Tag Archives: ICE

Border ‘crisis’ appears to be overcooked

I’m going to speak from the cuff here, but I believe it needs to be said. Donald Trump’s decision to deploy National Guard troops to our southern border appears to me to be a solution in search of a problem.

The president keeps hyping an immigration “crisis” along our border with Mexico. He is implying that the border is being overrun by illegal immigrants. He suggests that the only way to stem that deluge of people sneaking in is to send in ground troops; they need to patrol the border, shoring up security already being provided by Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, local police and electronic surveillance equipment.

When did it get to this point? What is the president trying to prove with this initiative?

I don’t get it. I cannot fathom when this matter escalated to a point that requires a virtual militarization of our border with one of our nation’s closest allies.

Barack Obama deported a record number of illegal immigrants during his two terms as president of the United States. George W. Bush created the Department of Homeland Security after the 9/11 attacks, giving the federal government another agency responsible for protecting us against potential terrorist entry.

Trump takes office after campaigning on a promise to build a “big, beautiful wall” and forcing Mexico to pay for it. Mexico won’t pay a dime for the wall.

Why in the world is there this need to send National Guardsmen and women to the border when we have plenty of civilian resources available to do the job of catching people who are trying to sneak into the United States illegally?

This looks to me to be a made-up crisis.

Legislature ends contentious session — just as it gets ugly

I am glad at the moment to be living far from Austin, the capital of Texas and the place where state legislators ended their 2017 session with two of them threatening physical harm to each other.

Whatever happened to the late Robert F. Kennedy ‘s notion that politics could be a “noble profession”? It ain’t. Not in Texas. Not these days. I would have hated to have been hit by a stray bullet.

Just think: Gov. Greg Abbott just might call these clowns back into special session to wrap up some unfinished business, some of which might include enactment that idiotic Bathroom Bill that would require people to use public restrooms designated to the gender noted in their bleeping birth certificate.

As for the end of the 2017 regular legislative session, two House members got into each other’s face as a scuffle broke out on the House floor. Some illegal immigrants reportedly raised a ruckus. One lawmaker, Democrat Poncho Nevarez threatened “to get” Republican Matt Rinaldi after Rinaldi called immigrations agents to break up the disturbance that was caused by the illegal immigrants.

By “get,” Rinaldi presumed Nevarez intends serious physical harm, to which he (Rinaldi) responded by threatening to put a “bullet in the head” of his colleague — in self-defense, of course.


Good ever-lovin’ grief, fellas. Nevarez should have kept his trap shut and Rinaldi should have refrained from threatening to shoot Nevarez.

Hey, guys, here’s a flash for you: Texas is in relatively good financial shape. Yeah, we have our issues. We have differences of opinion, most certainly differences of philosophy and ideology.

For this kind of tough talk to erupt at the end of a legislative session — which lasted all of 140 days — is ridiculous, outrageous and disgraceful on its face. House rules prohibit demonstrates from the gallery; the demonstrators broke the rules, period! That’s where it started and how it went from bad to stupid.

If Abbott is going bring you folks back to Austin, my hope is that he waits a while before setting a date. Reps. Nevarez and Rinaldi need to cool off, collect themselves, catch their breath — and count their blessings.

Trump’s loud talk produces diminished illegal immigration

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly gives Donald J. Trump ample credit in the fight to stem illegal immigration into the United States of America.

U.S. officials report a dramatic decline in illegal crossings along our southern border. Kelly’s reasoning? The president’s loud and persistent complaints about illegal immigration somehow has deterred people from coming into the country without proper documentation.

I kind of understand the secretary’s logic. Moreover, I am willing to give the president great credit for talking a good game.

Kelly more or less echoes the thoughts expressed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who, according to USA Today, said the following: “This is a new era,” Sessions declared during last week’s trip to Nogales, Ariz. “This is the Trump era. The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigration laws, and the catch-and-release practices of old are over.”

I beg to differ with the AG on whether the previous administration’s policies somehow were more lax than, say, those of earlier administrations. President Obama became known as the “deporter in chief,” as his administration caught and deported record number of undocumented immigrants during his two terms in office.

Now, about that wall.

I give Trump all the credit in the world for whatever impact his loud and boisterous rhetoric has had on those seeking to enter the United States illegally.

Here is my question of the day pertaining to this issue: Does a precipitous decline in illegal border crossings now render “the wall” that Trump wants to build irrelevant?

I live in a border state, albeit we’re a good distance from the southern border. I’ve ventured along the border twice in the past few weeks and haven’t witnessed anything approaching a “horde” of criminals crossing the border.

Perhaps if the president keeps harping out loud about what he intends to do when his administration’s border officials catch illegal immigrants, then there might be even less need for a wall.

I’ve heard already from too many immigration experts who tell us that a wall won’t stop illegal crossings. Desperate individuals can  be quite creative in looking for ways over, under or around such barriers.

If Secretary Kelly is willing to give the president’s rhetoric for stemming the flow of illegal immigration, I am more than happy to accept it as a contributing factor.

Keep talking, Mr. President.

Trump’s new travel ban: better, but still not worthy

I’ll hand it to Donald J. Trump.

At least he can tinker around the edges of a bad policy to make it somewhat more palatable, even if the very principle behind it stinks.

I refer to the revised travel ban he introduced to the world Monday.

He took Iraq off the list of Muslim-majority nations where refugees are banned from entering the United States; he exempts those with current visas from the list; it removes language that grants exemptions for “religious minorities” in the Middle East; it won’t take effect until March 16.

Is this one better than the old policy that was shot down by a federal judge, whose opinion was upheld by a federal appeals court? Yes.

It remains problematic for those of us who just dislike the idea of singling out countries and people who adhere to certain religious faiths from this brand of “profiling.”

The reaction to this revised rule has been far less vocal than the outburst that greeted the initial rule, which the president signed into law via executive order one week after taking office. Accordingly, it’s interesting, too, that Trump signed this executive order in private; no cameras, no ceremony, no hoopla, hype or hysteria.

“This is definitely on much firmer legal ground,” according to a former assistant secretary of Homeland Security. “It’s pretty narrowly applied to new visa applicants, which is probably the place where the president has the most authority.”

Time will tell — probably very soon — whether this one will stand up to court challenges. My guess is that it will, although if I were king of the world I would prefer that the president simply instruct immigration, customs and border security troops to be hyper-vigilant when checking everyone who seeks to come here.

Muhammad Ali’s son detained at airport … for real!

Put yourself in the place of an airport customs/security agent for a moment.

A young man comes off an airplane that’s just traveled to the United States from a foreign airport. He presents his passport to you and it has the name “Muhammad Ali Jr.” on it.

What do you ask the young man?

If it were me — and I was allowed under customs protocol — I would ask: “Are you the son of The Greatest of All Time? Was your late, legendary father really The Champ, the baddest, prettiest, greatest heavyweight boxer in history?”

If he said “yes,” I’d stamp his passport, tell him how much I admired his dad and let him through.

That didn’t happen recently at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood (Fla.) International Airport. Muhammad Ali Jr. arrived there on a flight from Jamaica. He was detained. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials say he wasn’t detained because he is a Muslim. They offered vague reasons for acting as they did.

Ali was profiled, according to an Ali family lawyer. The officials asked him if he is Muslim and asked him where he got his name. As USA Today reported: “Customs spokesman Daniel Hetlage declined to provide details of the incident, citing policies that protect travelers’ privacy, but he wrote in an email that the agency does not discriminate on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

“‘We treat all travelers with respect and sensitivity,’ he said. ‘Integrity is our cornerstone. We are guided by the highest ethical and moral principles.'”

Young Ali, who’s 44, is blessed — or cursed, perhaps, depending on the circumstance — with having arguably the most famous name on the planet. It also is the name of world’s most beloved Muslim.

Part of me wants to ridicule the officer who stopped Ali Jr. Another part of me, though, suggests the officer was just doing his job.

Private prisons remain a detestable idea

Oh, how I hate the principle of letting private firms incarcerate prisoners.

Yet, according to USA Today, the private-prison industry thinks it’s about to score big if Donald J. Trump goes ahead with his plan to round up millions of people who are in the United States illegally.

These outfits have given big money to Trump and now see a potential payoff if the president follows through with his pledge to put all the illegal immigrants behind bars before deporting them.

Let me offer this notion about private prisons.

First of all, the public already pays police officers, prosecutors, judges and juries to arrest, detain and prosecute criminals. The public, therefore, ought to be responsible for their incarceration when they are convicted of crimes.

It’s a social responsibility thing, the way I see it.

Second of all, if the president believes illegal immigration presents a dire threat to our national security, our way of life and our national identity, doesn’t that mean that the public should step up and foot the bill for these alleged threats?

Here is how USA Today reports the issue: “Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security issued sweeping new instructions to carry out Trump’s executive orders on immigration. They require all federal agents — including Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — to identify, capture and quickly deport undocumented immigrants.

“Significantly for private-prison operators, the orders also require that undocumented people caught entering the country be detained until their cases are resolved, ending the ‘catch and release’ program in which undocumented immigrants were processed by immigration agents, released into the USA and ordered to reappear for court hearings.”

So now the Trump administration wants to farm out this responsibility to for-profit prison companies? I’m trying to understand where the nation derives the cost savings if it is going to pay these companies to do what state and local authorities should be doing.

And I haven’t even mentioned the public oversight of the manner in which these private lockups are managed.

The idea of private prisons is loony, in my view. If we’re going spend public money to send criminals to prison, we need to spend public money to ensure they are treated humanely.

And that includes illegal immigrants.

They stop everyone coming north from border on I-35

LAREDO, Texas — About nine miles or so north of Laredo you see a line of motor vehicles pulling off the northbound lanes of Interstate 35.

Big ones, little ones. Long-haul trucks, economy cars, mini-vans full of kids and assorted family members. They all stop as they leave this city of nearly 300,000 residents for points north.

What gives? The “porous border” at this one stop at least isn’t quite so porous.

What are the authorities looking for? As my dear mom used to say: I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count.

They’re looking for illegal immigrants. They’re looking for human cargo. They are on the hunt for drugs, weapons, you name it.

Now, this particular stop-and-search station doesn’t mean the border is air tight. I get that there remain many other points of entry for illegal immigrants to sneak into the United States of America.

There has been this sort of screening for some time. It’s just that when you see it, you look at the long and growing line of vehicles backing up, you appreciate the difficult job that our Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers — as well as our state andlocal police agencies — must perform.

Donald “Smart Person” Trump perhaps has done one thing as he has continued to rail against illegal immigration and keeps yammering about building a wall that he suggests Mexico will pay for; it is that he has elevated our border officers’ alertness.

I am hoping they remain alert.

Immigrant tide is reversing itself


The world remains focused on events in, say, Syria and Europe.

However, get a load of this item: More Mexican citizens returned to their home country over a five-year period than came into the United States.

The Pew Research Center said that from 2009 to 2014, more than 1 million Mexicans returned home while 870,000 of them came to the United States.

Does that change the debate in this country? Quite possibly.

Presidential candidates — particularly some of them on the Republican side — have made immigration a theme of the upcoming White House campaign.

I’m not at all sure what the trend suggests. Pew is a reliable research outfit, with findings that are well-documented. One theory being kicked around is that the Great Recession of 2008-09 in the United States removed an incentive for Mexican citizens to come to the United States in search of jobs.

The inflow of migrants could increase as the U.S. economy continues to improve, according to Mark Hugo Lopez, a Hispanic researcher for Pew. According to USA Today, “In coming years, he said, the number of Mexicans may increase again if the U.S. economy continues to improve. But steady growth of Mexico’s economy and tighter controls along the southwest border mean the United States won’t see another massive wave of legal and illegal immigration like it did in recent decades, when the number of Mexican-born immigrants ballooned from 3 million to nearly 13 million, he said.”

Lopez added that the era of Mexican migration might be at an end.

So, while our attention is diverted to places far away, we see some interesting trends right at our doorstep.

Don’t look for critics of U.S. immigration policy to proclaim this as good news. Indeed, if foreign nationals anywhere in the world can find prosperity at home, well, that reduces the strain on the Land of Opportunity.

I consider that to be good news.


ICE gets new director

Sarah Saldana has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, aka ICE.

Wow. That was a close a call that never should have been that close.

In that curious game of political gamesmanship on Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans who once sang Saldana’s praises turned on a dime against her nomination. Why is that? Well, it seems they didn’t like her support of President Obama’s executive order delaying deportation of millions of illegal immigrants.

OK, so let’s consider that for a moment.

Saldana was deemed supremely qualified to lead this critical national security agency prior to the executive action. NPR this morning had a report of how the GOP tide turned against her instantly as she backed Obama’s decision. One of her supporters-turned-foes happened to be Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

So, the Republicans wanted her to in effect turn against the policies of the president who appointed her.

What in the name of God’s green Earth did they expect from this presidential appointee? Is this person going to spit in the face of the man who selected her to lead the effort to protect our borders? Of course not!

Yet the GOP caucus in the Senate all but demanded it of her.

All the while, Senate and House Republicans keep harping — correctly, I should add — that the nation needs to do all it can to prevent illegal immigrants from streaming into our country.

Do they want the president to appoint an ICE director or don’t they?

Well, we now have one.

As someone noted this morning on National Public Radio, the job Saldana is about to assume is arguably the most difficult job in the federal government.

If she was a stellar choice prior to her backing the president on immigration, then she remains a stellar choice today.

Let’s get to work, ICE Director Saldana.