The White House has unveiled a set of immigration policies aimed at toughening up the existing laws and closing legal loopholes. The list envisions transforming the Green Card system, beefing up border security and facilitating deportations.
The measures on the list released by the White House late Sunday are necessary to compensate for damages that would be inflicted by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, if it is to stay intact, according to White House legislative affairs director Marc Short.
“These priorities are essential to mitigate the legal and economic consequences of any grants or status to DACA recipients,” Short said.
The plan calls for funds for the construction of the wall along the border with Mexico and would allow the deportation of unaccompanied children arriving illegally in the US, impose more rigorous checks on asylum applicants, make it harder for gang members to sneak into the US and ensure swift removal of all immigration offenders, with a particular focus on visa overstayers. The latter are considered the main source of illegal immigrants in the US, according to the report by Center for Migration Studies.
The legislation, if passed, would also see a crackdown on sanctuary cities, which would be banned from receiving any grants provided the US Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.
The number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers will rise by 10,000, in addition to the current 20,000, and an extra 300 federal prosecutors will be hired to tackle the immigration challenge, according to the document, which calls the existing number of staffers “grossly inadequate.”
‘Anathema to Dreamers’
The plan did not sit well with the Democrats, who slammed it for being extremely severe on immigrants and not allowing any room for compromise.
“The administration can’t be serious about compromise or helping the Dreamers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said in a joint statement, calling the demands “far beyond what is reasonable.”
The term “Dreamers” refers to immigrants who were brought to the US illegally as children.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) decried the newly-unveiled immigration principles as “draconian and anti-immigrant.”
Last month, Trump announced his intent to rescind DACA by March 2018, while giving lawmakers six months to pass a law that would regulate the status of its recipients – up to 800,000 people who were granted protection from deportation by President Barack Obama’s executive action in 2012.
Trump’s decision was met with protests, with several Democratic-led states threatening to sue the president.
WASHINGTON — President Trump embraced a proposal on Wednesday to slash legal immigration to the United States in half within a decade by sharply curtailing the ability of American citizens and legal residents to bring family members into the country.
The plan would enact the most far-reaching changes to the system of legal immigration in decades and represents the president’s latest effort to stem the flow of newcomers to the United States. Since taking office, he has barred many visitors from select Muslim-majority countries, limited the influx of refugees, increased immigration arrests and pressed to build a wall along the southern border.
In asking Congress to curb legal immigration, Mr. Trump intensified a debate about national identity, economic growth, worker fairness and American values that animated his campaign last year. Critics said the proposal would undercut the fundamental vision of the United States as a haven for the poor and huddled masses, while the president and his allies said the country had taken in too many low-skilled immigrants for too long to the detriment of American workers.
“This legislation will not only restore our competitive edge in the 21st century, but it will restore the sacred bonds of trust between America and its citizens,” Mr. Trump said at a White House event alongside two Republican senators sponsoring the bill. “This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and that puts America first.”
In throwing his weight behind a bill, Mr. Trump added one more long-odds priority to a legislative agenda already packed with them in the wake of the defeat of legislation to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care program. The president has already vowed to overhaul the tax code and rebuild the nation’s roads, airports and other infrastructure.
But by endorsing legal immigration cuts, a move he has long supported, Mr. Trump returned to a theme that has defined his short political career and excites his conservative base at a time when his poll numbers continue to sink. Just 33 percent of Americans approved of his performance in the latest Quinnipiac University survey, the lowest rating of his presidency, and down from 40 percent a month ago.
Democrats and some Republicans quickly criticized the move. “Instead of catching criminals, Trump wants to tear apart communities and punish immigrant families that are making valuable contributions to our economy,” said Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “That’s not what America stands for.”
The bill, sponsored by Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, would institute a merit-based system to determine who is admitted to the country and granted legal residency green cards, favoring applicants based on skills, education and language ability rather than relations with people already here. The proposal revives an idea included in broader immigration legislation supported by President George W. Bush that died in 2007.
More than one million people are granted legal residency each year, and the proposal would reduce that by 41 percent in its first year and 50 percent by its 10th year, according to projections cited by its sponsors. The reductions would come largely from those brought in through family connections. The number of immigrants granted legal residency on the basis of job skills, about 140,000, would remain roughly the same.
Under the current system, most legal immigrants are admitted to the United States based on family ties. American citizens can sponsor spouses, parents and minor children for an unrestricted number of visas, while siblings and adult children are given preferences for a limited number of visas available to them. Legal permanent residents holding green cards can also sponsor spouses and children.
In 2014, 64 percent of immigrants admitted with legal residency were immediate relatives of American citizens or sponsored by family members. Just 15 percent entered through employment-based preferences, according to the Migration Policy Institute, an independent research organization. But that does not mean that those who came in on family ties were necessarily low skilled or uneducated.
The legislation would award points based on education, ability to speak English, high-paying job offers, age, record of achievement and entrepreneurial initiative. But while it would still allow spouses and minor children of Americans and legal residents to come in, it would eliminate preferences for other relatives, like siblings and adult children. The bill would create a renewable temporary visa for older-adult parents who come for caretaking purposes.
The legislation would limit refugees offered permanent residency to 50,000 a year and eliminate a diversity visa lottery that the sponsors said does not promote diversity. The senators said their bill was meant to emulate systems in Canada and Australia.
The projections cited by the sponsors said legal immigration would decrease to 637,960 after a year and to 539,958 after a decade.
“Our current system does not work,” Mr. Perdue said. “It keeps America from being competitive and it does not meet the needs of our economy today.”
Mr. Cotton said low-skilled immigrants pushed down wages for those who worked with their hands. “For some people, they may think that that’s a symbol of America’s virtue and generosity,” he said. “I think it’s a symbol that we’re not committed to working-class Americans, and we need to change that.”
But Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, noted that agriculture and tourism were his state’s top two industries. “If this proposal were to become law, it would be devastating to our state’s economy, which relies on this immigrant work force,” he said. “Hotels, restaurants, golf courses and farmers,” he added, “will tell you this proposal to cut legal immigration in half would put their business in peril.”
Cutting legal immigration would make it harder for Mr. Trump to reach the stronger economic growth that he has promised. Bringing in more workers, especially during a time of low unemployment, increases the size of an economy. Critics said the plan would result in labor shortages, especially in lower-wage jobs that many Americans do not want.
The National Immigration Forum, an advocacy group, said the country was already facing a work force gap of 7.5 million jobs by 2020. “Cutting legal immigration for the sake of cutting immigration would cause irreparable harm to the American worker and their family,” said Ali Noorani, the group’s executive director.
Surveys show most Americans believe legal immigration benefits the country. In a Gallup poll in January, 41 percent of Americans were satisfied with the overall level of immigration, 11 percentage points higher than the year before and the highest since the question was first asked in 2001. Still, 53 percent of Americans remained dissatisfied.
The plan endorsed by Mr. Trump generated a fiery exchange at the White House briefing when Stephen Miller, the president’s policy adviser and a longtime advocate of immigration limits, defended the proposal. Pressed for statistics to back up claims that immigration was costing Americans jobs, he cited several studies that have been debated by experts.
“But let’s also use common sense here, folks,” Mr. Miller said. “At the end of the day, why do special interests want to bring in more low-skill workers?”
He rejected the argument that immigration policy should also be based on compassion. “Maybe it’s time we had compassion for American workers,” he said.
When a reporter read him some of the words from the Statue of Liberty — “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” — Mr. Miller dismissed them. “The poem that you’re referring to was added later,” he said. “It’s not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty.”
He noted that in 1970, the United States allowed in only a third as many legal immigrants as it now does: “Was that violating or not violating the Statue of Liberty law of the land?”
Correction: August 2, 2017
An earlier version of this article misstated part of President Trump’s effort to stem the flow of immigrants into the United States. He has increased immigration arrests, not deportations.
Non-EU migrants could find it harder to enter Britain under policies outlined in a pre-election manifesto drafted by the prime minister’s Conservatives. The document is being published ahead of a June 8 snap election.
British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday urged voters to “strengthen my hand” in Brexit talks, as she unveiled the Conservative manifesto. May reiterated that Britain would be leaving the European single market and the customs union and warned of “tricky battles” over the next two years as the country negotiates its departure from the EU.
“Every vote for me and my team will strengthen my hand in the negotiations to come,” May said at the launch in Halifax in northern England, calling it “a manifesto to see us through Brexit and beyond.”
“If we fail, the consequences for Britain and for the economic security of ordinary working people will be dire. If we succeed, the opportunities ahead of us are great,” May said, as dozens of anti-austerity campaigners and trade unionists rallied outside.
“It is time to put the old tribal politics behind us and to come together in the national interest, united in our desire to make a success of Brexit,” May said.
Coventry’s Brexit woes
Mainstream British media said on Wednesday that May would pitch immigration strictures and trim certain welfare benefits for pensioners when she unveiled her pledges later Thursday for Britain’s snap June 8 election.
Employers seeking non-EU workers for skilled jobs would face a doubling of the so-called skills charge and migrant workers would be asked to pay more into the National Health Service, according to the BBC.
The extra revenue gathered would flow into skills training for British workers.
The skills charge sees companies fined when they employ migrants from outside the EU.
The BBC said May is also planning to implement a reduction of immigration from EU nations, once Britain has finalized its divorce from the bloc.
That amounted to the “end of freedom of movement, ” a key tenet of open-borders Europe, said the BBC, quoting an unnamed source.
Addressing a G20 trade union meeting in Berlin on Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Britain that ending free movement of people “will have its price.”
Merkel said London should not attempt to stipulate “there’s a cap of 100,000 or 200,000 EU citizens, more aren’t allowed into Britain – perhaps researchers as well, but no others, please.”
WHO’S WHO IN THE UK SNAP ELECTION
May calls voters to the polls
On April 18, British Prime Minister Theresa May called for an early general election, bumping it up from 2020. British voters are set to cast their ballots for the House of Commons’ 650 seats on June 8. Brexit will likely dominate the campaign agenda, with many perceiving the election as a vote on May’s Brexit leadership.
May said she would also tighten laws on company takeovers and would ensure any foreign group buying important infrastructure did not undermine security or essential services if she wins next month’s election.
“We will require bidders to be clear about their intentions from the outset of the bid process; that all promises and undertakings made in the course of takeover bids can be legally enforced afterwards; and that the government can require a bid to be paused to allow greater scrutiny,” the Conservative Party said in its election policy document on Thursday.
May also said that when the current triple lock system governing the rates of state pensions expires in 2020, a new double lock system will be introduced instead. She said the double lock would mean pensions would rise in line with earnings or inflation, whichever was highest.
May said now was not the time for another Scottish independence referendum and one should not take place until the Brexit process has played out.
May added that she would increase spending on the state-run National Health Service by at least 8 billion pounds over the next five years and hike the migrant health surcharge. The Conservative election policy document also said it would prioritize the issue of the 140,000 nationals from other EU countries who work in the health system.
Writing in The Sun newspaper, May said she was “determined to cut the cost of living for ordinary working families, keep taxes low and to intervene when markets are not working as they should.”
The Telegraph newspaper said May would also stick to the conservative government’s pledge to cut the corporation tax to 17 percent by 2020.
BREXIT: WHAT LIES AHEAD?
What is Article 50?
Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon gives any existing member of the European Union the right to quit unilaterally and outlines the procedure for doing so. It gives the state concerned two years to negotiate a deal for its exit. Once Article 50 is triggered, it cannot be stopped, except by the unanimous consent of all member states.
People who currently receive free care in their home would be charged more, and funding for universal free school lunches for young children would be diverted to other educational tasks.
The ruling Conservative Party received 4.1 million pounds ($5.35 million) of donations in the first week of the campaign, the watchdog Electoral Commission said on Thursday. That compares to 2.7 million pounds for the main opposition Labour Party.
Merkel warns UK cap on EU immigration post-Brexit would have ‘its price’
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned of consequences in case Britain restricted EU immigration. Her comment came as Nigel Farage delivered his own warning to the EU Parliament. (17.05.2017)
UK parliament dissolves ahead of snap elections
The British Parliament has officially dissolved – 25 working days before upcoming general elections on June 8. Negotiations for the UK to leave the European Union are scheduled to begin after the poll. (03.05.2017)
UK’s Labour shedding traditional voters
Theresa May says Britain needs strong leadership in the Brexit negotiations – a message resonating strongly with many Labour voters. Abigail Frymann Rouch traveled to various parts of the UK to examine Labour’s malaise. (13.05.2017)
EU hikes growth outlook, but warns of risks
The European Union has increased its forecast for economic growth in the 28-nation bloc, saying the recovery was gaining strength despite the elevated uncertainties of Brexit and protectionist trade policies. (11.05.2017)
Farage: ‘We’ve changed British history’
With the battle to leave the EU won and Brexit negotiations underway, can UKIP convince voters they’re still relevant? Tim Sebastian meets its former leader and Brexit architect Nigel Farage. (03.05.2017)
Conservatives gain in UK local elections ahead of June parliamentary poll
Ahead of general elections in June, the ruling Conservatives have seen good results in votes for local councilors and new mayors. PM Theresa May is seeking a stronger hand for Brexit negotiations with the EU. (05.05.2017)
Her everyday work involves helping deported immigrants at the US-Mexico border. Jana Echterhoff, a volunteer, cannot get the stories of the stranded migrants out of her head. Alexandra von Nahmen reports from Nogales.
Early in the morning, people are already lining up in front of the soup kitchen door. More and more people are gathering in front of the nondescript building located only a few hundred meters away from the US border crossing in the Mexican city of Nogales. Jana Echterhoff is wearing a yellow apron with her name stitched on it. She sweeps a strand of hair out of her face. “Almost time to begin,” says the volunteer from Germany.
The door opens and the room quickly fills up. This time, most of the people there are young men who look exhausted and battered. Some of them are wearing torn pieces of clothing and there are only few women among them.
Ever since 2008, the Catholic Kino Border Initiative (KBI), named after the Italian Jesuit Eusebio Kino, has been helping migrants who have been deported from the USA to Mexico because they have tried to cross the border illegally. Echterhoff helps hand out the breakfast consisting of beans, rice and meat.
Helper Jana Echterhoff with Jesuit priest Sean Carroll in the reception area for immigrants
Dangerous journey through the desert
Echterhoff stops at a table and listens. She learned Spanish at school and her past internships sparked her interest for Latin America. “I was interested in the topic of migration. Children of immigrant families are normal part of the place where I grew up,” says the 22-year-old who comes from the Ruhr region in western Germany.
Currently enrolled in the Globalization and Development Studies program at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, she is collecting data in Nogales for her master’s thesis. What happens to the immigrants after they’ve been deported from the USA? How does the Catholic Church help them? Those are all questions that interest the German university student.
“I wanted to go the USA to earn money. I want to help my mother,” explains 27-year-old Javier from Honduras. With the help of a smuggler, he embarked on the dangerous journey through the Sonoran Desert. He paid hundreds of dollars. Anyone who smuggles drugs does not have to pay for the trip but that was out of the question for him, said Javier. In the end, he was caught by US border patrol guards and deported.
Echterhoff hears stories like this every day. “Most people who come here are in bad shape. Many of them are injured in the desert, especially their feet,” says the German student. Also, they are malnourished when they are released from detention centers.
She anxiously turns to a teenager who is doubling over in pain. “He claims that an American border patrol guard beat him with a baton,” says Echterhoff. The teenager is bandaged around his waist. A volunteer tells him, “You have to go to the hospital,” but the boy doesn’t seem to really be listening.
Kino Border Initiative provides warm meals, medical assistance and legal aid. “Our most important tasks are listening to people and getting them back in shape,” says Sean Carroll, the Jesuit priest who manages the project that is run on both sides of the border – in Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico.
Echterhoff agrees with him. “We try to give them back dignity and respect. Authorities treat them like dangerous criminals even though they are in dire need of help.” She adds that one cannot imagine what that does to a person.
Texans at border divided on Mexico ‘wall’
She recalls an encounter with a Mexican woman who – after living in the US as an undocumented worker for 15 years – was deported because she parked her car illegally and did not pay the fine on time. Ever since Donald Trump took office, Echterhoff has been seeing cases like these more frequently in Nogales. The US government vowed to deport undocumented immigrants if they committed crimes; however, the magnitude of the offense seems to play no role.
“The Mexican woman was completely distraught,” recalls Echterhoff. “She had tears in her eyes when she told me that she did not know what happened to her children, ages 8 and 12. They stayed behind in the USA and had the right to live there because they were born there.” The authorities did not respond to her queries. Only weeks later did the mother manage to get her children out. “The human tragedies are heartbreaking,” says Jana Echterhoff.
Families torn apart: US citizen Lace Rodriguez re-enters the USA after visiting her husband, who was deported to Mexico
Nogales – a divided city
In May, her three-month stint in the Mexican city of Nogales comes to an end. She says the first-hand experience of day-to-day life here has been dramatic. She is skeptical about Trump’s harsh immigration policy, as she is about the construction of a “protective wall” along the US-Mexico border. The twin cities of Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico are already separated by a border fence.
“When I walk along the fence and see the crosses or photos that have been put up there, it reminds me of the wall that stood in Germany,” says Echterhoff. She does not believe that new barriers will keep people from trying to cross the border. She says that a wall would only make the situation worse in Nogales; she has no doubt about it.
Who will build Trump’s long-promised border wall?
A fence won’t do; it has to be a wall: As of Monday, firms can bid on the huge project. Even though its benefits are disputed and its contract volume unsure, there is much interest in building the US border wall. (05.03.2017)
German firms back off from building Trump’s border wall
Two German firms are among the 700 listed as showing interest in building Donald Trump’s wall on the Mexican border. One has already distanced itself from the project – while the other says it is protesting against it. (30.03.2017)
Mexico says Trump won’t see a peso for his border wall
Mexico has threatened retaliation if the US imposes a border tax to pay for Donald Trump’s wall. The new president says his plans are “way, way, way ahead of schedule.” (25.02.2017)
Opinion: Mexicans and Americans must stand up to Trump
The US president has launched his latest reality show: “Donald Trump, Mexico and the Wall.” People in both countries must join forces to oppose Trump’s latest monument to himself, DW’s Claudia Herrera-Pahl writes. (28.01.2017)
Berlin mayor Michael Müller tells Donald Trump: ‘Don’t build this wall!’
Berlin’s mayor has turned Reagan’s famous Cold War plea to Gorbachev to tear the wall down into a plea for Trump not to build one. A proposed wall along the US-Mexico border has strained bilateral relations. (28.01.2017)
Nigeria’s government is worried about clandestine migration. Unlike in Europe, the issue is not people coming in, but Nigerians leaving the country. New rules are being enacted to solve the problem.
On Monday, the Nigerian government presented the “Immigration Regulation 2017” in Abuja. It makes it easier for businessmen to visit the country, strengthens the defense of borders against terrorism and aims for better registration of immigrants. But both the title and the packaging hide the fact that this is far from being only about immigration. New rules for emigration are just as central to the project. To quote Nigerian Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazu: “It is an adjustment to the dynamics of modern-day’s migration realities.”
Mohammed Babandede, comptroller general of the Nigerian Immigration Service, is less inclined to mince words. “Nigeria today demonstrated it is committed to the fight against the smuggling of migrants. We are aware that a lot of our citizens are dying in the desert and the sea,” he said.
The government believes that only harsh measures will stop the dying. Accordingly, the new regulations include severe punishment for illegal migration. The old immigration law from 1963 established only modest fines of less than one euro ($1.08). New fines for infractions can go up to 3,000 euros ($2,800). Prison sentences for serious violations of the immigration law will be much longer than in the past.
Nigeria’s Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazau (right) and Comptroller General Mohammed Babandede presented Nigeria’s new migration policy in Abuja
Nigeria is one of the main countries of origin of illegal migration. In the last year alone, around 30,000 undocumented Nigerians crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. Hundreds die each year attempting to reach the continent. Human trafficking has tarnished Nigeria’s reputation around the globe. Current estimates point to more than 10,000 Nigerian women forced to prostitute themselves in Europe. Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari believes these numbers are a blight on his country’s reputation and has called for a coordinated strategy to fight smugglers and human traffickers.
The right of free movement
Babandede has promised to improve cooperation with Niger and other neighboring states which Nigerian emigrants cross on their way to Europe.
“If we have evidence that a migrant is planning to travel beyond Niger, we can stop him,” Babandede said.
That is the kind of measure rejected by Enira Kdrzalic, Nigeria’s chief of mission of the International Organization of Migration (IOM).
“Every single person has a right of free movement,” she told DW. That applies to all the citizens of the Economic Community of West
Nigeria’s neighbor Niger is the main transit country for West African refugees
African States (ECOWAS), Kdrzalic added, before conceding that countries like Nigeria are under heavy pressure due to climbing numbers of undocumented migrants.
The European Union is seeking assurances from African states that they will take measures to stop mass migration. Countries willing to cooperate with Europe by joining so-called “migration partnerships” will be rewarded with substantial financial aid and investments. Those who refuse will face sanctions. The EU has put aside billions of euros to finance the partnerships in coming years.
Criminals will find a way
Enira Kdrzalic from the IOM believes that the failure to stop irregular emigration in Nigeria is not due to a lack of political will. Mostly, continued violations of the rules are a result of deficits in the country’s administration.
“Many agencies are operating in parallel. Much action is needed to ensure the effectiveness and coordination of their activities to avoid duplications,” Kdrzalic said.
Immigration head Babandede agreed that the new rules will not be enough if the job is not done properly.
“There must be a lot of training, attitude change and punishment of officials who compromise at the borders,” he said.
But Babandede also said that Europe must assume part of the responsibility. He called for the quick improvement of European laws regulating legal immigration for Nigerians.
“If you don’t create the opportunity for regular migration, criminal groups will provide those opportunities,” Babandede said.
Italy: Nigerian women forced into prostitution
EU migrant fund for Africa elicits skepticism
Will the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, launched at the Valletta Summit on Migration, deter people like Gambian migrant Bubacarr Jallow from seeking a more prosperous life in Europe? Migration experts think not. (16.11.2015)
Funds to halt African migration ‘will benefit’ European companies
Germany’s TAZ newspaper claims that European industrial and arms companies will be among the beneficiaries of plans to help Africa fight migration. (16.12.2016)
UN reports 71 percent of migrants bound for Europe subject to trafficking, exploitation
The International Organization for Migration has found that 71 percent of migrants travelling from North Africa to Europe have experienced exploitation and trafficking. The results are based on 9,000 survey responses. (18.10.2016)
Nigerian FM: ‘get our house in order’
In an exclusive interview, Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama spoke to DW about migration, corruption, and the current tension in the Niger Delta. (14.06.2016)
I continue to worry about Steve Bannon. I see him in the White House photos, but he never has that sprightly Prince of Darkness gleam in his eye anymore.
His governing philosophy is being completely gutted by the mice around him. He seems to have a big influence on Trump speeches but zero influence on recent Trump policies. I’m beginning to fear that he’s spending his days sitting along the wall in the Roosevelt Room morosely playing one of those Risk-style global empire video games on his smartphone.
Back in the good old days — like two months ago — it was fun to watch Bannon operate. He was the guy with a coherent governing philosophy. He seemed to have realized that the two major party establishments had abandoned the working class. He also seemed to have realized that the 21st-century political debate is not big versus small government, it’s open versus closed.
Bannon had the opportunity to realign American politics around the social, cultural and economic concerns of the working class. Erect barriers to keep out aliens from abroad, and shift money from the rich to the working class to create economic security at home.
It was easy to see the Trump agenda that would flow from this philosophy: Close off trade and immigration. Fund a jobs-creating infrastructure program. Reverse the Republican desire to reform and reduce entitlements. Increase funding on all sorts of programs that benefit working-class voters in places like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Many of us wouldn’t have liked that agenda — the trade and immigration parts — but at least it would have helped the people who are being pummeled by this economy.
But Bannonesque populism is being abandoned. The infrastructure and jobs plan is being put off until next year (which is to say never). Meanwhile, the Trump administration has agreed with Paul Ryan’s crazy plan to do health care first.
Moths show greater resistance to flame than American politicians do to health care reform. And sure enough it’s become a poisonous morass for the entire party, and a complete distraction from the populist project.
Worse, the Ryan health care plan punishes the very people Trump and Bannon had vowed to help. It would raise premiums by as much as 25 percent on people between 50 and 64, one core of the Trump voter base. It would completely hammer working-class voters whose incomes put them just above the Medicaid threshold.
Sign Up for the Opinion Today Newsletter
Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, the Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world.
Receive occasional updates and special offers for The New York Times’s products and services.
The Trump budget is an even more devastating assault on Bannon-style populism. It eliminates or cuts organizations like the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative that are important to people from Tennessee and West Virginia up through Ohio and Michigan. It cuts job-training and road-building programs. It does almost nothing to help expand opportunity for the working class and almost everything to serve defense contractors and the national security state.
Why is Bannonism being abandoned? One possibility is that there just aren’t enough Trumpians in the world to staff an administration, so Trump and Bannon have filled their apparatus with old guard Republicans who continue to go about their jobs in old guard pseudo-libertarian ways.
The second possibility, raised by Rich Lowry in Politico, is that the Republican sweep of 2016 was won on separate tracks. Trump won on populism, but congressional Republicans won on the standard cut-government script. The congressional Republicans are better prepared, and so their plans are crowding out anything Bannon might have contemplated.
The third possibility is that Donald Trump doesn’t really care about domestic policy; he mostly cares about testosterone.
He wants to cut any part of government that may seem soft and nurturing, like poverty programs. He wants to cut any program that might seem emotional and airy-fairy, like the National Endowment for the Arts. He wants to cut any program that might seem smart and nerdy, like the National Institutes of Health.
But he wants to increase funding for every program that seems manly, hard, muscular and ripped, like the military and armed antiterrorism programs.
Indeed, the Trump budget looks less like a political philosophy and more like a sexual fantasy. It lavishes attention on every aspect of hard power and slashes away at anything that isn’t.
The Trump health care and budget plans will be harsh on the poor, which we expected. But they’ll also be harsh on the working class, which we didn’t.
We’re ending up with the worst of the new guard Trumpian populists and the old guard Republican libertarians. We’re building walls to close off the world while also shifting wealth from the poor to the rich.
When these two plans fail, which seems very likely, there’s going to be a holy war between the White House and Capitol Hill. I don’t have high hopes for what’s going to emerge from that war, but it would be nice if the people who voted for Trump got economic support, not punishment.
For that, there’s one immediate recipe: Unleash Steve Bannon!
Economists agree that immigration is good for the economy
Immigration is a source of labor-force growth, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said recently
The right-leaning Cato Institute says the deportation of “Dreamers” could cost $60 billion
Trump’s other policies could hurt US workers by making businesses less competitive
Economists disagree on a lot of issues. Immigration is not one of them.
Almost unequivocally, experts from the left and the right ends of the political spectrum see immigration as a net benefit to the economy. They cite everything from population growth to increased tax receipts to diversity of people and ideas.
That’s why it is surprising to see Wall Street analysts, who are rather intensely focused at the prospect of corporate tax cuts from President Donald Trump, largely ignore the clearly detrimental impact his immediate immigration orders are already having on economic growth.
During her congressional testimony on February 15, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen was not shy about offering a broad retort to immigration restrictions. Trump’s plans include blanket travel bans on citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations as well as orders to increase deportations at the Mexican border with still-shifting guidelines.
“Labor-force growth has been slowing in the United States,” Yellen said. “It’s one of several reasons, along with slow productivity growth, for the fact that our economy has been growing at a slow pace. Immigration has been an important source of labor-force growth. So slowing the pace of immigration probably would slow the growth rate of the economy.”
Her comments are striking because Yellen is usually careful not to discuss topics outside her monetary policy and regulation remit, lest her remarks be construed as political. But the Ph.D. economist and career central banker has a strong, bipartisan body of work to stand on.
“Because capital will adjust downward to a reduction in labor — for example, farmers will scrap or sell excess equipment per remaining worker — the long-run effects are larger and amount to two-thirds of the decline experienced during the Great Recession,” the CAP report says. “Removing 7 million unauthorized workers would reduce national employment by an amount similar to that experienced during the Great Recession.”
Over 10 years, US output will have fallen $4.7 trillion short of what it might otherwise have been, CAP says. For comparison, US gross domestic product, the nation’s total spending on goods and services, stood at $18.6 trillion at the end of 2016.
On the other side of the political spectrum, here’s how the libertarian Cato Institute describes the dangers of Trump’s immigration policies, which advocates fear will eventually encompass immigrants protected under President Barack Obama’s “Dreamers” program.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known better as DACA, gives certain rights, including work permits, to immigrants living in the US illegally who were brought to the US as children.
Cato estimates the budget drag from immediately deporting the approximately 750,000 people protected by DACA would be over $60 billion for the federal government. The think tank foresees a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade from the elimination of this program alone, even though it represents just a sliver of the estimated 11 million people living in the US illegally whose fates are now increasingly uncertain. Keep in mind that figure has been stable for several years, contradicting Trump’s suggestion that this is a sudden and pressing problem.
“Donald Trump has proposed eliminating or severely modifying the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program,” says Neal McCluskey, the director of Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom. “Many Americans believe that the presence of unauthorized immigrants is harmful to the economy and would like to see steps taken to reduce their presence. However, a repeal or rollback of DACA would harm the economy and cost the US government a significant amount of lost tax revenue.”
But the cost of restricting immigration goes beyond the expense of deporting people on a greater scale.
Immigrants are more likely than native-born Americans to start a business. Some 24.3% of US engineering and technology startup companies and 43.9% of those based in Silicon Valley in recent years were founded by immigrants, according to a 2012 study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Local economies also tend to derive a perceptible boost from bursts of immigration. Businesses near the border stand to lose the most, and some communities — like Rutland, Vermont — are even making refugee resettlement part of their economic policy. The logic is simple enough: Refugees will reverse the population drain on the town as its younger residents move away and its older residents phase out of the workforce.
Some US real-estate markets, as Trump would well know, are also dependent on foreign demand. Even if his immigration policies don’t target these specific buyers, the hostility toward outsiders is turning them away.
Fear surrounding Trump’s aggressive anti-immigrant positions is already depressing the US real-estate market, Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson told Bloomberg television on Thursday, citing the large sums invested in the market from foreign buyers who had become reluctant to own property in the US.
Trump’s policy proposals thus far are also likely to hurt the constituency he promised to help: voters in economically depressed manufacturing and farming regions.
On manufacturing, Trump’s bluster about striking major deals with specific firms like Carrier is a sideshow. The number of jobs created in each instance is paltry, but pressure to keep jobs in the US will raise costs for US firms.
That makes them less competitive, actually endangering the well-paying jobs that do remain in the US and speeding up the automation of industries that can turn to robots instead of foreign labor.
Many technology firms, a major source of American corporate strength, are actively fighting Trump’s immigration measures for concern they will narrow the pool of available talent. In farming, Trump’s popularity is already withering, because many agricultural businesses were in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement with 11 other nations including Japan, Canada, and Mexico. The construction industry, heavily reliant on undocumented labor, could suffer worker shortages if Trump’s measures are strictly enforced.
Whether the federal government has the resources to process all these deportations is another major uncertainty hanging over the proposed program.
Beyond the financial effects, it would be callous to ignore the tremendous human toll that extreme uncertainty about a more militant anti-immigration policy puts on families that are potentially affected by them. Many of those living in the US illegally have been in the country for decades, sometimes generations. They have American children and deep cultural and professional ties to the US. Wide-ranging legal challenges to Trump’s policies only deepen the foreboding sense of a looming unknown.
The fear factor that begins with Mexicans and other Latin-American immigrants is already sending a chill through other communities, particularly those made up of Muslims, who have faced increased discrimination since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
In this case, politics trumps economics, in spades. The reality-TV host turned president is merely pandering to the very base, which includes a significant racist element, that helped launch his campaign. Recall that his opening salvo for the 2016 election was a baseless, broad-brush attack on Mexico in which he mentioned the country 13 times, saying those who cross the southern border are “bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime — they’re rapists.”