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Holocaust Survivor Delivers Scathing Testimony About ICE Arrests

A hearing over legislation that would ban sanctuary cities in Michigan prompted fiery testimony from a Holocaust survivor, who likened the immigration crackdown under President Donald Trump to Nazis rounding up Jews.

The Michigan state House is considering bills that would prevent cities from enacting policies that limit cooperation between local authorities and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. These so-called ?sanctuary policy prohibition acts? have similar counterparts in more than 30 other state legislatures.

At a hearing on the bills Wednesday, representatives heard about an hour of testimony from opponents of the bill, none more excoriating than from Rene Lichtman, 79, who works with several groups of Holocaust survivors.

?I?m a child survivor of the Holocaust,? Lichtman said. ?I was about 2 years old when the war began and I went into hiding. My family members were picked up in the streets of Paris in the very same way that ICE people are deputizing local police and picking [undocumented immigrants] up in the streets.?

He said that the French police, ?deputized by the Nazis,? kept lists of Jews in Paris, ?including Jewish children, including children on my street, who were picked up and went to the gas chambers while I was fortunate to be in hiding.?

?I see a lot of parallels to what is going on in cities like Ann Arbor and Pontiac, where ICE is coming in and with the help of the local police are picking up immigrants,? Lichtman said.

No cities in Michigan call themselves sanctuary cities, but a few, including Ann Arbor, limit cooperation with ICE and would be in violation of Michigan law if the new bills are passed. Advocates in Ann Arbor and Pontiac have reported an uptick in immigration arrests.

Under Trump, ICE has ramped up enforcement of illegal immigration, arresting 41,000 people in the first 100 days of the new administration, a 38 percent increase compared with the same period last year.

Some local governments have immigrant-friendly policies, such as prohibiting police from honoring ICE requests to continue detaining suspected unauthorized immigrants. The White House has vowed to punish sanctuary cities, and Trump?s executive order to withhold their federal funding has been challenged in court.

Critics of Michigan?s bill and others, like the extreme law passed in Texas last month, say the push against sanctuary policies erodes safety, because immigrants are less likely to report crimes or cooperate with police.

During Lichtman?s remarks, one representative noted that Jewish immigrants were actually one of the earlier groups of people to come to the United States illegally after quota laws were put in place in the 1920s.

Lichtman responded that he had his own experience as an undocumented immigrant ? when he was about 20 and serving in the Army, his captain called him in for a meeting, telling Lichtman his name was on a list of ?aliens.?

?He says, ?What are you doing working in an intelligence unit in the army??? Lichtman recalled. ?I said, ?Sir, I don?t know, you know I came here, I assumed I became a citizen automatically when my mother married an American citizen.? He said, ?Well, that isn?t the case, so get your butt into town and go see Judge so-and-so.??

Lichtman, who came to the U.S. at age 13, said the process to get his citizenship papers was fairly simple.

?Today I would probably be ? ICE could have been called on me and I would have been shipped off,? he concluded in his testimony.

Lichtman and others? opposition didn?t sway the representatives, who passed the bills on party lines and sent them for a full House vote. Rep. Jim Runestad (R), a cosponsor of the anti-sanctuary bills who was at the hearing, told HuffPost he?s ?a rule of law person? and that the legislation would ensure cities follow federal immigration policy.

?I don?t believe that there is any relationship to what the horror of the Holocaust was, compared to what we?re talking about, almost exclusively economic immigrants, illegal immigrants, looking to advance their financial situation,? Runestad said. ?One of the most horrific situations in all of human history, where a people were targeted for mass murder, and comparing it to someone who wants a good job is, to me, a very, very unfortunate comparison, and certainly no parallels, practically at all, exist between the two.?

ICE spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said the agency ?does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately,? but added that ?ICE will not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.? 

Lichtman has been telling his story at pro-immigrant rallies around the state since Trump came into office, he told HuffPost. He conceded that the ?deportations? of Jews during the Holocaust ? or murders ? were more ?dramatic? than deportation of undocumented immigrants, though he?s not the first to make the comparison.

?I can empathize with these people because I?ve been there,? he added. ?It?s tearing families apart.?

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Conan O’Brien Just Had To Advertise During James Comey’s Hearing

Conan O?Brien just concocted the most shameless plug ever ? invading CNN?s broadcast of James Comey?s testimony on Thursday to advertise his show.

This was all imagined for comedy?s sake, but we still give the ?Conan? host props for raising the bar in tacky promotions.

Besides, somebody had to shed some light on the proceedings.

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Nancy Pelosi Says Donald Trump Isn’t Sleeping Enough

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has some simple advice for President Donald Trump: Go to sleep.

During an appearance on MSNBC?s ?Morning Joe? on Friday, Pelosi was asked what advice she?d give Trump on how to become a stronger leader.

?Well, what I have advised him to do: Go to sleep,? Pelosi said. ?Get some sleep. Bring yourself to a place where the synapses are working.?

?More sleep might be a solution for him,? she added.

Trump has often said he sleeps very little. In February, he told former Fox News host Bill O?Reilly that he typically works ?long hours? and sleeps only 4 to 5 hours a night.

He?s also been known to engage in Twitter wars in the wee hours of the night or early morning, like when he launched an attack on a former Miss Universe during the 2016 presidential campaign.

?He?s in the no more than four hours a night range,? Gwenda Blair, Trump?s biographer, told The Guardian in February. ?He has made a big deal of saying he never sleeps and people who sleep are lazy.?

Lack of sleep can lead to a variety of physical ailments and mental health issues. Research shows functioning consistently on just a few hours of sleep per night can lead to trouble focusing, bad decision-making, mental exhaustion and more.

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Trump Is Swamping The Drain In Washington

Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com

Remember when ?draining the swamp? was something the Bush administration swore it was going to do in launching its Global War on Terror?  Well, as we all know, that global swamp of terror only got muckier in the ensuing years. (Think al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, think ISIS.) Then, last year, that swamp left terror behind and took up residence in Washington, D.C.  In the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump swore repeatedly that, along with building his wall and locking ?her? up, he was going to definitively drain the Washington swamp, ridding the national capital of special interests once and for all.  (?It is time to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.,? he typically said. ?This is why I?m proposing a package of ethics reforms to make our government honest once again.?)  ?Drain the swamp? became one of the signature chants at his rallies.

You want swamp? You?ve already got the start of a genuine mire, a true bog in Donald Trump?s Washington.

No sooner had he been elected, however, then he decided to ?retire? the concept of draining the swamp ? and little wonder.  After all, he quickly began appointing hordes of ?former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants? to agencies where they were to help ?craft new policies for the same industries in which they recently earned a paycheck.? Then his administration started issuing waivers to those new appointees, allowing them to ?take up matters that could benefit former clients.?  News of just who got those waivers was kept secret and only released after publicity about them took a truly bad turn.  Here?s a typical example of one of them, as reported by the New York Times:    

?A… waiver was given to Michael Catanzaro, who until January was registered as a lobbyist for companies including Devon Energy, an oil and gas company, and Talen Energy, a coal-burning electric utility. Mr. Catanzaro moved from lobbying against Obama-era environmental rules to overseeing the White House office in charge of rolling back the same rules, an activity permitted by his waiver.?

You want swamp?  You?ve already got the start of a genuine mire, a true bog in Donald Trump?s Washington.  Having yesterday?s corporate lobbyists oversee today?s government policies for the very industries that employed them last week doesn?t exactly increase the odds of instituting the sort of ?populist? economics Trump promised on the campaign trail; nor, as TomDispatch regular Nomi Prins, author of All the Presidents? Bankers, reported in late January, is appointing a veritable who?s who of Goldman Sachs executives to key positions, including Treasury secretary, the most obvious way to drain the swamp when it comes to, say, America?s banks and other financial institutions.  As for those banks ? remember the ?too big to fail? financial meltdown of 2007-2008? ? let Prins tell you in her latest, ?Dear President Trump: Breaking Up (Banks) Isn?t So Hard to Do,? just what?s at stake in Washington right now. 

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– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.