Posted on January 19, 2018 in Countdown

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DREAMers Countdown: It’s been 136 days since President Trump moved to end DACA, and Congress has yet to save it. TWEET THIS

DACA: A Game of Chicken with People’s Lives

How important is DACA? Saving DREAMers from deportation is so important that the Democratic leadership won’t allow a budget to pass without it, and without a budget, the whole federal government shuts down. But Trump, who has regularly stated his support for DREAMers and the need to find a solution with “love” to their plight, appears so opposed now to passing DACA that he won’t pass a budget with it. So here we are again, with another game of chicken: who will cave? And if no one does, who will be blamed for government shutdown? Some Republicans think they can side-step the issue by passing a short-term emergency budget without Democratic support, but oddly enough, it’s not just Democrats who might oppose such a measure, but even some hard-line Republicans who are upset with the budget for wholly other reasons. Meanwhile, Trump and his chief of staff can’t figure out where the president stands on the border wall with Mexico, as John Kelly suggested to Democrats that Trump has newfound flexibility on the issue, only to be contradicted by Trump who tweeted that his views have never changed or evolved on his commitment to the border wall. Meanwhile (yes, another meanwhile), Bannon has struck a deal with Mueller to cooperate with the Russia investigation and talk directly with the prosecutor instead of testifying before a grand jury. What will Bannon tell Mueller? We’re totally good with investigation suspense, but DREAMers deserve to be taken off the hook already. We’ve seen enough heartbreaks at airports.

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Trump & Palestine: More Heartbreak

We told you in our last Countdown about Trump’s threats to UNRWA, the UN agency providing assistance to Palestinian refugees. Well, these threats have now materialized, as the US holds back $65 million from the organization, which is more than half of the US contribution. Belgium responded to Trump’s cuts by stepping up and pledging $23 million to UNRWA. Good on Belgium, but it does not bring us any pride to see other nations having to step in with much-needed humanitarian assistance because U.S. policy is being so small-minded and short-sighted. Understandably, Palestinian frustration with Trump and Netanyahu has reached a new high, with Palestinian President Abbas delivering a 2+hour rambling speech reeking of despair, permanently rejecting unilateral US mediation of peace talks and announcing a call for the PLO to suspend Palestinian recognition of Israel until Israel reciprocates and recognizes Palestine. While the symbolism may be significant, this move won’t drastically change policy on the ground: Abbas affirmed that security cooperation and back channel talks between the Palestinian leadership and Israel are still in place; that a negotiated 2-state solution based on the 1967 borders remains the goal; and that the Palestinians are strictly committed to non-violent struggle.

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ALL CAPS DISHONESTY IS THE BEST

Unless your name is Kirstjen Nielsen, odds are you haven’t forgotten that $%#&hole comment Trump said last week in the oval office. His statements, which some news outlets felt compelled to publish in their uncensored form, prompted swift rebuke from either side of the political aisle. Many wondered whether such disparaging remarks revealed the more pernicious, if not blatantly racist, intentions of the President’s proposed immigration policies. Shocking, we know… but enough about last week: On Tuesday, the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice published a joint report on terrorism and immigration. The 11-page report is a bit threadbare, and given that it was some four months overdue, it seems that researchers scrapped together a slipshod defense of Trump’s immigration policies after they came under fire in recent days. But the crowd that’s into xenophobic findings might not be the type that likes to read full reports, so Trump’s DOJ tweeted the main takeaway IN ALL CAPS, telling them that FOREIGN BORN people (you know, from $%#&hole countries) were responsible for more “international terrorism”. If you’re wondering why domestic terrorism isn’t mentioned, you’re on the right track. The report is rife with shoddy research and misleading data, painting a dishonest portrayal of individuals with ties to Arab and/or Muslim-majority countries. Further, the report and the discussion of it from the podium at the White House briefing room was a not-so-subtle attempt at sowing fear and distrust to continue advancing bigoted policies.  It is wrong, and must be challenged.

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We’ll Take It Lying Down, Thank You

The Senate voted to renew Sec. 702 of FISA. This provision allows the federal government to collect communications of foreign nationals overseas without a warrant, but if that communication involves a US citizen on the other end, it allows that too. That means searches of Americans’ data without probable cause and a warrant. Seriously. Earlier this week, Claire McCaskill was the 60thvote to end debate on the Senate bill. Rand Paul voted the right way, and Tim Kaine voted the wrong way, sending the bill for Trump’s signature. Last week, the House passed the measure, helped along by leaders of both parties. That’s right: Nancy Pelosi and 54 other Democrats opposed a careful reform bill and instead allowed the Trump Administration the warrantless ability to peer into communications between US citizens and foreign nationals abroad, disproportionately surveilling Americans who have friends and family in other countries… the same groups of people Trump has been targeting through policies such as the Muslim Ban, the Refugee Ban, DACA repeal, TPS terminations, “The Wall”, etc.  #Resistance, indeed.

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No Thank You, Don’t Come Again

Amer Othman Adi has no criminal record and has been a productive community member in the US since the 1970s. ICE has arrested him, and sent him to jail to await deportation. Jorge Garcia was brought to America at 10 years old. Thirty years, a wife, and two children later and the Trump Administration is deporting him, too. In a move both tragic and insultingly stereotyping, ICE raided 7-Eleven stores nationwide in hopes of finding undocumented immigrants to deport. That was all in 2018. And it will only get worse. In response to California’s sanctuary status –and in support of their state’s right to have such status – California has declined to comply with ICE orders. In response, ICE has stated that it has “no choice but to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests.” Instead of worrying about reducing poverty or violent crime, Trump is using the families of undocumented individuals as political pawns in slighting state and local officials and as bargaining chips in the DACA debate in Washington. We’re America and we should better than this.