Trump and Immigration

Column: The 'Shackles' Are Off

In his new US News column,“The 'Shackles' Are Off,” Simon examines the dangers of Trump's new immigration policies for all Americans not just immigrants.  

Be sure to also read Simon's recent column, "Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce"

An Excerpt from "The 'Shackles' Are Off"

"The details of DHS's implementation memos of the president's immigration executive orders deserve special attention. In a memo on new enforcement rules released in the past few days, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly gave his immigration officers total discretion to detain anyone without a warrant, who "in the judgment of an immigration officer ... pose a risk to public safety or national security." The memo wipes away the Obama era prioritization of criminals and recent border crossers, making every undocumented immigrant in the US a priority for deportation (which was the policy till Obama changed it in 2011).

In the daily White House briefing last week, Sean Spicer described this new authority as taking the "shackles off" DHS immigration officers, freeing them up to go round up any one they choose not burdened by Obama era priorities. Anticipating that DHS would conduct wide raids and sweeps in administration officials describe as an "enforcement surge," a second DHS memo had to put in writing that American citizens and green card holders should be released if detained. So to be clear here – the U.S. government is anticipating that DHS immigration agents will be so aggressive that it will be common for U.S. citizens to be swept up and detained in the coming months.

And we've seen this already. An entire plane full of people on a domestic U.S. flight had their IDs forcibly checked last week. Muhammad Ali Jr., the son of the famous boxer and a U.S. citizen, was detained at a U.S. airport for hours. A native-born citizen from Puerto Rica was held in custody for several days before proving his citizenship. What makes this process ever more threatening of course is that the most common American form of identification, a driver's license, does not prove citizenship or convey legal status. Neither native-born nor immigrant Americans typically walk around with their passport or birth certificate. This means that if a citizen is detained it is not easy to prove lawful presence here, and many citizens may end up being held for days. If this feels a bit Orwellian, it is."

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.

Trump and Immigration

Donald Trump and immigration are back in the news. We’ve assembled our most recent and most relevant work to help shine a light on a dark chapter.

NDN Materials

New immigration policies hurting tourism, disrupting US companies, breaking up families, Simon Rosenberg, Twitter Thread, 3/5/17. With the return of of the travel ban, Simon reminds us that WH's new immigration policies already hurting tourism, disrupting US companies, and breaking up families.

The 'Shackles' Are Off, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 3/3/17. Simon considers the dangers of Trump's new immigration policies for all Americans not just immigrants.

Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 2/21/17. Simon examines why potential blowback from Trump's immigration plan should worry Steve Bannon.

Trump's New Immigration Line is Consistent - Not Inconsistent - With His Arizona Speech, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 9/2/16. Trump made it clear: supersized deportation force, national round 'em raids, everyone leaves, no legalization ever. No way to wiggle out of that.

Key passages from Trump Immigration Speech, Chris Murphy, NDN.org, 9/2/16. Several passages from Trump's speech are critical to understanding what Trump actually means and has proposed as future US immigration policy. We have compiled the passages we believe demand closer scrutiny. 

Trump's Mass Deportation Strategy Explained, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 9/1/16. While there has been a great deal of confusion around Trump’s immigration wiggle and concepts like "mass deportation" in the past few weeks, his strategy towards the 11m and others here without authorization is very clear.

All They Have Is Fear Itself, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 11/23/15. The one upsmanship for who could be harder on Muslims we saw among Republican President candidates this past week was a powerful reminder that the GOP has long ceased being a “conservative” party and has descended into a far more pernicious “reactionary” period.

On Immigration Enforcement, The GOP's Decade of Blocking Sensible Reform, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 7/21/15. During the summer of 2015 we saw a breathtaking level of cynicism from the national Republican Party on the issue of immigration enforcement.

The state of immigration, Simon Rosenberg, MSNBC, 1/19/15. While the GOP’s latest rejection of immigration reform has dominated the headlines in recent weeks, the reality is that the United States is already undergoing a major societal shift as a result of significant Hispanic migration.

Questions About Melania's Immigration Path

4 Questions About Melania's Immigration Path That Still Need Answers, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 8/10/16. Weeks after the Melania Trump immigration story broke, 4 key questions we still need answered.

Video of Trump Promising Presser, Saying It Is "So Documented"

NDN in the Press

"Melania Turmp, through a lawyer, details immigration history," Ben Schreckinger and Gabriel Debenedetti, Politico, 9/14/16.

"Trump returns to his old standbys: Xenophobia, hate, lies, and yes, mass deportations," Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, 9/1/16.

"TRUMP doubles down -- 'Angry reincarnation of Pete Wilson' -- DIAPER vouchers and cap-and-trade bills," Carla Marinucci and Andrew Weber, Politico, 9/1/16.

"After Mexico trip, Trump delivers tough talk on immigration," John Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/31/16.

"Stop getting played by Trump's scam job on immigration," Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, 8/30/16.

Simon's interview on AM Joy, Joy Reid, MSNBC, 8/27/16 (Video)

"Trump's new ad indavertently reveals the core absurdity of his whole campaign," Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, 8/19/16.

Simon's Interviews

Could Arizona Be An Important Presidential Battleground in 2020, Mark Brodie, The Show, KJZZ 91.5, 8/25/17.

Some Getting Sense of Deja Vu With Trump's Policies, SB 1070, Mark Brodie, The Show, KJZZ 91.5 FM, 2/24/17.

Imagen News, Ana Maria Salazar, Imagen Radio, 2/21/17.

A selection of our work over the past few years on Trump and immigration. It includes fresh analysis looking at the new Trump executive orders.

Backgrounder: Trump and Immigration

Donald Trump and immigration are back in the news. We’ve assembled our most recent and most relevant work to help shine a light on a dark chapter.

NDN Materials

New immigration policies hurting tourism, disrupting US companies, breaking up families, Simon Rosenberg, Twitter Thread, 3/5/17. With the return of of the travel ban, Simon reminds us that WH's new immigration policies already hurting tourism, disrupting US companies, and breaking up families.

The 'Shackles' Are Off, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 3/3/17. Simon considers the dangers of Trump's new immigration policies for all Americans not just immigrants.

Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 2/21/17. Simon examines why potential blowback from Trump's immigration plan should worry Steve Bannon.

Trump's New Immigration Line is Consistent - Not Inconsistent - With His Arizona Speech, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 9/2/16. Trump made it clear: supersized deportation force, national round 'em raids, everyone leaves, no legalization ever. No way to wiggle out of that.

Key passages from Trump Immigration Speech, Chris Murphy, NDN.org, 9/2/16. Several passages from Trump's speech are critical to understanding what Trump actually means and has proposed as future US immigration policy. We have compiled the passages we believe demand closer scrutiny. 

Trump's Mass Deportation Strategy Explained, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 9/1/16. While there has been a great deal of confusion around Trump’s immigration wiggle and concepts like "mass deportation" in the past few weeks, his strategy towards the 11m and others here without authorization is very clear.

All They Have Is Fear Itself, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 11/23/15. The one upsmanship for who could be harder on Muslims we saw among Republican President candidates this past week was a powerful reminder that the GOP has long ceased being a “conservative” party and has descended into a far more pernicious “reactionary” period.

On Immigration Enforcement, The GOP's Decade of Blocking Sensible Reform, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 7/21/15. During the summer of 2015 we saw a breathtaking level of cynicism from the national Republican Party on the issue of immigration enforcement.

The state of immigration, Simon Rosenberg, MSNBC, 1/19/15. While the GOP’s latest rejection of immigration reform has dominated the headlines in recent weeks, the reality is that the United States is already undergoing a major societal shift as a result of significant Hispanic migration.

Questions About Melania's Immigration Path

4 Questions About Melania's Immigration Path That Still Need Answers, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 8/10/16. Weeks after the Melania Trump immigration story broke, 4 key questions we still need answered.

Video of Trump Promising Presser, Saying It Is "So Documented"

NDN in the Press

"Melania Turmp, through a lawyer, details immigration history," Ben Schreckinger and Gabriel Debenedetti, Politico, 9/14/16.

"Trump returns to his old standbys: Xenophobia, hate, lies, and yes, mass deportations," Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, 9/1/16.

"TRUMP doubles down -- 'Angry reincarnation of Pete Wilson' -- DIAPER vouchers and cap-and-trade bills," Carla Marinucci and Andrew Weber, Politico, 9/1/16.

"After Mexico trip, Trump delivers tough talk on immigration," John Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/31/16.

"Stop getting played by Trump's scam job on immigration," Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, 8/30/16.

Simon's interview on AM Joy, Joy Reid, MSNBC, 8/27/16 (Video)

"Trump's new ad indavertently reveals the core absurdity of his whole campaign," Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, 8/19/16.

Simon's Interviews

Some Getting Sense of Deja Vu With Trump's Policies, SB 1070, Mark Brodie, The Show, KJZZ 91.5 FM, 2/24/17.

Imagen News, Ana Maria Salazar, Imagen Radio, 2/21/17.

Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce

US News and World Report has published Simon's fourteenth column, "Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce," in his weekly Op-Ed series that will now appear every Tuesday.

This piece was the focus of a recent interview Simon did with KJZZ 91.5, the public radio station in Phoneix, AZ.

Be sure to also read his recent column, "Has Donald Trump Already Abandoned the Fight Against the Islamic State?"

An Excerpt from "Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce"

As the White House returns this week to immigration and travel bans, it would be wise for them to do a deep dive on the story of former Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce. Pearce was the legislative leader of Arizona's virulent anti-immigrant wave of a few years ago, culminating in his passing of the famous "papers please" SB1070 bill that became a model for states across the country. Pearce rode these politics hard, using it to become in 2011 the Arizona Senate president, the most powerful legislative position in Arizona.

The core of Pearce's strategy, aided by many of the same people advising Donald Trump, was to create a climate so harsh for undocumented immigrants that they would "self-deport." The anti-immigrant "restrictionists" behind this approach had moved on from seeking direct deportation of all 11 million undocumented immigrants, pragmatically realizing that the cost of direct deportation and the tolerance of Americans for what would be years of raids and broken families made deportation politically impossible. Arizona was the testing ground for this new, refined self-deportation strategy, one that at its core required the terrorizing of immigrant communities to be successful. The more fear, the faster the folks would go and the cheaper and more politically palatable this would all be. Fear, lots of fear, was (and remains) critical for self-deportation to work.

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.

Trump's New Immigration Line Is Consistent - Not Inconsistent - With His Arizona Speech

Yesterday, I released a detailed analysis of why what Donald Trump outlined in his Arizona immigration speech was mass deportation. Again, in the last 24 hours, he and his surrogates have attempted to muddy the waters. Here is a quick explanation for why what Trump said last night on Fox was consistent – not inconsistent – with the plan he spelled out on Wednesday.

The bottom line: Trump has eliminated legalization as an option for anyone who has ever entered the country illegally; said all 11m must leave the country with no exception; creates a massive unprecedented, ubiquitous, 24/7 deportation force; and even after all this if there is any undocumented immigrant left in the US he has said there is no chance for legalization or visa of any kind. So what exactly is there to “sit back and assess?” He has already forestalled anyone who has come in illegally doing anything other than leaving the country. Let’s review the key passages from his speech:

11m Must Leave, No Chance of Legalization Ever – “For those here today illegally who are seeking legal status, they will have one route and only one route: to return home.... Our message to the world will be this: you cannot obtain legal status, or become a citizen of the United States, by illegally entering our country.”
The offer from Trump is for families to quit their jobs, sell their homes/break their leases, remove their kids from school and return home to a country they no longer know w/o any guarantee of return. For most undocumented immigrations the wait to come back into the US will be at least 20 years. This is in effect forced removal.

All 11m Can Be Deported At Any Time – “But unlike this administration, no one will be immune or exempt from enforcement....Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation."

Establishment of Unprecedented, 24/7 Deportation Force – “There are at least 2 million criminal aliens now inside the country. We will begin moving them out day one, in joint operations with local, state and federal law enforcement. Beyond the 2 million, there are a vast number of additional criminal illegal immigrants who have fled or evaded justice. But their days on the run will soon be over. They go out, and they go out fast.

Moving forward, we will issue detainers for all illegal immigrants who are arrested for any crime whatsoever, and they will be placed into immediate removal proceedings. We will terminate the Obama Administration’s deadly non-enforcement policies that allow thousands of criminal aliens to freely roam our streets.
We will restore the highly successful Secure Communities program. We will expand and revitalize the popular 287(g) partnerships, which will help to identify hundreds of thousands of deportable aliens in local jails. ….The Davis-Oliver bill will enhance cooperation with state and local authorities to ensure that criminal immigrants and terrorists are swiftly identified and removed.

We are going to triple the number of ICE deportation officers. Within ICE, I am going to create a new special Deportation Task Force…..We’re also going to hire 5,000 more Border Patrol agents.”
Taken together this is a massive new, unprecedented national deportation force unlike anything seen in all of American history.

Conclusion – Trump’s plan is to create an unprecedented national, 24/7, deportation force by formally deputizing all federal, state and local law enforcement and adding significant new DHS capabilities in the immediate round up of several million people. At the same time, any undocumented immigrant will become once again a deportation priority. This means that while the new deportation force is rounding up the millions of “criminal aliens” any other undocumented immigrant may get caught up in the enforcement web and immediately deported. Finally, you will have been told by your government that you in fact must leave and there is no chance of you ever achieving legalization or a visa if you stay.

The strategy is that all of this taken together – the massive national raids; ubiquitous 24/7 deportation force; a universal removal order for all 11m, no chance of legalization or visa - will cause the rest of the undocumented population to “self-deport.” The expectation that there will be very few left after years of this effort (why Trump’s language last night on it taking a while was significant – a longer process will catch more non-criminals and is more threatening to those without criminal records); and that he has already said there is NO CHANCE anyone of them will get a visa or legalization.

So, again, how exactly he is being reasonable here? Suggesting a change in policy? What exactly will he have to “sit back and assess?”

 

Key Passages from Trump Immigration Speech

On Wednesday August 31st Donald Trump gave his highly anticipated immigration speech in Arizona after returning from a trip to Mexico with President Enrique Peña Nieo.  Several passages from the speech are critical to understanding what Trump actually means and has proposed as future US immigration policy.  We have compiled the passages we believe demand closer scrutiny.

Key Passages from Trump Immigration Speech 

Passage One

“For those here today illegally who are seeking legal status, they will have one route and only one route: to return home and apply for re-entry under the rules of the new legal immigration system that I have outlined above. Those who have left to seek entry under this new system will not be awarded surplus visas, but will have to enter under the immigration caps or limits that will be established.

We will break the cycle of amnesty and illegal immigration. There will be no amnesty. 

Our message to the world will be this: you cannot obtain legal status, or become a citizen of the United States, by illegally entering our country.....

......In a Trump administration all immigration laws will be enforced, will be enforced. As with any law enforcement activity, we will set priorities. But unlike this administration, no one will be immune or exempt from enforcement. And ICE and Border Patrol officers will be allowed to do their jobs the way their jobs are supposed to be done.

Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation. That is what it means to have laws and to have a country. Otherwise we don’t have a country."

Passage Two

"Number Three: Zero tolerance for criminal aliens.

According to federal data, there are at least 2 million criminal aliens now inside the country. We will begin moving them out day one, in joint operations with local, state and federal law enforcement.

Beyond the 2 million, there are a vast number of additional criminal illegal immigrants who have fled or evaded justice. But their days on the run will soon be over. They go out, and they go out fast.

Moving forward, we will issue detainers for all illegal immigrants who are arrested for any crime whatsoever, and they will be placed into immediate removal proceedings. We will terminate the Obama Administration’s deadly non-enforcement policies that allow thousands of criminal aliens to freely roam our streets.

Since 2013 alone, the Obama Administration has allowed 300,000 criminal aliens to return back into U.S. communities – these are individuals encountered or identified by ICE but who not detained or processed for deportation.

My plan also includes cooperating closely with local jurisdictions to remove criminal aliens.

We will restore the highly successful Secure Communities program. We will expand and revitalize the popular 287(g) partnerships, which will help to identify hundreds of thousands of deportable aliens in local jails. Both of these programs have been recklessly gutted by this Administration. This is yet one more area where we are headed in a totally opposite direction.

On my first day in office, I am also going to ask Congress to pass “Kate’s Law” – named for Kate Steinle – to ensure that criminal aliens convicted of illegal reentry face receive strong mandatory minimum sentences.

Another reform I am proposing is the passage of legislation named for Detective Michael Davis and Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver, two law enforcement officers recently killed by a previously-deported illegal immigrant. The Davis-Oliver bill will enhance cooperation with state and local authorities to ensure that criminal immigrants and terrorists are swiftly identified and removed.

We are going to triple the number of ICE deportation officers. Within ICE, I am going to create a new special Deportation Task Force, focused on identifying and removing quickly the most dangerous criminal illegal immigrants in America who have evaded justice.

The local police know who every one of these criminals are. There’s no great mystery to it, they’ve put up with it for years. And now, finally, we will turn the tables and law enforcement will be allowed to clear up this dangerous and threatening mess.

We’re also going to hire 5,000 more Border Patrol agents, and put more of them on the border, instead of behind desks. We will expand the number of Border Patrol Stations."

You can read Trump's full remarks here in a transcript from Politico.

Trump’s Mass Deportation Strategy Explained

While there has been a great deal of confusion around Trump’s immigration wiggle and concepts like "mass deportation" in the past few weeks, his strategy towards the 11m and others here without authorization is very clear: they all have to go, and he will ensure they do through an unprecedented expansion of the state’s power to round people up and deport them.

After Obama’s victory in 2008, the restrictionist movement pragmatically realized that its goal of outright forced removal of 11m (core to the 2005 House GOP "Sensenbrenner Bill") was no longer on the table.  They moved on to “attrition through enforcement” that would count on making the threat of deportation so ubiquitous and terrifying that undocumented immigrants would "self-deport."  This strategy was manifested in Arizona’s famous HB 1070 bill, other copy cats in states like GA and PA, and of course Mitt Romney’s own commitment to "self-deportation" in 2012.

It also explains the extraordinary demonization of President Obama for his 2011 Morton reforms that prioritized undocumented immigrants with criminal records for deportation.  By prioritizing criminals for deportation, DHS was also acknowledging that the other 10m or so undocumented immigrants without criminal records were no longer a target of our deportation machinery.  Without this imminent threat, there is no "self-deportation."  While obviously a smart use of limited resources, the 2011 Morton reforms also dealt an ideological death blow to the restrictionist movement.

These reforms were violently opposed by restrictionist leaders like Rep. Steve King.  In 2013, the House GOP passed the “King Amendment” which called from the rollback of the Morton reforms by name.  When the bi-partisan Senate bill came to the House in the fall of 2013, the central reason Republicans refused to take it up was the claim that these new sensible enforcement priorities were "lawless," and that the President couldn’t be trusted.  To be clear – the prioritization of criminals for deportation was the central reason the House used to walk away from the immigration reform debate in 2014.  In fact, the only immigration bill passed by the House in 2014 in response to the Senate bill was another version of the King Amendment, putting Paul Ryan and his colleagues on record for blocking legalization and the re-establishment of the ubiquitous 24/7 threat of deportation.

In Trump’s published immigration plan and in his remarks last night the Republican nominee goes even further – he calls for the deputization of all other federal, state and local law enforcement in the round ‘em up efforts. This would create a super sized, truly ubiquitous, 24/7 deportation force, far greater than what DHS offers today. The reporting by some that he has backed off mass deportation is just plain wrong. He made clear in Arizona last night that all 11m undocumented immigrants in the country would have to leave and return to their country of origin with no guarantee of return. This would require them to quit their jobs, sell their homes/break their leases, rip up families and return to a country they no longer know. For those from countries like Mexico with huge backlogs, the application process to re-enter could easily take 20-30 years. This is anything but humane, soft or even pragmatic.

The big innovation in the Trump plan is that he now uses the threat of "criminal aliens" – the same ones the restrictionists have fought from prioritization in recent years – as the impetus to construct his massive deportation force.  Once constructed it would of course catch non criminals in its net but most importantly it would establish the Orwellian immediate, imminent threat of deportation required to scare the rest of the 11m into "self-deporting."  The reason Trump and his team suggests they are open to figuring out what to do with those who remain (with no hope of legalization or special visa) is that they do not expect there to be any one who remains with him and his policies in place.

Finally, those commenting and reporting on Trump and immigration should stop taking the daily bait he is tossing out. He has made his choice.  The most hard core of the restrictionists – Sen. Sessions and Joe Arpaio – were on stage with him last night in Arizona.  Sessions even accompanied him to Mexico, something the Mexican government never should have allowed.  The speech he gave last night, and his already published immigration plan, are the most enthusiastic embrace of restrictionist politics by a major party leader in the last two generations of American politics.  There is no pivot, no wiggle, no softening – just the nasty, over the top embrace of some of the darkest impulses in American political life today. 

Believe me.

Further Reading

Greg Sargent, Washington Post, "Trump Returns to His Old Standbys: Xenophobia, Hate, Lies, and Yes, Mass Deportations"

Simon Rosenberg, NDN, "On Immigration Enforcement, The GOP's Decade of Blocking Sensible Reform"

Key Passages from Trump Immigration Speech

“For those here today illegally who are seeking legal status, they will have one route and only one route: to return home and apply for re-entry under the rules of the new legal immigration system that I have outlined above. Those who have left to seek entry under this new system will not be awarded surplus visas, but will have to enter under the immigration caps or limits that will be established.

We will break the cycle of amnesty and illegal immigration. There will be no amnesty. 

Our message to the world will be this: you cannot obtain legal status, or become a citizen of the United States, by illegally entering our country.....

......In a Trump administration all immigration laws will be enforced, will be enforced. As with any law enforcement activity, we will set priorities. But unlike this administration, no one will be immune or exempt from enforcement. And ICE and Border Patrol officers will be allowed to do their jobs the way their jobs are supposed to be done.

Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation. That is what it means to have laws and to have a country. Otherwise we don’t have a country."

 

4 Questions About Melania's Immigration Path Which Still Need Answers

Now that Donald Trump has promised to address the question of whether Melania Trump broke immigration laws when she emigrated to the United States in the mid-90s and in the process of gaining her citizenship (here, here, here and here), there are at least four questions that need to be answered directly by the Trump campaign in the coming days: 

Work Visa(s) - What work visa(s) did Mrs. Trump have in the years before she received her green card in 2001? Can you produce it/them and their applications for the public to see? 

Green Card - Can you explain how Mrs. Trump received her green card in 2001? Was it based on an employer or family sponsor? If employment related, who was the sponsor? Was it through marriage as was reported on August 5th? Did Mrs. Trump get her green card by other means? Can you produce she green card petitions and applications?

Purpose of Early Travel to US -  Can Mrs. Trump provide the date and purpose of each of her visits to the United States prior to moving here in 1996? Did she work, even for free, during any of these visits? We know she was here in 1995, and an associate from those days, Paolo Zampolli, has said on the record that she was living here before receiving a work visa in 1996. As you are aware, the United States government has a record of every trip she made in and out of the US prior to her receiving a green card. So it would help all of us understand her complete emigration story by providing this information as it is already known by immigration authorities in the US.

Lying to Immigration Authorities - Did Mrs.Trump represent that she had a college degree in her applications for work visas and green card? As you know, having a college degree could have been determinant in her receiving a visa or green card. Now that we know she has embellished her biography and only finished a semester or two of college, this seems relevant. Lying on immigration applications is a serious crime in the United States, and the public has a right to know if our future First Lady committed immigration fraud in the process of obtaining her citizenship.

Of course, the easiest way to put all this to bed is for Melania Trump to release her entire immigration file, or for her to authorize the United States government to do so on her behalf. Given that we are talking about serious crimes and immigration violations here - serial fraud, felonies and possible loss of citizenship for Mrs. Trump - the Trump campaign needs to be as transparent as possible in the days ahead. Just releasing any work visa she had in the 1990s and her green card application and card itself would have largely put this story to bed by now. The failure to release these documents already suggests the Trump campaign is struggling to reconcile what actually happened with a public story that has already proven to be fabricated.

Donald Trump has put the maximum punishment for those who violate American immigration laws at the center of his campaign. Given this, there is an urgency for the Trump campaign to resolve the very real issues raised by Melania Trump's statements about her immigration path into the US; and for Mr. Trump to demonstrate to the tens of millions of immigrants he has denigrated that the rule of law applies not just to them but to him and his own family too.    

Additionally, if the Trump campaign doesn't make a serious effort to explain the discrepancies reported by Politico, Bloomberg, the Washington Post and Univision, leading lawmakers should call upon the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to begin a formal investigation into Melania Trump and her problematic arrival story.  Her potential crimes are far more serious than what the typical undocumented immigrant has committed, and warrant the full attention of US law enforcement now. 

Mondays Musings: All They Have Is Fear Itself

In a time of challenge, the GOP panics - The one upsmanship for who could be harder on Muslims we saw among Republican President candidates this past week was a powerful reminder that the GOP has long ceased being a “conservative” party and has descended into a far more pernicious “reactionary” period. This is a subject I have discussed at length over the years, including in this long form magazine piece and in this recent piece about how fear will drive the Republicans this election cycle. The fear of modernity that is driving the reactionary right these days is perhaps the most significant force in American politics today, one that is crying out for an equally muscular and modern liberalism to challenge it head on.

Another example of this kneejerky fear of others and foreign threats was the House GOP’s terribly disappointing reaction to the Paris attacks. Of all the things the House GOP could have done last week, the Ryan-led House rushed out a bill – with no hearings and overriding their own internal rules about time needed to consider legislation – making it far tougher for the US to admit Syrian refugees. Regardless of the merits of the bill, the haste in which it was rushed out made it appear to be designed more to undermine and embarrass the President in the middle of an important foreign trip than to develop a more effective, bi-partisan response to the growing threat of the Islamic State. Paul Ryan’s choice was craven, nasty politics in its purest form in a time of challenge, the very opposite of patriotism.

Contrast this not ready for prime time behavior with that of the Democrats: the President continued his important trip to Asia, selling among other things his newly negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement; and Hillary Clinton gave a thoughtful and mature speech about defeating the Islamic State. Senate Democrats also made a valuable contribution to this nascent debate, countering Ryan’s refugee with a proposal to close the NRA supported loophole that allows those on the terror watch list to legally buy guns in the US (something we think has happened several thousand times, and yes this is a real debate).

There can be no doubt that the nation needs to both develop a better response to the Islamic State and have a respectful, public debate about it. Given how the two parties responded last week to Paris, I am proud of how the Democrats have responded, and worried about where the GOP is headed at a time when we need to come together, work with our allies and be smart (see here for my thoughts on the US should move forward now “After Paris.”)

The US remains a welcoming, generous nation - And while I disagree with Ryan’s refugee bill, I also want to challenge the assertions by some that we are an ungenerous nation when it comes to allowing immigrants into the US. Since 1950 the US has allowed close to 50 million immigrants into the US legally. Another 4 million refugees have resettled here, and another 11 million or so have come here without authorization. In the past 65 years, the US has absorbed 65 million new immigrants – an extraordinary number, equal to 1/5th of our total population today. We are currently taking in 1 million new legal immigrants every year in the US; so over the next 100 years at current rates we will take in 100 million more new immigrants. This graph does a good job capturing both the scale of the recent migration into the US, and its diversity. So while we may head into the Thanksgiving break disappointed with the GOP, we should not for a moment buy into the argument that America is anything but a generous and welcoming nation to immigrants from throughout the world.

See the graph below for US immigration trends ("200 Years of Immigration to the U.S.", Natalia Bronshtein).

I remain convinced that the Democrats should make it far more explicit on their strategy for improving the immigration system. I offered this three part plan as a starting point, one that would include reintroducing the House Democrats immigration bill from 2014, fully funding the Vice President’s Central American plan and supporting the aggressive efforts by this Administration – and repeatedly blocked by the GOP – to make the deportation of dangerous criminals the highest priority of our immigration enforcement system.  Pro-reform advocates should stop playing defense now and go out and make it clear how we want to modernize and improve America's terribly broken immigration system. 

Polling/National Landscape – The GOP field saw changes last week: Trump’s lead increased across the nation and in the early primary states; Carson, as we predicted, has begun to fade; Cruz and Rubio are making meaningful gains. If current trends continue the GOP race could soon be a three way among Trump, Rubio and Cruz with a large group in the back of the field hanging on by their fingernails and not much else.

The Democratic side saw Hillary having another good week, appearing Presidential and competent in the days after Paris. Bernie Sanders, however, choose to go ahead and give a major address on “democratic socialism,” an act that seemed to reinforce both the liabilities and limitations of his spirited candidacy. What should be worrisome to the Democrats, however, is the initial hit in the polls Obama took this week. After what was the very best run he had had in almost three years in Gallup, the President lost 5 or so points in the last few days. It is a reminder to Democrats that while there is now great optimism about the revitalized Clinton campaign, the performance of the President over the next year will matter as much to 2016 as what she does. It will be important for the President to return from his foreign trip and take control of the substance and politics of this debate about how to best rid the world of the Islamic State and bring a better day to Syria and the broader Middle East.

"Monday Musings" is a new column looking at the national political landscape published most Mondays here on the NDN site.  You find previous versions here

On Immigration Enforcement, The GOP's Decade of Blocking Sensible Reform

This week we will see, even by Washington standards, a breathtaking level of cynicism from the national Republican Party on the issue of immigration enforcement (the data backing up the arguments in this piece can be found here, here and here).

For a decade now there has been broad consensus that the huge wave of undocumented immigrants who came into the United States from the early 1990s to the later part of 00s needed federal legislation to resolve; that this enormous influx has overwhelmed law enforcement and immigration courts responsible for managing domestic immigration enforcement, degrading the integrity of a system built for a much lower level of unauthorized migration; that local enforcement desperately wanted to spend their limited resources on going after serious criminals and not law-abiding, job holding undocumented immigrants; that enforcing immigration law is a federal not a local responsibility, something reinforced repeatedly in the courts over the past decade; that the passage of comprehensive reform would have created an orderly process allowing law enforcement agencies at all levels to better focus on the imprisonment and deportation of serious criminals.

As we head into a week of significant debate then on immigration enforcement, it is important to remember a few things:

- Since Comprehensive Immigration Reform was first introduced by Senators Ted Kennedy and John McCain in 2005, Republicans in Congress have blocked its passage on four separate occasions. The most significant instances came in 2006 and 2013/4, when the House Republicans refused to even consider sensible bi-partisan bills passed by the Senate and supported at the time by President Bush and then President Obama. Each of these bills would have helped unclogged an overwhelmed immigration enforcement system in the United States, making incidents like what happened in San Francisco far less likely.

- In 2010, recognizing that the primary method we had for helping unclog the overwhelmed immigration enforcement system – CIR – was not going to happen in the President’s first term, DHS implemented new enforcement priorities known as the “Morton Memos” which prioritized illegal border crossers and undocumented immigrants with serious criminal history for deportation. These reforms brought immediate change to the huge immigration enforcement system in the US, and have resulted in the deportation of more serious criminals and has helped keep illegal entries into the US at historic lows.

- In 2013 and again in 2014, the House Republicans passed legislation designed to overturn these smart reforms, making it impossible for example for DHS to prioritize felons like the suspect in the San Francisco shooting for rapid removal through the immigration enforcement system. And the House doubled down on this approach by threatening to shut all of DHS down earlier this year in a standoff over the implementation of these reforms, including the new Priority Enforcement Program. PEP as it is known was launched last year to forge a higher level of cooperation between federal and local law enforcement to more rapidly remove serious criminals from the country.

Finally, it must be said that the attacks on President Obama’s immigration enforcement record are ridiculous. The President has deported more unauthorized immigrants than any President in American history; after a decade and a half of the US absorbing half a million new undocumented immigrants into the county, the net flow of new immigrants on this President’s watch has dropped to zero (an extraordinary public policy achievement); crime along the entire US side of the border is way down, and the two safest large cities in the US today sit on the border, El Paso and San Diego; reforms initiated by DHS throughout the Obama Presidency, including a new round in late 2014, have made the deportation of violent criminals the highest priority for our immigration system. All of the policies used to achieve these outcomes have been opposed by the House Republicans, and further reform, comprehensive immigration reform, has been repeatedly blocked.

So a proper read of the last decade has been one party, the Democrats, have repeatedly advanced proposals and policy that have strengthened our immigration enforcement system and made the rapid deportation of criminals a priority. The other party, has repeatedly block sensible bi-partisan reforms which would strengthened our immigration enforcement system, and have passed additional legislation preventing DHS from continuing policies which have clearly made our border safer and immigration system far more focused on deporting murderers and not moms. If there is a national Party to blame for the tragic event in San Francisco it is far more the fault of the Republicans than the Democrats.

The national GOP’s effort to politicize the tragic shooting in San Francisco is an act of breathtaking and insulting cynicism. For a decade now they have blocked reforms and legislation designed to make incidents like this one far less likely. The new legislation being discussed to crack down on “Sanctuary Cities” will only make a terribly broken system worse, it will generate enormous political ill-will between local and federal law enforcement making the management of our entire national system far more difficult. These bills are hasty, political and ill-thought out. They will only make a serious national problem far worse and seemed far more designed to change the subject from Donald Trump’s recent attacks on legal, law abiding immigrants to the US than to solve a vexing national problem made far worse by their refusal to advance sensible reform over a decade of intense debate. 

If indeed the national Republican Party is serious about building on the extraordinary gains we’ve made in immigration enforcement in recent years, it can:

1) Pass comprehensive reform. HR15 introduced by the Democrats last year included the GOP’s Homeland Security Committee’s package of immigration enforcement provisions. CIR will help allow law enforcement and immigration courts to better target and more rapidly remove serious threats to public safety

2) Fully fund and support the post Morton era reforms by DHS, including the expansion of PEP. These reforms have already produced real results and improvements in border security and domestic enforcement.

3) Fund the Administration’s Central America proposal to help staunch the flow of unauthorized migrants from nearby El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Last summer the House GOP deeply politicized the border crisis, and is now unwilling to follow through on sensible investments which will make future events like this far less likely while improving regional security and economic growth.

This latest focus on "Sanctuary Cities" is another disappointing episode in the GOP's decade long commitment on immigration reform to put politics over smart, sound solutions to a vexing national challenge. 

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