Thursday, January 17, 2019

Border “Crisis”? Nope

Update 5-5-19The continuing crisis has morphed somewhat.  There now seems to be a bigger population of migrants classifiable as refugees seeking asylum than guest workers looking for work. 

This is for reasons beyond our control:  the effect of at least 3 failed states in Central America.  This might be temporary,  or it might be permanent.  Statements by the various border control agencies do confirm this assessment,  whether worded that way or not.

The problem:  we are set up to pursue and deal with illegal migrant workers (a problem we created with artificially-low quotas for guest worker visas).  Most of these folks are Mexican residents,  not Central American refugees. 

We are not set up to deal humanely with refugee families from Central America.  THAT is what the border control agencies are really telling us they cannot deal with. 

I have already described what to do about the Mexican guest worker problem:  revise the visa quotas to reflect the demonstrable size of that particular job market. That is something for Congress to do,  and they have ignored this for ~7 decades now,  thus creating the 10-12 million strong illegal alien population in the US. 

My fellow citizens:  PLEASE HOLD YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATION ACCOUNTABLE FOR THAT FAILURE!  That applies to both the House and the Senate. 

If your current representation does not talk about fixing this,  then elect someone new.  You could NOT POSSIBLY do any worse!

I have also described the ONLY ethical way to handle the exploding refugee problem:  staff up and just deal with it!  More judges,  more personnel in general,  and more facilities appropriate to the task (and tent cities along the Texas and Arizona borders are NOT what I mean !!!). 

Several administrations in recent years have neglected this issue,  but the current Trump administration is quite egregiously failing to deal with this at all.  They are motivated by a self-evident "we want no brown-skinned immigrants at all" policy,  if you deign to call that a policy.

I do not:  this is racism far beyond the abhorrent "Jim Crow" type,   this is closer to that utter abomination demonstrated by the Nazi Germans during World War Two.

It manifests as who showed up as a lot of the pro-Trump supporters at Charlottesville,  VA,  for one. These included a lot of people wearing Nazi uniforms,  carrying torches and swastika flags,  and other Nazi regalia.  Despite what Trump said,  those are NOT "fine people". 

Face the truth:  there are no good Nazis!  There never were.

My fellow citizens:  PLEASE HOLD THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ACCOUNTABLE FOR THIS UTTER FAILURE TO CONFORM TO MINIMAL STANDARDS FOR HUMAN DECENCY !!!!   

I don't care whether this accounting is his non-re-election in 2020,  or his impeachment and conviction / removal from office sooner. 

Just do it!  Before he finishes destroying our country by artificially dividing it (with lies) for political gain (his playbook since entering the race in 2015).  His fact-checking rate is almost exactly 0%.

As for details about how to properly handle guest workers and refugees seeking asylum,  read on. I also deal with border smugglers (drugs or people). 

Update 2-3-19:  see below at end.
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This “crisis” is not about compromising on wall funding vs DACA,  it is about the hurtful practice of holding America hostage,  by means of damaging government shutdowns,  to get a political desire not otherwise obtainable.  This evil practice has to stop,  and this time around is as good a time as any,  to put a permanent stop to such behavior. 

The border “crisis” itself goes far beyond just walls and DACA.  “They” are lying to you when they cast it only in those terms!  Both sides in Congress,  and the administration,  chronically lie about this issue,  but the Trump administration has been (by far) the most egregious with its lying. 

Most of the so-called “news” about this is also a lie,  even if only lying-by-omission.  Be careful of your sources:  if you hear no divergent voices to your own opinions,  then you are in an echo chamber being fed propaganda.  “Propaganda” is just a long-winded way of spelling “lie”.

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Asylum seekers,  guest workers,  and cross-border smugglers are different problems with different solutions.  Only false political arguments lump them together.

Government statistics prove that asylum seekers and guest workers are less likely to commit crimes than US citizens at large.  There is no real threat there,  despite all the “justification” claims by the Trump administration.

“Less likely” is not zero,  there are bad apples in any barrel.  Finding the bad ones at the border crossings merely requires adequate staffing to do the job.  A wall does not help that.

Cross-border smugglers are the drug cartel and gang members;  those are the real threat.

Asylum seekers

The number of refugees seeking asylum at our southern border is up in recent years.  The reasons why are not under our control. 

These people have the legal right to cross the border and ask an official for asylum.  There is no question about that aspect of federal law,  despite all the political denials. 

This legal right was illegally denied by the Trump administration,  by means of “criminalizing” any crossing not at a port-of-entry,  then claiming that “criminality” as an excuse not to hear the cases and separate children.  That law is settled:  it does not care where the asylum-seeker crossed. 

Trump administration officials have admitted in public that they intended to use the threat of separation of children as a deterrent to stop other asylum seekers.  This is not just immoral,  it is evil.

It is a fact that we have too few immigration judges to hear these asylum requests.  The backlog is unconscionably high,  and getting far worse with the shutdown.

Our holding facilities were designed to handle men,  not women and children.  This plus the backlog leads to cages and tent cities.  These are an immoral evil,  that no one can deny.

A whole-border wall “fixes” none of this.

Why not repair the asylum process and staff-up to do it right?  That would be far cheaper than any wall,  and it frees up many of our agents to chase the cross-border smugglers instead!

Guest workers

This is a very old problem,  the result of about 7 decades of neglect by Congress.

The quota limit of ~120,000 per year for legal workers is about 10-100 times too small.  This is where our ~10-11 million illegal immigrant population grew from,  over those same decades of neglect. 

The jobs are here,  the workers that will do them are from down there.  They have to come just to eat,  legal or illegal.  A guest worker visa itself is not a path to citizenship,  but it need not preclude the holder from seeking such. 

Our border agents,  tied up trying to stop so many illegal guest workers,  cannot also deal so effectively with the cross-border smugglers.

A whole-border wall “fixes” little to none of this,  because any wall can be defeated.

Why not just adjust the guest worker visa quotas to realistic levels (and staff up to track them properly,  not done now),  thus freeing a great many border agents to deal with the smugglers? 

Smugglers (of People or Drugs)

Government data clearly shows most drugs come through designated and manned ports of entry,  hidden among legal cargoes.  A whole-border wall does nothing to fix that problem.

Some drugs come by sea or air.  A whole-border wall does nothing to fix that problem.

Asylum seekers do resort to illegal smuggling,  because legal entry has been made so difficult.  And the recent Trump administration rules changes have worsened that entry difficulty,  further incentivizing their resort to smugglers. 

Our border agents are too tied up dealing with asylum seekers and illegal guest workers to deal adequately with cross-border smugglers. 

Why not just fix the two problems (asylum seekers and guest workers) that are sopping up all the agent manpower?  Turn them loose upon the smugglers. 

About the Whole-Border Wall

This was a campaign promise to wall-off the entire southern border.  Sounds great as a sound bite,  but it won’t fix the real problems.

Such a wall is ineffective because defeating a wall is easy:  ladders,  ropes,  gloves,  shovels,  bolt cutters,  and saws-alls are all very much cheaper than fences or walls of any type.

Border walls are ineffective against the majority of the drug smuggling,  because they cross at ports-of-entry,  not all along the border.

According to government statistics,  there are no terrorists at the southern border.  There have been a small handful apprehended at the northern border,  but by far the most were apprehended at airports.  Despite the false claims,  terrorists are no reason for a whole-border wall.

Building a whole-border wall requires the government taking private lands by eminent domain.  This is extremely unpopular in Texas,  especially among border region landowners.  This is true regardless of party affiliation,  according to the polls.  As well it should be. 

Repairs or additions to existing border fencing are fine,  but there is quite obviously no need for a whole-border wall. 

About the Shutdown

The government shutdown is merely a way to hold hostage some Americans,  the US economy,  and US public safety,  in order to fulfill a campaign promise in a highly-visible wayThis does increasing damage the longer it goes on.

The President cannot do this alone.  Key members of Congress must collude with him,  for this damaging grandstand play to be successful.  They do damage to the country for party advantage.

The House and Senate both already had funding bills that contained border security funding, including for barriers.  There are enough votes in the House and Senate,  to pass one of those existing bills,  and end this shutdown,  right now!  There are actually enough votes to override a Presidential veto.

Trump reneged on his promise to sign one of those existing bills,  because of bad publicity he got from the gadflies on Fox-and-Friends and talk-radio.  That is no justification for damaging the country.

In the Senate,  majority leader Mitch McConnell will not allow any of the Senate funding bills to come to a vote without pre-approval from Trump.  Since when does the Senate need approval from the President to do its business? 

This is McConnell prioritizing party advantage above providing for the good of the country.  Is that what any of you really want?  Damaging the country to score political “points”?

What Are the Right Things To Do?

The opposition in Congress cannot give in to hostage blackmail from the White House that is damaging and endangering the country.  Yielding only ensures this evil behavior will be repeated in the future.

The House and Senate need to pass one of the existing funding bills as fast as they can,  and end this travesty.  They should have done this the very first week

If necessary,  the House and Senate should quickly override a Trump veto.   The votes are there to do it.


If Mitch McConnell will not cease obstructing these votes,  then the Senate needs a new majority leader,  one who knows that the good of the country outweighs other considerations!   

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For $5 billion,  you could hire more than 20,000 new immigration judges and their support staff,  border agents and their support staff,  and beaucoup other paperwork officers and clerks to track visas.  This assumes on-average about $200,000 each,  annually,  to cover salaries and benefits.  Some cost more,  some less,  but that’s a decent ballpark cost figure for estimates.  Over-20,000 is a whole lot more people than we have now,  working these problems.

That means you could staff up to take care of asylum seekers properly,  while cutting the processing delay to near zero,  and thus reducing the need for proper holding facilities.  It means you could staff up to issue a whole lot more guest worker visas,  and actually track them to ensure proper renewals and no overstays.  And,  the DACA problem goes away within a generation,  once these guest workers are legal. 

Doing those two items correctly frees up a whole lot of border agents to deal with the smugglers a whole lot more effectively!  And very likely with some money left over to upgrade or replace existing border fences,  and to add some more,  where such is actually needed. 

Together,  that solves all the problems,  and without doing an inherently-defeatable whole-border wall,  and taking people’s lands to build it (which takes years to accomplish)!  And so doing this right actually solves the problems quicker,  to boot!

Now,  the facts are quite different from the propaganda,  which is why I wrote this article.  The sane things to do are quite different from the campaign slogans and sound bite crap we are being fed.  

Why on God’s green Earth would anyone with two working brain cells to rub together,  actually believe we need hundreds more miles of tall wall along our southern border?  When we can do far more,  for less money,  and get a better result?

I recommend you apply “grassroots term limits” and vote all these corrupt incumbents out,  who have been damaging our country for nothing but political points scored.  That applies to both parties,  the current senate majority leader,  and the current occupant of the White House.  They all get corrupted by the big money that infects our system everywhere,  within about 1 term in office.  We don’t need that.  No more.

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Update 2-3-19 The end of the shutdown came with a bipartisan passage of yet another short continuing resolution.  Trump signed,  I presume so as not to endure the bad publicity of a veto override.  Yet this is just another in a long series of very short-term continuing resolutions;  this one only 3 weeks!  What looms quickly is another shutdown,  or else serious abuse of the emergency powers law. That is entirely unacceptable!

One of Congress's mandated jobs is funding the government for the fiscal year,  not just temporarily!  This chronic continuing resolution process is nothing but abusing the process to play party politics instead of doing the people's business.  It damages the country.  It is clear evidence of mis-prioritizing party advantage above the public good!

In my opinion,  that is a crime against all Americans. It has gone unpunished for decades.

As I said above,  we voters already have the "grassroots term limits" power.  Vote these people out of office!  It really doesn't matter who,  or what party,  replaces them!  Just exactly how could you do worse than what you have now?

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