How We Got Our Immigration Policies: What Now

child detention centers thedailybeast.com

Introduction

The sonnet at the base of the Statue of Liberty was written by Emma Lazarus at the urging of her friends for an auction to raise money to build a pedestal to put the statue on in 1883. It was engraved on a bronze plaque which was added to the base of the statue in 1903. But apparently America was already sort of in the “fake news” business, since we have not exactly had a love affair with the various immigrant waves that have arrived on our shores, or our desert roads. Since I kept being wrong about what things we have done to immigrants before now, I decided to do some research.

The very first article I found was extremely helpful offering a timeline of immigration events, laws, actions, and even a few statistics. There is also an infographic (not included here). Although I would like to blame all the times America got exercised about immigrants who did not enter America legally (and a few times when we even got hot under the collar about legal immigrants) on the Republicans it is not possible. For one thing during the Civil War the Democrats were the Republicans, sort of, so things get murky.

Clearly we did not get where we are in 2018 in one giant step. In many administrations Presidents and Congresses have dealt with trying to solve the problems of people who immigrated to America without going through proper channels. And the more complicated the rules have become the more people seem to try to go around them.

Sometimes there may have been popular pressure on the government as people felt overrun by waves of one immigrant group or another and the fact of all these new folks settling in seemed to threaten current demographics, or change a favored neighborhood beyond recognition. Other times immigration crack-downs seemed to have been related to historical events such as the Great Depression which made it difficult to take care of even the citizens who had been here for decades and the Second World War which made many Americans paranoid about people from Japan. There was possibly also an element of revenge after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Finding all the reasons for immigration freak-outs would require more research and still might not offer a complete picture. Perhaps you had to be there in those moments.

Late 1800’s to early 1900’s

The timeline I found says that the first dedicated immigration detention facility in the world appeared in America in 1892. People had to stay somewhere between apprehension and deportation. The first guards appeared on the US-Mexico border in 1904.

Calvin Coolidge (Rep) 

“1924 Johnson-Reed Immigration Act (also known as the National Origins Act and Asian Exclusion Act) – Restricted immigration further to the number of immigrants admitted from any country annually to 2 percent of the number who were already living in the United States before the 1890 census. Intended to “preserve American homogeneity,” the Johnson-Reed Act provided a pathway to citizenship for European immigrants while restricting Asians, Arabs, and most Africans completely.”

Herbert Hoover (Dem) and Franklin D Roosevelt (Dem)-The Great Depression into WWII

Entering illegally or overstaying a visa became a misdemeanor in 1929 (just before the Great Depression). During the Great Depression Herbert Hoover (Rep) and later FDR (Dem) “rounded up and deported 500,000 Mexicans and Filipinos, even though 60% of them were US-born citizens. 1942 was the beginning of the Japanese internment under FDR (Dem) (World War II). But FDR also began the Bracero Program which issued temporary visas to Mexicans to work in agriculture. This program ended in 1964.

Harry S. Truman (Dem)

In 1946 the US Army School of the Americas (SOA) began training Latin America soldiers and leaders in Georgia. It eventually earned the reputation of being a school for despots and is often considered to be responsible for the destabilization we still see in South America today.  In 1952 an immigrant’s criminal record or radical political views could be grounds for deportation/detention. It also became possible to grant noncitizens release from detention on bond based on community ties.

Eisenhower (Rep) and Jimmy Carter (Dem)

Eisenhower (Rep)(1954-56) targeted 1 million Mexicans for deportation in the charmingly named Operation Wetback (sarcasm). Under Jimmy Carter (Dem) (1980-81) a new round of mass detentions took place, this time Cubans, Haitians, and Central Americans.

Ronald Reagan (Rep)

Ronald Reagan (Rep) took office in 1981. Reagan wanted to deter Latin American immigration so he began the detention of asylum seekers. A renewed War on Drugs brought militarization to the border. Reagan set up the McAllen Detention Center in Puerto Rico to hold Haitians in 1981. In 1983 he signed the Mass Immigration Emergency Plan which required that there always be 10,000 beds ready to use for immigrant detention. And in 1983 the first private prison company (CCA) Correction Corporation of America (which became CoreCivic in 2016 was allowed to house detained immigrants. GEO Group formed to set up more private detention prisons. In 1986 the Immigration Reform and Control Act was signed and granted blanket amnesty for undocumented immigrants. It also sanctioned employers who hired them. In 1987 GEO won the first government contract which gave GEO taxpayer money to detain immigrants. Busy times.

Bill Clinton (Dem)

Bill Clinton (Dem) in 1994 doubled the Border Patrol and constructed five miles of border wall in the wake of which data showed an increasing number of deaths in the border lands.

“Together known as “The 1996 Laws,” this set of laws has had the greatest impact on expanding the U.S. immigration detention system by expanding the list of “crimes of moral turpitude,” including non-violent drug and other charges, for which both legal immigrants and undocumented non-citizens can be subjected to mandatory detention and deportation. These laws can be applied retroactively, and also impose 3-year, 10-year, and lifetime bars on returning to the U.S. after deportation.”

George W. Bush (Rep) Post 9/11 attacks on World Trade Center

Under George W. Bush (Rep) in 2003 the Supreme Court upheld the right to detain immigrants during deportation proceedings. The Department of Homeland Security was created in 2003 also. Under G.W. private prisons began to be administered by the Bureau of Prisons.

Barrack Obama (Dem)

Under Obama (Dem), 2009 the quota for emergency beds that must be maintained at all times went to 34,000. Obama temporarily ended family detention, but the detention centers remained open. He established DACA in 2012. In 2014 he resumed family detention because of increases in unaccompanied minors, women and children. When the US Justice Department and DHS tried to phase out use of private prisons in 2016, their stocks plummeted. Obama detentions were over 40,000/day and he had deported over 3 million people, more than all other Presidents added together up to that date.

Donald J. Trump (Rep)

 

When Trump was elected in 2016 prison stocks rose again. [However by January, 2017, under Trump detentions are over now 44-45,000/day according to The Daily Beast. Family separation is new, although supposedly suspended for now, and it appears that Trump would like to end all immigration through our southern border. He wants a “wall” along the whole southern border.]

Here’s the irony, in Oct. 2017 California, home of the first private prison for immigrants passed the Dignity, not Detention Act. We can see that as American population grew immigration law became steadily more intense until we arrived at where we are now. Countable.com asked me today what I would do with children and unaccompanied minors if they were not detained. I liked when we found families to take them in but this doesn’t even make the list as an official policy and how do you find the number of homes we need.

All of this timeline information, except where noted, was mined from the following article:

https://www.freedomforimmigrants.org/detention-timeline/

Not the Whole Story if Trying to Place Blame

Presidents don’t always write laws or enact laws. A President may initiate a law or rule or act but this is more likely to begin in Congress and then end up on the President’s desk for a signature. This was an excellent article for setting up a timeline and I have tried to condense the contents for you. But what is missing are the political forces that led government representatives to write these bills and put them forward for a vote. Who favored the policy and who did not. We can find all of that, there is a Congressional Record and there are history books but it would require some major digging and will have to be put off for another time, another article. Once again I will repeat that sometimes you had to be there.

detention center coreCivic Cleveland.com

 

Private Prisons (The Daily Beast article)

What sent me on this journey through history was an article in The Daily Beast12/27/2018 which delineated the role of private prison corporations in the detention of immigrants, a phenomenon that has exploded. What it also makes clear is that these for-profit (on the stock market) private prison corporations are paid through government contracts, in other words, taxpayer dollars. We are basically unable to process the numbers of asylum seekers, visa overstayers, immigrants arriving without going through channels, and so they have become prisoners. They are apparently not required to work but life is so boring that many opt to work. They are paid $1/day, or if they work in the kitchen, $3/day. Much of the data about payments is kept away from the public but from what Spencer Ackerman and Adam Rawnsley were able to uncover we have spent 807 million for private contracts to 19 different facilities where immigrants are detained. The Daily Beast article also contains an informative infographic by Sarah Rogers.

Conclusions

Obviously Trump did not create current immigration policies and although he has escalated them he is not alone in this. That has been the trend for the last 150 years. But Donald Trump is fear mongering by exaggerating the dangers of immigration at our southern border. He would, seemingly, like to end all immigration through the southern border for the time being. Americans don’t see how it is possible to keep increasing detention facilities and detention time frames. We are unhappy with the imprisonment of asylum seekers. We are unhappy that they have to stay in detention too long because there is not adequate staffing on the judicial side to adjudicate asylums or deportations. Separating mothers and fathers from their young children is really very upsetting to most Americans. It does not sit well with our sense of justice to see a two year old in a court that will decide his/her fate without legal representation or anyone who speaks Spanish. Our system is not working. Imprisonment is obviously not the answer. In fact our whole set of laws to foil undocumented immigrants is a soul-sucking mess. Once again the law-and- order people have had their say and their message is always the same, “lock ‘em up”. We can do better but first we have to stop doing this.

Photo Credits: From a Google Image Search – thedailybeast.com-cleveland.com

Addendum- Kennedy-Johnson Presidencies – 1965

 

I left out a number of rules, laws, and firsts from my quick reference immigration list but a colleague pointed out one very important act that I neglected to mention. This is the Hart-Celler act of 1965, initiated in the Kennedy administration and passed after Kennedy’s death by the Lyndon Johnson administration. The Immigration and Naturalization Act abolished earlier quota systems based on national origin and established a new immigration policy based on reuniting families and attracting skilled labor to the US. “In removing racist national barriers the Act would significantly alter the demographic mix in the US,” according to Wikipedia. This act was widely supported in Congress. 74% of Democrats said yes and 85% of Republicans voted yes. But the policies passed in this act are at the heart of our current immigration controversies. Many Americas are unhappy that white folks will soon be the minority in America (although no one minority group will represent the majority) so they want drastic changes in quotas. President Trump would like to go back to quotas that give Western Europeans the advantage in immigration, and many Republicans back this approach. This bill also focused on the policy that Trump has called “chain migration” because it gives an advantage to family members of immigrants already in America. Trump and most Republicans would like to end the practice of “chain migration,” ostensibly because it aids terrorists, but also because they want to change the complexion of America in order to bring back the ‘whiteness’ factor that, to some, represents the true face of America.

 

 

Fact or Propaganda in the Age of Trump

Trump lying vox

Deciding whether a statement is a fact or propaganda used to seem easier. However, being bombarded by fake news is beginning to have a disturbing side effect, not unforeseen, but unsettling even so. We never felt that politicians were completely honest with us and sometimes we didn’t trust any words that came out of certain mouths (Nixon for me). But now when I hear almost anyone who is supposedly offering me facts to support a point, I, always a skeptic, find myself thinking that things I used to accept as facts are sounding like propaganda. In fact, everything is starting to sound like propaganda.

I hear what General Mattis is saying about what will happen if we leave Syria and Afghanistan abruptly and I want to accept his advice on this matter, but this is a man who stayed on Trump’s staff for 2 years for mostly unfathomable reasons. In fact I don’t know who I trust to tell me about what we should think or do about Syria or Afghanistan, or Yemen, or the Taliban or ISIS. Even Richard Engle, often immersed in these conflict areas, does not always present a consistent viewpoint. If we leave Syria and Afghanistan will the Taliban flourish? If we leave Syria will threats from ISIS grow unchecked and bring their particular form of terror back into our living rooms once again? The Washington Post tells us that looting in Iraq and Syria has made ISIS wealthy and that they have that money stowed away somewhere.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/retreating-isis-army-smuggled-a-fortune-in-cash-and-gold-out-of-iraq-and-syria/2018/12/21/95087ffc-054b-11e9-9122-82e98f91ee6f_story.html

This implies that ISIS is good to go and will be back to terrorize the world once again. Or will they? My only strategy is to wait and see what happens because I’m not sure why people are predicting the various possible outcomes to removing troops that they are offering us. Do they stand to gain something from the stance they are taking? Are they offering us sincere assessments based on opinions? Are these educated opinions backed up by actual facts? I do think that abandoning the Kurds to Syrian genocidal tendencies is a good reason to think about staying. I also think that withdrawing into a position of isolation from pressure points in the Middle East and elsewhere leaves Putin’s Russia and Assad in Syria, Saudi Arabia, and even China to fill the vacuum this creates. But this week our President dropped the sanctions on a Russian oligarch whose name is way too familiar to us, Oleg Deripaska, friend of Paul Manafort. Not to mention his behavior to what is clearly a Saudi assassination of a journalist. We don’t even know if our own President is an ally of America or any of our allies.

Ted Lieu (D-CA) just said we should leave because only Congress can deploy American troops and Congress did not deploy these troops. That would not top my list of reasons to leave now that we are there, and yet I am very worried that our Constitutional guardrails are disappearing. Of course we never could believe everything we hear from Washington or in the media, but now I find myself trying to see the political motivations for the “facts” that are being delivered daily. Is someone taking a stand because they stand to gain personally or politically? Are they spouting propaganda? Let’s just say my skepticism is at Def Con 5.

Listen to Mitch McConnell, looking like he got a good night’s sleep and dripping sugar trying to convince Democrats to join Republicans and find a way to end this shutdown on TV this Saturday morning before Christmas. Turning down the volume makes it stop but then you can’t hear what he’s saying. He is trying to hook into Democrat’s humanism about government employees who won’t be paid in order to bribe them to accept language that will please Trump.

Some pundits still think that we should make a deal for DACCA. Have they been paying attention? A deal made with a liar is not deal at all. Our president has no compunctions about making a deal and then backing down on it once he gets what he wants. We cannot trust this man.

Democrats do not want a wall, do not want to fund a wall, no bargaining, no deals. Democrats have offered money for border security which is pretty generous considering the kinds of border security that we see on offer. What Trump considers border security looks to me like a humanitarian nightmare.

We do feel bad for government employees but we cannot allow the Republicans and Trump to take human hostages every time they want some unpopular thing. I know I don’t trust Mitch McConnell one little tiny bit. He is always a political animal. But I find myself having real trouble separating facts from propaganda. What is fake and what is real? I expect this effect of Trump’s mind games to worsen with time and I am shocked that it is starting to affect me. I see these effects even in the way foreign nations are acting and reacting to the media and to leaders with authoritarian tendencies.

Our President seems bent on revenge against the whole wide world, and the American people who did not cheer him at his rallies; but we cannot cheer a man who acts as if he hates democracy and every democratic value. We are in a standoff with our own President and he is trying to make us doubt all that we have ever believed in. And it seems to be working.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Vox

 

Are Democrats as Bad as Republicans?

 

generation-gap-The Happy Quilter

Are Democrats as bad as Republicans? It seems to depend on who’s talking. I hear people, mostly young people, saying that those at the top of both parties favor capitalism and this is making them greedy. Powerful members of both political groups take money from lobbyists and special interests. Senior members of both parties have stock-piled wealth, 20-somethings point out. This makes them indebted to and vulnerable to the those who are looting the middle class and ignoring the poorest Americans. If those in power control the capitalists they hurt their own bottom line.

Voters still matter for now it seems, because parties continue to conduct expensive campaigns to get elected. Given enough time and power parties may find ways to turn voting into an empty gesture. Some feel we are already there. For now what trickles down to voters in terms of policies depends on which power broker goes to Washington to represent us. Neither party has championed workers and the environment as they should have.  I expect nothing from the GOP as they have actively stripped workers of benefits and power; and because they are avowed climate change deniers who seem determined to plunder the planet until every drop of fossil fuel has been burned. Perhaps Democrats, who have tried harder to help the fight against fossil fuels and the development of alternative energies, have made some progress, although not enough; but they have not done nearly enough for workers, especially workers who are parents.

It seems that the real contrast between what various people say about our political parties does tend to be generational (and yes, this is an over-generalization). We know that people of all ages nodded yes to Bernie Sanders’ progressive and worker-focused ideas. But, the children of the Boomers had heard their parents express liberal compassion and, it seems, these children became disillusioned by what Boomers actually accomplished. They looked to their parents and grandparents to be more authentic, to hold the greedy at bay.

Our children (who are hardly children any more) resent the Boomers, feel we “sold out”, abandoned our ideals, and traded them in for financial success and material comforts. Boomer parents and grandparents perhaps convinced themselves that they did what was required of mature people in America and that they did this for their children. They found that their education made them desirable employees and before they knew it they got seduced by big paychecks, promotions, investments, McMansions, vacation homes, power, and convinced themselves that they did this for their families and, of course, providing for our families was important. Perhaps they even convinced themselves that America had cleaned up its act. But it is also possible that conservatives and 60’s and 70’s activists fell for the Gordon Gekko “greed is good” mantra (1987 movie, Wall Street). Did we not see the handwriting on the wall, the empty factories, the workers who lost their pensions? Did we think these were isolated events in an otherwise healthy economy? Did we notice that wealth was being squirreled away by a few who became rabid protectors of unfettered capitalism? If we had not “sold out”, but had stuck to our activist roots would our economy be different now?

There were roughly three groups of Boomers. There were some who came from wealthy and conservative or liberal families, were educated at top schools, and followed in the footsteps of their families. They tend to make up the rich and powerful “class”; the owners and the CEO’s of businesses. These Americans are capitalists and actively malign socialism.

In the second group were the activists, the hippies, those who demonstrated against the war in Vietnam, and attended women’s liberation  consciousness raising groups, and wanted to fight poverty and racial prejudice and inequality. Many of this second group of Boomers had also been to college, although they may not have been from wealthy homes. Some may have risen to be CEO’s and some may have worked in government jobs and as teachers. This group is not quite as susceptible to fear mongering about socialism.

And in the third group there were the Boomers who went to work after high school and started families while they were quite young. They believed that they would have a great job in a factory for all of their lives (if they stayed healthy), that their pay would steadily increase, they might even be promoted, and that they would have benefits like health care for their families and good pensions when they retired. The third group of Boomers were most injured by a transitioning economy (manufacturing to service) and affirmative action (they say). Many have slipped from solidly middle class into the lower end of the middle class. And yet many of this third group voted for and still support Trump. They are the biggest fans of capitalism and the most frightened by the idea of socialism.

Could any of the Boomers have stopped the migration of manufacturing to nations with cheap labor and plentiful consumers? It seems to be a common understanding that high taxes and union demands for more money contributed to the flight of our factories. However, having China open up to capitalism was probably a far greater motivator. Our government did not really try to stem the exodus because those in our government stood to profit from these new markets.

Most middle class parents thought their children wanted the lives they (the parents) had. But after all the parental talk about “the establishment” and the “military-industrial complex”, the millennials and Gen Xer’s seemed to be angry because their parents did not see the dangers of unregulated capitalism and find ways to rein in the most ardent capitalists who were aligned with the military (such good customers).

Young people are idealistic. They easily feel betrayed by what they see as hypocrisy—the failure of their elders to honor stated values. Many young people see capitalism as a pernicious economic system that hoards wealth and sees people with less money merely as “workers”, rather than people with responsibilities and interests. Union busting has been pursued systematically and successfully by the powerful and wealthy. Small wonder young people are hunting around for another economic system. They also see where greed has gotten us in terms of some scary climate change realities and the frightening possibilities recently predicted. Younger people are aware of the unwillingness on the part of those in power to help us switch to energies that are cleaner than the fossil fuels we have relied on. Younger people accept that fossil fuels have created the global warming that is changing climates and biomes.

These same young people seem embarrassed by materialism. They do not seem to believe in hoarding. They do not subscribe to the doctrine of perpetual growth—that an economy must always offer more—higher prices, higher wages, higher profits, more and better stuff. Where does the constant drive to grow take us? Will a nation fail if it cruises once in a while instead of always going full throttle? (You can almost hear the old capitalists saying, “sacrilege”.)

Millennials and Gen Xers find imperialism despicable—a crime against the humans whose lives are changed by a land and power grab. Annexing territory, now that the earth has been everywhere carved up into nations, has pretty much gone out of fashion, although heavily populated nations may have eyes for more territory eventually. These young Americans (20 and 30 somethings) are not proud of America’s sins, which is how they think of things like regime change and proxy wars, or persistent racism, or acting as missionaries to spread democracy/capitalism (and perhaps even Christianity). In these matters they blame Democrats who did not fight against these policies as much as they blame Republicans who insisted on them.

Our offspring are the future of America and the world. The things they don’t like that they see in the parental generations may determine what America (and the world) will be like in the future. Unless corporations win; and then they will be serfs. It is one thing to choose an organic and low-demand lifestyle for yourself. It is another thing altogether to have a low-income life thrust upon you.

Sadly, since the flaws in economic systems reside in us, rather than in the systems themselves it doesn’t matter if we become socialists, communists, or remain capitalists. It is the messages human minds hear and channel that need work. These message determine the laws we make, which in turn determines the level of corruption those at the top can indulge in. What we used to call the “puritan ethic” or the “protestant ethic” should be replaced with an economic code more suited to the post-industrial age. There may not be enough consumer demand to justify three shifts and long work weeks. Robotic workers which take the place of human workers may provide the leisure hours we once imagined were coming. The idea of “manifest destiny” suited the promise of an almost empty continent and the white supremacist entitlement felt by even our poorest colonists. Now, unless we go to space, there are no new lands to populate. We could change our goals so that we pay attention to the quality of our lives rather than producing endless quantities of unnecessary and unaffordable goods. If we consider all of this, a progressive agenda makes good sense. Short of revolution can it be accomplished?

I am speaking for younger generations I do not belong to and I am sorry about that. I may not have this right, but I am trying to understand an age that could either bring exciting and life-changing developments, or could put us in a new dark age, with capitalists and CEO’s as our “aristocratic masters” for decades. I recently read America: The Farewell Tourby Chris Hedges which inspired some of my thoughts, as he has no great love of capitalism and no great fear of socialism. He is the child of a calm and confirmed pair of activists, though they are not boomers and he is not as young as most Americans who hold similar views. His book has left me with food for thought. This is what books do for us. They send us off into ideas and analyses that continue to occupy our minds. He agrees with younger Americans that the Democrats are just as bad as the Republicans. I am not there yet and whether or not I get there depends on what the Democrats do next.

This is a view from the cheap seats.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – The Happy Quilters

 

The Wall

Wall National Post

The wall. We all spend way too much time thinking about the wall. I wish we never heard about the wall. I hate the idea of the wall. I hate the cost of the wall. But what I hate most about the wall is that we are expected to build something this expensive that most of us do not want because of one old coot who can never admit that he might be wrong. He can lie about things we heard him say and tell us that he never said those things, but for some reason, he cannot employ the old switcheroo about building the wall. The meaningless mantra keeps repeating like a bad refrain, or a bad taco (if there is such a thing).

First of all the numbers of migrants seeking asylum is not big enough to warrant spending 5 billion dollars, which will easily turn into 30 or 40 billion dollars. We are a big country populated by only about 350 million people. Even if 300,000 people wanted to come in, as they did in a recent year, that is a tiny percentage of our overall population and we still have plenty of room for more people. Building a wall is overkill. It is a solution requiring no imagination or knowledge or creative thought. It’s using a sledgehammer on a tack.

We have immigration laws, but we also have a bottle neck at the border which creates chaos. We can’t process more than a few immigrants at a time. No one qualifies for instant asylum. There are courts and paperwork and waiting periods. Why isn’t there a bigger processing center at our southern border if people need such detailed processing. Instead our southern border looks very much like our northern border with Canada, but it doesn’t function like it. We don’t have caravans of anxious people presenting themselves at our border with Canada because Canada has a stable government and a healthy economy. People who come from South American countries are also our neighbors, but we treat them like invaders. Why? White supremacy? Racism? Our inability to sort true asylum seekers from criminals, or predict who will be criminalized once they are here?

The problem with a wall is that, although it is built to keep people out, it can also be used to keep people in. The Great Wall of China is so ancient that we can romanticize it. It’s a wonder of the ancient world built so wide that there is a road along the top. I’m guessing lots of poor people were enslaved to build that wall. It was designed to keep out the Mongol hordes or something, which I think it didn’t even do, but now it delineates a northern border in China that you can see from space. It has most likely been used to keep people from leaving China for longer than it was ever used to keep people out of China. Castle walls were built to keep out invaders but there are many stories of people who died of starvation while waiting out a siege inside a walled city or town. Three words: the Berlin Wall. The very idea of a wall makes me claustrophobic, although not as much as it would have before there were airplanes, which laugh at walls.

Back to our old man, Trump, who knows that America needs to shore up Social Security. Here is a man so selfish that he wants to take health care away from people who need it because he supposedly believes that it should be turning over profits for private business. He is one businessman trying to make nice with other businessmen because he would like to be in their good graces, or something, I guess. Assigning motives to this man is not usually very difficult. You only have to look for what benefits he will get from a particular decision.

We all suspect he is putting the funds for the wall over the funds to save programs like the ACA that benefit the American people in order to wreak Republican vengeance on behalf of the GOP, who have screamed bloody murder about Obamacare ever since it was enacted (in a non-bipartisan way, because that was the only chance Obama had). We all also suspect he is doing this to stick it to Obama, because it rankles that he is admired by so many. But excuse me, doesn’t that just make we the people pawns in a ludicrous power game that one person seems to be playing all alone.

Politicians used to think twice before ending a program as successful as the Affordable Care Act, but Trump keeps taking it apart piece-by-piece and he is quite willing for us to see that we have no value in the grand scheme of things. This ability to focus like a laser on his own personal interests allows him to insist that we take 5 billion dollars that could be better spent to stop children and seniors from dropping off a humanitarian cliff and spend it to build a wall that will not solve our immigration problems.

As for Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, they have constituents to answer to. They know what Democrats want them to do. They are not authorized by the people who elect them to say yes to money for a wall. I am proud of the way they have supported their constituents, which I see as all Democrats, and that they are not talking about compromise. There are times when compromise is the correct path, but with a egomaniacal president and a rabid, off-the-rails Republican party this is definitely not the time to deal. This is the time to form a really effective wall of our own; a wall of no. We cannot afford to compromise with a party that has the very worst set of policy ideas and has been stubbornly clinging to those same terrible policies for decades. If we come up against a reformed Republican Party that will be open to change the Democrats can find their flexibility once again. As for me I think, just as the wall is not worth building, the Republican party is not worth saving.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – National Post

Lawlessness of Trump’s Immigration Actions

wall with immigrants MSNBC.com

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?

Immigrant train New York Post

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.

tear gas at children WaPO

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