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All articles with the "Immigration" tag.

Published: Tue, 23 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0500

Last Build Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2018 18:35:09 -0500


Suspicionless Immigration Bus Sweep Caught on Video

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 16:40:00 -0500

A video appearing to show agents of the U.S. Border Patrol boarding an interstate bus in Fort Lauderdale, Florida went viral on Twitter over the weekend. The agents move down the bus' aisle, asking each passenger to provide some form of documentation proving that they are in the country legally.

Watch below:

Not surprisingly, the video has drawn largely critical reactions. Officers demanding that passengers "show their papers" during a suspicionless sweep of a bus not crossing any international boundary? It may seem more like a relic from history or a scene from dystopian fiction than something most Americans expect to encounter in their daily travels.

But not if you've been paying attention. Sadly, such suspicionless immigration sweeps are more common than many people think. Far from being a rare action by rogue agents, these "roving patrols" are a routine part of Border Patrol operations, and their frequency has been slowly increasing since 9/11.

Blame the Supreme Court for the practice's persistence. In a series of decisions going back to the 1970s, the Court has conferred immigration and customs authorities with ever-increasing power to detain, question, and search people "within a reasonable distance from any external boundary of the United States." The feds have interpreted this to mean that immigration agents may conduct enforcement operations at any location within 100 miles of a land or sea border. That area encompasses most of America's major cities, and it is home to roughly two thirds of the country's residents.

Immigration authorities' power within this zone, the Supreme Court said, includes the power to detain travelers long enough to elicit "response to a brief question or two and possibly the production of a document evidencing a right to be in the United States," even without any articulable suspicion.

Supreme Court Will Hear Case Challenging Trump's Travel Ban 3.0

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 15:46:00 -0500

Earlier today, the Supreme Court decided to consider one of the cases challenging President Donald Trump's third travel ban, which permanently bars nearly all entry into the United States by citizens of six majority-Muslim nations, as well as North Koreans and a few Venezuelans. The Supreme Court will be reviewing a recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against the travel ban, which concluded that it violates immigration laws enacted by Congress and exceeds the scope of executive power. The ruling also rejected the Trump administration's extreme claim that the president has nearly unlimited power to exclude aliens from the United States, even if it goes against legislation enacted by Congress. The return of this issue to the Supreme Court is not surprising. Many commentators, myself included, predicted that this was likely to happen as soon as the Supreme Court dismissed as moot two cases challenging Trump's second travel ban order, which Travel Ban 3.0 superseded. That is because Travel Ban 3.0 is vuilnerable to nearly all the same legal challenges as its predecessors, and is in some respects even worse. The Ninth Circuit decision only addressed claims that the president had violated federal law and exceeded the scope of executive power. It did not consider the other major legal claim against the travel ban: that it violates the First Amendment because it is intended to discriminate against Muslims on the basis of their religion. In October, a federal trial court decision in Maryland ruled that Travel Ban 3.0, like its predecessors, does indeed violate the First Amendment's ban on religious discrimination. That ruling is now on appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which previously ruled against Travel Ban 2.0 on the same basis. If the travel ban violates the First Amendment, it is unconstitutional even if Congress had authorized it and even if it is otherwise within the permissible scope of executive power. The Supreme Court's order, issued today, indicates that the justices will consider the First Amendment claim, as well as the statutory and separation of powers issues. If the Court does indeed rule on both, the decisoin could potentially be a major milestone. If the justices rule that the travel ban is illegal because it violates federal immigration law, they could well decide not to address the constitutional issue. But even such a comparatively narrow ruling would be significant, because it would likely conclude that current law bars the president from engaging in nationality discrimination in deciding which aliens to admit, and would require the Court to reject the Trump administration's assertion of nearly unlimited executive power to exclude aliens. On December 4, the justices issued a ruling staying implementation of lower court preliminary injunctions barring enforcement of Travel Ban 3.0. Some believe this ruling indicates that the Supreme Court will uphold the travel ban. But there are a number of other possible interpretations of the Supreme Court's action. One somewhat surprising aspect of the Court's decision is that the justices decided to hear the Ninth Circuit case without waiting for the Fourth Circuit to make a decision on the other major case challenging the latest travel ban. It could be that the justices got tired of waiting for the Fourth Circuit to issue its ruling (it is taking longer than expected) or that they think the Fourth Circuit opinion is unlikely to add much to the already extensively developed arguments for and against the travel ban. In my view, the most likely explanation is that the Court's December 4 decision to stay the injunctions was in part premised on the expectation that the Fourth and Ninth circuits would issue their rulings quickly, so as to minimize the potential harm to people kept out by the ban, and their families and associates in the United States. When the Fourth Circuit upset that expectation, the justices chose to act without waiting for the lower court decision to come out. At this point, it is unclear whe[...]

Border Patrol Destroys Humanitarian Aid in the Arizona Desert

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 10:00:00 -0500

Border Patrol agents routinely sabotage the efforts of groups providing humanitarian aid to migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a new report from the group No More Deaths. The paper documents in detail the destruction of food, water, and other supplies the group's members have left for people attempting border crossings in the remote and hazardous Arizona desert. "Our analysis leads us to believe that Border Patrol agents engage in regular and widespread destruction of water supplies with little or no apparent consequence," reads the report. The paper argues that this vandalism is part of a wider, decades-long ramp-up of immigration enforcement that had led to more hazardous border crossings, and consequently to an explosion in migrant deaths. No More Deaths—covered in a recent Reason feature on the immigration crackdown—operates over an 2,500-square-mile section of the Arivaca area of Arizona. The all-volunteer group maintains over a hundred water-drops (supply caches stocked with water, food, and blankets) and a medical relief station in the remote and inhospitable region. The new report looks at three years of logs kept by No More Deaths volunteers covering their efforts to resupply these water-drops, finding between 2013 and 2015 some 415 separate incidents where their food and/or water had been vandalized or destroyed. Of 31,558 gallons of water it left in the desert by No More Deaths, over 10 percent, or some 3,586 gallons, were destroyed by human hands. Hunters, hikers, and occasional anti-immigrant activists might be responsible for some of this vandalism. But "the scope of destruction is over a pretty wide area," says Jeff Reinhardt, a member of No More Death's desert aid working group. "It's an area that generally Border Patrol is the only actor consistently present and consistently has access to that land." No More Death found that their water-drops had been vandalized at an even rate both throughout the year and across the area that they service, save for a minor uptick in vandalism during hunting season. Yet the Arivaca area is under the jurisdiction of a hodgepodge of state, federal, and tribal agencies, along with a small number of private property owners. The area also lacks the road infrastructure that would make it accessible to most vehicles. No More Deaths has also caught Border Patrol agents on video four separate times destroying water jugs by stomping on them, cutting them open, or pouring them out on the ground. The group's members have also found water jugs dyed to look like antifreeze with Spanish language messages scrawled on the bottles, warning people not to drink them. In addition to the destruction of humanitarian supplies, immigration officials also raided No More Death's main medical aid station in the Arivaca in June 2017, and agents have reportedly harassed, detained, and surveilled the group's volunteers. Steven Passement, acting special operations supervisor for the Tuscon Sector of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), says that while individual agents have destroyed supplies, doing so is in contradiction to agency policy. "We don't condone or encourage the destruction or tampering with any of the water or local food caches," Passement tells Reason, adding that "if someone has information regarding an agent, one of our employees, doing something like that, doing any damage, we definitely want to know about this to hold this individual accountable." Passement says that far from being opposed to the mission of No More Deaths and similar groups operating along the border, CBP is working toward the same aims. "Nobody here in the Border Patrol wants to see anybody die out there or suffer in the desert. We have that goal of also saving lives," he says, adding that CBP has installed 34 rescue beacons in the same area No More Deaths operates, allowing lost or distressed migrants to call for help. In 2016, these beacons were activated 232 times, leading to some 364 people being picked up by Border Patrol agents. Thos[...]

Trump Turns One

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 09:30:00 -0500

The 45th president does not tend to elicit measured evaluations. Since even before his formal entry into national politics in 2015, Trump has acted as a powerful magnet on the body politic—attracting and repelling onlookers with equal force. A year ago, as we prepared to see a former reality television star sworn into the highest office on Earth, predictions abounded regarding the effects he was about to have on the country and the world. On one side were confident assertions that he would repeal the Affordable Care Act, bring back manufacturing jobs, and end political correctness once and for all. On the other were fears that he was a racist and a dimwit who would certainly abuse the powers of his station and might well start a nuclear war. On the Trump presidency's first birthday, the reality is less extreme than either set of prognosticators envisioned. The Republican Party under his leadership managed one major legislative accomplishment—tax reform that cut the corporate rate and is projected to add nearly $1.5 trillion to the debt—and failed after months of wrangling to enact an Obamacare replacement. Tensions with foreign governments from Iran to Russia to North Korea continue to simmer. The stock market has followed a dramatic upward trajectory, yet anger continues to grow over perceived wealth and income inequality. With the midterm elections now 10 months away, political polarization seems to hit new highs daily, but in many ways the checks and balances of our federalist system are working to keep even the current unscrupulous White House occupant from actualizing his most ambitious plans. As the 365-day mark approaches, have we reached a milestone worth celebrating or taken just another step in our national descent to unthinkable places? Reason asked 11 experts to weigh in on Trump's record so far. From positive signs on transportation policy and regulatory rollback to a worrying rise in nationalist sentiments and redoubled efforts to cleanse the United States of undocumented immigrants, the answers were a mixed bag, highlighting just how much uncertainty awaits the country in the year to come. —Stephanie Slade TAXES AND HEALTH CARE: Victory, Sort of, Maybe Peter Suderman At the beginning of 2017, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan told GOP lawmakers that the new Congress would repeal Obamacare and pass deficit-neutral tax reform by August. At summer's end, Republicans, despite holding majorities in both chambers, had accomplished neither. But eventually they would accomplish parts of each. In March, the House was set to hold a vote on legislation that would have repealed much of the Affordable Care Act while setting up a new system of related federal tax credits. Ryan was initially forced to pull the bill from the floor due to lack of support, but after making a series of tweaks intended to provide states with more flexibility, the body passed a health care bill in May. GOP leaders congratulated themselves for making progress on the issue, but the plaudits were premature. The bill stalled out in the Senate. By September, the Obamacare repeal effort was dead and Republicans had moved on to more comfortable territory: rewriting the tax code. At the center of the new effort was a significant cut to America's corporate tax rate, which at 35 percent was the highest in the developed world. Donald Trump had campaigned on slashing it to 15 percent. The GOP aimed for 20. At first, the tax effort went much like the health care effort. There were disagreements between the House, which hoped to partially offset any revenue losses with spending cuts, and the Senate, which gave itself permission to increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion. Republican senators also disagreed among themselves: Jeff Flake (R–Ariz.) and Bob Corker (R–Tenn.) worried about sinking the country further into the red, for instance, while Marco Rubio (R–Fla.) and Mike Lee (R–Utah) wanted a potentially pricey increase in the child tax credit. Moderates like Sen.[...]

Is Chelsea Manning the First Real 21st Century Politician?: Podcast

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 14:40:00 -0500

Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who served nearly seven years for leaking classified documents before being granted clemency one year ago tomorrow, confirmed on Sunday that she is running in Maryland's Democratic Party primary for the U.S. Senate seat held by two-term incumbent Ben Cardin. "I think that the Chelsea Manning candidacy is pretty great, and it's a harbinger of other things to come," Nick Gillespie says a little past the halfway point on today's Reason Podcast, which also features Katherine Mangu-Ward, Peter Suderman, and yours truly. "Without her there is no Edward Snowden, there is no robust debate about FISA 702 and a wide variety of stuff....I don't agree with her at all on economic issues for the most part, mostly yes on social issues, [but] she represents a totally different way of slicing American politics." Also under discussion: the ongoing White House/Congress policy wrangle over immigration, the pros and cons of merit-based vs. family-based migration, missile warnings gone awry, and Kentucky's new plan to make Medicaid recipients get a job. Audio production by Ian Keyser. Relevant links from the show: "Chelsea Manning Showed Us the Consequences of War, and We Threw Her in Prison," by Scott Shackford "Trump Is Offering the Country a Sophie's Choice on Dreamers," by Shikha Dalmia "Of Course Most Immigrants Come from Shithole Countries. So What?" by Nick Gillespie "Merit-based immigration is economically obtuse," by Shikha Dalmia "Immigration: Beyond the Family Way," by Nick Gillespie Subscribe, rate, and review the Reason Podcast at iTunes. Listen at SoundCloud below: src="" width="100%" height="300" frameborder="0"> Don't miss a single Reason Podcast! (Archive here.) Subscribe at iTunes. Follow us at SoundCloud. Subscribe at YouTube. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.[...]

Shitholers of the World Are Making America Great

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 14:15:00 -0500

Here's a nifty table put together by American Enterprise Institute's Mark Perry, a University of Michigan economics professor who runs the super smart blog Carpe Diem. It makes an illuminating companion to my post on Indian shitholers.

Let that sink in before you talk smack again, Mr. President!


If You Think Haiti Is a Shithole, Then Blame America for Helping to Make It That Way

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 16:58:00 -0500

President Donald Trump reportedly described Haiti and a slew of other nations as "shithole countries" while meeting with lawmakers about immigration policy yesterday. If you expected more from from him, then you probably expect too much. But eight years to the day after an earthquake brought Haiti to its knees, most Americans view the country closer to the way Trump describes the place than they'd like to admit. The typical American's understanding of Haiti doesn't go much further than the global press's tagline: the "poorest country in the Western Hemisphere." And there is undeniably poverty in Haiti. The average economic output for a Haitian is $820 per year, compared with their neighbors in the Dominican Republic, who average $6,000. I spent nearly four years working in Haiti, first as an economics journalist and then as the manager of a coffee-farming venture. As I wrote in Haitian Coffee Grows on Trees, my book about my time there: "Over half of all Haitians are undernourished, compared to just 15 percent of Dominicans. Just one in four Haitians has access to a toilet. More than half of all adults cannot read. Money sent home by friends and family who live abroad powers almost a quarter of the economy. That's not too surprising once you know a figure that development economist Michael Clemens often cites: 80 percent of Haitians who have escaped poverty have done so not by staying in their own country but by leaving for the United States." Only about one in five Haitians have a job that pays a steady wage. The rest work informally, or not at all. Today, if you look at a list of coffee-growing countries, you might not even find Haiti on it. Which is shocking, given that just over 200 years ago, the colony that predated Haiti was the world's biggest coffee producer. The story of how the tiny place that once sold half the world's coffee fell off those lists takes many pages to tell. But the country's current predicament has far more to do with the U.S. government than everyday Haitians. To be clear, the Haitian state and its leaders have perpetually hamstrung their own people, when not outright decimating them. But Haiti's history also includes a United States that initially refused to acknowledge or trade with the second free republic in the New World—the first free black republic, borne of a successful slave revolution. It includes two decades of occupation by U.S. Marines, a time when free Haitians were conscripted into chain gangs and shot dead for attempting to escape. It includes hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to a father-son dictatorship whose three-decade reign ruined the country's economy and murdered thousands of citizens. And it includes a foreign aid faucet that continues to flow today, despite the ill incentives it creates. Tweaks to immigration policy would do orders of magnitude more to help ordinary Haitians than that aid—as if helping Haitians were a concern of the present administration. For everyday Haitians, life working as in the United States as a manual laborer, hotel housekeeper, or fruit picker is often much better and more lucrative than doing much of anything in Haiti. Roughly 80 percent of the half-a-million-plus Haitians who live in the U.S. are working age. Eight in 10 of them who are over 25 have high school degrees, which means they're slightly more educated than the average immigrant and only slightly less than native-born Americans. Clemens has called immigration Haiti's "most successful poverty reduction program." He and fellow economist Lant Pritchett have estimated that a low-skilled worker from Haiti can increase his or her earnings by sixfold by immigrating to the United States. A coherent immigration system would allow employers to hire willing foreigners from Haiti and any other country on the president's shit list to fill niches in the service sector, on construction sites, and wherever else they're needed[...]

Of Course Most Immigrants Come from Shithole Countries. So What?

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 11:30:00 -0500

Big Daddy is in trouble again, this time for allegedly calling Haiti and most African nations "shithole countries." President Donald Trump denies the specific phrase, but let's give him a pass on this one, because he's right in the largest sense possible: Most immigrants who come to America do indeed come from places they'd rather not live or work. By definition. Whether their homelands are technically shitholes or something less offensive to contemporary ears isn't really a question. People come here because they think it's going to be better than where they're from. It was true of all of my grandparents and all of your ancestors, too, if you're American. We all have roots elsewhere. The promise of America, since before its founding as a country, is precisely that you can start over here. Even within the country, the ability to strike out for the territory and begin again motivated many of our most mythic figures, from Natty Bumppo to Sam Houston to Huck Finn to Pa Ingalls in the Little House books. I apologize for dragging my family history into every goddamn post I write these days, but their experience speaks directly to the current nativist moment. When my grandparents left Ireland and Italy in the early 20th century, they were leaving shithole countries if such things have ever existed. They weren't starving because they worked on farms and in fishing towns, but they had no future and not much of a present in those places. Like millions of others, they left farms in the old country and packed themselves like sardines into cities in the new. That was 100 years ago and, as every yahoo on Twitter has seen fit to tell me in the past 24 hours, Things were different back then! No welfare state! Those countries were part of the "West," which is best! Well, there was a welfare state, at least as it pertains to what today's immigrants (legal and illegal) qualify for, which is basically school for your kids and emergency medical care. Since the mid-1990s, when Bill Clinton was re-elected partly on the strength of his promises to end illegal immigration, illegals don't qualify for transfer payments (to the extent that immigrants, legal or otherwise, manage to cadge food stamps and the like, it's a rounding error in federal and state budgets). My mother, the daughter of Italians, didn't speak English until she went to public school (for free!) in Waterbury, Connecticut. My father, the son of Irish immigrants, went to St. Augustine's in Brooklyn for free because the Catholic order running the place during the Depression had a glancing familiarity with the New Testament and Christ's injunctions to help the poor and downtrodden. More important, the whole argument about the welfare state being overloaded is a regular laff riot, isn't it? The mostly conservative types who are anti-immigrant are always (and often rightly) bitching and moaning about welfare suddenly become its biggest defenders when a goddamn Haitian or Salvadoran shows up here to work long hours pulling Slurpees at the local 7-11. And that Milton Friedman chestnut about how you can't simultaneously "have free immigration and a welfare state"? He was, uncharacteristically, wrong, as a matter of fact and on principle. Lots of countries have both. Then there's the argument that runs along the "but your grandparents and parents came from Europe and a tradition of limited government and soap and Winston Churchill and didn't vote Democrat..." Let's be clear: America has always been highly ambivalent about immigration, at least since Ben Franklin fretted that German-speaking Catholics could never really fit in to the culture of colonial Pennsylvania. I imagine that native Americans, including and maybe especially Squanto, who met the Mayflower and greeted them in English(!), felt this disquiet even earlier. In my family's case, being Catholic in pre-World War II America was not a poin[...]

Immigrants Are Paying the Price for Obamacare

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 10:45:00 -0500

Democrats spent the first year of Donald Trump's presidency trying to save ObamaCare from his assaults. They'll spend the second year trying to save immigrants. And if they want to point fingers at anyone for having to ward off this one-two punch, they should aim them squarely at former President Barack Obama. The single biggest blunder of Obama's presidency was his decision to prioritize a makeover of America's health-care system over an immigration overhaul. Obama's health-care plan had zero bipartisan support, while reworking immigration had considerable enthusiasm on both sides of the aisle. By choosing health care, Obama rendered both programs politically vulnerable. Earlier this week, a California judge issued an injunction barring President Trump from scrapping Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that gave DREAMers, immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as minors but have grown up as Americans, a temporary reprieve from deportation. Not only did the judge tell Trump to ice his plans to throw DACA recipients out of the country, as he was planning to do if Congress did not pass a law offering them permanent protections by March, but to renew the DACA status of DREAMers who already have it. But Democrats shouldn't get too excited by the order, as the Trump administration will surely appeal — and it could well prevail in a higher court. This means that if they can't work something out with the president and Republicans, DREAMers will face deportation. But the ransom that Trump will demand in exchange for leaving DREAMers alone is shaping up to be substantial. Pay no attention to his recent comments at a White House meeting with congressional leaders where he said he wants an immigration deal filled "with love" — this is empty posturing. If he were serious, he wouldn't have scrapped, just the night before in fact, the special status that 200,000 El Salvadorian refugees have enjoyed to live in the United States since they were displaced by an earthquake in 2001. Ditto for Haitian and Nicaraguan refugees. Nor would Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, have announced mere hours after Trump's love fest that he will not allow a DREAMer fix to be attached to a spending bill. Democrats are threatening to shut down the government if Trump doesn't back off. They may prevail if they muster an extraordinary show of unity, but in reality, they are playing a weak hand — which is evident from the modesty of their demands. Already, they have quietly made concessions, like dropping all talk about legalizing anyone other than the nearly 1 million DREAMers — leaving the other roughly 9 million undocumented immigrants vulnerable to deportation, even if they have committed no crimes and have deep roots in the United States. All hope for a usable guest worker program for Mexicans is gone, as is the notion of expanding the H-1B visa program for technology-related work. Trump, meanwhile, is demanding $33 billion over 10 years for enhanced border security, $18 billion of which will go toward building the Great Wall of Trump. Indeed, he doubled down on his demand for this wall in a tweet after his White House kumbaya session. In addition, he wants Congress to pass laws requiring employers to use E-Verify to check the work authorization status of all new recruits against a federal database. He has been attacking family-based immigration as "chain migration" and seeks to cut legal immigration by 50 percent and end the diversity visa program. He claimed at his meeting that he would "sign" whatever Congress puts on his desk and wouldn't demand "this or that." But what he didn't mention was the pressure he was putting on them behind the scenes to send him a nativist version of comprehensive immigration reform. This could have all been avoided if Obama had picked up where former [...]

Trump Is a Horror on Immigration, But Obama Was No Angel: New at Reason

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 10:45:00 -0500

After his kumbaya session on immigration earlier this week, Donald Trump was back in form yesterday, berating immigrants from(image) "shithole countries" as Republicans and Democrats tried to hammer out a bipartisan deal to protect Dreamers from his deportation designs.

Trump is a horror on immigration, no question about it. But Obama was no angel either. He threw immigrants under the bus to pass Obamacare and now they are suffering, notes Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia.

A California Judge Overstepped in Ordering Trump to Keep DACA

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 16:07:00 -0500

Neither liberal nor conservative judges seem able to do immigration law right. The conservative Fifth Circuit Court erred in 2015 when it halted Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), the Obama administration's program giving undocumented parents of American citizens a two-year reprieve from deportation. And this week a Northern District of Californian judge, Clinton appointee William Alsup, was equally wrong in issuing an injunction barring the Trump administration from scrapping DAPA's precursor: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA gave a similar reprieve to about 700,000 undocumented aliens brought to this country as children. Alsup not only ordered the administration to keep the program in place but also to renew the expired DACA status of 15,000 or so Dremaers till the case is resolved. The judge's intentions are laudable. But when it comes to immigration enforcement, the executive has vast discretion to set priorities. It can decide to throw the book at immigrants or not as it wishes. Courts can't really stop it. I argued back in 2015 that conservatives accusing the Obama administration of engaging in a "power grab" by implementing DAPA were wrong. The Immigration and Nationality Act and other laws have explicitly given the president huge grants of authority to enforce the country's immigration rules. An executive can't unilaterally hand green cards or citizenship to foreigners, but he can decide whose deportation gets prioritized and whose is formally deferred. And those who are granted a deferral also, by statue, become eligible for work authorization and drivers' licenses, because it makes no sense for people to be allowed to live in the country while being barred from earning a living or driving to their jobs. But by the same token, an executive can also choose not to defer deportations. He can launch mass deportations of unauthorized foreigners if he wants. That's odious, but sadly, it's legal. Alsup's ruling admits that an executive has wide-ranging authority to "replace old policies [on immigration enforcement] with new policies." So why did he rule against the Trump administration? Because instead of simply invoking the administration's discretionary authority, Attorney General Jeff Sessions offered a legal argument against DACA that the judge found manifestly faulty. This made Sessions' decision "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion," Alsup claimed, giving him solid grounds to overrule it. Alsup is right about Sessions' argument, yet wrong in his final conclusion. Sessions claimed DACA was illegal because Obama created it "without any proper statutory authorization." In fact, he insisted, it was an "unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch" because Obama was trying to accomplish an end that Congress expressly said it didn't want when it repeatedly declined to pass the DREAM Act, a bill that would have given undocumented minors (known as "DREAMers") a path to permanent lawful residency and citizenship. Every part of that claim is false, and Alsup did a spectacular job of debunking it. For starters, DACA grew out of a long history of discretionary relief programs. In 1956, the Eisenhower administration gave relief to tens of thousands of refugees after the failed Hungarian revolution. Ronald Reagan instituted the Family Fairness Program, which without any statutory authorization extended voluntary departure to children whose parents were in the process of obtaining legal status under the 1986 "amnesty" bill. George H.W. Bush extended this program to cover spouses of such aliens. Nor did such programs only apply to a small number of individuals whose petitions were considered one by one, as DACA opponents like to argue. They offered relief to large classes of people—in Bush's c[...]

Immigrants Are Suffering Because Obama Threw Them Under the Bus for Obamacare

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 11:35:00 -0500

Last night, a California judge issued an injunction barring President Trump from scrapping Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood(image) Arrivals (DACA) program that gave DREAMers, immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as minors but have grown up as Americans, a temporary reprieve from deportation. Not only did the judge tell Trump to ice his plans to throw DACA recipients out of the country, as he was planning to do if Congress did not pass a law offering them permanent protections by March, but to renew the DACA status of DREAMers who already have it. But Democrats shouldn't get too excited by the order, as the Trump administration will surely appeal — and it could well prevail in a higher court.

This means that Democrats have to still try and work out a deal with this pres to protect Dreamers. But the fact of the matter is that they are playing a weak hand, I note in my column at The Week. And for that they can blame President Barack Obama who prioritized health care reform, which had zero bipartisan support, over immigration reform, which both sides desperately wanted at that time, making a mess of both.

Obamacare is sputtering. Nativists have been emboldened. And Dreamers are fighting for their life while their parents have little hope of being legalized.

At this stage, even diehard liberals should be asking themselves: Was Obamacare really worth it?

Go here to read the piece.

Federal Judge Blocks Trump from Rescinding Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 11:20:00 -0500

(image) A federal judge has temporarily blocked President Donald Trump from rescinding the Obama administration's 2012 program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

According to Tuesday's ruling by Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Regents of the University of California v. Department of Homeland Security, the legal challengers "have shown a likelihood of success on their claim that the rescission [of DACA] was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or not otherwise in accordance with law." Judge Alsup therefore temporarily enjoined the federal government from ending DACA while this legal challenge proceeds on the merits in federal court.

The Trump administration rescinded DACA in 2017 on the grounds that the program was an unlawful intrusion on Congress's authority to regulate immigration. In the words of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Obama administration created DACA "without proper statutory authority and with no established end-date, after Congress' repeated rejection of proposed legislation that would have accomplished a similar result." That made DACA, in Sessions' words, an "unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch."

In yesterday's ruling, Judge Alsop turned the rhetorical tables by charging the Trump administration with overstepping its lawful powers. The decision to end DACA, Judge Alsop wrote, "was based on the flawed legal premise that the [executive branch] lacked authority to implement DACA....This order holds that DACA fell within the [executive's] enforcement authority. The contrary conclusion was flawed and should be set aside."

In other words, Judge Alsop has endorsed the Obama administration's view of executive power in the context of DACA and rejected the Trump administration's competing view.

The Trump administration has already signaled its intentions to appeal this loss. "It just shows everyone how broken and unfair our Court System is when the opposing side in a case (such as DACA) always runs to the 9th Circuit and almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts," Trump tweeted.

Whatever happens next, yesterday's ruling will not be the final word on the matter.

The decision in Regents of the University of California v. Department of Homeland Security is available here.

If Rural Americans Are Being 'Left Behind,' Why Don't They Just Move?

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 16:45:00 -0500

All of my grandparents, two from Ireland and two from Italy, emigrated to the United States during the 1910s. The political situations in both countries were not stable, but the reason they came to America was for economic opportunity. If 23andMe is accurate, my ancestors had lived in the same places for centuries and had essentially been bred to be subsistence farmers and near-serfs. Yet my grandparents, all of whom were born in the 1890s, moved the hell out of old Europe the first chance they got. Having visited the two villages in Ireland that my paternal grandparents hailed from, I can only underscore how happy I am that they did. The world is a lot smaller than it was 100 years ago, but the villages of Killybegs and Ougtherard in Ireland haven't changed very much in the past century. Neither has Fragneto Monforte in Italy (my maternal grandparents were from the same town and had an arranged marriage that was ultimately consummated in Connecticut). If you wanted a future, you had to move. Which brings me to a recent tweet by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) complaining that For far too long, rural America has been left behind. Thank you @realDonaldTrump for taking action on such an imperative issue for farmers and their businesses, by signing 2 executive orders for rural broadband access. Our internet standards are unacceptable. It's time for change — Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) January 8, 2018 The congresswoman is actually talking about a memo and an executive order—remember when Republicans thought E.O.s were bad things?—that pledge "the executive branch will 'use all viable tools' to accelerate the deployment and adoption of affordable and reliable broadband connectivity in rural America." According to the Tennessean: It goes on to say executive departments "should seek to reduce barriers to capital investment, remove obstacles to broadband services, and more efficiently employ government resources." "Those towers are going to go up and you're going to have great, great broadband," Trump said, holding up the official order for the audience to see. Under a separate memo signed by the president — in addition to the executive order — Trump also is requiring U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to develop a plan to support rural broadband deployment. The good news is that the moves by Trump apparently come with no money attached (story of his life, right, promising big changes but keeping his hands in his pockets when the check arrives). That's basically how it should be. If the markets are worth serving, the first action should be for government at all levels to get out of the way of investors. If some sort of subsidy in the interest of providing universal service and help is called for, that can and should come later, and the feds already spend a lot on subsidizing phone, mail, and internet service for rural America. The bad news is that all the broadband in the world isn't going to transform rural America into God's Little Acre any more than a massively subsidized high-speed broadband boondoggle has turned Chattanooga in Blackburn's Tennessee into a bustling hub of activity (the city's population growth since 2000 is actually lower than the state's rate of 15 percent.) Yet both Trump and Blackburn want to portray yesterday's actions as somehow reversing the tide of history. The 1920 Census was the first one in which more people lived in urban areas than rural ones. That trend will not change anytime soon. "You are forgotten no more," the president told 5,000 members of the American Farm Bureau assembled in Nashville. "We're fighting for our farmers." Blackburn too invokes "farmers" in her tweet and general rhetoric. But only about 1.5 percent[...]

America's Whiniest Ex-Sheriff Announces Senate Run

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 14:00:00 -0500

A bit more than a year after voters booted him out of office, former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio has announced he's running for the U.S. Senate. The 85-year-old Arizonan—an unrepentant birther, nativist, and whiny baby—told the Washington Examiner that he will run on a platform of supporting the agenda of President Donald Trump, who pardoned Arpaio last year after a federal judge held the ex-sheriff in criminal contempt. "I have a lot to offer. I'm a big supporter of President Trump," Arpaio told the paper. "I'm going to have to work hard; you don't take anything for granted. But I would not being doing this if I thought that I could not win. I'm not here to get my name in the paper, I get that every day, anyway." A federal judge found Arpaio, who was notorious for jailing inmates in a sweltering desert tent camp, in contempt of court last July for flouting a 2011 order to stop the unconstitutional racial profiling and detainment of Latino residents. Arpaio gained national prominence, a rare feat for a local sheriff, for his aggressive immigration sweeps. He styled himself as "America's toughest sheriff" and was politically untouchable for most of his 24-year career in local Arizona politics, despite ongoing scandals, lawsuits, and abuses of power. The tent-city jail that Arpaio enjoyed showing off to reporters was a magnet for inmate lawsuit. Abuses and corruption festered under Arpaio's management. He used his office to target reporters and political opponents, flouting court orders and stonewalling federal investigators. In 2016, facing a flood of out-of-state money, a well-organized Latino get-out-the-vote campaign, and the criminal contempt charges, Arpaio lost by a stunning 10 points. Arpaio had been an ardent Trump supporter, though, and the president returned the favor. Both Arpaio and Trump characterized the charges against the former sheriff as judicial activism. Trump told Fox News prior to the pardon that Arpaio was "a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him." As I wrote at the time: "In pardoning Arpaio, Trump has given a free pass to an unrepentant and habitual abuser of authority, a man with insufficient regard for the Constitution he swore to uphold or the separation of powers it enshrines." In 2013, Reason named Arpaio one of its 45 enemies of freedom, where he joined such luminaries as Idi Amin, Michael Bloomberg, and Hillary Clinton: Maricopa County, Arizona's chief law enforcement officer is famous mostly for publicly degrading inmates: forcing them to live in a tent city, work on chain gangs, wear pink underwear. Meanwhile, his more serious transgressions receive far less attention. Arpaio has created citizen posses to track down and arrest illegal immigrants, overseen a jail staff that has violently abused inmates (resulting in the death of three prisoners and the paralysis of a fourth), and used law enforcement resources to harass and intimidate his political opponents. Arpaio will join a now three-way race with Rep. Marth McSally and state Sen. Kelli Ward to be the Republican nominee to replace outgoing senator Jeff Flake. If elected, Arpaio would vote to confirm nominees to the federal bench, the same institution that held him in contempt. Arpaio, not content with his pardon, is still fighting to have the conviction completely erased from his record. A U.S. District Judge denied that request in October, but Arpaio's lawyers have filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.[...]