#1610 The Border, and Our Border Politics, Are a Mess (Transcript)

Air Date 2/14/2024

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JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [00:00:00] Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast in which we take a look at how the entire political system has lurched to the right on immigration, as Democrats adopt the talking points of the Republicans and the MAGA Republicans put Trump's election chances over the policies they claim to support. 

Sources today include The Readout; The Majority Report; The Damage Report; Today, Explained; The Brian Lehrer Show; All In with Chris Hayes; and Deconstructed; with additional members-only clips from Amicus and Deconstructed.

‘Basically a cult’: Trump's MAGA Republicans slammed for vowing to block immigration reform bill - The ReidOut with Joy Reid - Air Date 2-5-24

JOY REID - HOST, THE REIDOUT: We begin tonight with an emergency, a crisis, a catastrophe! At least that's what Republican lawmakers have spent the last few months calling the situation at the southern border. 

REP. MIKE JOHNSON: One thing is absolutely clear. America is at a breaking point with record levels of illegal immigration. It is an unmitigated disaster, a catastrophe. And what's more tragic is that it's a disaster of the [00:01:00] president's own design.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK: The border crisis, which is the top issue across the country. The numbers do not lie. Our country is being invaded right now, right in front of our very eyes, because of Joe Biden's catastrophic border policies. 

REP. MARK GREEN: We cannot allow this border crisis to continue. We cannot allow fentanyl to flood across our border, or criminals to waltz in undeterred. 

REP. CHIP ROY: This is very clearly an invasion. It is a purposeful one and it's inflicting dangerous consequences on our country and the people of Texas. 

JOY REID - HOST, THE REIDOUT: Wow, well given such alarmist rhetoric, you'd think that these lawmakers would want to act immediately to get this catastrophe under control, right?

Well, as of yesterday, they actually had the chance to do that. After months of talk, Senate negotiators finally released a sweeping bipartisan border security deal. The proposed bill would raise the standard to grant asylum, send away those who don't qualify, and expedite cases for those who do. It would also give the president new authority to effectively shut down the border to migrants when attempted crossings are high and end the [00:02:00] practice of catch and release, while also providing billions of dollars in funding for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, as well as humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza. 

But just hours after the bill was released, leading Republicans in the House said, Nope, we don't want it. Almost immediately. House Speaker Mike Johnson, along with Steve Scalise and Elise Stefanik, took to social media to throw cold water on any hopes of even debating the bill. And earlier today, they released a statement putting the final nail in the coffin, writing that any consideration of this Senate bill in its current form is a waste of time. It's dead on arrival in the House. We encourage the Senate to reject it. 

Instead, the Speaker is proposing a standalone bill providing aid to Israel, completely cutting out the border and aid to Ukraine. 

So let's just be very clear: The same people who are going on and on and going on these trips to the border to stir up outrage and yell about an immigration crisis were [00:03:00] handed the opportunity to help fix the issue on a silver platter, a bill that was negotiated by conservative Republican Senator James Lankford. And this is not some liberal wish list. It's actually the most conservative and aggressive border bill that we've seen in decades, that Democrats and President Biden were willing to bite their tongues and support, despite the fact that it offers no path to citizenship and doesn't even address the Dreamers. A bill that the Border Patrol Union, which has been very critical of President Biden, even they endorse it, saying, " while not perfect, it is a step in the right direction and is far better than the current status quo." And MAGA Republicans say, nah, we're good. 

Make it make sense. Because right now, even Senator Lankford is calling his party out on their foolishness. 

SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: Are we, as Republicans, going to have press conferences and complain the border's bad and then intentionally leave it open? Are we going to just complain about things, or are we going to actually address and change as many things as we can? If we have the shot, and [00:04:00] it's amazing to me... if I go back two months ago and say we had the shot under a Democrat president to dramatically increase detention beds, deportation flights, lock down the border, to be able to change the asylum laws, to be able to accelerate the process, no one would have believed it. And now no one actually wants to be able to fix it. 

JOY REID - HOST, THE REIDOUT: But the Republicans refusal to even consider this bill makes a lot more sense when you see the reaction of the guy who -- let's just be real -- is calling all the shots here: Donald Trump. Posting on his fake Twitter site, he declared that the "ridiculous border bill is nothing more than a highly sophisticated trap for Republicans to assume the blame on what the radical left Democrats have done to our border just in time for our most important election. Don't fall for it!!!!" Lots of exclamation points. 

Never mind the fact that when Trump actually was the president, he never passed a single immigration bill, even when his party controlled the House and the Senate. He never even closed the border, which he keeps saying needs to be closed. But I guess facts don't [00:05:00] matter to these people. The only thing that does matter is getting Donald Trump elected. I've said it before and I'll say it again: they don't want a solution, they want the chaos. Because they'd rather run on the problem than give Joe Biden a win in an election year on what voters say is one of the most important issues to them.

Democrats Fully Embrace Trump’s Immigration Narrative - The Majority Report w/ Sam Seder - Air Date 2-9-24

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: I don't think the Democrats would have done this were it not for Biden pushing it, and we'll hear him say that in a moment. Basically want to provide at least part of that authority to the president, in addition to setting up a system which makes it even harder for asylum seekers and immigrants in this country. Again, we went through this yesterday, you can be in this country for over a decade, legally, with legal documents and working papers, still not have the opportunity for citizenship. This is just about, ultimately, preventing non-white people from coming in. [00:06:00] 

First of all, the majority of undocumented people in this country have overstayed their visas. They came in, they had documents, they overstayed. The majority of people coming in through the border now are apparently Chinese. I'm talking the southern border. On one hand, we talk about how oppressive the CHICOMs are, and the other hand, we're like, well, but we don't care about any of the people there. Who are they oppressive to? 

EMMA VIGELAND - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Exactly. There's a few things, those two clips would have made so much more sense, especially the Chip Roy one, if this was literally Trump in office proposing this bill. The way that they're talking about, we need the executive authority here, it's like unitary executive theory, but for the border, that would allow for the White House, essentially, for the presidency to have this emergency authority, and you can activate [00:07:00] it on a discretionary basis and say like, "no, no, no, we're going to override international law on asylum and then also domestic law on asylum because I've decided to."

And so Biden proposes, this is in favor of this. What happens when the Republican gets an office? They don't care about that because, I don't know, Biden ideologically doesn't care, but also wanted to make this point for 12 Morning Joe viewers that the Republicans are unreasonable and can't make a deal, but now this is where the center of the conversation is to your point, which is really scary, really, really scary. 

This bill was as far right as you can get in terms of a bipartisan effort to address immigration there, and when you're saying they don't want non-white people in this country, that is true, and that's what motivates the base of the Republican party, but for a lot of Republican party, big money donors and supporters, and for Republican politicians with deep pockets, what they also want is to create an underclass of workers who are terrified and have a [00:08:00] deportation hanging over their head so they can take lower wages, work in horrible conditions, and be silent, but working, and really...

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Without any type of protection. 

MATT LECH: It's interesting, Chris Murphy was going around talking about, "Oh, look at how the Republicans won't even meet us when we would say we want to do what to do." It's interesting that Chris Murphy and the Senate and all these people can get together on bipartisan coups when it comes to places like Venezuela or whatever, but they can't get together on actually dealing with the fallout of our policies like that. 

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: I mean, let's be clear here, this is Initial push for border legislation was a sweetener to get the supplemental funding for Ukraine, and then Israel passed. That's the way this was offered. And now, the Biden administration has made it the primary focus of this legislation. They have moved the Democratic position on Comprehensive immigration reform from a place where we'll give you more border patrol [00:09:00] agents if you give us a path to citizenship and provide citizenship for people like the Dreamers. That was where the position was then. 

And now it's just. We're racing to see who can put more money into the border. Here is Joe Biden yesterday and it is him admitting, this is what he's saying, this is what the subtext of this entire exercise is, "the Republicans are right. We're being invaded. This is a crisis. I just don't have the tools to do it, and now I can't convince the Republicans to do it." 

Well, what is the average American to make of that? 


SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Well, A, weak, and B, who's the guy who's going to solve this massive invasion crisis? Because I've only got two choices. It's either this guy, or the other guy.

Here he is. 

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: For much too long, as you all know, the immigration system has been broken. [00:10:00] It's long past time to fix it. That's why months ago I instructed my team to begin negotiations with a bipartisan group of Senators to seriously and finally fix our immigration system. For months now, that's what they've done. Working around the clock, through the holidays, over the weekends, it's been an extraordinary effort by Senators Lankford, Murphy, and Sinema. 

The result of all this hard work is a bipartisan agreement that represents the most fair, humane, reforms in our immigration system in a long time and the toughest set of reforms to secure the border ever Now, all indications are this bill won't even move forward to the Senate floor. Why? A simple reason. Donald Trump, because Donald Trump thinks is bad for him politically. Therefore, even though it helps the country he's not for it. He'd rather weaponize this issue than actually solve it. 

So for the last 24 He's done nothing, I'm [00:11:00] told, but reach out to Republicans in the House and the Senate and threaten them and try to intimidate them to vote against this proposal. It looks like they're caving. Frankly, they owe it to the American people to show some spine and do what they know to be right.

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: I can't even watch this anymore. 

MATT LECH: You're not energized by that? 

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Aside from me not being energized, I mean, listen to what he's saying. My opponent in this race is all powerful and has the ability to govern as non president.

You can't even say like you don't want him to be president because if he's president, he's going to push this exact same bill. He wants this bill, the legislature wants the bill, but he doesn't want it to happen until he gets into office. And now the bill is not going to happen. So the American public is supposed to go like, Oh, well, I'm going to punish him for being so powerful and keep you in office, even though you won't be able to [00:12:00] solve the problem that you are now telling us is so urgent, that it has to be solved now. 

Well, in 11 months and 12 months, it's going to be that much more urgent. So I want the guy who's just going to come in and be able to do it, who has control of these people. Like none of this makes sense. None of this makes sense.

Republican CALLS OUT Trump By Name Over Outrageous Border Lies - The Damage Report - Air Date 2-10-24 

REP. CHIP ROY: No, we're not going to just pass the buck and say that, oh, any president could walk in and secure the border. I saw former President Trump make that allegation earlier today on one of his social media posts. All the president has to do is declare the border is closed and it's closed. Well, with all due respect, that didn't happen in 2017, 18, 19 and 20. There were millions of people who came into the United States during those four years.

 So, where's the lie exactly in that? Now, look, I don't know exactly what his long term goal is in that. He could be attempting to continue to demonize the fact that "look, even under a Republican, tons of these [00:13:00] immigrants came in," but he is right.

JOHN IADAROLA - HOST, THE DAMAGE REPORT: They claim you can just shut it down. Biden doesn't need this bill. He can just do it anyway by enforcing the law or snapping his fingers and then we're done. So we don't need to do a bill. We don't need Donald Trump to be mad at us. That's just a lie. And I would love to see Donald Trump answer why, if you can just shut down the border, he never did. If you can just do that, if it's that easy, just snap your fingers, you're done. Why is it that so many people crossed the border under Donald Trump? 

There's of course no answer to that, so they will do what they always do when faced with reality. They will completely ignore it. They will tuck tail and run. They will just hide behind their convenient lies. And there are so many in this topic. There are lies about the 5,000 migrants a day threshold. Look, we're not going to relitigate all of it. We've been going over for a solid two weeks at this point, but they're massive liars, and I love that you have at least one Republican who's willing to admit it from time to time.

Sharon, what are your thoughts? 

SHARON REED: Yeah, the band is, is breaking up here. Okay. They don't even need Yoko. The band is [00:14:00] breaking up. These defections, all this little stuff, there's infighting. And speaking of if petty was a person, George Santos is, miss me yet?" Okay. It's a beautiful thing to see when people who do nothing but lie and orchestrate, beyond normal politics, are now caught up and in a family feud. It's a beautiful thing to see, except, oh yeah, what about running the country? What about the rest of us?

JOHN IADAROLA - HOST, THE DAMAGE REPORT: Look, and I'll admit, this is my closing thought, I am delighting this. I love to see them fail to do things that they never should have tried to do in the first place. But I will also remind you, there is an opportunity cost to all of this, and it's the functioning of Congress. Yeah, they're failing to do stupid stuff. They're not doing anything else. This is what they're doing. They name a post office, they fail to impeach someone. They name another post office, they talk about impeaching Joe Biden. That's literally it. And the thing is, people [00:15:00] do need help. They don't just need antics.

The border standoff in Eagle Pass - Today, Explained - Air Date 2-7-24

NOEL KING - HOST, TODAY, EXPLAINED: We hear about places along the US-Mexico border where there are floods of people coming through, but I'll admit, Eagle Pass is not a city that I'd heard that I had heard much about until recently. Is this a place where you have huge numbers of migrants, typically?

ARELIS HERNÀNDEZ: Historically, no, this is not a place where people cross. But this part of the river that is bordering Coahuila state, which is reportedly one of the more safer states in Mexico to cross, has become a huge crossing point, and Eagle Pass because in part, the river is pretty wide and shallow. And right by Shelby Park has become a staging area for the processing of thousands of migrants, unprecedented numbers of people crossing at the same time. It's not unusual to hear local officials talking about having watched a thousand people like a sort of wave of humanity, just cross the river together.

SEN. TED CRUZ: One day last week, they had in a single day, 4,000 cross illegally into [00:16:00] Eagle Pass. 4,000 people in a town of 28,000, that’s about 14% of the city’s population. 

NOEL KING - HOST, TODAY, EXPLAINED: In Eagle Pass you have two groups that are claiming responsibility for securing the border, so to speak. You've got the Border Patrol, which is a federal force, and then you have the Texas National Guard. How do those two groups normally interact in Eagle Pass? Whose job is it to oversee migration? 

ARELIS HERNÀNDEZ: In the beginning aughts of Operation Lone Star, which is this border crackdown that Governor Abbott has undertaken since 2021. They actually worked together pretty well. 


ARELIS HERNÀNDEZ: Right. I mean, most people who do any kind of border law enforcement work together quite, intimately. And so you had both of these agencies, they're keeping a lookout, whereas Border Patrol are the only ones who actually have the jurisdiction and the immigration enforcement powers to detain people, to screen them for any number of immigration-related processes and to take them into custody at their self cited [00:17:00] facility. National Guard can't put their hands on migrants unless they're trying to help or save them. And we had that tragic incident of that one National Guardsmen who actually drowned after trying to help a couple of migrants. But, yeah, no, this is a no-fuss kind of thing. Border Patrol would welcome more boots on the ground. They're chronically asking for more help while Border Patrol is processing folks and running them through these screening processes, they're not watching the river. And so they would have – they welcomed the National Guard, watching the river and keeping an eye out. Now they're at odds because their leaders are at odds. 

 Since 2021, Governor Abbott has been beating this drum, saying that the federal government is essentially abandoning its duty to protect Texas's borders. 

GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT: The Biden Administration’s open-border policies have created an open season for human traffickers, for drug smugglers, for cartels and gangs. Because [00:18:00] the federal government is failing to respond to these dangers, Texas is stepping up to secure the border and to keep our communities safe. 

ARELIS HERNÀNDEZ: So it started with, sending state troopers down to the border. It started with sending National Guardsmen.

GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT: This is necessary because more than 45,000 people have been apprehended crossing our border in just the last three weeks. 

ARELIS HERNÀNDEZ: It's building state border wall. It was busing migrants from the NGOs to other cities across the country.

GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT: Before we began bussing illegal immigrants up to New York, it was just Texas and Arizona that bore the brunt of all of the chaos and all of the problems that came with it. Now the rest of America understands exactly what is going on.

ARELIS HERNÀNDEZ: And then it was arresting migrants accused of trespassing. You need landowners to sign onto that, so they were getting permissions from various landowners, riverfront property [00:19:00] landowners to be able to arrest people and run them through, a sort of specially-created justice system. And so Abbott, little by little, has been taking bites out of this apple until we get to this point where, Shelby Park is a municipal park, and they decided that, the fact that Border Patrol was using this park as a staging area that was allowing thousands of people into the country, at least from their point of view, that they needed to shut that down. 

GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT: So, Texas has the legal authority to control ingress and egress into any geographical location in the state of Texas. And that authority is being asserted in that park in Eagle Pass to maintain operational control of it. 

ARELIS HERNÀNDEZ: And basically the Biden Administration asked the Supreme Court to intervene because of a confrontation that happened. We’re still mulling through the details, but essentially the National Guard kept Border Patrol from entering the park in a moment of what they considered a medical emergency, [00:20:00] that there were migrants that were in distress. Now, if you ask Texas National Guard and Texas state troopers, they’ll tell you that those people had already drowned, but it's the fact that Border Patrol couldn't go in when they wanted to and have access to the border that pushed the Biden administration to say, "Hey, SCOTUS this can't be happening - this is an enumerated power in the Constitution that we have. Texas has no leg to stand on here." 

WQAD: Tonight, a narrowly-divided Supreme Court delivering a victory for the Biden Administration, clearing the way for federal agents… 

NOEL KING - HOST, TODAY, EXPLAINED: Can we talk a bit about how Abbott is framing this for his constituents, for the people of Texas? What is he saying when the Supreme Court says, "hey, buddy, you got to step aside?" 

ARELIS HERNÀNDEZ: Well, he invoked the Constitution, that Texas has a right to defend itself and that this constitutes—the tide of humanity that's coming across the border—constitutes an invasion.

GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT: Because Joe Biden has completely abdicated and abandoned his responsibility to enforce the laws of the United States, I have used a [00:21:00] clause in the Constitution that empowers states to defend themselves. It is Article 1, Section 10, Clause 3. 

ARELIS HERNÀNDEZ: It's the kind of rhetoric that has been used by extremists throughout all of this. And so, Abbott is saying, "Look, Texas is going to do whatever it can to defend itself against what it fears is an invasion." And a lot of people in the state agree with him. While they might not agree specifically with his methods, the numbers are such and the images are such that it provokes concern. Whether you're a Republican Democrat, whether you're progressive or a conservative, across the spectrum. 

NOEL KING - HOST, TODAY, EXPLAINED: Where does this leave us? Where does this stand right now?

ARELIS HERNÀNDEZ: We’re waiting on the courts to help us figure out who's actually in charge here and who has authority as enumerated by the Constitution to continue to operate on the border. We have this border deal that [00:22:00] came through over the weekend that Republican leaders are saying is dead on arrival. So we're just kind of in stasis the way that the border has been in stasis now for almost four decades. I mean, migration has changed. The hemisphere is on the move, and it's not just folks from Central and South Americans, it’s folks from all over the world. So the question is, how much work is the United States willing to put into working with Latin America to try and staunch some of these flows, which it already has—and conversation in Mexico has gotten a lot more aggressive with migrants, and that's why you see the levels plummeting the way they have in January, in terms of crossings. But, we're also entering the spring, and then the summer, when migration traditionally and historically has continued to increase. It's just a matter of wait and see what happens in the courts, what happens in Congress, and what the United States is able to do with its partners in Latin America. 

Republicans Forge Ahead to Impeach Mayorkas - The Brian Lehrer Show - Air Date 2-1-24

JACQUELINE ALEMANY : This has been ongoing for about a year now, really ever since Republicans took back the House [00:23:00] majority in the 117th Congress, when you just all heard those vows from people like Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and others who, even before any impeachment investigation or proceedings began, promised voters that they were going to impeach Alejandro Mayorkas.

The main players that we're seeing lead this charge forward and finally execute this impeachment right now is the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, Congressman Mark Green of Tennessee, who is leading the committee and, this week, introduced two articles of impeachment against Alejandro Mayorkas. One, a betrayal of public trust, and the other really boils down to the allegation that he's broken the law by refusing to enforce immigration statutes that would prevent migrants from entering the United States.

Obviously, right now, there have been record numbers of migrants that have been crossing the border, [00:24:00] but the issue at play here is essentially that what Green is charging Mayorkas for does not actually arise to high crimes and misdemeanors. Ultimately, the migrant crisis won't be addressed by impeachment at all. Rather, the proceedings and negotiations taking place in the upper chamber with regards to the border deal that's being negotiated on a bipartisan basis by lawmakers is what could address that crisis. We're seeing a split screen in Congress right now.

BRIGID BERGIN - HOST, THE BRIAN LEHRER SHOW: Absolutely. Jacqueline, you started to get into this. We know that the issues at the US-Mexico border are the backdrop for this hearing with a record number of migrants entering the country. We even heard President Biden say this recently that if a bipartisan immigration deal was passed, he would do this.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: It'll also give me, as president, the emergency authority to shut down the border until it could get back under control. If that bill were the law today, I'd shut down the border right now and fix it quickly.[00:25:00] 

BRIGID BERGIN - HOST, THE BRIAN LEHRER SHOW: Why do we hear this new hard line from President Biden and how does it connect to the hearing that happened this week?

JACQUELINE ALEMANY : Yes, I think that there's a two-fold reason. There's obviously a political calculus here. This is something that Biden has not gotten very good reviews on as border crossings has caused a major strain to federal, state, and local governments and resources. It has become a very overheated conversation on the right and that has further been inflamed by the, essentially, de facto nominee of the Republican Party for the 2024 election, former President Trump, and House Republicans who have mimicked his language.

You've seen the Biden administration finally try to address this head-on and get ahead of some of the messaging battles that they've previously been losing. Secondly, this deal actually does address a lot of the [00:26:00] policy issues that have been under discussion, policy issues that actually Republican lawmakers have been saying and clamoring for Congress to address for years now. 

One of my colleagues has a really good layout of all of the things that Republican lawmakers have said over the past few years about what needs to happen on the border. Just a few years ago, Trump had wanted Congress to work on changing asylum laws and basically taking legislative action. Now, you've seen in this election cycle as we get closer to November, people like House Speaker Mike Johnson, people like Senator Ted Cruz, who obviously represents a border state, claim now that Congress isn't needed to address the crisis at the border and that, actually, the President has enough powers to do this himself. Really, [00:27:00] a 180 on what they were previously arguing about.

How this all relates to the hearing this week is that as the House has been trying to impeach Mayorkas and blame him for what a lot of people, constitutional experts, even Republican constitutional scholars have argued amounts to a policy difference, which they have claimed is an impeachable offense, the upper chamber has been working on addressing these policy differences.

It's been hard to reconcile, as you can imagine, in one chamber, Alejandro Mayorkas, being criticized as the cause of the surge at the border. While in the other chamber, he's been someone who's been integral to the negotiations taking place between lawmakers for months now. Over the Christmas break during recess, [00:28:00] he was spotted back and forth on the Hill sitting in the room and trying to get this deal past the stalemate and finalized. 

BRIGID BERGIN - HOST, THE BRIAN LEHRER SHOW: Certainly, the membership of the Homeland Security Committee includes Congress member Marjorie Taylor Greene. She was also referenced in Congressman Thompson's opening remarks as someone who has made this an issue since the start of this Congress and has also potentially fundraised off this issue and may also be angling for a political future in 2024. What is your reaction to that piece of this equation?

JACQUELINE ALEMANY : Well, at the end of the day, it's not just Marjorie Taylor Greene in the House GOP conference that wants to impeach Mayorkas. Overall, the House is dramatically more conservative than the Senate. There is this growing unanimous consent amongst Republican members that impeaching Mayorkas is the [00:29:00] most politically expedient thing to do for them, especially with such a slim majority where it's really hard to push things through legislatively.

This is a welcome distraction, something that even vulnerable members are in agreement about, especially as base voters have been clamoring for accountability. Oversight is obviously a big responsibility for a majority in any Congress and this would be the first promise that I think lawmakers have made to constituents about impeachments that have been going on for several years now that would actually be executed.

It's highly unlikely that the Senate would ultimately vote to impeach Mayorkas. You've heard Republican senators say that they're not in favor of it, that they feel like the House needs to get a grip and actually get something done legislatively. There is some agreement that this is good politics, especially as you have people like Donald [00:30:00] Trump explicitly saying that, at the end of the day, the House should not give President Biden a win on the border and not to pass this bill.

BRIGID BERGIN - HOST, THE BRIAN LEHRER SHOW: Jacqueline, just to underscore this, and I know you've said it already, but what are the specific crimes Republicans are accusing Mayorkas of? What makes up these two articles of impeachment?

JACQUELINE ALEMANY : Yes, that's a really good question, and it's definitely under debate right now. They have charged that Mayorkas was lying under oath about the state of the border. This is under the charge of the betrayal of the public trust. This surrounds this term that he used when he testified before Congress in 2022 when he said that the Department of Homeland Security had "operational control."

The definition of this according to Mayorkas, as employed by the Border Patrol, is the ability to detect, respond, and intercede border penetrations in areas deemed as high [00:31:00] priority. There was a 2006 law that was called the Secure Fence Act, and that defines the term a bit differently as "the absence of any unlawful crossings of migrants or drugs", so they've tried to nail Mayorkas on that. They've also said that he has been obstructing their investigation. They listed 31 different requests that have been partially or completely unsatisfied by Homeland Security, but Mayorkas, as the department has noted, has actually been one of the most cooperative cabinet members appearing before Congress dozens of times. 

The primary charge though is that he's broken the law by refusing to enforce immigration statutes. This means that he's failed to uphold certain aspects of immigration law, which they believe is a constitutional crime. Policy experts and, again, constitutional scholars and past secretaries of Homeland Security, and there have been [00:32:00] some former legal advisors too, former President Trump, who noted that they do not agree with this assessment of it rising to high crimes and misdemeanors as laid out by the Constitution. At the end of the day, the presidential administration does have wide latitude in how to control the border and that they do not feel like Mayorkas has exceeded those authorities that have been given to the executive branch.

Fox News fearmongering backfires on live TV - All In With Chris Hayes - Air Date 2-9-24 

CHRIS HAYES - HOST, ALL IN: You cannot overstate how much vile demagoguery about migrants constantly appears on Fox News, day in, day out. 

FOX NEWS ARCHIVE CLIPS: This is a government jobs program that lets in more migrants. Not to mention how much we're paying for the migrants kids to go to school. But now the migrants are shutting down the hospitals in Denver more than COVID ever did. We shouldn't be allowing even one migrant into the country. Isn't this really an attempt, ultimately, to destroy the country internally? That's exactly what it is. 

CHRIS HAYES - HOST, ALL IN: It's poisonous stuff, and Fox News executives don't seem to [00:33:00] care if what they're saying is true, as quite famously demonstrated when they paid out a nine figure settlement to Dominion Voting Machines. And when they defended a now-former primetime host from a slander lawsuit by just telling the court his Fox News show did not really do news, so he couldn't be guilty of defamation. 

Which brings us to what happened the other night. Fox News host Sean Hannity tried to get some synergy with another brand you might remember from the 80s: the Guardian Angels and their vigilante founder, Curtis Sliwa. Do you remember him? His gang was going to make the streets safe for regular people by rooting out criminals, as he told the Today Show back in 1982. 

CURTIS SLIWA: Because the criminal is very violent, and operates in what we call the wolf packs. You see them by the way they dress, their style, almost like modern day pirates, and that's what keeps you in fear.

Once they've smelled fear from you, once they've seen you change your path of entry, or to cross the street from where they're hanging out, they descend upon you like wolves.

CHRIS HAYES - HOST, ALL IN: [00:34:00] Oh my god, like a time warp to my childhood in the Bronx. 

Fast forward to Tuesday night when Hannity interviewed Curtis Sliwa, live in Times Square, about 40 years older, back in his costume, like it's the Kiss reunion tour, talking about the hellscape that is New York under the migrant invasion. And they had a remarkable Fox TV moment. 

SEAN HANNITY: If you divide 53 million by 500, that's a $106,000 debit card. Not a bad deal. I don't think they're giving them to vets that are homeless in New York City, not that I've heard, Curtis. 

CURTIS SLIWA: Well, in fact, our guys have just taken down one of the migrant guys right here on the corner of 42nd and 7th while all this is taking place.

SEAN HANNITY: Can you pan the camera? 

CURTIS SLIWA: They've taken over. They've taken over. Light the camera over there if at all possible. He is out of control. Out of control. They had been shoplifting first. The Guardian Angels spotted them, stopped them. He [00:35:00] resisted. And let's just say we gave him a little pain compliance. His mother back in Venezuela felt the vibrations. He's sucking concrete. 

CHRIS HAYES - HOST, ALL IN: What a despicable, despicable exhibition. So, Sliwa says the man they were assaulting was a migrant shoplifter, the one that was "sucking concrete." A perfect story that Donald Trump and Fox News are telling their audience about the illegals and the rampant crime -- except, guess what? After the cameras turned off, a little more reporting and digging revealed that the man Sliwa's gang wrestled down was not a migrant, but -- drumroll -- a New Yorker from the Bronx. And while Sliwa claimed he was a shoplifter, there was no evidence of that, and he was not charged with shoplifting by the police. He was issued a disorderly conduct summons, apparently for being disruptive during Curtis's live shot. In other words, a New Yorker in the middle of Times Square was interrupting a live shot of Curtis Sliwa and his goons assaulted him. 

Yesterday, Fox [00:36:00] once again had to do some cleanup to avoid another lawsuit.

SEAN HANNITY: Now, Curtis said that the man was a migrant and that he was shoplifting. Fox News has since spoken to the NYPD. Apparently the statements made by Curtis that the man is a migrant is not true. Curtis said, in part, quote, "I shouldn't have been listening to the crowd. That was my mistake. I should not have had that knee jerk reaction."

Again, on this show, we always want to set the record straight. 

CHRIS HAYES - HOST, ALL IN: Oh, they sure do. Some good advice there, life advice generally for folks. I shouldn't have been listening to the crowd and shouldn't have had the knee jerk reaction. 

You know, in America, there is a real issue we have right now with migration flows at the southern border, both in terms of what danger and uncertainty it presents for the people that are showing up there, and also the sort of strain it puts on various social systems here in New York and Denver and Chicago and a whole bunch of other places. It is a real thing. And there's lots of folks working very hard [00:37:00] to deal with it.

And then there's the disgusting garbage that is being pumped out by Fox and other parts of the Rupert Murdoch empire, like the New York Post. Just the vilest, most dehumanizing, disgusting filth you can imagine. 

Do you remember the nationwide shoplifting panic that turned out to be completely belied by the statistics? Or the splashy stories of a migrant caravan apocalypse that never came? 

Please, remember those every time you hear a viral story -- in a city that, by the way, where crime has dropped significantly last year during the migrant surge -- when you hear one of those viral stories, I am urging everyone, in the words of Curtis Sliwa, don't have a knee jerk reaction. Wait for a bit for the truth to emerge.

The Case for Open Borders Part 1 - Deconstructed - Air Date 2-2-24

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: You say, “open borders doesn’t mean a rush to migrate.” Because the running assumption among a lot of Americans is that everybody wants to be in America, everyone around the world, all [00:38:00] 9 billion people. And then, if you just gave everyone a green card and a plane ticket, that, tomorrow, you’d have all 9 billion people on the planet here within the borders of the United States, and we’d have social collapse immediately.

You’ve actually got some interesting research on this. To me, that never scanned, because most people like the place that they grew up, it’s where they’re comfortable, it’s where their family is, it’s where their friends are, it’s what they know. But you’ve dug in a little deeper on that.

So, what did you find on this question, of mass migration being sparked by an open border policy?

JOHN WASHINGTON: Well, I want to reframe two things here really quickly. One is, when people talk open borders, I don’t think folks mean a green card necessarily right away or a plane ticket. And the reason I’m harping on that for a second is because there have been so many claims about current asylum seekers getting gift cards, getting free plane tickets, and that’s just not the case.

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: Five-thousand dollar is [00:39:00] one of the myths circulating on the right. Just, you get, that you just get a card with $5,000 on it.

JOHN WASHINGTON: Completely false. I’m in Arizona, we have one of our Senate candidates here, Mark Lamb, who claims to have knowledge of this happening, and it’s just not true.

That’s not happening. No one is getting plane tickets, or vouchers for anything, who are crossing the border.

But the other reframe I want to do is something that I think a lot of folks in the United States see as an issue that affects the United States [uniquely] . And the current migration problem — and I agree that it’s a problem — is not a United States problem, it’s not an American problem. It’s a regional problem and it’s a global problem.

If you think about it in [terms of] just, where people are going currently, a lot of people are coming to the United States, a lot of people have always come to the United States. We can get into some numbers on that in a second, I think that’s really important work to do as well.

But look at, for example, the number of Venezuelans and the number of Nicaraguans who have [00:40:00] resettled in neighboring countries, compared to how many have come to the United States. There are, approaching, 3 million Venezuelans in Colombia right now, and over the past 20-some years, the number of Venezuelans who have come to the United States hasn’t even topped 1 million.

Nicaraguans are largely resettling — or maybe temporarily resettling — in neighboring Costa Rica. Some of them are coming up through Central America, Mexico, and trying to get into the United States as well, there’s been a parole program. But people generally stay close to their home countries.

This is the same for Africa as well; there’s a number of African states who have become “receiving countries,” in immigration speak. Gabon, which is a country probably a lot of people never think of and couldn’t necessarily point to on a map, has been an enormous receiving country for a lot of African refugees right now. Same with Uganda, for people from other different countries in Africa. Turkey, as well, for Syrians, [00:41:00] has welcomed far, far more people than some of the neighboring states in Europe that have complained and cried foul for supposedly being overrun.

So, I think, if you consider where people are going, they typically don’t want to go far. And there have been a number of examples of, when the border has been effectively open — you mentioned that in the 19th century — there was a lot of immigration in the 19th century in the United States. Something like 50 million Europeans went from different countries in Europe to the United States over a hundred-year period, ending in the late 19th century.

But there are a number of other examples where… I think Puerto Rico is a telling case. Puerto Ricans can move freely. They’re U.S. citizens, they can move to New York, to Miami, to wherever they want to go. And plenty of them have, but not all of them have. And you can look at even some of the [00:42:00] economic differences between the island and different parts of the United States. You’d think, well, we have higher wages here, we have all these other things that people think would attract migrants, and sometimes does, but it doesn’t empty out, and hasn’t emptied out Puerto Rico.

You can go case by case and see that people want to stay where they are. If they can, they will. And if they can’t, they’ll often go to the next easiest place to get to. Of course, there are exceptions to this, and a lot of those exceptions are due to prior relationships.

But if you look at the history of colonialism, a lot of the states who have gone in and meddled with these so-called “developing nations” are now receiving citizens of those same countries, where the empires have destabilized, have engaged in conquest, have tried to exploit as much as possible. So, there is a connection, and so, some people will go further than their neighboring [00:43:00] states, but it’s not an inevitability.

Migration costs money, it’s expensive, and opening the gates doesn’t necessarily mean people are going to rush, because it costs a lot, both monetarily and emotionally, professionally. They’re going to leave behind everything they knew, and folks don’t tend to do that.

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: All right. So, to push back on that a little bit, you’re seeing record numbers of migrants approaching the U.S. border over the last months and year-plus. So, what does that tell us about how much kind of pressure there is on outward migration, and what we might see if you actually did just fully say, you know what? Come on in.

JOHN WASHINGTON: Well, I think it’s too early to say if this is just another peak, and we’re going to drop down into a valley in terms of numbers of migration, or if this is going to be necessarily a steady upward trend.

If you look at the big picture, [00:44:00] there are right now about 270 million international migrants; that was based on last year’s count by the U.N. That’s about 3.5 percent of the global population. That number, 3.5 percent, has held steady for about a hundred years. If you look at forced migration — so people who aren’t just migrating for economic or family reasons, but are actually forced out of the country — the count topped 110 million last year. And that, too, is about the average of the global population. It’s a little bit hard to count, because the tabulations weren’t done as thoroughly in the mid-last century, when we newly defined what a refugee was.

I’m going to give you another number, and then I want to get into that, what this means about the outward pressures of migration. The United States, too, a little bit less than 15 percent of all people living in the country are [00:45:00] foreign born, and that number is almost identical to what it was 100 years ago.

So, there’s a number of things to think through that might imply that these numbers are going to increase. I mean, climate change is the biggest one of them. Large parts of the world are becoming less habitable because of all the reasons we know and, increasingly, strong storms, droughts, floods, heat, etc. So, we might be in a new era, but I think it’s so far a little bit too early to tell, going back to that 100-year perspective.

And then you can go further than that, too. There’s something that is true here, is that humans are moving, and humans have historically moved. That is how humans have always been, and that has been true before the rise of nation states, that has been true before the rise of empires.

So, I think the question is not how to stop migration, but how do we respond to [00:46:00] migration? 

Greg Abbott and the Battle for the Texas Border - Amicus With Dahlia Lithwick | Law, justice, and the courts - Air Date 1-20-24 

DALIA LITHWICK - HOST, AMICUS: On December 18 of 2023, Texas Governor Greg Abbottt signed into law a measure that makes it a crime under Texas state law for non-citizens to enter or re-enter the United States without authorization.

 It allows Texas state law enforcement authorities to stop, arrest, and jail those suspected of having committed that offense.

 It empowers state judges to issue deportation orders, de facto deportation orders, against folks convicted of violating this new law.

 Can you just walk us through whether this just is a sort of shabby stunt or whether this is a kind of sea change in the way he is attempting to do immigration law in Texas?

ROCHELLE GARZA: Yeah, I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that SB4 threatens to destroy the very foundation of our nation’s immigration system. We are required, as a country, the United States is required to speak with one [00:47:00] voice, one set of laws, and SB4 is challenging that very aggressively. And Governor Abbott is implementing these unconstitutional, hostile takeovers of immigration law in the form of SB4.

 So SB4 creates essentially two new criminal laws, illegal entry and illegal reentry into the State of Texas. These are mirroring what we have on the federal level. But now there is a state scheme around this, and untrained officers across the state are expected to enforce this law, and magistrates and judges across the state are expected to enforce the law as well. And just to kind of situate things, Texas is a very big state. We are also 40% latino.

 So there are many threats this law has not just on immigrant communities, but latino communities, because it stokes anti-immigrant, anti-Latino sentiment. But [00:48:00] there is no limitation on where it would be implemented.

 This can be implemented in West Texas and El Paso. It can be implemented in the panhandle in Amarillo. It can be implemented in south Texas, where I live in Brownsville. So there is no uniform way that we’re going to see this law implemented.

 Nonetheless, Greg Abbott has put this forward. I’m very proud of what we have done as an organization, Texas Civil Rights Project, along with ACLU and ACLU of Texas have sued to challenge SB4. It is set to go into effect in early March. We filed a preliminary injunction very recently on the 12th of January, and so we’re challenging this in court and trying to stop the implementation of this law.

DALIA LITHWICK - HOST, AMICUS: Look, we’ve been fighting about immigrants and immigration policy and about the alleged nexus between crime waves and immigrants, about whether the president or Congress sets immigration policy. I [00:49:00] mean, we’ve been having this fight and also kicking this can down the road every election of recent memory. And it feels as though, and I know you agree with me, that Abbott’s take on this is sort of particularly cruel and particularly opportunistic and showboaty.

 But there is this underlying immigration problem, and I wonder if you can just situate from where you are sitting on the ground why we’re doing this Groundhog Day iteration again of claims, largely false claims about immigration in an election year. What does it signal to you about where our heads are on this question nationally?

ROCHELLE GARZA: I can speak to my experience. I grew up in a border community. I grew up in Brownsville, Texas, my family’s fifth generation Texan. I have a personal experience of what it’s like to live on the border, in border [00:50:00] communities and seeing how it plays out on the state level and then seeing how it plays out on the national level and the border immigration.

 Immigrants are always being used as a wedge issue, as a talking point, something for divisive politics. And Greg Abbott is very intentionally using this during an election year to position himself. I don’t know for what exactly. He may be positioning himself for a future run. He may be positioning himself to be the pick for vice president.

Regardless, this is just about politics for Greg Abbott. It is not about really addressing the needs of Texans. Greg Abbott has put in close to $10 billion in border enforcement in the State of Texas through Operation Lone Star, now through SB4, through a bunch of different legal means.

 And these power grabs that he’s engaging in instead of investing in the communities in the state, instead of investing in Medicaid expansion or making sure [00:51:00] that colonias and communities across the borderlands have running water.

DALIA LITHWICK - HOST, AMICUS: So, you mentioned in response to, I think, my first question, Rochelle, that you all are involved in a lawsuit. There’s a whole bunch of different lawsuits challenging different parts of Lone Star, challenging SB4. And I wonder if you can just kind of walk us through what the challenge is, because I think if you and I are agreeing that this feels like almost a textbook constitutional crisis, right? This feels like a standoff between state and federal authority. Can you walk us through why it is that this is unbelievably consequential, even though it’s not getting the attention it deserves and what the sort of predicate is for the legal challenge?

ROCHELLE GARZA: Yeah, absolutely. I think what we’re seeing here is an unprecedented exercise of state control [00:52:00] over what is clearly within the federal purview, within federal control, which is immigration law. There are essentially three cases here.

 There’s SB4, which we are part of the challenge against with the criminalization of immigrants through these state schemes of illegal entry and re entry.

 There’s also a case around the concertina wire that the State of Texas and our military force put along the border.

 And there is also litigation around the buoys that were originally placed inside the river, in the middle of the river, with razor wire. And the buoy case is still pending at the Fifth Circuit.

 But what all of these cases come down to is what is within the federal government’s power versus what is in the state government’s power. The Supreme Court was very clear back in 2012 with Arizona, the US, that the federal government has exclusive control over [00:53:00] immigration laws. They are the sole enforcer of federal immigration laws.

 And there are a plethora of reasons for that, because the United States should be the only one to have control over its borders, its national borders, but also its relationship with foreign nations. And so the threat here is if you allow Texas to create its own immigration system, to pick fights with Mexico or any other latin american country, it drags the entire United States into this problem.

 We cannot have 50 different states with 50 different immigration laws or enforcement laws. It undercuts the basic structure of our country, of federalism, of our constitution. And I think it’s incredibly dangerous what we’re seeing happen.

The Case for Open Borders Part 2 - Deconstructed - Air Date 2-2-24

JOHN WASHINGTON: We do have these cross-cultural ties. You’re basically describing open cultural borders right there. People playing Fortnite from Brooklyn to [00:54:00] Gabon, or whatever. Think of everyone else who has open borders as well.

I mean, most people who are citizens of the United States effectively can waltz through the world as if there were completely open borders. And that is true, also, of the wealthy from many other countries in the world. Much of Western Europe could do basically the same. The ultra wealthy in many even so-called developing countries can do much the same.

The U.S. military, what border stops the U.S. military right now? Maybe a few are contested? But there’s, what, 800 bases, nearly, American bases spread throughout the world? 

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: That reminds me of a moment that I’ve really never forgotten. A friend of mine, Christian Parenti, and I were down doing reporting in Bolivia, and we were able to tour a Bolivian military base, and interview military figures, and they were going to talk to us about the war on drugs and all this. And, while we’re waiting, there’s a couple soldiers, they’re kind of just sitting in the waiting room with us, and one of them says to us, [00:55:00] “Why are you guys allowed to walk around our military base, when I’m not even allowed to come into your country?” And Christian said, “It’s called imperialism,” and he kind of nodded along.

But that was a moment that always stuck with me, because it did seem bizarre to me. That, well, what am I doing here? Like, why am I able to just wander around here and be welcomed onto this base?

JOHN WASHINGTON: I think imperialism is a good answer. I have another one, too. I think it’s also just definitionally called apartheid. There’s different laws for different people, and when you zoom out from just within a nation, we are allowed to do things that other people are not. How is that fair?

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: Like, global apartheid.

JOHN WASHINGTON: Global apartheid. I mean, it seems like a silly question, or almost a juvenile framing, but I think fairness is actually key here. Some people are allowed to do and have the freedoms that others do not. That is the way that the global [00:56:00] border system works right now.

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: Right, based on where they’re born or their ethnicity. We understand that as apartheid inside the borders of a country like South Africa, but when we stretch it out to the entire globe, we say that’s just how it is.

JOHN WASHINGTON: Right. So, you asked about the rise of federal immigration law. For the first hundred-plus years of the existence of the United States, there was no immigration law. There was maybe something like implicit understanding of who would be allowed in, based on tradition, based on just common practice, based on the definition of who a citizen could be, which was, you know, white men.

There were some state laws that go back, actually, to before there was a United States, that tried to keep poor people out of their states, or poor people out of their towns and cities. And then we really saw the rise of immigration law in the late 19th century, with anti-Chinese legislation that [00:57:00] barred Chinese people from being allowed into the country. There was some version of these Chinese Exclusion Acts that were on the books well into the 20th century; it lasted a really long time. 

Those Laws were based on previous anti-Irish sentiment, and you can see, there’s sort of this idea, there’s almost this concept of whack-a-mole. The newest incomers are the ones that are going to be scapegoated, the ones who are going to be said to be un-American, impossible to assimilate.

I was doing some research about this situation in New York, the crying foul of Mayor Adams, and this idea that New York is existentially in peril is ridiculous, and ahistorical. And yet, that is the sort of rhetoric that has been used by politicians for a long time.

And so, going back to the 1850s, when a much larger percentage of new migrants were coming into New York City at that time, people were terrified. They were [00:58:00] mostly Germans and Irish, and New Yorkers thought that they couldn’t handle it. But the percentage was like 30 percent of the population of New York arrived to New York City in a single year. Right now, it’s like 1 percent or something like that, the asylum seekers who have come to New York City in the past couple years.

And it is expensive, and it does change things, and there does need to be some, I think, help with resettling. But, that New York can’t absorb 160,000 people and be actually invigorated by them, by those new incomers, I think is just completely ahistorical, and betrays the very essence of New York City, which I think also stands in large part for how we can think about the United States as a whole, or any other country with immigration.

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: Since your book is called The Case For Open Borders, rather than the case against closed borders, you make the point that there has to be a vision, a positive [00:59:00] vision of what benefits this is going to bring to humanity, rather than just a knocking down of the arguments against it.

So, to you, what is the vision that makes the case for open borders?

JOHN WASHINGTON: Yeah. I grapple with that a lot. You know, I’m not a policymaker. As a reporter, what I do is find, basically, malfeasance, or major traumas, and report on them. And I’ve documented for years now the problems that borders cause. And so, it was a stretch for me to start thinking about the benefits of this hypothetical future, of something with open borders, of a world with open borders.

But I think it comes down to looking at some examples that are already in existence. The United States of America is a good one. We transit freely from California to Virginia, from [01:00:00] Florida to Nebraska, wherever, and it’s pretty seamless. People can move wherever they want. There are enormous economic and cultural differences between different places in the United States, and people kind of figure out where they want to settle, where they can settle, and do so. And it doesn’t upend the political system.

You mentioned previously, people also traveling freely within the Schengen zone in the European Union. And that, too, there was a lot of nerves about that, especially as they incorporated some more Eastern European states. But those Western states haven’t been overrun, despite the claims of the Brexiteers, and now the rise of the far right in the Netherlands, and France, and elsewhere. And people go back and forth with relative ease, and they settle where they want to settle.

And what incentivizes people to move are open [01:01:00] jobs, that’s one of the major incentives. And when there are open jobs, it’s good that they’re filled. There are a lot of open jobs in the United States right now, and they need filling. And so, if there are not open jobs, I think they won’t be filled, and people won’t move as much.

So, I think that this also goes back to your question of, there won’t be a run, or will there be a run on the United States border if suddenly it was open? It doesn’t seem to be, because I think people are driven by the things we’re all driven by: opportunities. And, if they’re not there, they won’t go.

So, there’s a number of other free migration zones in the world. There’s a Nordic Passport area, there’s a Trans-Tasmanian area, there’s the Central America-4 region, and Mercosur in South America. There are so many that we don’t think of — also, there’s a couple in Africa — where people can cross borders easily. And expanding it, I think, seems to be a very doable thing, and [01:02:00] that’s based on the evidence that we’ve seen with, as I was mentioning, the now past steady expansion of the E.U., or the incorporation of new states in the United States.

There’s a good quote that I think about a lot [by] Nicolas de Genova, who’s a researcher, and he says, “Without borders, there is no migration, there’s only human mobility.” And I think he’s absolutely right, but what’s interesting is that there’s human mobility no matter what. That people will move, as I’ve said before, and the way that we see it and term it, and the way that we designate it, whether it’s migration or just movement, I think is actually less important than people really realize.

Final comments on the incentives for our politicians to fail at governing

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today, starting with The Readout, looking at the politics that derailed the proposed immigration bill. The Majority Report looked at the Democrats move to the right on immigration. The Damage Report highlighted the Republican who's actually mad at his own party. Today Explained explained the Texas [01:03:00] border stunt. The Brian Lehrer Show discussed the GOP attempt to impeach the Secretary of Homeland Security which, just before publishing this episode, they succeeded in doing. All In With Chris Hayes highlighted the danger of Fox News is hateful framing on immigration. And Deconstructed made the case for open borders. 

That's what everybody heard, but numbers also heard bonus clips from Amicas diving deeper on the legal ramifications of Texas border stunt, and Deconstructed continued the discussion about the nature of humans to move and the inequality of the rich already having the privilege of free movement around the world. 

To hear that and have all of our bonus contents delivered seamlessly to the new members only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/support, or shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship membership, because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information. 

Now to wrap up, I want to tie together a couple of stories that really [01:04:00] highlight the structural dysfunction of our democracy right now. First, I'll start with the unsurprising story. I'll take it as granted that you already heard about the migrant busing story where asylum seekers were put on buses and planes from Texas to be driven to cities, run by Democrats as a craven political move that used real life human beings as political pawns to score points. It was inhumane, gross, and probably illegal human trafficking because lies were told to some people to get them on those buses. 

But the seed of truth underneath that policy was that people coming across the border who are processed through our underfunded and understaffed system who then needs somewhere to go to wait for their court dates, need to be moved away from border towns because it's completely unreasonable to expect the border region to absorb all of those people alone. So way down underneath all the political games [01:05:00] and treating humans like placings, that was the primary argument. The logistical burden of processing asylum seekers should be spread across the country. And I completely agree. And so do immigration advocates working at NGOs dedicated to helping migrants once they've entered the country. The woman who runs the Val Verde Humanitarian Border Coalition was working with the State of Texas on the logistics of coordinating services for the migrants at their destination cities. 

The state would organize the bus rides, give that information to Tiffany Burrow of the Val Verde Humanitarian Border Coalition, who would in turn coordinate with NGOs in the destination cities so that there could be people waiting to receive the buses and give guidance to the migrants when they arrived. 

The people working at these NGOs believe in the need for the busing program. They're not just there to mitigate [01:06:00] harm. They see it as necessary to relieve pressure from border communities. However, the story I'm actually highlighting is that after Texas and these NGOs had been working in partnership for a time, Texas suddenly decided to stop providing the bus route information that allowed the advocates to organize logistical support. No details or reasons were given other than that they just sort of felt like they didn't need to. 

Of course, the result was to maximize chaos at the destination cities, which was very likely the point. The whole policy, though necessary, has always been conducted in a way to maximize the spectacle of it, not to be an example of good governance or policy, or even to help people. Democratic officials have criticized the busing policy, but less about the existence of the policy and more for Texas governor Abbott's refusal to coordinate with [01:07:00] other governors and mayors in the process. And we know why there is a political motivation that rewards more political clout to those who make the other party look bad than to those who govern well. Abbott is definitely seen more favorably in the eyes of Texas Republicans because of his cartoonishly cruel busing policy intended to make Democrats look bad than he would if he devised a well-organized, well coordinated policy that accomplished the goals of spreading the logistical burden of incoming migrants, but without all the drama. 

I will say one thing for Abbott stunt though: he also made clear that it was intended to bring attention to the lack of federal support for the logistics of dealing with the influx of migrants. And it did succeed at that. In fact, I was surprised to learn that there wasn't already a system in place to transport migrants around the country because, of course, we need something like [01:08:00] that. But the perverse incentives to not enact reasonable effective policy, don't just flow in one direction. 

As reported by CBS, federal officials considered setting up just such a federally coordinated effort that would transport migrants from the border around the country, so they could be processed in their destination cities, easing the strain at the border. The system would work with organizations in those cities to ensure that migrants could be accommodated and worked with the cities directly, unlike Texas's bussing effort of course. 

Now reading from the CBS article: "But the proposal was blocked by the White House due to concerns about the political optics of the federal government transporting migrants across the US and objections from some of the cities asked to take part in the program, according to three current and former US officials. The White House officials said the plan is no longer under consideration. [01:09:00] A former Biden administration immigration official said 'the interior processing plan would have distributed migrants and resources more proportionally across the US in an orderly way. Interior processing capacity would have provided access to additional resources and taken pressure off many cities'. The White House rejected those plans in 2021 and 2022 due to politics and the requirement that the White House would need to own the coordination, the former official said." 

In short, the fear that it would look bad to attempt to create a well-organized thoughtful policy to manage the influx of border crossings stopped the effort entirely. And I suspect that they feared it would look bad regardless of whether it went well or poorly. If it went well, the GOP would frame it as Biden actively helping migrants who are probably mostly [01:10:00] criminals and terrorists so that they could vote for Democrats. And then if it went badly, then it would just be seen as more evidence that the government doesn't work. So the idea was scrapped. On the bigger picture. We obviously need to get back to a politics where politicians are not dis-incentivized from attempting to create good policy. That's sort of the core of democratic governance. Without it we are totally screwed. 

On the smaller picture, looking at immigration specifically, here's my proposal. We obviously need a coordinated effort to manage immigration because it is going to happen whether we are organized or not. So we'd better get organized and the very core of that effort needs to be fairness. No ad hoc system like Texas is running could ever be fair or just so the federal government needs to step in. The CBS article mentioned that some cities might complain about being asked to help support the effort and to [01:11:00] them, I would invoke the promise of fairness. No city should be asked to do more than their fair share. And therefore every city needs to do what they can to help spread the effort. 

Also, I am sick to death of the right claiming a monopoly on patriotism. And to any who criticize an effort to create a well-organized immigration system, I say e pluribus unum, 'from many, one'. It was our unofficial motto from the very beginning until the godless communists scared us into adopting 'In God We Trust' as our official motto back in the fifties. But e pluribus unum is still on our money and it still goes deeper to the heart of what the US is supposed to be about than any other option. 

And the best thing about it is how nicely it's scales. Originally it just referred to the coming together of the original 13 colonies. But it seamlessly scaled to include every additional state that was added. It could just as easily have been [01:12:00] referring to the origin countries of everyone who's ever migrated to this land. And we'll continue to encompass everyone who comes from abroad and become an American citizen. 

But most importantly, for our current politics, it should be a reminder of the necessity for all parts of the country to work together when facing issues that affect us all. There's a recent headline in the LA Times. I quote, "Half of Republicans say California isn't really American". Which isn't surprising considering the rhetoric coming from Trump and his MAGA supporters and other Republicans who may or may not be following reluctantly, but are following all the same. Their whole game plan is to do two Democrats writ large, what they have done to every group they've decided to target based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity throughout the ages. They are attempting to frame anyone who doesn't agree with them as [01:13:00] fundamentally un-American and, for those willing to use the more extreme rhetoric which Trump has recently embraced, not fully human. And fighting back against that with 'no, you're the one being un-American' is never going to work. The left needs to define a positive vision of functional government and inclusive democracy. We've never been a homogenous country full of people who get along well with each other and we're not about to start now, but we have gotten to an extremely bad divide, even in a history full of pretty bad divides. And I think the path back to sanity might start with a full-throated embrace of one of our oldest shared beliefs. 

We may not agree on much other than that we have grudgingly agreed to co-exist because we recognize we are stronger and better off working together than going it alone. E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. 

And besides immigrants are good for the [01:14:00] economy and tax base. So even if you don't care about treating them like humans, you can think of immigrants as a source of a future tax base to help pay down the national debt or whatever pet economic concern you have. 

That is going to be it for today as always keep the comments coming in. I would love to hear your thoughts or questions about this or anything else you can leave a voicemail or send us a text at 202-999-3991, or simply email me to [email protected]. 

Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to our Transcriptionist Trio, Ken, Brian, and Ben for their volunteer work helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and the bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who already support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships. You can join them by signing up today at bestoftheleft.com/support, through our Patrion page, [01:15:00] or from right inside the Apple podcast app. Membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good and often funny bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content, no ads, and chapter markers in all of our regular episodes, all through your regular podcast player. You'll find that link in the show notes, along with a link to join our Discord community, where you can also continue the discussion. 

So coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington DC, my name is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show, from bestoftheleft.com.

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  • Jay Tomlinson
    published this page in Transcripts 2024-02-14 10:40:53 -0500
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