Author: Angelita Orona

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This is not a test of the emergency broadcast system. The housing market just sent up the clearest distress signal since the Federal Reserve began raising rates.

Sentiment among homebuilders dropped 8 points in November to 60 in the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. Economists had expected it to remain unchanged at 68.

The November reading is the lowest since August 2016, when the economy appeared to hit an air-pocket prior to the election of Donald Trump. Last year, the index was at 69 in November and headed toward its December high point of 74.

The problem is affordability. Rising interest rates combined with high home prices have put new homes out of reach for many Americans.

The current sales component of the homebuilder’s index fell 7 points to 67. The expectations for sales component crashed 10 points. Buyer traffic dived 8 points to 45, deep into negative territory in the index where scores above 50 indicate expansion.

Mortgage rates have gone up a full percentage point over the last 12 months, thanks largely to the Federal Reserve’s policy of raising its overnight target and shrinking its balance sheet of government debt and government-sponsored mortgage bonds.

Homebuilding has a large impact on the economy because it employs workers in a variety of trades and new home purchases tend to drive sales of everything from home appliances to electronics and even cars.

By region, the South and West, often the harbingers of housing nationwide, were both sharply lower at 65. The Midwest and Northeast at 52 were both also sharply lower.

The index reading was so low that many wondered if it was a misprint or simply an anomaly. This week will feature an array of housing data that should clarify if the NAHB index properly read the housing market.

U.S. soldiers rolled out more razor wire along the U.S.-Mexican border on Monday, but the more important fight took place in a San Francisco courtroom where President Donald Trump’s deputies defended his asylum reforms from pro-immigration ACLU lawyers.
The judge did not immediately issue a nationwide “Temporary Restraining Order” that would block the reforms, as hoped by the pro-immigration groups.

Trump’s November 9 reform allows migrants who arrive at the ports of entry to apply for full asylum. But the policy penalizes illegal migrants by preventing them from applying for a full asylum once they are caught sneaking over the border.

The illegal migrants are still allowed to apply for a limited asylum, dubbed “withholding of removal.” Officials say the reform follows the law by providing asylum-like protections to illegal migrants, but it does not allow the migrants to become citizens, and also helps border officials quickly deport the migrants.

The lawsuit is being heard by an English-born judge, Jon S. Tigar. He was appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2012 to a seat on the very progressive, migrant-friendly Ninth Circuit. If he rules against Trump’s “withholding of departure” reform, Justice Department will ask the Supreme Court to quickly reverse the judge’s decision.

The ACLU and its allies argue that all migrants who enter U.S. territory must be allowed to make a request for a full asylum — even if the U.S. territory is on the Mexican side of the border wall or is in the U.S. half of the Rio Grande river.

This one-foot-asylum policy would help large groups of economic migrants — such as the progressive-backed caravan of several thousand Hondurans — legally overwhelm U.S. border defenses. For example, on November 12 and 13, coyotes delivered 654 migrants, most of whom are parents with children, or youths traveling alone, to the U.S. side of the border near Yuma Arizona, according to a DHS statement. Once on U.S. territory, the illegal migrants ask for asylum — and often get catch-and-release if the local border officials do not have enough detention space.

Trump’s asylum reform curbs the caravan by pressuring the migrants to wait in line at the official “ports of entry,” rather than by just walking over the invisible borderline in the sand or the river to claim amnesty.

At the same time, officials are also limiting the number of migrants who can apply for asylum each day at the official ports of entry.

The waiting process, dubbed “metering,” allows officials to begin processing roughly 100 migrants per day. The complex legal process takes at least 40 days to accomplish, so a daily intake of 100 people per day adds up to roughly 4,000 people in detention from one entry point.

The metering process allows officials to keep a manageable number of people in the process, and to perhaps sharply reduce the number of migrants who are being released into the United States via the “catch and release” loopholes.

Ending catch-and-release is vital because it would stop migrants from getting the U.S jobs which fund the migration process. Without access to jobs, migrants cannot pay their smuggling debts to the cartels, and cannot hire the cartels to bring their spouses and children up to the United States. If the migrants cannot pay their smuggling debts, the cartels’ labor-trafficking business will shrink.