Tag Archives: ICE

Mend ICE, don’t end it

I happen to agree with a former homeland security secretary who is pushing back against progressive politicians’ call to get rid of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Jeh Johnson, who ran the Department of Homeland Security in the Obama administration, said that ICE needs to be reformed. To end it completely, he said, would compromise national security, given that ICE is a law enforcement agency.

Not at all surprisingly, Donald J. Trump has said progressive politicians favor “anarchy” instead of law and order. Those who holler for an end to ICE only give the president ammo to fire at his political foes.

He is at his demagogic best when given such ammunition. Trust me on this, he has been reckless in the extreme in suggesting that anti-ICE forces actually want the country to be “overrun” by gang members, assorted criminals and anyone who wants to do us harm.

As Johnson wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post: “Abolish ICE” makes for a good rallying cry on the left. Demanding the abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency also provides President Trump with a useful weapon for bludgeoning Democrats politically. He has said as much, and a good portion of the American public will listen to him.

Read the entire Post essay here.

If there is a way to make ICE a more compassionate law enforcement agency, then let’s look for that solution rather than an outright abolition.

Signs of cracking among the ‘base’?

I am heartened to learn of some second thoughts among Donald J. Trump’s most ardent supporters regarding this ghastly policy of “no tolerance” along our southern border.

It’s the policy that allows U.S. Border Patrol and immigration agents to seize young children from their parents as they enter the United States illegally.

Trump blames a “Democrat bill,” which doesn’t exist, for the policy.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the Bible — as stated in Romans 13 — gives the Trump administration all the authority it needs to invoke this intensely cruel policy.

Now we hear from, say, the Rev. Franklin Graham, one of the president’s most ardent supporters. Graham has declared his opposition to the policy.

Oh, and then former first lady Laura Bush has weighed in with an op-ed column in which she declares the policy “immoral” and said it “breaks my heart” to learn of children being put in cages along our southern border.

The current first lady, Melania Trump, has waffled a bit, calling on “both sides” to cease this humanitarian crisis. I understand the first lady’s difficult spot. But “both sides” aren’t required.

Only one side is needed to fix it. That would be the president, who can end this hideous policy with a phone call and a signature.

This is a seriously ICE-y policy

There’s heartlessness and then there is a new policy announced by the Trump administration.

Unauthorized immigrants seeking entry into the United States will be arrested and prosecuted, according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Fine. I get that.

But their small children will be taken from them on the spot by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. They will be separated from their parents — from their mother and father — and sent … somewhere.

Sessions said, “… we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”

Infants? Toddlers? Adolescents? Doesn’t matter. They’re going to snatched from their parents under the new ICE policy.

Critics of this policy are calling it “torture” as defined by the United Nations. According to a Washington Post essay by Jaana Juvonen and Jennifer Silvers: Under federal law, which adopts the United Nations definition, torture is: “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as … punishing him or her for an act he or she or a third person … has committed or is suspected of having committed.” And though in theory any action inflicting such suffering is banned, that is what is inflicted by separating parents and children in border detention.

Read the entire essay here.

Is this how Donald Trump defines the “love” he once said he wanted to use in determining the fate of the so-called Dreamers, the U.S. residents brought here when they were children by their undocumented immigrant parents?

I can answer that one: It lacks any pretense of love when it comes to the treatment of the children of those who are trying to enter the United States. Asylum seekers? Refugees? Forget it, man! They’re going to be rounded up and sent to places where their children cannot join them.

Shameful.

Border ‘crisis’ appears to be overcooked

I’m going to speak from the cuff here, but I believe it needs to be said. Donald Trump’s decision to deploy National Guard troops to our southern border appears to me to be a solution in search of a problem.

The president keeps hyping an immigration “crisis” along our border with Mexico. He is implying that the border is being overrun by illegal immigrants. He suggests that the only way to stem that deluge of people sneaking in is to send in ground troops; they need to patrol the border, shoring up security already being provided by Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, local police and electronic surveillance equipment.

When did it get to this point? What is the president trying to prove with this initiative?

I don’t get it. I cannot fathom when this matter escalated to a point that requires a virtual militarization of our border with one of our nation’s closest allies.

Barack Obama deported a record number of illegal immigrants during his two terms as president of the United States. George W. Bush created the Department of Homeland Security after the 9/11 attacks, giving the federal government another agency responsible for protecting us against potential terrorist entry.

Trump takes office after campaigning on a promise to build a “big, beautiful wall” and forcing Mexico to pay for it. Mexico won’t pay a dime for the wall.

Why in the world is there this need to send National Guardsmen and women to the border when we have plenty of civilian resources available to do the job of catching people who are trying to sneak into the United States illegally?

This looks to me to be a made-up crisis.

Legislature ends contentious session — just as it gets ugly

I am glad at the moment to be living far from Austin, the capital of Texas and the place where state legislators ended their 2017 session with two of them threatening physical harm to each other.

Whatever happened to the late Robert F. Kennedy ‘s notion that politics could be a “noble profession”? It ain’t. Not in Texas. Not these days. I would have hated to have been hit by a stray bullet.

Just think: Gov. Greg Abbott just might call these clowns back into special session to wrap up some unfinished business, some of which might include enactment that idiotic Bathroom Bill that would require people to use public restrooms designated to the gender noted in their bleeping birth certificate.

As for the end of the 2017 regular legislative session, two House members got into each other’s face as a scuffle broke out on the House floor. Some illegal immigrants reportedly raised a ruckus. One lawmaker, Democrat Poncho Nevarez threatened “to get” Republican Matt Rinaldi after Rinaldi called immigrations agents to break up the disturbance that was caused by the illegal immigrants.

By “get,” Rinaldi presumed Nevarez intends serious physical harm, to which he (Rinaldi) responded by threatening to put a “bullet in the head” of his colleague — in self-defense, of course.

https://www.texasobserver.org/texas-republican-sb-4-protesters-capitol-ice/

Good ever-lovin’ grief, fellas. Nevarez should have kept his trap shut and Rinaldi should have refrained from threatening to shoot Nevarez.

Hey, guys, here’s a flash for you: Texas is in relatively good financial shape. Yeah, we have our issues. We have differences of opinion, most certainly differences of philosophy and ideology.

For this kind of tough talk to erupt at the end of a legislative session — which lasted all of 140 days — is ridiculous, outrageous and disgraceful on its face. House rules prohibit demonstrates from the gallery; the demonstrators broke the rules, period! That’s where it started and how it went from bad to stupid.

If Abbott is going bring you folks back to Austin, my hope is that he waits a while before setting a date. Reps. Nevarez and Rinaldi need to cool off, collect themselves, catch their breath — and count their blessings.

Trump’s loud talk produces diminished illegal immigration

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly gives Donald J. Trump ample credit in the fight to stem illegal immigration into the United States of America.

U.S. officials report a dramatic decline in illegal crossings along our southern border. Kelly’s reasoning? The president’s loud and persistent complaints about illegal immigration somehow has deterred people from coming into the country without proper documentation.

I kind of understand the secretary’s logic. Moreover, I am willing to give the president great credit for talking a good game.

Kelly more or less echoes the thoughts expressed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who, according to USA Today, said the following: “This is a new era,” Sessions declared during last week’s trip to Nogales, Ariz. “This is the Trump era. The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigration laws, and the catch-and-release practices of old are over.”

I beg to differ with the AG on whether the previous administration’s policies somehow were more lax than, say, those of earlier administrations. President Obama became known as the “deporter in chief,” as his administration caught and deported record number of undocumented immigrants during his two terms in office.

Now, about that wall.

I give Trump all the credit in the world for whatever impact his loud and boisterous rhetoric has had on those seeking to enter the United States illegally.

Here is my question of the day pertaining to this issue: Does a precipitous decline in illegal border crossings now render “the wall” that Trump wants to build irrelevant?

I live in a border state, albeit we’re a good distance from the southern border. I’ve ventured along the border twice in the past few weeks and haven’t witnessed anything approaching a “horde” of criminals crossing the border.

Perhaps if the president keeps harping out loud about what he intends to do when his administration’s border officials catch illegal immigrants, then there might be even less need for a wall.

I’ve heard already from too many immigration experts who tell us that a wall won’t stop illegal crossings. Desperate individuals can  be quite creative in looking for ways over, under or around such barriers.

If Secretary Kelly is willing to give the president’s rhetoric for stemming the flow of illegal immigration, I am more than happy to accept it as a contributing factor.

Keep talking, Mr. President.

Trump’s new travel ban: better, but still not worthy

I’ll hand it to Donald J. Trump.

At least he can tinker around the edges of a bad policy to make it somewhat more palatable, even if the very principle behind it stinks.

I refer to the revised travel ban he introduced to the world Monday.

He took Iraq off the list of Muslim-majority nations where refugees are banned from entering the United States; he exempts those with current visas from the list; it removes language that grants exemptions for “religious minorities” in the Middle East; it won’t take effect until March 16.

Is this one better than the old policy that was shot down by a federal judge, whose opinion was upheld by a federal appeals court? Yes.

It remains problematic for those of us who just dislike the idea of singling out countries and people who adhere to certain religious faiths from this brand of “profiling.”

The reaction to this revised rule has been far less vocal than the outburst that greeted the initial rule, which the president signed into law via executive order one week after taking office. Accordingly, it’s interesting, too, that Trump signed this executive order in private; no cameras, no ceremony, no hoopla, hype or hysteria.

“This is definitely on much firmer legal ground,” according to a former assistant secretary of Homeland Security. “It’s pretty narrowly applied to new visa applicants, which is probably the place where the president has the most authority.”

Time will tell — probably very soon — whether this one will stand up to court challenges. My guess is that it will, although if I were king of the world I would prefer that the president simply instruct immigration, customs and border security troops to be hyper-vigilant when checking everyone who seeks to come here.

Muhammad Ali’s son detained at airport … for real!

Put yourself in the place of an airport customs/security agent for a moment.

A young man comes off an airplane that’s just traveled to the United States from a foreign airport. He presents his passport to you and it has the name “Muhammad Ali Jr.” on it.

What do you ask the young man?

If it were me — and I was allowed under customs protocol — I would ask: “Are you the son of The Greatest of All Time? Was your late, legendary father really The Champ, the baddest, prettiest, greatest heavyweight boxer in history?”

If he said “yes,” I’d stamp his passport, tell him how much I admired his dad and let him through.

That didn’t happen recently at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood (Fla.) International Airport. Muhammad Ali Jr. arrived there on a flight from Jamaica. He was detained. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials say he wasn’t detained because he is a Muslim. They offered vague reasons for acting as they did.

Ali was profiled, according to an Ali family lawyer. The officials asked him if he is Muslim and asked him where he got his name. As USA Today reported: “Customs spokesman Daniel Hetlage declined to provide details of the incident, citing policies that protect travelers’ privacy, but he wrote in an email that the agency does not discriminate on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

“‘We treat all travelers with respect and sensitivity,’ he said. ‘Integrity is our cornerstone. We are guided by the highest ethical and moral principles.'”

Young Ali, who’s 44, is blessed — or cursed, perhaps, depending on the circumstance — with having arguably the most famous name on the planet. It also is the name of world’s most beloved Muslim.

Part of me wants to ridicule the officer who stopped Ali Jr. Another part of me, though, suggests the officer was just doing his job.

Private prisons remain a detestable idea

Oh, how I hate the principle of letting private firms incarcerate prisoners.

Yet, according to USA Today, the private-prison industry thinks it’s about to score big if Donald J. Trump goes ahead with his plan to round up millions of people who are in the United States illegally.

These outfits have given big money to Trump and now see a potential payoff if the president follows through with his pledge to put all the illegal immigrants behind bars before deporting them.

Let me offer this notion about private prisons.

First of all, the public already pays police officers, prosecutors, judges and juries to arrest, detain and prosecute criminals. The public, therefore, ought to be responsible for their incarceration when they are convicted of crimes.

It’s a social responsibility thing, the way I see it.

Second of all, if the president believes illegal immigration presents a dire threat to our national security, our way of life and our national identity, doesn’t that mean that the public should step up and foot the bill for these alleged threats?

Here is how USA Today reports the issue: “Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security issued sweeping new instructions to carry out Trump’s executive orders on immigration. They require all federal agents — including Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — to identify, capture and quickly deport undocumented immigrants.

“Significantly for private-prison operators, the orders also require that undocumented people caught entering the country be detained until their cases are resolved, ending the ‘catch and release’ program in which undocumented immigrants were processed by immigration agents, released into the USA and ordered to reappear for court hearings.”

So now the Trump administration wants to farm out this responsibility to for-profit prison companies? I’m trying to understand where the nation derives the cost savings if it is going to pay these companies to do what state and local authorities should be doing.

And I haven’t even mentioned the public oversight of the manner in which these private lockups are managed.

The idea of private prisons is loony, in my view. If we’re going spend public money to send criminals to prison, we need to spend public money to ensure they are treated humanely.

And that includes illegal immigrants.

They stop everyone coming north from border on I-35

LAREDO, Texas — About nine miles or so north of Laredo you see a line of motor vehicles pulling off the northbound lanes of Interstate 35.

Big ones, little ones. Long-haul trucks, economy cars, mini-vans full of kids and assorted family members. They all stop as they leave this city of nearly 300,000 residents for points north.

What gives? The “porous border” at this one stop at least isn’t quite so porous.

What are the authorities looking for? As my dear mom used to say: I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count.

They’re looking for illegal immigrants. They’re looking for human cargo. They are on the hunt for drugs, weapons, you name it.

Now, this particular stop-and-search station doesn’t mean the border is air tight. I get that there remain many other points of entry for illegal immigrants to sneak into the United States of America.

There has been this sort of screening for some time. It’s just that when you see it, you look at the long and growing line of vehicles backing up, you appreciate the difficult job that our Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers — as well as our state andlocal police agencies — must perform.

Donald “Smart Person” Trump perhaps has done one thing as he has continued to rail against illegal immigration and keeps yammering about building a wall that he suggests Mexico will pay for; it is that he has elevated our border officers’ alertness.

I am hoping they remain alert.