Guest: Theresa Cardinal Brown of the Bipartisan Policy Center; Also: More Trump losses in federal court on the environment; Callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2019, 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The "national emergency" may be fake, but the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border is real and getting worse...and new Trump policies are doing the opposite of helping. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Last week, Donald Trump threatened to shutdown the border with Mexico entirely. Over the weekend, he announced he was ending aid programs to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras (which are not in Mexico, Fox "News"!) because, as he claimed, "they haven't done a thing for us." All of that, as an actual humanitarian crisis --- if not a pretend "National Emergency" --- grips a number of U.S. towns along the Mexico border, thanks to an unprecedented wave of migrant families and children coming, mostly, from Central American countries in strife.

We're joined today by THERESA CARDINAL BROWN, Director of Immigration and Cross-border Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center to try and make sense of what is and isn't happening at the border right now, how Trump's policies are affecting it, and what Congress needs to do try to ease what she acknowledges is, indeed, a crisis, if not the "emergency" that Trump has declared in order to build his long promised wall.

Brown, a former policy advisor in the Office of the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection during both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama Administrations, confirms that the influx of migrants streaming up from Central America is unprecedented and now overwhelming detention facilities and shelters built for previous waves of migrants --- such as the record number which flowed in during 2000, largely comprised of mostly men from Mexico who could be deported more quickly than the families now claiming asylum after crossing the border. (Brown notes that even a wall would not prevent such asylum claims, as it would be build on the U.S. side of the border, allowing asylum seeking immigrants to make their claim even before making it to the other side of the wall, since they are already on U.S. territory by that time.)

Brown suggests Trump's termination of U.S. aid for Central American would serve to make the problem worse, as much of those funds go to non-governmental organizations trying to improve the living conditions in countries under duress from poverty and violence. She also details the economic disaster that would likely accompany the closure of the Mexican border threatened by the President ("this may be a threat aimed at Mexico, but it would also significantly impact the United States"), and explains why "the wall will do absolutely nothing to address this current flow of people." That, she describes, as a problem due to U.S. Customs and Border Protection becoming "overstretched" because they do "not have facilities that are appropriate for anyone --- families or kids --- for the length of time they're having to be held there."

We must "address our asylum system. And that means, back to front, starting with the immigration courts" which are similarly overwhelmed and insufficiently funded, she argues, resulting in cases that stretch for years before asylum is determined one way or another. "Ultimately, what we need to do is deal with what's going on in the sending countries," she tells me. "What are the push factors that are driving migration? You have instability of government, you have people who don't feel that they have personal safety because there's impunity and corruption in their governments. They are threatened with gangs and violence and extreme poverty. What can we do to help in that situation? That's the longer term solution, but it needs to be also worked at the source. So we've got to look at this from multiple places."

Next up today, Trump's multiple losses in federal courts last week on several fronts where he's tried to undermine the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") may have been matched by his multiple losses in federal court last week on the environmental front, including a ruling from a federal Judge in Alaska late on Friday who determined that the Administration's reversal of Obama-era protections against off-shore oil drilling in the Arctic and parts of the Atlantic Oceans violate federal law. She has ordered some 128 million previously-protected acres that Trump's Admin has hoped to lease for drilling, once again off-limits to exploration and exploitation. The ruling is at least the fourth setback over the past two weeks for Trump environmental policy, where federal courts have blocked Trump agency rollbacks of nearly two dozen Obama-era conservation policies over the past two years.

Finally, we open up the phone lines to listeners today on much of the above and even a few callers with some thoughts on 2020 and more...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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