Lady Liberty Talks about the Wall and other happenings


Lady Liberty has her say about The Wall: Mitch Albom

“You know, for centuries, I’ve been the image of our nation’s borders. You thought of coming here? You thought of me.”

 

I went to visit the Statue of Liberty. I missed the last boat back. As I gazed at the American shoreline, I heard a voice.

“So, what do you think?”

I turned. Lady Liberty was talking to me.

“I think I’m hallucinating,” I said.

“Don’t be shy. I don’t often get to speak. It’s hard to talk with people crawling up your robe.”

“Well …” I said. “What’s on your mind?”

“What do you think? About the symbol?”

“You? I think you’re amazing. Inspiring. Incred–”

“Not me. The new symbol. The Wall.”

“Oh.”

Lady Liberty sighed. “You know, for more than a century, I’ve been the image of our nation’s borders. You thought of coming here? You thought of me.

“But now? Now when people around the world think of America, they’re going to picture a wall — a really long, ugly wall.”

She shook her crown. “It won’t even be green.”

“No, no,” I insisted. “We’re much more than that. We’re a huge nation. Rich. Diverse.”

“So is China,” she said. “But what’s the first structure you think of with that country?”

She had me there.

“What’s the purpose of this wall?” she asked.

“To keep people out.”

“Hmm.” She pointed her torch down to her base.

“See those?”

“Your really big feet?”

“No. The broken chains I’m stepping out of. They stand for freedom from oppression. Aren’t people coming here seeking freedom from oppression?”

“Some,” I said. “Some just want jobs.”

“So they’re poor?”

“Many of them, yes.”

“See that?” She pointed down with her tablet.

“Your toenails?”

“Lower. On the base. The sonnet. Read it.”

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

“Pretty good, huh?” she said.

“Pretty good,” I replied.

“I’ll bet The Wall doesn’t have a golden door.”

She had me there.

“It’s complicated,” I tried to explain. “Back when you were built, people came to follow their dreams.”

“Aren’t today’s immigrants doing that?”

“But they’re not going through proper channels.”

“How long do proper channels take?”

“Depends on the country. In some cases, 20 years.”

“Hmm.” She looked off to Ellis Island. “Did your family come through there?”

“Yes. Early last century.”

“Did they have to wait 20 years?”

“No.”

“Maybe the laws need more fixing than the borders.”

She stared at me. I think she raised an eyebrow.

“Some illegal immigrants commit crimes,” I said.

“More than citizens commit crimes?”

“Actually,” I mumbled, “most data show it’s less.”

“Hmm,” she said. She had a way of saying that.

 

“And when these ‘illegals’ come, do they work?”

“Yes. They work so cheap. They take our jobs.”

“Who’s hiring them?”

“Factories. Small business. Households.”

“Are you punishing the employers? Are you building a wall around the factories?”

“Don’t be silly,” I said.

“Hmm,” she said.

She adjusted her crown, with its seven spikes to symbolize seven seas and continents. “Do you know my original name? It was ‘Liberty Enlightening the World.’ ”

She looked south. “Will they say that about a wall?”

“The big fight now is who’s gonna pay for it.”

“I was paid for by foreigners.”

“Hey. That’s exactly what our president wants!”

“I was a gift.”

“Oh, yeah.”

The sun began to rise. “Well, bon voyage,” Lady Liberty said, lifting her arm. “I must get back to work.”

“Work?” I said. “But you’re a statue.”

“No,” she said, sternly, “I’m a symbol. I stand for something. And you know what? Standing for something, every day and night, is really hard work.”

“Hmm,” I said. And I thought I saw her smile.

Mitch Albom is a columnist for the Detroit Free Press, where this column first appeared. Follow him on Twitter @MitchAlbom.

 

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Artist Captures Striking Portraits Of Refugee Children Trump Would Turn Away

Children make up more than half of the world’s refugee population.

President Donald Trump has painted refugees as “bad dudes” with “bad intentions.” In reality, they are largely women, children and families fleeing desperate situations in their home countries.

A new exhibit, titled “Refuge,” brings this juxtaposition to light by showcasing the refugee children who stand to lose the most from Trump’s policies.

Visual artist Claire Salvo conceptualized the project last fall as a way to de-politicize the conversation around refugee resettlement. In particular, she wanted to highlight the fact that more than half of the world’s refugees are children, and many of them have only known life inside a refugee camp.

CLAIRE SALVO
Ashe, an eleven year old refugee from Somalia, now living in Lancaster with her family.

“I wanted to remove the political aspect and just make it human,” Salvo told The Huffington Post. “There’s something about kids everyone can relate to. Everyone can agree it’s not a child’s choice ― it’s no one’s choice ― to be a refugee. They have no say in the matter.”

Salvo worked with her local branch of Church World Service, a refugee aid organization, to locate families that would be interested in participating. In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where the artist lives, it wasn’t hard.

Lancaster is known for being “America’s refugee capital.” The city takes in roughly 20 times more refugees per capita than any other city in the U.S. In 2016, Church World Service Lancaster helped resettle more than 400 refugees, nearly half of whom were children under the age of 18.

“These are the people that President Trump wants to close our doors to. They are some of the world’s most vulnerable people,” Stephanie Gromek, community resource coordinator for Church World Service Lancaster, told HuffPost.

The organization connected Salvo with three families who expressed interest in participating, and the artist spent the last few months photographing, interviewing and sketching fifteen children from the families. Salvo shot the photographs on an iPhone and did the drawings with charcoal. She’ll be auctioning the pieces off starting in May, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated back to the participating families, the artist said.

All three of the families arrived in the U.S. speaking only their native language and “with little more than clothes on their back,” said Gromek.

One was a Muslim family from Somalia ― one of the banned countries included on Trump’s initial refugee order ― who just arrived in the U.S. in December. The other two families are related and living under one roof. They hail from Ethiopia and are members of the Anuak tribe, a persecuted ethnic minority.

The process of resettlement is an arduous one. Refugees recommended for resettlement in the U.S. by the U.N. undergo a stringent, two-year long vetting process that includes various security and medical clearances as well as cultural orientation.

Once they’re cleared for the journey, refugees have their tickets and travel booked through the International Organization for Migration on loan with no interest charged.

“It’s their first line of credit once they get into the U.S., and they’re expected to pay that travel loan back,” Gromek said. “It’s a way for them to establish themselves with credit.”

But Gromek added it can take years for refugees to pay back the loan, especially if they have a large family.

“Refugees are some of the hardest working people I’ve ever met,” Salvo said. “Many are supporting families of upwards of ten people on minimum wage, but they’re just so grateful to be here.”

During her interviews with the families, Salvo said she asked them: “What’s your greatest hope for life in America.” The language barrier made it difficult for her to get across the broader scope of the question, Salvo said. But one of the mothers, named Faduma, was able to communicate that what she wanted most was a washer and dryer.

One day, Salvo was leaving her house when she saw that a neighbor had left a washer out on the curb. The photographer said she called a friend to help her lift the washer into her car, and she drove it down to the CWS office with a note that it was for Faduma.

“The things many refugees want are so basic,” Salvo said, “and they’re things we take for granted, like not having to walk a mile to laundromat.”

Refugee children have their own basic tasks to attend to once they arrive in the U.S., Gromek said. These include learning English, getting various immunizations and enrolling in school. Within a month, most refugee children have started their classes and are on their way to becoming everyday American kids.

“Children are resilient in their own right, and refugee children are even more so I believe because they’ve been through so much,” Gromek told HuffPost. “They end up thriving.”

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Like Many Americans, A Judge On The Court Weighing Trump’s Refugee Ban Was A Refugee

Judge Alex Kozinski’s family fled communism when he was a child.

GINA FERAZZI VIA GETTY IMAGES
Judge Alex Kozinski isn’t assigned to the three-judge panel considering a federal court’s halt of the travel ban.

LOS ANGELES ― A federal judge who sits on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is set to rule on a block of President Donald Trump’s refugee ban, came to the United States as a refugee when he was a boy.

Alex Kozinski, one of the most well-respected judges on the 9th Circuit, based in San Francisco, fled with his parents, Moses and Sabine, from communist Romania in 1962. Kozinski has spoken publicly about his immigration experience for years, even joking that he went from being a committed communist as a boy to an “instant capitalist” after his first trip outside of the Iron Curtain to Vienna ― on his way to the United States ― where he was introduced to “bubble gum, chocolate and bananas.

COURTESY OF ALEX KOZINSKI
Alex with his father, Moses, and his mother, Sabine, about a year before the Kozinskis left Romania.

But his journey came full circle on Monday when HIAS ― a refugee agency that has been assisting Jews and others fleeing persecution since 1881 ― filed a legal brief with the 9th Circuit in strong opposition to Trump’s travel ban. HIAS was the same group that helped to resettle the Kozinski family, eventually helping them get all the way to the United States.

Until contacted by The Huffington Post, HIAS officials were unaware that one of the children it helped decades ago was now serving on the court to which it was appealing.

Officials at HIAS searched their records and found official documentation of arrival for the Kozinski family. HIAS provided it to The Huffington Post, and it is printed here with the permission of Judge Kozinski.

The Kozinski family arrived in Baltimore in late October 1962. Alex was just 12, Moses was 47 and Sabine 43.

HIAS

“[HIAS] was very generous and kind to us in all respects,” Kozinski told The Huffington Post of his journey to America. Kozinski recalled that the paperwork, all arranged and prepared by HIAS, was completed in Vienna around 1962. The agency then supported the Kozinskis while Moses and Sabine sought employment.

“Then we came to the U.S. on a Sabena four-propeller airliner ― it took about 18 hours to cross the Atlantic, with one stop somewhere in Newfoundland,” Kozinski said. The Kozinskis landed in New York, where they passed through customs, like so many immigrants before them and after them. They briefly settled in Baltimore, where HIAS continued to support the family until Moses and Sabine found steady work.

“Our caseworker was named Mrs. Friedman,” Kozinski said. “I remember her quite well. She smoked Parliaments.”

After about five years in Baltimore, the Kozinskis moved to California in search of warmer weather. They’d settle in the Los Angeles area, where Moses would open a grocery store and Alex would eventually graduate from UCLA’s law school. After several years of private practice and then clerking for Supreme Court Justices Warren Burger and Anthony Kennedy (while Kennedy was appointed to the 9th Circuit), President Ronald Reagan appointed Kozinski first to U.S. Claims Court and then, in 1985, to the 9th Circuit.

That HIAS helped Kozinski’s family escape totalitarianism doesn’t disqualify him from ruling on the case. “They’re an amicus, not a party, and any association I had with them ended half a century ago,” Kozinski said. (Indeed, judges routinely rule on cases that involve organizations they previously had involvement with. But Kozinski isn’t assigned to the 9th Circuit motions panel of three judges who will hear the case. The panel consists of William C. Canby Jr., Michelle Friedland and Richard Clifton. As the case progresses, the court may grant a hearing before an 11-judge panel.)

Along the way, Kozinski may or may not get to express his views on the ultimate legality of Trump’s travel ban. But even if he doesn’t, the judge has already given the public a taste of how he feels about the federal government’s power over immigration ― and how it can have a profound effect no matter who is in power.

“We may soon find ourselves with new conflicts between the President and the states,” Kozinski wrote last week in an impassioned dissent to an order by the full 9th Circuit declining to hear a challenge by the state of Arizona to President Barack Obama’s policy aimed at helping young undocumented immigrants. His colleagues had declined to take up the case again, leaving in place a ruling that more or less forces Arizona to grant driver’s licenses to those covered by the policy.

But that result, under the Constitution, left Kozinski uneasy ― perhaps because of who is now the nation’s chief executive.

“Executive power favors the party, or perhaps simply the person, who wields it,” Kozinski warned his own court. “That power is the forbidden fruit of our politics, irresistible to those who possess it and reviled by those who don’t. Clear and stable structural rules are the bulwark against that power, which shifts with the sudden vagaries of our politics. In its haste to find a doctrine that can protect the policies of the present, our circuit should remember the old warning: May all your dreams come true.”

COURTESY OF ALEX KOZINSKI
Moses Kozinski and his son, Alex, at age 10.

Trump’s controversial executive order temporarily bans all refugees and indefinitely bars Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. The order also suspends travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. The policy, which covers 200 million people, sparked chaos and protests at many U.S. airports last week as travelers from the targeted countries were detained and lawyers were denied access to the detainees.

The order was soon challenged in court by multiple states. On Friday, a nationwide restraining order was issued by U.S. District Judge James Robart, who ruled that the order was likely to cause immediate and irreparable harm to the states of Washington and Minnesota to education, business, family relations and the freedom to travel. Over the weekend, the Justice Department filed an appeal to immediately restore the ban, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit denied that request. The appeals court is now preparing to hear full arguments in the case.

On Monday, HIAS filed in support of the stay of the executive order. HIAS argued that Trump’s executive order has “fractured many refugee families” and “risks the lives of many who relied on the promises of the United States when they received their visas.” The order, HIAS argues, closes the door to avoiding “immense dangers” they currently face in their home countries.

Trump has made a habit of smearing the judicial system and specifically attacking judges who challenge his authority or who issue rulings that unravel his plans. Over the weekend Trump blasted U.S. District Judge James Robart after he issued a temporary restraining order in Seattle last week, blocking Trump’s immigration order for the time being.

Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!

As a candidate, Trump also attacked Gonzalo Curiel, a federal judge who presided over lawsuits against Trump University. Trump accused the judge of an “absolute conflict” in the case because of the judge’s Mexican heritage. He repeatedly referred to Curiel as “Mexican” and said he couldn’t be an impartial judge because of Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the Mexican border. Curiel is a U.S. citizen, born in Indiana.

Kozinski is American, too.

ALEX KOZINSKI
Moses Kozinski at his store in Hollywood in 1971. His son went to UCLA and became a lawyer, then a judge.

CORRECTION: This article previously suggested that Kozinski was the only former refugee on the 9th Circuit. Judge Jacqueline Nguyen is also a former refugee.

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Harvard Law Prof: Trump’s Handling of Immigration Order Could be Grounds for Impeachment

The Resistance Continues, but only so long as we do.  One good resource is the Women’s March Movement on Facebook (another march is reportedly being planned); and I, of course, will continue the fight here as best I can.

Namaste,

Barbara

Welcome to Trumpistan


JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS

TIN-POT AMERICA

In Trumpistan, Things Fall Apart

Even after winning the presidency, Trump can’t capture the love and adulation he craves above all else.

JOY-ANN REID

Welcome to Trumpistan, a country two weeks into the tumultuous rule of a miserable, cruel and seemingly captive president. He spends his days glowering in his too small, too old, not gold enough, non-penthouse, columned prison in Washington, furiously flipping through cable news channels to see what the pundits are saying about him, watching his past interviews with the sound off and barking at his aides to “change that tie!” … “dress more feminine!” … “sound more confident when you defend the president!” … “and damnit, Make The People Love The Donald! Sell, sell, sell!!!”)

Outside the White House’s iron gates are the protests; ferocious ones, that spread from Washington to points literally around the country and the world, animated by the serial cruelties of the administration, and the threats to the rights of minorities, not to mention to the very image of a nation literally built as the refuge for the “wretched refuse from teeming shores.”

Surely, this unsplendid isolation must be what it’s like to be a third-world potentate; cloaked in power and kleptocratic gain; wrapped in the false adulation of sycophants, Party Men, and those wily enough to use the ruler’s narcissism for their own ideological ends; burdened by the fanatical devotion of followers who await literal miracles, but denied the love he truly craves: from the elites and the masses he pretends, for the sake of his own sanity, to loathe.

Well Mr. President, it all feels pretty tin-pot banana republic to the rest of us, too. After all, your daughter and your son-in-law literally rubbed their sparkly party clothes in our faces while your Muslim Ban wreaked havoc on families and sparked furious demonstrations nationwide.

Trump’s government is running like a rickety jalopy jerry-rigged by an amateur mechanic who’s too full of himself to admit he doesn’t really know anything about cars. And so it’s no surprise that even after just two weeks, what defines Trumpistan most is chaos.

There was the chaotic rollout of an ill-formed executive order barring entry to Muslims from seven nations, but which managed to snare the former prime minister of Norway, along with several grannies and little kids.

There was the chaotic operation in Yemen, approved at dinner with the help of the president’s caretaker son-in-law (a 35-year-old real estate developer),  a Muslim-hating, Putin-loving military intelligence washout now exacting his revenge on the military establishment that turfed him out, and a right wing demagogue bent on a global, white Christian anti-Islamic crusade.  The operation was, of course, a tragic failure, resulting in the deaths of a Navy SEAL and an 8-year-old girl, plus countless other civilians. Trump, for his part, didn’t even watch his very first military operation as commander in chief from the situation room. Perhaps, as during the Vietnam war, he had better things to do.

And there were the chaotic, bizarre phone feuds with the presidents of Mexico and Australia … Australia! … which Trump disdainfully compared to his warm, wonderful telephone chat with his bosom friend and campaign surrogate Vladimir Putin—whose enemies keep turning up dead in Moscow, or dragged off with their heads covered in burlap.

And how do we know the details of those phone calls? Because alarmed government aides are leaking like a shot-up bucket, perhaps out of sheer terror about what this inept yet ideological administration might do next, and perhaps … unbelievably … in hopes of communicating with the president through the TV.

Even Black History Month and Holocaust Remembrance Day — two “gimmes” for any president, went awry. The February 1st table in the Roosevelt Room was festooned with the small coterie of black Trumpkins who have become fixtures on cable TV shows – including one of Trump’s favorite “prosperity preachers,”  Cleveland’s Darrell Scott and “The Apprentice” super-villain Omarosa Manigault. Trump proceeded to declare that Frederick Douglass “has done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more” as the group sat there with straight faces. Meanwhile, the vice president’s Black History Month tweet honored that great and totally not African-American Abraham Lincoln (though in fairness, upon emancipating the enslaved, President Lincoln was lampooned by his detractors as the dictator, Emperor Abraham Africanus) Also, the Holocaust WAS about massacring Jews, no matter what Team Trump, with it’s weird alt-right Rasputin corps says. Better luck next year, fellas. You get to do this three more times.

The president’s spokesman presides over a daily “chaos maintenance exercise” where he faces a press corps seeded with friendly Christian and conservative blogs, (and now, laudatory questions from Trump-supporting local newsies on Skype!) sprinkled among the skeptical D.C. reporters. So Sean Spicer explains the inexplicable in glowing, almost Baghdad Bobian terms, while doing his best to look less and less like an actual hostage. After all, Mr. Trump cares first and foremost about having his people look the part.

And of course, there’s the phenomenon that is the president’s senior advisor, Kellyanne Conway, whose job, apparently, is to make him look honest and serious by comparison.

Trump himself, by all accounts (and by “accounts” I mean “leaks…”), appears unhappy on the throne. I guess it’s turning out to be less awesome being the POTUS than he thought, though boy did that Barack Obama make it look cool. Maybe that’s why  team Trump keeps trying to blame every one of their policies on the previous president (and Donald and Melania even copied Obama’s 2009 inaugural cake and nicked a photo of his massive crowds for their website, before they got caught and had to take the picture down.)

Trump has managed to find some fans. The religious right is giddy over the reality-show presidency, having been paid in full for its curious devotion to the man who says he has never asked God for forgiveness, and who chose an attack on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s version of “The Apprentice” as his opening at the National Prayer Breakfast rather than, I don’t know, a few words about Jesus. In the transaction, they get a Supreme Court nominee they hope will overturn Roe v. Wade, from a man who clearly hasn’t given the issue much thought, and was publicly pro-choice for decades.

And Wall Street? Well they’ve got to be positively gleeful that Trump and his Goldman Sachs cabinet are un-draining the swamp and re-opening the casino by gutting even the rule that investment managers should act in their clients’ best interests, rather than their own. Take that, MAGA retirees.

 Trump’s longtime friend, shock jock Howard Stern, with whom he shared years of raunchy on-air sex talk, including about Trump’s own daughter, Ivanka… spilled on his radio show this week that he thinks Trump made a big mistake by running for president. Stern said he fears the lack of love and adulation from the public, and especially from the Hollywood elite whose favor Trump covets most, may prove too much for the president’s mental health.

Well great. That means Trump could become even stranger, more erratic, and more obsessive and compulsive than he is now. That leaves little reason to hope he will spend less time forcing people to listen to his stories about how amazing his election victory was, and how large (sigh) his inaugural crowds really, really were, no matter what those non-alternative facts say.

With a claque of ideologues swirling around him, pushing him to be more outrageous; to alienate more non-white, non-Christian groups, and to light the fires of Leninist revolution and keep them burning; a Republican Party unwilling to summon the morality or the patriotism to stop him or even slow him down (even as their staffs leak like sieves to reporters); Democrats adrift in a sea of powerlessness and confusion, and a resistance that’s growing, not tiring, and as such is starting to spook even Trump-friendly corporate titans, from Uber to Tesla to Nordstrom, it seems this Trumpian nightmare is one we may not be able to wake ourselves up from.

And by “we,” I mean the country, the world, and Donald Trump.

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