Donald Trump can look like a president. He can act like a president. He can talk like a president. He proved as much in his Tuesday night TV speech on getting $5.7 billion for a more secure border, and you wanted to say to him, thank you, thank you and please never wear that clown costume again.
Sadly, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer gave a fist-in-the-face response to a speech that Trump did not give. Some of the fact checkers failed to check what world they live in. And the holier-than-thou media crowd at such places as the New Yorker magazine discovered hate where sympathy was pouring out about every other sentence.
First, let’s note that Pelosi pummeled Trump for partial government shutdown maneuvers that she has tried hard to outdo. Then she said he was not facing up to humanitarian issues. She said Trump aimed to waste money on an ineffective wall when he ought to turn instead to technology and innovation. Schumer, more aptly describing himself than Trump, said the president had pounded on the table.
In fact, in a soft voice and with a mild manner, Trump did address humanitarian concerns, such as the thousands of children brought into the United States by human traffickers often to be used as prostitutes or in other commercial sex ventures. On the trip to America, up to six out of every 10 women are raped, according to Amnesty International. Caravans help prevent this, it’s said, but that does not mean the problem is gone.
A whole slew of illegal drugs come across the border and fact checkers said lots of them came from other places as well. But they did not deny Trump was right in saying that 90 percent of heroin comes across the border, killing 300 a week. The administration plans to use improved technology to detect the heroin passing through ports of entry.
Some people have been furious that Trump keeps bringing up the MS-13 gang, an outfit that hacks innocent young fellow Hispanics to death with machetes, as if it were a border issue. It is. As ICE reports, a number of MS-13 members are illegal immigrants, and better security would save lives.
It’s the case, too, that over the past two years ICE officers arrested illegal aliens who had been charged or convicted of assault (about 100,000), sex crimes (30,000) and violent killings (4,000). A higher percentage of natives than illegal immigrants commit serious crimes, it’s said, but that hardly means it is not a worry as still more Americans die.
Pelosi, poor Pelosi, is wrong that walls are ineffective. They are highly effective, and, at any rate, what Trump wants in addition to 654 miles of very special walls and fences is new technology, more personnel operating with improved techniques and better methods of catching people who have overstayed their visas. He wants a change in laws that let illegally arrived entrants disappear when they cannot be immediately adjudicated, which is all the time.
Under the law, by the way, a refugee is someone in a persecuted group, not just someone who is poor and desperate.
Critics say there is no crisis, but understand that we already have about 400,000 immigrants caught at the border a year and that we still have a pathetically weak security system along with 150 million people saying they’d like to come here. Yes, as keeps being said, we are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws, and laxity about what’s illegal is detrimental to our system of governance; in this instance it also kills and invites multitudes we cannot accommodate. If we can’t even come up with what is a smidgen of money relative to a $4 trillion budget for a project that might pay for itself, something worse than absurdity is afoot.
President Trump, who will likely fail to remain presidential Trump, is basically right on this issue, even if he keeps handling it in some of the worst ways imaginable.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.