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“Blood on their hands” – Trump attacks the Judiciary

by Brian T. Lynch

President Donald Trump is fomenting a constitutional crisis that he cannot be allowed to win. In an official White House press release today, Donald Trump’s Administration said elected officials in San Francisco “… have the blood of dead Americans on their hands” for opposing the Sanctuary Cities Executive Order that would strip away the city’s federal funding for not fully engaging in federal immigration enforcement efforts.  The press release said, “Today, the rule of law suffered another blow, as an unelected judge unilaterally rewrote immigration policy for our Nation.”

The press release was a response to a lawsuit filed by San Francisco and other county officials requesting an injunction against enforcement of financial sanctions against them. They argued that the Executive Order is unconstitutional.

After hearing both sides of oral arguments in federal court, Judge William H. Orrick granted the injunction against the Administration, barring it from withdrawing any federal funding to cities and counties until after the issue can be adjudicated in a trial. In the judges legal opinion, the merits of the case presented by the city and counties would likely prevail at trial.

Summary of Judge Orrick’s Ruling.

According to Judge Orrick’s ruling, the Trump Administrations Sanctuary Cities Executive Order:

  1. Violates the separation of powers because it improperly seeks to wield congressional spending powers
  1. Is overbroad and coercive, violates 10th Amendment prohibition against commandeering local jurisdictions
  1. Is so vague and standardless that it violates the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause
  1. Deprives local jurisdictions of Congress’allocated funds without notice or opportunity to be heard, violating the procedural due process requirements of the Fifth Amendment and because the Counties have not been named “sanctuary jurisdictions” pursuant to the Trump Administration Order

Judge Orrick’s goes on to detail the substance of this federal court hearing:

  • Trump’s lawyers said at oral argument the Sanctuary Order is merely an exercise of the President’s “bully pulpit” to highlight a changed approach to immigration enforcement. Administration lawyers didn’t even respond to the constitutionality of the order itself, but instead argued that the Counties lack any standing in the court as the Executive Order didn’t change existing law
  • Under the Administration’s interpretation of the Order, as presented by Trump Administration’s lawyers in court, Section 9(a) applies only to three federal grants in the DOJ and DHS, and provisions to withhold federal funding under those three grants can already be enforce under existing law.
  • Trump’s own lawyers in court disavowed the Government’s right to affect most of the billions of dollars in federal funds that sanctuary cities receive every year
  • Yet other language the Executive Order tries to include all other federal grants, and all federal funding as subject to sanctions against municipalities that don’t comply with federal immigration enforcement efforts.
  • President Trump called his Order “a weapon” to use against these jurisdictions.
  • The Attorney General warned that jurisdictions that do not comply with Section 1373 would suffer “withholding grants, termination of grants, and disbarment or ineligibility for future grants,” and the “claw back” of any funds previously awarded
  • The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the Sanctuary Cities Executive Order cannot place new conditions on federal funds
  • The Tenth Amendment requires that federal funds be unambiguous, must bear some relationship to the funds purposes and that the financial incentive cannot be coercive.
  • Federal funding that bears no relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened because a city has chosen an immigration enforcement plan which is at odds with the Administration’s plans
  • Judge Orrack therefore granted the County’s request for an injunction to prevent the Administration from withholding federal funding until after full hearing on the matter determines whether the Order is constitutional, saying “… this injunction does nothing more than implement the effect of the Government’s flawed interpretation of the Order.”

Read Judge Orrick’sInjunction against Trump’s Sanctuary Cities Executive Order in full:  http://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000015b-a6d5-de92-a17b-aed55e780001 …

Trump’s outrageousresponse to the Sanctuary Cities injunction sets up a serious constitution crisis.  His Administration is at war with another co-equal branch of government and the checks on his executive powers that were built into our constitution. We can’t allow him to win this fight in the courts or in the court of public opinion.

Here is the Administration’s outrageous press release printed in full:

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate ReleaseApril 25, 2017

Statement on Sanctuary Cities Ruling

Today, the rule of law suffered another blow, as an unelected judge unilaterally rewrote immigration policy for our Nation. Federal law explicitly states that “a Federal, State or Local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.”  8 U.S.C. 1373(a).  That means, according to Congress, a city that prohibits its officials from providing information to federal immigration authorities — a sanctuary city — is violating the law.   Sanctuary cities, like San Francisco, block their jails from turning over criminal aliens to Federal authorities for deportation.  These cities are engaged in the dangerous and unlawful nullification of Federal law in an attempt to erase our borders.

Once again, a single district judge — this time in San Francisco — has ignored Federal immigration law to set a new immigration policy for the entire country.  This decision occurred in the same sanctuary city that released the 5-time deported illegal immigrant who gunned down innocent Kate Steinle in her father’s arms.  San Francisco, and cities like it, are putting the well-being of criminal aliens before the safety of our citizens, and those city officials who authored these policies have the blood of dead Americans on their hands.  This San Francisco judge’s erroneous ruling is a gift to the criminal gang and cartel element in our country, empowering the worst kind of human trafficking and sex trafficking, and putting thousands of innocent lives at risk.

This case is yet one more example of egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge.  Today’s ruling undermines faith in our legal system and raises serious questions about circuit shopping.  But we are confident we will ultimately prevail in the Supreme Court, just as we will prevail in our lawful efforts to impose immigration restrictions necessary to keep terrorists out of the United States.

In the meantime, we will pursue all legal remedies to the sanctuary city threat that imperils our citizens, and continue our efforts to ramp up enforcement to remove the criminal and gang element from our country.  Ultimately, this is a fight between sovereignty and open borders, between the rule of law and lawlessness, and between hardworking Americans and those who would undermine their safety and freedom.

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Kids in Cages – Refugee Crisis at Our Border

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

It is It was Father’s Day and I was still haunted by story I hear about earlier this week. Over 70,000 children a year are coming across the US border from places like Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico, many of whom are unaccompanied minors. The United States is forced to house these children in temporary detention facilities under very difficult conditions. The situation is desperate as federal agencies and facilities designed to house adults races to accommodate the special needs of young children.

On All In with Chris Hayes, José Diaz Balart reported about the humanitarian crisis at the US Mexican border. Unaccompanied minors are crossing the border in record numbers, sometimes as many as 300 a day. Some of these children are as young as 18 months old. But also, there are couples trying to cross the border with their children who are being met by members of Mexico’s drug cartel that take one of the parents hostages for ransom, allowing the other parent and children to cross into the States.

Balart also reported on the conditions that are creating these developments. One Guatemalan mother told him gang violence in her country is so bad that when their daughters reach puberty, gang members will come in and either rape them, kill them, or take them as their property. These parents feel they have no option but to send their children across the border to safety. When US officials try to interview young children to learn who their parents are it is not unusual for 4 and 5 years to not know their parents names or the name of the towns in which they lived. In some cases, trying to reunite children with their families is impossible.

While we flounder around once again in Iraq and other foreign lands with oil resources of interest, we are ignoring the deteriorating humanitarian situations in our own hemisphere. The immigration issues we face are usually couched in protectionist language when the root of the problem is really about promoting growth and stability in foreign countries much closer to home.

We need to direct more resources and attention on foreign aid and international diplomacy among our Latin American neighbors. The social and economic conditions in these countries have reach a crisis proportions. Our immigration problem is a massive refugee problem that our politics and the media isn’t addressing. The answers to real immigration reform fall well beyond the scope of our current political dialogue.

Immigration Myths Hide the Benefits Says US Chamber of Commerce

From the US Chamber of Commerce: This ultra-conservative organization finally comes clean with a DATA DRIVEN VIEWPOINT support their position on immigration and how it benefits the US economically.  http://www.scribd.com/doc/179652570/Immigration-Myths-and-Facts

 Immigration Myths and Facts

Despite the numerous studies and carefully detailed economic reports outlining the positive effects of immigration, there is a great deal of misinformation about the impact of immigration.  It is critical that policymakers and the public are educated about the facts behind these fallacies. [Says the US Chamber of Commerce]  

Below I present the major points of their arguments. Please go to their website to read a detailed explanation for each of these points. 

JOBS  MYTH: Every job filled by an immigrant is a job that could be filled by an unemployed American.

FACT: Immigrants typically do not compete for jobs with native-born workers and immigrants create jobs as entrepreneurs, consumers, and taxpayers
WAGES MYTH: Immigrants drive downthe wages of American workers.
FACT: Immigrants give a slight boost to the average wages of Americans by increasing their productivity and stimulating investment
ECONOMY MYTH: The sluggish U.S. economy doesn’t need more immigrant workers.
FACT: Immigrants will replenish the U.S. labor force as millions of Baby Boomers retire.
UNEMPOLOMENT MYTH: At a time oF high unemployment, the U.S. economy does not need temporary foreign workers.
FACT: Temporary workers from abroad fill specialized needs in specifc sectors of the U.S. economy.
HIGH-TECH WORKERS MYTH: There is no shortfall of native-born Americans for open positions in the natural sciences, engineering, and computer science and thus no need for foreign-born high-tech workers.
FACTS: Job openings are expanding at educational levels where demographic data show too few native-born students, so we can expect these shortfalls to persist in the future. Moreover, relative to other economic indicators, wages are increasing in STEM jobs requiring higher education.
COMMUNITY IMPACT MYTH: Immigrants hurt communities that are struggling economically.
FACT: Immigrants have economically revitalized many communities throughout the country.
TAXES MYTH: Undocumented immigrants do not pay taxes.
FACT: Undocumented immigrants pay billions of dollars in taxes each year.
WELFARE MYTH: Immigrants come to theUnited States for welfare benefts.
FACT: Undocumented immigrants arenot eligible for federal public beneftprograms, and even legal immigrants face stringent eligibility restrictions.
INTEGRATION MYTH: Today’s immigrants are not assimilating into U.S. society.
FACT: Today’s immigrants are buying homes, becoming U.S. citizens, and learning English.
CRIME MYTH: Immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.
FACT: Immigration does not cause crime rates to rise, and immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than native-born Americans.
BORDER SECURITY MYTH: Reforming the legal immigration system will not help secure the border.
FACT: Immigration reform is an integral part of any effective border security strategy.

Bogus Claim: Obama Uses IRS to Buy Votes

There appears that a phony new scandal is taking shape on some conservative corners of the internet.  It may or may not gain traction, but it is worth a peek.  David DeVine, on the Website entitled TheWestern Free Press, and others, are accusing President Obama of using the IRS to create “de facto amnesty” for illegal aliens. It has to do with an aspect of federal tax law that has been ignored for years.

IRS W-7 ITIN header

Here is the actual claim:

ITIN amnesty scam empowers Obama IRS to buy votes

“Outraged that illegal aliens claimed child-tax-credits, but no outrage that current tax law allows them to report income and pay taxes without threat of deportation?”

Apparently some on the right have finally discovered that many resident aliens actually do have IRS identification numbers that allow them to file and pay their federal income taxes and receive some tax benefits.

For years now rightwing conservatives have complained that undocumented aliens (by which they usually mean all non-citizens of color) don’t pay taxes and are a burden to taxpayers. This has never been entirely true, of course. Even setting income taxes and payroll deductions aside, all resident aliens pay sales taxes, property taxes (sometime indirectly by paying rent), gas taxes, cigarette taxes, tolls, fees , etc. But the biggest misconception has been that most resident aliens don’t pay income taxes. Many, perhaps most resident aliens do pay income taxes. Even my liberal friends have had a hard time believing this.

For more than forty-years the IRS has issued a nine-digit Individual Taxpayer Identification Number  ( IRS application form W-7)  to resident aliens who are not eligible to apply for Social Security. These identification numbers may be issued to resident aliens who earn income in the U.S. and either have a “Green Card” eligibility or meet the “Substantial Presentence” eligibility test.  In fact, the instructions on the W-7 states, “A foreign individual living in the United States who does not have permission to work from the USCIS, and is thus ineligible for a SSN, may still be required to file a U.S. tax return”, and therefore obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).  So regardless of how a foreign citizen came to be here, if they earn money while here they are required to file income taxes.  For example, a foreign citizen who came here in January and earned money and is still here in December must file income taxes and apply for the ITIN by attaching the application to their return.

Depending on their status and circumstance they may also be eligible to receive federal tax rebates and some other benefits under the tax law for themselves or their dependents. This includes the Child Tax Credit when a dependent child is a citizen or meets criteria in the IRS code. What resident aliens cannot collect is the Earned Income Tax Credit. It says so right on the ITIM application.

These IRS issued ITIN’s have be around at least since the 1960’s but some on the right what to use this rediscovered revelation to accuse President Obama of buying votes by making the IRS issues Child Tax Credits to “illegals.” This claim ignores the fact that all resident aliens are ineligible to vote. Some conservatives also want to pin on Obama their outrage that undocumented aliens are even allowed to report income without the threat of deportation.  They would prefer, I suppose, that undocumented aliens be exempt from paying income tax, or else forced to hide their income out of fear of instant deportation.

Immigration enforcement is not the job of the IRS. It is their job to collect taxes on all residents who earn income regardless of whether they are citizens. It will be interesting to see if this issue gains traction or finds its way into round 2 of the immigration reform debate on the horizion.