TL(PM) DIGEST: Going back to the border
Plus college grads flee expensive coastal metropolises, a possible new arms deal between Moscow and Tehran, and Biden touts apprenticeship programs
1. Illegal border crossings drop by half the weekend after pandemic restrictions lifted, Biden administration says
What happened? Illegal crossings of the U.S.-Mexico border are down roughly 50 percent since the Biden administration dropped pandemic-related measures last Thursday, Department of Homeland Security officials say. “It is still way too early to draw any firm conclusions” from the policy change, top DHS border policy official Blas Nuñez-Neto said.
Why does it matter? The anticipated surge in illegal border crossings does not appear to have materialized after pandemic restrictions and policies were lifted late last week, and interviews with migrants by the Washington Post indicate that warnings about tougher new policies appear to have reached their intended audience. As Biden administration officials argue, however, it’s too early to say whether this decline in illegal crossings will persist.
TLP’s take: It’s a relief that the end of pandemic-era restrictions hasn’t yet produced the surge in illegal border crossings virtually everyone predicted—including Biden—before they were lifted. But the Biden administration still needs to formulate an adequate and rational immigration policy that lets more skilled workers into the country while exercising greater control over the border and reducing dangerous illegal crossings.
2. College-educated Americans leaving the biggest blue cities
What happened? The New York Times provides a detailed analysis of Census data finding that “years after lower-wage residents have been priced out of expensive coastal metros, higher-paid workers are now turning away from them, too.”
Why does it matter? As the Times analysis shows:
For most of this century, large metros with a million residents or more have received all of the net gains from college-educated workers migrating around the country, at the expense of smaller places. But among those large urban areas, the dozen metros with the highest living costs—nearly all of them coastal—have had a uniquely bifurcated migration pattern: As they saw net gains from college graduates, they lost large numbers of workers without degrees.
At least, that was true until recently. Now, large, expensive metros are shedding both kinds of workers.
TLP’s take: The COVID pandemic revealed serious deficiencies in many large metro areas for middle-class and professional Americans, deficiencies long bemoaned by working-class families: these cities are absurdly expensive and economically segregated, offer poor public services and schools along with high taxes, and have serious crime and public safety issues. One-party Democratic rule in most of these big cities has not led to outcomes worth crowing about—no wonder people with job options and economic means are moving to more affordable, safe, and enjoyable environments.
3. Tehran set to increase military aid to Russia
What happened? Biden administration officials say Iran is looking to expand its military support to Russia moving forward, having supplied Moscow with some 400 drones since last August. In return for its assistance, Tehran reportedly seeks Russian attack helicopters, radars, and training aircraft.
Why does it matter? Any wider military partnership between Tehran and Moscow threatens both to inflict greater suffering on ordinary Ukrainians and further alter the balance of power in the Gulf region. Iran has already purchased top-line Su-35 fighters from Moscow, though the delivery of these aircraft remains up in the air.
TLP’s take: Iran’s support for Russia’s war against Ukraine demonstrates that Tehran poses a wider threat to international security and stability, even if it ultimately lacks the sort of power and influence that other global players possess. This latest rumored agreement only shows that the authoritarian alignment between Moscow and Tehran looks set to deepen over time.
4. President Biden emphasizing importance of good jobs and apprenticeships for working-class Americans
What happened? The New York Times also reports on the burgeoning effort by President Biden to stress job-creation and apprenticeship measures in his signature legislative accomplishments, aimed at those who don’t want or need to go to traditional four-year college programs.
Why does it matter? Most Americans lack a college degree, so it’s critical to ensure that enough decent paying jobs and opportunities exist to sustain them and their families. President Biden is making this a central pitch in his re-election effort:
Now, in speeches around the country, Mr. Biden rarely speaks about his signature piece of legislation, a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, without also emphasizing that it will lead to trade apprenticeships and, ultimately, union jobs.
“Let’s offer every American a path to a good career whether they go to college or not, like the path you started here,” Mr. Biden said at the trades institute, referring to its apprenticeship program.
The White House says apprenticeship programs, which typically combine some classroom learning with paid on-the-job experience, are crucial to overcoming a tight labor market and ensuring that there is a sufficient work force to turn the president’s sprawling spending plan into roads, bridges and electric vehicle chargers.
Mr. Biden has offered incentives for creating apprenticeships, with hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants for states that expand such programs.
TLP’s take: The Democratic Party desperately needs to shed the cultural baggage of its college-educated upper echelons and appeal more directly to working-class voters across the country, and these efforts by President Biden to offer concrete support for non-college educated Americans are a big step in the right direction. A Democratic campaign focused mostly on creating secure economic foundations for all working-class families is just what’s needed to improve Biden’s chances in critical battleground states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan—all vital to his re-election effort.
Just one more thing…
Eww: ancient Egyptian soldiers took severed hands of their enemies as trophies of war, at least during the time of the Hyksos dynasty that ruled the country from around 1640 BC to 1530 BC.