Here are the four things you need to know before your coffee gets cold, the January 26, 2017 edition:
Building the Wall
The President signed two Executive Orders yesterday centered around his long-touted immigration agenda. Despite months of nay-sayers who contended that Mr. Trump had no interest in actually following through on an ambitious pro-American immigration agenda, Mr. Trump, once again, proved that he was more interested in keeping his campaign promises than playing politics with the safety of the country. To that end, his first Order yesterday directed that construction of a border wall with Mexico be undertaken in accordance with the Secure Fence Act of 2006 (a law that was supported by Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Barbara Mikulski, as well as 23 other Senate Democrats—and passed overwhelmingly in the House). The second order directed the Government to work to defund “Sanctuary Cities” that harbor illegal aliens and refuse to cooperate with immigration services to effect deportations.
Both Orders contained additional provisions, such as hiring more border patrol agents, enhancing detention capability along the border, and making sure that illegals could be returned to the country from which they entered the United States (this is an important distinction that many in the media are missing. Many of the illegals entering this country from the southern border are not Mexicans, but rather Hondurans, Guatemalans and people from Central and South America. The provision in the Order would mean that they do not need to be deported back to Guatemala or Honduras, etc., but rather just back across the border to Mexico. This is extremely important because Mexico has, currently, a vested interest on getting these immigrants out of Mexico and into the United States. With the threat that they will be returned to Mexico, you could see Mexico change its tune with respect to its turning a blind eye to the thousands of migrants who risk life and limb to travel through inhospitable areas of Mexico to get to the United States.)
While these Executive Orders take an important first step to fulfilling Mr. Trump’s campaign promises, they will not be sufficient by themselves. Mr. Trump will need an allocation of funds from Congress in the coming months to really kick-off construction of the Wall and enforcement policies. Numerous Senators, as well as Speaker Paul Ryan have indicated they are in favor of making this allocation, but there will be rabid pushback from Democrats in the Senate. This is likely to be a political win for the President, who will snap back on Democrats’ not wanting to protect the nation.
Pugh Risks Disaster on Sanctuary Baltimore
In response to the President’s Executive Order that would defund so-called “Sanctuary Cities,” the new Mayor of Baltimore, Catharine Pugh, reiterated a dubious contention of her predecessor that Baltimore is a “welcoming city” not a “sanctuary city.” In the case of Baltimore, this may be a distinction without a difference. The rhetoric that worked under the Obama Administration (Baltimore embraced policies that run afoul of 8 USC § 1373(a) in 2012), but may not find the same warmth from the incoming Administration.
Here’s the issue: in 2012, the Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, issued an Executive Order that forbade Baltimore’s law enforcement from checking immigration status of persons who were arrested. With a wink and a nod, the Mayor noted that, because Baltimore does not control its prisons (they were taken over by the State in 1991 because Baltimore ran out of money to do it themselves), it’s not technically a violation of the law.
This logic certainly worked in the Obama Administration that took no action to enforce 8 USC § 1373 against jurisdictions across the country that harbored criminal aliens. However, the definition of a “sanctuary city” isn’t a label from the municipality, but, rather, it will be defined by the Federal Government. Therein lies the rub for the Mayor of Baltimore, whose City receives an estimated 8% of its yearly budget from federal grants: will she maintain a policy that (according to Section 9(a) of yesterday’s Executive Order), could deny millions of dollars of aid to Baltimore’s poorest residents, or will she reverse course and bring Baltimore back into accord with Federal Law.
Baltimore needs to look to Baltimore’s citizens first and, while we can certainly be a welcoming community for all people, that does not mean standing in opposition to federal law. Of course, there are other jurisdictions in the country that are more flagrant in their defiance, however, there are few cities more in need of cooperation with the new Administration than Baltimore.
Tomorrow, UK Prime Minister Theresa May will visit Washington to speak with the President and top Republicans. The visit is of unique strategic value both to the Administration and to Ms. May. This will be Mr. Trump’s first visit from a foreign leader as President and will go a long way to ensure that he is perceived on the world stage as a calm, deliberate leader. It will also underscore the bilateral relations between the United States and Great Britain which were severely strained at times in globalist President Barack Obama’s undercutting of the special relationship between the two nations.
The visit is particularly important for Prime Minister May as she and her Government negotiate their way through Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. Critics of Leave had cited a diminished market for British goods abroad and a weakened UK economy as reasons to stay in the common market. May, in meeting with Trump (whose populist appeal was similar to the rhetoric of the Leave campaign), will seek to show that bilateral trade between the UK and US will be beneficial to the British economy and assuage some fears over Brexit.
We should anticipate a very warm meeting between the two leaders (despite Ms. May’s initial skepticism about Mr. Trump during the US Presidential campaign) because both have significant political capital to gain from a successful outcome.
As early as today, the President will roll out a temporary ban on refugees from Syria and from issuing visas to seven nations in the Middle East and North Africa that have been notable for producing terrorists. This fulfills a promise the President made on the campaign trail to shut down paths that terrorists could use to enter the United States and enact “extreme vetting” of persons from terror hotspots seeking to enter the country. Early reports suggest that these measures will be temporary while the “extreme vetting” procedures are put in place by immigration officials.
It’s notable that this new policy is similar to ones that have been enacted in the past, including during the Obama Administration, and do not rise to the level of a “Muslim ban” or a total stoppage of all immigration from Muslim-majority nations. This had been the early rhetoric from the Trump campaign early-on, but, this was actively modified into something that targeted terrorism rather than ethnic origin or religious belief.
There are some critics on the right who are arguing that Mr. Trump’s stoppage of visas does not include the nations of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia which have produced numerous terrorists who have gone on to commit atrocities. The likely response would be that both nations are more populous and have stricter governmental controls over their people than the ones that Mr. Trump is banning.
As always, there are more things going on in the world, but these should get you started for today.