Trump's 'national emergency' on the border doesn't matter (and neither does the shutdown)
Things that don’t matter:
- The stadium tarp Lady Gaga wore to the Golden Globes.
- Ryan Seacrest’s so-sincere “Time’s Up” bracelet.
- Donald Trump’s border crisis.
President Trump will stand defiant on the U.S.-Mexico border today and demand once more that Democrats give him a wall.
Democrats won’t budge.
And we’ll be back to where we were Tuesday after the president addressed the nation.
Which is to say, nowhere.
We’re still puzzling over Trump’s televised address.
When everything is a crisis, nothing is
What are we supposed to make of that wisp of smoke? How do you read trace molecules that by next Wednesday will dissolve into collective amnesia?
A crisis in the Trump era is a cut-rate product, cheaply conceived and weakly rendered.
Even the president looked nonplussed trying to work up enthusiasm to declare a border crisis in prime time.
And the Schumer-Pelosi response was equally bloodless, drained of all conviction – just two people role-playing in a moment of national ennui.
When every day is a crisis, every crisis is a crushing bore.
There is no immigration crisis
The only way to make sense of this week’s border exhibitionism is to pull back and see the larger context: how little government has meant to the management of the border.
There is no immigration crisis.
That was actually solved years ago, and government had nothing to do with it.
An economic recession swept across the globe, flattened the American job market and persuaded Latin American migrants to return home.
Since then rising prosperity and a robust middle class in Mexico are keeping illegal immigration at a slow and manageable stream.
In December 2017, U.S. Homeland Security reported that arrests for illegal border crossings hit a 46-year low.
In 2000, the United States was arresting 1.6 million people per year crossing the border illegally. Last year it arrested one-fifth of that – 310,531.
Complain all you want about caravans, but the United States can easily absorb the asylum seekers escaping Central America’s violent nations.
This movement may be coming to an end
What we may, in fact, be watching is the endgame of an historic movement that began in California in the early 1990s, erupted in Arizona in 2010, and was nationalized in the 2016 election of Donald Trump.
Radicalizing the border has its limitations, and immigration demagogues are perishable goods.
California learned this in the early 1990s when both Democrats and Republicans promoted a ballot measure (Proposition 187) that cut off access to hospitals and schools to undocumented migrants.
That ultimately led to the demise of those supporters who were last to let go – then-California Gov. Pete Wilson and the California Republican Party.
In 2010, Arizona passed a less-draconian Senate Bill 1070 that brought national condemnation and eventually legal nullification. It’s been eight years since passage of SB 1070 and all the border hawks are gone – Jan Brewer, J.D. Hayworth, Russell Pearce, Joe Arpaio, Andrew Thomas.
The Arizona Legislature hasn’t done crazy immigration law in years.
What else doesn't matter? The shutdown
Last year, we watched Donald Trump try to blow embers on the migrant caravan during the midterm elections. That only resulted in a thumping for Republicans.
Now Trump looks like he’s stuck in neutral trying to get Democrats to budge on his border wall. They feel no obvious pressure to capitulate.
All of this is culminating in something else that doesn’t matter.
A government shutdown.
It's being hyped from the hilltops as the latest crisis, but like Trump’s border emergency, it’s full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
On Tuesday, the union that represents the TSA officers who check our persons and luggage at airports made me laugh out loud.
With all soberness, they declared their officers are quitting en masse because they’re furious at the shutdown. Said one union official, “(this) will create a massive security risk for American travelers.”
Wow, a massive security risk and TSA (Transportation Security Administration) officers hadn’t even missed their first paycheck. That was still a day away.
Tell me, what color was Lady Gaga’s dress?
Phil Boas is editorial page editor of The Arizona Republic | azcentral.com. He can be reached at email@example.com or 602-444-8292.
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