Commentary, Defending Democracy

Another editorial blasts Trump Census question, backs NC’s lawsuit against it

Be sure to check out the lead editorial in this morning’s Fayetteville Observer, (“Question will distort NC census count”). After explaining that no one has a solid count on the number of undocumented immigrants in North Carolina and the Trump administration’s laughable explanation that it hopes to get a better count by asking about people’s citizenship status on the Census, the editorial puts it this way:

“Nice try, but the idea is dripping with unintended consequences. It’s more likely to send immigrants running from census enumerators and creating an inaccurate count, especially in states like this one, with a large immigrant population.

The problem is, people who are here legally might run too. Statistics compiled by the American Immigration Council show that there are about 200,000 American citizens in North Carolina who have at least one undocumented immigrant in their household. Those are households that may work hard to avoid being counted. There is plenty of evidence out there about what happens in immigrant communities where there is fear that cooperating with government officials can result in raids and deportation. People — even those in the U.S. legally — tend to disappear into the shadows.

That’s why adding the citizenship question to the next census form is a bad idea. It’s likely to result in inaccurate counts, and a significant undercount in states like this one. An undercount has real consequences. This state gets billions of dollars in federal aid every year, and in most cases that aid is based on census numbers. A decline in head count becomes a decline in revenue, which will either deprive this state of important services or force state taxpayers to take up the slack.

We’re also on the verge of qualifying for an additional seat in Congress. If our population growth continues at its present pace, and declines continue in other states, we’re likely to get a 14th congressional district….

All of those reasons are why we support N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein’s joining 16 other states, the District of Columbia and multiple major American cities in a suit against the federal government that argues that the addition of a citizenship question is unconstitutional. The bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors has also joined the suit, saying that the citizenship question would ‘fatally undermine the accuracy of the population count.’ The Constitution requires an every-10-year census and the addition of a citizenship question would interfere with an accurate count….

There will be plenty of arguments that the suit — brought by largely Democratic state administrations — is itself a political statement. And for some parties to the suit, it may well be.

But the bottom line for us is the likelihood that the citizenship question will distort the 2020 census results in ways likely to hurt North Carolina.”

Click here to read the entire editorial.

Commentary

This quote explains the utter madness of U.S. immigration courts

The bad jokes and profanity may make some people uncomfortable, but for others, they will be the only way to endure the astounding facts and the utter insanity conveyed about the U.S. immigration court system in a recent episode of the HBO show “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”

Click here to watch the entire 17-plus minute video, but if you don’t have the time right now, a lot of what you need to know is summed up at around the six-minute mark when Oliver discusses the fact that most immigrants — including young children — are not provided with a lawyer to represent them. Oliver then goes on to play an actual recording of a federal immigration court judge explaining his view that it’s possible to teach immigration law to three and four year olds.

This was not a joke. Here is the remarkable transcript of the comments by Assistant Chief Immigration Judge Jack H. Weil:

“I’ve taught immigration law literally to three-year-olds and four-year-olds. It takes a lot of time. It take a lot of patience. They get it. It’s not the most efficient, but it can be done.”

Not surprisingly, Oliver goes on to demonstrate the complete madness of such a statement, as well as several other aspects of what one former judge aptly describes as a system in which America tries “death penalty cases in a traffic court setting.”

The bottom line: Take the time when you get a chance to watch the video and to share it with any friends and relatives who cling to the notion that our country still bears any resemblance to the one that was once celebrated in Emma Lazarus’ words on the Statue of Liberty.

Commentary

Another excuse for not expanding Medicaid bites the dust

Veteran reporter Richard Craver of the Winston-Salem Journal has an important story about North Carolina’s disastrous, ongoing failure to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act this morning.

This is from “Medicaid expansion costs proving to be negligible for states, Wake Forest professor says”:

North Carolina and the other 17 states that have not expanded their Medicaid program are running out of excuses from an analytical standpoint, according to a leading health-care law expert.

Mark Hall, a law and public health professor at Wake Forest University, released last week a study titled “Do states regret expanding Medicaid?”

…The main argument against Medicaid expansion, shared by several N.C. Republican legislators leaders including Speaker pro tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, is that the federal government may not fulfill its pledge of covering 90 percent of the administrative costs of expansion.

They say they don’t want states to be unnecessarily vulnerable to picking up more than 10 percent of the costs.

“The strong balance of objective evidence indicates that actual costs to states so far from expanding Medicaid are negligible or minor, and that states across the political spectrum do not regret their decisions to expand Medicaid,” Hall said.

For example, Hall cites reports that several red or purple states — Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio and West Virginia — “have actually reduced, not increased, state spending as a result of expansion.”

Part of the spending decrease comes from smaller-than-expected enrollment in recent years, particularly in Indiana, North Dakota and Ohio.

“None of those states that had legislative ‘triggers,’ allowing them to roll back expansion if projected costs turn out to be seriously wrong, have felt the need to pull the plug on expansion,” Hall said….

“Claims are not well founded that Medicaid expansion will cost states considerably more than what objective analysts project,” Hall said.

“Instead, those claims are based on sources that are either incomplete, inaccurate, misleading, or out of date in various ways.

“The probable costs appear to be quite low in comparison with the economic and public health benefits of expansion,” he said.

Click here to read the entire article and here to read Prof. Hall’s report.

Commentary, Defending Democracy

Editorials agree: Census question on citizenship is a big mistake

There were two fine op-ed in the Raleigh area over the weekend on the controversial Trump administration plan to mar the 2020 Census with an inappropriate question on citizenship.

Here’s columnist Ned Barnett of Raleigh’s News & Observer:

“A citizenship question will drive down the responses not only from undocumented immigrants afraid of deportation, but also the responses from native-born Americans and naturalized citizens who are living in immigrant communities. They’ll be wary of disclosing the presence of a non-citizen in their household at a time when federal officers are more aggressively arresting people who are in the U.S. illegally.

The risk from undercounting immigrants is high in North Carolina, said Rebecca Tippett, a demographer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She noted that 414,000 children in the state have at least one parent who is an immigrant. Undercounting many of those children could lead to the underfunding of schools. Meanwhile, missing anyone — child or adult — results in a loss of $988 per person in federal funding, she said.

Conservative Republicans welcome this filtering. An undercount of undocumented immigrants, their citizen children and other citizen relatives will help Republicans when legislative redistricting occurs after the 2020 Census.”

And here’s Rebecca Tippett, Director of Carolina Demography at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Carolina Population Center on WRAL.com:

“The concern about the newly added question is not related to its content. We have a long history of asking Americans about their citizenship status on the census and other surveys conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.  The concern is the addition of this question without the standard rigor and vetting process the bureau typically takes for adding new census questions.  Without this research, we do not understand how it will impact response rates, accuracy, and overall costs.

The census is one of the most important activities of our government. It is the foundation of our representative democracy.  Every decade, the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are divided among the states based on their total population in the most recent census.  The census also determines the allocation of more than half a trillion dollars of federal funds, including more than $16 billion annually to North Carolina….

Non-response in 2020 may be even higher, for many reasons. The U.S. population is larger and harder to count than ever before.  Overall response rates to statistical surveys have been declining steadily for the past few decades and Americans are increasingly distrustful of government data collection efforts.  If the newly added question increases non-response among immigrant communities as some worry, this could have far-reaching impacts on North Carolina.

Nearly 800,000 immigrants were living in North Carolina in 2016, representing 8 percent of the total population, with high concentrations in both urban and rural communities. Higher non-response and a greater undercount of the immigrant population could exacerbate the undercount of children in North Carolina in 2020.”

Commentary

NC lawmaker plumbs new depths with outrageous attack on #MarchforOurLives kids

Rep. Beverly Boswell

North Carolina legislative and Republican Party leaders should demand an immediate apology from State Rep. Beverly Boswell. And no, it’s not just for the recent revelation that Boswell has been fibbing about her professional career.

As Raleigh’s News & Observer reported yesterday, Boswell has accused speakers at the recent March for Our Lives rally against gun violence as wanting to “murder of those who would not turn over their guns to the government.”

This is, in a word, insane.

And if anyone had even the slighted doubt about the matter, the N&O explicitly debunked the claim:

“The March For Our Lives website doesn’t say anything about forcefully taking guns from gun owners, much less harming them.

The organization says it wants universal, comprehensive background checks and a digitized, searchable database of guns at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (known as ATF). It also wants bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as funds for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence.

March For Our Lives has the support of several large, liberal organizing groups that support gun control. And a survey of the Washington marchers found that protesters there were largely liberal, with 79 percent of those who were randomly surveyed identifying as ‘left-leaning.’

But the group doesn’t appear to have ties to groups with a history of advocating violence. PolitiFact recently debunked a claim by the National Rifle Association that the March For Our Lives is “backed by radicals with a history of violent threats, language and actions.”

And this is from a Think Progress post by Melanie Schmitz:
“We are not trying to take away everybody’s guns away, and the NRA wants people to think that,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky said in a speech the day of the march. “They are fearmongers. They want to sell weapons by exploiting people’s fears. So, the second we want to put common-sense resolutions on these assault weapons, the NRA will say they are trying to steal every single one of your guns, and people believe them. Fortunately, the majority of the American people see past this.”
The bottom line: Republican leaders need to call Rep. Boswell out and demand that she apologize for her outrageous and incendiary words. Unfortunately, in a state in which outrageous statements and behavior are pretty much the stock-in-trade for the executive director of the state Republican Party, this seems like a long shot.