Trump delivers primetime address to retell “Immigrants are Scary” greatest hits

Let’s start with the obvious: there is no justification for spending $5 billion on the wall. It’s a bad idea. Not because it’s racist or old-fashioned or because “Mexico is our friend” or any of those things, though that’s all true. It’s a bad idea because it’s the most expensive possible solution to about 1% of one our country’s least emergent problems.

Look, our infrastructure is failing. Our medical costs are the highest in the world while medical outcomes lag behind, and not enough of our people have health insurance. Even during this long economic expansion, worker incomes are barely keeping pace with inflation while ever-more wealth concentrates to an elite few. Those elite few are paying record low effective tax rates, which is why our deficit is back through the roof. We’re treading water in Afghanistan and the Middle East. All the world’s scientists think we’re on a path to runaway global warming and its accompanying social calamities. Sometimes my Pepsi gets stuck in the vending machine.

We’ve spent the past two years dealing with none of that. Instead, we’ve shut down the federal government until one of our two political parties agrees to pay a $5 billion ransom to fund a giant medieval wall on the southern border.

Futuristic wall-defeating device, probably from Star Trek or something similar. The wall should work just fine unless someone figures out how to create one of these.

Meanwhile, immigration from Mexico has been net negative since the Great Recession. It hit over a million per year around 2000, when we really started pouring some resources into the border. Now we have drones, thousands of Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) agents, and billions of dollars dedicated to this issue. It is working! Right now, the number of apprehensions at the border are at a 45-year low, even with a record high number of CBP agents at the border.

Polling data isn’t perfect, but gives some idea of the order of magnitude of this problem. It suggests Mexico has been gaining people over the past 10 years. | Mother Jones via Pew Research.

Some people and drugs still get through, but the majority of illegal immigrants come in legally before overstaying their visas (not a border security issue), and the drugs overwhelmingly come on vehicles at legal ports of entry. We can’t logistically stop every single car for a search but even if we could, we wouldn’t use a wall to do it.

So, naturally, our president decided now is the time to shut down the government until he gets $5 billion for a big ol’ wall on the southern border…to protect us all from crime, drugs, and terrorism. You’ve got to be kidding.

A man, using a ladder to scale a wall. Probably an Ebola-carrying, Mexican terrorist Democrat man.

The Trump Administration’s own CBP reports there were 12 people on the terror watch list caught crossing the southern border in all of 2018. There were 41 such people caught crossing from the north. The north. Canada. No one wants a wall up there.

The hand of either an innocent child or a future violent monster-beast, depending on whether you’re scared of shadows.

As for crime, yes, illegal immigrants do occasionally commit crime. But they do so at lower rates than native-born Americans. Focusing resources to keep out people that commit less crime than we do is not a recipe for eliminating crime.

So, why on Earth does Trump even want this? Well, Donald Trump is pretty racist. He began his candidacy calling Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers (and some, he assumed, are good people) with no evidence. He once took out a full-page ad in the New York Times calling for the death penalty for the Central Park Five, a group of young black men accused of murder who were later exonerated. He has never apologized for this or admitted fault. We all remember how he felt about the Nazis in Charlottesville.

So last night he went on TV all across the nation, trading on the prestige of a primetime platform only a president can demand, and said the same things he’s been saying since 2015. Immigrants are bad. Some come from the south. Drugs come from the south. Did I mention some immigrants are criminals? Oh, let me tell you. Build the wall!

This whole thing is so crazy that while Trump was running for president, his campaign team actually came up with the “Build the Wall” theme for him because they thought it was a political winner and were afraid he would forget to mention it unless they gave him a simple slogan. He never took this seriously.

He still doesn’t take it seriously. That’s the only explanation for why President Trump wants a wall but can’t tell you why we need one, what it will be made from, how much it will cost or who is going to pay. Along the way, though, he convinced his supporters it was a necessity. Now he’s afraid of losing support, so he’s stuck with the government shutdown begging for a wall he cannot get. No one knows how this one ends.

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