Once more from the top: walls, negotiations, and trust

Once more from the top: walls, negotiations, and trust January 19, 2019

Reports are swirling that Trump is planning on proposing a DACA/TPS extension in exchange for a wall.  Mostly this is twitter chatter, but here’s what the political news site Axios has to say:

President Trump plans to use remarks from the Diplomatic Reception Room on Saturday afternoon to propose a notable immigration compromise, according to sources familiar with the speech.

Details: The offer is expected to include Trump’s $5.7 billion demand for wall money in exchange for the BRIDGE Act — which would extend protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — and also legislation to extend the legal status of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, according to a source with direct knowledge.

Twitter-Democrats say this is a nonstarter.

Here’s Jake Tapper quoting nonspecified someones:

And here’s a random twitter reply to a separate tweet, which is representative of much of what I’m seeing:

which is ironic because it’s the same complaints as the pro-wall-ites have, only reversed.

A wall is a more-or-less permanent (or at least long-term) hinderance to border-crossing.  Yes, it is not perfect.  Walls can be tunnelled under or climbed-over or broken-through.  And I’d prefer that our immigration-enforcement strategy be centered around workplace enforcement (E-Verify to catch falsified IDs, Social Security no-match letters to catch stolen Social Security numbers, and pursuit of employers paying under-the-table), since this would catch visa-overstayers as well.

But the drone-based border enforcement that Democrats are yammering about as more modern than an outdated wall?  All it takes is for a Democratic president to take office and decide that, as a matter of spending priorities, he/she will shut this down and take it offline, and it’s done.  The “border security measures that work” that the Democrats are promising us they full support are also “border security measures that can be shut down at any time.”  Can Democrats — and especially an unknown future Democratic president — be trusted to carry out enforcement measures they have only agreed to as a carrot to get Republican agreement of the amnesty they want?  (Besides which, their “modern border security measures” are all about identifying people after they have already crossed the border.  If we don’t have effective mechanisms to actually remove them back to the other side of the border, but instead give them court dates and removable ankle bracelets, then they accomplish nothing.  Oh, and, yes, the studies claiming effectiveness of those bracelets are only during the period while people are awaiting hearings and think they have a good shot; once the individual has been issued a deportation order or has reason to believe the case will fail, the effectiveness drops considerably.)

After all, responses like this certainly indicate they understand the issue of trust, just in reverse.  They don’t trust that the GOP, during the three-year period that the BRIDGE Act, as previously constituted, includes, will negotiate in good faith on further measures.  But, understanding that trust matters, can they not see that the other party cares about trust as well?

Which is, again, why in a prior post I wrote about the need for confidence-building measures, because neither side trusts each other.  Without establishing trust, you simply can’t have these ambitious “comprehensive reform” packages that we’re being told are the solution to the immigration issue, because they have so many contingent elements that require that the parties be trusted by each other and be worthy of that trust.

Here’s another way of looking at this:  you know how in places like Japan business is done as a series of drinking nights, where the prospective vendor goes out with the prospective client?  (Here’s a sample article describing the practice.  You can find the same on google.)  Terrible way of doing business, from a U.S. perspective.  But it’s because their way of doing business is to build bonds, to establish trust between the parties.  Then, when it comes time to actually signing the contract, unlike an American business deal, they do not nail down every single possible contingency and identify courses of action and assign blame for any deviation from what’s expected.  Due to the evolution of US culture (not just business culture, but more broadly, including our ever-celebrated multiculturalism and immigration), that doesn’t exist in the United States.  During the last “Gang of” proposed immigration deal, the sites I read on immigration spent a lot of time looking through the law to find all of the loopholes included — everything from a 10-year clock on E-Verify that asserted that if it hadn’t been implemented or was stuck in the courts, amnestees get citizenship regardless; to minimalist requirements such as enrollment in some sort of English class, attendance or actual English-learning not required; criminal records waivable; application fees waivable, etc.  Presumably pro-immigration-expansion sites did the same thing in reverse; I couldn’t say.

I simply don’t believe a Grand Bargain is a workable solution.  I think it has to take the form of incremental measures, especially items that each party believes is the right thing to do, even if they’d rather hold on to it as a bargaining chip.  It seems to me that immigration enforcement-ists generally believe that in principle, amnesty is fine and even appropriate for long-time residents, but don’t want to go about it in a way that means that amnesty is just something that happens every couple decades, nor do they want to sacrifice their bargaining chip.  Same with amnesty-supporters who might believe we should cut down on illegal immigration in the future, but don’t want to lose their own bargaining chip.  But I don’t believe a Grand Bargain would work to build trust, but is likely to worsen trust further, as each side sees ways that it’s gone wrong in their view.

And now I will miss the actual goings-on as I leave to do grocery-shopping instead.

 

Image:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AWarsaw_Negotiation_Round_Senate_of_Poland_2014_01.JPG; By Michał Józefaciuk (Senat Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej) [CC BY-SA 3.0 pl (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/pl/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

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