Mexican Tariffs Create an Alternate Reality

Mural in Sam Houston Park in Houston, TX

New Orleans       Texas is a red state with a headache.  The cities are becoming bluer and bluer, and a huge number of the F150 pickup driving, cowboy boot wearing folks are Latinos.  A visit to Houston might be educational for the president.  For example, President Trump doesn’t understand that the border stretches all the way into the city without even stopping for gas.

Before a screening of “The Organizer” at the Harris County AFL-CIO building, I pulled into the giant, fenced parking lot across the street with the boldly painted letters spelling Taqueria.  Walking in the largest set of doors, I then realized that I was actually in a bus station.  The space was cavernous and the buses were all going back and forth to Mexico with couples, families, and elderly with their belongings sitting quietly and chatting of the benches.  In the taqueria of the two servers, only one young woman spoke any English, while the other spoke nothing but Spanish, and since I was the only Anglo anywhere nearby, it didn’t pose any problems in this establishment.

A day is coming when Texas and its huge number of voters will once again be the kingmaker and replace Florida as the critical battleground for national politics.  Trump likely could care less how much he alienates the millions in Texas with Mexican roots and relatives, but the future of the Republican Party, and perhaps the Democratic Party as well, will pivot on the fact that Texas is a bilingual and multi-ethnic, multi-racial state.  Heck, there are already two candidates in the Democratic list for president with Texas roots!

Keep this thought in the foreground as we contemplate the alternate reality that Trump is now trying to create of the border and the crisis of tens of thousands of migrant families fleeing Central America and flooding into the United States as he attempts to bully Mexico into creating the dike, and it becomes clear he is the little boy with his small fingers in the hole.  First, there were threats of tariffs, destabilizing the symbiotic human and economic realities of the border.  Pout, pout, whine, whine, he wanted Mexico to somehow solve the problem for the whole continent, which is as ridiculous a proposition as his claim that they would pay for his wall.  Then he swore he had a deal, except all involved on both sides of the table argue that all of the announced agreements had been made months ago.  Then in another twitter storm, he seemed to be claiming that there were secret side agreements which the Mexican foreign minister categorically denies.  This is our president, and this is how we now do foreign policy and trade negotiations.

This isn’t a Trump reality show, it’s a complete farce, but any time in Texas within hundreds of miles of the border quickly demonstrates it’s not a farce, but a tragedy.  And, it gets worse. In his madness, he claims victory from this Mexican mess of his own making, and now claims he’s going to see if he can do the same thing with China.

Via con Dios!

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New Immigration Proposal is All Politics and Bad Policy

New Orleans    There used to be a saying about putting a new proposal in the circular file, meaning of course the trash basket in an office.  The White House equivalent of the circular basket seems to be to assign something to Trump advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.  Once he gets his hands on a policy proposal, the country has nothing to fear but the worse itself.

This time it’s immigration.  The President went to the Rose Garden to present the plan, and it landed like a big shovel of manure on the flower beds.

No “huddled masses” were in this proposal.  Trump said the plan was developed by “our law-enforcement officials,” and that seems even a more dire prospect than saying my son-in-law.

Where presidents from George W. Bush to Barack Obama have tried to craft proposals working with Congress, this proposal’s only similarity to any of the more recent presidential efforts is that it doesn’t reduce the number.  The proposal shifts the emphasis away from reuniting families with existing visa holders and new citizens from the immigrant community to some vaguely defined “merit-based” system.  The “Build America Visa” is going to be for super special foreigners with talent to burn, workers with special skill-based vocations, read that as tech workers, and exceptional students, whatever that might mean.

Maybe you’re asking if this new immigration proposal deals with the ambitions of comprehensive efforts of the past or whether it is as mean-spirited and transactional as it seems, and maybe you’re not?  But if you were, unbelievably this proposal is totally silent on what to do about the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country other than that there continues to be some language about Trump’s Wall Folly.  The proposal is also silent on the Dreamers, where for years there has been an emerging bipartisan consensus that there needs to be path to citizenship and an upgrade and extension on the DACA plan now in effect thanks to Obama, the courts, and the Trump administration’s ineptness in changing it.

Trump claims this latest proposal is in line with other countries, but who knows where that notion comes from since aside from a few authoritarian countries, asylum seekers are still given immigration protection, which is counter to administration’s wishes as well.  Observers also note that the proposal as it stands also pits various interests against each other:  agriculture vs. tech, education against deep pockets, and so forth.

The name alone pretty much ends any guessing game about whether this has any chance of moving forward.  A “Build America Visa” is a campaign plank for Trump’s reelection effort, not a real policy proposal on dealing with immigration or immigrants.  Unsurprisingly, the Democrats saw it for what it was, and it seems to be dead-on-arrival were it to be introduced in Congress.  Not that there’s any such plan.  In the Rose Garden, Trump said he would get this passed after the election when he controls the House, Senate, and is reelected.

Like I said, it’s all politics and no policy.

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