Over the past few days, I took a trip down to the southern border in Eagle Pass, TX with Congressmen Biggs, Gaetz, Rosendale, and Good.
The situation at our border under the Biden Administration has become untenable and poses a direct threat to the safety and security of all American citizens.
Congress has the power of the purse— however, tragically, not enough members have enough courage to do what needs to be done.
We either wield the power we have as a conference or bend the knee to Biden’s open-border regime. It should be an easy choice.Rep. Eli Crane, “One in the Chamber” Newletter
I begin to suspect that the “One in the Chamber” refers not to a metaphorical bullet in a weapon, but Crane’s thumb firmly up his own… chamber. Crane never explains with anything more than implication how the situation at the border ‘poses a direct threat to the safety and security of all American citizens’. So I’m left to guess just what the hell he actually means: my guess is a combination of a few factoids he mentions: terrorists infiltrating over the border, fentanyl trafficking, and, I don’t know… that immigrants are icky and dangerous and commit all kinds of crime?
Let’s examine Crane’s assertion that we are all ‘threatened’ by the immigration at our Mexico border carefully.
The Terrorism Watch List
Rep. Eli Crane, R-Ariz., said “the number of encounters of suspected terrorists by border patrol should be addressed with changes in immigration policy.”
So how many such people were encountered? Crane doesn’t say, just claims that the number has increased. that’s true; it has But there’s a good reason he doesn’t get too ‘numbery’ here: the numbers aren’t terribly impressive. 216 people encountered in all of 2023 prompted a match with the terrorist Watch List (which contains over 2 million people, which BTW doesn’t actually mean they are known terrorists) compared to 165 last year.
A few things to note about Crane’s claim increase in the number of “suspected terrorists”: The terrorist Watch List itself grew by about 200K names this year alone, which could account for the increased matches all by itself. And encounters have also grown since last year, which would also increase the number of matches. Between those two factors alone, such increases could more than account for the larger number of encounters with people whose names pop a match on the Watch List. It’s noise, not signal. And, seriously, we should change our immigration policies because 0.0000864% of encounters MIGHT be suspected terrorists? That’s literally insane.
But Crane nonetheless doubles down on the scaremongering, saying, “I do believe that we’re definitely, we’re not very far from seeing attacks on the homeland again, because we’ve been very foolish with our immigration policy and our, quite frankly, completely open borders,” he said on the ‘Just the News Not Noise’ TV program.
Really? Because of a little pop in the number of Watch List hits, which could well be due simply to increased immigration encounters and growth in the Watch List itself, we are going to see ‘attacks on the homeland again’? Sober up and stop cowering like a mouse, Eli!
I find it disappointing that a supposedly personally brave former operator would be either be such a chickenshit that he’s scared of his own shadow and a few dozen folks on a watchlist of over 2 million names, or maybe he’s just trying to scare us using a vague threat of terrorism?
Another implication to be teased out of Crane’s pile of panic is that perhaps fentanyl trafficking threatens us all. “Biden finally feels pressure because of the 2024 election — not because of the tens of thousands of lives ruined by fentanyl, trafficking, & migrant crime.”
So, let’s look at how fentanyl threatens Americans, as it undoubtedly does: tens of thousands of Americans are perishing annually from overdose deaths. That is absolutely a problem. But how does fentanyl trafficking relate to the Mexico border, and specifically immigrants and immigration?
Not at all, really, it turns out. According DEA statistics and the Cato Institute, fentanyl trafficking over the Mexico border is done almost exclusively by Americans at ports of entry. Yet, oddly, lots of Americans -especially Republicans – think otherwise. I wonder why?
An NPR‐Ipsos poll last week found that 39 percent of Americans and 60 percent of Republicans believe, “Most of the fentanyl entering the U.S. is smuggled in by unauthorized migrants crossing the border illegally.” A more accurate summary is that fentanyl is overwhelmingly smuggled by U.S. citizens almost entirely for U.S. citizen consumers.David Bier of the Cato Institute, “Fentanyl Is Smuggled for U.S. Citizens By U.S. Citizens, Not Asylum Seekers”
Let’s take a look at some actual data from the Cato Report:
A few additional facts: the trafficking and seizures of fentanyl are almost exclusively at ports of entry, concealed by smugglers. In the rare case when fentanyl is encountered among immigrants trying to cross over away from a checkpoint (and note that most asylum seekers are going to ports of entry to claim asylum, not sneaking through the desert) it is small personal use amounts, not an amount that constitutes trafficking.
The very sorts of things that Crane advocates, such as shutting down our ports of entry by shutting down the government, and suspending asylum claims, actually make fentanyl trafficking WORSE, as proven by the effects of the very Trump Administration policies that Crane would have us repeat.
The real way that most fentanyl comes into the country is by simply shipping it directly from China and India to the United States and Mexico in the form of precursor chemicals and powders. Much of the flow over our Mexico border is simply those precursors in bulk and fentanyl illicitly manufactured in Mexico in bulk smuggled through our ports of entry.
But Crane and his lot refused the massive funding increase for the border that Biden proposed to provide the personnel, funding, technology, and equipment for our ports of entry, claiming that the Biden Administration’s plans didn’t address the ‘real’ issue of immigration and asylum. Well, those AREN’T the real issues when it comes to fentanyl trafficking; our overwhelmed, undermanned, underfunded, and detection equipment deficient port of entry are the issue.
“Instead of joining the Biden administration and members of both parties in the Senate to find common ground, [House] Speaker [Mike] Johnson,” [R-La.,] is continuing to block President Biden’s proposed funding to hire thousands of new Border Patrol agents, hire more asylum officers and immigration judges, provide local communities hosting migrants additional grant funding, and invest in cutting edge technology that is critical to stopping deadly fentanyl from entering our country,” Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman, said on Wednesday.Eric Katz, Government Executive
So, instead of passing the funding needed to actually address the problem of fentanyl trafficking, Eli Crane (and Andy Biggs, and Paul Gosar, and David Schweikert, and Juan Ciscomani, and Debbie Lesko, who ALL declined to pass Biden proposed spending package), lie about the real causes and refuse to address the real cause of the problem, and then attack Biden for doing nothing, because their ignorant voters believe their lies.
Why? Because “Biden has requested $13.6 billion in emergency funds to hire nearly 6,000 immigration and border security-related employees at DHS and the Justice Department as part of a larger package that would also provide tens of billions of dollars in foreign assistance.” Biden’s proposal included aid for Ukraine and Israel. And the GOP has gotten its marching orders to oppose Ukraine aid from Putin stooge Trump at any cost. Not to protect Americans and American interests, but to protect Putin and Putin’s interests. That’s why.
Immigrant Crime Rates
Finally, and as usual, Crane clearly implies that the dirty immigrants are coming here and committing crimes against Americans. This has been debunked over and over, but somehow, GOP politicians never get the memo: immigrants, even undocumented ones, commit crimes at much lower rates than American citizens. It’s about the most robust finding about immigrants as a population. And it makes sense: if you come to a new country, especially if it is not EXACTLY legal, you tend to keep your nose clean to avoid unwanted attention from the authorities. In fact, immigrants are much more likely to be victimized by crime – both street and white collar crimes, and those motivated by racial/cultural hatreds – by Americans than the inverse.
Sure, you can always come up with an anecdote about some immigrant who did something horrific to some American citizen. In any large population of people, you are going to have some real shits. But that is exactly why we Democrats have consistently used discretionary powers of enforcement and parole to focus the limited enforcement resources on those immigrants with felony records, and those who commit crimes against Americans. We know that most immigrants are hard-working, law-abiding, tax-paying people who want to build a better life in America and make America stronger and richer by doing so.
So why do Republicans insist on locking those people up, detaining them without reason pending their immigration or asylum case resolution, separating children from their parents, and abusing them in every way they can think of? I can make a few guesses, and I’m sure you can, too. And none of those reasons reflect well on their character, I think.
Hostages to HR 2
Oh, but Crane and his crew of Arizona GOP MAGA nuts just want to the Senate pass – and President Biden to sign – their wonderful HR2 that the GOP Caucus unanimously passed through the House. So what would HR2 actually do? That is a tale for another day, folks. But you can be sure that I will tell you the truth about what is actually in that bill, and debunk the MAGA lies about what that bill would do on our Mexico border. What they claim and what it actually does – as is so often the case with the Arizona crew of MAGA Representatives – are ever so far apart.
I’ll tease this one simple fact: Arizona’s Trumpanzie MAGA Circus Delegation is absolutely willing to totally shut down trade along most of the border costing us billions in lost trade – and untold hardships to all Americans and Arizonans – by shutting down the federal government if they don’t get their way.