Will We Actually Solve Immigration This Time? (Actually…We Might)

Over the last 20 years, there has been perhaps no issue more emotional, fraught, and hard to fix than immigration. There have been many brief periods where it looked like the stars were aligning for a solution. All have disintegrated into bickering and political backlash.

But some analysts believe that we could achieve a breakthrough this Fall, if we pursue a targeted plan aimed at groups where there is already strong consensus. And if we act immediately.

Nathan Kasai is Senior Policy Council at the Washington DC think tank Third Way, and he explained what it would look like and why it needs to happen now on the Great Ideas podcast with Matt Robison.

Listen to the full conversation here:

 This conversation has been condensed and edited.

 How did we get where we are today?

The best analogy is to Lucy pulling away the football from Charlie Brown. That is exactly how immigration has gone for the last few decades. Every single presidential administration has said let’s try to get it done. Bush in the early 2000s. Obama with the Senate “gang of eight.” Even the Trump administration had Jared Kushner shopping around ideas for reform.  At this point, the last time we did something major on the system truly was back in the Reagan era.

How many people are we talking about?

The undocumented population is around 11 million out of a total U.S. population of about 350 million. Everyone thinks of people from Mexico, but the proportion of undocumented Mexicans has actually been declining over the past 10 years.  We are increasingly seeing a lot of people who fly here on a visa and then overstay.

Did the Trump Administration’s child separation policy actually deter migration?  And is the Biden administrations different approach spurring migration? read more

WATCH: Stephen Miller Tells Fox News That He’s Suing Joe Biden Over Illegal Immigration

When Joe Biden took office in January, he inherited a number of different messes. The biggest, of course, was the COVID-19 pandemic. Now over 200 million Americans have been vaccinated and shots are freely available.

There is also a situation at the US/Mexico border where many are seeking asylum. While Conservative talking heads have claimed that this began with Biden, it had started under the Trump administration.

Trump flak Stephen Miller is desperate to detract from Biden’s successes. And on Thursday night, he announced that he and Texas AG Ken Paxton are suing Joe Biden.

Miller explained to Tucker Carlson, “I’m working with attorney general Ken Paxton who is a true patriot and we should all be grateful to him, to sue the Biden administration on behalf of the people of Texas for flooding their estate with untested, Covid infected illegal immigrantsThe fundamental question here at the heart of this whole issue is whether American citizens are second-class citizens in their own country.”

The despised former Donald Trump aide continued:

For months now, Americans have been forced to have their businesses closed and I lives disrupted and during shattered, all because we are told we can’t be close to each other, and one group of people, one group of a loan has been held up by the Biden administration is being subject to none of those rules. Yet these are the people who have no right to be here at all. The illegal immigrants coming in violation of law.” read more

WATCH: Psaki Humiliates Fox Reporter Who Asked a Loaded Question About Immigration

Jen Psaki at the White House press briefing April 7, 2021

Since Joe Biden has been in office, vaccines have gone through the roof. Financial aid was given to millions of Americans and thousands of small businesses. And according to economists, the economy could soon be booming.

Donald Trump and his aides are desperate to distract from Biden’s current success. And Fox News anchors and reporters are in lock-step with the former President’s messaging. But a reporter from the network bit off more than she could chew on Monday when she asked Jen Psaki a misleading question about immigration.

Fox News’ Kristen Fisher queried the press secretary, “

I’m still confused about what changed between 1 p.m. on Friday and around 4:30 p.m. on Friday to go from we’re not raising the refugee cap to we are raising the refugee cap by May 15. What changed in those three and a half hours?” read more

House Will Vote Today On Two Immigration Bills Amid Concerns About Border Crisis

The House of Representatives will vote today on two immigration bills amid concerns about the humanitarian crisis at the nation’s southern border.

 The American Dream and Promise Act would create a pathway to citizenship for millions for “Dreamers”––undocumented youths brought to the United States as children––as well as others who’ve been granted temporary protection from deportation. 

“For far too long, Dreamers and others have waited in limbo and lived with the fear of being deported from the only country they know as home,” one of the bill’s sponsors, Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “Dreamers were brought to this country as children. read more

Tucker Carlson: Immigrants Are Turning the US Into an Ugly, Unhappy Country

Tucker Carlson Masks

Things were not so good for Fox News close to the last election. After 20 years of ratings dominance, Fox began to fall behind MSNBC and CNN. Even worse, Conservative challengers like OAN and Newsmax were coming out of the woodwork.

In response, the network decided to double down on conspiracy theories and racism. No one has embodied that reaction more than prime-time host Tucker Carlson.

Carlson has spent the last two months either downplaying the effectiveness of COVID vaccines or spewing racist drivel. He was at his most bigoted on Wednesday night.

The host asked viewers, “Over the past 30 years, the population of the United States has exploded by nearly 100 million people, mostly due to immigration. Were you even aware that that happened?”

Carlson continued:

“You’re not supposed to say a word about it, as every year the United States gets steadily more jammed with people, and at the same time, more chaotic and less cohesive, as the open spaces shrink, as nature itself recedes in the face of yet another strip mall or apartment complex or fast food outlet to serve the new people. This is becoming a crowded country, and crowded countries are ugly, unhappy countries. Why are we letting that happen? Well, that’s a rhetorical question, of course. No one asked us what we wanted, they just did it.” read more

Trump’s Cabinet Voted to Separate Migrant Children from Their Parents

Trump, Miller, Bannon

Donald Trump’s cabinet voted to separate migrant children from there parents in 2018, a new report claims. The vote was pushed by senior advisor Stephen Miller.

According to a new NBC News report, Miller was frustrated in May 2018 that children crossing into the U.S. illegally were not already being separated from their parents despite a so-called “zero tolerance” approach.

“President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Stephen Millerled the meeting, and, according to the two officials, he was angry at what he saw as defiance by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen,” NBC News says.

“It had been nearly a month since Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general, had launched the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy, announcing that every immigrant who crossed the U.S. border illegally would be prosecuted, including parents with small children.”

If we don’t enforce this, it is the end of our country as we know it,” Miller reportedly told the cabinet.

One White House official said that any moral objections to separating children from their families “fell on deaf ears.”

Miller called for a vote and by a show of hands, a majority of the cabinet agreed to the child separation policy. This policy would go on to be widely condemned as cruel and inhumane.

Miller also hit headlines after a tranche of emails written by him was released, documenting his racist sentiments and extreme position on immigration.

Follow Darragh Roche on Twitter read more

MSNBC’s Howard Fineman: Trump Ignoring SCOTUS on DACA Shows “Open Defiance Has Only Just Begun”

Journalist and MSNBC contributor Howard Fineman says President Donald Trump’s open defiance has only just begun” amid reports that the Trump administration will continue to reject initial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications from immigrants who never obtained the protection from deportation.

The news comes after U.S. District Court Judge Paul Grimm admonished the administration for not complying with the Supreme Court’s decision last month invalidating its attempts to discontinue DACA altogether.

“That is a problem,” Judge Grimm said last week. “As for the inaccuracy on the website, that has to change and that should be able to change very quickly. … It creates a feeling and a belief that the agency is disregarding binding decisions by appellate and the Supreme Court.”

He added: “There is a cost for not having these things clarified and the plaintiffs have borne the lion’s share of that cost thus far.”

Yesterday, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the Trump administration would not accept new applications and would only grant one-year extensions to current beneficiaries “on a case by case basis,” a move that flouts Grimm’s ruling.

In a memo, Wolf announced DHS would:

  • Reject all initial DACA requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents, and refund all associated fees, without prejudice to re-filing such requests should DHS determine to begin accepting initial requests again in the future.
  • Adjudicate all pending and future properly submitted DACA renewal requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents from current beneficiaries.
  • Limit the period of any deferred action granted pursuant to the DACA policy after the issuance of this memorandum (and thereby limit the period of any associated work authorization) to one year.
  • Refrain from terminating any grants of previously issued deferred action or revoking any Employment Authorization Documents based solely on the directives in this memorandum for the remaining duration of their validity periods.
  • Reject all pending and future Form I-131 applications for advance parole from beneficiaries of the DACA policy and refund all associated fees, absent exceptional circumstances.
  • Refrain from terminating any grants of previously approved advance parole based solely on the directives in this memorandum for the remaining duration of their validity periods.
  • Exercise its discretionary authority to terminate or deny deferred action at any time when immigration officials determine termination or denial of deferred action is appropriate.
  • Continue to comply with the information-sharing policy as reflected in the DACA Frequently Asked Questions issued alongside the Napolitano Memorandum (which established DACA in 2012), and as set forth in USCIS’s Form I-821D instructions. Nothing in this memorandum makes any change to that policy.
  • read more

    Four GOP Senators Push for Trump to Suspend Visas “During Recovery from the Coronavirus Pandemic”

    Senators  Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) wrote a letter to President Donald Trump suggesting he suspend visas for guest workers “during recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.”

    The news was first reported by Politico. The lawmakers suggest Trump suspend guest worker visas for 60 days and prevent some workers from returning to the U.S. for up to a year. Exceptions would apply only to companies that can prove they can’t hire U.S. citizens to fill their open positions.

    “After sixty days, we urge you to continue to suspend new nonimmigrant guest workers for one year or until our national unemployment figures return to normal levels, whichever comes first,” the senators recommend. “That suspension should, at minimum, include H-2B visas (nonagricultural seasonal workers), H-1B visas (specialty occupation workers),  and the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program (extension of foreign student visas after graduation). We also urge you to suspend the E-B5 immigrant visa program, effective immediately.”

    You can read the complete letter HERE.

    The Department of Labor reported that an additional 3.2 million Americans filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, after factoring in seasonal adjustments, which are used to account for seasonal hiring fluctuations. Without those adjustments, the number is 2.8 million.

    The total number of unemployed Americans now stands at more than 33 million. The weekly numbers have declined since reaching a peak of 6.9 million claims in late March.

    The president has acknowledged the reopening the nation’s economy would result in more illness and death from the pandemic, but has continued to advocate for it anyway.

    “Will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes,” Trump said earlier this week. “But we have to get our country open and we have to get it open soon.”

    Democrats Condemn Trump’s Immigration Ban as ‘Pathetic’ and ‘Xenophobia’

    Democrats have united to condemn the President’s ban on immigration. Donald Trump announced an apparent halt to all immigration into the U.S. on Twitter.

    Trump said he would sign an executive order ending immigration due to Coronavirus. There is no indication when this order might come into effect, but Congressional Democrats were quick to condemn it.

    “This action is not only an attempt to divert attention away from Trump’s failure to stop the spread of the coronavirus and save lives, but an authoritarian-like move to take advantage of a crisis and advance his anti-immigrant agenda.”

    “We must come together to reject his division,” Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro said.

    This action is not only an attempt to divert attention away from Trump’s failure to stop the spread of the coronavirus and save lives, but an authoritarian-like move to take advantage of a crisis and advance his anti-immigrant agenda. We must come together to reject his division. https://t.co/wYEai4rYVY read more

    Trump Slammed for Claiming Coronavirus Pandemic “Is Why We Need Borders”

    President Donald Trump suggested that the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed nearly 600 lives in the United States, justifies his immigration policies, and “IS WHY WE NEED BORDERS.”

    But as many critics pointed out, viruses know no borders.

    Human compassion is the only proven strategy against this global problem. If we have learned something from this crisis, it's that borders are useless: walls don't stop viruses. read more

    As Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” Plan Hits A Legal Snag, His Administration Turns to SCOTUS

    The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is preventing President Donald Trump’s administration from enforcing its Migrant Protection Protocols, otherwise known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, for asylum-seekers to stay in the country. Restrictions remain in place until March 11 for review by the Supreme Court. The ruling only applies to Arizona and California, the states under the court’s authority, and not New Mexico and Texas.

    The ruling affirms the court’s ruling last week that the policy violates both United States and international law. The policy, which went into effect in January 2019, requires asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while they wait for their immigration hearings. The Trump administration considers the policy a great success, saying it has curbed the “uncontrolled flows” of migrants at the southern border, but advocacy groups have found that thousands of migrants required to wait have been kidnapped, raped, or tortured.

    The appeals court’s decision will take effect on March 12 if the Supreme Court opts not to hear the case. Attorneys with the Justice Department argue that stopping the program would create “massive and irreparable national security and public safety concerns” because U.S. Customs and Border Protection lacks enough detention space to house thousands of new migrants who, they contend, would create a “rush on the southern border.”

    Lawyers challenging the policy say the Supreme Court should deny the government’s request for a stay because the 9th Circuit’s original decision did not require the government to allow asylum-seekers affected by the policy to immediately re-enter the United States. They point out in court filings that the decision requires the government pursue an “orderly unwinding” of the policy.

    The Supreme Court has sided with the Trump administration on immigration issues before. In January, the court allowed the government to temporarily continue enforcing a policy barring migrants from applying for asylum unless they’d already been denied asylum in another country while in transit to the United States.

    Opinion: Two Rulings Give a Glimmer Of Hope To Trump’s Favorite Targets

    With Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate looming, even his go-to of sticking it to immigrants when he’s having a bad day proves elusive.

    Next to trying to benefit his personal fortune and bullying foreign governments into helping him win election, Trump’s biggest obsession is with finding as many ways as possible to abuse immigrants who are also people of color.

    During the past three years you just knew that if something went wrong for Donald Trump, he’d take it out on immigrants, be it in the form of rolling out another barbaric policy designed by Stephen Miller or by smearing immigrants with lies as bad as or worse than the ones he tells about Democrats.

    Fortunately, Trump’s second biggest obsession was dealt more blows in the courts.

    A recent ruling took effect last week and it has the potential to be transformative. Immigration Court took the step of granting immigrants due process. It means the government can no longer hold immigrants in custody for indefinite periods of time. Also, it could open up other rights and protections for immigrants, whether they are in court or in custody.

    The Massachusetts chapter of the ACLU, representing immigrants in the class action case, described the ruling by a Boston court.

    The ruling holds that class members in New England are entitled to bond hearings at which the government bears the burden of justifying an immigrant’s detention, and at which the immigration court must consider someone’s ability to pay when setting a bond amount.

    Even though Trump’s administration wishes to forget the fact that immigrants are human beings, the courts continue to remember they are – as reflected in the due process ruling and in another ruling  that struck down Trump’s Executive Order that empowers states to decide if they wish to “allow” refugees to live in their state.

    The ruling, in no uncertain terms, reminds the Trump administration of our obligations under the 1967 Refugee Protocol, which is codified in our Refugee Act of 1980.

    These are, without question, positive developments. I’m thankful to the courts for ruling within the law and the lawyers who do the work of representing people who truly are forgotten when politics, economics or life in general get challenging. I’m not talking about the poor babies who whine about being forgotten when any government resource goes to someone else, or when policy benefits someone else. I’m talking about people who continue to live in subhuman conditions – every day. I’m talking about children who are traumatized, who get sick because of these subhuman conditions and who too often die while in our custody.

    Even with the positive news of the aforementioned rulings and proof positive that 99% of asylum seekers attend their court hearings – thus debunking yet another of Trump’s anti-immigrant lies – life for immigrants remains harsh and sometimes in actual jeopardy.

    Asylum seekers who make it to America are sent to Mexico, allegedly to await their proceedings. If that was the real reason, the Trump administration would not deport people who won their cases.

    And the fact that this is happening tells us that this never was about upholding the law or about, as Trump expresses histrionically, about having borders. Coupled with the horrendous conditions at detention facilities, it becomes undeniably clear that cruelty is the point. It is more than just a hashtag on Twitter.

    A recent article ties illnesses directly to the food  immigrants are fed while in custody.

    “Doctors treating migrants after their release from Border Patrol custody say that a disproportionate number of their patients feel ill after eating the food the federal agency gives them — namely, a certain packaged burrito.” read more

    Opinion: Impeachment Is The Christmas Present Trump Deserves

    Days after Speaker Pelosi led the House to impeach Donald Trump, the president and Republican leaders continue to feel the same sting a child feels when punished.

    The fact that impeachment happened before Congress and the President went to their holiday destinations means Donald Trump got the Christmas present he deserved. For once, the return reflected the quality of his decisions and deeds.

    To hear Republicans tell it, Trump was Jesus and everyone who ever faced persecution throughout the history of humanity and the only reason is because Democrats hate him. That is the greatest big lie of all the big lies surrounding the one means by which Donald Trump came anywhere near the concept of personal responsibility.

    We can look back to the days of renting policies so racist that the Nixon administration sued. The administration sued him because of what he did, not because of who he was or how it felt about him personally.

    No doubt, Trump earned contempt when he took out a full page ad in the New York Times calling for the death penalty to be imposed on the innocent Central Park Five. However, though this ad told us what a disgusting person Trump is, it did not mean that he committed a crime. It’s why one may hold contempt for the man, but the law doesn’t allow for punishing people because of who they are.

    These are the four corners of the rule of law. The law applies equally to everyone no matter who they are. It’s applied the same way and under the same standards. You cannot punish someone for who they are. You can punish someone for what they do when that action violates the law.

    By impeaching Donald Trump, the House of Representatives gave him the Christmas present he earned. It’s actually a present he earned many times over and continues to earn every time he helps a dictator cover up an American journalist’s murder, or when he shakes down an ally to satisfy personal wants, be it getting dirt on a political opponent or satisfying his ego’s endless craving for infinite praise.

    He sold the country out to the dictator of Russia because Putin flattered him and helped him win in 2016. And ever since Trump and Russia have been sympatico to each other in ways unheard of among most Americans and this country’s traditional allies.

    As Russia expert Julia Davis  wrote in an article for the Daily Beast,

    “Vladimir Soloviev praised Trump’s letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calling the U.S. president a “highly educated” writer of “multiple bestsellers,” who wrote the letter “for future generations.” Soloviev surmised that when it comes to the upcoming presidential race of 2020, “Trump is defeating all potential candidates.” read more

    Opinion: Trump’s Domestic and Foreign Policy Reveal his Genocidal Mind

    The national security threats the behavior of President Donald Trump and his administration have posed to the United States have justifiably been the focus and concern of those members of congress leading the impeachment inquiry. After all, the Mueller report compellingly concluded that the Russian Government

    “interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion” and discovered numerous points of contacts between Russia and the Trump associates leading up to, and even after, the 2016 Presidential election.  Trump’s recently discovered shenanigans in soliciting the Ukraine government to dig up dirt on his opponent Joe Biden and effectively interfere in the 2020 election. read more

    Rights group condemns U.S. ‘vigilante’ treatment of migrants on border

    (Reuters) – The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico on Thursday called for state authorities to investigate a small group of armed U.S. citizens who they alleged are illegally detaining migrants entering the United States.

    The United Constitutional Patriots, who claim to be mainly military veterans, have been patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border near Sunland Park, New Mexico, since late February in search of illegal border crossers.

    They post near daily videos showing members dressed in camouflage and armed with semi-automatic rifles holding groups of migrants, many of them Central American families seeking asylum, until U.S. Border Patrol agents arrive to arrest them.

    The small volunteer group says it is helping Border Patrol deal with a surge in undocumented migrants but civil rights organizations like the ACLU say it is a “fascist militia organization” operating outside the law.

    “We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,” the ACLU said in a letter to New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Attorney General Hector Balderas.

    “We urge you to immediately investigate this atrocious and unlawful conduct.”

    The offices of Lujan Grisham and Balderas did not respond to requests for comment.

    On a March 27 visit to El Paso, Texas, next to Sunland Park, then U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said his agency, which runs U.S. Border Patrol, did not need the help of citizens to police the border.

    “We are not asking for civil society groups to provide border security assistance,” said McAleenan, who was recently appointed acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

    U.S. CBP did not respond to a request for further comment. UCP member John Horton did not immediately return calls. Horton has previously told media that UCP members are armed for self defense, as is their right under U.S. law, and aware they cannot detain people entering the United States illegally.

    U.S. armed groups have long patrolled the U.S. border, their numbers rising during upticks in migrant apprehensions, such as during the mid 2000s when the Minuteman Project was established.

    The UCP says it is responding to a rise in migrant arrests to their highest monthly levels in more than a decade.

    The ACLU said the group was a product of the Trump administration’s “vile racism” that “has emboldened white nationalists and fascists to flagrantly violate the law.”

    (This story adds dropped words in paragraph 8)

    (Reporting By Andrew Hay in Taos New Mexico; Editing by Robert Birsel)

    ‘It’s a Mess’ — GOP Senators Panic Over Trump’s DHS Purge

    Donald Trump has spent the last few days engaged in one of his favorite activities: firing people. And the net result is that he has decimated the Department of Homeland Security.

    The president seems to be in a controlled rage, having now let go DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) director Lee Cissna, Undersecretary for Management Claire Grady, and General Counsel John Mitnick. And on top of that he also got rid of the highly respected Secret Service director, Randolph “Tex” Alles.

    According to a new report in POLITICO, the people most surprised — and upset — by Trump’s DHS purge are top GOP senators.

    “It’s a mess,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), who is up for re-election next year. “Honestly, it wasn’t Secretary Nielsen’s fault. It wasn’t for lack of effort on her part. I don’t know if there’s anybody who’s going to be able to do more.”

    Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was especially shocked by the firing of Cissna, especially after learning that Trump also plans to fire USCIS strategist Kathy Nuebel Kovarik. “I heard that they are on the list to be fired. They are doing in an intellectual-like way what the president wants to accomplish. So no, they should not go,” said Grassley.

    Trump’s congressional allies are now panicking and practically begging him not to fire more top officials at DHS or other agencies. They are telling him that it will be very hard to solve the immigration crisis and the border crisis without good people in charge of the process of making and enforcing immigration policies.

    Trump Adviser Stephen Miler Is Behind the Purge read more

    Opinion: Trump Immigration Policy Is a Reality Horror Show

    In Donald Trump’s world, immigrants provide two essential services:  as free or nearly free labor and as a political piñata.

    Of the long list of people and groups of people Trump hates, immigrants have had the most exposure to Trump’s authoritarian aspirations.

    By his own admission, Trump’s immigration “policy” is about deterring asylum-seekers in particular because in Trump’s world, asylum is just a con-job. But the horrors are not limited to asylum seekers, as we see due process under attack in immigration courts. This should matter to every American, because once due process is weakened for one group of people, the precedent is there to weaken them for everyone else.

    I can only say thank God that when my mother was a refugee in World War II she was greeted by a more compassionate government in a more humane country than the one Trump is trying to create.  Still, when I look at Trump’s horrific and dehumanizing immigration policies, it feels personal.

    Just this past week, we learned about the result of Trump’s efforts to criminalize asylum. Migrants being “warehoused” in a garage  and under a bridge  because the influx is well beyond the ability to provide acceptable shelter.

    The images of children behind barbed wire, in cages, and in prison speak more to the barbarity of Trump’s immigration policy than words can adequately describe.

    Despite that and Trump’s hate inciting rhetoric about anyone who isn’t white, who wasn’t born here, or both, people from Central America would prefer everything he can dish out over what they left.  Trump’s policies designed to terrorize and deter are an abject failure, as more people are crossing the southern border than for quite some time.

    And newsflash, Mr. President:  even if you could close the border this week  — which you can’t — and even if you could get someone to throw money away on your vanity wall, neither of these will stop people from seeking asylum.  Moreover, threatening to cut aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador will only make the problem you created worse.

    You’ll never know the horrors these people experienced at the hands of their own government and to some degree as a result of U.S. policy.  Thankfully neither do I.

    In the case of parents, it’s selflessness – a concept you’ll never understand – that drives them to endure that long journey and every cheap, inhumane jab you can dish out.  Parents do this in an attempt to take their children to safety from something far more traumatic than transferring from one private school to another in the middle of the school year.  As someone who dishonestly blames parents for the neglect by his own agencies that resulted in deaths, you wouldn’t know courage if it served you a big Mac.

    The story of one of Donald Trump’s employees  being deported to Romania shows that regardless of legal status, immigrants’ legal rights are under constant assault.  He is being deported because decades ago he was convicted of a crime in absentia.

    It’s a sad statement not only because of how Trump can so easily dispense with loyal employees, but also because America used to frown on the violation of a most basic right known in every democratic country: the right to be tried in person and to put on a defense.

    It’s a long standing principle under our law, as reflected in an 1884 ruling by the Supreme Court and reiterated by an Arizona court in 2004.

    In Hopt v. Utah  the Supreme Court said,

    “The legislature has deemed it essential to the protection of one whose life or liberty is involved in a prosecution for felony, that he shall be personally present at the trial, that is, at every stage of the trial when his substantial rights may be affected by the proceedings against him. If he be deprived of his life or liberty without being so present, such deprivation would be without that due process of law required by the Constitution.”

    In the 2004 ruling in State v. Whitley,  the Arizona Court of appeals held:

    “A voluntary waiver of the right to be present requires true freedom of choice. A trial court may infer that a defendant’s absence from trial is voluntary and constitutes a waiver if a defendant had personal knowledge of the time of the proceeding, the right to be present, and had received a warning that the proceeding would take place in their absence if they failed to appear.” (My bold italics)

    Things were bad enough before Trump, with a broken immigration system and the elimination of legal rights for immigrants in general. Other rights like the right to counsel  and children having an adult represent their rights did not apply before Trump took a sledge hammer to immigration policy. Before Trump,

    children were left to defend themselves read more

    U.S. immigration arrests fall under Trump as resources shift to the border

    By Mica Rosenberg

    (Reuters) – U.S. immigration arrests fell under President Donald Trump at the end of 2018 compared to the same period a year earlier, a drop authorities attributed to a growing need to deal with “alarming rates” of migrant families at the border.

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said on Thursday that enforcement resources were stretched thin in the interior of the country as agents deal with an overflow of Central Americans seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

    Immigration authorities said the agency arrested 34,546 people living in the country illegally in October through December of last year – the first quarter of the 2019 fiscal year. That was a 12 percent drop from the 39,328 people arrested during the same period a year earlier.

    “Our interior arrests have been affected because I have had to redirect” resources to address the “alarming rate” of arrivals at the border, said Nathalie Asher, executive associate director of ICE’s enforcement and removal operations, on a conference call with reporters.

    Deportations rose slightly at the end of 2018 compared to the same period the previous year, but remained well below highs during the first term of President Barack Obama. Removals during the Trump administration so far have been around the same as levels seen during Obama’s second term, statistics complied by Reuters show.

    (For a graphic of immigration data over time, see https://tmsnrt.rs/2Ohsa8s)

    Asher said the agency had to shift priorities to the border, in part because families come with minor children who can only be detained for limited periods.

    ICE has been processing and releasing families en masse in U.S. border towns for them to pursue claims for asylum in U.S. immigration courts.

    Those cases can drag on for years due to growing court backlogs, and while the proceedings are ongoing the migrants are shielded from deportation.

    In an attempt to try to curb the migrant flow, the Trump administration has implemented a controversial policy of sending some asylum seekers back to Mexico to wait out their court hearings, with more than 200 have been send back so far. Rights groups are challenging the policy in U.S. District Court in San Francisco and a hearing was due to be held there on Friday.

    Trump won the presidency on a platform of ramping up immigration enforcement and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and has fought Congress to declare a national emergency to get the funding for his signature campaign promise.

    But historical data shows the Trump administration so far has been arresting and deporting fewer people than Obama’s first years in office. Facing criticism, the Obama administration later shifted policy to prioritize enforcement against people with serious criminal backgrounds, as opposed to others seen as posing little security risk like parents of U.S. citizen children.

    In the 2018 fiscal year, ICE arrested 158,581 people, including convicted criminals and people with civil immigration violations or pending criminal charges. That is about 40 percent less than overall arrests in 2010. Deportations were also higher during Obama’s first term.

    (Reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Tom Brown)

    Trump May Close the Border With Mexico to Fire Up His Base

    The New York Times reported Thursday that President Donald Trump is considering closing the United States’ southern border with Mexico.

    According to the Times:

    “The effort would be the starkest indication yet of Mr. Trump’s election-season push to play to his anti-immigrant base as his party fights to keep control of Congress.”

    The proposal amounts to a sweeping use of presidential power to fortify the border and impose the kind of aggressive immigration restrictions and enforcement measures that Mr. Trump has made his signature pursuit.”

    “The plan is expected to prompt a swift challenge in federal courts.”

    If the president does seal off the southern border it would be the culmination of a series of steps that he has taken or threatened to take to deal with illegal immigration.

    In the past few days he has announced his intentions to stop the Central American “caravan” and to send as many as 1,000 active-duty Army troops to help secure the southern border.

    He seems desperate to stop what he has called an “onslaught” of illegal immigration with less than two weeks until the midterm elections.

    He has posted many tweets and made numerous public statements expressing concern about the thousands of Central American migrants traveling north through Mexico. They have stated that their goal is to reach the U.S. border. Many in the group are women and children seeking refuge from violence and economic hardship.

    Trump, however, said (with no evidence) that criminals and “unknown Middle Easterners” were “mixed in” among the people in the migrant caravan. He has also blamed the existence of the caravan on Democrats, saying (again, with no evidence) that they support unlimited illegal immigration into the country.

    Earlier on Thursday Trump addressed one of his tweets to the caravan of asylum seekers. He tweeted:

    “To those in the Caravan, turnaround, we are not letting people into the United States illegally. Go back to your Country and if you want, apply for citizenship like millions of others are doing!”

    After Trump’s tweet Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times writer Maggie Haberman said she believes that Trump’s threat to seal the border will be a major campaign theme leading up to the midterms. She tweeted:

    “Trump’s tweet this morning wasn’t a one-off – he is looking at closing the border entirely as a pre-election effort to stoke his base. Not clear that this would ever actually happen, only that White House will likely drive it till Nov. 6”

    Trump's tweet this morning wasn't a one-off – he is looking at closing the border entirely as a pre-election effort to stoke his base. Not clear that this would ever actually happen, only that White House will likely drive it till Nov. 6 https://t.co/vk6ASBxKFZ read more

    Ingraham Whines: ‘The America We Loved Doesn’t Exist Anymore’

    Fox News host Laura Ingraham clearly proved herself to be a racist on Wednesday when she lamented that immigration has resulted in demographic changes she doesn’t like.  She said that “the America we know and love doesn’t exist anymore.”

    “WATCH: Laura Ingraham: America we love doesn’t exist anymore due to “demographic changes” and immigration”

    What Ingraham was really saying is that both illegal and legal immigration have resulted in an American population that is less white and more diverse. To her, this is a tragedy because having people of color in the United States is a bad thing.

    Ingraham’s comments were widely lambasted on social media. Democratic Representative Ted Lieu of California tweeted that as someone who served in the U.S. military, he defended people like her who make racist comments. He also pointed out that even though he is of Asian descent he is just as much an American as she is:

    “Dear Laura Ingraham: I served on active duty to defend your right to make racist statements. America is not a race or demographic. It’s a beautiful & bold idea, based on life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. You @IngrahamAngle are no more American than I am or others are.”

    Dear Laura Ingraham: I served on active duty to defend your right to make racist statements.

    America is not a race or demographic. It's a beautiful & bold idea, based on life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. You @IngrahamAngle are no more American than I am or others are. https://t.co/Op7rnjak5o read more

    Sessions Says Refugees and Asylum Seekers Will No Longer Be Allowed To Work

    U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is continuing his war on refugees and asylum seekers.  On Tuesday he officially rescinded Department of Justice (DOJ) guidance from 2011 which said that refugees and asylum seekers coming to the United States have the right to work while in this country.

    The 2011 guidance was in the form of a document issued by the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices.  It said that the refugees and asylum seekers are “authorized to work indefinitely” and that they may receive Social Security cards “without employment restrictions.”

    The Social Security numbers then could be used by employers to withhold appropriate income and payroll taxes so the workers would pay into Social Security and Medicare, even though as non-citizens they would not receive these benefits.

    A Justice Department spokesperson said that a 2014 document, which set forth similar guidelines allowing refugees and asylum seekers being to work indefinitely, was also rescinded by Sessions.

    The guidance, which was strongly supported by advocates for asylum seekers, stated that employers cannot require, as a condition of employment, that employees show them Department of Homeland Security (DHS) documents if they have a valid Social Security card along with a state-issued photo I.D. card or drivers license.

    Under the rescinded order, employers were also prohibited from refusing to hire refugees or asylum seekers if they didn’t have a Social Security number.

    The DOJ also distributed a news release on Tuesday which said that it was rescinding 24 related guidance documents that were deemed to be “unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper.”

    DOJ on Tuesday also rescinded a 2009 fair employment practices document which set forth guidance for employers in hiring. This document told employers  to “avoid ‘citizens only’ hiring policies or requirements that applicants have a particular immigration status,” unless doing so was required by law. The document also told employers that they should check if individuals are eligible to work only after they had made the decision to hire them.

    In the DOJ press release Attorney General Sessions wrote that:

    “Americans deserve to have their voices heard and a government that is accountable to them. When issuing regulations, federal agencies must abide by constitutional principles and follow the rules set forth by Congress and the President. In previous administrations, however, agencies often tried to impose new rules on the American people without any public notice or comment period, simply by sending a letter or posting a guidance document on a website. That’s wrong, and it’s not good government.”

    The hard-line move against asylum seekers has been issued at a time when the Trump administration is implementing a broader crack down on immigration. Administration officials have come under fire for their draconian zero tolerance policy for immigrants crossing the border, whereby all adults are arrested and charged with a crime, including those legally seeking asylum.

    Last month Sessions also announced that the Trump administration would stop granting asylum to those people coming to the U.S. claiming to be victims of gang violence and domestic abuse, arguing that the asylum system was being “abused to the detriment of the rule of law.”

    Most of these moves are intended to punish refugees and asylum seekers coming to the United States, as if doing so is a crime.  What Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions don’t understand is that

    the vast majority of American voters do not support read more

    Massive Legal Liability For U.S. As It Has No Plan To Reunite Children

    The United States government may be facing massive numbers of lawsuits over the new policy of separating children from parents who are arrested by U.S. Border Patrol. This is because not only may the act of separation give rise to legal liability, but there may be additional liability if the parents are not reunited with their children on a timely basis.

    On Monday Buzzfeed reported that once arrested adult migrants have completed their sentences for illegal entry, the U.S. government has no way to ensure that they are reunited with their children.

    According to Buzzfeed:

    “Two months after the Trump administration began separating children from their parents along the US-Mexico border, immigration authorities cannot say what procedures exist to reunite children with their parents after the parents’ illegal-entry cases have been resolved but their immigration case is still pending.” read more

    2,000 Children Taken From Parents Under Trump Zero Tolerance Policy

    During the first six weeks of the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy nearly 2,000 children were separated from their parents at the U.S. border with Mexico.

    A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  said on Friday that the separations took place from April 19 to May 31 of this year.

    The zero tolerance policy was announced by the Department of Justice in April.  It requires that children be separated from their parents or legal guardians when the adults have been referred to the DHS to be prosecuted for entering the United States illegally.

    Various news reports have been critical of the policy and especially the way that the separations were done.  A CNN story said that babies were taken from mothers while they were breast feeding their infants.

    During Friday’s briefing with the news media the DHS officials complained that news reports were  exaggerated and inaccurate. 

    “We do not separate breastfeeding children from their parents. That does not exist, that’s not a policy, that’s not something that DHS does,” a DHS official said during the briefing.  DHS officials then said that they had “no choice” but to separate parents and children at the border because the law required it.

    The Trump Administration has consistently told the public that they are legally required to separate children from parents but this is false.  It is not a law but a Trump policy being implemented and enforced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  Previous presidential administrations have found ways to keep families together without taking away children form their parents.  It is possible that children stay with parents who have been detained for immigration violations even while they work their way through immigration courts.

    Until now, separating parents from children was rare.  It was used in the past only for cases where the safety of a child was threatened.  The new policy has been heavily criticized by almost everyone Democrats, Republicans, Christian groups and medical doctors, who said that when children are taken away from 

    their parents they are likely to suffer permanent damage read more

    Sessions Turns Previously Independent DOJ Into White House Surrogate

    Several events, ranging from the House passage of several anti-immigration laws and Jeff Sessions’ partnership with Kris Kobach to suppressing the vote nationwide, mean the Sessions DOJ is just a White House Surrogate.

    Earlier on Thursday, the House passed several bills to coincide with Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.

    One of the laws seeks to punish “sanctuary cities” based on the lie that Sanctuary Cities refuse to surrender violent criminals to ICE.

    Actually, the sanctuary cities do turn violent criminals over to ICE, but you won’t hear that on Fox or at a Donald trump rally. It’s true that sanctuary cities are safe havens for the undocumented workers that our agriculture, construction and hospitality industries rely on.

    There are a few more unavoidable truths, especially if as claimed the objective is to reduce crime. By turning local law enforcement into a sort of vichy arm of ICE, it means the very people law enforcement relies on to report crimes, and find perpetrators of those crimes will not come forward. Fear doesn’t result in cooperation in the same way a strong wind doesn’t persuade someone to take off their coat.

    In an op-ed published by Fox News, Sessions states the facts surrounding the horrific murder of Kate Steinle. He goes on to identify the murderer, as an “illegal alien”. The purpose of Kate’s law is to criminalize undocumented immigrants. Until now, entering the United States without documentation was considered a violation of civil law. Frankly, no one disputes the idea of kicking out immigrants, documented or not, who commit violent crimes.

    No doubt, proponents of this law will point to Kate Steinle’s killer as to why entering the country illegally should be a criminal act. To begin with that stigmatizes immigrants as a whole since it isn’t like one’s legal status is stamped on their forehead. The fact remains that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native born Americans. That’s a fact that gets buried in support of using people like Kate Steinle’s killer as “the exemplar” of immigrants.

    The other reality that Republicans won’t admit during their anti-immigrant rants is the dependence that agriculture, construction and the hospitality industries have on undocumented immigrants. Roughly 50% of labor in Agriculture, the people who pick our fruit and vegetables are undocumented. In fact, farmers are already seeing the impact of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies on their labor supply. The fact is Americans are either unavailable or unwilling to do these jobs and the Trump administration’s policies that include criminalizing undocumented workers will hurt these industries.

    With all their paranoia, Republicans will block their ears to any and all information that doesn’t correspond with their narrative. Just as they were warned with healthcare, they’ll discover the consequences of their decisions when they are in deep.

    The bigger danger is Sessions’ willingness to turn the DOJ into a White House surrogate. True that the DOJ is part of the executive, but it also functioned independently. That’s an important feature of the rule of law because someone has to have the ability to tell the President (any president but especially this one) when he is overstepping his powers or a law he wants to pass is unconstitutional.

    Jeff Sessions Makes An Unbelievable Promise to Protect Civil Rights For All Communities

    On Thursday, Attorney-General Jeff Sessions told Federal Prosecutors he is committed to prosecuting hate crimes. Why don’t I believe him?

    During Sessions’ speech he pledged “to protect the civil rights of all Americans — and we will not tolerate the targeting of any community in our country” I feel so much better about the rise in hate crimes since the election. No, I don’t. It’s because the evidence contradicts his words. The context is in reference to a successful prosecution of a hate crime in Mississippi where a transgender woman was murdered.

    And according to Josh Gerstein, Sessions “reached out to make sure the Justice Department is making every effort to assist in the investigations into a string of transgender killings in recent months.”

    Certainly one can acknowledge the importance and value of recognizing that crimes against transgender people because they are transgender qualify as hate crimes and should be prosecuted as such.

    Yet, I can’t bring myself to take Sessions at his word, perhaps in part because of the Republican obsession with bathroom policy and conversion therapy. But it doesn’t end there.

    Seriously, when an Attorney-General says they will protect the civil rights of all Americans, one should be able to take them at their word. Yet, that’s a tall order when it comes to Jeff Sessions – the man who was cool with the KKK until he found out members smoked pot.

    This is the same Jeff Sessions whose bid for a seat on the Federal bench failed largely, if not exclusively, because he not only tolerated the targeting of some communities, he led the targeting.

    In 1986, Coretta Scott King wrote a letter explaining why she believed Sessions lacked the temperament, judgement and fairness to be a judge. The man she talked about targeted certain communities for doing nothing more than registering to vote.

    Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.

    As Buzzfeed reported at the time, Scott-King’s letter wasn’t entered into the record by Strom Thurmond, the committee chair at the time.

    Since becoming Attorney-General, Sessions’ actions directly contradict a statement that few would quarrel with. “No person should have to fear being violently attacked because of who they are, what they believe, or how they worship.”

    Yet, Sessions joins Trump in an effort to erase the very existence of the Obama Administration. One of his first acts was to issue a memo vowing to review everything – including consent decrees.

    In a powerfully written article he wrote in April,

    Jamelle Bouie read more

    Trump Administration Throws Grandparents Under the Bona Fide Relationship Bus

    One phrase in the Supreme Court’s decision allowing Trump to implement a part of his Muslim ban is the key to determining which Muslims are allowed to visit the United States and which are not. Following Monday’s ruling, there was some anticipation that the phrase “bona fide relationship with a person or entity” in the United States would be the subject of litigation.

    Since the ruling, Trump’s underlings have been busy decide which family members qualify under the court’s standard and which do not, lending merit to that possibility.

    If you’re an in-law, congratulations, the Trump administration says you have a bona fide relationship with a person in the United States. If you’re a grandparent, watch out for those bus wheels.

    According to a diplomatic cable obtained by the New York Times, the Trump administration defines “close family” as “parent, parent-in-law, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sibling whether whole or half. This includes step relationships. Moreover, “close family” does not include: “grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-laws and sisters-in-law, fiancés and other “extended” family members.”

    This flies in the face of logic if the objective really is keeping terrorists and/or radicalized people likely to engage in terrorist acts out. It looks so random, a point noticed by Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigration project.

    Initial reports suggest that the government may try to unilaterally expand the scope of the ban — for example, by arbitrarily refusing to treat certain categories of familial relationships as ‘bona fide,’. These reports are deeply concerning. read more