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Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Immigration Detention Conditions Must Improve, Federal Judge Warns Border Patrol

By Brad Poole
TUCSON, Ariz. (CN) – Although the Tucson Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol does the best it can with what it has, that might not be enough to avoid a ruling that conditions in the agency’s temporary holding cells violate the Constitution, a federal judge warned the government during closing arguments.
The lawsuit, filed in 2015 then later allowed by U.S. District Judge David Bury to become a class action, claims cold, overcrowded conditions in the cells, where sleep is difficult without beds and with lights on 24 hours a day, are inhumane. The Border Patrol housed more than 63,000 people in the temporary cells last year, more than 12,000 of them longer than 72 hours.
Bury praised the Border Patrol for doing a “great job” with the resources they have, but told the government Wednesday that he sees little progress toward improving conditions since the lawsuit was filed.
“There’s not going to be anything done unless a court gets involved, and I hate that,” Bury said. “I see no progress on (detainees) getting what they need to protect their constitutional rights.”
Although the Border Patrol sometimes holds detainees in the Tucson Sector’s nine stations longer than 72 hours, by which time policy says they should normally be transferred or released, it is often because other agencies don’t have room for them either, said defense attorney Sarah Fabian, who gave the defense closing.
Fabian didn’t give a hard answer when Bury asked what the agency has done to address the 12,000 people held longer than 72 hours last year – the outside limit of detention that is addressed in Border Patrol policy – without beds.
“It may be bearable and explainable that first night, but it’s not humane on the second night, or on the third or fourth,” said plaintiffs’ attorney James Lunden, who gave the plaintiffs’ closing argument.
Conditions are not improving, Lunden said.
“It’s not temporary. It has not gotten better. It has gotten worse,” he told Bury.
On the issue of overcrowding, Fabian showed pictures of one cell – the night before an inspection – to plaintiff’s prison conditions expert Eldon Vail, a retired longtime corrections administrator in Washington state.
Although the 10 or so people in the cell was slightly more than the agency’s “mat capacity,” Fabian argued in her closing that it was part of the Border Patrol’s mission.
“We have to consider that that is of limited duration during completion of that legitimate mission,” which is to process detainees and transfer them to other agencies, she said.
But those photos only show what conditions were that night – before a planned inspection, Vail said.
Fabian argued that although government records show how long people were in custody, they do not show how long they were in cells. Some detainees spend hours going to the hospital or in custody even before they get to a Border Patrol station, she said.
The government argued during the trial they often keep detainees longer than they have to mainly because other agencies – Immigration and Customs Enforcement for adults and families, Health and Human Services for unaccompanied minors, or the Marshal’s Service for criminal prosecutions – can’t take them.
Bury seemed sympathetic.
“I don’t think the Border Patrol is holding people longer than 72 hours because they want to. They don’t have a choice, correct?” he asked Fabian Wednesday.
“Correct,” she said.
The lawsuit also claims medical screenings – usually provided by emergency medical technicians and not doctors or nurses  are inadequate or non-existent.
Fabian argued in her closing that the plaintiffs hadn’t even shown any evidence that rights had been violated where medical screenings are concerned. All detainees are being evaluated, and a physician’s assistant and two EMTs are on duty to treat people as needed, she said.
“Unless the court determines that the system that is in use now constitutes a constitutional violation, then the court has no power to issue an injunction,” she said.
Bury agreed, telling her it isn’t his job to simply make things better.
Among 63,000 people housed in the Tucson Sector in 2019, 53% were single adults and 47% unaccompanied children or members of families, according to Border Patrol testimony. In 2016 and 2017, 85% were single adults.
That changing demographic is part of the reason for delays in transferring detainees, Fabian said, because fewer detainees are eligible for release.
Beds were a key issue in the trial. American Correctional Association standards say detainees should get a bed with sheets and a pillow if they are in custody longer than 12 hours. Tucson Sector Border Patrol holding cells do not have beds. Detainees instead get durable, plastic-covered foam mats for sleeping.
In a pretrial preliminary injunction, Bury ordered the Border Patrol to give every detainee a sleeping mat after 12 hours, which they are getting, according to Border Patrol witnesses.
Lunden said he agreed with Bury that the Border Patrol is doing everything it can to keep conditions within widely accepted prison standards.
“We have no criticism of the people who staff these facilities,” Lunden said.
The judge’s sole task, he argued, is to decide if the agency is violating the Constitution and to order compliance, he said.
“If they can’t, then that’s a consideration for another time,” Lunden said.
Bury plans to rule on the case within a couple weeks.
The class is represented by attorneys from the California law firm Morrison & Foerster, the American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Law Center, the ACLU of Arizona, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

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It’s Not Just Washington State. Iranians Are Stopped At Borders All Over The Country.

“When you’re held at the border, you don’t see a lot of other people with blue eyes and blond hair who were also stopped,” said one Iranian American woman.

Rowaida Abdelaziz

A few months ago in October, Suri, an Iranian American woman who lives in Massachusetts, and three of her friends went on a road trip to Quebec City, Canada, to celebrate her 57th birthday.
The group of women, who have been friends for decades, piled into Suri’s car for a couple of days of sightseeing. The celebrations went off without a hitch ― until it was time to come home. 
U.S. border agents at the Derby Line crossing in Vermont ordered the women, who are all using pseudonyms for fear of retaliation, to exit the car and told them they were being “randomly selected” for secondary screening. The women, all American citizens of Iranian descent, looked at each other with raised eyebrows. They knew this was not random.
“When you’re held at the border, you don’t see a lot of other people with blue eyes and blond hair who were also stopped,” said Suri’s friend Fariba, a 52-year-old saleswoman who has been an American citizen for over 30 years. “It’s challenging to travel, and it’s only getting worse.”
Earlier this month, soon after President Donald Trump ordered the killing of a top Iranian government official and the nation vowed to retaliate, news broke that U.S. border agents held nearly 200 people of Iranian descent without explanation at the Washington state border with Canada. U.S. Customs and Border Protection disputed the claim that officers detained Iranian Americans at the Peace Arch border crossing, but dozens of news reports described otherwise.
Some people were held for more than 10 hours. Nearly all of those held at the crossing were questioned about their place of birth, details of their family affairs, and were forced to hand over personal information such as where they worked, home addresses and phone numbers.
Activists and politicians demanded that CBP explain why those individuals, some of whom were U.S. citizens or permanent residents, were stopped, and the Department of Homeland Security announced it had opened an investigation.
A CBP spokesperson told HuffPost in a statement that the agency “has understood Iran and its proxies to be a very capable adversary for some time,” so it “leverages all available tools and information to ensure that individuals who seek entry into the United States are appropriately screened.”
The spokesperson added that CBP officers perform additional screening on “individuals who present a known risk or individuals about whom we need more information to make a determination of risk,” and that such referrals can be based on that “individual’s activities, associations and travel patterns,” resulting in “increased wait times and subsequent interviews.”
But the incident in Washington state was not the first of its kind — nor is it likely to be the last. People of Iranian descent, including Americans, permanent U.S. residents and those traveling with valid visas, have long been harassed at U.S. border crossings, according to experts and the individuals themselves, who described strikingly similar experiences to HuffPost.
Whether entering the U.S. by car like Suri or coming through airports, people of Iranianian heritage have consistently faced additional screening whenever they travel. 
On Monday night, CBP officials at Logan International Airport in Massachusetts denied entry to a 24-year-old Iranian national and put him on a plane back to Iran despite a federal court order to delay his removal and his valid student visa to take courses at Northeastern University. 
Ryan Costello, the policy director at the National Iranian American Council, told HuffPost he saw an increase of Iranianian students reporting trouble at the border starting late last summer when students attempted to reenter the U.S. for the start of the 2019 fall semester. His organization dealt with at least a couple dozen students who were subjected to harsh interrogation upon landing, subsequently had their visas rejected at the ports of entry and were forced to return to Iran.
“We have gotten a massive uptick of complaints throughout the entire Trump administration, but the last six months or so have been far worse,” Costello said.
"It was just so disappointing to be treated differently because of my place of birth. I didn’t choose to be born in Iran, but I chose to be in the U.S."Mike, 55-year-old Iranian American
Given Trump’s calls to ban Muslims from the U.S., a travel ban that restricts Iranian visitors, and hostility between the U.S. and Iran, experts and Iranian Americans fear these types of stops will become more common.
Mahsa Khanbabai, an immigration attorney based in Boston, said she’s seen an uptick of cases of Iranian Americans having trouble at the border within the last six months as political tensions escalate between the U.S. and Iran. American citizens of Iranian descent, in particular, are being asked intrusive questions about their personal background and their opinions on political events, Khanbabai said. 
“Having this broad brush apply to all Iranians and Iranian Americans is clearly wrong and doesn’t achieve more safety for us as a country,”  Khanbabai said. “The administration’s very open antagonism to immigrants and to people from the Middle East has given individual CBP officers this sense that they can do whatever they want like it’s the Wild West.” 
Green card holders are increasingly having their electronic devices confiscated for long periods of time, Khanbabai said. Meanwhile, Iranian nationals, particularly students and religious scholars who hold valid visas to enter the U.S., are being subjected to removal and even five-year bans. 
This type of discriminatory questioning of Iranian Americans and others has been a problem for more than a decade, said Hina Shamsi, the director of the National Security Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. But under Trump, people are on especially high alert. 
“Our concerns are heightened now because the Trump administration makes a point of treating people as outsiders based on their religion, national origin, race or ethnicity,” Shamsi added.
At the Vermont border crossing, Suri said agents asked her about her previous trips to Iran, the whereabouts of her children and why she held on to her Iranian passport as a U.S. citizen. Fariba said agents took away her U.S. and Iranian passports and directed her to write out her full name, phone number, email addresses and other personal information for the officer. 
Fariba had been traveling to Iran regularly for the past few years to care for her ill father until he passed away last March. She said the border official kept inquiring about her dead father, even after she said multiple times that he was deceased. Fariba suspects the officer was trying to catch her in a lie.  
“It was very bothersome, but I kept answering the same questions,” Fariba said. “There is really nothing you can say or do to stop this. They made me feel very uncomfortable.”
Suri and her friends are trying to push out the memory of what occurred at the border and instead relive the happier moments from the trip. But it’s hard not to think about how they were singled out, particularly when they consider how quickly they accepted that the questions and demands were to be expected as Iranian Americans. 
“The painful part for us after reflecting on the way home was looking at how we have accepted this,” Suri said. “That this was a normal thing for us to be subjected to and treated this way. It’s sad.” 
Mike, a Bay Area executive and U.S. citizen who was born in Iran, had a similarly unsettling experience last week when he was returning to the U.S. with his family after a ski trip to Calgary. He noticed a glaring “X” printed on his entry slip indicating he needed secondary screening, even though the frequent international traveler holds global entry authorization that typically lets him quickly reenter the U.S. at airports.  
Mike, who is using a pseudonym in fear of backlash at work, was separated from his family and questioned about his last visit to Iran and whether he served in the country’s mandatory draft. The 55-year-old hasn’t set foot in Iran since he left the country when he was just 13 years old in 1978.
“It was just so disappointing to be treated differently because of my place of birth,” Mike said. “I didn’t choose to be born in Iran, but I chose to be in the U.S.” 
This wasn’t the first time Mike was stopped and questioned about his Iranian heritage upon entering the U.S. He filed a complaint with Homeland Security about the treatment he received at the border in 2002. This time, he was a bit better prepared and was able to push back.
“I had all my answers ready. I was confident,” said Mike. “If I’m prepared, I can respond better. I have rehearsed a lot of these situations in my head already.” 
Border officials eventually released Mike after nearly an hour. But when he thinks about the hourslong detention of people of Iranian descent in Washington, he has one thought: “It could have been us.”
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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

American elections need to look like the future population of this country

BY MANUEL PASTOR, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR

As Cory Booker joins the ranks of sidelined candidates Julian Castro and Kamala Harris, it is time to ask why these three promising candidates of color were not able to sustain their campaigns. While American politics should assuage the pain and embrace the promise of every community, our system should recognize that people of color are nearly half of those who can become new voters each year simply by turning the age of 18.
If you add to that those potential voters who have become naturalized citizens, and who might be angry about the current tenor of the national debate, around 55 percent of the potential additional voters this year are people of color. It is a share that will only likely rise moving forward. Part of the explanation of course rests on the particulars of each candidate.
Booker never found his own lane and it appeared like he was waiting for others to drop out. He was perceived as somewhat delusional and it stuck in the public mind when his “spartacus moment” at the Brett Kavanaugh hearings included the release of confidential documents that were not actually confidential. Castro ran a dynamic campaign aimed at younger and more progressive voters, but his stable record as a moderate mayor worked against the play. Harris was saddled with a record as a prosecutor that was intended to bring credibility but instead alienated such voters.
While the candidates themselves matter, I am a sociologist and know that individual explanations are simply not enough when you see a remarkably consistent and worrisome pattern over time. So what is going on? Part of it is the way that Iowa and New Hampshire, among the whitest of states in the country, loom large in the early horse race. It is a critical feature that Castro railed against and a stand the others avoided for fear of turning off those lucky voters. It is an issue that cannot be avoided moving forward.
But there is more. Consider that the Federal Election Commission was not even prepared for a candidate with a Latino name, forcing Castro to add an accent over his name by hand. Or that the polling data used to boost up candidates and secure them a spot on the debate stage is quite often plagued by inaccurate sampling of voters of color. Or even that a system that relies so heavily on campaign cash is bound to disadvantage Latino and African prospects affected by the legacy of our racial wealth gaps.
For a country that is slated to become majority people of color in the next few decades, it is critical to address these structural features and offer a more representative set of candidates for voters. Reconsidering the order of the primaries, working to limit the role of campaign contributions, and improving polling methodology are all part of the reform package for the future. So too is an active stance by all candidates and all pundits against racism and prejudice and the way it can filter into notions of electability.
With all of that said, it is now critical that these three candidates lick their wounds and get back into the public square to help ensure the defeat of a president whose policies have been hurtful to people of color and to lift up issues that might otherwise get less focus. Quickly after he suspended his campaign, Castro endorsed his fellow candidate Elizabeth Warren. Her policies on immigration mirror his own proposals and have gained strong support by many advocates. His endorsement of Warren will draw more attention to this issue and could garner her some support from the Latino community as well as from the movement activists to which he appealed.
Meanwhile, Harris will take all her prosecutorial skills back to the Senate. While they worked against her in the campaign, they will help her offer incisive commentary and courtroom strategy during the impeachment trial. While Booker deserves a break, he will need to be out there soon or the issues of urban communities that he stressed may lose attention in a race centered around the battleground states and elusive swing voters.
As Castro ended his campaign, he remarked that “it is simply is not our time.” That may be true in this cycle for him and his fellow candidates of color, but Democrats would be wise to examine what went wrong here and how to ensure that our elections will look a lot more like our future.
Manuel Pastor is a professor of sociology and the director of the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at the University of Southern California.

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Bloomberg unveils economic justice plan at site of 'Black Wall Street' massacre

By Caroline Kenny and Cristina Alesci, CNN

Tulsa, Oklahoma (CNN)Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg on Sunday released an economic justice plan during a stop in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, neighborhood that was known as "Black Wall Street" before it was destroyed in a 1921 riot and massacre.
Bloomberg unveiled his "Greenwood Initiative," a plan his campaign says "will help address the systemic bias that has kept many Black Americans from gaining wealth." It calls for ending discriminatory business practices and biased policies in the financial, criminal justice and voting systems in America that have resulted in loss of wealth for African American families.
The Greenwood district of North Tulsa, known as "Black Wall Street" in the early 20th century, was home to more than 300 African American-owned businesses. In 1921, a mob of white residents destroyed the neighborhood and killed at least 300 black people.
According to Bloomberg's plan, the initiative will pave the way for the creation of 1 million new black homeowners and 100,000 new black-owned businesses over the next 10 years. The former New York City mayor is also calling for a $70 billion investment in America's 100 most disadvantaged communities and wants to help black families triple their wealth over the next decade to an all-time high.
    Much of the plan is modeled off of work by Geoffrey Canada, a well-known community leader in New York, according to a campaign aide.
    During the announcement, Bloomberg said that black exploitation through slavery, sharecropping, Jim Crow, segregation, redlining and more, worked exactly as intended -- resulting in the average African American family owning just one-tenth of the wealth of the average white family in America.
    "For hundreds of years, America systematically stole black lives, black freedom, and black labor. A theft of labor and a transfer of wealth enshrined in law and enforced by violence," he said.
    Bloomberg, who was raised in Medford, Massachusetts, and worked for 15 years on Wall Street before forming his own company, said he would not have been as successful in building his businesses under the conditions black Americans have experienced.
    "Could I have built my business and enjoyed my success under those conditions? Of course not," Bloomberg said. "But I also know that my story may have turned out very differently if I had been Black, and that more black Americans of my generation would have ended up with far more wealth, had they been white."
    Bloomberg cites his time from his 12 years as mayor of New York City when pointing to why he is the candidate who can take on these issues and create the kind of change he lays out in the plan.

    Bloomberg's record as mayor

    As mayor, Bloomberg expanded affordable housing, permitted charter schools that primarily served black and Hispanic students, announced a "Ban the Box" policy to remove from job applications the check box that asks about convictions and launched the Young Men's Initiative that focused on the disparities young men of color face.
    Bloomberg's record on race, though, has been clouded by his enforcement of "stop and frisk," a type of aggressive policing that allowed -- and some say encouraged -- officers to detain a person on virtually any type of vague suspicion, search that individual without a warrant and arrest the person if any kind of illegal substance or weapon was found.
      The policing approach, officially called "Stop, question and frisk," sparked a backlash from activists throughout Bloomberg's tenure as New York City mayor because it disproportionately affected African American and Latino men.
      The former three-term mayor only just apologized for the policy before announcing his presidential run late last year. Critics have questioned the timing and sincerity of that apology.
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      To win black support, Bloomberg acknowledges white privilege

      By SALLY GOLDENBERG and CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO

      TULSA, Okla. — Mike Bloomberg began his presidential campaign with an apology to African Americans — an acknowledgment of the racial inequities spurred by the controversial “stop and frisk” policing practice he oversaw as New York City mayor.
      It was also a recognition of the political realities confronting a campaign for the Democratic nomination that hinges on a strong performance on Super Tuesday, when black voters will cast a majority of the primary vote in a handful of states.
      Bloomberg has so far amassed a roster of surrogates that includes prominent black politicians, traveled to cities with large black populations like Oakland, Detroit and Cleveland to solicit input on policy, and unveiled proposals on issues central to many black communities, such as maternal mortality and incarcerated youth. Aides point to his work on education, gun control and job creation in addressing concerns he faces among black voters.
      “I think he has challenges, but he has, I think, made a more-than-expected attempt to deal with the challenges,” Rev. Al Sharpton told POLITICO, noting endorsements like Columbia, S.C. Mayor Steve Benjamin and other black leaders who were early endorsers. “I don’t know how much it will work, but I can say he’s put more of an effort in it than I would have thought.”
      Bloomberg flew here to attend Sunday services at Vernon Chapel AME Church before delivering the most sweeping and anticipated address of his young campaign: A plan to increase job opportunities and home ownership in black neighborhoods and invest $70 billion in struggling areas across the country.
      His pitch, which takes its name from the Greenwood section of Tulsa known as “Black Wall Street” that was destroyed in the race massacre of 1921, was designed to tackle the systemic bias keeping many African Americans from advancement—as he put to parishioners at the church — “righting what I think are historic wrongs and creating opportunity and wealth in black communities.”
      Bloomberg’s strategy of skipping the first four voting states — underwritten by his vast fortune — has given him a wide-open playing field in areas with large black populations to try to define himself to voters, many of whom have stuck with former Vice President Joe Biden. In the speech Sunday, the billionaire who made his fortune on New York’s Wall Street went even further to acknowledge his white privilege.
      “As someone who has been very lucky in life, I often say my story would only have been possible in America — and I think that’s true,” Bloomberg said, as hundreds filled the Greenwood hall and spilled into an overflow room. “But I also know that my story might have turned out very differently if I had been black, and that more black Americans of
      my generation would have ended up with far more wealth, had they been white.”
      “Instead,” he said, “they’ve had to struggle to overcome great odds, because their families started out further behind, and excluded from opportunities — in housing, in employment, education, and other areas.”
      Bloomberg’s plan calls for one million new black homeowners and 100,000 new black-owned businesses in the next decade. Banks would need to update their credit-scoring requirements while he’d also create a Housing Fairness Commission funded with an initial $10 billion.
      Organizationally, the event was a show of force for Bloomberg in a red state where Democratic activists and supporters said they’ve been starved to have in someone who could take on Donald Trump. Several prominent black political and business leaders were on hand from across the country, with Chicago heavyweight John Rogers Jr. introducing the former mayor and telling POLITICO that he’s made his endorsement: “I’m with him all the way,” Rogers said.
      “This is a first down. It’s a good play. It wasn’t a touchdown, but he’s moved the ball down the field,” said Jarrod Loadholt, an Atlanta-based Democratic consultant. “Democrats writ large don’t speak meaningfully to economic opportunity when it comes to communities of color,” he added, contending that candidates tend to focus primarily on “safety net issues.”
      But the degree to which stop and frisk has dominated negative assessments of Bloomberg has only magnified the issue as his Achilles heel in the Democratic primary. Mark Thompson, a veteran radio host and NAACP activist, dismissed Bloomberg’s recent attempts in recent weeks to move beyond the issue as an “utter misreading of the room,” given the party’s progressive streak.
      “You can’t say ‘I’m sorry’ in 2020 when you haven't said ‘I’m sorry’ over the past decade,” Thompson said. That would split the Democratic coalition. Even progressive whites would not keep their progressive bonafides.”
      Sharpton and others vociferously criticized his criminal justice record when he was mayor, including stop and frisk policing and his stance on five teenagers wrongly convicted of raping a woman in Central Park — now the subject of a documentary that underscores how the law enforcement system impacts young black and Latino men.
      “You can’t say ‘I’m sorry’ in 2020 when you haven't said ‘I’m sorry’ over the past decade."
      - Mark Thompson, a veteran radio host and NAACP activist
      The Central Park rape took place before Bloomberg was elected to office. His administration fought a civil lawsuit alleging racial discrimination and he defended the police, though he did not disagree with the decision to vacate the convictions. Shortly after announcing his presidential campaign he was asked about the case and replied, “I've been away from it for so long, I just really can't respond because I just don't remember.”

      “Mike Bloomberg has baggage — stop and frisk and the Central Park Five," Sharpton said. "But Joe Biden has the crime bill and Bernie Sanders voted for it.”
      Maya Wiley, who once chaired the Civilian Complaint Review Board in New York City, was circumspect about Bloomberg’s apology for stop and frisk, given his insistence the practice was necessary to drive down crime during his dozen years in office. He’s been forced to answer questions about it in nearly every big national TV interview he’s done of late.
      While Bloomberg is responsible for reversing course, under extensive political and legal pressure, he never publicly acknowledged the change, allowing his successor and chief critic, Bill de Blasio, to exaggerate his own role in the reform.
      “He obviously had to apologize. He has not done it well enough to win over the black vote, certainly not the black vote in New York, who has experienced firsthand what stop and frisk meant, and how harassing, humiliating and abusive it was with very little need or impact on crime,” Wiley, who previously served as de Blasio’s City Hall attorney, said.
      “He doesn’t really understand just what black people are concerned about in enough of a personal way to be relatable,” she added about Bloomberg. “And I say that not because I don’t think he is trying, but because I don’t think he understands.”
      In his Tulsa speech, Bloomberg again expressed regret for using stop and frisk in his determination to halt gun violence. “As I have said, I was wrong not to act faster and sooner to cut the stops and I’ve apologized to New Yorkers for that — for not better understanding the impact it was having on black and Latino communities.”
      Bloomberg also took pains to draw on the experiences of black Americans, using the massacre to illustrate centuries of injustice: More than 6,000 were arrested during and after the brutal episode — all of them black, while no white people went to jail. While it was one of the most painful sagas in American history, Bloomberg admitted he’d never heard of it until traveling to Tulsa recently to help underscore the point that so many mass killings of African Americans between 1917 and 1923 were never taught in high schools and colleges.
      He tells the story of his father donating to the NAACP, telling a young Bloomberg that “discrimination against anyone is a threat to everyone.”

      “I didn’t know it at the time, but when my parents moved to the house I grew up in, the owners wouldn’t sell to them,” he said. “They didn’t want a Jewish family in the neighborhood. Luckily for us, our Irish lawyer was willing to buy it and transfer it to my parents. But if my mother and father had been black, we would not have been so lucky. And we would not have grown up in that neighborhood.”

      Bloomberg’s courtship of black voters comes as Biden holds onto a commanding and seemingly unshakable lead among them. A Washington Post-Ipsos poll conducted earlier this month found Biden the clear frontrunner, at 48 percent. That’s more than double Bernie Sanders’ 20 percent. Bloomberg stood at just 4 percent. Particularly problematic for Bloomberg was his negative rating among respondents: When asked whom they would not consider for the nomination, he came in second to long-shot contender Tulsi Gabbard.
      Loadholt said he remains skeptical Bloomberg could move the needle enough to compete in the primary. “There are some voters — African Americans — who will like Michael Bloomberg,” he said. “But does this get him to 15% in Alabama, where he can get some delegates?”
      Bloomberg is grounding his broader appeal in anti-Trump fervor and arguments about his potential electability in November — both areas where Biden has so far excelled with black voters. Still, Bloomberg’s spending, now upward of $250 million alone on advertising, has helped him rise modestly with voters overall in national polls and created a dynamic that’s hard to ignore, said Adrianne Shropshire, the executive director of BlackPAC.
      With such a massive premium on winning, voters could be swayed by a candidate that’s able to use Trump-like tactics to defeat him.
      “Part of the reason why there is that support for Biden is he’s the ‘scrapper from Scranton,” Shropshire said. “Bloomberg is a New Yorker, too. Bloomberg knows how to use those New York City machine politics as well. And there is some sense he can defeat Trump because he understands what New York in the street politics is about — and, because he has the money.”

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