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For undocumented immigrants, the Trump admin makes fires and hurricanes even tougher to deal with

Seven months after Juan and Jonathan Leija were forced to evacuate their flooded homes during Hurricane Harvey, the cousins face challenges that go beyond just recovering their lives. Building back isn’t easy for anybody, but the Leijas are doing it as looming policy decisions threaten to uproot them again.

Juan and Jonathan are Dreamers — young adults who qualified for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era policy that granted clemency to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children. In September, President Donald Trump announced he was canceling the program, leaving it up to Congress to pass legislation on the issue — which it hasn’t been able to agree on.

Undocumented immigrants were hit especially hard by last year’s devastating hurricanes and wildfires. Immigrant populations were already struggling with higher rates of poverty and less access to medical care. Then storms, fires, and mudslides wiped out homes and disrupted industries like agriculture that employ a largely immigrant labor force. Despite the dire need for relief, undocumented immigrants are ineligible for federal disaster aid. Some were afraid to even go to emergency shelters or reach out for help out of fear of exposing their own or a relative’s immigration status. Post-disaster, many immigrants have turned to jobs in construction and face injury and exploitation rebuilding communities that were leveled.

Juan Leija.

“Yesterday was the first time since Harvey that it rained really hard,” Juan told Grist in March. “It definitely brought flashbacks and it triggered a little bit in me. And just to add onto it, tomorrow a year from now my DACA expires.”

While undocumented immigrants like Juan work to pick up the pieces after disaster, the Trump administration is placing targets on their backs. In addition to ending DACA, Trump has revoked Temporary Protected Status for countries at a faster pace than any other president and has intensified immigration raids, even in sanctuary cities, over the past year. For some immigrant Americans, it’s political insult to climate change-induced injury — and suggests that it may be a while before they find a measure of stability in the U.S. again.

When Hurricane Harvey struck the Houston area, it brought with it a year’s worth of rainfall over in less than a week. The storm affected 13 million people across Texas and Louisiana, killing 88. Causing $125 billion in damage, Harvey was the second costliest storm (behind Hurricane Katrina) to hit the U.S. since 1900.

Ten days after Harvey made landfall in Texas, President Trump announced an end date for DACA the following March.

“I was angry. I was confused. I was sad. I was anxious,” Juan Leija recalls. “I thought it was really heartless for him to do that after a national travesty.”

Harvey hit Juan’s family’s home hard. The Houston house they rent flooded up to his thighs. Juan is 6’1’’ and says the water level was probably above his mom’s waist. The family evacuated. They waded through water for two miles before reaching a friend’s home. For the next four months, Juan, his two siblings, his mother, and her boyfriend squeezed into a one-bedroom apartment.

The Leijas joined hundreds of Texas families struggling to rebuild after the storm. While Harvey swamped all of Houston, its impacts were not felt equally.

AFP Contributor / Contributor / Getty Images

“In terms of the extent of hardship or suffering, we definitely found disparities across racial, ethnic lines, and across income lines,” said Shao-Chee Sim, a researcher at the Texas-based advocacy group Episcopal Health Foundation, who helped lead a study of adults living in Harvey-damaged counties.

The survey found that, after Harvey, 64 percent of immigrants suffered unemployment and income losses compared to 39 percent of their U.S.-born neighbors. Immigrants were also more likely to have fallen behind on their rent as a result of the storm and were more than twice as likely to have had to borrow money from a family member or payday lender in order to make ends meet.

When Juan’s cousin Jonathan’s mobile home flooded, it was a huge setback. “Basically, we had to remodel everything,” he said. “That was going to cost money that we didn’t have.”

Undocumented immigrants — including Dreamers — are ineligible for aid provided in the wake of natural disasters by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Families with mixed immigration status, however, do qualify because parents can apply for relief on behalf of their U.S. citizen children. Even so, many eligible families avoided applying due to worries over providing personal information in an aid application. FEMA is, after all, an agency housed within the Department of Homeland Security, which also oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“In an immigrant community there is a huge concern about asking for aid because there is a fear — and a legitimate one — about, ‘will this come back to hurt my chances of gaining status at some point in the future?’” Kate Vickery, executive director of Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative, said. “The answer has always been complicated, but under the Trump administration, it is pretty grim.”

Jonathan Leija’s younger siblings are U.S. citizens, and the family decided to apply for FEMA assistance. The officer who came to inspect their home canceled four separate appointments before finally showing up.

Jonathan, who is studying construction management at Lone Star Community College, north of Houston, missed class twice in order to be home for appointments that never happened. Before Harvey hit, Jonathan had to withdraw from school for a semester to save up money for tuition. Dreamers don’t receive federal financial aid, so he took up jobs roofing and working at a tire shop so that he could get back to class. The storm posed more delays and after all the missed appointments, his family’s FEMA application was denied.

Still, Jonathan counts himself lucky. A nonprofit organization that builds affordable housing and has been working to help Houston homeowners recover, Avenue CDC*, sent contractors to repair the damage. That kind of help can be a godsend for undocumented immigrants who work in industries hit hard by flooding and fires. Immigrant-rights advocates are anticipating that those who lost employment because of last year’s disasters might seek out construction work as part of the rebuilding efforts.

Vickery, with Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative, warns that undocumented immigrants are disproportionately part of what she calls the “second responder wave.” “They are the labor force doing the cleanup,” she explained.

The rebuilding booms that follow disasters come with their own threats. More than a third of day laborers informally employed in construction in the first few weeks after Harvey said they were injured on the job, according to a study conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago. Two-thirds of the respondents said that their workplace was unsafe. Eighty-five percent of day laborers who worked in hurricane-affected areas reported not receiving any training for the worksites they entered, and nearly two-thirds did not even have a hard hat to wear. Aside from all the safety risks, the study also found that more than a quarter of workers had experienced wage theft.

“The vulnerability of being a worker in a disaster recovery area if you don’t have status is a huge issue,” Vickery said.

Advocates in California are also concerned about the risks workers are facing after the state’s massive fires last year.

“A lot of people going into that labor might not have worked in construction. Those people need training,” said Christy Lubin with the Graton Day Labor Center.

Months after the blazes, many immigrants employed in affected industries — including agriculture, hospitality, and domestic work — have lost their homes and their jobs.

“A lot of people see wildfires in the hillsides of California or mudslides in affluent communities like Montecito as largely affecting wealthy homeowners,” said Lucas Zucker with the grassroots organization Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE). “The reality is those wealthy homeowners employ domestic workers who are largely undocumented. They get no attention and really have nowhere to turn.”

The Thomas Fire.Marcus Yam / Contributor / Getty Images

In Santa Paula, an hour and a half northwest of Los Angeles, Marisol, a mother of three, and her family are still recovering from the Thomas Fire, which burned down their home in December. Marisol’s husband had worked on a horse ranch and wasn’t allowed time off to help his family after the wildfire. He lost his job as a result. Fearful of applying for aid that would require them to disclose their undocumented status, Marisol (whose name has been changed to protect her identity) and her husband are trying to get back on their feet with fewer resources available to them — and while U.S. immigration enforcement efforts intensify.

Like the Leija cousins, Marisol came to the U.S. from Mexico as a child — but she didn’t qualify for DACA because she doesn’t have a high school diploma, something she’s still working toward now. Her children, however, were born in the U.S. and are citizens.

“I don’t like to think about the consequences if me and my husband aren’t here,” Marisol told Grist through an interpreter as she fought back tears.

Undocumented folks and immigrant-rights groups have felt overwhelmed by the barrage of executive actions and policies targeting immigrants since Trump came into office. Deportations were already high under the Obama administration, but they jumped in the first year of Trump’s presidency. The number of people living in the United States who were deported rose nearly 25 percent, from roughly 65,000 in 2016 to more than 81,000 people in 2017.

For some migrants who received Temporary Protected Status because of a natural disaster that affected their home country, the experience of disaster and displacement is becoming a cycle — especially as climate change exacerbates extreme weather events. TPS is the only U.S. policy offering sanctuary to people displaced by environmental calamity, and Trump has been chipping away at the program by removing five countries designated for TPS, including Haiti and El Salvador, within the past year. More than 320,000 people could become undocumented as a result.

“We’ve kind of been in perpetual crisis mode for the last year as we’ve dealt with the disaster of the Trump administration on our communities to the literal disaster of wildfires and mudslides,” says CAUSE’s Zucker. “Immigrant families are basically caught in the middle of being under siege by the government and in desperate need of the government basically unwilling to provide that assistance.”

Marisol and her family in California got some much-needed financial help from an “UndocuFund” created by CAUSE and other groups, which provides grants to families affected by the raging wildfires and mudslides in California last year. But needs are still outpacing donations, and there are more than 800 disaster survivors awaiting assistance.

Meanwhile, back in Texas, Juan and Jonathan Leija are determined to keep moving forward. If Jonathan’s DACA status expires before Congress passes measures to replace the program, he’ll likely lose his job at the tire shop where he currently works. That will mean he will have to find another way to pay his way through school.

DACA protest.Mark Wilson / Staff / Getty Images

“Whatever happens, happens,” he said. “I’m still going to find a way to go to school, to finish it.”

Without DACA, Juan may be unable to find lawful employment even after graduating — but he doesn’t hesitate to speak out. Since before DACA was implemented, one of the Dreamers’ rallying calls has been  “Undocumented and Unafraid.” He still wants to replace fear with hope.

“I don’t want Dreamers to feel like they have to get back to the shadows.”

*An earlier version of this story incorrectly named another nonprofit.

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For undocumented immigrants, the Trump admin makes fires and hurricanes even tougher to deal with

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Climate change hits businesses where it hurts: their wallets.

Some of these articles are sensationalized very nearly to the point of inaccuracy. Others are cases of “elaborate misinformation.”

A review from Climate Feedback, a group of scientists who survey climate change news to determine whether it’s scientifically sound, looked at the 25 most-shared stories last year that focused on the science of climate change or global warming.

Of those, only 11 were rated as credible, meaning they contained no major inaccuracies. Five were considered borderline inaccurate. The remaining nine, including New York Magazine’s viral “The Uninhabitable Earth,” were found to have low or very low credibility. However, even the top-rated articles were noted as somewhat misleading. (Read the reviews here.) 

“We see a lot of inaccurate stories,” Emmanuel Vincent, a research scientist at the University of California and the founder of Climate Feedback, told Grist. Each scientist at Climate Feedback holds a Ph.D. and has recently published articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Vincent says that the New York Times and Washington Post are the two main sources that Climate Feedback has found “consistently publish information that is accurate and influential.” (He notes that Grist’s “Ice Apocalypse” by Eric Holthaus also made the credibility cut.)

“You need to find the line between being catchy and interesting without overstepping what the science can support,” he says.


Climate change hits businesses where it hurts: their wallets.

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It’s No Mystery That Donald Trump Isn’t Paying Much Attention to Immigration

Mother Jones

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From the Washington Post:

Lawmakers baffled that immigration getting short shrift in Washington

Meh. Trump never cared much about immigration. It was just a campaign tool, and he practically admitted as much at one point. That’s not to say he won’t try to get something done about it, but it’s never likely to be a huge issue for him. And without him putting a lot of energy behind it, it won’t go anywhere. There are too many Republican members of Congress who are opposed to highly punitive immigration rules.

Eventually the immigration hawks will learn the same thing as everyone else: it’s all just one long con. Trump doesn’t care about policy. Not immigration, not taxes, not abortion, not health care, not ISIS. He has vague inclinations on all these things, but that’s all. He’s mainly driven by whatever can keep him in the spotlight for the next week or two.

That’s probably the real reason he pulled out of the Paris climate accord. If he stays in, he gets nothing. If he pulls out, he gets a week or two of attention. It was an easy choice.

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It’s No Mystery That Donald Trump Isn’t Paying Much Attention to Immigration

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A Federal Judge Slams Trump: “Even the ‘Good Hombres’ Are Not Safe”

Mother Jones

Today, a federal appeals court judge in California rebuked the Trump administration for its zealous deportation policy and for “ripping apart a family.” Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that he had no power to stop the removal of Andres Magana Ortiz, but nevertheless took the time to write a short opinion blasting his deportation as “inhumane.”

“We are unable to prevent Magana Ortiz’s removal, yet it is contrary to the values of this nation and its legal system,” Reinhardt wrote in a six-page concurring opinion. “Indeed, the government’s decision to remove Magana Ortiz diminishes not only our country but our courts, which are supposedly dedicated to the pursuit of justice…I concur as a judge, but as a citizen I do not.”

As Reinhardt detailed in his opinion, Magana Ortiz came to the United States from Mexico 28 years ago, built a family and a career, and paid his taxes. His wife and three children are American citizens. His only legal transgressions were two DUIs, the last one 14 years ago. “Even the government conceded during the immigration proceedings that there was no question as to Magana Ortiz’s good moral character,” Reinhardt noted. Nonetheless, in March the government decided to deny Magana Ortiz’s application for a stay of removal while he applied for legal residency status, a process that is still underway, and moved to deport him to Mexico.

Reinhardt took particular aim at the fact, demonstrated repeatedly in the first months of Donald Trump’s presidency, that the administration’s immigration crackdown is not only targeting violent criminals. “President Trump has claimed that his immigration policies would target the ‘bad hombres,'” he wrote. “The government’s decision to remove Magana Ortiz shows that even the ‘good hombres’ are not safe. Magana Ortiz is by all accounts a pillar of his community and a devoted father and husband. It is difficult to see how the government’s decision to expel him is consistent with the President’s promise of an immigration system with ‘a lot of heart.’ I find no such compassion in the government’s choice to deport Magana Ortiz.”

Read the full opinion below.

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A Federal Judge Slams Trump: “Even the ‘Good Hombres’ Are Not Safe”

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Women Are Now Living With the Fear of Deportation If They Report Domestic Violence

Mother Jones

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President Donald Trump’s January executive orders on immigration worried advocates working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, who argued that their clients and other victims of crime would no longer be willing to seek help or cooperate with law enforcement. Their concerns were further justified when police departments in Los Angeles and Houston announced that Latinos in those cities were reporting sexual assaults at lower rates in the wake of hostile rhetoric and enforcement activity targeting undocumented immigrants. Now, a new survey provides the data that demonstrates a noticeable shift in immigrant survivors’ contacts with victim services providers in recent months.

“The results of this survey are troubling,” Cecilia Friedman Levin, senior policy counsel for ASISTA Immigration Assistance, said in a recent press call discussing the survey results. “It represents that there is uncertainty and distrust around the institutions that are supposed to provide survivors with protection and safety.”

The “2017 Advocate and Legal Service Survey Regarding Immigrant Survivors” was conducted last month by a coalition of national organizations focused on domestic violence and sexual assault. The sponsors included the Tahirih Justice Center, ASISTA, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, and the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. The groups collected responses from roughly 700 advocates and attorneys from 46 states and Washington, DC, asking them about the issues confronting immigrant survivors seeking services and information about specific incidents. They found that a majority of respondents are seeing an increase in fear among their immigrant clients, some of whom are fearful of even calling 911 or seeking medical assistance. Here are some of the highlights:

62% of respondents—a group that includes both social and legal services providers—said they have seen an increase in immigration-related questions from survivors;
78% of respondents said that survivors had expressed concerns about contacting police due to fears that it would open them up to deportation;
75% said that survivors had expressed concerns about going to court for a matter related to their abuser, a concern that was likely exacerbated by the highly reported courthouse arrest of a domestic violence victim seeking a protective order against her abuser earlier this year;
43% of respondents also said that the survivors they have worked with have dropped criminal or civil cases related to their abuse because they were fearful of potentially opening themselves up to enforcement.

Anecdotes from respondents also shed light on the increased level of fear among immigrant survivors. “Survivors have a lot of questions about how they can safety plan under the new administration,” the report says, adding that some victims now question if they should submit petitions for relief to the federal government. In another response, the survey report notes that a 16-year old survivor attempted suicide because she feared that her offender would report her family to federal enforcement officials.

In the months since the immigration executive orders were announced, there has been confusion about what protections were still in place for the vulnerable subset of survivors of domestic abuse. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has maintained that agency protections covering immigrant survivors and other victims of crime are still in place. But, in practice, the picture is quite different. The administration has largely overlooked these crime victims both in its statements on immigration and in the resources it has provided. Last month, the Department of Homeland Security launched a new office focused on crimes committed by immigrants and the president’s proposed 2018 budget promises to dedicate significant resources to immigration enforcement and crack down on sanctuary jurisdictions that refuse to participate in aggressive targeting of undocumented immigrants. The shift in tone has already had an effect: Earlier this week, a Baltimore defense attorney was arrested after allegedly offering an immigrant rape victim $3,000 to not testify against her alleged assailant, telling the woman that she risked deportation should she appear in court.

Immigrant survivors can still qualify for protections under the Violence Against Women Act, a 1994 law protecting victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. But the administration’s activity could further exacerbate survivors’ reluctance to seek assistance. “We’ve seen a lot of people reach out and ask specifically for what people can do outside of the legal system because they’re afraid of deportation, or they’re afraid of law enforcement and they’ve been hearing a lot about raids,” Qudsia Raja, policy director at the National Domestic Violence Hotline, told reporters. “We’re having to work with advocates on safety planning outside of legal recourse.”

Advocates are also concerned that legislation working its way through Congress would negatively impact survivors’ willingness to report. Of particular concern is the Davis-Oliver Act, a bill that would give state and local law enforcement the power to enforce federal immigration laws, impose harsher penalties on undocumented immigrants, and punish sanctuary cities. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) has argued that the bill is necessary to ensure public safety.

Those who actually work with immigrants disagree. They say public safety will suffer if harsh immigration policies are allowed to push immigrant survivors into the shadows. “The fear among immigrant survivors is still rampant,” Archi Pyati, chief of policy and programs at the Tahirih Justice Center, a group working with women and girls fleeing gender-based violence, told Mother Jones. “So long as the federal government continues down this road there are going to be immigrant women who are going to be hurt.”


Women Are Now Living With the Fear of Deportation If They Report Domestic Violence

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Trump Administration Leaves 50,000 Haitians in Legal Limbo

Mother Jones

About 50,000 Haitians living in the United States will remain in limbo for another six months. The Trump administration has reportedly granted a temporary extension of these Haitians’ legal status, leaving them at risk of being forced to leave the country—or remain illegally—at the start of next year.

Multiple reports on Monday indicate that the Department of Homeland Security will extend Temporary Protected Status for Haitian nationals for six months. Haitians were granted the special status in 2010, after an earthquake leveled buildings, displaced millions, and killed an estimated 300,000 people. As Mother Jones previously reported, TPS is granted to people from countries experiencing humanitarian crises:

First introduced in 1990, the TPS program provides humanitarian relief to nationals of countries coping with a severe conflict or natural disaster. By providing recipients with legal status and work authorization, TPS designations—typically granted in six- to 18-month cycles that can be renewed indefinitely—have become a crucial means of aiding people who face unsafe conditions should they be sent back to their home country.

The extension was first reported on Monday by the Washington Post and confirmed by the Miami Herald, which wrote that Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) received a call from DHS with news of the decision. DHS not not respond to Mother Jones‘ request for comment.

With the extension, Haiti’s TPS designation will continue past its current July expiration date, to January 22, 2018. The six-month extension aligns with the recommendation of James McCament, acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, who wrote a memo to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly in April suggesting that Haiti’s TPS designation be extended to the beginning of 2018 and then allowed to expire. Immigration advocates had strongly encouraged DHS to extend the designation for a full 18 months, arguing that Haiti needed more time to recover before thousands of people could return to the country safely.

Prior to the decision, some 50,000 Haitians living and working in the United States were at risk of being deported back to Haiti, which is dealing with a multitude of conflicts—or staying in the United States and becoming undocumented. The latest extension means that Haitians with TPS can breathe for now but will face the same suspense in November, when DHS must again decide whether to extend their TPS or allow it to expire.

Immigration advocates had mixed reactions to the news. “The fear was that we may not even get six months,” says Nana Brantuo, policy manager for the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, one of the groups that has called for an extension of Haiti’s TPS designation. But she adds, “The 18-month extension is what we need. Otherwise we’re going to have thousands of people who are unauthorized in fear of being deported.”


Trump Administration Leaves 50,000 Haitians in Legal Limbo

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Trump’s Lawyers Want the Courts to Ignore His Muslim Ban Comments

Mother Jones

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Donald Trump’s statements about banning Muslims during the presidential campaign are now at the heart of the court battle over his travel ban.

On Monday, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held oral arguments on the president’s executive order banning people from six Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States for 90 days. In reviewing the decision of a federal district judge in Maryland, who blocked the ban from going into effect, the judges of the 4th Circuit focused almost exclusively on the question of whether Trump’s campaign pledge to ban Muslims should be taken into consideration when weighing the constitutionality of the travel ban.

In December 2015, then-candidate Trump called for “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” Trump repeated and stuck by his policy throughout the campaign. His original statement remained on his campaign’s website until sometime Monday, when it disappeared around the time a reporter asked about its continued presence online during the daily White House press briefing.

After his election, Trump swiftly signed an executive order banning individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries entering the country for 90 days. Federal courts blocked the order, and the administration withdrew it and released a second, modified travel ban. This second order applied to six countries—Iraq was taken off the list—and included exceptions for permanent legal residents and current visa-holders. Still, a federal judge in Maryland blocked part of it and another federal judge in Hawaii placed a nationwide injunction on the whole order.

In considering the Maryland judge’s decision, the 4th Circuit zeroed in on the issue of Trump’s statements about banning Muslims. During the first hour of the hearing, Trump’s acting solicitor general, Jeffrey Wall, repeatedly argued that the Maryland judge had relied too heavily on Trump’s campaign statements. He described the ban as merely a handful of statements by the candidate, rather than a central piece of Trump’s campaign, and said the Maryland judge had mistakenly conducted a “psychoanalysis” of the president based on these campaign comments.

Opponents of the ban argue that Trump’s campaign statements are key to understanding the true purpose of the order. Arguing against the travel ban, American Civil Liberties Union attorney Omar Jadwat struggled when the judges pressed him to explain his opposition to the travel ban based just on the text—without taking Trump’s campaign statements into consideration. Some of the judges repeatedly queried Jadwat on whether the ban would still be constitutional if Trump’s comments were not part of the calculation. Jadwat said it would be because it violates the First Amendment by targeting people of a specific religion. In order to fulfill its stated purpose on national security, he argued, it would have applied to a different set of countries than those targeted by the order. “If this order were legitimate and actually doing what it said it was doing, it would do something different,” he said.

But without Trump’s campaign statements targeting Muslims, at least some of the judges did not appear to buy his argument. That’s why he continued to emphasize the thinking behind the travel ban. “The question is, what is the purpose of this policy?” Jadwat asked. He noted that when Trump signed the order, he read aloud its title referring to “foreign terrorist entry” and then added, “We all know what that means.” Jadwat further pointed to the fact that 2015 press release still on Trump’s campaign website—not realizing it had been taken down just hours earlier.

Perhaps the most compelling argument against the ban on Monday came not from the ACLU’s lawyer but from Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general whom Trump fired in January when she refused to have Justice Department lawyers defend the first travel ban in court. Questioned about that decision during a hearing on Capitol Hill on Monday, Yates explained why she believed the ban was unconstitutional—and why the president’s campaign remarks were a key ingredient in that calculation.

“I believed that any argument that we would have to make in its defense would not be grounded in the truth,” she explained, “because to make an argument in its defense we would have to argue that the executive order had nothing to do with religion, that it was not done with an intent to discriminate against Muslims.” But Yates could not ignore the role of religion, she explained, because of what Trump had said about Muslims. “Particularly where we were talking about a fundamental issue of religious freedom—not the interpretation of some arcane statute, but religious freedom—it was appropriate for us to look at the intent behind the president’s actions,” she said. “And the intent is laid out in his statements.”

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Trump’s Lawyers Want the Courts to Ignore His Muslim Ban Comments

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Texas’ Governor Just Signed the Most Anti-Immigrant Bill in Years

Mother Jones

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During an unannounced, five-minute livestream on Facebook Sunday night, Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation outlawing sanctuary cities and granting law enforcement unprecedented powers in tracking down undocumented immigrants.

“Texans expect us to keep them safe—and that’s exactly what we’re going to do by me signing the law,” Abbott told the camera, punctuating his remarks by tapping the bill before signing it. “Texas has now banned sanctuary cities in the Lone Star State.”

“It won’t be tolerated in Texas,” Abbot continued. “Elected officials and law enforcement agencies, they don’t get to pick and choose what laws they will obey.”

Immigration advocates are describing it as the most hostile state law to undocumented immigrants in the country and point out that sanctuary cities are actually safer than other cities, according to FBI crime data. The Facebook Live event allowed the governor to avoid protests a typical signing would have likely drawn, the Texas Tribune noted. A spokesperson for the governor claimed the move was an effort to reach people directly where they’re consuming news.

Abbott declared banning sanctuary cities, jurisdictions that refuse to fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities, a legislative priority this year, and Texas has quickly become one of the battlegrounds in the national debate over them. When Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez announced her department would no longer comply with immigration authorities after taking office earlier this year, the governor cut off funding in retaliation and even threatened to oust her. Meanwhile lawmakers in the statehouse have been debating how wide-reaching the ban on sanctuary cities should be, settling on legislation late last month after a 16-hour marathon hearing. Horrified by the outcome, immigration advocates have pushed back, protesting at the state capitol during the lengthy hearing on the bill last month and gathering outside the governor’s mansion last night.

SB 4 does far more than simply outlaw sanctuary cities. When the new rules go into effect, law enforcement officials and other local leaders who refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities could face to up to a year of jail time and be personally fined up to $4,000. Additionally, any local government violating the law will also be subject to fines—$1,000 at first with each single subsequent infraction adding penalties that can potentially reach $25,500.

The law also grants law enforcement throughout the state sweeping new powers that many immigration advocates consider a form of profiling. One of the most controversial provisions of the new law allows police officers to question someone’s immigration status during encounters such as a routine traffic stop as opposed to during a lawful arrest.

David Leopold, an immigration lawyer and the former head of the American Immigration Lawyers Associates, says it’s the most hostile state law to undocumented immigrants in the country. “It’s like SB1070, the Arizona ‘show me your papers’ law, on steroids,” Leopold says, referring to the controversial legislation that required police to check the immigration status of anyone they detain if they believe that person might be in the country illegally.

“This is a license to racially profile,” Leopold says. “What Texas has done here is told the police…if a person has an accent, is brown, you should probably start asking questions about their immigration status.”

While much of the Arizona law was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2012, the “show me your papers” portion was not struck down—though the justices left open the possibility that such laws could be ruled as being unconstitutional at a later time.

When SB 1070 passed, it sparked outrage across the country and businesses as well as other state governments boycotted Arizona. Immigration activists are strenuously protesting the Texas measure, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund is planning to sue before it takes effect in September. But so far, the new law isn’t attracting nearly the kind of national attention that Arizona’s law once did.

Leopold points out that this law “came up quietly.” In the seven years since SB1070 was debated, he says, the capacity for outrage about these measures has waned because “we’ve had so much outrageous news about immigration, so many outrageous things and shocking things have happened since Donald Trump took office.”

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Texas’ Governor Just Signed the Most Anti-Immigrant Bill in Years

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Ayelet Waldman’s Resistance Reading

Mother Jones

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Claire Lewis

We asked a range of authors, artists, and poets to name books that bring solace or understanding in this age of rancor. Two dozen or so responded. Here are picks from the witty and thoughtful Ayelet Waldman, whose recent book about microdosing with LSD caused a bit of a stir in the straight world.

Latest book: A Really Good Day
Also known for: Bad Mother
Reading recommendations: It was as if Mohsin Hamid knew exactly what would convulse the world when he wrote Exit West. It’s a novel about refugees, about cruelty and empathy and compassion, and in the end—oddly—about the possibility of an odd kind of redemption. I am surely not going to be the only one who recommends George Saunders Lincoln in the Bardo, but listening to the audiobook (something I don’t normally do) was one of the most transporting literary experiences of my life. It was both a refuge (I’d put in my earbuds and hide from the horrors of the news) and an inspiration. Led by a brave, brilliant, and indeed tormented man, this nation rejected slavery. It is at least possible that we will one day reject racism, xenophobia, misogyny and all the various tyrannies of this foul administration and the vicious moron who leads it.

So far in this series: Kwame Alexander, Margaret Atwood, W. Kamau Bell, Jeff Chang, T Cooper, Dave Eggers, Reza Farazmand, Piper Kerman, Phil Klay, Alex Kotlowitz, Bill McKibben, Rabbi Jack Moline, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Peggy Orenstein, Wendy C. Ortiz, Karen Russell, Tracy K. Smith, Ayelet Waldman, Gene Luen Yang. (New posts daily.)

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Ayelet Waldman’s Resistance Reading

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It Shouldn’t Be a Big Deal When the President Gives a Holocaust Memorial Speech

Mother Jones

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Since 1982, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC has organized an annual remembrance ceremony in which Holocaust survivors, members of Congress, and community leaders gather to memorialize the millions of people murdered and persecuted during the Holocaust. For the last 24 years, the president has delivered the keynote address without controversy. But this year was different.

Before Trump took office, his campaign came under fire for overt and coded anti-Semitism and since becoming commander in chief, his administration has continued to face criticism for failing to mention Jews or anti-Semitism in its statement on International Holocaust Day and for not doing enough in response to anti-Semitic acts. There were calls to rescind Trump’s invitation and some on the museum’s board of trustees felt conflicted about whether to even attend.

“I’ve struggled with whether or not I should even go, or to stay away in protest,” board member Andrew J. Weinstein told the New York Times. He said he ultimately would attend despite his “deep concerns about the president and the people he’s surrounded himself with.”

But during the remembrance ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda, Trump called Holocaust deniers accomplices to the “horrible evil” and vowed to “confront anti-Semitism.” He then personally addressed the Holocaust survivors in attendance and explained its trauma to them at length.

“You witnessed evil, and what you saw is beyond description, beyond any description,” he said. “Many of you lost your entire family—everything and everyone you love, gone. You saw mothers and children led to mass slaughter.” Here’s the video of his remarks:

“You saw the starvation and the torture,” he went on. “You saw the organized attempt at the extermination of an entire people—and great people I must add. You survived the ghettos, the concentration camps and the death camps.”

Some Holocaust survivors have spoken out forcefully against Trump’s ban on immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, noting that the United States turned away Jews seeking refuge during the Holocaust. Others have noted similarities between Trump’s and Adolf Hitler’s nationalistic and xenophobic rhetoric as they rose to power. Some victims of the Japanese internment camps in the US have also issued similar warnings, saying Trump’s campaign promises and fear mongering about immigrants and Muslims echo sentiments that led to their imprisonment.

In closing, Trump told those gathered in the Capitol, “Your stories remind us that we must never ever shrink away from telling the truth about evil in our time…Each survivor here is a beacon of light, and it only takes one light to illuminate even the darkest space, just like it takes only one truth to crush 1,000 lies.”

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It Shouldn’t Be a Big Deal When the President Gives a Holocaust Memorial Speech

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