Dispute Over Illegal Immigrants Threatens Federal Funding For Sanctuary Cities

Protesters hold up signs outside a courthouse where a federal judge will hear arguments in the first lawsuit against challenging President Donald Trump’s executive order to withhold funding from communities that limit cooporation with immigration authorities Friday April 14th, 2017, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Haven Daley)

President Lincoln once warned that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Illegal immigration in the United States today is threatening to pose such a challenge, dividing the nation and creating a checkerboard of law enforcement that is undermining the rule of law. While President Trump seeks to enforce federal immigration laws to remove all illegal aliens, his opponents seek to shelter illegal immigrants from what they perceive are unjust laws that are leading to unfair results.

Nowhere is the conflict better presented than in an extraordinary exchange of letters a few weeks ago between Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, the Chief Justice of the State of California and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly. As I pointed out in a previous column, Cantil-Sakauye started the exchange by writing, “Courthouses should not be used as bait in the necessary enforcement of our country’s immigration laws.”

In their joint response Sessions and Kelly replied that courthouse detentions have been made necessary by so-called “sanctuary” policies that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement at the local, county and state level. According to their view,

Some jurisdictions, including the State of California and many of its largest counties and cities, have enacted statutes and ordinances designed to specifically prohibit or hinder ICE from enforcing immigration law … As a result, ICE officers and agents are required to locate and arrests these aliens in public places, rather than in secure jail facilities.

They added that courthouses offer a safe alternative for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) because visitors are typically screened upon entry.

Cantil-Sakauye issued a reply to Sessions and Kelly saying that, “… making arrests at courthouses, in my view, undermines public safety because victims and witnesses will fear coming to courthouses to help enforce the law.” She further stated that she was disappointed that courthouses are not added to ICE’s ‘sensitive areas’ list that includes schools, churches, and hospitals.”

This exchange between some of this countries highest officials is a microcosm of the larger national conflict being played out over illegal immigration in the United States. The argument presented is that federal officials can enforce immigration laws, but not at courthouses, schools, churches and hospitals. Some parts of the country according to this viewpoint are above law enforcement. Another part of the problem has been that since 2014 the law on immigration detainers has changed. Detainers are ICE documents that seek to prevent the release of arrested accused until federal officials have had a chance to identify and review the immigration status of someone in jail. Several federal court decisions have found key aspects of ICE’s detainer system unconstitutional and in violation of federal statutes. Thus not all jurisdictions are cooperating in removals. In short – patchwork enforcement is the norm with immigration laws.

In the most recent Trump-defying move, California’s Senate passed a sanctuary state bill in a 27-12 vote along party lines with Democrats in support and Republicans in opposition. The immigration issue looms large in California because nearly a quarter of the US population of undocumented immigrants reside there. Estimates range from 2.35 to 2.6 million, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. The Senate also passed Senate Bill 6 in a 28-11 vote that creates a $12 million legal defense fund for immigrants who are facing deportation, except for those convicted of a violent felony.

While the term “Sanctuary City” has no legal meaning, the essence is that the city does not devote municipal funds or resources to help enforce federal immigration laws.  These cities normally do not permit police or municipal employees to inquire about one’s immigration status. A patchwork of four states, 39 cities and 364 counties have now adopted pro-immigrant policies inspired by the Sanctuary Movement.  A map of the country that portrays the current status can be found here.

Concerned about the growth of sanctuary cities in the United States, President Trump signed an Executive Order on January 25th, 2017 essentially attempting to cut off the flow of federal funds to cities that do not assist federal immigration officials seeking to enforce immigration laws. That’s what  ignited the fireworks.

A recent report indicates that sanctuary cities in 32 states could lose $870 million this year if Trump is allowed to enforce his order. California stands to lose the most at $240 million, followed by $191 million for New York, and $91 million for Illinois. Trump’s attack on sanctuary jurisdictions has made some cities adopt pro-undocumented immigrant policies, while those that have historically been considered sanctuaries, including San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles, have doubled down. Miami-Dade County in Florida, however, went in the opposite direction and retracted its position as a sanctuary county after the mayor ordered county jails to honor ICE hold requests a day after Trump signed his order.

Meanwhile U.S. Mayors and Police Chiefs have expressed concern with the sanctuary cities executive order. They pointed out that U.S. Supreme Court has held that denying federal funds to cities to coerce compliance with federal policies may be unconstitutional. They added that Trump’s executive order does not provide a clear definition of what constitutes a sanctuary jurisdiction. Furthermore, they said that the order gives undefined discretion to the Secretary of Homeland Security to designate sanctuary jurisdictions.

What started out as a war of words on the Presidential campaign trail has morphed into a financial battle pitting the federal government against state, county and local jurisdictions. Legal challenges have arisen. The courts have become the battleground where this contest is being played out. Meanwhile millions of illegal immigrants hold their breath awaiting what will happen next while uncertainty prevails in the country at large.

How To Avoid Deportation and Ice Raids

In an extraordinary letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye,  the Chief Justice of the State of California, recently wrote:

I am deeply concerned about reports from some of our trial courts that immigration agents appear to be stalking undocumented immigrants in our courthouses to make arrests … Courthouses should not be used as bait in the necessary enforcement of our country’s immigration laws… I respectfully request that you refrain from this sort of enforcement in California’s courthouses.

Courthouses were not the only places where the national campaign to catch illegal immigrants in America is being played out.  According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), these raids, such as the one that recently took place in South Texas over a 12-day period capturing 153 people, targeted criminals, illegal re-entrants and immigration fugitives.  The campaign has been criticized by critics like Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and others, because of where it was being carried out, such as at courthouses and schools, or in so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ that refuse to fully comply with demands made by immigration officials in the course of their efforts to capture illegal immigrants. One critic, Mayor Steve Adler of Austin, Texas recently said that some 100,000 people in his city alone have been caught up in “mass hysteria” created by the raids.

As a U.S. immigration attorney, I have held several legal aid clinics to discuss the implications of  recent ICE raids with the immigrant community in the New York area. In the course of such meetings I have often been asked what steps illegal immigrants can take to protect themselves from such raids and where they can escape to, if they are unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin. Short of a genuine marriage to a U.S. citizen spouse prepared to sponsor the illegal immigrant, or a change in the registry date that would make it possible for many immigrants to regularize their status as I proposed in an article not long ago, there are few measures a person can take to protect themselves in America. When I answer in this manner, the next question usually is what non-American options are there, such as in Canada.

Since I am also a Canadian immigration lawyer, that is what I usually cover next.

Briefly, illegality in the United States closes off all non-immigrant options in Canada, such as student, worker or visitor visa options. That is because the illegal stay in the U.S. is evidence that the immigrant has no intent of returning to his or her country of origin. However, all options related to permanent residence in Canada are still open to such illegal immigrants, but only if, they entered the U.S. as a student, worker, or in some status other than a visitor and stayed legally for not less than one year. In other words, if an illegal immigrant entered legally but after one year of legal status then became illegal, that immigrant can qualify to immigrate to Canada. The one-year of legal residence in the U.S. was implemented to prevent immigrants from  hopping around to various Canadian Consulates to find a way to come to Canada. For more details about Canadian possibilities, check out the article I wrote just before the election last year. The challenge with Canada, however, is timing.

For example, probably the quickest way an illegal immigrant in America can get permanent resident status in Canada would be under Canada’s skilled worker express entry program. Under that program it is possible for a young,  masters-level educated, one-year-work-experienced, English or French speaking immigrant to score enough points under Canada’s point system to gain permission to land within about six months. A few provincial nominee (PNP) programs may involve similar processing times. If you are not under pressure to leave at this moment, that may work for you. If you are under pressure, however, you will need to try something else. That’s pretty much it for Canada, except perhaps for a genuine marriage to a Canadian citizen who sponsors you. You could try to delay your U.S. deportation process by submitting evidence you have applied to Canada, are awaiting a decision and ask the court to give you enough time to be approved. It could possibly work.

If you need a realistic option in a shorter time frame than Canada can provide, there are a few other good options you can look at. These involve moving to one of the countries in the Caribbean community, such as Antigua, for example. There are many nations to choose from.

In one scenario, for as little as $ 150,000 USD all costs included, a single illegal U.S. immigrant can secure a passport within 12 weeks to move to live in the Caribbean permanently. No preliminary visit is required and everything can be arranged inside the U.S.

Additional benefits would include:

  • Full citizenship, with the right to live and work.
  • Dual citizenship is allowed.
  • No requirement to reside in the country before or after citizenship is granted.
  • Visa-free travel on a well-recognized passport to over 95 countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Singapore and Hong Kong, but excluding the USA.
  • The application process is confidential.
  • Minimal taxation – no wealth, gift, inheritance, foreign income or capital gains tax and no personal income tax for residents. No “double taxation” treaties with the USA and many other countries.
  • No restriction on the repatriation of profits and imported capital.
  • Generous incentive packages including corporate tax incentives, full exemption from import duties, tax relief benefits and export allowance.
  • Currency pegged to US Dollar.
  • Minimal taxation – no wealth, gift, inheritance, foreign income or capital gains tax.
  • Ability to apply for permanent residence to Canada after one year of residence in the country, although must meet Canadian rules to immigrate.

Depending on the country chosen, the cost of such an option can be from as low as $ 150,000 U.S. for an individual, to $ 240,000 U.S. for a couple (if children were born in the USA there would be no need to get them passports or other citizenship) and $ 275,000 U.S. or possibly less for a larger family. Bear in mind, however, that leaving America after a year of unlawful status would trigger a ten year bar to re-entry. That may not be so bad, however, considering what awaits you here. Furthermore, while ten years is a long time, some illegal immigrants may be willing to wait it out to be able to return to America afterwards.

These options are clearly not for everyone. But for those who can afford them and who are prepared to face change in view of the developments in America, they can be real lifesavers. Bearing in mind that some 7 million illegal immigrants in the United States have been here for over 10 years, some own houses and even businesses. Such individuals may find these options doable and even desirable. Such individuals should seek out these options with the help of their immigration advisors.

 

So Far U.S. Courts Have Blocked Trump’s Travel Ban — But How Much Longer?

Chaos. So far, that is the only word that comes to mind in describing President Trump’s stumbling efforts to implement immigration reform. Thousands of lives have been affected by his errant steps, but they have been protected by U.S. courts that have struck down his executive orders.

The most recent incarnation of Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and his new ‘take charge’ presidential persona, was his March 6, revised executive order invoking a 120-day ban on refugee resettlement and 60-day travel bar on citizens of six predominantly Muslim countries.  That order was struck down by a Hawaiian federal court judge who ruled that it was an unlawful expression of the President’s discriminatory anti-Muslim campaign pledge.  Could it be, however, that President Trump has a few aces up his sleeve that he will use in appealing this court ruling and the others that have blocked his efforts so far? Have we all misjudged him, as we did all along since he first declared his intention to run for President?

President Donald Trump had defiantly condemned the court’s decisions blocking his immigration agenda promising to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

What the President can argue in support of his most recent executive order is that it was former President Obama, and not him, who, prompted by concerns about terrorism, put Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen on a list making travel into the United States from those countries more difficult. What is more, Trump could argue that if his purpose was really to block Muslims from the United States, his ban would have included citizens from countries such as Pakistan or Afghanistan, not to mention others that are predominantly Muslim. Yet the ban was not that encompassing.

In a legal memo, law professor Pratheepan Gulasekaram, of Santa Clara University, set out some of the other arguments Trump’s administration could use in support of the latest executive order.

For one, the Immigration and Nationality Act provisions cited by Trump in his executive order do grant the president broad power to deny entry to classes of non-citizens.  It’s a fact that six previous Presidents have banned immigrants from entering the United States, including immigrants from specific countries.  The question is, does his new order too broadly extend its reach in the face of due process and protection against religious discrimination? Is the ban both over-inclusive in barring too many nationals from countries that are not national security concerns, which has been the argument to date against the nationals included in the ban and under-inclusive in not excluding citizens of countries with people interested in harming the U.S., such as for example, individuals from Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or North Korea?

Removing Iraq from the list supported Trump’s argument that this revised order is based on an assessment of actual national security concerns. The revised order – by providing facts about the political situation in those countries on the list, taking out the preference for religious minorities, and not especially exempting Syrian refugees –may have surmounted the religious discrimination objection. Just how long can campaign rhetoric be a basis for striking down Presidential decisions? Isn’t President Trump entitled to argue that he has refined his views since those campaign days, given his briefings as the new President and that his views have changed since those early days?

Limiting the application of the immigration ban to those who do not have U.S. citizenship, dual nationalities, green cards or American visas has strengthened Trump’s defense against the due process challenge. Syrian refugees are now no longer specifically targeted, although they are included in the general ban of refugee admissions for 120 days. Trump can argue that 120 days are not forever and are reasonably necessary to reset the immigration processing rules for the sake of the national security of the United States. While the Refugee Act requires the President to consult with Congress before he enacts refugee policy, it is not clear that Trump failed to consult with Congress before suspending refugee admission and lowering the number of refugees that can apply. No doubt he will claim he met widely with Congressional leaders before making his decision and thus fulfilled this obligation.

These arguments need to be addressed by the Supreme Court of the United States to determine just how far President Trump can go using the power of executive orders. In the meantime, however, the checks and balances of the U.S. Constitution and the American system of government are at work limiting the scope of Trump’s actions while protecting the rights of those affected. So far President Trump has been stymied by these court rulings and chaos has resulted. We can expect that he will resort to other measures to limit immigration since it appears he has decided to make immigration policy the most prominent battleground for his administration’s political reform agenda.

Trump Immigration Crackdown Puts Pressure on Canada

It’s too early to definitively comment on the legality of Trump’s new immigration executive order signed Monday. However, the lingering anti-Muslim animus previously expressed by Trump during the Presidential election campaign permeates the new “Trump Lite” order. Like his previous aborted order, this new one fails to identify the countries that have been linked to terrorists who previously caused harm in the United States, most notably Saudi Arabia. So the criticism of aiming at the wrong target countries, namely, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen, still applies.

The new order is far more cautious in setting out its proscriptions and more tentative in how long they will remain in effect. A 90-day travel ban from the six Muslim countries identified seems too short a time period to make much of a fuss about, and the 120-day ban on refugee processing ostensibly to better organize the system is also not in itself unreasonable. So who knows at the moment whether it will end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

That said, however, there is no doubt that this new order will have an impact on what at least some illegal immigrants in the United States will do. It’s safe to assume some will look to Canada as a way to escape its effect. That is the focus of this article because today the Canadian Cabinet is meeting in Ottawa to consider that question.

Recently there has been growing media coverage of the trickle of migrants streaming across the U.S.-Canadian border ostensibly to get away from Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigrants. The new Trump measures to deport illegal immigrants, including this Trump Lite version, is putting pressure on Canada to consider revoking the Safe Third Party Agreement under which refugees are required to make their claims in the first country they land in and thus not import them into Canada. The argument is that the U.S. is no longer a safe country. So far the Liberal government has remained steadfast in rejecting these calls. So long as that is true the exceptions under that agreement are going to play a pivotal role in Canadian-U.S. relations as the trickle of migrants increases over the summer months – the migrants being less deterred to migrate by the freezing temperatures.

In view of these circumstances it may be worthwhile to consider what is the absorptive capacity of Canada for migrants and the makeup of the illegal population in the United States to project what kind of migrants are likely to come to Canada as more pressure is applied on them by the White House.

RCMP officers look on as an extended family of seven people from Turkey illegally cross the US-Canada border just before dawn on February 28th, 2017 near Hemmingford, Quebec. (GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

In recent years Canada has allowed 250,000 immigrants per year to arrive on its shores. Recently, Canada brought in 55,000 Syrian refugees and the Minister of immigration announced the country would be raising its quota of immigrants to 300,000 this year. That said, consider the fact that there are 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. Assuming enough pressure is applied on them, the question arises how many of them would make the trek northward? It is easy to see that Canada could easily be overwhelmed by a flood of migrants. When one considers that refugee claimants in Canada can get free health care, social assistance, education for children, work permits and legal aid, the attraction becomes even more apparent.

Looking at the composition of the illegal immigrant population in the United States, over six million have been in the U.S. for over ten years. Another six million are from Mexico. The latter is particularly significant because unlike in the U.S., Mexican citizens can come to Canada without a visa. Recently Canada has been strained by importing 55,000 Syrian refugees, imagine what would happen if a significant number of illegal immigrants from the U.S. arrived all at once into the country.

The Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) provides that if an immigrant arrives at a port of entry from the United States that immigrant can be turned back and denied the opportunity to make a refugee claim on the argument that it should be made in the first country of arrival. What if most of the migrants to Canada were long-term illegals and decided to come to the country circumventing ports of entry? In that case the STCA does not apply and they would be eligible to make a refugee claim. Some may, but some entrants may not and instead just go underground in Canada if they can get away with it.

The challenge for Canada is to be able to turn the migrants coming to its borders back to the U.S. while allowing genuine refugees to file claims where they were not properly considered in the U.S. Canada needs to negotiate with the U.S. to change the agreement. Presumably, Canada does not want anyone to come to the country illegally and for everyone to enter at ports of entry. Assuming an amendment could be negotiated, Canada could round up illegal entrants and take them to ports of entry to return them to the United States. That would not mean that in every case Canada would have to do it, but it should have the option to do it for migrants who have come merely because they are trying to escape Trump’s deportation efforts.

The distinguishing characteristic between Syrian refugees and refugees and displaced persons who immigrated to Canada previously on the one hand and new arrivals on foot from America on the other is, for the most part, that the process was legal and there were advanced arrangements made for how the first group of newcomers could integrate into Canadian society. With American illegal migrants coming to Canada, many of whom are economic migrants who have been long term residents of the U.S. and not real refugees, the situation is not the same. That’s a key difference.

For these reasons Canada needs to open up discussions with Washington. Apart from what may happen with people from America, CBC recently reported, for example, that there are 30,000 Haitians currently stuck in Mexico trying to make their way up to Canada who cannot get past the U.S. border. No doubt there are others. Paradoxically, Prime Minister Trudeau’s tweet to the effect that Canada welcomes refugees could come back to haunt him. While Canada should indeed welcome refugees, the question is how many, how it is to be done and who is making the choice. The correct way is for the government to decide who is to be afforded Canadian permanent resident status, not the immigrant. The big challenge is whether President Trump is prepared to help Canada with this problem. The very character and makeup of Canada and the Canadian way of life, could be at stake.

How To Resolve The Problem of Illegal Immigration in America

John F. Kelly, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, released two memoranda yesterday dealing with immigration enforcement. The memoranda expanded on two executive orders previously signed by President Trump to indicate how the Department will implement them. There is a lot in the memoranda: the Mexican wall; publicizing crimes of undocumented immigrants; striping privacy protections; enlisting local police as immigration enforcers; new detention facilities; discouraging asylum seekers; and speeding up deportations. A key aspect to the documents, however, is the significant expansion of the scope of expedited removals.

Through expedited removals the Department can deport non-citizens who are in the U.S. and do not have legal documents or who are improperly seeking entry at border crossings. Until now this procedure could only be employed against illegals who have been present in the U.S. for less than 14 days and who were apprehended within 100 miles of the Mexican border, or those seeking to enter the U.S. improperly. Immigration officials have used such summary procedures to also remove illegal immigrants who returned to the country and those who did not object to being removed on an expedited basis. The key to such removals has been that there was no court hearing, no due process and no right to counsel. For the most part, however, the removals were targeted against illegal immigrants with serious criminal records as a matter of prosecutorial discretion.

Mr. Kelly has removed all these restrictions on expedited removals. In other words, it no longer matters that the person has been in the U.S. for longer than 14 days, is outside the 100-mile zone or does not have a serious criminal record. An illegal immigrant who now is apprehended anywhere in the United States can be subject to expedited removal.  Every illegal immigrant, except for those who have been in the U.S. for over two years, is a potential deportee on an expedited basis. Even those present for over two years can still be removed, but they must be brought before a judge and provided due process first. In short, the enforcement aspect of U.S. immigration law has been seriously beefed up.

President Trump and Mr. Kelly will soon discover, however, that the task of removing all illegal immigrants is more difficult than it seems. Even illegal immigrants in America have certain constitutional rights, particularly those who have been here for longer periods of time. For example, longer term illegal immigrants are entitled to the right to counsel, albeit at their own expense.  They are also protected by at least the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments that provide the right to due process. Illegal immigrants also have other legal protections.  What all this means is that to remove all illegal immigrants from America would require hearings in courtrooms with judges, prosecutors, defense counsel as well as the persons concerned all trying to coordinate their calendars to schedule mutually agreeable dates for hearings before the illegal immigrant can be deported.  If you multiply this by some 11 million cases, you have a better idea of why legally removing the illegal immigrant population from America is going to take a long time and will be very expensive.

Which brings us to the question if we can’t deport all these people, what are we to do with them? In this regard it’s worth studying the illegal immigrant population a bit more closely. As of 2014, the latest year for which we have statistics, the median time an undocumented adult has been living in the U.S. is 13.6 years. What is more, about two-thirds of illegal immigrant adults in 2014 had been in the U.S. at least a decade.

Of all the illegal immigrants in America far less than one million have criminal records.  Assuming the criminal group will be dealt with by President Trump’s deportation efforts, that leaves 10 million who will not be subject to criminal expedited processing. What is more two thirds of this estimated 10 million, or some six million people, have been in this country illegally as immigrants for over 10 years. We are talking about those illegal immigrants who, apart from their immigration status, live normal, decent lives and who have families and jobs in the United States and who, for years, have been contributing to America through their work and taxes. What should  be done with them? By working something out regarding them, it may make the remaining aspects of illegal immigration much easier to sort out.

Past efforts to grant illegal immigrants an amnesty have met with stiff opposition because it was felt that it would be fundamentally unfair to reward those who broke the law while others who obeyed the law are disadvantaged. The argument was that, in the absence of a secure border, such an amnesty would only serve to attract more illegal immigrants since they would see that it doesn’t pay to abide by the law and wait their turn to come to America. The argument goes that until the borders are secure talk of any kind of amnesty is premature.

There is, however, one way that at least some illegal immigrants even today can adjust their status inside the United States and become permanent residents, and eventually citizens. That way is through registry. It has been a reality of U.S. immigration law since 1952 – more than 65 years and currently it allows those undocumented immigrants who entered the United States prior to January 1, 1972 to be lawfully admitted to permanent residence provided several conditions are met. First, the immigrant must have been living in the United States continuously since the first entry. Second, the immigrant must be “of good moral character.” Finally, the immigrant must not be otherwise inadmissible for reasons such as having a criminal conviction or supporting international terrorism.

The registry date was introduced for several reasons. For one, it was felt that there was a point beyond which an illegal immigrant’s contribution to this country outweighed the harm done. For another, Registry was a recognition of the impracticality of chasing such people forever. Like in law where there are limitation periods associated with prosecutions of offenders, fairness required some means for certain long-term residents to make amends.

There was also something in ancient script about those without sin casting the first stone. While the registry date has been updated six times since 1929, it has not been changed since 1986 when President Reagan last updated it. Indeed, not since 1952 has Congress allowed more than a 28-year gap between the cut-off date and the current year, like it has now. The law needs to be updated periodically, as it was in the past, because otherwise it becomes obsolete and thereby ceases to serve the purpose it was designed to achieve. Most importantly, the existence of registry establishes the principle of forgiveness in the immigration context, albeit under restrictive conditions.

Nonetheless, with all the good will towards illegal immigrants we might muster, some will argue it is still unfair to allow them to jump the cue and benefit from their illegality. There are ways to address those concerns, however. Some might include requiring applicants to pay all back taxes, if any, and to pay a fine. Clearly at least an FBI police clearance should be involved. But perhaps the best condition would be to require such applicants to do say, 1000 hours of community service tackling some of America’s biggest challenges. These might include working with Habitat For Humanity building homes for the poor,  volunteering in nursing homes, hospitals and schools, helping deliver meals on wheels for the disabled, shoveling snow and cutting lawns for shut-ins, picking up litter in public areas, cleaning off graffiti, sprucing up public parks, helping in soup kitchens and visiting the isolated elderly. Assuming such steps are taken, such a community service measure would turn the long-term illegal immigrant population into a huge army of community workers who through their labor could earn the right to come out of the shadows of illegality to join society in legal status while in the process helping to alleviate many social ills plaguing our society. Such community service would be particularly helpful in the years ahead as our aging population becomes more and more in need of help.

Making Registry effective once again would only require changing one date, for example,  moving the date from January 1, 1972 to say January 1, 2007. Updating the registry cutoff date would be the simplest way to get the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to do what should have done 30 years ago. The fact that the benefit of registry will only serve long term de facto residents will not help anyone who today is considering an illegal entry into America and therefor will not serve as a minimal attraction for new arrivals.  The beauty of registry is that it can resolve how we are to deal with many of the illegal immigrants in our society to refocus our energies on catching those who deserve to be removed, or at least those whose removal still makes sense since they still have closer ties to their homelands. While setting the date to January 1st, 2007 is admittedly arbitrary, there really is no fairer way of choosing the date and therefore is not worthy of extensive debate. This is no substitute to more secure borders, but neither should securing our borders be a reason for delaying such an initiative. It is true that society has an interest in screening illegal residents to keep itself safe, but screening need not always lead to removal. Implementing a new registry date through Congressional action would achieve such a goal. Let’s work towards it to counterbalance the heavily enforcement-based immigration agenda that has just been announced.

Two Truths In America?

Last Friday, President Trump tweeted that the nation’s news media is “The enemy of the American People.” In particular, he attacked the New York Times, NBC, CBS, ABC and CNN, the titans of the American news media, for what he called “Fake News.” One day earlier, during a rambling news conference he used the term “fake news” seven times in reference to the press. These are ominous public pronouncements from the leader of the free world.

If we learned anything in the last century, particularly the experience of World War II, it is that attacking the freedom of the press and restraining it is a road to certain destruction.  There are plenty of historical sources who have recorded this fact. Yet the president has embarked down this path on the pretense that he, and not major American news media outlets, speaks the truth. The evidence, however, is to the contrary.

In a running tally kept by the Toronto Star, Trump is reported to have made 80 false claims in the first month of his presidency. Indeed, according to Politifact, a Pulitizer Prize winning media organization, only 25 percent of what Trump says is essentially true. In what reads like a stunning indictment, the New Yorker set out over 50 serious legal, political or ethical transgressions Trump has committed in the first month of his administration, many entailing the problem of disputing facts or outright denial of them. As The Atlantic recently pointed out, the issue boils down to facts and Trump’s attachment to reality. The challenge Trump is posing is that by attacking the news media as an unwelcomed deceptive messenger he is obliterating the line between truth and falsehood.

Winston Churchill once said that those who remain silent in the days before a government decision is made, surrender their right to criticize the decision afterwards. This view makes sense. There are too many armchair critics who complain about government policies after they have been made, but who fail to make their disagreement known before the fact. In the case of Trump’s comments, Churchill’s admonition is even more important because the consequences of silence in the face of an attack on the media and through it, indirectly on truth and reality, can be severe.

If, as President Trump maintains, the media is “The enemy of the American people,” and it is responsible for “fake news,” could we be very far from the first arrests of journalists and the eventual shut down of dissent in the country? These are not just words and this is not just theory. As the Huffington Post has pointed out, there is a resemblance to what is happening in America today to the treatment of the press in pre-World War II Germany. While America is a strong democracy with many checks and balances, even America’s constitutional safeguards may not be able to withstand this kind of attack on the media and indirectly on truth itself.

Let us all acknowledge the truth when it is reported, no matter from what source. But let us also condemn those who would seek to impair news coverage in the name of accuracy and the truth. There is no better guarantee of our liberty than a free and vibrant media.

It is worthy of a fight – in Congress, in the courts and in state legislatures.

Winston Churchill said it best:

“If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

 

 

Trump’s Immigration Policy, The Appeal Court’s Ruling and Trudeau’s Upcoming Visit

President Trump was clearly unhappy with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision that reaffirmed the stay on his January 27th, 2017 Executive Order travel ban on certain immigrants who he claimed pose security threats to the U.S.  Calling it a “disgraceful decision” Trump indicated the decision would be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.

In summary, the Appeals Court found that the President’s Executive Orders are reviewable by the Courts, that the States have “standing” to challenge such orders, that the federal government is unlikely to win its appeal because of  a due process violation in not providing notice and a hearing prior to imposing a restriction on travel, that the federal government did not establish harm from the lower court’s order and that there is a strong public interest not only in security, but also in the free flow of travel, family reunification and non-discrimination.  The court effectively stopped Trump’s rule by Presidential edict, at least for the time being. It served to remind us that there are limits to the exercise of executive power in our society set up by the division of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government where the role of referee is assigned to the judiciary.

The result of the appeal court’s decision is to return the area of immigration back to its normal operational format. The Executive Order that was the subject of this appeal, when accompanied with the other executive orders Trump has signed dealing with immigration matters, certainly had an unsettling effect on millions of people who were effectively left in limbo by these decisions. Taken together, the executive orders created confusion as to who is affected by them. Many Americans were apprehensive about who the orders were targeting. There was uncertainty about whether approved immigrant applications would be honored.  Fear grew that the Muslim community was unfairly being blamed and targeted for the actions of extremists. The orders revealed a state of disorganization in the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State.  Families who spent years seeking to reunite in America were upset to learn their efforts were now blocked. Travelers coming to the U.S. were disoriented when they learned they would not be granted entry. Some people became detached because they did not know what can be done, while others withdrew from following daily events as they were just fed up. The orders sparked protests at home and abroad.

In short, immigration has become the first battle ground in this administration’s plan to reinvent Washington and take the country in a new direction. The battle over immigration policy has spilled over into the courts and out into the streets in almost daily demonstrations. It seems that events are unfolding more quickly now, than in the past. There appears to be a heightened state of political awareness in the nation sparked by the immigration debate. The new President, in his unorthodox manner, seems bent on condemning virtually every treaty America has signed with other countries: from the TPP with Pacific rim countries, to NAFTA with Canada and Mexico, to START with Russia and Global Warming with, well, all the countries who signed it. In the case of NAFTA, as I have previously pointed out, there could be significant immigration implications for thousands of people, and no doubt Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau will be concerned about that when he meets Trump in  Washington next Monday.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives in Washington on Monday to meet with President Trump. NAFTA and Canadian jobs are a concern in view of the President’s “America First” policy. Pic: ALICE CHICHE/AFP?Getty Images

 

The Prime Minister’s visit will be concerned with Trump’s “America First” policy and how it affects Canada, including in the case of immigration, how it will affect Canada in the area of jobs. Trump’s economic nationalism and isolationism, as encapsulated in his slogan, runs against the grain of the powerful economic processes of the division of labor and comparative advantage that have built up the economic inter-dependency of our two nations, and indeed others as well, for the prosperity of all. Taken to its extreme, if we are to follow an “America First” policy, shouldn’t that lead to a “New York First” policy, to a “Manhattan First” policy ending in focusing on self-sufficiency at the lowest levels at the cost of our general prosperity? In this context, we would expect the end of the free flow of labor in North America and severely restricted immigration policies. Is this really what’s best for all concerned?

In the meantime, there is a growing stream of would-be refugees coming to Canada in view of President Trump’s actions. This is most acutely felt at the Emerson, Manitoba Canadian border crossing where daily more and more immigrants from the United States are coming to Canada illegally. Emerson is a flash point that could lead to significant immigration issues as well as even bigger issues spilling over into Canada from the United States. While Canada is a refugee friendly country, and so far unlike the United States, has led the world in helping to relieve the international refugee crisis, Canada cannot solve that problem on its own. There are limits to Canada’s absorptive capacity and it must be born in mind that the U.S. is ten times the size of Canada, something to consider when it comes to the flow of disaffected immigrants coming north. Despite its best intentions, Canada simply cannot be the answer to America’s refugee or immigration problems. The refugee issue is one of the defining issues of our day and the sooner the two countries begin working on it together the better. More broadly, there just is no alternative to the two countries working together, including  on general immigration matters as well.