Trump’s Border Wall Folly

“Believe me,” said Trump. But no, Mexico won’t pay for a wall. Trump is now demanding American taxpayers pay for it.

While still promising Mexico will pay for it, President Trump is now trying to extort $25 billion from U.S. taxpayers to build a “big, beautiful” border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and he’s holding DACA recipients hostage to do it.

It’s clear Trump either doesn’t understand, or is ignoring the nuances of legal and illegal immigration as well as actual statistics about the rates of crime committed by immigrants vs. U.S. citizens, and how most contraband gets into the country illegally.

By far the biggest contributor to violent deaths in the U.S. is not immigrants, but our country’s own violent culture paired with easy access to deadly firearms — a fact President Trump completely ignores in his effort to whip up xenophobic fear among Americans.

The stakes for Trump’s wall are extremely high for American taxpayers in many ways. The first is financial.

To give you an idea of exactly how much tax money Trump is demanding for his wall, let’s take a look at how much money $25 billion really is:

  • If someone gave you $1 (one) billion today and you spent $1,000 every single day after that, it would take 2,740 years to spend ONE billion dollars. At that rate, it would take over 65,000 years to spend the $25 billion Trump is asking for.
  • A tiny fraction of $25 billion, just $216 million, could fix Flint, Michigan’s water crisis once and for all. The EPA says only nine states report having safe levels of lead in all their water supplies. $25 billion could go a long way towards alleviating faulty and failing water infrastructure in other American cities.
  • $25 billion could alleviate hunger around the globe for a year.
  • $25 billion could cover the cost of completely eliminating homelessness in the U.S. for over a year.
  • $25 billion could build new electric streetcar systems with 20 miles of tracks in 50 U.S. cities.
  • $25 billion is enough to repair 50,000 miles of U.S. highways.

In addition, the only ones who thrive from building physical barriers along the border are smugglers, who merely become more creative at their trade and charge higher and higher fees to hapless, impoverished immigrants who are desperate for their services.

Beyond this, investigation reveals that a border wall would be futile given the way immigration and smuggling really take place.

People crossing the southern U.S. border illegally is not a major source of illegal immigration

The U.S.-Mexico border along the Rio Grande River would require a wall along, or in the middle of the twisting, turning river

According to Homeland Security, the single biggest source of illegal immigration is foreign visitors who overstay their legal permits to be in the U.S., not people crossing U.S. borders illegally. And by far most people who overstay their legal visas are from Canada, not Mexico.

Trump claims a border wall is needed to stop terrorists from entering the country, but the Department of Homeland Security has no evidence that terrorist groups are organizing in Mexico and plan to cross the southern U.S. border. In fact, data shows between 1975 and 2015, only one foreign-born terrorist in the U.S. was from Mexico, and that person didn’t even kill anyone. Yet nineteen Saudi Arabian terrorists killed 2,369 Americans and two terrorists from United Arab Emirates killed 314 Americans within the same time span, but Trump isn’t proposing any restrictions on immigrants from these countries. Recall that the 9/11 attackers were all Saudis, and got into the U.S. using legal visas. So the idea that terrorists are flooding into the country from Mexico is not borne out by facts.

Treaty obligations, natural runoff routes and flood zones along rivers would  also require part of Trump’s wall be built inside the U.S. border, which would be awkward if Trump continues to demand Mexico pay for the wall, as he has promised. And Mexican officials have said unequivocally that they would not not pay for a wall.

Tunnel under the border at Tijuana, with electricity and a railway. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Building a wall would also show great contempt for our neighbor to the south, would poison our relationship with Mexico and likely end their cooperation in fighting smuggling activity, drug cartels and other criminal activities that require joint cooperation between the two countries.

Also, a significant part of the border between Mexico and the U.S. follows the tightly winding path of the Rio Grande River. In many places, a wall would have to be in the river itself, which is utterly impractical.

Tunnels, catapults, trucks and bribes…Oh, my!

Drug-throwing catapult attached to the Mexican side of the existing border fence (Photo: CNN)

Creative drug smugglers already use a multitude of strategies to circumvent existing border fences and walls, and they are constantly finding new ways to get over, around, through or under them.

Specially-designed, undetectable boatsair-powered cannons, catapults and drones are just a few of the ways smugglers get drugs into the U.S. from Mexico, but by far most of the contraband comes through formal border checkpoints between the two countries. The January 25, 2018  issue of the Texas Tribune contained an interview with a lifelong marijuana trafficker who said he moved about 50 tons of marijuana a year through official points of entry in 18-wheel semi trucks. He told the Tribune that a wall wouldn’t stop him. Smugglers also use “cloned” cars and trucks that have been modified to look exactly like federal vehicles. Former smugglers also point out that a significant amount of smuggling relies on border patrol agents who take bribes to allow contraband and people across the border.

A wall won’t stop any of that.

Smugglers also evade border barriers using tunnels. Since 2001, law enforcement officers have discovered more than 100 tunnels between the U.S. and Mexico, some of them quite elaborate, with electricity, ventilation, and wheeled carts. One tunnel was 2,400 feet long. Tunnels are hard to detect. Their discovery usually depends on word of mouth.

A wall will not stop tunneling.

Seizures, mistakes and eminent domain: A wall poses havoc for landowners

The construction of physical barriers between the U.S. and Mexico has already proven to be a nightmare for private landowners along the southern U.S. border.

The U.S. government in the past has abused it’s power to seize private property along the border for a fence by giving landowners lowball offers based on faulty valuations of their property. The government also uses a law called the Taking Act, passed during the Depression, that allows it to seize private property before any money changes hands and bulldoze it the same day. The government has

Border wall prototype. Big, yes. Expensive, yes. Beautiful, no.

mistakenly paid people for property they didn’t actually own, and a huge number of transactions for land along the border have ended up in lawsuits for landowners who have the money to fight them.  Many people can’t afford the fight, and just give up their land to the government or take a pittance for it. The federal government is already facing a long list of condemnation cases from previous border-barrier efforts in which the government seized land without knowing who actually owned it. One U.S. court alone is currently facing a backlog of 320 eminent domain cases involving government seizures of private land along the U.S.-Mexico border. Some landowners have incurred huge legal debts just to correct mistakes the government made in seizing their land for a border fence.

Fight the border wall

The illogic surrounding Trump’s demand to build a border wall and it’s detrimental effects on the U.S. is clear. The nuances involved in border security render the idea little more than an expensive flight of fancy, but one  Americans will pay dearly for if Trump gets his way. Every American who believed Trump’s promise that Mexico would pay for a wall has been utterly duped. If Trump gets his way, the cost of the barrier will come out of all of our pockets, at the expense of America’s needs being left completely unaddressed.

It would be better to face reality and find less expensive and more rational and suitable solutions to problems posed by illegal immigration than to go along with Trump’s misguided, hare-brained border wall proposal.

 

 

 

How the President’s racism affects the western slope

President Donald Trump spent years spreading the racist lie that President Obama was born in Kenya. He’s publicly described Mexicans as rapists, called for a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” said immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS,” used the gang MS-13 to disparage all immigrants and called African countries “shitholes.”

Sad to say, but there are people in our own community who actually believe these things, and worse, and Trump is empowering them to more freely expressing their racism and xenophobia.

How can we deal with it?

In response, Black Lives Matter Grand Junction will put on a workshop February 21 to teach participants how to navigate the flood of racism that seems to be falling downhill from our current political leadership, and infecting our own community. The workshop will teach participants what to say to people when you can’t take it anymore. You’ll learn important rhetoric that will better empower you to use your voice, and reliable ways to argue with relatives, friends, co-workers and strangers. Participants will learn how to work toward conflict resolution and ways to assure both parties leave the debate feeling like they haven’t lost anything.

The workshop is Wednesday, February 21 from 6:30-9:00 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 536 Ouray Ave., downtown Grand Junction. See Facebook event here.

City Council endorses protections and path to citizenship for DACA recipients. G.J. citizens react.

On January 17, 2018, the Grand Junction City Council sent an official letter (above) to Senators Cory Gardner, Michael Bennet and House Representative Scott Tipton urging the House and Senate to pass “a clean bill as soon as possible to prevent the end of DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] in March.”

Republican and “Deplorable” G.J. City Council member Duncan McArthur voted against the letter supporting young DACA recipients in our community

The letter was signed by Mayor J. Merrick (“Rick”) Taggart. City Council approved it on a 5-2 vote. Councilmembers Duncan McArthur and Barbara Traylor-Smith voted against it.

The dangers of June Fellhauer’s 2018 talk by Caroline Leaf, promoted by District 51

WakeUp Ministries’ promotion of Caroline Leaf’s talk

Local self-styled Christian missionary June Fellhauer is back in 2018 and this time, her unregistered nonprofit Wake Up Ministries sponsored a talk at Two Rivers Convention Center on January 12 by  Dr. Caroline Leaf, another Christian missionary.

Caroline Leaf labels herself a “cognitive neuroscientist.” Her teachings are aimed at helping people “see the link between science and God as a tangible way of controlling their thoughts and emotions.”  Dr. Leaf’s talked are based on her own idea that “the mind controls the brain.” She teaches that thoughts are the sole controller of our physical and mental health, that “toxic thinking is the root cause disease” and that thoughts can change our DNA.

The problem is, most of Leaf’s teachings are debunked by science.

Trump on immigration: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

NBC Nightly News

Kick the kids out of the room. The president in on TV again, and again, it’s for a shockingly offensive comment, especially coming from an American president.

The Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump actually told a bipartisan group of Senators in a conversation about immigration today,

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

It doesn’t take, “like, a genius” to understand there is nothing adorable about being a “Deplorable”

 

Many ardent Trump supporters happily call themselves “deplorable,” making fun of a point Hillary Clinton tried to make during her 2016 campaign that many Trump supporters are racist, sexist, xenophobic and homophobic.

Members of Trump’s “Deplorables” contingent across the country, including those locally, typically deny that they are any of these things, yet the Facebook pages of “Deplorables” groups (Trump supporters across the country who have personally labeled themselves “Deplorables”) do in fact reveal a strong component of sexist, racist, xenophobic and homophobic thought runs within these groups.

Rep. Jared Polis to open Grand Junction office Sat., Jan. 6 at 10:00 a.m.

Rep. Jared Polis

House Rep. Jared Polis is running for Colorado governor and will officially open his Grand Junction office this coming Saturday, January 6 at 10:00 a.m. at 421 Colorado Ave.

Polis is a new-age candidate. He is an entrepreneur who started several successful internet businesses. He is the first openly gay parent in Congress and a champion of education. Polis has served on the Colorado State Board of Education, and served a single six-year term until his district was eliminated. He created a foundation that gives annual Teacher Recognition Awards. In 2004, Polis established the charter school, “New America School,” a high school that primarily serves older immigrant youth ages 16–21.

Rental scam afoot in Grand Junction

Renters, beware!
There is a scammer on Craigslist who is stealing photos from rental postings on Zillow, then posting the same property for rent on Craigslist for a too-good-to-be-true low price, like a nice 2 bed, 2 bath house for $500/month. The scammer gets the name of the owner off of the Mesa County Assessor Lookup, and then claims via email to be that person. That way, if the prospective renter gets suspicious and checks to see who really owns the house, they see the name of person they’re dealing with matches that of the actual owner.
The scammer says he’s out of town and carries out the whole scam via text and email. He had an @aol.com email address. When you respond to the ad, the scammer sends a fake application that lets him to get even more personal information from you. He gives a song and dance about how the house is very special to his family and they’re looking for someone to take care of it, then tells you to send money for first and last month’s rent, deposit and other fees via Western Union to an out-of-town Western Union office — in this case, the mark sent $2,000 to a Western Union in Las Vegas, and the scammer used a fake Las Vegas email address.) He emails a fake contract for the mark to sign, grabs the money and leaves the mark without their money and with no place to live. The prospective tenant and property owner never meet. This all takes place over email and text.

Hobby Lobby, a corporate criminal

Hobby Lobby, a craft store owned by evangelicals and known for pushing it’s owner’s Christian religious beliefs onto it’s employees, is running a full page “O-come-let-us-adore-him” Christmas ad in today’s Daily Sentinel with a camel and all the trimmings, that urges people to download a free Bible at a website.

So this seems like a perfect time to make people aware that Hobby Lobby was fined millions of dollars by the U.S. government in 2017 for illegally importing thousands of ancient Iraqi clay artifacts into the U.S. that were likely  acquired by ISIS (the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”) as the terrorist group criss-crossed the country destroying and looting Iraq’s cultural heritage sites.