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Published: Tue, 26 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0400

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Jeff Sessions to America: The Crime Fearmongering Will Continue Until Y'all Obey

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 13:20:00 -0400

Stats so far from 2017 show that violent crimes in America's major cities are generally dropping again after a brief, sharp uptick. Some individual cities are still in bad shape, but the broad trend is looking up. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not land his job in President Donald Trump's administration by assuring the populace that the country is generally a safe place to live. And that's certainly not the narrative Trump used to get elected. So Sessions is weaving a different story as he continues his attacks on sanctuary cities and criminal justice reform. Speaking before federal law enforcement officials in Portland, Oregon, this week, he refused to make even the slightest adjustments to his rhetoric: After decreasing for over 20 years because of the hard but necessary work our country started in the 1980s, violent crime is back. The murder rate surged nearly 11 percent nationwide in 2015—the largest increase since 1968. Per capita homicide rates are up in 27 of our 35 largest cities. And Portland is not immune to these problems. Between 2013 and 2015, the city saw an increase in homicides of more than 140 percent. In 2015, Portland Police received more than 180 calls related to gangs, including shootings, stabbings, and assaults—the highest number since they began recording that number nearly 20 years ago, and almost double the count from 2014. Note that we're about three-quarters of the way through 2017, and he's still using numbers from 2015. Also—speaking as someone who has done a lot of crime stat analysis over the years—consider it a red flag whenever you see seemingly outrageously high percentage changes showing either increases and declines. What that often means is that the flat numbers are actually very low, so when those changes are presented as percentages, they seem very large. If a city has two murders one year and then four murders the next year, that's a 100 percent increase in the murder rate. That does not, however, indicate a crime wave. The actual numbers in Portland here don't support Sessions' fearmongering. In 2013, the city had its lowest number of homicides in decades: 16. That number doubled to 32 over the course of two years. That's certainly a cause for concern, but it's an increase in a number that was very low; presenting it as a percentage makes it seem much more alarming than it actually is. Even then, Sessions got the percentage wrong by calling it a 140 percent increase. Also, as The Portland Mercury notes, homicides for 2016 dropped back down to 16, the same level they were back in 2013. The crime spike in 2015 looks more like an anomaly than a dangerous new trend. But the fearmongering is necessary to sell the Sessions/Trump agenda of attacking sanctuary cities—such as Portland—for declining to help the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) detain and deport immigrants here illegally. Here's Sessions again: When federal immigration authorities learn that this criminal alien is in a jurisdiction's custody, our ICE officers issue a detainer request accompanied by a civil arrest warrant and ask the city to either notify them before they release the criminal or to hold the criminal alien long enough to transfer him to federal custody in a safe setting. But political leaders have directed state and local officers to refuse these requests. Cooperation has been a key element in informed crime fighting for decades. The result is that police are forced to release the criminal alien back into the community without regard to the seriousness of his crimes or the length of his rap sheet. Think about that: Police may be forced to release pedophiles, rapists, murderers, drug dealers, and arsonists back into the communities where they had no right to be in the first place. They should according to law and common sense be processed and deported. This is a tremendously misleading representation of what actually happens, and Sessions is leaning heavily on a couple of really bad cases to suggest that this is commonplace. In reality, sanctuary cities usually do cooperate with DH[...]

California Poised to Block Police from Helping DHS Detain Immigrants—Sometimes

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 11:45:00 -0400

Taking the reverse route of Texas, California lawmakers have passed a law restricting the ability of state and local police to cooperate with federal immigration officials. The bill, SB 54, has been watered down since it was first introduced. This was at the insistence of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who wanted to make sure police and jailers can still help the feds deport people convicted of serious crimes. The law allows police to cooperate with federal information and detention requests only when an arrested illegal immigrant has been convicted of certain crimes within a given time range. The crimes range from rape and murder to stalking, hate crimes, drug trafficking, and elder abuse; the time range is either five or 15 years, depending on the details of the offense. (To read the full list, go here.) One change made to the bill, the Los Angeles Times notes, is that California prisons will still be allowed to let federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in to interview immigrants. That's one of the demands Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made for municipalities that want to keep receiving federal crime-fighting grants. SB 54 also calls on the state to develop mechanisms to minimize federal access to database information held by state and local agencies (and private vendors), if the info will be used for immigration enforcement. Though SB 54 goes through great pains to make it clear that police and jails can cooperate with ICE when dealing with an illegal immigrant with a criminal record, that has not reduced the Justice Department's criticisms of the legislation. A department spokesperson has declared the bill will "return criminal aliens back onto our streets." But right now the department has a bigger problem. Late Friday a federal judge put a block on enforcement of new Justice Department rules aimed at forcing sanctuary cities to help the feds deport illegal immigrants. The Justice Department has been trying to tie immigration enforcement to access to federal crime-fighting grants. In July it announced that in order to get access to a specific grants program, cities and counties had to permit Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials into any detention facility to determine the immigration status of anybody being held there. In addition, local jails had to inform DHS 48 hours before releasing somebody in their custody if they had received a detainer order (a request from DHS to hold a deportable immigrant until a federal official can take the prisoner into custody). Chicago sued to block the implementation of these rules, and a U.S. district judge concluded the city is likely to win. So he has implemented a nationwide injunction stopping the feds from enforcing the rules. This doesn't mean Chicago has won yet; the rules are merely suspended for now as the case works through the courts. The new rules the Justice Department is attempting to implement do have some constitutional problems. The conditions Sessions is attempting to implement are not authorized by the text of the law, and so the executive branch is arguably bypassing Congress' power to set the terms for the grants. Furthermore, Chicago has argued that it's unconstitutional to require the city to hold people for 48 hours (or more) for the purpose of handing them over to immigration officials. To read more about Chicago's suit, go here.[...]

Dave Weigel on the Democrats’ Bernienomics, Trump’s DACA Switcheroo, and Hillary’s Surprising Book

Sat, 16 Sep 2017 09:17:00 -0400

(image) Longtime commenters around these parts know David "Dave" Weigel as the ex-Reasoner they love to roast most. Most others recognize him as the shrewd coverer of national politics for the Washington Post, where lately he's been writing a lot about the increasingly successful attempts by Bernie Sanders to make universal health care a mainstream Democratic Party position.

It is on that topic (which you should also read Peter Suderman on) where we begin the conversation with Weigel on this week's episode of The Fifth Column, the podcast I co-host with Kmele Foster and Michael C. Moynihan. We also get to President Donald Trump's big DACA heel-turn, Hillary Clinton's controversial new memoir, and whether Pink Floyd should be considered progressive rock. You can listen to the whole here:

src="" width="100%" height="315" frameborder="0">Also check out Nick Gillespie's Reason Podcast interview with Weigel in June about his new book, The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock.

Reminder: On Saturdays you can listen to an hour-long version of The Fifth Column on Sirius XM POTUS (channel 124) at 11 a.m. ET and then again at midnight (which is technically Sunday, but you get the drift). More also available at iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play,, @wethefifth, and Facebook.

College Journalist Attacked for Not Being Visibly Non-Fascist Enough

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 12:20:00 -0400

September's lesson in why we don't going around "punching Nazis" comes from the University of Texas at Austin, where a person assaulted by a pro-immigration protester was not a Nazi or a fascist or an alt-right person, but a college journalist interviewing people. Not that it would have been okay to have attacked Chase Karacostas of the Daily Texan had he held unpopular political positions. But, remarkably, some folks are attempting to defend his alleged attacker by saying Karacostas didn't do enough to make it clear he wasn't a wrongthinking person. Karacostas was covering a protest against SB 4, the new Texas law that undercuts sanctuary cities by forcing local police to cooperate with the Department of Homeland Security in detaining deportable immigrants. Karacostas was interviewing a bystander when, according to the Student Press Law Center: a protester approached him, aggressively hitting Karacostas' phone into his head, where it cut him near his eyebrow. … "It was really random," he told the SPLC, noting that he was surprised, given that the protest was otherwise peaceful. "I've been at protests that were a lot more violent and a lot angrier and where lots of people had been arrested, but this one was pretty small by comparison," he said. The Daily Texan's article on the incident reported that about 25 protesters were present. Karacostas said he identified his assailant to police using videos he had recorded earlier and then headed to the University Health Services' Urgent Care Clinic, where he received six stitches. Eric Nava-Perez, a grad student and organizer of Sanctuary UT, the group that organized the protest, faces charges of assault and bodily injury. He is currently banned from campus. Rather than apologize, allies of Nava-Perez are blaming police for intimidating them and Karacostas for not being more visibly a non-fascist: [Sanctuary UT organizer Charles Holm] also argued that Karacostas should have more clearly identified himself as a reporter so that he would not be mistaken for a right-wing agitator. Karacostas responded he did not yet have a press badge because it's so early in the semester. Karacostas said he had asked protesters who Nava-Perez was a few minutes earlier so he could identify him in a video he had taken. Holm said Nava-Perez may have interpreted this as an attempt to dox him. Had Karacostas not been a journalist, would it have been okay for Nava-Perez to assault him? What an absurd argument. "It's okay to hit people if you're scared," should not become a standard argument for pro-immigrant activists. The complaint about all the police being there is itself slightly strange because one of the big criticisms of the violence at the rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, was that the police didn't do enough to protect the protesters. Holm complained about the protection, but that's separate from complaining police showed up at all. Explaining away violence certainly does nothing to win anybody over, and it actively harms efforts to try to get Americans to understand illegal immigrants are not criminal threats. The facts are on the immigrants' side, but unfortunately, an immigration activist assaulting a journalist certainly doesn't reduce the emotional tone of the argument. This is not some whining about "respectability politics"—Sanctuary UT is certainly not going to help immigrants by hitting people. Fortunately for them a federal judge has blocked the implementation of most of SB4 due to a lawsuit. That's more likely to actually help disenfranchised immigrants in Texas than anything Sanctuary UT is doing.[...]

Motel 6 Announces Plans to Stop Sucking

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 10:40:00 -0400

(image) This week Motel 6 found itself in hot water (though we can't say the same for their showers—bah dum ching!) after the Phoenix New Times exposed the fact that front-desk clerks at two locations were routinely handing over guest information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) voluntarily, with the goal of helping immigration agents round up otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants.

The company's initial response was to blame isolated misbehavior, saying on Twitter: "This was implemented at the local level without knowledge of senior management." The claim was dubious at best, given Motel 6's history of zealous cooperation with law enforcement and the fact that the motels in question aren't independent franchisees.

While the chain is sticking by their story that HQ had nothing to do with the narcing, Motel 6 has now made a clear statement about not permitting such behavior going forward and promising an internal audit.

The motel chain issued this statement to the press:

Moving forward, to help ensure that this does not occur again, we will be issuing a directive to every one of our more than 1,400 locations nationwide, making clear that they are prohibited from voluntarily providing daily guest lists to ICE.

Additionally, to help ensure that our broader engagement with law enforcement is done in a manner that is respectful of our guests' rights, we will be undertaking a comprehensive review of our current practices and then issue updated, company-wide guidelines.

Protecting the privacy and security of our guests are core values of our company. Motel 6 apologizes for this incident and will continue to work to earn the trust and patronage of our millions of loyal guests.

This is great news, and kudos to the New Times for taking a local story and effecting national change. What's more, this will certainly be an object lesson in the ways that being a rat is bad business—I suspect that a few other hotel chains are quietly "undertaking a comprehensive review of their current practices" as well.

'I’ll Tell You One Goddamned Thing for Sure. I’m Not Staying at a Motel 6 From Now On.'

Wed, 13 Sep 2017 17:25:00 -0400

(image) Are two Motel 6 locations in Phoenix routinely sending in leads to immigration agents when they suspect guests of being undocumented?

While an investigation by the Phoenix New Times was unable to get confirmation from Motel 6 headquarters, employees at the motels in question said that collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is standard practice: "We send a report every morning to ICE—all the names of everybody that comes in," a front-desk clerk told the New Times.

"Every morning at about 5 o'clock, we do the audit and we push a button and it sends it to ICE." What's more, court documents show that "between February and August, ICE agents made at least 20 arrests at Motel 6s, showing up roughly every two weeks" while there was a distinct lack of "records indicating that ICE conducted arrests at other local motels during this same time period."

So ICE teams show up, claiming to be "following a lead" or to have "received information," and then they go right to the doors of people who arouse the suspicions of motel clerks and demand papers. People who can't provide documents are whisked away. Keep in mind that as far as we know clerks have no reason to suspect these people of having committed any crime other than lacking standard American identification docs—they have no way of knowing about outstanding warrants or other possible crimes. All they know is when someone shows a Mexican ID at check in.

Motel 6 has a history of nationwide narc-ery, as documented by the American Civil Liberties Union in a 2015 statement about the chain's habit of collaboration with local police. And the Phoenix locations are corporate-owned, not franchised, which makes it less likely that these are rogue operators.

In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that hotels do not have to comply with warrantless police requests to hand over guest information, so if Motel 6 is in fact routinely handing over guest information without a warrant, they're not doing so under legal threat of punishment.

In short: If you live in Arizona and you're an undocumented immigrant, better not book a room at a Motel 6.

And personally, I'm with Phoenix-based attorney Robert McWhirter, who told the New Times: "I'll tell you one goddamned thing for sure—I'm not staying at a Motel 6 from now on."

UPDATE: Motel 6 has issued a statement in response to news coverage claiming the problem was local. I remain skeptical, given the chain's history of cooperation with law enforcement:

At Least Have the Basic Courage and Decency to Call an 'Amnesty' an 'Amnesty'

Fri, 08 Sep 2017 16:45:00 -0400

(image) This week, Katherine Mangu-Ward argued (in this space, on Tucker Carlson Tonight, and during our weekly Reason Podcast) that as policy goes, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which President Donald Trump slapped a six-month expiration date on, is worthy of being adopted, especially by act of legislation rather than sweep of the president's pen. In today's Washington Post, I also take issue with the way an otherwise sensible deprioritization was initially sold—namely by carefully avoiding and even denying the radioactive word amnesty. Excerpt:

"Now, let's be clear," [President Barack Obama] said [in 2012], leading with the classic politician tell for impending opacity, "this is not amnesty, this is not immunity."

Yeah, no.

The whole point of DACA is immunity: from deportation, and the existential uncertainties that flow from the possibility that at any moment you could be detained, cuffed, then dropped off in a country you might not even know. When there are millions of people living outside of any given law, not only is that an excellent moment to ask whether the problem is prohibition rather than criminality — as George H.W. Bush observed during the Republican presidential primary debate in 1980, "we're creating a whole society of really honorable, decent, family-loving people that are in violation of the law" — but the situation also requires that the federal government prioritize scarce law enforcement resources.

It's "amnesty," however, that's the real linguistic third rail here, and it is well past time that we stomped on it.

You can read the whole thing here.

Also, from November 2014: "Obama Waterboards the Definition of Amnesty in Immigration Speech."

DACA Immigrants Shouldn't Be Punished for Obama's Hubris

Fri, 08 Sep 2017 10:45:00 -0400

When President Barack Obama pushed through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012, he was wrong to have made such a dramatic change to U.S. immigration policy via executive fiat in a fit of pique (though the legality of the move is a thing about which reasonable Reasoners disagree). At minimum, it was pretty clearly immoral for the Obama administration to collect the names of 800,000 people—to charge them $495 each every two years, even, for the privilege—in order to put their names on a list that every single person in the White House darn well knew might be used to round them up and deport them the next time a restrictionist came into power. And lo and behold, here we are with Donald Trump casually dangling the sword of Damocles over the heads of these definitionally law-abiding residents (you're not eligible for DACA if you have committed a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or even several minor misdemeanors). He's promised to give Congress time to act, but his administration has also sent mixed messages about what enforcement looks like for DACA recipients in the meantime and has already cleared the way to use the DACA list itself to go after illegal immigrants if there's no new legislation. But even though Obama's abuse of executive authority sucks and his willingness to imperil vulnerable immigrants in the long run for short term political gain is inexcusable, you've got admire the way he managed to gather together a cluster of humans who represent the least controversial group of immigrants you could possible imagine. Unless you are a full-scale hard-core restrictionist—that is to say, unless you think we should admit no new residents, citizens, or guest workers into the United States—you'd be awfully hard pressed to find a more politically palatable crowd the beneficiaries of DACA. Dragged here by their parents or guardians, DACA beneficiaries are free of the original sin of illegality (for surely we are not so Old Testament as to hold children culpable for their sins of their fathers?). Because they were raised and educated in the United States—the median DACA recipient came here when she was 6 years old and attended public schools—they are already assimilated and likely proficient if not fluent in English. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have a high school degree or GED, or be currently enrolled in school. DACA folks have all of the hallmarks of second-generation immigrants or H1-B visa recipients, where the cost-benefit analysis gets crystal clear on their payoff for the U.S. socially, economically, and culturally. Unlike the DREAM Act, DACA contains no path to citizenship. Beneficiaries are not eligible for federal welfare or student aid payments, they can work but must have their permit renewed every two years. They cannot have been older than 16 when they entered the country (and no older than 31 in 2012) meaning that the DACA pool contains young workers with many years of tax-paying productivity ahead of them and is perfectly free of expensive sickly seniors. In fact, could there be a recent move afoot to object to the DACA crowd because they're too good? Yesterday Andrew Kaczynski flagged this odd little vignette in which Fox's Todd Starnes and Kris Kobach complain "we had two Texas high schools were the valedictorians were [sic] illegal aliens." This kind of zero-sum thinking is also applied to the jobs the DACA beneficiaries are doing (the typical current DACA kid is now 22 and works for about $18/hour.) To be clear, I think virtually any plan to expand the raw numbers of immigrants to the United States is good—I'll take chain migration, amnesties, quota increases, asylees, refugees, or any other way in. So I was an especially easy sell. But even congressmen far less enthusiastic than I about throwing open the golden door should be embracing DACA recipients. They are as[...]

Hey Libertarians for Trump, How Much More #Winning Can You Take?

Wed, 06 Sep 2017 14:35:00 -0400

It's almost nine months into Donald Trump's presidency and here's a question for the old "Libertarians for Trump" crowd: How much more winning can you take? There was a small but vocal band of limited-government folks who vocally supported the billionaire real estate mogul on the grounds that he couldn't possibly be as bad as Hillary Clinton or even most of the other Republican candidates, especially when it came to foreign policy. Leading the pack was economist Walter Block, who beat me in a competitive debate in New York City right before the election. Block's argument was that "the perfect is the enemy of the good" and "the Donald is the most congruent with [the libertarian] perspective" especially on foreign policy. Trump has turned out to be anything but an isolationist. He promised to bring fire and fury to North Korea, "the likes of which this world has never seen before." He bombed Syria on the same humanitarian grounds he explicitly denounced during his campaign. He escalated war efforts in Yeman and Iraq, And more recently, announced plans to "win" in Afghanistan. His secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, declared that while the United States might not walk away with a "battlefield" victory in the graveyard of empires, neither will the Taliban. That's not inspirational, it's stupid. Apart from his foreign policy follies, this anti-free-trader and nativist has turned out to be even less libertarian than advertised during the campaign. He's continued giving mealy-mouthed support to white supremacists and pardoned Joe Arpaio, "America's toughest sheriff," who was found in contempt of court after he continued to illegally racially profile and detain Latino suspects. And his attorney general is walking back a decade of incremental progress on criminal justice reform. There's no question that the Trump administration is doing some good things, such as deregulatory moves related to the FCC, the FDA, and the EPA. His Education department is supporting school choice to the extent that the federal government can do so. His deregulatory push is all to the good, but it's overwhelmed by Trump's other policies. There's also no question that at this point Trump is doing virtually everything else he can do to alienate libertarians who believe in shrinking the size, scope, and spending of government. And the excuse that Hillary Clinton would have been worse is getting older than Bernie Sanders. The perfect is the enemy of the good, but what Donald Trump has shown us so far just isn't good enough. Produced by Todd Krainin. Written by Nick Gillespie. Cameras by Jim Epstein. Production assistance by Andrew Heaton. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes.[...]

Trump Boots Out Immigrant Kids [Podcast]

Tue, 05 Sep 2017 17:20:00 -0400

Is Trump merely peeling back his predecessor's executive overreach by rescinding DACA, the Obama-era program that shields immigrant children from deportation, or is the move just disastrous policy that also happens to be morally reprehensible? The latter, says Reason's Nick Gillespie in today's podcast.

"When Republicans start to talk about [the rule of law] it's such horse shit because every law raises priority questions," Gillespie says. "I mean you could technically say pot is still illegal under federal law, so we should be getting rid of all the pot people."

Gillespie joins Matt Welch, Katherine Mangu-Ward, and Andrew Heaton to talk about how Trump's immigration policies set America back.

Plus, why Vladimir Putin fears AI (but you shouldn't), and the connection between driverless cars and the ghost of Barry Goldwater.

Subscribe, rate, and review the Reason Podcast at iTunes. Listen at SoundCloud below:

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Dumping DACA Will Likely Alter Census 2020 in Ways Favorable to Donald Trump

Tue, 05 Sep 2017 16:15:00 -0400

Today's controversial announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Trump administration in six months will rescind the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program comes with a government information-sharing follow-up that could have wide-ranging effects on immigrant communities' cooperation (or lack thereof) with representatives from the state. According to Betsy Woodruff at The Daily Beast, the Department of Homeland Security released a memo today making clear that "Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers will be able to use DACA recipients' personal information to deport them." Meaning, the people who voluntarily handed over their sensitive particulars to the federal government in the hopes of qualifying for non-deportation and a worker's permit may now see that same data used to boot them out of the country. "Information provided to [the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services] in DACA requests will not be proactively provided to [Immigrations and Customs Enforcement] and [Customs and Border Protection] for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings, unless the requestor meets the criteria for the issuance of a Notice To Appear or a referral to ICE under the criteria set forth in USCIS' Notice to Appear guidance," the statement read. More from Woodruff: "They're saying we will not give your information unless ICE tells USCIS they need it to deport you, which basically means we'll give your information out whenever ICE says it's necessary to deport you," said Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney who represents many DACA recipients. "That's the point." The United States Census Bureau is currently gearing up for its constitutionally mandated decennial survey of all U.S. residents, legal or otherwise, from which gets derived new legislative districts, formulae for government money-transfers, and—crucially—a rearranged headcount for the House of Representatives. Even prior to today's announcement, the Trump administration's hard line on immigration was making the 2020 task more challenging. "For immigrants, there's always been a fear that data could be shared with the immigration enforcement arms of the federal government," Arturo Vargas, a member of the Census Bureau's National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations, told Vox in a piece published Saturday. "Assuring these families that their census data is going to be safe and confidential is going to be a particular challenge for the 2020 census." Such assurances will be all the more difficult to guarantee given the Bureau's own shameful history of assisting in the notorious World War 2 internment of Japanese-American citizens. In the October 1995 issue of Reason, Glenn Garvin wrote a prescient piece about how the inflammatory immigration politics of the time could quickly limit the freedoms of perfectly legal U.S. residents. "When the government stockpiles information," Garvin wrote, in reference to calls for a national identification card "no matter how benign the intent, there is inevitably a malignant mutation somewhere along the way": Even the supposedly apolitical head counters at the U.S. Census Bureau have been unable to keep their promises not to share their most intimate data with anyone else. During World War I, the Census Bureau provided the Justice Department with names and addresses of conscription-age young men to aid in the apprehension of draft dodgers. And in an even more infamous case, it helped carry out the internment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor. Each time a roundup of Japanese was planned in a new city, Census Bureau statisticians joined the meeting. They "would lay out on a table various city blocks where the Japanese lived and they would tell me how many were living in each block," recounted Tom[...]

Left, Right, and Center Call on Congress to Save DACA

Tue, 05 Sep 2017 13:35:00 -0400

The response has been swift and furious to today's announcement that in six months the Trump administration will rescind the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which deferred deportations and granted work permits to some 800,000 individuals who'd been brought illegally to the United States by their parents. As you'd expect, the move has received unconditional condemnation from civil liberties groups. The American Civil Liberties Union's Gabriela Melendez, for example, issued a statement saying that "there is no humane way to end DACA before having a permanent legislative fix in place. President Trump just threw the lives and futures of 800,000 Dreamers and their families, including my own, into fearful disarray, and injected chaos and uncertainty into thousands of workplaces and communities across America." Elected Democrats struck a similar tone, with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeting: "Turning our backs on Dreamers makes us weaker, makes us less safe, & betrays our values." It's not just lefties opposing the change. Right-leaning business groups have come out against Trump's plan as well, saying the move would be bad for businesses, workers, and the economy. "Terminating their [DACA recipients] employment eligibility runs contrary to the president's goal of growing the U.S. economy," said Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Neil Bradley, adding that the his organization wants Trump and Congress to "work together to quickly find a legislative solution before the program expires." The decision has critics within the GOP as well. Arizona Sen. John McCain—a frequent Trump critic—called it "the wrong approach to immigration policy at a time when both sides of the aisle need to come together to fix our broken immigration system and secure the border." McCain promised to work with Democrats to pass a legislative fix, saying that the proposed DREAM Act, which would give DACA recipients permeant legal status, is on the table for him. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul offered a somewhat similar sentiment, though he declined to call out Trump by name. "President Obama's executive order [DACA] was illegal," he tweeted. "However, this is a real problem we should solve in a bipartisan fashion." He also said that "There are ways to make sure people who have been here for many years since childhood are allowed to stay," adding that any legislative action on DACA should include efforts to "reduce and reform immigration in other areas." House Speaker Paul Ryan, a necessary participant in any immigration reform, said he hoped for "a permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country." Running through all these reactions is a seemingly widespread consensus that immigrants brought here illegally by their parents should not be the targets of immigration enforcement, and that the ball is in Congress' court to protect DACA recipients. Trump himself has said as much, and in a Tuesday morning tweet urged Congress to act: "Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA!"[...]

It's Up to Congress to Save the Dreamers Donald Trump Just Threw Under the Bus

Tue, 05 Sep 2017 11:45:00 -0400

President Donald Trump's decision to scrap DACA six months from now—DACA being Barack Obama's deferred deportation program for "Dreamers," immigrants brought to this country without authorization as minors—is fiscally dumb, economically counterproductive, and morally reprehensible. The only upside of his move, which Trump didn't even have the cojones to announce himself, is that it might finally prod Congress to get off its derrière and create a path for permanent legal status for Dreamers instead of leaving their fates to presidential whims. But it's by no means certain that Congress can do this cleanly, if at all. Congress has given the president immense statutory discretion in enforcing immigration law. And just as Obama had the legal authority to create the DACA program, Trump has the authority to scrap it, regardless of Attorney General Jeff Sessions claims that the Obama action was illegal. Obama gave qualified Dreamers with clean records a two-year reprieve ("parole") from deportation and temporary work authorization—not permanent green cards, mind you. After that, if they had remained in school or gainfully employed and if they generally kept out of trouble, they could apply for renewal. About 800,000 people obtained DACA status out of an estimated Dreamer population of a million-plus. Up until now, the Trump administration had not only continued to renew the status of existing DACAs but also extended it to new Dreamers, all of which was "illegal" if AG Sessions is to be believed. This had raised hopes that Trump would preserve at least this program even as his Department of Homeland Security cracked down on the rest of the undocumented population. (Indeed, among former DHS Secretary John Kelly's first acts upon assuming office was to end the late Obama-era policy of limiting deportation action to criminal aliens and making all undocumented aliens, even those with no criminal records, fair game for removal.) Trump did, after all, say he has a "big heart" and would "take care" of Dreamers. Apparently, he overestimated the size of his heart. The vast majority of Dreamers have lived in America practically their entire lives, with little to no contact with their birthland. Many of them work, have served in the military, volunteered in relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey. So exiling them from a country where they have family, friends, and community ties to one where they have no roots at all is beyond cruel. To add insult to injury, the Dreamers who obtained deferred action status under DACA are especially vulnerable to deportation, because the government now has all their contact information. Not only is there no harm in letting them stay, but there is a major upside to keeping them around. Dreamers are 12.5 percent less likely to be incarcerated than natives with the same socioeconomic characteristics. The average DACA beneficiary is 22 years old, is employed, and earns about $17 an hour. Projecting from that, Ike Brannon calculates that they contribute $215 billion to the economy annually. Meanwhile, their fiscal costs are comparable to the fiscal costs of H-1B workers, which are minimal. Under current law, DACA beneficiaries are ineligible for means-tested welfare benefits that are provided by the federal government or funded through federal matching grants to the states. And few states extend welfare benefits to DACA Dreamers on their own. As a result, DACA beneficiaries contribute $60 billion more to taxes than they consume in benefits. All of that works out to about $275 billion in economic and fiscal contributions. And given that it costs Uncle Sam $10,000 to deport a Dreamer, the total deportation cost of all of them would be about $10 billion, adding up to over a quarter trilli[...]

What the Alt-Right Gets Wrong

Thu, 31 Aug 2017 13:54:00 -0400

Some news outlets have claimed that there's a troubling "pipeline" from libertarianism to the most revolting corners of the alt-right movement. Their evidence is that white supremacist Christopher Cantwell, the star of a Vice documentary about the racist, tiki torch-wielding Charlottesville mob, was once a figure in the libertarian Free State project, and alt-right icon and white nationalist Richard Spencer himself was once a Ron Paul supporter and self-identified as a libertarian. Anyone who claims to care about individual liberty should reject the overt racism in Charlottesville, the broadly defined alt-right and the watered down "alt-lite" variants represented by provocateurs like Milo Yiannopoulous and YouTube personalities Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern, as well as the right-wing nationalism pushed by recently fired White House strategist Steve Bannon. These expressions of right-wing populism are the antithesis of libertarianism, and they collapse under their own logic. The alt right claims to be the savior of Western Civilization, which apparently is on the brink of collapse because Muslims and Mexicans are invading our society. Members of the alt-right often point to the sizable influx of immigrants to Europe in the wake of destabilizing Middle Eastern wars. But America isn't Europe, which is one problem with this framing of "the West" as some sort of monolith. Here's a straighforward look at immigrants as a percentage of the U.S. population: Yes, there's an upswing since around the end of the Vietnam War, but, really, it's a return to the historical average. And what was going on in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as immigrants flooded in? The Second Industrial Revolution! Cars! Steel! Electricity! Telecommunication! And America's rise as a global economic superpower. Want to Make America Great Again? Maybe free-flowing immigration combined with with an open marketplace is the winning formula. But let's get back to those "Western values." America's founders based their ideas on Enlightenment values such as individual property rights and free trade, as articulated by philosophers like John Locke and Adam Smith. Whom did they build their ideas in opposition to? Mercantilists, protectionists, or what today we'd call "economic nationalists." Post Charlottesville, Trump's recently fired chief strategist Steve Bannon told a reporter that white ethno-nationalists are "losers" and "clowns," and then he made a case for closing the U.S. off to the rest of the world. President Trump is right when he claims that free trade isn't always a two-way street. But as Nobel prize-winning economist Milton Friedman explained, "Any individual country, on average, benefits from free trade." Don't believe him? Recent polling finds that the majority of economists agree that free trade is a net benefit, and empirical studies show a correlation between fewer trade barriers and higher per capita GDP. One study compared countries that opened up trade and cut tariffs to ones that didn't, finding that citizens in the freer trade countries saw their incomes increase by an average of 20 percent more than in closed economies. Through international trade, middle-income consumers have seen their purchasing power grow by close to 30 percent, and low-income consumers benefit roughly twice as much. And Trump's fans can cheer when he pressures companies to locate their manufacturing plants in America, but these success stories unravel with closer scrutiny. Just like the progressive left, the alt-right wants to empower the federal government, just as long as the right people are in power doling out benefits to their favorite constituencies. This is why you'll hear alt-right leaders [...]

Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Most of Texas Anti-Sanctuary City Law

Thu, 31 Aug 2017 12:05:00 -0400

A federal judge has temporarily stopped most of Texas' controversial anti-sanctuary city law from being enforced, just two days before it was scheduled to take effect. Orlando Garcia of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas hasn't completely shut down the law. But in a lengthy ruling released Wednesday night Garcia determined the cities and counties within the state who filed suit to stop the law have a good chance of winning on some of the claims. A temporary injunction stops much of the law from being implemented as the lawsuit moves forward. Senate Bill 4, passed in May by an extremely contentious state legislature, pitted the state's Republican leadership against the Democratic rule of several major cities in the state. The law was directed at "sanctuary cities"—cities where officials generally do not ask the citizenship status of people within their borders. The law requires local police to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in deportation efforts and comply with immigration "detainer" orders. These are requests that come from ICE or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) asking a local law enforcement agency to detain people in the country illegally until the feds can pick them up for deportation. Detainer orders are simply requests. No local law enforcement agency is under any legal obligation to comply. Cities, counties, and states have developed various guidelines for compliance. Many require DHS to get an arrest warrant. Many so-called sanctuary cities cooperate with detainer orders for immigrants with violent criminal records. SB 4 overruled the policies cities put in place. The law also threatened law enforcement leaders with criminal and civil penalties and their removal from office for refusing to help the feds. The law even banned local government officials from publicly endorsing policies that ran counter to enforcement of immigration law. Cities and counties are claiming SB 4 violates a host of constitutional rights—the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, the Ninth Amendment, and the Tenth Amendment, not to mention the Supremacy Clause and Texas' own constitution. There is an attitude among some who want more enforcement of immigration laws that a person in the country illegally has no rights and can be treated as a convicted criminal. It isn't true as a legal matter. A person cannot be held by local police for an indeterminate amount of time simply on suspicion that they're not in the country legally. In July, the Massachusetts' Supreme Court ruled police in the state legally did not have the authority to detain people solely at the request of immigration officials. Given that local police are not federal immigration officials, it's a Fourth Amendment violation to hold them in absence of any other criminal conduct. Garcia's ruling comes to a similar conclusion about detainer orders in Texas: SB 4 prohibits local officials from undertaking any particularized assessment of suspected criminality. Rather, it mandates that they effect a seizure simply because it was requested by ICE, who issues that request based upon suspicion that the subject of the request is removable, not based on suspicion of a crime. … Under SB 4, this assessment of immigration status must be made by local officials, who are generally not trained in the complex field of immigration status determinations, and who, if they are mistaken, face the risks of financial penalties, removal from office, and criminal prosecution by Defendants on the one hand, or wrongfully detaining a citizen or lawfully present immigrant, and any related liability, on the other. The judge left in place t[...]