WASHINGTON, June 24, 2018 — Members of Congress on Sunday hit back at President Trump’s most recent anti-immigrant rhetoric. Trump’s suggestions that immigrants and asylum seekers should not be entitled to due process as inconsistent with American values and a repudiation of the idea of the United States as a nation under the rule of law, said a Republican and a Democratic critic.
Trump’s latest outburst against the idea that immigrants deserve the protections of due process came in a Sunday morning tweet, in which the president declared: “We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country.”
“When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came,” Trump continued, adding that the current system is “a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order.”
Trump has railed against the idea that immigrants and asylum seekers should be entitled to have their case heard before an impartial immigration judge on several occasions since a Tuesday speech to members of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, during which he said he wanted “border security, not judges.”
Sen. Jeff Flake rebukes Trump; says it’s not ‘reflective of who we are’
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., characterized Trump’s recent talk of an “invasion” and his and his surrogates’ talk of immigrants as an “infestation” as consistent with his rhetoric on immigrants dating back to 2015, when the then-candidate kicked off his campaign for the presidency by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and accusing them of bringing crime and drugs.
“It’s all been rhetoric that’s not welcoming and reflective of who we are as a country,” said Flake, who announced that he’d retire from the Senate after this year.
Flake has become one of only a select few Republicans in Congress to regularly criticize the president and his regular attacks on the press and the ideas of democracy and the rule of law.
Flake, who spoke to BeltwayBreakfast by phone Sunday afternoon, was even more emphatic in his denunciation of Trump’s suggestion that immigrants are not entitled to due process.
“The hallmark of our country is the rule of law, and to say to those asylum seekers — ‘the huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ — that we’re not going to consider an asylum application, that’s not who we are,” Flake said.
Is there a constitutional law professor in the House? Yes, Rep. Jamie Raskin.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, a first-term Maryland Democrat who teaches constitutional law at American University, was even more critical of the president’s recent attacks on immigrant communities and the rule of law in a separate phone interview with BeltwayBreakfast, in which he declared that Trump “is trashing the American dream.”
“The president has declared war on due process within the immigration system,” said Raskin, who noted that the United States’ obligations to treat asylum seekers with respect and allow them their day in court come not only from American law, but from the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, to which the United States is a signatory.
“How are we going to live up to our obligations under international law and the constitution if we don’t have judges to sort it out?” he asked.
“[Trump] just wants to build a wall and a moat and put up barbed wire, and that’s a complete betrayal of what America is as a nation founded as a haven for refuge for people fleeing violence and oppression,” he added, concluding that the president “essentially wants to turn us into a tyrannical state ourselves.”
Raskin noted that immigration judges are not just bureaucratic functionaries or cogs in a deportation machine, but “real judges” who are supposed to follow the law and fairly adjudicate claims of asylum under U.S. immigration and asylum law.
Robbing Central and South American immigrants of their due process rights
He hit back at the Trump’s increasingly vicious anti-immigrant rhetoric and apparent desire to rob Central and South American immigrants of the due process rights guaranteed them under the constitution as hypocritical considering the president’s own family history.
“Despite the fact that the president’s family, like all of our families, came here from somewhere else, and despite the fact that he has married people who are not U.S. citizens, he seems to want to treat all immigrants to this country like criminals.”
As for Trump’s description of immigrants as “invaders,” Raskin said it was more of the same from a president who has consistently refused to repudiate the white nationalists and other racists who’ve openly embraced his presidency as if one of their own had ascended to the White House.
“This administration began with a sinister relationship to the alt-right and racist movements around the world, and the president has never shed these associations,” Raskin said.
“America is not defined today by a principle of race or ethnicity or blood or religion. America is defined by our constitutional values and the dream of a society where everybody can make it who works hard and believes in the country.”
Sen. Jon Kyl Refuses to Commit to Continuing to Serve Beyond Next Year
WASHINGTON, December 10, 2018 – In a brief interview with Beltway Breakfast, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, refused to commit to serving past January 3, 2019.
“January 3 would be an obvious time frame” for a switch in service, Kyl said before an appearance at the Federalist Society here.
“But,” he hedged, “I have to have a conversation with the governor” of Arizona.
Kyl, a former senator, returned to Washington following the death on August 25, 2018, of Sen. John McCain, the state’s senior senator. Arizona’s Republican governor Doug Ducey tapped Kyl to go back to the Senate to fulfill the remainder of McCain’s term, which lasts until the end of 2022.
In order to make to the end of the term at the end of 2022, however, that senator must face the voters for re-election in 2020 — and Kyl has said that he has no interest in doing that.
During the Federalist Society event, Kyl said that Gov. Ducey should pick another person who “might have an interest in running again.”
Kyl said he had committed only to “seeing it through at least until the end of this Congress.”
The timing of Kyl’s length of service is sensitive because if Kyl does not commit to continuing to serve — and if Ducey fails to pick a new replacement by January 3, 2019 — then Sen.-elect Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, would become the state’s “senior senator.”
In the space of a few months, Arizona has gone from having two relatively-long serving Republican senators – McCain and Sen. Jeff Flake — to conceivably having two relatively fresh faces: Sen.-elect Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, and a replacement that would be named Gov Ducey, should Kyl not continue to serve.
During the discussion at the Federal Society event, Kyl discussed his role as the guide to help Brent Kavanaugh through the confirmation process to be a justice on the Supreme Court.
“I helped to shepherd Kavanaugh” through the relatively painless process that occurred prior to the time that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault by a 17-year-old Kavanaugh became public.
Kyl was appointed to McCain’s seat on September 5, 2018, one week before Dr. Ford’s allegation became public. Then, as senator, Kyl said, “It was like parachuting into the middle of a war zone. The police literally had to clear the hallways of the office building.
“It was a particularly raucous environment, and that was not particularly enjoyable,” said Kyl.
Asked by Beltway Breakfast whether he was enjoying his second tour of service in the Senate, Kyl said, “Enjoy is not the right word, but it is good to be back.”
Will the House Judiciary Committee Fairly Question Google CEO Sundar Pichai at Tuesday Hearing?
WASHINGTON, December 10, 2018 — When Google CEO Sundar Pichai raises his right hand before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday morning, it’s possible the ensuing hearing will be a sober and judicious look into his company’s data collection practices.
But Pichai is far more likely to become the latest punching bag for House members – of both parties – eager to perpetuate the unproven claims that technology companies are acting to systematically censor conservatives.
Both House and Senate committees have convened hearings on social media companies’ practices over the past year. The hearings haven’t resulted in any bombshell revelations or explosive testimony. But Republicans’ accusations of censorship – or at least tilting the scales in search engine results – have been a constant drumbeat from members of Congress and witnesses.
One Silicon Valley representative dubbed the claims ‘obviously false’
One veteran member of House Judiciary, Rep Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., called conservatives claims of censorship “obviously false.”
“I can’t speak for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, but this appears to me to be part of an effort to rile up their base, that is anti-intellectual, anti-technology, and anti ‘elite,’ by saying that those fancy-pants in Silicon Valley are trying to keep them from hearing our message,” said Lofgren.
“For a group that is in charge of the entire government, they do a lot of whining as victims,” she said.
Her colleague, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., told BeltwayBreakfast that he is hopeful that Tuesday’s hearing will result in an “honest and thorough discussion about the role of these large social media companies.”
“A lot of the [previous] hearings have turned into a free-for-all where everybody complains about perceived or real transgressions by social media companies against different political persuasions, and the Republicans have specialized in that,” Raskin said.
“We need to have an honest and thorough discussion about the role of these large social media companies,” he said. “That basic dilemma that runs through all those conflicts and we have not resolved ourselves as a society on that basic question.”
Is the enforcement of internet companies terms of service ‘censorship’?
Raskin said that some conservatives are confusing technology companies’ enforcement of their terms of service with censorship because of an overlap between what some consider conservative values and what many people consider hate speech.
President Trump’s defense of the white nationalists who participated in the August 2017 Unite the Right rally is responsible for blurring the lines between conservatives and the white nationalists who count themselves as part of Trump’s base, Raskin said.
“If you have the equivalent of a Charlottesville march online, and Facebook or Twitter doesn’t want to host it, you have to find somewhere else to conduct your internet hate rally,” he added.
But based on the experience of one previous hearing, Raskin hopes that there is room for agreement on both sides of the aisle to have a serious conversation and not get hijacked by partisan bickering.
Previous hearings have not squarely addressed the ‘conceptual’ debate on this topic
At a previous hearing, members on both sides of the aisle agreed that lawmakers lack the “proper conceptual categories” needed to seriously address the problem of whether big tech companies are “special private actors who deserve different treatment because of their importance to the economy”
“That is the important and interesting conceptual question that we need to put on the table, and we dance around it when we just dive into particular controversies regarding this or that episode.”
The dual issues of how regulators should treat technology companies, and how technology companies treat conservatives caught the attention of President Donald Trump in late August, when he threatened three of the largest technology and social media companies in the United States for allegedly working to censor conservatives, despite offering no verifiable evidence that any such censorship is taking place.
“I think Google is really taking advantage of a lot of people, and I think that’s a very serious thing and a very serious charge. I think what Google and others are doing, if you look at what’s going on at Twitter, what’s going on on Facebook, they better be careful because you can’t do that to people, you can’t do it,” Trump said during an August 28 Oval Office meeting with FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
“I think that Google and Twitter and Facebook are really treading on very very troubled territory and they have to be careful, it’s not fair to large portions of the population,” said Trump.
Trump’s remarks came on the same day that National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told reporters that the administration was “looking into” Google’s operations.
Though BroadbandBreakfast inquired as to the result of whatever investigation may have been conducted — and whether Trump still thinks Google is “taking advantage of a lot of people” — a White House spokesperson had not yet responded by our deadline.
Democrats Mourn Loss of Net Neutrality, But Industry Supporters Call it a New Day
WASHINGTON, June 12, 2018 – As the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of Obama-era network neutrality rules took effect Monday, Democrats and net neutrality advocates vowed to continue the effort to use a Congressional Review Act resolution to roll back the new FCC rules.
“There will be no eulogy today for net neutrality,” said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a longtime network neutrality advocate and a member of the Senate Commerce Committee.
“The FCC will not have the last word when it comes to net neutrality, the American people will,” he said. “The fight to restore net neutrality rules has new urgency today and moving forward as we continue to work in the House of Representatives to repeal the FCC’s terrible decision.”
Markey urged House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to call for a floor vote on a companion bill to the CRA resolution passed by the Senate last month. The CRA measure, if it passed both chambers and were signed by the president, would void the laissez-faire “regulations” promulgated by the FCC in December 2017, under agency Chairman Ajit Pai.
‘An overwhelming majority of Americans’ support net neutrality, say Democratic legislators
The sponsor of that companion CRA bill, Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., noted that “an overwhelming majority of Americans” support network neutrality despite the FCC’s refusal to follow public sentiment, but that it was “still possible” to save the policy by passing his resolution.
“The Senate has voted to overturn the FCC order that killed off net neutrality,” Doyle said. “Now the House must do the same.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., slammed Ryan’s refusal to bring the Markey-Doyle resolution to the House floor.
“By refusing to bring up the Senate-passed resolution to restore net neutrality, which passed the Senate by a powerful bipartisan vote, House Republican leaders gave a green light to the big ISPs to charge middle-class Americans, small business owners, schools, rural Americans, and communities of color more to use the internet,” Schumer said, adding that the entire Senate Democratic Caucus had sent Ryan a letter urging him to move Doyle’s bill forward.
Schumer said that Republicans, except of the three GOP Senators who sided with the Democrats, were choosing large corporations and special interests over American families.
“Every Republican who opposed this vote will own any and all of the damaging consequences of the FCC’s horribly misguided decision,” he warned.
Pai publishes an op-ed arguing that the ‘Restoring Internet Freedom Order’ will restore internet freedom
Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai defended his agency’s repeal of Obama-era network neutrality rules in an op-ed for C-Net. He said the “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” will only improve the internet for users.
“Under the Federal Communications Commission’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which takes effect Monday, the internet will be just such an open platform. Our framework will protect consumers and promote better, faster internet access and more competition,” Pai wrote.
Pai attempted to bolster the FCC’s decision through claims that the new regulations introduces stronger transparency laws and hence more protection for the consumer.
He also lauded his agency passing power to the Federal Trade Commission for enforcement actions.
“Our approach includes strong consumer protections,” Paid said. “For example, we empower the Federal Trade Commission to police internet service providers for anticompetitive acts and unfair or deceptive practices. In 2015, the FCC stripped the FTC – the nation’s premier consumer protection agency – of its authority over internet service providers.
“This was a loss for consumers and a mistake we have reversed. Starting Monday, the FTC will once again be able to protect Americans consistently across the internet economy, and the FCC will work hand-in-hand with our partners at the FTC to do just that.”
Internet Innovation Alliance on defending the need for new laws on neutrality and privacy
The Internet Innovation Alliance, a coalition of business and non-profit organizations under leadership of Former Congressman Rick Boucher, D-Va., also defended the new laws.
The IIA issued a statement of support for today’s decision, calling it “the right decision” for consumers, investors, and “for the internet itself, as the internet will once again be subject to the rules under which it grew and flourished for nearly 20 years.”
Despite expressing support for the FCC’s rollback of Title II regulations, the IIA’s statement also addressed fears that the repeal of net neutrality —will empower internet service providers to discriminate against certain websites or services.
“But as grateful as we are for the Commission’s action and today’s implementation, we cannot rest here. The broadband internet is too important to our national life,” read the statement.
“We once again call on Congress to pass, this year, a law protecting the core principles of an open internet – no blocking, no throttling, no censorship, no unfair discrimination based on online content – and including robust consumer privacy protections that apply to all entities in the internet ecosystem and no matter how consumers access the internet.
“Only that action can settle the issue permanently and ensure that the principles of a truly open internet will have the force of statutory law,” IIA said.
(Photo collage of Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., upper left; Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., upper right; former Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., lower right; and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, lower left.)