January 12, 2019

Crisis at the Border: The One at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below

Of Thee I Sing Heading AuthorsThat’s the border (the address) that separates the White House from the rest of Washington, and President Trump from reality. We have no crisis at our border with Mexico, no national emergency and no threat to our national security that a wall would alleviate.

There are 48 designated border crossings across our southland where people legally (but sometimes with illegal intent) cross the border between Mexico and the United States every day. Some of those designated crossing points, such as San Ysidro, California, have numerous additional designated points of entry within their jurisdictions. Collectively, these are the primary points of entry through which drugs or bad people infiltrate the United States from Mexico.  There are another 118-border crossing points between the United states and Canada, and they have seen their share of mischievous travelers heading to the United States too.

It is not our point to suggest that a wall or some other barrier should not be built along our border to the south or the north. But let’s get serious. Bad people and lots of drugs do cross our borders, and, according to government data, almost all of it comes, surreptitiously, through these legal check points.

There is a border crisis though. It was created when candidate Trump decided, as a campaign ploy, to make building a wall between Mexico and the United States the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Millions of Americans internalized candidate Trump’s exhortation that drugs, rapists and murderers were flooding across our southern border. “Build that Wall,” became a rallying cry. It was Trump’s “Remember the Alamo.” It was a crass meme—a call to action, easy to remember, easy language with which to excite people, and easily passed along from one person to the next.

It is a campaign rallying cry run amok, and it has the President trapped in his own mischievous rhetoric. Hundreds of thousands of government employees are out of work (or, more properly stated, out of income) and thousands of other workers are out of work and income because the private-sector services they provide to government facilities and to government families are, for the time being, suspended. This orchestrated massive hardship to thousands of American families is a travesty, and when they do finally come back to work, these families will begin receiving paychecks that will remain frozen to 2018 levels thanks to one of President Trump’s most recent executive orders.

There are documented cases in which real terrorists have come across our borders. In 2001 nineteen of them flew in and landed in New York with legally obtained visas in hand, and went on to murder over 3,000 Americans in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Then there was that case in 1999 when Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian citizen living in Montreal, Canada, was arrested trying to bring a cache of massive explosives into the United States aboard a ferry from Canada at Port Angeles, Washington.  His target was Los Angeles International Airport. And during the Second World War Nazi saboteurs came ashore in Connecticut to commit mayhem in the United States. The one thing these cases, and others like them, have in common is that none of them involved terrorists who crossed into the United States from Mexico.

A study by the CATO Institute found that from 1975 through 2017, seven people who entered the U.S. illegally from “special interest” countries — states tied at least loosely to terrorism — were convicted of planning attacks on U.S. soil. None crossed from Mexico. They came from Canada or jumped ship in U.S. ports, and all before special interest countries were classified as such. The only known terrorists who crossed illegally from Mexico in those decades were three ethnic Albanians from Macedonia who came as children with their parents in 1984 and, in their 20s, were arrested in the foiled plot to attack the Fort Dix, New Jersey, Army base in 2007.

When there were disorders at our border with Mexico a few weeks ago by some members of the caravan from Honduras, the disruption took place near a guarded designated border crossing. They weren’t crashing through an unguarded border somewhere south of Arizona or New Mexico or Texas. Nearly everyone who arrived at our border with that caravan, was, and is, waiting, patiently, and under horrendous living conditions for an opportunity to properly present their applications for political asylum. And by all accounts, they will be waiting a very long time.

While we do not believe a wall between the United States and Mexico serves any urgent purpose, this essay isn’t really about opposing a wall. Our point is that President Trump has attempted to foment an aura of hysteria over the need for a wall between the United States and our neighbor to the south.

Do illegal immigrants commit crimes in the United States? Of course, some do, but overwhelmingly most do not. Do visitors with legal visas commit crimes in the United States? Of course, some do, but overwhelmingly, most do not. Do American citizens commit crimes in the United States? Of course, some do, but overwhelmingly, most do not. President Trump knows this, but he also knows that the artful use of information to mislead or to influence the public is an effective, time-tested rhetorical device. It’s called a red herring. It is a metaphorical distraction, a diversion.

Hundreds of thousands of fellow Americans are working without pay or denied their jobs (having been furloughed). There is indeed a crisis at a border, but it is nowhere near Mexico. It’s the border at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.


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16 responses to “Crisis at the Border: The One at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”

  1. I joanne hirschfield says:

    Tell it to the democrats! The people that guard say we need a wall! U are simply an never trumpet! He has many faults but his policy’s are what we need in my opinion!

  2. Reena Graber Blumenfeld says:

    I so look forward to reading your essays
    You are right on about all of this mess!
    When will this president see the LiGHT ?
    My guess is never!

  3. Ted Goldman says:

    $5.7 billion for a barrier is a rounding error in a $4.4 trillion budget. This is a political battle.
    Israel’s barrier is effective. So is the wall around many of our desert communities.
    As a retired Federal employee I find the reference to their work efforts an unnecessary gratuitous insult.

  4. Paticia Levy says:

    I believe the people that live and work at the border know the truth and they say we need the wall. Trump is our last chance at ending the massive corruption within our government. I wish more people would get over their elitist criticism of his style of getting things done. Look what he has accomplished in two years, even with a corrupt media, fbi, cia and politicians throwing up road blocks . Imagine what could be achieved to rebuild this great nation if he had the support that Obama did. Unfortunately, most people get their news from biased, corrupt msm and that is how they form their opinions. We finally have a leader that loves this country and we should do everything we can to support him.

  5. Helen Lewis says:

    Too bad you don’t write editorials for one of our major newspapers so everyone could have a chance to read your well thought out and truthful assessment of our immigration problem. You are so right it isn’t so terrible to build a wall but it isn’t alright to use the wall as a rallying cry so our President can divert public opinion from the really important issues facing this country. Bravo you both do a great job to inform your readers

  6. Irwin yablans says:

    For two years this country has endured the shame and embarrassment of this man.
    It is painful to read the comments by some people on your essay. Some still refuse to see what should be obvious to any reasonable person. They will forgive every transgression. People who have been the objects of hate and exclusion themselves ignore his divisive rants and excuse his attacks on our hallowed institutions.
    The assault on our free press continues. Every American should be appalled by that, regardless of their their political beliefs.
    Keep writing these objective essays.They provide a forum that provokes thought and insight on these momentous times.

  7. Leonard Sherman says:

    I am a veteran of World War Two and I fought in the Pacicic for three years. Our country defeated both the Japanese and the Germans in Europe. It is beyond my comprehension for me to understand why the most powerful nation on the planet cannot defeat the illegal immigration problem. We have the military, the scientists, and the technology to do so.

  8. judy says:

    I for one believe protecting are Borders are a top priority. Having lived in AZ I know how dangerous these folks coming in illegally are for residents; I fear for our grandchildren. Talk to the folks that live in San Diego, they beg for walls and any other protection they can get. I also know several “Anchor Babies”, their parents chose to break our law vs “apply” and applying for citizenship.

    I believe that those that have no problem with illegals to take in a family and “sponsor” them as some of my family and friends have done.

    Do I always like the way that our President expresses himself NO but I do believe it’s his responsibility to protect our Borders by whatever means possible. Listen to the folks working on the Border, they know best what is needed.

    You may want to go back and listen to videos of Obama, Pelosi, Schumer and others have said in support of the wall in the past…..

    My opinion…. they now object because the President is asking and purely political now…. Putting many at risk. Personally, I feel much safer with walls around our club and homes….. just sayin

  9. Andy Lask says:

    Can’t say I disagree with Hal. The reality is we are where we are and this shut down needs to be concluded. For years we’ve heard of the plight of the dreamers by the Democrats. DACA was created by executive order by President Obama. Why can’t the people we send to congress negotiate an agreement that funds border security, including, in places where it’s needed the most, a wall/fence/barrier, and legislate a path to citizenship for the dreamers, and make sure the separation of parents and children never occurs again? This is the opportunity to get as much from the President as the Democrats want. They both can spin this as a win and get our government back to work. If the Democrats are relying on stopping the President from re-election solely on this issue, then they are in trouble. If Mrs. Pelosi feels the wall is immoral and it has nothing to do with her opposition to Trump, than I suggest we relocate the portion of our wall/fence/barrier (whatever the politically correct term is) between Mexico and California and move it to Arizona and Texas.

  10. Perry says:

    This is more political than necessity as to the border wall.

    The intransigence of the leftist Democratic party will
    ultimately lead to an ever growing bigger threat to America
    in leading us to more socialist programs and less patriotic
    meaningful love of our country. The leadership of the new
    Democratic party is now held hostage to an ever increasing
    leftist fringe which threatens too many institutions of freedom
    in America.
    President Trump is erratic at best but in a way also he has
    accomplished quite a score in a lobbyist controlled D.C. He
    very well might go down in history as being not a good POTUS
    at all, but there is no arguing on his accomplishments too.

  11. Mike says:

    While I respect the editorial opinions, what continues to amaze me is the fact that no one talks about the cost of this problem. If the statistics are true, California spends about $70,000 plus per illegal immigrant. Illinois spends around $46,000 plus. So how do we continue supporting this?

    Additionally, let’s also address the reality that for Democrats the flow of illegal immigrants is a pool of future voters – so who thinks that Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer really cares about the impact this is having on the country.

  12. Sheila says:

    Hal – thank you for your sane analysis of a horrific event that is clearly pumped up for the purpose of political hysteria and . right wing optics. Trump continues to take advice from far right wing commentators like Hannity and Ann Coulter, while shutting down conservative colleagues like Lindsey Graham. When will our Senate wake up remember that it is a CO-EQUAL branch of government – not a lackey to Trump. Even the most conservative coalitions in Congress don’t want this fiasco to continue.

    I just hope that voters remember this in 2020.

  13. Red Pill Jew says:

    Somehow, we’ve been able to exist without a wall all this time. I’d like to know a world where that could continue to be true, but that is not the world we currently inhabit. Either we need to have the will to unapologetically destroy our enemies to a large enough scale that they no longer pose a threat that calls for increased security measures to defend the homeland, or we need to have the will to unapologetically secure the homeland. We appear to have the will for neither. That’s suicide, and it’s not a suicide of Trump’s making.

    I agree that Trump has used the situation to his advantage, and I half suspect his operatives are behind the caravans, but I also think this crisis represents the single greatest opportunity for a bipartisan deal the country has ever seen. Trump has openly declared his willingness to be the villain. That gives everyone else a chance to make a deal that blames him for everything the bases of both sides will find hard to swallow. All previous POTUS in recent history have been too concerned with their likability to grab a hold of the 3rd rail of immigration with such gusto. Let Trump take the mud and make a damn deal!

    And here’s a bonus for the left and Never Trump crowd…If Trump builds the wall, and it doesn’t dramatically cut illegal immigration and drugs and crime, then everyone can say how right they were and how wrong Trump was. And all for the low low cost of several minutes of interest on our debt.

  14. Chris says:

    Red Pill, this is the best defense of Trump since he took office. Thank you.

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