Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Day 13: Some daylight

Well, that was unexpected.

My preparation for the call was the congressman’s Facebook statement from yesterday afternoon that Adrienne Martini called to my attention:
My latest on children being separated from their parents at the border:
"This is a humanitarian issue, and the policy of separating children from their parents is wrong and needs to be addressed immediately. For too many years and administrations, Washington has failed to address how to secure our borders while also ensuring our immigration policies are humane and address the real challenges our border enforcement officers face every day.
"Congress should address this issue quickly, and the compromise legislation I support will do so. In addition, this legislation improves border security, resolves the status of the DACA population and contains other reforms such as the end of the diversity lottery. This legislation would be the most significant reform to our broken immigration system in many decades, and it represents a good-faith compromise that will forever put an end to this disruptive practice."
My take away was that, while I appreciated the congressman’s recognition that this is a “humanitarian situation,” there were some vague points I wanted cleared up.

First, I wondered whether “the compromise bill” referenced in the statement was the bill put together by Paul Ryan that I’d read about.

According to the staffer, there are a number of bills being considered.


So the next question had to do with “resolving the status of the DACA population.” Without knowing what kind of “resolution” he has in mind, this language isn’t all that helpful.

The staffer said he didn’t have a statement from the congressman on the details of a DACA resolution that he would support.

On to the question about “securing our borders,” and whether that meant a wall.

The staffer said that it wasn’t more specific than secure borders.

I put in a pitch for not turning that into money for the wall, which would be a lot of money for a relatively ineffective tool.
“And besides, the president promised us that Mexico would pay for the wall. Don’t make him break his promise by having us pay for it.”
To sum up the legislative part of it, Faso is open to a number of possibilities, including a stand-alone that would fix the problem of separations and prevent it from happening again.

OK, on to the opening part of the statement, which says, “the policy of separating children from their parents is wrong and needs to be addressed immediately.”
That’s true, but it also contains an amazing disconnect from reality. It makes it sound like this policy just happened, but that misrepresents the truth. The policy was a choice by the White House.
The congressman has been clear that this is a White House policy and that the White House should fix it.
Oh, I hadn’t heard that. Where did he make that statement?
I have a statement from him.
So he’s telling his constituents. That’s good. Is he also speaking out more publically?
Yes, he was on CNN this morning.
I’m very glad to hear that.
I urged the congressman (well, I expressed my urgency on the matter to the congressman’s staffer) to speak directly to the president.
“Look, I’m from your own party. This policy is wrong. You have to stop it.” This president really hates admitting that he’s ever made a mistake, so he’s going to need to hear it from as many places as possible.
The staffer basically agreed.
I look forward to hearing a rising chorus of Republicans calling for the president to stop engaging our government in these crimes.
The former head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement says that, the longer the policy continues, the greater the number of children who will never be reunited with their parents.
Every day the president continues this criminal policy, more children are separated from their parents, and we add up additional children who will never be reunited with their parents.
That’s your tax dollars and mine, being used to commit crimes.
That’s the government that represents you and me, separating families.
The president can fix this today.
Our mutual wishes to “have a good afternoon” were more sincere than usual.

Things to watch out for here:
  • "Secure our borders" is still vague.
  • DACA resolution is still vague.
  • A "stand-alone" bill to deal with family separations at the border is potentially good, but I'd still want to see the actual thing before giving Faso an "attaboy!". I'd want to watch out for something that is called a "stand-alone" but that includes some subtly damaging language.
  • One "solution" being considered is a bill that would allow families to be kept together, but would also reduce the time for hearing an asylum case to 14 days (!!!); see here.
  • Another possible danger is overturning what is known as the Flores settlement, "a decades-old federal court ruling that bans the government from holding children in immigration detention for longer than 20 days. Should the bills pass, the administration would be able to keep some children and parents incarcerated together, potentially for long periods of time." (Same source as above)
So Faso is now publically saying better things. We need to watch closely and let him know if we see his actions deviating from his claimed priorities.

And keep calling.

Republicans need to understand that for as long as this policy continues, it’s on them.

John Faso's Washington DC office is (202 225-5614).

The follow-up from June 25th.

Earlier calls:

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