Charles Laffiteau's Bigger Picture
In a startling reversal from his previous positions on illegal immigrants, US President Donald Trump has now decided he wants Congress to approve a comprehensive immigration reform bill that will provide a path to citizenship for the so-called ‘Dreamers’ who were brought to America as children, and also allow undocumented immigrants who have not been convicted of a crime to remain in America.
Under President Trump’s new proposal, millions of undocumented would no longer have to fear deportation so long as they stayed out of trouble, worked and paid taxes.
President Trump has also proposed some innovative new ideas to fund the building of his wall on the border with Mexico. Since there are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants who are not criminals currently living in America, President Trump wants to charge each of them $1,500 for a ‘grey card’ that would allow them to stay in America and avoid deportation. The $16bn in tax revenue would then be used to pay for the construction of Trump’s wall. Since the vast majority of such immigrants were born in Mexico, Trump can also claim Mexico is paying for the wall.
In the other part of his immigration reform package, President Trump wants to change the criteria for providing green card visas to a ‘merit- and investor-based’ immigration system loosely modelled on those used by Canada and Australia. The US currently awards green cards to around one million immigrants each year, but 65 per cent of these are given to family members sponsored by US citizens and other green card holders. Since only 15 per cent of green cards are awarded based on employer sponsorship, President Trump will raise much more revenue by increasing this figure to 50 per cent.
Because his proposal to offset an increase in military spending by reducing foreign aid is meeting with resistance in Congress, President Trump has come up with a novel way to fund defence spending: he will increase the number of highly skilled workers and investors who can afford to pay $100,000 or $1m apiece for green cards. Some $140bn would be raised by increasing the fee for an H-B1 visa for highly skilled workers to $100,000 and allowing a fivefold increase to 400,000 H-B1 visas, as well as a ten-fold increase in $1m EB-5 investor visas.
President Trump has also developed a raft of groundbreaking proposals to raise additional revenues to help pay for his corporate income tax cuts and increases in infrastructure spending. In addition to the savings they will realise from reducing their taxes, Trump plans to offer additional tax breaks to companies that repatriate the corporate profits they have been holding in overseas accounts. If these companies invest some of their extra profits in bonds used to finance infrastructure, Trump will give them tax credits that they can use to further reduce their taxes.
A number of inventive proposals for dealing with some of America’s foreign policy concerns are also being devised. In the Pacific region, President Trump recognised China’s claim to Taiwan and its ‘One China’ policy in return for approval of Trump’s decade old-application to trademark the ‘Trump’ brand in China. President Trump is now building on that recent goodwill by offering to recognise China’s claims on the South China Sea’s Spratly and Paracel Islands in return for approval of 77 previously registered Trump trademarks as well as 49 new ones.
President Trump has also been busy in the Middle East trying to shore up America’s standing in majority Muslim countries like Turkey. Before he was fired, President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn tried to reset America’s relationship with Turkey by currying favour with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Flynn wrote an op-ed for The Hill, a Washington DC political newspaper, that was critical of Erdogan’s latest nemesis Fethullah Gulen. Parroting Erdogan’s charges, Flynn accused Gulen of being a “shady Islamic mullah” and “radical Islamist”.
Improving America’s ties with Russia is also high on the Trump agenda, even though a key appointee in Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been taking heat from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress for failing to disclose meetings with Russia’s US Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. President Trump has to tread lightly here, given the concerns of America’s Nato allies about Russian interference in their elections, plus the investigation of links between members of the Trump presidential campaign and Russian officials.
However, behind the scenes, the Trump administration has been hard at work trying to resolve the differences that exist between Russia and the US and its European allies. President Trump has already ceased criticising Russia for its actions in both Syria and the eastern section of Ukraine, and has also offered to recognise Russia’s takeover of the Crimea in return for agreement to build a hotel in partnership with the Trump Organization. As part of the deal, Russian leader Vladimir Putin will be provided with a penthouse suite adjoining Trump’s own suite in the new building.
I should also note that President Trump has offered Putin the opportunity to become an investor in the Trump Organization’s real estate developments outside of Russia in return for an agreement to stop hacking the accounts of President Trump’s White House staff.
Oh, and by the way, since today is also April Fool’s Day, I guess this must also be an April Fool’s column. Or is it?
Charles Laffiteau is a US Republican from Dallas, Texas pursuing a career in public service. He previously lectured on Contemporary US Business & Society at DCU from 2009-2011 and pursued a PhD in Public Policy and Political Economy.