Immigration

Scott Walker Says He Accidentally Took A Position On Birthright Citizenship Because He Was Tired

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/JOHN LOCHER

He may be backed by the Koch brothers as the “strongest” candidate for their purpose but Scott Walker is not the brightest bulb in the GOP presidential candidate pool.

THINK PROGRESS

Scott Walker was tired from “hours” of interviews when he said that fellow contender Donald Trump’s plan to end birthright citizenship was “very similar” to the immigration position that Walker supported as Wisconsin governor, according to an interview on Friday with CNBC correspondent John Harwood. Now, Walker says he doesn’t have a stance on the topic.

“I’m not taking a position on it one way or the other,” Walker told Harwood, when questioned about ending birthright citizenship, a centerpiece demand that Trump laid out in his immigration policy plan to end automatic citizenship for any child born in the United States to undocumented immigrants.

“When it comes to birthright and those things, until you secure the border and enforce the laws, any discussion about anything else is looking past the things we have to do,” Walker said.

Trump recently unveiled a detailed immigration policy outline aimed at deporting millions of undocumented immigrants, building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and ending birthright citizenship for the children of immigrants born in the United States. Since then, other GOP presidential candidates have been quick to follow suit.

On Monday, Walker spoke with Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy and said Trump’s harsh immigration position was “very similar” to the immigration position he supported as Wisconsin governor. He also told a NBC News reporter that the U.S. should “absolutely” end birthright citizenship.

Watch it:

But Walker sidestepped when asked where he stood now. “In both of these instances, what I’ve said and I pointed it out, I did a three-and-a-half hour gaggle, so there was bits and pieces of people interrupting, while we were taking questions along the way,” the GOP presidential candidate said.

In general, when it comes to a policy position on immigration, Walker just hasn’t figured out where he lands. As county executive in Milwaukee County between 2002 and 2006, he twice signedresolutions backing programs that would have granted legal status to undocumented immigrants. He told the Wausau Daily Herald editorial board in 2013 that “it makes sense” for some immigrants to get on a pathway to citizenship “with the right penalties and waiting periods and meet the requirements.” Some donors say that he privately told them that he supported a pathway to citizenship, though his spokesperson has consistently denied that.

Walker’s lately stayed the course on his newer anti-immigrant position. When confronted with people with the most to lose, Walker recently told a pair of siblings with an undocumented father that he “completely sympathize with the situation you’re all in and others are in,” but that “in American nobody’s above the law” when the younger sibling asked, “Do you want me to like come home and come from school and my dad get deported?”

ESTHER YU-HSI LEE

Marco Rubio Makes Himself Unelectable By Launching A Classless Attack On President Obama

obama-rubio

POLITICUS USA

Marco Rubio went on Fox News and embarrassed himself while trying to attack President Obama.

Video:

Sen. Rubio was talking about Donald Trump on Fox and Friends, but he couldn’t resist attacking President Obama.

Rubio said:

Here’s what’s so important to me. The presidency of the United States is not just the top governmental official. It is the leader of our people and our nation as well. It is important that to conduct the presidency has to be done in a dignified way, not with a level of class. I don’t think the way he’s behaved over the last few weeks is either dignified or worthy of the office he seeks.

We already have a president now that has no class. I mean we have a president now that does selfie stick videos, that invites YouTube stars there, people that you know, eat cereal out of a bathtub that accuses his. You just saw the interview he did right now where he goes on comedy shows to talk about something as serious as Iran. The list goes on and on.

Rubio has rendered himself unelectable to the same voters that the Republican Party was hoping to sell his candidacy to. By ranting against selfie sticks, The Daily Show, and YouTube stars, Rubio sounded like the senior citizens who make up the majority of the Republican Party.

Rubio’s attack on Obama was embarrassing because it demonstrated how out of touch with the majority of America the Senator from Florida is. President Obama is continuing to pile up victories as his presidency is on its way to ending on a very high note. Obama’s personal approval rating has never fallen to the depths that George W. Bush experienced.

Marco Rubio’s attack simply was not based in reality.

By doing things like talking about important issues on shows like The Daily Show where the audience isn’t all political junkies, Obama has broadened his appeal and reached people who don’t watch cable news. Marco Rubio doesn’t understand that this is a good thing. One would be hard-pressed to find a single classless thing that President Obama has done while in office.

Rubio reminds of another Republican, who ran for the White House on a promise of restoring honor and dignity to the White House. George W. Bush won his election and then invaded Iraq on a lie, tortured innocent people in the name of the American people, bungled a federal response to a natural disaster and crashed the economy.

If the alternatives are Republican “dignity and class” as typified by George W. Bush, or a recovered economy a nation no longer engaged in perpetual war, the American people are better off with Obama and his selfie stick.

Jason Easley

Phyllis Schlafly: Today’s Immigrants Are ‘Not The Same Sort’ As Europeans ‘Who Contributed So Much’

attribution: None

RIGHT WING WATCH

In a radio commentary earlier this month, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly acknowledged that it’s “quite true that America was built by hard-working people from all over the world,” but cautioned that today’s immigrants from Latin America are “not the same sort” as the wave of mostly European immigrants who came to the U.S. in the early 20th century.

Schlafly criticized President Obama for calling the U.S. “a nation of immigrants,” saying, “The problem is that the immigrants coming into our country today are not the same sort as the immigrants who contributed so much to building our great country. The immigrants who came to America in the 1920s and ‘30s were different – with very different motives.”

“It’s quite true that America was built by hard working people from all over the world who sought a place of freedom where they could realize their dream,” she said. “But today’s immigrants don’t have the same motivation, the same love for America, the same desire to be part of the American culture and dream.”

She cited Russian-born songwriter Irving Berlin as the kind of America-loving immigrant who supposedly no longer come to the United States.

Schlafly’s commentary varies slightly from a transcript provided on Eagle Forum’s website, which adds this thought: “[Today’s immigrants] don’t want to leave their homes and become Americans, accepting all that comes along with it. Many of them just want to reap the rewards of our free nation without accepting American culture, the English language, and the rule of law.”

Sorry Conservatives– Appeals Court Sides With Obama On First Immigration Order

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Featured image by Official White House Photo by Pete Souza | Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Addicting Info

A three-judge panel in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that neither Mississippi, nor immigration officials, could show how the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program harmed them. That means they have no standing to even bring the case, and the ruling strikes a blow to conservatives hoping that the courts would undo Obama’s executive immigration orders for them.

From Politico:

‘”The district court held that Mississippi’s alleged fiscal injury was purely speculative because there was no concrete evidence that Mississippi’s costs had increased or will increase as a result of DACA. Based on the record before the district court, we agree,’ [Judge W. Eugene] Davis wrote. ‘Mississippi submitted no evidence that any DACA eligible immigrants resided in the state. Nor did Mississippi produce evidence of costs it would incur if some DACA-approved immigrants came to the state.’”

The only evidence of damages that Judge Davis noted was a 2006 study that showed a $25 million increase in social services in Mississippi. However, that was due to illegal immigration in general, and not tied to DACA or President Obama’s 2014 order that expanded DACA. The study happened more than two years before Obama even took office.

While the panel’s ruling is binding on other three-judge panels in the 5th Circuit, there’s the possibility that the panel looking at his 2014 order will see it differently. The states involved in that case have provided different evidence, such as the costs incurred with issuing driver’s licenses to all those people. The fees for those licenses don’t cover every single cost associated with issuing one.

The oral arguments for Obama’s expansion of DACA are scheduled for April 17, according to The Dallas Morning News. One of the attorneys working on that case said that this morning’s ruling is hopeful for immigration advocates.

The Dallas Morning News also reports that the chief counsel working on the Mississippi case plans to ask for further review of this case. He might ask the entire 5th Circuit to rule on it, because he doesn’t agree with the idea that they (the plaintiffs) don’t have standing.

This ruling could influence the ruling on the 2014 executive order, even if Texas et al have different, more concrete evidence of harm. Too bad for conservatives hoping for a court ruling in their favor, whether they’re genuinely against DACA and its expansion, or they just want to oppose Obama.

The Department of Homeland Security is a total disaster. It’s time to abolish it.

Vox

If Congress doesn’t act before February 27, the Department of Homeland Security is going to run out of money and go into a partial shutdown. (Eighty-five percent of employees would still be working, but they wouldn’t be getting paid.) Congress doesn’t appear to have a plan for action; as of last week, before it broke for recess, House and Senate lawmakers were each telling each other to do something. Meanwhile, politicians in both parties have already skipped to the step where they blame the other party for the possible shutdown — making them seem pretty resigned to it happening. House Speaker John Boehner said on Sunday he’s “certainly” ready for a DHS shutdown.

It helps that both parties think they can win on the politics of a shutdown. Democrats see this as a replay of the government shutdown of 2013, when congressional Republicans tried to undo a major Obama administration policy (then Obamacare; now the president’s executive actions on immigration) as a condition of keeping the government open. Republicans, for their part, appear to believe that because the Senate’s Democratic minority is filibustering their funding bill, Democrats will take the blame — though there’s little indication that they would become willing to roll back all of Obama’s executive actions to end a shutdown. It’s also not clear if Republicans could get a critical mass of support within their own party for anything less.

But the nonchalance with which both parties are treating the prospect of a Department of Homeland Security shutdown raises a big policy question: why does the department even exist?

The answer is that it shouldn’t, and it never should have. DHS was a mistake to begin with. Instead of solving the coordination problems it was supposed to solve, it simply duplicated efforts already happening in other federal departments. And attempts to control and distinguish the department have politicized it to the point where it can’t function smoothly — and might be threatening national security.

This isn’t to say that DHS should be fully liquidated. The argument is there’s no reason for it to exist as its own department when it can be reabsorbed into the various departments (from Justice to Treasury) from which it was assembled.

Since neither side is fighting to make the case for DHS, it’s as good a time as any to look back over the agency’s decade-plus-long history, and assess how the department’s actually worked. The answer appears to be that the problems built deep in the department haven’t aided national security — and might have damaged it.

DHS was doomed from the start

DHS formation

Tom Ridge, the first DHS secretary, looks like he’s about to high-five President Bush — but the White House left him hanging in more ways than one. (Mike Theiler/Getty)

“I don’t think (George W.) Bush was ever excited about the department,” former Democratic member of Congress Jane Harman told The New Republic in 2009. But because it was “politically expedient,” his White House went ahead with building a proposal for the new department in spring 2002 — and rushed the process, possibly to distract from revelations that the intelligence community could have prevented 9/11 if it had coordinated the information it already had.

If the point of DHS was to consolidate disaster prevention (whether natural or terroristic) and response under one roof, it failed miserably.

The process for deciding which existing agencies would be moved to DHS, and which ones would stay in other departments, was haphazard at best. According to a 2005 Washington Post article, the agency that supplies prosecutors in immigration court cases was moved to DHS; the agency that supplies immigration court judges, on the other hand, stayed in the Department of Justice. (The reason: the person in charge, a Harvard security expert working for Secretary-to-be Tom Ridge, simply hadn’t known immigration courts were a thing, so hadn’t looked for them.) When the White House team wanted a research lab for the new department, one of them phoned a friend to ask which of the Department of Energy’s labs they should take — according to the Post, the team “did not realize that he had just decided to give the new department a thermonuclear weapon simulator.”

The department’s biggest problem, however, was that it completely failed to address the single biggest pre-9/11 counterterrorism failure. In fact, it made it worse. The 9/11 Commission Report (which came out after the creation of DHS) cited failure to share counter-terrorism intelligence and strategy as one reason the attacks succeeded. According to a 2011 Cato Institute report, the two primary agencies it singled out were the FBI and the CIA — neither of which was moved to DHS. (The FBI is still part of the Department of Justice; the CIA is still an independent agency.) So now, counterterrorism work is being done by agencies in three different departments.

A department of copycat programs

DHS headquarters

Just like this image of the US, counterterrorism responsibilities are cobbled together from a bunch of departments in the federal government. (Jim Watson/AFP)

This hasn’t stopped DHS from trying to develop its own security capacity. It just means that whatever DHS does is already being done elsewhere in the government. And that duplication and fragmentation has made the national-security apparatus even harder to manage.

Take the example of equipment grants to state and local law enforcement. There were already two different federal programs to help police departments get equipment: the Department of Defense’s 1033 program, which sends out surplus military gear to law enforcement (and requires they use it within a year), and the Department of Justice’s Byrne grant program. But DHS now has its own set of grants to allow police departments to purchase military and other equipment. It’s supposed to be used for counterterrorism, but (just as with the other grant programs) police often end up using the equipment for routine drug enforcement.

SWAT team manhunt

And as a recent White House report pointed out, having three different departments giving resources to local police has made it harder to track how those resources get used. If the Department of Justice, for example, finds out that a police department has been misusing funds or violating the constitution, it can cut off DOJ grant money — but the police department can turn around and apply for help from the Department of Defense and DHS.

Or think of “fusion centers,” regional hubs supported by DHS to share information among multiple federal agencies and between state, local and federal law enforcement. The fusion centers aren’t limited to sharing information about terrorism (they’re also supposed to monitor other types of crime), but it’s definitely a big component of their mission. The problem is that the FBI already has Joint Terrorism Task Forces to investigate terrorism, and Field Intelligence Groups to share information about it. In a 2013 study, the Government Accountability Officelooked at eight cities, and found that the fusion centers in all eight cities overlapped at least partially with the FBI’s counterterrorism work — and in four of them, there was nothing the fusion centers did that the FBI wasn’t already doing. (There are also other things within DHS that overlap with fusion centers’ other purposes.)

fusion center

“I don’t know why I need to be here, either!” (Karl Gehring/Denver Post)

That means that at best, DHS’ coordination work is redundant: a 2012 report from Republican Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) found that over a quarter of terrorism-related fusion center reports “appeared to duplicate a faster intelligence-sharing process administered by the FBI.” (That’s in addition to the reports that were based on publicly available information.) Because of that redundancy, dismantling DHS wouldn’t necessarily help civil liberties — anything DHS is doing that infringes on them is also being done by other departments. But, just like with police grants, consolidating the agencies that might be infringing on civil liberties will at least focus efforts to hold them accountable.

At worst, DHS’ work with fusion centers is actually hampering information sharing. A 2007 ACLU report on fusion centers explained how this would work:

Most likely what is taking place is a power struggle in which federal agencies seek to turn fusion centers into “information farms”—feeding their own centralized programs with data from the states and localities, without providing much in return. The localities, meanwhile, want federal data that the agencies do not want to give up. For federal security agencies, information is often the key currency in turf wars and other bureaucratic battles, and from the days of J. Edgar Hoover they have long been loathe to share it freely.

Those turf wars also happen between federal agencies, including between the FBI and DHS. In 2009, a Homeland Security Today column warned that “we’re operating the way things were before 9/11, where we uncovered the dots, but don’t connect them in time.”

Resistance from Congress and from its own employees

DHS has managed to distinguish itself from the other government agencies doing similar work — by becoming extremely politicized, both in its dealings with Congress and internally. It’s become part of DHS’ structure — again, in ways that have threatened national security.

The department has had to deal with so much congressional “oversight” that it’s become unproductive. As of fall 2014, more than 90 congressional committees and subcommittees had some sort of oversight responsibility over some portion of DHS. For comparison, the Department of Defense has about 30 committees or subcommittees with oversight responsibility.

Jeh Johnson testifying

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson looks like he wants to be basically anywhere else. Can you blame him? (Saul Loeb/AFP)

DHS officials need to spend enormous amounts of time preparing for congressional hearings and delivering research reports to members; that’s time that can’t go into directing DHS strategy, or managing the department. As former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said in a2013 Annenberg Public Policy Center report, this can actually defeat the purpose of congressional oversight: “either the department has no guidance or, more likely, the department ignores both because they’re in conflict. And so the department does what it wants to do.”

But what does the department “want to do”? That often depends on whether “the department” means officials in Washington, or agents in the field. At DHS, the two groups are often in open conflict. Throughout President Obama’s presidency, for example, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have been vocally opposed to any effort from DHS leadership to reduce the risk of deportation for some unauthorized immigrants. So when DHS leadership tried to target immigration enforcement by issuing memos to ICE field offices about who they should and shouldn’t “prioritize” for deportation, the offices often resisted or ignored those instructions — preventing the administration from actually being able to implement its policies. (As I’ve written before, this is arguably the biggest reason that the administration’s shifted to granting “deferred action” to unauthorized immigrants, in 2012 and again in 2014.)

This intra-agency tension is likely a big reason that DHS agencies routinely rank near or at the bottom of the federal government in employee morale. (In the latest survey in December 2014,DHS ranked lowest among “large agencies,” and ICE and two other DHS agencies shared the bottom three slots among all 314 agencies.) But it’s also a security problem.

After repeated security breaches in fall 2014, former Secret Service agent Dan Emmett wrote for Vox about the problems with the agency’s culture. The culprit he identified: the move from the Department of the Treasury to DHS. After that move, he said, the agency got politicized — and Secret Service leadership stopped telling White House staff when letting the president do something (like participate in a landing on an aircraft carrier) was a bad or unsafe idea.

DHS’ “essential” employees aren’t at department headquarters

At least one member of Congress, Rep. John Mica (R-FL), is talking openly about dismantling DHS. That’s partly a smokescreen for a fight about the labor rights of DHS employees — which has been ongoing since Congress passed the Homeland Security Act in 2002, and decided the creation of a new department justified stripping a bunch of rights from the workers who’d be staffing it. (Many of DHS’ labor regulations were later struck down in court.)

But Congress shouldn’t let a partisan battle over labor relations distract them from taking a hard look at whether they still believe DHS is necessary. After all, the attitude of many members of Congress suggests that, while they’re committed to many of DHS’ functions, they’re not as committed to the bureaucracy that oversees them.

Border patrol agent on ATV

Sure, when it’s time to blame the other party, members of Congress are playing up DHS’ importance: Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) called the shutdown fight “parliamentary ping-pong with national security,” while Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) suggested building coffins outside the offices of Democratic Senators if a terrorist attack happened during the shutdown. But when they’re talking about the actual consequences, Republicans, in particular, emphasize that over 85 percent of DHS employees would keep coming to work as “essential” government workers even if the department were shut down. “It’s not the end of the world if we get to that time,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) told Politico, “because the national security functions will not stop.”

Those 85 percent are mostly front-line government workers: border agents, TSA screeners, etc. They’re employees of the agencies who existed before DHS, and would continue to exist if DHS were dissolved. The employees at DHS headquarters, providing the centralized bureaucratic glue that’s supposedly so important to coordinating our national security strategy? They’d be staying home in the event of a shutdown. The department’s plan for the 2013 government shutdown had only 10 percent of the staff of the Office of the Secretary and the Office of the Undersecretary for Management “exempted” from the shutdown; 50 percent of the office of Analysis and Operations; and 57 percent of the National Protection and Programs Directorate (which didn’t exist pre-DHS but encompasses a few pre-DHS offices).

Either those offices are fundamental to “national security functions,” or they’re not. Given the department’s track record since its formation, Diaz-Balart is probably accidentally correct: it’s not actually essential to national security that DHS, as a department, be running on a daily basis. But if he and other members of Congress are really so convinced that that’s the case, they need to seriously consider disbanding DHS for good.


CORRECTION: This article originally said the CIA is part of the State Department. It’s an independent agency. (It’s still not part of DHS, though.) The article also incorrectly stated the date of Annenberg Public Policy Center’s oversight report; it was published in 2013.

Congressmen Blasting Obama For Special Immigration Exceptions Have Made Special Immigration Exceptions

Tom Cotton (R-AR) | CREDIT: AP PHOTO/DANNY JOHNSTON

Think Progress

On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearingwith the less-than-impartial title, “President Obama’s Executive Overreach on Immigration.” But many of the same members of Congress who are decrying the president’s unilateral decision to halt the deportations of some undocumented immigrants are using their own unilateral power to effectively halt deportation of individuals of their own choosing.

Sunday, Senator-Elect and current Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), sharply criticized last month’s executive action. “The president just lost an election, in no small measure because wages for working families are declining and unemployment is still too high in too many places, and the first big action he took after the election was to make it easier for illegal immigrants to get jobs, not for working families to get jobs,” he told Meet the Press host Chuck Todd. In earlier interviews, he threatened to defund such action and suggested the possibility of blocking judicial nominees to retaliate for what he termed “President Obama’s lawless actions.”

But a little-noticed bill filed by Cotton in June would grant similar protections to a trio of non-citizens, “Notwithstanding subsections (a) and (b) of section 201 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.” His bill would have allowed Meriam Yahya Ibrahim (a Sudanese woman later granted asylum after being sentenced to death for apostasy after converting to Christianity) and her children eligibility “for issuance of an immigrant visa or for adjustment of status to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence upon filing an application for issuance of an immigrant visa.” While the House never acted on Cotton’s bill, it was not necessary.

Here’s why: any individual U.S. senator or representative can file a “private bill,” proposing relief for a person who has not been granted asylum or citizenship, but still wants to live in the United States. The bill gets assigned to a committee, but almost never comes up for a vote. While in committee, the administration is asked to weigh in on the merits of the person in question. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) almost always allows the individual to stay in the country under “deferred action,” as long as the bill is technically pending in Congress. The end result is that sponsor is unilaterally able to do much the same thing as the “deferred action” granted by President Obama and his predecessors in both parties. At the start of the next Congress, the bill’s sponsor simply re-files the bill, restarting the process.

Similarly, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) filed a private bill in 2012 to grant relief to Dr. Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor who helped the U.S. capture Osama Bin Laden. But after President Obama’s executive action, Rohrabacher decried it as “autocratic contempt for our democratic governing system” a “naked power grab,” and and a “lawless action.” A spokesman for Rohrabacher told ThinkProgress that he sees “no contradiction” between the positions as the “executive action was an attempt to defy the will of Congress,” while the private bill effort “defines congressional will.”

Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) has also been a vocal critic of the executive action, likening his bypassing of Congress to a “grenade” from the president. A private bill he filed in January to grant relief to John Cheruiyot Kemboi and Winnie Njeri Kemboi, a married Kenyan couple who had sought asylum. A Tiberi spokeswoman told ThinkProgress that one of their children, a U.S. citizen, has health problems and the Kembois want to stay in the country to care for him. “If anything the Kemboi family situation is yet another example of our broken immigration system,” she explained, and “Congressman Tiberi believes that the president should work with Congress to fix the nation’s immigration problems, not just issue mandates from the Oval Office.”

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) blasted President Obama’s executive action as “unconstitutional” and designed to divide the GOP. His own “private bills” have spared Alemseghed Mussie Tesfamical from deportaiton back to Eritrea for the past several Congresses. And Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who opined that “the President’s ‘go it alone’ approach drives a political wedge into ongoing reform efforts and recklessly disregards our nation’s lawmaking process,” filed a private bill last year to assist Ibrahim Parlak, a controversialKurdish immigrant.

While most of the critics have been Republicans, a handful of Democrats have also objected to the executive action. One, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) warned that executive action would “cause more problems” than it it would solve. But he filed a private bill to help Corina de Chalup Turcinovic, a French-born widow.

The offices of Reps. Cotton, King, Lipinski, and Upton did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry about the bills and the apparent contradiction.

5 immigration myths debunked

CNN Money

President Obama is taking executive action to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

His plan has been a tough sell to the American people, especially with the new Republican-controlled Congress. But many experts agree that some of the arguments against immigration are based on misguided information.

Here are 5 myths about undocumented immigrants, and why they’re wrong.

Myth # 1: They don’t pay taxes

Undocumented immigrants are already U.S. taxpayers.

Collectively, they paid an estimated $10.6 billion to state and local taxes in 2010, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a research organization that works on tax policy issues. Contributions varied by state. In Montana they contributed $2 million. In California, more than $2.2 billion. On average they pay about 6.4% of their income in state and local taxes, ITEP said.

A 2007 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the impact of undocumented immigrants on the budgets of local and state governments cited IRS figures showing that 50% to 75% of the about 11 million unauthorized U.S. immigrants file and pay income taxes each year.

A 2013 CBO analysis of the failed bipartisan bill introduced by the so-called “gang of 8” that would have created a path to legal status for many undocumented immigrants found that increasing legal immigration would increase government spending on refundable tax credits, Medicaid and health insurance subsidies, among other federal benefits. But it would also create even more tax revenue by way of income and payroll taxes. That could reduce deficits by $175 billion over the first 10 years and by at least $700 billion in the second decade.

ITEP estimates that allowing certain immigrants to stay in the country and work legally would boost state and local tax contributions by $2 billion a year.

Related: America’s most dangerous jobs.

Myth # 2: They don’t pay into Social Security

The truth is that undocumented immigrants contribute more in payroll taxes than they will ever consume in public benefits.

Take Social Security. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), unauthorized immigrants — who are not eligible to receive Social Security benefits — have paid an eye-popping $100 billion into the fund over the past decade.

“They are paying an estimated $15 billion a year into Social Security with no intention of ever collecting benefits,” Stephen Goss, chief actuary of the SSA told CNNMoney. “Without the estimated 3.1 million undocumented immigrants paying into the system, Social Security would have entered persistent shortfall of tax revenue to cover payouts starting in 2009,” he said.

As the baby boom generation ages and retires, immigrant workers are key to shoring up Social Security and counteracting the effects of the decline in U.S.-born workers paying into the system, Goss said.

Without immigrants, the Social Security Board of Trustees projects that the system will no longer be able to pay the full promised benefits by 2037.

Myth #3: They drain the system

Undocumented immigrants do not qualify for welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, and most other public benefits. Most of these programs require proof of legal immigration status and under the 1996 welfare law, even legal immigrants cannot receive these benefits until they have been in the United States for more than five years.

Related: Part-time jobs put millions in poverty or close to it.

Non-citizen immigrant adults and children are about 25% less likely to be signed up for Medicaid than their poor native-born equivalents and are also 37% less likely to receive food stamps, according to a 2013 study by the Cato Institute.

Citizen children of illegal immigrants — often derogatorily referred to as “anchor babies” — do qualify for social benefits. Also, undocumented immigrants are eligible for schooling and emergency medical care. Currently, the average unlawful immigrant household costs taxpayers $14,387 per household, according to a recent report by The Heritage Foundation. But in its 2013 “Immigration Myths and Facts” report, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says most economists see providing these benefits as an investment for the future, when these children become workers and taxpayers.

A CBO report on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 concluded that a path to legalization for immigrants would increase federal revenues by $48 billion. Such a plan would see $23 billion in increased costs from the use of public services, but ultimately, it would produce a surplus of $25 billion for government coffers, CBO said.

Myth # 4: They take American jobs

The American economy needs immigrant workers.

The belief that immigrants take jobs that can otherwise be filled by hard-working Americans has been disputed by an overwhelming number of economic research studies and data.

Related: Four immigration fixes that could turbo-charge tech.

Removing the approximately 8 million unauthorized workers in the United States would not automatically create 8 million job openings for unemployed Americans, said Daniel Griswold, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Policy Studies, in his 2011 testimony before the House Judiciary Sub-committee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.

The reason, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is two-fold. For one, removing millions of undocumented workers from the economy would also remove millions of entrepreneurs, consumers and taxpayers. The economy would actually lose jobs. Second, native-born workers and immigrant workers tend to possess different skills that often complement one another.

According to Griswold, immigrants, regardless of status, fill the growing gap between expanding low-skilled jobs and the shrinking pool of native-born Americans who are willing to take such jobs. By facilitating the growth of such sectors as retail, agriculture, landscaping, restaurants, and hotels, low-skilled immigrants have enabled those sectors to expand, attract investment, and create middle-class jobs in management, design and engineering, bookkeeping, marketing and other areas that employ U.S. citizens.

America’s unions support the president’s executive action. “For far too long, our broken immigration system has allowed employers to drive down wages and working conditions in our country,” the AFL-CIO says on its website. “The brunt of the impact has been born by immigrant workers, who face the highest rates of wage theft, sexual harassment, and death and injury on the job.”

Myth # 5: It’s just a matter of following the law

Many Americans want immigrants to enter the country legally.

But under current immigration laws, there are very few options for legal immigration, the costs are increasingly prohibitive and the wait for any kind of status can be long and frustrating.

Related: I created 7 jobs and the US tried to deport me.

According to the State Department, that imaginary “immigration line” is already 4.4 million people long and depending on the type of visa sought and the country of origin, the wait can be years to decades long. In some countries, such as the Philippines and Mexico people have been waiting over 20 years for approval of a family-sponsored visa.

Immigrants can legally get to the U.S by being sponsored by an employer or a family member, they can enter the country as refugees, or they could receive one of the selectively distributed professional or diversity visas. The Diversity Visa Program makes 55,000 green cards available to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S.

According to the State Department, the fees to obtain permanent U.S. visas can range from $200 to over $700, excluding legal fees. Plus, there are visa quotas which limits immigration from any given country.

In many poor, violence-ridden countries, or in cases where parents are separated from their children, immigrants say the wait is unbearable, leaving many to resort to illegal border crossing.

That journey can be expensive and deadly.

Smugglers charge anywhere from $3000 to upwards of $70,000 depending on country of origin, mode of transport and distance travelled according to the Mexican Migration Project, a multidisciplinary research effort between investigators in Mexico and the U.S.

Many don’t make it. According to federal records, more than 6,000 immigrants have died crossing the southern border since 1998

Fox hosts outraged that Texas 911 operators are ‘forced’ to help dying non-English speakers

 

Fox News host Steve Doocy | screenshot

Steve Doocy’s hatred of the “other” is clearly demonstrated in his facial expression here.  The problem with the above picture is that the expression appears to be permanent, not unlike an old episode of The Twilight Zone entitled: The Masks.

The Raw Story

The hosts of Fox & Friends on Wednesday were shocked to learn that emergency responders were “forced” to serve non-English speakers in life-threatening situations even if the callers were suspected of entering the country illegally.

“They stumbled across the border illegally and now they need your help!” Fox News host Steve Doocy complained, pointing to a 911 call in Brooks County, Texas where a man who could only speak Spanish asked for a helicopter rescue because his cousin was “turning purple.”

“A small Texas town forced to answer 911 from stranded illegals in Spanish!” Doocy exclaimed.

“Not only are they understaffed and lacking resources, now they’ve got to deal with illegal immigrants who have no business being here,” co-host Brian Kilmeade opined.

Brooks County Chief Deputy Urbino “Benny” Martinez pointed out to Kilmeade that his department had a duty to respond to all 911 calls.

“So, those calls you have to respond to, even though for the most part when you get there, you realize, they’re not an American citizen?” the Fox News host pressed.

“That’s correct, but they’re on U.S. soil, and due process comes into play, and that’s the way we’re taking them as,” Martinez explained.

The chief deputy added that he wanted Republicans and Democrats to drop partisan ideology and have a “sincere dialog” because his department was running out of funds.

Earlier this week, sheriffs of Texas border counties said that Gov. Rick Perry (R) was wasting money on a “political” stunt by sending 1,000 National Guard troops to the border.

Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio told the Dallas Morning News that the state should be spending money to fund police officers who were empowered to respond to the border crisis.

Watch the video below from Fox News’ Fox & Friends, broadcast July 23, 2014.

 

KS:  I always think of the text that appears on the Statue of Liberty.  In part it reads…

 
“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!”

Emma Lazarus 

Immigration, charity, and conservatives’ unholy assault on Glenn Beck

His supporters are pushing back.

His supporters are pushing back. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Week

When Glenn Beck announced he would deliver food and toys to immigrant children, the attacks were blistering — and profoundly unchristian

For a movement that wants to eliminate welfare on the grounds it crowds out charity, the rightmost edge of conservatism has been remarkably uncharitable throughout the current immigration crisis. It is almost like they detest charity itself.

Earlier this month, Glenn Beck announced his intention to deliver food, toys, and other supplies to the undocumented immigrants detained in McAllen, Texas. His reasoning was fairly straightforward: Since the immigrants, who are generally children, currently awaiting processing have escaped corruption and violence and political unrest, there is a moral imperative to extend to them welcome and aid. Beck never advocated any form of amnesty, nor did he propose any particular policy (aside from registering his anger with the Obama administration’s response). He felt morally obligated to intervene on humanitarian grounds, and asked his audience’s help in raising funds to do so.

Beck’s impulse was a good one, and his reasoning was equally sound from an ethical standpoint. There are always moral hazards in our interactions with others, including in charitable acts. But that doesn’t mean a turn-the-other-cheek mentality isn’t warranted.

Yet Beck’s audience did the opposite. In response to his charitable campaign, Beck’s listenersevidently flooded him with threats made against his life and work. Other conservative pundits made hay of the backlash against Beck, including Bill O’Reilly, who aired a complaint from one of his viewers excoriating Beck on The O’Reilly Factor. “I am appalled by Glenn Beck’s visit to the border,” the viewer complained. “Wait until poor people in Central America hear that he is giving them millions of dollars. They’ll flow in here like water.”

So much for the Christian mission of mercy and tenderness. For Beck’s enraged audience, any act of kindness, no matter how small — the immigrants would have eaten whether or not Beck served the food, and ‘millions of dollars’ were never on offer — was too great a risk.

In fact, it appears the far right opinion generators currently trying to manipulate the outcome of the crisis cannot even muster a charitable way of thinking about the children currently sleeping under Red Cross blankets in crowded rooms near the Texan border. As Fare Forward‘s Laura Marshall points out, there’s a powerful Christian significance to offering others charity, a willingness to understand them and their life circumstances in the least cynical, least hateful terms possible. The opposite of this approach involves the decision to imagine others in the worst terms, to construe all of their characteristics and behavior in the most negative, obscene ways one can muster.

It’s this latter abuse that far right media jockeys have mounted in full against the child refugees gathering at the border. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) has made preposterous claims about the ebola virus being endemic among the refugee population; there is no evidence to support this, though history illustrates that claims of poor hygiene and filthiness are typical of one group’s demonization of another. With the terms of moral hygiene established, it’s easy to imagine refugees and other vulnerable populations as contagion. A less callous approach would display genuine concern for the health of the immigrants themselves.

Lastly, consider the EPIC (El Paso Intelligence Center) report peddled by Breitbart. While the conservative site leapt at the chance to use the 10-page document as definitive proof that the kids at the border are nothing but opportunists looking to leech off of the American way of life, they ignored the facts within. Even EPIC admits that 65 percent of the immigrants have identified some form of violence as significant in their decision to leave their home nations. That basically makes them refugees.

Nonetheless, the report has been twisted by places like Breitbart to show that the kids are here because they think they can stay and freeload. The fact that push factors and pull factors figure into the complex and difficult decision to leave home has been uncharitably shucked aside for a simple narrative: don’t listen to the media, these kids aren’t afraid of violence at all; they just came here because they think we’ll let them stay!

In other words, no matter the evidence presented or the strength of moral reasoning, charity itself — even private, voluntary charity — has been routinely dismissed, derided, and mocked by powerful voices on the far right. When the next opportunity for a genuine outpouring of charity arises, what should we expect? If a crisis involving unaccompanied children isn’t enough to elicit a charitable impulse, nothing will ever be.

A View From The Border: Signs From A Surprising Rally In Texas

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CREDIT: JACK JENKINS

Think Progress

MCALLEN, TX — At least 60 advocates braved sauna-like conditions near the Texas border on Saturday to rally across the street from the McAllen Borer Patrol Station, showing their support for the influx of unaccompanied Latin American children being apprehended there.

About 57,000 children, mostly from Central America, have been detained this fiscal year by Border Patrol agents, many in Texas’s Rio Grand Valley towns, like McAllen. Studies show that — at least since 2009 — children have been leaving the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala in droves because of increasing violence and grinding poverty, taking dangerous journeys to the U.S. to seek refuge.

The rally, which was also an interfaith prayer vigil, was meant to counter hundreds of planned “anti-amnesty” protests across the country over the Obama administration’s handling of the surge. Only three people showed up nearby as part of the national anti-immigrant protests. They said they expected others to arrive, but also speculated they may have “gotten the wrong address.”

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CREDIT: JACK JENKINS

Attendees at the rally in support of the children brought messages of love, compassion, and sympathy for children for whom they feared a return to Latin America could mean certain death.

Here are the top ten signs that advocates brought to the rally:

1. Some alluded to the tragic maltreatment of minors crossing the border, such as incidentswhere Tea Party protestors have berated children as they are bused to processing centers.

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE AND JACK JENKINS

2. America: A nation of immigrants.

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE

3. A little Texas hospitality goes a long way, y’all.

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CREDIT: JACK JENKINS

4. “USA: Defined by how we treat immigrants.”

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE AND JACK JENKINS

5. One of the core reasons for the recent surge of child immigrants is the sharp uptick in gang violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Sending children back to broken communities in these countries puts them at great risk of injury, rape, and even death.

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE

6. Paddington Bear has something to say about immigration as well.

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE

7. The vigil included representatives from several religious traditions, including Catholics, Unitarians, Presbyterians, and Muslims. Faith groups have been at the forefront of efforts to offer relief to the unaccompanied minors, and Pope Francis recently called for the international community to work together to address the crisis. A regional atheist group was also present at the rally to express support for the kids.

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE

8. “Believe in the value and the dignity of each person = protect refugees.”

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE

9. The Helping Unaccompanied Minors and Alleviating National Emergency (HUMANE) Act, recently introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), seeks to expedite the process of trying unaccompanied minors by making the federal government deport Central American children just as quickly as they already do with Mexican children. However, the act would deny many of these children the fair trial they deserve, and would probably only hurt those it claims to protect.

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CREDIT: JACK JENKINS

10. Some 2,000 people have died trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border over the past 10 years. That number could increase as more and more Central Americans flee horrific violence and poverty in their home countries.

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE

Linda Yanez, a former state judge, told ThinkProgress that these children should be given the right to plead their cases in front of an immigration judge, and that any proposed legislation would actually harm their ability to do so. “I’m not against the Border Patrol, they’re just doing their jobs,” Yanez said. “It’s about our policy lawmakers and about what they tell our Border Patrol to do. I’m here to support due process.”

“The fact that gangs and drug lords have the biggest influence is something we can’t ignore,” Yanez added. “It’s a life and death situation… It’s a Sophie choice. If these are my choices, I’m going to take the one that gives my child some chance at survival.”