Is Germany’s election result ‘the revenge of the East’?

The Guardian reports: Two days after a historic vote saw an overtly nationalist party enter the German parliament for the first time in more than five decades, a group of over-60s vent their grievances over lunchtime beers and cigarettes in the smoky back room of a dry petrol station on the border between the German state of Saxony and the Czech Republic.

The German government is throwing cash at refugees “while native pensioners can’t afford to buy a new pair of glasses”, they complain. Putin is Europe’s “only guarantor of peace”, they argue, and Germany is still “under occupation” by America.

A retired lorry driver with a handlebar moustache cites a joke he read in the tabloid Bild, which says that in the wake of Sunday’s federal elections, Angela Merkel should consider handing Saxony to the Czechs in exchange for some of their toxic waste. “Let’s have it,” he shouts. “We’ll become Sudeten Germans again.”

Oppach lies in the new heartland of Germany’s far-right upstarts, part of a cluster of five villages in the district of Görlitz where Alternative für Deutschland won more than 44% of the vote on Sunday.

With 12.6% of the national vote, the AfD will be the third-strongest force in the next Bundestag, but in Saxony the party is already top: 27% of voters cast their ballot for the party that wants to hold a referendum on leaving the eurozone, ban burqas and minarets, and have Merkel prosecuted for her decision to open Germany’s borders to refugees in 2015. [Continue reading…]

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Far-right AfD enters German parliament: What it means for German politics

Jefferson Chase writes: For the first time in the modern history of the Federal Republic of Germany, voters have elected a far-right party to the country’s parliament. But what does “far-right” mean and how will political culture change? The answers are both very complicated and really simple.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) promotes itself as a patriotic, democratic, conservative party. However, critics from across the political spectrum say it’s an association of right-wing extremists. In a pointed reference to the AfD, Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel bemoaned the fact that “true Nazis” would once again be part of the Bundestag.

Speaking to foreign journalists, Germany’s leading academic expert on political parties, Oskar Niedermayer, defined the AfD as follows: “The spectrum of positions represented in the AfD cannot be summed up by one word. I call them a nationalist-conservative party with increasing connections to right-wing extremism.”

That’s the complicated bit. The simple one is the AfD’s lone effective issue. The official party platform may be 76 pages long and offers many positions on everything from taxes to public TV to animal rights, but a recent study by the respected Bertelsmann foundation found that the only topic upon which significant numbers of Germans believe the AfD had any expertise was immigration. [Continue reading…]

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Germany’s slide to the right

Klaus Brinkbäumer writes: The one side says things like: “We will hunt them down. We will hunt down Ms. Merkel or whoever else and we will take back our country and our people.” That is what Alexander Gauland, the self-proclaimed guardian of the German people, said shortly after 6 p.m. Sunday evening when the first exit polls were made public.

The other side strikes a different tone: “We had hoped for a slightly better result.” That is what Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday evening. She also said she “wasn’t disappointed.” It was a unique display of exceedingly unsuccessful political dissembling.

This year’s general election in Germany has been heralded as an epochal shift. Merkel’s “grand coalition,” pairing her conservatives with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), was voted out of office and the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) became Germany’s third-strongest party. In the search for reasons for the shift, the language of politics is a good place to start. The AfD professed to be clear and decisive, their language was explicit — and voters rewarded them for it. The chancellor, by contrast, sought to avoid discussions and to completely ignore major issues focused on by the populists: foreign migrants and German uneasiness. Merkel’s political style, which is characterized by avoiding clashes, was punished to the greatest possible degree. [Continue reading…]

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New order indefinitely bars almost all travel from seven countries

The New York Times reports: President Trump on Sunday issued a new order indefinitely banning almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the nations covered by his original travel ban, citing threats to national security posed by letting their citizens into the country.

The new order is more far-reaching than the president’s original travel ban, imposing permanent restrictions on travel, rather than the 90-day suspension that Mr. Trump authorized soon after taking office. But officials said his new action was the result of a deliberative, rigorous examination of security risks that was designed to avoid the chaotic rollout of his first ban. And the addition of non-Muslim countries could address the legal attacks on earlier travel restrictions as discrimination based on religion.

Starting next month, most citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea will be banned from entering the United States, Mr. Trump said in a proclamation released Sunday night. Citizens of Iraq and some groups of people in Venezuela who seek to visit the United States will face restrictions or heightened scrutiny.

Mr. Trump’s original travel ban caused turmoil at airports in January and set off a furious legal challenge to the president’s authority. It was followed in March by a revised ban, which expired on Sunday even as the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments about its constitutionality on Oct. 10. The new order — Chad, North Korea and Venezuela are new to the list of affected countries and Sudan has been dropped — will take effect Oct. 18. [Continue reading…]

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Americans back DACA by a huge margin

ABC News reports: A vast 86 percent of Americans support a right to residency for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, with support crossing the political spectrum. Two-thirds back a deal to enact such legislation in tandem with higher funding for border control.

Possibly in light of President Donald Trump’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, disapproval of his handling of immigration overall reaches 62 percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll. Just 35 percent approve.

Additional hurdles for Trump are his demand for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico — again 62 percent oppose it — and substantial concerns about his immigration enforcement policies. [Continue reading…]

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Trump administration changes travel ban countries

The Washington Post reports: The Trump administration announced new restrictions Sunday on visitors from eight countries — an expansion of the pre-existing travel ban that has spurred fierce legal debates over security, immigration and discrimination.

Officials had said they wanted the new rules to be both tough and targeted. The move comes as the key portion of President Trump’s travel ban, which bars the issuance of visas to citizens of six majority-Muslim countries, is set to expire.

“These restrictions are necessary and conditions-based, not time-based,” a senior administration official said.

The new travel restrictions represent the third version offered by the Trump administration. [Continue reading…]

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A giant baby peering over the U.S.-Mexico border is a startling reminder of those affected by DACA

Quartz reports: The French street artist JR has presented a challenging image of cross-border interaction, just as US president Donald Trump declared his intent to wind down a program that allows undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children the ability to stay and work in the US.

Along the US-Mexico border near Tecate, Mexico, JR erected a massive black and white photo of a child looking over the border fence towards the US, with an amused smile.


JR’s installation comes just days after Trump announced that he will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) after a six-month delay. The boy pictured is a 1-year-old that lives in Tecate, Mexico, according to the New York Times. [Continue reading…]

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Judge: Sessions can’t deny grant money for sanctuary cities

The Associated Press reports: Attorney General Jeff Sessions can’t follow through — at least for now — with his threat to withhold public safety grant money to Chicago and other so-called sanctuary cities for refusing to impose new tough immigration policies, a judge ruled Friday in a legal defeat for the Trump administration.

In what is at least a temporary victory for cities that have defied Sessions, U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber ruled that the Justice Department could not impose the requirements.

He said the city had shown a “likelihood of success” in arguing that Sessions exceeded his authority with the new conditions. Among them are requirements that cities notify immigration agents when someone in the country illegally is about to be released from local jails and to allow agents access to the jails.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the ruling a victory for cities, counties and states nationwide and “a clear statement that the Trump administration is wrong.” [Continue reading…]

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U.S. Army kills contracts for hundreds of immigrant recruits. Some face deportation

The Washington Post reports: U.S. Army recruiters have abruptly canceled enlistment contracts for hundreds of foreign-born military recruits since last week, upending their lives and potentially exposing many to deportation, according to several affected recruits and a retired Army officer familiar with their situation.

Many of these enlistees have waited years to join a troubled immigration recruitment program designed to attract highly skilled immigrants into the service in exchange for fast-track citizenship.

Now recruits and experts say that recruiters are shedding their contracts to free themselves from an onerous enlistment process to focus on individuals who can more quickly enlist and thus satisfy strict recruitment targets. [Continue reading…]

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Russia used Facebook events to organize anti-immigrant rallies on U.S. soil

The Daily Beast reports: Russian operatives hiding behind false identities used Facebook’s event management tool to remotely organize and promote political protests in the U.S., including an August 2016 anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rally in Idaho, The Daily Beast has learned.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to the Daily Beast that the social-media giant “shut down several promoted events as part of the takedown we described last week.” The company declined to elaborate, except to confirm that the events were promoted with paid ads. (This is the first time the social media giant has publicly acknowledged the existence of such events.)

The Facebook events—one of which echoed Islamophobic conspiracy theories pushed by pro-Trump media outlets—are the first indication that the Kremlin’s attempts to shape America’s political discourse moved beyond fake news and led unwitting Americans into specific real-life action.

“This is the next step,” Clint Watts, a former FBI agent and expert on Russia’s influence campaign, told The Daily Beast. “The objective of influence is to create behavior change. The simplest behavior is to have someone disseminate propaganda that Russia created and seeded. The second part of behavior influence is when you can get people to physically do something.” [Continue reading…]

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Napolitano sues Trump to save DACA program she helped create

The New York Times reports: As secretary of homeland security in 2012, Janet Napolitano created DACA, the federal program that protected more than 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants from deportation and allowed them to work legally in the United States.

Now, as the president of the sprawling University of California system, she is suing President Trump to save it.

Lawyers for Ms. Napolitano and the school system she leads, which serves 238,000 students across 10 campuses, filed a lawsuit on Friday in federal court accusing Trump officials of violating administrative procedures and constitutional due process requirements by abruptly ending the program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Having done so, she says in the lawsuit, Mr. Trump harmed the thousands of undocumented students whose attendance at her universities is made possible by the work permits that they receive through DACA. And she says that ending the program will negatively affect the university system, which stands to lose the academic and cultural benefits those students bring. [Continue reading…]

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Court rejects Trump administration on travel ban exemptions

Politico reports: President Donald Trump’s travel ban policy suffered another defeat Thursday as an appeals court rejected the administration’s attempt to deny grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins of Americans a temporary exemption from the controversial executive order.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously declined to overturn a district court judge’s ruling that the administration was taking too narrow a view of an exception the Supreme Court carved out from the travel ban in June.

The appeals court judges reasoned that since the justices said the mother-in-law of one travel-ban challenger was entitled to a reprieve from the president’s order, other relatives should enjoy the same treatment. [Continue reading…]

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The military looked to ‘dreamers’ to use their vital skills. Now the U.S. might deport them

The Washington Post reports: Zion Dirgantara can easily recall his first day of school in the United States. It was a bright, sunny Tuesday, and terrorists hijacked four commercial planes.

Class for Indonesian-born Dirgantara, then 12, was canceled as parents scrambled to pick up fellow students in Philadelphia. The city was bracketed midway between the ash cloud choking Manhattan and a flaming hole punched through the Pentagon. To the west of Philadelphia, United 93 disintegrated into a Pennsylvania field.

“I realized there was evil in this world, and you have to fight for what is right,” Dirgantara, now 28, told The Washington Post.

Fluent in Indonesian and English, he enlisted in the Army in March 2016 and swore an oath to defend the United States. He has drilled as a reservist cargo specialist since last September.

But Dirgantara’s future in the military and the country now hinges on the ability of Congress to find a way to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. [Continue reading…]

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Koch Brothers will push Congress to protect DREAMers

The Daily Beast reports: The political network of libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch is poised to back a bill protecting young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Spokespeople for the Koch network confirmed to The Daily Beast that it will press Congress for a legislative fix to the recently rescinded Obama-era program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, that shielded undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children.

The Kochs’ backing could provide a crucial boost to efforts to preserve DACA, which Trump announced this week he will phase out over the course of six months. Congress has scrambled to find a replacement for those legal protections that are set to be removed. And Trump himself signaled early support for the DREAM Act, which would, essentially, codify the DACA protections that Obama had imposed via executive action. [Continue reading…]

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Want to fight crime? Increase immigration and save DACA

Rachel Kleinfeld writes: There are few points on which the vast majority of scholars agree. One of them is that immigrants, both legal and illegal, are far more law-abiding than native-born Americans. The findings are so strong that some scholars argue that part of the steep fall in violence in the 1990s was caused by higher than normal immigration during that period.

The fact that U.S. locales with higher rates of immigration have lower homicide rates is echoed by research conducted by Reid et al., Wadsworth, Ousey and Kubrin, and Stowell et al. The findings held for Los Angeles in the 2000s, and for gang-ridden San Diego from 1980 to 2000 when immigrants were pouring into the city: As immigrants arrived, homicides fell. In fact, pretty much the only slightly negative correlation between immigration and crime comes from Jörg Spenkuch, who found that a 10% increase in foreign-born immigrants with poor employment outlooks raises a county’s property crime rate by just over 1%, but causes no rise in violence.

This is no surprise when you know that immigrants themselves are far less likely to commit crimes – especially violent crimes – than native-born Americans. In fact, immigrants started out less violent than native-born immigrants, and have become less and less crime-prone with each census since 1980. By 2000, native-born Americans were five times more likely to be incarcerated than immigrants. That particularly holds true for less-educated Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan young men, who are overrepresented among illegal immigrants. By 2010, more than 10 percent of native-born men aged 18-39 without a high school diploma were incarcerated. The percentage for Central American immigrants? Just 1.7 percent. [Continue reading…]

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Trump’s inner racism revealed

Charles M Blow writes: Allow me a moment of personal indulgence: When I began writing a column many years ago, it quickly dawned on me that although I had strong and firm views on some things, there were many others about which my opinions weren’t fully formed. I believe that many of us have areas in our lives where our opinions are fungible. It was only through my experience in this job that my own opinions became so clear to me. Doing the job honed me, revealed me, exposed me.

I believe that something similar, but on a much grander and much more consequential scale, happens with presidents. As Michelle Obama said: “Being president doesn’t change who you are. No, it reveals who you are.” That is what is happening with Donald Trump.

He has in the course of his life been on all sides of many issues, although he was always a liar, bully, misogynist, opportunist and economic isolationist. But his racial hostility and white supremacy seem to have blossomed with his entry into politics and his Russia-aided election. After spending a life catering to the appetites of the greedy and gauche, he realized that there was an exponentially larger market of white nationalists and neo-Nazis. To the aspirational he could be landlord, but to the racists he could be overlord.

Trump’s outrageous decision this week to end DACA, the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allowed many young people brought to this country as children to stay and work here, is just the latest expression of Trump’s growing intolerance and his growing adoption and internalizing of white nationalist ideology.

Not only did Trump wimp out and send the anti-immigration zealot Jeff Sessions out to make the announcement, he also made the sadistic and emotionally manipulative act of professing his “love” for the Dreamers last week, while moving to bring them pain this week. [Continue reading…]

The New York Times reports: President Trump’s immigration policies faced a renewed legal onslaught on Wednesday, as a coalition of Democratic attorneys general, nonprofit groups and private companies announced they would oppose his rollback of Obama-era protections for people who entered the country illegally as children.

In an echo of the campaign against Mr. Trump’s effort this year to ban travelers from parts of the Muslim world, a group of 16 attorneys general — all Democrats — filed suit in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, claiming that Mr. Trump had improperly upended the policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.

Led by Attorneys General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York, Maura Healey of Massachusetts and Bob Ferguson of Washington, they alleged Mr. Trump’s shift was driven by racial animus toward Mexican Americans and that the Trump administration failed to follow federal rules governing executive policy making. [Continue reading…]

Ishaan Tharoor writes: When describing the deepening political polarization taking place in the United States, Indian American essayist and author Anand Giridharadas once put it this way: “America is fracturing into two distinct societies — a republic of dreams and a republic of fears.”

That line struck me in the wake of the Trump administration’s move to unwind an Obama-era program that gave legal rights and guarantees against deportation to nearly 800,000 undocumented people brought to the United States as children, often known — appropriately, for our purposes — as “dreamers.” These are people who know no real home other than the United States, who are productive members of the American workforce, sometimes serve in the U.S. military and abide by the nation’s laws.

As participants in Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, usually known as DACA, they entrusted their personal information to a government which may soon use that data to conduct mass arrests and deportations. Their fates — in many instances, those of their families — hang in the balance as the White House dangles red meat to its right-wing base. Dreams are turning into nightmares. [Continue reading…]

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How it feels to be a Dreamer

 

Aaron Blake writes: It’s often been said that President Trump is a man of no true political convictions (apart from “winning”). And as The Washington Post’s Philip Bump notes today, it often seems that Trump takes every position on an issue in hopes of never being fully pinned down — or blamed.

But Trump’s malleability is rarely as striking as it has been on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. His decision Tuesday to phase out the Obama-era executive action exempting the children of undocumented immigrants from deportation was pitched in all kinds of hugely inconsistent ways. Some of the justifications for the decision ran counter to Trump’s own past statements; others were contradicted by Trump himself within a matter of hours.

The biggest contradiction came in a tweet late Tuesday, in which Trump suggested — after a day of stating that Obama’s program was illegal and that Congress was required to act on it — that he might be able to revisit the issue himself. [Continue reading…]

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Trump’s move to end DACA and echoes of the Immigration Act of 1924

Jelani Cobb writes: From the outset, the rearguard movement that is Trumpism has been honest, at least, about its intentions to deliver the United States back to an earlier era in its history. We have heard this sort of appeal to an Edenic past from conservative politicians for decades—for so long, in fact, that those who wished to avoid the more alarming implications of Donald Trump’s resentment agenda could see him as simply a more rough-hewn version of that variety. They imagined him capable of the fabled “pivot” that would allow a more mature, statesmanlike version of Trump to emerge. When this didn’t happen—when his campaign compiled such a vast collection of bigoted actions and statements that it began to seem as if a case study from a syllabus for a course on intersectionality had sprung off the page and run for high office—they held out hope that he would “grow into” the Presidency. That faith was never warranted, but the past month effectively revealed the difference between unfounded optimism and an outright delusion.

In the span of three weeks, Trump has equivocated on the moral character of Nazi sympathizers, pardoned a former sheriff found guilty of racial profiling (though that is possibly the least egregious of the sheriff’s list of civil-rights affronts), and, finally, announced his plan to rescind President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, imperilling the future of eight hundred thousand people who are Americans in all but the most technical sense of the term. This move is part of a larger vision of immigration. Last month, Stephen Miller, one of Trump’s senior policy advisers, sparred with CNN’s Jim Acosta during a press briefing on the proposed RAISE (Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy) Act. If passed, the legislation would slash legal immigration by fifty per cent, and prioritize highly skilled English speakers among those who are allowed to immigrate. But even the preference for highly skilled immigrants should be viewed skeptically, given Trump’s campaign rhetoric about reducing the numbers of people allowed into the country on H-1B visas. The issue is not whether these immigrants are in the country legally; it’s that they are in the country at all. [Continue reading…]

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