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Published: Fri, 20 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Last Build Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:31:21 -0400


ICE Jails and Deports College Student for Offering Spanish Tutoring Lessons

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 13:20:00 -0400

When Cristina Alonso decided to travel from her native Spain to the United States this past summer, she hoped to experience the best America had to offer. Instead she spent the whole trip in an Oregon jail. On July 5, Alonso arrived at Portland International Airport for a planned six-week vacation. Waiting to greet her was Laurie Bridges, a librarian at Oregon State University, who had met Alonso in Spain and invited her to stay with her family in Corvallis, Oregon. Instead, Bridges writes on the ACLU of Oregon's website, the 22-year-old college student was detained while going through customs, then shipped to the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility (NORCOR). Alonso would be held two days at the jail, where she was unable to contact either her host family in the U.S. or her relatives back in Spain. She reportedly received poor treatment from jail staff, was denied medical treatment, and then was deported from the country. "I would have never believed that this could happen in the United States, let alone in Oregon," writes Bridges, "but I have learned that ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] operates in isolation and ignores the human rights that I have come to expect as an American." Why, you might ask, was Alonso treated this way? Was she a suspected drug trafficker? Was she on a terrorist watch list? Nope. The problem was a letter Bridges had written for Alonso to carry with her while travelling—a letter, ironically, that she thought could mitigate any difficulties Alonso might have with airport officials. The letter explained that Alonso would be staying with Bridges and her family, it included Bridges' contact information, and it listed several of the places they would be visiting with Alonso while she was in the United States. Fatefully, it also mentioned that Bridges would be paying Alonso $100 a week to tutor her eight-year-old son in Spanish while she was staying with the family. Since she would be getting paid by her host family, Alonso needed a different visa than the one she brought to Portland International. While waiting for Alonso to clear customs at the airport, Bridges received a phone call from a U.S. customs official who said that her guest had the wrong visa and that the agent would "see what he could do." That was the last Bridges was to hear of Alonso for the next 20 hours. The customs agent never called her back, nor did anyone else from ICE. Alonso stopped replying to messages from Bridges or her family, though read receipts indicated that someone was viewing the frantic texts that Bridges was sending her. The next morning Bridges visited the Customs office in Portland, where she was told that her guest had been moved to a holding facility. She wasn't told where. After she reached out to the Oregon ACLU's immigration hotline, Bridges learned that Alonso was being held in NORCOR. Bridges spent $130 dollars contacting Alonso through her jail phone account over the next day. Then Alonso was taken back to the airport and deported to Spain. Bridges is clearly incensed by how Alonso was treated, writing that "even if she had the wrong visa, was sending a 22-year-old college student to jail the only option? They could have released her to me for two days, to be returned to the airport for her return flight. They could have explained the situation to me or her family. They could have provided her with one free phone call. But they did not." The ACLU of Oregon contends that the treatment Alonso received is part of a pattern of abuse at the NORCOR facility, which the ACLU describes as a "a cruel and inhumane place to be." In September, the civil liberties organization sent a letter to NORCOR administrators alleging numerous rights violations, including holding detainees in unhygienic conditions, interfering with their access to legal counsel, and denying visitation rights to family members. ICE itself has come under fire for its tactics in the state. In January, Multnomah County commissioners criticized it for conducting immigration raids inside a county courthouse in downtown Portland. L[...]

Trump Is Behaving Like a Hostage Taker With Dreamers: New at Reason

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 11:45:00 -0400

Trump administration's list of border security demands released last week in exchange for legalizing Dreamers is less an honest negotiation tactic and more a(image) ransom note, writes Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia. Trump effectively put a gun to the heads of Dreamers (who were brought to this country without authorization as children) when he announced that he'd scrap DACA—Obama's Deferred Deportation for Childhood Arrivals—within six months, giving Congress a small window to legalize them before he starts mass deporting.

And, then, instead of seeking a clean, standalone Dreamer bill, ultra-restrictionist White House aide Stephen Miller—working with ultra-restrictionist Republican Senator Tom Cotton—are using this issue to advance a sweeping restrictionist reform agenda.

But no right-thinking Congressional leaders should go along with their list of demands. If there were ever any reason to shutdown the government, stopping this obscene and expensive fiscal and moral chicanery would be it.

Nativists in the Trump Administration Are Demanding Ransom for Dreamers

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 11:45:00 -0400

It was too much to hope for that President Trump would actually honor the informal deal that he cut with congressional Democrats to offer permanent legal status to DREAMers (named after the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) in exchange for some "reasonable" immigration enforcement measures. After all, these are immigrants who, through no fault of their own, were brought to this country without proper authorization as children. But the White House's 70-odd list of demands released over the weekend under the influence of ultra-restrictionist White House aide Stephen Miller reads more like a ransom note than a good-faith opening bid for an eventual compromise. It'll criminalize far more immigrants than it'll legalize DREAMers, defeating the whole purpose of the exercise. Should President Trump not back down, Democrats will have little reason to continue to negotiate. Last month, President Trump abruptly ended the Obama-era DACA (Deferred Action Against Childhood Arrivals) program that gave qualified DREAMers a reprieve from deportation and told Congress that it had six months to legalize them permanently before he starts deporting them in March when the first round of DACA protection expires. Basically, he set up a ticking time bomb to extract maximum leverage to negotiate tough border security measures. But the failure of Republicans to repeal and replace ObamaCare has made Trump desperate for a legislative victory so he had been showing a new willingness to negotiate with Democrats. But Miller—the White House's sole remaining nativist after Breitbart chief Stephen Bannon was booted out—wants not just enhanced border security but to stop immigration of every kind: legal and illegal, employment and family-based, refugees and asylum seekers. The Daily Beast reports that he worked with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a fellow ultra-restrictionist, to put Trump on the spot by working up a sweeping anti-immigration demand list. Expectedly, this list, that the White House had no choice but to embrace to avoid losing face with its nativist base, doubles down on the standard restrictionist demands such as more funding for a border wall—which Trump had indicated to Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) he'd be willing to skip—and 10,000 more border patrol agents. In addition, Miller and Cotton want more "interior enforcement"—which includes not just hunting down and deporting unauthorized aliens in the country—but also mandatory E-verify that would require employers to check the work authorization status of every new employee, citizen and non-citizen, against a federal database. But the big poison pill is this: Of the 11 million unauthorized aliens in the country, about two million are DREAMers and 4.5 million are visa overstays who entered the country legally but whose visas expired (the rest entered the country without proper papers). Currently, these latter folks are guilty of a civil infraction akin to an unpaid parking ticket. They can be deported for it but can't be thrown in jail, which is a good thing since it is very easy for people to fall out of status given America's slow and screwed up immigration bureaucracy that makes the DMV look like a picture of efficiency. But Miller and Cotton would make overstaying a visa a criminal offense and disbar visa overstays from any immigration "benefit" for three years if they overstayed for 180 days and 10 years if one year. This means that if these folks marry, say, an American citizen, they would still be barred from applying for a green card or even a fiancé or spouse visa. Ditto for a student, investor, or any other kind of visa. Basically, in exchange for legalizing two million DREAMers, Miller and Cotton would consign twice as many visa overstays to permanent illegality by taking away practically every option for regaining their legal status, exacerbating the very problem that the current exercise is trying to solve. But there's more. Miller and Cotton would also cri[...]

The Trump Administration Wants to Holds Dreamers Hostage to Advance a Sweeping Restrictionist Agenda

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 11:55:00 -0400

This week the Trump administration released its list of "border security" conditions in exchange for legalizing (image) Dreamers—folks brought to this country without authorization as children—who will otherwise face deportation in March. That's when Trump's decision to scrap the Obama-era DACA program giving them a temporary reprieve from deportation will go into effect.

But Trump's list of conditions seems less like an opening bid for an eventual compromise and more like a ransom note by a hostage taker, I note in my Week column. That's not a surprise given that ultra-restrictionist White House aide Stephen Miller concocted the list in conjunction with ultra-restrictionist Congressman Tom Cotton. But it's conditions have nothing to do with enhancing border security and everything to do with advancing a sweeping nativist agenda—and it'll criminalize far more immigrants than the Dreamers it will legalize.

The irony, however, is that some members of the Freedom Caucus—the alleged crusaders of fiscal responsibility—are threatening to shutdown the government if these conditions, including $20 billion for a border wall, are not embraced. In this instance, Democrats should respond in kind and threaten to shutdown the government too if these conditions are embraced!

Go here to read the piece.

Chinese Dissident Ai Weiwei Explores the Tragedy of the Refugee Crisis

Wed, 11 Oct 2017 14:15:00 -0400

Ai Weiwei is arguably the best-known contemporary artist alive today. Years of beatings, detention, and house arrest by the Chinese government only fueled his fame in the West. Now living in exile in Germany, the artist has shifted focus from the repressions of his homeland to the global refugee crisis.

"In the year I was born my father was exiled," Weiwei told Reason. "As a poet he was forbidden to write for 20 years. I grew up...being completely discriminated [against] and mistreated. Yes, it is very similar to a refugee's condition."

His debut feature film, Human Flow, which will be released in the U.S. this week, chronicles the physical and emotional journeys of some of the world's 65 million refugees as they flee their homelands. It was shot in over 20 countries.

"It's not only tragic to the refugees," says Weiwei, "but it's rather tragic to humanity, to our understanding about who we are."

Coinciding with the release of the film, Weiwei is unveiling a major public art project in New York City, erecting hundreds of symbolic barriers around the five boroughs. "It's about territory. It's about borders. It's about immigration."

State restrictions on the rights of individuals to travel is a major theme in Weiwei's work—and life. For over four years, the Chinese government held Weiwei's passport, making it impossible for him to leave the country.

"As an artist, I would have shows in worldwide institutions I could not really attend," he says. The government was "trying to reduce my voice or my possibility for creativity."

In 2015, the Chinese government returned Weiwei's passport, freeing him to leave China. Recently he's been traveling to promote his film and oversee the installation of his work in New York City—enjoying a freedom of movement the artist wants none of us to take for granted.

Produced and edited by Meredith Bragg. Shot by Austin Bragg. Music by Kai Engel.

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Libertarian Globalism Versus Economic Nationalism

Thu, 05 Oct 2017 09:30:00 -0400

During a recent conversation with a long-time friend and founder of one of Washington, DC's leading free market think tanks, I mentioned in passing that as a libertarian I am a cosmopolitan globalist. He had asked me what I thought of Donald Trump his administration and I told him that while I still had some hope he would roll back excessive federal regulation his anti-globalism was badly misguided and destructive. My friend's response was vehement—not about Trump, but about the globalism. To be a globalist in his mind is the moral equivalent of a Marxist, countenancing elites conferring power on vast, unaccountable international bureaucracies, undercutting national sovereignty, and imposing uniform progressive policies to establish some sort of one-world government. That is certainly not what I mean by globalism. To clear up this misunderstanding between two people working to expand the sphere of liberty, this is how I explain globalism. Finding a coherent outline of Trumpian anti-globalism is diffcult, but Breitbart writer Virgil offers one description, "Trump's Nationalist Vision vs. the Gospel of Globalism." Virgil decries a "vision of a borderless world, with minimal restrictions on exports and imports. (And, of course, minimal restrictions on the transit, also, of people.)" The chief tenets of economic nationalism address concerns about the abridgement of sovereignty by "various murky transnational enterprises," the threat that immigrants pose to American jobs and culture, and the menace of international free trade. Globalism, on the other hand implies globalization, or worldwide economic, financial, trade, and communications integration. Globalization opens local and national perspectives to an interconnected, interdependent world fueled by the free movement of capital, goods, labor, and services across national frontiers. This outlook is quite congenial to proponents of individual liberty. "Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries," the Libertarian Party platform asserts. "Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders." My friend is clearly worried about the dangers to liberty posed by "murky transnational enterprises." He has a point. I have in the past warned about "policy laundering," when activists (and their allied bureaucrats and politicians) use treaties or other international agreements to impose rules, regulations, taxes, and mandates without domestic political support. This rationale amounts to "The treaty (or agreement) made me do it." It is well to remember, however, that treaties between nation-states frequently have coordinated policies that enhance liberty. Although Trump has decried various trade treaties like NAFTA, such agreements have boosted economic growth and made most Americans better off. Years of research provides overwhelming evidence that globalization is good for you. Cancelling NAFTA would not create more jobs for Americans, it would decimate them. "These trade agreements have left us freer," says Dan Griswold, the co-director of Mercatus' Program on the American Economy and Globalization, "And I think libertarians should support that." Increasing international trade promotes peace. Evidence has mounted proving the aphorism, "when goods don't cross borders, soldiers will," often misattributed to 19th century French economist Frederic Bastiat, correct. The world has become less violent as capitalist peace has expanded. "When it's cheaper to buy things than to steal them, people don't steal them," explains Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, "Also, if other people are more valuable to you alive than dead, you're less likely to kill them." Economic nationalists are nativists. So Trump and other self-described economic nationalis[...]

Feds Give Americans the Frog Treatment

Mon, 02 Oct 2017 12:00:00 -0400

You've probably heard the adage about how to cook a frog. If you put a frog in a pot of hot water, it will jump out. The trick is to put it in cold water and raise the temperature slowly. Then the frog won't notice. Most Americans didn't notice an item in the Federal Register the other day. It announced a plan by the Department of Homeland Security to collect social media information on American citizens, including their "handles" and even their search results. The proposal extends existing government investigation and surveillance of individuals who go through the immigration process. That includes anybody with a work or student visa, lawful permanent residents, and persons who have sworn an oath to support and defend the United States as part of becoming a naturalized citizen. The proposal to track the social-media activity of U.S. citizens shows just how far the surveillance state has come in the past couple of decades. After 9/11, Congress and the Bush administration authorized sweeping new surveillance powers through the Patriot Act and executive fiat. Back then, warrantless wiretaps, demands for library records, the use of national security letters, and the like struck many people as alarming steps toward a police state, and they became the subject of endless news coverage. Partisanship drove some of the concern, naturally. Republican presidents are assumed to be warmongering fascists who hate civil liberties until proven otherwise, and the expansion of the surveillance state conveniently confirmed that suspicion about George W. Bush. But the spike in domestic spying alarmed many small-government conservatives, too, and the concern produced occasional efforts to dial the needle back. Scrutiny of domestic spying fell off the cliff around Jan. 20, 2009, when Barack Obama took the oath of office. But the new administration did not improve upon the old one and was even worse in some respects. Warrantless electronic surveillance through "pen register" and "trap and trace" authorizations skyrocketed under Obama, for instance. The Democratic president also not only signed extensions of the Patriot Act, he pushed Congress to pass them and, at one point, sought an even longer extension than House Republicans were seeking. All of this attracted less notice, less concern, and less coverage. When it did get coverage, it often appeared in the "vitamin pages"—B12, A16, etc. So domestic spying continued apace. And it did so even after Edward Snowden blew the lid off secret programs such as PRISM, through which the NSA vacuums up vast amounts of data about Internet traffic. The Trump administration has turned the knob another couple of clicks. Until public outrage forced it to retreat, the Justice Department was demanding that an internet web-hosting company turn over personal information about more than 1 million American visitors to an anti-Trump website that had been used by a couple hundred activists to disrupt Trump's inauguration. "The government values and respects the First Amendment right of all Americans to participate in peaceful protests," the Justice Department now says, "and to read protected political expression online." The government has not yet backed down on its demand for social-media information about Americans and American residents. And since the proposal primarily targets immigrants, it likely will encounter less resistance than a broader measure would. But a narrow measure that primarily targets foreigners while including some Americans can set a precedent, making broader social-media surveillance of all Americans later seem less radical than it otherwise would. In response to concerns like these, some might ask: What of it? What's the big deal? If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear. That is an easy argument to make in the abstract, but how many people would apply it in their own lives? You probably have nothing to hide at[...]

Trump's New Travel Ban: Mean and Senseless

Fri, 29 Sep 2017 17:45:00 -0400

President Trump's revised travel ban can no longer be fairly characterized as a Muslim ban. But just because it avoids the overt appearance of religious discrimination of the first couple iterations doesn't mean there's anything remotely rational about it. If anything, it shows that the president isn't really interested in "making America safe again." He mostly wants to settle scores with regimes he doesn't like. Before the latest changes, Trump wanted to restrict travel from Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Iran. That ban was set to expire at the end of this month. The revised ban includes all those countries except Sudan, and bizarrely adds Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela. And there is no end date to it. The administration maintains that it developed its list after a through worldwide review and targeted only those countries that don't comply with its minimal standards for improving security and identifying terror threats. For example, countries that don't already issue biometric passports to their citizens and share terrorism and criminal history with the United States (or haven't committed to doing so in the future) were included. And if they show progress, they could be removed from the list at some point. But the administration also admits that other broader considerations played a role. At the level of politics, this list is clever. By adding North Korea and Venezuela, the administration dodges accusations that it is imposing a religious test on Muslim-majority countries while also sticking it to governments that the president has been tangling with for reasons that have nothing to do with terrorism. At the level of policy, however, the new ban is cheap, cruel, and senseless. It is cheap because it makes U.S. foreign policy a function of presidential whims and personal vendettas — not broader principles of what's good for the country or the world. There are many things wrong with the governments of North Korea and Venezuela, but their citizens haven't shown any inclination to come to America and harm Americans. (Stopping such would-be terrorists was the original rationale for the ban.) Indeed, North Korea doesn't even let its people leave the country lest it trigger a mass exodus of people trying to flee poverty and oppression. Last year, exactly 110 North Koreans came to the United States. If North Koreans actually could leave, America should embrace them with open arms, giving them safe passage rather than erecting barriers in their way. Depriving their communist dictatorship of victims, after all, might well be the quickest way of neutralizing the North Korea threat. Indeed, Soviet communism ended — without a single shot being fired — when the Berlin Wall fell and East Germans came pouring into the West in search of freedom and prosperity. The ban's restrictions against Venezuela are more targeted, applying mostly to government officials and not the broader population. This is not as objectionable as banning citizens. But putting Venezuela on this list still smacks of mission creep and dilutes its original purpose. The simple reason State Department officials included it is to appease President Trump's disdain for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, with whom he's been openly sparring. The ban is cruel because, as Amnesty International's Naureen Shah points out, it bars "whole nationalities of people who are often fleeing the very same violence the U.S. government wishes to keep out." Syria, along with North Korea, faces a complete ban on all new entries. Some Somalis will be allowed to come to the United States for tourist or business purposes with "enhanced screening." But they will no longer be able to emigrate by obtaining green cards, except, presumably, in very limited categories where they have a substantial relationship with an American citizen, something that the courts have instructed the adminis[...]

Trump's Whitewashed New Travel Ban: New at Reason

Fri, 29 Sep 2017 17:45:00 -0400

Donald Trump has whitewashed – so to speak – his new Muslim travel ban so that it does not look like a Muslim travel ban by throwing North (image) Korea and Venezuela on the list of banned countries. This will allow his to settle his personal vendetta with these two countries while making the legal challenges to the ban easier to withstand.

That may be clever politics, notes Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia, but will it Make America Safe Again?

Not one iota.

Trump's Latest Travel Ban Is Just As Legal but Not Much Smarter

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 18:05:00 -0400

It looks like the third time may be the charm for Donald Trump's travel ban, which he revised again on Sunday, dropping Sudan from the list of targeted countries while adding Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela. Yesterday the Supreme Court responded by canceling oral argument in the case challenging the second version of the travel ban, which expires next month. Assuming the Court decides the case is moot, critics would have to start again in a U.S. district court if they want to challenge the latest version, and their legal arguments would be weaker. The new order, which does not have an expiration date, imposes restrictions that vary by country. The ban on Venezuelan visitors, for instance, applies only to government officials and their families, while the ban on North Koreans, who obtained a grand total of 100 or so U.S. visas last year, has no exceptions. Neither does the ban on Syrians, and the door is closed almost completely for citizens of Chad, Libya, and Yemen. Iranians can still come as students, but not as immigrants, tourists, or business people. Somalis can come as visitors but not as immigrants. Like the second set of travel restrictions, issued on March 6 after the first one led to airport chaos and swift legal challenges, the third one, styled as a "presidential proclamation" rather than an executive order, does not apply to legal permanent residents or current visa holders. The official rationales for selecting these seven countries are based on the extent to which they serve as havens for terrorists as well as their ability and willingness to share information needed to properly screen travelers. The proclamation describes some governments, such as Iran's and North Korea's, as mainly or entirely uncooperative, while it describes others, such as Chad's and Yemen's, as important allies against terrorism that nonetheless do not currently meet U.S. security criteria. The proclamation says the countries were picked based on a "worldwide review" by the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security that took several months, which makes the process look considerably more rational and deliberative than the one that gave birth to the original travel ban, issued a week after Trump took office. The addition of Venezuela and North Korea to the list, which has very little impact in terms of visa numbers, is clearly designed to allay the impression that Trump is targeting Muslims. "The fact that Trump has added North Korea—with few visitors to the U.S.—and a few government officials from Venezuela doesn't obfuscate the real fact that the administration's order is still a Muslim ban," says Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "President Trump's original sin of targeting Muslims cannot be cured by throwing other countries onto his enemies list." But the argument that the travel ban amounted to unconstitutional religious discrimination was already a stretch, especially since critics conceded that the very same order could have been legal if it had been issued by Hillary Clinton. The constitutional case against the order hinged on Trump's loose campaign talk about banning all Muslims from entering the country. But he never actually pursued that policy, and the latest version of his travel ban, framed in religiously neutral terms and based on a purportedly rigorous security review, seems even further removed from it. That does not mean the travel ban makes sense as a matter of policy, as my colleague Shikha Dalmia notes in her latest column for The Week. Since 1975, Cato Institute immigration analyst Alex Nowrasteh found, no Americans have been killed on U.S. soil by terrorists from any of the countries targeted by Trump's first two orders. That remains true of the latest list, he reports. "The national security justification for th[...]

Trump's New Travel Ban Is More Incoherent and Just as Useless As the Old

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 12:21:00 -0400

Donald Trump's latest travel ban is much more likely to withstand legal challenges against it on grounds that it (image) imposes an unconstitutional religious test on foreigners than its initial iterations. But that's not because it is any less discriminatory than the previous "Muslim" ban. It is because it found a clever way to whitewash its actual intent by also throwing in the mix non-Muslim countries like North Korea and Venezuela that are on the president's shit list for other reasons.

Turning foreign policy into a tool for settling personal vendettas might be politically clever, I note in my morning column at The Week. But it won't make America safe from terrorists.

Motivated terrorists don't need a permission slip from the government to enter the country. They will find ways to do so. But the foreigners whom the ban will manage to keep out are precisely the ones who mean America no harm and are fleeing the very terrorists that threaten this country. Indeed, foreigners from the banned countries killed precisely zero Americans on American soil from 1975 to 2015.

In short, the ban won't Make America Safe Again. It will just raise the hysteria level yet again.

Go here to read the whole thing.

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 s[...]

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.[...]