4 things the West Wing is reading today
2. Obama Border Patrol chief: ‘Stay the course’ on the border wall
Mark Morgan, a Border Patrol chief under former President Obama, “said he’s most frustrated by how children are brought into the country illegally under perilous conditions because coyotes exploit vulnerabilities at the border . . . ‘I don’t understand why anyone would be against developing a process that stops that from happening.’”
During his address, Trump said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats supported a barrier along the border until he took over the Oval Office. The change in opinion was also highlighted by the Republican National Convention and Senator Marco Rubio, who respectively posted Obama’s and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s words on a webpage and Twitter.
Morgan called the issue of a border wall “political” but said in 2006, the Secure Fence Act passed because it “was needed.” The measure directed the Department of Homeland Security to build stretches of fencing along the southern border and was approved on a bipartisan front.
“What changed is that at one point it was wanted and needed, and now, because we call it a wall, it’s immoral,” Morgan told The Washington Post. “Really? That’s what we’re talking about now? The size and width of the barrier is the delineation of what is moral or not?”
Trump attempted to compromise with Democrats, changing the proposed wall from concrete to steel, but it seemed to make little difference. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Trump would not be getting the wall and Democrats offered a solution of their own.
In a bill that passed in the House of Representatives on Thursday, Democrats didn’t give Trump the $5.7 billion he requested for a border wall but did offer $1.3 billion for fencing and additional border security. Allocated in the $1.3 billion was new fencing for the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and replacing secondary fencing in San Diego, according to USA Today.
Also included in the bill with regard to border security was $366.5 million for technology, $7.7 million to hire additional U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers, $224.6 million for inspection equipment at ports of entry and $7.08 billion for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
3. Sheriff: Border Fence Helped Cut Crime in Yuma by 91 Percent
Politicians “are not the ones that are investigating the crimes. They are not the ones out here when it’s 120 degrees, processing a crime scene where 14 people were left to die in the desert,” says Leon Wilmot, Sheriff in Yuma County, Arizona.
Wilmot has witnessed it all in his 30-plus years with the sheriff’s department. He knows a vulture will peck a human body down to nothing but bone, because he has seen it. He knows bandits follow the smugglers over the border and rape the women before running back to Mexico, because he is left with the victims. He knows the cartels will commit any crime to get drugs and humans across the border.
Yuma County is 5,522 square miles—larger than the state of Connecticut—and it shares 126 miles of border with Mexico. California and its Imperial Sand Dunes are just a mirage away on the western border beyond the Colorado River.
The Yuma Border Patrol Sector used to be the worst in the country for illegal crossings, until it became a poster-child for the effectiveness of a border fence.
In 2005, before the fence, more than 2,700 vehicles crossed the Colorado River and open deserts, loaded with illegal immigrants and drugs, according to Border Patrol numbers.
Apprehensions steadily increased to more than 138,000 in fiscal 2005.
“Yuma battled entrenched smuggling groups for control of the border,” said Border Patrol in a video. “Mass incursions often left agents outnumbered 50 to 1. Agents were assaulted with rocks and weapons daily.”
Following the Secure Fence Act of 2006, Yuma tripled manpower and added mobile surveillance, as well as fencing and vehicle barriers.
Yuma went from having 5.2 miles of fencing to 63 miles, and subsequently saw an almost 95 percent decrease in border apprehensions by 2009, when Border Patrol made about 7,000 arrests.
Border Patrol in Yuma apprehended more than 26,000 illegal aliens in fiscal 2018.
Although the numbers pale in comparison to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas (more than 162,000 apprehensions for the same period), it is still “maddening” to Bratcher that his community suffered due to Obama-era policies.
“When they put their own political agenda above the quality of life of American citizens and Yuma citizens, what is their motivation? It makes you question that,” he said.
During the Obama era, Wilmot was forced to take matters into his own hands.
“It got to the point where, because the feds would not prosecute those drug smugglers backpacking marijuana across, I had to deputize federal officers so they could actually take those cases to our County attorney and charge them with a state crime—and it was a 100 percent prosecutable case,” Wilmot said.
Wilmot said the U.S. attorney would refuse those cases, so prior to being deputized by the sheriff, the federal officers had no choice but to release the smugglers.
“That’s when we saw an uptick in drug smuggling, especially marijuana,” he said. “The individuals would come across, the U.S. attorney’s office would not charge them, the dope was seized, they would cut them loose, and it was a revolving door. They just kept coming back, coming back, coming back.”
4. Trump won the night. Schumer and Pelosi lost
“Most important, Pelosi and Schumer failed to use the one word that millions of Americans were longing to hear — compromise. But Trump did. That is why the president won the night,” Marc Thiessen of the American Enterprise Institute writes.
Speaking from the Oval Office for the first time during his presidency, Trump embraced our country’s tradition as a nation of immigrants, declaring “America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation.” He then offered a cogent explanation why he believes we face what he called “a humanitarian crisis — a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul” along our southern border.
He pointed out the human cost of our broken system to illegal migrants themselves, expressing compassion for the “children [who] are used as human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs” and the “women [who] are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico.” He shared heartbreaking stories of Americans killed by criminal aliens who had no right to be here — including a police officer in California who was murdered, a 16-year-old girl who was brutally stabbed in Maryland, and an Air Force veteran who was raped and beaten to death.
“I’ve held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief-stricken fathers,” Trump declared. “I will never forget the pain in their eyes, the tremble in their voices, or the sadness gripping their souls.”
And he laid out his solution, which he explained was “developed by law enforcement professionals and border agents” and includes funds for cutting-edge technology, more border agents, more immigration judges, more bed space and medical support — and $5.7 billion for a “physical barrier” that he called “just common sense.” Without naming her, Trump responded to the absurd charge from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that a wall is “immoral.” Democrats voted repeatedly for physical barriers until he was elected president, he noted. If a wall is immoral, Trump asked, “why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences and gates around their homes? They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside.”
The president did not unilaterally declare a national emergency. Instead, he called for compromise and said, “To those who refuse to compromise in the name of border security, I would ask: imagine if it was your child, your husband, or your wife, whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken?”
He was, in short, presidential.
Democrats insisted on equal time, which is highly unusual for presidential addresses other than the State of the Union. It was a mistake. In contrast to Trump, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) came across as small and intransigent.
While Trump spoke calmly and rationally from behind the Resolute Desk, the Democratic leaders accused him of “pounding the table” and having a “temper tantrum.” While Trump told human stories, they complained about process. They accused him of arguing that the women and children at the border were “a security threat” when he had just explained to the American people that they were victims, too. They charged him with using the “backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration.” They were partisan and petty, while Trump came across as reasonable and even compassionate.
To normal Americans watching in the heartland, and who are not steeped in Trump hatred, the president must have seemed like the adult in the room.
And, most important, Pelosi and Schumer failed to use the one word that millions of Americans were longing to hear — compromise. But Trump did. That is why the president won the night. Schumer and Pelosi appealed to their base, while Trump made an effective appeal to persuadable Americans.
Until now, Trump has owned the 18-day government shutdown that prompted this address, because he’s the one who started it. But if Democrats continue to attack him, and won’t entertain any compromise, soon the shutdown will be all theirs — because they’re the ones who have refused to end it.
THE WHITE HOUSE MHI