Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Immigration Article of the Day: Alienating Citizens by Amanda Frost


Alienating Citizens by Amanda Frost, Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 114, No. 1, 2019


Denaturalization is back.

In 1967, the Supreme Court declared that denaturalization for any reason other than fraud or mistake in the naturalization process is unconstitutional, forcing the government to abandon its aggressive denaturalization campaigns. For the last half century, the government denaturalized no more than a handful of people every year. Over the past year, however, the Trump Administration has revived denaturalization. The Administration has targeted 700,000 naturalized American citizens for investigation and has hired dozens of lawyers and staff members to work in a newly created office devoted to investigating and prosecuting denaturalization cases.

Using information gathered from responses to Freedom of Information Act requests, legal filings, and interviews, this Essay is the first to describe the Trump Administration’s denaturalization campaign in detail. The Essay then situates denaturalization within the Trump Administration’s broader approach to immigration. Under a policy known as “attrition through enforcement,” the Trump Administration has sought to discourage immigration and encourage “self-deportation.” Although attrition through enforcement is typically described as a method of persuading unauthorized immigrants to leave the United States, the denaturalization campaign and other Trump Administration initiatives suggest that the same approach is now being applied to those with legal status.


October 15, 2019 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 14, 2019

Adam Ruins Everything -- Christopher Columbus Was a Murderous Moron

To celebrate Columbus Day, check out this Adam Ruins Everything episode: Christopher Columbus Was a Murderous Moron. (Bonus: the entire episode is done like a Magic School Bus TV show!)

You'll never look at the holiday the same way again.

Too lazy to watch a five minute clip? Let me at least tell you that the myth of Christopher Columbus' discovery of America was started by the author of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow in 1828. Later, Italian migrants to Americans used that myth to facilitate their welcome into this country. And, in summary: Christopher Columbus was a "incompetent and vicious nobody."


October 14, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

At The Movies: Trails of Hope and Terror

Are you looking for a new film to update your discussion of the Southern border? Maybe, like me, you're worried that Crossing Arizona is starting to look a little long in the tooth as a 2006 film. Well, check out Trails of Hope and Terror (2017).

It's short -- clocking in a 53 minutes, you can likely screen the whole thing in class.

Full disclosure: I haven't seen the entire movie yet. But just watching at the trailer, it feels like Crossing Arizona updated and, blissfully, shortened.


October 14, 2019 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

For Native Americans, US-Mexico border is an ‘imaginary line’



President Trump conceive of the U.S./Mexico border -- and borders generally -- as clear, definite, and subject to aggressive enforcement in the name of national sovereignty.  Native Americans have a very different view of the border, which Christina Leza discusses on The Conversation.  She explains:

"The traditional homelands of 36 federally recognized tribes – including the Kumeyaay, Pai, Cocopah, O’odham, Yaqui, Apache and Kickapoo peoples – were split in two by the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and 1853 Gadsden Purchase, which carved modern-day California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas out of northern Mexico.

Today, tens of thousands of people belonging to U.S. Native tribes live in the Mexican states of Baja California, Sonora, Coahuila and Chihuahua, my research estimates. The Mexican government does not recognize indigenous peoples in Mexico as nations as the U.S. does, so there is no enrollment system there.

Still, many Native people in Mexico routinely cross the U.S.-Mexico border to participate in cultural events, visit religious sites, attend burials, go to school or visit family. Like other `non-resident aliens,' they must pass through rigorous security checkpoints, where they are subject to interrogation, inspection and rejection or delay.

Many Native Americans I’ve interviewed for anthropological research on indigenous activism call the U.S.-Mexico border `the imaginary line' – an invisible boundary created by colonial powers that claim sovereign indigenous territories as their own.

A border wall would further separate Native peoples from friends, relatives and tribal resources that span the U.S.-Mexico border."


October 14, 2019 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Christopher Columbus was not always white

On Columbus Day, the NY Times editorial board has published an essay reminding the country of how the Italians were once considered outside the boundaries of cultural belonging and over time became assimilated to the mainstream.

In the beginning, "Congress envisioned a white,Protestant and culturally homogeneous America when it declared in 1790 that only “free white persons, who have, or shall migrate into the United States” were eligible to become naturalized citizens. The calculus of racism underwent swift revision when waves of culturally diverse immigrants from the far corners of Europe changed the face of the country."

Recalling Matthew Frye Jacobson's history of US immigration, “Whiteness of a Different Color,” the essay describes a national panic that led Americans to adopt a more restrictive, politicized view of how whiteness was to be allocated. During this time, Italian immigrants like Christopher Columbus, went from racialized pariah status in the 19th century to white Americans in good standing in the 20th century.

The federal holiday honoring the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus — celebrated on Monday — was central to the process through which Italian-Americans were fully ratified as white during the 20th century. The rationale for the holiday was steeped in myth [a response to lynchings of 11 Italian immigrants in Louisiana], and allowed Italian-Americans to write a laudatory portrait of themselves into the civic record.

As the editorial team writes, "the history of Columbus Day and Italian immigrants offers a window onto the alchemy through which race is constructed in the United States, and how racial hierarchies can sometimes change."

Columbus day monument to immigrant


October 14, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Does cutting immigration hurt the economy?

Reprising a long-running and itinerant argument about the relative economic costs and benefits of immigration, Professor Austan Goolsbee, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, argues in the NY Times:

The Trump administration may find the falling immigration numbers a cause for celebration. But, more than any drop in the stock market or fall in manufacturing sentiment or consumer confidence, they present the scariest economic news we have seen in some time. The impact of low immigration on the American economy will be profoundly negative, both now and in the future.

The argument shows how recent debates over economic aspects of immigration -- the incentives for employers, the rights of workers -- keep relevant data sources such as the 509-report a few years ago from the National Academy of Sciences, “The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration,” which critics and advocates both endorsed for their views. 


October 14, 2019 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The immigration system is designed to fail


© Getty Images

Working with the group Lawyers for Good GovernmentKim Hunter, Katharine Gordon and John Bruning on The Hill write about the human impacts of "[t]he Trump administration’s latest efforts to block as many asylum seekers as possible from entering the U.S. have expanded exponentially with the implementation of `port courts.'"

They continue: "[t]ens of thousands of refugees have been forced to remain in Mexico in order to request any protection from persecution, rather than be permitted to enter the U.S. to await their hearing dates. For their hearings, they enter port courts, which are literally in tents and trailers that have been hastily put up in southern border cities.

We are part of a group of attorney volunteers who recently returned from assisting asylum-seekers in Matamoros, Mexico. One of us accompanied two new clients to the port court in Brownsville, Texas. Neither the judges nor government attorneys are physically present, instead appearing by video and hidden from public view as press and observers are barred." 

The attorneys' chilling conclusion:

"The harms refugees suffer due to our official U.S. government policy of rendering them homeless includes deaths by drowning in the Rio Grande (even while bathing), multiple documented instances of kidnappings within minutes or hours of being returned from the U.S. The toll of surviving on the streets of Mexico is amplified by the due process farce refugees face in post courts.

As tempting as it is, we cannot give in to our exhaustion and cynicism: We must hold this administration accountable for the ongoing illegality that is engulfing the border. It may take decades or longer to repair what we have lost under this administration and there is no time to waste. "


October 14, 2019 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Immigration Unilateralism and American Ethnonationalism by Robert L. Tsai


Immigration Unilateralism and American Ethnonationalism by Robert L. TsaiLoyola University Chicago Law Journal, Vol. 51, No. 1, 2019


This paper arose from an invited symposium on "Democracy in America: The Promise and the Perils," held at Loyola University Chicago School of Law in Spring 2018. The essay places the Trump administration’s immigration and refugee policy in the context of a resurgent ethnonationalist movement in America as well as the constitutional politics of the past. In particular, it argues that Trumpism’s suspicion of foreigners who are Hispanic or Muslim, its move toward indefinite detention and separation of families, and its disdain for so-called “chain migration” are best understood as part of an assault on the political settlement of the 1960s. These efforts at demographic control are being pursued unilaterally, however, without sufficient evidence there is a broad and lasting desire on the part of the people to alter the fundamental values generated during that period. In order to withstand Trumpism’s challenges, we’ll have to better understand the Immigration and Naturalization Act’s origins as an integral component of the civil rights revolution. When we revisit this history, we learn that this settlement introduced three principles into the immigration context: equality, a presumption of cultural compatibility, and family integrity. These crucial principles must be made part of any judicial evaluation of a president’s policies—especially those conducted unilaterally.


October 14, 2019 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, October 13, 2019

EJS Oct. 19: Oakland Town Hall on Trump's Racist Abuses of Power with Rep. Al Green

From the Equal Justice Society:

From: "Eva Paterson, Equal Justice Society" <meher@equaljusticesociety.com>
Date: October 9, 2019 at 5:12:29 PM PDT
To: Eva Paterson <epaterson@equaljusticesociety.org>
Subject: Oct. 19: Town Hall on Trump's Racist Abuses of Power with Rep. Al Green and Others
Reply-To: meher@equaljusticesociety.com

Town Hall on Racism in the Trump Administration

You're Invited: Oct. 19 Town Hall on Trump's Racist Abuses of Power with Rep. Al Green and Others

Dear Friends,
I am excited to announce that the Equal Justice Society and the California Coalition for Civil Rights will be hosting a Town Hall on Donald Trump's Racist Abuses of Power on Saturday, October 19, 2019, at the Marriott Hotel in Downtown Oakland.
This Town Hall will document the many ways the Trump Administration and his inflammatory rhetoric has damaged our communities, particularly targeting communities of color. We will hear from activists, advocates, educators and community members, as well as special guest Representative Al Green, a Democratic House Representative from Texas.
Our other confirmed speakers include Prof. Bill Ong Hing, who will share his eyewitness account of children locked in cages at detention centers in Clint, Texas. Dorsey Nunn, Executive Director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, will speak about the rapid rise of mass incarceration and the profiteering off the incarcerated. Nakia Woods, a community organizer from the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, will speak to the experiences of Black migrants trapped in Mexico due to the racist policies of the current administration. Finally, from Indivisible, we welcome Linh Nguyen, from the East Bay chapter, who will be presenting on proposed remedies to the racism of the Trump administration.
The town hall will also feature cultural performances to inspire and uplift. The town hall is free and open to the public, but we request attendees register in advance at https://townhallontrumpracism.eventbrite.com.
The town hall is presented in collaboration with Free Speech for People, an organization working towards a democratic process in which all people have an equal voice and an equal vote.
We hope you can join us. It will surely be an informative and memorable town hall for all.
~ Eva Paterson, Equal Justice Society



October 13, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump to Name Ken Cuccinelli as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security?


With Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan stepping down, President Trump is looking for a new Secretary.   Fox News reports that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli, who has put in place a number of hard-line positions, is seen as a likely replacement for Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan.  According to Fox News, the "move . . . would be welcomed by immigration hardliners."

 A former senior DHS official with close ties to the administration told Fox News that Cuccinelli is on the top of Trump’s list to be the next acting secretary. The source noted that  "he, [White House adviser] Steve Miller and Trump are all in sync on a number of key policies.

Fox News also reports that "[i]f Trump doesn’t go with Cuccinelli, [a] source said Trump may go with former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach -- another hardliner . . . ."  Wow!

Trump may some resistance from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has in the past indicated his "lack of enthusiasm" for Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli was previously president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which seeks to push more conservative Senate candidates and was often critical of McConnell and his allies.

A Cuccinelli pick would also face significant opposition from Senate Democrats. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), declared Cuccinelli "unfit" to lead USCIS after old remarks emerged of the former Virginia attorney general calling illegal immigrants "foreign invaders." 


October 13, 2019 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

News from the Heartland: Attorney Sues ICE Injuries for Assault, Battery, False Arrest, False Imprisonment, and Emotional Distress


Andrea Martinez

News from the heartland.  A Kansas City immigration lawyer who was injured while trying to assist her 3-year-old client is suing the two immigration agents who allegedly shoved her to the ground and caused her injuries. Andrea Martinez claims to have suffered a fractured foot, bleeding, and a concussion after she was forcibly separated from her client, whom she was reuniting with his pregnant mother at a Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility.  The lawsuit names as defendants ICE agents Everett Chase and Ronnet Sasse and the U.S. government; Martinez seeks compensatory and punitive damages for assault, battery, false arrest, false imprisonment and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

A portion of the incident, which occurred on June 26, 2018, was recorded as part of the recently-released Netflix documentary, “Living Undocumented.”.



October 13, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Iraqi Christians helped Trump win Michigan, then his immigration crackdown split their community

Liz Goodwin for the Boston Globe tells an interesting political story about Iraqi Christians in Michigan, which Donald Trump won by an extremely small margin in the 2016 election.  The close-knit Iraqi Christian community in southeastern Michigan is divided on President Trump, which could affect the 2020 presidential election in this crucial Midwestern state.

Trump captured the votes of many Iraqi Christians with his antiabortion stance, promise to protect Christian minorities in the Middle East, and commitment to crush ISIS. When Trump denigrated other immigrant groups,  some Iraqi Christians — who are also called Chaldeans, after the name of their branch of the Catholic Church — saw no threat to their community whose members largely entered the country legally.


Altar servers waited before a service at St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church on a Sunday morning in the largely Chaldean neighborhood of Sterling Heights. Erin Clark for the Boston Globe

Influential Iraqi Christian figures supported Trump. A Chaldean priest was photographed giving a blessing to Trump in a brief meeting before the election in an image that was shared widely on Facebook. Other Chaldeans attended Trump rallies holding signs of support.

“There’s a very good chance he won Michigan because of our community,” said Nahren Anweya, an Iraqi-American Christian activist from southeast Michigan who backed Trump. “We did trust President Trump to protect us.”

The image of Trump as protector was shaken early in his presidency. Just days after he took office, Trump banned the admission of persons from several majority-Muslim nations, which initially included Iraq. Soon after, ICE agents rounded up Iraqis across the US. Most were legal immigrants but had committed crimes, often decades ago, making them eligible to be deported to a country where they feared death or torture.

Iraqi Christians began arriving in Detroit in the early 1900s. More Iraqi Christians arrived in the 1990s in the aftermath of the Gulf War, and settled in Detroit about a mile from “Chaldean Town” — an Iraqi Christian community filled with churches, bakeries, and shops that closely replicated life in the Northern Iraqi villages.


October 13, 2019 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Georgia college students burn the books of a Latina author




CNN reports on a troubling incident at Georgia Southern University.  Students burned the books of a Cuban-American author on a grill following a lecture in which she argued with participants about white privilege and diversity. Jennine Capó Crucet visited the campus in Statesboro on Wednesday to discuss her 2015 novel, "Make Your Home Among Strangers," which students were assigned to read for their First Year Experience course.  Multiple videos on social media show students gathered around a grill burning copies of Capó Crucet's novel and laughing.


Click here for more on this controversy.


October 12, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tennis Star picks Japanese citizenship to play at Tokyo 2020: Two-time Grand Slam-winner has began steps to choose Japanese citizenship with the aim of playing at Tokyo 2020



The Olympic Channel reports that two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka intends to play for Japan at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games by choosing Japanese nationality.

Born in Osaka to a Japanese mother and a father from Haiti, the 21-year-old currently holds dual nationality with both Japan and the United States, having grown up in New York.  She turns 22 on October 16, the age at which Japanese law obliges dual-nationality citizens to choose one.  Osaka shared with a Japan's national broadcasting organization that she has started proceedings to choose Japanese citizenship.

Osaka has lived in the United States since she was three years old.  She came to prominence at the age of sixteen when she defeated former US Open champion Samantha Stosur in her WTA Tour debut at the 2014 Stanford ClassicOsaka made her breakthrough in women's tennis in 2018, when she won her first WTA title at the Indian Wells Open. In September 2018, she won the US Open, defeating 23-time major champion Serena Williams in the final to become the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles tournament. She won her second Grand Slam title at the 2019 Australian Open.


October 12, 2019 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Nationwide Injunction in the Public Charge Case


Wendy Leguizamo, her husband, Jesus, and their 11-month-old son, Mario Fernando, take a picture together on Sept. 25, 2019, during a family trip to Villa Guerra, Mexico. Leguizamo, a U.S. citizen who lives in a Chicago suburb, has been repeatedly denied by the U.S. State Department from sponsoring her husband to emigrate to the U.S. because of new "public charge" rules implemented by the Trump administration. (Photo: Family Handout)


As Ming Chen blogged yesterday, a federal court has enjoined the Trump administration's public charge rule from going into effect.  The latest court ruling is getting much attention.  (See here, here, here).

The Trump administration has harshly criticized nationwide injunctions by "activist" judges.  In the public charge case, U.S. District Court Judge George Daniels issued a preliminary nationwide injunction.  After finding that the plaintiffs had established a likelihood of success on the merits, Judge Daniels specifically discussed the need for a nationwide injunction and concluded that one was necessary.  He noted the need for national uniformity on immigration matters and how a limited injunction could result in inconsistencies between implementation of the rule in different parts of the country.  The court further noted that the public charge rule had been challenged in nine different lawsuits in courts across the country.   If different courts issued inconsistent orders on th enew rule, immigrants' right to travel between the states might be infringed. 


October 12, 2019 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 11, 2019

Breaking News: Acting DHS Secretary McAleenan Resigns


Acting DHS Secretary McAleenan resigned today after six months in the position. The reasoning behind the decision, as reported in interviews for an article in the New Yorker, “was sixty per cent because he had achieved the mission objectives, and forty per cent because he had to avoid being branded as Trump’s border cop.” 

“I want to thank the President for the opportunity to serve alongside the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security. With his support, over the last 6 months, we have made tremendous progress mitigating the border security and humanitarian crisis we faced this year, by reducing unlawful crossings, partnering with governments in the region to counter human smugglers and address the causes of migration, and deploy additional border security resources,” he said in the statement.

McAleenan’s primary goal was reducing immigration to the U.S., a goal where he largely suceeded. McAleenan's border policies enlisted governments in Central America and Mexico in ramping up their own immigration enforcement and resulted in the number of immigrants apprehended at the southern border declining by sixty-three per cent as of September 2019.

McAleenan previously served in the Obama administration. He was the fourth person to lead the department in the Trump era and had extensive experience on immigration policy. The New Yorker describes him as "a technocrat and an institutionalist who had spent much of his career at Customs and Border Protection, a D.H.S. sub-agency. In his view, mass migration was a humanitarian crisis which threatened to overtake both D.H.S. resources and the asylum system writ large. It was a problem, he once told me, that partisan Washington was unable to address." 

Still, according to the New Yorker, unlike Trump or his chief adviser, Stephen Miller, McAleenan was never an anti-immigration ideologue.  He publicly opposed Trump’s decision to cut aid to Central America. He  took over the Department at a moment when more than a hundred thousand migrants were being apprehended at the border in a single month. He had been frustrated with a cadre of Trump’s appointments to senior immigration roles and recently told The Washington Post that he was struggling to control his department.

“Kevin McAleenan has done an outstanding job as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. We have worked well together with Border Crossings being way down. Kevin now, after many years in Government, wants to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector,” Trump said of his top immigration official.

The president said that he would name a new acting secretary next week. More coverage of this developing story here, here and to come.


October 11, 2019 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Children Translating for Parents

Mom & Daughter by Still Vision

The BBC has an interesting slice of life story about what it is like for young immigrants to serve as a translator for their parents. The stories are varied -- from translating drivers' ed courses to landlord-tenant disputes, doctors visits to banking.

The story about translating at the doctor's office really jumped out at me -- a child didn't know the word for "cyst," noting that she sometimes doesn't like to go to the doctor with her mother because "my mum's thing is really, really complicated."

It reminded me of another vignette from the talk on deaf immigrants I attended last month. The speakers told us about a deaf man who died because his only translator at the doctor's office was his daughter. And he was too embarrassed to tell her about his true symptoms and why he might be sick. He died of syphilis, which is actually quite treatable, if unbearably difficult to discuss with your doctor when mediated through your child.


October 11, 2019 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Breaking news: public charge rule enjoined

A federal court in New York today issued a national injunction to stop the DHS' new public charge rule from going into effect on October 15. Titled Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds, the rule would deny legal residency to immigrants who are likely to depend on public welfare, including cash assistance, food stamps, and housing assistance. Though public charge has been part of the immigration statute for years, the “public charge” regulation set new standards for determining who might become a public burden by expanding the preexisting definition.

Judge George B. Daniels of the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York said those potentially affected by the new regulation could suffer “irreparable harm” if it goes into effect. “The balance of equities and the interests of justice favor issuance of a preliminary injunction,” the judge wrote.

Immigration advocates and state attorneys general had condemned the rule, filing 260,000 comments in opposition prior to its publication and 8 lawsuits. The Justice Department is likely to appeal.

This rule is separate from President Trump's proclamation  to deny immigrant visas to those who cannot prove that they will either have health insurance or can afford to pay for their own health care, which was issued one week ago on October 4.

Public charge rule injunction

@AILANational @NYTimes @NPR


October 11, 2019 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Judge Will Block Trump Border Wall in New Ruling

From the Border Network for Human Rights

EL PASO, TX - Today, a Texas federal court ruled that President Trump’s proclamation of a national emergency along the Southern border violated federal law. The court declared that the president’s proclamation is invalid because it illegally sought to override Congress’s decision to not fund further border wall construction. The court invited the plaintiffs, El Paso County, Texas, and the Border Network for Human Right to propose terms for an injunction that would prevent the government from using funds to build border barriers that Congress specifically refused to authorize.


This lawsuit, which is unrelated to one brought in California challenging the president’s shuffling of Department of Defense funding streams to pay for his border wall, was brought on behalf of El Paso County, Texas, and the Border Network for Human Rights—an El Paso-based nonprofit dedicated to ensuring the participation of marginalized border communities and defending human and civil rights.


Kristy Parker, Counsel for Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan nonprofit which represented the plaintiffs, said: “Throughout history, democracies have been felled by overzealous leaders who sought to aggrandize their own powers under the banner of real or imagined ‘emergencies.’ Our Founders were wise enough to anticipate that danger and created a strong separation of powers to prevent that from happening here. Today’s ruling vindicates the Founders’ wisdom and confirms that the president is not a king, and that he cannot override Congress’s power to decide how to appropriate funds.


Stuart Gerson, former Acting U.S. Attorney General and co-counsel for the plaintiffs, said: “As someone who served in government under a Republican administration, I never imagined a Republican president would attempt to expand executive power this far by overriding the appropriations power that belongs to Congress. I hope today’s ruling will prompt Republicans in Washington to recommit to the checks and balances that have defined our Republic and protected our freedom.”


The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in February, after President Trump declared a national emergency and used that declaration to access funding for building a border wall that had been appropriated for other purposes. That declaration prompted a series of legal challenges. This is the first ruling on whether the emergency declaration itself was legally valid.


This case is also notable for the cross-ideological legal team behind it, and where it was filed. The legal team includes not only Protect Democracy, but also the Niskanen Center, a center-right policy think tank; former Acting U.S. Attorney General Stuart Gerson, a top aide to President George H.W. Bush and founding member of the conservative nonprofit Checks and Balances; Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, one of the nation’s leading constitutional law experts who represented Al Gore in Bush v. Gore; and the law firms Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP and O’Melveny & Myers LLP.


And whereas when the president issued the emergency declaration he predicted that “they will sue us in the Ninth Circuit,” this case was brought in the famously conservative Fifth Circuit. According to Gerson, that’s because “This is where our clients were harmed and it doesn’t take a liberal or a conservative to know that what the President has done would make Madison and Hamilton roll over in their graves -- it’s the most foundational aspect of our Constitution that Congress and not the President gets to appropriate funds.”


A prior ruling by a federal court in California temporarily enjoined the administration from constructing parts of the wall by using certain Department of Defense funds the administration claimed it could access without relying on emergency powers. That decision was put on hold by the Supreme Court, allowing construction using those funds to continue while that litigation proceeds.


In this case, the plaintiffs argued that the president’s national emergency declaration exceeded his powers both under statutory law and the Constitution, and that its mere issuance injured border communities. The court based its ruling on statutory grounds and did not reach the constitutional issues. As detailed in their complaint, President Trump declared the emergency after months of failed attempts to obtain additional funding for his border wall culminated in the longest U.S. government shutdown in history. He publicly acknowledged that there was no urgency, saying “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.” The administration then moved to transfer $8.1 billion for border wall construction efforts – $6.7 billion more than the $1.375 billion approved by Congress.


The Trump administration moved to dismiss the case, contending that while Congress denied the Department of Homeland Security authority to spend more than $1.375 billion on border wall construction, the president has the discretion, including through declaring a national emergency, to reprogram existing funds for those barriers. The administration’s central argument was that the president has unfettered and unreviewable authority to access military construction funds by declaring an “emergency” under the National Emergencies Act.


The administration’s position, had it been accepted, would have significantly weakened Congress's appropriations power by giving the president power to override appropriations decisions using the National Emergencies Act—unless Congress musters a veto-proof majority to disapprove. It also would have changed the presumption that the executive branch cannot spend money unless Congress specifically approves it, which would force Congress to anticipate and negate loopholes through which the executive branch might seek to spend government money.


Enveloped in this friction between executive and congressional powers were the border communities themselves. The plaintiffs asserted that the emergency declaration harmed them and their community by falsely characterizing the border region and the people who live there – many of whom are immigrants – as dangerous, and by jeopardizing business and tourism opportunities. The emergency declaration also redirected funds away from Fort Bliss, an economic engine in the region, and initiated construction that the majority of the community had opposed through their elected representatives.


This case highlights the danger that political scientists say is inherent in a president using emergency powers to pursue policy objectives. As Protect Democracy advisers and authors of “How Democracies Die,” Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky, warned in The New York Times, “National emergencies can threaten the constitutional balance even under democratically minded presidents like Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. But they can be fatal under would-be autocrats . . . Crises present such great opportunities for concentrating power that would-be autocrats often manufacture them . . . [T]hese developments should set off alarm bells. Our president is behaving like an autocrat.”


For more information about the case, visit EndTheEmergency.org.


The ruling and other case documents can be found at https://protectdemocracy.org/national-emergency-declaration/case-documents-national-emergency.



October 11, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (1)

White House: Activist Judicial Rulings Block the Administration From Enforcing Our Nation’s Immigration Laws


The White House continues to rail against "activist" courts issuing nationwide injunctions thwarting his immigration enforcement initiatives. The latest statement starts off as follows:

"BLOCKED FROM ENFORCING CONGRESSIONALLY ENACTED IMMIGRATION LAW: President Donald J. Trump is working tirelessly to restore enforcement of our immigration laws as enacted, but activist judicial rulings are restricting the Administration from following the plain text of Federal law.

One shocking judicial ruling after another has barred the Administration from enforcing the immigration laws passed by Congress.

Judicial decree after judicial decree has ordered the Administration to comply with the discretionary policies of previous administrations."

I am sure you get the gist.  Click the link above to read more.


October 11, 2019 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)