Archive | June, 2018

Republicans Are Lost on Family Separation

By Elaina Plott

In a press conference on Wednesday, the morning after President Donald Trump addressed House Republicans on immigration, Speaker Paul Ryan offered little clarity on the lower chamber’s path forward on family separations at the border.

Members are scheduled to vote on two pieces of immigration reform on Thursday, a development sparked in large part by moderate Republicans frustrated by their leadership’s inaction on the fate of Dreamers. But lawmakers now find themselves engulfed in yet another immigration-related controversy: In the last six weeks, as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal border crossings, over 2,000 immigrant children have been separated from their parents as they await prosecution.

As the crisis has spilled into public view, leadership has scrambled to amend their so-called “compromise” immigration bill to include a provision that would keep family units together during proceedings.

The only problem? This bill—which includes a special pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, a sticking point for many conservatives—probably won’t pass.

Reporters came to Ryan’s presser on Wednesday armed with questions about whether House leaders will introduce a standalone bill to address family separations, in the likely event comprehensive immigration reform fails. “We do not want families broken apart,” Ryan said. He wouldn’t, however, address a contingency plan head on, instead reiterating his optimism in leadership’s “very good compromise legislation.”

Across the Hill on the Senate side, however, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has introduced legislation that would require immigrant families to be kept together once apprehended, “absent aggravated criminal conduct or threat of harm to the children.” Cruz’s bill would also double the number of immigration judges to expedite asylum claims. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to offer an olive branch to Cruz last night, when he tweeted that he and “all of the members …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Family Separation Is the Essence of Trumpism

By Adam Serwer

At least 2,000 children have now been forcibly separated from their parents by the United States government. Their stories are wrenching. Antar Davidson, a former youth-care worker at an Arizona shelter, described to the Los Angeles Times children “huddled together, tears streaming down their faces,” because they believed that their parents were dead. Natalia Cornelio, an attorney with the Texas Human Rights Project, told CNN about a Honduran mother whose child had been ripped away from her while she was breastfeeding. “Inside an old warehouse in South Texas, hundreds of children wait in a series of cages created by metal fencing,” the Associated Press reported. “One cage had 20 children inside.”

In some cases, parents have been deported while their children are still in custody, with no way to retrieve them. John Sandweg, a former director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told NBC News that some of these family separations will be permanent. “You could be creating thousands of immigrant orphans in the U.S. that one day could become eligible for citizenship when they are adopted,” he said.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly blithely assured NPR in May that “the children will be taken care of—put into foster care or whatever.” The administration’s main focus is not the welfare of the children, as much as the manner in which breaking up families at the U.S.-Mexico border could send a message to other migrants fleeing violence or persecution. Kelly defended the policy as a “tough deterrent.”

The crisis, to the extent that one exists, is of the administration’s own making. The people fleeing to the U.S. border are a threat neither to American economic prosperity nor to public safety, there is not a great surge of border crossers requiring an extreme response. There …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Clinical Case for Keeping Families Together

By Charlie Baily

In April, the Trump administration announced that anyone caught crossing into the United States illegally at the southwestern border would be referred for criminal prosecution. When adults are detained, their children are separated from them and sent into government custody or foster care. Since then, over 2,000 children have been separated from their parents in this way.

What happens to the children when they are stripped from their parents? For the past 10 years, we have been investigating the lives and mental-health needs of unaccompanied immigrant children living in New York City while they await deportation hearings. Our research has focused on youth who arrive in the United States as unaccompanied minors, but many of its lessons apply to those purposefully separated from their parents as well, and give some idea of the harms now being deliberately inflicted on these children. In particular, our findings demonstrate unequivocally the importance of family in their lives: Separation from parents does not just cause discomfort and distress; it places tremendous psychological stress on children, compounds the harm caused by other migration adversities, and denies them vital emotional support at a hugely vulnerable moment, often leading to clinically significant anxiety, depression, traumatic stress, and other psychological disorders.

A growing scientific literature is identifying the multitude of stressors to which migrant children from Central America are exposed, whether with or without their parents: victimization in their home countries by gangs who have turned the region into one of the most violent in the world; a perilous journey north along migration routes patrolled by the same gangs who have hounded them from their home countries; detention in frequently inhumane conditions upon their arrival in the United States; and an agonizing period of limbo while they await adjudication of their immigration cases. Each successive traumatic experience increases children’s …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Enforce the Border—Humanely

By David Frum

From Laura Bush to Rosalyn Carter, from elected representatives to past high government officials, outrage is the mood of the moment, perhaps more than at any time since the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election.

The Trump administration’s border policies and his dehumanizing rhetoric about immigrants, whether illegal or not, have triggered this incandescent reaction. Concentration-camp comparisons have transited from Twitter—their usual home—to cable TV and the halls of Congress. CNN’s pollster reports that most Americans—67 percent of those surveyed—disapprove of family separation. Apart from a few cable-news talkers who earn their livings from incitement, the administration’s usual defenders have gone AWOL. (Newt Gingrich, where are you?) The president himself has denied responsibility for his own policy, insisting he “hates” it—and that he is merely executing a law imposed on him by Democrats and the Bush administration. Those tasked with executing the policy are signaling their discomfort to the media.

The administration hopes that it is on the verge of a mighty legislative victory, in which it will at last compel Congress to act to regularize the border. But it looks now at least as likely that President Trump’s nerve will snap before Congress can coalesce.

Donald Trump was elected in great part because of the crisis on the border in 2014 and 2015. In 2014, almost 70,000 unaccompanied minors and nearly 70,000 parents with children showed up on the U.S. southern border to claim asylum inside the United States. Almost all came from Central America. These border crossers gambled that they would be allowed to stay in the United States, and that gamble largely proved successful. In 2014, the United States deported just three children to their countries of origin for every 100 it apprehended. When Trump promised a wall on the border, this was the problem …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Tucker Carlson Is Hurting America Again

By Conor Friedersdorf

Last week, Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson, or else the eponymous populist demagogue that he plays on TV, declared on Tucker Carlson Tonight, “If you’re looking to understand what’s actually happening in this country, always assume the opposite of whatever they’re telling you on the big news stations.”

He has previously hosted TV shows on CNN, MSNBC, and PBS.

While not uncharacteristic of the flagrantly illogical pandering regularly broadcast on his current show, Carlson’s comment proved to be particularly controversial, prompting a sharp rebuke from comedian Seth MacFarlane, creator of the hit Fox-owned series The Family Guy, who tweeted, “In other words, don’t think critically, don’t consult multiple news sources, and in general, don’t use your brain. Just blindly obey Fox News. This is fringe shit, and it’s business like this that makes me embarrassed to work for this company.”

Steve Levitan, creator of Modern Family, the hit sitcom produced by a division of the company that owns Fox News, piled on, writing, “I’m disgusted to work at a company that has anything whatsoever to do with Fox News. This bullshit is the opposite of what #Modern Family stands for.” Judd Apatow urged other Fox executives and show-runners to speak up in opposition to its infotainment arm.

The kerfuffle is interesting in part because those critics are among the rare Hollywood power-brokers with appeal that extends beyond liberals and progressives—on Adam Carolla’s popular right-leaning podcast, for instance, Modern Family, Apatow, and MacFarlane are all praised as regularly as is Carlson.

But it is most noteworthy, at least among Carlson observers, for its jarring dissonance with what the commentator told America about the news media before his latest reinvention: He warned that the consequences are dire if a people charged with self-government loses confidence in mainstream sources of information.

To quote him:

In a democracy, it is …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The National Outrage Over Immigration Is Beginning to Get to Trump

By Elaina Plott

President Donald Trump on Tuesday evening addressed House Republican lawmakers on immigration, only to leave the conference with members grappling with the same issues as before.

For House GOP leadership, it was nothing short of a victory.

Speaker Paul Ryan had invited Trump to meet with the conference in the hopes the president would rally skeptics behind the leadership’s so-called “compromise” bill on immigration, scheduled to reach the floor as early as Thursday. There was no expectation, of course, that Trump would change hearts and minds about the substance of the bill. Rather, leadership saw the president as their only hope for giving conservatives cover to vote for what many of them have referred to as “amnesty lite.”

Yet as is traditional with this freewheeling president, the goalposts had changed just before the meeting. As recently as this morning, Trump told lawmakers that he was dissatisfied with leadership’s proposal, according to multiple Republican sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to be frank. Which meant that Ryan and his ilk had gone from hoping that Trump would give their bill his full-throated endorsement, to praying that he wouldn’t rip it to shreds.

“The president was very firm in explaining why it’s so important that he gets this bill to his desk, so we can solve some major problems,” Majority Whip Steve Scalise told reporters after the meeting.

Based on conversations with multiple lawmakers during and after the meeting, Trump’s address—in which he hopped from “topic to topic,” according to one senior GOP source, including taxes, healthcare, and North Korea—did not necessarily move leadership any closer to the 218 votes they need to pass the bill. Yet the president hadn’t panned the bill—and that alone was worth celebrating.

The fact that House leaders deemed the meeting a …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Hagin Out

By Elaine Godfrey

-Written by Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey)

Today in 5 Lines

  • President Trump again defended his administration’s “zero tolerance” policy ahead of a meeting with Republicans on Capitol Hill Tuesday evening to discuss immigration.

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that his Republican colleagues support legislation to end the practice of separating families at the border, adding that a bill “would need to be a narrow agreement to fix the problem we all agree needs to be fixed.”

  • Joe Hagin, the White House deputy chief of staff for operations who led the planning for Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has resigned.

  • UN Ambassador Nikki Haley announced that the U.S. will withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council.

  • Voters in the nation’s capital are heading to the polls for the D.C. primary election, where the mayor, attorney general, and several lawmakers are up for reelection. Polls close at 8 p.m. ET.

Today on The Atlantic

  • A Troll Succeeds: Reports about children being separated from their parents at the border have prompted online outrage and even protests. That’s exactly what Stephen Miller wants. (McKay Coppins)

  • How Did the GOP Get Here?: The party that is supposed to stand for family values is defending a government agency separating children from their parents, writes Bethany Mandel.

  • The Happiness Gap: A new mental-health study found that as rich Americans have gotten happier since the 1990s, low-income Americans saw decreases in positive feelings and life satisfaction. (Olga Khazan)

  • Inside a Mass Trial: Under the Trump administration’s new policy to prosecute illegal immigrants, large-scale criminal hearings have become the norm. (Russell Berman)


First lady Melania Trump sits on a couch surrounded by reporters as she participates in a meeting with President Trump, Spain’s King Felipe VI, and Queen Letizia in the Oval Office. Susan …read more

Via:: <a href= class="colorbox" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Hagin Out” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic



Celebrating Juneteenth in a Moment of Peril

By Vann R. Newkirk II

Across most of the reaches of the United States, the originally Texan holiday of Juneteenth is ascending in importance as a national commemoration of the emancipation of American slaves. The practices are fittingly patchwork. There are parades, symbolic baptisms, cookouts, family reunions, spades games, durag festivals, and nighttime vigils at churches. Different communities’ celebrations of emancipation are a bit like quilts, stitched together from patches of the past and present, the things carried and the things hoped for, built from cherished achievements and scraps alike. No two pieces are the same, but all that matters in the end is the warmth.

This Juneteenth, circumstances conspire to make one piece of that patchwork all the more prominent. Perhaps more so than at any time in the recent past, there is a contemporary uncertainty about the pillars of citizenship that have supported black aspiration in America. Voting rights and the continued place of the Voting Rights Act are uniquely imperiled. The promise of true ownership in society is in some places no closer than it was 50 years ago. In every cross-section of class and age, black people in the country appear increasingly anxious about their status. Juneteenth is a celebratory holiday, and there is much to celebrate, but its growing prominence seems to have more to do with insecurity than with victory.

The animating spirit of Juneteenth is well encapsulated by James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing.” “We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,” Johnson wrote. “Out from the gloomy past / Till now we stand at last / Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.” The song is at once brutal and intrinsically hopeful. Johnson’s lyrics recall the grand exodus of the Israelites, recounting the attrition of slavery and …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



‘Zero Tolerance’ Inside a South Texas Courtroom

By Russell Berman

MCALLEN, Tex.—There wasn’t a single empty seat among the six rows of wooden pews in Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker’s courtroom here on Monday afternoon.

The gallery was packed, its visitors jammed shoulder to shoulder, as if the public had crowded in to witness a momentous ruling or, perhaps, a celebrity trial. But the people who occupied these seats in the back of the courtroom were no mere observers—they were the defendants themselves. All 85 of them were immigrants charged with the same crime: illegal entry into the United States, a misdemeanor. Each of them, the government said, had waded, swam, or rafted across the Rio Grande and over the Southern border in violation of the law.

White school buses transported the immigrants to the courthouse from a nearby detention facility and back after the hearing. They appeared to be wearing clothes they had on when they were detained two or three days before, though without belts or shoelaces. Many of them—though not all—were shackled with leg chains or handcuffs, or both. Azalea Aleman-Bendiks, the assistant public defender representing all 85 in Monday afternoon’s hearing, told Hacker that 20 of them—just shy of one-quarter—had entered the country with children whose ages ranged from 17 years to as young as 20 months.

“Your honor,” Aleman-Bendiks said, “these parents have not been provided any information on the whereabouts of their children.”

Hacker couldn’t tell them where their kids were, either.

An influx of border-crossers is nothing new for this growing city about an hour’s drive from Texas’s southeastern tip. The Rio Grande Valley was ground zero for the surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America who arrived in 2014, and the river that separates the U.S. from Mexico is a regular, if illegal, point of entry for immigrants seeking asylum or looking for economic opportunity, as …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Purgatory at the Border

By Jeremy Raff

MATAMOROS, Mexico—When drug traffickers shot Wayner Berduo seven times last year, they didn’t stop there. The men nearly beat him to death with their pistol grips, police reports say. One bullet pierced Berduo’s eye socket, so after the attack, surgeons removed his left eye and stitched back together his face and his right arm, which now hangs limply by his side.

For days, Berduo has waited hours at a time in the long line of day-trippers, shoppers, and commuters headed for Brownsville, Texas. When I met him, he was clutching a plastic bag of medications he hoped to bring with him—if the agents at the front of the line ever allowed him to legally enter the U.S. to apply for asylum protection. So far, they have not.

Like hundreds of others stuck at the border in recent weeks, Berduo stands in a kind of purgatory spanning the Rio Grande. Agents have repeatedly turned him around, telling him to “wait in Mexico” and check back every few hours. I watched as they turned him back for the 20th time in four days, the agents explaining that they didn’t have enough room in the port of entry to process Berduo.

The United States government has separated more than 2,300 children from their parents at the border since May, a tactic that top officials in the Trump administration have described as a form of deterrence. Delaying asylum seekers on the bridge appears to be part of this larger effort. Fleeing dangerous conditions to seek refuge in America is getting more difficult for people like Wayner. Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned more than a decade of jurisprudence to rule that asylum claims based on gang violence or domestic abuse generally will not qualify.

The Trump administration …read more

Via:: The Atlantic