The Jury Talks Back

1/9/2019

Why This Wall Fight Now? Good Question!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 8:53 am

From Matt Walsh:

As a reminder: a year ago, Schumer and Trump were discussing a deal for $25 billion, not $5 billion. Negotiations blew up with a lot of finger-pointing in the aftermath:

During the Friday meeting, Trump and Schumer agreed that most of the $25 billion would be appropriated at the start, with more doled out in the future, according to a person familiar with the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly about the exchange.

Aides to Schumer would not comment on the exact price tag.

Over the weekend, Schumer described the meeting several times in public remarks, saying that Trump “picked a number for the wall, and I accepted it.” At other points Schumer said he “reluctantly” agreed to discuss constructing a wall — but never revealed the sum.

But Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said: “Once Schumer started talking about the president backing away from the deal that never existed, he said he offered the president everything on the wall and the military. That just wasn’t true. . . . The president knew Schumer was mistreating him.”

Matt House, a spokesman for Schumer, said Mulvaney “once again isn’t telling the truth. Senator Schumer offered the president everything he asked for on the border and more than he asked for on defense.”

One major sticking point was Stephen Miller’s insistence on chain migration being part of any compromise:

At the White House, the administration said Tuesday that it expects Congress to move beyond a bipartisan deal to protect the undocumented immigrants that the president rejected during a vulgar exchange with lawmakers nearly two weeks ago.

“It’s totally unacceptable to the president and should be declared dead on arrival,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a White House news briefing of a plan being crafted by Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.).

She said their plan, not yet written into formal legislation, would not sufficiently secure the border and would increase legal family-based immigration, a practice that conservatives are hoping to curb to dissuade migrants from entering the country.

You don’t hear much about that these days. One gets the sense that if Schumer offered the same deal today — $25 billion for legislative DACA — Trump would jump at it.

Instead, Mr. Art of the Deal let the moment pass. And here we are, with Democrats in control of the House, in a far worse negotiating position.

So he chooses to make a stand now?

Remember when Republicans passed legislation to repeal ObamaCare when Obama was in office, he refused to pass the same legislation when Trump was in office?

This is what Republicans do. They fake support for things. That’s what this shutdown is about. Convincing you they care, when they don’t.

48 Comments »

  1. Paul Ryan would have never agreed to allow a bill concerning the wall to make it to the floor of the house for a vote. Doesn’t matter what the Senate Dems wanted to do or offered.

    Comment by Sean — 1/10/2019 @ 5:40 am

  2. Not only did Ryan allow the funding bill to proceed, it passed in late December 2018:

    House Republicans voted to approve a bill to fund President Donald Trump’s $5 billion demand for a border wall, setting up a final showdown in the Senate ahead of Friday’s deadline to avert a government shutdown.

    The Senate said No to funding the wall, not Ryan and the House.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/10/2019 @ 8:35 am

  3. It occurs to me that I may be the only regular commenter –here or at the main website — who lives near the border. (Much of California and populated areas in Arizona and New Mexico already have walls.) It sounds fine to talk about other options when you don’t live on the border, just as it sounds fine to sometimes leave your house or car unlocked because you live in a safe neighborhood. My “neighborhood” is never safe anymore.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/10/2019 @ 10:38 am

  4. Correction: It occurs to me that I may be the only regular commenter –here or at the main website — who lives near a border without a wall.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/10/2019 @ 1:30 pm

  5. How long have you lived there, DRJ?

    (P.S. Happy new year!)

    Comment by Dave — 1/10/2019 @ 7:39 pm

  6. Best wishes, Dave. I’ve lived in different towns in West Texas and SE NM for most of my life. I also lived in Dallas and Houston for a total of 5 years as a child, and in Austin for 7 years during college/law school.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/11/2019 @ 9:23 am

  7. I ask since I wonder whether you have noticed a change in safety over the last decade or so when illegal immigration as a whole has dropped sharply.

    Comment by Dave — 1/11/2019 @ 4:27 pm

  8. My perception is there are more illegal aliens in West Texas and SE NM (perhaps because there are more jobs here than in other places) and more crime. But my perception doesn’t matter. What matters is that crimes committed by illegal aliens are crimes that shouldn’t have happened because illegal aliens shouldn’t be here in the first place.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/11/2019 @ 6:14 pm

  9. At the main site, I posted this May 2018 study released by the Trump DHS, which has statistics on apprehensions and illegal entries.

    For the southwest border, as figure 3 shows

    “estimated total successful unlawful entries declined from 1.8 million to 168,000 between FY 2000 and FY 2016, a 91 percent decrease.”

    It would be surprising if a decrease so large wasn’t noticeable, and it seems to belie claims of a “crisis”. Although the goal should be stopping all illegal entry, the real crisis was 10-15 years ago, not today, and was dealt with quite effectively by the measures President Bush put in place.

    (Bush-haters like to claim the recession was responsible, but the numbers clearly show successful illegal entry was in steep decline years before).

    Comment by Dave — 1/11/2019 @ 8:04 pm

  10. Assuming there was a significant decline, which we really can’t know, what makes you think there isn’t a cumulative impact from illegal immigration? Did all the illegal aliens who came in prior years go home?

    Comment by DRJ — 1/11/2019 @ 8:54 pm

  11. For instance, in recession years when the reports say there is less illegal immigration, illegal aliens who are already here are adversely impacted by the recession — probably significantly impacted. Isn’t it likely that a percentage might commit crimes to support themselves and their families, especially since they have already shown they are willing to commit crimes to support themselves and their families by coming here illegally? Just because there are fewer coming in some years doesn’t mean crime goes down. It might even go up in communities impacted by a recession.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/11/2019 @ 9:52 pm

  12. Good point about cumulative effect, DRJ, but (again according to the authorities) the net flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico has been out of the country for the last decade or so.

    Also, we are not currently experiencing a recession or particularly bad economic times, so that would also tend to suggest things should have been worse ten years ago (when we were).

    There are probably areas where the economy is poor due to any number of local factors, of course.

    Comment by Dave — 1/11/2019 @ 10:01 pm

  13. The economy in West Texas and SE NM is based on the oil and gas industry. Illegal aliens would not generally be hired by the O&G companies but there are jobs that depend on the industry. When the price of oil is up, there are more jobs. When the price of oil goes down, the jobs go away. Obviously not all illegal aliens go to West Texas/SE NM, but many come here first for jobs.

    The ones that stay often start their own businesses as handymen, masons, mowing lawns, etc. They are considered independent contractors and typically there is no requirement to check (and no basis to inquire about) immigration status to employ them, unless they are household employees like maids and nannies. In the past 10+ years we have also seen more immigrants working solely in Hispanic parts of town, where their common language and cultures give them advantages over Anglo businesses. This is not limited to manual labor or construction skills, but also includes semiprofessional businesses like tax preparers.

    FWIW I am not surprised that illegal immigration from Mexico lags but generally tracks the price of West Texas intermediate crude, with immigration going up during high prices and going down when the prices decline.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/12/2019 @ 10:22 am

  14. By the way, the Mexican immigrant population in my region is fluid. My perception is that legal and illegal Mexican immigrants frequently go back and forth between the US and Mexico. I don’t think anyone knows how many there are in the US, and the numbers can be interpreted to show almost anything. Want to show a lot of illegal immigrants in the US? You can do that. Want to show they all went back to Mexico? You can do that, too. The real numbers are, IMO, unknowable.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/12/2019 @ 12:41 pm

  15. What matters is that crimes committed by illegal aliens are crimes that shouldn’t have happened because illegal aliens shouldn’t be here in the first place.

    Yup. This is the part that the open borders crowd always ignores.

    Comment by Patterico — 1/12/2019 @ 2:01 pm

  16. I don’t think anyone knows how many there are in the US, and the numbers can be interpreted to show almost anything. Want to show a lot of illegal immigrants in the US? You can do that. Want to show they all went back to Mexico? You can do that, too. The real numbers are, IMO, unknowable.

    No offense, but this is a Trump-style argument: because we can’t know something exactly, we can’t know anything about it at all.

    Forgive me if I’ve mischaracterized your position, but you appear to say that almost verbatim.

    My business is measuring things that can’t be known exactly, and there is a proven methodology for quantifying and minimizing the degree of uncertainty. That doesn’t mean any particular measurement is guaranteed to be reliable or immune to mistakes, but saying “because there are uncertainties, we know nothing” seems to me an uninformed and unserious claim.

    If we were arguing about a 10% decrease, you would have a point that the numbers probably aren’t that precise. But we’re talking about almost a factor of ten.

    Comment by Dave — 1/12/2019 @ 8:10 pm

  17. The discussion is worthwhile even if we can’t be precise, but IMO we need to recognize how unreliable the data is. Some studies indicate the actual illegal alien population is twice as high. Can we make informed estimates? Yes. Are they reliable? I don’t think so. Illegal aliens live in the shadows are don’t leave the footprints we use to compile statistics. And Mexican immigrants, especially, come and go across the border in my State.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/13/2019 @ 10:42 am

  18. “but saying “because there are uncertainties, we know nothing” seems to me an uninformed and unserious claim.”

    That is a misstatement of my position. I said “we can’t know the real numbers.” You restated it as “we know nothing” and called my position “uninformed and unserious.” This is why I keep giving up on discussions here.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/13/2019 @ 10:47 am

  19. but saying “because there are uncertainties, we know nothing” seems to me an uninformed and unserious claim.

    This comment violates the rules here. You would not say that to another guest in my living room.

    Comment by Patterico — 1/13/2019 @ 12:54 pm

  20. Dave,

    My understanding of your main points is as follows:

    1. “[T]he net flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico has been out of the country for the last decade or so.”

    2. “Also, we are not currently experiencing a recession or particularly bad economic times … ”

    Thus, I think you conclude this “belies the claims of a ‘crisis’.”

    I responded to your points by saying that we don’t know real immigration numbers, and IMO it is hard to get a reliable handle on the numbers because we’re talking about people who are trying to hide. Can we be reasonably certain the numbers have gone down? Probably, and we can suggest reasons why that might be the case, but I don’t think we can be certain of a dramatic decline.

    Furthermore, even if we could, I completely disagree with your claim that “we are not currently experiencing a recession or particularly bad economic times” and how that might impact immigration. Bad economic times in the macro sense is measurable, but bad economic times in individual cases depends on the person. If you are an illegal alien living in West Texas who just lost all his jobs mowing lawns because the price of oil went down, you are having bad economic times. IMO they are more prone to be hit by even marginally bad times.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/13/2019 @ 5:54 pm

  21. How many immigrants come to the US varies over time. It is like weather. It is helpful to try to understand why and when they come and why and when they don’t … but when we have millions that have been coming for decades and they are still here, I call it a crisis. It doesn’t help me to think the government says they aren’t coming any more. They are.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/13/2019 @ 6:00 pm

  22. Every week and it was a crisis for parts of Texas.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/13/2019 @ 6:03 pm

  23. My opinion, and it is speculation and not something I would base policy decisions on, is that Obama’s 8 years of a weak economy helped stem illegal immigration and even caused some immigrants already in the US to go home to Mexico. If so, one answer to illegal immigration is to hurt the US economy as much as possible. I prefer a wall and e-Verify because I expect the economy to improve. If that happens, I think we will see more Mexican immigrants.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/13/2019 @ 6:33 pm

  24. First things first:

    This comment violates the rules here. You would not say that to another guest in my living room.

    It was a criticism of the comment and not the person.

    I don’t see it as inappropriate in polite company, but if you do then I sincerely apologize to DRJ and you for giving offense where none was intended, and will do my best not to do so again.

    DRJ is one of my favorite people here. I guess I feel we are on friendly enough terms to speak frankly, and perhaps that is presumptuous of me.

    That is a misstatement of my position. I said “we can’t know the real numbers.” You restated it as “we know nothing” and called my position “uninformed and unserious.” This is why I keep giving up on discussions here.

    I clearly misinterpreted your use of the word “unknowable”. To me, if something is unknowable, then it is beyond the ken of knowledge. I think there is a vast difference between “unknowable” and “poorly known”.

    In my defense, I specifically acknowledged that my understanding might be mistaken, and asked for correction if so. But again, I apologize.

    My understanding of your main points is as follows: […]

    I would also say there is strong evidence (which you are less convinced by) that there is significantly less illegal immigration today than in the not-too-distant past.

    Indeed, the illegal immigrants attempt to hide. However considerable resources and technology have been deployed to interdict them. So it would be strange if we were only finding 1/9 as many as we did 10-12 years ago, before those additional resources were brought to bear. In other words, to blame the drop in observable metrics as due to measurement error, you have to explain why we are so many times worse at finding people crossing the border today, despite significant increases in manpower and improvements in technology, than we were a decade ago.

    If it was just really hard to measure, then the numbers would bounce up and down with a large variance year-to-year. But in fact they went down every year since 2007.

    There is absolutely a problem. But not (IMO) any crisis.

    Comment by Dave — 1/14/2019 @ 10:06 pm

  25. That brings us back to my earlier comment 3. It probably isn’t a crisis where you live but it is where I live. It’s easy to believe there isn’t a problem if you can’t see it. That is why I think it is important that I actually live near a border without a wall. I see this every day.

    Right now, it is warm and sunny where I live but much of the nation is suffering from horrible cold and snow. Flights are cancelled, roads are impassable, and conditions are very difficult. It is a crisis for them but not for me. Does that mean I would be right in saying there is no crisis?

    We don’t know the exact numbers and probably never can, but let’s assume illegal immigration is down — even way down. We know we’ve had decades of illegal immigration and millions of illegal aliens are here, and more are still coming. It is a problem for border states. Think about it this way: We know we have a huge national debt that many of us view as a national crisis. If we never address our debt and only add a “little more” debt each year, does the problem go away? Is our debt no longer a crisis?

    Dave, you are interesting to talk to but I am tired of talking to people who call my ideas unserious just because they disagree with them. You could have asked me to explain my ideas in a better or different way, or you could have simply said you disagreed without calling my ideas uninformed and unserious.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/15/2019 @ 9:58 am

  26. Dave:

    For the southwest border, as figure 3 shows:

    “estimated total successful unlawful entries declined from 1.8 million to 168,000 between FY 2000 and FY 2016, a 91 percent decrease.”

    Table 3 at your link shows, if I read it correctly, estimates for ports of entry and it shows numbers are down from 2006-2016. But look at Tables 4 and 5a/5b, specifically numbers for the Big Bend and Del Rio TX sevtors. Numbers are doubled. The difference? Ports of entry are in towns and have sevurity, walls and barriers. Big Bend and Del Rio sectors are in remote areas of West Texas with no walls and minimal security.

    My feeling is illegal aliens are moving through areas with harsher conditions but less chance of detection. We don’t know how many have crossed but were never detected. We do know migrants are still dying in record numbers.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/15/2019 @ 1:34 pm

  27. Ok, I’m done here. I love Patterico but not his commenters.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/15/2019 @ 1:35 pm

  28. @ DRJ,

    Ok, I’m done here. I love Patterico but not his commenters.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/15/2019 @ 1:35pm

    I don’t understand the reason for this. Dave was called out for violating the rules re your comment. He offered a sincere apology, as well as offering an explanation for his how thinking process went and how he arrived at his conclusion. He also expressed his admiration for you. You followed up by taking the time to explain how he could have been both more respectful in his disagreement with you and your ideas on the issue. All of this in the midst of an interesting discussion about whether it’s even possible to know if the border situation is a real “crisis” if we can’t get accurate numbers. You are informed by living on or near the border, which is a needed perspective lost in all the media/politician narratives. The conversation was thoughtful and interesting. To me, this thread has been an overall positive. Yes, a misstep was made, but I don’t think it was mean-spirited. It was more short-sighted and clumsy. This wasn’t the sneering dismissivenss that both you and I have experienced, repeatedly, by Trump loyalists. This wasn’t a drive-by, knee-jerk smackdown that some commenters have been known to do when faced with criticism of the president. Even if it’s constructive and evidence-backed criticism. This is not that. So with all of that, I am confused by your need to follow it up with a backhanded insult to Patterico commenters. Because as a commenter here, I am now taking these jabs personally.

    Comment by Dana — 1/15/2019 @ 2:43 pm

  29. I’m glad you still have the energy to handle comments from the “nice” commenters (as opposed to the not-so-nice ones) who gratuitously call your ideas uninformed and unserious. I used to tolerate it but now I don’t.

    And now you decide that I am the offensive one here, not the other commenters. So be it.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/15/2019 @ 5:23 pm

  30. I am aghast that I’ve offended DRJ.

    I will try to explain a bit more why I reacted as I did when I misunderstood your statement that the numbers are “unknowable”.

    Trump plays the following game all the time:

    1) Someone asks him a question predicated on a factual basis something like “There is evidence of A.”

    2) Trump responds along the lines of, “But a lot of people say not A.” He never says who these people are, or offers any other specific evidence contrary to that previously offered.

    3) He treats the fact that somebody (allegedly) says A is not true as implying, well, it might be A or not A, so we can’t know anything one way or the other about A.

    Any amount of evidence can thus be gainsaid by a vague assertion that there are unidentified people who for unelaborated reasons disagree with it. Argument by obfuscation would be a good description of it.

    This is the type of argument I called “uninformed and unserious”. It appeared you were doing something similar by dismissing the quantitative research done by the Border Patrol out of hand on the basis that unnamed “other people” say the opposite.

    That type of bogus argument, I confess, irritates me greatly and I was too quick to criticize you and did so too harshly.

    Think about it this way: We know we have a huge national debt that many of us view as a national crisis. If we never address our debt and only add a “little more” debt each year, does the problem go away? Is our debt no longer a crisis?

    If the debt grows at a smaller rate than the economy, than yes, in a very real sense, the problem goes away and our debt is no longer a crisis.

    This raises a good point that proportion is important. People naturally focus on the most visible and dramatic examples. Dozens of people are murdered every day – the infamous Las Vegas mass shooting added about one day’s worth of homicides to the total – but due to its shocking nature received wildly disproportionate attention.

    Of course, any murder is a “crisis” for the victim and their loved ones, and any crime committed by an illegal immigrant is a crisis for the victim too. But if a problem is shrinking in size, both in relation to the recent past and the population as a whole, it seems questionable to call it a public policy crisis.

    Table 3 at your link shows, if I read it correctly, estimates for ports of entry and it shows numbers are down from 2006-2016. But look at Tables 4 and 5a/5b, specifically numbers for the Big Bend and Del Rio TX sevtors. Numbers are doubled. The difference? Ports of entry are in towns and have sevurity, walls and barriers. Big Bend and Del Rio sectors are in remote areas of West Texas with no walls and minimal security.

    All the tables refer to the same set of BP sectors as a whole. Table 5 is for unaccompanied children, and the absolute numbers are quite small. There is no increase in overall apprehensions apparent in Del Rio or Big Bend in Table 4, but you’re right about a large increase in the Rio Grande Valley sector, although this is not West Texas, but rather the area closest to the Gulf around Brownsville.

    The absolute numbers (Table 4) in the area around West Texas (El Paso, Big Bend and Del Rio) were 12% of the total in 2007, and 13% in 2016.

    Comment by Dave — 1/15/2019 @ 6:01 pm

  31. But if a problem is shrinking in size, both in relation to the recent past and the population as a whole, it seems questionable to call it a public policy crisis.

    There were 72,000 overdose deaths in 2017. All indications are that the problem is getting worse, but let’s say the statistics show “only” 60,000 in 2018. Under your logic, no crisis. Those in the towns ravaged by opioid abuse would likely disagree, even if your comfortable situation seems unaffected.

    Comment by Patterico — 1/16/2019 @ 7:23 am

  32. The point many keep missing is that every single negative externality caused by an illegal immigrant is one that we should not have to put up with, because the person should not be here to begin with.

    Comment by Patterico — 1/16/2019 @ 7:24 am

  33. I am not offended, just tired. Further, you are correct that there are not many arrests or apprehensions in the West Texas sectors compared to other areas. Maybe that is because there are few illegal migrants in those areas, or maybe it is because there are few resources available to detect and apprehend them and the cartels and more migrants are moving into these sectors. Given your statements, I assume you believe the former. I think it is the latter and some reports agree with me.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/16/2019 @ 6:21 pm

  34. If you think so little of my arguments that you tell me they are uninformed and unserious, how do you expect to have a respectful adult discussion with me? The obvious answer is that you have no interest in that, and that makes me very tired of even trying.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/16/2019 @ 6:32 pm

  35. If you think so little of my arguments that you tell me they are uninformed and unserious, how do you expect to have a respectful adult discussion with me? The obvious answer is that you have no interest in that, and that makes me very tired of even trying.

    I don’t know what more to say DRJ. I’ve said I’m sorry, and I’ve tried to explain how I misunderstood the argument I criticized. I’ve also promised to do my best not to repeat the mistake and expressed (and will reiterate) my fondness and respect for you.

    If you wish, I will refrain from responding to your comments in the future, to ensure I don’t inadvertently say something that makes you want to stop participating here at Patrick’s site again.

    Comment by Dave — 1/16/2019 @ 8:12 pm

  36. The point of discussion is to discuss things so you should speak your mind. My problem is that things like this happen more and it often seems like the undertone in the conversation is sometimes “I think you are an idiot.” Maybe I feel this way because I’m getting older but I don’t think so. I think times have changed and I can either join in or step aside. It’s just hard for me to step aside from a place and people I cared for.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/16/2019 @ 9:07 pm

  37. There were 72,000 overdose deaths in 2017. All indications are that the problem is getting worse, but let’s say the statistics show “only” 60,000 in 2018. Under your logic, no crisis. Those in the towns ravaged by opioid abuse would likely disagree, even if your comfortable situation seems unaffected.

    That’s a good point, and my hastily-composed “when is it no longer a crisis” criterion is too lax. But I think the situations are quantitatively pretty different (I am not very well acquainted with the statistics or history of the opioid crisis, although my cousin, and a couple years ago her son, died of heroin overdoses).

    One swallow does not make a summer, but if opioid deaths had fallen significantly over more than a decade, and were down to say 10-20% of their peak, then one might reasonably argue the crisis was over (but there is still, of course, a problem that shouldn’t be ignored).

    AIDS might be a better analogy. Almost 39,000 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2017 and over a million Americans are living with the disease. In the US, at least, we are past the crisis stage but doctors continue to treat people with the disease, try to prevent it from spreading, and look for improved treatments.

    The point many keep missing is that every single negative externality caused by an illegal immigrant is one that we should not have to put up with, because the person should not be here to begin with.

    As far as I’m concerned, the question is not between “put up with” or “not put up with”. Like most problems, there are a range of responses possible, ranging from wholly inadequate to complete overkill.

    No plausible course of action will eliminate illegal immigration completely, so there is a trade-off between what sacrifices we are willing to make and how much residual illegal immigration we are willing to tolerate. The fact is we have had considerable success over the last decade.

    There are absolutely legitimate concerns about illegal immigration. I share them. I personally think everyone in the country illegally who comes into contact with the authorities for any reason should be swiftly and humanely deported (a legislative exception for the DACA people wouldn’t be the end of the world, but I think it sets a bad precedent and incentivizes behavior we don’t want). I would also support a 100% surtax on income earned without proper legal status. Finally, I think we need a guest worker program because unfilled demand for labor creates a magnet for people to fill it, and it is better for that to happen through legal avenues.

    But what I see is hysteria being whipped up and exploited by a corrupt politician and his followers, playing on and manipulating good peoples’ reasonable concerns for their own nefarious purposes.

    Comment by Dave — 1/16/2019 @ 9:07 pm

  38. Dave, normally I would drop this because I don’t want to say something hurtful or to pile on after your gracious apologies. Statistics are important discussion points and I agree they are important. I have tried to address them in my comments and links.

    But you seem to be the one who is using Trump tactics to discredit people who disagree with you or have raised concerns. You are the one who tried to discredit me by comparing my arguments to Trump arguments, by describing them in derogatory terms as uninformed and unserious, and by seeming to criticize people who disagree with you on this topic as guided by emotional populist hysteria.

    The topic interests me or I wouldn’t bother discussing it. I have been thinking about your points and whether problems in Texas/border states matter if other states don’t care. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe local problems should be local problems, and it is foolish to care about California’s fiscal policies or the crime problems in cities like Detroit and Chicago. We could have talked about that.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/16/2019 @ 9:40 pm

  39. You are the one who tried to discredit me by comparing my arguments to Trump arguments, by describing them in derogatory terms as uninformed and unserious

    DRJ, this is what I criticized, in its entirety:

    I don’t think anyone knows how many there are in the US, and the numbers can be interpreted to show almost anything. Want to show a lot of illegal immigrants in the US? You can do that. Want to show they all went back to Mexico? You can do that, too. The real numbers are, IMO, unknowable.

    It’s not “arguments” (plural), and there is no “them”; it is one particular argument about a very specific question: how much can we know about immigration from statistical data compiled by the Border Patrol?

    If we are going to continue to discuss this (which is entirely up to you – I am happy to continue or to drop it), I’d prefer to focus what was actually said, and about what, rather than generalities.

    As I explained, your answer – based on my understanding of the word ‘unknowable’ – appeared to be: nothing. That impression was reinforced by the accompanying claim “the numbers can be interpreted to show almost anything”.

    It has nothing to do with you personally – I would challenge anyone who made such an argument, whether a student, a Nobelist, my Dean, or whoever (if you had pointed to one or more specific flaws in the study to justify dismissing it, that would be entirely different of course).

    I was wrong to do so in a way that communicated disrespect for you, which I did not intend.

    Comment by Dave — 1/16/2019 @ 11:53 pm

  40. Links to a couple other interesting related studies have been posted on the main blog.

    This one finds that the illegal immigrant population is the lowest in a decade:

    http://www.pewhispanic.org/2018/11/27/u-s-unauthorized-immigrant-total-dips-to-lowest-level-in-a-decade/

    And this one says that the total number of illegal immigrants is about double the widely accepted number (they show the same trends over time, but find that the number has always been a lot higher than generally estimated):

    https://insights.som.yale.edu/insights/yale-study-finds-twice-as-many-undocumented-immigrants-as-previous-estimates

    Comment by Dave — 1/17/2019 @ 12:39 am

  41. It’s not “arguments” (plural), and there is no “them”; it is one particular argument about a very specific question: how much can we know about immigration from statistical data compiled by the Border Patrol

    If the only question you want to discuss is what do those statistics teach us and if we have to treat those statistics as authoritative, complete, and reliable … then you are right and I am wrong. Border security is no longer an issue and we don’t have a significant problem with illegal immigrants. I guess we also don’t care if there are 11 million or 22 million of them already here.

    But the Border Patrol statistics primarily deal with data from ports of entry, not the vast areas of the Texas border that have few resources and no wall, fencing, or similar security. We don’t have reliable statistics for those areas because we don’t know what is happening there. Further, we cannot reliably extrapolate what is happening in insecure border areas like West Texas based on statistics of what is happening in areas with enhanced security.

    You obviously don’t trust me, even though I live here, so I provided a link to an LA Times’ report that there is evidence of many migrants and smugglers in West Texas — where there are few goverment resources to interdict migrants let alone count them. We don’t know the numbers here because there are very few ways to count migrants on the Texas border, let alone catch them.. We can count them at controlled ports of entry and with apprehensions/deportations, but not as much in many areas on the Texas border such as West Texas.

    But let’s assume the government report is accurate for the entire border. What does it actually teach us? One lesson is that migrants decide when they want to come. Another lesson is that in the ports of entry where the government has put enhanced border security measures into place — walls/fencing, personnel, technology — security works. So shouldn’t we make sure the same things are done on the rest of the border, especially in West Texas where the drugs and migrants are now?

    Comment by DRJ — 1/17/2019 @ 7:45 am

  42. I provided a link to the Yale/MIT study 4 days ago in my comment 17.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/17/2019 @ 7:55 am

  43. I guess we also don’t care if there are 11 million or 22 million of them already here.

    But a wall does nothing about the millions already here. In discussing the wall, it seems to me that is important is how many are getting past our current enforcement.

    But the Border Patrol statistics primarily deal with data from ports of entry, not the vast areas of the Texas border that have few resources and no wall, fencing, or similar security. We don’t have reliable statistics for those areas because we don’t know what is happening there. Further, we cannot reliably extrapolate what is happening in insecure border areas like West Texas based on statistics of what is happening in areas with enhanced security.

    This seems like a misinterpretation of the data to me. The Border Patrol statistics we have been discussing (in tables 3 & 4, for instance, and the figures in the same sections) are for the entire border, broken down into sectors. Data on Ports of Entry begins with Table 10.

    The Border Patrol patrols the entire border, but they (reasonably) put the most resources where there are the most attempted crossings. The more remote areas, like Big Bend, have far fewer attempted crossings. The LA Times article cites an increase in the Big Bend sector, but it is an increase in the sector with (by far) the lowest level of activity. As Table 3 shows, the BP is less effective there (70% effectiveness in 2016, down from 77% in 2015, as compared to closer to 90% in more accessible areas). But even if they were 100% effective in Big Bend, it would only stop a few thousand more people per year. This is why other sectors have a higher allocation of resources, and why the effectiveness here is lowest.

    Journalists look for “man bites dog” stories that will attract attention – hence this story is about a sector where the number of crossings is increasing while it is decreasing in most other places. But the sector has about *30 times* fewer crossings than the most active sector and represents something like 2% of the total illegal entries for the entire border.

    That doesn’t mean we should ignore it, of course, but we should keep it in perspective.

    Comment by Dave — 1/17/2019 @ 9:26 am

  44. …that *what is important…

    Comment by Dave — 1/17/2019 @ 9:32 am

  45. But let’s assume the government report is accurate for the entire border. What does it actually teach us? One lesson is that migrants decide when they want to come. Another lesson is that in the ports of entry where the government has put enhanced border security measures into place — walls/fencing, personnel, technology — security works. So shouldn’t we make sure the same things are done on the rest of the border, especially in West Texas where the drugs and migrants are now?

    I think the report supports quite different conclusions.

    Tightening security near populated and accessible areas is effective, and very few of the would-be immigrants turned back or deterred from those areas go to the most remote and dangerous areas.

    As the LA Times article notes, the Big Bend sector is 1/4 of the entire border. Due to its remoteness, the costs of building a wall here would presumably be the highest per mile. And the benefit of building a wall here would be the smallest per mile (only about 2% of the crossings occur in this 25% of the border) and (by far) the smallest in terms of crossings prevented per dollar spent. For the cost of building a 500 mile(!) wall here, we would (best case) increase the enforcement effectiveness from ~70% to 100% and stop a few thousand more attempted crossings per year.

    Comment by Dave — 1/17/2019 @ 9:48 am

  46. But a wall does nothing about the millions already here. 

    That may be true in most states but not Texas. The border is very porous because migrants (legal and illegal) go back and forth to visit, trade, and work. It’s why many Texans don’t want a wall. Mexico is a big part of our culture from El Paso to Brownsville.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/17/2019 @ 10:48 am

  47. I’m curious, Dave, if your devotion to the concept of diminishing marginal utility in relation to national security has limits?

    Obviously we can’t protect against all risks but what other places are you willing to sacrifice safety because it is expensive? Alaska, Hawaii, maybe Nebraska or Idaho?

    Comment by DRJ — 1/19/2019 @ 2:01 pm

  48. very few of the would-be immigrants turned back or deterred from those areas go to the most remote and dangerous areas.

    I’m also curious about your base for this assertion. These immigrants have left their homes and traveled hundreds or thousands of miles in difficult circumstances to try to enter the US illegally. Why do you think most of the people who have done this will give up at the idea of going into remote areas of Texas?

    Comment by DRJ — 1/19/2019 @ 2:59 pm

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