White House Chief of Staff John Kelly met Tuesday with a group of two Democratic and five GOP Senators who are pushing for a large, unpopular and pro-business amnesty in early January, according to news reports.
Politico.com reported the meeting, which also included two pro-American GOP Senators:
At a Tuesday afternoon meeting with nearly a dozen senators deeply involved in immigration policy, White House chief of staff John Kelly pledged that the administration will soon present a list of border security and other policy changes it wants as part of a broader deal on so-called Dreamers, according to people who attended the meeting. The plan could come in a matter of days, senators said …
“We couldn’t finish this product, this bill, until we knew where the administration was,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has been negotiating a DACA compromise for weeks, said in an interview after the meeting with Kelly. “And that’s why this meeting was so important.”
The Politico article was not able to say that Kelly made any offer to the pro-amnesty Senators — despite the author’s pro-immigration stance.
President Donald Trump laid down his popular immigration promises during the 2016 election and issued another set of principles in October. Those promises include no amnesty for years, while the October principles demanded that any congressional deal stop the hugely expensive practice of chain-migration and also end visa lottery. Trump’s officials and deputies — including Kelly — are also emphasizing those goals in their public and private statements.
If chain-migration is ended, immigration would fall by roughly 50 percent. That change would help push up wages for Americans and help get nine million sidelined Americans into jobs. The change would also slow the nation’s politically chaotic slide into diversity and cultural conflict, and force Democrats to shift their electoral emphasis from immigrants’ concerns back towards Americans’ priorities.
But Trump has also said he wants to get an amnesty for at least some of the younger illegals, despite his campaign-trail opposition to a wage-lowering amnesty.
Democrats hope to persuade Trump to back an amnesty and so betray his supporters before the 2018 elections.
The Democratic Senators at the meeting included the Democrats’ chief amnesty advocate, Sen. Dick Durbin, and also Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet.
Five pro-amnesty GOP Senators who are working with Durbin and Bennet also attended. They are Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford, North Carolina’s Sen. Thom Tillis, South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham and Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner.
The meeting reunited four members of the 2013 “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill — Durbin, Bennett, Graham, and Flake. The amnesty plan proved disastrous for Democrats because it helped the GOP gain nine seats in 2014, and put Donald Trump on a path to the presidency.
The Kelly meeting also included Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who has also worked with Sen. Chuck Grassley’s SECURE Act, which would close the visa lottery program and the chain migration. The reports do not say that Grassley attended the meeting.
Grassley’s SECURE Act includes also includes a small-scale amnesty, dubbed the BRIDGE Act, which would provide a one-time set of three-year work-permits to roughly 690,000 illegals. However, outside experts assume that Grassley’s inclusion of the BRIDGE Act in his SECURE Act is just a place-holder for a larger amnesty.
One likely alternative is the SUCCEED amnesty being pushed by two GOP Senators, outsourcing advocate Tillis and pro-illegal immigrant Lankford.
The Tillis and Lankford SUCCEED Act amnesty would help employers and retailers by providing work-permits and welfare benefits to 2 million illegals, while also helping the GOP with a 1o-year delay on chain migration and a 15-year delay on voting. The Tillis/Lankford Act, however, does not reduce the economic impact on ordinary Americans who would have to compete for jobs against the low-wage amnesty beneficiaries and also pay for their welfare.
Nine million working-age men have been pushed out of the labor market as wages fell — and corporate profits rose — amid mass-immigration.
Yet Lankford has spoken up in favor of illegal immigrants’ competition for jobs. “That continual competition … continues to help us,” he said, referring to business, not to voters.
In a talk with reporters at the end of the meeting, Cornyn did not comment on the President’s goal of ending chain migration and the visa lottery, according to the Politico account. Instead, he played up token improvements on border security to slow the inflow of illegal immigrants, which may have reached 400,000 in 2016. That is equal to only one-third of the 1.2 million legal immigrants who were given green cards by the federal government in 2016.
According to Politico:
“I think what we’re trying to do is to get some clarity from the administration on what they require by way of border security and other enforcement measures,” Cornyn said as he left the meeting. “We got a promise to provide it to us and hopefully we’ll get that in short order. Maybe even this week.”
A report by the TheHill.com also quoted Cornyn on border security, not on the more important issue of the annual inflow of chain-migrants:
“We’re having meetings, ongoing meetings … Several of us are going to be meeting with General Kelly and Customs and Border Protection tonight to talk about what the president will be looking for when he signs a bill,” he said.
The focus on token border-security measures was noted by Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
No mention of chain migration changes here. There is no package of border measures (or even interior enforcement) that would be sufficient offset for a DACA amnesty (let alone the much, much larger Dream Act). https://t.co/bOFSLZn1Lg
— Mark Krikorian (@MarkSKrikorian) December 20, 2017
The meeting with Durbin and Kelly was also attended by the two most pro-American Senators, Arkansas’ s Tom Cotton and Georgia’s Sen David Perdue.
Their RAISE Act is backed by Trump and would end chain-migration and the visa-lottery, and help raise Americans’ salaries and productivity.
President Donald Trump, flanked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R- Ark., left, and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017, during the unveiling of legislation that would place new limits on legal immigration.
In recent weeks, Trump and GOP leaders have faced down a Democratic threat to shut down the federal government unless the GOP agrees to the DREAM Act amnesty, which would put 3.25 million people on track for green cards and citizenship.
The Democrats’ act would cost at least $27 billion in taxpayer funds by 2027 — and would allow the new migrants to get green cards for millions of their chain-migration relatives, including the illegal-immigrant parents who brought the so-called ‘dreamers’ into the United States.
Senate Majority leader has rejected the Democrats’ DREAM Act, and has backed the Grassley SECURE Act. But he has hedged his bets on what kind of deal he wants and when.
McConnell plays a vital role because he decides what bills can be placed on the Senate calendar. He has already put Grassley’s SECURE Act on the calendar and could bring it up for a vote, which would put Democrats in the difficult choice of rejecting the SECURE Act — despite its limited amnesty — to preserve the inflow of Democratic-leaning, wage-cutting voters via chain-migration.
But McConnell has kept his cards close to his chest. “We will not be doing DACA this week,” McConnell told Fox News Tuesday evening. he continued:
That is a matter to be discussed next year. The President has given us until March to address that issue. We have plenty of time to do that.
McConnell did not say if he planned to support President Trump’s priorities, or instead if he will back business donors’ demands for more imported workers and consumers.
Many polls show that the Democrats’ calls for amnesty are unpopular because they contradict Americans’ sense of fairness to other Americans. That pro-American pressure is hidden by business and largely ignored by the media — despite the 2016 election results — but could play a large role in the pending 2018 election fights.
Business groups and Democrats embrace the misleading, industry-funded “nation of immigrants” polls which pressure Americans to say they welcome migrants.
The alternative “fairness” polls show that voters put a much higher priority on helping their families, neighbors, and fellow nationals get decent jobs in a high-tech, high-immigration, low-wage economy.
The political power of the voters’ fairness priorities was made clear during the GOP primaries and again in November 2016. This year, groups such as FAIR and Americans for Legal Immigration PAC have deterred many business-first GOP politicians from openly supporting an amnesty.
Multiple polls show the public is strongly opposed to the Democrats’ threat to shut down the government if they do not get their DREAM Act amnesty by Christmas for 3 million illegals.
Each year, 4 million Americans turn 18 and begin looking for good jobs in the free market.
But the federal government inflates the supply of new labor by annually accepting 1 million new legal immigrants, by providing work-permits to roughly 3 million resident foreigners, and by doing little to block the employment of roughly 8 million illegal immigrants.
The Washington-imposed economic policy of mass-immigration floods the market with foreign labor, spikes profits and Wall Street values by cutting salaries for manual and skilled labor offered by blue-collar and white-collar employees. It also drives up real estate prices, widens wealth-gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, hurts kids’ schools and college education, pushes Americans away from high-tech careers, and sidelines at least 9 million marginalized Americans and their families, including many who are now struggling with opioid addictions.
The cheap-labor policy has also reduced investment and job creation in many interior states because the coastal cities have a surplus of imported labor. For example, almost 27 percent of zip codes in Missouri had fewer jobs or businesses in 2015 than in 2000, according to a new report by the Economic Innovation Group. In Kansas, almost 29 percent of zip codes had fewer jobs and businesses in 2015 compared to 2000, which was a two-decade period of massive cheap-labor immigration.
Because of the successful cheap-labor strategy, wages for men have remained flat since 1973, and a large percentage of the nation’s annual income has shifted to investors and away from employees.
Nuclear annihilation just one miscalculation away, UN chief warns
The world is one misstep from devastating nuclear war and in peril not seen since the Cold War, the UN Secretary General has warned.
“We have been extraordinarily lucky so far,” Antonio Guterres said.
Amid rising global tensions, “humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation”, he added.
His remarks came at the opening of a conference for countries signed up to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The 1968 deal was introduced after the Cuban missile crisis, an event often portrayed as the closest the world ever came to nuclear war. The treaty was designed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons to more countries, and to pursue the ultimate goal of complete nuclear disarmament.
Almost every nation on Earth is signed up to the NPT, including the five biggest nuclear powers. But among the handful of states never to sign are four known or suspected to have nuclear weapons: India, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan.
Secretary General Guterres said the “luck” the world had enjoyed so far in avoiding a nuclear catastrophe may not last – and urged the world to renew a push towards eliminating all such weapons.
“Luck is not a strategy. Nor is it a shield from geopolitical tensions boiling over into nuclear conflict,” he said.
And he warned that those international tensions were “reaching new highs” – pointing specifically to the invasion of Ukraine, tensions on the Korean peninsula and in the Middle East as examples.
Russia was widely accused of escalating tensions when days after his invasion of Ukraine in February, President Vladimir Putin put Russia’s substantial nuclear forces on high alert.
He also threatened anyone standing in Russia’s way with consequences “you have never seen in your history”. Russia’s nuclear strategy includes the use of nuclear weapons if the state’s existence is under threat.
On Monday, Mr Putin wrote to the same non-proliferation conference Mr Guterres opened, declaring that “there can be no winners in a nuclear war and it should never be unleashed”.
But Russia still found itself criticised at the NPT conference.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned what he called Russia’s sabre-rattling – and pointed out that Ukraine had handed over its Soviet-era nuclear weapons in 1994, after receiving assurances of its future security from Russia and others.
“What message does this send to any country around the world that may think that it needs to have nuclear weapons – to protect, to defend, to deter aggression against its sovereignty and independence?” he asked. “The worst possible message”.
Today, some 13,000 nuclear weapons are thought to remain in service in the arsenals of the nine nuclear-armed states – far lower than the estimated 60,000 stockpiled during the peak of the mid-1980s.
Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-62381425
Australia election: Why is Australia’s parliament so white?
With this year’s election, political parties did have a window to slightly improve this. But they chose not to in most cases, critics say.
Tu Le grew up the child of Vietnamese refugees in Fowler, a south-west Sydney electorate far from the city’s beaches, and one of the poorest urban areas in the country.
The 30-year-old works as a community lawyer for refugees and migrants newly arrived to the area.
Last year, she was pre-selected by the Labor Party to run in the nation’s most multicultural seat. But then party bosses side-lined her for a white woman.
It would take Kristina Kenneally four hours on public transport – ferry, train, bus, and another bus – to get to Fowler from her home in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, where she lived on an island.
Furious locals questioned what ties she had to the area, but as one of Labor’s most prominent politicians, she was granted the traditionally Labor-voting seat.
Ms Le only learned she’d been replaced on the night newspapers went to print with the story.
“I was conveniently left off the invitation to the party meeting the next day,” she told the BBC.
Despite backlash – including a Facebook group where locals campaigned to stop Ms Kenneally’s appointment – Labor pushed through the deal.
“If this scenario had played out in Britain or the United States, it would not be acceptable,” says Dr Tim Soutphomassane, director of the Sydney Policy Lab and Australia’s former Race Discrimination Commissioner.
“But in Australia, there is a sense that you can still maintain the status quo with very limited social and political consequences.”
An insiders’ game
At least one in five Australians have a non-European background and speak a language at home other than English, according to the last census in 2016.
Some 49% of the population was born or has a parent who was born overseas. In the past 20 years, migrants from Australia’s Asian neighbours have eclipsed those from the UK.
But the parliament looks almost as white as it did in the days of the “White Australia” policy – when from 1901 to the 1970s, the nation banned non-white immigrants.
“We simply do not see our multicultural character represented in anything remotely close to proportionate form in our political institutions,” says Dr Soutphomassane.
Compared to other Western multicultural democracies, Australia also lags far behind.
The numbers below include Indigenous Australians, who did not gain suffrage until the 1960s, and only saw their first lower house MP elected in 2010. Non-white candidates often acknowledge that any progress was first made by Aboriginal Australians.
Two decades ago, Australia and the UK had comparably low representation. But UK political parties – responding to campaigns from diverse members – pledged to act on the problem.
“The British Conservative Party is currently light years ahead of either of the major Australian political parties when it comes to race and representation,” says Dr Soutphomassane.
So why hasn’t Australia changed?
Observers say Australia’s political system is more closed-door than other democracies. Nearly all candidates chosen by the major parties tend to be members who’ve risen through the ranks. Often they’ve worked as staffers to existing MPs.
Ms Le said she’d have no way into the political class if she hadn’t been sponsored by Fowler’s retiring MP – a white, older male.
Labor has taken small structural steps recently – passing commitments in a state caucus last year, and selecting two Chinese-Australian candidates for winnable seats in Sydney.
But it was “one step forward and two steps back”, says party member and activist Osmond Chiu, when just weeks after the backlash to Ms Le’s case, Labor “parachuted in” another white candidate to a multicultural heartland.
Andrew Charlton, a former adviser to ex-PM Kevin Rudd, lived in a harbour mansion in Sydney’s east where he ran a consultancy.
His selection scuppered the anticipated races of at least three diverse candidates from the area which has large Indian and Chinese diasporas.
Party seniors argued that Ms Kenneally and Mr Charlton – as popular and respected party figures – would be able to promote their electorates’ concerns better than newcomers.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese also hailed Ms Kenneally as a “great Australian success story” as a migrant from the US herself.
But Mr Chiu says: “A lot of the frustration that people expressed wasn’t about these specific individuals.
“It was about the fact that these were two of the most multicultural seats in Australia and these opportunities – which come by so rarely – to select culturally diverse candidates were squandered.”
He adds this has long-term effects because the average MP stays in office for about 10 years.
The frustration on this issue has centred on Labor – because the centre-left party calls itself the “party of multiculturalism”.
But the Liberal-National government doesn’t even have diversity as a platform issue.
One of its MPs up for re-election recently appeared to confuse her Labor rival for Tu Le, sparking accusations that she’d mixed up the two Asian-Australian women – something she later denied. But as one opponent said: “How is this still happening in 2022?”
Some experts like Dr Soutphommasane have concluded that Australia’s complacency on areas like representation stems from how the nation embraced multiculturalism as official policy after its White Australia days.
The government of the 1970s, somewhat embarrassed by the past policy, passed racial discrimination laws and “a seat at the table” was granted to migrants and Indigenous Australians.
But critics say this has led to an Australia where multiculturalism is celebrated but racial inequality is not interrogated.
“Multiculturalism is almost apolitical in how it’s viewed in Australia,” Dr Soutphommasane says, in contrast to the “fight” for rights that other Western countries have seen from minority groups.
What is the impact?
A lack of representation in parliament can also lead to failures in policy.
During Sydney’s Covid outbreak in August 2021, Fowler and Parramatta electorates – where most of the city’s multicultural communities reside – were subject to harsher lockdowns as a result of a higher number of cases.
How will things change?
Liberal MP Dave Sharma, the only lawmaker of Indian heritage, has said all parties – including his own – should better recruit people with different backgrounds. He called it a “pretty laissez-faire attitude” currently.
Mr Albanese has urged Ms Le to “hang in there”, insisting she has a future.
But more people like Ms Le are choosing to speak out.
“I think I surprised a lot of people by not staying quiet,” she told the BBC.
“People acted like it was the end of my political career that I didn’t toe the party line. But… none of that means anything to me if it means I’m sacrificing my own values.”
She and other second-generation Australians – raised in a country which prides itself on “a fair go” – are agitating for the rights and access their migrant parents may not have felt entitled to.
“Many of those from diverse backgrounds were saying they felt like they didn’t have a voice – and that my case was a clear demonstration of their suppression, and their wider participation in our political system.”
She and others have noted the “growing distrust” in the major parties. Polls are predicting record voter support for independent candidates.
“This issue…. matters for everyone in Australian society that cares about democracy,” says Mr Soutphommasane.
“If democratic institutions are not representative, their legitimacy will suffer.
US military leader warns Chinese security deal with Solomon Islands sounds ‘too good to be true’
A senior US military general has warned during a visit to Australia that China’s offer to deepen security ties with Solomon Islands will come with strings attached, suggesting the Pacific island country may come to regret the planned deal.
“My parents told me if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” the commandant of the United States Marine Corps, general David Berger, said on Wednesday.
Berger was cautious when asked about longstanding US concerns relating to a Chinese company’s lease over the port of Darwin, stressing it was a sovereign decision for Australia as part of its yet-to-be-completed national security review.
Ahead of a trip to Darwin, the site of increasing rotations of US Marines, Berger said: “If it’s not of concern to Australia, then it’s not of concern to me.”
Berger’s visit comes amid a flurry of diplomatic activity by the US and Australia attempting to head off a proposed security agreement between China and Solomon Islands, which could allow regular visits by the People’s Liberation Army Navy.
A leaked draft from last month raised the possibility China could “make ship visits to, carry out logistical replenishment in, and have stopover and transition in Solomon Islands”, while Chinese forces could also be used “to protect the safety of Chinese personnel and major projects in Solomon Islands”.
The prime minister of Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, has sought to allay concerns, saying his country has no intention of allowing a Chinese naval base. But Sogavare has also said it is “very insulting to be branded as unfit to manage our sovereign affairs”.
Speaking in Canberra on Wednesday, Berger said the US needed to show humility in its outreach to Pacific nations, but also needed to be open about the potential long-term consequences.
Berger reflected on the fight for control of Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands during the second world war, when the US and allies sought to prevent Japanese forces from gaining a foothold in the strategically important location.
“A lot of things change in warfare. Not geography. Where … Solomon Islands are matters. It did then and it does now,” Berger said at the Australian Strategic Policy
He said the proposed agreement was “just another example” of China seeking to broaden and expand its influence. He raised concerns about “the way that [it] happens and the consequences for the nations” involved.
Sogavare has argued Solomon Islands pursues a “friends to all and enemies to none” foreign policy, but Berger implied countries making agreements with Beijing might regret it down the track.
“We should illuminate, we should draw out into the open what this means long term,” Berger said.
“This is, in other words, an extension of ‘hey we’re here with a cheque, we’re here with money, we’d like to improve your port or your airfield or your bus station’. And that just sounds so great, until a year later or six months later.”
The US plans to reopen its embassy in Solomon Islands, a move the nominee for US ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy, has said “can’t come soon enough”.
Berger acknowledged there were limits to US insights in Pacific island countries, so the US needed to rely on allies such as Australia.
“We’re not going to have always the best view, the clearest picture,” he said.
“We have to understand the neighbourhood and we’re never going to understand it as well as Australia.”
Earlier, the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, denied that the US had conveyed any concerns that Australia had dropped the ball in the region.
Morrison said the Australian government was continuing to raise concerns with Solomon Islands without acting in a “heavy-handed” way.
Australia’s minister for the Pacific, Zed Seselja, met with Sogavare in Honiara on Wednesday and “asked Solomon Islands respectfully to consider not signing the agreement” with China.
Seselja suggested Solomon Islands “consult the Pacific family in the spirit of regional openness and transparency”. Australia would work with Solomon Islands “swiftly, transparently and with full respect for its sovereignty”.
“We welcome recent statements from prime minister Sogavare that Australia remains Solomon Islands’ security partner of choice, and his commitment that Solomon Islands will never be used for military bases or other military institutions of foreign powers,” Seselja said.
Sogavare has previously said Solomon Islands welcomed “any country that is willing to support us in our security space”.
But Matthew Wale, the leader of the opposition, has argued the deal “would make the Solomons a geopolitical playing field” and “further threaten the nation’s fragile unity”.
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