TUCSON, Arizona - When Ronald Reagan declaimed, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” a sardonic addendum came to mind: “We need it in Arizona.” Even back then, too many Americans believed that some physical barrier could actually keep them safe in an unruly world.
And now today Donald Trump, committed to a monumental erection to satisfy his base and his own vanity, threatens to seal the entire southern border. That would shut Americans in, evoking the Berlin Wall that choked off a paranoid despotic state.
True, migrants can slip through barbed wire along some remote desert stretches south of here, unless bandits get to them first. But even if those green border patrol SUVs bristling with gun barrels don't swoop down, survival odds amount to a snowball's chance in a sauna.
Only the poorest, eager to work menial jobs and avoid trouble, come in the hard way. Drug smugglers tunnel under or fly over sturdy fences already in place. Mostly, those “bad hombres” Trump reviles fake papers or sneak past ports of entry in trucks and freight trains.
In fact, more Mexicans have returned home than have come north since 2010. Now Central Americans, driven by crop failure or violence, besiege the border. Trump's answer is to stop the economic aid they need to stay home and to embrace regimes they fear.
This standoff reflects a global threat second only to rising temperatures. Scores of millions are fleeing poverty or war. Europe has taken in many, but hard-right movements refuse more. As the climate worsens, human tides will swell, increasingly desperate and embittered.
Rebuffed people in dire straits are easy prey for extremist recruiters. But Trump, taking sensible pushback as a personal affront, paralyzes America's own government in the delusion that he is protecting the country from terrorism that his policies feed.Read More