April 1, 2019

Border Crisis

“The U.S. government cut aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras on Saturday after President Donald Trump blasted the Central American countries for sending migrants to the United States and threatened to shutter the U.S.-Mexico border.” Reuters

See past issues

From the Left

The left criticizes the administration for the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers, and argues that these latest moves will worsen the situation and hurt the US economy.

“Certainly, the United States cannot open its southern borders to all comers. But there is little excuse for not processing this wave of migrants in an orderly and humane manner. Turning the lives of desperate people who yearn for freedom into political talking points is unconscionable.”
Editorial Board, Deseret News

“Are U.S. immigration officials even trying to come up with a better temporary fix than human beings sleeping on ice-cold gravel?… The humanitarian crisis at the southern border is real -- but the human rights violations are the ones that the United States government is either exacerbating or flat-out creating. Indeed, the budget bill passed by Congress this winter aimed to spend money on upgrading government detention facilities and increasing the number of now-overloaded immigration judges to process the asylum claims of refugees more quickly. But Team Trump seems much more interested in cannibalizing our military to pay for his grandiose border wall.”
Will Bunch, Philadelphia Inquirer

“There is a genuine problem at the U.S.-Mexico border… [But] cutting off aid to Central America or ‘closing the border,’ as Mr. Trump now threatens, would make things worse… [The commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection] would like Congress to give him authority to hold these migrants for up to eight weeks. That would allow time to process their claims, which would in many cases be denied. He also wants authority to return unaccompanied children to their home countries, which the law allows for Mexicans and Canadians but not Central Americans… 

“If word got out that paying $7,000 to ‘coyotes’ for the trip to the border was likely to result in a prompt return trip, the flow would diminish — which would mean fewer children in danger. Congress should consider both requests favorably, along with more aid to Central America to get at the root causes of this exodus.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

Trump’s “own State Department publicly states that its strategy is to provide foreign assistance to Central America and protect American citizens ‘by addressing the security, governance, and economic drivers of illegal immigration and illicit trafficking.’ The aid -- again according to Trump's State Department -- ‘goes toward fighting crime organizations, drug trafficking, gang violence and human trafficking, while strengthening borders and enhancing security’… His reactive move to punish the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador will undoubtedly increase migration, rather than deter it.”
Samantha Vinograd, CNN

Finally, many point out that “shutting down ports of entry would be an economic disaster. It would also disrupt the lives of border communities that rely on the flow of people between the US and Mexico — including the major cities of San Diego (and Tijuana) and El Paso (and Ciudad Juarez). Approximately $1.5 billion worth of commerce happens along the US-Mexico border every day… When the San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego shut down for a few hours in November, as agents responded with force (including tear gas) to an organized march of asylum seekers, the temporary closure cost about $5.3 million in lost business revenue… Literally no one but Trump actually wants to close border crossings.”
Dara Lind, Vox

Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right argues that there is a major crisis at the border, which is exacerbated by the changing demographics of those apprehended.

From the Right

The right argues that there is a major crisis at the border, which is exacerbated by the changing demographics of those apprehended.

“As recently as 2012, 90 percent of apprehensions along the southern border were single adults. Today, that’s changed. Family units and unaccompanied minors now make up 60 percent of all apprehensions along the southern border. The change is important because we don’t treat single adults the same way we treat families and minors traveling alone. Instead of detaining or deporting them—as we do with adults—federal immigration officials are releasing families and children into the United States with orders to appear before an immigration judge, a process that can take years…

“Although total numbers of apprehensions might still be lower than they were in 2000, the total number of migrants being released into the United States, instead of deported or detained, is almost certainly higher today… The border crisis is real, it’s complicated, and it’s getting worse. It’s time to stop repeating, mantra-like, the meaningless talking point that illegal immigration levels are at ‘historic lows.’”
John Daniel Davidson, The Federalist

A former Border Patrol chief under President Barack Obama writes, “Central American families are incentivized and rewarded to come and illegally enter our border because they know the Department of Homeland Security must release them within 20 days by law and they will be allowed to remain in the U.S. indefinitely while awaiting immigration court proceedings…

“As the apprehensions reach one million this year, the unconscionable result will be the release of 650,000 immigrants into the U.S. That is more than the entire population of Wyoming. Contrast that with the late 1990s, when we experienced one million apprehensions and less than 100,000 were allowed into the U.S.”
Mark Morgan, Fox News

Congress needs to build stronger legal barriers that migrants and judges can’t evade or bulldoze… The Immigration and Nationality Act conditions asylum on a ‘well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.’ But immigrants complaining about abusive spouses and economic hardship have been waved through…

“Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan last year blocked the Administration from imposing asylum conditions. Last month the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals extended habeas corpus to asylum claimants, which means even those who fail the initial screening will have recourse in federal court. Almost anyone who claims asylum will now be able to avoid immediate deportation… The Administration last year tried to limit asylum eligibility to immigrants who present themselves at ports of entry, but the Ninth Circuit blocked that too. Thus, the border chaos.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“The decision to cut foreign aid to the Northern Triangle (and all other countries) is correct because the United States shouldn’t be bribing them to bend to our political will. We also don’t exactly know how the countries use the money – despite claims of the contrary from USAID. Propping up bad governments does nothing to actually help the migrants looking to come to the U.S… However, it would be a mistake to use the ‘pen and phone’ policy as the method to deliver this new policy. There are rules which need to be followed, which means Congress should hold a vote on the issue.”
Taylor Millard, Hot Air

Regarding the decision to label China a currency manipulator, “traders may fear the tiny devaluation signals trade conflict spreading to currency. [But] this is highly unlikely, because a steep devaluation would be destabilizing for China… If an extended depreciation is encouraged or permitted, RMB holders can only guess what level the government truly wants. Last time around — four years ago — they chose large-scale capital flight rather than trusting the People’s Bank. China’s economy is slower, older, and more indebted than back then. Most importantly, it no longer has the foreign exchange to afford a repeat of 2015–6. That’s why the People’s Bank is likely to continue to defend the RMB near 7 to the dollar.”
Derek M. Scissors, The National Interest

“Trump should be overjoyed. Tariffs are taxes paid by Americans on the things Americans buy. The only way China can be paying any of them is if something else, something extra, then happens — like the yuan dropping. This makes all imports into China more expensive for Chinese citizens. That's China paying for Trump's tariffs when the yuan falls. Without this happening, only Americans pay. With the yuan dropping, China pays as well. This is the claim Trump has been making all along, that China's really paying those trade taxes — now they are… Imposing significant export tariffs on a country should mean the value of that currency falls. This is what is happening. Why is Trump complaining about it?
Tim Worstall, Washington Examiner

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

Outside Hong Kong, the silence Is deafening… Some protesters in Hong Kong today are adopting the British Union Jack flag, the American flag and the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ as symbols, yet that doesn’t seem to have stirred our collective imaginations… Americans are preoccupied with fighting each other over political correctness, gun violence, Trump and the Democratic candidates for president. To be sure, those issues deserve plenty of attention. But they are soaking up far too much emotional energy, distracting attention from the all-important struggles for liberty around the world…

“It’s 2019, and the land of the American Revolution, a country whose presidents gave stirring speeches about liberty and freedom in Berlin during the Cold War, remains in a complacent slumber. It really is time to Make America Great Again — if only we could remember what that means.”
Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg

On the bright side...

'Cow toilets' in Netherlands aim to cut e-moo-ssions.
The Straits Times

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