Does a government ask for donations to maintain its parliamentary buildings? Its Air Force or FBI?
No, a self-respecting nation, particularly a prosperous one like the United States, uses public funds for important public purposes.
But the Obama administration has decided to pull out the begging cup for our somewhat tattered ports of entry, where an endless series of important immigration admission decisions are made all day, every day. The administration treats the ports like poor relatives that should be clothed and fed by recycling society's leftovers.
In another, galling indication of how little importance the administration gives to controlling immigration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a press release this week with the following headline:
CBP and GSA Launch Donation Acceptance Program to Support Port of Entry Infrastructure Needs
The release said, in part: "Accepted donations may be used for activities related to the construction, alteration, operations, and maintenance of CBP or GSA-owned [Government Services Administration] ports of entry."
Many of our land ports of entry are outmoded, deteriorating, and/or insecure; there are major environmental problems, like what do you do about all that carbon monoxide being generated by all those autos waiting to be inspected, particularly at the southern border.
Similarly, I remember visiting one of the small New Mexico ports and watching, in broad daylight, a would-be illegal jump over the fence and sprint toward the interior. The inspector I was talking to said: "It happens all the time. We call the Border Patrol."
So, the administration is right, there are "infrastructure needs".
But isn't that what tax funds are for?
I do not mind the recycling of war-time sensors and fence components from the Department of Defense to the Border Patrol — I hate to see government property go to waste. And I am not worried about the perhaps apocryphal story I heard within the old INS that at one point every INS district director had as his service car a Cadillac that had been seized from some drug dealer.
Congress votes money to fund very expensive, often idle, drones for immigration law enforcement — how about some more money for the not very glamorous ports?