A federal court ruling, plus Republicans’ idea of “compromise,” plus a myth, plus other stuff…. (More)

“Plaintiffs have clearly demonstrated that they are likely to suffer serious irreparable harm absent an injunction”

A federal judge held that DACA protections must remain in place until pending lawsuits are resolved:

The injunction by U.S. District Judge William Alsup says those protections must remain in place for the nearly 690,000 immigrants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program while a legal challenge to ending the Obama-era program proceeds.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the decision to terminate the program on Sept. 5 and said no renewal applications would be accepted after Oct. 5. Under the administration’s plan, permits that expired after March 5 could not be renewed.
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“Plaintiffs have clearly demonstrated that they are likely to suffer serious irreparable harm absent an injunction,” Alsup wrote. “Before DACA, Individual Plaintiffs, brought to America as children, faced a tough set of life and career choices turning on the comparative probabilities of being deported versus remaining here. DACA gave them a more tolerable set of choices, including joining the mainstream workforce.”

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra brought the lawsuit together with the attorneys general for Maine, Maryland and Minnesota, as well as the University of California, DACA recipients and others.

The plaintiffs said the Trump administration failed to follow the law in rescinding DACA and would cause irreparable harm by forcing immigrants to leave jobs, drop out of school and potentially be deported.

Judge Alsup did not rule on the merits of the plaintiffs’ case, although a temporary injunction requires a finding that the party seeking the injunction has a “likelihood of success” when the case is finally resolved:

Typically the elements weighed by a judge are (a) a balancing of harms as between what will happen if an injunction does issue, compared to if it does not; (b) whether the harm sought to be prevented is “irreparable harm” – meaning the relief sought is the only way to compensate the party seeking it or whether plain old money will do the trick without too much guesswork or speculation regarding the harm done; (c) a consideration of whether the issuance of the injunction will be in the public interest and (d) whether the party seeking the injunction can show its likelihood of success on the merits of the underlying legal claim.

This last element requires a judge to do a quick once-over of “the case” presented to him and evaluate whether the party seeking the injunction has put forth a plausible and appropriately authenticated prima facie factual set of claims which, in the framework of the applicable legal doctrines set out by the plaintiff, looks like a winner.

So, at least for the time being, the God-King’s order rescinding DACA is on hold.

“We are going to do DACA”

Meanwhile, the God-King met with Senate and House leaders yesterday to discuss immigration and … well … it was a mess:

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) has been on the front lines of Congress’s immigration debate for more than a decade, but after he left a meeting with President Donald Trump on the issue Tuesday, he said his “head is spinning.”

Legislators convened in the White House to see if they could make any headway on a legislative fix for the now-sunsetting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — what many Democrats say is a prerequisite for averting a government shutdown on January 19. The meeting, by all accounts, was a doozy.

In the extended bipartisan meeting, which was televised and mostly open to the press, Trump appeared to agree to almost everything presented to him — even if it came from Democrats.
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“We are going to do DACA, and then we then we can start immediately on the Phase 2 which would be comprehensive immigration — I would like that,” Trump said. “I think a lot of people would like to do DACA first.”

At one point in the meeting, Trump seemed so amenable to Democratic demands that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had to jump in and remind Trump of the Republican position on DACA: that any agreement needs to come with substantial border security.

Put simply, despite the headlines, nobody really agreed to anything.

“There is no new or special path to citizenship for these individuals in our bill”

Meanwhile, House Republicans offered their sort-of-a-plan in a Wall Street Journal article:

Our bill would provide $30 billion to build a wall, to invest in new technology, and to improve, modernize and expand ports of entry. It would add boots on the ground: an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents and 5,000 Customs and Border Protection officers. It would provide for the construction of additional ports of entry and a full implementation of the biometric entry-exit system, while authorizing the National Guard to provide aviation and intelligence support.
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Our bill would achieve these goals by cracking down on people who overstay their visas, by requiring employers to use the accurate and hugely successful E-Verify system to ensure that they hire only legal workers, and by making it easier to deport aliens who are gang members, who are aggravated felons, who fail to register as sex offenders, or who have multiple DUIs[…]

Our proposal allows the Justice Department to withhold grants from “sanctuary cities” — jurisdictions that refuse to allow their law-enforcement officers to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, even to the point of preventing Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers from entering local jails to take custody of criminal aliens. Sanctuary cities put innocent lives at risk[….]

Our bill would put an end to chain migration, the process by which citizens and green-card holders can sponsor extended family members for their own green cards (who in turn can eventually sponsor their own extended family members, ad infinitum). It also would stop the Diversity Visa program, which awards green cards by random lottery to people with no ties to the U.S. Neither of these programs prioritizes the skills of people entering the country.
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Our bill would allow DACA beneficiaries to receive a three-year renewable legal status, codifying the program the right way — by a duly enacted statute. But to be clear, there is no new or special path to citizenship for these individuals in our bill.

In fact there are no states or cities that refuse to allow ICE agents from entering local jails to take custody of criminal aliens. So-called “sanctuary cities” simply refuse to hold people – who are otherwise authorized for release – based on a mere request from federal immigration authorities. And for good reason. Such requests are often based on false information, such as misidentification based on a common name. There may be some Jonathan Weiss in the U.S. illegally, but that may not be the Jonathan Weiss being held in that jail.

Of course I’m kidding. You can tell Jonathan Weiss is here legally; just look at his name, for crying out loud. But if he were Juan Marrón then he’s probably illegal, because … umm … uhh … it’s-not-about-racism-dammit.

The point is, the local jail would face a serious lawsuit if they refused to release Jonathan Weiss Juan Marrón based on a mere request from federal authorities, and it turned out he’s a citizen or legal foreign resident. And the feds have already told the states: “If that lawsuit happens, you’re on your own.”

And that’s why many cities – and now the whole of California – have told the feds: “If you want us to hold this guy for you, go to a judge and get a warrant, you know, like it says in the Fourth Amendment.”

As for ending “chain migration,” that’s yet another wingnut boogeyman. And when it comes to DACA, Democrats will never accept permanent “temporary worker” status as a solution, nor should we.

So the House Republican bill amounts to “Give us everything on our wingnut wet dream list, and you get exactly nothing in return.” Or, as Republicans describe it, “compromise.”

“A conservative counter-conspiracy theory”

Also, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) released the transcript of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. You can read the whole thing, but the key kernel is that this debunks yet another half-baked wingnut conspiracy theory:

Because conservatives are “just asking questions” about the FBI and Steele, they tend not to explicitly state what they think happened. But in broad strokes, the theory is something like this:

— Trump’s political enemies paid Fusion GPS to write a dossier full of debunked claims about his connections to Russia.
“Deep state” anti-Trump elements in the FBI used this false opposition research document to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant targeting Michael Flynn.

— The Flynn surveillance, which never should have been allowed because it was based on the phony dossier, was used to catch him in a lie about a meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that was completely innocuous.

— This got Flynn fired and, by making meetings with Kislyak into a hot-button issue, also forced Sessions into recusing himself, which in turn gave Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (whom Trump has decided is “a Democrat,” though it’s not clear why) the opportunity to appoint Robert Mueller as special counsel.

— Mueller, in turn, is buddies with former FBI Director James Comey, who is bitter about having been fired by Trump (Comey under this theory is a bad guy because he went too easy on Hillary Clinton over the email server, and we’re not supposed to pay attention to the fact that Trump’s stated reason for firing him was that he was too hard on Clinton) and is therefore leading an anti-Trump witch hunt.

That bullshit melts down to a smelly puddle if rained on by the fact that the FBI began investigating the Trump-Russia connection months before Christopher Steele shared his ‘dossier’ with them. And … they did:

A New York Times report earlier this month indicated that the investigation began not with Steele’s dossier but with Papadopoulos’s drunken conversation with Downer, Australia’s ambassador to the UK and a former Australian foreign minister.

Simpson’s testimony appears to independently corroborate what the New York Times already reported — the FBI listened to Steele because they already had an investigation into this question underway, an investigation that was launched because Papadopoulos’s conversation with Downer was shared with other Australian officials, who ultimately passed word of it to their American counterparts once the hacking of Democratic email accounts became a big deal.

As best as we can tell, this, rather than Steele’s memo, was the start of the investigation.

Of course, that’s exactly why Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee kept Simpson’s testimony buried. It’s a lot harder to push a conspiracy theory if everyone knows you have evidence that the theory is bullshit. Now we know they did have that evidence … all along.

“An unqualified victory”

And finally, if you care about picky details like whether an election actually matters, yesterday a federal court held that North Carolina’s redistricting plan was in illegal partisan gerrymander:

Rather than seeking to advance any democratic or constitutional interest, the state legislator responsible for drawing the 2016 Plan said he drew the map to advantage Republican candidates because he “think[s] electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats.” […] But that is not a choice the Constitution allows legislative mapdrawers to make. Rather, “the core principle of [our] republican government [is] that the voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.”

The key is that the court held that an explicitly partisan gerrymander is illegal. Courts have often overturned biased redistricting plans based on a showing of racial discrimination, but courts have generally held that ‘purely’ partisan gerrymandering is okay. Courts are now starting to rethink that:

The majority opinion by Judge Wynn is an unqualified victory for the plaintiffs, finding multiple grounds (including equal protection, the First Amendment, and the Elections Clause) for ruling that North Carolina’s plan is unconstitutional.
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The Supreme Court is already considering two partisan gerrymandering cases, one from Wisconsin and one from Maryland. No doubt NC will appeal this case to the Supreme Court, which is likely to hold it in light of the decision in those cases (it would be too late, absent extraordinary briefing, to set the case for argument this term). It likely will be sent back to this court to reconsider in light of what the Court does.

Of course, the Supreme Court may hold that partisan gerrymandering is Still Just Fine, until Democrats hold majorities and do it, in which case it will suddenly be The Evil Of All Evils. But at least for now, it’s a win for those of us who think voters should choose their leaders, rather than leaders choosing their voters….

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Photo Credit: Erik McGregor (Getty Images)

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Good day and good nuts