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What the Devil won't tell you

Imagine: Today a wall, tomorrow dragons required to protect America from Latino 'invasion'

Backers of path to citizenship have waited long enough

The U.S. government is less than three weeks away from another shutdown over a border wall and it's got me in a ranting mood.

Donald Trump lost the last 35-day battle like the Denver Broncos lose Super Bowls. So before giving him any part of what he wants, Democrats have to stop placating his paranoia while indulging in their own.

It's time to stop being scared of being called "soft on the border."

Here's what I mean:

The White House keeps re-imagining the ranks of illegal immigrants in the United States. During the duration of the immigration debate, the official tally of undocumented migrants hovered between 10 and 13 million. Well, Trump tweeted this weekend, “There are at least 25,772,342 illegal aliens, not the 11,000,000 that have been reported for years.” 

Then Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney (a.k.a. Ralphie from "Christmas Story" turned mean) said on Face the Nation that he’s seen estimates as high as 40 million.

Good lord, this is how we're playing now?

Well, I’ve "seen that" Mulvaney and Trump engage in lewd sex acts with otters in the Oval Office at least 1,432 times. I mean, I’ve seen it. I just typed it. So there it is. If that’s the new standard for facts in the White House, than we've taken a step down from “man on the street says” and “you can’t tell me there aren’t …”

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And it's an important point to remember as we move forward.

There are 25,772,342 reasons why nothing — not even a wall — will ever be enough for borderphobes.

A deal not to be had

The border-wall fight has been interrupted by the Beltway equivalent of a Yule log heating the debate as we fight over whether walls work or if a wall is who we are.

Well, if walls aren’t who we are, what’s that long, tall construction demarking the not-so-imaginary line on the U.S.-Mexico border? And if walls work, how is it that millions, billions, pick-a-number-of illegal immigrants have made such easy work of it?

There’s a very easy solution: Replace 300 miles of old fencing with newfangled Very Tremendous and Powerful™ anti-ram fencing. It's happening anyway. Last year, crews took six months to build 20 miles of new fence in New Mexico so 15 times that would keep the wall crowd happy for another two years.

Unless Trump breaks free from the edicts of talk radio ranters, his time in office will end less than two years from now. And No. 46 will be able to scuttle future expansion. The anti-ram fence would be an upgrade over the cobbled-together monstrosity now dividing California from Baja. In return, extract six years of protections for Dreamers so Trump won't be able to go all Cyd from "Toy Story" on their lives to please his rallies or distract from Robert Mueller's investigation. 

It’s an easy fix that steals candy from a president who constantly says “I’m not a baby!”

So they can't call us soft on ...

Here’s why Democrats shouldn’t take that deal.

In 2005, Congress approved the bureaucratic monstrosity that is REAL ID and let it stand all through Democratic control of government so Republicans could not call them "soft" on border security. They were angling for a path to citizenship for 12 million illegal immigrants. But that would have to wait.

The fencing exists because in 2006, Congress passed the “Secure Fence Act,” which Democrats voted for so no one could call them "soft" on border security. It was a necessary step toward a path to citizenship for the nation’s 25,772,342 million illegal immigrants. But that would have to wait.

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Then President Barack Obama – so Republicans couldn’t call him soft on border security – went on a deportation jag during his eight years in office. The theory went, the Republicans couldn't call him soft on border security and that would pave a path to citizenship for those 987,673,221 illegal immigrants. Yet that would have to wait. 

All along the way, Democrats voted to increase the size of Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, so Republicans couldn’t call them soft on border security. It was all part of a long-term plan to get a path to citizenship for 266 million illegal immigrants, which would have to wait.

Sense a trend?

Back in the early 2000s right up until today, there have always been four elements of comprehensive immigration reform: Secure the border through personnel and infrastructure, address the hiring of illegal workers, fix the legal immigration system to recognize reality and grant a path to citizenship to the 8.5 billion illegal immigrants here now, which always has to wait.

Well now the path to citizenship has been reduced to a path to some sort of legal status, but the histrionic Right continues to reset the game as if nothing has been done and the crisis of 2001 remains the crisis of 2019.

Give them the wall today and tomorrow they’ll be insisting on a moat. “Can’t have security without a moat.” Give them the moat and they’ll demand lab-grown fire-breathing dragons patrolling the border. “Build the Dragons! Build the Dragons! We can’t have a nation without dragons!”

The border crisis to certain elements of America is as real as the 12.9 trillion illegals living here now. It is as real as they can imagine it and they will always call the Left "soft."

Those voices dominate the debate by remaining in a constant fit of unreasonableness while Democrats are constantly trying to reason with them.

Give them the dragons and then a death ray after that and the Right will still say the very next day “we’re being invaded, libtards favor open borders because they are soft!”

No crisis exists, but they won’t pay attention. Facts don’t work. Graphics don't work. Statistics don’t work. The only thing that seems to work is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s high heel on Trump’s jugular. So more of that, please.

Define the threat, please

So what are we trying to stop?

Drugs? Yes, drugs are bad. They are coming through our border. Be clear though: Drug runners aren’t smuggling their contraband over and then setting it loose in Ohio, where opiods sprint and attack unsuspecting rural whites. The drug trade is a function of U.S. demand. Fix people wanting a fix, and we'll fix the stream of drugs.

Workers? Just what toxicity are they bringing into the country? None. They are doing work that needs to be done to bring goods to market. Lettuce-cutters and maids have zip to do with the wages in accounts receivable or anywhere else in the middle class. The wealth gap isn’t their doing.

Are we trying to stem national population growth? Since when is that a good idea? What growth there is in the economy is aided by population growth. Here in Arizona, we know this because we rely almost exclusively on people moving here to make our state’s economy great. Gov. Doug Ducey’s budget brags about in-migration. So do conservatives traditionally in the growth/no-growth debate that can animate local government in Arizona.

Also, this state has a lousy social safety net and yet people come here for work. If welfare were the draw to migration, then New York and Massachusetts would be the fastest-growing states in the country. Oh … that’s right. Those are Americans. Not … y’know … those people.

What immigration laws are trying to control is the composition – and complexion — of the country. Period. End of story.

Maniaphobes

The right sells our immigration laws as commercial regulations meant to protect U.S. workers but they have a double standard with other such rules. They don’t require absolute compliance with environmental regulations before rolling them back to what they call "reasonable." They don't insist all tax cheats be caught before lowering tax rates. Then again, bad air just turns the sky brown and not our neighbors.

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Hey, I don't have the same problem with xenophobia that a lot of people do. Phobias and manias are disorders and not signs that Satan has corrupted the soul. It's just time to stop making room for that particular mental aberration in our sober world. 

The only way that the immigration issue will be solved, as far as some are concerned, is if Europe moves to Mexico and then comes north speaking Swedish and smothering herring in chili peppers.

In the meantime, Republicans will always call their opponents "soft on" ... you name it. Don’t appease them without a deal that includes a path to something big.

Blake Morlock is an award-winning columnist who worked in daily journalism for nearly 20 years and is a former communications director for the Pima County Democratic Party. Now he’s telling you things the Devil won’t.


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CBP

Customs and Border Protection constructed a small-scale mockup of the 'bollard wall' for a photo op in New Mexico in the spring.

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