Do Republicans have grandparents too?

Originally posted on Neil Steinberg’s blog.

BY NEIL STEINBERG
This is my grandfather, Irwin Bramson. I don’t believe his picture has ever appeared in a newspaper before. He would be delighted to see it here.
My grandfather was not famous, or successful, beyond supporting his family, working in a factory in Cleveland that made machine parts. He eventually owned his own house, on Rossmoor Road in Cleveland Heights. He was very proud of that.
My grandfather was born on a farm in Bialystock Poland, in 1907 and was sent to this country because things were very bad there and he had a relative, a distant cousin in Cleveland who owned an automobile parts factory and would employ him. He left at 16 and never saw any of his family again; they were all murdered, man, woman and child by the Nazis and their henchmen.
When he got here, he no doubt faced the scorn of those who felt that America was being corrupted by racially inferior immigrants such as himself that all manner of subhumans and Jews, were poisoning American blood, that they were constitutionally different and would never fit in.
But he did fit in. He never went to college, but he met my grandmother, got married—they went to the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago on their honeymoon in 1934. They had three daughters, my mother being the eldest. Had they been born in Poland, they all would have been murdered too.
All of my memories of him involve him sitting in a green Barcalounger, watching “The Price Is Right.” He smoked cigarettes and drank bourbon. He sucked Luden’s Cherry Cough drops for his throat—he would die of emphysema in 1981.
He taught me chess. He would give me a dollar if I won and a dollar if I lost. He took me to my first baseball game. There was nothing mean or difficult about him. He did not complain. He asked nothing of anybody. In fact, he rarely spoke. He was a simple man, and I loved him.
Everyone in the United States, unless they are a Native-American, has a person like my grandfather in their past, someone who came over here to escape hardship or horror and make a life. Whether it was 5 or 50 or 500 years ago, the story is the same. They came over and the country let them in.
My grandfather became a citizen, not because he was a genius, not because he was harder working or smarter or better than any Mexican fording the Rio Grande. But because he could back then. There was an Ellis Island and a system that worked. Today Ellis Island is a shrine to ideals that half the country doesn’t believe anymore, who adopt the cruel role of the Americans who harassed their own forebears.
I thought of my grandfather, after I watched Barack Obama’s brief speech Thursday night—lucky I have cable because none of the networks, the supposed mainstream media supposedly in his thrall, bothered to show it. He announced his changes to immigration policy, to allow undocumented immigrants who have been here longer than five years to “get right with the law,” register and not fear deportation.
Before Obama even spoke, the Republicans, who oppose everything the president has done, is doing, or will do, made a show of opposing this too, a rare trifecta blending economic myopia, longterm political suicide, and lack of basic human decency. Only time will tell if they respond by trying to impeach him, shut down the government or some new strategem. The only thing that they are certain not to do is pass the comprehensive immigration reform which, announcing his stopgap, Obama called for.
That this is the right thing, that it is long overdue, that it will help the United States economy, that to do otherwise is cold hypocrisy and a denial of their own family, an insult the memory of my grandfather and theirs and the millions like him, never wrinkles their brow.
My wife and I watched the speech.
“He looks tired, frustrated,” my wife said.
“He’s trying to talk sense to idiots,” I said.
I’m glad I saw the speech, because I was starting to think very little of Obama, just by osmosis, just by living in a country where he is so despised. I wish he had done this three months, six months, a year ago. Not doing so was the kind of small, mean political calculation that has hobbled his presidency. The Democrats got drubbed anyway.
But now I realize, the bottom line with Obama is: he did what he could do. He didn’t waste effort trying the impossible. Even his narrowed options were tough to manage.
The good news is, he’s already won.
As with gay marriage, the notion of no longer keeping millions who came to this country illegally in rightless limbo forever will seem an impossibility until suddenly it doesn’t and everybody wonders what took us so long to do the moral thing. Then the people who are castigating the president now will be hard to find. Cornered, they will shrug off their fanatical opposition to people just like their own grandparents with some easy rationalization. What really struck me about the president’s speech is he could speak the words at all, that he somehow found the stamina to present a cogent argument to rabid enemies who stopped listening long ago. There is a nobility to that.

A personal postscript to an amazing week of #immigrationAction

2014-11-22 West WingFriends, I was honored to be among a handful of civil rights and immigration leaders and advocates invited to meet with President Obama in the West Wing of the White House on Thursday afternoon shortly before he announced his Immigration Executive Actions.

As I sat in the Roosevelt room with the President I was taken with thoughts of my grandparents and my dad, Holocaust survivors from Germany, who were given refuge in this great country. We owe so much to those who brought us to this day. And we owe a lot to future generations. I was truly humbled to be a part of this historic moment.

Last night families across America who’d grown accustomed to living in fear went to sleep knowing that in the morning they would wake up safe and together.

That’s not hyperbole, that’s a reality for families throughout the country.

There is a Talmudic saying that “if you save one life, it is as if you have saved the world.” This week the President used his authority to make the immigration system work better until Congress finally fixes it. And, in so doing, the President has “saved the world” for millions and millions of hard working honest people.

At the same time we must remember that what the President has done is only a first step; millions more families continue to live in the shadows, fearful of being separated from their loved ones every time they leave their homes to buy milk at the corner store, medicine for their children, or simply fill the car with gas. This is not who we are as a nation, as people, as a culture.

The step Mr. Obama has taken to make the immigration system work better is a bold and courageous (and yes–solidly legal) use of his lawful authority as President of the United States. But only Congress has the power to fix the antiquated, rigid and outdated immigration policy that plagues this country, devastates families, stymies American business and inhibits job creation.

We can only hope that amid the calls for lawsuits and legislation to block the President’s executive actions Republican congressional leaders will find the guts to do the right thing by the American People.

.@americasvoice: Two Key Points Regarding #Immigration Executive Action

For Immediate Release:                                             Contact: Michael Earls

August 12, 2014                                                                                202-494-8555

 

Two Key Points Regarding Immigration Executive Action

Opposing Legislative Reform and Executive Action Perpetuates Immigration Status Quo;

Former AILA President David Leopold Explains Why Executive Action is Legal

 

Washington, DC—Two new opinion pieces, in Spanish and English, further two of the key points to understand regarding potential executive action on immigration:

 

  1. Doing nothing, either via legislation or executive action, is the true radical option on immigration and an endorsement of the failed immigration status quo
  2. President Obama has broad legal authority to act on immigration policy

 

A new column from America’s Voice Senior Advisor Maribel Hastings, running in leading Spanish-language outlets, captures that Republicans are endorsing the broken immigration status quo by refusing to legislate on reform and then preemptively criticizing the president for taking executive action.  Writes Hastings:

 

“Only in the twisted world of immigration politics do the contradictions win out: The House of Representatives won’t legislate, but they blame the president for believing he’s a king if he issues executive orders.  They denounce ‘illegality’, but with their inaction they perpetuate the status quo of real illegality where it’s impossible to know who is among us.

 

Authority and discretion exist and they’re legal.  If they’re not used now for partisan political considerations it’s another matter.  But the last thing Obama should care about is what the obstructionist Republican opposition says.  If they don’t like executive action, then legislate.”

 

Former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), David Leopold, writes a new opinion piece in The Hill that adds to the volume of existing analysis showing that potential executive action on immigration rests on solid legal footingLeopold writes:

 

“Even Mr. Obama’s most ardent critics must concede that his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the immigration law gives him wide latitude in its enforcement.  What’s less clear are the limits of that authority.  How far can the President go?

 

The reason this is not an easy call is because the line between exercising discretion over enforcement and crossing over to policy making is often blurred.  One thing that exemplifies this is determining when a case-by-case grant of discretion crosses over to a categorical grant.  Critics like to argue that case-by-case exercises of discretion are acceptable but categorical are not.

 

But it does not follow that this crosses that line.  As long as the administrative decision to defer the removal of a group of undocumented immigrants is legitimately aimed at more efficient use of law enforcement resources, it arguably falls well within the President’s discretion.  This includes the discretion to defer the deportation of undocumented immigrants—individually or as a group—if doing so allows the administration to focus resources on keeping the country safe.

 

In fact, Presidents of both parties have used categorical grants of deferred action to postpone the deportation of large groups of undocumented immigrants, including abused women, hurricane victims and refugees.

 

Therefore, to violate the constitution, the President’s action must be a dramatic, extraordinary departure from universally accepted exercises of executive discretion.  DACA or its expansion don’t even come close…

 

…Legally therefore, DACA is not much different than executive discretion contemplated by the Morton Memo, which even conservatives concede was well within the president’s authority to issue.  Like the Morton Memo DACA or its expansion is nothing more than a temporary postponement of deportation for undocumented immigrants whose removal is a low enforcement priority. This temporary reprieve from removal falls far short of amnesty which, presumably, would offer qualified undocumented immigrants a new set of rights and obligations, including lawful immigration status and a pathway to citizenship coupled with due process rights, including the right to defend against denial or revocation.

 

Critics like to say that the availability of employment authorization or the use of forms and fees pushes the DACA process or its expansion over the blurry line from lawful discretion to executive lawlessness. But they conveniently forget (or are not aware) that the president’s authority to authorize employment of immigrants is long-standing and already well-established in the law.  The regulation that grants work authorization to immigrants granted deferred action predates DACA and applies to many other categories of people granted deferred action, such as abused women, hurricane victims, and refugees.  The president’s authority to grant work status long precedes DACA, and while it does apply to DACA and would apply to its expansion, it is not an outgrowth of either…

 

…Those who challenge President Obama’s authority to act on his own to limit deportations fail to make the case that DACA or its expansion is such a dramatic departure from the Morton Memo (or other universally accepted forms of prosecutorial discretion) that it constitutes the naked power grab they claim.  It’s not enough that it looks different, it must be different; significantly different from what is accepted as lawful discretion.  But it isn’t significantly different.

 

In other words, it’s legal.”

 

Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice on Twitter @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice.
America’s Voice – Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform


  1. americasvoice.org

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More nastiness from @SenatorSessions on #immigration

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) injected his own brand of nastiness into the debate over the plight of the Central American refugees fleeing Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador for other countries in the region, including the U.S.

Not surprisingly, Sessions fails to offer a single constructive policy solution; just more partisan rancor, including the absurd claim that the crisis is the result of the Administration’s failure to enforce the immigration law.

Of course Sessions does take the opportunity to call for an end to DACA and the deportation of DREAMERs.

Read the letter here:  2014-07-14 Sessions Letter

When It Comes To immigration Reform, GOP Insists On Being The Party Of ‘No We Won’t’

Originally Posted on Fox News Latino

Daniel Neyoy Ruiz, an undocumented immigrant has, quite literally, turned to his church for an eleventh hour stay of deportation.

Since last week Ruiz, his wife and his U.S. citizen son have been held up in the Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona after it offered him refuge from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which seems to have an insatiable appetite for devouring mixed immigration status American families.

Ruiz, who is from Mexico, was scheduled to be deported last week but instead chose indefinite detention in the church, which has a three decade history of offering sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.

Until Boehner and Cantor decide to show some political courage, good people like Mr. Ruiz will be forced to seek sanctuary in churches to protect their families from ICE agents looking to meet deportation quotas.
– David Leopold

There is more than a little irony in an undocumented man fleeing to a church to protect his family while the GOP controlled House of Representatives – whose leaders are quick to tout religion and “family values” – do nothing to keep mixed immigration status American families safe and together. Never mind that recent polls show overwhelming support by Republicans (64 percent), Democrats (78 percent) and Independents (71 percent) for immigration reform, including a legal route to lawful immigration status for the 11 million undocumented noncitizens living in America. And that’s not just a cold statistic. That’s 11 million undocumented Americans – mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers – who came to this country like generations of immigrants before them, to build a better life for future generations.

Of course it’s not quite fair to say that the House GOP has done nothing on immigration. To the contrary, they have voted to deport DREAMERs and, as I write this, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is devoting his energy (and your tax dollars) to blocking the Enlist Act which would allow some undocumented immigrants to serve in the U.S. military and, under certain circumstances, earn green cards. The legislation was introduced Monday by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Va.) as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. But Cantor is vowing to not even allow debate on the bill.

It’s almost like House Republican leaders are looking for ways to further alienate Hispanic voters and threaten the GOP’s national viability.

Imagine if Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and the rest of the GOP leadership paid the same deference to the will of the American people that they do to the extremists in their party. An immigration overhaul would likely already be the law of the land and hard-working fathers like Mr. Ruiz would be supporting their families, continuing to pay their taxes and further contributing to the fabric of their communities.

But until Boehner and Cantor decide to show some political courage, good people like Mr. Ruiz will be forced to seek sanctuary in churches to protect their families from ICE agents looking to meet deportation quotas at the expense of common sense enforcement.

If the Republicans insist on being the party of “No We Won’t” when it comes to immigration reform, then President Obama should once again insist that “Yes We Can.” There is plenty the President can do to stop the humanitarian crisis which plagues the nation and bleeds American families in places like Tucson, Arizona, Seattle Washington, and Painesville, Ohio. Mr. Obama has the legal authority to broaden DACA, the temporary deportation reprieve he gave to qualified undocumented youth in June 2012. He could also order Attorney General Holder to review the onerous evidentiary burdens placed upon immigrants seeking waivers from immigration judges due to the extreme hardship that deportation would cause their U.S. citizen and lawful resident family members. Further, the President could use statutes already on the books to allow the qualified undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens to apply for green cards without having to leave the country and risk being banned from returning to their families for 10 years.

It’s a sad day in America when an undocumented immigrant is forced to seek haven in a church to keep his family together. I am sure that many Americans will pray for him and other undocumented immigrants who are caught in the web of a broken, rigid and unforgiving immigration system.

In the meantime, it shouldn’t take a miracle for the House of Representatives to do its job and pass immigration reform.

.@GOPLeader Cantor’s March-April memo, still no #immigration reform. #TNTweeters

GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s memo to House Republicans outlining the March-April 2014 Legislative Agenda is full of empty rhetoric but sadly–for the American people–fails to include immigration reform legislation.

Despite the fact that poll after poll show that the American people–Republicans, Democrats and Independents–want the House GOP to stop dithering and start fixing the immigration system, Cantor apparently doesn’t think immigration reform is important enough to put on the GOP “to-do” list.

It’s high time the House Republicans stop playing partisan politics with America’s future and start working for the American people.

DACA Renewal Information Released By DHS Applies Only To Cases Granted By ICE From 06/15/12 Until 08/15/12 http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-process/ice-granted-daca-renewal-guidance

“This notice contains renewal information only for those individuals granted DACA by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from June 15, 2012 until August 15, 2012, when USCIS started receiving requests. Our records indicate that this notice only applies to a small fraction of the DACA population. This notice does not apply to any individuals who received deferred action by making a request to USCIS using Form I-821D on or after August 15, 2012. In the coming months, USCIS will issue guidance about the renewal process for this group.”

http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-process/ice-granted-daca-renewal-guidance

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