This article was originally published by watchdog.org.
In his novel “The Tortilla Curtain,” T.C. Boyle writes about a coyote that prowls the border between nature and the outer suburbs, sneaking into back yards to snack on pets.
If you know the geography of Southern California, where the wealthy are forever building neighborhoods farther up into the canyons, it’s easy to picture the image of modern America, surrounded on all sides by reality.
On one side of the back yard fence, order imposed. On the other, natural forces like fire and hunger that don’t respect fences and rules.
I’m reminded of that coyote whenever the subject of a fence with Mexico comes up. I shrug and think, “Sure, you might keep a few coyotes out of your back yard, but what about your neighbor’s yard? And what are you going to do when they get really hungry?”
Sen. Ted Cruz has been saying his colleagues’ plans for a fence aren’t going to work, and PolitiFact said last month that Cruz was “Mostly False” in saying so.
Like many conservatives, Cruz objects to the discretion that the executive branch would get in executing the Senate bill, and wanted more mandates in it.
He simply doesn’t trust the Obama administration to carry it out. You figure: if Obama is delaying the implementation of Obamacare, and that’s a program he likes, what would stop him from dragging his feet on a construction project he loathes?
Cruz said that Republicans who support the bill “very much want a fig leaf. They want something that that they can claim we are supporting border security when in fact this bill does not.”
The border security requirements in the bill are so weak, Cruz said, that they were “designed never to come into being.”
So, it’s his opinion that his colleagues are being disingenuous. Yet PolitiFact treats speculation about motive as a factual question to be checked.
The fact-checkers dismissed Cruz’s opinion, on the grounds that the “Senate measure also appropriates more than $46 billion for border security and makes that money available immediately. So Cruz is wrong to say the security measures are designed ‘never to come into being.’”
I would love to side with PolitiFact on this issue. Aside from a handful of good points Cruz makes, I utterly disagree with his views on immigration.
I love freedom in general — government-created barriers, restrictions and quotas don’t magically improve anybody’s welfare.
And I love open borders in particular. I spent years taking advantage of my U.S. passport, and the experience cured me of any notion that immigration controls serve a useful purpose.
If you dig through all the bureaucracy they involve, you’ll only find more bureaucracy. There are stacks of paperwork to be filled out and endless delays, all to conclude nothing much: this is indeed a person, and he’ll be living here for a while.
I think the idea of complete immigration control is a dangerous joke told by suburbanites oblivious to the vast power of the history-shaping forces underlying migration. Octavio Paz once said that Americans would rather judge history than understand it. He’s confirmed every time somebody asks, “What part of illegal don’t you understand?”
If Americans understood the scale of the issue, the conversation in Washington would sound nothing like the debate of the last two months. They’d be talking about eliminating tourism, for starters. Then building a totalitarian government capable of keeping tabs on everyone, with such a tight grip on every aspect of daily life that nobody could live outside its system.
Cruz may declaim that “my amendment would require that the problem be actually solved,” but he doesn’t have that kind of power.
He demands more E-Verify and fingerprints on visas and 700 miles of double fencing, and insists that anything less is just “something meant to tell gullible constituents that we’ve done something.”
Sure, 700 miles of fencing is a deterrent. The 450-mile Maginot Line was a deterrent, too. The Nazis had to take a detour through Belgium.
If you want to sneak into the United States, you can look for an opening somewhere along the 7,458 miles of terrestrial borders and 12,383 miles of coastline. Or just take a plane on a tourist visa. Or a dig a tunnel. The country is enormous and wide-open, and nobody can change that.
The government can fight illegal immigration by making the task too expensive for lots of people to even try.
But the idea of complete control is a loathsome joke. Plenty of senators think that way, so they don’t make that fantasy a condition for anyone to get residency, although they can’t say as much publicly.
So Cruz’s argument is reasonable. But you could level the same criticism at him. His plans won’t produce immigration control either. They’re “designed” to fit along the far edge of the present debate, and of course, appeal to his base.
Cruz was right about gullible constituents, too.
The whole debate is a game of three-card monte. PolitiFact’s just the sucker confidently pointing at the money card.
Postscript: If you’ve been following this series, that makes Cruz: 12, PolitiFact: 1, with one disqualification when both sides were wrong.
Contact Jon Cassidy at firstname.lastname@example.org or @jpcassidy000.