Trump can't understand a very powerful immigration argument (related to an Australian refugee policy; Turnbull transcript)

Australia has the fairly smart policy of not accepting refugees who arrive by boat [1]. Based on the leaked transcript of a call between Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Trump is incapable of wrapping his mind around that policy. That's of great significance for the U.S. because the reasoning behind Australia's policy is related to very powerful arguments Trump could make that would undercut those in the U.S. who support illegal immigration. Trump can't make those very powerful arguments for various reasons, and one of them is because he can't understand Australia's reasoning.

If Australia accepted refugees who arrive by boat, they'd have a refugee influx. Even more importantly, many more people would perish at sea. Their policy is the humane choice, and that can be used to undercut opponents of that policy: those opponents would increase deaths.

That also applies to the refugees situation in the Mediterranean: those in Europe who have a welcoming attitude to refugees are in effect encouraging people to try to cross. Likewise with those who "rescue" migrants and then deliver them to Europe (like a group involving Robert Young Pelton). Thousands of people have died trying to cross, and those who encourage that have the blood of those victims on their hands. If potential migrants knew crossing wouldn't get them what they want, few if any would try.

In other words, those who want to "help" migrants get to their destination are engaging in false compassion. I first began making the points at that link in 2006, and it's a very powerful argument. One of the main "arguments" from the side that wants people to cross a dangerous desert or a dangerous sea is pulling heartstrings and provoking an emotional response. The False Compassion argument cuts them off at the knees.

As the Turnbull transcript shows, Trump can't understand the precursor to that argument, so he can't understand the argument itself. That shouldn't be surprising: he can only deal with policy in the most lunkhead ways possible. (And, it's not just him but his fellow travelers).

From the annotated transcript at [2]:

Trump: Why haven’t you let them out? Why have you not let them into your society?

...Turnbull: Okay, I will explain why. It is not because they are bad people. It is because in order to stop people smugglers, we had to deprive them of the product. So we said if you try to come to Australia by boat, even if we think you are the best person in the world, even if you are a Noble [sic] Prize winning genius, we will not let you in. Because the problem with the people...

Trump: That is a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am … Because you do not want to destroy your country. Look at what has happened in Germany. Look at what is happening in these countries.

...Trump: I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people and I agree I can vet them, but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad and I have only been here a week.

Turnbull: With great respect, that is not right - It is not 2,000.

Trump: Well, it is close. I have also heard like 5,000 as well.

Turnbull: The given number in the agreement is 1,250 and it is entirely a matter of your vetting.

...Trump: I hate taking these people. I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people.

Turnbull: I would not be so sure about that. They are basically -

Trump: Well, maybe you should let them out of prison.

...Trump: I hate having to do it, but I am still going to vet them very closely. Suppose I vet them closely and I do not take any?

Turnbull: That is the point I have been trying to make.

...Trump: Does anybody know who these people are? Who are they? Where do they come from? Are they going to become the Boston bomber in five years? Or two years? Who are these people?

Turnbull: Let me explain. We know exactly who they are. They have been on Nauru or Manus for over three years and the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here.

Trump: Malcom [sic], but they are arrived on a boat?

...Turnbull: The only people that we do not take are people who come by boat. So we would rather take a not very attractive guy that help you out then to take a Noble [sic] Peace Prize winner that comes by boat. That is the point.”

Trump: What is the thing with boats? Why do you discriminate against boats? No, I know, they come from certain regions. I get it.

...Turnbull: No, let me explain why. The problem with the boats it that you are basically outsourcing your immigration program to people smugglers and also you get thousands of people drowning at sea...

[1] Australia's policy isn't as good as it could be, since they're in effect serving as a transit hub for refugees. It would be best to send the refugees back to their own countries or to a country in their region.

[2] nymag · com/daily/intelligencer/2017/08/australias-pm-slowly-realizes-trump-is-a-complete-idiot.html