‘THE SHELTER OF AMERICA.’ Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny‘s remarks Thursday at the White House gained new attention the next day, St. Patrick’s Day, as a clip from the United Kingdom’s public service station Channel 4 showed him defending United States’ historic role as a beacon for immigrants seeking refuge.
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) March 17, 2017
“It’s fitting that we gather here each year to celebrate St. Patrick and his legacy. He, too, of course, was an immigrant. And though he is, of course, the patron saint of Ireland, for many people around the globe, he is also a symbol of, indeed, the patron of immigrants,” Kenny said in remarks that seemed intended as a broad, if gentle, rebuke of President Trump’s hardline immigration policies.
“Here in America, your great country, 35 million people claim Irish heritage, and the Irish have contributed to the economic, social, political and cultural life of this great country over the last 200 years. Ireland came to America because, deprived of liberty, deprived of opportunity, of safety, of even food itself, the Irish believed, four decades before Lady Liberty lifted her lamp, we were the ‘wretched refuse on the teeming shore.’
“We believed in the shelter of America, and the compassion of America, and the opportunity of America. We came, and we became Americans.”
L.A. STORY. A recent AFP video provides a good overview of what’s happening on the undocumented immigration front in Los Angeles, where authorities are seeing daily protests.
Los Angeles rallies around undocumented immigrant community pic.twitter.com/K9ERemJcca
— AFP news agency (@AFP) March 16, 2017
Notable: Hispanics are the largest racial/ethnic group not just in Los Angeles, but in all of California, the most populous state. That’s been the case since 2014, when California joined New Mexico as the second state with a Hispanic plurality. New Mexico is the state with the highest percent of Hispanics, although it is so sparsely populated that the overall numbers are low. “California and Los Angeles County have the largest Latino populations of any state or county in the nation,” the Los Angeles Times reported in 2015.
WALL WATCH. One of the emerging areas of conflict regarding Trump’s border wall is the question of Big Bend National Park in Texas, an expanse of extremely rough (and beautiful) terrain that flattens out into ranch land in one of the least populated counties in the United States. Indeed, the park is such an intense landscape that a Republican member of Congress from Texas recently joked that anyone who can traverse it deserves to be an American:
Louie Gohmert on the wall:
"If you can hike across Big Bend National Park with all the water you need, I think you need to be an American."
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) March 16, 2017
The Austin American-Statesman reports on the controversy, as Republican congressmen from the region — as well as Texas’ GOP governor — oppose building a wall through the park, even though public lands will be the easiest places to build on, administratively speaking:
At first blush, the construction of a wall through Big Bend would seem unlikely: Illegal crossings in sparsely populated, unforgiving Brewster and Presidio counties are a fraction of what they are in more populated areas, such as the Lower Rio Grande Valley; wall construction in this undeveloped area would be expensive and key Texas politicians have suggested Big Bend should be off limits.
Todd Beckett, Republican Party chairman for Presidio County, says flatly, “There is not going to be a wall in Big Bend,” adding, “It’s not necessary. … We already have a barrier. God built it.”
And yet, an internal Department of Homeland Security report calls for a second phase of construction of 151 miles to include Big Bend, among other places; a third phase seals off the entire border. The wall could be as high as 30 feet.
“While it may seem like building walls in Big Bend would be completely insane, that could be said about many of the walls that already exist, such as the section that cuts through California’s Otay Mountain Wilderness Area,” said Scott Nicol, a McAllen-based coordinator of Sierra Club’s borderlands initiative. “And the biggest challenge to Trump’s timeline is going to be the fact that Texas, where there are currently 110 miles of wall on our 1,200 mile border, is almost entirely private property. Land condemnation suits will take years, but Big Bend National Park and some remaining tracts of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge down here are federally owned.”
TAX DAY PROTESTS GET MORE BACKERS. NBC News’ Alex Seitz-Wald reports: “[D]ozens of liberal groups and activists have signed on to help organize the Tax March” on April 15. “They are expecting tens of thousands to attend the main march in Washington, D.C., or one of the dozens of other demonstrations in cities across the country.
“On Friday, 11 new groups joined the effort, including Common Cause, CREDO, Daily Kos, the Economic Policy Institute and Public Citizen. They joined major unions like the American Federation of Teachers, organizing groups like MoveOn.org and the Indivisible Project, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Our Revolution, and the liberal Working Families Party.”
STAKEOUTS. MoveOn.org has been running stakeouts of congressional district offices these past two days, stationing small huddles of protesters across a wide array of sites to oppose the Republicans’ American Health Care Act repealing substantial parts of Obamacare. Here are some examples, this one from Plattsburgh, N.Y.:
— Janet McFetridge (@jmcfetridge) March 16, 2017
And from Colorado:
— Jim Burke (@JimBurke82) March 16, 2017
SPOTTED. In Johnstown, Pa., a call for Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, to hold more town halls was posted by a local Indivisible group.
— Shelley Johansson (@ShelleyJohansso) March 16, 2017