Category Archives: Immigration

Conflation, Obfuscation on Immigration

Not much imagination is required to conclude the Trump Campaign is back on the trail with its prime topic for the upcoming elections.  Immigration.  “Make America Great Again,” was never much more than code for “make America white again,” and the persistent reference to immigration policy, combined with vague commentary about who is under discussion, compounded with a conflation of immigrant with “criminal” doesn’t leave much room for conjecture about intent.  Those who advocate for DACA recipients, or who champion comprehensive immigration policy reform, are to be painted with a three inch gesso base-coat brush as protecting the “animals,” and the “criminals.”  Consider the following items from this past week:

As he has in numerous private meetings with his advisers at the White House, Mr. Trump used the session to vent about the nation’s immigration laws, calling them “the dumbest laws on immigration in the world.” He exhorted his administration to “do much better” in keeping out undesirable people, including members of transnational gangs like MS-13.

“We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — we’re stopping a lot of them,” Mr. Trump said in the Cabinet Room during an hourlong meeting that reporters were allowed to document. “You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people, these are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.” [NYT]

We can drill down a bit more into the nuances, if such there are, into this round of conflation.

SHERIFF MIMS: Thank you. There could be an MS-13 member I know about — if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I cannot tell ICE about it.

THE PRESIDENT: We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before. And because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out. It’s crazy.  [Vox]

As the article posits, there was a definite lack of specificity in this exchange, and a President who was in no hurry to clarify the matter.  Clarification was left to a question to the Press Secretary on May 17th, who asserted the President was definitely talking about members of MS 13.  This certainly sounds deliberate, and the pretext for the policy becomes subtext for the audience.

“If Trump understands his own administration’s policy, he’s never acknowledged it in public. He sticks to the same rhetorical move every time: refer to some specific criminals, call them horrible people and animals, say that their evil justifies his immigration policy, and allow the conflation of all immigrants and all Latinos with criminals and animals to remain subtext.”  [Vox]

The problem, of course is that his actual policy doesn’t match his rhetorical flourishes.  A quick look at FY 2017 statistics belies the President’s assertions on who is being deported for what:

“Deportations overall were down during the 2017 fiscal year, most of which was under Trump’s presidency, from the previous year, in part because fewer people were caught illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. But the number of undocumented immigrants without criminal convictions deported from the interior of the country rose dramatically.

People with no criminal convictions accounted for 17 percent of those deported after getting arrested by ICE within the country ― a sharp increase since former President Barack Obama’s last full year in office, when those without criminal convictions made up 8 percent of interior deportations. In total, nearly 14,000 noncriminals were deported from the interior of the country in the 2017 fiscal year, compared with about 5,000 the year before.”  [HuffPo]  (emphasis added)

One more hammer blow on the nail head — there has been an increase in the number of NON-criminal deportations under the current administration, while the President insists on talking about members of a specific gang.  We can probably safely estimate there are between 8,000 and 10,000 members of MS 13 in the US.  [AzCentral] Insight Crime has a helpful publication, available in pdf, describing the gang and its operations which is well worth the time to read carefully.  One major point to consider from the report is that MS 13 is a transnational gang, not a transnational criminal enterprise.  Secondly, it should be noted that the gang follows traditional migration patterns — it is not pro-actively ‘setting up cells.’  The members, indeed are vicious and violent, however neither their numbers, nor their significance deserves the emphasis placed on them by the administration in its efforts to gin up a good Two Minute Hate.  They certainly do not stand as proxy for all immigrants coming to this country.

The President, as usual, is basely playing to his base.  Nor will it do much good to present facts and figures to the members of that flock.  Their response to immigration policy isn’t rational, if it were they wouldn’t be bleating “Build the Wall.”   What is necessary is a solution to the DACA recipients’ problems — created by the President himself — and a legislative package of comprehensive immigration policy reform legislation, which doesn’t reflect the ideology of the White Nationalists among us.  Given their proclivities, the hardliners in the White House and the Congress would have forbidden the immigration of Dolores Huerta’s grandparents to this country, while being more attuned to the philosophy of the likes of Anders Breivik from Norway?

We can make America great again by doing what we’ve always done. Recognize a problem, analyze it rationally, evaluate possible solutions, and discuss compromise legislative remedies.  None of this can occur during a Two Minute Hate, with Sheep, or in the midst of irrational rhetoric and flights of emotional fancy.  If 40% of the populace wish to be irrational fear-ravaged sheep, they need not take the remaining 60% of us off the cliff with them.

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Distraction to Destruction: The Great Immigration Diversion

If a political party doesn’t want to discuss problems like, say, income inequality? Or, gun violence? Or, vote suppression? Or, Heaven Fore-fend, the interference in our elections by a hostile foreign power? — Then what better diversion than Immigration.  Better still, the issue can be framed such that it appeals to the lesser little devils of our nature like racism, and thus be an “acceptable” way to insert racism into our national political discourse as if it were a legitimate topic of immediate consideration.

“Immigrants today account for 13.4% of the U.S. population, nearly triple the share (4.7%) in 1970. However, today’s immigrant share remains below the record 14.8% share in 1890, when 9.2 million immigrants lived in the U.S.”  [Pew]

Thus much for the Huge Wave of Immigrants. It shouldn’t escape anyone’s notice that the immigrants being vilified are coming to our southern border. Those would be the Mexican immigrants, and those from Central American nations — probably the brown versions of human beings, and therefore not likely to assimilate.

“Mexico is the top origin country of the U.S. immigrant population. In 2015, 11.6 million immigrants living in the U.S. were from there, accounting for 27% of all U.S. immigrants. The next largest origin groups were those from China (6%), India (6%), the Philippines (5%) and El Salvador (3%).  By region of birth, immigrants from South and East Asia combined accounted for 27% of all immigrants, a share equal to that of Mexico.”   [Pew]

Oops, there goes another bit of nativist mythology.  Interesting, those crowds bellowing “Build The Wall” aren’t chanting about the 27% of immigrants from South and East Asia.  We can drill down on this a bit more:

“About 1 million immigrants arrive in the U.S. each year. In 2015, the top country of origin for new immigrants coming into the U.S. was India, with 110,000 people, followed by Mexico (109,000), China (90,000) and Canada (35,000).

By race and ethnicity, more Asian immigrants than Hispanic immigrants have arrived in the U.S. each year since 2010. Immigration from Latin America slowed following the Great Recession, particularly from Mexico, which has seen net losses in U.S. immigration over the past few years.”  [Pew]

The “Build The Wall” Gang seem to have missed this point.  To miss the point is to base one’s perception of immigration on the situation before 2010.  Moreover, the Wall is whatever the audience wants it to be.  It’s a real, physical barrier [ChiTrib] [vox] or a metaphor for making white Americans feel like the government is ‘protecting’ them (and their privileges) from incursions by brown people. [Hill] [VanityFair]

What is generally missing from coverage of the administration’s use of the Build The Wall campaign litany is any factual context.  It seems sufficient to the corporate media to show clips of the incantations of “Build The Wall” during rallies, without offering any information explaining that the pretext is a vision of American immigration which is at least eight years old, and is currently statistically indefensible.

It’s also readily apparent the corporate media would rather not discuss the elephant in the room — the underpinning of this perspective on immigration is partially if not essentially racist.  This shouldn’t be too surprising.  This would be the same press that can barely enunciate the word, and applies a host of euphemisms to describe racist remarks as “racially charged,” “distasteful,” “derogatory,” and “racially tinged.” [HuffPo] Again, this would be the same DC press which keeps labeling Trumpian expressions as “counterfactual,” “factual shortcut,” “stretched truth,” and “misleading statement,” [Week] instead of the more accurate old fashioned term — L.I.E. [NYT]

The current occupant of the Oval Office may be right about one thing — his is a made for TV administration, replete with a continuing fountain of daily (hourly?) emissions which fill what might otherwise be dead air.  It is, “news” from a fire hose.  The problem is that it floods any time which might be spared for context and analysis.  Should even tenuous contextualization, analysis, and evaluation be applied the Occupant screams “fake news,” and the chanting rally crowds applaud Dear Leader.

Caveat Emptor.  The chanters are investing in a distraction to divert them from the destruction of their own economic well being, and sense of community.  Arguing with them doesn’t work; their fact-free bubble of Faux News precludes any analysis in conflict with their fundamental racism.  Better to speak to and for those who advocate for a rational and comprehensive immigration policy, and out-vote the ditto-heads who chant “Build The Wall,” and “Amnesty,” whenever it might be suggested that a rational comprehensive policy would be preferable to emotional, irrational, racism.

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The Great Wall of Distraction or Why The President is a Lousy Dealmaker

From the December 2017 report from the Department of Homeland Security:

Arrests of people trying to cross illegally into the U.S. from Mexico plunged to the lowest level since 1971, as fewer people attempted the trek, the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday.

Meanwhile, immigration arrests in the interior of the country increased by 25 percent, the data show. [NPR]

What we know is that (1) the President didn’t get ‘wall money’ in the recent Omnibus Bill; (2) four immigration bills failed as of February 2018 in the US Senate; (3) the Special Counsel has interviewed at least two Russian oligarchs [CNN]; (4) his selection for National Security Adviser is up to his ears in an investigation of Cambridge Analytica [NYT] and (5) the President is a ‘subject’ of the Mueller investigation, although not a target at this time; [WaPo] (6) if the administration isn’t careful there’s a trade war in the offing with China.  It must be time for The Wall.

So, why are broadcasters focusing on the Administration’s version of the Ming Dynasty wall renovation and construction efforts (1368-1644), and why now?

At one level there’s the obvious diversion of the conversation away from the actual news of the day, see list above.  I’ve not seen it done to date, but surely someone out there is measuring the time differential between negative news concerning the president and the launching of a new assault on immigrants.

Another onion layer may well be the utility of the immigration issue with the Trumpian base voter — the issue as currently framed is almost blatantly racist, note there is no “national security” issue with those coming across the northern border, and little attention to immigrants who have overstayed visas from European countries.  For those who believe that make America great again actually means make America white controlled again, the diversion is a nice interlude for self congratulation and confirmation.

The utility of immigration as an attention grabber may also be related to what is becoming evident — the President is a lousy deal maker.

The prime rule in negotiations is Get Organized. Here’s a thought: Have A Plan.  Better still have a detailed plan.  Know what is wanted, what is essential, what can be bargained away, what is the ‘walk off point,’ what are the priorities.  Business and labor negotiators know that preparation is essential, and that it’s necessary to view the bargaining positions from both perspectives, and to prepare accordingly.

Few issues better illustrate the administration’s failure to plan than immigration.  There were four bills in the Senate last February [Vox] and all of them failed because the administration kept moving the goal posts. The president moved from a ‘send me a bipartisan bill,’ to send me a bill with money for a wall, to send me a bill with funding for the wall and an end to family reunification programs and a limit to legal immigration and a system of merit based immigration….  The fact that the presidential position kept changing during the negotiation process with the Senate is a sure sign the White House wasn’t clear what it wanted in the first place and kept trying to insert issues into the package without having an initial position which was clear to others at the bargaining table. If nothing more, the administration should have prepared a listing of priorities, in ranked order.  A similar failure to plan out a cogent and consistent position was also visible in the propositions for gun law reformation.   A failure to get organized in the first place often leads to problems all too common when one side isn’t actually listening to the other.

Rule Two — Know the Opposition.  This requires good old fashioned preparation and equally essential listening.  When Senators were debating the immigration proposals last February both sides understood a solution for DACA recipients was desirable, but that funding for wall building on the southern border was problematic, and limitations on legal immigration complicated an already frustrating situation.  The Collins-Schumer Plan had the best chance of success in the Senate but failed 54-46 when the goal posts moved.   A failure to plan out a detailed proposal combined with a failure to pick up the signals from seasoned Congressional negotiators about what would add votes from ‘the other side of the aisle’ doomed the legislative process.

Rule Three — Hard bargaining looks good but it very rarely works.  There’s a huge difference between extending proposals and posturing.  The White House signaled ‘hard bargaining’ when in the wake of what appeared a promising start on immigration issues rapidly devolved into chaos when the White House later responded with a laundry list of extreme positions which removed the focus from a solvable issue (DACA) to a more intractable one — general immigration policy reform. When the White House moved into another ‘hard bargaining’ stance (Take It Or Leave It)  the  Senate failed to defuse the situation by ignoring the hard line offer, and having a counter-offer at hand to resolve a more mutually desirable resolution to a solvable problem, in this instance DACA.

Rule Four — Never bargain against yourself. Side A makes an offer. Side B responds with a request for a concession from Side A before making a counter offer. Wrong. Again, the administration’s sliding positions on what would be acceptable immigration policy legislation had both the White House and the Senators inviting unreciprocated offers.  At some point the Senators would have been well advised to tell the White House they awaited a definite, written, and specific counter offer to the Collins-Schumer Bill and then sat tight.

Rule Five — Sharing works in bargaining.  While it isn’t necessary to put all one’s cards on the table, especially previously prepared  counter offers, it is helpful for both sides to share information which informs general positions.  It might be financial information, or anecdotal points of reference, or even personal. However, if reciprocity is what is wanted then sharing is just as important at the bargaining table as it was in kindergarten.

Rule Six — Know how to get to Yes. If Side A and Side B are truly bargaining, and not merely posturing, and if they come to the table prepared with ranked priorities and specific proposals and counter offers, then at some point they will get to the YES part.  The Yes Zone is the point at which Side A has conceded all it can without reordering its priorities and Side B has gained all it can without facing a rebellion in the mass meeting or board room. There must be an understanding from the outset that neither side will get everything it wants.  That’s not bargaining or deal making — that’s just bluster and posturing.

Unfortunately, the White House violated all six of these rules of the bargaining road, which leaves a person with the impression that for all the vaunted “Art of the Deal” the president doesn’t move much further than making an offer, badgering someone into submission, and then litigating when the inevitable impasse is reached.  In short, not only doesn’t the Oval Office know how to bargain effectively it doesn’t even give the appearance of knowing what its initial positions should be and how those should be developed, organized, and presented.

Without a basic knowledge of what constitutes effective bargaining (and Lord knows there is a plethora of articles on the subject from all manner of perspectives) the White House will be forced to revert to the posturing which puts a premium on distraction and publicity and discounts constructive solutions.

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The Great Safety Distraction

In December 2015 the Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau issued an update on “Nevada Crime and Corrections.” (pdf)  What we discover from this brief table of statistics is that between 2009 and 2013 the percentage change in the number of crimes committed dropped by 4%.  We had a relatively high rate of violent crimes per 100,000 persons (4th nationally) but the violent crime rate in Nevada between 2009 and 2013 declined by 16.2%, while the national violent crime rate declined by 14.8%.  Somehow these numbers make the drumbeat of references to violent criminal immigrants ring a bit hollow.  Street  gangs are a problem, but the problem may not be as dramatic as proponents of immigration restriction infer.

The Las Vegas Sun published an article in June 2015 with the dramatic headline that there were approximately 20,000 street gang members in the Las Vegas metropolitan area.  The population total for the Las Vegas area in 2015 was estimated at 2,111,000.  [data]  The Las Vegas economic agencies inform us that 45% of the Clark County population is white, 10.3% is African-American, and 30.9% are Hispanic/Latino, and another 9.3% are of Asian descent.  However, as the Sun article suggests it’s hard to equate gang membership to immigration or ethnic status in any definitive way, because each demographic group has its own gangs.

The street gangs identified in Las Vegas tend to be associated with the old standard Crips and Bloods — the Crips having developed in Los Angeles between the mid 1960’s and 1971.  The Bloods developing in response to the increasing influence of the Crips.  White gangs are more difficult to track in terms of membership because they dislike calling themselves a gang, although it’s hard to differentiate their violence and drug trafficking from that of their African American cohorts.  The Hispanic street gangs show a similar connection to California as those of the African American gangs.

The major group appears to be the Surenos (Southerners, as in Southern California) opposed by the Nortenos (Northerners, also from California), and their associated;  added to by a Las Vegas oriented group the Barrio Naked City gang. [Sun]  Notice that MS-13, the group often cited by the current President is not among these major gangs in the Las Vegas area.  One reason may well be that law enforcement has depleted their  leadership. [LVnow]  They’ve been a target of Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice for the past two years.  The most recent estimate indicates that there are about 150 MS 13 gang members in the Las Vegas area.  We now enter the realm of conflation.

It is extremely difficult to definitively state that US immigration policy has a direct correlation to gang activity, especially in terms of minors and young people entering the country.  DHS has been asked for statistics/data on unaccompanied minors who are found to be gang members, but did not respond (Politifact).  A person who has been charged with a crime in a foreign country is not eligible for asylum in the U.S. Another issue is that the officials aren’t breaking down what is meant by “gang members or suspected gang members.” Some instances of the gang label have not been substantiated by immigration enforcement.  [See the Savaria v. Sessions case.  Also: ACLU, and ACLU petition pdf]  If we conflated “confirmed” and “suspected” memberships then the problems associated with gangs are automatically exaggerated. [Politifact] Yet another problem with the conflation is that no one appears certain that minors who came to the US came as gang members or were recruited after they arrived.   [Politifact]  The Politifact article summarizes the conflation problem:

“DHS, Sessions, and Trump are trying to shift the focus of immigration enforcement to MS-13 in order to repeatedly drill in the message that immigrants are dangerous criminals,” Ahmed said.

But many gang members were born in the United States, and gangs form in conditions of marginality, which also exist in other countries, said Wolf, the researcher with CIDE in Mexico.

“There is no doubt that MS-13 has engaged in serious and heinous forms of violence, devastating families and communities. But the emphasis on immigrants as the source of the gang problem in the United States is misguided,” said David C. Pyrooz, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder, whose research includes gangs and criminal networks.  [Politifact]

Of course one of the other dangers in the continual ‘calling out” of a particular (and particularly violent) gang is that public attention is diverted from gangs with larger memberships and which are homegrown.

MEANWHILE!  We have a President who categorically refuses to acknowledge the dangers presented to this country by Russian interference in our political institutions and processes. Who will not acknowledge the warnings given by our CIA, FBI, and national security experts. Who will not enforce the sanctions enacted by the 115th Congress. Who would prefer we focus our attention on the 150 MS 13 gang members in Las Vegas than the KARYN Network pushing the social media “news” on behalf of Russian interests.

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Filed under Crime Rates, Immigration, Nevada politics, Politics

Hopes, Fears, and History: Immigration Policy Redux

Saturday. January 27, 2018. Holocaust Memorial Day.  Please hold this in mind as we look at the administration’s proposed immigration legislation.  Now, please notice the immigration restrictions in the latest White House immigration proposal:

“In addition to the citizenship path that would take up to 12 years, the White House framework includes a $25 billion “trust fund” for a border wall and additional security upgrades on the southwestern and northern U.S. borders. And the president is proposing terminating the ability of U.S. citizens to petition for permanent legal residency “green cards” for parents and siblings, limiting the family visas to spouses and minor children.”[WaPo]

The petitions mentioned in the proposals are meant to reunify families, or in the pejorative “chain immigration.”  Family visas are to be limited to spouses and minor children.

A Trip Down A Dark Memory Alley 

Flashback: We are in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, the pogrom in November 1938 in Nazi Germany.  Nazi policy is now obvious, if it wasn’t before.  Unfortunately, so was US immigration policy:

“Anti-Semitism fueled by the Depression and by demagogues like the radio priest Charles Coughlin influenced immigration policy. In 1939 pollsters found that 53 percent of those interviewed agreed with the statement “Jews are different and should be restricted.” Between 1933 and 1945 the United States took in only 132,000 Jewish refugees, only ten percent of the quota allowed by law.

Reflecting a nasty strain of anti-Semitism, Congress in 1939 refused to raise immigration quotas to admit 20,000 Jewish children fleeing Nazi oppression. As the wife of the U.S. Commissioner of Immigration remarked at a cocktail party, “20,000 children would all too soon grow up to be 20,000 ugly adults.”  [GL.org]

The 1939 refugee children’s immigration bill was bi-partisan, sponsored by Senator Robert Wagner (D-NY) and on the House side by Rep. Edith Norse Rogers (R-MA), and it garnered significant support from national leaders.  However, then as now it didn’t have the support of the America First crowd.

“…the opposition struck back with calls to, yes, put America first.

“Protect the youth of America from this foreign invasion,” thundered John Trevor, the head of the American Coalition of Patriotic Societies, a restrictionist organization with a reach of about 2.5 million members. Trevor had built a career for himself by railing against rising immigration and its pernicious effect on America’s national character. He helped shape the 1924 Immigration Act, which established the restrictive quota system that was explicitly designed to curtail Italians and Jews, excluded the Japanese altogether, and stood as U.S. policy for 40 years.” [Slate] (emphasis added)

The bill did manage to get a hearing, but the opposition was active and loud and ultimately successful:

“In April 1939, a joint Senate-House committee held four days of hearings on Wagner-Rogers. Sympathetic witnesses offered moving humanitarian pleas. They also stressed that children would not compete with American citizens for jobs. Nativist opponents presented standard anti-immigration claims as well as innovative assertions such as the claim that the wording of the bill could enable 20,000 Nazi children to come to the U.S. Therefore, they claimed, the effect of the bill would be to tear German families apart. The Senate and House subcommittees both voted unanimously in favor of Wagner-Rogers.” [JVL]

The committee votes weren’t sufficient. By July 1, 1939 the bill was dead, pigeonholed in committee.  The shadow of the 1924 Immigration Act remained a feature of American policy, first expressed in 1790 when the government declared immigration was only acceptable if the applicants for citizenship were “free white persons of good character.” [NYT]  The re-establishment of the KKK, the disillusionment after World War I, the virulent anti-Semitism of Father Coughlin, and the association in the public mind of Jews and the Communist Party (or other efforts for labor organizing) all combined to keep the ugly shadow firmly over American horizons.  The 1930’s were particularly vulgar:

“In the 1930s, even as Americans regularly read news about Jews being attacked on the streets in Nazi Germany, there was no national appetite for increasing immigration. As the waiting lists for U.S. immigration visas swelled, so did anti-Semitism in the United States.  In 1939, Sen. Robert Reynolds of North Carolina (who ran his own anti-Semitic newspaper, the American Vindicator), proposed bills to end all immigration for five years, declaring in a June 1939 speech that the time had come to “save America for Americans.” [The Hill]

Decision Time 

Sound familiar?   Substitute Jewish, Italian, and Eastern European for Mexican and Muslim, and the similarities are obvious. “They” were anarchists (the terrorists of the day), agitators (the labor organizers, protesters, of the day) and worse still some of them were active in Civil Rights organizing (read: improving the status of women and  African Americans).

So, consider for a moment on this Holocaust Memorial Day how the Temple B’nai Israel in Victoria, Texas handed over the keys to its building to the congregation of the Victoria Islamic Center in the wake of an arson attack on the Center, February 2017. [CNN] Or how in that same month a Muslim organization launched a fund raising campaign to help pay for the damage done by anti-Semitic vandals to a Jewish cemetery. [NYDN]

At this point it’s appropriate to ask:  Which voices are we heeding?  The voices of Muslims and Jews in Victoria. Texas? Or the virulent rantings of the hateful vestiges of the short-lived Vindicator?

Are we to exclude family members from dangerous territories because they aren’t “family?” Because they are adult siblings of US residents and citizens? Because we don’t want to allow US residents/citizens to rescue their parents or their grandparents? Because we might be “flooded by the ‘ugly adults'” if we allow the rescue of little nieces and nephews?   Are we hardened against allowing a US citizen from sponsoring a family member who wants to come to this City on a Hill to work hard and follow the American Dream?

We have some choices to make in 2018, not the least of which is whether we are to be that City on the Hill or the stockade of anti-Semitism of years past transformed into an over-sized gated community of anti-immigrant sentiment opposed to allowing anyone not “free white of good character” to share in the creation of the country in the 21st century?

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Adam Laxalt: The Grandson of Immigrants doesn’t like immigrants?

Adam Paul Laxalt seems to have forgotten that he is a descendant of Dominique and Therese Laxalt.  He also appears to have forgotten that Dominique Laxalt started life in the great American west as a sheepherder.  I supposed he’d prefer Nevadans identify him as the grandson of former Governor Paul Laxalt, popular politician and friend of Ronald Reagan — not especially as the great grandson of a Basque sheepherder.   He must be only tenuously connected to his immigrant roots because that’s the only rational explanation for his joining the “anti-sanctuary city” case brought by 11 AGs:

 “The brief urges the court to reverse a U.S. District Court judge’s order preventing the implementation of the federal government’s executive order pertaining to sanctuary cities. The case is an opportunity to remedy the threat California’s “sanctuary cities” pose to Nevada safety, Laxalt’s office stated.” [Sierra Sun]

First let’s look at the rational as published by the Sierra Sun, and evaluate Laxalt’s position.  Part One:

“Nevada’s law enforcement officials, including all 17 currently elected county sheriffs, have consistently opposed sanctuary-city policies that would prevent compliance with federal law and compromise public safety, the office stated. In the vast majority of cases, an individual must be arrested for committing a crime and booked into a jail or detention facility before Nevada law enforcement agencies check whether the individual is sought by federal immigration authorities and, if so, alert those federal authorities, the office stated. Sanctuary-city policies that prohibit this communication allow violent offenders to be released back into the community, the office stated.”

The part about “compromising public safety” needs a bit more explication.  In standard law enforcement practice, a person does something criminal, that is commits a felony or a misdemeanor, and is detained. After detention law enforcement looks into the person’s background — outstanding warrants? Outstanding court issues? …. Immigration status? The Oval Office Anti-Immigrant policy inserts ICE into the arrest process, and herein lies a problem — If the individual arrested for being publicly intoxicated thereby disturbing the peace  (NRS 203.010) is named Smith, Johnson, or Baker what is the likelihood the sheriff’s office is going to check with ICE for his or her immigration status?  What we have here is an invitation to discrimination, whites detained face misdemeanor penalties and Hispanics face more extensive investigations by ICE for being named Hernandez.

The odds are in Nevada the person with the Hispanic surname is US born.  Hispanics are 28% of the state’s population, and of this number 61% were born in the United States. [Pew]  The most common Hispanic name in Nevada is Garcia.  [Anc.com] If Garcia is the most common surname for a person of Hispanic heritage in Nevada then we can add Jose as the most common name for a boy of Mexican descent.  Now, consider for a moment what happens when a Jose Garcia is picked up in violation of NRS 203.010 and his “name is compared” to an ICE target list.  Think there aren’t ample opportunities for mistakes to be made? Maybe think again.  As for releasing “violent offenders back into communities…” that needs to be discussed as well.

Sanctuary-city policies that prohibit this communication allow violent offenders to be released back into the community, the office stated.”  This is a misvioleading conflation of the first water. The statement works IF and Only IF we assume that the person detained is automatically assumed to be a violent offender or if violent offenders are the most commonly arrested.  It also works IF the audience assumes “those people” are likely to be violent offenders, the release of any one of them puts the population in peril.  To make these assumptions AG Laxalt would have to ignore the 2016 Crime in Nevada report. (long pdf)

A person doesn’t get far into the 2016 Department of Public Safety report before it’s obvious that the most common index crimes in this state are good old fashioned garden variety property crimes: burglary, larceny.   The five year average for property crime (2012-2016) stands at 76,833 far outpacing personal crime averages.  So, even for ‘serious’ crimes, the ones that get reported as indexed, the odds are a person didn’t get picked up for a violent crime against a person.  Therefore the argument that we should turn our local deputies into ICE officers because otherwise we’d have roving rapists and murderers in our midst is more fear mongering than reality.  Not that this prevents AG Laxalt from turning up the burners:

 “Sanctuary cities in California pose a danger to neighboring states like Nevada by making it easier for those not lawfully in this country and with violent criminal histories to evade law enforcement and travel out of state. What’s more, these cities undermine the rule of law and prevent cooperation between federal and local officials.”

“Undermining the rule of law” is a common refrain among right wing anti-immigration advocates.  We could as easily argue that what undermines the rule of law is to have people arrested and detained because they have the same name as a person on an ICE list, or that if one’s name is Smith or Jones there will be no extra scrutiny but if your last name is Garcia or … Laxalt… then the person can sweat the possibility of mistakes.  The rule of law can also be undermined by immigration agents who dump water bottles in the desert (and brag about it) or threaten a doctor with deportation for juvenile offenses ages ago, and make it all but impossible for immigrant women to press charges for sexual assaults because to do so would invite deportation proceedings.  It also undermines respect for the law if we deliberately ignore the fact that the statistics on crimes don’t support the assertion illegal immigrants commit more crimes:

“The tone and tenor of the president’s executive order blurs the line between who’s a serious criminal and who isn’t,” and between documented and undocumented immigrants, said Randy Capps, the institute’s director of research for United States programs. There is no national accounting of criminality specifically by people who are in the country illegally. But Mr. Nowrasteh said he had analyzed the available figures and concluded that undocumented immigrants had crime rates somewhat higher than those here legally, but much lower than those of citizens.”  [NYT] (emphasis added)

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Filed under Immigration, Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics

I’m Watching a Basketball Game (Instead of the DACA drama)

Yes, in the midst of the Soap Opera that is the Federal Government of these United States this political junkie is watching a basketball game I recorded yesterday. Why? Because I received just about all the news I need for the next couple of days in perhaps less than 15 minutes this morning.   The rest will be noise.

Every pundit ever hired by every cable broadcast network will expend altogether too much energy “explaining” what the machinations of the past week “mean.”  Since I’ve come to believe they aren’t significantly better at prognostication than your average ground hog, octopus, or other member of the animal kingdom, I’ll stick to my own interpretation.

The Republicans are eventually going to own the mess they’ve made.  The DACA program was working in September 2017 when the Big Dealer in Chief stuck his foot in it.  Why? I’m going to go with the explanation that it was in support of the rather egregious House version of a Bridge Act introduced on January 12, 2017.  (HR 496 for those keeping score) There is no path to citizenship in the House version, and the bill essentially treats Dreamers as cheap labor, to be exploited by both employers and the federal government in terms of an endless assessment of fees.  It would also cover precious few Dreamers.

In today’s dispatches from delusion-ville, the White House wants an immigration bill that is “good for America.”  I think we can safely assume this means no path to citizenship for young people who’ve known no other country but this one, a “merit-based” immigration plan (which really isn’t similar to Canada’s any more than it’s similar to the Canadian health care system the Republicans were quick to malign), and it eliminates family reconciliation.   A miserable, un-American plan though it may be, I am of the opinion the House “Bridge Act” [text] is what Stephen Miller and the other racists in the West Wing have in mind.  The timing looks a bit suspicious to me, Trump signed the executive order eliminating the DACA program on September 5th, the same day there was a discharge petition in the House — which promptly went nowhere.

And now we do have a major mess.   The Big Dealer in Chief doesn’t have a position on much of anything, much less immigration.  However, that state of affairs doesn’t mean he won’t attach himself to whatever buzzwords and banners will help keep his radical base in line.  Thus we can assume he will order another Diet Coke while twittering on about “immigrants and crime” (a truly faulty proposition) or “immigrants versus citizens” (without bothering to notice the connection between immigrants and their contributions to the American economy — the economy benefiting citizens; and, giving us all to understand that the Norwegians (82.3% white) are preferable to those from those **hole places which send us an in-ordinary number of people with advanced degrees.

So, the herd on Capitol Hill has until February 8, 2018 to clean up.  Senate Majority Leader McConnell is now without one of his more important hostages — CHIP beneficiaries, and Senator McCaskill knocked the legs out from under his Military hostages when she offered an measure to pay members of the Armed Forces and Sen. McConnell objected.  What McConnell did secure was the capacity to put House Speaker Ryan into a soup largely of his own concoction.

Speaker Ryan, has a problem — he has to come up with a DACA fix acceptable to the Senate, a solution not currently available in legislative language on his side of the building.  If the House does move toward a compromise bill his Freedom (for us but not anyone else) Caucus will scream to the heavens.  If the House stays put with its current version, the Senate Democrats can shut down the government funding for round two, and this time on more solid ground.  A compromise bill will likely not please either side of the divide, however the House alternative will cement the reputation of Republicans as the Party of Racists.

Thus, the Party which has promulgated the notion that allowing anyone at any time to march down the road to full citizenship is “amnesty,”  is now fettered with a label they’ve sought to avoid since the sainted Ronald Reagan gave his “state’s rights” speech at the Neshoba County Fair on August 3, 1980 giving voice and heft to the Southern Strategy.

Popcorn anyone?

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Filed under anti-immigration, Immigration, Politics, racism