The mid-term election is 5 days away, and one of the hot button issues is immigration with nothing being more of a symbol of this than “the caravan” (or depending on your political leanings, you may know it as the “the invasion force”).
When you are thinking about who to vote for, I would just like for people to use the common sense they were born with, the values they were hopefully raised with, and cast their vote in whatever way serves their own best interests, and the best interests of America. To do this, it does require a little thinking, because voting based on emotions, internal reactions, fear, or what you heard in a few soundbites on your news program of choice, while much easier, rarely leads to a good result for you or any of us.
So, with that in mind, let’s go back to “the caravan” for a moment…
Currently, the caravan is estimated to include about 4,000 people seeking a better and safer life for themselves and their families, something I think we can all, on some level agree, is not an irrational reaction to the circumstances they face, although I would also argue that embarking on a 2,000 mile or so walk toward a giant unknown is in and of itself a testament to how bad their current situation is. I say that because there are plenty of people in the United States who are homeless, starving and freezing, yet they do not even walk to a warmer climate in the pretty much totally safe environment of the United States. There are plenty of people sitting in their homes, unemployed, benefits like unemployment long since run out, and they are not willing to move to the next county or take a job they feel is beneath them. I’m actually not being critical of these Americans, rather just pointing out that they clearly have not experienced anything even close to level of horrific that these people from Central America must have faced for them to do what they are trying to do.
So, we have 4,000 people walking toward the U.S. border, and IF they make it that far, they will arrive sometime likely between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Without digging into the weeds to deeply, let’s assume that of those 4,000, 25% are children, leaving 3,000 adults give or take. Currently, as reported most recently by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on October 16th, the United States had 7.1 million unfilled, available jobs as of August 31st. Now, I see all the memes making their way around the Internet showing homeless Americans on the street, and declaring something along the lines of “I will worry about immigrants when every one of the (insert made up number here) homeless (insert group of choice here – homeless vets, homeless children, homeless Americans, etc.) are taken care of.” I’m not suggesting we should not be trying to help those people too, but it seems to me that for most people, those people are nothing more than fodder to use as a basis of a meme unfortunately.
The reality is that we have plenty of resources that we could be using to help these people, including government assistance for housing, SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid for their healthcare (especially mental health and drug treatment), public education, job training, free meals in schools for the children of these homeless Americans, Social Security for those who are disabled and unable to work, Medicare for the healthcare of those who are old enough to qualify, and probably 100 other lesser known programs funded with our tax dollars. The other reality is that 4,000 asylum seekers, even IF they were allowed to freely walk into the United States and were immediately “handed” every one of these benefits, it would not impact our ability to help all of these homeless Americans one damn bit. I should add that, the asylum seekers are not even legally eligible for any of these programs if they are let in, except I think free school lunches for their kids if they are enrolled in public schools.
So, once again, back the caravan of 4,000 Central Americans. It has been reported this week that they are asking for buses to transport them to Mexico City to meet with Mexican officials about their situation because they are exhausted and slowing down. As Americans, there are a lot of different things we could do to intervene in this situation. For argument’s sake, I will just point out what I think are the two most extreme possibilities. First, we can take the approach that the President of the United States is claiming twice a day every day in his rallies that he will do…send 5,200 active duty military personnel to the border to close it down and block every one of these people from entering the country. While there are no firm estimates of this cost yet, it will be paid for out of our defense budget, and for a comparison, we sent 2,000 National Guard troops to the border earlier this year, and the cost on that so far is hovering around $185 million in taxpayer dollars and climbing daily. The current planned deployment of 5,200, including 800 that are already on their way to Texas, with 4,400 more to follow in the coming days. They are calling this “Operation Faithful Patriot”. In addition to the 5,200 troops (which Trump says he is prepared to expand to as many as 10 to 15,000 as needed), they are sending three helicopter companies, with night vision capabilities, to help Border Patrol officers reach remote areas more quickly; four airplanes to transport Border Patrol agents as needed; multiple medical units, and finally, 22 miles of concertina wire to reinforce fencing along the border.
As a point of reference, we only have about 2,000 troops in Syria to fight ISIS. We have about 8,500 troops in Afghanistan, and when Trump took office we had 5,500 tr0ops remaining in Iraq (although, the Trump Administration refuses to make the current number public. Regardless, my point is that we hade determined that three foreign hot zones, combined warrant roughly the same number of troops that Trump thinks we should send to stop 4,000 unarmed asylum seekers on this caravan. As for cost, let’s just assume that sending 2 ½ times the number of troops as the number of National Guardsmen previously sent will cost at least 2 ½ times as much. I think that is probably a very safe assumption, and likely a huge understatement given the amount of equipment being deployed as well. But at 2 ½ times the cost, we will be spending a minimum of $462.5 million, plus the $185 million already spent on those 800 National Guardsmen (though that number is growing every day) we will already be up to nearly $650 million.
Here’s where it gets good. Let’s assume that all 4,000 asylum seekers reach the border. We will, I would assume, have no problem stopping them with this kind of deployment, but we will need to do something with them. I suppose we could just point guns at them and make then kneel on the Mexican side of our border until they turn around or die there, but given our seemingly endless urge to lock immigrants in cages, I think we can assume that is the more likely outcome. The latest statistics reported break this cost down into three categories. For an adult, ICE reports that is costs $133.99 per day, per adult. Immigration groups actually say this expense is closer to $200 per day, but regardless, it’s not cheap. If we choose to not separate mothers and children, it costs $319 per day per mother/child pair, known as a “family bed”, and it costs $775 per child, per night when the children are separated. Let’s do some math, using past actions as an indicator (meaning we will likely separate parents and children again) and work with my assumption of 3,000 adults with 1,000 children. It may not be exact, but it will give us a good idea anyway. The math on that shows this will cost taxpayers $775,000 per day for the 1,000 children separated from parents, and $401,970 per day for the 3,000 adults, for a grand total of $1.18 million per day. For the kids, they have been found to be detained for as long as 240 days in recent months (total cost of “locking up” this caravan’s children would then be $186 million. For the adults, average time in detainment before their case is adjudicated, is one year and 17 days (382 days), putting the total cost for these estimated 3,000 adults is $153.6 million. So, in total, to “stop this invasion”, the Trump administration is spending roughly $650 million on military support, and $339.6 million on detention, or just shy of $1 billion, and that does NOT include the cost of the ICE agents, Customs and Border Patrol agents, etc. that are budgeted for differently and cannot be specifically tied back to just this caravan.
Finally, a few other numbers that should be considered…
While we have no way of knowing how many “bad hombres” are within this caravan, statistically, based on all detained illegal immigrants at our southern border, around 13% are eventually determined to pose an actual threat, with 51% being determined as posing no risk of any kind, and the balance being found to have minor non-violent criminal histories, ranging from misdemeanors to things like theft, etc. (but still posing no threat in terms of physically harming Americans). The other number I find interesting is that the nearly $340 million that will be spent detaining these individuals will see 71% of that money given to private, for profit, prison contractors ($241 million).
It should come as no shock that since Trump took office, campaign contributions made by these private, for profit prison contractors has spiked from about $300,000 annually during Obama’s 8 years in office to $1,7 million annually since Trump took office. Approximately 85% of that has gone to Republican members of the House and Senate. Some has gone to Conservative groups/PACS, and less than 10% has gone to a handful of Democrat members of the House (mainly 1 member from Texas). The single biggest recipient though is Governor Rick Scott of Florida.
In conclusion, for Option 1 that Trump is pursuing, “send the military and lock ‘em up” to “stop this enemy invasion” we will be spending about $1 billion in the coming months to stop 4,000 people from entering the United States in search of asylum, of which. based on statistical averages, we are talking about 390 people that pose a threat to the United States. Now, when we apply common sense to this scenario, if someone is aligned with a cartel, or some kind of violent criminal, they would likely not bother leaving Central America where law enforcement is non-existent and the violent criminals are not the ones suffering, OR, they are aligned with a criminal organization that has the resources to deploy their associates a little more efficiently than having them walk 2,000 miles to the United States and then to walk across the border and surrender to authorities seeking asylum, facing more than a year in prison, a full background check and almost certain eventual deportation. In other words, the idea that there are 390 threats to the United States amongst the people of this caravan defies logic, and I think it would be shocking if you found a dozen.
So, what is option #2?
Option two is quite simple. Send the buses these migrants are asking for into Mexico and bring them back to the U.S. border. Collect their identification when you pick them up, and use some of the $1 billion on expediting background checks as they make their way to the border. By the time they get here, the vast majority of these people will have already been cleared of being a threat, and detain those who have not been cleared yet. Within a few weeks, a decision should be able to be made about these remaining people, and deport the ones who do pose a threat immediately…end of story. For the rest…the ones who were cleared quickly while still on the bus and the ones who are cleared after a BRIEF stay in a detention center…give the, a work visa, a social security number to start paying taxes, a list of destinations that have plenty of job openings that they would be qualified for, and a bus ticket to get there. Within days, these people will be working, supporting their families, paying taxes, including paying into things like Social Security and Medicare that they will never be qualified to receive a penny from without going through the lengthy process of actually becoming a U.S. citizen at some point years down the road. Since they are here legally, employers will be required to at least pay them minimum wage, and not take advantage of them, the way employers do have a history of taking advantage of illegal immigrants. As they start receiving paychecks, they will be buying food…they will be paying rent…they will be buying clothes…and they are not drawing upon any of the “welfare programs” that taxpayers are funding. Even if all work a single, full time minimum wage job only, they will at worst be contributing about $1,200 per year into Social Security alone, not including income tax withholdings, sales tax paid, etc.
In the end, there will still be 7,097,000 jobs sitting unfilled, we will have saved taxpayers $1 billion, we will turn these people overnight into productive members of our society, contributing financially to our country, and the United States will once again be able to reclaim the moral authority regarding our relationships with the rest of the world in a way that has been lost for the past two years.
To all of you who want to call yourself a “Christian” or even a “Nationalist”…how is option #2 not without a doubt what is in the best interests of America and certainly, the answer to the question WWJD? It is my opinion that if you think Option 1 is the way to go, then you have given up any right to call yourself a Christian, and you need to add the word “White” in front of your Nationalist identity, because there is no other logical explanation.
On the other hand, if you agree with me, then pay attention to who you are casting a ballot for next Tuesday and pick someone who is actually going to act in your best interest, and the best interests of America. Those things should not be partisan, though I think if you are paying attention to what each candidate stands for, you will find that they are more often than not…it just may not be the side that you previously thought had your best interests at heart.