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.
“In 1968, a British Conservative politician, Enoch Powell, made what became known as his “Rivers of Blood” speech. In it, he sounded an alarm about what he imagined to be an unchecked immigrant invasion of the United Kingdom, at a time when the country’s immigrant population had only grown from 5 to 6% in the previous decade.
Crime was low, less than one homicide per 100,000 residents, a tenth the rate of the US. Quoting a constituent, he foresaw the day when “the black man will have the whip hand over the white man”. In subsequent decades, immigration slowly inched upwards, but the scenario Powell envisioned failed to materialize.
Half a century later, we Americans live in a Powellesque moment in which politicians’ hysterical rhetoric surrounding immigration is completely at odds with the facts. President Trump, giving his own Rivers of Blood speech on Tuesday, painted a grim picture of a wave of hardened criminal immigrants, exploiting diversity visas and “chain migration”, running around the country murdering people left and right.
In reality, illegal immigration to the US is down, not up. Trump would like to take credit for this with his tough talk about walls, rapists, and “bad hombres” from Mexico, but the number of unauthorized immigrants in the country has been falling for the past decade, due not to xenophobic bluster but the Great Recession.
Net migration from Mexico is currently negative: more Mexicans are leaving the US than coming in, and have been doing so since the end of the Bush administration. In coming decades, most new immigrants to the US will not be from Latin America at all, but from China and India.
Violent crime, too, is down, way down: FBI statistics show violent crimes are just half of what they were in the early 90s. Trump would have you believe that immigrants are responsible for “tremendous amounts of crime”, but research shows immigrants commit less crime than native-born Americans.
Yet to convince us the opposite is true, Trump and the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, have zeroed in on one group in particular, Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13, a gang I’ve researched in El Salvador. MS-13 makes for a picture-perfect boogeyman given its reputation for violence and scary face tattoos, and misreported origins in Central America.
In fact, it started in Los Angeles in the 1980s, was originally made up of adolescent stoners who listened to heavy metal, and only grew into a much larger and more vicious, officially designated “transnational gang” thanks to mass criminal deportations by the Clinton administration to poor countries that were ill-equipped to deal with the influx.
It can’t really be described accurately as a single gang but is rather a network of gangs with little centralized authority and a franchised name, whose street value only increases with each press conference by Trump and Sessions. And for all the hype, MS-13 is a relatively small player here. Its estimated US membership has remained constant for the past decade at around 10,000, or less than 1% of the 1.4 million gang members in the US: far smaller than the Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings, or Aryan Brotherhood.
Even the face tattoo image is out of date; MS cliques have been discouraging members from getting them after belatedly realizing it makes them easy to identify by police.
As for the origins of this nonexistent immigrant crime wave, Trump blames “chain migration”, the more menacing nativist buzzword for family reunification, the principle on which our immigration laws are founded.
“Chain migration” is actually a conservative idea: the Immigration and Nationality Act, which was passed in 1965, was sold to immigration restrictionists as a law which would preserve mostly white immigration while doing away with the overtly racist, eugenics-inspired quota laws it replaced. Because by 1965, most immigrants to the US were from Europe, it was assumed that giving preference to family members of current immigrants would restrict immigration from other parts of the world.
The opposite happened, with immigration surging from Asia and Latin America, not coincidentally many countries with histories of US military intervention: Korea, Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Iraq. Yet family reunification has remained the cornerstone of immigration policy, with broad conservative support, for decades.
After all, it is a policy which upholds the family as a unit. Families, conservatives argued, were preferable to single men. They encourage stable employment, homeownership, participation in the community, and provide a source of private, non-state welfare for needy relatives. Families are what keeps people out of trouble, the kind Trump imagines immigrants are getting into, and which may actually happen if he succeeds in taking away this base of support.
It wouldn’t be the first time US immigration policy had the opposite of its intended effect, from Johnson’s 1965 immigration law to Clinton’s criminal deportations. Similarly, Trump’s recent decision to revoke TPS protection for over 200,000 legal immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador will only increase the number of unauthorized immigrants and lead to more unauthorized immigration in the future: mass deportations mean a loss of cash remittances from those immigrants to countries whose economies are heavily dependent on them, which will only worsen unemployment and send more migrants north.
Breaking up families also creates the conditions of insecurity under which predatory gangs thrive. In Central America, deportations from the US give gangs a new vulnerable population to recruit from. In the US, the loss of family networks and raids which push migrants into the shadows give them a new vulnerable population to extort. There aren’t many beneficiaries of Trump’s immigration policy, but there’s at least one: MS-13 couldn’t have asked for a better president than Trump.”
Pretty much what I’ve been saying all along! With their toxic mixture of ignorance, arrogance, incompetence, bias, White Nationalism, and racism, Trump, Sessions, Miller, and their sycophantic followers have been destroying American communities, weakening and dissolving American society, and empowering our enemies, foreign and domestic! Other than that, they’re a great bunch of guys.
The only folks happier than MS-13 about the Trump/Sessions regime and their “sell-out” of America and American values are Vladi Putin and his Oligarchs.
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!
“Donald Trump hasn’t created the massive “deportation force” he promised as a candidate for president. But he has done the next best thing—boosting, bolstering, and unleashing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, giving it broad authority to act at its own discretion. The result? An empowered and authoritarian agency that operates with impunity, whose chief attribute is unapologetic cruelty.
Under President Obama, who ramped up immigration enforcement even as he sought to protect large categories of unauthorized immigrants from deportation, ICE was a controversial agency whose practices came under heavy scrutiny from activists and some fellow Democrats. But in the year since Trump’s election, ICE has become something far more sinister: a draconian force for harassing and detaining people who pose no threat to the United States or its citizens.
And in keeping with one of President Trump’s first executive orders, which drastically expanded who the federal government considered a priority for deportation, the most striking aspect of ICE under this administration has been its refusal to distinguish between law-abiding immigrants, whose undocumented status obscures their integration into American life, and those with active criminal records—the “bad hombres” of the president’s rhetoric.
Erasing that distinction is how we get the arrest and detention of Lukasz Niec, a Polish immigrant and green card holder who was brought to the United States as a young child. Last week, ICE agents arrested Niec at his home in Michigan, citing two misdemeanor convictions for offenses that were committed when he was a teenager, according to the Washington Post. Although one of the convictions had been scrubbed from his record, it can still be used to remove him from the country. A practicing physician, Niec now sits in a county jail, awaiting possible deportation.
Niec’s standing as an affluent professional makes him an unusual case. More typical is the plight of Jorge Garcia, a 30-year resident of the United States who was recently deported to Mexico after his arrest by ICE. Married with two American-born children, Garcia was brought to the country as a child. He was working to secure legal status when, following Trump’s election, he was ordered to leave the country. In a statement to CBS News, ICE explained that anyone violating immigration laws “may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and … removal from the United States.” Despite its ability to exercise discretion, ICE has opted for an indiscriminate approach to immigration enforcement, arresting and detaining unauthorized residents regardless of whether they pose a threat to the public.
In its drive to remove as many undocumented residents as possible, ICE has begun deporting immigrants who make routine check-ins to their offices, even if those people are simply awaiting visas or green cards that would allow them to stay. Vice News recounts the story of Andre Browne, a Barbados native married to an American citizen. At a recent check-in with ICE agents, he was “arrested and forced to surrender all personal belongings.” He was jailed and now faces deportation. Similarly, in Virginia, a mother of two, Liliana Cruz Mendez, was detained following her regular check-in with immigration officials. Her offense? A traffic misdemeanor.
ICE’s tactics can have life-changing effects, even when its targets are spared deportation. The New Yorker tells of Alejandra Ruiz, brought to the United States as an infant. Last March, she was arrested by ICE agents citing a deportation order issued when she was a toddler. She was shackled and sent to an immigrant-detention facility operated by a private-prison firm. Ruiz was eventually released—she had filed a motion to reopen her childhood case for asylum—but it came at the cost of her livelihood: She lost her job as a senior care worker.
In addition to these activities, ICE is ramping up its mass raids in an effort to spread paranoia and uncertainty in cities with large undocumented populations. The agency is deliberately targeting these “sanctuary cities,” hoping to compel cooperation with their newly aggressive enforcement operations. This is all part of a larger strategy to create an atmosphere of fear and desperation for unauthorized immigrants. It’s behind President Trump’s decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and end deportation protections for immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador. Vox’s Dara Lind describes it as “a combination of policy and messaging to keep the threat of deportation hanging over immigrants’ heads” meant to make sure “they don’t get too comfortable here because they could be taken at any minute.”
Anti-immigration hard-liners describe these incidents in the bloodless language of “immigration enforcement,” but that obscures the violence and trauma of what’s happening on the ground: ICE is whisking people away to jails or private prisons and then exiling them from their homes and communities with little chance of recourse or recompense. And the pace is only increasing. While the overall number of “border removals”—those caught trying to cross the border—dropped last year, as a result of economic trends and Trump’s hard-line policies, the proportion of “interior removals” undertaken by ICE increased. Most deportations still involve immigrants from a handful of Latin American countries, but “[t]he number of deportees from other nations rose 24 percent in Trump’s first year,” reports NPR.
The administration is still hoping to increase those efforts. A proposal released by the White House last week asked Congress to grant additional funds to hire more ICE agents as part of an overall increase in “border security” that would be effectively traded for a path to citizenship for more than 1 million Dreamers.
It will be up to Democrats to block those additional funds and, perhaps, to build a broader case against ICE and its tactics. Some high-profile Democrats, like Sen. Kamala Harris of California, have already publicly condemned the agency. “ICE raids across the country have torn mothers apart from their children. The raids lack transparency, spread fear, and harm public safety,” she said last year in a Facebook post. More recently, following a report that ICE was planning raids in retaliation to a new California law limiting cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities, Harris said that such raids would be “an abhorrent abuse of power.”
Given the extent to which Democrats have helped build the architecture for today’s ICE, Harris’ statements—as well as similar ones by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi—may mark the beginning of a new and needed skepticism toward the agency. And if so, then the logic of their critique doesn’t just point toward reform—it points toward a fundamental rethinking of immigration enforcement and a move away from the authoritarianism of ICE as it exists.
What the country needs, in other words, is an honest discussion about whether ICE can be effectively reformed or if it must be abolished and replaced by an agency that can carry out its mission in a more effective and humane way.”
Meanwhile, over in the Southern District of New York, U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest had enough of ICE’s “Gonzo” tactics following the mindless arrest of immigration activist Ravi Ragbir. She blasted ICE’s actions in ordering Ragbir’s release to say good-bye to his family and wind up his affairs. Judge Forrest characterized ICE’s actions in detaining Ragbir as “unnecessarily cruel.”
Here is a copy of Judge Forrest’s order in Ragbir v Sessions:
Useless, counterproductive removals, waste of Government enforcement resources, irrationality, and unnecessary cruelty are, of course, at the heart of the Trump/Sessions/Miller immigration enforcement program. Certainly, the performance of ICE under Trump — not especially good at removing real criminals and threats or any other type of legitimate law enforcement — much better at busting minor offenders and law-abiding community members and sowing terror in ethnic communities — provides a compelling argument that DHS does not need any additional enforcement agents.
Indeed, I have hypothesized that what Trump, Sessions, Miller, and the White Nationalists are really doing is building the DHS into an internal security police force that will be used against all of those the Administration fears or views as opponents of their “Totalitarian-Wannabe State.”
In the meantime, arbitrary use of force and calculated unnecessary cruelty are likely to remain staples of the DHS under Trump. That’s why ICE is fast becoming American’s most loathed, mistrusted, and unprofessional police force. Bouie might well be right. Assuming that America recovers from the Trump regime, unfortunately not necessarily a given, ICE might well need to be abolished and “replaced by an agency that can carry out its mission in a more effective and humane way.”
“IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS Enforcement, the federal agency whose deportation agents have been unshackled by the Trump administration, has intensified its efforts to such a degree that cruelty now seems no impediment to its enforcement decisions, and common sense appears to play a diminishing role.
Recent months have brought news of one senseless detention and deportation after another. From all appearances, the agency seems to have embraced the idea that it is just to sunder established families and separate immigrant parents from their U.S.-born children — even in cases involving garden-variety technical violations of immigration rules.
Yes, the Obama administration also deported some longtime residents who had committed no serious offenses, but its deportation efforts were focused on criminals. By contrast, detentions of immigrants with no criminal records more than doubled in the first year of President Trump’s administration — to 13,600 in 2017 from 5,498 in 2016. Evidently seized by a vainglorious notion of its mission, ICE too often discounts basic decency as a guiding tenet.
How else to explain the detention and imminent deportation of a 27-year-old Ohio man, arrested for driving without a license, who is the only means of financial support, and one of just two trained medical caregivers, for a 6-year-old paraplegic boy (who also happens to be a U.S. citizen)? How else to explain the deportation of a construction worker in Michigan, the father of 10- and 3-year-old U.S.-born boys, who provided critical help to police in Detroit in their investigation of a shooting?
How else to explain the airport arrest and deportation of a 22-year-old female college student from Spain, visiting the United States for a vacation at the invitation of a librarian at Oregon State University, on grounds that she would give Spanish lessons to the librarian’s young son for a few weeks — work for which she lacked the right visa? How else to explain the deportation of a 39-year-old landscaper living in the Detroit suburbs, a father and husband of U.S. citizens, who had lived in the United States since age 10 and whose record was so unblemished that it didn’t even feature a traffic violation? How else to explain the Israeli undergraduate at the University of California at San Diego, a “dreamer” studying legally in the United States, who was detained upon trying to cross back into the United States minutes after his roommate made a wrong turn on the highway, unintentionally driving into Mexico?
In its boilerplate communiques, the agency defends its actions by insisting that it prioritizes bona fide threats to national security and public safety but exempts no category of “removable alien” from enforcement. Which raises a question: Have discretion and humanity been dropped from the attributes that Americans can expect of their law enforcement agencies?”
In answer to the Post’s question: YES, thanks exactly what has been happening in America since the very beginning of the Trump regime — starting with the “Muslim Ban” and continuing with a consistent White Supremecist agenda! Many of us have been saying that all along!
We already have the “New American Gulag” — expanded “civil” immigration detention in substandard, potentially even deadly conditions, in obscure “out of sight, out of mind” locations. There, individuals, many deserving legal protection from the US under our laws, are denied fair access to counsel and railroaded out of the country in what essentially are “mock court” hearings conducted by “judges” controlled by notorious White Nationalist Jeff “Gono Apocalypto” Sessions.
Sessions and his minions encourage the judges to view individuals in removal proceedings as “production numbers, possible fraudsters, and potential terrorists,” rather than as vulnerable human beings deserving of fairness, respect, and due process.
To complement the “New American Gulag,” we now have the “New American Gestapo,” headed by Acting Chief ICEMAN Tom Homan. It’s an internal police force that operates without rules, rhyme, reason, or humanity — in other words arbitrary “Gonzo” enforcement intended to terrorize ethnic (primarily Latino) communities.
And, in case you haven’t read about it, ICE now has the capacity to electronically track the whereabouts and driving patterns of every license plate in America —- including YOURS! Of course they say that they will only use it for “legitimate” law Enforcement purposes.
But, for the “New American Gestapo” everything is “legitimate” — boundaries on law enforcement conduct and misconduct went out the widow when the Trumpsters crawled in. Remember, Gonzo essentially told local police forces he really didn’t care what they were doing to the civil rights of African-Americans and other minorities as long as they were enforcing the law and bringing crime rates down!
This is why ICE is well on its way to becoming the most hated, distrusted, and least respected police force in America.
Had enough of the Trump Administation’s trampling on Constitutional rights, civil rights, human rights, and just plain old human decency in America! Join the resistance!
The “New Due Process Army” (“NDPA”) is out there every day fighting for the Due Process and the legal rights of everyone in America and standing up against the excesses of the Trump Administration. Join their effort today!
Forget the wall, Trump’s plan would reshape US legal immigration dramatically
By: Tal Kopan, CNN
The eye-popping numbers of potential new citizens and billions for border security got most of the attention when President Donald Trump’s immigration proposal landed Thursday.
But while the noise about the “amnesty” for “wall” trade was the loudest, it obscured what actually would be a much more difficult fight: the President’s proposed sweeping changes to the immigration system.
The Trump administration briefed reporters and supporters on its proposal Thursday: offering a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children and asking for $25 billion for border security including infrastructure.
If that were all that was on the table, a deal might already be at hand. In fact, Democrats were mostly prepared to agree to such a proposal, which could have lined up some moderate Republicans as well.
But the deal also included two other “pillars,” as the White House has called them: family-based migration and the diversity visa lottery. In addition, the administration proposal included a number of “legal loopholes” it wants to close in the border security pillar beyond physical security — a repackaged effort to expand federal immigration authorities.
Taken together, those efforts would amount to a dramatic reshaping of the legal immigration system — one that will be far more complicated to negotiate on Capitol Hill.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas agreed Thursday before the White House announcement that the elements of the deal beyond pure border security were arguably more complicated.
“I think they probably are,” he said, adding that with more understanding he thought they could be negotiable.
Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, who is part of a bipartisan Senate group working to find common ground on the issue, had said earlier Thursday that while a full border wall is not acceptable, a major investment in border security is.
“I trust big investment. I’ve voted for that already,” Kaine said. “When you can patrol a border better with drones and sensors, the wall may not be the best way. But that we would make a big investment in it? The Dems are there already.”
GOP Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota said the issue of family migration comes up if the undocumented population covered by the bill is granted citizenship — and that leads down a difficult road.
“if you do that, you have to address the issue of chain migration, and that’s where it becomes a lot more complicated. So we’ve got our work cut out for us,” Rounds said upon leaving the morning bipartisan meeting.
The White House proposal would limit family sponsorship to spouses and minor children, eliminating a number of existing categories including adult children, both married and unmarried; parents of adult US citizens; and siblings of adult US citizens. Experts have estimated that cutting these categories would reduce the roughly 1 million green cards given out yearly by 25% to 50%.
At first, the Trump proposal would use the green cards from the eliminated categories — plus the 50,000 from the eliminated diversity visa lottery — to work through a backlog of millions of people waiting in a line upward of 30 years long for their green cards. The bill does extend an olive branch to the left in not making the cuts retroactive — meaning anyone already in line would still be eligible. Groups on the right are outraged that the plan would mean potentially 10 to 20 years before cuts to immigration begin.
But Democrats are unlikely to accept such a sweeping cut in legal immigration at all. And cutting the diversity visa lottery is not as straightforward as some believe — especially to members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other affinity caucuses, who are vocal about the importance of immigration from lesser represented countries.
And the framework includes vague references to closing “legal loopholes,” as a White House official put it on a briefing call, as part of the border security pillar — perhaps one of the biggest poison pills of the deal.
The White House released only a top-line overview of what it was seeking — what it characterized as “closing the loopholes” to more easily detain and deport immigrants. But a document obtained by CNN that goes into more detail, which the Department of Homeland Security has been providing to lawmakers in meetings, and the descriptions released by the White House suggest it will pursue aggressive changes.
In addressing “catch-and-release,” as the White House put it, the framework could allow detaining individuals indefinitely as they await deportation for months and years — something that has been curtailed as the result of constitutional concerns from courts. The proposals could also vastly expand the definitions of criminal offenses that could subject an individual to deportation.
All the efforts to more aggressively deport and reject undocumented immigrants could be anathema to Democrats and some moderate Republicans.
“I am a lot less interested in things that have the effect of distorting family relationships or splitting up families, and border security is less likely to do that,” said Democrat Michael Bennet of Colorado, who has long pursued an immigration compromise.
“It’s crazy,” said Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey. “This is not an easy negotiation, but we should move on the things we all agree on.”
Support for a simpler deal
The realities of trying to sort through the complicated issues the White House is looking to attach to a deal on the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are leading lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to suggest paring down the negotiations to just two pillars: DACA and physical border security.
“We all need to understand that there are two things that are critical,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, said as she was leaving the bipartisan group. “Dealing with the Dreamers, because we’re up against (a) March deadline, and dealing with border security. We all agree we need border security. We need more definitional work done on border security.”
Kaine agreed, saying there’s a need to be realistic.
“There’s all kinds of issues I want to fix, I just think it’s probably going to be easier to start with the two pillars,” he said.
Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, one of the leading forces in the bipartisan group, was also vocal about a narrow approach.
“We don’t have to solve the entire problem of legal immigration in this bill,” Alexander told CNN. “All we really have to do is focus on the young people who were brought here illegally through no fault of their own, and border security. Sometimes taking small steps in the right direction is a good way to get where you want to go.”
Here’s my “Quick & Dirty” Analysis:
I’ve been saying all along that Dreamers for Wall is the logical trade. Yes, money gets wasted; but unlike the rest of the GOP White Nationalist proposal, nothing gets broken, nobody gets hurt. And Trump gets to gloat about his “signature item.”
I’m just not sure it would pass the House where the GOP’s White Nationalist/Bakuninist Block is strong and Paul (“Spine-Free”) Ryan has never shown an inclination to stand up to them.
It’s possible that a “Skinny Dreamers” (protection w/o citizenship) could work for now, with the Dems figuring that they will fix things for the Dreamers when they are next in power.
But, what do I know about such things? I’m just a retired Judge.
“At his inauguration, President Trump promised to renew the unity of the American people, claiming that “through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.” Then, Trump seemed intent on creating a reborn civic and social consciousness, and on empowering ordinary people against big government and big money.
And yet, Trump’s administration has ushered in a virulently antisocial politics that dissolves the most basic bonds and leaves individuals powerless against both market and state. Trump, like many populists of the right, gained a foothold by promising that a resurgent nationalism could make people feel cohesive, trusting and strong again. But like his right-leaning populist predecessors, he has offered only the imaginary bonds of nationalism — the illusion of fellow-feeling and homogeneity — even as his policies destroy the real and foundational bonds of family and community in the arenas of health care, immigration, labor and more.
. . . . In its amicus brief in support of unions, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops points out that the destruction of unions based on the loose interpretation of money as speech will render workers weaker than ever before. “Ironically then,” the bishops observe, “a misguided effort to protect one individual from government coercion would leave only individuals to stand against government (or economic) coercion.”
If only that world were really so far away. In reality, it is already here. What unites workfare, the annihilation of DACA and the war on unions is a totalizing individualism — the belief that people are essentially isolated individuals. That we are alone before we are together. That we are more and not less ourselves in total isolation. From that view flow policies that disregard or deny that people are, in fact, embedded in families, communities and industries, and that their bonds and obligations are powerful and ought to be respected and protected by the state. No politics issuing from that view can ever cultivate unity.
What Trump offered as an answer to the aching aloneness of Americans was nationalism, the exchange of an imagined community for actual ones, the promise of a mystic bond with people you’ll never meet even while the ones you know and love are deported, abandoned, dying. It was supposed to bring us together, supposed to make us strong. But his policies stand to leave us more alone than we’ve ever been, and in our solitude, weak.
Read the rest of Elizabeth’s op-ed at the link.
First, it was Mexicans, Muslims, and undocumented workers. Then came Legal Immigrants, Latinos, African-Americans, LGBTQ individuals, demonstrators, the sick, the poor, women seeking to exercise their constitutional right to abortion, unionists, Liberals, and Democrats. Don’t see YOUR GROUP on the “hit list.” Just wait. It keeps expanding, Folks like Trump and his White Nationalist buddies can’t live without an “enemy of the day” to rally their “base.”
When the GOP White Nationalists decide that YOU no longer fit their image of America, who will be left to stand up for YOUR rights. Harm to the most vulnerable members of our community, and failure to stand up for them, harms and ultimately diminishes the humanity of all of us. And, that’s how free societies are “deconstructed and destroyed.” Stand up for everyone’s rights! Just say no to Trump and his White Nationalist Cabal!
Professor Catherine Kerrison writes in the Washington Post:
“Many people know that Thomas Jefferson had a long-standing relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings. But fewer know that they had four children, three boys and a girl, who survived to adulthood. Born into slavery, Sally’s daughter Harriet boarded a stagecoach to freedom at age 21, bound for Washington, D.C. Her father had given her $50 for her travel expenses. She would never see her mother or younger brothers again.
With her departure from Monticello in 1822, Harriet disappeared from the historical record, not to be heard of again for more than 50 years, when her brother told her story. Seven-eighths white, Harriet had “thought it to her interest to go to Washington as a white woman,” he said. She married a “white man in good standing” in that city and “raised a family of children.” In the half-century during which she passed as white, her brother was “not aware that her identity as Harriet Hemings of Monticello has ever been discovered.”So how did we lose a president’s daughter? Given America’s obsession with the Founding Fathers, with the children of the Revolution and their descendants, why did Jefferson’s child disappear? As it turns out, America has an even greater obsession with race, so that not even Harriet Hemings’s lineage as a president’s daughter was sufficient to convey the benefits of freedom. Instead, her birth into slavery marked her as black and drove her decision to erase her family history.
Harriet Hemings passed as white to protect her fragile freedom. Jefferson had not issued her formal manumission papers, so until the abolition of slavery in 1865, by law she remained a slave, which meant her children also inherited that condition. But in a society that increasingly associated blackness with enslavement, Hemings used her white skin not only to ensure her children’s freedom, but to claim for them all the rights and privileges of whiteness: education, the vote, a home mortgage, any seat they chose on a streetcar. To reveal herself as the daughter of Jefferson and his slave would have destroyed her plans for a better life for her descendants.
Since Harriet’s time, science has proved there is no difference in blood as a marker of “race.” As a biological category, racial difference has been exposed as a sham. Even skin color is not a reliable indicator of one’s origins. As one study calculated, almost a third of white Americans possess up to 20 percent African genetic inheritance, yet look white, while 5.5 percent of black Americans have no detectable African genetic ancestry. Race has a political and social meaning, but not a biological one.
This is why the story of Harriet Hemings is so important. In her birth into slavery and its long history of oppression, she was black; but anyone who saw her assumed she was white. Between when she was freed in 1822 and the ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865, she was neither free nor enslaved — yet she lived as a free person.
She does not comfortably fit any of the terms that have had such inordinate power to demarcate life in America. Her disappearance from the historical record is precisely the point. When we can so easily lose the daughter of a president and his slave, it forces us to acknowledge that our racial categories are utterly fallacious and built on a science that has been thoroughly discredited.
Yet as political, economic and social categories, racial difference and its consequences remain profoundly real. White privilege has been much on display in our own day, as armed white men proclaiming white supremacy marched unmolested in the streets, while unarmed black men are shot down by police who are rarely held to account. Politicians run successful campaigns on platforms of racial hatred.
This is why, by one estimate, between 35,000 and 50,000 black Americans continue to cross the color line each year.
As I poured through hundreds of family genealogies, searching for more details about the life of Harriet Hemings, I saw that all families have invented stories: details that have been embellished over time, or perhaps altered by accidental errors. Descendants of immigrants Anglicized their names; information in census records is inconsistent from one decade to another; genealogies are altered because of confusion with recurring favorite names over multiple generations.
Those families who pass as white most definitely have such invented stories. It is what they had to do to authenticate a white lineage, to be recognized as fully human and fully American, with all the rights and privileges thereto — rights and privileges not even a lineage as honored as Jefferson’s can match.
Nations, as well as families, invent stories about themselves. In both cases, we will run into characters we would rather not admit as being one of us, and stories we would rather not tell about ourselves. That the president’s daughter had to choose between her family and living a life with the dignity only whiteness can confer is one of those stories. But without them, we will never truly know where we’ve come from; and without them, we will never be able to chart out a path for a better family and national life.
FRIDAY ESSAY — FROM MONTICELLO TO TRUMP, MILLER, SESSIONS, AND THE GOP WHITE NATIONALISTS
BY PAUL WICKHAM SCHMIDT
Cathy and I recently visited Monticello. Unlike my first visit, decades ago, I found that the issue of slavery subsumed everything else. And, TJ as a person and a human being certainly got infinitely smaller during our time there.
How could someone like Jefferson, who understood human rights, actually “own” his common-law wife Sally Hemings and his own children as “property” — to be meticulously accounted for and “valued” (only in cash, not humanity) along with barrels of beer, cases of wine, hogsheads of tobacco, kegs of nails, books, and furniture?
What kind of “father” wouldn’t publicly acknowledge and show affection to his own children when they were living within a stone’s throw? How could a man who had a long-standing domestic relationship with a woman and fathered her children continue with the knowingly false narrative that African-American slaves were somehow “less than human” and therefore not entitled to freedom, dignity, education, fair compensation for their labor, or any of the other basic rights that Jefferson and his White upper class contemporaries took for granted?
Guys who got worked up about paying too much tax giving a “free pass” to their own exploitation of hundreds of thousands of enslaved individuals? (Remind you of any of today’s politicos of any contemporary party?)
And, no, Jefferson and the other slave-owning founding fathers don’t get a “free pass” as “products of their times.” That’s the type of “DAR sanitized non-history” we were fed in elementary and high school.
They were, after all, contemporaries of William Wilberforce who was speaking, writing, and fighting the (ultimately successful) battle to end slavery in England. We can also tell from the writings of Jefferson, Washington, Madison, and Monroe that they realized full well that enslavement of African-Americans was wrong. But, they didn’t want to endanger their livelihood (apparently none of them felt confident enough in his abilities to earn an “honest living”) or their “social standing” in a racist society.
Truth is that guys who had the courage to risk their lives on a “long shot” that they could win their political freedom from England, lacked the moral courage to stop doing what they knew was wrong. Yes, they founded our great country! And, we should all be grateful for that. But, we shouldn’t forget that they also were deeply flawed individuals, as we all are. It’s critical for our own well-being that we recognize, not celebrate, those flaws.
Those flaws also caused untold human suffering. Largely untold, because enslaved African-Americans were denied basic education, outside social contact, and certainly possessed no “First Amendment” rights. There were few first-hand written accounts of the horrors of slavery. Of course, there were no national news syndicates or “muckraking journalists” to expose the truth of what really was going on “down on the plantations.”
One of the things our guide at Monticello described was that “passing for White” wasn’t necessarily the “great boon” that “us White guys” might think it was. It meant leaving your family, friends, and ancestry behind and creating a new “fake” ancestry to appease White society.
For example, if Jefferson’s “White” daughter had a “not so White” husband and children at Monticello, they could never have accompanied her into the “White World.” Indeed, even if such family members were eventually “freed,” acknowledging them as kin would bring down the whole carefully constructed “Whitehouse of cards.”
For that reason, some light-skinned slaves who could have escaped and passed into White society chose instead to remain enslaved with their “dark-skinned” families and relatives.
The “Father of American Independence” only freed three slaves during his lifetime (none of them apparently family members). And he only freed five slaves upon his death.
The rest were sold, some “down the river,” breaking up families, to pay the substantial indebtedness that Jefferson’s irresponsible lifestyle had run up during his lifetime. Even in death, his enslaved workers paid a high price for his disingenuous life.
So, the next time our President or one of his White Nationalist followers plays the “race card,” (and that includes of course Latinos and other ethnic and religious minorities, not just African-Americans or African immigrants) think carefully about the ugly reality of race in American history, not the “sugar-coated version.”
While you’re at it, you should wonder how in the 18th year of the 21st Century we have elected a man and a party who know and acknowledge so little about our tarnished past and who strive so eagerly to send us backwards in that direction.
I focus specifically on how TPS recipients can potentially adjust their status within the United States through either a family-based I-130 petition or an I-140 employment-based petition for permanent residency. A September 2017 practice advisory from the American Immigration Council points to two decisions from the Ninth and Sixth Circuit, Ramirez v. Brown, 852 F.3d 954 (9th Cir. 2017) and Flores v. USCIS, 718 F.3d 548 (6th Cir. 2013), holding that TPS constitutes an admission for purpose of establishing eligibility for adjustment of status under INA 245(a).”
Go on over to Dan Kowalski’s fabulous LexisNexis Immigration Community at the above link to get the rest.
Given the sad saga of the “Dreamers” — whose legalization should have been a “no brainer” for any group other than Trump and the GOP restrictionists — we can’t count on Congress coming to the Haitian and El Salvadoran TPSers “rescue” before their “final extension” expires. So, it’s critical for lawyers to help as many as possible of these great, hard-working folks achieve legal status under existing law before the window closes!
Sadly, one of the key cases cited by Cyrus in his full article, the BIA’s very helpful precedent decision in Matter of Arrabelly and Yerrabelly, 25 I&N Dec. 771 (BIA 2012) is rumored to be on AG Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions’s restrictionist “chopping block.” So, there’s no time to lose!
DHS makes the rounds on immigration, but senators frustrated with administration
By: Tal Kopan, CNN
The Homeland Security secretary made the rounds Tuesday on Capitol Hill as she continues to press the agency’s priorities in immigration talks — but she’s facing skepticism from senators about the administration’s reliability on the issue.
The conversations on the Hill come as the Department of Homeland Security is working on a new list of items it wants to see in an immigration deal, according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions in Congress and the administration.
Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who was one of a handful of red-state Democrats to meet with Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Tuesday, said she had told Nielsen plainly that without a promise from President Donald Trump, it was impossible to negotiate on immigration with her.
Senate-House divide on immigration in spotlight after shutdown fight
“There’s things she wanted to talk about in terms of the priorities of the department in border security as we work on a bill, and I said, ‘Listen: Here’s the thing. I can’t commit to anything until you tell me you have the support of the President,'” McCaskill said. “Because, you know, I think somebody’s made the analogy of Lucy and the football. We’ve got to know if we’re going to compromise, we’ve got to know that compromise will in fact have the support of the President.”
McCaskill told reporters that Nielsen didn’t commit that she spoke for the President but didn’t say she wasn’t able to, either.
“She didn’t say she couldn’t,” McCaskill said. “She said, ‘I understand what you’re saying.’ ”
In addition to McCaskill, Nielsen met Tuesday with Sens. Jon Tester, D-Montana, Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, according to an official.
DHS is working off a document that was given to some negotiators in December and was passed out in the room when two dozen lawmakers met with Trump on the issue in a partially televised meeting earlier this month, according to two senior administration officials. However, after the cameras left that meeting, the President told lawmakers he hadn’t signed off on the document and instructed them to disregard it, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, told reporters.
McCaskill wasn’t alone in her frustration with the President’s equivocation. Asked Tuesday about the White House press secretary publicly trashing a bipartisan proposal he had put together, Graham hit back.
“One thing I would say to the White House: You better start telling us what you’re for rather than what you’re against,” the South Carolina senator said. “To my friends at the White House, you’ve been all over the board, you haven’t been a reliable partner and the Senate’s going to move.”
DHS working on new guidance
Based on multiple conversations with members of Congress and their feedback and questions on various pieces of the proposals, one administration official said, the hope with the new written guidance is to clarify further what DHS thinks is necessary in a deal and why. The document is focused on the four areas that the President laid out publicly in that meeting: a solution on the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, border security, curtailing family-based migration and ending the diversity visa lottery.
Within the border security category, Nielsen has spoken publicly about a desire for more than just infrastructure and resources at the border — and that the agency is pursuing legal overhauls to immigration enforcement that would give it greater power to remove undocumented immigrants from the country. Increasing enforcement authority has been a tough sell among Democrats.
DHS is also looking to add more depth on what the administration wants to replace DACA, which protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children but which the administration is ending. The official said that would be the “next big thing” for the administration to work through.
The official also noted DHS was “the only people who’ve put pen to paper so far” and was happy to clarify further but wasn’t interested in “negotiating against ourselves.”
And the official acknowledged lawmakers’ desire for greater clarity, especially from the President.
“We understand that some of these members are going to have to get out there, and we want to give them a bill that they can support and they’re not going to get their legs cut out from under them,” the official said. “We understand that. We’re working to get there.”
McCaskill argued, though, that Trump has put Nielsen in a tough spot.
“It puts her in a very difficult position to lobby for something when she can’t tell me the President supports what she’s lobbying for,” McCaskill said, adding that Nielsen told her the secretary “clearly supported the DACA protections,” but the senator reiterated her concern about where the President stood.
“Then she listed things she wanted to see in the bill,” McCaskill said, “and I said, ‘Some of those things I think I could work with you on. But not until I know the President will stand strong for this and make sure he lobbies the House of Representatives to pass whatever it is we end up with on a bipartisan basis in the Senate.'”
No real surprise here. Being a sycophant might help you get the job, but it’s not a key to long term success. That’s what happens when folks “sell out” to Trump. In fact, its a pretty good example of what’s happening to the entire GOP.
He’s speeding up their hearings, and if that leads to expelling exemplary immigrants on whose paperwork the government is sitting—well, that’s tough.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department
This could be Jeff Sessions’s year.
Not that he wasn’t busy in 2017, a year marked by his rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), attacking sanctuary cities, reinstating debtors’ prisons, and cracking down on recreational marijuana. Indeed, over these last few months Sessions appears to have been working with the single-minded focus of a man who reportedly came within inches of losing his job in July after falling into President Trump’s bad graces for recusing himself from the Mueller probe.
But 2018 will provide him his best chance yet at Trumpian redemption.
Sessions has long railed against the United States’ “broken” asylum system and the massive backlog of immigration court cases, which has forced immigrants to suffer unprecedented wait times and has put a significant strain on court resources. But the attorney general’s appetite for reform has now grown beyond pushing for more judges and a bigger budget, both largely bipartisan solutions. The past few months have seen Sessions begin to attempt to assert his influence over the work of immigration courts (which, unlike other federal courts, are part of the Executive Branch) and on diminishing the legal protections commonly used by hundreds of thousands of immigrants—developments that have alarmed immigration judges, attorneys, and immigrant advocacy groups alike.
Earlier this month, Sessions announced that he would be reviewing a decades-old practice used by immigration judges and the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals to shelve cases without making a final ruling. Described by judges as a procedural tool for prioritizing cases and organizing their case dockets, the practice—“administrative closure”—also provides immigrants a temporary reprieve from deportation while their cases remain in removal proceedings. Critics argue that administrative closure, which became far more frequent in the later years of the Obama administration, creates a quasi-legal status for immigrants who might otherwise be deported.
There are currently around 350,000 administratively closed cases, according to according to the American Bar Association’s ABA Journal.
Should Sessions decide to eliminate administrative closures—a decision many observers describe as imminent—those cases could be thrown into flux. The move would be in line with previous statements from various figures in the Trump administration and executive orders signed by the president himself—namely, that no immigrant is safe from deportation; no population is off the table.
Beyond creating chaos for hundreds of thousands of immigrants, the premature recalendaring of cases could also lead to erroneous deportations. For instance, in the case of unaccompanied minors applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, a humanitarian protection granted by Citizenship and Immigration Services, an untimely return to court could be the difference between remaining or being ordered to leave the country. Even if a minor has already been approved by a state judge to apply for a green card, there is currently a two-year visa backlog for special visa applicants from Ecuador, Guatemala, and Honduras and more than a one-year backlog for those from from Mexico. Administrative closures allow these children to avoid deportation while they wait in line for a visa to become available.
But if judges can no longer close a case, they will either have to grant a string of continuances, a time-consuming act that requires all parties (the judge, defendant, and government attorney) to show up to court repeatedly, or simply issue an order of removal—even if the immigrant has a winning application sitting on a desk in Citizenship and Immigration Services. Under the Trump administration, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has been actively filing to recalendar cases of non-criminals that had been administratively closed for months, including those of children whose applications had already been approved. Now Sessions, who as a senator zealously opposed immigration reforms that would benefit undocumented immigrants, could recalendar them all.
Unshelving hundreds of thousands of cases would also further bog down an already towering backlog of approximately 650,000 immigration court cases, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse—a policy result that at first seems antithetical to Sessions’s rhetoric about cutting the backlog and raising efficiency. That is unless, as some suggest, the backlog and efficiency were never really his primary concerns to begin with.
“When [Sessions] says he wants to decrease the court backlog and hire more immigration judges, what he really means is he wants more deportation orders, whatever the cost,” says Heidi Altman, director of policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center.
Removing a judge’s ability to close a case would be the second in a one-two punch aimed at knocking down avenues of relief for cases that remain in the system for long periods of time.
Sessions’s decision to review administrative closure surprised few who had been following his rhetoric over the past few weeks. In a December memo detailing plans to slash the backlog, the attorney general said that he anticipated “clarifying certain legal matters in the near future that will remove recurring impediments to judicial economy and the timely administration of justice.” The Justice Department had already largely done away with allowing prosecutors to join in motions to administratively close a case that didn’t fall within its enforcement priorities. Removing a judge’s ability to close a case would be the second in a one-two punch aimed at knocking down avenues of relief for cases that remain in the system for long periods of time.
And it’s unlikely that Sessions will stop there. As attorney general, he is free to review legal precedents for lower immigration courts. In changing precedential rulings, he could do away with a multitude of other legal lifelines essential to immigrants and their attorneys.
. . . .
“Administrative closure makes a good starting point for Sessions, because the courts likely won’t be able stop it,” says Paul Schmidt, a former immigration judge and former head of the Board of Immigration Appeals. “Administrative closure was a tool created by the Justice Department and therefore it can be dismantled by the Justice Department.”
“After all, the bad thing about the immigration courts is that they belong to the attorney general,” Schmidt adds.
Unlike other federal judges, immigration judges are technically considered Justice Department employees. This unique status as a judicial wing of the executive branch has left them open to threats of politicization. In October, it was revealed that the White House was planning on adding metrics on the duration and quantity of cases adjudicated by immigration judges to their performance reviews, effectively creating decision quotas. A spokeswoman for the National Association of Immigration Judges described the proposal as a worrying encroachment on judicial independence. “Immigration judge morale is at an all time low,” says Dana Marks, former president of the association and a judge for more than 30 years. Other federal judges are not subject to any such performance evaluations.
It’s no coincidence that a review of administrative closure was announced just a few months after it was discovered that the Justice Department was considering imposing quotas on judges. Streamlining deportations has proven an elusive goal, even for Sessions: Deportations in 2017 were down from the previous year, according to DHS numbers. Meanwhile, arrests surged—up 42 percent from the same period in 2016. Flooding already overwhelmed immigration courts with even more cases would certainly cause chaos in the short-term, but wouldn’t necessarily lead to deportations by itself. If an end to administrative closures is paired with decision quotas on immigration judges, however, a surge in deportations seems inevitable.”
Read Manuel’s complete article at the above link.
As I’ve noted before, Due Process clearly is “on the run” at the U.S. Immigration Courts. It will be up to the “New Due Process Army” and other advocates to take a stand against Sessions’s plans to erode Constitutional Due Process and legal protections for immigrants of all types. And don’t think that some U.S. citizens, particularly Blacks, Latinos, and Gays, aren’t also “in his sights for denial of rights.” An affront to the rights of the most vulnerable in America should be taken seriously for what it is — an attack on the rights of all of us as Americans! Stand up for Due Process before it’s too late!
“Donald Trump doesn’t need to actually call me “nigger.”
The Central Park Five didn’t need to read it in that ad he published in 1989 calling for their deaths, nor did the tenants in his housing developments who sued him for discrimination in the ’70s. The Mexicans whom Trump branded as “rapists” surely got the gist, as did the Muslims whom he banned from traveling here. It went unsaid when he shared willfully ignorant memes about black crime and complimented the neo-Nazis who terrorized Charlottesville. We hear him loud and clear. It doesn’t matter so much whether you are called a “nigger” when you are being treated like one.
Case in point, last Thursday. “Why do we want these people from all these shithole countries here?” Trump reportedly asked a group of lawmakers meeting with him in the Oval Office about immigration. He’d just finished denigrating Haiti and African nations. To drive home the racism of it all, he added, “We should have more people from places like Norway.” The following day, Trump denied making the comments — but Sen. Dick Durbin, a Illinois Democrat who was in the meeting, said the reports got it right. “He said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly,” Durbin said.
A year into Trump’s presidency, we still handle these incidents horribly. Political junkies get hemmed up about which Republican issued the inevitably soft rebuke. Earnest defenders try to prove that these poor, black countries are really great places, as if that should matter. Engage on that level if you wish, but other than perhaps “Who hurt you, Mr. President?” it is past time to ask more urgent questions.
Can a person perform these kinds of racist acts and still function as president of the United States in today’s day and age? How much does trying to bring about a white ethno-state get in the way of doing the actual job? Can you be the birther-in-chief and still be effective as the commander-in-chief? No.
Governing as an open racist certainly isn’t as easy for Trump as it may have been for his hero, Andrew Jackson. Two things stand in his way: the pragmatic functions of the job, and the reality of the country he governs.
These are questions about effectiveness, not sentiment. It’s important that we have a president who functions well, no matter the party, and being a leader who acts like Trump does has proven consequences. He gets in his own way: Courts have blocked his orders, including his efforts to cancel DACA and enact his beloved Muslim ban, thanks to his biased statements. Eleven inmates at Guantanamo are making a similar argument now, since Trump has said he never wants anyone to be released. But even in a systemically racist nation, does racist behavior make the job harder?
Pairing this new barb with the president’s earlier remark about Nigerian visa recipients never wanting to “go back to their huts,” Trump has casually tossed aside any hope of meaningful dialogue and cooperation with industrialized and developing African countries alike — likely ceding that diplomatic space to China and other nations who take Africa seriously. He’s slandered Haitians again needlessly, after previously describing them as “all having AIDS.” If we’ve learned anything about his modus operandi, he will randomly target still other countries with his ire. Moreover, his racist barbs shed a new light on his government’s negligence in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. That’s how he treats black and brown folks who are American citizens. You can see why he wouldn’t think twice about slurring those he considers foreign invaders.
Being a functional modern American president requires effectively managing the nation’s relations with other countries; it also requires a deep investment in the wellbeing of one’s own citizens. On that note, consider what James Baldwin said in aWGBH interview in the spring of 1963. Answering a question about whether he was optimistic or pessimistic about the future of America, the prophetic authorsaid “the future of the Negro in this country is precisely as bright or as dark as the future of the country.” The two fortunes are insoluble, he said. This is the standard by which I judge President Trump and his forebears, above all others. People of color in this country, no matter their national origin, are as much a part of America as he is. Any objective analysis would conclude that improving life for us black folks is commensurate with and key to an improving economy. Is this president governing to truly try to lift all boats in the rising tide?
I never expected him to ever try to meet that standard, let alone try. Even worse, Trump’s staff remains actively complicit. Why else would they tell CNN’s Kaitlan Collins that they predict the president’s “shithole” slur would resonate well with the same base that loved it when he cursed out kneeling NFL players protesting racial injustice?
That rubbish may please his adoring audience, but it is anathema to what the presidency has represented and how it has functioned. If Baldwin is right, if America goes as well as black people go, then how do moments like “shithole” help him govern? The DACA mess is a good example — a bipartisan deal is necessary to keep the government running, and few congressional representatives want to be seen negotiating with known racists. And even on other issues that seem less partisan ― take infrastructure, for example ― Democrats and many Republicans are trying to avoid Trump. Even if the president himself believes that overt racism plays well politically, the work Americans need to get done doesn’t get done.
Trump’s casual racism may have brought him more than electoral success 100 or even 50 years ago, but the country he and his voters want to make “great” again has undergone some irreversible changes since then. Trump is using Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, as a goon squad in his effort to cosmetically whiten the country. Eliminating Temporary Protective Status for Salvadorans, Haitians, and other brown andblack people he considers expendable, the very policy change that prompted his “shithole” remark, is another tool.
The recent comment may be the clearest example of Trump manifesting his personal biases in policy. But even if he destroys thousands of families and kills businesses in the process, he can’t kill or deport them all, as he promised. Not to give a racist advice, but going the white nationalist route with a dwindling base is an eventual loser. That he looks at the America of today and thinks that outright white nationalism could do more than win him an election — with the help of vote suppressors here and abroad — is curious, to say the least. It’s a testimony to how little Trump understands about the job he has and the country he runs.
If Trump cared one half a damn about being an effective leader for anyone who isn’t rich, white and male, he’d listen. But since white Americans are the only ones who seem to have his ear, I’ll share one other important thing Baldwin offered in that same 1963 interview in the hopes that change can come from below. The author laid out, in his way, the path for white Americans to understand their common journey with Americans of color. “What white people have to do,” Baldwin said, “is to try to find out in their own hearts why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place.” He added, “If I’m not a nigger” — just to be clear, he was not, nor am I — “and you, the white people, invented him, then you’ve got to find out why. And the future of the country depends on … whether or not it’s able to ask that question.”
Donald Trump so badly needs a “nigger.” The people need a real president. We are both out of luck.
Jamil Smith is a journalist and radio host. He covered the 2016 election for MTV News and, in addition to his HuffPost column, is a contributing opinion writer for the Los Angeles Times.”
Trump, Sessions, and the GOP white Nationalists are definitely moving the country in the wrong direction. The real question, posed by many commentators, is how long, if ever, it will take to repair the damage they are doing to American democracy and our standing in the world. Interestingly, most world leaders see Trump for exactly what he is — an out of his depth clown who is working hard to make American irrelevant in the world — politically first, and eventually, perhaps economically as well.
Famous Chef Jose Andres writes in the Washington Post:
“Washington is the kind of city where you can learn a lot by listening to the conversations over dinner. At my restaurants, I have been lucky to join the conversation with presidents and first ladies, senators and ambassadors.
But right now, you can hear the most important conversations if you walk past the tables out front and into my kitchens. There — amid the din of knives chopping, plates clattering and chefs calling out a staccato stream of food orders — you’ll hear from people who look and sound a lot like America. English predominates, but you’ll also catch Haitian Creole, French and Spanish. Natural-born citizens and naturalized citizens like me work alongside those on temporary visas. I believe that all these voices make us stronger, more creative and courageous, less complacent and fearful.
Manuel is one of those people in the kitchen who prepare food for the powerful. (I am using only his first name here, to protect him from the threats many immigrants are now facing.) He was born in El Salvador, in a small town called Santa Rosa de Lima. He came to the United States in 1997 and, after a massive earthquake in his native country, was granted temporary protected status (TPS) in 2001. When immigration officials asked how he came into the United States, he didn’t lie about his walk across the border. “Matamoros,” he said.
It was also in 2001 that Manuel started as a cook at my Spanish restaurant, Jaleo. I have come to know him as someone who works hard, pays his taxes and is raising his children — a son with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and two American-born children — to respect the country that gave him so much. But now, his family’s future is in doubt. “I just want to work to be able to send my two American-born children to university; I want them to have a better life than mine,” he told me.
The Trump administration’s decision to revoke protective status for Salvadorans (affecting 200,000 immigrants living in the United States, including 32,000 in the Washington area), Haitians (59,000 immigrants) and possibly Hondurans (86,000 immigrants) has thrown families across the country into chaos. This policy shift also has the potential to devastate my industry and hurt the overall economy.
Congress created TPS in 1990 to provide legal status to foreigners who could not safely return home because of war, natural disasters or other extreme conditions. Republican and Democratic administrations alike have extended those protections, six to 18 months at a time, recognizing that conditions remain dangerous. El Salvador, for example, is in such a state of turmoil that the State Department advisesU.S. citizens to reconsider traveling there. An influx of tens of thousands of returning citizens would only make things worse.
In the meantime, people like Manuel have built lives in the United States, buying homes (nearly a third have mortgages) and becoming active in their communities. Like Manuel, many TPS recipients are married and have children who are U.S. citizens — immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras are raising about 273,200 U.S.-born children, according to the Center for American Progress.
Understandably, few parents would want to uproot their spouses and children to travel to a country with little opportunity and widespread violence. So, instead, these individuals face an agonizing choice: to leave without their families, or to remain in the United States without the legal means to work and in constant fear of deportation. No doubt, many will disappear from their jobs, obtain fake documents and become ghosts in a country where they used to belong.
As Americans, we also have much to lose if hundreds of thousands of industrious migrants are expelled. The Center for American Progress estimates that removing TPS workers from the economy would generate a $164 billion hole in gross domestic product over the next decade.
Because restaurants are among the main employers of these immigrants (along with construction companies, landscape businesses and child-care services), the restaurant industry stands to be particularly hard hit. Immigrants, including Salvadorans and other Central Americans, make up more than half of the staff at my restaurants, and we simply could not run our businesses without them. With national unemployment at 4 percent, there aren’t enough U.S.-born workers to take their places — or cover the employment needs of a growing economy.
Let me be frank: The administration is throwing families and communities into crisis for no good reason. This is not what people of faith do. It’s not what pragmatic people do. It’s not what America was built on.
I came to the United States from Spain in 1991 with an E-2 visa and big ambitions. I wanted to introduce America to the food of my heritage while at the same time reimagining it. I wanted to become a chef and start my own restaurant.
Despite the many hardships of being a new immigrant, life was relatively easy for me — in no small part because of my fair skin and blue eyes. America isn’t the only place where this happens; it is a human sickness. We have a hard time welcoming those who are different from us.
With the help of many friends and mentors, I worked hard to realize my ambitions. And I made sure to bring as many people as I could along with me. That is the American Dream: to live your own dream while helping others achieve theirs.
As an employer and friend of Salvadorans, Haitians and incredible people of many other nationalities, I hope Congress can work with the administration to change course on immigration policy.
TPS recipients, who have contributed for so long to the U.S. economy and our communities, should be able to apply for green cards and start on the path to citizenship. And DACA recipients, like Manuel’s son, should be able to apply for permanent status so they can truly belong to the country they have long thought of as their own.
Let’s also create a revolving-door visa, allowing people from Mexico, El Salvador and other countries to work for a few months and then return home, bringing their earnings back with them. Revolving-door visas would help the U.S. economy continue to grow and help grow the economies of our allies, too.
President Trump knows full well the value of temporary visas. From his family’s winery in Virginia to his construction projects in New York, he has hired many foreign workers to build his businesses.
President Trump, if you are reading this: Back in 2016 you told me in a phone conversation that you wanted to hear more about my views on immigration. We haven’t spoken in a while. So let me say this here: Walls will not make America safer or greater. But the money our immigrants send back home most certainly does, because economic stability contributes to political stability and international security. Allowing immigrants to work without fear of deportation or exploitation would help, too, because it would sustain American businesses and support American families. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the American way to transform what might seem a problem into an opportunity.”
Jose Andres doesn’t just talk and write; he acts! During the recent Puerto Rico disaster, while the Trump Administration was dithering and pointing fingers, Andres was “on the ground” serving free meals to those who needed them. Seems like we have the “wrong kind of businessman” in the White House! One who is more concerned about himself than he is about others and the 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!
“Lots of the news from sub-Saharan Africa is about war, famine, poverty or political upheaval. So it’s understandable if many Americans think most Africans who immigrate to the United States are poorly educated and desperate.
That’s the impression that President Trump left with his comments to members of Congress opposing admission of immigrants from “shithole countries” in Africa and elsewhere.
But research tells another story.
While many are refugees, large numbers are beneficiaries of the “diversity visa program” aimed at boosting immigration from underrepresented nations. And on average, African immigrants are better educated that people born in the U.S. or the immigrant population as a whole.
“It’s a population that’s very diverse in its educational, economic and English proficiency profile,” said Jeanne Batalova, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute think tank in Washington and coauthor of a report last year on sub-Saharan African immigrants in the U.S. “People came for a variety of reasons and at various times.”
Overall, their numbers are small compared with other immigrant groups but have risen significantly in recent years. The U.S. immigrant population from sub-Saharan Africa (49 countries with a total population of more than 1.1 billion) grew from 723,000 to more than 1.7 million between 2010 and 2015, according to a new report by New American Economy, a Washington-based research and advocacy group. Still, they make up just half a percent of the U.S. population.
Drawing from U.S. surveys and Census Bureau data, the report found that the majority come from five countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa.
The Pew Research Center reported that African immigrants are most likely to settle in the South or Northeast, and that the largest numbers — at least 100,000 — are found in Texas, New York, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Virginia. Many African refugees have also relocated to or have been resettled in states such as Minnesota and South Dakota.
The Refugee Act of 1980 made it easier for people fleeing war zones to resettle in the U.S., and today there are tens of thousand of refugees from Somalia, Sudan and Congo. About 22% of African immigrants are refugees, according to Andrew Lim, associate director of research at New American Economy.
At the same time, the diversity visa program — also known as the visa lottery — has opened the door to immigrants from more peaceful places. Of the sub-Saharan immigrants who have become legal permanent residents, 17% came through the program, compared with 5% of the total U.S. immigrant population, according to Batalova.
Applicants to the program must have completed the equivalent of a U.S. high school education or have at least two years of recent experience in any number of occupations, including accountant, computer support specialist, orthodontist and dancer.
As a result, the influx includes many immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa who are highly skilled professionals.
Batalova’s research found that of the 1.4 million who are 25 and older, 41% have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 30% of all immigrants and 32% of the U.S.-born population. Of the 19,000 U.S. immigrants from Norway — a country Trump reportedly told lawmakers is a good source of immigrants — 38% have college educations.
The New American Economy study found that 1 in 3 of these undergraduate degrees were focused on science, technology, engineering and math — “training heavily in demand by today’s employers.”
That report also found that African immigrants were significantly more likely to have graduate degrees. A total of 16% had a master’s degree, medical degree, law degree or a doctorate, compared with 11% of the U.S.-born population, Lim said.
African immigrants were more than twice as likely than the U.S. population overall to work in healthcare, Lim said. There are more than 32,500 nursing, psychiatric or home health aides, more than 46,000 registered nurses and more than 15,700 doctors and surgeons.
“Overwhelmingly the evidence shows that [African immigrants] make a significant, positive economic contribution to the U.S. economy,” both at a national level and in districts where they are concentrated, Lim said. “They contribute more than $10.1 billion in federal taxes, $4.7 billion in state and local taxes, and most importantly, they have significant economic clout to the point of $40.3 billion in spending power.”
That $40.3 billion pays for housing, transportation, consumer goods and education for their children — “things that actually stimulate the economy around them,” Lim said.
The biggest beneficiary is Texas, where their spending power is $4.7 billion, followed by California, Maryland, New York and Georgia.
“It’s a population that leverages its human resources and contributes to the U.S. economy by revitalizing communities, starting businesses, but also by working in a variety of professional fields,” Batalova said.
Even those with less education who arrive as refugees often fill certain lower-skill niches in healthcare, such as home health aides, researchers said.
“In the communities they were resettled in, they have made significant contributions,” Lim said.
In many towns and cities in the Great Lakes area of the Midwest, for example, they have started new businesses, infused local labor forces with younger workers, and expanded local tax bases, Lim said.
A report last year by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that immigrants in general had little to no negative effect on overall wages or employment levels for U.S.-born workers, and higher-skilled immigrants in fields such as technology and science had a positive influence on the U.S. labor force.
Still, supporters of stricter immigration policy back the Trump administration’s calls to end the visa lottery as well as programs that allow certain immigrants to sponsor family members to settle in the U.S. They believe that a merit system that selects immigrants based on individual skills should replace the current system.”
Truth, facts, and helping American workers have never been part of the GOP restrictionist agenda. The xenophobia is no longer limited to so-called undocumented immigrants; it’s clear that guys like Purdue, Cotton, and Goodlatte really don’t like immigrants of any type, and particularly those of color or from “developing nations.” It’s really all about race with religion and culture thrown in — slowing down the “browning and blackening” of America, attacking the Hispanic American and African-American cultures, and trying to block or limit the immigration of non-Christians (including, of course, Muslims).
Trump’s racist remarks this week (which Perdue, Cotton, and Nielsen are rather disingenuously trying to claim never happened) and the GOP’s basic defense of the idea of drawing immigrants from White European countries rather than Haiti, Africa, or Central America has basically “blown the cover” off of so-called “merit based” immigration being pushed by some in the GOP. Trump was just articulating the hateful White Nationalist immigration agenda that he ran on and many (not all) in the GOP have now adopted under the code word “merit based.” That doesn’t bode well for bipartisan immigration reform of any type or, for that matter, for the future of a diverse “nation of immigrants.”
“Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Friday that he heard President Donald Trump make “hate-filled, vile and racist” comments to lawmakers that the president is now denying.
Durbin, who was at the White House meeting on Thursday to discuss immigration, is the first to go on the record confirming reports that Trump referred to African nations as “shithole countries,” and that the U.S. should “take … out” Haitians currently living in the U.S. Trump reportedly also commented that the U.S. should accept more immigrants from Norway.
Trump on Friday claimed on Twitter that he didn’t use the language attributed to him about Haitians, but neither he nor the White House has directly denied his comments on African countries.
Durbin, speaking to reporters on Friday, contradicted Trump’s claim.
“I cannot believe that in the history of the White House, in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday,” Durbin said. “You’ve seen the comments in the press. I’ve not read one of them that’s inaccurate.”
Durbin added: “He said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly.”
Trump made the comments during an immigration meeting with Durbin and six Republican lawmakers: Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.); House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Reps. Bob Goodlatte, (R-Va.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), according to MSNBC.
Durbin and Graham pitched Trump on the outlines of a deal they and others in a six-senator bipartisan group made to resolve the legal status of Dreamers, the young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
Nearly 700,000 Dreamers are at risk of losing deportation relief and work permits ― or already have ― because Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
Democrats want protections for Dreamers included in a measure on government spending, which must pass by a Jan. 19 deadline to avoid a government shutdown.
Trump has said he wants to help Dreamers, but only if he gets something in return: his border wall and other security measures, an end to the diversity visa lottery, and limits on family-based visas, which the president derisively refers to as “chain migration.”
Trump has falsely claimed that other countries use the diversity visa lottery to send their “worst people” to the U.S. A large proportion of diversity visa lottery recipients come from African nations.
Durbin, Graham and their allies drafted a plan that would eliminate the diversity visa lottery as Trump demanded, but would allow some immigrants currently in the U.S. under temporary protected status, which lets people stay in the country after natural disasters or other crises in their home nations. The Trump administration is ending those protections for people from Haiti, El Salvador and Nicaragua, and suggested it will do the same for Hondurans.
Durbin said that’s when he told Trump about the numbers of people who hold temporary protected status from various countries, including Haiti.
“He said, ’Haitians, do we need more Haitians?’” Durbin said.
Trump then made “vile and vulgar comments” about African nations, Durbin said, calling them “shitholes.”
The slur was “the exact word used by the president ― not just once, but repeatedly,” said Durbin.
Graham spoke up, confronting Trump’s harsh language, which Durbin said “took extraordinary political courage.” Graham hasn’t publicly commented on the meeting.
Durbin also recounted a “heartbreaking moment” when Trump and others “scoffed” at his comments about the importance of family-based immigration. The president and his allies have said the U.S. should move to a “merit-based” system rather than admitting people based on family ties, referring to anyone but spouses and minor children as “extended family.”
“Chain migration” as a term is offensive, Durbin said he told the president.
“I said to the president, do you realize how painful that term is to so many people? African-Americans believe that they migrated to America in chains, and when you speak about ‘chain migration,’ it hurts them personally,” Durbin said. “He said, ‘Oh, that’s a good line.’”
In a statement after Trump’s comments were first reported, the White House did not deny them.
But Trump on Friday insisted the reports were inaccurate.
“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used,” he tweeted. “What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!”
Trump addressed Haiti, but said nothing about his reported comments on Africa.
“Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country,” Trump tweeted. “Never said ‘take them out.’ Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!”
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) was not among the lawmakers in the White House meeting, but tweeted Friday that he heard about Trump’s comments “directly following the meeting by those in attendance.”
The remarks “were not ‘tough,’ they were abhorrent and repulsive,” Flake tweeted.”
Trump’s total meltdown might well kill any budget deal for the time being, almost guaranteeing a USG shutdown.
At the same time, it “blows the cover” from the White Nationalist, restrictionist agenda that some in the GOP have been pushing under a bogus claim of “reshaping the immigration system in the interests of the United States.” No, it is, and always has been about unnecessarily and unwisely restricting and limiting legal immigration while directly attacking people of color, non-Christians, and other minorities. And, the bias and racism isn’t limited to immigrants — it also carries over to the views of many in the GOP about ethic Americans. When the GOP allows itself to be driven by a racially charged hate-based agenda, it makes “compromise” difficult, if not impossible.
The majority of us who believe in a diverse, tolerant, generous, welcoming America and a vibrant social and economic future for our country must over time retake power from the White Nationalist driven minority that now seems to be in charge! Every election, local, state, and national is critical! “Just Say No” to candidates, on every level, who promote, advance, or aid and abet the White Nationalist agenda.