On today's BradCast: Several encouraging election-related news items for Democrats and others in the fact-based community, but still more troubling news for American immigrants and their families as DACA recipients are left out of a new Senate deal to keep the government open. [Audio link to show posted at end of article.]
We start with some of the good news for Democrats, as yet another special election on Tuesday has resulted in yet another state legislative seat flipped from "red" to "blue". This time it was a special election for the Missouri House in a district where Trump is said to have won by 28 points in 2016. The stunning victory continues a tidal wave of Republican seats picked up by Democrats since Donald Trump took office last year. There is less good news for Republicans, however, as a holocaust denier and actual member of the American Nazi party is now set to become the GOP's nominee for the U.S. House in Illinois' 3rd Congressional district this fall.
Meanwhile, U.S. Senate leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced a breakthrough agreement on Wednesday to keep the federal government funded and open in advance of Thursday night's shutdown deadline. The deal, if adopted by both chambers of Congress, would increase both military and domestic spending by some $300 billion, includes additional disaster relief to states rebuilding after last year's hurricanes, funds community health centers for several years, and increases the debt ceiling to avoid a government default, as lost revenue following the GOP's $1.5 trillion tax cut last year means federal borrowing must be increased sooner than previously expected.
The deal, however, does not include protections for "Dreamers", those who immigrated here with their parents years ago, who now face the possibility of mass deportation as early as March 5, after Trump reversed the Obama-era DACA program that had previously protected them. Some progressives and self-identified conservatives in the U.S. House oppose the Senate plan, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who took to the House floor today for a record 8-hour marathon speech to highlight the DACA issue and contributions made by hundreds of thousands of "Dreamers" who have lived here most of their lives.
Pelosi says she opposes the Senate bill and called on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to promise a vote on immigration issues, as McConnell has in the Senate. Freedom Caucus Republicans in the House also claim to be upset by the bill, thanks to its additional new government spending. So, it remains to be seen if today's breakthrough package will make it to the President's desk before the midnight Thursday deadline or not. Either way, it doesn't appear that a fix to DACA will be included, assuring more continued uncertainty for some 800,000 previously protected Dreamers who could soon face deportation.
We're joined today by JESSICA HANSON, attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, to discuss how a recent federal court ruling, temporarily blocking some of Trump's attempted DACA reversal, may effect his March 5 deadline for legislation to protect "Dreamers", as well as the rise of white nativism in the GOP, including Trump and his Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Hanson explains the "temporary reprieve" by a federal court ruling in California that has allowed "individuals who have had DACA previously to renew their DACA grant." But, she says, while NILC recommends such renewals, even where some may have already expired, she notes that those who never had DACA protection are still out in the cold, at the moment, as "the government took the unusual step of seeking to skip the 9th Circuit and instead appeal directly to the Supreme Court" in the ruling.
In response to recent remarks from Kelly, alleging that those not covered by DACA were "too lazy to get off their asses" and that he "doubts very much" Trump will extend the program beyond March 5, Hanson charges: "Those remarks reflect an ongoing, deep, white nativist sentiment with this administration that has shown itself over and over again."
We also discuss a number of other related issues, including Trump's lies about our legal immigration policies, such as the Diversity Lottery and Family Reunification programs that he is now trying to restrict and ties to a DACA deal ("The President has been completely misrepresenting these programs," explains Hanson, who describes it as yet another effort "to make America white again"), and concerns about millions of other American immigrants already being terrorized by detention, deportation and separation from their families, business and lives under Trump's radical anti-immigrant policies.
She joins NILC in decrying today's Senate deal, charging that "it is inexcusable that the Senate leadership has agreed to put immigrant issues aside" and explains that "the mainstream media could do a lot more to lift up these stories" about abuses by Trump's immigration enforcement agencies like ICE and CBP, "because a lot of people don't realize it's happening [and] have no idea that this is going on."
Finally, we finish up with a bit more encouraging election news for those still interested in facts and reality and science, as a record number of scientists are now lined up to run for office in 2018, on the state, local and federal level, in response to the Trump Administration and GOP's increasingly anti-science policies and positions...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)