Posted on October 20, 2017 in Countdown

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

DREAMers Countdown: It’s been 45 days since President Trump moved to end DACA, and Congress has yet to save it. TWEET THIS

3 Strikes, Why Aren’t You Out?!

Like with the two Muslim bans before it, Hawaii made sure Donald Trump’s third bat-swing attempt at America’s welcoming spirit was a miss, when Judge Derrick Watson partially blocked it. Maryland Federal Judge Theodore Chuang then walked up to Trump and figuratively kicked the bat out of his hand by noting the obvious: that the Administration has not shown a national security necessity for this ban, and cited President Trump’s anti-Muslim tweets as supporting evidence to the actual intent of his travel bans. The question now is, will Trump give up on this idea already, or will he keep flailing around with that bat until he breaks something? Yeah, his policies have broken a few things already—and harmed a lot of people along the way.


This is Where Your Dangerous Anti-Free Speech Bills Land Us

Imagine if America were a place where one’s free expression could result in denial of government services? Horrifying, isn’t it? Get this: The city of Dickinson, Texas says if victims of Hurricane Harvey want access to rebuilding funds, they first have to sign a contract pledging they “[do] not boycott Israel.” Yes, we’re really here, folks. We’ll give you a moment to collect your jaw off the floor. We can’t come up with better words to describe this than the American Civil Liberties Union did, who said "Dickinson’s requirement is an egregious violation of the First Amendment, reminiscent of McCarthy-era loyalty oaths.” Between this, the Kansas lawsuit we told you about last time, and the ‘Israel Anti-Boycott Act’, we all better be gearing up for a tough fight for the First Amendment. And to all those members of Congress sponsoring similar legislation (the 50 sponsors of S.720 in the Senate, and the 266 sponsors of H.R.1697 in the House), take note of the logical conclusion of your policies. And for all those Democrats who have correctly been complaining about the need for more relief efforts in Puerto Rico, take note that the people of Texas also need you to stand up for them, even when it is your politics that are getting in the way of their relief. Yeah, we care about liberty and human suffering and are upset.


Deport First, Ask Questions Later?

Immigration arrests are up 40% under Trump, which gave a boost to the backlog of pending immigration cases before immigration judges. That’s some 600,000 cases! The caseload is so massive that some judges are scheduling cases into the year 2022. So how to deal with this massive backlog? Trump’s justice department has an idea: Impose quotas to immigration judges to make sure they’re deciding these cases a little faster. So instead of increased funding for more personnel to decrease caseloads, they're further taxing an immigration system that already has issues sometimes treating human beings as human beings. What does the National Association of Immigration Judges have to say about this proposal? “That is a huge, huge, huge encroachment on judicial independence. It’s trying to turn immigration judges into assembly-line workers.” Keep in mind that some of these can be life and death cases for the people involved. Can you imagine a “justice system” more concerned with meeting quotas than, you know, justice?


Torturous Coincidence

Remember the torture report? That was the result of a six-year investigation championed by Senator Dianne Feinstein into the Bush era’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” later banned by Obama. Feinstein wanted the report declassified, but a battle ensued between the CIA, Republicans and Democrats. As legal battles were underway, the CIA “mistakenly shredded” its copy of the report. Republican Senator Burr said the torture report was a congressional record (which is not FOIA-able) and must be returned to Congress. The ACLU challenged Burr’s claim. After the ACLU lost that case, Acting CIA Inspector General Christopher answered Burr’s demand and returned the report to Congress, where it is, in fact, no longer subject to FOIA. But we thought it was shredded, so how did they “return it”? Funny story, turns out the CIA was mistaken about having mistakenly shredded the report. So it was only thought to be shredded when it was at risk of exposure, but after the ACLU lost its case, it was found! “It’s embarrassing and I have apologized,” is what Sharpley had to say. “The point of distributing it to the departments was in the hope that they would read it - not look at it as some poison document - and learn from it,” said Feinstein. We’re with her on that one and disappointed that the report won’t see the light of day for years to come.


Oops! Lost Your Visa Application

Just about everybody knows somebody who got to the US on the Green Card Lottery, or the “US Diversity Immigrant Visa Program” as it’s technically called. But if someone applied between October 3rd and October 10th, their applications were lost due to a technical glitch, and they’re going to have to reapply. To add to the anxiety, there is a rule that people who apply twice will have their applications rejected. So how many people have been affected by this stress-inducing glitch? “The State Department is provide an estimate of how many people were affected and expected to reapply.” However many they are, we hope this gets straightened out. Between that, the Muslim Ban attempts, talk of a border wall, and the Trump administration’s new hurdles to the Green Card process, the plaque on the Statue of Liberty may have to read “give me your exhausted” instead of just tired.