June 10, 2019

US-Mexico Immigration Deal

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

“In 2016, a poll of voters in key battleground states found that 76 percent of voters agreed with the following statement: ‘However we feel about abortion, politicians should not be allowed to deny a woman’s health coverage for it just because she’s poor.’ Sixty-two percent agreedthat ‘when Medicaid covers pregnancy care but withholds coverage for abortion, we’re taking away a low-income woman’s ability to make important personal decisions based on what is best for her circumstances. ’ And a recent poll commissioned by a consortium of women’s health groups found that 9 in 10 women of color believe ‘that a woman being able to control if, when, and how to have children provides both individual and societal benefits.’ If Joe Biden wants to carry the banner of a party that claims to champion, protect and uphold the inalienable rights of black, brown and poor people, he must reverse his support of the Hyde Amendment and follow the lead of his fellow Democratic candidates.”
Danielle Campoamor, Washington Post

Critics of the candidate argue, “Want to defeat Trump? Attack Biden… Many progressives are understandably fearful that attacking the presumptive frontrunner might weaken him and give Trump ammunition for the general election. But challenging Biden’s record is important. For example, his core base of support – older Democrats – needs to know what an unreliable defender of Social Security and Medicare he is. By challenging him on his record, especially in the eyes of older, traditional Democratic voters, progressives could break the myth of Biden’s ‘electability’. (A strange trope given that Biden has tried and failed to be a presidential nominee since the 1980s.)… Anyone angling to be the Democratic nominee should espouse a real progressive agenda – just being ‘anti-Trump’ isn’t enough.”
Bhaskar Sunkara, The Guardian

“For Warren or anyone else to prevent the uniquely depressing experience of a Biden ‘national unity’ campaign, specifically targeted at a tiny cadre of wobbly Trump voters and Jeff Flake-style dissident Republicans, something has to change before next winter. Democratic voters and the media and basically everyone else must get over their skittish, fearful response to the Trump presidency, and their based-on-nothing certainty that nominating a progressive or a woman or a socialist or anybody who isn’t an avuncular white man with a vaguely reassuring demeanor and no discernible ideology will once again lead to disaster.”
Andrew O’Hehir, Salon

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

“If Joe Biden can win his way through the primaries, he’s almost lab-engineered to beat Trump. He doesn’t cause Republican panic, he has the potential to connect with white working-class voters in a way that Hillary couldn’t in 2016, and he has a potential to connect better with black voters than Hillary did… if Biden emerges from [this] crucible, Trump will face a very different challenge than he faced in 2016.”
David French, National Review

A libertarian's take

“The relevant question is not the nationality of a source offering ‘oppo research’ but the accuracy and relevance of the information. Another consideration is whether the information was obtained illegally—by hacking emails, for example. While the Supreme Court has said people have a First Amendment right to share illegally obtained information if they were not involved in the lawbreaking (something that news organizations frequently do), you might reasonably argue that they should also report such crimes when they become aware of them, which may be what Trump had in mind when he said he might contact the FBI ‘if I thought there was something wrong.’”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

On the bright side...

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

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