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Candidates Must Address Bipartisan Roots Of Immigration Crisis

This article was produced in partnership by the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

The Democratic candidates missed the opportunity last week in Nevada—a state with a 30 percent Latino population—to address the root causes of our immigration crisis. They predictably criticized the worst Trump administration immigration policies, such as families separated at the border and chronic uncertainty for undocumented people in the U.S., many of whom arrived decades ago as children. How we treat people at or inside our border certainly deserves attention, but we cannot ignore that many people come to the United States in the first place because our foreign policies—by both Democrats and Republicans—force them to leave their homes in Latin America and elsewhere.

The U.S. displaces its neighbors by displacing their governments. The Obama administration supported the 2009 coup d’état against Honduras’ elected President Manuel Zelaya by U.S.-trained generals. The Obama and then the Trump administrations supported repressive and corrupt governments that followed Zelaya’s ouster, giving a green light to assassinations of dissidents and journalists, government-linked drug trafficking, and spiraling crime. This repression continues to drive tens of thousands to seek asylum in the U.S. each year, regardless of the legal obstacles we erect. More recently, the Trump administration supported last November’s military coup d’état in Bolivia—with little opposition from Democrats—deepening that country’s political crisis.

United States aid and trade policies—often touted as helping our neighbors—also drive people from their homes to our borders. NAFTA opened markets for highly efficient and highly subsidized U.S. farmers by lifting tariffs. Less subsidized Mexican farmers could not compete, and overnight lost their livelihood, forcing many to seek replacement livelihoods in the United States. In Haiti, President Bill Clinton admitted—after he left office—to a “devil’s bargain” on rice tariffs that was “good for some of my farmers in Arkansas,” but destroyed rice farming and generated hunger and malnutrition in Haiti.

The failure of the United States to tackle climate change contributes to a global migration crisis. Catastrophic disasters—growing more frequent and severe —displace more than 20 million people each year. This includes Nicaraguans and Hondurans benefitting from Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the United States since 1998’s Hurricane Mitch, and hundreds of thousands in Central America’s “Dry Corridor,” now facing their sixth year of drought.

The burden of harmful U.S. foreign policies falls disproportionately on women. In African countries struck by droughts, girls are taken out of school to make the longer walk for their family’s water. Repressive governments we support in Brazil, Honduras, and the Philippines keep women “in their place” with regressive laws, and by committing and permitting attacks against women advocates. Women displaced from their homes and headed to our border face a high risk of sexual assault.

Congress recently demonstrated how bipartisan cooperation can achieve more principled and constructive policies. Last spring, both houses of Congress passed a bill by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) invoking the War Powers Resolution to stop U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen that has displaced 3 million people and killed more than 100,000. President Trump vetoed the bill, but Congress’ War Powers authority, neglected for decades, is now out of the toolbox: on February 13, Senate Republicans and Democrats passed a similar measure to constrain the president’s ability to attack Iran.

The Democratic candidates have moved on to Super Tuesday states, two of which, Texas and California, have 26 million Latinos—more than the total population of any other state. Many Latino voters know from personal and family experience how U.S. policies drive people from their homes. They deserve to know, as do all of us, how candidates will address these root causes of our immigration crisis.

Candidates can start to address the root causes by pledging to respect the choices made by voters in other countries—even if we disagree with them—and ensure that our tax dollars will support economic and social development rather than war.  They can announce trade policies that help farmers farm on both sides of the border, and workers everywhere earn a living wage. They can vow to reduce hurricanes, floods, and drought by putting more solar panels on our roofs and less carbon into our atmosphere. In short, the candidates can show how the United States will help our neighbors live secure, dignified lives in their own communities. Because that is a foreign policy that will ultimately benefit all of us.

Stephen Miller: Blocking Immigrants ‘Is All I Care About’

Stephen Miller, Donald Trump’s senior policy adviser and the architect of many of his harshest immigration policies, told staff in a meeting last fall that restricting the ability of migrants to come to the United States is “all I care about.”

According to the New Yorker, Miller made the comments at a November 2019 meeting with officials from the Departments of Homeland Security, State, and Justice. The meeting was intended to discuss plans to prohibit migrants from applying for asylum at the U.S. southern border and to force them to apply for asylum in the first country they enter instead.

“One participant in the November meeting pointed out that El Salvador didn’t have a functioning asylum system,” the outlet reported. “‘They don’t need a system,’ Miller interrupted. He began speaking over people, asking questions, then cutting off the answers.”

At the end of the meeting, Miller was even more blunt.

“I didn’t mean to come across as harsh,” he told officials. “It’s just that this is all I care about. I don’t have a family. I don’t have anything else. This is my life.”

Miller is widely known as the architect of some of the Trump administration’s most racist immigration policies. He spearheaded the Muslim Ban, which restricts travel from countries with majority Muslim populations, and has played an integral role in the administration’s efforts to ban refugees from coming to to the United States.

He made headlines in August 2017 when he argued with reporters that the poem mounted on the Statue of Liberty, The New Colossus, was not representative of U.S. views on immigration because it was added to the statue later.

That claim is popular among white supremacists and has been pushed by the likes of David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and white nationalist Richard Spencer.

In November, Miller came under fire for leaked emails that showed him promoting white nationalist propaganda and materials from white supremacist sites. The emails, mostly between himself and a former Breitbart editor, were so alarming that a group of 27 senators sent a letter to the White House in December demanding Miller be fired.

The letter stated that the emails showed Miller was motivated “not [by] national security” but rather “white supremacy — something that has no place in our country, federal government, and especially not the White House.”

Miller continues to work in the White House. Trump attended Miller’s February wedding, which took place at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

The Amazing Fall Of Donald Trump’s Wall

Big, high walls can be troublesome. Ask Humpty Dumpty. Or consider the Canaanite city of Jericho: According to a Biblical tale, its walls came tumbling down when Joshua and the Israelites encircled it and blew their horns.

However, for a real-life, epic story about wall troubles, ponder the trials and tribulations of our very own president. He trumpets that he is the most bodacious barrier builder of all, yet he can’t seem to get his one “big, beautiful wall” funded or even taken seriously, much less built. Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump has continuously stamped his tiny feet and demanded that Congress shell out more than 10 billion of our taxpayers’ dollars to erect a monster of a wall across some 2,000 miles of the U.S. border with Mexico. Like a flimflamming snake-oil peddler, he rants that his magnificent edifice would magically keep “aliens,” “rapists,” “murderers,” “terrorists,” “drugs” and “cartels” from entering the U.S. from the south. But even when his own party controlled both houses of Congress, the presidency and the courts, his grand scheme went unloved, unfunded and unbuilt.

Still, he kept insisting … and persisting. In January, he directed his Customs and Border Control officials to put up a short section of his 30-foot-tall wall on the border at Calexico, California, to show the world how effective the Trump bulwark would be. Alas, though, the thing blew over! Not from a hurricane-force storm but from moderate winds topping out at only 37 miles an hour. The metal panels flung over into Mexico. Embarrassing.

More embarrassing was a personal visit Trump made to San Diego last September for a media event hailing a new supertech model of a wall that the master builder declared to be “virtually impossible” for violators to climb. Calling the design “amazing,” he used a Sharpie to sign his name on the structure, declaring to the media: “I tell you this strongly: No more people can come in.”

A month later, a climbing group in Kentucky built a replica of that wall and held an up-and-over competition. Winning time was 13.1 seconds! Sixty-five competitors easily topped it, including an 8-year-old girl and a guy who climbed it one-handed while juggling various items with his other hand.

Trump has, however, proved that one thing truly is impenetrable: his head. Absolutely no embarrassment, logic or factual evidence can enter his locked mind and deter his extravagant folly.

Remember when candidate Trump promised repeatedly that not only would he wall out all migrants crossing our Mexican border but — by gollies — he would also see to it that Mexico would pay the tab for his xenophobic wall?

Mexico hasn’t paid a peso … and won’t. So, just as he did in building many of his luxury condos and resorts, Donald Dealmaker ran to the government, demanding that it pony up the unlimited billions of dollars for his pet political project. Aside from a token appropriation in 2018, however, Congress has said, “Ummmm … no.”

But that’s no hill for a narcissistic climber. Unable to get tax money legitimately, Trump has simply stolen it, reaching into the Pentagon’s budget for military funding. Ignoring the constitutional mandate that only Congress is empowered to direct the flow of money from the people’s purse, Trump filched $6.1 billion from our military last year, snatched another $3.8 billion this month and intends to swipe at least another $3.4 billion before the year is out.

This executive “reprogramming,” as the White House euphemistically calls its daylight robbery, is being pulled off by masking Trump’s wall obsession as a “national emergency.” To fulfill the president’s whimsical political desires, Pentagon brass has been yanking funds for military equipment and construction projects from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, National Guard … and, ultimately, from our fighting forces.

Presidential autocracy aside, Trump’s massive larceny raises three other interesting issues of public morality. One: His trickery sets a precedent not only for future presidents but also for our young people’s behavior. Two: Our Congress critters, especially Trump Republicans, set a new standard of craven meekness in the face of this direct assault on their authority and our democracy. Three: The Pentagon, by simply kissing off a budget loss of more than $13 billion, saying it’s in excess of the military’s needs, is admitting that the war machine is routinely taking away too much of the public’s money.

Populist author, public speaker and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes “The Hightower Lowdown,” a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America’s ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at HightowerLowdown.org.

Mulvaney Admits On Tape US ‘Desperate’ For Immigrants

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was caught on tape admitting that, despite President Donald Trump’s policy preferences, the United States is “desperate” for more immigrants, according to a recording obtained by the Washington Post.

He further undermined the administration’s claims of its economic prowess, admitting that immigration is necessary for sustained economic growth.

“We are desperate — desperate — for more people,” Mulvaney said, according to the post, stressing that it should be legal. “We are running out of people to fuel the economic growth that we’ve had in our nation over the last four years. We need more immigrants.”

These claims are not really contentious from an economic perspective, but they run counter to dominant narratives in the Trump administration. The president himself has repeatedly talked about immigration as a substantial burden on the country, rather than a benefit, and his administration has acted accordingly to reduce the number of immigrants coming in. Trump and his defenders have also cheered his economic stewardship of the country — on highly dubious grounds — and even predicted 5 or 6 percent growth, which hasn’t come to pass and was never even in the realm of possibility. They’ve argued that the GOP tax cuts and Trump’s deregulatory agenda have reinvigorated American economic growth, but the reality is far less impressive than the rhetoric.

While some critics of immigration insist that Trump and his allies are only opposed to illegal immigration, the policy choices tell a different story. Trump has, for instance, dramatically slashed the number of refugees the United States accepts, a form of legal immigration, and tried to restrict access to legal asylum-seeking processes.

Forbes writer Stuart Anderson argued that the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule, which seeks to limit immigration from people who might need government services, could have a massive negative economic effect.

“Admitting fewer immigrants generally means less economic growth, since labor force growth is an important element of economic growth,” he wrote. “It is economic growth that improves the standard of living in a nation. Using the public charge rule to reduce legal immigration means lower long-term economic growth may be Donald Trump’s most lasting legacy.”

And the data indicates that Trump’s policies are having the expected negative effect on immigration rates. In a separate piece, Anderson found that between 2016 and 2018, legal immigration to the United States fell by 7 percent.

Before Trump’s election in 2016, it was clear Mulvaney was not on board with the Republican nominee’s agenda and disliked him personally.

“Yes, I am supporting Donald Trump, but I’m doing so despite the fact that I think he’s a terrible human being,” Mulvaney said.

In 2015, he was critical of Trump’s remarks about immigration specifically.

“The fence doesn’t solve the problem,” Mulvaney said, as CNN reported. “Is it necessary to have one, sure? Would it help? Sure. But to just say build the darn fence and have that be the end of an immigration discussion is absurd and almost childish for someone running for president to take that simplistic of [a] view.”