ADMINISTRATION ISSUES TRAVEL BAN 3.0!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-administration-changes-travel-ban-countries/2017/09/24/1fef7cfe-a140-11e7-ade1-76d061d56efa_story.html

The Washington Post reports:

“The Trump administration announced new restrictions Sunday on visitors from eight countries — an expansion of the pre-existing travel ban that has spurred fierce legal debates over security, immigration and discrimination.

Officials had said they wanted the new rules to be both tough and targeted. The move comes as the key portion of President Trump’s travel ban, which bars the issuance of visas to citizens of six majority-Muslim countries, is set to expire.

“These restrictions are necessary and conditions-based, not time-based,” a senior administration official said.

The new travel restrictions represent the third version offered by the Trump administration.

Three new nations were added to the list of countries whose citizens will face the restrictions: Chad, North Korea and Venezuela — although the restrictions on Venezuela target that country’s leadership and family members. One country, Sudan, fell off the travel ban list issued at the beginning of the year. Senior administration officials said a review of Sudan’s cooperation with their national security concerns and information-sharing showed that it was appropriate to remove the nation from the list.

The new restrictions will be phased in over time, officials said, and the restrictions will not affect anyone who already holds a U.S. visa.

The original travel ban was created as a temporary measure, designed to give officials a few months to assess the vetting of visa applicants and what information other countries could and couldn’t provide.

 

“The restrictions either previously or now were never, ever ever based on race, religion or creed,’’ one senior administration official said. “Those governments are simply not compliant with our basic security requirements.”

The original version, signed as an executive order in January, blocked citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries — Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Syria — as well as all refugees across the globe.

When that measure was blocked in court, Trump signed a revised order removing Iraq from the banned list and only barring the issuance of visas to citizens of the six remaining countries and all refugees.

The second order, too, was blocked by judges, but the Supreme Court in June allowed it to go into effect with a significant caveat. The administration, the court said, could not block from entering the country those with a “bona fide” connection to the United States, such as family members or those with firm offers of employment.

The ban on citizens of the six countries was to last 90 days; the ban on refugees was to last 120 days. The refu­gee ban is set to expire Oct. 24, and it was not immediately clear what impact the new restrictions might have on it.

The Supreme Court has scheduled arguments for Oct. 10 on whether the measure, at its core, is legal. It is unclear how any new restrictions might affect that case, and it is possible that they could spark fresh legal challenges.

 

Many countries, officials said, already met U.S. requests — using secure biometric passports, for example, and willingly passing along terrorism and criminal-history information. Others agreed to make changes and share more data. But some were either unable or unwilling to give the United States what it needed, officials said.

Citing an attack in London earlier this month, Trump seemed to call for an expansion of the travel ban, writing on Twitter, “The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!”

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We’ll see how it all plays out!

PWS

09-25-17

 

THE HILL: N. RAPPAPORT ON WHAT IT WILL TAKE TO CLOSE THE DEAL ON DREAMERS

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/352155-if-democrats-insist-on-chain-migration-theyll-kill-the-dream-act

Nolan writes:

“According to Migration Policy Institute estimates, potentially 3,338,000 aliens would be able to qualify for conditional lawful status under H.R.3440, which leads to permanent resident status, and chain migration would make the number much larger.

Moreover, chain migration would make it possible for the DREAMers to pass on legal status and a path to citizenship to the parents who brought them to the United States in violation of our laws, which is sure to be unacceptable to many Republicans.

The chain migration issue does not just apply to a DREAM Act. If it is allowed to block passage of a DREAM Act, it is likely to become an obstacle to every legalization program from now on, and for most undocumented immigrants, there is not going to be another way to obtain lawful permanent resident status.”

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Read Nolan’s complete analysis over at The Hill at the link.

I’m far removed from the days when I had a sense of what’s happening on the Hill. So, if Nolan says that the Dems will have to give on family migration for  Dreamers to cut a deal to save them in a GOP-controlled Congress in a Trump presidency, maybe that’s true. Gotta do what you have to do to save lives and preserve America’s future.

But, I do know something about the bogus term “chain migration” It’s a pejorative term coined by restrictionists to further their racial and ethnic agenda.

Chain migration is simply legal family migration, a process that has been ongoing for at least half a century and has done nothing but good things for America. Of course, it makes sense to give preferred treatment to those with family already in the U.S. Of course, having family here helps folks adjust, prosper, and contribute. It’s a win-win. Studies by groups not associated with a restrictionist agenda confirm that.

Moreover, unlike the folks pushing the restrictionist agenda, I actually have seen first-hand the highly positive results of family-based legal immigration for years in Immigration Court. It brings really great folks into our society and allows them to contribute fully to the success of America, and particularly our local communities.

If we want more skills-based immigration, that’s also a good idea. But, that doesn’t require a corresponding cut in family immigration. Immigration is good for America. It’s not a “zero-sum game,” although restrictionists would like us to think so.

The GOP position on parents of Dreamers is absurd. Those folks are already here and contributing to our society and our communities. Many have been here for decades. They are not going anywhere notwithstanding the rhetoric of the restrictionists and the Trump Administration. Other than picking on Dreamers once they become citizens, what could we as a country possibly gain by such an absurd and punitive measure directed against productive long term residents?

I think it is worth considering what pushing for unnecessary and harmful restrictions on family migration says about the real motivations of today’s GOP and its apologists.

PWS

09-24-17

 

WHEN DEPORTATION IS A DEATH SENTENCE!

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

Kyle Swenson writes in the Washington Post:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

PWS

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Three Pinocchios”

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

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

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

PWS

09-21-17

🤥 🤥🤥

 

 

 

WASHPOST: “The White House’s preposterous policy analysis on refugeesl”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-preposterous-policy-analysis-of-xenophobes-in-the-white-house/2017/09/20/4f60f268-9d73-11e7-9083-fbfddf6804c2_story.html

The Washington Post Editorial Board writes:

“A QUIRKY THING about government programs is that, in addition to costs, there are benefits, the latter of which may also include revenue. Yet in thje case of U.S. refugee programs, xenophobes seeking an upper hand in the Trump administration have covered up half the ledger.

A report ordered up by President Trump in March, and produced by officials in July, concluded that refugees had delivered $63 billion more in federal, state and local tax revenue than they had cost in federal benefits through the decade ending in 2014. According to the New York Times, however, the administration sent the report back for a redo, insisting that any mention of revenue be dropped. The Department of Health and Human Services obliged in a final, three-page report this month, which concluded that per-person departmental program costs for refugees were $3,300, compared with a per-person cost of $2,500 for the U.S. population as a whole.

That’s not exactly a shocker. Refugees, by definition legal immigrants, tend to be poor or penniless. As the report from Health and Human Services says, they naturally draw more heavily on the department’s programs, particularly in their first four years of residency. The fact that they pay more in taxes than they draw in benefits cuts against the administration’s spin and, according to the Times, was suppressed by Stephen Miller, Mr. Trump’s nativist senior policy adviser.

Mr. Miller is leading the charge to slash the number of refugees admitted in the fiscal year starting in October, below even the cap of 50,000 that Mr. Trump imposed this year — itself the lowest number in more than 30 years. (Before leaving office, President Barack Obama had set this year’s target at 110,000.) In addition to his general dislike of immigration, Mr. Miller sees refugees in particular as a terrorist threat and a fiscal burden. The fact that there’s extremely little historical evidence of the former, and that the latter is demonstrably false, doesn’t interest him — or Mr. Trump, who on Tuesday told the U.N. General Assembly that it would be much cheaper for Washington to send money for refugees rather than resettle them in the United States.

Refu­gee policy is not like a choice between leasing a car and buying one, and Mr. Trump’s policy analysis is preposterous. This country was settled by refugees; it has been a beacon for refugees for its entire history. Even now, despite the Trump administration’s inhospitable demeanor, it remains the aspirational destination for millions of people worldwide, especially in the most violent, repressive and hopeless places. The list of refugees who have ennobled and inspired the United States is too long to recount here, but consider just a few names: Madeleine Albright. Albert Einstein. Gloria Estefan. Henry Kissinger. Vladimir Nabokov. Billy Wilder.

At a moment when the world is awash in refugees — the United Nations has asked countries to resettle 1.2 million of them — it would be not just callous for Washington to turn its back on them. It would be an act of national redefinition and an abdication of leadership. Rather than making America great again, it would do the very opposite by making the country small, peevish, inward-looking and heedless of its role on the global stage.“

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Right On! It’s impossible to overestimate the damage that Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller, and the rest of the White Nationalist, racist, xenophobic crew in this Administration are doing to America and to our standing in the world. They, not vulnerable refugees, are currently the greatest threats to our national security!

PWS

09-21-17

WASHPOST: CALIFORNIA LEADS THE WAY WITH SANE IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT POLICY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-immigration-crackdown-hits-a-speed-bump/2017/09/18/d2cfe5e2-9caf-11e7-9083-fbfddf6804c2_story.html?utm_term=.71f46f2f1bb2

The Editorial Board writes:

“PRESIDENT TRUMP’S campaign against immigrants who are in the country illegally has triggered a backlash in some Democratic-leaning states and localities. Perhaps the most sweeping example just emerged from the state legislature in California, which extended so-called sanctuary protections to people who lack legal authorization to live in the United States. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) agreed to sign the legislation, known as the California Values Act, after insisting on changes that injected a much-needed dollop of restraint to the original bill, which disregarded public safety in its determination to shield illegal immigrants.

The bill’s supporters boast that it has made California, where at least a fifth of the nation’s roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants live, the first bona fide “sanctuary state.” Local police and sheriffs may no longer ask about people’s immigration status in many cases, nor hold most detainees behind bars at the request of federal immigration agents.

Similar if less sweeping laws in scores of cities and counties nationwide have infuriated the Trump administration, prompting the Justice Department’s counterproductive threat to withhold federal law enforcement funds from so-called sanctuary localities. In a challenge to that threat brought by Chicago, a federal judge ruled last week that the funds could not be withheld without Congress’s say-so.

The California bill, like the court ruling, limits the administration’s enforcement discretion. It does so in keeping with common sense.

In its modified form, the bill, passed by lawmakers on a straight party-line vote, allows — but does not require — localities to cooperate in detaining and handing over undocumented immigrants convicted of one or more on a list of some 800 violent and serious crimes. They include sex offenses, arson, domestic violence and even some lesser crimes chargeable either as misdemeanors or felonies.

It’s critical that even the state’s most liberal precincts — we’re talking to you, San Francisco — receive that message. It’s one thing to stand on the principle that illegal immigrants, most of whom have been in the country for 15 years or more, are a productive and vital part of America’s social fabric. It’s another to turn a blind eye to undocumented residents who have committed major crimes, imperil public safety and should be removed. As Mr. Brown put it on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” those who have committed serious crimes “have no business being in the country.”

 

The final bill allows more cooperation between federal and local law enforcement agencies than many advocates for illegal immigrants would like. Immigration agents will be allowed to interview people in jails, though they’ll be barred from setting up offices in them, and they’ll have access to some California enforcement databases under rules set by the state attorney general.

The attempt at striking a legislative balance prompted the state police chiefs’ association, but not the sheriffs’ association, to drop its initial opposition to the bill. The generally more lenient stance by police reflects the challenge they face in cultivating strong relations with immigrant communities, without which neither victims nor witnesses will cooperate with them. Such on-the-ground facts have carried the day in California. The administration should take note.”

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Facts don’t matter in Gonzo Apocalypto’s White Nationalist crusade against immigrants and Latinos. His sanctuary cities threats have never had anything to do with effective law enforcement. He hasn’t shown any interest in understanding the legal and law enforcement issues here, nor has he ever tried to sit down with state and local authorities with an open mind to find common ground that accommodates the legitimate needs of both the Feds and the locals.

In a recent NY Times article, one sheriff pointed to Sessions’s willful ignorance of the law:

“A meeting this spring between Mr. Sessions and several sheriffs offered one reason the Trump administration may seem so far out of sync with local authorities on the issue. According to one sheriff who was there — Richard Stanek of Hennepin County, Minn. — when the federal court decisions from the last three years concerning extended jail holds came up in discussion, Mr. Sessions appeared to be unfamiliar with them.
“He was still living in 2014,” Mr. Stanek said. “He had no idea what we were talking about.”

Legal knowledge has never been a factor in Sessions’s long career built on bias, racism, White Nationalism, and reading false narratives from “cue cards” prepared by restrictionists.  I’m actually surprised that Sessions was only three years behind the times here; most of his policies, pronouncements, and “Gonzo” views are firmly rooted in the “Jim Crow” Alabama of the 1950s and 1960s (although current Alabama politics where twice-defrocked “judge,” racist theocrat Roy Moore is a likely winner to replace Sessions provides little evidence that the nearly all White Alabama GOP electorate has ever gotten out of the Jim Crow era — what a total disgrace!)

Compare Gonzo’s incompetent and tone deaf approach with that of a real public servant like Gov. Jerry Brown who knows how to bridge the gap to achieve a balanced approach. Compare California’s carefully constructed Senate Bill 54 with Texas’s overbroad and racially motivated SB 4, much of which was recently enjoined by a Federal Court. Compare real leadership with the pandering to white restrictionists and divisive actions of Tex. Gov. Greg Abbott and Tex. AG Ken Paxton, who steadfastly fail to represent or consider the legitimate interests of their many Hispanic residents while working with the GOP to disenfranchise minority, primarily Hispanic, voters.  Balance just isn’t a factor in the Trump/Sessions immigration enforcement program or in the actions of unfit public officials like Abbott and Paxton.

PWS

09-19-17

 

WASHPOST: Voter Fraud Is Not a Threat, But Kris Kobach is Both A Fraud & A Threat To Our Democracy!

The Editorial Board writes:

“Aha, says Mr. Kobach, writing at Breitbart, the right-wing website, “now there’s proof” of fraud: “It seems that they never were bona fide residents of the State.”

In fact, when New Hampshire Public Radio examined the data earlier this year, it found that more than two-thirds of 5,900 day-of-election registrants who had out-of-state driver’s licenses lived in college towns, indicating most were students voting perfectly legally. Again, on most of the state’s biggest residential campuses, a majority of students — usually a sizable majority — are from out of state. That’s true at the University of New Hampshire, Dartmouth College, Keene State College, Franklin Pierce University and others.

 

It’s also true at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., where on Tuesday Mr. Kobach attempted to defend his baseless claim at a meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Under fire for his tendentious claims, which he used to cast doubt on the narrow victories in New Hampshire of Hillary Clinton and now-Sen. Maggie Hassan, both Democrats, he said: “Until further research is done, we will never know the answer regarding the legitimacy of this particular election.”

That’s Mr. Kobach at his most insidious, using innuendo, but never actual evidence, to impugn and subvert American democracy.”

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Kobach is a long-standing racist, White Nationalist, and xenophobe whose mission is to promote a primarily anti-Hispanic agenda that includes suppressing the votes not only of Hispanics but of other minorities and the poor because he and his cronies deem them to be “unsuitable” for the franchise. What greater proof of unsuitability can there be than that many of the foregoing are thought to vote for Democrats.

Kobach is out to insure that a minority of White Nationalists and their GOP “fellow travelers” (which would be virtually every other GOP pol and voter who consistently refuse to stand up and expose Kobach’s charade) maintain control over the rest of us in the majority. And no lie, fabrication, or misrepresentation is too low for him to go.

But, in the end, it’s the GOP electorate (particularly in Kansas), President Trump, and the “establishment” GOP pols (like Mitt Romney and Mike Pence) who have enabled this toxic anti-American dude. The rest of us need to come up with a strategy to “retire” Kobach to the fringes of alt-right “fake radio” where he belongs. He certainly is totally undeserving of a voice on the national political scene.

PWS

09-18-17

 

 

SHAFTING THE BRAVE!– U.S. Military Sticks It To Migrant Recruits — “It’s a dumpster fire ruining people’s lives. The magnitude of incompetence is beyond belief . . . . We have a war going on. We need these people.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/09/15/army-kills-contracts-for-hundreds-of-immigrant-recruits-sources-say-some-face-deportation/?hpid=hp_regional-hp-cards_rhp-card-national%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.780a7e57ba01

Alex Horton writes in the Washington Post:

“U.S. Army recruiters have abruptly canceled enlistment contracts for hundreds of foreign-born military recruits since last week, upending their lives and potentially exposing many to deportation, according to several affected recruits and a retired Army officer familiar with their situation.

Many of these enlistees have waited years to join a troubled immigration recruitment program designed to attract highly skilled immigrants into the service in exchange for fast-track citizenship.

Now recruits and experts say that recruiters are shedding their contracts to free themselves from an onerous enlistment process to focus on individuals who can more quickly enlist and thus satisfy strict recruitment targets.

The Pentagon and Army Recruiting Command, which oversees policy and guidance at its recruitment centers across the country, did not answer repeated requests for comment.

Margaret Stock, a retired Army officer central to the creation of the immigration recruitment program, told The Post that she has received dozens of frantic messages from recruits this week, with many more reporting similar action in Facebook groups. She said hundreds could be affected.

 

“It’s a dumpster fire ruining people’s lives. The magnitude of incompetence is beyond belief,” she said. “We have a war going on. We need these people.”

Stock said a recruiter told her there was pressure from the recruiting command to release foreign-born recruits, with one directive suggesting they had until Sept. 14 to cut them loose without counting against their recruiting targets, an accounting quirk known as “loss forgiveness.”

The recruiter told Stock the Army Reserve is struggling to meet its numbers before the fiscal year closes Sept. 30, and canceling on resource-intensive recruits is attractive to some recruiters.

Half a dozen recruits from across the country tell The Post their contracts have been or will be canceled. Some are now out of legal immigration status and fear deportation.

Lola Mamadzhanova, who immigrated to the United States from Kyrgyzstan in 2009, said she heard that Army recruiters in Evanston, Ill., texted immigrant recruits last week asking whether they still wanted to enlist, with an unusual condition: They had 10 minutes to respond. She never received the text message.”

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Read the full story at the link.

No wonder we can’t win wars; it’s a failure of leadership.

PWS

09-15-17

WHAT DO YOU CALL SOMEONE WHO ENJOYS INFLICTING GRATUITOUS PAIN AND SUFFERING ON VULNERABLE PEOPLE? — Jeff Sessions

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/category/the-daily-202/?utm_term=.c4e82aca4268&wpisrc=nl_daily202&wpmm=1

James Hohmann writes in then”Daily 202″ in the Washington Post:

“THE BIG IDEA: Photographers caught a giddy Jeff Sessions cracking a satisfied smile last week as he prepared to announce that 690,000 undocumented immigrants who had been brought into the United States as minors would no longer be shielded from deportation. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program “is being rescinded,” the attorney general declared in the first line of his statement. “There is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws. … Failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism. … The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences. It also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.” Fact checkers called these and other claims Sessions made about the immigrants known as “dreamers” dubious or outright false. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t take questions afterward. Regardless, the speech was widely covered as a triumph for the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and a sign that he was out of President Trump’s doghouse. Not only did Sessions get the outcome he wanted; he also got to deliver the news from the Justice Department briefing room. Trump’s DACA decision last week seemed to validate Sessions’s decision to slog on through the summer even after being frozen out of the inner circle. From interviews to tweets, Trump repeatedly attacked his attorney general throughout July as “weak” and “beleaguered.” The main reason Sessions chose to put up with indignities that might cause most people to quit was because he believed he could make a difference on immigration policy. That has always been his signature issue and animated his two decades in the Senate.

— But it took less than 10 days for Trump to once again undercut Sessions. The president on Thursday signaled his embrace of granting permanent legal status to these “dreamers” as part of a deal with Democrats that he said is close to being finalized. He also acknowledged that he’s not going to make a deal to save DACA contingent on getting funding for the wall he wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Discussing the exact same group of people that Sessions painted with such a sinister brush one week earlier, Trump tweeted yesterday: “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!” Trump tweeted yesterday. “They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own — brought in by parents at young age.”

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Read the rest of Hohmann’s always-entertaining column at the above link.

Quite simply, Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions is a poor excuse for a human being and a disgrace to the U.S. Department of Justice. What kind of person is motivated by a desire to destroy our society by hurting fine American young people and smearing them with lies and innuendo?

But, let’s not forget who empowered his message of hate and fear by appointing him, and who “blew by” his long record of racial problems while silencing the opposition that told truth. And, a special “shout out” should go to those who voted to put this intentionally divisive Administration in office and to the unapologetically racially challenged white GOP voters of Alabama who elected this leftover of the Jim Crow era time and time again.

Jeff Sessions does not represent the values of the majority of Americans. We must get it together at the ballot box to insure that he (and those like him) never again happen to us and to our country!

PWS

09-15-17

FORMER DHS SEC MIKE CHERTOFF TELLS HOW CUTTING REFUGEE ADMISSIONS HURTS AMERICA AND ENDANGERS NATIONAL SECURITY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/cutting-refugee-admissions-hurts-americans-heres-how/2017/09/14/c7c8b5e6-9987-11e7-b569-3360011663b4_story.html?utm_term=.268b590d8b01

Chertoff writes in the Washington Post:

“President Trump will make another decision this month that will affect thousands of people: How many refugees will the United States admit in fiscal year 2018?

The president already cut refugee admissions by more than half this year, from more than 100,000 down to 50,000. By way of comparison, the highest ceiling under President Ronald Reagan was 140,000. The president has also signaled, through his executive orders and in his budget proposal, that these cuts will carry over to next year. And in fact, some in his administration are trying to convince him to cut even further.

This would be a mistake. Cutting refugee admittances would not only be a moral failure but also damage our national interest abroad and our economy.

Of course, security is an imperative, and the refugee resettlement program is secure. U.S. security and intelligence agencies conduct multiple reviews on every refugee admitted, and only those approved for admission by the Department of Homeland Security are granted refuge in the United States.

 

There is also the humanitarian imperative: We are in the midst of the greatest refugee crisis on record, with more than 22 million people seeking safety from violence, conflict and persecution all over the world. The vast majority of refugees — nearly 90 percent — are hosted by poor and middle-income countries. Only the most vulnerable — those whose safety cannot be assured in their countries of first refuge — are selected for resettlement. For these refugees — widowed women; orphaned children; survivors of rape, torture and brutal religious persecution — refugee resettlement is a lifeline.

But what’s in it for the United States?

Strategic allies located near crises host the largest refugee populations in the world. Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan and Kenya are among the top refugee-hosting states. Their willingness to host millions of refugees contributes greatly to regional stability and security, all in regions where U.S. troops are deployed. As our military works to contain terrorist insurgencies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and the Horn of Africa, forcing refugees to return to unsafe and unstable countries would make countering terrorism more difficult.

 

That’s why in 2016, when the Kenyan government threatened to close the Dadaab refugee camp and forcibly return more than 250,000 Somalis to an unstable Somalia, then-Secretary of State John F. Kerry got on a plane to Kenya. It’s also why the United States should be concerned that more than 700,000 Afghan registered and unregistered refugees have been returned to Afghanistan since 2016 — a threefold increase from 2015 — at a time when growing instability in Afghanistan and terrorist gains are forcing an increase in U.S. troop levels.

If we’re not willing to do our fair share, how can we ask front-line allies to do more?

Maintaining resettlement commitments is also critical to our military, diplomatic and intelligence operations abroad. Tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan nationals have put their lives on the line to support intelligence-gathering, operations planning and other essential services. Terrorist groups openly target these individuals because of their cooperation with Americans. Resettlement is instrumental to ensuring their safety — a testament to the U.S. military’s commitment to leave no one behind on the battlefield.

And in a proud American tradition, Republican and Democratic presidents have used refugee admissions to signal support for those who reject ideologies antithetical to U.S. values. In the past few decades, we have raised our admissions ceilings to take in those fleeing communist uprisings, religious persecution and tyranny.

 

Today, the United States must provide unwavering support for Muslims who put their lives at risk to reject terrorist ideologies, many of whom refused to join or be conscripted into terrorist groups, militias and state security forces persecuting their fellow citizens. The Islamic State considers all those who flee its rule as heretics subject to execution. Those who risk their lives — and their children’s lives — to reject terrorism must know, as a matter of our fight against extremism, that the United States supports and welcomes them.

Even in the wake of 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our country’s history, President George W. Bush deliberately and explicitly maintained a refugee admissions ceiling of 70,000 annually, affirming the United States’ great humanitarian tradition.

Finally, refugees enrich and are deeply supported by our communities. Hundreds of mayors, faith leaders and business leaders have attested to the contributions refugees make. Thousands of Americans donate volunteer hours, in-kind goods and services, and private dollars to support refugees. One study estimates only 39 percent of the costs of resettlement are covered by federal dollars.

 

Despite being among the most vulnerable and destitute when they arrive, refugees thrive. Entrepreneurship among refugees is nearly 50 percent higher than among U.S.-born populations, creating jobs for Americans. More than 57 percent of them are homeowners.

Our values and our national security interests argue for raising our refugee ceiling, not lowering it. The president should seize the mantle of Reagan and fortify U.S. leadership on refugees.”

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

I’ll admit to not always being a Chertoff fan. In particular, his failure to support internal efforts to institute a strong prosecutorial discretion program at ICE that would have empowered the Chief Counsel to control the Immigration Courts’ growing docket was unfortunate, given his legal and judicial background.

But, I agree with what Chertoff says here. Just compare the power, logic, and moral authority of his statement with the mealy-mouthed, cowardly, morally vapid lies flowing from the mourths of xenophobic, disingenuous, fear mongers like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, Rep. Steve King, and the rest of the White Nationalist crowd!

Refugeees make America great! White Nationalist xenophobes, not so much!

PWS

09-15-17

SUPREMES SIDE WITH TRUMP — LEAVE REFUGEE BAN IN PLACE (FOR NOW)!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-agrees-with-trump-administration-says-some-refugees-can-be-barred-for-now/2017/09/12/f38d5884-97ee-11e7-82e4-f1076f6d6152_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_travelban704pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.69d624f195a7 Continue reading SUPREMES SIDE WITH TRUMP — LEAVE REFUGEE BAN IN PLACE (FOR NOW)!

CONTINUING SAGA OF TRAVEL BAN 2.0: Justice Kennedy Issues Temporary Stay!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/justice-dept-again-asks-supreme-court-to-allow-broad-enforcement-of-travel-ban/2017/09/11/6c3853ae-970b-11e7-87fc-c3f7ee4035c9_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-more-top-stories_travelban-255pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.23095c0b5b6e

Matt Zapotosky reports in the Washington Post:

“U.S. officials can at least temporarily continue to block refugees with formal assurances from resettlement agencies from entering the United States after the Supreme Court intervened again Monday to save a piece of President Trump’s travel ban.

Responding to an emergency request from the Justice Department, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy stopped an earlier federal appeals court ruling that had allowed refugees with a formal assurance to enter the country.

Kennedy, who handles cases on an emergency basis from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, ordered those suing over the ban to respond by noon Tuesday, and he indicated that the appeals court ruling in their favor would be stayed “pending receipt” of their response.

The Supreme Court’s decision came not long after the Justice Department asked the justices to act. That filing, by Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall, demonstrated the lengths to which the government is willing to go to impose its desired version of the ban, even before the high court takes up in earnest next month whether the measure is lawful at its core. At issue is whether the president can block a group of about 24,000 refugees with assurances from entering the United States after the Supreme Court decided in June to permit a limited version of his travel ban to take effect.”

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Read the full at the link.

The beat goes on!

PWS

09-11-17

SURPRISE! – GONZO LIES: “2017 is on pace for the second-lowest crime rate since 1990 — and near-record low murders” — Sessions Fabricates “Crime Wave” To Support White Nationalist Anti-Hispanic, Anti-Black Political Narrative! –“It’s irresponsible to incite public panic based on falsehoods, and it makes our police officers’ jobs harder.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/09/06/2017-is-on-pace-to-have-the-second-lowest-crime-rate-since-1990-and-near-record-low-murders/?utm_term=.d5c197d6052e

Philip Bump reports in the Washington Post:

“At his swearing-in as the nation’s top law enforcement official in February, Attorney General Jeff Sessions picked up a thread that had run throughout Donald Trump’s campaign for president: America is experiencing an alarming crime wave.

“We have a crime problem,” Sessions said. “I wish the rise that we are seeing in crime in America today were some sort of aberration or a blip. My best judgment, having been involved in criminal law enforcement for many years, is that this is a dangerous, permanent trend that places the health and safety of the American people at risk.”

Preliminary analysis of crime data from the nation’s 30 largest cities released by the Brennan Center for Justice on Wednesday suggests that it isn’t. According to the center’s overview of crime and murder data, 2017 is on pace to have the second-lowest violent crime rate of any year since 1990.

From the report:

  • The overall crime rate is projected to drop by 1.8 percent to the second-lowest point since 1990.
  • The violent crime rate is projected to fall by 0.6 percent, also to the second-lowest point in over 25 years. (The lowest rate was in 2014.) “This result,” the report’s authors write, “is driven primarily by stabilization in Chicago and declines in Washington, D.C., two large cities that experienced increases in violence in recent years.”
  • The murder rate is projected to be down 2.5 percent, on-par with the rate in 2009.

Explore the center’s data for each of the country’s largest cities.

While there was indeed a national uptick in violent crime and murder during 2015 and 2016, one of the underrecognized drivers of those shifts was the sharp increase in killings in two cities, Chicago and Baltimore, which combined made up more than half of the increase in murders in large cities from 2014 to 2017. This year, the number of murders in Chicago alone is expected to drop 2.4 percent. But it’s declines in New York, Houston and Detroit that are driving the overall decrease.

Inimai Chettiar, director of the justice program at the center, told The Post that the analysis suggested two things.

“First, the long-term trend toward safer cities isn’t going anywhere,” Chettiar said over email. “The evidence conclusively shows there is currently no national crime wave. Second, short-term fluctuations in crime are often driven by local factors.”

There are several cities that reinforce that point. The murder rate in Charlotte, doubled over the first half of 2017, for example, even as it fell sharply in other places.

Chettiar addressed Sessions’s concerns directly.

“Our data leads us to believe that the upticks in 2015 and 2016 were likely short-term fluctuations,” she wrote, noting that “not enough research has been done to identify the exact catalyst.”

The center, which is a part of the New York University School of Law, shared its report with Ronal Serpas, a former New Orleans police superintendent who now co-chairs an organization focused on reducing incarceration rates.

“In contrast to what we have been hearing from the president and attorney general, this new data from police departments shows that all measures of crime and murder are in decline this year,” Serpas said in a statement provided to The Post. “It’s irresponsible to incite public panic based on falsehoods, and it makes our police officers’ jobs harder.” Both Serpas and Chettiar noted that in places where violent crime had increased the Trump administration’s focus was best placed on that crime — as opposed to immigration violations, for example.


Attorney General Jeff Sessions stands waiting during a meeting with the Fraternal Order of Police in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in March. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

As the Trump campaign and then the Trump presidency cited localized increases as examples of the crime threat that Trump pledged to solve, independent observers frequently noted that, despite the uptick in crime in recent years, overall levels were still near recent lows following the sharp drop of the last 20 years. The Brennan Center’s analysis suggests that this trend will continue, leading the administration to a no-doubt vexing problem:

Is it too soon to claim credit?

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

I’ve noted many times before that Session’s disingenuous, xenophobic, White Nationalist focus on immigration enforcement actually makes the country less safe from crime. This report confirms that.

Moreover, with his “morbid fixation” on spreading a false narrative on immigration, Sessions has abandoned the real law enforcement functions of the DOJ, particularly in the areas of civil rights, voting rights, police brutality, prison reform, protection of the LGBTQ community, right-wing hate groups, domestic violence, and effectively combatting gangs, drug cartels, and human traffickers. As I’ve noted before, the latter three groups have been energized and empowered by Sessions’s focus on janitors, maids, gardeners, Dreamers and other “collaterals” — even dissing legal immigrants ands implicitly U.S. citizens of ethnic and immigrant heritage — rather than working on nuanced solutions to real law enforcement problems. By sowing unnecessary fear, mistrust, and terror among law-abiding productive members of migrant communities, he has basically “green-lighted” them as targets for crime, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, and gang recruitment. Ironically, this is a scenario I heard many times from individuals seeking refuge from third world countries: “I can’t go to the police because they won’t help and might even abuse or arrest me with impunity.”

Sessions is destroying the hard work of of community policing in ethnic communities in many cities throughout the U.S. One reason that many jurisdictions abandoned the “Safe Communities” program pushed by the Obama Administration is because they found it was a misnomer: busting undocumented workers and minor offenders actually did not make communities “safer.” Rather than learning from history, Sessions is doubling down on past failures. “Irresponsible” might be too kind a word to describe the Trump-Sessions White Nationalist legal agenda.

PWS

09-09-17

“JRUBE” IN WASHPOST: DEPT OF IN–JUSTICE: Under “Gonzo Apocalypto” White Nationalist, Xenophobic, Homophobic Political Agenda Replaces “Rule Of Law” — Latest DOJ Litigation Positions Fail “Straight Face” Test: “making up rules willy-nilly so as to show its rabid xenophobic base it is adhering to its promise of racial and ethnic exclusion!” — Read My “Mini-Essay” On How Advocates and U.S. Courts Could Restore Justice & Due Process To Our Broken U.S. Immigration Courts!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/09/08/trump-is-getting-rotten-legal-advice-and-once-again-it-shows/?utm_term=.e34528c36b2c

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

“The 9th Circuit gave the back of the hand to the argument that the Trump administration could borrow a definition from another section of the immigration statute to exclude grandmothers. The Supreme Court had used mothers-in-law as an example of a close familial relationship it wanted to protect. The 9th Circuit judges wrote: “Plaintiffs correctly point out that the familial relationships the Government seeks to bar from entry are within the same ‘degree of kinship’ as a mother-in-law.” It’s hard to make a case that grandmothers would not qualify. It does not appear that the government even made a good-faith effort to apply the Supreme Court’s direction.

On one level, it’s shocking that a Republican administration that is supposed to be a defender of “family values” would take such a miserly position. But, of course, family values are of little consequence to an administration that is more than willing to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, auguring for the breakup of intimate family relations (e.g., one sibling gets deported but American-born siblings remain).

The 9th Circuit also looked at the administration’s argument that a refugee with a formal assurance of settlement lacks a bona fide relationship with some entity or individual in the United States. The court set out the laborious screening process refugees undertake (making a mockery of the notion these people are a security threat) and noted that after all those steps are completed the refugee gets a sponsorship assurance “from one of nine private non-profit organizations, known as resettlement agencies.” The 9th Circuit held: “The Government contends that a formal assurance does not create a bona fide relationship between a resettlement agency and a refugee, and stresses that ‘[t]he assurance is not an agreement between the resettlement agency and the refugee; rather, it is an agreement between the agency and the federal government.’ But the Supreme Court’s stay decision specifies that a qualifying relationship is one that is ‘formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading [the Executive Order].”’”

Again, one cannot help but come away with the impression that the government is throwing up every half-baked idea it can find to limit the number of people entering the country, regardless of the national security risk or the hardship its action inflicts. The Trump administration is plainly reasoning backward — deny as many people as possible admittance and then think up a reason to justify its position.

In its fixation with keeping as many immigrants out of the United States as possible, the Trump administration cannot claim to merely be following the dictates of the law. (Gosh it’s out of our hands — “Dreamers” and grandmas have to go!) It is making up rules willy-nilly so as to show its rabid xenophobic base it is adhering to its promise of racial and ethnic exclusion. It’s hard to believe seasoned career Justice Department lawyers agree with these arguments. In its oversight hearings Congress should start grilling Attorney General Jeff Sessions as to how he comes up with his cockamamie legal arguments and whether political appointees are running roughshod over career DOJ lawyers.

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

Read Rubin’s full article at the link.

Mini-Essay:

TIME FOR ACTION ON THE BROKEN U.S. IMMIGRATION COURTS — IF CONGRESS WON’T ACT, THE FEDERAL COURTS MUST

By

Paul Wickham Schmidt

United States Immigration Judge (Retired)

If nothing else, the Trump Administration has given me a new appreciation for the Post’s “JRube.” She certainly has “dialed up” Gonzo’s number and exposed what’s behind his pompous, disingenuous misuse of the term “rule of law.”

No chance that a GOP Senate with Chuck Grassley as Judiciary Chair is going to hold Gonzo accountable for his daily perversions of “justice.” But, at some point, Federal Courts could begin sanctioning DOJ lawyers for willful misrepresentations (the Hawaii arguments before the 9th contained several) and frivolous positions in litigation. It’s possible that some DOJ lawyers all the way up to Gonzo himself could be referred by Federal Judges to state bar authorities for a look at whether their multiple violations of ethical standards should result suspension of their law licenses.

Another thought kicking around inside my head is that Gonzo’s actions and his public statements are starting to make a plausible case for a due process challenge to the continued operation of the U.S. Immigration Courts.

As with school desegregation, prison reform, and voting rights, a Federal Court could find systematic bias and failure to protect due process. That could result in something like 1) a requirement that the DOJ submit a “due process restoration” plan to the court for approval, or 2) the court appointment of an independent “judicial monitor” to run the courts in a fair and unbiased manner consistent with due process, or 3) the Federal Courts could take over supervision of the US Immigration Courts pending the creation of an Article I (or Article III) replacement.

High on the list of constitutionally-required reforms would be ending the location of courts within DHS detention facilities. All courts should be located in areas where adequate pro bono counsel is reasonably available and accessible. Immigration Courts should be located outside of DHS facilities in buildings accessible to the public with reasonable security requirements. Immigration Judges must be required to continue cases until pro bono counsel can be retained. Alternatively, the Government could provide for appointed counsel. 

Another obvious due process reform would be to strip the Attorney General of his (conflict of interest) authority to establish or review precedents and operating procedures for the U.S.  Immigration Courts. Along with that, the DHS should be given an equal right to appeal adverse BIA appellate decisions to the Courts of Appeals (rather than seeking relief from the AG — clearly an interested party in relation to immigration enforcement).

There also should be an immediate end to the appointment and supervision of U.S. Immigration Judges by the politically-biased AG. U.S. Immigration Judges and BIA Appellate Immigration Judges should be appointed on a strict merit basis by either an independent judicial monitor or by the U.S. Courts of Appeals until Congress enacts statutory reforms.

The current U.S. Immigration Court system mocks justice in the same way that Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions mocks it almost every day. There might be no practical way to legally remove Gonzo at present, but the Federal Courts could step in to force the U.S. Immigration Courts to undertake due process reforms. The current situation is unacceptable from a constitutional due process standpoint. Something has to change for the better!

PWS

09-09-17\

JAMES HOHMANN IN WASHPOST: SOME KEY GOP MODERATES FLEE WASHINGTON AS SWAMP-DWELLING LENINIST REVOLUTIONARIES & BAKUNINIST ANARCHISTS TAKE OVER PARTY AIMING TO DESTROY AMERICAN DEMOCRACY AS WE KNOW IT! — But, Congressional Departures Still Below Norm So “Trump-Effect” Likely Overhyped!

https://s2.washingtonpost.com/camp-rw/?e=amVubmluZ3MxMkBhb2wuY29t&s=59b279eefe1ff671d4f2777c

Hohmann reports in the “Daily 202:”

THE BIG IDEA: Exhausted from his ideological battles with the House Freedom Caucus and clashes with Donald Trump’s White House, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) has decided to retire.

“As a member of the governing wing of the Republican Party, I’ve worked to instill stability, certainty and predictability in Washington,” Dent said in a statement last night announcing that he will not seek an eighth term. “I’ve fought to fulfill the basic functions of government, like keeping the lights on and preventing default. Regrettably, that has not been easy given the disruptive outside influences that profit from increased polarization and ideological rigidity that leads to dysfunction, disorder and chaos.”

Dent is the co-chairman of the moderate Tuesday Group, which has about 50 center-right members. That’s more than the three dozen or so guys in the Freedom Caucus, but the tea partiers punch above their weight because they mostly vote as a bloc.

— The retirement gives Democrats a prime pick-up opportunity, and some veteran GOP strategists are increasingly nervous that a stream of others will follow – especially if the House fails to put more legislative points on the board (e.g. overhauling the tax code) and the political winds continue to suggest major Democratic gains in the 2018 midterms.

— Dent has increasingly drawn the wrath of the Trumpist movement for his willingness to publicly express concerns about Trump that many of his House GOP colleagues are still only willing to say on background. The congressman called for Trump to drop out when the “Access Hollywood” tape emerged last October and then voted for independent Evan McMullin. Since January, he’s spoken out against the president’s travel ban, his firing of James Comey as FBI director and his false moral equivalency after Charlottesville.

Breitbart, again under Steve Bannon’s leadership, played up a story last Friday about an anti-Dent rally in Allentown that drew more than 100 conservative activists.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Justin Simmons announced on Wednesday that he would challenge Dent in a primary next year, emphasizing the incumbent’s lack of support for Trump. “Like many Republicans, I used to support Charlie Dent,” Simmons said in the press release kicking off his campaign. “But in the past year, Charlie Dent has completely gone off the rails.”

Dismissing the challenger as an opportunistic “phony,” Dent released embarrassing text messages that he received from him last year. One asked him to host a fundraiser to help in a contested primary. Another asked, “Do you think there’s any chance the party can replace Trump on the top of the ticket?”

Instead of facing off with Simmons, though, Dent is now stepping aside.

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) arrives for a House Republican Conference meeting. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) arrives for a House Republican Conference meeting. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

— That surprise news came just one day after another seven-term moderate announced he will retire. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), who represents a suburban Seattle district that Hillary Clinton carried, is chairman of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on trade. Breaking with the protectionist president, Reichert’s goodbye statement emphasized the importance of free trade to the Pacific Northwest. “From serving on President Obama’s Export Council to battling to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank to leading the fight to pass the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, I have always fought to give our exporters the chance to sell their goods and services around the world,” he wrote.

— A third moderate, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), also expressed concern about the direction of the party when she revealed her plan to step down this spring. The first Cuban American elected to Congress expressed confidence she’d get reelected, even though Clinton won her Miami district by 20 points, but she said the prospect of two more years in the current environment just didn’t appeal to her. “It was just a realization that I could keep getting elected — but it’s not about getting elected,” she told the Miami Heraldin April.

Ros-Lehtinen, the former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has spoken out loudly against Trump since then, on issues like deportations (including DACA this week), transgender rights (her son is transgender) and budget cuts. “I’m not one of those name-callers that think the Democrats don’t have a single good idea,” she said. “Too many people think that way, and I think that’s to the detriment to civility and of good government.”

— Even as relations continue to fray between Republican congressional leaders and Trump, Democrats say these retirements are just the latest proof points that the Trumpists have completed their hostile takeover of the GOP. “With Trump in charge of the GOP, they might as well have a sign on the door that says ‘moderates need not apply,’” said Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson, who previously ran the independent expenditure arm of the DCCC. “The last cell-block has fallen and now Trump’s rabble of inmates are running the asylum. Dare to stand up to Trumpism by thinking people should be able to keep their healthcare or by opposing white supremacists, and you’ll find there is no home for you in the Republican party any more. That’s dangerous for the next two years and for the next 20. Whether it’s in Seattle, Miami, or now Allentown, the GOP is pushing out the only leaders who could convince suburban voters there was a way to get a home in the Republican Party that wasn’t Trump-owned.

Charlie Dent does a TV hit in the Capitol. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Charlie Dent does a TV hit in the Capitol. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

— A close ally of GOP leadership, Dent also serves as chairman of the House Ethics Committee and is a powerful “cardinal,” which in congressional parlance means that he chairs an Appropriations subcommittee. (He controls tens of billions in annual spending related to veterans’ affairs and military construction.)

— While acknowledging that Trump is a factor, Dent says that the trends driving him to give up this immense power predate the current president.

The ideological makeup of the House Republican conference has changed markedly since Newt Gingrich seized the majority in 1994. When the party won back the lower chamber in the 2010 midterms, after four years in the wilderness, the success of the tea party movement meant that there were relatively fewer moderates than before.

Republicans dominated the decennial redistricting process and drew lots of safely red districts. This meant that many House members became more vulnerable to a primary challenge from their right than a general election challenge from a Democrat. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor went down in a 2014 primary, and the Freedom Caucus formed the next year.

This created additional incentives for members to become part of the unofficial “vote no, hope yes” caucus. This is a group of Republicans who want spending bills and debt-ceiling increases to pass but won’t support them because they fear retaliation from outside conservative groups. The departure of Barack Obama from the Oval Office has lessened some of the reflexive, knee-jerk partisanship (it’s harder to tell Trump no), but “vote no, hope yes” remains a powerful force that House Speaker Paul Ryan must contend with every day.

Perversely, these “no” votes force Republican leaders to turn to Democrats for the necessary votes to pass key bills. That has given Nancy Pelosi more leverage than she would have otherwise had. The result is that final deals are often less conservative than they might be otherwise.

People like Dent, who considers himself a conservative, constantly bang their heads against the wall because of this dynamic. He explained last night that solving problems requires “negotiation, cooperation and, inevitably, compromise.”

The 57-year-old said he has been having “periodic discussions” with his wife and three kids about whether to stay in Congress ever “since the government shutdown in 2013.” He said discussions about retiring “increased in frequency” earlier this year, and that he made the decision to step down “in midsummer” – before he drew the primary challenger. “Accomplishing the most basic fundamental tasks of governance is becoming far too difficult,” Dent explained to The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis in an interview last night. “It shouldn’t be, but that’s reality.”

Rep. Charlie Dent, left, and Rep. Pat Meehan walk to a meeting with fellow House Republicans at the Capitol on Wednesday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Rep. Charlie Dent, left, and Rep. Pat Meehan walk to a meeting with fellow House Republicans at the Capitol on Wednesday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

— The nonpartisan Cook Political Report plans to move Pennsylvania’s 15th District – which covers Allentown, Bethlehem and much of the Lehigh Valley – from “Solid Republican” to “Lean Republican” in ratings that will publish later today.

Trump carried the district by eight points last November, while Dent won reelection by 20 points. Obama won the 15th in 2008 and narrowly lost it in 2012.

Democrats see a great pickup opportunity. “After nine months of utter failure to get even the most basic things done for hardworking families, it’s no surprise that Dent is as sick and tired of the Republican party as the American people,” said DCCC spokesman Evan Lukaske.

The NRCC chairman, Rep. Steve Stivers, expressed confidence Republicans will hold the seat. “From reforming the broken VA to ensuring every child has access to a high-quality education, Congressman Dent has championed conservative values since taking office in 2005,” said Stivers (R-Ohio). “While his leadership in Congress will be sorely missed, I wish him the very best in the next chapter of his life.”

— Dent is the 13th Republican to leave the House since the start of 2017. Four accepted jobs in the Trump administration, and three more are running for governor. Dent is the sixth to retire without another position in mind.

As a point of comparison, seven Democrats have announced plans to leave the House. All but one (Rep. Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts) did so to run for higher office. Only one represents a district Trump won: Tim Walz, who is now a front-runner to become the next governor of Minnesota.

— To be fair, though, the current number of House members who are retiring remains far below the historical norm. Going back to 1976, an average of 22 House members have retired in each cycle without seeking a higher office. With Dent, we’re at just seven for this term. Contrary to some of the liberal commentary on places like Twitter and cable news, Trump has not opened the floodgates. At least not yet.”

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Imagine someone who fights to “fulfill the basic functions of government, like keeping the lights on and preventing default. Regrettably, that has not been easy given the disruptive outside influences that profit from increased polarization and ideological rigidity that leads to dysfunction, disorder and chaos.” What audacity! No wonder today’s GOP wants Dent out! Bakuninists believe that revolution is necessary to destroy government and order, not to govern.

PWS

09-08-17