TPP: Yep, the Old Fingers-Crossed-Behind-the-Back Trick

Back in May, I posted here about the TPP trade agreement, then so secret that even those allowed to view it were not allowed to take notes (this in our so-called “open” society in the U.S.). Inter alia, I sad:

number of people have charged that TPP could be used to sidestep Congress in setting immigration policy. TPP proponents dismiss that as an “urban legend,” but none of them has categorically denied the possibility, and guess what! Even if TPP were not to have any power over immigration at all (which is not clear), the pro-TPP pols have a surefire fingers-crossed-behind-the-back way to lie about TPP and H-1B: The latter is officially a nonimmigrant visa.

By coincidence, I recently mentioned an incident in which a reporter for one of the nation’s very top newspapers had dismissed this “nonimmigrant visa” terminology. She wrote to me,

I am aware that the term of law for foreign workers on temporary visas is “non-immigrant.” But it is legal jargon that we avoid [at this MSM outlet], in no small part because its tone is insulting to the foreigners. (From non-immigrant to non-person is not a long way.)

My point at the time was not whether the press should get very technical in terms of legalisms, but rather that this reporter and her newspaper considered the term nonimmigrant insulting, which I thought was ludicrous. Nevertheless some readers missed my point and defended the notion of avoiding overly legalistic terminology.

Yet, as I warned in that post in May, such legalisms could give the politicians a perfect way out in TPP. They could insert very liberal terms concerning H-1B into TPP, all while assuring the public, “Don’t worry, there is nothing about immigration in TPP.”

And that indeed appears to have come true, according to an article by Neil Munro in — yes, again — Breitbart.  Here is an excerpt:

House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), plus Michael Froman, the chief U.S. trade negotiator, and many other officials, have deceptively claimed that the TPP trade deal makes no changes to the nation’s immigration laws, Jenks said. “It is the sleight-of-hand that is so typical of Washington,” she said.

“It is technically true… [that] TPP would not require us, up front, to change our immigration laws,” she said, if it is approved by the House and Senate next year. But it would create an huge new market for service companies to use existing laws to hire foreign service professionals for jobs in the United States, and it creates a new international committee that can make immigration changes, she said.

But guess what! The author of that section of the document forgot to avoid mentioning the forbidden I-word, as we see in another Breitbart report:

“The way we wrote TPP, it deals strictly with trade and not immigration,” Ryan told Newsmax six months ago, adding that the idea the TPP consists of immigration reform is “the latest urban legend.”

However, in Chapter 12 of the TPP titled “Temporary Entry for Business Persons,” the word “immigration” is mentioned nearly 10 times.

This is stuff that even Orwell — or should I say Kafka? — couldn’t imagine.

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7 thoughts on “TPP: Yep, the Old Fingers-Crossed-Behind-the-Back Trick

  1. Details please, what exactly does it say? Unlimited L-1 equivalents is what it sounds like but let’s see it.

    And who exactly is going to oppose it? Obama wants it, right, but so do most Republicans.

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  2. The important cross-borders trade in services section is at https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/TPP-Final-Text-Cross-Border-Trade-in-Services.pdf. Article 10.5.a.iv (Market Access) sets the goal of eliminating all numerical caps. Allegedly, Article 10.7 (Non-conforming measures) provides for national sovereignty regarding caps. However, given the secrecy surrounding the TPP, I would not be surprised if a special provision is inserted that permits the developing nations to maintain their numerical caps while eliminating or weakening the annual U.S. H-1B visa caps.

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  3. Sure, TPP can be used to sidestep, overrule, etc. the constitutional lawmaking powers of Congress on virtually any issue whatsoever with no limit on scope. Through ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) any foreign corporation, multinational corporation, foreign government can challenge any law or regulation they see as a threat to future profits etc. in international tribunals, not U.S. courts.
    Take COOL (country of origin labeling of meat) as an example of an actual challenge. If TPP is not enough then there is TTIP (deal with Europe) and TISA ( trade in services agreement) now in the top secret back room deal making process, posing a threat to even financial services – yikes – regulation. Who would believe that anything to do with immigration would be off limits to these deals? The free trade crowd cannot get enough of global arbitrage of everything.

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  4. I called the Office of the US Trade Representative a few years ago to talk about this.
    My position is that it is inappropriate for Trade Agreements to include language about
    immigration, and that the NAFTA visa (TN-1) had an extremely high rate of fraud,
    in the period from 2001-2009.

    They said that I was a racist for opposing immigration.

    Nothing in TPP comes as a surprise.

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