Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Watching the struggle over funding for a border wall, I am struck by the way in which, in one sense, President Trump has already achieved success.
He has been able to conjure up a crisis out of thin air, elevate this manufactured emergency to national attention, paralyze the government and perhaps even invoke warlike authority and bypass Congress. He may still fail, but it should worry us that a president -- any president -- can do what Trump has done.
Let's be clear: There is no crisis. The number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has been declining for a decade. The number of people caught trying to sneak across the southern border has been on a downward trend for almost 20 years and is lower than it was in 1973.
As has often been pointed out, far more people are coming to the U.S. legally and then overstaying their visas than are crossing the southern border illegally.
As for terrorism, the Cato Institute has found that, from 1975 to 2017, "there have been zero people murdered or injured in terror attacks committed by illegal border crossers on U.S. soil."
As for drugs, the greatest danger comes from fentanyl and fentanyl-like substances, which are at the heart of the opioid crisis. Most of this comes from China, either shipped directly to the United States or smuggled through Canada or Mexico. Trump has addressed the root of this problem by pressing the Chinese government to crack down on fentanyl exports, a far more effective strategy than building a physical barrier along the Mexican border.
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