Just three days before the deadline to avert a government shutdown, Donald Trump blinked April 25, backing off from the demand that his planned border wall receive funding (to the whopping tune of $11.4 billion) in the spending measure now before Congress.
But just two days earlier, in an interview with the Associated Press, Trump again invoked the need to protect the country from drugs as mandating his wall—and making absurdly hubristic claims about its effectiveness to do so…
Pressed by AP as to what the total price for his wall would be, the prez responded (none too coherently):
“Oh, I’m seeing numbers—$24 billion, I think I’ll do it for $10 billion or less. That’s not a lot of money relative to what we’re talking about. If we stop one percent of the drugs from coming in—and we’ll stop all of it. But if we stop one percent of the drugs because we have the wall—they’re coming around in certain areas, but if you have a wall, they can’t do it because it’s a real wall. That’s a tremendously good investment, one percent. The drugs pouring through on the southern border are unbelievable. We’re becoming a drug culture, there’s so much. And most of it’s coming from the southern border. The wall will stop the drugs.”
But garbled syntax and poor logic aside, did you catch those lines “we’ll stop all of it” and “The wall will stop the drugs”?
Dogged by AP to come up with an actual figure, he fell back on this claim yet a third time:
“I don’t want to comment. I just don’t know yet. I mean, I have to see what’s going on. I really do. But the wall’s a very important thing to—not only my base, but to the people. And even if it wasn’t, I mean I’ll do things that aren’t necessarily popular… The wall is very important to stopping drugs.”
The libertarian publication Reason rose to the occasion of forthrightly calling out this nonsense.
Theresa Cardinal Brown (herself a former advisor to Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection) explained, “drug smugglers have already beaten Trump’s wall” through an endless variety of evasive maneuvers, such as hiding contraband inside legal shipments, using tunnels to go under the wall that already exists along much of the border, catapulting drugs over the wall and using motorboats and even submarines.
Thanks to prohibition, Brown writes, “the profit incentives to find ways over, under, around, or through any border infrastructure are high, and the cartels have more than enough money to spend on R&D.”
Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, is also among those who challenged Trump on this: “If, God help us, you’re running for president four years from now, and the wall has not stopped all the drugs, can I then come around and say, ‘Hey, you told us the wall will stop the drugs’?”
If the damn thing actually gets built, let’s not let this little bit of empty bluster go down the Orwellian Memory Hole.
But calling out the propaganda now is the best bet for stopping it.
And it isn’t just Trump. Ann Coulter similarly raised the specter of the drug menace in her openly xenophobic Breitbart screed in support of Trump’s wall:
“The government’s No. 1 job is to protect the nation. This has always been true, but it’s especially important at this moment in history, when we have drugs, gang members, diseases and terrorists pouring across our border. The failure of the government to close our border is the definition of a government shutdown.”
The terrorists are a mere hallucination. There has been endless speculation about collaboration between Middle Eastern terrorists and Latin American drug cartels to infiltrate the U.S. homeland—but very little actual evidence. Undocumented (“illegal”) immigration into the U.S. is actually at a 20-year low.
And as for the drugs… the notion that Trump will succeed where every president has failed since Richard Nixon first launched the War on Drugs is laughable.
All future generations will get is a big fat bill for what could be the most massive boondoggle in American history. We are in a race between alternative futures: a dystopic USA behind policed walls, or a de-escalation of the drug war that will allow us to undercut the cartels and peddlers of addictive white powders by growing domestic cannabis.