AMERICA THE UGLY: YOU ARE FUNDING THE NEW AMERICAN GESTAPO AT DHS: ABUSING CHILDREN, SOWING FEAR, DENYING WOMEN’S RIGHTS, DESTROYING THE FUTURE OF OUR COUNTRY! — Cruelty For Cruelty’s Sake – How Will YOU Explain To Your Children & Grandchildren How YOU Stood By and Watched Trump, Sessions, & Their White Nationalist Lieutenants Create the “Fourth Reich” in America? – “Will They Take Me Too”?” – What About YOU? — Who Will Stand Up for YOUR Rights When the White Nationalist State Knocks On YOUR Door?

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/14/magazine/will-they-take-me-too.html

Brooke Jarvis reports for the NY Times:

“More than a thousand children are counting on Nora Sándigo to become their guardian if their undocumented parents are deported. How many of those promises will she now have to keep?

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Because she didn’t know what to tell her children, she tried not to tell them anything. When they asked where their father was, she gave flimsy excuses: Yes, he came home last night, but he left while you were still asleep. He’s working late, he’s working early, he just stepped out, he’ll be back soon. “You just missed him,” she found herself repeating.

The strategy worked, for a few days at least, with the youngest three. They were all under 5 and were used to the world going about its strange business without them. But then there was Kelly. She was 8 and sharp-eyed, a good student who preferred English to Spanish and wanted to someday be a doctor, or maybe a gymnast, and who had watched a presidential candidate on television say he wanted to send people back to Mexico, where both her parents grew up.

Kelly came home from school one day in October last year and demanded to know where her father was. Because his construction job started so early in the morning, Javier was usually the first home. That was part of how he and Kelly’s mother, T., fell in love. They boarded in the same house more than a decade ago, when she was 19 and freshly arrived in South Florida, having followed her sister from their small village in southern Mexico. T., who is being identified by her first initial to shield her identity, quit school after sixth grade. She helped her parents plant corn and beans but dreamed of something better for herself and her infant son; she decided to leave him in her mother’s care and support him from afar. Javier was from the same region, and because he finished work early, he cooked for her while she was still out in the Florida sun. The food was delicious and tasted like home. Soon they were a couple, and then Kelly was born, and her father, who fainted with anxiety in the birthing room, adored her, and she adored him back.

“He’s late from work,” T. told her daughter.

But Kelly wasn’t having it. Before heading to school that morning, she saw uniformed men come to the door and ask her mother for her father’s passport; she heard her mother on the phone, asking what had happened, what to do. “Don’t lie to me,” Kelly said, and started to cry. “Where did they take him? What did he do?”

By now T. knew. One of her first phone calls was to an immigrant advocate and former refugee named Nora Sándigo, who, in this poor area south of Miami, was the most powerful person in many people’s worlds: She knew lawyers, county commissioners, even members of Congress. After T. called her, Sándigo quickly discovered that Javier had been detained by the Department of Homeland Security. T. didn’t tell Kelly the details she had learned from Sándigo, or from Javier, when he was finally able to make a brief call. That they arrested him just a few yards away from their home, as he stood waiting for his ride to work. That now he was on the edge of the Everglades, in a gray-and-tan detention center adjacent to a state prison, a half-hour’s drive away, a distance that, for T., had suddenly become unbridgeable. “He was arrested,” she told Kelly, simply. “We have no papers to be here, like you do.”

“Will they take me, too?” Kelly asked. She didn’t know what papers her mother was talking about, what this thing was that she had and her parents didn’t.

T. didn’t tell her daughter the other reason she called Sándigo. Across South Florida, T. knew, undocumented parents of citizen children were preparing for possible deportation by signing power-of-attorney forms that allowed Sándigo to step in should their own parenthood be interrupted by a surprise visit from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. If they were taken away, at least Norita, as they called her, could provide stability while the family sorted out what to do; she could also sign forms on their children’s behalf at school, or at the hospital, or in federal court.

Sándigo’s responsibilities extended to many hundreds of children, and were growing all the time. Parents, some of whom had never met her in person, were desperate for any solution. Her qualifications were simple. She was compassionate. She was willing. And, like their children, she was a United States citizen.

For years, T. never felt the need for such an extreme contingency plan. Now she was thinking of adding her own children to Sándigo’s list. “Imagine if they detained me too,” she said after Javier was gone. She couldn’t envision taking her American children with her to Mexico, where she “wouldn’t be able to give them education, shoes, clothes,” and where they would be separated from their friends and lives and ambitions, from the only home they had ever known. But what would happen if they stayed behind, with no parents left to care for them?

There’s a common misconception that having a citizen child — a so-called anchor baby — allows undocumented parents to gain legal status in the United States. In fact, parents of citizen children are deported annually by the tens of thousands, according to ICE’s own reports to Congress. Randy Capps, a demographer with the Migration Policy Institute, estimates that as many as a quarter of the people deported from the United States interior (who are counted separately from those deported at a border) are the parents of American children. Though immigration law prioritizes family connections, including legal status for the family members of Americans who petition on their behalf, children are the exception. They cannot, by law, petition for anyone until they turn 21 — by which time, of course, they won’t need their parents nearly as much.

Continue reading the main story

Photo

Gifts for children in Sándigo’s home. CreditChristopher Morris/VII, for The New York Times

Families like Kelly’s are known as “mixed status” — a reminder that the way we talk about immigration, with clear lines of legality separating groups of people, is often a fantasy. The reality is a world of families with separate legal statuses but intertwined fates. More than four million American children are estimated to have a parent in the country illegally. If deported, those parents face a difficult choice: Take their children to a country they do not know, whose language they may not speak and one that lacks the security and opportunities they have in the United States; or leave them behind, dividing the family. Courts have regularly responded to the argument that a parent’s deportation will deny a child, as one lawyer put it, “the right which she has as an American citizen to continue to reside in the United States,” with the counterargument that such children are not, in fact, deprived, because they retain the right to stay in their country and the right to live with their parents — just not both at the same time. “That’s what I call a choiceless choice,” says David B. Thronson, a professor at the Michigan State University College of Law, who helped found the Immigration Law Clinic.

But it’s a choice that’s familiar to millions of families, including Sándigo’s. “I lived that,” she said one day when I met her at her office in the suburbs of Miami, a one-story stucco house that serves as the headquarters of the Nora Sándigo Children Foundation. When she was 16, her parents sent her away from Nicaragua to escape the violence of its civil war; her family, she says, was targeted for opposing the Sandinistas. “I feel like I am one of those kids,” she continued, “because I came with the same problem. I had my father and mother, but I was an orphan without them. Separate from their parents, they become orphans, like me.” She remembers sobbing as she watched the country of her birth recede from the plane window.

When she left Nicaragua, Sándigo went to Venezuela, then France, “trying to get something legal,” and in 1988 finally ended up in the United States, where the organization that helped her settle here offered her a job working with other refugees from Central America and advocating for their asylum. The Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act was passed in 1997. In Miami, she helped other immigrants with paperwork and resettlement matters, like looking for apartments or jobs. She also started a business of small nursing homes, which, along with a plant nursery, helps cover her foundation’s bills. She never went back to Nicaragua, not even when her father was dying. He told her to stay in the United States and be safe. It was her country now, he said.

As Sándigo’s reputation grew, it became common for strangers in Miami’s immigrant communities to seek her out, asking for help; the requests opened Sándigo’s eyes to the depth of people’s need. She remembers bringing six towels to a woman with five children, who was shocked at the abundance: “So many!”

One call, in 2006, was for a new kind of assistance: A Peruvian woman, whom Sándigo had never met, was being held in a detention center, and she wanted to give Sándigo power of attorney to make decisions about her children’s care. (Unlike full legal guardianship, which is conferred by a court, power-of-attorney forms don’t involve a transfer of parental rights.) Others in the center had warned her that if she didn’t do something, she might lose her children to the child welfare system. Sándigo doesn’t know why the woman thought of her, but she felt honored, and obligated, by her trust: “When she called she had the papers signed and notarized already in my name.”

The Peruvian woman’s children never called on Sándigo, but word of what she had done got out. In 2009, a brother and sister, ages 9 and 11, showed up at Sándigo’s door with their uncle; their mother, they said, was in detention, and they weren’t going to eat until she was released. Sándigo remembers the oldest, Cecia, now a student at Georgetown University, saying, “We’ll stay with you,” to which she replied, “But this is an office, baby.” Still, she made a place for them. Jerryann, one of Sándigo’s two biological daughters, recalled: “You were like, ‘Oh, they’re going to stay the night.’ And then one night became forever.” The children moved in — they ended up staying for six years — the case attracted a lot of publicity and soon there was a steady stream of requests. “That gave the perception to the people, probably, that I was accepting the power of attorney from everyone in the same situation,” Sándigo said.

Many of the people who contacted Sándigo wanted only a temporary backup, a documented adult whom their kids could call in the moment of crisis to avoid ending up in the child-welfare system. According to an ICE spokeswoman, “ICE is committed to ensuring that the agency’s immigration-enforcement activities, including detention and removal, do not unnecessarily disrupt the parental rights of alien parents and legal guardians of minor children.” But navigating the immigration and child-welfare systems simultaneously can be difficult. Emily Butera, a senior policy adviser at the Women’s Refugee Commission, told me that many parents have come to believe that they will lose their rights automatically: “We’ve started explicitly saying to people, ‘Your children are not the property of the U.S. government.’ ”

Other parents planned for their children to stay with their undocumented friends or relatives, but wanted Sándigo to sign papers or fill official roles that they couldn’t. Still others hoped that their children would live with her, maybe for the remainder of their childhoods — something Sándigo wasn’t promising and worried that people assumed she was. But still, she never said no. When people came to her looking for help, Sándigo found it impossible to deny them. The numbers grew into the dozens, and then to the hundreds. “We never planned this,” Sándigo said one day. “It was planned by nobody. It just came.”

. . . .

Two days later, nine adults and 36 children gathered at Sándigo’s house to pack into three rented vans for the 18-hour drive to Washington. T. tried to find space under a seat for a stroller — she was bringing all four daughters — while Sándigo stood in front of local news cameras, speaking in Spanish. “How can they be American citizens if in their own country they’re treated so harshly?” she asked. Kelly wandered into the frame, and Sándigo pointed to her: “Her father was deported,” she said. “It’s very hard.” Kelly noticed the cameras turning to her and darted away. “We hope they’ll listen to these American children,” T.’s sister told Telemundo.

Finally, space was found for all the diaper bags and suitcases and gallons of frozen milk. The kids lined up for a group photo around an American flag. The plan was to drive through the night, a challenge with so few licensable drivers among the adults. The vans pulled out past a small lineup of news cameras.

A few minutes later, they were back. Sándigo had gotten a call from the only English-language station to respond to her news release: The cameraman was running late. Sándigo agreed to redo the exit scene. “For us, the English news is the most important,” she said. Its viewers were the ones whom she most wanted to hear from the children, their fellow citizens.

Kelly and the others dutifully spilled out of the van into the sunshine. Valerie, in her native, teenage English, told the new camera the same things she’d told the others in Spanish: about missing her parents, about how hard it was. She was proud that she’d finally learned to talk about them without crying.

Then the children all climbed back inside for another try at reaching their nation’s capital.

The cameraman stood in the empty street for a long time, watching them disappear.”

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

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

What are we going to tell our fellow citizens when they grow up and become essential parts of our society? What’s going to happen when they come into power in various forms. How will the descendants of Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions and his “fellow travelers” expect fairness, forgiveness, and mercy from others when their ancestors had and gave none? What are we doing to resist the current regime and insure their eventual removal from office?

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Meanwhile, over at Newsweek reports on how, led by Chief Scofflaw Jeff “Gonzo Apocalyoto” Sessions, the Trump Administration continues its assault on our Constitution, women, Latinos, immigrants, and the REAL rule of law by attempting to force immigrant teenagers to carry pregnancies to term against their will:

“The Trump administration is attempting to block two young undocumented immigrant women in federal custody from obtaining an abortion, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union to head back to court today.

The two women, known to the court as Jane Roe and Jane Poe, requested to have an abortion. The Office of Refugee Resettlement refused their request.

The organization says this refusal, which has become common under Trump, shouldn’t be acceptable. The administration has been requiring these young women to go to religiously affiliated “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” that require patients to “have a medically unnecessary sonogram” and urges them to carry their pregnancy.

This case comes after the recent “Jane Doe” case in which the civil rights group stepped in and helped another immigrant receive the care she requested.

“We’ve already stopped the Trump administration from blocking one young woman’s abortion,” Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a press release. “But the Trump administration is relentless in its cruelty, blocking abortion access for the most marginalized people in our country.”

The Jane Doe case was the first major abortion battle under Trump, in which a 17-year-old came to the U.S. from Central America in September. She was detained and learned that she was pregnant. When she was at the government-funded shelter, she attempted to get an abortion but the government didn’t allow it. That was the first undocumented immigrant abortion case the ACLU took to the court to fight the Trump administration.

According to a previous report by Newsweek, The ACLU told the court that the Trump administration unlawfully barred Jane Doe from having an abortion for a month. The court agreed with the ACLU and Jane obtained an abortion the next day, but the fight is still on between the group’s lawyers and the Trump administration.

After winning in court and receiving her abortion, Jane Doe said in a statement that she came to the U.S. for a better life.

“No one should be shamed for making the right decision for themselves,” she said in a statement released by the ACLU on October 25. “I would not tell any other girl in my situation what they should do. That decision is hers and hers alone.”

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So, how are Gonzo and other Trump Administration scofflaws not in jail for contempt of court?

What’s the REAL difference between “America First” and “Deutschland Uber Alles?”

How long will we suffer through this national travesty of having a racist, anti-Constitutionalist, White Nationalist, scofflaw in charge of our Department of “Justice” and perhaps ever more appallingly our U.S. Immigraton “Courts?”

Easy to understand why there are so many “Sanctuary Jurisdictions” in the U.S. Hard to understand why all jurisdictions aren’t “Sanctuaries?” But, history will show who resisted and who went along with the “Fourth Reich!”

PWS

12/15/17

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nonetheless, Republicans are staging a trickle-down revival.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

. . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

11-30-17

ICE’S “IN YOUR FACE” COURTHOUSE ARREST POLICY ERODES OUR CONSTITUTOINAL SYSTEM OF JUSTICE!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/26/opinion/immigration-ice-courthouse-trump.html?em_pos=large&emc=edit_ty_20171127&nl=opinion-today&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

PROFESSOR CÉSAR CUAUHTÉMOC GARCÍA HERNÁNDEZ writes in the NY Times:

“At the door of the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver one Friday in April, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents tackled a man to the ground. A chilling video shows the man — who, according to his lawyer, was there to deal with a traffic ticket — yelling “No!” “My hand!” and “Why?” in Spanish. Sheriff’s deputies order passers-by to stand back, and the violent arrest continues.

The next month, ICE agents returned and arrested another man. His lawyer can be heard in a video of the incident asking the agents if they had a warrant. One responds, “Yes, sir.” The lawyer asks, “Can I see it?”

The agent’s response: “No, sir.”

Both men, according to their lawyers, were taken to immigration detention centers.

This type of arrest is on the rise. Lawyers and judges in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington all reported in the first year of the Trump administration that immigration officials were breaking with tradition to descend upon their courthouses. Such arrests in New York have increased by 900 percent in 2017, according to the Immigrant Defense Project.

This is a deeply worrisome trend because arrests at courthouses don’t just derail the lives of the unsuspecting people who are detained, they threaten the very operation of our judicial system. Such arrests scare people away from the courts, keeping them, for example, from testifying at trials or seeking orders of protection. By using this tactic, the nation’s lead immigration law enforcement agency is undermining a pillar of our democracy.

. . . .

Courthouses have a special place in American society. It’s only in a court of law that we can be confident that disputes will be mediated deliberately, and according to a set of rules intended to ensure justice for all parties. As the Supreme Court declared in 1907: “The right to sue and defend in the courts is the alternative of force. In an organized society it is the right conservative of all other rights, and lies at the foundation of orderly government.”

The pursuit of justice depends on getting the parties in the same room. That’s why courts have the power to drag in unwilling participants with subpoenas. They can compel witnesses to testify or risk contempt charges. Courts rely on their hard-earned legitimacy as the rightful locations for resolution of disagreements.

Courthouse arrests by ICE deter not only undocumented immigrants but also people who are here legally but are nervous that they might have somehow compromised their status (or that an officer will think they have). That’s a nuance that is next to impossible for the average person to discern, and those complicated legal questions are exactly what immigration judges spend a lot of energy trying to answer.

. . . .

The harm this causes is bigger than the people whom ICE arrests. United States citizens are not immune to the impact of ICE activity in courthouses. All of us — including those of us who could easily prove our immigration status — depend on courts to do their job, and all of us suffer if the fear of ICE keeps people away.

ICE understands its actions can paralyze important institutions. Longstanding ICE policy discourages questioning or arresting people in schools and churches. It is time to add courthouses to that list. But top administration officials have vigorously defended courthouse arrests.

With no change to federal policy in sight, it is up to cities and states to push back. Elected officials must take seriously their legal obligation to keep courthouses accessible. In addition, the cities and states that own and operate most courthouses and ensure that no one uses their courts in a way that halts judicial business — protesters can’t block the doorway, bail bondsmen aren’t allowed to set up shop in the lobby — should do the same here for immigration agents.

ICE should no longer get free rein to tackle, handcuff and haul away immigrants, sending a message to others that they should think twice before trusting in the courts.

 

GONZO’S WORLD: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A DIVERSE “NATION OF IMMIGRANTS” ANOINTS A COMMITTED XENOPHOBE AS ITS CHIEF LAW OFFICER? – Gonzo Is Deconstructing Our System Of Justice, One Day At A Time!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/while-eyes-are-on-russia-sessions-dramatically-reshapes-the-justice-department/2017/11/24/dd52d66a-b8dd-11e7-9e58-e6288544af98_story.html?utm_term=.6b27aa9221e3

“For more than five hours, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sat in a hearing room on Capitol Hill this month, fending off inquiries on Washington’s two favorite topics: President Trump and Russia.

But legislators spent little time asking Sessions about the dramatic and controversial changes in policy he has made since taking over the top law enforcement job in the United States nine months ago.

From his crackdown on illegal immigration to his reversal of Obama administration policies on criminal justice and policing, Sessions is methodically reshaping the Justice Department to reflect his nationalist ideology and hard-line views — moves drawing comparatively less public scrutiny than the ongoing investigations into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin.

Sessions has implemented a new charging and sentencing policy that calls for prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible, even if that might mean minority defendants face stiff, mandatory minimum penalties. He has defended the president’s travel ban and tried to strip funding from cities with policies he considers too friendly toward undocumented immigrants.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Nov. 14. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Sessions has even adjusted the department’s legal stances in cases involving voting rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in a way that advocates warn might disenfranchise poor minorities and give certain religious people a license to discriminate.

Supporters and critics say the attorney general has been among the most effective of the Cabinet secretaries — implementing Trump’s conservative policy agenda even as the president publicly and privately toys with firing him over his decision to recuse himself from the Russia case.

. . . .

In meetings with top Justice Department officials about terrorist suspects, Sessions often has a particular question: Where is the person from? When officials tell him a suspect was born and lives in the United States, he typically has a follow-up: To what country does his family trace its lineage?

While there are reasons to want to know that information, some officials familiar with the inquiries said the questions struck them as revealing that Sessions harbors an innate suspicion about people from certain ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said in a statement, “The Attorney General asks lots of relevant questions in these classified briefings.”

Sessions, unlike past attorneys general, has been especially aggressive on immigration. He served as the public face of the administration’s rolling back of a program that granted a reprieve from deportation to people who had come here without documentation as children, and he directed federal prosecutors to make illegal-immigration cases a higher priority. The attorney general has long held the view that the United States should even reduce the number of those immigrating here legally.

In an interview with Breitbart News in 2015, then-Sen. Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke favorably of a 1924 law that excluded all immigrants from Asia and set strict caps on others.

“When the numbers reached about this high in 1924, the president and Congress changed the policy and it slowed down immigration significantly,” Sessions said. “We then assimilated through 1965 and created really the solid middle class of America, with assimilated immigrants, and it was good for America.”

Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division in the Obama administration who now works as chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said Sessions seems to harbor an “unwillingness to recognize the history of this country is rooted in immigration.”

“On issue after issue, it’s very easy to see what his worldview is of what this country is and who belongs in this country,” she said, adding that his view is “distinctly anti-immigrant.”

Those on the other side of the aisle, however, say they welcome the changes Sessions has made at the Justice Department.

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for moderating levels of immigration, said she would give the attorney general an “A-plus” for his work in the area, especially for his crackdown on “sanctuary cities,” his push to hire more immigration judges and his focus on the MS-13 gang.

“He was able to hit the ground running because he has so much expertise already in immigration enforcement and related public safety issues and the constitutional issues, so he’s accomplished a lot in a very short time,” Vaughan said.”

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Read the compete article, which deals with much more than immigration, at the link.

Immigrants, refugees, immigration advocates, and career civil servants involved in immigration at the DOJ seems to be “star-crossed.” After decades of relative indifference to the importance of immigration, an Attorney General finally shows up  who makes it his highest priority.

Only problem is that he’s a committed xenophobe and White Nationalist whose largely false and exaggerated narrative on immigration comes right from the alt-right restrictionist playbook and harks back to the Jim Crow era of the American South — only this time with Hispanics and Muslims as the primary targets.

In any “normal” American business, obsession with tracing back lineage of someone’s family would be prima facie evidence of prohibited “national origins discrimination.” But, for Gonzo, it’s just another day at the office.

Notwithstanding his less than stellar performances before Congress and that he’s fallen off Trump’s “A-Team” (notwithstanding probably doing more to deconstruct the Constitution and “Good Government” than any other cabinet officer), he’s unlikely to be going anywhere soon. So the damage will continue to add up for the foreseeable future. It’s not like Senator Liz Warren and others didn’t try to warn America about this dude!

Meanwhile, perhaps not to be outdone, over at the U.S. State Department, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is proceeding to deconstruct the Career Foreign Service and reduce the Stated Department and our Diplomatic Corps to “administrative roadkill.” You can read about that debacle in this NY Times article:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/24/us/politics/state-department-tillerson.html

PWS

11-26-17

 

FEAR AND LOATHING IN ATLANTA: The Worst Place In America To Be Undocumented?

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/25/us/atlanta-immigration-arrests.html

Vivian Yee writes in the NY Times:

“CHAMBLEE, Ga. — Not many notice when the SUVs arrive.

Around 5 a.m., when the immigration agents pull into the parking lot of the Chamblee Heights apartments, 16 miles from downtown Atlanta, only one person is on the lookout.

Cristina Monteros catches sight of the cars with the telltale tinted windows from her small apartment near the front, where she runs a day care, and calls her downstairs neighbor: ICE is here.

The neighbor dials another, who passes it on. It takes less than 15 minutes for everyone in the complex to hear about “la migra,” whereupon they shut their doors and hold their breath. Some show up late to work, and others skip it altogether. The school bus might leave some children behind.

“It’s just us helping each other out,” said Ms. Monteros, 35. “There’s fear every day.”

Few places in the United States have simultaneously beckoned undocumented immigrants and penalized them for coming like metropolitan Atlanta, a boomtown of construction and service jobs where conservative politics and new national policies have turned every waking day into a gamble.

President Trump has declared anyone living in the country illegally a target for arrest and deportation, driving up the number of immigration arrests by more than 40 percent this year. While the Obama administration deported record numbers of undocumented immigrants, it directed federal agents to focus on arresting serious criminals and recent arrivals. The current administration has erased those guidelines, allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to arrest and deport anyone here illegally.

Freed of constraints, the regional ICE office in Atlanta made nearly 80 percent more arrests in the first half of this year than it did in the same period last year, the largest increase of any field office in the country.

It has had help. Local sheriffs and the police have been working with federal agents to identify and detain immigrants, a model of cooperation that the Trump administration is rapidly trying to expand throughout the country.

Every few hours, an unauthorized immigrant is booked into a county jail on charges as serious as assault and as minor as failing to signal a right turn. Then the jail alerts ICE — contrary to what happens in the so-called sanctuary cities repeatedly denounced by Mr. Trump, where local authorities refuse to turn immigrants over to the federal agency except in cases involving the gravest crimes.

Atlanta’s immigrants can do little but hide. At strip-mall taquerias and fruit stands, business has lagged. Word of the arrests flows through neighborhood phone trees, and Facebook has become an early-warning system for people desperate for clues about where ICE is operating. All around the metropolitan area, cabs and Uber cars are picking up immigrants who know driving their own cars may get them no further than detention.

. . . .

An analysis of one month of Gwinnett County jail records from this summer shows that 184 of the 2,726 people booked and charged at the jail were held for immigration authorities. Almost two-thirds of those detained for ICE had been charged with a traffic infraction such as failing to stay in their lane, speeding or driving without a license. Others were booked on charges including assault, child molestation and drug possession.

Advocates for immigrants have accused officers in 287(g) counties of targeting Hispanic drivers, a claim local police have denied.

“Local law enforcement is just chasing Latinos all over the place for tiny traffic infractions,” said Adelina Nicholls, the executive director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights.

But to Butch Conway, the longtime sheriff of Gwinnett County, there is no reason his deputies should not turn in immigrants caught driving without a license. They are, after all, doubly breaking the law.

“I find it offensive that they just thumb their nose at our laws and operate vehicles they are not licensed to operate,” Mr. Conway said in a 2010 interview, “on top of the fact that they are here illegally.” (Through a spokeswoman, he declined to comment for this article.)

In nearby Cobb County, Maria Hernandez, a school janitor from Mexico, was arrested while driving home from work one night in May. An officer conducting a random license tag check, a common practice in some police departments, had determined through a state database that the tag had been suspended because the car lacked insurance. After pulling over Ms. Hernandez, the officer then discovered she had no driver’s license.

Her boss tried to bail her out of the Cobb County jail, but was told that the money would go to waste: She was headed to immigration detention, where she would spend three days trying to explain that she was a single mother with a sick child. Estefania, her 13-year-old daughter, was being treated for depression after a suicide attempt.

Ms. Hernandez was released, given an ankle monitor and told to report back with a plane ticket. (A lawyer has helped delay the deportation.)

Her car, in fact, was insured; the officer had called in the wrong license tag, according to a Cobb County Police Department spokesman, Sgt. Dana Pierce.

Sergeant Pierce said it made no difference, given Ms. Hernandez’s lack of a driver’s license. Generally, “there is no singling out of any race, creed, color, religion or anything else,” the sergeant said.

But by the time the mistake was discovered, it was too late. Ms. Hernandez was already being booked into the county jail.”

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Read Yee’s complete article at the link.

As has been noted before on this blog, the U.S. Immigration Courts in Georgia also have the reputation of being most anti-migrant in the country.

PWS

11-26-17

TPS: TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO END HAITIAN TPS IN JULY 2019!

Miriam Jordan reports for the NYT:

“The Trump administration is ending a humanitarian program that has allowed some 59,000 Haitians to live and work in the United States since an earthquake ravaged their country in 2010, officials said on Monday.
Haitians with what is known as temporary protected status will be expected to leave the United States by July 2019 or face deportation.
The decision, while not a complete surprise, set off immediate dismay among Haitian communities in South Florida, New York and beyond. Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is still struggling to rebuild from the earthquake and relies heavily on money its expatriates send to relatives back home.
The Haitian government had asked the Trump administration to extend the protected status.”

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On the bright side, Congress has 18 months to come up with a permanent solution.

PWS

11-20-17

“LET THE HAITIANS STAY” — IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO!

The NY Times Editorial Board writes:

“The Temporary Protected Status program provides the sort of assistance the United States should be proud to extend to foreigners fleeing civil unrest, violence or natural disasters. Enacted by Congress in 1990, it currently offers safe and legal harbor to 437,000 people from 10 countries. Many stay for a long time, their status regularly extended because of continued turmoil in their homelands.

That, alas, is a far cry from the spirit of the Trump administration. But even President Trump’s bombastic pledges to throw up a Mexican border wall, expel illegal immigrants and bar entry to Muslims are different from expelling people who, though they may have entered the United States illegally, have been allowed to stay legally, often for many years, with solid jobs and large families, while their homelands remain unsettled or dangerous.

On Thanksgiving, of all days, the Department of Homeland Security is to announce whether it will extend the temporary protected status that was granted to about 50,000 Haitians when their country was devastated by an earthquake in 2010. Their stay has been regularly extended, but in May, John Kelly, then secretary of homeland security and now the White House chief of staff, gave them only six more months, explicitly to get ready to go home. Unless their status is extended this week, they must leave by Jan. 22.

By any reasonable measure, Haiti is not ready to take them back. The destitute country has never fully recovered from the 2010 earthquake or the cholera epidemic that followed. Last year, Hurricane Matthew added even more suffering. The country does not have the resources to absorb 50,000 people, and the money they have sent back is a critical source of income for their relatives and homeland.

Every member of Congress who represents South Florida, where most of these Haitians live, is in favor of extending their status. One of them, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Miami, is among the congressional members of both parties who have proposed legislation that would allow these immigrants to eventually apply for permanent residency, which is not possible under current rules.”

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Read the full editorial at the link.

Haitians seem to have gotten the “short end” of US immigration, refugee, and humanitarian policies over the years.

Let’s take a look at the latest Country Report on Human Rights issued by the US State Department:

“The most serious impediments to human rights involved weak democratic governance in the country worsened by the lack of an elected and functioning government; insufficient respect for the rule of law, exacerbated by a deficient judicial system; and chronic widespread corruption. Other human rights problems included significant but isolated allegations of arbitrary and unlawful killings by government officials; allegations of use of force against suspects and protesters; severe overcrowding and poor sanitation in prisons; chronic prolonged pretrial detention; an inefficient, unreliable, and inconsistent judiciary; governmental confiscation of private property without due process. There was also rape, violence, and societal discrimination against women; child abuse; allegations of social marginalization of vulnerable populations; and trafficking in persons. Violence, including gender-based violence, and crime within the remaining internally displaced persons (IDP) camps remained a problem. Although the government took steps to prosecute or punish government and law enforcement officials accused of committing abuses, credible reports persisted of officials engaging in corrupt practices, and civil society groups alleged there was widespread impunity.”

Sound like a place where 50,000 additional refugees can be safely returned and reintegrated? Preposterous!

No, the only thing that has changed here is the political motivation of the Administration; TPS — some of the most successful, efficient, and cost effective migration programs the US has ever run — has become a target of the xenophobic, White Nationalist, restrictionist wing of the GOP.

Allowing 50,000 Haitians already residing here to remain costs the US nothing — in fact their continued presence is good for the US economy and our international image. Not to mention that many of the Haitian TPS holders have relatives with legal status in the US.

On the other hand, pulling TPS and removing these individuals could have catastrophic consequences for the individuals involved, their families, and their US communities. And, it’s likely to overwhelm Haiti, a country that has already proved unable to take care of its existing population.

Anywhere but the Trump Administration, extending TPS for Haitians and others while looking for a long-term solution that would give them some type of permanent status in the US would be a “no brainer.” But, in the Trump Administration immigration and refugee policies appear to be driven largely by a policy of “no brains” — just unnecessary cruelty, wasting resources, diminishing our international humanitarian standing, and playing to the xenophobia, racism, and hate of the White Nationalists.

PWS

11-20-17

O CANADA: TRUMP POLICIES AID CANADIAN LOBSTERMEN AT THE EXPENSE OF MAINE! — CANADA BRACES FOR INFLUX OF “TPSers” FLEEING US!

Ana Swanson reports in the NY Times:

“When Americans think about lobster, Maine often comes to mind. But Nova Scotia has emerged as a fierce competitor in exporting lobsters, particularly to Europe. Last year, American lobstermen sold only slightly more to Europe than their Canadian counterparts.
That balance could soon shift given the Canadian-European trade pact, which eliminated an 8 percent European tariff on live lobster when it went into effect in September. Tariffs on frozen and processed Canadian lobster will be phased out in the next three to five years as part of the agreement.
The elimination of European tariffs is “the single most challenging issue” for the American lobster industry, said Annie Tselikis, the executive director of the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association, which represents companies that buy lobster from Maine fishermen. “This trade agreement does give Canada a huge leg up in the European marketplace,” she said.
Ms. Tselikis said the pact was encouraging American companies to invest in new facilities in Canada to qualify for the lower European tariff.
“If the argument is you’re not going to develop this trade policy because you’re worried about outsourcing jobs — well, here we are, potentially outsourcing jobs due to an absence of trade policy,” she said.”

Read the complete article here:

Meanwhile, Alan Freeman reports in the Washington Post that the Trump Administration might be on the verge of  driving tens of thousands of American residents with useful job skills over our Northern Border:

“OTTAWA — In late October, starkly worded warning signs began appearing on the Canadian border with New York state and Vermont aimed at discouraging would-be asylum seekers fleeing the United States.

“Stop. It is illegal to cross the border here or any place other than a Port of Entry. You will be arrested and detained if you cross here.”

“Not everyone is eligible to make an asylum claim,” reads a second sign. “Claiming asylum is not a free ticket into Canada.”

As the Trump administration signals that it may soon remove the Temporary Protected Status designation from more than 300,000 Central Americans and Haitians, threatening them with deportation, Canadian officials are bracing for a new wave of asylum seekers flooding over the border.

Already this week, acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke announced she was lifting protected status for 2,500 Nicaraguans, effective January 2019. And while she extended the same protection for 57,000 Hondurans until July 2018, she warned that protection may end at that time.

A new sign posted by Canadian authorities at the border between Canada and the United States. (Canada Border Services Agency)
The U.S. government decided to protect both groups from deportation following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Mitch in 1999, and the measures were repeatedly renewed until this year. Duke said the original conditions justifying that protection “no longer exist.” Canada and its immigrant-friendly policies may be seen as a viable alternative for those reluctant to return to their countries of origin.

. . . .

Just last week, the government published a three-year plan aimed at accepting almost 1 million immigrants as permanent residents, with a clear bias toward economic migrants, who will make up 58 percent of the total. The balance will be shared between family and refugee classes.

 

Public reaction to the plan, which will see intake grow steadily from 300,000 in 2017 to 310,000 in 2018, 330,000 in 2019 and 340,000 in 2020, has been generally positive with many of the critics, including the government’s own council of economic advisers, saying Canada should be accepting even more immigrants.

Canada has an increasingly diverse population, with visible minorities making up 22.3 percent of the population in 2016, according to recently released census figures, compared with just 4.7 percent in 1981. By 2036, visible minorities are expected to make up 33 percent of the population.

“Canada is probably the best country in the world to be an immigrant because we give immigrants a chance to climb the ladder to success,” said Kareem El-Assal, senior research manager at the Conference Board of Canada, a think tank, where he specializes in immigration.

Assal said Canada’s immigration system works in part because the Canadian government helps newcomers integrate through language, skills and job training at a cost of almost a billion dollars a year. Furthermore, immigrants benefit from Canada’s universal health-care system and its good public education and reasonably priced universities.

Public opinion surveys continue to show that Canadians are pro-migration. A survey by the Environics Institute last spring showed that 72 percent of respondents agreed that “overall, migration has a positive impact on the economy.” Yet in the same survey, 54 percent said that “too many immigrants do not accept Canadian values.”

As for those border warning signs, Fortin, the union leader, says that asylum seekers are reading them and then crossing the border anyway.

“It doesn’t seem to have a very big dissuasive effect,” he said.”

Here’s a link to the complete article:https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/canada-fears-a-huge-rush-of-asylum-seekers-if-their-us-protected-status-is-lifted/2017/11/12/9464645c-c4b1-11e7-9922-4151f5ca6168_story.html

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Maine needs all the economic help it can get. And, I had lots of successful “TPSers” pass through my courtroom in Arlington. Good folks, industrious with useful job skills in the types of positions that we need but most Americans don’t want to do: child care, home health care, roofing, drywalling, cleaning, washing, making beds, waiting on tables, brewing coffee, making sandwiches, landscaping, pouring concrete, building things, meat processing, running convenience stores, etc. And, the vast majority had kids who were US citizens or in the DACA program. Our loss is likely to be Canada’s gain. The concept that there are lots of Native-born Americans out there (at a time of effectively full employment) waiting to take these jobs is a restrictionist fairy tale. But, if and when these folks leave, Americans who depend on them for essential services (like child care and Home improve,wants, for example, or restaurant and hotel owners) are going to find themselves out of luck.

So far, overall incompetence has saved us from the full adverse effects of Trump’s “Make America (Not So) Great” policies. But, if they ever do go into full effect, it will be bad for most Americans, including those gullible enough to have voted for Trump.

PWS

11-13-17

THE SHRINKING GENERAL: KELLY’S IGNORANT WHITE NATIONALISM SHOWS HIM TO BE “TRUMP’S MAN” WHILE FURTHER DIMINISHING HIS IMAGE AND LEGACY!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/01/opinion/kelly-racist-history-slavery-compromise.html

From the NY Times Editorial Board:

“When asked in an interview broadcast on Monday about plans by a Virginia church to remove plaques honoring George Washington and Robert E. Lee, he said it showed “a lack of appreciation of history.”

“Robert E. Lee was an honorable man,” he added. He said that in the Civil War “men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

With those remarks, Mr. Kelly revealed that it’s he, like the president, who lacks an appreciation of history — that he has chosen instead to embrace the mythology that white racists methodically created to hide the truth about the causes and course of the Civil War. The truth is, white Southerners went to war to destroy the United States in order to continue enslaving nearly 40 percent of the people in the region.

As for Lee’s honor, while some historians argue that he held a distaste for human bondage, he nevertheless fought ferociously to preserve slavery, which he viewed as the best arrangement that could possibly exist between whites and African-Americans. During the war, his army kidnapped free blacks, returning them to chains. After the war ended, he advised acquaintances to avoid hiring free blacks — arguing that it was against white interests to do so — and suggested that free black people be forced out of his native state, Virginia.

Mr. Kelly really gave the game away when he went on to argue that it was wrong for us to look back at the past through the lens of “what is today accepted as right and wrong.” As the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates has noted, you can only contend that most people believed that slavery was right at the time of the Civil War if you exclude black people from your analysis, not to mention from your moral imagination.

If Mr. Kelly is supposed to be the administration’s disciplinarian, keeping it on message, then echoing his boss’s kind words for slaveholders and those who slaughtered American soldiers to defend them shows that a central message is, “Racists, we’re your guys.”

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Read the entire editorial at the link.

The Civil War was about preservation of slavery — the ownership of and stripping of rights and dignity from other human beings who had contributed more to the United States than all of their owners combined. There is no moral or historical ambiguity here.

Robert E. Lee was a flawed individual — neither “honorable” nor “dishonorable.” He unquestionably had talents as a leader and a military strategist. Those were offset, however, by his having betrayed his country and spent years engineering the killing of U.S. soldiers in support of a rebellion fueled by what undoubtedly is the worst cause in American history. I’d argue that even the “Tories” during the American Revolution, who were simply remaining loyal to their sovereign king and country, were more “honorable.” Even more despicably, as far as I am aware, Lee neither apologized for his actions nor did he later condemn slavery and work for the advancement and equality of African Americans during his post-war life. His legacy can be viewed as “tragic,” but certainly not “honorable.”

Moreover, Kelly’s mis-statement of history dishonors the memories of individuals like Major General George H. Thomas, Admiral David Farragut, Commanding General Winfield S. Scott, and dozens of other “southerners” who chose to honor their oaths to defend and fight for the United States of America! They are truly the “honorable ones.” It also dishonors the many African Americans and other Americans of color who currently are serving in the U.S. Marines and other branches of our military.

Obviously those of us who saw “redeeming features” in General Kelly at the time of his original appointment as DHS Secretary (where he basically parroted the inhumane, divisive, and wasteful White Nationalist “Gonzo” immigration enforcement agenda of Jeff Sessions) misjudged him. By the time his tenure in the White House ends, he will have reduced himself in stature to the point where he can depart in Trump’s hip pocket and nobody will even notice he’s gone.

PWS

11-02-17

 

EDUARDO PORTER IN THE NYT: THE TRUMP-SESSIONS “GONZO ENFORCEMENT” POLICY OF BOOTING OUT UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS IS JUST PLAIN STUPID — In Addition To Being a Waste Of Money & Inhumane

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/24/business/economy/immigration-jobs.html

Porter writes:

“Few American industries are as invested in the decades-long political battle over immigration as agriculture. Paying low wages for backbreaking work, growers large and small have historically relied on immigrants from south of the Rio Grande. These days, over one-quarter of the farmhands in the United States are immigrants working here illegally.

This is how the growers will respond to President Trump’s threatened crackdown on immigration: They will lobby, asking Congress to provide some legal option to hang on to their foreign work force. They will switch to crops like tree nuts, which are less labor-intensive to produce than perishable fruits and vegetables. They will look for technology to mechanize the harvest of strawberries and other crops. And they will rent land in Mexico.

There is one thing they won’t do. Even if the Trump administration were to deploy the 10,000 immigration agents it plans to hire across the nation’s fields to detain and deport farmhands working illegally, farmers are very unlikely to raise wages and improve working conditions to attract American workers instead.

“Foreign workers will always be harvesting our crops,” Tom Nassif, who heads the Western Growers Association, told me. The only question for policymakers in Washington is whether “they want them to be harvesting in our economy or in another country.” If they choose the latter, he warned, they might consider that each farmworker sustains two to three jobs outside the fields.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

When policy is driven by ignorance, bias, and political pandering, rather than by facts, common sense, and economic reality, the results are always going to be ugly. So far, our country and our economy have been saved primarily by the overall incompetence of guys like Trump, Sessions, and their minions. But, it’s an expensive and divisive way to (not) “run the railroad.” We’re actually paying scarce taxpayer dollars for misguided policies that if actually successful would threaten our economic well-being and make our country a worse place to live.

PWS

10-24-17

THOMAS B. EDSALL IN THE NYT: DEMOCRACY SOWING THE SEEDS FOR ITS OWN (AND OUR) DESTRUCTION!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/19/opinion/democracy-populism-trump.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_up_20171023&nl=upshot&nl_art=5&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1

Edsall writes:

“Will President Trump’s assault on the norms underpinning constitutional democracy permanently alter American political life?

On a daily basis, Trump tests the willingness of the public to accept a president who lies as a matter of routine. So far, Trump has persuaded a large swath of America to swallow what he feeds them.

. . . .

As Sasha Polakow-Suransky, the author of “Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy,” warns in The New York Review of Books:

Liberal democracies are better equipped than authoritarian states to grapple with the inevitable conflicts that arise in diverse societies, including the threat of terrorist violence. But they also contain the seeds of their own destruction: if they fail to deal with these challenges and allow xenophobic populists to hijack the public debate, then the votes of frustrated and disaffected citizens will increasingly go to the anti-immigrant right, societies will become less open, nativist parties will grow more powerful, and racist rhetoric that promotes a narrow and exclusionary sense of national identity will be legitimized.

The threat to democracy posed by the current outbreak of populist nationalism has become a matter of concern for both scholars and ordinary citizens. The central topic at a conference at Yale earlier this month was “How Do Democracies Fall Apart,” and the subject will be taken up again in November at a Stanford conference called “Global Populisms: A Threat to Democracy?

I contacted several of the participants at the Yale gathering and was struck by their anxiety over the future prospects of democratic governance.

One of the most insightful was Adam Przeworski, a political scientist at N.Y.U., who has written, but not yet published, his own analysis of current events under the title “What’s Happening.”

First and foremost, Przeworski stresses,

there is nothing “undemocratic” about the electoral victory of Donald Trump or the rise of anti-establishment parties in Europe.

These parties and candidates, he points out:

Do not advocate replacing elections by some other way of selecting rulers. They are ugly — most people view racism and xenophobia as ugly — but these parties do campaign under the slogan of returning to ‘the people’ the power usurped by elites, which they see as strengthening democracy. In the words of a Trump advertisement, “Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American people.”

In support of Przeworski’s argument, it is clear that the success of the Trump campaign in winning the Republican nomination was the result of a classic democratic insurgency: the Republican electorate’s rejection of its party’s establishment.

The danger in the United States, in Przeworski’s view, is the possibility that the Trump administration will use the power of the presidency to undermine the procedures and institutions essential to the operation of democracy:

That the incumbent administration would intimidate hostile media and create a propaganda machine of its own, that it would politicize the security agencies, that it would harass political opponents, that it would use state power to reward sympathetic private firms, that it would selectively enforce laws, that it would provoke foreign conflicts to monger fear, that it would rig elections.

Przeworski believes that

such a scenario would not be unprecedented. The United States has a long history of waves of political repression: the “Red Scare” of 1917-20, the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II, the McCarthy period, the Nixon presidency.

Along similar lines, Anna Grzymala-Busse, a political scientist at Stanford, replied by email to my inquiry:

My big worry is not simply that formal institutions have been eroded, but that the informal norms that underpin them are even more important and even more fragile. Norms of transparency, conflict of interest, civil discourse, respect for the opposition and freedom of the press, and equal treatment of citizens are all consistently undermined, and without these the formal institutions become brittle.

Trump, in Grzymala-Busse’s assessment, “articulates a classic populist message that we see in Europe: the elite establishment is a collusive cartel uninterested in the problems of ‘the people,’” and, she continued, he has begun to follow the path of European populist leaders:

Much of Trump’s language and actions are also familiar: there is a standard authoritarian populist template, developed in Hungary and faithfully followed in Poland and in Turkey: first, go after the courts, then the media, then the civil society, churches, universities.

The attacks on the courts, media and universities

are not simply the ravings of a lunatic, but an established strategy for undermining democratic oversight and discrediting the opposition.

. . . .

Paul Waldman, writing in The Washington Post on Oct, 17, summed up Trump’s approach to veracity and to reality itself:

Trump takes his own particular combination of ignorance, bluster and malice, and sets it off like a nuclear bomb of misinformation. The fallout spreads throughout the country, and no volume of corrections and fact checks can stop it. It wasn’t even part of a thought-out strategy, just a loathsome impulse that found its way out of the president’s mouth to spread far and wide.

Trump’s recklessness is disturbing enough on its own. But what makes it especially threatening is that much of the public — well beyond the 40 percent of the electorate that has shown itself to be unshakable in its devotion to the president — seems to be slowly accommodating itself to its daily dose of the Trump reality show, accepting the rhetorical violence that Trump inflicts on basic standards of truth as the new normal.”

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Read Edsall’s full, much longer, article at the link.

An immigration policy based on xenophobia, racism, and White Nationalism, rather than on any rational, generally accepted socio-economic analysis, is at the heart of the Trump–Bannon-Sessions-Miller attack on America’s democratic institutions.  As I said earlier today, “The Trump Administration, and its ‘fellow travelers’ among GOP politicos and voters, is the biggest threat to our national security and the future of American Democracy.”

PWS

10-22-17

 

 

MIMI SWARTZ IN THE NY TIMES: Anti-Latino Racism Drives Texas To Pull Up The Welcome Mat For Some Of Its Most Productive Residents!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/20/opinion/texas-immigration-policy.html

Swartz writes:

“A decline in emergency room visits and calls to the police isn’t good news; people are just afraid to ask for help. A domestic abuser will threaten to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement if his spouse threatens to call the cops. A social worker at Las Americas, a public high school for immigrants in Houston, told me despair has set in. Instead of helping families cope with living in the nation’s fourth-largest city, she helps them plan for “when you are deported how can you stay alive the longest.” The students tell her: “Nobody wants me. I have no home.”

They are not wrong; the point of the federal and state legislation is to make Texas so uncomfortable for the undocumented that they move on. I suppose this makes sense if, say, you are constantly faced with competition from the far right, which every Republican, including Gov. Greg Abbott, is. Or if you have seen the growing Latino majority in Texas and know that it isn’t securely nestled in the Republican fold.

But it doesn’t make sense if you are looking at a state whose work force was shrinking even before the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. The people who came to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina aren’t feeling the love here. Why should they?

“There are 47 other states that would love to see Texans fall on their butts,” Stan Marek, who has been in construction for years here, told me. Unless we have fair and sane immigration reform, like the “ID and Tax” plan many business leaders here support because it offers fair wages and work-visa status, our immigrants will vote with their feet, and businesses will follow.

That’s the price for trading a welcome mat for an ankle bracelet.

Mimi Swartz, an executive editor at Texas Monthly, is a contributing opinion writer.”

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Get the full story at the link.

A microcosm of the bias-driven stupidity of the whole Trump-GOP Restrictionist “gonzo” immigration enforcement program. What would really be fitting is if the loss of immigrant population and the businesses that depend on them eventually cost Texas some of those extra Congressional seats that they swiped from the Northeast as a result of undocumented residents and then proceeded to gerrymander to “lock out” Latinos from getting their “fair share of the pie.” Not to mention that the anti-Latino bias in the Texas GOP is in derogation of Supreme Court precedent, which holds that even those state residents without legal status or otherwise ineligible to vote, are entitled to have their interests represented by their legislators (hence the rationale for allowing extra representatives for undocumented population). “Fat chance” in Texas!  The Texas GOP routinely ignores the interests its Latino U.S. citizens as well as its Latino non-citizen residents.

PWS

10-22-17

NYT: DAVID LEONHARDT CALLS OUT “BOBBY THE CORK!” — “Put Up Or Shut Up!” — And, While You’re At It, Bobby, How About Accepting Some Responsibility For The Trump Debacle?

https://www.nytimes.com/newsletters/2017/10/10/opinion-today?nlid=79213886

Leonhardt writes:

“All talk. A United States senator went on CNBC to explain that while Donald Trump may be an unorthodox politician, “there’s a lot of evolution that is taking place, and I think you’re already seeing that.”
To everyone who argued that Trump was unfit for the presidency, the senator had a ready answer: “My advice would be to chill for a while,” he said. “My sense is that a lot of people who have been resisting will become more comfortable.”
The senator was Bob Corker of Tennessee, and he was speaking on the show “Squawk Box” in May 2016. Today, of course, Corker has become Trump’s newest enemy, saying that the president is “on the path to World War III” and that the White House has become “an adult day care center.”
So what is Senator Corker’s responsibility now, given the crucial role that he and other eminent Republicans played in making Trump seem normal enough to win the presidency? James Fallows answers that question in The Atlantic. “Talk is better than nothing,” Fallows writes, “but action is what counts.”
As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker has the ability to hold hearings about the threat Trump poses to the country and the world, Fallows notes. Michelle Goldberg of The Times writes that Congress can also bar “the president from launching a nuclear first strike without a congressional declaration of war.”
I’ll add to that list: Corker and other senators can bring Trump’s legislative agenda to a complete halt until he begins acting more responsibly. No talk of a tax cut until he stops talking of nuclear war. Even the most ardent tax cutter should be willing to make that trade.
The reality that Corker has described — with an out-of-control president — is chilling. Trump, as Fallows puts it, is “irrational, ill-informed, impulsive, unfit for command, and increasingly a danger to the country and the world.”
It’s not enough to merely withhold support from Trump or to criticize him. Members of Congress have an unmatched ability to prevent damage by this president. Those members, like Corker, who ushered Trump into power by describing a man who doesn’t exist, bear a particular burden.”

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Neither acting on their criticisms of Trump nor accepting responsibility are in the GOP’s tool box. Nor has the GOP shown the slightest interest or ability to govern in a bipartisan manner for the national interest.

The modern GOP is a toxic and motley collection of rich guys, xenophobes, war-mongers, theologues, racists, White Nationalists, science deniers, anti-intellectuals, and anarchists each apparently vying to be more selfish and irresponsible than the next. Where was “Bobby the Cork” when Trump and the GOP were planning to destroy Americans’ health care and tank insurance markets to reward fat cats with undeserved and unneeded tax breaks? He was right there on the Trump-GOP-Turtle “Destroy America Because We Promised To Do It Bandwagon.” Talk is cheap — responsible action is something else.  I’ll believe it when I see it coming from “Bobby the Cork” and his GOP fellow travelers!

PWS

10-10-17

 

 

 

 

INSTEAD OF DOUBLING DOWN ON FAILED POLICIES, SESSIONS SHOULD TRY ANTI-GANG STRATEGIES THAT ACTUALLY WORK!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/28/opinion/sunday/trump-gangs-soccer-education.html

Lauren Markham writes in the NY Times:

“SundayReview | OPINION

The Wrong Way to Fight Gangs
By LAUREN MARKHAMSEPT. 28, 2017

Lester, who is among the recent Central American students at Oakland International High School who crossed into the US, during soccer practice for the Soccer Without Borders program. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times
Oakland, Calif. — Young migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador come to this country fleeing violence and lives that are often dictated by savage gangs. It’s expensive to get here. They often arrive with thousands of dollars of high-interest debt and little or no English skills. And they face an administration that insists that they are gangsters bringing bloodshed and gang warfare to American cities.

In fact, these young people are often fleeing gangs. And the challenges they face in the United States make them particularly vulnerable for recruitment into the same violent gangs they left home to escape.

“They have transformed peaceful parks and beautiful quiet neighborhoods into bloodstained killing fields,” President Trump said of the members of MS-13, a transnational gang composed largely of Central American youth; its activity has been growing in recent years, both in the United States and in Central America. A few weeks ago, Attorney General Jeff Sessions told law enforcement officers that these young, undocumented immigrants were “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

I work at Oakland International High School in Oakland, Calif. It is a public school with a population made up entirely of recently arrived immigrant students. Today, over 25 percent are unaccompanied minors — young people who crossed into the United States without papers or parents — who have been released from immigration custody and placed in deportation proceedings to await their day in court. Since we opened 10 years ago, our students’ gang involvement has markedly decreased. This is because we have gotten better at what we were meant to do, namely: provide programs that teach skills, offer support services that reduce barriers to coming to school, and foster a sense of community.

We offer what the gangs offer, but better.

I had one student who came to the United States as an unaccompanied minor from Honduras. His mother left him when he was little, and he never knew his father. He lived with his grandmother until she died. He was just 13. For two years he lived alone in her house, selling water bottles on the street on behalf of a neighboring family. Sometimes they invited him over for dinner; other times they didn’t.

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He told me that he saw this life in Honduras as a dead end. He crossed into Guatemala, rode on top of trains through Mexico, hiding what little money he had pressed against the inside of his cheek, and swam across the Rio Grande. He was apprehended at the border, placed into a youth detention center, and sent to live with his aunt in Oakland, pending his deportation hearing. He enrolled at Oakland International but, after a couple of weeks, his attendance waned. Soon he stopped coming altogether.

“I didn’t know anything,” he told me. Being in school felt impossible to him because he felt unable to succeed at it. He had an upcoming court case and no lawyer; that, he knew, would cost money he didn’t have.

One Saturday, I took the train into San Francisco to meet a friend. As I waited at the Bay Area Rapid Transit station outside the Civic Center, I watched as, in broad daylight, Latino teenagers sold drugs to the area’s vagrants. I knew this drug ring was connected to MS-13. There, on the other side of the plaza, was my student.

“These are animals,” President Trump said of MS-13 members. Most often, rather, they are like my student: young people, not unlike child soldiers, who enter a violent life by either force or force of circumstance. They do not come to the United States to participate in gang life; it winds up as the only option.

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Our school kept trying with this particular student. We conducted home visits in East Oakland, where he lived with his aunt, found him a therapist he could see at school, and encouraged him to join our school soccer team. He got a free lawyer. He quit selling at the Civic Center. He came back to school.

Newly arrived immigrants are a fast-growing demographic in American schools, and they will continue to be, regardless of the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Yet the Trump administration is pushing for cuts that will affect their ability to succeed in school, or even attend school at all.

The proposed 2018 education budget includes approximately $9 billion in cuts — 13.5 percent of the total. The cuts include an evisceration of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, a $1 billion earmark which provides funding for enrichment opportunities for students in high-poverty schools.

Nearly all of the support our school was able to offer my student, and so many like him, was a result of 21st Century funding. It pays for Soccer Without Borders, which serves more than half of our student population, and for an organization called Refugee Transitions, which offers tutoring and homework help. It pays for mental health interns to provide therapy to youth in six languages.

Quality public education is a fundamental, if aspirational, American value. But altruism aside, investing in newcomer education makes practical sense. It costs far more to lock someone up for a year than it does to educate him.

“We’re going to destroy the vile, criminal cartel MS-13,” President Trump announced to a group of law enforcement officers on Long Island, N.Y., in July. To focus on police intervention rather than education isn’t only shortsighted, it’s also been proven not to work. All we have to do is look at El Salvador, where a series of failed iron fist campaigns that combined police crackdowns with a lack of social alternatives served to increase violence.

We could also look at history. MS- 13 was born in the United States among disenfranchised, traumatized immigrant youth in the 1980s and, through deportation, was exported to El Salvador (then spread to Honduras and Guatemala) — where it now relies on vulnerable young recruits, teenage and even younger, to grow its ranks.

Central America’s endemic violence is not going away anytime soon, so, like it or not, these young people will keep coming, regardless of the walls we build or the immigration policies we enact. Excluded and disenfranchised young people seek inclusion elsewhere: on the margins, in the shadows, in society’s dark underbelly. Gangs provide that sense of belonging, along with a feeling of success and upward mobility, for those who are not offered the same in mainstream society.

Last Tuesday afternoon, on a warm fall day in Oakland, more than 60 young men from more than a dozen countries played soccer together out on our misshapen soccer pitch. An additional 50 or so students sat in the cafeteria, working with teachers and volunteers to practice their English and finish their homework. A group of parents met in a classroom to help plan the year’s activities. It was just a typical day at the school — a day full of activities that depend on money that could disappear. If 21st Century funds go away, these programs vanish. Which means the students will find somewhere else to take them in.

MS-13, as it happens, welcomes young people with open arms.”

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

Pretty much what I’ve been saying all along. There ways of getting the job done. We really need to use them!

PWS

09-28-17

NYT: ADMINISTRATION PLANS TO FILL PRISONS WITH PARENTS WHOSE CHILDREN ARE SMUGGLED INTO THE UNITED STATES!

Caitlin Dickerson and Ron Nixon report for the NYT:

“WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is stepping up its pursuit of parents who paid to have their children illegally brought into the United States, according to people familiar with the matter. The effort, part of a widening crackdown on illegal immigration, is aimed at discouraging families from paying human smuggling organizations.
As part of a new round of immigration sweeps, officials are targeting parents or other relatives who were deported, re-entered the United States and then had their children smuggled across the border. Legal experts say cases of illegal re-entry are faster and easier to prove than a smuggling charge.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said it was common for parents or family members in the United States to make illegal payments to smugglers to arrange for children to be brought to the border, where they turn themselves in and are often eventually handed over to their relatives. Tens of thousands of women and children have arrived at the border in the last three years, beginning with a surge of arrivals in the summer of 2014, many seeking refuge from gang violence and extreme poverty in Central America.
It was not clear how many people would be affected by the effort to arrest and prosecute family members for illegal re-entry, but officials familiar with the plan said it would serve as a deterrent to stop other parents and relatives from paying to have children brought to the United States as unaccompanied minors. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss enforcement policies publicly.
ICE officials said they had arrested hundreds of people for smuggling children and referred dozens of cases to the Justice Department for prosecution, including many for illegally re-entering the country and then paying to have children smuggled across the border.
“The risks associated with smuggling children into the U.S. present a constant humanitarian threat,” ICE officials said in a statement. “The sponsors who have placed children directly into harm’s way by entrusting them to violent criminal organizations will be held accountable for their role in these conspiracies.”
Some children reported being raped or held hostage by smugglers for more money. Others have been abandoned by smugglers as they try to cross the border.
Immigration advocates called the new enforcement policy a heartless way to try to reduce smuggling.
“It’s extremely cruel when you started shutting down refugee applicants and rescinding protections for children brought to the country at a young age, to send this kind of message to parents trying to get their kids to safety,” said Chris Rickerd, policy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington.
Smuggling cases are among the most challenging to prove, and the biggest hurdle is identifying witnesses, who are likely to be undocumented and unwilling to help, according to Michael J. Wynne, who spent 12 years as an assistant United States attorney in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. Targeting parents for re-entering the country illegally, rather than trying to go after them for smuggling, presents prosecutors with a higher likelihood of success.
“It’s a throwdown case,” he said. “You’re going to prosecute the crime where you get the biggest bang for your buck.”
Officials in ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations division have been told to look for cases that can be brought to United States attorneys for possible prosecution, according to people familiar with the enforcement effort. Because prosecutions for illegal re-entry carry a five-year statute of limitations, ICE special agents are also looking to see if they can prosecute relatives of unaccompanied children for other immigration-related crimes, such as giving false statements, according to people familiar with the effort.
Convictions for illegal re-entry are politically popular among immigration restrictionists.
According to Justice Department data analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a nonprofit research group at Syracuse University, illegal re-entry made up the bulk of prosecutions for illegal immigration for the last five years.
The Trump administration has made no secret of its plans to go after parents living in the country illegally who bring in their children.
Earlier this year, administration officials said that the thousands of children who arrived each year as unaccompanied minors would no longer be protected against deportation, reversing an Obama administration policy. John F. Kelly, then the Homeland Security secretary and now the White House chief of staff, wrote a memo in February saying parents would be subject to criminal prosecution if they had paid human traffickers to bring children across the border.
The children, who turn themselves in to the Border Patrol, are handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. The office will either place the children in a shelter or release them to a family member. Immigration officials said most of the unaccompanied children apprehended at the border were eventually turned over to a family member, most often a parent, already living in the United States.
Homeland Security officials acknowledge that many of the children are fleeing violence in their home country, but they say that paying smugglers to transport them to the border endangers the children.”

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Read the full article at the link.

Seems like a pretty typical Trump Administration approach: please the White Nationalist/restrictionist base, fill the prisons with nonviolent “criminals,” rack up some nice stats, and make sure not to deal with the root causes of undocumented migration.

PWS

09-26-17