@Ben___Garrison's banner p


Voltaire's Viceroy

1 follower   follows 1 user  
joined 2022 September 05 02:32:36 UTC


User ID: 373


Voltaire's Viceroy

1 follower   follows 1 user   joined 2022 September 05 02:32:36 UTC


No bio...


User ID: 373

Well there's nothing for me to really argue against here, just "I'm right and you're wrong", an ad-hominem, then "landslide for Trump in 2024!"

I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

You really seem to want to catch me with supposed double-binds and contradictions instead of actually addressing important points.

If the contradictions are true, then fair enough. Like earlier when you mentioned "hey you say Trump's restrictions didn't do much, but then say that illegal immigration exploded when Biden removed them". I could certainly see why someone would think that was a bit weird so a clarification was justified, and even with that clarification I probably wasn't giving Trump enough credit to what might have happened if he didn't do his EO's.

But this is just a nothingburger. I feel like I'm reading the following: "first you said 'immigration', then fell back to 'illegal immigration'. Aha! A concession! Then you said Trump had bad PR because of saying stuff like 'shithole countries', but he didn't say that in a televised address, meaning it wasn't public, yet PR has the word 'public' in it. A contradiction!"

To the object-level claim here, if Trump says something inflammatory to a group who all then promptly leak it to the press, then yes, that's a PR problem. The two options Trump has are either 1) get his leaky ship in order, or 2) think it but don't say it, or at least say it in ways that aren't so clearly controversial. Every time you hear the media complaining about "dogwhistling", it's just Republicans doing this. But Trump never seem to get the memo, which is why he keeps shooting himself and the cause of immigration restrictions in the foot.

  • -11

The 'Alt Right' hadn't cheered for Trump on immigration since he caved on the Government shutdown in 2018.

You're probably using a more concrete definition of the Alt Right than I am. I'm aware that people like Richard Spencer drifted away from Trump around 2018, but much of the rest of the far right remained loyal to him, including many people who ostensibly wanted to prioritize immigration reform. There's no credible right wing groups that are angry with Trump over his flimsiness on immigration, at least none large enough to be relevant.

I don't think you want to get immigration under control any more than someone in the 'Alt Right'. What you do want is to appear like a concerned and reasonable person as judged by 'the respectable people' representing the mainstream media morality.

Well this is just dead wrong. I absolutely want to crack down on illegal immigration, but even beyond that I want to lower legal immigration as well, which is why I classified the 50K increase per year for 5 years as a "concession", albeit a small one. I reckon many people on the right agree with me on limiting legal immigration, but they know it's highly controversial so they instead pretend they only care about illegal immigration because it's breaking the law or cutting the line. I'm more open with my concerns, in ways that I doubt the "mainstream media morality" would side with.

You are not being honest when you say Trump tanked the bill.

If you're going to accuse me of lying, please don't strawman me. I never claimed there was no opposition to the bill before Trump came out against it. But whatever prospects the bill had, died when he did.

It’s far better to expose the immigration issue and pass a clean bill after the election.

This is just the double-or-nothing idea I mentioned in my post. Throwing away the biggest win on immigration in a generation, and instead banking on winning the Presidency AND the Senate AND the House AND hoping Trump actually cares about the issue enough to pass actual legislation instead of just trying EOs. Surely the last time he had a trifecta and passed no major legislation on immigration was just a fluke, right? Surely he won't be distracted by settling scores and getting revenge on his perceived enemies, right? And even if all that happens, hoping that Trump is tactful enough to actually do a (supposedly) extreme immigration bill without the Democrats freaking out and repealing it the minute they come into power.

Sure, the additional restrictions you mentioned do exist, but remember the priors here. The Border Emergency Authority is a draconian measures meant to be used sparingly for emergencies, not a "you must meet these criteria to even start deporting illegals" that Trump, Gaetz, and others painted it as. You could strip out the entire Border Emergency Authority and it would still be quite a conservative bill, adding funds for normal enforcement and closing the asylum loophole among other beneficial things. The biggest issue with the BEA is that it sunsets after 3 years so it's only really meant to be used for the current surge, but opponents of the bill keep neglecting to mention that since it screws with their narrative that the BEA is a permanent bad thing.

Despite those restrictions, under the current numbers Biden would be required to use the authority. This would have been a win-win for those who want enforcement. Either he uses the authority and gets illegal immigration under control, which would be good, or he wriggles out of using it, providing fodder for Republicans to say we need an even more draconian measure to stop illegal immigration.

The bill was basically a tactical retreat in a losing war.

Surely you mean a tactical victory in a losing war?

The correct play was to put the election on immigration as a major issue and try to get support to change the entire system.

How would not passing the bill come closer to that goal?

I can already see it now:

Trump: Biden has been terrible for the border!

Biden: What do you mean, I tried to fix the border but you wouldn't let me!

The result: Nobody's mind is changed. Then maybe Trump wins, he tries more executive orders, but they keep getting mutilated by the courts as they did in his first term.

PR doesn't end with just public facing statements. For example, if an organization is established to help the poor but all the workers openly hate poor people, that's a PR issue since news organizations or even just the poor people themselves would eventually realize how much the organization loathed them.

And again, Trump's loathing of illegal immigrants has never been a secret by any means.

  • -12

How to square this with something like @gattsuru’s recent post (and follow-up)? He starts from the assumption that Republicans are, in fact, no longer interested in compromise

I agree, they're obviously not interested in compromise, and in some cases it's for good reasons. That said, even if this bill just added the text about amending asylum rules to the official US laws, this bill would have been worth it. Dealing with asylum stuff is something Trump struggled against for his entire presidency, and he kept failing due to the courts ruling that EO's couldn't override rules of Congress. Had this bill passed, then at least any EO's Trump would enact in his next potential administration would carry much more weight.

When you add in the rest of the bill and compare it to the paltry concessions given to Democrats, the choice to pass it should have been obvious even if the Democrats tried to stonewall it in some (or many) ways.

I suspect that relying on Trump’s branding is a strategic blunder. No, it’s relying on one man in general.

Couldn't agree more. Candidates should be avatars of the people to enact desired policies. Trump was plausibly this sort of person in 2016 which is why I voted for him then, but he's since proven that he's really not up to the task. The Republican base should have dumped him for Desantis or some other candidate in the 2020 primary. Sure, all candidates have problems, but if they didn't do what was wanted then they should have been dumped too, and the base should have kept dumping candidates until somebody actually enacted policies. Instead, the Republican party has effectively turned into a cult of personality since many Republicans' only barometer of candidate quality is "how much he makes leftists seethe".

I think the Trump strategy is to gamble everything on a big win in the upcoming elections.

I addressed this in my paragraph before the last section. Not only does Trump need to win, he'd almost certainly need a trifecta. The odds of this are somewhere between 20-50% based on prediction markets, and any bill they'd be able to clinch would likely only be 10-20% more conservative in the best plausible outcomes. Then, it'd have to pass the final hurdle of Trump actually caring enough to do it. He didn't accomplish any major legislation on the issue even when he had a trifecta and instead focused on other priorities and only did EO's on immigration.

In terms of getting an enduring compromise, it'd almost certainly be easier if they started with this bill, and then just extended it, possibly adding to it slightly if possible. "Hey, remember that bipartisan immigration bill that fixed the border crisis? Let's just extend that" is a pretty easy sell. Even if Trump gets his trifecta and wanted to pass immigration reform, if history is any guide then Trump would screw it up in the long term by doing something like calling it the Subhuman Infestation Removal Act, Democrats would freak out, and they'd revoke it the next time they're in power.

You call his decision self-serving, but from a game theory perspective that's the whole point.

Sure, I understand why Trump is doing it. What I don't like is that the Republican base is just going along with it. They're so enamored with Trump's vibes that they're willing to sacrifice easy, concrete policy wins.

If illegal immigration got worse after Biden undid Trump's policies, why can't Biden just redo them?

Again, he could redo them. He could (and should) reimplement Remain in Mexico to at least reduce the current surge somewhat.

But they're mere bandaids because they don't address the root issues, the most major one being the asylum loophole. The best long term fix would be to remove the asylum loophole, which Trump tried to do but failed since he wasn't willing to do more than executive orders on immigration. Remain in Mexico would be better than the status quo, but it would still be subject to periodic legal challenges, as well as Mexico deciding they don't want to keep all these people and helping them enter the US.

Illegal immigrants!

Sure, illegal immigrants. The point is that calling them things like "animals", or saying they're "coming from shithole countries" is needlessly inflammatory if the goal is to pass substantive policy.

The provisions that Republicans want are temporary. The provisions that Democrats want are forever.

All of the provisions that the Democrats received were minor, and they were (as far as I can tell) all temporary, either because they directly expired like the 50K more legal immigrants for 5 years, or because they were minor carveouts in the things Republicans wanted which would expire themselves.

The bill hands Democrats exactly what they want, and enshrines a permanent increase in "legal" unrestricted immigration forever.

Blatantly false. The increase in legal immigration had an expiration date of 5 years. Check the bill summary or even the full text if you think I'm wrong.

Democrats have been calling for years to have an asylum "express lane" where even if the conditions are stricter on paper, anyone coached to tell the right lies will breeze right through the process to a "legal" path to permanent residency and citizenship.

This is what's basically happened in the status quo with Catch and Release, something that the bill would have ended.

If Biden wanted to cut down on illegal immigration, he could do it now, without any additional Congressional authority.

I addressed this in the post. To summarize, yes, he could fix it now, to at least some degree. Reimplementing the Remain in Mexico would help. The problem with all of these fixes though is that they're bandaids on bullet holes that don't address fundamental issues like this bill would have.

The Obama administration began counting repeated deportations of the same immigrant as multiple deportations. This was well-known at the time and confounds a simple analysis. Moreover, you neglect to discuss DACA.

His hawkishness was specifically a reference to this chart. Yes, Obama was also more willing to give amnesty than Republicans ever were.

The "shithole countries" remark was not something Trump said in public as part of a "PR" strategy. It was something allegedly said in a closed meeting. Are you saying that Trump is responsible for rumors about him?

Multiple people referenced the exact same remark shortly after the meeting was over, so I think it's safe to assume he really said it. If you want to keep contesting that specific statement, just choose any of his other ones. His hostile rhetoric towards immigrants wasn't exactly a secret.

So what? You were arguing just a few paragraphs ago that these policies don't matter! Trump's policies didn't do anything, because Obama was better, but then Biden undoes Trump's policies, which makes everything worse!

The overarching point on Trump was that his policies were bombastic and good at catching headlines, but that they didn't do much in practice. Comparing the number of illegal immigrant border encounters during Trump's term and Obama's second term is quite similar. Biden was worse than both of them because he tried to go back to Obama's policies, but by then the asylum loophole was well known.

I can grant that in a theoretical alternate universe where Trump didn't do anything on the border, immigration could have surged far worse than it did due to exogenous factors and immigrants catching on to the loophole faster, so Trump's actions might have stopped a surge that would have happened. It's tough to know for sure, but it's plausible.

The reason he did this was as obvious as it was cynical: he didn’t want Biden to have a “win” on the issue.

This is reading Trump's mind.

Multiple senators such as Tillis said this was the reason. Trump himself motioned at the idea on Truth Social when he said he didn't want to "absolve" the Democrats on the issue.

it really makes me question your ability to digest evidence

I just think you're not very astute.

Can it the personal attacks. I enjoy debating people who disagree with me because I think it makes my arguments stronger, but I've had problems in the past with you reverting to personal attacks.

The time when Trump sabotaged immigration restrictions, and the alt-right cheered

I’ve long held that most of politics is overwhelmingly dominated by some combination of 1) direct self-interest, and 2) vibes. Any notions of ideological consistency should be regarded as mere “happy accidents” rather than the norm. In the US, this issue cuts roughly equally across both parties. One particularly stark example happened a few months ago with immigration. In short, Trump sabotaged the most conservative immigration reform bill in a generation for blatantly self-serving reasons. This directly contradicts what many of his more hardline alt-right supporters want, yet instead of punishing him for doing this, they actively cheered him on. They simply like Trump’s vibes far more than they like Biden’s vibes, so they convinced themselves that the bill was akin to “surrender” through extremely strained logic.

This episode is rapidly fading from public memory given that the bill didn’t pass, but it’s such a great encapsulation of vibes-based motivated reasoning that I feel it should be highlighted before it’s forgotten completely.

Illegal immigration so far

The chart here shows migrant encounters at the US-Mexico border. While some slip through the cracks and are not counted, this still gives a good sense of the contours of illegal immigration over the past few presidential administrations.

  • Migrant numbers were quite high during the Bush years, with yearly peaks corresponding to agricultural labor needs.

  • Obama was quite hawkish on illegal immigration. Numbers were already decreasing from the Bush years, and the economic turmoil from the GFC brought numbers down further. Importantly though, Obama’s enforcement was instrumental in keeping numbers down even as the economy recovered.

  • Illegal immigration fell to its lowest point at the beginning of Trump’s term, but rapidly increased after that to meeting, then exceeding the numbers under Obama. Numbers crashed again at the onset of COVID.

  • Illegal immigration has exploded after Biden took office.

There are a couple of points worth noting here. The first is that while enforcement has an undeniable impact on illegal immigration numbers, exogenous factors should also be considered. Periods of economic prosperity in the US act as a “pull” for migrants, while recessions do the opposite. Likewise, civil turmoil in immigrant-sending countries can act as a “push” for migrants, while relative stability again does the opposite. That peak in May 2019 under Trump was due in part to a period of turbulence in Northern Triangle countries.

The second point worth noting is that Trump wasn’t really much better than Obama in countering illegal immigration, contrary to popular belief. This point deserves some elaboration.

Trump and Biden’s border policies

During Trump’s 2016 campaign, immigration was frequently at the forefront despite the historical lows of illegal immigrant activity. Upon ascending to the presidency, Trump at least tried to keep his promise. He signed the infamous “Muslim Ban” in his first week, suspending entry for citizens from 7 predominantly Muslim countries from entering the country for 90 days. He would continue with additional policies throughout his presidency, including preventing sanctuary cities from receiving federal grants, phasing out DACA, implementing a zero-tolerance policy and family separation at the border, creating new restrictions for who could apply for asylum, and many others.

The problem with all of these was that they were executive orders. Executive orders require less political capital to implement since they don’t have to go through congress, but they’re far more brittle and subject to legal challenges or revocation when a president of a different party comes to power. Indeed, practically all of Trump’s EO’s on immigration faced stiff legal hurdles. The Muslim Ban was rejected by courts twice, and only a watered down version passed on the third attempt. The family separation policy and restrictions on asylum were similarly watered down heavily. The policies on sanctuary cities and the phaseout of DACA were basically killed entirely.

Another issue with Trump’s implementation is that it was done with little tact. Any sort of reform will encounter pushback, with bigger changes tending to lead to more of a backlash. This can be mollified somewhat by a good PR campaign. Indeed, the ability to push through substantial reforms without angering huge swathes of the country can be seen as one of the key skills of a successful politicians. Trump and his team did not do a very good job of this. Few efforts were made to get buy-in from moderates. Instead, Trump’s modus operandi was typically controversial unilateral action, followed by doubling down with rhetoric like “shithole countries” that may have flattered his base, but was very poorly received among Democrats and independents. Trump had this problem in many more areas than just immigration, as Scott Alexander noted in 2018.

The end result was that while Trump certainly talked up his immigration policies as successes, most of them were little more than PR stunts. Illegal immigration surged substantially every year for the first three years of his presidency and peaked in 2019 at a level far higher than what Obama ever had. Likewise, legal immigration measured by the number of lawful permanent residents added per year was basically the same as during Obama’s presidency, only dipping substantially in 2020 with the onset of COVID. Furthermore, all of the hostile rhetoric Trump used created a backlash that (at least partially) helped propel Biden to the White House in 2020, and ensured he had a clear mandate to roll back Trump’s policies.

And that’s exactly what Biden did. In his first day in office, he axed the majority of Trump’s executive orders with the stroke of a pen. The first 100 days of Biden’s presidency were defined by “undoing Trump” in practically every area, and in terms of immigration that meant less hostility, fewer rules, and a more welcoming attitude. Cracks began to show almost immediately as illegal immigration soared, and then kept soaring month after month. It surpassed Trump’s worst month, and then kept climbing even higher before settling at a rate unseen in at least the past 3 administrations. December 2023 marked the worst month at nearly 250K encounters, with several preceding months having >200K encounters. For reference, Obama’s second term only saw a brief period above 50K encounters before declining to a steady-state of around 30K-40K encounters.

This rapidly became a political liability for Biden. Despite deploying Kamala Harris with her infamous “do not come” speech, illegal immigration kept increasing and Biden seemed helpless to address it, effectively getting himself caught between a rock (giving fodder to Republicans) and a hard place (alienating his base, reneging on promises, etc.). Ominously, things only seemed to be getting worse. Biden tried to use Trump-era COVID restrictions to limit some immigration through Title 42, but COVID couldn’t be used as a justification forever. What’s more, Biden’s actions significantly worsened a loophole in the system through abuse of a particular asylum designation. This article discusses it in detail. To summarize:

  • When the DHS encounters an illegal immigrant, it has two options: standard removal, or expedited removal.

  • Standard removal requires a court case with lawyers present to give evidence, while expedited removal is a streamlined, unreviewable process meant to reduce the burden on the DHS and the court system.

  • Illegal immigrants can indicate they intend to apply for asylum by establishing “credible fear”. While the threshold to asylum is fairly high, the “credible fear” threshold is very low, which at least starts the process towards asylum and thereby prevents use of expedited removal.

  • While standard removal is ongoing, the US has 3 options for where to keep them: (1) Parole them out into the US, (2) keep them in ICE detention centers, or (3) kick them back to the country from which they entered from, i.e. Mexico.

Obama did (1), but apparently the loophole wasn’t well-known enough to be a huge issue yet. Trump tried to go after asylum directly, but those efforts mostly fizzled in court. He then tried to do (2), but this caused a huge overcrowding problem as detention centers weren’t built big enough to accommodate the huge influx. After some bad press, he tried to do (3), which sort of worked when courts weren’t throwing spanners into the works, which they did frequently. Biden reverted back to (1), but now it was well-known that you could come to America illegally, utter the magic words “credible fear”, and you’d be let out into the community. Some derisively referred to this as “catch and release”. From this point, some immigrants simply didn’t show up to their court hearing, while others received court dates so far in the future (up to a decade or longer in some cases) that it didn’t matter. This became a vicious cycle, as more immigrants abused this loophole it clogged the courts further and further making the loophole more effective, which further incentivized anyone who wanted to come to the US to give it a try due to this One Crazy Trick ICE Doesn’t Want You To Know About.

The Senate compromise deal

After a few years of spiraling migration problems, it became clear that the center could not hold. Biden capitulated and signaled that he was willing to give concessions to Republicans to get immigration back under control. This willingness coalesced around the same time that an important foreign aid package was being discussed, with some Republicans stretching credulity a bit when they claimed that illegal immigration was functionally indistinguishable from Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Thus, the idea of a “compromise” bill was born, where Biden would give in to Republican demands on immigration in order to get his foreign aid passed. This came to the fore in late January and early February of 2024.

You can read the full text of the bill here, but non-lawyers trying to read actual bills written in thick legalese is like trying decipher jabberwocky growls. A much more scrutable summary is available here.

Division A is all about the foreign aid. This chunk would eventually be passed in April in a standalone vote.

Division B is the immigration part. This was primarily negotiated by Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma. Notably, this would have been the first major immigration reform bill (NOT executive order!) passed since Reagan. Everything else since then has been done through unilateral presidential action or the courts. Since this would have had the backing of Congress, its provisions were quite sweeping compared to the piecemeal efforts that came before. It:

  • Includes billions of dollars for immigration enforcement, including money for detention centers, 2700 new border agents, asylum case officers to break the vicious cycle, deportation flights, etc. It’s hard to understate how much money this bill would have ladled on to border protections, with the biggest increases going to the usual agencies like ICE and CBP, with smaller chunks going to ones that I wasn’t even aware were part of border enforcement, like FEMA and the US Marshals Service. It also gives case officers a permanent 15% raise over the standard GS schedule of government pay.

  • Gives a bit of money to USAID for stanching immigration at its source, in the Northern Triangle countries and elsewhere.

  • Restarts and funds building of Trump’s wall, which Biden canceled early in his presidency.

  • Modernizes border infrastructure generally, such as adding more sophisticated monitoring equipment and accepting fingerprint cards or biometric submissions for use in immigrant processing. You know, things that would be nice to have given the last major immigration bill is almost 40 years old at this point.

  • Raises the threshold on “credible fear” substantially to actually close the loophole. Currently, credible fear is evaluated using the lower “significant possibility” standard.

  • Raises the threshold on asylum generally even after they pass the first hurdle, and it funnels as many cases as possible into the expedited removal process.

  • Ends “Catch and Release” and formalize the “Remain in Mexico” policy. Those who arrive at ports of entry are placed under government surveillance, while those who arrive between ports of entry are detained outright, with funding provided for new detainment beds.

  • Establishes an additional asylum bar if there are reasonable grounds to believe an individual could have internally relocated in their country of origin or country of last habitual residence, in lieu of seeking protection in the United States.

  • Creates a Border Emergency Authority, a “break in case of emergency” power if the border became overwhelmed. This requires the DHS to ignore all asylum requests except those that fall under the Convention Against Torture, which has a high bar. It also further streamlined the expulsion process, allowing for immediate deportation in a range of scenarios. There was to be no public notification for this authority to be enacted, so an immigrant arriving would never be sure if it was active or not. This is the closest the US would come to “closing the border” for an extended period of time that wasn’t due to a national emergency like what happened after the JFK assassination or 9/11. To prevent this emergency tool from simply becoming the new normal, the Authority could only be activated if border encounters exceeded 4000 over a 7 day period. Conversely, it also prevents abuse in the other direction, i.e. a president deciding never to activate it, as it would be required if there were 5000 border encounters over a 7 day period. Note that border encounters were far higher than 5000 when the bill was being debated, so Biden would have had no choice on the matter.

  • Does NOT include any significant amnesty, even for DREAMers. Almost every serious attempt at reforming immigration had previously settled on the compromise of amnesty for current illegal immigrants in return for enforcement at the border. The most recent major attempt at immigration reform under the Gang of Eight did exactly this. Trump himself acknowledged this political reality in his first State of the Union address in 2018 when he came out in favor of giving amnesty for DREAMers. The fact that this is nowhere to be found in this bill is a significant implicit concession.

There are also a handful of concessions to the Democrats:

  • Allows processing and conditional permanent residence for Afghan collaborators.

  • Authorizes an additional 50,000 immigrant visas each year for the next five fiscal years.

  • Establishes a carveout in some of the rules above for unaccompanied minors, which in 2024 have made up <5% of all encounters.

  • The Border Emergency Authority requires a lower limit of 4000 encounters per day as discussed above, so a future Republican president wouldn’t be able to use it as the new normal unless there was an actual emergency. It also sunsets after 3 years unless renewed.

  • Republicans likely wanted restrictions on all asylum claims, but Dems kept a carveout for the Convention Against Torture.

Those concessions are really tiny. The last 3 bullet points are just minor restrictions on the new powers that would be in place. Only the first 2 bullet points are concessions in any meaningful sense. Helping Afghans who collaborated with the US is a one-off now that the war is over, and is a good idea since the US doesn’t want to get a reputation of abandoning those who help it. The 50K new legal immigrants a year is time-limited to 5 years, and is much, much less than the status quo of 200k+ illegal immigrants per month that is happening now. Heck, it would have only been 2-3 months worth of illegal immigrants encountered under average Trump or Obama years, so it’s a very small price to pay.

The bill received endorsement from the National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents Border Patrol agents, endorsed the proposal and said it would drop illegal border crossings nationwide. The group in 2020 endorsed in Trump and has been highly critical of Biden’s border policies.

It’s also interesting to compare this bill to the Border Coalition Letter that was submitted to Congress in 2022. This letter was sent on behalf of a bunch of conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, Conservative Partnership Institute, and several that I’ve never heard of, like the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which the SPLC classifies as a hate group. The letter demanded exclusion of amnesty of any type, creating an Authority to immediately expel illegal immigrants, increase restrictions on asylum, mandate resources for the border wall, increase funding for the CBP and ICE, end the abuse of parole authority. The bill shares a striking resemblance to this letter. Granted, it doesn’t do everything, as there are a few carveouts for stuff like asylum under the Convention Against Torture, and the letter also asks for states to overrule the federal government when it comes to border enforcement (something that Texas has been motioning towards recently). But overall, the bill does the vast majority of what was asked for by some of the most conservative immigration groups in the country.

Trump swoops in

So yeah. Trump blew it all up.

The reason he did this was as obvious as it was cynical: he didn’t want Biden to have a “win” on the issue. He wanted to keep the issue in the news as a liability for Biden so he would have a greater chance at winning in November. He didn’t exactly keep his motivations secret. Nor was this the first border bill that Trump sabotaged. The overturning of Roe v Wade is instructive here, as it was a major “dog catches the car” moment. Republicans loved to campaign on restricting abortion, but when the Supreme Court actually handed them the chance to do so, they quickly realized the costs it would entail. What had once been a rallying cry for conservatives turned into a liability, and now the Democrats have the wind at their back on the issue. Why do the same for immigration by actually enacting favorable policies?

Of course, it’s not helpful to be openly cynical to your supporters, so the official reason that Trump, Gaetz, and many others trotted out to oppose the bill related to the Border Emergency Authority. In essence, they boiled the entire bill down to that upper limit threshold of 5000 illegal immigrants per day. The extra enforcement, the money for border agents, the restarting of the wall construction, the closing of the asylum loophole, the end of Catch and Release? None of that mattered. It was all boiled down to that 5000 number that you’ll see repeated over and over again in Republican criticisms of the bill. What’s worse is that this number is presented as a capitulation to Democrats rather than a ceiling on the use of a draconian new power granted in a heavily conservative bill. It’s presented as if the bill mandates open borders for the first 5000 illegal immigrants every day, and only then begins to enforce some border policies. This is so laughably, bafflingly wrong that it defies belief.

Obviously the bill isn’t perfect. There are legitimate criticisms that could be levied. For instance, Republicans could say that Democrats shouldn’t get any new legal immigration in exchange for fixing the law, even the paltry 50K number that the bill would mandate. But actually analyzing the bill to any serious degree would quickly show how conservative it is, so Republican leaders mischaracterized the bill so heavily that I’d say most reasonable people would classify it as “outright lying”.

In the world of Republican vibes, there’s the idea that conservatives are always the suckers when it comes to immigration. The idea is that Reagan’s bill was supposed to fix the issue, but the Democrats skillfully reneged on their promise. There’s also the idea of the ratchet, that Republicans will compromise with Democrats, and Democrats will get a bunch of concessions but won’t actually fulfill their end of of the bargain, either because the Republicans are RINOs who don’t actually care about limiting immigration, or because the true-believer Republicans are simply outmaneuvered. Then in the next round of dealmaking, more concessions will be given, and on and on it goes until America is overrun with illegals. For example, in the first deal, “illegal aliens” are reclassified as “illegal immigrants”, and amnesty is provided for, say, 3M of them in return for enforcement of the border laws. Then the enforcement doesn’t happen, ten years go by, and another round of negotiations happens. This time “illegal immigrants” is changed to “undocumented persons” and now we need to give amnesty to the first 3M AND the 5M that arrived since then, but in exchange now we’ll totally have enforcement… pinky promise! And then it doesn’t happen again and… you get the picture.

There’s a kernel of truth to that idea, although it’s obviously extremely oversimplified and lacking in nuance. That said, those vibes are powerful enough that compromise is thoroughly delegitimized for the Republican rank-and-file. Trump’s uncompromising vibes in 2016 is a large part of what won him the Republican primary. He sustained those vibes through his presidency with his bombastic executive orders that drove news headlines but did little to fix the underlying issues. Trump used those vibes again to kill this bill, as all he had to do was vaguely point to the 5000 number in the bill, imply that was a concession, and the bill was effectively dead no matter what it actually would have done.

Other concerns with the bill

While the misrepresenting the 5000 number in regards to the Border Emergency Authority was the most frequent criticism by far, there were a couple other, less goofy criticisms that deserve examining.

The first is that Biden already had the tools to solve the border crisis, and therefore this bill wasn’t necessary. This is typically paired with vibey “Republicans cooperate, Democrats defect” arguments that I detailed in the previous section, i.e. that the bill must have been a “trap” of some sort. Vibes aside, there is some degree of truth to this. As we saw earlier in this article, Biden’s policies were indeed principally responsible for the recent explosion in illegal immigration. Probably the clearest remedy would be reimplementing the Remain in Mexico policy that has been shambling along, half dead. Biden attempted to kill this policy early in his presidency, and courts initially agreed he could do so, until they didn’t, so the policy is technically still alive. Reimplementing this would take at least some of the wind out of the vicious cycle in regards to the asylum loophole, although there would still be the omnipresent specter of legal threats, and now Mexico has said it will refuse to cooperate.

The issue with this idea is that even if Biden were to reimplement all of Trump’s executive orders, they still amounted to little more than a bandaid on a bullet hole. Critics of the bill are technically correct in pointing out that there was less blood before Biden ripped off the bandaid, but it’s ludicrous to then assume that the bandaid was all that was ever needed. US immigration law and border enforcement is fundamentally broken in a number of ways, and this bill would have gone a long way in addressing the worst problems. Recall that Trump himself tried to go after asylum laws directly, but his efforts mostly fizzled in the courts.

Another criticism that was sometimes levied is that Republicans should simply hold out for Trump to become president to truly fix immigration. Again, this typically came packaged with vibey concerns that any deal with Democrats must necessarily imply some ratcheting of concessions, and thus the only way to address the issue is unilateral Republican action, headed by a true-believer like Trump. To steelman this idea, the idea that the political capital to solve illegal immigration would evaporate if the issue was successfully mitigated is a sound one. Democrats were only willing to come to the table in the first place due to the extremely tenuous position they found themselves in with the surge of illegal immigration. This bill almost certainly would have solved that surge, which would give Trump less of a mandate to take drastic action if he wins in November.

The most obvious retort to this idea is that Trump is by no means guaranteed to win in November. As of the time of writing, prediction markets give Trump a 47% chance of winning, which we can round up to 50%. This essentially means the Republicans are gambling on a “double or nothing” approach, but even this prospect is unsteady. For starters, how much more could Trump deliver in excess of this bill, even under the best plausible conditions? HR2 is instructive here, which passed the House in 2023 but is not likely to advance any further in the current Congress. As such, it’s essentially a conservative wishlist on immigration. It is indeed stronger than the Senate bill, but it’s not massively stronger. I’d say instead of “double or nothing” it’s more like “10-20% more or nothing”, which has decidedly less of a ring to it. Furthermore, Democratic willingness to capitulate has an expiration date. If the moment isn’t gone already, then it’d definitely be gone when Trump takes office for a second time, which would mean he’d require control of both the House and the Senate to push through a stronger bill. Prediction markets currently give a 74% chance for Republicans to clinch the Senate, which we can round up to 75%, and a 44% chance to win control of the House, which we can again round up to 50%. If results from the races were perfectly independent, simple statistics shows us that Republicans only have <20% chance of achieving a trifecta. Granted, the races almost certainly won’t be uncorrelated with each other, but this still establishes a lower bound of likelihood. In essence, Republicans are gambling at 20-50% odds that they’ll be able to get a bill that’s 10-20% better. Even this is still underselling it, since it would have to go through one major final hurdle: Trump himself. Republicans already had a trifecta from 2017-2019, yet Trump chose not to prioritize immigration other than through flimsy executive orders. Who’s to say he wouldn’t choose to do so again?

The upshot

I’m sure some people will dismiss everything I’ve written here as concern trolling. They’ll assume I’m secretly a Democratic operative who wants to sow discord amongst Republicans. In reality, I’m just someone who actually wants to get immigration under control. Immigration can be a source of strength, but it must be harnessed very carefully to not cause major problems.

This bill represented the most conservative major immigration reform in a generation that actually had a chance at passing, and Donald Trump killed it for purely cynical reasons. This single bill would have done more than every one of Trump’s executive orders put together. Anyone who’s been seriously watching him knows that he’s utterly self-serving, but what was truly revolting was how the anti-immigration wing of the Republican party not only let him get away with it, but actively cheered him on. It’ll likely be totally forgotten too, wrongly dismissed as nothing more than another Democratic trap.

The worst part of the bill was that many of its provisions weren’t permanent. Some parts like closing the asylum loophole were, but the funding for extra agents would eventually run out. Similarly, other provisions like the incoherently reviled Border Emergency Authority were due to sunset in 3, 5, or 10 years. But the correct response would have been for Republicans to reach out at this golden opportunity with both hands and grasp as hard as they could. Then, they should have fought future battles to ensure the provisions were made permanent. Instead, they squandered a period of maximal Democratic vulnerability on the issue, when the Dems were not only willing to give concessions but were actively asking for them.

Illegal immigration has cooled a bit since its apex in December of 2023. In the CBP’s most recent report from March, encounters are down by 45%. This is still massively elevated from where it was before, but it will at least allow Biden to claim he’s on top of the issue. It seems he’s doing this with ad-hoc fixes, like making deals with intermediate countries that are unlikely to really solve much long-term. In killing the bill, Trump has likely undercut one of his attack vectors against Biden somewhat. When pressed in a debate about the issue, Biden can say “I tried to fix it, but you wouldn’t let me”. In the end, few peoples’ minds will be changed, and the most likely outcome no matter who becomes president is that the US continues muddling along with the status quo on immigration, which means more bandaids and can-kicking. In the off chance that an immigration reform bill actually does pass, it will likely be far less conservative than this bill would have been.

This gets at the heart of it. It's not that it's unusual to rate people by attractiveness, as everyone does that implicitly if not outright explicitly. But people still don't like that it occurs, and some people will be rated lower which when combined with humanity's natural "MUST PROTECT WOMEN" impulse creates situations like this, where an entire country explodes at the very normal behavior of some random adolescent boys.

I'm coming here from the QC thread, and I must agree that this is an absolutely fantastic post. I was wondering why the gender divide was so huge in Korea, and this answered it quite nicely.

How did you get this info? Are you Korean yourself? Do you have friends that live there? Or is this all from reading articles/online discussion boards?

The bill barely does anything to eliminate asylum.

The bill eliminates a huge loophole with asylum...

At this point I think we're just talking in circles so I'm going to bow out.

I'm pretty big into the political scene, and I haven't heard of any major campaigns using Reddit bots to any degree. There's two problems. The first is the tradeoff between price and effectiveness, where cheap stuff isn't particularly effective and effective stuff isn't cheap (at least relative to traditional advertisements). The second problem is that it's against ToS so most strategists and consultants shy away from it. It would be pretty obvious if they used typical campaign advertisements and just had bots upvoting them, so to get around that they'd need a second ecosystem of secret internet-only advertisements which would make costs balloon further. What you're saying isn't wrong, but I just haven't seen it happen to any real degree.

Microtargeting has been tried a lot but is just not effective.

"I have a great, on-topic and timely post to share with this reddit community, but my account is too new. I'm going to purchase an account with a pre-existing history so I can share this incredible post with a community that I have no pre-existing engagement with."

I didn't say anything like that so I don't know where you got that.

Spotting accounts like this harvesting karma is like spotting people who are in the middle of getting their robbery tools ready

Comparing Reddit upvotes to burglars ransacking peoples' homes is laughably hyperbolic. Again, I've only ever seen these bots end up either 1) getting banned, or 2) advertising for porn on NSFW subs, which is fine. The assumption that they have to be doing something bad doesn't really hold up to the benign results I've seen.

The Motte tried to actually avoid breaking the rules of Reddit, and we split because we knew that not actually breaking the rules wasn't going to be a defence against the eye of Sauron

I was referring to rules as they're enforced. Reddit's rules might be fine if applied evenly, but they're still problematic with how they're enforced.

When people say "close the border" with no conditions, it usually implies they want to close the border unconditionally, like for military or pandemic reasons. When people are just talking about illegal immigrants, they can pretty easily specify "we should do something about illegal immigration.

When people say "close the border" they typically mean closing it to all traffic entirely which would be utterly silly. There's tons of trade that goes between the border, and plenty of American nationals come and go all the time.

I agree the asylum stuff is BS, but again, this bill does crack down on much of that. I'm fine with a few statistically irrelevant dissidents coming through if they're seeking to evade persecution from a genuinely authoritarian government torturing them, but I'm not fine with people fraudulently claiming they're a refugee for essentially no reason, which is what a lot of the economic migrants are doing now.

Even if you think all asylum should be ended, surely no asylum > a little asylum > a lot of asylum. So I don't know why you'd oppose the bill.

nobody is going to buy or create a fake account because they want to do something good for the original community.

I don't think this is necessarily true. Reddit has a lot of silly or dumb rules... that's part of why this site decided to separate in the first place! I'm fine with Onlyfans sloots slinging their wares on the proper subreddits if that's what they want to do, and I really haven't seen much of an issue with pornspam on unrelated subs. All purchased accounts that I saw advertised on NSFW subs.

I'll believe political manipulation via bought accounts is a problem when I see actual evidence, but so far it's mostly been lacking. At least, I don't think it's much of an issue in comparison to the stuff the Reddit admins themselves are already doing via biased moderation policies.

Why can’t we just have a clean bill that closes the border?

I presume you mean "close the border to illegal immigrants". I agree that would be the best, but it's like saying "why don't we make murder illegal". It already is illegal, it's just a question of enforcement. This bill would have beefed up enforcement.

You say the golden triangle. The south is richer than they have ever been. There is always going to be some excuse. America will always be richer than every where else so there will always be economic demand.

I presume you did an autocorrect error and meant to type "Northern Triangle", not golden triangle.

The causes I listed aren't excuses, they're explanations that lie on a continuum. It's like judging the performance of a CEO based solely on the stock price, when you really need to understand the whole underlying environment to make a proper judgement. If the company grew by 10% but the rest of the sector grew by 50%, the CEO probably screwed up. Similarly, extraneous factors affect enforcement at the border.

I prefer Trump over the bill because I know the bill does nothing when the wrong party is in power.

You keep saying this but that doesn't make it true. At the very least this bill would have given more money for enforcement and closed an obvious loophole that illegals were abusing to enter the country. If Biden actually used the bill to its full effect (which he said he would) then it would have done even more.

Right, these politically motivated reposts are interesting to me simply due to novelty so I wanted to investigate more, but alas it seems that the duplicated post with comments has been scrubbed.

Well, I know some subreddits ban accounts under a certain age, and Reddit likely has additional filters for accounts that come on and immediately start advertising for porn. Buying someone else's account that has at least some legitimate-looking activity probably goes a long way to evading that.

The Border Emergency Authority is a "break in case of emergency" tool that's specific to the crisis happening now. It sunsets in 3 years, so it won't be relevant if AOC takes office in a decade unless it's renewed. If it's not used then it would be no different than the status quo, but the rest of the bill expanding funding for border security and plugging asylum loopholes would still be in place. It's in no way formalizing that 5k migrants a day is "fine", it's simply a trigger when opaque and extraordinary measures can be taken.

Trump did NOT need to pass this bill to stop immigrant caravans.

Trump was really no better than Obama when it comes to border crossings. A lot of it is driven by the relative strength of the economy, but also by non-US factors like the state of Latin American countries especially in the Northern Triangle. Your answer of "Trump didn't need this" is exactly the handwavey "Biden Bad" thing I was talking about in my earlier post. The assumption you seem to be coming to is that the tougher laws are all just a ruse, that Biden must be doing something sneaky, but this is effectively unfalsifiable.

It’s toothless. If the POTUS is of the wrong party then the border is open.

This law doesn't open the border. If you think it does, you're fundamentally misunderstanding what the bill does.