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    Immigration Policy: My Ideas are Not Heartless

    Some columnists have described me as heartless because my immigration policy—denying illegal immigrants entry or deporting them—will send innocent children back to the poverty they are trying to escape. They say my policy of deporting them only puts them back into the immigration merry-go-round and exposes them to great danger as they try again to get back into the United States.

    To those columnists, I say: I am not heartless. Rather, I am heartbroken when I see the faces of children being sent back. I wish we could afford to be the world’s caretakers for all the children abandoned by their parents. But we cannot.  While we must be compassionate and make exceptions where appropriate, we cannot ignore the problem by turning our heads away from what is fair to all legitimate citizens.   That is not a solution.

    We admit more than one million legal immigrants every year. That is more than any other country in the world. These are people who have elected to come here through a process that has worked for decades. The policies of past administrations make a mockery of that process, and are an insult to those who come here legally to pursue their dreams. We welcome them with open arms. My policy will assure that the precious rights so many have legally immigrated to enjoy are preserved.

    Unfortunately, for those who don’t respect the law, we must meet them with a closed door.

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    DACA – Demystifying the Blame Game

    President Trump’s latest Executive Order rescinds (over the next six months) President Obama’s Executive Order known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.  DACA provides protection from the deportation of children brought into this country illegally by their parents.    

    Congress now has six-months to pass legislation to replace DACA before it expires.  The arguments on both sides of the debate are strewn with emotion.  All of that, however, needs to be put aside.  We are simply not a country that deports children who have done nothing wrong and who have contributed to our society and economy as much as anyone born here.  Indeed, many have been more “model citizens” than all too many children who are citizens simply because they were lucky enough to be born within our borders.  Nor, as President Obama said, will deporting any of these children increase jobs or raise wages. 

    There are some facts, however, that media on both sides of the debate have largely ignored.  Those facts put President Trump’s decision into much needed perspective.

    A United States President cannot grant legal citizenship to anyone.  In the face of that reality, President Obama issued his DACA order effectuating a deferral of enforcement of existing laws.  In effect, he told prosecutors to prioritize deportation and focus on illegal aliens with criminal records.  And there were, and still are, more than enough illegal criminal aliens to keep authorities occupied for years.  But the point is that DACA is not a right because a President cannot grant such a right.  It was nothing more than an order from the President that prosecutors were to exercise their discretion and put deportation of DACA registrants on the back burner.

    What media also forgets is that President Obama issued DACA because Congress failed to resolve the issue after repeated tries.  So in frustration, President Obama issued two Executive Orders — DACA and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA).  DAPA protected illegal aliens who parented children born in the United States.   In doing so, President Obama circumvented the failed legislative process. 

    In November 2014, President Obama attempted to expand DACA.  In response, Republican governors from twenty five states sued to enjoin implementation of DAPA and the expansion of DACA.  In February 2015, the federal court in Texas issued a preliminary injunction enjoining implementation of DAPA and blocking the expansion of DACA.  Eventually, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision in a 4-4 vote.  That vote was taken before President Trump’s nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed.

    President Obama’s original DACA order was not at risk in the case brought by the states under a procedural agreement.  Instead, the parties agreed to defer it for the time being and focus only on DAPA.  But the arguments cited in support of the demise of DAPA equally apply to DACA.  The basis for the DAPA injunction was the court’s finding that the states had a high likelihood of prevailing on their argument that Obama’s DAPA order was unconstitutional.  It’s the same legal argument used to enjoin the implementation of President Trump’s Executive Order allegedly targeting Muslim immigrants.  In both instances, the court said the President most probably exceeded his authority under the Constitution.  Near the end of President Obama’s term, the states also agreed to delay further proceedings until the Trump Administration had an opportunity to revisit President Obama’s order.

    Their deferral, however, did not come without a threat.  The states told the Administration that if by September 5, 2017, it failed to rescind the DACA order, the complaint (in the case that successfully enjoined DAPA) would be amended to challenge both the DACA and DAPA.  Many constitutional experts agree that if that were to happen, DACA would most likely fall.  And then we’d be left with nothing unless the judge in Texas decided to craft his own Solomon like solution.  If he chose to do nothing, chaos would ensue and God only knows what would happen.  So if President Trump had not acted, a Texas judge would have decided the fate of thousands of innocent children. 

    Thus, President Trump had a Hobson’s Choice – a choice where any decision is a bad one.  So under the states’ threat, Trump bought six months for Congress to act before the states add DACA to their suit and kids potentially get deported. 

    Others will now file suits, too.  But none of them are likely to reverse the Supreme Court decision affirming the demise of DAPA nor its precedent if applied to DACA.  So the writing is on the wall.

    No one can possibly want to deport a single kid who has DACA documentation.  Not even President Trump.  But President Obama exceeded his authority with DACA and DAPA just as much as President Trump exceeded his when he issued his immigration order targeting Muslims.  We can’t have it both ways. 

    So now Congress must act.  If it fails, President Trump says can reconsider and enter an order extending DACA.  In turn, the states will amend their complaint and DACA will likely fall. 

    It’s a mess with plenty of blame to pass around between two presidents who chose to ignore the Constitution and a Congress that can’t do its job.  And without Congressional action, the final decision may be left to a judge in Texas.

    So the message is simple: Congress, do your job and stop the rhetoric.  Pass legislation supporting DACA and DAPA.  America is fed up with your failed leadership.

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    Confederate Statues: Should They Have Been Taken Down?

    In the past few weeks there has been much debate on statues of Confederate soldiers, most notably of General Robert E. Lee. Should these statues stay, or be taken down?

    History is important to learn and remember—and often, not to repeat. I understand the idea of celebrating and honoring those in our history who stood for our principles—and not to honor those who did not, even when they were good people with bad ideas.

    Robert E. Lee was a great general, and a companionate man. However, he chose to defend the confederacy and slavery. That alone puts him into an entirely different category than someone like Ulysses Grant, who was also once a great general who fought during the late years of the Civil War, and then later became the 18th President of the United States. He was also allegedly a drunk. But, whatever his imperfections may have been, Grant never supported slavery.

    But where do we draw the line of what statues or paintings can and cannot be taken down?  While it may be acceptable to take down statues of Confederate heroes—those who fought for slavery —my question is: Why would we stop there?

    Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren supported the Indian Removal Act of 1830, where the U.S. systematically evicted thousands of Native Americans from their lands, and relocated them elsewhere—denying them their homes and heritage. Many died in the so-called “Trail of Tears.” Jackson and Van Buren supported something that today is viewed by most as reprehensible. Should their statues be torn down? Should Jackson, who was a general in the U.S. Army and annexed Texas, be removed from the $20 bill?

    At the outset of WWII, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the internment of Japanese Americans in the United States.  The forced relocation and incarceration in camps dislocated more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry, more than 60% of whom were U.S. citizens.  Virtually none of them had done anything wrong.  History teaches us that what Roosevelt ordered was a gross violation of civil rights and a cruel indictment of innocent people without any due process.  He essentially trashed the Constitution. However, he guided the country through most of the Great Depression and World War II, and is considered by many as one of the greatest U.S. presidents.  But his behavior towards thousands of innocent people begs the question: should we tear down the Roosevelt Memorial in Washington?

    Regardless of where you fall in this debate, the next question is who should be empowered to make the judgment on what stays up, and what gets torn down?  I suggest that debate belongs in our local town halls and municipalities —they are the ones who will know that is the best for their communities. Instead of making it a federal or statewide issue, let us leave the decisions to the towns that built the statues for their residents.

    In the end, the problem with tearing down statues – Confederate or otherwise – is that it creates a collision between raw emotions and deep, philosophical issues worthy of intelligent debate. The two never mix well and more often than not present the proverbial Hobson’s Choice where the conclusions by both sides do more to feed the controversy and the divisive (and sometimes violent) discourse that follows.

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    Violence Begets Violence: Condemning the Acts in Charlottesville

    In the past, I have iterated on my blog about the right to peaceful assembly, and how violent assembly is an act that is contemptible and condemned in our Constitution.  After the events that took place in Charlottesville—and since then, in other cities around the country—I would like to once again bring this conversation forward.

    From the Bill of Rights, First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    What happened in Charlottesville, including the death of an innocent woman through an extremely violent act, was abominable. Americans must understand that it is their God-given right to a peaceful protest. Once that peace is thrown out the window, they must be severely reprimanded for any violent actions that occur on their behalf, especially if those violent actions include the death of another human’s life.

    You have the right to your voice—use it! And know that when you act violently, your government, local law enforcement, media, friends and family will respect neither you nor your views.  You forfeit that privilege.

    You may not believe that the pen and your voice are mightier than the sword, but history repeatedly shows  they are—and always will be. It worked in 1787 when we ratified a new government. And it works today, when law enforcement and government officials abide by, consult, and argue the meaning of the Constitution.

    Whatever the color of your skin, your gender, your political beliefs, your ideals—respect  what was given to you when you were born in this great country, honored you when you became a citizen, or simply helped you because you hoped to find a better life here, by not sinking low with violence and crime.