The Watcher said on January 25, After Shutdown Retreat, Trump Has Three Weeks To Save His Presidency. Maybe He Will. So did Trump save himself with his actions Friday? Our answer: a resounding Maybe.
But we should note that some patriots are arguing the most controversial “poison pill” concessions are not as bad as they appear at first sight—for example on the alleged veto power over wall construction by a handful of border counties. Similarly, some Twitter users have pointed out that the stipulations regarding sponsors of illegal alien minors would not cover people clearly associated with human trafficking and would not effectively hinder Homeland Security’s power to deport whoever deems fit for deportation. And the cap on beds in immigration detention (42,520) is, in fact, the current cap—not a reduction. The bill also gives Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) the ability to appropriate money from other agencies if the number of detainees exceeds the number of beds; and allows ICE to obtain the resources to detain up to 58,000 migrants if necessary. [The Shutdown Deal Includes More Ice Detention Beds. That Doesn't Mean Mattresses, by Jack Herrera, Pacific Standard, February 14, 2019]
Interestingly, a particularly detailed argument for immigration patriot moderation about this bill comes from the much-persecuted hard-right podcast Fash The Nation. [FTN 190: Flight 93 Declaration, February 17, 2019]
The funding bill (text here) is scandalously long and the ridiculous fact is we will have to see how these and other stipulations play out. But—apart from the fact that the bill is not an immigration moratorium, which is of course what it should be—it seems premature to blackpill over it.
And, above all, Trump did finally declare a national emergency that re-allocates billions to the wall—the dramatic move that he absolutely had to make.
What is being overlooked here: the amount of Trump obtained for the wall. The spending bill gave him $1.375 billion for “border security.”
Non-emergency executive actions will contribute a combined $3.101 billion for the wall. The emergency declaration frees up an additional $3.6 billion for the wall. [A glass quarter-full reading of Trump's border deal, by Byron York, Washington Examiner, February 15, 2019]
So Trump potentially has $8 billion for wall construction, depending on how well his court battles turn out. This is a serious win and more than the $5.7 billion he requested in exchange for the deportation protection of hundreds of thousands of migrants.
Rhetorically, the president nearly did everything immigration patriots expected him to do. His Friday press conference effectively highlighted the dangers of illegal immigrants and forced journalists to acknowledge the pain of Angel Moms. [After Trump Confrontation, Angel Moms Force CNN’s Acosta to Report on Them, by Pam Key, Breitbart, February 15, 2019]
It would have been ideal if Trump had smarter Republicans negotiating the budget deal and made them cut out the poison pills. But that’s the past. What’s next for Trump on immigration?
The good news: it is highly unlikely he will consider a grand Amnesty. It seems Trump knows it would not play well with his base. And Democrats have no desire to make a deal with Trump as 2020 approaches. They would prefer to portray Trump as a racist xenophobe rather than let him create millions of Democratic voters. Trump’s closest allies in Congress, such as Sen. Tom Cotton and House Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows, are no fans of Amnesty. He would risk a major rupture in his own party right when he needs to unify the GOP for the presidential election.
The bad news: the President may increase immigration via more guest worker visas.
Trump raised eyebrows when he called for more immigrants during his State of the Union address:
Legal immigrants enrich our nation and strengthen our society in countless ways. I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.
“In the largest numbers ever” was ad-libbed. Trump ad-libs for exaggeration all the time, so at first it seemed that the president was just saying the line for added effect;. But the very next day after the State of the Union, Trump reiterated his support for increasing immigration to reporters:
“[W]e need people in our country because our unemployment numbers are so low, and we have massive numbers of companies coming back into our country,” the president told reporters. He did add that these immigrants had to come to the country “legally.”
['We need people': Donald Trump says he wants to see more legal immigration in U.S., by Michael Collins and Alan Gomez, USA Today, February 6, 2019]
Trump later repeated the same line about “needing” more immigrants for the job market [Trump Suggests Increasing Legal Immigration at Expense of U.S. Workers, by John Binder, Breitbart, February 12, 2019]
Following these statements, the White House told reporters the administration was focused on rewarding “high-skilled” immigrants. And U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director L. Francis Cissna told business leaders that the administration might ease regulations for L-1 visas, which allows companies to transfer professionals from a foreign office to America. The USCIS director also said he was sympathetic to corporate America’s desire to institute an immigration policy that favored their demands—although he did maintain that USCIS’s primary goal was protecting American workers [Trump Signals Shift on Legal Immigration, by Louise Radnofsky, The Wall Street Journal, February 10, 2019]
Prominent congressional Republicans such as Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Tom Cotton have sponsored a bill that would scrap per-country caps on employment-based immigration, such as H-1b visas. [Mike Lee, Kamala Harris Join Forces to Lift Immigration Country Caps, by Bridget Johnson, PJ Media, February 7, 2019].
The point of country caps is to prevent any one country from dominating the skilled immigration pool. Indian immigrants, in particular, would like to eliminate that so more nationals from the subcontinent can take white-collar jobs in the U.S. and obtain citizenship. This proposal is also supported by liberal Big Tech giants who place no value on hiring American workers and desperately want cheap foreign labor. [GOP Senator Pairs Up with Indian Outsourcing Lobby for Trump’s SOTU, by John Binder, Breitbart, February 5, 2019]
But this proposal would harm American workers and serve an immigrant constituency that votes overwhelmingly Democrat. [New survey shows overwhelming antipathy toward President Donald Trump, by Aziz Haniffa, India Today, October 15, 2018]. Only the Republican Establishment would be dumb enough to support it.
The saddest part: Tom Cotton, a supposed immigration patriot, is on board. This is the senator who spearheaded the RAISE Act to reduce immigration and create a system that prioritized American workers. That bill continues to languish—and Cotton throws his support behind a policy that would hurt workers and benefit foreigners and anti-American corporations.
Similarly, the Trump administration recently implemented new rules that would allow for more H-1b holders with advanced degrees to come to the U.S. to take American jobs. [Trump administration proposes changes to popular H-1B program, by Sara Ashley O’Brien, CNN Business, November 30, 2018].
This is not the only pro-foreign worker measure Trump could support. Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota introduced a bill in January that would dramatically increase the number of H-2b visas handed out every year. Currently, the cap is set at 66,000, but Thune’s bill would increase that number to over 100,000. H-2b visas hurt working-class Americans by giving jobs away to low-skilled foreigners. [New Bill Would Swell H-2B Program to Over 100,000 Annually, by Preston Huennekens, Center for Immigration Studies, January 18, 2019]
The increase in guest worker visas wouldn’t be so bad if Trump scrapped birthright citizenship. The problem is that Trump has appeared to have forgotten his October 2018 suggestion he might eliminate Birthright Citizenship by Executive Order. Lindsey Graham has not talked about his bill to eliminate it since last Fall, probably due to the House now being in Democratic hands. Still, why doesn’t the Senate pass it?
One reason: Trump’s conquered party still wants to screw over American workers. You have to remember that several Republican senators were enticed into voting for the Gang of Eight amnesty by the promise that it would drastically increase the number of guest worker visas. [Gang of 8 defends guest worker plan, by Seung Min Kim, Politico, May 13, 2013].
Serving corporate interests is still a top priority for Republicans—even for those who are otherwise good on immigration, such as Senator Cotton.
The other reason: Trump surrounds himself with Business First advisers who advocate for more immigration. Jared Kushner is one obvious case. Another example: Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who has long advocated for Amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Outside of the White House, Trump apparently only talks to business leaders such as Tom Barrack, who has whined in the past about the president’s language on immigration. [‘He’s better than this,’ says Thomas Barrack, Trump’s loyal whisperer, by Michael Kranish, The Washington Post, October 11, 2017]
The only senior immigration patriot official in the White House: Stephen Miller The only outside immigration patriots Trump apparently listens to: the Fox News personalities he watches on TV. Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Lou Dobbs are probably our only hope for persuading Trump to protect American workers.
Trump did good with his emergency declaration. He shouldn’t sully it with a cheap labor gift to corporate America
Washington Watcher [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.