Guilty until proven innocent by @BloggersRUs

Guilty until proven innocent

by Tom Sullivan

Freedom Caucus leader, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) got a grilling last night on "All In" with Chris Hayes. In the wake of a report that immigration officers snatched a months-old child from the arms of her breastfeeding mother, Meadows and Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) came on the show to talk about immigrant family separation at the southern border and immigration legislation making its way through the House. Hayes was not accepting the standard talking points without pushback.

Families need to be unified, Meadows said before alleging a 307 percent increase in "fraud" and human trafficking. "Are they families, are they not?" Meadows said. "We've got to get to the bottom of it to make sure families stay together."

Hayes wasn't having it. If non-family families are the concern, a DNA test can resolve that.

But there's a legal way and an illegal way to get here, Meadows replied.

"But wait a second," Hayes interjected. "Asylum is legal."

Meadows conceded the point.

Whether or not immigrants arrive legally or illegally, they shouldn't be separated from their kids, Garamendi argued as Meadows nodded.

But Meadows tried to spin the argument to "legitimate asylum," "real asylum," and argue that some, not the vast majority, "game the system." Again, Hayes pounced.

"What's happening right now, as far as I can understand," Hayes began, "... the prosecution is happening before an asylum review. So my point is ... these people are coming, they are being prosecuted as criminals for entry, their children are being taken away before an asylum review."

"I don't know that I would agree," Meadows said, before glancing at the floor.

Seeking asylum, Garamendi confirmed, is an "international, legal way." They may be cheating, "but that can be adjudicated later."

Finally, Hayes asked Meadows whether separating families is a policy used as a deterrent to people seeking asylum (as White House chief of staff John Kelly has plainly stated). Meadows claimed it is not.

Arguing a policy is not what it plainly is is the Republican tactic in passing legislation requiring photo identity cards for voting. Claiming voter ID bills are drafted to address massive in-person voter fraud investigators cannot find mirrors the rhetoric Meadows used last night. The Trump administration is prosecuting asylum seekers as criminals before gathering evidence that they are. Erect barriers to legal voting because someone might be cheating. (We cannot prove how many or how few.) Punish all families seeking asylum, too, because someone might be faking it. In the tradition of “Kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out,” this is the authoritarian way.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a footnote to a June 11 US Citizenship and Immigration Services ruling undercut the lawful claims of tens of thousands seeking shelter in the United States. Asylum requests on the basis of domestic or gang violence "generally" will not meet the "credible fear" standard under law for seeking a hearing before a judge. A spokesman told reporters the ruling will be implemented as soon as possible:

"USCIS is carefully reviewing proposed changes to asylum and credible fear processing whereby every legal means is being considered to protect the integrity of our immigration system from fraudulent claims," he added.

The Trump administration has pointed to the numbers of ultimately unsuccessful claims as evidence of bad faith in the asylum system, and Sessions repeatedly has discussed clearing the way for "legitimate" claims to succeed, though he has not explained how a claim could be known as illegitimate before it is heard.

The credible fear threshold is set to consider that many of the immigrants may speak little English, have little to no legal understanding or education, may fear governmental authorities based on their home countries and may be traumatized from their journey. Roughly 80% of asylum seekers pass that screening, though a smaller share of them eventually achieve asylum.

Changes made to immigration policy post-9/11 have rendered them guilty until proven innocent. This from Quora on September 11, 2015:
While intended to increase coordination and efficiency between agencies, the absorption of all immigration policy execution and enforcement within a single body like the DHS is troubling for a number of reasons. Perhaps most importantly, it fundamentally alters the core American philosophy toward immigration, moving it away from one that is primarily welcoming to one that is largely deflective.


It’s not hard to see how this re-situating of immigration policymaking has reflected a cultural shift in broader American society. Since 9/11, the visibility of anti-immigrant sentiments has exploded to the extent that it is now a chief campaign platform for Republican presidential hopefuls. This is a major departure from conservative standard-bearers of pre-9/11 America; president Ronald Reagan was identifiably pro-immigration and pro-amnesty, after all.

Guilty until proven innocent is not the American way. Nonetheless, this has been the policy towards immigrants since long before the Trump administration. Yet when we talk about reforming our capricious and cruel immigration policies, no one is talking about reforming that.

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