Commentary

Editorials: Trump backs down, but GOP continues to block real immigration solutions

Be sure to check out the editorials from the Winston-Salem Journal and Greensboro News & Record today on the immigration crisis and Trump’s decision to back down from his family separation policy.

After pointing out the absurdity of Trump’s attempt to blame the crisis on the administration of Bill Clinton, the Journal says this:

Trump’s whole brand has been to tear apart the structures put in place by his predecessors, from health-care coverage to environmental and civil-rights protections. It strains credulity to think that members of his administration suddenly stumbled over a law written in 1996 that Trump despised but found necessary to enforce.

As he announced his executive order Wednesday, Trump complained at length about Democrats, who he falsely insists want “open borders” so that just anybody, including people from the Middle East, can enter the country at will. Then he said Congress would need Democratic support to pass a final immigration bill.

Is it a wise negotiating tactic to criticize people when you need their help?

A true solution to our illegal immigration problem has been elusive because it’s a complex subject and because it has served the strategies of politicians on both sides of the aisle to keep the problem alive. Courageous, honest dealers are required to solve the puzzle. Sen. Ted Cruz’s recent proposal, calling for more border judges, has merit. Judges are in a better position to decide who truly needs asylum than armchair pundits who see every foreigner as a terrorist threat.

The most important aspect at this point is the children who have been ripped from their families, victims of a policy that Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, calls “government-sanctioned child abuse.” Despite Trump’s promise, pressure from the American people must continue to be applied until this heartless policy is permanently destroyed and these children have been reunited with their families.

The News & Record put it this way after noting the hypocrisy of GOP lawmakers who say they’re against family separation bu then say they’r for “reform”:

Yes, reform is needed desperately, but there is one small and so far impenetrable problem: No one wants to confront Trump and put the onus for accepting reasonable and bipartisan legislation — which is said to exist — back on him for approval. The president numerous times has changed course and backtracked on apparent deals with Congress. No one has mounted a challenge to his dissonance.

Would it be that for once our elected leaders would have the courage equal to those immigrants they so want to regulate: Can’t they put everything on the line to try to make the world a better place? Or, President Trump, can that not be done either?

Commentary

Veteran NC business attorney pens open letter to Sen. Tillis over child detention crisis

Press Millen is a veteran North Carolina business attorney and partner with the quintessential establishment law firm, Womble Bond Dickson. Today, however, like a huge and growing number of Americans, he has clearly grown disgusted at the spectacle unfolding in America’s immigration detention facilities, and was was kind enough to share a scathing open letter with Policy Watch that he has penned to Senator Thom Tillis on the subject.

Dear Senator Tillis,

My concerns about the Administration’s child-detention policy need to be expressed to you, but I’ve struggled with how best to say it.

I’m a life-long Democrat and 30-year North Carolina voter. I did not support you in 2014 and it’s virtually inconceivable that I will do so 2020. This is a communication that must be sent anyway.

What the Administration is doing with migrant children at the border is disgraceful.  The images, the sounds, the statistics, and even the frank descriptions from the more candid members of the Administration make that clear.  What we’ve all seen is not something that could make any American feel other than heart-sick about our government and the state to which we’ve sunk as a country.

I also recognize that you — as just a single senator — are limited in your influence.  You, however, do have choices in what you say and, more importantly, what you do. Congress, moreover, has an obvious constitutional role to play during this crisis.

The President, I understand, can be vindictive about anyone who crosses him, particularly from his own party.  How you square that with your duties under the Constitution and to North Carolina voters (even Democrats like me), as well as with your conscience, is for you to navigate in the first instance.

I suspect you know what’s right, although I suppose that years of politics can erode a person’s moral compass to the point where it simply doesn’t work any longer.

The choice, however, remains yours.  You will be judged, by me and others, by how you act.

As I mentioned at the outset, there is almost no chance I will support your reelection. Under our system of government, though, that doesn’t give you the right to ignore me. And there can still be consequences based on how you act.

It really comes down to the level and fervor of my non-support in 2020. If you are courageous, I will likely vote against you. If you are cowardly, however, I will do everything I can to support your opponent and see to it that North Carolina is not further embarrassed by being represented by a Senator with a broken moral compass.

I know it’s a hard choice, but, again, it’s your choice.

Yours,

Press Millen
Raleigh

Commentary

Op-eds: Father’s Day week reminds us of the need for paid leave laws

In case you missed them, a pair of recent “must read” op-eds highlighting the growing national movement for paid leave laws deserve your attention. In  “What fathers really need for Father’s Day” by Kevin Rogers of Action NC for WRAL.com, Rogers explains the challenge he and his wife endured when their young became seriously ill with meningitis:

The entire process was absolutely exhausting, physically, mentally, and emotionally. And had either my wife or I worked for almost any other employers, it would have been financially exhausting as well. Not only for the actual medical care, but for the weeks of time we were at the hospital and away from our work. But because we both had paid leave, we were able to concentrate on caring for our son, not on worried about keeping our jobs. You know, the way it should be.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of working people in the United States do not have paid family leave through their jobs. In North Carolina, even unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act is inaccessible for 64 percent of working people. This means North Carolinians face impossible choices when new children are born or adopted and when serious personal or family health needs inevitably arise.

And that’s an important detail – the bit about adoption. Because while my son is now my son, he was legally a foster child at the time this all happened. If my wife and I were relying on federal law to protect our jobs when we were staying at the hospital, we would be completely unprotected. And that would just be the hospitalization – we still took off time from work for the follow-up appointments….

When I think about all the ways this country makes having children difficult, from the insane price of hospital birth, to the withering cost of quality childcare, to the highly inequitable distribution of public education funding, it is perhaps this more mundane challenge – simply having the time and resources to care for a sick child or family member – that is the most maddening.

None of us are immune from the need, but we only penalize those who can least afford it. If my wife and I had been working hourly, minimum wage jobs, there is a good chance my son’s illness would have broken our family. That reality is simply not acceptable.

And this is from “Do You Know a #Dadvocate?” in which Stephanie Carson of Women Advance celebrates her own husband’s parenting and the absurdity of America’s lack of leave laws for parents:

Did you know about the Caregiver Relief Act (HB 269/SB 337)? It’s a bill in the North Carolina State Assembly that would expand the types of family relationships covered to include care of siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, step parents and in-laws. That’s right: as of now, if someone in your family who is not a child, spouse or parent gets seriously sick and you need to take time off to care for them, your employer can deny the request, and your job is not protected. NC is also home to more than 100,000 grandparents who are primary caregivers for their grandchildren, and many of them are still in the workforce. They need access to FMLA when serious medical situations arise, so that they can be there for their grandkids and not lose their jobs.

At the federal level, there is the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act . It would provide up to 12 weeks of leave with partial income (up to 2/3 of regular monthly wages) when employees take time off for family and medical situations including pregnancy/adoption/foster placement, or a serious health condition that impacts a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner. The leave would be available to both moms and dads, which is critical because maternity leave-only policies steer companies away from hiring or promoting qualified women who might have children during their time with the company, deepening the gender pay gap and contributing to overall gender inequality.

Working dads need access to these policies just like the rest of us. If we’re going to create the world we want to live in, where gender inequality is a thing of the past and working people are supported to make the best choices for ourselves and our families, we need policies that allow men to be just as involved as women in family caregiving.

Commentary, Trump Administration

Read this story and be outraged by Trump’s horrific immigration policies

If you’ve been paying any attention to the news in recent days, you’ve no doubt heard something about the roiling controversy surrounding the Trump administration’s dreadful immigration policies and the frightening impact it’s been having on the families it’s been destroying.

To get a real and stomach-turning feel for what the reality of these policies are really doing, check out this article from Zoe Carpenter at The Nation entitled “What It’s Like Inside a Border Patrol Facility Where Families Are Being Separated – The Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy has overwhelmed Ursula, where children sleep in cages, the lights never go off, and detainees are brought in 24 hours a day.”

The dog kennel: That’s how the Border Patrol processing facility in McAllen is known, because of the chain-link fencing penning more than a thousand migrants inside. The 77,000-square-foot facility—often called “Ursula,” because of the street it’s on—lies just a few miles north of the US-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for unauthorized migrants. Ursula is one of the first places immigrants are taken to after being apprehended by Border Patrol—and now, the facility is the epicenter for the family separations that are occurring because of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy towards border crossers.

A large cage inside held dozens of young boys and teenagers without their families, some of whom looked as young as 5. A few slept on green mats with silver Mylar blankets pulled tightly around them. A few water bottles and bags of chips lay strewn around. Otherwise, the cages were bare, without toys or books. Separate areas held groups of girls; men and women alone; and mothers and fathers with their children. The overhead lights never go off. In one pen, a woman named Valesca sat on the ground, holding her 1-year-old son. She cried as she recounted leaving another child behind in Guatemala. She’d been inside the processing center for four days.

Under normal circumstances, adults confined in the facility are supposed to stay only 12 hours before being sent to court hearings or other detention centers. But across the border region, detention facilities, children’s shelters, and the legal system are overwhelmed. In May, the Trump administration issued a directive to prosecute all unauthorized border crossers in federal court, rather than to process them through immigration courts. The criminal charges mean extra paperwork, and a flood of cases into the legal system. The Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley office is now charging more than a 1,000 adults each week with illegal entry, a misdemeanor.

In one area of the Ursula facility, computers have been set up for “virtual processing,” so that Border Patrol agents in other cities can process the paperwork of detainees being held here. Ursula has only 10 agents permanently stationed there, plus hundreds of temporarily assigned agents, and they can’t handle the volume on their own. Detainees are brought in and out of the facility 24 hours a day. As of noon on Sunday, Ursula held 1,129 people, including 528 families and nearly 200 children who’d crossed the border without their parents. The facility has only four social workers onsite.

The shift to criminal prosecutions is also causing the systematic separation of parents and children….

Click here to read the rest of this important story.

Commentary

Editorial: Early voting scheme proves GOP can’t be trusted on voter ID

In case you missed it, the Fayetteville Observer had a somewhat unique condemnation of the GOP plan to pass a voter ID constitutional amendment this week. In a new lead editorial, the editors say while they were inclined to be receptive to the idea, last week’s scheme to limit early voting in such a way that would target Black voters convinced them Republicans are up to no good.

While one might reasonably be inclined to say that it was always remarkably naive and delusional to have ever thought GOP leaders had any purity of motives, the editorial still gets it right in the end. This is from “Voter ID plan best taken with a grain of suspicion”:

“During its session on Thursday, members of the N.C. House approved rule changes in the state’s popular early voting period. They decided to end early voting on the Friday evening before Election Day or a primary, instead of on Saturday. They would keep the polls open for the same number of days by starting early voting one day earlier.

So, what’s the harm? Well, it’s this: The final Saturday before the actual election is one of the most popular early-voting days for African-American voters. Cutting that Saturday out may well cut the black vote. Anyone need to guess which party most African-American voters are registered in? Yup, Democrat. There they go again, trying to restrict the black — and hence Democratic — vote, with what one federal judge in another voting case called “almost surgical precision.”

Different place, same tricks. Whether it’s with gerrymandering or with voting rules, the Republican majority in the General Assembly remains committed to doing everything it can to cut the Democratic vote, even if that means resorting to racial discrimination. It’s no wonder so few African Americans are interested in joining the GOP….

But what about voter ID? Perhaps this argument will never be settled, but it is true that so far, most claims of widespread voter fraud have turned out to be bogus. Various investigations across the country have found most claims to be false. Only a tiny fraction of voter fraud allegations turn out to be true — a handful of cases.

But still, as hacking and computerized counterfeiting get more common, we wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see some level of voter fraud become more common. We’ve long said we could support a straight-up, fairly operated voter ID law in place, if the law made it impossible for legitimate voters to be denied access to the polls. That means no charge for the IDs, and a substantial outreach effort to find the people who need them — often voters who are extremely poor, old and minorities.

Given this latest attempt to alter early voting, we’re finding it hard to trust voter ID efforts, or anything else related to voting reform. Before a voter ID goes on the ballot, we want lawmakers to debate and enact the comprehensive rules and guidelines that will govern how the ID process will work.”

Click here to read the entire editorial.