BLACK HISTORY MONTH: LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT TWO STORIES FROM THAT “GREAT ERA OF AMERICA” THAT TRUMP, SESSIONS, MILLER, COTTON, AND THEIR WHITE NATIONALIST PALS LOVE SO MUCH – When White Men Were Supreme, The Law Was There To Keep African Americans in Their Place, Blacks Who Stood Up For Their Rights Were Murdered By The White Police, And Latinos & Women Were “Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind!”

From “John Kelly’s Washington” in the Washington Post:

Stuck on a shelf or locked in a safe, D.C.’s ‘Lost Laws’ still packed a punch

 
Before the Supreme Court upheld the District’s “Lost Laws” in 1953, activists such as Mary Church Terrell (center) picketed in front of segregated restaurants.

Columnist February 14

Martin Luther King Jr. said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

He could have added: “eventually, and after plenty of detours.”

In 1872 and 1873, two laws were passed in Washington that forbade racial discrimination in the city’s restaurants. Then, somehow, the laws vanished.

Just imagine the reaction when they were “rediscovered” in the 1940s. It must have been as if someone had opened a vault sealed when Ulysses Grant was president and found an airplane inside, a television, penicillin … .

Could Washingtonians from 70 years ago really have been so advanced? What had happened to those people?

What amazed me when I looked into the events of the 1870s and 1880s was how similar things were to the Jim Crow era. Restaurateurs used some of the same excuses for refusing to serve African Americans: Black customers were “boisterous,” white patrons would stay away, the government shouldn’t meddle.

To fight discrimination, black activists used methods that are familiar to us now. Lawyer E.M. Hewlett deliberately visited restaurants to see if he would be served. Hewlett looked to see if owners had posted price lists, as required by law to prevent black customers from being gouged. When he spotted a violation, he took the establishment to court.

In the end, none of it did any good. Why?

“During Reconstruction, D.C. was really on the leading edge of racial change in America,” said Chris Myers Asch, co-author, with George Derek Musgrove, of “Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital.”

Said Asch: “D.C. was a very progressive city. You had remarkable progress being made toward racial equality in a very brief space of time. Black men in D.C. were the first black men in the country to be granted the right to vote after the Civil War.”

Such efforts, Asch said, were a priority for radical Republicans in Congress.

“The backlash from white conservatives is really substantial,” Asch said. “First you eliminate self government all together in 1874. Then you slowly roll back those Reconstruction-era gains. This is part of a regionwide effort to enforce white supremacy. By 1901, when city commissioners decide to compile the D.C. Code, they simply don’t include those Reconstruction-era statutes.”

They didn’t include them, but they didn’t repeal them. The Lost Laws were not dead. They were like a long-dormant seed, ready to spring to life after a refreshing rain.

I don’t know who found them. Asch thinks it was A. Mercer Daniel, who oversaw the library at Howard University’s law school. They gained fame in 1948 with the publication of “Segregation in Washington,” a scathing report that mentioned the laws.

Civil rights activists wondered: Could the laws be used to fight segregation?

Annie Stein, a white woman from Southwest D.C. who was a member of the Progressive Party, invited Mary Church Terrell to chair the Coordinating Committee for the Enforcement of the D.C. Anti-Discrimination Laws of 1872 and 1873. When Terrell, the octogenarian co-founder of the NAACP, was denied service at a downtown cafeteria called Thompson’s in 1950, it set the stage for a test case.

District of Columbia vs. John R. Thompson Co. went first to the old Municipal Court, where Judge Frank Myers ruled that the Lost Laws had “been repealed by implication” and, thus, could no longer be enforced.

Terrell and company appealed. In May of 1951, the Municipal Court of Appeals ruled 2-to-1 that the anti-bias laws were still valid. Among the points raised by Judge Nathan Cayton was that another so-called lost law had been enforced in 1908, even though it, too, had been omitted from the 1901 D.C. Code.

It was an animal cruelty law. Animals, it seemed, had more rights than black Washingtonians.

The game of legal ping-pong continued. The next stop was the U.S. Court of Appeals. In a 5-to-4 decision, it ruled that the laws of 1872 and 1873 could not be enforced.

One judge, Barrett Prettyman, wrote the statutes were “neither mentioned again nor enforced for a period of 75 years.” Thus the laws “must be deemed by the courts to have been abandoned.”

If you’ve been reading my columns this week, you know that wasn’t true. African Americans did mention them and did try to get them enforced.

In April of 1953, the case finally reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Chester H. Gray of the District’s corporation counsel’s office asked the court not to blame his staff. They hadn’t known of the laws until someone found them in the corporation counsel’s safe.

“You mean you have to go to a locked safe to find laws of the District of Columbia?” Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson joked.

In June, the court ruled unanimously that the laws were still in effect. Laws passed by long-dead Washingtonians had helped their descendants.

Five days after the Supreme Court ruling, Terrell went to eat at Thompson’s with the mixed-race group who had been denied a meal three years earlier. They were treated, Terrell said, with courtesy.”

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Sound all too familiar? It should! The claptrap coming from yesterday’s racists is pretty much the same as the garbage coming out of the mouths of some GOP pols these days. Here’s my “rewrite” of a paragraph of Kelly’s account in “today’s context.”

The backlash from Sessions, Bannon, Kobach, Miller and their White Nationalist pals to the diversification of America and growing political power of African-Americans, Hispanics and other non-Whites was substantial. First, they used gerrymandering and intentional mis-constructions of Civil Rights and Voting Rights statutes intended to protect minorities to instead suppress and minimize the minority vote. This is part to a nationwide effort by the far right to restore White Supremacy and prevent African-Americans and Hispanics from eventually obtaining political power commensurate with their demographics and overwhelming contributions to America. Then, when supposedly in charge of administering the laws equally, they simply refuse to recognize the rights of African-Americans to be free from police violence and the rights of Hispanics and asylum seekers in the United States to be treated with respect and dignity and to be given full Due Process under our Constitution. They even invent false narratives, bogus statistics, and demonize hard-working law-abiding citizens, residents, and great and deserving young people known as “Dreamers” in a desperate effort to restore exclusive White (preferably “pseudo-Christian”) power. To add insult to injury, they carry out this anti-American, anti-Constitutional campaign under the boldly false rubric of “Restoring the Rule of Law.”

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Now let’s move over to the Post’s Sports Section. Here’s an account of what happened to courageous African-American athletes who stood up for their rights and the rights of others during the “glory days” of White Supremacy that Trump, Sessions, & Co. so cherish and honor.

Remembering the Orangeburg massacre, and the athlete-activists who took a stand 


Two black demonstrators killed in the Orangeburg Massacre lie on the ground at the edge of South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, S.C., on Feb. 8, 1968. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
February 13

Robert Lee Davis found himself lying in blood next to his teammate Sam Hammond. At least one bullet had struck Davis in the back. Another went in Hammond’s neck.

Davis recalled in an oral history that Hammond, a running back at South Carolina State, asked him, “Do you think I’m going to live?” Davis, a linebacker, said he answered, “Sam, you are going to be all right, buddy.”

Hammond was the first of three young black men to die that night 50 years ago in Orangeburg, S.C. Davis was one of several football players at historically black South Carolina State to survive a hail of police fire with injuries.

What brought them together that Feb. 8, 1968, evening was not a team meeting or the training table. Instead, it was a call to confront a wrong, an affront, an act of overt racial discrimination in Orangeburg at a bowling alley that refused would-be black bowlers just like the state was denying black citizens their human rights.

As a result, Davis and Hammond became athlete-activists long before we created the suddenly ubiquitous, if not trite, alliterative phrase these days to describe football and basketball players, almost all of color, who have, by comparison, merely sported sloganeering T-shirts, or employed histrionics, to demonstrate against racial injustice.

It is a noble and laudable effort, of course. But what we’ve come to champion of athletes today pales juxtaposed to what so many did in the cauldron of the late ’60s civil rights movement. Davis and Hammond, for example, dared to physically confront the very embodiment of the South’s recalcitrant racists — scores of carbine rifle-toting, all-white state troopers — for which Hammond forfeited not just his career but his life.

They were among at least 30 victims of what became known as the Orangeburg massacre.

I was reminded of it three years ago as a presenter at the annual Media and Civil Rights symposium at the University of South Carolina. It included a mesmerizing panel featuring a demonstrator that night, civil rights icon and scholar Cleveland Sellers, and a reporter who became legendary for his fearless coverage of the massacre and other civil rights movement era violence, Jack Bass. With Jack Nelson, awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the civil rights movement, Bass authored “The Orangeburg Massacre” in 1970.

And I took note that the panelists, particularly Oliver Francis, a one-time baseball player at Voorhees, another historically black South Carolina college, pointed out that black male athletes in particular stepped to the fore in Orangeburg’s deadly confrontation with white supremacy, and in others. Francis wound up convicted and sentenced to prison for 18 to 24 months as an organizer in an armed black student takeover in 1969 of the Voorhees administration building.

It all reminded that black athletes played not just pivotal roles in the civil rights movement, like the muscle North Carolina A&T football players provided for their classmates engaged in sit-ins to desegregate the Greensboro, N.C., Woolworth’s lunch counter. Or in Rock Hill, S.C., where 10 black Friendship College students were detained by police for trying to desegregate a town lunch counter in 1961 but became known as the Rock Hill Nine after one among them wasn’t booked so he could maintain his athletic scholarship. Chicago Bears running back Willie Galimore was the test black registrant at the Ponce de Leon Motor Lodge in St. Augustine, Fla., that became a flash point for desegregation fights in 1964.

And as was evidenced in Orangeburg, black athletes sometimes were even in the vanguard of protests. Samuel Freedman underscored as much in recounting the Orangeburg massacre in his 2014 book, “Breaking the Line: The Season in Black College Football That Transformed the Sport and Changed the Course of Civil Rights.”

Freedman wrote: “Shortly after the 1967 football season ended, many of the politically engaged members of the South Carolina State team joined in protests against a segregated bowling alley near the campus in Orangeburg.” On Feb. 6, 1968, Freedman reported, Davis and several of his teammates went on their own to the bowling alley and not only were denied admittance but were threatened with arrest by city police for disturbing the peace. Other students eventually joined the football players, objected to the police threats and wound up defending themselves from swinging billy clubs.

Two nights later, Freedman stated, “an all-white force of state troopers opened fire on the student demonstrators, killing three and wounding twenty-eight. Among the dead was one football player . . . Hammond. Several other players were injured by gunfire, one of them temporarily paralyzed.”

Davis was that temporarily paralyzed victim.

The student survivors of the massacre refused, however, to be deterred and allow the killings of Hammond, fellow student Henry Smith and high school football player Delano Middleton to be in vain. They organized a march from campus to the state capital 42 miles away to demand justice. Athletes decided to lead the march by running the distance.

“The four young men who approached me about the run were all track and field distance runners,” Willis Ham, a South Carolina State baseball player at the time, told the (Orangeburg, S.C.) Times and Democrat five years ago. “Three of the young men were not of American descent, and they simply wanted to express their disgust for the way Americans ‘treat their own,’ with the one tool that they had to their credit [the ability to run].

“We wanted our fellow students to know how deeply we felt about their determination to go to Columbia [S.C.], and express to state officials how they really felt about the lack of support in the days leading to the massacre.”

“It gave us a chance to say that our spirits and drive for freedom from depression would never be destroyed,” Ham explained.

The white troopers who fired on the students were exonerated in a trial a year later. The lone conviction from the incident was of Sellers for incitement. He spent seven months in prison. He was pardoned in 1993.

But what Hammond, the football player, first fell for is forever remembered on South Carolina State’s campus. Its basketball arena that opened that fateful day, Feb. 8, 1968, was renamed the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center.

Kevin B. Blackistone, ESPN panelist and visiting professor at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, writes sports commentary for The Post.”

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We should all be appalled that in the 21st Century, folks like Trump, Sessions, Miller, Cotton, and others who think that it’s “OK” and “permissible” to whip up false anti-Hispanic fervor with bogus narratives about rampant crime, imaginary “stolen” jobs, and phantom “adverse effects” of legal immigration have weaseled their way into positions of national power and prominence.

They seek to take America backwards to a bygone era of racial injustice and manufactured hate. Don’t let them get away with it! Ballot boxes were made to “retire” the Trumps, Sessions, and Cottons of the world and send them off to try to make an honest living.

PWS

02-16-18

MEET THE GOOD GUYS: NOVA SUPERSTAR IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY AVA BENACH HELPS “DREAMER TYPES” & THEY HELP AMERICA – THIS IS THE WAY THE SYSTEM CAN WORK WHEN YOU GET BEYOND THE WHITE NATIONALIST XENOPHOBIA OF TRUMP, SESSIONS, & MILLER & WHEN GREAT LAWYERS GET INVOLVED!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/she-was-almost-deported-as-a-teen-now-she-helps-frightened-versions-of-herself/2018/02/15/b39969a8-1245-11e8-9065-e55346f6de81_story.html

Petula Dvorak writes in the Washington Post:

“She was almost deported as a teen. Now she helps frightened versions of herself.


Liana Montecinos is a senior paralegal at Benach Collopy in Washington. She was 17 and about to be deported when lawyer Ava Benach helped her win asylum. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Columnist February 15 at 3:39 PM

On many days in the shiny, sleek law office — in her sharp suit and sweeping view of Washington — she revisits all the horrors most people would want to forget:

The drunk men bursting into her tiny, adobe home at night, terrorizing the 15 children who lived there.

The walk across three countries, fearing for her life the entire way.

The months of eating nothing but beans and rice.

These are the same stories Liana Montecinos hears just about every time the 29-year-old paralegal sits down with a client.

Ava Benach, from left, Satsita Muradova and Liana Montecinos chat at their law office. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

She doesn’t have to go there. She’s an American citizen and a third-year law student with a great future in front of her. But instead of going into something lucrative — corporate law, for example — she’s sticking with the law firm that helped her get political asylum.

“Being an immigrant and serving immigrants, it’s a very special connection,” Montecinos said.

And by doing that, she spends her days with frightened versions of herself.

I wanted to tell Montecinos’s story as Congress grapples with the fate of 1.8 million “dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children. They face deportation under President Trump unless Congress can find a way to reinstate the protection they were given by President Barack Obama.

Montecinos was brought across the border by a relative in 1999, when she was 11 years old, after walking — yes, actually walking — from Honduras, across Guatemala, then across Mexico, crossing the Rio Grande into the United States.

She joined her mother in Northern Virginia — they had been separated since she was an infant and she had been raised by her grandmother — and her life was transformed.

She played volleyball and basketball in her Falls Church high school. She was a cheerleader and soccer player. She took Advanced Placement classes.

But no matter how well she was doing in school and no matter how faint her accent became, she knew it could all fall apart any second.

And it nearly did when she was 17 and applied for legal status. Instead, the government began removal proceedings. She was going to be deported.

But it didn’t stop her from graduating from high school and enrolling at George Mason University, where she received a scholarship to cover the triple-tuition she had to pay as an undocumented student.

The scholarship’s donor — Helen Ackerman — introduced Montecinos to D.C. immigration attorney Ava Benach, who took on her complex case. What followed was a 10-year struggle.

“I met Liana when she was 17 years old,” Benach said. “And I knew she was special. She was out there, trying to figure out her own immigration status. I felt a very parental desire to help her.”

So they took on the case together, with Montecinos never giving up.

“I’d be doing an all-nighter, knowing I had a hearing the next day and the judge could send me away and it would all be for nothing,” she said.

But she kept studying, striving and working. You know how folks are always saying “Why don’t they just get legal?” It’s not that easy.

It took 10 years of hearings and arguments to convince a judge that she faced threats and violence in Honduras, in that tiny, adobe house, and that her hard work in school, model citizenship and potential were enough to grant her a place in American society.

Asylum is granted only to someone who faces persecution in their home country. And that persecution has to be for one of five reasons: your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or your political opinion.

“It has to fit in one of five boxes,” Benach said. And her life’s work is helping her frightened clients qualify.

Montecinos was granted asylum and citizenship on June 29, 2016.

“For many, becoming a U.S. citizen is the last part of the process,” Montecinos wrote on her Facebook page that day. “For others, like myself, it is the beginning to end 16 plus years of uncertainty and of fear of a forceful return to imminent harm.”

She called herself “extremely blessed and thankful for such a privilege, which is denied to many,” she said. “This path, however, was not easy. It was not short. It was not cheap.”

She is in her third year of law school at the University of the District of Columbia, where she received a Student Humanitarian and Civic Engagement award on Thursday.

In her spare time, you see, she runs a nonprofit group she founded, United for Social Justice, which helps low-income, first-generation Americans get access to higher education. Oh, and she coaches and plays on a bunch of soccer teams.

When she meets with the undocumented children who are like her, the ones she is fighting for, it reminds her of her struggle.

Though her own story is horrible — think of being 11 and scared, hiding your face with blankets as you cross strange villages where people are yelling “pollos mojados” (wet chickens) at you, not knowing where you’re going — her clients recount even more heart-stopping stories.

She hears from children who were kidnapped, who rode for days on top of speeding trains, afraid to fall asleep because they’d fall off, from a little girl who was gang-raped in front of her father.”

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Ava has a “Major League” legal mind to go with a “heart of gold!” She and her colleagues from her firm appeared on many occasions before me at the Arlington Immigration Court.

This article aptly illustrates one of the points I often make.  Asylum law has intentionally been “jacked” against Central Americans by a non-independent BIA working under pressure from politicos to limit protections to large groups. Nevertheless, with a good lawyer (e.g., one who isn’t afraid to argue the BIA’s — often otherwise ignored — favorable precedents back to them and to take wrong BIA denials to the Court of Appeals if necessary), resources to build and document a case, and persistence, most of the “Dreamers” probably could win some type of relief in Immigration Court if not at the Asylum Office or elsewhere at USCIS.

But, what rational reason could there be for forcing folks like Liana Montecinos who are already here, part of our society, and just want to become taxpaying citizens and REALLY “Make America Great” (not to be confused with the disingenuous racist slogan of Trump and his White Nationalist “base”) go through such a laborious process? And what possible rationale could there be for wasting the time of an already overburdened Immigration Court system with cases of individuals who clearly should be welcomed and accepted into American society without being placed in “Removal Proceedings?” Also, what would be the rationale for trying to artificially “speed up” complex cases like Liana’s and trying to make life difficult for talented lawyers like Ava?

The answer is clear: there is NO rationale for the “Gonzo” Immigration enforcement and “designed chaos and attack on Due Process in Immigration Court” that Trump, Miller, Sessions, Nielsen, Tom Homan and their ilk are trying to ram down our throats. Sessions is the problem for justice in our Immigration Courts; lawyers like Ava are a key part of the solution! Clearly, the U.S. Immigration Courts are too important to our system of justice to be left in the clutches of a biased, “enforcement only,” White Nationalist, xenophobic opponent of individual due process like Jeff Sessions! American needs an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court! Harm to the least and most vulnerable among us is harm to all!

The good news is that folks like Ava and her fellow “Generals” of the “New Due Process Army” are out there to fight Trump, Sessions & Company and their White Nationalist, anti-American actions every step of the way and to vindicate the Constitutional and legal rights of great American migrants like Liliana and millions of others similarly situated. They are “American’s future!” Trump, Sessions, Miller, et al., are the ugly past of America that all decent Americans should be committed to “putting in the rear-view mirror” where the “Trumpsters” live and belong! And, it won’t be long before Liliana becomes an attorney and a “full-fledged member” of the “New Due Process Army!”

Go Ava! Go Liliana! Due Process Forever! 

PWS

02-16-18

 

“QUEEN OF DISINGENUOUS NONSENSE” SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS WAS AT A LOSS FOR WORDS – WHILE SOME MIGHT WELL VIEW THAT AS A GOOD THING FOR AMERICA, DANA MILBANK @ WASHPOST HELPS HER OUT! — “I used the time waiting in vain for Wednesday’s briefing to compile the following executive summary of l’affaire Porter, in Trump administration officials’ own words . . . .”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/sarah-huckabee-sanders-is-at-a-loss-for-words-on-rob-porter-i-am-here-for-her/2018/02/14/0a019a22-11e2-11e8-9065-e55346f6de81_story.html

Milbank writes:

“Are you having trouble keeping up with the Rob Porter scandal? Apparently Sarah Huckabee Sanders is.

Her daily press briefing Wednesday was scheduled for 1 p.m., then at 2 p.m. was postponed until 4 p.m., then at 4 p.m. was abandoned entirely. The menu of topics — scandals at the EPA and VA, confirmation of a payoff to porn actress Stormy Daniels and, by midafternoon, another horrendous school shooting — was hardly appetizing. And the unpalatable entree was sure to be Porter, the White House staff secretary who resigned last week amid accusations of wife-beating that were ignored by the White House for months.

After eight days of the administration’s shifting and contradictory explanations of its handling of Porter, it’s quite understandable that Sanders would be at a loss for words. But I am here for her. As a public service, I used the time waiting in vain for Wednesday’s briefing to compile the following executive summary of l’affaire Porter, in Trump administration officials’ own words:

White House officials “are all processing the shocking and troubling allegations made against” Porter, which is why they “hope he has a wonderful career and hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him.”

Columnist Ruth Marcus says White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly is as much of a disgrace as the former staff secretary whose spousal abuse Kelly covered up.

Porter “says he’s innocent and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent,” which explains why “it became apparent to us that the allegations were true.”

Porter “is someone of the highest integrity and exemplary character” and is the victim of “a coordinated smear campaign.” As a result, there is “no reason not to believe the women” who accused him, and his “resignation was appropriate.”

Resignation “was a personal decision that Rob made and one that he was not pressured to do, but one that he made on his own.” Furthermore, “we dismissed that person immediately.”

There were “contemporaneous police reports,” “women speaking to the FBI under threat of perjury” and “photographs” corroborating accusations of wife beating. Consequently, “we absolutely wish him well.”

The White House “learned of the extent of the situation involving Rob Porter last Tuesday evening,” as a result of Porter himself telling the White House counsel of the situation in January 2017.

As of Sunday, the White House “had not received a final investigation” of Porter’s background because “the FBI has the ongoing investigations” had “not completed that investigation,” which is only logical given that the FBI gave the White House “a completed background investigation” in July and “closed the file” last month.

Kelly learned the details of Porter’s situation only “40 minutes before he threw him out,” last week, several months after Kelly reportedly was informed that allegations of spousal abuse were holding up Porter’s security clearance.

Once White House officials learned of the Porter allegations, “within 24 hours his resignation had been accepted and announced,” which is why the White House security office informed high-level White House officials about the allegations in November and Porter resigned in February.

The president has “absolute confidence in Gen. Kelly,” who is “an American hero” and also a “big fat liar.”

The “White House personnel security office,” which received the FBI’s background report on Porter, is part of “a process that doesn’t operate within the White House.”

The president is “totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind,” while “people’s lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.” Domestic violence “is abhorrent and has no place in our society,” and “there is no recovery for someone falsely accused.” The White House takes “matters of domestic violence very seriously,” and “the president is shaped by a lot of false accusations against him” and wonders, “Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

When you think about the Porter affair this way, it all begins to make perfect sense. Yes, the matter is “shocking,” and the White House “could have done better.” And at the same time, “what happened this week was completely reasonable and normal.”

In the Trump White House, this juxtaposition of “shocking” and “normal” somehow doesn’t feel like an oxymoron.”

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Trump and his “toady/sycophant/enablers are “normalizing” lies and misinformation.

The Trump Administrator is the biggest threat to our democracy and our national security. Will enough folks wake up to the threat before it’s too late?

PWS

02-15-18

E.J. DIONNE, JR. @ WASHPOST – “SIMPLE DECENCY MOVEMENT” LIKELY TO BE BAD NEWS FOR TRUMP’S INDECENT GOP – “[D]emanding simple decency is a radical and subversive act.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-real-split-in-american-politics-isnt-left-vs-right/2018/02/14/9ca64696-11bc-11e8-9570-29c9830535e5_story.html

Dionne writes:

“. . . .

Some members of this dispirited group overlap with a third key constituency that is underanalyzed because its ranks are not exceptionally partisan or ideological. They are citizens who ask for a basic minimum from those in charge of their government: some dignity and decorum, a focus on problem-solving, and orderliness rather than chaos. Trump and the conservatives sustaining him are completely out of line with this behavioral conservatism built on self-restraint and temperamental evenness.

It is not to romanticize the heartland to say that anyone who spends time in the Midwest runs into such solid citizens all the time. They are horrified by spousal abuse. They include small-business owners who prefer low taxes but care about schools, roads, libraries and parks. They may be critical of government, but they also expect it to do useful things. They don’t much like bragging and find an obsession with enemies unhealthy.

They are churchgoers who don’t watch TV preachers, may have doubts about this or that doctrine, and don’t tell others how religious they are. But they take from their faith and scripture that they have obligations to their communities and a duty to try as best they can to live by the standards they uphold.

They like to look up to their leaders with respect, and they feel betrayed when the powers that be give them every reason not to.

The obvious political calculation is that this fall’s elections will be decided by which side mobilizes its most ardent supporters. But here is a bet that there is also a quiet revolution of conscience in the country among those who are sick to death of the chaos they see every day on the news, a White House whose energy is devoted to stabbing internal foes in the back and a president who can’t stop thinking about himself. In the face of this, demanding simple decency is a radical and subversive act.”

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Read the rest of Dionne’s op-ed at the link.

One can only hope that at some point, reason will prevail over the greed, immorality, clownishness, disrespect, dishonesty, and incompetence that has come to symbolize today’s GOP and the Trump regime. Even today, there are a number of stories about how well-to-do yet fundamentally dishonest Trump appointees and their families continue to loot the Treasury and run up a huge deficit while essentially proposing a “death to the poor and vulnerable” budget. This is what a kleptocracy and gross indecency looks like! Reading our newspapers on a daily basis reminds me of passages I used to see only in State Department Country Reports on corrupt, Third-World dictatorships.

PWS

02-15-18

 

 

RICHARD L. HASEN IN WASHPOST: THE ORIGINAL DISRUPTER – THE LATE JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2018/02/13/antonin-scalias-disruption-of-the-supreme-courts-ways-is-here-to-stay/

Hasen writes:

“A few years ago, a populist disrupter of the established political order said that Arizona was right to try to take immigration enforcement into its own hands when the Obama administration was not aggressive enough. Its “citizens feel themselves under siege by large numbers of illegal immigrants who invade their property, strain their social services, and even place their lives in jeopardy.” He similarly expressedsympathy for the “Polish factory workers’ kid” who was going to be out of a job because of affirmative action and lamented that the Supreme Court’s giving too many constitutional rights to Guantanamo detainees “will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.”

Who made the statements? Donald Trump? Newt Gingrich? No, those were the words of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died two years ago Tuesday. Scalia disrupted business as usual on the court just like Gingrich disrupted the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1990s and Trump is now disrupting the presidency. Scalia changed the way the Supreme Court writes and analyzes its cases and the tone judges and lawyers use to disagree with each other, evincing a pungent anti-elitist populism that, aside from some criminal procedure cases, mostly served his conservative values. Now the judiciary is being filled at a frenetic pace by Trump and Senate Republicans with Scalian acolytes like Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who will use Scalia’s tools to further delegitimize their liberal opponents and continue to polarize the federal courts.

Scalia joined the Supreme Court in 1986 after a stint as a law professor, a government official and a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He arrived at a court in which justices used an eclectic mix of criteria, from text to history and purpose to pragmatism and personal values, to decide the meaning of the Constitution and federal statutes. Justices disagreed with one another, but for the most part, they were polite in their written dissents.

Scalia came in with different ideas, which he said were compelled by the limited grant of judicial power in the Constitution and would increase the legitimacy of judicial decision-making. He offered revamped, supposedly neutral jurisprudential theories. Yet, as I argue in my upcoming book, “The Justice of Contradictions: Antonin Scalia and the Politics of Disruption,” his doctrines were usually flexible enough to deliver opinions consistent with his conservative libertarian ideology.

He was an “originalist” who believed that constitutional provisions should be interpreted in line with their public meaning at the time of enactment, as when he argued that the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause did not apply to sex discrimination — except when he wasn’t, as when in affirmative action cases, he consistently ignored evidence that at the time the equal protection clause was ratified, Congress enacted preferences specifically intending to help African Americans.”

. . . .

Scalia, the Harvard law graduate, frequently cast his fellow justices as out-of-touch Ivy League elitists sticking it to the little guy. Yet he often sided with big business over consumers and environmental groups, deciding cases on issues related to standing and arbitration law that made it harder for people to have their rights protected and vindicated in court.

He disagreed with others using a tone like no other justice. The day after it decided King v. Burwell in June 2015, the court recognized a right of same-sex couples to marry in Obergefell v. Hodges. Scalia, applying his originalist understanding of the 14th Amendment, unsurprisingly rejected the majority’s approach. But he leveled his harshest words at Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s majority opinion, which he described as “couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic.” He added that “if, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag.” He compared the opinion to an aphorism in a fortune cookie.

The combination of Scalia’s view that textualism and originalism were the only legitimate way to decide cases and his caustic dismissal of anyone who dared to disagree with him led to a much coarser, polarized court after his tenure on the bench. He gave the Supreme Court’s imprimatur to the practice of delegitimizing one’s ideological opponents rather than simply disagreeing with them.

Most important, he gave key conservative acolytes tools to advance an ideological agenda — tools that he presented as politically neutral. The most important of these acolytes is Gorsuch, the newest Supreme Court justice (and, thanks to the refusal of Senate Republicans to consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland after Scalia died, also the justice who replaced his ideological role model). While not quite a Scalia clone, he is fully following in Scalia’s tradition. Not long after joining the court, Gorsuch admonished his colleagues in a statutory interpretation case that “if a statute needs repair, there’s a constitutionally prescribed way to do it. It’s called legislation.” And at oral argument in the 2017 Wisconsin partisan gerrymandering case, he dismissively interjected that “maybe we can just for a second talk about the arcane matter, the Constitution.” Think Scalia, but without the spontaneous wit and charm. Without Scalia, Gorsuch would have been just as conservative, but he would not have been packaging his jurisprudence in Scalian terms. And he perhaps would not have been as aggressive out of the box.

According to Time magazine, Trump wants to appoint more “originalists” and “textualists” on the court — flamethrowers who will disrupt things even more, following Scalia’s model. Gorsuch’s early record and the posthumous deification of Scalia by Federalist Society members and others on the right since his death show that Scalia’s pugnacious populism is the wave of the future for court appointees by Republican presidents and that the bitter partisan polarization we’ve seen in the political branches is in danger of becoming fixed as a permanent feature of the Supreme Court. Indeed, the main criticism of Scalia’s followers is that he was not consistent enough in insisting that originalism and textualism are the only right way to decide cases, consequences be damned.

Thanks to Scalia’s disruption, the Supreme Court may never be the same.

 

Richard L. Hasen is the chancellor’s professor of law and political science at the University of California at Irvine and the author of “The Justice of Contradictions: Antonin Scalia and the Politics of Disruption.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Yes, I always thought that beneath all the “origionalist” BS, Justice Scalia was pretty much just another jurist with a peculiar right-wing agenda. He rewrote history to match his own preconceived worldview. Additionally, he detested equality, social justice, and common sense in equal proportions. But, occasionally his intellectual machinations led him to side with the “good guys.”

He might not have been a “stable genius,” but he was a heck of a lot smarter than Trump and much funnier. And, while there are indications in his jurisprudence that he was a “racist at heart” (who despised Hispanics as much as African-Americans) he was somewhat less overt about his White Christian Nationalism than guys like Trump, Sessions, Miller, Bannon, Steve King, etc.

PWS

02-14-18

 

TRUMP BUDGET: VLADI’S PUPPET WOULD LITERALLY SELL OUT AND SELL OFF AMERICA, MUSHROOM DEFICIT TO LINE THE POCKETS OF THE RICH, BUILD BOMBS (BUT WITH NOBODY TO DROP THEM ON, ONCE THE RUSSIANS TAKE OVER), WHILE THOROUGHLY SCREWING THE POOR, THE VULNERABLE, AND THE VAST MAJORTY OF AMERICANS – No, It Won’t Pass, But It Stands As A Monument To The Corrupt & Perverted “Values” Of Trump and The GOP & Their Stunning Contempt For The Shortsighted Voters Who Put Them In Power!

Here’s what James Hohmann of the Washington Post has to say about the “Grifter-In-Chief” in his “Daily 202:”

THE BIG IDEA: President Trump campaigned like a populist, but the budget he proposed Monday underscores the degree to which he’s governing as a plutocrat.

Many of his proposals are dead on arrival in Congress, but the blueprintnonetheless speaks volumes about the president’s values – and contradicts many promises he made as a candidate.

“This is a messaging document,” Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at the White House.

Here are eight messages that the White House sends with its wish list:

1. Touching third rails he said he wouldn’t:

As a candidate, Trump repeatedly said he would never cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.

Now he proposes cutting Medicare by $554 billion and Medicaid by around $250 billion over the next decade.

His plan includes new per-person limits on the amount of health care each Medicaid enrollee can use and a dramatic shift toward block grants, which would allow states to tighten eligibility requirements and institute work requirements that would kick some off public assistance.

Impacting the middle class, Trump also calls for cutting the subsidies that allow more than four in five people with marketplace health plans to afford their insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act.

2. Scaling back support for the forgotten man:

Many displaced blue-collar workers in the Rust Belt took the president at his word when he promised to bring back their manufacturing jobs. But Trump’s budget calls for cutting funding for National Dislocated Worker Grants – which provides support to those who lose their jobs because of factory closures or natural disasters — from $219.5 million in 2017 to $51 million in 2019.

Also at the Labor Department, the president wants to slash support for the Adult Employment and Training Activities initiative, which serves high school dropouts and veterans, from $810 million last year to $490 million in 2019.

3. Giving up on a balanced budget:

Trump repeatedly promised that he would balance the budget “very quickly.” It turns out that a guy who has often described himself as the “king of debt” didn’t feel that passionately about deficits. Last year, he laid out a plan to balance the budget in 10 years. This year he didn’t even try. Trump now accepts annual deficits that will run over $1 trillion as the new normal.

Going further, the president also promised on the campaign trail that he’d get rid of the national debt altogether by the end of his second term. But his White House now projects that the national debt, which is already over $20 trillion, will grow more than $2 trillion over the next two years and by at least $7 trillion over the next decade. The administration repeatedly denied this in December as officials pushed to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion.

“After Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts in the 1980s, deficits exploded in the same range as Trump’s now, when calculated as a percentage of the economy, or gross domestic product. But Reagan’s famous ‘riverboat’ gamble came when the total national debt was a fraction of what it is today. Trump is pushing the envelope when debt is already near 80 percent of GDP, leaving far less room to maneuver if the economy turns downward,” David Rogers writes in Politico. “Economists and politicians alike don’t know what happens next. There’s all the edginess of breaking new ground. But also, as with Faulkner’s famous line, there is a sense that the past ‘is not even past.’ … Nothing now seems obvious, except red ink.”

Trump blames state of U.S. infrastructure on ‘laziness’ after WWII

4. Relying on fuzzy math:

Trump’s team knows full well that they’ll never get most of the spending cuts they’re proposing, but they’re using them to make the deficit look less bad than it really is. Just last Friday, the president signed into law an authorization bill that blows up the sequester and increases spending by more than $500 billion.

The White House also makes the unrealistic assumption that the economy will grow by more than 3 percent every year between now and 2024, which makes its projections for revenue growth rosier than they should be. No serious economist thinks that level of growth can be sustained. A recession seems probable in the next decade.

Senate Democrats noticed that Trump’s budget plan, if it was enacted, would actually result in a net decrease in federal spending on infrastructure. Chuck Schumer’s office identified more than $240 billion in proposed cuts over the coming decade to existing infrastructure programs, which is higher than the $200 billion Trump simultaneously proposed in new spending. “The cuts identified by Schumer’s office include a $122 billion reduction in outlays over the coming decade to the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for road projects and mass transit,” John Wagner reports. “Other proposed reductions would target an array of programs that fund rail, aviation [and] wastewater…”

5. Paying for tax cuts that mostly benefit the rich by cutting holes in the safety net for the poor:

In 1999, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush denounced a House Republican plan to save $8 billion by deferring tax credit payments for low-income people. “I don’t think they ought to balance their budget on the backs of the poor,” he said at a campaign stop. “I’m concerned for someone who is moving from near-poverty to middle class.”

That sentiment seems quaint now. While Trump has never claimed the mantle of “compassionate conservatism,” his budget validates several of the negative stereotypes that Bush tried to shed.

This is a budget for the haves. The have-nots get left behind.

Trump wants to cut $214 billion from the food stamp program in the next decade, a reduction of nearly 30 percent.

The budget shows Ben Carson has no suction at the White House. Despite his efforts, the secretary of housing and urban development was unable to stop Trump from reducing Section 8 federal housing subsidies by more than $1 billion, zeroing out community development block grants and eliminating a $1.9 billion fund to cover public housing capital repairs. The 14 percent cut at HUD is even deeper than what Trump proposed last year.

The budget cuts 29 programs at the Education Department, many of which are designed to help needy children – including after-school activities to keep kids off the street and a grant program for college students with “exceptional financial need.” Trump’s plan also gets rid of a tuition initiative that makes college affordable for underprivileged D.C. residents, who don’t have access to strong in-state universities.

6. Deconstructing the administrative state:

Trump wants to neuter the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by starving it of resources, limiting its enforcement power and changing its funding stream so that it’s more vulnerable to pressure from Wall Street.

He seeks to cut more than $2.5 billion from the annual budget of the Environmental Protection Agency, which is about a quarter of its spending. He’d eliminate funding for state radon-detection programs and end partnerships to monitor and restore water quality in the Gulf of Mexico, Puget Sound and other large bodies of water.

“Funding for the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay would fall from $72 million to $7 million, and a similar program for the Great Lakes would be cut from $300 million to $30 million — although neither would be wiped out,” Brady Dennis reports. “In addition, the Trump budget would eliminate — or very nearly eliminate — the agency’s programs related to climate change. Funding for the agency’s Office of Science and Technology would drop by more than a third, from $762 million to $489 million. And funding for prosecuting environmental crimes and for certain clean air and water programs would drop significantly.”

7. More guns, less butter:

Make no mistake, Trump is not calling for a reduction in the size of government. He seeks to spend $4.4 trillion next year, up 10 percent from last year. He’s calling for spending less on the homefront to cover a massive military buildup.

Trump asks for $716 billion in defense spending in 2019, a 13 percent increase. “The Trump plan provides more money for just about everything a general or admiral might desire,” Greg Jaffe notes. “The United States already spends more on its military than the next eight nations combined.”

Meanwhile, Trump proposes slashing the State Department’s budget by 23 percent. As Secretary of Defense James Mattis told Congress in 2013, when he was a Marine general leading Central Command: “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.”

Another campaign promise Trump is making good on: building his “Deportation Force.” The budget allocates $2.8 billion to expand immigration detention facilities so that 52,000 beds are always available, $782 million to hire 2,750 additional border agents, and $1.6 billion for the construction of 65 miles of border wall in Texas. (Whatever happened to Mexico paying?) He also adds $2.2 billion for the Secret Service to hire 450 more people.

Trump claims that U.S. has spent $7 trillion in the Middle East

8. Leaning in on privatization:

Trump wants to outsource as many public functions as possible to private, for-profit companies.

His budget calls for selling off scores of prized federal assets, from Reagan National and Dulles Airports to the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. “Power transmission assets from the Tennessee Valley Authority; the Southwestern Power Administration, which sells power in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas; the Western Area Power Administration; and the Bonneville Power Administration, covering the Pacific northwest, were cited for potential divestiture,” Michael Laris reports. “It was not immediately clear what public or private entity might buy those roads, whether they might be tolled, or other details. Some state officials said they were uncertain about how their residents would benefit from such a proposal.”

The White House is re-upping its plan to shift the nation’s air traffic control system out of government hands, even though it went nowhere in Congress last year.

Trump proposes to end funding for the International Space Station after 2024 by privatizing the orbiting laboratory.

Finally, he wants to increase spending by more than $1 billion on privateschool vouchers and other school choice plans while slashing the Education Department’s budget by $3.6 billion and devoting more resources to career training, at the expense of four-year universities.

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

Don’t be fooled by the “paper money” you might be making in the stock market (if you are one of the fortunate minority of Americans with money to invest). 2017 was one of the worst years in the history of American democracy, and 2018 promises to be even worse. Indeed, while American democracy has been resilient enough to stand up to Trump and the utterly corrupt GOP to date, they are now upping their attack. There is absolutely no guarantee that their plan to destroy our country and hand it over to an unholy mixture of Russian Oligarchs, Chinese Government Corporations, and greedy Capitalist plutocrats won’t succeed.

Donald Trump and today’s GOP are a clear and present danger to our national security and the future of our democracy!

 

PWS

02-13-18

 

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

 

DAN KOWALSKI @ LEXISNEXIS: EXPERTS “CALL OUT” TRUMP & GOP RESTRICTIONISTS’ BOGUS CLAIMS ABOUT THE ADVERSE EFFECTS OF FAMILY MIGRATION (Pejoratively Called “Chain Migration” By The Trumpsters)

https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/immigration/b/immigration-law-blog/archive/2018/02/08/experts-debunk-trump-39-s-false-39-chain-migration-39-claims.aspx?Redirected=true

Here’s what Dan posted on LexisNexis Immigration Community:

“Experts Debunk Trump’s False ‘Chain Migration’ Claims

Miriam Valverde, Politifact, Jan. 31, 2018 – “President Donald Trump in his State of the Union address called for tighter control of legal immigration and for an end to “chain migration.”  “Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives,” Trump said Jan. 30. “Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children.” … But there is a long queue for certain relatives seeking to come through family sponsorship. For brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, the waiting period for a visa is over 13 years. … But there are limits on the number of visas issued per year per family category.  More than 3.9 million people were in line for a visa as of Nov. 1, 2017, according to the U.S. State Department. Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens fall under a “fourth-preference” category, which had 2.3 million people waiting for a visa — the wait period is over 13 years for immigrants from most nations, but even longer for some countries with heavy demand, such as Mexico and the Philippines.  Siblings in the Philippines would have to wait at least 23 years for a visa, and Mexican siblings at least 20 years.  “As a practical matter, because of these long backlogs there is not as much chain migration as President Trump claims,” said Stephen W. Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law practice at Cornell Law School.  Trump said “a single immigrant can bring in unlimited numbers of distant relatives.” … Trump’s statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.”

Philip Bump, Washington Post, Feb. 6, 2018 – “As is so often the case with his discussion of immigrants, President Trump’s State of the Union description of “chain migration” — the process by which people in the United States can sponsor family members to join them — was long on fearmongering and short on accuracy.  “The fourth and final pillar protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration,” Trump said of his multipart immigration restructuring proposal. “Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security and our future.”  The idea that curtailing a process to bring in members of an immigrant’s nuclear family protects the nuclear family is one thing. But there is simply no way to defend the claim that “a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.” … Immigrants can’t come to the United States and sponsor 20 cousins who arrive four months later, the sort of ease-of-entry that Trump and the White House seem to imply. At best, an immigrant could bring in a spouse or child — after likely waiting an extended period for that application to be approved.  “You’re looking at years and years of waiting in this legal line,” [past president and past general counsel of the Washington, D.C.-based American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), David W.] Leopold said. “For anyone to say that the continuation of sponsorship based on family relationship is going to lead to an influx of people is either lying or doesn’t understand how the system works.” “

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Go on over to LexisNexis at the above link to get further links to the full articles. Many thinks to Dan for getting “the truth” assembled into one convenient blog.
PWS
02-09-18

EVEN AS NEGOTIATORS NEAR SENATE BUDGET DEAL, TRUMP WORKS TO UNDERMINE COOPERATION AND PROMOTES SHUTDOWN!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/spending-plan-remains-unsettled-as-clock-ticks-toward-shutdown-deadline/2018/02/06/1639ab26-0b53-11e8-8b0d-891602206fb7_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_pp-shutdown-3pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.e12ac63f105d

Mike DeBonis and Erica Werner report for WashPost:

“Top Senate leaders said Tuesday that they were approaching a sweeping two-year deal to increase federal spending, which would clear a legislative roadblock that has kept Congress spinning its wheels for months.

Despite the optimism, no final agreement was in hand with less than three days until a Thursday midnight deadline, and even as congressional leaders were projecting optimism, President Trump was raising tensions by openly pondering a shutdown if Democrats did not agree to his immigration plan.

“I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of,” Trump said at a White House event focused on the crime threat posed by immigrants. “If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don’t want safety . . . let’s shut it down.”

Those comments came at the same time Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) were telling reporters that a breakthrough was at hand — one that would deliver a defense spending boost Trump has long demanded as well as an increase in the nondefense programs championed by Democrats.

“We’re on the way to getting an agreement and on the way to getting an agreement very soon,” McConnell said. Schumer echoed the optimism moments later: “I am very hopeful that we can come to an agreement, an agreement very soon.”

Trump’s remarks, at least initially, appeared unlikely to snuff out the negotiations, which mainly involved lawmakers and their aides — not Trump and his White House deputies — and have largely steered clear of the explosive immigration issue.

The deal to lift congressional spending caps through 2019 could be the only solution to a legislative puzzle that has already required four temporary spending bills to keep the government open since the fiscal year began on Oct. 1.

The House is set to vote Tuesday evening on a spending bill that would fund the military through September at boosted levels but leave other agencies running on fumes until March. That plan would be amended in the Senate, where Democrats are holding out for a matching increase in nondefense spending.”

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

Read the rest of the story at the link.

Doing his best to destroy government and make America as dysfunctional as he is. Vladi must be delighted!

PWS

02-06-18

WASHPOST WONKBLOG: THE REAL STAKES IN THE TRUMP GOP RESTRICTIONIST IMMIGRATION PROPOSAL – AN ADDITIONAL 1-5 YEARS OF WHITE SUPREMACY! — “By greatly slashing the number of Hispanic and black African immigrants entering America, this proposal would reshape the future United States. Decades ahead, many fewer of us would be nonwhite or have nonwhite people in our families.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/02/06/trump-immigration-plan-could-keep-whites-in-u-s-majority-for-up-to-five-more-years/?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_wonk-trumpimmigration-1215pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.39256eab8ac1

“President Trump’s proposal to cut legal immigration rates would delay the date that white Americans become a minority of the population by as few as one or as many as five additional years, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

The plan, released by the White House last month, would scale back a program that allows people residing in the United States to sponsor family members living abroad for green cards, and would eliminate the “diversity visa program” that benefits immigrants in countries with historically low levels of migration to the United States. Together, the changes would disproportionately affect immigrants from Latin America and Africa.

The Census Bureau projects that minority groups will outnumber non-Hispanic whites in the United States in 2044. The Post’s analysis projects that, were Trump’s plan to be carried out, the date would be between 2045 and 2049, depending on how parts of it are implemented.

(The Post’s methodology for estimating the annual impact of Trump’s proposed cuts is explained in more detail at the bottom of this story. Projecting this far into the future entails certain assumptions that could alter the range, but demographic experts said The Post’s approach was reasonable.)

All told, the proposal could cut off entry for more than 20 million legal immigrants over the next four decades. The change could have profound effects on the size of the U.S. population and its composition, altering projections for economic growth and the age of the nation’s workforce, as well as shaping its politics and culture, demographers and immigration experts say.

“By greatly slashing the number of Hispanic and black African immigrants entering America, this proposal would reshape the future United States. Decades ahead, many fewer of us would be nonwhite or have nonwhite people in our families,” said Michael Clemens, an economist at the Center for Global Development, a think tank that has been critical of the proposal. “Selectively blocking immigrant groups changes who America is. This is the biggest attempt in a century to do that.”

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

Read the complete article, along with supporting “wonkie” stats, at the above link.

Yup! It is, and probably always has been, about White Nationalism and racism! Trump and his gang have just made it “fashionable” to be overtly racist again.

And, make no mistake about it, the REAL targets here are African American and Latino American citizens —  immigrants are just a subterfuge. After all, if African Americans and Latinos were “good for America” why wouldn’t we want more of them and their families?

No, as Trumpie let on in his White House debacle, it’s all about trying (futilely) to make America “more White like Norway.” “Making America Great Again”  is not so subtile “code language” for “Making America White Again.” Trump and his restrictionist cronies and misguided followers are not good for the future of America, or for the world.

PWS

02-06-18

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

GOP WONKSTER CARLOS BONILLA WONDERS WHEN “1st GENERATION AMERICANS” BECAME “ANCHOR BABIES,” “FAMILY REUNIFICATION” BECAME “CHAIN MIGRATION,” & “THE AMERICAN DREAM” WAS REPLACED BY THE GOP WHITE NATIONALIST RACIST AGENDA? — “We Used To Be Called First Generation Americans, But ‘Anchor Baby’ Apparently Resonates Better For Fearmongering Purposes.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2018/01/31/the-immigration-rules-president-trump-wants-would-have-crushed-my-family/

Bonilla writes in the Washington Post:

“After my father died in Honduras in 1990, I sponsored my widowed mother for permanent residency in the United States. She was 67 years old, I was her only child, and my three children were her only grandchildren. Of course I had to bring her here.

I was doing what most children with aging parents, in any country, try to do: take care of them as they once took care of us. Fortunately, the wisdom of U.S. immigration law at the time allowed her to enter with a green card under the family reunification visa preference, now under attack as “chain migration” by opponents of legal immigration, including President Trump. I was able to sponsor her because I was a U.S. citizen, born and raised here. No doubt some would consider me an “anchor baby,” although my nonimmigrant parents were here legally when I was born. We used to be called first-generation Americans, but “anchor baby” apparently resonates better for fearmongering purposes.

The Trump administration’s proposals to change the U.S. immigration system and end most family reunification preferences would have kept me from helping my mother, and if they become law, they’ll keep countless Americans from doing the same for their loved ones. The president wants to end visa preferences for parents, adult children and siblings of immigrants — only minor children or spouses would qualify for family visas. In Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, Trump said that he would protect “the nuclear family” and that the changes he’s proposed are necessary for “our security, and for the future of America.” But his rules wouldn’t have protected my family, or our future, at all. In my case, bringing my mother here had a profound impact on my life and those of my children — and no one would have been better off if immigration law had forced her to stay in Honduras.

CONTENT FROM CHILDREN’S NATIONAL
“There was constant anxiety. He would accuse people of not being careful enough [with food]. He was scared something could happen and that he could have a reaction.”
Read More
[For 50 years, keeping families together has been central to U.S. immigration policy]

In 1996, after going through a divorce, I found myself a single father, trying to raise three tweens and teens on my own, wondering how I would handle work and family obligations. My mother saved my life. In many ways, she saved my children’s lives as well. She was the after-school presence, always there to greet them and keep them out of trouble. We did a good job: All three graduated from good colleges — the University of Pennsylvania, Duke and the University of Pittsburgh. They’ve all gone on to successful careers in education, technology and real estate.

Without my mother here, I would have had to decline the greatest professional opportunity of my life in 2001: the chance to work in the White House as a special assistant for economic policy to President George W. Bush. What had been a few hours a day of after-school care that my mother handled became many hours a day and often late nights, as anyone who has worked in the White House will attest. Had she not been here, I could never have met the demands of that job with kids in high school.

In 2002, we celebrated my mother obtaining her U.S. citizenship with lunch in the White House Mess. We sat there and wished my father had lived to see this — his son working in the White House. My father, born to a single mother in a poor mountain town in Honduras, got a college education only because Rotary International gave him a scholarship at age 27 to study in the United States. He went on to get a master’s degree in economics, the same trade that brought me to the White House’s National Economic Council.

In some ways, mine was an atypical foreign family: My parents spent 20 years working here on G-4 visas , which are granted to employees of international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank, where they worked before taking overseas posts and ultimately retiring in Honduras. In other ways, though, we were the stereotypical American immigrant story: They came here to improve their lot in life. They were luckier than most and better educated than many. But that education took place only after my parents got here. They came with a high school education and no assets. They left this world with much more, but you couldn’t have predicted that when they first arrived in the United States.

[How ‘chain migration’ brought us the Trump White House]

Now the Trump administration is deriding family reunification as “chain migration,” a term intended to belittle the contributions that immigrants and their families make. “Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives,” Trump claimed Tuesday — a claim that isn’t true, as current law only allows citizens or permanent residents to sponsor immediate relatives. Some of the president’s allies, such as Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), don’t even want people like me to be citizens in the first place: My parents were not citizens or permanent residents when I was born, and King has introduced legislation to prevent children of people like them from becoming citizens at birth. Under these visions for America, I would not have been able to work in the White House; I would not have been able to sponsor my mother for permanent residency; and my mother would have been unable to help me and my children accomplish what we have accomplished.

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I ask only that people look at me and my family, especially my mother, as part of the positive impact that immigrants have in America. Both of my parents were born in Honduras (no doubt one of the places the president had in mind when he made a scatological reference to the countries of origin of many immigrants). Thanks to the compassion and vision of our current policies, though, my mother made a lasting contribution to our nation: the well-being and advancement of me and my three children. No one looking at us would ever think “Norwegian.” But surely they would think that we embody the American spirit.”

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Come on, Carlos! You’re a smart guy! What did you expect from a party that embraces outspoken anti-Latino, White Nationalist, racists like Steve King, Jeff Sessions, Kris Kobach, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Donald Trump?

Your achievements and past contributions are meaningless. It’s your a Brown skin, Hispanic race, and immigrant heritage that they hate and denigrate!

So, instead of asking why and lamenting the overt racism that has become a key part of the GOP agenda (just that Hispanics have replaced African-Americans as the primary target), why not do the “smart” thing and switch over to the Democratic Party where the American Dream isn’t restricted to rich White Guys?

PWS

02-04-18

JRUBE: GOP “PARTY OF PUTIN” OUT OF CONTROL!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2018/02/01/the-nunes-fiasco-grows-more-outrageous-by-the-hour/

Jennifer Rubin writes in “Right Turn” in the Washington Post:

The Post reports:

The long-simmering feud between President Trump and the Justice Department erupted into open conflict Wednesday when the FBI publicly challenged the president’s expected release of a contentious and classified memo related to the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

In a rare unsigned statement, the FBI cited “grave concerns” with inaccuracies and omissions in the four-page memo, which was written by House Republicans and alleges abuses at the Justice Department connected to secret surveillance orders. Trump has told advisers that the memo could benefit him by undercutting the special counsel’s investigation and allow him to oust senior Justice Department officials — and that he wants it released soon, something that could happen as early as Thursday.

“We have grave concerns about the material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” the FBI said. …

The memo in dispute was written by staffers for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) earlier in January after the panel obtained documents related to a controversial dossier of allegations concerning Trump and his purported ties to Kremlin officials.

We cannot stress enough just how bizarre and outrageous is the Nunes scheme. FBI Director Christopher Wray, appointed by Trump, and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, also appointed by Trump, have warned the president that disclosure of the memo would do great damage to American national security. The FBI publicly has, in essence, said the Nunes memo is misleading. And despite all that, the president plans to allow the release of the memo, which has one purpose only: to discredit and hobble the FBI and the Justice Department that are investigating the president. Bluntly put, Trump and Nunes surely seem to be acting with corrupt intent to taint the investigators in order to help Trump escape the legal and political consequences of possible wrongdoing.

2:24
What is the Nunes memo?

Created by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the four-page memo is critical of the Justice Department and the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation. (Video: Victoria Walker/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Wednesday night, events got even weirder. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat, released a letter he sent to Nunes accusing Nunes of altering the memo the committee voted to release before Nunes sent it to the White House. Schiff wrote:

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Because there were material changes made to the document unbeknownst to Committee Members and only revealed to us this evening, two days after the vote, there is no longer a valid basis for the White House to review the altered document, since this new version is not the same document shared with the entire House and on which Committee Members voted.

It is now imperative that the Committee Majority immediately withdraw the document that it sent to the White House. If the Majority remains intent on releasing its document to the public, despite repeated warnings from DOJ and the FBI, it must hold a new vote to release to the public its modified document. This can be done at the business meeting on Monday, February 5, 2018 when we will move, once again, to release the Minority’s responsive memorandum, which House Members have now had the opportunity to read.

Schiff’s letter is unlikely to alter Nunes and the White House’s plans to release the memo on Thursday, but it does once more expose Nunes’s sleazy, dishonest behavior. Nunes has managed — just as he did in the phony “unmasking” scandal — to mitigate the impact of his own scheme. It’s hard to take seriously a convoluted conspiracy theory coming from someone who trips over his own feet with such regularity.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) then weighed in. “It’s clear that Chairman Nunes will seemingly stop at nothing to undermine the rule of law and interfere with the Russia probe,” he said in a written statement. “He’s been willing to carry the White House’s water, attack our law enforcement and intelligence officials, and now to mislead his House colleagues. If Speaker [Paul] Ryan cares about the integrity of the House or the rule of law, he will put an end to this charade once and for all.”

Ryan, however, has been part of the problem. It is fully within his power as House speaker to remove Nunes as chairman and to signal to Republicans that the institution (Congress, in this case), the party, the intelligence community and the country would not be served by Nunes’s stunt. Instead, Ryan threw a few logs on the bonfire by suggesting that the FBI needed to be cleansed, which sounds an awful lot like a politically minded purge.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who seems more and more to be in the wrong party, denounced Republicans’ antics. “These attacks on these institutions like we’re seeing now with the FBI and the Justice Department — I mean, these are things that they’re hallmarks of our country,” he said, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “And as we erode them or create enormous doubts in the minds of Americans that there’s anything we can trust … it gets us in trouble.”

If Democrats ever needed proof for the midterms that the GOP is a threat to national security and is unfit to govern, this should do it. The Republicans cannot with a straight face claim to be the party of national security while carrying on in such fashion. And even if a congressman in Iowa or Michigan were to say he played no part in Nunes’s conduct, his or her reelection by definition would help return Nunes to the intelligence committee chairmanship and Ryan to the speakership. In short, Democrats can argue that if you vote for anyone with an “R” after his or her name, you are voting to hobble the FBI, expose our secrets to our enemies and help Trump escape the consequences of possible wrongdoing. Talk about a winning message.

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

So, “Vladi’s Not So Secret Agent” Devon Nunes (R-Moscow) and his Fellow Travelers want to attack our democratic institutions of justice!

Here’s what we know for sure:

  • Russia tried to interfere with our 2016 Presidential election.
  • Vladimir Putin hated Hillary Clinton.
  • Russia plans to interfere with our 2018 elections.
  • Several individuals close to the Trump Campaign, including former “National Security Director” General Mike Flynn lied to the FBI about their Russian connections.
  • Former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort faces Federal criminal charges for lying about his Russian connections.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions “forgot several times under oath” about various Russian contacts.
  • Donald Trump is a known liar.
  • Nunes & Trump plan to release a classified GOP propaganda memo over the national security objections of the Deputy AG and the FBI Director appointed by Trump.

Sure looks like 1) our national security is at risk, and 2) there are connections between Russians and various Trump campaign officials that those individuals went to the trouble of lying (or “forgetting”) under oath to hide.

But, do the “Party of Putin” and “Agent Nunes” want to get to the bottom of this? No way! Instead, they want to protect their sleazy President even at the cost of our national security and our democratic institutions!

Every time Trump and the GOP disingenuously talk about “protecting national security,” what they really mean is protecting themselves and their corrupt President from the truth.

By far, the biggest threat to our national security and  indeed to our continued existence as a nation, resides right in plain view at 1600 Pennsylvania, Avenue, Washington, D.C. When, if ever, will we wise up?

PWS

02-01-18

EUGENE ROBINSION @ WASHPOST & DAVID BROOKS @ NY TIMES: GOP IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONISTS’ PROPOSALS TO CUT LEGAL IMMIGRATION LEVELS HAVE NO RATIONAL BASIS! – That’s Going To Be A Big Problem In Trying To Forge A “Compromise!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-is-trying-to-make-america-white-again/2018/01/29/9afa7afa-053d-11e8-8777-2a059f168dd2_story.html

Robinson writes:

“. . . .

There’s a simple question here: Do you believe in America or not?

Throughout its history, the country has accepted waves of mostly low-skilled immigrants — German, Irish, Italian, Eastern European, now Latino. There are highly skilled immigrants, too; African newcomers, for example, are better-educated than the U.S. population as a whole, and an estimated 63 percent of people holding “computer and mathematical” jobs in Silicon Valley are foreign-born. But most immigrants over the years have arrived bearing not much more than grit, ambition and a dream.

Does an influx of workers with entry-level skills tend to depress wages? That’s the wrong question. Instead, we should be asking why the federal minimum wage is so low as to be almost irrelevant.

And we should recognize that immigration gives the United States a tremendous competitive advantage. In other advanced countries, populations are aging rapidly. Immigration provides a steady stream of younger workers whose brain and brawn keep programs such as Medicare and Social Security viable.

The only coherent — if despicable — arguments for Trump’s plan are racial and cultural. The way they used to put it in the Jim Crow days was succinct: White is right.”

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

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/29/opinion/east-germany-immigration-usa.html

Meanwhile, over at the NY Times, Brooks writes:

“. . . .

The results are just as clear as in the German case. Between 2014 and 2016 the counties that embrace diversity accounted for 72 percent of the nation’s increased economic output and two-thirds of the new jobs. The approximately 85 percent of counties that support restrictionists like Donald Trump accounted for a measly 28 percent of the growth.

Republicans’ problem is that since George W. Bush left town they’ve become the East Germans of the 21st century. They have embraced a cultural model that produces low growth and low dynamism. No wonder they want to erect a wall.

Progressives say Republicans oppose immigration because of bigotry. But it’s not that simple. It’s more accurate to say restrictionists are stuck in a mono-cultural system that undermines their own values: industry, faithfulness and self-discipline. Of course they react with defensive animosity to the immigrants who out-hustle and out-build them. You’d react negatively, too, if confronted with people who are better versions of what you wish you were yourself.”

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You can can read the complete versions of both op-eds, which I highly recommend, at the above links.

Yup!
When you’re coming from the same places as Jim Crow and the East Germans, there is no acceptable “rational basis” for the restrictionist agenda. It’s bad for America as well as for immigrants. But, it’s difficult or impossible to make rational arguments against deeply held, factually incorrect, irrational beliefs, particularly those based on racial, economic, cultural, and class bias. That’s probably why rational “immigration reform” has been, and remains, so difficult to achieve.

And, having seen thousands of migrants and their families come before me at the Arlington Immigration Court over the years, gotten to know many of their stories, and having represented immigrants, entrepreneurs, and businesses during my time in private practice, there is no doubt that Brooks is right: they “out-hustle and out-build” many of those “native-born” Americans who despise and look down on them.

And, it’s not just the doctors, professors, and top execs — folks who pound nails, lay foundations, make food, sweep floors, put on roofs , and pick our produce are also performing essential services that keep our country going — and, in many if not all cases, doing it better than the rest of us could or would. Really, how long would YOU last picking lettuce or laying shingles on a 100 degree day? And, how GOOD would you really be at it? There is more “skill” to so-called “unskilled” work than most of us in the “privileged classes” want to admit!

PWS

01-30-18

FRED HIATT @ WASHPOST: NOTE TO GOP RESTRICTIONISTS: ANTI-IMMIGRATION = ANTI GROWTH! — “A vote to choke off immigration is a vote for stagnation and decline!” – EXACTLY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/without-immigration-america-will-stagnate/2018/01/28/e659aa94-02d5-11e8-8acf-ad2991367d9d_story.html

Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt writes:

“Message to Republicans: You can be pro-growth. You can be anti-immigration. But, honestly, you can’t be both.

Now, within the immigration debate, there are a lot of questions with no obvious right answers.

What’s the right balance of immigrants admitted for their skills and those allowed in because they have relatives here?

How much effort should be devoted to tracking down the undocumented, and how much to punishing companies that hire them?

What should we do about the millions of immigrants who came here illegally a decade or more ago and have become established members of their communities?

And — what is the right number of legal immigrants every year from now on?

Big, complicated questions — which is why Congress shouldn’t try to solve them all between now and Feb. 8, its self-imposed deadline for resolving the issue of the “dreamers.” In the few days that remain, the best it could do would be to, well, resolve the issue of the dreamers — the undocumented immigrants who were brought here as young children through no fault of their own, who obey the law and who go to school or work or serve in the military.

They are American in all but legal status. Give them a path to citizenship, as President Trump has proposed. Give Trump the money for his wall (until he gets that check from Mexico). Punt on the big, complicated questions, something Congress certainly knows how to do. Everyone declares victory, and the government doesn’t shut down.

Of course, that would leave us still facing the big questions. Ideally, Congress would schedule a serious debate on them for the spring. Ideally, it would be conducted in a constructive spirit — acknowledging, for example, that reasonable people can disagree on skills vs. family.

But ideally, also, it would also be conducted with an understanding that those who favor a drastic, absolute drop in the level of immigration, as many Republicans do, would be making a choice about America’s future.

They would be turning us into Japan.

Now, to be clear, Japan is a wondrous nation, with an ancient, complex culture, welcoming people, innovative industry — a great deal to teach the world.

But Japan also is a country that admits few immigrants — and, as a result, it is an aging, shrinking nation. By 2030, more than half the country will be over age 50. By 2050 there will be more than three times as many old people (65 and over) as children (14 and under). Already, deaths substantially outnumber births. Its population of 127 million is forecast to shrink by a third over the next half-century.

Japan is a pioneer and an extreme version of where much of the First World is headed as longevity increases and fertility declines. The likely consequences are slower economic growth, reduced innovation, labor shortages and huge pressure on pensions. If you think our entitlement politics are fraught, think about this: In Japan in 2050, the old-age dependency ratio — the number of people 65 and over as a percentage of the number who are 15 to 64 — is projected to be 71.2 percent.

The comparable figure for the United States is 36.4 percent, up from 25.7 percent in 2020. Still high, but if it proves manageable, we will have immigration to thank. America still attracts dynamic, hard-working people from around the world, and they and their offspring help keep our population and our economy growing, as recent Pew Research Center and International Monetary Fund papers explain.

The wave of immigration over the past half-century also has changed the face of the nation, reducing the share of the white population from what it would have been and increasing the share of Asians and Hispanics. It’s not surprising that some people find this disorienting.

But as so often with such debates, perceptions lag reality. Nearly half (48 percent) of immigrants these days have college degrees, as a fact sheet from the Migration Policy Institute last year showed. A quarter of technology company start-ups between 2008 and 2012 included at least one foreign-born founder. As incomes and education levels rise around the world, in other words, the skills mix of U.S. immigration is already changing, without any changes in our laws.

Here’s the bottom line: I think we should remain open to immigrants because it’s part of who we are as a nation, because every generation of newcomers — even, or maybe especially, the ones who come with nothing but moxie and a tolerance for risk — has enriched and improved us.

But you don’t have to buy into any of that Statue of Liberty stuff to favor immigration, because naked self-interest leads to the very same conclusion. A vote to choke off immigration is a vote for stagnation and decline.”

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Hiatt clearly “gets it!”

But, maybe the GOP restrictionists do too. Their opposition to legal immigration is grounded in racism, White Nationalism, and xenophobia — none of which have anything to do with rationality, facts, the common good, or even “enlightened self-interest.”

Therefore, neither an appeal to “who we are as a nation” nor “naked self-interest” is likely to change their highly emotional, but essentially irrational anti-immigrant views.

PWS

01-29-18