WASHINGTON — Racine County's congressman says trade and immigration are two issues that should be separate.
President Donald Trump had threatened a 5% tariff on Mexican goods to start on Monday as a response to Mexico's handling of migration at the U.S. southern border. If tariffs were placed on Mexico it is possible that could have a negative impact on the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA).
The USMCA would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and needs to be passed by the federal legislatures of all three countries.
But Trump announced Friday night that he has put on hold his tariff plan, saying Mexico will take "strong measures" to reduce the flow of Central American migrants into the United States.
U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis., is an advocate for USMCA and supports a wall on parts of the southern U.S. border with Mexico. But, in a phone interview with The Journal Times last week, Steil said the two issues should not be mixed together.
“I’d rather keep trade out of the immigration debate,” Steil said. “But ultimately, we also need to address what’s going on with illegal immigration and a broken legal immigration system.”
Steil, who represents Wisconsin's 1st District, which includes Racine County, said he will wait and see if the tariffs are actually put in place before he comments further, and he expects a vote on USMCA soon.
“I’m optimistic that we’re moving (USMCA) in the right direction,” Steil said. “There’s wins across the board for workers and farmers in the United States, and so I’m optimistic that we’ll get a vote on that sometime in late summer.”
BURLINGTON — Raymond dairy farmer John Scott grew up hearing the phrase that farmers “feed the world.”
Steil said immigration should be tied to the demands of the workforce.
Republican and Democrats in Washington do agree that action needs to be taken for those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. Those with DACA status are protected from deportation after applying through the federal government.
However, since DACA was enacted by executive order in 2011 by President Barack Obama, many Republicans called the act unconstitutional and the Trump Administration has challenged it in court.
But a number of congressmen, including Steil, believe something should be done for those with DACA status.
“I’m optimistic that we can put something together on that,” Steil said. “The solution to get anything done is going to require bipartisan support. I’m supportive in providing groups, in particular DACA, to give them a path to make right with the law, but we have to do that in the context of making sure that we secure our border so we don’t re-create the same problem again that we have today.”
With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, in charge, Steil believes she will bring a bill to the floor for a vote.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done on (DACA),” Steil said. “There’s a possibility that some bill related to that will come to the House in the near future.”
The Mueller report
The investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election and subsequent contacts with the Trump campaign have hung like a dark cloud over the administration for the last two years.
The investigation by Mueller is over, and his office has released a report with its findings. In regard to potential crimes committed by Trump, Mueller has stated if his office found evidence clearing Trump of any crimes, it would have stated so explicitly.
Steil, who advocated for the release of the report, said he has read it and encourages others to read the report and come to their own conclusions.
Steil said the United States should keep pressure on Russia and hold it accountable for its actions to prevent it from attempting to influence U.S. elections.
“Russia’s meddling in U.S. elections or any other democratic elections around the globe is not acceptable, and it needs to be called out and addressed,” Steil said. “One of the greatest aspects of the American experiment that we have is protecting our free and fair elections. So any threat to free and fair elections, in particular from a foreign actor, needs to be confronted and addressed.”
Many 2020 Democratic presidential candidates and other members of Congress have called for impeachment proceedings to begin, but Steil believes that goes too far and is “not beneficial.”
“I read the Mueller report, I reviewed it, and it’s not every day that I’ll agree with Nancy Pelosi — but on that one I do,” Steil said. “I don’t think (impeachment) moves us forward as a country and ultimately I’d like to see us get away from this constant political positioning and get on with the work of the American people.
“Political disagreements don’t equate to the validation of impeachment,” Steil said.