As we noted last Monday, the human suffering following Hurricane Maria 90 days ago continues to afflict our American brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico. Dana Milbank summarizes the current state of the island:
... Some 1,065 more Puerto Ricans died in September and October of this year than in previous years, almost certainly storm-related deaths, according to the Center for Investigative Journalism. When all is tallied, the destruction in Puerto Rico will be very much on par with what Trump considers “a real catastrophe like Katrina,” which killed about 1,800.
Incredibly, a large portion of the island remains without power — three months after the storm. It was reported this week that power may not be fully restored until May. Puerto Ricans — American citizens — are still awaiting tarps and temporary roofs to shelter them after an untold number of homes were destroyed.
A new report from Refugees International said, “Thousands of people still lack sustainable access to potable water and electricity and dry, safe places to sleep.” The group faulted the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “bureaucratic and opaque assistance process” for leaving survivors with “enormous challenges.” [snip]
In October, when Trump was tossing “beautiful, soft” rolls of paper towels at Puerto Ricans, he offered lavish promises of aid and said Wall Street lenders were “going to say goodbye” to Puerto Rico’s $72 billion debt. But the debt was not written off, and disaster-relief aid has been inadequate and piecemeal. Now, Trump and congressional Republicans are hitting Puerto Rico with an additional, man-made catastrophe.
The GOP tax bill, which Trump celebrated this week, treats Puerto Rico as a foreign country, imposing a 12.5 percent tax on the income companies there receive from intellectual property — a big hit to its crucial pharmaceutical and medical-device sector. Rather than give Puerto Rico special tax treatment, which it urgently needs, Trump and his congressional allies gave employers a powerful reason to move jobs off the island. (our emphasis)Dreamers
The future of the Obama- era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Dreamers) program is in limbo following failure by timid, spineless Democrats to use their leverage to include a fix in the recent continuing resolution. (If Democrats can find a way to de- energize-- if not screw-- their base, they'll sure try.) They can try again when the current continuing resolution expires, or they can finally push to get action on the DREAM Act to create long- term stability for 700,000 Dreamers. (If Democrats don't step up to the plate, they'll rightly be seen as occupying the same moral swamp on this issue as Republicans.)
Nevertheless, Republicans created this mess when Rump had Confederate States Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III cancel the Dreamers program in September. Now Republicans are caught between their anti- immigrant, frothing base and their desire to save the necks of members running in swing districts. As Jonathan Blitzer reports:
... To minimize the political fallout from the cancellation, Trump called on lawmakers to pass legislation to restore the protections he had just ended. He set a deadline of March 5th for Congress to act. “Trump created this crisis, set a date to push recipients off of a cliff, and then left it to Congress to prevent it,” Cecilia Muñoz, a former Obama official who helped develop the DACA policy, told me. [snip]
Trump’s DACA deadline coincides with congressional primary season. Many incumbent Republicans will need to shore up their bases of support on the right, and others will be facing Steve Bannon-inspired conservative challengers; they won’t want to appear too conciliatory on a contentious issue like immigration.
Living up to their acronym under the racist Rump regime, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under Homeland Security is considering pursuing a heartless strategy to discourage families with children from seeking refuge in the United States:
FAMILIES AND unaccompanied children detained at the Mexican border are often fleeing horrific conditions in Central American countries, especially El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where violent gangs, drug trafficking and rampant criminality contribute to some of the world’s highest murder rates. Now the Trump administration, alarmed at the recent surge in border crossers, is considering a new strategy to deter them. The message: “You think your native country is cruel? America is even crueller.” [snip]
That’s the logic behind a proposal under consideration by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that would try to discourage migrant families from crossing the border by threatening to separate parents from their children when they are taken into custody in the United States.
If Ms. Nielsen gives the green light to break up migrant families, many of whom have plausible asylum claims, she would be responsible for a policy whose heartlessness would rival that of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the forcible internment of some 110,000 U.S. citizens and noncitizens of Japanese descent during World War II. Four decades after that act of mass inhumanity, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation formally apologizing for it.That's, of course, when ICE agents aren't
... stalking a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy’s ambulance and staking out her hospital room, classifying any person caught in an ICE raid as a “criminal” and [...] attempting to deport a journalist back to a country where he faced death at the hands of the drug cartels he’d exposed.If you feel like you're living in a different country than you were 12 months ago, you're not alone.