Published: Sun, 04 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500
Last Build Date: Sun, 04 Dec 2016 17:54:26 -0500
Tue, 29 Nov 2016 17:13:00 -0500Today through Tuesday, December 6, Reason is running its annual webathon. We're asking readers of this site to make tax-deductible donations in dollars and Bitcoin to Reason Foundation, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that publishes our award-winning journalism in video, audio, and print form. Different giving levels come with different levels of swag, which you can read about here. All school killings are horrifying and yet they are made somehow even more terrible when you know the place in question. Monday's attempted mass killing at Ohio State University, in which the would-be mastermind ended up being the only death, was particularly harrowing for me because my older son had just graduated from the place this past spring (thankfully, he was sitting just a few feet from me when the news reports started coming in). Jesus, really, what kind of world are we living in? Another day, another mass attack, right? The world is getting more dangerous, according to both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. No, but it seems that way, which is good enough for partisans of the right and the left who are constantly looking for ways to lock down your freedom. Abdul Razak Ali Artan, the apparent assailant who was shot to death after running at people in his car and wielding a butcher knife, was born in Somalia and was Muslim, so the right is already shouting about how this proves we need to kick out all immigrants, especially Muslims, and wall off (or is it wall in?) America. Never mind that native-born Americans commit 90 percent of terrorism-related murders and that the odds of being killed in such an event come in around 1 in 3.6 million. Donald Trump and a host of conservative types know what they know: Trump has recommended "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on"—a plan that his own running mate called "offensive and unconstitutional." More recently Trump has said the moratorium should apply to all visitors from countries "compromised by terrorism," a category that arguably includes most of the world. On the broadly defined left, the Ohio State attack is ultimately about the need to curtail gun ownership and all that implies. The incident was initially (and erroneously) reported as an "active shooter" event, leading to folks ranging from Democratic vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine to California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to the news site Vox.com calling for more gun control. Just as Republicans and conservatives feel compelled to act out certain scripts over and over again (like the "hosts" on HBO's Westworld), so too do Democrats and liberals. At Reason, we've got our default settings too, and we wear them on our sleeves and every issue of the magazine: We believe in "Free Minds and Free Markets." As libertarians, we think the starting point should always be in favor of individual liberty to live how you want; to eat, smoke, drink, and marry whom you want; to dress how you want; and on and on. But we're not mindless automatons running the same script over and over. We work to engage the world and discover new facts and frameworks that change how we might think about things. The right can't internalize the idea that crime has gone down as immigrants have gone up any more than the left can deal with more guns correlating with less crime. I write as the world's most reluctant and worst shot—I've fired real guns a few times in my life and am lucky when I hit the sky or the ground—but I'm in favor of strong Second Amendment rights. That's less than simply because they are in the Consitution and more because I can recognize that over the past quarter-century gun laws have been vastly liberalized (as liberals never stop to remind us) and violent gun crime and murder have decreased by half. One good reason to support Reason's journalism is that in a world of knee-jerk media and politicians, we don't immediately use every current event as fodder to simply push a longstanding agenda. This results in some great journalism you won't see anywhere e[...]
Mon, 28 Nov 2016 12:00:00 -0500
Daniel Hannan is one of Brexit's biggest champions. A Member of the European Parliament and a leading Euroskeptic, Hannan's advocacy of withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union has earned him international attention. While critics regarded the "Vote Leave" campaign as a dangerous retreat from globalization, Hannan has made consistent, libertarian arguments for withdrawal as a path towards greater democracy and free markets.
Noting the E.U.'s sluggish economic growth rates and its failure to establish free trade agreements with China and India, Hannan believes the U.K. should take charge of its own economic destiny. "I want people to be making the ethical argument for free trade as the supreme instrument of poverty alleviation, of conflict resolution and of social justice," Hannan says. He adds, "It's the multinationals that thrive on the distortions and the tariffs and the quotas, he says. "And it's the poor who will benefit most from their removal."
Hannan pushes back against the charge of Brexit as a symptom of xenophobia. Following the Brexit win, he says, poll numbers demonstrate that voters were most concerned with sovereignty. "All of the polls were very clear that the biggest issue was democracy. Immigration was a very distant second," he says. "People wanted a sense of control and I think that's a perfectly legitimate thing."
With Brexit not taking effect until 2019 and the terms of withdrawal not yet negotiated, the United Kingdom's future has rarely seemed so uncertain. In two year's time, the U.K. will have the opportunity to decide on its own policies of trade and immigration. Hannan is confident his country will do the right thing.
Reason is the planet's leading source of news, politics, and culture from a libertarian perspective. Go to reason.com for a point of view you won't get from legacy media and old left-right opinion magazines.
Interview by Nick Gillespie. Edited by Alex Manning. Camera by Meredith Bragg and Jim Epstein.
Mon, 28 Nov 2016 11:15:00 -0500Any hope that the prospect of occupying the White House would dampen Donald Trump's fondness for conspiracist crap seems to have been misplaced. Likewise the hope that he would prove gracious in victory. After a brief burst of magnanimity on election night, he has reverted to form. "In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide," he bragged on Twitter yesterday, "I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally." Trump says any recount of votes in the presidential election is "a scam," since it will not affect the outcome. Yet he also claims "millions of people" voted illegally. Can both propositions be true? Only if you assume, as Trump apparently does, that millions of illegal voters 1) exist and 2) favor Hillary Clinton. A couple of weeks ago, Politifact found no evidence to back up reports by websites such as InfoWars, Milo, The New American, and Freedom Daily that more than 3 million votes were cast by noncitizens in this month's election. The source of that claim, Republican activist Gregg Phillips, said it was based on an "analysis of [a] database of 180 million voter registrations," but he declined to say where the information came from or how he had analyzed it. Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, told Politifact "the idea that 3 million noncitizens could have illegally voted in our elections without being detected is obscenely ludicrous." Here is what Hasen told Politico about Trump's claim that "millions of people" voted illegally: There's no reason to believe this is true. The level of fraud in US elections is quite low....We're talking claims in the dozens. We're not talking voting in the millions, or the thousands, or even the hundreds. Politifact's Allison Graves noted that claims about widespread voting by noncitizens got a boost from a 2014 study estimating that 6.4 percent of noncitizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent voted in 2010. But the survey data on which that study was based were flawed because some respondents accidentally gave the wrong answer to a question about their citizenship. Three researchers who reinterviewed participants in the survey found that a small percentage changed their answers to that question. "It appears as though about 0.1-0.3 percent of respondents are citizens who incorrectly identify themselves as non-citizens in the survey," they explained in The Washington Post last month. "With a sample size of 19,000, even this low rate of error can result in a number of responses that appear notable when they are not."[...]
Fri, 25 Nov 2016 12:00:00 -0500Even as the mighty Statue of Liberty beckons the world's "poor and huddled masses" to America's shores, Americans themselves have been ambivalent, to put it mildly, about how many newcomers ought to be welcomed and from where. To the extent that a pro-immigration consensus has existed, it was always an uneasy one. But Donald Trump's meteoric political rise after embracing an extreme restrictionist agenda has shattered that fragile status quo, dividing pundits and public, academics and analysts throughout the 2016 election season. There's an absence of good polling data to shine a light on how immigrants themselves feel about this issue, but it's clear that even they don't all agree. George J. Borjas is a celebrated Harvard University economist who emigrated from Cuba to the United States with his mother at the age of 12, three years after Fidel Castro's regime took over the country and confiscated his father's garment factory. He has made vital contributions to many fields of economics, especially immigration, and has a new book, We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative, out this month. In it, he challenges the notion that immigration is "universally beneficial." Shikha Dalmia is a Reason Foundation analyst and a native of New Delhi, India, who came to America 31 years ago as an idealistic student looking to escape the corruption of a socialistic mixed economy. She writes extensively about immigration and firmly believes America shuts the door on outsiders at its economic and spiritual peril. What follows is a spirited exchange between the two on the empirical claims and proposed policy prescriptions in We Wanted Workers. Dear Professor Borjas:Let me congratulate you on a book that is a model of clarity. We Wanted Workers systematically walks readers through the immigration literature. Along the way, it offers a sense of the immensely knotty methodological problems that bedevil the dismal science. Also, I agree completely that the "overreliance on economic modeling and statistical findings" on this subject is a regrettable development that fosters the notion that "purely technocratic determinations of public policy" are possible. In fact, the scientific hubris underlying such efforts prevents a full airing of the normative and ideological commitments that ultimately do—and perhaps should—guide policy. That said, the more I read, the more despondent I got. The publisher's teaser promises that the book "takes a fresh and thought-provoking new look" that parses the claims on the "two extreme poles" of those calling for "tougher laws…in a racially tinged discourse" on one end and those pushing for "more open policies" on the other. But the book focused almost exclusively on the second target while largely ignoring the first, even when its own facts warranted a smackdown. You point out that the pro-immigration camp's claims that America is a magnet for the "best and brightest" are overblown because which foreigners—high-skilled or low-skilled—make a beeline for America depends on how well their skills are rewarded in their own country. Highly egalitarian countries such as Denmark lose their highly skilled workers because, relative to less-skilled counterparts, their labor is rewarded less well, whereas the reverse is the case in highly inegalitarian countries such as Mexico. That's an interesting thesis, but it doesn't explain India, my native country, which has extreme inequality and is among the biggest "donors" of high-skilled talent. It was odd that you shoehorned India into the same category as Canada and Australia as a country with "less inequality." But America's genius is not that it draws the best people but that it draws out the best from people, which is why even the world's "wretched" manage to make something of themselves here. Indeed, the essential thing for "success" is not a college degree but drive, which those with the cojones to uproot themselves and make the difficult schlep to a foreign land have in [...]
Fri, 18 Nov 2016 12:15:00 -0500Today's lesson in why you shouldn't build a pervasive and all-powerful surveillance state because it might one day end up in the tiny hands of a Donald Trump comes courtesy of the news that Trump could resurrect a Bush-era registration system for Muslims entering the United States. According to Reuters, which spoke with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an immigration hardliner and key member of Trump's transition team, the new administration could reconstitute the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System. The NSEERS program was implemented after 9/11 and required people from so-called "higher risk" countries to undergo interrogations and fingerprinting when they entered the United States and were required to periodically "check in" at government offices while they were here. Trump's transition team is reportedly considering using the registration program as a way to meet The Donald's campaign promise to implement "extreme vetting" for Muslim immigrants. Kobach helped develop NSEERS as a member of Bush's Department of Justice. The only problem with The NSEERS program—which was shuttered in 2011—was that it was completely ineffective at its stated goal: catching potential terrorists. During the nine years that the program was in place, more than 93,000 immigrants were screened and none—not a single one—was ever convicted on terrorism-related charges. According to the ACLU, the program "singled out immigrant men and boys from designated countries for extraordinary registration requirements with DHS, ranging from an extra half-hour of screening on arrival, through tracking of whereabouts while in the United States, to limitations on points of departure." The scale of profiling was something not seen in the United States since the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II and "Operation Wetback" deportations to Mexico in the 1950s. Even within the federal government's immigration and anti-terrorism apparatuses, it was looked on as a mistake. James Ziegler, the former commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Commission, told the New York Times that the program disrupted the United States' relationship with immigrant communities after 9/11 and wasted resources that could have been better deployed elsewhere. It's not hard to figure out why the program failed to identify any potential terrorists. It was, by nature, targeting only law-abiding immigrants. As Reason's Shikha Dalmia wrote last year: "Expecting terrorists to voluntarily stroll to an immigration office to be fingerprinted and IDed is absurd, of course. So the entirely predictable upshot of the program was that although it managed to obtain not a single terrorism-related conviction, it did ruin plenty of lives of peaceful Muslims caught in its dragnet." People like Abdulameer Yousef Habeeb, a refugee from Iraq whose story demonstrates exactly how the NSEERS program was abused by law enforcement. As a refugee, Habeeb was not required to register with NSEERS, but he was stopped by border agents while traveling via train from Seattle to Washington, D.C., in April 2003. The agents wrongly accused Habeeb of violating NSEERS mandatory registration and detained him for more than a week, causing him to lose the job that he was traveling to Washington, D.C., to accept. After a lawsuit from the ACLU, the federal government eventually admitted they were wrong to have detained Habeeb. And people like Imad Daou, a Lebanese national and graduate student at Texas A&M who was engaged to be married when he was detained for two months and eventually deported for failing to register in the NSEERS program. Though the program was no good at catching terrorists, it did help authorities deport thousands of immigrants, like Daou, who had done nothing worse than overstay their visa. The program was suspended by the Obama administration in 2011, but Obama didn't fully dismantle it. Instead, Vox reports, Obama simply removed all 25 "high risk" [...]
Fri, 18 Nov 2016 10:50:00 -0500
"So long as people are coming here to live peacefully and work peacefully," says Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia, the burden should be on the government "to show to us why they shouldn't be here."
Dalmia sat down with Nick Gillespie to talk about the scary prospects for U.S. immigration policy in the incoming Trump administration. Particularly worrisome is that Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) is Trump's chief adviser on immigration. He's uniquely dangerous, Dalmia says, and has broken with the Republican Party by opposing high-skilled immigration—even floating a proposal to scrap the H1-B visa program.
Watch the video above for the full conversation.
Interview by Nick Gillespie. Produced by Justin Monticello. Camera by Meredith Bragg and Jim Epstein. Music by Silent Partner.
For more from Dalmia on immigration, listen to our recent podcast interview below.
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Wed, 16 Nov 2016 15:30:00 -0500
Trump is setting the stage "for a full scale war on immigration [that will] reprise the war on drugs," says Shikha Dalmia, a policy analyst at the Reason Foundation and a columnist at The Week. She fears that the federal government will start "giving incentives to catch illegals" just as it does in the drug war. The mayors of so-called sanctuary cities like New York and Chicago have vowed to protect illegal immigrant residents from Trump, but with the right incentives, Dalmia say, they may "come to heel after all."
Nick Gillespie interviewed Dalmia in our latest podcast. Click below to listen to that conversation, or better yet subscribe to our podcast at iTunes.
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Wed, 16 Nov 2016 13:50:00 -0500
(image) Thanks to his predecessors, Donald Trump already has the tools to launch an amped-up immigration crackdown as soon as he takes office. That doesn't mean he won't ask for yet more powers, but a formidable police apparatus is already in place. So when it comes to immigration, the immediate political conflict to watch will the one that pits that apparatus and the president atop it against the people in a position to slow it down.
We got an early glimpse of that last week, when New York Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested that he might destroy a city database that contains information on undocumented New Yorkers (*) rather than allow the feds to get their hands on it. (If you're in New York City illegally you can still apply for a city ID card, making it easier to report crimes, open bank accounts, and otherwise participate more smoothly in social life. Immigrants aren't the only people who use the program, but the info would obviously be useful to the deportation squads.) Several other cities—including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington—issue similar cards, setting up other potential federal/local conflicts.
New York is also a "sanctuary city," which basically means that its local cops do not investigate people's immigration status. More than 200 cities and counties have adopted such policies, in part because of human-rights concerns but mostly for practical reasons: If people are worried about being arrested for immigration violations, they're much less likely to cooperate with police investigating other crimes. Trump has threatened to use the power of the purse to bring the sanctuary cities in line, declaring that he'll cut off all their federal funding if they don't yield. That in turn has inspired some defiant talk from urban officials: Besides de Blasio, the mayors of Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Providence, San Francisco, and Seattle have all said they'll stand by their sanctuary status.
On the state level, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo struck a similar note over the weekend: "If anyone feels that they are under attack, I want them to know that the state of New York—the state that has the Statue of Liberty in its harbor—is their refuge....We won't allow a federal government that attacks immigrants to do so in our state." It's unclear what that might mean in policy terms, and it could just turn out to be posturing. But if the deportation drive sparks a serious civil disobedience movement—meaning not simply marches and the like, but active refusal to cooperate with the enforcers and organized attempts to shield immigrants from removal—then a sympathetic governor could make a genuine difference. If the movement can hold him to his words.
(* OK: They're otherwise undocumented, as a stickler in the comments points out.)
Tue, 15 Nov 2016 11:15:00 -0500The moment in President-elect Donald Trump's interview with 60 Minutes' Lesley Stahl this past Sunday which has left the greatest impression on supporters and detractors alike is the following exchange: Lesley Stahl: What about the pledge to deport millions and millions of undocumented immigrants? Donald Trump: What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate. But we're getting them out of our country, they're here illegally. After the border is secured and after everything gets normalized, we're going to make a determination on the people that you're talking about who are terrific people, they're terrific people but we are gonna make a determination at that— But before we make that determination— Lesley, it's very important, we want to secure our border. Much of the protesting of Trump's election has been motivated by his stated plans to deport "two...even three million" people, but as President Obama leaves office with extraordinarily high approval ratings, the legacy of his administration regarding deportations isn't receiving the same kind of scrutiny as Trump's prospective policies. Put simply, President Obama presided over the deportations of over 2.5 million people—that's more than the previous two administrations combined over a period twice as long—and by far the most of any administration ever. Pres Obama has almost deported more unauthorized immigrants than George W. Bush and Bill Clinton combined. pic.twitter.com/7lkmoKJwbD — CSMPolitics (@csm_politics) October 24, 2016 There are some important distinctions between Trump's plan and Obama's actions. Trump has threatened to withhold federal funds from "sanctuary cities" and police departments which refuse to aid in the federal enforcement of immigration policies. Trump also intends to target those undocumented immigrants charged, but not convicted, of legal offenses, and increase the use of "expedited removals," which bypass immigration courts and grant immigration officers the authority to immediately expel people from the country. As far as Trump's ambition to deport two or three million "bad hombres," that's more undocumented immigrants with criminal records than are currently in the country, according to the Department of Homeland Security. And even if there were more than the reported 1.9 million "criminal" aliens on this side of the border, there are still laws preventing a mass deportation on the scale Trump proposes. The Independent explains: Under the Due Process Clause all illegal immigrants are afforded rights under the US Constitution and are entitled to full removal proceedings in court. The president can't deport by edict and since the courts are operating under a major backlog, they won't be deported immediately in a rerun of Eisenhower's Operation Wetback, when hundreds of Mexicans were illegally deported without being given the chance to prove their citizenship. As far as the "terrific people"—the undocumented immigrants without criminal records Trump referred to in his 60 Minutes interview—their fate under the next administration will have to wait until "everything gets normalized," which could be a while. Below you can watch my Reason TV doc "How Obama's War on Drugs Destroys Legal Immigrant Families": src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9NfXucgigAA" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0">[...]
Mon, 14 Nov 2016 08:30:00 -0500
(image) When Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign in June 2015, he described Mexican immigrants as "people that have lots of problems," including drug traffickers, rapists, and other criminals. He graciously added that "some, I assume, are good people." Last night on 60 Minutes, by contrast, Trump said most undocumented immigrants are "terrific people," although 2 million or so (about 18 percent) are criminals who need to be locked up or deported. That is no mere change of emphasis, since Trump is no longer talking about deporting all 11 million unauthorized residents of the United States, along with their U.S.-citizen children.
When Lesley Stahl asked Trump about his "pledge to deport millions and millions of undocumented immigrants," the president-elect said, "After the border is secured and after everything gets normalized, we're going to make a determination on the people that you're talking about, who are terrific people." That stance is consistent with the immigration "softening" that Trump mentioned last August. Back then he admitted that some immigrants who live in this country without the government's permission are "great, great people" and suggested he was open to legalizing them. Although there would be "no citizenship" and "no amnesty as such," he said, if they "pay back taxes" he would be willing to "work with them."
Appearing on CNN's State of the Union yesterday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) confirmed that Trump does not intend to carry out the sort of mass deportation he frequently advocated during his campaign. "I'm a person who believes that, for the undocumented, we have to come up with a solution that doesn't involve mass deportation, that involves giving people the ability to get right with the law to come and earn a legal status while we fix the rest of legal immigration," Ryan said. "I think we should put people's minds at ease. That is not what our focus is. That is not what we're focused on. We're focused on securing the border....We are not planning on [creating] a deportation force. Donald Trump's not planning on that."
If Trump really has given up on deporting all unauthorized immigrants, he may simply be acceding to reality. As the American Civil Liberties Union noted last July, "Trump's mass deportation scheme would mean arresting more than 15,000 people a day on immigration charges, seven days a week, 365 days a year." Even if that were practical, the ACLU observed, "there is no conceivable mechanism to accomplish the roundup that Trump has promised while respecting basic constitutional rights."
Fri, 11 Nov 2016 16:45:00 -0500The irony of the Obama presidency is that its most enduring legacy might be the Great Wall of Trump. That's because President Obama made the fatal decision to use up all his political capital in his first term on health care reform, which had zero Republican support and is unlikely to survive as written. And he neglected immigration reform, which had considerable Republican support and would have survived – obviating the need for the wall and the rest of Trump's immigration nonsense. But now that we have President-elect Trump, exactly how aggressively will he pursue his draconian plans? As I noted before, his campaign agenda was plucked straight from the playbook of the nativist Center for Immigration Studies and its media acolyte, The National Review. He wants to build a big, beautiful wall on the Southern border and deploy thousands more agents to patrol it, deport millions of the undocumented along with their American families, scrap birthright citizenship, and rethink all economic immigration. The hope of pro-immigration libertarians and others has been that once in office and confronted with the humanitarian horrors, economic downside and political backlash that this agenda would unleash, Trump would back off. He has an immigrant wife who possibly worked in the country illegally so the plight of the undocumented is not unknown to him. Before he announced his candidacy, he was a friend of immigration, even attributing Romney's loss to his harsh restrictionist talk. And there was that brief moment during his campaign, after all, when he seemed to be softening and even backing off from his opposition to "amnesty." It made Ann Coulter apoplectic, but Rush Limbaugh and, if memory serves, even Sean Hannity were willing to hop on board the Trump amnesty train so his base is malleable on the issue. Furthermore, the political upside to enacting his harsh agenda is small given that "building a wall" is at the rock bottom of the priorities of GOP voters, below repealing Obamacare, fighting ISIS, tax reform, and building infrastructure. Hence, it would make political sense for him to make some cosmetic fixes to appease the more reasonable parts of base, say screw you to the alt-righters and call it a day. And there is a chance that things may still work out that way. The task of governing can have a sobering effect, after all, at least on normally constituted humans. But the first signs emanating from the Trump Tower are not promising. For starters, Trump singled out arch-restrictionist Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama for praise in his victory speech. Sessions has done more than any human alive to torpedo every sensible immigration reform effort and makes no bones about his wish to basically stop all immigration. He moves the goalposts on reform constantly, recently even calling for the elimination of the H-1B visa program for foreign techies, which sent chills down the IT sector's spine. Yet Trump described Sessions as a "great man"– signaling that Sessions has both his ear and a cabinet appointment, possibly as attorney general where he'll be in a position to inflict maximum terror on immigrants. Worse, just this afternoon he shook up his transition team to offer Rick Dearborn, Sessions chief of staff in his Washington office, the role of transition director, demoting Chris Christie and further elevating Sessions influence in his inner circle. But even more chilling is Trump's naming Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an alt-right hero, to his transition team this afternoon. Kobach, who is a "one-stop shop" for restrictionist lawmakers, is the architect of Arizona's draconian SB 1070 -- "your papers please" legislation – that basically gives authorities an open invitation for racial profiling in order to ferret out illegals. Kobach was also behind T[...]
Thu, 10 Nov 2016 00:01:00 -0500"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." So wrote H.L. Mencken a century ago. In our form of democracy, though, the people often don't get what they want. But with the election of Donald Trump, that is about to change. Among the central elements of the U.S. Constitution are checks and balances, achieved through separation of powers. The idea, James Madison wrote, is that "ambition must be made to counteract ambition." By design, Congress is a restraint on the president. The president has tools to contain Congress. The Supreme Court, whose members are chosen by the other two branches, has the last word on what they do. "In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men," explained Madison, "the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself." The scheme is the source of chronic frustration born of stalemate. Presidents fail to keep their promises because Congress rebels. Congress can't enact its agenda because it lacks the votes to override vetoes. And even if they can agree on what to do, their plans may die in the Supreme Court. The beauty of a parliamentary system is efficiency. If you elect a party that promises to take some action, you can bet the action will be taken. The prospect of getting what you vote for concentrates the mind on what you really want. Our system encourages voters to be less careful, because winning candidates often fall short of their proclaimed intentions. Barack Obama's 2009 stimulus package had to be smaller than liberal economists urged so it could pass. He got health care reform, only to see the Supreme Court invalidate significant portions. In 2008, his supporters voted for "hope and change," but the ensuing change was glacial and dispiriting. Things will be different for President Trump. His party controls both houses of Congress, and he will get to restore the Supreme Court's Republican-appointed majority. The constitutional checks will be largely irrelevant. Trump and his party will be free to do what they campaigned on. Voters who didn't take their plans literally may be surprised when they come to pass. A trade war is imminent because Trump has vowed to scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership, signed by Obama, while threatening to levy a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods and abandon NAFTA. Obamacare will be history. The nuclear deal with Iran is a dead letter. Construction will start on a border wall with Mexico, and the government will step up efforts to deport undocumented immigrants. Tax cuts to boost economic growth will become law. His supporters may cheer each achievement. But they may not be so pleased when they go to Wal-Mart or Home Depot and find that Trump's tariffs have raised the price of everything from clothing to power tools. He tweeted that instead of Obamacare, "we will have MUCH less expensive and MUCH better healthcare." Some of his supporters may miss the Affordable Care Act when they lose their coverage. What will they think when they have to pay more for something they like less? How will Trump's followers feel when Iran resumes the nuclear weapons program that Obama's deal halted—or if the United States and Israel launch a war against Iran in response? What will they say when Mexico refuses to pay for that wall? Or when it turns out that, as an editorial in The Wall Street Journal noted, deporting all the undocumented foreigners "would demand the departure, on average, of 84 buses and 47 chartered flights every day for two years"—which isn't going to happen? Trump can promise 4 percent annual GDP growth year in and year out, but he has no clue how to produce it. Trump supporters dismayed [...]
Sat, 05 Nov 2016 12:04:00 -0400Not to put too fine a point on it, but in the libertarian moral universe, liberal government programs are bad and private charity is good. In fact, one of the core libertarian arguments against government aid is not just that it is wasteful and inefficient but that it displaces private acts of philanthropy. Over time, this erodes a functioning civil society that thrives on voluntary altruism that Alexis de Tocqueville praised as the true and unique spirit of America. (Sorry Ayn Rand!) This is one reason — beyond just ordinary human decency — that libertarians should be particularly alarmed that alt-righters are now going after Chobani yogurt founder Hamdi Ulukaya for using his own money and his own resources to help resettle Syrian refugees legally admitted into America after "extreme vetting." (It takes up to three years of screening by multiple agencies before refugees are admitted into the country which is why the risk of an American being killed by a refugee-perpetrated terrorist attack is one in 3.6 billion, lower odds than dying by their clothes catching fire. Even then, since Syria's civil war began in 2011, the U.S. until last year had admitted fewer than 1,600 of Syria's estimated four million refugees. After a lot of international shaming, the Obama administration took in 10,000 Syrian refugees this year, still a pittance given that more people have been displaced in this conflict than in World War II.) As I noted in my Reason feature, "Muslim in America," post 9-11, a cottage industry of Muslim baiters has sprouted in this country that has turned demonizing Muslims from a hobby to a livelihood. Led by Pamela Geller of the Draw-the-Mohammad-Cartoon fame and gutter sites such as World Net Daily and Breitbart, they make their living off of depicting every Muslim community in America as a precursor to a caliphate in the United States. And now they've all turned their collective sights on Chobani's Ulukaya. Ulukaya, a Muslim, is the kind of immigrant success story that has Made America Great – Again and Again and Again. He came as a student in the 1990s to New York from a Turkish town near Syria. But within a few years, he started selling feta cheese and kosher yogurt made from his family recipe to a Long Island grocery store. His products were so popular that by 2005 he had purchased a defunct Kraft factory with an $800,000 loan and within 10 years turned it into a $1.5 billion yogurt empire employing 2,000 people with plants in New York and Twin Falls, Idaho. In fact, during my recent visit to Syracuse, an old white cab driver who drove me to Colgate University regaled me with stories all the way of just what a boon Chobani had been to local dairy farmers (the company purchases 4 million pounds of milk everyday) and local youth looking for decent employment (Ulukaya pays workers far above minimum wage, offers generous benefits such as company-paid maternity leave and recently pledged to give away 10 percent of the company's shares to employees). But because Ulukaya is an immigrant himself, even before the current refugee crisis, he had made it a point to hire fleeing refugees, both in upstate New York and Idaho which has a history of resettling refugees that dates back to at least the 1970s when the Vietnamese Boat People started arriving on America's shores. Indeed, Idaho, which for half a century has relied on immigrant labor for its agricultural economy, has among the largest refugee populations in the country on a per capita basis. And Ulukaya has always employed these refugees – first Nepalese, Vietnamese and others – and now also Syrians and other Muslims. About 30 percent of Ulukaya's Twin Falls factory labor force is composed of refugees because, he believes, "the minute a [...]
Tue, 01 Nov 2016 14:03:00 -0400
The Trump candidacy is a referendum on one thing: Anti-immigration restrictionism. He has wavered on many things, but not on his hardline immigration position.(image)
In fact, his plan to seal the border and cut back on all forms of legal immigration has literally been plucked from the ultra-restrictionist ideas voiced by the nativist Center for Immigration Studies and echoed by the National Review Online. Their electoral theory is that what the GOP loses in Latino voters through this hard-assed immigration plan, it'll gain in seven million missing white voters who sat out the last election. Call it the Latino-version of Richard Nixon's southern white strategy.
So how is it working out so far for the GOP?
If current polling trends hold, not very well, I note in my latest column at The Week. Although admittedly polls have tightened since the revelation last Friday that the FBI was investigating the treasure trove of Hillary e-mails found on Anthony Weiner's computer, "Trump's candidacy is [still] shaping up to be a living refutation of that argument," I note. Indeed, with the exception of Iowa and maybe Ohio, it is hard to think of any swing state where Trump's anti-immigration rhetoric will provide a November boon for Republicans. It has, however, put the GOP on track to lose four or more swing states.
Go here to view the column.
Tue, 25 Oct 2016 15:15:00 -0400Donald Trump announced his proposed plan for his first 100 days in office on Sunday, including new mandatory minimum sentences for illegal border crossings, which already make up nearly half of all federal prosecutions annually. In addition to his—frankly insane—plan to build a border wall and somehow force another sovereign nation to pay for it, Trump's proposal to thwart illegal immigration would establish "a 2-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a 5-year mandatory minimum for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions or two or more prior deportations." Currently, illegal re-entry is punishable by up to two years in prison, although a prior criminal record can add more years to a sentence. Last year, Republicans in Congress introduced a bill called "Kate's Law," named after Kate Steinle, who was shot and killed by a man with several violent felonies and illegal re-entries into the country. That bill would have also strengthened sentences for illegal re-entry, but advocacy groups that oppose mandatory minimums say Trump's proposal would go even further. "This is Kate's Law on steroids," says Kevin Ring, the vice president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. "I don't know if our country has enough backhoes to build all the new prisons we'd have to to implement this dumb idea." Illegal entry and re-entry is already one of the most prosecuted crimes in the U.S. and sucks up an enormous amount of federal resources. According to a report by Grassroots Leadership earlier this year, prosecutions of illegal entry and re-entry into the country already makes up 49 percent of the federal caseload every year. Foreign nationals make up 22 percent of the federal Bureau of Prisons system, which was operating at 20 percent over its maximum capacity as of 2015. The current average sentence for illegal re-entry is 18 months, according to the report. To try and deal with both the huge amount of immigration cases and the small number of federal judges, the Bush administration created Operation Streamline in 2005, which allowed federal courtrooms to handle dozens of illegal entry and re-entry cases in a single hearing. The program continued to escalate under President Obama, reaching nearly 100,000 immigration prosecutions in fiscal year 2013. The feds took their foot off the gas in 2014, but roughly three-quarters of a million people were prosecuted under the program over a 10-year-period. "Nothing has worked to stem the tide [of illegal immigration]," retired federal judge Felix Recio, who served from 1999 to 2013 in Brownsville, Texas, said in a conference call with reporters in July shortly after the release of the report. "The only thing we have done is destroyed the lives of many people who only desired to exercise their human rights to feed and care for their families." Former federal prosecutor Ken White wrote at the blog Popehat in September that Trump's claim that mandatory minimums would have an impact on illegal immigration is "crowd-pleasing bunk": Even with fast-track programs in place, and even with immigration crimes taking up a very large percentage of federal criminal efforts, only a small percentage of illegally returning deportees are prosecuted criminally. A tiny percentage of first-time illegal entries face prosecution. There are no resources to do more. U.S. Attorney Offices generally create internal guidelines to determine which cases they'll prosecute. For instance, when I was a federal prosecutor in the 1990s, the Los Angeles office only prosecuted cases involving aliens with prior aggravated felonies or[...]