Democrats search for answers to GOP’s migrant stunts
As the Justice Department considers an investigation into Ron DeSantis, New York’s mayor warns his city is running low on resources to handle the influx of asylum seekers from the southern border.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Republican Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida have shown no indication that they’ll end a controversial practice of sending migrants to Democratic safe-havens, as the Justice Department explores a possible legal response and local officials like New York City Mayor Eric Adams grapple with strained resources to accommodate the transfers.
Florida State Sen. Shevrin Jones told me that DeSantis’s actions are out of the same playbook used by Govs. Abbott and Doug Ducey of Arizona to politicize those who are in need and an attempt to maintain his relevance ahead of a possible 2024 presidential run.
“The people in my district see this not just as Gov. DeSantis’s MO for the last few years, but they are scared that this is what Florida is turning into,” Jones said. “And the question now is: Who’s next? On the ground, the people are fed up with the DeSantis regime.”
Amani Wells-Onyioha, a Texas-based progressive strategist and political operative at Sole Strategies, said the stunt is the latest attempt for Republicans to dehumanize migrants fleeing violence and poverty for a better life and exposes the failure of both the GOP and Democrats to reform our insufficient immigration system.
“The Republicans come at it from a side of just hatred and nationalism: ‘I don’t want these other people in my area, in my town, in my little world,’” Wells-Onyioha said. “And then we have the Democrats that are trying to show people coming to this country that they have every right to be [here] without providing a pathway and streamlined process that’ll get them here.”
Mayor Adams on Monday announced that a mom seeking asylum in the US died by suicide due to the trauma of the multi-day bus ride to NYC.
“The thousands of asylum seekers we have seen arrive in our city came to this country seeking a better life,” Adams said. “Sadly though, yesterday, an asylum seeker in our our facilities took her own life.”
Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, usually someone who stays above the political fray, couldn’t hide his frustration on Friday — days after a group of migrants were bused to the Naval Observatory where he and Vice President Kamala Harris live.
“These people are human beings. They need to be treated with kindness and respect and they weren’t,” Emhoff said at an event to promote the new COVID booster shot. “And we have so-called leaders in this country — rather than focusing on what’s good for the public within their own states — they’re using people as pawns for a political stunt. I think it’s shameful.” (Another bus arrived at the Naval Observatory the next day.)
The night before Emhoff’s comments, President Biden said the Republicans’ anti-immigration policies are another reason Democrats must win the midterms this fall and hold on to both chambers of Congress.
“It’s long overdue for Senate Republicans to come to the table to provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, those on temporary status, farmworkers and essential workers,” Biden said at an event celebrating the Hispanic Caucus Institute on the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month. “We need to modernize our laws so businesses get workers they need and families don’t have to wait decades to be brought back together. It’s time to get it done.”
Related: “What happens when a party rejects humanity?” (Sarah Jones / Intelligencer)
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Mark Frerichs released from Afghanistan
The White House on Monday announced that Mark Frerichs, a Navy veteran held captive in Afghanistan for more than two years, was released in a prisoner swap with the Taliban.
The swap comes just days after President Biden met with the families of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, who are currently wrongfully detained in Russia.
A White House official told me that Frerichs’s release is illustrative of the administration’s commitment to prioritizing the safe return of Americans who are wrongfully detained or held hostage anywhere around the world.
Senior administration officials said the White House saw what it viewed as a narrow window of opportunity this month to make a deal for Frerich’s freedom. Bashir Noorzai, a Taliban member held in US prison for 17 years on drug trafficking charges, was granted clemency as part of the swap. The officials said the government assessed that Noorzai’s return to Afghanistan wouldn’t materially change any risk to Americans or fundamentally alter the contours of the drug trade there.
President Biden spoke with Frerich’s family to share the news of his release. The officials added that Frerich is in stable health and was offered a range of support options once he arrived in Doha, the capital city of Qatar, a Western Asian country. His next steps are up to him and his family to share.
“Resolving each of these cases can and often is every bit as hard as everything you've just heard and more,” an official said. “But a very good day like today proves that success is possible and proves that we'll keep at it until we get there.”
See also: President Biden’s statement … Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement
VP’s voter registration push
Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday is traveling to Orangeburg, South Carolina to lead a conversation with students about mental health and other issues important to young Americans, according to her office.
The event coincides with National Voter Registration Day and is part of the administration’s push to energize a critical part of its coalition less than 50 days before the midterms. The vice president will be joined in South Carolina by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
Harris on Thursday will be in Milwaukee — the most populous city in Wisconsin, a swing state where Democrats hope to pick up a Senate seat — to meet with young Americans and meet with Latino leaders.
In Chicago last Friday, the vice president cited pandemic relief, the Inflation Reduction Act, canceling student debt, making investments to combat the climate crisis and have confirmed more women to the federal bench in history as proof of what’s possible when voters put Democrats in charge.
“Democratic leaders know how to be fiscally responsible,” she said while plugging that the administration has both kept its commitment not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 and reduced the national deficit by trillions.
“Elections matter. Who your governor is matters. Whether they’re going to protect these rights and support these rights to freedom and liberty, it matters,” she said. “Who’s your attorney general matters, whether they are going to protect and defend the principles ingrained in the Constitution of the United States. That matters. Who your local prosecutor is matters if you are in a place that has as many are attempting to do criminalized healthcare providers and are attempting to punish women.”
Biden pays his respects to the Queen
The president this weekend traveled to London to attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth on Monday.
The president on Sunday visited Westminster Hall, the official meeting place for the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, to pay his respects. While en route, large crowds of hundreds were seen gathered behind barricades near Buckingham Palace and Parliament Square Garden ready to snap a photo of Biden’s motorcade. Some kids could be seen sitting on their parent's shoulders trying to get a view.
Biden lavished the late monarch with praise after signing Her Majesty’s condolences book.
“I’ve had an opportunity to meet with an awful lot of consequential people,” Biden said, maintaining a hoarse, somber tone while seated at the table, per reporters who were in the room. “But I can say the ones who stand out in your mind are those whose relationship and interaction with you are consistent with their reputation.”
Biden added that he told King Charles that his mother’s spirit would be with him every step of the way.
“Every minute, every moment. And that’s a reassuring notion,” he said. “So to all the people of England, all the people of the United Kingdom, our hearts go out to you. You were fortunate to have had her for 70 years. We all were. The world’s better for her.”
Related: “Away from the mourning crowds, some Londoners say they hope the monarchy will change” (Rachel Treisman / NPR) … “I don’t mourn the Queen” (Kehinde Andrews / Politico) … “The British royal family has turned a blind eye to its racist past”(Mikhaila Friel, Rachel Hosie and Taiyler Simone Mitchell / Insider) … “The Queen represented racist violence as much as she did glamour” (Scaachi Koul / BuzzFeed News) … “The fantasy behind Queen Elizabeth II’s reign” (Isaac Chotiner / The New Yorker)
Hurricane Fiona continues to ravage the Caribbean
President Biden this afternoon spoke with Gov. Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico from Air Force One while returning from the Queen’s funeral.
The White House has surged federal support to the island as begins its recovery from Hurricane Fiona, with more than 300 federal personnel already working to assist with response and recovery and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell on Tuesday scheduled to meet state and local officials to assess Puerto Rico’s urgent needs.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer this afternoon said that he would get on the phone with Criswell to urge FEMA to approve a temporary 100-percent federal cost share for all emergency protective services that Puerto Rico conducts in the coming days. This would cover the island’s costs for distributing food and water, disaster operations, and emergency medical care.
“I will also join with my colleagues in the New York delegation to send FEMA a letter calling on them to be ready to support Puerto Rico on any upcoming requests for aid,” Schumer said. “The federal response should be swift, robust, and continue for as long as the island needs.”
Fiona, which made landfall as the island was still recovering from the damage of Hurricane Maria five years ago this week, left over a million people without power, over half a million with no running water and displacing thousands to shelters after historic flooding, is expected on Tuesday to pass near Turks and Caicos before strengthening into a major hurricane. (Electricity had been restored to about 100,000 customers overnight but the local power company said it could take up to several days for full power to be restored.) The storm also caused mudslides in the Dominican Republic.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the government agency that forecasts weather, announced in August that it expects an above-normal hurricane season through October.
The NOAA’s 2022 outlook calls for 14 to 20 named storms, of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes. Of those, three to five could become major hurricanes.
Fiona is the sixth named storm and third hurricane this year.
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TODAY IN POLITICS
President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden attended Queen Elizabeth’s funeral and are scheduled to arrive back at the White House this evening.
Biden’s week ahead:
Tuesday: The president will travel to New York City and attend a Democratic National Committee reception.
Wednesday: President Biden will give a speech at the United Nations General Assembly and host a bilateral meeting with Liz Truss, the UK’s new prime minister. He will also host and speak at the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference, which brings together governments, civil society, and the private sector to take bold action in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Biden and the first lady will host the Leader’s Reception at the American Museum of Natural History.
Thursday: The president will attend a Democratic National Committee reception before returning to the White House.
Saturday: Biden will travel to Wilmington, Delaware.
Sunday: The president will return to the White House from Wilmington.
Vice President Harris this evening will swear in Yohannes Abraham to be US Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the vice president’s Ceremonial Office.
Second Gentleman Emhoff spoke at the STC Advocacy Summit 2022, which focused on addressing issues of early childhood education and child hunger. Emhoff also participated in a virtual roundtable on mental health and wellness for the Latino community with officials from the White House and Department of Health and Human Services.
The House is in and will consider several bills to reauthorize the Peace Corps, study job opportunities for immigrants and refugees, increase penalties for human trafficking, and establish national historic parks and monuments.
The Senate is in and will vote to advance the nomination of Florence Pan to be US Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit.
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