Monthly Archives: August 2018

The Assault on Citizenship–and Citizens

The Trump administration has taken many official actions that are transparently illegal. For example, there have been a laundry-load of illegal attempts to stop the implementation of various valid regulations that the new EPA, Dept. of Interior, and other agencies want to amend or withdraw. Our law doesn’t work that way, and federal judges have done a decent job of laughing those transparently illegal actions out of court and keeping the old regulations in place until a valid new one is promulgated.

Worse, there have been terrible and illegal actions by the Trump administration preventing asylum-seekers from presenting their claims, and especially evil actions in which the administration has gone out of its way to separate refugee children from their parents–a policy whose harms were intensified by ineptitude, or more likely intentional viciousness, in which the Trump administration then lost the children, or never collected or lost the information about which child belonged with which parent, or deported the parents and then said it was unable or unwilling to reunite the families. Children in detention have at times received no care, little care, or been caged much like animals. At least one toddler died following, and as far as we can tell as a result of, this captivity. Here too, we have more than one judge with a spine doing what they can to force the Trump administration to clean up the mess it made. Cooperation has been imperfect at best, and there is evidence that suggests outright obstruction at times.

Do not be fooled into the complacent view that only foreign people are at risk. The Trump administration is gunning for naturalized citizens. Where once denaturalization was an exceptional remedy for significant immigration fraud (such as failing to admit WW2 Nazi ties), now it’s an enforcement goal to be applied more broadly.

But that’s not all: the Trump administration is also trying to denaturalize natural-born citizens. We learn now that the Trump administration is coming for the citizenship of a substantial number of Mexican-Americans. The purported reason is doubts about the validity of their birthright citizenship due to the existence of some cases (perhaps a very small number, it isn’t clear yet) of actual fraud in which children born south of the Rio Grande were said to have been born north of it. The degree of particularized suspicion sounds, from what we know so far, quite thin. The near-impossibility of finding proof of birth location by midwife 30+ years after the fact is obvious. And, not that it should matter, many of the victims of this policy are veterans, cops, or holders of other jobs of trust and responsibility.

These cases are only part of a more general pattern of aggressive enforcement against Black or Brown people. In one case, ICE held a (Black) citizen in detention for 1,273 days. ‘Mistakes’ are legion.

Some of these policies are not new in principle but have been greatly generalized in application from rare and exceptional to routine and careless or grossly and gleefully reckless, thus including cases where proof is thin or lacking. In time they too may founder in the courts. Meanwhile they will deal pain, spread fear, and could stop a large number of people from voting while their cases are being litigated, for fear of committing the federal crime of non-citizen voting. Win-win for Trump.

Trump notoriously envies Russian strong-man policies. How long before the Trump administration attempts to adopt Russian policies on removing citizenship of dual nationals, or of dissidents? Unthinkable? I would have said revoking some citizens’ passports and locking up others on the grounds they are fake citizens should cross every line and serve as ample warnings. The behavior we have already seen by the US Government was considered unthinkable when I was in law school 30 years ago. When I palled around with the cypherpunks in the 90’s and they worried about oppressive domestic regimes, it was easy to dismiss them as paranoid; I myself wavered at times on the extent to which they were sensibly cautious or plain nuts (and, admittedly, it may have varied among them).

Clichéd perhaps from overuse, but more apt then ever, are the words of Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

My wife, a green-card-holder, is going abroad today for a week in which she’ll attend an academic conference. Will the Trump administration let her back into the US next week? Nothing to worry about, I think, because she’s white, and British even if she is an academic. Not the targeted group at present. That we should have to make this calculation and measure our privilege is an outrage for us, a far more serious wrong for those lacking it, and a tragedy for this country.

Posted in Immigration, Law: Right to Travel, Trump | 2 Comments

DeSantis & Racism

Some people (including a commentator on this blog!) have said it’s unfair to suggest DeSantis’s “monkey” comment was an intentional (or unintentional) racist dog whistle. That’s his campaign’s line too.

DeSantis’s personal history is suggestive here. So you be the judge:

Ron DeSantis, the Trump-endorsed congressman who won Tuesday’s GOP primary for Florida governor, is an administrator on an active Facebook group where conservatives share racist, conspiratorial and incendiary posts about a litany of targets, including black Americans and South Africans, the “deep state,” survivors of February’s massacre at a Florida high school, immigrants, Muslims and, in recent days, John McCain.

The Facebook group, simply named Tea Party, has nearly 95,000 members, and users must join the group to post or comment. The banner for the group is an image of the Confederate, Christian and Gadsden flags flying alongside the flags of the U.S. and Israel. (It isn’t affiliated with the conservative group Tea Party Patriots.)

I’d say that at the very very least this is such a radical insensitivity to racism plus a bit of enabling behavior (being an admin for the group) as to count as the thing itself, especially for a person in public life.

Posted in 2018 Election, Florida | 3 Comments

The Luckiest Man in Florida Politics

Bill Nelson won primary day in Florida. Why do I say that when Nelson was uncontested in his primary, and Rick Scott — sure to be Nelson’s toughest-ever opponent — romped on the GOP side? Because Nelson, a very lousy campaigner who has never faced a tough election and now has one, will be on a ticket with two dynamic candidates who will spur turnout: Andrew Gillum (Governor) and Sean Shaw (Attorney General).

One wrinkle: Both Gillum and Shaw are Black, and this will excite the racist vote, which is not to be discounted in Florida. The Very Loud dog-whistles have already begun, with the GOP candidate for Governor Ron DeSantis blowing one loud in clear in his first post-selection TV interview, so loud and clear that the roof fell on him, and even Fox had to run a corrective.

Gillum is running as a pragmatic progressive, which is just the right note for Florida. Gillum-DeSantis is going to be quite a race:

Florida’s Republican candidate for governor, Ron DeSantis, is a Trump-endorsed lunatic …. His most viral campaign ad included a shot of him teaching his child about “building the wall” between the United States and Mexico even though Florida doesn’t share a land border with any other country. He has already begun sniping at Gillum, but the state Democrats have finally elected someone who might be able to counter bad-faith attacks from the state’s ever-surging right wing.

That’s because Gillum is a new breed of candidate for the Florida Democrats. The party is frequently beset by leadership struggles and is often the butt of jokes among reporters for its near-constant ability to lose easily winnable races in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans. Rick Scott, for example, won two terms despite being a white-collar criminal and Medicare fraudster. The state’s Democratic candidates since 2000 have been former Republican Charlie Crist, former banking executive Alex Sink, Clintonite “New Democrat” Jim Davis, and Central Florida’s forgettable Bill McBride. To say Gillum’s platform is more exciting than Crist’s is like saying a Sherman tank has more firepower than a slingshot. Whether or not you like Gillum, it’s fair to say the state hasn’t seen a gubernatorial candidate like him before.

I’m sending in my contribution tonight.

Posted in 2018 Election, Florida | 14 Comments

Andrew Gillum Won!

I didn’t see that coming, but I’m very happy about it. Gillum is a great campaigner; as I argued previously Gwen Graham was just a dud. Florida is going to have a very interesting election season coming up.

None of the worst local candidates for judge got elected, but a couple of them sure got a lot of votes. More about that anon.

Posted in 2018 Election, Florida | Comments Off on Andrew Gillum Won!

Top-Notch Trolling

I am far from being Chuck Schumer’s greatest fan, but I have to hand it to him for his masterful trolling of Senate Republicans this week. By suggesting that the Russel Office Building be renamed for the now late Senator McCain, Sen. Schumer threatens Republicans with a vote that would be a Hobson’s choice: either they vote for McCain, who not only will be said to represent the virtues they have left behind but will also be a vote that enrages their Maximum Leader. Or, they can vote for the segregationist, Richard Russell, a Georgia Democrat who led opposition to civil rights legislation.

It’s beautiful: vote for the anti-Trump or for the Democratic segregationist. No wonder Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to bury the suggestion under delaying tactics.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Not the Onion

Race-Baiting Strip Club Shooter Regrets Acting as His Own Attorney” — Actual Miami news.

Posted in Law: Criminal Law, Miami, Onion/Not-Onion | Comments Off on Not the Onion