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.
“Anti-immigration activists, whether deliberately or inadvertently, use a great deal of misinformation (on wages, competition against native-born workers, etc.) and shoddy economic analysis (e.g., the “lump of labor fallacy“) while ignoring well-established data on immigrants’ homeownership, participation in the workforce, entrepreneurialism, contribution to growth, etc. Welcome to the Fox News/Trumpian world, where facts are no longer facts.
There is one giant untruth that outweighs all others — and it is easily debunked. Will Wilkinson of the libertarian-leaning Niskanen Center writes:
Between 2000 and 2015, 109 countries saw their immigrant population grow at a faster rate than that of the United States. Among countries with any net international in-migration, the U.S. is resolutely on the closed side of the continuum. … It is veryeasy to say is that the U.S. status quo is much closer to “completely closed” than “completely open” under even the most modest estimates of movement under the “completely open” counterfactual. If we move out of the [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] into the broader world, the current world champ in immigrant population is Qatar, which makes extensive use of guest workers, with about 22 migrants per 1000 people. If we use Qatar as the open end of the closed-to-open continuum, the United States’ 4 migrants per 1000 people is in comparison very, very close to “completely closed.” …
Nevertheless, the immigration restrictionists who warn of swamping under open borders tend to be the same people who characterize the status quo as an “open borders” system. It’s obvious why they traffic in this sort of rank dishonesty. They want to further harden our already very hardened borders, and this is easier to justify if you can systematically mislead people about the fact that the American immigration system is relatively closed even when compared to other wealthy liberal democracies.
In other words, by scaring Americans that our borders are “open” (or that immigration reformers want “open borders”), opponents of immigration are pulling the wool over the eyes of the public and policymakers, just as they do when falsely accusing illegal immigrants of causing a crime wave.
Moreover, there is some powerful evidence that we need more immigration, not less. Ron Brownstein points out that Trump’s aging, mostly white base will need more immigrants to pay into entitlement programs because “the 2020 Census will find that non-white kids represent a majority of all Americans younger than 18; kids of color are already a majority of all K-12 public school students.” He explains: “What these numbers make clear is that, whatever Trump does to restrict immigration, there is no cavalry of white kids coming to fill the jobs that the mostly white baby boom is vacating. Non-white young people — reinforced by future immigrants — will drive almost all of the workforce’s future growth, according to widely respected projections by the non-partisan Pew Research Center.” Without that population growth, Brownstein explains, “each worker will be required to fund 80% more seniors than they do now. That demographic imbalance represents a political tourniquet that will inexorably increase pressure for cuts in Social Security and Medicare.”
This demographic reality underscores another fact that anti-immigration advocates would prefer to ignore: One big reason immigrants aren’t “taking jobs from Americans” is that Americans are aging and leaving the workforce without enough workers to backfill those positions. The gap is made up in part by automation and in part by immigrants, who tend to be younger, with many years in the workforce ahead of them.
Perhaps it is foolhardy to argue facts with anti-immigration advocates. If Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) dissembled about the president’s racist rhetoric, they aren’t likely to be any more honest when it comes to facts that undercut their economically catastrophic plan to slash legal immigration in half. Nevertheless, we surely hope that other lawmakers and the public refuse to be bamboozled by outright false claims.”
Yeah, as Rubin points out, it’s by no means the only bogus information or shoddy, result-oriented “research” that the White Nationalist restrictionists use to support their racially motivated program.
We’ve already seen how as illegal immigration levels off and ceases to become anything other than a “made up” problem for America (the vast bulk of so-called “undocumented” migrants are gainfully employed, useful, law-abiding members of the American community, many with U.S. citizen children and spouses, whose legalization would be both an economic and social benefit to the U.S.), the restrictionists have set their sights on our already unrealistically limited and far too overly bureaucratic legal immigration system.
Don’t be fooled! The restrictionists are out to destroy America’s future for their outdated vision of a racially, ethnically, and religiously homogenous and “pure” nation (one that, in truth, has never existed except in their imaginations and fantasies). Don’t let them get away with it!
“It’s probably a good thing President Trump dines only at the restaurants inside his own country clubs and hotels. Otherwise, he might find some unwanted floaters in his soup in the wake of last week’s Oval Office meeting, in which the president said he wasn’t interested in protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador or, apparently, any country in Africa.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to The Washington Post story about the meeting. The president then suggested he was more interested in immigrants from countries such as Norway because, he felt, they could better contribute to the American economy.
The comment quickly became red meat for millions of Americans. The president was called a racist by liberals. He was defended by conservatives. The president seemed to deny that he used bad language. Then he was called out for making a false statement about not using bad language. Just another day in paradise.
From my little corner of the universe, I read the president’s comment and had to pick my jaw off the floor. As the $20 Diner for the past five years, I have devoted countless hours to restaurants owned and operated by immigrants. But just as important, I have dined in the kind of restaurants that real estate moguls and other titans of industry love to patronize. You know, high-dollar, high-profile, highhanded restaurants, the ones with a famous chef’s name on the menu.
But no matter which restaurant I frequent, high or low, I can almost guarantee you there are Latinos in the kitchen, prepping the dishes, cooking the dishes, washing the dishes, you name it. This is a widely known fact, more observable than climate change. Anthony Bourdain has been a one-man wrecking crew on this front, demolishing the hypocrisy of executive chefs who hog all the credit while immigrants from Central America do all the work.
Immigrants are the “backbone of the industry,” Bourdain once said. “If Mr. Trump deports 11 million people or whatever he’s talking about right now, every restaurant in America would shut down.”
Chef and co-owner Abe Bayu at Meleket Ethiopian restaurant in Silver Spring, Md. (Dayna Smith for The Washington Post)
I’ve written about many immigrants, including ones from African and Central American countries. They often come here searching for a better life, only to find their paths blocked, or at least littered with more obstacles than they ever imagined. They don’t have the luxury of securing a $9 million advance on their future inheritance. They have to fight for every dollar, often working multiple jobs just to save enough for their first business.
. . . .
Personally, I believe curiosity in all forms — intellectual, social, cultural — tears down walls. Isolation builds them.
Maybe the president should ditch the steak dinners at BLT Prime in the Trump International Hotel and start to explore the local Salvadoran restaurants. Maybe he should get his hands dirty with an Ethiopian meal in Silver Spring. Maybe he should just sit down with chef José Andrés, who can tell him a thing or two about Haitians:
And you know what? If the president made a surprise stop at a pupuseria or an Ethiopian restaurant, he wouldn’t actually need to worry that the kitchen was mouth-cooking his meal. Because the people who run these restaurants have a fundamental understanding of dignity and respect, even if they come from countries that the president despises.”
Read Tim’s complete article, containing some individual profiles of the hard-working, “salt of the earth” folks that Trump and the GOP restrictionists bash on a regular basis.
Once again, the Trump Administration’s and GOP restrictionists’ unnecessary cruelty, lack of humanity, and absence of common sense is matched only by their stupidity and lack of ability to govern for the common good.
“Over the course of President Donald Trump’s first year in office, his administration’s top immigration priority has shifted subtly. He’s talking less about deporting “bad hombres” and talking more — a lot more — about how “chain migration” is bad for the United States.
“We have to get rid of chainlike immigration, we have to get rid of the chain,” Trump told the New York Times’s Mike Schmidt in an impromptu interview at his West Palm Beach golf club in December. He followed it up, as he does, with a tweet:
“Chain migration” — which is loosely used as a synonym for all immigration to the United States that happens based on family ties (when a US citizen or, in some cases, a green card holder petitions for a relative to join them) — has become a conservative boogeyman, and an excuse to cut down on legal immigration. It’s long been a target of immigration restrictionists whose concerns about immigration are less about people “respecting the law” than about the government exercising stricter control over who enters the country.
Under the Trump administration, those restrictionists have more political power than they’ve had in a generation — and they’re using it to prosecute an aggressive case against the family-based system as it stands.
The Trump administration’s attacks on “chain migration” have helped shift the terms of the debate over immigration policy. “Chain migration” is being invoked, among other things, to frame two totally different demands Republicans have made in the debate over legalizing immigrants temporarily covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program: preventing current DACA recipients from sponsoring their parents after becoming citizens, and cutting or eliminating some categories of family-based immigration for all immigrants in exchange for legalizing DACA enrollees.
But it’s not just during the DACA debate. The Trump administration blamed the failed New York subway bombing in December on “chain migration” because the would-be bomber came as the child of a US citizen’s sibling in 2010. Its National Security Strategy, issued Monday, called chain migration a security threat.
In other words, the Trump administration’s attack on “chain migration” isn’t just a setup for a particular policy fight. It’s about who is allowed to be a part of America — and whether changes to the country’s makeup are healthy demographic development or a sign of uncontrolled invasion.
“Chain migration” is the technical name for a commonsense idea: People are more likely to move where their relatives are
The dynamic underlying “chain migration” is so simple that it sounds like common sense: People are more likely to move to where people they know live, and each new immigrant makes people they know more likely to move there in turn.
But as obvious as the reality is on the ground, it wasn’t always incorporated into theoretical models of migration (particularly economic models). Economists tended to think about the decision to migrate as a simple calculus of how much money someone was making at home versus how much he could be making abroad, rather than understanding that the decision was more complicated — and that family and social relationships played a role.
Princeton demographer Doug Massey, one of the leading scholars on immigration to the US at the end of the 20th century (and the beginning of the 21st), was one of the scholars who tried to correct this oversimplified view. As he put it in an essay for the Inter-American Parliamentary Group on Population and Development in the early 1990s:
The first migrants who leave for a new destination have no social ties to draw upon, and for them migration is costly, particularly if it involves entering another country without documents. After the first migrants have left, however, the costs of migration are substantially lower for their friends and relatives living in the community of origin. Because of the nature of kinship and friendship structures, each new migrant creates a set of people with social ties to the destination area.
These immigrants would also end up behaving differently once they arrived in their new countries. If they were just there for economic reasons, they’d have an incentive to move back once they’d made enough money, or circulate back and forth. But immigrants who move for social reasons are moving to a new community — a new place they’ll stay. That’s an upside if you think it’s important for immigrants to become American — and a downside if you think the US should be much pickier about who gets to move here for good than it is about who gets to work here.
One upshot of chain migration: Any policies that made it easier for immigrants to bring their relatives would allow migration chains to form, thus expanding immigration into the country. “Family reunification systems,” Massey wrote, “work at crosspurposes with the limitation of immigration.”
Massey and the other demographers of “chain migration” weren’t presenting it as a negative. But their words were easily adopted by people who did. The Massey essay quoted above ended up being reprinted in an issue of The Social Contract — the journal founded by immigration restrictionist mogul John Tanton, who also founded the three most visible restrictionist organizations in American politics (the think tank the Center for Immigration Studies and the advocacy groups NumbersUSA and FAIR).
The Social Contract was a forum for concerns about the threat of mass immigration (particularly mass nonwhite immigration) to the United States. (The Southern Poverty Law Center, which considers all Tanton-affiliated institutions to be “hate groups,” has a rundown of some of the journal’s more incendiary content.) Massey, on the other hand is a longtime supporter of reforms that would make it easier for immigrants to come to America.
An article by a supporter of expansive immigration policy could be reprinted, with few apparent edits, in a journal for his intellectual opponents only because the debate over chain migration is fundamentally not about whether it happens, but whether it’s okay. Defenders of chain migration tend to argue that it’s important for immigrants to put down roots in the US, and that having a family here is part of what that means.
Opponents, on the other hand, see family-based immigration as the government ceding some control for who gets to come here, so that it’s not selecting individuals in a vacuum — which leads rapidly to fears of the US government losing control of the immigration system entirely.
The actual policy behind “chain migration”
It’s not clear whether President Trump understands how family-based immigration actually works — and when it can lead to “chains” of relatives. Trump has claimed that the man who ran over several pedestrians in New York in November brought 23 (sometimes he says 24) relatives to the US in the seven years he’d lived here — a claim that chain migration opponent Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration studies said was impossible. And the White House’s “chain migration” diagram makes it looks like each generation of adults brings in children, which brings their children — which isn’t how chain migration works.
To better understand what policies, exactly, opponents of “chain migration” are worried about, check out this chart from the restrictionist advocacy group NumbersUSA — which is a more detailed representation of the same fear of overwhelming, uncontrollable waves of migration.
Let’s walk through the scenario in that chart. It depicts an immigrant who’s come to the US on an employment-based green card (in black) and is able to bring over his spouse and children immediately. He can also petition for his parents to come to the US on green cards, and — after he becomes a citizen (something the NumbersUSA chart doesn’t clarify) — he can petition for his siblings as well (all in gray).
The siblings all bring over their spouses and children immediately, and the spouses (in orange, maroon, navy, and teal) petition to bring over their own parents and (upon naturalization) their own siblings. The original immigrant’s parents (eventually) petition for their own siblings to come to the US, and the siblings then petition to bring over their married adult children — whose spouses can then petition for their own parents and (eventually) siblings, etc., etc.
Meanwhile, the original immigrant’s spouse can petition for her parents (in pink) and, once she becomes a citizen, her siblings (in blue, purple, red, and green). Those siblings bring over their spouses, who subsequently petition for their own parents and siblings, etc., etc.
There are a ton of assumptions in this model about the way immigrants behave — why is everyone in families of four or five? Does no one really want to stay in her home country? Is there no such thing as a bachelor in any of these families? — but the visa categories under US law make it a hypothetical possibility. But the thing is, US policymakers know that it’s a hypothetical possibility. And there are safeguards built into the system that restrict family-based immigration far more than the diagram would have you believe.
In practice, bringing over a family member takes years — which makes it very hard to build a chain
No one is automatically allowed to immigrate to the US. Anyone applying for residency in the country has to go through a standard vetting process — including a criminal and terrorism background check, and an evaluation of whether they’re likely to become a “public charge” in the US (i.e., be unable to support themselves for income and rely on social programs).
Trump’s National Security Strategy claims that “chain migration” is a problem for national security, but there’s nothing inherent to the way someone is allowed to immigrate to the US that makes it harder for the US to catch would-be terrorists — that is, if anything, a failure of the screening process.
The bigger obstacle, though, isn’t qualifying to immigrate — it’s that the number of hypothetically qualified family-based immigrants greatly exceeds the number of slots available for immigrants each year. The US doesn’t set caps on the number of spouses, minor children, or parents of US citizens who can come to the US each year — but, again, those categories in themselves don’t create chains.
The categories that do create chains are strictly capped: 23,400 married children of US citizens (plus their own spouses and minor children) are allowed to immigrate each year, and 67,500 adult siblings of US citizens (plus spouses and minor children). Furthermore, because the total number of immigrants coming from a particular country each year is capped, would-be immigrants from Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines end up facing even longer wait times.
When people talk about the “visa backlog,” this is what they mean: In January 2018, for example, the US government will start processing applications for F4 visas (the siblings of US citizens) who first petitioned to let them immigrate on June 22, 2004, or earlier. That is, unless the sibling lives in India (in which case the petition had to be filed by December 2003 to get processed in January 2018), Mexico (November 1997), or the Philippines (September 1994).
Understanding that an F4 visa is a 13- to 23-year process throws that NumbersUSA diagram into a different light. How implausible it is depends on your assumptions about how close together generations are, and how young the immigrants are when they come to the United States. But if you start by understanding that the first members of the orange, maroon, navy, teal, blue, purple, red, and green chains don’t enter the US until 18 years after the original immigrant (signified by black) does — and that the first immigrants in the yellow section of the chart don’t enter the country until 23 years later — it should give you a sense of how long it will take in to fill in the rest of the chain.
In practice, this ultimately looks like a lot of people coming to the US in late middle age. That’s backed up by the data: A study from Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies — which is critical of “chain migration” — found that the average age of immigrants to the US has risen over the past few decades, and that family-based immigration was a substantial cause.
But even then, the NumbersUSA scenario assumes that all the immigrants can afford to sponsor a family member to immigrate to the US. A US citizen (or green card holder seeking to bring an unmarried child or parent) has to prove to the government that they can provide financial support if their relative needs it, rather than relying on the government for aid.
In practice, this means that every immigrant needs to have someone vouching for them whose household income is 125 percent of the poverty line — and the “household” includes the relative who’s trying to come to the US. In other words, a single adult could sponsor his parent to immigrate if he made at least $20,300 — 125 percent of the federal poverty line for a two-person household — but if he had a spouse and two children, he’d have to be making 125 percent of the poverty line for a five-person household. And that includes any other immigrants who the household is sponsoring at the same time.
So an immigrant with a wife and two children who wanted to sponsor his parents and four siblings to immigrate as soon as he became a citizen would have to be making $56,875 — around the median income in the US. And if his spouse were trying to do the same thing with her parents and four siblings, as in the NumbersUSA chart, they’d have to be making $83,000 — which would place them in the 66th percentile of US household income.
That’s not impossible. But it certainly calls into question the stereotype of family-based migration as a way for “low-skilled,” low-earning immigrants to bring their low-skilled, low-earning relatives into the US.
There are ways for citizens to get other people to agree to help support a potential immigrant relative. But at the same time, the US government has discretion to reject an application, even if the citizen meets the income threshold, if they suspect that in practice the immigrant won’t be supported in the US. (Another factor in determining “public charge”is age — which is interesting, given the data about family-based immigrants being older.)
Add all of these factors together, and it becomes clear that an immigrant won’t be able to bring that many relatives to the US over the course of his or her lifetime. Vaughan’s studyfound that as of 2015, immigrants who came to the US from 1981 to 2000 had sponsored an average of 1.77 relatives to come join them. The most recent immigrants in the study — those who came to the US in the late 1990s — had sponsored the most relatives: 3.46. But both of those numbers include the minor children they brought with them at the time: In other words, they were hardly starting 3.46 new “chains.”
If anything, in fact, the family-based system is so overloaded that it ends up creating unrealistic hopes in people that they’ll be able to immigrate to the US. If your sibling moves to the US on a work visa, for example, you might start to hope that he’ll eventually be able to bring you along — but if you try to plan your life around that, you’ll end up waiting for two decades.
There are hints all this panic over “chain migration” is really about fear of cultural change
All of this is relevant to a conversation about whether to further restrict, or eliminate, the F3 and F4 visas for married children and adult siblings of US citizens. And indeed, that’s the most common policy demand being made by Republicans who are seeking to end or reduce “chain migration.”
But the most stalwart opponents of “chain migration,” the ones who use it to refer to all family-based immigration, period, are talking not just about the mechanics of the chain but about a bigger normative question: whether allowing immigrants to come as family units, or allowing people to immigrate based on family relationships, gives the US too little control over who gets to come.
The ultimate impression of both the White House and NumbersUSA “chain migration” diagrams is to make it seem that admitting a single immigrant unleashes an uncontrollable tide of infinite future family-based immigration — that each immigrant is a one-person Trojan horse for hundreds more.
“As more and more immigrants are admitted to the United States, the population eligible to sponsor their relatives for green cards increases exponentially,” the restrictionist group FAIR says on its website. “This means that every time one immigrant is admitted, the door is opened to many more.”
This potent visual is why “chain migration” has been a longtime target of immigration restrictionists, even when the Republican Party as a whole was attempting to welcome legal immigrants. For people whose biggest fear regarding immigration is that immigrants will change the face of America — that they’ll trample the country’s “traditionally” white, Christian majority — there’s little more potent than the idea of immigrants bringing over huge families, replanting their communities whole in American soil.
This fear goes hand in hand with a fear that immigrants won’t assimilate. When immigration restrictionists cite the second quarter of the 20th century as a great time for the United States, they’re not (at least explicitly) praising the racist country quotas that governed immigration at the time. They’re (explicitly) praising the fact that, with overall immigration levels low, immigrants were forced to interact with and eventually integrate among US citizens. The more immigrants that come over — and especially the more that immigrants bring their families over — the less, in theory, that they and their descendants will have to interact with people from outside of their community. In turn, this gets into fears that parts of America could become alien to Americans — cultural, or literal, “no-go zones.”
The use of “chain migration” in the current debate over DACA, to refer to DACA recipients allowing their parents to become legal immigrants, complicates the matter even further. Because the parents of DACA recipients have, by definition, lived in the US as unauthorized immigrants, this isn’t really about bringing new people into the US — it’s about legalizing people who are already here (or bringing people back who have been deported, something US policy already makes pretty hard).
The insistence among some Republicans that “Dreamers” not be allowed to sponsor their parents, even after they become US citizens, is really about not wanting to “reward” unauthorized immigrants for living in the US without papers. They’re worried about losing “control” in a slightly different sense — worried that any “reward” for illegal behavior will incentivize a new wave of unauthorized migration to take advantage of potential rewards. This is pretty far afield from the way that “chain migration” is commonly understood — but that’s the word being used in the DACA debate anyway, not least because the president has helped turn it into a buzzword.
Because these memes, and the fears that they provoke, are all so tightly connected, “chain migration” is both an ideological concern about America selecting immigrants based on their merit, and a racist smokescreen for fears of demographic change. It can be hard to separate the two. And it’s certainly not in the interests of the opponents of “chain migration” to try.
There’s a reason that family-based immigration has lasted as long as it has
It’s a lot easier to get people to agree, in theory, that the US should be accepting immigrants on the basis of “merit” — i.e., without concern for whether they have relatives living here — than it is to get them to agree on exactly what should be done to reduce the importance of family-based immigration to the current system.
For one thing, many policymakers, including many Republicans, see allowing some family members to immigrate as an important factor in encouraging integration. Allowing immigrants to bring along their spouses and minor children, for example, makes it less likely that they’ll decide to return to their home countries — and it means their children will grow up American, in more ways than one.
There are also policymakers who see family unity as a value worth protecting for its own sake (an argument you’ll often hear among religious advocates). And there’s, of course, an ethnic component. Asian Americans, in particular, feel that they are still trying to make up ground after decades of racist exclusion from the immigration system — and family-based immigration has been the best way for them to make that ground up. Mexican Americans, too, feel that the current system has unfairly forced Mexican immigrant families to be separated while other families get to reunite with ease.
All of these objections have combined, so far, to make Democrats firmly opposed to any proposal that would restrict future family-based immigration. But as “chain migration” begins to eclipse other issues (like immigration enforcement in the interior of the US) as a top Republican priority, it’s not clear whether Democrats’ commitment to hypothetical legal immigrants of the future is going to win out over their commitment to legalizing unauthorized immigrants who are currently here.”
The fear that the US won’t be a “White Christian country” is what’s really driving the campaign against family migration (a/k/a/ “chain migration”). But, in reality, the days of the US as a “White Christian Empire” are in our national rearview mirror, no matter what the White Nationalist restrictionists do. It’s really just a question of how much pain, suffering, and divisiveness the White Nationalists can inflict as their already tenuous control inevitably continues to slip.
As almost all “non-restrictionist” economists tell us, restrictive national immigration policies are not in our national interest. In fact, more, not less legal immigration is going to be a necessity to keep our economy from stagnating like that of Japan and some European countries. Indeed, Paul Ryan’s goofy “everyone should have more kids” was an acknowledgement of how our future success depends on a robust legal immigration system.
Also, the concept that the legal admission of Dreamers is a “negative” that has to be “offset” by cuts in legal immigration elsewhere is pure fiction. Dreamers are already here and contributing to our society and our national welfare. Giving them legal status is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing. And doing the “smart thing” requires no bogus “offsets.”
Maria Sacchetti and Nick Miroff report in the Washington Post:
“President Trump’s vision of a “big, beautiful” wall along the Mexican border may never be realized, and almost certainly not as a 2,000-mile physical structure spanning sea to sea.
But in a systematic and less visible way, his administration is following a blueprint to reduce the number of foreigners living in the United States — those who are undocumented and those here legally — and overhaul the U.S. immigration system for generations to come.
Across agencies and programs, federal officials are wielding executive authority to assemble a bureaucratic wall that could be more effective than any concrete and metal one. While some actions have drawn widespread attention, others have been put in place more quietly.
The administration has moved to slash the number of refugees, accelerate deportations and terminate the provisional residency of more than a million people, among other measures. On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security said nearly 60,000 Haitians allowed to stay in the United States after a devastating 2010 earthquake have until July 2019 to leave or obtain another form of legal status.
. . . .
Even as they fight court orders seeking to halt parts of Trump’s immigration agenda, Sessions, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller and other key players are finding ways to shrink the immigration system. Miller was an aide to Sessions before both men joined the administration; in less than a year, their immigration policy prescriptions have moved from the realm of think-tank wish lists to White House executive orders.
In October, the White House — in a plan led by Miller — said it had conducted a “bottom-up review of all immigration policies” and found “dangerous loopholes, outdated laws, and easily exploited vulnerabilities in our immigration system — current policies that are harming our country and our communities.”
. . . .
Trump’s tough talk alone appears to be one of the administration’s best bulwarks: Illegal crossings along the border with Mexico have plunged to their lowest level in 45 years, and U.S. agents are catching a far greater share of those attempting to sneak in. Applications for H-1B skilled visas and new foreign-student enrollment have also declined.
William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, said that until now U.S. immigration rates have largely spared the country from the challenges facing advanced industrial nations such as Japan and Germany that can’t replace aging workers fast enough. By slashing immigration, Frey said, the country could end up with labor shortages and other workforce issues.
But although some of Trump’s most fervent supporters see curbing immigration as a way to turn back the United States’ rapid racial and ethnic transformation, Frey said it is an unrealistic goal. By 2020, census projections show minorities will account for more than half of the under-18 U.S. population, because of higher birthrates in nonwhite populations. And by 2026, the number of whites is projected to begin declining in absolute numbers, he said, as deaths exceed births.
“You can slow the rate of Latino and Asian immigration, but it won’t make the population whiter,” Frey said. “It will just become less white at a slower pace.”
Trump continues to insist his administration will build a border wall, despite exorbitant cost projections and senior DHS officials saying a 2,000-mile structure is impractical. His supporters say they admire the president for plowing ahead in his overhaul efforts and see a historic, generational shift underway.
“There is more than one way to get to the goal,” Dane said. “Legislative solutions are all great, but clearly the administration has done things behind the scenes. . . . The results have been dramatic.”
Read the full article at the link.
It’s no surprise that guys like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions and his henchman Stephen Miller are leading this racist-inspired, xenophobic “race to the bottom” that if successful would likely tank our economy and cause even more inequality and social unrest as well as inflicting all sorts of unnecessary pain and suffering on long time residents, needed and productive workers, and the most vulnerable individuals seeking protection under U.S. and international laws. Really, hard to see how guys like this with retrograde ideas that come right from the “Jim Crow era” of American history get into positions of power for which they are so totally unqualified, both by background and temperament. But, then again, look at whom we have elected our President to represent us on the international scene.
The good news for the majority of Americans is that the “turn back the clock” plan is ultimately likely to fail. We will eventually move forward again as a diverse, productive, “country of immigrants,” and restore humane and humanitarian values to our national and international profile.
“With eyes wide open, Mike Pence eagerly auditioned for the role as Donald Trump’s poodle. Now comfortably leashed, he deserves the degradations that he seems too sycophantic to recognize as such. He did Trump’s adolescent bidding with last Sunday’s preplanned virtue pageant of scripted indignation — his flight from the predictable sight of players kneeling during the national anthem at a football game. No unblinkered observer can still cling to the hope that Pence has the inclination, never mind the capacity, to restrain, never mind educate, the man who elevated him to his current glory. Pence is a reminder that no one can have sustained transactions with Trump without becoming too soiled for subsequent scrubbing.
A man who interviewed for the position Pence captured, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), is making amends for saying supportive things about Trump. In 2016, for example, he said he was “repulsed” by people trying to transform the Republican National Convention from a merely ratifying body into a deliberative body for the purpose of preventing what has come to pass. Until recently, Corker, an admirable man and talented legislator, has been, like many other people, prevented by his normality from fathoming Trump’s abnormality. Now Corker says what could have been said two years ago about Trump’s unfitness.
The axiom that “Hell is truth seen too late” is mistaken; damnation deservedly comes to those who tardily speak truth that has long been patent. Perhaps there shall be a bedraggled parade of repentant Republicans resembling those supine American communists who, after Stalin imposed totalitarianism, spawned the gulag, engineered the Ukraine famine, launched the Great Terror and orchestrated the show trials, were theatrically disillusioned by his collaboration with Hitler: You, sir, have gone too far.
Trump’s energy, unleavened by intellect and untethered to principle, serves only his sovereign instinct to pander to those who adore him as much as he does. Unshakably smitten, they are impervious to the Everest of evidence that he disdains them as a basket of gullibles. He understands that his unremitting coarseness satisfies their unpolitical agenda of smashing crockery, even though his self-indulgent floundering precludes fulfillment of the promises he flippantly made to assuage their sense of being disdained. He gives his gullibles not governance by tantrum, but tantrum as governance.
With Trump turning and turning in a widening gyre, his crusade to make America great again is increasingly dominated by people who explicitly repudiate America’s premises. The faux nationalists of the “alt-right” and their fellow travelers such as Stephen K. Bannon, although fixated on protecting the United States from imported goods, have imported the blood-and-soil ethno-tribalism that stains the continental European right. In “Answering the Alt-Right” in National Affairs quarterly, Ramon Lopez, a University of Chicago PhD candidate in political philosophy, demonstrates how Trump’s election has brought back to the public stage ideas that a post-Lincoln America had slowly but determinedly expunged. They were rejected because they are incompatible with an open society that takes its bearing from the Declaration of Independence’s doctrine of natural rights.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Oct. 8 called the White House “an adult day care center” after President Trump criticized him on Twitter. The president hit back on Oct. 10, calling the senator “Liddle’ Bob Corker.” (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
With their version of the identity politics practiced by progressives, alt-right theorists hold that the tribalism to which people are prone should not be transcended but celebrated.As Lopez explains, the alt-right sees society as inevitably “a zero-sum contest among fundamentally competing identity groups.” Hence the alt-right is explicitly an alternative to Lincoln’s affirmation of the Founders’ vision. They saw America as cohesive because of a shared creed. The alt-right must regard Lincoln as not merely mistaken but absurd in describing America as a creedal nation dedicated to a “proposition.” The alt-right insists that real nationhood requires cultural homogeneity rooted in durable ethnic identities. This is the alt-right’s alternative foundation for the nation Lincoln said was founded on the principle that all people are, by nature, equal.
Trump is, of course, innocent of this (or any other) systemic thinking. However, within the ambit of his vast, brutish carelessness are some people with sinister agendas and anti-constitutional impulses. Stephen Miller, Bannon’s White House residue and Trump’s enfant terrible,recently said that “in sending our [tax reform] proposal to the tax-writing committees, we will include instructions to ensure all low- and middle-income households are protected.” So, Congress will be instructed by Trump’s 32-year-old acolyte who also says the president’s national security powers “will not be questioned.” We await the response of congressional Republicans, who did so little to stop Trump’s ascent and then so much to normalize him.”
Leave it to Trump and his White Nationalist gang to have me agreeing with George Will, something that rarely happened in the pre-Trump era. But, the folks who perpetrated this mess are our fellow citizens who voted for Trump notwithstanding his clearly established philosophy of sowing and pandering to hate, incompetence, and his glaring unsuitability for any public office. And, too many of those “core supporters” are still out there, coarsely and ignorantly screaming their approval for an Administration that is destroying America, and endangering the lives, rights, and human dignity of many of their fellow Americans, one day at a time.
“When people arrive at the border seeking asylum from persecution, the United States gives them the benefit of the doubt. As long as they can show there’s a “significant possibility” that they deserve protection, they’re allowed to stay and make their case to an immigration judge. President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress want to change that.
On Sunday, the Trump administration demanded that Congress overhaul the US asylum system as part of any legislation to protect the nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers from deportation. The White House’s asylum proposal, laid out in nine bullet-pointed items as part of the broader immigration plan, appears to be modeled on the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act, a bill that Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee approved in July. The bill, which has not been passed by the full House, would make it easier for the Department of Homeland Securityto quickly reject asylum claims and force most asylum seekers to remain in detention while their cases are decided. The overall effect would be to transform a system for protecting persecuted people, created in the wake of World War II, into a much more adversarial process.
At a hearing in July, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) warned that the GOP proposal would “all but destroy the US asylum system.” Now Trump is trying to fold those changes into a deal to protect the Dreamers—undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children—who were previously covered by Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Eleanor Acer, an expert on refugees at the advocacy group Human Rights First, saidin a statement Monday that Trump’s demands will “block those fleeing persecution and violence from even applying for asylum, and punish those who seek protection by preventing their release from immigration detention facilities and jails.”
But Republicans like Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) argue that asylum reform is needed to address “pervasive” fraud, such as false claims of persecution. Asylum claims from the “Northern Triangle” countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras have been a major focus for Republicans. Between 2013 and 2015, there were more asylum claims from the Northern Triangle, which has been terrorized by MS-13 and other gangs, than in the previous 15 years combined. A 2015 report from the Government Accountability Office found that the United States has “limited capabilities to detect asylum fraud.” But the scope of the problem is not known. Leah Chavla, a program officer at the Women’s Refugee Commission, says going after fraud is misguided in light of the many checks and balances that are already in place.
The real “fraudsters” here are the GOP restrictionists, led by folks like Goodlatte, Miller, and Sessions, trying to fob off their knowingly false and contrived narrative on America. Shame!
Second, the current system intentionally denies lawyers to the respondents in detention in obscure locations along the Southern Border, specifically selected to make it difficult for individuals to exercise their rights.Raising the standards would virtually guarantee rejection of all such asylum seekerswithout any hearing at all.The standard for having asylum granted is supposed to be a generous “well-founded fear” (in other words, a 10% chance or a “reasonable chance”). In fact, however, DHS and EOIR often fail to honor the existing legal standards. Forcing unrepresented individuals in detention with no chance to gather evidence to establish that it is “more likely than not” that they would be granted asylum is a ridiculous travesty of justice.
Third, access to lawyers, not detention, is the most cost-effective way to secure appearance at Immigration Court hearings.Individuals who are able to obtain lawyers, in other words those who actually understand what is happening, have a relatively low rate of “failure to appear.” In fact, a long-term study by the American Immigration Council shows that 95% of minors represented by counsel appear for their hearings as opposed to approximately 67% for those who are unrepresented. See,e.g., https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/taking-attendance-new-data-finds-majority-children-appear-immigration-court
Rather than curtailment of rights or expensive and inhumane detention, the best way of insure that all asylum applicants appear for their scheduled hearings and receive full due process would be to insure that the hearings take place in areas with adequate supplies of pro bono and “low bono” counsel and that hearings are scheduled in a predictable manner that does not intentionally outstrip the capabilities of the pro bono bar.
Fourth, a rational response to fraud concerns would be building better fraud detection programs within DHS, rather than denying vulnerable individuals their statutory and constitutional rights. What would a better system look like: more traditional law enforcement tools, like undercover operations, use of informants to infiltrate smuggling operations, and much better intelligence on the operations of human trafficking rings. And, there’s plenty of resources to do it. DHS just lacks the ability and/or the motivation. Many of the resources now wasted on “gonzo” interior enforcement and mindless detention — sacking up janitors and maids for deportation and detaining rape victims applying for asylum — could be “redeployed” to meaningful, although more challenging, law enforcement activities aimed at rationally addressing the fraud problem rather than using it as a bogus excuse to harm the vulnerable.
Fifth, Goodlatte’s whole premise of fraud among Southern Border asylum applications is highly illogical. Most of the Southern Border asylum claims involve some variant of so-called “particular social groups” or “PSGs,” But, the entire immigration adjudication system at all levels has traditionally been biased against just such claims. and, it is particularly biased againstsuch claims from Central America. PSG claims from Central America receive “strict scrutiny’ at every level of the asylum system! No fraudster in his or her right mind would go to the trouble of “dummying up” a PSG claim which will likely be rejected. No, if you’re going to the trouble of committing fraud, you’d fabricate a “political or religious activist or supporter claim” of the type that are much more routinely granted across the board.
Don’t let Trump, Miller, Sessions, Goodlatte, and their band of shameless GOP xenophobes get away with destroying our precious asylum system! Resist now! Resist forever! Stand up for Due Process, or eventually YOU won’t any at all! Some Dude once said “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” While arrogant folks like the restrictionists obviously don’t believe that, it’s still good advice.
“Washington (CNN)Democrats are raising alarms that more than a quarter of eligible recipients under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program have not yet filed to renew their status ahead of Thursday’s deadline.
According to data provided Wednesday by a senior Democratic congressional staffer and confirmed to CNN by US Citizenship and Immigration Services, 42,669 individuals nationwide — or 27.7% of the 154,234 people eligible — had not submitted their applications. That was slightly down from roughly 48,000 that the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday hadn’t yet submitted.
When President Donald Trump announced the end of the program, known as DACA, a month ago, he put in place a six-month delay on expiring protections by allowing any recipient whose DACA expires by March 5 until Thursday to apply for a two-year renewal. Otherwise, the program that protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation will begin to end on March 5, as the two-year permits of nearly 700,000 active protectees begin to run out.
Democrats have repeatedly implored DHS to extend the deadline, saying one month to gather paperwork — and the roughly $500 application fee — is not long enough for those affected.
Trump sketches out DACA deal with Republicans at White House dinner
They’ve been especially critical of DHS for not making special consideration for DACA recipients in states hit by hurricanes Irma and Harvey, though DHS did announce Tuesday it would make case-by-case decisions for recipients in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands affected by Maria.
The frustration bubbled up at a Senate hearing Tuesday, where Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin cited considerations the Internal Revenue Service was making for Texas, Louisiana and Florida residents.
“May I implore you, implore you, to do the same thing at DHS that our own Internal Revenue Service is doing,” Durbin said to the DHS officials testifying. “If it’s good enough for our tax collectors to have a heart, isn’t it good enough for DHS to have a heart?”
Senators’ frustration with Trump on DACA bubbles up at hearing
According to the Wednesday data, more than 2,600 of eligible recipients in Texas had yet to submit renewals, 28% of the total eligible in that state. In Florida, more than 2,000, or 35% of those eligible, had yet to renew. In the US islands hit by Irma, 16 of the 37 eligible hadn’t yet renewed.
Democrats have also been frustrated with DHS over its notification process, saying without individual notifications to those eligible for renewal, the administration should extend the deadline.
“We are very concerned that because DACA recipients were not individually notified of their eligibility for renewal, tens of thousands of DACA recipients could lose their work authorization and DACA status protections,” Congressional Hispanic Caucus leaders wrote in a letter to acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke on Tuesday repeating a request to meet about extending the deadline.
Trump said he was putting in place the six-month window to give Congress a sense of urgency to put the Obama administration executive action into law.
But despite Tuesday’s hearing, multiple working groups and meetings the President has had with lawmakers at the White House, little substantive progress has been made.
The fault lines have remained consistent. Democrats support the bipartisan Dream Act that would protect eligible young immigrants who arrived as children and put them on a path to citizenship. They say they could accept border security as a compromise with it, but insist they will not vote for anything that could put the families and friends of those protected at greater risk of deportation.
DACA deal: A list of just some of the things that could go wrong
But Republicans are also insistent that any DACA deal must include border security and likely immigration enforcement measures, and the more conservative members of the party are suggesting policies — like mandatory worker verification, cuts to the legal immigration system and expanded deportation authority — that would be almost impossible to get Democrats to agree to.
Any solution would likely have to include Democrats, as they’ll be needed for passage in the Senate and to make up for Republicans in the House who would never vote for any DACA deal. But House Speaker Paul Ryan has also pledged not to move any bill that doesn’t get the votes of a majority of Republicans, limiting the options.
Durbin was joined on Tuesday at the hearing by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, in urging lawmakers and the White House to not try to concoct too big a compromise. Tillis has sponsored legislation similar to Durbin’s Dream Act that he bills as a conservative DACA solution.
Responding to a wish list articulated by a DHS senior staff member testifying about the White House’s aims, Tillis grew frustrated and urged members to focus on a narrow deal as a starting point.
“It reads like a laundry list for comprehensive immigration reform, and if Congress has proven an extraordinary ability to do anything, it’s to fail at comprehensive immigration reform,” Tillis said.”
Bad news on all fronts for Dreamers, and for America. Over at the White House, notorious White Nationalist xenophobe racist and Sessions confidante Stephen Miller is plotting to destroy any chance of compromise legislation to aid Dreamers by attaching reductions in legal Immigraton and other parts of the White Nationalist agenda to the bill.
“The White House is finalizing a plan to demand hard-line immigration reforms in exchange for supporting a fix on the DACA program, according to three people familiar with the talks — an approach that risks alienating Democrats and even many Republicans, potentially tanking any deal.
The White House proposal is being crafted by Stephen Miller, the administration’s top immigration adviser, and includes cutting legal immigration by half over the next decade, an idea that’s already been panned by lawmakers in both parties.
The principles would likely be a political non-starter for Democrats and infuriate Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who have negotiated with President Donald Trump on immigration and left a White House meeting last month indicating a solution was near. They could also divide Republicans, many of whom oppose cutting legal immigration.
Miller was upset after Trump’s dinner last month with Schumer and Pelosi and has been working since to bring the president back to the tougher stance he took during his campaign.
Miller has begun talking with Hill aides and White House officials about the principles in recent days. The administration is expected to send its immigration wish-list to Congress in the coming days, perhaps as soon as this weekend, said the people familiar with the plan, who include two administration officials. They requested anonymity to discuss the ongoing negotiations.
A White House official cautioned that the plans have not been finalized and could still change. Miller didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Unless they change dramatically from their current form, the immigration principles could short-circuit congressional negotiations aimed at finding a fix to DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — the Obama-era initiative that grants work permits to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as minors.
“Handing Stephen Miller the pen on any DACA deal after the revolt from their base is the quickest way to blow it up,” said a senior Democratic Senate aide.
Lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol panned an earlier White House immigration proposal spearheaded by Miller, the RAISE Act, when the White House rolled it out in August. Republicans including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ron Johnson .)of Wisconsin all but declared the proposal dead on arrival.
Trump announced last month that he would end the DACA program, but he said he’d give Congress six months to come up with a legislative solution.
Despite Trump’s efforts to make nice with Schumer and Pelosi, Republican lawmakers signaled this week that the president is prepared to demand tough immigration measures as part of the negotiations.
In addition to provisions in the RAISE Act, the White House’s immigration principles also include parts of the Davis-Oliver Act, including measures that would give state and local law enforcement power to enforce immigration laws, allow states to write their own immigration laws and expand criminal penalties for entering the U.S. illegally.
The principles would also incorporate a provision from the Davis-Oliver Act that puts the onus on Congress to designate Temporary Protected Status, which allows immigrants to temporarily stay in the United States because they are unable to return to their home country as a result of a natural disaster or other dangerous circumstances.
The Davis-Oliver Act gives Congress 90 days to approve a measure extending TPS protections to a foreign state. If Congress does not act, the designation will be terminated. Lawmakers have raised concerns that Congress will be unable to agree on the designations, effectively killing the program.
In addition, the principles call for billions of dollars in border security, as well as money for detention beds and more immigration judges, according to the people familiar with them. Republicans are likely to support those moves.”
Miller’s proposals are right out of the White Nationalist restrictionist playbook. It will be a non-starter for Democrats. Additionally, no decent human being of any party should ever be associated, in any way, with any idea emanating from the arrogant racist Miller.
If Miller is involved, Dreamer relief is DOA. That means that Dreamers are likely to be left to fight out their future one case at a time in the Federal Courts and in the Immigraton Courts. Given the existing 630,000+ case backlog in the U.S. Imigration Courts, and the relatively cumbersome process for restoring “Dreamer” cases to the Immigraton Court Docket, not many will actually be removed from the United States before 2000.
I also think that Dreamers will have a reasonable chance of succeeding in the Article III Courts in barring DHS from relying on any evidence furnished as part of the DACA application and interview process as evidence of removability. That’s likely to throw a further monkey wrench into any enforcement initiative aimed at Dreamers.
So, the best strategy might prove to be working hard to remove the Trump regime and enough White Nationalist GOPers through the ballot box to create a climate for reasonable immigraton reform in 2021.
Sad, but probably true. A country that mistreats its youth in this manner can expect “very bad things” to happen in the future.
I use the epithet — “cuck” is short for cuckold — since it’s the one Trump’s most vociferous supporters hurled at mainstream Republicans they accused of caving in to the moral bullying of liberals, especially on the subjects of race and immigration.
But now it’s the president who is doing exactly that, making the case for DACA beneficiaries in terms his base most condemns: as “good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military” and who don’t deserve to be thrown out of the country simply because their parents brought them to the United States as children. It’s the kind of thing Nancy Pelosi — or, worse, John McCain — might say.
It’s also the kind of thing that could make for a successful presidency, if only Trump could follow his pragmatic instinct, banish his inner Steve Bannon and shelve the worst promises of his candidacy, as he already has with his threats to exit NATO.
Next steps could include pairing an infrastructure bill with tax reform, eliminating budget sequestration and the debt ceiling, restoring funding to the State Department and cutting it to the United Nations, and saving the nuclear power industry through deregulation and federal subsidies — in the name of combating climate change.
But Trump’s move toward the Democrats on DACA — just as his earlier move toward them on the debt ceiling — isn’t about pragmatism. It’s not even about the plasticity of his convictions.
It’s about his addiction to betrayal, his contempt for those who bend their knee to him, his disdain for “losers” (especially when they’re on his side) and his desperate need to be admired by those who despise him most simply because they have the wit to see through him. This is a presidency whose defining feature isn’t ideology, much less policy. It’s neurosis.
In other words, there is no “pivot” at work in the presidency, in the mold of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s leftward turn during his governorship of California. There’s a mood swing.
That might comfort the Trump true believers who fear their president is abandoning them. It shouldn’t: He feels about as much loyalty toward them and their convictions as he’s felt toward his several wives. Remember that, as recently as 2012, he denounced Mitt Romney for an excessively harsh attitude toward immigrants, calling the Massachusetts governor’s policy of self-deportation “crazy” and a turnoff to “everybody who is inspired to come into this country.”
All of this is fun, since it’s always delightful to see blowhards and bigots get their comeuppance at the hands of their idol. The ideologues of the right are left to make do with their jester and his antics. I hope they have a sense of humor about it.
But there’s also a lesson for conservatives who mistook Trump’s bluster for seriousness. Not least among the conservative “Never Trump” objections to the candidate is that he would be a disaster to the Republican Party — not just because his beliefs, such as they were, were anathema to the party’s best traditions, but because at heart he was a destructive opportunist with no core convictions beyond his own immediate advantage.
The president’s newfound good sense on DACA is good news for the country, provided it lasts. Nobody should count on it whipping any sense into those conservatives who fell for him, also known as cucks.”
Read Stephens’s full column at the link.
Stephens chooses to be a bozo on climate change (controversy ups readership, I suppose), but he sure does understand the evil dynamics of Donald Trump. Believe in nothing, be loyal to nobody, but require absolute belief and loyalty from others. That’s why Trump is such a danger to our country and to our national security. He doesn’t believe in the Constitution, humane values, democracy, or the free world for that matter. He is his own “Cult of Personality” and his erratic self-centered behavior certainly is reminiscent of guys like Mao (although to be fair, The Donald hasn’t ordered the liquidation of his “enemies” — just public humiliation, dissing, twitter shaming, threats of political retaliation, and occasionally calling for baseless criminal prosecutions).
Any time overhyped Neo-Fascists like Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Steve King, and Sean Hannity as well as ideologue White Nationalists like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, Stephen Miller, and Steve Bannon are up in arms, you know that the country is moving in the correct (can’t use the term “right” here) direction.
“President Trump didn’t even have the guts to do the job himself. Instead, he hid in the shadows and sent his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to do the dirty work of telling the country that the administration would no longer shield from deportation 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children.
Mr. Sessions, a longtime anti-immigrant hard-liner, was more than up to the task. In a short, disingenuous speech, he said a program set up by President Barack Obama in 2012 — known as DACA, for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — was a lawless policy that “yielded terrible humanitarian consequences” and denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of American citizens. (Mr. Trump echoed these claims in a statement released by the White House.) Mr. Sessions called DACA “an unconstitutional exercise of authority” and said “failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and terrorism.”
False, false, false and false.
DACA recipients are not threats to public safety or national security; to the contrary, they must have a nearly spotless record to be eligible in the first place. They do not receive legal status in this country, only a two-year, renewable deferral of deportation along with a work permit and eligibility for other government benefits down the road. And they are not taking jobs from native-born Americans, whose declining levels of employment can be chalked up to other factors.
As for the policy’s legality, there’s no question that the president has the authority to set immigration-enforcement priorities. Presidents of both parties have done that for decades, and President Obama did it by focusing on people with criminal records and not on those brought to this country as children. For most of this latter group, the United States is the only home they’ve ever known. About 9 in 10 are working taxpayers, and deporting them could reduce the gross domestic product by over $400 billion over the next decade.
In short, DACA is morally right, legally sound and fiscally smart policy. It was also the only humane choice Mr. Obama had in the face of Congress’s failure to pass any meaningful immigration reform in the last two decades.
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If all that weren’t enough, DACA remains overwhelmingly popular among Americans of all political stripes. Polls put its approval rating at roughly double that of President Trump himself. Even the Chamber of Commerce, usually a reliable backer of the Republican legislative agenda, called the decision to end DACA “contrary to fundamental American principles.”
The only bad thing that could be said about DACA is that, because it was a presidential memorandum, it was always vulnerable to being undone by a shortsighted administration playing to its base.
Now that that has happened, 800,000 people — all of whom gave their personal information and immigration status to the government, believing it would not be used against them — face the prospect of being shipped back to a country they may have no connection to or even remember.
This wouldn’t be a concern if Congress had done its job and passed the Dream Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for people brought to this country as children, and which has kicked around Capitol Hill for 16 years. Even though it has been stymied mainly by Republican opposition at every turn, it’s still theoretically on the table. But there’s little sign the dwindling Republican moderates in Congress have the stomach to confront their party’s nativist core. Mr. Trump called on Congress to act, but didn’t have the courage to tell it what he wanted it to do.
Contrast that with President Obama’s willingness to defend a policy that has always had detractors. “Ultimately, this is about basic decency,” Mr. Obama wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. “This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated.”
Mr. Trump has no good rejoinder. That’s partly because there isn’t one and partly because, as is so often the case, he doesn’t fully understand the scope of what he’s done. One would hope that the widespread outrage at Tuesday’s announcement, and the impending suffering of hundreds of thousands of people who’ve done nothing but try to become contributing members of society, might impress it upon him.”
“Sessions uses the alleged crime wave as evidence for the need to return to “law and order,” which President Trump has vowed to make a top priority during his presidency. As attorney general, Sessions has advocated for several policies aimed at preventing violent crime from continuing to rise, including tougher policing practices, reinstating mandatory minimum sentences for drug users, providing surplus military equipment to police departments, and a dismantling of “sanctuary cities.” In June, Sessions launched a new program to combat gun, gang, and drug violence in 12 cities across the United States.
At the same time, Sessions has lauded Miami-Dade County as an example for the rest of the nation — a major urban area that has reduced crime significantly since the “Miami Vice” days of the 1980s.
But Sessions, in his rhetoric and use of statistics, is being remarkably inconsistent. Let’s take a look.
. . . .
Sessions claims about crime across the country are a distortion of the facts. Nationwide, the violent crime rate and the murder rate are lower than they have been in almost 45 years. Violent crime and the murder rate increased slightly from 2014-2015, but the one-year increase does not qualify as a national trend.
Sessions applies the same distortion in his spotlighting of crime in major cities. Sessions routinely highlights an increase in violence in Chicago as evidence of the rising crime wave, but when viewed in conjunction with the national data, Chicago stands out as an outlier that is out of sync with national trends. In major cities across the country, violent crime has also dropped to historic lows. When Sessions lauds Miami-Dade County, he is implicitly acknowledging that crime rates actually have dropped dramatically since the 1980s.
Yet Sessions claims violent crime is “back with a vengeance,” and that it is “surging,” which is the result of a “staggering increase,” in crime in urban areas. With every dramatic assertion, Session is stoking American’s fears about crime and safety to advance a political agenda of “law and order.” Sessions earns Four Pinocchios.
Read the much more detailed analysis of Sessions’s “parade of misrepresentations” at the link. He isn’t even a good liar because he keeps making claims that can not just be disputed, but can clearly be disproved.
I had to be selective; there were lots of articles about Sessions’s astounding dishonesty in the past few days, including his lies about the need to “militarize” the local police, his distortion of Obama DOJ policies, and how gonzo inappropriate militarization of local police and a false “war on crime” is an essential part of the Trump-Sessions White Nationalist agenda.
Sessions is probably a perjurer and certainly an habitual liar, distorter, and knowing purveyor of false White Nationalist narratives aimed at diminishing the rights of minorities (including migrants) and promoting White Supremacy. So, why is a dude with no respect for law, the truth, or the rights of non-white, non-Christian Americans (in other words, the majority of Americans) qualified to be the chief law enforcement officer and spokesman for justice in our country? Shades of John Mitchell. I could get pretty tired hearing about the “rule of law” from a guy and a party that have no concept of what it means.
“But ultimately, Tuesday’s stunning appearance will be remembered for the sentiments that passed the lips of a President of the United States.
In the long and tortured history of a nation still trying to work through its complicated story on race, Trump’s meltdown will stand out, as a moment ripped from the darkest pages of history and transposed into the 21st Century.
In the process, he appears to have abdicated any claim to the traditional presidential role as a moral voice for the nation and the world.”
Read the full article at the link.
What a tragic nightmare for our country and the world. Watching the daily disintegration of the U.S. and our stunning fall from a position of world leadership. “Making America Great” — yup, for White Supremacists, Nazis, racists, and Vladimir Putin (who must be beside himself with joy at what a bunch of chumps we are). But not for the majority of Americans.
Trump bashes ‘alt-left,’ again saying two sides to blame in Charlottesville
President Trump first asked reporters to define the “alt-right,” before saying members of the “alt-left” were also to blame for violence in Charlottesville, while taking questions from reporters on Aug. 15 at Trump Tower in New York. (The Washington Post)
President Trump on Tuesday said that counterprotesters at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville over the weekend acted violently and should share the blame for the mayhem that left a woman dead and many others injured. The president also defended those protesting the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.
In a testy exchange with reporters at Trump Tower, the president called the events on Saturday a “horrible thing to watch,” but he emphasized that both sides of the clashes contributed to the violence. This is a developing story. It will be updated.”
Not surprising, since his earlier insincere follow-up statement in which he singled out racist and White Supremacist groups by name appeared to be “read from cue cards” probably written out for him by Ivanka. But, eventually his “White Nationalist rage” always boils over, and he goes on the attack, revealing once again just how unqualified he was and remains for the high office to which he was elected.
Very similar to the Travel Ban and the Comey firing when he couldn’t stick to the script that some of his advisers had prepared for him.
HERE IS what President Trump said Saturday about the violence in Charlottesville sparked by a demonstration of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members:
We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.
Here is what a presidential president would have said:“The violence Friday and Saturday in Charlottesville, Va., is a tragedy and an unacceptable, impermissible assault on American values. It is an assault, specifically, on the ideals we cherish most in a pluralistic democracy — tolerance, peaceable coexistence and diversity.
“The events were triggered by individuals who embrace and extol hatred. Racists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and their sympathizers — these are the extremists who fomented the violence in Charlottesville, and whose views all Americans must condemn and reject.
“To wink at racism or to condone it through silence, or false moral equivalence, or elision, as some do, is no better and no more acceptable than racism itself. Just as we can justly identify radical Islamic terrorism when we see it, and call it out, so can we all see the racists in Charlottesville, and understand that they are anathema in our society, which depends so centrally on mutual respect.
“Under whatever labels and using whatever code words — ‘heritage,’ ‘tradition,’ ‘nationalism’ — the idea that whites or any other ethnic, national or racial group is superior to another is not acceptable. Americans should not excuse, and I as president will not countenance, fringe elements in our society who peddle such anti-American ideas. While they have deep and noxious roots in our history, they must not be given any quarter nor any license today.
“Nor will we accept acts of domestic terrorism perpetrated by such elements. If, as appears to be the case, the vehicle that plowed into the counterprotesters on Saturday in Charlottesville did so intentionally, the driver should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The American system of justice must and will treat a terrorist who is Christian or Buddhist or Hindu or anything else just as it treats a terrorist who is Muslim — just as it treated those who perpetrated the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.
“We may all have pressing and legitimate questions about how the violence in Charlottesville unfolded — and whether it could have been prevented. There will be time in coming days to delve further into those matters, and demand answers. In the meantime, I stand ready to provide any and all resources from the federal government to ensure there will be no recurrence of such violence in Virginia or elsewhere. Let us keep the victims of this terrible tragedy in our thoughts and prayers, and keep faith that the values enshrined in our Constitution and laws will prevail against those who would desecrate our democracy.”
It might not be Presidential, but it’s what you’d expect from a President who has unabashed White Nationalists among his closest advisers and in a key cabinet position. It’s also what you would expect from someone who has spent the last several years pandering to White Supremacists, who now feel “at home” in today’s GOP, bigots, and racists, and whose own career shows little sensitivity to decency, values, or toleration.
These articles from today’s Washington Post highlight three “gonzo” immigration proposals driven by the Trump Administration’s white nationalist agenda.
First, the proposal to require nonimmigrant students in the U.S. to apply for annual extensions of stay would roll back the “duration of status program” for students — arguably the single best and most mutually beneficial efficiency move in the history of INS/USCIS. It would also create chaos in student visa programs that not only keep many colleges and universities financially viable, but also fuel American innovation and technological advances in the STEM fields.
Second, proposals to make visa issuance a law enforcement function within the DHS would lead to chaos in the visa issuing program and probably will result in retaliation by other friendly nations. Visas are part of the foreign commerce of the U.S., not a domestic law enforcement program.
Finally, proposals to reduce legal immigration and further restrict legal opportunities for unskilled workers would deprive the U.S. of workers at a time when the growing economy needs them the most. This short-sighted policy would likely lead to the same type of economic stagnation that has plagued EU countries and Japan over the past several decades.
“America doesn’t have that problem because it has done things differently. Here, the emphasis is on shared ideals rather than shared cultural artifacts. The U.S. model for assimilation has been more successful because of the country’s value framework, which is the real immigrant magnet. Longitudinal studies, which measure the progress of the same individuals over time, show that U.S. immigrants today continue to assimilate despite the best efforts of bilingual education advocates and anti-American Chicano Studies professors. As with previous immigrant waves, different groups progress at different rates, but over time English usage, educational attainment and incomes do rise.
Mr. King may fear immigrant babies, but he should be more careful not to confuse his personal problems with America’s. Given the coming flood of baby-boomer retirees over the next two decades, those high birthrates are just what the pediatrician ordered.”
Generally, Riley is on the right track. His observations match my experience in Immigration Court where most of the individuals coming before me shared the same values I had: stability, safety, a future for their kids, opportunity for political and economic participation, community and often religious involvement. In other words, being part of a society that is generally functional, rather than dysfunctional as in many of the countries migrants flee.
But, I didn’t appreciate Riley’s snide remark about bilingual education. That’s perhaps because my daughter Anna has taught English Language Learners and still works with migrant populations in the Beloit, WI Public School System.
Bilingualism helps families to learn English and communicate, particularly to the older generation and friends and family abroad. Individuals who are bilingual and at home in different linguistic situations have more satisfying lives and better economic opportunities.
Indeed, America is far behind many other developed countries in bi- and tri-lingualism. It was not uncommon in the Arlington Immigration Court to encounter respondents who were fluent in a number of languages, although for obvious reasons most preferred to have their “merits” court hearings in their “best” language.
That’s just one of the reasons why many “Dreamers” with biglingual skills are well-positioned to be our leaders and innovators of the future. And, we’re fortunate to have them contribute their talents to our society. We’re going to need the talent and energy of all of our young people as well as births to continue to prosper in the future.