Published: Fri, 28 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0400
Last Build Date: Fri, 28 Oct 2016 17:15:43 -0400
Tue, 25 Oct 2016 15:15:00 -0400Donald Trump announced his proposed plan for his first 100 days in office on Sunday, including new mandatory minimum sentences for illegal border crossings, which already make up nearly half of all federal prosecutions annually. In addition to his—frankly insane—plan to build a border wall and somehow force another sovereign nation to pay for it, Trump's proposal to thwart illegal immigration would establish "a 2-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a 5-year mandatory minimum for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions or two or more prior deportations." Currently, illegal re-entry is punishable by up to two years in prison, although a prior criminal record can add more years to a sentence. Last year, Republicans in Congress introduced a bill called "Kate's Law," named after Kate Steinle, who was shot and killed by a man with several violent felonies and illegal re-entries into the country. That bill would have also strengthened sentences for illegal re-entry, but advocacy groups that oppose mandatory minimums say Trump's proposal would go even further. "This is Kate's Law on steroids," says Kevin Ring, the vice president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. "I don't know if our country has enough backhoes to build all the new prisons we'd have to to implement this dumb idea." Illegal entry and re-entry is already one of the most prosecuted crimes in the U.S. and sucks up an enormous amount of federal resources. According to a report by Grassroots Leadership earlier this year, prosecutions of illegal entry and re-entry into the country already makes up 49 percent of the federal caseload every year. Foreign nationals make up 22 percent of the federal Bureau of Prisons system, which was operating at 20 percent over its maximum capacity as of 2015. The current average sentence for illegal re-entry is 18 months, according to the report. To try and deal with both the huge amount of immigration cases and the small number of federal judges, the Bush administration created Operation Streamline in 2005, which allowed federal courtrooms to handle dozens of illegal entry and re-entry cases in a single hearing. The program continued to escalate under President Obama, reaching nearly 100,000 immigration prosecutions in fiscal year 2013. The feds took their foot off the gas in 2014, but roughly three-quarters of a million people were prosecuted under the program over a 10-year-period. "Nothing has worked to stem the tide [of illegal immigration]," retired federal judge Felix Recio, who served from 1999 to 2013 in Brownsville, Texas, said in a conference call with reporters in July shortly after the release of the report. "The only thing we have done is destroyed the lives of many people who only desired to exercise their human rights to feed and care for their families." Former federal prosecutor Ken White wrote at the blog Popehat in September that Trump's claim that mandatory minimums would have an impact on illegal immigration is "crowd-pleasing bunk": Even with fast-track programs in place, and even with immigration crimes taking up a very large percentage of federal criminal efforts, only a small percentage of illegally returning deportees are prosecuted criminally. A tiny percentage of first-time illegal entries face prosecution. There are no resources to do more. U.S. Attorney Offices generally create internal guidelines to determine which cases they'll prosecute. For instance, when I was a federal prosecutor in the 1990s, the Los Angeles office only prosecuted cases involving aliens with prior aggravated felonies or lots of prior deportations. Those days, the office—one of the biggest in the country—indicted about 1,200 – 1,500 cases a year total. That number is lower now. It cannot make a statistically significant impact on immigration crime. What it can make a statistically significant impact on is the Justice Department budget. The prosecution and incarceration of illegal entry and[...]
Mon, 24 Oct 2016 15:00:00 -0400Donald Trump seems headed for an epic defeat next month. Several states that should be GOP strongholds—Arizona! Georgia! Indiana! Utah! Alaska!—are suddenly swing states. And it's pretty much all Trump's fault. But even as Trump prepares for a blowout, many conservatives have convinced themselves that Trumpism—The Donald's brew of economic populism and anti-immigration restrictionism—needs to be taken seriously. Trumpism, these conservatives say, proves that the GOP ignores the restrictionist wishes of its working-class base at the party's own peril. This is a dubious lesson to draw from the 2016 presidential race that Trump himself seems to be slinking away from given that at the final debate he talked about his Great Wall of Trump stopping drugs more than workers. But if the GOP still insists on going down this path, it won't secure the party's existing base as much as it'll alienate its future one. Restrictionism used to be confined to the fever swamps of right-wing extremists—think Rush Limbaugh and Joe Arpaio. But today, the who's who of conservative intellectuals has embraced restrictionism in one form or another because, they claim, "mass immigration" is overwhelming the country's capacity to absorb immigrants. (For the record, America's immigration level—3.5 foreigners per 1,000 people—less than half of Canada's 8.5 per 1,000.) But many of the country's top conservative thinkers—from National Review's Reihan Salam and The New York Times' Ross Douthat, both separately and jointly, to The Week's Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, to National Affairs' Yuval Levin—are all touting restrictionist remedies for restoring America's economic and cultural health. These are all smart, thoughtful people whose arguments are by no means frivolous. But it is striking that although all of them are appalled by Trump's harsh deportation talk, they are now pushing measures that few respectable conservatives would have touched five years ago. For starters, they openly call their agenda "restrictionism," a term that was anathema just a few years ago. More strikingly, even Rush Limbaugh-style immigration hardliners used to maintain that their quarrel wasn't with immigration as such, only illegal immigration. They weren't opposed to increasing legal immigration, provided those who are here illegally don't get "amnesty." No longer. The new conservative restrictionists would never favor a guest worker program with Mexico because they claim that low-skilled immigration threatens native wages and jobs. (In fact, low-skill immigrants have a relatively small impact on jobs one way or the other, while delivering enormous benefits to American consumers in the form of lower prices of goods and services.) The most troubling shift, however, is on high-skilled immigration. In theory, these conservatives are in favor of ramping it up. In practice, they have attached so many caveats that one wonders if they are serious. They want any increase in high-tech immigration accompanied with offsetting reductions in low-skilled and family-based quotas to reduce overall immigration levels. Mitt Romney, by contrast, wanted to staple green cards to the diplomas of foreign techies graduating from American universities. But if they were truly serious about letting more high-skilled immigrants in, their media outlets wouldn't be constantly demonizing and questioning the H-1B high-tech visa program, one of the few legal avenues for foreign techies to legally work in the country. But the good news is that so far, at least, these conservatives aren't shifting public opinion. To the contrary, in fact. A Pew Research Center poll released in March found a dramatic shift in attitudes toward immigration—in a pro-immigrant direction. In 1994, 63 percent of Americans said immigrants burdened the country and 31 percent said they strengthened it. Now, it's the exact opposite with 59 percent saying strengthen and 33 percent burden. Millennials, who are more ethnically diverse and open minded than older generations, are even more positively d[...]
Tue, 18 Oct 2016 11:20:00 -0400
Anti-immigration sentiment hasn't just infected the base in Trump's GOP but also some of the smartest conservatives, especially many reformocons. They see the rise of Trump's economic populism (image) and restrictionism as a vindication of their diagnosis that the GOP ignores the antipathy of its white working class base to immigration and globalization at its peril.
But what they are ignoring is just how out-of-step such sentiment is with the rest of the country. Rush Limbaugh and his media acolytes have been beating the anti-immigration drum for two decades now. But what is the impact on public opinion? GOPers are vastly more anti-immigration. But other Americans are vastly more pro-immigration now polls show, I note in my column at The Week.
In 1994, 63 percent of Americans said immigrants burdened the country and 31 percent said they strengthened it. Now, it's the exact opposite with 59 percent saying strengthen and 33 percent burden.
And what's true for America in general is even truer for the new generation of voters: millennials.
These conservatives won't secure the GOP's existing base as much as they'll sacrifice the future one.
Go here to view the piece.
Fri, 14 Oct 2016 04:00:00 -0400
(image) Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has been working with local law enforcement agencies to scan the tags on cars of people attending gun shows in Southern California. ICE then compared those tags to those on cars crossing the Mexican border in an effort to catch gun smugglers.
Tue, 11 Oct 2016 15:40:00 -0400
A criminal case against the notorious Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Arizona's Maricopa county, will lead to a criminal contempt charge against him, the U.S. Department of Justice announced today. The judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton, has demanded an official order to show cause from the DOJ, which she will have to sign for the charge to be official.
Arpaio is accused of violating an order put down by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow in December 2011 that was meant to force him to stop Arpaio and his law enforcement officers from enforcing federal immigration law in a discriminatory manner.
Judge Bolton wants a sentencing cap of 6 months on the charge, which would make it a misdemeanor contempt charge. That mere misdemeanor would not disqualify him necessarily from continuing as sheriff. He's running for re-election this year and recent polling hasn't looked good for him.
Arpaio has acknowledged violating an order from Snow but insisted it wasn't intentional.
Snow disagreed. He said Arpaio kept up the patrols, for which he is well-known around the country, in an effort to retain office during the 2012 elections...
Snow also requested criminal charges against Arpaio and his second in command, Jerry Sheridan, for withholding 50 hard drives in a secret investigation that critics say targeted Snow.
The racial profiling lawsuit that Arpaio lost more than three years ago grew into a contempt case.
Arpaio and three aides had been found in civil contempt for defying Snow's orders in a years-old racial profiling case in the spring. The sheriff's office had refused to stop targeting Latinos in patrols despite federal directives to do so.
County taxpayers have been tagged for $48 million in the profiling case and they will be forking over more: costs were expected to reach $72 million by next summer.
As J.D. Tuccille reported here last year, Arpaio has publicly admitted to being contemptuous of Judge G. Murray Snow's order that he cease certain of his immigration law enforcement practices. Lucy Steigerwald reported for us on the beginnings of the Justice Department's investigation into Arpaio's immigration law enforcement practices.
Thu, 06 Oct 2016 06:00:00 -0400The day after one of Donald Trump's campaign speeches about cracking down on illegal immigration, National Review columnist Jay Nordlinger, a lifelong conservative who "ceased being a Republican" the moment Trump sewed up the GOP nomination, lamented via Twitter that "people you could never have guessed would be gullible—are. Falling for cons. Re immigration, for example." But many of the #NeverTrump conservatives currently agonizing over the future of their party are deluding themselves over its past: Republicans have been falling for immigration cons—and perpetrating many of their own—since long before the real estate outsider vaulted to the front of the GOP presidential field by accusing Mexico of "sending" to the U.S. "people that have lots of problems," including the problem of being "rapists." Years after Trump exits the political stage, conservatism's leading lights will need to take a long, hard look at how they deliberately embraced a fact-untethered anti-immigration populism, thereby enabling some of the most authoritarian central planning this side of, well, Hillary Clinton. So it is that the alleged party of limited government is lining up behind a candidate who, in that August 31 speech in Phoenix, promised government-run "ideological certification" examinations on visitors to the United States. The party of business and trade promises American companies who are even thinking about relocating overseas that "there's going to be a lot of trouble for them. It's not going to be so easy. There will be consequences. Remember that: There will be consequences. They're not going to be leaving, go to another country, make the product, sell it into the United States, and all we end up with is no taxes and total unemployment." Trump's plan, drawing from such conservative stalwarts as Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and the National Review–published restrictionists at the Center for Immigration Studies, includes forcing more Americans to prove their legal working status by clearing their names through the federal government's e-Verify database of Social Security IDs. A new deportation force would be created, deportees would be transported "great distances" back to their home countries, 5,000 new border patrol officers would be hired and deployed in the field, a biometric entry/exit system would be affixed to each legal visitor to assist in the removal of all visa overstayers, and "extreme vetting" would be applied to foreigners who dare visit the country. And after all that expensive enforcement buildup and activity, somehow (magic?), "We will have a peace dividend to spend on rebuilding America, beginning with our American inner cities." Trump's draconian solutions were necessary to counteract what he portrayed in the speech as an unrecognizably dystopian America. "We are in the middle of a jobs crisis, a border crisis, and a terrorism crisis like never before," he claimed, warning that "this election is our last chance to secure the border, stop illegal immigration, and reform our laws to make your life better. I really believe this is it. This is our last time." Especially if we don't block the "Trojan horse" of Syrian refugees from slipping in. Instead of that, "we will build safe zones" for refugees in their own countries, "and we'll get the money from the Gulf States." How did National Review, which ran a splashy "Against Trump" issue in January 2016, respond to these head-scratching flights from reality? Like so: "The policy was unassailable," declared Editor Rich Lowry. "From an immigration hawk point of view, it is almost certainly the soundest speech ever given by a major-party presidential candidate." At least give Lowry points for intellectual consistency—a year prior he had urged the GOP to "pander to Trump on immigration," while his magazine editorialized that "Trump's Immigration Plan Is a Good Start—for All GOP Candidates." They're wrong, but at least they've been[...]
Wed, 21 Sep 2016 00:01:00 -0400Donald Trump predictably blames "our extremely open immigration system" for Saturday's bomb attacks in New Jersey and New York City. His critique overlooks the details of this particular case as well as the general rarity of terrorism by immigrants. Ahmad Khan Rahami, the 28-year-old man police arrested on Monday in connection with the bombings, is a naturalized U.S. citizen who immigrated to the United States from Afghanistan at the age of 7. He seems to have been radicalized within the last few years, a period when he spent nearly a year in Pakistan and became noticeably more religious and taciturn. It is hard to imagine how the "extreme vetting" Trump advocates for immigrants from "any nation that has been compromised by terrorism" could have kept Rahami out of the country. What questions could have been posed to his parents that would have predicted his violent turn two decades later? Trump faults his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, for supporting the admission of Syrian refugees, who he says pose an unacceptable risk of terrorism. But according to a recent study by Cato Institute immigration policy analyst Alex Nowrasteh, "the chance of an American being murdered in a terrorist attack caused by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion per year." Trump has recommended "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on"—a plan that his own running mate called "offensive and unconstitutional." More recently Trump has said the moratorium should apply to all visitors from countries "compromised by terrorism," a category that arguably includes most of the world. Some pundits favor a cleaner approach. "Confronted with the threat of Islamic terrorism," Nowrasteh notes, "well-known conservatives like Larry Kudlow, David Bossie, and Ann Coulter have called for a complete moratorium on immigration." A broad moratorium would have the advantage of preventing all terrorist attacks by newly admitted immigrants. But it would also exclude more than 1 million innocent people each year it was in effect, at a huge economic cost. Nowrasteh cites estimates ranging from $35 billion to $229 billion a year. Nowrasteh reports that tourists accounted for 94 percent of deaths caused by foreign-born terrorists in the United States from 1975 through 2015. Including tourists in the moratorium would raise the annual cost by another $194 billion or so. Given the rarity of deaths caused by terrorism, Nowrasteh shows, such costs cannot possibly be justified. Based on a value of $15 million per life, he puts "the combined human, property, business, and economic costs" of attacks by foreign-born terrorists during the 41-year period covered by his study at $5.3 billion annually, which is "far less than the minimum estimated yearly benefit of $229.1 billion from immigration and tourism." Even that calculation overestimates the potential security benefit of cutting off immigration, since it is dominated by the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, an anomalous event that is unlikely to be replicated. The 9/11 attacks (which were perpetrated not by naturalized citizens or by refugees but by visitors with tourist or student visas) account for 99 percent of the 3,024 deaths caused by foreign-born terrorists from 1975 through 2015. Excluding 9/11, the overwhelming majority of terrorist murders in the United States—more than 90 percent—have been committed by native-born Americans. Except for 2001, the risk of being killed by a foreign-born terrorist has been minuscule and flat for more than four decades. That risk is extremely low even if you include 9/11: about 1 in 3.6 million per year. You are more than 200 times as likely to die in a traffic accident, 20 times as likely to be killed by falling down stairs, and four times as likely to drown in a bathtub. Any politician who wants to impose la[...]
Tue, 20 Sep 2016 12:03:00 -0400
(image) Donald Trump Jr. took after his dad and sent out a tweet that's riled social media up. The tweet was of an image of a bowl of skittles. "If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful?" the image, branded with the Trump-Pence logo, asked. "That's our Syrian refugee problem."
There are plenty of problems with it—people aren't skittles, there's more than a bowlful of them being admitted into the U.S. each year, a small proportion of them are actually from Syria, not even three are guaranteed to kill you, and the refugees go through a screening process.
Perhaps most importantly, some dangers are the cost of freedom. Countless real world phenomena could kill you, and it would be safest to sit under the bed in your bedroom and never go out into the real world. Progressives had their moment mocking Trump Jr. for his fearmongering, but it is a native language to the left as well. After any prominent enough incident of gun violence, progressive leaders will rile up their base by demanding vague "common sense" gun control and even demonizing law-abiding gun-owners.
So what if the bowl of skittles were made of gun-owners? Would those on the left mocking Trump Jr. "take a handful" then? Both gun ownership (self-defense) and freedom of movement can be considered natural rights, but neither the left nor right in this country accept both as such. When Trump insisted immigration was "not a right" (in the Constitution, it's not), many on the left mocked him. But not only does the left regularly deny that the right to bear arms is a right (in the Constitution, it is), but left-wing politicians like Bernie Sanders have even claimed that open borders were a "right wing ploy." The response that "refugees are people but guns are not" is inadequate—gun owners are people too.
Hillary Clinton has touted immigration reform, but she has not offered anything close to making immigration anything resembling a right. All "comprehensive" immigration reform really needs to do is permit law-abiding individuals to cross the border freely, and perhaps a dismantling of the welfare state to remove perverse government incentives for immigration. But for the left, as for the right, immigration reform is about imposing controls and extending the powers of the federal government.
Trump's unapologetic anti-immigration stand (both the illegal and legal varieties) and overt fearmongering over terrorism certainly makes it easier for Democrats to claim the high ground, but it does not erase Democrats' poor record on immigration (they helped scuttle efforts toward immigration at the tail-end of the Bush administration and it was not a priority when Democrats controlled the White House and both houses of Congress) nor their history of fearmongering. Barack Obama ran for re-election in 2012 on a platform that prominently included "killing Osama bin Laden." In Philadelphia last week, he insisted only voting straight-ticket Democrat would keep the U.S. safe, secure, and prosperous. And while his supporters tended to believe things in the U.S. were getting worse (why wouldn't they? Democratic politicians have been telling them so), at least Trump's success at parlaying pessimism in the future into popular support might cause Democratic politicians to reconsider the wisdom of downplaying an objectively bright future.
Tue, 20 Sep 2016 09:50:00 -0400Can you guess who the victims were of the largest mass-lynching in American history and where it took place? Most people would, I think, guess blacks first, then maybe Mexicans or Native Americans. And we'd assume it was somewhere in the old Confederate states. Writing in the Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby notes that the 18 men and boys killed on October 24, 1871 were chosen dragged out of their houses and beaten and hanged because they were Chinese. The locale wasn't Alabama or Mississippi, either. It was Los Angeles, California. They were Chinese, and they were murdered by a mob, nearly 500 strong, that included some of the city's leading citizens. "Their first victim was an elderly, inoffensive Chinaman, whom they seized and dragged headlong through the streets, beating and abusing him at every step," the Los Angeles Daily Mirror later recounted. At the corner of Temple and New High streets, the lynch party tied a noose around the old man's neck and hauled him up. "The rope broke and the unfortunate wretch, innocent of any wrong, asked for mercy from his cruel tormentors. This was denied with jeers, and he was again hung up; this time successfully." As readers of Reason know, the first mass exclusions on the basis of country of origin (then as now a proxy for protean categories of race) covered the Chinese in a law titled with unabashed descriptiveness: The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. (Read Erika Lee's recent history The Making of Asian America for more.) Jacoby notes that Chinese now comprise the single-largest group emigrating to the United States: In 2013, according to the Census Bureau, China was the country of origin for 147,000 US immigrants, compared to just 125,000 who came from Mexico. Over the previous 10 years, immigration from China and other Asian countries had been rising, while immigration from Mexico decreased. Since at least 2009, reported demographer Eric Jensen, more immigrants to America have been Asian than Hispanic. By 2013, the disparity was unmistakable: Asians accounted for 40.2 percent of the total immigration flow. Hispanics made up only 25.5 percent. Last week, The Wall Street Journal crunched even more recent numbers. "In 2014, there were 31 states where more immigrants arrived from China than from Mexico. . . . Even in California, a top destination for Latinos, Chinese immigrants outnumbered Mexican immigrants." (The data include all immigrants, legal and illegal.) If Mexicans are the enemy within—all this talk of deporting millions of undocumented immigrants is mostly aimed at them—China has mostly replaced Russia or Japan as our major enemy without. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, virtually all of the failed GOP candidates for president, and especially Donald Trump mince no words in saying they will hold China accountable for flexing its regional military might, "manipulating" its currency (something all national central banks do simply by existing), and especially "stealing" American jobs. And of course, Chinese immigrants in America threaten "us" in a way that is less like low-skilled Mexicans and more like the fears stoked by Jews back in the early 20th century: Chinese kids are so super-smart, especially in math and engineering, right, that they aren't taking manual-labor gigs away from low-income, low-skilled natives? They're taking away all the slots at the University of California system and maybe even the Ivy League! They're not human, they work too hard! Jacoby closes his piece with a trenchant observation about how "we" (real Americans, who can trace at least two generations in the U.S. of A.!, but not inlcuding blacks) always eventually do the right thing after exhausting all other options: We look back today at the demonization of Chinese immigrants in the 1870s and 1880s and are aghast that so many Americans could have spouted such ludicrous, ugly stu[...]
Mon, 12 Sep 2016 22:46:00 -0400
Gary Johnson may have had a brain freeze on Aleppo, but he is by the far the most clear headed of all the candidates on immigration, notes Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia. He is (image) offering what neither Trump nor Clinton is, namely, an immigration fix that is humane, fair and workable. It will solve the illegal border traffic and enchance border security without walls or "deportation" task force or terrorizing Latino families.
But the most important thing is that it'll say true to America's limited government commitment. So it'll be a shame if his little Aleppo gaffe derails his candidacy.
Mon, 12 Sep 2016 22:24:00 -0400ObamaCare is collapsing. An entitlement crisis is looming. The national debt is exploding. And the Middle East is imploding. But somehow, the central issue driving the 2016 presidential election is what to do with about 3.5 percent of the American population that works hard, pays taxes, and delivers untold consumer benefits: undocumented immigrants. Despite the relentless focus on immigration, the debate surrounding this issue has been awful. If Donald Trump is cruel on immigration, Hillary Clinton is cynical. In fact, the only candidate who is humane and sensible is Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee. There's no doubt that Trump has pulled his party to a very dark place, where none of the GOP's usual qualms about the perils of Big Government apply anymore. After a brief flirtation with a softer stance, he returned to form last week, doubling down on his harsh rhetoric. He reiterated his pledge to build a big, beautiful, and "impenetrable" wall on the southern border and get Mexico to pay for it — never mind that the Mexican president told him only hours before that Mexico would never foot the bill. Trump promised to create a federal deportation force within the first hour of assuming office to ferret out two million undocumented criminals — never mind that the Department of Homeland Security says that there are only 820,000 such immigrants. He amped up his "no amnesty" rhetoric, declaring that not only would he rescind President Obama's executive order giving some undocumented immigrants a temporary deportation reprieve, but also issue detainers to any undocumented immigrant arrested for any crime, presumably even something as minor as loitering or possession of small amounts of marijuana — never mind the terror this would inject into Latino communities. Perhaps worst of all, he's hinting at curbing legal immigration even further to protect American jobs and wages — never mind that such restrictionism is precisely the cause of the undocumented population in the first place. But if Trump has been hysterical on this issue, Clinton has been AWOL. She barely said a peep about Trump's 10-point immigration plan. And in the past she has backed proposals that can be fairly described as Trump-lite. Clinton has often emphasized the need to "control" borders, and boasted about how as a senator she voted "numerous times" to spend more to "build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in." What's more, she's had a few of her own flip-flops over the years. During her previous presidential run, she had strongly (and rightly) condemned a federal crackdown on sanctuary cities such as San Francisco. But in the wake of the freakish killing of a 31-year-old California woman by a clearly deranged undocumented Mexican worker in San Francisco she declared that she has "absolutely no support" for a city that defies federal deportation rules — a Trump-worthy distortion of what sanctuary cities are all about. And just like Trump, she wants a biometric entry-exit system to track every border crossing of everyone — Americans and foreigners alike. Clinton is now vaguely promising to go beyond President Obama's executive amnesty and use her presidential powers to offer deportation relief and work permits to more undocumented immigrants while pushing full-blown amnesty in Congress. But as a senator, she derailed then-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's efforts to issue driver's licenses to them. Meanwhile, neither Clinton nor Trump has proposed a guest worker program, the best antidote for the labor prohibitionism that drives illegal crossings. And that brings us to Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee. He may not know what "a leppo" is but he does understand what's wrong with America's immigration system and what needs to be done. He is the only [...]
Mon, 12 Sep 2016 08:41:00 -0400Citizens of other countries can legally visit the United States if they've been convicted of driving under the influence, breaking and entering, smuggling, assault, or involuntary manslaughter—but not if they have ever smoked pot, dropped acid, or snorted cocaine, even if it happened decades ago and they were never charged with a drug offense. Under Section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, "any alien...who admits having committed acts which constitute the essential elements of...a violation of (or a conspiracy or attempt to violate) any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance...is inadmissible." That rule has been on the books since 1987, but it is only fitfully (and arbitrarily) enforced, so it continues to ensnare unwary tourists who do not realize that candidly answering questions about past drug use can end a trip before it begins. The CBC recently described two such cases. In 2014, it reports, Matthew Harvey "was driving from Vancouver to Seattle for a concert when a customs officer noticed a marijuana magazine in his car," which prompted questions about his marijuana use. Harvey answered honestly, thinking it was no big deal, especially since he used marijuana legally for medical purposes in Canada and was on his way to a state where it was legal for recreational use. But marijuana is still completely prohibited by federal law, which is the relevant point as far as Section 212 goes. Although Harvey has worked in British Columbia's marijuana industry, his lawyer says that had nothing to do with the decision to bar him from the United States, which was based entirely on his admission that he had smoked pot recreationally as an adult. Now Harvey would like to take his 3-year-old daughter to Disneyland, but first he must obtain a "waiver of ineligibility." The application costs $585, whether or not a waiver is granted, and that fee will rise to $930 later this year. The waiver must be renewed as often as once a year, depending on the term chosen by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Another Vancouver resident, Alan Ranta, was on his way to a music festival in Washington last July when U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers found a purse humorously labeled "weed money" in his car, which led to questions about Ranta's drug use. "I answered truthfully," he told the CBC. "I said I had smoked [weed]. That led to followup questions on how much I smoked, where had I smoked it, and when I smoked." None of those details actually matters under Section 212. As long as Ranta consumed cannabis when he was 18 or older, even if it was just once, he is "inadmissible." Other examples of Canadians turned away at the border because of illegal drug use include Myles Wilkinson, a fantasy football player with a 1981 conviction for marijuana possession who in 2013 won a trip to the Super Bowl he was not allowed to take, and Andrew Feldmar, a psychotherapist who was prevented from visiting his children, friends, and colleagues in the U.S. because a CBP officer's web search turned up a journal article in which Feldmar discussed his experiences with LSD and other psychedelics in the 1960s. Unlike Harvey and Ranta, who incriminated themselves, Wilkinson and Feldmar were tripped up by publicly available information. For travelers who have a choice, Harvey recommends a strategy of "deny, deny, deny." Len Saunders, an American immigration lawyer consulted by the CBC, suggests a less legally perilous approach: "Saunders' advice to Canadians asked about their past marijuana use at the border is to refuse to answer the question. They may be held for several hours, but there is no legal requirement, he says, to answer the question." [Thanks to Marc Sandhaus for [...]
Thu, 08 Sep 2016 10:30:00 -0400
Governor Gary Johnson is getting a lot of flack for not knowing what "an Aleppo" is — even as the former US ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill, and the New York Times flub it themselves, erroneously(image) calling it the capital of ISIS (and that too in the process of trying to explain it to him).
But it'll be a bigger snafu if Johnson's snafu is the final nail in his prospects for inclusion in the presidential debates. That's because on the subject that has (unfortunately) launched Trump's (unfortunate) candidacy and dominated this election season — undocumented workers — he is by far the most clear headed compared to TrumpTon, I note in my morning column at The Week. "If Trump has been hysterical on this issue, Clinton has been AWOL," I point out.
Johnson, by contrast:
[I]s the only candidate who wants the market — rather than bureaucratic "quotas" and "caps" — to regulate immigration flows, confining the government's role to conducting background checks and issuing Social Security numbers. He objects to the very term "illegal immigrant," because it implies that legality depends on papers issued by the government — an utterly offensive notion in a free society. (Come to think about it, how about calling these people "paperless workers?")
Go here to read the whole piece.
Wed, 07 Sep 2016 00:01:00 -0400Recent polls indicate that less than a quarter of Americans think the 11 million or so people who live in this country without the government's permission should be forcibly removed. That lack of enthusiasm for mass deportation explains Donald Trump's much-ballyhooed "softening" on immigration, which has produced a mushy mess. While seeking the Republican presidential nomination, Trump insisted that unauthorized immigrants "have to go," along with their American-born children (who are U.S. citizens), raising the total number of deportees to about 16 million. He said a "deportation force" could get the job done "humanely" within two years. Although popular among Republican primary voters, that promise was self-evidently insane. Even assuming that Trump would bow to the legal reality that U.S. citizens cannot be deported, removing 11 million people in two years "would mean arresting more than 15,000 people a day on immigration charges, seven days a week, 365 days a year," as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) notes. Such a project would be a constitutional catastrophe as well as a logistical nightmare. "There is no conceivable mechanism to accomplish the roundup that Trump has promised while respecting basic constitutional rights," the ACLU warns. Since "undocumented immigrants are not readily identifiable as such," deporting all of them would entail "tactics like suspicionless interrogations and arrests, unjustified and pretextual traffic stops, warrantless searches of workplaces and homes, and door-to-door raids in immigrant neighborhoods." If "practiced on a huge scale throughout the country, those activities would systematically violate the Fourth Amendment." Whether or not Trump has read the Constitution, we know he reads polls, which show the vast majority of Americans oppose his expulsion plan. "It's a very, very hard thing," he conceded in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity last month, saying even many of his supporters think it's wrong "to take a person who's been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and their family out." In response to such concerns, Trump suggested he would be open to some form of legalization. Although there would be "no citizenship" and "no amnesty as such," he said, if unauthorized residents "pay back taxes," he would be willing to "work with them." Trump's big immigration speech last week was supposed to clarify what he meant by that. Instead it muddied matters more. "For those here illegally today, who are seeking legal status, they will have one route and one route only: to return home and apply for re-entry like everybody else," he said. "Those who have left to seek entry under this new system…will not be awarded surplus visas, but will have to apply for entry under the immigration caps." That approach, which Trump described as "fair, just, and compassionate," sounds even less generous than the one he outlined a year ago. "We're going to try and bring them back rapidly, the good ones," he said then. "We will expedite it so people can come back in. The good people can come back." Trump's softening seems more like a hardening, just in time for a general election in which most voters reject his mass deportation scheme, his border wall, and his message that illegal immigrants represent an intolerable threat. Calling Mexico's president "wonderful" and allowing that "there are many illegal immigrants in our country who are good people" (up from "some" last year) probably won't be enough to reassure moderates or get Trump the Latino support he needs. The polling firm Latino Decisions estimates that Trump needs at least 42 percent of the Hispanic vote to win the election. Mitt Romney, who said he would encourage "self-deportat[...]
Tue, 06 Sep 2016 17:30:00 -0400This Sunday, on CNN's State of the Union, host Jake Tapper asked Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) which presidential nominee he'd vote for if the election were held today: FLAKE: I would not vote for Hillary Clinton. And, as of now, I would still not vote for Donald Trump. TAPPER: So, if you—if you don't want to vote for either of them, would you vote for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian? FLAKE: You can always write somebody in. So, I just know that I would like to vote for Donald Trump. It's not comfortable to not support your nominee. But, given the positions that he has taken and the tone and tenor of his campaign, I simply can't. Later in the interview, Flake said "I think Republicans do need to distance themselves from Donald Trump," and blamed Trump's rhetoric for putting the reliably Republican state of Arizona into presidential play. Trump's response was not surprising. The Republican Party needs strong and committed leaders, not weak people such as @JeffFlake, if it is going to stop illegal immigration. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2016 The Great State of Arizona, where I just had a massive rally (amazing people), has a very weak and ineffective Senator, Jeff Flake. Sad! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2016 Flake has not been shy about his criticism of Trump, and Arizona Republicans have been equally non-reticent about throwing those comments back in the senator's face. Meanwhile, the headline over at Trumpbart News nearly wrote itself: "Jeff Flake Started the Fight With Trump, and Deserves It." None of this should be remotely surprising. In a long interview with Reason this January (in Cuba!), Flake sounded multiple alarm bells about the direction of his own political party. Some quotes: * "It is a very, very disturbing trend that we're seeing in the Republican Party against free trade. It's always been there but usually confined to a few isolated members, the Jeff Sessions of the world and others, but now it seems to be spreading." * "My sense on immigration is not just that Republicans risk alienating the largest-growing demographic, the Hispanic population, in the country, but that we're a serious national party and we need to have a serious policy. Simply saying we're going to build a wall and deport everybody who's here is not a serious policy." * "If you want to know what keeps me up at night more than anything—and there are plenty of threats out there—it's waking up some morning and having the markets already decided that we're not going to buy your debt anymore, or we're only going to buy it at a premium and interest rates are going to have to go up. When that happens, then virtually all of our discretionary or non-military discretionary spending goes just to service the debt and then we are Japan." * "I was in Congress between 2000 and 2006 when we had Republicans controlling both chambers and the White House. I can tell you that whenever entitlement spending or social security reform came up, you'd hear, 'We've got a midterm election just around the corner, we're not going to take that risk.'" On that latter note, Flake has been consistent over time. In the fall of 2006, a couple of fresh-faced Reason youngsters named Katherine Mangu-Ward and David Weigel asked a slew of libertarian-friendly types to answer the question "Who Deserves the Libertarian Vote?" Flake, then a congressman, gave this for an opening answer: Well, if they grade on a curve, we're still a better choice. (Laughs) If you believe in limited government, the Democrats don't offer you very much. I've yet to see a Democrat actually bring a proposal to the floor that spends less or is less intrusive. But having said th[...]