Thursday, February 16, 2017

The biggest beneficiaries of the government safety net: working-class whites



(Photo Credit: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)






By Tracy Jan
The Washington Post


Working-class whites are the biggest beneficiaries of federal poverty-reduction programs, even though blacks and Hispanics have substantially higher rates of poverty, according to a new study to be released Thursday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Government assistance and tax credits lifted 6.2 million working-class whites out of poverty in 2014, more than any other racial or ethnic demographic. Half of all working-age adults without college degrees lifted out of poverty by safety-net programs are white; nearly a quarter are black and a fifth are Hispanic.





The result does not simply reflect the fact that there are more white people in the country. The percentage of otherwise poor whites lifted from poverty by government safety-net programs is higher, at 44 percent, compared to 35 percent of otherwise poor minorities, the study concluded.

Among working-class minorities, blacks also benefit significantly from government programs, with 43 percent of otherwise poor blacks being lifted from poverty by the safety net. Only 28 percent of otherwise poor Hispanics were lifted from poverty by these programs.

“There is a perception out there that the safety net is only for minorities. While it’s very important to minorities because they have higher poverty rates and face barriers that lead to lower earnings, it’s also quite important to whites, particularly the white working class,” said Isaac Shapiro, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and one of the report’s authors.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank in Washington, analyzed working-age, non-college educated adult beneficiaries of more than a dozen government benefits, including food stamps, welfare, housing subsidies, tax credits, home energy assistance, school lunch programs, and Social Security.

Without the government programs, 24 percent of whites were poor, compared to 43 percent of blacks and 36 percent of Hispanics. After the programs, 13 percent of whites were poor, compared to 24 percent of blacks and 26 percent of Hispanics.




The researchers did not draw a conclusion from their study as to why working class whites are disproportionately helped by government poverty reduction programs. One possibility is that white Americans are better positioned to know all the government benefits that are available to them, Shapiro said. Whites also benefit more from the Social Security system than minorities, both because they may have paid more into it and they are an older population, he said.

Shapiro said that the low percentage of Hispanic beneficiaries reflects that the Census Bureau counts unauthorized immigrants in the poverty rate, but they are not eligible to receive most government benefits aimed at the poor.

Working-class whites drawn to President Trump’s campaign may be particularly hard hit by the policies of the Trump administration and congressional Republicans, Shapiro said, including the push to dismantle President Obama's health-care reform law and changing the way food stamps and other programs for the poor are administered. The safety net appears to be even more critical, he said, in states with a large share of working-class whites, including the previously blue states of Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio that flipped to Trump in 2016.

“A missing element of the political conversation has been the degree to which government programs are important to the working class in general, and the white working class in particular,” Shapiro said. “Many of these programs could be the subject of dramatic cuts over the next year. Rather than helping the working class address their basic needs and escape from poverty, the potential political agenda is going to push precisely in the opposite direction.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Donald Trump, the Arsonist-In-Chief?



President Donald J. Trump


By Michael D'Antonio
CNN


President for just two weeks, Donald Trump is courting a constitutional crisis over his ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.
He has spooked allies around the world, fired the acting attorney general, feuded with Arnold Schwarzenegger over TV ratings and inspired millions to protest in the streets.

Remarkably, Trump has managed to create all this excitement, drama and chaos with little effort.The spree of irresponsibility has involved both putting his signature on hastily drafted documents and firing off words in public or on Twitter.
Trump's tweet about the " so-called" judge who stopped his anti-immigrant/anti-refugee order, for example, was uniquely impulsive for a modern President.

After each of these moves, Trump has then stood back and watched the world struggle to respond.The easiest way to understand why Trump does all this might be to call it political arson.

The analogy isn't perfect, but consider how Trump and a skeleton White House crew have used multiple incendiary actions to create a sense of emergency, while expressing little concern for those who are affected.

This is precisely how an arsonist disturbs the peace. With a flick of a match, he sets a destructive fire and then thrills to the reactions.

Likewise, the nation and the world are reacting in the way of a city besieged by a fire-setter. Fear and confusion reign and, before an effective response develops, it seem as though stability will never return.

The Arsonist Mentality
Experts writing in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law note that pyromania is a "disorder of impulse" afflicting people whose moods are out of sync with their objective reality. If it is not stopped and addressed -- either by the criminal justice system or mental health intervention -- the arsonist's behavior becomes a chronic problem. This is why communities under an arsonist's attack will be plagued by one fire after another.

Does Donald Trump fit the arsonist profile? His impulsiveness has been evident throughout his life. 

As a boy he was so out of control that his parents sent him away to military school for discipline. In business, a big humiliating bankruptcy wasn't enough to stop his risk-taking. He went on to suffer three more. Instead of one headline-grabbing public divorce he had two.

In his campaign for President, he could not control his provocative behavior. When violence loomed at his rallies he used his microphone to encourage it. In debates and campaign speeches he torched his rivals with a stream of personal insults and distortions (such as repeating unsubstantiated claims from the National Enquirer that Ted Cruz's father helped killed JFK) never seen in a modern major party candidate.
Trump set fire to the GOP, happily burning down the structure for his own benefit.

As President, Trump's behavior has frequently contradicted the mood of what was going on around him. At his inauguration he didn't celebrate with a positive vision of the country, but instead described a nation on the brink of dystopia. A prayer breakfast became a forum for boasting. At a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency he complained about the press.

Were Trump alone in his impulsive and dark-minded condition he might have been contained by sober advisers. Instead, he has been aided mainly by an adviser, Stephen Bannon, who is committed to upending the political order and rose to prominence as head of a website that dispenses bigoted messages.

Apparently the most influential man in Trump's orbit, Bannon has no experience in public service and has likened himself, and his followers, to "know-nothing vulgarians."

The Arson Dynamic

Although arsonists frequently plead not guilty by reason of insanity, they rarely win this argument. This is because they are not generally considered to be delusional or otherwise separated from reality.

Simply put, they know what they are doing, and they know that it is wrong, but the compulsion is too strong and the thrill of the crime is too great. This issue was settled in a case involving a fire-setter who lit a barn ablaze, gazed at it from a distance, reported the fire and then asked the first responders if he could ride along with them to the scene.

In communities besieged by an arsonist, residents and public officials may fail at first to recognize what's happening. A spate of fires can seem simply a matter of coincidence until the pattern is established and the problem gets worse.

By then the public is alarmed and afraid and investigators are hard-pressed to stop the destruction. In the early 2000s, for instance, officials in greater Washington finally realized they had a serial fire-setter on their hands when Thomas Sweatt crossed into Maryland to commit one of his crimes.
With political arson, once it is recognized, it is not as mysterious as the problem of a fire-setter working under the cover of night to torch buildings.

Trump's destructive tendencies were once obscured by the notion that he would act as a normal President when the weight of the office settled upon him. This cover was blown when he issued his anti-immigrant executive order. Trump and his team have also signaled their disrupting intentions with diatribes against the press, assertions of "alternative facts," and wild claims about voter fraud that cast doubt on the foundation of American democracy.

Countering The Chaos

One textbook on arson notes that people who set fires like to feel they have outsmarted the authorities and enjoy testing their intelligence against them. They are adept at reading others and not generally burdened by feelings of guilt. Some experts recommend sending female investigators to interrogate male suspects, believing they may slip up because they feel insulted under their questioning. The point here is that overconfidence and arrogance can make an arsonist vulnerable to those who set out to stop the crisis.

In the case of Sweatt, a determined and massive investigation led to the discovery of a small flaw in his methods. He used bits of his own clothing to make his fires and the remains contained DNA evidence.

Trump's political arson is now encountering a massive and increasingly well-organized opposition. 


Like a community terrorized by fire, the nation was temporarily shaken, but it is recovering its balance. Citizens gathering in the street and at airports signal resolve. Journalists monitor every development. Court cases brought in defense of the Constitution resemble firefighters' efforts to put out the flames.

In Washington state, a federal court order halting the Trump immigration ban across the country represented a defining act on behalf of a national community reacting to crisis. Although many Americans remain alarmed by the emergency created by the new administration, the response of the courts and others has been remarkably swift. In just two weeks, a White House devoted to chaos has been stopped, at least temporarily, by a system designed to put out fires.

Looking forward, those who favor stability and peace would be wise to consider the arson prevention advice offered by the United States Fire Administration. The agency advises education, organization, and most of all vigilance.




Monday, February 6, 2017

Majority of Fatal Attacks on U.S. Soil carried out by white supremacists, not international terrorists



By Maggie Ybarra

The Washington Times

Wednesday, June 24, 2015



In the 14 years since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, nearly twice as many people have been killed in the United States by white supremacists and anti-government radicals than by Muslim jihadis, according to a new study.

White supremacists and anti-government radicals have killed 48 Americans, including last week’s deadly attack in South Carolina, versus 26 killings by Muslim radicals, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center.

New America program associate David Sterman said the study shows that white supremacy and anti-government idealists are a major problem, that their growth rate needs to be addressed and that there is an “ignored threat” woven in the fabric of American society.

“Each time it [right-wing, radical violence] comes up, there’s a tendency to dismiss it as lone actor, mental health issues,” he said. “So it’s important to not ignore threats,”



The suspect in last week’s slaughter of nine people inside a Charleston church, Dylann Roof, 21, had posted a manifesto that lays out a racist worldview, posted pictures online featuring white supremacist imagery and a T-shirt featuring the number “88,” which is often used as a symbol for “Heil Hitler.” He faces federal hate crime charges.

Attacks by Muslim extremists appear to center around military targets, such as Fort Hood, a U.S. military post in Killeen, Texas, and areas where the possibility of mass casualties is high, such as the Boston Marathon, New America says. Meanwhile, the killing sprees of right-wing extremists lean more toward police ambushes and were rooted in anti-government sentiment, according to data compiled by the research center.
Experts say the research findings could be an indicator the nation’s intelligence collectors have been paying more attention to thwarting potential terror plots against the homeland concocted by Islamic extremists and less attention to the anti-government attacks of right-wing extremists.

“There has certainly been a tremendous concentration — not just by FBI and law enforcement, but intelligence community intelligence — focused on both the foreign born and the homegrown Islamic extremist terrorist threats,” said Ron Hosko, president of Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund and former assistant director of the FBI. “And you’re talking about people in the military, intelligence, all the alphabet soup agencies as well as local law enforcement.”

There is also the possibility that the U.S. government has better information on Islamic extremist attacks because its surveillance techniques and information data collection techniques, said John Malcolm, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation. As a result, government agencies may be able to thwart those plans before they come to fruition, which might account for the low number of Islamic extremist attacks.

Mr. Sterman agrees. He said the data does show a potential imbalance in the type and amount of intelligence gathering that the government’s various agencies are doing. It also shows that there is another “ignored threat” woven in the fabric of American society, he said.

Terrorism should not be measured by whether the perpetrator is Muslim, he said. Additionally, indicators of a pending plot should not slide under the radar simply because the plot is not tied to the Islamic State or some other foreign terrorist organization, he said.

“For example, in the Dylann Roof case, in the Charleston attack, you do see that he is leaking quite a bit of information to people around him about his view point and his desire to commit violence,” Mr. Sterman said.

If an Islamic extremist were to do something similar, he or she would attract the attention of federal authorities and keep their attention until they no longer posed a threat, he said.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What Trump gets wrong about Hispanics in the U.S.

Toyota's Lexus luxury line is among the brands marketing toward Latinos, who injected $1.4 trillion into the U.S. economy in 2016, according to a new report (VidaLexus Presents: RPM – Reengineering Popular Music with Raquel SofĂ­a)



By Tracy Jan
Washington Post



President Trump, as he ran for office, portrayed Latino immigrants as a drain on the U.S. economy, saying "The Mexican government ... they send the bad ones over because they don't want to pay for them."
But Trump’s campaign rhetoric ignored this fact: The growing Latino population injected $1.4 trillion into the U.S. economy in 2016, according to a new report by the Selig Center for Economic Growth. That’s larger than the GDP of Mexico.
The rapid growth of Hispanic buying power in the U.S. is not a result of population growth alone. Per capita, the buying power of Hispanics in the country has jumped from $13,880 each in 2000 to more than $24,050 each in 2016 -- accounting for every man, woman and child.
Upper-income Hispanics are fueling much of that spending power as the proportion of wealthy Hispanic households in the U.S. expands. Those making more than $100,000 a year accounted for nearly 16 percent of all Hispanic households in 2015, double the percentage in 2004, according to the Pew Research Center. More than half of those households reside in California, Florida, New York and Texas.




Corporations have taken note. Industries from real estate and banking to luxury automakers and prestige cosmetics are expanding their marketing towards this rapidly growing demographic.
“There’s definitely money, and growing money, in this segment so you absolutely cannot ignore it,” said Brian Bolain, general manager for Lexus marketing.
Toyota, the No. 1 auto brand among Hispanic consumers for the past decade, has created a corporate department specifically targeting Hispanics for its various vehicle divisions, including its Lexus luxury line.
As a result, Lexus is now the top selling luxury automobile brand to Hispanics, said Sara Hasson, senior vice president in Univision’s strategy and insights group who works with auto manufacturers and dealers. Other elite brands such as Audi, Mercedes and BMW are also investing millions each year in Spanish-language advertising, with luxury auto ads on Spanish television and radio tripling since 2013, Hasson said.

One ad introducing the 2017 Lexus IS line, the brand’s entry-level sedan, features a car speeding through city streets spliced with scenes from a soccer match. A male voice-over says in Spanish, “No cheerleaders. No mascots. No halftime show. All thrills. Exhilarating performance in its purest form.”
Hispanics accounted for a quarter of Lexus IS sales in 2016. But Lexus markets a half a dozen cars at higher price points each year to Hispanics, through not only traditional ads but also music videos starring Latin musicians, short programs featuring Latin chefs and athletes, live concerts, and events inviting consumers to test drive various models around a track.
“One of the things we feel that’s key to their success is they are not making an assumption that you could only afford the entry-level vehicle,” Hasson said.
Companies especially strive to build brand loyalty early among wealthy Latinos because they tend to be younger and have larger families than the non-Hispanic upscale consumer. And while the majority of the target audience is bicultural and fluent in both English and Spanish, marketers say it’s still important to create Spanish-language ads that appeal to multi-generational Hispanic families.
“Parents and grandparents, you have to address the whole family,” Bolain said. “People who have a voice and a vote in that ecosystem.”
While affluent Hispanic households tended to be Cuban American or South American two decades ago, there is growing affluence among Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, said Gabriela Alcantara-Diaz, who owns her own advertising firm in Miami and who sits on the board of the national trade group AHAA: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing. The trade group, in partnership with Nielsen, a global information and measurement company, has identified Latinos earning $50,000 to $100,000 annually as one of the most influential consumer segments since the baby boomers.  
Hispanic wealth is also expanding beyond the traditional urban centers in Miami, New York and Los Angeles to secondary markets such as San Bernardino, Calif., and Jacksonville, Fla., Alcantara-Diaz said.
“There have been a lot of regional players more aggressive in pursuing the emerging upscale Hispanics” than national opportunities, said Alcantara-Diaz, whose firm began focusing on this demographic while working with Johnnie Walker whiskey and Publix supermarkets two decades ago. “We knew it was just a matter of time before this market would influence national trends.”


Hispanics have become key drivers of homeownership growth in the U.S., accounting for 69 percent of total net growth, according to a 2016 report by the Hispanic Wealth Project. They tend to accumulate wealth through real estate and small businesses but underperform in other assets like the stock market and retirements accounts.
“Hispanics are earning more money but not making up ground on the wealth side,” said Gary Acosta, chief executive of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, who created the Hispanic Wealth Project with the goal of tripling Hispanic household wealth by 2024.
Wells Fargo expanded its Hispanic sales force by 15 percent last year in hopes that more diverse loan officers and home mortgage consultants would better cater to its growing Latino clientele, said Brad Blackwell, an executive vice president with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.
The bank is also opening new mortgage offices in branches that serve large Latino populations in Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston and Phoenix. And it has made a commitment, in collaboration with the Hispanic Wealth Project, to lend $125 billion to Hispanic homebuyers by 2025 and invest $10 million from the bank’s foundation to educate and counsel Hispanic homebuyers.  
(Wells Fargo’s commitment follows a $175 million settlement in a lawsuit alleging that the bank discriminated against Hispanic and African American borrowers.)
In contrast to the many other companies pursuing wealthy Latino consumers, Sotheby’s International Realty, which focuses on high-end properties, does not specifically tailor its marketing toward Hispanics, let alone advertise in Spanish.
In Miami, where Sotheby’s average property sale price tops well over $1 million, Latino agents make up about a third of the real estate agents. But the nuances of language and cultural differentiation tend to disappear, said Michael Valdes, a global vice president at Sotheby's and the company’s highest ranking Latino.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Trump Voters Harbor Mixed Feelings Ahead of Inauguration

Voters like Deborah Forster, an independent in Michigan, are part of a pivotal group who harbored reservations about Donald Trump but helped put him in the Oval Office. PHOTO: FABRIZIO COSTANTINI FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL



By
JANET HOOK
Wall Street Journal



President-elect Donald Trump owes his election in 2016 in part to voters like Deborah Forster, an independent in Michigan who had deeply mixed feelings about the Republican nominee.

Ms. Forster, a 52-year-old attorney, voted for Mr. Trump mostly because she didn’t want Democrat Hillary Clinton to win. Now she is nervously watching as he prepares to enter the White House. She likes some of his cabinet picks, but isn’t pleased with his penchant for sending harsh tweets about everything from the U.S. intelligence community to actress Meryl Streep.

“I am hoping that Trump begins to speak and act like the intelligent businessman that I’m sure he is,” she said. “I’m hoping he stops tweeting like a 13-year-old boy and starts acting like an adult.”


Ms. Forster is one of a pivotal bloc of voters who harbored reservations about Mr. Trump but helped put him in the Oval Office. According to exit polls, 18% of voters had a negative view of both major party candidates, and nearly half of them voted for Mr. Trump.

Their evolving view of Mr. Trump—whether their qualms are relieved or exacerbated by his performance—could tip the balance of public opinion, affecting how much leverage Mr. Trump will have with Congress and his prospects for uniting the country.

The Wall Street Journal identified a pool of these voters, people who said last fall in Journal/NBC News surveys that they preferred Mr. Trump but with some reservations and concerns about his temperament. They will be interviewed periodically through the Trump presidency as a window into whether he is winning converts or losing support.

Despite complaints from supporters, Mr. Trump shows no sign of giving up his use of Twitter. In a weekend interview with the Times of London, Mr. Trump said, “the tweeting, I thought I’d do less of it, but I’m covered so dishonestly by the press, so dishonestly, that I can put out [on] Twitter” a fast response that is viewed by millions.


Daniel Gallegos II, of Colorado, objects to Donald Trump criticizing corporations for moving jobs out of the U.S. PHOTO: THEO STROOMER FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL



A Trump transition team spokeswoman said Mr. Trump “is always going to be clear about his principles, honest with the American people and committed to fighting for American jobs.”

As of now, voters generally are giving him the benefit of the doubt. Many are pleased with his cabinet picks, but are uneasy with his attacks on people and broad, often confusing, statements of policy that he circulates on Twitter.

“So far I think he’s doing a decent job,” said Matt Triplett, 47, a Republican salesman in Dublin, Ohio. “But I sure wish he’d get off Twitter. The guy is a loose cannon. I’m going to sit back and be entertained by what’s going to be transpiring. But it’s a little unnerving.”

Mr. Trump’s high-profile moves to pressure companies such as Carrier Corp., an air conditioning manufacturer, to keep jobs in the U.S. is speaking to people like Cathy Coats, a former Barack Obama voter in Raleigh, N.C., who has been out of work for three years.

“I am cautiously optimistic,” she said. “If he does what we want him to do—on immigration, jobs—then he will be an excellent president.”

She worries that he is already easing off his demand that Mexico pay for building a wall on the southern U.S. border and softening his tone on immigration policy.

“I may be jumping the gun a little myself, but I am wondering why we haven’t heard anything about deportation of illegal aliens,” said Ms. Coats, 59, an Army veteran who had worked in marketing.

John Brickner, 78, a Republican former school superintendent in Wilbur, Neb., is eager to see the new administration roll back regulations of the Obama era, but was uneasy about Mr. Trump’s postelection rallies. “When he comes on with those damn rallies, I turn the TV off,” Mr. Brickner said.

Mr. Trump’s decision to nominate Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., to be secretary of state and Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama to be attorney general eases his concerns. “The more I read about his choices the better I feel about it,” Mr. Brickner said. “These are people who will do what needs to be done. I like it that they are not all career politicians.”

Mr. Trump hit it out of the park for Carol Jansson, 54, a former home-school teacher in Acworth, Ga., when he picked as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a noted advocate for school choice.

Like many social conservatives, Ms. Jansson supported Mr. Trump because of his abortion policies. And one of her highest hopes for Mr. Trump is that he cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood, an issue that the president-elect has sent mixed signals about.

Polls indicate that Mr. Trump on Election Day benefited from some 11th-hour switches from people who had been backing third-party candidates like libertarian Gary Johnson.

One of them is Daniel Gallegos II, 53, of Commerce City, Colo., a post office worker and libertarian who now objects to Mr. Trump’s calling out of corporations over moving jobs out of the U.S. and his threatening to impose tariffs.

“Donald Trump appears to be economically ignorant,” he said. “I really don’t like the strong arm tactics on business.”

Mr. Trump’s success as president may also hinge on winning over voters like Beckie Toney, 49, of London, Ohio, an independent who was so turned off that she ended up voting for neither Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. Trump. Still, she is willing to keep her mind open to the new president.

“He is the winner and we have to give him a chance,” she said. “You are the president and I will respect it. We need someone who will bring us together. We needed to get an outsider.”

—Peter Nicholas contributed to this article.

Friday, January 13, 2017

How Republican's Can Pass Immigration Reform Now, Here's How





By Stephen A. Nuno

NBC




As President-elect Trump prepares for his term in office, Republicans in Congress have stumbled out of the gate with an ill-advised attempt to gut an independent ethics office that investigates House lawmakers and staff accused of misconduct. But if the GOP is looking for an easy victory that could put the Democrats on their heels, they may look no further than a compromise on immigration reform.

Immigration reform has been difficult, mainly because of one important disagreement between the GOP and the Democrats; what to do with the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. Democrats desire a pathway to citizenship for this population; they have touted the economic and social benefits and it doesn't hurt that new citizens also means new potential voters.

However, Republicans have been opposed to a pathway to citizenship, saying this would reward illegal immigration and sidestepped the legal system, despite the many incentives businesses provide to undocumented labor. Some in the party have also used thinly veiled racially charged arguments against a pathway to citizenship because these immigrants would dilute the social fabric of the country, ie. they may be less likely to assimilate into American culture. And frankly, given the GOP's performance with minority voters, the party knows they have a demographic disadvantage with new Latino and Asian voters that would only be made worse by extending this population with the right to vote.

Immigrants without documentation are faced with daily struggles. It is difficult to work without proper identification. They are susceptible to human and labor rights violations because of their status. Their status is also a source of extreme stress for their families, many of whom are citizens. An undocumented immigrant may be pulled over for a traffic infraction and be taken to a detention facility without any notice to their family which can last weeks or months.

Moreover, many undocumented immigrants were young when they migrated to the United States and had no idea that they were not processed properly until later in their lives. Recall that Senator Ted Cruz, who is married to a corporate banking executive and who has a law degree from Harvard University, did not discover that he was a Canadian citizen until he announced his candidacy for President. Cruz was also the longest serving Solicitor General of Texas who argued nine cases before the Supreme Court.

However, a key compromise exists between the two parties that is both acceptable to the majority of voters in the country and would humanely solve the immigration issue. Perhaps as important, immigration reform would be beneficial to the economy and to Donald Trump's investment portfolio.

Marco Rubio floated an immigration reform plan that addressed the most important issues outlined above in 2012; a plan that granted undocumented immigrants a pathway to legalization without a special pathway to citizenship. His proposal became the basis for a compromise under the "Gang of Eight" proposal the following year, which died when an upswell of dissent rose from the Republican grassroots. But while Rubio's plan was also cast as unacceptable to Democrats because it did not provide an explicit path to citizenship, President Obama was praised for implementing a temporary reprieve program for Dreamers, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which was essentially the same as legalization without a special path to citizenship.

For undocumented immigrants, the economy, and Donald Trump, the benefits are immediate.

"Increasing immigration is a guaranteed way to boost economic growth. Immigrants boost the supply and the demand side of the economy," says economist Alex Nowrasteh with the conservative Cato Institute. Even for immigrants already here without status, formally integrating them is a boost to economy, says Nowrasteh.

Legalization brings undocumented immigrants out of the shadows so that they may work, take their kids to school, go to church or participate in society without fear of being torn from their families.

Research from the social sciences shows that greater social integration increases immigrants' assimilation into American culture, like speaking English and gaining the education they need to maximize their contribution to the economy. And as Pew Research has shown, many immigrants do not desire to be citizens even if offered.

Legalizing undocumented immigrants who can then freely participate in the economy brings them formally into the community. For Donald Trump, a real estate mogul, the benefits are obvious. Nowrasteh of Cato says, "The smallest estimated effect of immigration on rental prices is that a 1 percent increase in population from immigration increases rents by 1 percent. A huge impact."

The case for immigration reform that includes a path to legalization without an explicit path to citizenship is obvious for all except those who either see immigrants as a threat to cultural purity in the Republican party or those in the Democratic party who see their value only in what they can provide in votes.

But a great majority of voters in the 2016 wanted undocumented immigrants to be offered legal status. Exit polls during the election showed that 70 percent favored legal status, and these data have been consistent for years. Voters are not resistant to legal status, except that the real point of disagreement is over what "legal status" actually means.

Politically, a Republican solution to immigration reform would put Democrats in a difficult spot. Obama enjoyed a majority in Congress in his first term in office and could not get immigration reform through, largely because the GOP was united against it and a few Democrats in red districts defected against the party. Obama had also largely expended all of his political capital on health care reform. But the inability to get immigration reform passed was one of the biggest failures of the Obama administration. The GOP can start by settling an issue that is long overdue.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Challenging D.C.'s Tradition Of Unpaid Government Internships









1995 White House Interns with US Senator Diane Feinstein on her visit to the West Wing.

NPR's Parth Shah wrote a great piece on interns in Washington DC and its hardships of working full-time unpaid internships. My personal experience as a White House intern in 1995 with President Clinton's administration was an experience of a life time. That opportunity still to this day opens doors in my career as a lobbyist.

As a USC student with limited financial means, we had to save money prior to starting our full-time internship program in addition to taking a full load of classes at USC's Washington DC program. It was impossible to get a second job because that meant we would not sleep. So with the limited funds that supported our tuition, books, rent and food...we took advantage of the intern "grapevine".

The "grapevine" was a word of mouth of communicating between interns from the White House to the Capitol Building and every Federal department in between. We would know about events where we controlled the "RSVP" list and add fellow interns in order to further network but more importantly eat and drink for free. This was also during the time of the 1995 Federal shut down, where interns were basically running Washington DC because the budget did not affect us, since we were free labor.

My  parents who immigrated in the late 60's from Colombia came from a humble background and sent money whenever they could to add to my limited savings account to survive in DC. But in all honesty, if it was not for all the hard work, struggles and opportunities offered to me, I would not be the person I am today. We share great memories from meeting the leadership of America of both government and business, to sharing struggles as with fellow my interns (including Monica Lewinsky).


 Written by Parth Shah
  NPR

The Department of Labor has guidelines for companies that want to keep unpaid interns. Essentially, unpaid interns have to be treated like students and shouldn't do the work of paid employees.
Those rules, however, don't apply to government agencies.
"If America runs on Dunkin' Donuts, D.C. runs on unpaid internships," says Carlos Vera, the founder of a campaign called Pay Our Interns. The campaign's guiding principle: how much money your parents make shouldn't keep you from getting work experience.
Vera interned at the White House in 2014.
"For any person that loves politics, it's a dream being at the White House," Vera says. "Once I was on that other side, I realized it's not as glamorous as sometimes you think."

Because of the full-time hours and the high cost of living in Washington, D.C., Vera says, unpaid government internships are out of reach for many people from low-income backgrounds. It's something that hits close to home for Vera.
White House interns are expected to work unpaid from at least 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
"One thing that the White House required is you had to bring in a suit every day," he said. "And that's something that they don't think about: Suits cost a lot of money. So my dad, my two aunts, and my uncle had to all pitch in money just so I could just buy one suit."
According to Money magazine, interning for the summer in cities like D.C. can cost upwards of $6,000. In a statement to NPR, White House officials said while the internship is unpaid, interns can earn academic credit. Vera says many government agencies offer academic credit as a form of compensation.
"At my university, school credit is [$1,467]," Vera says, referring to the per credit cost at his alma mater, American University. "You're paying to intern for free."
Reynolds Graves interned at the White House in 2011 and says unpaid internships are a rite of passage.
"You cannot put a price on the knowledge you obtain from an unpaid internship in these marble hallways, whether it's Capitol Hill or the White House," he says.
The White House internship was just one of the unpaid internships Graves did during college. He worked part time and dipped into savings to get by.
"Maybe you've got to bus tables after work. You know, everyone else gets off work, you don't get to go hang out," Graves said. "There's no shame in that and I think that would even build more grit."
Graves says interns can also seek out grant funding. That's what Ermolande Jean-Simon did when she was a White House intern. She got a $5,000 stipend from her alma mater, Boston University. But even with that money she still had to rely on family and friends to help her get by.

Vera says there shouldn't be so many obstacles for people from low-income backgrounds looking to do an unpaid government internship.
"Without that kind of support, I don't think I would have even been able to even do the internship," she said.
"People shouldn't be precluded from starting a career in public service based on their socioeconomic status," he says. "That's so anti-American in many ways."
Vera says his campaign is keeping a close eye on government agencies that don't pay their interns. As new elected officials come in, Pay Our Interns will be pushing to make intern wages a priority.