GONZO’S WORLD: SESSIONS’S LATEST MEMO ENCOURAGES DISCRIMINATION AGAINST THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY AND WOMEN BASED ON A BOGUS RELIGIOUS RATIONALE!

5https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/06/jeff-sessions-issues-directive-undercutting-lgbtq-protections?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

The Guardian reports:

The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, on Friday issued a sweeping directive that undercuts federal protections for LGBT people, telling agencies to do as much as possible to accommodate those who claim their religious freedoms are violated.

Trump substantially weakens Obamacare contraception mandate
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In response, one LGBT rights advocate called the directive a “license to discriminate” and “an attack on the values of freedom and fairness that make this nation great”.

Also on Friday, the Trump administration issued a new rule that substantially undermines women’s access to birth control under the Affordable Care Act.

The Sessions directive, an attempt to deliver on Donald Trump’s pledge to evangelical supporters that he will protect religious liberties, effectively lifts a burden from religious objectors to prove their beliefs about marriage or other topics are sincerely held.

A claim of a violation of religious freedom will now be enough to override many anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people, women and others.

The guidelines are so sweeping that experts on religious liberty called them a legal powder keg that could prompt wide-ranging lawsuits against the government.

“This is putting the world on notice: you better take these claims seriously,” Robin Fretwell Wilson, a law professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told the Associated Press. “This is a signal to the rest of these agencies to rethink the protections they have put in place on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

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Rebecca Isaacs, executive director of the Equality Federation, said in a statement: “This license to discriminate is an attack on the values of freedom and fairness that make this nation great. It opens the door for discrimination in the workplace and public services, flying in the face of the majority of Americans of whom over 70% believe laws should protect LGBTQ people from discrimination.

“The Trump administration’s ongoing attempts to undermine LGBTQ Americans’ ability to provide for themselves and their families without fear of discrimination highlights the urgent need for national nondiscrimination protections, which are supported by the vast majority of Americans.”

Trump announced plans for the directive last May in a Rose Garden ceremony, surrounded by religious leaders. Since then, religious conservatives have awaited the justice department guidance, hoping for greatly strengthened protections for their beliefs amidst a rapid national acceptance of LGBT rights.

Religious liberty experts said they would have to see how the guidance would be applied by individual agencies, both in crafting regulations and deciding how to enforce them. But experts said the directive clearly tilted the balance very far in favor of people of faith who do not want to recognize same-sex marriage.

“Except in the narrowest circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law,” Sessions wrote. “To the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance and practice should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity.”

The document lays the groundwork for legal positions the Trump administration intends to take in religious freedom cases, envisioning sweeping protections for faith-based beliefs and practices in private workplaces and government jobs and even in prisons.

In issuing the memo, Sessions, a deeply devout Methodist from Alabama, is injecting the department into a thicket of highly charged legal questions that have repeatedly reached the US supreme court, most notably in the 2014 Hobby Lobby case that said corporations with religious objections could opt out of a health law requirement to cover contraceptives for women.

The memo makes clear the justice department’s support of that opinion in noting that the primary religious freedom law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, protects the rights not only of people to worship as they choose but also of corporations, companies and private firms.

The document also says the government improperly infringes on individuals’ religious liberty by banning an aspect of their practice or by forcing them to take an action that contradicts their faith. As an example, justice department lawyers say government efforts to require employers to provide contraceptives to their workers “substantially burdens their religious practice”.

The document also calls into question the Johnson amendment, which bars churches and tax-exempt groups from endorsing political candidates. Trump in May signed an executive order aimed at weakening the enforcement of that law, which he has said penalizes people for protected religious belief.

The justice department, in the document, says the Internal Revenue Service may not enforce the Johnson amendment “against a religious non-profit organization under circumstances in which it would not enforce the amendment against a secular non-profit organization”.

The department’s civil rights division will now be involved in reviewing all agency actions to make sure they don’t conflict with federal law regarding religious liberty.“

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Gonzo is trying to ram his own homophobic brand of Christian theology down the throats of the vast majority of Americans who don’t want to live in a Theocracy. Can you believe this this Dude has the audacity to lecture folks on the First Amendment? He is a walking perversion of true religious freedom! Religious freedom is the freedom of Americans in the LGBTQ community not to be harmed or denigrated by Sessions’s perverted minority interpretation of Christianity.

While Gonzo might claim to be a “devout Methodist,” he certainly practices a brand of Methodism and Christianity that I don’t recognize and I doubt that Jesus would either. Our Methodist Church “welcomes all people as they are” — even Sessions would be accepted if not his rhetoric of hate, discrimination, and intolerence. Jesus Christ was about love, self-sacrifice, inclusion, and forgiveness concepts that Jeff Sessions sadly has never understood and apparently never will. I feel pity for him as a human being, but that doesn’t entitle him to use his position to preach hate and intolerence.

Liz was right.

PWS

 

 

THE GRIFTERS: Yes, It’s Satisfying To See A True Scumbag Like Price “Outed!” But, Before You Get Too Excited, Remember That His Replacement “will serve at the altar of Trump, after all. The only requirement? Destroy what you can. Let everyone else suffer.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/30/tom-price-resignation-victory?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Ross Barkin writes in the Guardian:

“The sad truth is that Trump will probably replace him with a health and human services secretary who is just as bad at the job
For the Trump skeptics, the full-blown resisters, and everyone who prefers to see government remotely good, the downfall of Tom Price was a moment of true catharsis.

Donald Trump’s loathsome health and human services secretary was driven from office on Friday after a series of stunning Politico reports detailed how he racked up at least $400,000 in travel bills for charter flights. The extravagance was too much even for Trump, who in his past life as a failed developer wasted plenty of taxpayer money, and Price was told he had to go.

Before sobering reality sets in – nothing has really changed about Trumplandia – let’s remember all the ways Price represented the worst of the worst about Trump’s storming of Washington.

Tom Price resigns as health secretary over private flights and Trump criticism
A former rightwing congressman from Georgia and an orthopedic surgeon, Price spent most of his House tenure trying to destroy Obamacare and replace it with something far more draconian.
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As health and human services secretary, his dream fully realized, Price set about trying to undermine American healthcare as much as humanly possible without achieving a repeal of Obamacare. Price stopped trying to encourage people to sign up for insurance, ensuring costs would rise for everyone else. He obliterated Obamacare’s advertising budget.

Price backed a Trump budget that slashes funding for health and human services, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His vision of healthcare was rather simple: get any trace of the government out of there, any protections that might be offered for the poorest and sickest. Let the free market take care of the rest.

Now Trump will cast about for a worthy successor. Price, a multimillionaire, will feel shame for a few days and then go back to cashing out in the private sector, maybe as a healthcare lobbyist trying to wrangle goodies from his old colleagues. The waterline of the swamp will rise.

Health secretary Tom Price apologizes for taking private flights for work
The real question, once the celebration dies down from liberals and various journalists heartened by the power of the press to get their scalp, is how anything will change in Trump’s Washington.

Will a new HHS secretary bring some common sense to the role and realize stabilizing the healthcare markets is their chief job? Will he or she attempt to be anything resembling an administrator? Probably not.

Despite the conventional wisdom that Trump is a gun-slinging independent beholden to no party, he is fully indoctrinated in far-right, slash-and-burn thinking. He is a president for nihilist billionaires and Milton Friedman apostles. He will lurch to the left, but his grounding will stay true. We know that from his tax plan, which promises to give relief to the rich and no one else.

In another time now lost to history, both parties paid allegiance to the idea of governing. Democrats, in the post Franklin D Roosevelt-era, were the party of large, activist government, but Republicans understood that dismantling what they inherited made no sense.

Richard Nixon preserved the gains of Lyndon Johnson’s civil rights and Great Society legislation. Medicare and Medicaid remained.
Under a moderate Republican president – almost no moderates actually ran for president in 2016, and it’s increasingly unclear such a creature even exists – Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act would be understood for what it is: not socialism, but a mixture of government intervention and market-driven policies dreamed up by the rightwing Heritage Foundation and later pioneered by a Republican governor, Mitt Romney.

It is nothing approximating single-payer healthcare. It’s a start – but it’s also plenty flawed.

Many marketplaces are succeeding, but others are failing, in part because the Trump White House is encouraging their failure. The next best thing to repealing Obamacare, for the Republican party, is to let it rot without serious reform.

Federal subsidies must be increased and a public option should be introduced to compete with private insurers. The long-term goal, championed by Bernie Sanders, should be Medicare-for-all, universal healthcare, though we’re not there yet.
Price’s successor probably won’t think about any of these things. He or she will serve at the altar of the Trump, after all. The only requirement? Destroy what you can. Let everyone else suffer.”

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Why wouldn’t Price, who ripped off taxpayers to the tune of approximately $1 million, face some consequences beyond being permitted to resign?

Also, Donald Trump is not “destroying the soul of the GOP” (an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one). The modern GOP stands for the same corrupt agenda as Trump. That’s why they never really stand up to him. And, Tom Price, a Swamp Creature if  there ever was one, was a perfect representative of everything that is wrong with today’s GOP.

And with a truly miserable specimen of a human being like “Ayatollah Roy” and a slate of Bannon-inspired scummy White Nationalist candidates in the wings, the GOP has by no means “bottomed out.” The worst is yet to come.

PWS

10-01-17

 

 

FORMER SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD IN THE GUARDIAN: TRUMP’s WHITE SUPREMACISM IS PART OF THE GOP AGENDA!

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/19/republican-party-white-supremacists-charlottesville

Feingold writes:

“It takes approximately 30 seconds to send a tweet. A half hour to draft and release a statement. And the shelf life of both is only marginally longer. We should not commend Republican party elected officials who claim outrage on social media at Trump’s remarks, often without daring to mention his name. The phony claimed outrage becomes dangerous if it convinces anyone that there is a distinction between Trump’s abhorrent comments and the Republican Party agenda.

The lesson from Charlottesville is not how dangerous the neo-Nazis are. It is the unmasking of the Republican party leadership. In the wake of last weekend’s horror and tragedy, let us finally, finally rip off the veneer that Trump’s affinity for white supremacy is distinct from the Republican agenda of voter suppression, renewed mass incarceration and the expulsion of immigrants.

There is a direct link between Trump’s comments this week and those policies, so where is the outrage about the latter? Where are the Republican leaders denouncing voter suppression as racist, un-American and dangerous? Where are the Republican leaders who are willing to call out the wink (and the direct endorsement) from President Trump to the white supremacists and acknowledge their own party’s record and stance on issues important to people of color as the real problem for our country?

Republicans on the voter suppression commission are enabling Trump’s agenda and that of the white Nazi militia
Words mean nothing if the Republican agenda doesn’t change. Governors and state legislatures were so quick to embrace people of color in order to avoid the impression, they too share Trump’s supreme affinity for the white race. But if they don’t stand up for them they are not indirectly, but directly enabling the agenda of those same racists that Republican members were so quick to condemn via Twitter.

Gerrymandering, strict voter ID laws, felon disenfranchisement are all aimed at one outcome: a voting class that is predominantly white, and in turn majority Republican.

 

The white supremacist chant of, “you will not replace us,” could easily and accurately be the slogan for these Republican politicians. Their policies will achieve the same racial outcome as Jim Crow – the disenfranchisement and marginalization of people of color.

It is a sad day when more CEOs take action by leaving and shutting down Trump’s Strategy and Policy Forum, and Manufacturing Council, than elected officials take action leaving Trump’s “election integrity” commission.

Businessman are acting more responsive to their customers than politicians are to their voters. At the end of the day, which presidential council is more dangerous? Which most embodies the exact ideology that Trump spewed on Monday? A group of businessmen coming together to talk jobs or a group of elected officials coming together to disenfranchise voters of color?

Anyone still sitting on the voter suppression commission is enabling Trump’s agenda and that of the white Nazi militia that stormed Charlottesville to celebrate a time when the law enforced white supremacy.

If Republican lawmakers want to distinguish themselves from Trump’s comments, they need to do more than type out 144 characters on their phone. They need to take a hard look at their party’s agenda.”

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Read the full article at the link.

I’ve noticed the clear pattern going back to the beginning of the campaign: Trump says or does something totally outrageous; GOP leaders disassociate themselves and claim it doesn’t represent the “real” GOP (whatever that might be); shortly thereafter the same folks go back to supporting Trump and the GOP agenda directed at insuring White control. Nobody switches party, resigns in protest, or tells voters how incompetent and dangerous Trump is. Indeed, these guys are scared silly that they will actually turn off Trump’s White Nationalist base that insures them power even though it’s been many years since they racked up a majority of the popular vote in a national election. Trump then goes on to the next outrage, and the process repeats itself.

Someday, the majority of American voters might actually get a Government that represents their interests rather than those of a White Nationalist minority. But, not any time soon if the GOP can prevent it. So far, they are doing a bang up job of it.

PWS

08-19-17

 

 

 

 

THE GUARDIAN: HUMAN TRAFFICKERS LOVE TRUMP & “GONZO APOCALYPTO” SESSIONS — HERE’S WHY! –Trump’s crackdown “a gift to human traffickers!”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/28/trump-immigration-immigrant-deaths-people-smuggling

Tom Dart reports from Houston:

“Donald Trump’s immigration policies are likely to encourage migrants to risk more dangerous routes into the US, like the journey which this week ended with the death of ten people in a sweltering truck, border security experts have warned.

Dozens of people from Mexico and Central America were found packed into a non-air-conditioned cargo container in a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio at about 12.30am last Sunday.

The deaths are thought to have been caused by heat exposure, dehydration and suffocation. About 30 people were hospitalised.

Days later, at least four people – including two children – drowned trying to cross the swollen Rio Grande near El Paso.

As part of its campaign to crackdown on undocumented migration, the Trump administration wants to force so-called “sanctuary cities” to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, beef up frontier security and surveillance, and – eventually – build a wall along the border with Mexico.

But Alonzo Peña, a former deputy director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice), said simplistic strategies would not deter people desperate to join family or seek a better life. Instead, closing off simpler routes would prompt migrants to attempt more dangerous crossings.

“I call it an unfortunate collateral consequence,” he said. “They will put themselves in the hands of unscrupulous criminals that see them as just a commodity.”

Asked if a wall would help, Peña, now a consultant in San Antonio, said: “Absolutely not – it probably will contribute to more tragedies.”

He said building better binational relationships, encouraging information-sharing and more use of informants were key to breaking up networks of smugglers and traffickers.

In recent years, stepped-up frontier security has meant that smuggling activities once orchestrated by small, loosely organised enterprises are being run by bigger, more ruthless and profit-oriented criminal gangs with indirect links to drug cartels.

Packing many people into a truck is a profitable strategy for such smugglers. A large vehicle is a better hiding place than smaller alternatives and reduces the number of trips, making evading detection more likely at busy interior US Border Patrol checkpoints placed along highways near the frontier.

“The policies to enforce the border have the unintended consequence of strengthening transnational smuggling networks and the connection of business with transnational criminal organisations. There’s money there,” said Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, an associate professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley who studies migration and trafficking. “You are increasing the incentives for corruption on both sides of the border.”

. . . .

Texas this year passed a law banning so-called sanctuary cities – places that offer little or no cooperation with federal immigration agents. “Border security will help prevent this Texas tragedy,” John Cornyn, a US senator from Texas, wrote on Twitter.

But critics say that such enforcement does nothing to remove the “push factors” behind migration from Mexico and Central America, such as the lack of economic opportunity and violence by street gangs, security forces and crime groups.

A report published in March by the risk analysts Verisk Maplecroft termed Trump’s crackdown “a gift to human traffickers” by driving undocumented workers in the US deeper into the shadows, while a wall “would increase criminal trafficking fees, leaving migrants more deeply mired in debt and vulnerable to exploitation”.

But even this week’s deaths would not curtail demand, Correa-Cabrera said.

“They will still take trucks. They have been taking the journey and nothing has stopped them,” she said. “How many women are willing to take the journey even though they know there is a very high possibility of being raped?”

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Folks are going to keep coming and keep dying until we make the needed, realistic changes to our legal immigration system. The smugglers will up their profits and expand their operations, making and taking more money than ever from already stressed individuals seeking to come. And the bodies will continue to pile up as a testament to the failed White Nationalist agenda of Trump and Sessions.

What “gonzo enforcement” has done, however, is to cut or eliminate the incentive for folks to use the legal system by coming to the border and presenting themselves for protection or by turning themselves in to the Border Patrol. Knowing that their rights under the law and as human beings will not be respected by the likes of Trump, Sessions, and Kelly’s replacement will merely put more individuals at the mercy of the smugglers. The smugglers are likely to get so good that we won’t have the faintest idea anymore how many forks are coming without documents until they wind up dead in a parking lot or a field. And, I suppose that CBP will come up with some formula like “for every dead body we figure there are 1,000 who made it into the interior.”

PWS

07-28-17

LEGISLATION: SENATORS GRAHAM & DURBIN TAKE ANOTHER SHOT AT A BIPARTISAN DREAM ACT! — “When they write the history of these times, I’m going to be with these kids.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/20/trump-undocumented-immigrants-dream-act-congress

Sabrina Siddiqui reports for The Guardian:

“A top Republican senator has challenged Donald Trump to make “a moral decision” on the fate of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children, part of a revamped bipartisan push to grant permanent residency to so-called Dreamers.

“The moment of reckoning is coming,” South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham warned the president and his Republican colleagues at a press conference Thursday to unveil a new iteration of legislation known as the Dream Act.

Graham was joined by Illinois senator Dick Durbin, the Democratic cosponsor of the bill who first introduced legislation of the same name 16 years ago. Their proposal, which mirrors previous legislation that failed to pass Congress multiple times, would grant legal status and a path to citizenship to Dreamers if they were longtime residents of the US.

In a sign of tough odds facing the bill, the White House swiftly rejected the notion that the president would support such a measure.

“The administration has opposed the Dream Act and we are likely to be consistent in that,” said Marc Short, the White House legislative affairs director, in an off-camera briefing with reporters on Wednesday.

Graham acknowledged the president’s candidacy was rooted in a hardline approach to immigration but cast the debate as an existential question for the party that now controls the White House and both chambers of Congress.

“President Trump, you’re going to have to make a decision,” Graham said. “The campaign is over.”

“The question for the Republican party is, what do we tell people? How do we treat them?” he added. “Here’s my answer: we treat them fairly. We do not pull the rug out from under them.”

. . . .

An emotional Graham said he first became engaged on the issue of immigration at the request of his close friend John McCain, the Arizona senator who made public on Wednesday his diagnosis with brain cancer.

Graham said he spoke with McCain three times by phone on Thursday morning, in which his closest ally’s message amounted to: “No more ‘woe is me’.”

“He is yelling at me to buck up,” Graham said. “So I’m going to buck up.”

“I’ve stopped letting 30% of the people who are mad about immigration to determine how I behave … When they write the history of these times, I’m going to be with these kids.”

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Read the complete article at the link.
Senator Graham makes an excellent point. When the history of these times is written, long after we’re all gone, folks like Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Jeff Sessions, Steve Bannon, Steve Miller, Kris Kobach and many others, primarily from the GOP, are going to look every bit as bad as they actually are. And their supporters aren’t going to look good to future generations either.  Being on the wrong side of history is always a bad idea.
PWS
07-20-17

 

DUE PROCESS MOCKERY: DOJ’s Secret Gulag Courts Undermine Fairness — Individuals Duressed Into Surrendering Rights!

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/07/donald-trump-immigration-court-deportation-lasalle?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Othe

 reports in The Guardian:

“Behind two rows of high fencing and winding coils of razor wire, and surrounded by thick forest in central Louisiana, hundreds of miles from the nearest major city, stands a newly created court the Trump administration hopes will fast-track the removal of undocumented immigrants.

Hearings take place in five poky courtrooms behind reinforced grey doors where the public benches, scratched with graffiti, are completely empty. There is no natural light. The hallways are lined with detainees in yellow jumpsuits awaiting their turn before a judge. The five sitting judges were quietly flown in by the US justice department from cities across the United States and will be rotated again within two weeks.

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This is the LaSalle detention facility that, since March this year, has been holding removal proceedings for hundreds of detained migrants in courtrooms adjoining a private detention center, which incarcerates more than 1,100 men and women and has the highest number of prisoner deaths of any in America over the past two years.

The new setup is part of Donald Trump’s attempts to ramp up deportations by vastly expanding the arrest powers of federal immigration enforcement and prioritising more vulnerable groups of detained migrants in new court locations around the country. It has received little scrutiny since its introduction following a presidential order in January, and the Guardian is the first news organisation to observe proceedings here.

Inside courtroom No 2, during proceedings last Wednesday, Judge Arwen Swink, who usually sits in San Francisco, presided over a crowded morning docket. In an indication of the hastily arranged nature of the setup, the judge’s name was printed out on a piece of paper and stuck to a door behind her, the courtroom also functioning as a makeshift office, complete with a photocopier and in-trays attached to the wall.

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Marcos Ramirez Jr, sat alone before the judge, listening through a headset as a translator interpreted proceedings in Spanish. The court heard how the Guatemalan national had lived in America for almost four decades after crossing the border into the US in 1980. He had been with his wife in Alabama for 15 years and had no criminal history.

In April, Ramirez was apprehended by law enforcement for allegedly driving recklessly and without a license. The charges were enough to see him transferred to immigration detention. At a hearing earlier in May, he had been offered a bond of $7,000 but told the court on Wednesday he had no ability to pay it.

“It has been two weeks since I heard from my wife,” he said, his head cradled in his hands. “She has stage three cancer.” Ramirez had no idea if she was now in hospital or, by extension, whether she was alive or dead.

As things stood, without the money to pay for his bond, he would remain in detention until his full hearing, known as a merits hearing, where his chance of being ordered to be deported was much higher than if he had been released on bond and gone to trial at another non-detained court, according to studies of official data.

This building is operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and had never functioned as a court. Before March, the five rooms were used for video conferencing, allowing detainees to appear via video-link in preliminary hearings at an established immigration court (that now technically administers the court at LaSalle) in the small city of Oakdale 90 miles away.

A court room at the LaSalle detention facility.
A court room at the LaSalle detention facility. Photograph: Whiteconst.com

Lawyers and advocates say the new system increases the risk of due-process violations as cases move more rapidly through the system, at a remote venue that already has the lowest rate of legal representation for detainees in the US. The union representing immigration judges, meanwhile, argues that reassigning judges from around the US where courts are already chronically overburdened is simply a waste of resources.

The justice department’s executive office for immigration review (EOIR), which administers America’s immigration courts, declined to respond to a list of detailed questions about the new court.

The Guardian was also prevented from viewing the LaSalle court’s public docket, which had previously been printed out and displayed outside the courtrooms but removed on the day of the visit. The Guardian was instructed by a court officer, employed by private security firm GEO Group, that court clerks and administrative staff – public employees – would not take any questions for clarification. This meant that basic fact-checking, including the spelling of detainees’ names, could not always be completed.

Deportation without representation

In a number of ways, Ramirez’s story was typical of many of the 43 cases brought before judges that day.

Numerous hearings observed by the Guardian last Wednesday involved people who had been apprehended by law enforcement after allegedly committing minor traffic offenses. One individual, Osmani Radiya, appearing before Judge Patrick Savage, also on detail from San Francisco, had been arrested after accidentally reversing into a parked van allegedly under the influence. The father of three, two of his children US citizens, had no driver’s license or insurance documents and wound up in detention facing deportation.

Another, 21-year-old Diego Garcia, who appeared before Judge Margaret McManus (detailed from New York), had been picked up in Arkansas after driving without a license and providing a false name to police. “I’d like to apologise for what happened, it won’t happen again,” Garcia told the court. Both men were granted bond.

In the Trump administration’s first 100 days the number of immigration arrests have soared, with the sharpest increase among those with no criminal record. The LaSalle detention facility, which holds both men and women, serves as a major hub for arrestees from many of the southern states.

Paul Scott, an immigration attorney who has represented clients detained at LaSalle for nine years, characterised the new system as “taking a large mallet and trying to hit a small nail”.

“This fast-track system is now being backed up by less dangerous people who actually might have stronger cases [for relief from removal],” he said. “It’s not a very smart or precise plan.”

While the administration may have ramped up arrests, the number of people it has actually been able to deport has remained relatively consistent with the past two years of the Obama administration.

But Ramirez’s case was also typical in another manner: he had no lawyer representing him.”

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Read the complete report at the link.

This should be a wake-up call for all Americans who care about Constitutional due process, fundamental fairness, and national values. American’s largest Court System is held “captive” within the U.S. Department of Justice.

In reading the testimony of former FBI Director Comey today,  I was struck by his double-talk about an “independent” Department of Justice and FBI. As pointed out by Allen Dershowitz and others, the U.S. Constitution does not provide for an independent DOJ. Perhaps it should have, but it doesn’t. As an Executive Branch Agency, the DOJ is, and always has been, subject to political shenanigans. No “court system” operating within the DOJ can possibly provide fairness and due process in all cases.

Moreover, the DOJ has clearly established over the past 16 years its total administrative incompetence to run a high volume court system. 600,000 pending cases and not a clue of how they might actually be completed consistent with due process! Indeed, the officials at the DOJ who are “pulling the strings” of the Immigration Court don’t have the faintest idea of what happens at the “retail level” or how to operate a fair and efficient court system.

The Trump Administration’s misuse of the U.S. Immigration Courts to deny, rather than protect, due process is just the disgraceful end product of a “built to fail system.” America needs an independent U.S. Immigration Court.

Thanks to Nolan Rappaport for sending this my way.

PWS

06-08-17

 

 

 

LINDY WEST IN THE GUARDIAN: The Party of “No Care!” — With Trump & The GOP, There Are No Positives, Only Negatives!

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2017/mar/28/america-party-less-caring-21-century-republicans-gop?CMP=fb_gu

“I don’t know that America has ever seen a political party so divested of care. Since Trump took office, Republicans have proposed legislation to destroy unions, the healthcare system, the education system and the Environmental Protection Agency; to defund the reproductive health charity Planned Parenthood and restrict abortion; to stifle public protest and decimate arts funding; to increase the risk of violence against trans people and roll back anti-discrimination laws; and to funnel more and more wealth from the poorest to the richest. Every executive order and piece of GOP legislation is destructive, aimed at dismantling something else, never creating anything new, never in the service of improving the care of the nation.

Contemporary American conservatism is not a political philosophy so much as the roiling negative space around Barack Obama’s legacy. Can you imagine being that insecure? Can you imagine not wanting children to have healthcare because you’re embarrassed a black guy was your boss? It would be sad if it wasn’t so dangerous.

That void at the heart of the party, that loss of any tether to humanity, is breeding anxiety on both sides of the political divide. According to the Atlantic, Florida Republican Tom Rooney recently turned on his cohort with surprising lucidity: “I’ve been in this job eight years and I’m racking my brain to think of one thing our party has done that’s been something positive, that’s been something other than stopping something else from happening. We need to start having victories as a party. And if we can’t, then it’s hard to justify why we should be back here.”

Vindictive obstructionism, it seems, is not particularly nourishing for the soul.”

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West has a pretty good point.  Every day, the Administration repeals, cuts, removes, reduces, blocks, restricts, revokes, disses, insults, backs away from, abrogates, disputes, defunds, threatens, shrinks, deregulates, withdraws, withholds, threatens — only the rich and corporations “get” anything or are taken care of.  Everyone else is on his or her own with neither help nor encouragement from the Government. Or in the worst case, the most vulnerable among us, migrants, Muslims, the poor, gays, children, the sick, the disabled, are actually picked on, bullied, shamed, and blamed by Trump and his minions.

PWS

03/29/17

 

VOX News: Supreme Short List — Trump To Go With A U.S. Appeals Judge — Judges Gorsuch (10th C), Hardiman (3rd C), & Pryor (11th C) Top List!

http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/24/14372842/donald-trump-supreme-court-gorsuch-hardiman-pryor

“Now, Politico’s Eliana Johnson and Shane Goldmacher report that Trump has narrowed the choices to three, all of whom are on federal appeals courts:

Neil Gorsuch, 49, of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and Oklahoma)
Thomas Hardiman, 51, of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania)
William “Bill” Pryor, 54, of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Alabama, Georgia, and Florida)
Johnson and Goldmacher report that Gorsuch and Hardiman have an advantage and Pryor’s chances have waned.

All three finalists are white men appointed to their posts by George W. Bush, but they vary in background and in how contention [sic] their nominations would likely be.”

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Read full bios of all three judges at the above link.  Reportedly, after the Republicans “stonewalled” the Garland nomination, the Democrats are not going to be racing to complete the confirmation process for the late conservative icon Justice Antonin Scalias’s replacement. But, in the end, the Republicans have the votes to put President Trump’s nominee on the Court.  And, given that all three of these judges have been previously vetted and confirmed for prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals judgeships, barring any surprises, President Trump will get his choice.

Interestingly, I heard on a news report today that the average time lapse between formal nomination and confirmation for a Supreme Court Justice is 70 days.  Compare that the with the snail-paced hiring process for U.S. Immigration Judges who are Executive Branch employees and do not require Senate confirmation.

The U.S. Immigration Judge hiring process sometimes takes a year or more. While in the past judicial hiring was sometimes completed in 70 days or less, those days are long gone. What’s the deal here? Most of the recent Immigration Judge appointees have been from Government backgrounds and already had security clearances. And, background clearances, although important, are basically a ministerial/administrative process, not “rocket science.” With more than half a million pending cases and many judicial vacancies (which might or might not be frozen) there remarkably does not seem to be any sense of urgency in the DOJ/EOIR judicial hiring process. Go figure!

PWS

01/24/17

The Guardian Reports That Trump Will Issue Executive Order Restricting Refugee, Visa Admissions From Syria & Other Countries!

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/24/trump-immigration-executive-orders-refugees

The Guardian reports:

“Donald Trump was expected to sign several executive orders restricting immigration on Wednesday, at the Department of Homeland Security, according to several congressional aides and immigration experts briefed on the matter.

Trump’s orders were expected to involve restricting access to the United States for refugees and some visa holders from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, said the aides and experts, who asked not to be identified.”

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It’s always bad to be a refugee.  Nobody wants to be one.  But, it’s even worse in today’s world.

PWS

01/24/17