Monday, November 6, 2017

Border management is not EZ.

A long-time friend whom I respect posted his opinion to Facebook in favor of the U.S. Mexican border wall. I am NOT in favor of that method of gaining control of our border. Here is my response:

Granted. But all these factors and many more would have to be analyzed and publically discussed in a properly executed environmental impact statement process, which is supposed to be completed for federal projects of this scale. I personally think the EIS process is too restrictive for some projects (it's even required for some purely administrative actions -- such as the VA home loan program, for instance) but I am very strongly in favor of strict application of the process for large-scale projects that have the potential to impose significant changes on our world. Yes, we need a secure border. I don't believe that a wall is the right way to get that. Let's start with logical, transparent, and humane immigration laws and policies and then work on political changes that encourage our neighboring governments to work with us. While we are doing that, we can continue to implement border control processes and procedures that make effective use of manpower and technology to minimize unlawful crossings and human suffering. I think we could do all of this for a fraction of the dollar cost of the wall and much less environmental and social cost. How do you control smuggling into Florida? You don't use a wall, yet the DEA, DHS, and Coast Guard are pretty effective. Of course, if we did gain complete control of the Texas/Mexico border, that would increase pressure for unlawful entry for all of the Gulf Coast states and California, so there may be a zero-sum game here (if you ignore the huge financial, environmental, and social costs to the U.S. of the wall), even if the wall were built and were 100% effective. That's one of the reasons that I strongly believe the political, legal, and social reforms are a more effective way to deal with the border issues. You and I would probably have a long and possibly contentious discussion on the way we, in the U.S., treat and control drugs such as marijuana and cocaine. May I comment that I've had some up-close-and-personal experience in working with the DEA and the State Department in counter-narcotic efforts. From that experience, I have deduced that our current policies are counterproductive and cause more human damage than the drugs they are designed to control. Please study the implementation and impacts of early 20th century prohibition (and the long-lasting negative impacts on U.S. politics and society) before we start that debate.