It was a clean sweep, if an obscure one.
While previous trade treaties, such as NAFTA, had included disastrous immigration articles, the three passed by the Congress yesterday had no such provisions.
I am not sure that free trade agreements are helpful to average Americans, while helping corporations and farmers. That aside, I was relieved to learn this morning that the treaties with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia were at least not dealing with immigration.
Each of the treaties contains these words:
Nothing in this Chapter or any other provision of this Agreement shall be construed to impose any obligation on a Party regarding its immigration measures, including admission or conditions of admission for temporary entry.
This is section 7 in the chapter on "Cross-Border Trade in Services", with identical terminology in each of the three treaties. See the full text of the treaty with South Korea here.
Kudos, incidentally, to Numbers USA and the skillful Rosemary Jenks for their useful work on section 7 many years ago.
Previous trade treaties have created huge holes in America's ability to control its own borders. There are open-borders advocates who say that we cannot change the rules on our own nonimmigrant worker programs, such as H-1B, without getting the permission of the World Trade Organization. For a comprehensive review of these problems, see Jessica Vaughan's CIS Backgrounder "Be Our Guest: Trade Agreements and Visas". (That document was written before the latest of the trade treaties were negotiated.)
NAFTA not only created a whole new nonimmigrant program, largely for Canadians, but in its provisions not directly aimed at immigration it had huge indirect impacts because it caused Mexico to lower its own trade barriers against American corn and beans. That reduced the prices paid to small Mexican farmers for their products and, in turn, caused many of them to migrate illegally to the United States.
There's positive good news and, like this about the treaties, negative good news, but it is cheering nevertheless.