Tough Stuff at the Border for Asylum Seekers and Immigrants

New Orleans     The President is still running and running hard against immigrants and immigration, even though the issue has now fallen out of the top ten concerns for the American public. It seems a classic case of fighting the last war, rather than the current war, when Americans are focused on the cratered economy and pandemic which still seems spiraling out of control.

Shockingly, while our attention is focused on other pressing concerns, the tragedy of asylum seekers and the travesty of our current public policies are creating a human rights disaster at the border.   Sixty per cent of the American people in recent polls in fact do believe that the border should be hardened during the pandemic, which has given carte blanche to hard-fisted and draconian policies. Some 70,000 have been turned away at our southern border in recent months, and asylum seekers are being denied legal requirements to receive a hearing and be treated on a case by case basis.

I listened to an interview with a Guatemalan woman and her child who turned themselves into Border Patrol and were literally dropped in the middle of the night on the bridge over the Rio Grande without explanation or a hearing after being told they could not enter; the border was closed.  Mexican authorities finally took them off the bridge and dumped the pair in an overcrowded shelter.  US policies have also precipitated a crisis in Mexico where there is no place, plan, or resources to house swelling numbers of people there, and where concerns over spiking virus and economic problems are also being exacerbated by this desperate migrant stream.  This story was commonplace, not exceptional.

Immigration lawyers along the border are outraged at the government’s willful disregard of asylum laws.  Lawsuits are falling like rain over these practices, but meanwhile they continue unabated, and now largely outside of public scrutiny.

There has to be a better way.   Reading about the coming wave of climate forced migration in Central America and southern Mexico in a special edition of the New York Times Magazine based on extensive data and scientific modeling, it is clear that we haven’t seen anything yet like the crisis that will be coming.  Millions will be on the move over the next several decades with nowhere to go but north.  Harder borders and deficient or antagonistic policies will force terrible deprivation in Latin American countries hit by rising temperatures and reduced precipitation leading to crop loss and starvation.

Migration and asylum are different things, and current polices are treating them as one, which is a mistake. Right now, the administration is all blunt talk and hard fists, but this is not a sustainable policy.  We need to fix our border, and if we want to meet the challenge of migration, we need to help our neighboring countries with policies and resources that allow people to live and work in their home countries, rather than being forced to hit the road to survive.  We can’t put our heads in the sand and have that work, especially when the desert sands are expanding all around us.

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Please enjoy Revolution by Heartless Bastards.

Thanks to WAMF.

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Finally, The End for Kris Kobach

New Orleans     What a great birthday present – happy birthday to me!  Kris Kobach was defeated in the Republican primary in Kansas in his latest bid for another elected job, this time vying for an open seat in the U.S. Senate.  That wasn’t the only great news from the primary elections, but it makes my day even more special.  The fact that Missouri voters joined the Medicaid expansion list of states under the Affordable Care Act is like an extra dab of icing on the cake.  Oklahoma earlier this year, and now Missouri, hey, ACA haters, are you hearing the voters?  Better listen up!

I don’t want to get distracted though from the Kobach story, because if we can start believing in Kansas voters, then there’s hope for America.  Kobach didn’t just lose in the primary, he was beat down like a mangy dog.  Notice I didn’t say redheaded stepchild, having been a redhead forever, even if it doesn’t look that way on this birthday.  The winner, some more moderate, mainstream conservative polled 158,208 with 40.3% of the vote and Kobach tallied a measly 26.3% of the vote, barely breaking 100,000 by only 3197 votes.  I worried for a minute that there might be a breath of political life for Kobach, if there were a runoff since no candidate had more than 50% of the vote, but thanks to Ballotpedia, I can assure right thinking people everywhere that Mr. Hater-Baiter Kobach is toast, since they clearly state that by Kansas statues:

The winner of a primary election is the candidate who receives the greatest number of votes cast for that office, even if he or she does not win an outright majority of votes.

Hip, hip, hooray!

This makes Kobach a two-time loser.  There’s a Democrat now sitting in the governor’s chair in Kansas, thanks to the fact that Kobach was the Republican nominee for governor in that election.  Yes, if we wanted to live dangerously, we might have hoped that Kobach was the Republican nominee for Senate, giving a Democrat the best chance to take the seat in that state since 1932, but I’m sorry, I’m grabbing this bird in the hand.  To do otherwise would be the equivalent of helping the next Joe McCarthy get elected, just substitute Kansas for Wisconsin.

Kobach, to remind everyone, has been the primary architect of one anti-immigrant law and referendum after another.  Remember him please as the enabler of Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio.  His second infamous claim has been as a leader in voter suppression.  In Kansas he became a laughing stock trying to prove voter fraud, where there was none.  Trump made him a principle in his committee to try to establish voter fraud in the 2016 election, and with Kobach in the lead and fake data, fake purges, and fake press releases, the whole committee crashed and burned.   I could go on and on about his outrages and destruction of any pretense of democracy, but now, why bother?

Kobach first came to my attention when he ran for Kansas Secretary of State on a platform more than a decade ago to keep ACORN from stealing the election, even though ACORN had no staff, office, or operations in Kansas at the time.  He is just a two-bit demagogue, who has been in my sights since then, but you know the old saying, “what goes around, comes around.”

His career in political office is done.  How sweet it is!

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