Archive for the ‘Immigration’ category

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.

Ends and Means

May 24, 2016

There are many reasons to be worried about a Donald Trump and GOP victory this November. Let me count the ways. Emotional attitude, standards of personal conduct, breadth of knowledge on foreign affairs, plausible policies and plans for governing, and fitness to be President of all Americans are just a few.

What more could one worry about?

As questionably fit as Donald Trump may be, he will ultimately also run on the GOP platform (necessary to get conservative donor money). As in 2008 and 2012, tax cuts for the wealthy, no comprehensive immigration reform, roll back of equal rights protection, active rejection of Roe v Wade, and the repeal of Obamacare (with loss of coverage for tens of millions) will underpin his candidacy.

But that is not all there is to worry about.

The “ends justify the means” modus operandi became crystal clear during former President George W Bush’s terms. Enhanced interrogation, invading sovereign countries, abrogation of lawful treaties, and warrantless search and seizures were all justified in the name of national security. And in each case, US courts in due course forced the Administration to end these practices.

When Donald Trump speaks about Bill Clinton’s past indiscretions, he is either saying the ends (getting elected) is far more important than the means (speech far beneath the dignity of a President) or he is trying desperately to avoid answering substantive questions.

Imagine what he will do when China, India, Russia, or any other country does not obey a President Trump’s wishes?

Long Shot Insight

December 27, 2015

Senator Marco Rubio is a leading candidate for the GOP Presidential nomination. His candidacy is still considered a long shot and a more probable outcome would be the VP slot. His Presidential nomination campaign shows, however, how difficult life is “to be for this, while also being for that”.

Senator Rubio has gotten himself caught up in a crack of once having advocated for comprehensive immigration reform and now finding himself out of favor with many GOP voters. For most politician this is no real problem. Rubio just needs to say “my thinking on this matter has evolved” and “I now favor a step by step process”.

Rubio, however, has difficulty explaining his new thoughts, most probably because he really does see the merit of comprehensive reform and he must also realize the Hispanic vote will be swayed more by his former position. Hispanics will see Rubio’s flip-flop as “immigration was good for me but now its time for it not to be good for you”.

Senator Rubio’s problem gets even more complicated. Cuban refugees come in two varieties. One group saw the wisdom in Fidel Castro’s revolution and the others still would like to see former Dictator Fulgencio Batista return to power (from the dead). Cuba was and in many regards still is today a land of the haves and have nots. The difference today is the haves are from a different class.

Rubio has found that Florida’s Cuban money and support comes mainly from the “we like Batista” camp and therefore normalizing relations between Cuba and the US is untenable.

To a Presidential candidate with any sense of history, normalization should be a no brainer. Either you are for it (or at least can accept it), or you say nothing. Senator Rubio, however, has not found this an easy transition to make. In fact he has taken the unusual step of putting a hold on Rebecca Jacobson’s nomination as Ambassador to Mexico. Hmmm.

(Remember Mexico which is that Country just south of the border where refugees and undocumented immigrants are lining up to cross our borders.  Being without an Ambassador seems anti-productive.)

Jacobson is a career State Department officer who is fluent in Spanish and has served previously both Democrat and Republican Administrations. Why the hold?

According to news reports, the hold is due to Jacobson’s efforts in negotiating the details of the recent Cuban normalization. Hmmm.

Polls indicate that most Cuban Americans as well as most Americans overwhelmingly are in favor pf normalizing relations with Cuba. Simple logic would suggest normalization was long overdue for the island which is 90 miles off the Florida coast. For 50 years Cuban sanctions have not brought about a change in Cuba’s leadership and there is no reason to believe the next 25 years would be different.

So, Rubio is showing American voters a “malleable”, but not vary clear thinking mind. Admittedly, political trade offs are always fraught with pitfalls. Rubio’s position of comprehensive reform and his Cuban retaliation will ensure that if nominated Marco Rubio will not receive a large percentage of Hispanic votes.

And my guess is his hold on Ms Jacobson’s nomination along with his views on women’s rights will not do him well with women voters either.

Many people have felt the GOP primary season is far too public and far too long. Here is an example which might suggest that given enough time, even a person with poor eye sight can see the spots on these leopards.

The long shot is simply not ready.

What Are The Candidates Thinking?

December 16, 2015

Last evening Republican Presidential hopefuls debated again. CNN scored well on ratings and the network was generally given positive reviews by media observers. But what would any disinterested party say about the candidates’ message, and what they must think of the electorate?

The overall theme seemed to be “fear”. According to the candidates, Americans are fearful and the GOP candidates are here to help.   One only has to look as far as President Obama to know the reason why there is so much fear.  Hmmm.

Each candidate sketched his/her view how terrorism and immigrants were at the root of this fear.  Until a functioning plan was in place, the candidates were sorry to say, Americans faced real danger. Hmmm.

A quick search of the internet will reveal the following list of how Americans die each year. Thanks to the CDC, the following causes should be of interest:

  • Heart disease: 611,105
  • Cancer: 584,881
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 149,205
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 130,557
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,978
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 84,767
  • Diabetes: 75,578
  • Influenza and Pneumonia: 56,979
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 47,112
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 41,149
  • Traffic accidents: 32,000
  • Shooting Deaths: 32,000

Of course, there is no good reason for any preventable death. But immigrants and terrorists do even make the score card.

If these candidates were serious about preventable deaths, they would be boast how if they were President they would declare war upon heart disease, cancer, or any of the other diseases and illnesses.  Have you heard that with this group?

So what does the debate say about the GOP and the electorate? The word can be nothing more than disdain. The candidates must think Americans are ignorant of simple facts and easily frightened with fear laced words.

Hmmm.

Shameful and Dangerously Misleading

November 17, 2015

Was it a shameful and dangerously misleading interpretation of the current Syrian refugee crisis or just plain old politics? Some two dozen plus Republican Governors lock stepped declared they would not allow any Syrian refugees into their States… in order to protect their State residents. Governor Cris Christie added that this prohibition would apply to even a 5 year old. It simply was too dangerous. Hmmm.

The almost simultaneous announcements dripped of a Republican plan aimed at discrediting Democrats, in particular President Obama and by inference Hillary Clinton. Republican spin masters did not even care that current law specifically place control of refugees in the hands of the Federal Government and Governors are powerless to interfere.

Hopefully these Governors know this and have issued their statements simply as a bluff. Otherwise, they risk a confrontation with the Federal Government and who knows what unexpected consequences that might bring.

The Governors rationale overlooks commonsense facts. The US has signed up for 6,000+ Syrian refugees now living in camps in Jordan. This is a pitiful small number compared to the magnitude of the refugee problem. Probably most obvious is that there are more than an estimated 200,000 Middle East immigrants already living in and around Detroit.

And, 7 of the 8 Paris attackers were French or Belgium citizens indicating terrorists come normally from residents who are converts to terrorist thinking.

Consider also that the 9/11 terrorists all entered the country legally and operated openly. Even more to the point, Major Nidal Hasan (Fort Hood shooter) who went to the dark side while on active duty. Hmmm.

America, as every history book will tell, is a country built on immigrants. Xenophobia, however, is not a fear America has been immune to. Over the years immigration has been widely accepted and widely feared. The GOP has grabbed this xenophobic fear and converted it to a political strategy.

This is a desperate and relatively shortsighted move, and is unlikely to stand up well with the test of time.