DACA Under Siege by Trump and AG Jeff Sessions

Last week, Trump pardoned Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a notorious national symbol of racism who refused court orders to stop his racial profiling in his zealous multi-year campaign of persecution against Latino communities. Now, one week later, Trump is throwing MORE red meat to his anti-immigrant and white supremacist supporters by going after immigrant kids, once again undermining American values in order to feed the bigotry of his extreme base. 

This morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced to the world that we, as a nation, can no longer be trusted to keep its word, that our word is no longer our bond. You see, in a stunning act of cruelty even for Trump, he had Attorney General Jeff Sessions announce termination of key parts of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program effective six months from now, upending the lives of 800,000+ young people. That 

DACA recipients – often referred to as DREAMers — were brought to the US as children and for many of them this is the only country they’ve ever really known. Under the DACA program, they registered with the government and passed background checks in exchange for being able to work, pay taxes, and feel secure in their homes without the fear of deportation.

Many on the anti-immigrant Right who have been fighting against DACA since Day One have focused their criticism on the way in which it was done – with an executive order by President Obama. They have claimed that the real problem was just that Congress didn’t pass the law – so now it’s up to Congress to call their bluff and pass the DREAM Act.

Congress needs to act now to protect our investment in their education and assimilation before Trump releases his hordes of ICE thugs to begin deportation of DREAMers as their 2-yr authorizations come up for  renewals. And we even have a head start, because the bill already has bipartisan support!

Congress can undo this outrage by passing the DREAM Act of 2017, which would provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other young undocumented immigrants who graduate from US high schools and attend college, enter the workforce, or enlist in a military program.

In the Senate, the DREAM Act is sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) … we need to demand that the Senate make this bipartisan bill a priority, to get relief to the DREAMers who need it.

Petition:  << Tell Congress to PASS the DREAM Act of 2017 without delay! >>

Or, better yet, take a moment from your day and call or write your members of Congress and ask them to expedite bringing the Dream Act of 2017 [ House bill#:  H.R.3440 / Senate bill#: S.1615 ] to the floor for a vote AND to vote for its passage:

Trump’s Pardon of Joe Arpaio Is Deeply Disturbing

The president called a man who freely violated people’s constitutional rights a “patriot.” What does that make his victims?

By Ebony Slaughter-Johnson

ebony-slaughter-johnson

During a speech to a group of police officers in July, President Trump returned to one of his favorite themes of the campaign season: violence. “Please don’t be too nice” to the “thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon,” Trump advised the officers. Be “rough.”

The president’s endorsement of police brutality was met with applause from the officers and shock from activists and pundits alike.

Sensing the brewing backlash, the White House insisted that the president was simply making a joke. Even Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the country’s top law enforcement official — a man with his own complicated history of encouraging the worst impulses of the police — attempted to distance himself from the controversy.

joe-arpaio-trump
(Photo: Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

Yet the president just proved that when it comes to endorsing police brutality, especially against communities of color, he’s dead serious.

For more than 20 years, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona terrorized Latino communities, harassed immigrants, and made life a living hell for prisoners in his care in order to build a reputation as “America’s toughest sheriff”.

These systematic violations of human and constitutional rights eventually landed Arpaio in legal trouble of his own. Then President Trump pardoned him.

Arpaio had been awaiting sentencing for a July conviction of criminal contempt.

Back in 2011, a federal judge ordered Arpaio to stop targeting and detaining Latinos just to inquire about their immigration status. Nevertheless, Arpaio persisted for another 18 months, insisting that his racial profiling was lawful. He emasculated inmates, forcing them to wear pink underwear, and attempted to starve them with food that was called inedible.

He tortured them, too: Beginning in the 1990s, Arpaio opened Tent City Jail, which forced inmates to live outside in the extreme Arizona heat. An untold number of inmates died.

To the law, Arpaio is a convicted criminal who built his career on denying the constitutional and human rights of the most vulnerable among us. To Trump, he’s “a patriot” who kept “Arizona safe.”

“Throughout his time as sheriff,” a White House statement bleated, “Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.” In other words, the innocent immigrants who were harassed, and the prisoners who were tortured, were the real criminals.

Trump promised to be the “law and order candidate” during his campaign. He codified this promise once he became president in the “Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community” section of the White House website. “The Trump administration will be a law and order administration,” it echoed.

For the president, it seems, “standing up” for law enforcement includes allowing officers to subvert the rule of law to commit acts of brutality with impunity. Empowering law enforcement to “keep our streets free of crime and violence” means supporting racial profiling. And “law and order” only applies to some, namely those that support the president.

With Trump’s pardon of Arpaio, a message has been sent: When it comes to police brutality of the kind Arpaio perpetuated for decades, the Trump administration won’t simply be complicit in it. It will promote it.

And that’s nothing to joke about.


Ebony Slaughter-Johnson is a freelance writer whose work covers history, race, and the criminalization of poverty. Distributed by OtherWords.org

With the Pressure On—Sessions Recuses

The Trump administration is facing a new scandal as the Justice Department has acknowledged Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. This contradicts sworn testimony Sessions gave to Congress during his confirmation hearing.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a news conference. The Justice Department confirmed yesterday that Sessions met with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, two separate times during the 2016 election.

Speaker Frierson and Majority Leader Ford—Statement on Sessions’ Confirmation Vote

Nevada State Senate Majority Leader Aaron D. Ford and State Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson released the following statement on U.S. Senator Dean Heller’s vote to confirm Jeff Sessions: 

“We are disheartened and thoroughly disappointed that Senator Dean Heller voted to confirm Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General. As the top law enforcement officer in the country, it is the responsibility of the Attorney General to enforce federal laws and defend the constitutional rights of all Americans, regardless of background. Based on Mr. Sessions long track record of hostility towards civil rights, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, and voting rights, we believe wholeheartedly that he should not serve.” 

Jason Frierson is the first African-American Speaker of the Nevada State Assembly. Aaron Ford is the second African-American to serve as Majority Leader of the Nevada State Senate. 

Jeff Sessions is the wrong choice for U.S. Attorney General

President-elect Donald Trump’s first cabinet appointment, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for U.S. Attorney General, is a foundational member of Mr. Trump’s cadre of climate change deniers, civil rights opponents and antagonists of immigrants and the LGBTQ community.

While most are focusing on Sessions record with respect to civil/human rights, it’s important to note the Sessions has a dismal record on the environment and has been an ardent climate denier. It is untenable that he could be trusted to serve as the chief law enforcement officer for the nation’s bedrock environmental laws and civil rights.

Sessions’ reprehensible civil rights record and extreme views on climate and the environment include:

  • Opposing nearly every piece of global warming and environmental legislation since 1997
  • Supporting a resolution to roll back protections from toxic mercury—protections the Environmental Protection Agency estimates prevent 11,000 deaths a year
  • Defunding renewable and solar energy development while renewing oil and gas exploration subsidies
  • Calling the Voting Rights Act “a piece of intrusive legislation” and prosecuting three civil rights workers in a baseless and malicious attempt to suppress the black vote
  • Defending the idea of banning Muslims from entering the United States
  • Supporting the construction of a 2,000-mile border fence or wall along the U.S. border with Mexico
  • Opposing same-sex marriage

To protect our environment, we must ensure that people feel safe in speaking out in its defense. A strong commitment to human rights is a core principle in the protection of our planet.

We can’t afford to be silent now. Stand in solidarity with national and global movements for civil rights and social justice.

To be confirmed, Sessions must be approved by a majority vote of the Senate. If Democrats vote as a block, that’s 48 votes against.  That means we need 3 Republican votes against. This is our chance to prevent him from stepping into this role.  Please take a moment from your busy day to contact Senator Dean Heller as well as Senator Catherine Cortez Masto to express your opposition to the confirmation of Sen. Jeff  Sessions as our nation’s next U.S. Attorney General.

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto  … (202) 224-3542

Senator Dean Heller …………………. (202) 224-6244

As Horrifically Crazy As This Is, It’s Still Not The Onion

These days, the news is so unthinkable it almost seems fake … like fodder for The Onion. If only it was funny and not frightening as hell.

  • Steve Bannon, an extreme-right, white nationalist and Breitbart publisher has been tapped for trump’s chief strategist.
  • Reince Priebus, former RNC Chairman, has been announced as trump’s Chief of Staff
  • Michael Flynn, a retired army general who holds an incoherent worldview and virulent Islamophobic conspiracy theorist has been tapped to fill the role of National Security Advisor.
  • Rep. Tom Price( R-GA), a Teapublican and leading critic of Obamacare has been tapped to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Price is also an advocate of privatizing Medicare which leave Seniors to the mercy of the Insurance industry, consuming whatever voucher might be provided and delivering little if any coverage for actual healthcare.
  • Steven Mnuchin, a billionaire Goldman trader turned hedge fund manager (vulcher capitalist) who made a fortune foreclosing on working families’ homes during the recession and who thinks the “Volker Rule” is just to complicated, is trump’s pick for Treasury Secretary.
  • Wilbur L Ross, Jr., a billionaire investor in distressed assets (a vulture capitalist), has been chosen to run the Commerce Department. Todd Rickets, owner of the Chicago cubs will be joining Ross as his Deputy Commerce Secretary.
  • James “Mad Dog” Mattis, a retired marine corps general is his pick for Secretary of Defense, but it will take an law passed by Congress to enable him to even be nominated for a “civilian” post since he’s a retired general.
  • Elaine Chao (Senator McConnell’s wife and Labor Secy under GWB), who has deep business and political ties to China is his pick for Transportation Secretary (wonder just how much Chinese Steel he plans on having her ship to the US for his special infrastructure projects to “make America great.” Considered a Washington insider, she is also connected to a 90 old seizure of cocaine from one of her father’s shipping vessels.  So much for “draining” that swamp — looks more like he’s stocking it up with some serious alligators.
  • Betsy Devos (former chair of the Michigan Republican Party), a billionaire philanthropist who never attended a public school, who has no experience in education and  who ardently believes we should gut and scrap public education in favor of privatized charter schools (via which she could profit) and home schooling, has been tapped to lead the Department of Education.  So much for that investment in our children’s and our nation’s future.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who was once rejected for a judicial appointment on racial grounds and who has touted that his approach to immigration reform would prevent people (of color?) from entering this country, is trump’s pick as attorney general. Sessions also has some serious prejudices when it comes to LGBT issues. You can pick almost any LGBT rights issue, and chances are Sessions has voted against it
  • Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), a Teapublican partisan who graduated from West Point and Harvard, is trump’s pick for Director of the CIA, an agency that is supposed to operate above politics.  That might prove to be an unsuccessful stretch for Mr. Pompeo given his aggressively partisan attacks on Clinton during the 2016 election.  If you’re fond of bulk collection of your phone records, Pompeo is your guy.
  • Gov. Nikki Haley, who has extremely limited foreign policy experience has been selected as US Ambassador to the United Nations

That’s the people, then there’s his policy positions

  • Muslim Americans now fear being added to a national registry.
  • Millions of hardworking immigrant families fear deportation.
  • trump wants flag burners to be jailed or lose their citizenship — never mind our 1st Amendment protection in the U.S. Constitution.
  • trump plans to fill the Supreme Court with justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade.
  • And, anti-choice Republicans are poised to finally defund Planned Parenthood, privatize Medicare, shred Medicaid and advance a federal 20-week abortion ban, that is, if they don’t make abortion illegal altogether making it a criminal act.

It’s just too much. trump’s only getting started, and the kinds of policies he promises to advance would cause grave harm to women and families.

It begs the question: What’s next?  Will Michelle Bachmann turn up in his list of nominees?

Under Consideration

Secretary of State: Laundry list of candidates being considered includes Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton, Bob Corker, Mitt Romney,  and David Petraeus (who was convicted of and currently on probation for disseminating Top Secret information to his mistress and who would need to get permission from his probation officer to take the job and move to Washington, D.C. — a bit hypocritical in my book after all the bogus crap we endured about Hillary’s emails)

Secretary of Homeland Security: Michael McCaul and David Clarke are in the running.

Secretary of the Interior: Half-Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) and Gov. Mary Fallin (R-OK) are believed to be finalists, with Fallon being the frontrunner

Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Half-Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) is also being mentioned for the VA, as is Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX).

Secretary of Agriculture: Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) and Sid Miller are believed to be under consideration.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Ben Carson has been offered the position but has not accepted.

Secretary of Agriculture  ??

Secretary of Labor  ??

Secretary of Energy  ??  Expect an appointment leaning more toward developing more production in fossil fuels and hostile toward clean energy technologies.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator  ??  Expect an appointment who thinks Climate Changes is a colossal hoax, who is hostile toward President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and who would loosen environmental regulations allowing corporations to frack and pillage at will, polluting not just our water resources, but our air as well.  Will Myron Ebell, the head of trump’s EPA transition team be his choice for pillaging our nation’s resources? Only time will tell.

Office of Management and Budget Director   ??

United States Trade Representative   ??

Council of Economic Advisors Chairman   ??

Small Business Administration Administrator  ??


Further Reading:

 

Confirmation Hearing: Nina Pillard

photo credit to ThinkProgress

In my email today from Drew Courtney, Director of  Communications at PFAW, was the following:

One item that didn’t get the attention it deserved during the hearings of DC Circuit nominee Nina Pillard today is her role leading Georgetown University Law Center’s Supreme Court Institute. The SCI offers its moot courts as a public service, at no charge and irrespective of the positions taken by counsel, reflecting a core commitment to the quality of Supreme Court advocacy in all cases.

Members of the Supreme Court Bar, including Carter Phillips, Andrew Pincus, Lawrence Robbins and Charles Rothfeld (all attorneys in the Solicitor General’s office under President Ronald Reagan) cited Pillard’s work leading the Supreme Court Institute in the letter they wrote calling for her confirmation.

http://www.judgingtheenvironment.org/library/letters/Pillard-SCT-Bar-Letter-7-17-2013.pdf

“Professor Pillard is also Faculty Co-Director of the Supreme Court Institute (SCI), a unique project at Georgetown University Law Center, dedicated to improving practice before the Supreme Court. The SCI recruits professors and attorneys with experience in Supreme Court litigation to act as mock justices to help prepare lawyers for oral argument in the Court. The SCI offers its services impartially on a first-come, first-served basis to advocates with upcoming cases in the Supreme Court, and it has become so popular in recent years that it assisted lawyers in every case argued in the Court’s last Term. Chief Justice Roberts, Justices Scalia and Ginsburg, and many others from the bench and bar have praised the work of the SCI in contributing to the quality of advocacy. Most of us have participated as advocates and/or Justices at SCI moot court sessions. Over more than a decade, Professor Pillard has personally mooted dozens of cases, whether the advocate is a first-time lawyer or former Solicitor General, doing her best to help each advocate develop and present the best argument possible to the Court, regardless of the issue in the case or the ideological position of the party being represented.

We believe that Professor Pillard would bring to the D.C. Circuit unquestioned professional integrity and intellect, a breadth of experience, and dedication to fairness and the rule of law. We urge her confirmation.”

Ms. Pillard is facing an uphill battle getting her nomination out of the Senate Judiciary committee. Nina Pillard is being nominated for an open position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. This court has exclusive jurisdiction over many vital national security challenges and hears the bulk of appeals from the major regulatory agencies of the federal government. Aside from the U.S. Supreme Court, it resolves more constitutional questions involving separation of powers and executive prerogatives than any court in the country.  As such, it’s one of the busiest circuit courts.

Some of the GOP’s biggest nay-sayers sit on the Senate Judiciary committee (Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Jeff Sessions, Lindsay Graham, John Cornyn, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and Jeff Flake ), and thus far, they’ve been very successful at crippling the DC Circuit court’s ability to handle some of our nation’s most challenging cases.  At today’s hearing, Republican committee members zeroed in and fixated on an article she wrote in 1997 that suggested that abstinence-only sex education may violate the equal protection rights of women.

Instead of demeaning and painting Ms. Pillard as a mere characture, maybe Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee should check in with President George W. Bush’s Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh, who says of Pillard “…  is a fair-minded thinker with enormous respect for the law and for the limited, and essential, role of the federal appellate judge—qualities that would make her well prepared to take on the work of a DC Circuit judge. I am confident that she would approach the judicial task of applying laws to facts in a fair and meticulous manner.”

GOP Senators should rethink their premise.  Professor Pillard’s academic writings actually show her openness to viewpoints raised by abortion opponents.

  • Professor Pillard consulted anti-abortion advocate Helen Alvaré in writing her article ‘Other Reproductive Choices’ to ensure her work considered all sides of the public debate on women’s reproductive health. In fact, Professor Alvaré is listed in the article’s acknowledgements.
  • Pillard wrote, “Feminists for Life (FFL), a nonprofit organization declaring itself in favor of equality for women and against abortion, makes some claims that resonate with those of some pro-choice feminists, and which should be common ground in the reproductive rights battles.”  (Pillard, Our Other Reproductive Choices, p. 981)

Moreover, there have been multiple Circuit Court nominees who have written extensively on controversial issues such as abortion from a anti-choice point of view, who went on to be confirmed with strong support from Republicans.

  •  William Pryor, nominated to Eleventh Circuit, had called Roe v Wade the “worst abomination in the history of constitutional law,” but was led to say that even though he strongly disagreed with Roe, he would act in accordance with it if confirmed. He was confirmed.
  • Michael McConnell, nominated to the Tenth Circuit, said Roe was wrongly decided and urged the Supreme Court to overturn it.  He called for a constitutional amendment to protect the rights of the unborn. He also applauded a federal judge for refusing to convict anti-abortion protestors, even though they had clearly violated the law, because of his sympathetic reading of the defendants’ motives. He was unanimously confirmed.
  • J. Leon Holmes, an Arkansas district court nominee, had argued that abortion should be banned even in case of rape because pregnancy from rape is as uncommon as “snowfall in Miami,” and had written that wives should be submissive to their husbands. He was confirmed.
  • Janice Rogers Brown, also nominated to the DC Circuit, had made multiple provocative remarks in speeches, such as referring to the New Deal as the start of a Socialist movement. She admitted that she was trying to be provocative, but assured the committee at her hearing that she “would follow precedent.” She was confirmed.

If we want something other than continual obstruction, WE need to take just a few minutes from our day, and let our Senators know where we stand and urge them to take the action we support.  It’s up to us.  This morning, I took the time to send an email to both Senator Reid and Senator Heller asking them both to actively support and vote for her confirmation.  I also took the time to email each GOP Senator on the Judiciary Committee asking them to vote for her confirmation.  I hope you’ll do the same by clicking the above links for Senators Reid and Heller and asking them for their vote of confirmation.  Or, if you’re an out-of-state reader, you can find a link to your Senator’s email contact form HERE.

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