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

Safari – Oct 16, 2017 at 10:17 AM

Inaccurate claims from Mr. Sessions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

10-16-17

TRUMP PICKS DHS “INSIDER” KIRSTJEN NIELSEN AS NEXT DHS SECRETARY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-expected-to-tap-kirstjen-nielsen-to-lead-department-of-homeland-security/2017/10/11/21770f8e-aeaf-11e7-9e58-e6288544af98_story.html

Ashley Parker and Matt Zapotosky report for the Washington Post:

“President Trump announced Wednesday that he intends to nominate Kirstjen Nielsen, a cybersecurity expert and deputy White House chief of staff, to be Homeland Security secretary, a job left vacant when John F. Kelly departed to become White House chief of staff in July.

The White House, in a statement, described Nielsen as having “extensive professional experience in the areas of homeland security policy and strategy, cybersecurity, critical infrastructure, and emergency management.”

Nielsen is a longtime Homeland Security Department official who served as Kelly’s chief of staff when he was DHS secretary and accompanied him to the White House as his deputy. She also worked at the DHS during the George W. Bush administration and founded a consulting firm focused on risk and security management.

Other contenders for the Cabinet post included Tom Bossert, Trump’s homeland security adviser, and Kevin McAleenan, the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

[Trump slow to replace John Kelly at DHS as immigration, security challenges continue]

Nielsen had one crucial advantage — the absolute trust and support of Kelly, to whom she grew close after volunteering to be a “sherpa” to him as he went through the confirmation process this year.

 

At the White House, as Kelly’s enforcer, Nielsen quickly emerged as a controversial presence. Her detractors viewed her no-nonsense style as brusque and complained that she could be unresponsive as she worked with Kelly to streamline operations and instill discipline in a White House often lacking structure. But her allies and supporters said she was simply helping to professionalize the West Wing — the sort of necessary but thankless task that often leaves some staff members griping.

Nielsen will inherit a massive and important portfolio. The Department of Homeland Security is considered a critical agency on matters of counterterrorism and national security. It is the agency, for example, that informed states they had been targeted by Russian hackers during the 2016 election campaign, and it would be responsible for monitoring and preventing such incidents in the future.

But it also bears primary responsibility for immigration enforcement and border protection — top priorities in the Trump administration. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has been coordinating the government’s response to several recent hurricanes, the Secret Service, which protects the president and his family, and the Transportation Security Administration, which handles airport and other transportation-related security, are also a part of the DHS.

 

Nielsen is likely to have to navigate no shortage of controversies. Homeland Security officials will play a key role in implementing Trump’s new entry ban, which is scheduled to fully take effect Oct. 18, and agency officials are also at the center of the president’s decision to wind down DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — which allowed undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to avoid deportation.

The DHS, along with the Justice Department, has been energetic in implementing Trump’s promised crackdown on illegal immigration — employing aggressive, controversial tactics such as arresting people suspected of being in the country illegally while they were in court seeking redress on matters including domestic violence complaints. Immigration agents have made 43 percent more arrests since Trump took office than in the same time period last year, but fewer deportations have taken place than in the comparable period last year.

Nielsen is not expected to face a difficult confirmation process in the Senate. She is widely viewed as a competent, experienced and nonpartisan security professional.

Given that polarizing and ideological figures such as former Milwaukee County sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach were previously rumored to be in the running for the DHS job, mostly for their hard-line views on immigration, the Nielsen choice would be more evidence of Kelly’s ability to consolidate control and move the administration in a more conventional, mainstream direction.

 

Some of the president’s senior advisers, including Stephen Miller, were said to favor an immigration hard-liner who would excite Trump’s base.

But the Nielsen pick would preserve the DHS’s reputation as an agency whose core mission is counterterrorism and national security.

Democrats and critics of the president said they were looking for a nominee with counterterrorism experience and a familiarity with DHS operations, and Nielsen would qualify on both counts.

Today’s WorldView
What’s most important from where the world meets Washington
Sign up
“Nielsen’s nomination is a strong signal of competence and experience being valued by the White House over ideologues and outsiders,” said Stewart Verdery, a Republican lobbyist who worked in the department during the George W. Bush administration. “The homeland mission requires an unusual, diverse set of skills, and she has expertise in almost all of them.”

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge (R), the first secretary of homeland security, said in a statement that Nielsen was a “homeland security veteran” who was “extremely well versed in the all-hazard threats” challenging the nation’s security and resilience.

 

“Kirstjen can hit the ground running and there won’t be a learning curve,” Ridge said. “Most importantly, in this hyper-political environment, Kirstjen is not a self-promoter. She is a patriot and takes a mission-focused approach to her work.”

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

Seems like a logical, qualified choice. Pretty scary, since Trump almost never acts logically nor are the majority of his most visible picks qualified for their positions.

That being said, it probably doesn’t make much difference for immigration. The de facto DHS Secretary for Immigration is Sessions. And the “Gonzo” Enforcement policies are driven by Sessions’s White Nationalist xenophobia, parrotted by ICE’s Tom Homan, and the largely arbitrary whims of line agents. That’s not likely to change under Nielsen.

PWS

10-11-17

MORE GRATUITOUS CRUELTY AND BOGUS “LAW ENFORCEMENT” FROM DHS – DIMINISHING AMERICA AND MAKING ALL OF US SMALLER EVERY DAY – THAT’S THE TRUMP-SESSIONS-HOMAN WAY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/she-cant-bear-to-leave-her-kids-but-she-doesnt-want-to-be-a-criminal/2017/10/09/44c40ea2-acfb-11e7-be94-fabb0f1e9ffb_story.html?utm_term=.63f3cbd1471b&wpisrc=nl_buzz&wpmm=1

Petula Dvorak reports for the Washington Post:

“Every night that the girls get home from soccer practice, do homework and eat dinner may be the last time they get to do this with their mom.

They all know this.

So every moment this week is being savored and remembered. They take extra walks together. Catia Paz’s husband cooks all of her favorite dinners. And she always agrees to read one more story to her daughters, 6 and 8, at bedtime.

The worst part? None of this has to happen.

Paz, 32, is facing a separation of at least 10 years from her husband and children because of political whim. And if you’ve recently supported the crackdown on immigration, please read on to see what that looks like in this small living room in Northern Virginia.

Paz has until Friday to self-deport.

Not because she committed a crime.

She’s a high school graduate (3.1 GPA) and an active church member. She’s worked at the same Nordstrom for the past 11 years. She’s on the snack rotation of her daughter’s soccer team. She could be any suburban mom.

But because she was 17 when she escaped her war-torn home town in El Salvador — not the cutoff age of 16 — even a miracle deal on the “dreamers,” those covered by the controversial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, wouldn’t help her.

The rest of her sprawling extended family — all 65 of them — have legal status.

“I know they want the bad hombres out,” Paz said, sitting in the living room of the tiny home in Woodbridge, Va., she and her husband bought last year. “I want them out, too. But I’m not one of them.”

She knows the arguments, hears the hatred. People saying they support immigration but only legal immigration.

“For their families, when they came, there weren’t all these papers. It wasn’t so hard,” she said. “It is all different now.”

Paz crossed the border illegally 15 years ago to escape the violence in El Salvador and join her parents, who were already in the United States. The immigration system learned about her presence in the country when her father applied for permanent residence under an act welcoming refugees from Central American violence. Instead, the parents got temporary protective status. Her sister got DACA protection because she was 16 when she came, but Catia got nothing; she’d arrived too late to qualify.

In 2011, an immigration judge ordered her removed from the country. She fought to remain, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement granted her multiple stays from 2012 to 2015, an agency spokeswoman said.

She was enrolled in ICE’s alternatives-to-detention program, but in September, when she checked in, she was given an ankle monitor and a deadline — self-deport by Oct. 13.

If she leaves, she can’t return for 10 years. So that means if her daughters, Genesis and Alison, stayed they would be 18 and 16 before they could see their mother again in the country of their birth.

Paz could just stay and hope something will work out, that the tide of popular opinion will turn, that a last-minute appeal by her lawyer will come through, that lawmakers, who are nearly all descendants of immigrants, will belatedly recognize what they are doing to families such as hers.

“But then, I’d always be scared,” she said. “They could grab me and deport me anytime. I don’t want my kids to see that. And if I stayed, I would be a criminal.”

“I’m not a criminal,” she said. “I want to keep a clean record.”

One of Paz’s friends in a similar situation decided to stay. She simply couldn’t leave her small children, so she stayed past her self-deportation date, hoping to go undetected.

“But a police officer pulled her over one day. She was taking her kids to school,” Paz said. “He said her back light wasn’t working.”

The woman was sent to a detention facility in another state, then immediately deported. She didn’t get to say goodbye to her kids.

“She finally had the kids sent to her,” Paz said. “But that’s not good, either. They are American citizens who now can’t even go to a good school.”

So that’s her dilemma. Does she hunker down and try to eke out as many days with her kids as possible, knowing she can be arrested and deported any minute?

Does she take them with her to a war-torn town, costing them the education and opportunities they’d have in their own country, in exchange for a childhood with their mother?

Or should she just keep her clean record, kiss her husband and kids goodbye and get on a plane Friday?

This is what she and her husband, German, talk about every night, after the girls are in bed.

He works construction, and he can get off early and pick them up every day after school, he offers. He already does the cooking, so that part won’t be hard. But, but. It’s all so hard.

Does any of this sound like our country to you?

I left their home the other day sad, but mostly furious. How can we tear apart good families like this one?

Catia Paz is not alone. There are 4 million parents like her who would have had a temporary, three-year reprieve with President Barack Obama’s 2014 Deferred Action for Parents of Americans executive order.

“Felons, not families,” Obama said, explaining who would be deported and protected under his order. “Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids.”

But no. It was challenged at the Supreme Court, and, in June, the Trump administration rescinded the executive order.

Now Paz must decide: Be a mother or a criminal? And we must decide: Who are we?”

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

Cowardly cruelty masquerading as “macho law enforcement” at DHS. This isn’t law enforcement. Every decent American should be ashamed both of our current broken immigration system and what DHS has become under Trump & Sessions. Every day of the Trump Administration diminishes America. By the time he and his cronies are done, our national conscience will be so small “you could drown it in a teacup.”

PWS

10-09-17

 

FRAUD, WASTE, & ABUSE: DHS Ups “Gonzo Interior Enforcement” – Now On Pace to Eliminate “Undocumented Immigrant Menace” By 2120 — Damage to Trust Between Ethnic Communities Likely To Last Even Longer!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/deportations-from-the-interior-of-the-united-states-are-rising-under-trump/2017/10/07/44a14224-a912-11e7-b3aa-c0e2e1d41e38_story.htm

Maria Sacchetti reports for the Washington Post:

“Deportations from the interior of the United States are rising under President Trump as the administration expands enforcement from the U.S.-Mexico border and into immigrant communities deeper inside the country.

From Jan. 22 to Sept. 9, officials deported nearly 54,000 immigrants from the interior, a 34 percent increase over the same period last year, and said that they expect the numbers to climb.

But U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement suffered a major blow Thursday when California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed legislation designed to shield thousands of immigrants from deportation. The law takes effect Jan. 1.

“These are uncertain times for undocumented Californians and their families,” the governor wrote after signing the bill limiting the state’s cooperation with ICE. He said the legislation would bring “a measure of comfort to those families who are now living in fear every day.”

On Friday, ICE acting director Thomas Homan blasted the law, which he said will “undermine public safety” and compel agents to arrest immigrants at work or home instead of picking them up at jails once they post bail. He also suggested that the law will increase the possibility that undocumented immigrants with no criminal records will be arrested.

“ICE will also likely have to detain individuals arrested in California in detention facilities outside of the state, far from any family they may have,” he said in a statement.

The California law is the latest contrarian effort since the Trump administration took office vowing to deport undocumented immigrants — including 2 million to 3 million criminals, though it has not come close to doing so.

In addition to the California law, cities and towns in Texas are battling in federal court over a new state law that requires local jurisdictions to hold immigrants arrested for local crimes past their release dates so that federal agents can take them into custody and try to deport them. An appeals court recently allowed part of that law to take effect. The two states are home to the largest populations of undocumented immigrants, accounting for 4 million of the 11 million people in the United States illegally.

Federal judges have also temporarily blocked the president’s January executive order that sought to restrict federal funding to what are known as sanctuary cities, which limit their cooperation with immigration agents.

The lawsuits and state policies are playing out amid increasing anxiety among immigrants across the nation. Last month, the Trump administration announced that it will phase out an Obama-era program that protected from deportation 690,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

Congress is considering legislation that would extend protection for the young immigrants, but in exchange, some conservative lawmakers are pushing for increased immigration enforcement.

For now, immigration officials said that they are forging ahead with arrests, which are up more than 40 percent this year. But they acknowledged that sanctuary cities are making it difficult to increase the number of annual deportations to past levels.

From 2008 to 2011, which included part of President Barack Obama’s first term, officials deported more than 200,000 immigrants from the interior every year.

Back then, immigration officials had ready access to local prisons and jails, which made it easier to detain and deport criminals. Obama also expanded a fingerprint-sharing program, Secure Communities, that alerts immigration agents when potential undocumented immigrants are arrested for local crimes.

But once local officials realized that immigration agents were also scooping up immigrants arrested for minor violations, such as traffic offenses, they severely limited their cooperation with ICE, becoming sanctuary jurisdictions. These policies, and Obama’s own restrictions on immigration agents, resulted in a sharp drop in interior deportations. Since 2012, the majority of deportations have happened along the southern border.

Trump’s critics say immigration agents are portraying hard-working immigrants as criminals and destabilizing their communities, making immigrants afraid to report crimes or even venture outside.

Last month, federal agents arrested nearly 500 immigrants in sanctuary cities and towns, including Baltimore and D.C., and vowed to return “every week” if they refuse to cooperate.

“We’re not sleeping well at night,” said Dave Cortese, president of the board of supervisors in California’s Santa Clara County, which filed one of the federal lawsuits against Trump’s efforts to yank federal funding from sanctuary jurisdictions. “We’re on high alert all the time.”

But Homan, the ICE acting director, said sanctuary policies often shield immigrants who have been accused, or convicted, of serious crimes. As an example, immigration agents said they asked the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office in August to hold Nery Israel Estrada Margos, a Guatemalan man arrested for felony domestic violence. Instead, they released him on bail, and days later he was arrested for allegedly killing his girlfriend, Veronica Cabrera Ramirez.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said it shares information with ICE but does not hold immigrants after they are granted bail because some courts have ruled that officials do not have the authority to do so.

Although the Trump administration’s chief goal is to deport criminals, it is still expelling significant numbers of people who never committed any crimes. From January to Sept. 9, ICE deported a total of 142,818 immigrants from the border and the U.S. interior, including 83,254 people who were criminals and 59,564 who were not.

Among the noncriminals deported are Lizandro Claros Saravia and his brother Diego; Lizandro was a soccer star in Maryland who had a college scholarship but instead was sent to El Salvador. Also deported there this year was Liliana Cruz Mendez, a Falls Church woman whose driving offense was pardoned by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D). Roberto Beristain, an Indiana restaurant owner who had been in the United States for nearly 20 years, was deported to Mexico.

Federal records show that 92 percent of the 97,482 immigrants arrested this year for deportation have been convicted of a crime, have charges pending, were immigration fugitives or had been previously deported.”

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

America is still suffering from the breach of trust between authorities and the African-American community going back to immediately following reconstruction. Trump, Sessions, Homan, and others are looking to cause a similar breach with Hispanic and ethnic communities that will last much longer than they will. “Gonzo” law enforcement — directed at individuals who happen to be undocumented but actually reside and work here and are part of our communities — has absolutely nothing to do with legitimate law enforcement. Indeed it makes and will continue to make legitimate law enforcement aimed at criminals and others who threaten the health and safety of our communities immeasurably more difficult.

Looking at the most “optimistic” figures, it would take the Sessions-Homan crew at least 100 years of “accelerated interior enforcement” to remove all of the undocumented migrants currently in the US. So that’s not going to happen. In such a situation, enforcement that isn’t carefully targeted at criminals and others who are actual threats to our communities becomes both arbitrary and highly counterproductive. This is a powerful argument against giving DHS any more enforcement personnel until they demonstrate a willingness and a commitment to using them in a rational manner consistent with the national interest.

PWS

10-08-17

SUPREMES HEAR ARGUMENTS ON LONG-TERM PRE-HEARING IMMIGRATION DETENTION! — JENNINGS V. RODRIGUEZ

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-debates-long-detentions-for-immigrants-facing-deportation/2017/10/03/a96a5300-a852-11e7-850e-2bdd1236be5d_story.html

Ann E. Marimow reports for the Washington Post:

“The Supreme Court’s liberal justices dominated discussion Tuesday about the prolonged detention of immigrants facing deportation, expressing concern about the government holding noncitizens indefinitely without a hearing.

At issue for the court is whether immigrants slated for deportation have the right to a bail hearing and possible release after six months if they are not a flight risk and pose no danger to the public.

The conservative justices were less vocal but expressed skepticism about whether the court should be setting firm deadlines for hearings in immigration cases.

A lawyer for the Justice Department told the high court that noncitizens — whether documented or undocumented immigrants — have no constitutional right to be in the United States.

The justices were taking a second look at the issue after an evenly divided court could not reach a decision last term and scheduled the case for reargument. With Justice Neil M. Gorsuch having joined the bench since then, he could cast the deciding vote.

[‘It will be momentous’: Supreme Court embarks on new term]

The case reached the high court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that immigrants fighting deportation are entitled to bond hearings if they have been held for more than six months. A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, representing a group of noncitizens held for more than a year without a hearing, told the Supreme Court that the outcome of the case will affect thousands of people held in jaillike detention centers.

 

The outcome takes on heightened significance as President Trump has vowed to broadly increase immigration enforcement across the United States. Immigration arrests are up sharply since he took office in January, but deportations are down this year, in part because of a significant drop in illegal crossings on the southern border with Mexico.

The Supreme Court has previously held that undocumented immigrants are entitled to some form of due process when contesting their detention but also that “brief” detentions were allowed. Courts have interpreted those rulings in different ways, with the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit, for instance, requiring more procedural safeguards for those who would be held for months or even years.

The court’s liberals on Tuesday pressed Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm L. Stewart about why immigrants in detention centers are treated differently than criminal defendants, who automatically receive hearings to determine whether they remain locked up pending trial.

 

Justice Stephen G. Breyer noted that even a criminal suspect accused of “triple ax murders” is entitled to a bail hearing. “That to me is a little odd,” Breyer said, his voice rising.

Without time limits, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, noncitizens languish in detention centers, sometimes for years. “That’s lawlessness,” she said.

During the previous argument last term, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy asserted that the constitutionality of the federal law was not at issue. But on Tuesday, he seemed more sympathetic to arguments in favor of a guaranteed timeline. He asked Stewart whether a lengthy delay because of a shortage of immigration judges was permissible and suggested that there should be a concretedeadline.

“Isn’t a bright line rule an easier way?” Kennedy asked.

Justice Elena Kagan followed up and asked whether a five-year backlog, for instance, was allowed. In response, Stewart said, an immigrant fighting deportation could always choose to return to his or her home country.

[Supreme Court considers whether those facing deportation can be held indefinitely]

The six-month deadline that the 9th Circuit set applies to a wide range of immigrants, from people detained after entering the United States for the first time to longtime legal residents. The case was brought by Alejandro Rodriguez, a lawful permanent resident who came to the country as an infant. The Department of Homeland Security started removal proceedings because of a conviction for drug possession and an earlier conviction for joyriding.

It can be done by Congress or by regulation, Alito said. But, he asked, “Where does it say six months in the Constitution?”

The case is Jennings v. Rodriguez.

Staff writers Maria Sacchetti and Robert Barnes contributed to this report.“

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

OK, let’s get to the heart of the disingenuous argument by the Solicitor General in behalf of DHS. A respondent is entitled to due process hearing before he or she can be removed from the United States. But, according to the Government, the respondent has no Constitutional right to be in the United States for that Constitutionally-required hearing. And, as we know, Immigration Courts have backlogs of over 600,000 cases, with hearings often taking four or more years to schedule.

The SG’s position doesn’t even pass then”straight face” test. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the majority of Justices won’t agree with it!

PWS

10-03-17

 

 

 

MAKING AMERICA GREAT: While Trump Tweets Insults, American Hero Jose Andres Feeds The Needy In Puerto Rico!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/food/wp/2017/09/29/jose-andres-a-naturalized-u-s-citizen-has-become-the-face-of-american-disaster-relief/

Tim Carman reports for the Washington Post:

October 1 at 1:11 PM
Families in the La Perla neighborhood of San Juan get water from a cistern truck. (Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post)

Unlike the president, Homeland Security or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, José Andrés has no responsibility to respond to natural disasters, and yet the Washington celebrity chef has become a reliable presence in disaster zones, deploying his Chef Network to help feed thousands of displaced people.

Andrés was among the first responders in Haiti and Houston, and now he and his crew from World Central Kitchen are on the ground in Puerto Rico, improvising ways to feed countless residents who are stranded without electricity, drinking water and food in the wake of Hurricane Maria. With little ability to speak with the outside world, Andrés has used his Twitter feed to keep followers updated on his progress in the U.S. territory.

If President Trump has become a target of criticism for the administration’s response in Puerto Rico, Andrés has become a hero. The restaurateur’s social networks are overflowing with words of praise for the native Spaniard who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2013.

Heroism has not come easy in Puerto Rico.

“Today’s a hard day,” he said in a video posted Thursday to Twitter. “We’ve been getting deliveries, but we’ve been missing a few things. When we have bread, we don’t have cheese . . . But more or less, things keep falling into place.”

Andrés and company landed in Puerto Rico on Monday and wasted little time. He posted a photo of himself ladling out sancocho — a Puerto Rican beef stew — to locals. He also started soliciting donations and volunteers to help with the massive task of feeding a population that has survived two hurricanes: Irma early in September, followed by Maria later in the month. The Category 4 Maria was the strongest storm to directly hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years, wiping out power to the entire island.

Since arriving, Andrés has teamed up with chef José Enrique, a native son whose eponymous restaurant in the Santurce district of San Juan has served as one of two bases for meal preparations. The other is Mesa 364, a private-events restaurant launched by chef Enrique L. Piñeiro. Volunteers from the island and the U.S. mainland, working under the hashtag #chefsforPuertoRico, have prepared stews, sandwiches, paella and pastelon (a Puerto Rican lasagna with fried sweet plantains for “noodles”) for those in hospitals, senior homes and San Juan neighborhoods. They’ve used food trucks to help distribute meals.

In a series of tweets published Sunday, in fact, Andrés offered a number of suggestions to the president.

This isn’t the first time Andrés has set himself against the president: In April, the two settled lawsuits against each other after Andrés backed out of his lease to open a restaurant in Trump International Hotel.

He also tweeted:

According to Andrés’s PR team back in Washington, the crews in Puerto Rico are now feeding 5,000 people a day, and since Monday, they have served more than 15,000 meals. (In late August, Andrés was in Houston with World Central Kitchen, where they served 20,000 meals for victims of Hurricane Harvey.)

You could make the argument that his relief efforts in Puerto Rico are more personal to Andrés. He has a restaurant on the island: Mi Casa is a modern Caribbean restaurant inside a Ritz-Carlton property in Dorado, just west of San Juan. The restaurant took a hit from Maria and remains closed.

“While they are undergoing efforts to restore operations at the property, guests are not able to make reservations,” emailed Margaret Chaffee, spokeswoman for ThinkFoodGroup, parent group for Andrés’s family of restaurants.

Despite poor cell coverage on the island and a packed schedule, Andrés called The Post to provide a brief update on his team’s efforts. Well, sort of. The first words out of the chef’s mouth were, “I’m sorry, but I cannot speak right now.”

Andrés then spent the next five minutes answering questions, as those around him urged the chef to move along to the next task at hand. Andrés said they’re feeding close to 8,000 people daily now, between the two San Juan restaurants and the food trucks.

When asked how he’s managing to get supplies on the island, Andrés just said, “When you have a credit card, everything is possible.”

Andrés would like to expand his relief operations to Vieques, the small island off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. Vieques has been essentially cut off from all communications and supplies since Maria hit. But he’s not sure that will happen.

“We have to be realistic about what we can do,” Andrés said.

The celebrity chef said he was due back in Washington already but decided to extend his stay in Puerto Rico. He isn’t expected back in the District until next week.

“I cannot leave,” he said.

Then he begged off. His team was signaling him to get off the phone. “I really have to go,” he said.

This post originally published Sept. 29; it has been updated.”

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

Read the original with all of the tweets and pictures at the link.

Jose Andres, a naturalized U.s. citizen is a talented, decent, caring, giving human being and an inspirational leader. Native-born American Nativist Donald Trump, the Charlatan-In-Chief, not so much.

PWS

10-02-17

THE GRIFTERS: Party Of Liars — GOP Tax Plan Proposes To Loot America For the Rich, Limit Government Services For Everyone Else, & Leave Future Generations To Pay The Price — Not Surprisingly, They Lie About It And Assume That Non-Fat-Cat Supporters Are Too Dumb Or Biased to Figure It Out! — Fact Checker Gives GOP Politicos Coveted “Four Pinocchios!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/09/29/trump-aides-sell-tax-plan-with-pinocchio-laden-claims/

Glenn Kessler writes for the “Fact Checker” in the Washington Post.

The wealthy are not getting a tax cut under our plan.”
— Gary Cohn, director of the White House Economic Council, in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Sept. 28, 2017

“The numbers are about a trillion and a half to the baseline. But more importantly, it’s a trillion dollars to policy, which is the right way of looking at it. We think there will be $2 trillion of growth. So we think this tax plan will cut down the deficits by a trillion dollars.”
— Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, in an interview on Fox News, Sept. 28

In selling President Trump’s tax plan, his aides have resorted to making strikingly misleading statements to defend it.

At the moment, there are few details about the tax plan, only broad strokes. That makes it easier for the administration to make big claims as analysts scramble to try to make sense of the plan’s possible impact. That will be much harder once an actual tax bill is written and the details can be analyzed in depth.

In the meantime, we have a pair of Four-Pinocchio claims that are worth highlighting.

 

‘The wealthy are not getting a tax cut under our plan’

The Trump tax plan drops the top bracket from 39.6 to 35 percent, and allows for the possibility of a 25 percent top rate through a pass-through entity. It presumably would also eliminate a 3.8 percent Obamacare tax on investment income that hits only upper-income taxpayers.

So, on its face, this is a ridiculous statement to make for any plan that includes reductions in tax rates. That’s because federal income taxes are paid mostly by the wealthy. So when you cut income tax rates, it results in lots of dollars for the wealthiest taxpayers.

According to Treasury Department data, the top 10 percent of income earners in 2016 paid 80 percent of individual income taxes. The top 20 percent paid 94.8 percent. The top 0.1 percent paid an astonishing 24.5 percent of taxes.

In 2014, the latest year Internal Revenue Service data is available, just the top 400 taxpayers — with $127 billion of income — paid $29.4 billion in income taxes, or more than 2 percent of all income taxes. That’s more than the bottom 70 percent of taxpayers combined.

 

In other words, the vast majority of American taxpayers pay little or nothing in income taxes; they instead mostly pay payroll taxes such as Social Security and Medicare. So it really strains credulity for administration officials such as Cohn to say the wealthy will not get a tax cut.

The wealthy pay most of the taxes, so unless the tax plan specifically leaves them untouched — which Trump’s plan does not — they will get big tax cuts. This is why distributional tables often look so lopsided when tax rates are reduced. The administration has suggested that another, higher rate level might be added, presumably so the distributional tables won’t look so ugly, but right now the plan calls for a significant reduction in the top rate.

Besides a reduction in the top tax rate, the tax plan would eliminate the alternative minimum tax (AMT). That in theory should be a boon for the wealthy as well, although it increasingly has snared families in the upper middle class, especially if they live in high-tax states or have many children.

 

The administration has called for eliminating the itemized deduction for state and local taxes, as well as the personal/dependent exemptions, which are key add-ons when calculating the AMT. (If those items were eliminated from the AMT, the number of tax filers facing the AMT would drop by 95 percent, according to the Joint Committee of Taxation.)

So it’s possible that for many people it would be a wash, or even a net loser, depending on whether a tax filer lives in a state with high taxes. According to JCT, the AMT is paid by 36 percent of returns with income of between $200,000 and $500,000, nearly 55 percent between $500,000 and $1 million, and nearly 18 percent above $1 million.

Still, in 2014, the top 400 taxpayers paid nearly $700 million because of the alternative minimum tax, nearly 2.5 percent of the total. The one recent tax return of President Trump that has leaked — for 2005 — shows his tax bill increased $31 million because of the AMT.

Finally, the tax plan calls for eliminating the estate tax, although it is unclear on whether any tax would be required when someone dies. Currently, the estate tax is estimated to affect only about 5,500 estates out of nearly 3 million estates because as much as $11 million can be shielded from taxation.

 

In theory, assets would be subject to capital gains tax instead, which could actually affect more people, but that has not been specified in the administration’s tax outline. If the administration also eliminates the gift tax and does not tax capital gains at death, some income earned by the wealthy may never be taxed.

“We strongly believe the final tax bill will not cut taxes for the wealthy as a class — but there is no way to solve for every single individual in the country,” a White House official said.

‘We think this tax plan will cut down the deficits by a trillion dollars’

Mnuchin made this statement in response to an observation that the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has estimated the tax plan would reduce revenue by $2.2 trillion over 10 years. (Including additional interest on the debt, CRFB estimated the deficit would increase by $2.7 trillion.) He argued that instead there would be an additional $2 trillion in revenue from economic growth, resulting in a $1 trillion reduction in the deficit.

Cohn, briefing reporters at the White House a few hours later, offered a different estimate: “We know that 1 percent change in GDP will add $3 trillion back. So if they’re right, we’re only going to pay down $800 billion of the deficit. I’ll live with a $800 billion paydown.”

It’s a little odd that Mnuchin is anticipating $2 trillion in revenue and Cohn is anticipating $3 trillion in revenue. But these are both very rosy estimates of the impact of a tax cut in economic growth. No serious economist believes that a tax cut boosts economic growth so much that the tax cut pays for itself.

The Congressional Budget Office, under Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a Republican, in 2005 estimated that a 10 percent reduction in federal income tax rates would have macroeconomic feedbacks of between 15 and 30 percent. In other words, a $1 trillion tax cut might yield $150 billion to $300 billion in additional revenue. That still means a reduction in revenue of as much as $700 billion.

“The big problem is that there is no fully specified plan,” Holtz-Eakin said. “Without one, you can’t gauge the growth or know the budget cost. I’m broadly sympathetic to the framework, but it is a start, not the finish.”

As Holtz-Eakin put it earlier this year in an opinion column for The Washington Post: “Proposing trillions of dollars in tax cuts and then casually asserting that such a plan would ‘pay for itself with growth’ … is detached from empirical reality.”

Indeed, contrary to popular perception, even Ronald Reagan predicted revenue would fall as a result of his big 1981 tax cut that reduced tax rates. That is shown in Reagan administration and Congressional Budget Office scores of the Reagan tax plan reproduced in a 2011 article for Tax Notes by Bruce Bartlett, who helped craft the 1981 tax cut as a congressional aide at the time. The estimates turned out to be wrong because the 1981-1982 recession was deeper than expected and inflation fell more rapidly than expected, so Reagan boosted taxes just one year after his tax cut.

William A. Niskanen, chairman of Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors, co-wrote a paper in 1996 that defended Reagan’s economic record but also said it was “an enduring myth” that Reagan officials believed tax cuts would pay for themselves. “This was nonsense from day one, because the credible evidence overwhelmingly indicates that revenue feedbacks from tax cuts is 35 cents per dollar, at most,” Niskanen wrote, noting that “the Reagan administration never assumed that the tax cuts would pay for themselves.”

A Treasury Department study on the impact of tax bills since 1940, first released in 2006 and later updated, found that the 1981 tax cut reduced revenue by $208 billion in its first four years. George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut — also a rate cut — led to a revenue loss of $91 billion, over four years, the Treasury paper calculated. (The figures are rendered in constant 2012 dollars.)

Both the Reagan and Bush tax cuts came during periods of economic stress, which is certainly not the case now. So there is less room now for a big swing upward in the economy, especially with the country’s aging workforce.

The Treasury Department did not respond to a query for an explanation of Mnuchin’s math. But frankly it is irresponsible for a treasury secretary to claim a certain amount of growth or revenue without even producing the details of a plan, as the details determine the impact on the economy.

The Pinocchio Test

Though the details of the tax plan are sparse, both Cohn and Mnuchin made statements that are simply false. Of course the wealthy will do well under the tax cut, even if certain deductions are eliminated, and it’s silly to pretend otherwise. And it’s a fantasy to claim that the tax cut will pay for itself — and even reduce the deficit — especially in an economy that already has low unemployment and a booming stock market.

Four 🤥

The wealthy are not getting a tax cut under our plan.”
— Gary Cohn, director of the White House Economic Council, in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Sept. 28, 2017

“The numbers are about a trillion and a half to the baseline. But more importantly, it’s a trillion dollars to policy, which is the right way of looking at it. We think there will be $2 trillion of growth. So we think this tax plan will cut down the deficits by a trillion dollars.”
— Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, in an interview on Fox News, Sept. 28

In selling President Trump’s tax plan, his aides have resorted to making strikingly misleading statements to defend it.

At the moment, there are few details about the tax plan, only broad strokes. That makes it easier for the administration to make big claims as analysts scramble to try to make sense of the plan’s possible impact. That will be much harder once an actual tax bill is written and the details can be analyzed in depth.

In the meantime, we have a pair of Four-Pinocchio claims that are worth highlighting.

 

‘The wealthy are not getting a tax cut under our plan’

The Trump tax plan drops the top bracket from 39.6 to 35 percent, and allows for the possibility of a 25 percent top rate through a pass-through entity. It presumably would also eliminate a 3.8 percent Obamacare tax on investment income that hits only upper-income taxpayers.

So, on its face, this is a ridiculous statement to make for any plan that includes reductions in tax rates. That’s because federal income taxes are paid mostly by the wealthy. So when you cut income tax rates, it results in lots of dollars for the wealthiest taxpayers.

According to Treasury Department data, the top 10 percent of income earners in 2016 paid 80 percent of individual income taxes. The top 20 percent paid 94.8 percent. The top 0.1 percent paid an astonishing 24.5 percent of taxes.

In 2014, the latest year Internal Revenue Service data is available, just the top 400 taxpayers — with $127 billion of income — paid $29.4 billion in income taxes, or more than 2 percent of all income taxes. That’s more than the bottom 70 percent of taxpayers combined.

 

In other words, the vast majority of American taxpayers pay little or nothing in income taxes; they instead mostly pay payroll taxes such as Social Security and Medicare. So it really strains credulity for administration officials such as Cohn to say the wealthy will not get a tax cut.

The wealthy pay most of the taxes, so unless the tax plan specifically leaves them untouched — which Trump’s plan does not — they will get big tax cuts. This is why distributional tables often look so lopsided when tax rates are reduced. The administration has suggested that another, higher rate level might be added, presumably so the distributional tables won’t look so ugly, but right now the plan calls for a significant reduction in the top rate.

Besides a reduction in the top tax rate, the tax plan would eliminate the alternative minimum tax (AMT). That in theory should be a boon for the wealthy as well, although it increasingly has snared families in the upper middle class, especially if they live in high-tax states or have many children.

 

The administration has called for eliminating the itemized deduction for state and local taxes, as well as the personal/dependent exemptions, which are key add-ons when calculating the AMT. (If those items were eliminated from the AMT, the number of tax filers facing the AMT would drop by 95 percent, according to the Joint Committee of Taxation.)

So it’s possible that for many people it would be a wash, or even a net loser, depending on whether a tax filer lives in a state with high taxes. According to JCT, the AMT is paid by 36 percent of returns with income of between $200,000 and $500,000, nearly 55 percent between $500,000 and $1 million, and nearly 18 percent above $1 million.

Still, in 2014, the top 400 taxpayers paid nearly $700 million because of the alternative minimum tax, nearly 2.5 percent of the total. The one recent tax return of President Trump that has leaked — for 2005 — shows his tax bill increased $31 million because of the AMT.

Finally, the tax plan calls for eliminating the estate tax, although it is unclear on whether any tax would be required when someone dies. Currently, the estate tax is estimated to affect only about 5,500 estates out of nearly 3 million estates because as much as $11 million can be shielded from taxation.

 

In theory, assets would be subject to capital gains tax instead, which could actually affect more people, but that has not been specified in the administration’s tax outline. If the administration also eliminates the gift tax and does not tax capital gains at death, some income earned by the wealthy may never be taxed.

“We strongly believe the final tax bill will not cut taxes for the wealthy as a class — but there is no way to solve for every single individual in the country,” a White House official said.

‘We think this tax plan will cut down the deficits by a trillion dollars’

Mnuchin made this statement in response to an observation that the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has estimated the tax plan would reduce revenue by $2.2 trillion over 10 years. (Including additional interest on the debt, CRFB estimated the deficit would increase by $2.7 trillion.) He argued that instead there would be an additional $2 trillion in revenue from economic growth, resulting in a $1 trillion reduction in the deficit.

Cohn, briefing reporters at the White House a few hours later, offered a different estimate: “We know that 1 percent change in GDP will add $3 trillion back. So if they’re right, we’re only going to pay down $800 billion of the deficit. I’ll live with a $800 billion paydown.”

It’s a little odd that Mnuchin is anticipating $2 trillion in revenue and Cohn is anticipating $3 trillion in revenue. But these are both very rosy estimates of the impact of a tax cut in economic growth. No serious economist believes that a tax cut boosts economic growth so much that the tax cut pays for itself.

The Congressional Budget Office, under Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a Republican, in 2005 estimated that a 10 percent reduction in federal income tax rates would have macroeconomic feedbacks of between 15 and 30 percent. In other words, a $1 trillion tax cut might yield $150 billion to $300 billion in additional revenue. That still means a reduction in revenue of as much as $700 billion.

“The big problem is that there is no fully specified plan,” Holtz-Eakin said. “Without one, you can’t gauge the growth or know the budget cost. I’m broadly sympathetic to the framework, but it is a start, not the finish.”

As Holtz-Eakin put it earlier this year in an opinion column for The Washington Post: “Proposing trillions of dollars in tax cuts and then casually asserting that such a plan would ‘pay for itself with growth’ … is detached from empirical reality.”

Indeed, contrary to popular perception, even Ronald Reagan predicted revenue would fall as a result of his big 1981 tax cut that reduced tax rates. That is shown in Reagan administration and Congressional Budget Office scores of the Reagan tax plan reproduced in a 2011 article for Tax Notes by Bruce Bartlett, who helped craft the 1981 tax cut as a congressional aide at the time. The estimates turned out to be wrong because the 1981-1982 recession was deeper than expected and inflation fell more rapidly than expected, so Reagan boosted taxes just one year after his tax cut.

William A. Niskanen, chairman of Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors, co-wrote a paper in 1996 that defended Reagan’s economic record but also said it was “an enduring myth” that Reagan officials believed tax cuts would pay for themselves. “This was nonsense from day one, because the credible evidence overwhelmingly indicates that revenue feedbacks from tax cuts is 35 cents per dollar, at most,” Niskanen wrote, noting that “the Reagan administration never assumed that the tax cuts would pay for themselves.”

A Treasury Department study on the impact of tax bills since 1940, first released in 2006 and later updated, found that the 1981 tax cut reduced revenue by $208 billion in its first four years. George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut — also a rate cut — led to a revenue loss of $91 billion, over four years, the Treasury paper calculated. (The figures are rendered in constant 2012 dollars.)

Both the Reagan and Bush tax cuts came during periods of economic stress, which is certainly not the case now. So there is less room now for a big swing upward in the economy, especially with the country’s aging workforce.

The Treasury Department did not respond to a query for an explanation of Mnuchin’s math. But frankly it is irresponsible for a treasury secretary to claim a certain amount of growth or revenue without even producing the details of a plan, as the details determine the impact on the economy.

The Pinocchio Test

Though the details of the tax plan are sparse, both Cohn and Mnuchin made statements that are simply false. Of course the wealthy will do well under the tax cut, even if certain deductions are eliminated, and it’s silly to pretend otherwise. And it’s a fantasy to claim that the tax cut will pay for itself — and even reduce the deficit — especially in an economy that already has low unemployment and a booming stock market.

Four 🤥 🤥 🤥 🤥

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

Four Pinocchios is getting into “Jeff Sessions’s territory!”

But, I can see that they were richly deserved. I watched Steve “Munchkin” Mnuchkin on “Meet the Press” with Churck Todd this AM.  It was appalling!

Munchkin lied about Puerto Rico, lied about the tax plan, and then lied and tried to cover up his own responsibility for trying to get a “freebie” at taxpayer expense for his honeymoon. The idea that there was any “national security” reason for the Munchkin keeping in touch with the White House is preposterous.

Indeed the very idea that Munchkin would have any role in national security other than making sure the checks don’t bounce is prima facie ridiculous. And, if he did, that’s what secure facilities in the CIA part of the nearest U.S. Embassy are for. Or for that matter, that’s what subordinates in the Trasure Department are for. Gotta believe that every once and awhile spooks have to make secure communications with Washington.

When confronted by Todd with his obvious lies and cover-ups, Munchkin just kept on spewing whoppers. Finally, Todd gave up, thanked him, and let the record speak for itself.

PWS

10-01-17

 

 

“AYATOLLAH ROY” Preaches A Gospel Of Hate & Bigotry That Jesus Would Never Regognize

Michael Gerson writes in the Washington Post:

“The strongest objection to Moore’s hardness and harshness is theological. On the consistent evidence of Jesus’ ministry, what public attitude did he condemn the most? He stood against people who talked constantly of the law, who thought they were especially virtuous, who enjoyed scolding people, who judged others without tenderness and understanding. He was at constant war with the self-righteous and took the side of the social outcasts they condemned.

Now we see the return of the Pharisee.”

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

Read the rest of Gerson’s “spot on” op ed at the link.

Jeff Sessions are you listening?

PWS

09-29-17

 

TRUMP’S “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT MEANS MORE ARRESTS, FEWER DEPORTATIONS, MORE “COLLATERAL DAMAGE,” OUT OF CONTROL COURT DOCKETS!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/deportations-fall-under-trump-despite-increase-in-arrests-by-ice/2017/09/28/1648d4ee-a3ba-11e7-8c37-e1d99ad6aa22_story.html

Nick Miroff reports in the Washington Post:

“Despite President Trump’s push for tougher immigration enforcement, U.S. agents are on pace to deport fewer people in the government’s 2017 fiscal year than during the same period last year, the latest statistics show.

Trump took office pledging to round up as many as 3 million drug dealers, gang members and other criminals he said were living in the United States illegally. But the most recent figures from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) indicate the government may be having a hard time finding enough eligible “bad hombres,” as the president described them, to quickly meet those targets.

As of Sept. 9, three weeks before the end of the 2017 fiscal year, ICE had deported 211,068 immigrants, according to the most recent figures provided by the agency. ICE removed 240,255 people during the government’s 2016 fiscal year.

The lower totals are not for lack of effort. According to ICE, its agents have made 43 percent more arrests since Trump took office versus the same period last year.

 

While ICE took into custody more immigrants with criminal records, the fastest-growing category of arrests since Trump’s inauguration are those facing no criminal charges. The agency arrested more than 28,000 “non-criminal immigration violators” between Jan. 22 and Sept. 2, according to the agency’s records, a nearly threefold increase over the same period in 2016.”

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

Read the complete article at the link.

With the border evidently under control, a shortage of criminals to remove, and overwhelmed US Immigration Courts, we obviously DO NOT NEED any additional DHS agents right now. DHS does, however, need better technology, much better management, and a rational enforcement strategy.

While it won’t happen with this Administration, here’s what a rational immigration plan would look like:

  •  Focus interior enforcement on migrants who have committed serious crimes or who are involved in criminal enterprises.
  • Work with local authorities and communities to take criminals off the streets, break up gangs, and curb human trafficking operations, while not threatening undocumented individuals who are otherwise law abiding members of the community.
  • Institute a robust prosecutorial discretion program to get cases of non-criminals off overcrowded Immigration Court dockets (its likely that at least 2/3 of the 600,000+ pending cases could be removed in this manner) pending a legislative proposal to give them some type of legal status and work authorization
  • Devote time and resources to developing an independent Immigration Court that will be able to process the remaining cases in a reasonable manner while establishing realistic and consistent expectations for adjudication of new cases entering the system.

If the border really remains under control, and robust realistic levels of legal immigration eventually are set by Congress, there should be sufficient enforcement personnel available to apprehend those who penetrate the border and to place them in a functioning, due process focused Immigration Court system that will fairly, professionally, humanely, and timely determine who should remain (including fair, honest, and de-politicized decisions on asylum and other legal protections) and who must leave.

The above system would have two essentials that the current immigration system sorely lacks — integrity and credibility.

PWS

09-28-17

NEW POLL: Majority Of Americans Want DACA, Don’t Like Trump’s “Gonzo” Enforcement, DON’T Believe That Legal Immigration Should Be Drastically Cut, Reject Wall! — Want Border Security & Enforcement Of Employer Sanctions!

http://www.langerresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/1191a4DACAandImmigration.pdf

“Americans Back DACA by a Huge Margin. A vast 86 percent of Americans support a right to residency for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, with support crossing the political spectrum. Two-thirds back a deal to enact such legislation in tandem with higher funding for border control. Possibly in light of Donald Trump’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, disapproval of his handling of immigration overall reaches 62 percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll. Just 35 percent approve. Additional hurdles for Trump are his demand for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico – again 62 percent oppose it – and substantial concerns about his immigration enforcement policies. Americans were asked whether they support “a program that allows undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States if they arrived here as a child, completed high school or military service and have not been convicted of a serious crime,” all elements of DACA, established by Barack Obama by executive order in 2012. Support spans demographic groups, including three-quarters of Republicans and conservatives, 86 and 87 percent of independents and moderates and 97 and 96 percent of Democrats and liberals.”

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

Read the complete summary of the ABC News/Washington Post Poll at the link.

While all polls, particularly those on immigration, must be looked at with some circumspection, these are great numbers to keep in mind when faced with the constant bogus claims from Trump Administration and GOP Congressional restrictionists that they are somehow representing the “national will” or “the people’s voice” with their out of touch policies and proposals.

Interestingly, one enforcement initiative that got widespread support was enforcing existing employer sanctions laws, something that neither GOP nor Democratic Administrations has been willing to do over the past three decades since they were in acted in 1986.

Nor does their Trump Administration appear to be putting any emphasis on this program. And, it’s easy to see why. Employer sanctions would involve going after U.S. businesses, some of the same folks who helped put Trump and the GOP in power. Some of them like the current system, which keeps many needed workers marginalized and dependent, so they can be exploited.

Perhaps more important, going after U.S.employers doesn’t do anything for the Trump/GOP racist base. Much better to sack up some decent productive Hispanic workers and count it as “law enforcement.” That’s what the racist xenophobes like to see.

PWS

09-28-17

RACIST MILLER, GOP XENOPHOBES SEEK TO UNDERMINE “DREAMER DEAL” WITH RESTRICTIONIST, WHITE NATIONALIST AGENDA!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/growing-list-of-conservative-demands-threatens-bipartisan-deal-on-dreamers/2017/09/26/a3df3ba8-a23a-11e7-b14f-f41773cd5a14_story.html

Mike DeBonis reports in the Washington Post:

“An emerging list of conservative demands is threatening to derail the fledgling bipartisan effort to preserve the Obama administration program protecting from deportation 690,000 illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children.

President Trump discussed the outlines of a potential deal to protect those covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program with Democratic congressional leaders at a White House dinner this month. The tentative deal would couple permanent protections for those immigrants with improved border security.

But key conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are coalescing around a broader suite of policies as a condition of backing a deal, and that has Democrats and moderate Republicans warning that the current, fragile consensus could quickly break apart.

In the Senate, James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) introduced a conservative alternative this week to the Dream Act, a bipartisan bill that has some moderate Republican support and that Democrats want to pass as part of any deal with Trump.

 

[Trump, top Democrats agree to work on deal to save ‘dreamers’ from deportation]

The Lankford-Tillis bill, known as the Succeed Act, sets out a more onerous path to legal status for the immigrants in question, and it includes provisions barring them from taking advantage of existing laws that allow legal immigrants to petition authorities to allow foreign relatives to come to the United States.

Critics say those laws foster “chain migration,” inflating the amount of legal immigration. Eliminating the possibility of petitioning on behalf of relatives abroad is among another set of policies that House conservatives are pursuing on a separate track.

Key White House officials, including senior adviser Stephen Miller, have worked with members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus and other Republican lawmakers to hone a list of policy demands that go beyond the border security provisions on which Democrats have signaled they are willing to negotiate.

It is unclear to what extent Trump himself will support these provisions as part of the effort to negotiate a solution for “dreamers,” as the childhood arrivals are known. But the proposals are gaining adherents among some of the president’s strongest backers in Congress.

 

[Trump administration announces end of immigration protection program for ‘dreamers’]

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the Freedom Caucus chairman, said in an interview this week that a working list of policies that conservatives may demand includes ending the “chain migration” laws; mandating that employers use E-Verify, an online federal system to determine people’s eligibility to work in the United States; stepping up enforcement against those overstaying legitimate visas; and limiting protections for those who seek asylum at U.S. borders.”

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

Read the rest of the article at the link.

These toxic dudes never miss a chance to push their White Nationalist anti-American agenda. Frankly, we don’t need to plow more resources into already perfectly adequate border security, and there is certainly no need for more immigration agents who have so little to do now that they can squander time busting law-abiding American residents, guarding their agency bosses, staking out hospitals and courthouses, and screwing up already out of control Immigration Court dockets. Where’s the accountability for efficient and rational use of resources? But, those could be trade-offs that the Dems could make to save the Dreamers. (Honestly, given some of the other garbage the GOP has put out there, funding “The Wall” seems like the least harmful of the trade-offs in human terms. Money gets wasted, America looks foolish, but nobody gets hurt and it won’t tank our economy like the restrictionist agenda on legal immigration would).

But, the hard core xenophobic White Nationalist agenda being pushed by Miller, the “Freedom” Caucus, and other restrictionists out to limit legal immigration, deny due process, and make a mockery out of our legal and moral obligations to refugees — No Way! The Dems would have to “Just Say No.”

The “Ace in the Hole” for the Dems:  There is neither the ability nor the moral willingness on the part of the majority of decent Americans to deport 800,000 American young people. They might end up “hanging in limbo” till some future date when responsible government once again gains the upper hand over the “wrecking crew.”

PWS

09-27-17

“More Dangerous Than Weed.” — Gonzo Apocalypto Gets A Warm “Welcome” To Portland, OR!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/09/23/attorney-general-jeff-sessions-visited-portland-of-course-there-was-a-protest/

Leah Sottile reports for the Washington Post:

“Portland is a sanctuary city in a sanctuary state — a place where officials have scoffed at threats from the Trump administration, where court employees have shuffled illegal immigrants out through employee entrances when Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel conducted raids, and where local law enforcement officials have argued that enforcing federal immigration policies is not their job.

Sessions’s appearance here Tuesday was brief. He spoke to a group of federal employees — ICE, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — for 18 minutes in the “oath room” of a Pearl District building, the place where people recite the Oath of Allegiance before they are granted U.S. citizenship. Sessions railed against sanctuary cities, places he called a “trafficker’s, a smuggler’s or gang member’s best friend.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks to federal employees in Portland, Ore., on Tuesday. (Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian via AP)
But outside, the protest against Sessions lasted for hours. A group of a dozen protesters leaned on a metal barricade just before 11 a.m. — hours before Sessions even touched down in Portland. And they were ready.

 

Juan Rogel, 26, is a leader of Milenio.org, a group that helps engage Latinos in political action and was one of several groups that organized protesters Tuesday.

“We want to send a clear message that he is not allowed to come here,” Rogel said of Sessions. “We’re pissed off.”

Rogel said it’s essential for Latinos to organize and for Sessions to see, if only for a moment, that people here aren’t welcoming of him.

“My dad used to say, ‘If you knock on the door for opportunity and they don’t open it, you have to break it down,’ ” Rogel said. “We haven’t been heard. We are young people working on a legacy for tomorrow.”

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

Read the complete article at the link.

No, Gonzo, “sanctuary cities” are not a “smuggler’s best friends.” Look in the mirror:  you, Gonzo, are the smugglers’ and gangsters’ “best friend” with your xenophobic policies intended to drive a wedge between the Hispanic communities across the nation and law enforcement and to heap shame and blame on law-abiding residents who are just trying to make a living helping America out.

I can guarantee that smuggling and gang violence won’t be solved by a bunch of White Nationalists sitting at the DOJ thinking about the next attack they can make on Hispanic America. There is no “silver bullet” solution to deep-seated problems. But, whatever the solution might be, it’s going to take some reflection and lots of help, trust, assistance, and sharing of information with the Hispanic community which would like to get rid of gangs as much as you would (because they are much more likely to be victims than you and your white buddies are) and whose undocumented members (usually intermingled with family or neighbors in legal status) would vastly prefer being allowed to come to the United States through legal channels rather than paying smugglers.

Almost forty years ago when I was counsel to the “Legacy INS” Enforcement, among other things, one of the few effective tools we had for breaking up smuggling rings involved fairly sophisticated undercover operations. These, in turn, almost always involved agents, local law enforcement, or informants from ethnic communities.

Why would anyone from the Hispanic community want to risk his or her life to help someone like Gonzo, who disses them, denies their achievements, and intentionally minimizes their monumental contributions to America’s success and prosperity at every turn?

PWS

09-25-17

TRUMP DECLARES WAR ON AFRICAN-AMERICAN ATHLETES — DISSES CURRY, NFL, NBA, LEBRON JAMES REACTS! — Packers & Other NFL Teams Push Back Against President’s Appeals To Racism & Disrespect For Constitution!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/23/politics/donald-trump-nfl-nba/index.html

Chris Cillizza writes on CNN:

“On one level, this is classic Trump. He feels as though he is being disrespected — whether by NFL players not standing for the national anthem or by Curry saying if it was up to him, the Golden State Warriors would not visit the White House. (The Warriors, in a statement Saturday afternoon, said they would come to Washington and do events to promote diversity and inclusiveness rather than meet with Trump.)
They hit him, so he hit back.
But, there’s something far more pernicious here. Both the NFL and the NBA are sports in which the vast majority of the players are black and the vast majority of owners are white. In the NFL, there are 0 black owners of the 32 teams. In the NBA, Michael Jordan is the lone black owner of a team.
Consider that in the context of what Trump said both Friday night and Saturday.
In Alabama, Trump called the players who refuse to stand for the anthem “sons of bitches” and insisted that any owner worth his or her salt should fire them immediately.
That got a lot of attention — and rightly so. But it’s what Trump said next that’s really telling. “Total disrespect of our heritage, a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” he said — adding for emphasis: “Everything that we stand for.”
Notice the use of “our heritage” and “we” in those two sentences above.
But wait, there’s more. In both his Curry tweet and his two NFL tweets, Trump expressed frustration that these lucky athletes felt the need to be ungrateful.
Trump noted the “great honor” of going to the White House and the “privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL.” You should just be thankful for what you have and not be making any trouble, Trump is telling these players.
Here’s the thing: Even if we lived in a color-blind society, that would be a dangerous sentiment. After all, freedom of expression is right there in the First Amendment. And our brave soldiers didn’t fight and die so that everyone stood during the national anthem. They fought so people could have the right to make a choice about whether or not they wanted to stand. That’s the whole damn point of the First Amendment.
The thing is: We don’t live in a color-blind society. Slavery sits at the founding roots of America. The goal of racial equality remains a goal, not an achievement. To pretend otherwise is to willfully blind yourself to hundreds years of history.
Even more context darkens the picture for Trump. He played at racially coded language throughout his presidential campaign. He also displayed a stunningly simplistic view of the black community.
“You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed — what the hell do you have to lose?” Trump said of African-Americans in a speech to a largely white audience in Michigan during the campaign. When NBA star Dwyane Wade’s cousin was shot in Chicago, Trump tweeted: “Dwayne Wade’s cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago. Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!”” He took an inordinate amount of time to condemn former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. And so on.
As President, Trump has done little too ease concerns about his racial views — and, in fact, has heightened them. His handling of the Charlottesville, Virginia, protests — in which white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched in protest of the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee — was particularly alarming.
Even as the protests turned violent — one woman was killed — Trump claimed that there were violent factions “on many sides” to be blamed. Days later, he doubled down on that false premise; “I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people watched it,” Trump said. “And you have — you had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent, and nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now.”
Although his administration tried desperately to move on from his remarks, it was made clear recently that Trump meant exactly what he said. The day after meeting at the White House with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott — the lone black Republican in the Senate — Trump was quick to note that he had been right in his initial comments after Charlottesville.
“I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what’s going on there, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also, and essentially that’s what I said,” Trump told reporters.
And now, this.
I’ve long believed that Trump is simply saying whatever comes to mind, that there is no broader strategy to his comments. But it’s impossible to conclude that after Charlottesville, Trump is totally ignorant of the racial context in which his remarks on the NFL and NBA land. No one is that oblivious.
When, given all the water under the bridge — both in terms of our country’s history and the more narrow history of Trump’s campaign — you make comments about how the athletes in predominantly black pro sports leagues should just be happy with what they have and not complain, you aren’t doing it by accident. You really believe it.
Play football or basketball so we can be entertained, Trump seems to be telling these athletes. No one wants to hear your lack of gratitude for what you’ve been given.
There’s so many things wrong with that view.
First of all, no one gave these players anything. They worked for it.
Second, just because you are a professional athlete doesn’t mean you don’t get to be a citizen, too. We don’t tell accountants, for example, that they can’t express their opinions on politics and the culture more broadly, right? So why should we be in the business of telling professional athletes? And would Trump feel the same way if the majority of those protesting the anthem were white?
Trump defenders will note that Trump didn’t name names — other than Curry — when he blasted professional athletes. That “we” are adding color to it, not him.

But that doesn’t fly. As I noted above, both the NFL and NBA are majority black. And those refusing to stand during the national anthem are, with one exception, also all black.
Trump knows this. He is an avid consumer of TV and culture. Which means that he is purposely playing at and with racial animus here. That is a dark thing to do as the leader of the United States. And something he deserves to be condemned for.”

As reported in the Green Bay Press Gazette, Packer President/CEO Mark Murphy issued the following statement:

The full statement from Murphy:

“It’s unfortunate that the President decided to use his immense platform to make divisive and offensive statements about our players and the NFL. We strongly believe that players are leaders in our communities and positive influences. They have achieved their positions through tremendous work and dedication and should be celebrated for their success and positive impact.

“We believe it is important to support any of our players who choose to peacefully express themselves with the hope of change for good. As Americans, we are fortunate to be able to speak openly and freely.”

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

Trump’s racism and his condescending attitude toward minorities should come as no surprise given his campaign, his base, the GOP’s racially divisive agenda, and the folks surrounding him. It also should come as no surprise that Trump’s remarks came in Alabama, a state unable to advance beyond its disgusting racist history (except on the football field in Tuscolusa in the Fall) and move into the present.

It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow at NFL stadiums. It will also be interesting to see whether African-American athletes put their money, time, and prestige behind encouraging others to vote so that Trump will never happen again and that the GOP stranglehold on our Government and our country will be broken.

Finally, why do we sing the National Anthem at sporting events in the first place? These athletic contests are entertsinment, not expressions of patriotism. We don’t sing it before concerts, movies, plays, and other performances. It doesn’t belong at sporting events either.

It is a bizarre and sad state of affairs when the President of the Green Bay Packers has to “school” the President of the United States on the meaning of our Constitution and an appropriate tone for race relations in our country!

PWS

09-23-17

 

 

 

 

WHEN DEPORTATION IS A DEATH SENTENCE!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/09/21/he-said-deportation-would-kill-him-his-body-was-found-in-mexico-this-week/

Kyle Swenson writes in the Washington Post:

“Juan Coronilla-Guerrero promised deportation to Mexico would kill him and it did.

On Sept. 12, four armed men burst into a house in San Luis de la Paz in central Mexico looking for the 28-year-old married father. The gunmen went to the bedroom where Coronilla-Guerrero was sleeping with his young son, jammed a pistol to his temple and took him away. “Don’t worry, my love. Don’t worry,” he told his son before disappearing, according to an account in the Austin American-Statesman.

“I knew that if he came back here, they were going to kill him,” Coronilla-Guerrero’s wife told the paper. “That’s what happened.”

Coronilla-Guerrero’s body was found last week on the side of a road 40 minutes away from the house where he had been staying in Central Mexico. The death occurred three months after Coronilla-Guerrero and his family begged a federal judge not to catapult him back over the border for fear of the Mexican gangs they had illegally crossed the border to flee in the first place.

Coronilla-Guerrero’s warnings had apparently been well-founded — his wife (who has not used her first name publicly for safety reasons) — has indicated she believes a gang was responsible for the killing. The violence now serves as a grim reminder of the life facing some immigrants after they’ve been taken into Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody and worked through the immigration courts.

 

The case raised alarms from the start. On March 3, Coronilla-Guerrero was arrested at the Travis County Courthouse. He was in the building to face two misdemeanor charges — marijuana possession and family violence. Although he had already been arrested and deported in 2008, Coronilla-Guerrero made the appearance to address the charges; both he and his wife said the family violence charge was a misunderstanding and Coronilla-Guerrero had not abused his wife.

“He wanted to do the right thing and he appeared at his second court date,” Coronilla-Guerrero’s wife told the Austin American-Statesman. “When he was leaving, immigration agents were waiting for him and took him. He didn’t even get to say goodbye to me, or to his son, because now we don’t even know where he is going to be.”

The arrest, however, triggered larger concerns. In the wake of President Trump’s increased emphasis on immigration control and promises to build a border wall with Mexico, many observers were worried ICE agents would use the criminal justice system as a fishing ground for undocumented defendants. At the time of the arrest, KVUE reported it was the first time federal immigration agents had made an arrest at the courthouse.

 

“It struck me as extraordinary,” Daniel Betts, Coronilla-Guerrero’s attorney, told the station.

Following his deportation, Coronilla-Guerrero went to live with his wife’s family in San Luis de la Paz while his wife stayed in Texas. Following his death, she returned to Mexico. Local authorities reportedly have not released any information on the death.”

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

As my friend and former colleague Judge Dana Leigh Marks says, “like trying death penalty cases in traffic court.” We need an independent Article I Immigraton Court to inbsure that the DHS and Sessions (the “real” head of DHS Enforcement) comply with the law and due process!

The stakes are far too high to be entrusted to an administrative court held captive by Jeff Sessions!

PWS

 

THE LIARS ON THE HILL: Spurred By Trump’s Example, GOP Legislators and Politicos In Washington Have Taken Outright Lying And Knowingly Spreading False Narratives To A New Level

Dave Leonhardt writes in “Opinion Today” at the NYT:

“First, health care: Here’s a giveway about how bad the new Senate health care bill is: Bill Cassidy, one of its authors, keeps trying to sell it by telling untruths.
“The relatively new phenomenon of just ‘up is down’ lying about your bill’s impacts is jarring,” says Loren Adler of the USC-Brookings-Schaeffer Initiative on Health Policy.
Most egregiously, Cassidy is claiming that the bill would not ultimately deprive sick people of health insurance. That’s false, as NPR calmly explained when Cassidy said otherwise.
In fact, the bill — known as Graham-Cassidy — would free states to remove insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Without those protections, insurers could price such people out of the market.

If you get cancer (or even have a family history of it) or your child is born with a birth defect — among many, many other health issues — you could find yourself unable to buy insurance. Without insurance, you could be denied crucial treatments. In a tangible way, Graham-Cassidy would harm millions of Americans.
Aviva Aron-Dine and Sarah Kliff have both written good explainers on this issue. As Kliff notes, “There is literally no analysis” to support Cassidy’s claim that the bill would expand the number of insured.
Jimmy Kimmel, the country’s most unexpected health wonk, has urged Cassidy to stop “jamming this horrible bill down our throats.”

Insurers came out against the bill yesterday, joining doctors, hospitals, AARP, patient advocates, multiple governors and others.
Meanwhile, Republican leaders are trying to win the vote of Lisa Murkowski — one of three Republican senators who voted against a previous Obamacare repeal bill, in July — by funneling money to Alaska.
In the least surprising development of all, President Trump is now repeating Cassidy’s falsehoods.
The last word on health care this morning goes to Nicholas Bagley of the University of Michigan. “Graham-Cassidy is a brazen effort to block any level of government, state or federal, from achieving near-universal coverage,” he writes. “That’s what the debate is about. Everything else is just noise.”

Read Leonhardt’s entire piece with working links to his sources and citations at this link:

https://www.nytimes.com/newsletters/2017/09/21/opinion-today?nlid=79213886

 

And Leonhardt is by no means the only one blowing the whistle on the GOP’s latest War on America. Among many others, the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” awarded Senator Cassidy “Three Pinocchios” for his false claims about coverage:

“Regular readers of The Fact Checker know that the burden of proof falls on the person making the claim. Cassidy has provided little evidence to support his claim of more coverage, except that innovation would flourish and help bring down costs and expand coverage. That’s certainly possible, but it would be more plausible if his proposal did not slash funding to such an extent.

Kimmel’s claim that 30 million fewer Americans will have insurance may be a high-end estimate. But already, in 2019, CBO calculations suggest at least 15 million fewer Americans would have insurance once the individual and employer mandates are repealed. Much of that decline might be by choice, but Cassidy insists the gap will be filled and then exceeded in 10 years. Unlike Cassidy, no prominent health-care analyst is willing to venture a guess on coverage levels — but the consensus is that his funding formula makes his claim all but impossible to achieve.

Given the lack of coverage estimates by the CBO or other health-care experts, Cassidy’s claim does not quite rise to Four Pinocchios. But it certainly merits a Three.

Three Pinocchios”

Here’s a link to the complete analysis by the Post’s Glenn Kessler:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/09/21/sen-cassidys-rebuttal-to-jimmy-kimmel-more-people-will-have-coverage/

Wow! Three Pinocchios is getting into Trump, Sessions, Miller territory!

PWS

09-21-17

🤥 🤥🤥