Published: Tue, 28 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0500
Last Build Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2017 08:05:05 -0500
Tue, 28 Feb 2017 04:00:00 -0500
(image) The Prosser, Washington, school system has placed a teacher on leave after she posted on Facebook that people should report illegal aliens to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The teacher, who was not named, posted the evening before the Day Without Immigrants protests.
Mon, 27 Feb 2017 13:56:00 -0500
(image) President Donald Trump has always claimed his business acumen would make him the greatest job creator in American history, but his immigration policies—including his controversial travel ban of visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries—are already negatively affecting U.S. business interests.
The travel app Hopper reported a 17 percent drop in searches for flights to the U.S. from 122 countries in the week after the travel ban was put into effect compared to the weeks prior, according to The New York Times, which also notes several other travel search websites and agencies reporting similarly stark drops in interest in travel to the U.S. However, the Chicago Tribune notes that searches for travel to the U.S. from Russia have jumped 88 percent in the past month.
According to the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis, tourism-related spending in the U.S. was over $1.7 billion trillion in 2016, and the loosely-defined tourism industry accounted for over 7.7 million. To be clear, much of that tourism spending comes from Americans traveling domestically, but the drop in foreign travel searches—already being referred to as the "Trump Slump" by Travel Weekly, will not only affect tourism to the tune of billions of dollars in lost revenue, but is also be an impediment to U.S. and international businesses. The Global Business Assocation reported a $185 million loss for business travel bookings in just the first week after Trump's travel ban was announced.
Trump talked his way into the White House by promising not only unprecedented economic growth but impenetrable security at our borders and airports. Judging by this admittedly small sample size of data, his goals may very well be jeopardized by the overbroad nature of his policies.
Fri, 24 Feb 2017 17:58:00 -0500
Donald Trump has promised to "Make America Great Again" by putting "America First."
Though he was speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), it must be said that he is no small-government conservative. In fact, his speech made clear that he represents the worst tendencies of conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats to limit our freedoms in the name of supposedly serving the greater good.
Trump is an economic protectionist and interventionist who wants to promote what he perceives are "our values" by building a wall to keep out immigrants, charging tariffs on imports, badgering U.S. companies to stay here, and making pipelines with only American steel. But all of that will only make everything cost more while reducing employment. He talks about bringing back manufacturing jobs, but they peaked as a percentage of the workforce in 1943 and are never coming back for a very good reason. Thanks to technological innovation, manufacturing output has doubled since the 1980s but with one-third fewer workers. Shutting down free trade or playing "CEO in chief" isn't going to change that.
At the heart of Trump's confusion is his belief that putting America First means keeping the world at a distance.
But you can be a citizen of America and a citizen of the world. In fact, if you believe in political, economic, and cultural freedom, you must always hold such dual citizenship. There's no more basic freedom than the right to live where you want and buy what you want. That's not anti-America. That is America.
In different ways over the years, Republicans and Democrats have tried to control where we can live, who we can marry, what we can eat, drink, and smoke, and so much more. Trump represents not a release from such thinking but a shotgun marriage of that worst impulse in each party.
"Where liberty dwells, there is my country," Ben Franklin is said to have written. In putting America First, Donald Trump will succeed only in leaving even more of us truly homeless.
Written by Nick Gillespie. Produced and edited by Meredith Bragg and Joshua Swain.
Fri, 24 Feb 2017 00:01:00 -0500When the Associated Press dropped a breathless piece contending that the Trump administration was "considering" and "weighing" using 100,000 National Guard troops to help round up illegal immigrants, the media erupted into its usual hysterics. Soon, the White House denied it had ever considered the memo (and so far, there is no reason to believe it is lying). We soon learned the memo itself doesn't say anything about 100,000 National Guardsmen rounding up illegal immigrants. We can theorize about who leaked the story, but it looks to be the epitome of President Donald Trump's Yogi Berraisms about a real story being fake news. As always, none of this stopped the shameful Hitler and Nazi analogies from immediately clogging up social media. Comparing everything to 1932 is now a big part of our national discourse, Not only by angry partisans but also people who should know better than to habitually make these correlations. This isn't Mel Brooks' Springtime for Hitler. Whether you're a fan or a detractor of Trump, these gross equivalences belittle the memory of millions who died in unimaginably horrifying ways. Moreover, exaggeration and historical illiteracy undermines the very cause these people claim to care about, unless that cause is desensitizing people to the terror of the Holocaust. Jamil Smith, a senior national correspondent for MTV News, was just one of the high-profile journalists to use this intellectually lazy analogy. "First, they came for the undocumented," he tweeted. (In his next tweet about the memo draft, he contends, "Whether or not it's true doesn't matter," which is emblematic of much punditry today.) He is, of course, referring to Martin Niemöller's famous poem, which reads: "First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out / Because I was not a Socialist. / Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out / Because I was not a Trade Unionist. / Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out / Because I was not a Jew. / Then they came for me / and there was no one left to speak for me." People love to use this poem as a cudgel against anyone who fails to match their own hyperbole on political issues, appropriating the suffering of others for their causes. Implied, of course, is that those who do not share their outrage are ignoring an event that is in some ways akin to the Holocaust. It's a convenient formulation because, after all, you'd be hard-pressed to disprove events that haven't yet transpired. And if, for some reason, Trump's term doesn't actually turn into a Hitlerian nightmare of the left's imagination, then they'll tell you it was because they took Niemöller's warning to heart and stopped the impending evil. So it's a win-win. First of all, even if the authorities—even the National Guard (which I think would be an incredibly horrible idea)—were to start deporting illegal immigrants, not one of those unfortunate people would ever be sent to anything resembling the ovens of Treblinka and Auschwitz. Not their children. Not anyone else in this country. Most often, in fact, deported illegal immigrants, who have broken the law, are going back to their home in Mexico, where they can often apply for legal entry into the United States. Every year, more than a million people become American citizens. So we are hardly in the early staging plans of "total measures." In fact, we function under immigration laws that were written by representatives of the electorate, and the constitutionality of those laws is weighed by a judicial system. If your argument is that all deportations are, in and of themselves, the actions of a proto-Nazi regime, then I would ask, why aren't you comparing President Barack Obama, who deported 2.4 million people from 2009 to 2014, to Himmler? Or I would say to stop commandeering the horrors of history for short-term political gain and come up with a better analogy. COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM[...]
Thu, 23 Feb 2017 15:00:00 -0500The Department of Homeland Security's so-called deportation memos this week implementing President Trump's executive orders to eject unauthorized aliens in the country didn't, after all, enlist the National Guard to conduct mass deportations or even require the creation of a special federal deportation force, as many had feared. They actually do something far more insidious and hideous: They empower thousands of potential Joe Arpaios around the country to terrorize Latino communities. Arapio, readers will recall, is the former Arizona sheriff whose harsh tactics to hunt down, detain and eject undocumented Latinos—including forcing a detained Latino woman to deliver a baby in shackles -- earned him nation-wide notoriety. But Trump touted his endorsement as a badge of honor repeatedly during the campaign. Arpaio went down to an ignominious defeat, losing his seat by double digits in the last election. But the DHS memos now hand him a huge victory—and a blow to a decent, humane and rational immigration policy. Study after study has shown that immigrants, including the undocumented variety, are far less crime prone than the native born. Between 1990 and 2013, the foreign-born share of the U.S. population rose from 7.9 percent to 13.1 percent and the number of unauthorized tripled from 3.5 million to 11.2 million. What happened to crime in this country? Violent crime went down by nearly 50 percent. And property crime fell by 41 percent. In immigrant gateway cities such as El Paso, San Antonio, Austin, San Diego, crime has diminished as the unauthorized population has risen. Indeed, the 2010 American Community Survey found that the incarceration rate of the native-born 1980, 1990 and 2000 was two to five times higher than that of immigrants overall. And what about compared to less-educated aliens, many of whom are undocumented? In 2010, 18-39 year-old native-borns had an incarceration rate of 10.7 percent – three times more than foreign-born Mexicans, and five times more than Salvadaron and Guatemalan, many of whom are undocumented. And the undocumented incarceration rates are so low despite the fact that between 2000 and 2010, thanks to the post 9-11 hysteria, more immigrants were thrown into jail for ever more minor immigration-related, a 2015 American Immigration Council study by Walter Ewing and others points out. (For example, illegal reentry was reclassified as a criminal – as opposed to a civil – offense worthy of imprisonment before deportation.) Given this backdrop, in a remotely rational world, law enforcement resources would be refocused away from immigrants to those who pose an actual threat. But not in Trump's America where a head is in even greater short supply than a heart. The DHS memos state that the agency will prioritize the removal of "dangerous" undocumented criminal aliens. But there are not too many of those left given that Obama already expelled 2.5 million illegals, starting with the hardened criminals and then moving up to ever more minor transgressors in order to use up all the deportation dollars that Congress had thrown his way. (In fact, not only had Congress authorized dollars exclusively for the deportation of 450,000 aliens annually but also mandated that 34,000 detention beds be filled every day. Every. Single. Day.) So in order to meet Trump's ambitious deportation promises to his immigration-hostile base, the DHS had to go further. And it did. It declared an end to the Obama-era policy of exempting certain narrow categories of undocumented aliens from enforcement. These categories included those who didn't have any criminal convictions but had lived in the country for decades and therefore put down deep roots in the country, forming families, having children. Now, with the possible exception of 750,000 Dreamers (those who were brought to the country as minors), every, single undocumented will be fair game. In fact, they already are given that even before the DHS memos were[...]
Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:35:00 -0500"When did World War 3 start?" asked an afternoon CPAC panel featuring Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. He was relevant because the panel was the first of two on WW3. Today's was on "the threat at home" and tomorrow will be "the threat abroad." The panel didn't turn out that way. "How many people feel scared?" panel moderator Ginni Thomas of the Daily Caller asked the audience at the beginning of the panel. "Can I get an amen?" Security, she noted, was a primary reason many people vote. Clarke spoke first because, according to Thomas, he had the most Twitter followers, which was how Thomas determined the order. Clarke focused mostly on sanctuary cities and border security, saying the time had come to begin to "aggressively enforce the rule of law in America." "Sanctuary cities are havens for criminals," Clarke insisted, ignoring the history of sanctuary cities as a policy supported by law enforcement to secure the cooperation of illegal immigrants in criminal investigations. Clarke never got around to explaining how illegal immigration connected to WW3. He did not bring up, for example, overblown claims popular in the right-wing echo chamber about terrorist fighters crossing in from Mexico. Instead, Clarke suggested prosecuting one mayor for the sanctuary city policy, saying that would have a chilling effect on other sanctuary city officials. The second panelist, New Zealand author Trevor Loudon, led with the WW3 hook. "WW3 started about 1400 years ago, and it got a big boost during the Bolshevik revolution," Lauden suggested, because of Islamists and communists. He went on to praise the U.S. for defending freedom in the South Pacific during World War 2. The U.S. "keeps all of the world stable and all of the world free," Loudon insisted, repeating tired talking points about Barack Obama's foreign policy aiding U.S. enemies and hurting U.S. allies, a strange point to hold on to during the nascent Trump administration, given President Trump's willingness to talk tough to traditional U.S. allies like Australia or NATO. Loudon pivoted to the "radical left" plan to undermine America, tying anti-Trump protests to that effort. He called on attendees to support Trump through social media if they "cared about America," saying the medium made it possible to combat all kinds of radicals. Former CIA employee Claire Lopez, of the Center for Security Policy, spoke third, talking about "civilization jihad." "We are not fighting terrorism," Lopez insisted, "we are fighting the forces of Islamic jihad and sharia." She insisted the U.S. was fighting for individual liberty, equality for all, human dignity, and the consent of the governed, saying those concepts were "anathema and even blasphemy" for Islamists. Fears over sharia law, however, are anathema to some of the ideals Lopez herself said the U.S. fought for. It went downhill from there. Lopez claimed, without providing any specifics, that the government and national security apparatus, and even local law enforcement, were "deeply penetrated" by the Muslim Brotherhood, a common right-wing bugaboo. The last speaker was acting Federal Trade Commissioner Maureen Olhausen. How did she fit into the theme of World War 3? She came to speak about intellectual property and warn about the effort to "devalue" intellectual property rights in the U.S., which she said discouraged investment at home and encouraged intellectual property theft abroad. Olhausen mentioned China in passing as one of those countries, but did not make it her focus nor did she place China within a working theory of a World War 3 that had already started, sticking to more generic descriptions of the U.S. being "under attack" by those who would steal intellectual property. "It's gonna be fight every day, I'm up for it," David Clarke said during the concluding remarks. "Are you?" The panel was disappointing. The framework of a putative World War 3 can be an interesting one through which [...]
Tue, 21 Feb 2017 15:45:00 -0500Is it really safe for you to return to Sweden, asked an American friend, jokingly, when I prepared to check out from my hotel in Washington, D.C. President Donald Trump had just warned his audience in Melbourne, Florida, about Muslim immigrants and terrorism in Europe. "You look at what happened last night in Sweden" the president yelled, "Sweden! Who would believe this!" Swedes took to social media to speculate about which awful event he referred to. An aged pop star had technical problems during rehearsal for a popular music contest, observed someone. Another Swede tweeted that out of respect for the families of victims we should not speculate about the terrible event until after it actually occurs. #lastnightinsweden quickly became a meme. Soon Trump took to Twitter to admit that he was not referring to something that happened in Sweden last night, but something that happened on Fox News last night. Tucker Carlson had interviewed Ami Horowitz about a documentary claiming that Muslim refugees were the cause of an "incredible surge in violence" in Sweden. This short segment was so full of distortions that it could be used as exhibit A for Trump's claim that the media peddles fake news. A Swedish policeman who was interviewed for the documentary claimed that Horowitz edited the footage to make it seem like he answered other questions, making it seem like the officer warned about refugees when the officer did not. The officer referred to Horowitz as "a madman." According to Ami Horowitz, "it was not long ago that the first Islamist terrorist attack occurred in the country." In fact, the only known attempt was in December 2010, more than six years ago (and no one was harmed but the attacker). But Trump's defenders have countered by arguing that violent crime has risen dramatically in Sweden since the surge of refugees began arriving in 2014. Swedish crime, you see, is not about Swedish crime any more. It's about the risk posed by Muslims and refugees. But if crime is rising dramatically, that phenomenon would not just be picked up by Fox News and Breitbart, but also by crime statistics. So what does the data say? Yes, immigrants to Sweden do commit more crimes than people born in Sweden, in contrast to countries like the United States, where immigrants commit less crime than the native-born. That's partly because refugees to Sweden are much poorer and less educated, and because they have a much harder time finding a job. The Swedish economy has been liberalized over the last two decades, but we've made exceptions for the labor market, which still makes it difficult to work and easy to claim welfare. There has also been an increase in organized crime in recent years. In a country with harsh drug laws, gangs fight over who gets to sell cannabis in specific territories. Large-scale immigration has contributed since new entrants want a piece of the pie. And yet the data fail to record the incredible surge in violence that Trump's defenders talk about. The homicide rate is almost exactly what it was a decade ago, despite the gang wars. The latest Swedish Crime Survey, from the Swedish Council for Crime Prevention, shows that the population exposed to assault has declined by 0.7 percentage point in the last 10 years, and offenses against the person in general "is approximately the same level as in 2005"—almost a decade before the surge of refugees. But isn't Sweden the rape capital of the world, as members of the alt-right constantly point out? Sure, Sweden has more registered sex offenses than other countries. But the willingness to report such crimes differs dramatically between countries. A culture where you talk openly about such crimes, and don't blame the victims, will also have more cases reported. Sweden has made a conscious effort to get women to report any offense, whereas countries like Saudi Arabia and Mozambique do everything to stop women from reportin[...]
Fri, 17 Feb 2017 14:15:00 -0500On September 1, 2016, "Sunny" Kimnam gave a massage and a hand-job to an undercover police informant. Since that day, she has been incarcerated, and faces likely deportation to Korea. Kimnam's story is far from unique. Tucked in tales of "human trafficking investigations" and massage-parlor prostitution busts across the U.S., you'll find that these efforts are almost always aided or led by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents. Sometimes it's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), sometimes the Enforcement and Removal Operations unit of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE). Since January 1, 2017, DHS has been involved in at least a dozen massage-parlor raids, arresting at least 26 people. Twenty-three of these arrests were women, all Asian and mostly in their 50s. None were found to be involved in human trafficking, but they were arrested on charges such as prostitution, promoting prostitution, and giving an unlicensed massage. And for those who are immigrants—whether in the country legally or not—it could be just the beginning. Arrest... But First, Ejaculation Since at least 2012, Ace Acupressure Spa operated out of the small mountain town of Larksville, Pennsylvania, tucked between a laundromat and a used-car lot in part of town that looks like it has seen better days. Online ads for Ace tout deep tissue massage, care for "frozen shoulder," and remedies for head, back, and neck pain provided by a professional Asian massage therapist. But the placement of these ads (in "adult" and sensual body-rub sections of ad sites) and the images they contain (wholesome-looking but marginally clothed young women) leave little question that the spa's appeal might not rest solely in employees' masseuse skills. Larksville sits in Luzerne County, a place suggested by Newsweek to hold the key to Donald Trump's election. It's one of those oft-mythologized areas that broke for Barack Obama in 2012 but turned to Trump—by 20 points—in the past election. Newsweek called it "a county of 'Firewood for Sale' signs and volunteer fire departments [and] beautiful views from the tops of mountains." But it's also a place where manufacturing jobs have long been disappearing, more than 20 percent of families with children live in poverty, and the Hispanic population in some areas has skyrocketed in recent years. Immigration enforcement was big on the minds of residents that Newsweek talked to post-election. The employees of Ace Accupressure—"Sunny" Kimnam and at least two other Korean women—were part of a small minority of Asians and Asian-Americans in Luzerne County—just about 1 percent, according to U.S. census data, and just 0.28 percent in Larksville proper. With the stigma already associated with Asian massage parlors, it's not surprising that Ace attracted local law-enforcement attention. But what's strange (or should be) in this small-time, small-town vice investigation is its orchestration by DHS officials. Ultimately, just two women were arrested in the operation, Sunny and 55-year-old K. Suk, both Korean nationals. On September 1, Suk had greeted the undercover police informant at the door, led him to a massage room, and collected $60, the price of a standard massage, before leaving the room. The masseuse, Sunny, went on to explain that it would be $60 more "for topless," according to the state's Affadavit for Probable Cause, "and made a hand motion for a hand job." After starting with a regular massage, Sunny "began to massage the [informant's] penis until he ejaculated," the police affidavit states. He "cleaned himself up and was then escorted out." About three hours later, police showed up with a search warrant. They found unused condoms and cash, including the cash paid by the informant earlier, and arrested Sunny and Suk, later determining that both had previous convictions for prostitution and both were involved in Ace [...]
Fri, 17 Feb 2017 09:45:00 -0500
(image) Is President Donald Trump breaking brand new ground with his deportation raids? A little bit yes, and whole lotta bit no.
In today's L.A. Times, I point out some of the conspiracy theories and newly rediscovered enforcement practices that have come with the Trump presidency, and suggest that you cannot hope to rouse a meaningful defense against today's crackdown without also grappling with yesterday's expulsions. Excerpt:
The recent raids, however, were planned before Trump had lifted a finger on immigration policy, ICE Field Office Director for Los Angeles David Marin told reporters. And of the 161 people arrested in the California sweeps, "all but five would've been cases we would've prioritized for enforcement previously."
Much of what Trump has done is set the immigration enforcement clock all the way back to 2013. The Secure Communities federal/local data-sharing program that Trump is exhuming was only shuttered by Obama at the end of 2014. The resumed collection of non-targeted "collateral" aliens during immigration raids was the norm well past the 2012 Democratic National Convention paean to "DREAMers."
Even Trump's announced intentions to prioritize the expulsion of "bad hombres" has echoes of Obama in both policy and rhetoric. As recently as 2015, the 44th president described his approach as "making sure that people who are dangerous, people who are gangbangers or criminals, that we're deporting them as quickly as possible, that we're focusing our resources there." Trump is hardly the first resident of 1600 Pennsylvania to be tagged as the "deporter in chief." […]
The fact is, starting with the 2006 collapse of comprehensive immigration reform, successive pro-reform administrations deliberately used stepped-up enforcement as a political tool—George W. Bush to call the bluff on restrictionists who derailed a treasured second-term goal, Obama to build up "credibility" for legislative negotiations that never took off.
When we give that much power and discretion to the president, and subject millions of lives to the passions of national politics, whimsical and arbitrary punishment will be the norm, not the exception.
Fri, 17 Feb 2017 08:15:00 -0500Instead of seeking a rehearing on the question of whether the temporary restraining order against his travel ban should be lifted, President Trump plans to issue a revised executive order next week that addresses the due process concerns raised by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. In a brief filed yesterday, Acting Solicitor General Noel Francisco and Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler say Trump will "rescind the Order," which suspended the admission of refugees for 120 days and imposed a 90-day ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, and "replace it with a new, substantially revised Executive Order to eliminate what the [appeals court] panel erroneously thought were constitutional concerns." At his press conference yesterday, Trump said he will issue the revised order "toward the beginning or middle" of next week. Here are three changes he is likely to make: 1. The new order will explicitly exclude lawful permanent residents from the travel ban. The Supreme Court has said green-card holders have a right to due process if the government tries to stop them from re-entering the country after traveling abroad. The Trump administration concedes that point but says the travel ban should not be interpreted as covering lawful permanent residents (LPRs), even though officials at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security initially said it did. "The principal basis of the panel's decision was its conclusion that the Order applies to LPRs," Francisco and Kneedler say. "The Order is ambiguous in this respect and, at the time it was issued, was reasonably interpreted to encompass LPRs. However, it is also reasonably interpreted to exclude LPRs, and the White House Counsel's '[a]uthoritative guidance' confirms that narrower interpretation." 2. The new order probably will exclude people who do not have green cards but are already legally living in the United States. The Trump administration thinks the 9th Circuit was wrong to suggest that people from the seven banned countries who are legally working or studying in the U.S. on nonimmigrant visas have any due process rights when the government decides to revoke their visas. Francisco and Kneedler say "no court has adopted" that position, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has rejected it. But the visas of students and scholars at state universities are at the center of the case before the 9th Circuit, which was brought by Washington and Minnesota, so it seems likely that Trump's revised order will leave them alone. "The Order's principal focus is on aliens who have never entered this country and have no connection to it," Francisco and Kneedler say. "The Supreme Court 'has long held that an alien seeking initial admission to the United States requests a privilege and has no constitutional rights regarding his application.'" It sounds like Trump will narrow the order so that its scope is defined by this "principal focus." 3. The new order will clarify that it has no impact on asylum applications. The 9th Circuit noted that refugees have a statutory right to seek asylum once they have arrived in the United States, meaning they have potential due process claims if they are summarily ejected from the country. Francisco and Kneedler say the 120-day ban on refugees "does not address the existing statutes or regulations for aliens who are physically present or arriving in the United States and are seeking asylum or similar protection." In declining to override the TRO against Trump's order, the 9th Circuit also said the travel ban raises due process concerns insofar as it applies to foreign nationals "who have a relationship with a U.S. resident or an institution that might have rights of its own to assert." The Supreme Court has neither accepted such third-party claims nor definitively rule[...]
Thu, 16 Feb 2017 12:20:00 -0500Immigration officials descending on a woman who went to court seeking protection from an allegedly abusive boyfriend is exactly the kind of enforcement problem sanctuary cities are worried about—with good reason. This is not behavior that's going to make America safer (or even safe "again," since some are concerned that the recent increase in crime is the start of a new trend). A woman in El Paso County, Texas, went to court to try to get a protective order against a boyfriend she claimed was abusing her. At the courthouse, according to a county attorney, a pack of immigration officials staked the woman out and then detained her. This was not some random occurrence as a result of President Donald Trump's call for tougher enforcement. Immigration officials tracked down the woman because of a tip. The attorney, who represents domestic violence victims seeking help from the court, worried that it was the abusive boyfriend who snitched on her. In the inevitable "This person is no angel" category of reporting, she had apparently been deported before repeatedly and had also been charged with crimes in the past. We don't want to ignore those details. The attorney assisting her with the protective order said she was unaware of her criminal background at the time. But just as we should not allow the "He's no angel" excuse to let possible incidences of police abuse of citizens to slide, we shouldn't use it to ignore the potential consequences of this mechanism of immigration enforcement. The image of a bunch of immigration officers descending on a woman who turned to the court for protection from a violent man is exactly the kind of thing that's going to spread around and discourage immigrants from cooperating with the police or turning to the police for help. The consequence will be a festering of criminal behavior, not a cure. Step away from immigration and consider the context of our drug wars and our war on sex work and prostitution. We know that because of enforcement of the law, people who voluntarily participate in these black markets cannot easily turn to police for help if they're victimized or harmed because they have to worry that they'll be arrested themselves. And so we have pushes for things like "Good Samaritan" laws that would protect those who report drug overdoses to authorities from being arrested for possession. This helps save lives. Making immigration enforcement harsher makes it harder for people to turn to the government for assistance and to inform about those actual "bad dudes" Trump worries about. The great paradox of black markets (and illegal immigration is certainly an example of a black market) is that harsher government intervention doesn't eliminate them—it makes participation all the more dangerous. As Matt Welch previously noted, even Trump crony Rudy Giuliani, former New York City mayor, understood that overly harsh enforcement attitudes toward otherwise peaceful illegal immigrants made his communities less safe: As [Giuliani] once put it, you need to "protect undocumented immigrants...from being reported to the [Immigration and Naturalization Service] while they are using city services that are critical for their health and safety, and for the health and safety of the entire city." If residents live in fear that each interaction with a government employee could lead to deportation, they are not going to report crime, seek medical attention for communicable diseases, or send their kids to school. And when that happens, perhaps just like the drug war, there will be calls for even harsher government crackdowns from those who think the government just isn't trying hard enough. If you don't believe me, check out Kentucky, where lawmakers are considering even harsher criminal penalties for opioid trafficking.[...]
Thu, 16 Feb 2017 11:30:00 -0500I was on Fox Business' Kennedy last night, talking with the eponymous host about the Republican plan to levy a "border-adjustment tax" on imports. This is part of a larger tax plan, some of which President Trump has said he supports, to cut corporate rates from 35 percent to 20 percent. Cutting corporate taxes—which are mostly passed along to consumers in the form of higher prices—is a good idea, especially if it also includes a provision to tax companies on a territorial rather than global basis. As it stands, U.S. corporate rates are not only among the highest on the planet, our government taxes American companies on all profits, regardless of where they are earned. American companies get a credit for taxes paid abroad but they also get a bill for the difference between foreign taxes paid and what the U.S. government says is theirs. That's one reason why companies as diverse as Burger King and Apple park so much of their profits or operations overseas. It's to avoid high domestic rates. For a number of reasons, I'm not a fan of border-adjustment taxes. For starters, the scheme is incredibly complicated and does nothing to effect the simplification of taxes, which should be part and parcel of every tax reform. Beyond that, it's of a piece with the GOP's growing and stupid protectionist posture to "make America great again" by making life more difficult and expensive for most people. So much produce and so many consumer goods come from abroad any tax hike on them will pick your pocket at Best Buy, Walmart, and Kroger. And while proponents claim the import tax will be mostly paid for by non-taxation of exports and a strengthened dollar (like I said, incredibly complicated), at this point in time, the only acceptable policy all the way around is to cut tax rates and then pay for the trims by reducing spending even more. It's not as if we have deficits and debt because we're not raking in enough dough, after all. It's because we spend too much. With very few exceptions, the hallmark of the Trump presidency (what are we, like three weeks in?) seems to me to be insularity. His policy-making operations are unpredictable and unknowable and he doesn't want to have to explain himself. He wants to keep foreign people and goods out of the country. The Republican Party seems extremely happy to play along with all that, especially if its longstanding grudge against immigrants gets taken care of and dollars continue to flow to old people in the form of non-diminished spending on Social Security and Medicare. Free markets might have once been part of the GOP catechism but it seems to been left out of the latest edition of the prayer book. To the extent that Trump and the Republicans insist on closing ranks, closing borders, and closing trade, they absolutely represent a dead end (the Democrats are not any better in this regard, to be sure). We live in a world of forced transparency, where closed systems are increasingly giving way to open ones. Power, meaning, and population are being democratized and dispersed via technology and changes in mind-set and temperament even in the face of Islamic terrorism and other reactionary forces. Political alliances predicated upon exerting more and finer control over what is allowable will be among the biggest casualties. There's a reason neither the Republican nor the Democratic candidate for president won a majority of the popular vote: Nobody much liked what either one stood for. [...]
Thu, 16 Feb 2017 00:01:00 -0500Over the past weekend, Trump administration officials offered harsh criticisms of the judicial interference with the enforcement of the president's immigration order. The Jan. 27 order suspended the immigration privileges of all refugees from Syria indefinitely and all immigrants from seven designated countries for 90 days. After a federal district judge in Seattle enjoined the federal government from enforcing the executive order and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that injunction, President Donald Trump's folks pounced. They argued that we have an imperial judiciary that thinks it has the final say on public policy — one that will freely second-guess the president in areas that are exclusively his under the Constitution. Here is the back story. The Constitution provides for essentially a shared responsibility in the creation of laws. Congress passes bills, and the president signs them into law. Sometimes bills become laws over the president's veto. Bills are often proposed by presidents and disposed of by Congress. When challenges to the meaning or application of the laws are properly made, the judiciary decides what the laws mean and whether they are consistent with the Constitution. My point is that there are substantial roles for the legislative and executive branches in the process of lawmaking and that there is an exclusive role for the judiciary in interpreting the meaning of the law. When it comes to articulating and carrying out the foreign policy of the nation, the president is superior to the other branches. Though the House of Representatives and the Senate appropriate money for foreign policy expenses and the Senate ratifies treaties and confirms ambassadors, the president alone determines who our friends and enemies are. Congress has given him many tools with which to make and carry out those determinations. Among those tools is substantial discretion with respect to immigration. That discretion permits the president, on his own, to suspend the immigration privileges of any person or group he believes poses a danger to national security. Though the effect of his suspension may, from time to time, fall more heavily on one religious group, the purpose of that suspension may not be to target a religious group. Can an immigrant who has been banned from entering the United States challenge the ban? In a word, yes. Once an immigrant has arrived here, that person has due process rights (the right to know the law, to have a hearing before a fair and neutral authority, and to appeal to a superior neutral and fair authority). This is so because the Constitution protects all persons. The challenge to the president's exercise of his discretion cannot be based on a political disagreement with him or an objection to the inconveniences caused by the enforcement; it can only be based on an alleged constitutional violation. In the Seattle case, the states of Washington and Minnesota had sued the president and alleged that he had issued his Jan. 27 order to target Muslims, many of whom study or work at state universities. Can the courts hear such a case? In a word, yes; but they must do so with intellectual honesty and political indifference. The judiciary is an independent branch of the government, and it is co-equal to the president and the Congress. It is answerable to its own sense of scrupulous intellectual honesty about the Constitution. It is not answerable to the people. Yet in return for the life tenure and unaccountability its members enjoy, we expect political indifference — that judges' decisions shall not be made in order to produce their own politically desired outcomes. It is the job of the judiciary to say what the Constitution means, say what the statutes mean and dete[...]
Wed, 15 Feb 2017 17:24:00 -0500
When the government puts "quantitative restrictions on immigration" it's attempting to centrally plan "a complicated market with people who have heterogeneous skills," argued economist Ben Powell at an immigration debate held Monday night in New York City. Powell, who's head of the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University, went up against Mark Krikorian from the Center for Immigration Studies, who argued that if the U.S. were to eliminate numerical caps on immigration "100 million people per decade" might come here—"a revolutionary policy" that would destroy our social fabric.
The event was hosted by the Soho Forum, a monthly libertarian-themed debate series. The following proposition was on the table: "U.S. immigration policy should be to issue migration visas, without any numerical limitations, to all applicants who are not on a terrorist watch list, and who do not otherwise have criminal records or contagious diseases."
It was an Oxford-style debate, in which audience members vote before and after the speakers have their say, and the side that gets the most people to change their minds wins. Krikorian, arguing against the resolution, won the contest by a narrow margin. As we've done in the past, Reason is running audio from the Soho Forum's debate series on its podcast.
Listen below—and subscribe to our podcast at iTunes so you'll never miss an episode!
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Wed, 15 Feb 2017 12:40:00 -0500After years and years of harassment, arrests, and private property destruction, the City of Los Angeles has finally decriminalized street vending. Jesse Walker took note of the decision a few weeks ago. There are tens of thousands of street vendors within the Los Angeles area who now have a legal avenue to make a living (money-grubbing city permitting and inspection schemes notwithstanding). The Los Angeles City Council didn't make this abrupt change because they suddenly realized their oppressive municipal regulations were harming its poorest citizens. It happened because Los Angeles has declared itself to be a "sanctuary city," where police decline to check to immigration status of those they interact with or those who end up in their custody. President Donald Trump promised a crackdown on illegal immigration, particularly down near the border to Mexico. By arresting street vendors, they could potentially be introducing them into a legal system where federal immigration agents would step in and deport them if it turned out they were in the country illegally. But that's just one tiny chunk of the massive iceberg of municipal laws and codes that can trip up immigrants and city residents and force encounters with police. Why stop with just street vending? Shakeer Rahman and Robin Steinberg of Bronx Defenders, a criminal defense advocacy organization for the poor in that New York community, took to The New York Times op-ed pages to point out that there are all sorts of ways that cities use law enforcement and oppressive regulations that harm poor immigrants. These have always been bad policies that made life miserable and even harsher for urban citizens. Now they have an even greater potential to sweep immigrants up in a system that could separate them from their families and deport them: Many of these unnecessary arrests stem from the discredited idea that a draconian crackdown on the most minor offenses — littering, selling loose cigarettes, biking on the sidewalk — will prevent more serious crimes. This model of policing, known as broken windows or zero tolerance, helped to drive mass incarceration. Its next cost could be mass deportation. While the federal government runs immigration courts and prisons, local police departments are its eyes and ears. Across the country, whenever they arrest someone, city departments send fingerprints and other identifying information to federal officials. Whether the offense is as trivial as selling mango slices on the street without a license or taking a shortcut through a park after dark, federal agents are notified of an immigrant's name and how to find him or her. President Trump has announced his plans for all those names. Each week, the White House will publish a list of crimes that immigrants have been accused of, and the government will prioritize the deportation of anyone "charged with any criminal offense," even if it never leads to a conviction. They conclude: "Until cities reject the failed thinking that led to mass incarceration, local police and prosecutors will be doing the legwork for mass deportation." Granted, the Bronx Defenders are using the circumstances to advance an argument they've been pushing for some time, and so is Reason. We've done a lot of reporting and blogging about how overcriminalization of "quality of life" issues in cities overwhelmingly ends up with law enforcement officials cracking down on poor people. And yet, when these encounters go bad and lead to police violence, the emphasis is almost entirely on police abuse and never the underlying crime enforcement issues that brought the city to this point. It was wrong for New York police to strangle Eric Garner to death[...]