President signs orders telling officials to enforce immigration laws

Why is it necessary for a president to issue an executive order telling public officials to enforce the laws passed by Congress?

That’s apparently what it has come to. According to The Wall Street Journal, Trump has signed orders that mean almost everybody living in the U.S. illegally is subject to deportation and new arrivals will no longer be subject to the current catch and release practice.

“The Department no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” WSJ quotes an enforcement memo as saying. “Department personnel have full authority to arrest or apprehend an alien whom an immigration officer has probable cause to believe is in violation of the immigration laws.”

The New York Times reports that the orders end the Obama administration policy that required Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to immediately deport only those newly arriving illegal immigrants who were apprehended within 100 miles of the border and had been in the country no more than 14 days. “Now it will include those who have been in the country for up to two years, and located anywhere in the nation,” NYT relates.

The orders also tell the federal immigration agencies to revive a program that used local police to help with immigration enforcement, a program called 287g that was scaled down under Obama, NYT says.

According to Channel 3, the 287g program under Sheriff Doug Gillespie only turned over to immigration those suspects that had an outstanding warrant or an immigration detainer.

But it would be up to current Sheriff Joe Lombardo to determine the level of cooperation.

Border wall in Nogales, Ariz. (Reuters pix via WSJ)

Border wall in Nogales, Ariz. (Reuters pix via WSJ)

Newspaper column: New senator wants to shred First Amendment

Nevada’s newly elected U.S. senator, Catherine Cortez Masto, has already taken up the cudgel against the First Amendment previously wielded by her predecessor, Harry Reid.

She put out a press release recently announcing that she has joined with other congressional Democrats to reintroduce a constitutional amendment that would overturn Supreme Court rulings that have held that it is a violation of the First Amendment to restrict the amount of money corporations, nonprofits, unions and other groups may spend on political campaigns and when they may spend it.

In its current incarnation it is being called the Democracy for All Amendment. In previous years it bore the unwieldy acronym DISCLOSE Act — Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections. Reid frequently took to the floor of the Senate to pound the table for the amendment and disparage the Koch brothers’ political spending as the embodiment of evil.

“The U.S. Constitution puts democratic power in the hands of the American people — not corporations or private companies,” the press release quotes Cortez Masto as saying“Since the Citizens United decision, big corporations have gained unprecedented influence over elections and our country’s political process. I am proud to be a cosponsor of this legislation; it’s critical that we end unlimited corporate contributions if we are going to have a democratic process and government that will truly work for all Americans.”

In the 2010 Citizens United decision, a 5-4 Supreme Court struck down the part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that prohibited organizations such as Citizens United, a political action committee, from expending funds for electioneering immediately prior to an election. In this case the Federal Election Commission blocked the 2008 broadcast of “Hillary: The Movie,” which was critical of Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

During the arguments in the case, the Justice Department attorney defending the law admitted the law also would censor books critical of candidates, though newspapers and other media, most owned by large corporations, were exempted from the law and may criticize, editorialize and endorse or oppose candidates freely. Some corporations are more equal than others.

Cortez Masto’s statement concluded, “The Democracy for All Amendment returns the right to regulate elections to the people by clarifying that Congress and the states can set reasonable regulations on campaign finance and distinguish between individuals and corporations in the law.”

The problem is that free speech is not free if the incumbent government satrapy can curtail its dissemination.

Justice Anthony Kennedy explained this in his majority opinion in Citizens United v. FEC: “As a ‘restriction on the amount of money a person or group can spend on political communication during a campaign,’ that statute ‘necessarily reduces the quantity of expression by restricting the number of issues discussed, the depth of their exploration, and the size of the audience reached.’ … Were the Court to uphold these restrictions, the Government could repress speech by silencing certain voices at any of the various points in the speech process. (Government could repress speech by ‘attacking all levels of the production and dissemination of ideas,’ for ‘effective public communication requires the speaker to make use of the services of others’).”

The fact the expenditure is coming from a group instead of an individual does not negate the First Amendment guarantee of the “freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely,” because it “also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government.”

An assembly is not just a crowd of people on the street, it is also an organization.

Reid in one of his many diatribes on the subject said: “But the flood of special interest money into our American democracy is one of the greatest threats our system of government has ever faced. Let’s keep our elections from becoming speculative ventures for the wealthy and put a stop to the hostile takeover of our democratic system by a couple of billionaire oil barons. It is time that we revive our constituents’ faith in the electoral system, and let them know that their voices are being heard.”

This implies the voters are too stupid to hear an open and free-wheeling debate and not be influenced by the volume or frequency of the message.

Lest we forget, in the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump was outspent by Hillary Clinton by two-to-one — $600 million to $1.2 billion.

Censorship is unAmerican and unnecessary. Cortez Masto should abandon this assault on free speech.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

If the president had legitimate reasons for ban, ulterior motives don’t matter

Judges shouldn’t try to be mind readers.

One of the arguments used by Washington state attorneys to convince a Seattle federal judge to issue a temporary restraining order blocking Trump’s ban on travel from certain countries was that the order discriminated against certain religions, and this was proven by statements he made during the campaign.

Robert and Trump (ABC)

Robert and Trump (ABC)

As Bryon York points out, Washington state attorneys argued “Trump’s order violates the First Amendment because it is ‘intended to disfavor Islam and favor Christianity,’ and violates the Fifth Amendment because it is ‘motivated by animus and a desire to harm a particular group …'”

The argument appears to be that he has ulterior motives. It makes no difference whether he has ulterior motives, if his stated rationale is legitimate under the law. Trump said his reason was to protect the country from potential terrorists, because these visitors, immigrants and refugees have not and probably cannot be vetted properly.

The judge may have had ulterior motives of his own and placed his own assessment of the facts above those of the president.

Judge James Robart asked an attorney defending the Trump ban: “How many arrests have there been of foreign nationals for those seven countries since 9/11?”

The attorney did not know.

“Let me tell you,” replied Robart. “The answer to that is none, as best I can tell. So, I mean, you’re here arguing on behalf of someone that says: We have to protect the United States from these individuals coming from these countries, and there’s no support for that.”

To which York replies, “Perhaps Robart has been briefed by the intelligence community on conditions in Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and the rest. Perhaps Robart has received the President’s Daily Brief. Perhaps not. In any event, the Justice Department argued — reasonably but not successfully — that it is the president, and not a U.S. District Court judge in the Western District of Washington State, who has the knowledge and the authority to make such decisions.”

Though the law prohibits “discrimination in the issuance of immigrant visas on the basis of race, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence,” not all of those coming to this country are immigrants. Many are coming to visit or work.

 

York also quoted the fed attorney as saying, “Washington State’s interpretation … would lead to the untenable result that the United States could not suspend entry of nationals of a country with which the United States is at war, which would raise a serious constitutional question about Congress’s ability to restrict the President’s Article II authority to ensure the nation’s security.”

The judge’s ruling that residents of Washington and the state itself would suffer irreparable harm if the foreign citizen entry ban were not lifted was vague to point of base speculation. It could as easily have been argued that the citizens and state would benefit by not being burdened with additional mouths to feed.

Just why does a Seattle judge’s order blocking the ban carry more weight than that of a Boston judge who upheld the ban?

York concludes the law appears to be on Trump’s side but that does not mean the courts will abide by the law.

 

Why judge blocked Trump travel ban

Immigrants arrive at Boston airport. (Reuters photo via WSJ)

Immigrants arrive at Boston airport. (Reuters photo via WSJ)

Now, we’ve never been big fans of executive orders and question whether they comport with the law and the leeway any given law grants the executive branch.

But Trump’s order suspending immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for at least 90 days in an effort to block potential terrorists and to give time for vetting sounds much like what Obama did without prompting legal challenges. Without consulting Congress Obama called for allowing 110,000 Syrian refugees into the county. Trump cut that in half.

But a Seattle judge, in his seven-page ruling, granted a temporary restraining order sought by the state of Washington.

 

His rationale seems a bit dubious. How is the state irreparably harmed by a 90-day cessation of immigrants?

This is what he wrote:

robart1

robart2

Sounds more like a savings and potential benefit to taxpayers and the state than an irreparable harm. It might well be the right decision under the law and the Constitution, but is it for the right reason?

 

 

So much for free speech on campus — how ironic

Then

Then

That was then, this is now.

In the 1960s the Berkeley campus of the University of California was home to the so-called Free Speech Movement, which was closely associated with various liberal causes at the time and agitated for political activity on campus.

Last night violent protesters throwing rocks and metal barricades and setting fires caused the school administration to cancel a speech by arch-rightwing rabble rouser Milo Yiannopoulos, a Breitbart editor.

There were an estimated 1,500 peaceful protesters outside where the speech was scheduled to take place but nearing the time of the speech they were joined by 150 masked people.

“This was a group of agitators who were masked up, throwing rocks, commercial grade fireworks and Molotov cocktails at officers,” UC Berkeley Police Chief Margo Bennet told The Associated Press, but there were no reports of arrests or serious injuries.

Apparently on California campuses free speech is allowed only for fellow liberals, because Yiannopoulos speeches were also canceled at UC Davis and UCLA.

President Trump tweeted: “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) sent out a press release saying, “FIRE condemns both violence and attempts to silence protected expression in the strongest terms. We also urge that decisions affecting long-term policy be made only after all the facts are gathered and with appropriate opportunity for reasoned discussion.”

It duly noted that the cancellation was for safety reasons and Berkeley as an institution made no effort to silence Yiannopoulos.

If free speech belongs only to those with whom one agrees, it is hardly free. The hooligans should be ashamed of themselves, but that is not likely.

FIRE concluded:

The events at Berkeley should alarm citizens from across the political spectrum who hold dear the liberal values enshrined in the First Amendment. FIRE will continue to insist that the proper answer to speech you hate is more speech, and we stand with the vast majority of Americans who live according to this principle every day.

Now

Now

The definition of fascism:

a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

Look up the definition of irony.

Where have I heard that before?

“They will attack you, they will slander you, they will seek to destroy your career and your family, they will seek to destroy everything about you, including your reputation. They will lie, lie, lie, and then again they will do worse than that, they will do whatever is necessary. The Clintons are criminals, remember that. They’re criminals.” — Donald Trump back in October

“I am disgraced, impeach’d and baffled here,
“Pierced to the soul with slander’s venom’d spear,
“The which no balm can cure but his heart-blood
“Which breathed this poison.” — Richard II

Oh, the drama of it all continues apace. All the world’s a stage, but some are better actors than others. Will it come to blows?

One headline says Democrats should declare war on Trump and another says Trump has declared war on the media.

This may bring about a battle royal.

Legal battle over Trump refugee ban will be one to watch

That was quick.

With a stroke of his pen Obama agreed to allow 85,000 Syrian refugees into this country. With a stroke of his pen Trump cut that number to zero. Of course, more than 12,000 are probably already here.

Today refugees from the countries singled out by Trump in his executive order are already being held at airports on arrival from overseas and lawsuits have been filed.

Trump signs executive order.

Trump signs executive order.

Trump’s order suspends all refugees for 120 days and bars for 90 days the entry of any citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries — Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Iran and Yemen — even if they have valid visas. Trump said he intends to increase the vetting of certain foreigners and screen out potential “radical Islamic terrorists.”

When admissions are allowed to resume the order would “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality” — presumably Christians.

This has lawyers scrambling for precedents to cite to establish religious discrimination and question the constitutionality of the order.

The U.K.-based Guardian already has posted an article exploring the legal arguments that can be made and notes that the Supreme Court ruled Congress can make immigration rules that, if applied to citizens, would be unconstitutional.

In the 1890s, the newspaper relates, the high court upheld a ban on Chinese immigrants. In 1972, the court ruled the president could bar a Marxist from entry, but said the president needed reasons that were “facially legitimate and bona fide.”

This past June the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 and thus let stand a Texas court ruling that blocked an Obama executive order granting millions of illegal immigrants amnesty from deportation and access to work permits.

The order was called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and would have allowed illegal immigrants if they had been in the country at least five years and had not committed felonies or repeated misdemeanors. It also would have expanded his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Trump at the time called Obama’s order “one of the most unconstitutional actions ever undertaken by a president.”

Now, we will see how his executive orders fare in court.