Archive for the ‘Immigration’ category

The Last Word On The Wall

February 6, 2019

In a democracy there is a vote, and who ever receives more votes, carries the verdict.  In the case of the Trump monument “wall” (big and beautiful) the President apparently thinks his vote is all that is needed.  Fortunately, the “wall” the President says, will be the key difference in boarder security (with the Wall Americans are safe, without, big problems), also requires Congress’ vote to appropriate the funding before the President can build it.  The Democrat controlled House has said “no” (actually even stronger, “no way”).  So, is that the end of this idea?

In Trumpian “smash mouth” style, the President forced the closure of government by refusing to sign government funding legislation and held out for 37 days.  One must think that the President knows something that everyone else does not.  Why would President Trump close about one third of government functions and interrupt the lives of several hundred thousand government workers causing many to have to seek food through charity?  Any sensible President would immediately realize that the “cost” government workers would bear could not justify the unproven and unsupported benefits the President claimed would flow to Americans in general.  

Consider, the “caravan refugees” go to legal ports of entry, not isolated stretches of the border, in order to seek asylum, no wall needed for them.  Drug smugglers, for the most part (like 80%) use legal ports of entry too and simply hide drugs in otherwise normal trade in order to gain US entry.  And most migrant workers or anyone else just wanting to live in the US, enter legally (like with a tourist visa), go where they wish, and simply “over stay” their visa.  Hmmm.

The last word on the Wall, that President Trump would understand begins with “no” and ends with “make me a sweet offer”, like comprehensive immigration reform with paths to citizenship.  That in not going to happen, since the same people President Trump is attempting to please with his “wall” are even more against comprehensive immigration reform.  Hmmm.

Practically speaking, the “wall” is not going to happen at least until the 2020 election, and then only if the President wins and Republicans control Congress.  Not likely.

So maybe the last word is “no”.

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The Season For Being Thankful

November 26, 2018

Once Thanksgiving arrives and the New Year is in sight, most people begin thinking about what they are thankful for.  To be sure “New Year” does mean different dates to different faiths but the notion of self reflection and focusing on what goals lie ahead seems somewhat universal.  For 2018, as in 2017, Donald Trump remains the “elephant in the room”.

President Trump, IMO, history will record as having been the worst US President rivaling Buchanan, Grant, and Harding if not the worst ever.  So what is it about President Trump to be thankful about?

Here are three observations to think about.

1. In today’s New York Times “Sunday Review” section, Maureen Dowd writes a featured opinion piece capturing the schism in her otherwise very conservative family.  The schism was exposed when she wrote about George W Bush and most recently about Bret Kavanaugh.  In her piece one can feel the pain Maureen feels when she, as a journalist, calls out the short comings of various Republican targets.  

In this piece, Ms Dowd speaks of the “deal with the devil” (quotes are mine) her brother Kevin made with his 2016 vote for Trump.  She references his rationale for “over looking” some of Trump’s behaviors because of the “greater good” (my quotes) Kevin sees flowing from Trump (and would not have flowed from Hillary Clinton).  Kevin cites Gorsuch and Kavanaugh as two examples.

2. In the grocery store on Saturday, I was awaiting my turn to check out.  I noticed a man pacing nearby seemingly unsure which line to enter.  Since he had only two items, it seemed to me the “self check out” should be his choice.  Just as it became my turn to put my groceries on the belt, the man returned and stood there silently but looking as if I was expected to let him go before me.  Hmmm.  He had only two items so I said, “please you only have two items, please go ahead of me.”

The man nodded and put his items on the belt, and then said, “what do you think about those politicians?”  I had no idea what he was talking about and asked him to explain.  The man replied, “you know, not dealing with those caravan people marching up and trying to cross our border.”  Hmmm.  (This was two days after Thanksgiving and two minutes after he had been offered a kindness of getting into line out of order. 

“That’s a big problem”, he said.  I replied, “how can that be, there are already 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in the US.  The caravan is a drop in the bucket”.  The man went on with other irrelevant information like an immigrant who killed some family and that would not have happened if the immigrant was not here.  The man apparently did not hear me say that real data shows less crime from these new immigrants than long term US residents.  Hmmm.

We concluded our conversation just before his two items were rung up on the cash register with a reference to the likelihood that he was an immigrant or the son of one.  And, yes he was.  His parents were from Lithuania and they had had problems early in the assimilation process.  But now  was a different time.

3. Moving on, I received a Facebook post in which a “friend” shared someone else’s post that 12,500 central Americans were matching, not the 2,000 previously reported.  And these 12,500 were filled with some very bad hombres.

The “friend” was someone in her early 80’s, and who herself was a two time immigrant from the Ukraine!  This woman whose family had immigrated to Canada and then she immigrated to the US with her Ukrainian-Canadian husband.  Apparently it was ok for her, but not for those from south of the border.

Hmmm.

In a strange and bazaar way the election of President Trump is shining a bright light on hypocrisies we all have.  For Irish catholic Kavanaugh supporters, seeing their church teachings against abortion gain two anti-abortion Supreme Court votes was enough to look the other way on a President who routinely flaunts the Constitution, disparages women, and see no value in telling the truth, a good trade off they think.  

For the stranger in the check out line who just got an invitation to move up felt the appropriate “thank you” was to gratuitously disparage another generation of immigrants.  

And to my “friend” who also is a devote Trump supporter, passing on inflated information without any hint of a positive resolution colors the picture of fellow Americans who do not see the world as I do.

This year I am thankful that I am now seeing there may be a broken logic behind Trump supporters.  There is a rationale to be sure, but a fact based logic should not be expected.  It will take something very personal for these Trump supporters to recognize reality and find him unnecessary.  IMO, events demonstrating President Trump’s qualifications to be considered one of the worst US President, are about to arrive.  

Unfortunately, when these events arrive, those hurt most by them will be some of Trump’s most fervent supporters.  Hmmm.   

Trump’s DACA

September 6, 2017

A lot of people, (some estimates most Americans), have found President Trump’s decision to end DACA (Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals) using an executive order, unfathomable. Why would a President signal all Americans (as well as the world at large) that values and facts no longer count in determining American Government policies. Hmmm, like the Paris Climate Agreement or the Trans Pacific Partnership?

What could be the greater purpose for tuning against an estimated 800,000 DACA registered but illegal Mexicans?

Conservatives have long objected to Mexicans entering the country or over staying their lawful visa. Arguments have ranged from “we must have secure borders” to “these Mexicans are taking jobs from Americans”. Occasionally a conservative will give a nod to the potentially changed voting demographic should these undocumented Mexicans gain US citizenship.

For these hard right conservatives, the preferred positions are based upon fear. What else is new?

The President’s standard line that growing the economy will “make America great again” fails the smell test should a process actually begin to deport these DACA Americans. Mexicans are religious, hold strong family values, and work tirelessly to better themselves and their families. Can this be said of many American citizens?

President “Braveheart” tapped his Attorney General to make the public announcement and in his sniveling way, Jeff Sessions, tossed out one easily refuted excuse after another. The net effect showed that the Trump Administration neither cares about the facts or appreciates the strategic implications. Why would the President approve of ending DACA?

The most popular explanation says President Trump is just following his political base’s wishes. The more sophisticated of this base favor a sharply divided American electorate and see division as the best route to reelect President Trump in 2020.

A second reason shifts the responsibility away from executive orders to Congress where laws are suppose to originate. Money and special interests have thwarted previous attempt at comprehensive immigration reforms and earlier versions of aid for the “dreamers”. But why not ask Congress to act before ending DACA?

Most Trump critics see phasing out DACA and shifting responsibility to Congress as a cop out (shifting the blame). The likelihood of Congressional action is extremely low. Look at seven years of “repeal and replace” Obamacare and failure to do so when Republicans finally had control.

The Mexican Americans caught in the DACA category are here in the US through no fault of their own (parents brought them to the US as children).  DACA, for those current enrolled,  should not be ended based upon a fairness and justice argument.

US history would demand some sort of accommodation for these worthy residents. Just as important, immigrant labor, given the low American citizen population growth, is even more important than the past. Most economists favor this view and predict a slowing US economy if undocumented workers are purged.

The President’s actions are both cynical and sinister. Immediately these dreamers will suffer but in the fullness of time (lacking a change of Presidential heart or Congressional action), it will be the American citizens who pay the price.

Remember, Americans elected Donald Trump and we all own the consequences.

Head To Tail Thinking, Oops, And Wrong Again

August 3, 2017

President Trump joined Senators Cotton and Perdue at the White House in announcing his support for a change in US immigration law. The proposed legislation would sharply reduce the total number of immigrants allowed to enter each year and completely alter the mix of immigrants. The President boasted that this plan would dramatically improve US economic competitiveness and quickly put even more countries in the US rear view mirror. Hmmm.

The essence of the proposed legislation was to reduce the total number of immigrants, and to select immigrants based upon economic, educational, and sought after skills (a meritocratic policy). Current US immigration policy favors family and friends of current immigrants without regard to any special qualifications. So what’s wrong with this approach since most of the rest of modern wealthy countries use a system similar to what Senator Cotton and Perdue have suggested?

The President offered a clue when he said the lucky immigrants would have to already speak english. Of course there is nothing wrong with welcoming immigrants who speak english but farm laborers and hospitality workers (maids, janitorial, etc) most often speak Spanish or some Eastern European tongue.  The President was more interested in looking to bolster his white only, english only view of America.

That is not what is really wrong with this proposal. Rather, it is the total number of immigrants (guest workers) is set far below what the economy needs. While trying to bump up programmers and other technical employees is a good idea, shorting the manpower needed to harvest crops or process foods or keep hotels clean will not lead to a desired outcome.

The absence of any mention of “comprehensive immigration reform” confirms that the President is far from serious about immigration. But the President is serious about using whatever dog whistles he can find which communicate to his political base the same message, “I care about you and the other side doesn’t”.

Dog whistles are effective political tools. These euphemisms and half baked policy statements mislead the base and set the stage for a crashing disappointment when these policies come home to roost.

Give Me A Home (Sanctuary) Where The Buffalo Roam

March 29, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a White House press briefing that his department would crack down on those municipalities known as “Sanctuary Cities” by withholding Government grant money. Observers thought this familiar threat was made mainly to change the media subjects from the rejection of the Republicans healthcare bill and the controversy surrounding potential Russian collusion with Trump campaign staff members. Good try but probably too little to late.

The sanctuary city theme is both provocative and Constitutionally important. Both points seem to be missed with AG Sessions in favor of partisan political ground fire.

Sanctuary Cities are municipalities which have said they will not actively help Immigration Agents unless the agents have a warrant (so as to not violate the 4th Amendment). At first blush, this refusal of Federal Immigration officers request seems unjustified. But in most cases, Immigration Officers want local officers to notify them whenever they take into custody any undocumented alien.

In practice, the Immigration agent must then get a warrant (taking up to several days) during which time the local municipality must house and feed someone for whom they have dropped charges. Again, this is a violation of the 4th Amendment, not to mention a costly decision.

Most Sanctuary Cities claim that in addition to the 4th Amendment, a policy of turning over all undocumenteds would drive that community underground. The fear is that both petty and serious crimes which took place in neighborhoods where undocumented lived would go unreported resulting in increased violence and make a larger area unsafe. This argument has fallen on deaf ears with the arrival of the Trump Administration.

Of course, Sessions threats could be simply a “shot across the bow” and intended to bully local municipalities into a more cooperative role. Sessions and the Trump Administration, however, will be in for a surprise should they actually withhold funds from a major city or county. This bully practice will be met with a counter suit, plenty of undesirable publicity, and a predictable losing court fight. Another black eye for the Administration.

The undocumented situation is a complex problem and Sessions’ promised actions won’t make a dent in the estimated 11 million currently living throughout the US. Comprehensive immigration reform, where immigrants from Mexico (and maybe central America) are documented, taxed, and required to have a known address, and are treated as guest workers with a defined path to citizenship, is the only path to solving this situation.

Comprehensive reform is politically difficult but Session rhetoric is unhelpful and potentially an action to make the situation even more difficult to improve.

Beginning To Look Back

January 11, 2017

President Obama gave his farewell speech yesterday in Chicago. Pundits suggested President Obama wanted to write his “legacy” before the Trump Administration has a chance to eviscerate it. George W Bush, when asked in the ashes of his failed Presidency, what would his legacy be, replied to the effect, “don’t know. History will determine that and history takes a long time”. Hmmm.

Comparing the two men and their terms in office, President Obama would look hands down the more successful President. But with whom would you rather have a beer?

George W Bush, despite his wealth and familiarity with the moneyed class, seemed such an easy going person and a comfortable person to be around. Barack Obama could also at times display a friendly look but too frequently flashed a message of disdain or intellectual arrogance.

President Obama appeared not to suffer fools well. And in Washington there is no shortage of self centered, free loading, bureaucrats and legislators only too ready to claim something based on half truths or no truths at all.

President Bush was quite correct in saying history takes a long time before it renders a clear verdict. President Obama has much to be proud about but the repeal and replace of Obamacare may obscure his bold (but not bold enough) steps towards universal healthcare coverage. His efforts towards renewable energy and other quality of life issues may confront an unsympathetic Congress and Presidency once Donald Trump is inaugurated. Obama’s 8 year efforts around immigration reform, voting rights support, and inclusion will be an afterthought with the new Administration. What will remain in 8 years is open to question.

On the foreign stage, IMO, President Obama has diagnosed the Middle East (including Israel) correctly. One can argue whether the Arab world should offer the peace branch to Israel or Israel should initiate a sincere proposal first. But until the Arab world settles its power and Islamic sect differences, there is little reason to expect success. The next Administration is likely to take sides, picking which ever group seems most useful short term. Hmmm.

With respect to China and Russia, President Obama rowed against long held State Department views of a proper world order. China and Russia both have a different view, not surprisingly placing their country’s interest ahead of other countries including the US. President Obama diagnosed Asia and in particular China as the country to watch and to update US China foreign policy accordingly.

China is far wealthier and more populated than Russia. Maintaining government control requires meeting the economic needs of its 1+ billion head population.  Unfortunately it will not be easy task for China to continue spreading new wealth to Chinese peasants without 10% growth each year.  Authoritarian countries usually look for outsiders to blame when domestic policies falter.

A fair President Obama criticism might be that in all matters, his preference for “no drama” and “no theater” probably kept him from communicating effectively to the American people in terms they would understand. Whether the issue was healthcare where America spend twice as much as the modern world, and do not provide coverage to all Americans, or where America’s defense budget is 10 times as large as the next biggest spending country, or where America spends more per student on K-12 education than any other country, yet produces test score results in the middle of the pack, President Obama shunned any attempts to bring about change by dramatizing these facts.

President Obama will, however, be remembered from day 1 as a decent man with a smart and gracious wife who lead a White House life, with their children, which was above the fray but not aloof. President Obama’s few emotional occasions dealt with tragedies like the Newtown Elementary School shootings, not whether the Dow Jones Average reached a new high.

Strangely some of President Obama’s most vocal critics come from the African American community. And some of the unkindest words reference little or no progress in jobs and opportunities. Using a football analogy, offensive linemen can out block defensive linemen for just a few seconds creating an opening for a running back. If the back is not ready, or does not run through the opening quickly enough, the running back will be caught for no gain. I wonder why the African American community does not see the chance they had and squandered?

The next Administration will initially be graded in comparison to President Obama’s record. Soon however, Trump Administration policies and unforeseen world events will shape America’s history and the Obama comparisons will cease being relevant. Then historians will have their chance to cast a more informed light on legacy.

A Dear Friend

September 4, 2016

This past week I had two occasion where two different people, both of whom I could honestly say I respected each and considered both a “good” person and a straight forward, non-convoluted speaker. One was blue collar and the other an educated former executive. Both I would consider “a dear friend”.

The blue collar friend allowed that Donald Trump appealed to him. He said “there are three main issues in the Presidential race, jobs, immigration, and ISIS”. Presumably, he was inferring that Trump could handle these issue better than Hillary Clnton. Hmmm.

Not in keeping with the “dear friend” status, I immediately volunteered that immigration and ISIS were not two of the three top issues and pointed out that more Americans by far die each year from automobile accidents, gun misuses, or household slips and falls than have succumbed from ISIS inspired attacks.

With regards to immigration, the flow of undocumented Mexicans into the US slowed to a trickle shortly after the 2008 recession and the number of undocumented aliens living in the US has stabilized. In short, other than jobs three reasons to vote for Trump is down to one.

My dear white collar friend is a long time conservative and for him to support a traditional Republican nominee would be no surprise. But in my opinion, the former executive is smart enough to recognize Donald Trump’s unfitness for office. Why would he be so sure Trump was the choice over Clinton?

As the discussion continued, the abortion issue arose as an article of faith. This dear friend, who is a devout Catholic, in essence could not vote for someone who supported Roe v Wade.

IMO, abortion was the litmus test which underlay all other arguments. Taxes are too high, my executive friend declared, but at the same time, my dear friend supported vouchers for Catholic Schools. He also wanted his “freedom” back which when asked for an example, said he wanted to swim in the ocean without life guard restrictions. Government was too large and President Obama was a complete failure. Hmmm.

My blue collar friend’s pick of jobs as the number one issue is understandable since his job security is enhanced with fuller employment. His choice of immigration and ISIS carry no “self interest” but rather reflect an effort to show his Trump choice on a broader foundation. His Trump preference, however, is susceptible to Clinton alternative job creation ideas if he would listen.

My dear executive friend, regrettably, I think is a lost cause. His religious driven anti-abortion beliefs color his thinking so much that he can only see Hillary Clinton’s trustworthiness issues as proof enough that she should not be President but a man like Donald Trump who arguably is as flawed as Hillary, if not more so, should be elected.

My contact with both of these dear friends took place in social settings totally unsuitable for in-depth political discussion. When I hearr political operatives or those seeking political office advocating for Trump or Clinton, it is easy for me to discount the Republican leaning person and look beyond the (at times equally) biased and rhetorical language uttered by some Democrats.

These spokespersons are not one of “my dear friends”.

The sadness of these two encounters is that a woman’s right to choose is a Constitutional right (as interpreted by the Supreme Court) and is not likely to change under a President Clinton.

The US economy is already one of the best globally and not likely to grow much faster.

And ISIS is just another name for Islamic authoritarianism and there is no reason to expect Muslims motivated by money and power to suddenly become flower children. ISIS may soon disappear but assuredly will reappear in another form.  A rose by any other name is still a rose.

I have a third dear friend to whose wife, my wife told the story of the litmus test. The third dear friend’s wife said her husband felt much the same negativity about Hillary but she was keeping her mouth shut and planning to vote for Hillary Clinton anyways. Hmmm.