fresh voices from the front lines of change








Suzette Brooks Masters

To Win On Immigration, We Have To Lead With Love

A massive wave of immigration has transformed our country over the last fifty years. We’re up to 14 percent foreign-born, which is near a historic high. And immigration now touches every corner of this country, not just large gateway cities, in places that haven't experienced demographic change ever or in a long while. This is a big, and an emotional, adjustment for many people. And as a longtime advocate for immigrant justice, I have realized that while many factors contributed to Trump’s election, one big thing was cultural fear: the fear of losing one’s identity and sense of place in a much more diverse America completely transformed by immigration. A lot of us weren’t prepared to engage with the forces that fueled Trump’s rise. But we need to be ready to answer them. Because white nationalists, and the nativist politicians who use fear to mobilize voters and shape public opinion, have been fighting this battle for years. They’re more than willing to recruit followers among folks who feel unheard and scared. And if we don’t reach out to these people, they will. It’s going to take every one of us to meet this challenge, and we can only do it together. We are literally fighting for the survival of pluralism and democracy in our nation.

Suzette Brooks Masters' latest research, Change Is Hard, is supported by the J.M. Kaplan Fund and Welcoming America.

House Rebukes Trump On War Powers

These Republicans voted yes on the War Powers resolution
. CNN:
"The House of Representatives on Thursday approved the Iran War Powers resolution -- an effort to restrain President Donald Trump's ability to use military action against Iran without congressional approval -- with the support of three Republicans. Republicans Reps. Matt Gaetz and Francis Rooney of Florida as well as Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky all crossed party lines to vote in favor of the resolution. On the Democratic side, Reps. Ben McAdams of Utah, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Stephanie Murphy of Florida, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, and Max Rose and Anthony Brindisi of New York all opposed it. The measure, which passed by a nearly party line vote of 224-194 on Thursday evening, will next go to the Senate. The structure of the House resolution is unique, however, calling into question whether it is actually legally binding. It was introduced as a concurrent resolution, a type of resolution often used for 'sense of Congress' bills. They don't go to the President for a signature, and they aren't legally binding. But House Democrats are arguing that concurrent resolutions under the War Powers Act are a special case, and they are legally binding. Republicans, however, say the resolution is not binding. Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, a former CIA analyst and freshman Democrat, is the sponsor of the resolution, which calls on the President 'to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran' unless Congress declares war or enacts 'specific statutory authorization' for the use of armed

Federal Court Upholds Bar on Public Charge Rule

Federal appeals court upholds bar on Trump's public charge rule. NBC: "A federal appeals court in New York blocked the Trump administration Wednesday from enforcing a policy that would make it far easier for the government to deny legal status to immigrants whose families use or are deemed likely to use publicly funded programs. In a short order issued Wednesday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan denied the Trump administration's attempt to lift a nationwide injunction barring the "public charge" rule from being implemented. The order comes after other appeals courts stayed separate nationwide injunctions against the rule, which has been challenged in several states and by various nonprofits. Meanwhile, an injunction also remains in effect in Illinois.The Department of Homeland Security previously defined "public charge" as someone who depended on cash assistance or government-funded long-term institutional care. The new rule expands the definition to include additional benefits such as food stamps, non-emergency Medicaid, certain prescription drug subsidies and housing vouchers. And the rule would now define public charge as any immigrant household that uses — or is deemed likely to use at some point — one public benefit for 12 months during a 36-month period. Receipt of two public benefits in one month counts as two months, the rule noted. Once labeled a 'public charge,' immigrants could be denied green cards, visas and other forms of legal immigration status."

Hunger Strike Against ICE Detention

After 68 days, hunger strikers in ICE custody are on the brink of death. Truthout: "With hunger strikes sweeping immigration jails across the country, two Indian asylum seekers protesting their incarceration at a remote Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) jail in Louisiana are reportedly on the brink of death after refusing to eat or drink for 68 days, according to a volunteer who regularly visits the two men. The hunger strikers have a clear demand: to be released so they can pursue their asylum cases outside of jail. Medical staff at the LaSalle ICE Processing Center are force-hydrating both men, a painful and disturbing process that involves restraining the striker and forcing fluid through nasal passages with tubes, according to Michelle Graffeo, a volunteer with Freedom for Immigrants. Mr. Singh, whose name has been changed to protect his identify, described the forced-hydration process as terrifying and confusing because jail staff do not speak his native language, and videotaped the procedure. Both men fear they will face violence if they are deported to India and asked volunteers to keep their names out of the press. One is 37 years old and the other is 22, and both filed asylum claims after crossing at a legal port of entry at the U.S.-Mexico border before being shuffled through the nation’s vast immigration detention system. Graffeo said the two men can no longer walk and are in wheelchairs. They could suffer organ damage or even death within a week, as many hunger strikers do not make it past 75 days."

Jobs Slow In December

U.S. job growth slows in December; unemployment rate steady at 3.5%. Reuters: "U.S. job growth slowed more than expected in December, but the pace of hiring remains more than enough to keep the longest economic expansion in history on track despite a deepening downturn in a manufacturing sector stung by trade disputes. The Labor Department’s closely watched monthly employment report on Friday also showed the jobless rate holding near a 50-year low of 3.5%. A broader measure of unemployment dropped to a record low 6.7% last month, though wage gains ebbed. The report will probably not change the Federal Reserve’s assessment that both the economy and monetary policy are in a 'good place.' Nonfarm payrolls increased by 145,000 jobs last month, with manufacturing shedding jobs after being boosted in November by the return to work of about 46,000 production workers at General Motors (GM.N) after a strike, the government’s survey of establishments showed. Milder-than-normal temperatures in December boosted hiring at construction sites."

Trump EPA Approves Deadly Pesticides

Trump EPA approved 100-plus products with pesticides banned elsewhere or slated for U.S. phaseout. Common Dreams: "The Environmental Protection Agency approved more than 100 pesticide products in 2017 and 2018 that contained ingredients widely considered to be the most dangerous still in use, including some that have been banned in multiple countries or targeted for phaseout in the United States, according to a new analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity. The analysis, Toxic Hangover: How the EPA Is Approving New Products With Dangerous Pesticides It Committed to Phasing Out, found that the EPA is actively working against its own pledge to incentivize the replacement of older, more dangerous pesticides. Included in the EPA approvals are 17 new products containing the endocrine disruptor atrazine, which is banned across much of Europe, four products containing chlorpyrifos or methyl bromide, and 69 products containing a 'known' or 'likely' carcinogen. 'The EPA is recklessly promoting use of some of the world’s most dangerous pesticides,' said Nathan Donley, the Center scientist who conducted the analysis. 'It’s disgusting that rather than do the right thing and phase out the worst of the worst pesticides, the EPA is quietly encouraging their ongoing use.' For this analysis the Center analyzed records of pesticide products approved in 2017 and 2018. The records, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, show that 94% of new pesticide product applications were given the EPA’s stamp of approval. The EPA did not deny a single pesticide product application because the product was too dangerous. Its only denials were procedural in nature."

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