“President Donald Trump has spent three years molding America’s immigration system to primarily be concerned with keeping people out.
He built, layer by layer, impediments in Central America, at the border, in detention centers, and in the immigration courts that have made obtaining asylum nearly impossible.
He swept aside former President Barack Obama’s immigration enforcement priorities in favor of vastly expanding immigration detention and prosecuting every immigrant who crosses the border without authorization. The result is a punitive system that treats immigrants as criminals and places them in prolonged detention even if they don’t pose any danger to the public.
And he waged a quiet and effective campaign to reduce legal immigration — including expanding his travel ban to block immigration from Nigeria, the largest country in Africa. Under Trump, the legal immigration system increasingly rewards skills and wealth over family ties to the US, while shutting out a growing number of people from low-income countries.
When Trump lays out the start of his reelection-year argument in the State of the Union address on Tuesday night, his guests will include a senior Border Patrol official and the brother of a man who was killed by an unauthorized immigrant. His immigration record is likely to be one of his top talking points.
It’s true that Trump has run into some roadblocks: He’s behind schedule on construction of the southern border wall, a key messaging tool for his base. He hasn’t been able to appoint his preferred candidates to lead the immigration agencies. His attempts to pass immigration-related legislation in Congress have failed. And his policies have faced so much opposition in the courts that his administration has appeared to pursue a strategy of rapidly churning out new policies and hoping that at least some of them survive judicial review.
But while he might not have succeeded at building an actual wall to keep immigrants out, his policies have achieved the same end.”
“The United States dropped 7,423 bombs on Afghanistan last year—that’s an average of more than 20 per day—narrowly surpassing the previous record set in 2018.
It’s a statistic that belies the notion that President Donald Trump is an anti-war commander-in-chief, and one that suggests America is still no closer to winning its longest military conflict.
Trump has overseen a massive escalation in the amount of ordnance fired at Afghanistan in the past two years, according to a new report from the U.S Air Force. But other than blasting thousands of new craters in the war-torn country and terrorizing the people unfortunate enough to live there, there is little evidence that bombing the hell out of what’s left of the country is accomplishing any vital U.S. interest. Amid the record-breaking year of attacks, the Trump administration was holding on-and-off peace talks with the Taliban—you know, the same group we went to war nearly two decades ago to remove—aimed at handing over control of the country.”
“now the Trump administration does not even appear willing to explain its Afghanistan strategy to Congress. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to appear at a congressional hearing this week in which lawmakers grappled with the “Afghanistan Papers” published in December by The Washington Post. The Post’s document dump showed that the Pentagon has been lying for years about the status of the war in Afghanistan, while top military brass have privately concluded that the U.S. has no clear strategy or path to victory.”
“about 130 feet of newly constructed border wall “fell on the Mexico side of the border, landing on several trees.” Evidently, the sections had not yet been set in a concrete foundation.”
“other sections of the border wall have huge holes, by design, to prevent flash floods from damaging it. Sources familiar with the wall designs tell the Post that the structure will act like a giant sewer gate during those periodic downpours, allowing water to pass through but causing rocks, trees, and other debris carried by the water to slam into it. To avoid potential damage, there 30-foot floodgates will be built into the wall, and the floodgates will be left open for months at a time during the rainy season.
John Ladd, a cattle rancher who has one such floodgate on his property—built into an older section of border wall constructed in 2008—tells the Post that he’s seen smugglers drive pick-up trucks through the openings.”
“Smugglers have already been spotted cutting holes in new sections of the wall, and there’s a long history of people gaining access to the United States by tunneling or catapulting their way in. More than 200 such tunnels discovered since 1990, and another one was found just this week near San Diego, California.”
“Most illegal immigrants to the United States don’t hop the border; they land at airports and then overstay their visas.”
“the 2018 maternal mortality rate was 17.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births — meaning 658 women died in 2018. The figure includes deaths during pregnancy, at birth, or within 42 days of birth.
The rate once again put the US last among similarly wealthy countries”
“If you compare the CDC figure to other countries in the World Health Organization’s latest maternal mortality ranking, the US would rank 55th, just behind Russia (17 per 100,000) and just ahead of Ukraine”
“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced on Thursday they would accept applications from states that want to set up a Medicaid block grant, a long-held goal of ideological conservatives who want to scale back the social safety net, and one deployed successfully to severely limit cash welfare benefits in the 1990s.
These spending caps would fundamentally change how the program is financed, ending Medicaid’s days as an open-ended entitlement by putting new hard limits on how much the government is willing to spend on health care for certain enrollees. Medicaid would no longer pay whatever is necessary to provide medical care to the people in or near poverty who qualify for its benefits. Instead, spending would be limited in states that got a waiver from the federal government, and they could impose cuts on benefits.”
“Conservatives say block grants are a good way to rein in government spending (Medicaid is one of the biggest federal line items) and to give states more control of the program (it has always been a shared state-federal responsibility) to make it work best for their populations. In practice, the likely effect is lower Medicaid spending and fewer benefits.”
“The system is rigged. It was rigged from the outset, quite intentionally, to favor small states. Under current political coalitions, that’s become an enormous advantage for Republicans. The country’s framers obviously could not have known that they were creating a system that would give Donald Trump’s party an unfair advantage over Hillary Clinton’s party more than two centuries later. But they did create a system that favors small states over large states.”
“Republicans, meanwhile, take their unfair advantage and build on it by gerrymandering the states they control, using their Senate “majority” to fill the courts with Republican judges, and then using their control of the judiciary to bolster their own party’s chances in elections.”
“According to 2018 Census Bureau estimates, more than half of the US population lives in just nine states. That means that much of the nation is represented by only 18 senators. Less than half of the population controls about 82 percent of the Senate.”
“Senate malapportionment is a relic of an unstable alliance among 13 young nations. As Yale law professor Akhil Amar explains, the Articles of Confederation that preceded the Constitution were “an alliance, a multilateral treaty of sovereign nation-states.” The Constitution did not simply change the rules that governed an existing nation; it bound 13 independent and sovereign states together.
The Founding Fathers came together at Philadelphia to achieve union at nearly any cost, because they wanted to avoid the persistent warfare that plagued Europe. Without a union, Amar says, “each nation-state might well raise an army, ostensibly to protect itself against Indians or Europeans, but also perhaps to awe its neighbors.”
Nor was this merely a hypothetical concern. When large states proposed a fair legislature, where each state would be given seats proportional to its population, Delaware delegate Gunning Bedford literally threatened that his state would make war on its neighbors. “The large states dare not dissolve the Confederation,” Bedford insisted, or else “the small states will find some foreign ally of more honor and good faith.””
“The Senate does not simply give extra representation to small states, it gives the biggest advantage to states with large populations of white, non-college-educated voters — the very demographic that is trending rapidly toward the GOP.”
“Realistically, the most democratic solutions, such as abolishing the Senate or replacing it with a body that fairly represents all Americans, are off the table in a nation that cannot amend its Constitution. And so we’re likely left with our undemocratic system for a long while, pushing for reform when and where possible, but likely unable to fix the system absent a major political realignment.”
“What would hurt Sanders’s campaign would be elite coordination toward a single candidate. That hasn’t happened.”