These days, it seems as if it happened in another world. I’m thinking of that June afternoon in 2015 when The Donald rode a Trump Tower escalator down to waiting reporters (and a cheering crowd of — yes! — actors he had hired at $50 a pop) to announce that he was going to run for president. In that speech, he took the crowd and those reporters with him on a quick trip, however metaphoric, southwest, swearing he would build a “great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall.” Why? Because, of course, Mexico was sending its worst people northwards. “They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
But count on one thing, the man who only recently was convicted of… well, not quite raping but “sexually abusing” E. Jean Carroll… sure didn’t think many of them were “good people” like him, nor does he now. Admittedly, he neither successfully built much of that “big, beautiful wall” of his, nor managed to make Mexico pay for any of the wildly expensive parts he did get constructed (47 new miles, the rest replacing fencing already there). And yet, almost eight years later, without an escalator in sight, in some fashion he’s still on that border. Only recently, for instance, the former president running for the Republican nomination in 2024 swore that when he returned to the White House, he would quickly issue an executive order ensuring that the children of undocumented immigrants “will not receive automatic U.S. citizenship”; in other words, he would end the “birthright citizenship” guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, something he had promised to do in 2015 and again as president.
And of course, with the race for that nomination heating up, in mid-May, Ron DeSantis tried to out-Trump Trump by dispatching 800 members of the Florida National Guard, 200 agents from the state Department of Law Enforcement, 101 state highway patrol troopers, 20 agents from the State Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Department of Emergency Management, 5 fixed-wing aircraft, 17 unmanned drones, and 10 boats to… yes, you guessed it, Texas’s border with Mexico — for, well… at least 30 days as the Trump/covid era Title 42 border expulsion policy finally ended.
What you wouldn’t know, however, unless you were reading the work of TomDispatch regular and border expert Todd Miller, was that, while the Republicans made (mostly fake) border policy their pride, joy, and nightmare first class, what he calls the border-industrial complex has been making a fortune off American taxpayers by fortifying that border in ways that fit not Trump’s wall-eyed vision of prevention, but one more in keeping with our increasingly AI-ed world. Let me not tell you more though, just suggest you get on the nearest escalator and head down this page to Miller’s latest border foray to see for yourself. Tom
The Real Border Surge
The End of Title 42 and the Triumph of the Border-Industrial Complex
On May 11th, I was with a group of people at the bottom of the Paso del Norte bridge in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Suddenly, I realized that I didn’t have the small change needed to cross the bridge and return to El Paso, Texas, where I was attending the 16th annual Border Security Expo. Worse yet, this was just three hours before Title 42, the pandemic-era rapid-expulsion border policy instituted by the Trump administration, was set to expire. The media was already in overdrive on the subject, producing apocalyptic scenarios like one in the New York Post reporting that "hordes" of “illegals” were on their way toward the border.
While I searched for those coins, a woman approached me, dug 35 cents out of a small purse -- precisely what it cost! -- and handed the change to me. She then did so for the others in our group. When I pulled a 20-peso bill from my wallet to repay her, she kept her fist clenched and wouldn't accept the money.Read More