Harold Hutchison / April 24, 2018

Bluffing at the Border

The first 50 of as many as 1,500 refugees from a notorious caravan have reached the border.

The first 50 of as many as 1,500 refugees from a notorious caravan making its way through Mexico toward the United States have reached the border. According to some reports, they are claiming asylum. In a sense, they are all but saying they believe President Donald Trump’s tough talk about illegal immigration and securing the border was just talk — and they are calling what they see as a bluff.

Mexico, with its officials standing aside, also seems to think the same thing. President Trump responded by declaring that he might include demands on immigration and border security in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Specifically, Mexico may be forced to act against migrants passing through that country to the United States to keep NAFTA. This is leverage — the Art of the Deal as applied to NAFTA.

President Trump also instructed the Department of Homeland Security to deny the caravan entry into the U.S. The caravan did disperse to a degree after Trump deployed the National Guard to the border. In essence, these migrants found out he wasn’t bluffing. The problem is, we can’t indefinitely use soldiers and airmen for a job that requires more Border Patrol agents. The wall is part of that solution, and the $1.6 billion recently authorized for it is a start, but there are hundreds of miles of border wall to build.

Meanwhile, it’s obvious that some countries in Central and South America have real problems. Venezuela’s been run into the ground by dictators Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador have rampant violent crime. We can understand why people want out — and why they don’t want to wait for paperwork.

As of now, Mexico seems to be betting that either Democrats win Congress and can stymie the wall or that President Trump will back down. Trump is hoping that Mexico will give in with NAFTA on the line. In a sense, it is eyeball-to-eyeball on border security and immigration, and who blinks first could very well be determined by the midterm elections.

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