Border Wall: “Bleeding Heart Conservative” Perspective

Border Wall: “Bleeding Heart Conservative” Perspective January 11, 2019

[condensed and expanded from my portions of intense Facebook discussions over the  last few days]

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One of my friends asked: “I don’t know what the obsession is with good Catholics and Trump’s wall thing. I’d like if we distributed the 5.7B to the poor in our country and beyond instead of bricks.”

I do confess that I am “obsessed” with preventing people from being killed by illegal immigrants who commit crime (of whom there are multiple thousands: folks like MS-13, who like to slaughter their victims with machetes), and with preventing the illegal immigrants themselves being raped or trafficked or forced to be drug runners by evil people. According to a 2016 United Nations article:

Criminal groups in Mexico kidnap more than 20,000 migrants each year. The Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (Mexican National Human Rights Commission (CNDH)) reported that in six months, between 2008 to 2009, nearly 10,000 migrants were kidnapped, and in the first six months of 2011, 11,333 migrants were kidnapped. Once captured by criminal groups, the families of the migrants are contacted for ransom money. Migrants whose families are unable to pay may be killed. Meanwhile, the migrants may face torture and abuse.

In addition to the risks of extortion, kidnapping, and violence that migrants face, migrant women are also vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence, including rape and sexual assault. Women experience sexual violence and forced disappearances often near the border. According to Amnesty International, 60% of migrant women and girls are raped while migrating, while other data indicate that 80% of women experience rape and sexual assault during the migration process.

An article from the Texas Department of Public Safety provides the grim statistics about crime and illegal immigrants for just this one state:

Between June 1, 2011 and December 31, 2018, these 186,000 illegal aliens were charged with more than 292,000 criminal offenses which included arrests for 539 homicide charges; 32,443 assault charges; 5,695 burglary charges; 36,840 drug charges; 395 kidnapping charges; 15,859 theft charges; 23,487 obstructing police charges; 1,650 robbery charges; 3,428 sexual assault charges; 2,152 sexual offense charges; and 2,949 weapon charges. DPS criminal history records reflect those criminal charges have thus far resulted in over 120,000 convictions including 238 homicide convictions; 13,559 assault convictions; 3,138 burglary convictions; 17,806 drug convictions; 173 kidnapping convictions; 7,064 theft convictions; 11,264 obstructing police convictions; 1,011 robbery convictions; 1,689 sexual assault convictions; 1,148 sexual offense convictions; and 1,280 weapon convictions.

These figures only count individuals who previously had an encounter with DHS that resulted in their fingerprints being entered into the DHS IDENT database. Foreign nationals who enter the country illegally and avoid detection by DHS, but are later arrested by local or state law enforcement for a state offense will not have a DHS response in regard to their lawful status and do not appear in these counts.

Multiple thousands are dying from heroin and other drugs that overwhelmingly come through the southern border. Having been a landlord of a heroin addict for a year, I understand a little about that and have seen firsthand what drugs do. My wife also has a friend (Mexican-Arab) who is missing in Peru and could very well be a victim of sex trafficking (it has been an international news story). So again, we know of what we speak.

Drug deaths are increasing at an alarming rate: and most of those drugs come from the south of the border, as documented in an August 2018 article from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It noted in summary, among its many dire statistics:

The highest rise was seen for deaths involving other synthetic opioids, with a 22-fold increase from 2002 to 2017. The final two charts show the numbers of cocaine and benzodiazepine deaths that also involved an opioid; overdoses on these drug combinations have increased by nearly 3- and 6- fold respectively.

Another greatly disturbing article from DrugAbuse.com: “Drug Trafficking Across Borders” provides many shocking facts:

Data on drug seizures at the U.S. border indicate an alarming volume of trafficking taking place in recent years. Since 2009, heroin seizures at the southwestern border have almost tripled, while meth seizures quintupled through 2014. . . .

Mexico is also the largest supplier of methamphetamine. The country has labs established on both sides of the border that are controlled by Mexican drug cartels. Although Asia and the Middle East were the largest producers of heroin, 39% of heroin identified by DEA signature programs originated from Mexico, making the southwest border the source for many heroin overdoses west of the Mississippi River. . . .

Increased drug trafficking in the U.S. has led to an epidemic level of overdoses, surpassing car accidents and firearms as the leading cause of injury and death among Americans. Drug abuse is ending too many lives, too soon.

According to data from the DEA, the number of drug overdoses has climbed more than 50% in the last decade. Death and injury can be traced back to drug-related violence, overdoses from illicit drug use, accidental deaths as a result of drug abuse and injury or death related to smuggling.

While the production of some drugs takes place within our borders, foreign drug trade into the U.S. is largely responsible for the number of dead or injured. Drug abuse has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans, and the government allots billions of dollars each year to counter the growing epidemic.

I’m obsessed with things like little children dying because their parents took them on these ultra-dangerous trips for the purpose of breaking laws of another country. In the last two “notorious” cases where liberals tried to exploit and show how evil conservatives are who are concerned about border security, the parent involved either didn’t tell officials soon enough that their child was sick, or refused help. [See USA Today article / USA Today article #2]

Border workers are neither omniscient nor omnipotent. They have to be aware that there is some serious health issue. Medical people did all they could once they found out, but it was too late? Why? I think it goes back to the parents, myself. So why is border patrol being blamed? Well, because it is standard liberal talking-points.

Walls work. See El Paso, Texas for documentation:

When the [wall] project first started in 2006, illegal crossings totaled 122,261, . . .

They hit a low of 9,678 in 2012, before slowly ticking back up to a total of 25,193 last year. . . .

And crime abated with the reduced human traffic from Juarez, considered one of the most dangerous places in the world due to drug-cartel violence, helping El Paso become one of the safest large cities in America.

Before 2010, federal data show the border city was mired in violent crime and drug smuggling, thanks in large part to illicit activities spilling over from the Mexican side. Once the fence went up, however, things changed almost overnight. El Paso since then has consistently topped rankings for cities of 500,000 residents or more with low crime rates, based on FBI-collected statistics. The turnaround even caught the attention of former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and other Obama administration officials, who touted it as one of the nation’s safest cities while citing the beefed-up border security there.

Walls don’t work and are ineffective, huh (now standard liberal boilerplate argument)?

Example #2: San Diego:

In 1986, . . . Border Patrol agents in the San Diego apprehended 629,656 people, slightly more than the population of Las Vegas. . . .

In fiscal 2016, the Border Patrol arrested 415,816 people — of which 31,891 were nabbed in San Diego County.

The San Diego wall even helped Tijuana, according to an article in Politico.com:

Over the past 24 years, including a decade living in Mexico City, I have made dozens of trips to Tijuana and watched the city slowly mature from a kind of wild west dependence on migrant-smuggling and American tourism to a more self-contained and economically viable metropolis. I grew fascinated by the emerging city that few in the United States seemed to recognize—a place with burgeoning opera and classical music scenes and a distinctive and high-quality cuisine known as Baja Med. In some areas, older buildings are being redeveloped and in-filled. Locals have created boutiques, clothing lines, microbreweries, small but striving tech and film industries, art galleries and more—all of which serve Tijuana’s middle class and a new cohort of rambunctious, globally aware hipsters who have grown up since the mid-1990s. Bus depots that once deposited tourists or prospective migrants near the border daily have closed. The old hooker hotels are fading, and lofts and artist spaces have sprouted up. Today, Tijuana’s economy is among the most robust in Mexico.

So yeah, reasons like these are why I am “obsessed” with it. I think they are consistent with being a good Catholic. Perhaps many non-conservative Catholics are unaware of reasons such as these that lie behind the concern of many politically conservative Catholics with securing our borders. They flow out of compassion and Christian love and humanitarian motives, not any sort of prejudice or hatred: as the nationally elected Democrats imply every day.

As for distributing a bunch of money to poor people: we tried that in this country these past 55 years. It was called the Great Society and it was a dismal failure. Check out the inner cities (in big cities almost always run by Democrats for 30, 40, 50 years or more) anywhere to see abundant proof of that.

What we do to help poor people is create jobs for them to become upwardly mobile, and to create educational opportunities. President Trump is doing that big-time, with the lowest unemployment rate ever for Hispanics and African-Americans. According to an editorial in the Chicago Tribune (5-7-18):

The unemployment rate is now 3.9 percent for all Americans, the lowest level since 2000, while the jobless rate for black workers is 6.6 percent, the lowest figure since record-keeping began in the early 1970s. Yes, record-low joblessness for the black population, and for Latinos, a 4.8 percent rate that ties their record low. . . . Think back to late 2010, in the wake of the Great Recession, when the overall jobless rate approached 10 percent; it was above 16 percent for blacks.

I was asked about what I’d do with a “spare” $5.7B”. First of all, it’s not “spare.” There is plenty of money around to do many things. But if I had that money and wanted to help the poor, I would create free enterprise zones (an old idea from Reaganite Jack Kemp), which greatly stimulate business in poorer communities and create wealth and opportunities.

And/or I would create scholarship funds for college to allow poor people to become educated and upwardly mobile. I would do a massive reform of public education, and allow poor inner-city parents to send their children to schools that are actually succeeding (something liberals have always opposed tooth and nail).

I don’t see that there is a great wall (no pun intended) between our faith and our political views. Obviously our faith is first and higher, but all things of life must be approached from the perspective of the faith.

There are different approaches to solve problems. It’s not true that there is but one compassionate Christian way to solve any given issue (of course the liberal one, so we’re told) and any other attempts at trying to solve the same problem are racist and bigoted, blah blah blah. Until all the ravaging of others who differ from us stops, we’ll never accomplish anything. It’s a disgrace. We don’t achieve anything good by demonizing others and lying about them. We have to work together.

I have just demonstrated the compassion and concern of one Trump voter and supporter (myself). Do I demonstrate that I have good motives and intent (agree or disagree)? Am I motivated by hatred and prejudice? Am I all these terrible things that many Never Trumpers and liberals and Democrats try their best to make people believe about conservatives and Republicans?

This is what it takes to begin political discussion again in our country. We can’t simply talk about entire groups (60 million or so voters for each party). We have to start with one person (preferably a personal friend) who differs politically from us and see what makes them tick. I don’t see anything evil or bigoted in what I’ve written. In fact, most of us are simply saying about the border what President Obama was saying in 2006, and Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi and others were saying during his presidency. If they weren’t racists and uncaring bigots and cold-hearted morons for believing so, why are we?

If we see people saying truly bad things online (who claim to be conservatives), then they are lousy, inconsistent conservatives (if at all). There are always fringe wingnuts in any huge group. The left has its wackos and crazies too on its fringe. But neither extreme group represents the mainstream.

Many thousands of people need to simply talk to those who differ from them politically. This will allow agreement to take place, more mutual respect, and less demonization, leading in turn to principled compromises and political action to solve human problems. The two parties ain’t gonna do a thing if they don’t compromise to get work done. But with most  nationally elected Democrat politicians seeming to think Trump is Hitler II, I don’t see how that’s possible.

A year ago (January 2018), President Trump suggested a compromise with the Democrats a year ago: a path to citizenship or at least legal residency status for the DACA “dreamers” in exchange for funding for a border wall. Polls showed that the majority of the GOP (including myself) supported that position.

But the Democrats flatly refused. Why? I submit that it was because they (i.e., the Democrat political leaders) weren’t interested in 1) compromise, or 2) solving real problems. They were merely interested in 1) embarrassing the President, and 2) more power.

Something like that may come up again in the current impasse, for all we know. If the congressional Democrats are to actually cooperate in order to solve real human problems, they will have to hear from their constituents at home who truly do “care about the little guy” (rather than mere political power and accumulation of personal wealth): following and continuing what used to be a good and noble Democrat Party ideal and tradition (exemplified by people like Robert F. Kennedy). I hope they will.

I’m all for legal immigration and helping those who are in terrible situations attain a better life. I’ve been writing about immigration issues since at least 2010. In a post about refugees, dated 11-21-15, I stated my position (which has not changed at all):

Bring the refugees in by the multiple thousands (I put up a paper on my blog five years ago about immigrants — even illegal ones — citing Church statements on compassionate treatment), but they must be vetted, just as immigrants have always been. . . .

This is not an either/or situation. It’s not “totally uncontrolled [including illegal] immigration” vs “evil nativist conservative bigots and fear-mongers” who oppose all immigration, legal or illegal.

That is not the case. Most of us who have legitimate concerns are quite as compassionate as the bleeding-heart liberals.. . .

There is a sensible middle here on the refugee crisis, that is quite consistent with Catholic teaching and traditional (and singular) American compassion and willingness to take in the “huddled masses”, . . .

Here are additional articles of mine on the immigration issue and related ones, for anyone who is interested. I write about this because I care about the issues and the people involved, and because I think all of life must be seen through a Catholic and scriptural lens:
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Debate on Deportation of Illegal Immigrants (vs. Andy Kirchoff) [2-21-12]
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Intense Immigration Dialogue (w John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe) [9-23-17]
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Do Jesus and the Bible Advocate Open Borders? [9-18-17; expanded on 6-21-18]
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Photo credit: The successful border fence / wall in El Paso, Texas. Photograph by Jonathan McIntosh (9-14-09) [Flickr / CC BY 2.0 license]
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