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  • “Fast-Track” Deportation Threatens Due Process


    Everyone’s entitled to their day in court—except illegal immigrants, apparently.

    At least, that’s the Trump administration’s position, in light of its recent expansion of the “fast-track” deportation process. The Associated Press reports that in an attempt to address the crisis on our southern border, immigration authorities have extended the “expedited removal” process to apply to millions more immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. This process allows for the deportation of these immigrants without any appearance before an immigration judge, a shortcut previously reserved for illegal immigrants who had just crossed the border.

    Now, it will apply to any illegal immigrant who has spent less than two years in the country, which potentially includes millions who live, work, and even have children in America. While immigration enforcement is important and the border crisis in dire need of a solution, this is a misstep from the Trump administration. It threatens the right to due process that all people ought to enjoy.

    Yet Trump officials

    expect that the full use of expedited removal statutory authority will strengthen national security, diminish the number of illegal entries, and otherwise ensure the prompt removal of aliens apprehended in the United States.

    Yes, there’s a backlog in our immigration courts that’s interfering with proper, timely immigration enforcement, but the solution there is to expand the number of immigration judges and expedite the judicial process, not skip it entirely.

    Of course, expedited removal does make sense for recent border crossers. If immigration officers catch some sneaking across the border, they shouldn’t have to take them to court before sending them back. But once someone has lived and worked in the United States for two years, they are at the very least entitled to their day in court before being apprehended and deported. Anything less is a betrayal of the principles of due process that make our constitutional system the best in human history.

    As the American Civil Liberties Union’s Omar Jawdat told the AP,

    Under this unlawful plan, immigrants who have lived here for years would be deported with less due process than people get in traffic court.

    Clearly, this kind of system is rife for abuse.

    After all, how are immigration authorities supposed to know who has been here for two years and who hasn’t? It’s not as if illegal immigrants have documentation to prove when they arrived. So in expanding the fast-track deportation process, immigration officials are essentially paving the way for it to be used against many of the millions of illegal immigrants in our country. No matter your views on immigration policy, you should oppose the carrying out of such enforcement without proper process and respect for the rights of all involved.

    Take, for example, the case of Francisco Erwin Galicia, the American-born citizen immigration authorities recently mistook for an illegal immigrant and subjected to abuse so bad he almost self-deported anyway.

    He claims he lost nearly 30 pounds due to hunger while in custody, and wasn’t allowed to shower. It’s certainly true that these horror stories in immigration enforcement are rare, but giving government officials overly broad and dangerously expansive powers exponentially increases the chances of abuse.

    Beth Werlin of the left-leaning American Immigration Council said the Trump administration’s new policy “denies a fair day in court to people who could face death when sent back to their countries.” She makes a chilling point.

    Enforcing our nation’s laws is of the utmost importance. But so, too, is respecting the dignity and rights of all who live in the land of the free—something the Trump administration’s expansion of fast-track deportation simply doesn’t do.

    This article is republished from the Washington Examiner. 


    Brad Polumbo

    Brad Polumbo is an editor at the libertarian media nonprofit Young Voices. His work has appeared in USA Today, The Daily Beast, and National Review. You can find him on Twitter @Brad_Polumbo.

    This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.


  • Mass Shootings Aren’t Becoming More Common–and Evidence Contradicts Stereotypes about the Shooters


    When 22 people were killed in El Paso, Texas, and nine more were killed in Dayton, Ohio, roughly 12 hours later, responses to the tragedy included many of the same myths and stereotypes Americans have grown used to hearing in the wake of a mass shooting.

    As part of my work as a psychology researcher, I study mass homicides, as well as society’s reaction to them. A lot of bad information can follow in the wake of such emotional events; clear, data-based discussions of mass homicides can get lost among political narratives.

    I’d like to clear up four common misconceptions about mass homicides and who commits them, based on the current state of research.

    By Monday morning after these latest shootings, President Donald Trump along with other Republican politicians had linked violent video games to mass shootings.

    I’ll admit my surprise, since only last year the Trump administration convened a School Safety Commission which studied this issue, among many others. I myself testified, and the commission ultimately did not conclude there was sufficient evidence to link games and media to criminal violence.

    Long-term studies of youth consistently find that violent games are not a risk factor for youth violence anywhere from one to eight years later. And no less than the U.S. Supreme Court declared in 2011 that scientific studies had failed to link violent games to serious aggression in kids.

    A 2017 public policy statement by the American Psychological Association’s media psychology and technology division specifically recommended politicians should stop linking violent games to mass shootings. It’s time to lay this myth to rest.

    Early reports suggest that the El Paso shooter was a white racist concerned about Latino immigration. Other shooters, such as the perpetrator of the Christchurch, New Zealand, attack, have also been white supremacists.

    Overall, though, the ethnic composition of the group of all mass shooters in the U.S. is roughly equivalent to the American population.

    Hateful people tend to be attracted to hateful ideologies. Some shootings, such as the 2016 shooting of police officers in Dallas, were reportedly motivated by anti-white hatred. Other shooters, such as the 2015 San Bernardino husband and wife perpetrator team, have espoused other hateful ideas such as radical Islam.

    Most mass homicide perpetrators don’t proclaim any allegiance to a particular ideology at all.

    Of course, mass homicides in other nations—such as several deadly knife attacks in Japan—don’t involve U.S. race issues.

    As far as gender, it’s true that most mass homicide perpetrators are male. A minority of shooters are female, and they may target their own families.

    Whether mental illness is or is not related to mass shootings—or criminal violence more broadly—is a nuanced question. Frankly, proponents on both sides often get this wrong by portraying the issue as clear-cut.

    As far back as 2002, a U.S. Secret Service report based on case studies and interviews with surviving shooters identified mental illness—typically either psychosis or suicidal depression—as very common among mass homicide perpetrators.

    As for violence more broadly, mental illness, such as psychosis as well as a mixture of depression with antisocial traits, is a risk factor for violent behavior.

    Some people suggest mental illness is completely unrelated to crime, but that claim tends to rely on mangled statistics. For instance, I’ve seen the suggestion that individuals with mental illness account for just five percent of violent crimes. However, that assertion is based on research like one Swedish study that limited mental illness to psychosis only, which is experienced by about one percent or less of the population. If one percent of people commit five percent of crimes, that suggests psychosis elevates the risk of crime.

    It’s also important to point out that the vast majority of people with mental illness do not commit violent crimes. For instance, in one study, about 15 percent of people with schizophrenia had committed violent crimes, as compared to 4 percent of a group of people without schizophrenia. Although this clearly identifies the increase in risk, it also highlights that the majority of people with schizophrenia had not committed violent crimes. It’s important not to stigmatize the mentally ill, which may reduce their incentive to seek treatment.

    So improving access to mental health services would benefit a whole range of people and, by coincidence, occasionally bring treatment to someone at risk of committing violence. But focusing only on mental health is unlikely to put much of a dent in societal violence.

    Mass homicides get a lot of news coverage which keeps our focus on the frequency of their occurrence. Just how frequent is sometimes muddled by shifting definitions of mass homicide, and confusion with other terms such as active shooter.

    But using standard definitions, most data suggest that the prevalence of mass shootings has stayed fairly consistent over the past few decades.

    To be sure, the U.S. has experienced many mass homicides. Even stability might be depressing given that rates of other violent crimes have declined precipitously in the U.S. over the past 25 years. Why mass homicides have stayed stagnant while other homicides have plummeted in frequency is a question worth asking.

    Nonetheless, it does not appear that the U.S. is awash in an epidemic of such crimes, at least comparing to previous decades going back to the 1970s.

    Mass homicides are horrific tragedies and society must do whatever is possible to understand them fully in order to prevent them. But people also need to separate the data from the myths and the social, political and moral narratives that often form around crime.

    Only through dispassionate consideration of good data will society understand how best to prevent these crimes.

    This article is reprinted from the conversation.


    Christopher J. Ferguson

    Christopher Ferguson holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Central Florida. He has clinical experience particularly in working with offender and juvenile justice populations as well as conducting evaluations for child protective services. In 2013 he was awarded a Distinguished Early Career Professional Award from Division 46 (media psychology and technology) of the American Psychological Association. In 2014 he was named a fellow of the American Psychological Association through Division 1 (General Psychology, effective January, 2015). In addition to his academic work he has published a historical mystery novel entitled Suicide Kings. He lives in Casselberry, FL with his wife and son.

    He’s coauthor of “Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games is Wrong.”

    This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.


  • I Immigrated to the US to Pursue the American Dream, Not to Pay for Your College Degree


    Candidates were back at it last week, competing to see who could present the best student loan forgiveness plan. Sure, that might appeal to some of the party’s base and America’s cash-strapped millennials. But for roughly 46 million immigrants like me, the idea that the government should forgive student loans is totally unfair. After all, when we came here, our idea of the American Dream was to work hard for a brighter future—not for the government to pick our pockets.

    I understand the motivation behind these proposals; alleviating student debt sounds ideal. I came from Russia to attend grad school in the US, so I know just how expensive tuition can be. But when I got my degree from Stony Brook University in New York, I did so without taking out a single loan. And it wasn’t because I was Hawkings-brilliant or Gates-wealthy. I planned meticulously, made sacrifices, and worked hard. This, I believed, was the way Americans did things and got what they wanted.

    Affording US tuition wasn’t easy for my lower-middle-class family, even at America’s cheapest schools. So, to earn the scholarships I had to have, I went above and beyond. While others partied, I spent my weekends studying and engaging in extracurricular activities that would boost my resume. When I didn’t understand a subject, my parents hired tutors with the little savings they had. While most of my classmates enjoyed their summers off, I was working at a department store six days a week from seven in the morning to 11 at night, building up savings for graduate school.

    As a result, I was offered a tuition waiver and a graduate assistantship, which included a stipend and health care benefits. I had to work as a teaching assistant and later a research assistant for next to minimum wage. Even with this financial package, there were times when I couldn’t even afford so much as a cup of coffee with my classmates, which made it more difficult to socialize and fit in.

    I knew that immigration wouldn’t be easy, so like many of my fellow immigrants, I chose a major that maximized my chances for an employer-sponsored visa and a decent income. I struggled against the natural pull of humanities and performing arts—creative professions that would have been a great fit for my personality and interests. But I literally could not afford the risk of being unemployed. Instead, I pursued a path that would still be professionally satisfying for me while also paying the bills. After all my classes, internships, and networking, I graduated with an MA in economics and political science. And, as a result, I found a well-paying job with benefits.

    I’m not alone. There are millions of highly-educated, foreign-born individuals in the US workforce with stories like mine. We took an entrepreneurial approach to our lives, seeking to better ourselves and live the American dream. That’s why it’s disappointing to see some Democratic presidential candidates push programs that would heavily tax people who have worked and saved for their future.

    To give you a sense of the fiscal impact of some of the proposals, let’s take a look at their estimated cost. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plan of canceling up to $50,000 in student debt would cost an estimated $640 billion. Sen. Bernie Sanders is proposing wiping out all of the existing student debt—a sum of about $1.6 trillion. To be fair, not everyone jumped on the wagon. Some of the candidates proposed smaller-scale solutions to the issue. And yet, although the specifics of how all the presidential candidates would raise the funds to cover their proposals differ, rest assured, in one way or another it will come out of taxpayers’ pockets.

    To boot, college loan forgiveness proposals don’t even address the root issue of the problems they claim to fix.

    Without a basic understanding of debt and future earning potential, there will always be a risk of overspending while young and becoming indebted for life. And low levels of financial literacy are still one of the primary reasons that millions of Americans are taking out student loans they then struggle to pay back. But basic financial knowledge could teach people to plan for their educations, mortgages, and retirement savings and give them the personal finance management skills they need. Some independently operated schools are already teaching financial literacy in places where parents don’t even have bank accounts.

    But proposing student loan forgiveness programs is just misguided. After all, a free lunch still isn’t free, and all Americans, foreign-born and natives alike, will end up paying the bills for these costly proposals. And for immigrants like me, that doesn’t quite look like the American Dream we thought we’d signed up for.

    Jen Sidorova


    Jen Sidorova

    Jen Sidorova is a Young Voices contributor and a policy analyst at the Reason Foundation. You can find her on Twitter @Jen_Sidorova.

    This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.