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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Sunday Cartoon Blogging – October 13, 2019

Trump suffered another legal setback in the federal courts on Friday over his plan to declare refugees and poor immigrants as “public charges”. The plan was to justify refusing them public services like heath care, and use that as a basis for deporting them.

“Judge George B. Daniels, of the US District Court in Manhattan, ordered preliminary injunctions Friday afternoon in two related cases against the administration’s new “public charge” rule that could have denied legal permanent residency and other forms of legal status to many immigrants in the country who are deemed likely to use public assistance.”

Daniels wrote that he found cause to grant the motion because the plaintiffs had sufficiently demonstrated that they would suffer irreparable harm if the rule went into effect:

“Overnight, the Rule will expose individuals to economic insecurity, health instability, denial of their path to citizenship, and potential deportation….It is a rule that will punish individuals for their receipt of benefits provided by our government, and discourages them from lawfully receiving available assistance intended to aid them in becoming contributing members of our society…”

Separately, the fourth Homeland Security Director resigned on Saturday. The entire DHS needs to be rethought and reformed from the ground up. On to cartoons.

This was the DHS’s “public charge” argument:

How did Rudy fall so far?

Trump’s brain trust circles the wagons:

Both sides try using platitudes to help make decisions:

His strategery rarely works out:

Another of this week’s best decisions was facilitated by Erdogan:

 

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Monday Wake Up Call – Immigration Judges Edition, September 30, 2019

The Daily Escape:

Monsoon season, AZ – September 2019 photo by FHatcher

The immigration crisis has many threads, but one that hasn’t gotten the focus that it needs is the ongoing problem with the immigration courts. From the NYRB: (brackets by Wrongo)

“Trump’s attempts to close possible paths to immigration have meant ramping up activity in [Immigration] court. Some immigration judges operate out of courthouses, others work out of detention centers, and some have been transferred—both in person and virtually—to courts along the border. Over the course of a week in the Rio Grande Valley….It was common to see people be forced to leave the US after hearings lasting minutes.”

According to the AP, the Trump administration has hired nearly 200 new judges and plans to add at least 100 more. Nearly half of currently sitting immigration judges were appointed by Trump, and about half of these new judges had previously been attorneys for ICE.

Immigration judges are employed by the Justice Department, not the judiciary. They make the decisions about who gets to stay in the US, and who has to return to their home countries.

We’ve all heard about the immigration court backlog. It’s becoming so large that the government may have to suspend asylum hearings until it can be brought under control.  The Hill reports about the backlog:

“It was 542,411 cases in January 2017, when President Donald Trump took office, and it increased to 1,007,155 cases by the end of August 2019, with an average wait for a hearing of 696 days. In addition, there are 322,535 pending cases that have not been placed on the active caseload rolls yet. When they are added, the backlog will be more than 1.3 million cases.”

The three largest immigration courts are so under-resourced that hearing dates were being scheduled as far out as August 2023 in New York City, October 2022 in Los Angeles, and April 2022 in San Francisco.

One result is that judges have been taking a harder line under Trump than in the Obama administration, denying 65% of asylum cases during the 2018 fiscal year, compared with 55% two years earlier.

Trump’s transformation of immigration law started under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Now, under William Barr, the DOJ has taken legislation passed over the years and used it to drive large-scale changes to immigrant rights.

Unlike the judges in federal or state courts, immigration judges can be fired or reassigned by the AG, and they face sanctions if they don’t process cases rapidly.

Currently, the AG can override decisions issued by immigration judges once they are appealed to Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). An interim rule, issued by the DOJ that took effect Monday, delegates that responsibility to the EOIR director. The director, who is not confirmed by the Senate, can now decide cases pending before the appeals board.

The new rule has caused an uproar among career employees who said their independence has been usurped by a political appointee. In fact, the NYT reports that the union representing the nation’s immigration judges filed two labor complaints against the Justice Department last week. The National Association of Immigration Judges, representing the 420 judges, filed one of the complaints after the Justice Department moved to decertify the union.

DOJ claims that the judges were management officials and therefore ineligible for collective bargaining, an argument they pursued unsuccessfully in 2000. The judges and the Trump administration have frequently clashed, and the union has for years pushed for independence from the Justice Department altogether.

The simple fact is that as more and more cases are placed on a single judge’s docket, immigrants assigned to that judge are inevitably required to wait longer and longer before an available time slot opens up for their hearing. And the asylum seeker isn’t represented by a lawyer, and the case is usually decided in less than five minutes.

The entire immigration problem needs to be addressed, and Democrats must go further than just talking about the humanitarian crisis at the border. Taking a hard look at the immigration judges’ backlog, and funding at least on a temporary basis, many more can partially alleviate the humanitarian problems.

We have to act to prevent a catastrophic collapse of our immigration court system, a collapse that could force America to stop accepting asylum applications until the backlog can be brought under control.

Wake up America! That just may be what Barr and Trump are angling for.

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Does Calling Them “Internment” or “Concentration” Camps Matter?

The Daily Escape:

Grand Tetons Sunset – June 2019 photo by Shaun Peterson

A protracted discussion started when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) used the term “concentration camps” to describe the places on the US-Mexico border where “illegal migrants” are being held, and where some of them have died.

This got started when AOC was sharing an article from Esquire, which quoted journalist and concentration camp expert Andrea Pitzer:

“There have been concentration camps in France, South Africa, Cuba, the Soviet Union, and— with Japanese internment— the United States. In fact, we are operating such a system right now in response to a very real spike in arrivals at our southern border.”

Immediately, right-wing individuals and organizations lashed out at AOC, not Esquire Magazine, calling her “silly”, and launching a debate about definitions while drawing attention away from the actual story— the conditions under which child refugees are being kept on the US border.

Others defended AOC as technically accurate. They lauded her for drawing attention to conditions in today’s migrant camps. The Department of Homeland Security Inspector General has warned of dangerous overcrowding and unsanitary conditions at processing facilities for migrants at the border. The military has been asked to construct tented camps for thousands of migrants at military bases surrounded by chain link fence and topped by barbed wire. CNN, in discussing AOC’s remarks, reported that:

“The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of concentration camp (which was their top trending term Wednesday) is: a place where large numbers of people (such as prisoners of war, political prisoners, refugees, or the members of an ethnic or religious minority) are detained or confined under armed guard —used especially in reference to camps created by the Nazis in World War II for the internment and persecution of Jews and other prisoners.”

Liz Cheney and others who have denounced Ocasio-Cortez’s word choice claim they are concerned for the “real victims” of history’s abominable acts, those who suffered under the Nazis.

As bad as the Holocaust was, no one should have the exclusive right to use the term “concentration camp”. Could AOC have done better by using “internment camps”? Maybe, but she was going for the shock effect, and we shouldn’t be normalizing what is happening at our Southern border.

Five migrant children have died since December in detention facilities described by politicians, legal advocates and human rights organizations as overcrowded and unsanitary. The “inmates” experience meager food and extreme temperatures. Some in the administration have suggested that they don’t need soap or toothpaste. A Justice Department attorney argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that withholding basic amenities, like soap and toothbrushes, from detained migrants does not violate the government’s responsibility to provide “safe and sanitary” conditions to detained children.

Those who spend time parsing whether conditions in these camps (which are, for civil, not criminal custody) are bad enough to qualify as concentration camps and who berate anyone who dares to describe them accurately, are more concerned with protecting those directing the acts than they seem to be with the acts themselves.

This is another effort by the Right to rebrand something for their propaganda. We’re the country where “Kentucky Fried Chicken” became “KFC” to make us forget that our chicken is fried. Where “torture” was called “enhanced interrogation,” by GW Bush. Where some Congressmen are now calling natural gas “freedom gas”.

Of course Republicans will happily rebrand them “immigrant children internment camps”. They’ll call them anything but “concentration camps”.

The argument about these two words is not an argument about definitions. Ocasio-Cortez and her opponents agree that the term “concentration camp” refers to something so horrible as to be unimaginable. AOC is choosing the term to show that what’s happening is by definition, fundamentally incompatible with our concept of ourselves, and is therefore, unimaginable.

What America needs today are more young people like AOC. We need fewer Bidens, Trumps and Pelosis. America needs our young people to speak up, because the old guard will never take the risk to do what AOC has done.

AOC’s focus is different from our older generations, but you shouldn’t hold that against her. She’s not trying to insult WWII victims, or their legacies.

She’s trying to wake America up to the moral issue on our Southern border.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – June 23, 2019

Iran’s solution to possible war with the US. If this happened, Trump would say he got a love letter from the Ayatollah:

Little-known technology shows Pentagon the best story to use about its reasons for war:

This week, the Trump administration argued in court that detained migrant children do not require basic hygiene products like soap and toothbrushes in order to be held in “safe and sanitary” conditions:

Mitch ain’t willing to discuss reparations:

Reparations are a difficult subject. As the historian Howard Zinn said, “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.” He meant that you either abide the status quo, or you oppose it. You either commit yourself to be the best anti-racist you can be, or you don’t. Whichever you choose, you should be honest in how you frame your choice. Saying that reparations are not worth pursuing, or simply doing nothing about them, is an implicit defense of the policies and systems that have created our present-day racial inequities.

The Supremes held 7-2 that a cross located in a war memorial could be displayed on public property (at a traffic circle). They said that some crosses are merely historic icons. Their decision favors one religion over others, and it seems hostile towards religious minorities. And why won’t Christians act like Christians?

How the Capitalism game actually works:

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – December 16, 2018

A seven-year-old Guatemalan girl died on December 6th in the custody of the US Border Patrol. She and her father were apprehended with a group of 163 migrants near Antelope Wells, NM.

Reportedly, she hadn’t eaten, or consumed water for several days. She began vomiting on a bus that was taking her to a holding facility at Lordsburg NM, a 90-mile trip. She was not breathing when she arrived at Lordsburg, and was resuscitated there by the Border Patrol. She was then helicoptered to a hospital in El Paso, Texas. At the hospital, the girl was revived after going into cardiac arrest, but died less than 24 hours later.

Asked if food and water were given to the child, DHS blamed the father for taking his daughter on the dangerous journey to the US. But, she didn’t die on the 3,000-mile journey. She died in the US and in Border Patrol custody. She died while she was the BP’s responsibility.

The government is responsible for the health and safety of migrants they detain. They have to do better:

Trump has promised either he gets a wall, or we get a shutdown:

Trump ran into a wall he could have avoided:

Finding what you deserve:

White House Christmas carols won’t be much fun this year:

Reality starts to dawn:

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Monday Wake Up Call – July 30, 2018

The Daily Escape:

Steptoe Butte from the Palouse Scenic Byway -2018 photo by Brooke Fitts for the WSJ

Wake up America! The Nation reports that a 6-year old migrant girl, who was separated from her mother at the border was sexually abused while in the “care” of your government: (brackets by Wrongo)

According to immigrant-rights advocates, a 6-year-old girl separated from her mother under the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy was sexually abused while at an Arizona detention facility run by Southwest Key Programs. The child was then made to sign a form acknowledging that she was told to maintain her distance from her alleged abuser, who is an older [male] child being held at the same detention facility.

Let’s start with: What kind of company would make a 6-year old sign a release form? Second, what kind of company thinks a statement signed by a 6-year-old, will protect the company from liability?

It didn’t end there for the child, known by her initials D.L.:

But the nightmare wasn’t over. On June 22, Southwest Key again contacted D.L.’s father and informed him that the same boy initially cited for abuse had hit and fondled D.L. again.

The child, her mother and her father, who was already living in the US, have been reunited, but it wasn’t a happy ending:

According to D.L.’s mother, when the family came together again, the young girl was confused. “I hugged her, I was crying. She didn’t recognize me,” the mother said. “She told me that she thought I was never going to be with her again and that she was going to have to live with another lady. She behaved like she was still in detention. She wouldn’t touch me, hug me, or kiss me”….”She is still…following the rules of the detention center,” said the mother. “She doesn’t let them touch her, she doesn’t touch them. She wakes up at 6, and bathes and eats. She behaves like she is programmed.”

Recall that 30 days ago, one US immigration judge tried to call a halt to what ICE was doing: Bringing one and two-year-old children into the courtroom for proceedings where the children were supposed to represent themselves. That judge refused to move the cases forward.

Trump and his minions are willfully creating a generation of displaced people. People who have been traumatized so badly that they have lost the ability to stay connected to their families, pushed to estrangement by what had happened to them while in custody.

Abject cruelty has to be a dividing line for Americans. We need a new policy for dealing with families at the border. We need a top to bottom reform of ICE. The easiest question for any Independent voter or Democrat to answer is: “Here’s something Trump and the Republicans want. Do you want the same thing?

There’s no excuse for agreeing with a party that celebrates cruelty to children.

It’s your Monday Wake Up. There are 99 days left until the midterm elections. Register friends who aren’t registered. Drive people to the polls on Election Day. To help you wake up, listen to Dave Alvin performing his version of a Tom Russell song, “California Snow”. This is from Alvin’s 1998 album “Black Jack David”. It is a story by a border patrol agent:

Sample Lyric:

I catch the ones I’m able to
And watch the others slip away
I know some by their faces
And I even know some by name
I guess they think that we’re all
Movie stars and millionaires
I guess that they still believe
That dreams come true up here.

But I guess the weather’s warmer down in Mexico
And no one ever tells them ’bout the California snow.

Last winter I found a man and wife
Just about daybreak
Layin’ in a frozen ditch
South of the interstate
I wrapped ’em both in blankets
But she’d already died
The next day we sent him back alone
Across the borderline.

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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We Need a Real Immigration Policy

The Daily Escape:

George Peabody Library, Baltimore MD – via themindcircle

The immigration issue confounds all the developed countries. People who yearn for a better life hit the road (trail), and try to resettle in a better place. That’s ingrained in human nature, and is unlikely to change. The US has its illegal immigration problems, as does Europe. It is hard to reconcile branding the US as the “shining city on the hill” and then wall America off when people are seduced by the image.

In order to plan for our future, we have to look carefully at forecasts of long term population growth in Central and South America. That’s where the pressure by illegal immigration will most likely come. If you would like some professional immigration law help then you may be interested in Frost Law Group, LLC, which can help you with any legal problems you may have.

According to Worldometers, the current population of Central America is 179.5 million, and it is forecasted to reach 231.6 million by 2050. That means it will be growing at an annual rate of less than .5% by then, down from about 1.3% today. The census bureau forecasts that the US population in 2050 will be 388.4 million.

Importantly, the census bureau says that in 2050, the foreign-born Hispanic origin population will be 6.89% of our total population, up from 6.08% in 2016. If they are correct, we are tearing ourselves apart about what will be an increase of Hispanic origin population of about .8%.

For what it’s worth, the foreign-born white population will grow from 7.91% in 2016 to 9.28% in 2050. It’s growing faster and will be larger than the Hispanic foreign-born population.

All the talk that the majority in the country in 2050 will be minorities is true. However, Whites will still be 47.83% of the population, while Hispanics will be substantially smaller at 25.66%.

We already know that Hispanic immigration isn’t driving the Hispanic percentage of the total, so what problem are we trying to solve? Also, arrests of illegal immigrants at the Southern Border are down significantly in the past couple years. From the WaPo:

But, it appears that the political fallout in 2018 could be immense. Trump paints a picture of societal disintegration if we allow illegal immigrants into the country. He says that Democrats want open borders:

What we have is very simple: We want strong borders, and we want no crime. Strong borders, we want no crime. The Democrats want open borders, and they don’t care about crime, and they don’t care about our military. I care about our military. That’s what we want, and that’s what we’re going to get, and we’re going to get it sooner than people think.

His message is that outsiders sap our strength, they’ll take our jobs, and exploit the freedom and openness of America. Trump is playing politics with people’s lives, and that’s both cruel and immoral. There should be no doubt about his playing politics. He said so in a White House meeting last Friday, as reported by the NYT: (emphasis by Wrongo)

…One person close to the president said that he told advisers that separating families at the border was the best deterrent to illegal immigration and that he said that “my people love it.”

Trump is ginning up the same paranoia about ‘the other’ that is prevalent all over Europe. So far, the GOP has allowed this to happen because in the background, they’re making gains in their overall political agenda, and polls show that the Democrat’s 2018 advantage is narrowing.

We need to take a longer view about immigration, both legal and illegal. Congress has to exercise its law-making prerogative over the migrant issue. We need to stop governance by tweet and executive order.

We shouldn’t forget that we are a vast country, with vast resources. We have been defined by migration, wave after wave of it. Despite the current chaos on the Southern Border, we have the resources to process migrants efficiently. We simply need lawmakers with the courage to see the problem for what it is.

Let’s leave the final word to Bobby Cramer:

Long after we’ve forgotten about what jacket Melania Trump wore, where Sara Huckabee Sanders ate dinner, and all the little “oh-look-at-the-kitty” distractions have come and gone, we’re going to be left with the clean-up that comes after a disaster. No matter where those refugees end up, we will still be confronting not only what was done to them in the real sense, but also the cost to our nation in terms of being able to set an example of morality and democracy for the rest of our civilization.

We are blending chaos with callousness. What’s the fix?

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – June 24, 2018

We wake up each day and think: “There’s no way this could get any worse.” And every day, we’re proven wrong. Our reality is now anger and inhumanity. It is in most instances, instigated and promoted by the Trump administration.

What does all that anger and inhumanity say about America today? It says we must change for the better. It also means 63 million Americans are as morally deficient and as complicit as the president they voted for. Nice work.

Melania needs better jackets in her wardrobe:

ICE has cornered the market on huddled masses:

Science has determined how he does it:

Captain Bone Spur’s trade War is not off to a perfect start:

GOP doesn’t resemble its founder anymore:

Republicans prefer certainty for the midterms:

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