Newspaper column: Trump immigration plan merits consideration

Trump in Rose Garden introduces immigration revamp plan.

Minutes after President Trump announced in the Rose Garden this past week a plan to revise the priorities under which immigrants are accepted into the United States, Democrats and media outlets were calling his proposal dead on arrival, having no chance of being approved by Congress.

More’s the pity, Trump’s plan, though short on detail, outlines a path that would boost the economy and in the president’s words “establishes a new legal immigration system that protects American wages, promotes American values, and attracts the best and brightest from all around the world.”

Trump’s proposal would leave unchanged the number of people allowed to legally immigrate to this country — 1.1 million a year — but would drastically alter the criteria for entry. He said fully 66 percent of immigrants are added solely because they have a relative in the U.S. Apparently just about any shirttail relative qualifies. Trump would limit relatives to spouses and children.

The president then noted that only 12 percent of legal immigrants are selected based on skill or merit, unlike Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which use merit as the chief criteria for 60 to 75 percent of their legal immigrants.

“The biggest change we make is to increase the proportion of highly skilled immigration from 12 percent to 57 percent, and we’d like to even see if we can go higher,” Trump said, being interrupted by applause. “This will bring us in line with other countries and make us globally competitive.”

Trump said that brilliant foreign graduates of our finest colleges every year are forced to return to their home countries because they have no relatives here to sponsor them. He said we should want exceptional students and workers to stay, flourish and thrive in America.

“As a result of our broken rules, the annual green card flow is mostly low-wage and low-skilled,” Trump said. “Newcomers compete for jobs against the most vulnerable Americans and put pressure on our social safety net and generous welfare programs.”

Should we be inviting people to come here who will be a drain on our economy or who will be a boost?

Trump’s answer to that question, “America’s immigration system should bring in people who will expand opportunity for striving, low-income Americans, not to compete with those low-income Americans.”

His plan, reportedly spearheaded by Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, would create a points-based selection system. Points would be awarded for being a younger worker who could contribute years of revenue for our social safety net. Points would be awarded for having an existing job offer, having a valuable skill, an advanced education and having a plan to create jobs. Also, priority would be given to higher-wage workers who would be self-sufficient.

“Finally, to promote integration, assimilation, and national unity, future immigrants will be required to learn English and to pass a civics exam prior to admission,” Trump insisted.

As for the current problem with illegal immigration and smuggling of contraband, Trump proposes investing in technology that would scan 100 percent of traffic crossing our borders and continue building miles of barriers along the border, saying 400 miles of this barrier should be completed by the end of next year.

The president, again without addressing specifics, called for changing our current law, which provides incentives for smuggling women and children, noting that 65 percent of all border-crossers this year were either minors or adults traveling with minors. He also called for quickly reuniting unaccompanied children with their families in their home countries.

“We must also restore the integrity of our broken asylum system,” Trump stated. “Our nation has a proud history of affording protection to those fleeing government persecutions. Unfortunately, legitimate asylum seekers are being displaced by those lodging frivolous claims — these are frivolous claims — to gain admission into our country.”

He said asylum abuse strains our public school systems, hospitals and shelters, draining funds that should go to helping Americans in poverty, the elderly and at-risk children.

The president’s critics were quick to fault him for not addressing the millions who are already here illegally, as well as those who were brought here illegally as children, the so-called Dreamers. That is easy enough to address. Let them apply for legal entry under the new point-based system.

Trump’s proposition merits serious consideration, not partisan dismissiveness.

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.

County contemplates spending tax money for this purpose?

No irony here. No, sir.

During Clark County Commission discussion Monday, according to the morning newspaper, commissioners debated just how and how much tax money to spend to help people facing deportation obtain legal representation.

At one point, the director of the UNLV Immigration Clinic told the commissioners that the clinic’s largest program represents unaccompanied children from Central America.

To which, Commissioner Tick Segerblom sympathetically commented, “We know historically that if you have an attorney in that process, you probably have a 10-times-better chance of not being deported.”

Hmmmm.

Keeping unaccompanied children in the U.S.? Isn’t that, you know, separating them from their parents.

Tick Segerblom (R-J pix)

 

 

Immigration: Court says Trump can’t do what Carter and Reagan did

A difference without a distinction?

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to reinstate President Trump’s executive order restricting immigration from six majority Muslim nations.

“In suspending the entry of more than 180 million nationals from six countries, suspending the entry of all refugees, and reducing the cap on the admission of refugees from 110,000 to 50,000 for the 2017 fiscal year, the President did not meet the essential precondition to exercising his delegated authority: The President must make a sufficient finding that the entry of these classes of people would be ‘detrimental to the interests of the United States,’” the three-judge panel wrote.

The also stated that the order “runs afoul of other provisions of the INA (Immigration and Naturalization Act) that prohibit nationality-based discrimination and require the President to follow a specific process when setting the annual cap on the admission of refugees.”

But about halfway through the 86-page ruling the judges seemed to condense the nationality discrimination engaged in by Presidents Carter and Reagan (cites deleted):

“In two instances, former Presidents have distinguished classes of aliens on the basis of nationality. But these distinctions were made not because of a particular concern that entry of the individuals themselves would be detrimental, but rather, as retaliatory diplomatic measures responsive to government conduct directed at the United States. For example, President Carter’s proclamation barring the future entry of Iranians occurred during the exigent circumstance of the Iranian hostage crisis. This was one of many sanctions imposed to increase political pressure on the Iranian government to ensure the safe return of American hostages. … President Reagan’s suspension of entry of certain Cuban nationals as immigrants came as a response to the Cuban government’s own suspension of “all types of procedures regarding the execution” of an immigration agreement between the United States and Cuba, which had “disrupt[ed] normal migration procedures between the two countries.”

Then in head scratching turn the judges declared: “Indeed, the President recently confirmed his assessment that it is the ‘countries’ that are inherently dangerous, rather than the 180 million individual nationals of those countries who are barred from entry under the President’s ‘travel ban,’” noting a tweet in which Trump stated: “That’s right, we need a TRAVEL BAN for certain DANGEROUS countries, not some politically correct term that won’t help us protect our people!”

In fact, the order states that Trump’s executive order explains:

Each of these countries is a state sponsor of terrorism, has been significantly compromised by terrorist organizations, or contains active conflict zones. Any of these circumstances diminishes the foreign government’s willingness or ability to share or validate important information about individuals seeking to travel to the United States.

So, Carter and Reagan can bar immigration from Iran and Cuba, based on what the government did nor did not do, but Trump can’t do the same with the six rouge countries identified in his order, which explains specifically that those countries can’t or won’t help vet travelers?

Sounds like a distinction without a difference. In fact, Trump offered specific rationale for his actions, which amounted to “retaliatory diplomatic measures responsive to government conduct directed at the United States.”

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. — F. Scott Fitzgerald

Protesters opposed Trump travel ban. (LATimes pix)

Judge blocking Trump immigration order can read minds

That federal judge in Hawaii who issued a temporary restraining order blocking President Trump’s latest executive order on immigration from six Middle Eastern countries can read minds and knows Trump is a liar. He is not temporarily barring immigrants from those countries until proper vetting can take place because they might be terrorists. No, he is banning Muslims and that is religious discrimination and contrary the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment.

Judge Derrick Watson writes:

The Government appropriately cautions that, in determining purpose, courts should not look into the “veiled psyche” and “secret motives” of government decisionmakers and may not undertake a “judicial psychoanalysis of a drafter’s heart of hearts.” … The Government need not fear. The remarkable facts at issue here require no such impermissible inquiry. For instance, there is nothing “veiled” about this press release: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.[]”… Nor is there anything “secret” about the Executive’s motive specific to the issuance of the Executive Order …” (TRO on travel ban)

The judge then quotes Rudolph Giuliani as saying on television that Trump called him and said he wanted a “Muslim” ban and wanted him to help find a way do it legally.

Never mind that Trump and Giuliani may have actually found a way to protect Americans from potential terrorists by avoiding any religious test, it is the ulterior motive that counts and trumps anything else.

Never mind that Giuliani later said he and others focused on “instead of religion, danger. The areas of the world that create danger for us, which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible …” and “not based on religion. It’s based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.”

It was what was in Trump’s heart that counts. Remarks from the campaign trail also were quoted in the ruling.

Never mind that the Establishment Clause was meant to protect Americans from religious discrimination and not everyone in the world, especially where they have a propensity to behead those not of their own religion. Never the fact the immigration order does not affect the countries in which 90 percent of Muslims actually live.

Trump signs new executive order on immigration.

 

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?

 

 

Court leaves in place ruling blocking immigration executive orders

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to rehear the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision over turning Obama’s executive fiats granting de facto permanent residency to about 5 million illegal immigrants.

After Justice Antonin Scalia died earlier this year, the court split 4-4 in June on the case of U.S. vs. Texas, letting stand the lower court’s overturning of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program (DAPA), which let the parents of children born in the U.S. remain, and an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which lets illegals brought to this country as children remain legally.

But of course it is a decision written in smoke, since the administration will do nothing about deporting a single one of those millions.

Nevada was one of the states that joined Texas in fighting the immigration executive orders that ignored Congress’ refusal to act on similar proposals.

In his press release announcing the Nevada’s joining the list of plaintiffs, Attorney General Adam Laxalt stated: “Our immigration system is broken and clearly needs to be fixed. But just as clearly, the solution is not for the president to act unilaterally disregarding the U.S. Constitution and laws. The solution must be a permanent, legal result that includes, not ignores, the other branches of government and their constitutional roles. Anything less is a false hope undermining the rule of law that injures millions of people in America, including many in Nevada.”