Trump’s SOTU speech and all the shenanigans and legal minefields about the Nunes Memo, which I can’t keep up with hourly on a blog like this (although I’m very concerned about its implications for the integrity of federal law enforcement), bring us back to some essential realities about his presidency. He believes in authority and chain of command, and that some groups of people (his supposed “base”) are innately superior to others and can reclaim what used to be theirs, even by (almost Commie-imitating) expropriation if necessary. Call it nativism if you like. It’s not fascism yet but can quickly convert, especially if the US homeland is ever attacked big time.
Let’s go back to the narrowest issue of the day, asylum seekers. USCIS has changed the rules for setting up interviews. As attorney Jason Dzubow writes “Bye, bye scheduling … hello chaos”. (He’s not referring to ‘Nsync’s song.) Now it’s last in, first to be scheduled. It’s perpetual butting in line. Or perpetual yielding right of way. That’s supposed to discourage asylum fraud (May 10, 2017).
Furthermore, pending House legislation would raise the standard of what constitutes “credible fear” to “more likely than not”, which might disproportionately affect LGBT asylum cases.
I’ve had a few conversations during the past week on this. As I’ve noted, having sold the trust house I had “inherited”, downsized (like the movie) into a condo, I’m no longer considering hosting. But I still think that those who would consider being hosts or assist asylum seekers in any way need full legal briefing on what their own responsibilities are. (For helping refugees, remember, social service agencies are very well set up to give legal supervision to volunteers; for asylum seekers, for which by definition there is no money in most cases, they are not.) One tricky issue could be assisting someone when they are coming into the country and have not yet applied for asylum. That could get a “good Samaritan” into legal trouble, I suspect. My understanding is that you cannot get a visa with the intention of asking for asylum; if you do, it’s right to detention when you arrive.
So then we come to Trump’s attempts at reconciliation. Michael Gerson writes in the Washington Post “Even on his finest behavior. Trump can’t be gracious to immigrants”. Indeed, he does treat people from “the outside” as not our “chosen people”, which doesn’t make much sense to the more noble idea of an American melting pot (with all colors, religions, sexual orientations and identities). Trump’s idea play to the idea, if you would house an immigrant, why wouldn’t you house a domestic homeless person instead? Well, not many people do that, and our own social services structures don’t support that. Our volunteer world will support structured activities (Habitat for Humanity, installing smoke alarms, meals) which, if you think about it, maintains a certain personal distance from those in need in a lot of cases. “The Natural Family” (like the 2007 book by Carlson/Mero) is supposed to take care of its own vulnerable, but we all know it often doesn’t.
There’s also the problem of the way anti-immigrant forces distort or cherry pick statistics to support their positions. Yes, chain migration could be bad; but in most cases it takes a long time for distant family members to get through the system anyway; so it has little practical effect. In most cases, immigrants take the jobs Americans don’t want (watch Morgan Spurlock picking oranges for piecework), and some industries (like hotels) are very dependent on legal immigration. I guess everyone is a “Dreamer”. I guess all lives matter (if we are willing to behave as if that were true.) There is also the way we trot out the outrageous crime of the week (like on Milo Yiannopoulos’s “Dangerous”), and a few of them are committed by illegal aliens, but most are committed by Americans. Reason has a couple of major pieces, one by Alex Nowrasteh on the use of crime statistics, and another about the “weaponizing” of Census. I worked for Census (in 2010 on the diennial and in 2011 on surveys) and Census data can never be shared outside the agency, even with law enforcement. Nowrasteh also has a valuable video on CSPAN on deportations.
I’ve noted the cultural collectivism both on the alt-right (nativism) and the frank Marxism on the far Left, as discussed on here on Intellectual Takeout (wrong “consciousness”).
I’ll also reiterate that Trump seems to be trapped by his position on North Korea (previous post), and Georgetown’s professor Cha tried to help him find a way out of it. I wish he would listen. A lot of civilians, even on the homeland, could pay themselves with their lives.
Also: Breaking as I finish this post: Trump has just authorized declassifying the Nunes Memo and it will become public (apparently without redactions); see also the DOJ letter. It now belongs to the House Judiciary Committee (who has the football right now, not in the Super Bowl).
As of 1 PM: Here is the actual memo, unclassified.
The AP story includes the Counsel’s letter, too, embedded as a PDF.
Is the Nunes Memo a dud “On the Beach” (like Nevil Shute)? Vox article
Here’s the original Russian dossier (Oct 2016) from Buzzfeed.
And here we go again, the “one” controversial sentence on p. 3 of the memo, explained on AOL
And this was supposed to be a post in immigration when I started out!
(Posted: Friday, February 2, 2018, at 11:45 AM EST)