Borders among us
A Congressman was denied entrance to a child detention facility. Now he’s praising it
Rep. Jeff Denham was so pleased with a California immigrant detention facility Monday that he said he’d be willing to have his own children stay there... “It was well-kept, very clean and orderly, they had their own beds and two to a room,” Denham described to McClatchy in a phone call, as media were not permitted to join inside. “They go on weekly field trips and had just gone to a university this week.”
The irrepressibly tasteless Republican congressman, Jeff Denham, Somewhereinthe20th CD-CA, reminded us of former Merced County Supervisor Mike Bogna of Atwater, also a US Air Force man. Bogna, defending a wealthy sponsor, JR Wood, who had just sprayed Guthion during a heavy fog, which had caused an adjoining neighborhood to be evacuated, announced he would gladly drink a glass of the organophosphate fungicide to prove it wouldn't harm anyone.
Is there something about this region that makes people stupid? I mean, you look down south of Fresno and there's Rep. Devin Nunes in Visalia.
It could just be the air quality. Why would a guy with a 41-percent Hispanic district want to be an apologist for Immigration and Customs Enforcement for its Macedonian-Thug like policies?
Democrats have a three point edge in registration, possibly evened up by 3 percent for the American Independent Party; but then there is 21 percent that expresses no party preference. Hillary beat Trump by 2 points but Johnson (Libertarian) took 4 points and Jill Stein (Green) another 1.5 points. A little more than half of those eligible to vote voted.
Although the last poll shows Denham even with his opponent, Democrat Josh Harder, who, unlike Denham, actually is a native of the district, Harder will have to unify the Democrats of Stanislaus County in order to win. His Stanford-Harvard-Kennedy School education, however, may make that impossible because elite political ambition alone does not heal the wounds of primaries. And Denham has always had one great quality -- to our knowledge his only political quality -- excellent luck, beginning with his carpetbagging venture from Salinas in the state senate against one of Merced County's least popular politicians. Rusty Areias.
Meanwhile, history goes on beyond the Big Barn of Agribusiness we inhabit (and which owes so very, very much to illegal immigration across the US/Mexican border). Without it, for starters, there might be viable farmworker unions and decent wages for field work. And, of course, with that criminal system of human trafficking, which we used to call in a more innocent age, la coyoteada, has come the wholesale importation of narcotics and marijuana and the organization in the States of distribution gangs.
But, as they say, whenever nobody knows what to do, people say that we have to do something. And Trump's Wall and war against children are certainly somethings that demonstrate abundant ignorance.
We found this perceptive article by Shannon O'Neil in the Modesto Bee late last month. It's worth reading. -- blj
Shannon O'Neil: U.S., Mexico are facing inevitable blow-up
ON THE EVE of Mexico’s election, even before the National Electoral Institute called the results, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted congratulations to the presumptive victor, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The two leaders followed up the next day with a congenial phone call. The next week, three U.S. Cabinet secretaries, along with senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, headed to Mexico City to meet their counterparts and the president-elect.
The press and markets have taken these gestures as signs of more positive relations ahead. Don’t be too sure. These initial niceties paper over deep chasms in priorities, positions and domestic politics. A blow-up might not be far away.
Lopez Obrador’s recent letter to Trump shows how different his take is on what a promising bilateral relationship entails. The seven-page missive lays out his economic development plans for Mexico, in minute detail, and reflects his view that the solutions to bilateral challenges of migration, security and commerce depend on Mexico’s economic advancement.
It is safe to say Trump has little interest in ambitious plans to plant 2.5 million acres (1 million hectares) of trees in Mexico’s most poverty-ridden states, much less any inclination to help finance this venture. The same goes for Lopez Obrador’s infrastructure goals: refineries in Tabasco and Campeche, a bullet train from Cancun to Palenque or a rail corridor connecting the Pacific to the Atlantic across the southern Isthmus of Tehuantepec in a bid to rival the Panama Canal. This U.S. administration isn’t big on partnering on economic development. Look for Lopez Obrador to be turned down or ignored on the economic issues that matter most to him.
Likewise, he is unlikely to be the NAFTA partner Trump is looking for. Lopez Obrador supports keeping the 25-year-old free trade agreement, recognizing the benefits for investment.
There is also little common ground on Central American migration. The United States has pushed for a safe third-country agreement, which would force Central Americans passing through Mexico to apply there for asylum.
While this would largely solve the U.S. problem — border agents could turn back every man, woman and child seeking refuge — there is less than nothing in it for Mexico. The new government would struggle to process tens if not hundreds of thousands of refugee applications and to build the infrastructure and camps required to house desperate Central Americans — a crisis potentially overwhelming Lopez Obrador’s young presidency. And the Trump administration looks unwilling to provide the billions of dollars Europe has used to gain Turkey’s acquiescence to a similar deal. Instead, it is still fighting Congress for billions for a border wall.
The two leaders are equally at odds about how to lessen these migration flows over time. Lopez Obrador calls for a comprehensive regional economic development plan to attack the root causes of migration. Trump has proposed cutting such aid to Central America by nearly $200 million, or 30 percent, each of the last two years.
Diplomatically, cooperation on an imploding Venezuela (let alone Nicaragua or Cuba) is also about to fade, as Mexico’s new leadership reverts to a more traditional hands-off international approach. Washington won’t be pleased.
Of course, few traditional allies have remained in the U.S. president’s good graces. Just ask Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Germany’s Angela Merkel, Japan’s Shinzo Abe and France’s Emmanuel Macron. As the 2020 elections approach, Trump will be tempted once again to demonize Mexico. With his own base to feed, Lopez Obrador will be hard-pressed not to respond in kind.
True, the deepening partnership of the past 25 years has been more an anomaly than a norm. Yet even during past disagreements, despite mutual suspicions and distrust, the two nations have found ways to work together. If a standoff between presidents leads back to a more institutional relationship, away from the personalization of the past year and a half between Jared Kushner and outgoing foreign minister Luis Videgaray, that, too, may set the relationship on a steadier path. Just don’t expect it to be better.
Shannon K. O’Neil is a senior fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, She wrote this for Bloomberg Opinion.