Yes, He Won
The New York Times reported…
TIJUANA, Mexico — Pushed beyond their limits by prolonged waits in dangerous and squalid conditions in parts of Northern Mexico, thousands of caravan members who had been waiting to seek asylum in the United States appear to have given up, Mexican officials said, dealing President Trump an apparent win after a humbling week for his immigration agenda.
About 6,000 asylum seekers who had traveled en masse, many of them in defiance of Mr. Trump’s demands that they turn around, arrived in Northern Mexico in late November as part of a caravan that originated in Honduras. Since then, more than 1,000 have accepted an offer to be returned home by the Mexican government, the officials said. Another 1,000 have decided to stay in Mexico, accepting work permits that were offered to them last fall, at the height of international consternation over how to deal with the growing presence of migrant caravans.
And some critics decided they did it wrong.
What an awful framing from the New York Times, describing Trump's success at making migrants so miserable that they don't wait long enough to exercise their legal right to apply for asylum as a "win." pic.twitter.com/1p5OWMovug
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) February 16, 2019
The thing is, though, that the New York Times’ description is accurate. The Trump administration pursued a series of policies with an objective. Opponents opposed it, with many saying that it wouldn’t work even on its own terms. The policies were pursued and the objective was achieved.
The word here is “Win”. Or, if you prefer, “victory”.
That’s not a normative judgment on the virtues of the policy and it is unlikely any disinterested party would read it as such. Further, it wasn’t entirely clear that the policy would succeed on its own terms. Many suggested it wouldn’t because the asylum-seekers were too desperate to care about American policy. That turned out not to be the case which in turn validates the extent to which the administration’s ugly smashmouth enforcement approach is likely to continue and result in fewer asylum-seekers.
In any event, the Times’ depiction is accurate. Refusing to use the word “win” here would actually be greater editorialization than using it.
Photo by Michael Vadon