Gabe Ortiz

'It is now my turn to speak': Drag performer targeted by right-wing activist files defamation suit

Defenders of the Libs of TikTok social media account try to distance themselves from the real-world consequences of their hate campaigns by claiming that all the anti-LGBTQ harassment account does is share content made by others. But that’s simply a lie. The account singles out to its 1.5 million followers individuals who have done nothing except be openly or pro-LGBTQ.

The account also spreads blatant lies, one of which is now at the center of litigation. While the Libs of TikTok didn’t originate the lie that a drag performer at an Idaho Pride event this past summer had exposed himself to children in the audience, the account picked it up from right-wing blogger Summer Bushnell and spread it even after it had been debunked. It resulted in harassment, which is the goal of these right-wing actors.

That drag performer, Eric Posey, is now suing Bushnell. The Libs of TikTok account, meanwhile, is currently on yet another temporary suspension due to hateful conduct, raising questions about how it continues to violate Twitter’s policies but never seems to get permanently suspended.

“In June 2022, Summer Bushnell falsely stated that Eric Posey exposed his genitals to the public, including children, at Pride in the Park in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho,” the complaint stated. “Bushnell also doctored a video of Posey’s performance to make it look like he had in fact exposed himself. Bushnell knew that Posey did not expose himself, but she lied anyway to gain popularity on social media.

“Her plan worked: her false statements and doctored video received nearly 19 times more views than each of her prior 10 videos,” the complaint continued. “But Bushnell’s publicity was not free; it came at the expense of Posey’s reputation. He now sues her for defamation.”

“The video, which was debunked by local news two days after the event was held, led to harassment against Posey after it went viral on social media,” Media Matters said. But even after it was debunked, Libs of TikTok creator Chaya Raichik shared a tweet from Bushnell that outrageously and falsely labeled the performer a “pedophile.”

Media Matters said Posey was then bombarded by the anti-LGBTQ “groomer” slur popularized by Libs of TikTok and GOP operatives like Christina Pushaw, an aide to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. While Bushnell’s tweet was eventually removed, Media Matters said Libs of TikTok’s wasn’t. “Now Posey is suing Bushnell, claiming she defamed him in an effort to gain popularity as part of the nationwide effort to malign LGBTQ people and Pride Month events.”

And while Bushnell had based the tweet on an outright lie and called on her supporters to report Posey to police, “[a] subsequent police investigation cleared Posey of wrongdoing, and a city prosecutor said an unedited copy of the video showed no evidence of indecent exposure,” NBC News reports. “The allegations of indecent exposure, or other crimes cannot be supported by the evidence,” the prosecutor’s office said. “Therefore, prosecution is declined."

Of course, the goal was never to seek accountability, as nothing wrong had happened. The goal was to unleash a steady stream of harassment against an openly LGBTQ person living their life.

“When there are outlandish lies that are made public and recirculated and take on a life of their own, the person who the lie was about is harmed,” Posey’s attorney Wendy Olson told NBC News. “It has an impact on every single aspect of their life, every day. This disinformation is not true—it just needs to be stopped.”

Posey, who is known by the stage name of Mona Liza Million, said in a statement released by law firm Stoel Rives that “[a]fter three months of silence, it is now my turn to speak.”

“Despite being cleared of all wrongdoing, provocateurs have continued to spread the doctored video of my performance, not only defaming me, but also inciting a backlash towards the LGBTQIA+ community statewide. I have no choice but to take legal action to hold those responsible for the lies accountable for their actions. My hope is that this civil suit puts a stop to the hateful disinformation campaigns being waged in Idaho.”

”The suit seeks monetary damages from Bushnell for defamation and defamation by implication in an amount of more than $10,000,” Stoel Rives said. “Compensatory damages, attorney’s fees, and legal costs are requested, as is a jury trial.”

Biden Administration has reunited more than 400 separated migrant families

The Biden administration’s Family Reunification Task Force says that nearly 400 children cruelly ripped from their parents by the previous administration have now been reunited, marking a significant milestone in attempting to right the wrongs of one of the darkest moments in modern U.S. history.

Michelle Brané, a leading immigrant rights advocate who was appointed by the administration to head the task force, said that most of the parents who’ve been reunited with their children had been deported, NBC News’ Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff reported. Soboroff tweeted that more than 2,000 families members affected by the policy have been allowed to temporarily live in the U.S.

“More than 5,000 families were separated under Trump’s 2018 ‘zero tolerance’ policy and a 2017 pilot program and advocates estimate over 1,000 remain separated,” the report said. “Because the Trump administration did not keep records of which children were separated and where they were sent, the task force and lawyers working on behalf of separated families have had a difficult time identifying families to offer them the chance of reunification.”

Soboroff tweeted that the parents of 168 known children ripped away by the previous administration have still not been located. The parents of most of these kids have likely been deported. Soboroff said that officials have no contact information for three of these children. Remember that officials with the previous administration had claimed they had “a central database" that could quickly link children and parents, but that turned out to be a giant lie.

“We are thrilled for the hundreds of children who will finally be with their parents after all these years, but we are not even halfway through reuniting all the families that remain separated by the Trump administration,” American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt told NBC News. "And indeed, we still haven’t located nearly 200 families. I think the Biden administration would agree that there’s a lot of work yet to be done.”

Deported parents have been returned to the U.S. by the administration under a process known as humanitarian parole, which allows them to live here for period of three years. The president has said he supports permanent legal status for separated families, but that’ll only be possible through the backlogged asylum system, or congressional action. Lawmakers including Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro have previously introduced legislation that would accomplish that, but it has failed to advance.

“While we applaud the Biden admin's efforts to reunite families separated by the cruel Zero Tolerance policy, Congress must provide the resources necessary to facilitate future reunions and help families heal from the trauma of their separation,” tweeted Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). Brané told NBC News that “many of the families have suffered from profound mental health issues after their separation and counseling is often needed before they reunify.”

Both “M.S.E.” and “J.M.,” the mother and son from the recent lawsuit, were traumatized by the policy. M.S.E., as she’s identified in court documents, said her son appeared “withdrawn” and “very sad for a long time. He even began cutting himself,” documents said.

“J.M. still hurts from the separation. He still remembers it vividly and viscerally: he feels great pain in his chest and throat when he thinks about it. Now 19 years old, J.M. continues to struggle with the damage the separation caused, stating, ‘I’m big now, so I try to be strong. But I still feel broken inside.’”

Watch: Spanish-language ads targeting Marco Rubio on immigration inaction feature surprising voice

The pro-immigrant voicemail once left by Sen. Marco Rubio’s mother to her son is at the center of Spanish-language ads calling out his failure to permanently protect immigrant families in his state, and across the nation.

“This is advice from the person who loves you most in the world,” says a voice portraying the late Oriales García Rubio. “Please don’t mess with the immigrants. They are human beings just like us, and they came to the country for the same reasons that we came: to work, to improve their lives. Don’t hurt them. Poor little ones.”

The Florida Immigrant Coalition Votes (FLIC Votes) notes that Rubio formerly touted the voicemail to reporters, playing the recording for TIME Magazine in 2013. That same outlet even hailed him as “The Republican Savior” that same year. But nearly a decade later, Rubio has failed to heed the advice given to him in the message.

“Rubio himself comes from a family of immigrants who came to the United States in the 1950’s,” FLIC Votes said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “Rubio has publicly stated his family ‘immigrated to America with little more than the hope for a better life’; yet the senator has failed to support policies to protect immigrants, instead has supported policies that attack them and separate families.”

As previously noted, Rubio has in recent years failed to support humane immigration bills putting undocumented immigrants on a path to legalization, including hundreds of thousands of people in the state of Florida.

While three Florida Republicans were among the nine GOP members overall who last year voted for the Dream and Promise Act—a bill that would protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, Temporary Protected Status holder, and farmworkers—Rubio did nothing to help advance the legislation in the Senate.

“Even though the senator seems to have forgotten his immigrant roots, prioritizing his political aspirations, his mother certainly didn’t,” FLIC Votes continued. TIME Magazine’s Michael Grunwald reported at the time that García Rubio’s heartfelt, Spanish-language message reminded her son that “undocumented Americans—los pobrecitos, she called them, the poor things—work hard and get treated horribly.”

This voicemail would not prove to be the last time an immigrant mother urged Rubio to use his power to protect families.

As previously noted, a group of immigrant moms confronted Rubio on Capitol Hill in 2013, worried over rumors that he was walking away from the comprehensive immigration reform package he was supposedly championing. “I am the author of this bill, this proposal,” a flustered Rubio told the mothers, adding that he didn’t understand why he was being asked to commit to himself. But the moms’ fears were absolutely right. By 2016, Rubio had voted for a mass deportation president.

“Marco Rubio is a political chameleon, constantly shifting positions depending on whatever is politically convenient for him at any time,” FLIC’s Thomas Kennedy told Daily Kos. “In 2013, he supported immigration reform but ultimately voted against his own bill because of pressure from the tea party.” But Rubio has gone even further: During his failed presidential run, he endorsed an end to the popular DACA program.

“His own mother begged him in a voicemail released to the public ‘not to mess with the immigrants,’” Kennedy continued. “He didn’t listen and now he has embraced the full nativism and anti-immigrant hysterical vitriol of Trump’s Republican Party.”

Border Patrol union chief promotes racist 'replacement theory' in Fox News interview

The Border Patrol’s union has consistently been up to no good. In just a couple of examples, it records its podcast in a studio owned by white supremacist rag Breitbart. The two actually enjoy quite a cozy relationship, with a local chapter of the union awarding the racist outlet for its “reporting” back in 2015.

But the union also makes no secrets of its despicable views, after union president Brandon Judd went onto Fox News to openly promote racist “replacement theory.”

In the clip, both Fox News host Bill Hemmer and Judd are fuming over the Biden administration’s decision to terminate the Stephen Miller Title 42 order that for more than two years now has effectively stomped on U.S. asylum law.

"Sir, why do you think this administration has allowed virtually an open border?" Hemmer asks Judd, once again exposing the conundrum Republicans have created for themselves. Literally from the start of the Biden administration, they’ve lied and declared “open borders” as a political attack. But now that the administration is moving to restore asylum access—a just decision that we should celebrate—they’re acknowledging the presence of Title 42 as a border control measure (though the policy has been a failure in multiple ways, see why here).

But I digress. "I believe that they're trying to change the demographics of the electorate, that's what I believe they’re doing" Judd responds to Hemmer. "They want to stay in power and the only way to stay in power is to continue to get elected."

My colleague David Neiwert has previously described this “replacement” talk as “a conspiracy theory claiming that white people are selectively ‘replaced’ by nonwhite immigrants.” It’s white supremacist conspiracy theory, and it’s being promoted by the president of the union for border agents. This is, to say the least, very worrying.

But it’s not like Judd hasn’t already exhibited worrying behavior, earlier this year appearing in an ad where a right-wing candidate from Arizona shot at actors portraying the president, Speaker Pelosi, and Sen. Mark Kelly.

Let’s also not pretend the white supremacist “replacement theory” spouted during this interview was an aberration. Tucker Carlson has been a longtime fan, and has been echoed by top Republicans like Elise Stefanik. National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Rick Scott has gotten very close to it, after claiming that he’s eager to welcome “immigrants who want to be Americans, not change America.”

Nor are they one bit sorry about running on racism. I mean, it’s all they have. “After national press attention condemning Stefanik's use of the white nationalist 'replacement theory' in her Fbook ads warning of an ‘election insurrection’ ... she has doubled down and is STILL running these ads,” America’s Voice Political Director Zachary Mueller noted last fall.

New study reveals the 'deep and detrimental costs' of LGBTQ+ conversion therapy

The mental and physical health effects of harmful “conversion therapy” have long been clear and established. Now we also know of severe financial repercussions stemming from this debunked practice, a first-of-its-kind, peer-reviewed study says.

The research, conducted by LGBTQ youth suicide prevention organization Trevor Project and health economists with multinational research organization Cytel, finds so-called conversion therapy has cost upward of $9 billion annually. This includes the cost of the debunked practice itself and its associated harms.

“This alarming study illustrates that subjecting LGBTQ young people to conversion therapy continues to have deep and detrimental costs from both a humanistic and economic standpoint,” The Trevor Project Executive Director Amit Paley said.

The study, published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics on March 7, said the direct costs of the debunked practice itself are estimated at about $650 million annually.

“However, the study finds that the harms associated with the practice, such as substance abuse and negative mental health outcomes, including depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts, are significantly higher—an estimated $8.58 billion annually; bringing the total estimated cost of conversion therapy to $9.23 billion annually,” Trevor Project and Cytel researchers said.

Research from Trevor Project has previously found that nearly 40% of LGBT youth have “seriously considered” suicide, including more than half of trans or non-binary youth. Debunked conversion therapy only worsens this, with research finding that youth who have been subjected to this practice are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide as those who were not.

While some states have taken major steps to to clamp down on this harmful practice, like Virginia in 2020, other states are taking bigoted actions in GOP-led efforts. In Florida, Republican lawmakers made early 1960s-era singer and notorious bigot Anita Bryant proud by passing a Don’t Say Gay bill. In Texas, Greg Abbott and corrupt attorney general Ken Paxton are leading an inquisition against trans kids and their families.

Texas’ is explicitly a pro-death agenda, with the state removing LGBT youth suicide prevention resources from the Health Department website. NBC News reports it’s not the first time that happened either.

“In August, following criticism from one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Republican primary challengers, Texas officials removed a webpage titled ‘gender identity and sexual orientation’ and a page devoted to Texas Youth Connection, a program run by the Department of Family and Protective Services, which included a link to The Trevor Project.” Believe officials by not just their words, but also their actions.

“The mental health risks of conversion therapy have long been suspected, but this scientific research quantifies, for the first time, the staggering cost of this therapy in financial terms,” said Dr. Anna Forsythe, the study’s principal scientist. Casey Pick, Trevor Project Senior Fellow for Advocacy & Government Affairs, said “we must ensure that taxpayers’ dollars are never again spent on this dangerous and discredited practice and that we are instead investing in LGBTQ-inclusive health and education programs to uplift the well-being of LGBTQ youth.”

We should also remember the immediate actions we can take in our own lives to be better allies to LGBT people. “If you want to support LGBTQ+ folks in your life, consider reading up on how to use gender-neutral pronouns and some starting points on how to show up for trans friends and family members,” Daily Kos’ Marissa Higgins wrote last year. Click here for the full Trevor Project and Cytel study.

These local agreements between ICE and sheriffs continue to terrorize immigrant communities

Maira Oviedo-Granados, an asylum-seeker living in Knoxville, Tennessee, dialed 911 for help when a jealous and previously violent boyfriend tried to attack her on Nov. 7, 2020. She managed to lock herself and her three children in a bedroom as she told the operator through an interpreter that he was armed.

The operator asked if the boyfriend had struck her. "Interpreter on behalf of Oviedo-Granados: 'No, not the kids, but he has me,'" Knox News reports. She told the operator he hadn't hit her at that time because a friend was there. But once officers arrived, it was Oviedo-Granados who was eventually detained under a flawed, racist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program. She's now suing.

That program, 287(g), allows local law enforcement to act as mass deportation agents. ICE purports that the policy serves "tremendous benefit to public safety," when it actually does the exact opposite, harming people like Oviedo-Granados.

She was initially detained after her boyfriend, an Anglophone, claimed she hit him. WBIR reports a judge dismissed that charge after reading the 911 transcript. Knox News reports Oviedo-Granados would be "separated from her three children from November 2020 through early January, mostly inside a detention facility in Louisiana, causing severe trauma, according to the lawsuit." She should not have been targeted in the first place, with a pending asylum claim.

"For years, immigrant activists said 287(g) would make residents less safe because they'd be afraid to call 911," tweeted Knox News reporter Tyler Whetstone. But sheriffs "dismissed this fear." Knox News additionally reports that the sheriff's 287(g) agreement might have been unlawfully implemented, because these agreements first require local approval. "Here that would mean the Knox County Commission. The commission never approved it."

287(g) agreements across the country shouldn't exist period, having resulted in "widespread" racial profiling in addition to family separation, the American Immigration Council has said. The group's report said a Justice Department investigation "found that deputies of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio routinely conducted 'sweeps' in Latino neighborhoods, and that Latino drivers in certain parts of Maricopa County were up to nine times more likely to be stopped than non-Latino drivers. Following the investigation, the Obama administration terminated Maricopa County's 287(g) agreement."

The Immigrant Defense Project's ICE Out of Courts Coalition said in 2019 that it had found a nearly 80% surge in abusers weaponizing ICE against their victims, in yet another reason to end these agreements (and the agency itself). While President Joe Biden campaigned on ending 287(g) agreements implemented by the previous administration, "the promise remains unfulfilled," Immigration Impact said in June. Biden's nominee to officially lead ICE, Texas Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, would the next month say that it would "not be [his] intent to end the policy," calling his own decision to terminate his agreement a "local decision."

Dozens of House Democrats have previously joined immigrant rights advocates in urging an end to the policies, saying they "turn local law enforcement agencies into a gateway to deportation." The Biden administration should listen. "People should not risk being jailed or criminalized for seeking help," the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted in response to Oviedo-Granados' story. "The 287(g) immigration programs are ineffective, outdated, and wrong. They must end immediately."

Federal investigation finds a key part of the 2020 Republican National Convention was illegal

Remember back in August 2020 when former unlawfully appointed acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf presided over a political stunt that used immigrants as human props as part of an effort to reelect the previous president? A number of the immigrants who were sworn in as U.S. citizens in that White House naturalization ceremony would later say they weren't informed prior to the stunt that it would be broadcast as part of the Republican National Convention.

Plenty of experts at the time said it was a corrupt and illegal act. We didn't need an official investigation to figure that out. It was right there in front of our eyes. But we do have one now.

Daily Kos' Mark Sumner reported on Wednesday that the Office of Special Counsel has determined that at least 13 officials with the previous administration violated the Hatch Act, "illegally mixing campaign and government events." Among those named is, unsurprisingly, Unlawful Chad. The Office of Special Counsel said in the report that the administration had been warned repeatedly that such an event would be unlawful. The stunt went on anyway.

"As late as 10 a.m.on the morning of the ceremony—just 45 minutes prior to the event—the DHS ethics official emailed DHS leadership, including the [DHS General Counsel] stating that Acting Secretary Wolf should not participate in the ceremony." Unlawful Chad feigned ignorance in his written statement to the Office of Special Counsel, claiming he "did not know whether video of the ceremony was going to be made publicly available or that it would be used at the Republican National Convention."

"Although the OSC could not prove that Wolf knew the ceremony would be part of the convention, it makes very clear that Wolf would have been hard-pressed not to know that," noted The Washington Post's Philip Bump. The Office of Special Counsel does note that "circumstantial evidence strongly supports the conclusion that he knew, or should have known, of its intended use by the White House."

Why are we giving crooks the benefit of the doubt anyway? This would not be the only time Unlawful Chad would corruptly use his (unlawfully appointed) office to campaign for the previous president, basically carrying out a tour in the final days leading into the 2020 election. In Arizona, he falsely claimed the inhumane and unlawful Reman in Mexico policy created "a safer and more orderly process along the Southwest border." Human rights advocates have documented the policy, which resulted in over 1,500 instances of violence against asylum-seekers. In Texas, Unlawful Chad held a campaign event next to updated border wall. That was just five days before Election Day, Border Report said.

"Taken together, the report concludes that the violations demonstrate both a willingness by some in the Trump administration to leverage the power of the executive branch to promote President Trump's reelection and the limits of OSC's enforcement power," the Office of Special Counsel said in a release. None of this even gets into how the previous administration used the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ceremony for this political stunt after spending years decimating the office.

Following the previous president's electoral defeat, USCIS was reportedly among the agencies forbidden from having any contact with President Joe Biden's transition team. It would not be until Biden's administration that USCIS would have a Senate-confirmed director for the first time in two years.

One other character found to have violated the Hatch Act is former aide and noted white supremacist Stephen Miller, who during a media appearance "mocked candidate Biden as being under the control of '23-year-old' campaign staff." It's a scant mention in the report for someone who was the architect of some of our nation's most inhumane immigration policies—and has never been held accountable for it. And likely will never be. "I think Stephen Miller should be behind bars," Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar said earlier this year. Instead, there's an active campaign to block any justice for separated families.

GOP governors ignore COVID-19 cases in their states to join Greg Abbott for yet another border stunt

Republican governors whose states continue to be hard hit by COVID-19 infections have been diligently working … at demonizing asylum-seekers at the southern border. Nine right-wing governors joined Gov. Greg Abbott for a photo op in south Texas on Wednesday. There, they were armed "with an array of military vehicles in the background," USA Today reported. And they used the stunt to push the usual xenophobic bullshit demonizing children and families who've sought safety at our border.

"The crisis on the southern border, in many ways, is a war," later claimed Kristi Noem, Republican governor of noted southern border state South Dakota. She added that's why she "sent our National Guard to help secure it." But that move, much like her appearance at the border this week, was also a stunt. Meanwhile, Idaho's Gov. Brad Little complained in a press release that President Joe Biden had refused to meet with him and other Republicans. I can't imagine why in the world the president would ever refuse to meet with Idaho about the southern border.

Meanwhile, South Dakota has seen an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, Valley News Live reported. In Idaho, "the coronavirus took the life of a member of the lieutenant governor's education task force that examined supposed indoctrination in Idaho schools over the summer," Idaho Statesman reported on Thursday. The report said that the state surpassed 3,000 deaths this week.

"The cynicism of this ploy couldn't be more obvious," immigrant rights advocacy group America's Voice said in a statement. "They deny and dismiss the ravages of COVID-19. They want to distract from their failure to protect their state's residents. So they fly to Texas to stage a PR stunt for the Fox News cameras. Meanwhile, COVID runs wild in their states with transmission rates being some of the highest in the country."

It's also bad-faith ploy from leaders who've made their xenophobic stances crystal-clear. The office of Nebraska's Gov. Pete Ricketts was forced to clarify remarks he made earlier this year claiming that undocumented workers at the state's meatpacking plants wouldn't be eligible for the vaccine because they don't work there. Oh, plenty do. Iowa's Gov. Kim Reynolds, meanwhile, has spread the "immigrants bring disease" lie, claiming that "[p]art of the problem is the southern border is open and we've got 88 countries that are coming across the border and they don't have vaccines," NBC News reported in July.

This is a racist trope most recently debunked by Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president. "When you have 700,000 Americans dead and millions and millions and millions of Americans getting infected, you don't want to look outside to the problem. The problem is within our own country," he said during a CNN interview last weekend. "Certainly immigrants can get infected, but they're not the driving force of this, let's face reality here." When asked if there was any truth to polling results finding 55% of Republicans believe that immigrants are to blame for infections, Fauci replied, "No, absolutely not."

Meanwhile, what gets too often ignored are the abuses facing Black asylum-seekers and migrants in particular. Just days ago, nine Black immigrants filed a civil rights complaint over dangerous conditions while in federal immigration custody. That's a humanitarian crisis. But you didn't hear calls urging their release during this stunt at the border this week. "Whether DHS's violence is highly public at the border, or behind closed doors in detention, we understand how devastating interacting with DHS can be for Black immigrants," said UndocuBlack Network Interim Policy and Advocacy Director Breanne Palmer.

"Gov. Abbott and the rest of the governors stuffed in the Republican clown car haven't taken COVID seriously since the pandemic began. Their goal is not to protect human life but to stir up racial animus," said Mario Carrillo, Texas-based campaigns manager for America's Voice. "Instead of promoting measures to help their citizens protect themselves from the pandemic, these governors are scapegoating immigrants and politicizing public health. They are putting the health of their political careers ahead of the health of their citizens."

Carrillo also called out GOP officials for complaining plenty but having no humane or good-faith solutions charted out. "Republicans are completely uninterested in working on a bipartisan basis to constructively solve the challenges with a broken immigration system," he continued. "The governors' press conference today is more proof that for Republicans the border is all about politics, not substance."

'Defies common decency': Schumer calls on Biden admin to halt Haitian deportations, end Title 42

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer forcefully condemned the Biden administration's mass deportation of Haitian asylum-seekers and migrants, as well as its continued use of the previous administration's scientifically unsound and unlawful anti-asylum Title 42 policy. The speech, delivered from the Senate chamber on Tuesday, represents one of the most significant criticisms of the administration's actions yet.

"Right now, I am told there are four flights scheduled to deport these asylum seekers back to a country that cannot receive them. Such a decision defies common sense. It also defies common decency," Schumer said. Per CBS News, the Biden administration deported 523 Haitians on those four deportation flights, with another four scheduled for Wednesday.

Haitian asylum-seekers have been among the at least 700,000 people deported by the Biden administration under the anti-asylum Title 42 policy, revealed last October to have been implemented under political pressure by the previous administration. "The top Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doctor who oversees these types of orders had refused to comply with a Trump administration directive saying there was no valid public health reason to issue it," the Associated Press reported.

Despite this fact, the Biden administration announced in August it was continuing the flawed policy. To the dismay of asylum-seekers, their advocates, and all who believe in U.S. asylum law, the administration last week appealed a court decision that had ordered it to stop using the policy to deport families. In his remarks on Tuesday, Schumer joined the chorus of voices urging the administration to respect the U.S. asylum rights of vulnerable people and end the policy once and for all.

"I urge President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to immediately put a stop to these expulsions and to end this Title 42 policy at our southern border," Schumer said. "We cannot continue these hateful and xenophobic Trump policies that disregard our refugee laws. We must allow asylum seekers to present their claims at our ports of entry and be afforded due process."

Schumer also condemned racist abuse committed by border agents, saying "[w]e've all seen these horrible images coming from our southern border as Haitian asylum-seekers—simply looking to escape tyranny and the problems that they have in their country—have been met at our doorstep with unimaginable indignity. Images of Haitian migrants being hit with whips and other forms of physical violence is completely unacceptable. This behavior must be addressed and we must provide accountability. The images turn your stomach. It must be stopped, this kind of violence."

So must the deportations and Title 42. "First, the facts. Haitians, like all people, have a legal right to seek asylum in the United States," UndocuBlack Network co-director Patrice Lawrence wrote on CNN. "What should the United States do? It should honor the law on asylum and allow these migrants to exercise their rights. The United States has the tools to ensure an orderly and fair process to determine each asylum seeker's case. We have done this before: From 1980 to 1990, the United States processed more than 100,000 Cubans seeking safety during the Mariel boatlift. And this was done under a Republican administration."

"The moral argument is even clearer," Lawrence continued. "Haitians have gone through tremendous hardship and are asking only for the opportunity to exercise their right to seek asylum. Groups like Haitian Bridge Alliance stand ready to assist those seeking safety, as do dozens of religious and non-religious community partners."

Dozens of lawmakers led by House Haiti Caucus co-chair Ayanna Pressley and Rep. Nydia Velázquez have previously called on the Biden administration to halt Haitian deportations, writing that the nation's "ability to safely receive its citizens will take months, if not years, to secure." Like Lawrence noted, the Biden administration acknowledged that in designating Haiti for Temporary Protected Status earlier this year. The Biden administration should be respecting the fundamental asylum rights of Haitians, not deporting them back to harm and unsafe conditions.

"I commit to work with this administration to providing the resources so that we can establish safe, orderly, and humane processes for those seeking protection," Schumer concluded in his remarks. "Again, the policies that are being enacted now—and the horrible treatment of these innocent people who have come to the border—must stop immediately."

Fox News has been setting up a new 'Big Lie' in case the GOP loses California's recall race

More recent polling indicates that California Gov. Gavin Newsom may survive the GOP recall and block the ascendance of a know-nothing radio show host who once served as a mentor to a young Stephen Miller. No matter what the polling says, the fact is that Larry Elder poses an existential threat to the state (and nation), and Californians must get out and vote no on recall.

Right-wing propagandists are also acting—but not necessarily to get out the vote. Media Matters reports that Fox News has already deployed a State Big Lie, telling its viewers that if Newsom defeats the GOP recall, it's because Democrats cheated. Within a roughly two-week period, several Fox News personalities and guests, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, "painted a lurid picture of vast election fraud in California."

Some claimants tried to be slick, like Fox News Primetime rotating host and former MTV Real World San Francisco contestant Rachel Campos-Duffy. Media Matters reported that while she brought up supposed voter fraud during an interview with Elder this week, it was to merely say that he was the one who had supposedly been concerned about it. Elder had no specific examples when prompted—of course, he didn't—but it didn't really matter. Campos-Duffy talked about it, Elder talked about it, it doesn't matter if the claims are bullshit, the job got done.

Meanwhile, others were not so slick. Media Matters reports that Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren claimed on Outnumbered that "[t]he only thing that will save Gavin Newsom is voter fraud," and that "it's going to have big consequences not only for that state but for upcoming elections." Oh, so not only is there a State Big Lie, but they're going to use it to further Future Big Lies. "It's not just Tami—baseless allegations of cheating and voter fraud are all across Fox News' discussions of the CA recall, laying the conspiratorial groundwork to allege it was stolen if it doesn't go their way," tweeted Media Matters' Lis Power.

"Some in media have argued that these right-wing talking points picked up recently because the early statistics on returned ballots have indicated that Democratic voters are not sitting the election out, and therefore the groundwork must be laid for a conspiracy theory to explain a possible Republican loss," the report said. But it noted that the disgraced former House speaker and continued blowhard was pushing these lies during an Aug. 22 appearance on Sunday Morning Futures, claiming Vice President Kamala Harris is "part of raising the money to pay for the cheating. I mean, it's just that simple. It's not complicated."

That's a pretty big fucking claim, and a responsible journalist would ask for receipts. But this is Fox News, and, specifically, Maria Bartiromo. "That is so extraordinary," she responded to Gingrich. "And that is the reason we continue to focus on all of these audits going on across the country. We want fair and free elections."

Polling earlier this year showed a frighteningly tight race, with a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies survey co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times finding that 50% of California voters opposed the GOP recall. One poll since then, by the Public Policy Institute of California, showed about 57% of likely voters, including 66% of likely Latino voters, opposing the GOP recall. "Democrats account for more than half of the 6.4 million ballots turned in as of Tuesday, while Republicans account for just under a quarter, according to Political Data Inc., a firm that uses state, county, and commercial data to analyze the electorate," the LA Times reported.

The report said that Democrats are also seeing "a towering advantage in money," in fact "more than three times as much as the pro-recall forces and the GOP candidates combined." That's all fine and dandy, but it's not over until it's over, and there's more work to do (even if you don't live in California) to ensure this GOP recall is defeated. Click here for both virtual and in-person get-out-the-vote opportunities. And remember, if you're an eligible California voter and haven't yet cast your ballot, vote "no" on the GOP recall.

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$2 billion swindled by Trump admin for border wall construction returned to Pentagon

The Biden administration has announced that it will return more than $2 billion in funds swindled by the previous administration for its stupid border wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for. In a statement Friday, the White House said "[b]uilding a massive wall that spans the entire southern border and costs American taxpayers billions of dollars is not a serious policy solution or responsible use of Federal funds."

The administration said funds will be restored to dozens of projects both in the U.S. and around the world, including the Spangdahlem Elementary School in Germany. "The school, which currently supports over 600 military children, lacks proper air conditioning, plumbing, and security systems and was due for replacement when the prior administration diverted funds to the wall," the White House said.

President Biden had on Day One ordered a pause to wall construction while his administration reviewed the project, an order that some builders appeared to violate. In footage shot by Tucson Samaritans in February, bulldozers and an excavator could be seen tearing into the Pajarito Mountains in Arizona. "They're leveling mountains & destroying jaguar habitat in an apparent violation of Biden's order to halt construction," borderlands campaigner Laiken Jordahl tweeted. "@POTUS must investigate & stop this madness for good. Footage shot by Tucson Samaritans."

CNN reports that in testimony to Congress last week, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials said it was in the process of cancelling nearly two dozen border wall contracts. "We have 20 contracts that we've terminated for the government's convenience," CNN reports Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon told members of the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Development subcommittee. "And we're in negotiations now with each of those 20 vendors to work through what those final bills will be."

The White House also said it would be using appropriated funds "to address urgent life, safety, and environmental issues" stemming from wall construction. "For instance, DHS has already started work to repair the Rio Grande Valley flood protection system that the prior administration compromised, and to remediate dangerous soil erosion due to improper soil compaction along a 14-mile wall segment in San Diego, California," the administration said.

Environmental justice organizations that have called on the administration to address environmental and wildlife issues stemming from construction (as well as called on the president to remove certain border fencing) applauded the decision. "This is a welcome, sensible next step to begin healing the devastation that Trump inflicted on the borderlands," Center for Biological Diversity Senior Policy Land Specialist Paulo Lopes told the Associated Press (AP). Nearly 70 tribal groups and environmental and civil rights organizations in February called on the Biden administration to tear down nearly 60 miles of fencing in Arizona.

But as that report also notes, "[t]he administration doesn't explicitly say it won't build any new wall." The White House in its statement called on Congress to cancel remaining funds it had previously appropriated for barrier construction. "Although most of the funds used for the border wall were diverted from other purposes, Congress provided DHS with some funding for border barrier projects. DHS is legally required to use the funds consistent with their appropriated purpose," the White House said.

CBS News further reports that about 140 eminent domain cases remain open—and the Biden administration may still proceed on a number of them. Texas Civil Rights Project, which has defended a number of landowners against seizures by the federal government, in February called on the Biden administration's Justice Department to dismiss all remaining cases.

"President Biden can permanently suspend all wall construction and order the Department of Justice to dismiss all lawsuits, return lands taken under the lawsuits, as well as cancel all contracts," the group said in Rio Grande Guardian at the time. "This is the first step to rebuild the border communities, including the Rio Grande Valley, that have been destroyed under Trump and so many other administrations."

Mobile billboard in West Virginia urges Manchin to champion Dream Act passage

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of West Virginia ran a mobile billboard outside the local offices of Sen. Joe Manchin, urging him to champion passage of the Dream Act, bipartisan legislation that would put young undocumented immigrants on a path to citizenship. In a picture tweeted by the organization, a billboard reading "Sen. Joe Manchin: Congress must act to protect Dreamers" is seen passing directly in front of one of his offices.

Advocates launched the mobile billboards as recent polling shows that majority of voters in the state—nearly two-thirds—support legalization for young undocumented immigrants. The polling further found that more than half of voters in the state also support citizenship for undocumented essential workers, with another half overall saying they believe immigrants make their state a better place to live.

"Senator Manchin recently expressed support for the Dream Act, stating that 'we have children that came here that have no other home but America. There should be a pathway for that, for our Dreamers,'" the ACLU of West Virginia said in a statement.

While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has reportedly been "actively exploring" passing immigration legislation through reconciliation, it would require approval from the chamber parliamentarian and support from a united Senate Democratic caucus, including Manchin.

For only the second time since the program's creation in 2012, beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program gathered at the White House on Friday to meet with the president. Pointing to a looming court decision that could yet again put the program at risk, the six DACA recipients shared their stories and continued pressing for urgent, permanent legislative relief for undocumented communities.

"Our lives have been in limbo for far too long," Maria Praeli said in a statement received by Daily Kos. "Every day that goes by without Congress passing permanent legislative protections—for Dreamers and DACA recipients like me, TPS holders, farmworkers, and the entire undocumented population—is a day that hurts all of us. It is incredibly painful for our individual lives, for our families who live in fear of being separated from our loved ones, and for our country every day that Congress fails to act."

Joe Arpaio's racist shenanigans to soon cost taxpayers over $200 million

The total haul that Arizona taxpayers have been forced to shell out over Joe Arpaio's racist shenanigans as former Maricopa County sheriff will total over $200 million by next year, NBC News reports. Because the department under current sheriff Paul Penzone has been deemed close to—but not quite yet 100%—compliant with the court orders stemming from Arpaio's actions, officials have had to approve another $31 million until the department has been deemed fully abiding.

NBC News reports that the $31 million tentatively approved by local officials for the next fiscal year will bring the total cost that Arpaio has forced onto taxpayers to $202 million by 2022. "Taxpayers in Arizona's most populated county are on the hook for lawyer bills and the costs of complying with massive court-ordered overhauls of the sheriff's office after a 2013 verdict concluded Arpaio's officers had profiled Latinos in traffic patrols that targeted immigrants," the report said.

Arpaio, who was convicted in 2017 of criminal contempt of court for disobeying a federal judge's order to stop racially profiling Latino drivers, lost his reelection bid to Penzone just days after being charged but has continued to remain unrepentant, the NBC News report indicates. When pressed on the hundreds of millions of dollars he has cost taxpayers, the disgraced former sheriff pointed his finger at immigrants, because that's just what racists do.

"On Monday, Arpaio said he doesn't regret carrying out the immigration patrols and contends his crackdowns still helped reduce taxpayer costs for providing education and health care to immigrants in the United States illegally," the report said. Ah, sure. Even though it was Arpaio's choices that led to local taxpayers being slapped with a $200 million dollar bill that may very well keep rising, its undocumented immigrants who are actually the ones who caused the waste. Blame them, Arpaio wants us to know.

"It's a one-side type of story they (his critics) want to push out," NBC News reports Arpaio complained. "Don't blame me for the money being spent." But, to loosely paraphrase Bette Davis as Baby Jane Hudson yelling at Joan Crawford as Blanche Hudson in the classic movie Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, but it is, Joe, it is your fault!

The Associated Press reported last year that the $32 million approved for the current fiscal year made it the most expensive year in the case to date. In total, tens of millions have gone to independent officials monitoring the department and legal fees (Arpaio, of course, is on the hook for none of it), and other money going to hiring qualified staff, equipment, and training on how not to be a racist stormtrooper. Arpaio in the AP report again blamed someone else for his action's astronomical costs, but this time the judge who ordered the overhaul of his department.

Arpaio belonged in jail for the untold suffering he inflicted on immigrants and people of color in Maricopa County for years—he himself referred to his infamous tent city as a "concentration camp"—but was spared punishment following a pardon from the twice-impeached former president. At least a federal judge last year refused to also throw out his guilty verdict, so there's that. Verdict or no verdict, he's a guilt mfer.

Noemi Romero, one of the countless undocumented immigrants rounded up in Arpaio's terrorizing workplace raids, wondered in 2017 where her pardon was. "[O]ne day right before my lunch break, Arpaio's Sheriff's entered the store," she wrote in a diary here on Daily Kos. "They weren't looking for me but that didn't stop them from interrogating me, arresting me, and keeping me in their jail for sixty days while I awaited a trial that resulted in me being convicted of a felony and turned over to immigration agents for deportation. Because of a local group, Puente Arizona, and the work of my community I'm still here. But because of Arpaio's profiling and campaign against our families I have this extra mark against me now."

Community advisory board member Raul Piña told NBC News that while the costs are painful, they are necessary to preserve the rights and dignity of people who have spent years being targeted in Maricopa County. And he's right—injustice must be corrected. "Of course, we are tired of paying, but if you are a Hispanic vehicle operator, you are tired of being racially profiled at the same time—and the agency isn't in a rush to stop that," he said in the report.

Nearly two-thirds of West Virginia voters support citizenship for young undocumented immigrants

A new poll commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of West Virginia found that nearly two-thirds of voters in the state support the Dream Act, which creates a pathway to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants. While Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has expressed support for legalization, he has yet to cosponsor the bipartisan legislation in the Senate or support filibuster reform that would allow it to pass with a simple majority vote.

"These findings confirm what we hear from people every day across the state: West Virginians agree with Senator Manchin that Dreamers should be able to live their lives without fear of being deported away from their families, jobs, and communities," said Jackie Lozano of the ACLU of West Virginia immigrants' rights campaign. The organization has run a mobile billboard outside Manchin's offices in the state, urging him to support the legislation.

The polling, which was conducted by YouGov for the ACLU and ACLU of West Virginia, also found that more than half of voters in the state—56%—also support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented essential workers. A majority also supported the resettlement of refugees in their communities.

"Overall, 57 percent of West Virginia voters say that immigrants make their state a better place to live, including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and voters across age groups," a summary said.

While the House has passed permanent protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and other undocumented youth in the form of the Dream and Promise Act (this bill also protects certain other immigrants with temporary status), neither this bill nor the Dream Act have come to the Senate floor for a vote.

"Every day Congress doesn't act is another day that young people live in fear of being deported from the only country they've ever called home," Lozano continued. "The Senate has an obligation and an urgent mandate to provide certainty and opportunity for Dreamers and create stronger, more prosperous communities for all West Virginians."

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.

'Some were audibly coughing': Trump holds yet another superspreader event on his way out

The holiday season is a time for gathering with friends and family—just kidding. The 2020 holiday season is the season of staying the fuck home. Yes, it majorly sucks. Yes, we miss our family and friends and that super strong egg nog your favorite aunt makes. But staying home now means we're all around next year. It's what we have to do in order to help save lives. We care.

But certainly not all of us care. Case in point: the soon-to-be-former president of the United States. We all know he's damn well aware of the dangers of this pandemic, but truly does not care. He gets VIP treatment and never sees a bill and is immune for a while so why should he give a shit about the rest of us? That was again evidenced by the fact that as virus deaths keep climbing, the White House held a Christmas reception, CNN reports. But it gets even worse from there. So much worse.

CNN reports that the outgoing president did exactly what we'd expect him to do at a celebration marking the birth of Jesus Christ, which was to talk about himself. How he really won the presidential election (he lost). How it's all "a disgrace" (the election was secure, one of his own appointees said). How he deserves another four years (he doesn't, he didn't even deserve the four he got), and maybe just maybe he'll try again in four years (oh god please no). Then comes the kicker.

"The President addressed guests from the White House's grand staircase," the report continued. "Though several people were wearing masks, many were not and some were audibly coughing."

Audibly. Coughing. I mean, that the White House is creating yet another superspreader event shouldn't be a shock anymore but forgive me if I'm still floored at the fact that the White House is creating yet another superspreader event. On Christmas!

Daily Kos' Mark Sumner wrote this past October that following the White House's most notorious superspreader event to date, the Rose Garden ceremony formally introducing Amy Coney Barrett as a Supreme Court nominee, at least 11 tested positive. "Though some guests—notably those who sat near the back of the affair—chose to wear masks, most of those front and center came in mask-free."

Many—like at the White House Christmas event this week. And while those also choosing to go to a White House event during a pandemic should have also known better, that it was even being held right now is still most damning on this administration. Again, it truly does not care. Does not care. Which makes you wonder why it even bothered to hold it when outgoing first lady Melania Trump has already expressed such a distain for the holiday.

"I say that I'm working on Christmas and planning for the Christmas and they said, 'Oh, what about the children that they were separated?'" she said in audio recordings earlier this year. "Give me a fucking break." Give us all a fucking break and go away soon. And please wear your mask.

ICE expelled group of children under Stephen Miller policy just minutes after judge blocked it

A federal judge's ruling earlier this month blocking the Stephen Miller-led public health policy that the Trump administration has used to quickly kick out children should have immediately stopped the expulsion of a group of 33 kids who sat on a flight bound for Central America that same day. Should have. Instead, officials continued on with the flight.

BuzzFeed News reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement claims that agents didn't know about the ruling, which came shortly before the flight took off for Guatemala. It's hard to believe that ICE wasn't aware of an impactful decision stopping a policy that's already expelled children at least 13,000 times, or that a ruling was coming. I guess they don't carry phones or walkie talkies. It's also hard to believe ICE when it has a history of lying to both the courts and us.

ICE claims that agents became aware of Judge Emmet Sullivan's ruling only after they'd landed in Guatemala, but instead of keeping these children in custody and turning right back around for the U.S., they left them, BuzzFeed News continues. "It is unconscionable that they are leaving the kids there and that they did not immediately bring them back," Migration Policy Institute analyst Sarah Pierce said in the report.

ICE's clear rush to expel these 33 children could now result in officials being forced to return them to the U.S. (which is what should happen).

"Pratheepan Gulasekaram, a professor at Santa Clara University Law School, said ICE's repeated issues in court under the Trump administration could play a factor in this case if Sullivan assesses whether they violated his order," the report continued. "Federal court judges have complained that they were lied to by officials in cases involving immigration policy during the Trump administration."

This Centers for Disease Control and Protection policy using the novel coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to deny children seeking asylum their rights and quickly expel them from the U.S. has been outright evil. Experts at the agency reportedly pressed back on it at first, saying there was no valid public health reason for such an order. That's correct.

But under pressure from noted white supremacist Miller, soon-to-be-former vice president Mike Pence went to go bully agency director Robert Redfield, who caved. Pro-life, my ass. Sullivan's ruling this month subsequently blocked the policy, with advocates calling it "an important step in restoring the rights of unaccompanied children at the border."

That's what is supposed to happen—when ICE bothers to follow court rulings and the law. "This agency is run by terrible human beings," immigration attorney Charles Kuck tweeted. "FWIW, these officials knew Judge Sullivan was issuing this order. The plane left anyway."

Border wall has inflicted 'incalculable' damage on surrounding land: environmental activist

Laiken Jordahl of the Center for Biological Diversity writes in The New York Times that the damage impeached president Donald Trump's border wall has inflicted on the surrounding lands is "incalculable." The borderlands are home to precious wildlife, ecosystems, and monuments that are supposed to be protected by law. But the federal government gave itself the ability to waive away those protections, and the Trump administration has done this to devastating effect.

"Saguaro cactuses, some nearly a century old, in shards on the desert floor," Jordahl writes. "Jaguars, lost, because a metal wall has blocked their migratory path. Endangered species homeless because their critical habitats have been destroyed. Living and working along the U.S.-Mexico border means watching the surreal, slow-motion leveling of the wild and fragile ecosystems I've spent my career fighting to protect."

Jordahl writes that law passed by Congress in 2005 "included a provision that allows the secretary of homeland security to waive laws that the secretary deems an impediment to building walls and roads along U.S. borders." The Trump administration has done just that and "cast aside dozens of laws that protect clean air and water, endangered animals and Indigenous burial grounds to rush wall construction."

"So we've watched as this senseless, multibillion dollar vanity project ravages our state's beautiful wild lands," Jordahl continued. He writes that in just one example of the damage to wildlife, surveillance cameras captured a confused family of javelina stranded for hours at the fencing, looking for a way through. "Until recently, those animals could have walked under waist-high vehicle barriers," he said.

With President-elect Joe Biden vowing to stop construction of Trump's monument to racism on day one of his presidency, the outgoing administration is reportedly rushing to build—but in all actuality destroy—as much as possible before noon on January 20.

NPR reported that in the Guadalupe Canyon and the Coronado National Memorial areas of Arizona, "work crews are dynamiting the sides of pristine mountains and bulldozing access roads in this stunning landscape" for wall the administration likely won't have time to build. Jordahl, who has used social media to document the administration's intentional disregard of the region, called it "destruction for destruction's sake."

"The damage the border wall has inflicted in just the past year is incalculable," he continued in The Times. "Much of it will last forever. No amount of money could repay the O'odham and all Indigenous people of the borderlands for the sacred sites, cultural history and natural heritage that's been destroyed. To right these wrongs, we must start somewhere. Tearing down the wall would be a good start." Read his full piece here.

Los Angeles coroner announces independent inquiry into killing of 18-year-old by police

The Los Angeles County coroner's office announced on Tuesday that it will conduct a nearly unprecedented inquest into the police killing of 18-year-old Andrés Guardado, who was shot five times in the back by an LA County Sheriff's deputy this past summer. The independent inquest, which the coroner's office said will be overseen by a former court of appeals justice, is the first such investigation in more than three decades.

"The Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner is committed to transparency and providing the residents of Los Angeles County an independent assessment of its findings in this case," Los Angeles County Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner Jonathan Lucas said. "An inquest ensures that our residents will have an independent review of all the evidence and findings of our office and of the cause and manner of death of Mr. Guardado."

The statement from the Los Angeles County coroner's office said the inquest gives officials power to "subpoena relevant witnesses to testify and documents to present at the inquest," after which retired Justice Candace Cooper "will make findings related to the cause and manner of death." Cooper "will then forward her decision and recommendation to the Medical Examiner-Coroner," the coroner's office continued.

News of the inquest is welcome news for Guardado's family and advocates, who have slammed the secrecy and lack of transparency from the sheriff's department following his killing in June. In just one instance, Sheriff Alex Villanueva placed a hold on Guardado's case, which blocked his autopsy report from release. But in another "unusual move" from the coroner's office, CNN reported, "Dr. Lucas opted to remove the security hold and make Guardado's autopsy results public in July."

Both the independent autopsy performed at the request of Guardado's family and the coroner's office autopsy found that the 18-year-old was shot five times in the back by the sheriff's department. "These findings confirm what we have known all along," his family said according to LAist, "which is that Andrés was unjustifiably killed by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy."

That officer, Miguel Vega, has faced previous accusations of misconduct, including "making false statements in an investigation," the Los Angeles Times previously reported. Further damning information against the sheriff's department is court testimony from a sheriff's deputy identifying Vega and Chris Hernandez, the deputy with him when he shot and killed Guardado, as potential recruits for a racist and violent law enforcement gang.

When it comes to Villanueva, his "handling of the shooting and attempts to block information from being made public are among a laundry list of criticisms he has faced in recent months," the Los Angeles Times reports, "leading the county Board of Supervisors to narrowly approve a motion Tuesday to explore options that could lead to his removal from office."

A decision to criminally charge Vega and possibly Hernandez will be in the hands of new district attorney George Gascón, who has met with relatives of people killed by police and "promised to reopen a number of controversial shooting cases involving law enforcement officers that [outgoing district attorney Jackie] Lacey declined to prosecute," LA Times continued.

Guardado's family in June filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county, the sheriff's department, Vega, and Hernandez, alleging they "not only used unreasonable and excessive force in fatally shooting the young man but were possibly acting in connection and in agreement with members of one or more LASD gangs of which they may be affiliated," a release said. "The complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of Elisa and Cristobal Guardado, seeks to hold the defendants accountable for violating various civil rights as well as the California Bane Act that resulted in the execution of 18-year-old decedent, Andres Guardado."

State Department employees outraged after Pompeo addresses group supporting 'ex-gay' therapy

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is consistently among the most Trump-like of the impeached president's corrupt, trollish officials—and he continued to cement that status after reportedly ignoring internal protests from his own department employees in order to address a right-wing religious organization that supports so-called "ex-gay" therapy, the Miami Herald said.

The report said that Pompeo's speech to the Florida Family Policy Council, a group also affiliated with several other anti-LGBTQ organizations, was covered in red flags, including staffers finding links to conversion therapy—which is torture—on the group's site, as well as anti-gay flyers at the location where the speech was to take place. So Mike—ever-conscious about his employees and his department's alleged pro-LGBTQ efforts—cancelled the speech, right? Nah. He not only continued on with it, he promoted it.

The Miami Herald reports that "[o]ne source described several aides as 'appalled' the event still took place despite the concerns, and that afterward, the secretary highlighted his appearance in his latest 'Miles with Mike' message to department employees." A State Department spokesperson tried to soothe alarm over the speech by later claiming that Pompeo honestly had no idea about the concerns, which maybe someone somewhere would believe if this administration didn't lie like it was going out of style.

Then there's also Mike's record. "Before joining the Trump administration, first as CIA director and then as secretary of State, Pompeo made his views on LGBTQ rights explicit," Mother Jones noted, "opposing same-sex marriage and once alluding to homosexuality as a 'perversion.'" During a Senate confirmation hearing in 2018, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker pressed Pompeo on the term, and asked him if he stood by it. "Senator, when I was a politician, I had a very clear view on whether it was appropriate for two same-sex persons to marry," Pompeo replied. "I stand by that."

Of course, working for a thrice-married adulterer is apparently just fine and dandy. Anyway, that Republicans still continue to tout this administration as pro-LGBTQ is laughable, and made all the more ridiculous considering one pro-LGBTQ effort the administration touts actually belonged to the previous administration. Awkward.

"[T]here was of course no policy that the Trump administration created to fight decriminalization of homosexuality overseas," writer and activist Michelangelo Signorile noted this past summer. "As I wrote in The Washington Post, the Trump administration is simply continuing existing State Department policy put in place by the Obama administration and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in particular—in stark contrast to most domestic pro-LGBTQ polices, which the Trump administration rolled back."

But hey, the Trump campaign enlisted Tiffany Trump to mangle the term "LGBTQ" at a "Trump Pride Event" in Florida this past weekend, where she claimed, "I know what my father believes in. Prior to politics, he supported gays, lesbians, the LGBQIIA+ community." Okay. Maybe whatever this "LGBQIIA+" is might support him—don't think we didn't notice you dropping the "T" there, Tiffany—but when it comes to the LGBTQ community, new polling has 74% of registered LGBTQ voters supporting Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

"Of them, 92 percent said they were 'definitely or probably' voting in the presidential election—and over 80 percent said they felt more motivated to vote now than in any other recent election," the polling said.

Trump staffers worry choosing to work for an authoritarian might not look so great on a resume

Lackeys from the Trump administration aren't one teensy bit concerned about the mess they'll leave behind should their impeached president lose reelection in just under 20 days. Oh no, the fact that they're all on a superspreader tour of the country is proof of that. Like their boss, what they're concerned about instead are their own sorry asses.

Trump staffers, The Washington Post reports, "are hoping the Trump presidency isn't a disqualifying blemish on their resumes or Google footprint as the door revolves the other way and they seek to land, once again, in the private sector." Considering the kinds of horrific crimes this administration has carried out, they should be grateful that not being able to find a six-figure job at a fancy D.C. firm is the worst thing they have to worry about.

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Some of former officials have already gotten a taste of a post-Trump life. For former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, "[t]here's been no cushy landing on K Street or high-profile consultancy at a major lobbying or public relations firm," The Post said. While he published a book about being a taxpayer-funded liar, it flopped. Another one of his post-Trump jobs wasn't too pretty either—no really, he wore some hideous dollar store piñata for the 28th season of Dancing with the Stars, where he was the sixth contestant eliminated.

But just because Sean "This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period!" Spicer had trouble doesn't mean other former Trump officials have had the same experience. "Ex-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus is president of the Michael Best & Friedrich law firm," The Post continued. Former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. John Kelly continued cashing in on cruelty and joined the board of a company that operated the now-closed prison camp for migrant children in Homestead, Florida. His successor, Kirstjen Nielsen, didn't really stray far and joined a government council.

Kelly and Nielsen in particular tried rehabilitation tours that really just continued exposing them as liars. They probably wished for the luck of Nielsen's former chief of staff Miles Taylor, who got a CNN contributor's gig after managing to convince enough people that he was shocked, shocked! about shenanigans he saw at DHS even though he was there for two years, from 2017 and 2019. Taylor didn't speak out then as a moral whistleblower to expose hateful policies, but instead until this past summer when it was convenient for him. Nor has Taylor fully apologized for many of the policies he helped carry out.

"The longtime GOP strategist who runs a public affairs firm recalled coming close to hiring a former Trump White House staffer until a Google search revealed the prospective hire's track record defending Trump on race and immigration," The Post continued. "It ground the interview process to a halt, the strategist said." But, at the same time, "Americans have short memories," a former Bush and Clinton staffer continued to The Post.

The fact is that from White House aide Stephen Miller to unlawfully appointed acting DHS Sec. Chad Wolf, these officials deserve to become pariahs when the administration is at last finished. They brought it on themselves because they knew what they were signing up for from the start: a vulgarian who bragged about committing sexual assault and a racist who vowed to deport millions of undocumented immigrants even as he exploited many at his own businesses. Don't feel sorry for these officials. Feel sorry for the many people they hurt.

Border officials separated an asylum-seeker and her newborn —  then called themselves heroes

A Honduran asylum-seeker who was separated from her hours-old U.S. citizen infant by border agents has been reunited with her child. The Los Angeles Times had on Friday reported that Border Patrol had ripped the mother from her baby just hours after she'd given birth in Texas. The asylum-seeker, among the thousands forced by the Trump administration to wait for their immigration court dates in Mexico, had crossed in desperation when she gave birth alone in a field.

Molly O'Toole's report said that while border officials at first transported the family to a hospital together, they then separated them and told the mother they were going to send her back to Mexico without her baby. They've since claimed the hospital's COVID-19 policy required the separation, but that's a lie. "That is definitely not the hospital policy," a University Hospital spokesperson told the LA Times. "We do not separate babies and parents."

Border officials had initially and in truly gross form used the rescue as a publicity stunt, tweeting a picture of a border agent holding the child and claiming that "[f]rom #LawEnforcement to humanitarian aid, our agents adapt to any situation." But what they didn't mention in the tweet is what happened after, when agents airlifted the baby to a neonatal ICU hours away while the mom was thrown into detention and forced to sleep on the floor. Yup, truly heroes, these agents.

"Unconscionable," tweeted humanitarian group Doctors for Camp Closure. "This isn't a 'rescue.' Separating mothers from their critically ill infants immediately after birth is inhumane." O'Toole reports that no one from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) gave her a comment prior to the report's publication, but that soon changed after it went public.

"Hours later, Austin Skero, chief patrol agent for the Del Rio sector, responded in a tweet to The Times, saying that agents had to separate the mother and baby due to the San Antonio hospital's COVID-19 policy for the neonatal unit, which the hospital immediately disputed." Spokesperson Leni Kirkman told O'Toole that the hospital has always safely allowed parents to be with their kids, even during the pandemic. "Babies need to be with their parents." We wish Border Patrol thought the same.

Instead, agency chief Rodney Scott angrily claimed in a tweet he was "sick and tired of our agents being villainized," while in the same statement dehumanizing the asylum-seeker as an "illegal alien mother." Asylum is legal immigration, guy. What you also won't hear about in any of Border Patrol's public relations tweets is that Scott was a member of the violent and racist Facebook group where members mocked the death of a child in the agency's custody. But remember, we're the bad ones for point out the bad things they do.

Nor will they mention how the Trump administration's anti-asylum policies directly led to this inhumane separation. The asylum-seeker had been waiting in Mexico with her 6-year-old child when they were kidnapped and held at gunpoint for two weeks. After that, the mother sent the child into the U.S. alone to save the child's life. That child was then taken into Health and Human Services
(HHS) custody, and has since been released to family members in California. The mother, whose name has not been publicly released, then crossed several weeks later.

O'Toole reports that the mother was reunited with her infant at the hospital's neonatal ICU over the weekend. They're now expected to join family in California once the baby is cleared for release, where'll she'll also reunite with her 6-year-old child. How much of this pain and suffering could have been avoided if administration had just allowed this family to safely seek asylum?

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