Opinion

The Press Doesn’t Understand Negotiations or the Issues Along the Southern Border

This last Friday we heard about the meeting President Donald Trump had with Congressional leaders about the government shutdown and funding for the southern border barrier. It was interesting to listen to the different characterizations of the meeting depending on who was commenting. When the Democrats came to the podium, they said the meeting was contentious. Nancy Pelosi would not even characterize the meeting as making any progress. The Democrat position is to have the president and the Republican Party fold on their position and adopt the Democrat proposal of funding the government and talking about (delaying) the discussion on the border barrier funding.

Then the president as well as others in the two-hour-long meeting came to the podium and responded to a gaggle of reporters until there were no more questions. The meeting they described was wholly different from the one the Democrats characterized. The president said the meeting at times was contentious and tough, but progress was made, and more negotiations between a select Republican staff and the Democrats would be conducted over the weekend.

A question was asked by one of the journalists covering the meeting to verify if the president had said he was prepared to keep the government shutdown in place for months or maybe even years. In true Trump fashion, he said he did say that, absolutely. At that point, the press grabbed the comment and ran with it.

The Press Gets it Wrong

Every news outlet focused on the narrative that the Democrats had offered to open the government, and the president had not only refused but was going to keep it closed for years. That is a silly view of what the president said.

There was a question about the wall and why a wall. The president explained it was a barrier. Call it a wall, a steel fence, or whatever, the southern border needed to be secured. Border Patrol officials in attendance also answered questions and acknowledged that every place a barrier had been constructed the illegal immigration virtually ceased.

Next, the new item that gave the press even more angina was the president’s comment that if he had to, he could declare an emergency and just build the barrier without the Congress. He said he would rather not do it that way, but he could. Then he quipped, “Maybe I will do that.”

So What Really Happened Here?

Trump is negotiating. He signaled he would be standing firm on the funding for the border. The government remaining closed for months or years is clearly not going to happen, but it is classic Trump to set a hard position and openly say to the other side, this is the point that I will stand on.

He reiterated the point by mentioning that, if he had to, he could build the barrier without the Congress. This is nothing but another signal that the border barrier is going to happen and there is nothing the Democrats can do to stop it.

This is how President Trump negotiates. He is hard, brash, and pushes to the edge, almost always getting what was needed in the deal. The Democrats have not learned this yet and are blindsided continuously by the tactic. They revert to blame politics that, in two years, when the next election rolls around, no one will care about or remember.

(Credit: Flickr)

The Democrats are trying to say that President Trump is unreasonable and all he has to do is agree with them, and then they can “talk.” That is not the way to seal a deal. The Republicans and President Trump have made this the “hill to die on.” They cannot back away from this position nor should they.

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, who both have voted and stated that the southern border needs to be secured, are standing as clear obstructionists and only taking this position because of their open opposition to anything the Trump administration proposes.

A Case for a National Security Crisis

It is also very interesting that in an interview with General Jack Keane (U.S. Army-Ret.), he was asked if the president had the authority to declare a national emergency and use the military to fund and build the barrier. He said that the $5.3 billion that was needed was on the margins of the defense budget and would be easy to find. He also said it is clear that there is a national security crisis on the southern border.

Currently, according to several reports, 2,000 people a day try to enter the U.S. illegally through the southern border. This last year, authorities apprehended another 17,000 who have previous criminal records. Moreover, in that batch, 3,000 suspected terrorists have also been prevented from entering the southern border with Mexico.

Add to this the statistics of the drug crisis. Approximately 72,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in 2017, with 90 percent of those illicit drugs ending up in the U.S. via the southern border. National security crisis? You bet there is.

The Democrats have a fragile position to stand on. The leaders of the Democratic Party have repeatedly voted for border fences and barriers. Even then-Senator Barack Obama voted for the southern border to be reinforced; Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer also concurred. Their opposition is partisan, counter to the safety of the American people, the Border Patrol, and our nation.

April 10, 2018: A Texas Guardsmen and a Customs and Border Patrol agent discuss the lay of the land on the shores of the Rio Grande River in Starr County, Texas as part of the federal call-up to the Texas Mexico border. Soldiers called to duty at the border support federal partners and primarily serve in observe-and-report roles. (Credit: defense.gov)

The hardworking men and women of the Border Patrol say the barrier works. It is needed to stem the flow of illegal immigration and to provide safety for the U.S. as well as their personnel. The military currently augmenting border personnel say the barrier is needed. There is a reason walls are constructed around military bases. It is because they work and keep everyone safe. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and the people living along the border whose land is co-opted by drug traffickers, human smugglers, and worse, say they need it.

Only the Democrats don’t seem to understand that placing a barrier along the southern border in strategic locations will ensure the safety of both the U.S. and stop the flow of illegal immigrants. Those people traversing the dangerous route between the countries where people are coming from and traveling through Mexico place themselves and their children in harm’s way. Only the Democrats can’t seem to understand that having a southern border barrier will force the immigrants to enter through official ports of entry, and will set them on a path to legal immigration, and eventually citizenship.

My ranch is 75 miles from the southern border with Mexico. I know that the people in my community have a much better understanding of what is needed over the new Speaker of the House from California that has been living off the public dole for over 40 years.

My career in Texas was law enforcement, and much of that dealt with drug interdiction. I never once found drugs that were coming from, say, Kansas or Oklahoma. They were coming from Mexico. I personally stopped travelers on Interstate 10 in Texas with people in the car that had illegally entered the country through Mexico, and these were not Hispanics. These people were from Yemen, Nigeria, Iran, and Syria. The belief that the only people coming across the southern border are just downtrodden refugees fleeing a repressive life in Mexico or other South and Central American countries is wrong.

The southern border is a weak point; just like flowing water, the illegal immigration and illegal entry into the U.S. will gravitate to the point to least resistance. That is what is happening today, every day along the southern border. It is past time to plug that flow, build barriers, and channel the flow of immigration into legal avenues where those who have a valid claim can find their way to citizenship. Allowing unfettered illegal immigration is a recipe for disaster on all sides. Open borders help no one.

As far as the Democrats are concerned, this standstill in negotiations is ideological. That is not a logical argument. They are opposed to any and everything President Trump is proposing, and they are willing to sacrifice the U.S. safety as well as the safety of the public to make their point.

President Trump should stand firm on his demand. If the Democrats do not negotiate in good faith, then declare a national emergency that so plainly now exists and build the barrier. Once partisanship and political bickering is put aside, it is hard to support a position that does not acknowledge what we know needs to be done. Build the wall.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Jon Harris

Jon Harris is a former Army NCO, Sergeant Morales Club member, civilian law enforcement officer, and defense contractor with over 30 years in the law enforcement community. He is published in Army Trainer Magazine, authored regular columns in several newspapers, and is the author of the Cold War novel Breakpoint. His adventures as a security contractor in Afghanistan and Iraq can be found on www.dispatchfromdownrange.com. He holds a B.S. in Government and Politics and an M.S. in Criminal Justice and is currently completing his Juris Doctor degree.

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