THE ASYLUMIST, JASON DZUBOW ON GONZO’S “WAR ON ASYLUM APPLICANTS & DUE PROCESS” – “His maliciousness is exacerbated by his incompetence.”

http://www.asylumist.com/2017/10/17/the-attorney-generals-jaundiced-and-inaccurate-view-of-asylum/

Jason writes:

“The Attorney General’s Jaundiced–and Inaccurate–View of Asylum

by JASON DZUBOW on OCTOBER 17, 2017

In a speech last week to the Executive Office for Immigration Review (the office that administers the nation’s immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals), Attorney General and living Confederate Civil War monument, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, set out his views on the asylum system, asylum seekers, and immigration attorneys.

Jeff Sessions speaks to an audience at the Executive Office for Immigration Review.

Sad to say, Mr. Sessions described the asylum system in largely negative terms, and said not a word about the benefits that our country derives from offering asylum.

While he views our asylum policy as “generous,” and designed to “protect those who, through no fault of their own, cannot co-exist in their home country no matter where they go because of persecution based on fundamental things like their religion or nationality,” Mr. Sessions feels that our generosity is being “abused” and that “smart attorneys have exploited loopholes in the law, court rulings, and lack of resources to substantially undermine the intent of Congress.”

Mr. Sessions also lambasts “dirty immigration lawyers who are encouraging their otherwise unlawfully present clients to make false claims of asylum providing them with the magic words needed to trigger the credible fear process.”

Indeed, Mr. Sessions believes that our asylum system is “subject to rampant abuse and fraud.” Because the system is “overloaded with fake claims, it cannot deal effectively with just claims.”

First, it’s quite sad that our nation’s chief law enforcement officer would have such a jaundiced view of asylum. The idea that asylum is merely a generous benefit we offer to refugees, and that we receive nothing in return, is simply false. I’ve written about this point before, but it bears repeating. Asylum was created during the Cold War as a tool against the Soviet Union. We offered refuge to people fleeing Communism, and each person who defected to the West served as a testament to our system’s superiority over our adversary.

Now that the Cold War has ended, asylum still serves our strategic interests. It demonstrates our commitment to those who support and work for the values we believe in. It is tangible evidence that America stands with our friends. It gives our allies confidence that we will not let them down when times become tough. It shows that our foundational principles–free speech, religious liberty, equality, rule of law–are not empty words, but are ideals we actually stand behind.

And of course, there are the asylees themselves, who contribute to our country with their energy, enthusiasm, and patriotism, often born of their experience living in places that are not safe, and that are not free.

None of this came up during Mr. Sessions’s talk. Perhaps he does not know how our nation has benefited from the asylum system. Or maybe he doesn’t care. Or–what I suspect–he views asylum seekers as a threat to our security and a challenge to our country’s (Christian and Caucasian) culture.

The shame of it is that Mr. Sessions is demonstrably wrong on several points, and so possibly he reached his conclusions about asylum based on incorrect information.

The most obvious error is his claims that “dirty immigration lawyers… are encouraging their otherwise unlawfully present clients to make false claims of asylum providing them with the magic words needed to trigger the credible fear process.” Aliens who are “unlawfully present” in the U.S. are not subject to the credible fear process. That process is generally reserved for aliens arriving at the border who ask for asylum. Such applicants undergo a credible fear interview, which is an initial evaluation of eligibility for asylum. While this may be a technical point, Mr. Sessions raised the issue in a talk to EOIR, and so his audience presumably understands how the system works. That Mr. Sessions would make such a basic mistake in a speech to people who know better, demonstrates his ignorance of the subject matter (or at least the ignorance of his speech writers), and casts doubt on his over-all understanding of the asylum system.

Mr. Sessions also says that our asylum system is “overloaded with fake claims.” But how does he know this? And what exactly is a fake claim? In recent years, something like 40 to 50% of asylum cases have been granted. Are all those adjudicators being fooled? And what about denied cases? Are they all worthy of denial? There is, of course, anecdotal evidence of fraud—and in his talk, Mr. Sessions cites a few examples of “dirty” attorneys and applicants. But a few anecdotes does not compel a conclusion that the entire system is “subject to rampant abuse and fraud.” I can point to anecdotes as well. I’ve seen cases granted that I suspected were false, but I’ve also seen cases denied that were pretty clearly grant-worthy. While I do think we need to remain vigilant for fraud, I have not seen evidence to support the type of wide-spread fraud referenced by the Attorney General.

Finally, Mr. Sessions opines that “smart attorneys have exploited loopholes in the law, court rulings, and lack of resources to substantially undermine the intent of Congress.” So court rulings undermine the intent of Congress? Any attorney who makes such a statement casts doubt on that lawyer’s competence and devotion to the rule of law, but when the Attorney General says it, we have real cause for concern. Thousands of federal court rulings—including from the U.S. Supreme Court—have interpreted our nation’s immigration laws (and all our other laws too). That is what courts do, and that is how the intent of Congress is interpreted and implemented in real-world situations. Attorneys who rely on court decisions are not “exploit[ing] loopholes in the law,” we are following the law.

These are all pretty basic points, and it strikes me that when it comes to asylum, Mr. Sessions doesn’t get it. He seems not to understand the role of Congress, the courts, and lawyers in the asylum process. And he certainly doesn’t understand the benefits our country receives from the asylum system.

I’ve often said that President Trump’s maliciousness is tempered by his incompetence. With Attorney General Sessions, it is the opposite: His maliciousness is exacerbated by his incompetence. And I fear that asylum seekers–and our country’s devotion to the rule of law–will suffer because of it.”

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Yup, sure got this one pegged right, Jason! “Maliciousness and incompetence” seem to be two of the key requirements for political appointees in the Trump Administration. I’ve pointed out before that Sessions demonstrates little legal knowledge — his memos, which disingenuously claim to be “law not policy,” are in fact almost pure policy largely devoid of legal reasoning.

Gonzo obviously arrived at the DOJ with a briefcase full of homophobic, xenophobic, White Nationalist memos already “pre-drafted” for him by folks like Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, the Heritage Foundation, the Family Research Council and restrictionist immigration groups. In addition to lack of legal knowledge and basic honesty (his explanation today to Senator Franken about how his “Russia lie” during confirmation didn’t pass the “straight face” test), Sessions shows no visible signs of compassion, humanity, understanding of other viewpoints, fairness, or objectivity. He consistently smears immigrants (and by extension the entire Hispanic community), denies their achievements and contributions to America, and, like any bully, picks on the already limited rights of the most vulnerable in our community, gays, children, women, and asylum seekers.

Sessions doesn’t understand asylum because he makes no attempt to understand it.  He merely approaches it from a position of bias, fear, and loathing.

PWS

10-18-17

 

 

THE BIGGEST LOSER: US Judge In MD Also Slams Travel Ban 3.0 (Again)! No Matter What Ultimately Happens, Trump & Our Country Are The Big Losers From His Determination To Be Petty & Discriminatory!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/second-judge-rules-against-latest-travel-ban-saying-trumps-own-words-show-it-was-aimed-at-muslims/2017/10/18/5ecdaa44-b3ed-11e7-9e58-e6288544af98_story.html

Matt Zapotosky reports for the Washington Post:

“A federal judge in Maryland early Wednesday issued a second halt on the latest version of President Trump’s travel ban, asserting that the president’s own comments on the campaign trail and on Twitter convinced him that the directive was akin to an unconstitutional Muslim ban.

U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang issued a somewhat less complete halt on the ban than his counterpart in Hawaii did a day earlier, blocking the administration from enforcing the directive only on those who lacked a “bona fide” relationship with a person or entity in the United States, such as family members or some type of professional or other engagement in the United States.

But in some ways, Chuang’s ruling was more personally cutting to Trump, as he said the president’s own words cast his latest attempt to impose a travel blockade as the “inextricable re-animation of the twice-enjoined Muslim ban.”

Omar Jadwat, who directs of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and represented those suing in Maryland over the ban, said: “Like the two versions before it, President Trump’s latest travel ban is still a Muslim ban at its core. And like the two before it, this one is going down to defeat in the courts.”

The third iteration of Trump’s travel ban had been set to go fully into effect early Wednesday, barring various types of travelers from Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad, Somalia, North Korea and Venezuela. Even before Chuang’s ruling, though, a federal judge in Hawaii stopped it — at least temporarily — for all of the countries except North Korea and Venezuela.

That judge, Derrick K. Watson, blocked the administration from enforcing the measure on anyone from the six countries, not just those with a “bona fide” U.S. tie. But his ruling did not address whether Trump’s intent in imposing the directive was to discriminate against Muslims. He said the president had merely exceeded the authority Congress had given him in immigration law.

The Justice Department already had vowed to appeal Watson’s ruling, which the White House said “undercuts the President’s efforts to keep the American people safe and enforce minimum security standards for entry into the United States.” Both Watson’s temporary restraining order and Chuang’s preliminary injunction are also interim measures, meant to maintain the status quo as the parties continue to argue the case.

The administration had cast the new measure as one that was necessary for national security, implemented only after officials conducted an extensive review of the information they needed to vet those coming to the United States. Those countries that were either unwilling or unable to produce such information even after negotiation, officials have said, were included on the banned list.

“These restrictions are vital to ensuring that foreign nations comply with the minimum security standards required for the integrity of our immigration system and the security of our Nation,” the White House said after Watson’s ruling. “We are therefore confident that the Judiciary will ultimately uphold the President’s lawful and necessary action and swiftly restore its vital protections for the safety of the American people.”

Like Watson’s order, Chuang’s 91-page ruling also found Trump had exceeded his authority under immigration law, but only partially.

The order — which has “no specified end date and no requirement of renewal” — violated a nondiscrimination provision in the law in that it blocked immigrants to the United States based on their nationality, Chuang wrote.

But Chuang said he could not determine, as Watson did, that Trump had violated a different part of federal immigration law requiring him to find entry of certain nonimmigrant travelers would be “detrimental” to U.S. interests before blocking them.

Chuang instead based much of his ruling on his assessment that Trump intended to ban Muslims, and thus his order had run afoul of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. When Trump was a presidential candidate in December 2015, Chuang wrote, he had promised a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” and all of his comments since then seemed to indicate his various travel bans were meant to fulfill that promise.

After his second ban was blocked, Chuang wrote, Trump described the measure as a “watered down version” of his initial measure, adding, “we ought go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.” The president had then revoked and replaced his first travel ban, which had also been held up in court.

In August, with courts still weighing the second version, Chuang noted that Trump “endorsed what appears to be an apocryphal story involving General John J. Pershing and a purported massacre of Muslims with bullets dipped in a pig’s blood, advising people to ‘study what General Pershing . . . did to terrorists when caught.’ ”

In September, as authorities worked on a new directive, Trump wrote on Twitter “the travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific — but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!”

Chuang had pressed challengers at a hearing this week on what the government would have to do to make the new ban legal, and he noted in his ruling that the new directive had changed from the previous iterations. The government, for example, had undertaken a review process before inking the new measure, and had added two non-Muslim majority countries to the banned list.

But Chuang wrote that he was unmoved that government had simply relied on the results of their review, and instead believed they made “certain subjective determinations that resulted in a disproportionate impact on majority-Muslim nations.” He wrote that the government offered “no evidence, even in the form of classified information submitted to the Court, showing an intelligence-based terrorism threat justifying a ban on entire nationalities,” and asserted that even the new measure “generally resembles President Trump’s earlier description of the Muslim ban.”

“The ‘initial’ announcement of the Muslim ban, offered repeatedly and explicitly through President Trump’s own statements, forcefully and persuasively expressed his purpose in unequivocal terms,” Chuang wrote.

The suits in federal court in Maryland had been brought by 23 advocacy groups and seven people who said they would be negatively impacted by the new ban.”

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

Yes, the Trump Administration might ultimately prevail on appeal on this one. But, that won’t change the fact that they are “losers.” And, a country that chooses biased, incompetent, and petty leadership like this is also a “Big Loser.”

PWS

10-18-17

TRUMP BLOCKED AGAIN: US JUDGE IN HAWAII BLOCKS MOST OF TRAVEL BAN 3.0!!

Zoe Tillman reports for BuzzFeed News.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/zoetillman/a-judge-just-blocked-the-trump-administration-from?utm_term=.bxgjqJApzp#.bxgjqJApzp

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Unconstitutional discrimination as well as dumb and unnecessary policy. When will they ever learn?

PWS

10-17-17

NICKOLE MILLER IN THE WASHPOST: The Truth About Vulnerable Asylum Seekers Refutes Sessions’s False Narrative!

Safari – Oct 16, 2017 at 10:17 AM

Inaccurate claims from Mr. Sessions

The Oct. 13 news article “Citing ‘rampant abuse and fraud,’ Sessions urges tighter asylum rules” quoted Attorney General Jeff Sessions as saying that many asylum claims “lacked merit” and are “simply a ruse to enter the country illegally.” As one of the “dirty immigration lawyers” who has represented hundreds of asylum seekers, I find these claims wildly inaccurate and dangerous. When I ask my clients, the majority of them children, why they came to the came to the United States, they invariably tell me the same thing: I had no choice — I was running for my
life. Indeed, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reported that 58 per cent of Northern Triangle and Mexican children displaced in the United States suffered or faced harms that indicated need for international protection. These children are not gaming the system; they are seeking refuge from rampant gender based violence, MS-13 death threats and child abuse.
While I like to think I am a “smart” attorney, even immigrants represented by the smartest attorneys do not stand a chance in places such as Atlanta, where the asylum grant rate is as low as 2 per cent. Yes, reform is needed, but the only reform we should consider is one that provides more robust protections and recognizes our moral and legal obligation to protect asylum seekers.

Nickole Miller, Baltimore The writer is a lawyer with the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

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

Nickole speaks truth.  Almost all of the “credible fear” reviews involving folks from the Northern Triangle that I performed as a U.S. Immigration Judge, both at the border and in Arlington, presented plausible claims for at least protection under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”) if the rules were properly applied (which they often are not in Immigration Court — there is a strong bias against granting even the minimal protection that CAT provides). Many also had plausible gender-based, religious, or political asylum claims if they were allowed to gather the necessary evidence.

Whether ultimately successful or not, these individuals were clearly entitled to their day in court, to be listened to by an unbiased judicial decision maker, to have the reasons for the decision to accept or reject them carefully explained in language they can understand, and to have a right to appeal to a higher authority.

Of course, without a lawyer and some knowledge of the complicated CAT regulations and administrative and Federal Court case-law, a CAT applicant would have about “0 chance” of success. The same is true of asylum which requires proof not only of the possibility of future harm, but also proof of causal relationship to a “protected ground” an arcane concept which most unfamiliar with asylum law cannot grasp.

In other words, our system sends back individuals who have established legitimate fears of death, rape, or torture, just because they fail to show that it is “on account” of race, religion, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. These concepts are often applied, particularly in Immigration Court where respondents are unrepresented, in the manner “most unfavorable” to the claimant.  This is in direct violation of the U.N. guidance which holds that credible asylum seekers should be given “the benefit of the doubt.”

Moreover, assuming that we have the “right” to send good folks, who have done no wrong, back to be harmed in the Northern Triangle, that doesn’t mean that we should be doing so as either a legal or moral matter. That’s what devices like Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”), Deferred Enforced Departure (“DED”), and just “plain old Prosecutorial Discretion (“PD”) are for: to save lives and maintain the status quo while deferring the more difficult decisions on permanent protection until later. Obviously, this would also allow  at least minimal protections to be granted by DHS outside the Immigration Court system, thus relieving the courts of thousands of cases, but without endangering lives, legal rights, or due process.

I agree with Nickole that the “asylum reform” needed is exactly the opposite of that being proposed by restrictionist opportunists like Trump and Sessions. The first step would be insuring that individuals seeking protections in Immigration Court have a right to a hearing before a real, impartial judicial official who will apply the law fairly and impartially, and who does not work for the Executive Branch and therefore is more likely to be free from the type of anti-asylum and anti-migrant bias overtly demonstrated by Sessions and other enforcement officials. 

PWS

10-16-17

NEW FROM THE HILL: N. RAPPAPORT SAYS “NO” TO MOST OF CAL SB 54, BUT WOULD LIKE TO FIND A COMPROMISE LEGISLATIVE SOLUTON TO HELP DREAMERS AND OTHER UNDOCUMENTED RESIDENTS!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/59dad902e4b08ce873a8cf53

In encourage you to go over to The Hill at the above link and read Nolan’s complete article. As always, whether you agree with Nolan or not, his articles are always thought-provoking and timely. Nolan is definitely a “player” in the immigration dialogue! (And, frankly, by going over to The Hill, Nolan gets a few more “hits” which give him a few more “hard-earned nickels” in his pockets. Gotta help out my fellow retirees!)

I can agree with Nolan’s bottom line:

“It would be better to help undocumented aliens by working on comprehensive immigration reform legislation that meets essential political needs of both parties.”

The challenge will be figuring out what those points might be. So far, the GOP “Wish List” is basically an “incendiary White Nationalist screed” drafted by notorious racist xenophobe Stephen Miller (probably with backing from Sessions and certainly incorporating parts of Steve Bannon’s alt-right White Nationalist world view) that contains virtually nothing that any Democrat, or indeed any decent person, could agree with. Indeed, the very involvement of Miller in the legislative process is a “gut punch” to Democrats and whatever “moderate GOP” legislators remain.

What are some “smart enforcement” moves that Democrats could agree with: more funding for DHS/ICE technology; improvements in hiring and training for DHS enforcement personnel; U.S. Immigration Court reforms;  more attorneys and support (including paralegal support) for the ICE Legal Program; more funding for “Know Your Rights” presentations in Detention Centers.

But more agents for “gonzo enforcement,” more money for immigration prisons (a/k/a the “American Gulag”), and, most disgustingly, picking on and targeting scared, vulnerable kids seeking protection from harm in Central America by stripping them of their already meager due process protections: NO WAY!

Although “The Wall” is a money wasting folly with lots of negative racial and foreign policy implications, it probably comes down to a “victory” that Democrats could give to Trump and the GOP without actually hurting any human beings, violating any overriding principles of human rights law, or diminishing Constitutional Due process. It also inflicts less long-term damage on America than a racially-oriented “point system” or a totally disastrous and wrong-headed decrease in legal immigration when the country needs the total opposite, a significant increase in legal immigration opportunities, including those for so-called “unskilled labor.”

While this GOP Congress will never agree to such an increase — and therefore workable “Immigration Reform” will continue to elude them — the Democrats need to “hold the line” at current levels until such time as Americans can use the ballot box to achieve a Congress more cognizant of the actual long-term needs of the majority of Americans.

PWS

10-09-17

 

GONZO’S WORLD: HOMOPHOBIC AG ATTACKS LGBTQ COMMUNITY WITH BOGUS LEGAL MEMO STRIPPING TRANSGENDER INDIVIDUALS OF CIVIL RIGHTS PROTECTIONS!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/dominicholden/jeff-sessions-just-reversed-a-policy-that-protects

Dominic Holden reports for BuzzFeed News:

“US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed a federal government policy that said transgender workers were protected from discrimination under a 1964 civil rights law, according to a memo on Wednesday sent to agency heads and US attorneys.

Sessions’ directive, obtained by BuzzFeed News, says, “Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.”

It adds that the government will take this position in pending and future matters, which could have far-reaching implications across the federal government and may result in the Justice Department fighting against transgender workers in court.

“Although federal law, including Title VII, provides various protections to transgender individuals, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se,” Sessions writes. “This is a conclusion of law, not policy. As a law enforcement agency, the Department of Justice must interpret Title VII as written by Congress.”

But Sharon McGowan, a former lawyer in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and now an attorney for the LGBT group Lambda Legal, countered that Sessions’ is ignoring a widespread trend in federal courts.

“It’s ironic for them to say this is law, and not policy,” McGowan told BuzzFeed News. “The memo is devoid of discussion of the way case law has been developing in this area for the last few years. It demonstrates that this memo is not actually a reflection of the law as it is — it’s a reflection of what the DOJ wishes the law were.”

“The sessions DOJ is trying to roll back the clock and pretend that the progress of the last decade hasnt’ happened,” she added. “The Justice Department is actually getting back in the business of making anti-transgender law in court.”

“The Justice Department is actually getting back in the business of making anti-transgender law in court.”
The memo reflects the Justice Department’s aggression toward LGBT rights under President Trump and Sessions, who reversed an Obama-era policy that protects transgender students after a few weeks in office. Last month, Sessions filed a brief at the Supreme Court in favor of a Christian baker who refused a wedding cake to a gay couple. And last week, the department argued in court that Title VII doesn’t protect a gay worker from discrimination, showing that Sessions will take his view on Title VII into private employment disputes.

At issue in the latest policy is how broadly the government interprets Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which does not address LGBT rights directly. Rather, it prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an independent agency that enforces civil rights law in the workplace, and a growing body of federal court decisions have found sex discrimination does include discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotyping — and that Title VII therefore bans anti-transgender discrimination as well.

Embracing that trend, former attorney general Eric Holder under President Obama announced the Justice Department would take that position as well, issuing a memo in 2014 that said, “I have determined that the best reading of Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status. The most straightforward reading of Title VII is that discrimination ‘because of … sex’ includes discrimination because an employee’s gender identification is as a member of a particular sex, or because the employee is transitioning, or has transitioned, to another sex.”

But Sessions said in his latest policy that he “withdraws the December 15, 2014, memorandum,” and adds his narrower view that the law only covers discrimination between “men and women.”

“The Department of Justice will take that position in all pending and future matters (except where controlling lower-court precedent dictates otherwise, in which event the issue should be preserved for potential future review),” Sessions writes.

Sessions adds: “The Justice Department must and will continue to affirm the dignity of all people, including transgender individuals. Nothing in this memorandum should be construed to condone mistreatment on the basis of gender identity, or to express a policy view on whether Congress should amend Title VII to provide different or additional protections.”

Devin O’Malley, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, explained the decision to issue the memo, telling BuzzFeed News, “The Department of Justice cannot expand the law beyond what Congress has provided. Unfortunately, the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle, which necessitated today’s action. This Department remains committed to protecting the civil and constitutional rights of all individuals, and will continue to enforce the numerous laws that Congress has enacted that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”

McGowan, from Lambda Legal, counters, “The memo is so weak that analysis is so thin, that it will courts will recognize it for what it is — a raw political document and not sound legal analysis that should be given any weight by them.”

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Virulent homophobia has always been a key element of the “Gonzo Apocalypto Agenda.” Check out this report from Mark Joseph Stern at Slate about how when serving as Alabama’s Attorney General Gonzo attempted to use an Alabama statute that had been ruled unconstitutional by a Federal Judge to both publicly demean LGBTQ students and stomp on their First Amendment rights. (So much for the disingenuous BS speech that Gonzo delivered on Free Speech at Georgetown Law last week.)  Here’s what happened:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a speech at Georgetown University Law Center in which he argued that “freedom of thought and speech on the American campus are under attack.” As my colleague Dahlia Lithwick explained, the attorney general said this in “a room full of prescreened students who asked him prescreened questions while political demonstrators outside were penned off in ‘free speech zones.’ ” Ensconced in a safe space of his own, Sessions blasted the notion that speech can be “hurtful,” criticizing administrators and students for their “crackdown” on “speech they may have disagreed with.”

Mark Joseph Stern
MARK JOSEPH STERN
Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers the law and LGBTQ issues.

Sessions’ hypocrisy on speech issues is not a new development. In 1996, the then–attorney general of Alabama used the full power of his office to try to shut down an LGBTQ conference at the University of Alabama. Sessions took his battle to court, asking a federal judge to let him block the conference altogether—or, at the very least, silence students who wished to discuss LGBTQ issues. He ultimately failed, but his campaign reveals a great deal about his highly selective view of free expression. Sessions claims to support freedom for “offensive” speech, but when speech offends him, he is all too happy to play the censor.

When Sessions served as Alabama attorney general, the state still criminalized sodomy. A 1992 law, Alabama Education Code Section 16-1-28, also barred public universities from funding, recognizing, or supporting any group “that fosters or promotes a lifestyle or actions prohibited by” the sodomy statute, either “directly or indirectly.” The law also forbade schools from allowing such organizations to use public facilities. Sessions’ predecessor, Jimmy Evans, had interpreted the statute to effectively outlaw the discussion or promotion of gay rights on public campuses, with that prohibition even extending to AIDS awareness campaigns.

In 1995, the University of South Alabama’s Gay Lesbian Bisexual Alliance sued in federal court to block Section 16-1-28. That summer, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that, under the First Amendment, public universities may not deny access to facilities or funding for student organizations on the basis of their viewpoints. This decision, the GLBA asserted, rendered Section 16-1-28 unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson agreed, holding the law to be invalid in a January 1996 ruling.

This decision was excellent news for the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Alliance at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. The GLBA had planned to host the Fifth Annual Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual College Conference of the Southeastern United States in February 1996. Sessions, by now attorney general, was trying his hardest to shut it down.

“University officials say they’re going to try to obey the law,” Sessions said at the time, as CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reported in December of last year. “I don’t see how it can be done without canceling this conference. I remain hopeful that if the administration does not act, the board of trustees will.” Sessions didn’t give up even after Judge Thompson struck down the law. “I intend to do everything I can to stop that conference,” he said.

In a last-ditch effort, Sessions returned to Thompson’s court and asked permission to ban the conference. “The State of Alabama,” he explained in court filings, “will experience irreparable harm by funding a conference and activities in violation of state law.” Failing a total ban, Sessions implored Thompson to let him censor any discussion of “safe sex and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.” Sessions claimed that, by talking about LGBTQ issues, conference attendees were essentially conspiring to promote criminal activity, and Alabama should not be obligated to support their criminality. Predictably, Thompson rejected Sessions’ arguments, writing that the attorney general was endeavoring to violate students’ free speech rights. Sessions then appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which unanimously ruled against Alabama. The conference went on as planned.

Cathy Lopez Wessell, a lead organizer and spokeswoman for the conference, told me Sessions’ intervention “was incredibly stressful. We got threatening phone calls. We were attacked from all sides.” She continued, “We were the abomination of the month. I didn’t feel safe in the world for a while. I started to internalize some of the judgment leveled at our group. I thought, there must be something deeply wrong with you if you need to be silenced.”

Lopez Wessell explained that Sessions’ campaign against the conference registered as a broader attack on LGBTQ students.

“If we can’t talk, do we have a right to exist?” Lopez Wessell asked. “If our speech is so dangerous that it needs to be stopped, then are we dangerous? We weren’t promoting any particular activity; we just wanted to talk—about our experiences, about our existence.”

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Denying the humanity as well as the human rights of those he is biased against is a staple of the Gonzo Apocalypto agenda. Just look at his constant attempts to tie all members of the Hispanic ethnic community to crime, drugs, and gangs (even though all credible studies show that immigrants or all types have markedly lower crime rates than native-born U.S. citizens) and his false and gratuitous attempts to tie “Dreamers” to crime, terrorism, and loss of jobs!

There is no more certain way of knowing that a DOJ “legal” memo is all policy and no law than the statement: “This is a conclusion of law, not policy.“ In other words, “Don’t you dare accuse me of doing what I’m actually doing!”

Since assuming the office of Attorney General for which he is so spectacularly unqualified, here’s a list of the folks whose rights or humanity Sessions has attacked or disparaged:

Hispanics

African Americans

LGBTQ Individuals

Dreamers

Immigrants

Refugees

Asylum Seekers

Poor People

Undocumented Migrants

Women

Muslims

Civil Rights Protesters

Black Athletes

City Officials Seeking To Foster Community Law Enforcement

Prisoners

Immigration Detainees

Forensic Scientists

State Governors Who Disagree With Him

Federal Judges Who Find Trump Policies Illegal

State & Federal Judges Who Object To Migrants Being Arrested At Their Courts

Convicts

Liberal Students & College Administrators

Anti-Facists

Anti-Hate-Group Activists

Reporters

Unaccompanied Migrant Children

President Obama

Whistleblowers (a/k/a “Leakers” in “Gonzopeak”)

DOJ Career Attorneys

I’m sure I’ve left a few out.  Feel free to send me additions. The list just keeps getting longer all the time.

The only group that appears to be “A-OK” with Gonzo is “White straight Christian male Republican ultra rightists.”

Liz was right!

PWS

10-05-17

 

 

 

 

 

BHUTANESE REFUGEES REJUVENATING AKRON, OHIO — Refugees Are People, Adjusting To A New Life, And Making America A Better Country — “We understand that it’s not just the right thing to do as human beings,” she said, “but it has amazing social and economic consequences.” — AMERICA NEEDS MORE REFUGEES, LESS TRUMP, LESS SESSIONS, LESS MILLER, LESS BANNON, LESS “AYATOLLAH ROY!”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/akron-ohio-bhutanese-refugees_us_59ca88cfe4b0cdc773353640

M.L. Schultze reports for HuffPost:

Thanks “AKRON, Ohio ― Akron owes its only population growth since the turn of the century to a kingdom on the other side of the Earth. As many as 5,000 Nepalis, who held onto their culture during centuries in Bhutan and decades in refugee camps in Nepal, have made their way here during the last decade.

They went to work in the Gojo plant, enrolled their kids in public schools and learned how to navigate roads, snow and U.S. society. But real success in resettling refugees “means moving people from surviving to thriving,” says Eileen Wilson, who runs refugee outreach for a Cleveland agency called Building Hope in the City.

 

MADDIE MCGARVEY FOR HUFFPOST
Family Groceries in Akron, Ohio.
Thriving means different things to different people. In Akron, it’s come to mean a dozen Nepalese shops and restaurants in what were once abandoned storefronts on North Hill. It means neighborhoods where long-slumping home sales are recovering. It means a cricket pitch in the park, a Nepalese bed-and-breakfast, and the migration of refugees from Houston, Atlanta, Chicago and New York ― the kinds of places Akron is used to losing people to.

It also means that a once alarmingly high suicide rate among refugees has dwindled.

Akron has declared itself a “Welcoming Community,” and Deputy Mayor Annie McFadden says the city and its newest residents are establishing a synergy.

Listen to America, a HuffPost Road Trip
HuffPost is hitting the road this fall to interview people about their hopes, dreams, fears ― and what it means to be American today.
Thirty-nine-year-old Amber Subba has lived the Akron migration story from the beginning. On his Facebook page, he introduces himself as Bhutanese-Nepali-American.

Subba and his family came to Akron in 2008. They’d spent more than 17 years in a refugee camp in Nepal. They’d been forced there when he was 11 by the Bhutanese government’s campaign for a national identity ― one that had no room for people of Nepalese descent who held onto their language and culture.

As refugee camps go, Subba says, the seven clustered in southwest Nepal weren’t bad: Refugees organized systems of commerce, education and self-governance. But more than 100,000 people were also living with annual monsoons and periodic fires, little privacy and constant uncertainty, including how much longer Nepal would let them stay.

In late 2006, President George W. Bush surprised the refugee resettlement world by announcing the U.S. would accept up to 60,000 Bhutanese refugees. Most of America barely noticed, but local, federally chartered agencies like the International Institute of Akron started to make plans.

Subba acknowledges his adopted city wasn’t exactly prepared.

Jobs were scarce. Language was the great isolator. The laws and customs were unknown.

Practically “nobody had a car,” Subba said. “Nobody had driver’s licenses and we didn’t have proper training about how to use the bus. And we didn’t know about snow and things like that.”

Still, he said, “we survived.”

In fact, Subba did quite a bit more than survive. He rose from interpreter to case manager at the institute, became a U.S. citizen and was president of the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron. He composes folk music ― love songs played on streaming radio and easily recognized in the world of the Nepalese diaspora.

His was the first marriage outside the tight circle of Akron’s Bhutanese community. His wife, Tiffany Ann Stacy, enjoys their definition of family that extends well beyond their two children.

As with most families in their culture, Subba’s parents live with them. “It’s really nice, because my kids don’t go to day care,” she said. “They spend the day in the garden digging in the dirt, growing vegetables and learning two languages.”

“The best thing is I’m never lonely,” she joked. “The worst thing is, I’m never alone.”

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Read the rest of the story at the link.

Compare the human decency and humanity described in this article with the selfishness, grotesque cowardice, prejudice, and indecency of the Trump Administration. Refugees make us better; Trump makes us worse!

PWS

10-02-17

 

 

 

 

 

“Warren Buffett on Immigration Reform: Buffett feels that immigrants (including undocumented ones) have been and continue to be a key part of our prosperity — not a part of the problem.“

https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/09/29/warren-buffett-on-immigration-reform.aspx

Matthew Frankel reports for The Motley Fool:

“Immigration reform has been a hot-button issue long before President Trump pledged to build a wall along our border. And while there’s certainly an argument to be made that we need to do a better job of controlling illegal immigration, there’s also a strong case to be made that immigrants are a big driving force behind America’s growth — past, present, and future.

Warren Buffett has been very outspoken in recent years about America and its amazing economic story. Not only does Buffett feel that immigrants have led us to where we are today, but he also thinks that immigrants are an essential component of our country’s future success.

Here’s what Warren Buffett thinks of immigrants
In a nutshell, Buffett feels that immigrants (including undocumented ones) have been and continue to be a key part of our prosperity — not a part of the problem. “This country has been blessed by immigrants,” Buffett said in February at Columbia University. “You can take them from any country you want, and they’ve come here and they found something that unleashed the potential that the place that they left did not, and we’re the product of it.”

Referring to Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard, both of whom were immigrants themselves, Buffett said, “If it hadn’t been for those two immigrants, who knows whether we’d be sitting in this room.”

In his most recent letter to Berkshire Hathaway’s (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) shareholders, Buffett specifically mentioned immigrants as one of the major components of America’s success story. “From a standing start 240 years ago — a span of time less than triple my days on earth — Americans have combined human ingenuity, a market system, a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants, and the rule of law to deliver abundance beyond any dreams of our forefathers.”

On a pathway to citizenship
Buffett is an outspoken Democrat who actively campaigned for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Buffett doesn’t want to deport millions of illegal immigrants who are currently in the United States.

In a 2015 interview with Fox Business, Buffett said

People should be able to earn citizenship who are here. You know, I do not think we should deport millions of people. So, I think we should have a real path to citizenship.

Buffett was then asked specifically about the DREAM Act and its 800,000 minors who are in the country illegally and now face an uncertain future after the end of DACA, from the perspective of a successful American businessman. Buffett replied:

It is a question of being a human being not really a businessman. Immigrants came, our forefathers came as immigrants, they got here anyway they could. And who knows what I would have done if I were in some terrible situation in a country and wanted to come here…a great percentage of them are good citizens. I would have a path to citizenship for them, I would not send them back.

 

On immigration policy and reform
As we all know, the immigration debate has been going on for a long time. And Buffett’s stance hasn’t changed much over the past several years. In a 2013 interview with ABC’s This Week, Buffett said:

I think we should have a more logical immigration policy. It would mean we would attract a lot of people, but we would attract the people we want to attract in particular — in terms of education, tens or hundreds of thousands of people. We enhance their talents and have them stick around here.

Buffett went on to say that any reform package should “certainly offer [undocumented immigrants] the chance to become citizens,” and one main reason for doing so would be to deepen the talent pool of the labor force.

Buffett’s stance on immigration in a nutshell
Warren Buffett believes that allowing immigrants who are already in the country to stay and pursue citizenship is not only the right thing to do, but is essential to America’s continued economic prosperity. Buffett certainly sees the need for immigration reform, as most Americans of all political affiliations do, but wants to encourage and simplify the legal pathways to immigration.”

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Buffet speaks simple truth: Immigrants, both documented and undocumented are not threats, but rather are a necessary ingredient for America’s greatness. We need to bring law-abiding undocumented individuals into our society in some type of legal, work authorized status. We also need substantial across the board increases in legal immigration, so that in the future the immigrants we need can come through the legal system (or wait in a realistic line) rather than coming through an underground system and working and living in the shadows.

The lies, misrepresentations, and false narratives being peddled by Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Miller, Kobach, Cotton, Perdue, King, Goodlatte, Labrador, the so called “Freedom” Caucus, and the rest of their White Nationalist restrictionist cronies are a path to national disaster. Removing existing non-criminal migrants who happen to be working here in undocumented status is a colossal waste of limited Government resources that actually hurts our country in numerous ways.

Time to stand up against the restrictionist, White Nationalist, xenophobic, anti-American blather. Demand that your Congressional representatives back sane, humane immigration reform that takes care of those already here and recognizes their great contributions while appropriately and significantly expanding future legal immigration opportunities so that we don’t keep repreating our mistakes over and over.

Let’s be honest about it. If the time, money, and resources that the U.S. Government is currently spending on the counterproductive aspects of immigration enforcement and inhumane immigration detention were shifted into constructive areas, there would be no “disaster relief crisis” in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands right now, and we’d have more money to spend on heath care, job training and retraining, infrastructure, addressing the opioid crisis, and many more legitimate national priorities!

PWS

09-30-17

ACLU WILL CHALLENGE TRAVEL BAN 3.0 IN MD FEDERAL COURT!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/aclu-travel-ban_us_59ceab03e4b06791bb10933f

Mollie Reilly reports for HuffPost:

“The American Civil Liberties Union announced Friday it is suing President Donald Trump’s administration over its new travel ban.
The group is bringing its challenge in the U.S. District Court in Maryland. Multiple organizations, including the National Immigration Law Center, are joining the complaint.
“President Trump’s newest travel ban is still a Muslim ban at its core, and it certainly engages in discrimination based on national origin, which is unlawful,” ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero said in a statement. “Adding a few North Koreans and a tiny group of Venezuelan officials doesn’t paper over the original sin of the Muslim ban. We’ll see President Trump in court — again.”
The latest iteration of the ban, announced earlier this week, is set to place new restrictions on travel to the U.S. from eight countries starting on Oct. 18. The updated ban removed earlier restrictions on Sudan, while adding North Korea, Venezuela and Chad to the list. Restrictions remain in place for Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia.
It’s Trump’s third attempt to restrict travel from a small group of countries.
The ACLU and other groups have decried the new version of the ban as just as xenophobic as its earlier versions, which faced legal challenges as to whether the policies unconstitutionally discriminated against Muslims.
“This is still a Muslim ban ― they simply added three additional countries,” said Becca Heller of the International Refugee Assistance Project earlier this week. “Of those countries, Chad is majority Muslim, travel from North Korea is already basically frozen and the restrictions on Venezuela only affect government officials on certain visas. You can’t get any more transparent than that.”

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Although the Trumpsters have shored up Travel Ban 3.0 with some specifics, it’s still stupid and unnecessary. Whether that makes it illegal, however, is a more difficult question.

PWS

09-29-17

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

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

Admiral Michael G. Mullen writes in the NYT:

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

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

 

PWS

09-26

 

NBC’S PETE WILLIAMS REPORTS: “Trump to Replace Travel Ban With Revised Requirements”

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trump-replace-travel-ban-revised-requirements-n803836

NBC’S veteran Legal Reporter Pete Williams (one of my all-time favorites) reports:

“WASHINGTON — The White House could issue new requirements this weekend for travelers entering the United States, replacing President Donald Trump’s controversial ban on visitors from six Muslim countries, administration officials tell NBC News.

The announcement, expected by Sunday, will supersede the 90-day travel ban on issuing visas to visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, which expires Sunday.

The new restrictions will be based on a Homeland Security and State Department review of the kinds of information that must be provided about visitors and immigrants hoping to enter the U.S. The new guidelines are aimed at preventing terrorists and other security threats from entering the country, officials said.

Following the review, the State Department asked U.S. diplomats around the world to gather the information from foreign governments, warning that visitors will be eligible to enter the country only after the requests are fulfilled.

Once those responses came back, Homeland Security and State Departments reported to the White House on which countries agreed to provide the required information and conform to US requirements, and which did not.

Based on that report, the White House is expected to announce the new restrictions, probably in the form of a presidential proclamation, administration officials said. For many countries on the list, visas will be restricted, meaning that only specified categories of travelers can get them.

Any country that flunks the test can get itself off the list by agreeing to conform to the US requirements, which include issuing electronic passports with a photo, regularly reporting passport thefts, and notifying the US of suspected terrorists. Plus countries must also “take measures to ensure that they are not and do not have the potential to become a terrorist safe haven.”

The original White House order, imposed in January, caused chaos in some of the nation’s airports as customs officials were left to interpret the meaning of the surprise order. After it was struck down in court, a revised order was issued in March.

The executive orders have faced a litany of legal challenges. The Supreme Court ruled in June that parts of the current travel ban could be enforced until the court hears argument, on October 10, about whether the president had authority to impose it in the first place.

Lawyers tell NBC News they are unsure what this latest move could mean for the case.”

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I think this action by the Administration is likely to “moot out” the case currently pending before the Supreme Court.  That seems to be the result the Court was “hinting at” when it issued its partial stay earlier this summer.

PWS

09-22-17

 

WASHPOST: “The White House’s preposterous policy analysis on refugeesl”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-preposterous-policy-analysis-of-xenophobes-in-the-white-house/2017/09/20/4f60f268-9d73-11e7-9083-fbfddf6804c2_story.html

The Washington Post Editorial Board writes:

“A QUIRKY THING about government programs is that, in addition to costs, there are benefits, the latter of which may also include revenue. Yet in thje case of U.S. refugee programs, xenophobes seeking an upper hand in the Trump administration have covered up half the ledger.

A report ordered up by President Trump in March, and produced by officials in July, concluded that refugees had delivered $63 billion more in federal, state and local tax revenue than they had cost in federal benefits through the decade ending in 2014. According to the New York Times, however, the administration sent the report back for a redo, insisting that any mention of revenue be dropped. The Department of Health and Human Services obliged in a final, three-page report this month, which concluded that per-person departmental program costs for refugees were $3,300, compared with a per-person cost of $2,500 for the U.S. population as a whole.

That’s not exactly a shocker. Refugees, by definition legal immigrants, tend to be poor or penniless. As the report from Health and Human Services says, they naturally draw more heavily on the department’s programs, particularly in their first four years of residency. The fact that they pay more in taxes than they draw in benefits cuts against the administration’s spin and, according to the Times, was suppressed by Stephen Miller, Mr. Trump’s nativist senior policy adviser.

Mr. Miller is leading the charge to slash the number of refugees admitted in the fiscal year starting in October, below even the cap of 50,000 that Mr. Trump imposed this year — itself the lowest number in more than 30 years. (Before leaving office, President Barack Obama had set this year’s target at 110,000.) In addition to his general dislike of immigration, Mr. Miller sees refugees in particular as a terrorist threat and a fiscal burden. The fact that there’s extremely little historical evidence of the former, and that the latter is demonstrably false, doesn’t interest him — or Mr. Trump, who on Tuesday told the U.N. General Assembly that it would be much cheaper for Washington to send money for refugees rather than resettle them in the United States.

Refu­gee policy is not like a choice between leasing a car and buying one, and Mr. Trump’s policy analysis is preposterous. This country was settled by refugees; it has been a beacon for refugees for its entire history. Even now, despite the Trump administration’s inhospitable demeanor, it remains the aspirational destination for millions of people worldwide, especially in the most violent, repressive and hopeless places. The list of refugees who have ennobled and inspired the United States is too long to recount here, but consider just a few names: Madeleine Albright. Albert Einstein. Gloria Estefan. Henry Kissinger. Vladimir Nabokov. Billy Wilder.

At a moment when the world is awash in refugees — the United Nations has asked countries to resettle 1.2 million of them — it would be not just callous for Washington to turn its back on them. It would be an act of national redefinition and an abdication of leadership. Rather than making America great again, it would do the very opposite by making the country small, peevish, inward-looking and heedless of its role on the global stage.“

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Right On! It’s impossible to overestimate the damage that Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller, and the rest of the White Nationalist, racist, xenophobic crew in this Administration are doing to America and to our standing in the world. They, not vulnerable refugees, are currently the greatest threats to our national security!

PWS

09-21-17

CORRUPT ADMINISTRATION: When USG’s Own Studies Prove The Economic Benefits Of Refugees, Those Seeking To Further The White Nationalist False Narrative Do The Obvious — Suppress The Facts & Lie About It! — Anyway, Refugee Admissions Aren’t About Making Money — The Immorality Of The Trump Administration Runs Deep!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/18/us/politics/refugees-revenue-cost-report-trump.html

Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Somini Sengupta report for the NYT:

“WASHINGTON — Trump administration officials, under pressure from the White House to provide a rationale for reducing the number of refugees allowed into the United States next year, rejected a study by the Department of Health and Human Services that found that refugees brought in $63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost.
The draft report, which was obtained by The New York Times, contradicts a central argument made by advocates of deep cuts in refugee totals as President Trump faces an Oct. 1 deadline to decide on an allowable number. The issue has sparked intense debate within his administration as opponents of the program, led by Mr. Trump’s chief policy adviser, Stephen Miller, assert that continuing to welcome refugees is too costly and raises concerns about terrorism.
Advocates of the program inside and outside the administration say refugees are a major benefit to the United States, paying more in taxes than they consume in public benefits, and filling jobs in service industries that others will not. But research documenting their fiscal upside — prepared for a report mandated by Mr. Trump in a March presidential memorandum implementing his travel ban — never made its way to the White House. Some of those proponents believe the report was suppressed.
The internal study, which was completed in late July but never publicly released, found that refugees “contributed an estimated $269.1 billion in revenues to all levels of government” between 2005 and 2014 through the payment of federal, state and local taxes. “Overall, this report estimated that the net fiscal impact of refugees was positive over the 10-year period, at $63 billion.”
But White House officials said those conclusions were illegitimate and politically motivated, and were disproved by the final report issued by the agency, which asserts that the per-capita cost of a refugee is higher than that of an American.
“This leak was delivered by someone with an ideological agenda, not someone looking at hard data,” said Raj Shah, a White House spokesman. “The actual report pursuant to the presidential memorandum shows that refugees with few skills coming from war-torn countries take more government benefits from the Department of Health and Human Services than the average population, and are not a net benefit to the U.S. economy.”
John Graham, the acting assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the health department, said: “We do not comment on allegedly leaked documents” and that no report had been finalized. He noted that Mr. Trump’s memorandum “seeks an analysis related to the cost of refugee programs. Therefore, the only analysis in the scope of H.H.S.’s response to the memo would be on refugee-related expenditures from data within H.H.S. programs.”
The three-page report the agency ultimately submitted, dated Sept. 5, does just that, using government data to compare the costs of refugees to Americans and making no mention of revenues contributed by refugees.
“In an average year over the 10-year period, per-capita refugee costs for major H.H.S. programs totaled $3,300,” it says. “Per-person costs for the U.S. population were lower, at $2,500, reflecting a greater participation of refugees in H.H.S. programs, especially during their first four years” in the United States.
It was not clear who in the administration decided to keep the information out of the final report. An internal email, dated Sept. 5 and sent among officials from government agencies involved in refugee issues, said that “senior leadership is questioning the assumptions used to produce the report.” A separate email said that Mr. Miller had requested a meeting to discuss the report. The Times was shown the emails on condition that the sender not be identified. Mr. Miller personally intervened in the discussions on the refugee cap to ensure that only the costs — not any fiscal benefit — of the program were considered, according to two people familiar with the talks.
He has also played a crucial role in the internal discussions over refugee admissions, which are capped by an annual presidential determination that is usually coordinated by the National Security Council and led in large part by the State Department.
This year, officials at the State Department as well as the Department of Defense have argued vociferously that the United States should admit no fewer than the 50,000-refugee cap that Mr. Trump imposed in January as part of the travel ban, but Mr. Miller has advocated for a much lower number — half or less, according to people familiar with the internal talks who described them on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to detail them. The Department of Homeland Security last week proposed a cap of 40,000. The limits being debated would be the lowest in more than three decades.
“We see an administration that’s running a program that it’s intent on destroying,” said Mark Hetfield, the president of HIAS, one of nine refugee resettlement agencies opposing the cut in admissions. “We do have champions in the White House and in the administration, but they’re not being given a voice in this.”
The issue is coming to a head as Mr. Trump attends the United Nations General Assembly this week for the first time as president. The United Nations has repeatedly appealed to nations to resettle 1.2 million refugees fleeing war and persecution from all over the world, and former President Barack Obama used the gathering last year to tout his goal of admitting 110,000 refugees in the fiscal year that ends this month, and to pressure other countries to follow the lead of the United States in embracing more displaced people.
Mr. Trump, by contrast, has highlighted his goal of radically cutting refugee admissions. The president moved swiftly after taking office to crack down on refugees, issuing his original ban against travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries only a week after taking office.
Facing legal challenges to that order, his administration released a second travel ban two months later against six countries, along with a presidential memorandum in which Mr. Trump called on the secretary of state to consult with the secretaries of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security and his White House budget director and submit within 180 days “a report detailing the estimated long-term costs of the United States Refugee Admissions Program at the federal, state, and local levels, along with recommendations about how to curtail those costs.”
The budget Mr. Trump released in May argued that refugees and other immigrants were a fiscal drain. “Under the refugee program, the federal government brings tens of thousands of entrants into the United States, on top of existing legal immigration flows, who are instantly eligible for time-limited cash benefits and numerous noncash federal benefits, including food assistance through SNAP, medical care and education, as well as a host of state and local benefits,” the document said.
It would be less costly, it argued, if there were fewer refugees, since “each refugee admitted into the United States comes at the expense of helping a potentially greater number out of country.” Inside the administration, those who espouse this view argue that any research purporting to illustrate fiscal benefits of refugees is flawed and reflects only wishful thinking.
As Mr. Trump deliberates privately about the issue, a coalition of human rights and religious groups as well as former national security officials in both parties has formed to encourage him not to allow the refugee cap to plummet.
“From a national security standpoint, while we can’t take an unlimited number of refugees, we need to show our friends and allies that we stand with them and this is a shared burden,” said Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security under George W. Bush.
“They’ve generated a lot of economic value,” Mr. Chertoff added in an interview. “I don’t think refugees are coming to take American jobs.”
Get politics and Washington news updates via Facebook, Twitter and the Morning Briefing newsletter.
Julie Hirschfeld Davis reported from Washington, and Somini Sengupta from New York.”

 

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Get a complete copy of the report the Administration is trying so hard to suppress at the NYT link above.

In the Trump Administration “truth” has become a “political agenda” of those who aren’t willing to skew facts and tell lies in support of a bankrupt White Nationalist restrictionist agenda. It’s telling that the DOD is one of the agencies pushing for more refugee admissions.

Moreover, as has been pointed out in previous blogs, admitting refugees is not simply a question of “what can they do for our economy” (although the answer to that is “amazing things”). It’s also about our international obligations, our obligations to the world community, and our obligations as human beings to other humans in need. In other words, simple decency and morality, concepts that guys like Trump, Sessions, and Miller consistently sweep under the rug as they roll out their false political narrative.

PWS

09-20-17

 

IMMIGRATIONPROF: Dean Kevin Johnson Gives Us The Supreme’s “Immigration Lineup” For Oct. 2107 — It’s Much More Than Just The Travel Ban!

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2017/09/sessions-v-dimaya-oral-argument-october-2-jennings-v-rodriguez-oral-argument-oct-3-trump-v-intl-refugee-assistance-p.html

Dean Johnson writes:

”The Supreme Court will hear four oral argument in four cases in the first two weeks of the 2017 Term. And the cases raise challenging constitutional law issues that could forecever change immigration law. Watch this blog for previews of the oral arguments in the cases.

Sessions v. Dimaya, Oral Argument October 2. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in an opinion by the liberal lion Judge Stephen Reinhardt, held that a criminal removal provision, including the phrase “crime of violence,” was void for vagueness.

Jennings v. Rodriguez, Oral Argument, October 3. The Ninth Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, found that the indefinite detention of immigrants violated the U.S. Constitution.

Dimaya and Jennings are being re-argued, both having originally been argued before Justice Scalia. One can assume that the eight Justice Court was divided and that Justice Gorsuch may well be the tiebreaker.

The final two immigration cases are the “travel ban” cases arising out of President Trump’s March Executive Order:

Trump v. Int’l Refugee Assistance Project. Oral Argument October 10.

Trump v. Hawaii. Oral Argument October 10.”

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Go on over to ImmigrationProf Blog at the above link where they have working links that will let you learn about the issues in these cases.

PWS

09-18-17

TRUMP SPREADS “FALSE GOSPEL” WHILE IGNORING REAL THREAT “RIGHT” IN FRONT OF HIM!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/15/opinions/trump-call-white-supremacists-losers-opinion-obeidallah/index.h

Dean Obeidallah writes on CNN:

“As part of the Trump administration’s extreme vetting, they are now examining the social media accounts of people applying for visas to see if they have ties to ISIS-related groups. Well, they must do the same to determine if a person seeking to enter our country has any ties to white-supremacist or neo-Nazi organizations in their home countries.

No one wants anyone with ties to ISIS allowed in the United States. We must also guard against allowing those with ties to dangerous white supremacist groups from setting foot on our soil. They, too, are a potential threat to the people of our nation.
This sick ideology is not just limited to America, as we saw in January in Canada when a young white man described as an “ultra-nationalist white supremacist” walked into a Quebec mosque and shot and killed six Canadian Muslims as they prayed.

And after Charlottesville, white nationalist groups in various European nations cheered the attack by the man who killed Heather Heyer. Do you really want people with those views granted visas to visit our country?


Although, to be blunt, the greatest threat likely comes from white supremacists already within our own borders.

If you think Charlottesville is the only deadly white supremacist terrorist attack in recent times, you haven’t been paying attention.

In May, we saw a self-professed white supremacist in Portland, Oregon, stab two people to death on a train after they stood up to his anti-Muslim tirade directed at a young Muslim-American woman. In March, a 28-year-old white man who was a reader of white supremacist websites traveled to New York for the sole purpose of killing African-Americans. He killed one black man before being arrested and charged with terrorism by the Manhattan district attorney.

In December, another white supremacist was sentenced to 30 years in prison for plotting a domestic terrorist attack involving a radioactive device that he planned to kill Muslims with in New York state.

All of these domestic terrorist attacks prove that it’s time that Trump take the deadly threat of white supremacists as seriously as the threat that ISIS poses. And one big step he can take — in addition to enacting policies and allocating resources to fight their hateful ideology — is making it clear on Twitter that he views white supremacists as “losers.” The lives of Americans depend on it.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Trump never speaks to or deals with the “real” America: the diverse, multicultural, multitalented, multiracial, ecumenical America where the majority of us live. Not surprising, perhaps, considering that this is the America that by and large didn’t vote for him. Yet, it’s also the “majority America” that a much less diverse minority of Americans elected him to govern.

No, instead Trump chooses carefully orchestrated “campaign-style rallies” where he speaks to crowds of “True Believers:” nearly all white folks wearing red baseball caps, waving American flags, and chanting inane nationalist slogans like “build the wall” and cheering wildly as Trump does things like heap praise upon  the racist, scofflaw, hate-monger “Racist Joe.” Whipping up destructive and divisive passions while spreading a false narrative praising the myth of the “Great White America” is a “clear and present danger” to our national security and our national values.

Meanwhile, the Administration doubles down on the contrived message that we should fear visa holders and exhaustively vetted refugees from a few Muslim countries. When will those charged with protecting us turn their attention to the real security threats among the far right and how their own ill-conceived actions and inflammatory words actually increase the danger to all of us?

PWS

09-16-17

 

 

 

 

 

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