Sunday, March 5, 2017

Leashes Come Off Wall Street, Gun Sellers, Miners and More

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WASHINGTON — Telecommunications giants like Verizon and AT&T will not have to take “reasonable measures” to ensure that their customers’ Social Security numbers, web browsing history and other personal information are not stolen or accidentally released.
Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase will not be punished, at least for now, for not collecting extra money from customers to cover potential losses from certain kinds of high-risk trades that helped unleash the 2008 financial crisis.
And Social Security Administration data will no longer be used to try to block individuals with disabling mental health issues from buying handguns, nor will hunters be banned from using lead-based bullets, which can accidentally poison wildlife, on 150 million acres of federal lands.

These are just a few of the more than 90 regulations that federal agencies and the Republican-controlled Congress have delayed, suspended or reversed in the month and a half since President Trump took office, according to a tally by The New York Times.
The emerging effort — dozens of additional rules could be eliminated in the coming weeks — represents one of the most significant shifts in regulatory policy in recent decades. It is the leading edge of what Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, described late last month as “the deconstruction of the administrative state.”


Rolling Back Rules: A Dozen Examples

Since the Trump administration began, more than 90 Obama-era federal regulations have been revoked or delayed or enforcement has been suspended, in many cases based on requests from the industries the rules target. Here are 12 examples.
In many cases, records show that the changes came after appeals by corporate lobbyists and trade association executives, who see a potentially historic opportunity to lower compliance costs and drive up profits. Slashing regulations, they argue, will unleash economic growth.
On a near daily basis, regulated industries are now sending in specific requests to the Trump administration for more rollbacks, including recent appeals from 17 automakers to rescind an agreement to increase mileage standards for their fleets, and another from pharmaceutical industry figures to reverse a new rule that tightens scrutiny over the marketing of prescription drugs for unapproved uses. As of late Friday, word had leaked that the automakers’ request for a rollback was about to be granted, too.
“After a relentless, eight-year regulatory onslaught that loaded unprecedented burdens on businesses and the economy, relief is finally on the way,” Thomas J. Donohue, the president of the United States Chamber of Commerce, wrote in memo last week.
But dozens of public interest groups — environmentalists, labor unions, consumer watchdogs — have sounded the alarm about the potential threat to Americans’ well-being. “Americans did not vote to be exposed to more health, safety, environmental and financial dangers,” said one letter, signed by leaders of 137 nonprofit groups, that was sent to the White House last week.
In other cases, the Obama-era rules under attack have drawn objections even from some liberal groups that called them examples of overreach, like the American Civil Liberties Union’s protest of a system to block mentally ill people from buying guns.
The regulatory retrenchment is unfolding on multiple fronts.
Congress, with Mr. Trump’s approval, has erased three Obama-era rules in the last month, lifting regulations related to coal mining and oil and gas exploration, as well as the sale of guns to the mentally illMore than 25 additional rules could also be erased in the coming weeks, with the House having already voted to eliminate nearly half of them.
Mr. Trump has separately signed executive orders directing agencies to pursue the reversal of other rules, including a requirement that financial advisers act in the interest of their clients, and a rule aimed at protecting drinking water from pollution.
New White House appointees at agencies including the Federal Communications Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency have also personally intervened in recent weeks to block, delay or start the process to nullify other rules, such as a requirement that corporations publish tallies comparing chief executive pay with average employee wages.
The Trump administration has also imposed a broad regulatory freeze, instructing agencies to delay the adoption of any rules not already in effect, and to consider whether those rules should be targeted for elimination.
And, through yet more executive orders, it has set up barriers to enact any new regulations — such as a requirement that for each new rule, at least two others must be identified for repeal — and ordered every federal agency to create a team of employees to look for more rules that can be eliminated.
“By any empirical measure, it is a level of activity that has never been seen,” said Curtis W. Copeland, who spent decades studying federal regulatory policy on behalf of Congress while at the Congressional Research Service and the Government Accountability Office. “It is unprecedented.”
Mr. Trump, in his address to Congress last week, called it “a historic effort to massively reduce job-crushing regulations,” a line that drew thunderous applause from Republicans.
Presidents wield considerable influence over the rule-making process. They set the agenda and appoint the rule-makers, and, since the Reagan administration, a White House office has reviewed every major regulation to try to ensure that benefits to society exceeded compliance costs. It is not uncommon for new presidents to make quick changes in regulatory policy or try to reverse certain last-minute rules their predecessors enacted.
Barack Obama, shortly after being elected president, pressed the E.P.A. to let the State of California set more stringent limits on auto emissions, a proposal that the Bush administration had rejected.
But the courts have generally held that new administrations need to justify such reversals. The best-known case involved the Reagan administration, which tried to rescind a rule requiring airbags in passenger vehicles. The courts found the move unjustified.
“It is not a relevant or adequate defense to say that the president told us to do it,” said Michael Eric Herz, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York.
The Trump administration could face a host of similar challenges — the new requirement that agencies must find two regulations to eliminate before enacting any new rules is already being challenged in federal court by two liberal groups.
In addition, Democratic attorneys general from New York, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon and Vermont have threatened in recent days to sue the Trump administration to try to block some of the regulatory rollbacks.
It is a radical role reversal for state attorneys general — their Republican colleagues spent the last eight years suing the federal government to block the enactment of many Obama-era rules. Now the Democrats are planning to try to prevent many of these same rules from being revoked.
“Demolish the administrative state? I don’t even know what that means,” Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts said during a visit to Washington last week, where she and other state attorneys general met with Mr. Trump at the White House. “But we need to wake up to what is actually going on.”
But the pushback has hardly deterred industry executives. The Business Roundtable, which represents some of the nation’s largest corporations and is led by Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, went so far in mid-February as to give Mr. Trump a wish list of 16 rules it wants killed, including the mandatory disclosure of how much chief executives are paid compared with other employees, and a rule intended to curb the trade in minerals that might benefit militant groups in parts of Africa. Efforts to repeal at least 10 of the measures on this list are now underway.
“The majority of these regulations directly and negatively impact economic growth,” the executives said in their letter, adding that they were convinced that rules could be repealed “without undermining critical protections for consumer health, safety and the environment.”
The reversals by federal regulators are happening, at times, at an extraordinary speed. Lawyers representing the National Mining Association, the American Petroleum Institute and other fossil fuel trade groups and companies asked the Interior Department on Feb. 17 to suspend a new rule changing the way these companies pay royalties for oil, gas or coal extracted from federal lands.
While the lawyers called the requirement “impractical and in some cases impossible,” environmentalists and even conservative nonprofit groups like Taxpayers for Common Sense praised the effort, saying that for decades energy companies had been underpaying the federal government. The new standard has been estimated to push up federal revenue by as much as $85 million annually.
The Interior Department wrote the industry lawyers back five days later, telling them that the agency, after three years of backing the rule, would suspend enforcement of the new standards. “We agree you have raised serious questions,” the agency’s letter said.
This shift in federal regulatory policy is already having implications for tens of thousands of citizens nationwide.
Nearly two years ago, the Social Security Administration first moved to set up a new system that would automatically turn over to the Justice Department information it collects on Americans who are receiving federal benefits based on a disabling mental illness for inclusion in a database used for gun background checks.
This would effectively prevent these individuals — an estimated 75,000 a year — from buying guns unless they sought a Justice Department waiver after being rejected, given the longstanding federal limitation on the sale of firearms to individuals with known mental illnesses.
Groups like the National Rifle Associationthe A.C.L.U. and the National Alliance on Mental Illness objected to the provision, which had been scheduled to go into effect in January. They argued that it unfairly presumed a tendency toward violence by a wide range of people with mental disabilities, including conditions like bulimia and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Mr. Trump signed legislation on Tuesday revoking that rule under the Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress a limited window to overturn the decisions of regulatory agencies.
A total of 46 such Congressional Review Act resolutions are now pending in Congress, on topics including air pollution, unemployment compensation, endangered species listings, debit card fees and oil and gas drilling on federal lands as well as the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf.
The act, first adopted in 1996, had been used only once before to nullify a regulation, at the start of the Bush administration in 2001, when a Clinton-era rule was revoked.
Rules not subject to congressional review may still be at risk. The most radical shift has perhaps come at the Federal Communications Commission, which voted on Wednesday to halt new government rules related to data security from taking effect this week, after objections were raised by companies including Comcast, Verizon and AT&T.
Ajit Pai, a Republican whom Mr. Trump recently named as the F.C.C. chairman, has also made clear that he intends to push to roll back or abandon several other major rules, including the landmark net neutrality regulation intended to ensure equal access to content on the internet, as well as efforts to keep prison phone rates down and a proposal to break open the cable box market.
The efforts have been praised by telecommunications giants, like Comcast, but condemned by consumer advocates.
The administration started its campaign against regulation on the afternoon of Inauguration Day, with a memo from Reince Priebus, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, instructing agencies to halt work on new regulations and to delay putting completed regulations into effect.
So far, the effective dates of at least 75 rules have been delayed as a result of this order, based on an analysis of the Federal Register. That includes a measure intended to prevent potentially toxic formaldehyde exposure in homes caused by certain furniture products — an effort that has been underway since victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were moved into contaminated government-issued trailers.
Such delays are not uncommon with new presidents — both George W. Bush and Mr. Obama did the same, to differing degrees. And certain measures are still going into effect as the Trump administration gets underway, including one that prohibits smoking in public housing nationwide as of Feb. 3.
Still, the general Trump administration freeze has drawn broad opposition, some of it surprising. The Department of Agriculture has delayed a rule that would make it easier for chicken farmers to sue chicken processors. Business groups, including the National Federation of Independent Business, want to kill the rule.
But small-scale chicken farmers are fighting back.
Mike Weaver, a West Virginia farmer who said he had voted for Mr. Trump and was pleased with most of what he had seen so far, said he wished Mr. Trump would meet with farmers.
“I’d love to have a visit with the president about this, to tell him that these are federal regulations, yes, but these are good regulations,” said Mr. Weaver, the president of a small-farm group called the Organization for Competitive Markets. “These are regulations that we want implemented.”

Trump Wants NSA Program Reauthorized But Won’t Tell Congress How Many Americans It Spies On

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THE WHITE HOUSE wants Congress to reauthorize two of the NSA’s largest surveillance programs before they expire at the end of the year.
One of them scans the traffic that passes through the massive internet cables going in and out of the U.S. and ends up catching a vast number of American communications in its dragnet.
But how many? Lawmakers have been asking for years, and the intelligence community has consistently refused provide even a ballpark figure.
At a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, several members expressed frustration that intelligence chiefs — first under Obama, and now under Trump — have failed to provide any kind of estimate, even in classified briefings.
“The members of this committee and the public at large require that estimate to engage in a meaningful debate,” said Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the leading Democrat on the committee. “We will not simply take the government’s word on the size of the so-called ‘incidental collection.’”
Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which lapses at the end of the year, allows the NSA to collect vast amounts of domestic internet traffic as long as it maintains it is only “targeting” foreigners. Documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden described two huge surveillance programs that operate under that authority. One program, PRISM, allows the NSA to collect data in bulk from tech companies like Google, Facebook and Apple. The other program — Upstream — allows the NSA to tap the massive internet cables that carry information in and out of the U.S. and search for communications involving certain foreign “targets” or “selectors”.
As the NSA scans the cables for information on its targets, it also collects information on the Americans those targets are communicating with, as well as entirely unrelated information, such as communications from people who happened to be in the same chat room as a target. Furthermore, the targets can be selected for any “foreign intelligence purpose” — not just counterterrorism.
As a result, the NSA ends up collecting information on a huge number of U.S. persons without getting a warrant – collection they describe as “incidental,” but which is really inevitable. And using what critics call the backdoor loophole, law enforcement officials then search through that material for information on Americans.
That collection on Americans is part of how the law was designed, according to Elizabeth Goitein, a lawyer for the Brennan Center for Justice. “Incidentally,’ is the terminology used by the government,” Goitein testified at Wednesday’s hearing. “But it is part of the design of the program to acquire communications of foreign targets with Americans.”
The issue of “incidental collection” has come into the spotlight in the weeks since Trump’s inauguration. Last month, anonymous members of the intelligence community leaked information about phone calls between the Russian ambassador — who was understandably targeted for surveillance – and Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
Flynn’s resignation spooked some Republicans who worried about that ability being used improperly. “Whatever your political persuasion is, for me it had a chilling effect,” said Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho. “My political opponents could use my personal information, that they maybe gathered in some private information, against me in the future. That should be quite terrifying to anybody, whether you’re a Republican or Democrat.”
Conyers, along with a bipartisan group of 14 Democrats and Republicans, sent a letter to the director of national intelligence in April last year, asking “simply for a rough estimate” of how many Americans had their communications collected.
Conyers sent a follow-up letter in December. “The intelligence community has not so much as responded to our December letter,” Conyers said Wednesday. “I had hoped for better.”
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., first requested an estimate in 2011 — even before the Snowden disclosures demonstrated the reach of the surveillance programs. The federal Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight board recommended in 2014 that the NSA start keeping track of the number. In 2015, more than 30 civil liberties organizations wrote a letter to the Intelligence Community’s Civil Liberties Protection Office, demanding the same thing, and got an unresponsive reply.
The intelligence community insists that it doesn’t keep track, in part because doing so would require it to identify which phone numbers and computer IP addresses belong to American citizens. April Doss, a former NSA lawyer, told the committee that it would require the NSA to de-anonymize everyone in their communications. “In my view, the collection and maintenance of that reference information would itself pose significant impacts to privacy,” she said.
But Goitein noted that the NSA already uses computer IP addresses to approximate who is a U.S. citizen for other purposes, so it would be easy for them to estimate how many Americans’ communications they collect.

“The NSA has determined that the IP address is an accurate enough indicator of a persons status … to use it to filter out the wholly domestic communications that the NSA is prohibited from acquiring,” she testified. “If it’s accurate enough to enable the NSA to comply with that constitutional obligation, then it’s certainly accurate enough for the estimate.”

What Trump's latest H-1B move means for workers and business

The Trump administration's decision to halt expedited processing of H-1B visas could abruptly disrupt the plans of thousands of immigrant workers in a range of businesses from technology to health care, immigration experts say.

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by Jackie Wattles and Parija Kavilanz

H-1B visas allow employers to bring in skilled foreign workers; about 85,000 will be given out this year. The visas are in high demand and given out by lottery. It can take six months or longer for an application to be reviewed.
But the government announced Friday that, as of April 3, it will suspend the "premium processing" option, which ensures an application will be reviewed within 15 days. It costs $1,225.
Trump has accused companies of abusing the H-1B program as a way to hire foreign workers who take jobs away from Americans, at lower salaries.
The Trump administration says it's doing away with quick-turn processing so it can sort through a large backlog of applications and try to "reduce overall H-1B processing times."
Immigration lawyers said Saturday that the change will leave many people and companies in limbo.
"The message specifically mentions they want to bring down the backlogged time, but I worry about my clients, employers and individuals who will be affected by these delays," said Tahmina Watson of Watson Immigration Law. "This suspension is not good for American businesses by any means."
Watson said "I strongly suspect delays will continue."
H-1Bs are at the center of controversy as President Trump vows to deliver on campaign promises to reduce immigration.
There are several efforts in Congress to change how the H-1B program works. One bipartisan bill would reform the program by instructing officials to grant visas on merit, rather than through lottery.
Neil Ruiz, executive director of the Center for Law, Economics and Finance at George Washington University, said the Trump administration's decision to stop expedited processing could be the first step away from the lottery system.
"I think that removing premium processing may allow the administration to pick who to prioritize in the wait times for H-1B visas," Ruiz told CNNMoney.
Watson called the move a "big deal" because certain "employers and individuals require premium processing in certain situations."
Without it, she said, employers can't "plan for their businesses and act accordingly."
Rural communities need foreign doctors
Some areas of rural America, as previously reported by CNNMoney, rely heavily on immigrant medical professionals.
Thousands of doctors from abroad need H-1B visas to continue working in the U.S. after the expiration of their J-1 visas -- which permit them to complete a residency program.
Each year, more than 6,000 medical trainees from foreign countries participate in medical residency programs through J-1s, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges.
For many doctors, time is of the essence.
Once they complete their residency, physicians can either return to their home country for two years before becoming eligible to reenter the U.S. through a different immigration pathway, such as an H-1B visa, or they can apply for a J-1 visa waiver.
In the last 15 years, H-1B visas have allowed 15,000 foreign doctors to come to American to work in underserved communities.
"The lack of premium processing would mean that there would be a delay for the doctors to start working in the communities they wish to serve, which have a lack of physicians in the first place," said Ahsan Hafeez, a doctor who is in Pakistan awaiting approval of his H-1B so he can begin working in Arkansas.
Tech companies depend on immigrant workers
It's not just the medical profession that relies on expedited processing of H-1Bs. The visas are a staple in Silicon Valley. Large firms say they need the visas to bring in engineers and other high-skilled workers they can't find in the U.S.
The elimination of expedited processing will leave tech companies in limbo about the status of critical employees, said Bay Area immigration attorney Martin Lawler.
"When you're planning a project, you want to make sure you have the necessary people and skills to get it out on time," Lawler said.
India, home of many skilled immigrants who come to the U.S. on H-1B visas, is bracing for an economic impact. Local news reports have already cautioned that the change by the Trump administration will likely take a toll on IT companies next quarter. It's common for Indian IT companies to send workers to America at the last minute to work on projects.
Processing change could hurt students
H-1B visas are used by all manner of foreign workers -- journalists, entertainers, professors and researchers. Any could be hurt by a delay in visa processing.
But longer wait times could "be particularly harmful" for students, said Watson, the immigration lawyer.
That's because graduating students who are in the U.S. with a different type of visa -- such as a J-1 or F-1 -- cannot stay while their H-1B status is pending, she said, and they can't start working. They have to return to their home country while awaiting approval.
Now those waits could get even longer. Watson said the backlog of standard process cases is so large that officials are currently looking at applications submitted in July 2016.

Trump angry and frustrated at staff over Sessions fallout

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By Jake TapperJim AcostaJeff ZelenySara MurrayJohn King and Gloria Borger

President Donald Trump is extremely frustrated with his senior staff and communications team for allowing the firestorm surrounding Attorney General Jeff Sessions to steal his thunder in the wake of his address to Congress, sources tell CNN.
"Nobody has seen him that upset," one source said, adding the feeling was the communications team allowed the Sessions news, which the administration deemed a nonstory, to overtake the narrative.
On Thursday, Sessions recused himself from any current or future investigations into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign after it was reported he had met with the Russian ambassador to the US, something he had previously failed to disclose.
    In particular, the renewed focus on Russia is seen as a major letdown after Tuesday when top officials were riding high, congratulating one another on Trump's speech to Congress.
    "The staff fumbled," Trump told the team for not being prepared when the Sessions story came out, according to another source.
    The President was "hot" and exasperated Thursday night after Sessions' recusal, a source familiar with the situation said, considering it hasty and overkill.
    When the President returned to the White House Thursday evening from a day trip to Virginia, there were "a lot of expletives." The source said for more than a week Trump had been lamenting that his senior staff "just keep getting in their own way."
    "The President had a fantastic week advancing his agenda to lift up all Americans and keep the nation safe. His joint session speech will go down in history as one of the best," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in response to CNN's reporting.
    The President is showing increasing flashes of anger over the performance of his senior staff and daily developments about Russia overshadowing his message, multiple people inside the White House and outside the administration told CNN.
    Trump voiced his frustration to his inner circle in the Oval Office Friday, sources said. He feels attacked by the media, former Obama administration officials and others, and frustrated that things are not going more smoothly. The President expressed his anger at non-stop leaks undermining his administration, the sources said.
    One source familiar with the Friday meeting said Trump was angry at senior staff, including chief of staff Reince Priebus, about the state of affairs at the White House this week.
    Word had spread through the White House that Priebus had been chewed out but those in the room dispute that.
    Priebus declined to comment on the record about the meeting.
    One official, who was in the Oval Office, said there was an "animated discussion" about a number of subjects during the meeting -- the forthcoming immigration executive order, health care and Russia developments.
    Trump is upset because he doesn't believe he is getting credit he thinks he deserves for his time office so far because of self-inflicted wounds and missteps, the source said. An informed presidential ally outside government but close to the President said Trump was really angry about having a "mini disaster" a week. The President's mood is adding to tremendous pressure inside the West Wing and aides have been seen in tears in recent days at multiple meetings.
    With so much on the administration's plate -- leaks, Russia story, pending executive order and Obamacare repeal and replacement -- Priebus said he would not go to Florida with the President this weekend as had been previously planned, a source told CNN. He was on the manifest, and a big donor reception by the Republican National Committee which Priebus used to chair was on Preibus' schedule.
    But the President said he thought it wouldn't be a good idea since he is not happy with the state of matters right now, the same source said.
    A White House official disputed that Priebus was supposed to travel to Florida, adding that he stayed home this weekend for a family celebration.
    White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who initially decided to also stay in Washington Friday, ended up traveling to Florida Saturday and is joining Trump, Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at dinner at Mar-a-Lago.

    This Stunningly Racist French Novel Is How Steve Bannon Explains The World

    “The Camp of the Saints” tells a grotesque tale about a migrant invasion to destroy Western civilization.

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    By Paul Blumenthal

    Stephen Bannon, President Donald Trump’s chief strategist and the driving force behind the administration’s controversial ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, has a favorite metaphor he uses to describe the largest refugee crisis in human history.
    “It’s been almost a Camp of the Saints-type invasion into Central and then Western and Northern Europe,” he said in October 2015.
    “The whole thing in Europe is all about immigration,” he said in January 2016. “It’s a global issue today — this kind of global Camp of the Saints.”
    “It’s not a migration,” he said later that January. “It’s really an invasion. I call it the Camp of the Saints.”
    “When we first started talking about this a year ago,” he said in April 2016, “we called it the Camp of the Saints. ... I mean, this is Camp of the Saints, isn’t it?”
    Bannon has agitated for a host of anti-immigrant measures. In his previous role as executive chairman of the right-wing news site Breitbart — which he called a “platform for the alt-right,” the online movement of white nationalists — he made anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim news a focus.
    But the top Trump aide’s repeated references to The Camp of the Saints, an obscure 1973 novel by French author Jean Raspail, reveal even more about how he understands the world. The book is a cult favorite on the far right, yet it’s never found a wider audience. There’s a good reason for that: It’s breathtakingly racist.
    “[This book is] racist in the literal sense of the term. It uses race as the main characterization of characters,” said Cécile Alduy, professor of French at Stanford University and an expert on the contemporary French far right. “It describes the takeover of Europe by waves of immigrants that wash ashore like the plague.”
    The book, she said, “reframes everything as the fight to death between races.”
    Upon the novel’s release in the United States in 1975, the influential book review magazine Kirkus Reviews pulled no punches: “The publishers are presenting The Camp of the Saints as a major event, and it probably is, in much the same sense that Mein Kampf was a major event.”
    Linda Chavez, a Republican commentator who has worked for GOP presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush but opposed Trump’s election, also reviewed the book back then. Forty years later, she hasn’t forgotten it.
    “It is really shockingly racist,” Chavez told The Huffington Post, “and to have the counselor to the president see this as one of his touchstones, I think, says volumes about his attitude.”
    The plot of The Camp of the Saints follows a poor Indian demagogue, named “the turd-eater” because he literally eats shit, and the deformed, apparently psychic child who sits on his shoulders. Together, they lead an “armada” of 800,000 impoverished Indians sailing to France. Dithering European politicians, bureaucrats and religious leaders, including a liberal pope from Latin America, debate whether to let the ships land and accept the Indians or to do the right thing — in the book’s vision — by recognizing the threat the migrants pose and killing them all.
    The non-white people of Earth, meanwhile, wait silently for the Indians to reach shore. The landing will be the signal for them to rise up everywhere and overthrow white Western society.
    The French government eventually gives the order to repel the armada by force, but by then the military has lost the will to fight. Troops battle among themselves as the Indians stream on shore, trampling to death the left-wing radicals who came to welcome them. Poor black and brown people literally overrun Western civilization. Chinese people pour into Russia; the queen of England is forced to marry her son to a Pakistani woman; the mayor of New York must house an African-American family at Gracie Mansion. Raspail’s rogue heroes, the defenders of white Christian supremacy, attempt to defend their civilization with guns blazing but are killed in the process.
    Calgues, the obvious Raspail stand-in, is one of those taking up arms against the migrants and their culturally “cuckolded” white supporters. Just before killing a radical hippie, Calgues compares his own actions to past heroic, sometimes mythical defenses of European Christendom. He harkens back to famous battles that fit the clash-of-civilizations narrative — the defense of Rhodes against the Ottoman Empire, the fall of Constantinople to the same — and glorifies colonial wars of conquest and the formation of the Ku Klux Klan.
    Only white Europeans like Calgues are portrayed as truly human in The Camp of the Saints. The Indian armada brings “thousands of wretched creatures” whose very bodies arouse disgust: “Scraggy branches, brown and black … All bare, those fleshless Gandhi-arms.” Poor brown children are spoiled fruit “starting to rot, all wormy inside, or turned so you can’t see the mold.”
    The ship’s inhabitants are also sexual deviants who turn the voyage into a grotesque orgy. “Everywhere, rivers of sperm,” Raspail writes. “Streaming over bodies, oozing between breasts, and buttocks, and thighs, and lips, and fingers.”
    The white Christian world is on the brink of destruction, the novel suggests, because these black and brown people are more fertile and more numerous, while the West has lost that necessary belief in its own cultural and racial superiority. As he talks to the hippie he will soon kill, Calgues explains how the youth went so wrong: “That scorn of a people for other races, the knowledge that one’s own is best, the triumphant joy at feeling oneself to be part of humanity’s finest — none of that had ever filled these youngsters’ addled brains.”
    The Camp of the Saints — which draws its title from Revelation 20:9 — is nothing less than a call to arms for the white Christian West, to revive the spirit of the Crusades and steel itself for bloody conflict against the poor black and brown world without and the traitors within. The novel’s last line links past humiliations tightly to its own grim parable about modern migration. “The Fall of Constantinople,” Raspail’s unnamed narrator says, “is a personal misfortune that happened to all of us only last week.”
    Raspail wrote The Camp of the Saints in 1972 and 1973, after a stay at his aunt’s house near Cannes on the southern coast of France. Looking out across the Mediterranean, he had an epiphany: “And what if they came?” he thought to himself. “This ‘they’ was not clearly defined at first,” he told the conservative publication Le Point in 2015. “Then I imagined that the Third World would rush into this blessed country that is France.”
    Raspail’s novel has been published in the U.S. several times, each time with the backing of the anti-immigration movement.
    The U.S. publishing house Scribner was the first to translate the book into English in 1975, but it failed to reach a wide audience amid withering reviews by critics. A rare favorable take appeared in National Review. “Raspail brings his reader to the surprising conclusion that killing a million or so starving refugees from India would be a supreme act of individual sanity and cultural health,” then-Dartmouth professor Jeffrey Hart wrote in 1975. “Raspail is to genocide what [D.H. Lawrence] was to sex.” Hart added that “a great fuss” was being made over “Raspail’s supposed racism,” but that the “liberal rote anathema on ‘racism’ is in effect a poisonous assault upon Western self-preference.”
    The book received a second life in 1983 when Cordelia Scaife May, heiress to the Mellon fortune and sister to right-wing benefactor Richard Mellon Scaife, funded its republication and distribution. This time it gained a cult following among immigration opponents.
    May’s money has also been instrumental in funding the efforts of John Tanton, the godfather of the anti-immigration movement in the U.S. Tanton, who began as an environmentalist and population control proponent, founded a host of groups focused on restricting immigration, including the Federation of American Immigration Reform, the Center for Immigration Studies, NumbersUSA and U.S. English. May’s fortune has fueled these groups with tens of millions of dollars in contributions over the years.
    Linda Chavez was recruited in 1987 to head U.S. English, which advocates for English to be designated the country’s official language. But then a series of disturbing stories painted Tanton’s motives in a racial light. Among other issues, Chavez said she learned that his funding came from the pro-eugenics Pioneer Fund and from May, who Chavez knew had helped publish The Camp of the Saints. Chavez recalled seeing Tanton’s staffers carrying the book around their offices. She quit the group.
    Tanton, who insists his opposition to immigration is not connected to race at all, told The Washington Post in 2006 that his mind “became focused” on the issue after reading The Camp of the Saints. In 1995, his small publishing house, Social Contract Press, brought the book back into print for a third time in the U.S., again with funding from May. Historians Paul Kennedy and Matt Connelly tied the book to then-current concerns about global demographic trends in a cover story for The Atlantic.
    “Over the years the American public has absorbed a great number of books, articles, poems and films which exalt the immigrant experience,” Tanton wrote in 1994. “It is easy for the feelings evoked by Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty to obscure the fact that we are currently receiving too many immigrants (and receiving them too fast) for the health of our environment and of our common culture. Raspail evokes different feelings and that may help to pave the way for policy changes.”
    In 2001, the book was republished one more time, again by Tanton, and again gained a cult following among opponents of immigration like the border-patrolling Minutemen and eventually the online “alt-right.”
    Bannon’s alt-right-loving Breitbart has run multiple articles over the past three years referencing the novel. When Pope Francis told a joint session of Congress that the U.S. should open its arms to refugees in September 2015, Breitbart’s Julia Hahn, now an aide to Bannon in the White House, compared his admonition to Raspail’s liberal Latin American pontiff. And the novel’s thesis that migration is invasion in disguise is often reflected in Bannon’s public comments.
    The refugee crisis “didn’t just happen by happenstance,” Bannon said in an April 2016 radio interview with Sebastian Gorka, who now works for the National Security Council. “These are not war refugees. It’s something much more insidious going on.”
    Bannon has also echoed the novel’s theory that secular liberals who favor immigration and diversity weaken the West.
    “Do you believe the elites in this country have the backbone, have the belief in the underlying principles of the Judeo-Christian West to actually win this war?” he asked Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), now the attorney general, in June 2016.
    “I’m worried about that. … They’re eroding, regularly it seems to me, classical American values that are so critical to our success,” Sessions replied.
    Like Raspail, Bannon has reveled in the past victories of Christendom over Islamic forces.
    “If you look back at the long history of the Judeo-Christian West struggle against Islam, I believe that our forefathers kept their stance, and I think they did the right thing,” he said in a 2014 speech broadcast to a conference at the Vatican. “I think they kept it out of the world, whether it was at Vienna [the Battle of Vienna in 1683], or Tours [the Battle of Tours in 732], or other places. … They were able to stave this off, and they were able to defeat it, and they were able to bequeath to us a church and a civilization that really is the flower of mankind.”
    Now Bannon sits at the right hand of the U.S. president, working to beat back what Bannon calls “this Muslim invasion.” And Trump is all in on the project. During the campaign, he called for a ban on all Muslims entering the country. His Jan. 28 executive order, since blocked in the courts, turned this campaign idea into executive policy.
    Trump has continued to defend the executive order as a life-or-death national security issue. “We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America,” he said in his first speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.
    Five days earlier, Trump had called his immigration enforcement efforts a “military operation.”
    Although Department of Homeland Security officials walked back that statement, the president’s conflation of immigration with warfare did not go unnoticed.
    “They see this as a war,” Chavez said.
    Chavez, who supports some of Trump’s economic policy proposals, called the direction the White House is taking on immigration and race “extremely dangerous.” She said Trump’s immigration moves are “a kind of purging of America of anything but our Northern European roots.” Bannon, she added, “wants to make America white again.”