June 10, 2019

US-Mexico Immigration Deal

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

On Friday, President Trump announced a deal with Mexico regarding immigration. The deal “averted Trump’s threatened imposition of 5% import tariffs on all Mexican goods that had been due to start on Monday unless Mexico committed to do more to help reduce an increase in migrants arriving at the U.S. southern border… The agreement expedites a program known as the Migration Protection Protocols that was announced in December. That program sends migrants seeking asylum in the United States to wait in Mexico while their cases are being processed…

“[Other] key aspects of the agreement are still unclear, including whether Mexico has pledged to buy more U.S. agricultural products and if the deal materially expanded a previous commitment by Mexico to more vigorously police its southern border with Guatemala.” Reuters

See past issues

From the Left

The left is critical of Trump’s negotiating tactics, and argues that this deal will not solve the underlying problems with the immigration system.

“The whole point of trade deals is that they’re supposed to provide some certainty. The USMCA, like NAFTA, amounts to a promise by all three participants that they won’t arbitrarily impose new barriers to cross-border trade. Then Trump went ahead and threatened major new tariffs on Mexico, not because it had violated its trade agreements, but because he didn’t like something that was happening on the border, a situation that has nothing to do with trade policy. So the USMCA appears, in practice, to be a solemn promise by the U.S. government not to impose tariffs on Mexican products … unless it feels like it. If that’s what you get out of making a deal with America, why bother?… events like the Mexican standoff weaken America’s position in the world.”
Paul Krugman, New York Times

The incident “cracked open fissures among Republicans, with business groups and GOP senators angrily lobbying the White House to persuade the president to back down… The brouhaha also exposed the diminishing effectiveness of the president’s negotiating style, if only because of its growing predictability, which is signaling to those across the table that neither he — nor his threats — can be taken seriously. It was eerily reminiscent of the president’s threat in late March to close the U.S. southern border if Mexico didn’t stop the flow of undocumented immigrants and illegal drugs into the United States — only to back down six days later and issue Mexico a ‘one-year warning’ instead.”
Eliana Johnson and Nancy Cook, Politico

“Nine days in spring offered a case study in Mr. Trump’s approach to some of the most daunting issues confronting him and the nation: When the goal seems frustratingly out of reach through traditional means, threaten drastic action, set a deadline, demand concessions, cut a deal — real or imagined — avert the dire outcome and declare victory. If nothing else, he forces attention on the issue at hand. Whether the approach yields sustainable results seems less certain

“Even after the deal was struck on Friday night, the Business Roundtable issued a statement essentially asking Mr. Trump not to do it again, describing itself as ‘deeply concerned about the threat or imposition of tariffs to press policy changes with our neighbors and allies.’ Business, after all, likes certitude, predictability. So does Washington.”
Peter Baker, New York Times

“Mexico did not cause the surge of immigrants from Central America to the United States, and it is not well positioned to solve the problem. Better tools are at hand for the U.S. president and Congress, if they would only decide to wield them

“A concatenation of court rulings, congressional inaction and administration failures has created a perverse incentive for migrants to cross the border with children. They claim asylum; a swamped court system postpones their case for years; the government does not have the facilities or the legal right to hold them; so they are ‘paroled’ into the United States for an extended period. Most of the asylum claims eventually are denied… Congress should approve funding to hire more judges and to hold families in decent conditions for short periods. The more durable fix would be to allow for the legal flow of immigrants that the economy needs, including legal status for ‘dreamers’.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

Others note that “[Warren] has provided more detail on Medicare financing than Sanders has. She has also provided more overall policy detail, including on the taxes she would raise, than Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg. And her Medicare plan comes much, much closer to paying for itself than various Republican tax cuts. I wish the conservatives complaining about her plan applied the same rigor to their own ideas… The biggest weakness of Warren’s approach is that it tries to bulldoze through the sizable public anxiety about radical changes to the health care system. Warren would not let people opt into Medicare, a wildly popular idea. She would force them to join… she needs to come up with a reassuring transition plan soon.”
David Leonhardt, New York Times

Many note that “Biden’s opposition to [marijuana] legalization… puts him at odds with the great majority of Democrats, 75-plus percent of whom back legalization. Biden’s opposition even puts him at odds with the median Republican, with polls showing that even a majority of Republicans support legalization. Politically, then, legalization should be low-hanging fruit… Yet Biden is not quite there… It’s an especially bad look for Biden. He has a long record of pushing for punitive criminal justice and drug policies — not just supporting but actually writing many of the laws in the 1980s and ’90s that helped shape America’s modern war on drugs. For Biden to hang on to marijuana prohibition, then, just reinforces one of the major concerns that criminal justice reformers like Booker have about him.”
German Lopez, Vox

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right celebrates the deal as a victory for Trump, but argues that the immigration system must still be fixed by Congress.

From the Right

The right celebrates the deal as a victory for Trump, but argues that the immigration system must still be fixed by Congress.

“Trump went about his business and did what other politicians refused to do. He found a promising way to decrease illegal immigration… Mexico has a vulnerable economy and the U.S. economy is far, far stronger. Mexico had and still does have more to lose and so it made a deal. Leveraging your superior bargaining power is part of the art of the deal.”
Tom Del Beccaro, Fox News

The President of the National Border Patrol Council writes, “The historic agreement will end the magnet known as catch-and-release. It will free up valuable Border Patrol resources. It will save American taxpayers billions of dollars that otherwise would have been used to fund the many social programs, medical care, housing, education and incarceration (among other things) for illegal immigrants in the United States. If Mexico follows through on this agreement, the Border Patrol will finally stop being a quasi-social services agency. We will once again become a law enforcement agency. This will allow us to properly focus on the criminal elements and dangerous drugs that flow across our borders.”
Brandon Judd, Fox News

Trump “played high-stakes poker and won a round on border security… [Voters] are a pretty smart bunch. Assume for a moment that they know, generally, that tariffs are a lousy idea in terms of economic growth. Assume as well that they know that tariffs can be an instrument of national power in confrontations unrelated to economic growth…

“Assume that voters know our competition with China is far more than an economic race, but rather a complex geopolitical rivalry that both sides wish to keep contained short of open conflict and that is waged through proxies, cyber-confrontations, intellectual-property battles, freedom-of-the-seas disputes and the relative size and power of our armed forces and those of our allies. In that context, tariffs on Chinese goods are just part of an overall negotiation toward a new normal that is in everyone’s interest. So ‘tariffs bad, free trade good’ is simplistic. ‘Free trade is good and agreed-upon international conventions are required for genuinely free trade and tariffs may be necessary to achieve those conventions’ is accurate. And widely understood.”
Hugh Hewitt, Washington Post

Critics, however, argue, “These changes may reduce the migrant wave from Central America, which reached as many as 1,500 people a day in late May. But the underlying incentive of lax U.S. asylum law will still attract migrants whether or not they have to stay for a time in Mexico. Fixing that loophole is Congress’s job, but Democrats refuse to act. Yet by focusing so much on Mexico as the cause of the border mess, and now declaring diplomatic victory, Mr. Trump is taking the political pressure off Democrats to act on immigration…

“The use of tariffs to achieve non-trade goals is bad policy that won’t stop with immigration… Now that Mr. Trump is using tariffs as an all-purpose weapon, look for others to play the same game. Joe Biden’s climate proposal, released last week, suggests using tariffs against countries that don’t do what he wants on climate change. The danger is that future Presidents will also view tariffs as a diplomatic remedy for whatever ails them. Congress would do well to take back the ‘emergency’ and ‘national security’ blank checks on trade that it has given Presidents over the decades.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

It’s worth noting that “conservative ideas were much more popular when not associated with the Republican party. In Washington State, voters narrowly rejected bringing affirmative action back to state contracting and university admissions…

“In Seattle, the self-proclaimed socialist city-council member appears to have lost her seat to a pro-business challenger. In Colorado, voters gave fiscal conservatives a big win by rejecting letting the state keep any tax revenues above the state spending cap, money that the state Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights currently guarantees as refunds to taxpayers. In Sussex County, N.J., voters approved, by a 2-to-1 margin, a referendum directing the local freeholder board to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Washington, Colorado, New Jersey — notice these are places where Republican candidates have had no luck lately.)”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

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

“After adding in the ultra-millionaire’s tax and factoring in the other capital taxes Warren wants to levy — on financial transactions, on unrealized capital gains, on corporations — we’d be asking every billionaire to hand over more than two-thirds of their total wealth over a 10-year period. If the government actually managed to collect it, their fortunes would rapidly erode — and so would tax collections. The plan might be a good way to smash wealth, but it’s a terrible way to fund the nation’s health-care system…

“If Warren makes it to the White House, and tries to pass a plan, the Congressional Budget Office will eventually attach more reasonable numbers, with more defensible assumptions, sparking an even more spectacular political blowback than the one that greeted Friday’s announcement. Outside of the progressive Twitterati, there isn’t necessarily an enormous constituency for spending $20.5 trillion to herd every American into a national health insurance program; there would be even less support for spending what Warren’s plan would actually cost.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

California restaurant offers free pizza to diners who lock away their phones.

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