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Border fatuity — no crisis, no need

January 31, 2019

The notion that the United States has a border crisis is fatuous — that is, according to Merriam-Webster, “ inanely foolish.”

The problem is not border security, but border fatuity, or, as Colonel Potter on “M*A*S*H,” might have said, “Buffalo Bagels” or “Beaver Biscuits.” We all knew what the euphemisms meant.

Sadly, Trump isn’t the only one spewing baloney about a crisis at our Southern border.

He has been joined by a number of Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who claimed on television following Donald Trump’s hateful 10-minute televised version of his vulgar, cruel corruption of an inaugural address, that “we all agree we need to secure our borders.” In reality, there is no need for new border security solutions, because there is not, in fact, a pressing problem of border security.

In fiscal year 2017, Customs and Border Protection recorded the lowest level of illegal cross-border migration on record. That’s according to the Trump Administration’s own Department of Homeland Security report released in December 2017.

It’s highly unlikely that the situation at the border has changed so dramatically in the past 13 months to escalate from an historic “lowest level of illegal cross-border migration” to a national crisis.

There is no security threat — not at the border, at any rate — unless you count Trump’s recent visit there because Trump, it now appears, along with his puppeteer Putin, may well be the greatest national security threat currently facing the United States. That Trump is rapidly evolving into a a mad King Lear figure is evidenced by his having ordered 5,200 troops to the Southern border before the midterm elections to confront the illusionary invasion by a “caravan of migrants” who mysteriously dissipated almost immediately after the polls closed.

There is no humanitarian crisis, other than the people herded into refugee camps and into holding cells created by Trump’s inhuman, racist and xenophobic policies. In fact, most of the people — men, women and children at the Southern border — are trying to seek asylum, a right that is guaranteed to them by Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They are not begging for charity or handouts.

As New Yorker writer Masha Gesson pointed out recently, they are asking for their due from the system designed to protect them.

As Michael Gerson, a senior adviser and speechwriter to President George W. Bush, wrote recently, “ By the standard of improved security, Trump’s plan is, at best, half-baked.”

A recent Government Accountability Office report warned of massive waste because the administration’s border plans are so undeveloped.

If Trump’s wall were, as originally proposed, made of concrete, a group of MIT engineers has estimated it would eventually cost $40 billion and require three times the concrete poured in building the Hoover Dam. And 4,000 terrorists crossing the Southern border into the U. S.? That’s the made-up figure embraced by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Vice President Mike Pence.

Sadly, none of them bothered to consult their own administration’s Customs and Border Patrol agency whose data show that in the first half of fiscal year 2018, a total of six people whose names were on a federal government list of known or suspected terrorists were stopped at the Southern border.

And Gerson wrote that “agents in the field overwhelmingly request better technology and more personnel rather than longer and higher border barriers.” In terms of the wall stopping the opioid crisis, Trump’s commitment to Beaver Bagels and such was once again on display.

The top causes of opioid -related deaths came from synthetic opioids like fentanyl, prescription opioids, and heroin. A large proportion of fentanyl is shipped by mail or express carrier directly from China and that which is trafficked through Mexico usually comes in vehicles through official crossings rather than in remote areas where a wall might complicate smugglers’ plans. Prescription opioids are produced and shipped through legal means and heroin trafficking again is primarily moved in vehicles through official crossings.

Donald Trump is the worst president in American history. I’m afraid that anyone who can still say with a straight face that he or she supports this vile representation of human detritus are the kind of people who think Iago is the good guy in “Othello,” and that Goneril and Regan are the good daughters in “King Lear.”

Stephan Lesher is a Southbury resident and a retired journalist.

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