San Diego Union Tribune says, “worst thing he’s ever said as a politician”

San Diego Union Tribune says, “worst thing he’s ever said as a politician”

Duncan Hunter made news this week for stating that it would be a good idea to use preemptive military action with North Korea. Now it would be forgivable to roll one’s eyes, groan, mutter sarcastic words about the wisdom of our Representative and move on to the next issue; however, Rep. Hunter sits on the House Armed Services Committee and the Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee; meaning his opinions about war and peace, actually do impact our nation’s military decisions.

The House Armed Services Committee, “retains exclusive jurisdiction for: defense policy generally, ongoing military operations, the organization and reform of the Department of Defense and Department of Energy, counter-drug programs, acquisition and industrial base policy, technology transfer and export controls, joint interoperability, the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, Department of Energy nonproliferation programs, and detainee affairs and policy” (https://armedservices.house.gov/about/jurisdiction-and-rules). While “The Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee is responsible for overseeing counter-terrorism programs and initiatives and counter proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Additionally, this subcommittee oversees U.S. Special Operations Forces, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) [DARPA’s mission is: “to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security” – think precision weapons, stealth technology, GPS and the internet (https://www.darpa.mil/about-us/about-darpa)], information technology and programs, force protection policy and oversight, and related intelligence support. It makes sure that our nation is protected against terrorist attacks and unconventional threats” (https://armedservices.house.gov/subcommittees/emerging-threats-capabilities). To put it more succinctly, Rep. Hunter sits on the Committee and Subcommittee that are in charge of the House’s input into our nation’s military decisions, such as war.

So now that the seriousness of Rep. Hunter’s musings on this matter has been underscored, let us return to what exactly his comments were. In an interview (on 9/21/17) with KUSI-TV’s, Good Morning San Diego, Hunter stated that: “You could assume, right now, that we have a nuclear missile aimed at the United States, and here in San Diego. Why would they not aim here, at Hawaii, Guam, our major naval bases?”; “The question is, do you wait for one of those? Or, two? Do you preemptively strike them? And that’s what the president has to wrestle with. I would preemptively strike them. You could call it declaring war, call it whatever you want,”; “They can reach the US mainland. They might [not] be able to hit it within a block radius. They may be aiming for Coronado but hit El Cajon,”; “I don’t know how much more reckless (North Korean leader Kim Jong Un) needs to be and what the United States needs to see, This is a clear and present danger,” ((http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/sd-me-hunter-attack-20170921-story.html). Rep. Hunter has also been cited as saying, “From my perspective, why would I not hit you first? Why not do a preemptive strike when you have ICMBs leveled at the U.S. and you’re not a logical player in the world scene,” “… preemptively striking them and taking them out, I personally think that’s the only thing to get them not to have nuclear missiles at the United States,” (http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Rep-Hunter-Demands-Preemptive-Strike-on-North-Korea-Sparking-Controversy-446947653.html). Despite the logical incompatibilities with the previous statements, Rep. Hunter also stated that, “the United States and the world wants North Korea to be a “stable, friendly country that’s not shooting nukes at people” (https://timesofsandiego.com/politics/2017/09/21/rep-hunter-hit-north-korea-now-because-its-likely-aiming-at-san-diego/).

The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board put out an opinion piece titled, “Rep. Hunter call for ‘pre-emptive strike’ worst thing he’s ever said as a politician”, the closing line of which states, “Hunter, who should have more savvy, instead said this, “I would pre-emptively strike them. You could call it declaring war, call it whatever you want.” How about calling it absolutely crazy?” (http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/editorials/sd-north-korea-duncan-hunter-preemptive-attack-20170922-story.html?utm_campaign=trueAnthem:+Trending+Contentutm_content=59c637b004d30133bc95502dutm_medium=trueAnthemutm_source=twitter). In addition to the fantastic headline and closing line, the op-ed eloquently states exactly why Rep. Hunter’s idea is not just terrible one but an utterly dangerous one too: “Just across the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea, Pyongyang has assembled some 8,000 artillery cannons and rocket launchers that can quickly drop destruction on the 25 million South Koreans who live within 70 miles of the border in Seoul and its sprawling suburbs. This is not the nuclear arsenal being assembled by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, which may be vulnerable to a sophisticated cyberattack. This is low-tech weaponry capable of raining 300,000 rounds in an hour if Pyongyang realized U.S. missiles were en route.

The death toll could easily reach the millions.

The prospect of such vast carnage is why the Pentagon dropped its threats of unilateral action against Pyongyang in 1994 during a previous tense chapter. It’s why then-senior White House official Steve Bannon declared last month that “there’s no military solution” to North Korea’s saber-rattling. It’s why containment of Kim, not confrontation, is the smartest, least risky approach,” (Source: see above).

With regards to Steve Bannon, while adviser in the White House, he stated, “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us,” (http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/sd-me-hunter-attack-20170921-story.html).

Additional criticism came from Shawn Vandiver, the San Diego director of the Truman National Security project. “The fact is, a preemptive strike from us results in tens of thousands of deaths, many of whom may be Duncan Hunter’s constituents, all of whom are American citizens or wearing our uniforms and that is absolutely unacceptable,”(http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Rep-Hunter-Demands-Preemptive-Strike-on-North-Korea-Sparking-Controversy-446947653.html).

And now it is time for us, Hunter’s constituents to voice our criticism ….

Advertisements
The Graham-Cassidy Bill, Another Attempt to End Obamacare

The Graham-Cassidy Bill, Another Attempt to End Obamacare

The Graham-Cassidy bill is the latest and last ditch effort to do away with Obamacare. Due to the Senate’s budget reconciliation rules by which this bill is being introduced, it can be passed by a simple majority vote but needs to be voted on by September 30th. In an effort to meet this tight deadline the Graham-Cassidy bill is not having the customary and arguably necessary hearings, expert advice, constituent input and amendment processes (https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/15/senator-says-his-obamacare-repeal-bill-has-almost-enough-votes-to-pass.html). The authors of this bill are also positing this bill as the only and final chance to do away with Obamacare, attempting to force their fellow Republicans to ignore bonafide problems with the bill in order to achieve their holy grail of eradicating the Affordable Healthcare Act (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/09/republican-senators-plead-for-one-last-chance-to-repeal-obamacare/539721/). As of September 15th, the Graham-Cassidy bill was reported as having 48 or 49 Senate Republicans in support of it (http://www.businessinsider.com/obamacare-repeal-graham-cassidy-bill-gaining-steam-2017-9).

This bill would turn healthcare over to the states via block grants, meaning the federal government would provide a set amount of monies to states and the states would be allowed to use those monies, towards health care, however the state desired. States would also have to match a portion (5%) of the monies they receive from the federal government’s block grant expenditure. Under the Graham-Cassidy bill the block grants would expire in 2027, forcing that future Congress to take up the issue of healthcare anew. In addition to giving full control to the states, this bill repeals both the individual and employer mandates for health insurance as well as defunding Planned Parenthood. Sources: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/01/obamacare-republicans-senate-repeal-241189; https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/15/senator-says-his-obamacare-repeal-bill-has-almost-enough-votes-to-pass.html; http://www.shreveporttimes.com/story/news/local/louisiana/2017/09/15/republicans-pinning-obamacare-repeal-hopes-one-more-health-care-bill/670862001/; https://www.cbpp.org/research/health/like-other-aca-repeal-bills-cassidy-graham-plan-would-add-millions-to-uninsured.

Since state’s would have full control over healthcare, some states would most likely keep Obamacare as is – it is predicated our home state (CA) would do this – while other states would abolish Obamacare; setting up a disjointed patchwork of healthcare insurance and possibly creating a race to the bottom. For example, states could/would take away protections for pre-existing conditions thus dooming people with such conditions to exceedingly expensive plans, could/would take away the coverage of birth control, could/would be able to re-define what counts as basic, essential and thus covered healthcare, could/would allow disaster style plans, etc, etc, etc…. Speaking of CA, we would be one of the losers under the new system as this bill would redirect monies away from states like ours that expanded Meidcaid to states that did not. Sources: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/01/obamacare-republicans-senate-repeal-241189; https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/15/senator-says-his-obamacare-repeal-bill-has-almost-enough-votes-to-pass.html; http://www.businessinsider.com/graham-cassidy-health-care-bill-whats-in-it-details-2017-9; https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/09/republican-senators-plead-for-one-last-chance-to-repeal-obamacare/539721/.

While a Congressional Budget Office score has not yet come out for this bill, it is estimated that there would be millions more uninsured; this is in part because there would be $80 million less dollars in federal support than there currently is under Obamacare. These ‘savings’ come from cutting Medicaid’s “open-ended entitlement status” and reducing if not taking away the government subsidies that help people with lower incomes afford insurance premiums (https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/15/senator-says-his-obamacare-repeal-bill-has-almost-enough-votes-to-pass.html; http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/01/obamacare-republicans-senate-repeal-241189; https://www.cbpp.org/research/health/like-other-aca-repeal-bills-cassidy-graham-plan-would-add-millions-to-uninsured).

Thus it is incumbent upon all of us to speak up against this bill and do our parts in ensuring it does not become law.

The DREAM Act

The DREAM Act

With DACA slated to end in six months, it is incumbent on Congress to pass an immigration bill that would protect the individuals who would be deported without the protection of DACA. The DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act of 2017, S.1615, would do just that and more. Thankfully both of our Senators are co-sponsors of this bill and it currently has bipartisan support in the Senate, where this bill will need to fight for its survival is in the House.

The DREAM Act is a long one, so this post will focus on a summary of the key points of this bill. If you would like to read the text of the bill, this link will take you there: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1615/text.

As you may know, there have been multiple versions since 2001 of the DREAM Act, with the 2010 version coming closest to passing. This current version of the DREAM Act is considered stronger than many of these past bills and provides individuals three paths towards U.S. citizenship: “college, work, or the armed services” (https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/dream-act). There also are different statuses of residency that an individual would go through: conditional permanent residence, lawful permanent residence and then naturalization – the process by which someone who is not born into U.S. citizenship becomes a U.S. citizen.

The American Immigration Council explains these different phases of residency as follows, “

STEP 1: CONDITIONAL PERMANENT RESIDENCE

An individual is eligible to obtain conditional permanent resident (CPR) status for up to eight years, which includes work authorization, if the person: entered the United States under the age of 18; entered four years prior to enactment and has since been continuously present; has not been convicted of a crime where the term of imprisonment was more than a year, or convicted of three or more offenses for which the aggregate sentence was 90 days or more (with an exception for offenses which are essential to a person’s immigration status); and has been admitted to an institution of higher education, has graduated high school or obtained a GED, or is currently enrolled in secondary school or a program assisting students to obtain a diploma or GED. In addition, anyone who has DACA would be immediately granted CPR status.

STEP 2: LAWFUL PERMANENT RESIDENCE

Anyone who maintains CPR status can obtain lawful permanent residence (LPR status or a “green card”) by satisfying one of the following requirements: Higher education: Complete at least two years of higher education; Military service: Complete at least two years of military service with an honorable discharge; or Work: Demonstrate employment over a total period of three years. Individuals who cannot meet one of these requirements can apply for a “hardship waiver” if the applicant is a person with disabilities, a full-time caregiver of a minor child, or for whom removal would cause extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen spouse, parent, or child.

 

 

STEP 3: NATURALIZATION

After maintaining LPR status for five years, an individual can apply to become a U.S. citizen. According to the Migration Policy Institute, as many as 3.4 million individuals would qualify under the 2017 version of the Dream Act, and over 1.5 million would eventually obtain a green card (https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/dream-act).”

This current DREAM Act would also, “Improve college affordability for undocumented youth and other immigrants by changing rules that limit their access to in-state tuition and college loans.… [In addition], There is also a hardship exception for people who cannot meet the education, military, or employment requirement. These are important factors which recognize that not everyone is on a college track and that people may have unique circumstances, such as being the caregiver of a minor child…. Another way in which this bill is stronger than prior versions is the more generous age requirement. People who entered the U.S. before their eighteenth birthday can qualify, and there is no upper age limit. Previous versions limited the act’s benefits to people who entered before their sixteenth birthday and were under age 30…. [Another key aspect of the bill is that it] does not currently contain provisions that expand border militarization, detentions, or deportations,” (https://www.nilc.org/issues/immigration-reform-and-executive-actions/dreamact/dream-act-2017-summary-and-faq/).

As noted, there is going to be a fight over this bill in the House and House Democrats are pledging to make it an epic one. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), “threatened… to back a government shutdown if the House failed to pass the Dream Act… Gutierrez is hoping to pass an immigration bill by December, [stating], The coming Christmas has to be a Christmas of joy for all of us or none of us,” (http://thehill.com/homenews/house/349940-house-dem-well-shut-down-the-government-if-house-doesnt-pass-dream-act). The Huffington Post reports that the House will allow any Congress member who wants to be a co-sponsor on the bill to become one, previously people had to sign up in pairs, one Democrat and one Republican so that the bill would always have equal support and have a low number of co-sponsors since Democratic sponsors exceed Republican sponsors. Following this change, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stated that the House Democratic leadership would be going for 100% support from Democrats, all 246 – that is a whole lot of co-sponsors (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dream-act-house-sponsors_us_59b07519e4b0b5e531037e8c; https://www.congress.gov/members?q={%22congress%22:%22115%22}). And to ensure that there will be a fight, House Speaker Ryan has stated that the DREAM Act will not pass the House without new immigration enforcement being added to the bill, “Look, here’s the point I keep making on this, is this DACA dilemma that we are experiencing here, why do we have it? It is a symptom of a bigger problem. And the bigger problem is we do not have control of our borders. And because we do not have control of our borders, we have this problem. So it’s just reasonable and natural that we should address the root cause of this problem, lack of control of our borders, and get border security, interior enforcement, the things that you need to do to secure your borders so that you don’t have a DACA problem 10 years from now. So we want to address the cause and the effect, the symptom and the root cause of the problem. And that is only reasonable. And that is what our point is. And so there is a compromise to be had here, and that’s what this compromise looks like, in my mind…. If we just rubber-stamp a standalone [sic] Dream Act, then we’re going to have another Dream Act that we’re going to need in 10 years from now,” (https://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2017/09/08/ryan-the-house-will-not-pass-the-dream-act-without-new-immigration-enforcement-measures-n2378928).

Thus it is incumbent upon us to reach out to Duncan Hunter and let him know that we want him to become a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act and support a “clean” bill i.e. no amendments adding immigration enforcement.

Additional information on this bill can be found at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/05/us/politics/dream-act-daca-trump-congress-dreamers.html

http://www.npr.org/2017/09/08/549549872/after-reaching-budget-deal-democrats-look-to-trump-on-dream-act

A Few Facts on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program

A Few Facts on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program

With Congress back in session it is time to resume our emails, phone calls and efforts at having our voices heard. With Mr. Trump signaling that he will repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the onus for protecting these Americans shifts to Congress and thus let us contact Mr. Hunter and express our support for DACA recipients.

Since facts do matter, here are some basic facts on DACA….

According to U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services,

“You may request DACA if you:

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety”. (Source:https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca#guidelines).

The fee for applying is $495 and biometric data (for example, fingerprints) are gathered as well as recorded as part of the application process. Once an individual receives approval under the DACA program, that person cannot be deported for the next two years – an individual needs to reapply for DACA status every two years – and receives a work permit as well as driver’s license (depending on their state). Someone who has received DACA status cannot vote or receive any federal entitlement programs such as food stamps, Social Security or federal financial aid. In addition while under DACA status an individual cannot become a U.S. citizen and/or receive amnesty. Thus it is important to keep in mind that DACA simply defers potential deportation and allows the individual to go to school and/or work while their potential deportation is put on hold. Source: https://s3.amazonaws.com/i-src.defineamerican.com/2017/08/170825-DACA-Facts.pdf

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found the following positive impacts from DACA [note, format has been changed and references to footnotes have been removed]:

“1. The 1.3 million young undocumented immigrants enrolled or immediately eligible for DACA contribute an estimated $2 billion a year in state and local taxes. This includes personal income, property, and sales and excise taxes.

 

  1. DACA-eligible individuals pay on average 8.9 percent of their income in state and local taxes. Their effective tax rate is higher than the average rate paid by the top 1% of taxpayers in state and local taxes of just 5.4 percent and is on par with the average rate paid of 9.4 percent paid by the middle 20 percent of taxpayers.

 

  1. Continuing DACA and ensuring all who are eligible for the program are enrolled would increase estimated state and local revenue by $425 million, bringing the total contribution to $2.45 billion, and increasing the effective tax rate for those enrolled to 9 percent.

 

  1. Replacing DACA with a path to citizenship could provide nearly $505 million in additional state and local taxes, increasing total contributions to at least $2.53 billion a year.

 

  1. Repealing the temporary legal status and work authorizations permitted by DACA would reduce estimated state and local revenues by nearly $800 million, and drop the total contributions to just over $1.2 billion annually.

 

  1. Every state benefits from the economic contributions of the young immigrants eligible for DACA (see Appendices 1 and 2). For example, the 379,000 young immigrants living in California are contributing more than $534 million to the golden state while the 2,000 immigrants in our nation’s capital contribute $2.7 million to the District. Likewise, every state stands to lose considerable revenue if we do not maintain the protections and opportunities DACA has allowed.” Source: https://itep.org/state-local-tax-contributions-of-young-undocumented-immigrants/

On the topic of state and local taxes… the Pew Research Center states that California leads the nation with the number of DACA recipients. Out of the roughly 790,000 immigrants who have received DACA 222,795 are Californians (this is the number of people who have received DACA, which is not the same as the number of applicants – since individuals need to renew every two years and the program has existed for five years, the number of applications exceeds the number of people in the program). Source: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/09/01/unauthorized-immigrants-covered-by-daca-face-uncertain-future/

And a 2016 United We Dream, National Immigration Law Center and the Center for American Progress survey of DACA recipients found the following to be true of DACA recipients:

“95% [are] currently working or in school

48% got a job with better working conditions [due to their DACA status]

63% got a better paying job [due to their DACA status]

90% got a driver’s license or state ID

54% bought their first car

12% bought their first home

41% have an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen over the age of 18, 80% of whom are registered to vote”. Source: https://unitedwedream.org/press-releases/new-national-survey-of-daca-recipients-proof-that-executive-action-works/

If you want to read more and learn about the real lives of some DACA recipients, the Center for American Progress has a podcast and few articles of note:

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/news/2017/08/30/438173/bonus-episode-fate-hands-mr-trump/

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/reports/2017/06/22/434822/taking-giant-leaps-forward/

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/early-childhood/reports/2017/07/31/436377/trumps-immigration-policies-harming-american-children/

Hunter Must Speak Out Against Trump’s Anti-Investigation Crusade

Hunter Must Speak Out Against Trump’s Anti-Investigation Crusade

Whether or not Republicans, including our Representative, are willing to speak up against Mr. Trump’s pushing on the limits of democracy, we need to speak up. As many political pundits have noted, Mr. Trump’s statements and behaviors this past week seem to indicate that he is toying with ideas on how to squash or discredit Mr. Mueller’s Russia investigation. If there is no or not enough of a push-back, the odds greatly increase that Mr. Trump will pursue one of his tactics, which unequivocally will weaken our democracy. Having an outcry after he has done the action, while important, cannot rewind time and retroactively protect the separation of powers, which are integral to our democracy.

Representative Hunter has made no public statements on this matter. In fact, his last official statement on Mr. Trump and Russia was on May 17th of this year entitled, “Hunter: Let President Trump try to work with Russia” (https://hunter.house.gov/hunter-let-president-trump-try-work-russia). Thus it is important that we are a voice of wisdom for Rep. Hunter and urge him to take a stand against the unethical acts Mr. Trump is toying with. Let us urge Rep. Hunter to warn Mr. Trump that there is such a thing as going too far. (If you need a dose of encouragement about contacting our oh so not receptive Representative: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/07/21/the_resistance_is_already_planning_for_when_trump_fires_robert_mueller.html).The acts we want Rep. Hunter to speak up against are Mr. Trump trying to have Attorney General (AG) Sessions resign or firing him, striving to discredit the Mueller investigation and potentially pardoning all those involved in the Russia debacle.

The reason for getting AG Sessions out of the way is that contrary to Mr. Trump’s opinion, the Special Counsel position i.e. Mr. Mueller reports to the AG and only the AG (or in this case the Deputy AG, since Mr. Sessions has recused himself from the Russia investigation) can terminate the Special Counsel; hence if Mr. Trump wants Mr. Mueller fired Trump needs to replace Mr. Sessions (https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/07/23/sessions-may-be-trumps-achilles-heel/?utm_term=.25512873b8b3). The President’s initial attempt at pushing Mr. Sessions to resign came in Mr. Trump’s now famous New York Times articles from July 19th, where Mr. Trump gave a vote of no confidence on Mr. Sessions by stating that Mr. Trump would not have hired Mr. Sessions had Trump known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/19/us/politics/trump-interview-sessions-russia.html). Another, potential, effort to push Mr. Sessions out of office is the recently leaked information that Mr. Sessions spoke with the Russian Ambassador about policy issues during the campaign – and hence lied under oath to the Senate (http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2017/07/21/sessions-discussed-trump-campaign-related-matters-with-russian-ambassador-intelligence-intercepts-show/TXVDiLIOQFbJ09pSf4MGwI/story.html?p1=BGMenu_Article).

The second avenue of inappropriate behaviors is the Administration’s attempts at discrediting Mr. Mueller and the investigation. There are two arms of this approach, the first is stating that Mr. Mueller’s appointment is illegitimate and the second is claiming that there are egregious conflicts of interest within the Special Counsel’s team. The supposed illegitimacy of Mr. Mueller being the Special Counsel has to do with Mr. Mueller having been interviewed for the position of FBI Director and the fact that Mr. Mueller worked with and knows Mr. Comey. When this, faulty, logic is expressed by Trump allies it is never explained why these facts make Mr. Mueller’s position illegitimate. The argument that campaign contributions are conflicts of interest is erroneous in that making a campaign contribution is specifically not on the Justice Department’s list of identified conflicts of interests. In addition to pushing these spurious claims, the Administration is actively digging through the backgrounds and lives of the Special Counsel’s team in order to find damaging information. Sources: http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/343164-trump-launches-all-out-assault-on-mueller-probe; https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/20/us/politics/donald-trump-robert-mueller-russia-investigation.html; https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-lawyers-seek-to-undercut-muellers-russia-investigation/2017/07/20/232ebf2c-6d71-11e7-b9e2-2056e768a7e5_story.html?utm_term=.040ab9ae3a0f; http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-pardon-power-amid-white-houses-escalating-war-on-russia-probe-2017-7.

The final concerning action of Mr. Trump’s with regard to the Russia investigation is Mr. Trump’s alleged research into his pardon power alongside his statements that he has total pardon power. It came to light earlier in the week that Mr. Trump was having his legal team look into aspects of his pardoning power, including whether a President can pardon himself. Since this breaking news the Administration has been putting out statements and commentaries intended to change course – the current party line is that of course the President is not looking into this and why would he need to pardon anyone since the whole Russia issue is all made-up anyways, to quote Mr. Trump, “While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us. FAKE NEWS” (http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/23/politics/donald-trump-pardon/index.html). Additional articles on this issue: http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-essential-washington-updates-trump-tweets-that-president-has-1500725784-htmlstory.html, http://thehill.com/homenews/sunday-talk-shows/343369-talk-of-trump-pardons-reverberates-on-sunday-shows, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/22/us/politics/donald-trump-jeff-sessions.html, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/the-latest-trump-asserts-pardon-power-in-morning-tweets/2017/07/22/c6a5f28a-6f40-11e7-abbc-a53480672286_story.html?utm_term=.f9a7b09d2961, http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-lawyer-open-question-president-pardon/story?id=48791366. Regardless of any legal issues regarding the President’s pardon powers, the statements he made about having and using them are a clear message to the Special Counsel’s investigative team that even if they find wrongdoing by Trump and associates, no one will pay any consequences.

 

 

 

An Outcry to Have Jared Kushner’s Security Clearance Reviewed and Revoked

An Outcry to Have Jared Kushner’s Security Clearance Reviewed and Revoked

Today we add our voices to those of countless other Americans as well as numerous Democrats in Congress who are calling for Jared Kushner’s security clearance to be at minimum reviewed and possibly revoked.

Mr. Kushner’s behaviors, not partisan politics, underlie this outcry. These behaviors are as follows: 1) Mr. Kushner has had numerous meetings with Russians, politicians and citizens, none of which he revealed. The latest revelation occurred this past week. In short this meeting was with a Russian government linked lawyer and the meeting was stated to be part of Russia’s efforts to help Mr. Trump win the election. For more information on this meeting: http://www.npr.org/2017/07/12/536782047/donald-trump-jr-admits-to-meeting-with-russian-lawyer; http://www.npr.org/2017/07/14/537219554/donald-trump-jr-meeting-included-second-russian, 2) Mr. Kushner has had to revise the form he completed in order to gain his security clearance, essentially Mr. Kushner lied on his application. For more information on this issue: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/jared-kushner-security-clearance-forms/, 3) Mr. Kushner asked the Russian Ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, to establish a secret back channel, in the Russian embassy, for communication between the Trump administration and the Russian government. For more information on this issue: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/report-russian-amb-kushner-wanted-secret-communications-backchannel/story?id=47672306

A security clearance allows one to receive, have access to, essentially know information that if disclosed would damage the U.S. Thus the process someone goes through before gaining a security clearance is a process designed to determine if the person would be appropriate with the information, if the secrets of the nation would be safe with this person. There are three levels of security clearance: confidential, secret and top secret and even with a security clearance one, should, only receive information on a need to know basis; however with Kushner’s position in the Trump Administration it is fair to assume he receives all the information, (https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/7/14/15964338/jared-kushner-security-clearance-explained).

Ultimately it is the President who is the final arbiter on who does or does not get security clearance in that the President can change the criteria, can revoke someone’s clearance and can give someone clearance: “The security clearance process is ultimately rooted in executive authority, not law, meaning the president himself is the ultimate arbiter. It is extremely rare for a president to wade into such an issue, experts said, but Trump does have the power, if he wanted to, to demand that Kushner keep his clearance. ‘If the president wants someone to have a clearance and access to classified information, there’s no one to tell him no,’ said Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy expert with the Federation of American Scientists. And this is a president who is fiercely loyal to his family. As Trump biographer Tim O’Brien put it, ‘Trump has always put family first, even if family members lack the skill or experience for the type of job they’re being asked to do.’ ‘Trump wouldn’t take away his security clearance himself,’ O’Brien said. ‘He would have to be convinced by his own attorneys and his staff that the issues had moved beyond familial loyalty. That’s going to take a lot of arm-twisting and convincing.’ Not having a security clearance would hobble him from doing large swaths of his job. On many days, he receives classified briefings, according to a senior administration official — and he is often in the room with his father-in-law for sensitive decisions about classified issues. He has traveled overseas with top military commanders and calls foreign leaders on his own. One source said Kushner sometimes comes to National Security Council meetings ‘at least for part of the meeting’ and that he often talks to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson,” (http://www.politico.com/story/2017/07/16/jared-kushner-security-clearance-240575).

And now to the outcry, here are some of the words & thoughts from those who are calling for a review and possible revocation of Mr. Kushner’s security clearance:

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tweeted, “Jared Kushner’s security clearance must be immediately revoked. #ProtectOurDemocracy” (http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/07/13/democratic-leader-pelosi-kushner-security-clearance/)

“A review of Kushner’s clearance, [Richard] Blumenthal [D-CT] said on Wednesday, was ‘now no longer a matter of choice’. A security clearance entitles Jared Kushner to full access to the most secret and potentially significant information about our national defense and security, the identity of our agents who may be operating in countries like Russia. It’s the keys to the kingdom in terms of our nation’s crown jewels.’”, (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/12/jared-kushner-security-clearance-russia-meeting-donald-trump-jr).

“Laurence Tribe, a professor at Harvard law school, wrote in an email: ‘Jared Kushner’s failure to disclose that memorable (and probably unlawful) June 2016 meeting with a Russian attorney is itself a serious and independent crime under 18 USC section 1001 punishable by five years in prison, and it would no doubt justify revocation of his security clearance…. ‘If it is not revoked, the reason can only be that his father-in-law is President Trump. But that is no reason at all in a republic rather than a hereditary monarchy and under a constitution that bars titles of nobility. So I’d say his security clearance certainly ought to be revoked.’”, (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/12/jared-kushner-security-clearance-russia-meeting-donald-trump-jr).

“Norm Eisen, the former ethics tsar in Barack Obama’s administration…. said: “I think, certainly, the security clearance should be re-evaluated. One must balance the principle of innocent until proven guilty with the less prudential standards that go into giving a security clearance. The pattern of omission by Kushner and others in Donald Trump’s circle increasingly points to a consciousness of guilt. Once a security clearance is granted it’s much harder to take away, and if this pattern of omission had been known when the security clearance was being considered, I doubt it would have been conferred.’”, (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/12/jared-kushner-security-clearance-russia-meeting-donald-trump-jr).

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the Ranking Member on the House Intelligence Committee also called for Kushner’s security clearance to be reviewed and possibly revoked, in light of the “deeply disturbing” reports that Kushner met with an alleged former Soviet counterintelligence officer in a June 2016 arranged by Donald Trump Jr. [He stated on Twitter:] “Reports Kushner amended security form “should cause his clearance to be reviewed”, and if he was not candid ‘immediately revoked’”., (https://thinkprogress.org/in-congress-growing-calls-to-revoke-jared-kushners-security-clearance-41280e597d67).

Rep. Red Liu (D-Calif) tweeted: “Jared Kushner must lose his security clearance immediately! This is not a partisan issue, it is our national security. #RevokeKushner,” (https://thinkprogress.org/in-congress-growing-calls-to-revoke-jared-kushners-security-clearance-41280e597d67).

Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight [stated that] “They [other government officials with security clearance] would lose their job immediately … Their clearance would be gone,” (http://www.politico.com/story/2017/07/16/jared-kushner-security-clearance-240575).

Eric Swalwell (D-CA) tweeted, “With Trump Jr. admissions on #RussiaHacking, here’s what must happen:
— Ind. Commission — Revoke Kushner clearance — No sanctions relief” (http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/07/13/democratic-leader-pelosi-kushner-security-clearance/).

So… add your voice to this outcry and share your opinion regarding reviewing Mr. Kushner’s security clearance or revoking his clearance with our representatives.

 

HR 3102 Helping Non-US-Citizen Military Personnel Navigate the Immigration Process

HR 3102 Helping Non-US-Citizen Military Personnel Navigate the Immigration Process

It is easy to forget that since the inception of America, individuals who were not US citizens have fought alongside US citizens in every war – from the Revolution and Civil War right on down to our current wars. In bygone ages it was one way for an immigrant community to prove how loyal and American they actually were, for example there were three Irish only units during the Civil War (http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/the-irish-brigade).

“Since the American Revolution, immigrants have been woven into the fabric of our military. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the foreign-born composed half of all military recruits by the 1840s, and were 20 percent of the 1.5 million service members in the Union Army during the Civil War. Reportedly, half a million foreign-born troops from 46 countries served in World War I, amounting to 10 percent of the U.S. armed forces. During World War II, Congress expedited naturalization applications of noncitizens serving honorably in the U.S. armed forces, exempted them from existing age, race, and residence requirements, and ‘eliminated the requirement for proof of lawful entry to the U.S.’ Noncitizens served in the Vietnam, Korea, and Desert Storm conflicts, and immigrant service continues to be of vital importance in the post-September 11 period of conflict. Roughly 70,000 noncitizens enlisted into active duty service between 1999 and 2008, representing about 4 percent of all new enlistments. As recently as 2012, there were 24,000 noncitizens in the military, with 5,000 [lawful permanent residents (LPRs)] LPRs enlisting every year…. Overall, there are about 608,000 living foreign-born veterans of the U.S. armed forces from all over the globe,” (http://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/DISCHARGED-THEN-DISCARDED-fixed.pdf). Throughout our history it has been and still is Congress that grants permission and sets the requirements for non-US-citizens to participate in the military. To learn more about the current requirements, go to page 14 of the above pdf.

Despite service to their adopted home, many service members and Veterans do not gain assistance navigating the complex immigration process, which many people need legal help to complete, and which can prove to be life changing if the service member or Veteran gets into legal troubles or other situations that can result in deportation. It should be noted that having a clear criminal history is a requirement for getting into the military and many experts argue that legal problems often arise in part due to the experiences war exposes people to. The well documented struggles transitioning out of the military to civilian life as well as the mental health struggles of Veterans apply regardless of the individual’s citizenship status (http://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/DISCHARGED-THEN-DISCARDED-fixed.pdf).

HR 3102 aims to rectify this injustice by creating an “Office of Service Member Naturalization” within the Department of Defense (https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/3102/text?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22HR+3102%22%5D%7D&r=1). The purpose of this office would be: “(1) to identify members of the uniformed services, including new recruits, who are not citizens of the United States; (2) to inform such members of the availability of naturalization assistance to facilitate such members in becoming citizens; (3) to help such members complete the naturalization process before their separation from the uniformed services; and (4) to coordinate points-of-contact at military installations to ensure that personnel who are responsible for assisting members through the naturalization process successfully complete their assignments,” (source: see above). These points of contact would make the necessary forms (Form N–400, Application for Naturalization, and Form N–426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service) available and would, “assist members of the uniformed services, including new recruits, who are not citizens of the United States in completing the process to become a citizen of the United States. If, through no fault of the member, a member whose service has been honorable is unable to complete the naturalization process before separation from the uniformed services, the naturalization office shall continue to work with the member until completion of the naturalization process, “(source: see above).

It should be noted that this bill does not impact the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program, which the Trump administration referenced ending last week (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world-0/us-politics/trump-immigrant-soldiers-military-army-scheme-deportations-president-considers-scrapping-a7821636.html). Per the Department of Defense, “The Secretary of Defense authorized the military services to recruit certain legal aliens whose skills are considered to be vital to the national interest. Those holding critical skills – physicians, nurses, and certain experts in language with associated cultural backgrounds – would be eligible,” (https://www.defense.gov/news/MAVNI-Fact-Sheet.pdf). In essence this program offers citizenship as an incentive for foreign-born individuals, who have professional skills the military needs, to work with the US military and is a program that primarily has been used to recruit individuals specific to a country the US has a military presence in (https://www.law360.com/articles/941737/sen-urges-mattis-to-honor-citizenship-for-service-contracts; http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/pentagon-considers-ending-program-to-speed-up-citizenship-for-foreign-born-service-members/article/2627677). HR 3102 applies to individuals (the majority of whom came to the US as children) who have voluntarily enlisted into the US military independent of any incentives, regardless of skill levels and generally out of a sense of loyalty, duty and patriotism.

A very interesting and possibly unexpected fact is that, “By the Pentagon’s own analysis, noncitizens have demonstrated commitment to the military beyond their citizen peers. Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before Congress that “[they] are extremely dependable … some eight, nine, or ten percent fewer immigrants wash out of our initial training programs than do those who are currently citizens. Some ten percent or more than those who are currently citizens complete their first initial period of obligated service to the country.” General Pace’s testimony has been echoed in various reports prepared by and for the military, with one report stating “relative to citizen recruits, noncitizen recruits generally have a stronger attachment to serving the United States, which they now consider to be ‘their country,’ and have a better work ethic.” As service time increases, noncitizens’ retention rates surpass those of U.S. citizens by even wider margins, with the dropout rate for noncitizens reportedly nearly half that of U.S. citizens when service reaches four years. Noncitizen soldiers have also served with great distinction, with immigrant service members accounting for 20 percent of all individuals who have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Just like their citizen brothers and sisters, noncitizens have given their lives to protect and serve the United States.” (http://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/DISCHARGED-THEN-DISCARDED-fixed.pdf).

These facts speak for the issue and it is hard to close on a powerful note, but the words of former CA Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher eloquently speak to the issue, “”If you are willing to give your life for your country, your country should be willing to give you citizenship” (http://www.deportedvets.org/).

California is actually doing quite a bit to help Californians who have served and are not US citizens become naturalized and an interesting article on this is: https://www.courthousenews.com/san-diego-leaders-lobby-bring-back-deported-veterans/. A non-profit working to help deported Veterans is: http://www.deportedvets.org/ and the ACLU report referenced earlier is a resource rich in history, information and data: http://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/DISCHARGED-THEN-DISCARDED-fixed.pdf. If you don’t have an opinion on this issue and thus this bill, I encourage you to gain more knowledge.