IMMIGRATION, AGRIBUSINESS, & THE AMERICAN SMALL CITY — A Complex Dialogue!

https://slate.com/business/2017/12/latino-immigrants-and-meatpacking-in-midwestern-towns-like-fremont-nebraska.html

Henry Graber reports for Slate:

“FREMONT, Nebraska—The past few years in this Nebraska town of 26,000 have been unusually fraught. “My neighbor is on the City Council. His wife does not wave to me,” explained John Wiegert, as he made his way to a political meeting at the public library this summer. “I could be on fire in the front yard, and she wouldn’t put me out with a garden hose.” Doug Wittmann, who had organized the get-together, wore a blue polo branded with his organization, a Tea Party–influenced group called Win It Back. “We’re divided in this country; we’re divided in this community,” Wittmann told me. “And a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Twenty minutes later, the City Council president, Scott Schaller, wearily addressed the gathering: “It seems like we’ve disagreed on more issues lately, over the past year, than we’ve ever disagreed on.”

A few dozen Fremont residents were crowded into a library meeting room to discuss the Costco chicken plant, a $300 million facility that broke ground this summer and will, starting in 2019, slaughter and ship nearly 400,000 birds a day, all raised by local farmers on strict contracts. The meeting was about eminent domain, but the plant had come to stand for much more than that. Its arrival had split this quadrant of the state along lines that defy traditional two-party politics. In favor is the pro-growth business and political elite, immigration-friendly liberals, and a considerably quieter contingent of Latino residents. Opposed is a curious coalition of aging nativists, good-government advocates, environmentalists, and advocates for workers’ rights.

When complete, the Fremont plant will enable Costco to control poultry production all the way from fertilization to the spits upon which rotisserie chickens will glisten in the chain’s hundreds of locations in the Western United States. Costco says the economic impact of the Fremont plant, hatchery, and feed mill will be $1.2 billion each year, adding more than 1 percent to Nebraska’s gross domestic product. It will transform Fremont, where as many as 1,000 new workers could buy their groceries and educate their children, and the surrounding region, where hundreds of chicken barns will sprout in the fields like mushrooms after the rain.

The battle over the Costco plant has served as a coda for a long war over the way the meat business—Fremont’s Hormel hog plant is the nation’s largest producer of Spam—has changed the town’s identity through the arrival of Latino workers and their families, who now number about 4,000 here. Fremont is the only city in the country that has successfully made it illegal to rent a house to an unauthorized immigrant. The ordinance failed in the City Council in 2008, passed in a referendum in 2010, was overturned by a district court judge in 2012, and was upheld by a circuit court in 2013. Fremont reaffirmed the ordinance in a second referendum in 2014, with 60 percent of voters in favor. Years of raucous debate split families and neighbors, inspired acts of vandalism, brought media attention from far afield, and drove hundreds of Latino residents to leave. Since the second referendum, the city has held an uneasy peace over the ordinance, which goes largely unenforced. Many Latinos who left have returned. But the City Council still sets aside budget money for the possibility they will wind up back in court. A similar, ultimately overturned ordinance cost a Dallas suburb $6 million in legal fees.

The themes that characterized that saga in Fremont resonate across dozens of Midwestern towns—Austin, Minnesota; Storm Lake, Iowa; Garden City, Kansas—where just about the only job and population growth in the past two decades has come from the meatpacking industry and the immigrant workers it attracts. Meat has remained invulnerable to the outsourcing that devastated Rust Belt manufacturing towns. In fact, deregulation and factory farming have brought on a meat boom, bringing good news to towns like these: more young people, more downtown businesses, and related jobs in law, finance, and health care. This is especially visible in places like Schuyler, Nebraska, a small city west of Fremont that’s now more than 70 percent Hispanic. “People had to make a decision: Embrace change or get rid of it,” said Susan Jacobus, a Fremont city councilor who moved recently from Schuyler. “And if you get rid of it, it’s going to cost you your town.”

The Costco plant will bring tax dollars and local spending from hundreds of new arrivals. But it will also reshape the environment of eastern Nebraska, with fertilizer from 500 chicken barns dumping nitrates and phosphates into the water supply of cities downstream. And the work itself, if history is any guide, will be low-paying, dangerous, and difficult. There’s a reason native-born whites don’t work in meat plants anymore.

Supporters of the housing ordinance claimed to defend law and order—they had no problem with legal immigrants, they often said—but they also complained about hearing Spanish spoken in the supermarket and worried about the burden that even legal immigrants placed on Fremont’s schools and social services. They didn’t see why Fremont had to change. If the ordinance was their defiant rebuke to the plants, the packers, and the politicians, the approval of the Costco plant was the opposite: proof that their world was indeed changing beyond their control.

Three years after affirming what may be the most anti-immigrant housing law in the country, Fremont is welcoming a plant that is all but certain to bring hundreds more immigrant and refugee families to town. The city’s political class, which by and large opposed the ordinance, considers this a no-brainer. Unlike many rural communities, Fremont’s population has not declined, in part because it’s now 15 percent Latino. But it is older than the state and the country: Nearly 20 percent of the population is 65 and older. “There’s some people that, regardless of what you do, it’s change, and they don’t want change, period,” said Fremont Mayor Scott Getzschman, who has helped approve the facility. “There’s nothing you can do to make them feel this is the right thing for Fremont.” But, he insists, there is no alternative. “You have to continue to grow, or you die.”

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

Seems like the immigrants and the local folks have a lot in common. They all want:

  • A decent place to live;
  • Economic and educational opportunities;
  • A better future for their kids.

So, what’s preventing them from working together for a better future?

PWS

12-06-17

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nonetheless, Republicans are staging a trickle-down revival.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

. . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

11-30-17

JRUBE IN THE WASHPOST: “A dangerous fool for a president,” supported by “useful idiots” & “Republican tribalists in Congress” are an “easy mark” for Putin & the Russians — Our Administration Is An Existential Threat To Our National Security!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/11/12/russias-mark-a-dangerous-fool-for-a-president/

Jennifer Rubin writes in the Washington Post:

“President Trump’s authoritarianism, narcissism and racism threaten our democracy, but his gullibility threatens our national security. A man so uneducated and incurious about the world is willing, like his followers, to buy any crackpot conspiracy theory that makes its way to him via the Infowars-“Fox & Friends” pipeline. On the world stage, that makes him a sitting duck for slick manipulators and experienced flatterers.

All that was much in evidence on Saturday. CNN reports:

“He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he flew from Da Nang to Hanoi in Vietnam. Trump spoke to Putin three times on the sidelines of summit here, where the Russia meddling issue arose. “Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’” Trump said. “And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.” “I think he is very insulted by it,” Trump added.

Could Trump actually believe that the ex-KGB operative is insulted by the accusation he pulled off a masterful plot, at very little cost, to tip the scales in an American presidential election and get the candidate of his choice? Certainly, Trump is not only gullible but also running scared as special counsel Robert S. Mueller III breathes down his neck.

. . . .

Trump and his followers are willing to believe anything because they want to believe anything that confirms their counterfactual world. Anyone who sides with their alternative universe (Sebastian Gorka, Vladimir Putin, Bill O’Reilly, Roy Moore) is a hero and a victim of those pro-immigrant, globalist, anti-Christian elites. Anyone who presents cold, hard facts (the mainstream media, scientists, allied governments, Democrats, #NeverTrumpers) that explode their dearly held myths is an enemy of the people.Yes, that’s the mental universe in which Trump and his ilk reside. It renders Trump susceptible — eager, even — to believe our enemies, even — especially! — at the expense of American values, security and interests. He’s putty in the hands of wily autocrats. He’s therefore the type of target that counterintelligence operatives dream of — an arrogant fool. Clinton Watts, a former FBI special agent on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, earlier this year explained:

Russian influence of Trump most likely falls into the category of what Madeleine Albright called a “Useful Idiot” – a “useful fool” – an enthusiast for Putin supportive of any issue or stance that feeds his ego and brings victory. Russian intelligence for decades identified and promoted key individuals around the world ripe for manipulation and serving their interests. Trump, similar to emerging alternative right European politicians, spouts populist themes of xenophobia, anti-immigration, and white nationalist pride that naturally bring about a retrenchment of U.S. global influence. By spotting this early, Russia could encourage Trump’s ascension and shape his views via three parallel tracks. First, Russia led a never before seen hacking and influence campaign to degrade support for Hilary Clinton and promote Trump among a disenfranchised American populace. As a “useful idiot,” Trump not only benefited from this influence effort, but he urged Russia to find Hilary Clinton’s missing emails – a public call a “Manchurian Candidate” would not likely make. Trump even fell for false Russian news stories citing a bogus Sputnik news story at a presidential rally – a glaring and open mistake that would reveal a true “Manchurian Candidate.”

What’s more, the Kremlin now has useful idiots in the persons of Fox News hosts, right-wing American bloggers, talk show hosts and Stephen K. Bannon (who is out recruiting like-minded Senate candidates) to buck up their pet U.S. president. Most of all, the Kremlin can count on the Republican tribalists in Congress who will explain away evidence and savage the president’s accusers to protect the GOP tribe and its leader — who just so happens to be an easy mark for our most formidable international foe.“

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Read the full op-ed at the link.

Pretty scary stuff. Putin must be walking on air. First, dumb US electorate votes for its own demise. Trump stokes racial and political divisions while trashing the environment, destroying government, offending allies, undermining health care, damaging the Constitution, shrugging his shoulders at random gun violence, and carrying on with plans to loot US Treasury for benefit of the rich and leave everyone else holding the bag. Then, Trump sets off for Asia where he cedes economic and moral leadership to China while enunciating a totally selfish “Third World, Me First” philosophy and absurdly defends his “puppetmaster” Putin.

All these years the “Legacy Soviets” thought they could only defeat America by a military buildup. Now, they discover they can do it without firing a shot or invading anyone just by using our own stupidity and the Alt-Right against us.

PWS

11-12-17

SEATTLE TIMES: THE CRUELTY OF TRUMP’S “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT FINALLY SINKS IN – EVEN IN “TRUMP COUNTRY!”

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/northwest/fear-regrets-as-pacific-county-residents-go-missing-amid-immigration-crackdown-police-chief-neighbors-kind-of-in-shock-after-immigration-arrests-in-pacific-county-immigration-crack/

Nina Shapiro reports for the Seattle Times:

“LONG BEACH, Pacific County — Named after a character in a cowboy book, Police Chief Flint Wright describes himself as pretty conservative.

A portrait of Ronald Reagan hangs in his office, along with photos of John Wayne, and his father and grandfather on horses — capturing the rural lifestyle of Pacific County, which curves around Willapa Bay in the state’s southwest corner.

He doesn’t talk about it much, but he voted for Donald Trump, helping Pacific County go with the Republican presidential candidate for the first time in decades. Among other things, he liked Trump’s promise to secure the borders. Economic migrants are not a problem in his mind — he’s seen how hard they work — but he wondered, “who’s coming with them?” Terrorists, he feared.

Then came the July arrest of Mario Rodriguez by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“I was kind of in shock, to be blunt with you,” Wright said.

Rodriguez, whose visa had expired, had lived in the area for more than a dozen years. He had worked in bilingual education and periodically tipped police to trouble spots.

Mario Rodriguez, detained by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement after his visa expired, has lived in the area for more than a dozen years and worked in bilingual education. He is now out on bond as his case goes through immigration court. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)
Mario Rodriguez, detained by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement after his visa expired, has lived in the area for more than a dozen years and worked in bilingual education. He is now out on bond as his case goes through immigration court. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)
 

“He was real pro-law enforcement,” the police chief said. “Shoot, anybody would like to have him as a neighbor.”

Trump, on the campaign, had talked about kicking out Mexican “drug dealers, criminals, rapists.” And that’s the kind of immigration crackdown a lot of people here were expecting.

“Yeah, we don’t want that element,” Wright said. But Rodriguez? The police chief couldn’t believe sending him back to Mexico would do anybody any good.

That kind of shock is reverberating throughout the county as Trump’s toughened immigration policy hits home. ICE has arrested at least 28 people in the county this year, according to numbers provided to the Sheriff’s Office.

While that’s just a small share of the roughly 3,100 ICE arrests overseen by its regional office in Seattle — which covers Washington, Oregon and Alaska — it represents a pronounced upward trajectory. Last year, ICE reported eight Pacific County arrests to the sheriff and for a long stretch of years before that, zero.

In a county of small, close-knit communities — Long Beach, population 1,400, is one of the largest — it’s noticed when someone goes missing. The number is magnified by those who have moved, gone into hiding or followed family after a deportation. People have lost neighbors, schools have lost students and businesses have lost employees.

. . . .

Shellfish farmers face many uncertainties, Sheldon explained.

The weather is a big one, periodically disrupting work on the water.

ICE is the new big storm, blowing in periodically to take essential workers.

Boats, working in the seafood industry, travel on Willapa Bay. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

“One minute they’re here. Another minute they’re not,” Sheldon said. “It’s not like there’s any warning.”

She and other employers say they get required paperwork for every worker — though documents might be fake — and don’t know who is illegally here.

“It’s been a huge impact,” said Kathleen Nisbet-Moncy, vice president of the Willapa-Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association, of ICE’s arrests. Many of the area’s two dozen companies are small businesses. Losing key employees is a big deal. One, she said, lost a worker of 25 years.

And the industry already faced a labor shortage.

Workers need to have an understanding of tides; they carry tide tables like Bibles, arranging their days accordingly. Some operate boats. Others shuck oysters or process fish, not easy when done quickly.

Paid by volume, they sometimes work seven day weeks, or days that take in both early-morning and late-night tides cycles.

“Don’t you want people to work?” Sheldon asked. “Why don’t we say you can’t sell cigarettes to illegal immigrants?”

She was joking. But things didn’t make sense to her.

It was hurting her business. So many people have been arrested or moved that she can no longer fill empty positions. She has had scale back orders and turn away customers.

“Tell him I say hi”

In Long Beach Culbertson Park, as after-school football practice got started, 10-year-old Danner Walters broke into tears.

He was on the sidelines talking about his friend Joel. A week before, Joel left for Mexico with his mom and siblings to rejoin his dad, who had been deported months before.

“We’ve been best friends since kindergarten,” Danner said.

. . . .”

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Read the complete, much lengthier, article, at the link.

Too bad folks don’t think through all of the implications before they pull the lever for immoral and irrational candidates like Trump and the GOP restrictionists. Truth is what the restrictionists don’t want you to hear or think about: the vast majority of the allegedly 11 million undocumented individuals here are law-abiding, productive members of the American community, doing jobs that help, rather than hurt, American workers, doing them exceptionally well, and raising or being part of part of “mixed families” with citizens, immigrants, and undocumented individuals all mixed together.

Removing them is a senseless and cruel waste of time and money. The only reasons for doing it have to do with racial and cultural bias — that’s why guys like Trump, Sessions, Bannon, and Miller have to come up with bogus economic and law enforcement rationales in an attempt to “rationalize” basically irrational policies.

Actually, the number of undocumented individuals in the United States is a boon to our country, our economy, and our culture. It shows that we remain a vibrant nation, and that we should have been admitting hundreds of thousands of additional legal immigrants annually. That’s why GOP proposals to restrict legal immigration are so wrong-headed.

Because we failed to do what we should have, the system basically “self corrected” largely by the operation of free market forces, but with some adverse effects like the use of smugglers, the exploitation of the undocumented, and the colossal amount of money wasted by “dumb” immigration enforcement and detention over many Administrations and Congresses.

But, it’s not too late to get it right by legalizing the productive, law-abiding individuals already here and expanding our legal immigration system to realistic levels that are more consistent with our needs as a nation. That will reduce or eliminate the “job magnet” and cut the business for smugglers without vast expenditures of law enforcement funds.

PWS

11-09-17

NEWSWEEK: How The Trump Administration’s Wrong-Headed Policies Threaten To Turn Silicon Valley Into The “Next Detroit!”

http://www.newsweek.com/2017/09/29/donald-trumps-policies-could-turn-silicon-valley-another-detroit-667662.html

Kevin Maney reports:

D“The end of the 1960s turned out to be Detroit’s apex. In the early 1970s, dubious U.S. economic and foreign policy led to disaster when the Middle East OPEC nations initiated an oil embargo. Gas became scarce and expensive, and Detroit was caught focusing on the wrong products—ostentatious gas-guzzlers—at the wrong time, giving Japanese makers of small cars an opening in the U.S. market. Pulitzer Prize–winning auto historian Joseph White wrote about two fateful mistakes that made things worse. First, “Detroit underestimated the competition,” he said. The likes of Toyota and Honda had become much more adept than industry executives realized. Second, the U.S. companies “handled failure better than success.” Detroit’s decades of triumph set up the hubris, waste and bad practices that came to haunt it.

From there, it was a short trip to loss of market leadership, layoffs, plant closings and a city that fell into a desperate decline.Think that could never happen to Silicon Valley? Like 1970s Detroit, Silicon Valley seems to be handling success rather badly. Look at the twisted mess at Uber and the culture wars tearing at Google’s guts. Insanely high valuations of private companies are starting to look like a perilous pyramid scheme Bernie Madoff might admire. High costs and ever-worsening congestion are making the San Francisco Bay Area nearly unlivable for all but the superrich. At the same time, much of U.S. tech is underestimating the competition, particularly from China and the European Union.Making it all worse, the Trump administration seems to be doing everything it can to help shove Silicon Valley off its pedestal. Trump’s policies on trade, immigration and investment are giving competing nations openings to steal important chunks of Silicon Valley’s global leadership, lure away talent and divert capital to other rising tech centers—even France. (You know, the country President George W. Bush once said doesn’t even “have a word for entrepreneur .”)

Related: Is the Silicon Valley Bubble about to Pop?The Silicon Valley tech industry isn’t going to suddenly crumble and vanish. Detroit’s auto industry didn’t disappear either. But there’s a clear demarcation point in the early 1970s, when Detroit’s worldwide hegemony ended. The CEOs, founders and wizards of Silicon Valley would be misguided to think they’re immune from any similar stumble off their pedestal.

. . . .

Most damaging of all may be the policies of the Trump administration, which has been implementing or proposing one policy after another that puts the industry at a competitive disadvantage.Earlier this year, the president initiated a review of H-1B visas for foreign workers, which tech companies rely on to bring in talent. More recently, the Trump administration delayed —and may kill—the International Entrepreneur Rule, which would make it easier for foreign company founders to bring their startups to the U.S. “At a time when countries around the world are doing all they can to attract and retain talented individuals to come to their shores to build and grow innovative companies, the Trump administration is signaling its intent to do the exact opposite,” said Bobby Franklin, president and CEO of the National Venture Capital Association.And in early September, Trump said he will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has allowed undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to stay. Now, they may be deported. Some are valuable employees of tech companies. Microsoft pledged to pay the legal expenses of any employees who face deportation as DACA ends. Microsoft President Brad Smith called Trump’s decision “a big step back for our entire country,” and the industry worries that it will further discourage talented foreigners from coming to the U.S.Other countries have started pursuing international talent like sharks circling surfers at dusk. “I myself hope that many of these engineers will come to China to work for us,” said Robin Li, CEO of Chinese tech giant Baidu. Canada’s minister of innovation, Navdeep Bains, launched a recruitment program, saying, “We want to be open to people.” French President Emmanuel Macron announced that tech talent can “find in France a second homeland.”Even more detrimental to U.S. tech are two other Trump decisions: pulling out of the Paris climate accord and dumping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement on trade with Asia.”

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Read the rest of the story at the link.

 

Government by the arrogant, ignorant, incompetent, biased, and unqualified has its downsides! It’s something that we’re all going to learn over the next four years, assuming that Trump doesn’t get us into a world-ending nuclear war before then. Perhaps one of the stupidest consequences of some very stupid policies: one of the main beneficiaries is likely to be China, one of our biggest tech competitors, and unlike Canada, also a potential hostile military threat! Trump and his cronies are dangers to our national security!

PWS

09-21-17

 

 

 

 

THE ECONOMY: What America REALLY Needs: More Legal Workers, No More “Gonzo” Immigration Enforcement — More Immigrant Workers Needed To Save Our Economy — And They Don’t Have To Be Rocket Scientists & PhDs: Construction & Service Industries That Support US Economy Need “Entry Level” Workers!

http://host.madison.com/wsj/business/wisconsin-businesses-grapple-with-a-growing-worker-shortage/article_3ef1000e-c18b-5f72-bbcd-720ee2456111.html#utm_source=host.madison.com&utm_campaign=%2Femail%2F&utm_medium=email&utm_content=26CD42536544E247751EC74095D9CEDC67E77EDB

The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison) reports:

A Madison restaurant has raised pay for entry-level chefs in recent years more than 50 percent to $14 an hour, but still closes on Sunday evenings — not because of a lack of customers, but because workers are scarce.

Those and countless other stories across Wisconsin are symptoms of a growing worker shortage that is expected to worsen over the next decade, according to Wisconsin State Journal interviews with dozens of employers, economists, advocacy group experts and state political and economic development officials.

“We are right at the brink of the crisis,” said Ann Franz, director of the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance in Green Bay. “There just aren’t enough human beings in Wisconsin with baby boomers retiring. Just driving down the road there are constantly signs hiring. I’ve seen them on billboards: ‘Come to our car dealership and buy our car. Come so we can give you a job.'”

Employers from a broad range of industries are reporting difficulty finding workers — and not only for skilled professionals such as nurses, welders and computer programmers, who require a strong education and training system, but also for workers with a high school diploma and some additional training at restaurants, farms, construction sites, factories, senior care facilities, retailers and other businesses.

“I would call it Wisconsin’s mega-issue,” said Kurt Bauer, president of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business group, which recently found 77 percent of members surveyed had difficulty finding workers, up from 53 percent two years ago. “All other issues, they may be important, but they are subordinate to workforce.”

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Read the rest of the article at the link.

In this context, terminating DACA, thereby depriving existing productive American workers of work authorization, is not only cruel, but also crazy. And supporting the RAISE Act — specifically designed by White Nationalist restrictionists to lower legal immigration while limiting the remaining opportunities largely to White, English speaking individuals with college degrees — is simply insane.

Legal immigration is good for America in many ways (beyond the economy) and we need more, not less, of it. Indeed, had we developed a more rational and realistic legal immigration system, most of the Dreamers and their families would have been admitted in an orderly fashion under the legal system years ago.

Guys like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions who worked as an effective legislative minority to block sensible immigration reform through parliamentary maneuvers, are now falsely claiming that deportations, “gonzo” arbitrary enforcement, and a reign of terror are the only solutions to a fake crisis that they largely created.

But, in fact, there is no crisis. Most of the 11 million migrants here without documentation are working hard, in jobs we need, part of American families, English speaking or learning English, and fitting well into American communities. Indeed, they are far less disruptive to society than are ICE’s arbitrary and fear spresding enforcement policies. That’s certainly the case here in Alexandria and Northern Virginia. And even more of them would pay taxes if we simply made it easy for them by granting legal status.

The relatively small minority of undocumented migrants who are engaging in anti-social behavior can be identified and removed with some reasonable readjustment of existing resources. For example, more money allocated to the U.S. Immigration Courts, training, technology, community-based policing, and focused “smart”enforcement instead of wasteful and inhumane detention, unfocused arbitrary enforcement, unneeded walls, and filling prisons with minor immigration violators. ICE prosecutors should be authorized and encouraged to use their discretion to prioritize their Immigration Court dockets with a focus on due process and bettering society while recognizing that judicial time will always be both precious and limited.

The current scare tactics and dire, but false, scenarios being pushed by the Trump Administration will neither aid our economy nor serve America’s real needs. They would make us both less safe and less great as a nation.

PWS

09-10-17

 

 

 

 

 

BRET STEPHENS IN THE NYT: DREAMERS & MIGRANTS (DOCUMENTED OR NOT) MAKE AMERICA GREAT!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/01/opinion/daca-trump-dreamers-immigration.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region%C2%AEion=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

Stephens writes:

“A common American conceit is that we attract brilliant foreigners because we have brilliant things: great universities, vast financial resources, a dynamic economy, high-tech. That gets things mostly backward. It’s because we have brilliant foreigners that we have those things in the first place. Google. Comcast. eBay. Kraft. Pfizer. AT&T. They all had immigrants as founders.

Overall, a 2016 study by the Partnership for the New American Economy found that 40 percent of all Fortune 500 companies were founded or co-founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Taken together they employed 19 million people and had revenues of $4.8 trillion.

Opponents of a liberal immigration policy often insist they welcome legal immigrants and only object to illegal ones. Rubbish. The immigration reform bill introduced in Congress this year by Republicans Tom Cotton and David Perdue and endorsed by Donald Trump aims to cut legal immigration by half.

Restrictionists also argue that we need to favor newcomers with “skills” and educational credentials. More rubbish. Jan Koum arrived in the U.S. from Ukraine in 1992 as a 16-year-old boy with his mother, living off food stamps. She worked as a babysitter. He later dropped out of college. In 2009 he came up with an idea for a mobile messaging app. Five years later Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $22 billion.

Should it make any difference to WhatsApp’s billion-plus users that Koum arrived in the United States legally? And if it turned out that he hadn’t, should he be required to leave the country, presumably so he can pay income tax — and create jobs — in his native Ukraine?

That would be self-defeating. But it’s the fate that may soon await 800,000 or so young people who were brought without visas to the United States as children, grew up in the country, in some cases only speak English, and now face deportation because the Trump administration seems poised to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that allowed them to stay in school or their jobs.

The nativist wing of the right thinks DACA is unconstitutional. That’s not clear, though it would be on firmer legal ground if Congress turned DACA into law by passing Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin’s Dream Act. In the meantime, allowing these young dreamers to stay is ordinary humanity and enlightened policy. If just 10 of those 800,000 turn into future Jan Koums, the program will have more than paid for itself.

 

It isn’t the whole truth to say that immigrants come to our shores because of our wealth. They also come in hope of being welcomed by a country whose astounding faith in human possibility includes a faith in them, however poor, unkempt — or even undocumented — they may sometimes be.

Lose that faith, and lose what’s best about America, too.”

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Read the complete op-ed at the link.

Stephens doesn’t know squat about climate change. But, he does understand the overriding value of immigration, whether documented or not, to America and our future as a great nation. He also exposes the bogus rationales employed by supporters of the RAISE Act to “dress up” their White Nationalist agenda.

PWS

09-02-17

DEPORTATIONS RISE UNDER TRUMP, BUT BORDER CROSSINGS ALSO CONTINUE TO TICK UPWARDS! — Read My OpEssay: “Due Process Disaster Is Brewing In The U.S. Immigration Courts — Is Anybody Paying Attention?”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/deportation-orders-up-under-trump-fewer-prevail-in-immigration-court/2017/08/08/d3f0a6a6-7c74-11e7-9d08-b79f191668ed_story.html?utm_term=.848b8a83c250&wpisrc=nl_daily202&wpmm=1

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

“Federal immigration courts ordered 57,069 people to leave the United States in the first six months of the Trump administration, up nearly 31 percent over the same period last year, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Additionally, 16,058 people prevailed in their immigration cases, or had them closed, allowing them to stay in the United States, according to the data, which tallied orders issued from Feb. 1 to July 31. That total marked a 20.7 percent drop from the 20,255 immigrants who prevailed at the same time last year.

In a news release, the Justice Department said the notoriously backlogged court system is making a return to the “rule of law” under President Trump, who has vowed to speed deportations. But officials did not say how many of the orders were issued in absentia, meaning to immigrants who did not attend their hearings and therefore could not immediately be deported.

The Washington Post reported last week that thousands of immigrants, some seeking protection from violence in their homelands, have missed their court dates in recent years, often because they did not know about them or were afraid to show up. Advocates for immigrants have also raised concern about the lack of legal aid for immigrants, especially for those in immigration jails.

Last month, the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges said courts are severely understaffed, with about 300 immigration judges juggling a quickly rising caseload. An estimated 600,000 cases are pending nationwide.

United We Dream, an immigrant youth-led organization, protested ICE raids at Lafayette Square near the White House in February. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

Unlike the traditional federal court system, which is independent of the executive branch of government, immigration courts are administered by the Justice Department.

That agency said that from Feb. 1 to July 31, judges issued 73,127 final immigration decisions, an increase of 14.5 percent over the same period in 2016.

Of those decisions, 49,983 were deportation orders, an increase of nearly 28 percent from the same period in 2016. The rest were orders to leave the United States voluntarily, a process by which immigrants generally face fewer barriers if they wish to apply to return to the United States in the future.

Federal officials attributed the increase in case completions to Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order dispatching more than 100 immigration judges to immigration jails across the country. More than 90 percent of cases heard in jails have led to orders to leave the United States. The department has also hired 54 new judges to work in immigration courts since Trump took office. More are being hired every month.

Dana Leigh Marks, an immigration judge based in San Francisco who heads the national association, wrote in Newsday last month that immigration courts should be separated from the Justice Department to ensure “judicial independence and protection from political influences.”

“More skilled court management, provided by experienced court administrators, rather than a law enforcement agency with priorities other than fairness and efficiency, would greatly enhance our ability to complete the tasks,” she wrote. “For example, cases would not be docketed to make political statements or serve as a show of force by the U.S. government.”

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

Due Process Disaster Is Brewing In The U.S. Immigration Courts — Is Anybody Paying Attention? 

by Paul Wickham Schmidt

U.S. Immigration Judge (Retired)

Meanwhile, according to CQ Roll Call, arrests of undocumented individuals at the Southern Border rose 13.1% in July, the second consecutive monthly increase. Overall, DHS’s CBP reports arresting more family units and fewer unaccompanied children during the first 10 months of FY 2017.

While CBP “fobs off” the increases as “seasonal,” they do cast some doubt on whether the Trump Administration’s “send ’em all back asap” enforcement approach is really going to decrease undocumented migration in the long run. It might simply be a case of professional human smuggling operations revising their methods and raising their prices to adjust to higher risk factors and the “market” taking time to adjust to the changing practices and price increases. Moreover, to date, neither increases in removal orders, some as noted by Horwitz undoubtedly “in absentia orders” issued without full due process protections, nor increases in the number of U.S. Immigration Judges has stopped the growth of the backlog of cases before the U.S. Immigration Courts, currently estimated at more than 610,000 pending cases!

Apparently, under the Trump/Sessions regime success in the U.S. Immigration Court System is no longer measured by improvements in due process and fairness or by insuring that the individuals coming before the court get the protections and relief to which they are entitled under the law. Nope! The “rule of law” in Immigration Court now appears synonymous with turning that Court System into a “deportation mill” — just another whistle stop on the “deportation express.”

In other words, we’ve now come “full circle” since 1983. Then, EOIR was created to get the Immigration Courts out of INS to enhance due process and overcome a public perception that the courts were merely functioning as adjuncts of INS enforcement. The U.S. Immigration Courts and EOIR essentially have been “recaptured” by DHS  enforcement.

EOIR has once again become an insulated “inbred” agency. Judicial appointments are made by DOJ politicos almost exclusively from the ranks of government attorneys, primarily DHS and DOJ prosecutors, just like when the “Legacy INS” ran the courts. Dockets are out of control, management is haphazard, technology is outdated and inadequate, and clerical staffing shortages are chronic. Staffing and docketing priorities are designed to accommodate enforcement priorities and to maximize removals, rather than to promote due process and fairness. Training and attention to the real “rule of law” are afterthoughts. Public service is a dirty word.

Morale among those at EOIR who care about the due process judicial mission has been steadily declining even as already sky-high stress levels continue to ratchet up. Numbers and removals have replaced fairness, professionalism, and unbiased decision making as objectives.

There are rumors that the Immigration Courts are going to be taken out of the DOJ and “reintegrated” into DHS to reflect their “true function” as part of the deportation mechanism. I think it’s unlikely unless Sessions becomes the new Secretary of DHS. But, really, what difference would it make? Sessions basically “reassumed” the immigration enforcement functions that once were in the Attorney General’s portfolio but were sent over to DHS when it was created after 9-11. Kelly merely signed off and nodded agreement to what Sessions told him to do.

A move by the DOJ apparently is afoot to revamp the judicial “evaluation system” to rate Immigration Judges more like “lower level DOJ attorneys” rather than judicial officials exercising independent judgment. Such bureaucratic ratings systems often elevate “productivity” above quality, value “following agency priorities” over exercising independent judgment, and serve to give the politicos at the DOJ more control and leverage over the day to day functioning of what is supposed to be a judiciary free from political influence or intimidation. Moreover, such ratings are often prepared by “supervisory judges” many of whom hear no cases and most of whom have little daily contact with the Immigration  Judges they nominally “supervise.” In a well-functioning judicial system, the local “Chief Judge” is a leader and problem solver, not a “supervisor” of her or his peers.

At this point, the Trump Administration clearly has no interest in fixing the festering problems in the U.S. Immigration Courts; they are determined to make things worse. While there is some bipartisan support in Congress for an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court, to date it hasn’t coalesced into any specific, politically viable legislation.

That basically leaves it to the Article III Federal Courts to decide whether or not to fix the Immigration Courts. One possibility is that they will decide that it is too much: just forget due process for foreign nationals, rubber stamp the removal orders, stay above the fray, and become another “whistle stop on the deportation express.”

A more optimistic possibility is that they will draw the line on the due process nightmare in the U.S. Immigration Courts being promoted by the Administration. But, that will make the Article III Courts a major “track block” on the deportation express. The trains will derail and pile up on the doorstep, and the Article III Courts can count on little if any help or resources from Congress in untangling the mess and getting things back on track. Understandably, from a practical if not a legal point of view, some Article III Judges aren’t going to want to go there.

One thing is certain — things can’t continue they way they are going now. Something has got to give! And, when it does, the Article III Courts will be forced to do some self-examination and decide whether they are going to be part of the problem, or part of the solution. Are life-tenured Article III judgeships in essence about securing life sinecures, or about taking a perhaps unpopular and labor intensive stand for Constitutional Due Process for all, even the weakest and most vulnerable among us? We’ll soon find out!

PWS

08-09-17

WSJ: H-1B Visa Demand Falls — Technological Changes Responsible?

https://www.wsj.com/article_email/use-of-h1b-visas-fell-before-donald-trumps-critiques-of-program-1496682157-lMyQjAxMTE3NTA3NjQwMTYxWj/

The WSJ reports:

“WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump has suggested he might find a way to cut the number of coveted H-1B visas awarded to outsourcing firms. But the companies appear to be heading in that direction all on their own, amid technological changes.

Outsourcers’ use of H-1B visas, which are reserved for highly skilled foreign workers, fell last year, before Mr. Trump won the Republican presidential nomination, new data show. The slide occurred alongside increasing criticism of the firms’ business model.

Mr. Trump has criticized the lottery that is now used, where companies all have equal chances at the scarce visas, and signed an executive order directing a review of the program. The order called for changes that would ensure visas are awarded to “the most skilled and the highest paid” applicants, to avoid crowding out American workers.

Six of the seven prominent Indian-based outsourcing companies that do work in the U.S. received fewer H-1B visas in 2016 than they did in 2015, and as a group their numbers dropped 37%, according to a new analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy, a think tank that backs increasing the total number of H-1B visas available. Most outsourcers based in the U.S. and elsewhere also saw declines.

For instance, H-1B visas awarded to India’s biggest outsourcer by revenue, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., plummeted by 56% to 2,040 last year from 4,674 in 2015. For Wipro Ltd, another major Indian firm, the number also dropped by more than half to 1,474 from 3,079 in 2015.

Other research from previous years shows that the use of H-1Bs by individual outsourcing companies peaked in 2012 and 2013, sliding ever since. Many expect that the number of visas given to outsourcers will decline again for 2017, but those numbers aren’t yet available.

Meanwhile, the number of visas awarded to some large U.S. technology firms, who have a different business model and compete with outsourcers for visas, increased last year. Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Apple Inc. all received more visas than they did in 2015, the new data show. Such companies typically use the visas to recruit employees with rare skills that attract higher wages than staff employed by outsourcers, and have come under less criticism.

Each year, 85,000 H-1B visas are available, and for the last several years they have been awarded by lottery conducted in April because of overwhelming demand.

Following this year’s lottery, Mr. Trump criticized the process and suggested more visas should go to high-paid jobs as opposed to a lottery where each application has equal chance. Because many outsourcing jobs are paid the minimum required to comply with certain rules—around $60,000 a year—many interpreted Mr. Trump’s comments as a warning to the outsourcers and a possible boon to big tech companies that pay high salaries.”

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Read the full WSJ article at the link.

I also blogged about the need for H1-B reforms yesterday.

 

http://wp.me/p8eeJm-VJ

PWS

06-06-17

NOT YOUR FATHER’S FOURTH CIRCUIT: Technology, Innovation, & A More Diverse Judiciary Change Tribunal Sitting In The Former Capital Of The Confederacy!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/after-a-ruling-on-trumps-travel-ban-all-eyes-are-on-the-4th-circuit/2017/06/02/b7a555f2-4545-11e7-bcde-624ad94170ab_story.html?utm_term=.825d55d2e2d7

Carl Tobias reports for the Washington Post.

“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit is a court in transition. The Richmond-based appeals court was long considered the most ideologically conservative of the 12 regional circuits, the intermediate appellate tribunals across the country that are the courts of last resort for 99 percent of appeals. When a case heard in Maryland and Virginia federal district courts is appealed, it goes to the 4th Circuit. This is the court that has resolved appeals involving Maryland gun laws and Virginia transgender students’ rights, for example.

And change has come to the 4th Circuit.

This was recently on display when the entire court — all judges in active service who did not have conflicts of interest — substantially affirmed a Maryland district court’s nationwide injunction that blocked enforcement of President Trump’s revised travel ban. Notably, a majority of the judges proclaimed that the Constitution “protects Plaintiffs’ right to challenge the Executive Order that in text speaks in vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.”

For decades, the 4th Circuit was a conservative stronghold. Seated in the former capital of the Confederacy, the court hears appeals in the Lewis F. Powell Jr. Courthouse, a building that served as the official headquarters for Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The circuit retains Southern manners. For instance, judges descend from the bench after oral arguments to shake the hands of counsel.

President George W. Bush tried to continue the court’s conservative legacy when numerous vacancies materialized in his administration. However, the White House insisted on pressing for confirmation of nominees whom many Democratic senators considered outside the mainstream, even after Democrats had captured a Senate majority in November 2006. Political machinations left four vacancies at the Bush administration’s close, enabling President Barack Obama to appoint numerous judges. The court now has nine members whom Democratic presidents appointed, five whom Republican presidents confirmed and Chief Judge Roger Gregory, whom President Bill Clinton recess-appointed and Bush confirmed.

Two recent developments in the travel ban appeal demonstrate change in the court. First, all of the active judges without conflicts heard the appeal, called an initial en banc proceeding, which is so extraordinary that the last one was decades ago. One judge, not the parties, suggested this procedure, and the court requested the litigants’ views on an en banc process, while a circuit majority favored it apparently because of the appeal’s exceptional public importance.

Another sign of change was the court’s April 27 announcement that the argument would be livestreamed. Allowing “cameras in the courtroom” has proved extremely controversial at the Supreme Court, which has never permitted live broadcast of arguments. Indeed, since-retired Justice David Souter famously declared “over my dead body.” A few lower federal courts allow broadcasts. The 9th Circuit began livestreaming all oral arguments in 2015.”

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Read the complete article at the above link.

As a U.S. Immigration Judge sitting in the Fourth Circuit, I credited the Fourth Circuit’s carefully-crafted asylum jurisprudence and overriding concern for due process and fairness for asylum seekers as reasons why asylum grant rates were relatively high in the Arlington and Baltimore Immigration Courts (of course, along with my judicial colleagues’ careful attention the what the Fourth Circuit was saying; new Fourth Circuit rulings were a frequent topic of our lunch conversations.)

Apparently, however, the word didn’t reach as far south as the Charlotte Immigration Court, where advocates regularly complain of the rights of asylum seekers being “steamrolled.” To date, the BIA has failed to step in and fix the Charlotte situation. And, I wouldn’t expect it to happen with Jeff Sessions in charge of the U.S. Immigration Courts.

PWS

06-04-17

Will Wilkinson In The WashPost: American Cities Are Much Better Places To Live & Work Than The “Trump Crowd” Will Admit — And They Outproduce “Red America” By Almost 2-1!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/03/17/why-does-donald-trump-demonize-cities/?utm_term=.f0beb0764db5

Will Wilkinson writes:

“But this is just to repeat that more and more of America’s dynamism and growth flow from the open city. It’s difficult to predict who will bear the downside burden of disruptive innovation — it could be Rust Belt autoworkers one day and educated, urban members of the elite mainstream media the next — which is why dynamic economies need robust safety nets to protect citizens from the risks of economic dislocation. The denizens of Trump country have borne too much of the disruption and too little of the benefit from innovation. But the redistribution-loving multicultural urban majority can’t be blamed for the inadequacy of the safety net when the party of rural whites has fought for decades to roll it back. Low-density America didn’t vote to be knocked on its heels by capitalist creative destruction, but it has voted time and again against softening the blow.

Political scientists say that countries where the middle class does not culturally identify with the working and lower classes tend to spend less on redistributive social programs. We’re more generous, as a rule, when we recognize ourselves in those who need help. You might argue that this just goes to show that diversity strains solidarity. Or you might argue that, because we need solidarity, we must learn to recognize America in other accents, other complexions, other kitchen aromas.

Honduran cooks in Chicago, Iranian engineers in Seattle, Chinese cardiologists in Atlanta, their children and grandchildren, all of them, are bedrock members of the American community. There is no “us” that excludes them. There is no American national identity apart from the dynamic hybrid culture we have always been creating together. America’s big cities accept this and grow healthier and more productive by the day, while the rest of the country does not accept this, and struggles.

In a multicultural country like ours, an inclusive national identity makes solidarity possible. An exclusive, nostalgic national identity acts like a cancer in the body politic, eating away at the bonds of affinity and cooperation that hold our interests together.

Bannon is right. A country is more than an economy. The United States is a nation with a culture and a purpose. That’s why Americans of every heritage and hue will fight to keep our cities sanctuaries of the American idea — of openness, tolerance and trade — until our country has been made safe for freedom again.”

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And, how have the cities and “urban elites” which support and help keep the rest of America afloat been rewarded?

PWS

03/20/17

 

My Message To Cornell Law — “Fight For Due Process” — Join The “New Due Process Army” — Due Process In Peril At The U.S. Immigration Court!

I spoke to an audience of approximately 120 members of the Cornell University community in Ithaca on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, as part of the Berger International Programs Lecture Series at Cornell Law.  Many thanks to Professor Stephen Yale-Loehr for inviting me.

Read my entire speech

“EXISTENTIALISM AND THE MEANING OF LIFE AT THE U.S. IMMIGRATION COURT – CORNELL LAW VERSION”

here:

EXISTENTIALISM — Cornell — AND THE MEANING OF LIFE AT THE U

Here are a few “Highlights:”

“Sadly, the Immigration Court System is moving further away from that due process vision. Instead, years of neglect, misunderstanding, mismanagement, and misguided priorities imposed by the U.S. Department of Justice have created judicial chaos with an expanding backlog now exceeding an astounding one half million cases and no clear plan for resolving them in the foreseeable future.”

“Nobody has been hit harder by this preventable disaster than asylum seekers, particularly scared women and children fleeing for their lives from the Northern Triangle of Central America. In Immigration Court, notwithstanding the life or death issues at stake, unlike criminal court there is no right to an appointed lawyer.”

“First, and foremost, the Immigration Courts must return to the focus on due process as the one and only mission. The improper use of our due process court system by political officials to advance enforcement priorities and/or send “don’t come” messages to asylum seekers, which are highly ineffective in any event, must end. That’s unlikely to happen under the DOJ – as proved by over three decades of history, particularly recent history.”

“This is hardly “through teamwork and innovation being the world’s best administrative tribunals guaranteeing fairness and due process for all!” These unusually low asylum grant rates are impossible to justify in light of the generous standard for well-founded fear established by the Supreme Court in Cardoza-Fonseca and the BIA in Mogharrabi, and the regulatory presumption of future fear arising out of past persecution that applies in many asylum cases. Yet, the BIA has only recently and fairly timidly addressed the manifest lack of respect for asylum seekers and failure to guarantee fairness and due process for such vulnerable individuals in some cases arising in Atlanta and other courts with unrealistically low grant rates.”

“Over the past 16 years, the BIA’s inability or unwillingness to aggressively stand up for the due process rights of asylum seekers and to enforce the fair and generous standards required by American law have robbed our Immigration Court System of credibility and public support, as well as ruined the lives of many who were denied protection that should have been granted.   We need a BIA which functions like a Federal Appellate Court and whose overriding mission is to ensure that the due process vision of the Immigration Courts becomes a reality rather than an unfulfilled promise.”

“So, do we abandon all hope? No, of course not!   Because there are hundreds of newer lawyers out there who are former Arlington JLCs, interns, my former student, and those who have practiced before the Arlington Immigration Court.”

“They form what I call the “New Due Process Army!” And, while my time on the battlefield is winding down, they are just beginning the fight! They will keep at it for years, decades, or generations — whatever it takes to force the U.S. immigration judicial system to live up to its promise of “guaranteeing fairness and due process for all!”

“Folks, the U.S Immigration Court system is on the verge of collapse. And, there is every reason to believe that the misguided “enforce and detain to the max” policies being pursued by this Administration will drive the Immigration Courts over the edge. When that happens, a large chunk of the entire American justice system and the due process guarantees that make American great and different from most of the rest of the world will go down with it.”

“Now is the time to take a stand for fundamental fairness! Join the New Due Process Army! Due process forever!”

 

PWS

03/10/17

 

 

 

Zoe Tillman on BuzzFeed: U.S. Immigration Courts Are Overwhelmed — Administration’s New Enforcement Priorities Could Spell Disaster! (I’m Quoted In This Article, Along With Other Current & Former U.S. Immigration Judges)

https://www.buzzfeed.com/zoetillman/backlogged-immigration-courts-pose-problems-for-trumps-plans?utm_term=.pokrzE6BW#.wcMKevdYG

Zoe Tillman reports:

“ARLINGTON, Va. — In a small, windowless courtroom on the second floor of an office building, Judge Rodger Harris heard a string of bond requests on Tuesday morning from immigrants held in jail as they faced deportation.
The detainees appeared by video from detention facilities elsewhere in the state. Harris, an immigration judge since 2007, used a remote control to move the camera around in his courtroom so the detainees could see their lawyers appearing in-person before the judge, if they had one. The lawyers spoke about their clients’ family ties, job history, and forthcoming asylum petitions, and downplayed any previous criminal record.
In cases where Harris agreed to set bond — the amounts ranged from $8,000 to $20,000 — he had the same message for the detainees: if they paid bond and were set free until their next court date, it would mean a delay in their case. Hearings set for March or April would be pushed back until at least the summer, he said.
But a couple of months is nothing compared to timelines that some immigration cases are on now. Judges and lawyers interviewed by BuzzFeed News described hearings scheduled four, five, or even six years out. Already facing a crushing caseload, immigration judges are bracing for more strain as the Trump administration pushes ahead with an aggressive ramp-up of immigration enforcement with no public commitment so far to aid backlogged courts.
Immigration courts, despite their name, are actually an arm of the US Department of Justice. The DOJ seal — with the Latin motto “qui pro domina justitia sequitur,” which roughly translates to, “who prosecutes on behalf of justice” — hung on the wall behind Harris in his courtroom in Virginia. Lawyers from the US Department of Homeland Security prosecute cases. Rulings can be appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which is also part of the Justice Department, and then to a federal appeals court.
As of the end of January, there were more than 540,000 cases pending in immigration courts. President Trump signed executive orders in late January that expanded immigration enforcement priorities and called for thousands of additional enforcement officers and border patrol officers. But the orders are largely silent on immigration courts, where there are dozens of vacant judgeships. And beyond filling the vacancies, the union of immigration judges says more judges are needed to handle the caseload, as well as more space, technological upgrades, and other resources.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly acknowledged the immigration court backlog in a memorandum released this week that provided new details about how the department would carry out Trump’s orders. Kelly lamented the “unacceptable delay” in immigration court cases that allowed individuals who illegally entered the United States to remain here for years.
The administration hasn’t announced plans to increase the number of immigration judges or to provide more funding and resources. It also isn’t clear yet if immigration judges and court staff are exempt from a government-wide hiring freeze that Trump signed shortly after he took office. There are 73 vacancies in immigration courts, out of 374 judgeships authorized by Congress.
“Everybody’s pretty stressed,” said Paul Schmidt, who retired as an immigration judge in June. “How are you going to throw more cases into a court with 530,000 pending cases? It isn’t going to work.”

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Zoe Tillman provides a well-reaserched and accurate description of the dire situation of justice in the U.S. Immigration Courts and the poorly conceived and uncoordinated enforcement initiatives of the Trump Administration. Sadly, lives and futures of “real life human beings” are at stake here.

Here’s a “shout out” to my good friend and former colleague Judge Rodger Harris who always does a great job of providing due process and justice on the highly stressful Televideo detained docket at the U.S. Immigration Court in Arlington, VA. Thanks for all you do for our system of justice and the cause of due process, Judge Harris.

PWS

02/24/17

World Trade: As the U.S. Disengages, Africa Turns To China!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/07/world/africa/africa-china-train.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Andrew Jacobs writes in the NYT:

“DJIBOUTI — The 10:24 a.m. train out of Djibouti’s capital drew some of the biggest names in the Horn of Africa last month. Serenaded by a chorus of tribal singers, the crush of African leaders, European diplomats and pop icons climbed the stairs of the newly built train station and merrily jostled their way into the pristine, air-conditioned carriages making their inaugural run.

“It is indeed a historic moment, a pride for our nations and peoples,” said Hailemariam Desalegn, the prime minister of Ethiopia, shortly before the train — the first electric, transnational railway in Africa — headed toward Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. “This line will change the social and economic landscape of our two countries.”

But perhaps the biggest star of the day was China, which designed the system, supplied the trains and imported hundreds of engineers for the six years it took to plan and build the 466-mile line. And the $4 billion cost? Chinese banks provided nearly all the financing.

. . . .

Mr. Hadi praised the Chinese for going all in after Western banks declined to help finance the nation’s glaring infrastructure needs.

“We approached the U.S., and they didn’t have the vision,” he said. “They are not thinking ahead 30 years. They only have a vision of Africa from the past, as a continent of war and famine. The Chinese have vision.”

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PWS

02/07/17