President Trump’s national television rant to secure $5.7 billion for an unnecessary and unwanted border wall was riddled with misconceptions, exaggerations and, well, lies.
Trump’s insistence that our, “southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs, including meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl” was among the misleading untruths.
Most fentanyl comes from China. Although most heroin enters the U.S. through the Mexican border, the vast majority of it is intercepted at legal ports of entry, according to a 2018 report by the Drug Enforcement Administration. "A small percentage of all heroin seized by CBP along the land border was between Ports of Entry,” the DEA report reads.
That type of drug smuggling will be unaffected by a wall meant to stem illegal border crossings. Drug traffickers are skilled at getting around, above of under obstacles when necessary. Tech-savvy smugglers won’t be using makeshift catapults to send their contraband across the border when they can easily use drones, catapults, canons and the mail system.
A recent analysis from the Cato Institute confirmed that legalization in the U.S. has already undercut cannabis smuggling across the southern border.
“Border Patrol seizure figures demonstrate that marijuana flows have fallen continuously since 2014, when states began to legalize marijuana,” wrote David Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute. “After decades of no progress in reducing marijuana smuggling, the average Border Patrol agent between ports of entry confiscated 78 percent less marijuana in fiscal year (FY) 2018 than in FY 2013,”
Trump also told the nation that, “thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country."
For starters, undocumented crossings along the U.S. border are at historic lows.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehended about 400,000 people during the 2018 fiscal year. While that’s a lot of people, the number does not represent a crisis and is far lower than it was 15 years ago.
In particular, the number of Mexican migrants attempting to cross the border illegally has dropped dramatically as the Mexican economy improves.
A June 2018 report by the Cato Institute found that immigrants who entered the country legally were roughly one-fifth as likely to be incarcerated as native-born Americans. Undocumented immigrants were half as likely to be incarcerated, according to the report.
So, as the partial government shutdown affecting nine federal departments drags into its third week, Trump’s tantrum over the border wall exposes not only his inept bargaining skills, tendency to prevaricate, but his lack of knowledge as to how and from whence drugs are entering the United States.