SENATORS REACH BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT, BUT TRUMP APPEARS TO HAVE KILLED ANY REALISTIC CHANCE OF DREAMER LEGISLATION FOR THE FORSEEABLE FUTURE – DREAMERS FUTURE LIKELY TO BE LEFT IN HANDS OF COURTS, LAWYERS, & THEIR OWN SURVIVAL SKILLS! – Tal Kopan & Daniella Diaz Report for CNN!

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/15/politics/immigration-bipartisan-plan-congress-daca/index.html

 

“Washington (CNN)A group of bipartisan senators struck a deal on an immigration compromise, but it’s unclear whether it will garner the 60 votes it needs to advance the legislation in the Senate.

The bill would offer nearly 2 million young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children before 2012 a path to citizenship over 10 to 12 years.
The plan would also place $25 billion in a guarded trust for border security, would cut a small number of green cards each year for adult children current US green card holders, and would prevent parents from being sponsored for citizenship by their US citizen children if the children gained citizenship through the pathway created in the bill or if the parents brought the children to the US illegally.
Even with the fanfare of its release, the prospects of the bipartisan bill, with the lead sponsors being Sens. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, and Angus King, I-Maine, looked dim on Thursday.
To get 60 votes, the bill would need all 49 Democratic votes and 11 Republicans — plus more Republicans for any Democratic defections.
At its release, the bill had eight Republican co-sponsors, but among the small handful of remaining Republicans who had voted for immigration reform compromises in the past, some were already skeptical on the bill or outright no votes.
Democrats on the left were still reviewing the bill, with some vote counters believing at least a few would defect. California Democrat Kamala Harris, a 2020 prospect, was still reviewing the bill, her office said. New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, a key member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in the Senate, was likely to support this bill, his office said.
Here’s a look at the breakdown for the votes on the bill:

Republicans voting no

Sen. Bob Corker (Tennessee) — “Senator Corker does not plan to support Rounds-King,” according to his spokesperson.
Sen. James Lankford (Oklahoma) — Will not support the bill.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) — Will not support the bill.
Sen. Thom Tillis (North Carolina) — Told supporters he will not support the bill.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia) — Will not support the bill.

Republicans voting yes

Sen. Mike Rounds (South Dakota) — Will support the bill.
Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) — Will support the bill.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) — Will support the bill.
Sen. Jeff Flake (Arizona) — Will support the bill.
Sen. Cory Gardner (Colorado) — Will support the bill.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — Will support the bill.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tennessee) — Will support the bill.
Sen. Johnny Isakson (Georgia) — Will support the bill.

Republicans leaning no

Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) — “Senator Hatch has spoken extensively about what he believes needs to be part of the path forward on immigration and is reviewing the current proposals. He wants to support a proposal that not only can pass the House, but that can be signed into law by the President,” his spokesperson said.

Republicans on the fence

Sen. Marco Rubio (Florida) — Said on Fox News he’s “open” to voting for the bill.
This story will be updated.

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

White House interference appears to have “tanked” the “great Senate debate” before it even began. Actually, pretty predictable.

PWS

02-15-18

INDEFENSIBLE: DHS’S “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT IS CRUEL, WASTEFUL, COUNTERPRODUCTIVE, AND ARBITRARY – IT’S THE VERY ANTITHESIS OF THE “RULE OF LAW” THAT TRUMP, SESSIONS, HOMAN & OTHERS AT THE DHS DISINGENUOUSLY TOUT IN WORDS WHILE MOCKING AND DISPARAGING BY THEIR DEEDS! – EXPOSE FRAUD, RESIST EVIL! – JOIN THE NEW DUE PROCESS ARMY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-takes-shackles-off-ice-which-is-slapping-them-on-immigrants-who-thought-they-were-safe/2018/02/11/4bd5c164-083a-11e8-b48c-b07fea957bd5_story.html

Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti report for the Washington Post:

“A week after he won the election, President Trump promised that his administration would round up millions of immigrant gang members and drug dealers. And after he took office, arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers surged 40 percent.

Officials at the agency commonly known as ICE praise Trump for putting teeth back into immigration enforcement, and they say their agency continues to prioritize national security threats and violent criminals, much as the Obama administration did.

But as ICE officers get wider latitude to determine whom they detain, the biggest jump in arrests has been of immigrants with no criminal convictions. The agency made 37,734 “noncriminal” arrests in the government’s 2017 fiscal year, more than twice the number in the previous year. The category includes suspects facing possible charges as well as those without criminal records.

Critics say ICE is increasingly grabbing at the lowest-hanging fruit of deportation-eligible immigrants to meet the president’s unrealistic goals, replacing a targeted system with a scattershot approach aimed at boosting the agency’s enforcement statistics.

ICE has not carried out mass roundups or major workplace raids under Trump, but nearly every week brings a contentious new arrest.

2:42
Trump said he would deport millions. Now ICE is in the spotlight.

The White House has said they are focused on deporting undocumented immigrants who “pose a threat to this country.”

Virginia mother was sent back to El Salvador in June after her 11 years in the United States unraveled because of a traffic stop. A Connecticut man with an American-born wife and children and no criminal record was deported to Guatemala last week. And an immigration activist in New York, Ravi Ragbir, was detained in January in a case that brought ICE a scathing rebuke from a federal judge.

“It ought not to be — and it has never before been — that those who have lived without incident in this country for years are subjected to treatment we associate with regimes we revile as unjust,” said U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest, reading her opinion in court before ordering ICE to release Ragbir.

“We are not that country,” she said.

Immigrants whose only crime was living in the country illegally were largely left alone during the latter years of the Obama administration. But that policy has been scrapped.

Those facing deportation who show up for periodic “check-ins” with ICE to appeal for more time in the United States can no longer be confident that good behavior will spare them from detention. Once-routine appointments now can end with the immigrants in handcuffs.

More broadly, the Trump administration has given street-level ICE officers and field directors greater latitude to determine whom they arrest and under what conditions, breaking with the more selective enforcement approach of President Barack Obama’s second term.

Trump officials have likened this to taking “the shackles off,” and they say morale at ICE is up because its officers have regained the authority to detain anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally.

1:36
ICE arrests chemistry professor in U.S. for 30 years

Syed Ahmed Jamal was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Jan. 24 after living in the United States for more than 30 years.

Officers are detaining suspects in courthouses more often, and ICE teams no longer shy from taking additional people into custody when they knock on doors to arrest a targeted person. 

“What are we supposed to do?” said Matthew Albence, the top official in the agency’s immigration enforcement division, who described the administration’s goal as simply restoring the rule of law. If ICE fails to uphold its duties to enforce immigration laws, he added, “then the system has no integrity.”

In addition to arresting twice as many immigrants who have not been convicted of crimes, ICE also arrested 105,736 immigrants with criminal convictions, a slight increase. That figure includes people with serious or violent offenses as well as those with lesser convictions, such as driving without a license or entering the country illegally.

ICE’s arrest totals in Trump’s first year in office are still much lower than they were during Obama’s early tenure, which the agency says is partly because it is contending with far more resistance from state and local governments that oppose Trump’s policies. And the president’s repeated negative characterizations of some immigrant groups have created an atmosphere in which arrests that were once standard now erupt as political flash points.

Obama initially earned the moniker “deporter in chief” because his administration expelled hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including people with no criminal records. But when Republicans blocked his effort to create a path to citizenship for millions living in the country illegally, Obama curtailed ICE enforcement, especially for those without serious criminal violations. Those measures incensed Republicans — and eventually helped to propel Trump into office.

An estimated 11 million people are living in the United States without legal residency, and the new era of ICE enforcement has shattered the presumption that their social and economic integration into American life would protect them.

Because immigration records are generally secret, it is difficult to independently verify how federal agents decide to make arrests. Immigrant advocates and ICE often clash over immigration cases, and both sides frequently present incomplete versions of an immigrant’s case.

Last month, a college chemistry instructor in Kansas, Syed Ahmed Jamal, was taken into custody on his lawn while preparing to take his daughter to school. He arrived from Bangladesh 30 years ago and built a life in the United States. More than 57,000 people signed an online petition asking ICE to stop his deportation, describing him as a community leader and loving father.

An immigration judge placed a temporary stay Wednesday on ICE’s attempt to deport him, but the agency’s account of Jamal’s case is starkly different. ICE said he arrived in 1987 on a temporary visa. He was ordered to leave the United States in 2002, and he complied, but three months later, he returned — legally — and overstayed again. A judge ordered him to leave the country in 2011, but he did not. ICE said agents took Jamal into custody in 2012. He lost his appeal in 2013.

At first glance, Albence said, many of ICE’s arrests may seem like “sympathetic cases — individuals who are here, and who have been here a long time.”

“But the reason they’ve been here a long time is because they gamed the system,” he said.

Defenders of the tougher approach applaud ICE’s new resolve and say it is U.S. immigration courts — not ICE — that are determining who should be allowed to stay. And they reject the idea that the longer someone has lived in the country, the more the person deserves to be left alone.

“As someone who has practiced law for 20-plus years, I find strange the idea the longer you get away with a violation, the less stiff the punishment should be, and that your continued violation of the law is basis for the argument that you shouldn’t suffer the consequences of that violation,” said Matthew O’Brien, director of research at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, which backs Trump’s approach.

No statute of limitations

The furor that has followed recent ICE arrests reflects a deeper disagreement — not unlike the fight over young, undocumented “dreamers” — about the consequences that those in the country illegally should face.

Living in the United States without legal status is generally treated as a civil violation, not a criminal one. And many Americans, especially Democrats, do not view it as an offense worthy of arrest and deportation once someone has settled into American life.

But in the hyper-politicized atmosphere of the immigration debate, where the merits of these arrests are increasingly litigated in public, partisans now argue over each immigrant’s perceived worthiness to remain in the country, even when a full grasp of the facts is lacking.

When a 43-year-old Polish-born doctor in Michigan who came to the United States at age 5 was arrested last month, supporters rushed to his defense. ICE justified its decision by saying the doctor, who was a permanent legal resident, had had repeated encounters with local police and two 1992 misdemeanor convictions for destruction of property and receiving stolen items, crimes that under U.S. immigration law are considered evidence of “moral turpitude.”

Others who committed crimes long ago and satisfied their obligations to the American justice system have learned there is no statute of limitations on ICE’s ability to use the immigrants’ offenses as grounds to arrest and deport them.

When Ragbir, the New York immigration activist, was detained last month during a scheduled check-in with ICE, his supporters accused the agency of targeting him for retaliation.

But Ragbir is the type of person who is now a top priority for ICE. After becoming a lawful U.S. resident in 1994, he was convicted of mortgage and wire fraud in 2000.

Ragbir served two years in prison, then married a U.S. citizen in 2010. Immigration courts repeatedly spared him from deportation, but his most recent appeal was denied, and ICE took him into custody eight days before his residency was due to expire.

Ragbir was so stunned that he lost consciousness, court records show, and was taken to a hospital.

The ‘sanctuary’ campaign

Former acting ICE director John Sandweg, who helped draft the 2014 memo that prioritized arrests based on the severity of immigrants’ criminal offenses, said the agency has resources to deport only about 200,000 cases a year from the interior of the United States.

“The problem is, when you remove all priorities, it’s like a fisherman who could just get his quota anywhere,” Sandweg said. “It diminishes the incentives on the agents to go get the bad criminals. Now their job is to fill the beds.”

Albence said the agency’s priority remains those who represent a threat to public safety or national security, just as it was under Obama. The difference now is that agents are also enforcing judges’ deportation orders against all immigrants who are subject to such orders, regardless of whether they have criminal records.

“There’s no list where we rank ‘This is illegal alien number 1 all the way down to 2.3 million,’ ” he said.

Albence said ICE prioritizes its caseload using government databases and law enforcement methods to track fugitives. But in the vast majority of cases, ICE takes custody of someone after state or local police have arrested the person.

This approach dovetailed with ICE’s enforcement emphasis on targeting serious criminals, and at first, the Obama administration and other Democrats embraced it. But activists protested that ICE was arresting people pulled over for driving infractions and other minor offenses at a time when Congress was debating whether to grant undocumented immigrants legal residency. Advocacy groups pushed cities and towns to become “sanctuary” cities that refused to cooperate with ICE.

ICE’s caseload far exceeds the capacity of its jails. In addition to the 41,500 immigrants in detention, according to the most recent data, the agency has a caseload of roughly 3 million deportation-eligible foreigners, equal to about 1 in 4 of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants nationwide.

More than 542,000 of those are considered fugitives, meaning they did not show up for their immigration hearings and were ordered deported, or they failed to leave the country after losing their cases. Nearly 2 in 3 were not considered a priority for deportation under Obama. They are now.

An additional 2.4 million undocumented immigrants are free pending hearings or appeals, or because the agency has not been able to deport them yet and the Supreme Court has ruled that such individuals cannot be jailed indefinitely. Nearly 1 million of this group have final deportation orders, including 178,000 convicted criminals.

They include the Michigan doctor and Ragbir, the New York activist.

“It’s true that all these people are deportable, but that doesn’t mean they should all have equal value,” said Cecilia Muñoz, a former policy adviser to Obama who helped shape the administration’s tiered enforcement approach.

“By crowding the courts with all kinds of people, you’re creating a resource problem,” Muñoz said.

“If you apply that logic to local police forces, you’re saying that every robber and rapist is the same as a jaywalker. And then you’re clogging your courts with jaywalkers.”

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

The Trump/Sessions/DHS “Gonzo” enforcement program that claims to be targeting criminals but actually busts lots of “collaterals” who are residing here peacefully and contributing to our society is a total sham. It has nothing to do with the “Rule of Law” or real law enforcement.

Unnecessary cruelty, wasting resources, arbitrariness, terrorizing communities, overloading already overwhelmed courts, and undermining the efforts of local politicians and law enforcement are not, and never have been, part of the “Rule of Law,” nor are they professional law enforcement techniques. They are part of the White Nationalist agenda to “beat up” on Latinos and other minorities, lump all immigrants in with “criminals,” stir up xenophobia, and throw some “red meat” to an essentially racist Trump/GOP “base.”

“By crowding the courts with all kinds of people, you’re creating a resource problem,” Muñoz said.

“If you apply that logic to local police forces, you’re saying that every robber and rapist is the same as a jaywalker. And then you’re clogging your courts with jaywalkers.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

As I say over and over, ICE under Trump is well on its way to becoming the most distrusted and despised “law enforcement” agency in America. That damage is likely to hamper their mission of legitimate enforcement well beyond the Trump era.

As some commentators have suggested, the only long-term solution might well be eventually dissolving ICE and turning the functions over to a new agency that will operate within the normal bounds of reasonable, professional law enforcement, rather than as a political appendage.

In the meantime, those who believe in American values and the true “Rule of Law,” should resist the out of control DHS at every step. While Trump and the GOP appear unwilling to place any limits on the abuses by the “ICEMEN,” Federal Courts have proved more receptive to the arguments that there are at least some outer limits on the conduct of law enforcement.

Join the “New Due Process Army” today!

 

PWS

01-12-18

 

ONLY WHITE LIVES MATTER IN TRUMP’S WORLD — DUE PROCESS IS FOR WIFE BEATERS, CORRUPT GOP POLITICOS, CHILD MOLESTERS, & TRUMP FAMILY MEMBERS — NOT SO MUCH FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS, UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN, AFRICAN AMERICANS, LATINOS, & HILLARY!

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/president-who-loves-making-false-accusations-suddenly-pleads-due-process_us_5a7f167be4b044b3821dd798

Sebastian Murdock reports for HuffPost:

“President Donald Trump, a man notorious for throwing around patently false accusations, has suddenly appealed for “due process” as top White House aides have been cast out over domestic violence allegations.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted that people’s lives “are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.”

“Some are true and some are false,” he tweeted. “Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused.”

The president was likely referring to the recent departure of White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned earlier this week after allegations from his two ex-wives surfaced, detailing that he was abusive to them. Colbie Holderness, Porter’s first wife, alleged that he punched her in 2005 and provided photos of bruises she says he inflicted on her.

And on Friday, White House speechwriter David Sorensen resigned after his ex-wife accused him of physically abusing her.

Trump himself, a man who once bragged about being able to grab women “by the pussy,” has been accused by more than 20 women of sexual misconduct and abuse. It might not come as a surprise, then, that Trump would be eager to protect those accused of sexual abuse rather than those who say they’ve been victimized by it.

“Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?” the president asked in a tweet. It’s a fair question, for sure. It’s also something Trump has previously not seemed to care about. Here are just a few times that “due process” didn’t matter to Trump.

The Central Park Five

In 1989, a group of black and Hispanic men were convicted but later exonerated in the rape of a female jogger in New York City’s Central Park.

As police coercion and false allegations ruined these men’s lives, Trump spent $85,000to place ads in four daily New York City newspapers to demand the innocent men be killed.

“Muggers and murderers should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes,” Trump wrote in the ad at the time.

Despite their names eventually being cleared, Trump still wouldn’t stop saying they were guilty.

“The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty,” Trump told CNN in 2016. “The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.”

President Barack Obama

For years, Trump has also promoted the conspiracy that former President Barack Obama is a Muslim who was actually born in Kenya and is lying about his identity. None of that is true.

Trump later retracted his false statement during his bid to become president. But the damage was done.

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“I say nothing,” Trump said during a 2016 debate with candidate Hillary Clinton regarding Obama’s long-form birth certificate. “I say nothing because I was able to get him to produce it.”

Last year, Trump falsely accused Obama of having ”wires tapped” in Trump Tower. The Department of Justice flatly denied the claim.

Hillary Clinton

Even after winning the election, Trump has been unable to stop focusing on Clinton. Trump has repeatedly said Clinton lied to the FBI regarding her private email server. Meanwhile, former Trump administration official Flynn pleaded guilty last December to misleading the FBI about talks he had with Russian officials.

“Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI, nothing happened to her,” Trump said last December. “Flynn lied and they’ve destroyed his life. I think it’s a shame.”

Former head of the FBI James Comey, who Trump eventually fired, told Congress in a July 2017 testimony there was “no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI.”

‘Treasonous’ Democrats

Just this month, Trump made the bold and outrageous accusation that Democrats who did not clap and praise the president during his recent State of the Union address are “treasonous.” 

“Can we call that treason?” Trump said of Democrats last week during a campaign-style rally in Cincinnati. “Why not? I mean, they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”

Committing treason is a deeply serious accusation for a president to make. U.S. law states that whoever “owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason.”

To be clear: Not clapping for the president does not qualify as treason.

‘Mexican’ Judge

In June of 2016, Trump accused U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel of not being able to make a fair ruling regarding lawsuits against Trump University. The president alleged that because he has made it clear he wants to build a wall to separate Mexico and the U.S., the judge’s heritage would be a “conflict.”

Curiel had “an absolute conflict” because of his “Mexican heritage,” Trump claimed.

He then doubled down on the claim in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that same month.

“Look, he’s proud of his heritage, OK? I’m building a wall,” Trump told Tapper.

Curiel is an American who was born in Indiana.

That same judge will now preside over a case to determine whether or not Trump will get his border wall.

For all his Saturday chest pounding about making false, unverified accusations, Trump has made clear that same logic has never applied to his perceived enemies.”

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

I’ve noted before the deep irony in the attitude of our disingenuous Attorney General Jeff “Gonzo Apocalyoto” Sessions toward due process. Sessions smears hard-working, often pro bono, immigration lawyers, promotes actions that inhibit the ability of individuals to obtain counsel, intentionally makes practice before the U.S. Immigration Courts “user unfriendly,” and constantly promotes totally bogus changes in the law to deprive hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of migrants of even the rudiments of a due process hearing before an Immigration Judge.

On the other hand, Gonzo was among the first Trump Cabinet members to “lawyer up” for himself. He hired hotshot DC attorney and former Assistant AG Charles “Chuckie” Cooper to help him “beat the rap” for his disingenuous and inaccurate sworn testimony before Congress.

In the world of Trump and Sessions, “White Guys” are entitled to due process. Everyone else can just “Go pound sand!”

PWS

02-11-18

TRUMP & RESTRICTIONISTS JUST DON’T “GET” IT: HUMAN MIGRATION IS A DYNAMIC FORCE THAT CAN BE HARNESSED OR CHANNELED, BUT WON’T BE SHUT DOWN BY WALLS, FENCES, ABUSIVE DETENTION, DENIAL OF RIGHTS, KANGAROO COURTS, SUMMARY REMOVAL, OR OTHER INTENTIONALLY “NASTY” ENFORCEMENT MEASURES – “But migrants and advocates said they were driven to cross the border more by conditions in Central America — gang violence and economic downturns — than by U.S. policies. “Many of these countries, you just cannot live in them,” said Ruben Garcia of El Paso’s Annunciation House shelter. “People will tell you ‘It’s just dangerous to walk around in our neighborhood.’ ” – WE CAN DIMINISH OURSELVES AS A NATION, BUT THAT WON’T HALT HUMAN MIGRATION!

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=2b1d32e6-30fa-40dc-8203-88f9b77b1203

 

Molly Hennessy-Fiske reports for the LA Times:

“McALLEN, Texas — Illegal crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border, after declining in early 2017, began an unexpected upturn last spring that only recently receded, according to new government figures.

The figures reflect the up-and-down nature of illegal immigration and are reminders that multiple factors — from politics to weather to conditions in home countries — influence who tries to come to the United States and when.

Apprehensions on the southern border in October 2016, a month before Donald Trump’s election, topped 66,000. After Trump’s victory, the number of migrants trying to enter the U.S. illegally reached a 17-year low.

Monthly apprehensions continued to drop into 2017, hitting 15,766 in April, when the downward trend reversed. Apprehensions rose each month to 40,513 in December. Migrant advocates said the “Trump effect” discouraging illegal immigration might be wearing off.

But last month, apprehensions decreased again. It’s not clear whether the post-holiday decrease is seasonal, or whether it will continue.

There were 35,822 migrants apprehended on the southern border in January, according to figures released Wednesday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. That’s not as many as in December, but it’s more than were apprehended each month last February to October.

The number of families and unaccompanied children caught crossing the border, which rose nearly every month since last spring, also dropped slightly last month to 25,980, but remained more than twice April’s total, 11,127.

In releasing the numbers Wednesday, Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton noted the apprehension figures for children and families were still high.

“Front-line personnel are required to release tens of thousands of unaccompanied alien children and illegal family units into the United States each year due to current loopholes in our immigration laws. This month we saw an unacceptable number of UACs [unaccompanied children] and family units flood our border because of these catch and release loopholes,” he said. “To secure our borders and make America safer, Congress must act to close these legal loopholes that have created incentives for illegal immigrants.”

In Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, so many migrant families with small children arrive daily — more than 15,500 family members so far this fiscal year — that volunteers at a local shelter set up a play area in the corner.

When the number of unaccompanied migrant children caught crossing began to increase in April, fewer than 1,000 were apprehended a month. By last month, that had grown to 3,227. The number of family members caught crossing grew even faster during that time, from 1,118 in April to 5,656 last month.

When Elvis Antonio Muniya Mendez arrived at the shelter last month from Honduras with his 15-year-old son, the playpen was packed with the children of 100 fellow Central American migrants caught crossing the border illegally and released that day. Muniya, 36, had fled a gang that killed his 26-year-old brother the month before. He was hoping to join another brother in Indiana. He and his son were released with a notice to appear in immigration court, which he planned to attend.

“I want to live here legally, without fear,” he said.

Trump administration officials have proposed detaining more families, but that’s not happening in the Rio Grande Valley, where many are released like Muniya with notices to appear in court. The shelter where Muniya stopped, Sacred Heart, saw the number of migrants arriving drop at the end of last year only to increase recently, said the director, Sister Norma Pimentel.

“I’ve never seen so many children be part of this migration,” Pimentel said.

Children who cross the border unaccompanied by an adult are sheltered by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement and placed with relatives or other sponsors in the U.S. The agency has about 9,900 shelter beds at various facilities. As of this week, the agency was sheltering 7,800 youths.

Children who cross the border with a parent may be released with notices to appear in court or held at special family detention centers.

Trump administration officials have proposed detaining more of the families. But space is limited. As of Monday, the detention centers held 1,896 people. Only one of them can hold fathers, and attorneys said it’s always full, so men who cross with children are often released with a notice to appear in court.

Advocates for greater restrictions on immigration say more needs to be done to hold parents who cross with their children accountable. They say such parents put their children at risk by making the dangerous journey. Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge now serving as a resident fellow in law and policy at the conservative Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, said the way migrants are treated on the border encourages family migration.

“The reason the children are there to begin with is this belief that a parent with a child will not be detained,” Arthur said. That assumption, he said, is wrong.

He said Congress and the Trump administration’s unwillingness to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has also encouraged migrant families to make the trip now in hopes of benefiting from a “DACA amnesty,” even though the program is limited to those who grew up in the U.S.

But migrants and advocates said they were driven to cross the border more by conditions in Central America — gang violence and economic downturns — than by U.S. policies.

“Many of these countries, you just cannot live in them,” said Ruben Garcia of El Paso’s Annunciation House shelter. “People will tell you ‘It’s just dangerous to walk around in our neighborhood.’ ”

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

Quite contrary to Tyler Houlton, the Trump Administration, and the restrictionists, this isn’t about “loopholes” in the law! Individuals arriving at our borders have a right to apply for asylum and they have a right to receive Due Process and fair treatment in connection with those “life or death” applications.

But for the purposely convoluted decisions of the BIA, individuals resisting gang violence would be “slam dunk” asylum, withholding of removal, or Convention Against Torture (“CAT”) cases. If we just screened them for crimes or gang connections and granted their applications, they could easily be absorbed by our country.

But, even if we don’t want to interpret “protection laws” to actually grant much protection, we could devise humanitarian relief short of asylum or full legal status that would allow individuals whose lives were in danger to find safety in the U.S. Or, we could work with the sending countries, the UNHCR, and other countries in the Americas to solve the problem of “safe havens.”

While the Trump Administration largely ignores the lessons of history and what happens abroad, one has only to look at the “European example” to see the inevitable failure of the restrictionist agenda. The European Union has done everything within it power to” slam the door” on refugees, make them feel unwelcome, unwanted, threatened, and targets for repatriation regardless of the harm that might befall them. But, still determined refugees continue to risk their lives to flee to Europe.

What the restrictive policies have accomplished is to force more refugees to use the services of professional smugglers, and to attempt more dangerous routes. Killing more refugees en route does somewhat reduce the flow — at the cost of the humanity of the nations involved.

Likewise, although border apprehensions were down last year, deaths of migrants crossing the Southern Border were up. See e.g., “US-Mexico border migrant deaths rose in 2017 even as crossings fell, UN says,” The Guardianhttps://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/06/us-mexico-border-migrant-deaths-rose-2017

I suspect that the increase in deaths has to do with more individuals having to use the services of professional smugglers, who are more unscrupulous than “Mom & Pop” and “Do It Yourself” operations, and smugglers having to use more dangerous routes to avoid increased border security.

I suppose that restrictionists can be cheered by the fact that more individuals will be killed coming to and into the United States, thus decreasing the overall  flow of unwanted human beings. But 1) it won’t stop people from coming, and 2) I doubt that finding way to kill more refugees will look that good in historical perspective.

As one of my colleagues told me early on in my career as an Immigration Judge: “Desperate people do desperate things!” That’s not going to change, no matter how much the restrictionists want to believe that institutional cruelty, inhumanity, “sending messages,” denying legal rights, and “get tough tactics” can completely squelch the flow of human migration. However, it certainly can squelch the flame of our own humanity.

PWS

02-08-18

 

 

PROFESSOR ERIC S. YELLEN IN WASHPOST: TRUMP & GOP’S MOST OUTRAGEOUS WHITE NATIONALIST RACIST PROPOSAL TO DESTROY AMERICA MIGHT NOT EVEN HAVE BEEN HIS RESTRICTIONIST IMMIGRATION PLAN — DESTROYING THE CAREER CIVIL SERVICE PROMISES RETURN TO CORRUPT POLITICAL SPOILS SYSTEM WE ABANDONED NEARLY 150 YEARS AGO! — “Calls for government accountability have long merged racism and anti-government rhetoric but have traditionally stopped short of resurrecting the spoils system.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2018/02/05/the-corrupt-racist-proposal-from-the-state-of-the-union-address-that-everyone-missed/

Yellen writes:

“President Trump continued his efforts to drive the United States back to the 19th century during his State of the Union address last week.

Standing in front of a divided Congress, with possible obstruction charges looming over him and facing governance struggles produced by his ineffective leadership, the president sought to undermine a 135-year-old law protecting federal civil servants from the whims of tyrants and hacks. “I call on the Congress to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers — and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people,” he said.

While this plea sounds sensible, it actually represents a historic threat to the U.S. government and to some of its most vulnerable citizens. Recognizing that threat requires understanding two crucial and related pieces of context — first, how the law Trump seeks to dissolve came into being, and second, how the effort to undermine it fits into a larger pattern of racist ideas driving the Trump administration’s actions.

Why can’t a Cabinet secretary simply fire federal employees? Before 1883, they did just that on a regular basis. Federal employees came and went on the orders of political appointees with each electoral cycle. Every four years, federal workers sat waiting with bags packed to find out if their party would hold on to power and they onto their livelihoods.

Claiming these spoils of victory enabled a president and his Cabinet secretaries to hand out high-paying, desirable jobs to political supporters. Abraham Lincoln famously — or infamously — cleaned house in 1861 to reward his new political party whose members had not tasted federal salaries since the collapse of the Whig party a decade earlier.

But in the 1870s, consistency and competence in the federal bureaucracy became more important as the nation’s political and commercial life grew more complex. Americans became increasingly aware of political corruption (see: the Grant administration) and its drag on government and commercial efficiency. When, in July 1881, President James A. Garfield was assassinated by disgruntled office seeker Charles Guiteau, the push for reform gained enough momentum to force Congress to rein in the patronage system.

The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 cost its namesake, Sen. George H. Pendleton (Ohio), his job in a political backlash against the new anti-spoils system. Nevertheless, the Pendleton Act was a major step forward for good government, and over the next quarter-century the majority of ordinary and largely essential civil service positions became disconnected from political machinations, filled instead through a standard set of hiring practices and exams, and protected from arbitrary firing.

The system was never perfect, and political affiliation has continued to matter for employment prospects in Washington right up through the present. Still, today the U.S. government does have something resembling what political scientists call an “autonomous” civil service — that is, a federal bureaucracy sheltered from political winds.

The result is a more stable and experienced government workforce, a Congress that gets accurate reports from its research bureaus and federal departments that provide a certain level of regulatory consistency for citizens and businesses at home and around the world.

Trump’s upending of decades of civil service protections is not about accountability. Such changes would clearly risk a return to more corrupt and less competent government. Even worse, Trump’s proposal and the rhetoric surrounding it also threaten to undermine a second set of crucial reforms that occurred thanks to the civil rights movement.

During the 1960s, the civil rights movement pushed the government to guarantee racial equality in federal employment. This effort was more successful than attempts to transform the private workforce, largely because of federal training programs, standardized hiring procedures and fixed pay scales that weeded out bias, aggressive anti-discrimination measures and historic mentorship and seniority lines dating to the Johnson administration. Today, African Americans are 30 percent more likely to work in civil service than white Americans. Black men and women, just 13 percent of the U.S. population and with an unemployment rate double that of white Americans, make up about 18 percent of the federal workforce.

Over the past 30 years, conservative valorization of “market solutions” has been accompanied by deeply racialized notions of government inefficiency that aims to undermine these civil rights achievements by invoking the image of a wasteful, corrupt public workforce — one viewed by many Americans as dominated by African Americans. Commentator Pat Buchanan, for example, claimed that federal offices under the Obama administration operated according to a “racial spoils system.” For Buchanan and many others, the drive for a leaner government merges with a racist suspicion of black workers — what they see as the most rotten part of the bureaucracy.

Moreover, the president’s attack on the stability of government jobs comes at a rough time for public servants, who have been battered by austerity measures that have made jobs scarcer.

These measures have also deepened the racial disparity in the public workforce, which, along with the growing racial wealth gap that deprives nonwhite Americans of stability and mobility, transforms Trump’s assault on the Pendleton Act from merely historically ignorant and potentially corrupt into something more. It becomes a nod to the same racist worldview that produces the profound suspicion of people of color that has defined much of Trump’s political life.

Continuous conflation of blackness and wastefulness in American governance, a conflation pushed by writers and politicians like Buchanan and Trump, marks African Americans as incapable of earning “the public’s trust” through good governance, a stain that persists into today’s politics, from assumptions of black voting malfeasance to questions about President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

And that returns us to Trump’s rise to the presidency. Calls for government accountability have long merged racism and anti-government rhetoric but have traditionally stopped short of resurrecting the spoils system. Then again, politicians have traditionally veiled their positions in generous and moderately realistic visions of humanity to maintain moral ground and the capacity to govern. In his latest call for the gutting of civil service reforms, Trump seems hellbent on surrendering both.

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

As I have mentioned several times before, my more than four decades of working in the field of immigration, and my 21 years of judging individual asylum cases have given me an outstanding chance to study virtually all of the current political and government systems in the world.

The difference between the U.S. and the corrupt states that send us refugees is not necessarily the words of our Constitution. Almost all countries have snazzy sounding constitutions that aren’t worth the paper on which they are written.

The main difference is that the U.S. has a basically honest, dedicated, professional, largely apolitical Career Civil Service that works hard to make sure that the words of our Constitution are translated into actions. Most refugee sending countries have a Trump-like “spoils system” where notwithstanding the words of the constitution and laws, the government is corrupt and run primarily for the benefit of the dictator and his relatives and friends or for the ruling class and their cronies.

When the government changes (usually, although not always, violently) the “new” group, even if it once had a “reform platform,” merely views it as “their turn” to loot and pillage the country and the common people for their own benefit and that of their supporters, be it tribe, ethnic group, or party.

The Trump Administration and the “modern GOP” already have all of the earmarks of a kleptocracy. Letting them destroy our Career Civil Service, the “Jewel in the Crown” of American democracy, would lead to the end of our nation as we have known it.

PWS

02-05-18

TAL @ CNN – TRUMP GIVES COLD SHOULDER TO NEWEST SENATE BIPARTISAN DREAMER COMPROMISE BILL!

http://www.cnn.com/2018/02/05/politics/trump-daca-mccain-coons-immigration-plan/index.html

“White House rejects bipartisan immigration plan pushed by McCain, Coons
By Tal Kopan and Kaitlan Collins, CNN
The White House is dismissing an immigration deal brokered by a bipartisan group of lawmakers as a non-starter just hours before it is expected to be formally introduced in the Senate.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons are slated to introduce a bill Monday that would grant eventual citizenship to young undocumented immigrants who have been in the country since 2013 and came to the US as children, but it does not address all of the President’s stated immigration priorities, like ending family-based immigration categories — which Republicans call “chain migration” — or ending the diversity visa program.
It also would not immediately authorize the $30 billion that Trump is seeking to build the border wall, instead greenlighting a study of border security needs. The bill would also seek to address the number of undocumented immigrants staying in the US by increasing the number of resources for the immigration courts, where cases can take years to finish.
The bill is a companion to a piece of House legislation that has 54 co-sponsors split evenly by party.
A White House official rebuffed the effort, telling CNN that it takes “a lot of effort” to write up a bill worse than the Graham-Durbin immigration bill, but somehow “this one is worse.”
Trump tweeted about the latest immigration efforts Monday, writing, “Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time. March 5th is rapidly approaching and the Dems seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal!”
But Coons defended the bill in a conference call with reporters on Monday, calling it a “strong starting place” and a “fresh start” if other talks about immigration don’t result in a compromise.
The White House has been aware of the legislation introduced by Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd and California Democrat Rep. Pete Aguilar for weeks, with officials being informed while it was being drafted and with chief of staff John Kelly and legislative director Marc Short being briefed on the bill in meetings with members of Congress, including Hurd and Aguilar. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, of which Aguilar is a key member, has been especially supportive of the bill as a compromise, as have moderate Republicans.
But the President has not embraced the proposal, largely for what it leaves out. Hurd and Aguilar, who first described their bill to CNN, have said they intentionally did not seek to appropriate specific funds in their proposal, as neither are on appropriations committees. They have called their bill a “foundation” for conversations about a big deal.
For the border, the bill would create a “smart wall” where the Department of Homeland Security would gain “operational control” of the border by the end of 2020 through “technology, physical barriers, levees, tools and other devices.” On family-based migration, the bill doesn’t make explicit reference to sponsoring relatives, but the bill authors say that existing law would prohibit parents of these individuals who came to the US illegally to apply for a visa to come back without returning to their home country for at least 10 years before applying and the bill does nothing to erase that requirement.
Coons said that McCain approached him about being a co-sponsor, saying that McCain is deeply concerned about the lack of future certainty for the military because of a budget impasse and the lack of a broader deal on immigration issues, and wanted to find a partner to introduce the Hurd-Aguilar bill in the Senate as part of that effort.
The Delaware Democrat said he recognizes that the bill does not appropriate any money for the border security piece and he’d be willing to look at doing that as well — and he said he’s still committed to the bipartisan Senate talks and is hopeful those could have a breakthrough and a base bill he’d support by the end of the week.
“I remain hopeful that that group can produce a bipartisan deal that is broader than what the McCain-Coons bill is this morning, but in the very real possibility that that does not come together, I think the (bill) is a good base bill,” Coons said. “I view the McCain-Coons proposal as a reasonable base bill that would get done the two things we need to get done: … the status of the Dreamers and border security.”
Coons also had some harsh words for the President, saying that despite the White House saying his proposal is the only one that can move forward, “I’m sorry, that’s not how the Senate works.” He rejected White House criticism of his proposal and said the “worst” thing would be failing to act or only doing a one-year stopgap.
“The President prides himself on being the great dealmaker,” Coons said. “Sometimes he makes the greatest contribution when he makes his position known and steps back … he is least constructive when he does what he did a few weeks ago.”
McCain said in a statement the new bill has “broad support.”
The Senate is expected to turn to a floor debate on immigration soon, and Coons has been part of a group of bipartisan lawmakers that have been meeting for weeks to try to find a compromise that could pass the vote with more than the 60 votes needed to advance legislation, which would require members of both parties. McCain has been recuperating from cancer treatments but is a veteran of efforts to pass immigration reform.
“While reaching a deal cannot come soon enough for America’s service members, the current political reality demands bipartisan cooperation to address the impending expiration of the DACA program and secure the southern border,” McCain said in the statement.

“White House rejects bipartisan immigration plan pushed by McCain, Coons
By Tal Kopan and Kaitlan Collins, CNN
The White House is dismissing an immigration deal brokered by a bipartisan group of lawmakers as a non-starter just hours before it is expected to be formally introduced in the Senate.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons are slated to introduce a bill Monday that would grant eventual citizenship to young undocumented immigrants who have been in the country since 2013 and came to the US as children, but it does not address all of the President’s stated immigration priorities, like ending family-based immigration categories — which Republicans call “chain migration” — or ending the diversity visa program.
It also would not immediately authorize the $30 billion that Trump is seeking to build the border wall, instead greenlighting a study of border security needs. The bill would also seek to address the number of undocumented immigrants staying in the US by increasing the number of resources for the immigration courts, where cases can take years to finish.
The bill is a companion to a piece of House legislation that has 54 co-sponsors split evenly by party.
A White House official rebuffed the effort, telling CNN that it takes “a lot of effort” to write up a bill worse than the Graham-Durbin immigration bill, but somehow “this one is worse.”
Trump tweeted about the latest immigration efforts Monday, writing, “Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time. March 5th is rapidly approaching and the Dems seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal!”
But Coons defended the bill in a conference call with reporters on Monday, calling it a “strong starting place” and a “fresh start” if other talks about immigration don’t result in a compromise.
The White House has been aware of the legislation introduced by Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd and California Democrat Rep. Pete Aguilar for weeks, with officials being informed while it was being drafted and with chief of staff John Kelly and legislative director Marc Short being briefed on the bill in meetings with members of Congress, including Hurd and Aguilar. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, of which Aguilar is a key member, has been especially supportive of the bill as a compromise, as have moderate Republicans.
But the President has not embraced the proposal, largely for what it leaves out. Hurd and Aguilar, who first described their bill to CNN, have said they intentionally did not seek to appropriate specific funds in their proposal, as neither are on appropriations committees. They have called their bill a “foundation” for conversations about a big deal.
For the border, the bill would create a “smart wall” where the Department of Homeland Security would gain “operational control” of the border by the end of 2020 through “technology, physical barriers, levees, tools and other devices.” On family-based migration, the bill doesn’t make explicit reference to sponsoring relatives, but the bill authors say that existing law would prohibit parents of these individuals who came to the US illegally to apply for a visa to come back without returning to their home country for at least 10 years before applying and the bill does nothing to erase that requirement.
Coons said that McCain approached him about being a co-sponsor, saying that McCain is deeply concerned about the lack of future certainty for the military because of a budget impasse and the lack of a broader deal on immigration issues, and wanted to find a partner to introduce the Hurd-Aguilar bill in the Senate as part of that effort.
The Delaware Democrat said he recognizes that the bill does not appropriate any money for the border security piece and he’d be willing to look at doing that as well — and he said he’s still committed to the bipartisan Senate talks and is hopeful those could have a breakthrough and a base bill he’d support by the end of the week.
“I remain hopeful that that group can produce a bipartisan deal that is broader than what the McCain-Coons bill is this morning, but in the very real possibility that that does not come together, I think the (bill) is a good base bill,” Coons said. “I view the McCain-Coons proposal as a reasonable base bill that would get done the two things we need to get done: … the status of the Dreamers and border security.”
Coons also had some harsh words for the President, saying that despite the White House saying his proposal is the only one that can move forward, “I’m sorry, that’s not how the Senate works.” He rejected White House criticism of his proposal and said the “worst” thing would be failing to act or only doing a one-year stopgap.
“The President prides himself on being the great dealmaker,” Coons said. “Sometimes he makes the greatest contribution when he makes his position known and steps back … he is least constructive when he does what he did a few weeks ago.”
McCain said in a statement the new bill has “broad support.”
The Senate is expected to turn to a floor debate on immigration soon, and Coons has been part of a group of bipartisan lawmakers that have been meeting for weeks to try to find a compromise that could pass the vote with more than the 60 votes needed to advance legislation, which would require members of both parties. McCain has been recuperating from cancer treatments but is a veteran of efforts to pass immigration reform.
“While reaching a deal cannot come soon enough for America’s service members, the current political reality demands bipartisan cooperation to address the impending expiration of the DACA program and secure the southern border,” McCain said in the statement.

White House rejects bipartisan immigration plan pushed by McCain, Coons
By Tal Kopan and Kaitlan Collins, CNN
The White House is dismissing an immigration deal brokered by a bipartisan group of lawmakers as a non-starter just hours before it is expected to be formally introduced in the Senate.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons are slated to introduce a bill Monday that would grant eventual citizenship to young undocumented immigrants who have been in the country since 2013 and came to the US as children, but it does not address all of the President’s stated immigration priorities, like ending family-based immigration categories — which Republicans call “chain migration” — or ending the diversity visa program.
It also would not immediately authorize the $30 billion that Trump is seeking to build the border wall, instead greenlighting a study of border security needs. The bill would also seek to address the number of undocumented immigrants staying in the US by increasing the number of resources for the immigration courts, where cases can take years to finish.
The bill is a companion to a piece of House legislation that has 54 co-sponsors split evenly by party.
A White House official rebuffed the effort, telling CNN that it takes “a lot of effort” to write up a bill worse than the Graham-Durbin immigration bill, but somehow “this one is worse.”
Trump tweeted about the latest immigration efforts Monday, writing, “Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time. March 5th is rapidly approaching and the Dems seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal!”
But Coons defended the bill in a conference call with reporters on Monday, calling it a “strong starting place” and a “fresh start” if other talks about immigration don’t result in a compromise.
The White House has been aware of the legislation introduced by Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd and California Democrat Rep. Pete Aguilar for weeks, with officials being informed while it was being drafted and with chief of staff John Kelly and legislative director Marc Short being briefed on the bill in meetings with members of Congress, including Hurd and Aguilar. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, of which Aguilar is a key member, has been especially supportive of the bill as a compromise, as have moderate Republicans.
But the President has not embraced the proposal, largely for what it leaves out. Hurd and Aguilar, who first described their bill to CNN, have said they intentionally did not seek to appropriate specific funds in their proposal, as neither are on appropriations committees. They have called their bill a “foundation” for conversations about a big deal.
For the border, the bill would create a “smart wall” where the Department of Homeland Security would gain “operational control” of the border by the end of 2020 through “technology, physical barriers, levees, tools and other devices.” On family-based migration, the bill doesn’t make explicit reference to sponsoring relatives, but the bill authors say that existing law would prohibit parents of these individuals who came to the US illegally to apply for a visa to come back without returning to their home country for at least 10 years before applying and the bill does nothing to erase that requirement.
Coons said that McCain approached him about being a co-sponsor, saying that McCain is deeply concerned about the lack of future certainty for the military because of a budget impasse and the lack of a broader deal on immigration issues, and wanted to find a partner to introduce the Hurd-Aguilar bill in the Senate as part of that effort.
The Delaware Democrat said he recognizes that the bill does not appropriate any money for the border security piece and he’d be willing to look at doing that as well — and he said he’s still committed to the bipartisan Senate talks and is hopeful those could have a breakthrough and a base bill he’d support by the end of the week.
“I remain hopeful that that group can produce a bipartisan deal that is broader than what the McCain-Coons bill is this morning, but in the very real possibility that that does not come together, I think the (bill) is a good base bill,” Coons said. “I view the McCain-Coons proposal as a reasonable base bill that would get done the two things we need to get done: … the status of the Dreamers and border security.”
Coons also had some harsh words for the President, saying that despite the White House saying his proposal is the only one that can move forward, “I’m sorry, that’s not how the Senate works.” He rejected White House criticism of his proposal and said the “worst” thing would be failing to act or only doing a one-year stopgap.
“The President prides himself on being the great dealmaker,” Coons said. “Sometimes he makes the greatest contribution when he makes his position known and steps back … he is least constructive when he does what he did a few weeks ago.”
McCain said in a statement the new bill has “broad support.”
The Senate is expected to turn to a floor debate on immigration soon, and Coons has been part of a group of bipartisan lawmakers that have been meeting for weeks to try to find a compromise that could pass the vote with more than the 60 votes needed to advance legislation, which would require members of both parties. McCain has been recuperating from cancer treatments but is a veteran of efforts to pass immigration reform.
“While reaching a deal cannot come soon enough for America’s service members, the current political reality demands bipartisan cooperation to address the impending expiration of the DACA program and secure the southern border,” McCain said in the statement.

“White House rejects bipartisan immigration plan pushed by McCain, Coons
By Tal Kopan and Kaitlan Collins, CNN
The White House is dismissing an immigration deal brokered by a bipartisan group of lawmakers as a non-starter just hours before it is expected to be formally introduced in the Senate.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons are slated to introduce a bill Monday that would grant eventual citizenship to young undocumented immigrants who have been in the country since 2013 and came to the US as children, but it does not address all of the President’s stated immigration priorities, like ending family-based immigration categories — which Republicans call “chain migration” — or ending the diversity visa program.
It also would not immediately authorize the $30 billion that Trump is seeking to build the border wall, instead greenlighting a study of border security needs. The bill would also seek to address the number of undocumented immigrants staying in the US by increasing the number of resources for the immigration courts, where cases can take years to finish.
The bill is a companion to a piece of House legislation that has 54 co-sponsors split evenly by party.
A White House official rebuffed the effort, telling CNN that it takes “a lot of effort” to write up a bill worse than the Graham-Durbin immigration bill, but somehow “this one is worse.”
Trump tweeted about the latest immigration efforts Monday, writing, “Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time. March 5th is rapidly approaching and the Dems seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal!”
But Coons defended the bill in a conference call with reporters on Monday, calling it a “strong starting place” and a “fresh start” if other talks about immigration don’t result in a compromise.
The White House has been aware of the legislation introduced by Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd and California Democrat Rep. Pete Aguilar for weeks, with officials being informed while it was being drafted and with chief of staff John Kelly and legislative director Marc Short being briefed on the bill in meetings with members of Congress, including Hurd and Aguilar. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, of which Aguilar is a key member, has been especially supportive of the bill as a compromise, as have moderate Republicans.
But the President has not embraced the proposal, largely for what it leaves out. Hurd and Aguilar, who first described their bill to CNN, have said they intentionally did not seek to appropriate specific funds in their proposal, as neither are on appropriations committees. They have called their bill a “foundation” for conversations about a big deal.
For the border, the bill would create a “smart wall” where the Department of Homeland Security would gain “operational control” of the border by the end of 2020 through “technology, physical barriers, levees, tools and other devices.” On family-based migration, the bill doesn’t make explicit reference to sponsoring relatives, but the bill authors say that existing law would prohibit parents of these individuals who came to the US illegally to apply for a visa to come back without returning to their home country for at least 10 years before applying and the bill does nothing to erase that requirement.
Coons said that McCain approached him about being a co-sponsor, saying that McCain is deeply concerned about the lack of future certainty for the military because of a budget impasse and the lack of a broader deal on immigration issues, and wanted to find a partner to introduce the Hurd-Aguilar bill in the Senate as part of that effort.
The Delaware Democrat said he recognizes that the bill does not appropriate any money for the border security piece and he’d be willing to look at doing that as well — and he said he’s still committed to the bipartisan Senate talks and is hopeful those could have a breakthrough and a base bill he’d support by the end of the week.
“I remain hopeful that that group can produce a bipartisan deal that is broader than what the McCain-Coons bill is this morning, but in the very real possibility that that does not come together, I think the (bill) is a good base bill,” Coons said. “I view the McCain-Coons proposal as a reasonable base bill that would get done the two things we need to get done: … the status of the Dreamers and border security.”
Coons also had some harsh words for the President, saying that despite the White House saying his proposal is the only one that can move forward, “I’m sorry, that’s not how the Senate works.” He rejected White House criticism of his proposal and said the “worst” thing would be failing to act or only doing a one-year stopgap.
“The President prides himself on being the great dealmaker,” Coons said. “Sometimes he makes the greatest contribution when he makes his position known and steps back … he is least constructive when he does what he did a few weeks ago.”
McCain said in a statement the new bill has “broad support.”
The Senate is expected to turn to a floor debate on immigration soon, and Coons has been part of a group of bipartisan lawmakers that have been meeting for weeks to try to find a compromise that could pass the vote with more than the 60 votes needed to advance legislation, which would require members of both parties. McCain has been recuperating from cancer treatments but is a veteran of efforts to pass immigration reform.
“While reaching a deal cannot come soon enough for America’s service members, the current political reality demands bipartisan cooperation to address the impending expiration of the DACA program and secure the southern border,” McCain said in the statement.

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

I doubt that the Dems are going to force a shutdown over Dreamers this time around. But, that doesn’t mean that the “Bakuninist Wing” of the House GOP won’t shoot themselves and the party in the foot.

Dreamers appear sentenced to limbo as long as the GOP controls all the political branches of Government.

PWS

02-05-18

 

 

 

 

EAGLES UPSET PATS 41-33 IN TRULY SUPER SUPERBOWL! — BACKUP QB NICK FOLES STARS — BRADY SETS YARDAGE RECORD IN DEFEAT! 🦅🦅🦅🦅

Great game! Lots of offense. Not much “D” until Eagles got a “strip” on Brady late to help seal the victory. But, the great TB still had one last shot as “Hail Mary” fell incomplete in end zone as time expired.

Former Wisconsin Badger star running back Corey Clement played a key role with several big plays including a huge second half TD catch upheld on review. Gutsy call on 4th and goal from the one at the end of the first half by Eagles Coach Doug Pederson involving a center snap to Clement, pitch-back, and pass from an end to QB Nick Foles for a key TD and Superbowl first (TD  pass caught by a QB). Foles was, quite deservedly, the MVP of the Superbowl! A guy who lost his starting job, bounced around, almost quit football, but did what a backup QB is supposed to do — play like the starter and win games in the clutch!

Another former Badger star running back, James White, one of the heroes of the Patriots’ comeback win in last year’s Super Bowl, scored New England’s first touchdown on a 26 yard run in the second quarter.

Special congratulations to my good friend and colleague retired Judge Wayne Iskra, a lifelong (and long suffering) Eagles fan!

Fly Eagles Fly! 🦅🦅🦅

PWS

02-04-18

NO SURPRISES HERE – “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT IS BAD LAW ENFORCEMENT!

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/01/how-trumps-immigration-policies-are-backfiring.html

Isaac Chotiner reports for Slate

“A week after President Trump declared his preference for immigrants from places like Norway over various “shithole” countries (that just happen to be majority nonwhite), Congress and the White House are negotiating over keeping the government funded, with immigration as a key issue. Most Democrats only want to do avoid a shutdown if the Dreamers are given legal protections that Trump has sought to remove. In return for offering them protections, Trump wants funding for things like a border wall. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has continued its heightened pace of immigration raids and deportations, and recently declared that it would remove protections from Salvadoran immigrants who had settled in the country.

To discuss the state of play on Capitol Hill, and Trump’s approach to immigration more broadly, I spoke by phone with Jonathan Blitzer, a staff writer at the New Yorker who covers immigration issues. (Earlier this month, he wrote about the presence of the MS-13 gang on Long Island.) During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed how much racism has influenced Trump’s immigration policies, whether tough-on-immigration stances can be counterproductive to halting crime, and if Democrats should compromise on a border wall if it means protecting the Dreamers.

. . . .

Essentially in the past, in the last two years of the Obama presidency, DHS created a set of priorities, basically saying to ICE: Look, there’s a huge undocumented immigrant population in the United States. 12 million people. You can’t go after everyone. If you guys are going to be a serious police force and if people aren’t going to live in fear of completely random acts of arrest and deportations, you have to prioritize people with criminal records. You have to prioritize people who could be viewed as constituting a public safety threat. The new administration immediately canceled those priorities, which pretty much means there are actually no guidelines for how ICE now goes about its business.

In one sense, that suits the MO of the administration, which is almost total randomness. There really isn’t a kind of thoroughgoing vision of what immigration enforcement looks like. In fact, if you think thematically, the administration is doing things that in some ways undermine the president’s very public statements about how concerned he is with the growing undocumented population in the U.S.

How so?

Just talking about the Salvadoran population, you’re talking about 200,000 people. Those people aren’t just going to leave after two decades here because the administration has now removed this legal protection for them. You are going to see the undocumented community grow in the United States under the Trump administration.

What’s more, arrests are up, right? So the statistics I’ve seen are that ICE arrests have gone up by something like 40 percent, and a significant number of those are people who did not have criminal records. There’s an enormous backlog in immigration courts, a backlog of over 600,000 cases, which means that you actually can’t process all the people who are being arrested. In fact, if you were thinking about this all rationally, [the arrests] would be counterproductive.

One thing your colleague Sarah Stillman mentions in her piece in last week’s issue of the New Yorker is that immigrants are not reporting crime. The drops in major cities are staggering. In Arlington, Virginia, for example, according to Stillman, “domestic-assault reports in one Hispanic neighborhood dropped more than eighty-five per cent in the first eight months after Trump’s Inauguration, compared with the same period the previous year. Reports of rape and sexual assault fell seventy-five per cent.” You would think that as an administration that talks about being tough on crime that this would be a huge problem, but it isn’t to them.

One hundred percent agreed. It’s counterproductive in almost every sense. You don’t even need to go to the bleeding-heart liberals for confirmation of this. You talk to police, you talk to sheriffs, and a lot of them are actually quite concerned about what this means for public safety and how they do their police work. Victims aren’t coming forward.

In some of the work that I’ve done on Long Island, MS-13 has been basically an obsession with this administration, and in every instance, the way the administration has gone about trying to combat the gang problem has backfired and has resulted in communities being a lot less safe than they otherwise would have been.

What specifically?

What’s happening on Long Island—and I think it’s fair to say this is happening elsewhere where MS-13’s been active—what ICE and local law enforcement have started to do is they’ve been so indiscriminate in who they’re arresting for suspected gang associations that they’re actually arresting a lot of people who are the victims of gang crime. I mean, you look at some of these communities, the victims and the perpetrators live side-by-side in these tiny hamlets. They go to the same schools. They work the same jobs. The idea of arresting anyone who has this kind of peripheral association with the gang is nonsensical.

There’s some racial profiling going on on Long Island, and this is exactly the stuff that you’re describing, the fears that people have. I mean you have victims of crimes who are scared to come forward because when they talk to the police, they know police are talking to ICE and the next thing they know, they’ll either end up in detention or family members will end up in detention.

What would be a more proper approach to MS-13? It seems like a tough issue for Democrats.

The proper approach from a law enforcement and community-building standpoint is to invest more money in after school programs. It sounds like sort of milquetoast policy, but you talk to experts on this, you talk to former gang members and community organizers and all of them, all of them are aligned in stressing the importance of just basically providing some sense of community for kids who live in these immigrant communities who often have come fleeing gang violence in Central America who have essentially nowhere else to turn. They go to schools. They don’t speak the language. There aren’t after school programs. They don’t have counseling. Some of them have undergone intense trauma. They’re easy marks for a gang that recruits people who feel isolated and socially marginalized. Oftentimes what happens is they join up on the U.S. side and not on the Central American side, precisely because they feel exposed here.

But that’s not an easy sell. I think Democrats are in a tough spot on that and I think that’s one of the reasons why the Republicans have really tried to link MS-13 to this kind of nationwide attack on sanctuary cities. It’s all playing on these fears and rhetorically, I think for the most part has been pretty successful for Republicans.

If you put aside for a minute America’s role in helping immiserate El Salvador, going back many years to our support for very bad people during their civil war, what would you tell American citizens about taking in immigrants who might be likely to end up in gangs like this?

I don’t think they are so likely to end up in gangs. I think that’s one of the first things that the administration trades on: playing up the idea that all of these kids who arrive here are somehow threats. A tiny, tiny minority of unaccompanied kids who show up in the U.S. end up joining these gangs. The vast majority, the overwhelming majority of them have no gang affiliation, want nothing to do with the gangs, and if given the opportunity here, thrive.

The argument for why we should be more open to them is the same argument that I would make about U.S. refugee policies generally. It is a mark of American moral and political leadership. It actually affects our policies and our foreign policy weight in these regions. The United States has supported all kinds of horrifying political regimes in Central America, but even leaving that political history aside, the gang problem in Central America is the direct outgrowth of U.S. deportation policy. It’s a literal shift. It’s not even a manner of speaking.

Mass deportation creates instability. It’s just going to continue to create a refugee crisis. I mean this crisis is just the continuation of a decades-long trend. We sometimes look the other way, which sometimes is contributing directly to the violence in these regions and then people basically having no other move than to try to move north.

. . . .”

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

Read the complete interview at the link.

As I have been saying, Trump, Sessions, Miller, Homan, & Co. have little or no interest in effective law enforcement. Anything but!

Indeed, as this article points out, and as I have said in the past, truly effective, legitimate law enforcement would involve securing the trust of the Hispanic communities and separating real law enforcement targets — serious criminals and terrorists — from the vast, vast bulk of the undocumented population who are residing peacefully and productively in the U.S. In addition to exercising “PD” for the latter, effective law enforcement would involve putting forth a “no strings attached” proposal to give these folks legal status and work authorization in the U.S., preferably with, but even without, a “path to citizenship.”

No, with the Trumpsters, it’s all about White Nationalism, racism, and the quest to create a false link between Hispanics, crime, and loss of American jobs (conveniently forgetting that we’re now basically at “full employment” in the U.S. and that without undocumented workers our economy would likely be contracting rather than continuing to expand). As a result, ICE is becoming a “bad joke” in the legitimate law enforcement community and an anathema to people almost everywhere. In a democracy (which Trump, Sessions, et al don’t really want) law enforcement can’t operate effectively without a certain amount of mutual trust and respect from the community.

PWS

01-18-18

THE HILL: NOLAN UNIMPRESSED BY “GANG OF SIX’S” DREAMER COMPROMISE EFFORT!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/369403-gang-of-six-daca-bill-is-an-exploitative-political-statement

 

Family Pictures

Nolan writes:

“. . . .

Yet no matter how Flake describes the proposal, it is not a good faith attempt to find common ground with either the majority of congressional Republicans or the president.

Five of the six senators in the Gang of Six were also in 2013’s the Gang of Eight, which showed the same disregard for majority Republican positions when they moved the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, S. 744, through the Senate.

S. 744 was bipartisan too, but it was opposed by 70 percent of the Senate Republicans. Among other things, it would have established a large legalization program without assurance that the aliens being legalized would not be replaced in 10 years by a new group of undocumented aliens.

This has been the sine qua non for Republican cooperation with a legalization program since the failed implementation of the enforcement provisions in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, (IRCA), which legalized 2.7 million aliens.

One of IRCA’s major objectives was to wipe the slate clean and start over with an effective enforcement program. But IRCA’s enforcement measures were not implemented, and by October 1996, the undocumented alien population had almost doubled.

. . . .

Trump wants a physical wall. Virtual walls rely primarily on surveillance technology, which just notifies the border patrol when aliens are making an illegal crossing. They will be in the United States before they can be apprehended, and Trump’s enforcement program suffers already from an immigration court backlog crisis.

A physical wall makes illegal crossings more difficult. While some grown men can climb over a large wall, children can’t, and the dangers involved in climbing over such a wall should deter parents from bringing their children here illegally.

If the Democrats really want to help the DACA participants, they will let Trump have his wall.”

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I probably see it more the way the Washington Post did in yesterday’s lead editorial. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ignore-the-president-vote-on-the-daca-deal/2018/01/16/55f38288-fb03-11e7-8f66-2df0b94bb98a_story.html

There apparently are enough Democratic and GOP votes to pass the “Gang of Six” compromise. Why be held hostage by GOP legislators who, while perhaps they are a majority of the GOP, are a minority of the total legislature and actually represent a minority position among Americans? Some days Trump says he’ll sign anything Congress passes; other days he doesn’t. So, give him the bill and see what happens. Seems unlikely that he will veto his own budget.

On the other hand, at this point, I’d be willing to give Trump his Wall (but not an end to “chain migration” or permanent cuts in permanent immigration) if that’s what it takes to save the Dreamers. Unlike Nolan, however, my experience tells me that “The Wall” will ultimately be an expensive failure. Whatever the technical difficulties with past “Virtual Walls” might have been, I have to believe that technology, which tends to improve over time, not physical barriers are the wave of the future.

And the real solution to individuals coming here without documents is a more robust and realistic legal immigration program that meets market demands for additional labor and also satisfies our humanitarian obligations. 

Most of the current adult so-called “undocumented” residents of the U.S. are gainfully employed in ways that actually help and support the U.S. They are a huge net “plus.” So, why would we want to go to great lengths in a futile attempt to keep folks like them from coming in to help us in the future? Doesn’t make any sense! That’s why we’re in the current situation — unrealistic laws.

The real solution is more legal immigration which would insure that those coming get properly screened and don’t have to use the services of smugglers. Then, immigration enforcement could concentrate on those seeking to come outside the system.

Leaving aside refugees, why would folks come if the job market actually gets to the point where it is saturated and can no longer expand? For the most part, they wouldn’t. But, of course, that wouldn’t satisfy the GOP White Nationalist restrictionists who are operating from a racial rather than a realistic perspective.

PWS

01-18-18

 

CHRISTIE THOMPSON @ THE MARSHALL PROJECT: SESSIONS’S APPARENT ATTACK ON “ADMINISTRATIVE CLOSING” IN U.S. IMMIGRATION COURT COULD FURTHER SCREW UP ALREADY FAILING SYSTEM — It Wasn’t A Problem, But Is Likely To Become One By The Time He’s Finished By Stripping Judges Of Last Vestiges Of Independent Authority Over Their Mushrooming Dockets! – I’m Quoted In This Article!

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2018/01/09/the-doj-decision-that-could-mean-thousands-more-deportations

Christie writes

“Sessions considers tying the hands of immigration judges.

Administrative closure sounds like one of the driest bureaucratic terms imaginable, but it has huge implications for immigrants and their families. Now, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who oversees immigration judges, is considering limiting that power.

Sessions wrote in a recent brief that he would review judges’ authority to administratively close immigration cases, the latest in a series of Department of Justice memos and policies that could reshape immigration courts and make it even harder for people to remain in the U.S.

Administrative closure has been used frequently by judges to drop cases against people who aren’t a priority for deportation or who have other pending legal issues. Judges under the Obama administration used this option far more than previous judges, administratively closing 180,000 cases in four years. Critics say it operates as a kind of backdoor amnesty, particularly for people who don’t qualify for other kinds of relief under immigration law.

Closed cases are in a sort of limbo: the immigrant isn’t legally in the U. S., but the government isn’t pursuing deportation. Authorities can change their mind at any time. Under Obama, this usually happened only if the immigrant went on to commit a crime or if there was a development in his or her legal status. But the Trump Administration has already begun re-openingthousands of administratively closed cases. Immigration judges under Trump have also stopped closing cases for people who didn’t used to be an enforcement priority — such as parents of U.S. citizen children who had been in the country for a long time and had no criminal record.

Judges, attorneys and advocates say that ending administrative closure entirely could have a significant impact on individual cases and the immigration court system overall. Sessions could decide to reopen as many as 350,000 closed cases, which could flood a backlogged system that has 650,000 pending cases.

“If he brings them all back into court at once, that’s going to cripple the courts even further,” said Paul Wickham Schmidt, a former immigration judge and former head of the Board of Immigration Appeals. “They can’t do the cases they have now — why is he out there looking for more?”

There are groups of immigrants for whom administrative closure is particularly important. Someone being deported for a crime but still fighting the conviction may have his or her case closed while an appeal is pending. Judges may also stop removal proceedings for immigrants with serious mental health issues or intellectual disabilities if they are found to be incompetent to go through court hearings.

Many undocumented children also ask for administrative closure while they’re applying for juvenile protected status, a legal status that can take years to wind its way through state family court and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Without administrative closure, “those children could be deported while their application for a green card is pending with another immigration agency,” said Nicholas Phillips, an immigration attorney with Prisoners Legal Services of New York.

If administrative closure isn’t an option, judges have another option of issuing a continuance, which postpones the decision. However, that practice also recently came under fire from the attorney general. Sessions’ office recently criticized the increased use of continuances by immigration judges, saying they delayed the courts.

The Justice Department has made several decisions and proposals recently that would change how immigration judges do their job.

This fall, the department proposed setting case completion quotas for judges to try to speed up decision-making. It released a memo in December that reminding judges to act “impartially” when looking at cases involving children, despite their commonly sympathetic stories. DOJ also said judges should give asylum applications more careful scrutiny and be more reluctant to postpone a case.

Sessions’ announcement of the review came when he intervened in the immigration case of a minor who arrived from Guatemala in 2014. He has asked the Department of Homeland Security and other interested groups to submit briefs on the issue of administrative closure by a February deadline.”

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

There are an estimated 350,000 pending cases currently in “administratively closed” (“AC”) status! In my extensive experience at all levels of our immigration system, there are sound reasons supporting almost all of these ACs.

If Sessions, as expected by most advocates, reaches the rather absurd conclusion that notwithstanding over three decades of use by Administrations and Attorneys General of both parties, AC is somehow “illegal” or should be “withdrawn,” these cases likely would mindlessly be thrown back into the already overwhelmed U.S. Immigration Courts on top of the 660,000 already pending cases. Over a million pending cases! That has the potential to “implode” or “explode” or “sink” (choose your favorite verb) the Immigration Court system on the spot.

In reality, AC has been nothing but a godsend for overworked, over-stressed U.S. Immigration Judges and the immigration Court system. Rather than being forced to “docket babysit” cases that can better be resolved elsewhere in the system than in Immigration Court, or that under a proper use of resources and prosecutorial discretion by the DHS never should have been placed in Immigration Court in the first place, the Immigration Judges can “clear some of the deadwood” from their dockets and concentrate on the cases that actually need their limited time and attention. No, AC by itself can’t solve the chronic backlog and due process problems currently festering in the U.S. Immigration Courts. But, reducing the active docket by a whopping one-third without treading on anyone’s due process rights was certainly a step in the right direction! 

The current backlog has been aggravated, if not actually largely created, by the practice of “Aimless Docket Reshuffling” (“ADR”) by politicos in the DOJ and the White House going back decades. As Administrations and AG’s change, and DHS Enforcement priorities change with them, cases that were once “priorities” are shuffled off to the end of the docket to make way for the new “enforcement priority of the moment.” Other times, Immigration Judges are shuffled or detailed to the new “priority dockets” and their now “non-priority regular cases” are arbitrarily reassigned to other judges (who already are carrying full dockets themselves). Many times, this means taking cases that are “ready for trial” and replacing them with cases that aren’t ready for trial because the respondent needs to find a lawyer, file applications, and prepare the case. Other times, when dockets are shifted around largely without meaningful participation by the Immigration Judges, the DHS files or EOIR “record files” are not available, thus causing further delays.

In that manner, cases are not completed on any regular, predictable schedule, “Individual Hearing” dates become “jokes,” and U.S. Immigration Judges lose both credibility and the last vestiges of independent control over their court dockets as politicos and bureaucrats who neither fully understand nor are properly part of the Immigration Court System screw things up time after time.

Sessions appears anxious to add to and further aggravate these problems, rather than addressing them ion a reasonable and systematic manner with participation of all parties who use and rely on the U.S. Immigration Courts for due process and justice. Shame on him and on our Congress for allowing this to happen!

As I’ve said over and over: It’s past time for Congress to create an independent U.S. Immigration Court system that would be free of these types of highly politicized and totally wasteful shenanigans!

Only an independent U.S. Immigration Court will provide the “level playing field” and truly impartial administration and adjudication necessary to bring these potentially “life or death” cases to conclusion in a manner that is both efficient and in full compliance with fundamental fairness and due process (and, consequently, will find a high degree of acceptance in the U.S. Courts of Appeals, rather than generating too many “returns for redos” as happens in the current “haste makes waste” environment at EOIR.)

PWS

01-10-18

THE PRESIDENCY: “STABLE GENIUS?” – UNLIKELY – BUT, EVEN TRUMP’S HARSHEST CRITICS ADMIT THAT HE’S AN “EXTRAORDINARILY TALENTED CON MAN” – Move Over Charles Ponzi, Bernie Madoff, & Bernie Cornfield, You’ve Got Company At The Top!

http://www.newsweek.com/robert-reich-trump-may-be-dumb-he-has-plenty-emotional-intelligence-773200

Robert Reich writes in Newsweek:

For more than a year now, I’ve been hearing from people in the inner circles of official Washington – GOP lobbyists, Republican pundits, even a few Republican members of Congress – that Donald Trump is remarkably stupid.

I figured they couldn’t be right because really stupid people don’t become presidents of the United States. Even George W. Bush was smart enough to hire smart people to run his campaign and then his White House.

Several months back when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “fucking moron,” I discounted it. I know firsthand how frustrating it can be to serve in a president’s cabinet, and I’ve heard members of other president’s cabinets describe their bosses in similar terms.

Now comes “ Fire and Fury, ” a book by journalist Michael Wolff, who interviewed more than 200 people who dealt with Trump as a candidate and president, including senior White House staff members.

In it, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster calls Trump a “dope.” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus both refer to him as an “idiot.” Rupert Murdoch says Trump is a “fucking idiot.”

GettyImages-872383186Donald Trump’s hair blows in the wind as he boards Air Force One on November 10, 2017. JIM WATSON/AFP/GETTY

Trump’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn describes Trump as “dumb as shit,” explaining that “Trump won’t read anything — not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored.”

When one of Trump’s campaign aides tried to educate him about the Constitution, Trump couldn’t focus. “I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,” the aide recalled, “before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.”

Trump doesn’t think he’s stupid, of course. As he recounted, “I went to an Ivy League college … I did very well. I’m a very intelligent person.”

Yet Trump wasn’t exactly an academic star. One of his professors at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and Finance purportedly said that he was “the dumbest goddamn student I ever had.”

Trump biographer Gwenda Blair wrote in 2001 that Trump was admitted to Wharton on a special favor from a “friendly” admissions officer who had known Trump’s older brother.

But hold on. It would be dangerous to underestimate this man.

Even if Trump doesn’t read, can’t follow a logical argument, and has the attention span of a fruit fly, it still doesn’t follow that he’s stupid.

There’s another form of intelligence, called “emotional intelligence.”

Emotional intelligence is a concept developed by two psychologists, John Mayer of the University of New Hampshire and Yale’s Peter Salovey, and it was popularized by Dan Goleman in his 1996 book of the same name.

Mayer and Salovey define emotional intelligence as the ability to do two things – “understand and manage our own emotions,” and “recognize and influence the emotions of others.”

Granted, Trump hasn’t displayed much capacity for the first. He’s thin-skinned, narcissistic, and vindictive.

As dozens of Republican foreign policy experts put it, “He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate criticism.”

Okay, but what about Mayer and Salovey’s second aspect of emotional intelligence – influencing the emotions of others?

This is where Trump shines. He knows how to manipulate people. He has an uncanny ability to discover their emotional vulnerabilities – their fears, anxieties, prejudices, and darkest desires – and use them for his own purposes.

To put it another way, Trump is an extraordinarily talented conman.

He’s always been a conman. He conned hundreds of young people and their parents into paying to attend his near worthless Trump University. He conned banks into lending him more money even after he repeatedly failed to pay them. He conned contractors to work for them and then stiffed them.

Granted, during he hasn’t always been a great conman. Had he been, his cons would have paid off.

By his own account, in 1976, when Trump was starting his career, he was worth about $200 million, much of it from his father. Today he says he’s worth some $8 billion. If he’d just put the original $200 million into an index fund and reinvested the dividends, he’d be worth $12 billion today.

But he’s been a great political conman. He conned 62,979,879 Americans to vote for him in November 2016 by getting them to believe his lies about Mexicans, Muslims, African-Americans, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and all the “wonderful,” “beautiful” things he’d do for the people who’d support him.

And he’s still conning most of them.

Political conning is Trump’s genius. It’s this genius – when combined with his utter stupidity in every other dimension of his being – that poses the greatest danger to America and the world.

Robert Reich is the chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley , and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, and Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He has written 14 books, including the best-sellers Aftershock, The Work of Nations and Beyond Outrage and, most recently, Saving Capitalism. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and co-creator of the award-winning documentary Inequality for All.”

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Trump is a “danger to America and the world.” Let’s just hope we survive him and his nasty, would-be authoritarian regime!

PWS

01-08-18

 

CHRISTMAS 2017: Pope Francis Makes Migrants’ Humanity, Plight, Rights Focus Of Christmas Message To World’s Christians!

 

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pope-christmas-eve-migrants_us_5a4025cfe4b025f99e17c35b

Phillip Pullella reports for HuffPost:


“Pope Francis strongly defended immigrants at his Christmas Eve Mass on Sunday, comparing them to Mary and Joseph finding no place to stay in Bethlehem and saying faith demands that foreigners be welcomed.
Francis, celebrating his fifth Christmas as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, led a solemn Mass for about 10,000 people in St. Peter’s Basilica while many others followed the service from the square outside.
Security was stepped up, with participants checked as they approached St. Peter’s Square even before going through metal detectors to enter the basilica. The square had been cleared out hours earlier so security procedures could be put in place.
The Gospel reading at the Mass in Christendom’s largest church recounted the Biblical story of how Mary and Jesus had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be registered for a census ordered by Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus.
“So many other footsteps are hidden in the footsteps of Joseph and Mary. We see the tracks of entire families forced to set out in our own day. We see the tracks of millions of persons who do not choose to go away, but driven from their land, leave behind their dear ones,” Francis said.
Even the shepherds who the Bible says were the first to see the child Jesus were “forced to live on the edges of society” and considered dirty, smelly foreigners, he said. “Everything about them generated mistrust. They were men and women to be kept at a distance, to be feared.”

“NEW SOCIAL IMAGINATION”
Wearing white vestments in the flower-bedecked church, Francis called for a “new social imagination … in which none have to feel that there is no room for them on this earth.”
The 81-year-old pope, who was born of Italian immigrant stock in Argentina, has made defense of migrants a major plank of his papacy, often putting him at odds with politicians.
Austria’s new chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, has aligned himself with central European neighbors like Hungary and the Czech Republic in opposing German-backed proposals to distribute asylum seekers around EU member states.
In elections in Germany in September, the far-right and anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party made significant gains, with electors punishing Chancellor Angela Merkel for her open-door policy and pushing migration policy to the top of the agenda in talks to form a coalition government.
Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League, whose leader Matteo Salvini often gives fiery speeches against migrants, is expected to make gains in national elections next year. A law that would give citizenship to children born in Italy to migrant parents is stalled in parliament.
In his homily, Francis said, “Our document of citizenship” comes from God, making respect of migrants an integral part of Christianity.
“This is the joy that we tonight are called to share, to celebrate and to proclaim. The joy with which God, in his infinite mercy, has embraced us pagans, sinners and foreigners, and demands that we do the same,” Francis said.
Francis also condemned human traffickers who make money off desperate migrants as the “Herods of today” with blood on their hands, a reference to the Biblical story of the king who ordered the killing of all newborn male children near Bethlehem because he feared Jesus would one day displace him.
More than 14,000 people have died trying to make the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean to Europe in the past four years.
On Christmas Day, Francis will deliver his twice-yearly “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and to the World) blessing and message from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Compare the Pope’s very clear statement of true Christian values with the fear-mongering, false narratives, and xenophobic rantings and actions of the so-called “Christians” in the Trump Administration.

PWS

12-26-17

TWO NEW FROM TAL@CNN: 1) Will “Radical Moderation” Be The Next Great Political Movement? – 2) How Will Dems Negotiate The DACA Endgame?

Here’s what Tal has to say:

1) Will “Radical Moderation” Be The Next Great Political Movement?

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/14/politics/congress-moderate-republicans-revenge/index.html

Can moderates get their revenge on DACA?

By: Tal Kopan, CNN

As year-end funding decisions loom, a familiar pattern is repeating, with House conservative Republicans playing hardball to pull their colleagues to the right.

And moderates are increasingly tiring of it — especially after Tuesday’s repudiation of a candidate seen as emblematic of the GOP’s right flank in the Alabama special election.

Government funding and efforts to abolish Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a popular program for young undocumented immigrants, have some moderates increasingly wondering: Why can’t we play hardball, too?

Moderate Republicans and House members in districts that are either generally competitive or which Hillary Clinton carried in the 2016 presidential election are starting to grow frustrated with the effectiveness of groups like the House Freedom Caucus in influencing legislation, often by withholding their votes as a bloc until demands are met.

“Yes,” Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo said with exasperation when CNN asked Wednesday if the time had come for centrists to borrow tactics from the far right.

“We cannot be spectators here,” Curbelo said. “Other groups have used their leverage to influence the process, and we must do so as well, especially when there are 800,000 lives which could be radically changed for the worse if we don’t take care of (DACA).”

“I think last night’s election’s going to cause a lot of people to re-think where we are and what we’re doing,” said New York Republican Rep. Pete King of Democrat Doug Jones’s victory in Alabama.

While the current focus is on passing tax reform, one Republican staffer said patience could be limited once it’s dispensed with, as vulnerable moderates are frustrated with being forced to take tough votes seen in many cases as messaging exercises to appease the conservative base.

“It’s the moderates who are going to have to run in tough elections on this sh**,” the staffer said.

But there remains skepticism that, despite the frustration, moderates can hold together as a group the way conservatives have been able to do, or are willing to stomach the tough tactics the right flank employs.

The conservative House Freedom Caucus, for example, almost tanked a procedural measure on tax reform in a public show of force on the House floor earlier this month to send a message to Speaker Paul Ryan about year-end funding.

And according to a Republican source, rumors have been building around the Capitol that the farther right lawmakers are prepared to challenge Ryan’s speakership immediately if he calls a stand-alone fix for DACA to the floor.

Nearly three dozen moderates, on the other hand, sent a carefully worded letter to Ryan urging him to move on a fix for DACA, which protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children, by the end of the year, without making any concrete threats to withhold any votes on government funding.

Curbelo has committed to oppose government funding without clear progress toward a DACA fix, and is urging fellow Republicans to do the same.

Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican who has decided to not seek reelection, said he agreed with Curbelo that a DACA fix should go on an upcoming must-pass bill, though it could potentially be in January.

“The power of 25 here can force a lot of things,” Dent said, referring to the GOP margin of the majority in the House. “And Freedom Caucus has been effective at it, they can put their votes together, and we need to do that from time to time, (though) we need to pick our fights carefully.”

But one conservative Republican source noted that moderates have always had difficulty being as united as more conservative groups. That sentiment was echoed by King, who referred to the group that former House Speaker John Boehner once called “legislative terrorist(s)” as “crazies” even as he distanced himself from moderates.

“I consider myself actually a blue-collar conservative, I’m not really in the moderate wing, I’m just against some of the crazies,” King told CNN, speaking of his unsuccessful fight against the GOP tax bill he sees as devastating for his state. “It’s hard to unify everybody.”

Some moderates gave credit to the Freedom Caucus, saying their effectiveness should only be a source of inspiration.

“I don’t fault anybody for doing what they believe is best in their way of representing their district,” said Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse, who helped organize the DACA letter. “I respect that. …(But) it’s also incumbent upon me to do the same thing.”

2) How Will Dems Negotiate The DACA Endgame?

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/14/politics/daca-likely-slip-january/index.html

Democrats wrestle with likelihood DACA slips to January

Washington (CNN)Democrats are increasingly grappling with the likelihood that Congress could push a decision on a popular immigration program into January, even as they’ve spent weeks saying it should be dealt with by the end of the year.

“To some extent, yes,” Congressional Hispanic Caucus member and Arizona Democrat Rep. Raúl Grijalva said Thursday on Capitol Hill when asked if there’s a growing realization that the issue will likely slip to January.
“Some of us are holdouts, but if you talk about reality, yeah,” he continued. “I mean, if leadership is not pushing it, they’re not holding the line with members and we have a CR that includes (children’s health funding), which is really, really important, funding for community health centers, then not seeing it before the end of the year becomes more and more precarious.”
Democrats and even some Republicans have not given up on trying to get done a deal to maintain a version of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protected young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation but which President Donald Trump has opted to terminate.
Advocates note the issue is more urgent than portrayed by the administration. More than 20,000 DACA recipients either did not renew or were rejected in the window the government offered, meaning more than 100 lose their status every day before the March 6 deadline the administration intended to set.
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But even as negotiations continue and intensify on both sides of the Capitol to reach a bipartisan compromise on the issue, the likelihood of being able to pass something by the end of the year is rapidly slipping away.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat, hosted a meeting of the Senate negotiators on Thursday afternoon, including Republicans Lindsey Graham, James Lankford, Cory Gardner, Jeff Flake and staff from Sen. Thom Tillis. But all exiting the meeting said while negotiations progressed, no break-throughs have been reached yet. And while some wouldn’t rule it out as a possibility, none expressed much optimism it could be done by the end of the year.
“It’s starting to take form, but we’re still negotiating,” Durbin said.
Tillis, R-North Carolina, said earlier Thursday that negotiators are working on a consensus on how to handle the DACA component of the deal, reconciling different bill approaches that are out there.
“What we’re trying to do is figure out where we have common ground there,” Tillis said. “But we’ll be reaching a point pretty soon to where we have to have a discussion about chain migration, which is very important, the President’s told us, and border security and other things. I would say when we talk about ‘we’re close to an agreement,’ we’re only talking about one half of the broader agreement, so maybe we’re a third of the way there.”
“I think people are having good faith discussions,” he continued. “I can’t imagine it being done by year end.”

Strategic maneuvering

Democrats know that their greatest leverage for many of their priorities is on government funding, which expires a week from Friday. Republicans will likely need Democratic votes to pass a full year of funding, in the Senate and likely in the House where budget hawks traditionally reject domestic spending levels.
But they also have a laundry list of priorities for negotiation, including an overall deal on domestic spending, community health centers, children’s health insurance, pensions and immigration. And five legislative days before funding runs out.
The current plan, according to multiple lawmakers and aides, is for the House to pass a bill that would fund defense for a year, reauthorize children’s health insurance, and punt the rest into January. That bill is dead on arrival in the Senate, where 44 Democrats have gone on record opposing it. The belief is that the Senate will send something back to the House, likely with Obamacare payments or possibly just a short-term funding extension into January. All the while, parties negotiating a DACA deal in both chambers remain optimistic about the progress of talks.
Such a plan could squeeze Democrats, especially in the Senate, to weigh rejecting an opportunity to keep negotiating and risk the government shutting down, or to hold out for more offers from Republicans.
It’s possible that a short-term extension could pass the House without Democratic votes, taking pressure of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who with her caucus has been more vocal about rejecting anything that doesn’t include DACA by the end of the year. House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said many of his members, who are the more troublesome Republicans for the party on funding, could support a punt.
“If it’s just looking at a (continuing resolution) that gets us to January 19 where we can negotiate on a bigger omnibus, I think most of my members will support that,” Meadows, R-North Carolina, told reporters Thursday. “There are some who won’t, but most would be supportive of that.”
In the Senate, Democratic aides believe that January could be an option. They feel there would be no need to force a bad deal now, if a good deal is still attainable in a few weeks’ time. Senators have also been more cautious than their House colleagues.
“I’m hopeful that it will happen. And we’re not there yet on what will happen if it doesn’t happen,” Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono said at a press conference Thursday about pushing for all of Democrats’ priorities by the end of the year, asked whether members would reject a deal to keep making progress on some issues.

Warnings to Democratic leadership

Still, Democrats are warning their leadership that they can’t appear to surrender.
“I think there is a Plan A, a Plan B, a Plan C, a Plan D and a Plan E in the House, I can see that there are more heightened negotiations in the Senate, and I’m dedicated to working 24/7 and I have to say my caucus has been doing that,” Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham said Thursday. “We want something to vote on next week, and we are making that clear to leadership. … So I think we have to stay the course and any conversation that we can wait even 15 days is cruel, unjust, wrong and there’s real harm.”
“I’m not ready to wave the white flag and say let’s see what happens,” Grijalva echoed. “I think the pressure has to be constant on this thing or it will fail.”
The deputy chair of the Democratic Party, Minneosta Rep. Keith Ellison, said Democratic leadership should know that the party base will not accept less than a full fight.
“My advice to anybody in leadership in the House of Representatives is we better do everything imaginable to deliver on DACA or we better we be visibly shown to have done every single thing that could be done,” Ellison said. “Our grassroots base is expecting us to deliver on DACA, and that’s it. … I feel so strongly about this. We cannot fail on this.”

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Tal is amazing! As you probably can tell, I’m a big fan of her reporting: Timely, informative, balanced, easy to read. I’m glad she is on the CNN “immigration beat” — particularly for the “Dreamers” story which is so critical to the fate of our nation (not to mention the Dreamers).

The “Freedom Caucus” is in fact the “Bakuninist Wing” of the GOP: Out to destroy American Government and perhaps take the world with it. They are an existential threat to every American, nearly on the same level as the Trump Administration itself.

Somewhere, Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin –– the “Grandaddy of all Anarchists — must be smiling at how these “valueless bad dudes” can actually “con” constituents into voting for their own (and everyone else’s destruction). Of course, on the way to destruction, they don’t mind freeloading off the public purse. They just mind it when others get their fair share of the pie.

The Dems need to peel off enough GOP moderate support to enact a decent Dream Act. They definitely can’t go with the White Nationalist inspired — essentially racist (let’s be upfront about it) — end of so-called “chain migration.”

Chain migration is actually the White Nationalists’ misnomer for “Beneficial Family Migration” that has helped make America great and is essential to our future success. Yeah, they aren’t all White Christians who arrive with PhDs speaking English (although some family members undoubtedly fit this mold). And, that’s a good thing for both us and them that “they aren’t, and they don’t.”

While I can see a case for some additional immigration enforcement resources, increases  should be limited to technology, management improvements, and  increased legal resources for the ICE Offices of Chief Counsel.

Under NO circumstances should more immigration agents be authorized unless and until DHS improves their current hiring and training practices; abandons “Gonzo enforcement” for a rationally tailored enforcement program along the lines of other law enforcement agencies; and closes down the majority of their unnecessary, wasteful, and counterproductive “American Gulag,” starting with substandard and corrupt private immigration detention facilities.

With the border largely under control, interior enforcement without any discernible plan, rational objectives, or meaningful results, and the U.S. Immigration Courts in complete disarray under Sessions, there is no need for yet more immigration agents at present.

What on earth would they do? “Bust” more janitors, maids, landscapers, mothers, and students who are helping America? Then what? Throw them into the collapsing Immigration Courts which already have enough work for the balance of this Administration?

It’s much more likely that White Nationalists Trump, Sessions, and their cronies would build up an internal security police, to be used against America, than that additional agents would be put to any reasonable, permissible, and constructive use. It’s a prescription for disaster. And, ironically, one that should worry the GOP “Bakuninists.”  Hard to see how expanding Government domestic police resources without rational assignments or goals should be a priority for folks who want to “shrink government, then drown it in a teacup.”

And anyone who says that the so-called “Trump Executive Orders” (an exercise in “Gonzo racist irrationalism” if I’ve ever seen one) is some sort of “reasonable blueprint” has been smoking some stuff stronger than can legally be bought in Colorado. Yeah, Trump can issue any Executive Order he wants to. But, he can’t fund most of his unnecessary initiatives without Congressional permission. This is Congress’s chance to force some rationality back into the U.S. Immigration enforcement system, which has taken a decidedly irrational, racist, and xenophobic turn under Trump and Sessions.

PWS

12-14-17

TAL @ CNN: TRUMP’s CLAIM THAT IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONS WOULD PREVENT TERRORISM RINGS HOLLOW — Critics Say More Likely That Campaign Of Hate, Fear, Loathing, & Isolation Promotes Radical Terrorism!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/12/politics/new-york-attacker-domestic-radicalization-trump-administration/index.html

Tal reports:

“But given that Ullah began his radicalization in the US years after immigrating, and that the previous New York attacker, Sayfullo Saipov, was also radicalized in the US, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, critics are accusing the administration of disingenuously pushing its aggressive immigration agenda.

Reacting to Cissna’s turn at the podium, Gregory Chen, director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, called it “baldly transparent” that the administration could not make a sufficient connection between the immigration programs it is targeting and terrorism.
“They are just using this as a way to scapegoat and attack the immigration system, this particular incident, when there’s no demonstrated connection between cutting back on the family-based system and protecting our national security,” Chen said. “That was so transparent from that (briefing).”
Experts say family-based migration achieves the goals of assimilation that the administration says it wants, by connecting individuals from abroad with family members already settled in the US.
All immigrants to the US are screened for security risks, which Cissna acknowledged on Tuesday. Although diversity lottery winners are chosen at random and family-based migrants are allowed in based on their relatives, all of them must pass eligibility checks by the US and be interviewed before they can receive visas.

Critics argue that the administration is ignoring the threat of online radicalization by terror groups in its pursuit of dramatic cuts to the legal immigration system.
“It’s worse than not effective, it’s counterproductive,” said Michael Breen, president and CEO of the Truman Center and Truman National Security Project, whose membership includes former national security officials and veterans of the Obama and Clinton administrations.
Breen said that responding effectively to terrorist ideologies requires creating a “sense of national unity,” and that to be “opportunistic” with an agenda instead could lead to more radicalization.

“The more we alienate people, the more difficult it is to prevent radicalization,” Breen said. “It is not good policy to categorize large parts of your population as outside the national identity.”

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Read Tal’s complete article at the link.

The Trump/Sessions/Bannon/Miller White Nationalist restrictionist immigration agenda has NEVER been about protecting America from terrorism. That’s just a smokescreen for an unrelenting (and counterproductive) program of racist, antiMuslim, anti-foreigner hysteria. In other words, the White Nationalist agenda of dividing and destroying America as we know it.

PWS

12-13-17

 

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

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

Honor Killings and Particular Social Group

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2017 Jeffrey S. Chase.  All rights reserved.

Notes:

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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My recent blog blog on this same case is here:

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

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

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

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

PWS

12-04-17