A wall against clear think­ing on im­mi­gra­tion and polic­ing

Financial Nigeria Magazine - - Contents - By Vanda Fel­bab-Brown

Don­ald Trump's Au­gust 31 im­mi­gra­tion speech in Phoenix sought to present a more states­man-like and sub­stan­tive side of the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. But it did not es­cape his sig­na­ture fear­mon­ger­ing, mis­char­ac­ter­i­za­tions, and empty fool­ish (to use his word) prom­ises. His im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy will nei­ther make the United States and Amer­i­cans safer from crime or ter­ror­ism, nor ben­e­fit Amer­i­can work­ers as he prom­ises.

Fan­tasy wall

The wall he wants to erect along the U.S.Mex­ico bor­der re­mains a fan­tasy both in ex­e­cu­tion and in pur­pose. The U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der al­ready is tight, and many fewer peo­ple man­age to cross it se­cre­tively than did a decade ago. The level of ar­rests of those at­tempt­ing to sneak across is high. In many ar­eas where a wall is not al­ready con­structed, phys­i­cal con­di­tions do not eas­ily al­low it and the costs are enor­mous. Nor can ev­ery tun­nel or wall breached be de­tected in time. Al­ready, many re­mote sen­sors and other tech­no­log­i­cal as­sets have greatly in­creased the bor­der's vis­i­bil­ity, en­abling bet­ter rapid re­sponse by bor­der pa­trol agents.

Even if Don­ald Trump's fan­tasy of an “im­pen­e­tra­ble beau­ti­ful” wall could be re­al­ized at some ac­cept­able fi­nan­cial cost, smug­gling would shift to other meth­ods. Al­ready, drug smug­gling groups have adapted to the tighter bor­der by in­creas­ing their use of drones to smug­gle con­tra­band, and this prac­tice is likely to be­come more

com­mon. And as in Europe, peo­ple can be smug­gled in by boats.

Neigh­bours join­ing forces

Good se­cu­rity along the bor­der re­quires good co­op­er­a­tion with Mex­i­can law en­force­ment of­fi­cials. Both the ad­min­is­tra­tions of Ge­orge W. Bush and Barack Obama sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved U.S.Mex­ico bor­der co­op­er­a­tion. De­spite Trump's visit yes­ter­day to Mex­ico and his procla­ma­tions of how much he likes Mex­ico's Pres­i­dent En­rique Peña Ni­eto, Trump's poli­cies will sim­ply alien­ate Mex­ico's gov­ern­ment, law en­force­ment agen­cies, and peo­ple.

Nor can he merely state that he will make Mex­ico pay for the bor­der even if “they [Mex­ico] don't know it yet.” Don­ald Trump claims that his fence would cost only $12 bil­lion. Other es­ti­mates put it at $285 bil­lion, mean­ing each U.S. tax­payer would have to pay some $900 in new taxes. He pro­poses that “re­mit­tances de­rived from il­le­gal wages” will pay for the fi­nan­cial costs of erect­ing the fence. They won't. Even if there were a way to dis­tin­guish and trace legally and il­le­gally-de­rived re­mit­tances (a very com­plex fi­nan­cial foren­sics task that re­mains elu­sive for banks in pre­vent­ing money-laun­der­ing or ter­ror­ism fi­nanc­ing), the to­tal level of re­mit­tances Mex­i­cans sent home in 2014, in­clud­ing from the very many liv­ing in the United States legally, was $23.6 bil­lion. A tiny frac­tion of the likely cost of the fence. Such empty blus­ter merely alien­ates Mex­ico from co­op­er­at­ing with the United States in se­cur­ing the bor­der.

Tack­ling crime the right way

Nor will Trump's pro­posal to pri­or­i­tize hunt­ing for un­doc­u­mented work­ers in­crease U.S. pub­lic safety or re­duce crime. The Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion , in­clud­ing through its Se­cu­rity Cities pro­gram: It did not help re­duce crime, and lo­cal po­lice de­part­ments and city gov­ern­ments re­sented it. They found it coun­ter­pro­duc­tive, di­vert­ing them from other anti-crime pri­or­i­ties and alien­at­ing lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. When Trump threat­ens to cut off what he car­i­ca­tures as sanc­tu­ary cities, he is pick­ing a fight with the many U.S. com­mu­ni­ties who found the pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tion of the poli­cies coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. In fact, the op­po­site is needed: Pub­lic safety re­quires close co­op­er­a­tion with lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, not racial or eth­nic pro­fil­ing. Protests by African Amer­i­cans against ex­ces­sive and heavy-handed polic­ing should have driven that home to Don­ald Trump.

To re­duce vi­o­lent crime and ef­fec­tively act against gangs, as Don­ald Trump also prom­ises, re­quires reach­ing out to com­mu­ni­ties, es­tab­lish­ing citizen-po­lice li­ai­son com­mit­tees, and find­ing out what crimes ac­tu­ally most threaten lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, not os­tra­ciz­ing mi­nori­ties. Po­lice re­cruit­ment should fo­cus on in­creas­ing mi­nori­ties group rep­re­sen­ta­tion, in­clud­ing His­panic, but also Is­lamic com­mu­ni­ties. Such of­fi­cers will be able to un­der­stand lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and de­velop their trust. This is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant for deal­ing with lone-wolf ter­ror­ist at­tacks, where the most im­por­tant “re­spon­der” (and of­ten the only source of in­tel­li­gence that a lone wolf at­tack is in the mak­ing) can be the fam­ily, friends, and neigh­bors of a po­ten­tial at­tacker. Be­yond spe­cial­ized coun­tert­er­ror­ism units, such as fu­sion cen­ters and task forces, it is lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties who can know about and pre­vent a lone-wolf at­tack by pro­vid­ing ground-up in­tel­li­gence. Such good com­mu­nity-po­lice co­op­er­a­tion is all the more nec­es­sary in smaller cities that can't nec­es­sar­ily mar­shal coun­tert­er­ror­ism re­sources on the scale of cities like New York. Thus, no Mus­lim, His­panic, or African Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties should be os­tra­cized and mis­treated by the heavy­handed polic­ing that Trump ad­vo­cates.

Two-way eco­nomic ben­e­fits

Fi­nally, the south­ern bor­der is not merely a line of se­cu­rity and di­vi­sion, but also an eco­nomic mem­brane and en­abler of eco­nomic growth. If il­le­gal cross­ings across empty spa­ces ac­tu­ally be­came im­pos­si­ble (not that that would hap­pen), more un­doc­u­mented work­ers will be smug­gled with le­gal cargo. But check­ing ev­ery sin­gle truck is not pos­si­ble, else the trade would come to a halt. And that trade con­trib­utes sig­nif­i­cantly to the U.S. econ­omy.

Mex­ico is the United States' third largest trad­ing part­ner af­ter China and Canada. Af­ter Canada, the United States ex­ports more to Mex­ico than any other coun­try. Mex­ico is the third-high­est sup­plier of U.S. im­ports. Mex­ico is the top des­ti­na­tion for ex­ports from three U.S. states–Texas, Ari­zona, and Cal­i­for­nia–and the sec­ond most-im­por­tant mar­ket for an­other 20 U.S. states. Many of the jobs oc­cu­pied by un­doc­u­mented work­ers in the United States are phys­i­cally-dif­fi­cult jobs Amer­i­cans do not want, such as gut­ting fish or work on farm fields. Fix­ing im­mi­gra­tion is not about mass de­por­ta­tions of peo­ple but about cre­at­ing a le­gal visa sys­tem for jobs Amer­i­cans do not want. And it is about pro­vid­ing bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties, skills­de­vel­op­ment and re­tool­ing, and safety nets for Amer­i­can work­ers. And to date, Trump hasn't of­fered se­ri­ous pol­icy pro­pos­als on many–if any–of these ar­eas. Vanda Fel­bab-Brown, a se­nior fel­low at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion, sup­ports Hil­lary Clin­ton's cam­paign in her pri­vate ca­pac­ity on a vol­un­teer ba­sis by pro­vid­ing ad­vice on coun­tert­er­ror­ism is­sues and does not speak for the cam­paign. Source: Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion

Pres­i­den­tial can­di­date of the U.S. Repub­li­can Party Don­ald Trump

The U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der fence, San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia

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