December 27, 2022
It turns out that Republican George Santos, 34, who was just elected to represent New York’s Third District, lied about his education, saying he had attended schools he had not, and lied about his work experience, falsely claiming to have worked at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. He claimed to be the grandson of Jewish refugees from the Holocaust; now he says he meant he was a Catholic with Jewish heritage—although there is no evidence of that, either—and so thinks of himself as “Jew-ish.” He claimed to have lost employees at the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, but when there was no evidence for that, either, he claimed the employees were in the process of being hired.
Santos also has an outstanding criminal charge in Brazil, where there is evidence he stole an elderly man’s checks—he denies this, although has produced no evidence—and questions about where the $700,000 he apparently lent to his 2022 campaign came from, since he was in trouble over relatively small outstanding debts as recently as 2020. Finally, as Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo points out, although Santos claims to have been born in Queens to immigrants from Brazil, it is not entirely clear that he is a U.S. citizen. Former co-workers say he told them he was born in Brazil.
That point, at least, should be easy to clear up.
“If I disappointed anyone by my résumé embellishment, I’m sorry,” Santos said in a radio interview but claimed that “a lot of people overstate in their résumés” and such fictions would not hurt his ability to do the job he was elected to do. “I will be sworn in,” he said. “I will take office.”
Democrats Joaquin Castro of Texas and Ted Lieu of California have called for Santos to step aside, but with the Republican majority in the House resting on five seats, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and other sitting Republican lawmakers have been unwilling to speak out about Santos’s lies. McCarthy needs all the votes he can muster to make him House speaker, even if it means overlooking Santos’s fabrications and hoping voters will forget quickly.
Two incoming Republican representatives have called him out, though, suggesting they are more interested in protecting the future of the party than its current incarnation. If revelations continue to drop, the newbies might have called the situation better than their more senior colleagues.
Today, in a 5–4 vote, the Supreme Court upheld a stay to stop the ending of the Title 42 pandemic rule that prevents much migration into the U.S. out of concerns about disease. Chief Justice John Roberts issued the stay on December 19, 2022, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that Title 42 must end on December 21 unless the Supreme Court stepped in. Close to two dozen Republican-dominated states asked it to, and it did.
Joined by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, Justice Neil Gorsuch backed the Biden administration’s position when he wrote: “The current border crisis is not a COVID crisis.” Gorsuch added: “Courts should not be in the business of perpetuating administrative edicts designed for one emergency only because elected officials have failed to address a different emergency.”
Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor dissented separately from Gorsuch and Jackson, but the four were outvoted by the other five justices. This order does not address whether Title 42 should ultimately stay in place; it establishes that states may intervene in the dispute over pandemic restrictions that is currently in federal court.
Title 42 is a law that permits the government to keep contagious diseases out of the country, and Trump put it in place in March 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, in part because it enabled him to stop considering migrants for asylum as is required by U.S. and international law (Title 42 had only been used once before, in 1929, to keep ships from China and the Philippines, where there was a meningitis outbreak, from coming into U.S. ports). Extremist Republicans want to keep it as a way to stop immigration to this country, although technically it is an emergency rule that, when revoked, will simply restore the laws in place before it went into effect.
The Biden administration has called for Congress to pass new legislation to address what Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has called a “fundamentally broken” system, “outdated” at every level. “In the absence of congressional action to reform the immigration and asylum systems, a significant increase in migrant encounters will strain our system even further,” Mayorkas said in anticipation of the end of Title 42. “Addressing this challenge will take time and additional resources, and we need the partnership of Congress, state and local officials, NGOs, and communities to do so.”
Earlier this month it seemed that Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) had hammered out a deal that did just that, offering to a path to citizenship for about 2 million “dreamers,” people who were brought to the U.S. by their parents without documentation and have never known any home but this one; offering protections for migrant rights by providing up to $40 billion for processing those coming to the U.S. to seek asylum, including more processing centers, more judges, more asylum officers, and more border officers; and continuing Title 42–type restrictions on migrants until the new processing centers were ready.
But Republicans opposed the dreamer provision—which about 70% of Americans support—and killed the deal. Instead, those like Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) tweeted: “With Title 42 ending, our nation is going to be overrun with illegals worse than at just about any other point in history. Remember, this is intentional and all part of Biden’s systematic destruction of America.”
On Christmas Eve a dramatic illustration of the attempt to politicize the migrant issue took place in Washington, D.C., where the 15°F (–9°C) temperatures marked a historic low for that date. Three buses dropped migrant families from Texas on the street near the vice president’s residence in what White House spokesperson Abdullah Hasan called a “cruel, dangerous, and shameful stunt.” Some of the migrants were in shorts and T-shirts. Local relief agencies had expected the migrants on Sunday but responded quickly once they knew of the plan change.
Appearing to assume responsibility for the unannounced dropoff, a spokesperson for Texas governor Greg Abbott said: "Instead of their hypocritical complaints about Texas providing much-needed relief to our overrun and overwhelmed border communities, President Biden and Border Czar Harris need to step up and do their jobs to secure the border—something they continue failing to do.”
In response to the Supreme Court’s order, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration “will, of course, comply” as it continues to prepare for the end of the pandemic policy. She continued: “To truly fix our broken immigration system, we need Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform measures like the ones President Biden proposed on his first day in office. Today’s order gives Republicans in Congress plenty of time to move past political finger-pointing and join their Democratic colleagues in solving the challenge at our border by passing the comprehensive reform measures and delivering the additional funds for border security that President Biden has requested.”
The court will decide the case in June.