Howmuch.net Removes FAIR’s Biased Illegal Immigration Information

Recently I posted a rebuttal to Wayne Grudem’s attempt to theologically defend Donald Trump’s border wall. A commenter on that post cited a Howmuch.net article claiming that the costs of illegal immigration are far greater than building Trump’s wall.

The source for that Howmuch.net article was the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s (FAIR) widely quoted estimate about costs of illegal immigration. Howmuch.net had reconfigured those claims and included them in their article. FAIR claims illegal immigration costs the states over $100 billion per year.

Another reader then contacted Howmuch.net and expressed concerns about the source of the information in the article. Earlier this week, I learned that Howmuch.net reviewed FAIR’s website and information about the organization and has now deleted the page from their website.

FAIR’s estimates have been widely condemned as biased and flawed. Those who founded FAIR have a clear bias against immigrants of color and have consistently sought to limit all immigration, not just illegal immigration. FAIR is an organization has supported Donald Trump when he takes their hard line.

A representative of Howmuch.net sent this statement to me about their decision to remove the article.

HowMuch.net seeks to provide interesting data visualizations and articles to explore financial and economic topics for a broad audience of readers. We always strive to use fair and impartial sources for our data. It was recently brought to our attention that an article using data from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) did not meet our standards for impartiality. We immediately took down the article from our website. We do not subscribe to or advocate for any particular public policy position, and as a result, FAIR does not meet our requirements.

The founder of FAIR, John Tanton, once remarked to supporters that whites were losing their majority and challenged them:

As whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?

The history of FAIR is in nativism and resistance to immigration of any kind which isn’t white.  I commend the proactive reader and the folks at Howmuch.net for their speedy response to the legitimate concerns.

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Wayne Grudem Channels Trump on Immigration

We Need a Wall Because the Bible Has Walls

Yesterday, Wayne Grudem came out on the side of building a wall along the Southern border. His reason: The Bible has walls.

Walls gave peace and security. In the world of the Old Testament, people built walls around cities to protect themselves from thieves, murderers, and other criminals, and from foreign invaders who would seek to destroy the city. People could still enter the city, but they had to do so by the gate, so that city officials would have some control over who was coming in and going out. Today’s debate is about a larger area – a national border, not a city – but the principles are the same.

The principles are the same, says Grudem. We need a wall to keep out all those thieves, murderers, and criminals who are invading. He seems to be channeling Trump who famously said in 2015:

They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

It doesn’t sound like either person has a very high view of people seeking to come here.

Coming to America

Throughout his article, Grudem doesn’t seem to recognize that people can seek asylum legally.

Objection: “We should be a nation that welcomes immigrants.” I agree wholeheartedly – if they come legally. But it is no kindness to them if the lack of a wall tempts them to risk death by walking across miles of parched desert, at the mercy of violent gangs, and then come into the US without legal documentation, only to live here as a permanent legal underclass, easily exploited, living in constant fear of discovery. In addition, it diminishes respect for the law and destabilizes the nation when millions of people exist in the shadows, living outside the legal recordkeeping functions of the nation.

Grudem says we should welcome immigrants if they come here legally. It is legal to request asylum. A wall won’t change that. People will still need to make the journey from unsafe homes to request asylum.

A Wall Isn’t a Policy

Grudem seems to assume that a wall is a policy.

Objection: “These are good people who are just seeking a better life.” Yes, many of them are, and we should welcome them – if they come legally. But we can’t ignore the fact that many others will not become “good neighbors” – some are drug runners, gang members, and even terrorists. A wall makes it possible to screen out the people who have previously been deported for felonies and others who are most likely to commit crimes or simply become a drain on the economy rather than getting a productive job.

An effective border wall would also be the best way to keep children together with their parents. Under the present system, families (1) enter the US illegally and (2) are caught, then (3) they plead for asylum, and (4) they are incarcerated until their asylum petition can be evaluated. But if we had a completed wall, such requests for asylum would be decided at the border, before they ever entered the US. We would never have to detain either parents or children on US soil in the first place.

I don’t believe a wall by itself would do anything he says it would. The present system is the way it is because of a mash up of current law and Trump administration policy. A wall alone doesn’t create the policy which governs what happens with people who want to come into the country.

Congress must craft legislation to make sane and compassionate policy. According to polls most people want families kept together, and DACA recipients to remain in the country.  Most oppose the wall.  Most citizens don’t want open borders, but rather secure borders with compassionate application for refugees searching for a safe and better life.

America Doesn’t Use the Bible to Settle Policy

I don’t think the Bible has much to say about walls in a republic which is not a theocracy. America isn’t a Christian nation so it doesn’t matter much if the Bible seems to teach it or not. We need a consensus which is humane and compassionate while protecting everybody’s interests. In my opinion, Grudem badly misses the mark.

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Letter from Rep Mike Kelly on Separation of Children from Parents at the Border

As a follow up to my call last week and an email on the same subject, Rep. Mike Kelly sent this email to me answering whether or not there is a law requiring the separation of children from asylum seeking families. See this post for my answer from his staff.

June 15, 2018

Dear Mr. Throckmorton,

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy for criminal illegal entry into the United States. I greatly appreciate that you have taken the time to contact me on this important issue.

In April of 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum for all federal prosecutors with instructions to follow when prosecuting cases related to illegal immigration. Congress has already codified many of these actions, which have been sporadically applied over the years. This includes prioritizing cases involving the unlawful transportation or harboring of aliens, especially when the individual was illegally brought into the United States to facilitate future criminal activities. The memo also directs prosecutors to pursue cases involving entry into the country by individuals who have already been convicted for illegal entry in the past, especially when the defendant has a criminal history, gang affiliation, or other aggravating circumstances.

Since 1997, it has been U.S. policy to release undocumented immigrant children rather than hold them in federal custody while their cases are considered. Children are released first to their parents if possible, to other adult relatives if not, and to licensed programs if no relatives are available. This policy was confirmed in 2015 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which clarified the requirement for the federal government to quickly release undocumented children, regardless of whether they were apprehended at the border alone or with family members, and even if their parents are facing criminal proceedings. Under the Administration’s memorandum, immigrants who are prosecuted for crossing the border illegally will be able to apply for asylum, but may be detained while their cases are considered. If granted asylum, any conviction for illegally entering the country is vacated. Families who do not illegally enter the country and instead use the legal process of requesting asylum at ports of entry are kept together while their request is processed.

The United States has the world’s most generous immigration system – one which attracts individuals and families from around the globe seeking security and their own experiences of the American Dream. While we should continue to draw on this spirit of acceptance and understanding, this cannot come at the cost of violating the U.S. rule of law. Children should not be subject to detention in federal custody, but failure to prosecute crimes related to illegal entry only encourages further criminal activity, endangering the lives of immigrants and U.S. citizens alike.

A recent report by the Department of Homeland Security showed a 315% increase in illegal aliens fraudulently using children to pose as family units to gain entry into the country in the past two years. These individuals have attempted to take advantage of previous leniency to commit horrendous crimes like human trafficking. It is critical that the United States maintains the rule of law and discourages future criminal activity while maintaining our status as a welcoming nation for unjustly persecuted persons and those in countries of conflict. Rest assured, I will continue to monitor this situation and will keep your thoughts in mind should any relevant legislation come before me for a vote.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this important issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff if I can be of assistance in the future. It is an honor and a privilege to represent Western Pennsylvania in the United States Congress.

If you would like to hear more from me on this issue and others, please subscribe to my newsletter at www.kelly.house.gov.

Sincerely, 


Mike Kelly
Member of Congress

I continue to look into the specifics of this tragedy. A briefing by the Dept. of Homeland Security on Friday revealed that nearly 2,000 children had been removed from their parents, some of which were from asylum seeking parents.

I followed up with a specific question asking about a law (there isn’t one) and whether or not he might be mistaken about asylum seeking families being separated. According to news reports, such families are experiencing separation no matter where they present themselves. I intend to keep an open mind, however, because there are so many conflicting reports.

Rep. Mike Kelly’s Office: There is No Law that Requires Separation of Children from Asylum Seeking Families

UPDATE: On the 15th I received a letter from Mike Kelly’s office in response to an email I sent asking the same questions as in this post. See the letter here.

……………..

Today, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeated Donald Trump’s false claim that there is a law that requires children be removed from their asylum seeking parents at the U.S. border. Watch:

Because I couldn’t find a law nor has anyone supporting the policy cited a specific law, I called my representative Mike Kelly (R-PA). The fellow who answered the phone (I didn’t get his name) said he would help me find that law. As he searched for it, he engaged in a bit of discussion with me about people illegally crossing the border. However, my question was about those presenting for asylum with children together as a family.

After searching and talking for about 10 minutes, Rep. Kelly’s staffer concluded that there is no law requiring the separation of children from their parents. He indicated that the practice fell within the jurisdiction of the border agencies and immigration officials and ultimately the Trump administration.

Thus, according to the office of my Trump supporting Republican representative, President Trump and Sarah Huckabee Sanders are deceiving the American people by saying there is a law which they are simply enforcing. 

How low can Sanders and company go? Today she invoked the Bible after Jeff Sessions also did to justify this awful policy. Watch the video above to the end.

In one way, I am glad that Kelly’s office acknowledged that there is no law requiring the Trump administration policy. However, on the other hand, it is discouraging to know that Rep. Kelly must silently know that the story being sold to the American people is false.

Yesterday, Liberty Counsel Celebrated Christian Freedom Day

Yesterday, like presidents before him, President Trump issued a proclamation commemorating Thomas Jefferson’s work in writing Virginia’s

Cover of Getting Jefferson Right, used by permission
Cover of Getting Jefferson Right, used by permission

Statute for Religious Freedom (full text here) which was adopted by the Virginia legislature on January 16, 1786. The law ended the establishment of the Anglican church in Virginia and recognized freedom of conscience in the state.
Jefferson meant for that freedom of conscience to extend beyond Christian denominations to all religions or none. However, ultra-conservative Liberty Counsel does not appear to recognize the breadth of Jefferson’s work. In their press release, the Statute on Religious Freedom is described as follows:

Religious Freedom Day is celebrated in America each year on January 16 to commemorate the 232nd anniversary of the passing of the 1786 passage of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom that ended the state-established church in Virginia, finally protecting religious rights for all denominations. The Anglicans had fined, persecuted, jailed and murdered Christians who were not part of the state-established church. However, Jefferson, a lifelong fervent advocate for the rights of religious liberty and religious conscience, worked hard to protect and defend those Christians. (emphasis added)

Liberty Counsel’s presser refers to denominations of Christianity and to Jefferson’s work to defend Christians. In the past, Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver has questioned the status of Islam as a religious worthy of First Amendment protection. Staver is also of the David Barton school of thought regarding the First Amendment — that the purpose of it was to prevent a Christian denomination from being established. In other words, when the First Amendment says religion, it means Christianity.

What Did Jefferson Mean?

In fact, there was an effort in the Virginia legislature to limit the scope of Virginia’s statute to Christians during debate on the bill. Jefferson wrote about it in his autobiography:

The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason & right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally past; and a singular proposition proved that it’s protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read “departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion” the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of it’s protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan [Islam], the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.

According to Jefferson, the effort did not succeed. He meant his religious freedom bill to cover all people, of all religious ideas or no religious ideas.

What Religious Freedom Really Means Now

Ultimately, religious freedom at this particular time for this particular group means the freedom to discriminate against people, usually GLBT people in providing public services. In general, I think those who provide services to the public should provide them to GLBT people, even if they personally disagree with some aspect of those they serve.
But that’s just me and my beliefs. I know others believe differently, and the beauty of this nation is that they are free to believe it. What we will find out over the next few years is if they are free to discriminate based on that belief.

Breaking: Pakistani Supreme Court Stays the Execution of Asia Bibi

FreeAsiaBibiPakistani journalists are tweeting that Asia Bibi’s execution has been stayed. See below:


Ajmal Jami is a correspondent for Dunyan News.
I will add details and additional confirmation as it becomes available. Here is another news report about the stay of execution. And this from Dawn News also confirms the news. It doesn’t appear that Bibi is completely out of the woods but she has a stay on her sentence as of now.


For background, see this link
.

Prayers for Asia Bibi; Appeal Set for July 22

FreeAsiaBibiAccording to this Christian Today report, Christian housewife and mother Asia Bibi has one more chance for freedom. See also this report from the British-Pakistani Christian Association which provided the basis for the CT report.
Even if she is released, there are reports of a $5000 bounty for her life.
I recall many efforts to secure her freedom, from a British legislator to the mayor of Paris to the Pope.
Islamabad, Pakistan is nine hours ahead of us so it will be Wednesday very soon. Join me in praying for Bibi’s release and safety.

Bryan Fischer Minimizes Slavery to Attack Gays

no Confederate flagOf late, lots of conservatives are voicing opposition to the Confederate flag. However, at least one can’t get his mind off gays long enough to join in.
Demoted AFA spokesperson Bryan Fischer minimizes slavery and the symbolism of the Confederate flag to attack gays.  In an op-ed on something called “Cowgernation,” Fischer rants:
 

But if we are going to remove symbols of oppression from our culture, why stop with the Confederate flag? By any objective measure, the rainbow flag of the Gay Reich should be next.

Comparing American slavery to some bakers who were fined for not baking a cake, Fischer accuses gay lobbyists of being slave owners:

The slaveholding South has risen again, after a fashion, only this time all the plantations are owned and operated by the Human Rights Campaign. In today’s world, even if its critics are right, the Confederacy ain’t got nothing on the haters in the homosexual movement.

One may agree with the bakers and still cringe when someone compares American slavery with doing business now.
More disturbing is the fact that Fischer can’t bring himself to condemn the Confederacy (“even if its critics are right,” he says, implying they aren’t).
 

Briefs and Updates: Uganda, Scott Lively, Mars Hill Church, IOTC and Steven Sotloff

I am not surprised that Uganda’s Parliament will again debate an Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The world famous bill passed Parliament late last year and was signed by President Museveni earlier this year only to be thrown out by a Ugandan court due to a procedural problem during passage.
[youtube]http://youtu.be/F5Jll-VG0JA[/youtube]
Scott Lively says he’ll drop out of the MA governor’s race if his tea party opponent wins the GOP nomination. Reaction from the rest of MA? Crickets.
In light of Mark Driscoll’s 6 week break, September’s Mars Hill Church vision breakfast has been cancelled.
Instead of executive elder Dave Bruskas, Josh McPherson of Grace City Church in Wenatchee, WA will preach this Sunday at Mars Hill Church – Bellevue.
I note the following tweet and am working to confirm:


 
MD Del. Herb McMillan wants to make it very clear that he does not endorse Michael Peroutka for Anne Arundel County Council. If only GOP Attorney General candidate Jeffrey Pritzker would be as vocal. In light of Peroutka’s statement impying that Pritzker agreed with his views, I wrote Pritzker a couple of days ago for a clarification. So far no answer.
Join me in prayer for the family of Steven Sotloff.