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    The 2020 Citizenship Question

    The Trump administration has been pushing a citizenship question on the decennial United States census questionnaire since January of 2018. As immigration tensions rise and the 2020 U.S. census nears, the addition of this question to the document has been hotly debated.

    The Supreme Court and the administration are at a stalemate, with the Court temporarily blocking the movement in June saying the reasons cited were insufficient. It ordered the case back to the lower courts.  The block, however, eliminated the time needed to debate this issue and make a final decision in time for to print the questionnaires. So for practical, not legal, reasons, the opponents won that round.  But what would be the advantage of having such a question added? The public must continue to wonder what would be the negative impact of adding it?

    So last week, Trump ceded the issue. Instead, he pivoted and stated that the missing information will be compiled by other documents via an executive order issued to government agencies (BBC). In other words, yes, the census would be printed without the question, but the battle to obtain the citizenship status of the U.S. population is far from over.

    Adding a query regarding citizenship to the questionnaire is not a new idea. Dating back to the mass from Ireland in the 1820’s to the 1950 census, some variant of a citizenship question was included. Until 1920, the question was only asked of men as their citizenship status was considered an umbrella for their respective wives and children (PEW Research Center).

    So, why are we reconsidering the question now?

    Opponents assert that the question is being used as a scare tactic to fulfill Trump’s campaign promise of cracking down on illegal immigration. However, the American Community Survey already includes a question about the status of a participant’s citizenship. This survey is taken every year with a sample group of over 3.5 million, and neither the information from that survey nor the U.S. census can be used to enforce legal action or disclose the information of participants. Critics also worry that those here illegally would opt out of taking the census all together, eliminating any information on a sizeable portion of those residing in the country (Daytona Beach News-Journal).

    Those in favor of the question argue that the information of those residing in the country illegally can help better inform civil rights action, apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives, and allocation of aid to states.  The illegal immigrant population in certain areas could determine the distribution of over $675 billion in federal spending (Associated Press).

    There are strong opinions on either side of the issue, along with the questions of seizing highly classified government records to discern an individual’s citizenship.

    As this debate continues, there appears to be agreement on one issue.  Citizenship matters in critical decisions that need to be made.  This solution is not in partisan politics that has become today’s norm.  Once again, our leaders on both sides of the aisle are failing in their Constitutional duties.

    When will this end?

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    Do We Have a National Emergency?

    President Donald Trump anticipated and has certainly received flack after his declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border. (Denver Post)

    Border security is not a new issue. It is something every administrations since Reagan has wrestled with.

    In Trump’s case, one of his most publicized campaign promises — the border wall — has not come to pass.  With the 2020 elections looming on the horizon, delivering on his border wall promise is much more substantial than simply the dollars, materials and labor required to build it.  It’s undeniable that partisan politics — on both of the aisle — infect the debate. But it is also clear that those same partisan politicians have failed to find a solution to an undeniable problem — emergency or not.

    Regardless, there are some basic facts about these types of situations we do know.

    The National Emergency Act, enacted in 1976, addresses any situation that threatens the country and calls for immediate action (US News) emergency orders is the national emergency declared in 2001 as a response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.  On that order alone, tens of thousands of soldiers were sent to battle and billions was spent. Past national emergencies range anywhere from disarming weapons of mass destruction to trade embargos on other countries, including the reallocation of previously approved Congressional budget allocations.

    In fact, the Constitution gives a standing president very broad discretion to override current policy in response to an emergency. These provisions include seizing property, assigning military forces abroad, instituting martial law, restricting travel, and generally controlling much of the lives of United States citizens.(Boston 25 News) Such powers, however, have rarely been exercised.

    While the President has the authority, the specific reason(s) for declaring a state of emergency must be publicly stated, and when this happens Congress can nullify it by way of a joint resolution. Like any other law, this would require a simple majority vote in the House and Senate to pass.  (Cornell Law School)

    While there are a wide variety of reasons past presidents have enacted this type of executive order, this will probably be the first time one is formally challenged by the Legislature.  Since it’s unlikly to withstand a veto even if the House and Senate pass a resolution against it, the ultimate resolution will be left to the courts. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/98-505.pdf

    Therein lies a big risk for both parties. If this case gets to the Supreme Court, its word will be final should it rule on Constitutional grounds. Nine unelected jurists will define the future of the President to issue emergency executive orders. All because our elected representatives could not come to a full compromise. Nor is the continuing blame game productive. The reality is simple. Two of the three branches of our government were unable to do their job in a bipartisan manner. Now the third unelected branch will make a decision that could have a profound impact on a President’s powers regardless of his or her political party.

    Is that what’s in our best interests?

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    As Politicians Claim Victory, America Becomes the Victim

    After the longest government shutdown in history, Congress and the White House have three weeks to make a deal on immigration reform or the country faces the choice of another shutdown or a presidential proclamation that we have a national emergency that requires his unilateral action to build physical barriers on our southern border.  Three weeks to settle arguments that have failed resolution for over fifteen years.  Only a Las Vegas handicapper is capable of putting odds on any bet that the two sides will come to an agreement.  Even with odds, that is not a bet I am likely to make.

    We do have an emergency but it is not just about our southern border or immigration.  While that is certainly a crisis, the true emergency facing our nation is a failure of leadership on both sides of the aisle.  In response to President Trump’s offer this past weekend that could be a start to compromise, Nancy Pelosi immediately criticized it as “not enough” and continued her rhetoric that a wall is immortal.  Senator Chuck Schumer echoed similar sentiments.  On the right, pundits like Ann Coulter accused President Trump of caving and others said he “lost” the fight.  Everyone took sides, ignoring the issues for the sake of partisan politics.

    So once again, we watch the spectacle to which our politicians seem addicted.  A spectacle that is not about what might or might not be best for Americans, Dreamers, DACA and TPS recipients, and the border agents risking their lives as illegal immigrants continue to flood the country.   Instead, it remains a partisan fight over who wields power in Washington and who will win the White House in 2020.  Neither side appears ready to compromise as each continues to kowtow to the extreme wings of their respective bases.  As the leaders of the two parties continue their mindless bickering, no one can argue against the reality that people are suffering and dying – both Americans and illegal immigrants – throughout our country because of a failed immigration policy.

    Three weeks.  That is how long our Washington politicos have to prove to America that they can lead through reasonable debate and compromise, putting aside partisan politics at this critical time.  Whether that will happen depends on all of them and I will not blame the Democrats or the Republicans if they fail.  I will blame them both and urge anyone I know to vote every one of them out of office, from top to bottom, in 2020.

     

     

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    MS-13: Yes, They Are Animals

    President Donald Trump recently made a statement about the gang MS-13, calling them “animals.” There was, of course, an uproar about it, with people crying foul claiming the President was calling all illegal immigrants “animals.” But that is not what he said.

    In the typical media frenzy against anything Trump, many in the press misrepresented his statement. Indeed, his comment about MS-13 was not about a particular ethnic population. It was about one of the most vicious gangs this country has ever seen who routinely engage in murder, kidnapping, child prostitution, human smuggling, drug trafficking, and racketing.

    MS-13 is a gang that originated in Los Angeles. While most members are of Central American origin, principally El Salvador, others are from any number of countries and comprised of almost a hundred thousand members it is a worldwide scourge. Thousands of those members are in the United States. Many are illegal immigrants; some are not. Many have been deported time and time again after committing terrible crimes.

    And kudos to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who added, “Frankly, I think that the term ‘animal’ doesn’t go far enough and I think that the President should continue to use his platform and everything he can do under the law to stop these types of horrible, horrible, disgusting people.”

    Let’s not sway from what the President is trying to do here – ridding this country of gang members, illegal immigrants, or otherwise. President Trump does not, and never has, suggested deporting immigrants who come here legally, pay taxes, and contribute to the community.

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    DACA: Challenging Legislation & Why It Should Pass

    In September 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order to phase out DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) over the next six months. DACA provided protection from the deportation of children brought into this country illegally by their parents – it has been stated that about 800,000 youth will be affected by the Executive Order. The end of those six months is near, with the termination of DACA on March 5th, 2018 if legislation does not pass.

    Congress must act now to pass a law to replace DACA before it expires. But DACA was not included in the spending bill that led to our government’s shut down and many are protesting for a plan for these affected families.

    No one can possibly want to deport a single kid who has DACA documentation—not even President Trump. But President Trump had a Hobson’s Choice.

    President Obama attempted to expand DACA but in response governors from 25 states sued. In February 2015, the federal court in Texas issued a preliminary injunction enjoining implementation of DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) and blocking the expansion of DACA. Eventually, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision in a 4-4 vote (before the nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed).

    The states told the Administration that if by September 2017 it failed to rescind the DACA order, the complaint 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. Under that threat, President Trump bought six months for Congress to act before the states add DACA to their suit and kids are potentially deported. If President Trump had not acted, a Texas judge would have decided the fate of hundreds of thousands of children.

    In my blog post “DACA: Demystifying the Blame Game” I go more into the topic. Read here for insight into the subject.

    Trump has now offered Congress special treatment and a path to citizenship to more than 1.5 million undocumented immigrants, nearly twice as many as the Democrats purportedly wanted to protect. But now their leadership has rejected that offer as well. Shame on them. 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 model citizens.

    If that means giving Trump funding for his wall, that’s a small price to pay for the freedom our country offers these innocent children. If it means ending the visa program and curtailing chain immigration, that’s well worth saving the future for these children. Congress needs to stop its rhetoric and get things done before time runs out: Legislation must be passed supporting DACA and DAPA.

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    Sanctuary Cities: Are They Really Safe?

    Our country has always been one to welcome immigrants looking for a new start on their lives. Indeed, we are a country of immigrants. And while we should never remove the welcome mat, we cannot ignore the needs of those who already occupy our great country and who work hard every day to make their homes decent places to live and proud places to grow.  That means we must face the situation of sanctuary cities openly and honestly.  It’s clearly a growing  problem in the United States that is foolishly splitting on partisan lines to the detriment of the real issues at hand.

    Sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants have been a rising conversation this past year especially with the election of Phil Murphy for New Jersey Governor, whose goal is for New Jersey to become a sanctuary state. The Democrats’ argument is that sanctuary cities are safer because they encourage good relationships between illegal immigrants and law enforcement.

    However, it is without debate that sanctuary cities harbor criminals and create a dangerous environment for not only other illegal immigrants who may not be violent, but a dangerous environment for Americans.  We should not forget Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez.  He was deported from the United States five times yet came back and murdered Katie Steinle in San Francisco, a sanctuary city. According to Neighborhood Scout, that San Francisco has one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation.

    In New Jersey,  Newark and East Orange are already sanctuary cities.  And both have some of the highest violent crime rates in the nation according to Neighborhood Scout. Camden is another example of a sanctuary city – and yet it constantly tops lists of worst cities in the United States to live due to its high crime and homicide rates (according to Wikipedia, its violent crime rate is 6.6 times higher than the national average).

    We should have open doors but only for the non-violent who want a better life in our country.  Unfortunately, many criminals have used the weak immigration laws and enforcement to infect our communities.  So we need balance and a reasoned approach.  That means politicians on both sides of the aisle must put down their partisan spears and offer olive branches to one another.  If they need a word for that, it’s “leadership.”

    Sources:

    • Neighborhoodscout.com
    • Procon.org
    • Wikipedia.org
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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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    Why We Need to Push for the Wall

    The White House’s push for “The Wall” has appeared to slow down as the funding for the project seems to have come to a standstill—and potentially almost led to a government shutdown. But while Democrats are applauding this fact, the Republicans should not give up on finding a way to border security between our country and Central America that will be strong and effective.

    The immigration and “The Wall” debate is not about a particular ethnic population. Indeed, there are millions of people in this country who are legal immigrants from Latin America and elsewhere. They pay taxes, contribute to their communities, and earned their legal right to be here. The problem with immigration is about the thousands of people illegally crossing our borders every year who want a free ride and handouts.

    If the government had unlimited resources and money, we could welcome all who are prepared to obey our laws. But we don’t have those kind of resources. Denying entry or deporting illegal aliens is neither destructive nor anti-American; it simply assures that the precious rights of those born here, and the rights of those who have legally immigrated, are preserved.

    So what has been done to address the problem? Unfortunately, the future of a secure border has been discarded in the spirit of compromise and approved budgets. A border barrier would certainly enhance our overall homeland security, ebb the cost of lost tax revenue, and reduce the strain on government resources and social welfare. Instead, the latest proposal includes substantial funding for security but not a wall. So we’ll waste more money on what has not stemmed the tide of illegal immigration for decades.

    For me, it’s pretty simple—fences work. Build them. Then deal with those who can still manage to scale them by deporting them when they do.

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    Immigration — America’s Boiling Melting Pot

    Our country has always been one to welcome immigrants looking for a new start on their lives. Indeed, we are a country of immigrants. And while we cannot remove the welcome mat, we cannot ignore the needs of those who already occupy our great country and who work hard every day to make their homes decent places to live and proud places to grow.  We do not have endless jobs to offer or housing to give. Our hospitals and schools can only hold so many. Our streets are too crowded with the homeless, and all too many disenchanted immigrants are turning to crime just to survive. Let us first help those who are here. We must put a stop to the mindless, open door to our country.  Secretary Clinton would like to make it even wider. Let’s first be sure we can feed and care for those we’ve let in and identify those we want to throw out.  Let’s build that wall Congress authorized that both the Bush and Obama Administraitons have failed to complete.  Let’s stop hurting Americans who are working and living here, and instead make their lives fulfilling and their loved ones safe.  Let’s also hope that when President Obama meets with Texas Governor Rick Perry today that some real progress can be made and the never ending rhetoric end.

     

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