The July 7 edition of the Wall Street Journal included an opinion piece from long-time Republican political advisor Karl Rove, which exposes the human costs of the crisis unfolding daily on the Southwest border. From drug smuggling to crime to sex trafficking, it’s all there, in 15 short paragraphs.
Opinion pieces are inevitably tendentious, so I usually approach them with caution. When they are chock-full of facts -- as Rove’s is -- however, they help to inform the immigration debate.
Rove focuses on Kelly Hancock, the Republican chairman of the Texas state Senate Veterans Affairs and Border Security Committee, and the reports that Hancock and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) received on a June 30 tour of Texas’ Rio Grande Valley (RGV).
Rove contrasts the findings of that delegation and Hancock’s assessments of the border with those of Vice President Kamala Harris, who stated after a June 25 trip to El Paso that "we have seen extreme progress over these last few months."
In a June 24 post, I explained why Harris’s then-planned trip should have been to the RGV -- "the hotspot of the border crisis" -- not El Paso.
Why did I call the RGV "the hotspot" of the Biden border crisis? Through May, Border Patrol agents there have apprehended almost 272,000 migrants this fiscal year, a more than 400 percent increase over the same period in FY 2020, and accounting for more than 30 percent of all Border Patrol apprehensions along the Southwest border this year.
By way of comparison, 42,700 more aliens have been apprehended in the RGV this year than were nabbed along the entire Southwest border through May in FY 2020.
As Rove’s piece makes clear, however, the RGV has not been the only Border Patrol sector that has borne the brunt of the crisis.
He explains that agents in the Laredo sector, west of the RGV, have apprehended more than 76,000 illegal migrants this fiscal year, a 250 percent increase over the same period in FY 2018 (not exactly a halcyon time at the border either), and in fact, those apprehensions are more than 181 percent higher than in FY 2020.
He continues: "Even in El Paso, where Ms. Harris declared 'extreme progress,' the fiscal year’s total was 113,824 encounters, or a 563% increase year over year."
Abbott's delegation heard from Col. Steve McCraw, head of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), who explained that traffickers are sending large groups of migrants "across the border in specific areas to tie up CBP with the slow task of processing and detaining all of them".
That makes it much easier for Mexican drug cartels to smuggle drugs such as cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine, as well as what Rove describes as "high-value clients", across the border into Texas and on their way into the interior of the United States.
One can only ponder whom traffickers would deem "high value clients", but I can guarantee you that they are not future valedictorians, small business owners living "the American dream", or Rhodes scholars.
Such diversionary tactics have increased the flow of narcotics into the United States. According to DPS estimates cited by Rove, there has been a 2000 percent increase in fentanyl coming across the border. As I explained in May, fentanyl -- which is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine -- and other synthetic opioids were responsible for more than 36,000 overdose deaths in 2019.
Rove reports that this flood of fentanyl "has dropped the street price from $50 to $15 a hit, putting the drug within reach of a larger, younger clientele." Other sources reveal how deadly the ready availability of the drug -- driven by the Biden border crisis -- can be, and how far it has seeped into the interior.
For example, in a June 7 letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey complained that the Biden administration's failure to secure the border was flooding his state with the drug, which was responsible for the deaths of 975 West Virginians in 2020.
The carnage of Biden's policies is not restricted to this side of the line. I have previously explained that a big part of the cartels' business plan is "Guns come south, drugs go north", and Rove’s article confirms that the open border has facilitated that model.
With agents "tied up" dealing with the flood of migrants, McCraw explained, the cartels can also move guns and drug profits back to Mexico, meaning that not only does illegal migration cause drug deaths and chaos on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande, it also feeds violence and murder south of it.
Then, there are the migrants who don’t make it. Rove explains that Brooks County Sheriff Urbino Martinez briefed Abbott's delegation on "the growing number of ranchers in his South Texas jurisdiction who’ve found bodies of women and children abandoned by smugglers."
Smugglers are the worst human beings, and are really just in it for the money. Human life means nothing to them, and if it comes down to them getting caught or sacrificing the lives of migrants they are leading, 100 times out of 100 they will choose the latter.
This brings up a point that I believe has been lost on Harris and the rest of the Biden administration. Reviewing her remarks in El Paso, the vice president apparently concludes that migrants understand the dangers of the journey to the United States, and therefore the dangers that they are fleeing are that much worse.
There is nothing that suggests that those migrants do know how savage smugglers are, or how violent and deadly an illegal journey to the United States can be. In fact, the evidence reveals just the opposite.
In a June 2019 post, I referenced remarks that had been made by then-Guatemalan Minister of Governance Enrique Degenhart, a person with a better understanding of migration from his country than Harris or Mayorkas.
He explained that transnational criminal organizations are well-organized and have a "marketing organization" that uses various popular social media to "put out offers" to the Guatemalan population.
Degenhart also complained about the disconnect between the pictures of Guatemalans who have successfully made it to the United States -- which are shared in his country -- and the risks along the route -- which are not.
He referred to a specific case of a young man who had been raped several times along the journey to the United States, arriving in distress when he was apprehended. Afterwards, however, Degenhart revealed that this individual took pictures that he sent back "giving the message he was having a great life" in this country.
Even the Obama administration warned of the dangers posed by alien smugglers. In an August 2014 press release, for example, the White House spoke of "the criminal organizations and smuggling rings that are exploiting" illegal entrants, and described the journey of children and adults "from Central America -- at the hands of smugglers" as "unbelievably dangerous."
Obama undertook a large-scale public-relations campaign with the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to warn would-be migrants that an illegal journey to the United States would be a perilous one.
Has the Biden administration taken similar steps? If they have, I’m not aware of them. Harris has a hard enough time telling foreign audiences that she believes migrants shouldn’t enter the United States illegally. And respectfully, describing El Paso as the "New Ellis Island", as Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Tex.) did during Harris’s June 25 visit there, does nothing but reinforce the smugglers' lies.
Rove also explains how an insecure border has driven crime in Texas. According to Sheriff Martinez, Brooks County has experienced "a dramatic increase of petty crime, breaking and entering, and car theft".
McCraw reports that his department "has already made 1,800 arrests for drug smuggling, human trafficking, car theft and other crimes" since it beefed up its patrols along the border in March. That's on top of the "more than 45,000 illegal aliens, some members of transnational gangs" that DPS officers have apprehended in that period.
Included in DPS's border apprehensions were numerous aliens who had already been deported after they were convicted of felonies, most notably 19 aliens with sex offense convictions who were nabbed in May and June.
Hancock concluded that if the federal government won't secure Texas's southern border, Texas is going to have to. It's clear from Rove's facts and Hancock's conclusions that Abbott’s efforts to build barriers along the border aren't a "stunt", as critics have asserted; they are necessary to protect the Lone Star State.
Keep in mind that Rove is not exactly a "border hawk". He started working for George W. Bush in 1978, helped get him elected Texas governor in 1994, and "adroitly managed Bush’s 2000 campaign for the presidency".
Bush openly supports amnesty for aliens illegally present in this country (although he refuses to call it that), and one of the complaints that Rove makes in his op-ed is that: "The border crises will . . . undermine attempts to reform our immigration system, including resolving the status of the Dreamers, people brought here as children who know no country other than the U.S."
Still, he concludes:
Until the border is secured, cartels will keep importing drugs and extorting money from desperate people. The trafficking of persons for sex or work will keep growing, with untold numbers of children forced into prostitution and more people of all ages imprisoned in sweatshops.
Those are the facts. An insecure border is an invitation to criminals that allows cartels and traffickers to earn billions selling lethal narcotics to Americans throughout the land. And the Biden administration’s non-enforcement of the immigration laws and mixed messaging (to put it kindly) on illegal entry is duping unwary foreign nationals to leave home and become victims of rapacious smugglers.