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Monday, December 09, 2019

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Let's have a conversation about immigration. An honest one.

In sending migrants to liberal states, the Republican governors of Florida, Texas and Arizona engaged in what even The Wall Street Journal slammed as "political stunts" that turn human beings into "political props."

Its purpose was to blame Democrats for the current chaos at the border. The truth is that Republicans, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have stymied serious efforts, even conservative ones, to curb the flow of undocumented immigrants. Florida is every bit as much a "sanctuary state" as New York. DeSantis just doesn't call it that.

One can argue that President Joe Biden has made the situation worse with his talk about a kinder, more open approach to immigration. His fine expressions of humanity set off a stampede of people trying their luck at the border. The vast majority of illegal entrants come here for jobs. Many simply claim asylum knowing that the clogged immigration courts won't get them a first hearing for an average 810 days, during which time they can set roots in America.

And so how is the Republican Party at fault? Strip away its hollering about illegal immigration, and you have a party that has stopped nearly every effort to get at the root of the problem.

The only solution is to remove the job magnet, and there's already a system in place to do that. E-Verify lets employers quickly check a database to determine whether a new hire may legally work in this country. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security runs it.

A few states mandate that all employers use E-Verify. Not Florida. DeSantis and his Republican legislature passed a law requiring only companies doing business with the state and some big private employers to use E-Verify. Left out are most restaurants, tourist operations, maintenance services, construction companies — the very businesses that employ large numbers of undocumented workers.

In his campaign, former President Donald Trump made a promise to make E-Verify mandatory nationwide. Once in office, he dropped it. His "plan" for an immigration fix made no mention of E-Verify. As Trump explained to Fox News, "E-Verify is so tough that in some cases, like farmers, they're not — they're not equipped for E-Verify." In other words, it made hiring illegal labor too hard.

In 2013, the Senate passed, in a bipartisan vote, an immigration reform bill that would have required all employers to electronically verify a right to work in the U.S. As a compromise, it would have legalized the status of most undocumented immigrants already in the country.

But when the bill got to the House, then-Speaker John Boehner refused to put it up for a vote. Although it would have easily passed, the measure did not have the support of a majority of Republican members. They railed against another amnesty for "lawbreakers," ignoring that E-Verify would have made it the last amnesty. But there was also their hush-hush campaign to keep cheap labor flowing to their business supporters. The Wall Street Journal even called for a constitutional amendment saying, "There shall be open borders."

Look where we are almost 10 years later. If America needs more workers — and it appears it does — then it should admit more immigrants through the front door.

In the meantime, municipalities should stop declaring themselves "sanctuary cities." And Republicans running their mouths about stopping the tide of illegal entrants should own up to their hypocrisy and actually make the hard choices.

You want to find illegal workers? Check out the kitchens in Miami, Orlando and West Palm Beach. DeSantis has made sure that opportunity to evade our immigration laws continues to knock, papers not required. And that's the truth.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

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By Karen Freifeld

(Reuters) - Steve Bannon, a onetime top strategist for former President Donald Trump and recipient of a presidential pardon, is expected to surrender to New York authorities on Thursday to face a new indictment, a person familiar with the matter said.

Bannon in 2020 was accused in federal court of defrauding donors to a fund to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but that indictment was dismissed after he was pardoned in the final hours of Trump's presidency.

The new indictment is for state criminal charges that may mirror parts of the earlier federal case, though it is unclear because the indictment is still sealed, the person said.

A spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office declined to comment.

Bannon himself issued a statement Tuesday night, after the Washington Post first reported the new indictment.

"This is nothing more than a partisan political weaponization of the criminal justice system," Bannon said in the statement.

He said Manhattan federal prosecutors did the same thing in August 2020 to try to take him out of that year's election.

"It didn't work then; it certainly won't work now," Bannon said.

Bannon is expected to appear in state court in Manhattan on Thursday and then be released pending trial, the person said.

A president can pardon people for federal crimes but not state crimes.

Bannon is not the first Trump ally to be charged in state court. In 2019, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office attempted to pursue former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on felony charges, including mortgage fraud, that were similar to crimes for which Manafort had been convicted in federal court.

But the charges were dismissed after rulings that they amounted to double jeopardy, or trying someone twice for the same conduct. Manafort was pardoned by Trump in 2020.

Bannon had pleaded not guilty in the federal case, but double jeopardy may not apply because he was never tried.

Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato, who were charged alongside Bannon in the federal “We Build the Wall” case, pleaded guilty to fraud charges in April.

Bannon runs a popular hard-right podcast, "War Room," where he regularly promotes pro-Trump information and hosts guests who deny that Trump lost the 2020 election.

In July, Bannon was convicted of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating last year's attack on the U.S. Capitol, a verdict the panel called a "victory for the rule of law."

Bannon was a main adviser to Trump's 2016 Republican presidential campaign, then served as his chief White House strategist during 2017 before a falling out that was later patched up.

Bannon, 68, championed "America First" right-wing populism and fierce opposition to immigration that became hallmarks of Trump's presidency.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld; additional reporting by Luc Cohen; editing by Jonathan Oatis)