Tag Archives: immigration

Let the ‘children’ stay in U.S.

DACA is on the table now for the president of the United States.

Donald Trump should do the right thing and leave it alone. He shouldn’t axe it. He shouldn’t send U.S. residents back to somewhere they’ve never known.

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

There’s news that Trump is preparing to make a decision on DACA and on whether he’s going to order the expulsion of undocumented immigrants. Don’t do it, Mr. President. It’s not the right thing to do.

DACA covers those who came to this country as children of undocumented immigrants. They were in some cases infants and toddlers. They grew up in the United States. They were educated here. Many of them have grown into responsible adults and have been hired to do important work.

Do we now toss them out because of something their parents did and committed an illegal act over which these children had zero control?

The president is trying to shore up his Republican Party base and a decision to toss out the DACA residents would surely please the 30-percent base of Americans who still endorse Trump’s agenda.

Trump campaigned for the presidency pledging to toss aside DACA. He calls it “amnesty” for illegal immigrants. It is no such thing. DACA gives these individuals a path to citizenship or to achieve legal immigrant status. That’s it.

Maybe he should ask his secretary of energy, Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas who has supported allowing these residents to remain in the United States. Indeed, Perry knows the impact that these individuals have on a state’s economy and the value they bring to society as responsible adults. Perry’s support of DACA echoes the belief of another former Texas governor, former President George W. Bush.

There’s also another political calculation that Trump needs to ponder. He continues to poll miserably among Hispanic Americans. To be candid, I don’t give a damn if he finds a way to please that demographic group. If he does take that into account and he scraps the notion of tossing out these U.S. residents — these de facto Americans — he’ll do far more than please a voting demographic he needs while angering the “base” that’s been with him all along.

The president would be doing the right thing.

Trump ratchets up his disrespect for federal judiciary

Just when you thought Donald Trump couldn’t disrespect a branch of government with any more emphasis … he does exactly that very thing.

The president today has pardoned former Maricopa County (Ariz.) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of disobeying a direct order from a federal judge.

The judge had ordered Arpaio to stop rounding up illegal immigrants en masse, citing potential civil rights violations. Arpaio then decided he would ignore the judge’s lawful order.

Arpaio went on trial and he was convicted.

The president today intervened, issuing a presidential pardon — which is the president’s constitutional right. The pardon is irrevocable.

It’s also a gigantic mistake.

Arpaio, who was defeated for re-election in 2016, is an enormously polarizing figure. He’s long been seen by those on the right and the far right as a champion for their cause against illegal immigration. He has acted roughly and brusquely with those he has caught trying to sneak into the country. He has made no apology for the way he has handled that part of his job.

So he stuck it in the eye of the federal judiciary by refusing to abide by a court order. No worries, according to Trump — who has himself disrespected federal judges who have ruled against him on assorted judicial matters.

Trump vowed to be a “law and order president.” What the president has done with this pardon, though, is reaffirm his belief that judges’ orders don’t matter.

If I might borrow a quote from one of the president’s many tweets.

Sad.

Shut down the government … over a wall?

So much grist poured out of the president’s relentless and reckless rant in Phoenix …

Let’s take a nibble at this tidbit: Donald John Trump Sr. says he’s willing to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn’t approve money to pay for the wall to be built along our nation’s border with Mexico.

Yep, the guy who said this past summer that “I, alone” can solve the nation’s problems now is blackmailing congressional Democrats to provide money to build the wall. If they don’t, he said, the government shutdown is on their hands.

But wait!

Trump has vowed that Mexico is going to pay for the wall. Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto says “no … we won’t!” Trump reportedly has zero relationship with the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, who has declared there is “zero chance” the government is going to shut down; “We are not going to default,” said McConnell.

The president is insulting congressional Republicans as frequently as he insults Democrats. He is destroying — one insult at a time — any chance of getting anything done once Congress returns from its summer recess.

So now the guy who wants to “unify” the country, who declares it is time to “heal our divisions” is now threatening to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn’t do something he has promised never would happen.

I believe former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper — a serious and sober man — has it right. Donald Trump is unfit for the job to which he was elected.

Learn English to get in?

Pass the Pepto. I’m feeling a touch of heartburn as I ponder this latest public policy pronouncement from the president of the United States.

Donald Trump wants to impose stricter standards for legal immigrants seeking entry into the United States. They need to have certain skill sets and they need to be employable. They also need to learn to speak English.

I dislike the policy as a general rule. So do enough members of Congress to derail it on Capitol Hill.

It’s the English-speaking element that I want to discuss.

The United States does not have an “official language.” There’s no law on the books. The U.S. Constitution makes no reference to an official language. Thus, why does the president believe it’s imperative for immigrants who go through the process legally need to speak English?

I know that English is the predominant language spoken by U.S. citizens. I also know that many of those citizens are naturalized, that they weren’t born here and that they learned the language through various forms: formal classes, total immersion into society.

Moreover, I also concede that I get I get annoyed when I encounter service employees at, say, a grocery store who don’t understand me when I ask, “Where can I find some peanut butter?” They look at me as though I am speaking Martian. I throw up my hands and look for someone who speaks my language.

Is that sufficient reason to enact a law? Is it reason to require people to speak English?

I guess you can say I am officially undecided at this point, although I tend to lean against the notion of imposing such requirements on those who come to this country.

Yes, they need to speak at least a little bit of English if they seek to become U.S. citizens.

But those who seek green cards or work visas that enable them to live here? I will accept such a rule fully if and/or when we ever adopt English as the official language of the United States of America.

Tough to keep track of all the lies

White House communications officials — to a person — have the toughest jobs in America. Of that I am now convinced.

They have to respond to mistruths — yes, outright lies — muttered by the man for whom they all work.

Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States, provides an endless supply of them. It’s stunning.

Two of them poured out of his pie hole just this week. The White House communications team had to acknowledge that, yep, they were false.

Trump appeared before the Boy Scout Jamboree and delivered a patently hideous speech that injected partisan politics into a patently non-political event. He said Scout leaders called him to tell him that was the greatest speech ever delivered to the Jamboree.

They never called. Indeed, the head of Boy Scouts of America issued an apology for the tone and tenor of the president’s speech.

Then came the statement, again from Trump, that Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto phoned him to congratulate Trump on cracking down on illegal immigration into the United States from Mexico.

Uhhh, that call never was made, either.

This is part and parcel of the president’s modus operandi: tell a lie and then never, ever atone for it by acknowledging — at minimum — that he might have “misspoken.”

I get that Trump is far from the first politician to fudge the truth. Then-Sen. Barack Obama once made a mention while he was running for president of “all 57 states” in this country. Oops! He missed that one by seven. Do you also remember how Hillary Clinton once told of dodging hostile gunfire while landing in Bosnia? That was a more egregious error.

The current president, though, is making a mockery of the truth. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has accused the Trump administration of launching an “assault on the truth” as it seeks to bob-and-weave its way through the Russia investigation.

The assault is being coordinated — and I use that term with caution — by the man at the top. He cannot help himself. He cannot tell the truth.

How in the name of efficacy does he get away with this?

President seeks to strike at heart of key U.S. policy

Donald John Trump promised to “put America first.” He also pledged to change U.S. immigration policy, to make it more selective.

I want to share with you a poem that appears on the pedestal at the foot of the Statue of Liberty.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

It’s the “New Colossus,” written by Emma Lazarus. It has served as a guidepost for those seeking entrance into the Land of Opportunity.

Donald Trump wants to water it down. He is proposing a policy that limits entrance only to those with skills that can be put to good use.

You know already that I am the grandson of immigrants. They came here near the turn of the 20th century. They hailed from southeastern Europe. They weren’t particularly “skilled,” nor did they possess a lot of formal education. But they came here to forge a new life. They succeeded magnificently.

Slam the door shut?

The president wants to give preference to those who can speak English. Hmmm. Only one of my grandparents had any English skills upon arrival. The rest of them, I guess, were likely to be denied.

I don’t want this proposal to become law. It is an affront to what we have stood for — as a nation of immigrants.

Putting “America first” means, in my mind, honoring all of those who choose to come here in search of a better life. If they find it in the United States of America, then they have enriched not only themselves and their families, but also the nation they call “home.”

These great Americans would be appalled

These are three great Americans. I knew two of them well; one of them died when I was an infant.

I want to write about them this weekend for a couple of reasons: to celebrate their love of the United States of America as it approaches its 241st year of existence and to comment on how I believe they would be reacting to the national mood emanating from the halls of power.

They are three of my four grandparents. From left they are: Katina Kampras Kanelis, my father’s mother; George Filipu, my mother’s dad; and Diamontoula Panesoy Filipu, Mom’s mother. John Peter Kanelis, my father’s dad and the man for whom I was named, was somewhere else, I reckon, when someone snapped this picture.

They were immigrants. Mr. and Mrs. Filipu came here near the turn of the 20th century from — get a load of this! — a Muslim-majority country. They were ethnic Greek residents of Turkey, which prompts me to ponder whether they would be welcome today. My grandmother Katina hailed from Kyparissia, a village in southern Greece.

They were great Americans. They loved this country more than life itself. Indeed, my “Yiayia” — Diamontoula Filipu — died on the Fourth of July, 1978. My wife has reminded me that Yiayia left us on that day just to ensure that we’d remember. I do. My Papou George — who died in January 1950 — loved this nation so much that in 1918, he enlisted in the U.S. Army just so he could obtain instant U.S. citizenship. He wanted to fight in World War I, but the war ended before he got the chance to see actual combat.

All of my grandparents were, shall we say, undereducated. They lacked a lot of formal education, but that didn’t prevent them from carving out great lives in the Land of Opportunity. Papou George operated a bakery; Yiayia was a homemaker. Papou John worked a number of jobs in America: steelworker, hotel manager and then he shined shoes in downtown Portland, Ore; my grandmother Katina also was a homemaker.

They were great because they loved their country arguably more than many of their peers who were born here. They came here because they wanted to be here, which to my mind makes them uber-patriots.

My Kanelis grandparents did return to Greece in the late 1950s. After my grandmother died in September 1968, Papou John returned twice more to Greece; he died in 1981 at the age of 95. My Yiayia and Papou George never went back to the “old country.” Yiayia always felt that the United States was “home” and she had no desire to return to the nation of her birth.

***

How might these great Americans react to what’s transpiring these days? I don’t recall any of them having acute political instincts. But my hunch is that they would be aghast at the kind of rhetoric we’re hearing these days.

This mantra calling for us to “make America great again” likely would enrage them. America is great. These great Americans came here because of this nation’s greatness. They forged their lives, reared 10 children among the four of them.

They would be aghast at the angry rhetoric. They wouldn’t endorse the behavior we keep witnessing from the president of the United States. They would want to remind everyone that we are a nation of immigrants. Every single American whose ancestry isn’t linked to those who were here when the settlers arrived comes from an immigrant background.

My grandparents understood it far better than many of our current leaders do today.

They were among the greatest Americans this great nation has ever welcomed. I am proud beyond measure to be their grandson.

These projects don’t pay for themselves

Donald J. Trump’s proposal to cut taxes — notably for the wealthiest Americans — is getting considerable play in conservative media and political circles.

The president thinks he’s on to something. He has pitched what his team has called the most sweeping “tax reform” package in U.S. history.

Now …

Let’s get real for a moment.

* The president also wants to enact a few big projects. He has proposed spending an additional $54 billion next year alone on the Department of Defense. He contends the military is depleted and, of course, blames the previous administration for all but rendering us defenseless against our enemies.

* He also wants to rebuild our nation’s roads, bridges and airports. The price tag for that? A cool $1.2 trillion. This is a project worth doing, given the sorry state of our highways and airports. I’m still baffled as to how this plays among fiscal conservatives who (a) voted for Trump in 2016 and (b) say they dislike spending money the government doesn’t have in the bank.

* The president also wants to build that “big, beautiful wall” along our southern border. The price tag varies on this matter, but I’ll go with the bigger number that’s been floated: $25 billion. I do not believe the wall will be built. Nor should it be built. Still, the president insists that it will and he no longer is saying at every campaign-style rally that “Mexico will pay for it.”

These things do not pay for themselves. Thus, Americans across the land need to ask themselves: Are we willing to step up to shoulder the cost of all these projects or are we going to ignore the reality that the money must come from each of us?

The tax cut mantra has become standard Republican Party policy. President Reagan famously sought to cut taxes while “rebuilding” the military. He railed against President Carter’s budget deficits, only to preside over a skyrocketing deficit during his two terms in office. President George H.W. Bush challenged us to “read my lips” while vowing at the GOP convention in 1988 to never raise taxes; which helped get him elected. He then raised taxes — wisely, in my view — and it cost him votes among his conservative GOP base in 1992. President George W. Bush cut taxes in 2001, then went to war with international terrorists after the 9/11 attacks; the deficits exploded.

A new Republican president is now proposing another massive tax cut while at the same time seeking to do big things. With what, Mr. President? Where’s the money coming from?

I hate the wall idea. If the president wants to stem illegal immigration, then invest more money in better enforcement along both of our lengthy borders — north and south — and at ports of entry along all three coasts.

The defense buildup doesn’t need to cost nearly what Trump is proposing. Our military remains the strongest in the world.

Infrastructure improvement makes sense, but it’s going to cost Americans a lot of money to get it done.

Are we going to fall for the GOP tax-cut dodge because we don’t want to pay for the things we insist that government do for us? Or are we going to understand that our government requires us to spend a bit of our money to make it work?

‘Wall’ taking various forms

Donald J. Trump’s “big, beautiful wall” isn’t going to be built anytime soon. If ever.

The wall is supposed to stretch along the United States’ southern border. The president vowed — loudly, in fact — that the wall would be among his first priorities during his first 100 days in office.

Well, the wall became part of the debate over how to avoid a government shutdown, that was reported to occur on Friday, on Day 99 of Trump’s term in office.

Congressional Republicans have pulled the wall out of the budget negotiation. Trump’s wall has been put on ice once again.

What is making me shake my head is the argument over the cost of the boondoggle. The president insists it won’t cost more than $10 billion. Congressional budget estimates put the cost at $25 billion-plus. Trump wanted a fraction of that amount included in this budget proposal; he won’t get even that.

Here’s where it gets real confusing: The cost disparity appears to center on the nature of the wall. Is it a real wall, concrete, rebar, razor wire and all that? Is it just a fence? Is it some kind of “cyber” wall with computer-operated cameras scanning the landscape?

Trump keeps talking as though it’s the real thing — the concrete/rebar/razor wire kind. It’s going to be sunk deeply into the soil along our border with Mexico. It keeps getting higher every time a critic in Mexico lambastes the president.

And speaking of Mexico, didn’t the president insist on the stump this past year that “Mexico is going to pay for the wall”? Well, they aren’t. We cannot make a sovereign nation do anything against its will — short of invading it and occupying it.

No the money is going to come out of our pockets. Yours and mine. Are you ready to pay for a wall that won’t work? Me neither.

We are witnessing the mother of all cluster f****, dear reader.

The wall is crumbling before it’s being built.

Do I favor an open border that allows bad guys to sneak into this country? Of course not! A wall is not the answer. And I haven’t even addressed in this blog post the logistics of building such a structure along thousands of miles.

I am willing to support strict enforcement at entry points all along both of our borders to ensure we keep criminals out of the country.

Good grief, man. If money is an issue, then spend it on beefing up existing border enforcement policies.

No, not everyone loves the border wall idea

Before I launch into my latest criticism of Donald J. Trump, I want to stipulate something up front.

I recognize that politicians of all stripes play to their “base.” Whether on the left or the right, they know from where they draw their political strength.

There. That said, the president’s belief that the border wall he wants to build between the United States and Mexico is popular with his base and, thus, is worth doing is utter nonsense.

He isn’t just the president of the Republican Party faithful who got him elected — along with a few million formerly loyal Democrats. He represents all 300-plus million Americans. Take it from me, Mr. President, not all of us are the least bit fond of the idea of walling off this country from one of our nation’s most loyal allies.

The wall won’t work. It won’t keep bad guys from coming into the country. It will separate families. It will create untold misery. It also is highly impractical — if not impossible — to build, given all the technical and legal issues involved with property condemnation and how the two countries were to settle the myriad issues relating to its construction.

According to the Washington Post: In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Trump said: “People want the border. My base really wants the border. My base really wants it.”

Really, Mr. President? Do I need to remind this individual that the base comprises a tiny minority of Americans. Indeed, this man finished second in the popular vote count to Hillary Rodham Clinton. Sure, he won where it counted — the Electoral College — but the popular vote disparity wasn’t even close.

He’s not the first pol to proclaim his base’s support for controversial policy initiatives. He won’t be the last.

However, he is the man of the moment. Remember, sir, that you are every American’s president, whether you — or millions of your constituents — care to admit it.