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Virtually all leaders in both parties agree that a government shutdown should be avoided at all costs because it would damage the economy (one estimate is to the tune of $24 billion) and cause great hardship to federal employees, veterans, and many other American citizens by interrupting essential government payments and services, as The Guardian reports:
In view of the fact that apprehensions at the border are down, net migration from Mexico is zero or minus, no terrorist incidents have been reported involving anyone coming into the US from Mexico, and Mexico is one of America's most important trading partners, why is it so important to the president to have Congress provide funding for his Mexican border Wall that he would be willing to risk shutting down the federal government if Congress refuses?
The answer can only be that it is not the practical consequences of building or not building the Wall that are of primary importance to Donald Trump.
Rather, it can only be the symbolic meaning of the Wall, as a message to the people of Mexico, and the world, that immigrants from Mexico, Latin America, and the world in general outside Europe will no longer be welcome in America, any more than they were welcome under the 1924 Immigration Act which barred almost all immigration from outside Northern Europe for the following 40 years (although, to be sure, that law did not contain quotas limiting immigration from Mexico or other "Western Hemisphere" countries - not a big factor at that time).
What is there about the proposed Wall that would constitute such a clear, even though symbolic message, and why would the president be so anxious to put such a message out that he would risk something as destructive as a government shutdown to the people of the country that he was elected to lead?
I will venture some answers to these questions below.
First, very possibly most significantly of all, one can begin with Trump's own explanation of the significance of the Wall, as he views it. On June 3, 2016, CNN reported on then candidate Trump's interview with Jake Tapper relating to Trump's claim that Indiana-born Gonzalo Curiel, the presiding Judge in a federal district court lawsuit against Trump personally over Trump University (which has since been settled at a cost to Trump of $25 million) was incapable of deciding the case fairly because of Judge Curiel's "Mexican heritage", as his parents were Mexican immigrants.
CNN quoted Trump's words verbatim as follows:
"He's proud of his heritage. I respect him for that."
Trump then continued:
"He's a Mexican. We're building a wall between here and Mexico." (Bold added.)
Aside from the small detail that Judge Curiel is an American, not a Mexican, having been born in this country, as provided by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which Trump has since taken an oath as president to defend and protect, the open contempt for Judge Curiel, (whom Trump also called a "hater"),
because of the Judge's ancestry, cannot be explained away, no matter how hard one might try to whitewash it.
It would be difficult to imagine a clearer illustration of the true significance and purpose of the Mexican Wall, at least as far as Donald Trump is concerned.
But Trump's open attack on Judge Curiel based on his ethnicity didn't tell America, or the world, anything about his motivation for the Wall with Mexico that was not already obvious from June 16, 2015, the day that Trump announced his campaign for president of the United States and his plan to build a Wall with Mexico in the same speech.
Just in case there is anyone whose memory doesn't go back to that day, not quite two years ago, here is the way that Trump introduced the Mexican Wall plan, as quoted by Time:
"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
This was Trump's only explanation for his promise in the same speech, to build a "great big, beautiful wall" with Mexico (and to humiliate Mexico by making Mexico pay for the Wall).
Whatever else one may say about Trump, he often speaks in plain, clear language, without legalisms or parsing. There was nothing ambiguous in the above statement. The Wall was necessary, in Trump's view, because Mexicans in general are bad people - inferior to Americans - "criminals" and "rapists" who do not deserve to be in this country.
2,000 years ago, in his Aeneid, Virgil used the phrase gens invisum - a despised nation - to describe the goddess Juno's opinion of the Trojans - whom she was anxious to keep from coming to Italy by any means possible (and Virgil's great epic poem describes quite a few - this does not mean that I am impugning the slightest knowledge of Virgil or any other great classical literature to Donald Trump - I am not).
If Virgil were writing today he might well be using the same phrase, gens invisum, to describe the Mexicans whom Donald Trump wants to keep out of the United States, even at the cost of the damage to America's economy and the hardship to millions of Americans that almost everyone on both sides of the aisle in Congress agrees would result from a federal government shutdown.
However, Trump is far from being the only leader in either ancient or modern history who has tried to use a Wall as a symbol of contempt for a despised group of people whom the leader in question has wanted to keep out of his territory at all costs, no matter what it takes.
In the 20th century, one thinks of the Berlin Wall, and, even more ominously and tragically, the Wall which the Germans built to separate the doomed Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto from the non-Jewish part of the city during the Holocaust in WW2.
Going back further in time, both the Great Wall of China, impressive parts of which are still standing today (I have visited this Wall myself), and the Roman Emperor Hadrian's Wall near what is now the dividing line between England and Scotland, were intended to keep out people who were considered inferior and undeserving because of their ethnicity from crossing into the territory of nations, or empires, which considered themselves superior.
The irony is that what remains of all these ancient and modern walls is now treasured and preserved by historians as mementos of the inhumanity which some groups of people have inflicted on others throughout history.
For more details, see:
If Trump ever builds his Mexican border Wall, one prediction can be made with absolute certainty. Just as Trump's predecessor, President Ronald Reagan, predicted would happen to the Berlin Wall, and just as has happened to every other such wall throughout history, Donald Trump's Wall will also one day, most likely sooner rather than later, inevitably be torn down.
There cannot possibly be the slightest doubt about this.
When it is torn down, let us hope that historians, just as happened with the Berlin Wall, the Warsaw Ghetto Wall, and other more ancient walls such as those mentioned above, will be able to preserve a few fragments of them as mementos of man's inhumanity to man and as a warning to future generations.
If and when this happens, then, and only then, might one be able to say that there was a useful, or rational, purpose to Donald Trump's Mexican border Wall.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world receive work visas and green cards, thereby overcoming barriers to their ability to live and work in the United States of America.
Roger's email address is email@example.com
Updated 04-23-2017 at 11:07 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
The following comment has been updated and expanded as of Saturday evening, April 22.
The Hill reports on April 21 that anti-immigrant hard-liner Representative Steve King (R-Iowa), whose statements that Hispanic immigrants are "drug mules" and other verbal attacks on minority immigrants have aroused a storm of criticism and opposition, is now threatening to sue the Trump administration over the president's refusal to date to rescind President Obama's DACA - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a/k/a DREAMERs.
According to the report, King is arguing that "Defenders of the Constitution" may need to sue Trump to force him to cancel this program.
No one who has been reading my blog comments on this site will mistake me for an admirer of the president or a supporter of his immigration policies. But King's threat is at least a small indication that Trump is not totally bad when it comes to immigration.
One might hope that this could lead to more recognition of reason, reality and humanity in Trump's immigration policies than is apparent from his executive orders as president so far.
It is time to put respect for the equality of all people on which our nation was founded ahead of the hard line ideology of Steve King, Steven Bannon, Jeff Sessions and others of Trump's key supporters or advisers who want to revert back to America's long and sorry history of prejudice and persecution of immigrants because of their ethnicity, religion or country of origin - the ideology which helped Donald Trump win the presidency in the first place.
Does Trump have it in him to transcend the narrowness and animosity against immigrants who may look, talk, or pray differently from America's white, Europe-based majority which did so much to put him in the White House?
One would hope that, for the sake not only of many millions of immigrants to the US from around the world, but for the American people, who treasure this country's most fundamental values and ideals, we might be hearing a lot more threats from Steve King and others like him to launch lawsuits over immigration against Donald Trump.
Unfortunately, Trump's threat to shut down the government if he does not get his way with Congress for funding for his Mexican border Wall and permission to deny funding to Sanctuary Cities which stand up against attempts to bludgeon them into line in favor of mass deportation, is not a sign that he is ready to put his inflammatory campaign rhetoric and narrow, divisive executive orders against Hispanic, Middle Eastern, African and Asian immigrants behind him. See:
It is not yet clear if Steve King will ever need to sue the president over immigration.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants receive work visas and green cards without regard to ethnicity, religion or country of origin. Roger's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated 04-23-2017 at 05:34 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump earned notoriety by attacking the ethnic background of the federal judge presiding in the lawsuit against Trump personally over the operations of Trump University, a lawsuit which has been since been settled on Trump's agreement to pay the plaintiffs $25 million.
For those who may have forgotten, Trump called the judge in that case, Gonzalo Curiel, who had issued a ruling unfavorable to Trump, a "hater" who was incapable of reaching a fair decision because of his Mexican "heritage" and Trump's plan to build a wall against Mexico. For Trump's exact quoted words, see
Judge Curiel, who was born in Indiana of Mexican immigrant parents, is now the presiding judge in a lawsuit against the DHS by a Mexican citizen who claims that he was wrongfully deported to Mexico despite having DACA protection.
Though Trump himself has not issued any further attacks on Judge Curiel in this latest case, Trump's Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is now apparently following in Trump's footsteps by issuing a slur directed against another federal judge, sitting in Hawaii, who issued an injunction against enforcing the latest version of Trump's ban on entry to the US by citizens of six (originally seven) almost 100 percent Muslim countries.
Sessions did not attack the ethnicity of the (white) judge himself in this case, but instead, issued a transparent attack against the ethnicity of the entire state of Hawaii. Specifically, Sessions said:
"I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly clearly his statutory and Constitutional power."
For anyone who is familiar with the history of how Southern Senators were active in helping to delay Hawaii's statehood application in the 1950's because of that state's large non-white population, the disparaging reference to Hawaii as only "an island in the Pacific" (a mainly non-white area of the world, as Sessions clearly intends everyone hearing about his remark to keep in mind) by the Attorney General who, as everyone knows, was a Senator from Alabama for many years before assuming his current position, speaks volumes about the real intention of his comment.
It also tells us a great deal, not only about the history of racial attitudes toward Hawaii by American politicians, especially those from a part of the country where white supremacist segregation laws were still in effect, but about the real reasons for the Trump administration's Muslim ban executive orders today.
See the following brief but succinct summary of the sorry history of attempts by Southern Senators in particular to prevent Hawaii from becoming a state, which Sessions' statement cannot help but recall:
As the brief filed by the ABA in the 4th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals referred to in my April 20 Immigration Daily comment, together with a similar one which the ABA is filing with the 9th Circuit Appeals Court (which covers Hawaii) both make clear, there are strong Constitutional arguments, based on both freedom of religion and equal protection of the law for Muslim U.S. citizens and permanent residents (and other Americans who have connections with Muslim immigrants, students and visitors) against upholding the president's latest Muslim ban executive order.
Anyone who cares about preserving the rule of law in America would hope that Jeff Sessions, the nation's highest law enforcement officer, will henceforth direct his efforts to trying to answer these Constitutional (and statutory) arguments as best he can, rather than engaging in thinly coded racial invective against the people of an entire US state.
The fact that Sessions resorted to this kind of invective might, conceivably, indicate that he does not see his legal arguments in favor of upholding the president's latest Muslim ban executive order as being very strong.
In any event, the American people are entitled to decisions in immigration cases, as in every other type of case, based on the law, not on disparaging comments about the ethnic background of an individual judge, as in the case of Donald Trump's attack against Judge Curiel, or about the ethnicity of the people of an entire U.S. state, as in the case of Jeff Sessions' comment quoted above.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants receive work visas and green cards without regard to ethnicity, religion or nationality. Roger's email address is email@example.com
Updated 04-22-2017 at 09:43 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
On April 19, the American Bar Association filed an amicus brief with the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals asking that Court to uphold the decision of a Federal District Court in Maryland staying enforcement of Donald Trump's revised executive order banning travel to the US by citizens of six overwhelmingly Muslim countries.
For the ABA announcment and a link to the full brief, see:
The announcement states that a brief will also be filed with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals urging that Court to uphold a similar order by a Federal District Judge in Hawaii.
The ABA's 4th Circuit brief makes the following arguments against Trump's executive order imposing the ban:
1) The EO violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,
2) The EO violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment,
3) The EO violates federal immigration laws, including the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.
The ABA brief also argues that the federal courts have jurisdiction to review the president's executive order because its history shows that the order is not "facially legitimate and in good faith", according to the standard enunciated in the two landmark Supreme Court cases of Kleindienst v. Mandel (1972) and Kerry v. Din (2015).
It is impossible to overestimate the significance of this litigation over Trump's latest Muslim ban executive order.
If this executive order is upheld, and especially if the courts decide that the presidential order cannot be reviewed by the judiciary, Donald Trump will be free, like a monarch more than the president of a constitutional democracy, to issue future executive orders without restraint banning immigration, not only from additional Muslim countries, as is the obvious intention based on the language of the EO itself and its predecessor seven country ban, but from any country or area of the world which Trump and his top immigration advisers, Jeff Sessions, Stephen Bannon, Stephen Miller and Kris Kobach, regard as "detrimental" to US interests.
One does not have to have unusually prescient powers to guess which countries and areas of the world those might just possibly happen to be, given the admiration that some of these top advisers, if not Trump himself, have shown for the infamous northern Europeans only Immigration Act of 1924.
(However, there is certainly no reason to expect a travel ban against citizens of Russia or of at least one other Eastern European country that comes to mind, while Donald Trump is the president.)
More details about the ABA's arguments, as well as some thoughts about how the newest Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch, might react based on his opinion in a 2016 10th Circuit deportation case, if the Muslim country ban issue ever goes to the Supreme Court, will be discussed in my forthcoming detailed analysis of the ABA's brief.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants receive work permits and green cards for more than 35 years, without regard to ethnicity, religion or national origin. Roger's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated 04-20-2017 at 12:34 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
An April 19 article in The Hill by David W. Kreutzer, an analyst with the Heritage Foundation, justly criticizes the annual H-1B lottery as being completely ineffective for the goal of attracting the most talented foreign workers to America. No one can argue with him, but he has the wrong solution, which is to auction off H-1B visas to the employers who are willing to pay the highest salaries to the workers they are sponsoring for this visa.
"An auction would have at least two advantages. First, it would allow businesses that have the hardest time finding existing residents to fill their jobs to move to the front of the line. If the foreign employee they have identified is really that critical, they will be wiling to pay more than a firm that only seeks to get a more generic employee on the cheap. Second, it provides a measure of how much value an additional high-skilled worker is worth."
This suggestion also echoes Donald Trump's April 18 speech at the signing of his H-1B executive order stating that H-1B visas should be limited to skilled foreign workers with the highest salaries, instead of being available to those who are being paid the prevailing wages for US workers, as under current law.
The obvious problem with Kreutzer's suggestion, however, is that it would in effect limit this visa to employees of the largest companies which can afford to pay salaries at the very top of the wage scale, such as their highest ranking managers and executives. H-1B, therefore, would be turned into another version of the L-1 visa.
However, startups or even well-established smaller companies which are able to pay prevailing wages, i.e. wages equal to those being paid to American workers, to their foreign employees, as required by the current H-1B law, but cannot afford to pay salaries at the very top of the wage scale, would lose out under this proposal.
Foreign workers who have high-level skills but who are being hired for entry-level or less experienced level jobs, such as recent college graduates who are beginning their careers, or who are in an early stage in their careers, would also be frozen out under this suggestion.
It would, essentially, be a poison pill leading to the end of the end of the H-1B program as we know it - one more weapon in the restrictionist arsenal of the officials and opinion leaders inside and outside the Trump administration who would like to take America back in the direction of the northern Europeans only Immigration Act of 1924 which Trump and some of his top advisers have, directly or indirectly, praised as a model for America nearly 100 years later.
Clearly, however, Kreutzer does not agree with this restrictionist goal. He also writes:
"Saying that all immigration kills jobs for those who are already here simply does not comport with America's history. The market for skills and abilities is international. It is foolish to think that we cannot benefit from bringing the most creative and ambitious people to the United States."
But how to select H-1B foreign workers in a way that will really benefit America, in keeping with our history and traditions as a nation of immigrants? Certainly, not by the annual charade and farce of an H-1B lottery.
"It is even more foolish to think that we can identify the most creative and ambitious by flipping coins."
Nothing could be more true. What is the only fair and rational solution then? Certainly it is not to impose further restrictions on to abolish H-1B visas, as has been suggested by Jeff Sessions and other politicians who are not otherise known for supporting minimum wage laws, labor unions, health insurance or other measures that would raise wages and living standards of American workers in general, but who only seem to care about American working people as a means to keep out immigrants.
The obvious solution is to increase the number of H-1B visas in order to meet the demand. Unfortunately the chances of this happening in what Sessions has called the "Trump era" of restricted immigration and mass deportation are virtually nil.
Kreutzer's full article can be found at
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping H-1B and other mainly skilled and professional immigrants receive work visas and green cards for more than 35 years. Roger's email address is email@example.com
Updated 04-19-2017 at 08:49 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs