The real prime target of Trump’s threat to close the border
I think that President Trump is going after what the Left calls “root causes” in their typical grab for money to redistribute, purportedly to eliminate some social problem they blame on poverty. But Trump is not seeking a nebulous version of Ultimate Social Justice, he is focused on the real obstacles to immigration reform, and I think he has a specific goal in mind as he threatens a complete border closure.
Simply stated, at home, Trump wants big business, as embodied in the US Chamber of Commerce, to grasp that he will not allow them to continue stonewall on open borders, targeting their donations to prevent any legal reform. Ever since NAFTA, huge investments have taken place predicted on the free movement of good across the border. Those investments are now held hostage by Trump’s threat. The implicit deal: either loudly and emphatically lobby for a simple revision to immigration law to allow asylum claimants to wait on the southern side of the border while their claims are adjudicated or endure a semi-catastrophic disruption.
Trump knows that he has an excellent public case to make for this simple reform. With illegals now well aware that bringing along minors and an asylum claim guarantee admission to the USA, a hundred thousand a month are flooding in. The claims of a “manufactured crisis” look silly. Even Jeh Johnson, Obama’s DHS secretary admits it is real.
But with the C of C directing massive donations to Republicans to help sabotage reform, and to Democrats to stonewall it, no progress can be made. If Trump is able to carry out the threat and make it stick, the C of C and its big business constituents might well decide that a push for asylum claim reform is in their interest. Especially since the change in asylum reform would have minimal impact on the availability of laborers. The problem is with families and children.
The other target, of course, is Mexico. But remember that Mexico’s real interests have nothing to do with impoverished families from below its southern border. There is little reason to sacrifice the welfare of Mexicans, dependent on the border remaining open, simply to annoy the gringos.
President Trump has made threats to close the border with Mexico before, and all sorts of people call the current threat an “unthinkable” measure. That may be the biggest reason of all for him to carry out the threat if last ditch efforts to persuade the C of C to support asylum reform fall short. The unlimited flow of phony asylum seekers could easily bring millions of dependents – not men willing and able to work as before, but dependents who need a lot of social services – is an existential threat to our social order.
Trump faces hardball negotiations with North Korea, China, Turkey, and many others. He can’t afford to be seen as making empty threats. Pushing the border crisis into a crisis that impacts the interests of the key obstacles to reform, costly though it will be in the short run, maybe an investment he is willing to make.
Of course, there would be media attention to families “torn apart by the border closure.” Stand by for comparisons to North Koreans cut off from the relatives in South Korea. But the human interest angle would be secondary to reports of layoffs as factories, cut off from parts and other supplies from Mexico, or factories sending their output to Mexico for final assembly that must shut down. The most serious headlines and pressure will be: “Trump kills the economic recovery (that Obama started)” and the like.
But with his credibility enhanced and that of his Democrat critics diminished, Trump already is thinking the unthinkable and may well gamble on doing it.