Biden and the Border (with Michael Shear)

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Why didn’t the long-expected surge of migrants at the US-Mexico border materialize following the end of the Title 42 policy? That’s why Andy wanted to find out this week. So he called up Michael D. Shear, White House Reporter for the New York Times. Andy and Michael discuss the end of Title 42, what the Biden Administration’s new border policy looks like, why neither the right nor left are happy and what it will mean for the 2024 election cycle.

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Michael Shear, Andy Slavitt

Andy Slavitt  00:18

This is IN THE BUBBLE with Andy Slavitt. Welcome to the show, email me, And by the way, if you’ve ever noticed that your coffee cup is too small to hold your coffee, we’ve got brand new in the bubble coffee mugs. And they say on them actual facts, actual experts. And they hold a lot of coffee, you can find them at the link that you’ll find on this site. I’m promoting those things heavily, I get none of the profits. So don’t worry about that. Michael Shear is on the show today. He’s a two time Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times correspondent covers immigration. And we’re going to talk in a bit about the major transition that’s occurred over the last week in the importance and resonance of the end of Title 42. Why should you care? Well, this is one of the most fought about policies in the country. People stand in some very strong spots on it. I think many of the differences of opinion on this issue are substantive. People do play politics with this, obviously. But I do also think there are some strongly held views, one side to the other. And Biden’s take an interesting approach here. And it’s an approach, it’s not necessarily making a lot of people happy. It’s certainly not making everybody happy. But there’s some merit to it as well, which I will talk about in a second. Donald Trump had a major event kicking off his campaign this past week, no, I’m not talking about his being found liable for battery and defamation and assaulting a woman. I’m talking about the assault he did on CNN, shortly after that. And I want to just come down very hard and clear it in opinion, of being anti-CNN. That was, in my view, not something that I watched, I don’t know, if you watched it, did hear about it did see about it. I’m not sure that giving a microphone, and an audience to someone who is not going to be responsible for answering questions, or be held accountable is a particularly good idea. And I think CNN should have known that was coming. And, you know, I understand that cable TV is dying, I understand that cable news is searching for relevance. That can’t be the best way. That can’t be the best way to get it. So, you know, I find myself increasingly in search of ways of learning, getting news, getting information that are not hysterical, that are not click Beatty that are not playing to the crowd. You know, we have had a couple of interesting episodes on this topic recently, that you can listen to. But as I have said before, I think a lot of more exposure to Donald Trump, in these next few months, is just not a healthy dose for the country. Doesn’t seem to be much we can do about it. Michael is great. Michael is going to talk about what changes have occurred to Biden’s policies in the border. What that says, Look, if you are president, this is a hard issue. Is it a no win issue? I don’t know that there’s such a thing as a no win issue. But what he has navigated is I think it will talk about and aim for a kind of very Biden esque middle approach, one that doesn’t make progressives happy at all. And one that still allows him to get ridiculed and yelled at by conservatives for having quote unquote, an open border. Yet, if you really look at it close, if you look at it, it is interesting to ask yourself, what you would do differently. If what you were aiming to do was limit the amount of people that were in holding detention centers that were making dangerous journey, and trying to let in the folks to the country that should be here legally, very difficult, particularly when you have no support from Congress. But I wanted to get into that today. Precisely because it’s a complex issue. It’s not the kind of issue. We should be learning about a tweet at a time. It’s the kind of issue we should be spending a good solid half hour 40 minutes with a smart person who’s been covering this issue for decades. And that’s exactly what we’re gonna do with Michael. So grab a coffee cup. Here comes Michael Shear.

Andy Slavitt  05:03

Michael, welcome back to the bubble. So great to have you back.

Michael Shear  05:06

Sure. Always happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Andy Slavitt  05:09

So I think one of the truisms of American politics seems to be that if Republicans given you a stump speech, one of the things they’re going to say is the absolute disaster. absolute disaster at the southern border. Yeah. Last week was the week that the disaster was predicted to hit new heights. Tell us tell us what’s happened.

Michael Shear  05:32

So yeah, I think that’s exactly right. That was the expectation. You even had President Biden, a couple of days before the expectation of a big surge of people at the southern border, you had President Biden say it’s going to be chaotic for a while. That was the quote that he told to reporters. And so I think there was an expectation that there would be this massive surge of people coming up to take advantage of the fact that, as of last Thursday, the administration was no longer going to be enforcing tough border rules that had been part of the pandemic emergency and instead, they were going to revert to the kind of old rules that had been in place before. And there were a lot of migrants there were I think, on a single day on Thursday, I think it was more than 10,000 migrants crossed the US border from Mexico. But you didn’t see the kind of scenes of, you know, abject hopelessness, abject misery people under bridges. And in fact, the number of people who crossed on Saturday and Sunday dropped pretty significantly, which was countered to the expectations, there was a sense that there was going to be just a continued ever more people coming now, that still could happen. There are still, you know, folks heading north from countries in Central and South America. But at least for the moment, some of the worst scenes of in President Biden’s words chaos didn’t materialize.

Andy Slavitt  07:01

So we’ll come back to the political resonance of this issue. But maybe we should just start with some of the facts. And, you know, describe a little bit of the world before title 42. What happened when title 42 and then how was it received? How was it thought of how is it portrayed? At the times two came in from Trump, it was portrayed specifically differently by Democrats and Republicans. It’s carried over. And then I want to get into the replacement. What comes next after Title 42 because, maybe the Biden administration would say one reason why things aren’t so chaotic, are some of the things that they’ve done. And I want to see if that’s true or not?

Michael Shear  07:41

Yeah, I think that’s a good place to start, you know, you and to remember, for your listeners to remember that this is not a new problem. But the problem has changed in its character. Over those years, there was a time when George W. Bush was in office, when the majority of the people coming over the border were mostly single Mexican men. By the time Obama comes into office, and towards the end of his eight years, there was a surge of children and accompany children that came over and families that continued through President Trump’s administration, of course, leading famously to him, separating some of those families and separating the children from their parents as a deterrent measure. And then the pandemic hit in 2020. And, you know, the administration of Donald Trump who had been trying everything they could to stop immigration, even before the pandemic had had head suddenly reaches back into kind of the depths of the US Code finds this public health emergency rule that basically says, the United States can cite the public health concerns as a way to essentially shut down much of the border from immigration, which, you know, potentially sounds like it makes sense if you’re trying to protect the protect Americans from some deadly disease at the time. To your to your earlier point. Most Democrats accused President Trump and Stephen Miller who was the architect of his immigration agenda of essentially using the pandemic as an excuse for what they wanted to do anyway, which was to shut down the borders to people that they didn’t want to come in. And there was a lot of complaints from Democrats especially and progressive saying, you know, you’re essentially destroying America’s reputation as kind of a refuge for the, you know, for people from around the world who are fleeing violence and instability and poverty and everything else. The only problem was that when Biden then takes over from President Trump, he essentially keeps that policy in place. You know, he cites the same pandemic concerns. He says, we still need to keep this in place, even after the Centers for Disease Control, say, well, it’s not really needed anymore as a pandemic prevention measure, he continues to keep it in place. And then when he sought to finally take it down, there were some court issues that prevented him.

Andy Slavitt  10:09

I think we know where Republicans stand on this issue. But this is a tough one for the President to navigate as well. Let’s go back and talk a little bit about how President Biden is going to navigate this issue. So he’s doing this Biden […], of progressives, he is while taking on water from conservatives for running a quote, open border. So he’s in this position where both sides say, he’s doing the opposite of what they consider to be good policy doesn’t sound like a big winner.

Michael Shear  11:06

Right? I mean, you know, I suppose there’s a there’s a world in which you say, well, if everybody on all sides is upset at me, maybe I’m doing exactly the right thing.

Andy Slavitt  11:13

I’ve never gotten that logic. I’ve never got that logic.

Michael Shear  11:17

It’s a good rationalization. But no, I think that’s exactly right. And, you know, part of that is just I mean, the answer to that is just, it’s partly politics, right? Like both sides, see it in their interests to politicize and whip the issue up from whichever direction whether you’re on the progressive left, or you’re on the conservative, right. It is a good motivational issue, you know, that works to fire up the base, etc. The lead part of it is they have, you know, both sides have deeply felt beliefs about how you know, what should be done.

Andy Slavitt  11:55

I agree with you. I think this is a vexing issue. I’m a little less cynical about it. And I think that people who many people who live on the border and experience what goes on at the border, do they legitimately believe whether I agree or don’t agree, they legitimately believe that our policies are too lax. And I think progressives, or those who are, who see it differently, believe that what makes America what it is, is been our immigration policies and refugees are a crisis throughout not just this hemisphere, but more broadly, and that there are some tinges of racism, and focusing on this. And I actually think this is one of those situations where the beliefs might actually be strongly held. And yes, people play politics with it. But it’s very tough, then for a quote unquote, centrist, like Biden, to not look to people who have strongly held opinions. You look, he’s failing on all counts.

Michael Shear  12:59

Right? I think that’s right. And you know, part of what happened to Biden was that in the wake in during the 2020, election, it was quite easy to sound very progressive, right to sound like he’s embracing the left by criticizing all these horrible Trump era immigration policies that had been so excoriated throughout the four years of the Trump presidency, he very much embraced the idea that he was going to sort of wipe the slate clean and not, you know, sort of erase a lot of those policies, when you come into office, you find it much tougher to do some of those things were, you know, had been done in regulatory ways that takes a long time to kind of unwind. And sometimes you find if, if you’re now in charge of securing the country, and making sure that people are obeying the laws, and are, you know, not coming in when they shouldn’t be coming in, you suddenly find that well, actually, this is a more nuanced and difficult problem, you know, to confront. And I think my sense of the Biden administration is that while they respect the kind of advocacy folks on the left, who are really, really pushing hard for the rights of migrants and the rights of asylum seekers, you know, they also now recognize that they’re in a different place, and they are the ones that also have to administer the rules, you know, in the laws as passed by Congress, and that’s that that puts them in a tough a tough spot.

Andy Slavitt  14:29

It To be fair, is I understand it, and I’d like you to explain this to us. They’re not replacing title 42 with nothing, there is a strategy may not be a good one may be a good one, we’ll find out. But in order to understand that strategy, which is what they’re essentially telling applicants now, they must do, maybe make sense to do a tiny bit more background on who actually is coming to this country and why these days, what countries they’re coming from, what process they go through. and how they’re used to getting asylum. And then maybe you can use that to lay over some of the changes that the Biden administration is trying to put forward.

Michael Shear  15:11

Sure. I mean, I think I think it’s important for listeners to remember that a ton of immigration happens to the United States legally, right? People from all over the world get work, visas, family visas, vacation visas, you know, permission to come in. So there are airplane flights from all over the world, every country, people come here for short periods for state

Andy Slavitt  15:34

Sounds like an open border to me.

Michael Shear  15:36

Right? I even think this part of it, the Republicans even like, I mean, the idea of people coming, you know, to work most maybe the Trump people accepted, but, you know, so first of all, the universe of immigration, broadly speaking, is not limited to the folks that are coming across in the on the border with Mexico, that said that, you know, the border with Mexico is 2000 miles long, there are a handful, you know, a number of ports of entry, where you can cross legally, and people do all the time, you know, lots of, you know, commerce goes back and forth across the border, legally, lots of people cross back and forth with permission, legally. And then you have what happens in between those ports of entry, right, and where you’re not supposed to come across. And historically, the people that have been coming across had been people who are fleeing, you know, problems at their house. And sometimes those problems are, you know, political instability, violence, gang violence, torture, sometimes it’s increasingly just really abject poverty, you know, the pandemic is, you know, well, the pandemic really decimated the economies of many countries, and a lot of these people, you know, ended up not having any way to support themselves.

Michael Shear  15:59

A consensus point of view on which of those problems are sufficient to say you should be let in to our country theoretically, and which ones are not.

Michael Shear  16:56

Right. So there’s a bunch of different ways that programs that the United States has to address people who are fleeing, there’s a refugee program that generally, you know, tends to be used when there’s mass populations in countries in the middle of a war. And so you, you know, you might have Ukrainians coming to United States to a refugee program, or you might have, you know, people fleeing ISIS could be refugees that could end up in the United States, the asylum program is set up as a set of laws that basically says, the only way you’re supposed to be granted asylum, is if you are fleeing violence that’s been defined largely as political violence, though, in recent times, also gang violence. If you have, you know, fear for your life for political, you know, persecution, if you would face torture from your political opponents, it specifically does not include people who are just looking for a better life, because they’re, they can’t, you know, find a job or whatever.

Andy Slavitt  18:00

So that’s the distinction. It’s not economic hardship.

Michael Shear  18:03

It’s definitely not economic hardship. That is not what the law allows. Now, what the law does say both American law but also international law says is that while you’re not guaranteed being granted asylum, if you set foot on the United States, however you set foot, whether you come in legally or whether you cross the border illegally, once you set foot in the United States, you must have the right to actually try to claim asylum, right. Like that’s what international law says is that you can’t stop people from at least making their case. And to get to the question about what the Biden administration has put in place now. Because they recognize that there’s so many people coming in and being sort of driven from these countries around this hemisphere, north towards the United States. Once they recognize that like, Title 42, the pandemic year restrictions, were going to end they said, well, we got to have something in its place. And what they decided was that somebody who comes from say, Guatemala or Peru or Colombia or Salvador crosses through Mexico and come to the United States, they would be allowed to try to claim asylum. But if they cross through Mexico, and didn’t ask for Mexican asylum, in other words, asked to stay in Mexico, as opposed to who stay in the United States that they would presumed to be automatically denied asylum in the United States that that would just be a blanket like you’re not going to qualify. And that is what has the progressive left very upset because what the left says is, you’re essentially denying asylum to vast numbers of people in a way that, frankly, is not that dissimilar to what the Trump administration tried to do in a series of ways.

Andy Slavitt  20:09

So it sounds like there is not the capacity, either to interview or to house. Refugee seekers, asylum seekers. And by that measure, if declaring success, for that means just reducing the demand, putting aside ideals for a second about immigration, but just not having to put people in holding pens and the whole end and have them stacked up, then that’s what they’re aiming for, which, which we could all agree is a very low bar for success. But relative to the sort of the human stampedes, which they don’t like from a processing thing, when they sure don’t like politically, by that measure, seeing these low numbers after title 42 expired. Is that some sign that this may be working?

Michael Shear  21:03

I think the honest answer, and I think even some Biden administration officials, you know, in the in the one or two days after title 42 was lifted, it absolutely admitted this is that we’ll see. I mean, it is, it is undeniable that if you know, the numbers peaked, let’s say the day before title 42 ended at 10,000 migrants that day coming across, over the weekend, they were closer to four to 5000 per day, you know, if those numbers continue to go down, if they go down to 4000, 3000, 2000 and over the course of the summer, let’s say, you know, it really looks like, you know, the message has been received in some of these countries, and that people are finding alternative ways of getting into the country, then by all means, that will prove to have been, at least from the standpoint, as you say, putting aside questions of, you know, sort of morals and values, whatever, like, at least in terms of the processing, I think that will be a huge success. I think it’s far too early to declare that yet. I mean, as I just said, like, you know, the app isn’t fully functional, and it’s glitchy. Now the processing centers in Guatemala and Colombia haven’t even really been staffed or set up yet, those are going to take some time to play out. So, you know, I think a couple of days doesn’t really, you know, answer the question fully. But I think that that’s at least, you know, some sign of hope.

Andy Slavitt  22:35

Let me take one final break. And I want to come back and talk about a conversation that I had this week, with a senior Trump administration official responsible for stuff on the border. That was interesting. We’ll be right back. I will say this, I talked the early part of last week, to the person in the Trump administration. That was the senior Administration official charged with dealing with people who came over the border. And you could probably guess who that is. And that person predicted that this week would be a total disaster at the border and a total disaster for Democrats, and was throwing out numbers in the six figures. And indeed, he had a right at the very end of title 42. Right before it ended. There was in fact, a bit of a rush. And I think all the news organizations were gathered at the border. And I think, at least this person was almost licking his chops, you know, and I think to be fair, to him for a second, felt like he dealt with a very difficult situation. And that was the other side’s turn. And so I want to talk a little bit about the about the reaction to this, because as you say, it may be that what we’re seeing is the beginning of a new pattern, and maybe that it’s not, how materially does it change the resonance of this as a political issue? Aren’t Republicans and Fox News going to just continue to have a camera trained on however many people cross the border? And aren’t progressives going to say is you just pointed out that this policy is really, really limiting the people people’s ability to seek asylum in the country?

Michael Shear  24:45

Yeah, I think absolutely. The answer to both of those questions is yes. And I think that’s partly because the political opinions on this issue have very much hardened over the last several decades, right. Like it sort of doesn’t matter to many people on both sides of this debate what the actual facts are on the ground. You know, right before talking to you coming on to talk to you, I went and sort of did a quick glance of the my inbox, my email inbox, and the, you know, the sort of emails from conservatives in the House Republicans and Donald Trump and those folks were all what you would imagine they need to be crisis on the border, etc. And in the emails from the progressive groups where exactly, you know what, you just described this as a terrible policy, and it’s damaging US reputation as a refugee nation. And I, you know, so I think that one of the things I’ve been covering this issue in Washington for almost 25 years, 20 years, and, you know, there has been so little substantive, I mean, actual change in the politics of this, if anything, it has deepened, you know, the sort of the left and the right, and the in the, in the gap between them has widened and where we used to see. Yeah, I was reminded the other day of, in 2006, when Ted Kennedy, one of the, you know, liberal icons, and John McCain, who was at that time a, you know, one of the leading Republicans in the Senate, like spent more than a year trying to convince their colleagues to do an immigration deal. You wouldn’t have anything like that these days. I mean, it’s hard to see where the two sides can agree on much of anything. And so it’s actually quite, quite dispiriting when you think about, you know, whatever the reality is, or isn’t the politics remain essentially very, very polarized.

Andy Slavitt  26:50

Right. And if you’re Biden, in the Biden team, and you know that, and you know, that you in a sense, there’s no place to there’s no place to create a common consensus. The question is, what do you do? And Trump entered that is, well, I am going to do what I want to do. Anyway, a more progressive President’s answer might be, I’m going to go back to the pre title 42 days without these new safeguards. And the very Biden-esque maneuver is to do the unappreciated kind of compromise, which is to say, the only way we kind of succeed in this issue is to reduce demand. That’s a very hard process. And there’s a couple of things we can do here. And look, it’s important to say that this is oftentimes a very unsafe journey. People die along the way, people send their kids without them. You know, there’s, there’s a lot of humanitarian reasons to say it would be sensible. Or you could make the case that it’d be sensible that only people who should make the journey make the journey, at the very least, that people who totally aren’t putting their lives at risk in order to, you know, not be successful. And, you know, there was a point in time when the sort of the Biden esque solution was an elegant one. It was the art of compromise.

Michael Shear  28:15

And I also think, I guess, the word that popped into my mind when you were just sort of talking about where Biden would be in the middle of these two extremes, right. And I think where they’re trying to be, is the word competence, right? I mean, the best that they can probably argue, is that they may not have the ideal solution, because as they, as the Biden administration, folks often remind us reporters, any sort of ideal solution, one that captures a real fix to this whole system would require a big congressional compromise where everybody from all sides came together and sort of got something big done. In the absence of that. What I think they are hoping is to keep a lid on the worst of the problems at the border. They’re not going to kind of solve the big the big global problem. The reason why I think there was so much anxiety and sounds like from the person you talk to, but also publicly from the president united states who said it was going to be […], I think the real concern inside the White House, from a political perspective as well as a humanitarian perspective was what happens if there really is chaos, if all of a sudden there’s people sleeping under bridges, and there’s migrants running every which way and sidewalks people are, you know, urinating on sidewalks and all of that. It gets to this competence question and it undermines the message that the President has wanted to send in all different kinds of ways that you know that he is the guy to be able to kind of keep the trains running smoothly and, you know, to that extent, I think they are happy this morning to be waking up and seeing that the weekend didn’t have those kinds of images. But I think they’re also still bracing for the reality that this isn’t over yet.

Andy Slavitt  30:11

Well, let’s tell me if this analogy works for you, I’m going to make an analogy to abortion policy, which is to say that there certainly are extreme views. But if you asked people about who should be led into this country, and under what circumstances, it seems to me, like most people would have nuances to their answer, relative to the reasons for coming, their country of origin, the job they’re after, et cetera, et cetera. And I think part of my evidence for that is that Republicans are increasingly using extreme language like open borders. And I liken this to abortion, as I listen to President Trump say things like the Democrats kill babies after nine months of birth, because they know that the nuanced conversation about this issue just will help people understand that is a hard issue. And that, you know, you can bemoan the part of it that you don’t like, but if you’re sitting there and having to make the decision, with blanket policies, and the resources you have that it’s quite a difficult thing. So saying we’re going to demonize the Secretary of Homeland and Human Services, and say he needs to be impeached is in some sense, an easier move if you’re not going to be willing to show up at the table and compromise so that that may be a democratic view. But I think that that’s frustrating view.

Michael Shear  31:43

No, I think that I think that captures it. I also think, you know, it’s, you know, you use the word nuanced a couple of times, I think it is absolutely the case that the simplistic view of immigration is never is never correct. And I’ll give you an example. There have historically been a lot of folks on the right, conservatives, the extremists who talk about migrants, immigrants stealing jobs from quote, unquote, real Americans, right? Like that’s the, that’s one of the big bugaboos that helps to fuel the anti the great replacement theory, great replacement theory that Steve Bannon and those folks, but even if even a step back from the kind of white nationalism, that that represents just the sort of regular guy in some town who’s worried that you’re, you know, he’s going to he or she is going to lose their job, because some immigrants is going to come and take the job, which, you know, sort of statistically doesn’t mostly hold up, although it does hold up a little bit more in the sort of lower education jobs, but according to the data, but, but putting that as the baseline, we’re at a moment in this country, where the real problem that we have is a country wide labor shortage, where there are there are small businesses all over the country, right with, you know, help wanted signs hanging on, you know, restaurant, I went to Fremont, California, right, during the whole Afghan evacuation situation, because there was this question of where are these Afghans going to come in? There’s a big African community in Fremont, California, and everybody I talked to there said, we absolutely want these people because we, you know, we got restaurants that are closing down at 8PM. Because they don’t have enough, you know, people to like, you know, keep the restaurant open. And all across the country that’s happening. It is the kind of argument that used to really appeal to Republicans, right like that. Okay, well, I might not, I might have concerns about, you know, immigrants for other reasons, or I might have, you know, other feelings, but actually, you know, we need workers. And, you know, so far, we’re at this moment where those arguments aren’t making a dent in the kind of right in the extremes. You know, Donald Trump spent a lot of time demonizing immigrants to the point that like, you know, this isn’t winning the day. But the truth is, the country needs more people. And at the moment that that could be immigrants. And that’s, that’s part of the argument that I think, you know, the Biden administration, on the carrots that we talked about before, one of the carrots is, you know, trying to create new pathways that migrants can come into the United States to take some of these jobs. And you know, that would not be just sort of keeping them out to keep demand low, but like, let’s flow them in in a way that that is actually more orderly.

Andy Slavitt  34:39

Yeah, you made me think of one other thing, Michael, which is that part of the rhetoric here is in confusing people over what is legal versus illegal immigration. And what you just described asylum seeking is someone who’s going through a legal process and what I think when you listen to a lot of the rhetoric, certainly Trump’s you know, walking down the escalator, rhetoric, they, you know, thrown over these illegals, obviously dehumanizing way. Because you hear a lot of where Democrats have lost some of the public, particularly with second and third generation Hispanics, is well, I went through a legal process. And these people should go through a legal process as well. And that’s sort of the argument that you hear a lot of Republicans making. And, you know, obviously, the Build the wall for them and etc, was about that. So I think when people see these asylum seekers, and they see images on TV, of people, you know, walking through these gates or however they’re entering the country, but what Republicans are doing and what Democrats are missing, is that I think I think it feels like Republicans are able to lump them in which people sense that there’s a whole bunch of people entering this country illegally. Help us where the story goes from here. What should we be watching next, both as it relates to what actually is happening with immigration policy and the border, and how the ball bounces as we enter into presidential political season?

Michael Shear  34:55

So I think on the actual substance of it, the two, the two, two of the most important things to watch are two court cases. So the ACLU filed a lawsuit to stop the Biden administration from implementing as these tough new asylum rules. We don’t know the status of that yet. On the right, the Florida attorney general filed a lawsuit against the administration for a policy that allows the Biden administration to more quickly release people out of border patrol detention when the Border Patrol facilities are overcrowded, right? It’s sort of like, hey, we can’t hold these people because there’s going to be a terrible scene, we gotta we don’t want to necessarily release them. But we gotta. And so a federal judge in Florida has actually barred temp put a temporary restore restraining order on the administration saying you can’t do that. The administration argues that if the courts ended up blocking their use of both of those tools, right, so they no longer have the stick, because they can’t use the asylum rule. And they no longer have the ability to relieve pressure at border facilities, because the Republicans are blocking them from releasing these people in this particular way. They warned that there could be really dire circumstances that you could have a situation where you have people dying in border patrol facilities and that kind of thing. So those I would say, in terms of the substance, I think those are the two, those two case court cases, and they could go all the way up, you know, I mean, this is we’re in a situation where, you know, could go all the way through appeals court and ultimately to the Supreme Court.

Andy Slavitt  37:45

Is there a general wisdom, accumulated wisdom on what’s likely to happen with those cases as they make their way through?

Michael Shear  37:53

I mean, like anything else, so you talk to different lawyers, they have different views. The ACLU is pretty confident in their case. But if you talk to the administration, they say now we think we’ll be fine. The Florida case on the release of people from the detention facilities is seen as a little bit more of a political ploy given the you know, governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis. We’ll see whether he runs for president. I think, politically, I think, look, you know, you get a little sense of this, when Trump did that town hall at CNN, right. And he was asked about, for by Caitlin Collins asked whether he would have separated children again, and he didn’t say he wouldn’t. He seemed to, you know, he seemed to sort of defend the idea of separating, if you separate these families, then they won’t come into a deterrent. And I think that’s a hint that, you know, I mean, I’m not sure this is a big, you know, revelation, frankly, but that he when he runs, you know, when it gets to crunch time, he is going to lean heavily into this issue as a way of motivating his base is differentiating himself from, you know, from his rivals. And what will be interesting to see on the Republican side is does a DeSantis, or Nikki Haley or some of these other folks, do they get progressively more aggressive and more conservative on immigration stuff in just because they have to endure in order to compete with Trump.

Andy Slavitt  39:21

Keeping the whole with we’ve said, Is this an asset for Republicans in a general election or a neutral? Or? I can’t imagine it being a negative, but maybe isn’t? What do you say?

Michael Shear  39:32

I mean, the truth is that, obviously, like, elections are dynamic, you know, situations every single time is different. You know, history suggests it’s not as good for them in general elections as they usually think it is. 2018 the midterm elections which came right after the family separation debacle that summer, but also, you know, as President Trump was really remember the caravans he was worrying about the caravans of Mexicans coming up in this. You know, Republican, the immigration actually worked against Republicans in the end in that election. I mean, several moderate Republicans lost and later attributed their loss largely to Trump’s immigration rhetoric turning off a lot of the swing voters. And there were very few instances in that election, where you could sort of clearly point to immigration as being a sort of upside for Republicans. Virginia election was another one where it didn’t seem to really work. That yeah, that next year. So you know, it, but it’s, it’s very important for the for Republicans in the primary election. And what we don’t know is here we have President Biden, you know, in office. And you know, what will the border look like 18 months from now, it will look like it did over the weekend, where it seems like things are sort of calming down and all of his policies are working, or does it flare up again, and if it does flare up, and if there are camps of people on the border, you know, that could play into Republican hands in ways that that actually does move voters.

Andy Slavitt  41:16

Yeah. Well, if the conventional wisdom is that this is an issue that motivates Republicans somewhat doesn’t motivate Democrats too much at all. That abortion is a bigger issue for Democrats. You probably it makes sense what you say. It’s probably some but very limited residents with independence. I think there’s an exception maybe along border communities. And there may be an exception in how Democrats have been losing some of their toehold in Hispanic communities.

Michael Shear  41:46

Yeah, I think the Hispanic thing is, is a really big deal because it defies some of the conventional wisdom about how Democrats have long thought that Hispanics would reward them for trying and the truth is, a lot of that doesn’t play out the way that you would think.

Andy Slavitt  42:04

And as long as we’re generalizing between that and abortion, which also doesn’t play necessarily particularly well among historic democratic bases. You know, that could be a challenge. Well, Michael Shear two time Pulitzer Prize winner, three time in the bubble guest. Thank you for being here. My friend.

Michael Shear  42:26

Happy to do it. This is a great conversation. I appreciate you having me on.

Andy Slavitt  42:29

I want to thank Kyle and production team for running really fast to get an episode up on this important topic. And of course, Michael is great. So this is for the I think third or fourth time that we have recorded this episode from New York City. We are a bicoastal podcast. And I have to thank the amazing, Noah. for that. He comes in walks up six flights of steps, lugging heavy equipment in order for us to do these great interviews here in New York. So in addition to thanking Kyle wanted to thank Noah. Next week, […] is going to be on the podcast. All I will say about him is I think he is the anti-Elon Musk, both in what he says and in his actions. We have a very interesting conversation coming up with him about how he looks at technology, how he looks at AI, how he looks at social media, and what he’s doing about it. Very interesting person and I think, brings a different type of moral lens to technology and social media than we may be used to seeing on some of the other platforms. So hope you enjoy that. Have a great week, folks, and look forward to talking to you next week.

CREDITS  44:01

Thanks for listening to IN THE BUBBLE. We’re a production of Lemonada Media. Kathryn Barnes, Jackie Harris and Kyle Shiely produced our show, and they’re great. Our mix is by Noah Smith and James Barber, and they’re great, too. Steve Nelson is the vice president of the weekly content, and he’s okay, too. And of course, the ultimate bosses, Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs, they executive produced the show, we love them dearly. Our theme was composed by Dan Molad and Oliver Hill, with additional music by Ivan Kuraev. You can find out more about our show on social media at @LemonadaMedia where you’ll also get the transcript of the show. And you can find me at @ASlavitt on Twitter. If you like what you heard today, why don’t you tell your friends to listen as well, and get them to write a review. Thanks so much, talk to you next time.

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