Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Trump signs executive order to stop family separations at border




President Trump blames Democrats for inaction on immigration reform, says he is 'working on something'; chief White House correspondent John Roberts reports.

President Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order to allow children to stay with parents caught crossing the border illegally -- moving to stop the family separations that have triggered a national outcry and political crisis for Republicans. 

The measure would allow children to stay in detention with parents for an extended period of time. This comes as congressional Republicans scramble to draft legislation to address the same issue, but face challenges mustering the votes. 

In signing the measure, Trump said he wants to keep families together while also enforcing border security. He vowed his administration's "zero tolerance" policy for illegal immigration would continue.

Trump, previewing the measure earlier in the day during a meeting with lawmakers, said the move would "be matched by legislation." He also said he's canceling the upcoming congressional picnic, adding: "It didn't feel exactly right to me."

The separations stem from the administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which aims to prosecute all illegal border crossers. But because of a 1997 order and related decisions, children cannot be detained for longer than 20 days with the adults. 

Sources told Fox News that the executive action by Trump could be seen to run afoul of the 1997 order and would likely draw a lawsuit. But the White House wants to try to take steps to uphold the enforcement of the law, while at the same time lessening the trauma of children being separated from their parents.

In another possible approach, Fox News is told Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will recommend to Trump that he throw his support behind developing House legislation or, if that doesn't pass, a standalone bill to close the “loopholes” regarding family detention. During the order-signing, Nielsen again called on Congress to act.

These measures are being pursued following days of escalating calls from both sides of the political divide for Trump, or Congress, to end the controversial family separation policy.

Rep. Peter King of New York became the latest Republican to join the chorus on Wednesday when he called on Trump to suspend the family separation policy if House immigration legislation does not pass.

Speaking on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” King said that while he agrees with the president’s goals in regards to immigration, the current policy of separating migrant children from parents charged with entering the country illegally is “really terrible for families.”

Republicans in both the House and Senate are struggling to shield the party's lawmakers from the public outcry over images of children taken from migrant parents and held in cages at the border. 

But they are running up against Trump's shifting views on specifics and his determination, according to advisers, not to look soft on his signature immigration issue, the border wall.

“The Democrats do not have a strong policy,” King said on Fox News. “But at the same time we are playing into their hands by allowing this to happen.” 
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said that the House will vote Thursday on legislation to allow families to remain together in Homeland Security custody throughout their legal proceedings.

“We do not want children taken away from their parents,” Ryan said. “We can enforce our immigration laws without breaking families apart.”

That followed a closed-door meeting in Washington on Tuesday evening, where Trump told House Republicans he is "1,000 percent" behind their rival immigration bills. But it's unclear whether any bill has enough support to pass.

Under the administration's current policy, all unlawful crossings are referred for prosecution — a process that moves adults to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and sends many children to facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services. Under the Obama administration, such families were usually referred for civil deportation proceedings, not requiring separation.

More than 2,300 minors were separated from their families at the border from May 5 through June 9, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
In the House, GOP leaders scrambled Tuesday to produce a revised version of the broader immigration bill that would keep children in detention longer than now permitted — but with their parents.

The major change unveiled Tuesday would loosen rules that now limit the amount of time minors can be held to 20 days, according to a GOP source familiar with the measure. Instead, the children could be detained indefinitely with their parents.

The revision would also give the Department of Homeland Security the authority to use $7 billion in border technology funding to pay for family detention centers, said the person, who was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and commented only on condition of anonymity.

Even if Republicans manage to pass an immigration bill through the House, which is a tall order, the fight is all but certain to fizzle in the Senate.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader from New York, is adamant that Trump can end the family separations on his own and that legislation is not needed.

Without Democratic support, Republicans cannot muster the 60 votes needed to move forward on legislation.

Democratic reticence and their opposition to a border wall have come under intense scrutiny from Trump, who has blamed the party for the failure of Congress to pass immigration reform.

“It’s the Democrats fault, they won’t give us the votes needed to pass good immigration legislation,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “They want open borders, which breeds horrible crime. Republicans want security. But I am working on something - it never ends!”

On the Senate side, Republicans are rallying behind a different approach. Theirs is narrow legislation proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that would allow detained families to stay together in custody while expediting their hearings and possible deportation proceedings.

Cruz's bill would double the number of federal immigration judges, authorize new temporary shelters to house migrant families and limit the processing of asylum cases to no more than 14 days — a goal immigrant advocates say would be difficult to meet.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters he's reaching out to Democrats for bipartisan backing.

The discord over the family separation spilled into the streets as protesters clashed with law enforcement in Philadelphia and other cities on Tuesday -- and Democratic lawmakers accosted senior administration officials and even the president himself over the policy.

As Trump walked out of the session in the Capitol basement, he was confronted by about a half-dozen House Democrats, who yelled, "Stop separating our families!"

Later in the day, protesters heckled Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen as she ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Washington, chanting "Shame!" and "End family separation!"

A department spokesman tweeted that during a work dinner, the secretary and her staff heard from a small group of protesters who "share her concern with our current immigration laws."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

John Roberts currently serves as the chief White House correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He joined the network as a senior national correspondent in January 2011, based in the Atlanta bureau.

Gallup: Satisfaction with direction of country highest since 2005





Satisfaction with the direction the country is going is higher today than it's been since 2005, according to the most recent Gallup survey

Another Gallup poll shows that thirty-eight percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the United States today, similar to last month's 37% satisfaction rate but marking the numerical high since a 39% reading in September 2005.

The satisfaction rate, which Gallup has measured at least monthly since 2001, has now topped 35% three times this year – a level reached only three times in the previous 12 years (once each in 2006, 2009 and 2016).

Satisfaction with the nation is now back to the historical average of 37% for this trend, which was first measured in 1979, but is far below the majority levels reached in the economic boom times of the mid-1980s and late 1990s.

Not surprisingly, Republicans are more ebullient about the direction of the country compared to Democrats.  

But it is striking that the largest increase in satisfaction occurred in rural America compared to big cities and small towns.

Much has been written in recent months about rural America's disappointment with Trump.  These numbers seem to belie that reporting.

Now, at the midpoint of 2018, as the United States continues to enjoy a nine-year-long economic expansion, the number of Americans finding satisfaction in the country's direction is on the rise.
 
This reflects more than a growing comfort with Donald Trump as president; growth in satisfaction has outstripped growth in Trump's approval rating.
 
And it is more than economic good news – the percentage satisfied has risen more over the past two months than the percentage who think the economy is in good shape or the percentage who think it's a good time to find a quality job.

As the nation moves toward November's midterm elections, as the Mueller investigation continues to unfold, as Trump continues to surprise both friends and foes with his actions, there are a multitude of possibilities for news that could affect satisfaction significantly in either direction.

The transient news of the day is not as important as trends.  This is a trend, and it favors the GOP.  It's more evidence that the "Blue Wave" predicted almost since Trump took office may be a mirage come November.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Separating Families At The Border: The Hysteria Overlooks Some Key Facts




EDITORIAL


Illegal Immigration: The latest outrage by the Trump administration is its policy of "ripping" children away from parents who've crossed the border illegally. As with so many other things involving Trump, there's plenty of emotion but precious little in the way of facts.

The furor reached critical mass after the Department of Homeland Security said on Friday that 1,995 children had been separated from their illegal border crossing parents from mid-April through May. That number included, DHS said, cases where the adults were arrested for illegal entry, immigration violations, or possible criminal conduct.

The practice has generated a rising storm of protests, including from Republicans, ever since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration's "zero tolerance" for illegal border crossers. Laura Bush took to the Washington Post's op-ed page to decry it as "cruel" and "immoral." Trump supporter Franklin Graham called it "disgraceful."

Trump himself says he doesn't want to see families separated while the legal process works its way out, and then went on to blame Democrats for the problem.

So what's going on here?

First, it's important to note that many of the "separations" don't last long at all.

As Rich Lowry explains in a detailed article in National Review, "when a migrant is prosecuted for illegal entry, he or she is taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals," in which case, as when other adults are incarcerated in the U.S., they are separated from their children.

Lowry notes that "The criminal proceedings are exceptionally short, assuming there is no aggravating factor such as a prior illegal entry or another crime. Migrants generally plead guilty, and then are sentenced to time served, typically all in the same day."

The Los Angeles Times reports that Rio Grande Valley border agents prosecuted 568 adults and separated 1,174 children since the administration announced its "zero tolerance" policy in early April. However, it only took a matter of hours to reunite more than a third of these children with their parents.
That hardly constitutes an inhumane policy of "ripping" children away from their parents.

Most of the concern about family separations centers on the administration's handling of asylum seekers who've crossed the border illegally.

In the past, the practice has been to simply detain these families for a short time in an ICE facility. But rather than return for their asylum hearing, many just disappeared into the country.

Under the "zero tolerance" policy, Trump has tried to put an end to this "catch and release" policy, by arresting every adult caught illegally crossing the border.

If parents choose to seek asylum, they can end up separated from their children for months while the asylum process plays out.

Asylum Claims

The administration is right to point out, however, that there is a legal process for seeking asylum that won't involve facing such a choice — just show up at a port of entry to make the asylum claim.

"As I have said many times before, if you are seeking asylum for your family, there is no reason to break the law and illegally cross between ports of entry," Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tweeted over the weekend.

Critics complain that the legal process just takes too long, as a way to justify illegal border crossings. 

But illegal border crossers are not only jumping the line. Under the old system they could vastly increase their chances of staying in the country — with or without gaining asylum status.

Is it wrong for Trump to try to close this unfair and potentially dangerous loophole?

Another fact conveniently overlooked amid all the hysteria is that just because a group claims to be a family, doesn't mean it's true. 

The Department of Homeland Security says that from October 2017 to February 2018 it saw "a 315% increase in the number of cases with minors fraudulently posing as 'family units' to gain entry."

Presumably that's because they think posing as a family will improve their chances of avoiding deportation. Whatever the reason, those children's separation from their parents occurred long before the border patrol showed up.

What To Do?

To be sure, the administration's bungling response to the outcry over its policies has made it harder to understand, much less defend, what's going on.

But those protesting family separations should at least acknowledge that there are reforms available that don't involve returning to the days of "catch and release," while still keeping families together — which is the ideal solution — such as letting children stay in detention centers for more than 20 days, and boosting funds for family shelters at the border.

Getting such reforms done in today's massively polarized environment, however, is unlikely. 

The question is, who's to blame for that?

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Airport Control Tower Is No Place for Racial Redress


By Jason L. Riley | The Wall Street Journal 

The air-traffic control tower at San Francisco International Airport. 
Photo: Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

The Obama FAA grounded qualified candidates in the name of justice. Why isn’t Trump moving to reverse?

Andrew Brigida is the son of a former New York City police officer. When he was 12, his family moved to a suburb of Phoenix, and at the urging of a neighbor he decided to become an air-traffic controller. In 2013 he graduated with two aviation-related bachelor’s degrees from Arizona State University, one of the dozens of schools with which the Federal Aviation Administration has partnerships to vet candidates for its air-traffic-control training program.

Graduates of these Collegiate Training Initiative schools then must pass the Air Traffic Selection and Training exam, or AT-SAT. This eight-hour test is designed to assess numeric ability, tolerance for high-intensity work, capacity for solving problems, and so forth. 

The goal is to determine their likelihood of completing the requisite training to become an air-traffic controller. Training a controller is expensive—on average it costs more than $400,000—and the CTI system has proved an accurate predictor of who’s got what it takes.

Mr. Brigida completed the college program, aced the AT-SAT and received a strong recommendation from an academic adviser. He was then placed on a list with other prospective controllers, who would be sent to Oklahoma City for the mandated 15 weeks of training. Five years later, Mr. Brigida still is not working as an air-traffic controller. 

What happened is the Obama administration.

In 2013 the Obama FAA changed the process for hiring controllers and then applied the new policy retroactively. 

No longer would the FAA give hiring preference to applicants with degrees from CTI schools or military experience, as it had in the past. 

In order to foster “diversity” in control towers, the agency would move away from merit-based hiring and toward more subjective measures. 

To attract a higher percentage of candidates from racial and ethnic minorities, a “biographical questionnaire,” or BQ, was added to the screening process. 

Applicants were asked about their upbringing, family hardship and the like. Those who didn’t score well enough on the BQ were deemed ineligible, regardless of how well they had performed on tests measuring cognitive skills.

What’s worse, Mr. Brigida and some 2,600 others already on the FAA referral list were notified that their AT-SAT results would be tossed and that they would need to reapply. Mr. Brigida did so but was told that he had failed the BQ and was no longer eligible to become an air-traffic controller.

“The most shocking thing to me is that nobody in that room when this change was decided—not the secretary of transportation, not the head of the FAA—raised his hand and said that we’re talking about airline safety here,” said William Perry Pendley of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a public-interest law firm that is representing Mr. Brigida and other plaintiffs in a discrimination lawsuit against the federal government.

“We’re not talking about somebody driving a truck. We’re talking about somebody guiding an aircraft into snowbound Chicago.”

Equally shocking is the revelation that the Trump administration is fighting in court to preserve the Obama-era policy. 

Like its predecessor, this administration is ignoring the fact that thousands of people like Mr. Brigida dedicated years of their lives to getting the proper schooling—in some cases incurring significant debt—only to see the rules changed in the middle of the game. 

Moreover, the changes weren’t to streamline the process or improve safety but rather to achieve what the government decided (for now) is the “right” racial mix.

The Trump administration should be returning to a sensible system that prioritizes objective measures of competence. 

After all, being a controller means making life-or-death decisions on a regular basis. Instead, the administration has opted to preserve a policy that in practice amounts to thinly disguised discrimination in the service of boosting the number of minority air-traffic controllers.

The Trump administration didn’t respond to my questions about the case, but the proper course of action is clear: Settle with Mr. Brigida and the thousands of other eminently qualified plaintiffs. Allow them to embark on careers as air-traffic controllers. 

And then reverse the wrongheaded and potentially dangerous hiring procedures implemented by an Obama administration obsessed with racial balance.

Mr. Pendley believes that his clients are victims of blatant racial discrimination and that the FAA’s current hiring practices won’t withstand scrutiny by the courts. 

If you care more about your plane landing safely than about the racial makeup of folks manning the airport control tower, you should hope his lawsuit succeeds.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Black America's 'Stockholm Syndrome'


By Aubrey Shines | Real Clear Politics

Photo: Bishop Aubrey Shines and Dr. Alveda King, niece of 
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

For too long, black America has let its political voice and power be taken for granted.

When Kanye West recently suggested that African-Americans didn’t need to be Democrats, Rep. Maxine Waters quickly tried to put him in his place. 

Waters told Kanye, in effect, that he needs permission -- from his betters, presumably -- to say what he believes. In other words, don’t talk out of turn; follow the thinking of the group. 

She sounded like a plantation manager of old, insisting that everyone else follow the rules she and other black Democratic leaders set down for “their” people.

Black America’s monolithic loyalty to the Democratic Party does not empower blacks, however. 

If we are not “allowed” to entertain any political alternatives, we are left locked into a party that has not served our interests.

Call it a kind of collective Stockholm Syndrome: The condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors.

Trillions of dollars have been poured into the inner cities, and yet these groupthinkers are blind to the seven-decade failure of the Democratic Party’s policies to improve the lives of black Americans. 

When they are asked if it would not be better if single moms and dads could take their tax dollars and send their children to schools that are not ravished by gangs and drugs, the groupthinkers echo the narrative that black politicians and white liberals have taught them: 

That school choice “starves” the failing public school system and harms their neighborhoods. 

These groupthinkers don’t tell you that members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the children of white Democrats typically send their own children to private schools.

I have recently come under attack for chronicling this history of the Democratic Party on Fox News and elsewhere. 

While I don’t advocate identity politics, I often remind African-Americans that even the late Malcolm X told the blacks of his day, “While you put the Democrats first, they put you last.” 

He also called blacks political chumps and traitors to their own race for reflexively supporting the party.

All Americans today are reaping the benefits of the Trump administration’s economic policies. 

Employment is at an all-time high; black and Hispanic unemployment is at record lows. 

December’s tax cuts doubled the tax credits for school-age children and raised take-home pay for nearly all American taxpayers. 

Incomes have risen in real terms for the first time in 18 years, tax refunds next year that will be substantially larger, 2 million-plus poor Americans are no longer on food stamps.

This has been achieved by the GOP, which was founded in 1854 as the anti-slavery party. 

What’s more, most states with Republican governors are outperforming so-called blue states — those run by Democrats. No matter what the color of your skin happens to be, economic opportunity comes from freedom, not higher taxes and big government.

Meanwhile, the economic fallout from group thinking can be seen in every major city in America, where the plantation supervisors are still channeling the failed oppressors’ spirit upon the minds of the weak. 

It’s long past time that black America shake off the plantation manager’s yoke and shake off its Stockholm syndrome. 

Groupthink has gotten this group nowhere.

Bishop Aubrey Shines is a pastor, author and evangelist.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Yes, Hillary Should Have Been Prosecuted

By David French | National Review


I know this is ancient history, but — I’m sorry — I just can’t let it go. 

When historians write the definitive, sordid histories of the 2016 election, the FBI, Hillary, emails, Russia, and Trump, there has to be a collection of chapters making the case that Hillary should have faced a jury of her peers.

The IG report on the Hillary email investigation contains the most thoughtful and thorough explanation of the FBI’s decision to recommend against prosecuting Hillary. 

At the risk of oversimplifying a long and complex discussion, the IG time and again noted that (among other things) the FBI focused on the apparent lack of intent to violate the law and the lack of a clear precedent for initiating a prosecution under similar facts. 

It also describes how the FBI wrestled with the definition of “gross negligence” — concluding that the term encompassed conduct “so gross as to almost suggest deliberate intention” or “something that falls just short of being willful.”

After reading the analysis, I just flat-out don’t buy that Hillary’s conduct — and her senior team’s conduct — didn’t meet that standard. The key reason for my skepticism is the nature of the classified information sent and received. 

Remember, as Comey outlined in his infamous July 5, 2016 statement, Hillary sent and received information that was classified at extraordinarily high levels:

For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. 

These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. 

There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.

If you’ve ever handled classified information, you understand that there are often judgment calls at the margins. When I was in Iraq, I often made the first call about classification. 

In other words, I determined whether to send information up the chain via the unclassified system (NIPRNet) or the classified system (SIPRNet). Entire categories of information were deemed classified by default. Other categories were commonly unclassified.

But sometimes, I had to make a choice. And sometimes, the choice wasn’t clear.

The lack of clarity, however, wasn’t between unclassified and Top Secret.

Much less between unclassified and Top Secret/Special Access Program (TS/SAP). 

There might be tough calls between unclassified and confidential — or maybe between unclassified and secret. 

But the gap between unclassified and Top Secret, much less SAP, was and is vast, yawning, and obvious. 

In fact, the IG noted that “some witnesses expressed concern or surprise when they saw some of the classified content in unclassified emails.”

I bet they did.

The IG indicated that State Department security procedures were lax, and that if the DOJ were to prosecute Hillary, it would have to prosecute many other employees. 

Well, if the employees are sharing TS/SAP information on unclassified systems, then let the prosecutions commence. 

But I’m dubious that it’s common to share information that highly classified. 

In fact, when the IG outlined allegedly “similar” cases where the DOJ declined to prosecute, they weren’t similar at all.

Moreover, it’s important to remember that one can’t generally simply copy/paste or forward emails from classified to unclassified systems. (That’s likely why the emails on her homebrew system didn’t contain classified headers.) 

A person has to take information from one source and summarize it or painstakingly type it out on another platform. All of that takes effort. All of it requires intention. 

And it’s one reason why I have confidence that if Hillary had been Captain Clinton, United States Army, instead of Secretary Clinton, Democratic nominee for president, then the consequences would have been very different indeed.

In reading the report, I’m reminded of Homer Simpson’s famous declaration, that alcohol is the “cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.” 

For Hillary, the FBI turned out to be first the solution to, then the cause of, the decline of her campaign. 

By wrongly refusing to recommend prosecution, it made her candidacy possible

By then failing to follow proper procedures in its two later public announcements, it helped end her presidential dream.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. @DavidAFrench

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/hillary-clinton-should-have-been-prosecuted/