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Owning a Government Shutdown to Own the Libs

For my once-in-a-while dabble in national politics, I’d like to offer a point related to a Los Angeles Times column that appeared in the Fall River Herald:

When Washington braces for a potential government shutdown, the usual ritual is that Republicans and Democrats will posture over who will get blamed.

President Donald Trump, however, made it clear Tuesday morning that he will be the one shutting down the government if Congress doesn’t provide money for the bigger, more expansive wall he has promised to build along the southern U.S. border.

Of course, we have to acknowledge that Donald Trump appears to make this sort of decision off the cuff, and it isn’t (let’s just say) at all clear that it’s part of some master strategy.  But, you know, these moves — when he blows up the etiquette  of Washington — sometimes work, and not only his base, but also many conservatives outside his base, like that he’s dispensing with the illusions.

The news media would have made sure that President Trump owned a shutdown anyway.  In the column quoted above, Jon Healey insists that previous shutdowns had to do with “big, important issues,” like the Dreamers and Obamacare.  One can dispute that Dreamers (certainly) were any more objectively important than a wall, but their issue was certainly more important to the mainstream media, which worked diligently to blame the shutdown on Congressional Republicans, rather than President Obama.

In short, the side that opposes the Democrats always “owns the shutdown.”  Whether Republicans are blocking new initiatives or pushing them, the reportage is unified in decrying their intransigence, while the Democrats merely want to keep the government working.

Having dispensed with the kabuki, Trump can attack the issues head on without getting caught up in the weaselly business of trying to avoid responsibility.  We’ll see if those of us who’ve urged that sort of attitude in the past were correct, but the willingness of a politician to dispense with the games is refreshing.

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Examples from ICE’s Arrest List

None of the examples from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of recent illegal immigrant arrests in New England are from Rhode Island:

•In Lynn, Massachusetts, a 67 year-old national of Brazil who is wanted in Brazil for aggravated murder was arrested.
•In Putnam, Connecticut, a 59-year old national of Brazil who is wanted for murder in Brazil, a crime alleged to have been committed by casting a net over the victim and stabbing the victim 20 times, was arrested.
•In Methuen, Massachusetts, a 23- year old national of the Dominican Republic who had assumed the identity of a U.S. citizen with prior convictions for drug trafficking, identity theft, and resisting arrest, who is facing current pending drug trafficking charges.
•In Brockton, Massachusetts, a 41-year old national of France with previous convictions for cocaine possession and multiple instances of assault and battery whose history also includes 30 adult arrangements with arrestsfor kidnapping, assault and battery with a deadly weapon, domestic violence and other felony charges.
•In Windham, New Hampshire, a 44 year old national of Brazil wanted in Brazil for smuggling/embezzlement of firearms who had assumed the identity of a U.S. citizen, was arrested.
•In Hyannis, Massachusetts, a 41-year old Jamaican national convicted of possession of 28-100 grams of cocaine was arrested.
•In Dorchester, Massachusetts, a 40 year old national of the Dominican Republic with convictions for cocaine trafficking and money laundering was arrested.

The press release notes that 15 of the 58 individuals “were previously released from local law enforcement custody, correctional facilities and/or court custody with an active detainer.”  That was the case with the Rhode Island example from a similar press release in September:

On Sept. 20, ICE arrested a 27-year old illegally-present citizen of Guatemala in Cranston, Rhode Island, who had recently been convicted of aggravated domestic assault, who was the subject of a previous detainer request from ICE that had not been honored by local authorities. He will remain in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.

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On Immigration, May We Reason in the Face of Emotion?

Richard August recently sent a letter to the editor of the Newport Daily News expressing a view that I’m not sure is permitted in Rhode Island:

The Border Patrol separates children under four conditions:

  • There is a suspicion that the adult is not the child’s parent.
  • There are indications of child abuse.
  • The adult has a record or is wanted for a felony here or in another country.
  • The parent(s) claiming political asylum.

To most rational people this seems reasonable. To the emotional left, it is horrific that there are about 2,500 kids separated from the adult who entered this country illegally with them.

I wonder how many people could put a number of children who’ve fallen into each group.  The news coverage and the subsequent political rhetoric absolutely gives the impression that almost all are in the last, which is the one in which separation is more a side-effect than a first order policy.

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Whitewashing the Radicals to Make Them Representative

The headline to John Hill’s Providence Journal article alerts readers to the bias: “R.I. joins voices against separating families.”  In the view of the state’s major daily, these few hundred protesters represent the state.

With that as the underlying assumption, I suppose it isn’t surprising that Hill sanitizes the event so to make it palatable for those who aren’t as radical.  The only hint comes with this:

[Aarish Rojiani, of AMOR, the Alliance to Mobilize our Resistance,] added that it was no coincidence that the demonstration was held across the street from the ACI: Law-enforcement policies also separate families, he said.

For the real story, turn to comprehensive coverage from the progressive UpriseRI.  What Rojiani really meant when talking to the Providence Journal is that they want to end incarceration — that is, prisons.  Not only that, but these supposed representatives of Rhode Island want to get rid of borders and nations altogether.  That wasn’t just the view of fringe sign makers; a cheat sheet of chants that the organizers handed out puts “No borders, no nations! Stop attacking migration” as the very first one.  (Note that it’s not “immigration,” even though the rhythm begs for the extra syllable; they think our borders are illegitimate.)

And so it goes.  When conservatives rally, the mainstream narrative presents us as strange, extremist creatures.  When radicals rally, the mainstream narrative whitewashes their extremity to make them seem like the voice of goodness.

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The Governor’s Brief Walk on the Tightrope of “Tolerance”

Perhaps it’s misplaced to take too seriously Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling, today, acknowledging the authority of the President of the United States to set immigration policy within the boundaries of the Constitution and federal law.  Still, I think something telling in this paragraph is worth brief consideration:

“Rhode Island was founded on the idea that freedom of worship is an inherent human right. I’m disappointed that the Supreme Court sided in favor of President Trump’s immoral and unnecessary Muslim ban. Our state has always been strengthened by the contribution of immigrants. It’s now more important than ever that we show the world that there’s a place for everyone in Rhode Island. No matter your race, where you’re from, your immigration status or who you love-you are welcome here.”

First observe the illogic:  The statement begins by referring to “freedom of worship,” which has nothing to do with this case.  The Trump administration is not seeking immigration restrictions because the immigrants will come here to worship.  It is not seeking to screen travelers based on their religion, rather than the countries from which they’re traveling, or to prevent worship once they’re here, but rather to prevent terrorism.

Now fast-forward to the end.  Raimondo notes that “there’s a place for everyone in Rhode Island,” elaborating that the categories applying to that assertion are race, country of origin, the legality of one’s presence in the country, and sexual orientation.  Note what’s missing.

Yes, yes, I’m tempted to quip that Raimondo — who uses her government office to discriminate against school boys in an official annual contest — doesn’t mention biological sex, perhaps because men aren’t necessarily welcome.  But more to the point, see how she’s dropped that “freedom to worship” thing?

Of course, I sympathize with the challenge that she faced in writing this statement.  She could have reinforced the “freedom of worship” point by welcoming people “no matter what God or gods they follow, or if they don’t believe in God at all,” but that would have been clunky.  She could have welcomed people “no matter what you beliefs,” but what about people who believe in outrageous things like the Second Amendment and the traditional definition of marriage, let alone the humanity of children prior to birth?

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The Mysterious Missing Context in Immigrant Fake ID Story

Ever notice that articles like this one from Katie Mulvaney in the Providence Journal never put the arrest in the context of larger debates about immigration and vote fraud or quote the people who are always trying to raise awareness of those issues?

A Mexican national living in Providence stands accused of creating and selling phony immigration cards using stolen Social Security numbers and other personal identification, authorities say. …

Investigators arranged for a cooperating informant to purchase false permanent resident, or green cards, and Social Security cards from Aguilar for $100, authorities allege.

Federal prosecutors said that ICE agents found $27,000 cash in Aguilar’s first-floor apartment, as well as five laptops, equipment used to produce documents and several fake immigration documents.

Hmmm… $100 a pop and $27,000 in cash lying around.

If you really want a head scratcher, though, read to the end, when U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia Sullivan says she’d have let Eufemio Aguilar — who came to the United States in the 1980s and still doesn’t speak English — out on bail if it weren’t for a detainer issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  Flight risk?  What flight risk?

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International Gangsters in the Land of the Government Plantation

In 2015, I presented Lawrence, Massachusetts, as a cautionary tale of the government-plantation economic model.  Just as industrialists once attempted to draw in foreign labor to the “company town” because it was less expensive, the local government is turning the city into a “government town,” whose main source of income is transfer payments from outside to pay for government services.

Consequently, this recent Boston Globe article caught my eye:

The federal government’s relentless assault on the feared MS-13 street gang in Greater Boston continued this week, with two members of the violent outfit admitting to their roles in the 2015 slaying of a 16-year-old boy in Lawrence, authorities said.

True, immigrant gangs are nothing new to the United States, and homegrown gangs certainly exist.  Still, tracing the arrival of an international criminal enterprise is a necessary task, and one needn’t indulge too much in speculation to propose that using immigration to bolster the population in need of government services leaves a region vulnerable to this sort of invasion.

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Maybe with Compromise Something Like This Wouldn’t Happen

The story of the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) detention of Lilian Calderon has been difficult to understand, and this information, as Caroline Goggin and Sarah Doiron report for WPRI doesn’t help much:

An affidavit submitted by ICE officials Wednesday listed three reasons for Calderon’s detainment:

  • ICE beleived her 2002 order of removal rendered her a flight risk
  • According to ICE, there was a “lack of child care issues” for her two young children
  • ICE said there was the availability of bed space at their detention facility in Boston

I suppose there may be some private detail in one of the first bullets that would cast the story in a different light, but whatever it might be, it would have to overcome a policy preference not to punish people for trying to do the right thing.

Of course, polarization of this issue probably contributes to our inability to formulate a more-reasonable set of laws.  Pro-immigration advocates have incentive not to act on areas of agreement because then they’d lose leverage for their more-radical agenda.  That leaves agents trying to enforce laws that could easily be tweaked to ensure that this sort of thing wouldn’t happen.

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Returning Reasonableness to Immigration-Welfare Enforcement

This, as Robert VerBruggen presents it on National Review Online, certainly seems reasonable:

Trump plans to better enforce the federal law saying that immigrants can’t come — and can’t get permanent residency or a new visa status if they’re already here — if they’re likely to become a “public charge.”

Basically, the proposal would broaden the public welfare programs that would count as, umm, public welfare programs when determining whether to accept or extend the stay of immigrants to this country.  For those already here, more than six months of reliance on welfare programs would count against one in the application process — not as a decisive on/off switch, but as a consideration.  Currently being over 250% of the official poverty line (which basically upper-working to lower-middle class) would erase the “strike.”

It’s one thing to have more or less open borders when a person’s presence in a country doesn’t legally obligate others to provide support.  With an expansive welfare state, a country has to reassess.

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Cicilline Reinforces the Suspicions That Elected Trump

In the Bonus Q&A of a recent Rhode Island Public Radio Political Roundtable, Democrat Congressman David Cicilline responded to a question by RIPR commentator Scott MacKay in a way that affirms the suspicions that many of us have had about the thinking of federal politicians, especially on immigration and especially among Democrats.  MacKay asked, “Would you be willing to appropriate federal money to build Trump’s wall in exchange for taking care of the Dreamers?”  Cicilline responded as follows (emphasis added):

You know, the proposal that Senator Schumer put before the president, that he has now withdrawn is something that I think it would be challenging for most Democrats to support. I support border security. I think that will obviously mean repairing some of the existing wall, maybe building some fences. It ought to be done in a smart, efficient, effective way. The president’s own chief of staff said a wall is not the way to secure our border. So, it’s probably not the best way to go forward.

Although, Louis Gutierrez said the other day: We ought to vote for the wall, take care of the Dreamers and then when we get back into the majority, in November, we can repeal the wall. That’s not a bad strategy.

As the recent cliché goes, this is why we got Trump.  Part of the reason that immigration has become such a challenging issue is that the political Right has known for decades, now, that any deal must implement the stronger security that they seek before any of the laxity that the political Left wants can be done.  That’s because we know that any sort of amnesty or relief will be done immediately, and then the federal government will never get around to implementing greater security.  All that sequence does is send the message worldwide that the U.S. will ultimately bend its rules for people who can get here while leaving open the gaps to enter the country.

The lesson applies more broadly, too.  We know from experience, and now from Cicilline’s own words, that his party nationally is not interested in fair negotiation and good faith negotiations.  They have political objectives, and any promises, rules, and a sense of shared nationality are nothing in the face of those goals.

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So… Still No “REAL ID” In RI?

The Providence Journal has a small article on a procedural matter (Rhode Island receiving an extension to comply with federal standards for drivers’ licenses), but this paragraph is interesting:

In 2005, the federal government passed the REAL ID Act in response to the 9/11 terror attacks to establish minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. The act prohibits federal agencies, such as the Transportation Security Administration, from accepting licenses and identification cards for official purposes from states that do not meet certain standards. Those standards include requiring applicants to provide proof of identity and lawful status in the United States, and states to use counterfeit-resistant security features in the IDs.

So, do we know if the DMV is adequately checking identity and/or lawful immigration status?

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