To many Americans, the U.S.-Mexico border is imagined as a remote outpost, a site of immigration and drug smuggling and distant to U.S. life. But border politics has powerfully influenced elections, public spending and plays a critical role in shaping national identity. It is also a political tool for delusional politics where facts and data are rendered irrelevant.
For CNN I wrote: Americans must retake their border and wrest it from a violent politics in which anything less than admitting to a “border crisis” that requires more agents, drones and sensors is often mocked as support for an equally ambiguous “open borders” policy.
Without an alternate border vision, Americans of all political backgrounds are subjected to demagoguery and delusional narratives that offer no solutions to the real challenges of managing migration at the 1,933-mile southern boundary.
Before election deniers started trying to dispute reality, border security politics had already primed Americans for political delusions, with a border politics likewise divorced from reality, a fantasy world in which politicians simply show up at the border, pose with agents, say “crisis” and have it taken as fact.
Calls to “secure the border” and build the border wall dominate discourse. Consider the following largely ignored reports.
According to reports by the US Department of Homeland Security, for five years, Border Patrol has largely met its own targets to “secure the US border between ports of entry.” Agents have met targets that include: “respond and assess potential illegal activity” quickly in remote areas and interdiction. Surveillance of the border has reached such a saturation point that Border Patrol retired the measure, according to a Border Patrol performance report.
It’s clear that “securing the border” is now synonymous the absence of people, including asylum seekers, attempting to reach the border. The presence of asylum seekers has intensified calls to build the border wall. Pundits, politicians and news reports repeatedly state, without evidence, that Biden’s vow to halt the border wall’s expansion (construction has continued) invites migration. But consider:
DHS had failed to develop metrics to gauge the effectiveness of border barriers for almost two decades beginning in 2005, according to the Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan agency that monitors congressional spending.
Billions of tax dollars were spent, dozens of federal laws waived, hundreds of acres of farmland and private property along the Rio Grande seized for a wall with no proven value, except for its political usefulness. DHS finally provided the GAO with a demonstration of its model to assess effectiveness in January of this year. In a statement, US Customs and Border Protection declined to disclose its assessments, stating the model is “law enforcement sensitive” and “continues to be in development.”
Read the piece here.