House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to drain political support and funding from the planned border wall by repeatedly urging more federal spending to improve the official gateways through the border.
“If you want infrastructure, we need more infrastructure at the Ports of Entry,” she told reporters January 3. She continued:
If you want to detect drugs, as we all do, then there is technology that can scan these cars coming through. We’re spending about $40 million, we should be spending about $300 million to do that, and that is by the border control people’s own numbers.
“Pelosi is drawing attention to a real issue,” said Mark Krikorian, the director of the Center for Immigration Studies. He continued:
The Ports of Entry are a major source of smuggling, illegal aliens and drugs and what have you. But that does not mean you can leave the back door open.
In her response to President Donald Trump’s January 8 national address calling for a border wall, Pelosi again focused on the Ports of Entry:
We can build the infrastructure and roads at our ports of entry. We can install new technology to scan cars and trucks for drugs coming into our nation. We can hire the personnel we need to facilitate trade and immigration at the border. We can fund more innovation to detect unauthorized crossings.
Trump repeatedly makes the obvious counterpoint — that the drug smugglers and labor traffickers can always drive around any improved security at the Ports of Entry if there is no wall to stop them.
On January 14, Trump told a farm industry convention:
You can’t have openings because if you have an opening, they go here, and they just sort of go over this way, they find the opening spot, they come in …
Much of [the drug trafficking] comes through areas that are not your portals, including meth and cocaine and heroin and fentanyl. Heroin alone … kills 300 Americans a week, and 90 percent of it – at least – crosses the southern border.
On January 4, Trump told reporters that “We can’t let gaps. Because if you have gaps, those people are going to turn their vehicles, or the gangs — they’re going to coming in through those gaps. And we cannot let that happen.”
On January 6, Trump also approved Pelosi’s call for more spending on the Ports of Entry, effectively denying Pelosi the ability to treat it as an alternative to the border wall.
A January 6 priority list from the Office of Management and Budget asked Congress to provide $5.7 billion for 234 miles of border wall, $631 million to buy extra devices to screen vehicles for drugs as they cross the border, and $800 million for extra “humanitarian needs” for the growing wave of job-seeking migrants. The extra funding would include money for “temporary facilities [at the border] for processing and short-term custody of this vulnerable population.”
But on January 11, Pelosi’s Ports of Entry talking point was added to the Democrats’ weekly address, given by California Rep. Scott Petes:
Our nation’s investments in Ports of Entry support a thriving international economy. They also provide critical border security. Customs agents inspect, weigh and x-ray vehicles and bags. They make sure travelers have proper identification and valid visas – that they are properly vetted and screened before entering the United States.
That’s what real border security looks like, and I can tell you that San Diegans want that border security. But we do not want a wall.
Trump has made 3-5 concessions in the border wall fight. But estb. media hides Democrats' refusal to offer anything in exchange. So Trump sees an incentive to escalate via a national emergency to get a wall. IOW, media's tilt skews DC political incentives https://t.co/cf9Qnr0tzf
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) January 10, 2019
Pelosi’s talking point “seems to be a political expedient, something to give a talking point to Democrats when they are asked what kind of border control they do support,” said Krikorian. “Unfortunately, it brings to mind the scene from Blazing Saddles when the posse was stopped by a tollbooth in the desert. In real life, the posse ignores the toll booth.”
“You need to have proper vigilance at the front door but also lock the back door,” Krikorian said. “It seems that the Speaker is saying is the back door is fine, don’t worry about it.”
Before Trump was elected, Pelosi said little about improving security at the Ports of Entry, Krikorian said:
This new-found interest in the Ports of Entry is curious because where was she three, four, five years ago? Was she supporting major investments in the Ports of Entry back then? Maybe I missed it, but it smells like a political distraction.
Pelosi’s concern about the Ports of Entry is just one of many ideological and practice responses that Democrats offer to Trump’s border wall.
In her January 3 video, she also argues that the wall is an “immorality,” “an old way of thinking,” “is not who we are as a nation,” highlighting the Democrats’ support for open borders and diversity. She also said the wall would waste money, be ineffective, and is a political distraction from unpopular policies.
On January 10, Pelosi also argued that Trump’s pro-American immigration policy is discriminatory. She said:
Comprehensive immigration reform is what this debate should be about. And quite frankly when the president talks about this being national security issue, no it really, isn’t. It is about a policy that is discriminatory as to where people are coming into this country.
Nationwide, the U.S. establishment’s economic policy of using legal migration to boost economic growth shifts wealth from young people towards older people by flooding the market with cheap white-collar and blue-collar foreign labor. That flood of outside labor spikes profits and Wall Street values by cutting salaries for manual and skilled labor of blue-collar and white-collar employees.
The cheap labor policy widens wealth gaps, reduces high tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, hurts kids’ schools and college education, pushes Americans away from high tech careers, and sidelines at least five million marginalized Americans and their families, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions.
Immigration also steers investment and wealth away from towns in Heartland states because coastal investors can more easily hire and supervise the large immigrant populations who prefer to live in coastal cities. In turn, that investment flow drives up coastal real estate prices, pricing poor U.S. Latinos and blacks out of prosperous cities, such as Berkeley and Oakland.