Monthly Archives: January 2017

Inauguration Day Lawsuit Filed by Lawyers and Journalists Against Police for Excessive Force and Unlawful Arrest

A Colorado lawyer is name plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit that claims police used excessive force against a group of legal observers, lawyers, journalists, medics and peaceful protesters during the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

The suit (PDF), filed on Inauguration Day, claims police surrounded the group “without warning and without any dispersal order.” Then the police “proceeded to indiscriminately and repeatedly deploy chemical irritants, attack the individuals with batons, and throw flash-bang grenades at the kettled individuals,” the suit says.

“None of the plaintiffs who are members of this class destroyed or attempted to destroy property, assaulted or attempted to assault any individuals, rioted, or in any way would have appeared to the police to have been breaking the law” when they were arrested, the suit says. “Further, many of the members of the class were peacefully protesting.”

Members of the group were not involved in criminal conduct, and there was no probable cause for their arrests, the suit says. Politico, the National Law Journal (sub. req.) and the Washington Post are among the publications that covered the suit.

Name plaintiff in the suit is Colorado criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Christopher Carraway, a National Lawyers Guild volunteer who was providing legal support for protesters.

The suit does not name other plaintiffs who were arrested by police. But at least six journalists covering the protests have been charged with felony rioting, the New York Times reports. According to the Guardian, two of the journalists arrested were standing around 12th and L streets at the time. That is the location where Carraway says police rounded up and wrongly arrested a group of people, including himself.

BREAKING NEWS: President Donald Trump replaces Acting Attorney General Sally Yates with Dana Boente.

Acting Attorney General Yates had instructed lawyers in the Justice Department not to defend legal objections to Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration. Yates was a holdover from the Obama administration. Boente is the, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. She will hold the post until the confirmation of an attorney general, which is pending. Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions is the nominee.

BREAKING – Acting Justice Department Chief Sally Yates won’t Defend Trump Immigration Order in Court Actions

The acting chief of the Justice Department has instructed lawyers there not to defend President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting immigration in the name of national security.

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who was the No. 2 official at the department before Trump’s swearing-in and has been running the department since that time, sent a memo saying she doubts the wisdom and the legality of the directive.

“My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts. In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right,” Yates wrote in a memo released by the department. “At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilitie,s nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful.”

The memo clearly puts Yates at risk of being fired by Trump, who has that authority. However, that could disrupt other department operations, including surveillance aimed at suspected terrorists.

Yates’ order leaves the government with no authorized courtroom representation in several lawsuits and dozens of other court actions challenging Trump’s order and the way it was carried out by immigration authorities.

Banning Refugees Is Cowardice, Not Vigilance

Donald Trump’s ban on people of certain nationalities entering the United States – now buffeted about by court orders, clarifications, and defiance – is a systematic rejection of the principle of Freedom of Movement with no impetus other than unacceptable, widespread cowardice.

The September 11 terrorist attacks cannot excuse such a grievous violation of rights. Terrorism is domestically a statistically trivial threat. The countries banned by Trump had little relation to 9/11, and the people denied entry to the United States are just as harmless (if not more so) than the average American. Neither reasons nor sudden trauma justify Trump’s actions – only cowardice.

In opposition to courageous principles like Freedom of Movement, discretion is courage’s institutional nemesis. Fear-induced discretion splits principles like scientists split atoms, producing explosively dangerous results.

Trump’s restrictions on movement suffer more fully from another sin – a lack of courage.

Except to the extent courts stop him, Trump has undermined Freedom of Movement through an order to keep out people from Middle Eastern countries designated as countries of concern by the Obama administration.

Refugees already thoroughly vetted as safe, including business owners and participants in the Iraq war who have lived for years in the United States – all denied entry, all forced to beg for the government to wisely exercise its discretion in the face of an arbitrary burden.

Trump’s immigration policies are unwise and unjust. More tellingly, Trump’s restrictions on movement suffer more fully from another sin – a lack of courage.

Individual or Systemic Courage

At an individual level, it’s true that courage tends to be an overrated virtue. The image of “courageous” people often looks like warriors courting danger guns-blazing because they lacked the patience and ingenuity to find better solutions. Thus, courage is for the warrior fighting to the death.

Among non-violent “courageous” acts, contrarians who “stand up for what they believe in” often get courage points for being edgy or brutalist, as if people deserve praise for offering unconvincing evidence against social pressure. Generally, courage tends to be praised relative to the inactions of other people, forgetting that people often avoid doing certain things because they should not be done.

Moreover, fear is often unreasonable in ways immune to argument, making courage a weak appeal. For instance, traveling by planes is much safer than traveling by cars, but planes paralyze people in ways that statistics cannot cure because the fear of flying is a feeling, not a fact.

Similarly, terrorism is a statistically trivial cause of death in the United States, even including 9/11 and especially excluding that outlier, but terrorism causes widespread fears orders of magnitudes more crippling than the actual violence. To give a personal example, I have a totally unreasonable aversion to walking over storm drains and similar parts of sidewalks that leads me to walk around them.

Condemning fear rarely assuages it, and demanding courage rarely emboldens, because personality, ingrained perceptions and idiosyncrasies matter more than reasons for explaining fear and courage.

The Courage to be Free

Nevertheless, good institutions require courage.

America was formed by immigrants who courageously journeyed thousands of miles to leave European persecution and seek wealth and freedom.

For example, Freedom of Speech is a courageous principle. Freedom of Speech allows people to profess the wise and unwise, just and unjust, beautiful and vulgar. The dangers of the government deciding which speech falls into which categories justifies overriding particularized fears because of the courageous belief that free people can generally promote a better, more beautiful world through discourse. The courage required to permit others to speak, not knowing what they may say, far exceeds the courage of merely saying something unpopular.

Historically, fear commonly led to censorship. The Athenians sinned against philosophy by executing Socrates for corrupting the young, a fear of the influence of discourse. Similarly, the Pope compiled an Index of banned books and sought to censor them, fearful of the influential power of written words. Fear governed the world’s old order.

After weighing the liberating potential and corrupting dangers of pamphlets, America rejected the old order and institutionalized courage as common sense. Freedom of speech is the courage of a brave new world.

(To digress briefly into unimportant news stories, you should not punch Nazis merely for expressing their views. Only cowards without such faith in discourse and alternative peaceful methods would do so – and the cowardly types who have forgotten Ruby Ridge.)

Similarly, the Bill of Rights institutionalizes one courageous principle after another. The Bill of Rights trusts people with guns, protects potential criminals through warrants and other procedures, and generally imposes substantial burdens on the government before it can override individual freedoms, all because of the courageous general faith in free people.

The Freedom of Movement

Along with the above principles, the United States has a long history of embracing the courageous principle of Freedom of Movement.

America was formed by immigrants who courageously journeyed thousands of miles to leave European persecution and seek wealth and freedom. Without passports or other border restrictions, America promoted friendship and growth across state boundaries by allowing Freedom of Movement. Though the Constitution does not explicitly include such a right, the Supreme Court has correctly recognized that people have the right to travel freely between states.

Freedom of Movement between states is such a strong principle that nobody even considers imposing border restrictions. People from St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit, and other American cities that rank among the world’s most dangerous can freely traverse anywhere else in America without legal barriers, even as national borders prevent the impoverished immigrants of safer foreign cities from doing the same.  

Internationally, America also used to embrace such a broad principle. From the late 1700s until the late 1800s, though citizenship was unconscionably selective, the federal government allowed all foreigners to enter the United States – and, with the understanding that the naturalization clause only gave Congress control over citizenship, had no choice but to do so. To celebrate a century of such Freedom of Movement, France gifted America the statue of liberty with a famous poem dedicated to such American courage.

Unfortunately, around the same time, the federal government’s fear of the Chinese led it to pass the Chinese Exclusion Act, and the Supreme Court mistakenly upheld it. Thus, Freedom of Movement split from a courageous principle to a discretionary privilege, literally allowing fear to determine the borders of freedom.

Outside the context of the Chinese, such discretion remained largely unexercised for decades. Unencumbered by national borders, by World War I, two million Jews successfully fled Russia’s pogroms to freedom and safety in America.

Fear undermined this principle and led to the death of millions during the Holocaust in World War II.

However, by the 1920s, the dangers of discretionary power took hold, and the United States severely reduced legal immigration with its national origin quota systems. By World War II, the United States and the whole world had rejected immigrants.

The greatest victims of Freedom of Movement’s demise were the Jews that the world rejected at the Evian Conference and thereafter. Americans widely opposed Jewish refugees out of fear that some of them may secretly be communists or Nazis.

Unlike the millions saved by a courageous embrace of Freedom of Movement through World War I, fear undermined this principle and led to the death of millions during the Holocaust in World War II.

Refugees and Skittles

Without the courageous principle of Freedom of Movement, people’s fears determine and limit how many refugees can escape despotism and warfare. Just as fear trapped Jewish refugees during World War II, such fear traps Syrian refugees now.

Emphasizing the underlying fear, a thought experiment that opponents of Syrian refugees commonly ask goes something like: imagine you have a bowl of 1,000 skittles, only ten of which are poisonous. Would you eat the skittles? If not, then you understand why Syrian refugees must be so carefully restricted. Most alleged refugees might not be dangerous, but the government cannot know which ones are harmless and must prevent them all from entering to stop poison from seeping over our borders.

In reply to this thought experiment, most defenders of refugees argue over the numbers. Statistically, as mentioned above, refugees are vetted carefully and virtually all harmless, and almost none have been murderers or terrorists. Moreover, basically all studies on immigrants (legal, illegal, refugees, etc.) show that immigrants are less likely to commit violent crimes than typical Americans. So, if you increase the bowl size to like 3,200,000 skittles with 20 poisonous, then yeah, the chance is justified.

In contrast to this response, I do not think the exact proportion matters much because of the agreement that almost all the refugees should ideally be allowed to enter. The skittles thought experiment is the coward’s game for people lacking the courage to accept Freedom of Movement as a principle.

Courageous principles do not create perfect worlds. They create structures in which people have the freedom to shape the world, for better or worse.

Courageous principles sometimes allow bad outcomes. Freedom of speech allows for some noxious ideas to spread. Gun rights allow for some bad people to more easily engage in violence. Requirements for warrants allow for some criminals to hide their crimes. And freedom of movement allows for some bad people to travel where they can do harm.

Such courageous principles do not create perfect worlds. They create structures in which people have the freedom to shape the world, for better or worse – with better usually winning. Depriving the vast majority of people’s freedom to prevent a small minority from spreading evil impoverishes and threatens everybody.

Courageous Americans who embrace the existing dangers of speech, guns, and warrants should also similarly embrace the dangers of movement. Fear-induced discretionary restrictions on freedom of movement mean 99 ash-ridden Syrian children suffering from poverty, warfare, and death for the chance of maybe keeping out one bad person.

In sum, to paraphrase Shakespeare, cowards kill many times before their deaths; the valiant’s tastes let others live.

Thus, cowards ask how many poisonous skittles might sneak in with a broad rainbow and fear the tiny shadows that enter with the radiant light. In contrast, the valiant ask how many Anne Franks will die if we fear these tiny shadows and instead courageously opens the golden door for the rainbow, realizing today’s Anne Franks are in Syria.

Sean J. Rosenthal


Sean J. Rosenthal

Sean J. Rosenthal is an attorney in New York.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Three More Federal Judges plus a Federal Magistrate Stop Trump’s Immigration Executive Order 

Three more federal district court judges, along with a federal district court magistrate, have issued rulings barring authorities from deporting people detained at US airports following President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting entry to travelers from seven countries with Muslim-majorities.

Judges in Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington state followed Judge Ann Donnelly from New York’s Eastern district in issuing their rulings on Saturday night and Sunday morning. The rulings limit the so-called ‘Muslim ban’ to varying degrees.

Trump has rejected suggestions that the executive order, called “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States”, is a Muslim ban.

The order indefinitely suspended the intake of refugees from Syria and blocked people from six other Muslim-majority countries – Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen – from entering the US for 90 days.

It also stops the admission of all refugees for at least 120 days while the government puts a new vetting system in place.
Judge Donnelly temporarily blocked authorities nationwide from deporting immigrants when she ruled on a lawsuit taken by two men from Iraq, Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, who were being held at JFK Airport.

Next, Judge Leonie Brinkema, in the Eastern District of Virginia, issued a temporary restraining order giving all permanent legal residents detained at Dulles Airport access to lawyers, and blocking the petitioners from being removed.

In the very early hours of Sunday morning two judges in Boston, Judge Allison Burroughs and Magistrate Judge Judith Dein, also imposed a seven-day restraining order against Trump’s executive order.

The legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts, Matthew Segal, described Burroughs’ order as “a huge victory for justice.”
“We told President Trump we would see him in court if he ordered this unconstitutional ban on Muslims. He tried, and federal courts in Boston and throughout the nation stopped it in its tracks,” Segal said in a statement.

District Judge Thomas Zilly, in the Western District of Washington, issued another order stopping any deportations on Sunday morning.
These overnight rulings immediately blocked enforcement of the ban to various degrees. The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement on Sunday saying it would comply with court rulings while at the same time implementing Trump’s order “to ensure that those entering the United States do not pose a threat to our country or the American people.

“Prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the U.S. government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety,” the statement read.

“No foreign national in a foreign land, without ties to the United States, has any unfettered right to demand entry into the United States or to demand immigration benefits in the United States.”

Later Sunday, senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway claimed that Judge Donnelly’s decision “doesn’t really affect the executive order.”

“The judge in Brooklyn, the Obama appointee judge in Brooklyn’s stay of order really doesn’t affect the executive order at all, because the executive order is meant to be prospective… It’s preventing not detaining,” she told Fox News.

Immigration crackdown and Trump wants to Federally Deputize Local Police to Help Enforce It

To build his highly touted deportation force, President Donald Trump is reviving a long-standing program that deputizes local officers to enforce federal immigration law.

The program received scant attention during a week in which Trump announced plans to build a border wall, hire thousands more federal agents and impose restrictions on refugees from Middle Eastern countries.

But the program could end up having a significant impact on immigration enforcement around the country, despite falling out of favor in recent years amid complaints that it promotes racial profiling.

More than 60 police and sheriff’s agencies had the special authority as of 2009, applying for it as the nation’s immigration debate was heating up. Since then, the number has been halved and the effort scaled back as federal agents ramped up other enforcement programs and amid complaints officers weren’t focusing on the goal of catching violent offenders and instead arrested immigrants for minor violations, like driving with broken tail lights.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio used the program most aggressively in metro Phoenix, and he became arguably the nation’s best-known immigration enforcer at the local level in large part because of the special authority. In a strange twist, he was thrown out of office in the same election that vaulted Trump to the presidency, mostly because of mounting frustration over legal issues and costs stemming from the patrols.

In his executive order this week, Trump said he wants to empower local law enforcement to act as immigration officers and help with the “investigation, apprehension, or detention” of immigrants in the country illegally.

The move comes at a time when the country is sharply divided over the treatment of immigrants. Cities such as Chicago and San Francisco have opposed police involvement in immigration while some counties in Massachusetts and Texas are now seeking to jump in.

Proponents say police departments can help bolster immigration enforcement and prevent criminals from being released back into their neighborhoods, while critics argue that deputizing local officers will lead to racial profiling and erode community trust in police.

Cecillia Wang, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, said police bosses who want to get into immigration enforcement should consider what happened when 100 of Arpaio’s deputies were given the federal arrest power.

The longtime sheriff used the authority to carry out traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. The patrols were later discredited in a lawsuit in which a federal judge concluded Arpaio’s officers had racially profiled Latinos. The lawsuit so far cost county taxpayers $50 million.

“There are people like Joe Arpaio who have a certain political agenda who want to jump on the Trump bandwagon,” Wang said, adding later that the Arizona sheriff was “most vocal and shameless offender” in the program.

When asked to comment on Trump’s effort to revitalize the program, a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman said the executive orders would speak for themselves.

Traditionally, police stayed out of immigration enforcement and left those duties to federal authorities. But a 1996 federal law opened up the possibility for local agencies to participate in immigration enforcement on the streets and do citizenship checks of people in local jails.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement trained and certified roughly 1,600 officers to carry out these checks from 2006 to 2015.

The Obama administration phased out all the arrest power agreements in 2013, but still let agencies check whether people jailed in their jurisdiction were citizens. If they find that an inmate is in the country illegally, they typically notify federal authorities or hand them over to immigration officers. Today, more than 30 local agencies participate in the jail program.

Alonzo Pena, a retired deputy director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement who once oversaw such agreements with police agencies, said some officers were using the authority in ways that didn’t match the agency’s enforcement priorities.

He said federal officials need to closely monitor participants to ensure their actions don’t veer away from the goal of catching violent offenders and confronting national security threats. “It’s hard to regulate to make sure it’s followed,” Pena said.

In California, three counties nixed the program after state legislation and a federal court ruling in nearby Oregon limited police collaboration with immigration enforcement. Orange County still makes the immigration checks inside its jail and flags inmates for deportation officers, but won’t hold anyone on behalf of federal authorities out of legal concerns.

“The window has narrowed to a large extent,” said Orange County sheriff’s Lt. Mike McHenry.

With Trump in office, the program has new life.

Even before the change in administration, two Republican county sheriffs in Massachusetts said they were starting programs. In Texas, Jackson County sheriff A. J. “Andy” Louderback said two officers will get trained to run immigration jail checks this spring and nearby counties want to follow suit.

Louderback said teaming up with federal agents will cost his agency roughly $3,000 — a small price to pay to cover for officers while they’re on a four-week training course, especially in an area struggling with human smuggling. Once the program is underway, he said immigration agents will send a daily van to pick up anyone flagged for deportation from jail.

“It just seems like good law enforcement to partner with federal law enforcement in this area,” he said. “It takes all of us to do this job.”

Experts said Trump’s outreach to local law enforcement will create an even bigger split between sanctuary cities that keep police out of immigration enforcement and those eager to help the new president bolster deportations.

“There is no question that in order to do the type of mass deportation that he promised, it will require him conscripting local law enforcement agencies,” said Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “It is going to balkanize things … and we’re going to see more of the extremes.”

Patriotism Doesn’t Mean Prejudice

For me, the inauguration of President Trump is particularly poignant, as the outgoing President was the one under whom I became a citizen, while the new President was elected in the first election in which I was also able to participate as a new American.

Born British, I moved to the USA when I was 29. In 2009, I became a permanent resident, and last year, after a 12 year odyssey through a Kafkaesque immigration system, I became a citizen.

In my heart and soul, however, I was American a long time ago – a fact of which I became conscious in two experiential flashes. The first made me realize that I was no longer “just” a Brit. After the second, I knew I was American, even though I didn’t yet have the passport to prove it.

Not Just a Brit

The first experience occurred in Phoenix. A friend and I heard of a liberty-oriented political conference that was being held in a nearby Sheraton hotel. Being the political type, we quietly went down and let ourselves into the back of the hall. Scanning what was at that time an unusual environment for me, I noticed a participant who was prominently sporting a side-arm.

My national identity was already becoming more complex, more layered.

At that time, I was only five years out of Britain, a country in which even police don’t carry guns, and the instinctive reaction of most Brits would typically be some combination of horror, perplexity, and even derision. At the very least, a sense of cultural dissonance would be instinctive. But for me, somewhat surprisingly, that was not the case.

Even though I had never shot a handgun, nor had had any interest in firearms, not only did I feel at ease with that man carrying his weapon to a non-threatening, indoor event, but – much more than that – I understood why he was doing it, and that the reasons were, of course, decidedly American.

The ideas that un-asserted rights are lost over time and that people have a right to self-defense through lethal force are alien in British culture. But in that moment, I didn’t see the gun-touting man as member of a different species — or even of a different culture. That was enough for me to register that my national identity was already becoming more complex, more layered.

However, the moment I knew that I was an American was altogether stranger.

Becoming American

I was at the top of a mountain in Kyrgyzstan, sitting in a run-down building that had been temporarily converted into a classroom. I was there with others to share some of the principles of political and economic liberty with a group young adults who had come of age in the former Soviet republic. One of my colleagues, an opera singer, was giving a class. After loosening up the extremely bright but highly skeptical students by getting them to discuss and then sing the Kyrgyz national anthem, he proceeded to sing the American anthem.

The tears started rolling down my face, and they would not stop.

Renouncing one country for the other would be like renouncing my first child at the second’s birth. Doing either would be absurd and false.

Not only have I never cried for the British anthem: I cannot even imagine any Englishman doing so. Yet, there I was, in the front of the rectangular room, with nowhere to hide, crying for the anthem of a country to which I did not yet fully belong — but with which spiritually I resonated at the deepest level.

I was taken aback by my deeply emotional response but perhaps should not have been. There were many occasions in the preceding five years of the brutal legal immigration process when it would have been emotionally, financially, and practically much easier to have just given up. Yet, on those occasions I always returned to the simple fact that I already felt at home, and after all, one’s feelings are the language of one’s soul.

In any case, on that day, on a mountaintop in Kyrgyzstan, I knew that, although I was British, I was also an American.

A few months later, I was back in Phoenix. I went to a citizenship ceremony to support an Italian friend as he became an American citizen. I imagined myself going through the same ceremony with my own kith and kin in the audience.

I smiled through the whole thing, I empathized with all of the new citizens — not just as Americans, but as people who had overcome similar stresses and uncertainties to achieve their goal of becoming once and for all American.

Yet, one part of the ceremony gave me serious pause. The oath taken by new citizens includes the words,

I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.”

Imagining my mother in the audience, my stomach knotted at how upset she’d be if I renounced where I had come from and the land with which she shall always identify.

I was sufficiently perturbed by the implications of that renunciation that I googled it immediately upon returning home to see what it really meant.

Becoming A Bipatriot

I have no reservations in my commitment to the USA. In fact, I have already done more to “support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America” than many born-and-bred Americans. I love doing it because I believe deeply in the founding principles of the United States and the American project. I would take up arms for the USA and I would fight as hard to defend my fellow Americans as I would for my fellow Brits.

I am a bipatriot and it is a wonderful thing to be.

Indeed, to me, my British-to-American narrative is rather special because it follows America’s historical narrative, and to me, much of what is best about the American character and foundation is an evolution, perhaps even a higher expression, of British values and political traditions. (In his poem, “England and America in 1782”, Tennyson explains it better than I can.)

Indeed, my pride in those British gifts underpins my pride in the Americans who fought the revolution and wrote the Constitution to save and improve on those same gifts as they were being trampled in “the motherland”.

Britain formed me. America is what I have chosen to do with how I am formed. Renouncing one for the other would be like renouncing being a son to become a husband — or like renouncing my first child when my second is born. Doing either would be absurd and false. As with two sons, so with two countries: I love both, delight in the success of both, am pained by the shortcomings of both, and get to celebrate the fact that love is not diluted when it is doubled.

For those reasons and others, I was glad to learn that my renunciation of Britain in the USA carries no weight in Britain, and that even in American law, I can be both American and British.

Extend that lack of prejudice to those who are inspired by this country and its founding ideals.

Thank God for that. I am impatient to embrace America fully, and commit to my new countrymen, but if I really had to choose between an American identity and a British one, I’d be overwhelmed by the unreality of that choice.

So I am a bipatriot, if I might coin a term, and it is a wonderful thing to be.

Just as people who can think in different languages benefit from a certain intellectual and emotional abundance, so do we bipatriots. We have an enriched identity, a more colorful sense of self. We get to see issues — especially political, philosophical and cultural — in very different ways, but in each way clearly. Not only is that exciting; it hopefully gives us something different to contribute to our adoptive countries.

Happily, another British-born Americaphile inadvertently helped me understand why bipatriotism makes sense: Daniel Hannan, a British Member of the European Parliament has said,

Patriotism is what makes people behave unselfishly. It’s the basis of our sense of obligation to those around us. A patriot doesn’t belittle other countries: he cheers their sense of national pride, and values their freedom.”

Indeed. And I am blessed, like the parent of two children, to have twice the pride.

But the skeptical reader might still ask whom would I support in a World Cup soccer final between the US and the UK (choosing soccer only because it’s one of the few team sports that are seriously played by both nations), as the answer to that question would no doubt cut to my deepest allegiance. Upon introspection, I am delighted to find that in that game, my team never loses.

Prejudice Against Patriotism Is as Damaging as Patriotism with Prejudice

I didn’t vote for the President who was sworn in today, and I was not expecting to be much taken by his speech – but I was struck by one line in particular: “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.”

That made me recall Hannan, above, and it is the kind of patriotism of which my bipatriotism is made. It is also the patriotism of individual liberty on which our nation – my new home – was founded.

I hope it truly is the patriotism of our new President, and of those who have supported him. Our future depends heavily on it.

Just as importantly, I hope that those who virtue-signal their “lack of prejudice” by opposing our new President, will extend that lack of prejudice to those who are inspired by this country, its history, and its founding ideals, and so call themselves patriots. Our future depends heavily on that too.

Robin Koerner


Robin Koerner

Robin Koerner is British-born and recently became a citizen of the USA. A decade ago, he founded WatchingAmerica.com, an organization of over 200 volunteers that translates and posts views about the USA from all over the world, works as a trainer and a consultant, and recently wrote the book If You Can Keep It.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Green card holders also banned from entering U.S.; airlines start turning passengers away

The fallout grew Saturday from President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown as U.S. legal permanent residents and visa-holders from seven Muslim-majority countries who had left the United States found they could not return for 90 days.

It was a period of limbo for an unknown number of non-American citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen now barred from the country where they were studying or had lived, perhaps for years.

A federal law enforcement official who confirmed the temporary ban said it covers legal permanent residents — green card holders — and visa-holders from those seven countries who are out of the United States after Friday, when President Donald Trump signed an executive order.

The official said there was an exemption for foreigners whose entry is in the U.S. national interest. It was not immediately clear how that exemption might be applied.

Trump’s order exempts diplomats.

Those already in the U.S. with a visa or green card will be allowed to stay, according to the official, who wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the details of how Trump’s order was being put in place and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Customs and Border Protection was notifying airlines about passengers whose visas had been canceled or legal residents scheduled to fly back to the U.S. Airlines were being told to keep them off those flights.

Trump’s order barred all refugees from entering the U.S. for four months, and indefinitely halted any from Syria. He said the ban was needed to keep out “radical Islamic terrorists.”

Rand Paul Unveils Obamacare Replacement Act

On January 24, Senator Rand Paul, MD (R-KY) introduced S. 222, the “Obamacare Replacement Act,” which his press release described as “a health care plan grounded in broadly supported conservative reforms that is ready for an immediate vote after Obamacare is repealed.” The bill, a comprehensive replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act (ACA, i.e., Obamacare), would repeal the individual and employer mandates and other ACA provisions, and provide a 2-year open-enrollment period under which individuals with pre-existing conditions could obtain coverage. Among its provisions, the bill would provide an income and payroll tax deduction for health insurance costs. The bill would also remove the maximum contribution limit for a Health Savings Account (HSA) and provide individuals the option of a tax credit of up to $5,000 per taxpayer for contributions to a HSA; if an individual chooses not to accept the tax credit or contributes in excess of $5,000, those contributions would still be tax-preferred.

Senator Paul’s issued the following Press Release:

Yesterday, U.S. Senator and physician Rand Paul introduced S. 222, the Obamacare Replacement Act, to provide Congress with a health care plan grounded in broadly supported conservative reforms that is ready for an immediate vote after Obamacare is repealed. Dr. Paul’s proposal would expand access to higher-quality, lower-cost health care for more Americans, regardless of medical history.

“Getting government out of the American people’s way and putting them back in charge of their own health care decisions will deliver a strong, efficient system that doesn’t force them to empty out their pockets to cover their medical bills,” said Dr. Paul. “There is no excuse for waiting to craft an alternative until after we repeal Obamacare, and the Obamacare Replacement Act charts a new path forward that will insure the most people possible at the lowest price.”

The Obamacare Replacement Act empowers the American people to: 1.) Choose inexpensive insurance free of government dictates; 2.) Save unlimited amounts in a health savings account (HSA) and have wider options for using those funds; 3.) Buy insurance across state lines; and 4.) Join together in voluntary associations to gain the leverage of being part of a large insurance pool.

Dr. Paul has led the charge to replace Obamacare at the same time it is repealed, and he has been joined in calling for simultaneous action by fellow Republicans including President Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. You can see Dr. Paul’s entire plan laid out section by section HERE, and you can find summary information below. Dr. Rand Paul’s Obamacare Replacement Act, S. 222: Legalizes Inexpensive Insurance Plans:

• Ensures that Americans can purchase the health insurance coverage that best fits their needs.

• Eliminates Obamacare’s essential health benefits requirement, along with other restrictive coverage and plan requirements, to once again make low-cost insurance options available to American consumers. Protects Individuals with Pre-Existing Conditions:

• Provides a two-year open-enrollment period under which individuals with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.

• Restores HIPAA pre-existing conditions protections. Prior to Obamacare, HIPAA guaranteed that those in the group market could obtain continuous health coverage regardless of preexisting conditions. Helps More People Save To Buy Health Insurance and Cover Medical Costs:

• Incentivizes savings by authorizing a tax credit (up to $5,000 per taxpayer) for individuals and families that contribute to HSAs.

• Removes the annual cap on HSAs so individuals can make unlimited contributions.

• Allows HSA funds to be used to purchase insurance, cover premiums, and more easily afford a broader range of health-related expenses, including prescription and OTC drugs, dietary supplements, nutrition and physical exercise expenses, and direct primary care, among others. Guarantees Fair Tax Treatment of Health Insurance:

• Equalizes the tax treatment of the purchase of health insurance for individuals and employers by allowing individuals to deduct the cost of their health insurance from their income and payroll taxes.

• Frees more Americans to purchase and maintain insurance apart from their work status.

• Does not interfere with employer-provided coverage for Americans who prefer those plans. Helps Individuals Join Together to Purchase Insurance:

• Expands Association Health Plans (AHPs) to allow small business owners and individuals to band together across state lines through their membership in a trade or professional association to purchase health coverage for their families and employees at a lower cost.

• Also allows individuals to pool together through any organization to purchase insurance.

• Widens access to the group market and spreads out the risk, enhancing the ability of individuals and small businesses to decrease costs, increase administrative efficiencies, and further protect those with pre-existing conditions. Allows the Purchase of Insurance Across State Lines:

• Creates an interstate market that allows insurers who are licensed to sell policies in one state to offer them to residents of any other state. Increases State Medicaid Flexibility:

• Enables states to fully exercise current flexibilities afforded to them through Medicaid waivers for creating innovative state plan designs. Empowers Physicians:

• Allows non-economically aligned physicians to negotiate for higher quality health care for their patients.

• Amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow a physician a tax deduction equal to the amount such physician would otherwise charge for charity medical care or uncompensated care due to bad debt, limited to 10% of a physician’s gross income for the taxable year.

 

Trump’s Executive Order to Limit Migration for “National Security” Reasons Has No Basis In Fact

President Trump is expected to sign an executive order shortly to temporarily ban all visas for people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, and Somalia among other actions.  An advanced copy of this order was available earlier this week.  The first sentence of his order states that it is to “protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States.”  However, the countries that Trump chose to temporarily ban are not serious terrorism risks.

I compiled a list of foreign-born people who committed or were convicted of attempting to commit a terrorist attack on U.S. soil from 1975 through 2015.  Below is a table with the distribution of their countries of origin (Figure 1).  The first seven countries are those to be initially and, hopefully, temporarily denied visas.  During the time period analyzed here, 17 foreign-born folks from those nations were convicted of carrying out or attempting to carry out a terrorist attack on U.S. soil and they killed zero people.  Zero Libyans or Syrians intended to carry out an attack on U.S. soil during this time.

Figure 1

Foreign-Born Terrorist Country of Origin, 1975-2015

Country

Terrorists

Murders

Terrorists (percent)

Murders (percent)

Iran

6

0

3.9%

0.0%

Iraq

2

0

1.3%

0.0%

Libya

0

0

0.0%

0.0%

Somalia

2

0

1.3%

0.0%

Sudan

6

0

3.9%

0.0%

Syria

0

0

0.0%

0.0%

Yemen

1

0

0.6%

0.0%

Afghanistan

3

0

1.9%

0.0%

Algeria

4

0

2.6%

0.0%

Armenia

6

1

3.9%

0.0%

Australia

1

0

0.6%

0.0%

Bangladesh

2

0

1.3%

0.0%

Bosnia

1

0

0.6%

0.0%

Croatia

9

1

5.8%

0.0%

Cuba

11

3

7.1%

0.1%

Dominican Republic

1

0

0.6%

0.0%

Egypt

11

162

7.1%

5.4%

Ethiopia

1

0

0.6%

0.0%

France

1

0

0.6%

0.0%

Ghana

1

0

0.6%

0.0%

Guyana

2

0

1.3%

0.0%

Haiti

3

0

1.9%

0.0%

India

2

0

1.3%

0.0%

Japan

1

0

0.6%

0.0%

Jordan

4

0

2.6%

0.0%

Kazakhstan

1

0

0.6%

0.0%

Kosovo

2

0

1.3%

0.0%

Kuwait

2

6

1.3%

0.2%

Kyrgyzstan

2

3

1.3%

0.1%

Lebanon

4

159

2.6%

5.2%

Macedonia

3

0

1.9%

0.0%

Mexico

1

0

0.6%

0.0%

Morocco

3

0

1.9%

0.0%

Nigeria

1

0

0.6%

0.0%

Pakistan

14

3

9.1%

0.1%

Palestine

5

2

3.2%

0.1%

Saudi Arabia

19

2,369

12.3%

78.3%

Serbia

2

0

1.3%

0.0%

South Korea

1

0

0.6%

0.0%

Taiwan

1

1

0.6%

0.0%

Trinidad and Tobago

2

1

1.3%

0.0%

Turkey

1

0

0.6%

0.0%

United Arab Emirates

2

314

1.3%

10.4%

United Kingdom

3

0

1.9%

0.0%

Uzbekistan

3

0

1.9%

0.0%

Vietnam

1

0

0.6%

0.0%

Total

154

3,024

100.0%

100.0%

Sources: John Mueller, ed., Terrorism Since 9/11: The American Cases; RAND Database of Worldwide Terrorism Incidents; National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism Global Terrorism Database; Center on National Security; Charles Kurzman, “Spreadsheet of Muslim-American Terrorism Cases from 9/11 through the End of 2015,” University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill; Department of Justice; Federal Bureau of Investigation; New America Foundation; Mother Jones; Senator Jeff Sessions; Various news sources; Court documents.

Attempting or committing a terrorist attack on U.S. soil is not the only terrorist offense.  Materially supporting foreign terrorist organizations, seeking to join a foreign terrorist group overseas, plotting or carrying out terrorist attacks in other countries, and others are also terrorism offenses.  I excluded foreign-born people convicted of those offenses because Trump is concerned with “making America safe again,” not with making other countries safe or with a global war on terrorism.  A terrorist attack in another country doesn’t kill Americans inside of the United States and these threats are not what concern American voters nearly as much as terrorism on U.S. soil.  You can call this an America First weighting of terrorism offenses.

Trump’s executive order cites the “[h]undreds of foreign-born individuals [who] have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes” as another reason for a visa ban for these countries.  He likely got the “hundreds of foreign-born individuals” from a news release and list put out by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) that purportedly shows all 580 “terrorism-related” convictions since 9/11 with at least 380 of them as immigrants.

It is disturbing that Sessions’ flawed list of terrorism convictions is the basis for much of this executive order.  There are at least two major problems with the list.  First, you might get the impression that all of those convictions were for terrorist attacks planned on U.S.-soil but only 40, or 6.8 percent, were.  Second, 241 of the 580 convictions, or 42 percent, were not even for terrorism offenses.  Many of the investigations started based on a terrorism tip like, for instance, the suspect wanting to buy a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.  However, the tip turned out to be groundless and the legal saga ended with only a mundane conviction of receiving stolen cereal.  According to Sessions’ list, that cereal thief is a terrorist.

In the little over 13 years covered in the Sessions’ list, there were about three convictions per year for planning or committing an attack on U.S. soil.  For every one of them, there were six non-terrorism convictions counted as terrorism and 4.5 convictions for supporting, joining, or planning a terrorist attack overseas.  In short, the list provided by Senator Jeff Sessions does not show a daunting terrorist threat to American lives in the homeland.

Trump’s executive order goes on to argue that “[d]eteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter our country.”  Presumably, the goal is to reduce American deaths from terrorism on U.S. soil so the deadliness of terrorist attacks matters more than the number of terrorists.  For instance, 114 of the 154 foreign-born terrorists from 1975 to the end of 2015 didn’t kill anybody.  The three countries where the deadliest terrorists came to the United States from were Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt.  Together they all accounted for 94.1 percent of all American deaths in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil committed by the foreign-born.  Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are not beset by any of the supposedly-terrorism increasing problems that are described in this order.  Egyptians account for 5.4 percent of all terrorist victims but their attacks occurred between 1993 and 2002 when Egypt was a more stable country than it is today.  The only exception to this might be Lebanon which accounts for 5.2 percent of all terrorist victims but nearly all of those were committed by Ziad Jarrah on 9/11 – a single data point.  Meanwhile, foreign-born people from Syria, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, and Yemen have not successfully killed anybody in a U.S. terrorist attack.

Trump’s executive order goes on to say that the United States “cannot, and should not, admit into our country those who do not support the U.S. Constitution.”  Virtually nobody in the world, including most Americans, supports the U.S. Constitution and it seems peculiar to block tourists who want to visit Disneyland from entering because they “do not support the U.S. Constitution.”  My guesses are that whoever wrote this executive order is either confused about the difference between immigrants and non-immigrants, it is just sloppily drafted, or this is an earlier draft.  Temporary visitors should not have to swear allegiance or express support for the Constitution any more than an American should have to swear allegiance to or express my support for monarchy when visiting the United Kingdom.  In terms of support for the Constitution, all that matters is that immigrants who naturalize take an oath to do so – as they are currently required to under U.S. law.

The order also directs the government to find a way to identify immigrants “with the intent to cause harm, or who are at risk of causing harm subsequent to their admission.”  Blocking immigrants who intend to commit crimes or terrorist attacks is a wonderful idea – so wonderful that the government already does it.  However, the line that seeks to identify those who “are at risk of causing harm subsequent to their admission” is hopelessly vague.  There is a risk greater than zero that virtually anybody is a risk subsequent to their admission so this type of broad, ill-defined dictate could theoretically screen out everybody.  More likely, it will just be used to capriciously target individuals for political or personal reasons.

A later line in the executive order provides some context for the “risk of causing harm subsequent to their admission” line.  It orders DHS to regularly publish “information regarding the number of foreign-born individuals in the Untied States who have been radicalized after entry into the United States and engaged in terrorism-related acts, or who have provided material support to terrorism-related organizations in countries that pose a threat to the United States.”  Presumably, DHS will use that information to build a detailed risk profile of immigrants to exclude those who could become radicalized.  One worrying term is “terrorism-related organizations.”  I couldn’t find any mentions or definition of a “terrorism-related organization” in U.S. law.  There are no mentions of “terrorism-related convictions” either.  If “terrorism-related organizations” is defined as broadly as “terrorism-related convictions” has been in Jeff Sessions’ terrorist list then many non-terrorist organizations will be included for flimsy reasons.  This is like the no-fly list but with far graver consequences.

The order also says there should be a “process to evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positive contributing member of society, and the applicant’s ability to make contributions to the national interest.”  The immigration law already does the former by excluding criminals, national security threats, and numerous other categories of excludable people while the broad immigrant and non-immigrant work visas supposedly identify which foreigners are most valuable.  At best this line in the executive order is redundant and at worst it signals the government’s intent to be even more involved in planning the labor market by selecting winners and losers through the immigration system.

The seven countries temporarily banned under this executive order represent a small percent of all green cards and entries into the United States (the latter estimated by I-94s per country).  In 2015, the government issued 52,365 green cards to immigrants born in those seven countries which amount to just 4.98 percent of all green cards issued that year and 29.4 percent of all green cards issued to nationals from Muslim countries (Table 2).  In the same year, there were 86,236 non-immigrant entries from those countries which accounted for 0.11 percent of all entries although they comprised 4.5 percent of all entries for Islamic countries (Table 2).

The economic cost of a temporary ban, or even a permanent one, is small because so few green cards and nonimmigrant visas are issued to folks from those seven countries.  However, the danger of terrorism on U.S. soil committed by citizens of those countries has also been very low historically with only 17 convictions from 1975 through 2015 and zero Americans killed in domestic attacks.  Future terrorists could come from different countries than terrorists did in the past but, based on current evidence, this ban is still a net loss because it will likely stop few terrorists, prevent zero deaths, and slightly reduce immigration and tourism.  All minor economic pain, no gain.

Table 2

Number of Green Cards and Entries per Country, 2015

Green Cards

Entries (I-94)

Iran

13,114

35,266

Iraq

21,107

21,381

Libya

734

2,879

Somalia

6,796

359

Sudan

3,580

4,792

Syria

3,840

16,010

Yemen

3,194

5,549

All Countries

1,051,031

76,638,236

Islamic Countries (OIC)

178,015

1,896,383

Source: Department of Homeland Security

If President Trump was committed to banning immigrants from certain countries in order to reduce the already small risk of terrorism on U.S. soil committed by the foreign-born then he would not just ban nationals from these seven countries.  For this reason, I expect his administration to expand the list of countries banned in the near future.  Section 3, subsections c, d, e, and f clarify that the president can extend these bans to other countries or make them permanent.  This is a warning about additional bans on migrants and immigrants to come as well as the process by which those bans will be enacted.