Why are there so many undocumented immigrants in the US in the first place? Economic and political crises in Latin America obviously give people an incentive to emigrate. However, as Daniel Connolly writes at PRI, our own restrictive immigration policies have also played a role. As he notes,
Away from the borders, the federal government rarely enforces immigration law. Why? For one, businesses want a reliable, low-cost work force. But for years, immigration has been so politically explosive that Congress hasn’t increased the number of legal visas.
The solution: tolerate illegal immigration. Both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations have quietly permitted the continued presence of people — particularly Mexican immigrants — who managed to enter illegally or overstay visas.
“If there is one constant in US border policy, it is hypocrisy,” Princeton University scholar Douglas Massey and colleagues wrote in their 2002 book about Mexican immigration, Beyond Smoke and Mirrors. “Throughout the twentieth century the United States has arranged to import Mexican workers while pretending not to do so.”
Prior to Trump’s increased law enforcement, immigrants who were not stopped near the border on arrival and who did not commit any violent crimes were highly unlikely to get deported. The risk of coming to work in the US without documents looks more reasonable in this light.
The Trump administration has ordered Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to step up deportations of all undocumented immigrants, even those not suspected of any violent or drug-related crime. One of the first casualties was a woman in El Paso, Texas, who was deported when she went to court to ask for a restraining order against an abusive ex-boyfriend. It seems likely that the ex-boyfriend tipped ICE off to the location of her court hearing, according to the Washington Post. It’s the perfect example of how this disastrous policy promises to uproot millions of people without doing a single thing to make our country safer.
By now you’ve surely seen a theme in much of what’s been shared here: calling your representatives and trying to meet them in person is more effective than signing online petitions. However, this doesn’t mean that petitions are useless! At the Monkey Cage, Daniel Carpenter notes that they have several benefits for both the signers and organizers of the petition. Most notably, petitions help activist groups create lists of potential members — and many people get their start in activism simply by putting their name on a petition. So don’t feel badly about signing the next petition that comes through your inbox.
If you’d like to take a deep dive into Trump’s inner circle beyond Bannon and Sessions, check out Politico’s Playbook Power List. It provides a useful guide to 30 key players in DC — both individuals and organizations — who have the power to influence Trump’s presidency.
There’s a lot to dislike about Jeff Sessions, the new Attorney General who was once deemed too racist to be a federal judge. Alongside the probability that he’ll use the Justice Department to undermine rather than support civil liberties, it’s important to note that he’s one of Trump’s key policy advisors. He and his staff played key roles in drafting many of Trump’s executive orders during his first weeks in office, including the refugee ban. The Washington Post has a good overview of Sessions’ policy influence.
As Charli Carpenter writes at The Duck of Minerva,
In one of last week’s most under-reported stories in the major press, bills were introduced into both the House of Representatives and the US Senate this past week, each designed to clarify the composition of the NSC and Principals Committee, ensure Senate oversight over appointments, and, in the case of HR 804, “To Protect the National Security Council from Political Interference.” As of today, the House bill has 85 co-sponsors…
Neither of these bills is simply about removing Bannon, however. Each aims to close what some observers perceive as a loophole not just for Trump but for future Presidents. Both would codify the role of the Director of National Intelligence and Joint Chiefs of Staff on the NSC. In this Administration that move, coupled with Bannon’s departure, could moderate the behavior of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, whose hard-line views against Islam and unwillingness to rule out torture or the killing of terrorists’ families have been criticized by human rights groups.
Call your Congresspeople today to ask them to support these bills!
Jack Moore at GQ reviewed a recent NYT article on Trump’s first two weeks in office, and caught this remarkable paragraph:
For the moment, Mr. Bannon remains the president’s dominant adviser, despite Mr. Trump’s anger that he was not fully briefed on details of the executive order he signed giving his chief strategist a seat on the National Security Council, a greater source of frustration to the president than the fallout from the travel ban.
As Moore noted,
There are only two options here. Donald Trump either read this executive order and did not understand what placing Steve Bannon on the National Security Council (especially at the expense of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence) would mean, which is terrifying … or Donald Trump didn’t read the executive order that he signed.
Trump’s dislike of reading has been well documented throughout the campaign.