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Saturday, August 11, 2018


Les misérables riche

by Tom Sullivan

Justice was never blind here. But if any administration could make justice more of a sham, it is this one.

President Donald Trump's anti-immigrant shock troops have branched out from targeting the undocumented. US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna in June established a “denaturalization task force” to reexamine the applications of naturalized citizens for discrepancies that might justify stripping Americans of their citizenship and deporting them.

White House senior adviser Stephen Miller has drafted a plan for limiting on the pettiest of pretexts the number of immigrants allowed legal status each year:

Details of the rulemaking proposal are still being finalized, but based on a recent draft seen last week and described to NBC News, immigrants living legally in the U.S. who have ever used or whose household members have ever used Obamacare, children's health insurance, food stamps and other benefits could be hindered from obtaining legal status in the U.S.
Franklin Foer's September article in The Atlantic precipitated his "Fresh Air" interview with Terry Gross this week. Beginning with its impact on a community of Mauritanian transplants clustered along the fatefully named Refugee Road in Columbus, Ohio, "How Trump Radicalized ICE" focuses on Immigration and Customs Emforcement's culture, its mission, and its un-American-sounding mandate.

"It’s one thing for a city to require cops to issue a minimum number of parking tickets," Foer writes. "It’s another for the federal government to proscribe a daily goal for the number of human beings it will deprive of liberty."

A 2009 appropriations provision added by the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia required ICE to "maintain a level of not less than 33,400 detention beds." ICE treated the mandate for beds as a prisoner quota during the Obama administration until Congress removed it last year. The sitting president's Justice Department in its xenophobic zeal has nonetheless outstripped the limits of the previous "quota."

Under the Trump regime, undocumented immigrants like the Mauritanians of Refugee Road face a crackdown. Their presence for nearly two decades was overlooked or (in Gross's phrasing) given a pass:
FOER: So it's - in 1986, Ronald Reagan passed an amnesty. There had been millions of undocumented immigrants in the country, and he gave them a pathway to citizenship. And since 1986, both political parties have professed faith in their belief in something called comprehensive immigration reform where they would enter into a grand bargain where they would trade tougher immigration enforcement in exchange for amnesty of the large and growing population of undocumented immigrants in the country. But despite that consensus, our political system has been broken. And it has been unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform. And so the number of undocumented immigrants just built up over time.

The Congress basically expressed its hope that they would become citizens by passing these measures but never getting them to the president's desk for signature. And we just kind of let this population drift. Some of them had orders for deportation. Some of them never went through an immigration court. But we gave them our tacit approval. And so now you have 11 million undocumented people in this country. Two-thirds of them have been here for over a decade.

And so, yes, we've given them tacit permission, and that's what makes the Trump administration so disturbing. There had been this consensus that they could stay. They rooted themselves within our communities. They made long-term investments in becoming Americans. They opened up businesses. They bought houses. They amassed 401(k)s. They raised children who are U.S. citizens. And so they felt like they were Americans. By all measures, they were Americans. They are Americans.

GROSS: And now they're outlaws.
The irony drips.

These refugees, these asylum seekers who fled to these shores took risks, started businesses, paid taxes and salaries, contributed to their communities, and invested themselves and in this country what fortunes they gleaned from their labors. Yet Trump, Miller, and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions's Department of Justice target them for slow-motion ethnic cleansing over statutory infractions that victimize no one, or for the crime of obtaining a few dollars worth of subsidized food and medicine.

Let's contrast their taste of American justice with that accorded others whose predations touched the entire planet.

I speak of the mortgage-backed securities wizards who brought the world economy to its knees in 2008.

Their fraud and reckless greed destroyed household wealth estimated in the trillions and put millions of Americans out of work. In response, American taxpayers subsidized bailouts to the tune of trillions more. Bank CEOs and executives received taxpayer-subsidized seven- and eight-figure golden parachutes and bonuses.

Their banks then turned around and committed serial perjury and fraud in court proceedings foreclosing on homes to which they lacked clear title. The banks used fraudulent, robo-signed affidavits to foreclose on millions of homeowners and throw families into the streets.

Not one Wall Street CEO went to jail for the devastation their companies' illegal actions caused. At most, the companies paid fines.

But refugees who received a subsidized loaf of bread or fudged asylum applications? Trump's America sics Inspector Javert on them with extreme prejudice.

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For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.