Immigrants makes us better; Trump makes us worse

One area where Trump’s malevolence is not quite so leavened by incompetence is immigration policy, where the administration has been pretty damn effective at making it ever harder for people to come to this country.  And increasingly so in Orwellian and Kafkaesque ways that beggar the imagination.  Catherine Rampell is on the case, even though the issue has largely been ignored.  Two good recent columns.  First, an absolutely preposterous catch 22:

Starting next week, green card applicants can be denied green cards partly on the basis that they are applying for green cards.

Yes, you read that correctly.

On Monday, the Trump administration begins enforcing a new rule supposedly designed to make sure any immigrants let in are self-sufficient and not a drain on government resources. That might sound reasonable enough. The rule is based on a series of flawed premises, though, and even more flawed processes.

For instance, immigrants already pay more in taxes than they receive in federal benefits. In fact, they use fewer benefits than their native-born counterparts.

Even those who arrive with relatively low incomes — people who might be suspected of one day becoming a burden on Uncle Sam — tend to have a steep earnings’ trajectory as they gain skills, greater English-language proficiency and professional networks. Census data and reams of academic research show that poor immigrants generally do what politicians advise them to: work hard, pull themselves up by their bootstraps and become productive members of society.

Yet the Trump administration is barreling ahead, keen to catch those imagined hordes of lazy, benefit-guzzling foreigners.

Thanks to what it calls the “public charge” rule, immigration officials are permitted to deny green cards (among other visas) if they suspect that the applicant might use government benefits someday — “at any time in the future.” Exactly what this means, or how one might make such a prediction, is frustratingly vague.

The Trump administration admits as much: As it acknowledges in its rule, divining whether a person might, say, apply for food stamps or Medicaid in 30 years is “inherently subjective in nature.”

Immigration officials have wide discretion when making these “inherently subjective” forecasts. The rule, however, includes factors that officials are supposed to consider when assessing the “totality of the circumstances presented in an applicant’s case”: current earnings, credit score, age, education and so on.

This month, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services published additional “guidance” on implementation in its internal policy manual. It elaborated on a particular red flag.

 Among the “negative factors” it says employees should consider when assessing whether an immigrant could someday become a public charge: whether the immigrant is applying for a green card. You know, the very reason the official is evaluating the immigrant. [emphases mine]

Nice.  Also, that rule has gone into effect this week.  And here’s some utter insanity worthy of the movie Brazil:

After Yolanda was raped, she ran.

She ran from the basement where her attacker had trapped her for three hours. She ran until she found her way to a police station, a place that people such as Yolanda usually avoid at all costs.

Yolanda, a Guatemalan in her 40s, is undocumented. She’s been living in the shadows for more than a decade. But Congress created a program intended to encourage immigrants like her to come forward about heinous crimes like this one: the U-visa, for crime victims who assist law enforcement.

Even so, for several months after her assault, she still agonized about whether to apply, which would requiring turning over information not just to local police but to the Trump administration. But lawyers said she had a slam-dunk case.

Then, unexpectedly, the feds rejected her application. Why? Because … her youngest son doesn’t have a middle name.

If that sounds arbitrary and irrelevant, that’s probably by design. Over the past few months, the Trump administration has quietly been rolling out a Kafkaesque new processing policy for select categories of visas: If any fields on a form are left blank, it will automatically be rejected. Even if it makes no sense for the applicant to fill out that field.

For example, if “Apt. Number” is left blank because the immigrant lives in a house: rejected. Or if the field for a middle name is left blank because no middle name exists: rejected, too.

Seems like a reasonable time to mention that people who call themselves Christians (not sure Jesus would approve) are Trump’s biggest supporters.  Oh, if there was only 1/100 concern for the already born.

And the editorial board gets it right with this headline, “Trump’s immigration policies are straight out of dystopian fiction.”

This American Life has been doing good work on immigration lately, too.  Here’s a fun one.  Border Patrol agent and Navy veteran spends his whole life thinking he is was born in America and serves his country with distinction.  But, hey, in Trump’s America, out you go.  Atlantic story on it, too.

And, a couple weeks ago they replayed this happy story about the amazing story of a Somali refugee, Abdi, who surmounted huge odds to finally make it to America and succeed.  America needs more people like this!  Not fewer!  But fewer is exactly what we’re getting with Trump.  One thing I know for sure– Abdi is worth 1000 Stephen Miller.
With so much everything and so much awfullness, it’s easy to overlook the everyday banal evil of the Trump administration.  But here it is on glaring display.


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