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Dems Have a Meltdown Over ICE

Tony Perkins · Jul. 14, 2018

Sometimes, the stories out of DC just write themselves. After making the entire summer about ending immigration enforcement, Democrats finally have the chance to vote on it. There’s just one problem: They don’t want to. When Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) agreed to put their bill closing the office of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on the floor, liberals panicked. About that whole “abolishing ICE” thing, their messaging seemed to say, “Just kidding.”

The headlines only made a bad PR situation worse. “Dems Say They’ll Vote No on Their ‘Abolish ICE’ legislation,” The Hill reported. For the GOP, it’s a perfect opportunity to expose the other side’s insincerity on the border crisis. When push comes to shove, even they don’t believe in the immigration “solutions” they’re offering. “Democrats have been trying to make July … about abolishing ICE, which is a radical, extreme position that would lead to open borders and undermine America’s national security,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) said. That may explain why, when the time has come to defend their legislation, they can’t.

Speaker Ryan, who still plans on calling the Democrats’ bluff with a vote on ICE, could only shake his head. “It’s the craziest position I’ve ever seen,” he said. “They’re just tripping over themselves to move too far to the Left. They are out of the mainstream of America.” And, maybe more importantly, out of the mainstream of their own party. According to Politico, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is “fuming over the liberal move to eliminate the agency,” arguing that it distracts from the real solutions Americans are looking for.

Despite all of the backlash, the bill’s sponsors — Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) — are still trying to convince people that their bill wasn’t a political stunt (a tall task since they all “plan to vote no”). In one of the more hilarious sound bites of the day, the trio said, “We look forward to the day that we have meaningful action on the issues covered by our bill.” What do they think a vote on their legislation is? It doesn’t get more “meaningful” than that.

But for a party desperate to win back congressional control, fanning the flames of its radical wing is one thing — winning elections with fruitcake policies is another. Based on the latest polling, these Democrats are risking plenty with a rallying cry at odds with the majority of voters. It’s pretty obvious why the party doesn’t want a vote on its bill. While it’s been a great stunt that’s kept its agitators employed, according to Politico, only 25% of Americans side with the call to end ICE. Inside the party, the idea is just as unpopular. “I think you’re assuming the Democratic Caucus isn’t together on this,” Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) argued with reporters. They’d be assuming right. Sixty percent of Democrats (and three-in-four swing voters) agree that we should keep ICE. Even Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Democrats’ ranking member of the U.S. Senate, isn’t on board. “No American likes the separation of children … but ICE does do some things that are very important.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) spelled out some of them. “Think about what ICE is able to do. Just in the last year, more than 900 children were saved from human trafficking. Think of the thousands of pounds of drugs [that’s been stopped].” And ICE’s importance isn’t limited to immigration. It’s also the main law enforcement agency focusing on terrorism, as The Heritage Foundation’s David Inserra points out. Do we really want America overrun with drugs, rapists, traffickers, and gangs like the MS-13 factions that are ripping apart public high schools?

To understand where a world without ICE would lead, read this column from The Washington Post about an area school where kids are so terrified to go to school that they bring their parents in with them. A world where teenagers come home with warning bullets in their hoodies. Or where a trip to the bathroom could mean a trip to the hospital because you’ve been beaten almost to death. Or where the path home takes you past trees blackened by fire or gashed from knife practice. Where girls are raped by gangs, but afraid they’ll be killed if they report it. In other words, a ticking time bomb.

The other side is playing politics while a very real crisis explodes. We don’t need grandstanding. We need solutions. And how serious is the other side about finding them? Based on this bill, not very.

Originally published here.

Cohen Through the Motions at SPLC

The Southern Poverty Law Center didn’t have a lot of respectability to lose, but whatever is left after its ties to domestic terrorism, legal settlements, public apologies, and critical journalists won’t be nearly enough. The organization is floundering, and even its multimillion-dollar offshore accounts won’t be enough to save it.

The latest shoe to drop, a $3.4 million dollar payout to another victim — wrongly labeled “extremist” Maajid Nawaz — is playing havoc with SPLC’s image as a credible resource. Major media outlets and mainstream newspapers are finally piling on the group for years of recklessness and shady dealings. “The Southern Poverty Law Center Has Lost All Credibility” was the headline in The Washington Post late last month after the Nawaz scandal exposed just how dangerous the SPLC’s agenda is. “They put a target on my head,” Nawaz said. “The kind of work that I do, if you tell the wrong kind of Muslims that I’m an extremist, then that means I’m a target.”

In 24-hour damage mode, SPLC President Richard Cohen has tried to fire back at the group’s growing number of critics — but the organization’s savagery of everyday Americans and leaders is making that a near-impossible task. Like a lot of people, the Post’s Marc Theissen, who accuses the group of “years of smearing good people with false charges of bigotry,” gave the SPLC the benefit of the doubt at first. After all, he wrote, “The SPLC is a once-storied organization that did important work filing civil rights lawsuits against the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s.” But, he points out, that’s all changed. SPLC “has become a caricature of itself, labeling virtually anyone who does not fall in line with its left-wing ideology an ‘extremist’ or ‘hate group.’”

Cohen would beg to differ, claiming: “Ninety-nine percent of the organizations we list as hate groups wouldn’t be disputed by anyone. A handful, however, operate with the political sphere and are seen by some as closer to the mainstream. In our view, that makes it even more important to expose their bigotry… One of the groups Thiessen claims we’ve wronged, the Family Research Council, is a case in point… [They are] clearly outside the mainstream.”

That’s a pretty generous statistic for an organization that actually believed a U.S. Cabinet secretary (Dr. Ben Carson) belonged on its “extremist list,” along with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (who was later shot by a fan of SPLC, James T. Hodgkinson), mainstream legal groups that argue before the Supreme Court like Alliance Defending Freedom, and dozens of other political opponents SPLC is desperate to marginalize.

On MSNBC this week, Cohen proved that he’s learned nothing from SPLC’s string of public embarrassments. Instead, he lays the vicious rhetoric at the feet of the president. “We’re seeing a real fraying of social norms in our country that’s being brought about by our changing demographics and the political rhetoric that we’re hearing particularly from Mr. Trump and his administration.” He goes on to suggest that the uptick in “hate crimes” is Trump’s fault, completely neglecting SPLC’s role in providing fuel for violence. “The president,” he argues, “needs to change his rhetoric.”

What about SPLC’s rhetoric — the kind that inspired Floyd Corkins to walk into FRC, armed with enough ammunition to kill everyone in our building? “I wanted to kill the people in the building and then smear a Chick-fil-A sandwich in their face … to kill as many people as I could.” When the FBI asked him why FRC, Corkins said simply, “It was, uh, Southern Poverty Law. I found them online. I did a little bit of research, went to the [SPLC] website.”

Coming up on the sixth anniversary of that shooting, SPLC’s “hate map,” directing its army to conservative groups like FRC, is still online. So for Mr. Cohen to blame the president for inciting violence is a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black.

Originally published here.


Freedom in the Balance for U.S. Pastor in Turkey

It was just supposed to be a routine trip to renew his visa. But for Pastor Andrew Brunson, it was the start of his worst nightmare. After more than 20 years in Turkey, the country he and his U.S. family considered home put him behind bars — the start of the darkest chapter of his life.

A year and a half later, government officials still insist that he was conspiring against Turkey — bogus charges that Brunson has flatly denied. “I’ve never done anything against Turkey,” the emotional pastor said in his first trial. “I love Turkey. I’ve been praying for Turkey for 25 years. I want the truth to come out.” American leaders have been doing their best to make sure it does, fighting fiercely for Pastor Andrew’s release. Sixty-six members of the Senate, 154 members of the U.S. House, and his state legislature in North Carolina have called on Turkey to let the husband and father go. Republicans and Democrats alike have raised their voices, even going so far as to block Turkey from buying our fighter jets until the pastor is on his own plane back to the U.S.

“Any time an American is wrongfully detained anywhere by a foreign government, it is our country’s duty to do everything we can to bring him or her home,” insisted Democrat Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who, along with Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), has championed the cause with the Trump administration. The White House has pressured Turkey publicly and behind closed doors to use Pastor Andrew’s next hearing, July 18, as an international show of goodwill. Otherwise, if convicted, Brunson faces 35 years in prison — a sentence that his family worries could destroy him. Emotionally and physically fragile, Pastor Andrew spends 24 hours a day in his cell, leaving, Open Doors USA reports, for one hour of visits each week.

In statements, Pastor Brunson has said, “Let it be clear, I am in prison, not for anything that I have done wrong, but because of who I am — a Christian pastor. I desperately miss my wife and children. Yet, I believe this to be true — it is an honor to suffer for Jesus Christ as many have before me. My deepest thanks to all those around the world who are standing with me and praying for me.”

As fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to continue lifting up Andrew and the entire Brunson family in prayer. As I Corinthians 12:26 says, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.” Pastors, I encourage you to lead your churches in a special time of prayer this weekend before Wednesday’s trial. Pray for peace for Andrew, wisdom for U.S. leaders, and compassion from Turkish officials. One local newspaper is predicting the “imminent” release of Pastor Brunson — let’s pray it’s right!

Pastor Brunson has asked that we stand with him in prayer, so let him know that you’re standing with him. Sign our prayer pledge, and one of my fellow commissioners on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Kristiana Arriaga, who is traveling to Turkey to be with Pastor Brunson, will deliver your message.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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