START YOUR WEDNESDAY WITH SOME UPLIFTING BREAKING NEWS – IT’S A GREAT DAY FOR THE USA: 1) Alabama Comes Through For U.S. By Electing Democrat Doug Jones To US Senate; 2) Aaron Rodgers Cleared To Return To Pack & Will Start Against The Carolina Panthers on Sunday! –- “Ayatollah Roy” Will Not Be Bringing His Agenda Of Bigotry, Hate, & Un-American Views & His Total Scumbag Persona To Washington – One Of America’s Favorite — & Most Fun To Watch – Sports Stars Will Return To “Primetime!”

First, we can all thank Senator Elect Doug Jones and the voters of Alabama for saving America from the horrible spectacle and damage that would have been caused by the election of the heinous bigot, liar, slanderer, racist, homophobe, xenophobe, theocrat of a false religion, coward, scofflaw, and apparent sexual predator Roy Moore. Jones’s election is a striking rebuke to that other sleazy, corrupt, dishonest, bigoted unrepentant sexual predator in America, Trump. And, by narrowing the GOP advantage in the Senate to a razor-thin 51-49, it raises the possibility that the Democrats with the help of just two responsible Republicans could block substantial parts of Trump’s and the GOP’s insane “War on America” and protect us from some of Trump’s worst excesses.

How ironic that White Nationalist and “Jim Crow relic” Attorney General Jeff “Gonzo Apocalyopto” Sessions is being replaced by a by a competent and decent person who believes in American democracy and governing for the “common good” rather than as an out of touch ideologue with a strong anti-American, anti-Diversity, hate promoting agenda.

It’s also ironic that Jones has done the GOP a favor by relieving them of the lengthy circus of both expelling him from their party and ultimately removing him from the Senate. Anything short of that would have been a continuing embarrassment for the party. Quite contrary to Trump’s outrageous statements in support of the Ayatollah, any vote that a party wins because of support of a total scumbag like Moore damages that party as well as our country. (It does, however, raise in my mind the question of when they are going to expel the anti-American, racist, bigot Steve King from their party. There is no room in any major party for the likes of King.)

Hats off to the African-American community in Alabama who were not deterred by the Sessions/GOP voter suppression anti-Civil Rights initiatives and showed up in the numbers required to make a difference in the election. After being shut out of their fair share of political power in Alabama for over 300 years, African-Americans are finally in a position to make their voices and feelings heard in the U.S. Senate.

Also, hats off to GOP Southern Senators Richard Shelby of Alabama and Tim Scott of South Carolina for standing up and “Just Saying No” to the Moore nonsense. As pointed out by Shelby, Alabama could do better than Ayatollah Roy (not a very high hurdle), and they now have in the person of Doug Jones.

Hopefully, Jones will over time find a way to “win over” most of those misguided souls who voted for Ayatollah Roy notwithstanding the very credible evidence of sexual misconduct with minors in his past, his arrogant “not credible” defense, the clear lies that he told in attempting to smear those who came forward, and his scofflaw, anti-American views. What a jerk!

Here’s the Washington Post’s editorial on Jones’s stunning upset:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/thank-you-alabama/2017/12/12/176388de-df64-11e7-bbd0-9dfb2e37492a_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-d%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.4ea2f1920de1

“THANK YOU, Alabama.

In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alabama, seemingly confirming every negative stereotype about the Deep South state, the shame would have been national. Instead, Alabama voters chose Democrat Doug Jones to represent them until 2021.

Mr. Jones is not in perfect sync with many Alabama voters on some issues, most notably abortion. But he is an honorable man with an admirable record of public service who ran a respectful campaign. His behavior suggests he will serve with decency and care in the Senate. He should make his state proud. None of these fine things could have been said of Mr. Moore. It is beyond heartening that Alabamians refused to overlook or forgive Mr. Moore’s misshapen character.

Mr. Jones’s victory shows that, while partisanship might be extreme, it still has limits. Even in deep-red Alabama, enough voters refused to succumb to lies about how negative stories on Mr. Moore were merely fake news cooked up by a hostile media.

Americans do not send senators to Washington merely to vote mechanically on a few hot-button issues, but to exercise judgment when cameras are not rolling, on issues that are important but not headline-grabbing. Good lawmakers also protect the nation’s democratic institutions, preserve the independence of their branch of government and work with people with whom they disagree. It takes character to fulfill these responsibilities. Mr. Jones seems ready to do such work. Mr. Moore did not.

Mr. Jones’s victory also suggests that the nation’s recent awakening on sexual harassment and assault is spreading across the country. Enough Alabamians believed the women.

If Americans should feel grateful to Alabama voters, so should the Republican Party, much of which debased itself by following President Trump into the gutter of support for Mr. Moore. Its majority in the Senate will be slightly narrower, but the dignity of the Senate GOP caucus will be at least partially salvaged. Alabama voters spared the Senate Ethics Committee the dilemma of how to handle a senator who was clearly unfit but who nevertheless won a popular election. Instead of inviting controversy and chaos, they elected Mr. Jones, a man who deserves the honor.

Thanks to Alabama, Americans can wake up Wednesday morning feeling hopeful about the decency and dignity of their democracy.”

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On to the other big story, Aaron Rodgers (“AR”). AR’s recovery from a broken collarbone which required surgery, two plates, and 13 screws is about as amazing as Jones’s victory.

AR is a smart player, tough guy, and great competitor. It’s certainly possible that he will be able to lead the Pack (currently 7-6 and “on the outside looking in” for a playoff spot) to a sweep of the final three games and a possible playoff birth. But, certainly no “slam dunk!”

The O line will have to do a perfect job of protecting AR. He will have to suppress his tendency to run with the football when nobody is open and the Pack needs a first down.

If the Pack should lose to the Panthers on Sunday, they will have to make a decision on whether to play AR in the final two games. A defeat would pretty much end any realistic hope of the playoffs this year. So, it might make sense to let backup Brett Hundley (3-4 as a starter in AR’s absence) start the last two games. On the other hand, being the competitor that he is, AR will want to play.

Congrats to AR on his return, good luck, and stay tuned.

Here’s a report from the Green Bay Press Gazette on AR’s return:

http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/2017/12/12/silence-prevails-packers-ponder-aaron-rodgers-decision/943774001/

“The news catapults the Packers’ playoff chances from a pipe dream to a legitimate possibility with three games remaining. Conventional wisdom says the Packers must win all three — at Carolina, vs. Minnesota and at Detroit — to have a chance at a wild card in the top-heavy NFC. Accomplishing that feat with Brett Hundley at quarterback was unlikely after he won just three games in seven starts; but with Rodgers the odds shift dramatically.

Beginning Wednesday, Rodgers will have three days of practice to prepare for his first game since Oct. 15, when a hit from Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr resulted in a broken right collarbone. Rodgers underwent surgery in California to stabilize the fracture, and the Packers ultimately placed him on injured reserve. He returned to practice on a limited basis Dec. 2 and spent the last two weeks running the scout team, dazzling his teammates each day.

His initial return meant nothing, though, if Rodgers could not be medically cleared. He underwent a series of scans Monday to reveal the progress of his collarbone, and the interpretations of those scans by team physician Patrick McKenzie, several outside specialists and general manager Ted Thompson would determine whether the risk of further injury would be worth the reward of having Rodgers for a potential playoff run.

For a while it appeared bleak. Monday came and went with nothing but party-line comments by coach Mike McCarthy, who reiterated during a news conference that any decision on Rodgers’ future would be made by medical professionals. That Rodgers spun the football during pregame at Heinz Field or zinged passes in the Don Hutson Center was irrelevant, just as his assistant coaching efforts in Cleveland did nothing but reinforce his passion.

With Tuesday morning came additional silence, and social media wondered if the lengthy delay lessened Rodgers’ chances of returning. But the results of his scans were sent to specialists around the country, in multiple time zones, and the coordination of gathering various opinions certainly influenced the timeline. It’s quite possible that Rodgers’ surgeon in California, who at this point is unidentified, had a large say in the discussion.

If nothing else, the painstaking deliberation surrounding Rodgers’ health captures the importance of franchise quarterbacks, and in particular elite franchise quarterbacks. In breadth alone the discussion might have stretched to a dozen people: McKenzie, Thompson, McCarthy, the doctor who performed surgery, several outside experts and, of course, Rodgers himself. The crew needed 36 hours to probe the conundrum from various angles.

Everything started, of course, with the fairly black-and-white question of whether Rodgers’ collarbone had calcified since two plates and 13 screws were inserted to stabilize the fracture eight weeks ago. Enough time had passed for the bone to heal significantly, though perhaps not entirely, and therein lies the gray area for whoever reviewed the scans. How sturdy must his collarbone be to withstand the punishment of 300-pound defensive linemen or hard-charging linebackers?

There were also football questions that clouded the equation. At 7-6, the Packers must win out to have a realistic shot at the playoffs — and even then, they could fall short. Why risk Rodgers’ throwing shoulder when the Packers don’t control their postseason destiny? Surely that question irked the conscience of Thompson, whose conservative disposition is well-documented in Green Bay.

One has to wonder if the two-day uncertainty weighed on Hundley as well. With Sunday’s win over the Browns came the cleansing exhale of accomplishing his primary job: keeping the Packers in playoff contention until Rodgers was eligible to return. He achieved that feat with consecutive overtime victories that cast light on his moxie.

But narrow escapes against the Browns and Buccaneers bear little resemblance to the challenge of the next three weeks. To beat the Panthers (9-4), Vikings (10-3) and Lions (7-6) — two of which are on the road — the Packers will need reinforcements.

As it turns out, that’s just what the doctor ordered.”

Not often these days that we get to wake up to good news. Go Doug, go AR, go Pack, go America!

PWS

12/13/17

EXPOSED! — AILA’S JOHNSON SHOWS HOW “GONZO” INTENTIONALLY MISUSES DATA TO CREATE A FALSE ANTI-ASYLUM, ANTI-LAWYER NARRATIVE TO CONCEAL THE REAL GLARING PROBLEM DRIVING US IMMIGRATION COURT BACKLOGS — AIMLESS DOCKET RESHUFFLING (“ADR”) DRIVEN BY POLITICOS ATTEMPTING TO STACK THE COURT SYSTEM AGAINST DUE PROCESS AND TILT IT IN FAVOR OF DHS/ADMINISTRATION ENFORCEMENT INITIATIVES!!!!!!! — SURPRISE — By Far The Biggest Increase In Continuances Comes From DHS & EOIR Itself!

http://www.aila.org/advo-media/press-releases/2017/ag-sessions-cites-flawed-facts-imm-court-system

From AILA Executive Director Ben Johnson:

“Once again, the Attorney General cites flawed facts to castigate the immigration bar for the significant case backlog and inefficiencies in our immigration court system,” said Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director. “He blames immigration attorneys for seeking case continuances, disregarding the fact that continuances are also routinely requested by counsel for the government, or are issued unilaterally by the court for administrative reasons. In fact, although the report cited by the Attorney General indicates an 18% increase in continuances requested by respondents, that same report found a 54% increase in continuances requested by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and a 33% increase in ‘Operational-related’ continuances. That said, continuances are often a necessary means to ensure due process is afforded in removal proceedings. The number one reason a continuance is requested by a respondent is to find counsel. Other reasons include securing and authenticating documentary evidence from foreign countries, or to locating critical witnesses. And when the government refuses to share information from a client’s immigration file and instead makes them go through the lengthy process of a Freedom of Information/Privacy Act request, a continuance is often a client’s only lifeline to justice. For the AG to blame immigration lawyers for imagined trespasses is both malicious and wrong. We will not let that misinformation pass without setting the record straight.

“The immigration court backlog is a function of years and years of government spending on enforcement without a commensurate investment in court resources. Our nation would be better served if the immigration courts were an independent judiciary, free from the auspices of the Department of Justice, where every immigrant has access to counsel. Immigration court is not small claims court or traffic court; each decision has the potential to tear apart families or keep them together, to destroy businesses or build our economy, to send someone back to certain death, or bring hope for a new and better life. Immigration judges should make those decisions with all information at hand, without any undue influence or arbitrary case completion requirements. That is a goal we can all work toward.”

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Sure matches my observations from the latter part of my career at the U.S. immigration Court in Arlington, VA!

Probably 75% of the cases on my “Non-Detained Docket” were there NOT at the request of a respondent or his or her attorney. No, they were “mass transferred and continued” to my docket unilaterally by EOIR to fulfill “Border Priorities” established by the DOJ during the Obama Administration as an adjunct to changing DHS Enforcement priorities.

And, these weren’t “short continuances” to find a lawyer or prepare an application as might be requested by a respondent or a private bar lawyer. NO, these were “Merits Hearing” cases that had often been set for late 2016 or 2017 hearings before one of my colleagues, only to be “continued” by EOIR to my docket for dates many additional years in the future. Indeed, many of these cases were unilaterally removed by EOIR from “Individual Dockets” and “orbited” to my “Master Calendars” (arraignments) years in the future — indeed years after I would be retired. That’s because my docket was already completely full for several years when this chapter of ADR started.

And the same was true for my colleague Judge Lawrence O. Burman. Indeed, at the time I retired, Judge Burman and I were the ONLY judges hearing “nonpriority, non-detained cases” — even though those cases were BY FAR the majority of cases on the Arlington Court Docket. And, to make things worse, my “replacement” retired at the end of 2016 thus resulting in a whole new “round” of ADR. 

Talk about ADR driven by incompetent administration and improper political meddling from the DOJ. And, from everything “Gonzo” has said and I have heard about what’s happening at EOIR, such impropriety has become “normalized” under the Trump Administration.

No court system can run efficiently and fairly when the perceived interests of one of the parties are elevated over fairness, Due Process, equal justice, and reaching correct decisions under the law. No court system can run efficiently and fairly when control over day-to-day dockets is stripped from the local US Immigration Judges and Court Administrators and hijacked by officials in Washington and Falls Church driven by political performance objectives  not by practical knowledge and day-to-day considerations of how to construct and run a docket for maximum fairness and efficiency under local conditions (the most important of which is the an adequate number of pro bono lawyers to represent respondents).

NO OTHER MAJOR COURT SYSTEM IN AMERICA OPERATES THE WAY EOIR DOES! THAT SHOULD TELL US SOMETHING!

So, why is “Gonzo Apocalypto” being allowed to get away with misrepresenting the facts and intentionally running the Immigration Court system for the perceived benefit of one of the parties and against the interests of the other? There is a simple term for such conduct: Ethical Misconduct. Usually, it results in the loss or suspension of the offender’s license to practice law. Why is Gonzo above accountability?

PWS

12-12-17

PREVENTABLE HUMAN DISASTER: THE WANTON CRUELTY, WASTEFULNESS, & TOTAL STUPIDITY OF THE TRUMP/SESSIONS “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM PORTRAYED IN GRAPHIC HUMAN TERMS — The Damage To America Of Mistreating Our Families & Our Citizen Youth Will Long Outlive The Misguided Officials Carrying It Out!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/classic-apps/deported-divided-how-a-moms-return-to-el-salvador-tore-her-family-in-two/2017/12/08/70f81724-9a37-11e7-87fc-c3f7ee4035c9_story.html

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.

 

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

“Cruz Mendez, 30, made this trip in reverse when she was 18 years old, skipping her high school graduation to flee a neighborhood man who had harassed her in San Salvador. She was detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, released and allowed to join her brother in Virginia. Two months later, an immigration judge in Texas ordered her deported. Cruz Mendez says she never knew about the hearing.

In Fairfax, she was crowned beauty queen at a local Salvadoran festival and met Rene Bermudez, a hazel-eyed laborer who worked construction.

Steve was born in 2007, Danyca in 2012.

Late in 2013, police stopped Cruz Mendez for failing to turn on the lights on her minivan and charged her with driving without a license, an arrest that alerted federal agents to her old deportation order.

While President Barack Obama deported high numbers of undocumented immigrants during parts of his tenure, parents of American citizens with little to no criminal record were not priorities for expulsion. So officials released Cruz Mendez with orders to stay out of trouble and check in with them once a year.

But under President Trump, who campaigned on a promise to crack down on illegal immigration, anyone here without papers can be expelled.

Interior deportations — of people already living in the United States, as opposed to those caught crossing the border — have risen 37 percent since Trump took office. Deportation arrests of non-criminals such as Cruz Mendez — many, like her, with children who were born in this country and are U.S. citizens — surged past 31,000 from inauguration to the end of September, triple the same period last year.

On the May morning when she was scheduled for her yearly check-in, Cruz Mendez lingered in the apartment, which she’d decorated with family photographs, Danyca’s art projects and Steve’s citizen-of-the-month award from elementary school.

She considered the possibility of skipping the check-in, aware of other longtime immigrants who had been deported after similar appointments. But she could not fathom life as a fugitive. Worried, Bermudez warned her that she was going to be late.

“Why are you trying to turn me over so fast?” Cruz Mendez snapped in Spanish.

She eventually walked into the immigration agency’s Fairfax office, accompanied by advocates and loved ones. Agents took her into custody as her supporters shouted.

For a month, her husband and lawyers fought to free her. Steve tried, too, writing letters to Immigration and Customs Enforcement that were full of pleas and questions.

“Plz don’t deport my mom,” one of the letters said.

Who will take me to the doctor, the dentist? Who will take care of me and my sister? Who will I live with?

It didn’t work. On June 14, they sent her back. Bermudez and the kids filled a giant cardboard box with her dresses and shoes, pots and pans, and placed it by the front door, waiting for a courier to take it away.

Steve Bermudez, 10, wrote immigration officials in May to ask them not to deport his mother. For a month, Cruz Mendez’s husband and lawyers fought to free her and stop the deportation. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Steve looks out the window of the bedroom he used in his mother’s childhood home in El Salvador. The sign advertises fruit and vegetables his family sells. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
‘How can I go?’
Deportations can shatter a family or a marriage. In one study of the aftermath of six immigration raids, family income dropped an average of 70 percent. Another study, of U.S.-born Latino children, found that those whose parents had been detained or deported experienced significantly higher post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms than their peers.

“That child’s more likely to be poor. They’re more likely to be depend on public benefits,” said Randy Capps, U.S. research director for the Migration Policy Institute. “And then psychologically, you just don’t know. There could be an immediate impact; it could be a long time before that psychological impact shows up.”

In the Falls Church apartment, Steve and Danyca cried all the time after Cruz Mendez was deported. No one wanted to eat.

. . . .

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.“

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

Read Maria’s entire story of this grotesque failure of responsible government, common sense, and human decency at the link!

THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE

What kind of country abuses its youth  — our hope for the future —  this way? What kind of county wastes its human capital and potential in this manner? What kind of country empowers leaders who are intentionally cruel, immoral, dishonest, and stupid? What kind of country intentionally turns valued friends and positive contributors into potential disgruntled enemies?

This is the way that a once great nation transforms itself into an “overstuffed banana republic!”

But, it’s not yet too late to change the grim vision of “Christmas Future” being promoted by Trump, Sessions, Kelly, Homan, Bannon, Miller, and their cronies. We can resist the horrible policies of the Trump Administration in the courts of law and the courts of public opinion! Ultimately, totally unqualified officials like Trump, Sessions, and their White Nationalist cronies — who are plotting the end of America as we know it — can be defeated at the ballot box and removed from office.

But, there will come a “point of no return” when the damage done by these corrupt individuals and their enablers (both willing and unwitting) cannot be undone! Are we as smart, human, and capable of leaving behind selfishness and embracing decency and human kindness as Ebineezer Scrooge? Or will the Ghost prove to be the Prophet in this version of the Christmas Carol?

PWS

12-09-17

THE DAILY INTELLIGENCER: AMERICA’S “TOADY IN WAITING”

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/12/mike-pence-first-toady.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily Intelligencer – December 6, 2017&utm_term=Subscription List – Daily Intelligencer (1 Year)

Ed Kilgore reports for The Daily Intelligencer in NY Maggie:

“Most reactions to McKay Coppins’s vast new profile of Vice-President Mike Pence have focused on an October 2016 incident wherein the then-candidate for veep offered to replace Donald Trump at the top of the ticket in the wake of the Access Hollywood revelations, which for a moment looked likely to bring the mogul down.

But the far more enduring picture Coppins paints is very different: Mike Pence as a man who decided early on in his relationship with Trump that no one could look in the mirror at night and see a browner nose.

In Pence, Trump has found an obedient deputy whose willingness to suffer indignity and humiliation at the pleasure of the president appears boundless. When Trump comes under fire for describing white nationalists as “very fine people,” Pence is there to assure the world that he is actually a man of great decency. When Trump needs someone to fly across the country to an NFL game so he can walk out in protest of national-anthem kneelers, Pence heads for Air Force Two.

This willingness to serve as First Toady was evident in Pence’s initial interview — on a Trump golf course — as a potential running mate:

Pence had called Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump adviser, whom he’d known for years, and asked for her advice on how to handle the meeting. Conway had told him to talk about “stuff outside of politics,” and suggested he show his eagerness to learn from the billionaire. “I knew they would enjoy each other’s company,” Conway told me, adding, “Mike Pence is someone whose faith allows him to subvert his ego to the greater good.”

True to form, Pence spent much of their time on the course kissing Trump’s ring. You’re going to be the next president of the United States, he said. It would be the honor of a lifetime to serve you. Afterward, he made a point of gushing to the press about Trump’s golf game. “He beat me like a drum,” Pence confessed, to Trump’s delight.

This set the pattern for Pence, notwithstanding anything he might have contemplated during the brief but intense hours after the Access Hollywoodrevelations.

What makes Coppins’s take on Pence especially valuable is his understanding that sucking up to Trump was entirely in keeping with the Hoosier governor’s sense that God was working through the unlikely medium of the heathenish demagogue to lift up Pence and his godly agenda to the heights of power. Just as it has been forgotten that the Access Hollywood tapes nearly brought Trump down, it has rarely been understood outside Indiana that Pence was down and possibly out when Trump reached out to him to join his ticket.

The very fact that he is standing behind a lectern bearing the vice-presidential seal is, one could argue, a loaves-and-fishes-level miracle. Just a year earlier, he was an embattled small-state governor with underwater approval ratings, dismal reelection prospects, and a national reputation in tatters.

Pence’s apparent demise, moreover, came after his careful plans to position himself to run for president in 2016 went awry via his clumsy handling of a signature “religious liberty” bill and a fatal underestimation of the resulting backlash from the business community.

All of a sudden, he was lifted from this slough of despond and placed a heartbeat away from total power thanks to his ability to, as Kellyanne Conway put it, “subvert his ego” in the presence of his deliverer, whose own ego has no limits. He clearly has not forgotten this lesson of an ambition fed by self-abasement rather than self-promotion. And according to Coppins, he even has a theological justification for blind loyalty to Trump:

Marc Short, a longtime adviser to Pence and a fellow Christian, told me that the vice president believes strongly in a scriptural concept evangelicals call “servant leadership.” The idea is rooted in the Gospels, where Jesus models humility by washing his disciples’ feet and teaches, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.”

Usually the idea is to be the “slave” of one’s followers and of the less fortunate, not the slave of the billionaire POTUS, but Pence has the “humility” part down pat.

Pence’s presumed reward in this redemption story could, of course, extend beyond the power he exercises as one of the more influential vice-presidents in history, and as Trump’s designated mediator with the Christian right and with those Republican elected officials who aren’t themselves in the great man’s retinue. He would be the obvious successor to Trump in 2024, when he will still be a relatively youthful 65 — whether or not Trump wins a second term in 2020. And in the meantime, as in the panic-stricken hours after the Access Hollywood tapes were released, Republicans will look to Pence as a reassuring and unifying figure whenever Trump’s presidency is endangered, whether it’s by the Mueller investigation or his own erratic conduct.

Pence has indeed come a long way since he was airlifted out of what was probably a losing gubernatorial race to the role of worshipful sidekick to Donald Trump. And he’s earned his actual and potential power via a habit of slavish loyalty that he may consider godly, but others find infernally corrupt if effective.”

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I’ve called Pence a sycophant. But, sycophant, toady, you get the picture: spineless, and when you get beyond the disgustingly un-Christian and un-Jesus brand of intolerant religious zealotry that Pence passes off for Christianity (thus giving Christians a “bad name”) you get a guy that no thoughtful American should want for President.  Doesn’t, of course, mean that he won’t be President; just that he shouldn’t be.

Now, there is a school of thought around “The Swamp” that “Mikey the Toady” is “going down” along with The Trumpster in “Russiagate,” leaving us with the “Weaselly  Badger” Paul Ryan as President. Before you get too excited about that prospect, however, best to read the following article to understand that in addition to being a spineless coward who isn’t as smart as he and his backers think he is, Ryan is a “Joint Venture” (50-50 ownership for you non-corporate types) of the National Rifle Association and the Koch Brothers. Yeah, I know that this is a “fake news” satirical piece by none other than the New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz. Sadly, however, it contains more accuracy than a standard White House press briefing by Sarah Huckabee Sanders (a disturbingly low standard to be sure — where oh where is “Spicey” when we need him?). In the end, he could turn out to be just as damaging to America and the world as Trump and Pence.

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/koch-brothers-and-nra-reach-timeshare-agreement-over-ownership-of-paul-ryan

“WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a unique accord, the billionaire Koch brothers and the National Rifle Association have reached a timeshare agreement over the ownership of House Speaker Paul Ryan, representatives of both parties have confirmed.

Speaking on behalf of the Kochs, Charles Koch said that he contacted the N.R.A.’s executive director, Wayne LaPierre, with the timeshare proposal “so that we could all get the maximum enjoyment out of owning Paul.”

The arrangement is intended to minimize conflicts between the Kochs and the gun group that have arisen in the past when both co-owners have wanted to use Ryan at the same time, Koch said.

“I said to Wayne, ‘This is craziness,’ ” he said. “ ‘Let’s work something out where you get Paul half the year, and we’ll take him the other half.’ ”

Under the timeshare deal, the Kochs will have the exclusive use of Ryan during the months when tax cuts and environmental deregulation are put to a vote, while the N.R.A. will have him for the months when gun legislation is to be defeated.

Additionally, each co-owner is responsible for insuring that Ryan is well maintained and in good condition when the other’s period of using him commences.

Koch indicated that, if the timeshare agreement is a success, the two parties are likely to work out a similar deal for their longtime joint ownership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

So, what’s a self-respecting country to do? The answer is actually pretty obvious. Stop putting Republicans in elective office. No, that won’t cure all the country’s ills; indeed, just repairing the damage already done by this Administration could take decades.

But, at least we’ll have some folks in office who are working for the common good and trying to solve the nation’s and the world’s problems (yes, amazingly, they are interrelated) rather than actively making them worse every day. And, that would be a start!

PWS

121-08-17

WASHINGTON POST – “GOOD STUFF” ABOUT THE “REAL AMERICA” FROM LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Immigrants reflect what makes America great


A newly naturalized citizen holds an American flag during at the Atlanta office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2016. (Kevin D. Liles/For the Washington Post)
December 6
I applaud the strong statement in The Post’s Dec. 4 editorial “An attack on America.” I agree that the “president’s immigration policies are neither an embrace of legality nor in the national interest.”

This past year, I suffered a mild stroke, and through the swift actions of staff at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, I have thankfully recovered. The staff helped me cope and persist. The cultural diversity of the staff reflected the America I cherish. We are already great because of the gifts such people bring to our shores. Everyone in our country deserves the care I received, not just those of us who are privileged.

I am deeply appreciative to all who administered compassionate care with skill and consistency at that hospital and who represent the many sons and daughters of immigrants to whom we should be thankful — not only those who work in our fields, construction sites, kitchens and bathrooms but also those in the corridors and labs in our hospitals and by the bedside of a frightened patient.

I write this letter also on behalf of the hundreds of immigrants who fill the pews each week in the National Capital Presbytery, where I am a moderator, and who remind us of their gifts and deeply religious and faithful commitment to the well-being of all.

William Plitt, Arlington

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Yup, I had the same thoughts about the nice folks who took care of my Dad during his years in a retirement home and the great surgeon who repaired my broken ankle in Maine this summer.

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The ‘dreamers’ emergency


A woman holds up a sign outside the U.S. Capitol in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Tuesday in Washington. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)
December 6
Regarding Paul Kane’s Dec. 3 @PKCapitol column, “Republicans savor a win that could be swept aside by shutdown negotiations”:Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said there is no need for action on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program because it is not a crisis or an emergency. Really, is that his management style?Maybe that’s why Congress can come up with money for hurricane recovery but not to help people to move out of houses that flood repeatedly. Still, it seems that about 690,000 people not knowing what is going to happen to them in three months is at least as much of an emergency as the need for a deficit-financed tax cut for a nation with a booming economy and a $20 trillion debt.

Mike Zasadil, Silver Spring

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It’s all about priorities, Mike. For the GOP, greed, selfishness, and rewarding the rich are where it’s at. Human needs and the rest of the populace, not so much. It’s not going to change until those of us who believe differently throw the GOP out of power at the ballot box.

PWS

12-08-17

VICTORY DANCE! — ICE’S HOMAN SAYS CLIMATE OF FEAR HAS STEMMED BORDER CROSSINGS & PROVES UNRESTRAINED, ARBITRARY IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT WORKS! — “There’s no population that’s off the table,” he said. “If you’re in the country illegally, we’re looking for you and we’re looking to apprehend you.” — America Won’t Be Truly Safe Until The Last Cook, Gardner, Construction Worker, Nanny, Janitor, Tree Cutter, Mechanic, Handyman, Carpenter, Home Health Aide, Computer Programmer, Healthcare Worker, Lettuce Picker, Cow Milker, Landscaper, Lawnmower, Bricklayer, Roofer, Window Washer, Waiter, Sandwich Artist, Teacher, Minister, Coach, Student, Parent, Clerk, Fisherman, Farmer, Maid, Chicken Plucker, Meat Processor, Etc., Without Docs Is Removed And US Citizens Take Over All These Jobs!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/arrests-along-mexico-border-drop-sharply-under-trump-new-statistics-show/2017/12/05/743c6b54-d9c7-11e7-b859-fb0995360725_story.html

Nick Miroff reports in the Washington Post:

“The number of people caught trying to sneak over the border from Mexico has fallen to the lowest level in 46 years, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics released Tuesday that offer the first comprehensive look at how immigration enforcement is changing under the Trump administration.

During the government’s 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, U.S. border agents made 310,531 arrests, a decline of 24 percent from the previous year and the fewest overall since 1971.

The figures show a sharp drop in apprehensions immediately after President Trump’s election win, possibly reflecting the deterrent effect of his rhetoric on would-be border crossers; starting in May, the number of people taken into custody began increasing again.

Arrests of foreigners living illegally in the United States have surged under Trump. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers made 110,568 such arrests between inauguration and the end of September, according to the figures published Tuesday, a 42 percent increase over the same period during the previous year.

Tom Homan, ICE’s temporary director and Trump’s nominee to lead the agency, praised the president and gave a vigorous defense of ICE’s more aggressive approach.

“This president, like him or love him, is doing the right thing,” Homan told reporters at a news conference in Washington, accompanied by the heads of the U.S. Border Patrol and Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“A 45-year low in border crossings? That’s not a coincidence,” Homan said. “That’s based on this president and his belief and letting the men and women of ICE and the Border Patrol do their job.”

[How Trump is building a border wall no one can see]

Trump’s sweeping promises to crack down on illegal immigration fueled his presidential campaign and are at the center of his most ambitious domestic policy proposals, including construction of a wall along the border with Mexico.

Asked whether such a barrier was justifiable given its high cost and the decline in illegal immigration, DHS officials endorsed the president’s plan.

“In this society, we use walls and fences to protect things. It shouldn’t be different on the border,” said Ronald Vitiello, chief of the Border Patrol.

Apprehensions by Border Patrol agents peaked at more than 1.6 million in 2000 and began falling substantially after 2008. The previous low point was 331,333 arrests, during fiscal 2015. Experts have attributed the decline to tougher U.S. enforcement, improving job prospects in Mexico and long-term demographic changes that have driven down the country’s birthrate.

3:32
On the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump supporters wait for th
Still, the drop in border arrests is among the sharpest year-to-year changes on record, one that only casts more doubt on the wisdom of building a border wall, said Doris Meissner, senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think tank.

“It’s a throwback response to yesterday’s problems,” she said, arguing that the money would be better spent addressing what accounts for a growing share of illegal migration: families with children fleeing rampant violence and dismal poverty in Central America.

Border agents took more than 75,000 “family units,” classified as at least one child and a related adult, into custody during fiscal 2017. But the number of unaccompanied minors fell 31 percent, to 41,435.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

This has to be what true greatness looks like! Imagine a world without those pesky undocumented workers to support our economy, our society, and our “American” way of life! That’s making America Great Again!

I’m sure future generations will be inspired by Homan’s humanity and wisdom as they pick produce or pound shingles in 100 degree heat, clean toilets, empty urine bags for the elderly and handicapped, clean tables, wash dishes, limb trees, shuck oysters, schlep concrete blocks, dig ditches, and, horror of horrors, take care of their own children while working full-time. Man, that’s going to be “America the Great” just as Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Miller, Homan, and others envision it!

And, the best part: we won’t have to worry about any of that burdensome, nasty “globalism” and the unfair burden of global leadership! That’s because the Chinese, Indians, Canadians, Mexicans, and Europeans will be in charge of the world economy and the Ruskies will control world politics. So we can enjoy our little White Nationalist enclave modeled on post-revolutionary Cuba — life in the 1950’s preserved forever! Save those “Classic ’57 Chevies!”

Kinda sorry I won’t be here to enjoy it! But, then again, I already lived through the real 1950’s once — Cold War, Jim Crow, segregation, anti-semitism, racial covenants, no women doctors, lawyers, or execs, African Americans only welcome on the football fields and basketball courts of a few Northern colleges! Boy, it was great! But, not sure I want  to do it again, even to experience the pure, unadulterated joy of having “my Milwaukee Braves” win the 1957 World Series (before fleeing to Atlanta)!

On the flip side, at Homan’s “record pace” of “law enforcement,” he and his minions will have every single undocumented American resident removed from the U.S by 2080 — that’s if no more arrive in the interim. And, the really great thing — they and those around them (including U.S. citizen kids and family members) will be living in fear every moment for the next six decades! Now, that’s something of which we can be truly proud! Of course, this all assumes that the North Koreans don’t nuke us and the rest of the world out of existence first!

PWS

12-06-17

 

WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL RIPS TRUMP/SESSIONS “GONZO” IMMIGRATION AGENDA AS “ANTI-AMERICAN!”– White Nationalist Inspired Restrictionism Is Suppressing The Real Dialogue We Should Be Having!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-crusade-against-immigrants-is-an-attack-on-america/2017/12/03/0ac43dec-d624-11e7-b62d-d9345ced896d_story.html?utm_term=.71780d337509

December 3 at 8:10 PM

THE TRUMP administration likes to justify its multi-front crusade against immigration and immigrants as a revival of the rule of law, or a recalibration of the rules to favor disadvantaged American workers. In fact, it is largely a resurrection of xenophobia that coincides with a spike, nearly 50 years in the making, in the number of foreign-born residents living in the United States.

“For decades,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a speech in October, “the American people have been begging and pleading . . . for an immigration system that’s lawful and serves the national interest. Now we have a president who supports that.”

Mr. Sessions’s claims are specious. An embrace of legality is not the driving force behind the president’s decision to slash the admission of refugees to levels unseen in nearly 40 years. It is not what compelled Mr. Trump to endorse Republican legislation that would cut the annual allotment of green cards by a half-million, mainly by barring relatives of existing legal permanent residents of the United States. It is not why the Pentagon has considered ending a recruitment program that put skilled foreigners on a fast track for citizenship if they served in this country’s armed forces. And it is not why the administration favors ending the so-called diversity visa lottery program, under which immigrants are admitted from nations underrepresented in other programs.

Those programs were all legally enacted and, by and large, carried out in compliance with the law. The animating force in targeting them, as the administration is now doing, is an effort to turn back the tide of foreigners in our midst and exorcise what the president evidently sees as the demon of diversity.

The administration’s goal is not to reshape America’s immigration policy but to prune immigration itself. While Mr. Trump backs a GOP plan that would give preference to immigrants with skills rather than family connections in the United States, the effect would be not simply to shift the mix while maintaining the current level of legal immigration but to drastically reduce overall numbers of admissions.”

. . . .

Unfortunately, Mr. Trump has poisoned the debate on immigration so thoroughly that he has twisted the frame through which many Americans see the issue. His slurs — labeling Mexican immigrants as rapists and Muslim immigrants as terrorists — form the context from which the administration’s policies arise. They are affronts to U.S. tradition and values.

They’re also an assault on what Mr. Sessions refers to as “the national interest” and specifically the United States’ economic well-being. Legions of employers dependent on immigrant workers, especially to fill low-skilled jobs for which native-born Americans are too well educated and in short supply, will be harmed by choking off the flow of immigrant labor. With unemployment at a 16-year low and approaching levels unseen in a half-century, the Trump policies threaten to sap the economy by depriving it of the energy of striving newcomers who have fueled this nation’s ambitions since its founding.

It is within the president’s discretion to intensify efforts at deportation, though the humanitarian price — in shattered communities and families, including those whose children, born in this country, are Americans — is high. It is reasonable to take steps to tighten border security, though with illegal crossings already at a 40-year low and the Border Patrol’s staffing having already been doubled since the George W. Bush administration, a significant new investment along those lines faces the risk of diminishing returns. The administration may arguably have had a valid legal basis for ending the Obama-era program granting deportation protection for “dreamers” — undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children, often brought by their parents — though only a smallish minority of Americans believes they should be removed from this country.

But what value, other than sheer bigotry, is served by reducing the resettlement of refugees in the United States at a time when the number of displaced people worldwide has soared to staggering levels? In a country founded and in many respects shaped by refugees — a country that has resettled some 3 million refugees since 1980, more than any other nation — why does the Trump administration insist on turning its back on them now, when some 17 million people have been displaced from their homes across international borders around the world due to conflict or persecution, the highest number in a quarter-century?

It is clearly jarring to some Americans that the foreign-born portion of the overall population has nearly tripled since 1970. Many communities, towns and cities have been transformed culturally and socially by that surge, about a third of which was driven by illegal immigrants.

In some places, local government budgets have strained to provide services for immigrants, particularly public education, and the economic dislocation felt by many working-class Americans is a fact. But that dislocation is not mostly caused by immigrants. The United States is a more prosperous place today than it was before the surge in immigration, and immigrants have fed that prosperity — by helping to harvest America’s crops, build its cities, care for its young and elderly, and found some of its most buoyant companies.

. . . .The Trump administration’s crusade against immigration and immigrants is not just a quest to diminish the influence of the “other”; it is an assault on the nation’s future and prospects.”

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Read the complete editorial at the link.

This is largely (not entirely — I believe that there is a sound legal basis for continuing DACA, for example) what I’ve been saying all along:

  • Jeff Sessions is a bigoted, xenophobic, anti-American scofflaw whose disingenuous, self-righteous claims to be restoring the “Rule of Law” (that would be the “Jim Crow laws” of Sessions’s Alabama past) are totally outrageous;
  • The real purpose of the Administration’s xenophobic program is to divide and weaken America  by stirring up racial, religious, and ethnic animosities;
  • The “Gonzo,” arbitrary interior enforcement program serves no useful purpose other than playing to the “biases of the base” and the wishes of some (not all) disgruntled immigration enforcement agents for unbridled authority;
  • Our xenophobic anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies are costing us leadership and respect on the world scene (just this weekend, the Administration withdrew from the UN Global Migration Pact);
  • Our past strength as a nation and our future success and prosperity is based on immigration (and, the US clearly has benefitted from BOTH legal and “extra-legal” migration);
  • The Trump Administrations’s rhetoric and actions are preventing us from having the serious discussion we need: how we can better regulate (not cut off, diminish, or eliminate) future legal migration of all types to serve our national interest (and to be more “in tune” with “market realities” that drive much immigration), reflect our humanitarian values and the legitimate needs of current and future migrants, and encourage use of our legal immigration system, thereby diminishing the incentives for extra-legal migration.

As long as U.S. immigration policy remains in the hands of White Nationalist xenophobes like Trump, Sessions, Miller, and Bannon (yes, Stevie “Vlad the Lenin” has vacated his perch in the West Wing, but he continues to pull strings through his White Nationalist disciples Sessions and Miller and to stir the pot through his alt-right “news” apparatus Breitbart News) we won’t get the constructive dialogue and the humane, realistic “immigration reform” that we really  need. In other words, under current leadership, the real “Rule of Law” will continue to be diminished.

PWS

12-04-17

 

HON. JEFFREY CHASE DISCUSSES ASYLUM BASED ON FEAR OF HONOR KILLINGS!

https://www.jeffreyschase.com/blog/2017/12/2/honor-killings-and-particular-social-group

Honor Killings and Particular Social Group

The threat of honor killing may form the basis of an asylum claim.  While men may be targeted as well,1 honor killings are a gender-based form of persecution, as the underlying basis is the view in certain societies that a woman’s failure to strictly adhere to a rigid moral code imposed upon her brings such dishonor on her family in the eyes of the community that nothing short of her murder (at the hands of her own family) can restore the family’s “honor.”  The BIA has issued no precedent decisions relating to these types of claims; there are not many published circuit court decisions.  In a recent published decision, Kamar v. Sessions, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the BIA’s incorrect determination that a woman from Jordan who credibly fears an honor killing was not genuinely at risk, and did not show that the government of Jordan was unwilling or unable to protect her.  However, I would like to focus in this article on the particular social group aspects of such claims.

As I have stated in other posts, the BIA established a requirement in its 1985 precedent decision Matter of Acosta that members of a particular social group must share an immutable characteristic.  In a series of later decisions beginning with it’s 2006 precedent  Matter of C-A-, the BIA additionally required cognizable social groups to satisfy its particularity and social distinction requirements.  The former requires that there be a clear benchmark of who is and is not included in the group.  The latter requires that the society in question (i.e. not the persecutors alone) view the members as forming a distinct group.  It is not easy for a group to meet all three of these requirements.

However, I believe that women (and sometimes men) targeted for honor killings must be found to meet all three of these requirements, as they are inextricably built into the social code which gives rise to such horrific actions.  First, being targeted for an honor killing is clearly an immutable characteristic.  The entire reason the society in question requires an act as drastic as murder is that nothing short of eliminating the individual will undo the perceived shame on the family.  There is no lesser form of rehabilitation or restitution available.  Nor will the passage of time or the target’s departure from the society suffice.  USCIS itself states in its own training materials for asylum officers on gender-based persecution that “the family may go to great lengths to pursue women (and men) accused of violating the family’s honor.  Families employ bounty hunters, private detectives and social networks to pursue victims and searches may persist over years.  In cultures with extended family networks over a large geographic area, relocation may offer no real protection.”2  This is the definition of an immutable characteristic.

Additionally, the group satisfies the particularity requirement.  The code giving rise to honor killings (a term which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has called “an oxymoron if we’ve ever heard one”)3 specifies who must be targeted.  In societies in which such killings take place, if a family that adheres to a rigid moral code believes that a female member of the family has behaved in a way that tarnished its reputation to the point that an honor killing is required, the family cannot decide to kill, e.g., the third person that walks down the street, or a more distant relative, or the gardener to achieve the goal of restoring honor.  The code governing such killings is specific as to who must be targeted.

Furthermore, social distinction is a given in such cases, as it is the perception of the society in question itself that is entirely responsible for both the family’s perceived loss of honor and for the “need” to carry out the murder.  It is  the society’s moral code that has been violated by the group member’s behavior; it is the society that has distinguished the violator in a manner that brings shame on her family; and it is the society’s perception that the honor killing is intended to appease.  Therefore, while the asylum officer, immigration judge, or BIA may deny asylum for another reason, if credible, an asylum applicant who fears an honor killing should not be denied based on a failure to meet her burden of establishing membership in a cognizable particular social group.

In order to avoid the Board’s prohibition against the group being defined in a circular manner, it is best not to include the term “honor killing” in the definition of the proposed group itself.  The membership in the group is the reason the person fears persecution.  The definition should therefore generally not include the actual harm feared, because a person is not targeted for an honor killing because they are targeted for an honor killing- this is what the Board terms a circular argument.  However, a person may be targeted for persecution because they are a member of the group consisting of, for example, “women from country X whose behavior is perceived to have brought dishonor on their family by flouting repressive moral norms.”  The honor killing is the type of persecution that the applicant fears as a result of their membership in the group.

Copyright 2017 Jeffrey S. Chase.  All rights reserved.

Notes:

1.  On the topic of males targeted for honor killings, see Caitlin Steinke, Male Asylum Applicants Who Fear Becoming the Victims of Honor Killings: The Case for Gender Equality, 17 CUNY L.Rev. 233,(2013).

2.  See USCIS, RAIO Directorate, Combined Training Course, Gender Related Claims Training Module, p. 24 (Rev. 9/26/2011)https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/About%20Us/Directorates%20and%20Program%20Offices/RAIO/Gender%20Related%20Claims%20LP%20%28RAIO%29.pdf.

3.  Sarhan v. Holder, 658 F.3d 649 (7th Cir. 2011).

 

 

 

 

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Jeffrey S. Chase is an immigration lawyer in New York City.  Jeffrey is a former Immigration Judge, senior legal advisor at the Board of Immigration Appeals, and volunteer staff attorney at Human Rights First.  He is a past recipient of AILA’s annual Pro Bono Award, and previously chaired AILA’s Asylum Reform Task Force.

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My recent blog blog on this same case is here:

https://wp.me/p8eeJm-1IB

Instead of being on the wrong side of the law and history here, why hasn’t the BIA taken the lead in issuing a precedent establishing protection under the INA and the Conventions for these vulnerable individuals?

The was a time when the BIA had the courage to stand up for the rights of the oppressed and take a leadership role in recognizing legal protections.  See Matter of Kasinga, 21 I&N Dec. 357 (BIA 1996). Decisions like Kasinga both saved lives and promoted the fair and orderly administration of immigration, refugee, and asylum laws in accordance with Due Process.

Today’s BIA appears more interested in serving as an apologist for the extreme anti-immigrant policies of Jeff Sessions and the Trump Administration and helping the DOJ’s OIL justify legally questionable positions in the U.S. Courts of Appeals than in standing up for the Due Process and statutory rights of migrants. What’s the purpose of a supposedly deliberative body that seldom visibly “deliberates” and all too often fails to perform its SOLE FUNCTION of “guaranteeing fairness and Due Process for all?”

PWS

12-04-17

 

 

INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE: US ADMINISTRATION OF SHAME: “A year of unwelcome How the Trump administration has sabotaged America’s welcome in 2017”

https://www.rescue.org/article/how-trump-administration-has-sabotaged-americas-welcome-2017

“Since President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20, his administration has repeatedly implemented policies that pull the welcome mat from under the feet of refugees and immigrants seeking safety in the United States. The latest directive, announced in late October, institutes new vetting measures for refugees from 11 countries, effectively extending the travel ban that recently expired.

These developments are unbefitting America’s history as a safe haven for refugees. Democratic and Republican presidents alike have ensured that the United States supports refugees who seek liberty and reject ideologies opposed to American values.
U.S. leadership is needed now more than ever, when tens of millions across the globe face life-threatening situations. Yet the Trump administration continues to issue anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policies that endanger innocent people fleeing persecution and, inherently, weaken America’s reputation both at home and abroad.
Here is a timeline of the Trump administration’s immigrant policies during its first nine months.
Travel ban
By the numbers
President Trump is pulling back America’s welcome mat at a time of unprecedented global need. This year:
65 million
people worldwide are currently uprooted by crisis

More people have been forced to flee their homes by conflict and crisis than at any time since World War II.

Learn more about refugees
During his first week in office, President Trump instituted a travel ban that suspended the U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days and barred Syrian refugees from entry to the U.S. indefinitely. It also indiscriminately excluded any travel from six other countries—Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen—for 90 days.
Opponents of the travel ban challenged the directive in the courts. The Administration drafted a second travel ban as replacement: It allowed travelers who hold green cards entry the U.S.; removed Iraq from the list of restricted countries; and struck down the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.
Even with this second ban, an eventual Supreme Court ruling required the administration to rewrite its travel guidelines over the summer, stipulating that people who have a “credible claim of bona fide relationship” with a person living in the U.S. can enter the country. The new guidelines, however, raised more questions than answers. For example, “bona fide relationships” didn’t include grandparents or resettlement agencies until advocates further challenged the protocols. Meanwhile, thousands of vulnerable refugees who were not already on flights to the U.S. were left stranded.
“The human toll on families who have patiently waited their turn, done the vetting, given up jobs and prepared to travel is wrong,” said David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), in a July 13 statement. “After decades of leading with its gold standard resettlement program, this defective policy shifts the goal posts and sees America turn its back on—and break its promise to—the world’s most vulnerable.”
The Supreme Court scheduled hearings on the legality of the travel ban, but the expiration date for the directive rendering the case moot.
End of protections for Central American refugee children
On Aug. 16, the Trump administration ended the automatic parole option for children in the CAM program (formally called the Central American Minors Refugee and Parole program). Since December 2014, the CAM program has helped reunite children fleeing gang violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador with parents already in the U.S.
Many of these children avoided a perilous journey in order to reunite with parents and relatives—who are lawfully in the U.S.—and begin their new lives with refugee status protected under U.S. and international laws, notes Jennifer Sime, senior vice president of United States Programs at the IRC. “These children are no longer separated from their parents due to conflict and unrest, and are able to attend school and have a childhood free from violence.”
Terminating this lifesaving program, as this administration has done, is brutally tearing families apart—and in many cases, endangering children.
End of the “Dreamers” program
By the numbers
President Trump is pulling back America’s welcome mat at a time of unprecedented global need. This year:
45,000
is the record-low U.S. limit on refugee admissions

That number is less than half the refugee admissions cap set by President Obama last year.

Why the U.S. should accept more refugees
On Sept. 5, Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program, which created a fair and necessary safeguard for hundreds of thousands of young people—commonly known as Dreamers—brought to the U.S. as children.
This decision puts nearly 800,000 young people at risk of deportation from the only country they have ever known. It will have a painful and lasting impact on their lives, the fortunes of their employers, and the wellbeing of their communities.
“The devastating decision to discontinue DACA … unnecessarily tears families apart,” says Hans van de Weerd, vice president of United States Programs at the IRC. “To take away the promised protection of DACA without an alternative, from those who courageously came out of the shadows to apply to the program, bolster our economy and enrich our communities, is simply inhumane.”

Historically low refugee cap
On Sept. 27, the Trump administration announced that it would cap at 45,000 the number of refugees granted admission to the U.S. in Fiscal Year 2018. This number is a historic low—the annual cap on average has exceeded 95,000 since 1980—and comes at a time when more people are uprooted by war and crisis than ever before.
“This administration’s decision to halve the number of refugees admitted to America is a double-blow—to victims of war ready to start a new life, and to America’s reputation as a beacon of hope in the world,” says Miliband. “When America cuts its numbers, the danger is that it sets the stage for other nations to follow suit, a tragic and contagious example of moral failure.”
New vetting procedures
By the numbers
President Trump is pulling back America’s welcome mat at a time of unprecedented global need. This year:
15,000
refugees are actually likely to be admitted to the U.S., based on IRC projections

Vulnerable refugees are being harmed by bureaucratic red tape that won’t make Americans safer.

Why the existing vetting process already works
The travel ban officially expired on Oct. 24, but the Trump administration substituted the directive with a round of new vetting procedures for refugees entering the U.S. All refugees will now need to provide addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and other details – over the past decade – for themselves and, potentially, their extended family members.
Further measures essentially allow Trump to extend the ban for 90 days for refugees from 11 countries.
“This will add months, or potentially years, to the most urgent cases, the majority of which are women and children in heinous circumstances,” says Sime. “With a world facing brutal and protracted conflicts like in Syria, or new levels of displacement and unimaginable violence against the Rohingya, this moment is a test of the world’s humanity, moral leadership, and ability to learn from the horrors of the past.”
Stand with refugees

We need your help to fight back and remind Congress that the Trump administration’s refugee policies DO NOT represent American values.”

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More for Fat Cats, corporations, and the Trump Family Enterprises. Less for the needy and vulnerable. Eventually, there will be a reckoning for selfish, “me first,” policies of greed and disregard for the rights and humanity of others. I read it in a book.

PWS

12-02-17

 

 

 

LA TIMES: ICE DRAGNET SNARES US CITIZENS — Quick To Arrest, Slow To Release — The “Crime” Of Being Latino & Born In Mexico — How Would YOU Prove U.S. Citizenship If The ICEMEN Cometh?

https://flipboard.com/@flipboard/-how-a-us-citizen-was-mistakenly-targete/f-f3ae242702%2Flatimes.com

Joel Rubin & Paige St. John report for the LA Times:

“Sergio Carrillo had already been handcuffed in the Home Depot parking lot when an officer wearing a Homeland Security uniform appeared.

“Homeland Security?” Carrillo asked. “What do you want with me?”

Ignoring Carrillo’s demands for an explanation, the officer ordered the 39-year-old taken to a federal detention facility in downtown Los Angeles for people believed to be in the country illegally.

“You’re making a big mistake,” Carrillo recalled saying from the back seat to the officers driving him. “I am a U.S. citizen.”

The arrest last year was the start of a perplexing and frightening ordeal for Carrillo, who said in an interview with The Times that immigration officials scoffed at his repeated claims of citizenship and instead opened a case against him in immigration court to have him deported. It would take four days for government officials to concede their mistake and release Carrillo.

The case, say civil rights attorneys and other critics of the country’s immigration enforcement system, highlights broader problems with how people are targeted for deportation. They argue databases used by immigration officials to determine who is and isn’t in the country legally are beset by outdated and inaccurate information that leads to an unknown number of U.S. citizens being detained each year.

Since 2002, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has wrongly identified at least 2,840 United States citizens as possibly eligible for deportation, and at least 214 of them were taken into custody for some period of time, according to ICE records analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

Because ICE in January stopped releasing data on those it takes into custody, it is impossible to know how many citizens have been caught up in the aggressive push to increase arrests and deportations being carried out under President Trump.

In one such case, Guadalupe Plascencia complained that she was transferred from San Bernardino County jail to ICE custody in March despite having become a citizen two decades earlier. The 59-year-old hairdresser said she was released only when her daughter showed ICE agents her passport.

On Wednesday, attorneys for Carrillo announced a settlement deal in which the government will pay him $20,000 to resolve a civil lawsuit he filed over the arrest.

ICE officials could not be immediately reached Wednesday.”

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Read the complete article at the link. Many thanks to Nolan Rappaport for sending this my way.

If you read the complete story, you will see that even after learning of their likely mistake, ICE was in no hurry to correct it. In fact, it appears that but for the intervention of his lawyer, this individual might well have remained in detention and been scheduled for a removal hearing before an Immigration Judge. At no point does in this article does it appear that ICE was in any way apologetic for its mistake. Indeed, it took a civil lawsuit and a $20,000 settlement to get any satisfaction.

What if this U.S. citizen had been an “Anglo” dressed in a business suit? Would he have been treated the same way by ICE? I doubt it.

As I have pointed out before, Trump, Sessions, Miller and their White Nationalist cronies are in the process of constructing an internal security police force using ICE as the spearhead. Today, their targets are mostly people of color — be they migrants, legal immigrants, refugees, or U.S. citizens — and most in the “Anglo Community” seem happy to ignore what’s really happening to their neighbors and in their communities.

But, the “Day of the Anglos” might still come. After all, there is a long list of Americans who are not entitled to full legal protections according to “Jeff’s Law:” LGBTQ individuals, reporters, liberal counter demonstrators, those who challenge police brutality, voters in gerrymandered districts, women who want to exercise their Constitutional right to an abortion, non-Christians, etc. Who is going to speak up for YOUR rights if your Government won’t?

According to DHS propaganda, the “hard-line” policies of the Trump Administration have resulted in spectacularly diminished illegal border crossings and are discouraging individuals from coming here or staying under our legal system. As I’ve observed, some immigration agents have so little “real” law enforcement work to do that they can take time to engage in such “enforcement overkill” as staking out a kid’s hospital room or arresting and deporting working parents of U.S. citizens and local soccer stars who have no serious criminal records.

So, with everything under control, why does the Trump Administration need 15,000 additional immigration agents, a Border Wall, and an expanded private immigration detention Gulag? What’s the “ultimate purpose” here? Who’s going to speak up for YOUR legal rights when the Trumpsters show up at your door to take them away?

PWS

11-30-17

 

 

BOSTON COURT THWARTS ADMINISTRATION’S ATTEMPT TO REMOVE INDONESIAN CHRISTIANS WITHOUT DUE PROCESS!

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/judge-court-jurisdiction-indonesian-immigration-case-51418498

ALANNA DURKIN RICHER REPORTS FOR ASSOCIATED PRESS ON ABC NEWS:

“Dozens of Indonesians fighting deportation from the United States won another reprieve Monday when a judge ruled that a federal court has the authority to take up their case.

U.S. District Court Judge Patti Saris in Boston rejected the government’s argument that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction in the matter and that immigration officials should be allowed to immediately deport the Indonesians.

An attorney for roughly 50 Christian Indonesians, who fear persecution if returned home, called the judge’s decision “enormously significant.”

“It reaffirms the central role of the federal courts in ensuring that there is a fair process when someone’s life may be at stake,” said Lee Gelernt, of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “The court soundly rejected the government’s position that the federal courts lack authority to ensure that individuals have an opportunity to present their case before an immigration judge before they’re removed.”

The judge is blocking immigration officials from removing the Indonesians until the court considers their request for a preliminary injunction. She had initially put their deportation on hold until she could decide whether the court had authority to take up the matter.

The government already appealed the judge’s earlier decision to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and is likely to challenge her latest ruling.

Many of the Indonesians went to seacoast communities in New Hampshire, where they found jobs and raised families. In a deal brokered by Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, of New Hampshire, in 2009, they were allowed to stay as long as they regularly reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

But in recent months, they were told during their visits to the immigration office that they should buy plane tickets and prepare to leave the country. Some said they fear returning to Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country, due to an uptick in intolerance and violence against Christians and other minorities.

Shaheen said she’s “very encouraged” by the ruling.

“New Hampshire should continue to be a sanctuary to the Indonesian community that fled religious persecution,” Shaheen said in a statement. “Deporting these individuals will needlessly split families and communities, and put lives in danger. I’ll continue to make every effort to prevent these deportations so that the Indonesian community can continue to live peacefully in New Hampshire.”

A federal judge in Michigan ruled in July that a U.S. district court has jurisdiction in a similar immigration case. The government is challenging that ruling, which halted the deportation of 1,400 Iraqi nationals, including many Christians fearing persecution.”

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Yet another setback for the Trumpsters in their quest to deny legal and human rights to the most vulnerable among us. This one also appears on its face to be politically motivated. When will Christian Evangelicals finally wake up to the threat that this Administration poses to everyone in America?

PWS

11-27-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

. . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

11-26-17

 

WALL OF WORDS! – MANY SAY TRUMP’S HARD-LINE, ANTI-IMMIGRANT RHETORIC, ANTI-REFUGEE MOVES, & RANDOM INTERIOR ENFORCEMENT HAVE ALREADY DRAMATICALLY STEMMED THE FLOW OF UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS – THE “CLIMATE OF FEAR” WORKS! — So, Who Needs “The Wall” Or Thousands of New Agents?

http://www.newsweek.com/forget-border-wall-how-trump-has-shaped-immigration-without-it-713608

Nicole Rodriguez writes in Newsweek:

“Who needs a wall?

Less than a year into his presidency, Donald Trump is moving swiftly to reshape the nation’s immigration system in more concrete ways, curtailing illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border and sending a chill throughout Central America.

In a stark reversal from the Obama era, the administration has ramped up round-ups of undocumented immigrants regardless of age or criminal history, expanded detention space and stepped up workplace raids. Officials have also restricted the number of refugees allowed into the country while pushing to speed the deportation cases of hundreds of thousands of immigrants awaiting legal decisions.

Taken together, the policy changes have put the border wall debate on the backburner, advocates on both sides of the issue said.

“Expanded border barriers—whether you call them walls or something else—are not priority,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. that supports tighter controls on immigration.

RTSXKERA worker chats with residents at a newly built section of the U.S.-Mexico border fence at Sunland Park, U.S. opposite the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico January 26, 2017. JOSE LUIS GONZALEZ/REUTERS

“There’s no question the president has changed the tone of the debate and that caused a huge drop in illegal crossings,” Krikorian told Newsweek.

To be sure, the border wall has been bogged down by political obstacles, including the fact that Congress has not appropriated funds to build it. But the shifting sentiment is striking given how central the border wall was to Trump’s political support in last year’s presidential campaign. Its mere mention was an applause line at rallies and Trump himself said it was key to stemming the flow of illegal immigration.

But since his January inauguration, apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border have dipped, according to the most recent data from Customs and Border Protection. Agents apprehended 31,582 undocumented immigrants at the border in January, compared to 22,293 in August, the latest available data. April saw the year’s low, with just 11,125 apprehensions.

Adam Isacson, director for defense oversight at The Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights advocacy organization, said news of the administration’s actions is spreading through Central America and discouraging crossings. At the same time, a climate of fear in the United States is gripping undocumented immigrant communities.

“People are avoiding going outside to get their groceries. They have friends to come and do that for them,” Isacson said. “They’re missing a lot of work when they learn that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is in the area and kids are not going to school as much. There’s real fear there.”

Indeed, the immigration overhaul has come so fast that the ranks of federal immigration judges are pushing back on some elements. At issue are the administration’s plans to impose “numeric perfomance standards” on judges deciding deportation cases.

The White House has said the quotas are necessary to help reduce a backlog of more than 600,000 cases, but judges say the standards will hamstring their ability to decide complex, life-and-death cases.

“[It’s] completely at odds with the kind of independence a judge needs,” Dana Leigh Marks, a spokesperson for the National Association of Immigration Judges and a federal immigration judge for more than 30 years, told Newsweek.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Nolan Rappaport reminds me that he predicted that cutting off the “home free magnet” in the interior would have a dramatic deterrent effect on illegal migration.

On the other hand, it remains to be seen whether having a system that relies on largely random enforcement to spread a climate of fear and loathing among a community of generally law-abiding, productive migrants, intertwined with citizens and legal residents, who are part of our communities is something that we’ll ultimately be proud of as a nation.

PWS

11-26-17

“REFUGEES” — A Poem From “BRIAN BILSTON’S POETRY LABOETRY — From Ideation to Poemification”

https://brianbilston.com/2016/03/23/refugees/

“REFUGEES

They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or me
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
Welcome here
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
They cannot
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way

(now read from bottom to top)”

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Thanks to our son-in-law Professor Daniel Barolsky of Beloit College for forwarding this!

PWS

11-25-17

 

THANKSGIVING 🦃🏈🍺🍽🍁SHOULD REMIND US OF OUR REFUGEE ORIGINS — But Trump & His White Nationalist Gang Have Distorted The Message!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/11/22/thanksgiving-is-an-annual-reminder-of-americas-refugee-origins/

Ishtar Tharoor writes in the Washington Post:

“For the Pilgrims, there was certainly a lot to be grateful for. Their radical brand of Puritanism, identified as “Separatism” because of its disavowal of the Church of England, left them vulnerable to fines, imprisonment and persecution in their home country. They spent more than a decade in exile in what is now the Netherlands, but suffered financially and feared they would be in danger if the political winds in the continent started blowing in a different direction. The preceding and following years in European history present a litany of religious massacres and pogroms.

So they set sail aboard a couple of ships, including one famously named the Mayflower, as early modern refugees seeking a better life in a different part of the world. President Barack Obama summoned that simple aspiration two Thanksgivings ago, when the mood in his country was decidedly hostile to the plight of Syrian refugees.

“Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims — men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families,” said Obama in 2015. “What makes America America is that we offer that chance. We turn Lady Liberty’s light to the world, and widen our circle of concern to say that all God’s children are worthy of our compassion and care. That’s part of what makes this the greatest country on Earth.”

Obama’s successor, President Trump, doesn’t quite seem to agree. He grandstands on a nationalist platform that looks darkly upon migrants and has sought to stanch the already thin flow of refugees into the United States. His erstwhile ideologue, Stephen K. Bannon, recently declared the United States is not a “nation of immigrants” — as the popular saying goes — but a “nation of citizens.”

That rhetoric shadowed Trump’s remarks at the traditional annual White House turkey pardoning ritual on Tuesday. “This Thursday, as we give thanks for our cherished loved ones, let us also renew our bonds of trust, loyalty and affection between our fellow citizens as members of a proud national family of Americans,” Trump said.

For the American right wing, the Thanksgiving story offers a different parable that has nothing to do with refugees. For decades, conservatives argued that a shift in farming practices toward private plots and away from communal farming was what saved the embattled Massachusetts colony from extinction. “So began the American recoil from collectivism,” noted Washington Post columnist George Will in 2006 in a piece that linked Thanksgiving to “the ascent of individualism.”

. . . .

Whatever the case, of course, there’s no happy ending for the indigenous people who attended the first Thanksgiving feast, bearing five deer hunted for the occasion. Contact with Europeans before the Pilgrims’ arrival had already led to smallpox eradicating whole communities. The years that followed would complete their dispossession and disappearance.

Strangely, at a time when the American far right decries the existential threat posed by refugees with supposedly fundamentalist religious convictions, they have no problem aligning with the country’s original migrants.“

 

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Read the complete piece at the link.

I absolutely agree with Tharoor that the Pilgrims fit squarely within today’s legal definition of “refugee.” Indeed, I granted a number of similar “religiously based” cases to Christians, Muslims, and other “20th and 21st Century Pilgrims.”

But, I can imagine someone like Jeff Sessions and some of the judges who work for him finding that the harm feared by the Pilgrims was “mere discrimination, not persecution;” or that it was “primarily economically, rather than religiously or politically motivated;” or that the Pilgrims were “firmly resettled” in the Netherlands. As one of my former BIA judicial colleagues used to say, there are lots of ways to deny asylum once you decide that’s the result you want.

We are, always have been, and always will be a “nation of refugees,” and there is nothing that the Trump-Sessions-Bannon-Miller White Nationalist crowd ultimately can do to change that.

But, among other things, I’m very thankful that I’m not a refugee in their world today.

Happy Thanksgiving,

PWS😎🦃🏈🍻🍁🍽

11-23-17