As we watched the President's Oval Office presentation last night the Democrat response with Schumer and Pelosi, did either side present anything new, sway anyone to their side or advance the issue of substantive immigration policy? So, the president talked about all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Understanding that people do cross the border illegally, is it having the impact that the president claims? Among those hardest hit are African-Americans and Hispanic Americans. Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs including meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl. Every week, 300 citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90% of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War. Mick Mulveney, the President and others state, "We still don't understand why the Democrats are so wholeheartedly against it. They voted for it in 2006. Then-Sen. Obama voted for it. Sen. Schumer voted for it. Sen. Clinton voted for it. So, we don't understand why Democrats are now playing politics just because Donald Trump is in office." Is that a fair comparison?
1.4 million ex-felons in Florida had their voting rights restored as a result of the November election and the passage of Amendment 4. Yesterday these individuals were actually able to register to vote. Let's quickly explain the history behind felon disenfranchisement. The 15th Amendment which granted AA's the right to vote was ratified in 1870. Felon disenfranchisement was in reaction to that. In 1901, delegates drafting a new constitution for Alabama knew their mission. "Within the limits imposed by the Federal Constitution," convention president John B. Knox explained, the delegates aimed "to establish white supremacy in this state. If we should have white supremacy, we must establish it by law — not by force or fraud." Unable to explicitly ban black voters without violating federal law, the resulting state constitution declared persons "convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude" could not vote without having their rights restored. The right to vote was restored to more than 1.4 million former felons across the state Tuesday thanks to Amendment 4's victory at the ballot box in November. Despite concerns about Gov. Ron DeSantis's comments last month that he wanted to wait to implement Amendment 4 until the Legislature convenes in March, advocates including the League of Women Voters and the ACLU of Florida declared that the measure was designed to be self-implementing and went into effect Tuesday no matter what the Legislature does. A former felon must have completed all parole and probation and paid all fines and restitution. Those convicted of murder or sex crimes are still barred from having their rights restored. Why this exclusion? Was it a compromise to allow Republicans some room to say they did not roll over entirely?
It is alleged that Manafort shared political polling data with a business associate tied to Russian intelligence, according to a court filing unsealed yesterday. The Times reports that the document provides the clearest evidence to date that the Trump campaign may have tried to coordinate with Russians during the 2016 presidential race. What's behind this and is there more to this than the Times is reporting? So, the Times reports that this all came to light as the result of a formatting error. Mr. Manafort's lawyers made the disclosure by accident, through a formatting error in a document filed to respond to charges that he had lied to prosecutors working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. What does that say to you? The article closes with, "The prosecutors could also decide to file new charges against Mr. Manafort for lying to them, but apparently they do not plan to do so, according to Tuesday's filing." If I am to infer all of this intrigue and Russian/Ukrainian connection with Manifort, why would the prosecutors decide not to charge Manafort?
Oscar Chacon —Co‐founder and executive director of Alianza Americas, dedicated to improving the quality of life of Latino immigrant communities in the US, as well as of peoples throughout the Americas.
Desmond Meade — President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), Chair of Floridians for a Fair Democracy, Chair of the Florida Coalition on Black Civic Participation's Black Men's Roundtable, and a graduate of Florida International University College of Law.
Daniel Lazare — Journalist and author of three books: The Frozen Republic, The Velvet Coup and America's Undeclared War.
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