Monday, June 19, 2006

Border detentions drop as the Calvary rides in

Surprise, surprise, the most powerful nation on the planet can manage to stop destitute third-worlders from predictably trying to illegally cross over large swarths of grass and desert into its territory on foot:

U.S. authorities said Monday that detentions along the U.S.-Mexico border have decreased by 21 percent, to 26,994, in the first 10 days of June, compared with 34,077 for the same period a year ago.
That's incredibly encouraging. Arizona's border, the busiest of the four border states, has seen crossings drop 23%. Even though only a token number of National Guard troops have been dispatched to assist the Border Patrol, they appear to be having a substantial effect:

The 55 soldiers who arrived June 3 are the first of some 6,000 troops to be gradually dispatched all along the border as part of President Bush's plan to stem illegal immigration to the United States.

The soldiers aren't allowed to detain migrants and have been limited to projects like extending border fences and repairing roads, but the military's presence are keeping would-be crossers away from the area, migrant rights activists said.
There are lots of reasons this could be working. The Mexican Army, like the country it serves (the average family in Mexico spends $166 in US real terms on bribes each year in a country with a PPP less than a fourth that of the US) is notoriously corrupt and morally unscrupulous. The challenges facing a Guatemalan trying to make it over Mexico's militarized border--robbery, rape, dismemberment, and even death--are rough. Migrants, given slanted reports in Mexico, probably fear that the US-Mexico border is moving in the same direction.

Further, Mexican media and the 2006 Presidential candidates, especially Obrador, have aggrandized Bush's tawdry call for the a few thousand guardsmen into a full-fledged border lockdown in the eyes of many Mexicans. This has helped Obrador. But maybe what helps him is good for us:
"The border issue could give Lopez Obrador election victory," said Jorge Capetillo, a Latin America expert and professor at the University of Massachusetts. "It has definitely helped him." ...

But anti-Americanism remains an integral part of Mexican nationalism. In poll after poll in the region, Mexico is consistently at the top of list of countries that most disapprove of U.S. policy. "There has always been a strong anti-American sentiment in Mexican popular culture," said Pablo CabaƱas, a political science professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City. "This sentiment is especially strong among the lower classes."
The prospect of another ten million of these people coming to the US to be subsidized and taken care of while decreasing the US quality of life in a host of ways when so many of them despise the US isn't at all appealing. Let Obrador scare-monger if it helps affect a precipitous year-over-year drop of 21% in border crossings.

Maybe other bad news has a silver lining in the form of border flow reductions:

"Some migrants have told me they heard about the troops on television and, because the U.S. Army doesn't have a very good reputation, they prefer not to cross," Loureiro said, referring to reports of abuse in Iraq.
Dogs and swarthy men in hoods are scarier than smiling soldiers passing out candy to children. If only the MSM knew the unintentional effect it is having!

Also, the smugglers have priced in what is perceived to be a more difficult task (or predicted to soon become a much more difficult task) than before. Coyote fees are now reported to run at over $3,000 a person.

Notice how the OBC has shifted polemically from emphasizing the downright lie that the border is simply unenforceable to now either putting up strawmen about mass round-ups and deportations (history suggests that for every one apprehended, seven or eight would leave voluntarily) or simply coming out explicitly in favor of open borders. They know they're on the defensive. Bush miscalculated, thinking authorization of National Guard troops for the border would be nothing more than an empty PR gesture to placate his pro-sovereignty constituency. Instead, it's doing what it's putatively supposed to do:
Miranda said he made it into the United States on the first try last year, but he expected a more difficult journey this time.

"We've heard that there are soldiers and armed 'migrant hunters' but we have to try," Miranda said. "If we don't make it in three tries, then we'll go back home."
We're making progress. The Senate's amnesty isn't going to pass again, and even if it does the House isn't going to cave. Immigration is just behind Iraq as one of the most important issues voters are going to take with them to the polls in November.

I pity those trying to slip into the US from the corrupt miasmas they live in, but if Mexico and other Central American countries send able-bodied workers here while relying on the US as a safety valve and scapegoat for the problems their elites won't fix, the situation is going to continue in perpetuity until finally the US is no longer an attractive place for poor Hispanics to come to, and life in Latin America won't improve.



D.V. said...

One of the more amusing arguments against a border crackdown is that it plays into Lopez-Obrador's (presumably anti-American) hands. We'll miss out on Fox's PAN successor! Egads!

crush41 said...

I shouldn't have used the words "scare monger". Obrador is opposed to the current US immigration system because he sees it as exploitative and humiliating. He wants Mexico to be able to stand on its own, not be reliant on exporting its workers northward to work as serfs just to keep Mexico afloat. I sympathize with him, and I'm glad he's not an advocate of the US merging with Mexico. I won't be disappointed if he manages to beat Calderon.