Gabe Ortiz

Biden Justice Department refuses to disclose certain family separation documents

The Biden administration had until April 2 to decide whether or not it would disclose documents relating to the previous administration's family separation policy, including from a reported White House meeting where former aide and noted white supremacist Stephen Miller and other officials from that administration allegedly voted on the policy of state-sanctioned kidnapping.

Attorneys representing separated families have sought these documents as part of their litigation, but had been blocked by the previous administration. They'd hoped for a different outcome under the new administration, but NBC News reports the Biden Department of Justice has refused to disclose those key items, arguing "the government must protect the right of the government to keep certain planning documents confidential."

Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff report for NBC News that Biden administration attorneys said "[t]hose privileges protect institutional interest in the decision making process and the ability of a wide range of government employees to provide candid advice." But attorneys representing separated families are not seeking to prevent government employees from doing that, they're seeking answers from specific officials who implemented this humanitarian disaster that has kept kids without their parents for years now.

Ainsley and Soboroff had reported last year that Miller, upset that separations were going too slow, made officials take a vote on plowing through with the plan through a show of hands. "The Trump administration denied that such a meeting or vote took place," Ainsley and Soboroff reported earlier this month. Attorneys representing families could know more about that meeting, but documents relating to it are among the items that the Biden administration has said it won't release to them.

NBC News reports "[t]he Biden administration did agree to hand over some documents, largely by unredacting previously redacted material," and said that other documents were not relevant. But the report said that attorneys representing families said "the documents sought relate to the government's awareness and intent in directing the separation of families and the resulting harm to families, which are highly relevant to the plaintiffs' claims and the government's asserted defenses."

This decision from the Biden administration comes as hundreds of deported parents have yet to be found and newly identified files could point to a number of previously unknown separations at the southern border by the previous administration.

"We now believe there may have been separations in the first six months of the Trump administration and we applaud the task force for agreeing to review cases during this time period," American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants' Rights Project Deputy Director Lee Gelernt told NBC News. "Whether the task force finds one or many additional separations, it is essential that we find every last child cruelly taken from their parents by our government."

And that officials who carried out these horrific separations be held accountable. President Biden as a candidate had criticized ongoing separations as "criminal." El Paso Rep. Veronica Escobar recently told The Intercept that Miller "should be behind bars." She said during that interview that "he committed heinous human rights violations, and I think that those around him who helped plot this out should be held accountable as well."

"The Trump administration's zero tolerance policy devastated thousands of families," tweeted Noah Bookbinder, president of government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "For the Justice Department now to seek to shield key documents from the public is discouraging. The American people—and especially the families torn apart—deserve answers."

Fox News has a moment of honesty and confronts Gov. Abbott with inconvenient facts about his attack on Biden

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott finally got called out to his face about being silent during the past four years of anti-immigrant abuses under the previous president—and it happened on Fox News, of all places. During a press conference last week, Abbott made claims about abuse at a facility holding unaccompanied children, providing no specific details but calling for oversight, The Texas Tribune reported.

Allegations of abuse under U.S. custody should be treated as serious, especially when it involves vulnerable children, and an investigation is what absolutely should and must happen. Advocates have long demanded this. Greg's sudden concern for the well-being of kids, however, is brand-new. During a Fox News Sunday appearance, host Chris Wallace challenged Abbott on his silence when similar allegations were made during the previous administration.

"Governor, there were thousands of complaints of sexual abuse at migrant shelters during the Trump years, not to say that what's going on now is right, but we couldn't find one instance of you complaining and calling that out when [former] President Trump was president," Wallace said. Abbott responded by basically claiming that, well these were allegations filed with state agencies. So is his reasoning that if it's at the federal level, he may not speak up? So how does he explain Texas suing the federal government over policy?

HuffPost reports that Greg later added, "Don't fall prey to Democrats or others saying, 'Well, Abbott didn't complain about this in the past.'" But the reality is he didn't, and Texas was ground zero for the past four years of anti-immigrant and anti-asylum abuses. El Paso, remember, is where the previous administration "piloted" family separation, the policy that would result in the state-sanctioned kidnapping of thousands of children. Nearly four years after that piloting, kids are still separated from their families.

"Abbott largely remained silent despite reports of widespread abuse in migrant shelters during former President Donald Trump's administration," The Texas Tribune reported. "Now that he's speaking out in the early days of a Democratic presidency, some said they couldn't help but view his comments through a political lens."

Among them is Rep. Veronica Escobar, who said in the report that Abbott "has zero credibility on this or any other issue related to protecting human life. We saw Gov. Abbott's failure to protect his own citizens during the freeze. We saw Gov. Abbott play politics with COVID." I mean, when asked to back up his xenophobic claims about asylum-seeking families spreading the virus, he had nothing.

Our nation with its vast resources has an obligation to treat children coming to our southern border in search of safety with dignity, compassion, and humanity. Their lives and their well-being are on us. But to Greg Abbott and others, they are clearly nothing but political props. It's disgusting, and they should be ashamed. But that would only happen if they had any sense of shame.

Montana's GOP governor signs bill banning 'sanctuary cities.' There's just one problem

No so-called "sanctuary cities" actually exist in Montana, but Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte has signed a bill purporting to ban them in the state anyway. Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock had vetoed such legislation in 2019, calling it "a solution searching for a problem." But when you have no solutions to actual problems, the Republican playbook is to just blame an immigrant.

"Supporters of the measure have said that sanctuary cities in other parts of the country have led to increased criminal activity, and that the Montana ban is necessary to preempt such problems," the Associated Press (AP) reported. But that's not only faulty thinking, it's also flat-out untrue.

"Cities that have adopted 'sanctuary' policies did not record an increase in crime as a result of their decision to limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities, according to a new Stanford University report," The Washington Post reported last year. That study came after years of lies from the previous administration that claimed safer city policies endangered communities. That administration also attempted to unlawfully strip funds from localities that had passed such measures.

"There's no evidence sanctuary policies harm public safety, and there's no evidence those policies increase crime," researcher David K. Hausman said according to the Post.

The AP reported that Montana's new law "will require state and local law enforcement to comply with federal immigration law and empower the state's attorney general to pursue civil action against jurisdictions that do not comply—including fines and withholding state grant funds." In his veto statement, Bullock warned that police holding detained immigrants past their release date for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to pick up is both unlawful and could expose localities to severe civil liabilities. Really severe.

Last October, Los Angeles County agreed to pay $14 million to settle a 2012 class action lawsuit brought forward by immigrants who had initially been detained by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office but were then unlawfully held for federal immigration agents to pick up later. It was the largest such settlement ever reached, The Washington Post reported at the time. "The holds, also called 'immigration detainers,' forced individuals to be held in county jails after they were legally entitled to be released," National Immigration Justice Center (NIJC) said in a release received by Daily Kos.

Seems like Bullock had the right idea there. But when you have no ideas period, you go the Gianforte route, I guess. He hasn't been the only one either. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the previous president's second of many lying press secretaries, launched her gubernatorial campaign with a pledge to also ban so-called sanctuary cities. But, like in Montana, none exist in Arkansas either. "New election cycle, same old xenophobic dog-whistling campaign," tweeted Zach Mueller of immigrant rights advocacy group America's Voice. "Lies told for power and profit, lies to divide and distract, lies that will hurt ALL Arkansans. But likely just a foreshadow of a GOP who learns no lessons and takes no responsibility."

NIJC said in a report last year that "a growing body of social science research shows that communities with immigrant populations are safe, vibrant, and full communities. Sociologists have long found that immigrants bring an inter-connectedness to communities that correlate to lower crime rates."

"Simply put, more immigrants means safer communities—for everyone," NIJC continued. "In fact, many studies have found that crime actually decreases in cities with large immigrant populations. Social scientists even have a term for it: the 'immigrant revitalization perspective.'"

'Echoed every conceivable GOP talking point': Critics slam Washington Post's immigration coverage

Republicans have no solutions but they have plenty to opine, and one of the most notorious officials from the previous administration was given a soapbox by The Washington Post this past weekend from which to finger-point at the Biden administration for deciding to follow the law by respecting the asylum rights of kids. "They should have been better prepared," Chad Wolf, the unlawfully appointed former acting Department of Homeland Security secretary who used his office to campaign instead of focus on white supremacist terror threats, dared to say in the report.

"Wolf was a key member of Trump's anti-immigrant border team who worked overtime creating deliberately ineffective, chaotic, and cruel policies, which Democrats are now trying to fix," former Media Matters and Rolling Stone writer Eric Boehlert said for Press Run. "But Wolf gets to spout off in the Post about how Biden has created a crisis?" He and other experts note The Post's piece was a hot mess overall, factually-challenged and practically salivating as it "echoed every conceivable GOP talking point."

"Designed to portray the White House as poised on the brink of a defining and perhaps fatal failure, the Post article was drenched in politics instead of policy—'Republicans are reveling in the administration's border problems,'" Boehlert writes. The "border problems" are in fact human beings—children—and thousands of them are currently in U.S. custody after coming to our southern border in search of safety. They have been doing so for several years, which The Post fails to note in its breathless coverage.

"The article fails to mention a 700% surge in unaccompanied minors in Trump's last year, and a 360% surge in adults seeking asylum," Julián Castro senior advisor Sawyer Hackett wrote in a series of tweets blasting the article. "It fails to seriously examine that the Trump admin refused to cooperate w/ the transition—which is the most important factor here in preparation." Recall that even U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), historically a paper-pushing agency, was reportedly ordered by the previous administration to not communicate with then-President-elect Biden's team. "I respect every journalist on this byline," Hackett said. "But this is pure hot garbage, beginning to end."

"The piece stressed the issue of immigration could be a loser for Democrats—it could cost them the House in 2022!" Boehlert continued. But as immigrant rights advocacy group America's Voice recently noted in a report, xenophobic and anti-immigrant shit-stirring has been a "losing political strategy" for Republicans, "as it was in 2017, in 2018, in 2019, and in 2020. Keep in mind as they again tee up immigration as their focus for 2022."

It's almost like former White House aide and white supremacist creep Stephen Miller actually really isn't some brilliant strategist (once again, who is president right now, and who is likely golfing at some resort staffed by the same undocumented immigrants he spent years demonizing for political gain?), and the American people favor real policy solutions and the humane treatment of children and families.

Immigration policy expert Aaron Reichlin-Melnick noted The Post's tired narrative mirrored in a piece from The New York Times on Monday, which proclaimed "The Democrats' Immigration Problem." Reichlin-Melnick wrote, "[n]o headline was written about 'The Republicans' Immigration Problem' in 2019 when twice as many families arrived at the border; or over the last two decades when ever reform bill was shot down? How is putting humanity back into the system a problem?" It's not, and allowing people to pursue their asylum rights is both lawful and moral. But it is a problem for Republicans, as Texas U.S. Sen. John Cornyn all but said so in his Twitter feed:

Both Cornyn and his colleague Ted Cruz, may I remind you, were silent when Border Patrol stalked and detained a 10-year-old girl on her way to emergency surgery back in 2017. Cruz is now suddenly concern-trolling about the border (including linking to The Post's piece) after spending years ignoring the previous administration's decimation of the asylum system and inhumane treatment of families. Both Cornyn and Cruz did nothing while the previous administration implemented humanitarian disasters like the anti-asylum Remain in Mexico policy, which the Biden administration has begun winding down.

"[R]epublicans—scrambling in a post-Trump, post-insurrection, post-stimulus, post-Dr. Seuss world—have pivoted to making the increase in unaccompanied minors at the border their 2022 wedge issue, we're all about to be dragged along for the ride," Ian Gordon wrote for Mother Jones. But Republicans can't really do it alone, and they've found an accomplice in The Post and other lazy punditry. ABC certainly didn't fly its entire "roundtable" to the border when the previous administration used Miller's politically motivated Title 42 public health order as an excuse to expel children over 13,000 times.

Mother Jones notes that in addition to Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's recent stunt at the southern border, "hawk Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said on Fox News Sunday that 'the border is wide open' under Biden, despite the fact that the Title 42 border closure remains in place for everyone but unaccompanied migrant children," Gordon continued. "Cotton, it should be noted, is calling on Biden to shut the border on these kids. That was and would be another kind of crisis—just maybe not one that'd result in wall-to-wall coverage on the Sunday morning news shows."

Boehlert concludes by writing that "[i]n terms of border crossing apprehensions, 2021 is currently on pace to match the 2019 surge under Trump. Where was the panic-stricken media coverage about the border 'crisis' then, and how the Republican administration had no policy answer? In truth, Trump touted the huge influx in 2019 because he thought it was good politics for wanting to build a mythical wall across America's southern border, which Democrats opposed."

"So when a Republican was in the White House, he claimed the huge border surge was bad news for Democrats, and the press largely played alone," Boehlert continued. "Two years later, the press is once again playing along with Republicans, claiming a huge border surge is bad news for Democrats."

Legislators reintroduce immigration bills previously passed by House but blocked by Senate

Wednesday was a big day in the U.S. House of Representatives, with legislators reintroducing two major legalization bills that stand to affect millions. The first, the Dream and Promise Act, affects Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders. The second, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, provides a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers and their families.

Both bills were previously introduced by the House, and passed with bipartisan votes. The Dream and Promise Act received seven Republican votes to pass 237 to 187, while the Farm Workforce Modernization Act passed by an even wider margin of 260 to 165. It was the first time the chamber had passed such protections in many years. Yet, like countless other progressive pieces of legislation, the bills were stalled by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Following his demotion, advocates say now is the time to act.

"Passage of the Dream & Promise Act, along with the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, would be a critical first step towards citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants," United We Dream (UWD) executive director Greisa Martinez Rosas said in a statement received by Daily Kos. "The Dream & Promise Act is one of the most expansive policies to provide permanent solutions for millions of immigrant youth and TPS holders and includes much-needed improvements to expand eligibility."

The legislation, reintroduced by California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, New York Rep. Nydia Velázquez, and New York Rep. Yvette Clarke, would at last bring some relief to up to 3 million undocumented immigrants like UWD member Idalia Quinteros, who came to the U.S. when she was just 8 but was a year off from qualifying for DACA protections. "Without any form of protection, I have always felt a sense of anxiety and fear that I might be deported and separated from my loved ones," she said in the statement."

"The Dream & Promise Act would be life changing for me and millions of young people who don't qualify for protections from deportation under DACA," she continued. "Under this bill, I would finally have the opportunity to apply to and take a decent paying job with a work permit, get a driver's license, become more independent, qualify for more scholarships for college, and feel secure in my home. Congress must immediately pass the Dream & Promise Act for me and three million other undocumented people."

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, reintroduced by Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California and Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse of New York, would implement long overdue protections for undocumented workers whose labor puts food on tables across the U.S. The moral imperative to put undocumented farmworkers and their families on a path to legalization and citizenship has only grown since the bill's Dec. 2019 House passage.

While farm laborers were deemed essential workers amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, workers without legal status have been shut out of emergency relief. InsideClimate News also reported last July that a study conducted by the California Institute for Rural Studies found that "[f]arm hubs have the highest rates of Covid-19 in the state, and Latinx patients comprise the majority of cases in those hot spots." Collaborative efforts in the state have since targeted farmworkers for the vaccine by taking mobile clinics straight to them.

"The bill was negotiated over eight months in 2019 with input from farmers, agricultural stakeholders, labor organizations, and farmworker advocates," Lofgren's office said. "In December 2019, it became the first agriculture labor reform legislation to pass the House of Representatives since 1986. Since its passage in the House, a bipartisan coalition of Members has been working to strengthen support for the legislation."

However, advocates from UWD, Immigrant Justice Network (IJC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and America's Voice (AV) urged legislators to improve both pieces of legislation, saying that they worry the bills as-is exclude immigrants who've endured racial profiling by law enforcement.

"No bill is perfect," America's Voice founder Frank Sharry said. "There are provisions in both bills that are cause for concern. For example, the Dream and Promise Act includes troubling provisions that will exclude from a path to permanent status some who have had minor brushes with a harsh and discriminatory criminal justice system. These additional exclusions should be stripped from the bill or at least ameliorated as the legislation moves forward."

"The Dream and Promise Act must honor the promise made to protect hundreds of thousands of immigrants who call the United States home," IJN said. "This makes it all the more important for the bill to be truly inclusive and reflect our values of equity, compassion, and respect for everyone's rights." The ACLU said, "[w]e can achieve justice for immigrants without exacerbating the harms of the racist criminal legal system on Black and Brown immigrants. We call on Congress to pass citizenship legislation without harmful trade offs or exclusions. The time is now."

Like Daily Kos' Stephen Wolf noted yesterday following the House passage of the historic For the People Act, pro-immigrant legislation faces a hurdle in the Senate, "given Democrats' narrow majority and uncertainty over whether they can overcome a GOP filibuster," but it's a fight we must undertake to protect our families who have lived in uncertainty and fear for far too long.

Thousands of unaccompanied children have been in Border Patrol custody past legal time limit

CBS News' Camilo Montoya-Galvez reports that of the 4,000 unaccompanied children currently detained in dangerous and unsuitable Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conditions, nearly 3,000 of those children have been held by federal immigration officials beyond the 72-hour legal limit.

Children who arrive to the U.S. without parents are supposed to be transferred to Health and Human Services (HHS) within three days while the agency works to place them with sponsors (usually relatives and even parents). But the report said "records show that unaccompanied minors are spending an average of 117 hours in a Border Patrol facility, which Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has said 'is no place for a child.'"

The New York Times reports that the Biden administration this past weekend announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would be dispatched to help provide "food, water and basic medical care" to unaccompanied children in U.S. custody. The report said that roughly 8,500 children are currently in custody of HHS' Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), in facilities that have seen capacity maximums reduced due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The need to get these kids out of CBP custody could not be more urgent. "Children interviewed on Thursday by lawyers conducting oversight as part of a federal court case reported sleeping on the floor; being hungry; only showering once in as many as seven days; and not being able to call family members," the CBS News report said. Neha Desai, an attorney with the National Center for Youth Law, said that one child said they only were able to see the sun when they went to go shower.

The arrival of child refugees to the United States is not new. "Happened under Obama, Trump, now Biden," tweeted MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff. But the previous president implemented a number of anti-asylum policies that blocked vulnerable people and families, and the Biden administration is now allowing in the children that the last administration blocked and have been waiting. Nor is this mistreatment of unaccompanied children new, with a 2019 report from the DHS inspector general under the previous administration finding that border officials held kids for days beyond the 72-hour limit.

But while that administration intentionally implemented policies to hurt children, the Biden administration is taking further steps beyond dispatching FEMA to assist these kids. The Biden administration announced last week that it would be reinstating a program that allowed Central American children to join parents who are already in the U.S. and have lawful status. The Biden administration is also officially ending policy by the previous administration that put sponsors at risk of deportation, and said it would waive policy that required sponsors to pay for the airfare of children.

While these are all steps that could speed up the safe release of children to sponsors already in the U.S., advocates are expressing concern about other measures taken by the Biden administration, like the reopening of large-scale prison camps for kids. "Carrizo Springs, which, unlike a permanent shelter, is not licensed by the state, raising concerns that the up to 700 teenagers who can be housed in the facility could be subject to inhumane treatment and prolonged confinement," Vox reported.

Advocates have urged the use of these camps only as a last resort. "We demand greater transparency from the Biden administration for the public to verify that this use of mass detention is a temporary aberration, that children will be held there for as brief a period as possible, and that for any short period in which Carrizo Springs remains open, officials are doing everything possible to mitigate the harms of being held there," Japanese American-led organization Tsuru for Solidarity said.

Congressional Republicans including Kevin McCarthy have border visits planned, but it's not actually anything to help these kids, it's to fearmonger. McCarthy's been doing a lot of that lately, including echoing the words of an anti-immigrant hate group. "Their sudden concerns for children are hollow and cynical," tweeted Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro. Advocates urged the need to remember that these are kids. "We need to sort of draw back the hysteria of this moment, focus on treating children fleeing violence and arriving at our border as children fleeing violence and arriving at our border and needing help, and that is okay," immigrant rights activist Alida Garcia recently said on MSNBC.

"Moments like these are tests of a nation's character," Families Belong Together director Paola Luisi, said in a statement received by Daily Kos. "We cannot lose sight of the fact that these are children and families running for their lives. The question is how are we going to greet them: with cruelty and trauma, or dignity and compassion? We are working with partners across the border to ensure that families are safe, healthy, and reunited with their loved ones as quickly as possible, and we demand every government entity involved to approach this situation through the lens of child welfare."

Racist customers threatened to call ICE on Mexican restaurant's workers for requiring masks

One of the owners of a family-owned Mexican restaurant in Texas said that angry customers threatened to sic Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on staffers because the business continues to require masks inside, The Washington Post reports. While Gov. Greg Abbott recklessly lifted pandemic restrictions, Picos made a decision based on public health to continue its masking policy. That's when the restaurant faced an onslaught of racist harassment.

"It was just horrific," co-owner Monica Richards told The Post. "People don't understand unless you're in our business what it felt like, how hard it was to go through everything we went through during covid. For people to be negative toward us for trying to remain safe, so that this doesn't continue to happen, just makes zero sense to us." This hasn't been isolated incident either, with a second Mexican restaurant in Houston also reporting similar harassment.

Cantina Barba co-owner Steven O'Sullivan said that "screaming" customers were harassing employees even before Abbott lifted restrictions. "This has been ongoing through covid," he told The Post. "We've had threats of calling ICE. I had one guy just stand there and berate one of my bartenders and tell her 'you're an absolute idiot, you don't know what you're doing. If you think these masks are going to save your life, you're stupid' blah, blah, blah. Nobody wants to deal with that stuff."

Much like the racists who call the police on Black people, the only thing as dangerous as ICE are the racists deliberately using the agency as a weapon against their targets. Sometimes because they feel whatever their demands are aren't getting met. Sometimes it's because they perceive their targets as having no right to be here.

Recall Aaron Schlossberg, the New Yorker who back in 2018 threatened to call ICE on restaurant workers for speaking Spanish to each other. Not even to him, but just to each other. "My guess is they're not documented, so my next call is to ICE to have each one of them kicked out of my country," Schlossberg was recorded as saying. "If they have the balls to come here and live off of my money, I pay for their welfare, I pay for their ability to be here; the least they can do is speak English."

Before anyone says it's just randos using the mass deportation agency this way, also remember former Texas House Republican Matt Rinaldi, who the year prior called ICE on hundreds of peaceful demonstrators who were protesting the state's racist, anti-immigrant "show me your papers" legislation. "This was a peaceful protest and many were citizens, and Rinaldi sicced ICE on them because they were brown," attorney Jose Garza told Texas Observer. Rinaldi's action then predictably resulted in a domino effect of hate:

Richards told The Post that her restaurant Picos has been serving the community for over 30 years now. This is home. But apparently not to some in the community. "Being Hispanic, and going through that immigration process, and finally receiving your papers, and then for somebody to start threatening you after you've been through all that … It's just heartbreaking," she said.

The harassment comes as Abbott himself was spewing anti-immigrant rhetoric, falsely claiming just one day after lifting restrictions that "[t]he Biden Administration is recklessly releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants who have COVID into Texas communities." Back here in reality, 108 people who tested positive have been released in Texas since late January," immigration policy expert Aaron Reichlin-Melnick responded. "That's not 'hundreds.' It's not even 4 per day on average!"

Further calling bull on Abbott is a report that he stalled an offer from the Biden administration to test migrants. It's who he is. Back in 2019, he sent out an anti-immigrant fundraising letter just one day before the terror attack that targeted Mexicans in El Paso. Following backlash to the letter, Abbott issued a non-apology apology and hid behind his wife, saying "[h]er family came from Mexico." But did Abbott even try to think twice about his rhetoric following that letter? Nah, because now he's trying to pin his super-spreading on asylum-seeking families.

Goya CEO censured by board of directors after going on Fox Business to spread lie about Biden's win

Goya Foods Inc. CEO Robert Unanue, who made a public ass of himself by pissing off loyal customers after ass-kissing the previous president, is still making a public ass of himself. NBC News reports Unanue appeared on Fox Business on Inauguration Day to promulgate the lie that President Joe Biden's win was "unverified," and warned of "a war coming, now that the president is leaving today, they're still coming after the United States, the working class."

Oh boy. Well, just like last time, Unanue pissed off a whole lot more people with his conspiracy theory—only this time a whole lot closer to home. NBC News reports that following his remarks, the Goya board of directors censured Unanue. "The board's decision, made Friday and first reported by the New York Post, means that Unanue will no longer be able to speak to the media without first getting permission from the board." However, a CNN report said that the situation had been even more dire for him. Read on.

Per CNN, Unanue was dangerously close to being ousted from Goya entirely, but got his ass saved by virtue of his family ties. "A majority of Goya shareholders favor removing Unanue altogether but have been prevented from doing so by the dynamics of the family-controlled company, according to the source," the report said. Lucky for him I guess, too bad for his company

NBC News reported that Unanue confirmed to the New York Post that he was publicly shutting his yap, but insisted it was all his decision, thank you very much. "Independently, I've made the decision to lower the temperature and walk away from speaking about politics and religion," Unanue said according to the report. "I realize it's important because of the diverse views of the company and our market." Unanue is now missing from Twitter, but as I noted below, who knows when that exactly happened:

"I realize it's important because of the diverse views of the company and our market," Unanue claimed, but he sure wasn't thinking that when he claimed last summer that "we're all truly blessed" to have a "leader" like the the twice-impeached former president (although just once-impeached at that time). But instead of rethinking his words even in just a strictly business sense to appease his angry customer base, Unanue doubled-down and said that he said what he said.

In one of the dumbest moments in modern U.S. history—nah, let's say modern world history—the former president promoted the product right from the Oval Office, posing with a some beans and chocolate wafers lined up across the Resolute Desk like it was the Showcase Showdown from The Price is Right. Just a bit earlier, his daughter had also used her official position to promote the product.

Unanue later claimed that the subsequent boycott increased his sales "1,000%," I guess due to supporters of the previous president rushing to buy Goya after many angered Latinos said they were done with his product. At one point, a defiant Unanue said his company had named New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez an employee of the month after she'd been among the voices critical of his remarks. "When she boycotted us, our sales actually increased 1,000%, so we gave her an honorary—we never were able to hand it to her—she got employee of the month for bringing attention to Goya and our adobo," he'd said according to USA Today.

That's clearly a man who really hasn't been sorry or want to lower the temperature of anything. And that's fine, because if Unanue wants to trade his long-time customers for white supremacists who will hold the occasional "Taco Tuesday," that's his prerogative. And if former long-time customers continue to refuse to return to his product after the shit he's pulled, that's their prerogative too.

Devastating new DOJ report confirms Jeff Sessions refused to be interviewed on family separations

The Justice Department Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) has released the final version of a draft report obtained by NBC News in October that points to top Department of Justice (DOJ) officials, including former Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III and his deputy Rod Rosenstein, as "a driving force" in the Trump administration's decision to carry out the state-sanctioned kidnapping of thousands of children at the southern border.

The final report, which The New York Times reports is "largely the same as a draft," confirms Sessions, Rosenstein, and DOJ officials carried out the inhumane "zero tolerance" policy with no mercy. "Our review found that the Department's single-minded focus on increasing prosecutions came at the expense of careful and appropriate consideration of the impact that prosecution of family unit adults and family separations would have on children traveling with them and the government's ability to later reunite the children with their parents," DHS OIG said.

The final report confirms Sessions in particular as an evil, grinning participant in carrying out this human and children's rights atrocity. As detailed in the draft version, when U.S. attorneys expressed concern about the ages of children being taken from parents and that some parents were not being immediately reunited with their kids after being prosecuted and receiving time-served sentences, Sessions instead encouraged continued separations.

"The notes further recorded Sessions telling the U.S. Attorneys, 'we need to take away children; if care about kids, don't bring them in; won't give amnesty to kids; to people with kids' [strikethrough in original]," the watchdog report said. Seeking asylum—for those who care about pesky things called facts—is legal immigration, by the way.

But others were also eager to push full steam ahead. The report said that following former DHS Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen's issuance of the May 2018 memo authorizing family separation, border agents were told to use spreadsheets to track their kidnappings because there was no database in place. "One senior CBP official who participated in Zero Tolerance Policy planning meetings stated that key stakeholders had pressured DHS to implement the policy in early May 2018 before identified deficiencies in [the database] were resolved," the report said.

Oh, but some of these child-snatchers are now pointing fingers—when they're bothering to say anything at all. The inspector general said that Sessions refused numerous times to be interviewed and said the office had no power to force him to submit to an interview because he's a former official. Let's get the new Democratic Congress to look into that, shall we? Gene Hamilton, a current DOJ official, meanwhile said to blame Trump and Nielsen, claiming the decision to implement zero tolerance "would be between Secretary Nielsen and the President, and not the Department of Justice."

NBC News reports that following the release of the final watchdog report, Rosenstein issued a statement claiming regret. "Since leaving the department, I have often asked myself what we should have done differently, and no issue has dominated my thinking more than the zero tolerance immigration policy," he claimed. "It was a failed policy that never should have been proposed or implemented. I wish we all had done better."

There's no way that family separation could have been "done better" because it shouldn't have been done at all, and any chance for the administration to have shown regret has long passed. In just one example of how there's truly no remorse at all, the administration withheld additional contact information that could help reunite families that remain separated, disclosing it only last month after new attention was drawn to its inhumane policy.

The Trump administration created this policy, the Trump administration implemented this policy, the Trump administration led by White House aide and noted white supremacist Stephen Miller thought it was fucking brilliant policy, and the Trump administration would have continued this policy into even more horrific numbers if it had not been for universal condemnation and a federal judge's order. The Trump administration's demise following a historic electoral turnout isn't a time to move on—it's a time to hold it accountable.

"The Inspector General's investigation makes it clearer than ever: Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein and the Trump administration willfully disregarded the lives of innocent children in their xenophobic crusade to criminalize migrant families," Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden said in a statement received by Daily Kos. "The trauma of thousands of migrant kids is on their hands. Everyone involved in this cruel and ill-conceived policy must be held accountable. I am committed to working with my colleagues and the incoming Biden administration to repair the damage at our southern border and restore humanity to our immigration policy."

House Oversight and Judiciary chairs also issued a statement following the report's release, saying: "[i]t is imperative that we rectify these grave injustices, including by facilitating the reunification of these families in the United States as soon as possible and protecting them from detention and deportation. It is the very least we can do." Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union that have been assisting in reunification efforts also reiterated that separated families must be put on a path to citizenship.

"This was one of the worst human rights atrocities in American history," America's Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry told The Washington Post. "The full power of the state, with the support of the president and the Cabinet, was deployed to rip thousands of kids from their parents to deter them from seeking safety and freedom as refugees in America."

Texas paper slams Trump's border wall visit — calls him 'unhinged and unrepentant' after inciting mob

Soon-to-be-twice impeached Donald Trump is ending his white supremacist presidency the same way he started his campaign more than five years ago: racist, anti-immigrant fearmongering. Having basically gone into hiding after inciting a violent mob of seditionist supporters who ransacked the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results—and resulted in numerous deaths, including of a police officer—Trump is traveling to Texas on Tuesday to bluster about the border wall that Mexico never did end up paying for.

The Associated Press reports that missing from the visit will be unlawfully appointed acting DHS Sec. Chad Wolf, who resigned Monday. But following the D.C. attack (nice job securing the "homeland" there, Chad), elected officials, editorial boards, and border communities are demanding Trump stay away too. "Normally we would welcome a presidential visit to our state. Not now," the American-Statesman Editorial Board wrote. "Not by a president who is unhinged and unrepentant for the violent mob he sent last week to the Capitol."

"The stated reason for Trump's visit to Alamo is to tout his administration's work on the border wall and immigration," the American-Statesman Editorial Board continued. "Indeed, Trump is wrapping up his term on the same note that he launched his political career, stoking fear about immigrants and exaggerating his accomplishments."

June 16, 2015, will always live in infamy as the day he launched his presidential campaign by descending the escalators at Trump Tower to call Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists. "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best," he said. "They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

His comments were blatantly racist and disqualifying, but too many in the mainstream media were afraid to say so and instead merely labeled them "controversial." Worse yet, others dismissed them as a joke. It wasn't a joke or "controversial" to Mexicans and Mexican-Americans like me. He was talking about us. He talking about my parents and two older sisters, all born in Mexico. He was talking about me, the son of Mexican immigrants.

"Trump acts as if his legacy along the border will be construction of a 'beautiful' wall," American-Statesman continued. "In truth, his legacy is one of destruction: Crying children pulled from their parents' arms as part of his shocking family separation policy, with hundreds of kids still waiting to be reunited. Migrant kids dying in U.S. custody for lack of proper care. A shameful humanitarian crisis just south of the border as the U.S. turned its back on those who are lawfully seeking asylum. A degradation of America's values and standing in the world."

Now having incited a violent mob that my colleague David Neiwert writes was "intent on taking hostages and murdering them" and is now leading to an unprecedented second impeachment, Trump is returning to what he always goes to when desperate or in need of an ego boost: attacking immigrants (and doing it as likely his final trip in office).

"Rather than spend his last days in the Oval Office addressing the pressing Covid-19 pandemic and ensuring an orderly transition, Trump is doubling down on his xenophobic, white supremacist agenda," Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR) executive director Fernando García said in a statement received by Daily Kos. Indeed, the City of Alamo said in a statement it hasn't even been contacted about Trump's visit.

"His presence at the borderland is a provocation, and an act of violence in and of itself," García continued. "Border communities are calling for the dismantlement of the wall of shame, racism and white supremacy. The wall and all it represents have no place in our society, and Trump must be held accountable."

President-elect Joe Biden's victory and our wins in Georgia provide an opportunity to take both executive and legislative action to protect undocumented communities attacked by the outgoing administration. I hope Trump has the time of his wretched life at his precious wall Tuesday because Biden has also pledged to not build another foot of it—and because it was built using swindled funds and has caused "incalculable" harm in the borderlands, there's a strong case for knocking the motherfucker down. The human costs of Trump's racism, however, the fomenting of violence and the unleashing of white supremacist forces, will not be so easy to scale back. That's the "legacy" he's leaving us.

"It is a presidency that has prioritized sowing division, undermining our institutions and norms, and working tirelessly to marginalize the 'other,'" American Immigration Council policy counsel Aaron Reichlin-Melnick writes. "For Trump, there were no people more "other" than those who came to our border and asked for our help." He writes that that to truly "defeat Trumpism, as a nation we must embrace a more humane approach toward those who are different from us, one that respects the law and our obligations to the most vulnerable."

"The Biden administration can start by restoring humanitarian protection, and finally moving away from the deterrence-based mindsets of the past decades and create a truly welcoming process at the border," Reichlin-Melnick continued.


Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.