A police officer in northern California, a legal immigrant, was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant, a case that pretty much sums up why we need a border wall.
Back in the mid-eighties I was doing research for a movie role about human trafficking on the Mexican/American border. The research involved my going on a ride-along with an active-duty border patrol agent along the Arizona/Mexico border in Nogales. Many of the towns separated by the border have different names in their respective countries, such as Douglas, Arizona on the American side which is Agua Prieta on the Mexican side, but Nogales is the name for both cities on either side of the border and it had, at that time, a reputation as a damned tough town regardless which country you were in.
We were in a border patrol vehicle, driving east along a dirt embankment beside a chain-link fence and the agent was pointing out known crossing points, known embarkation points, Mexican housing on the other side where illegals would gather and wait to be guided across by coyotes, locations where specific and notable arrests or violence had occurred, other points of interest. He was an intelligent and well-spoken man and I was enjoying my ride-along when suddenly there were three distinct, sharp pings against my side of the vehicle, each separated by approximately a full second’s pause. Before the third one, the agent had hit the gas and was driving fast—much faster than I enjoyed—along the dirt embankment.
“What the hell’s going on?”
“We’re being shot at,” was the terse response.
“What! Who? Where?”
It seemed such a ludicrous statement I had trouble believing it. We were in America. People don’t just shoot randomly at cars in America, and no one in their right mind would shoot randomly across an international border at a law enforcement vehicle in particular.
I was so nonplussed that conversation ground to a halt until we got back to the Port of Entry offices. We both got out and the agent came around to my side of the car and looked down. There were two small bullet holes low in the passenger-side door, clearly .22-caliber or thereabouts. We never found the third hole, but by that time I was a little distracted by the thought that if the shooter had gotten his elevation right, I might be at the local hospital having unpleasant things done to me.
The agent took it in stride. It was, he explained, not an uncommon occurrence. I had less charitable thoughts.
That was almost thirty-five years ago, and things have not improved since. In the intervening years I have amassed a collection of anecdotes, all of which were told to me by men and women who live on or near the border and who had experienced the events first-hand. Many spoke with sympathy for the plight of the illegals who risk their lives to get into America no matter what the cost, but none had had good encounters; neutral was the sole counterbalance to negative.
I want to be very clear that when I say “wall” I do not mean a vast physical barrier stretching from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. There are many places, primarily in or near urban centers, where President Trump’s “big, beautiful” wall would be highly desirable, especially as an aid to the over-worked border patrol agents who are responsible for securing our nation’s borders, as an aid to the DEA agents responsible for interdicting drugs, and as an aid to the local police in certain border towns and cities. But there are also many places where such a wall would be a waste of money and serve no positive effect. There some places where a wall would almost impossible and certainly cost prohibitive to build. There are also many places where a wall’s ability to provide security would be better achieved by other means. And there are places where a wall would have extremely negative side effects, primarily by blocking migratory paths for wildlife, for example. So let us agree that “wall” refers a variety of means, including changes in the current, ludicrous asylum laws that allow anyone who breaks the law to remain in the country while seeking asylum. Or the equally absurd law that mandates families who have entered our country illegally may only be held for twenty days before they must be released. Today, thanks to congress and the Ninth Circuit court of appeals, in both Texas and Arizona, families are being driven to local bus stations to go where they will, thereby making a mockery of any semblance of control over who comes into our country.
Here are some thoughts about why closing our southern border is necessary:
The Arizona borderlands area is a vast, empty, seemingly harsh, but actually very fragile space primarily inhabited by a few rugged and self-reliant ranchers. It was—and parts of it still are—pristine, a hunter’s and outdoor lover’s paradise. Unfortunately, some parts have become dangerous to venture into; ranchers now routinely carry sidearms while moving or looking for their stock. Some parts, including many of the canyons and arroyos that slope down toward Tucson from the Santa Rita Mountains, are too disgusting for anyone to want to venture into. An estimated 2000 tons of garbage are discarded annually by illegals, turning remote canyons and washes into congested replicas of certain streets in San Francisco, choked with trash and feces. The steady stream of illegals has also contributed to the 79% decline in the Sonoran pronghorn population, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The economics of illegal immigration are either an enormous drain on the American economy or a modest net positive, depending which study you read. However, reading a study that emphasized the positive, I came across the following sentence:
“First-generation immigrants are significantly more of a drag on government dollars than those of later generations, according to the study, and state and local governments are often forced to bear the brunt of those costs.”
If anyone reading this can make sense of that sentence, please let me know, because unless I am very confused, if you are one of the later generation of immigrants who do not represent a drag on government dollars, that means you were born here which means you are by definition no longer an immigrant. Illegal immigration is an enormous drain on our economy; whether it is ultimately balanced out by subsequent generations of Americans is not the debate.
The other issue that shows you can quote facts and figures to prove the sun rises in the west is crime rates of illegal aliens versus native-born Americans. On the face of it, illegals—by definition—commit vastly more crime than native-born citizens simply by virtue of the fact they broke multiple laws just by coming into the country illegally. But beyond that, concentrating solely on violent crime or organized criminal activity, a study by John Lott showed that murder rates, kidnapping, money laundering, and drive-by-shootings are all committed by illegals at rates from three- to 13-times higher (depending on the crime) than either citizens or legal immigrants. Gee, since those are all crimes associated with drug trafficking, it kinda sorta makes sense. It also proves what every law enforcement officer knows, namely that 95- to 99% of all murders are directly or indirectly drug-related. On the other hand, liberal think tanks and newspapers quoted studies showing the opposite, that illegals commit far fewer crimes, but I noticed two details that should make everyone suspicious of those studies:
First, while the conservative news outlets that summarized John Lott’s study also mentioned studies that showed the opposite, but none of the liberal outlets mentioned Mr. Lott or his study, instead only mentioning Donald Trump’s claims. Since Mr. Lott is one of the few researchers who regularly and routinely release all their material and methodologies for peer review, I found it very suspicious that he was not mentioned.
Second, some (not all) of the liberal studies, as reported in liberal outlets, just referred to “immigrants,” not “illegal immigrants,” as if the two groups were the same thing. They are emphatically not: legal immigrants have a lower crime conviction rate than native-born Americans (witness the legal immigrant police officer recently murdered in northern California), and to not make that distinction is a good example of the kind of sophistry that makes so many major media outlets so distrusted.
The last time I drove through the borderlands region, six or seven years ago, I drove through miles of land charred and blackened and still heavy with smell of the recent fire. When I asked the waitress at a local restaurant what had caused the fire, she told me it was drug runners, saying it with such casual and off-hand matter-of-factness that I asked her if it had happened before.
“Oh, it happens all the time. Whenever they want to run a large shipment through, they start a fire somewhere to distract law enforcement.”
I am told that more illegal drugs enter the United States by sea than by land, but much of the fentanyl, manufactured in China and imported to Mexico, still comes across the border. Practically all the heroin also comes across the southern border. Fentanyl has now supplanted meth as the number-one killer in our little town, so what are the options? Do we just give up the war on drugs and legalize everything—essentially writing off plus or minus ten percent of the American population—or do we do whatever must be done to keep drugs out of this country, which includes building a wall?
Finally, all the anti-gun liberals (think Diane, Nancy, Chuck, Richard-Hand-to-Hand-Combat-in-Vietnam-Blumenthal, New-Jersey’s-Pride-Bob Menendez, Hiz Honor, the list goes on…) are fond of leaping onto every criminal use of a firearm screaming for more laws, stricter bans, and even eliminating the Second Amendment because, “If it saves just one life, it’s worth it!” Okie dokie. Let’s apply that same logic to building a wall and getting control of our southern border:
If it saves just one law enforcement officer’s life, it’s worth it.