Courts & the Law, News

US Supreme Court denies DACA review; Dreamers can continue renewals for now

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to review the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The federal government asked the highest court in mid-January to weigh in on its decision before a review by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after a judge in California ordered DACA be maintained nationwide except in few cases.

“The Supreme Court has made the right decision by allowing this to play out in the lower courts,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “However, the question at hand is about the particular process the Trump administration used to end DACA, not whether he may end the program or not.”

Noorani, like many North Carolinians paying attention to DACA litigation urged lawmakers to pass a permanent solution.

“The fate of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers is still in question,” she said. “Therefore, the urgency of a permanent legislative solution remains.”

The National Immigration Law Center tweeted after the Supreme Court decision that immigrant youth who previously was enrolled in DACA can continue, for now, to apply for renewals.

“There is immense urgency for Congress to do the right thing to #ProtectDreamers,” reads another tweet. “Nothing about today’s SCOTUS announcement diminished that. Dreamers are America’s children but scores of them are losing their #DACA protections every single day.”

The North Carolina Justice Center’s Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project is keeping up with DACA news. Updates and more DACA information can be found on the Project’s website. The Justice Center is the parent organization of NC Policy Watch.

Commentary, Education

NC GOP leaders must disavow Franklin Graham’s attack on public education

Former Gov. Pat McCrory appearing with Graham during his tenure in office. Image: Franklin Graham’s Facebook page

It’s never particularly surprising when the Rev. Franklin Graham makes outrageous statements and/or takes extremist, right-wing stands on various matters. It’s even less surprising when Graham’s pals in the state Republican Party turn a blind eye to such statements and stances. Heck, one of Graham’s employees, Deanna Ballard, holds a seat in the state Senate.

But when Graham’s words serve to undermine one of the central missions of state government, it’s time for everyone — including his allies and those who usually turn a blind eye to his various stances out of fear of being seen to cross an iconic figure of the religious right — to muster up a measure of courage and push back.

Now is one of those times.

It seems that Graham, who is traversing the state this week and next as part of a “Tar Heel State Tour” made the following recent statement according to an email distributed by the American Renewal Project, which is another religious right group that is hosting an event in Charlotte this week featuring Lt. Gov. Dan Forest:

Speaking on Fox’s Todd Starnes Radio Show, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse chief Franklin Graham also urged parents to get their children out. In a conversation about New Jersey’s new law mandating LGBT lessons to school children, Graham said the time had come.

Starnes asked Graham what advice he would give Christian moms and dads: “I mean do they pull their kids out of public school or do they homeschool, private school?” the Fox host asked. “What should they do?”

“Oh, absolutely,” Graham replied without hesitation, breaking new ground. “I’d pull them out of public school and put them in private school.”

The information about Graham’s stance was packaged with the statements of three other far right figures: right-wing radio fire-breather Rush Limbaugh, Catholic talk show host “Mother Miriam,” and religious activist David Lane, who heads the American Renewal Project.

As Policy Watch reported last month, Lane has repeatedly stated that it is part of “God’s plan” to “free Christian children from public education.” In addition to Forest, the event he and his group will be hosting this week in Charlotte will feature:

  • A pastor who calls the notion of a separation between church and state “cowardice” and those in the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality “militant homofascists” bent on turning the U.S. into Sodom.
  • An author who has railed against Muslims as would-be conquerors and rapists and LGBTQ rights as a first step to America living under Sharia law.
  • A pastor and Republican politician who has asserted anyone not committed to the U.S. as an explicitly Judeo-Christian nation should leave the country.

The bottom line: Forest, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore, Senator Ballard and other leading conservatives should disavow Graham’s statement and those of other far right figures who would undermine our state’s public education system. To the extent they continue to embrace such extremists, they make it impossible to see their actions vis a vis our public schools as anything other than part of a plan to destroy them.

Commentary, Courts & the Law, Education, Environment, News

This week’s top stories on NC Policy Watch

This week’s top stories on NC Policy Watch

1. How a Trump attack on the federal “Waters of the United States” rule imperils the waters of North Carolina

This is the second of a three-part series  about a commonly used method of environmental protection for wetlands and streams called “compensatory mitigation.”

This a place where the Atlantic Ocean begins: A yawning storm pipe draped by kudzu about a half-mile south of the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Little more than a murky ditch, the shallow stream winds south, beneath the American Tobacco Trail bridge, behind a strip mall, and past two gas stations, to Forest Hills Park.

To illustrate the connections between Durham’s lowly downtown ditch to the coast, if you floated a paper boat from the headwaters in Forest Hills, its 150-mile journey would run south through Third Fork Creek, which in turn merges with New Hope Creek, which flows into Jordan Lake, a drinking water supply for hundreds of thousands of people. The boat would skim over the dam and into the Cape Fear River, which travels through southeastern North Carolina and spills into the Atlantic south of Wilmington.[Read more…]

2. Ruth Bader Ginsburg reviews her remarkable life, battles for gender equality in Raleigh appearance

Veteran justice laments politicization of Supreme Court confirmation process, expresses optimism about the future

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaking to a crowd of mostly women Monday in Raleigh, recalled when so many opportunities were off limits for her gender.

“What is the difference between a bookkeeper in New York’s Garment District, which my mother was, and a Supreme Court justice?” she asked. “And my answer is, one generation.”

The audience burst into applause. More than 1,600 people attended the conversation with Ginsburg as part of Meredith College’s Lillian Parker Wallace lecture series in Raleigh.

“As bleak as things may seem, I have seen so many changes in my lifetime, opportunities opened for people of whatever race, religion, and finally, gender,” said the 86-year-old.[Read more…]

3. Five simple truths about the Medicaid expansion debate

Prescription to apply for health insurance with personal computing tablet and stethoscope.

Medicaid expansion is back on the table at the North Carolina General Assembly.

Sort of.

Maybe.

The latest maddening and semi-hopeful development in this seemingly never ending saga arose in the aftermath of the September 11 budget veto override debacle when House Speaker Tim Moore announced that he would fulfill “a promise” to revive the GOP version of the proposal now that the House was “finished” with the budget.

Last week, the measure – House Bill 655 – was approved by the House Health Committee on a voice vote and forwarded on to the House Rules Committee. The same committee had already taken the same action on a very similar version of the proposal back in July in a 25-6 vote.[Read more…]

4. National civil rights group calls on Forest to withdraw from event featuring anti-Muslim speakers


The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling on North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest to withdraw from headlining an event featuring several controversial anti-Islamic speakers.

Forest’s top-billing at such an event sends a dangerous message, said CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw.

“By sharing the stage with anti-Muslim speakers, the lieutenant governor would legitimize the bigoted views espoused by the speakers and delegitimize the Republican Party’s claim of supporting religious freedom for all,” McCaw said. “Lieutenant Governor Forest should immediately withdraw from this event and reaffirm his commitment to representing all North Carolinians regardless of faith or background.”

The group, which bills itself as the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, is responding to Forest’s planned speech to the The American Renewal Project’s “North Carolina Renewal Project” event. The event takes place next week, Oct. 3-4, at the Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel.

Forest has not responded to requests for comment from Policy Watch.[Read more…]

5. Burr, Tillis stick with Trump as Senate passes another resolution to block border emergency declaration


The U.S. Senate voted again on Wednesday to block President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency along the southern U.S. border.

The Senate voted 54-41 to end the declaration, delivering a rebuke that’s likely to be symbolic. Both chambers of Congress already voted to block the resolution, but the effort failed after the U.S. House failed to override Trump’s veto in March. The White House is expected to veto the resolution again.

Eleven Republicans joined Senate Democrats this week in voting to block Trump from circumventing Congress to obtain funding for a controversial border wall. The National Emergencies Act allows Democrats to seek a vote on repealing the emergency declaration every six months. The resolution disapproval requires a simple majority to pass the Senate.[Read more…]

6. In 2019, with student debt and tuition soaring, is UNC still the university of the people?

“I speak for all of us who could not afford to go to Duke,” Charles Kuralt once declared in 1993, in that inimitable oaken voice, during the UNC system’s bicentennial celebration.

Kuralt, speaking to an august assemblage that included former President Bill Clinton and then North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt, was in the midst of one of the regal monologues the famous newsman was lauded for in his 22 years at CBS News.

“What is it that binds us to this place as to no other?” he boomed. “It is not the well or the bell or the stone walls, or the crisp October nights or the memory of dogwoods blooming. … No, our love for this place is based on the fact that it is, as it was meant to be, the university of the people.”

Kuralt, a UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus and Wilmington native, earned a place in a generation of UNC commercials for that dedication. You can also catch Kuralt’s folksy love letter to Chapel Hill at any UNC sporting event, although the kum-ba-yah has an oddly dissonant sound in 2019.

Today, it is difficult to imagine many institutions of higher education in North Carolina, much less in the United States, can reasonably claim to be the “university of the people” anymore, unless we are to change the definition of “the people.” [Read more…]

7. Does NC adequately prepare and test its teachers?


National education advocate says state is falling short but local experts tell a different story

Kate Walsh, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has a reputation for being provocative.

She lived up to that billing this month during a visit to North Carolina to discuss strategies for improving college and university teacher prep programs.

In North Carolina, there are 52 such programs approved by the State Board of Education (SBE). They include private and public universities and colleges as well as smaller programs created by school districts and nonprofits to feed the teacher pipeline. [Read more…]

8. Policy Watch podcasts:

Click here for the latest commentaries and newsmaker interviews with Rob Schofield

9. Weekly Editorial Cartoon:

 

Commentary

Hotel chain on use of its Charlotte facility by group featuring extremist speakers: “Meh”

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest

As Policy Watch reported earlier this morning, a growing number of voices are calling on Lt. Gov. Dan Forest to withdraw from next week’s “North Carolina Renewal Project” event at the Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel. This includes the Washington, DC-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) which decried the idea of a public official like Forest sharing the stage with bigoted speakers who possess a long history of spouting Islamophobic and homophobic rhetoric.

Among other speakers, the event will feature a conservative activist and conspiracy kook named William Federer who has repeatedly alleged that the movement for LGBTQ equality in the United States is somehow part of a diabolical plot to transform the United States into a Muslim-dominated country.

Unfortunately, one voice that’s not taking a stance on this disturbing event is the company that’s providing the venue for it – the Marriott Corporation. When asked to comment on its decision to rent space for such an event, the general manager of the Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel sent the following milquetoast statement to Policy Watch early this morning:

We are a hospitality company that provides public accommodations and function space. We strive to provide a welcoming environment to all. Acceptance of business does not indicate support, or endorsement of any group or individual. Our hotel management and staff do not necessarily endorse the views and practices of our guests and those who attend meetings or events at our facilities. We strive to create a diverse and inclusive environment for our guests and associates as we endeavor to deliver the best guest experience possible. For questions or concerns specific to events held at our facilities, we ask that event organizers be contacted directly.

In other words: “Meh – as long as groups bring the cash, we really don’t care what they say or stand for.”

While perhaps superficially appealing for its apparent neutrality on such matters, the hotel chain’s stance begs the question of where, if anywhere, it would draw the line. Would the Marriott folks be okay if groups like the Klan or the Aryan Brotherhood or any number of Neo-Nazi or white nationalist groups asked to rent their space?

And if they wouldn’t, it would be extremely interesting to hear them explain why and how they would distinguish such groups from some of the individuals headlining next week’s confab – an event in which one of the scheduled featured speakers has claimed that “The number one crime in Norway, Sweden and Denmark is rape – Muslim immigrant men raping European women” and another has stated that the election of two Muslim women to Congress is “beyond the pale.”

The bottom line: If your company is about creating “a diverse and inclusive environment for our guests and associates,” hosting/facilitating an event like this is not the way to do it.

News

National Muslim civil rights group: Lt. Gov. Dan Forest should not speak before anti-Muslim group

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling on North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest to withdraw from headlining an event featuring several figures known for controversial anti-Islamic remarks.

Forest headlining such an event sends a dangerous message, said CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw.

Robert McCaw

“By sharing the stage with anti-Muslim speakers, the lieutenant governor would legitimize the bigoted views espoused by the speakers and delegitimize the Republican Party’s claim of supporting religious freedom for all,” McCaw said.  “Lieutenant Governor Forest should immediately withdraw from this event and reaffirm his commitment to representing all North Carolinians regardless of faith or background.”

The group, which bills itself as the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, is responding to Forest’s top billing at the The American Renewal Project’s “North Carolina Renewal Project” event. The event takes place next week, Oct. 3-4, at the Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel.

Policy Watch first reported on the event and the group behind it earlier this month.

In a press release Wednesday, CAIR outlined its objections.

“Other scheduled speakers include William Federer, who spreads Islamophobic conspiracy theories about an alleged Islamic takeover of Europe and the United States, and E.W. Williams who, after the election of two Muslim women to Congress, stated, ‘The floor of Congress is now going to look like an Islamic republic,’” the group wrote.

In interviews, Federer has warned of an eventual Islamic takeover of Europe and the U.S. of which he said the LGBTQ rights movement is a first step.

“The whole atheist-homosexual-gay-agenda movement, that’s a temporary thing,” Federer said. “That’s simply a detaching phase to get us away from our past to move into an Islamic future.”

In starkly religious and racial terms, Federer warned of the United States following what he sees as a pattern of Europeans being out-bred, outnumbered and victimized by Muslims in Europe.

“Ten years ago there were three mosques in Germany, today there’s over 200,” Federer said. “The number one name for newborns in London, Milan, Brussels is Mohammad. The number one crime in Norway, Sweden and Denmark is rape – Muslim immigrant men raping European women. In other words Europe went from a Judeo-Christian past and then they backslid into a secular neutral a

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest

nd now they’re having an Islamic future.”

Forest has not responded to requests for comment from Policy Watch.

Policy Watch has reached out to the Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel and its corporate parent, Marriott International, about its hosting of the event. They have yet to respond.

 

Policy Watch will be publishing a follow-up on this developing story Thursday morning.