09/02/2024 lewrockwell.com  14 min 🇬🇧 #242485

Bravo, Donald Trump! The Uniparty's $118 Billion Boondoggle Is Doa

By  David Stockman

 David Stockman's Contra Corner

February 9, 2024

Donald Trump's major talent in the political arena is blowing things up, and for once that attribute has come in extremely handy. We are referring to his apparent death-blow to the so-called bipartisan immigration reform package and the $118 billion potpourri of funding that went with it.

To be sure, that doesn't make up for the $8 trillion he added to the public debt during his four short years in the Oval Office and the $6.5 trillion pandemic relief bacchanalia that his Lockdowns and the White House Task Force fueled Covid-hysteria triggered between March 2020 and March 2021. And that's to say nothing of the 40-year high inflation, massive Fed money-printing spree, egregious Wall Street financial bubbles and speculation and continuing stagflationary legacy that flowed from the Donald's misbegotten war on the virus.

While the demise of this package is therefore surely in the nature of an uncontrolled partisan demolition rather than a purposeful policy initiative, it does have some redeeming collateral virtues. Just maybe Washington's foolish proxy war against Russia in Ukraine will collapse for lack of funding, thereby encouraging saner heads in the Ukraine military to send Zelensky to his CIA safe house in central America and to negotiate a peaceful partition of a fake country created by Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev that doesn't want to be together anyway.

Likewise, Israel only needs to raise taxes by 2-3 percentage points of GDP to generate the $14 billion in aid that Uncle Sam flat-out doesn't have. Even then, Israel's defense budget would amount to a far lower burden on its $550 billion GDP than was the case for the first 50-years of its existence.

Besides, when the Israeli electorate is shown that the Netanyahu claque doesn't have an ATM in the US Capitol Building, it might start electing governments willing to honestly pursue a modus vivendi with its Palestinian population and Arab neighbors.

As for the extra $10 billion for humanitarian aid, good riddance to that. It amounts to a 20% tip on top of the $50 billion already in the Federal budget for foreign aid and security assistance-none of which adds to the homeland security of America.

So putting the kibosh on the "foreign adventures" components of the package would save $85 billion and constitutes a halting first step toward fiscal sanity on the banks of the Potomac.

But the irony is that the even bigger waste in the package is the $20 billion to stop the so-called border invasion. Except the "invasion" is self-inflicted by an utterly broken US immigration control regime that literally invites millions of migrants to come to the US border and break the law in the guise of seeking "asylum" under international law and safeguards.

So fix the immigration system and you won't even need the $30 billion in the current Federal budget for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and the Customs and Border Protection operations, to say nothing of the extra 50% or $15 billion provided to these agencies by the Senate deal.

The crucial starting point, therefore, is to recognize that the overwhelming bulk of the 2.43 million people arrested during "encounters" at the Southwest Border in FY 2022 were economic migrants, not political refugees. For crying out loud, fully 808,400 of them, or 33%, were Mexican nationals alone. But since when has Washington declared our neighbor to the south to be an outlaw state from which its citizens must flee for fear of life and limb?

Sure, there are some modest numbers of people there who are victims of the vicious drug cartels, but make no mistake: The Mexican drug cartels were fostered in Washington, too, owing to its idiotic War on Drugs. So repeal the drug laws and dismantle the DEA and its related jackboot agencies and there would be no Mexican drug lords to flee.

Likewise, another 705,500 of those arrested in these "encounters" were from central America. Several of the countries located there might well be called semi-failed states where crime is somewhat high, but that's not actually political oppression and not much different than most US major cities.

For instance, 213,000 of these encounters were with migrants from Honduras, where the murder rate was36 per 100,000 in 2022, making it the worst of the lot in central America. Beyond that, the 231,565 encounters involving migrants from Guatemala were ostensibly fleeing a murder rate of just 17 per 100,000; the 163,876 encounters with Nicaraguan migrants came from a country with a 6.7 per 100,000 murder rate; and the 97,030 from El Salvador faced a domestic homicide rate of just 8.0 per 100,000.

Even in the case of Mexico, drug cartels and all, the 2022 murder rate was 25.0 per 100,000.

Then again, the murder rates in major US cities are way up there and beyond those in Mexico and central America. The murder rates per 100,000 for some notable US cities in 2021 are shown below, as well as the 6.3 per 100,000 rate for the USA as a whole. The overall USA rate is self-evidently in the El Salvador/Nicaragua league, suggesting that while much of central America could benefit from a stronger law and order regime, we are talking only about degree, not the alleged nightmare of murderous mayhem which is frequently offered to explain the hordes of asylum-seekers at the US border.

In fact, every single one of these US cities has a higher homicide rate than Mexico itself-the alleged fount of murder and mayhem at the US border; and also rates that are far, far higher than all of central America save for Honduras.

Murder Rate Per 100,000 In Top 10 US Cities in 2021:

  • St. Louis: 64.0.
  • Baltimore: 58.6.
  • Detroit: 41.0.
  • Milwaukee: 42.5.
  • New Orleans: 40.6.
  • Cleveland: 33.7.
  • Atlanta: 32.0.
  • Los Vegas: 31.4.
  • Memphis: 27.1.
  • Newark: 25.6.
  • USA:6.3

Indeed, three other western hemisphere countries on the list above suggest quite clearly that is it is not murder and dictators that migrants are fleeing so much as it is socialism and poverty. Fully 462,000 or 19% of the "encounters" in FY 2022 were with citizens from Cuba, Haiti and Venezuela. The political refugees from Castro's jails left the island for Miami decades ago-so today's escapees are simply victims of communist poverty, as is essentially the case for Haiti and Venezuela, as well.

In fact, when you look at the per capita GDP of the major Latin American countries which supply the overwhelming bulk of "encounters" at the US border it's damn evident that it is powerful economic forces in the form of labor shortages here and deep poverty there that explain the hordes on the Rio Grande. Compared to US per capita GDP of $65,425 in 2022, here are the comparable figures for 11 leading Latin American suppliers of migrants that year. In all cases the ratio ranges from more than 40:1 to a minimum of 6:1 (versus the communist paradise of Cuba).

2022 Per Capita GDP:

  • Haiti: $1,600.
  • Nicaragua: $2,090.
  • Honduras: $2,750.
  • El Salvador: $4,700.
  • Venezuela: $3,980.
  • Guatemala: $5,475.
  • Ecuador: $6,300.
  • Peru: $6,475.
  • Columbia: $6,500.
  • Cuba: $7,490.
  • Mexico: $10,820.
  • United States:$65,425.

Needless to say, the economic refugees from these countries are incentivized to pretend they are political asylees. That's because there are no legal immigration quotas or green cards for unskilled, nonseasonal workers beyond the trivial 4,300 per year allowed under quota categories EW3 and EW8.

This is a tiny pinhole in the legal quota system, of course. The geniuses in Washington saw fit to legally admit a total of1,018,349 immigrants in 2022, but just 0.4% of these were under quota categories for unskilled and low-skill workers.

Yet these latter categories are exactly where America has a severe labor shortage. So it is not surprising at all that millions of economic refugees south of the border want to migrate here in the historic tradition of filling jobs, working hard, building a better life for their families and contributing to taxes and all other aspects of American society.

As a practical matter, therefore, the 2.43 million migrants "apprehended" by the Border Patrol in FY 2022 were being forced by regulatory madness to-

  • First, break the law by crossing the border in order to get arrested.
  • And then apply for asylum status under a convoluted bureaucratic procedure that can take months and years to complete, and which requires applicants to provide extensive proof of endangerment in their home country, when what actually matters is their ability to work, live and become good citizens of the United States.

Moreover, by contrast to the mere pinhole for entry by unskilled workers, here is a summary of the regulatory categories by which the remaining 1,013,998 legal immigrants came to America in 2022. And the overwhelming share of these came with visas granted in US consulates abroad, arriving at US ports of entry in the ordinary way and having their papers stamped at the non-US citizens passport control window.

No muss, no fuss-two minutes and you're done. And not one of the 1,013,998 persons involved added an iota to the teeming border "invasion".

Legal Immigrants in 2022 By Major Regulatory Category:

  • Immediate relatives of US citizens: 428,268.
  • Other family-based preferences: 166,041.
  • PhDs and skilled workers and their families: 265,933.
  • Refugees and asylees: 83,096.
  • Diversity Lottery: 43,233.
  • Iraqis and Afghans employed by US government: 11,911:
  • Victims of crime and other political categories: 15,536.
  • Unskilled workers: 4,351

Needless to say, the above is only a high-level summary of the regulatory monstrosity that passes for the nation's immigrant quota/control system. If you dial down into the 428,268 green cards issued under the "immediate relatives" heading, for instance, you get the following green card numbers under the main quota control buckets.

2022 Green Cards Issued for Immediate Relatives of US Citizens By Quota Category:

  • R1/R6/CR1/CR6/B1/B6, Spouses of US citizen: 222,565.
  • W1/W6, other spouses, widows or widowers: 1,201.
  • CF1/F1, fiancés and financees: 14,846.
  • IR2/IR7/CR2/CR7, Children of US citizens: 52,163.
  • IH3/IH8/IH4, Hague convention adoptees: 971.
  • IR3/IR4/IR8/IR9, Orphans adopted abroad: 571.
  • IR5/IR0, parents of adult US citizens: 132,428.
  • IBO, parents of US citizens battered abroad: 77.
  • Other: 3,446

And those are the simpler, more straight-forward regulatory categories. By comparison, consider just the breakdown of the 2022 quota entrants for the162,514 First and Second Priority workers given legal admittance under the "employment-based preferences":

  • E11/E16, Workers with extraordinary ability: 7,499.
  • E12/E17: Outstanding professors or researchers: 4,447.
  • E13/E18. Outstanding multinational executives or managers: 10,290.
  • E21/E25. Professionals holding advanced degrees: 54,491.
  • E14/E15/E19/E20/E22/E23/E27/E28, Spouses and children of the four above categories: 85,787.

That's right. The single biggest shortage in the US economy today is low and unskilled workers, yet the Washington immigration puzzle palace made room for 20X more spouses and children of professors, executives, advanced degree holders and workers with "extraordinary" abilities than just plain old common laborers.

In a word, the lobbyists for Silicon Valley and the Fortune 500 have made sure they can get all the PhDs and high-tech employees they need through an orderly process of Visa processing in consulates abroad. Undoubtedly, Facebook and Google paid good money to the Washington lobbyists and lawyers who have kept their green card gateways open.

But if you are a blue-collar worker, not so much. First, be prepared to hazard life and limb and be stripped of every penny you have by the "coyotes" who bring you to the US border and then present yourself for arrest and detention in make-shift concentration camps. Next, plan to remain in limbo for months and years waiting for your asylum hearing while paying lawyer's fees to stay in the cue; and then more likely than not end-up being sent back home when you can't prove you were sufficiently endangered in say, Costa Rica-the new hot spot for trendy US vacationers.

Then again, a labor-short employer in Kansas City might find the current $217 cost of a Delta coach ticket from Costa Rica to his local airport to be a real bargain, as it would amount to only 29 hours of payroll at the minimum wage. That is, a very modest hiring cost coincident to filling jobs at a Kansas City warehouse, fast food joint, lawn care operation or construction site.

At the same time, the economic migrant might also find a $217 airline ticket a helluva of a bargain compared to the $3,000 to $15,000 fee charged by coyotes for the hazardous trip from Costa Rica to the Rio Grande, to say nothing of months and even years in the asylum processing cue.

And that possibility leads straight to the far more important angle. To wit, if there were another immigration control category perhaps labeled "GW10", standing for "Guest Worker, 10-year road to citizenship", would there be any hordes at the border at all?

And would the Uniparty be engaging in a completely phony fight over how to streamline and reform the asylum program? Or having food fights over whether 5,000 asylee admissions per day was a ceiling or floor, or how to compute secondary weekly and annual limits, or how to restart the asylum flow once a border closure was triggered and countless more pointless legislative and regulatory grimble?

The answer is absolutely not, and that's owing to the fact that a GW10 program would expose the dirty secret of the entire border "invasion" phenomena. To wit, a GW10 program could be processed through the 249 US embassies and consulates spread across the planet-orderly bureaucratic mechanisms which process literally millions of applications per year for both temporary travel visas and permanent immigrant visas day-in-and-day-out.

But, of course, asylum-seekers must come to the Texas/Southwest border rather than access this in-place system because, well, US consulates couldn't readily explain the implicit insult to their host country. After all, granting asylum to purportedly "persecuted" local citizens at the US consulate in Mexico City, for instance, would be tantamount to aiding and abetting presumptive enemies of the Mexican state.

That's right. There are hundreds of categories of people who come to the US consulates for visas for travel, family unification, work, study, sports, entertainment, teaching and much else--but not to escape from host country oppression.

Indeed, the disconnect is so blatant that it is worth noting the countries of origin for the 55,882 legal immigrants in FY 2022 under the Diversity Lottery, which alone accounted for 13-times more green cards in FY 2022 than the entire category for unskilled workers.

These immigrants came here in their tens of thousands through an orderly US consulate-based lottery conducted in more than 170 nations spread across the entire planet. And the lottery produced more "diversity" green cards for Algeria and Albania alone than the total number of workers admitted under the unskilled worker quotas (EW3/EW8).

FY 2022 Diversity Lottery Immigrants By Country:

  • Algeria: 2,380.
  • Albania: 2054
  • Cameroon: 1,705.
  • Congo: 903.
  • Kenya: 1.157.
  • Sudan: 1,704.
  • Saudi Arabia: 450.
  • Yemen: 625.
  • Afghanistan: 723.
  • Morocco: 2,559.
  • Rwanda: 661.
  • Togo: 838.
  • Zimbabwe: 1,142.
  • Syria: 240.
  • Cambodia: 166.
  • Jordan: 713.
  • Mongolia: 196.
  • Armenia: 1,308.
  • Kazakhstan: 865.
  • Moldovia: 481.
  • Fiji: 537.
  • Cuba: 612.
  • 147 other nations: 34,863.
  • Total Diversity Lottery: 55,882

In short, every one of these new 2022 green card holders under the diversity lottery were processed in the US consulates and embassies of the indicated countries. There was no congestion at the border, no law-breaking, no arrests, no temporary incarceration, no prolonged waiting in the asylum processing cue.

Stated differently, the answer is not a bigger, tougher and more costly asylum processing program per the so-called bipartisan compromise, but a policy change that would drastically reduce the 2.5 million annual "encounters" at the Southwest Border by redirecting the flow of economic migrants to a GW10 application process. In the case of Mexico, for instance, there are 10 consulates spread throughout the country as shown below, and there are like and similar facilities throughout central and south America, as well as the rest of the world.

Under an immigration policy regime that included a large-scale Guest Worker program there would be no need for a border shutdown trigger or a convoluted test, as in the Senate package, to re-open the asylum process afterwards. In fact, there would likely be only a few thousand asylum seekers at the border and ports of entry at any point in time because the millions of current work-seekers flooding the border would be processed in their home countries by State Department bureaucrats who are in exactly that business. And this latter process could be greatly enhanced with a computerized employment-seekers rooster that could be accessed by any and all US employers seeking already pre-screened and pre-approved workers.

As we have indicated elsewhere, under such a GW10 program, Guest Workers would be ineligible for welfare benefits in the US for 10-years and could remain in the US as long as an employer validated their Guest Worker employment status-with an option to obtain citizenship after 10-years of working and paying taxes.

Needless to say, this economics-based approach would eliminate 95% of the throngs gathered at the US/Mexican border. What would be left attempting illegal entry, if anyone at all, would be the tiny number of criminals, drug dealers, terrorists and misfits who couldn't qualify for a Guest Worker visa.

Furthermore, with the "threats" reduced to a few thousand rather than the current millions, the Border Patrol, which is exactly suited for this purpose, could keep the border so "secure" that even Donald Trump would be amazed. And they could do it with drastically smaller budgets and manpower than they have today, to boot!

Alas, and as a reward for striking down this Uniparty monstrosity, the Donald himself might discover that his "beautiful wall" is not even needed!

How To End The Chaos at The US Border: Work Permits at The US Consulates.

Reprinted with permission from  David Stockman's Contra Corner.

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