• Do We have A Border?

    October 7, 2023
    Robert Frost, Public Domain.

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    Good fences,” Robert Frost wrote, “make good neighbors.”

    By “fences,” Frost, a hearty New Englander, meant fieldstone fences or walls. The fences, stones gathered by farmers in new fields and used to mark the boundaries of their property, may still be seen in Connecticut coursing through forested areas.

    President Joe Biden has decided, surprisingly, to supply funds to Texas that will be used to reinforce former President Donald Trump’s “border wall” because, he has said, he was forced to do so by law.

    The law to which he has referred is the presence of funds made available by a congressional order. Some Biden critics have averred it was the presence in the United States of millions of foreign citizens who have not been processed properly at a southern border overrun by illegal immigrants, not a spending bill, that converted Biden on the matter of Trump’s wall.

    Many people in the country tend to take things said by Biden during an election campaign with – quoting Mark Twain here – “a ton of salt.”

    We all know that the near presence of a political campaign does tend to make ambitious politicians deploy what Twain called “stretchers,” first cousins to “lies,” but this particular Biden stretcher appears to be a rude attempt to recover quickly from the disastrous consequences of a border policy that has destructively left the border door open to illegal immigrants now flooding New York City’s posh hotels, the tab being picked up by state and federal taxpayers.

    Resentment in the Big Apple is running hot. Republicans have promised to make border insecurity a plank with which to thump Democrats in the upcoming 2024 campaigns, and polls universally show Biden’s support on the issue of border safety dipping dangerously low. Naturally, some Democrats are beginning to boil over.

    Since Biden methodically began to dismember Trump’s border protocols, President of Mexico López Obrador has showered Biden with plaudits. Obrador regards the Biden policy reversal as a setback.

    “It is a setback,” Obrador said recently, “because it does not resolve the problem.”

    In the past, one report tells us, “Obrador had frequently praised Biden because ‘he is the first U.S. president in a long time who has not built any walls.’”

    In Frostian terms, the absence of a reliable border has made Mexico’s president a bad neighbor.

    Biden’s turnabout – the administration’s decision to waive 26 federal laws restricting construction of the wall -- will facilitate in South Texas the building of roughly 20 miles of additional border wall, at the risk of incurring the displeasure of Obrador and  Jonathan Blazer, director of border strategies at the American Civil Liberties Union, who commented, “The Biden administration’s decision to rush into border wall construction marks a profound failure.”

    No one yet has asked Blazer whether he regards the construction of 20 miles of additional border wall a greater or lesser failure than a Biden policy that has allowed the unauthorized entry into the United States of upwards of five million border jumpers?

    An AllSides report notes, “Approximately 5 million people from over 150 countries have entered the U.S. illegally during Joe Biden's presidency, according to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol [CBP] data.

    “The 5 million figure includes 3.4 million people who were apprehended at the southern border and at least 900,000 ‘gotaways,’ a term used to describe people who evaded law enforcement and didn't make asylum or immigration claims. The CBP had less than 200,000 encounters along the Southwest border in July, which marks the second month in a row of decreased encounters. So far in fiscal year 2022, which ended on Sept. 30, CBP has apprehended more migrants than in all of fiscal year 2022.

    “The [CBP] report was predominantly covered by right-and center-rated outlets. Some reports highlighted how the 5 million figure is greater than the individual populations of 25 states.”

    While CBP collects "gotaway" data, it does not report that information publicly.

    Here in Connecticut, members of the all-Democrat U.S. Congressional Delegation appear to have retreated behind a safe, campaign proof, rhetorical wall, carefully scripted responses to impertinent questions.

    Why has Biden reversed himself on border wall construction?

    Answer: Because Biden is not “above the law.” He was forced by the U.S. Congress to finance what he regards as a failed project – the building of a fence to insure right relations between neighbors. To put it briefly, Congress made Biden do it. The executive branch is constitutionally obligated to enforce laws created by Congress rather than relying on whimsical “executive orders.”

    Perhaps all the members of the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch should be forced to re-read Frost’s poem, Mending Wall.

    The tension in the poem is created by its author who asserts, “Before I built a wall I'd ask to know / What I was walling in or walling out, And to whom I was like to give offence.”

    Watching his neighbor in shadow on a distant hill ploddingly building a fieldstone fence – “Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top / In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed” – he seems to hear the voice of his neighbor, who “will not go behind his father's saying, / And he likes having thought of it so well / He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’”

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    Don Pesci

    Don Pesci is a political columnist of long standing, about 40 years, who has written for various state newspapers, among them The Journal Inquirer, the Waterbury Republican American, the New London Day, the Litchfield County Times, the Torrington Register Citizen and other Register Citizen papers. He maintains a blog, among the oldest of its kind in Connecticut, which serves as a repository and archive, for his columns; there are approximately 3,000 entrees in Connecticut Commentary: Red Notes From A Blue State, virtually all of them political columns stretching back to 2004. He also appears once a week Wednesdays on 1080 WTIC Newstalk radio with Will Marotti.

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