SCOTUS Deadlock on Obama’s Immigration Plan: Shameful and Wrong


On November 20, 2014, Philadelphians at Taquitos de Puebla watched President Obama announce his plan to provide deportation relief to undocumented immigrants. | Photos by Sabrina Vourvoulias

One of my most vivid memories in recent years is of the evening of November 20th, 2014, when I was in an overcrowded South Philly eatery watching television. President Barack Obama was on the air, announcing that he was taking executive action to offer temporary deportation relief to an estimated 4 million undocumented people via programs that helped undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents (known was “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans,” or DAPA) as well as undocumented people who arrived in the country before age 16 (extended “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” or DACA+).

Inside Taquitos de Puebla on 9th Street, the atmosphere was electric with hope. Those who qualified would be able to get out of a shadow economy that relies on their labor without according them any protections, and conduct their daily lives without the soul-crushing fear that at any moment agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement could swoop down to deport them.

Almost immediately, the president’s executive actions were challenged legally, and for two years those people with whom I had celebrated that November night carefully banked their hopes and waited as the legal case wound its way through the lower courts to the Supreme Court.

This Thursday, those hopes were dashed after the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 on the issue, a non-decision that effectively lets the lower court’s injunction stand. Read more »

Philly Latino Activists: Obama Is “Deporter-in-Chief”

People assemble for a press conference at Juntos in response to today's Supreme Court ruling on immigration

Members of the Latino immigrant community appear at a press conference decrying today’s Supreme Court ruling on Obama’s immigration program.

According to Philadelphia’s Latino immigrant activists, Barack Obama’s primary legacy from his eight years in office can be summed up in three words: Deporter in chief.

Activists and organizers today gathered at Juntos in South Philly to comment on today’s split ruling from the Supreme Court on President Obama’s immigration policy.

The court actually ruled on a program Obama and immigration activists support today. In a one-sentence decision — “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court” — the court announced it had split, 4-all, which means the Obama administration will not be able to implement its immigration plans before the end of his term. Read more »

NATIONAL NEWS: President Obama Predicts That AIDS Can Be Ended By 2030

World AIDS Day

President Obama reflects on 35 years of HIV/AIDS in America.

On Sunday, President Barack Obama issued a public statement acknowledging the 35th anniversary of The Center for Disease Control’s first report on HIV/AIDS in America. “The past 35 years tell a story that bends from uncertainty, fear, and loss toward resilience, innovation, and hope,” Obama said. “Over these 35 years, American ingenuity and leadership has shaped the world’s response to this crisis.” The President also mentioned his implementation of the nation’s first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy with updates extended through 2020. And while growing numbers have impacted sections of the community, he also acknowledged that “the global community is committed to ending this epidemic by 2030.” “While there is more work to do — the economically disadvantaged; gay and bisexual men, especially those who are young and Black; women of color; and transgender women all continue to face huge disparities,” Obama added. “I’m confident that if we build upon the steps we’ve taken, we can finish the job.” Read more »

Fallen Philly Cop Robert Wilson Honored with Medal of Valor

President Barack Obama presents Constance Wilson, grandmother of fallen Philadelphia Police Department Sgt, Robert Wilson III with his Medal of Valor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 16, 2016. Photo | Carolyn Kaster, AP

President Barack Obama presents Constance Wilson, grandmother of fallen Philadelphia Police Department Sgt, Robert Wilson III with his Medal of Valor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 16, 2016. Photo | Carolyn Kaster, AP

The White House ceremony was nice, but oh, how Sgt. Robert Wilson‘s family wishes they hadn’t needed to be there for it.

President Barack Obama bestowed Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor awards today on 13 police officers for having displayed selfless bravery in the face of danger. Wilson was the first member of the Philadelphia Police Department to be tapped for the honor; he was the only honoree to receive the award posthumously.

Wilson, 30, was killed in a gun battle with two armed robbers that erupted inside a North Philly GameStop on March 5, 2015. Wilson had stopped at the store, Obama noted, to buy a present for his then-8-year-old son, who had done well at school. Brothers Ramon Williams and Carlton Hipps were charged with Wilson’s murder, but have yet to go to trial.

Read more »

The Philly Area Schools That Rejected Barack Obama’s and Tom Hanks’ College Applications

Barack Obama in his official Senate portrait. Tom Hanks, Photo | Alan Light, CC BY 2.0.

Barack Obama in his official Senate portrait. Tom Hanks, Photo | Alan Light, CC BY 2.0.

I was reading something the other day — I can’t remember what, because the Internet has made reading 80,000 things a day way too easy — in which the author commented snidely on adults who remember their SAT scores. I flushed with embarrassment, because, naturally, I remember my SAT scores. (They were pretty good.) In my experience, most people remember their SAT scores, just like they remember the colleges that rejected their applications (okay for you, Princeton; who’d want to go to Ted Cruz’s college, anyway?) for the rest of their lives.

That may be why I, um, clicked through recently to a slideshow that revealed what colleges rejected some Very Famous People, and thereby learned that I’m in great company. Tina Fey was also rejected by Princeton. (OMG, she and Lyin’ Ted would have been in the same class!John Kerry, Tom Brokow, Matt Groening and Meredith Vieira were rejected by Harvard. (Vieira reports she was “devastated.”) Katie Couric was turned down by Smith. (Who gets turned down by Smith?) Read more »

Only One Philly Ward Liked Both Obama and Bernie


Here’s a strange nugget from yesterday’s primary results: 6 out of the 7 wards* where a majority of voters cast ballots for Bernie Sanders … went for Hillary Clinton back in 2008.  In some cases, the change between elections was staggering.

Take the three most-decidedly pro-Sanders wards: 31, 18 — which are neighboring wards covering the Fishtown/Port Richmond area — and 1, which connects Pennsport and East Passyunk (ed note: It’s where I voted). Look at the disparity in Clinton votes during the past two contested Democratic primaries within each of those blocs: Read more »

Sen. Toomey to Meet with Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee

Pat Toomey; Merrick Garland

Pat Toomey (left) says he’ll meet with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, but he won’t vote to confirm him.

Pat Toomey has taken a beating in the wake of Merrick Garland‘s nomination to the Supreme Court. His Twitter mentions are a series of jabs from Democrats tweeting #DoYourJob. He’s taken almost a month of attacks from the three primary Democrats vying for his senate seat.

That’s because Toomey has been steadfast in his decision for the last month: He’s not going to vote for Garland, saying it should be up to the next president. After Garland was nominated, Toomey said he wouldn’t even meet with him. But, today, Toomey released a statement changing his mind: He would meet with Garland.

But don’t get too excited, Democrats. Toomey still isn’t voting for Garland’s confirmation. He said in a statement: Read more »

What They’re Saying: Pennsylvania Pols React to Obama’s Pick for Supreme Court

Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, stands with President Barack Obama as he is introduced as Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016.

Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, stands with President Barack Obama as he is introduced as Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016.

Today, Barack Obama made one of the most important decisions of his presidency: In his final NCAA tournament poll, he picked the Kansas Jayhawks to win the NCAA Championship.

Oh, wait. He also nominated Merrick Garland for the vacant spot on the Supreme Court. Justice Antonin Scalia died last month.

The president has even launched a website section — complete with FAQ! — about Garland’s qualifications. Notably, it includes a quote from ultra-conservative Sen. Orrin Hatch praising Garland as a possible pick for the Supreme Court.

Naturally, the Republicans don’t want to confirm Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court. They have cited the Thurmond Rule, a guideline that judges shouldn’t be confirmed in the run-up to an election, though that guideline generally refers to a six-month time period. Basically: The GOP would rather have a conservative nominate the next Supreme Court justice, and it’s close enough to the election that Republicans can probably stall until then.

As such, Mitch McConnell said the GOP won’t even hold hearings on Garland. Republicans have a majority in the Senate, which needs to confirm Supreme Court nominees, and they plan to sit this one out. Read more »

Is Donald Trump Driving Up GOP Registration in Pennsylvania?


Why are so many Pennsylvania Democrats fleeing to the Republican Party?

PennLive reports that nearly 46,000 Keystone Dems have flipped their registration to the GOP since the beginning of 2016 — a phenomenon writer Colin Deppen attributes largely to enthusiasm for the candidacy of Donald Trump.

“With the increase in support in exit polls for Trump among working class, blue-collar Democrats, it is my belief that these are people who fall into that genre,” Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, told Deppen.

Other possibilities: That disaffected Democrats have left, repelled by the party’s liberalism. Or that Democrats who have long voted Republican and are just now getting around to making the switch.

Let’s offer a fourth possible reason: The Obama Era is over. And a lot of the “Democrats” switching to the GOP might’ve been Republicans before Obama arrived on the scene.

What seems to be forgotten: As the Clinton-Obama primary battle approached in Spring 2008, the ranks of Pennsylvania Democrats actually increased by more than 111,000 voters in just six months. At the time, AP reported, “more than 68,000 registered voters changed their affiliation to one of the major parties, with those switching to Democratic registration outpacing those turning Republican by more than 3-1.” Back-of-the-envelope math on that three-to-one ratio means roughly 50,000 or so Republicans and independents became Democrats that year.

Maybe some of those folks have decided to return home?

Not that the Trump phenomenon should be easily dismissed. “This has no parallel in modern history,” Madonna told PennLive. “You couldn’t make this stuff up.”

Clinton, Trump Lead Among Pa. Voters

Clinton - Trump - Wolf - Obama

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the leading presidential candidates in Pennsylvania, according to a new Franklin & Marshall poll.

Primary election day is still two months away — April 26 — but Clinton holds a sizable lead over opponent Bernie Sanders among likely voters, 51 percent to 29 percent. Trump’s margin is much lower over a still-divided Republican field: He clocks in a 21 percent of likely Republican voters, compared to 18 percent for Marco Rubio, and 16 percent each for John Kasich and Ted Cruz.

Philadelphia is proving to be bulwarks for both front-runners, according to the poll: Clinton attracts 59 percent of the metro area’s Dems, while Trump commands the support of 50 percent of area Republicans — by far his most concentrated pocket of support in the state.

The survey had an error range of plus or minus 3.1 points. Read more »

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