Editorial Roundup: United States

Jan 30, 2024, 11:57 AM

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:

Jan. 26

The Washington Post says Congress is moving backward when it comes to country’s ‘dreamers’

Congress’s border deal talks might be ongoing, but in one essential area, legislators are moving backward: The ‘dreamers,’ undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children, have been left out of the conversation.

Since the first version of the Dream Act was introduced almost a quarter-century ago, support for the young people who are Americans in every sense but the legal one has been a bright spot of bipartisanship amid acrimony. Almost every immigration compromise that legislators have contemplated has included a pathway to citizenship for these 3 million or so individuals — including a 2022 framework constructed by Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), who was a Democrat at the time. Yet today, as lawmakers scramble to secure the votes for a package focused on security and asylum, the issue has scarcely been mentioned. Meanwhile, trouble in the courts leaves the fate of the dreamers as uncertain as ever.

President Barack Obama’s program to help the dreamers, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), was supposed to be a temporary solution to a problem Congress would, eventually, solve. By granting work authorization and immunity from deportation to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as minors, met certain educational requirements and presented no threat to public safety, the executive action offered a cohort of motivated noncitizens the opportunity to grow freely in the only nation they’ve known.

The idea was that legislators would transform this reprieve into a road for dreamers to become citizens. Instead, Congress did nothing. The half a million or so current DACA recipients must renew their status every two years, while approximately 2.5 million dreamers brought here too late to qualify for DACA remain at constant risk of being sent “back” to somewhere they’ve scarcely lived. There are also 100,000 more dreamers who do qualify for DACA but whose applications went unprocessed thanks to covid-era delays. Now, they’re at risk of deportation, too.

It gets worse: Even those 500,000 current DACA recipients could soon lose their status. A federal judge in Texas recently ruled President Biden’s reinstatement of DACA (the program was suspended during Donald Trump’s tenure in the Oval Office) a violation of federal law. Recipients can keep their status as litigation continues. But the conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit will hear the case next. After that, the case could reach the Supreme Court, where a conservative majority might yank the program out from under immigrants who’ve relied on its protections to start careers and families. More than 300,000 U.S.-born children have at least one parent with DACA. Suddenly, they could be forced to leave everything behind.

The issue isn’t only that this situation is unjust, though it is. The issue is also that leaving the dreamers to languish is a tremendous waste — of talent, enterprise and devotion to the United States. DACA costs the federal government next to nothing. Its recipients don’t receive the benefits, from Pell Grants to go to college to Medicare to cover their doctors’ bills, that citizens do. But they pay $495 to renew their status every two years, and they pay their taxes. Two dreamers have won Rhodes scholarships. Hundreds are doctors and medical students; thousands work in health care in other capacities. Three-hundred forty thousand were deemed essential workers during the pandemic. Many dreamers who attend college major in education and go on to teach.

The country needs more doctors. It needs more teachers, and it needs teachers bilingual in English and Spanish especially. Many dreamers would love to fill these roles but cannot; many DACA recipients are already filling them today, and forcing them out will hurt their employers, their patients, their students and more.

Why, then, is Congress forgetting the dreamers this time around? However poisoned against immigrants the political conversation may have become, lawmakers from conservative districts shouldn’t be afraid to vote for a position that the vast majority of Americans support. Congress has plenty of options before it: Some version of the Dream Act would be the best of them. Such a policy would allow everyone who came here as a child the ability, by meeting educational, workforce or military requirements, to apply for permanent legal status — starting, most likely, with a green card.

But there are more modest alternatives, if this is too much for legislators to countenance, such as allowing the current DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship or allowing the 100,000 whose applications are in limbo the same privilege. At the very least, Congress could codify DACA so that the current recipients can keep their status — can stay, as advocates refer to it, “DACA-mented” forever without worry. Even the federal judge who struck down DACA in September recognized that these young immigrants have come to rely on the program. The country also relies on them.



Jan. 25

The Wall Street Journal says GOP shouldn’t give up on border security bill

Mitch McConnell created a Beltway stir Thursday when the press reported that the Senate GOP leader had cast doubt on a deal for border security and aid to Ukraine and Israel. Republicans said later the stories were overbaked, but Mr. McConnell is right about the choice Republicans face at a dangerous moment at home and abroad.

The Kentucky Republican was noting the reality that the deal faces political headwinds, and he is right to warn his colleagues that their window for a rare accomplishment is waning. Donald Trump is trying to torpedo any agreement, which could cause a GOP stampede away from a deal.

Public frustration over border failures is coming to a boil, and Mr. Trump is hoping to ride this back into the White House. Meanwhile, Speaker Mike Johnson is down to a hairline majority in the House, and he lives under daily threat of defenestration by members of his own party. Some House Republicans are demanding nothing less than their own preferred border bill, known as H.R. 2. That measure commanded no Democratic support in the House, and it won’t miraculously win over the Democrats needed to clear the Senate.

Yet giving up on a border security bill would be a self-inflicted GOP wound. President Biden would claim, with cause, that Republicans want border chaos as an election issue rather than solving the problem. Voter anger may over time move from Mr. Biden to the GOP, and the public will have a point. Cynical is the only word that fits Republicans panning a border deal whose details aren’t even known.

The GOP would also abandon the best chance in years to fix asylum law and the parole loophole that Mr. Biden has exploited. Mr. Trump while President in 2018 complained that such dysfunctions precluded him from fully restoring order to the border.

“The biggest loophole drawing illegal aliens to our borders is the use of fraudulent or meritless asylum claims,” he said in a speech while noting “the only long-term solution to the crisis” is “for Congress to overcome open borders obstruction.”

In other words, Mr. Trump—or whoever put this speech in front of him—used to understand that the President needs Congress to fix the underlying incentives at the border. Yet now Mr. Trump is whipping up Republicans against legal changes that would put him in a strong position to stop the migrant surge if he manages to defeat Mr. Biden in November.

Mr. Trump may imagine he can strike his own border deal if he wins, but that’s highly unlikely. Democrats are willing to discuss asylum and parole changes now because President Biden and Democrats are suffering in the polls from the ugly scenes on television. If Mr. Trump returns to Washington, the left will revert to its factory settings of opposing all Trump priorities. Especially if Mr. Trump sabotages a bipartisan deal now.

Then there’s Ukraine, the U.S. friend in Europe now running out of ammunition to fight Vladimir Putin. Most Republicans still want to help Kyiv, no matter the decibel-level of Ukraine’s critics in Congress. But few voices these days are willing to stand up and say so because they fear Mr. Trump will trash them for it. A border-Ukraine deal offers some cover for a hard Ukraine vote, and a political and policy victory to tout at home.

The political alternatives are worse. If negotiations fail, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will eventually put the Ukraine bill up for another vote, and he should. If the GOP blocks the bill in either the Senate or the House, it will share responsibility for whatever happens next in Ukraine. Kyiv’s defeat will be signed with the party’s signature.

Do Republicans want to sponsor the 2024 equivalent of Saigon 1975? Mr. Trump may think a Ukraine defeat will help him, but don’t be so sure. As President he would inherit an emboldened Mr. Putin, with NATO allies in a panic, and adversaries around the world who think the U.S. really is in retreat. He won’t be able to solve that problem in 24 hours.

The House punted negotiations before Christmas on the theory that Ukraine could hang on until February without a fresh weapons infusion. Now another month has passed. The U.S. is careening into a moment of growing dangers around the world. Both a tighter border and a vote for a stable Europe are in the American interest. Better to act now than to fail and live with the consequences.



Jan. 24

The Los Angeles Times says Haley is right to not abandon her presidential campaign

With Donald Trump’s decisive victory in the New Hampshire Republican primary, the possibility of anyone else securing the party’s presidential nomination is vanishingly small. That depressing reality doesn’t mean that former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley should abandon her campaign to overtake Trump, which she vowed to continue.

“New Hampshire is first in the nation — it is not the last in the nation,” Haley said, promising to carry her campaign to her home state’s GOP primary on Feb. 24.

Haley is right to suggest that it is wrong for the nomination to be sewn up because of results in the first two contests. The front-loading of the nomination process in both parties can effectively disenfranchise voters in states with later contests. An additional reason for Haley to persevere is the possibility, however remote, that Trump’s constellation of legal difficulties — four criminal indictments — might lead to second thoughts among Republican voters in future contests.

Yet the uncomfortable reality is that Trump’s status as a defendant seems not to have chilled the ardor for him among his supporters; the indictments may even have helped his campaign by allowing him to portray himself as a victim. He also has benefited from the contemptible deference he has received from leading figures in his party and the reluctance of most of his erstwhile Republican rivals to treat him as the threat to democracy that he is.

Haley recently has been harder on Trump — questioning his mental acuity and rejecting his claim that he won the 2020 election — but she was among the candidates who raised their hands when asked in a debate last August if they would support Trump if he were nominated even if he had been convicted of a crime. She also suggests, plausibly, that she would be a stronger general election candidate against President Biden. That claim is supported by the strong support she apparently received in New Hampshire from independent voters.

Yet it seems that many Republican voters — and the craven politicians who want to stay on their good side — are inured to the arguments against a Trump nomination. They remain wedded to the former president despite his two impeachments, despite his complicity in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol and despite his threat to exact “retribution” on behalf of his supposedly ill-treated supporters. (Trump later said, not reassuringly, that “I’m not going to have time for retribution.”) This is alarming, even if one believes that Biden can successfully leverage concerns about Trump’s conduct and temperament to eke out a victory in November.

Given the unpredictability of events, it is ominous that one of the two major parties would nominate such a manifestly unfit demagogue for the presidency. But that is where America finds itself.



Jan. 26

The Guardian says Israel should immediately comply with the ICJ’s ruling

It is a bitter twist of history that 75 years after the horrors of the Holocaust saw the UN adopt the genocide convention, Israel is likely to find itself in the dock of the international court of justice accused of being intent on destroying the Palestinians “in whole or in part”. Hundreds of people – mainly women and children – are dying every day under Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip, a death rate reckoned to be the worst of any major conflict this century.

South Africa filed an application instituting genocide proceedings against Israel at The Hague a month ago. On Friday, the world court said it had established that at least some of the acts alleged by South Africa fell within the provisions of the convention. While a final judgment is years away, this was a historic decision by the court. It was not made lightly by jurists in the middle of a war that was sparked by a horrific Hamas attack last October that left 1,200 Israelis dead.

Some may be disappointed that the court did not issue a provisional measure ordering a ceasefire in Gaza. That would be to miss the significance of The Hague’s judgment. The measures it did call for – including directing Israel not to commit or incite genocide – reveal that not only is protection for ordinary Palestinians urgent, but that there is a plausible claim of the Gazan population being decimated. Given the desperate humanitarian situation in the coastal strip, it is a very good thing that the court has reached its decision so quickly.

Israel is a signatory to the genocide convention, over which the ICJ has jurisdiction. It should comply with the court’s ruling immediately, and preserve evidence related to the case. The ICJ rightly did not spare Hamas, demanding that the hostages it holds must be freed. The militant group’s role in death and destruction should not be forgotten. While South Africa welcomed the measures describing the ruling as a “decisive victory for the international rule of law”, Israel’s national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, posted on X saying “Hague schmague”, and the defence minister, Yoav Gallant, said his country did “not need to be lectured on morality”. Such words will see Israel isolated in the world.

Domestic rather than international concerns shape the response of Benjamin Netanyahu’s extreme rightwing government. There is a depressing circularity to its refutation of the court. Since the judges at The Hague only ordered the prevention of genocidal acts, and as Israel denies any genocidal acts are being committed, Mr. Netanyahu will probably try to use this rejectionist logic to take no meaningful action. But Israel’s friends and allies, especially those who see themselves as upholding the international legal order, do not have that option.

The court has few powers of enforcement. States that respect international law must ensure the ICJ’s measures are implemented – and report back with Israel’s compliance efforts within a month. Western nations – including the UK and the US – that belittled South Africa’s case ought to swallow their words. There have been efforts to broker a deal between Hamas and Israel to expedite aid deliveries into Gaza, halt the fighting and get hostages out. Governments need to urgently use their leverage to ensure that the ICJ’s order is enforced. The scale and severity of suffering in Gaza demands nothing less.



Jan. 28

China Daily says the ICJ declaration on Israel should spur action in international community

A 17-judge panel of the International Court of Justice declared on Friday that Palestinians had a right to be protected from acts of genocide. They called on Israel to “take all measures within its power” to prevent acts which could fall foul of the 1948 Genocide Convention, and to allow the entry of desperately needed humanitarian aid into the Palestinian enclave.

There was no explicit call for an immediate halt to Israel’s full-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip in the provisional ruling on the case brought against Israel by South Africa. But the court said it was deeply concerned about the continuing loss of life and human suffering in Gaza, and “acutely aware of the extent of the human tragedy unfolding in the region”.

When innocent Palestinian people have been displaced from their homes, do not have provisions for maintaining subsistence, and are even placed at risk of being killed at any time, the ICJ’s orders should function as a call for the international community to show enough concern for what has been happening to Palestinian people in Gaza.

The ICJ also ordered Israel to “prevent and punish the direct and public incitement to commit genocide”, and Hamas to release all the remaining hostages it is holding.

Israel was also ordered to preserve evidence related to allegations of genocide and report back to the court on its compliance with these measures in a month.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres underscored in a statement that despite being a provisional judgment the “decisions of the Court are binding” and all parties should duly comply with the order from the Court.

As far as the security of Israel is concerned, the attacks on innocent Israelis and young people from other countries participating in a music gala in early October last year should definitely be condemned. But while Israel has the right to defend itself and bring the perpetrators to justice, it does not have the right to punish the Palestinian people as a whole for that.

The court pointed out that its provisional measures are necessary as there is “a real and imminent risk that irreparable prejudice will be caused to the rights” of Palestinians before the court issues its final decision, which is expected to take at least a year.

The ICJ’s decisions cannot be appealed, but it has no way of enforcing them. In addition, it did not order Israel to end its military action in Gaza. Israel will certainly continue its military operation.

Yet, the ICJ’s orders serve as a reminder to Israel that the world is watching what it is doing. The orders should also prompt some major countries to stop turning a blind eye to what Israel is doing in Gaza. They should stand with the rest of the international community and do whatever they can to mediate a cease-fire.


National News

Associated Press

Man accused of holding girlfriend captive in Minnesota college dorm room reaches plea deal

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A man who was accused of holding his girlfriend captive in her dorm room at a Minnesota college for three days while raping, beating and waterboarding her has reached a plea deal that calls for a sentence of up to 7 1/2 years. Keanu Avery Labatte, 20, of Granite Falls, […]

23 minutes ago

FILE - Voters depart an election center during primary voting, May 21, 2024, in Kennesaw, Ga. Conse...

Associated Press

Conservative groups are pushing to clean voter rolls. Others see an effort to sow election distrust

Conservative groups are systematically attempting to challenge the legitimacy of large numbers of voter registrations across the country before the presidential election. The strategy is part of a wider effort raising questions about the integrity of this year’s election as former President Donald Trump repeatedly claims without evidence that his opponents are trying to cheat. […]

58 minutes ago

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference May 31, 2024, in New York. Fac...

Associated Press

The Latest: Republicans gear up for their convention as Dems struggle over Biden as nominee

Republicans are gearing up for their convention next week while Democrats are still struggling with whether President Joe Biden should stay on as their candidate in the November election. In a sign of how important Pennsylvania is for both parties, Vice President Kamala Harris, former President Donald Trump and first lady Jill Biden are all […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Garvey points to his supporters as he walks on the st...

Associated Press

Steve Garvey visited Israel, but will it win over California voters in Senate race against Schiff?

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Looking to boost his longshot bid for one of California’s U.S. Senate seats, Republican Steve Garvey traveled to Israel last month searching for room to run against U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff — a Jewish Democrat known for his support of America’s key ally in the Middle East. It’s common for politicians […]

2 hours ago

Actor Alec Baldwin reacts during his trial for involuntary manslaughter for the 2021 fatal shooting...

Associated Press

Case dismissed against Alec Baldwin in fatal shooting of cinematographer

A nearly three-year legal saga for Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer ended Friday with the actor cleared of wrongdoing.

3 hours ago

FILE - Leaders take their seats for a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council during the NATO summit in...

Associated Press

With words, deeds and arms deals, allies make the case for NATO in terms that would appeal to Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — European allies in NATO are stepping up their military spending, just as Donald Trump wanted. They’re pointing to common interests, such as concerns over China. They’re creating American jobs by buying U.S. weapons. In words, deeds and arms deals, leaders of the United States’ partners in NATO are making the case for […]

4 hours ago

Editorial Roundup: United States