A million people will cross the Mexico-U.S. border legally today in both directions. A million people will cross the border tomorrow and the day after and the day after that.
A tiny handful, maybe a few hundred, will cross illegally. Among us, there is a group of Americans that are blind to the legal crossers and the trade, and are frightened beyond measure by the tiny number that cross illegally.
Four thousand or more commercial trucks will cross the border today. Today, tomorrow, the day after, next week and next month, every day $1.4 billion worth of legal goods and services will cross the border in both directions.
Yet the same frightened cohort that cringes at the tiny number of people who cross over illegally are concerned about narcotics smuggled into the U.S. to satisfy the insatiable American hunger and demand for illicit drugs. They ignore the drug epidemic of prescribed drugs that is the real problem.
It should be noted that the total number of illegally-present people here is a cumulative total of half a century or more. They didn’t all come last summer.
Donald Trump and his hard-core followers want to build a $25-$40 billion, 3,200-kilometer wall to keep out all the Mexican criminals and rapists and goods made in Mexico by American companies. Trump particularly wants to punish the Ford Motor Company and United Technologies’ Carrier air conditioner company with illegal tariffs.
Never mind that the border has plenty of fencing, double fencing topped with barbed wire. I see it every time I cross from San Diego into Tijuana or from Calexico into Mexicali. Plenty of fencing in Arizona except on a giant Indian reservation or in the steep mountains.
Where there is little or no fencing is along most of the 1,900-kilometer border of the Rio Grande between Mexico and the United States. Rough terrain, a national park and private landowners in Texas have kept fencing from being built. Seems that Texas ranchers and farmers are not inclined to hand over their land — they went to court and stopped fencing in its tracks.
Few would notice the absence of fencing as the number of Mexicans has fallen precipitously in the past seven years. There are two reasons for this: first, the deep recession and slow growth since 2008 has cut job opportunities that would normally draw job seekers; secondly, birth control measures sponsored and implemented by the Mexican government three decades ago.
They have drastically cut birth rates thus cutting the number of working-age young men. That and a huge expansion of Mexican industry and wages have resulted in fewer Mexican men coming to the U.S. compared to a decade or two ago.
Two years ago, attention was drawn to the border when massive numbers of Central American children arrived at the Texas border seeking refuge in the U.S. under special laws passed by Congress designed to protect children from Central America – not from Mexico. Many Americans panicked about a mass invasion of little brown children into Texas. Then came June 16, 2015.
On that day, Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president and with his announcement earned a gaggle of “Pinocchios” for lying from all fact checkers, the Washington Post and Politifact. He called all but “some” Mexican immigrants “criminals and rapists.” He never used the words “illegal” or “illegal immigrants” or “illegal aliens” in his statement.
When his supporters declare that he meant only “illegals,” that is baloney. He meant all Mexicans; he resents Mexicans. Notice no Trump hotels or golf courses in Mexico.
Then came his rants against a U.S.-born citizen judge who has denied Trump’s inarticulate and inadequate defenses in the class action law suit against him and his failed Trump University.
First Trump referred to Judge Gonzalo Curiel as a “Mexican” who ruled against him in a summary judgment decision. When he was informed the judge was born in the state of Indiana and wasn’t a Mexican, Trump relabeled the judge as being of “Mexican heritage.” He accused the judge ruling against him because he, Trump, wants to build a wall on the Mexican border.
Most Americans are smart enough not to want a wall on the border, most Americans recognize that the commerce between Mexico and the United States benefits both countries and millions of employees.
Most Americans know that most Mexicans are not criminals and rapists or are even illegally here.
Will most Americans support Trump’s campaign to build a wall and to punish American companies because they do not please Donald Trump? We will find out on November 8.
Raoul Lowery Contreras is a political consultant. He was formerly with the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate. Contreras’s books are available at Amazon.com.