Last month, we celebrated the fifth anniversary of President Obama’s landmark Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This program granted hundreds of thousands of young people the opportunity to come out of the shadows and pursue the American Dream.
Dreamers are our soldiers, engineers, teachers and the future of this great nation. They embody everything we stand for as a country. But right now, DACA is under grave threat, and Dreamers are anxious about their future. Anti-immigrant attorneys general are threatening to sue the Trump administration if he doesn’t end DACA – and recent reports suggest Trump is finally about to follow through with his disgraceful campaign pledge to end the program. Now, more than ever, we need to stand up and defend these inspiring young men and women!
More than 12,000 DACA recipients call Nevada home, and I have been fortunate enough to spend time with many of them. They are fighters. They never give up. These young people were brought to our country as children, and for many of them, America is the only place they’ve ever called home. But now, they face constant uncertainty about their futures. This is wrong. We should be helping them live up to their full potential.
Not only is rescinding this program un-American, it is economically unsound. Deporting nearly 800,000 DACA beneficiaries would cost our economy at least $433 billion over the next 10 years. That’s not an economic policy we should embrace.
Welcoming immigrants is an American tradition. We should not be tearing families apart and inciting fear and discrimination. Dreamers are our loved ones, our friends, our neighbors, and we must protect them.
Thank you for standing up for these extraordinary young people.
¡La lucha sigue! The fight continues!
Got a Twitter account? Tweet your demands to respect and protect DACA to: @POTUS, @realDonaldTrump, @VP, @MarkAmodeiNV2, @SenDeanHeller
Saturday night, lawyers representing President Donald Trump filed an emergency motion with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, asking it to reinstate Trump’s executive order preventing many people from seven majority Muslim nations from entering the United States. On Friday, a federal trial judge issued a temporary order halting this Muslim ban.
Trump’s legal arguments rest on a 1972 Supreme Court decision which establishes that many foreign nationals have little, if any, First Amendment rights when they seek to enter the United States. This case does bolster Trump’s case for reinstating the ban against some of the arguments that its opponents have raised in court.
But Trump’s emergency motion makes no mention of one of the strongest arguments against the ban: Even if the First Amendment does not apply to the Muslim ban, that would not be enough to save Trump’s executive order — thanks to a federal law expanding the scope of religious liberty in the United States beyond the bounds of the First Amendment, and the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.
Nevertheless, Trump’s lawyers now claim that the real purpose of the executive order isn’t to implement the Muslim ban Trump repeatedly promised as a candidate, but rather to protect “interests of national security.”
Trump’s motive for handing down the order matters because the First Amendment prohibits laws “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” If Trump acted for the purpose of harming Muslims, then he violated the Constitution.
Trump’s lawyers argue that courts must accept Trump’s stated motive even if Trump did act with unconstitutional animus. Under the Supreme Court’s decision in Kleindienst v. Mandel, “‘when the Executive exercises’ immigration authority ‘on the basis of a facially legitimate and bona fide reason, the courts will [not] look behind the exercise of that discretion[.]’”
Mandel was a First Amendment case. It involved a Belgian journalist who was invited to speak at a Stanford University conference, but was not allowed into the United States — allegedly because of his Marxist views. The Court held that this journalist could not invoke the First Amendment to challenge the decision not to let him into the country.
When the Executive exercises this power [to admit foreign nationals] negatively on the basis of a facially legitimate and bona fide reason, the courts will neither look behind the exercise of that discretion, nor test it by balancing its justification against the First Amendment interests of those who seek personal communication with the applicant.
So, if Mandel was the last word on the subject, Trump would have a much stronger case. But it was not, and that leads to the fatal flaw in Trump’s argument.
Enter Hobby Lobby The First Amendment is not the final word on religious liberty claims against the federal government. Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), “government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” except in very limited circumstances. This law was enacted to expand the bounds of religious liberty beyond the weaker protections provided by the First Amendment. Significantly, it also was enacted after the Supreme Court’s decision in Mandel.
This limited purpose created a problem for conservatives, who wanted to use RFRA to exempt themselves from a legal obligation to include birth control in their employer-provided health plans. The Supreme Court had never held that the First Amendment permits such claims. To the contrary, the Court held in United States v. Lee that “when followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.”
To put it another way, to win their case in Hobby Lobby, the plaintiffs had to convince the Court to read scope of religious liberty under RFRA to be much more expansive than any Supreme Court decision in American history had ever understood it to be under the First Amendment. And that’s exactly what the Court did in Hobby Lobby.
A 2000 amendment to RFRA, Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the Court, was “an obvious effort to effect a complete separation from First Amendment case law.” Thus, thanks to Hobby Lobby, prior First Amendment decisions are completely irrelevant to the question of whether a particular government action violates RFRA.
This interpretation of that 2000 amendment has clear implications for Trump’s Muslim ban. Even if Mandel does prohibit courts from examining Trump’s true motive for issuing the Muslim ban when that ban is challenged under the First Amendment, Mandel does not prevent courts from searching for Trump’s true motive in a RFRA suit.
Hobby Lobby effects “a complete separation” between RFRA and the First Amendment, and that complete separation includes Mandel.
The answer? Not very well I’m afraid. Regardless of the number of phone calls and the fact that his line is full and that they’ve turned on the answering machines instead of taking calls, he’s taking his marching orders from elsewhere. Here, see what I mean?
First they came for Muslims and I did not speak out because I was not a Muslim. Then they came for the undocumented immigrants and I did not speak out because I was not an undocumented immigrant…
Apparently, our new president means what he says, as terrifying as that is. The Muslim ban. The mass deportations. Torture.
Is this who we are? Are we a people who slam the door in the face of those fleeing persecution? Will we allow our neighbors to live in fear of the knock on the door?
How many people in need of medical care will die as a result of his “Muslim ban”? He and his spokespeople can claim his action was aimed at saving lives, but the truth is, it’s already gotten a woman Michigan woman killed. She was the mother of Mike Hager. Mike is an Iraqi immigrant who heroically assisted the United States military during the Iraq war and who is now a small business owner in Detroit, Michigan. And thanks to Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, his mother is now dead.
Hager was in the process of attempting to bring his mother from Iraq to the United States so she could receive proper medical care for her illness. But even after Hager traveled to Iraq to try to bring her to back Detroit for treatment, he was disallowed from bringing her with him due to Trump’s Muslim ban; he’s a U.S. citizen and he’s not. This cruel rejection leading to her death was despite the fact that the woman has lived in the United States for the past twenty years and she just happened to be visiting Iraq at the time, and despite the fact that her son is an American citizen and a war hero. Read more here.
But now, we are apparently experiencing such rampant paranoia that it’s become necessary to handcuff a 5 year-old little boy and separate him from his mother for 5 hours because he just might pose a threat to Americans? Are you kidding me? The little boy is reportedly a US cit
Press Secretary Sean Spicer had this to say of the 5 year-old: “To assume that just because of someone’s age and gender that they don’t pose a threat would be misguided and wrong.”
U.S. Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland revealed later in a Facebook post that he had informed airport authorities in advance that the little boy was due to arrive, yet the child was still detained.
— by Madeleine Albright, Former Secretary of State
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the executive order on immigration and refugees that the President signed on Friday. It bans Syrian refugees from entering our country, suspends the entire refugee program for 120 days, cuts in half the number of refugees we can admit, and halts all travel from certain Muslim-majority countries.
I felt I had no choice but to speak out against it in the strongest possible terms.
This is a cruel measure that represents a stark departure from America’s core values. We have a proud tradition of sheltering those fleeing violence and persecution, and have always been the world leader in refugee resettlement. As a refugee myself who fled the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, I personally benefited from this country’s generosity and its tradition of openness. This order would end that tradition, and discriminate against those fleeing a brutal civil war in Syria.
There is no data to support the idea that refugees pose a threat. This policy is based on fear, not facts. The refugee vetting process is robust and thorough. It already consists of over 20 steps, ensuring that refugees are vetted more intensively than any other category of traveler.
The process typically takes 18-24 months, and is conducted while they are still overseas. I am concerned that this order’s attempts at “extreme vetting” will effectively halt our ability to accept anyone at all. When the administration makes wild claims about Syrian refugees pouring over our borders, they are relying on alternative facts — or as I like to call it, fiction.
The truth is that America can simultaneously protect the security of our borders and our citizens and maintain our country’s long tradition of welcoming those who have nowhere else to turn. These goals are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, they are the obligation of a country built by immigrants.
Refugees should not be viewed as a burden or as potential terrorists. They have already made great contributions to our national life. Syrian refugees are learning English, getting good jobs, buying homes, and starting businesses. In other words, they are doing what other generations of refugees — including my own — did. And I have no doubt that, if given the opportunity, they will become an essential part of our American fabric.
By targeting Muslim-majority countries for immigration bans and by expressing a clear preference for refugees who are religious minorities, there’s no question this order is biased against Muslims. And when one faith is targeted, it puts us all at risk.
I will never forget sailing into New York Harbor for the first time and seeing the Statue of Liberty when I came here as a child. It proclaims “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” There is no fine print on the Statue of Liberty, and today she is weeping.
This executive order does not reflect American values. If you agree, make your voice heard now.
Amodei Responds RE: the President’s Immigration Executive Order Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Congressman Mark Amodei (NV-02) today released the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s immigration executive order issued on January 27, 2017:
“First of all, I wish to apologize for apparently missing the memo on media-imposed deadlines for Members of Congress to issue statements on executive orders,” said Congressman Amodei. “I’ll try to do better in the future. However, because I’m a respectful guy, I waited 24 hours after former President Barack Obama issued his statement – apparently his deadline for comment is more flexible.
“I hope the time I took to issue a comprehensive, fact-based response, as opposed to knee-jerk political rhetoric is appreciated by some. After gathering the facts and contacting the Northern Nevada International Center, the Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, and relevant federal agencies, it is our understanding that no individuals in CD-2 have been impacted by this order. With respect to Southern Nevada, it is our understanding there are three cases, totaling 12 people, affected by this order. These include: a family of five individuals, a family of six individuals – both from Iraq – and one individual from Iran.
“For those angered by this issue, I recommend shifting your anger to Congressional Leadership on both sides of the aisle. It’s clearly Congress’s job to regulate immigration, and the fact that we haven’t, and continue not to – leaves a void. President Obama filled this void during his term, and now President Trump in accordance with his campaign promises is doing so also. As long as this void continues, leaders in the Executive Branch, whether Democrat or Republican, are going to continue issuing executive orders that will upset somebody depending on what side they’re on. If this is really about the issue of refugees and immigration reform, opponents should be camping out on leadership’s steps, demanding they take action and bring something to the Floor for a vote – instead of allowing these issues to disintegrate further.
“Speaking of votes, take a gander at the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act. This bipartisan legislation overwhelmingly passed out of the House in 2015. It was signed into law by President Obama through its inclusion in the FY16 Omnibus. The countries affected under President Trump’s executive order were originally listed in this Act, meaning the President’s executive order is built largely off existing law to provide the Department of Homeland Security with the additional time it needs to integrate functioning and effective protocols for visa applicants.
“Our office will continue to focus on solutions to immigration and other issues, rather than opportunities for political pontification. We’ve checked our District, we’ve determined potential impacts, if people need help – we’re here to assist. We’ve also checked on the rest of the State to understand what’s happening there. If my colleagues in Southern Nevada need help, I’m here for them as well.”
The president’s edict bans entrants (including Ambassadors and diplomats, people scheduled for critical surgeries, etc.) from the following seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya. It’s still unclear where we currently stand on those holding Green Cards as they’ve waffled back and forth as to whether anyone who was born on one of those 7 countries who holds green card status, and who is currently overseas may return to their homes in the U.S.
Press Secretary Spicer claims that the Executive Order is not a Muslim ban, but the president himself, in one of his now familiar policy tweets, clearly declared it a “ban.” Then he went on the Christian Broadcasting Network and declared that they would prioritize Christian refugees over Muslims. After muddying the waters with his “religious test” potentially making his edict unconstitutional Acting Attorney General Sally Yates declared “At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities, nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.” The president’s next action was to do what his base loves about him, he promptly fired her and just for good measure, also fired Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director, Daniel Ragsdale. Then, someone, we don’t know who, gave the oath of office to Thomas D. Homan who was appointed to take over as Acting Director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Lastly, Sally Yates was the highest ranking appointee at the Dept of the Attorney General who had gone through the confirmation process and as such WAS the only one authorized to sign off on FISA warrants. So, until the next Attorney General is confirmed, NO ONE is authorized to sign off on such warrants.
All of that activity occured before Rep. Amodei finally got around to answering inquiries and he mentioned none of it. Instead, after some flippancy, he mentioned who he’d contacted to assure us he was on top of all that mattered. I notice that he failed to contact a single Muslim Mosque, but did contact Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada (outside of the district).
As to Mr. Amodei’s mention of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act (HR 158), Congress.gov shows no further legislative action beyond when it was received in the Senate on 12/9/2015 on the bill’s page. It took me a while searching through bills that were signed into law to find the “FY16 Omnibus” to which he refers. That would be HR 2029—Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 and the wording from HR158 appears to have been incorporated as Section 203, close to the end of the bill. It deals primarily with TWO countries, Iraq and Syria. The only mention of “Libya, Somalia, and Yemen” are in the the section prohibiting transfer/release of individuals from those countries who are detained at GITMO. References to Iran appear to deal primarily with particulars associated with “the Iran Deal” and have nothing to do with travel or visa waivers between our two nations. References to “Sudan” have nothing to do with visa waivers at all, but instead focus on economic stabilization and democracy building.
If the Republicans want to blame Obama for providing Trump with fodder for his #MuslimBan edict, it’s just another alternative-fact they’re perpetrating on the general populace. If they want to hang their hat on US State Dept Travel Advisories issued under Obama for selecting any of those countries … they better add a whole bunch of other nations to their list, including Israel.
The question still remains open as to why some middle eastern countries didn’t make the list. Given that our new president has financial interests in those countries, one has to wonder if that might be the answer.
Given that Nevada’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism, Rep. Dina Titus (NV-CD1) sent an official letter today to Nevada’s Attorney General, Adam Laxalt, imploring that he join with other states’ AGs to oppose and reject the president’s executive edict discriminating against not just Muslims entering our country (for business or vacation) from seven specific middle eastern majority-Muslim countries, but an edict that impacts individuals who have lived in our country for years and who have “green cards” identifying them as LEGAL resident aliens.
So far all we’ve heard from Mr. Laxalt is crickets, but for the moment, let’s talk a little bit about Green Card holders.
Muslim GREEN CARD holders, meaning resident LEGAL aliens, who just happen to have gained their “right to life” through the misfortune of being born in certain countries our apprentice president wants to scapegoat, have been prohibited from reentering the country for 90 days if they happened to be traveling. They were detained at airports and prohibited from returning to their homes.
Do you understand what this means?
It means that if they have lived in New Jersey for 20 years with their family and were just unlucky enough to have been traveling for business or just merely on vacation, they are now forbidden to return HOME for 90 days. Will they lose their jobs? Will they lose their homes? Where will they go in the meantime? Will they stay at a hotel? Or will they be residing as homeless folks on some street corner in some other nation?
It also means that if a mother happened to have gone to her father’s funeral abroad at this unlucky time and tried to return home to her children, she was prohibited from doing so by executive fiat. She’s not allowed to do so for 90 days. Who’s taking care of her children? Will she lose her job that helps to put food on the table for her children? Will some state take them away from her for abandonment?
Don’t even try to tell me this is just about the need to conduct proper vetting. These people are GREEN CARD holders. A green card holder is a LEGAL alien. He or she has essentially the same rights as a citizen with respect to residency and employment. They HAVE been properly vetted. These actions against them are 100% ILLEGAL.
But the absurdities with this Executive Edict doesn’t stop with Green Cards.
Already, Doctors coming to our country to perform critical care for U.S. patients have been turned away. People who need critical surgeries that have been scheduled at major critical care hospitals, e.g., Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, etc., are being told they will not be allowed to travel to the U.S. and enter the U.S. for critical surgeries which in some cases will lead to their imminent deaths.
Interpreters who worked closely with our troops in hostile areas, who have already gone through extensive vetting, and whose lives would be in jeopardy in their home country, who have the proper paperwork and visas in hand were being refused. Luckily, legal personal stepped in to remedy the situation.
The acting U.S. Attorney General has indicated the Justice Dept. will NOT defend the president’s executive order. But, Sen. Jeff Sessions, the president’s choice for US-AG will be up for a vote shortly and it’s rumored that Mr. Sessions is in lock step with the president. Given that, you need to realize that if it can be them today, it can be you and me tomorrow! And if that doesn’t scare the hell out of you, you are not paying attention. Those are NOT actions that take place under a Democracy.
Those were the two key takeaways from remarks by White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday afternoon when asked to account for the controversial ban and a draft dissent cable put forth by State Departments employees, and obtained by news outlets, officially challenging the order.
The internal memo (pdf)—which is marked “sensitive but unclassified” and that dozens of career employees have or are expected to sign as a formal registration of dissent—argues that the hastily ordered ban “runs counter to core American values of nondiscrimination, fair play, and extending a warm welcome to foreign visitors and immigrants.”
As of Monday morning, reports the Washington Post, “edits and signatures were still being collected in advance of submitting the memo to State Department leadership.”
At an early afternoon press briefing, Spicer said the ban imposed by Trump has been “blown way out of proportion” and dismissed those challenging it, including any State Department officials who might back the dissent cable.
“I think they should either get with the program or they can go,” Spicer responded when asked if the administration was aware of its circulation and what he thought of those who might back its message.
Beyond the core moral objections, the letter from the career diplomats argues that Trump’s ban is actually counterproductive in terms of its claimed purpose, which is to keep the American people more safe. According to the document:
Despite the Executive Order’s focus on them, a vanishingly small number of terror attacks on U.S. soil have been committed by foreign nationals who recently entered the United States on an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa. Rather, the overwhelming majority of attacks have been committed by native-born or naturalized U.S. citizens—individuals who have been living in the United States for decades, if not since birth. In the isolated incidents of foreign nationals entering the U.S. on a visa to commit acts of terror, the nationals have come from a range of countries, including many (such as Pakistan or Saudi Arabia) which are not covered by the Executive Order.
“We do not need to place a blanket ban that keeps 220 million people—men, women, and children—from entering the United States to protect our homeland. We do not need to alienate entire societies to stay safe,” the memo concludes. “And we do not need to sacrifice our reputation as a nation which is open and welcoming to protect our families. It is well within our reach to create a visa process which is more secure, which reflects our American values, and which would make the Department proud.”
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Many good kids — with the same American dreams my grandparents had — now fear being exiled to a land alien to them. — by Mitchell Zimmerman
One day in a Latvian town more than 100 years ago, when my grandmother wasn’t much more than a girl, she heard that the czar’s “recruiters” were coming to conscript men into the Russian army for 20-year terms.
Two days before they came, a handsome young man she’d known only slightly told her he was going to America instead, and asked her to come along as his bride. She agreed.
Their travels weren’t wholly lawful. Lacking proper papers to enter Germany, where they planned to embark on a steamer to New York, they were smuggled across the border at night, in a cart.
Some 40-odd years later, when I was a small child, my mother would take me to Brooklyn to visit them. I recall grandma as a short, ancient grownup, her face square and her cheeks jowly. Despite having lived in New York for decades, she still spoke little English — only enough to make halting jokes. I don’t think she ever became a citizen.
She and grandpa faced hardship and discrimination. They’d been called “kikes” and “Jew bastards.” They’d been asked, “Why don’t you go back where you came from?”
But they stayed, and their children and grandchildren — including my brother, a journalist, and myself, a lawyer — climbed the ladder to success.
My grandparents come to mind when I meet my young friend — “Jesús,” let’s call him, a pro bono client.
Jesús, too, is an immigrant. But he recalls little of coming to America, and less of Mexico, his birthplace. He was only 7 when his mother, hoping for a better life and lacking proper papers, carried him here.
Jesús grew up in East Palo Alto, California — a small city not far geographically from the prosperity of Silicon Valley, but a world away socio-economically. Plagued by poverty, drugs, and crime, the town was once the murder capital of America.
When he reached high school, Jesús found himself behind the kids from the richer towns. But he enrolled in the school’s computer science track, applied himself, and ultimately won a nationwide “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” competition.
The school offered him little guidance about a path to college, but he found his own mentors. Eventually, he earned a B.S. from a small local college, paid for by soccer and academic scholarships — and hard work.
Jesús meanwhile devoted himself to diffusing conflicts among Latino and black gangs in violent neighborhoods. “When asked about putting himself in harm’s way,” a counselor informed me, “Jesús said he didn’t want to live in a world where people hate each other based on the color of their skin.”
For some people, this is all irrelevant. All we need to know about Jesús is that he’s “illegal” — and so should be deported.
This would be fundamentally unfair. Jesús, like many others whose parents brought them here, had no say in whether or how he entered the United States. But also like those others, he’s lived an entirely American life.
I assisted Jesús with his ultimately successful application for DACA status.
This Obama-era program (in full, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) offered a little security to youths like Jesús who arrived as children. If they were in school (or graduated) and had no criminal record, they were eligible to remain in the U.S. for a renewable two-year period.
With an anti-immigrant administration coming into office, however, many of these good kids fear being exiled to a land alien to them. I hope Trump has the decency to let them be.
Jesús is now 24 years old and works at a tech start-up. He has an American wife, son, and baby daughter. His aspirations, like my grandparents’ were, are to educate his kids, work hard and prosper, and continue to inspire others to set aside despair and reach for the stars.