As I watched the stunning opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games, and the coming together of multiple nations to participate in the ultimate show of global sportsmanship, television news was reporting on two disturbing political events here in the U.S.
In Washington, DC, the circus continues in our broken U.S. House of Representatives. On January 6, 2021, five people, including a police officer and a rioter, were killed in a rampaging insurrection at the U.S Capitol. The mob waved pro-Trump flags and repeated then President Trump’s claims that the election was “stolen” from him, chanting “stop the steal.” In February, following these shameful events, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, proposed a 9-11 style commission to investigate the causes and possible conspiracies behind the events.
In May, the House decided to form that commission, voting 252-175 in favor of a bipartisan bill introduced by Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), and John Katko, (R-NY). Thirty-five Republicans voted in favor of the bill that was, of course, opposed by House Minority Leader, major Trump-licker Kevin McCarthy. The GOP's leader was unable to be bipartisan even in after that life-threatening terrorist attack on the very politicians who voted against the bill. The final blow to the commission’s creation came when Senate Republicans blocked this important legislation. Speaker Nancy Pelosi was forced to form a select committee instead, a move opposed by most Republicans.
Fast forward to this week, where McCarthy proposed a five-member group of conservative Republican Committee members, including Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Jim Banks (R-IN), exercised her power to thank and excuse Banks and Jordan. Why?
On the morning after the insurrection, they were two of 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Banks accused Pelosi of creating the committee to “justify the Left’s authoritarian agenda” and to embarrass conservative politicians. Jordan continues to proffer the “big lie” that Trump actually won the election and compared the January 6th riots to racial justice protests, saying “Democrats created this environment . . . normalizing rioting, normalizing looting, normalizing anarchy in the summer of 2020” (following the death of George Floyd). He also called the committee “impeachment round 3.”
Banks and Jordan both supported a Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the election results—you remember—the one that was laughed out of court. So much for keeping an open mind going into this important investigation. Before you decide to criticize Pelosi, along partisan lines, let’s talk about what is really happening here:
Legally, because of their participation in the events of January 6th, these men are potential witnesses before the committee.
All of this could have been avoided if McCarthy truly wanted to get to the bottom of these history-making, disgraceful events, with his vote for the creation of the independent commission.
You see, folks, this is what the minority leader has been planning all along. He voted against the formation of the commission because he wanted the investigation to become “partisan.” He wanted Speaker Pelosi to create a committee. He deliberately appointed two (perhaps three, if you count disgraced former sheriff, now Congressman, Troy Nehls, who Pelosi left on the committee) members whom he knew would be rejected.
Why? so he could scream that the committee was a “partisan” witch hunt, something he could not do if Congress had voted in a 9-11 style commission. These events have played out exactly as McCarthy planned them because he believes the American people are stupid.
While most congressional members pledge allegiance to the American flag, McCarthy, pledges fealty to Trump. After initially criticizing the “stop the steal” insurrection, McCarthy visited Trump at Mira Lago in late January. In three short weeks, McCarthy went from “the president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters” to: “President Trump’s popularity has never been stronger than it is today, and his endorsement means more than perhaps any endorsement at any time.”
Don’t be fooled by this political charade, America. Follow the important work of the January 6th committee, hopefully, to the truth.
No to the Dreamers
In other political, masquerading as legal, news, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was unconstitutional and blocked approvals of all new applications nationally. Hanen has long been the darling of right-wing news channels and websites.
DACA, as originally put forth:
Applied to immigrants (non-citizens) younger than 31 as of June 15, 2012, who came to the United States at an age younger than 16.
Allowed those qualified to avoid deportation and obtain work permits for a period of two years.
Was renewable based upon a showing of good behavior.
While Hanen ruled DACA was illegal, he at least recognized the impact of terminating almost a million current recipients and did not require the immediate termination of current protections or stop renewals. DACA’s final fate will be determined in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals or, ultimately, at the United States Supreme Court.
For its part, the Biden Administration remains supportive of DACA. When President Biden took office, he issued an executive order directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to “protect and fortify” DACA. The agency intended to issue regulations codifying DACA. The program’s now illegal status makes that process extremely difficult.
The constitutional legality of DACA has been in question from the moment it was proposed. I am not offering a legal opinion; mine is a moral and compassionate argument: I continue to believe that America is a nation of immigrants, unique to the world, made stronger by its diversity. Only 2 percent of our nation’s population can truly call itself “native Americans.” The rest of us are the children of immigrants, one way or another, even if we were born in America. DACA, even if ultimately ruled illegal, was a well-intentioned, inclusive effort to create a path to citizenship for otherwise deserving future citizens.
In my opinion, selfishness and fear motivate those opposed to an expansive view of new immigrant citizen admissions to our nation of immigrants. “We’re already here, enjoying the gifts of American citizenship—who needs more competition for jobs and services?” seems to be the message.
Congress must find a way to come together and pass comprehensive immigration reform. End the uncertainly for hundreds of thousand of immigrants, especially those facing persecution, even death, in foreign lands. Isn’t this what a compassionate country should do?
Without congressional action, this political football is heading for a Supreme Court ruling.
Meanwhile, enjoy the Olympics.
Mark M. Bello, a trial lawyer, is the author of “Betrayal in Black" and other ‘ripped from the headlines’ Zachary Blake Social Justice Legal Thrillers available on Amazon.com and other online booksellers. For more information, please visit www.markmbello.com. Mark also is co-host of the new podcast, Justice Counts, now streaming.