Not only will we have a wall, but the US will add 5,000 border agents, crack down on “sanctuary cities”, and suspend our refugee program.
President Donald Trump will sign two executive orders on Wednesday, including one calling for a “large physical barrier” on the border with Mexico, the White House announced.
Press secretary Sean Spicer said the second order would tighten immigration enforcement inside the U.S., in part by trying to compel local law-enforcement agencies to turn over undocumented immigrants to federal authorities.
To do that, the new administration would restore the controversial Secure Communities program that facilitates this cooperation, which former President Barack Obama ended. It also plans to try and strip federal grant funding from so-called sanctuary cities that “harbor illegal immigrants,” Mr. Spicer said.
“One way or another, as the president has said before, Mexico will pay for it,” said Spicer.
Trump to Suspend Refugee Program
“Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter Tuesday evening. “Among many other things, we will build the wall!”
A White House official on Wednesday confirmed that Mr. Trump will sign at least two orders later in the day. One would redirect existing appropriations to pay for a wall, while a second deals with border security and immigration enforcement inside the U.S., the official said.
Other executive actions involving the refugee program and immigration from nations deemed terror risks are expected Thursday, people familiar with the planning said.
Mr. Trump has given few details about his promise for a border wall, a project that is estimated to cost as much as $10 billion and possibly much more. Congressional Republicans have been considering appropriating funds in spending legislation that must pass by April to keep the government funded.
In hopes of beginning work sooner, Mr. Trump is expected to divert tens of millions of dollars in unspent allocations, said a second person familiar with the planning. Congressional leaders pointed Mr. Trump and his team to the money that may be available to be spent on border security, the person said.
Resentment Builds in Mexico
Mexicans reacted angrily to news U.S. President Donald Trump would unveil details Wednesday of his plan to build a border wall between both nations, particularly since the announcement comes on the day top Mexican officials meet with U.S. administration representatives to discuss the troubled bilateral relationship.
“This is an insult to those Mexican officials, to the president of Mexico and to all Mexicans,” Jorge Castaneda, a former foreign minister, said in a televised interview. “It’s a way of making them negotiate under threat, under insults, and it should lead (Mexican) President (Enrique) Peña Nieto to cancel his trip next week.”
Mr. Peña Nieto is extremely unpopular at home, registering the lowest approval ratings of any Mexican president in recent memory. He will be under enormous pressure not to be seen as kowtowing to the new U.S. administration.
“I already thought that Peña Nieto shouldn’t go, and with the issue of the wall, it would be a big mistake,” said Alejandro Schtulmann, head of analysis at the Empra consulting firm. “If he goes there with nothing tangible, it will be seen in Mexico as an act of submission.”
While Mr. Trump has threatened to leave Nafta, which he has called the worst trade deal in U.S. history, Mexican officials have also started to raise the stakes.
In an interview Tuesday with Mexico’s Televisa network, Mr. Guajardo [Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo] said Mexico would have no choice but to leave Nafta if the negotiations proved detrimental to the country.
“If we go for something that’s less than what we have, it doesn’t make sense to stay,” the economy minister said. “It’s impossible to sell it here at home of there aren’t clear benefits for Mexico.”
Mr. Guajardo said that Mexico could leave the talks if the U.S. taxes or blocks remittances from Mexicans in the U.S., or if the U.S. tries to force Mexico to pay for the border wall.
“What they do or don’t do on their side of the border is their problem, (but) obviously never with Mexican budget money,” he said.
Nationalism in Mexico could make a big comeback. Already, leftist nationalist politician Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is rising in the polls ahead of the 2018 presidential election and is seen as the early favorite.
Mexico’s Biggest Cash Cow Under Attack
The country’s largest source of cash comes from Mexicans living in the United States. That is now under the microscope after Trump issued an executive order Wednesday to start building a wall on the border.
During his campaign, Trump said multiple times that Mexico will pay for the wall. He even threatened to halt or tax cash transfers — known as remittances — from the U.S. to Mexico if the country refused to pay for it.
“They will reimburse us for the cost of the wall. That will happen, whether it’s a tax or a payment — probably less likely that it’s a payment, but it will happen,” Trump said on January 11.
But Mexico’s president won’t stand for it.
“We must assure the free flow of remittances,” President Enrique Pena Nieto said Monday. Remittances are “an invaluable contribution to national development and indispensable for millions of Mexican families.”
Between January and November of 2016, $24.6 billion flowed back to the pockets of Mexicans from friends and relatives living overseas, according to Mexico’s central bank.
That’s even higher than what Mexico earns from its oil exports — $23.2 billion in 2015. And almost all of that cash comes from the U.S.
The average remittance from Mexico is about $300. Essentially, Mexico’s most lucrative natural resource are the people who leave home.
Short Term vs. Long Term
Short term, constructing a wall may add some jobs, perhaps. But longer term, the US will lose jobs over these actions.
Destroying a trading partner cannot be a good thing. But that’s about to happen.
Reader JC writes …
I’m confused on your position with this one. Illegal immigration is costing billions of dollars for Texas alone. 20% of our students need to be taught English. Hospitals are dragged down by uninsured illegals and many illegals commit crimes returning over and over again after being thrown out of the country. Border towns have lost control to the Mexican gangs. This issue has been getting worse for decades with no end in sight. Why is building a wall such a bad thing and why should we be overly concerned about how Mexico feels about it? They clearly benefit more than we do from the current arrangement and relationships can be healed later.
The problem is not the lack of a wall that keeps people out. The problem is handing out free benefits to illegal aliens, the primary reason they come.
The wall is actually a minor cost. In the grand scheme of things, spending $10 to $20 billion on a wall isn’t that meaningful. Certainly I would rather spend money on a wall than bombing seven countries as we did in 2016 under Obama.
As for NAFTA, Trump is seriously wrong. NAFTA is not the source of the loss of US manufacturing jobs. Automation took most of them. Fundamentally, Nixon closing the gold window is what enabled both a destructive credit binge, and the outsourcing of jobs that did take place.
Finally, and as I stated above, it cannot be a good policy to destroy a trading partner. Placing an import tax on vehicles produced in Mexico and dismantling NAFTA will do just that.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock