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

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

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

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From the LA Times Editorial Board:

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

“50 years on, what would King think?

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

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

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

The following day, he was assassinated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kurtis Lee reports for the LA Times:

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

“Yenni Sanchez had thought her work was finished.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

. . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the complete story at the link.

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

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

Yancy writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New York Years

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

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

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

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

An Obsession With
Dark-Skinned Immigrants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blow writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sabrina writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest of the story at the link.

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

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

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

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

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

DAVID BIER @ CATO IN WASHPOST: ADMINISTRATION’S WAR ON SALVADORANS IN AMERICA IS AS FUTILE AS IT IS STUPID!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/trumps-move-against-salvadorans-wont-make-them-leave–or-help-us-workers/2018/01/11/0fa6aac4-f637-11e7-a9e3-ab18ce41436a_story.html

David Bier of the Cato Institute writes in the Washington Post:

“Trump administration officials announced this past week that the government would terminate provisional residency permits for about 200,000 Salvadorans next year. The decision is part of President Trump’s “America first” agenda, restricting the rights of immigrants in order to protect U.S. workers. But, as previous immigration experiments demonstrate, the policy will not aid American workers. And it certainly won’t make Salvadorans pack their bags. Trump’s order is likely to have the opposite effects.

President George W. Bush granted Salvadorans temporary protected status (TPS) after devastating earthquakes hit El Salvador in 2001. He and President Barack Obama repeatedly extended the status. Beyond its humanitarian impact, TPS provides significant economic benefits. It doesn’t give applicants access to any federal welfare — so there are few costs — but it does grant the legal right to work. And Salvadorans with TPS work at very high rates: Eighty-eight percent participate in the labor force, compared with 63 percent of all Americans.

Legal employment has helped Salvadorans achieve a relatively high standard of living. The median household income for Salvadorans with TPS is $50,000, higher than the roughly $36,000 for unauthorized immigrants. Their higher wages, combined with the lack of public benefits, has been a big win for U.S. taxpayers.

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Canceling TPS will make it illegal for these Salvadorans to work, but it’s unlikely to force them home. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush granted TPS to some 185,000 Salvadorans during the country’s civil war, and when President Bill Clinton canceled their status in 1996, few returned. Deportations rose only slightly, and many Salvadorans just worked illegally until 2001.

At this point, 28 years since the original TPS designation and 17 years since the subsequent one, the incentives to stay will be too large for any mass migration back to El Salvador. Trump can try to drive them out with immigration raids and increased deportations, as other presidents have tried, but the highest percentage of unauthorized immigrants deported in a given year is 2.1 percent — three times the amount this administration deported in 2017.

Losing the legal right to work doesn’t prevent immigrants from finding jobs. They can use fake or borrowed documents from U.S. citizen family members, or employers can pay them off the books. Illegal employment, however, pays less than legal employment — employers compensate for taking the risk of hiring someone who may be here illegally.”

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Read Bier’s complete article at the link.

I can make a strong argument that Salvadoran, Haitian, and Honduran TPS are some of the most successful and humane Immigration programs in US history. In contrast to asylum adjudication, TPS adjudications cost the Government peanuts. And, the processing fees for periodic renewals of work authorization actually make money for the Government.

TPSers are overwhelmingly law-abiding, industrious, and because of their legal work authorization they pay taxes. Many TPSers work in essential industries like construction where there are not equally qualified “native born American workers” readily available to replace them. Many have US Citizen children and they have integrated into their communities. In my experience, while the majority would like to have a “path to citizenship” they aren’t aggressively agitating for one. Almost all are grateful just for the chance TPS gives them to remain with their families in the communities they call home and to work legally to support their families.

Thus, TPSers contribute much to the US and ask little in return. Their continuing presence here is in no way a “problem.”

In a rational political climate, extending TPS while offering some type of permanent status to TPSers through legislation would be a “no brainer.”  Indeed, a generation or so ago, US enacted a great program called NACARA, which offered Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalan a way of staying permanently and eventually becoming citizens. The program was immensely successful at a minimal administrative cost to the Government.

But, today we have a White Nationalist Administration and an increasingly White Nationalist restrictionist GOP interested more in dumping on Hispanics and Blacks through a bogus “merit based” immigration agenda than they are in doing what’s best for America.

Bier’s right. the Salvadorans aren’t going anywhere. But the Administration and the GOP restrictionists appears fixed on driving them “underground” at great cost to the TPSers and to America. They are likely to remain underground until we have “regime change” and saner heads eventually prevail.

PWS

01-14-17

ELIZABETH BRUENIG @ WASHPOST GIVES THE MORAL ARGUMENT FOR A USG SHUTDOWN!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/democrats-should-shut-down-the-government-to-protect-innocent-people/2018/01/11/bc992c0c-f6ff-11e7-a9e3-ab18ce41436a_story.html

Breunig writes:

“If Congress cannot agree on a budget plan by Jan. 19, the government will shut down. This isn’t the outcome anyone wants. But Democrats ought to start steeling themselves now: If the Republican majority’s budget plan leaves the “dreamers” in limbo, fails to supply desperately needed aid to Puerto Rico and coastal states battered by natural disaster, or allows the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to wither away, Democrats need to be ready to shut the whole thing down.

It is necessary to recognize the damage a shutdown could cause in the course of recommending, as I am, that the Democrats prepare to let it happen. If the outcome were sure to be harmless, the possible costs would be small. But the moral stakes of this budget negotiation are extraordinarily high. Taking a stand for dreamers, children and disaster-stricken citizens will come with a price.

Trump has said a shutdown could be politically useful for him, and Democrats seem nervous. It’s hard to predict, at this point, which party (if either) a shutdown would benefit: Republicans could wind up with the blame, but they could also gain from underscoring the notion that government is broken. As Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and a Post contributor, warned me on Wednesday: “These government shutdowns feed into a narrative that is not politically neutral.”

There are practical concerns, too. “The biggest impact tends to be on people who work for the government [and] are nonessential employees,” Bernstein said. During past shutdowns, nonessential employees have been paid after the fact, but there is no guaranteeCongress would elect to do the same this time. Bernstein added that a shutdown would be “a ding to the economy” and “massive inconvenience,” putting all kinds of activities — from sorting out Social Security questions to visiting national parks to getting passports renewed — on hold. A shutdown wouldn’t grind daily life to a halt. But it would affect millions, with serious ramifications for many.

But there are potential strategic upsides for Democrats. For one, triggering a shutdown could demonstrate that Democrats take the interests and desires of the American people seriously. “The public wants CHIP, Puerto Rico and Texas to get relief, and wants to protect dreamers,” said Ben Wikler, Washington director of MoveOn.org. “Keeping all these priorities on hold in a perpetual game of kick-the-can doesn’t actually line up with what most Americans want.”

In an October Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 62 percent of respondents said Puerto Rico has not received the help it needs in the wake of Hurricane Maria; a November Kaiser survey likewise found that 62 percent of Americans consider funding CHIP a top priority — far above tax reform or strengthening immigration controls. In that same poll, only 16 percent of respondents said dreamers shouldn’t be allowed to remain in the country. Likewise, a Post-ABC News poll found that 86 percent of Americans want dreamers to be allowed to stay.

But it isn’t just the premise of democracy or the possibility of 2018 advantage that demands relentless commitment to these three causes. It’s ordinary morality.

The beneficiaries of CHIP, disaster aid and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals are innocent insofar as none of them brought onto themselves the statuses that have made them vulnerable. It is important to understand them as innocents at the mercy of a merciless faction; otherwise the harms they face might appear more morally complicated than they are. As the Roman Catholic Archbishop José Gomez recently wrote: “It would be cruel to punish [dreamers] for the wrongs of their parents, deporting them to countries of origin that they have never seen, where they may not even know the language.” It would likewise be cruel to allow children with diabetes to die for lack of insulin or to plunge poor families deep into debt because they happened to have a child with a disability. The same can be said for those who had the misfortune of living in areas struck by storms, the ne plus ultra of situations one didn’t cause and cannot prevent.

A shutdown would cause real problems for real people. It is, in the words of Wikler, “something to be avoided if possible, but not at the expense of fundamental priorities.” What is remarkable about the priorities at hand, however, is that they have no business being articles of compromise. These aren’t ordinary policy squabbles; they constitute a choice between America as a humane nation with democratic principles and America as a negligent sovereign with a dim future. The protection of innocents shouldn’t be up for debate. But it is. And Democrats can’t back down.”

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

As a “Retired Fed” and a lifelong “Good Government” advocate who values the career Civil Service and what it does for America, I sure hate Government shutdowns! I’ve been through a number of them, some as an “essential” Senior Executive and some as a “non-essential employee.”

But, I think Breunig makes a strong argument that there are some issues that can’t really be “compromised” because they cross over strongly held moral and ethical values.

 

PWS

01-14-18

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

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

Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky report for the Washington Post:

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

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

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

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

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

. . . .

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

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

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

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

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

. . . .

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

. . . .

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

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

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

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

Read the complete article at the link.

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

PWS

01-12-18

 

WASHPOST: “Trump attacks protections for immigrants from ‘shithole’ countries in Oval Office meeting”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-attacks-protections-for-immigrants-from-shithole-countries-in-oval-office-meeting/2018/01/11/bfc0725c-f711-11e7-91af-31ac729add94_story.html

Josh Dawsey reports for the Washington Post:

“President Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they floated restoring protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to two people briefed on the meeting.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to African countries and Haiti. He then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met Wednesday.

The comments left lawmakers taken aback, according to people familiar with their reactions. Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) proposed cutting the visa lottery program by 50 percent and prioritizing countries already in the system, a White House official said.

A White House spokesman declined to offer an immediate comment on Trump’s remarks.

. . . .

Graham and Durbin thought they would be meeting with Trump alone and were surprised to find immigration hard-liners such as Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) at the meeting. The meeting was impromptu and came after phone calls Thursday morning, Capitol Hill aides said.”

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Read The complete article at the link,

So much for the concept of a “Stable Genius” in the White House.

Also, so much for the claim that we don’t have a racist in the White House. Actually, Haitian and African immigrants have contributed far more to the success of America than Trump and his family ever will!

 

PWS

01-11-18

 

 

 

THURSDAY AM DACA UPDATE: WASHPOST SAYS DEMS SHOULD TRADE WALL FOR DREAMERS — TAL @CNN REPORTS ON THE “FOUR PILLARS” OF IMMIGRATION NEGOTIATIONS ON THE HILL!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/take-a-deal-for-the-dreamers-build-the-wall/2018/01/10/d02a5c06-f640-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html?utm_term=.276f11c859c2
January 10 at 7:21 PM

PRESIDENT TRUMP says he is optimistic a deal can be struck to shield “dreamers,” the young undocumented immigrants whose lives he put in jeopardy by stripping them of work permits and deportation protection, beginning March 5. His price, and that of many Republicans, is up to $33 billion in border-security measures, including Mr. Trump’s “beautiful” wall.

If that’s the deal — not one freighted with a laundry list of other items on the GOP wish list — Democrats should take it.

Granted, Mr. Trump once told Americans that a border wall, paid for by Mexico, would cost $4 billion. After that, he said $6 billion or $7 billion, and later $10 billion. Now his administration says it’s really $18 billion for 722 miles of wall, of which just 316 miles would be a brand-new structure along the 2,000-mile southwest frontier. Oh, and Mexico’s credit card seems to be missing.

The wall is a dumb idea. It won’t do much to suppress illegal border crossings, which in any event have been falling for decades. And the additional border-security spending proposed by the administration, including thousands of new Border Patrol agents, is largely a waste. Rather than seriously addressing the opioid epidemic, or mounting cyberwarfare threats, or America’s crumbling infrastructure, the president wants to fortify a border where illegal crossings, as measured by Border Patrol apprehensions, are already at their lowest point since the Nixon administration.

But consider how rare it is that a dumb idea in Congress actually buys something smart in return. In this case, the return on that dumb idea would be huge. (And betting that the courts will save the dreamers is too risky, notwithstanding a federal judge’s ruling Tuesday freezing dreamers’ protections — for now.)

The wall’s $18 billion price tag would be spread over a decade. If a few billion dollars annually is the trade-off that provides certainty — a pathway to citizenship or permanent legal status — for nearly 700,000 young immigrants brought to this country as children by their parents, it’s worth it. Because the alternative — all those lives ruined, all those jobs lost, all that education and promise cut short — is much worse.

Democrats who choke on the wall, loath to hand Mr. Trump a political triumph, might ask themselves what other deals they might strike that would do so much tangible good, for so many people, so immediately — and at such a relatively modest price. The likely answer is: very few.

Some Republicans are angling for more than half a loaf. Using the dreamers as hostages, they want to decimate legal immigration, slash family reunification visas and dissolve the lottery system that provides visas for people from Africa and other regions that generate relatively few immigrants.

Those measures would inflict real harm on real people. By contrast, spending billions on border security, while profligate, has enjoyed bipartisan support in the past. In 2006, many prominent Democrats, including then-Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, voted for 700 miles of fencing at the southwest frontier, albeit at a time when illegal crossings were more than three times greater than they are today.

Many in Congress may have lost the muscle memory required to strike a compromise, but here’s a reminder: In politics, as in life, compromise is often painful. That doesn’t mean you refuse it.”

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

Meanwhile, over at CNN, Tal and her colleague Ashley Killough file the following reports:

“Lawmakers compete to carry President’s mantle on DACA as talks continue

By: Tal Kopan, CNN

If the “four pillars” that emerged out of the White House immigration meeting spurred anything Wednesday on Capitol Hill, it was a fresh PR strategy.

A variety of competing factions continue to pursue their proposals on resolving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a policy President Donald Trump is seeking to end that protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children.

As the lawmakers touted their proposals Wednesday, though, they made an effort to explain just how their own push is the one that meets the President’s wishes — even as all of them took different approaches. The marketing underscored how essential Trump’s approval is to any deal — and how much lawmakers believe he can still be convinced.

The White House meeting settled on four check boxes for Trump’s signature, although he told lawmakers he’d sign whatever the group came up with:

A fix for DACA recipients.

Money for border security.

Dealing with “chain migration” or family-based sponsorship.

Ending the diversity lottery.

As lawmakers sought to fill in the details Wednesday, they made sure to explain how their proposals related to the President’s guidelines.

More: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/10/politics/daca-latest-talks/index.html

Here are the key players in Congress on immigration

By Ashley Killough and Tal Kopan, CNN

As President Donald Trump led the widely-televised bipartisan meeting at the White House on Tuesday, he was surrounded by a flock of lawmakers from both parties and both houses of Congress.

A massive issue like immigration has many competing interests at stake, drawing in groups of lawmakers who work on competing proposals

In just one effort to streamline the process, the four second-in-command congressional leaders — Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer — got together Wednesday afternoon to try to sort through the efforts.

“We are not going to default to existing groups. There were too many groups to count and they were basically getting nowhere,” Cornyn told reporters. “So that’s why, I think, the need to move to this level.”

But Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican member of another group, says it’s his “Gang of Six” that’s leading the way. “Somebody has to put forward a document. Somebody has to put forward a bill,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing.”

A variety of formal and informal groups are still meeting and doing their own work, some designed to find the middle ground and some designed to pull talks to the left or right. Here’s a look at the key players across the political spectrum that have taken the lead.

More: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/11/politics/key-players-immigration-congress/index.html”

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I’ve been saying for some time now that a “Wall for Dreamers” deal might be the best the Dems can do. As the Post points out, although the “The Wall” probably is “overkill” in terms of border security, at least the money gets us something in return: the Dreamers are one of our country’s most valuable assets. People over “things.” Or, as we used to say in college, “nothing gets broken, no-one gets hurt.”

Whether or not the “deal” outlined by the Post is actually out there to be “closed” remains to be seen. It apparently would only address two of the four “pillars” described by Tal and Ashley. That seems entirely reasonable to me; but, of course, I’m not one of the negotiators. And, Trump said he would “sign anything that Congress sends him” on the topic.

PWS

01-11-18

DHS ENFORCEMENT HITS 7-ELEVEN STORES NATIONWIDE!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/immigration-agents-target-7-eleven-stores-in-nationwide-sweep/2018/01/10/315dae76-f62b-11e7-b34a-b85626af34ef_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_icecrackdown-128pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.ae6d34fab70c

Nick Miroff reports for the Washington Post:

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents blitzed dozens of 7-Eleven stores before dawn Wednesday to interview employees and deliver audit notifications, carrying out what the agency said was the largest operation targeting an employer since President Trump took office.

ICE said its agents showed up at 98 stores and made 21 arrests, describing the operation as a warning to other companies who may have unauthorized workers on their payroll.

“Today’s actions send a strong message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal workforce: ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable,” said Thomas D. Homan, the agency’s top official, in a statement.

Homan characterized the operation as a new front in the Trump administration’s broader immigration crackdown and its effort to increase deportations. ICE agents have made 40 percent more arrests in the past year.

“Businesses that hire illegal workers are a pull factor for illegal immigration and we are working hard to remove this magnet,” Homan’s statement said. “ICE will continue its efforts to protect jobs for American workers by eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that exploit illegal immigration.”

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Read Nick’s complete article at the link.

It’s not clear whether the 21 folks arrested were undocumented workers, store managers, or both. This does indicate an interesting new initiative by the Trump Administration to enforce employer sanctions against major U.S. chains like 7-Eleven. We’ll see how it “plays,” however, if and when some fat-cat GOP execs/donors get caught up in the enforcement net.

PWS

01-10-18

 

DANA MILBANK @ WASHPOST: “DREAMERS” NEED TO “COOL IT” AND STOP ATTACKING THEIR ALLIES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dreamers-need-to-get-out-of-their-own-way/2018/01/09/85a999a4-f58b-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html?utm_term=.4494c7762a33

Milbank writes:

“Once again, the left is eating its own.

Democrats are in a good position as they negotiate with President Trump and the congressional majority over their legislative priorities for the next couple of months: children’s health care, nondefense spending, disaster relief and legalization of the “dreamers,” that group of immigrants brought here illegally as children. They also are within reach of retaking both chambers of Congress in November.

But the dreamers have decided to give the Democrats a rude awakening.

When lawmakers reached a short-term, bipartisan deal last month to keep the government funded, United We Dream, the organization leading the campaign to legalize the dreamers, launched an all-out attack on Democrats for failing to insist that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals legislation be included in the spending bill.

The group declared the 17 Senate Democrats who voted for the bill the “Deportation Caucus” and, in a social-media barrage, said they “voted to deport young immigrants.”

United We Dream also fired off a tweet praising conservative Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) “for voting NO on a spending bill that did not include a Dream Act. We see your commitment and we need you to continue fighting with young immigrants!”

This is bonkers.

Democrats — in and out of the supposed “Deportation Caucus” — support legalizing the dreamers. And Lee? His opposition to the spending bill had nothing to do with dreamers. He had called DACA “an illegal abuse of executive power.” Meanwhile, Trump, who created the artificial crisis by announcing he would end DACA, gets away with barely a scratch.

United We Dream deleted the pro-Lee tweet but continues to attack Democrats. There have been sit-ins and sometimes arrests at the offices of Democratic senators.”

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Read Milbank’s complete op-ed at the link.

I think he makes a good point. Yes, “Dreamers” have been disappointed by the Dems on many prior occasions. I get that.

But, legislation, particularly in an area as complex and controversial as immigration, takes time and some give and take. In many ways, “timing is everything.” I previously noted that right before the Christmas recess would have been a particularly inopportune time from the Dems to “draw a line in the sand,” particularly if there is still some chance of a bipartisan bill that the President will sign.

The Dreamers are surely deserving, but also in many ways fortunate that the Dems (and some GOP legislators) have now put their future as perhaps the number one “must do” on their agenda. They should be careful not to “blow it” by making life difficult for those committed to helping them.

PWS

01-10-18

 

WASHPOST EDITORIAL: TERMINATION OF SALVADORAN TPS IS GRATUITOUS CRUELTY ON PART OF ADMINISTRATION – All Pain, No Gain (In Fact, A Net Loss For Everyone)!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-new-self-inflicted-wound-from-the-trump-administration/2018/01/09/19db1190-f585-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html?utm_term=.bfcbf9ae8f07

January 9 at 7:46 PM

STRIKING A blow for making America small again — plus petty, callous and self-defeating — the Trump administration on Monday stripped about 200,000 Salvadorans of their work authorizations and protection from deportation, effective 20 months from now.

The move will create tens of thousands of new undocumented immigrants in the United States; aggravate labor shortages in some American cities; saddle one of the hemisphere’s most beleaguered countries with problems it is ill-equipped to manage; and embitter tens of thousands of U.S.-born citizens whose parents are suddenly thrust into a life in the shadows or forced to return to a country where they have no future.

At this point, it’s naive to wonder what has become of America’s humanitarian impulse; in the Age of Trump, it’s null and void. Before the decision Monday by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to send packing Salvadorans who have lived in this country since a pair of earthquakes crippled their homeland in 2001, the administration took identical action last year against citizens of the hemisphere’s two poorest countries, Haiti and Nicaragua, who have also lived in this country since natural disasters ravaged their own, and announced its intention to end protections for young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” effective beginning in March.

As with the dreamers, the administration has seized on a narrow, legalistic interpretation as a pretext for turning against immigrants who have lived in the United States for years. In the case of the Salvadorans, officials insisted that the humanitarian program that shielded them, known as Temporary Protected Status, should lapse because their country had surmounted the original calamity that triggered TPS in the first place. The argument was the same last year for ending TPS for immigrants from Haiti, knocked senseless by a 2010 earthquake, and those from Nicaragua, leveled by a hurricane in 1998.

The administration insists it is giving meaning to the “temporary” in Temporary Protected Status. That’s fine as theory; as a policy, it fails by ignoring reality. Both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations grasped that it was unwise, not to mention cruel, to impose additional burdens on already desperate neighbors. El Salvador — wracked by brutal gang warfare, one of the world’s highest murder rates and an anemic economy — has gross domestic product per capita one-seventh that of the United States. Deporting tens of thousands of Salvadorans, and, in the process, depriving their country of the remittances they send home, will only deepen that country’s unfolding disaster. How is that in the United States’ interest?

The fact is that the Salvadorans have nearly 200,000 children who are U.S. citizens, born in this country, with no knowledge of their parents’ homeland. Nearly a quarter of those who will lose their status have mortgages, many have businesses, and a large majority have been gainfully employed for many years, paying taxes and contributing to communities.

The costs of the administration’s policy are clear. But what has been gained?”

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In the end, “Gonzo” enforcement and policy making will cost the United States dearly in many, many ways. But, that’s what happens when folks elect an Administration made up of “unqualifieds” and a Congress controlled by a minority Party that doesn’t take seriously its responsibility to legislate or goven in the overall public interest.

The only real solution here is likely to be a longer term one at the ballot box.

PWS

01-10-18

GONZO’S WORLD: CONSTITUTION BE DAMNED: SESSION’S LATEST TARGET: THE POOR – Continuing To Promote Injustice At “Justice!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jeff-sessions-just-endorsed-an-unconstitutional-fine-on-the-poor/2018/01/09/87ccffc6-f268-11e7-97bf-bba379b809ab_story.html?utm_term=.bbbf3eff4e8e

Lisa Foster writes in the WashPost:

“Lisa Foster is a retired California Superior Court judge, co-director of the Fines and Fees Justice Center and former director of the Office for Access to Justice in the Justice Department.

Lorenzo Brown, a 58-year-old disabled resident of Montgomery, Ala., was arrested at his boardinghouse in 2014 for failure to pay fines and fees imposed for traffic tickets. Brown, whose sole source of income was a Social Security disability check, was kept in jail for three days before he was brought to court. There, the judge told him he could be released if he paid $1,400 — half of what he owed and twice the amount of his monthly disability check. Because he didn’t have that much money, the judge sentenced him to serve 44 days in jail, repaying his debt at the rate of $50 per day.

Brown is not alone. Across the country, millions of people — including children — are charged a fine as punishment for traffic, misdemeanor and felony offenses and then taxed with fees used to fund the justice system and other government services. In California, the fine for running a stop sign is $100, but the additional fees — imposed to pay for everything from court operations to emergency medical services — can raise the total cost of the ticket to a staggering $490.

It’s a tax on justice that harms poor people of all races and people of color disproportionately, entrenching poverty and undermining confidence in our justice system. Yet the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions retracted two important legal guidanceslast month that were intended to help courts reform abusive practices.

The decision is unconscionable. As was the case with Brown, fines and fees are often enforced in ways that blatantly violate the Constitution. People who cannot afford to immediately pay the full amount charged face additional fees, suspension of their driver’s and vocational licenses, loss of voting rights and, far too frequently, arrest and jail. Since 1983, however, the Supreme Court has held that it is unconstitutional to punish a person “solely because he lacks funds to pay a fine.”

Yet courts across the country have ignored that unequivocal command. Practices that unquestionably violate the Constitution have become routine and rarely — if ever — questioned or appealed.

That’s why the Justice Department provided legal guidance to state courts on the enforcement of fines and fees in March 2016 and an advisory regarding fines and fees imposed on children in early January 2017. Both reminded courts of established constitutional principles. They were well-received and sparked meaningful reform. Judges and court administrators relied on the guidance and advisory to change court procedures; lawyers cited the guidance to successfully challenge egregious collection practices; and advocates used both to lobby for legislative reforms.

Apparently, Sessions’s Justice Department does not believe it has a role in ensuring that the Constitution is enforced in state and local courts. The attorney general’s narrow and shortsighted interpretation of his department’s mandate forsakes leadership on a critical national issue and abandons the most vulnerable among us.

It’s also wrong. The Justice Department routinely asserts its interpretation of the Constitution pursuant to both explicit statutory authority and long-standing tradition. It does so formally, for example, in amicus briefs and statements of interest filed in state and federal courts.

I have a vested interest in this issue. I co-wrote the guidance with Vanita Gupta, then head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and the advisory with Karol Mason, then head of the Office of Justice Programs. But my position is neither ideological nor partisan. The American Legislative Exchange Council, the Charles Koch Institute and the R Street Institute — all conservative organizations — have strongly opposed such fines and fees. In one resolution, ALEC noted that the practices can lead to “unnecessary incarceration” and encourage law enforcement to make decisions “on grounds other than public safety while undermining public confidence in the integrity of the criminal justice system.”

Moreover, red and blue states alike have reformed fine and fee collection practices. Mississippi and California recently ended their long-standing practice of suspending the driver’s licenses of people who cannot afford to pay fines and fees. Texas recently enacted legislation requiring judges to assess whether a person can afford to pay his or her fines and fees before being punished for nonpayment. Similar legislation is pending in Massachusetts.

Some states will act to fill the vacuum left by Sessions and the Justice Department. But the guarantees of the Constitution do not depend on where one lives in the United States. The Constitution must be upheld for every person in every courthouse in the country. To rescind the guidance on fines and fees is to condone unconstitutional conduct and tell millions of Americans that the Justice Department refuses to live up to its name.”

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

Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions has made a career out of protecting the rights of (mostly rich and powerful) White guys while ignoring, stomping on, or trashing the rights of minorities and other vulnerable populations who (contrary to Sessions’s White Nationalist agenda) are also entitled to Constitutional protections. The latter group actually includes so-called undocumented individuals in the U.S. who routinely are denied their full due process rights in Sessions’s “captive” U.S. Immigration Court system that is now being operated as a “whistle-stop on the deportation express” — essentially an adjunct of DHS Enforcement.

Among other things, he lied about under oath during his Senate confirmation hearings, Gonzo falsely claimed that he could get beyond his highly partisan representation of Alabama in the Senate and be Attorney General for all the people. That appears to be no more credible than his gratuitous claims that he had no knowledge of anything having to do with Russia.

At the DOJ, Gonzo has continued to represent only the views of the rather small minority of voters who endorse his racist, White Nationalist, anti-gay agenda. At some point, Russia investigation or not, America needs a real Attorney General who respects the office, our Constitution, and the rights of all persons (including the undocumented) present in the United States of America.

PWS

01-10-18

TRUMP’S MEETING WITH LEGISLATORS ON IMMIGRATION – LOTS OF TALK, MANY SOUND BITES, NO CLEAR “BOTTOM LINE!” — Including Reports From WashPost’s David Nakamura and CNN’s Tal Kopan!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2018/01/09/trump-urges-congress-to-pass-bill-of-love-to-protect-dreamers-but-reiterates-demand-for-border-wall/?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_trump-dreamers-2pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.873d6df1082a

David Nakamura reports for the Washington Post:

“President Trump met with a bipartisan group of Congress members at the White House on Tuesday in an effort to revive stalled talks over immigration, urging lawmakers to pass a “bill of love” to protect some undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Trump expressed confidence that a deal over the fate of the “dreamers” — immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as children — was within reach ahead of a March 5 deadline he set before work permits issued under an Obama-era program to nearly 700,000 begin to expire in mass. The president reiterated his demands for border wall funding and curbs to some legal immigration programs, but he said he would defer to lawmakers to hammer out the details and sign whatever bill they put in front of him.

“I really do believe Democrat and Republican, the people sitting in this room, really want to get something done,” Trump said.

“My position is going to be what the people in this room come up with,” he added. “I have a lot of respect for people on both sides. What I approve will be very much reliant on what people in this room come to me with. If they come to me with things I’m not in love with I’m going to do it.”

Lawmakers in both parties have said they are waiting for the Trump White House to specify its demands before the negotiations can move forward. Democrats and some moderate Republicans have resisted funding a border wall at a time when illegal immigration over the Mexico border is at record lows.

In an unusual meeting, Trump allowed reporters to remain in the Cabinet Room for more than 50 minutes as he and the Congress members laid out their bargaining positions. Trump challenged the group to “put country before party” to get a deal done.

“Lives are hanging in the balance. We’ve got the time to do it,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), an original sponsor of legislation to legalize dreamers.

During the meeting, Trump also addressed other news, saying he believed a presidential run by media mogul Oprah Winfrey would be fun, but predicting she would ultimately chose to forgo a White House bid despite some enthusiasm among Democrats after she gave a rousing speech at the Golden Globe awards this week.

“I don’t think she’s gonna run,” Trump said, responding to a question from a reporter. “I know her very well.”

Trump announced in September his plans to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but he gave lawmakers a six-month window to pass a legislative deal before the temporary work permits begin to expire at a rate of nearly 1,000 per day. (About 122 immigrants a day already are losing their work permits after failing to renew their applications last fall.)

But negotiators have been at an impasse over how to proceed. Democrats and some moderate Republicans are eying a Jan. 19 deadline for a must-pass government spending deal as leverage to get a deal done on DACA. But the talks are deadlocked over Trump’s demands for the wall and cuts to legal immigration, including ending a diversity visa lottery and ending what the president calls “chain migration,” the practice of Americans sponsoring extended family members for green cards.

Democrats have balked at accepting major new border security provisions, saying the administration’s call for $18 billion in funding for hundreds of miles of a border wall is costly and unnecessary at a time when illegal immigration levels have plummeted.

Lawmakers from both said expressed confidence that the meeting had been productive and said the group had succeeded in narrowing the framework for discussions — yet both sides defined that framework in different terms. Democrats suggested they were open to some border security enhancements, but they emphasized that they agreed with Trump that broader talks over additional changes to the immigration system must be done after a deal over the dreamers is completed.

But Republicans said they expect Democrats to address four areas — border security, the fate of the dreamers, the diversity visa lottery and curbs to “chain migration.”

During the talks in the Cabinet Room, Trump appeared at one point to agree with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who said Democrats are seeking a “clean” DACA bill without additional border security provisions. House Majority Leaders Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) then interjected to insist that Republicans want security included.

“Mr. President, you need to be clear, though,” McCarthy said. When we talk about just DACA, we don’t want to be back here two years later. We have to have security.”

Trump responded: “I think that’s what she’s saying.”

Further confusing matters, Trump also said he hoped to pursue a “comprehensive” immigration bill after lawmakers strike a deal on the dreamers. Comprehensive bills, which would deal with work visas and other elements of the immigration system, failed on Capitol Hill during the tenures of both Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

Republican leaders of the House Judiciary and Homeland Security committees said they will introduce a bill Wednesday that will represent a purely Republican solution to the DACA dilemma, offering legal status to immigrants who had participated in the DACA program alongside a suite of measures that go well beyond the parameters of the bipartisan negotiations. Two Republicans familiar with the bill say it is expected to include several measures Democrats have roundly rejected, such as sanctions for “sanctuary cities” that do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement agencies.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said the bill would be a “good foundation” for the bipartisan talks and that more would have to be done after the initial deal is struck,

Trump indicated during the meeting that he would accept a border wall that includes elements of fencing and surveillance tools, such as aerial drones, in the place of a steel or concrete structure. Democrats said they were supportive of additional border security but declined to say whether they were open to supporting funding for a wall.

“That’s all part of the negotiations,” McCarthy said. “What today was about was bringing the narrowing of solving this problem and finding common ground.”

He said negotiators for both parties were scheduled to meet Wednesday to continue the talks.

Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.”

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

And, here are the latest reports from Tal Kopan and her colleagues at CNN, who are on top of the DACA story.

Trump contradicts self repeatedly in immigration meeting

By Tal Kopan, CNN

President Donald Trump appeared to contradict himself multiple times in a meeting on immigration with a bipartisan group of lawmakers Tuesday — a reflection of growing frustration from Capitol Hill about the lack of direction from the White House on the issue.

The President at times suggested he would be looking to sign everything from a stand-alone fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — set to expire in March — to comprehensive immigration reform, often appearing to being guided by lawmakers in the room to modify his positions.

The comments came during a nearly hour-long conversation between the roughly two dozen lawmakers, the President and White House staff that the press was allowed to record — a window into the difficult negotiations that still surround the issue of replacing DACA, which protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation, and border security.

At the end of the session, Trump suggested that ultimately, he would sign whatever he was presented with.

More: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/09/politics/donald-trump-immigration-contradictions/index.html

House conservatives prep own DACA bill

By Tal Kopan, CNN

A group of House conservatives are set to introduce their own proposal on immigration this week — a move that could seek to pull ongoing bipartisan negotiations to the right.

Reps. Bob Goodlatte and Raul Labrador said the bill was expected Wednesday — with Goodlatte telling President Donald Trump about the effort in a White House meeting with bipartisan lawmakers Tuesday and Labrador speaking with reporters earlier in the day.

The meeting with Trump was largely focused on resolving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which Trump has opted to end but says he wants preserved legislatively in exchange for border security and immigration reforms.

According to a source familiar with the effort, the bill was discussed in Republican conference on Tuesday and will include virtually the entire wish-list of conservatives.

The bill comes from a handful of conservative Republican members from Speaker Paul Ryan’s immigration working group — though not some key moderate members of that group. The team had a meeting at the White House the Tuesday before Christmas, which included Reps. Mike McCaul, the House Homeland Security Committee chairman; Goodlatte, the House Judiciary Committee chairman; Labrador, the chairman of the immigration subcommittee on Judiciary; Martha McSally, the chairwoman of the border subcommittee on Homeland; and Mark Meadows, the conservative House Freedom Caucus chairman.

More: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/09/politics/conservative-house-daca-bill-goodlatte-mccaul-labrador/index.html

And more on the overall meeting in our main piece:

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/09/politics/white-house-congress-lawmakers-immigration-daca/index.html

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

Got it? It’s all “clear as mud” to me!

Lots of talk; whether it results in action, TBD. Immigration does seem to be on the “front burner” these days.

 

PWS

01-09-18

GONZO’S WORLD: WASHPOST EDITORIALS RIP GONZO’S BOGUS “CRIME WAVE” & “REEFER MADNESS!” – Is He “On The Ropes?” – Don’t Count On It – NBC Describes How He’s The “Ultimate Survivor!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jeff-sessions-says-theres-a-staggering-increase-in-homicides-the-data-dont-agree/2018/01/05/b0ae52fa-f169-11e7-b390-a36dc3fa2842_story.html

Jeff Sessions says there’s ‘a staggering increase in homicides.’ The data disagree.


Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the White House in Washington on March 27, 2017. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
January 5

“PRESIDENT TRUMP rode a claim of out-of-control crime — to be fought with “law and order” — to victory in 2016. He reinforced the message in his inaugural address about “American carnage.” So it’s no surprise that Attorney General Jeff Sessions harps on the same theme, most recently on Wednesday, when he issued a statement describing this as a “time of rising violent crime [and] a staggering increase in homicides.” As the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, Mr. Sessions can and should use his bully pulpit to raise justified concern about crime and violence; his latest remarks, however, constituted a misuse of that power. Currently available data do not support his alarmism.

The most recent FBI national crime reports do indeed show that both murder and violent offenses generally rose in 2015 and 2016. The murder rate had risen from at least a 54-year low of 4.4 per 100,000 people in 2014 to 5.3 at the end of 2016. This reversal of a long and positive trend in American society cries out for thoughtful analysis and response. We’re still waiting for the 2017 FBI data, which won’t be out until later this year.

Meanwhile, private sources have been crunching the 2017 numbers reported by the police of the largest cities — generally indicative of the national total, since homicide is overwhelmingly an urban phenomenon. The basic picture is that homicide probably dippedslightly last year. Through Dec. 16, the total number of homicides in the nation’s 30 largest cities was 4.4 percent below what it was at the same point in 2016, according to the New York-based Brennan Center for Justice. The Brennan Center is a liberal nonprofit that frequently criticizes the Trump administration, but its numbers come from police agencies and city reports, and its findings agree with those of independent crime analyst Jeff Asher of FiveThirtyEight. His study of public data from 54 cities with 250,000 or more residents showed that murder is down 2.75 percent over 2016.

Mr. Sessions’s statement came in the context of his announcement of new interim U.S. attorneys, including for Manhattan and Brooklyn. Yet the nation’s largest city recorded only 290 homicides in 2017 — a decline of nearly 90 percent over the past quarter century. Mr. Sessions could just as easily have taken the opportunity to send the Big Apple and the other improving cities his congratulations.”

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

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/sessionss-unwise-move-on-marijuana-may-backfire/2018/01/06/12216a4a-f264-11e7-b3bf-ab90a706e175_story.html

Sessions’s unwise move on marijuana may backfire

January 6 at 7:39 PM

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pushing the federal government back into marijuana enforcement. This is an unwise and unnecessary move that may divert resources from more serious problems — and end up backfiring on those who want to restrain pot use.

Mr. Sessions rescinded Thursday a policy that kept the federal government largely out of the way of states that have legalized marijuana. A majority of states have now legalized it in some form. Maryland just began permitting medical marijuana. California just legalized recreational marijuana, and Vermont is near to doing so.

Mr. Sessions’s move upended a tenuous deal the Obama administration made with legalization states: keep pot out of minors’ hands and help combat trafficking, and federal authorities will focus on bigger priorities. This policy allowed a handful of states room to experiment with unencumbered legalization, which would have made the consequences clearer to others.

Mr. Sessions’s decision is unlikely to result in arrests of small-time marijuana users. But it will chill the growth of the aboveboard weed economy by deterring banks and other institutions from participating. From there, U.S. attorneys across the country will decide whether to crack down, and on whom — a few big distributors, perhaps, or a few local grow shops, too. In states with complex regulations on marijuana growing, testing and selling, some operations may move back underground rather than provide documentation to state authorities that federal prosecutors might later use against them.

Mr. Sessions’s move is counterproductive even for skeptics of legalization, whose only defense against a growing tide of public opinion would be evidence that full legalization has significant negative consequences. Mr. Sessions’s move diminishes the possibility of drawing lessons — including cautionary ones — from the examples of legalization states. Similarly, Mr. Sessions has made it harder to learn how to regulate the legitimate weed economy, if that is the path the country chooses.

Jars of medical marijuana are on display on the counter of Western Caregivers Medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles. (Richard Vogel/Associated Press)

More concerning is the prospect that U.S. attorneys will begin diverting limited federal resources into anti-pot campaigns from far more pressing matters. As Mr. Sessions himself said this past November, the nation is experiencing “the deadliest drug crisis in American history.” That would be the opioid epidemic, which, Mr. Sessions noted, claimed some 64,000 lives in 2016. Marijuana simply does not pose the same threat, and the attorney general should have avoided any suggestion that it requires more attention right now.

Mr. Sessions’s decision will spur calls for Congress to finally change federal law. That is warranted, but lawmakers should be wary of swinging too far in the opposite direction. As a recent National Academies of Science review found, experts still know relatively little about marijuana’s health effects. It makes no sense to lock up small-time marijuana users, but it may not make sense to move quickly to national legalization. Rather, Congress should decriminalize marijuana use, then await more information.”

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Obviously, Gonzo isn’t “winning friends and (favorably) influencing people” with his with his various personal vendettas. And, Trump trashes him one day and pats him on the back the next. But, that doesn’t mean he’s going anywhere soon. Ironically, Senate Democrats, who once called for his resignation, are now defending him in light of calls from various GOP legislators for him to step down.  Also ironically, it’s Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whom Gonzo doesn’t even supervise, who’s probably his “job insurance.” Jonathan Allen at NBC News explains how Gonzo has become the “ultimate survivor” of the Trump Administration.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/why-attorney-general-jeff-sessions-survives-trump-s-wrath-n835251

“POLITICS

Why Attorney General Jeff Sessions survives Trump’s wrath

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is taking so much friendly fire these days that it’s easy to conclude he might soon be shown the Justice Department exit.

President Donald Trump has long been apoplectic over Sessions’ recusal from the Justice Department’s Russia probe — as well as the agency’s passing interest in allegations of misconduct by Trump’s vanquished rival, Hillary Clinton — and the president often criticizes Sessions, the Justice Department and the FBI publicly.

“So General Flynn lies to the FBI and his life is destroyed, while Crooked Hillary Clinton, on that now famous FBI holiday ‘interrogation’ with no swearing in and no recording, lies many times … and nothing happens to her? Rigged system, or just a double standard?” Trump wrote on Twitter last month.

Three House Republicans — Chris Stewart of Utah, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina — called on Sessions to resign this week. In an op-ed in the Washington Examiner, Meadows and Jordan argued that leaks about the Russia investigation show the attorney general doesn’t have control over his department. And there have been reportsthat EPA Chief Scott Pruitt is lining himself up to try to take Sessions’ job.

Third Republican calls for Sessions to resign 0:48

Things have gotten so bad for Sessions that his chief defenders this week were the very same Senate Democrats that had railed against his appointment last year, a function of their fear that a new attorney general would be both more loyal to Trump and more able to affect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

It all adds up to the kind of drumbeat that usually portends the political demise of a Cabinet official.

But on Saturday, Trump sought to quiet Sessions’ critics. Asked whether he stands by his attorney general, Trump replied, “Yes, I do.”

It may be that Sessions is untouchable. At the very least, veteran Washington insiders say, he’s shown a survivor’s instincts for dealing with Trump.

“Sessions has figured out a way to appease Trump at the moments where his ire is at its maximum,” said Brian Fallon, a former Obama Justice Department and Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman who also worked on Capitol Hill. “Sessions finds ways to relieve some of the tension.”

In the latest example, Trump’s fury may have been tempered this week by reports that Sessions’ Justice Department has been investigating the Clinton Foundation and is taking another look at Clinton’s private email server. Trump had publicly pressured Sessions to investigate longtime top Clinton aide Huma Abedin over her handling of classified information.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in an email that the possibility of Sessions losing his job is a “non story” that has been “ginned up by the media.”

But even if he’s not fully pleased with Sessions, Trump may be stuck with him.

On a political level, it’s not clear whether any possible replacement could win Senate confirmation at a time when two GOP defectors would be enough to scuttle a nomination.

And there’s also the tricky legal question of whether firing Sessions could be interpreted as an attempt to obstruct justice in the Mueller probe, especially after The New York Times reported that a Sessions aide tried to dig up dirt on James Comey when the former FBI director testified that his agency was examining possible Trump campaign ties to Russia.

While Sessions may be secure, his No. 2, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, may not be if Trump continues to be displeased with the progress of Mueller’s investigation. With Sessions recused, it’s Rosenstein who oversees Mueller. If Trump decides he wants to fire Mueller, that order would go through Rosenstein, which could set up the kind of constitutional crisis that faced Justice Department executives during the 1973 Saturday Night Massacre.

Back then, President Richard Nixon wanted to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was investigating the Watergate scandal. The top two justice department officials resigned rather than carry out his order, and Cox was eventually fired by Solicitor General Robert Bork at Nixon’s direction. Nixon won the battle but the backlash from his heavy-handed tactics accelerated his defeat in the war to keep his job. The House began impeachment hearings less than two weeks later.

That history is reason enough for Trump to think twice about cashiering Sessions or any other senior Justice Department official.”

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Gonzo’s attacks on African-Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ individuals, state and local officials, and legalized marijuana merchants and users, among others, is an anathema to effective law enforcement! Indeed, these are just the communities whose support and assistance Gonzo and the DOJ would need to actually be effective in fighting serious crime.

Moreover, his false crusades against these groups have made him ignore America’s most pressing problem: combatting the opioid crisis, which would require not just law enforcement but a coordinated effort among Federal, state and local law enforcement, local communities, and medical,social, welfare, and economic development entities, all of which Gonzo has gone out of his was to “dis” or otherwise offend.

On the other hand, as pointed out by Jonathan Allen, for reasons unrelated to his unrelentingly poor administration of “justice,” Sessions might be in charge of his own destiny at the DOJ.

PWS

01-07-18

THE MAN WHO WOULD BE BURGER KING! — SO MANY LIES, SO LITTLE TIME! — TRUMP: “More Whoppers Than Burger King At Lunchtime!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/12/29/in-a-30-minute-interview-president-trump-made-24-false-or-misleading-claims/

 

 

 

Glenn Kessler reports for the Washington Post’s Fact Checker:”

“President Trump gave an impromptu half-hour interview with the New York Times on Dec. 28. We combed through the transcript and here’s a quick roundup of the false, misleading or dubious claims that he made, at a rate of one every 75 seconds. (Some of the interview was off the record, so it’s possible the rate of false claims per minute is higher.)

“Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion. There is no collusion. . . . I saw Dianne Feinstein the other day on television saying there is no collusion.”

Trump appears to be referring to an interview with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. She did not flatly say there was no collusion and instead was more nuanced. Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper on Nov. 5 whether she had “seen any evidence that this dirt, these emails, were ever given to the Trump campaign,” she replied: “Not so far.” Tapper then asked: “Have you seen any communications that suggested that the Trump campaign wanted them to release them through a different means?” She answered: “I have not.”

“I think it’s been proven that there is no collusion.”

Trump is entitled to his own opinion, but he sidesteps the fact that the investigation has revealed that members of the Trump campaign interacted with Russians at least 31 times throughout the campaign. There are at least 19 known meetings, in addition to the indictments or guilty pleas of his campaign manager, national security adviser and others. Here’s The Fact Checker’s video on our count.

3:09
All the times members of the Trump campaign interacted with Russians

The Trump campaign and the White House have said there was no contact between anyone on their staff and Russia. This isn’t true. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)
“There was collusion with the Russians and the Democrats. A lot of collusion. . . . Starting with the dossier. But going into so many other elements. And Podesta’s firm.”

Trump has falsely accused Clinton campaign manager John Podesta of being involved with a Russian company. Tony Podesta co-founded the Podesta Group, a lobbying firm, with his brother John. But it’s a U.S.-based company, not a company in Russia. Trump likely is referring to the Podesta Group being paid $170,000 over six months to represent Sberbank, a Russian bank. The Podesta Group said its work for Sberbank USA was “never about getting sanctions lifted,” and “was simply about helping to clarify to what extent our client, the U.S. subsidiary [of Sberbank], was subject to sanctions. We confirmed they were not.” As for alleged collusion between the Democrats and Russia, Trump is referring to the fact that Fusion GPS, the political research firm that assembled the dossier as part of an assignment for Democrats, relied on a British intelligence agent who used Russian sources for his research. So that’s a rather big stretch.

Here’s the Fact Checker’s video on the Fusion GPS Russian connections.

3:28
What you need to know about Fusion GPS, the Trump dossier and Russian interests

How is Fusion GPS connected to the Trump dossier, Donald Trump Jr.’s Trump Tower meeting and the 2016 election? The Fact Checker explains. (Video: Meg Kelly/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
“I won because I campaigned properly and she didn’t. She campaigned for the popular vote. I campaigned for the electoral college.”

There is no evidence that Hillary Clinton campaigned for the popular vote, which Trump previously has said he would have won if not for fraud. Clinton campaigned in many battleground states, including Republican-leaning ones where she thought she had a chance. She did not campaign as much in two states — Michigan and Wisconsin — that were considered locks for Democrats but which Trump narrowly won. Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million. If 40,000 votes had switched in three states, Trump would have also lost the electoral college.

“Paul [Manafort] only worked for me for a few months.”

Trump skips over lightly the fact that Manafort, now under indictment, was his campaign manager in the critical period in which he secured the nomination and accepted it at the GOP convention.

“There was tremendous collusion on behalf of the Russians and the Democrats. There was no collusion with respect to my campaign.”

This is a breathtakingly false statement. Little evidence has emerged of any collusion between the Democrats and Russia, whereas evidence has emerged of many contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian-linked individuals. The FBI, CIA and National Security Agency earlier this year concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.” The New York Times reported on Dec. 30 that the FBI investigation began because a Trump campaign aide told an Australian diplomat in May 2016 that the Russians had access to emails that would embarrass Clinton, well before research in the “dossier” was started. The Australian government then notified the U.S. government about the conversation.

“What I’ve done is, I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.”

Presidents do not have unfettered right to interfere with Justice Department investigations, unless they are actively seeking a constitutional crisis.

“I’m the one that saved coal. I’m the one that created jobs. You know West Virginia is doing fantastically now.”

West Virginia’s gross domestic product increased 3 percent in the first quarter of 2017. The recent bump is due in part to the increased price of metallurgic coal, which is used to make steel, and a price increase in natural gas exports. West Virginia produces roughly 5 percent of the natural gas in the U.S. and as the price of natural gas rises, the demand for coal increases, spurring growth in the state. Trump can’t take credit for the change in prices, which fluctuate with market forces. He previously earned Four Pinocchios for this claim, but he keeps saying it. As for “saving coal,” there has barely been any job growth in the coal industry since Trump became president. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 900 jobs have been created in the coal industry since Trump became president — an increase of less than 3 percent.

“There is tremendous collusion with the Russians and with the Democratic Party. Including all of the stuff with the — and then whatever happened to the Pakistani guy, that had the two, you know, whatever happened to this Pakistani guy who worked with the DNC?”

Trump echoes a conspiracy theory that a criminal case involving a Pakistani information technology specialist who worked for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz — who had chaired the Democratic National Committee — was somehow related to the Russian hack of DNC emails. The case involves a fraudulent loan, and no evidence has emerged to connect it to the Russia investigation.

“They made the Russian story up as a hoax, as a ruse, as an excuse for losing an election that in theory Democrats should always win with the electoral college. The electoral college is so much better suited to the Democrats.”

Trump is falsely labeling nonpartisan investigations as made up by Democrats. The CIA concluded in 2016 that Russia intervened in the U.S. presidential election to help elect Trump, an assessment backed up by FBI Director James B. Comey and then-Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. As we noted, the intelligence community released a declassified report expressing “high confidence” in this judgment. Senate and House committees led by Republicans have begun their own investigations, and a special prosecutor has been appointed. Meanwhile, Democrats obviously do not have an electoral college lock. According to a tally by John Pitney of Claremont McKenna College, every Republican president since Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 won a larger share of the electoral college votes than Trump, with the exception of George W. Bush (twice) and Richard Nixon in 1968.

“I was for Strange, and I brought Strange up 20 points. Just so you understand. When I endorsed him, he was in fifth place. He went way up. Almost 20 points.”

Polls indicate that Trump’s endorsement made little difference in the Alabama senate race — and in fact Luther Strange lost to Roy Moore by a greater margin than polls suggested at the time of Trump’s endorsement. While Trump says Strange was in fifth place, there were only three candidates in the GOP primary.

“I endorsed him [Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore]. It became a much closer race because of my endorsement. People don’t say that. They say, ‘Oh, Donald Trump lost.’ I didn’t lose, I brought him up a lot.”

Polls can vary, but there is little evidence this is the case. The fact remains that Moore lost an election in a state where Democrats usually lose by double digits.

“We have spent, as of about a month ago, $7 trillion in the Middle East. And the Middle East is worse than it was 17 years ago. … $7 trillion.”

Trump, who previously would cite a number of $6 trillion, is lumping together the wars in Iraq (in the Middle East) and Afghanistan (in Central or South Asia), which together cost about $1.6 trillion from 2001 to 2014. He is also adding in estimates of future spending, such as interest on the debt and veterans’ care for the next three decades.

“By the way, and for that, we’ve ended across state lines. So we have competition. You know for that I’m allowed to [inaudible] state lines. So that’s all done.”

Trump signed an executive order encouraging the formation of health plans across state lines. But there is still a law in place that exempts insurance companies from aspects of federal antitrust law and ensures that individual states remained the primary regulators of insurance. We wrote about this before, when Vice President Pence earned Four Pinocchios for a false claim.

“I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A. I know the details of health care better than most, better than most.”

Lawmakers who dealt with Trump on taxes and especially health care privately told reporters they were shocked how little he knew about these issues.

“We’ve created associations, millions of people are joining associations. Millions. That were formerly in Obamacare or didn’t have insurance. Or didn’t have health care. Millions of people.”

Trump is referring to an executive order, mentioned above, but it has no force in law on its own and no one has yet joined these associations. The rules spelling out how the executive order would work have not been issued yet, so Trump is simply making up his “millions” number.

“Now that the individual mandate is officially killed, people have no idea how big a deal that was. It’s the most unpopular part of Obamacare. But now, Obamacare is essentially … You know, you saw this. … It’s basically dead over a period of time.”

While the individual mandate was an important incentive for Americans to seek health insurance, it was only one part of a far-reaching law that remains intact. The repeal does not take effect until 2019, and enrollment in Obamacare has remained strong. The Congressional Budget Office says the marketplaces are expected to remain stable for years.

“We see the drugs pouring into the country, we need the wall.”

The wall will have virtually no effect on drugs coming into the country. According to reports by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the majority of drugs are smuggled through legal ports of entry or smuggled through underground tunnels. Trump previously earned Four Pinocchios for this claim, but he keeps saying it.

“They have a lottery in these countries. They take the worst people in the country, they put them into the lottery, then they have a handful of bad, worse ones, and they put them out. ‘Oh, these are the people the United States.’ … We’re going to get rid of the lottery.”

This is a gross misrepresentation of the diversity visa program. Individuals apply for the visa system, and must have at least a high school diploma or work in specific industries to be eligible for the program. As the term “lottery” implies, applicants are selected via a randomized computer drawing. The selected applicants undergo a background check before entering the country, and some applicants undergo an additional in-depth review if they are considered a security risk.”

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Well, you get the picture. It just goes on and on. Get all the “whoppers” at the link. Having a congenital liar as our leader can’t come out well for the U.S.

Happy New Year!

PWS

12-31-17

 

 

 

 

 

HAITIANS TO TRUMPIE: WE’VE BEEN MAKING AMERICA GREAT FOR GENERATIONS — (AND WE DON’T ALL HAVE AIDS, EITHER)!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2017/12/28/no-president-trump-we-haitians-dont-all-have-aids/

 

Joel Dreyfuss In the WashPost:

R“Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign featured a persistent attack on immigrants. So as a Haitian immigrant, I was surprised when candidate Trump praised our values and work ethic and declared to a crowd of Haitian Americans in Miami’s Little Haiti, “I really want to be your greatest champion.”

Apparently, Trump’s public declaration of love for Haitians — conveniently stated at an anti-Hillary Clinton rally — was contradicted by his private beliefs. The New York Times recently reported that he allegedly fumed at a Cabinet meeting on immigration in June that Haitians “all have AIDS.” (He also reportedly claimed that Nigerians would never go “back to their huts.”)

Even though the White House has disputed the report, it’s clearly not a great stretch to think that he did say such things. These comments are consistent with his characterization of other immigrant groups as drug dealers, rapists and potential terrorists.

Such a negative view would help explain why his administration decided last month to expel 59,000 Haitians living in the United States under temporary protected status (TPS) after the disasters of the 2010 earthquake that killed some 300,000 Haitians and the devastation of Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The Trump administration insisted that the emergency no longer existed, despite the prevailing view of most experts (and politicians from his own Republican Party) that impoverished Haiti is not ready to absorb such a large number of Haitians who have lived abroad for so long.

Trump may think of Haitians as a disease, but the reality is that we’ve helped make America great. More than 700,000 Haitians live in the United States (the actual number may be double the official tally), and they have plenty of success stories to counter Trump’s narrow view. I serve on the board of a Haitian American organization that identifies and celebrates the success of Haitian immigrants in America. We are university presidents, doctors, lawyers, journalists, professors, teachers, nurses, NFL stars, office workers and cabdrivers.

Haitian Americans and those of Haitian descent have been elected to city and state governments in Massachusetts, Illinois and Florida and even to Congress (e.g. Rep. Mia Love, Republican of Utah). President Barack Obama’s last ambassador to South Africa came to America as a child with his Haitian parents.

Trump is not the first person to link Haitians to HIV/AIDS. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first noticed cases of the disease among Haitians in the 1980s, it noted that risk factors were different from those in the United States, where the disease was associated with gays and intravenous drug users. Haitians as a group were classified as particularly at risk. For several years, all Haitians — even those of us who had grown up in the United States — were barred from giving blood. After vigorous protests by Haitians, the conclusion of researchers was deemed an error; cultural taboos had Haitians denying to researchers that they had engaged in prostitution, gay sex or drug use. New evidence led to removal of the hurtful stigma. Trump doesn’t appear to have received the second memo.

Trump should actually be quite familiar with Haitians. His native New York has long been a haven for Haitian Americans, going back to the Haitian Revolution of the 1790s. Pierre Toussaint was brought to New York by a slave owner escaping the growing unrest in what was then a French Caribbean colony. Toussaint eventually was freed and became a major financial contributor to the construction of the original Saint Patrick’s church in lower Manhattan. The Vatican has started the process to make him a saint for his many charitable works. You’d think that one builder would have respect for another.

But we Haitians are accustomed to being seen as pariahs. Because Haiti freed itself from French rule and permanently abolished slavery 60 years before the United States, it was viewed with fear and suspicion in the 19th century by the slave-owning nations that surrounded it. Some Southern newspapers even barred any mention of Haiti. The young nation was forced to pay a vast indemnity to France for the empire’s lost slaves and plantations, a burden that put Haiti on a long-term path to poverty.

As black immigrants to the United States, Haitians have not always been as welcome as others. But we have made the best of opportunities in America by overcoming obstacles. One fickle champion will not stop us.”

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There is probably no more “under-appreciated” group than Haitian Americans. Undoubtedly, there has been a heavy dose of racism in our unwillingness to welcome Haitian refugees on the same basis as we have Cubans or Eastern Europeans.

And, as I have pointed out before, the Trump Administration’s decision to terminate Haitian TPS, opposed by a number of prominent Republicans, is indefensible (and dumb to boot).

PWS

12-29-17

 

DEPORTATION REGIME: Long-Time GOP Voter Rebels When Deportation Hits Close To Home!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/the-air-force-colonel-the-ballroom-dance-instructor-and-the-us-immigration-system/2017/12/27/1b2500f6-e419-11e7-833f-155031558ff4_story.html

 

Maria Sacchetti reports for WashPost:

“For most of the past six decades, the Republican Party could count on Charlie Heimach. The retired Air Force colonel donated money to President Richard Nixon, backed Ronald Reagan and both Bushes, and cast his ballot last year for Donald Trump.

But in the recent Virginia governor’s race, Heimach voted for the Democrat, because of the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration, and its attempts to deport a ballroom dancing instructor from the studio where Heimach, 79, likes to Lindy Hop.

Since May, Heimach and a disparate crew of lawyers, military veterans, a dog walker, an entomologist and others united in their love for dancing have been on a crusade to protect the instructor they call “G,” an undocumented immigrant from Mongolia who was arrested twice in 2016 for drunken driving.

To some, their efforts are misguided — even dangerous.

But the ballroom dancers say Galtsog Gantulga is a gifted instructor who senses when his students need to talk or want to dance but are too shy to take the initiative. He hurt no one in the two drunken driving incidents, they point out, and has served time behind bars. He also sold his car and joined Alcoholics Anonymous.

In the America these dancers know, such a person deserves another chance, a view not always held in the U.S. immigration system.

For the moment, thanks to their persistence, Gantulga has a reprieve.

“He built his life over here,” said Mealy Chhim, a retired software engineer who was part of the effort. “He just messed up.”

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Read Maria’s complete article at the link.

This is why guys like Trump, Gonzo, and Homan invariably strive to “dehumanize” immigrants in pushing their harsh deportation agenda.

PWS

12-27-17