Posts from Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

Undocumented DREAMers Mark 5th Anniversary of DACA with Fear and Hope

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee Immigration Reporter, Think Progress

It’s been five years since the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative granted undocumented immigrants the ability to receive temporary deportation relief and work authorization. In this time, upwards of 800,000 immigrants have began their first jobs, opened their first bank account, bought cars and other major consumer products, and contributed millions of dollars in taxes to the country.

Year after year, the program has come under successive waves of attacks from Republican lawmakers who say the program was an executive overreach by then-President Barack Obama. With a Democrat president and a Democrat-controlled Senate, the threats to rescind DACA without the promise to carve out a pathway to citizenship for so-called DREAMers have always remained largely empty. But now, the program is at an inflection point where it could end immediately. There already is a looming legal challenge against the White House by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and nine other state lawmakers to stop DACA by September 5. On the other side however, the program enjoys broad defense from at least 20 state attorney generals and more than 100 law professors across the country.

The fate of the program is clearly unclear: President Donald Trump promised to rescind any executive actions from his predecessor, but he also has said he would treat these so-called DREAMers “with heart.” In June, a White House official told Reuters that “no final determination has been made” about the future of the program.  With less than one month until Paxton’s deadline, Trump has remained mum so far.

More ...

7 States Challenge Trump’s EPA for Ignoring Science, Failing to Ban Pesticide Linked to Brain Damage

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee Immigration Reporter, Think Progress

Seven states and a dozen health and labor groups separately challenged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week to ban the use of a controversial insecticide linked to human health issues. Earlier this spring, the EPA rejected calls to ban the use of chlorpyrifos, an insecticide widely used to control pests on crops like Brussels sprouts and almonds.

New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, along with six other attorneys general, submitted legal objections arguing that the use of chlorpyrifos at any amount could have adverse effects on farmworkers and children. In the legal filing, the attorneys general argued that the EPA “failed to make a key safety finding needed to continue to allow levels of chlorpyrifos.”

Attorneys General argued that allowing chlorpyrifos residue on human food violates federal law because the EPA has not been able to make “the finding of safety required.” The states call on the EPA to ban the use of chlorpyrifos on food within 60 days.

“The EPA’s first job is ensuring the health and safety of New Yorkers and all Americans — especially our children. Yet the Trump administration is jeopardizing our children’s health by allowing continued exposure to this toxic pesticide at levels it has not found to be safe,” Schneiderman said in a press release. “If the Trump Administration won’t follow the law — and put our children’s well-being first — we will fight back.”

More ...

Trump lashes out at wrong court after his effort to defund sanctuary cities is struck down

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee Immigration Reporter, Think Progress

The morning after a federal judge temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s attempts to deny federal funding to so-called “sanctuary cities,” President Trump threatened to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“First the Ninth Circuit rules against the ban & now it hits again on sanctuary cities-both ridiculous rulings,” Trump wrote as the first of a three-part Twitter rant Wednesday morning. “See you in the Supreme Court!”

Trump said that the Ninth Circuit — where he presumed the ruling was issued — has a “terrible record of being overturned.” But Judge William Orrick — a district court judge based in San Francisco who issued Tuesday’s injunction — does not sit on the Ninth Circuit, which is an appeals court. As Politico pointed out, the Ninth Circuit will be the next court that will hear the case if the Trump administration chooses to appeal the decision.

More ...

Trump policy adviser recommends national registry targeting Muslim immigrants

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee Immigration Reporter, Think Progress

Muslim immigrants coming into the United States from “terror-prone” countries may soon have to register and check in regularly with the government, said Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an adviser to President-elect Donald Trump.

Kobach — architect of anti-immigration legislation in Arizona and Alabama, as well as cities in Pennsylvania and Texas — recommended that the incoming administration could enact Trump’s call for “extreme vetting” of Muslim immigrants by reinstating a national registry that targets people from largely Arab- and Muslim- majority countries, Reuters reported.

Known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), that program allowed the U.S. government to record the arrival, length of stay, and departure of certain individuals from 25 countries believed to possess “possible national security threats.” Those countries included Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Lybia, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia. Only one country on the NSEERS list, North Korea, is not majority-Muslim.

More ...

Trump supporters share a fake image of an undocumented immigrant voting, scream voter fraud

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee Immigration Reporter, Think Progress

An image is circulating around the internet depicting a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent arresting an alleged undocumented immigrant in the back of a voter line. In one scary tweet originating from a supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, the individual said that ICE agents are monitoring polling sites.

In reality, both the photo and the tweet itself are fake.

Intended to scare Latino voters from going to the voting booth, the image in the tweet is actually two separate photos stitched together to concoct a completely false story. One photo, used widely by other media outlets like the Wall Street Journal, is from a primary voting location in Arizona from March. The other photo can be found on Wikimedia Commons, according to ProPublica and Univision, which first reported the image composite.

More ...

Another Woman Just Came Forward to Say Trump Assaulted Her

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee Immigration Reporter, Think Progress

Just one day after the third and final presidential debate, another woman has come forward to say that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump groped her 18 years ago after a U.S. Open tennis tournament in Queens, New York.

Karena Virginia — a self-described yoga instructor and life coach who lives in the New York City region — said at a press conference on Thursday morning that Trump approached her in 1998 while she was waiting for her car service in Flushing, New York.

“As I was waiting, Donald Trump approached me,” she said. “I knew who he was, but I had never met him. He was with a few other men. I was quite surprised when I overheard him talking with the other men about me. He said, ‘hey look at this one. We haven’t seen her before. Look at those legs’ as though I was an object rather than a person.”

Virginia became visibly emotional when she described Trump groping her.

“He then walked up to me and reached his right arm and grabbed my right arm,” she said. “Then his hand touched the right inside of my breast. I was in shock. I flinched. ‘Don’t you know who I am?’”

More ...

A Boy At A Trump Rally Called Clinton A ‘Bitch.’ That’s Not An Accident.

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee Immigration Reporter, Think Progress

During a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Ashburn, Virginia last week, a school-aged boy shouted “take the bitch down” in an apparent reference to Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton.

Responding to a group of reporters sitting nearby, the child’s mother, who identified herself as Pam Kohler, defended her child’s “right to speak what he wants to,” noting that “he’s a minor so he can’t be interviewed.” When asked about his behavior, Kohler blamed “Democratic schools” for her child’s lewd language, the Los Angeles Times reported.

It may appear shocking that a young boy and his mother are unapologetic about his potty mouth and indecorous behavior against Clinton, who is not just a presidential candidate, but a former senator, Secretary of State, and First Lady as well. But because children are influenced by their environment, it almost seems inevitable that he would use the same kind of inflammatory language Trump and his campaign advisers use. In fact, a Clinton campaign video from mid-July titled “Role Models” lobbed similar criticisms about Trump’s language, showing children watching television set to some of Trump’s more controversial statements.

More ...

Melania Trump May Have Worked In The United States Illegally

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee Immigration Reporter, Think Progress

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to penalize and deport “illegal immigrants” living in the United States — but he may very well be married to one.

That’s because Melania Trump, who was born in Slovenia, may have worked illegally in the United States during the beginning of her career as a model in New York City, Politico reported this week.

Melania has said that she came to New York in 1996 on a modeling contract and a work visa. But nude photographs that surfaced this week, accounts from Slovenian journalists, and a former roommate all pinpoint her arrival date in 1995, leading to speculation that she may have actually worked in the country on a tourist visa.

Trump’s wife has suggested several times that she worked as a model on a short-term visa. She says she followed the law by traveling back to Slovenia “every few months” to renew her visa before getting her green card in 2001.

“I follow a law the way it’s supposed to be,” Melania Trump told MSNBC in February. “I never thought to stay here without papers. I had visa. I travel every few months back to the country, to Slovenia, to stamp the visa. I came back. I applied for the green card. I applied for the citizenship later on after many years of green card. So I went by system. I went by the law, and you should do that.”

More ...

Trump Said He Would Bring Jobs Back To The Country. He Just Quietly Hired 78 Foreign Workers.

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee Immigration Reporter, Think Progress

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to bring jobs back to the country and force American companies to hire more domestic workers. Just don’t expect him to apply that to his own business: instead he is bringing 78 foreign workers to work two of his properties in Florida.

Earlier this month, Trump filed temporary visa applications for 78 positions for servers, housekeepers, and cooks to staff his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach and the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, citing an inability to find Americans who can fill the positions. The positions pay $10.17 an hour for housekeepers, $11.13 an hour for servers, and $12.74 for cooks, according to Buzzfeed.

From the moment he launched his presidential campaign, Trump has denigrated Mexican immigrants as rapists, criminals, and drug dealers. And on multiple occasions, he has supported the mass deportation of the country’s undocumented population.

Despite his harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy proposals, Trump has vigorously defended his own use of foreign workers, saying that it was hard to get Americans to take on seasonal jobs during the five-month period that he called “Palm Beach Season.”

“You can’t get help,” Trump said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” last year. “Getting help in Palm Beach during the season is almost impossible.”

More ...

Sorry, Donald Trump — Americans Know The Difference Between Terrorists And Immigrants

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee Immigration Reporter, Think Progress

Americans don’t conflate concerns about terrorism with a fear of immigrants, according to a new survey conducted by the nonpartisan group Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) — challenging the harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from leading political figures in the aftermath of major terrorist events.

Terrorism concerns have increased about 18 percentage points over the past two years. In 2014, PRRI found that just 33 percent of Americans said they were worried about being affected by a terrorist attack. In the new survey, 51 percent of participants expressed concern that they or a family member could be a victim of terrorism.

At the same time, however, Americans haven’t embraced a harsher approach to immigrants. Roughly six in ten people told PRRI they support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants — a rate that has remained about the same since 2013, when the Senate approved a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would have included this policy.

It’s notable that rising terrorism concerns “have no discernible effect” on the public attitudes about this aspect of immigration reform, according to Robert P. Jones, the CEO of PRRI and the author of The End of White Christian America.

“What it suggests is that Americans are thinking about these two things somewhat separately. Their concerns about terrorism don’t translate 1:1 into attitudes about immigration policy,” Jones told ThinkProgress.

More ...

Union Matters

Powering America

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

Fierce thunderstorms, heavy snows and unusually powerful hurricanes ravaged America’s fragile power grid and plunged millions into darkness this year.

And even as these natural disasters wreaked havoc across the country, COVID-19 stay-at-home orders sparked a surge in residential electrical demand, placing new stress on a failing system.

A long-overdue overhaul of the nation’s electrical infrastructure would not only ensure America continues functioning during a crisis but help to reinvigorate the pandemic-shattered economy.

Built in the 1950s and 60s, most of America’s electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure lives on borrowed time. Engineers never designed it to withstand today’s increasingly frequent and catastrophic storms fueled by climate change, let alone the threats posed by hackers and terrorists.

To ensure a reliable power supply for homes, schools and businesses, America needs to invest in a more resilient, higher capacity grid.

That means either burying electrical lines or insulating above-ground wires and replacing wooden utility poles with structures made of steel or concrete. Other strategies include creating a battery-storage system to provide backup power, building coastal barriers to protect infrastructure against storm surge and further diversifying into wind and solar production.

Also, a shift toward more localized generation and distribution networks would limit the impact of any one power outage.

Making these upgrades with U.S.-made materials and labor will both stimulate the economy and protect national security. American steelworkers, tradespeople and manufacturing workers have the expertise to build a power grid strong enough to weather whatever storms come America’s way.

More ...

Stronger Together

Stronger Together