Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America have all bad news, starting with a federal judge putting a hold on Pres. Trump’s immigration order without citing any law or constitutional provision and Trump’s subsequent tweets attacking the judicial system. We also blast Trump for his moral equivalence in dismissing Vladimir Putin as a killer by saying America’s done a lot of bad things too. And we discuss and debate whether the slower GOP strategy on Obamacare and tax reform is responsible leadership or letting a golden opportunity slip away.
President Trump’s executive order is not a permanent ban but is necessary for national security thanks to the lax vetting practices applied by the Obama administration, according to a leading immigration policy experts.
Trump has issued a flurry of orders, but his executive order last week ordering an immediate and indefinite pause on travel to the United States from seven terrorism-prone nations is drawing by far the fiercest response. Protesters have clogged airports and political critics are demanding Trump rescind the order.
Jessica Vaughan is director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. She says there is a lot of confusion and misinformation about what Trump’s order does.
“I think the most misunderstood part is that people are being permanently prevented from coming to the United States who had been approved before,” said Vaughan. “This is not a permanent ban. It’s a temporary suspension. You can call it a ban if you want, but it’s a temporary ban. No one has been told that the benefit they were approved for has been taken away.”
And she says refugees in dire situations are still being processed from those countries even with the pause in place.
“I have to emphasize there is language in this executive order that anybody with a particularly emergency situation, compelling circumstances, in imminent danger, or in other categories can ask for a waiver. From what I’ve heard in statements today, they’ve already granted more than a thousand waivers for people,” said Vaughan.
But she says the pause on entry from the seven unstable nations is needed to recalibrate how the U.S. screens people entering our country.
“The point was to give our government the opportunity to take another look at these people who have been granted green cards, visas, refugee status. We know that the vetting process under the Obama administration was not adequate,” said Vaughan.
Vaughan, a former visa officer, says the Obama administration failed to do even basic screening much of the time, including waiving required interviews with those seeking to go to the U.S. But she said the problems didn’t end there.
“In other cases, officers were not allowed to look very deeply into the applications that they got. The claims they made on their applications were not always verified. Officers were told to assume that they were qualified and not ask too many questions. [There was] not a lot of fraud prevention work taking place,” said Vaughan.
Then there is the problem of trying to vet people coming from hostile countries or ones that don’t have decent records on their people.
“In some of these countries, we don’t have enough of a relationship with the government to be able to be sure that people’s identities are who they say they are or that their story checks out,” said Vaughan.
“There was a lot of enforcement that was undone by the Obama administration. We’ve seen illegal immigration rise to levels we have not seen in many years,” said Vautghan.
Vaughan says she has sympathy for those caught in transit as the order took effect, but she says national security has to take precedence.
“It is important to recognize that our security has been put at risk every single day that we have not had adequate vetting in place. So it was important to put a stop to that as soon as possible,” said Vaughan.
Vaughan likens the pace of Trump’s immigration actions thus far – ranging from this order to ordering border wall construction to cracking down on sanctuary cities – to “drinking from a fire hose,” but she believes Trump is on the right course.
“There’s a lot that needed to happen,” she said. “It’s been presented as an integrated plan. Throwaway lines like, ‘Let’s have more border security.’ They’re talking about a wall but changing the policies also and enforcing the laws in the interior. That’s a comprehensive approach that’s likely to work.”
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are encouraged by President Trump’s vow to enforce existing immigration laws. They also rip Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for her Syria trip and going easy on Assad in her analysis. They unload on disingenuous Democrats upset about Trump looking to end sanctuary cities, and they note the rise of Canada’s Trump – and it’s someone you may well be aware of.
President Obama’s thawing of relations with Cuba has already drawn plenty of criticism, but a prominent Castro critic says Obama’s actions in his final week will only serve to increase repression in Cuba while enriching the coffers of the Castro regime.
On Friday, the Obama administration announced it would no longer accept Cubans into the country if they arrive in the U.S. without a visa. For years, the American policy had been to accept refugees who reached our shores but turn back those encountered off the Florida coast.
For critics of Obama’s earlier overtures, this latest move is another major slap in the face.
“It is very significant. It is another cave-in by Obama to Castro,” said Humberto Fontova, a prominent author and journalist who fled Cuba as a boy while his father was imprisoned.
However, he says it’s not the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy shift that enrages him the most.
“Folks, this is a smokescreen. This is cover. This is camouflage for the real issue here,” said Fontova. “What Obama did along with this is he abrogated the doctor asylum program. Read the fine print, folks.”
At issue is the Cuban policy of “Doctor Diplomacy,” which Fontova describes as Cuba sending doctors to many friendly or third-world nations in exchange for large sums of money pumped into the Cuban treasury. He says the doctors get less than 10 percent of the money and their families are “held hostage” while they’re abroad.
In 2006, President George W. Bush instituted the aforementioned asylum program, allowing those Cuban doctors to defect to the U.S. by strolling into any one of our embassies around the world.
“That was costing the Castro regime dearly because what the host country would have paid for these quack doctors was being lost. It’s estimated this was bringing in about eight billion to the Castro regime,” said Fontova.
He says that money will flow more freely again now that Obama has reversed the Bush policy.
Fontova also points out that Obama is not clamping down on all Cuban entering the U.S. Those with visas are welcome, and he says how those visas are distributed is a scandal in itself.
“Here’s the kicker. The issuance of those visas is outsourced by Obama to the Castro regime. The U.S. embassy in Havana leaves it up to Castro to decide who is going to get these visas,” said Fontova.
He says the visa recipients are chosen specifically to fleece the American welfare system for the benefit of Cuba, a strategy that Obama helped make easier by easing the U.S. remittance policy toward Cuba early in his administration.
“They sprint off the plane, run straight to the welfare offices, apply for the U.S. welfare benefits, which can total $1,200 a month, and almost immediately start wiring that money back to Cuba,” said Fontova.
“It’s estimated that last year four billion dollars flowed from the U.S. to Cuba, thanks to Obama opening that lifeline and thanks to those so-called refugees that the Castro regime chooses,” said Fontova.
In his farewell address, President Obama took credit for opening “a new chapter with the Cuban people.” Fontova says that new chapter means even more suffering for the Cuban people.
“The real horror of this is that repression in Cuba is at a 20-year high. The last two years, in other words coinciding exactly with Obama’s opening, have coincided with a wave of terror against Cuban dissidents,” said Fontova, who says the Cuban government feels emboldened to persecute dissenters since it know there will be no negative reactions from the U.S.
And thanks to Obama refusing to accept refugees who make it to U.S. shores, those dissidents have no way of escape.
“The Cubans who Castro didn’t want to come to the U.S., genuine refugees, folks who jump on two pieces of styrofoam tied together. Those people will be prevented from coming, but the Cubans who Castro wants to come over here because they’re a cash cow for him will continue coming,” said Fontova.
He says the Cuban dissidents point the finger of blame at Obama.
“Do you know that Cuban dissidents have been protesting in Cuba wearing Obama masks? They’re saying it’s his fault. Naturally, that hasn’t been reported in the mainstream media, but it is all Obama’s fault, Cuban dissidents keep telling us,” said Fontova.
The Berlin terrorist attack may well be the result of poor immigration and refugee policies that threaten the population now and even more so in years to come, and the author of a new book on the subject says it’s already happening in many parts of the United States.
Leo Hohmann is a longtime investigative reporter. He is news editor at WND.com and author of “Stealth Invasion: The Muslim Conquest Through Immigration and Resettlement Jihad.”
On Tuesday, authorities in Berlin released a man originally suspected of carrying out the attack due to a lack of evidence. Hohmann says it could be very difficult for the Germans to track down the perpetrator due to their own loose immigration policies.
“The German government has imported so many of these refugees and asylum seekers over the past two years, up to 1.3 million have come in, that they don’t know exactly who they have that they’re dealing with here,” said Hohmann.
And he says the longer the manhunt goes on, the harder it will be to find the terrorist.
“The real killer, they said, remains on the loose. The problem is with that many refugees in Germany, they have set up many enclaves. There are many, many safe houses that the killers could have escaped to and in which they’re being harbored,” said Hohmann.
He has no doubt this attack is an an example of radical Islamic terrorism.
“There’s no question about that. The only question in my mind is was it done by a refugee or could it have been a son of a Muslim migrant,” said Hohmann.
He reaches that conclusion by using the past as prologue in evaluating terrorism in the U.S. and abroad.
“They all have Islam in common and the other thing they have in common is that they’re all perpetrated by either Islamic immigrants or sons of Islamic immigrants. So you have a whole class of people who have isolated themselves in these western countries, come in through liberal immigration policies, live in enclaves, don’t assimilate and at some point or another get ‘radicalized,'” said Hohmann.
He rattled off a list of 10 recent terrorist attacks that fit the bill, from the Boston Marathon bombing to the Chattanooga military recruitment murders to last December’s attack in San Bernardino.
He says the liberal immigration policies in Germany have already reshaped that country.
“They’ve basically established a nation within a nation,” said Hohmann.
Hohmann says our media constantly treat terrorism as isolated attacks that share no common threads, thereby minimizing the threat. He says that has lulled Americans into not seeing the scope of the threat.
“The American people live in ignorant bliss and think that we’re really at a state of peace in the world when, as my book points out, we’re in the middle of World War III,” said Hohmann.
President-Elect Donald Trump drew political fire from many corners by calling for a temporary ban on all Muslim immigration. Hohmann believes that is the right policy. He says Trump’s updated call for “extreme vetting” won’t stop the threat.
“I’m not sure it would have caught a single one of the terrorists in this list of ten that I have on my page sitting in front of me over the past two years,” said Hohmann.
He says current vetting is worthless since U.S. officials only ask applicants if they are members of ISIS. But he says even much tougher scrutiny wouldn’t solve the problem.
“Say they answered all the questions correctly and we let them in. They does not preclude them from becoming radicalized after they get here. That’s what happens most often. Not to mention the second generation of migrants is more dangerous than the first generation,” said Hohmann.
But Hohmann says Muslim groups are playing a much longer game, namely changing societies as immigration continues.
“The violent jihad that we’ve been speaking about is only part of the problem and some could argue that it’s only the smallest part. There’s another problem and it’s a more long-term problem. That is civilization jihad,” said Hohmann.
“It’s a long-term plan by the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate American society from within, using liberal immigration policies and lack of assimilation, to build what is called a nation within a nation,” said Hohmann.
He says tightening immigration laws might solve part of the problem but there is also a clear path forward for addressing those already here.
“You have to start requiring assimilation. You have to stop giving special favors to Islam. As we’ll read in my book, we’ve not only invited folks here from these areas of the world that hate American values, but we’ve been kowtowed to their values and not expected any sort of assimilation,” said Hohmann.
Many of Donald Trump’s cabinet selections are getting strong reviews from grassroots activists and traditional Republicans, but a leading immigration expert says Trump’s choice to head the Department of Labor could be a threat to American jobs.
Center for Immigration Studies Executive Director Mark Krikorian sees fast food titan Andrew Puzder as a problem across the board on immigration, but he says his biggest concern with a Puzder-led Labor Department is the influx of legal immigrants who could put American citizens out of work.
“The primary problem is you have to get the okay from the Labor Department before you can bring in one of these people on worker visas. There’s something like three quarters of a million people we bring in. These are people who are often directly replacing American workers,” said Krikorian.
“We saw this at Disney about a year-and-a-half ago. We just saw it with Carnival Cruise Lines, I think just this week. They fired their American workers, usually their IT workforce. They bring in foreign workers on visas that have been okayed by the Labor Department. And then (the American workers) are forced to train their replacements,” said Krikorian.
While that does happen with some frequency, Krikorian says the big picture is murkier and there are no hard numbers on how many Americans lose their jobs to legal immigrants.
“It’s never a one-to-one thing. You can’t say that one immigrant worker comes in and that means one fewer job for an American. The economy doesn’t really work that way,” said Krikorian. “There’s no way to say this guy lost his job because of that guy. It doesn’t work that way.”
However, Krikorian says it is clear which Americans are most at risk of losing their jobs through the importing of foreign workers.
“At the bottom of the labor market, and that means less-skilled workers and that means teenagers looking for work and others – people who get out of prison and want to clean up their act,” said Krikorian. “Anybody who’s getting on to the first rung of the job ladder. Those people are hurt by ongoing immigration,” he said.
So where does Puzder fit into all this? Krikorian says Puzder has long been an outspoken proponent of bring in foreign workers.
“Andy Puzder has for years shown himself to be a big fan of importing more and more and more and more foreign guest workers to compete with Americans,” said Krikorian.
He also sees Puzder as being on the wrong side of the most recent congressional fight over immigration reform.
“[Puzder supported] that Gang of Eight bill from a few years ago that would have amnestied illegal aliens – the one Rubio and Schumer and Obama were pushing. It would have amnestied illegal aliens, would have hugely increased legal immigration, almost doubled it, and supposedly would have enforced the law better at some point down the road,” said Krikorian.
He says Puzder also weighed in on immigration policy during the 2016 campaign.
“Just last year he made a press statement with several other people, calling on the Republican primary candidates to support so-called comprehensive immigration reform, in other words Obama’s immigration agenda,” said Krikorian.
In response to criticism of Puzder’s previous immigration pronouncements, the Trump transition is trying to assure skeptics they have nothing to worry about.
“A statement was issued under his name, which I think was pretty clearly written by the campaign, that said he would be tough in protecting American workers and that sort of thing. Maybe. I’m skeptical because his whole life has actually been the opposite so why would we believe in this sudden change,” said Krikorian.
Krikorian says Trump’s vision on legal immigration has always been a bit fuzzy but that the president-elect has made several strong promises.
“He’s always been kind of shifty on this and vague, but he has been very clear that these visa programs must never be used to replace American workers. And the law allows that now,” said Krikorian.
Other members of Trump’s cabinet who will deal directly with immigration issues are getting rave reviews, especially Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the nominee for attorney general.
“Jeff Sessions is a top pick. He has the potential to be the best attorney general in American history. I have great respect for Jeff Sessions. I think he’s going to be great across the board at the Justice Department, both immigration stuff and everything else,” said Krikorian.
Retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly is Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Krikorian says Kelly is a well-known “border hawk” but isn’t sure how he will approach concerns over legal immigrants overstaying their visas or making sure businesses do not hire people in the U.S. illegally.
“I don’t have any reason to think he’ll be bad on that but he doesn’t have any experience on it so we’re going to have to wait and see how he does,” said Krikorian.
Krikorian admits Puzder will likely be confirmed by the Senate. It’s only then that America will find out if his new assurances or his old positions carry the day.
“Supposedly he’s seen the light,” said Krikorian. “We’ll have to see whether that’s true or not.”