Editorial: Policing the use of military gear

Trump’s willingness to talk or act first, and think later — if ever — means we citizens have to be on guard against erosions of the values we cherish.

Police armed to the teeth and ready to show you who’s boss — that’s one side of policing.

It’s a side President Trump clearly favors. He recently signed an executive order allowing police departments wider access to surplus military equipment, including bayonets and armored vehicles, undoing restrictions ordered by President Obama in 2015 after a series of events in Ferguson, Missouri, the previous summer, spurred by the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer.

Trump has offered fiery law-and-order rhetoric that undermines fundamental boundaries and practices of our system, such as the legal assumption of innocence and professional comportment when in uniform.

In July, for instance, speaking on Long Island, New York, he told law enforcement officials, “You can take the hand away, OK?” instead of protecting the heads of arrestees — “thugs” — as they are placed in the back of a squad car. (Attorney General Jeff Sessions later claimed the president’s controversial comments were “done in jest.”)

Thankfully his remarks that day, suggesting some level of police brutality is acceptable, were met with consternation and pushback from cooler heads and people who actually practice local law enforcement.

Sina-cism: DACA’s demise clears way for real reform

The world in 2017 is too populous, complex and dangerous a place to simply admit anyone who claims to share our ideals. There are rules to be followed.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program is not about cruelty. It’s not about sending the “best and brightest” back to countries where they have no ties of family, culture, or language. It’s not about damaging the economy.

The end of DACA — which will be done as an orderly, six-month phase-out — is about respecting the rule of law and forcing Congress to do its job.

In 2012, President Obama, frustrated by Congress’ failure to adequately address the fate of millions of illegal aliens, issued an executive order creating DACA. The program encouraged those with no legal claim to be in the United States to come out of the shadows and apply for a work permit and a two-year (renewable) period during which they could not be deported.

Many, including myself, warned then that DACA was a bad idea. By circumventing Congress, Obama was giving hope to millions, but without conferring any of the rights citizens enjoy. By encouraging illegals to come forward, the government was gaining key information that could come back to haunt those very people should there be a change in policy.

Related Sina-cism: The real line on immigration, and how Obama crossed it

Some say that haunting has now begun.

On Beacon Hill: Mr. Baker goes to Washington

Recap and analysis of the week in local, state and federal government from State House News Service and Sun research.

BOSTON — With his purple tie knotted tightly, Gov. Charlie Baker flew to Washington, D.C., last week hoping to bring his brand of bipartisanship to the polarized capital. Few might have predicted, however, that the colors in Washington were already starting to bleed.

Ostensibly, the state Legislature and Congress both returned to work from a summer recess, but it was the gridlocked Congress — with an assist from President Donald Trump — that would make the breakthrough.

As state legislators eased into their post-Labor Day schedule (and that’s being generous), Trump struck a debt-ceiling deal with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to fund the government for three months and deliver billions in relief funding for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Trump’s shunning of Republican Congressional leaders to make a deal with the Democrats rattled Washington and seemed to put wind in the sails of the White House as it prepared to deal with Irma, another catastrophic hurricane poised to strike South Florida on Sunday.

The debt ceiling deal also distracted, if only for a fleeting moment, from the storm the president stirred up with his decision to phase out the immigration program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

The program, created by former President Barack Obama through executive order, allowed the so-called Dreamers, who were brought to the country illegally by their parents when they were minors, to apply for protected status that would allow them to go to school and work without fear of deportation.

Trump, through his Attorney General Jeff Sessions, challenged Congress over the next six months to enshrine DACA into law if its members want it preserved, while Democrats and many Republicans, including Gov. Baker, derided the move as a cold-hearted play for the conservative base that would send immigrants in the United States, through no fault of their own, back into hiding.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey joined yet another multi-state lawsuit against the Trump administration to block the decision to end DACA, while advocacy groups rallied at the State House and around Boston seeking leadership from the state to protect the futures of the Dreamers.

Antonio Caban / State House News Service

Gov. Charlie Baker

It was in this atmosphere that Baker joined his fellow governors from Tennessee, Montana, Colorado and Utah in testifying before the Senate Health Committee [see video below] on steps Congress could take to stabilize Obamacare health insurance markets in the wake of failed efforts to repeal the law.

Baker and the bipartisan cohort of governors told the Senate panel, headed by Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, that the single biggest thing they could do would be to ensure at least two years of funding for cost-sharing-reduction payments.

The CSR payments, used to keep patients’ out-of-pocket expenses down, were a part of the Affordable Care Act, but have been challenged in court by Republicans and dangled by Trump as a lever he could pull to force the collapse of Obamacare.

“I think it would be a bad idea,” Baker told U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren about Trump’s threat, responding to a softball lobbed across the plate by Massachusetts’ senior senator in what sounded like a coordinated back-and-forth designed to bloody the president.

Baker sat in the middle of the five governors as the de facto leader of the pack. He was given ample time to wonk out on healthcare policy, and just enough time to score some political points back home.

— Matt Murphy

ALSO ON THE AGENDA

  • Hoffman, pot czar, on July 2018 deadline
  • McGovern and Chandler on DACA, Markey on North Korea
  • Worcester’s Grabauskas returns to MBTA
  • Watch: Baker a key part of healthcare reform testimony
  • Still-lagging tax revenues leave budget veto overrides in limbo

QCC’s Pedraja among college leaders defending DACA

Public community college officials in Massachusetts are taking a stand in support of a five-year-old immigration program put in place by President Barack Obama put on the chopping block Tuesday by President Donald Trump.

Obama signed an executive order in June 2012 and the Department of Homeland Security subsequently began accepting applications for “deferred action” from immigrants who met certain criteria, such as being brought to the country before they turned 16. Under the program, known as DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals], qualifying immigrants — often described as “dreamers” — are protected from deportation for at least two years, and become eligible to apply for a work permit.

In a joint statement with the Boston Public Schools issued on Sunday, the 15 public community college presidents in Massachusetts said they are committed to educating all who pass through their doors.