Mike DeBonis reports in the Washington Post:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Read the rest of the article at the link.

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

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

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





Elise Foley and Willa Frej report for HuffPost:

“WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump gave a series of conflicting statements on Thursday about how he hopes to deal with young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, muddying the waters over whether he will support their bid to gain eventual citizenship and whether he will demand a border wall in exchange.

Trump’s comments, made both to reporters and on Twitter, came after leading Democrats in Congress said they had reached an informal deal with the president on legislation to help so-called Dreamers, or undocumented young people who entered the country as children.

Last week, Trump put the fates of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers up in the air by rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which granted two-year work permits and deportation relief.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Wednesday that they had reached an agreement with Trump to tie measures to grant Dreamers legal status to border security measures, but not to a wall. They said Trump had made clear he would continue to demand a wall, and that they had told him they would oppose it.

Trump denied that a deal had been made, although he initially did not dispute key details of what the Democrats had said. But later, he said Dreamers’ fates would be tied to the construction of a border wall, even if it’s not part of legislation that addresses Dreamers.

“We have to be sure the wall isn’t obstructed, because without the wall, I wouldn’t do anything. … It doesn’t have to be here but they can’t obstruct the wall if it’s in a budget or anything else,” Trump told reporters in Florida, according to a pool report.

He added that he would “only do it if we get extreme security, not only surveillance but everything that goes with surveillance,” Trump said. “If there’s not a wall, we’re doing nothing.”

The president also created more confusion by suggesting that he might not support allowing Dreamers to eventually gain citizenship. That would destroy any hope of a deal with Democrats, who want Trump to support the Dream Act, which would allow undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children to eventually become citizens.

“We’re not looking at citizenship,” he said. “We’re not looking at amnesty. We’re looking at allowing people to stay here.”

That doesn’t necessarily preclude eventually supporting Dream Act-style measures, however. The bill would not grant citizenship immediately; it would allow Dreamers to gain legal status that would make them eligible for eventual citizenship ― so there’s potential that Trump could eventually back such measures and still claim they were not the “amnesty” he opposes.

Earlier on Thursday, Trump said in a series of tweets that any deal on Dreamers would be contingent on “massive border security,” although he didn’t specify that it had to include a wall. He added that the wall is “already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls” and would proceed.”


And, the beat goes on! I knew that sanity couldn’t last long in the “Age of Trump.”



BREAKING: “GONZO APOCALYPTO” IS POLITICAL POINT MAN FOR ENDING DACA — TRUMP HIDES DURING ANNOUNCEMENT — AG Doesn’t Know Enough Law To Defend African American Voters Or American Kids — Other AGs Able To Do Both — Time For A “Competency Check?”


David Nakamura reports for the Washington Post:

“In announcing the decision at the Justice Department, Attorney General Sessions said that former president Barack Obama, who started the program in 2012 through executive action, “sought to achieve specifically what the legislative branch refused to do.”

He called it an “open-ended circumvention of immigration law through unconstitutional authority by the executive branch,” and said the program was unlikely to withstand court scrutiny.


The Department of Homeland Security said it would no longer accept new applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which has provided renewable, two-year work permits to nearly 800,000 dreamers. The agency said those currently enrolled in DACA will be able to continue working until their permits expire; those whose permits expire by March 5, 2018, will be permitted to apply for two-year renewals as long as they do so by Oct. 5.

New applications and renewal requests already received by DHS before Tuesday will be reviewed and validated on a case-by-case basis, even those for permits that expire after March 5, officials said.

Trump administration officials cast the decision as a humane way to unwind the program and called on lawmakers to provide a legislative solution to address the immigration status of the dreamers. Senior DHS officials emphasized that if Congress fails to act and work permits begin to expire, dreamers will not be high priorities for deportations — but they would be issued notices to appear at immigration court if they are encountered by federal immigration officers.

. . . .

Sessions wrote a memo Monday calling DACA unconstitutional, leading acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke to issue a memo Tuesday to phase out the program. The decision came on the day set by Texas and several other states to pursue a lawsuit against the Trump administration if it did not terminate DACA.

It is unclear whether the states will still move forward with legal action.

“As a result of recent litigation,” Duke said in a statement, “we were faced with two options: wind the program down in an orderly fashion that protects beneficiaries in the near-term while working with Congress to pass legislation; or allow the judiciary to potentially shut the program down completely and immediately. We chose the least disruptive option.”

. . . .

The fight now could shift to Congress to act on a bill to grant permanent legal status to the dreamers. A bill called the Dream Act that would have offered them a path to citizenship failed in the Senate in 2010. Several new proposals have been put forward, including the Bridge Act, a bipartisan bill with 25 co-sponsors that would allow extend DACA protections for three years to give Congress time to enact permanent legislation.

But the White House and conservative Republicans could hold out for additional provisions to boost border security, such as funding for Trump’s proposed border wall or new measures to restrict legal immigration.

If DACA is shuttered next year, more than 1,000 immigrants stand to lose their work permits each day once the program is rescinded, according to a recent study by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. Business leaders from major companies, including Apple, Facebook and Google, had lobbied the White House not to terminate the program, citing the economic consequences.”

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

Gee, advance concern that a Federal Court might shut down a program is a new one for Gonzo and the Trumpsters. Didn’t seem to inhibit him from arguing some pretty off the wall positions in defense of the Travel Ban, Sanctuary Cities, or why the Voting Rights Act doesn’t protect voting rights.

And we all know how statements like “they aren’t an enforcement priority” work out in practice. The majority of this Administration’s removals are folks who aren’t “priorities.”

And, notably, neither Kelly nor Duke at DHS had the courage and backbone to rein in arbitrary, wasteful enforcement by immigration agents. So, in the end, it makes no difference what the DHS “fake priorities” are; the line agents will bust anybody the feel like busting — because they can. And, after all, busting law abiding members of the community, often when they show up at DHS to check in or seek relief, is easier than tracking down real criminals. Makes the numbers look good, particularly when you obscure the fact that behind each number is a human face that belongs to a real person. Mostly ordinary people, just like the rest of us.

Also, sticking them on the already overwhelmed Immigration Court dockets without some realistic court reform aimed at restoring due process and wise use of “prosecutorial discretion” to keep cases exactly like the Dreamers off the court dockets? It’s “gonzo!” Big time!

There was a time when the Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Justice stood up for justice for all Americans, including the most vulnerable. But, that was then, this is now. Liz was “right on.”



N. RAPPAPORT IN THE HILL: Alternatives To The Border Wall!


Nolan writes in his latest article:

“The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 established a legalization program for undocumented aliens already in the United States and created employer sanctions to discourage employers from hiring undocumented aliens in the future.

That was 30 years ago, and the program still has not been fully implemented. It might be better to let the Department of Labor (DOL) deal with the job magnet.

Many American employers hire undocumented foreign workers because it is easy to exploit them. DOL enforces federal labor laws that were enacted to curb such abuses, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act which established a minimum wage, overtime pay, and other employment standards.

With additional funding, DOL could mount a large-scale, nationwide campaign to stop the exploitation of employees in industries known to hire large numbers of undocumented aliens, without basing the fines on the immigration status of the employees.

In contrast with Trump, President Obama focused his immigration enforcement program on aliens who had been convicted of serious crimes, had been caught near the border after an illegal entry, or had returned unlawfully after being deported.

Once an undocumented alien had succeeded in reaching the interior of the country, he was “home free.” It was extremely unlikely that he would be deported unless he was convicted of a serious crime. This was a powerful incentive to find a way to get past security measures on the border.

No deportable alien is safe from deportation under Trump’s enforcement policies.

This produced results very quickly. In April 2017, CBP reported a sharp decline in the number of aliens apprehended while making illegal crossings.

But Trump has to implement his enforcement policies to keep the magnet from coming back and he could benefit from implementing expedited removal proceedings.

As of the June 2017, the immigrant court’s backlog was 610,524 cases. This severely limited efforts to remove deportable aliens.

President Trump finessed his way around this problem by expanding the use of expedited removal proceedings in his Executive Order, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements.

In expedited removal proceedings, which are conducted by immigration officers, an alien who lacks proper documentation or has committed fraud or a willful misrepresentation to enter the country, and has not been physically present for two years, can be deported without a hearing before an immigration judge, unless he establishes a credible fear of persecution.

Trump needs funding to be able to carry out a large-scale, nationwide program of expedited removal proceedings.

These measures would reduce the number of people trying to make illegal crossings, making border security much easier to achieve, even without his promised wall.”


Go on over to The Hill to read Nolan’s complete analysis.

I agree with Nolan and many in Congress that the border wall will be an ineffective waste of money. And, in the liteny of Trump lies, it has become clear that “Mexico will pay” is just another whopper.

I also agree with Nolan that more funding for Fair Labor Standards Act enforcement is a good idea. However, the Trump Administration is moving the other way on all regulatory enforcement except immigration.

I would oppose funding for expedited removal. I believe it is a clear denial of due process, particularly as carried out by this Administration. I recognize that to date most Federal Courts have taken a “head in the sand” approach to the serious constitutional issues raised by expedited removal.  But, I think that as Trump pushes the envelope the courts will eventually have to face up to the total lack of due process and safeguards in the current system.

In any event, whether expedited removal is unconstitutional or not, it’s bad policy. It should be rescinded, not expanded.





CNN’S TAL KOPAN: Meet New Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke


Tal writes:

“Washington (CNN)With Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly being tapped as President Donald Trump’s new White House chief of staff, leadership of the agency responsible for protecting the nation at home will fall to Elaine Duke, the deputy secretary.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, Kelly will remain the secretary until Monday, and then Duke will take over in an acting capacity.
The longtime veteran of government brings an expertise in business management and government acquisition to the role, with many of her past positions focused on the operational side of the bureaucracy.
Duke was sworn in as deputy secretary in April after a seven-year stint in the private sector. She was confirmed by the Senate on an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, 85-14.
“I am grateful to have this opportunity to further mature the Department and continue improving its efficiency and effectiveness,” Duke testified at her confirmation hearing for the deputy position. “If confirmed, I promise to lead DHS in enforcing the law with respect and integrity. I will be honest in my assessments and recommendations, and relentless in pursuing excellence. Such commitments are critical at this juncture in homeland security.”
Since taking office, Duke has taken a lead role in many of the agency’s priorities, including an effort to increase security on large electronics in carry-ons on airplanes traveling to the US.
A public servant for nearly three decades, Duke spent the last eight years of her tenure with government at DHS, serving in a Senate-confirmed position as undersecretary for management from 2008 to 2010.
After working at DHS, she worked as the principal of Elaine Duke & Associates, described in her DHS bio as an acquisition and business consulting firm.
During her tenure at DHS, Duke worked in management and as chief procurement officer. She also worked in acquisition at the Transportation Security Administration. She took on that role less than a year after the September 11 attacks, according to an older speaker’s biography.
Duke also worked at the Department of Defense before she arrived at DHS.
She went to New Hampshire College for her undergraduate degree in business and received an MBA from Chaminade University of Honolulu.
According to DHS, she has received many honors during her public service career, including the Presidential Meritorious Rank Award, the DHS Secretary’s Medal, the TSA Silver Medal for Customer Service, the Department of the Army Commander’s Award for Public Service, and the Coast Guard’s Distinguished Public Service Medal.
Duke is married and has two sons, according to her Senate testimony.”
Duke looks like a total pro. And, it appears that, barring something unusual happening (which might be the norm in this Administration), she will be around until at least next year, even if she doesn’t get the nod for the Secretary appointment.
But, General Kelly also looked and sounded like a pro until his confirmation hearing was over. Then, Kelly bought into and carried out the zany max enforcement, minimum judgment, waste of resources White Nationalist immigration program of Sessions, Bannon, Miller, and ultimately Trump. In other words, he was unwilling or unable to stand up for smart and humane enforcement that could benefit the country and stop the waste of taxpayer dollars.
Duke has one thing going for her that Kelly didn’t: she is familiar with the formidable DHS bureaucracy and how to actually get things done. Notwithstanding his credentials, Kelly appeared afraid to “just say no” to the demands of some (but by no means all) DHS agents for unlimited discretion for “gonzo” enforcement. Presumably, Duke is no stranger to the concept that line agents should carry out policies (and have their views considered, among others, in determining policies), not “make them up as they go along.”
Will Duke continue the “gonzo” policy of overloading the already overwhelmed U.S. Immigration Courts and stripping DHS prosecutors of discretion to help manage dockets? Or, will she take responsibility for establishing rational Immigration Court filings by DHS and restore needed ability to exercise prosecutorial discretion to the Assistant Chief Counsel?
We’ll see what happens.

THE GUARDIAN: HUMAN TRAFFICKERS LOVE TRUMP & “GONZO APOCALYPTO” SESSIONS — HERE’S WHY! –Trump’s crackdown “a gift to human traffickers!”


Tom Dart reports from Houston:

“Donald Trump’s immigration policies are likely to encourage migrants to risk more dangerous routes into the US, like the journey which this week ended with the death of ten people in a sweltering truck, border security experts have warned.

Dozens of people from Mexico and Central America were found packed into a non-air-conditioned cargo container in a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio at about 12.30am last Sunday.

The deaths are thought to have been caused by heat exposure, dehydration and suffocation. About 30 people were hospitalised.

Days later, at least four people – including two children – drowned trying to cross the swollen Rio Grande near El Paso.

As part of its campaign to crackdown on undocumented migration, the Trump administration wants to force so-called “sanctuary cities” to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, beef up frontier security and surveillance, and – eventually – build a wall along the border with Mexico.

But Alonzo Peña, a former deputy director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice), said simplistic strategies would not deter people desperate to join family or seek a better life. Instead, closing off simpler routes would prompt migrants to attempt more dangerous crossings.

“I call it an unfortunate collateral consequence,” he said. “They will put themselves in the hands of unscrupulous criminals that see them as just a commodity.”

Asked if a wall would help, Peña, now a consultant in San Antonio, said: “Absolutely not – it probably will contribute to more tragedies.”

He said building better binational relationships, encouraging information-sharing and more use of informants were key to breaking up networks of smugglers and traffickers.

In recent years, stepped-up frontier security has meant that smuggling activities once orchestrated by small, loosely organised enterprises are being run by bigger, more ruthless and profit-oriented criminal gangs with indirect links to drug cartels.

Packing many people into a truck is a profitable strategy for such smugglers. A large vehicle is a better hiding place than smaller alternatives and reduces the number of trips, making evading detection more likely at busy interior US Border Patrol checkpoints placed along highways near the frontier.

“The policies to enforce the border have the unintended consequence of strengthening transnational smuggling networks and the connection of business with transnational criminal organisations. There’s money there,” said Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, an associate professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley who studies migration and trafficking. “You are increasing the incentives for corruption on both sides of the border.”

. . . .

Texas this year passed a law banning so-called sanctuary cities – places that offer little or no cooperation with federal immigration agents. “Border security will help prevent this Texas tragedy,” John Cornyn, a US senator from Texas, wrote on Twitter.

But critics say that such enforcement does nothing to remove the “push factors” behind migration from Mexico and Central America, such as the lack of economic opportunity and violence by street gangs, security forces and crime groups.

A report published in March by the risk analysts Verisk Maplecroft termed Trump’s crackdown “a gift to human traffickers” by driving undocumented workers in the US deeper into the shadows, while a wall “would increase criminal trafficking fees, leaving migrants more deeply mired in debt and vulnerable to exploitation”.

But even this week’s deaths would not curtail demand, Correa-Cabrera said.

“They will still take trucks. They have been taking the journey and nothing has stopped them,” she said. “How many women are willing to take the journey even though they know there is a very high possibility of being raped?”


Folks are going to keep coming and keep dying until we make the needed, realistic changes to our legal immigration system. The smugglers will up their profits and expand their operations, making and taking more money than ever from already stressed individuals seeking to come. And the bodies will continue to pile up as a testament to the failed White Nationalist agenda of Trump and Sessions.

What “gonzo enforcement” has done, however, is to cut or eliminate the incentive for folks to use the legal system by coming to the border and presenting themselves for protection or by turning themselves in to the Border Patrol. Knowing that their rights under the law and as human beings will not be respected by the likes of Trump, Sessions, and Kelly’s replacement will merely put more individuals at the mercy of the smugglers. The smugglers are likely to get so good that we won’t have the faintest idea anymore how many forks are coming without documents until they wind up dead in a parking lot or a field. And, I suppose that CBP will come up with some formula like “for every dead body we figure there are 1,000 who made it into the interior.”





Tal reports:

“Washington (CNN)Construction on prototypes for President Donald Trump’s long-promised border wall has been delayed until winter at the earliest after bidders who were passed over filed protests about the decision, according to an update obtained by CNN.

The delay pushes back construction of the potential wall designs months beyond when the administration had hoped to break ground. The plan had originally been to build in June, and in recent weeks the Department of Homeland Security has insisted it was still on track to begin work on prototypes this summer.
But according to a memo sent out by the Customs and Border Protection legislative affairs office, obtained by CNN, two companies that were not selected to be finalists — who then were asked to submit more detailed proposals — filed a total of four protests of the process. While two of the protests, from WNIS, were dismissed, two from Penna Group are still under review and won’t be decided until October, the update said.
That sets the earliest that prototype construction could begin for November, to be completed by early December. That’s if no further protests are filed and if the original protests are dismissed, the update notes, and acknowledges that protests are a common part of government contracting.
CBP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The news comes as the House is set to vote Thursday night on a security funding package that would include money to build new border wall next fiscal year, though Democrats in the Senate have signaled they will oppose any such effort.
Since Congress has yet to appropriate any money for Trump’s signature campaign pledge, the prototypes have been the only step the administration has been able to take in executing Trump’s vision.”
Gee whiz, this Government contracting process seems to be more complicated than Trump thought. Maybe he should just have Jared build the wall.
Many thanks to the always wonderful Tal Kopan for the “early scoop” on this.


House Appropriations Adds 65 New U.S. Immigration Judge Positions!

According to Congressional Quarterly, on July 14, 2017, the House Appropriations committee voted to add 65 new U.S. Immigration Judge positions to the DOJ’s FY 2018 spending bill.




http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jul/7/illegal-immigration-spikes-Sstephen DinNalong-us-mexico-border/

Stephen Din an reports in the Washington Times:

“Illegal immigration across the Southwest border rose yet again in June, according to the latest Homeland Security figures released Friday that show a noticeable jump over the last two months.

Border Patrol agents nabbed 16,089 illegal immigrants trying to sneak in, while Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers identified another 5,570 illegal immigrants who showed up without authorization at the ports of entry.

The combined 21,659 illegal immigrants are still the lowest numbers for June in years, but the spike is worrisome because illegal immigration generally begins to slow in the summer months. Indeed, the last four years saw an average drop of 10 percent in Border Patrol apprehensions in June — but this year saw an 11 percent rise.

The number of illegal immigrant children and families also rose sharply. Unaccompanied children spiked 31 percent in June compared to May, and the total number of people coming as families shot up a stunning 47 percent last month.

The numbers could end up spurring action on President Trump’s border wall, which had been attacked as unnecessary earlier this year as the numbers of those attempting to cross the border plunged to 40-year lows.

Experts say the number of people caught is a rough yardstick of how many people are trying to cross, so a rise in apprehensions signals a rise in the overall level of illegal immigration.”


Read the complete article at the link.

Always risky to break into the “victory dance” in the first inning. Just ask George W. Bush about premature declarations of victory. And, the idea that a border wall (even one lined with solar panels) will stem the tide: pretty ridiculous.



POLITICS: WASHPOST OPINION: Harvard’s Danielle Allen Has Some Advice For Dems!


Allen writes:

“By now, we should all be bored to death with despairing Democrats’ decrying the non-appeal of their “brand.” If they remembered that we were citizens, not consumers, they might bother to develop some ideas and propose to lead us somewhere, anywhere. Perhaps the anti-Trump resistance could tackle the challenge of building a positive vision. “Resist and rebuild” might be the mantra.

The original Independence Day was one of construction. By July 4, work on the Articles of Confederation and state constitutions was already well advanced. Maybe the thing to do is have a competition. Hear ye, hear ye, all Americans, what do you think Democrats should be trying to achieve? Submit your ideas!

I, for one, would love to see somebody stand up on some platform somewhere and say something like the following:

We are better than this, America. Better than this division, disdain and despair. We will chase away the clouds and let the sun shine through. The sun of honor and truth. The sun of freedom, fairness and equality.

We will connect, empower and emancipate Americans.

How? By transforming transportation, housing, criminal justice and health care.

We will get our fiscal house in order — achieving a new social contract across generations to rebalance Social Security and Medicare. With our own resources — and without Saudi infrastructure investments being arranged at the same moment that sales of arms to the kingdom are being hammered out — we’ll rebuild our transportation infrastructure. We’ll reconnect rural America to mobility and break the grip of deadening traffic on the lives of urban and suburban residents. By banishing remoteness, we’ll restore opportunity. With less time in cars, we’ll have more time for neighbors; parents will have more time for kids.

We will tackle the true housing crisis: the high cost of rent and the limited availability of affordable housing in places where there is economic opportunity. While real estate developers get rich on the tax treatment of commercial real estate losses, ordinary Americans keep taking hits. We will address underwater mortgages that continue to trap people in undesirable situations and make moving a threat to one’s retirement. An America on the move is an America empowered, firing up engines of opportunity now stalled out.

We will end the war on drugs, build universal health care and reinvest in education. Criminal justice isn’t the tool for the problem of addiction. Health care is. We can and should fight high-level traffickers, but we should emancipate those who suffer from addiction, by calling on the blessings of medicine. We can and should rally the international community against international trafficking, but we must emancipate young people entrapped as low-level employees in international cartels’ predatory distribution systems. They need pathways out — through education and jobs. And we must emancipate communities of color from mass incarceration’s devastation. We must liberalize our drug laws at last.

The time has also come for universal health care. Where Medicaid has expanded, states are better able to fight opioid addiction. When children go to school healthy, they learn better. As Thomas Paine, author of “Common Sense,” argued, everyone needs a starting kit for life. Congress has proved that our health-care system is a mess — too complicated, too byzantine — for any group of 535 honorable women and men to sort out. Let’s make it simple. Forty percent of the nation’s children are already on Medicaid. We can offer Medicaid to all.

With Medicaid for all, we can secure what most of us now recognize as a basic right: routine access to modern medicine. This should be, for all Americans, like access to our highway system. Sure, some will use toll roads for a superior journey. But the road to good health should be open to all. Empowered with a strong foundation of health and education, all Americans will at last have a shot at the American dream.

America is woven of many strands: religious and secular; black, brown and white; male, female; gay, trans and straight; rural and urban. We would recognize it and let it so remain. We will connect, empower and emancipate all Americans, new and old, the sons and daughters of ancestors who have been here for generations, the sons and daughters of those just arrived.

We ask in return that you begin to speak to each other again with civility and decency, whether online or off, and in the expectation of securing goodwill from one another. We didn’t get to be the richest, freest country in the world on a fuel of mutual disdain. What we have we’ve built with the mutual respect that makes working together possible. We ask that all Americans aspire to prove themselves trustworthy to one another, to stand beside each other, and to hope to guide one another generously, in a spirit of equality, upholding justice for all, with the grace of Lady Liberty.

We will also ask Americans to welcome a set number of new immigrants every year and another set number cycling through on work permits. We will bring order to our immigration system. But remember this: Families coming from distant lands seek us out because we are the country of good hope. This is our pride and joy. To see that hope reflected in the faces of newcomers is an honor indeed. By asking for entrance, new immigrants tell us that we have done well. We have built something of value to all humankind.

Connect. Empower. Emancipate. This is what we will do for the American people. This is what we ask you, the American people, to do for yourselves. Connect. Empower. Emancipate.

We will banish the dark. We will again lift the lamp of human dignity.”


I wonder how many times the word “dark” has been used to describe various aspects of the Trump Administration?



CNN’S TAL KOPAN: Congress “Stonewalls” Trump’s Wall!


Tal reports:

“Washington (CNN)Building a border wall remains a stated top priority for President Donald Trump, but thus far he has precious little to show for it.

That’s largely because when Congress appropriated money earlier this year to fund the government, opposition from Democrats and some Republicans alike left the administration empty handed in terms of funding any new construction.
Trump’s Department of Homeland Security did get permission to reassign $20 million to fund prototypes for wall construction as well as new money for technology, maintenance and hiring for Border Patrol.
But the biggest thing Trump wants remains the biggest thing Democrats want to deny him — the ability to point at a structure and say: Here is the wall.
Multiple sources familiar with negotiations for both the fiscal year 2017 budget and 2018 cycle say that the White House did mobilize behind the wall — putting it in their proposed budget and having representatives like Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly stump for it.
But Democrats from the outset threatened that inclusion of wall money would be a deal breaker on the budget, which needs Democratic votes to pass, meaning the White House risked a government shutdown standoff on the President’s 100th day in office if it forged ahead.
Ultimately, the White House accepted a budget deal that did not include the wall.
“Their priorities were made known, obviously,” said a House GOP aide, who requested anonymity to speak freely. But, the aide added, there was also an awareness that a second chance at money would be coming up this fall.
“I didn’t get the impression that they were deeply disappointed or unhappy,” the aide said of the White House. “I think they realized the situation and will continue to work toward to getting more money.”
Negotiations are well underway for the next chance, in the budget for fiscal year 2018.
But it’s an open question whether the administration will push Congress harder on getting money for the wall after caving on the signature campaign pledge this spring. The dynamics of the situation haven’t changed to give the White House any more leverage.
Already, Democrats have again signaled that a wall is a no-go. In a letter this week to their Republican counterparts, the top Senate Democrats in leadership and the Appropriations committee laid out their red lines.
“We are once again concerned with the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 request for a very expensive, ineffective new wall along the southern border with Mexico,” the Democrats wrote.
And other barriers in Congress remain. Border state lawmakers of both parties are largely against a massive wall in their districts, preferring technology and smart infrastructure. Even without Democratic support, it’s unclear if Republicans have the votes among themselves to move forward with a wall.”
Read Tal’s entire article at the above link.
We arrived in Washington, D.C. in the “Watergate Summer” of 1973. “Stonewall” was one of the great adjectives used during Watergate to describe efforts by the Nixon Administration to undermine and resist the various Watergate investigations. It remains vibrant and relevant 44 summers later!
Gee, I thought that Mexico was going to pay for “The Wall.”

BREAKING: NPR’s Beth Fertig Exposes Administration’s Immigration Court Due Process Disaster — Taxpayers Billed For Sending Judges To Hustle Detainees Through Court Without Lawyers, Leaving More Represented Cases At Home To Rot! — Backlogs Mushroom As Administration Plays Games With Human Lives!


Fertig reports:

“In the middle of May, paper notices were posted on the walls of the federal building in lower Manhattan announcing the absence of several immigration judges. Some were out for a week or two, while others were away for six weeks. The flyers said their cases would be rescheduled.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review, which runs the immigration courts, would not comment on the judges’ whereabouts. It cited the confidentiality of personnel matters. But after WNYC asked about these missing judges, many of the paper notices were taken off the walls of the 12th and 14th floors, where hearings are held in small courtrooms.

It’s no secret that President Donald Trump’s administration has been redeploying judges to detention centers near the southern border to speed up the processing of cases. After contacting numerous immigration attorneys down south, as well as retired judges and others, WNYC was able to crowdsource the judges’ locations. At least eight of New York City’s 29 immigration judges had been sent to Texas and Louisiana since March to conduct hearings in person or by video. Six judges were out for different parts of the month of May, alone.


The federal building is home to the nation’s busiest immigration court, with a backlog of 80,000 cases. By redeploying so many judges in such a short period of time, immigration lawyers fear the delays will grow even longer. Meanwhile, attorneys near the border question whether these extra judges are even necessary.

Among other matters, judges at detention courts are supposed to hear cases involving people who crossed the border illegally. Yet those numbers have declined since Trump took office. That’s why local attorneys are cynical about the surge.

“I don’t really think that they need all these judges,” said Ken Mayeaux, an immigration lawyer in Baton Rouge.

Mayeaux said what’s really needed there are more immigration attorneys. As federal agents arrest an increasing number of immigrants who are already in the U.S. without legal status, they’re sending them to southern detention centers that are pretty isolated. The ones in Oakdale and Jena, Louisiana, are hours west of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, where the vast majority of the state’s immigration advocates are concentrated, said Mayreaux.

“To ramp things up in one of the places that has the lowest representation rates in the United States, that’s a due process disaster,” he said.

Data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University confirms that immigrants may only wait a couple of months for their deportation case to be completed in these detention centers near the border. But in New York, the wait to see an immigration judge is 2.4 years.

So why move judges from a clogged and busy court system in New York to the border region, where immigration cases are already moving swiftly?

“In this particular instance, it’s a virtuous circle from the perspective of the administration,” explained Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge.

Arthur is a resident fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies. It’s a think tank that wants to limit immigration, though it’s been branded a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. During the Obama administration, Arthur said too many immigrants were let out of detention and waited years for their cases to be heard. He said moving more judges to the border will prevent that from happening.

“Because the quicker that you hear the cases the less likely that an individual is to be released,” Arthur said. “Therefore the less likely another group of individuals are to attempt to make the journey to the United States.”

Another former immigration judge, Paul Wickham Schmidt, said the Obama administration tried something similar by fast-tracking the cases of Central American migrants in 2014. But he said it wound up scrambling the judges’ dockets and was counterproductive. He was redeployed from his home court in Virginia and estimates he had to reschedule a hundred cases in a week.

“Nobody cares what’s happening on the home docket,” he said. “It’s all about showing presence on the border.”

Not all judges assigned to the border are physically present. Mana Yegani, an immigration lawyer in Houston, said she’s seen several judges — including a few from New York — at a detention center where cases are done by video teleconference.

“We never see the prosecutor’s face, it’s just a voice in the background,” she explained. “It’s just not a fair process for our clients and I don’t think the judges can be efficient the way they’re supposed to. They take an oath to be fair and to uphold the Constitution and due process, and I think the way the system is set up it really hinders that.”

A new audit of the immigration courts by the Government Accountability Office questioned whether video teleconferences have an impact on outcomes and said more data should be collected.

Some attorneys believe the reassignments are temporary to see if border crossings continue to ebb. The Executive Officer for Immigration Review won’t comment on that, but spokesman John Martin said the agency will hire 50 new judges and “plans to continue to advertise and fill positions nationwide for immigration judges and supporting staff.”

In the meantime, there’s no question that shifting judges away from New York is having an impact on real people.”


Read Beth’s entire article, including the story of one “real” asylum applicant waiting patiently for a hearing that almost didn’t happen.

The due process farce continues, at taxpayer expense, while the U.S. Immigration Courts are being treated as an enforcement arm of the DHS. Aimless Docket Reshuffling (“ADR”) denies due process at both the “sending courts” and “receiving courts.” When, if ever, will Congress or the Federal Courts step in and put an end to this travesty of justice and mockery of our constitutional requirement for due process! In the meantime, what’s happening in the Immigration Courts is a continuing national disgrace.




THE ATLANTIC: Priscilla Alvarez Gives The Real Scoop On Trump’s Failed Border Wall & Other Plans For Border Enforcement!



“Mick Mulvaney, the president’s budget director, said on Tuesday that the administration will replace segments of chain-link fencing with a 20-foot-tall steel fence along the southern border, despite Congress refusal to fund the president’s border wall in its spending bill.
Trump, for his part, has claimed that the administration is “beginning to build the wall,” which was a central plank of his presidential campaign, saying that “we’re putting up a lot of new wall in certain areas.” Mulvaney elaborated Tuesday that there is funding to “replace cyclone fencing with 20-foot high steel wall.” He declined repeated questions from White House reporters about where along the border the fencing would go, or how many miles it would cover.
He was apparently referring to a provision in the spending bill unveiled by Congress earlier this week, which falls well short of the president’s repeated pledges. The bill allocates a little more than $341 million “to replace approximately 40 miles of existing primary pedestrian and vehicle border fencing along the southwest border using previously deployed and operationally effective designs, such as currently deployed steel bollard designs, that prioritize agent safety; and to add gates to existing barriers.” According to a 2009 report by the Government Accountability Office, existing vehicle and pedestrian fencing along the border averaged somewhere between $1 and $3.9 million to erect. The budget allocation implies that replacing that fencing with a steel-bollard design would cost $8.5 million per mile.
In 2006, President George W. Bush authorized the construction of a 700-mile wall of double layer fencing under the Secure Fence Act. Still, to seal off the border entirely, the wall would have to extend roughly 2,000 miles. And that’s a costly endeavor. According to estimates by the Department of Homeland Security, the wall’s price tag could be as much as $21.6 billion.

So far, the administration has only secured funds to improve existing fencing. When pressed on whether that was the most effective way to spend funds, Mulvaney said, “There are certain places where technology will also help.” He also noted that constructing a wall along the entire southern border “is a several year process.”
Building a wall along the southern border is a difficult task, and that may be especially true for the administration as it tries to close off the border in new areas. Mulvaney suggested that the administration will also prepare  for land acquisition. During the Bush years, the administration focused on areas where most of the land belonged to the federal government, but along the Texas-Mexico border, much of  the land is private property, raising the issue of eminent domain. Republicans have expressed concerns over the use of eminent domain, which some argue is an example of big government overreach, setting up a whole separate challenge for the White House.”


Read Priscilla’s complete article at the link!  Trump just can’t admit that his really bad idea is — a really bad idea! And it’s not just Dems and advocates who think so!!



STONEWALLED!! — Congress Says “NO” To Trump’s Wall — Trims Back Requests For DHS Agents & Detention — Funds 10 New U.S. Immigration Judge Teams — Asks For 365 Day “Median” Court Case Cycle (Dream On, Dream On)!

Here’s the Section of the House Appropriations Committee Report relating to EOIR and the U.S. Immigration Courts:


                     (INCLUDING TRANSFER OF FUNDS)

    The Committee recommends $457,154,000 for the Executive 
Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), of which $4,000,000 is 
from immigration examination fees. The recommendation is 
$29,003,000 above the request. The recommendation will support 
25 additional immigration judge (IJ) teams. In addition, the 
recommendation includes a $1,706,000 program increase for the 
modernization of mission critical systems and a $5,727,000 
program increase for infrastructure improvements. The 
recommendation sustains the current legal orientation program 
and related assistance, such as the information desk pilot. The 
recommendation does not include any funding to establish or 
fund a legal representation program.
    Assuring immigration regulation helps optimize strong 
enforcement.--The Committee is concerned with the pace of 
hiring and onboarding Immigration Judges funded in fiscal years 
2015 and 2016, and expects the Department to accelerate the 
recruitment, background investigation and placement of IJ teams 
to areas that have the highest workload. The Committee is 
alarmed that despite the increased resources provided to EOIR 
in fiscal years 2015 and 2016, the median days pending for a 
detained immigration case is 71 days and the median days 
pending for a non-detained case is 665 days. While the 
Committee understands that factors outside the control of 
Immigration Judges can affect case length, these median case 
times are unacceptable. The Committee directs EOIR to establish 
a goal that by the end of the fiscal year 2017 the median days 
pending of detained cases be no longer than 60 days, and the 
median length for non-detained cases be no longer than 365 
days. To monitor the progress in this effort, the Committee 
directs EOIR to continue to provide monthly reporting on EOIR 
performance and IJ hiring as specified in the statement 
accompanying the fiscal year 2016 Omnibus Appropriation Act.
    Court space.--The recommendation fully funds the request 
for additional court infrastructure and expects EOIR to use 
these funds fully to ensure that additional IJ teams have the 
necessary court space. However, the Committee is concerned that 
EOIR is not using all available EOIR or Department of Homeland 
Security (DHS) space. EOIR is directed to provide a report to 
the Committee within 90 days of enactment of this Act outlining 
its utilization of existing EOIR and DHS space and its plans 
for acquiring additional space in order to accommodate 
additional Immigration Judges.
    Visa overstay cases.--The Committee directs EOIR to submit 
a report, no less than 60 days after enactment of this act, and 
monthly thereafter, detailing the number of instances of visa 
overstay cases that have been adjudicated through the court 
system, and recommend steps to take in coordination with other 
agencies to streamline visa overstay adjudication procedures.
    To better understand the policy and practice of immigration 
courts in setting detainee bonds, the Committee directs the 
Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) to report within 
120 days of enactment on how immigration judges use ``ability 
to pay'' criteria in determining the amounts of bonds, and the 
process for appealing such bond decisions. In addition, the 
report should include for fiscal years 2012-2016 the number of 
requests for reconsideration or appeals of bond amounts; how 
many requests or appeals resulted in reductions in bonds; and 
how many detainees did not pay bond set by an immigration 

The complete Committee Report, H.R. Rep. No.114-605, is available here: https://www.congress.gov/congressional-report/114th-congress/house-report/605

And, here is the actual language from the Appropriations Bill:



This Act includes $440,000,000 for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), of which $4,000,000 is derived by transfer from fee collections. This reflects funding for EOIR in a separate appropriation account, in lieu of being funded under the former Administrative Review and Appeals appropriation.

Within the funding provided, EOIR is directed to continue ongoing programs, continue the hiring process of new judges funded in fiscal year 2016, recruit and hire no fewer than 10 new Immigration Judge (IJ) Teams, and complete modernization of mission critical systems and improvements in infrastructure as described in the budget request.

Immigration Judge Hiring and Adjudication Backlog.-The Department shall accelerate its recruitment, background investigation, and placement of IJ teams and establish median days pending targets for cases (detained and non-detained) as specified in the House Report. For fiscal year 2017, EOIR shall continue to submit monthly performance and operating reports to the Committees on Appropriations, to include the status of its hiring and deployment of new IJ teams, in the format and level of detail provided in fiscal year 2016. In addition, not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, EOIR shall report to the Committees on Appropriations on visa overstay cases as directed in the House report.”


In the final version of the bill, Congress supported EOIR’s mission with increased resources.

Not surprisingly, the Committee was concerned about the glacial pace at which the DOJ hired new Immigration Judges authorized in FY 2015 & FY 2016. Attorney General Sessions says he has already taken steps to “streamline and expedite” IJ hiring, although I’m not aware of the details of the revised judicial hiring process.

The Committee was also critical of the failure of the
DOJ/EOIR to obtain sufficient space for additional Immigration Judges, noting that EOIR was not currently using all available space for Immigration Courtrooms.

Notwithstanding these problems, the bill provides for 10 additional Immigration Judge “Teams” (including support staff). This was in lieu of the 25 additional Immigration Judge Teams mentioned in the report.

The Committee was shocked by the “median times” for completing both detained (71 days) and non-detained (665 days) cases. It ordered EOIR to establish goals of 60 days median for detained cases and 365 days for non-detained cases.

The 60 day detained goals appears achievable, particularly because the Trump Administration is now diverting Immigration Court resources to the detained docket. However, the Administration’s apparent intent to increase both arrests and detentions could hamper that goal.

By contrast, the 365 day non-detained goal shows a massive disconnect in the Committee’s knowledge and understanding of the current Immigration Court system. With the backlog steadily rising under the Trump Administration to 570,000 cases, careening toward 600,000, with no end in sight, a 365 day  “goal” is right out of “Never-Never Land.”

Indeed, reassigning Immigration Judges from the non-detained to the detained docket to achieve a 60 day median is likely to result in further deterioration in the 665 day median for non-detained cases. And, 10 new IJs, while certainly very welcome, are a mere drop in the bucket — unlikely to make any significant dent in the backlog or the median time for non-detained cases.

The only ways to cut the median for non-detained cases to anything approaching 365 days would be by 1) doubling the size of the Immigration Judiciary (now at approximately 305), or 2) cutting the Immigration Court’s docket in half.

The former simply is not feasible in the foreseeable future, particularly given the DOJ’s inability to fill currently vacant IJ positions and to make realistic plans for expansion of courtrooms.

The second alternative could be achieved, but not the way the Trump Administration is proceeding. Instead of “jacking up” arrests, detention, and court dockets, the Administration would have to exercise discretion to pull the vast majority  of the 570,000 pending cases out of court and allow individuals without serious criminal records to remain in the U.S. Eventually, some type of legalization legislation would have to be developed with Congress.

Additionally, rather than expanding the priorities to include “almost anybody,” the Administration would have to further refine the Obama Administration priorities so that only those individuals convicted of serious crimes were targeted for removal proceedings.

The current system is heading for a massive “train wreck.” While the Committee’s support of the Immigration Courts is an important step in the right direction, it doesn’t come close to addressing the current dysfunctions at DHS and DOJ with respect to the Immigration Court system.

Finally, the Committee seemed interested in getting more information about the bond system in Immigration Court, with particular emphasis on whether and how Immigration Judges were considering “ability to pay” as part of the equation for setting bonds.





WSJ: “The Wall” In Maps & Pictures


Stephanie Stamm, Renée Rigdon, and Dudley Althaus put together this outstanding illustrated article about the border wall, giving you a real life picture of what’s there now and where the most entries occur:

“President Donald Trump has promised to build a wall along the 2,000-mile U.S. border with Mexico, a project that would total $21 billion, according to an internal Department of Homeland Security estimate. Only about 650 miles of the border have some sort of fencing today, and adding to that is complicated by geography, politics, land-ownership issues and funding.
Here’s a breakdown of which Southwest border-patrol sectors have the most apprehensions—defined as an arrest of removable aliens—versus the most or least amount of fencing. It is important to note that border security is defined by more than fencing. According to Homeland Security, manpower, communication, lights and technology all aid physical barriers.

. . . .

This stretch of the border is where most migrants—including large numbers of Central Americans and other non-Mexicans—have been crossing. In many cases, people are turning themselves over to Border Patrol agents.”


The last sentence of the above quote is worthy of some consideration. Contrary to popular notions that folks are trying to evade detection and “lose” themselves in the U.S. many, perhaps the majority, of the individuals fleeing the “Northern Triangle” of Central America turn themselves in to the Border Portal or at ports of entry and seek asylum.

I think that it is unlikely that increased detention, summary proceedings, and sophomoric warnings about the dangers of the journey (anyone seriously think that folks south of the border don’t understand the danger — come on man!) will in the long run deter those fleeing to save their lives.

However, it is possible that we eventually could convince refugees that we will mistreat them or not fairly hear their claims. In that case, they are likely to stop turning themselves in and simply invoke “self help refuge” by evading apprehension and losing themselves in the vastness of America — similar to what those crossing the border illegally have been doing for the most of the four decades that I have been involved with immigration enforcement, policy, and adjudication.

Human migration, border control. law enforcement, and refugee/asylum policy are extremely complex subjects. So far, the Trump Administration has chosen to address them in simplistic, one-dimensional ways that, to various degrees, have failed in the past and are likely to continue to do so.