Lawlessness of Trump’s Immigration Actions

Clearly immigration actions under Donald Trump were going to make most of us cringe. We began with the wall that Mexico was going to pay for, for which (surprise, surprise) they refused to pay. Then some prototypes appeared along a section of the border which we were supposed to be inspired by, but they all looked alike and none of them looked like the “beautiful wall” that Trump extolled while campaigning. Since then we the people have pretty much been threatened with government shutdowns to extort payment for Trump’s wall on and off since the inauguration.

Early on, we had that overnight immigration ban cancelling the arrival of refugees who had completed our complex vetting process and sending the Resistance to airports with signs. Bans were signed into law and declared unacceptable almost in the same week. I.C.E. began arresting undocumented immigrants or refugees as they left work, or even while they were working. They began profiling passengers on trains and buses and asking to see ID’s. Asking we the people to show our papers is so “gestapo”, not at all what we have usually done in our democracy, besides being a violation of our civil rights.

Then we had immigrant children separated from their parents while seeking asylum at the border with Mexico. We had the image burned onto our brains of children in cages on mats with thin metallic space blankets for cold comfort. Some were as young as two years old. We were shocked (although I can’t think why) to learn that no one saved the names and contact information that could reconnect children and parents, probably because such reunions were not expected to ever take place. It is even more startling to conclude that 45 was not expecting we the people to express any negative reactions to child separation. He seemed to believe that all Americans either hate immigrants, or that we all fall for his fear-mongering.

Now we have a couple thousand young people who came to America unaccompanied by a parent living in air-conditioned tent barracks in Texas, living regimented lives and looking forward to what (being deported after talking to a judge) (lifetime imprisonment)? What must daily life be like for those children? Who could possibly think that things could get worse?

However things can always get worse and as soon as we saw the newest group of migrants walking from Honduras and Guatemala and saw the reactions of our President, we knew that there would be some kind of conflict at the border. He was never going to let those desperate travelers into America. He began the fear-mongering in earnest claiming ISIS fighters were hiding in the center of this chain of people, that people walking hundreds of miles with their children were actually gang members come to kill Americans in the streets, that they were “grabbers” who were not related to the children who seemed to be with them.

We heard his order to deploy American troops to the Mexican border, but we were told that because of posse comitatuslaws the troops could not use military tactics, because the states had the power in these matters. When some of the immigrants got angry and stormed the border, which was being barricaded by troops and border agents with riot gear, troops (because policing in any form cannot stand for insurrection or disobedience) had to escalate. So then we had the newest abomination of mothers and children running from tear gas lobbed into their midst by American soldiers. It is very fortunate that Tijuana has been forthcoming with housing and food for these people who came seeking a better life. But it doesn’t soften the fact that we tear-gassed babies.

There are pockets of people throughout the US who are opposed to immigration. Some are convinced that immigrants are taking jobs that should be filled by Americans. Others object to making our benefits available to people who are granted asylum or refugee status; benefits that are supposed to only be temporary until immigrants are self-sufficient. Some refugees have been so victimized in their country of origin that they may require disability supports for life. We are not feeling very flush ourselves these days, and with government threatening to cut our benefits, we are in no mood to share, even sometimes with our fellow Americans.

But don’t you sometimes feel a bit helpless to effect any change in Trump’s immigration ban and sometimes feel some pity for these parents and children seeking a better life? Doesn’t it strike you as un-American to lob tear gas at unarmed families even if they are being a bit demanding about being allowed into the country. They did walk an awfully long way and I doubt they had daily news flashes about what was waiting at the end of their journey. Doesn’t it make you start to thinks that there have to be better ways than this to make sure people only enter America legally. If we had a bit more flexibility we might not have to charge them with a crime for entering at an unprotected spot on the border when they can’t get in at a legal entry point. The use of force often escalates into the use of more force until mayhem occurs and guilt and regrets follow.

Many experts on immigration claim that immigrants do not take American jobs; rather they fill positions that Americans do not wish to fill. It is perhaps true that some immigrants do take desirable jobs and some do not, but since we are supposedly at full employment and, since there are many jobs that are unfilled, I think we can spare a few jobs for people who find the quality of life in the nation they are willing to leave unbearable.

I heard people interviewed at the border saying that they came to America seeking work. The optics would certainly improve if we stopped treating immigrants at the Mexican border as enemy combatants who must be tracked until they can come before a judge to decide their status. Instead immigrants could be issued a work visa and paired with an employer who will agree to sponsor them. It is demoralizing to we the people to experience this constant cruelty and conflict at a border we have shared with Mexico for several centuries. It is equally difficult to believe that the only method for keeping radicalized immigrants out of America is to keep all immigrants out of America. This is so clearly connected to white supremacy and nationalism that it brings us right back to the goose bumps that signal the “gestapo” tactics we hoped to never see again.

Photo credits: From Google Image Searches – MSNBC.com, New York Post, Washington Post

Sinclair Broadcasting Helps Trump in Midterms

I caught my local news on a channel owned by Sinclair Broadcasting the other night and the very thing I feared would happen is happening. Giving Trump/Trump supporters a voice on local news, allowing them to air national news that sounds fair and balanced but that skews towards Trump, and skews right, is particularly dangerous when we are in an election cycle. Local people who insist that Fox is the best source for political news are the targets of Sinclair. They are already primed to believe this stuff. They are unaware of who Sinclair Broadcasting is and of the ways they are interfering in local news broadcasts. They find the skewed news to be perfectly acceptable because they have already been brainwashed to agree with it.

7,000 refugees walking from Honduras to the border between Mexico and the US two weeks before the midterms offers plenty of video footage to instill fear and anger in middle-class Trump supporters. These Trumpers are a percentage of Americans who already suspect, and riled by Trump, are now convinced, that immigrants steal our jobs, use benefits paid for and intended for use by citizens only, and are violent criminals who endanger American lives.

What I saw on my local news, pushed out in a must-run story from Sinclair Broadcasting was a graphic video about the MS-13 gang, resplendent in gang tattoos, ready to commit mayhem in a neighborhood near us. Such obvious fear-mongering two weeks before an election that could change the majority in the House of Representatives from Republican to Democratic could very well motivate more Republicans to go to the polls to prevent that from happening. That would be very bad for America. We have no checks on this President. We need some. A House of Representatives that skews left could give us at least  minimal checks on an out-of-control President.

Local TV news used to try to give fairly balanced coverage of both candidates for a political office but Sinclair has put an end to that. This coverage does not look like it is even about the election but it is. It is wrong that Sinclair is allowed to own local stations when it is nothing but a one-sided political operative. It turns our news into propaganda. The wrongness of Sinclair is especially apparent during an election cycle. If we want news that is actual news we definitely need a blue wave. Trump is no fan of free speech unless the speech favors him.

Photo Credits: From Google Image Searches, Living Room Trends 2018, NPR

 

Refugee Reality Check

We keep thinking about what might happen if we do accept
Syrian refugees. But perhaps we need to think about what will happen if we
don’t accept Syrian refugees.
If we do accept refugees from Syria we are nervous that
terrorists may make it to America. I am a true chicken. I understand fear. It
feels scary to host people who could harbor hate against us. We are assured
that we screen refugees with such care that it is highly unlikely anyone could
get through the process but we remember Boston and those Tsarnaev brothers who
came in as refugees and were radicalized once they were here. Our fears are not
baseless but we must admit that the number of refugees that might become bad
actors will be very small. We live almost daily with shootings. These threats
hardly seem different from the many mass shootings we have experienced. As for
enabling an enormous influx of rabid terrorists – only a full scale invasion
could do that and I don’t think our enemies have that capability yet.
The reasons, beyond the humanitarian ones, in favor of
accepting Syrian refugees are much more compelling. First, we cannot afford to
let the Republicans, who want to get elected in 2016, play us. If they make us
frightened enough and then offer to save us with their toughness they believe
this fear will drive us to put a Republican in the White House. Please prove to
the GOP that you are not that easily manipulated.
An even greater reason why we have to fight our fears and
accept Syrian refugees is because we owe it to our allies in Europe and
elsewhere. We have hung back in two world wars because they did not begin in
America, but we eventually fought with our allies when we understood that if
our friends lost we would only have enemies left.
This time the “war” began with us, very dramatically, on 9/11.
This attack was a game changer and our old friends stood with us once more. Now
we must not try to isolate ourselves even though our fears may prove real
(although, I suspect, not on the scale GOP candidates warn of). We must stand
with the friends we have forged as we have battled to keep the free world free.
We must even accept old opponents as allies for as long as they prove true to
our common goals. We cannot expect Europe to deal all alone with people fleeing
terrorists. Even though there is a big ocean between us we cannot afford to use
this geographical advantage to remain relatively safe and aloof. I doubt it
will work for long and, in the end, we will wish we had stuck with our
alliances.
More selfishly, flooding Europe with refugees could put
Europe’s economy in jeopardy. Our economic fates are tied together and are just
one aspect of the ways in which our individual existences as powerful political
entities are closely connected.
We are Americans. We need to suck it up and stand with our
friends. 

Note: (According to the NYT of 11/25/15 the Tsarnaev brothers were not refugees. They came seeking political asylum.)

By Nancy Brisson

Fear-mongering

Every time the President asks Congress to raise taxes on the
wealthiest Americans, John Boehner says no, offers up some of the deductions
that currently lower taxes for wealthier Americans, and then drops the “entitlements”
bomb. Not only will he not give the President what he wants but he demands that
the President sweeten the non-deal with cuts to “entitlements”. Is John Boehner
high? Has he been to that other Washington, the state, recently? Americans
understand that we do not need to cut “entitlements” before December 31st.
Cuts to “entitlements” do not have to be a part of fiscal cliff negotiations.
The Republicans are just addicted to fear-mongering. They want the American
people to blink first. Even if entitlements must be reformed, which a healthy
economy might render unnecessary, we can wait until next year to do it.

Congress must stop believing that raising the age when
“entitlements” become available is the answer to reform. This is just a quick
and dirty approach which pays no attention to the realities of when people are
actually “forced” to stop working. Unless employers find that they can keep
older adults in the work force until they are 67, raising the age of
eligibility for retirement benefits will create a coverage gap that will
swallow up many hard-working people. The approaches that look at cutting costs
and broadening the base of contributors along with means testing look much more
promising.

Decide what to do about the Bush era tax cuts and raise the
debt ceiling before the end of December. Finish the rest of this in the new
year.

 

Rebutting Mr. Peterfly

Thomas Peterfly has an ad on TV which is also available as a video on the internet. He is associated with Interactive Brokers and Freedom to Succeed. He accepts responsibility for the contents of the ad which is all about how America is on the slippery slope to becoming a Socialist nation because so many people are becoming dependent on the government for assistance. This is clearly a page from the book the Republicans have been writing because rich people are feeling put upon. They are contributing far more to taxes that our budget relies on, they say, than the other 99% of Americans, and their monies are paying for other Americans to be idle.
Mr. Peterfly tells us that he grew up in a Socialist nation and that this is why he can see what is happening when we cannot. However, it is just possible that he is focusing on fears from his own experience that are not appropriate in America. It is a good thing for people to be ambitious and to strive for the American Dream and if some have given up on this perhaps it is because they have found it too hard, or they have already failed at a few attempts to be successful. Making them jump in the deep end without water wings may produce a eureka moment and turn them into successful little engines of Capitalism, but they could just as easily drown.
I don’t believe that it is honest to pass off a man full of fears that he acquired in a different culture, and who has every reason to believe the “bogey” man has followed him to America, as someone with a realistic view of America. We are not a Socialist nation. Big government has not turned us into a Socialist nation. We are not going to be a nation where unregulated Capitalism is the order of the day either. If the American people choose to spend the money of the American people to help the poorest among us then that is our right in a Democracy. If a majority of people say they no longer want to spend money this way, then that will also have to pertain.
 But in this case, the people at the top, who are clearly a minority of citizens want to have a say proportional to the amount of money they feel that they contribute. This is not how America works, although if they really are paying so much then adjustments may have to be made. And while they may be paying more money, they are not paying a larger percentage of their money. Perhaps they are paying so much and the rest of us are paying so little because the economics of Capitalism and taxation and loopholes have gotten out of kilter in America. When all the wealth of a nation collects in the hands of a few it opens the door to hunger, disease, and unrest. It is also the exact recipe for revolution. (I am not making a threat, just an observation based on history.) It gives an advantage to a culture when the rich are willing to contribute to civil society. If we have too many “freeloaders” at the bottom then our government or our private sector needs to study why that is so and come up with ways to reverse the trend. As to whether or not we are becoming a Socialist nation, don’t ask a man who grew up in a Socialist society. He will see his worst fears everywhere he goes. I like your ad Mr. Peterfly; it is well done but it is not necessarily true and just repeating it over and over does not make it so. I am sorry you have nightmares, but, America is in far more danger of becoming an oligarchy than it of becoming a Socialist state. Don’t worry, Mr. Peterfly, we’ll protect you. The love of freedom runs deep in America.

Note:   Mr. Peterfly got very wealthy in America. On the left at the top is a photo of Mr. Peterfly in full riding regalia. On the right is a picture of a blue collar Peterfly as he appears in his ad against Socialism. He is a member of the 1%.

In case you have not seen this ad, here’s the link:

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