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Published: Sat, 19 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Last Build Date: Sat, 19 Aug 2017 05:47:00 -0400


Why Won't Trump Unequivocally Condemn the Charlottesville Nazis?

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 21:35:00 -0400

President Donald Trump showed during a press event today, ostensibly to announce some plans to ease permitting processes for infrastructure building, that he can't help himself from exhibiting sympathy with the crowds who gathered in Charlottesville this weekend to march for white supremacy. It is shocking, on one level, to find a U.S. president unwilling to unequivocally and with any sense that he actually believes what he's saying decry people marching under fascist emblems and shouting Nazi slogans (or in happy open alliance with those doing so, for the pedantic), one who considers it more important that you know in the same breath that he also finds fault with those who gathered in public to oppose them. A core element of Trumpist public policy makes today's show of sympathies a little less surprising, even though they are policies that neither Trump nor most of his fans (or even enemies) likely consciously recognize as connected to his bizarre inability to not make sure you know he thinks some of those who march with Nazis were "very fine people" (apparently because he supports their ostensible "goal" of protesting the removal of a statue from public property of a general who fought for a nation dedicated to enslaving many of the people who live in the city and country the statue resides in). As I wrote back in month one of the Trump administration, the tendency within him that marks him as unlibertarian and illiberal at the core (even if he might preside over, as in today's speech, such ostensibly state-power-shrinking policies as permit streamlining) is a bone-deep sympathy with illiberal exclusionism as a policy. The Charlottesville white supremacist marchers take that exclusionism a little farther than Trump has explicitly. What did Trump lead with in month one of his presidency? Border walls, rabid trade protectionism, Muslim travel bans. As I summed up then: Not yet a month into his administration, Trumpism is most surely centered on a poorly considered nationalism. His administration, with each swift and relentless bit of dumb bullying over our businesses' right to choose what to do with capital, our right to buy from abroad unmolested, other humans' ability to move peacefully into our country, acts on the principle that it's best if we don't trade with people outside our borders, that the Leader gets to decide what private businesses do with their capital and resources, and that we should beggar ourselves for the sour joys of keeping fewer people not born here from coming here (in a time when that alleged "problem" barely exists). His brand of nationalism means exclusionism, based in Trump's case (and in that of his adviser in nationalism and former self-proclaimed leading promoter of the "alt right", Steve Bannon, the same alt-right Trump acts conveniently confused about the nature of today) on either largely pointless fear or hostility toward foreign "others," or refusal to understand or care about how dealing with people outside our borders benefits us, them, and the world at large. Modern civilization fortunately requires that such illiberal exclusionism is usually expressed in what passes for polite policy debate as just (misunderstanding of) economics or unwillingness to tolerate the slightest hint of risk at whatever cost when that risk comes from foreign others. But something darker can ride along with that sort of "acceptable" illiberal exclusionism aimed at unambiguous foreigners. The explicit targets of the exclusionist spirit might be different for Trump and all the "very fine people" who chose to march with Nazis over their alleged concern for the preservation of a statue in a particular place. But the hate and desire for separation at the heart of the "unite the right" side of the Charlottesville rally aimed at blacks, Jews, homosexuals, and all the other historic enemies of racists and Nazis is just a further, more obviously to most evil, manifestation of that same hate and mistrust of free-market libertarian cosmopolitanism that drives Trump's seemingly more benign trade and immigration po[...]

New York City to Dismiss Hundreds of Thousands of Old Warrants for Minor Crimes

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 12:20:00 -0400

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio may continue to defend "broken windows policing," but prosecutors in his town are increasingly ill at ease with the long-term consequences when police constantly cite citizens for low-level, nonviolent crimes. This week, prosecutors from Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens announced they were moving to dismiss nearly 650,000 old warrants for unpaid citations from things like public drinking to violating park rules. According to The New York Times, prosecutors have been hammering out this plan for three years. Surprisingly, de Blasio supports the district attorneys' decision, even though he continues to defend the police practice of issuing citations no matter how small the infraction. But that may be explained by the fact that all of these warrants are at least a decade old. Either the people involved aren't around anymore, or they aren't going to pay the money anyway, or 450 or so reckless spitters have failed to induce apocalyptic anarchy in the Big Apple. Even though there's no push to go back and track these thousands of people down, there are still potential consequences of having an active warrant out when a citizen ends up interacting with police. Brooklyn D.A. Eric Gonzalez worried about people getting dragged into a jail and booked for an old citation worth $25. While this has been in the works for years, the officials are also clearly concerned about President Donald Trump's efforts to increase immigration enforcement and push out illegal immigrants. These citations are used as justifications to round up and deport people here illegally if they get they get detained for these warrants. Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. noted the consequences of these warrants remaining active, the Times reports: "New Yorkers with 10-year-old summons warrants face unnecessary unemployment risk, housing and immigration consequences," Mr. Vance told Criminal Court Judge Tamiko A. Amaker in Manhattan. "And because they fear they will be arrested for the old infraction, they often don't collaborate with law enforcement." New York can't run afoul of Trump's war on sanctuary cities if they don't go around citing and arresting immigrants, can they? Criminal justice reform advocates have been pushing cities to reconsider low-level enforcement practices for this very reason. Every encounter between a police officer and an immigrant now includes additional risks. In June Vance announced a concerted effort to reduce low-level criminal prosecutions of minor crimes in Manhattan by 20,000 a year, declining to prosecute subway turnstile jumpers (unless they present some other public safety threat) and focusing on early diversion programs for first-time arrestees for low-level crimes. It's a shame, though, that nobody seems to be interested in considering whether they should wipe some of these laws themselves off the books. I should note that Staten Island's district attorney declined to join the effort. Offering amnesty for these citations, even though they're a decade old, "sends the wrong message about the importance of respecting our community and our laws," he said in a statement. If you once walked around with an unleashed dog, you'll get no mercy from him.[...]

Shutting Out Foreign Workers Would Cost American Jobs

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 00:15:00 -0400

Donald Trump is a businessman who has routinely hired foreign guest workers to staff his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, claiming it's impossible to find Americans to do the work. But his administration now wants to shut out foreigners who fill comparable jobs, which he now insists Americans would be happy to take. Consistency is not a Trump obsession. Nor is economics. Endorsing a Senate bill that would cut net legal immigration in half, he charged that the U.S. has "a very low-skilled immigration system" that "has not been fair to our people, to our citizens, to our workers." White House aide Stephen Miller said it's "common sense" that the hiring of lower-skilled foreigners takes jobs away from Americans and "drives down wages." Common sense said the Earth was flat. Superficial appearances can be grossly misleading. What is clear from experience is that low-skilled immigrants mostly take jobs that Americans don't want and that the effect they have on the wages of native-born workers is between slim and none. During the 1990s, the number of undocumented immigrants in this country more than doubled. The number of legal immigrants also climbed. But the economy added more than 23 million jobs, and the unemployment rate fell below 4 percent. The earnings of middle-wage workers rose. In recent years, by contrast, while the number of legal and undocumented immigrants has declined, the economy has grown more slowly. Job growth has fallen well short of the 1990s pace, and wages have been stagnant. First we proved there is no contradiction between welcoming immigrants and improving the fortunes of the average American. Then we showed that reducing the inflow brings no broad benefits. People who employ farmworkers, housekeepers, landscapers and seasonal employees already know how hard it is to attract native-born Americans to do these types of jobs. In Maine, a vacation destination, labor is so scarce that the tough-on-crime Republican governor actually let some prison inmates out to work in tourism-related jobs. Eric Haugen, who runs a Denver landscaping firm, told The New York Times he offers jobs paying $14 to $25 an hour, plus health insurance and other benefits, but rarely gets American applicants. "The labor pool really doesn't exist," he said. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) says there's a simple solution for businesses that rely on foreign labor: Pay enough to attract Americans. "Closing our borders to inexpensive foreign labor," he writes, "will force employers to add benefits and improve workplace conditions." Like his socialist colleague, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who wants to double the minimum wage, Cotton thinks employers can easily afford to be generous. But if the government chokes off the supply of foreign labor, American workers may not step in to reap rewards. Farm wages in California have risen 50 percent more than inflation since 1996, reports the Los Angeles Times, and growers are still waiting for that stampede of natives into the fields. Nine in 10 farmworkers are still immigrants, and half are undocumented. Faced with the need to pay more, some farmers shift to crops that demand less labor, and some replace workers with machines. Some simply quit farming. California's production of asparagus, a labor-intensive crop, has largely moved to Mexico because it was hard to find workers on this side of the border. It's not as though employers can blithely raise prices to cover higher wages. The more businesses have to pay lower-skilled workers the more vulnerable they are to being underpriced by foreign rivals. Economist Veronica Nigh of the American Farm Bureau Federation says that in many instances, "either we import labor or we import food." When people come here from Mexico or China or Nigeria to work, they don't take jobs from Americans; they create jobs for Americans. When farmers can find workers, they grow food and fiber that has to be processed, packaged, transported and sold -- all of which boosts employment. When construction companies save mone[...]

Brickbat: Land of the Free

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) Davino Watson was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, denied a lawyer and held for almost three and a half years as a deportable alien before someone figured out that his claim of being a U.S. citizen was true. Then, he was released half a country away from his home in New York. Now, a federal appellate court has ruled he isn't eligible for any compensation for that because the statute of limitations for filing a claim expired while he was still in ICE custody and denied a lawyer.

Mayor Bill de Blasio: The Perfect Ayn Rand Villain [Podcast]

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 16:00:00 -0400

If the GOP succeeds in making it even harder to become an American, other nations "are going to be eating our lunch," says Reason's Nick Gillespie. The fact is the U.S. is no longer the "default destination" for foreign talent.

On today's podcast, Gillespie joins Katherine Mangu-Ward, Peter Suderman, and Andrew Heaton to discuss the latest Republican plans to restrict immigration, the recent challenge to affirmative action on campus, and why the the trial and conviction of "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli should frighten all Americans.

And Mangu-Ward explains why New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is the perfect Ayn Rand villain.

Audio post-production by Ian Keyser.

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Chicago Launches Legal Fight with Justice Department over Sanctuary City Threats

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 13:40:00 -0400

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says Chicago will sue the Department of Justice over Attorney General Jeff Sessions' latest attempt to punish so-called sanctuary cities—jurisdictions that typically do not ask people in their custody or who use government services their citizenship status. At stake are $2.3 million in grants used by Chicago police to purchase equipment—including tools and weapons used to militarize the force. Last month the Department of Justice announced a new guidance requiring cities to comply with a federal law forbidding local rules that block communication with law enforcement or city officials about a person's immigration status. This isn't a new fight—the Department of Justice has been pushing cities to follow this regulation since Donald Trump took office. But the July guidance added two new rules, and it clearly described the carrot and stick the Justice Department wants to wield against cities. First, it tells states, cities, and counties that they must allow immigration officials into their detention facilities if they're looking to determine the immigration status of anybody being held there. Second, it says jails and prisons must inform the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 48 hours before releasing somebody if the DHS or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has sent over a detainer order—a request that a local jail hold a deportable immigrant so that the feds can come take that person into custody. Cities and states have been told they must comply with these regulations to maintain their funds from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants program. Chicago is suing to try to stop these new requirements. "The federal government should be working with cities to provide necessary resources to improve public safety, not concocting new schemes to reduce our crime fighting resources," Emanuel said in a statement. Chicago's conflict with the feds is particularly notable because Chicago is one of the few places whose policies do in fact defy federal law on communication. (So is the surrounding Cook County.) When the Department of Justice began its crackdown under Trump, an awkward truth quickly became apparent: A "sanctuary city" is not inherently operating in violation of federal immigration law or defying the government. The Justice Department could identify fewer than 10 local governments that were actually defying the feds in any notable way. But Chicago genuinely is one of those cities, so a challenge between them and the Department of Justice has broader implications. What are the limits of the federal government's ability to control what information states and cities provide to them? President Trump's first attempt to use an executive order to force compliance from sanctuary cities ran aground in federal courts as an unconstitutional breach of separation of powers and the authorities of the states. Analyzing the new guidance over at the Washington Post, law professor and constitutional expert Ilya Somin says these new rules have the same problems: Longstanding Supreme Court precedent indicates that only Congress can impose conditions on grants given to states and localities, and that those conditions must be "unambiguously" stated in the text of the law "so that the States can knowingly decide whether or not to accept those funds." Neither compliance with Section 1373 nor the other two conditions the DOJ seeks to impose are included in the authorizing legislation for the Byrne grants. Sessions and Trump may be at odds on other issues right now. But they are united in their desire to make up new grant conditions and impose them on states and localities after the fact. Should the administration manage to get away with this, it will set a dangerous precedent that goes far beyond the relatively small Byrne program and the specific issue of sanctuary cities. If the president can unilaterally add new conditions to one federal grant program, he can [...]

Brickbat: Good to the Last Drop

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) The United States government agreed to pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of Cruz Velazquez Acevedo, who died after Customs and Border Protection officers encouraged him to drink liquid meth. Cruz, 16, was crossing the border from Mexico to San Diego with what he said was apple juice. The officers told him to drink some to prove that's all it was. The officers were not disciplined.

Immigration Brings Out the Social Engineers

Sun, 06 Aug 2017 08:00:00 -0400

Immigration brings out the social engineers and central planners across the political establishment. We see this clearly in the debate over Donald Trump's support for legislation that would cut legal immigration in half while tilting it toward well-educated English-speakers and against low-skilled non-English-speakers. Even establishment opponents of Trump's position believe "we" must update the immigration system to better serve "the economy." But they disagree on particulars. Trumpsters think the economy needs only scientists and inventors (preferably future Nobel Prize winners, I suppose), while Republican and Democratic anti-Trumpsters counter that the economy also needs some unskilled workers to pick crops in the hot sun and do menial work in luxury resorts, which Americans apparently don't want to do. But what is this thing they call "the economy," which has needs? Social engineers of all parties and persuasions talk as though an economy is some kind of mechanism to be centrally fine-tuned and overhauled occasionally according to a plan. Even those who style themselves free enterprisers display the central-planning mentality when it comes to immigration. Contrary to this establishment view, the economy is not a mechanism. It is, rather, hundreds of millions of American producers and consumers, who also happen to be embedded in a global marketplace. Why can't they be trusted, without the direction of politicians, to decide for themselves what they need and to engage in social cooperation—that is, among other things, to trade goods and services—to obtain it? It is we whom the social engineers wish to manipulate. In the process they would cruelly keep poor people in perpetual misery and political oppression by locking them out of America. Why? Because the economy doesn't need them. Like all central planners, the immigration planners exhibit what F. A. Hayek called "the pretense of knowledge." Do these presumptuous frauds know what specific skills will be demanded in the future? To know that, they would have to know what products will be demanded in the future. But we don't know what we'll want because lots of things have not been invented yet. And we can't predict who will invent them. People who today have few skills and who speak no English will be among those who make our lives better. Let them come here to make better lives for themselves. That's their right, which is justification enough. But we will benefit too. Notice, also, that advocates of immigration control—progressive and conservative—often say the economy doesn't have enough jobs for the people already here. So how can we let more in? This assumes the "size" the economy is fixed and that more people would result in smaller shares for everyone. But if we stop thinking of the economy as a mechanism and start thinking of it as an unending series of exchanges between people seeking their betterment, we can see through this fallacy. Newcomers are both producers and consumers. Therefore their entry into our society presents new opportunities on both the supply and demand sides. In a freed economy this would portend higher living standards for everyone. (Regarding today's wage pessimism, see Bryan Caplan here.) Resources are not fixed, as evidenced by the fact that seven billion people are far wealthier today than much smaller world populations were in previous ages. In fact, resources—that is, useful materials—are not even natural. As the great economist Julian Simon taught us, what we call natural resources are merely useless things and even detriments until someone exercising intelligence—"the ultimate resource"—discovers how we may use them to make our lives better. Not so long ago, you would have paid dearly to remove crude oil from your land. Then a chemist distilled kerosene from it. Kerosene was better and cheaper than whale oil for lighting lamps; [...]

Ending NAFTA Would Decimate American Jobs

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 12:52:00 -0400

"The intellectual backwardness of many of Trump's trade advisors contrasts dramatically with some of the very good advice he's gotten in terms of deregulation," says Roberto Salinas-León, president of the Mexico Business Forum and adjunct scholar at the CATO Institute. "Talking about your second most important trading partner in that [derogatory] vein—that's not the 'art of the deal.' That's just very bad business." Salinas-León, an expert on trade and monetary policy, says that if Trump ends the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it would decimate jobs on both sides of the border. "Does Indiana depend on jobs because of its trade with Mexico? Does Ohio? Texas? You want to shut down NAFTA? That turns Texas into a Democratic state overnight." Reason's Nick Gillespie sat down with Salinas-León at Freedom Fest in Las Vegas to discuss NAFTA's economic impact, his heated confrontation with Trump at Freedom Fest 2015, and how the president's anti-Mexico rhetoric propelled leftist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador ("a rabid, primitive, vitriolic, populist") to the top of the polls. Interview by Nick Gillespie. Edited by Alexis Garcia. Camera by Justin Monticello and Meredith Bragg. Badass by Bensound is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license ( Source: Artist: Strange Stuff by Matt Harris is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license. ( Source: Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes. This is a rush transcript. Check all quotes against the audio for accuracy. Gillespie: Let's talk about NAFTA first and your role in it. Is NAFTA a good thing or a bad thing for Mexico, Canada and the US? It's getting a lot of heat lately. Salinas-León: In the early 1990s, we thought, "Well, wow! Mexico's already a story of trade liberalization. We're exporting 35 billion dollars a year worth of products and so on." Today that number is 365 billions, so from a trade perspective, and this is a trade agreement, from a trade perspective, I don't think there's any question that NAFTA has been a success in the sale side. And then you go to the purchase side, in other words, imports, and you find that you're also importing a vast amount. Guess where those imports come from? In about 80 percent, the United States. Gillespie: Yeah, exactly. Salinas-León: So those in Indiana depend ... I mean, speaking of Mike Pence, does Indiana depend on jobs because of its trade with Mexico? Does Ohio? Texas? You want to shut down NAFTA? That turns Texas into a Democratic state overnight. Gillespie: Where do you think the animus against NAFTA, particularly in the United States, and I mean, this is something that Donald Trump ran on. It's also something that Bernie Sanders brought up a lot, the idea that somehow free trade agreements suck jobs out of America and they put them in third-world countries, which due to a lot of economic ignorance, often times they're talking about Mexico as a third-world country, as well. Where does the resentment of something like that come from? Salinas-León: I think that was one of the great lessons of the Trump campaign, the Bernie Sanders campaign. It's not something that discriminates between Republicans and Democrats or between the right or the left or whatever. What you found out is that there is anger because there's displacement. There is job displacement, and that's a very serious concern. But are we going to address it by closing our economies? By building walls? I mean, wasn't another famous Republican the one who said, "Tear down this wall." The same one t[...]

Marco Rubio Sells Out the DREAMers and His Principles

Tue, 01 Aug 2017 11:48:00 -0400

You'd have to be pretty heartless and obtuse to the dangers of growing a police state to oppose legal status for DREAMers—people who were brought to the United States illegally when they were children—and set them up for deportation. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is apparently of the requisite heartlessness and obtuseness. Rubio declared last week that he can't support the bipartisan Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act that some of his Senate colleagues are desperately trying to enact to make DREAMers off-limits to the Trump administration's harsh deportation regime. Regrettably, instead of embracing compassion, he's throwing in his lot with Trump's gang of cruel restrictionists. Now, President Trump has repeatedly assured us that he has a "big heart" and would concentrate on deporting "bad hombres" while "taking care" of DREAMers. The reality, however, is quite different. A bit of background: President Obama created the Deferred Action Against Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that, as its name suggests, deferred deportation proceedings against DREAMers and handed them temporary work permits. But DACA does not offer any guarantee against detention or deportation, just a postponement. Its protection can be rescinded for the slightest of infractions—even traffic violations—which is what Trump has effectively been doing. In other words, Trump has left DACA in place but rendered it essentially toothless. Even so, 10 hardline attorneys general from red states are not satisfied. They have given Trump an ultimatum and told him he has to totally scrap the program or they'll sue, just as they did with President Obama's DAPA initiative that gave a temporary reprieve even to parents of DREAMers. If the administration obliges them—or declines to fight them in court—all 1.8 million DREAMers could eventually be deported, including the 750,000 who have DACA status. Please remember: These are people who had no say in how they were brought to America, and who have lived in this country practically their whole lives with little to no contact with their birth land. They deserve compassion, not icy cruelty, especially since deporting just 750,000 would cost Uncle Sam $60 billion and lead to $280 billion in economic losses over the next decade. To that end, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have dusted off the DREAM Act, which would hand green cards to illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children so long as they (i) graduate from high school or serve in the military; (ii) pass a background check; (iii) speak English; (iv) demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history; and (v) pay a fee. About 1.5 million DREAMers are expected to qualify because they tend to be hardworking, law-abiding people who desperately want to come out of the shadows and participate fully in American life. Even many vocal immigration hawks don't have a problem with giving these DREAMers legal status so long as it's done via legislative rather than executive action. Rush Limbaugh, who has single-handedly killed many an immigration reform bill, has conceded that "no one's gonna win by deporting a bunch of kids that we let in." Likewise, Pat Robertson, who has derided undocumented immigrants as "moochers," admits that DREAMers are not criminals. "They're teaching kindergarten, for heaven's sake," he says. "They ought to stay. They enrich our society. They bless our society, and what have we got to loose." Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, another immigration opponent and Trump ally, counsels: "Why pick a fight over this group of people who have a lot of emotional stories to tell?" Even more to the point, polls show that 75 percent of Trump supporters—Trump supporters—don't want DREAMers booted out for the sins of their parents, and actually want them legalized. So who on[...]

Little Marco's DREAM Act Flip Flop: New at Reason

Tue, 01 Aug 2017 11:48:00 -0400

(image) Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Florida) has never been known as a man of principle. So it is no surprise that he would sell out his previous pro-immigration stance and come out against the DREAM Act that some senators from his own party have revived to stop the Trump administration from deporting DREAMers.

He has now thrown in his lot with extreme immigration restrictionists who are to the right even of Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson, both of whom support legal status for DREAMers.

These are folks who were brought to this country as minors by their parents and have lived here practically all their lives. What is surprising, notes Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia, is this level of heartlessness from a son of Cuban immigrants familiar with the plight of people trying to flee deprivation and persecution. .

The Party of Trump Is Trying to Gut America's Asylum Process

Thu, 27 Jul 2017 15:52:00 -0400

Are there limits to nativism in the party of Trump? The latest indication from the House of Representatives is that the answer is "no." Yesterday, the committee that controls immigration policy passed a bill to gut America's asylum process, dooming many thousands of desperate people to a U.S. taxpayer-funded flight back to violence and persecution. The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act would radically increase the evidentiary burden for asylum seekers simply to apply for asylum. Current law requires a minimal test: articulating a credible fear of persecution. If they do this, they get a hearing in immigration court to present their full asylum claim. At that point they have to offer copious proof of their claim before they are extended the right to live permanently in the United States. The new bill would now require asylum seekers to prove when they are detained at the border that it is "more probable than not" that their claims are true in order to just get a hearing. Under this heightened standard, words alone will generally no longer suffice. Asylum seekers will need to carry proof of persecution with them. This is absurd. Many asylees have to flee under cover of darkness or swim through streams to escape their persecutors. They often set out without any concept of where they will end up, let alone with documentary evidence in their pockets. As the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project notes, "preparing an asylum application requires a lot of work." It necessitates gathering, if available, photographs, medical reports, written threats, witness statements, police reports, and reports on human rights in their country of origin. Many legitimate asylum seekers lose their cases because they cannot obtain such evidence even after months to prepare for their court appearance. It is a delusion to expect people to have it at the border. In one asylum case, a Muslim woman fled Morocco due to abuse from her conservative Muslim father. She escaped to the United States and claimed a credible fear of persecution. The officer allowed her in. Only then was she able to document the claim with testimony from her aunt and the State Department's report on the inability of Moroccan women to seek protection from abusive male family members. As the Tahiri Justice Center, which serves women fleeing violence, stated, "H.R. 391's heightened screening standard will, as intended, wrongfully prevent women and girls fleeing horrific violence from even presenting their cases in court." The bill's sponsor, now-former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, responded to these concerns last year by simply saying, "It is not too much to ask that the alien seeking refuge in the United States be required to tell the truth." But this response is neither here nor there: they already must tell the truth. The question is how and when to verify it. For these reasons, when Congress created the "credible fear" process in 1996, it did so with the clear intent that it would not create an adversarial process that this bill now seeks to do. The initial draft of the 1996 legislation had included the "more probable than not" language, but when opponents noted these problems, the bill's Republican authors removed it. Those were more sensible times, apparently! These asylum changes would not simply apply to the people fleeing gangs in Central America but also to Syrian Christians fleeing the Islamic State. A number of Syrian Christians showed up at the U.S.-Mexico border last year to apply for asylum after traveling across several continents. Despite the fact that the State Department has found that ISIS is carrying out a "genocide" of Christians in its territory, if this law had been in place then, they would either have been deported from the border or consigned to a stateless existence i[...]

The GOP's Assault on America's Asylum Laws: New at Reason

Thu, 27 Jul 2017 15:52:00 -0400

The Party of Trump is determined to leave no aspect of immigration policy unmolested. It has gone along with President Trump's travel ban, temporary(image) suspension of the refugee program, and harsh deportation regime. It has proposed cuts in legal immigration. As if all that was not enough, it's now also assaulting America's asylum program, notes Cato Institute's David Bier. The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act that it is currently considering would put such an impossible evidentiary burden before foreigners fleeing persecution that few will be able to meet it.

In effect, he notes, the bill harkens to pre-World War II days when fleeing Jews were sent back to Nazi Germany to face death camps.

Justice Department Again Threatens to Snatch Federal Grants from Sanctuary Cities

Wed, 26 Jul 2017 15:45:00 -0400

The Trump administration keeps trying to punish sanctuary cities that don't cooperate in enforcing federal immigration policy, even though the feds don't have the authority to demand all that much. The latest news is that the Department of Justice will attempt to tie a federal crimefighting block grant fund to three demands. Cities or states that want to receive the money must do the following: Prove compliance with federal law that bars cities or states from restricting communications between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about the immigration or citizenship status of a person in custody. Allow DHS officials access into any detention facility to determine the immigration status of any aliens being held. Give DHS 48 hours' notice before a jail or prison releases a person when DHS has sent over a detention request, so the feds can arrange to take custody of the alien after he or she is released. At stake is access to money from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (Byrne JAG) Program, which distributed nearly $275 million in federal funds to state and local law enforcement agencies in 2016. The first demand is not new. It refers to the only federal law that truly matters when we're talking about sanctuary cities. States and cities cannot be forced to assist DHS and ICE in detaining and removing people who are in the country illegally. Detention "orders" are actually just "requests." When the Department of Justice actually began investigating sanctuary cities, it turned out that only a handful were even potentially operating in defiance with the federal law referenced above. Only eight cities and one county have policies that conflict with the federal law and block law enforcement officers or other government officials from communicating with the feds about an alien's immigration status. That's it. The second and third demands are essentially acknowledgments that cities can't be forced to assist. Instead, they're being told to get out of the way if they won't help. President Donald Trump has already attempted once, via executive order, to threaten to withhold federal grant funding from sanctuary cities. A federal judge blocked that order because it was overly broad, lacked due process, violated the Tenth Amendment, and violated the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches. This new guidance is more narrowly tailored, since the Department of Justice has leeway in how it distributes the grant money. But note that the funding is for all sorts of crimefighting and court projects that have nothing to do with immigration enforcement. Some of it also goes to things like drug task forces and prohibition-fueled nonsense, so maybe losing some of that money is for the best. Obviously, the Justice Department is hoping the threat will create enough of a wedge between law enforcement agencies and their ruling cities and states to force cooperation. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions remain heavily invested in trying to convince (or assure) their basis that illegal immigrants are a threat to Americans. Sessions in his announcement of this new guidance cynically attempted to blame the existence of sanctuary cities for the terrible weekend human trafficking tragedy where 10 people died after being stuck in the trailer of a truck in a San Antonio parking lot. But it's not sanctuary cities that cause human trafficking. The trafficking is the direct result of how difficult the federal government makes it for immigrants to cross borders legally. Meanwhile, in a speech in Ohio last night, Trump presented illegal immigrants essentially as the monsters under your teenage daughters' beds: The[...]

Does the GOP Hate Immigrants More Than Big Government?: New at Reason

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 10:14:00 -0400

The chairman of the misnamed House Freedom Caucus Mark Meadows recently threatened to shut down the government in fall if the upcoming spending bill(image) failed to include adequate funding for the Great Wall of Trump. Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a rising star in the GOP, has launched an attack on legal immigration. He just authored the RAISE Act which would slash by half foreigners, even high skilled ones, who want to legally work and live in the country. Why? To protect Americans from competition.

Between the two of them, notes Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia, they show that the GOP now hates immigrants more than Big Government—or love the free market.

Go here to read the whole thing.