Diagnosis for Democracy
Insights into the State of Our Union
A Blog by Rob Tenery, MD


July 10, 2014: Houston: We Have Had a Problem!

By Rob Tenery, MD on July 10, 2014

The Russians are intruding into the Ukraine. The radical Sunni insurgents from Syria and Iraq are forming a caliphate. The injustices of Veterans Administration are just now being addressed. The political subterfuge by the Internal Revenue Service may never be fully known because of the apparent loss of Lois Lerner’s emails. All these problems potentially affect the path this country follows in the future. However, collectively, these untoward events don’t compare to the potential problems that are streaming across our southern border. Unchecked, this deluge of illegals is turning into an invasion, rather than a humanitarian crisis as described by our administration in Washington, DC.1

The players in this battle are the Mexican drug cartels, the gangs and even potential terrorists on one side. Trying to fend off this onslaught, on the U.S. side, are the outnumbered U.S. border patrol agents and the citizens of the border communities whose resources, agencies and health care facilities are being overrun. Surprisingly, it’s been difficult to determine Homeland Security’s position, except as a facilitator for the Obama administration. On the sidelines are the President and the Congress, who are apparently not willing or able to enforce current immigration laws or pass legislation that could resolve this critical situation. The pawns that are being used to wage this war are the children from third world countries to our south, who want nothing more than to grow up in an environment that is not corrupted by violence.

For the most part, this problem is by our own doing. Money has been allocated to build a fence between the United States and Mexico. For a myriad of excuses, from outright dereliction by our current and several recent past Presidents and our Congressional representatives, to political posturing, only 685 miles of this 1954-mile border has been completed. Much of the this so-called ‘fenced’ border consists of barbed-wire, vehicle barriers and inadequate materials that provide only minimal impediment for those who want to enter this country. Properly constructed fencing does work. Israel has proven that a security fence has decreased terrorist intrusions across the Gaza Strip by over 95 percent.

A decade ago, Nobel prize-winning economist Milton Friedman warned, "It's obvious you can't have free immigration and a welfare state."

In 2007, senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, Robert Rector, published a further explanation that Friedman's comment should be viewed as applying not merely to means-tested welfare programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, and public housing, but to the entire redistributive transfer state. “In the transfer state,” he writes, “government taxes the upper middle class and shifts some $1.5 trillion in economic resources to lower-income groups through a vast variety benefits and subsidies.”

Rector goes on to explain that the transfer state redistributes funds from those with high-skill and high-income levels to those with lower skill levels. Low-skill immigrants become natural recipients in this process. Appearing to agree is Julian Simon, the godfather of open-border advocates, who acknowledged that imposing such a burden on taxpayers was unreasonable, stating, "immigrants who would be a direct economic burden upon citizens through the public coffers should have no claim to be admitted into the nation.”

Getting to the crux of the matter, Rector points out that “elections in modern societies are, to a considerable degree, referenda on the magnitude of future income redistribution. An immigration policy which grants citizenship to vast numbers of low-skill, low-income immigrants not only creates new beneficiaries for government transfers, but new voters likely to support even greater transfers in the future.

The granting of citizenship is a transfer of political power. Access to the U.S. ballot box also provides access to the American taxpayer's bank account. This is particularly problematic with regard to low-skill immigrants. Within an active redistributionist state, as Friedman understood, unlimited immigration can threaten limited government.”2

Looking at the pictures of the thousands of unaccompanied minors crowded into temporary shelters until their fate can be determined, I am reminded of the very effective ads put out by the ASPCA depicting abandoned animals whose only hope is being adopted by a loving owner. The desperate situation and gut wrenching stories of these displaced children tug at our heartstrings.  Looking for new opportunities and unrestrained freedoms, brave souls, not unlike these children, built this country. So why the concerns over the virtual flood of new individuals who want those same freedoms and opportunities? The simple answer centers around affordability and available resources. This country has finally come to realize that we can no longer be the world’s policeman. Now, the social issue that is dividing this nation is this country’s continuing role as a safe haven.

The consensus opinion from Washington feel the nidus for this huge influx arose when President Obama issued an executive order on June 15, 2012, creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.3 There are those who feel he was chiding Congress for not passing the controversial DREAM Act.

Apparently, by the time the news of President Obama’s DACA program filtered down to South America, the message took a different twist. Instead of those who were already in this country, Obama’s mandate appeared imply that once minors were able to gain entry to this country by any means available, it was likely that they would be allowed to remain for some indeterminate time. Until the recent uproar, it seems the administration made no or very little attempt to clarify this misunderstanding. Since many of these minors arrive with no papers, it will be up to the immigration courts to determine their eligibility. Additionally, while they are waiting for their court date, they are being placed with relatives, at the government’s expense. It is estimated that between 75-95% of these children fail to show up for their court date and disappear into the existing Hispanic community.

Not everyone agrees with the explanation put out the Obama administration!

“This is not a humanitarian crisis. It is a predictable, orchestrated and contrived assault on the compassionate side of Americans by her political leaders that knowingly puts minor illegal alien children at risk for purely political purposes,” is a quote in a press release by the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers. Representatives of this same organization went on to claim, “certainly, we are not gullible enough to believe that thousands of unaccompanied minor Central American children came to America without the encouragement, aid and assistance of the United States government.”

Although the effects of the onslaught of unaccompanied minors are rippling across the country, two states in particular are shouldering the brunt of the exodus--- Texas and Arizona. On March 7, 2014, Texas Governor Rick Perry said, “We either have an incredibly inept administration, or they're in on it, somehow or another. I hate to be conspiratorial, but how do you move that many people from Central America across Mexico and then into the United States without they’re being a fairly coordinated effort?" He went on to add that his state has already used $500 million of Texas taxpayers' dollars to assist with the influx of illegal immigrants.

Controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, already a high-profile critic of the current federal immigration policy, said, “I got my own theory… I think the White House sometimes is incompetent, but I can’t imagine them doing this (transporting many of the unaccompanied minors from Texas to Arizona) without realizing that there was going to be controversy.” He went on to criticize the way the media and some of our elected representatives have been given only limited access to the refugee camps that are springing up to house the children. “Why are they hiding these kids from the media? … Well, I think I have a theory here. I don’t think they’re all young kids. I would bet there are 16-, 17-year-olds. How do we know they’re not members of a gang coming across?”

“It’s time for the U.S. to get serious about immigration,” quoted Zack Taylor, Chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers. “We can start by taking away their incentives to be here. All benefits: medical, food stamps, public housing, education, everything… Our government is encouraging foreign nationals to come into our country illegally and stay.”

Recalling his recent experience standing on the banks of the Rio Grande River and witnessing small pontoon boats ferrying load after load of illegals across to the U.S. side of the border, independent filmmaker, Dennis Michael Lynch said, “I just watched our country and the future of our own children officially fall off the cliff, and I don’t know what to do...”

Maybe, the answer to Lynch’s plea of frustration was uttered 44 years ago. Struggling to maintain his composure in the cramped Lunar Module, Apollo 13 Commander James Lovell put out a call for help to the Houston Space Command Center after an explosion crippled his spacecraft.  Although his message, was brief and to the point, it reflected the dire circumstances the Commander and his crew faced if they had any hope of coming back alive. Lovell’s message of controlled desperation endures: “Houston, we have had a problem.”

We can only hope our President and the members of Congress are listening!


 References:



  1. A humanitarian crisis is defined as a singular event or a series of events that are threatening in terms of health, safety or well being of a community or large group of people. Then doesn’t this same definition also apply to the citizens and support systems (law enforcement, health care facilities, welfare agencies, schools, etc.) in those communities where this flood of illegals is occurring? Also shouldn’t the elected officials of these communities have a say in the disposition of these individuals who have entered our country illegally?

  2. Rector, Robert, Look to Milton: Open Borders and the Welfare State, The Heritage Foundation, June 21, 2007.

  3. To be eligible for DACA, the individuals had to be born on or after June 16, 1981, have come to the U.S. before their sixteenth birthday, lived continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 and been present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and on every day since August 15, 2012. Those that qualify are eligible to file for a work authorization permit, obtain a social security number or tax ID number and are protected from deportation for two years. There is the stipulation that the status has to be renewed every two years.





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