What Problem?

This is a useful chart, if you find yourself discussing migrant arrests.

Meanwhile, the US Government is pulling a trick straight out of recommended reading book How To Lie With Statistics [wc] – convert into a percentage and hide the underlying data. Since 1.6% of crimes are committed by unauthorized immigrants, you can say “immigrant-related crime is up 300%!” if it goes up even a little bit. Which it’s not, of course – what they are doing is re-defining what constitutes a serious offense; if you know someone who knows someone who is maybe in a gang, they mark you as “gang connected.”

There is a good explainer here [wola]

The number of migrants apprehended at the U.S. border has substantially decreased over the last decade, and it’s currently at low levels similar to the 1970s. Given that overall migration numbers are way down, we are at the point of diminishing returns in terms of additional Border Patrol agents. The administration’s proposal to hire more agents and justification for building a wall would be further called into question if the apprehension numbers continue to decline.

Migrant apprehensions are, in other words, a nothingburger. What we should be worrying about is how to get all those ICE goons disarmed and locked in metal mesh enclosures.

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During the run-up to the Iraq war, when they were still saying it would only cost $30 billion or so, I suggested that the US could take $15 billion and divide it up by the number of government employees and military in the Iraqi government, and tell them “we’ll give you all this money if you depose Saddam.” In retrospect, it was a better idea than I realized. How much would Trump’s wall cost? Why not divide that by 300,000 or whatever and offer a one-time cash bonus of $10,000 to anyone who’s willing to leave?


  1. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Moreover, the best way to prevent economic migration (if you care about preventing economic migration) is to improve wages and working conditions in neighboring countries.

    We talk a lot about the trade deficit, but that’s a purposeful policy that allows us to, essentially, privatize development aid in a way that reduces immigration pressure without raising howls from the right about taxing US citizens only to give money away to other countries.

    It’s also economically efficient: if people can produce your widgets and ship them to you across an ocean more cheaply than you can produce them domestically, let them. But don’t let the economic efficiency argument blind you to the fact that this has been a specific anti-immigration policy for decades now.

  2. kurt1 says

    Aren’t 100% of migrants criminals now? The fascists in power made it a criminal offence to cross the border illegaly. Now Nazi-Jeff and his buddy Ralph claim that those animals are not only breaking the law of the US of A but also gawds law. That only matters for them though, Trump don’t need dem facts anyways.

  3. Reginald Selkirk says

    I am wondering what is going wrong in Latin America to motivate all these people to migrate. Something also seems to be happening in Africa and the Middle East to generate the migrant traffic to Europe. I can understand the war in Syria is having an effect, but the problem seems broader than that. What are the contributing factors?

  4. says

    Reginald Selkirk@#3:
    I am wondering what is going wrong in Latin America to motivate all these people to migrate. Something also seems to be happening in Africa and the Middle East to generate the migrant traffic to Europe.

    I can’t tell if you’re asking seriously, or not. In Africa and the Middle East the migrations are a direct result of US-led regime change in Libya and Syria, with a side order of failed state in Sudan and Somalia. It might sound a bit facile to chalk it all up to knock-on effects of colonial policy after WWI and the breakup of the Ottoman Empire but it’s hard to be wrong if you start your cause/effect chain there.

    Similarly, the US colonial policy in Central America – arbitrarily you could say beginning with the Monroe Doctrine – is a good starting-point for the political destabilization of that area. The US has persisted in destabilizing governments in Venezuela and Nicaragua for a very long time, and the political failure in Venezuela has a lot to do with the US’ relentless opposition to a successful socialist-style government down there (“socialist style” meaning “as socialist as the US is democratic”)

    I worry that all of this is pre-game warm-up for the real migrant crises that will come when the ocean levels begin to displace millions of people. If you want to depress yourself on that score, go on youtube and watch Gwynne Dyer’s “geopolitics in a warming world” lecture. His claim (which I believe) is that the developed world is preparing to defend itself as it watches the 3rd world wither up and die on the other side of concertina-wire borders.

  5. joestutter says

    Current Venezuela’s woes are not related or caused by “US’ relentless opposition to a successful socialist-style government”. I guess you know this since you seem to clarify what you meant with “socialist-style”. I emigrated from Venezuela almost 20 years ago when Chavez was starting and it worries me to see the similarities between the rhetoric and tactics of the Trump administration and that of the Chavez’s and now Maduro’s regimes.

  6. says

    Current Venezuela’s woes are not related or caused by “US’ relentless opposition to a successful socialist-style government”.

    There are a couple places in the world (everywhere except Germany and the UK, maybe France?) where I’m pretty confident that the US has not been indirectly pressuring the government to adopt policies, or outright “regime change” to suit. The US had it in for Chavez for, well, forever. They never managed to bring him down, like they did Muammar Gaddafi, but I’m pretty sure that the US establishment would have been happy to see him served similarly. So, I am confused about causality, and I’m not comfortable even trying to say to what degree I think the US is involved in Venezuela’s woes. There are many places I feel similarly about, because there are many places the US looms inexorably in the background.

    I understand what happened to Haiti better than I understand what happened to Venezuela, though I think the mechanism is the same. Haiti’s current problems appear to be a mix of genuine bad luck, and corruption and bad leadership. But Haiti’s leaders are always going to be bad, because the US would probably send the marines down to remove any Haitian leader who wasn’t bad. Pretty much that applies to every country in Central America: they can either get fucked by bad luck, find their own bad leaders, or – if they find a good one – the US will make sure that leader is replaced with a bad one. It’s like our policy is “just keep the waters muddy.” It’s the opposite of nation-building.

    And since I used the words “nation building” let me comment on that: the US has this myth that nations can be built. Presumably that fiction evolved because Japan and Germany and South Korea did a good job of rebuilding themselves. Vietnam has, too. Because, oops, it appears that “nation building” is what happens when the US stops bombing the fuck out of a country. Therefore I propose not to call it “nation building” but rather “stop bombing people and let them get their shit together”