that “it is government’s responsibility to provide higher education for all those who can benefit from it,” said David Nasaw, a historian at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. That idea was behind the G.I. Bill, which helped generations of veterans pay for college and training.

The House bill includes provisions that would end the deductibility of tuition waivers for graduate students and repeal the deduction for interest paid on student loans. Both chambers’ bills would tax investment earnings from university endowments.

The endowment tax, in particular, threatens the ability of low-income students to pursue college and graduate studies, said Ron Haskins, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Proceeds from endowments subsidize students from lower-income families, while allowing students across the board to graduate with less debt.

“When the time of reckoning comes to fix huge deficits, social safety-net programs will be first on the chopping block,” Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, said.

“It’s very far-reaching,” he added, “but there hasn’t been much of a debate.”

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

Read the complete, revealing but disturbing, article at the link. We’re ultimately going to look more like a (at least temporarily) well-to-do “Banana Republic” with the rich on top and in power; everyone else scrambling; lots of excess guns and ammo; and a lower standard of living for average folks to support the privileged power class. And, the GOP has managed to pull all of this off at the ballot box and without any true debate or public accounting, relying on the overall inability of the electorate to figure out that they are being fleeced by their own representatives. Pretty impressive!

PWS

11-30-17

GONZO’S WORLD: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A DIVERSE “NATION OF IMMIGRANTS” ANOINTS A COMMITTED XENOPHOBE AS ITS CHIEF LAW OFFICER? – Gonzo Is Deconstructing Our System Of Justice, One Day At A Time!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/while-eyes-are-on-russia-sessions-dramatically-reshapes-the-justice-department/2017/11/24/dd52d66a-b8dd-11e7-9e58-e6288544af98_story.html?utm_term=.6b27aa9221e3

“For more than five hours, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sat in a hearing room on Capitol Hill this month, fending off inquiries on Washington’s two favorite topics: President Trump and Russia.

But legislators spent little time asking Sessions about the dramatic and controversial changes in policy he has made since taking over the top law enforcement job in the United States nine months ago.

From his crackdown on illegal immigration to his reversal of Obama administration policies on criminal justice and policing, Sessions is methodically reshaping the Justice Department to reflect his nationalist ideology and hard-line views — moves drawing comparatively less public scrutiny than the ongoing investigations into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin.

Sessions has implemented a new charging and sentencing policy that calls for prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible, even if that might mean minority defendants face stiff, mandatory minimum penalties. He has defended the president’s travel ban and tried to strip funding from cities with policies he considers too friendly toward undocumented immigrants.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Nov. 14. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Sessions has even adjusted the department’s legal stances in cases involving voting rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in a way that advocates warn might disenfranchise poor minorities and give certain religious people a license to discriminate.

Supporters and critics say the attorney general has been among the most effective of the Cabinet secretaries — implementing Trump’s conservative policy agenda even as the president publicly and privately toys with firing him over his decision to recuse himself from the Russia case.

. . . .

In meetings with top Justice Department officials about terrorist suspects, Sessions often has a particular question: Where is the person from? When officials tell him a suspect was born and lives in the United States, he typically has a follow-up: To what country does his family trace its lineage?

While there are reasons to want to know that information, some officials familiar with the inquiries said the questions struck them as revealing that Sessions harbors an innate suspicion about people from certain ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said in a statement, “The Attorney General asks lots of relevant questions in these classified briefings.”

Sessions, unlike past attorneys general, has been especially aggressive on immigration. He served as the public face of the administration’s rolling back of a program that granted a reprieve from deportation to people who had come here without documentation as children, and he directed federal prosecutors to make illegal-immigration cases a higher priority. The attorney general has long held the view that the United States should even reduce the number of those immigrating here legally.

In an interview with Breitbart News in 2015, then-Sen. Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke favorably of a 1924 law that excluded all immigrants from Asia and set strict caps on others.

“When the numbers reached about this high in 1924, the president and Congress changed the policy and it slowed down immigration significantly,” Sessions said. “We then assimilated through 1965 and created really the solid middle class of America, with assimilated immigrants, and it was good for America.”

Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division in the Obama administration who now works as chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said Sessions seems to harbor an “unwillingness to recognize the history of this country is rooted in immigration.”

“On issue after issue, it’s very easy to see what his worldview is of what this country is and who belongs in this country,” she said, adding that his view is “distinctly anti-immigrant.”

Those on the other side of the aisle, however, say they welcome the changes Sessions has made at the Justice Department.

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for moderating levels of immigration, said she would give the attorney general an “A-plus” for his work in the area, especially for his crackdown on “sanctuary cities,” his push to hire more immigration judges and his focus on the MS-13 gang.

“He was able to hit the ground running because he has so much expertise already in immigration enforcement and related public safety issues and the constitutional issues, so he’s accomplished a lot in a very short time,” Vaughan said.”

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

Read the compete article, which deals with much more than immigration, at the link.

Immigrants, refugees, immigration advocates, and career civil servants involved in immigration at the DOJ seems to be “star-crossed.” After decades of relative indifference to the importance of immigration, an Attorney General finally shows up  who makes it his highest priority.

Only problem is that he’s a committed xenophobe and White Nationalist whose largely false and exaggerated narrative on immigration comes right from the alt-right restrictionist playbook and harks back to the Jim Crow era of the American South — only this time with Hispanics and Muslims as the primary targets.

In any “normal” American business, obsession with tracing back lineage of someone’s family would be prima facie evidence of prohibited “national origins discrimination.” But, for Gonzo, it’s just another day at the office.

Notwithstanding his less than stellar performances before Congress and that he’s fallen off Trump’s “A-Team” (notwithstanding probably doing more to deconstruct the Constitution and “Good Government” than any other cabinet officer), he’s unlikely to be going anywhere soon. So the damage will continue to add up for the foreseeable future. It’s not like Senator Liz Warren and others didn’t try to warn America about this dude!

Meanwhile, perhaps not to be outdone, over at the U.S. State Department, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is proceeding to deconstruct the Career Foreign Service and reduce the Stated Department and our Diplomatic Corps to “administrative roadkill.” You can read about that debacle in this NY Times article:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/24/us/politics/state-department-tillerson.html

PWS

11-26-17

 

GONZO’S WORLD: “MINISTRY OF INJUSTICE” — How Gonzo Is Successfully Draining Justice From The Department Of Justice

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/jeff-sessions-slowly-surely-undoing-america-s-criminal-justice-progress-ncna823126

James Braxton Peterson reports for NBC News:

“The Russia investigation may be undercutting Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ credibility, but it has not undermined his efforts to take the U.S. Justice Department back in time.

The time Sessions wants to go back to features an unforgiving system of mass incarceration that disproportionately targets people of color in a legal structure too often stacked against them.

To do this, the attorney general has issued a slew of policy rollbacks — unfortunate for a Justice Department that was only incrementally making progress toward equal justice under President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.

In this sense, Sessions’ Justice Department might be the most effective unit of the Trump administration. If Trumpism’s goal is, at least in, part to destroy the progress achieved under the Obama administration, Sessions’ scorecard so far outstrips his GOP colleagues in the Cabinet and former colleagues in the Senate.

In March, for example, the nation’s top law enforcement officer visited St. Louis, next-door to Ferguson, ground zero for the Black Lives Matter movement. Sessions was in St. Louis talking about crime initiatives but also seeming to criticize one of the most useful tools for documenting police brutality: civilian cell phone videos. The choice of venue could not have been a coincidence. By focusing on “targeted police killings,” he deflected attention from the challenges now confronting law enforcement.

In fact, Sessions has had little to say on how the Justice Department might address matters of police brutality, much less on the matter of Black Lives Mattering. Instead, he has mostly showcased President Donald Trump’s belief that strong policing and incarceration are key to maintaining law and civil order.

. . . .

It is as if Sessions’ Justice Department is operating on a set of alternative facts. Because the statistics are well known: Whites and blacks use and sell drugs at roughly the same rates, and African Americans make up roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population. Yet law enforcement records are remarkably different for each demographic. According to Human Rights Watch: “Black adults are more than two-and-a-half times as likely as white adults to be arrested for drug possession. In 2014, Black adults accounted for just 14 percent of those who used drugs in the previous year but close to a third of those arrested for drug possession.” In many states, a felony conviction also means losing the right to vote.

It is as if Sessions’ Justice Department is operating on a set of alternative facts.

Sessions looks eager to re-open the “war on drugs” — or, more appropriately, the war on poor people who use drugs. No available metric on this decades-long war shows any significant success in limiting access to drugs in the United States or in reducing addiction to controlled substances.

What the “war on drugs” has been good at is: stigmatizing poor people afflicted with the disease of addiction; profiling black and brown folks and arresting them at rates exponentially greater than their white counterparts; and creating revenue streams for the Prison Industrial Complex.

. . . .

Sessions’ success will be key if Trump wants to make good on his law-and-order promises.

Sadly, it is working. The Justice Department is slowly transforming into an injustice department right before our eyes.

Mass incarceration, its impact on families and communities and the often racially biased ways in which its policies operate is still one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time. It’s a shame that, in the era of Trump, we are unable to effectively address the challenges we face.

James Braxton Peterson is the author of three books, including “Prison Industrial Complex for Beginners.”

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

Read Peterson’s full article at the link.

Peterson doesn’t even get into Gonzo’s brazen attacks on justice for Latinos, immigrants, Dreamers, refugees, LGBTQ individuals, so-called “Sanctuary Cities,” lawyers, reporters, Federal Judges, critics of the Administration, forensic science, private property, or users of legalized marijuana. And, he only mentions in passing Gonzo’s disingenuous statements on Russia and his lackadaisical handling of the real threats Russia poses to our national security. Grim as Peterson’s article is, it actually substantially understates the true carnage that Gonzo is inflicting on our Constitution and our system of justice. It could turn out to be irreparable!

Senator Liz Warren was right!

PWS

11-24-17

ASSEMBLY LINE “JUSTICE” IS “INJUSTICE” — U.S. Immigration Judges Are NOT “Piece Workers,” & Fair Court Decisions Are Not “Widgets” That Can Be Quantified For Bogus “Performance Evaluations!” — Are Three Wrong Decisions “Better” Than One Right Decision?

http://immigrationimpact.com/2017/10/13/doj-immigration-judges-assembly-line/

Katie Shepherd writes in Immigration Impact:

“The Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly intending to implement numerical quotas on Immigration Judges as a way of evaluating their performance. This move would undermine judicial independence, threaten the integrity of the immigration court system, and cause massive due process violations.

As it currently stands, Immigration Judges are not rated based on the number of cases they complete within a certain time frame. The DOJ – currently in settlement negotiations with the union for immigration judges, the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ) – is now trying to remove those safeguards, declaring a need to accelerate deportations to reduce the court’s case backlog and ensure more individuals are deported.

This move is unprecedented, as immigration judges have been exempt from performance evaluations tied to case completion rates for over two decades. According to the NAIJ, the basis for the exemption was “rooted in the notion that ratings created an inherent risk of actual or perceived influence by supervisors on the work of judges, with the potential of improperly affecting the outcome of cases.”

If case completion quotas are imposed, Immigration Judges will be pressured to adjudicate cases more quickly, unfairly fast-tracking the deportation of those with valid claims for relief. Asylum seekers may need more time to obtain evidence that will strengthen their case or find an attorney to represent them. Only 37 percent of all immigrants (and merely 14 percent of detained immigrants) are able to secure legal counsel in their removal cases, even though immigrants with attorneys fare much better at every stage of the court process.

If judges feel compelled to dispose of cases quickly decreasing the chances that immigrants will be able to get an attorney, immigrants will pay the price, at incredible risk to their livelihood.

The Justice Department has expressed concern in recent weeks about the enormous backlog of 600,000 cases pending before the immigration courts and may see numerical quotas as an easy fix. Just this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions called on Congress to tighten up rules for people seeking to “game” the system by exploiting loopholes in a “broken” and extremely backlogged process. However, punishing immigration judges with mandatory quotas is not the solution.

The announcement, however, has sparked condemnation by immigration judges and attorneys alike; in fact, the national IJ Union maintains that such a move means “trying to turn immigration judges into assembly-line workers.”

Tying the number of cases completed to the evaluation of an individual immigration judge’s performance represents the administration’s latest move to accelerate deportations at the expense of due process. Judges may be forced to violate their duty to be fair and impartial in deciding their cases.”

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

The backlog problems in U.S. Immigration Court have nothing to do with “low productivity” by U.S. Immigration Judges.

It’s a result of a fundamentally flawed system created by Congress, years of inattention and ineffective oversight by Congress, political interference by the DOJ with court dockets and scheduling, years of “ADR,” and glaringly incompetent so-called judicial management by DOJ. There are “too many chefs stirring the pot” and too few “real cooks” out there doing the job.

The DOJ’s inappropriate “Vatican style” bureaucracy has produced a bloated and detached central administrative staff trying unsuccessfully to micromanage a minimalist, starving court system in a manner that keeps enforcement-driven politicos happy and, therefore, their jobs intact.

How could a court system set up in this absurd manner possibly “guarantee fairness and due process for all?” It can’t, and has stopped even pretending to be focused on that overriding mission! And what competence would Jeff Sessions (who was turned down for a Federal judgeship by members of his own party because of his record of bias) and administrators at EOIR HQ in Falls Church, who don’t actually handle Immigration Court dockets on a regular basis, have to establish “quotas” for those who do? No, it’s very obvious that the “quotas” will be directed at only one goal: maximizing removals while minimizing due process

When EOIR was established during the Reagan Administration the DOJ recognized that case completion quotas would interfere with judicial independence. What’s changed in the intervening 34 years?

Two things have changed: 1) the overtly political climate within the DOJ which now sees the Immigration Courts as part of the immigration enforcement apparatus (as it was before EOIR was created); and 2) the huge backlogs resulting from years of ADR, “inbreeding,” and incompetent management by the DOJ. This, in turn, requires the DOJ to find “scapegoats” like Immigration Judges, asylum applicants, unaccompanied children, and private attorneys to shift the blame for their own inappropriate behavior and incompetent administration of the Immigration Courts.

In U.S. Government parlance, there’s a term for that:  fraud, waste, and abuse!

PWS

10-17-17

IN TIMES OF DISASTER, AS USUAL, AMERICA WILL RELY ON HER UNDOCUMENTED POPULATION TO REBUILD! — “Gonzo Enforcement” Is Just Plain Dumb (In Addition To Wasteful And Inhumane)!

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_popover_share.aspx?guid=46301428-7f08-4ddd-9a61-ba495f303a3f

Saket Soni reports for the LA Times:

“In Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, mammoth hurricanes have left behind a colossal amount of work. The cleanup and reconstruction efforts are going to take years. That means a severe demand for salvage and demolition crews, roofers, carpenters, IMMIGRANT workers at a makeshift camp in Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. (Marcio Jose Sanchez Associated Press) drywall installers, painters, plumbers and workers in all manner of other trades and skills. And if recent history tells us anything, much of this demand will be met by immigrants — migrant laborers, many of them highly skilled, and many of them lacking legal status.

. . . .

This wasn’t a problem only for immigrants. As long as labor was exploitable and cheap, American-born workers and local businesses suffered too, as conditions and wages slid toward rock bottom.

If we had a federal government sensitive to these issues, the solution would be a moratorium on immigration enforcement in disaster zones. This would ensure that the rebuilders could keep working, and that those depending on them could return home as soon as possible. Given the Trump administration’s relentless attacks on immigrants, there’s little hope for this sensible fix. In the absence of such a moratorium, governors and mayors should insist that federal labor laws be enforced in these areas while reconstruction is underway. Labor laws guarantee workers payment, safe working conditions and the ability to report mistreatment, among other things.

When workers are vulnerable and afraid, aware that their immigration status can be used against them, they are easy targets for abuse. They know that one complaint could mean a quick call to immigration. Their fear of being deported and losing everything shackles them to bad employers.

. . . .

Diaz and the other workers organized, protesting the discrimination and illegal treatment. In retaliation, the employer evicted them without compensation. When they demanded their pay, the employer called local police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which arrested the workers immediately. After spending 78 days in jail, Diaz convinced the district attorney that the workers had been the victim of employer retaliation. The D.A. withdrew the charges, but ICE still detained the workers and sought to deport them.

These abuses, and the exploitation that took place after Katrina, occurred during the George W. Bush administration, which supported comprehensive immigration reform. The climate of fear is far worse today, with agents and officers from ICE and the Border Patrol running roughshod over immigrant communities, goaded by President Trump’s toxic rhetoric.

Nevertheless, immigrants will still risk their lives to come here. Their need is that dire — and our demand is that urgent. The credit rating company Moody’s estimates that the damage from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma could total $150 billion to $200 billion — considerably more than the $108 billion or so in damage left by Katrina. Irma destroyed an estimated 25% of homes in the Florida Keys. In Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, more than 136,000 homes and other structures were flooded by Harvey. In the aftermath of these disasters, there has been talk of rebuilding homes and cities with greater attention to long-term sustainability and resilience.

Some have even called for a “green New Deal” that marries these goals with stronger social safety nets for storm victims. This worthy vision can and should take into account the people who are doing the rebuilding, making sure they are safe, secure and paid a fair wage. And that means starting with meaningful protections for the immigrant workers who help storm victims return home.

Saket Soni is executive director of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice and the National Guestworker Alliance

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

Read the entire report at the above link.

Just another example of how White Nationalist inspired “Gonzo Enforcement” is not only wasteful, impractical, and inhumane, but also just plain dumb! The Trump Administration degrades America and our values with each day it is in office. When your “worldview” is driven by prejudice, bias, and political pandering, you’re bound to make lots of bad decisions!

PWs

10/12/17

TRUMP’S COWARDLY DECISION TO CUT REFUGEE ADMISSIONS DURING REFUGEE CRISIS DEMEANS AMERICA AND DAMAGES OUR FUTURE — Refugees Contribute More To American Success Than Trump and His Grifter Colleagues Ever Will!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/29/opinion/refugee-resettlement-trump.html

Admiral Michael G. Mullen writes in the NYT:

“Amid the world’s worst migrant crisis on record, the Trump administration is cutting back on refugee resettlement. As part of his travel ban, President Trump capped the number of refugees to be admitted in 2017 at 50,000, the lowest number in decades. Now the administration has proposed lowering the goal even further, to 45,000, next year.
Over the years, the United States has lived up to its ideals and brought millions of refugees to safety and freedom. It didn’t become a resettlement leader out of pure altruism. By welcoming refugees, the United States revitalizes its democracy and its economy, helps preserve or restore stability in volatile regions of the world, and builds respect.
In slashing resettlement, the president is taking a recklessly narrow view of how best to put America first. Shutting out refugees would not only increase human suffering; it would also weaken the country and undermine its foreign policy.
There are more than 22 million refugees in the world, the highest number since World War II. Even before the Trump presidency, the United States response to this crisis was relatively modest. In fiscal year 2016, the United States resettled about 84,000 refugees, the most of any year under President Barack Obama. For comparison’s sake, the country took in roughly 200,000 refugees a year in the early 1980s under President Ronald Reagan.
Nonetheless, the resettlement effort under President Obama served American interests. For one thing, it helped the states that host the vast majority of Syrian refugees: Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. (In fiscal year 2016, 12,500 of the refugees resettled by the United States came from Jordan, a key American ally in a strategically crucial region.) The huge influx of refugees into these nations has strained their resources and infrastructure, becoming a potential source of instability and even conflict. By resettling refugees, the United States helps preserve stability and sends a message of support to countries whose cooperation it needs on a range of issues.
The Trump administration’s cuts to resettlement send the exact opposite message. It is a message heard across the region, by enemies as well as friends of the United States. Restricting resettlement, especially in the context of the travel ban, appears to validate the propaganda of the Islamic State and other extremist groups, which claims that the United States is hostile to Muslims. The battle against violent extremism must be fought with guns, but also with ideas. Slamming the door on refugees is a significant strategic blunder.
Opponents of refugee resettlement would have you believe that the country’s enemies are exploiting the program. There is no factual basis for this claim. In fact, of all the people who enter the United States, refugees are the most thoroughly vetted. The screening process is exhaustive and lengthy, and involves numerous agencies. Our intelligence and national security professionals can both vet refugees and protect Americans. Indeed, they’ve done just that for years.
Refugees are victims of extremist groups and brutal governments. They become patriotic, hard-working Americans. Refugees are us. They are teachers, police officers, doctors, factory workers and soldiers. There are thousands of former refugees and children of refugees in the United States military. I served alongside many who were eager and proud to give back to the country that helped them in their time of need.
It’s no wonder that numerous studies have found that refugees are a net benefit to the American economy. The administration’s own study — which the president solicited from the Department of Health and Human Resources — concluded that refugees added $63 billion to the economy between 2005 and 2014.
Support for refugees creates another form of currency for the United States. Call it respect or admiration or credibility, this currency accrues when the United States leads by example and champions human rights on the world stage. It’s an invaluable and fungible resource, amassed over many decades. It enables the United States to forge ties with democratic movements. It also helps Washington persuade allies to do difficult things and pressure foes to stop their bad behavior. It is crucial to forging trade pacts, military coalitions and peace deals.
More than any other resource — including military and economic might — this accounts for American greatness. We sacrifice it at our peril.
Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.
Michael G. Mullen, a retired United States Navy admiral, was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011 and serves on the board of Human Rights First.”

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The greatest threat to America’s national security is Donald Trump and his enablers. And, it doesn’t take any type of “extreme vetting” to figure this out. Just common sense and human decency. Thanks, Admiral Mullen for “telling it like it is,” and continuing to support real American values and national interests in this time of darkness brought upon us by the Trump Administration.

 

PWS

09-26

 

FORMER DHS SEC MIKE CHERTOFF TELLS HOW CUTTING REFUGEE ADMISSIONS HURTS AMERICA AND ENDANGERS NATIONAL SECURITY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/cutting-refugee-admissions-hurts-americans-heres-how/2017/09/14/c7c8b5e6-9987-11e7-b569-3360011663b4_story.html?utm_term=.268b590d8b01

Chertoff writes in the Washington Post:

“President Trump will make another decision this month that will affect thousands of people: How many refugees will the United States admit in fiscal year 2018?

The president already cut refugee admissions by more than half this year, from more than 100,000 down to 50,000. By way of comparison, the highest ceiling under President Ronald Reagan was 140,000. The president has also signaled, through his executive orders and in his budget proposal, that these cuts will carry over to next year. And in fact, some in his administration are trying to convince him to cut even further.

This would be a mistake. Cutting refugee admittances would not only be a moral failure but also damage our national interest abroad and our economy.

Of course, security is an imperative, and the refugee resettlement program is secure. U.S. security and intelligence agencies conduct multiple reviews on every refugee admitted, and only those approved for admission by the Department of Homeland Security are granted refuge in the United States.

 

There is also the humanitarian imperative: We are in the midst of the greatest refugee crisis on record, with more than 22 million people seeking safety from violence, conflict and persecution all over the world. The vast majority of refugees — nearly 90 percent — are hosted by poor and middle-income countries. Only the most vulnerable — those whose safety cannot be assured in their countries of first refuge — are selected for resettlement. For these refugees — widowed women; orphaned children; survivors of rape, torture and brutal religious persecution — refugee resettlement is a lifeline.

But what’s in it for the United States?

Strategic allies located near crises host the largest refugee populations in the world. Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan and Kenya are among the top refugee-hosting states. Their willingness to host millions of refugees contributes greatly to regional stability and security, all in regions where U.S. troops are deployed. As our military works to contain terrorist insurgencies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and the Horn of Africa, forcing refugees to return to unsafe and unstable countries would make countering terrorism more difficult.

 

That’s why in 2016, when the Kenyan government threatened to close the Dadaab refugee camp and forcibly return more than 250,000 Somalis to an unstable Somalia, then-Secretary of State John F. Kerry got on a plane to Kenya. It’s also why the United States should be concerned that more than 700,000 Afghan registered and unregistered refugees have been returned to Afghanistan since 2016 — a threefold increase from 2015 — at a time when growing instability in Afghanistan and terrorist gains are forcing an increase in U.S. troop levels.

If we’re not willing to do our fair share, how can we ask front-line allies to do more?

Maintaining resettlement commitments is also critical to our military, diplomatic and intelligence operations abroad. Tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan nationals have put their lives on the line to support intelligence-gathering, operations planning and other essential services. Terrorist groups openly target these individuals because of their cooperation with Americans. Resettlement is instrumental to ensuring their safety — a testament to the U.S. military’s commitment to leave no one behind on the battlefield.

And in a proud American tradition, Republican and Democratic presidents have used refugee admissions to signal support for those who reject ideologies antithetical to U.S. values. In the past few decades, we have raised our admissions ceilings to take in those fleeing communist uprisings, religious persecution and tyranny.

 

Today, the United States must provide unwavering support for Muslims who put their lives at risk to reject terrorist ideologies, many of whom refused to join or be conscripted into terrorist groups, militias and state security forces persecuting their fellow citizens. The Islamic State considers all those who flee its rule as heretics subject to execution. Those who risk their lives — and their children’s lives — to reject terrorism must know, as a matter of our fight against extremism, that the United States supports and welcomes them.

Even in the wake of 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our country’s history, President George W. Bush deliberately and explicitly maintained a refugee admissions ceiling of 70,000 annually, affirming the United States’ great humanitarian tradition.

Finally, refugees enrich and are deeply supported by our communities. Hundreds of mayors, faith leaders and business leaders have attested to the contributions refugees make. Thousands of Americans donate volunteer hours, in-kind goods and services, and private dollars to support refugees. One study estimates only 39 percent of the costs of resettlement are covered by federal dollars.

 

Despite being among the most vulnerable and destitute when they arrive, refugees thrive. Entrepreneurship among refugees is nearly 50 percent higher than among U.S.-born populations, creating jobs for Americans. More than 57 percent of them are homeowners.

Our values and our national security interests argue for raising our refugee ceiling, not lowering it. The president should seize the mantle of Reagan and fortify U.S. leadership on refugees.”

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I’ll admit to not always being a Chertoff fan. In particular, his failure to support internal efforts to institute a strong prosecutorial discretion program at ICE that would have empowered the Chief Counsel to control the Immigration Courts’ growing docket was unfortunate, given his legal and judicial background.

But, I agree with what Chertoff says here. Just compare the power, logic, and moral authority of his statement with the mealy-mouthed, cowardly, morally vapid lies flowing from the mourths of xenophobic, disingenuous, fear mongers like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, Rep. Steve King, and the rest of the White Nationalist crowd!

Refugeees make America great! White Nationalist xenophobes, not so much!

PWS

09-15-17

RELIGION: Gary Silverman In Financial Times: How White Evangelicals Traded The Mercy & Hope Of Jesus Christ For The False “Profit” Donald Trump!

https://www.ft.com/content/b41d0ee6-1e96-11e7-b7d3-163f5a7f229c

Silverman writes:

“Trump’s efforts to reach evangelicals during the campaign were marred by technical difficulties. After an appearance at Liberty University in Virginia, which was founded by Falwell, Trump was lampooned for quoting from a section of the Bible he called “Two Corinthians”, rather than “Second Corinthians”, as would customarily be done. Ultimately, Liberty University split over Trump. Its current president, Jerry Falwell Jr, endorsed his candidacy. But Mark DeMoss, a member of the university’s board of trustees and a former chief of staff for the elder Falwell, objected and resigned as a trustee. In a Washington Post interview last year, DeMoss described Trump’s rhetoric as antithetical to Christian values.

“Donald Trump is the only candidate who has dealt almost exclusively in the politics of personal insult,” DeMoss said. “The bullying tactics of personal insult have no defence — and certainly not for anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. That’s what’s disturbing to so many people. It’s not [the] Christ-like behaviour that Liberty has spent 40 years promoting with its students.”

Nonetheless, Trump was backed by 81 per cent of white voters who identified themselves as evangelical Christians, more than recent Republican candidates such as Mitt Romney and John McCain, according to the Pew Research Center, and more even than George W Bush, whose strategist Karl Rove made wooing them a priority of the campaign. Analysts say Trump made evangelicals an offer that they could not refuse. Unlike his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton — who was both disliked by conservatives and uncompromising in her support of a woman’s right to choose — Trump pledged to appoint an anti-abortion justice to fill the vacancy on a Supreme Court that was split between conservatives and liberals.

The white evangelical flight to Trump has caused “deep heartbreak” for “evangelicals of colour” who see him as a bigot, says Jim Wallis, a progressive evangelical leader in Washington. “It’s the most painful divide I have seen in the churches since the beginning of the civil rights movement.”

. . . .

But that’s not the way things look at the house on a hill in Auburn, Alabama, where Wayne Flynt lives with his wife of 55 years, Dorothy. As evangelical Christianity has grown more successful in the political realm, Flynt fears that it has been reduced to a sum of its slogans. Lost in the transition, he says, is the traditional evangelical standard for sizing up candidates — “personal moral character”, which includes such criteria as marital fidelity, church attendance and kindness.

“No one I know of would argue that Donald Trump inculcates moral character,” Flynt says. “What has happened to American Christianity is there is this afterglow of what a candidate is supposed to represent. It’s no longer moral character. It’s policy positions on things that bother evangelicals.”

Flynt says evangelical Christians are mainly mobilising against the sins they either do not want to commit (homosexual acts) or cannot commit (undergoing an abortion, in the case of men). They turn a blind eye toward temptations such as adultery and divorce that interest them. In 2010, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution calling the rising incidence of divorce among its members a “scandal”. A Pew Research Center study in 2015 found that evangelical Protestants in the US were more likely to be divorced or separated than Catholics, Jews, Muslims or atheists.

“Jesus says four times in four different places: do not divorce,” Flynt says. “Does divorce bother evangelicals? No, absolutely not. Does adultery bother evangelicals? No, not really, because if so they wouldn’t have voted for Donald Trump. So what bothers them? Abortion and same-sex marriage. Beyond that, there’s no longer an agenda.”

Flynt, who left the Southern Baptist Convention in 1979 to protest its turn to the right, notes ruefully that his former denomination has lost members for nine years in a row.

Into this religious void, he believes, stepped Trump, an unabashed materialist and hedonist — “What is right to Donald Trump is what gives him pleasure,” Flynt says — who thinks that he alone can make America great again.

“To be sure, every politician has some element of narcissism, but he has perfected narcissism, he has made it the supreme element of his life, and not only that, evangelicals have responded in an almost messianic way that he is the saviour, which makes him feel really good because he does believe he is the saviour,” Flynt says. “It is kind of curious evangelicals would not be offended by this. I am as an American Christian. I’m offended because I already thought following Jesus was going to make us great again.”

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Whatever happened to the Christian message of humanity, humility, faith, self-sacrifice, generosity to all, mercy, forgiveness, understanding, peace, elevating the spiritual over the material, and grace? I hear those things from Pope Francis (although I’m not a Catholic). But, not from Trump and his zealots. Go figure!

PWS

06-25-17

HISTORY: Paul Fanlund In Madison Cap Times: How We Got From Nixon To Trump!

http://host.madison.com/ct/opinion/column/paul_fanlund/paul-fanlund-so-why-can-t-america-just-be-good/article_e8734a95-ed8b-5544-a32f-f5ee791264a3.html#tncms-source=behavioral

Fanlund writes in an op-ed:

“When Roger Ailes died, essays about him ranged from adoring to vilifying. As creator of Fox News, he was perhaps the nation’s most influential political messenger — or propagandist — of the past 50 years.

One aspect of any honest obituary, of course, was his misogyny. Ailes was finally forced out at Fox in 2016 after years of sexual harassing women employees. His 17-year-old son threatened his father’s accusers at the funeral, warning mourners that he wanted “all the people who betrayed my father to know that I’m coming after them, and hell is coming with me.”

But what I found most interesting in immersing myself in analyses of Ailes’ life was how little his craft had to do with liberal versus conservative ideology.

Rather, Ailes was perhaps the master of the dark art of inventing and relentlessly reinforcing hateful caricatures of political opponents — in his case, people of color, bureaucrats, university professors and, of course, the media.

His brilliant execution of that art culminated in Donald Trump.

Ailes, as is widely known, learned from Richard Nixon, for whom he worked as a young television consultant. Nixon launched his political career much earlier by championing “forgotten Americans,” lunch-pail-toting working men whose fortunes, in Nixon’s telling, were stymied by taxes and regulations imposed upon them by far-away elites.

The rest, as they say, is history. Nixon appealed to his “silent majority” to stand against anti-war and civil rights protesters. Democrats opened the floodgates to Republican demagoguery by advancing civil rights. The GOP today has broadened its pool of villains to include Latino and Muslim immigrants.

The 1980s brought jolly Ronald Reagan with his fantastical stories about welfare queens, followed by George H.W. Bush’s law and order and patriotism themes, and so on.

“Individual issues would come and go — acid, amnesty and abortion in 1972, and immigration, political correctness and transgender bathrooms in 2016 — but the attacks on liberals as elite, out of touch and protective of the ‘wrong people’ came from the same playbook,” wrote David Greenberg, a Rutgers professor of history and journalism, in a New York Times op-ed on Ailes.

OK, but why does it always work?

Why are so many — especially older, white, middle-class people — so susceptible to this toxic narrative when it is clear that the trickle-down GOP policies that follow do them so little good?

Maybe, I theorize, it has something to do with how we were all taught.

I’ve talked with many friends about the flag-waving jingoism of our pre-college education, in which our nation was portrayed as perfect, our leaders without fault.

My formal education began when Dwight Eisenhower was president, an era of unfettered national pride. We were a paragon of liberty and justice and never fought in unjust wars. It was as if someone decided that American children could not process the slightest balance or shade of gray.

In this frame, Andrew Jackson was, as Trump likes to say, a glorious “swashbuckler” like himself, not a president who drove Native Americans from their homes, killing thousands in the process. Nor were we ever taught that Jackson, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other forefathers owned slaves.

It seems the goal was always to convey “American exceptionalism,” or, more bluntly, reinforce a cultish sense of American superiority.”

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Fanlund’s entire op-ed, at the above link, is well worth a read!

Lots of folks don’t like it when we put US history in perspective. For example, during the “glory days” of my childhood in the 1950’s millions of African Americans throughout the nation, and particularly in the South, were deprived of the basic rights of US citizenship. This was notwithstanding the clear dictates of the 14th Amendment, which had been added nearly a century earlier.

The US and many state governments merely decided not to enforce the law of the land. So much for all of the “rule of law” and “nation of laws” malarkey purveyed by right wingers today.

Indeed, many southern states enacted discriminatory laws that were directly contrary to the 14th Amendment. And, amazingly, for the majority of the 19th and 20th Centuries, courts of law at all levels were complicit in enforcing these unconstitutional laws and ignoring the14th Amendment!

PWS

05-26-17

IN MEMORIUM — From Politico: Bob Michel, Former GOP Leader & Great Public Servant In The “Old Style”

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/bob-michel-dies-former-gop-house-leader-234936

David Rogers writes in Politico:

“Former House Republican Leader Bob Michel, who helped shepherd Ronald Reagan’s agenda through Congress only to be pushed aside by the rise of Newt Gingrich a decade later, has died at the age of 93.

Elected first in 1956, the Illinois lawmaker spent 38 years in Congress — more than half in his party’s leadership. No House Republican has held the Republican leadership post longer, and Michel’s death is sure to trigger a host of memories, all the more relevant because of what Washington has become in the years since.
Indeed, it’s difficult to overstate how much the transition from Michel to Gingrich in 1994 impacted first House Republicans and then all of Congress as the fabric of civility soon fell apart and both political parties became more polarized.

“It’s day and night,” said Thomas Mann, a political scientist and long time student of Congress. “I see that transition — the shift from Michel to Gingrich — as the beginning of our really dreadfully dysfunctional Congress and a politics that became so personal and negative and anti-institutional that it really changed the whole character of public life in this country.”

As Republican leader, Michel’s legislative skills were genuine, albeit often under-appreciated in a House dominated then by Democrats. But history is likely to remember him most for the man himself and what many saw as the uncommon decency he brought to his job.

His was a mix of grace, humor and battle-tested bravery rarely seen now in the Capitol. As a Republican, he didn’t shy from carpooling with the gruff Chicago Democrat Dan Rostenkowski, riding back-and-forth from Illinois overnight in a station wagon equipped with a mattress in the back for sleep breaks between turns at the wheel. He played golf with one Democratic speaker, and built a lasting friendship with another. But Michel also took his shots, including a remarkable vote in June 1981, when he stunned Democrats by effectively seizing control of the House long enough to dictate the terms for debate for Reagan’s budget cuts.”

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PWS

02/18/17