Image: Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, the “People’s Judge,” took a stand against mandating the wearing of face masks in a video announcement from his office in Conroe on Wednesday, April 22, 2020.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, Austin, Washington, D.C. – Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, the “People’s Judge,” took a strong stand against any mandate from the County government requiring citizens to wear face masks in public, despite a similar order arising from the panic related to the Chinese Coronavirus from left-leaning Harris County, Montgomery County’s neighbor to the south. A slightly-bearded Keough released a statement by video from his office in the Sadler Administration Building in Conroe on Wednesday, April 22, 2020.
Keough explained, “The amount of calls that are coming into our County offices has been staggering…Listen, it’s because of this I’ve been required to make this statement. In consultation with our County Attorney, I do not find any statutory or other legal basis for me to issue an order requiring citizens to wear a mask in public, especially under the fear of making it a criminal offense.”
Nevertheless, Judge Keough asked that citizens respect the decisions of others either to wear or not to wear a face mask. “Whether you do or whether you don’t, I ask that you support each other in people’s decision [whether or not to wear a mask],” Keough requested.
Very clearly, the “stay-at-home” orders and business closure orders of local governments throughout Texas and from Governor Greg Abbott are without any basis in Texas law, either statutorily or otherwise. Worse yet, those orders clearly violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and several provisions found in the Bill of Rights to the Texas Constitution.
Montgomery County has 305 active Chinese Coronavirus cases, 128 recoveries, and 7 deaths from the illness. The slow growth in Montgomery County in active cases clearly has resulted from responsible social distancing and hygiene decisions by private citizens rather than from any of the government mandates which have largely wrecked the American economy.
President Trump signs immigration order
President Donald Trump claimed Wednesday that he had signed an executive order “temporarily suspending immigration into the United States.” But experts say the order will merely delay the issuance of green cards for a minority of immigrants.
Trump said his move, announced in a Monday tweet, was necessary to help Americans get back to work in an economy ravaged by the coronavirus.
“This will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens,” he said.
But the order includes a long list of exemptions, including for those who are currently in the country and those seeking entry to work as physicians and nurses, as well as the spouses and minor children of American citizens. The 60-day pause also leaves untouched the hundreds of thousands of temporary work visas the country issues each year.
That left partisans on both sides of the immigration battle suggesting the order was driven more by politics than policy during an election year.
Trump ran in 2016 on promising to crack down on both illegal and legal immigration, making the case — disputed by many — that foreign workers compete with Americans for jobs and drive down wages because they are willing to accept lower pay. While many of Trump’s efforts to dramatically upend the nation’s immigration system, from travel bans to asylum restrictions, had been stymied by Congress and the courts, the pandemic has allowed him to move forward on certain changes.
Like other world leaders, Trump has restricted travel from much of the globe, including China and large swaths of Europe. The borders with Mexico and Canada have been closed to all but “essential” travel.
With consulates closed, almost all visa processing by the State Department has been suspended for weeks. And Trump has used the virus to effectively end asylum at U.S. borders, turning away migrants, including children, by invoking a rarely used 1944 law aimed at preventing the spread of communicable diseases.
The green card measure will limit the ability of current green card holders to sponsor their extended families — a practice Trump has derided as “chain immigration” and tried to restrict.
The final version was far less drastic than advocates on both sides of the issue had expected after Trump posted a tweet late Monday that sent businesses, would-be immigrants and administration officials scrambling.
“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!” Trump wrote.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, said before the order was released that it would “have some very modest policy effect,” but he said “it’s actually not even that big a deal.” He said “the primary function was political, to respond to people’s concern that at this point, with maybe 15% of the labor force out of work, they had to do something.”
Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a liberal immigration reform group, agreed in part.
“This announcement is more about grabbing a headline than changing immigration policy,” he said Wednesday. “To me, it smacks of an electoral strategy, not a policy change, and it smacks of desperation and panic.”
Omar Jadwat, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, accused Trump of launching a “transparent attempt to distract from his own failures” that “will cause real pain for families and employers across the country.”
Pivoting to immigration is a strategy Trump has used before. He often turns to immigration when he feels backed into a corner and is looking for an issue to rev up his base.
Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, for instance, Trump put immigration at the forefront, using migrant caravans in Latin America as a rallying cry as he ordered thousands of U.S. troops to the southern border to stop an “invasion.” He also floated ending the Constitution’s guarantee of birthright citizenship.
In recent days, officials bolstered by their successful efforts to restrict travel at the country’s borders had been discussing how they might seize the opportunity to enact additional immigration restrictions. Trump’s tweet nonetheless took many across the administration by surprise.
During the coronavirus crisis, Trump has found other ways to pivot to immigration. He used one of his task force briefings to highlight enhanced counternarcotics efforts to prevent smugglers from taking advantage of the pandemic — though he said there was no evidence of that — and has repeatedly invoked his border wall.
“In the meantime, even without this order, our Southern Border, aided substantially by the 170 miles of new Border Wall & 27,000 Mexican soldiers, is very tight – including for human trafficking!” he tweeted Wednesday.
Trump’s team on Tuesday, however, denied he was using the virus to make good on a long-standing campaign promise during an election year.
“This is common sense the American people can very well understand: When Americans need jobs, Americans must come first,” said White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany.
“The president’s immigration policy just makes sense,” agreed Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh. With 22 million Americans applying for unemployment, he asked, “Why would you in good conscience introduce brand-new competition for them?”
Trump’s campaign showcased the move in an email blast to supporters that read: “PRESIDENT TRUMP WILL SIGN AN EXECUTIVE ORDER TO TEMPORARILY SUSPEND IMMIGRATION.”
AG Paxton Applauds Fifth Circuit for Prioritizing the Health and Safety of Medical Professionals Combating COVID-19 Crisis Over the Demands of Prisoners
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton yesterday applauded the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for ordering a stay that blocks a lower court order sharply limiting state officials’ ability to respond to the rapidly developing COVID-19 pandemic in Texas prisons and across the State. The district court’s injunction imposed limits on the transfer of inmates, required unrestricted access to face masks, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies for each inmate, and imposed a plan for testing every single inmate for COVID-19. The Fifth Circuit also expedited arguments in this case.
“I thank the Fifth Circuit for prioritizing the needs of medical professionals and blocking the unreasonable demands the district court imposed on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). TDCJ has already diligently implemented measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and our medical professionals and those suffering from this health crisis are in desperate need of personal protective equipment, supplies and testing kits,” said Attorney General Paxton. “The district court has no authority to overrule Texas’s decisions about how to manage its scarce resources, and my office will continue to defend the prioritization of medical professionals on the frontline of the battle against COVID-19.”