We Need Law Enforcement — Plus Other Policies — for Our Border Problems

By David North on June 24, 2018

Law enforcement, whether at the border or in the interior of the country, is both painful and needed, but we cannot solve our problems if we use it alone.

Law enforcement is not an end goal in and of itself. It is designed, or should be, to improve the lives of the public, or at least keep things from getting worse.

Regarding the detention-of-families issue, let me offer a metaphor.

There's a good, native-born guy, but a desperate one; he has five kids and cannot figure a way to feed all of them. He decides to take along his eldest, breaks into a nearby home when no one is there, then he and his son clean out the refrigerator and the pantry and leave.

Most illegal aliens are in about the same situation; non-violent, desperate, and misguided. Some bring their kids with them in the hopes that being a family will allow them to escape the law's penalties for, if you will, breaking and entering.

If we allow this to happen on a small scale, it will grow to a larger scale and pretty soon the nation's borders will be meaningless and we will become a Third World country.

We cannot let this happen. So, to return to the case of the burglar, we must capture him and jail him, otherwise the pattern of burglary will spread. This will separate him from his five kids and he and they will all suffer as a result. But it must be done.

We also should be making efforts, on a broader scale, to eliminate the conditions that promote the problem. In the case of the burglar's family, we should be making sure that our food stamp programs, for example, take care of the basic needs of those in poverty.

Meanwhile, back at the border, we should be saying: "We hate to detain these specific families, but must lock the door to help Americans generally, Hispanic and Anglo, Black and White, in the long run. This may look terrible right now, but it is necessary."

Unfortunately, what we are seeing now is an administration that thinks it can solve these problems simply by enforcing the law, and doing so right at our long, long southern border. While law enforcement, and the detention of illegal aliens at this border are both absolutely necessary, they must be supported by other programs, including, generally, more enforcement inside the United States.

In addition to more worksite enforcement, I suggest two highly visible new programs, both to operate to the south of us and with lots of publicity; neither would be anywhere near as expensive as a massive, concrete wall along large stretches of our long southern border, which the president seems to want.

The Little Railway that Might. One of these proposals would be a really strong fence, built along an existing but little used railroad that cuts across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific. The railway runs for 190 miles and is thus only one-tenth the length of the U.S.-Mexico border. All Central Americans moving by land toward the United States have to cross this rail line.

We would have to pay the Mexican government a lot of money to keep Central Americans from crossing this interior border within Mexico. But if properly financed, that nation is in far better shape to stop the crossers than we are, with our asylum laws, for example.

From what my CIS colleague, Kausha Luna, could discover, the railway is owned by the Mexican government, is never used for passengers, and only sometimes for freight. It was built long ago on the notion that it would offer a way to get goods from the Gulf to the Pacific that is cheaper than the Panama Canal. But few shippers see it that way. The idea is that a dozen or so crossing points could be constructed to allow Mexican nationals to move back and forth easily, while stopping Central American illegals.

This is essentially a law enforcement proposal, but much less expensive than a concrete wall that would have to be 10 times as long.

The next notion would fit into the framework of "compassionate enforcement" and play to idea of Donald Trump as a world-class developer.

Trump Cantons. This proposal could operate on its own, or work with the railway fence suggested above.

The idea is to create within the Northern Triangle nations (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador) Trump Cantons, which would become more prosperous, better educated, and better policed than the rest of the nation, but still very much part of those nations. The use of the term "cantons" would, one hopes, suggest the clean local governments in Switzerland. The three of them might be created in the area where the three nations meet.

The Trump Cantons would be non-profit, semi-governmental organizations with a dual leadership consisting of an American appointee (who must be Spanish-speaking and have overseas development experience, perhaps a career USAID official) and a representative of the national government. They would be equals, but the U.S. official, always being in the position of denying funding, would have a strong hand.

Perhaps the best model would be that of the Tennessee Valley Authority, a public agency that managed its own substantial projects as an overlay, but not a replacement, of existing states and counties.

The Trump Cantons, however, would take over and heavily subsidize the local police, presumably replacing the current leadership, so that a non-corrupt, anti-gang law enforcement system would chase the gangs out of the Cantons. (These new cops would also regard spousal abuse as a crime, not a local tradition.) The Trump Cantons would subsidize and improve the local schools so that they operated at a visibly higher level of funding and competence than other schools in the nation.

The Cantons would also seek support from U.S. agricultural colleges and U.S. corporations in terms of better management of whatever agricultural resources are present. U.S. procurement rules and perhaps the tax laws could be adjusted to favor job-creating investments in the Trump Cantons. One or more major U.S. universities might be encouraged to open branch facilities.

One of the objectives of all of this activity would be the creation of places within the Northern Triangle that could, honestly, be called locations where was life was pretty good, and there would be no need to flee. Perhaps as the results of these experiments impressed others in these nations, the Trump Cantons would spread to other provinces.

Were the administration to be simultaneously building the Trump Cantons and enforcing our laws at the border it would be in a stronger position than it is now.