Immigration Czar Jeff Session’s Role Model—John C. (Nullification) Calhoun July 1, 2018
Trumpism USA-- a trifecta of subservient unquestioning GOP lapdogs in our executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Any congressional or Senate GOPer who thinks of challenging in the slightest way the blatant lies, attitudes, and wacky extremist policies pouring forth from the mouth or tweets of Demagogue Donald has to resign (PA’s Charlie Dent), not run again (AZ and TN Sens. Flake and Corker), or gets defeated or pushed into a runoff in GOP primaries (SC Cong. Mark Sanford and AL’s Martha Roby). Sen. McCain, an occasional Trump critic, is, of course, terminally ill. The independent judiciary under Donald? Forget about it. Hard-line Senate GOPers are confirming far- right Trump federal judicial nominees to the District and Circuit Courts with assembly line conveyor belt speed. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)? Thanks to Trump lackey Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Obama’s pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, the brilliant/progressive Merrick Garland was denied a confirmation hearing for over a year. With conservative/swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy’s 6/27/2018 announcement of his retirement, SCOTUS will have a dominant right-wing cast that could overturn, for starters, abortion protections, health care reform, and LGBTQ rights (See CNN, Rocha, Wagner, & Riles, Live Updates, 6/27/18). Again, I repeat, ELECTIONS COUNT. When Donald won, because not enough Democrats voted, the hijacked Garland seat was taken by Scalia-plus clone Neil Gorsuch. Gorsuch has delivered “big time” for Donald. The 5-4 conservative majority has predictably ruled in case after case against consumers, labor unions, voting rights/ redistricting, and gays leaving Donald’s power unchecked. They have upheld Donald’s extreme anti-Muslim/anti-immigrant travel ban. Additionally, any Cabinet member of Donald’s Executive Branch who attacks his boss (Secretary of State Rex Tillerson) gets the boot. The hardliners of hardliners, the “yes men/yes women” are what remain in Donald’s Executive branch.
The 6/26/2018 5-4 SCOTUS decision upholding his travel ban has only emboldened Donald as well as congressional GOPers to crack down on immigrants in general. This case will probably be cited by Donald and Company as strengthening their hand along the U.S.-Mexican border as well (LA Times, Savage, 6/27/18). Expect to see Donald, hardline Atty. General Jeff Sessions, and “Team Red” legislators continue their “zero tolerance” policy of attempting to keep immigrant families and children in detention camps indefinitely. Don’t count on them trying to speedily reunite separated children with their parents. True, CA U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw issued a 6/26/2018 preliminary injunction that separated children be reunited with their parents within 30 days. However, expect more legal maneuvering in this case by Trump’s government and more foot dragging by them. With these immigrant children scattered all over the U.S., more litigation by the ACLU and similar groups will have to follow (See LA Times, 6/27/18, Tchekmedyian & Davis).
In the meantime, right-wing GOP Congressman Steve Knight in CA’s 25th Congressional District, CD, (Palmdale/Santa Clarita) has introduced H.R. 6173. According to Knight’s press release, this House bill would authorize “$50 million for the construction of facilities to safely and securely hold families while legal proceedings are processed, and would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to maintain care and custody of adults charged with illegal entry with their children while charges are pending with the Department of Justice (shareblue.com, 6/25/18, Martin).” Translation: Knight’s bill could force many families to sit in detention for years. The average wait time for immigrants to get a court date is nearly two years, sometimes four. Trump has stated that he will not hire more immigration judges. Knight’s desire to build such detention centers echoes the horrible miscarriage of justice when 120, 000 people of Japanese ancestry were held in internment camps for years during WWII. The U.S. Government has since apologized for and paid compensation for this injustice. Even today’s reactionary Supreme Court, in its wrongly-decided travel ban case, officially overruled the 1944 SCOTUS Korematsu decision upholding such camps (NY Times, Liptak & Sher, 6/26/18, LA Times, Savage). Cong. Knight, facing a tough fight against Democrat Katie Hill in his swing district, could care less. He stands with Trump all the way. In another district that will be hotly contested in 11/2018, the Fullerton/La Habra 39th CD, GOPer Young Kim claimed that separating families “breaks my heart” and wants immigration laws to be “enforced in a ‘humane’ way.” However, she has not fully denounced Trump’s policies. She has also backed local conservative efforts to oppose CA’s “sanctuary state law” to protect undocumented immigrants, a stand opposed by 58% of CA voters (See Skelton, 3/08/18, LA Times). Her Democratic opponent Gil Cisneros has called these separations “heartless” and “inhumane” in a district that is 34% Hispanic and has many Asian immigrants (Barone & CQ 14 Almanacs, LA Times, Mai-Duc, 6/24/18). Efforts to pass any relief for these immigrant children or any immigration legislation have just failed “bigly” in the GOP House (huffingtonpost.com, Foley & Fuller, 6/27/18).
And then we have Atty. General Jeff Sessions himself. Even before he started pushing his harsh “zero tolerance” anti-immigration policy, Sessions had been denied a federal judgeship in the Reagan era, because of his anti-civil rights record in AL. Sessions was big on prosecuting “voter fraud” cases against AL blacks. He once stated that he thought the KKK was “OK until I learned they smoked pot (“Right Wing Justice,” H. Schwartz, CQ Almanac).” As AL’s Senator, GOP Sessions led the fight against confirming Obama Supreme Ct. nominees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. He was the first Senator to endorse Demagogue Donald for president. He led the fight to kill immigration reform (Nichols, “Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse”). Anti-immigrant fanatic and Trump advisor Stephen Miller was a staffer for Sessions. Miller is credited by many with pushing Sessions to take his strong anti-immigration stands (Nichols). IMHO, Sessions, with his anti-civil rights background, didn’t need much pushing to adopt these xenophobic views.
Sessions doesn’t shy away from confrontations on immigration or any other Trumpian views. Sessions has repeatedly gone to “ground zero” of the anti-Trump resistance, California. In a 3/07/2018 address to the Calif. Peace Officers’ Association, Sessions stated that CA was full of “lawless open-border radicals” and run by “people protecting lawbreakers and giving all (immigration) officers more dangerous work to do so that politicians can score political points.” Sessions called “open borders a radical, irrational idea that can not be accepted.” He accused CA of “using every power it has—powers it doesn’t have—to frustrate federal law enforcement.” He added, “So you can be sure I’m going to use every power I have to stop them.” In this speech, Sessions also called “federal law the supreme law of the land. He stated, “I would invite any doubters to go to Gettysburg or to the tombstones of John C. Calhoun and Abraham Lincoln.” John C. Calhoun? Since when was Calhoun an advocate of a strong federal union? 19th Century S. Carolinian Calhoun was a fiery advocate for states’ rights. He was the fellow who, upset with S. Carolina paying a tariff on imported goods, developed the theory of “nullification” in which a state could “nullify” or cancel a federal law. Slaveholder Calhoun left the Vice-Presidency under Andrew Jackson in 1832 to become a S. Carolina Senator over this issue. Jackson rightly saw “nullification” as little removed from disunion or secession and wrote a document attacking nullification. President Jackson threatened to use military force to collect the tariff in S. Carolina. (A compromise averted such action.) In 1850, the country almost tore itself apart over the slavery issue when the admission of CA and other Western territories was at stake. Calhoun, then dying of tuberculosis, wrote a blistering attack opposing this compromise, pushing for state resistance to it. The Compromise of 1850 passed, however, buying more than a decade of time before the Civil War. However, Calhoun’s nullification and states’ rights attitudes gained traction in the South leading to that bloody conflict (See Meacham, “The Soul of America,” “The Great American History Fact-Finder, Yanak & Cornelison, Clemson.edu, Niven, 1988, pp. 2-3, memory.loc.gov, Barney 2011, p. 304). Atty. General Session’s real role model is clearly John C. Calhoun. However, the idea of saying that Calhoun along with Lincoln stood for preserving the Union constitutes an “alternative fact” version of American History.
CA Dem. Gov. Jerry Brown and the state’s Attorney General Democrat Xavier Becerra correctly denied all of Sessions’ fabrications about CA’s immigration policy. Brown aptly called it “unprecedented for the chief law enforcement of the United States to come out to California and act more like Fox News than a law enforcement officer (Skelton, LA Times, 3/08/18).”
Sessions again decided to personally visit and attack the State of CA while he was cruelly keeping immigrant children from their parents. In a 6/26/2018 speech at Los Angeles’ Millenium Biltmore Hotel before the conservative Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, he defended his “zero tolerance” prosecution and separation of immigrant children policies. He called the rhetoric “we hear from the other side on the issue ‘radicalized’ and on the ‘lunatic fringe.’” Yes, Atty. Gen. Sessions, I guess 66% of Americans who oppose separating immigrant children from their parents constitute “leftist lunatics (See CNN Poll, Sparks, 6/18/18).” Give me a break! Sessions went on to joke before his audience that those attacking his policy were hypocrites who would gladly separate families that infiltrated their “gated communities.” His audience of “true believers” laughed (Visser, huffingtonpost.com, 6/27/18). Outside the Biltmore, real non-elitist Americans demonstrated against Sessions’ cruel policies. Earlier that morning, about 150 demonstrators, including ministers, rabbis, and other interfaith leaders gathered outside the federal courthouse, held hands, and blocked traffic as they prayed (LA Times, Etehad, Branson-Potts, and Livingston, 6/27/18).
Yes, we must all demonstrate against such cruel and inhumane anti-immigrant policies and push toward ending them. On 6/30/2018, hundreds of thousands of Americans peacefully did just that across the country (Ellis, cnn.com, 7/01/18). However, again, the key to checking Trumpism’s excesses is to come out in droves on 11/06/2018 and vote as Steve Schmidt, George Will, Paul Krugman, and Tom Friedman have said, for candidates with the “D” next to their names. The GOP, the “G rand O ut of Touch P arty” has abdicated its ability to check and balance out-of-control Donald. Our democracy requires that we use the ballot to throw the Trump lap dogs out of the House and Senate. “Occupy the Polls” this November. As former President Obama said, “don’t mope, vote (Mai-Duc, LA Times, 6/28/18).”