Donald Trump unveiled his “how we get Mexico to pay for the wall” plan. A key portion:
Mexico must pay for the wall and, until they do, the United States will, among other things: impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages; increase fees on all temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats (and if necessary cancel them); increase fees on all border crossing cards – of which we issue about 1 million to Mexican nationals each year (a major source of visa overstays); increase fees on all NAFTA worker visas from Mexico (another major source of overstays); and increase fees at ports of entry to the United States from Mexico [Tariffs and foreign aid cuts are also options].
Question: If we increase the fees on legal immigration and entry, doesn’t that make illegal immigration and entry look more appealing? Without sufficient border security — because we’re insisting Mexico pay for it — aren’t we shutting the door of legal immigration and leaving the window of illegal immigration open? (Maybe the border will be significantly more secure after President Trump triples the number of ICE officers; he says he’ll pay for it by eliminating tax-credit payments to illegal immigrants.) Still, increasing fees on legal immigration does amount to punishing people who are doing it the right way – and not-so-subtly implies that Americans don’t want Mexicans coming into the country period.
Regarding the effort to impound remittance payments, anytime a lot of people want to move a significant amount money from one place to another, someone will seek to fill that need. Trump fans scoffed at the idea of Mexicans using Bitcoin or some other electronic system for moving money across the border, beyond the reach or view of U.S. authorities. Perhaps we would see the creation of a Hawala-style system, where a Mexican illegal immigrant would give money to a black market broker in Los Angeles, who would contact his counterpart in, say, Mexico City to distribute the sum to the worker’s family (minus the commission, of course).
Regarding tariffs, Mexico is our third-largest trading partner. We imported $293 billion in goods and services from there. We import $49 billion more than we export, but that’s still quite a bit.
If we put tariffs on Mexican goods, Mexico will almost certainly put tariffs on American goods and services.
U.S. goods exports to Mexico in 2013 were $226.2 billion, up 4.7% ($10.2 billion) from 2012, and up 132% from 2003. It is up 444% since 1993 (Pre-NAFTA). U.S. exports to Mexico accounted for 14.3% of overall U.S. exports in 2013.
The top export categories (2-digit HS) in 2013 were: Machinery ($38.5 billion), Electrical Machinery ($36.7 billion), Mineral Fuel and Oil ($23.0 billion), Vehicles ($21.6 billion), and Plastic ($15.3 billion).
U.S. exports of agricultural products to Mexico totaled $18.1 billion in 2013, the 3rd largest U.S. Ag export market. Leading categories include: corn ($1.8 billion), soybeans ($1.5 billion), dairy products ($1.4 billion), pork and pork products ($1.2 billion), and poultry meat (excluding eggs) ($1.2 billion).
Meanwhile, Trump’s plan to end birthright citizenship, if ever enacted, will be challenged to the Supreme Court.
Trump makes reference to a legal-immigration pause: “Before any new green cards are issued to foreign workers abroad, there will be a pause where employers will have to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed immigrant and native workers.” How long would this be? What’s our criteria for determining the “pause” has gone on long enough?
There’s a lot to Trump’s immigration plan to like: Nationwide e-verify, mandatory return of all criminal aliens, defunding sanctuary cities. There is room — in fact, there’s a need! — for a serious debate about legal-immigration levels. The United States brings in about 1 million legal immigrants per year, a figure that is at or near record levels. About 13 percent of the world’s adults — or about 630 million people — say they would like to leave their country and move somewhere else permanently. For roughly 138 million people, that somewhere else would be the U.S. — the top desired destination for potential immigrants.
At some point, we have to say “no” to some people who want to immigrate to the United States.
What You Probably Don’t Know about Carly Fiorina
You’re hearing it already: If Carly Fiorina gets the nomination, they’ll play the Romney card against her: She’s wealthy, she’s out-of-touch, she’s laid people off, she’s this heartless, soulless embodiment of corporate greed.
In the near future, you’ll hear some Democrat — or perhaps a Republican rival — suggest, “Carly Fiorina’s been living the high life in corporate corner offices for a long time; she has no idea what real life is like for everyone else.”
And perhaps then, Carly Fiorina will discuss the death of her stepdaughter, Lori, whom she had raised from an early age, after years of struggling with alcoholism and drug abuse. She writes in her book, Rising to the Challenge:
In the midst of all this, on October 12, 2009, that we learned of Lori’s death. For the second time in nine months, time stopped. We had spent the last months of her life desperately trying to intervene with her doctors to make sure they understood the depths of her illness. Because of the way privacy laws are written, we couldn’t learn anything from Lori’s doctors that she didn’t want us to know. Finally, we found a doctor who kindly told us she could listen, although she could not tell us anything. But by then it was too late.
I have thought often since then how poorly we deal with mental illness and addiction as a nation. Like Lori, those who are ill frequently fight against help. Medical privacy laws, although perhaps well intentioned, make it easier for an addict to continue down a destructive path. These laws make it very difficult for those who worry that a loved one is a danger to themselves or others to get the help so desperately needed. They also make it difficult for concerned physicians to raise a warning flag. And criminalizing addictions, or minimizing the devastating impact of mental illness on friends and communities, only makes these problems worse.
We had pleaded with Lori to move closer to her family in those last months. But as many addicts do, she literally ran away from the people trying to help her. She insisted on moving to New Jersey. In my last conversation with her on the phone, I begged her again to let us get her help. She put me off. Now all I could think of, staring at the policemen standing in my living room, was what else I could have done to save her.
That reference to “the second time in nine months” was a reference to Carly’s cancer diagnosis. (Tell me again how she doesn’t know tough times.) Every Republican candidate is going to argue against Obamacare’s changes. But she’s going to have a unique perspective:
Many long days and multiple scans, MRIs and mammograms later, we finally had a more definitive diagnosis: it was breast cancer, stage II. It hadn’t been detected in the mammogram I had had weeks earlier, because the tumor in my left breast was very small. At the same time, the cancer was very aggressive and had spread to lymph nodes that are not captured in a mammogram. It was, without a doubt, a very close call. Later, after Obamacare was passed, the Health and Human Services Administration changed the protocol for breast cancer screening. They recommended that women get a mammogram every other year and that they not do self-examinations. The Obama administration had concluded that this change in protocol would minimize false alarms and cost. I remember being insulted when HHS justified these changes by saying the old protocol caused too much trauma and concern. Women are tough. We can handle it. I remember thinking that if I had followed this protocol, I would probably be dead.
ADDENDA: For those of us with long memories of the pre-Giuliani New York, it feels like we’re in a time machine: The Guardian Angels are patrolling Central Park again. Crime in Central Park is up 26 percent this year.