Photo courtesy Werc Alvarez : El PasoPortAll at Stanton Bridge | Werc Alvarez “Created together with assistance from my love Gera, and friends Jose Leal and Jason Gatney and the rest of the PasoPortAll Crew.”
You recently asked the country to inquire about El Paso’s feelings of the worthiness of a wall between us and our sister city, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. As you know, a stronger, taller and longer fence (not wall) was erected in the place of the existing border fencing in the past decade, of which FBI statistics corroborate drops in property crime, drug trafficking and even some violent crimes.
It’s very easy to say the wall is a direct result of being a safe city, especially when you can pick from ‘safest city in the country’ headlines year after year, given safety and ‘America First’ standards are among some of President Trump’s priorities.
After all, “Mexico is not our friend” because they’re “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” And yes, some are “good people,” assumptively. But a wall would be the perfect solution to protecting America from one of our “enemies” who are continually “ripping off the U.S.” and whose cartels use the border like a “vacuum cleaner, sucking drugs and death right into the U.S.”
This is all agreeable, Ms. Sarah, completely true in the Trump World. That Trump World you’re in, where most, if not all media exposure is “fake news”, or grabbing women by the pussy is laughable locker room talk that “never happened” and everyone is out for the administration’s blood.
Trump World may be your world, and that’s your American right to choose, but please remember that there are over 7.4 billion others living in what we call, the real world.
Thankfully, you were kind enough to inquire about our opinions, and perhaps some real-world insight can better balance the alternative facts weighing into the decision of further dividing us from our beloved neighbor.
It seems that even your own Chief of Staff John Kelly may have peeked his head out of the Trump delusion. During his Wednesday meeting with Congressional Hispanic Caucus he said President Trump was “uninformed” in his promises for a huge Mexico-funded wall across the entire border.
Based on your reliance on a New York Post article conveniently summing up the need for this wall on the sole weight of a 3-year statistical comparison, as a native El Pasoan, I must say that you too, are uninformed. Let me kindly explain why.
Judging from this week’s 1st Annual Fake News Awards, it’s clear that fake news is a problematic strain for Trump devotees and the administration. I could not agree more, that smearing the integrity of an institution founded on truth is beyond foul, even dangerous to the American democracy.
Who dare publish –or even endorse– any information dripping with deception and even worse, the manipulative cheapening of the core context that makes a story valuable! Holes in a story collapse the argument on which it’s founded, though cunning language can still sway the reader toward the writer’s favored position and agenda.
As you well know, Sarah, non-objectivity in straight news is cancer to it’s foundation. If anyone is going to present the truth, particularly influential leaders, only the full truth can hold any value of integrity and reliability. I hope that with this letter, you can better understand the holes that drain credibility and reason from the claims that a $20 billion security symbol would help us El Pasoans sleep better at night.
It’s true, that perhaps the latest addition of the fence did reduce property crime significantly and there’s even been a slight drop in violent crime since construction completed. As your New York Post reference states, drug trafficking seizures have gone down, and illegal entry has significantly dropped. But that’s just the FOX News Channel of the big picture.
The border’s fence upgrades are not the reason El Paso ranks so safe, as much of the current propaganda suggests.
My hometown proudly holds the title among cities having the lowest crime rankings in the country for its size, even leading as the lowest ranked in some years, according to FBI Uniform Crime Reporting numbers. I must make you aware that this representation has been a decades-long status existent long before any additional fencing was added to the border, so it cannot and should not be fully attributed to our city’s safety.
When contemplating this heavy price tag, perhaps it makes some sense to consider alternative factors of effectiveness that may be more worthy of such a large investment? Even a tiny fraction of $20 billion for our border community would generate of tsunami of improvements that go even beyond your safety and security priority.
The Wall Won’t Create Any Drug Traffic Jams
I’m not convinced, and I can bet the Drug Enforcement Agency is iffy, that throwing billions at a southern border wall would reduce the instances of drug smugglers coming in from Mexico. Smugglers prefer deep (like, hundreds of feet deep) underground tunnels, not running across miles of fenceless open desert, infested with La Migra.
And unless your wall reaches cloud-like levels, it will do little to deter the drones and small aircraft these smugglers are using to deliver their goods. You also have those pesky bridge-crossing mules, stuffing their tires, shoes, gas tanks, fajas, tamales, semi-trucks and anything under the Sun City sunshine worthy of unsuspicious secret compartments, making their way across and into the faces of our very own law enforcement.
Some get caught. Many don’t. But a border wall isn’t their challenge – they’re more worried about acting cool with heroin duct-taped to their thighs as they hide in the swarms of thousands legally crossing the bridge daily.
And yes, some of them are actually American-born, not Mexican immigrants.
If drugs are what you’re worried about, there’s more we can do as a country with the demand side of it rather than the resistance by way of the wall. A proactive vs. reactive approach to addiction would be more sustainable and beneficial to the American quality of life than a multibillion dollar heap of metal. Say, isn’t there an opioid crisis your administration is trying to tackle?
I wonder how much of the cartel business –and border smuggling– would cripple if the Trump era managed to gain control of the deadliest drug crisis in American history? One could only wonder how the legalization of marijuana has depleted the dollar signs of the black market weed trade, one American state at a time.
Maybe you can explain to Don, that the ball is in our court –er, green, within a 5-foot radius to the hole, and there’s a good chance at an eagle when it comes to securing our border while single-handedly wiping out an epidemic and injecting more green to the successful multi-billion dollar marijuana industry.
El Paso has several potential drug treatment centers that would prosper from a financial boost to achieve their mission for addict recovery. A social disease is cured not by covering up the symptoms, rather healing the origin of the damage.
A stronger focus on the internal health of our community manifests a more sustainable solution than any size wall could attain in its attempts to block the transportation of the infective catalysts.
Pull the plug on recidivism costs.
Given your stance on safety, your team has (hopefully) pored over criminal statistics in border towns, with a close eye on patterns and demographics within each community.
In your research, you may have learned that the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition aims to increase public safety through the reduction on recidivism, as repeat offenders are expensive. They emphasize the need to create stronger families, less tax-payer waste and safer communities.
Seemingly, that aligns well with your Make America Great Again mantra and more specifically, the President’s platform for building this wall.
I must repeat: crime in El Paso existed before the latest fence, and continued to exist after the fence. Sure, we saw a drop in property crime, but violent crime is still a bigger threat to our safety, and murder rates actually went up in 2014.
Of note, it’s not illegal immigrants shooting up those numbers. Putting away the bad guys is one mission in the disciplining of our society, but should we not consider a stronger push for the rehabilitation of those with potential to contribute back to society when given the chance?
Slashing prison occupancy and processing costs by investing in the reintegration of inmates surely goes beyond the effectiveness of crime reduction via wall erection by dealing with the source directly. Addressing the border crimes committed by Americans with the concept of restorative justice and proper guidance can promote a potential generational impact in reversing a costly drain on the community.
Drain the… desert.
I am confident the administration is performing its due diligence to wholly understand the needs of border security, assessing technology and the workforce, and conducting the necessary visits and tours to get a true grip on the topic. My question is, will there be (or has there been) an in-depth federal evaluation on internal corruption?
Because not even a billion-dollar wall would effectively withstand the cracks of immorality amongst American government employees. Protection from bad hombres would be obsolete if there are English-speaking ones in uniform crossing the line with bribes.
Your war against the crimes you intend to protect us from has occasionally been propelled by your own soldiers. In no way am I suggesting or attempting to discredit the honorable dedication of our border force majority, but the revelations in corruption exist, and it’s a threat, albeit minor, that needs to be examined in the name of billions.
The Big Picture
I don’t claim expertise in any of the subjects mentioned above because my tax dollars pay for my leaders to be the experts on all fronts when making multi-billion dollar decisions.
Whether it’s us or Mexico that pays for hundreds of miles of fencing on the southern border, the impact will be felt where I live, amongst my family, friends and neighbors. As citizens we deserve to be confident that our government is dissecting all aspects of this initiative.
This isn’t a weight to be solely slammed on the immigration debate. This isn’t just an eyesore to save the tax dollars wasted on illegal immigrants through law enforcement, welfare, healthcare, education and whatnot.
If there is illness on the border, a $20-billion dollar band-aid idea born on an impulsive campaign whim is not the path to community health. We must run tests, undergo thorough assessments and dissect all symptoms before diagnosing or providing any remedy involving several populations.
Sarah, I applaud your public inquiry to ask El Paso. Who better to educate in the reality of border living than the natives themselves. Immerse the real-life insight of the people with true expert analysis as a working democracy would, before making permanent, costly decisions that risk standing as a symbol of bad leadership in American history.
It’s important to understand that El Paso, historically Paso Del Norte, translates to “The Pass” in which Spanish explorers traveled north from Mexico. For those of us whose bare feet have walked the El Paso earth since birth, it’s a community known and felt to be an international embrace more than the political divide portrayed in recent news.
When we think of the sense of safety we feel in our home, we don’t think of a wall. We immerse ourselves in the bond that makes El Paso-Juarez border what it is: Family.
I won’t be the only one you’ll be receiving letters from in the near future. I am just one voice in millions of the border with native insight worth listening to.
I invite El Pasoans and anyone living on the border to begin the #DearSarah dialogue you’ve publicly requested. Optimistically, you’ll hear from experts, primos, professors, economists and countless others to weigh in on a subject in desperate need of a border voice.
Bianca Delilah Cervantes
To submit your ‘Letter to the Editor’ or similar #DearSarah op-ed piece for consideration, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org