Reaction to Trump’s border wall speech – more crisis in Washington?

After Donald trump asked all major US television channels to broadcast live a speech on trying to secure funding to progress his Mexican border wall project, there has been a range of reactions.  As usual both sides of the standoff deserve criticism.

The United State’s southern border is a major problem, but Trump’s (and his Administration’s) handling of it has been terrible. Bluster, tantrum and false claims keep Trump in the firing line for criticism, dominating the problems.

Washington Examiner editorial:  All’s not well at the southern border

We do not have an emergency at the southern border, and so it’s good President Trump did not try to seize power by declaring a state of emergency during his national address on Tuesday night.

We do have a serious problem with border security, and so it’s unfortunate Democrats and the press have tried to downplay the problem.

Some of our southern border has physical barriers. For much of it, though, we depend on natural barriers to deter illegal entry, such as the cruel desert or the Rio Grande. If it’s already illegal and deadly to cross in these places, there’s little sense to the protestations by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that a physical barrier there would be immoral.

Of course, Trump doesn’t help his cause when he exaggerates, misrepresents, and misunderstands the facts. It’s not true that terrorists are streaming across our southern border. It’s also not true that our unprotected border areas are the main avenue for illegal drugs — those are mostly smuggled in through valid border crossings, as far as the data can tell us.

Is the problem growing, declining, or generally steady? That depends on how you measure it. We wouldn’t call it an emergency, and we argued against such a declaration by Trump.

But Trump has a magical power to control what people think, particularly his opponents. Trump’s overblown statements about terrorists, heroin, and emergencies have driven his critics to declare our southern border is just fine. That’s a lie.

Are there really people saying the US-Mexican border is just fine?

Our border is porous, and our country suffers from it. Better physical barriers would help. Once we accept that basic truth, we can have a better debate.

It looks unlikely that trump is interested in debate let alone better debate.

New York Times:  The Crisis Is in the Oval Office

How fitting is it that President Trump’s first Oval Office address, which he requested be televised live in prime time by every major network, was aimed at stirring up the American public about a crisis largely of his own making?

Pursuing poorly thought-out and even more poorly executed policies on the pretext of battling a nonexistent national security crisis, Mr. Trump has helped create a pressing humanitarian one.

Mr. Trump is now invoking the urgency of the situation as a justification for pursuing more wasteful, hard-line measures that most Americans do not support, chiefly the ludicrous border wall over which he has shut down critical pieces of the government. The president and his enablers have been busily knitting together inaccurate data, misleading anecdotes, exaggerations and other “alternative facts” about the flow of criminals, drugs and terrorists across the southern border.

Failing that, Mr. Trump has also been floating the possibility of stiff-arming Congress altogether. With his advisers increasingly anxious that Republican lawmakers are poised to abandon them on the shutdown, the president has raised the threat of declaring a national emergency, which he thinks would allow him to command the Pentagon to build his wall.

Such a move would prompt a swift and furious legal challenge, if not a full-blown constitutional crisis, that could drag on indefinitely.

I wouldn’t rule out this being a plan of Trump’s. Who would know what his aim is?

While Mr. Trump proved a wily campaigner and political street fighter, as president he has been painfully out of his element. Two years in, he remains ill suited to the complicated, thankless, often grinding work of leading the nation. Governance clearly bores him, as do policy details both foreign and domestic. He has proved a poor judge of talent. He prefers grandstanding to negotiating, and he continues to have trouble with the whole concept of checks and balances.

While the Republican base remains enamored of him, most of the electorate has grown weary of his outrages and antics.

Which is why, with his wall on the line, Mr. Trump so desperately needs to convince the American people that they are facing an acute crisis — maybe even a bona fide emergency.

Josh Campbell (CNN):  Presidential address: The one word Trump didn’t say

In recent days, his administration has sought to whip up fear by scaring people into believing our nation faced a major crisis involving known or suspected terrorists attempting to gain entry in the country. The goal appeared to be trying to manipulate the public’s emotions to persuade people that a border wall would stop dangerous terrorists from coming into the country to kill innocent Americans.

After persistent and repeated fact-checking by journalists and experts, all pointing out the administration’s lies and misleading statements, the White House seems to have retreated from the terror scare. In addressing the nation Tuesday, Trump never uttered the word terrorism.

Last week, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stood in the White House Rose Garden and caused jaws to drop by publicly indicating authorities had stopped over 3,000 known or suspected terrorists from entering the southern border.

Vice President Michael Pence later echoed these same figures on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The problem is, this number was in part highly misleading and in part actually false, as it referred to a broad category of people, based in part on their country of origin, not necessarily their own individual actions, and mischaracterized where they entered the country.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told the biggest whopper of them all, insisting last weekend on Fox News that nearly 4,000 terrorists actually made their way into the country, adding “we know that our most vulnerable point of entry is at our southern border.” She was fact-checked in real-time by host Chris Wallace, who pointed out that although suspected terrorists have been prevented from entering the country, their method of transit was mainly airports, not just the southern border. He said, “They’re not coming across the southern border, Sarah, they’re coming and they’re being stopped at airports.”

The false Sanders narrative went uncorrected by anyone from the Trump administration until Tuesday, when Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway finally shrugged it off as “an unfortunate misstatement,” adding, “Everyone makes mistakes.”

Some make more ‘mistakes’ than others.

One of the biggest mistakes being made by Trump and his administration is the amount of bullshit they keep spinning. They have got away with a lot, but soft supporters must gradually be questioning their truthlessness and lack of honesty.

Howard Kurtz (Fox News):  Many pundits rip Trump’s border speech — both before and after

President Trump used his much-disputed television time to portray the border as a humanitarian and law-enforcement crisis of the “heart” and “soul,” but not before some media organizations preemptively accused him of spreading lies about the issue.

The president, in sober tones, said nothing about declaring a national emergency, focusing instead on how migrant children are used as “human pawns” and how drugs and criminals are pouring across the border. He also made the economic case, saying illegal immigrants drive down wages, especially for blacks and Hispanics. And he declared that “the federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only” — that the Democrats refuse to provide $5.7 billion for “border security.”

Nancy Pelosi, with Chuck Schumer, soon offered the rebuttal, saying the Democrats were all for border security, but not an ineffective wall. She said Trump was holding federal workers “hostage” and that his remarks were “full of misinformation and even malice” — a phrase the Democrats had used hours before the Oval Office address.

In similar fashion, some cable news anchors who had been predicting the president would lie in his speech came on the air soon afterward to make that charge, which was not leveled at the Democratic leaders.

Despite the enormous buildup, nothing that either side said seemed likely to change many minds — or hasten an end to the 18-day partial shutdown.

There is a growing crisis for many Government workers:

There’s a case to be made that this is an artificial crisis, with Trump using the border situation to pound away at his signature promise to build a wall and the Democrats determined to deny him that funding. But there’s also a very real crisis, in which both parties play a role, as 800,000 federal workers continue to go without paychecks and the ripple effects of the partial shutdown are increasingly hitting the economy.

But there’s no denying the political dimension of the shutdown. Half an hour after the Trump speech, his campaign sent out a fundraising pitch saying “he will NOT cave to the Democrats when it comes to YOUR SAFETY…The President is counting on you in this fight, we must hit our goal of $500,000 in ONE DAY.”

Does Trump have a fundraising crisis? This was Trump’s first Oval Office address in two years of office. It seems cynical to use that as a fundraising opportunity.

Trump is due to visit the southern border soon, in an apparent PR blitz, but so far the Democrats who now have the numbers to allow or deny him his wall funding are holding out.

While it can be argued that there is some sort of crisis on the border, it is getting easier to argue that there is a growing crisis in Washington – their dysfunctional system of government looks like it’s in a slide downhill.

Trump’s immigration speech

Donald Trump gave a speech today on immigration and funding of his border wall today, but didn’t declare a state of emergency as had been suggested as a possibility.

Reuters: Trump urges border wall, avoids declaring emergency

President Trump urged Congress to give him $5.7 billion this year to help build a wall on the border with Mexico, but stopped short of declaring a national emergency that could have led to unilaterally funding the project.

In his first formal address to the nation from the Oval Office, President Donald Trump painted a picture of a national threat and humanitarian crisis occurring along the US-Mexico border, saying his signature border wall would provide a solution.

Here’s a partial rundown of the President’s statements and the context:

Trump: “The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.”
The President has made this false claim before.

Trump: “Every day, Customs and Border Patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country.
This is overstated. Available Customs and Border Protection data shows a total of 396,579 people were apprehended by the US Border Patrol for fiscal year 2018 at the southwest border, which would mean an average of 1,087 each day — hardly the “thousands” that Trump purports.

Trump: “All Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration.”
It’s very difficult to know exactly how much or little undocumented immigrants cost the United States. Many experts contest the notion that undocumented immigrants are a strain on the economy. A 2017 analysis noted that undocumented immigrants “make considerable tax contributions,” for example.
Similarly, a 2018 study by the libertarian Cato Institute, which reviewed criminal conviction data from the Texas Department of Public Safety, found that immigrants — legal or illegal — are less likely than native-born Americans to be convicted of crimes.

Trump: “At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall.”
Democrats have long strenuously opposed Trump’s campaign promise that he would build a concrete wall on the US-Mexico border. But they did not propose a steel barrier as an alternative.

Fox News:  Trump laments ‘crisis’ at border, makes plea for wall as Dems slam ‘misinformation’

Our immigration system is broken

Comment from Gezza:


What an eye-opener

The Big Scam: Our immigration system is broken

After months of investigating visa frauds at the heart of our immigration system, we’re convinced it’s broken. Corruption and exploitation run almost unchecked. Our newest arrivals are told that fraud and graft are acceptable and unpunished. Scammers operate almost openly, safe in the knowledge they won’t be prosecuted.

The basic scams they run are:
* The Fake Job. There’s the paperwork to satisfy Immigration NZ and a salary paid to satisfy the IRD, but the job doesn’t exist and the migrant has to return the salary in cash (and top it up for the tax that’s been deducted).
* The Underpaid Job. They might tell Immigration NZ and IRD that they’re paying minimum wage – but the migrant is either returning some of their salary, or working a huge number of extra hours for free, or for cash under the table and below the minimum.
* The Inflated Job. The real job might be washing dishes – but when it comes to the paperwork, it’s a manager’s position.

One confessed overstayer claimed his bosses in the kiwifruit industry broke his legs when he fell out of line, knowing he’d never be able to go to a hospital for treatment because he risked deportation. Yet more emails came from Kiwis with tip-offs about the healthcare industry, hospitality, supermarkets, fruit-picking, IT. Some were angry, most resigned, several had contacted Immigration NZ and felt they’d been fobbed off.

Immigration advisor Malkiat Singh describes the situation now as “generational exploitation”. Each new wave of migrants is exploited, accepts that’s how it works, and in turn, once established, goes on to exploit those that arrive after them. For some, it appears, their major source of income is simply from charging newcomers for visas and fake jobs.

Our conclusion is that Immigration NZ, as it stands, is incapable of halting the tide of corruption.

Why? After years of no political priority being placed on pursuing and prosecuting offenders, they seem hopelessly understaffed. There are less than 30 immigration investigators in New Zealand. Instead of chasing down every case of fraud, it appears the department has wisely tried to focus on landing a few bigger cases to act as a deterrent to the smaller fish; but that tactic means many go unpunished and a culture has sprung up among migrant communities that it is fine to buy your way into New Zealand.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/108921008/the-big-scam-our-immigration-system-is-broken

Response to Winston Peters support of UN Migration Compact

NZ First got voter support due to their hard line stance on immigration. After he announced Government approval of a UN Migration Compact Winston Peters is taking a hammering on the NZ First Facebook page:

Peter Evans:

NZ FIRST FINISHED. Winston Peters and the greatest act of political TREACHERY in our history.
Peters is a liar a fraud and a self serving conman. NZFIRST is finished.

Jenny Cunningham:

Lower immigration and putting NZers first was what he campaigned on. He’s a total turncoat. I feel a bit sick actually

Raewyn Fisher:

The government are traitors to the NZ people

Tommy Way:

I voted for NZ first for there hard line on this topic.
But looks like Winston has sold his soul for power.
You lose my vote next election

William Coakley:

Lost my vote then. We need to start a petition about this. Otherwise NZ will turn into a dump like all those cities in europe.

Allan Farr:

 Belgian PM resigns after UN migrant pact row results in no confidence motion https://www.facebook.com/209101162445115/posts/2143409999014212/

Jefffery Bredenbeck:

No way should this government have signed this pact. When were us the people asked ?. This document limits the media or anyone from disagreeing with uncontrolled immigration, and thats ok ?

Greg Warden:

I have nothing but contempt for Winston Peters now. Signing that UN migration pact is signing away our sovereignty and taking away the right of this country to make it’s own decisions. We need a Donald Trump as our leader !!

Stephenie van Dusschoten

SAD!!! Anything to do with the UN is MASS MIGRATION…goodbye New Zealand….

Kelly Carmont

why sign it if it means nothing, hidden agenda maybe?

Sheree Rihari

Lost my vote Mr Peters. I think you have miscalculated very badly any support you think you may have had around this issue. Pity. I have voted NZ First for the last 4 elections and Im not in your target demographic, but never again.

Michael Wilson

You have really let down the NZ public on this one.. Such an important issue should have had a lot more consultation with the people of NZ… We didn’t vote you in to look after the UN’s plans and ambitions, We voted you in to act in the best interests of NEW ZEALANDERS!!

Barry Trimboli

Winston. You’ve just screwed us mate.
I did not vote for you so you could bend over to the UN. What you’ve done here goes against everything you campaigned on. You’ve looked us in the eyes and lied.
With one signature, you’ve just lost half your supporters. Good luck trying to get us back on board for 2020. I’ll remember this, my two ticks will be going elsewhere next time.

And it goes on.

It is surprising to see people surprised by Peters in Government acting quite different to how he speaks in Opposition, but this is not a happy bunch of (claimed) NZ First voters.

This could be a good illustration of why small parties supporting a Government struggle to maintain voter support. Being a part of Government inevitably involves making compromises. It’s just that in Opposition Peters had an uncompromising stance in his tough talk on immigration.

“The criticism of migration will be a criminal offense”

The European Parliament wants to extend the definition of ‘hate speech’ to include criticism of immigration, making it illegal. Media that publishes criticism of migration could be shut down.

From the video clip:

…one basic element of this new agreement is the extension of the definition of hate speech.

The agreement want to criminalise migration speech.

Criticism of migration will become a criminal offence, and media outlets…that give room to criticism of migration can be shut down.

The compacts for migration is legalisation of mass migration.

I can imagine that being quite controversial.

If it becomes law it would depend a lot on what the legal definition of “criticism of migration” is, but on the surface this is an alarming move towards legal limitation of speech.

 

Ardern wants Sroubek residency review fast tracked

KiwiFirewalker: Oh so now NZ wants to talk about about immigration!

There was a lot of talk about immigration in last year’s election campaign, but until the Sroubek issue came up the Government has kept fairly quiet – probably because their election promises (Labour’s and NZ First’s) seemed to have been put aside.

Its funny isn’t it that the immigration debate in New Zealand can limp along with barely any discussion on exactly how problematic the situation is for years until a Czech drug smuggler gets permanent residence then people loose their minds.

There has been some good coverage over time, such as Steve Kilgallon and Dileepa Fonseka’s excellent series of articles on Stuff about exactly how widespread migrant exploitation in NZ is and how badly our immigration system is being rorted, but I have not herd the words “migrant exploitation” or “immigration rort” in the last six months as much as I have herd the words “Czech drug-smuggler” in the last week.

Ian Lees-Galloway, as Minister of Immigration, made his decision about Karel Sroubek in one of the three following contexts:

1. Lees-Galloway (or one of his minions*) did not actually read past the cover sheet and just made their decision on the easy (but incorrect) emotion angle of the case,

2. Lees-Galloway read the file but the file the file did not have all the info so the decision was made with incomplete information, or

3. Sroubek was given residency as part of some deal with the Police, or some other agency, as part of his connection to the Hell’s Angels and drugs smuggling in NZ.

Any of the above could be true but since we are listing facts about this case then lets list a few more.

4. Immigration NZ is run like a fast food franchise with lowly paid employees, quantity over quality decision making, outsourced  and offshore functions** and a risk adverse senior management which knows the problems exist but will not face them,

5. Appeals to the Minister of Immigration only make it to their desk when ALL other avenues are closed and things are looking BAD (as in nobody wanted to approve your application), and

6. Its a total crap shoot when your case is gone to the minister for appeal, anything could happen.

In my five years at Immigration NZ I watched all sorts of cases get declined at every single other level and then go to the minister for final judgement and in some cases people that should definitely not be allowed into the country got to stay while those who had cases with the most compassionate grounds ever get rejected outright with no reason or explanation, because at that level the Ministers power is effectively absolute and there is no appeal if you loose (or in the case of those highly questionable individuals who got in: won).

That said the Minister can also make the right decision and one of the most heart wrenching cases of my career, that I was unable to approve despite it being a obvious “yes”, finally got approved later by the Minister; to my utter happiness, and relief.

A bouquet for a National Minister of Immigration:

And for the record the Minister that I, and most of my fellow Immigration officers, felt made the best decisions was Michael Woodhouse.

And a brickbat for another:

For whatever reason when it usually needed to be declined he did and when it needed an approved he approved while, in my time at least, the worst  Minister was Jonathan Coleman who we could only believe was deliberately doing the opposite of what should be done, every single time, as there seemed to be no other rational explanation for the atrocious range of appalling decisions he made…

It’s not the party that matters, it’s the personality of the Minister.

So the real questions in these circumstances is not “why did the minister approve Sroubek” but how can Peter Thiel get the red carpet treatment but Karel Sroubek cannot?

Two of the most controversial residents.

Yet the likely outcome is Sroubek will go while Theil and Yang get to stay because apparently Kiwis can only get outraged about immigration issues when its drugs and not abuses by the wealthy,  obvious cases of espionage, migrant exploitation or marriage-for-residency scams which makes this less a genuine issue and more the most recent round of “wont someone think of the children!”.

So lets not turn the issue into another round of political point scoring or as an obvious distraction from a genuine high crime, like National selling slots in their party to the highest foreign bidder, but instead say “yes” to kicking Sroubek out but lets also get rid of that billionaire guy who got citizenship only because he’s filthy rich and that lying intelligence operative for a hostile power who is also, mysteriously, a sitting MP.

If Sroubek goes so should Thiel, Yang and all those other “economic citizens” who will have the dollars to buy a seat in Parliament because its just not right.

Good discussion points, but apart from Sroubek I doubt there will be any change for Thiel and Yang.

 

Trump tweet “is a sickening ad”

Donald Trump has been outrageously lying and inflaming on Twitter or years, but he may have not just jumped the shark, he has also kicked the shark’s teeth in.

On top of ordering thousands of troops to the US-Mexico border as an apparent election ploy, he has gone over the top playing the immigration card via Twitter:

This attack may rark up Trump’s base but it will make a few Republican candidates for seats in Senate and Congress nervous about the reaction of decent voters.

Trump Claims He Can Overrule Constitution With Executive Order…

A report from the US:

Saying his latest executive order was legal due to an “underutilized but totally feasible workaround,” President Trump claimed Tuesday that he could overrule the U.S. Constitution by means of the relatively obscure “no one will stop me” loophole.

“My critics say a constitutional amendment or at least an act of Congress is necessary to end birthright citizenship, but what they don’t realize is that a seldom-evoked administrative guideline ensures I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, because zero people will stand in my way,” said Trump, adding that the largely unheard-of clause allows him to circumvent normal legal proceedings because it’s not like anyone in any branch of government remains effective enough to prevent him from doing so.

“Though few modern presidents have made use of it, this loophole has always given the nation’s chief executive unilateral power over the Constitution. Its provisions dictate that the president can sidestep any checks and balances on his power once he has abused his authority so many times that no one can keep track anymore.”

Trump added that while his opponents may try to challenge his executive order in court, the loophole also states that by then he will have achieved his immediate political aims.

Trump Claims He Can Overrule Constitution With Executive Order Because Of Little-Known ‘No One Will Stop Me’ Loophole is from Onion, but this isn’t:

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee the right to citizenship to everyone born in the country, an assertion that runs counter to the long-established legal interpretation of the document.

“So-called Birthright Citizenship, which costs our Country billions of dollars and is very unfair to our citizens, will be ended one way or the other. It is not covered by the 14th Amendment because of the words ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof.’ Many legal scholars agree…..” Trump wrote in a Twitter post six days before U.S. congressional elections.

The Constitution’s 14th Amendment, added after the Civil War, grants citizenship to anyone born on American soil and was intended to give constitutional protections to former slaves. But some Republicans, including Trump, say it creates an incentive for people to enter the country illegally to have children.

It can be hard to differentiate between satire and what Trump actually says.

More ‘new information’ that prompted reconsideration of Sroubek residency

A report that there was more new information that prompted a reconsideration of the Sroubrek residency decision than that he had returned voluntarily to the Czech republic.

Newstalk ZB: Details surrounding Karel Sroubek’s residency revealed

Yesterday, Newstalk ZB revealed Sroubek had allegedly returned to the Czech Republic since arriving to New Zealand, which went against the suggestion the residency was for his protection.

Newstalk ZB can exclusively reveal the change in circumstance that could see controversial criminal Karel Sroubek lose his residency.

Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper understands the new information, which has sparked the change of heart, centres on Sroubek’s now ex-wife.

Initially, she supported Sroubek’s case for residency and said she was happy for him to stay in the country once he was released from jail, where he is currently serving a sentence for importing drugs.

This is believed to be the information Lees-Galloway used to make his decision.

However, the wife is now in the process of taking out a restraining order against Sroubek.

The decision came as news to Lees-Galloway, and he is now reviewing his decision.

See Immigration Minister to reconsider Sroubek residency decision

Electorate MP helps Sri Lankan family get residency

Electorate MPs do a lot of work with and for constituents that usually goes unreported and largely unnoticed, but here is a story of a success by rookie Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker (he took over the seat long held by Bill English and short held by Todd Barclay).

This also shows how MPs from different parties work together – in this case Associate Minister of Immigration Kris Faafoi.

Stuff: Sri Lankan family get residency after eight-year battle

A year after they pleaded to avoid deportation to Sri Lanka, a Queenstown family have been granted residency and are giving back to the community that supported them.

“I am so happy,” an emotional Dinesha Wijerathne said, while working in her new chef job at the community project Let’s Eat.

Husband Sam Wijerathne, a taxi driver, said they had struggled for eight years to reach a point of certainty for the family.

As they went through the residency application process, Dinesha Wijerathne, the primary visa holder, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and was unable to work.

Their working visa applications were declined and the future looked grim.

Local MP Hamish Walker stepped in too.

He assisted them to appeal to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal, buying time for the family, before requesting the Immigration Minister to intervene.

Walker, a first term National Party MP, lobbied Associate Minister of Immigration Kris Faafoi.

“Really I must thank him for allowing thIs family to stay in New Zealand,” Walker said.

Good work by Walker, and a good response from Faafoi.