Friday, April 21, 2017

La Frontera

“If we ever hurt the economy of Juarez, it will hurt El Paso, and the rest of the U.S.," Oscar Leeser, Mayor of El Paso, to Jeff Sessions, yesterday.

"El Paso welcomes refugees not racists," sign visible at Sessions' press conference

"I would suggest that if Mr. Sessions is interested in keeping America's streets safe that he would start in his own backyard,"  Former NM Secretary of Economic Development Jon Barela, (Birmingham, Alabama, ranked No. 3 in the nation in violent crimes in 2016, El Paso for years has been the safest city in the US for its size.)

"this sliver of land (is) where we establish a beachhead against the cartels, the transnational street gangs like Mara Salvatrucha 13, and the human traffickers. This is ground zero – this is the front lines, and this is where we take our stand"  Jeff Sessions, yesterday in El Paso

Once again, the US-Mexico border is rediscovered by Washington as the place to reassure the US public, this time nervous about a lot of things and wondering what might be next in the raising of security alarms by this flying-by the-seat-of-the-pants new presidential administration.  For more than two decades U.S. security officials, attorneys general, Homeland Security chiefs, etc., in remarkably bipartisan fashion, have been traipsing to El Paso or San Diego for photo ops, surrounded by the symbols of law enforcement--uniformed officers, plastic security badges, US flags, etc.  All of this took place again in El Paso yesterday as John Kelly and Jeff Sessions came to town for a photo op.  

Those of us who actually live on the border simply glance at these spectacles and yawn, knowing this will probably mean more money for the Border Patrol, maybe a few more buildings at Ft. Bliss nobody can enter without top security clearance, and probably more inconvenience crossing the border.  Nobody who lives here believes anything will happen to the flow of drugs across the border.  No one who lives here is worried about crime in El Paso.  In spite of the twitter wars, the grandstanding, the heightened rhetoric, little is likely to change.  This has become an empty ritual, a collaboration between our national news media, thirsting for 24/7 breathless news, the PR folk in the White House, and the desire of federal officials, somehow, to make themselves look good.  Something like a politician earnestly leading the pledge of allegiance at a baseball game.  It tells you nothing about the game to come itself.

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