On today's BradCast: Just days away from Donald Trump's artificial deadline to end Obama-era protections from deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought here as children, the attendees at last weekend's CPAC can't even come to terms with documented facts on the benefits of immigration, even when delivered to them by one of their own. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
But, first up today, some quick news headlines of note...
- Another top White House official, Trump's 29-year old Communications Director Hope Hicks (his third since taking office), says she's resigning, and offered a ridiculous reason for it, just one day after admitting to the U.S. House Intelligence Committee that she has been required to lie on behalf of Trump.
- Tuesday was another Special Election day in several states --- including New Hampshire, Connecticut, Kentucky and Arizona --- and we have the reported results after still more state legislative seats in Republican districts were flipped from 'red' to 'blue' by Democrats. (And as Republicans appear to have mostly avoided another huge embarrassment in Arizona.)
- The federal judge who Trump attacked during the campaign for allegedly opposing his border wall, as the court case for Trump's fraudulent 'Trump University' played out, decides in favor of the Administration scheme to waive environmental laws to build that wall with Mexico.
Then, we're joined by immigration policy analyst DAVID BIER of the libertarian Cato Institute, following his recent appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) --- where his presentation of independently verifiable facts and data detailing how immigration is actually good for the country --- was met with derision and heckles from the audience and fellow panelists alike.
Setting our many political differences aside for purposes of this discussion, Bier offers some of that data on today's show, in hopes that we can, at least, agree on facts if we are ever to find a legislative solution to protect "Dreamers" and turn back the new Trump/GOP efforts to restrict even legal immigration to our country. Among those derided and heckled facts Bier presented at CPAC: "I talked about how some conservative outlets really like to focus on immigrant crime. But we know from the U.S. Census bureau that immigrants --- including illegal immigrants --- are about half as likely to be incarcerated in the United States for serious crime than U.S.-born adults. So they're really focusing on the exceptions to the rule. Something else that I cited is the National Academies of Sciences 2016 report on the fiscal costs of immigration, that found that the average recent immigrant will pay at least $92,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits from the government over their lifetime."
He went on to debunk a number of other myths offered by right-wing outlets, such as on English-language comprehension and assimilation of new immigrants and the claim (even made by the host of the panel) that Democrats favor immigration because they want millions of new voters. He also detailed how new immigration is needed to help support Social Security and Medicare for many of the aging baby-boomers who were, no doubt, among the many attendees at CPAC.
Bier told me about the reaction to his remarks at the only immigration-related panel on the weekend's agenda at the annual far-right Republican gathering, how that response may have differed from previous years, and why it is that he believes attendees are so terrified of independently verifiable facts on immigration's many benefits for all Americans --- economically, politically and culturally.
He even managed to offer a fairly impressive response to my skepticism to his claim that "the data is the thing that’s going to win people over." Despite appearances from this President and his administration, he argues, immigration advocates are winning. "You and I and everyone who favors legal immigration and legalizing long-term residents of the United States, we're winning that argument. The public supports our position overwhelmingly. It's never been higher in terms of support for legalization, support for a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, support for not restricting legal immigration. We're winning all of those things."
"It's sort of their last stand before the end," he asserts, by way of explaining the confused and fearful anti-immigrant CPAC attendees. "If Democrats do take over, I fully expect immigration reform will happen. And that will be the moment where they realize they lost the argument."
Finally, as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reopened on Wednesday, two weeks after a 19-year old with a legally purchased semi-automatic rifle killed 17 and injured a dozen others in a matter of minutes, the debate over what to do about it still rages. Today, amid Donald Trump's argument for arming teachers, the "top teacher" of 2012 at a Georgia high school outside of Atlanta fired a pistol in his classroom, sending students into a justifiable panic. And, one of the nation's largest sporting goods outlets announced that it would no longer sell military-style semi-automatic rifles and planned to raise the age requirement for all gun and ammo purchases at their stores to 21...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)