Posted on September 29, 2017 in Countdown

Click here to subscribe to Countdown, AAI's weekly take on news from Washington, around the country, and abroad.


A moderate immoderate is still an immoderate

For those still waiting for John Kelly to reign in some of the chaos, don’t hold your breath. Sure, the White House Chief of Staff might seem like a moderate force, but he’s got some pretty immoderate views. Case in point, he had no problem with President Trump making the Muslim Ban permanent. The ban targets nationals of SyriaSomaliaIranChadLibyaYemen, and Iraq to varying levels—all Muslim-majority countries. To pretend it’s not a Muslim Ban, Trump has barred North Koreans, who can’t come to the US anyway under their own law, and specific government officials of Venezuela. Sunday’s Proclamation provides reasoning for the Ban in an attempt to convince the Supreme Court in an inevitable challenge that it was not based solely on Trump’s anti-Muslim campaign rhetoric. It also includes some exceptions found in the previous temporary bans, which didn’t prevent CBP agents from harassing and detaining those who clearly fell under said exceptions (and happen to be Arab or Muslim). A new and improved, lawyered-up proclamation does nothing to shield Trump’s real intentions: to codify his xenophobic desires to exclude minorities from an anachronistic ideal of America. See if you can find the theme of excluding minorities throughout today’s Countdown!


Moore than you bargained for

Strange times in Washington continue as Strange’s time in Washington comes to an end. The appointed Alabama senator—Jeff Sessions’ replacement—was soundly defeated in a special primary runoff by the brimstone boomer and decidedly bigoted Roy Moore. Strange was by all-means the establishment pick: he received strong backing from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a flurry of supportive tweets from President Trump, which he has since furtively and perhaps unlawfully deleted. Remember covfefe? According to new tweets from Trump, Moore “sounds like a really great guy.” What do we think? Well, for someone who called Islam a “false religion,” compared the Qur’an to Mein Kampf, spread unfounded fear about Sharia, and equated homosexuality with bestiality, let’s just say we have our reservations. Oh, we almost forgot: he was thrown off the bench twice while serving as Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice, once after violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment and again after refusing to recognize same-sex marriage. The list goes on. The list of politicians to express concerns over Moore’s victory, on the other hand, is woefully scant. Stay tuned for this December, when Moore faces Democratic nominee Doug Jones for the vacant Alabama seat.


Cold hearted

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities across the United States. The raids were announced on Thursday after what appears to be a four-day operation that impacted Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, San Jose, and Washington, DC. According to ICE, the raids targeted undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions and not active DACA recipients, but of the nearly 500 individuals arrested, only about 60 percent have criminal records. The most common offense? Drunk driving. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is leading the charge against sanctuary cities, declaring a multi-front war on what he calls dangerous policies. Sessions fails to appreciate, however, his complicity in dangerous policing. The harmful impact of his so-called war on individual families and especially children, who are now living in fear of deportation, cannot be stressed enough. And at a time when ICE agents are “doing whatever they want in the field, going after whoever they want,” that fear is legitimate, and so is the provision of sanctuary in cities across our country.


More like NIGHTMARE Act

Who loves acronyms? We do! And so do Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and James Lankford (R-OK), who just unveiled the Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education, and Defending our nation, or SUCCEED Act. The proposed legislation is being vaunted as a conservative variety of the DREAM Act, which, need we remind you, is in fact bipartisan. What would it take for DACA recipients to “succeed” under Tillis and Lankford’s new bill? For one, it would entail a more than 15-year pathway to citizenship. It would also prohibit Dreamers from petitioning for close relatives to obtain permanent residency and require they sign a waiver effectively eliminating their rights to due process. We can’t let minorities in AND respect their rights! Today’s theme won’t allow it. Remember how we expressed our fondness for acronyms? Well, we’ve got another name for this bill: the Nefarious Immigration Guidance for Harsh Treatment and Mild Abdication of Rights and Equality Act. Spell it out. Hint: it spells nightmare.


Rock ‘n’ roll ‘n’ rogue advisors

1980 was a big year for refugees. First came Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ hit single (yes, the song is that old), and second, President Jimmy Carter signed the Refugee Act, providing a permanent admissions system that guarantees resettlement and economic assistance to refugees entering the United States. We welcomed over 200,000 refugees in 1980 alone. 37 years later, Tom Petty is still on tour and Jimmy Carter is still saving the world, but our refugee admissions system lacks comparable gusto. It looks like President Trump will cap admissions at 45,000 over the next year—the lowest level in decades—lower than Ronald Reagan’s 67,000 in 1987, but not quite as low as policy adviser Stephen Miller’s suggested cap of 15,000. Amidst the worst refugee crisis in modern history, Trump’s cap is indefensible, but Miller’s is straight-up outrageous, though it certainly aligns with this week’s theme. In keeping with our riff on classic rock stars of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, perhaps Miller should make like his namesake and “Fly Like an Eagle” out of the White House.