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Tag: "immigration"

The American Gestapo

[ 99 ] February 23, 2017 |


Above: Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents

ICE is the American version of the Gestapo and they should be demonized as such, individually.

An undocumented woman in desperate need of brain surgery has been forcibly removed from a Texas hospital — and her relatives in New York fear she could lose her life, a family representative said early Thursday.

Sara Beltran-Hernandez was detained after trying to migrate to the Big Apple from El Salvador without proper documentation in November 2015, family spokeswoman Melissa Zuniga told the Daily News. Beltran-Hernandez has been held at the Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado, Texas ever since, as her Queens-based family members have tried to petition for her asylum.

Earlier this month, Beltran-Hernandez, 26, began complaining about severe headaches, nosebleeds and memory loss. Last week, she collapsed and was subsequently taken to a hospital. Doctors diagnosed her with a brain tumor and determined that she needed surgery.

But Zuniga told The News that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents forcibly removed Beltran-Hernandez from the Huguley Hospital in Fort Worth on Wednesday evening.

“They had her tied up from hands and ankles,” Zuniga said. “She was brought in a wheelchair and is not being given treatment even though her nose continues to bleed and she has told them her head is exploding.”

Beltran-Hernandez had been put on a surgery waitlist over the weekend, according to Zuniga. But when Beltran-Hernandez’ relatives called on Wednesday night, the surgery was suddenly off the table.

“ICE was preparing paper work to get her back to the detention center,” Zuniga said.

We need to find out who these terrible human beings and confront them. We need to make working for ICE so shameful for these people that they quit. More directly, we need to take radical action to stop this. Maybe I don’t know what the right path is, but we need to do something. This is horrifying and despicable and we cannot allow it to continue.


Preventing Panic?

[ 139 ] February 21, 2017 |


As the Trump administration seeks to implement precisely what he said he would do and deport every undocumented immigrant in the country (although somehow I think the Irish undocumented immigrants won’t quite be treated the same as those from El Salvador and I wonder why that is….), it tries to claim that it wants to prevent panic while destroying lives and families. OK. Because what it is really doing is Making America White Again.

The new policies represent a sharp break from the final years of the Obama administration and could reverse a reduction in the number of deportations in President Barack Obama’s last years in office.

After deportations reached a record high of 434,000 in 2013, pressure from immigration advocates prompted the Obama administration to implement new guidelines that focused enforcement on hardened criminals. The number of people deported in 2015 was just over 333,000, the lowest number since 2007.

Kelly’s new DHS policies considerably broaden the pool of those who are prioritized for deportations, including undocumented immigrants who have been charged with crimes but not convicted, those who commit acts that constitute a “chargeable criminal offense,” and those who an immigration officer concludes pose “a risk to public safety or national security.”

The Trump administration “is using the specter of crime to create fear . . . in the American community about immigrants in order to create an opening to advance the indiscriminate persecution of immigrants,” said Clarissa Martínez-de-Castro, deputy vice president at the National Council of La Raza. “This administration is saying, ‘Now, everybody is going to be a priority,’ and the devil may care.”

DHS officials emphasized that the guidelines in Kelly’s memos are focused on carrying out Trump’s vision and that they hew closely to the language of the executive orders. And they said the secretary has written the memos to abide by federal immigration laws established by Congress.

It is my feeling that ICE agents should be seen as people committing crimes against humanity. If you choose to deport people for a living, you are a major cog in an unjust machine. These are the active enemies of everything that you should hold dear about this nation. And they deserve to be treated with utter contempt by everyone who knows them. There are plenty of other law enforcement or public safety jobs they could hold. This is the most despicable possible job. Shun them as racist thugs.

Proposal to Militarize Immigration Policy

[ 180 ] February 17, 2017 |

There’s a draft DHS memo floating around today, which proposed using up to 100,000 National Guard troops across eleven states to round up undocumented immigrants. It’s still unclear where this proposal originated, in response to what (though it seems part of the lead-up to the travel ban), and how far its discussion went (Spicer hasn’t denied that the report was discussed). But as Dara Lind makes clear over at Vox,

the fact that it was floated at all is still significant. President Trump arrived in office on the promise of a sweeping crackdown on immigration enforcement, and proceeded to sign executive orders that made substantial changes — but didn’t always provide details.

According to AP, who broke the story,

Staffers in the Department of Homeland Security said the proposal had been discussed as recently as Friday.


A DHS official described the document as a very early draft that was not seriously considered and never brought to the secretary for approval.

As for the details (also from AP):

The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana.

Four states that border on Mexico were included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four — Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

The memo was addressed to the then-acting heads of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It would have served as guidance to implement the wide-ranging executive order on immigration and border security that President Donald Trump signed Jan. 25. Such memos are routinely issued to supplement executive orders.

Also dated Jan. 25, the draft memo says participating troops would be authorized “to perform the functions of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension and detention of aliens in the United States.” It describes how the troops would be activated under a revived state-federal partnership program, and states that personnel would be authorized to conduct searches and identify and arrest any unauthorized immigrants.

If implemented, the impact could have been significant. Nearly one-half of the 11.1 million people residing in the U.S. without authorization live in the 11 states, according to Pew Research Center estimates based on 2014 Census data.

Use of National Guard troops would greatly increase the number of immigrants targeted in one of Trump’s executive orders last month, which expanded the definition of who could be considered a criminal and therefore a potential target for deportation. That order also allows immigration agents to prioritize removing anyone who has “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.”

According to the draft memo, the militarization effort was to be proactive, specifically empowering Guard troops to solely carry out immigration enforcement, not as an add-on the way local law enforcement is used in the program.

Allowing Guard troops to operate inside non-border states also would go far beyond past deployments.

Now, it bears repeating that there’s still a lot unclear about this memo’s direct relation to policy discussions and decisions. But in a context where policy details have been scant, directives have been rushed and poorly-thought out, and anti-migrant rhetoric is still pouring out from positions of power, that this was even floated should give us pause. Accomplishing the goals of Trump’s continuing campaign against migrants will require draconian methods (even if not in this specific form). Rejecting this particular proposal does not mean that equally troubling methods will not be forthcoming.

Central and North American Border Crossings

[ 11 ] February 17, 2017 |

7032168939_9e2632e063_bI recently discovered that an article—written by Noelle K. Brigden—in the journal that I edit is available for free. I mention this because it’s based on ethnographic work with Central American migrants. In particular, it explores border crossings with a focus on the journey of a Salvadoran boy.

An excerpt:

In Mexico, a country where the ‘mestizo’ of mixed Spanish and indigenous heritage represents the dominant racial ideology, profiling renders black migrants most vulnerable to identification. Of course, since it standardizes practice in a dynamic strategic setting, racial profiling may also create opportunities for smuggling. Smugglers sometimes blend high-paying Peruvian clients into travel groups with indigenous Guatemalans, because of their similar phenotype (smuggler, El Salvador, 7/5/10). The Peruvians pass as Guatemalan, and if they are captured, they only need to travel to Central America rather than returning to South America. This minimizes financial risks for the smugglers transporting them. Therefore, racial stereotypes can be harnessed, not only by state authorities, but by migrants and smugglers as well.

Like state authorities, criminals identify potential victims for kidnapping, rape, robbery, and extortion by trying to detect the accent, migrant clothing, and phenotype of Central Americans. In part because of racial profiling, Hondurans, and in particular black Hondurans, are most likely to rely on the dangerous train route where mass kidnappings and muggings occur with frequency, thereby avoiding buses that travel through migration checkpoints. The proportion of migrants reporting Honduran nationality on the registration rolls of the shelters has been the highest of any national group since Hurricane Mitch in 1998, often by a very large margin (Ruíz 2001). One rumor circulating among migrants suggests that organized criminal groups particularly seek out Salvadorans, who are known to be better connected to established families in the United States and thus fetch higher ransoms, than the poverty stricken Hondurans, who throng the migrant shelters and crowd the most desperate routes to the US. Whatever the preference of kidnappers might be, any identifiable Central American nationality invites legal, illegal, and extralegal violence en route.

Social scientists and academics in the humanities should find the piece pretty accessible. Non-academics—well, you can skim the denser academic prose at the top; once you hit the substantive sections, its easier going. Still, it’s not a work of journalism, so be forewarned. Given the rise of Trumpism, and its concurrent devaluation of empathy for immigrants, I thought some readers might be interested.

I’m going to make an effort to call attention to work of interest in my field—from International Studies Quarterly, but also more broadly. Hope that’s okay.

[Image by Peter Haden (CC-2.0)]

“General Strikes” versus Other, Real, Actions

[ 23 ] February 14, 2017 |


There’s a lot of talk going on around the left right now about a “general strike” to be held on Friday, or whenever another faction says it should be. This is pretty absurd. For there to be a general strike, you have to, you know, have the support of actual workers. Right now, this is just people who want to shut shit down seeing an opportunity to shut shit down without doing the work to make it happen. So expect on Friday to see a hippie on a bicycle riding through downtown while shouting “GENERAL STRIKE!” to bewildered workers.

On the other hand, there is all sorts of rooms for massive actions that actually engage the affected communities. The revival of “Day Without an Immigrant” protests that we saw in Milwaukee this week is very heartening. And I could see it spreading very quickly based in immigrant communities.

According to Washingtonian magazine, a number of local restaurants and other businesses have begun bracing for a national strike on February 16, in which immigrants—particularly those from Latinx communities—have been urged to stay home from work. The grassroots protest has seemingly been organized by word of mouth and across Latinx social media channels.

“One of our delivery men who’s Latino told our kitchen about it, and then it started spreading from there,” Rose Previte, owner of DC’s Compass Rose restaurant, told Washingtonian. “In the kitchen, all but the chef and one line cook are immigrants and asked if they could participate. “My staff was like, ‘We feel this is something we have to do.’ They felt really strongly about it. I was like, ‘Okay, absolutely.’”

While it’s unclear at the moment just how widespread the strike may be both within DC and elsewhere, a video posted to the popular Reforma Migratoria immigration activist page on Facebook calls for participants everywhere to refrain not only from working during the strike, but also shopping, buying gasoline, and sending their children to school.

This is something more along the lines of what such a “general strike” would look like if it happens. I doubt that Thursday you will see much in the way of a mass action in DC or anywhere else. But notice the huge difference here. This is immigrants doing this themselves with a particular aim in mind, spreading the idea through their own communities, and doing the hard work of giving the idea credence. If you are going to see such an event, this is how it happens. The workers are the leaders and the radicals are the followers, basically. The other way around, not really. Lenin was wrong about the vanguard, except in terms of violently seizing power and creating a dictatorship. In a democratic system, the impetus needs to come from below.

The Small Farm

[ 126 ] February 9, 2017 |


The mythology of the family farm goes deep in American history. It’s only recently that presidential elections stopped using this mythology for endless ads (if there’s one thing neither candidate cared about in 2016, it was farmers in Kansas or Ohio). Remember how tied up into being a small farmer the Carter campaign was. But the family farms have been stressed and declining for nearly a century, as automation and global commodity markets made efficiency the only thing that mattered. Despite the U.S. propping up these farmers through Nixon-era crop subsidies, they continue to decline. Given the relatively small number of people involved, I can’t get too worked up over the routine stories like this about their continued decline.

That said, this is part of the larger American problem that we have not come up with any sort of long-term industrial or employment planning to figure out what these people do when they lose their farms. Where do they go? What kind of dignified life can they lead? That’s even more true if they want to stay in small-town Kansas or Iowa, but not really that much better for most if they move to the cities. The lack of such a policy is really at the core of a number of our problems right now, including the sharp reaction to right-wing white nationalist politics with its very strong economic message of “screw brown people.” With millions of people about to lose their jobs due to automation in trucking and restaurants, this is not getting better as we on the left aren’t even articulating any good ideas on this point. We are at the starting point, ceding the rhetorical field to fascists. At least we can have some great songs about it.

Of course, no one epitomizes the Trump voter more than the white farmer, so it’s not like they would support any big programs to help themselves out anyway, unless it was more cash payments that went directly to them. As Donald Worster pointed out years ago in his excellent book Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s, farmers of the western Plains were big fans of the New Deal precisely up to the point where a) they saw an outsized amount of the benefits and b) the economy was so bad that they had no other choice. As soon as the New Deal was seen helping those people and the weather turned so they could be productive again, they turned back to the environmentally disastrous farming methods and hatred of the government that got them into trouble in the first place.

So there is no little irony that the California farmers who so strongly supported Trump and now worried about acquiring their cheap, exploitable labor force that has driven their agenda for more than a century.

Jeff Marchini and others in the Central Valley here bet their farms on the election of Donald J. Trump. His message of reducing regulations and taxes appealed to this Republican stronghold, one of Mr. Trump’s strongest bases of support in the state.

As for his promises about cracking down on illegal immigrants, many assumed Mr. Trump’s pledges were mostly just talk. But two weeks into his administration, Mr. Trump has signed executive orders that have upended the country’s immigration laws. Now farmers here are deeply alarmed about what the new policies could mean for their workers, most of whom are unauthorized, and the businesses that depend on them.

“Everything’s coming so quickly,” Mr. Marchini said. “We’re not loading people into buses or deporting them, that’s not happening yet.” As he looked out over a crew of workers bent over as they rifled through muddy leaves to find purple heads of radicchio, he said that as a businessman, Mr. Trump would know that farmers had invested millions of dollars into produce that is growing right now, and that not being able to pick and sell those crops would represent huge losses for the state economy. “I’m confident that he can grasp the magnitude and the anxiety of what’s happening now.”

Mr. Trump’s immigration policies could transform California’s Central Valley, a stretch of lowlands that extends from Sacramento to Bakersfield. Approximately 70 percent of all farmworkers here are living in the United States illegally, according to researchers at University of California, Davis. The impact could reverberate throughout the valley’s precarious economy, where agriculture is by far the largest industry. With 6.5 million people living in the valley, the fields in this state bring in $35 billion a year and provide more of the nation’s food than any other state.

Yeah, like he cares about you Mr. White Farmer.

Between this and $3 tomatoes in January thanks to whatever restrictions they are going to put on products coming in from Mexico, the reemergence of nutrition-based diseases among the American poor is sure going to work out for all of us!

Make America White Again

[ 147 ] February 9, 2017 |


Today the annals of the United States embracing naked 19th century versions of racism. Example A:

Fadwa Alaoui is a Moroccan-born Canadian citizen living in Brossard, Quebec. Like a lot of Quebecers, she sometimes drives down to Vermont to take advantage of the deals. But on Saturday, when her family pulled up at the border, Alaoui encountered something new.

After the usual set of questions, Alaoui was asked about her religion and her thoughts on U.S. President Donald Trump. Border agents took her phone and fingerprints. Four hours later she was told that her family wasn’t welcome and she was forced to turn back.

HM: And you answered all the questions?

FA: Yes. I answered all the questions, the best that I know. I was calm. I collaborate. I give him all the answers he wanted to know. He told me: Are you part of any group? Muslim group? I told him no. I told him it’s not my first time that I’m going to the United States. I have family there. I have my parents, my brothers, everyone is there. Today, especially, I want to bring my son with me because he is sick. I want to change his mind and give him a treat because he was sick, he had cancer. He asked me about the mosque: Do you know the last name of the imam? If he is always present? If someone replace him? The name of the person who replaced him? He told me: What do you think about the shooting in Quebec? Do you have relatives in Quebec that was one of the victims?

HM: I understand he also asked your thoughts on President Donald Trump?

FA: Yes. He asked me: What do you think about Donald Trump? I told him, what? He told me: [What’s] your opinion about his policy. I told him, listen, he has the right to do whatever he wants in his country. I don’t expect that. I’m not following the news. I’m not following what happened. I have a busy life. I have busy schedule with my son, with all these appointments at the hospital, with my kids.

Example B:

For eight years, Guadalupe García de Rayos had checked in at the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement office here, a requirement since she was caught using a fake Social Security number during a raid in 2008 at a water park where she worked.

Every year since then, she has walked in and out of the meetings after a brief review of her case and some questions.

But not this year.

On Wednesday, immigration agents arrested Ms. Rayos, 35, and began procedures to send her back to Mexico, a country she has not seen since she left it 21 years ago.

As a van carrying Ms. Rayos left the ICE building, protesters were waiting. They surrounded it, chanting, “Liberation, not deportation.” Her daughter, Jacqueline, joined in, holding a sign that read, “Not one more deportation.” One man, Manuel Saldana, tied himself to one of the van’s front wheels and said, “I’m going to stay here as long as it takes.”

Soon, police officers in helmets had surrounded Mr. Saldana. They cut off the ties holding him to the tire and rounded up at least six others who were blocking the front and back of the van, arresting them all. The driver quickly put the van in reverse and rolled back into the building.

Ms. Rayos was one of several detainees inside the van. It was unclear whether officials planned to take them to Mexico or to detention.

By midnight on Thursday, her husband said he was not sure where she was. A vehicle had just left the building under police escort, and he said he suspected she may have been inside.

Ms. Rayos was arrested just days after the Trump administration broadened the definition of “criminal alien,” a move that immigrants’ rights advocates say could easily apply to a majority of undocumented immigrants in the United States.

“We’re living in a new era now, an era of war on immigrants,” Ms. Rayos’s lawyer, Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado, said Wednesday after leaving the building here that houses the federal immigration agency, known by its acronym, ICE.

Example C:

House Republicans blocked a resolution advanced by Democrats on Tuesday declaring that Jews were the primary victims of the Holocaust. From the Washington Examiner:

Led by [House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe] Crowley, Democrats tried to force the House to vote on the resolution he introduced last week calling on the White House “to affirm that the Nazi regime targeted the Jewish people in its perpetration of the Holocaust.” More than 100 House Democrats co-sponsored the measure.

During debate on the rule for the House to consider three resolutions disapproving of three Obama administration rules concerning the Bureau of Land Management and Education Department, Crowley tried to defeat a procedural vote as a way to force Republicans to consider his resolution. But Republicans rejected the Democrats’ plan in a party-line vote.

The resolution, a shrewd effort to pin Republicans down on something the Trump administration has needlessly made an issue, condemned the White House’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement, which failed to mention Jews or the anti-Semitism that led to Adolf Hitler’s genocide against them. It also called for the House to reiterate “the indisputable fact that the Nazi regime targeted the Jewish people in its perpetration of the Holocaust,” condemn Holocaust denialism, and demand acknowledgment from the White House that Jews were targeted.

At some point in the future, when the United States has moved out of this phase of its deeply racist history, future people will look back upon us like they look back upon slavery and Jim Crow, as a period of deep national shame, wondering how we could let this happen. And the answer will be that if they are not vigilant, it will happen again to them.

Hiring Undocumented Workers

[ 98 ] February 7, 2017 |


Andy Puzder is a terrible human being. He opposes the minimum wage. He is an unreconstructed sexist. He wants to lay off every fast food worker and replace them with machines. He was a leading opponent of the Obama administration’s attempt to hold fast food companies accountable for the franchisees, as well as of every other thing Obama and Tom Perez and David Weil and the rest of that excellent Department of Labor did to make the lives of workers better. He will be an utterly atrocious Secretary of Labor, a right-wing extremist who will seek to take us back to Gilded Age wages and working conditions. I wish for nothing more than the defeat of his nomination to this fascist Cabinet.

But of all the things I will not attack him for, it’s hiring an undocumented worker to clean his house. An undocumented worker is a worker. That worker deserves to be treated with respect. We need to open the borders to ensure that no workers are undocumented and Andy Puzder is not going to do that. For that reason among so many others, I strongly oppose his nomination. But I am highly uncomfortable with a campaign to defeat him based on the fact that he hired an undocumented worker. To me, this keeps the millions of undocumented people behind the curtain, fearful to be found out or caught, when they need to be integrated into society and accepted as the workers and human beings that they are.

American Xenophobia

[ 31 ] February 4, 2017 |


Given the return of extreme anti-immigrant bias to the presidency, it’s worth noting that despite how much Americans (mostly liberals, really) like to talk of the U.S. as a nation of immigrants, it’s also forever been a nation just as defined by its xenophobia.

According to this ideal, refugees fighting for their homelands’ freedom could keep their torches alight in America, mobilizing fellow exiles, financial resources, and public opinion to advance their causes worldwide; Americans would promote the global advance of liberty precisely by serving as a welcoming harbor for the persecuted. “All are willing and desirous, of course, [that] America should continue to be a safe asylum for the oppressed of all nations,” Daniel Webster put it in 1844.

There were, to be sure, stark limits on the asylum ideal and its influence. The sense of who deserved political shelter was mostly reserved for Europeans; Asians need not apply. (Even Webster, in his remarks, hailed America as an asylum just before calling for limitations on immigrant voting.) By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the American industrial order was challenged by militant labor, socialist, and anarchist movements often led by immigrants, policymaking and intellectual elites clamped down, approaching freedom-seeking immigrants not as transnational partners in liberty, but as sources of disorder, revolt, and danger. As American society was transformed by the arrival of millions of Southern and Eastern Europeans, a new and authoritative racial science confidently consigned newcomers to the lower tiers of humanity, a eugenic menace to be contained and excluded.

But the asylum ideal held on stubbornly, less among native-born Americans than among immigrants themselves and their descendants, who made it their own. More than anyone else, it was immigrant and immigrant-descended intellectuals—Lazarus and her spiritual offspring—who rebuilt the Statue of Liberty into a sign of greeting and protection.

The tides were against them. As the United States emerged as a world power—seizing colonies, waging war in Europe, engaging in great power diplomacy—perceptions of national interest subordinated humanitarian concerns. Having achieved only limited gains in their first half-century of campaigning, anti-immigrant forces triumphed in the wake of World War I, as moral panics over possible German immigrant subversion spilled over into terror at European immigrants generally, especially as underground Bolshevik agitators.

Beginning during the war and culminating in 1924, the United States slammed its door on most of the world: excluding nearly all immigrants from Asia and stringently restricting European immigrants on the basis of “national origins” quotas aimed at turning fantasies of an earlier America that was Northern and Western European and Protestant—not Italian, Jewish, and Slav—into demographic realities. As prominent race theorist Madison Grant warned in 1916, the new immigration had brought “a large and increasing number of the weak, the broken and the mentally crippled of all races”; Americans must abandon the “pathetic and fatuous belief in the efficacy of American institutions and environment to reverse or obliterate immemorial hereditary tendencies.” Grant and his associates trumpeted exclusion in unapologetically nationalist and racist terms: The United States must preserve and strengthen its heritage by barricading itself off from invasions and influences from lesser parts of the Earth.

Between the 1920s to the mid-1960s, questions of racial self-preservation, labor protectionism, and national interest largely framed American immigration politics. These were the United States’ first Trumpian decades in immigration terms. Restrictionists refashioned the Statue of Liberty into a militant warrior-goddess guarding America’s beleaguered gates. New anti-radical policies kept out and aided the deportation of actual, and imagined, activists on the left. Jewish escapees from Nazi Germany were refused on the grounds that they were likely to become “public charges.” Tens of thousands of people of Japanese descent—immigrant and citizen alike—were imprisoned on the basis of racially presumed disloyalty. Nothing raised the walls of fortress America faster than wars, real and metaphorical: They stoked anxieties about keeping hostiles out and locating secret adversaries within, turning neighbors into enemies.

This has always been a fight. And probably always will be. History does not mean “things get better as time goes on.” I wish it did. But rather, it’s always a fight. And thinking about all of this, not only immigration, but civil rights, gay rights, etc., as a constant battle that requires endless struggle and vigilance is crucial moving ahead. Complacency is always the enemy of justice.

Why Protest is Needed in Blue States

[ 129 ] February 3, 2017 |


As I have stated several times, there are tremendous benefits to the mass protests and continued pressure placed on politicians. The Betsy DeVos nomination, which might actually go down, is a great example. None of this happens without the utter outrage over how this plutocrat will hurt our children.

Now that takes moving Republicans, which is hard to do as most of them don’t care about our children. But protest really matters in the blue states too. As we all know, our Democratic politicians are a lot less uniform in their outlook than Republicans. Some are populists, some are close to Wall Street. Some are major union supporters, others keep their distance. Some see centrist respectability as a goal, others eschew it. Some will go to the mat to protect our most vulnerable citizens, others may well not. In all of these cases, protests move lame Democrats closer to the right way. In Rhode Island, this is critical. The Tea Party-style action here last week against Sheldon Whitehouse for voting to confirm Mike Pompeo got headlines throughout the left media. That got people’s attention, including that of the senator himself.

This sort of thing is even more critical with our governor, Gina Raimondo. The ultimate Wall Street Democrat, she is pretty bad on some issues, especially in destroying the pensions of union workers. Now, generally she has said the right thing publicly on resisting Trump, including at the beginning of the rally that challenged Whitehouse. But how far will she go in resisting Trump? Will she declare Rhode Island a sanctuary state and put it all on the line. So far, the answer is no.

“I don’t think [Donald Trump can withhold federal funds.] I don’t think it’s legal,” said Raimondo, “The President cannot unilaterally decree that. So what I’ve said is let’s take it a day at a time, let’s be vigilant but not hysterical, uh, that’s a lot of money, your know, $3 billion flows into Rhode Island and I do have to make sure- I have to be practical- and make sure that my folks don’t get hurt.” [italics mine]

So if it is ruled legal to withhold federal funds, asked Braude, does that mean you comply?

“It depends,” replied Raimondo. “This is all about the details. So we’ll wait and see how it goes. But- The mayor of Providence, for instance, has said, ‘Look, we’ll give up our federal money, we are a sanctuary city.’ I’m not there yet.”

Do you support [Elorza] on that, asked Braude.

“That’s his decision. He’s running the city, I get billions of dollars of federal money that the people of Rhode Island need so I have to be practical.”

It is estimated that there are 30,000 undocumented persons in Rhode Island. To a crowd of thousands, Raimondo’s support for their human rights was absolute. When questioned by a reporter, Raimondo remembers her fiduciary duties and suddenly those 30,000 people have a price tag she may not be willing to pay. We may stand in solidarity, but when $3 billion is on the line the term my folks suddenly doesn’t apply to the undocumented.

The undocumented may belong here, live here and pay taxes here, but they don’t pay $3 billion in taxes. $3 billion is $100,000 per undocumented man, woman and child.

Perhaps no one, documented or not, is worth that much to Governor Raimondo.

Now you might say she is being smart. That there is a price in which the state cannot pay to protect its most vulnerable residents. I would disagree. I think the state needs to stand up directly to Trump and dare the federal government to take on the state, with all the massive consequences that would lead to. It’s hardly surprising that Raimondo wouldn’t take the lead–if California does it and Connecticut does it, then Raimondo might follow. But no equivocation on this point can be acceptable and if she continues along these lines, we need direct action protests challenging her every day.

And the same goes for your mayors and governors,

Protest Works

[ 60 ] January 28, 2017 |


Congratulations to all the amazing people who went to the airports across the country at a moment’s notice–the lawyers, the translators, and the people just flat out outraged that our country has a fascist government. A federal judge has issued a stay–although not before too many people were immediately deported back to dangerous situations. The overwhelming pressure was already beginning to cause some Republicans to get real shaky about this, with Sasse, Flake, and Collins all coming out against the precise nature of the executive order, although none damning like they should.

This is what the next 4 years are going to be like–enormous challenges, some huge losses. But protest works. Masses of people make a major difference. And these people are going to vote in 2018 and they are going to vote in 2020. I don’t know if they can overcome Republicans rigging the game and committing massive voter fraud, but the left has not been this angry, motivated, and acting on it in a long, long, long time. Republicans–we are coming for you.

We have many protests to come. Go to them. Be part of the resistance. Fight fascism.

“Donald Trump Destroyed My Life”

[ 104 ] January 28, 2017 |


I have never been more ashamed of my nation than I am today. Just one of many examples of the real life consequences of a fascist president.

Egyptian officials said the family had visas and were in transit when they were prevented from boarding the EgyptAir plane to New York’s JFK airport.

Fuad Sharef, 51, and his wife and three children were instead forced to board a flight back to Erbil in Iraq’s semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, he told AFP.

Trump had on Friday signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

“I had sold my house, my car, my furniture. I resigned from work and so did my wife. I took my children out of school,” said Sharef of the family’s preparations to resettle in Nashville, Tennessee under a special immigrant visa.

Back in Erbil, the pharmaceutical industry manager, who had previously worked for an NGO subcontracted by the US aid agency, said he was devastated.

“Donald Trump destroyed my life. My family’s life. I used to think America was a state of institutions but it’s as though it’s a dictatorship,” he said.

“For a decision like this to come out and be implemented immediately, and against whom? Against a valid visa holder.”

“I put my life at risk, working with the Americans at a time that it could have gotten you killed,” he added.

The United States of America is a racist embarrassment to the world.

Also, this is yet another reason why a vote for Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III as Attorney General is a reason to evict a senator from the Democratic Party.

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