The looming fight over legal immigration

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On the roster: The looming fight over legal immigration - DeVos is de secretary - Homeland secretary takes the blame for ban botch - Audible: That’s corny, hands down -
Well, it is her sapphire jubilee 

Almost all of the focus on today’s high stakes hearing before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has been on whether President Trump has the authority to bar non-citizens from entering the United States.

Of course he does. The Constitution grants the president enormous power over the issue of immigration.

Washington State’s claim that Trump’s temporary ban on refugees and new visitors from seven troubled countries is economically disruptive doesn’t add up to much. If economic injury really superseded the president’s national security powers, citizens could sue to stop a war.

Similarly, an argument from former Secretary of State John Kerry and other Democrats that Trump’s crackdown is bad policy don’t hold up either. Even if the measure made the country less safe, federal courts don’t have jurisdiction over executive judgment, only executive powers.

But the third argument against the ban is where things get interesting. It also gives us an insight on where the real battle on immigration may lie for the future: legal immigrants.

At 6 p.m. ET, three-judge panel will take the extraordinary step of hearing oral arguments on the appeal. Ignore the thunder about “American values” and the morality of hosting refugees.

Simply by enforcing the laws on the books, Trump could not only bar those seeking entry into the United States, but even expel those here illegally. Even non-criminals. Even those who came here as minors. He says he won’t, but there’s little question about his power to enforce laws, even those conventionally disregarded.

But what about those here legally? And what about the more than one million immigrants who come to the United States through the front door every year?

The reason that so much of America’s tech industry has joined the fight against Trump’s ban isn’t that the leadership of that sector is mostly liberal (it is) or that they are worried that they will not be able to recruit programmers from Yemen for the next three months, but rather that the order calls into question the status of “permanent” residents.

Much of the outrage and confusion stem from the initial implementation of the ban related to green card holders caught in legal limbo. Though the administration relented and allowed that those with green cards would be admitted it didn’t relent on whether the president has the right to revoke residency for broad categories of those already here on a permanent basis. They said they wouldn’t, not that they couldn’t.

The concern for tech firms and other companies that rely heavily on immigrant workers is that they could see their employees thrown into disputed status if Trump’s focus expands beyond these seven countries.

Though there’s no indication mass green card revocations are in the offing, the fight over how much and what kind of legal immigration the United States needs is just beginning.

Trump-boosting Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is readying legislation that would crackdown on legal immigration. He told Politico the legislation was aimed at the “elites” who are pushing native workers out of low-skill jobs in favor of cheaper foreign workers.

Cotton’s co-sponsor, Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., said the goal was to reduce legal immigration to “historically normal levels” for the sake of improving “American jobs and wages.” 

Assuming Perdue means returning to the era prior to the 1980s when new rules allowed more legal immigrants, he is talking about cutting the number of legal immigrants roughly in half.

While Republicans broadly agree on reforming immigration rules to prioritize workers with skills deemed valuable rather than emphasizing family connections, such a dramatic reduction would not sit well with those who argue that immigrants at all skill levels are necessary for the nation’s economic health.

Others, like Cotton and Perdue, argue that by constraining the pool of available workers, the government can drive up wages and drive down unemployment as businesses are forced to pay higher wages that will induce native workers sitting on the sidelines to get back into the job market.

As this fight rages, you will hear a lot of the same arguments you have concerning efforts to raise the federal minimum wage. Will employers pay more for workers or turn to even more automation? Are there enough able native workers available, even if the pool of immigrants is reduced?

This, of course, dovetails with Trump’s efforts to increase tariffs on foreign goods. If corporations were forced to pay more for labor they might want to move operations overseas, unless trade barriers made doing so cost prohibitive.

Last year saw the lowest-ever birthrate in American history, leaving policymakers with difficult sets of choices for the future.

So much of the focus on immigration in the past decade has been on the 12 million or more immigrants thought to be in the U.S. illegally. What may matter most are the perhaps 20 million legal permanent residents who are already part of the economy and the million or so who join their ranks each year.

“Government is instituted no less for protection of the property, than of the persons, of individuals. The one as well as the other, therefore, may be considered as represented by those who are charged with the government.” – Alexander Hamilton or James MadisonFederalist No. 45

New Yorker: “In the micro-drama of loss, in other words, we are nearly always both villain and victim. That goes some way toward explaining why people often say that losing things drives them crazy. At best, our failure to locate something that we ourselves last handled suggests that our memory is shot; at worst, it calls into question the very nature and continuity of selfhood. (If you’ve ever lost something that you deliberately stashed away for safekeeping, you know that the resulting frustration stems not just from a failure of memory but from a failure of inference. As one astute Internet commentator asked, ‘Why is it so hard to think like myself?’) Part of what makes loss such a surprisingly complicated phenomenon, then, is that it is inextricable from the extremely complicated phenomenon of human cognition.”

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions

AP: “The Senate on Tuesday confirmed school choice advocate Betsy DeVos as Education secretary by the narrowest of margins, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie in a historic vote. Two Republicans joined Democrats in the unsuccessful effort to derail the nomination of the wealthy Republican donor. The Senate historian said Pence's vote was the first by a vice president to break a tie on a Cabinet nomination. Democrats cited her lack of public school experience and financial interests in organizations pushing charter schools. DeVos has said she would divest herself from those organizations. Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska fear that DeVos' focus on charter schools will undermine remote public schools in their states.”

[Education reformer Mark Bauerlein makes the case for DeVos on behalf of students rather than education bureaucrat-in-chief.]

Admission of hiring illegal immigrant adds to Pudzer’s woes - WaPo: “The fast-food CEO whom Donald Trump tapped to run the Labor Department once hired an undocumented immigrant to work as a housekeeper, the nominee said Monday. The revelation, which was first reported by the Huffington Post, is the latest development about [Andrew Puzder]who has faced criticism over reports of wage violations at his restaurants, his views on the minimum wage and his use of ads that critics say are demeaning to women. In a statement provided to The Washington Post by Puzder’s spokesman, Puzder said that he was unaware of the maid’s immigration status when he hired her.”

[And WaPo reports that Dems are united in opposing pretty much all of Trump’s remaining cabinet picks.]

Fox News: “Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly took the blame Tuesday for the hasty rollout of President Trump's order suspending immigration from seven countries, while defending the measure as ‘lawful and constitutional.’ ‘It's all on me,’ Kelly told the GOP-led House Homeland Security Committee, acknowledging lawmakers were not fully apprised. ‘I should have delayed it just a bit so I could have talked to members of Congress,’ Kelly said. ‘Going forward, I would have certainly taken some time to inform Congress, and that’s something I look forward to in the future.’”

“I don’t think I have received such a big hand since I walked down the colonnade at the White House.” – British Prime Minister Theresa May joking at a private fundraiser referencing a photo of her and Donald Trump walking hand-and-hand down the colonnade of the White House during her visit.

Romney considering 2018 Utah Senate run - Deseret News

China courts Ivanka Trump and her husband to smooth ties with the administration -

Poll: Healthcare the top concern for Americans -
Monmouth University

Counterclaim: Calif. looks to shut down payments to Washington if Trump cuts off federal funds over immigration -

British House of Commons Speaker slams the door on Trump addressing Parliament -
Sky News

Melania Trump files third suit over allegations she worked as an escort, seeks $150 million -
NY Post

Sanders list of supporters could hang in the balance on DNC leadership vote -
Mother Jones

“Am I wrong in thinking that if the Dems would stop their obstruction on installing Cabinet members, a number of important legislative items could move forward?  For instance, Tom Price is said to have a fully formed plan for Healthcare revision and replacement.  He is in limbo right now thanks to Schumer’s strategies for keeping the nominees from being voted on.” – Susan Williams, St. Louis

[Ed. note: Well, yes and no… Price certainly has studied the matter extensively and will, upon his confirmation, take further steps directing his agency to dismantle the law. But ultimately, this is a question that Congress must answer. Price will certainly be part of the negotiations between the executive and legislative branches, but it is indecision about when and how to replace the law that most afflicts Republicans right now. As for Democratic obstructionism, history will little note nor long remember delays of a few days or even a couple of weeks. Most of this is political theater designed to give Democratic voters some glimmers of hope and to make the Senate minority feel empowered.]

“Obamacare is healthcare insurance, not healthcare. ‘Care’ is what gets delivered and insurance is how it gets paid for. The two terms have always been conflated to the point that they are perceived to be synonymous. Clearly the difference is significant.” – Carter Marsden, Eagle, Idaho

[Ed. note: Not only is “healthcare” different from “health insurance,” it’s not even a word! Health care consumes something like one fifth of America’s economy and is growing, growing, growing… But as you rightly point out, Mr. Marsden, Americans have come to focus on just the insurance component of that vast space. We all know the story of how employer-based health insurance grew out of wartime wage restrictions in the 1940s as a means to attract and scarce members of the civilian labor force when wages were regulated. Conservatives have long sought to decouple care from insurance in hopes that market forces from comparison shopping would assert themselves if consumers were shopping a la carte rather than buying monthly medical coverage. The plans being discussed in Washington today, however, would suggest that effort has stalled. Republicans now embraced the concept of universal coverage as a rightful goal of the federal government. It would seem that the concept of a highly regulated insurance cartel will be with us for the long haul.]

“Chris, I'll betcha that I am far from the only one of your loyal readers who read about certain parts of the transcripts of the President's phone calls which were ‘leaked.’  …I attempted to find out, on my own, what disciplinary actions a federal employee could face, if any - and unless I am reading things wrong, any disciplinary process would be long, drawn out…As you are a walking source of this knowledge, please explain just what the disciplinary process could/would be. Thanks much!” – Ernie Weaver, North Port, Fla.

[Ed. note: The thing about preventing leaks is making sure you aren’t causing more in the process. Every presidential administration both relies on leaks and is bedeviled by them. Limited, strategic emissions of information can help test ideas – the well-known “trial balloon” – or provide much-needed distractions to misdirect hostile coverage. But at the same time, unfriendly leaks can do serious damage to presidents’ aspirations. Just ask Richard Nixon. No administration had ever gone further to stop leaks than President Obama’s. We will never know, however, whether the heavy-handed tactics resulted in less leakage. We also will never know how the tactics affected morale, and the normal conduct of business. There are a host of disciplinary measures available for civil servants who violate agency rules for releasing information, some crossing over into criminal law if the information is of a sensitive nature. But inside the vast federal bureaucracy, such investigations and punishments often take immense resources and time to carry out. As Obama found, too aggressive a pursuit can make for not only bad public relations but institutional dysfunction.]

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Scotsman: “A huge cannabis factory has been uncovered at Legoland - apparently planted by someone sneaking in from the Queen’s estate [home to Windsor Castle]. Police found 50 of the chest-high plants being cultivated under heat lamps and an irrigation system in a bungalow at the park in Windsor. But theme park bosses say the vacant building is inaccessible to the public and ‘appears to have been accessed via the Crown Estate’ - land belonging to the Queen. Astonished workers discovered the professional set up while looking for asbestos in what is understood to be derelict staff accommodation yesterday. A spokeswoman for Legoland said: ‘Following routine checks, we can confirm that illegal substances were found in a derelict cottage outside of the LEGOLAND Park boundary.’”

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.