Behind the Headlines – March 9, 2018

Behind the Headlines – March 9, 2018


– (female announcer)
Production funding for Behind the Headlines is made possible in part by: the WKNO Production Fund, the WKNO Endowment Fund, and by viewers like you.
Thank you. – The state of immigration
and the Dreamers in Memphis. Tonight, on Behind
the Headlines. [dramatic orchestral music] – I’m Eric Barnes, publisher
of the Memphis Daily News. Thanks for joining us. I’m joined tonight
by Mauricio Calvo, executive director
of Latino Memphis. Thanks for being here. – Thank you. – (Eric)
Jennifer Sciubba is a professor of international relations
at Rhodes College. Thank you for being here. – Thank you. – John Smarrelli
is president of CBU. Thanks for being here again. – Great to be joining you Eric. – (Eric)
Along with Bill Dries, senior reporter with
the Memphis Daily News. So as we tape this, we’re
actually taping this on Tuesday, the show’s
obviously airing on Friday. We’ve passed the deadline
for DACA and the Dreamers, and I may turn to you,
Mauricio, to back everyone up, ’cause those terms
now get thrown around a lot without
much definition. Define the Dreamers,
define DACA, and the significance
of this deadline that, in a way, was
not as significant as it maybe seemed
like it was gonna be because of some
legal maneuvering. Can I put all that on you? – That’s a very interesting
question you just gave me. Well I mean, so let’s
go back a little bit. Obviously DACA was
an executive order put in place by President Obama in lieu of inaction
from Congress. So the time, you know,
the President said, you know, these children,
these people who came as children to
the United States, if they meet certain criteria, let’s say they have been
here for a number of years, they have a clean criminal
record, they register, they’re eligible to have
some kind of limbo status, some kind of protection. So DACA stands for Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals, it’s a very long acronym. But basically, it’s
telling immigration, as the executive, somebody
who oversees immigration, these children are undeportable if they meet all
these conditions. Fast forward a few years, this was a renewable
thing every two years. During the campaign,
President Trump said, Candidate Trump
at the time said, I wanna get rid of
this thing on day one. He didn’t, he let it
go for a little longer into the first few months
of the administration. And he put this artificial
deadline of March 5th, said, you know, on March
5th, this thing is over. And his reasoning
was, let Congress pick it up and make some
legislative solution, which sounds like a good idea, except that, you know,
they pulled the rug before anything was in place. Like no recommendations
on policy. So, all this is to say that March 5th was a really
artificial deadline. In the last few
months we have seen, you know, everything
from activists to top politicians
talking about DACA and finding a
permanent solution, but as expected, nothing
has been able to happen. What is the hope that
we have at this point is several states sued
the administration, it went all the way to
the courts of appeals, and it’s being held there. The President tried to rush
it through the Supreme Court and the Supreme
Court said, you know, we’re not gonna listen to this. Bottom line, DACA
is still in place, it’s hanging from
a string, really. But pretty much, the
Supreme Court said, we’re not gonna listen to this. Yes, you have the right to
pull an executive order, but you’re gonna
harm a lot of people. – And about how many DACA
kids are there in Memphis, give or take, in
Tennessee, whatever number. Give some sense of
the local impact. – I mean, so it’s
hard to know exactly, but our estimate,
probably Memphis has about 3,500 to 4,000 DACA students. The state of Tennessee
has over 12,000, and most of them are
divided in the major cities. – And John, you’ve
been on the show before for any number of
things going on at CBU. One is, though, CBU has been
a real advocate for DACA, invited DACA kids and
undocumented immigrants into the school
and has been very loud about that going
back a number of years. Your take on where we
are with DACA right now. – Anxiety, anxiety, anxiety. Our students are
just concerned about what the future holds for them, what’s gonna happen in
terms of legislation. So what we’ve been trying
to do is push legislation, how can we push legislation to get a permanent
solution to DACA. And really, that’s gonna
be our M.O. going forward. How do we get
legislation going forward so that these students
will be protected? Because certainly, they’re
incredible individuals, there are social opportunities,
economic opportunities, they love this country, and all they want is
a permanent solution to stay in a country
which they love. – And I’ll turn to
you, Professor Sciubba. And some of this comes,
some of this show that we’re doing, in part,
about three weeks ago we did a show in conjunction
with American Creed, which is a special that PBS did which is on the website,
the American Creed show is, as well as the
special we did on it. But from your point of view, you’re a professor of
international relations focused a lot on demographics. Your perspective on
where we are now, as a country, you can
localize as much as you want, on the attitudes
toward immigration and the role of immigration,
which has become so, I mean, some would say,
and some would say rightly, that’s what got
President Trump elected. Others, obviously
critical of that. I mean there’s different
points of view. But how does that fit in the
holistic picture of immigration historically in
the United States and maybe compared
to other countries. – Well, it’s nothing
new, basically. So we’re, here in
this moment it feels so nasty that it can’t possibly, feels like a break from the
past, but it’s not at all, it’s just a continuation
of more of the same. Because alternately
throughout America’s history, we’ve been open to immigration and then we’ve closed the door. And a lot of it has been based, the times that we’ve closed
the door, on race, ethnicity, particular country of
origin, singling people out. So the U.S. becomes an official
country in the late 1700s and by the late 1700s
a few years later, we have our first exclusionary
immigration policy. They wasted no time doing that. There’ve been all kinds
of laws to keep out Chinese, Asian Exclusion
Act, Chinese Exclusion Act. We’ve also had laws,
immigration quota laws in the 1920s to try to
specifically keep America white by restricting people
from other countries. And so, we’ve also had policies where we’ve been open to people. Typically during war is when the United States is more
open to immigration. During the Civil War and during World War II with the
with the Bracero Program to bring in laborers
from Mexico. So it’s back and forth
always in American history. So what we see
today is in a sense just a continuation of the past. – And we’ll come back and
talk a little bit about, I wanna get Bill in here, but I’m also curious
about other countries, ’cause we sometimes
think, you know, America first or America
is the only country struggling and trying
to deal with this, and obviously the
Trump Administration is pointing at some other countries and how they do immigration. But let me first turn to Bill. – So, Mauricio, in
watching the arc of this since the 2016 presidential
general election, do you think the way
forward on resolving this one way or another,
in terms of DACA, is with the courts, or
is it with Congress? – No, I mean as an advocate, I am happy to hear that the
courts have put an injunction, just kind of put the
brakes on this thing while the legislative
process takes place. I mean, nothing beats
legislative process. That’s the way to go, that’s
the way our constitution is. That’s the ultimate goal. I mean the reality is, and we
say this over and over again, is Congress is so broken. They cannot get anything done. And they are acting
based on elections and just political gains
rather than good policy, and that is the
frustrating thing. So I mean, on theory,
legislative approach would be always the best thing, but sometimes you need
all these other pressures, including the courts,
to allow for that. I mean just right
now, it seems that, and rightfully so
with gun control, I mean it seems
like DACA has taken, nobody’s talking
about that, right? And rightfully so,
but it’s just like, these things have
to rise to the top and create enough pressure. I mean some people
were saying, like, did the Dreamers shut
the government down? It’s all these
dynamics of politics that are both fascinating
and frustrating, because nothing gets done. – John, how is the
anxiety affecting the role of Dreamers in the life of
Christian Brothers University? – In general we try
to educate them, but their families, most of
them are first generation, have no concept of college. The fear of deportation, their families are putting
tremendous pressure on them, saying, you may
wanna quit school because, you know,
you’re gonna be deported, you need to save
your money, work, save your money, because
deportation could occur. Those are the kind of fears
that these individuals have, and what we’re trying to do
is work with Latino Memphis, thank god for some
of their lawyers, and with our own
administration to say, no, there’s opportunity
there, stick with it, stay with the
program and hopefully there’ll be a
legislative solution. What I’ve tried to do
is go to Washington, try to, you know, influence
our congresspeople, work with community
leaders to try to influence our
congressional people, because that’s the way it is. I mean, our country wants
these Dreamers to stay. Eighty-six percent or whatever
the latest poll said, that they want these
Dreamers to stay. We’ve got an economy now that, essentially we have
100 percent employment. Given our current
unemployment rate, we need trained individuals
to contribute to our economy, and what better
population than this Seven or eight hundred
thousand across the country of individuals who can
contribute to this country by getting a good,
high quality education. – Does the uncertainty
create its own dynamic in how this unfolds, in
how this gets resolved? – You mean does
the uncertainty for – (Bill)
Yes. – Yeah, it does. It leads to making
bad decisions. And I’ll give you an example. So, there is an open
window right now where people can
renew DACA, right? Because of the injunction
of the Supreme Court, I mean, of the court of appeals. So they, people can actually
renew their DACA right now. You cannot apply for the
first time but you can renew. Well some people are
not applying, for fear, because you know, you’re saying, alright, so I’m gonna
turn all my information, right, exactly. So you want people to
do the right thing, but you know, like you said, the circumstances
and the anxiety might stop some people
from doing the right thing, and I think that’s just like, one example of a
consequence of the climate. – Jennifer, in terms of
the historical perspective, what I’m struck by is that,
in looking back at this, the civil rights
acts of the 1960s had a lot of effect
on where we are, and people really don’t
know that, in terms of its impact on who is allowed
to come to the United States and where our immigration has
gone in the last 50 years. – Yeah, that’s exactly
what, you know, when you look at the composition of the people who
are here today, it’s shaped by this 1965
law, immigration law, and that’s what, you know, you were talking about the
legislative impasse a second ago and I wanted to mention
something about that. So nothing’s getting
done, and that is in part because immigration is
not a Republican issue and it’s not a Democrat
issue, as well. It really divides the
parties within themselves, because you have these
pro-business Republicans who often, because of
the employment situation, they really want to be
more open to immigration. I mean we even have
businesses in Memphis, we’re home to a lot
of big businesses, they need people brought
here to fill their tech jobs. So they need more H1B Visas, as they wanna see that program
expanded and fast-forwarded. But then also on
the Republican side, we know that there
are people who are very nervous about the changing
demographics of America, the shift in
identity and the fact that America’s becoming,
frankly, less white. But then on the Democrats’ side, you’ve got people who
are against immigration there as well, and often a lot
of your blue collar workers and your union workers,
they get caught up in the, at least the rhetoric
and the feeling that their jobs are
being taken away. And then on the
Democrat side you have the pro-immigration people who, from a human rights standpoint
or a civil rights standpoint, they wanna see
America more open. So it’s not really in
either party’s best interest to either be very pro-immigrant
or very anti-immigrant, because they’re gonna
lose people on both sides. And I think that’s what
you see happening today. So it makes you very pessimistic about anything
permanently being done. – Let’s stay with that
big picture perspective, in particular on
the labor front, and you and I
talked a little bit before the show about Japan, and Japan was part
of you dissertation. The idea, I mean
Japan I doing well, so no one’s particularly
worried that, you know, they’re going
down the drain or something, but they have a kind
of economic stagnation associated with
their demographics and their shrinking population, and if I’m not
mistaken, Japan has had very restrictive
immigration policies for, of course,
decades, centuries. How is that, just from a
pure economic point of view, playing out in the
Japanese economy? – Well, you know, I
think it is interesting. Japan’s a great case
because it’s our extreme. So they are the most aged
country in the world. Their median age
is 47, which means half the population’s over 47, that’s just tremendously old. – (Eric) By comparison.
[group laughter] – By comparison,
oh no, not perhaps. So by comparison, the
youngest in the world is Niger, and it’s 15. – And what is the United States? – The United States, we’re
looking at like, mid-30s. So we’re in our
mid-30s, robust mid-30s, and then, but 47 is quite
old when you think about, that’s your pool
of people to work. So Japan has purposely,
intentionally chosen, we don’t wanna
bring in immigrants. We see ourselves as a nation. So what they’ve done instead, the reason they’ve been able
to compensate for some of this, is they’ve tried
to bring two groups into the labor
market specifically. One is older workers. So they’ve tried to get rid
of a lot of their labor laws that forced people into
mandatory retirement. You know, they
were so famous for these big, rigid
corporate systems, remember those like
in the ’80s and ’90s? They’ve gotten rid of that, they’ve tried to bring older
people into the workforce, which, because they’re a
pretty healthy country, they can do that. Their average age of exit
from the workforce is 71, which is, in Greece it’s 55. So that’s more
comparison there for you. And they’ve tried to
bring women in as well, and that they have not
had as much luck with, because of the
work-life balance. So, it’s, you know, and that’s
tied in with low fertility. – In the United
States, and I’ll shift, I could do 26 minutes
on demographics, but in the United
States, you’ve got, post-recession, the
idea is that more baby boomers are headed
towards retirement, so we are kind of
moving towards that, where the traditional,
stereotypical white middle class American, whatever
that means, is retiring. But also African-Americans,
I mean boomers are retiring. And so there is this
argument that we, and we’re not growing
the population, and the people who are
gonna work and pay the taxes for the next generation,
for that older generation, are probably gonna
need to be immigrants. That’s a point of view. – The Pew Research Center in
DC, a non-partisan think tank, they’ve projected that 88% of future population
growth in the U.S. Will be immigrants,
new immigrants and their descendants. And that means specifically, the growth we see in
the U.S. population is from people who are
outside the United States. – And if you bring that
to the Memphis area, I mean, I don’t what our
city growth is every year, maybe some years we
might be at a deficit or maybe just
staying right there, and I hate to do this, but like, comparing to Nashville, adding
100 people a day, right? We’re not. And think about, you
know, when you talk about how this is an issue where many pro-business people
are in favor, think about how many
empty apartment complexes or empty houses we
have in Memphis. We have 15,000 job
openings in our city. I’m not saying the immigrants
are gonna solve that, but certainly we’re
part of the equation towards fixing the economy. The more people you have
in any given community, people are buying goods,
paying taxes, creating jobs, it’s really common sense. – To the point though that, and we had, there’s a
bit of a time shift here where we pre-taped
a show with the relatively new U.S.
Attorney Michael Dunavant, appointed by President Trump and Attorney General
Jeff Sessions, approved by the Senate. We taped a week ago, and we talked about
all kinds of things, gun safety, all kinds of issues that are high priorities for
him and for the administration. But we also talked
about immigration. And his point, and I’m
gonna paraphrase him, his point is that,
look, these people are, let’s shift from
Dreamers for a second. Let’s just shift to undocumented
immigrants in the country. He would call them
illegal immigrants. And he would say
they are criminals. They are here
without permission, without a Visa, without
any documentation. They are criminals and he as the U.S. Attorney for West Tennessee is charged with prosecuting
them if, he said, they come into the
criminal justice system. They’re not out there
looking for them. But there is a tone about that, and that’s factually
correct, I assume, they are here illegally, and if you are a
country of laws, how do you handle, from
your point of view, the fact that there are people here illegally, against the law? – Right, I mean, I
would say two things. One is, you mentioned
that he has priorities, Is this really a priority? I mean, with so many
violent crimes in our city, with so many, and in
our nation, you know? I mean, are we putting
the same emphasis on things that really matter and where people are
really being hurt, or I mean, that’s
the number one thing. The number two thing is, I mean, we have
criminalized immigration. Immigration law is
not criminal law. There are criminal consequences
to immigration violations, but it’s a victimless offense. Yeah, so people, and I have
used this example before, people who, under the
Affordable Care Act, do not have health insurance, are in clear violation
of a federal law. Does that make them
a criminal? No! Should there be a
consequence? Absolutely. Should there be a penalty? Yes. Should there be a pathway? Yes. But it doesn’t mean that we need to come and handcuff
people and divide families. So I think the U.S.
attorney’s priorities, in my opinion, are
not set to what the most important things are. – Are we seeing, before
I go back to Bill, and two things, one, to be
fair to U.S. Attorney Dunavant, we spent 20 of the 26
minutes talking about violent crime and
efforts on gangs. And so that clearly is
their highest priority. I just wanna be fair to him, and again, that
interview airs next week. Two, the criminalization. Do you see more, I mean, we
hear about it nationally, I think we’ve seen
some in Memphis, more raids by Immigration
Customs Enforcement, more roundups, more
arrests of undocumented slash illegal
immigrants in Memphis? – What we have, and I think
the national number is that the detentions are 40% higher than the previous year, and that’s obviously thousands
and thousands of people. So, and not only has
the number increased, but the kinds of people
they’re detaining. We have no priorities,
everybody’s a priority. And when everybody’s a priority, that’s a pretty
unsafe statement. Because then you are not
spending limited resources on people who are
truly a priority, and you are just randomly
picking people up. – And you would say priorities, back to what you said before, would be criminal,
criminal immigrants? Undocumented immigrants? – People who have
committed serious crimes that are a danger
to the community. Picking up somebody who is
just driving down the street should not be a priority. – With six minutes left, Bill. – And we’ve talked about
this over several months, that you have seen this. With DACA in the state that
it’s in as of March 5th, has there been an
escalation here with ICE? – We have, I mean, not
against DACA recipients. We haven’t heard that here,
but it has been an escalation. I think the national rhetoric, and again, we have said
this over and over again, my view on this is that because the President is so frustrated and so unable to get
anything accomplished, he always seems to
turn to immigration as a campaign promise that
he can try to deliver on. Because that’s
kind of an easier, low-hanging fruit,
at a very high cost. – From people you
have heard from who have been in
these incidents, what has the role of local
law enforcement been? – Law enforcement has been tremendously good
towards immigrants. I think they understand that it is not their role to
enforce immigration law, and for a number of
reasons, when a community, any community is terrified
of their own law enforcement, it makes for an unsafe
environment for everybody. If immigrants are
afraid of police, they will not report crimes. If they don’t report crimes,
that makes all of us unsafe. So I have to applaud the efforts of our local law
enforcement for saying, we’re not gonna
come and defend you but we’re not gonna
cooperate either. So they have really stayed in
what their jurisdiction is. Enforcing traffic laws,
enforcing whatever, going after warrants when
people have a warrant. But they’re not really
crossing the lines, just like a police officer
will not ask you about your IRS deduction
on your tax return, MPD officers shouldn’t
be asking people about their immigration
status, and they’re not. – Are you watching the
Tennessee legislature for any indication
that there might be some mandate for local
police departments? – We always say that, local politicians
or state politicians cannot fix the
immigration issue. They can certainly
make it worse. And I think, in the state,
like in many other issues, Nashville is really trying
to make our life miserable. I mean, they make all these
proposals that make no sense, but they are certainly trying and there are a bunch of
those bills this year. – Let me bring you back in. From an international
perspective, other countries, President Trump has talked about wanting to go to a much
more of a merit-based system to get away from
lottery systems where, quote unquote,
anyone can come in, to get away from what he calls, and some people
find offensive and other people just call
a term, chain migration. What do other countries do? Western, you know,
Australia or Canada. Any country you wanna pick, what do other countries do
that the United States doesn’t? – Well it’s actually
not that different, and that’s what can be
so confusing about the, when President Trump says we are not on a merit-based system, that is a very
confusing statement because we do have a
merit-based system, but we also do give
opportunities for family reunification, this
thing called chain migration. But it is barely so, like you could bring
your tiny children or your spouse from abroad
if you are a citizen and if you’re a
permanent resident. But, so other countries,
it’s pretty similar. They will look for,
thinking specifically about Western Europe,
Canada, Australia. They look for
skills that they’re missing in their workforce,
they bring people in, but they also tend to allow people to bring
in family members. So, pretty much all across
our Western democracies, the same debates are happening. Australia even
excised some islands, meaning they said, oh
no, that’s not Australia, when a bunch of refugees
landed on them a few years ago. So it’s really similar to
what’s happening in the U.S. – And again, I should say, this
is, as I mentioned earlier, this is, we did an
American Creed show that was focused on
the PBS documentary, and that show aired
a couple weeks ago and you can find
the PBS documentary American Creed on the website. But let me, with just a
couple minutes left here, I’m gonna do a complete shift,
because we have you here, and wanted to talk
a little bit about CBU’s involvement most recently
with the Jubilee Schools. For people who don’t know
what the Jubilee Schools are, what are they, what happened
and what is CBU’s role? – There were, again, for
about 10 or more years, there were these
schools that sort of target toward populations
in poor neighborhoods, Catholic schools that were
first closed and reopened, and the mission being to
serve the neighborhood. And so they were
Jubilee Schools who were very fortunate that
the Jubilee Schools were supported by
local philanthropists who made that all possible. And then, because of financial
issues and other issues, the diocese chose to close the Jubilee Schools
next year in 2019. – (Eric)
There are about eight of them? – There’s about eight
to nine of them, depending on how you
count them these days. And so, we felt
very strongly that as a Catholic college in
the Memphis community, that we should become involved. So the solution that
we’re proposing right now is a charter-based
school whereby these schools would create a new charter organization, a 501C3. I’m chair of that new board, the compass schools
or the New Day Charter Organization
that we’ve created. And in creating
this organization, what we’ve now done is provide an opportunity to
keep the mission going and keep the neighborhood
school option going and still maintain what the
vision of those schools are. – And with just 30 seconds left, this is not your first
foray into charter schools. You were involved with the Steam
Academy and Crosstown High. – Crosstown, Steam,
Middle College High. So we’re really, I mean,
there’s been a number of, Steam and Middle College
are Shelby County schools. Crosstown and the Jubilees
would be charters. And so we’re really excited
about the opportunities, training new teachers and just developing new
urban initiatives. – Alright, no that was great. Thank you, and I cut you off. Maybe we’ll do a
whole show on that. Thank you all for being
here, thank you very much. And thank you for joining us. Once again, next week. [dramatic orchestral music] [acoustic guitar chords]

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