Immigration: Heads or Tails

Trump’s minions have announced that it’s “Infrastructure Week” again and released a delusional budget, which can only mean that a scandal is about to erupt that will kick all policy discussions clear outta the news cycle (my preferred option), or the immigration debate will move forward in some material way that will enrage all parties and make talk of infrastructure impossible. The latter seems more likely.

To recap, here are the “four pillars” Trump laid out after flipping and flopping like a beached large-mouth bass prior to the first shut-down:

1. A path to citizenship for 1.8M DREAMers
2. A border wall with Mexico and increased funding for Border Patrol
3. Ending the diversity visa lottery
4. Banning US citizens from sponsoring their adult children, parents, and siblings for green cards

To filter the issue through the lens of the Last Honest Man’s View From Nowhere, here’s Politico reporter Marc Caputo’s take on the current standings, in response to polling that shows the majority of Americans oppose Trump’s immigration proposal:

Interesting how that works, huh? Trump don’t give a fuck what the country thinks about immigration. Republicans control all three branches of government. So, are Democrats just going to stand idly by while DREAMers get deported?

But as maddening as that framing is, there’s truth to it because Americans may oppose Trump’s hard line on immigration, but not enough to make him and the GOP pay for it, at least not in the short term. On a visceral level, if not numerically, the GOP base understands that significantly curtailing LEGAL immigration will keep the country whiter, longer.

Non-MAGAt Americans may not be on board with the last-ditch effort to extend the white majority — just as they’re not on board with allowing the NRA to run domestic firearms policy — but, as in the gun safety case, they don’t seem to care enough to make immigration a major priority. I think we found that out during the first shut-down.

So, what to do? I can’t be objective about the DREAMer issue because it affects a family member. But my preference is for the Democrats to try to negotiate concessions on the “four pillars” — they should shoot for a better deal for DREAMers and try to expand the cruel family unification restrictions proposed by Trump, bringing them more in line with the immigration policies that built this country.

But if they can’t get anything, I hope they concede and protect the DREAMers. I firmly believe it will hurt the country if the GOP gets its way, but we’re screwed in the short term with these clowns in the driver’s seat regardless. Might as well try to salvage something positive, then work to repair the damage once Trump is ousted.

What do you think?

Saturday Morning Open Thread: Nancy STILETTO, Too

Readership capture. Dana Houle, in the Washington Post, “Nancy Pelosi is incredibly underrated”:

Pelosi has never tried, as Ryan did, to seduce the press, and what she says in public is occasionally convoluted. Her strength is in what she does away from the microphones.

Growing up in a political family, Pelosi learned to balance competing demands, get people enough of what they needed for them to feel satisfied, to keep track of who crossed you, who helped you, and whom to call on to return favors. And she learned to listen and ensure that people know they are heard. Pelosi draws on this experience while serving both her constituencies: San Franciscans, and the Democratic members of Congress she has led since 2003.

Pelosi is a master vote counter — and more than most 20th-century congressional leaders, she has to be. Majorities are narrower, and to pass partisan legislation, or keep a unified opposition, leaders cannot afford to have many members voting against their caucus. When Democrats have been in the minority, she has kept her representatives in check, even as Ryan and his predecessors have had to pull bills from the House floor because they got the whip count wrong.

And when Democrats were in the majority, Pelosi amassed a record that’s all the more impressive given her unpopularity nationally. In 2008, despite favorability ratings around 30 percent and attacks from the left for not defunding the Iraq War, Pelosi led House Democrats to their second straight wave election. Former Republican majority leader Tom DeLay — who knew a thing or two about keeping a caucus together — called her “the most powerful speaker in a generation. She will be able to do anything she wants.” The next two years, she passed nearly all of President Barack Obama’s legislative priorities.

Yes, of course, Pelosi is unpopular. So are Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). So is Congress. Yet, for some reason, only Pelosi gets blamed for an unpopularity that really stems from disgust with Congress and partisan polarization. Pelosi is not a scorched-earth partisan; indeed, at numerous times in her career she has been criticized for cutting deals, such as on Iraq War appropriations and Obamacare. But she also understands polarization. She sees her public role not as using policy to communicate a common ground to centrist swing voters but to expose differences between Democrats and Republicans…

Apart from honoring our street fighters, what’s on the agenda for the weekend?

By Request: NANCY SMASH!


I was gonna wait to see how it turned out, but yeah, Pelosi deserves the spotlight…

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi took the rare step Wednesday of giving a marathon speech supporting Democrats’ attempts to legalize the status of young immigrant “dreamers,” in a bid to pressure Republicans to act.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) began talking shortly after 10 a.m., using her right as minority leader to speak for as long as she wants. She began by saying that she would lead opposition to a broad two-year budget agreement that includes several Democratic priorities but does not address immigration — the topic that has prolonged the spending debate for several months.

“I have no intention of yielding back,” Pelosi said at 3:41 p.m. Eastern as she neared the six-hour mark of her ongoing remarks.

The hope is that Pelosi and Democrats — whose support is often needed to pass spending bills in the face of opposition from fiscal conservatives — can pressure House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) to hold votes on immigration legislation, as the Senate is poised to begin doing next week.

“Why should we in the House be treated in such a humiliating way when the Republican Senate leader has given that opportunity in a bipartisan way to his membership? What’s wrong? There’s something wrong with this picture,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi, 77, peppered her speech with anecdotes about people protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and mentioned the biblical tale of the Good Samaritan…

At least six floor aides and 18 Democratic lawmakers sat around her, including Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.). But most sat skimming their phones or reading documents. One aide kept slipping her fresh pages with more stories to tell about dreamers affected by the ongoing impasse.

On the other side of the chamber sat only Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) and two aides, seemingly waiting to seize the floor and begin debate on a home mortgage bill scheduled to be voted on later Wednesday…

Of course (*sigh*) it wouldn’t be a Democratic landmark without some two-bit opportunist trying to grab some attention…

Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: “Chain Migration”, It’s All-American!

(Signe Wilkinson via

Count on the Trump Administration to find the most obnoxious person available to misidentify family reunification. Count on the NYTimes to pick the worst possible person to defend that misidentification, on the worst possible day…

Informative rebuttal in the Washington Post:

For those looking to emigrate to the United States, connections are everything. If you have a family member who is a citizen or a green-card holder, you can — under certain circumstances — be given priority consideration for entry to the country…

What this means is that a citizen could sponsor a sibling for a green card and, if granted, that sibling could then sponsor his or her child. That child could then sponsor his or her eventual spouse, and so on. This is the system that President Trump has taken to describing as “chain migration,” a system that he and his administration present as a scourge that necessitates action by the government. (Proponents of the system prefer the term “family reunification.”) A proposal from the administration sent to Capitol Hill last week suggested that the green-card-holder limits on petitions apply to everyone, dramatically scaling back the number of people who could see facilitated entry to the United States.

There’s an irony to this policy shift, though. A number of prominent members of the Trump administration have ancestors who are only in the country because they came to join members of their families who would be excluded from sponsoring them under the new proposal…

Trump has benefited from what could be called “chain migration” on both sides of his family…
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Open Thread: Fighting the Repubs’ Current Ransom Attempt

(I’m putting this together at 6am, before going to bed, in the knowledge that it may be outdated by the time it appears on the front page. Do your worst, Trickster God!)

From the Washington Post, “Lawmakers call on Trump to drop bid for legal immigration cuts”:

Lawmakers in both parties said Sunday that the immigration debate should focus narrowly on efforts to legalize young immigrants known as “dreamers” and beef up border security, suggesting that President Trump’s demands to slash legal immigration levels are likely to sink a deal.

Democrats have voiced fierce opposition to a White House plan, released late last week, that featured a path to citizenship for 1.8 million dreamers in exchange for $25 billion for his border wall and sharp cuts to family immigration visas.

Though Democratic leaders have grudgingly offered wall funding, they have accused the president of leveraging the dreamers as “ransom” to severely constrict legal immigration, calling it a wish list for “anti-immigration hard-liners” and “white supremacists.”

Congress members, including some Republicans, said Sunday that the negotiations have gone too far afield ahead of a March 5 deadline after which 690,000 dreamers in an Obama-era deferred action program could begin to lose their protections from deportation…

Negotiators from both parties said after meeting with Trump at the White House two weeks ago that they had agreed to narrow the talks to four categories — the future of the dreamers, border security, cuts to family immigration and the diversity visa lottery, which Trump wants to eliminate.

Trump’s plan would terminate the ability of U.S. citizens to apply for green cards, awarding permanent legal residence, for their parents and siblings. The nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute estimated that the proposal could annually drop the number of green cards by at least 288,000 — 36 percent of the total number last year….

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GOP Monsters Open Thread: Stephen Miller Is A Decency Roadblock

(Jim Morin via

Never found the space to post this link when it came out last October, but the GOP shutdown “impasse” means Stephen Miller is in the spotlight again. Jonathan Blitzer, at the New Yorker:

In 1980, the year that Congress passed the Refugee Act, the U.S. accepted more than two hundred thousand refugees. The law created a robust program for accepting people who had been displaced by war and strife, and made refugee policy a new tool of American foreign policy, improving the country’s standing with foreign allies and helping the military and intelligence communities find partners in conflict zones. Since then, the mandated refugee “cap” set by the President has fluctuated; during the Obama Administration, it averaged seventy-six thousand, and, in 2017, Obama raised the cap to a hundred and ten thousand to allow in more Syrians fleeing civil war. Then came Donald Trump. In January, he signed an executive order temporarily freezing the refugee program, barring all Syrians, and slashing the number of refugees allowed into the country for the remainder of the year. Late last month, the White House announced that next year’s cap would be forty-five thousand, a record low. The State Department, the Defense Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Office of the Vice-President, and the Office of Management and Budget had wanted the number to be higher. But they had all been forced to compete with one influential White House official: Stephen Miller, the thirty-two-year-old former aide to Jeff Sessions who has become Trump’s top immigration adviser…

Miller, who has gone from the political fringe to the White House on the strength of his reputation as an anti-immigration ideas man, joined the Trump campaign early. He is close to both the President and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and has had a direct hand in several of the Administration’s most significant immigration decisions, including the travel bans and the cancellation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). “He’s been thoughtful and low-key about overtaking the policy-making process,” one White House official told me. “That’s the reason he survived.”

The chain of events that led to the announcement of the new refugee cap began on June 5th, when Miller met with officials from the State Department, the National Security Council, the Department of Homeland Security, and a policy group called the Homeland Security Council. Every summer, the State Department and the N.S.C. lead a series of discussions to decide the next year’s cap. Officials weigh dozens of different considerations, solicit input from the various stakeholder agencies, and ultimately bring a number to the President for his approval. The process is technical and exacting, a months-long slog through meetings, position papers, and constant recalibrations. Miller’s presence at the June 5th meeting itself was unusual: he heads the Domestic Policy Council, a body staffed by political appointees, which had never before played a role in refugee policy.

“We know how this used to go in the past,” he told the officials in the room. “But we also know that the President views this as a homeland-security issue.” Everyone understood the significance of Miller’s words. “Miller basically made clear that it was not going to be looked at from the typical lens of foreign policy,” a second White House official told me. “It was a domestic-policy issue, an immigration issue. The Department of Homeland Security was going to get involved.”…

When evidence emerged that didn’t suit Miller’s aims, he squelched it. In March, the White House had asked the Department of Health and Human Services to study the costs of refugee resettlement. The department returned with a study, in July, showing that the revenue generated by refugees in the form of local, state, and federal taxes exceeded the costs of resettling them by sixty-three billion dollars. According to the Times, Miller suppressed the study and demanded that H.H.S. recalculate the numbers. Two of the White House officials told me they’d heard that Miller had given H.H.S. strict instructions at the outset. “The President believes refugees cost more, and the results of this study shouldn’t embarrass the President,” he had told people at the agency. (The White House denied that Miller was involved with the H.H.S. report.)…
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Late Night Eye-Roll Open Thread: “Make America PROUDLY Racist Again!!!”

But his (Very) Base LOVES him for it! —

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