Border 'crisis' is overblown - Oconee Enterprise: Opinion

     Watkinsville, Oconee County, Georgia

Border 'crisis' is overblown

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Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2019 6:00 pm

To believe President Donald Trump’s claims about an insecure border causing a national crisis, one would have to completely dismiss the fact that apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border have been on the decline since 2000, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In fact, the number of apprehensions on the southwest border has decreased by 76 percent since its peak in 2000.

Furthermore, Republican Sen. Will Hurd was quoted a few weeks ago as calling the border crisis a “myth.”

“What I always say is building a wall from sea to shining sea is the most expensive and least effective way to do border security,” the Texas Senator told “Rolling Stone” less than two weeks ago.

Hurd, who previously served as an undercover CIA officer, represents the 23rd district of Texas, a large swath of land that makes up the majority of the Texas-Mexico border, including El Paso, Texas. His district is the largest congressional district with land along the southern border.

“Here are the facts: there is no massive wave of migrants pouring into California,” Democratic Gov. of California Jerry Brown wrote to President Trump in April 2018 in a statement that Politifact ranked as “True.”

“Overall,” he said, “immigrant apprehensions on the border last year were as low as they’ve been in nearly 50 years (and 85 percent of the apprehensions occurred outside of California).”

However, if one does believe that there is a crisis at the border—despite all evidence to the contrary—a wall wouldn’t address the type of immigration that Trump asserts has caused a crisis at the border.

In its 2017 report, the Center for Migration Studies of New York estimated the number of undocumented immigrants present in the U.S. and their methods of arrival, using data collected from the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey.

“For the past 10 years, the primary mode of entry to the undocumented population has been to overstay temporary visas,” reads the report.

The nonpartisan organization alleges in its report that the undocumented population from Mexico has decreased by 1.3 million since 2010.

In its fact-checking of President Trump’s Jan. 8 Oval Office speech addressing the “crisis,” the Washington Post reported that “the number of people caught trying to cross illegally is near 20-year lows.”

“Apprehensions of people trying to cross the southern border peaked most recently at 1.6 million in 2000 and have been in decline since, falling to just under 400,000 in fiscal 2018,” continued the Washington Post. “The decline is partly because of technology upgrades; tougher penalties in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks; a decline in migration rates from Mexico; and a sharp increase in the number of Border Patrol officers.”

In his Jan. 8 address, Trump claimed that “90 percent of [illegal drugs] floods across from the southern border.”

While, on its face, this is true, by and large illegal drugs seem to be coming into the country through legal ports of entry, rather than via illegal border crossings.

According to a 2018 report by the Drug Enforcement Administration, “a small percentage of heroin seized by [Customs and Border Protection] along the border was between Ports of Entry.”

The report continues: “The majority of the flow is through [privately-owned vehicles] entering the United States at legal ports of entry, followed by tractor-trailers, where the heroin is co-mingled with legal goods.”

The DEA reported similar statistics for methamphetamine and cocaine, noting that the majority seems to be coming into the U.S. through legal ports, although the DEA also noted that 97 percent of all methamphetamine seizures occur near the border.

And finally, if one still believes that the border wall is the right choice, a wall would be an expensive and lengthy venture that would displace Americans living near the border.

The $5.6 billion that Trump asked to be dedicated to a border wall would only build 215 feet of wall on a border that stretches over 2,300 miles.

Trump has since changed his call for a wall stretching from “sea to shiny sea” to additional reinforcements in specific areas. Tests of the steel slat border have shown that the slats can be cut through with a saw, which could prove difficult and expensive to replace.

The Rio Grande also poses a problem. Will the wall somehow follow the river—thereby wasting additional funds—or will the United States end up virtually giving land to Mexico by cutting it off with its own self-imposed wall?

Finally, if such an overwhelming crisis exists at our border, why has it only become a national concern in the past few weeks?

Trump has had two full years and a Republican-controlled Congress to erect his wall along the border. In December, while both the House and Senate were under Republican control, Congress passed a government-funding bill without funding allocations for a wall with a 100-0 vote.

Alas, if one insists that there is a crisis at the border and that a wall is necessary, then we have just one more question: Why did the Republican party wait two years to secure the southern border?

For more stories, see the Jan. 24 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, go to oconeeenterprise.com or call (706) 769-5175.

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