Monday, February 13, 2017

Overwhelming Minority

Guadalupe García de Rayos. Photo by Rob Schumacher/Arizona Republic, via Will Bunch at Philly.
That's what Governor Chris Christie calls the non-felons being snatched up in raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement around the country, like dolphins caught in a tuna net, in the Los Angeles area some 25% of the total according to ICE, or 40 of the 160 people they acknowledge busting, alongside who knows what percentage of the hundreds more in Atlanta, New York, Chicago, and cities in Florida, Texas, Kansas, Virginia, and North and South Carolina, an "overwhelming minority":
I can tell you, Jake, from having run a government for seven years and been involved for many years as a U.S. attorney, things always don't go perfectly. And so you are going to have some people who also, by the way, have violated the law, but don't fit that one category. But that will be the overwhelming minority in all this. And what -- what people should focus on is what the president is trying to do, which is to keep a campaign promise on making sure that violent criminals who are here illegally are taken out of the country in order to make America's streets safer. 
So one of the overwhelming minority is Guadalupe García de Rayos, as we learn from Will Bunch:
Last week, García de Rayos -- 36, married with two teenage children at home near Phoenix -- was doing exactly what the U.S. government had asked her to do, checking in with officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. The same thing she'd already done seven times before. Each of those other times, García de Rayos was sent back to her family. Now, under the Trump administration, she was detained and then -- as protesters including her two kids screamed and pounded on drums -- was loaded on a van and deported across the border to Nogales. Mexico.
In the Catch 22 world of American immigration, García de Rayos' "crime" was...being an immigrant. She was here without papers since she was 14, caught in a workplace raid in 2008 by the notorious Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff Joe Arpaio using a phony Social Security card to work (and presumably to pay Social Security taxes).
There's a sense that ICE is targeting so-called "sanctuary cities", or cities that make it an official policy that local law enforcement doesn't play a role in the enforcement of federal immigration law (as it isn't obliged by any law to do) unless it's in conjunction with some kind of significant crime, as Mayor Steve Adler of Austin, one of the targeted cities, was explaining on NPR:
I rely here on our public safety professionals - our police chief, our sheriff. And quite frankly, their views are consistent with the national - the big cities' police chiefs. What they say is that you have to develop a trust relationship with communities. In our community, we have one of the - in fact, Austin is one of the safest communities in the country. And we're safe because we have that relationship. Victims in our community feel free to come forward and seek help from our public safety, regardless of who they are. Witnesses to events and to crimes feel safe coming to our police because they know they can do that safely. That's something that we've earned over time. And what our police and our professionals tell us is, is that if they're going to keep this community safe, they have to be able to preserve that relationship.
The theory would be that these cities are being punished by the Trump administration, which prefers threats and brutality. Trump's original plan to punish them, with the executive order of January 25, by taking their money away—
Ensure that jurisdictions that fail to comply with applicable Federal law do not receive Federal funds, except as mandated by law 
—looks likely not to work, because there's no clear legal justification for demanding municipal governments to obey something that isn't a law (and most of the cities are net contributors to the federal government, giving it more in taxes than they get back in benefits), and no particular funds it makes any sense to hold back (cancel funding for additional police officers, as an anticrime gesture?). Indeed since the order was issued a number of cities have have joined in adopting sanctuary policies, in defiance of Trump's menaces. So the administration, unable to force them to do what it wants, is harassing them instead, lashing out in an effort to create as much misery as it can.

As usual, the rightwingers who have spent years condemning Barack Obama for failing to enforce immigration law now excuse Trump by saying Obama provides a precedent ("Calm down!"), the same as they did with the Muslim and refugee bans, but of course that's not true: as Mayor Adler put it,
my understanding is that in the Obama administration, they were targeting people that had warrants. They were criminals or - and that if during the Obama administration, my understanding from talking to our consul general, is that when they would pick that person up, they wouldn't pick up the other three or four people that happened to be around them that were caught in that moment. What's happening now, I understand, is they're not only picking up the person who has the criminal background but somebody who does not.
(It's also false, while I'm up, that the Obama administration deported more undocumented immmigrants than previous administrations: what they did was to redefine "deportation" to include people caught crossing the border,  which made the number much larger without changing the policy at all, even as undocumented people living in the United States became much less likely to be deported.)

Christie—I wonder if he's still hoping for a White House job himself, in that reality-show device where they sometimes try to reanimate a soggy cast by bringing back a contestant who was thrown off the island for cause but who is good at generating drama; Trump's obviously got to start firing folks pretty soon, starting with Spicer perhaps, or the apparently treasonous General Flynn, or the unspeakable twit and white nationalist Stephen Miller who made his Sunday-show debut yesterday, because they're getting so ridiculous Trump isn't even daring to tweet about Saturday Night Live any more—Christie hits on something, I think, when he explains that "what the president is trying to do" is "keep a campaign promise on" all those violent criminal immigrants (who hardly exist).

That curious expression "promise on" being to deflect our attention from the promise to accomplish something that Trump in fact made,
get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate
which is obviously not going to happen, if only because there are nowhere near so many. His aim here and elsewhere is to look as if he's keeping campaign promises, and the more suffering he spreads among the powerless the better he thinks he'll look. And they're merely an overwhelming minority.

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