JRUBE @ WASHPOST: THE GOP IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONISTS BIG LIE – The Bogus Claim That We Need To Cut Legal Immigration!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2018/01/17/the-biggest-anti-immigration-lie-of-them-all/?utm_term=.cb881e4c51ec

Rubin writes in “Right Turn” at the Post:

“Anti-immigration activists, whether deliberately or inadvertently, use a great deal of misinformation (on wages, competition against native-born workers, etc.) and shoddy economic analysis (e.g., the “lump of labor fallacy“) while ignoring well-established data on immigrants’ homeownership, participation in the workforce, entrepreneurialism, contribution to growth, etc. Welcome to the Fox News/Trumpian world, where facts are no longer facts.

There is one giant untruth that outweighs all others — and it is easily debunked. Will Wilkinson of the libertarian-leaning Niskanen Center writes:

Between 2000 and 2015, 109 countries saw their immigrant population grow at a faster rate than that of the United States. Among countries with any net international in-migration, the U.S. is resolutely on the closed side of the continuum. … It is very easy to say is that the U.S. status quo is much closer to “completely closed” than “completely open” under even the most modest estimates of movement under the “completely open” counterfactual. If we move out of the [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] into the broader world, the current world champ in immigrant population is Qatar, which makes extensive use of guest workers, with about 22 migrants per 1000 people. If we use Qatar as the open end of the closed-to-open continuum, the United States’ 4 migrants per 1000 people is in comparison very, very close to “completely closed.” …

Nevertheless, the immigration restrictionists who warn of swamping under open borders tend to be the same people who characterize the status quo as an “open borders” system. It’s obvious why they traffic in this sort of rank dishonesty. They want to further harden our already very hardened borders, and this is easier to justify if you can systematically mislead people about the fact that the American immigration system is relatively closed even when compared to other wealthy liberal democracies.

In other words, by scaring Americans that our borders are “open” (or that immigration reformers want “open borders”), opponents of immigration are pulling the wool over the eyes of the public and policymakers, just as they do when falsely accusing illegal immigrants of causing a crime wave.

This demographic reality underscores another fact that anti-immigration advocates would prefer to ignore: One big reason immigrants aren’t “taking jobs from Americans” is that Americans are aging and leaving the workforce without enough workers to backfill those positions. The gap is made up in part by automation and in part by immigrants, who tend to be younger, with many years in the workforce ahead of them.
Perhaps it is foolhardy to argue facts with anti-immigration advocates. If  Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) dissembled about the president’s racist rhetoric, they aren’t likely to be any more honest when it comes to facts that undercut their economically catastrophic plan to slash legal immigration in half. Nevertheless, we surely hope that other lawmakers and the public refuse to be bamboozled by outright false claims.”
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Yeah, as Rubin points out, it’s by no means the only bogus information or shoddy, result-oriented “research” that the White Nationalist restrictionists use to support their racially motivated program.
We’ve already seen how as illegal immigration levels off and ceases to become anything other than a “made up” problem for America (the vast bulk of  so-called “undocumented” migrants are gainfully employed, useful, law-abiding members of the American community, many with U.S. citizen children and spouses, whose legalization would be both an economic and social benefit to the U.S.), the restrictionists have set their sights on our already unrealistically limited and far too overly bureaucratic legal immigration system.
Don’t be fooled! The restrictionists are out to destroy America’s future for their outdated vision of a racially, ethnically, and religiously homogenous and “pure” nation (one that, in truth, has never existed except in their imaginations and fantasies). Don’t let them get away with it!
PWS
01-19-18

 

TRUMP GOP INTENTIONALLY TORTURES DREAMERS – MESSING WITH AMERICA’S FUTURE FOR NO GOOD REASON!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/01/why-the-trump-administrations-daca-policy-is-indefensible.html

Eric Levitz writes for NY Maggie:

“There are a lot more undocumented immigrants in the United States than our government can possibly deport (without increasing the size and scope of immigration enforcement beyond even the Trump administration’s wildest dreams). At present, U.S. immigration courts are so severely backlogged, deportations actually went down during Trump’s first year in office, even as the number of immigration arrests dramatically increased.

This context requires the White House to set priorities for enforcing immigration law. Until Congress increases the relevant resources, the Executive branch cannot significantly increase deportations with its policy changes — it can only change the composition of the deportee population. The Obama administration decided that it made little sense to use the government’s limited resources on expelling Dreamers (law-abiding, gainfully-employed undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children). And on Tuesday, Trump’s Department of Homeland Security reached the same conclusion.

“It’s not going to be a priority of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prioritize their removal. I’ve said that before. That’s not the policy of DHS,” DHS head Kirstjen Nielsen told CBS This Morning. “If you are a DACA that’s compliant with your registration, meaning you haven’t committed a crime, you, in fact, are registered, you’re not priority of enforcement for ICE should the program end.”

This statement is not surprising. It would be bizarre if Homeland Security did prioritize deporting a category of immigrants that is, by definition, compliant with all (non-immigration) laws, and making productive contributions to society. And the significance of Nielson’s remarks are unclear. There is a big difference between deprioritizing Dreamers, and instructing immigration enforcement agents to leave them alone. Many Dreamers shared their personal information and immigration status with the government when applying for protection from deportation under the Obama administration. If ICE isn’t explicitly prohibited from using that data to make quick-and-easy arrests of undocumented individuals, some agents could take that initiative.

Regardless, Nielsen’s statement betrays the fundamental incoherence of the Trump administration’s policy on Dreamers. Like its predecessor, the Trump White House (officially) believes that Dreamers should not be prioritized for deportation; unlike the Obama administration, it does not believe that the Executive branch should make it easier for Dreamers to contribute to the legitimate economy while they’re here.

Trump has never actually made a policy argument for this position. When the administration ended Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — which had provided Dreamers with formal protection from deportation and renewable work permits — it claimed to do so on legal grounds: Whatever the merits of the policy, it was simply unconstitutional for the Executive branch to implement such a program without congressional approval.

The problem with that argument, as a federal judge recently noticed, is that “deferred action has been blessed by both the the Supreme Court and Congress as a means to exercise enforcement discretion” and embraced by presidents of both parties for decades. Further, the specific features of DACA, such as work permits, are explicitly allowedunder current law. (Notably, in other contexts, the Trump administration has shown little reluctance to assert the Executive branch’s immense discretion over immigration policy.)

The Trump administration says it does not want to deport Dreamers. A large body of law — and now, a federal court ruling — says that it has the power to unilaterally give Dreamers formal protection from deportation. And yet, Trump refuses to exercise that authority. Thus, his ostensible position is that Dreamers should be allowed to stay in the U.S. — but should be kept in a perpetual state of anxiety, and prevented from securing legal employment — until Congress agrees to pass a long-list of controversial reforms to the immigration system.

In this light, Trump’s DACA policy is not (as Jeff Sessions once suggested) an act of deference to the limits of executive authority. Rather, it is a gross abuse of that discretion: The administration revoked the legal status of 700,000 people, not because it thinks this is defensible as a policy, but solely as a means of coercing Congress into passing legislation that it otherwise would not.”

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The Trumpsters are holding the Dreamers “hostage” for a White Nationalist, restrictionist, racist immigration agenda that would be bad for American in every imaginable way.

Levitz also “gets” two things that others sometimes miss: 1) that Trump is actually “over a barrel” because he can’t really remove the Dreamers — just drive them underground and make their lives miserable and less productive (and deprive us of tax revenues) by taking away their work authorization; and 2) the legal underpinnings for DACA are much stronger than Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions would ever admit.

The GOP White Nationalists have created a fake “immigration crisis” that any other Administration with an ounce of human decency, good lawyering, and common sense could and would have avoided. And, all of this is a colossal waste of taxpayer money! “Throw the bums out” at the ballot box!

PWS

01-17-18

MLK DAY 2018 — DR. KING’S DREAM OF AN AMERICA CELEBRATING EQUALITY & RACIAL HARMONY IS UNDER VICIOUS ATTACK BY TRUMP, PENCE, SESSIONS, AND A HOST OF OTHERS IN TODAY’S WHITE NATIONALIST ENABLING GOP — Who Is Going To Fight To Reclaim The Dream, & Who Is Going To “Go Along To Get Along” With The 21st Century Version Of Jim Crow?

Folks, as we take a few minutes today to remember Dr. King, his vision for a better America, and his inspiring “I Have A Dream Speech,” we have to face the fact that everything Dr. King stood for is under a vicious and concerted attack, the likes of which we haven’t seen in America for approximately 50 years, by individuals elected to govern by a minority of voters in our country.

So, today, I’m offering you a “potpourri”  of how and why Dr.King’s Dream has “gone south,” so to speak, and how those of us who care about social justice and due process in America can nevertheless resurrect it and move forward together for a greater and more tolerant American that celebrates the talents, contributions, and humanity of all who live here!.

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From the LA Times Editorial Board:

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_popover_share.aspx?guid=186bb118-702e-49a2-a52d-b8dac8aa0cc8

“50 years on, what would King think?

On Martin Luther King’s birthday, a look back at some disquieting events in race relations in 2017.

Nearly 50 years ago, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. went to the mountaintop and looked out over the promised land. In a powerful and prophetic speech on April 3, 1968, he told a crowd at the Mason Temple in Memphis that while there would certainly be difficult days ahead, he had no doubt that the struggle for racial justice would be successful.

“I may not get there with you,” he said. “But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And so I am happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything.”

The following day, he was assassinated.

The intervening years have been full of steps forward and steps backward, of extraordinary changes as well as awful reminders of what has not changed. What would King have made of our first black president? What would he have thought had he seen neo-Nazis marching through the streets of Charlottesville, Va., so many years after his death? How would he have viewed the shooting by police of unarmed black men in cities around the country — or the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement? He would surely have heard the assertions that we have become a “post-racial” society because we elected (and reelected) Barack Obama. But would he have believed it?

This past year was not terribly heartening on the civil rights front. It was appalling enough that racist white nationalists marched in Charlottesville in August. But it was even more shocking that President Trump seemed incapable of making the most basic moral judgment about that march; instead, he said that there were some “very fine people” at the rally of neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Racial injustices that bedeviled the country in King’s day — voter suppression, segregated schools, hate crimes — have not gone away. A report released last week by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on inequities in the funding of public schools concludes — and this should surprise no one — that students of color living in poor, segregated neighborhoods are often relegated to low-quality schools simply due to where they live. States continued in 2017 to pass laws that make it harder, rather than easier, for people of color to vote.

The Trump administration also seems determined to undo two decades of Justice Department civil rights work, cutting back on investigations into the excessive use of force and racial bias by police departments. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions in March ordered a review of all existing federal consent decrees with local police departments with the possibility of dismantling them — a move that could set back police reform by many years.

Here in Los Angeles County, this statistic is telling: 40% of the estimated 57,000 homeless people — the most desperate and destitute residents of the county — are black. Yet black residents make up only 9% of the L.A. County population.

But despite bad news on several fronts, what have been heartening over the last year are the objections raised by so many people across the country.

Consider the statues of Confederate generals and slave owners that were brought down across the country. Schools and other institutions rebranded buildings that were formerly named after racists.

The Black Lives Matter movement has grown from a small street and cyber-protest group into a more potent civil rights organization focusing on changing institutions that have traditionally marginalized black people.

When football quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest, as he said, a country that oppresses black people, he was denounced by many (including Trump) but emulated by others. Kaepernick has been effectively banished from professional football but he started a movement.

Roy Moore was defeated for a Senate seat in Alabama by a surge of black voters, particularly black women. (But no sooner did he lose than Joe Arpaio — the disgraced, vehemently anti-immigrant former Arizona sheriff — announced that he is running for Senate there.)

So on what would have been King’s 89th birthday, it is clear that the United States is not yet the promised land he envisioned in the last great speech of his life. But we agree with him that it’s still possible to get there.”

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See this short HuffPost video on “Why MLK’s Message Still Matters Today!”

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/martin-luther-king-jr-assassination-legacy_us_58e3ea89e4b03a26a366dd77

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Read about how the Arizona GOP has resurrected, and in some instances actually welcomed, “Racist Joe” Arpaio, an unapologetic anti-Hispanic bigot and convicted scofflaw. “Racist Joe” was pardoned by Trump and is now running for the GOP nomination to replace retiring Arizona GOP Senator Jeff Flake, who often has been a critic of Trump. One thing “Racist Joe’s” candidacy is doing is energizing the Latino community that successfully fought to remove him from the office of Sheriff and to have him brought to justice for his racist policies. 

Kurtis Lee reports for the LA Times:

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-pol-arpaio-latino-voters-20180114-story.html

“Yenni Sanchez had thought her work was finished.

Spared from the threat of deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, she campaigned to oust Joe Arpaio when he unsuccessfully ran for reelection as Maricopa County sheriff in 2016. She knocked on hundreds of doors in south Phoenix’s predominantly Latino neighborhoods to register voters. She made phone calls, walked on college campuses. Her message was direct, like the name of the group she worked with, Bazta Arpaio, a take on the Spanish word basta — enough Arpaio.

But now, the 85-year-old former sheriff is back and running for Senate. Sanchez, who had planned to step away from politics to focus on her studies at Grand Canyon University, is back as well, organizing once more.

“If he thinks he can come back and terrorize the entire state like he did Maricopa County, it’s not going to happen,” Sanchez, 20, said. “I’m not going to let it happen.”

Arpaio enters a crowded Republican primary and may not emerge as the party’s nominee, but his bid has already galvanized Arizona’s Latino electorate — one of the country’s largest and fastest-growing voter blocs.

Organizers like Sanchez, who thought they might sit out the midterm elections, rushed back into offices and started making calls. Social media groups that had gone dormant have resurrected with posts reminding voters that Arpaio was criminally convicted of violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos.

“We’ve been hearing, ‘Is it true Arpaio is back? OK, what can we do to help?’” said Montserrat Arredondo, director of One Arizona, a Phoenix nonprofit group focused on increasing Latino voter turnout. “People were living in terror when Arpaio was in office. They haven’t forgotten.”

In 2008, 796,000 Latinos were eligible to vote in the state, according to One Arizona. By 2016, that potential voting pool jumped to 1.1 million. (California tops the nation with the most Latinos eligible to vote, almost 6.9 million.)

In 2016, Latinos accounted for almost 20% of all registered voters in Arizona. Latinos make up about 30% of Arizona’s population.

. . . .

Last year, President Trump pardoned Arpaio of a criminal conviction for violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos. When announcing his candidacy Tuesday, Arpaio pledged his full support to the president and his policies.

On Saturday, Arpaio made his first public appearance since announcing his candidacy, attending a gathering of Maricopa County Republicans. He was unmoved when asked about the enthusiasm his candidacy has created among Latinos.

“Many of them hate me for enforcing the law,” he said. “I can’t change that. … All I know is that I have my supporters, they’re going to support who they want. I’m in this to win it though.”

Arpaio, gripping about a dozen red cardboard signs that read “We need Sheriff Joe Arpaio in DC,” walked through the crowd where he mingled with, among others, former state Sen. Kelli Ward and U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, who also are seeking the GOP Senate nomination. Overall, Arpaio was widely met with enthusiasm from attendees.

“So glad you’re back,” said a man wearing a “Vietnam Veteran” hat.

“It’s great to be back,” Arpaio replied.

Arpaio, who handed out business cards touting his once self-proclaimed status as “America’s toughest sheriff,” said he had no regrets from his more than two decades in office.

“Not a single one,” he said. “I spoke my mind and did what needed to be done and would do it the same in a minute.”

In an interview, Arpaio, who still insists he has “evidence” that former President Obama’s birth certificate is forged, a rumor repeatedly shown to be false, did not lay out specific policy platforms, only insisting he’ll get things done in Washington.

During his tenure as sheriff, repeated court rulings against his office for civil rights violations cost local taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.”

Read the complete story at the link.

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Professor George Yancy of Emory University writing in the NY Times asks “Will America Choose King’s Dream Or Trump’s Nightmare?”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/15/opinion/martin-luther-king-trump-racism.html

Yancy writes:

“Let’s come clean: President Trump is a white racist! Over the past few days, many have written, spoken and shouted this fact, but it needs repeating: President Trump is a white racist! Why repeat it? Because many have been under the grand illusion that America is a “post-racial” nation, a beautiful melting pot where racism is only sporadic, infrequent and expressed by those on the margins of an otherwise mainstream and “decent” America. That’s a lie; a blatant one at that. We must face a very horrible truth. And America is so cowardly when it comes to facing awful truths about itself.

So, as we celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, we must face the fact that we are at a moral crossroad. Will America courageously live out Dr. King’s dream or will it go down the road of bigotry and racist vitriol, preferring to live out Mr. Trump’s nightmare instead? In his autobiography, reflecting on the nonviolent uprising of the people of India, Dr. King wrote, “The way of acquiesce leads to moral and spiritual suicide.” Those of us who defiantly desire to live, and to live out Dr. King’s dream, to make it a reality, must not acquiesce now, precisely when his direst prophetic warning faces us head on.

On the night before he was murdered by a white man on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., Dr. King wrote: “America is going to hell if we don’t use her vast resources to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life.” Our current president, full of hatred and contempt for those children, is the terrifying embodiment of this prophecy.

We desperately need each other at this moment of moral crisis and malicious racist divisiveness. Will we raise our collective voices against Mr. Trump’s white racism and those who make excuses for it or submit and thereby self-destructively kill any chance of fully becoming our better selves? Dr. King also warned us that “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.” To honor Dr. King, we must not remain silent, we must not betray his legacy.

So many Americans suffer from the obsessive need to claim “innocence,” that is, to lie to ourselves. Yet such a lie is part of our moral undoing. While many will deny, continue to lie and claim our national “innocence,” I come bearing deeply troubling, but not surprising, news: White racism is now comfortably located within the Oval Office, right there at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, embodied in our 45th president, one who is, and I think many would agree, must agree, without any hesitation, a white racist. There are many who will resist this characterization, but Mr. Trump has desecrated the symbolic aspirations of America, exhumed forms of white supremacist discourse that so many would assume is spewed only by Ku Klux Klan.”

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

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From lead columnist David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick at the NY Times we get “Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List.”

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/01/15/opinion/leonhardt-trump-racist.html

Donald Trump has been obsessed with race for the entire time he has been a public figure. He had a history of making racist comments as a New York real-estate developer in the 1970s and ‘80s. More recently, his political rise was built on promulgating the lie that the nation’s first black president was born in Kenya. He then launched his campaign with a speech describing Mexicans as rapists.

The media often falls back on euphemisms when describing Trump’s comments about race: racially loaded, racially charged, racially tinged, racially sensitive. And Trump himself has claimed that he is “the least racist person.” But here’s the truth: Donald Trump is a racist. He talks about and treats people differently based on their race. He has done so for years, and he is still doing so.

Here, we have attempted to compile a definitive list of his racist comments – or at least the publicly known ones.

The New York Years

Trump’s real-estate company tried to avoid renting apartments to African-Americans in the 1970s and gave preferential treatment to whites, according to the federal government.

Trump treated black employees at his casinos differently from whites, according to multiple sources. A former hotel executive said Trump criticized a black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks.”

In 1989, Trump took out ads in New York newspapers urging the death penalty for five black and Latino teenagers accused of raping a white woman in Central Park; he argued they were guilty as late as October 2016, more than 10 years after DNA evidence had exonerated them.

In 1989, on NBC, Trump said: “I think sometimes a black may think they don’t have an advantage or this and that. I’ve said on one occasion, even about myself, if I were starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I really believe they do have an actual advantage.”

An Obsession With
Dark-Skinned Immigrants

He began his 2016 presidential campaign with a speech disparaging Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists.”

He uses the gang MS-13 to disparage all immigrants. Among many other statements, he has suggested that Obama’s protection of the Dreamers — otherwise law-abiding immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children — contributed to the spread of MS-13.

In December 2015, Trump called for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” including refusing to readmit Muslim-American citizens who were outside of the country at the time.

Trump said a federal judge hearing a case about Trump University was biased because of the judge’s Mexican heritage.

In June 2017, Trump said 15,000 recent immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS” and that 40,000 Nigerians, once seeing the United States, would never “go back to their huts” in Africa.

At the White House on Jan. 11, Trump vulgarly called forless immigration from Haiti and Africa and more from Norway.”

The disgusting list goes on and on. Go to the link to get it all!

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Also at the NY Times, Charles M. Blow states what by now should have become obvious to the rest of us: “Trump Is A Racist. Period.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/14/opinion/trump-racist-shithole.html

Blow writes:

“I find nothing more useless than debating the existence of racism, particularly when you are surrounded by evidence of its existence. It feels to me like a way to keep you fighting against the water until you drown.

The debates themselves, I believe, render a simple concept impossibly complex, making the very meaning of “racism” frustratingly murky.

So, let’s strip that away here. Let’s be honest and forthright.

Racism is simply the belief that race is an inherent and determining factor in a person’s or a people’s character and capabilities, rendering some inferior and others superior. These beliefs are racial prejudices.

The history of America is one in which white people used racism and white supremacy to develop a racial caste system that advantaged them and disadvantaged others.

Understanding this, it is not a stretch to understand that Donald Trump’s words and deeds over the course of his life have demonstrated a pattern of expressing racial prejudices that demean people who are black and brown and that play to the racial hostilities of other white people.

It is not a stretch to say that Trump is racist. It’s not a stretch to say that he is a white supremacist. It’s not a stretch to say that Trump is a bigot.

Those are just facts, supported by the proof of the words that keep coming directly from him. And, when he is called out for his racism, his response is never to ameliorate his rhetoric, but to double down on it.

I know of no point during his entire life where he has apologized for, repented of, or sought absolution for any of his racist actions or comments.

Instead, he either denies, deflects or amps up the attack.

Trump is a racist. We can put that baby to bed.

“Racism” and “racist” are simply words that have definitions, and Trump comfortably and unambiguously meets those definitions.

We have unfortunately moved away from the simple definition of racism, to the point where the only people to whom the appellation can be safely applied are the vocal, violent racial archetypes.

Racism doesn’t require hatred, constant expression, or even conscious awareness. We want racism to be fringe rather than foundational. But, wishing isn’t an effective method of eradication.

We have to face this thing, stare it down and fight it back.

The simple acknowledgment that Trump is a racist is the easy part. The harder, more substantive part is this: What are we going to do about it?

First and foremost, although Trump is not the first president to be a racist, we must make him the last. If by some miracle he should serve out his first term, he mustn’t be allowed a second. Voters of good conscience must swarm the polls in 2020.

But before that, those voters must do so later this year, to rid the House and the Senate of as many of Trump’s defenders, apologists and accomplices as possible. Should the time come where impeachment is inevitable, there must be enough votes in the House and Senate to ensure it.

We have to stop thinking that we can somehow separate what racists believe from how they will behave. We must stop believing that any of Trump’s actions are clear of the venom coursing through his convictions. Everything he does is an articulation of who he is and what he believes. Therefore, all policies he supports, positions he takes and appointments he makes are suspect.

And finally, we have to stop giving a pass to the people — whether elected official or average voter — who support and defend his racism. If you defend racism you are part of the racism. It doesn’t matter how much you say that you’re an egalitarian, how much you say that you are race blind, how much you say that you are only interested in people’s policies and not their racist polemics.

As the brilliant James Baldwin once put it: “I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.” When I see that in poll after poll a portion of Trump’s base continues to support his behavior, including on race, I can only conclude that there is no real daylight between Trump and his base. They are part of his racism.

When I see the extraordinary hypocrisy of elected officials who either remain silent in the wake of Trump’s continued racist outbursts or who obliquely condemn him, only to in short order return to defending and praising him and supporting his agenda, I see that there is no real daylight between Trump and them either. They too are part of his racism.

When you see it this way, you understand the enormity and the profundity of what we are facing. There were enough Americans who were willing to accept Trump’s racism to elect him. There are enough people in Washington willing to accept Trump’s racism to defend him. Not only is Trump racist, the entire architecture of his support is suffused with that racism. Racism is a fundamental component of the Trump presidency.

 

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Back over at the Washington Post, op-ed writer E.J. Dionne, Jr., tells us the depressing news that “We could be a much better country. Trump makes it impossible.” 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/we-could-be-a-much-better-country-trump-makes-it-impossible/2018/01/14/84bff6dc-f7d4-11e7-b34a-b85626af34ef_story.html?utm_term=.c2151ab89a3c

Dionne concludes his piece with the following observations about our current “Dreamer” debate:

“Our current debate is frustrating, and not only because Trump doesn’t understand what “mutual toleration” and “forbearance” even mean. By persistently making himself, his personality, his needs, his prejudices and his stability the central topics of our political conversation, Trump is blocking the public conversation we ought to be having about how to move forward.

And while Trump’s enablers in the Republican Party will do all they can to avoid the issue, there should now be no doubt (even if this was clear long ago) that we have a blatant racist as our president. His reference to immigrants from “sh–hole countries” and his expressed preference for Norwegians over Haitians, Salvadorans and new arrivals from Africa make this abundantly clear. Racist leaders do not help us reach mutual toleration. His semi-denial 15 hours after his comment was first reported lacked credibility, especially because he called around first to see how his original words would play with his base.

But notice also what Trump’s outburst did to our capacity to govern ourselves and make progress. Democrats and Republicans sympathetic to the plight of the “dreamers” worked out an immigration compromise designed carefully to give Trump what he had said he needed.

There were many concessions by Democrats on border security, “chain migration” based on family reunification, and the diversity visa lottery that Trump had criticized. GOP senators such as Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) bargained in good faith and were given ample reason by Trump to think they had hit his sweet spot.

Trump blew them away with a torrent of bigotry. In the process, he shifted the onus for avoiding a government shutdown squarely on his own shoulders and those of Republican leaders who were shamefully slow in condemning the president’s racism.

There are so many issues both more important and more interesting than the psyche of a deeply damaged man. We are capable of being a far better nation. But we need leaders who call us to our obligations to each other as free citizens. Instead, we have a president who knows only how to foster division and hatred.”

Read the rest of the op-ed at the link.

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Our “Liar-in-Chief:” This short video from CNN, featuring the Washington Post’s “Chief Fact Checker” Glenn Kessler deals with the amazing 2000+ false or misleading claims that Trump has made even before the first anniversary of his Presidency: “Trump averages 5-6 false claims a day.”

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2018/01/15/president-trump-false-claims-first-year-washington-post.cnn

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Also on video, even immigration restrictionists sometimes wax eloquent about the exceptional generosity of U.S. immigration and refugee laws (even as they engage in an unending battle to undermine that claimed generosity). But, the reality, as set forth in this short HuffPost video is that on a regular basis our Government knowingly and intentionally returns individuals, mostly Hispanics, to countries where they are likely to be harmed or killed because we are unable to fit them within often hyper-technical and overly restrictive readings of various protection laws or because we are unwilling to exercise humanitarian discretion to save them..

I know first-hand because in my former position as a U.S. Immigration Judge, I sometimes had to tell individuals (and their families) in person that I had to order them returned to a country where I had concluded that they would likely be severely harmed or killed because I could not fit them into any of the categories of protection available under U.S. law. I daresay that very few of the restrictionists who glory in the idea of even harsher and more restrictive immigration laws have had this experience. 

And clearly, Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, Steven Miller, Bob Goodlatte and others in the GOP would like to increase the number of humans we return to harm or death by stripping defenseless juveniles and other vulnerable asylum seekers of some of the limited rights they now possess in the false name of “border security.” Indeed, Sessions even invented a false narrative of a fraud-ridden, “attorney-gamed” (how do folks who often don’t even have a chance to get an attorney use attorneys to “game” the system?) asylum system in an attempt to justify his totally indefensible and morally bankrupt position.

Check out this video from HuffPost, entitled “This Is The Violent And Tragic Reality Of Deportation”  to see the shocking truth about how our removal system really works (or not)!

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/this-is-the-violent-and-tragic-reality-of-deportation_us_5a58eeade4b03c41896545f2

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Thinking of MLK’S “I have a dream,” next, I’ll take you over to The Guardian, where Washington Correspondent Sabrina Siddiqui tells us how “Immigration policy progress and setbacks have become pattern for Dreamers.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/15/dreamers-policy-progress-and-disaster-has-become-a-pattern-trump

Sabrina writes:

“Greisa Martínez Rosas has seen it before: a rare bipartisan breakthrough on immigration policy, offering a glimmer of hope to advocates like herself. Then a swift unraveling.

Martínez is a Dreamer, one of about 700,000 young undocumented migrants, brought to the US as children, who secured temporary protections through Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or Daca.

She considers herself “one of the lucky ones”. Last year, she was able to renew her legal status until 2020, even as Donald Trump threw the Dreamers into limbo by rescinding Daca and declaring a deadline of 5 March for Congress to act to replace it.

Martínez is an activist with United We Dream, the largest youth-led immigration advocacy group in the US. She has fought on the front lines.

In 2010 and 2013, she saw efforts for immigration reform, and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, culminate in disappointment. She rode a familiar rollercoaster this week, as a bipartisan Daca fix was undermined by Trump’s reported – if contested – reference to African and Central American nations as “shithole countries”.

“It feels like a sequel,” Martínez told the Guardian, adding that Trump’s adversarial views underscored the need to hash out a deal. “This same man is responsible for running a Department of Homeland Security that seeks to hunt and deport people of color.”

Negotiations over immigration have always been precarious. Trump has complicated the picture. After launching his candidacy for president with a speech that called Mexican migrants “rapists” and “killers”, Trump campaigned on deporting nearly 11 million undocumented migrants and building a wall on the Mexico border.

He has, however, shown a more flexible attitude towards Dreamers – despite his move to end their protective status. Last Tuesday, the president sat in the White House, flanked by members of both parties. In a 45-minute negotiating session, televised for full effect, Trump ignited fury among his hardcore supporters by signaling he was open to protection for Dreamers in exchange for modest border security measures.

Then, less than 48 hours later, Trump’s reported comments about countries like Haiti and El Salvador prompted a fierce backlash.

“People are picking their jaws up from the table and they’re trying to recover from feelings of deep hurt and anger,” said Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of America’s Voice, a group which advocates for immigration reform.

“We always knew we were climbing a mountain … but it’s improbable to imagine a positive breakthrough for immigrants with the most nativist president in modern America in charge.”

As the uproar continued, it was nearly forgotten that on Thursday, hours before Trump’s remarks became public, a group of senators announced a bipartisan deal.

Under it, hundreds of thousands of Dreamers would be able to gain provisional legal status and eventually apply for green cards. They would not be able to sponsor their parents for citizenship – an effort to appease Trump’s stance against so-called “chain migration” – but parents would be able to obtain a form of renewable legal status.

There would be other concessions to earn Trump’s signature, such as $2bn for border security including physical barriers, if not by definition a wall.

The compromise would also do away with the diversity visa lottery and reallocate those visas to migrants from underrepresented countries and those who stand to lose Temporary Protected Status. That would help those affected by the Trump administration’s recent decision to terminate such status for some nationals of El Salvador, effectively forcing nearly 200,000 out of the country.

The bill would be far less comprehensive than the one put forward in 2013, when a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Eight” proposed a bill that would have given nearly 11 million undocumented migrants a path to citizenship.

The bill passed the Senate with rare bipartisan support. In the Republican-led House it never received a vote.

Proponents of reform now believe momentum has shifted in their favor, despite Trump’s ascent. The Arizona senator Jeff Flake, part of the 2013 effort and also in the reform group today, said there was a clear deadline of 5 March to help Dreamers.

“I do think there is a broader consensus to do this than we had before,” Flake told the Guardian. “We’re going have 700,000 kids subject to deportation. That’s the biggest difference.”

Read the rest of the story at the link.

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Finally, John Blake at CNN tells us “Three ways [you might not know] MLK speaks to our time.”

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/12/us/mlk-relevance-today/index.html

“(CNN)“Every hero becomes a bore at last.”

That’s a famous line from the 19th century philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, but it could also apply to a modern American hero: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
As the nation celebrates King’s national holiday Monday, it’s easy to freeze-frame him as the benevolent dreamer carved in stone on the Washington Mall. Yet the platitudes that frame many King holiday events often fail to mention the most radical aspects of his legacy, says Jeanne Theoharis, a political science professor at Brooklyn College and author of several books on the civil rights movement.
“We turn him into a Thanksgiving parade float, he’s jolly, larger than life and he makes us feel good,” Theoharis says. “We’ve turned him into a mascot.”
Many people vaguely know that King opposed the Vietnam War and talked more about poverty in his later years. But King also had a lot to say about issues not normally associated with civil rights that still resonate today, historians and activists say.

If you’re concerned about inequality, health care, climate change or even the nastiness of our political disagreements, then King has plenty to say to you. To see that version of King, though, we have to dust off the cliches and look at him anew.
If you’re more familiar with your smartphone than your history, try this: Think of King not just as a civil rights hero, but also as an app — his legacy has to be updated to remain relevant.
Here are three ways we can update our MLK app to see how he spoke not only to his time, but to our time as well:
. . . .
The country is still divided by many of the same issues that consumed him.
On the last night of his life, King told a shouting congregation of black churchgoers that “we as a people” would get to “the Promised Land.” That kind of optimism, though, sounds like it belongs to another era.
What we have now is a leader in the White House who denies widespread reports that he complained about Latino and African immigrants coming to America from “shithole” countries; a white supremacist who murders worshippers in church; a social media landscape that pulsates with anger and accusations.
King’s Promised Land doesn’t sound boring when compared to today’s headlines. And maybe that’s what’s so sad about reliving his life every January for some people.
Fifty years after he died, King’s vision for America still sounds so far away.”
Read the complete article at the link.
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There you have it. A brief but representative sample of some of the many ways in which Dr. King’s dream of a “post racist America” is still relevant and why there’s still much more work still to be done than many of us might have thought several years ago.  
So, the next time you hear bandied about terms like “merit-based” (means: exclude Brown and Black immigrants); “extreme vetting” (means: using bureaucracy to keep Muslims and other perceived “undesirables” out); “tax cuts” (means: handouts to the rich at the expense of the poor); “entitlement reform” (means: cutting benefits for the most vulnerable); “health care reform” (means: kicking the most needy out of the health care system); “voter fraud” (means: suppressing the Black, Hispanic, and Democratic vote); “rule of law” (means: perverting the role of Government agencies and the courts to harm Blacks, Hispanics, Gays, women, the poor, and other minorities); “job creation” (means: destroying our precious natural resources and the environment for the benefit of big corporations), “border security” (means: slashing rights for children and asylum seekers, and more money for building a wall and expanding prisons for non-criminal migrants, a/k/a/ “The New American Gulag”), “ending chain migration” (means keeping non-White and/or non-Christian immigrants from bringing family members) and other deceptively harmless sounding euphemisms, know what the politicos are really up to and consider them in the terms that Dr. King might have.
What’s really behind the rhetoric and how will it help create the type of more fair, just, equal, and value-driven society that majority of us in American seek to be part of and leave to succeeding generations. If it isn’t moving us as a nation toward those goals, “Just Say NO” as Dr. King would have done! 
PWS
01-15-18

GONZO’S WORLD: PROFESSOR KARI HONG EXPLAINS SIX WAYS THAT TRUMP, SESSIONS, & CO. ARE THE REAL SCOFFLAWS IN THEIR MISGUIDED CRUDSADE AGAINST SO-CALLED “SANCTUARY CITIES!”

https://thecrimereport.org/2018/01/08/sanctuary-cities-vs-trump-whos-really-breaking-the-law/

Professor Hong writes in The Crime Report:

“As we start a new year, the status of “sanctuary cities” promises to be a continuing flashpoint in the immigration debate. The Trump Administration cites the “rule of law,” and immigrants’ supposed failure to follow it, to justify its crackdown on cities that fail to refer undocumented immigrants who are arrested to federal immigration authorities.

But the president’s attempt to withhold funds from sanctuary jurisdictions doesn’t meet that rule-of-law standard.

Here’s some background. Since 2008, the federal government has sought state and local cooperation in enforcing immigration law under a program originally named Secure Communities, which allows police to check a person’s immigration status in a database maintained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), after he or she is stopped for a traffic violation or arrested for a state crime.

If there is a match, ICE asks the local entity to detain the individual until ICE determines whether an immigration hearing is required, and a judge will then decide if deportation is merited.

Those who support this program, including Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, claim states and cities must use Secure Communities to catch murderers and rapists. Trump issued an executive order deputizing state and local officers to make immigration arrests, and threatened to withhold money from any city and state that does not cooperate.

But ironically, according to four federal judges and a growing number of state courts, it’s Trump’s request that fails to follow the law.

The request flouts the rule of law on six counts.

First, the president seeks to punish “sanctuary jurisdictions.” But only Congress—not the president—can give or withhold federal funds.

The federal government’s lawyers understand the flaws in Trump’s order to withhold funding from jurisdictions. In one of the California cases, the Department of Justice argued that the federal judge should not enforce its order because Trump’s request is unenforceable and should just be ignored. (The judge didn’t buy that argument.)

Second, no one knows what the term “sanctuary jurisdictions” means. When John Kelly, currently the president’s chief of staff, headed the Department of Homeland Security and was tasked with penalizing such jurisdictions, he testified that he “do[esn’t] have a clue” on how to define a “sanctuary city.”

Generally, the term is understood to apply to cities and states that cooperate with the federal government on immigration arrests. But there are no means to define what a failure to act means. It could arise from a decision not to cooperate, but it could also be the result of a lack of opportunity.

That’s like penalizing a backup quarterback for not scoring touchdowns every time the starter plays; it’s simply not his job.

Third, the ICE database is filled with errors. In 2010, ICE detained an individual for three days who was in fact born in Puerto Rico, and therefore a U.S. citizen. This year, ICE agents erroneously detained Mohammed Ali’s son questioning his citizenship. They also detained a visiting Holocaust scholar for violating his visitor’s visa by accepting payment for a speech, not knowing that academics are exempt from that rule.

Fourth, the program is expensive. The federal government requires states and cities to pay for the detention of the non-citizen. Los Angeles stopped doing it after paying $26 million in one year. And when mistakes occur, ICE will not indemnify states or cities.

That means if a state or local police officer detains someone ICE has mistakenly determined is deportable, the state and city will be exposed to a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary compensation for that wrongful detention.

Fifth, even when predicated on correct information, a growing number of stateand federal courts are finding ICE’s requests unlawful and unconstitutional because they do not relate to any ongoing or prospective criminal activity.

Living in the country without status is not a crime. ICE’s requests thus run afoul of the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that the government detain only people who are suspected of committing crimes.

Sixth, the program is ineffectual.

In the nearly 10 years Secure Communities has existed, only a minority of the millions identified have a prior conviction for violent crime. Around 12 percent of the millions of non-citizens identified in this program had been convicted of “serious crimes”, which is a category that includes both violent crimes and non-violent crimes of forgery, fraud, and non-violent drug offenses. Another 25 percent had minor crimes or traffic infractions, such as driving their child to school without a license.

And approximately 40 percent of non-citizens who were picked up in this program had no criminal record.

Under Trump, although the number of immigration arrests increased 40 percent from last year, no more than six percent of those arrested had criminal records.

That low number should not be surprising.

If someone truly is a murderer, rapist, or posed a real danger, they would be rotting in a prison cell. They would not be in the streets, afraid that an ICE officer could somehow discover that they overstayed their visa 20 years ago.

This logic plays out in fact. A recent study concluded that residents in sanctuary cities experience lower crime rates than their counterparts. The case of Kathryn Steinle, 32, who was killed while walking in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf area in 2015, was used by Trump and immigration opponents as an example of the dangers posed to Americans by undocumented immigrants.

But while the perpetrator was a man who had already been deported five times because of criminal convictions, he proved to be the wrong symbol. Last month, a jury concluded that her death was a tragic accident from a gun misfiring and rejected both murder and manslaughter charges.

Editor’s Note: In response to the acquittal, the Justice Department announced it would file federal charges against the man, and issued an arrest warrant.

Worse, requiring local communities to enforce immigration law is harming its citizenry.

Police chiefs and commissioners have been outspoken in their support of sanctuary policies, arguing they are critical tools to encourage crime victims and witnesses in the immigrant community to cooperate with the police.

Their concerns were well-founded. In the first three months of 2017, the Los Angeles Chief of Police reported that among all ethnicities, only Latino individuals had a 25 percent drop in reporting rapes and domestic violence.

Keep in mind that those with criminal records are not always the so-called “bad hombres,” to use the president’s notorious phrase. Minor crimes have been used to deport combat veterans. A drug crime was the reason to deport a 9/11 volunteer who helped clean up the rubble of the World Trade Center.

Misdemeanors, expunged convictions, and even pardoned state crimes are deportable offenses. And immigration law sweeps in old convictions, so that green card holders who are middle-aged become deportable, regardless of years of proven rehabilitation.

It is too bad that “sanctuary” is the term to describe the jurisdictions that opt out of this program, because it wrongly implies that cities and states are providing amnesty. It would be unimaginable for local police—while issuing speeding tickets or investigating murders—to double check if the driver, the suspects or witnesses had properly filed their respective taxes with all the appropriate deductions, and then detain them until an IRS agent could review their past tax returns.

But that is exactly what is happening with immigration, or at least it was, until four federal judges—and counting—stopped Trump for failing to follow the law.

Kari Hong

Kari Hong

The lesson is clear. Actual criminals are best apprehended and punished by state criminal justice systems. Congress should focus on fixing the broken immigration system that had last seen reform over 20 years ago, and local cities should spend their time and money on local matters.

Casting blame on cities doesn’t solve anything. Forcing cities to do the work of the federal government is truly making things worse.

Kari Hong, an Assistant Professor at Boston College Law School, teaches immigration and criminal law. She founded a clinic representing non-citizens with criminal convictions in the Ninth Circuit, and has argued over 100 Ninth Circuit cases and 50 state criminal appeals.”

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The concept that Scofflaw Gonzo is “restoring the rule of law” at Justice is a cruel joke. “Gonzo’s law” has no real room for the rights of Blacks, Hispanics, Gays, Immigrants, Women, Muslims, or others who don’t fit his “Bannon-Miller” White Nationalist restrictionist agenda.

PWS

01-14-18

GONZO’S WORLD: PERVERSION @ JUSTICE: IN THE NAME OF TRUMP & WHITE NATIONALISM, HE’S TRASHED THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, THE RULE OF LAW, THE RIGHTS OF MINORITIES, GAYS, IMMIGRANTS, WOMEN, & OTHERS, AND OVERALL HUMAN COMPASSION & DECENCY– BUT, SESSIONS’S ONE NOTABLE INSTANCE OF ACTING ETHICALLY AND LAWFULLY IS UNFORGIVABLE IN TRUMP’S EYES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sessions-tries-to-impress-trump-with-moves-at-justice-it-hasnt-worked/2018/01/10/e2053d84-f478-11e7-91af-31ac729add94_story.html?utm_term=.c7613a002b16

Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky report for the Washington Post:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to find his way back into President Trump’s good graces.

For months, Sessions has asked senior White House aides to make sure the president knows what he is doing at the Justice Department, two White House advisers said, and has told allies he hopes policy decisions that garner news coverage will please Trump. ­Sessions’s team at Justice has crafted a public campaign to highlight the work it is doing to advance the president’s agenda. The department has also begun looking into matters that Trump has publicly complained are not being pursued.

Top Trump advisers, including White House counsel Donald McGahn and counselor Kellyanne Conway and former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former strategist Stephen K. Bannon, have at times joined the effort and pressed Trump to give his attorney general a second chance. They note that his department has helped reduce illegal border crossings and carried out a number of the president’s initiatives, such as cracking down on leaks and targeting the MS-13 street gang.

But Sessions, who was one of Trump’s earliest backers and gave up a safe Senate seat to join the administration, has, by all accounts, been unable to repair his relationship with the president. Trump has dismissed praise of Sessions, according to four White House officials and advisers, as he continues to rage about the Russia investigationand Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the probe into Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election and whether there was any coordination with the Trump campaign.

“He’s one of the most active Cabinet secretaries there is,” one White House official said. “He’s done a fine job. Does it wash away the sin of recusal? I don’t think so.”

. . . .

At the Justice Department, officials have tried to publicly tout their successes, hopeful that political allies and the president, a frequent television viewer, will take notice. They have done work that — in their view — should appeal to the president and his base, such as settling lawsuits with tea party groups, issuing guidance on religious liberty, cracking down on illegal immigration and rolling back various Obama-era guidances, including one advising courts to be wary of imposing heavy fines on those who can’t afford them.

“We’re trying to get our successes out in the ether,” one department official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss dynamics with the White House.

The official said Justice has communicated with some conservative constituencies, like law enforcement groups, and was recently heartened when the Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement praising Sessions’s decision to make it easier for U.S. prosecutors to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that had legalized the substance, advisers said.

“It’s that kind of stuff that you figure will lead to this tipping point where the audience of one says, ‘Wow, that’s pretty impressive,’ ” the official said.

But the official acknowledged that the department can’t seem to overcome the president’s frustration over Sessions’s recusal, and even some publicizing of successes can lead to mixed results. The department has allowed its top spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, to make television appearances, but while half of the interview will be about work officials want to promote, the conversation often turns to the Russia investigation, which is not helpful to Sessions, if Trump is watching.

. . . .

One department official said Sessions had no real option under federal regulations but to recuse himself. Even a number of top White House lawyers and aides argued to Trump that Sessions needed to step aside.

. . . .

Sessions is widely disliked among liberals, who say his policies are rolling back decades of social and civil rights progress. But among conservatives and those on the far right, Sessions is a strong spot in the administration.

A few months ago, Leonard Leo, a legal adviser to Trump, said the president asked him about Sessions. Leo said he told the president he was impressed by the department, particularly its “religious liberty” guidance and the performance of the solicitor general’s office. Leo said Trump largely listened to his assessment.

“For conservatives going into the Trump administration, the question was whether the department’s morale could be restored and whether there would be a greater sensitivity to respect for the rule of law in the department,” Leo said in an interview. “I think Attorney General Sessions has done a good job of creating the right atmosphere in the department.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Poor Gonzo! Here he thought that a heavy dose of White Nationalism, racism, voter suppression, xenophobia, and scoffing at Constitutional rights like abortion at the DOJ would overcome a single unavoidable act of acting ethically and following the law. Boy, was he wrong! What Trump really wanted was a complete toady dedicated to protecting Trump, his family, and a few of his friends from the natural consequences of their inappropriate behavior. Gonzo should have taken Mike Pence’s class in “Toadyism 101” before accepting the job!

PWS

01-12-18

 

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

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

Robert Reich writes in Newsweek:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And he’s still conning most of them.

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

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

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

PWS

01-08-18

 

TODAY’S “QUOTE OF THE DAY” FROM JAMES HOHMANN OF THE “DAILY 202” @ THE WASHINGTON POST!

“President Trump’s insistence that Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist and a top aide at the White House until five months ago, was a mere “staffer” who had “very little to do with our historic victory” is akin to Joseph Stalin trying to erase Leon Trotsky from the history of the Russian Revolution.”

Read Hohmann’s entire Daily 202 report for today here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2018/01/04/daily-202-trump-s-break-with-bannon-over-wolff-book-shows-the-limits-of-loyalty/5a4da76930fb0469e883ff0b/?utm_term=.9bf757ffdba3

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PWS

01-04-18

HOW THE WHITE NATIONALIST RESTRICTIONSTS MIS-APPROPRIATED AND MIS-CONSTRUED THE TERM “CHAIN MIGRATION” – It’s All About Race & Culture Wars, Not The Best Interests Of The US!

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/12/29/16504272/chain-migration-family-how-trump-end

Dara Lind writes for VOX:

“Over the course of President Donald Trump’s first year in office, his administration’s top immigration priority has shifted subtly. He’s talking less about deporting “bad hombres” and talking more — a lot more — about how “chain migration” is bad for the United States.

“We have to get rid of chainlike immigration, we have to get rid of the chain,” Trump told the New York Times’s Mike Schmidt in an impromptu interview at his West Palm Beach golf club in December. He followed it up, as he does, with a tweet:

“Chain migration” — which is loosely used as a synonym for all immigration to the United States that happens based on family ties (when a US citizen or, in some cases, a green card holder petitions for a relative to join them) — has become a conservative boogeyman, and an excuse to cut down on legal immigration. It’s long been a target of immigration restrictionists whose concerns about immigration are less about people “respecting the law” than about the government exercising stricter control over who enters the country.

Under the Trump administration, those restrictionists have more political power than they’ve had in a generation — and they’re using it to prosecute an aggressive case against the family-based system as it stands.

The Trump administration’s attacks on “chain migration” have helped shift the terms of the debate over immigration policy. “Chain migration” is being invoked, among other things, to frame two totally different demands Republicans have made in the debate over legalizing immigrants temporarily covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program: preventing current DACA recipients from sponsoring their parents after becoming citizens, and cutting or eliminating some categories of family-based immigration for all immigrants in exchange for legalizing DACA enrollees.

But it’s not just during the DACA debate. The Trump administration blamed the failed New York subway bombing in December on “chain migration” because the would-be bomber came as the child of a US citizen’s sibling in 2010. Its National Security Strategy, issued Monday, called chain migration a security threat.

In other words, the Trump administration’s attack on “chain migration” isn’t just a setup for a particular policy fight. It’s about who is allowed to be a part of America — and whether changes to the country’s makeup are healthy demographic development or a sign of uncontrolled invasion.

“Chain migration” is the technical name for a commonsense idea: People are more likely to move where their relatives are

The dynamic underlying “chain migration” is so simple that it sounds like common sense: People are more likely to move to where people they know live, and each new immigrant makes people they know more likely to move there in turn.

But as obvious as the reality is on the ground, it wasn’t always incorporated into theoretical models of migration (particularly economic models). Economists tended to think about the decision to migrate as a simple calculus of how much money someone was making at home versus how much he could be making abroad, rather than understanding that the decision was more complicated — and that family and social relationships played a role.

Princeton demographer Doug Massey, one of the leading scholars on immigration to the US at the end of the 20th century (and the beginning of the 21st), was one of the scholars who tried to correct this oversimplified view. As he put it in an essay for the Inter-American Parliamentary Group on Population and Development in the early 1990s:

The first migrants who leave for a new destination have no social ties to draw upon, and for them migration is costly, particularly if it involves entering another country without documents. After the first migrants have left, however, the costs of migration are substantially lower for their friends and relatives living in the community of origin. Because of the nature of kinship and friendship structures, each new migrant creates a set of people with social ties to the destination area.

These immigrants would also end up behaving differently once they arrived in their new countries. If they were just there for economic reasons, they’d have an incentive to move back once they’d made enough money, or circulate back and forth. But immigrants who move for social reasons are moving to a new community — a new place they’ll stay. That’s an upside if you think it’s important for immigrants to become American — and a downside if you think the US should be much pickier about who gets to move here for good than it is about who gets to work here.

One upshot of chain migration: Any policies that made it easier for immigrants to bring their relatives would allow migration chains to form, thus expanding immigration into the country. “Family reunification systems,” Massey wrote, “work at crosspurposes with the limitation of immigration.”

Massey and the other demographers of “chain migration” weren’t presenting it as a negative. But their words were easily adopted by people who did. The Massey essay quoted above ended up being reprinted in an issue of The Social Contract — the journal founded by immigration restrictionist mogul John Tanton, who also founded the three most visible restrictionist organizations in American politics (the think tank the Center for Immigration Studies and the advocacy groups NumbersUSA and FAIR).

The Social Contract was a forum for concerns about the threat of mass immigration (particularly mass nonwhite immigration) to the United States. (The Southern Poverty Law Center, which considers all Tanton-affiliated institutions to be “hate groups,” has a rundown of some of the journal’s more incendiary content.) Massey, on the other hand is a longtime supporter of reforms that would make it easier for immigrants to come to America.

An article by a supporter of expansive immigration policy could be reprinted, with few apparent edits, in a journal for his intellectual opponents only because the debate over chain migration is fundamentally not about whether it happens, but whether it’s okay. Defenders of chain migration tend to argue that it’s important for immigrants to put down roots in the US, and that having a family here is part of what that means.

Opponents, on the other hand, see family-based immigration as the government ceding some control for who gets to come here, so that it’s not selecting individuals in a vacuum — which leads rapidly to fears of the US government losing control of the immigration system entirely.

The actual policy behind “chain migration”

It’s not clear whether President Trump understands how family-based immigration actually works — and when it can lead to “chains” of relatives. Trump has claimed that the man who ran over several pedestrians in New York in November brought 23 (sometimes he says 24) relatives to the US in the seven years he’d lived here — a claim that chain migration opponent Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration studies said was impossible. And the White House’s “chain migration” diagram makes it looks like each generation of adults brings in children, which brings their children — which isn’t how chain migration works.

To better understand what policies, exactly, opponents of “chain migration” are worried about, check out this chart from the restrictionist advocacy group NumbersUSA — which is a more detailed representation of the same fear of overwhelming, uncontrollable waves of migration.

It’s a little overwhelming!
NumbersUSA

Let’s walk through the scenario in that chart. It depicts an immigrant who’s come to the US on an employment-based green card (in black) and is able to bring over his spouse and children immediately. He can also petition for his parents to come to the US on green cards, and — after he becomes a citizen (something the NumbersUSA chart doesn’t clarify) — he can petition for his siblings as well (all in gray).

The siblings all bring over their spouses and children immediately, and the spouses (in orange, maroon, navy, and teal) petition to bring over their own parents and (upon naturalization) their own siblings. The original immigrant’s parents (eventually) petition for their own siblings to come to the US, and the siblings then petition to bring over their married adult children — whose spouses can then petition for their own parents and (eventually) siblings, etc., etc.

Meanwhile, the original immigrant’s spouse can petition for her parents (in pink) and, once she becomes a citizen, her siblings (in blue, purple, red, and green). Those siblings bring over their spouses, who subsequently petition for their own parents and siblings, etc., etc.

There are a ton of assumptions in this model about the way immigrants behave — why is everyone in families of four or five? Does no one really want to stay in her home country? Is there no such thing as a bachelor in any of these families? — but the visa categories under US law make it a hypothetical possibility. But the thing is, US policymakers know that it’s a hypothetical possibility. And there are safeguards built into the system that restrict family-based immigration far more than the diagram would have you believe.

In practice, bringing over a family member takes years — which makes it very hard to build a chain

No one is automatically allowed to immigrate to the US. Anyone applying for residency in the country has to go through a standard vetting process — including a criminal and terrorism background check, and an evaluation of whether they’re likely to become a “public charge” in the US (i.e., be unable to support themselves for income and rely on social programs).

Trump’s National Security Strategy claims that “chain migration” is a problem for national security, but there’s nothing inherent to the way someone is allowed to immigrate to the US that makes it harder for the US to catch would-be terrorists — that is, if anything, a failure of the screening process.

The bigger obstacle, though, isn’t qualifying to immigrate — it’s that the number of hypothetically qualified family-based immigrants greatly exceeds the number of slots available for immigrants each year. The US doesn’t set caps on the number of spouses, minor children, or parents of US citizens who can come to the US each year — but, again, those categories in themselves don’t create chains.

The categories that do create chains are strictly capped: 23,400 married children of US citizens (plus their own spouses and minor children) are allowed to immigrate each year, and 67,500 adult siblings of US citizens (plus spouses and minor children). Furthermore, because the total number of immigrants coming from a particular country each year is capped, would-be immigrants from Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines end up facing even longer wait times.

When people talk about the “visa backlog,” this is what they mean: In January 2018, for example, the US government will start processing applications for F4 visas (the siblings of US citizens) who first petitioned to let them immigrate on June 22, 2004, or earlier. That is, unless the sibling lives in India (in which case the petition had to be filed by December 2003 to get processed in January 2018), Mexico (November 1997), or the Philippines (September 1994).

Sudarshana Sengupta, pictured here with family in Massachusetts, had been waiting for a green card for seven years when this picture was taken.
Washington Post/Getty Images

Understanding that an F4 visa is a 13- to 23-year process throws that NumbersUSA diagram into a different light. How implausible it is depends on your assumptions about how close together generations are, and how young the immigrants are when they come to the United States. But if you start by understanding that the first members of the orange, maroon, navy, teal, blue, purple, red, and green chains don’t enter the US until 18 years after the original immigrant (signified by black) does — and that the first immigrants in the yellow section of the chart don’t enter the country until 23 years later — it should give you a sense of how long it will take in to fill in the rest of the chain.

In practice, this ultimately looks like a lot of people coming to the US in late middle age. That’s backed up by the data: A study from Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies — which is critical of “chain migration” — found that the average age of immigrants to the US has risen over the past few decades, and that family-based immigration was a substantial cause.

But even then, the NumbersUSA scenario assumes that all the immigrants can afford to sponsor a family member to immigrate to the US. A US citizen (or green card holder seeking to bring an unmarried child or parent) has to prove to the government that they can provide financial support if their relative needs it, rather than relying on the government for aid.

In practice, this means that every immigrant needs to have someone vouching for them whose household income is 125 percent of the poverty line — and the “household” includes the relative who’s trying to come to the US. In other words, a single adult could sponsor his parent to immigrate if he made at least $20,300 — 125 percent of the federal poverty line for a two-person household — but if he had a spouse and two children, he’d have to be making 125 percent of the poverty line for a five-person household. And that includes any other immigrants who the household is sponsoring at the same time.

So an immigrant with a wife and two children who wanted to sponsor his parents and four siblings to immigrate as soon as he became a citizen would have to be making $56,875 — around the median income in the US. And if his spouse were trying to do the same thing with her parents and four siblings, as in the NumbersUSA chart, they’d have to be making $83,000 — which would place them in the 66th percentile of US household income.

That’s not impossible. But it certainly calls into question the stereotype of family-based migration as a way for “low-skilled,” low-earning immigrants to bring their low-skilled, low-earning relatives into the US.

There are ways for citizens to get other people to agree to help support a potential immigrant relative. But at the same time, the US government has discretion to reject an application, even if the citizen meets the income threshold, if they suspect that in practice the immigrant won’t be supported in the US. (Another factor in determining “public charge”is age — which is interesting, given the data about family-based immigrants being older.)

Add all of these factors together, and it becomes clear that an immigrant won’t be able to bring that many relatives to the US over the course of his or her lifetime. Vaughan’s studyfound that as of 2015, immigrants who came to the US from 1981 to 2000 had sponsored an average of 1.77 relatives to come join them. The most recent immigrants in the study — those who came to the US in the late 1990s — had sponsored the most relatives: 3.46. But both of those numbers include the minor children they brought with them at the time: In other words, they were hardly starting 3.46 new “chains.”

If anything, in fact, the family-based system is so overloaded that it ends up creating unrealistic hopes in people that they’ll be able to immigrate to the US. If your sibling moves to the US on a work visa, for example, you might start to hope that he’ll eventually be able to bring you along — but if you try to plan your life around that, you’ll end up waiting for two decades.

There are hints all this panic over “chain migration” is really about fear of cultural change

All of this is relevant to a conversation about whether to further restrict, or eliminate, the F3 and F4 visas for married children and adult siblings of US citizens. And indeed, that’s the most common policy demand being made by Republicans who are seeking to end or reduce “chain migration.”

But the most stalwart opponents of “chain migration,” the ones who use it to refer to all family-based immigration, period, are talking not just about the mechanics of the chain but about a bigger normative question: whether allowing immigrants to come as family units, or allowing people to immigrate based on family relationships, gives the US too little control over who gets to come.

The ultimate impression of both the White House and NumbersUSA “chain migration” diagrams is to make it seem that admitting a single immigrant unleashes an uncontrollable tide of infinite future family-based immigration — that each immigrant is a one-person Trojan horse for hundreds more.

A pro-Brexit billboard depicting a stream of refugees “overrunning” Britain.
This is an image from the pro-Brexit campaign, but the theme’s the same: a lack of control.
Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty

“As more and more immigrants are admitted to the United States, the population eligible to sponsor their relatives for green cards increases exponentially,” the restrictionist group FAIR says on its website. “This means that every time one immigrant is admitted, the door is opened to many more.”

This potent visual is why “chain migration” has been a longtime target of immigration restrictionists, even when the Republican Party as a whole was attempting to welcome legal immigrants. For people whose biggest fear regarding immigration is that immigrants will change the face of America — that they’ll trample the country’s “traditionally” white, Christian majority — there’s little more potent than the idea of immigrants bringing over huge families, replanting their communities whole in American soil.

This fear goes hand in hand with a fear that immigrants won’t assimilate. When immigration restrictionists cite the second quarter of the 20th century as a great time for the United States, they’re not (at least explicitly) praising the racist country quotas that governed immigration at the time. They’re (explicitly) praising the fact that, with overall immigration levels low, immigrants were forced to interact with and eventually integrate among US citizens. The more immigrants that come over — and especially the more that immigrants bring their families over — the less, in theory, that they and their descendants will have to interact with people from outside of their community. In turn, this gets into fears that parts of America could become alien to Americans — cultural, or literal, “no-go zones.”

The use of “chain migration” in the current debate over DACA, to refer to DACA recipients allowing their parents to become legal immigrants, complicates the matter even further. Because the parents of DACA recipients have, by definition, lived in the US as unauthorized immigrants, this isn’t really about bringing new people into the US — it’s about legalizing people who are already here (or bringing people back who have been deported, something US policy already makes pretty hard).

The insistence among some Republicans that “Dreamers” not be allowed to sponsor their parents, even after they become US citizens, is really about not wanting to “reward” unauthorized immigrants for living in the US without papers. They’re worried about losing “control” in a slightly different sense — worried that any “reward” for illegal behavior will incentivize a new wave of unauthorized migration to take advantage of potential rewards. This is pretty far afield from the way that “chain migration” is commonly understood — but that’s the word being used in the DACA debate anyway, not least because the president has helped turn it into a buzzword.

Because these memes, and the fears that they provoke, are all so tightly connected, “chain migration” is both an ideological concern about America selecting immigrants based on their merit, and a racist smokescreen for fears of demographic change. It can be hard to separate the two. And it’s certainly not in the interests of the opponents of “chain migration” to try.

There’s a reason that family-based immigration has lasted as long as it has

It’s a lot easier to get people to agree, in theory, that the US should be accepting immigrants on the basis of “merit” — i.e., without concern for whether they have relatives living here — than it is to get them to agree on exactly what should be done to reduce the importance of family-based immigration to the current system.

For one thing, many policymakers, including many Republicans, see allowing some family members to immigrate as an important factor in encouraging integration. Allowing immigrants to bring along their spouses and minor children, for example, makes it less likely that they’ll decide to return to their home countries — and it means their children will grow up American, in more ways than one.

There are also policymakers who see family unity as a value worth protecting for its own sake (an argument you’ll often hear among religious advocates). And there’s, of course, an ethnic component. Asian Americans, in particular, feel that they are still trying to make up ground after decades of racist exclusion from the immigration system — and family-based immigration has been the best way for them to make that ground up. Mexican Americans, too, feel that the current system has unfairly forced Mexican immigrant families to be separated while other families get to reunite with ease.

All of these objections have combined, so far, to make Democrats firmly opposed to any proposal that would restrict future family-based immigration. But as “chain migration” begins to eclipse other issues (like immigration enforcement in the interior of the US) as a top Republican priority, it’s not clear whether Democrats’ commitment to hypothetical legal immigrants of the future is going to win out over their commitment to legalizing unauthorized immigrants who are currently here.”

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

The fear that the US won’t be a “White Christian country” is what’s really driving the campaign against family migration (a/k/a/ “chain migration”). But, in reality, the days of the US as a “White Christian Empire” are in our national rearview mirror, no matter what the White Nationalist restrictionists do. It’s really just a question of how much pain, suffering, and divisiveness the White Nationalists can inflict as their already tenuous control inevitably continues to slip.

As almost all “non-restrictionist” economists tell us, restrictive national immigration policies are not in our national interest. In fact, more, not less legal immigration is going to be a necessity to keep our economy from stagnating like that of Japan and some European countries. Indeed, Paul Ryan’s goofy “everyone should have more kids” was an acknowledgement of how our future success depends on a robust legal immigration system.

Also, the concept that the legal admission of Dreamers is a “negative” that has to be “offset” by cuts in legal immigration elsewhere is pure fiction. Dreamers are already here and contributing to our society and our national welfare. Giving them legal status is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing. And doing the “smart thing” requires no bogus “offsets.”

PWS

01-01-18

JRUBE IN WASHPOST; GONZO’S SCAPEGOATING OF UNDOCUMENTED RESIDENTS IMMORAL & STUPID!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/12/27/scapegoating-illegal-immigrants-isnt-just-immoral-its-bad-crime-policy/

Rubin writes:

“Anti-immigrant voices’ smokescreen that they were only opposed to illegal immigration has been shredded. They now revel in their calls for immigration exclusionism. If allowed to persist, it will distort and damage our economy and impede entrepreneurship. It has already encouraged a wholly-misguided approach to crime fighting.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump have concocted a theory that we are awash in crime because of illegal immigrants, especially those living in “sanctuary cities.” That is patently false, and Sessions’ efforts to punish cities that refuse to do the feds bidding in detaining and helping to deport illegal immigrant have been swatted down in court. However, the barrage of litigation over sanctuary cities and obsession with the issue has led us to ignore both the successes and failures in crime fighting — and the causes of each.

. . . .

So when Los Angeles mayors and police chiefs tell the Justice Department that making police into immigration agents will impair their community policing success and divert valuable resources, maybe we should listen to them. Conservatives used to understand that in federalism we have the “laboratories of democracy,” namely the opportunities to find through experimentation what works and what doesn’t. Rather than riding roughshod of localities, Sessions should highlight the successes of local police departments, urge others to follow suit and increase funding — rather than threaten to yank it for spurious reasons — for those localities that need it the most. Alas, his ideological fixation with demonizing illegal immigrants seems to preclude such a fact-based approach.“

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

Read JRube’s compleat article at the link.

As she indicates, Gonzo is undoubtedly the most “fact and law free” Attorney General in our lifetime. Almost every one of his amazingly horrible and destructive  decisions is driven by deeply ingrained ideological bias. Senator Liz Warren and the others who spoke up at the confirmation hearings were right. But, the GOP Senate tuned them out. Remember that the next time you go to the polls!

PWS

12-27-17

 

MORE LUMPS FOR TRUMP FROM LOWER COURT ON REFUGEE BAN!

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/366337-federal-judge-partially-lifts-trump-ban-on-refugees

Jesse Byrnes and Julia Manchester report for The Hill:

“A federal judge in Seattle has partially lifted a ban on certain refugees imposed by the Trump administration.

U.S. District Judge James Robart issued a ruling on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Jewish Family Service on Saturday.

The groups had urged the judge, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, to halt the ban on refugees from some majority-Muslim nations.

Robart ruled that the federal government should process certain refugee applications, saying his order doesn’t apply to refugees who do not have a “bona fide” relationship with an individual or an entity in the U.S.

The ban originally went into effect after the president issued an executive order reinstating the refugee program “with enhanced vetting capabilities” in October.

The ACLU argued that a memo sent to the president from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats saying certain refugees should be banned unless security was enhanced did not provide enough evidence for why more security was needed.

The judge wrote Saturday that “former officials detailed concretely how the Agency Memo will harm the United States’ national security and foreign policy interests” and said his ruling restores “refuge procedures and programs to the position they were in prior” to the ban, which he noted included thorough vetting of individuals traveling to the U.S.

The lawsuits stemming from the ACLU and Jewish Family Services were consolidated and involved refugees who have been blocked from coming to the U.S.”

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

Read the complete article over at The Hill at the link.

Like other recent lower court rulings against the Travel Ban, I expect this will be largely a “symbolic victory” for the plaintiffs. Based on the Supremes’ actions on other “Travel Ban”  cases to date, I expect that the Administration will eventually prevail in its effort to restrict refugee admissions from abroad.

PWS

12-26-17

OUT HERE BEYOND THE WHITE NATIONALIST XENOPHOBIC WORLD OF TRUMP & SESSIONS, LIES THE “REAL AMERICA” – A NATION OF IMMIGRANTS, DIVERSITY, & LOYALTY TO AMERICA – THREE CAMEROONIAN SISTERS BOUND FOR THE IVIES SHOW THAT THERE IS HOPE FOR OUR NATION’S FUTURE BEYOND THE BLEAK, SELF-INDULGENT MYOPIA OF TRUMP & HIS CRONIES!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/24/opinion/trump-african-immigrants-ivy-league.html?_r=0

Photo

American sisters born in Cameroon, from left, Ella, Chris and Xaviera. CreditVictor J. Blue for The New York Times

Ten years ago, a family arrived in the Bronx from Yaoundé, Cameroon, not speaking a word of English. This Christmas, they are celebrating a feat that would be impressive for any family: Three of the family’s five daughters have been accepted to Ivy League universities.

In a year in which our nativist president would have you believe that immigrants are, at best, a job-stealing drain and at worst, criminals, rapists and people with AIDS, these three remarkable sisters are worth paying attention to. Not just because they are inspiring — they are — but because they are far better ambassadors for this country and exponents of its ideals than the 45th president.

“We brought the girls to this country because there are better opportunities here,” says Flore Kengmeni, their mother, who works as a nurse. “I don’t know of another country where you can try hard, work hard and get somewhere. Where you are given the opportunity to fulfill your potential.”

“This country is built on immigrants,” Francois de Paul Silatchom, their father, a professor of economics at SUNY, starts to say, before his middle daughter, Ella, a sophomore at Yale, interjects: “Our experience as a family is what America is.”

That experience is marked by hard work, optimism, resilience and a persistent sense of gratitude even to have the opportunity.

All three girls admit it wasn’t easy. They recall sitting in class during their first year in America and not understanding what their teachers and classmates were saying. They remember being made fun of, but not really knowing why.

“Everyone spoke so fast and I guess we speak that fast now, too,” says Xaviera, the youngest of the three, who was accepted to Harvard earlier this month.

They turned to books for guidance. Their parents got the girls library cards and made reading mandatory — “Education is the most valuable asset,” the parents say repeatedly when we meet. The sisters were encouraged to read broadly, from “The Magic School Bus” to “Harry Potter,” and they practiced English as a family in their two-bedroom apartment in the Bronx’s Pelham Parkway neighborhood.

By the end of their first year at their local public schools, the girls had learned enough English to take the state exams, and were excelling in their classes. But their parents were alarmed that they were finishing their homework during the school day and coming home bored. They asked teachers to assign their daughters more homework. But even that wasn’t enough.

“Something was wrong,” Mr. de Paul Silatchom says. “I started looking for schools that would challenge them and keep them busy. At a school fair, we learned about Democracy Prep.”

At Democracy Prep, a public charter school in Harlem where I met them one recent afternoon, the day begins at 7:45 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. Longer school days, many argue, allow teachers to spend more time on subjects other than math and English, and keep students out of trouble.

Photo

Francois de Paul Silatchom, left, poses for a portrait with his daughters (left to right) Xaviera, 17, Ella, 19, and Chris, 20, and their mother Flore Kengmeni, center, at their church on the Upper East Side.CreditVictor J. Blue for The New York Times

Through the school’s Korean language program, the sisters were exposed to a culture completely different from their own, which sparked an interest in global affairs for all of them. Civics is a core part of the school’s curriculum, which Xaviera says showed her that, “Regardless of how disadvantaged you are in society, you have an advantage if you understand how our system of government works.”

“I learned so much here,” Ella says of the school. “And between that and our parents, my work ethic — our work ethic — really developed. Our parents required us to do an extracurricular, so sports or choir or whatever and that was for after 5 o’clock. That was normal for us.”

When the oldest, Chris, now a junior at Dartmouth, got into the college in 2014, friends and family were elated, but her parents made it clear that the work wasn’t over.

“The night I got into Dartmouth, Mom asked me, ‘Have you done the dishes?’ Getting in was exciting and I knew she was proud, but it was just a regular day,” Chris says.

“They haven’t ‘arrived,’ as people like to say, just because they are into Ivy League schools,” Mr. de Paul Silatchom says. “It’s a good start and a platform of opportunity.”

When speaking, the sisters transition seamlessly between New York-accented English and French, their first language. The irony that they landed at a school called Democracy Prep after immigrating from one of the world’s least democratic countries is not lost on them.

It’s something they’ve spent a lot of time thinking about as President Trump has rolled out various cruel immigration policies, from his proposed travel ban to, in September, rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — an Obama-era program that protected the country’s approximately 800,000 undocumented youth raised in the country from being deported.

“It’s scary to see because this is not the country we know,” says Chris, who along with her sisters, became an American citizen in 2016. “America at its core is principled on immigrants. We came to this country to improve our futures and I feel as American as anyone born here.”

“These girls are more American than Cameroonian,” their mother says. “Can you imagine being undocumented? We were very lucky,” Xaviera adds.

Watching videos of immigration agents separating families in recent months has been particularly difficult for Ms. Kengmeni and Mr. de Paul Silatchom. “I can’t imagine what it’s been like for these children who go to school in the morning knowing they might come home at the end of the day to no parents,” Ms. Kengmeni says.

This year, Christmas break involves running around to pack for Chris’s semester abroad and attending three Christmas Masses, but the family is grateful to be all together, even if it’s for just a few days. They know they are the lucky ones.

Forty percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded or co-founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Watching Ella, Chris and Xaviera, I’d bet good money that they will join those ranks of these world-class leaders. But the question I find myself asking as I leave their school: Who are the young women the Trump administration is currently keeping out?

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

 

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

Phillip Pullella reports for HuffPost:


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

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

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

PWS

12-26-17

ANDREW SULLIVAN IN NY MAGGIE: Congrats, Vladimir, On A Spectacular First Year In Our White House! – You Achieved More Toward The Destruction of Liberal Western Democracy Than All Of Your Soviet Predecessors Put Together!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/12/andrew-sullivan-putins-first-year-in-the-white-house.html

Sullivan writes:

“What are we to make of Vladimir Putin’s first year in the White House? How has he done?

I’m only slightly kidding. Or rather I’m just channeling a CNN interview earlier this week with James Clapper, former director of National Intelligence. Here’s what Clapper said: “I think this past weekend is illustrative of what a great case officer Vladimir Putin is. He knows how to handle an asset, and that’s what he’s doing with the president […] You have to remember Putin’s background. He’s a KGB officer. That’s what they do. They recruit assets. And I think some of that experience and instincts of Putin has come into play here in his managing of a pretty important account for him, if I could use that term, with our president.”

Clapper clarified his statement by saying he was being figurative, rather than literal. So let’s just ask a figurative question, shall we? How successful has the Kremlin’s figurative investment been this past year? Pretty damn impressive.

Look first at Putin’s domestic goals. His core concern, as with any despot, is the legitimacy of his pseudo-democratic autocracy – which means, in turn, discrediting the very different features of the liberal democracies of the West. And in this, he must be scarcely able to believe his luck. After decades of the West’s championing of liberal democracy, the American president has spent his first year attacking it. Trump has exhibited contempt for a free press, describing the bulk of Western journalism as “fake news,” words that have gladdened the hearts of dictators across the planet. He has minimized Putin’s assassination of critical journalists, saying that America has no moral standing to criticize. He has treated the judiciary either as instruments of loyalty — hence his packing of the federal bench — or as pests to be slandered or dismissed. He prefers total loyalty from law-enforcement officials to the actual rule of law. For good measure, Trump has legitimized Putin’s core model of governance — that of a benevolent cult hero of the nation, shored up by religious reactionaries — by plagiarizing it. As for the other critical aspect of Putinism — the looting of the treasury by oligarchs — I give you the latest tax bill. It even carves out special goodies for real-estate investors.

Then there is Russia’s permanent interest in deepening the racial and partisan divides in America — the better to force the United States to be more concerned with internal strife than with foreign affairs. On this, Putin’s success is even more impressive. What better propaganda could the Kremlin get than the Charlottesville horrors, the racial divide crippling the NFL, or the candidacy of Roy Moore? In the Cold War, the Kremlin constantly cited America’s racial strife as proof that, whatever its democratic pretensions, the country was still a bastion of white supremacy. Now, much of American academia and an entire rising generation agree with what the Soviets long argued. As for the stability and legitimacy of liberal capitalism, Putin could scarcely do better than the GOP tax proposal. When economic inequality is at record highs, undermining the social compact that undergirds capitalism, the GOP is making things far worse. It would also add well over a trillion dollars to the U.S. debt. Trump is not just looting the Treasury for himself and his buddies, he is looting the younger generation as well.

Internationally, Putin has had an even bigger year. One of his central goals — the disintegration of the European Union and the entire concept of the West — has been advanced by Washington in ways never seen before. Trump backed Brexit, breaking the U.K. away from its European partners; he supported Marine Le Pen in France for the same reason; and he has routinely lambasted Merkel, whose power is now hanging by a thread. He chose Poland, where an authoritarian party is busy dismantling judicial independence, as the site for his major foreign-policy address. He has permanently undermined the core Article 5 commitment that an attack on one NATO country is an attack on all of them, by being the first U.S. president to equivocate on it. America has also broken with its European allies by withdrawing from the Paris Accords on climate, threatening the Iran nuclear deal, and backing the ethno-nationalist extremists who now run Israel on the status of Jerusalem. Last week, the U.S. found itself utterly isolated at the U.N. on the question, and openly threatening all its allies with payback. In the Middle East, Russia has never been stronger — it is now the key player in the future of Syria, while Putin’s naked annexation of Crimea and sections of eastern Ukraine remains in place, unmentioned by the White House.

What more could Putin ask for? Well, he could hope that his grotesque attack on the last U.S. election would lead to no serious effort to prevent it happening again. And lo, an American president has emphatically refused to lift a finger to defend the Constitution he is duty bound to protect. There’s been no attempt by the White House to protect the integrity of our elections — just a constant disdain for those who worry about them, and a general, somewhat egregious, complacency.

No American president in history has ever given Russia so much in so short a time. Congrats, Vladimir. You’ve achieved what no Soviet dictator ever managed to. Your asset in the White House, figurative or not, has given more than all the British and American traitors in the history of the Cold War.”

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The Trump Administration is a clear and present danger to the safety and security of the United States of America.

PWS

12-24-17

 

9th Blasts Trump Again In (Mostly Symbolic) Rejection Of Travel Ban 3.0 – Expect The Supremes Eventually To Hand a Victory To Trump On This One!

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-third-travel-ban-appeals-court_us_5a3da390e4b06d1621b461cc

 

Dan Levine reports for Reuters:

“Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Friday said President Donald Trump’s hotly contested travel ban targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries should not be applied to people with strong U.S. ties.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers several West Coast states, also said its ruling would be put on hold pending a decision on the latest version of the travel ban from the Trump administration by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Since taking office in January, Trump has been struggling to enact a ban that passes court muster.

A three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit narrowed a previous injunction from a lower federal court to those people “with a credible bona fide relationship with the United States.”

It also said that while the U.S. president has broad powers to regulate the entry of immigrants into the United States, those powers are not without limits.

“We conclude that the President’s issuance of the Proclamation once again exceeds the scope of his delegated authority,” the panel said.

The ban targets people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen seeking to enter the United States. The Republican president has said the travel ban is needed to protect the United States from terrorism.

The state of Hawaii, however, challenged it in court, and a Honolulu federal judge said it exceeded Trump’s powers under immigration law.

Trump’s ban also covers people from North Korea and certain government officials from Venezuela, but the lower courts had already allowed those provisions to go into effect.

The same three judge 9th Circuit panel, which limited a previous version of Trump’s ban, heard arguments earlier this month. Some of the judges appeared more cautious toward the idea of blocking the president’s policy.

Trump issued his first travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries in January, which caused chaos at airports and mass protests.

He issued a revised one in March after the first was blocked by federal courts.

That expired in September after a long court fight, and was replaced with the current version.

The ban has some exceptions. Certain people from each targeted country can still apply for a visa for tourism, business or education purposes, and any applicant can ask for an individual waiver.

U.S. Justice Department officials were not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Tom Brown)”

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I think the result here is largely a symbolic protest against Trump by the 9th Circuit. The court stayed it’s own order, pending inevitable Supreme Court review; therefore, the ruling changes nothing.

But, in reality, although going through the motions of pressing the lower courts to rule, it appears that the  majority of the Supremes have already decided Travel Ban 3.0 in favor of the Trump Administration. Otherwise, the Supreme’s recent decision to stay the lower court injunctions pending review would fall somewhere between inexplicable to indefensible on the scale of judicial conduct. Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissented from the lifting of the stay. Therefore, I would expect a “split decision,” with the Administration’s margin of victory to be in the range of 5-4 to 7-2.

 

PWS

12-24-17

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S “CHRISTMAS GIFT” TO VULNERABLE FAMILIES: MORE WANTON CRUELTY: “You think your native country is cruel? America is even crueller.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/exactly-how-cruel-is-homeland-security/2017/12/23/6ecdf1c2-e74d-11e7-a65d-1ac0fd7f097e_story.html

From the Washington Post Editorial Board:

“FAMILIES AND unaccompanied children detained at the Mexican border are often fleeing horrific conditions in Central American countries, especially El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where violent gangs, drug trafficking and rampant criminality contribute to some of the world’s highest murder rates. Now the Trump administration, alarmed at the recent surge in border crossers, is considering a new strategy to deter them. The message: “You think your native country is cruel? America is even crueller.”

That’s the logic behind a proposal under consideration by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that would try to discourage migrant families from crossing the border by threatening to separate parents from their children when they are taken into custody in the United States.

Until now, that approach has been beyond the pale for U.S. officials, who rejected it as inhumane and coldhearted in the extreme, given the trauma it would inflict on children, who by definition are innocent.

If Ms. Nielsen gives the green light to break up migrant families, many of whom have plausible asylum claims, she would be responsible for a policy whose heartlessness would rival that of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the forcible internment of some 110,000 U.S. citizens and noncitizens of Japanese descent during World War II. Four decades after that act of mass inhumanity, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation formally apologizing for it.

Arrests by the Border Patrol plummeted after Mr. Trump took office nearly a year ago, reflecting a decline in illegal border crossing driven at least partly by the president’s aggressive anti-immigrant rhetoric. Despite that, detentions began climbing again in the spring — mainly of families and solo children. And in November, more than 7,000 “family units” were taken into custody at the border, a 45 percent surge compared with October; in the same month, the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border shot up by a quarter.

U.S. officials are correct that those families take tremendous risks, often at the hands of coldblooded smugglers who guide them north to the border. They are also justified in wanting to discourage migrants from undertaking the journey, in which ransom, rape and other forms of abuse are rampant.

The right way to do that is not to double down on the cruelty with which those families already contend by tearing children from their parents’ arms. What’s more, it is unlikely to work in the case of families and children who flee their native countries in fear for their lives.

Heedless of horrendous conditions in Central America, the Trump administration cynically believes border-crossing families are trying to game America’s system, with its years-long backlog in immigration courts and legal protections that allow many people to live and work freely while they await adjudication of their cases. In fact, many have legitimate asylum claims based on the threats they face in their home countries, and all are entitled to due process.

The idea of wrenching children from their families was first entertained in March by then-Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, now the White House chief of staff, who said the minors would be “well cared for as we deal with their parents.” Has a U.S. official ever issued a more chilling “assurance”?”

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On the eve of the day when the world’s Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, I find it ironic that we have a President who uses “Merry Christmas” as an “in your face” insult to followers of other religions and atheists, yet with every day in office moves us further and further as a nation away from the humane, compassionate values and teachings of Jesus.

Indeed, were Christ to return to earth today, he would most certainly be found among the vulnerable and downtrodden known as “undocumented migrants” or among those assisting them. He would never walk among the Pharisees such as Trump, Sessions, and Pence. The undocumented are truly the “children of God;” Trump and his followers, not so much.

PWS

12-24-17