By DEXTER DUGGAN
PHOENIX — No matter how high the proposed Trump barriers will be, the mere fact of border laws being enforced strongly for a change seems to be an impediment too towering for many cowed potential boundary violators.
In his first official visit to the border as Republican President Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions in his prepared remarks told U.S. law enforcers on April 11 in Nogales, Ariz., which is about a three-hour drive south of Phoenix:
“From January to February of this year, illegal crossings dropped by 40 percent, which was unprecedented. Then, last month, we saw a 72 percent drop compared to the month before the president was inaugurated. That’s the lowest monthly figure for at least 17 years.”
Along this border, Sessions said, “transnational gangs like MS-13 and international cartels flood our country with drugs and leave death and violence in their wake. And it is here that criminal aliens and the coyotes and the document-forgers seek to overthrow our system of lawful immigration.”
As if an explanation were needed, Sessions said: “We mean criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into war zones, that rape and kill innocent citizens, and who profit by smuggling poison and other human beings across our borders. Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks and beheadings.”
Maybe an explanation was needed for remote elitists like politicized open-borders Catholic prelates at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and globalist New York Times editors who’d have you believe the nightmares and terrors of border life simply don’t exist. If you dare mention the chilling facts, you’re a racist bigot like Trump.
What’s that José is carrying on his donkey? Why, it must be Baby Jesus swaddled against the cold. It never could be bundles of drugs and assault weapons.
Well, let’s just say Sessions isn’t gunning for the Baby Messiah when he outlined for the law enforcers Trump’s strengthened policies: “For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country, be forewarned: This is a new era. This is the Trump era. The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigration laws and the catch-and-release practices of old are over.”
Another entrenched force to counter right in the nation’s capital is open-borders politicians.
National conservative talk-radio host Laura Ingraham told her listeners on April 10 that she has friends who know of U.S. senators “who openly laugh at the idea of a wall being built.”
As seems frequently to be the case among many progressives, some of their supposedly cherished causes simply are forgotten when they conflict with the larger goal of the moment.
“Women’s rights,” for instance, is hailed as one of their dominant concerns. But not when it comes to women being brutally raped on the border. Then you dare not even mention rapists or shielding women from them, lest you be pounded by leftist media, as Trump was from the day he announced his presidential campaign in June 2015.
And the environment? Why, one of the most sacred of causes — unless some illegal immigrants are dumping literally tons of their trash on fragile ecosystems, roaring over the landscape in vehicles to evade the Border Patrol, and starting destructive wildfires to divert attention from their own activities. Then the environment is just so much useless dirt to open-borders left-wingers.
On April 11, the Washington Examiner reported: “Illegal immigration and drug running have destroyed border parklands, further threatened two species on the endangered list, and led federal officials to bar visitors and campers in areas considered too dangerous to visit, according to newly released reports.”
In just two park areas that make up less than 90 miles of the Arizona-Mexico border, the story said, the territory has “been ripped up with thousands of miles of unauthorized roads from vehicles that have crushed plants and animal habitat.”
The reports, written even before the surge of illegal immigration during the Obama administration’s later years, said that when fencing is erected, the damage begins to decrease dramatically and impacted areas begin to recover, the Examiner’s Paul Bedard wrote.
“Just last week,” he wrote, “the nation’s former top Border Patrol agent testified before a Senate committee that more recent fencing in the area cut illegal traffic 94 percent and ‘actually allowed for the rejuvenation of areas that had previously been devastated due to heavy illegal pedestrian and vehicular traffic’.”
Arizona Third District Democratic Cong. Raul Grijalva, the far-left co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who denounces Sessions as a “white supremacist,” issued a news release April 11 feigning concern for the welfare of sensitive borderlands.
“Taking time for a photo op at a wall is not the same as taking time to understand how that wall arbitrarily splits the desert landscape, blocking local wildlife from their natural migration patterns, and scarring the ecology of the entire region,” Grijalva said.
“. . . Perhaps most of all, (Sessions) would learn that this region is intricate and complex — solutions here require more than campaign rhetoric and a majority party in Congress willing to rubberstamp policies without concern for consequences,” Grijalva said.
Nogales is a border-straddling population center with a much larger community south of the line, in Nogales, Sonora.
The same day that Sessions came to the smaller Nogales, Ariz., the Nogales International newspaper posted an article about how local shuttle vans offering service northward into Arizona have suffered a drastic decline in passengers due to what one van driver reportedly called “Trump terror.”
The April 11 story quoted one driver: “People are afraid to come. It’s the change in the government. Mr. Trump has scared everybody.”
Some shuttles have “runners,” who cross into Mexican Nogales to recruit passengers to come across to Arizona, the story said.
One reader commented online that perhaps it’d be better not to shuttle cartel members or to drop off passengers in Tubac, Ariz., rather than driving them farther north on the highway.
About 25 miles north of the international line, Tubac is an important Border Patrol checkpoint on the I-19 highway toward Tucson.
In his Nogales talk, Sessions announced that starting immediately, federal prosecutors are required to consider for prosecution a number of offenses including:
“The transportation or harboring of aliens. As you know too well, this is a booming business down here. No more. We are going to shut down and jail those who have been profiting off this lawlessness — people smuggling gang members across the border, helping convicted criminals re-enter this country, and preying on those who don’t know how dangerous the journey can be….
“Also, aliens that illegally re-enter the country after prior removal will be referred for felony prosecution — and a priority will be given to such offenses, especially where indicators of gang affiliation, a risk to public safety or criminal history are present.
“. . . (W)here possible, prosecutors are directed to charge criminal aliens with document fraud and aggravated identity theft — the latter carrying a two-year mandatory minimum sentence.”
The attorney general also said “we will now be detaining all adults who are apprehended at the border” rather than allowing the unreliable “catch and release,” in which illegal entrants are trusted to present themselves for an immigration hearing sometime later.
Work With Us
Later the same day, Sessions spoke at an international association of police chiefs meeting in a western Phoenix suburb, reviewing some of what he’d said in Nogales and assuring the law enforcers that Trump’s toughness already was a factor in declining illegal crossings.
“This is what happens when you have a president who understands the threat, who is not afraid to publicly identify the threat and stand up to it, and who makes clear to law enforcement that the leadership of their country finally has their back. When criminals know we will enforce our laws, they are less likely to attempt to break those laws in the first place,” Sessions said.
However, the attorney general also noted the problems posed by “sanctuary” jurisdictions.
“Some mayors and city councils, and even a police chief and a sheriff here and there, are refusing to work with the federal government, choosing instead to protect the criminal aliens who harm public safety. Today, I urge them to work with us. For the sake of your communities, families, and children, work with us, so we can restore a lawful system of immigration and make our country a safer place,” he said.
The Wanderer asked one of its Arizona contacts near the international line for her thoughts on Sessions’ visit. She requested not to be named because of security worries.
She also criticized Mexican Catholic prelates who fail to stand up for their own people’s welfare at home and likened this to craven hierarchs there during the laymen’s Cristero rebellion against the left-wing Mexican government nearly a century ago.
“Every country has a right to protect its borders and, were the Catholic hierarchy in Mexico fulfilling their duty to their own congregants, they would set aside the spirit of fear which infiltrated their brothers under the miter in the Cristero affair in the early part of the 20th century,” she said in an email, adding:
“In that case, they bargained away freedoms for a peace without justice for the brave army of faithful Catholics who refused to give up their rights to practice their Catholic faith to a tyrannical government.
“In the present situation, in what appears to be a spirit of fear, the archbishop (of Mexico City) and his fellow clerics seem to forget that people have a right to flourish in their own country — that no one and no family should have to pick up and leave their kin, their language, their culture and memories to go to a foreign country. It is that right for which the archbishop should put his efforts,” she said.
“He should not promote a policy of the Mexican government which is to send people out of their own country rather than protect them and their human rights in Mexico. He is capitulating to a negligent government rather than fearlessly demanding all the people’s rights from Mexico’s rich and powerful,” the Arizona woman said.
“When Jeff Sessions went to the border today, he stood up for the American people and her people. He stood up for the rights of Americans not to be forced to accept more immigrants than their country can handle,” said the woman, who has family on both sides of the border.
“He stood up for those who would be exploited by the cartels, both the immigrants and Americans. He stood up for the rule of law….The forgotten legal residents of America will have a government recognizing their suffering and one willing to protect them,” she said, asking:
“Wonder when the Mexican people will see that happen in Mexico? Wonder when the Mexican Catholic hierarchy will help in that effort? Wonder when the American hierarchy will support Trump and Sessions on behalf of Americans?”