Musings on Events in U.S. Immigration Court, Immigration Law, Sports, and Other Random Topics by Retired United States Immigration Judge (Arlington, Virginia) and former Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals Paul Wickham Schmidt. To see my complete professional bio, just click on the link below.
“When rapid immigration and terrorist attacks occur simultaneously — and the terrorists belong to the same ethnic or religious group as the new immigrants — the combination of fear and xenophobia can be dangerous and destructive. In much of Europe, fear of jihadists (who pose a genuine security threat) and animosity toward refugees (who generally do not) have been conflated in a way that allows far-right populists to seize on Islamic State attacks as a pretext to shut the doors to desperate refugees, many of whom are themselves fleeing the Islamic State, and to engage in blatant discrimination against Muslim fellow citizens.
But this isn’t happening only in European countries. In recent years, anti-immigration rhetoric and nativist policies have become the new normal in liberal democracies from Europe to the United States. Legitimate debates about immigration policy and preventing extremism have been eclipsed by an obsessive focus on Muslims that paints them as an immutable civilizational enemy that is fundamentally incompatible with Western democratic values.
Yet despite the breathless warnings of impending Islamic conquest sounded by alarmist writers and pandering politicians, the risk of Islamization of the West has been greatly exaggerated. Islamists are not on the verge of seizing power in any advanced Western democracy or even winning significant political influence at the polls.
The same cannot be said of white nationalists, who today are on the march from Charlottesville, Va., to Dresden, Germany. As an ideology, white nationalism poses a significantly greater threat to Western democracies; its proponents and sympathizers have proved, historically and recently, that they can win a sizable share of the vote — as they did this year in France, Germany and the Netherlands — and even win power, as they have in the United States.
Far-right leaders are correct that immigration creates problems; what they miss is that they are the primary problem. The greatest threat to liberal democracies does not come from immigrants and refugees but from the backlash against them by those on the inside who are exploiting fear of outsiders to chip away at the values and institutions that make our societies liberal.
Anti-Semitic and xenophobic movements did not disappear from Europe after the liberation of Auschwitz, just as white supremacist groups have lurked beneath the surface of American politics ever since the Emancipation Proclamation. What has changed is that these groups have now been stirred from their slumber by savvy politicians seeking to stoke anger toward immigrants, refugees and racial minorities for their own benefit. Leaders from Donald Trump to France’s Marine Le Pen have validated the worldview of these groups, implicitly or explicitly encouraging them to promote their hateful opinions openly. As a result, ideas that were once marginal have now gone mainstream.”
Read the entire article at the link.
I’ve said it before: Donald Trump and his “fellow travelers” are the biggest threat to our democracy, safety, and security.
“Detention as a tool of immigration enforcement has increased dramatically following immigration reforms enacted in 1996. Two Supreme Court cases at the dawn of the new millennium offered contrasting approaches to the review of decisions of the U.S. government to detain immigrants. In 2001, in Zadvydas v. Davis, the Supreme Court interpreted an immigration statute to require judicial review of a detention decision because “to permit indefinite detention of an alien would cause a serious constitutional problem.” Just two years later, the court in Demore v. Kim invoked the “plenary power” doctrine – something exceptional to immigration law and inconsistent with modern constitutional law – to immunize from review a provision of the immigration statute requiring detention of immigrants awaiting removal based on a crime.
How the Supreme Court reconciles these dueling decisions will no doubt determine the outcome in Jennings v. Rodriguez. This case involves the question whether immigrants, like virtually any U.S. citizen placed in criminal or civil detention, must be guaranteed a bond hearing and possible release from custody. Relying on Zadvydas v. Davis, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed a district court injunction that avoided “a serious constitutional problem” by requiring bond hearings every six months for immigrant detainees. The court of appeals further mandated that, in order to continue to detain an immigrant, the government must prove that the noncitizen poses a flight risk or a danger to public safety.”
Read the rest of Dean Johnson’s analysis at the link.
This is huge in human rights. A “W” for the Administration, which many observers view as likely with the advent of Justice Gorsuch, will essentially “Green Light” the Trump-Sessions-Miller plan to construct the “New American Gulag.” The Gulag’s “prisoners” will be noncriminal migrants (many of them women fleeing violence in the Northern Triangle) whose only “crime” is to assert their rights for due process and justice under our laws.
The concept that migrants have rights is something that sticks in the craws of the White Nationalists. So, punishing them for asserting their rights (with an objective of coercing them into giving up their rights and leaving “voluntarily”) is the next best thing to denying them entirely (which the Administration routinely does whenever it thinks it can get away with it — and the Article IIIs have largely, but not entirely, been asleep at the switch here).
And, make no mistake about it, as study after study has shown, the “conditions of civil detention” in the Gulag are substandard. So much so that in the last Administration DHS’s own study committee actually recommended an end to private immigration detention contracts and a phasing out of so-called “family detention.” The response of the Trump White Nationalists: ignore the facts and double down on the inhumanity.
Based on recent news reports, DHS immigration detainees die at a rate of approximately one per month. And many more suffer life changing and life threatening medical and psychiatric conditions while in detention. Just “collateral damage” in “Gonzo speak.”
Immigration detainees are often held without bond or with bonds that are so unrealistically high that they effectively amount to no bond. And, in many cases (like the one here) they are denied even minimal access to a U.S. Immigration Judge to have the reasons for detention reviewed.
Plus, as I reported recently, across the nation DHS is refusing to negotiate bonds for those eligible. They are also appealing Immigration Judge decisions to release migrants on bond pending hearings, apparently without any regard to the merits of the IJ’s decision. In other words, DHS is abusing the immigration appeals system for the purpose of harassing migrants who won’t agree to waive their rights to a due process hearing and depart!
Also, as I pointed out, in the “no real due process” world of the U.S. Immigration Courts, the DHS prosecutors can unilaterally block release of a migrant on bond pending appeal. In most cases this means that the individual remains in detention until the Immigration Judge completes the “merits hearing.” At that point the BIA determines that the DHS bond appeal is “moot” and dismisses it without ever reaching the merits. Just another bogus “production” statistic generated by EOIR!
Oh, and by the way, contrary to “Gonzo” Session’s false and misleading rhetoric on so-called “Sanctuary Cities,” one of the things jurisdictions that rationally choose to limit cooperation with DHS enforcement to those with significant criminal records are doing is protecting their law-abiding, productive migrant residents and migrant communities from the patent abuses of the “American Gulag.” “Gonzo policies” predictably drive reasonable people to take protective actions.
But, some day, the bureaucrats, complicit judges (particularly life-tenured Article III Judges, like the Supremes), reactionary legislators who turn their backs on human suffering, and misguided voters who have allowed this human rights travesty to be perpetrated on American soil will be held accountable, by the forces of history if nothing else.
“On September 4, immigration judge Denise Slavin followed orders from the Department of Justice to drop everything and travel to the U.S.-Mexico border. She would be leaving behind an overwhelming docket in Baltimore, but she was needed at “ground zero,” as Attorney General Jeff Sessions called it—the “sliver of land” where Americans take a stand against machete-wielding, poison-smuggling criminal gangs and drug cartels.
As part of a new Trump administration program to send justices on short-term missions to the border to speed up deportations and, Sessions pledged, reduce “significant backlogs in our immigration courts,” Slavin was to spend two weeks at New Mexico’s Otero County Processing Center.
But when Slavin arrived at Otero, she found her caseload was nearly half empty. The problem was so widespread that, according to internal Justice Department memos, nearly half the 13 courts charged with implementing Sessions’ directive could not keep their visiting judges busy in the first two months of the new program.
“Judges were reading the newspaper,” says Slavin, the executive vice president of the National Immigration Judges Association and an immigration judge since 1995. One, she told POLITICO Magazine, “spent a day helping them stock the supply room because she had nothing else to do.”
Slavin ended up leaving Otero early because she had no cases her last day. “One clerk said it was so great, it was like being on vacation,” she recalls.
In January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing the DOJ to deploy U.S. immigration judges to U.S. detention facilities—most of which are located on or near the U.S.-Mexico border. The temporary reassignments were intended to lead to more and faster deportations, as well astake some pressure off thecurrently overloaded immigration court system. But, according to interviews and internal DOJ memos, since the new policy went into effect in March, it seems to have had the opposite result: Judges have frequently had to cancel cases on their overloaded home dockets only to find barely any work at their assigned courts—exacerbating the U.S. immigration court backlog that now exceeds 600,000 cases.
According to internal memos sent by the DOJ’s Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) and obtained by the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) via a Freedom of Information Act request, judges delayed more than 20,000 home court hearings for their details to the border from March to May.
“I canceled about 100 cases in my home court to hear 20,” says Slavin, who was forced to postpone those Baltimore hearings by a year since her court schedule was already booked through most of 2018. In Otero, she had no more than 50 hours of work over the course of two weeks (she typically clocks 50 hours per week in Baltimore). But she couldn’t catch up on her work at home because she had no access to her files.
Her three colleagues at the facility who had also been ordered there by the DOJwere no busier. One who had been sent to Otero previously told her the empty caseloads were normal.
“Sending judges to the border has made the backlog in the interior of the country grow,” says Slavin, “It’s done exactly the opposite of what they hoped to accomplish.”
On April 11 in Nogales, Arizona, Sessions formally rolled out the DOJ’s judge relocation program. “I am also pleased to announce a series of reforms regarding immigration judges to reduce the significant backlogs in our immigration courts,” he told the crowd of Customs and Border Protection personnel gathered to hear him. “Pursuant to the president’s executive order, we will now be detaining all adults who are apprehended at the border. To support this mission, we have already surged 25 immigration judges to detention centers along the border.”
The idea was to send U.S. immigration court judges currently handling “non-detained” immigration cases—cases such as final asylum decisions and immigrants’ applications for legal status—to centers where they would only adjudicate cases of those detained crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, along with others who had been picked up by ICE for possible deportation. More judges would follow, the attorney general said.
But as Sessions spoke, nearly half of those 25 “surge” judges—whose deployments typically last two weeks or a month—were largely unoccupied. One week before the attorney general’s Nogales announcement, EOIR—the Justice Department office that handles immigration cases—published an internal memo identifying six of 13 detention centersas offering inadequate work for their visiting justices.
“There are not enough cases to fill one immigration judge’s docket, let alone five,” the DOJ wrote of Texas’ T. Don Hutto facility, which had been assigned five Miami judges to hold hearings via video teleconference with the women detained there.
One judge sent to the South Texas Residential Center, a family detention facility, had no cases at all; a judge at another family facility, Karnes Residential Center, had a “light” docket; and Texas’ Prairieland Detention Center, which had received a judge, also was “not receiving enough cases to fill a docket or even come close to it,” the memo stated.
The two judges assigned to New Mexico’s Cibola Detention Facility also had barely any work to do, and Louisiana’s La Salle Detention Center—not on the border but treated as such in its receipt of five “surge” judges—had similarly been overstaffed. “There is not enough work for five judges,” said one DOJ memo. “There is enough work for a reasonable docket and three judges.”
The Justice Department documents also revealed a number of logistical issues with the border courts, including a lack of phone lines or internet connectivity, and noise infiltrating the courtroom from the detention facility. “The courtrooms at Imperial Regional Detention Facility are not suitable for in-person hearings because security is wholly inadequate,” said one memo of the California facility. “The court cannot do telephonic interpreters and the request for in-person interpreters remains pending. … Last week an immigration judge was left in the courtroom without a bailiff.”
Meanwhile, the judges sent to the border were forced to abandon thousands of home court cases—which the DOJ was aware could increase pressure on the U.S. immigration court system, where a specialized cadre of judges handles questions over whether people can remain in the country or face deportation. “It is likely that the backlog will increase for the locations from which a judge is assigned,” predicted one March 29 document, which also projected the deployments would cost $21 million per fiscal year.
Within the first three months of the program, judges postponed about 22,000 cases around the country, including 2,774 in New York City alone, according to the DOJ memos. (The delays added to an already clogged system: New York City’s immigration court backlog stood at 81,842 as of July, according to the immigration data tracker TRAC Immigration.)
When asked about these FOIA documents, and why the DOJ had deployed judges where they were not needed, a Justice Department spokesmanresponded that the program had improved in recent months. “After the initial deployment, an assessment was done to determine appropriate locations to increase the adjudication of immigration court cases without compromising due process,” he said.
Immigration judges and advocates acknowledge that the program has slightly improved since May—but many say that’s largely because the DOJ is sending fewer judges on temporary missions. “Some of the least productive assignments have either been discontinued or converted to video teleconferencing hearings, and it seems that fewer judges are being sent overall,” says National Association of Immigration Judges President Dana Marks, who serves as an immigration judge in San Francisco. But, she says, “the basic problem still persists.”
More than 100 total judges have been reassigned since March, but Politico was not able to obtain data on whether deployments are declining or increasing, or how many judges are still facing empty caseloads.
The spokesperson declined to comment on Slavin’s experience at Otero. But the DOJ discontinued deployments to Otero this month, as soon as Slavin completed her assignment there.
The U.S. immigration court backlog has increased under Trump, moving from 540,000 in January to 600,000 in July. But the DOJ spokesperson denied thatthe deployments were responsible for the bump, instead blaming the overloaded system on the Obama administration’s policies. He noted that the first six months of the Trump administration had seen a14.5 percent increase in final immigration court rulings from the previous year,and that more than 90 percent of cases by “surge” judges had led to deportation orders.
But just because judges have ruled on more cases doesn’t mean the Trump administration hasn’t worsened the backlog, NIJC communications director Tara Tidwell Cullen says. In fact, it could likely mean the opposite. Trump’s first six months in power saw 40 percent more immigration arrests in the country’s interior than the year before, adding more cases to already overloaded dockets.
“The ‘home’ courts where judges are sent from continue to be understaffed and their caseloads are adversely impacted as judges are sent to temporary assignments,” adds Marks, the San Francisco judge. Adding to the problem, she points out, istheadministration’s decision to detain immigrants without allowing the Department of Homeland Security to grant them bonds. Now, detainees have to go to immigration court to get a bond, creating extra work for those justices.
Not everyone thinks sending judges to the border is a bad idea.
“The best use of resources is to throw them all at detention,” says Leon Fresco, who served as deputy assistant attorney general under President Barack Obama. Judges typically release individuals detained for more than 90 days with no trial on habeas corpus, he explains, in which case the government has “wasted money in detaining them” to start. Better, then, to hear all the detained cases quickly.
Any administration will have to make tough calls, says Fresco. “You have just about 300 judges to hear more than 500,000 cases, so you have to prioritize.” Under Obama, the DOJ—while it hadn’t sent judges to the border—had also prioritized recent border crossers in order to send a message that the U.S. would immediately hear their cases, rather than allow them to “wait eight years to be adjudicated” while staying in the country, Fresco says. Trump’s priorities similarly send a message to potential border crossers that “we do have quick justice.”
The problem, Fresco adds, is that the Trump administration has been clumsy in its border deployments—sending judges to places where they aren’t needed. “There are ways to do this, but they need to be more flexible and nimble, and they’re not being as nimble as they can be,” he says. “EOIR is an agency badly in need of some sort of consulting firm. … There’s still too little rhyme or reason about how case assignments work—you shouldn’t have weeks with judges with hours of idle time.”
Chicago immigration judge Robert D. Vinikoor says his deployment went smoothly. He had a full caseload in his two-week detail at Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego this April, and he maintains that the reassigned judges were necessary to get immigrants out of detention as expeditiously as possible. “DHS is detaining more and more people and keeping them in custody, so that’s the need for the judges,” says Vinikoor, who retired in June after serving 33 years as an immigration judge. “The question is: Are they over-detailing? In some cases they put the cart before the horse.”
But Marks, who has been an immigration judge for 30 years, disagrees. Even if the DOJ gets deployments right, she says, the surge policy shows the administration has the wrong priorities. She says the administration’s biggest mistake was making a “politically motivated decision” and not consulting immigration judges. “The judges weren’t asked and that’s always been our big frustration,” she says.” The judges are the ones who are the experts in handling their cases.”
Marks notes that her union had similar frustrations with the Obama administration’s prioritization of recent border crossers—predominantly Central American women and children seeking asylum—to send a message they would be deported quickly if they could not prove they qualified for asylum. That decision, she says, worsened the backlog, too.
The overloaded system jeopardizes due process for immigrants, says NIJC’s policy director Heidi Altman, who filed the FOIA for EOIR’s memos after hearing about “chaos” in the courts when the border details began.
“When the backlog is exacerbated it makes it exponentially harder for us and other legal services to take on clients,” says Altman, whose NIJC organizes pro-bono attorneys handling immigration cases, which do not guarantee legal representation. Without a lawyer handling a case, she says, it is less likely to proceed fairly.
But there’s another reason that Trump might want to reconsider the border surge, says John Sandweg, former acting director of ICE under the Obama administration: It takes the pressure off the undocumented immigrants who have lived in the country for years and may be fighting to prevent an order of deportation.“They’re basically giving amnesty ironically to the non-detained docket.”
“By shifting the judges away they’ll never have their hearing so they’ll never be ordered deported,” he says. “You’re letting them stay.”
“An emerging list of conservative demands is threatening to derail the fledgling bipartisan effort to preserve the Obama administration program protecting from deportation 690,000 illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children.
President Trump discussed the outlines of a potential deal to protect those covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program with Democratic congressional leaders at a White House dinner this month. The tentative deal would couple permanent protections for those immigrants with improved border security.
But key conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are coalescing around a broader suite of policies as a condition of backing a deal, and that has Democrats and moderate Republicans warning that the current, fragile consensus could quickly break apart.
In the Senate, James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) introduced a conservative alternative this week to the Dream Act, a bipartisan bill that has some moderate Republican support and that Democrats want to pass as part of any deal with Trump.
[Trump, top Democrats agree to work on deal to save ‘dreamers’ from deportation]
The Lankford-Tillis bill, known as the Succeed Act, sets out a more onerous path to legal status for the immigrants in question, and it includes provisions barring them from taking advantage of existing laws that allow legal immigrants to petition authorities to allow foreign relatives to come to the United States.
Critics say those laws foster “chain migration,” inflating the amount of legal immigration. Eliminating the possibility of petitioning on behalf of relatives abroad is among another set of policies that House conservatives are pursuing on a separate track.
Key White House officials, including senior adviser Stephen Miller, have worked with members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus and other Republican lawmakers to hone a list of policy demands that go beyond the border security provisions on which Democrats have signaled they are willing to negotiate.
It is unclear to what extent Trump himself will support these provisions as part of the effort to negotiate a solution for “dreamers,” as the childhood arrivals are known. But the proposals are gaining adherents among some of the president’s strongest backers in Congress.
[Trump administration announces end of immigration protection program for ‘dreamers’]
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the Freedom Caucus chairman, said in an interview this week that a working list of policies that conservatives may demand includes ending the “chain migration” laws; mandating that employers use E-Verify, an online federal system to determine people’s eligibility to work in the United States; stepping up enforcement against those overstaying legitimate visas; and limiting protections for those who seek asylum at U.S. borders.”
Read the rest of the article at the link.
These toxic dudes never miss a chance to push their White Nationalist anti-American agenda. Frankly, we don’t need to plow more resources into already perfectly adequate border security, and there is certainly no need for more immigration agents who have so little to do now that they can squander time busting law-abiding American residents, guarding their agency bosses, staking out hospitals and courthouses, and screwing up already out of control Immigration Court dockets. Where’s the accountability for efficient and rational use of resources? But, those could be trade-offs that the Dems could make to save the Dreamers. (Honestly, given some of the other garbage the GOP has put out there, funding “The Wall” seems like the least harmful of the trade-offs in human terms. Money gets wasted, America looks foolish, but nobody gets hurt and it won’t tank our economy like the restrictionist agenda on legal immigration would).
But, the hard core xenophobic White Nationalist agenda being pushed by Miller, the “Freedom” Caucus, and other restrictionists out to limit legal immigration, deny due process, and make a mockery out of our legal and moral obligations to refugees — No Way! The Dems would have to “Just Say No.”
The “Ace in the Hole” for the Dems: There is neither the ability nor the moral willingness on the part of the majority of decent Americans to deport 800,000 American young people. They might end up “hanging in limbo” till some future date when responsible government once again gains the upper hand over the “wrecking crew.”
“Most intriguingly, some have said that black players ought to protest exclusively in ways white football fans approve of. The author John Pavlovitz has explicitly named this latter critique “the arrogant heart of privilege.” As he put it, this defines that core of white privilege: “being the beneficiaries of systematic injustice, and then wanting to make the rules for the marginalized in how they should speak into that injustice.”
This is an incredibly astute and important observation, but in the past few days another more sinister theme has emerged in the attack on professional athletes and their acts of silent protest. It’s a second coming of Trump’s ongoing war on truth, except in this iteration, the attack is on the truths of others. No longer content to simply lie about things, this White House wants to tell you what other people actually mean when they speak. Nobody better captured this mentality than Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. During Monday’s White House press briefing, Sanders was asked why the president wouldn’t acknowledge that players who knelt during the national anthem were doing so to protest racism and police brutality. Questioned about Trump’s claim that “the issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race,” Sanders responded, “I think the focus has long since changed.” She amplified that unsupported claim by saying that the players were protesting incorrectly to begin with. “I think if the debate is really, for them, about police brutality, they should probably protest the officers on the field that are protecting them instead of the American flag,” she offered.
That takes us from privilege to silencing, and it’s not a move that should go unremarked.
So, when Colin Kaepernick explicitly says time and time and time again that he is protesting police brutality, he is wrong. And when another player, Eric Reid, said on Monday that players are taking a knee expressly not to protest the flag or the military, but to protest the “incredible number of unarmed black people being killed by the police,” he is also wrong. What Sanders and Trump are saying here exemplifies one of the most grotesque aspects of unchecked privilege. It transcends even patronizing lectures about how black men should protest in such a way as to avoid offending white people. This is an attempt to dictate—with the threat of job loss—the very ability of some black men to have and maintain control over their own speech. What the president and Sanders are claiming is that they are better situated than the actual speakers to understand what those speakers are saying. That takes us from privilege to silencing, and it’s not a move that should go unremarked.
. . . .
The president and Sarah Huckabee Sanders have the double luxury of being able to claim to know what NFL players really mean by their protests, and also being able to invent fake after-the-fact rationales with which to cover their own false and racially inflammatory statements. Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have that luxury. He doesn’t—at this moment—even have a job. If we are truly interested in anything that resembles truth seeking anymore, instead of allowing this controversy to be sidetracked by those who would put false words in a protester’s mouth, let’s give him the dignity of accepting at face value the real words and intentions he claims for himself.“
Trump is indeed the “Ugly American.” And, that doesn’t say much for those among us who continue to apologize for and enable his dishonest, damaging, divisive, and truly reprehensible conduct.
“President Trump will make another decision this month that will affect thousands of people: How many refugees will the United States admit in fiscal year 2018?
The president already cut refugee admissions by more than half this year, from more than 100,000 down to 50,000. By way of comparison, the highest ceiling under President Ronald Reagan was 140,000. The president has also signaled, through his executive orders and in his budget proposal, that these cuts will carry over to next year. And in fact, some in his administration are trying to convince him to cut even further.
This would be a mistake. Cutting refugee admittances would not only be a moral failure but also damage our national interest abroad and our economy.
Of course, security is an imperative, and the refugee resettlement program is secure. U.S. security and intelligence agencies conduct multiple reviews on every refugee admitted, and only those approved for admission by the Department of Homeland Security are granted refuge in the United States.
There is also the humanitarian imperative: We are in the midst of the greatest refugee crisis on record, with more than 22 million people seeking safety from violence, conflict and persecution all over the world. The vast majority of refugees — nearly 90 percent — are hosted by poor and middle-income countries. Only the most vulnerable — those whose safety cannot be assured in their countries of first refuge — are selected for resettlement. For these refugees — widowed women; orphaned children; survivors of rape, torture and brutal religious persecution — refugee resettlement is a lifeline.
But what’s in it for the United States?
Strategic allies located near crises host the largest refugee populations in the world. Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan and Kenya are among the top refugee-hosting states. Their willingness to host millions of refugees contributes greatly to regional stability and security, all in regions where U.S. troops are deployed. As our military works to contain terrorist insurgencies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and the Horn of Africa, forcing refugees to return to unsafe and unstable countries would make countering terrorism more difficult.
That’s why in 2016, when the Kenyan government threatened to close the Dadaab refugee camp and forcibly return more than 250,000 Somalis to an unstable Somalia, then-Secretary of State John F. Kerry got on a plane to Kenya. It’s also why the United States should be concerned that more than 700,000 Afghan registered and unregistered refugees have been returned to Afghanistan since 2016 — a threefold increase from 2015 — at a time when growing instability in Afghanistan and terrorist gains are forcing an increase in U.S. troop levels.
If we’re not willing to do our fair share, how can we ask front-line allies to do more?
Maintaining resettlement commitments is also critical to our military, diplomatic and intelligence operations abroad. Tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan nationals have put their lives on the line to support intelligence-gathering, operations planning and other essential services. Terrorist groups openly target these individuals because of their cooperation with Americans. Resettlement is instrumental to ensuring their safety — a testament to the U.S. military’s commitment to leave no one behind on the battlefield.
And in a proud American tradition, Republican and Democratic presidents have used refugee admissions to signal support for those who reject ideologies antithetical to U.S. values. In the past few decades, we have raised our admissions ceilings to take in those fleeing communist uprisings, religious persecution and tyranny.
Today, the United States must provide unwavering support for Muslims who put their lives at risk to reject terrorist ideologies, many of whom refused to join or be conscripted into terrorist groups, militias and state security forces persecuting their fellow citizens. The Islamic State considers all those who flee its rule as heretics subject to execution. Those who risk their lives — and their children’s lives — to reject terrorism must know, as a matter of our fight against extremism, that the United States supports and welcomes them.
Even in the wake of 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our country’s history, President George W. Bush deliberately and explicitly maintained a refugee admissions ceiling of 70,000 annually, affirming the United States’ great humanitarian tradition.
Finally, refugees enrich and are deeply supported by our communities. Hundreds of mayors, faith leaders and business leaders have attested to the contributions refugees make. Thousands of Americans donate volunteer hours, in-kind goods and services, and private dollars to support refugees. One study estimates only 39 percent of the costs of resettlement are covered by federal dollars.
Despite being among the most vulnerable and destitute when they arrive, refugees thrive. Entrepreneurship among refugees is nearly 50 percent higher than among U.S.-born populations, creating jobs for Americans. More than 57 percent of them are homeowners.
Our values and our national security interests argue for raising our refugee ceiling, not lowering it. The president should seize the mantle of Reagan and fortify U.S. leadership on refugees.”
I’ll admit to not always being a Chertoff fan. In particular, his failure to support internal efforts to institute a strong prosecutorial discretion program at ICE that would have empowered the Chief Counsel to control the Immigration Courts’ growing docket was unfortunate, given his legal and judicial background.
But, I agree with what Chertoff says here. Just compare the power, logic, and moral authority of his statement with the mealy-mouthed, cowardly, morally vapid lies flowing from the mourths of xenophobic, disingenuous, fear mongers like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, Rep. Steve King, and the rest of the White Nationalist crowd!
Refugeees make America great! White Nationalist xenophobes, not so much!
“In 2016, the last year of President Obama’s administration, the U.S. accepted 85,000 refugees and set a goal of bumping that number up to 110,00 this year. Those plans changed with President Trump’s so-called travel ban, which set the refugee limit at 50,000 for 2016. Now, the administration is considering setting that number even lower for 2018, despite the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
The President has until October 1 to set a refugee ceiling and, the Times reports, there’s a debate raging in the White House about whether the number should be reduced to numbers not seen in decades. Leading the arguments against cutting the totals is Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller, an immigration hawk and ally of Steve Bannon and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Miller has reportedly produced cutting the number all the way to 15,000. The Department of Homeland Security has proposed its own cut to 40,000.
The Times explains their purported thinking:
Two administration officials said those pushing for a lower number are citing the need to strengthen the process of vetting applicants for refugee status to prevent would-be terrorists from entering the country. Two others said another factor is a cold-eyed assessment of the money and resources that would be needed to resettle larger amounts of refugees at a time when federal immigration authorities already face a years long backlog of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers.
This reasoning doesn’t align with the facts. Refugees are far more likely to be victims of politically motivated attacks than perpetrators. Limiting refugees does not keep America safer because refugees are not dangerous. It’s difficult not to see nativism as the motive behind pretending that they are: fear makes it easier to convince people that suffering people should be excluded from the United States. As for the cost concerns, the GOP’s feigned fiscal prudence should never be taken seriously.
By setting the refugee cap at 50,000 this year, Trump has already pushed the number lower than it’s been in decades. In the 37 years since the Refugee Act of 1980 gave the president a role in setting the cap, it hasn’t slipped lower than the 67,000 President Reagan set in 1987.
Cutting the refugee ceiling would leave tens of thousands of vulnerable people out in the cold, the International Rescue Committee said in a report last month. The humanitarian organization advocates for a ceiling no lower than 75,000 people. “An admissions level of at least 75,000 is a critical signal to the world that the United States remains a safe haven for those fleeing persecution, terror and ideologies antithetical to American democratic values,” the report says. “Anything less would be to turn our backs on the United States’ humanitarian tradition and global leadership.”
Under the last three Administrations, the US has made an absolute muddle out of two ill-advised wars and Middle East policies in general. The idea that guys like Trump, Tillerson, Miller, Bannon, Sessions, and even “the Generals” can come up with a constructive solution borders on the ludicrous. Nope. They going to to fight the 21st Century version of the “100 Years War” with similar results.
If there is a solution out there that will help achieve stability and provide a durable solution to the terrorist threats, it’s more likely going to be coming from one of today’s refugees who have a better idea of what’s actually going on and how we might become part of the solution rather than making the problems worse.
Refugees represent America’s hope. The Sessions-Miller-Bannon cabal represents America’s darkest side — one that threatens to drag us all into the abyss of their dark, distorted, and fundamentally anti-American world view.
“Defenders of President Trump’s decision to rescind an Obama-era immigration policy that shielded young immigrants from deportation have offered misleading critiques of the program.
They say the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, known as DACA, led to a humanitarian crisis on the border, put native-born Americans out of work and conferred legal status to recipients. Here’s an assessment.
DACA does not specifically grant legal permanent residency or citizenship, but there are pathways for recipients.
Conservative news personalities have suggested that DACA leads to citizenship or that recipients are eligible. These claims require more context.
DACA grants recipients work permission and protects them from deportation, but it alone does not confer citizenship or legal permanent resident status. They are not granted legal status, according to the Department of Homeland Security, though their removals are deferred.
But, according to immigration data, just under 40,000 DACA recipients have obtained “green cards,” or legal permanent residency, and over 1,000 have become American citizens. This is possible because DACA recipients can change their immigration status through a legal basis other than DACA (like marrying an American citizen).
While immigration law bars people who overstayed their visa from returning to the United States for three or 10 years, depending on how long they have resided here unlawfully, DACA halts recipients’ accrual of “unlawful presence.” So someone who obtained DACA status before the re-entry penalty was triggered would remain protected from it.
DACA recipients who entered the country illegally cannot apply for residency the same way as people who entered legally and overstayed their visas. They can, however, apply for “advance parole,” which gives recipients permission to travel outside the United States under special circumstances and is not specific to DACA. When they return to the United States, they enter legally, opening up other avenues for legal status.
It’s misleading to suggest that DACA triggered a wave of migration from Central America.
In a statement, Mr. Trump blamed DACA for spurring “the massive surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America,” a claim echoed by his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and other Republican lawmakers. But the link between DACA and the humanitarian crisis in 2014 is largely anecdotal and overstated.
Nearly 70,000 children, overwhelmingly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, tried to cross the United States border alone in the 2014 fiscal year. They would not have qualified for DACA, a program for undocumented immigrants brought in before age 16 who had been living in the United States since 2007.
There were certainly reports of children who listed American immigration policy as having prompted their solo journeys. The Obama administration’s clarification that the minors were not eligible for DACA also suggests a need to swat away the notion. And researchers have noted the possibility that DACA might have given migrants hope that the United States could provide future reprieve from deportation.
Still, it’s a stretch to say DACA was the single or even the main motivating factor behind the surge in migrant children reaching the border. For one, Salvadoran, Guatemalan and Honduran applications for asylum to other Central American countries increased by 1,185 percent from 2008 to 2014, showing that the children were seeking relief not only in the United States.
More significant drivers of the migration were violence, poverty, gang presence, economic opportunity and the desire to be reunified with family, and “it remains unclear if, and how, specific immigration policies have motivated children to migrate to the United States,” according to a 2014 Congressional Research Service report.
Department of Homeland Security data also shows that the surge in unaccompanied minors preceded President Barack Obama’s June 2012 DACA executive order. The number of apprehensions began to rise in January 2012 and plateaued from June 2012 to January 2013, before increasing and then peaking in May and June of 2014.
The evidence that DACA recipients have displaced native-born workers is lacking.
According to Mr. Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, more than four million unemployed Americans in the same age group as DACA recipients “could possibly have those jobs” held by DACA recipients. And Mr. Sessions was more emphatic: The executive order “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.”
While it’s certainly possible that there are individual cases of an employer hiring a DACA recipient instead of an American citizen, the claim of a widespread trend is unproved.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that trends in foreign-born and native-born unemployment rates have not changed with DACA. For example, the unemployment rate for natives who had attended college was lower than their foreign-born peers both before and after 2012, while the unemployment rate for natives without a high school diploma has consistently been higher than the foreign-born population.
Similarly, DACA appears to have had no discernible effect on the number of total job openings or those specifically in white collar industries — where DACA recipients are more commonly employed — which have been steadily rising since mid-2009. Economists dispute the overarching argument that less immigration leads to more jobs for Americans.
The defense that Mr. Trump’s order does not open up DACA recipients to deportation is false.
Rescinding DACA will not lead to the “mass deportation of people,” the conservative radio host and author Laura Ingraham said in an interview on Fox News. Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, argued on CNN that the “only folks that are subject to deportation right now are those that have engaged in criminal activity.”
Mr. Jordan’s claim is false. The Department of Homeland Security has been clear that officials will potentially arrest and deport any undocumented immigrant without protected status, regardless of a criminal record. Though undocumented immigrants with criminal records still make up the majority of immigration arrests, noncriminal arrests more than doubled in Mr. Trump’s first 100 days as president, compared to the same time period in 2016.
Immigration lawyers say it’s too early to tell whether DACA recipients, who had to provide personal information to officials to apply for the status, will especially be at risk after Mr. Trump’s order. Previously, their information was “protected from disclosure” to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection for the purpose of enforcement. The order, however, notes that information “will not be proactively provided to ICE and CBP,” and the president has said that former recipients would not be a priority for deportation.
“It’s very unclear to me whether U.S.C.I.S. will share that information if ICE affirmatively asks,” said Kate Voigt of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, referring to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is clear, though, that Mr. Trump’s order rescinding DACA opens recipients up to deportation.”
Truth is that DACA is good for the U.S. But, truth seldom, if ever, enters into the restrictionist White Nationalist narrative.
Washington’s new ruling class is not governing with compassion, common sense, measured research, knowledge of history or the future. Theirs is a doctrine of fake fears. And these same people also have a problem with things we should actually be afraid of.
Let me explain.
Fake Fear: The “bad hombres” President Donald Trump talked about during the campaign last year begot this week’s DACA repeal thing. Trump wants us to be afraid of these immigrants, and he’s ready to trash the lives of more than 800,000 Americans looking for a path to legal residency by killing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The truth is that these immigrants, brought here as children by their parents, “have lower incarceration rates than native-born Americans of the same age and education level,” according to a report issued last week by the nonpartisan CATO Institute.
Real Fear: Hurricanes. You know them — from Katrina to Harvey to Irma — millions of people and billions of dollars tell you hurricanes devastate lives, cities and industries.
But Trump refuses to fear them. Earlier this year, he proposed a budget that slashed about $667 million for the disaster preparedness programs run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That budget also proposed $6 billion in cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which helps rebuild homes and hospitals.
The fake fear administration also killed a post-Katrina rule requiring building projects eligible for federal funding to take such measures as elevating structures in flood zones away from the reach of rising water before they get government cash. And they did this just in time for hurricane season.
But hey, the $108 billion in damage and the 1,800 lives lost in Hurricane Katrina must not mean much when it your moral compass is fake fear.
Fake fear: The apparent crime wave that Attorney General Jeff Sessions keeps warning Americans about.
“We have a crime problem,” Sessions said in February. “I wish the rise that we are seeing in crime in America today were some sort of aberration or a blip. My best judgment, having been involved in criminal law enforcement for many years, is that this is a dangerous, permanent trend that places the health and safety of the American people at risk.”
But the facts say otherwise.
This year is on pace to have the second-lowest violent crime rate of any year since 1990, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice this week that analyzed statistics from the nation’s 30 largest cities.
Real fear: Though we’ve seen more and more horrifying videos of civilians being shot by police officers, we still have little comprehensive data that shows how often this happens and how agencies can prevent these tragedies.
“What we really need to know is how many times police shoot people, not just how many of those people die,” David A. Klinger, a criminal justice professor at the University of Missouri in St. Louis who studies police use of force, told The Washington Post earlier this summer.
This is a real fear for real people. This is true whether you’re a black man, such as beloved cafeteria worker Philando Castile, who was doing nothing wrong when he was killed in Minnesota last year by a nervous police officer. And it’s true if you’re a white woman, like nurse Alex Wubbels, who was seen in a viral video last week being roughed up and arrested by a Utah detective for simply doing her job. The fake fear people seem to have little interest in addressing this problem.
The FBI’s weak, self-reporting system that has been the only way to track this was called “embarrassing and ridiculous” by fired FBI director James B. Comey.
Fake fear: Muslims in America. Trump’s attempts at a travel ban, fulfilling his campaign promise of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” have reinforced a growing and misplaced Islamophobia throughout our country. We’ve seen the fake-fear sentiment in workplaces, in small-town councils trying to mess with mosques that have been peaceful and unnoticed for years, and I even saw it one of my sons’ sports teams this summer.
The truth is, from 2008 to 2016, right-wing extremists carried out twice as many terrorist attacks on U.S. soil than Islamist extremists, according to a recent report from The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund and The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal.
Real Fear: White supremacists in America. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a joint intelligence bulletin that said white supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement.”
They issued this statement just a couple months before the protests in Charlottesville, where an avowed Nazi sympathizer was arrested after a car drove into a crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. There is no mistaking that was real.
We deserve real care and real concern from our leaders when it comes to real fears. There’s no shortage of them.
Let’s start by calling out #FakeFears when we see them. Washington is full of those these days, too.
Dvorak succinctly captures what White Nationalist governance and propaganda is all about: fear, loathing, lies. Too cowardly to address real problems because that might offend the “White Nationalist base” that put and keeps them in power.
“HOUSTON — As the floodwaters rose in my west Houston neighborhood after Hurricane Harvey landed, my husband and many of our neighbors pulled boats through waist-high water, knocked on doors and plucked people from their submerged houses. They rescued elderly couples, young roommates, families who do not speak English. There was no checking of IDs, no debate on whether a life was worth saving.
All across the city, as catastrophic flooding threatened to drown us, regular people risked their lives to help others. Alonso Guillen, a radio host and D.J. who lived in Lufkin, Tex., two hours from Houston, brought a boat and a group of friends here to join in those efforts. He was on that boat, saving people he had never met before, when it capsized last Wednesday and he drowned. Alonso Guillen died a hero, if not an American citizen. He was a Dreamer, a beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and like the nearly 141,000 other Dreamers in Texas, he followed the requirements of the program — to stay in school or be gainfully employed — and had never been convicted of a crime. More than that, Texas was his home.
Around the time Alonso Guillen was buried in Lufkin, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced President Trump’s decision to cancel the DACA program, saying that “enforcing the law saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers, and prevents human suffering.” Instead, what the announcement shows is how suffering can needlessly be inflicted.
The end of DACA means that hundreds of thousands of people nationwide will lose their eligibility to work. As many as 80,000 Dreamers in the greater Houston area alone could be deported to countries where they have no relationships, where they do not even speak the language. It is the disaster of this decision — more than the hurricane — that threatens to tear our city apart.
. . . .
Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the choice to end DACA “the compassionate thing.” But this decision doesn’t look like any kind of compassion I’ve seen in Houston, where everyone I know has chosen to open their homes to strangers, to feed them, clothe them, raise money for the restoration of their homes. Even people whose own houses were destroyed are helping others in the ways they can.
. . . .
The conversation about what comes next, how to rebuild and how to engineer a more equitable city, is a long one and is now only beginning. Tomorrow, some of us will choose to prepare meals, to join a work crew, to deliver donations on a flatbed truck. We’re planning to fight like hell for every single one of our Dreamers — to keep them where they are already home.”
Lacy M. Johnson is the author of “The Other Side: A Memoir” and the forthcoming essay collection “The Reckonings.”
Hurricanes are “acts of God” (aggravated by anti-science politicians and unwise, greed-driven choices in urban development). But, empowering White Nationalist restrictionists and their gonzo views and policies on immigration is purely a man-made disaster that can be reversed at the ballot box. (That’s why White Nationalist Kris Kobach and his Voter Suppression Commission is working so hard to restrict suffrage!)
“Many Republicans have made clear in recent weeks that they favor the basic policy DACA enshrined, and merely oppose its executive implementation. Sessions, who helped persuade Trump to kill the program, is not one of those Republicans. In his remarks, he directly denounced the very idea of granting any kind of amnesty to undocumented individuals brought to the U.S. as children through no fault of their own. At the heart of his speech were two lies, straight from Breitbart, explaining why DACA must end:
The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences. It also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.
Let’s examine these falsehoods in turn.
First: Sessions claimed that DACA “contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border.” This allegation, often touted by far-right xenophobes, is false. A study published in International Migration, a peer-reviewed academic journal, found that the surge in unaccompanied minors actually began in 2008. (DACA was announced in 2012.) The authors pointed to a host of factors contributing to this phenomenon, including escalating gang violence in Central America, as well as drug cartels’ willingness to target and recruit children in Mexico. But the study found that DACA was not one of these factors. Its authors concluded that “the claim that DACA is responsible for the increase in the flow of unaccompanied alien children is not supported by the data.”
Even without the study, it should be obvious that DACA played no role in this surge of unaccompanied minors because the theory itself makes no sense. Undocumented children who arrived in the United States following DACA’s implementation would not qualify for the program. Only those individuals who “have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007” and “were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012” could receive DACA status. Why would parents send their children to the U.S. to participate in a program in which they are not legally permitted to participate?
Second: Sessions alleged that DACA has “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.” This line is obviously drawn from the false narrative that immigrants steal jobs from American citizens. There is no actual evidence that DACA recipients have taken jobs from any Americans, let alone “hundreds of thousands.” There is, however, strong evidence that killing DACA will significantly damage the economy—a fact that Sessions conveniently omitted from his speech.
Once DACA is fully rescinded, its former recipients will lose their work permits (and thus their jobs) and face possible deportation. According to the left-leaning Center for American Progress, about 30,000 people will lose their jobs each month as their DACA status expires. The loss of these workers could reduce the national GDP by $280 billion to $433 billion over the next decade. According to estimates by the libertarian Cato Institute, DACA’s demise will cost employers $2 billion and the federal government $60 billion. Trump’s decision to end DACA isn’t a job-saver; it’s a job-killer.
Toward the end of his speech, Sessions praised the RAISE Act, a Republican-backed bill that would tightly curtail immigration into the U.S. Sessions claimed the act would “produce enormous benefits for our country.” In reality, the measure marks an effort to return America to an older immigration regime that locked out racial and ethnic minorities. Sessions has praised the 1924 law that created this regime—a law whose chief author declared that his act was meant to end “indiscriminate acceptance of all races.” On Tuesday, Sessions revived this principle in slightly more polite language.
The attorney general’s utterly gratuitous defamation of young Latino immigrants tells you everything you need to know about the decision to kill DACA. Before Tuesday, the Trump administration seemed eager to frame its DACA decision as respect for constitutional separation of powers: Congress, it insisted, not the president, must set immigration policy. But after Sessions’ speech, it is difficult to view this move as anything other than an attempt to implement the white nationalism that Trump and Sessions campaigned on.”
Read the full report at the link.
It shouldn’t be news by now that “Gonzo Apocalypto” is a lifelong racist and White Nationalist totally unfit to serve as Attorney General. That’s what Liz Warren and others said during the confirmation process when Sessions’s GOP “fellow travelers” were so eager to brush over his un-American record and his anti-American views.
Latinos, Asians, Blacks, Jews and other American minorities need to unite with those of us who don’t want a return to the “Jim Crow” American South of the earlier 20th Century (which spawned the likes of Sessions and where the white GOP population is still racially and culturally tone deaf) behind some good candidates, get out the vote, and throw the White Nationalists and their GOP enablers and apologists (guys like Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and most of the rest of the today’s GOP legislators who take responsibility for nothing while encouraging the Trump Administration’s outrageous conduct by refusing to join with Congressional Democrats to “just say no'”) out of office at the ballot box. Otherwise, there won’t be an America in the future. We’ve got to stop letting “the “30%” who either never knew or have forgotten what it means to be a real American run roughshod over our country and particularly our kids. It’s going to be a long four years. Feels like it already.
“Immigration Court Backlog Climbs to 617,527 Cases
(31 Aug 2017) The latest available case-by-case court records show that as of the end of July 2017, the Immigration Court’s backlog continued to rise , reaching an all-time high of 617,527. For the first time, individuals with pending cases from El Salvador surpassed the numbers from Mexico in the court’s pending workload. There were a total of 134,645 pending cases involving citizens of El Salvador, edging past the 134,467 cases involving individuals from Mexico. In third place, with 102,532 pending cases were citizens from Guatemala.California continued to have the largest backlog with 115,991 cases pending at its court locations. Texas was second with 99,749 pending cases, followed by New York with 84,429. Both California and New York are continuing to see rising court backlogs. In contrast, court locations in Texas saw a small decline in July.
To see a snapshot of pending cases in Immigration Courts go to:
In addition, many of TRAC’s free query tools – which track the court’ backlog, new DHS filings, court dispositions, the handling of juvenile cases and much more – have now been updated through July 2017. For an index to the full list of TRAC’s immigration tools go to:
TRAC is self-supporting and depends on foundation grants, individual contributions and subscription fees for the funding needed to obtain, analyze and publish the data we collect on the activities of the U.S. federal government. To help support TRAC’s ongoing efforts, go to:
According to rumors, under pressure from GOP State AGs and others in the White Nationalist base, the Trumpsters are close to terminating the DACA, thereby sending an additional 800,000 American young people into the already overwhelmed US Immigration Court system. See Jason Dzubow’s recent Asylumist post on the “100 year plan” to understand the cruel, wasteful, racist “parallel universe” in which the Trumpsters reside!
Two very powerful stories in today’s Washington Post Outlook Section make that point.
In the first, Karen Finney, journalist and bi-racial descendent of General Lee:
“I always fiercely disagreed with my grandmother’s take. I loved her, but recognized that she simply couldn’t face the truth — the dramatically different, and all too real stories of brutal tyranny, courageously endured, during Reconstruction and the Jim Crow South that I learned from my father, his family and my own experience.
No telling of Lee’s story, however complicated, can be separated from the leading role he played in a grievous chapter of American history. That part — and the decisions by Charlottesville’s city council, New Orleans’s mayor, Baltimore’s mayor and Lexington, Kentucky’s mayor to remove Confederate statues from public spaces — isn’t complicated. The general was as cruel a slave owner as any other and fought to defend a society based on the brutal enslavement of black people that, had it persisted until today, would have included me. His cause wasn’t righteous, then or now. He’s my ancestor, but as far as I’m concerned, his statues can’t come down soon enough.
The revisionist version of his story attached to the hundreds of Confederate monuments around the country (not just in the South) is part of the most effective rebranding campaign ever implemented. Like the Lee statue at the center of the tragic, deadly violence in Charlottesville on Saturday, many, if not most, of these monuments were built — not in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War — but decades later, in the 20th century. They were erected to advance a dishonest history that claimed the war was about states’ rights and the preservation of a way of life, and to obscure the real cause at the root of the conflict: the perpetuation of white supremacy and economic hegemony through the enslavement and violent suppression of African Americans. It’s propaganda that has exploited fear, and sown division and hate, in a conscious effort to obscure our shared humanity for more than 150 years.”
In the second, Professor Karen L. Cox of UNC-Charlotte points out that: “White supremacy is the whole point of confederate statutes:”
“While Confederate monuments honor their white heroes, they do not always rely on the true history of what took place between 1861 and 1865. Nor was that their intent. Rather, they served to rehabilitate white men — not as the losers of a war but, as a monument in Charlotte states, preservers of “the Anglo-Saxon civilization of the South.”
Today’s defenders of Confederate monuments are either unaware of the historical context or do not care. Like generations of whites before them, they are more invested in the mythology that has attached itself to these sentinels of white supremacy, because it serves their cause.”
Trump’s lack of knowledge of history is breathtaking. Indeed, based on performance and utterances (including tweets) he would be unable to pass the basic American history and civics exam required for naturalization. Fortunatly for him, like many other things in his life, he got his citizenship purely by good fortune, not merit.
“It takes approximately 30 seconds to send a tweet. A half hour to draft and release a statement. And the shelf life of both is only marginally longer. We should not commend Republican party elected officials who claim outrage on social media at Trump’s remarks, often without daring to mention his name. The phony claimed outrage becomes dangerous if it convinces anyone that there is a distinction between Trump’s abhorrent comments and the Republican Party agenda.
The lesson from Charlottesville is not how dangerous the neo-Nazis are. It is the unmasking of the Republican party leadership. In the wake of last weekend’s horror and tragedy, let us finally, finally rip off the veneer that Trump’s affinity for white supremacy is distinct from the Republican agenda of voter suppression, renewed mass incarceration and the expulsion of immigrants.
There is a direct link between Trump’s comments this week and those policies, so where is the outrage about the latter? Where are the Republican leaders denouncing voter suppression as racist, un-American and dangerous? Where are the Republican leaders who are willing to call out the wink (and the direct endorsement) from President Trump to the white supremacists and acknowledge their own party’s record and stance on issues important to people of color as the real problem for our country?
Republicans on the voter suppression commission are enabling Trump’s agenda and that of the white Nazi militia
Words mean nothing if the Republican agenda doesn’t change. Governors and state legislatures were so quick to embrace people of color in order to avoid the impression, they too share Trump’s supreme affinity for the white race. But if they don’t stand up for them they are not indirectly, but directly enabling the agenda of those same racists that Republican members were so quick to condemn via Twitter.
Gerrymandering, strict voter ID laws, felon disenfranchisement are all aimed at one outcome: a voting class that is predominantly white, and in turn majority Republican.
The white supremacist chant of, “you will not replace us,” could easily and accurately be the slogan for these Republican politicians. Their policies will achieve the same racial outcome as Jim Crow – the disenfranchisement and marginalization of people of color.
It is a sad day when more CEOs take action by leaving and shutting down Trump’s Strategy and Policy Forum, and Manufacturing Council, than elected officials take action leaving Trump’s “election integrity” commission.
Businessman are acting more responsive to their customers than politicians are to their voters. At the end of the day, which presidential council is more dangerous? Which most embodies the exact ideology that Trump spewed on Monday? A group of businessmen coming together to talk jobs or a group of elected officials coming together to disenfranchise voters of color?
Anyone still sitting on the voter suppression commission is enabling Trump’s agenda and that of the white Nazi militia that stormed Charlottesville to celebrate a time when the law enforced white supremacy.
If Republican lawmakers want to distinguish themselves from Trump’s comments, they need to do more than type out 144 characters on their phone. They need to take a hard look at their party’s agenda.”
Read the full article at the link.
I’ve noticed the clear pattern going back to the beginning of the campaign: Trump says or does something totally outrageous; GOP leaders disassociate themselves and claim it doesn’t represent the “real” GOP (whatever that might be); shortly thereafter the same folks go back to supporting Trump and the GOP agenda directed at insuring White control. Nobody switches party, resigns in protest, or tells voters how incompetent and dangerous Trump is. Indeed, these guys are scared silly that they will actually turn off Trump’s White Nationalist base that insures them power even though it’s been many years since they racked up a majority of the popular vote in a national election. Trump then goes on to the next outrage, and the process repeats itself.
Someday, the majority of American voters might actually get a Government that represents their interests rather than those of a White Nationalist minority. But, not any time soon if the GOP can prevent it. So far, they are doing a bang up job of it.
President Trump’s recent call for overhauling the legal immigration system suffers from serious racial implications and violations of basic family values. Earlier this month he endorsed the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, which would eliminate all family reunification categories beyond spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (reducing the age limit for minor children from 21 to 18), and would lower capped family categories from 226,000 green cards presently to 88,000. The prime relatives targeted for elimination are siblings of U.S. citizens and adult children of citizens and lawful residents. The diversity immigration lottery program, which grants 50,000 green cards to immigrants from low-admission countries, also would be terminated. The RAISE Act is essentially the Asian, Latino, and African Exclusion Act of 2017. Why? Because the biggest users of family immigration categories are Asians and Latinos, and the biggest beneficiaries of the diversity lottery are Africans.
The RAISE Act is an elitist point system that favors those with post-secondary STEM degrees (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics), extraordinary achievement (Nobel laureates and Olympic medalists), $1.35 to $1.8 million to invest, and high English proficiency. However, it fails to connect prospective immigrants with job openings and makes incorrect assumptions about family immigrants.
Promoting family reunification has been a major feature of immigration policy for decades. Prior to 1965, permitting spouses of U.S. citizens, relatives of lawful permanent residents, and even siblings of U.S. citizens to immigrate were important aspects of the immigration selection system. Since the 1965 reforms, family reunification has been the major cornerstone of the immigration admission system. Those reforms, extended in 1976, allowed twenty thousand immigrant visas for every country. Of the worldwide numerical limits, about 80 percent were specified for “preference” relatives of citizens and lawful permanent residents, and an unlimited number was available to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. The unlimited immediate relative category included spouses, parents of adult citizens, and minor, unmarried children of citizens. The family preference categories were established for adult, unmarried sons and daughters of citizens, spouses and unmarried children of lawful permanent resident aliens, married children of citizens, and siblings of citizens. Two other preferences (expanded in 1990) were established for employment-based immigration.
Asian and Latino immigration came to dominate these immigration categories. The nations with large numbers of descendants in the United States in 1965, i.e., western Europe, were expected to benefit the most from a kinship-based system. But gradually, by using the family categories and the labor employment route, Asians built a family base from which to use the kinship categories more and more. By the late 1980s, virtually 90 percent of all immigration to the United States – including Asian immigration – was through the kinship categories. And by the 1990s, the vast majority of these immigrants were from Asia and Latin America. The top countries of origin of authorized immigrants to the United States today include Mexico, China, India, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and El Salvador.
As Asian and Latin immigrants began to dominate the family-based immigration system in the 1970s and 1980s, somehow the preference for family reunification made less sense to some policymakers. Since the early 1980s, attacking kinship categories – especially the sibling category – has become a political sport played every few years. Often the complaint is based on arguments such as we should be bringing in skilled immigrants, a point system would be better, and in the case of the sibling category, brothers and sisters are not part of the “nuclear” family. Proposals to eliminate or reduce family immigration were led by Senator Alan Simpson throughout the 1980s, Congressman Bruce Morrison in 1990, and Senator Simpson and Congressman Lamar Smith in 1996. As prelude to the RAISE Act, the Senate actually passed S.744 in 2013 that would have eliminated family categories and installed a point system in exchange for a legalization program for undocumented immigrants.
Pitting so-called “merit-based” visas in opposition to family visas implies that family immigration represents the soft side of immigration while point-based immigration is more about being tough and strategic. The wrongheadedness of that suggestion is that family immigration has served our country well even from a purely economic perspective. The country needs workers with all levels of skill, and family immigration provides many of the needed workers.
A concern that the current system raises for some policymakers is based on their belief that the vast majority of immigrants who enter in kinship categories are working class or low-skilled. They wonder whether this is good for the country. Interestingly enough, many immigrants who enter in the sibling category actually are highly skilled. The vast majority of family immigrants are working age, who arrive anxious to work and ready to put their time and sweat into the job. But beyond that oversight by the complainants, what we know about the country and its general need for workers in the short and long terms is instructive.
The Wharton School of Business projects that the RAISE Act would actually lead to less economic growth and fewer jobs. Job losses would emerge because domestic workers will not fill all the jobs that current types of immigrant workers would have filled. In the long run, per capita GDP would dip. Furthermore, in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s forecast of large-growth occupations, most jobs require only short- or moderate-term on-the-job training, suggesting lower skilled immigrants could contribute to meeting the demand for these types of jobs.
The economic data on today’s kinship immigrants are favorable for the country. The entry of low-skilled as well as high-skilled immigrants leads to faster economic growth by increasing the size of the market, thereby boosting productivity, investment, and technological practice. Technological advances are made by many immigrants who are neither well-educated nor well-paid. Moreover, many kinship-based immigrants open new businesses that employ natives as well as other immigrants; this is important because small businesses are now the most important source of new jobs in the United States. The current family-centered system results in designers, business leaders, investors, and Silicon Valley–type engineers. And much of the flexibility available to American entrepreneurs in experimenting with risky labor-intensive business ventures is afforded by the presence of low-wage immigrant workers. In short, kinship immigrants contribute greatly to this country’s vitality and growth, beyond the psychological benefits to family members who are able to reunite.
The preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights highlights the unity of the family as the “foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” for good reason. Our families make us whole. Our families define us as human beings. Our families are at the center of our most treasured values. Our families make the nation strong.
Bill Ong Hing is the Founder and General Counsel of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and Professor of Law and Migration Studies, University of San Francisco”
Unhappily, America has a sad history of using bogus arguments about the economy and protecting American labor to justify racist immigration acts. Among other things, the Chinese Exclusion Act was supposed to protect the U.S. against the adverse effects of “coolie labor.”
I find it remarkable that those pushing the RASE Act are so ready to damage American families, the fabric of our society, and our economy in a futile attempt to achieve their White Nationalist vision.