Sharon (moonshaz) wrote in ontd_political,

Ladies, gentlemen, and non-binary folks--welcome to the Twilight Zone!

It Took Donald Trump 8 Days To Bring The U.S. To The Brink Of A Constitutional Crisis

It took little more than a week in office for President Donald Trump to thrust the nation to the brink of a constitutional crisis.

Late Friday, Trump issued an executive order forbidding millions of refugees, hundreds of thousands of visitors and 500,000 legal immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. Over the following 48 hours, massive protests erupted in cities and airports nationwide, courts temporarily blocked major parts of the order, the administration defied the courts and Democrats called for an investigation into the administration’s defiance. As the weekend drew to a close, an anonymous White House official proclaimed the whole episode a “massive success story.”

The federal courts thought otherwise. On Saturday night, a judge in Brooklyn ordered the Trump administration to stop deporting refugees and visitors immigration authorities had previously cleared to enter the country. Two judges in Massachusetts ordered that travelers who were legally authorized to be in the United States shouldn’t be detained at or deported from Logan International Airport for a period of seven days. A judge in Seattle halted the deportation of two travelers. And a judge in Virginia issued an order requiring the administration to allow lawyers access to lawful permanent residents — also known as green card holders — whom Customs and Border Protection agents had detained at Dulles International Airport on Trump’s instructions.

When federal judges rule, government officials — up to and including the president — are supposed to obey or risk being held in contempt of court. A government that ignored the courts would be able to violate the law and the Constitution at will. So for more than two centuries, the nation’s courts have had the last word on what’s legal and constitutional — and what is not. “We are and will remain in compliance with judicial orders,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement Sunday evening.

But there was little indication that the Trump administration has fully complied with the court orders — or that Trump’s inner circle even believed the administration had to do so.

“Saturday’s ruling does not undercut the president’s executive order,” a senior White House official told NBC News midday Sunday in reference to the Brooklyn judge’s decision. “All stopped visas will remain stopped. All halted admissions will remain halted. All restricted travel will remain prohibited.”

CBP officials refused throughout the weekend to obey the Virginia judge’s order to allow lawyers access to detainees at Dulles. “It’s not going to happen,” they told attorneys who hoped to represent the detained people. When Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) showed up at the airport shortly before midnight Saturday, CBP officials refused to meet with him, according to reporting by The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff.

“I am now of the belief that though this was issued by the judicial branch, that it was violated tonight,” Booker said, brandishing the order. “And so one of the things I will be doing is fighting to make sure that the executive branch abides by the law as it was issued in this state and around the nation. This will be an ongoing battle ... I believe it’s a constitutional crisis, where the executive branch is not abiding by the law.”

The next morning, four Democratic members of the House of Representatives went to the airport and tried and failed to convince CBP to obey the order.

“We have a constitutional crisis today,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), one of the four House members who went to the airport, tweeted Sunday.

”I am deeply disappointed by what happened at Dulles… and how the order was ignored,” Booker added later. “There must be accountability for this.”

Detentions continued in California, too, according to the state’s junior senator.

“I have received reports from attorneys in CA that agents are continuing to deny or delay entry to America to visa holders and others,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) tweeted shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday. “This violates the federal court orders and it is imperative [Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly] ensures all staff are notified and comply with the law.”

On Sunday night, Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Richard Durbin (Ill.), the second-highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general requesting an investigation into the agency’s handling of Trump’s executive order and response to the court rulings. The senators asked the IG to figure out whether any CBP officers disobeyed court orders, what they did, and who ordered them to do it.

“The United States Constitution means little if law enforcement agents disregard it,” Duckworth and Durbin wrote. “The American people are relying on your independent investigators to serve as a check against a powerful law enforcement agency that may be ... operating in violation of the law.”

The weekend’s events had all the makings of a constitutional crisis, two law professors told HuffPost.

Disobeying a court order “is a big deal for any government official — federal, state, local, executive, legislative, whatever,” said Abner Greene, a law professor at Fordham University. “Obedience to specific court orders is what keeps us from being a banana republic or fascist dictatorship. That’s a really big deal.”

The chaos “doesn’t just risk a constitutional crisis,” argued Michael Dorf, a professor at Cornell Law School. “Assuming the report is accurate, it creates one.” If the Trump administration believes that the court orders limiting the president’s executive order are unlawful, it can file an emergency appeal, Dorf noted. But “outright defiance,” he added, “can only be deemed disrespect for the rule of law.”

Source: HuffPost

Watch Democratic Congressmen Try To Enforce A Federal Court Order At A D.C. Airport

DULLES, Va. ― Nearly 24 hours after a federal judge ordered U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Washington Dulles International Airport to grant attorneys access to green card holders detained as a result of President Donald Trump’s executive order, customs officials continued to deny them access.

But the obstruction went event further. Customs officials refused to speak with several members of Congress who arrived at Dulles to demand that CBP comply with the court order.

Airport police officers cordoned off the area where CBP was questioning detained travelers and were preventing anybody from entering. Washington-area Democratic Reps. Gerry Connolly (Va.), Don Beyer (Va.) and Jamie Raskin (Md.) demanded that airport police officers allow them to at least speak to customs officials, but the cops claimed they could do so only if CBP allowed them to.

“I am Gerald Connolly, I’m a member of Congress, I represent right up to this airport and we’re asking for access to the people you’re detaining,” Connolly said.

“And what I’m telling you now is I have a major going back to discuss this with CBP. We’re gonna ask them if you can come back,” said John Damskey, deputy chief of police for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. “If they say yes, absolutely fine, I’ll take you back there myself. If they say no, we’re gonna ask them to come out and talk to you. It’s up to them.”

Connolly argued that even as an airport police officer, Damskey was legally bound to allow them to speak to CBP to ensure the authorities’ compliance with the court order.

“Your job is to enforce the law,” Connolly said, his voice rising with irritation. “We have a federal judge who has ruled that anybody being detained is entitled to legal representation. Have they been denied that right or are they in fact getting legal representation?”

“What do you see your responsibility as in terms of enforcing a legitimate federal court order?” Connolly persisted.

“I want you to know that the Dulles police have actually been very helpful with the legal team,” a lawyer told him off camera.

“And I want them to know that I’m going to be a pain in the ass,” Connolly shot back.

After the standoff with the Dulles cop, Connolly was handed a phone. On the other line was CBP’s congressional liaison office. Connolly tried to get a straight answer from them but got nowhere.

At one point in the conversation, a frustrated Connolly exclaimed that the official knew nothing since they were calling from a Washington office and he was actually on the scene at Dulles.

It was clear that the three congressmen, joined later by Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), were not getting answers from anyone. At one point, Raskin, talking to a throng of reporters and volunteer immigration lawyers, asked: “Is this America?”

In the last 24 hours, Raskin said he’s received five or six emails from constituents who are concerned about their status or a family member’s status. “The rule of law is on a tightrope in America right now,” he said.

“The Republicans have to decide if they want to walk the plank with this guy,” he added.

“The official word is no one is being detained,” Beyer said.

But given the length of time many travelers are being held for questions, it is hard not to see much of the treatment as a form of detention, he noted.

Beyer also ventured that customs officials were not speaking to them, because “they don’t want to come on camera and answer to members of Congress.”

The virtually unprecedented sight of members of the legislative branch of U.S. government trying with little success to enforce orders from the judicial branch against the will of the executive branch has already prompted some to suggest that Trump’s executive order is sparking a constitutional crisis.

Shortly before midnight on Saturday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) faced similar resistance when he sought answers from CBP about detained travelers’ access to attorneys. Customs officials required him to communicate with them by exchanging notes, rather than speaking to him in person, The Daily Beast reported.

Meanwhile, the blanket ban on travel and immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen continues to cause hardship for many foreign nationals with long-standing approval to enter the country.

Meanwhile, the blanket ban on travel and immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen continues to cause hardship for many foreign nationals with long-standing approval to enter the country.

Saif Rahman, 38, said he was one of 16 people held by customs on Sunday. He said eight looked to be African men. One was an elderly woman in a wheelchair despairing that she needed to reach her daughter. Rahman said he had flown in from Istanbul with a stop in Frankfurt. He thought most of the people he saw being detained were from his flight. There were customs officials waiting at the door to take people as they got off his plane.

In one case, Rahman said, he saw a customs official looking through a detainee’s phone. They were inspecting their social media accounts. That seemed unusual.

Rahman, a father of three who lives in Falls Church, had immigrated to the U.S. from Iraq as a young boy. During the Iraq War, he went back to his home country to help with the new government, he said.

In his work, Rahman had met both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. “It doesn’t seem to make any difference,” he said.

After meeting his family at baggage claim, Rahman said, he wanted to stay in the airport in case people needed a translator.

Already the ban on entry from certain Muslim-majority countries appears to be having a spillover effect. There were stories of travelers from non-blacklisted nations being unable to reach the U.S. or facing unusually tough screening upon arrival.

Beyer met and had his picture taken with a family who had come to protest. Their cousin, they said, is in a diabetic coma at Howard University Hospital. The man’s mother was not allowed to board a flight to D.C. from Qatar, said his cousin, Limia Ellebab, 44.

Another man was being detained as he got off a flight from Nigeria. He was part of a group taking part in a two-week training at the Department of Agriculture, explained Kabir Laden Chika, who was part of the group and was on the man’s flight.

Source (HuffPost) has video with embed code that doesn't work at LJ (evidently).

Senate Democrats Call For Investigation Into Trump Officials’ Failure To Obey Court Orders

Illinois Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin want an investigation into the Department of Homeland Security’s response to a federal court order that temporarily halted parts of President Donald Trump’s recent immigration-related executive order.

In a letter sent Sunday night to DHS Inspector General John Roth, Duckworth and Durbin ― the Senate’s second-highest-ranking Democrat ― called for the department’s Office of the Inspector General to lead the investigation into DHS and Customs and Border Protection’s conduct.

In a copy of the letter obtained by The Huffington Post, the senators said DHS and CBP’s execution of Trump’s executive order was “chaotic,” raising “serious concerns” over whether taxpayer dollars were wasted enforcing an order the senators said was unnecessary and of no benefit to national security.

The letter also cited concerns over reports that legal permanent residents were detained at Chicago O’Hare International Airport Saturday “for long periods of time with no access to legal counsel” and allegations that “CBP Officers and potentially other Department personnel, failed to comply with a temporary restraining order.”

The senators concluded the letter adding:

“The United States Constitution means little if law enforcement agents disregard it, or if Americans are unwilling to defend its principles and respect foundational constitutional rights, from due process to equal protection under the law.”

On Sunday, DHS appeared defiant in the face of the federal court order, saying in a statement: “President Trump’s Executive Orders remain in place — prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the U.S. government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety.”

The federal order protects “holders of valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas” from the seven banned countries and ruled no one arriving on an inbound flight shall be “detained or returned based solely on the basis of the Executive Order.”

The Constitution requires the executive branch, which includes DHS, to obey federal court orders as a check on its power.

The department categorized the number of people affected by the sweeping bans as “minor.”

The executive order Trump signed on Friday affects refugees, immigrants and people with certain dual U.S. citizenship. It bars all refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days, bans Syrian refugees indefinitely and prevents individuals from entering the U.S. if they are from seven specific Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

There was significant confusion among federal agencies and travelers Saturday after the Department of Homeland Security was left to interpret an order that Trump had hastily signed without the usual input from DHS or the Department of Justice.

The order was initially understood to apply even to U.S. green card holders before DHS Secretary John Kelly affirmed Sunday night the order would not, in fact, impact those people, who are also known as legal permanent residents.

Late Saturday, a federal judge temporarily halted parts of the executive order after the American Civil Liberties Union and refugee relief organizations filed an action in the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn on behalf of two Iraqi nationals who were detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

As travelers around the U.S. were detained upon arrival, massive protests formed at major international airports in cities like New York, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco and Boston.

Several Democratic lawmakers, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Cory Booker (N.J.) and Bob Casey (Pa.), joined in the Saturday protests and vowed to fight the order.

“This order was mean-spirited and un-American,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the next day at a press conference.

Source: HuffPost

Related stories:
Customs And Border Officials Defy Court Order On Lawful Residents
Protests Against Trump’s Executive Order Don’t Let Up

Wow, a constitutional crisis less than two weeks into his term? This thing is getting more surreal by the minute. Drumpf's complete and total lack of understanding of the Constitution and the way the US government works is pathetic. (No, Donnie, you are NOT above the law. The potus does not have the autonomy of a CEO or the autocratic powers of a fascist dictator!)

AND, in addition to being just plain wrong, this executive order banning Muslims was handled in such a half-assed way that even before the legal shit hit the fan, there was massive confusion among the people responsible for enforcing it as to exactly who it applied to, etc., leading to massive inconsistencies in how it was being applied at different airports across the country. AND we have the Dept of Homeland Security saying it will obey the court order (“We are and will remain in compliance with judicial orders.”), while Customs and Border Patrol (which is actually part of the Dept. of Homeland Security!) not only refuses to do so but also violates the principle of due process by refusing to let affected people talk to lawyers. AND members of the legislative branch of the government showing up at airports trying to get the executive branch to obey a court order issued by the judicial branch--weird! This situation is fucked up on so many levels that it boggles the mind. I can't even imagine wtf is going to happen next. I just hope Corey Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Dick Durbin, Tammy Duckworth, et al. really mean it about pressing for an investigation and they're not just making a bunch of noise in order to look like they're doing something.

Tags: american civil liberties union (aclu), california, chuck schumer, civil rights, clusterfuck, congress, constitution, court/federal court, democracy doesnt work that way, donald trump, elizabeth warren, excuze me wtf r u doin, facepalm, fail, fuckery, god damn, homeland security, illinois, immigration, incompetence, iran, iraq, islamophobia, law, libya, massachusetts, muslims, new york, protest, refugees / asylum seekers, shit just got real, somalia, sudan, syria, texas, think i just threw up a bit in my mouth, this is why we cant have nice things, this looks like a job for cory booker, washington d.c., yemen
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