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“Walker Eyes Border Wall … For The Other Border”: A Nutty Idea, Even By The Standards Of GOP Presidential Candidates

When far-right politicians endorse the construction of a massive border wall, they rarely specify which border, because it’s simply assumed they’re not overly concerned about Canadians.

When it comes to border security, it’s only natural to wonder why Republicans seem vastly more energized about our neighbors to the south than those to the north. I was delighted to see NBC’s Chuck Todd ask Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) about this yesterday.

One issue he plans to fix if elected is the terrorist threat posed by the nation’s porous borders, and he said while he’s most concerned about the southern U.S. border, he’d be open to building a wall to secure the northern border as well.

 “Some people have asked us about that in New Hampshire. They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that is a legitimate issue for us to look at,” he said.

And I’ll be eager to hear what the far-right candidate comes up with after he “looks at” building a northern border wall – because the idea is a little nutty, even by the standards of GOP presidential candidates.

For now, let’s put aside the issues – the costs, the needs, etc. – related to a building a giant wall along the U.S/Mexico border. Let’s instead consider Walker’s apparent concerns about Canada.

As the Republican governor may know – his home state is roughly along the northern border – the United States and Canada don’t simply share a lengthy land mass. There are these things known as the “Great Lakes,” which the two countries share. Even trying to build a giant wall through them would be … how do I put this gently … impractical.

The alternative, of course, is building a water-front wall along U.S. states that border the lakes. Some folks might not like the view, but we’re either going to take border security seriously or we’re not, right?

There’s also the not-so-small matter of Alaska. Even if a Walker administration takes up a plan to build a wall from Seattle to Maine, let’s not forget that the United States actually has two borders with Canada: one along Canada’s southern border, and then another along Canada’s northwestern border. Indeed, the border Alaska shares with British Columbia and Yukon Territory (about 1,500 miles) is almost as long as the border the continental United States shares with Mexico (about 1,900 miles).

Depending on how serious the Wisconsinite is about this, we’ll probably have to talk about some maritime borders, too, since we run the risks of terrorists and undocumented immigrants showing up along American shorelines in boats.

Given the Republican Party’s general hostility towards investing in American infrastructure, it’s important to note that these border walls would likely carry an enormous price tag. Nevertheless, Scott Walker considers this “a legitimate issue for us to look at,” so let the debate begin.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 1, 2015

September 1, 2015 Posted by | Border Security, Canada, GOP Presidential Candidates, Scott Walker | , , , , | 1 Comment

“Enormous Ignorance”: Sorry Donald Trump, Mexico Says It Will Not Pay For Border Wall

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s administration said there’s no truth to U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump’s assertion that the nation would pay for a wall along the border between the countries.

“Of course it’s false,” Eduardo Sanchez, Pena Nieto spokesman, said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg. “It reflects an enormous ignorance for what Mexico represents, and also the irresponsibility of the candidate who’s saying it.”

Sanchez said the government hasn’t taken Trump’s statements on the campaign trail as serious proposals. The majority of Mexicans in the U.S. follow the nation’s laws, and immigrants make up an important part of the American workforce, Sanchez said. Trump has said Mexico is sending rapists and criminals to the U.S.

On Tuesday, Trump again reiterated his assertion that Mexico would foot the bill for a wall sealing off its northern border with the United States.

“We’re not paying for it,” the billionaire said in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity. “You know how easy that is? They’ll probably just give us the money.”

Throughout the course of his presidential campaign, Trump has assured voters that his plan for a wall would be subsidized by the Mexican government.

“I watch politicians come on: ‘can you imagine, Sean, he’s saying Mexico’s going to pay? They’ll never pay.’ And I’m saying, that’s like a hundred percent,” Trump told Hannity. “That’s not like 98 percent. Sean, it’s a hundred percent they’re [going to] pay. And if they don’t pay, we’ll charge ‘em a little tariff. It’ll be paid. But we need the wall.”

Sanchez disputed that his government would fund such a project as well as the need for it.

“Mexicans in the U.S. work with passion, they do their jobs well,” Sanchez said. “His comments reflect an enormous lack of knowledge of the reality in the U.S.”

 

By: Eric Martin, Bloomberg Politics, August 12, 2015

August 16, 2015 Posted by | Border Security, Donald Trump, Mexico | , , , , | 5 Comments

“The Great Wall Of China On The Rio Grande”: The Real Costs Of Foolish Plans To ‘Secure’ The Border

Sen. Ted Cruz launched his bid for the Republican presidential nomination this week by promising to “finally, finally, finally secure the borders” and put an end to unauthorized immigration. This will warm the hearts of restrictionists, no doubt. But it should scare Americans who love their pocketbooks and liberties more than they hate undocumented Latino immigrants.

Restrictionists accuse many of these immigrants of being welfare queens who come to America illegally and live off taxpayers. Cruz has contributed to the hysteria by proposing bills barring undocumented workers from ever receiving any means-tested benefits, presumably even after they become legal.

Accusations that undocumented Latinos strain the welfare system are a red herring. If anything, immigrants, legal and illegal, constitute something of a welfare windfall. How? By coming to this country during their peak working years, after another society has borne the cost of raising and educating them, they save our system a ton of money. Studies generally don’t take this windfall effect into account, and still find that the economic contributions of low-skilled Latinos far outpace their welfare use. For example, a Texas comptroller study found that although unauthorized workers consumed about $504 million more in public services than they paid in taxes, without them, the Texas economy would shrink by 2.1 percent, or $17.7 billion. A full accounting of these folks would likely show them to be an even bigger economic boon (especially since the employment participation rate of Latino men is higher than the native born, and their overall welfare use is lower).

Meanwhile, as Cruz and his ilk whine about the (exaggerated) welfare costs of immigrants, they act as if their own plans to erect the Great Wall of China on the Rio Grande would be costless. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Cruz wants to establish “100 percent operational control” of America’s southern border by completing a double-layer fence on the entire 2,000 miles, tripling the size of the border patrol, and quadrupling the number of helicopters and cameras.

This is beyond ill conceived. First of all, 45 percent of all illegal immigrants are visa over-stayers. So Cruz’s efforts are totally irrelevant for nearly half of America’s illegal immigrants. What’s more, even the Berlin Wall, the most fortified border in modern history, was successfully breached 1,000 times every year. That rate will be a gazillion times greater on America’s southern border, which is not a barren, open expanse of land. In fact, it has a varied and rugged terrain with mountains and valleys and national parks (one the size of Rhode Island) and rivers that the wall will have to hop, skip, and jump around.

The Rio Grande has myriad tributaries that feed millions of people on both sides of the border. If Cruz’s wall is anything like the current 18-foot-high structure with rust-red hollow posts sunk six inches apart in a concrete base, it will have to stop several miles short on each side to avoid damming the watershed, leaving major openings for people to walk through.

And what would a double-wall cost taxpayers?

It is very difficult to get a full grip, but the construction cost alone of a single-layer fence on the 1,300 or so unfenced miles would likely be upwards of $6 billion (assuming, as per a CBO study, pedestrian fencing costs of $6.5 million per mile and vehicle fencing costs of $1.7 million per mile). Annual maintenance costs would be hundreds of millions more.

Tripling the number of boots on the ground wouldn’t be cheap either. President Obama has already deployed 20,000 border patrol agents, over twice more than he inherited. Tripling this number would cost a whopping $7 billion or so more a year since, according to the CBO, the annual cost of an agent is about $171,400.

And the bill in dollars pales in comparison to the price Americans will have to pay in lost liberties.

Conservatives are outraged when the government confiscates private property for environmental or other ends. Indeed, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, a vile man with retrograde views on race, became an instant conservative hero when he stood up to Uncle Sam and let his cattle graze on land that the federal government had, in his view, illicitly obtained. Yet Cruz and his ilk have no qualms about authorizing Uncle Sam to perpetrate an even bigger property grab in the name of their Swiss-cheese wall.

Over half of the recently constructed 700 miles of fence was on private property that Uncle Sam deployed blatant strong-arm tactics to obtain. It confiscated ancestral land that had been in families for over 200 years and offered virtually peanuts to Texas landowners who couldn’t afford to hire expensive lawyers to duke it out with Uncle Sam in court. Oscar Ceballos, a part-owner of a small trucking business, recounts how a government lawyer went so far as to figure out how much his assets were worth to dissuade a free legal clinic from representing him in his fight against the government’s ridiculously low-ball initial offer. Cruz’s even grander wall ambitions will only compound such abuse.

Nor would Americans on the border be the only ones affected. The vast majority of undocumented workers are here because there are Americans, especially employers, who benefit from their presence. Hence, Cruz and his fellow anti-immigration fighters want to force all American employers to verify the work eligibility of potential hires — American or foreign, legal or illegal — against a federal database through E-verify. Should this program become mandatory, all Americans will be effectively required to obtain a government permission slip to work.

What’s ironic about Cruz’s crusade to build a wall between two free — and friendly — people, divert billions of taxpayer dollars to militarize the border, and abrogate the civil rights of Americans is that he is doing so while vowing to “stand for liberty.”

If this is his idea of liberty, what would tyranny look like under President Cruz? (Don’t answer that — I hope to never find out!)

 

By: Shikha Dalmia, The Week, March 27, 2015

March 29, 2015 Posted by | Border Security, Immigrants, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Politics Of Fear, Getting Worse”: Scott Brown Combines ISIS, Ebola, And Border Security

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was dismissive yesterday of an unfounded concern: Islamic State terrorists using the Ebola virus. In remarks to the Association of the United States Army, Johnson specifically said, “We’ve seen no specific credible intelligence that [ISIS] is attempting to use any sort of disease or virus to attack our homeland.”

That’s good to hear, of course, but the fact that it was necessary for the DHS secretary to make these comments was itself rather striking.

As a friend reminded me yesterday, we’ve heard quite a bit about possible threats from ISIS terrorists; and we’ve heard plenty about the dangers of Ebola; but we’ve apparently entered a new phase in which ISIS may strike with Ebola.

And where is such talk coming from? Greg Sargent reported yesterday on the latest remarks from former Sen. Scott Brown (R), now running in New Hampshire after losing two years ago in Massachusetts. In this case, the Republican was asked whether he supports travel restrictions on countries in West Africa. Brown replied:

“We need a comprehensive approach and I think that should be part of it. I think it’s all connected. For example, we have people coming into our country by legal means bringing in diseases and other potential challenges. Yet we have a border that’s so porous that anyone can walk across it. I think it’s naive to think that people aren’t going to be walking through here who have those types of diseases and/or other types of intent, criminal or terrorist. And yet we do nothing to secure our border.”

Brown has dabbled in this before, but I think this was the most direct he’s been to date to tie together the disparate threads of terrorism, Ebola, and border security, all at the same time, all in the hopes of exploiting public anxiety to advance his personal ambitions. (North Carolina’s Thom Tillis recently pushed a similar tack, though he didn’t go for the full trifecta.)

The politics of fear isn’t pretty, and as Brown makes clear, it’s getting worse. The public can, however, take at least some comfort in the fact that the New England Republican doesn’t seem to have any idea what he’s talking about.

For example, Brown believes “that anyone can walk across” the border because “we do nothing to secure” it. For an issue the Republican claims to take seriously, he’s badly confused – border security is actually at an all-time high.

But the more amusing takeaway is the degree to which the right wants to connect every story to its unrelated goal. Want to improve the economy? Secure the border. Want to fight terrorism? Secure the border. Worried about public health? Secure the border. Worried about crime? Secure the border.

If you’ve got a problem, Republicans have a border that needs securing.

It’s reminiscent of the Bush/Cheney era, when just about every possible challenge – economy, energy policy, terrorism, health care – was met with a call to cut taxes.

Of course, the difference is, when it comes to immigration, Democrats are fully prepared to give Republicans the exact border-security measures the GOP wants as part of a comprehensive reform package. It’s a shame Republicans won’t consider a compromise.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 15, 2014

October 16, 2014 Posted by | Border Security, Ebola, ISIS | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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