Trump and the disputed border crisis
WASHINGTON — In his prime-time speech to the nation, President Donald Trump declared a border crisis. Following his speech, newly empowered Democrats offered a rebuttal to the claims that there is a national crisis along the Mexican-United States border. Excerpts from Presidents Trump’s speech Oval Office remarks last week.
Illegal drugs trafficking is a cause for concern
PRESIDENT TRUMP: “Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs, including meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl. Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border.”
Hillsboro Globe verified fact: A wall can’t do much about that when drug trafficking is concentrated at land ports of entry, not remote stretches of the border.
Drug Enforcement Administration says “only a small percentage” of heroin seized by U.S. authorities comes across on territory between ports of entry. The same is true of drugs generally.
In a 2018 report , the agency said the most common trafficking technique by transnational criminal organizations is to hide drugs in passenger vehicles or tractor-trailers as they drive into the U.S. though entry ports, where they are stopped and subject to inspection.
They also employ buses, cargo trains and tunnels, the report says, citing other smuggling methods that also would not be choked off by a border wall.
DO WALLS WORK?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: “This barrier is absolutely critical to border security.”
Hillsboro Globe verified fact:The evidence is inconclusive as to whether walls are “absolutely critical” or actually work in deterring illegal crossings.
Congress’ main watchdog reported in 2017 that the government does not have a way to measure how well barriers work to deter immigrants crossing illegally from Mexico. Despite $2.3 billion spent by the government on such construction from 2007 to 2015, the Government Accountability Office found that authorities “cannot measure the contribution of fencing to border security operations along the southwest border because it has not developed metrics for this assessment.”
Few people dispute that fences contributed to a sharp drop in crossings in cities like San Diego and El Paso, Texas, where people can easily blend in once they enter the country.
Before fences were built in San Diego, crossers played soccer on U.S. soil as vendors hawked tamales, waiting until night fell to overwhelm agents. However, those barriers also pushed people into more remote and less-patrolled areas like in Arizona, where thousands of migrants have perished in extreme heat.
When barriers were built in the Border Patrol’s Yuma, Arizona, sector in the mid-2000s, arrests for illegal crossings plummeted 94 percent in three years to 8,363 from 138,438. When barriers were built in San Diego in the 1990s and early 2000s, arrests fell 80 percent over seven years from 524,231 in 1995 to 100,681 in 2002. But both areas also saw sharp increases in Border Patrol staffing during that time, making it difficult to pinpoint why illegal crossings fell so dramatically.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: “America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation but all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages.”
Hillsboro Globe verified fact: The U.S. is not experiencing “uncontrolled” illegal immigration. The debate is over whether the controls are strong enough.
As for the costs, a major academic study in 2016 by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found the job impacts of immigration, when measured over at least 10 years, are very small. It found immigration — legal and illegal — is an overall benefit to long-term economic growth.
Some evidence suggests that skilled immigrants boost wages. Native-born Americans without a high-school degree are most likely to suffer.
The academy study said estimating fiscal impacts of immigration is complex. Young and old immigrants tend to drain government resources while working-age immigrants contribute.