Fear and loathing on the southern border

David Nakamura at the Washington Post seems to unintentionally highlight one of the biggest successes of the Trump administration to date and it deals with illegal immigration. He begins by casting a few stones at the President, saying that several of his border enforcement initiatives “have not gone very well” so far, specifically referring to court challenges to the travel ban, funding for the border wall and resources for expansion of ICE and the Border Patrol. There’s clearly some truth to those points (at least in the short term) but Nakamura goes on from there to claim that Trump is still making progress in his agenda because of the most potent weapon in his arsenal: fear.

But one strategy that seems to be working well is fear. The number of migrants, legal and illegal, crossing into the United States has dropped markedly since Trump took office, while recent declines in the number of deportations have been reversed.

Many experts on both sides of the immigration debate attribute at least part of this shift to the use of sharp, unwelcoming rhetoric by Trump and his aides, as well as the administration’s showy use of enforcement raids and public spotlighting of crimes committed by immigrants. The tactics were aimed at sending a political message to those in the country illegally or those thinking about trying to come.

The author immediately employs the widespread trick of conflating immigration and illegal immigration there when talking about “crimes committed by immigrants” but that’s now so common among liberal journalists that it’s barely worth mentioning.

What’s more to the point are the various quotes from activists in the “immigrant community” and former Obama era officials who continue talking about the defeats they’ve handed the President on his initiatives while simultaneously being forced to admit that he’s winning. As the author faithfully reports, the number of border jumpers being apprehended monthly has fallen by 70% between December and March, decreasing from approximately 40,000 to less than 12,200. At the same time, even without the full funding and staffing increases Trump was calling for, we arrested 21,362 illegal immigrants in the first three months of the year as compared to 16,104 during the same portion of 2015. That’s a serious uptick. Just doing some basic math on the back of the cocktail napkin here, if you have a lot less coming in and a larger number going out, the tide of illegal immigration is turning in the correct direction.

And that’s really the point if we cut through all the posturing and noise. You can talk all you like about Chuck Schumer “winning against Trump” in legislative battles, but on the subject of border security and illegal immigration these are the only metrics that count. On top of that, the wall (or at least a vastly improved fence covering more territory) is coming sooner or later. Hiring for ICE and the Border Patrol is already underway. These changes are coming despite all of the kicking and screaming going on among liberals. And the prospective targets of these enforcement activities and border safeguards know it.

Is that reluctance to cross the border illegally the result of “fear” on the part of would-be illegal aliens? Some of you are saying that like it’s a bad thing. Why? One of the biggest aspects of effective law enforcement in any sector of criminal activity is providing an effective deterrent. We actually want aspiring criminals of all types to be afraid to commit crimes, whether it’s illegal aliens, rapists or murderers. And if what we’re doing now is finally working we need to be doing more of it. Feel free to label it as “fear tactics” all you like. Law abiding citizens and lawful resident immigrants should not be afraid of their government. Illegal aliens and other criminals should be.