Top Ten Border Patrol Excuses For Tear Gassing Babies


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This is actually a many-years-old comic, originally drawn in response to a baby being peppersprayed by cops at a protest in Portland. (I think this was published in Willamette Week, a Portland weekly newspaper).

I never reprinted or reposted this cartoon, because what’s the point? That sort of thing certainly wouldn’t happen again, right?

Aaargh. I really would have preferred that this cartoon never be current again. (Full disclosure: I don’t know if any actual babies were tear gassed, but small children certainly were.)

I took the old cartoon, changed the uniforms from police blue to border patrol green, and relettered a few panels to make it about border patrol agents rather than cops. Frustratingly, most of the panels required no change at all, other than the colors.


Transcript of Cartoon

This cartoon has eleven panels, the first of which is a title panel.

PANEL 1
This panel shows A baby crying and a nearby Border Patrol Agent hitting a club into one palm, speaking sternly to the baby. A major portion of the panel is taken up by a caption.
CAPTION: TOP TEN BORDER PATROL EXCUSES FOR TEAR GASSING BABIES
BABY: Waaah!
AGENT: Stop being such a baby about it!

PANEL 2
An agent speaks directly to the reader, one hand raised in an “explaining” gesture.
CAPTION: TEN: Wanted to be fair.
AGENT: If I only brutalized adults, that would be discrimination!

PANEL 3
A baby in a polka dot onesie is standing, holding out its hands for balance, and smiling as it speaks.
CAPTION: NINE: Baby was giving agents lip.
BABY: Ga goo! Ga fascist pigs! Aa!

PANEL 4
A border patrol agent walks away from the viewer, hands behind his back, whistling.
CAPTION: EIGHT: Just following orders.

PANEL 5
A baby in a striped onsie is smiling, trying to balance on its feet, and holding a big black ball-shaped bomb with a fuse going “ssssss” in one hand.
CAPTION: SEVEN: It was a terrorist baby!
BABY: Baby wuvs Al Qaeda!

PANEL 6
A border patrol agent is holding one hand to his mouth, in a “whoops” gesture.
CAPTION: SIX: Agent mistook tear gas for a nice lollipop.
AGENT: Oopsie!

PANEL 7
A border patrol agent speaks directly to the readers, looking stern, shrugging.
CAPTION: FIVE: Just doesn’t like babies.
AGENT: They smell funny.

PANEL 8
A baby in a pink onesie is lying on a polka-dot blanket. The baby is wearing a shade visor with a paper that says “press” in it, and is holding a notebook in one hand and a pen in the other.
CAPTION: FOUR: Baby was a reporter.

PANEL 9
A border patrol agent poses, one hand’s fingers pressed to his chest, like a pretentious arteest.
CAPTION: THREE: Throwing kids in cells has grown stale.
AGENT: I need room for growth!

PANEL 10
A baby, scowling, points a gun aggressively.
CAPTION: TWO: Baby gave agents no choice!
BABY: Eat hot lead, fascists!

PANEL 11
A border agent, arms crossed, eyes covered by the bill of his cap, talks to the readers without deigning to look at us.
CAPTION: And the number one excuse is…
AGENT: What makes you think we NEED an excuse?

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69 Responses to Top Ten Border Patrol Excuses For Tear Gassing Babies

  1. 1
    Petar says:

    I think it is clear from your cartoon that you think that the Border Patrol erred in deploying tear gas against groups containing small children. Just for my personal curiosity, exactly where did you think they erred?

    1) Did they err in not possessing and deploying alternative, so called non-lethal weapons, such as water cannons, sonic area deniers, microwave emitters, etc?
    2) Did they err in not engaging the groups at range, with so called less-lethal weapons, more suitable for precise targeting, such as tasers and rubber bullets?
    3) Did they err in not waiting for the group to enter US territory, and then confronting its members at melee range, so that the Border Patrol would be able to best focus on those who were not small children, while of course, also assigning officers to secure, protect and extract to safety said small children?
    4) Did they err in not allowing the group to enter US territory and disperse, unopposed?
    5) Did you have another approach in mind, one that guarantees that no children, and maybe even no adults, are hurt? Letting everyone in counts, but if that’s your position, you probably should have stated it your commentary.

    I mean, it is possible that the US and Mexico authorities are lying that there were, in one of the cases, more than 500 people trying to cross despite instructions to the contrary. It is possible that the authorities are lying about the willingness of those attempting to cross to use violence. It is possible that the border agents had enough people to deal with the influx without any violence. It is also possible that you know, better than me, how to restrain people without harming them. After all, my training is 30-40 years out of date.

    I was taught that to restrain one person without lasting harm, you need three officers, assuming the subject responds to pain. If you are willing to do lasting harm, two officers should be enough. If you are in an one on one confrontation, standard operation procedure was to attempt to render the subject unconscious, which always carries the risk of death.

    I am not saying that you cannot get away with worse odds, such as single-handedly controlling one subject through small joints manipulation. I am saying that if you attempt it, you are taking a risk, and, at least in 80s Bulgaria, going against standard operating procedure, and assuming responsibility for the outcome.

    Even if I have 1500 elite riot police in full gear disciplined enough of hold a five deep cordon, 500 people are still perfectly able to crush, suffocate and stomp into pulp a good portion of their own. As an aside, I was also taught that two deep is the most you can stack before there is a risk to have ribcages crushed, i.e. that a crowd pushing into a three deep riot shield wall will crush its front line… and then trample it as the wall is pushed back.

    In any case, speaking from my comfortable armchair, I personally do not know of any way to prevent 500 people from doing what they want, if I am not allowed to use anything that can possibly result in harm to them.

    At least one of the regulars on this forum has more current, and I hope better training, than I do in civilized policing. I am curious to know whether she would care to second guess the commander on the field. I am not taking about the asswipes responsible for the strategy that led to the situation, I am talking about the decisions made by the tactical officer who ordered the canisters fired… if he even had the discretion to do so, as opposed to having inflexible rules of engagement.

  2. 2
    Gracchus says:

    @Petar: Maybe the solution is, when what they want to do poses no immediate harm to others (for example, crossing an international border), to let them do it?

  3. 3
    Petar says:

    @Gracchus: As I said (twice) above, I find your position completely self-consistent and defensible. If one is ready to allow unrestricted human traffic across the national border, it makes perfect sense to criticize the use of tear gas against groups containing small children… or any group attempting to cross, for that matter.

    What I’m trying to understand is the reasoning of people who do not admit to favoring open borders, but condemn the Border Patrol’s use of tear gas.

  4. 4
    JTV says:

    Something to note: Tear gas and pepper spray were used frequently at the border under the Obama administration.

    Here’s an example (look at the date of the article):
    https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-border-patrol-rock-throwing-san-ysidro-2013nov25-story.html

  5. 5
    Kate says:

    Something to note: Tear gas and pepper spray were used frequently at the border under the Obama administration.

    What is your point? That tear-gassing children is o.k. because Obama did it? Do you deny that things have become still worse under the Trump administration?Or, are you accusing the left of hypocracy because we didn’t protest when Obama did it…except we did. The left vigerously protested Obama’s policies on border security and immigration (eg. United We Dream). Obama was trying to give the right the border security they ostensibly wanted, to show that he was operating in good faith. The left was criticle of Obama’s concillatory approach on immigration and other issues (eg. healthcare) from day one. Very few on the left would cite the Obama administration’s bordor policies as a paradigm worth following. So, really, what is your point? What does this add to the discussion?

  6. 6
    Kate says:

    Petar, I take your point that the root of the problem at the border lies higher up the decision tree. These people had a right to ask for asylum at the border under international law and treaties that the U.S. has signed onto. Closing the border was a stupid stunt, and unecessary. That’s not the fault of border patrol.
    But, lets be real. ICE has a well documented history of abuse:
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/07/ice-is-the-ugly-face-of-big-government-populism/565463/
    https://theintercept.com/2018/04/11/immigration-detention-sexual-abuse-ice-dhs/
    https://www.aclu.org/issues/immigrants-rights/ice-and-border-patrol-abuses

    We have every reason to believe that most ICE agents are fully on board with Trump’s policies. I think Amp’s rendition of their attitudes towards migrants is spot on.

  7. 7
    JTV says:

    Edited to add: Regarding Post # 5.

    Kate, I’d be glad to have a discussion, but I’m not going to be hectored by you. I realize that the board is asymmetric in that respect (as to what is allowed by each side), but I don’t have to put up with it. If other posters also refuse to take your crap, you are going to have to play in the corner all by yourself.

  8. 8
    Kate says:

    I’m asking an honest question. What do you think bringing bad Obama era policies up in the context of a discussion of Trump policies adds to the discussion?

  9. 9
    lurker23 says:

    i think things are easier to solve when you do what people call “steel man” instead of “straw man” and i think this cartoon is more “straw man” in how it thinks? it is drawn very well but it does not work as well i do not think?

    it is possible that people are evil, of course some people are always evil, but most people are not. and i think that it is not usually a good thing to make up evil thinking for groups of people you do not like, that is not fair to do to anyone if they are on your side or the other side.

    i think it is possible to think this is a bad thing, because people getting hurt is bad, but also at the same time to think that this is not an evil thing, because the guards would want NOT to hurt people, and just to have them not try and run through the fence. evil would be if they thought “i want to hurt someone and i will do it for no reason at all.”

    because this “make up evil thinking for groups of people you do not like” happens on both sides, right? i have seen other people make up horrible things for the reasons that people try to break across the border and those are not right too, are they? like some people are saying that parents are running with their kids into tear gas and are okay that the kids might get hurt for politics, which is also evil if it were true, i think, but is also not what is really happening.

    steel man is better!!

    steel man for the left might be for people to answer a question like “how would you keep these people out of the usa right now when they rush at the border”? steel man means you do not get to say things like “fix the central american and south american economy” or “i would just let them in” in your answer. if you steel man that you will probably end up agreeing that if your job is to keep them out then at some point you are going to be okay to to use some kind of force against people because it can be the only way to keep them out.

    steelman for the right might be to answer a question like “how can you avoid hurting anyone at all?” and you will probably agree that you need to let them in, because people can always make a threat to be hurt and make you have a choice between “hurting someone” and “letting them in” so if your job is never to hurt anyone you cannot keep them from doing anything.

    this makes both sides more honest i think. it seems to me that you cannot say “make sure you do not ever hurt anyone” without agreeing that the result is “let them in whenever they run at the fence, and that means everyone who wants to come in will just start to run at the fence.” and you cannot say “do not let them in” without agreeing that the result is “maybe hurt someone if they run at the fence, and if a lot of people run at the fence you are probably going to hurt a lot of people”

    maybe i am wrong about the steel man reasons and the results but i think even if i am wrong, steel man is a good way to have the discussion.

  10. 10
    Celeste says:

    Used of chemical weapons is a war crime.

    Like, I get your point about steelmanning, and to a degree I agree with you, but maybe it’s worth considering that if your steelmanning is leading you to justify war crimes, maybe it’s taking you to the wrong place.

    I also agree that the proper place for the decision to be made was higher up the command chain. So maybe the question for the border patrol is, “when your superiors order you to commit a war crime, should you?”

    Or even if we grant the steelmanning, asking, “if the only way to achieve your objectives is to commit a war crime, should you?”

  11. 11
    Petar says:

    Used of chemical weapons is a war crime.

    The use of chemical weapons in warfare is a war crime. The use of chemical weapons in riot control is not governed by the Geneva convention, and is thus not a war crime. As matter of fact, the convention states something like this “No State shall use riot control agents in warfare”, which makes it pretty clear that the convention does not regulate other uses.

    As for the reason to use tear gas at all? How many times do I have to say it? It’s because, to many people’s knowledge, including mine, it is the most appropriate, i.e. the least dangerous, way of dealing with some situations that have gotten out of control.

    Yes, it would be nice if such situations were never allowed to develop. Yes, it would be nice if everyone in law enforcement had the wisdom of Solomon, the gadgetry of Batman, the enlightenment of Buddha, the strength of Superman, the selflessness of Jesus, etc.

    By the way, I think the former is easier to achieve than the latter.

  12. 12
    Harlequin says:

    What I’m trying to understand is the reasoning of people who do not admit to favoring open borders, but condemn the Border Patrol’s use of tear gas.

    In the past, there have been cases of US border posts refusing to let asylum seekers across (different from the closing at San Ysidro, I think, which was security-related–these were nominally capacity-related). My summary of this would be that, due to official policy, current border crossings restrict the number of eligible people who come through (either by flat-out refusing people, or by building insufficient infrastructure), leading to a build-up of people waiting, with no clear process for how they’ll get a chance to speak to border agents. Which creates a situation where tear gas is even in the realm of possibility. So I would say, we do not need open borders–we can still question people coming in, figure out if they’re seeking asylum, if they have papers, what have you; we just need infrastructure that can handle the number of people who will try to come in, and do that in an orderly way. And if there’s an unexpected influx at one entry point, then we need extra staffing and temporary infrastructure there, not just extra guards.

    I’d guess that being able to handle large influxes is likely to decrease the number of those influxes, not incrase it–if the border has trouble handling large influxes of people, that’s sort of a scarcity problem of being able to get in, which makes people nervous about the timing. If you can always get in, then people don’t time it as carefully, and it spreads things out. But I might be wrong, of course. If this led to a sharp increase in the number of people trying to come in, or some other knock-on effect, we would need to reevaluate this plan. (I also know that my usual response to these things is “create a process”, lol. But in this case we basically already have one, we just don’t fund and support it to the level it apparently needs.)

    ***

    lurker, steelmanning is a good idea if what you want to do is have a calm, sensible discussion of ideas. But calm, sensible discussions of ideas are not the only way to get people to change their minds–in fact, I think they’re a particularly bad way for lots of people. And Amp has spoken repeatedly in these comments about the place of political cartooning–it’s a cartoon, not a policy discussion, and has different goals and norms (as it should).

    I am with the others above who say that the problem is, at least in part, higher up the command chain than the people who actually used the tear gas. In fact, this is so obvious to me that I’m kind of surprised it needs to be said. But then I know I’m pretty far on the “systems” side of “systems vs individuals as relevant actors in political policy.”

  13. 13
    lurker23 says:

    lurker, steelmanning is a good idea if what you want to do is have a calm, sensible discussion of ideas. But calm, sensible discussions of ideas are not the only way to get people to change their minds–in fact, I think they’re a particularly bad way for lots of people.

    i of like the discussion of course! i do not think they are a bad way for alot of people though, and also i think they are a good way to try to find good answers?

    other than really evil people i do not think ANYBODY thinks that “babies and tear gas” is not-bad, of COURSE it is bad!

    but people disagree on how to stop it, and who to blame, even if they agree it is bad? i think that is because they disagree on what is assumed and what is a choice. like some people assume that of course the parents are supposed to run through the fence and stopping them is a choice, and those people blame the soldiers. other people assume that of course the soldiers are supposed to protect the hole and running at the soldiers is a choice, and those people blame the parents. other people have every other way to think about it.

    doing things like steel man are good to help you understand what you are thinking is assumed and what you are thinking is a choice. saying that is important to convince people, i think.

  14. 14
    lurker23 says:

    it might be nice to try and set up a lot of asylum stations in places that are not the border and then we can think about those things before the border. we do not need to do as much asylum AT the border i dont think.

    i think it depends alot on what the point is of asylum and i think that is changing as the world changes, which is making problems.

    if a refugee is running from a country because they are in danger then the point of thinking about them like a refugee is to get them to a place which is not that country.

    but a lot of the people who are talking about refugee seem to be talking like the point is to get “in the usa” which is different from “not that country.” the caravan did not want asylum in mexico, i think? but if you have made it out of the bad country okay, and you are in another country that is saying you can stay as a refugee, i think maybe you have less right to want to go to some OTHER country because you like it there better?

    like the article you posted said the person who was crossing was from guatemala, and they were applying in mexico to get into the usa. they were not in guatemala any more and they were not in danger any more, right? it does not seem that bad to me if they have to wait a bit in order to get an interview because they are already out of the place that they are running away from.

  15. 15
    Petar says:

    So, Harlequin, lets assume that we have the ability to build state-of-the-art port-of-entry infrastructure, with airlock type sections to prevent crowd surges, with run-off extensions to redirect people to extra offices, with a massive cut off gate to impose an end to the daily influx, etc. etc. etc.

    And the people to staff it all, as well as the extra staffing for theoretical unexpected increases.

    And the wise policy makers who will do their best to make sure that large groups are properly partitioned on the way to border, quartered in relative comfort until the facilities can process them, bused to the facilities at the right time, in order not to impose undue strain on the communities in between, etc. Of course, this assumes cooperation by the officials of another country, but it’s no harder to assume than anything else.

    Lets also have a good, trusted, regularly updated system of communicating everything the asylum seekers need to know, so that they are willing to be processed according to procedure.

    Lets even assume that the taxpayer money to fund the above is available, and no voters anywhere in the US think that there are wiser ways to spend it.

    Now, if, in addition to that, we had open border policies, it would work, no argument. But if we did not have open border policies, there would be still people who would know that they would not be eligible for entry.

    Do you honestly believe that such people would not be trying to enter the US via places that do not feature million dollar infrastructure and infinite staffing, such as, I don’t know, a railroad border crossing? Do you think that such people would not bring small children with them, if you also had a “no tear gasing small children” policy?

    There are two extremes.

    One is “open borders”. Cheap and no risk whatsoever of tear gasing children.

    Another is what we had in Bulgaria. Legal border crossings with simple boom barriers painted red green and white. And a border protected with machine guns and mine fields. I would have heard if any children were hurt trying to cross from 1987 to 1989. I did not. Expensive, inhumane to those trying to cross, and dehumanizing to those manning the machine guns.

    Somewhere in between, there is a good balance between absolute willingness to spend infinite resources and absolute unwillingness to use any violence. But those offering simple solutions think that their audience is simple.

  16. 16
    Grace Annam says:

    Petar:

    At least one of the regulars on this forum has more current, and I hope better training, than I do in civilized policing. I am curious to know whether she would care to second guess the commander on the field. I am not taking about the asswipes responsible for the strategy that led to the situation, I am talking about the decisions made by the tactical officer who ordered the canisters fired… if he even had the discretion to do so, as opposed to having inflexible rules of engagement.

    No, I won’t second-guess the officers on the scene. Pretty much every use of force ever, justified or not, turns importantly on details which are not present in an initial news report.

    That said, I’m willing to speak more generally.

    We can probably all agree that, as a general rule, no one should use tear gas on children. But in an ideal world, no one would have to use any kind of force on anyone. I can easily create a hypothetical where a justified use of force results in substantial risk to a child. For instance, suppose you have a man with psych issues who has assaulted his ex, and is leaving her house with their toddler in the crook of his left arm and a handgun in his right hand? You can’t let him leave with the child. If he points the gun at you, and the child were not there, you would be perfectly justified in shooting him with lethal force (and quite probably derelict in your duty if you don’t). But the child is there. What to do?

    Is it okay to use a taser on him? There’s a chance you’ll hit the child, since tasers are not notoriously accurate. Even if the taser deploys exactly right, the man is likely to drop the toddler. Maybe the toddler will be fine, especially if the man is standing on grass, but what if the man takes a step to the left as you do the trigger press, and that puts the toddler’s head over a concrete sidewalk, or the edge of a ceramic pot?

    Well, what about pepper spray? Well, it’s an area-effect weapon, so the toddler’s going to catch some. Also, in my personal experience with pepper spray, it makes life unpleasant and difficult, but it doesn’t prevent me from forcing my eyes open to catch glimpses of my environment, and I could still acquire a sight picture. So it won’t necessarily prevent the man with psych issues from aimed shooting, or just from spraying bullets generally.

    What to do? There are lots of alternatives, but there are no good alternatives. All the alternatives are bad, and they all involve cost/benefit decisions about which reasonable people can conscientiously differ.

    I think that’s what you’re getting at, Petar, and it’s the level of analysis which is often missing in public discussions of use of force. Yes, use of force on children is inherently awful, and when a child is hurt or killed, that is inherently tragic. We can all agree that the situation is deplorable. But until we have the option of wishing it away, that’s not the issue. The issue is what to do in those deplorable situations.

    Someone decided that that no one in that crowd was going to cross the border, or that no more people were going to cross. (It appears to be a policy decision contrary to established USA and international law, which as I understand it permits people to enter the USA to request asylum, and to remain in the USA, albeit in detention, while the asylum claim is processed. The fact that we do not allocate adequate resources to process the requests is our problem, not theirs. We are one of the wealthiest countries in the history of our species; processing such requests is a question of will, not capability. Also, we had plenty of time to prepare for this, and we had the ability to gather intel about this particular group of migrants well before they arrived at our border.) It was almost certainly a policy decision not made by anyone present at the scene, and even more certainly not made by the officers tasked with making that policy happen. Someone also decided what methods were permissible to enforce the decision that no one was going to cross.

    There is no form of force which is without risk. Extremely hypothetically, an officer can step in someone’s path, and be the last straw which provokes a stroke. We’re taught that an officer’s presence is technically a use of force, albeit one of the least lethal, and I’ve seen that play out: when officers arrive at an underage party, kids at the party often run, and I’ve seen them get hurt doing it, falling down stairs or running smack into a tree branch.

    Less hypothetically, any control hold, even the most careful, can cause injury if the person being constrained struggles in unexpected ways, or has an invisible condition like a prior injury, or just because something in the environment injures someone. This cuts both ways; I once saw an officer sustain a shoulder injury by firing a 12-gauge shotgun (which functioned properly) at the range from a prone position, just as they had done hundreds of times before. An officer arresting a completely compliant person could kneel on a sharp object. This is why the state-of-terminology is no longer “non-lethal” force, but “less lethal” force.

    Crowd situations inherently involve a power disparity. It’s rare that there are anywhere near as many officers as other people in the crowd; when the officers outnumber other people, we don’t even think of it as crowd control.

    So, what level of force is permissible? If there’s an opening and 500 people simply walk forward, do you have enough officers for a cordon line? Do they have batons or riot sticks? Are they allowed to use them to push back when they are pushed? (Note that if they don’t, the cordon is merely visual, symbolic, and simply breaks when the other people push hard.) Are they allowed to strike, when they are pushed hard by desperate people? Since baton strikes can break bones, can kill, do we want to prevent direct physical contact? How?

    There are lots of options, and the Border Patrol has access to many of them. Pepper spray, PepperBall, TASER, various sonic devices, etc. All of them carry risk of injury and trauma, including to children if children are in the area they affect.

    Some might say to arrest the leaders. But in this case, the leaders are willing to be arrested, because then they’ll be inside the United States, asking for asylum, which is apparently what the officers on the border have been told to prevent.

    Let’s say you have three officers for every person trying to cross. You pin each one to the ground in a safe manner. Now what? Take them into custody? See previous paragraph. Carry them back into Mexico and let them go? Presumably, they walk back toward the United States.

    I have nothing in particular against the Border Patrol, although I can say that I’ve had some professional contact with them and have come away unimpressed. There are reasons I never applied to serve in our Border Patrol. That said, given the policy decision not to let people enter, what exactly is it that people want Border Patrol agents who are watching people walk toward them, clearly intending to cross the border, to do?

    If you don’t have an answer, then it’s a bit like disliking a decision made by management at the CDC and complaining about how the doctors and other medical providers are implementing it in the field. The field is not where the problem is.

    Grace

  17. 17
    Petar says:

    Wow. This was a wall of text that I read twice, and did not find ONE thing to disagree with. So I will quote the part I agree with the most, and bonus points for making it the last sentence.

    The field is not where the problem is.

  18. 18
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Grace @16:

    Someone decided that that no one in that crowd was going to cross the border, or that no more people were going to cross. (It appears to be a policy decision contrary to established USA and international law,…

    That said, given the policy decision not to let people enter, what exactly is it that people want Border Patrol agents who are watching people walk toward them, clearly intending to cross the border, to do?

    The first, and obvious, answer, is that they should educate themselves about the law, and implement the law, not a policy that contradicts the law.

    You say that the field is not where the problem is, but history tells us quite clearly that when the policy makers tell the people in the field to break the law, or start passing laws that do not respect human rights, it is the job of the people in the field to resist. “We were just following orders” is not an acceptable mentality. Anyone who follows policies without consideration to whether the policies should be followed is perhaps not ultimately responsible, but they are complicit.

  19. 19
    Celeste says:

    You say that the field is not where the problem is, but history tells us quite clearly that when the policy makers tell the people in the field to break the law, or start passing laws that do not respect human rights, it is the job of the people in the field to resist.

    Especially when the alternative is, “…or we could tear-gas a child.”

  20. 20
    Harlequin says:

    Petar, I don’t know if you intended it, but your description of what you think I meant in comment #15 is taken to such an absurd level that it no longer resembles what I actually meant in the slightest.

    You pointed out, correctly, that teargassing is a method of crowd control. My proposal wasn’t “stop all force against people trying to get into the US without a right to do so”–it was “prevent crowds so we don’t have crowd control measures that are used indiscriminately.” In the two years Trump has been president, we have had one (known) incident of tear-gassing at the border, afaik. So when I said we needed better infrastructure and more people? We don’t need to redo the entire border, and the entire path of migration, to top-of-the-line standards. We need, like, a small perturbation upwards in what is already at the border, because almost all of the border is already doing well enough at this, almost all of the time. We need to do a little better, not infinite-funding better.

    Even if we made those changes, is there a level of “unreasonable rioting crowd” that would still result in US border guards tear-gassing a crowd that included children, as the solution with the least violence to it? Sure, I can theoretically picture that. But you’re going to have to do a lot more work than you have to convince me that “500 asylum seekers from Central America” is a crowd like that, absent preventable decisions by the US personnel in the first place.

    All that being said–I did a little more research. I was under the impression that this crowd of migrants had been turned away wholesale after attempting to claim asylum, the way previous groups of migrants were in Texas etc; but on a second read I haven’t been able to find enough information to confirm whether that was true or not here. So the initial problem my point was intended to address (big crowds left waiting for indeterminate amounts of time outside border crossings due to the voluntary choices of border agents) may not have been the case here, and more fault may lie in communication choices by the US and its agents, rather than infrastructure and staffing choices.

    (Edit: also, Eytan, that’s a great summary, thanks.)

  21. 21
    Erin says:

    Personally, I know that whenever I am trying to scale a fence or bum-rush immigration officials as part of a mob at the border of a foreign country that does not want me in – or in any kind of mass confrontation with The Law when I am trying to force through my wishes in an illegal way – I always bring a kid or three along. They’re also good for photo-ops.

    And it’s sure not child abuse. Because I say so.

  22. 22
    lurker23 says:

    Eytan Zweig says:
    they should educate themselves about the law, and implement the law, not a policy that contradicts the law.

    i do not know what the law is exactly but i think for sure that this is more complicated than you are saying. as an example even though i do not think obama has anything to do with this i do think that the fact that this happened alot during obama and people did not get charged means this is probably not a crime, because i think it would probably have stopped during obama if it was a crime, or some people would have been charged, and it did not stop/charge.

    you seem to be saying i think, that if a law does not “respect human rights” then people should not follow it, but that is a very hard argument. first of all it is very broad. you are not talking about even “violating” human rights but only “respecting” them, which seems to be a much broader thing. and also i suspect you are also using one of the very broad definitions of human rights, probably including what are called “positive” rights. in the end a lot of those arguments seem to be just “we should have laws I like” and i feel the same way, of course, but i am glad the police do not get encouraged to break every law that i don’t like, or that you don’t like, or that they don’t like, that is not the point of laws.

    Harlequin talked about “preventable decisions by the US personnel in the first place.”
    i think that is important, yes. but is there some reason that we are not talking at all about the “preventable decisions” of the people who rushed the fence? i think that it is not fair or even really possible for the us to try to prevent the actions of every person who might think of a way to get in, and i think that is even more true if the people are doing their best to respond to the us prevention and avoid it! us response and prevention will always be slower than the people who want to come in, they can respond fast.

    i think the us was probably involved in making mexico offer asylum to the refugees, to try to prevent them from doing this sort of thing. if you do not think that was enough what else do you think the us should do?

    this is a serious question:
    do people think it is a human right to get to turn down mexico and go into the usa because you like it better? do people think it is a human right to get to enter into the usa as soon as you get to the border, and be released there into the usa, whether or not you are considered to be a refugee in the end and even if the usa cannot really find you and make you leave?

  23. 23
    Harlequin says:

    You know, Erin, I could basically copy your first paragraph of sarcasm word-for-word, with the meaning “so obviously these weren’t cartoonishly evil people intending to ‘bum-rush’ the border.” (In fact, I thought that was your meaning until I got to the bit about child abuse.)

  24. 24
    Eytan Zweig says:

    i do not know what the law is exactly but i think for sure that this is more complicated than you are saying

    I wasn’t saying anything about the law. I was quoting Grace, who claimed that the border policies are “contrary to established USA and international law”, and asked what the people in the field are expected to do. I answered that question based on her premises.

    Also, I’m not encouraging the police (or the border patrol), to break any laws. There are other options if they feel they would be wrong to enforce laws – the most obvious one is that they can quit their jobs and not be police anymore. But as long as they choose to be police (or border patrol, or ICE, or whatever), the defense of “I didn’t make the policy, I just implemented it” only goes so far.

    (I should point out that I’m not saying this out of a position of moral superiority. I used to be part of the military police in the Israeli Defense Forces in the late 90s, albeit by conscription and not by choice. I am pointing the finger at my past self just as much as I am at the people Grace was describing)

  25. 25
    RonF says:

    Gracchus @ 2:

    Maybe the solution is, when what they want to do poses no immediate harm to others (for example, crossing an international border), to let them do it?

    The reports are that at least some of the people in the group were a violent mob that was hitting Border Patrol agents with rocks and bottles. On that basis, the situation you describe is hypothetical, not what was actually happening at the time. And one of the major reason that the Border Patrol exists is to keep people from crossing U.S. borders illegally. Whether or not they are doing so violently or peacefully is moot.

    Kate @ 5:

    Do you deny that things have become still worse under the Trump administration?

    Citing the report regarding the use of tear gas at the border by the Obama administration I’d say that it certainly had occurred far more often under the Obama administration than it has under the Trump administration. Since, as is apparent, the media voluntarily refrained from reporting at an equivalent level of detail what was going on during the Obama administration, we really have no proper level of reference to tell with regards to any exposure of children to tear gas in such incidents.

    Celeste @ 10:

    Used [sic] of chemical weapons is a war crime.

    The use of tear gas in law enforcement, OTOH, is entirely legal.

    Harlequin @ 12:

    And if there’s an unexpected influx at one entry point, then we need extra staffing and temporary infrastructure there, not just extra guards.

    1) U.S. immigration law and its enforcement is created and performed to serve the best interests of the United States, not the best interests of people seeking to enter the United States.
    2) The GOP attempted to increase staffing. The Democrats refused to support it, so it could not get through the Senate. And now the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is demanding that funding for immigration law enforcement be reduced even further.

    Grace @ 16:

    We can probably all agree that, as a general rule, no one should use tear gas on children.

    I can agree with that. But when you have a violent mob attacking Border Patrol agents attempting to cross the border and there are one or two children there, does that mean that you simply let the mob in? Maybe the ideal situation here is for women with small children to keep their child away from mobs assaulting law enforcement officials. Every single picture I’ve seen showing a crowd of people at the border or in one of these caravans shows said crowd overwhelmingly made up of young men, with very few women and children in it. Based on the picture I saw of this particular incident, it seems probable to me that none of the Border Patrol agents saw any women or children when this incident occurred.

    Someone decided that that no one in that crowd was going to cross the border, or that no more people were going to cross.

    Again – U.S. immigration law states that people are NOT to cross our borders illegally. So it seems that Congress, in the name of the American people, decided that quite some time ago and then made provision to hire people and give them the authority to enforce it.

    (It appears to be a policy decision contrary to established USA and international law, which as I understand it permits people to enter the USA to request asylum, and to remain in the USA, albeit in detention, while the asylum claim is processed.

    I see no particular reason why the Border Patrol agents should presume that a group of people rushing the border in an attempt to cross illegally while throwing rocks and bottles were seeking asylum.

    lurker23 @ 22:

    do people think it is a human right to get to turn down mexico and go into the usa because you like it better? do people think it is a human right to get to enter into the usa as soon as you get to the border, and be released there into the usa, whether or not you are considered to be a refugee in the end and even if the usa cannot really find you and make you leave?

    Speaking for myself, no and no. And I’ll bet large amounts of money that the majority of Americans agree.

  26. 26
    Mandolin says:

    Much preferable, apparently, is the tactic of leaving small children alone in violent countries while you try to seek asylum. This is not child abuse! It is child neglect.

    Or, perhaps, we could not just sarcasm nastily and pointlessly at each other.

  27. 27
    Mandolin says:

    Humans, having developed social consciousness in small cooperative bands, appear to have a few very strong moral obsessions.

    These include a strong instinct for reciprocity, where violation of reciprocity – parasitism on the group – is a primary social concern, overriding many others.

    Also, a strong sense of “us” grouping–a surprisingly elastic sense which can include surprisingly large numbers of “us”–with a parallel strong sense of “other.”

    These serve us well, sometimes. They serve us badly, sometimes. Some individuals hold them more strongly than others.

    I don’t see how we as a species can shed xenophobia, or paranoia about social parasitism. Shedding them entirely would probably have pretty bad repercussions. Compassion and reciprocity are tied up together. Solidarity and xenophobia are tied up together.

    But as long as human society works the way human society has (as far as I can tell) basically always worked, I don’t think we’re ever going to resolve these arguments. There will always be people stealing our jobs. There will always be barbarian intruders. Tomorrow, someone’s children will still be worth gassing.

    To gore my own ox, there will also always be people who, acting as predators, can corrupt and weaponize anything to hurt others, and there will always be people who enable them too long. There will always be people who know how to take advantage of compassion and social responsibility. There will always be people who don’t care. There will always be people who take what they can, and have nothing but disdain from those they’ve taken from. The tools I know how to bring to bear as part of my political and social consciousness are inadequate against predators. Compassion can not be a sole guiding light. I cannot express my regret for the times when I thought I was being compassionate, and trying to be so, hurt others. An open heart is vulnerable to manipulation.

    Xenophobia and paranoia about social reciprocity are maladaptive – but maintaining sensible, independent boundaries is not. And where those lines are… well, obviously I’ve made my stance about them regarding this issue clear–and I want to be clear, I absolutely believe that stance–but I’m also liable to philosophical bias in that direction, and I’ve been wrong before.

    I wish I saw a path toward a future where we didn’t have to fear and protect. I don’t.

  28. 28
    Mandolin says:

    Ron, and others if you wish,

    I mean this in a spirit of total curiosity – I don’t know your answers. Do you feel like this is an especially dangerous or exceptional moment in terms of immigration? Or do you view it more as an ongoing, constant historical and contemporary problem?

  29. 29
    Ampersand says:

    Ron wrote:

    Citing the report regarding the use of tear gas at the border by the Obama administration I’d say that it certainly had occurred far more often under the Obama administration than it has under the Trump administration. Since, as is apparent, the media voluntarily refrained from reporting at an equivalent level of detail what was going on during the Obama administration, we really have no proper level of reference to tell with regards to any exposure of children to tear gas in such incidents.

    It appears that under the Trump administration, tear gas is being used at the border almost twice as often.

    From Snopes:

    These figures show that from 2012 to 2016, the final five years of Obama’s tenure as president, CBP agents used CS gas (tear spray) in 79 incidents, which is the equivalent of 15.8 incidents per year, or 1.3 per month.

    These figures support the claim made in the Washington Times article, although it should be noted that figures are not available for the first few years of Obama’s tenure, from 2009 to 2011.

    During the 2017 fiscal year (for most of which Donald Trump was President) and the 2018 fiscal year, 47 tear spray incidents took place, which works out as just shy of two per month. Although there are only two years’ worth of data to go on, so far the use of tear gas by CBP agents has increased under the Trump administration.

    The vast majority of incidents under both administrations were not reported widely. (As far as I can recall, this recent incident is the first one since Trump was elected to be reported nationally.)

    This incident is getting more coverage for two reasons. First of all, the “caravan” – which has become a news story largely because of relentless pounding on it by the President and by Fox News – is involved. There was no comparable “hook” to any of the prior incidents. And it’s very strange of conservatives to do everything they can to make the caravan a big story, and then to complain that a caravan-related story is getting coverage.

    Second of all, this case involves the US border patrol firing tear gas across the border into Mexico, which may have broken international law, making this story bigger news.

  30. 30
    Grace Annam says:

    Eytan:

    Anyone who follows policies without consideration to whether the policies should be followed is perhaps not ultimately responsible, but they are complicit.

    Yes. I once had an argument with someone several steps above me in rank about an arrest situation. I had tested a possible drunk driver and found that I could not demonstrate impairment to a standard of probable cause. The authority above me wanted me, in all such cases, to keep the driver from driving away, even if the driver said, “I’m leaving” and put the car in gear. I pointed out that, once I was done with my assessment, I had no legal authority to detain him. We went around and around on it, with him concerned about the liability if I were wrong and the driver later struck someone, and me pointing out that while that risk was real because anyone could make a mistake, we simply did not have the legal authority to further restrain that driver.

    Later, on a different case, and bearing that conversation in mind, I made an arrest for DWI where in my judgement the evidence was just sufficient to demonstrate probable cause. I was called on the carpet because the evidence was insufficient to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt in court, which was probably true (nothing is certain in court). But, the alternative to making the arrest was not making the arrest, and letting someone who was measurably impaired drive. Regardless, they told me that I had done it wrong, which created, for patrol officers this department cared to scrutinize in this way, a space between Probable Cause and Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt where the officer could do no right.

    I no longer work for that department. However, I have no reason to believe that anything institutional has changed, there.

    All of which is to say that I have declined to be complicit in situations like these. I have also arguably been complicit. These are judgement calls, and people of good conscience can differ over them.

    One practical problem which flows from people of good conscience declining to be complicit and, sooner or later, no longer being in that job, is that the same employer is then free to find someone who will have no compunctions about implementing the policy as it exists. At the same time, as you make the situation more dire, there is clearly a time to quit, though people will differ over where on the spectrum that time is.

    Ron:

    Again – U.S. immigration law states that people are NOT to cross our borders illegally.

    My understanding is that it is not illegal to enter the US with the intent of surrendering yourself and making a claim of asylum. If people are violent toward law enforcement officers, the officers certainly have the right and obligation to defend themselves in a reasonable manner. But the act of entry, by itself, is not an act of violence toward anyone at all, and is legal when followed immediately by a request for asylum.

    Ron:

    I see no particular reason why the Border Patrol agents should presume that a group of people rushing the border in an attempt to cross illegally while throwing rocks and bottles were seeking asylum.

    Since I said specifically that I was not critiquing the incident or the officers in the incident, since I don’t have sufficient information to do so, and since I said that I was speaking more generally, I see no particular reason why this point is relevant in a reply to my post.

    Frankly, it kinda seems like you’re looking for an argument and didn’t understand the points I was making in my comment.

    Erin:

    …I always bring a kid or three along. They’re also good for photo-ops.

    This is an example of the sort of analysis I was pointing out, earlier. So, the parents have escaped gang violence or other such. Were they supposed to leave their kids behind in that environment? Now they’re at the US border. They want to cross and request asylum, which is the legal process. Do they leave their kids behind?

    These migrants are between a rock and a hard place. You may not like the choices they made, but they are making their choices under existential duress, with hazards flowing from every possible choice. If an analysis is going to be at all worthwhile, the analyst needs to understand that.

    Grace

  31. 31
    Kate says:

    Ron said:

    I see no particular reason why the Border Patrol agents should presume that a group of people rushing the border in an attempt to cross illegally while throwing rocks and bottles were seeking asylum.

    How about…the news had been reporting on that particular group’s progress and intent for about two months before their arrival?

    Mandolin asked:

    Do you feel like this is an especially dangerous or exceptional moment in terms of immigration? Or do you view it more as an ongoing, constant historical and contemporary problem?

    I think part of the problem is that people do too much “feeling” on this issue. There is actual data we can consult to determine whether problems are getting better or worse and patterns over time we can analyze to get a better understanding of causation.
    I view both illegal immigration and law enforcement abuses as ongoing problems which ebb and flow over time. Presently, we are in a position in which illegal immigration and illegal border crossings are actually declining, while enforcment abuses are increasing.
    So, illegal border crossings became less of a problem over the past ten years. Part of this was the economic crisis in the U.S. coupled with increasing prosperity in Mexico. Part of this was Obama’s tougher border policies. People on the left protested Obama’s policies throughout his time in office. There is no hypocracy there.
    Obama’s policies were enacted to show conservatives that he was negotiating in good faith on immigration. Conservaties vehemently denied that Obama did have tough border policies at the time. Now they are pointing them out to argue that Trump’s policies aren’t really that bad. Conservatives need to choose, either Trump’s policies are tougher than Obama’s were or Trump’s policies are just a continuation of Obama’s policies. You can’t have it both ways.
    My view is that, while Obama’s policies were bad, if he had been sucessful in getting comprehensive immigration reform passed, the ends would have justified the means. But, he wasn’t. So, they didn’t. Rather they set the stage for Trump to enact ever more inhumane policies.
    The detention of children has expanded dramatically:

    According to recent HHS statistics released to Congress and some media outlets, HHS now has in its custody across the country 12,800 undocumented minors – a fivefold increase in the span of 16 months.

    Trump and his advisor, Stephen Miller, have openly advocated threatening people’s children as a deterrent. The children illegally crossing into the U.S. are largely fleeing gang viollence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. If U.S. policy is to act as a deterrent, we must present them with a worse fate than those brutal gangs do. From a human rights perspective, that is unacceptable.

  32. 32
    Harlequin says:

    These figures show that from 2012 to 2016, the final five years of Obama’s tenure as president, CBP agents used CS gas (tear spray) in 79 incidents, which is the equivalent of 15.8 incidents per year, or 1.3 per month.

    And alas, there goes my argument, scattered to the winds by the force of facts. :)

  33. 33
    Kate says:

    And alas, there goes my argument, scattered to the winds by the force of facts. :)

    Sure, the arguement about use of tear gas is overturned (although, as Amp points out, this appears to be unique in that we shot it into Mexico rather than confiining its use to our side of the border).
    But, the U.S. government had two months to prepare for the arrival of these refugees. We could have processed them in accordance with international law and the treaties we signed. We chose not to.

  34. 34
    Erin says:

    Kate: How, concretely, could the United States have “processed” people in the caravan before their arrival at the US border?

    These people bum-rushed the guards at the southern Mexican border and just continued on through Mexico towards the United States. They refused asylum in Mexico. Should the United States have somehow violated Mexican sovereignity and just gone down there and talked directly to these people? I have no clue what you are talking about with “processing” in advance of their arrival.

    Second point to Grace Annam: These people were offered asylum in Mexico. A person with children could have accepted asylum in Mexico. Aside from that, there are always options. If a woman didn’t want her children to be a part of a large mob throwing rocks and bottles at a foreign army with all the resulting possibilities, she could … like … hang back a bit at first, ya’ know? Maybe a few women could have volunteered to stay further back in the town and watch the kids at first. Lots and lots and lots of different options short of bringing kids to a mob action trying to push forth their will in an illegal way. And if I truly had a real case for asylum, the last place I would be is this mob. I would go to a quiet checkpoint, away from the mob, that is provided to report an asylum claim. With a good explanation about why Mexico doesn’t really suit my needs as an asylum host.

    Third, in general, what is the consensus of this board? It sounds like the United States should take no action at all if there is the possibility that a child is in a mob that is surging the border. Further, military troops at the border should not be allowed to defend themselves if the crowd starts throwing rocks and bottles (or even, presumably, if someone in the mob has a gun and starts shooting). It should be like Vietnam, where you are ordered not to shoot back even if the opposing side shoots at you, or preferably no military force should be at the border at all. In any case, it sounds like a mob with a child in it should just be allowed to push its way through the border.

    If that is not the case, how should a mob otherwise be stopped. Concretely?

  35. 35
    Erin says:

    Regarding people here who do not want a hostile mob at the border to be dispersed with tear gas, are you also against any use of tear gas at all in the United States, for instance in the case of riots? It is to be pointed out that children could be in any type of mob or riot situation.

    It is to also be pointed out that some cynical people ARE going to use children as a means for emotional counter-warfare. There are no doubt people who specifically use children as a photo opportunity, with no regard for the exposure that the children have. People do a lot nastier things to children for personal gain, why not that?

  36. 36
    Kate says:

    How, concretely, could the United States have “processed” people in the caravan before their arrival at the US border?

    There are two answers to this question.

    First, in this particular case, I never suggested that they process this group before arrival at the U.S. border. My point was that we had at least two months to make sure we had the personnel in place to process them once they reached our border, instead of closing our border. And, whether you like it or not, anyone who reaches our border has the right to claim asylum here and to get a hearing.

    Second, have you never heard of “embassies” and “consulates”, where goverments can conduct business, like receiving asylum applications, abroad? The Obama administration was processing people in their home countires of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Trump put an end to that.

  37. 37
    Gracchus says:

    “In any case, it sounds like a mob with a child in it should just be allowed to push its way through the border.”

    Yep.

    Also for mobs without children.

    I mean obviously I don’t like the word “mob”, but I’m trying to engage with the essence of your argument.

  38. 38
    Erin says:

    Yep.

    Well, you believe in open borders, which a lot of people do.

    That’s a different kettle of fish; for instance welfare programs would probably not be compatible with open borders, MS-13 can really go to town and maybe turn the US into El Salvador or Honduras, and lots of other stuff, but it’s at least a clear position.

    Lots of open-borders people do not admit what is driving them for some reason. They want open borders (for whatever reason), but they don’t want to say it. You do say it.

    Someone here posted the idea (although it would be in conflict with the US Constitution, for instance full faith & credit) of having open borders to California, and maybe Oregon and Washington, but having a border between California and the rest of the United States. So only US citizens or approved resident aliens could come across from California to the rest of the US. Then just see how it works in California. Maybe it would be a great idea and a boost to the economy there.

  39. 39
    Celeste says:

    These people were offered asylum in Mexico. A person with children could have accepted asylum in Mexico.

    I’ve seen this argument a couple of times in this thread – do you know if the US laws about refugees seeking asylum have an “unless they were offered asylum elsewhere” clause?

  40. 40
    JTV says:

    I’ve seen this argument a couple of times in this thread – do you know if the US laws about refugees seeking asylum have an “unless they were offered asylum elsewhere” clause?

    It just makes it less believable that you are really seeking asylum instead of trying to get into the United States for other (read: economic) reasons.

    I guess you can take the approach of “just let everyone in who says they are seeking asylum without even a plausibility check”, but another way of expressing that is just that you are an open-borders person. Why not just say that instead? If you are not an open-borders person, then you see that a refusal to take asylum in a first country (if you are not being persecuted across the border in some way) makes the claim hard to believe.

  41. 41
    Grace Annam says:

    JTV:

    It just makes it less believable that you are really seeking asylum instead of trying to get into the United States for other (read: economic) reasons.

    Maybe, having escaped gang violence in Honduras and Guatemala, they had formed the opinion that they would rather not settle in another county with a big gang violence problem.

    As long as we’re speculating about their motives and decisions, it seems odd to me to assert that they left everything they knew and travelled the length of Mexico — a distance comparable to the width of the United States — in order to game the system, rather than because they were desperate.

    Grace

  42. 42
    JTV says:

    Grace Annam,

    I’m not speculating about anything. I’m saying that petitions for asylum are not just granted with a rubber stamp, they are checked, and the fact that a person did not take asylum in a third country – with0ut being persecuted across the border – would flow into a decision. It’s a relevant factor, and actually a pretty big one.

    So I guess if you are the attorney appealing a negative decision, you can bring up your arguments.

  43. 43
    Celeste says:

    It just makes it less believable that you are really seeking asylum instead of trying to get into the United States for other (read: economic) reasons.

    Sure, but I didn’t ask about your personal reservations or suspicions – I asked about the law, and whether the ‘close the borders to asylum seekers’ folks understood that what they’re advocating is a violation of it.

    I guess you can take the approach of “just let everyone in who says they are seeking asylum without even a plausibility check”, but another way of expressing that is just that you are an open-borders person.

    I don’t think I’m strawmanning you, please don’t strawman me.

    Did you know that the law, as written, is not actually, “just let everyone in who says they are seeking asylum without even a plausibility check?”

    I mean, look, I’m in favor of changing the asylum process in certain ways, and that’s all well and good, but I’m not even discussing that. I’m talking about (folks who in other circumstances are frankly obsessed with ‘law-and-order’ rhetoric) following the current law.

  44. 44
    JTV says:

    Celeste,

    The US President can determine – and does determine – how many refugees are to be accepted into the United States every year:

    https://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/SLB/HTML/SLB/0-0-0-1/0-0-0-29/0-0-0-1625.html

    Under US law, the United States does not have to accept every (or depending on the targets, almost any) refugee, even ones with the best claims.

    I’m talking about (folks who in other circumstances are frankly obsessed with ‘law-and-order’ rhetoric) following the current law.

    They are following the current law. The United States takes in a target number of refugees every year. You just don’t know what the law is.

  45. 45
    lurker23 says:

    Celeste,
    are we talking about what the law is or what the law should be? i am doing “should be”, when i talk about things like other apply-for-asylum places, or letting in more people. and i think the open borders people are talking about “should be” also.

    so i do not know what the law IS about not taking asylum in mexico in order to get into the us, but i think the law SHOULD BE that we should probably try to help people who are in danger to get out of the danger, but not let them be picky about “not danger” because otherwise it looks like alot of people will just try to say they need asylum to get where they want, like i think is happening now.

  46. 46
    lurker23 says:

    Mandolin says:
    November 29, 2018 at 11:34 am
    Do you feel like this is an especially dangerous or exceptional moment in terms of immigration?

    the caravan made it into an open fight which made it a bigger deal.

    there were a lot of people saying they had the right to come into the us, even if the us did not agree. there were a lot of powerful people helping them do it, and also saying that they would win against the us.

    so in a way it turned into a big fight about “who should make the rules for the us” and “who are the us rules supposed to help, people in the us or everyone else” that was not because the people were any different from other people, but it was because the WAY was so open and it was an open fight.

    it is like saudi arabia right? sa is a horrible country and they do alot of bad things, like kill people, alot of middle eastern countries do bad things. but just like immigration the question “what to do in the middle east” is really complicated and sometimes people in the us are not thinking all that much about specific bad things like killing specific people who are not us citizens.

    so in a way when sa killed the newspaper writer it was not all that different from before. but it was OPEN and so even if you might have not spent a lot of time thinking “i want to prevent SA from killing people” alot of people started saying “this should not happen it needs to stop right now.” same thing, and same people, but different fight.

    so when you have thousands of people saying “we are coming to us like it or not” and other people saying the same thing, and helping them, the caravan is saying “we refuse to stay in mexico” then it becomes a fight that is much bigger and it not about those people anymore.

    analogy again:
    if you did not make a fuss in 2017 about what sa was doing then you could just say you were thinking about something else. but if you do not make a fuss NOW about the writer sa killed you are sort of saying that you think it is okay to kill people like that.

    if you did not spend a lot of time arguing about immigration in 2017 you could just say you were thinking about something else. but if the us did not make a fuss NOW it would be saying that it did not think it should control the border and it should not be able to choose who and how people get into the us.

    think about a police officer. if she sees someone stealing food because they are poor, she might secretly let them go, even if the law does not say so. but if a bunch of people say out loud “we are going to steal food haha and you cannot stop us because we will say we are poor and then you will have to let us go” and other people are looking then she has to stop them or even punish them because it is open.

  47. 47
    Kate says:

    Regarding people here who do not want a hostile mob at the border to be dispersed with tear gas, are you also against any use of tear gas at all in the United States, for instance in the case of riots?

    I wouldn’t say I’m against absolutely any use of tear gas, but I think it is used far too often against people who are merely protesting.

    Well, you believe in open borders, which a lot of people do.

    Lots of open-borders people do not admit what is driving them for some reason. They want open borders (for whatever reason), but they don’t want to say it.

    You, and other conservatives here keep doing this. Most of us are not for open borders. We want a safe, functional border with Mexico, like the one between the U.S. and Canada. Saying it is better if police let some people throwing rocks and bottles and trying to climb over a wall get away than it is to shoot tear gas into a largely peaceful crowd which includes children does not mean that one thinks either throwing things at police or climbing over that wall should be legal. All these people have been filmed for weeks. We know who they are. They can be placed on wanted lists and aprehended later.

    Under US law, the United States does not have to accept every (or depending on the targets, almost any) refugee, even ones with the best claims.

    No one here is claiming that the United States must accept every refugee. We’re saying that under current law any person who presents themselves for asylum at the U.S. border is entitled to a hearing. Even those who are found to be legitimate refugees do not need to be permitted to ultimately settle in the U.S.. They can be sent on to a third, safe country.
    My understanding is that Mexico is not a safe country for people fleeing the violence in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, because the gangs they are fleeing have too strong a presence in Mexico for them to be safe there. However, if the U.S, has reached its annual quota, they might be sent on to Canada, for example.

  48. 48
    J. Squid says:

    Well, you believe in open borders, which a lot of people do.

    That’s a different kettle of fish; for instance welfare programs would probably not be compatible with open borders, MS-13 can really go to town and maybe turn the US into El Salvador or Honduras, and lots of other stuff, but it’s at least a clear position.

    This is pretty funny coming from the same person decrying left wing climate change hysteria in another thread. Like, ROFLMAO, funny. Unless, of course, this is just cynical argumentation…

  49. 49
    lurker23 says:

    Kate says:
    November 30, 2018 at 11:25 am
    We want a safe, functional border with Mexico, like the one between the U.S. and Canada.

    do you think that is psssible?

    canada is a large first world country, bigger than us in land and smaller number of people than in california. also nobody can get there unless they come by boat/plane or from the us. so there is no immigration pressure on canada border.

    mexico is 4x population of canada and not first world, also mexico is the way people get there from south and central america, which is much bigger.

    saying “mexico border should just be like canada” is sort of like saying “finland border with russia should be just like finland border with sweden” it does not match what is in real world.

    Saying it is better if police let some people throwing rocks and bottles and trying to climb over a wall get away than it is to shoot tear gas into a largely peaceful crowd which includes children does not mean that one thinks either throwing things at police or climbing over that wall should be legal.

    maybe do not talk about what is does “not mean” and instead just say what it DOES mean, simpler that way :)

    All these people have been filmed for weeks. We know who they are. They can be placed on wanted lists and apprehended later.

    do you really think so? i think that seems very silly.

    we cannot find even people who are very high on wanted lists and there are many people in the US who are out on a warrant. anyone who knows a lot of immigrants knows someone who has been deported and who snuck back in. i do not think that putting someone on a wanted list because you have a photo of them climbing over a wall is going to do anything and if you do i think you are incredibly wrong.

  50. 50
    Kate says:

    saying “mexico border should just be like canada” is sort of like saying “finland border with russia should be just like finland border with sweden” it does not match what is in real world.

    The U.S. had good relations with both Canada and Mexico. The comparision is not remotely similar. And, I did not say “mexico border should just be like canada”. Sure, there are going to be differences. We need people who speak French at some Canadian border stations, and people who speak Spanisch at all Mexican ones. And, yes, we need more entry points with larger staffs and more facilities for processing people claiming asylum along the border with Mexico than the border with Canada. But, there is no reason why we can’t do that. There is no crisis at the Mexican border.

    Undocumented entries across the border are, in fact, at all-time lows. The mass entry of migrants from Mexico seeking work is over and done with.
    The people now arriving at the border are not Mexican workers, but a much smaller number of families from Central America seeking to escape dire circumstances caused in part by U.S. military intervention in the region during the 1980s.

    And from Bloomberg:

    Why did this happen? Despite some of its regions being mired in a horrifically violent drug war, Mexico’s economy has grown robustly — the country’s per capita gross domestic product, valued at purchasing power parity, is now about $19,500, higher than China’s. Mexico’s fertility rate has also fallen to 2.24 children per woman, just slightly more than the replacement rate of 2.1 — that means people need to stay home to take care of aging parents and take over family businesses, instead of going north to work.

  51. 51
    RonF says:

    Mandolin:

    I mean this in a spirit of total curiosity – I don’t know your answers. Do you feel like this is an especially dangerous or exceptional moment in terms of immigration? Or do you view it more as an ongoing, constant historical and contemporary problem?

    This is not an issue of immigration. It’s an issue of illegal entry into the U.S. I’m fine with the current laws regulating legal immigration. But people who enter the U.S. illegally have put their own interests above obeying American law. I think it’s reasonable to conclude that they will continue to do so once they have entered the U.S. Some of those people have no other criminal intent, but will be forced into break more laws (e.g., working without legal permission to do so, identity fraud or theft, taking public benefits they are not legally entitled to, etc.) simply because of the fact that they are not here legally. Others do have criminal intent; terrorism, drug sales (at either the wholesale or retail level), gang activity, etc. I believe – although I have no data to quantitate it – that the latter is likely increasing.

    We have laws regulating immigration into this country, duly passed by Congress and enacted into law. I do think that illegal entry into the U.S. has been going on for decades. It has not been in the media to the extent it deserves because previous administrations for various reasons have neglected their duty to effectively enforce immigration laws. Democrats wanted to curry favor with Hispanic voters, and Republicans wanted the cheap, exploitable labor. So on that basis what we are seeing now is in large part simply the result of proper enforcement of existing law. I believe that the perception that both parties were ignoring the laws against illegal entry for purposes at odds with the interests of the country at large had a decisive role in Donald Trump’s electoral victory. When elected governments ignore the law for purposes of special interests it is a clear danger to democracy and the rule of law (instead of rule by people) and needs to be repudiated.

    However, I don’t believe that we’ve had groups of 1000’s of people coming to the border in groups before. That is new (at least to me) and would therefore fairly be described as exceptional. I do think it’s dangerous. It’s easier for people to sneak across the border illegally when that happens, and I think that there are people with criminal intent who will figure that this presents a better opportunity to get into the U.S.

  52. 52
    RonF says:

    Amp, @ 29:

    O.K. Apparently I had my facts wrong on that, so I apologize. Now, is it worse under Trump because the BP is using it more freely, or because there are more occurrences of instances where the criteria for using tear gas are met?

    Kate @ 31:

    How about…the news had been reporting on that particular group’s progress and intent for about two months before their arrival?

    “News” coming from clearly biased sources that cannot be counted upon to provide the facts. And the issue at hand with regards to the use of tear gas is not the intent of everyone in the caravans but the intent of the small subset of the caravans that were hitting the Border Patrol agents with rocks and bottles and rushing the border with intent to illegal cross at that point.

    Grace, @ 41:

    Maybe, having escaped gang violence in Honduras and Guatemala, they had formed the opinion that they would rather not settle in another county with a big gang violence problem.

    And that’s the U.S.? I live near Chicago. Since Hispanic immigrants and illegal aliens tend to concentrate in cities such as Chicago, L.A., et. al., they’re still going to see a lot of gang violence here.

  53. 53
    lurker23 says:

    <

    Mandolin said:
    Do you feel like this is an especially dangerous or exceptional moment in terms of immigration

    in a way it is not something that is really different. but also the caravan was very public and that made it from a private fight into an open fight.

    if 1000 people sneak in on the border that is not always really so bad, you would try to stop them and you should try to stop them but the world is big and 1000 people is not so much in a big country or a big world.

    but if the same 1000 people march at the border saying “we will come in and you can’t stop us” and alot of other people say “yes, this is a good idea” and help them, and alot of people in the usa say “we cannot stop them” or “what they want matters and what we want does not matter” then it is an OPEN fight. and when you get into an open fight it has alot of change on what happens in the future, more than other things because it is so open.

    so what made this “exceptional” was that it was OPEN.

    think of saudi arabia. sa is a bad country and does alot of bad things, i knew and everyone else knew that too. but when they killed the journalist it was OPEN and so now alot of people are trying to make more problems for SA than they did before. that is not because the killed someone (they did that before) but because it was open.

    same thing here, it is not because they are sneaking in (they did that before) but because it was open.

  54. 54
    Ampersand says:

    but if the same 1000 people march at the border saying “we will come in and you can’t stop us”

    Citation, please?

  55. 55
    lurker23 says:

    i am confused, do you want a citation for an analogy? i was only trying to answer the question that Mandolin asked about why i thought this situation was “exceptional”

  56. 56
    Ampersand says:

    I’m sorry, I misread you (genuinely) – I thought you were saying that’s what’s actually happening.

    What’s actually happening, as far as I can tell, is that a lot of people were marching on the border with the intention of crossing the border and applying for asylum. Which is legal.

  57. 57
    lurker23 says:

    Ampersand says:
    What’s actually happening, as far as I can tell, is that a lot of people were marching on the border

    i think that was “exceptional”, i also think that there were alot of open statements by people in support which also made it “exceptional”, and alot of other stuff which we have talked about in this thread.

    of course you can think it was not exceptional, you are not me and that is just how opinions work.

  58. 58
    Kate says:

    in a way it is not something that is really different. but also the caravan was very public and that made it from a private fight into an open fight.

    of course you can think it was not exceptional, you are not me and that is just how opinions work.

    Not all opinions are equal. That’s how lazy, uninformed opinions work. Informed opinions seek evidence, both in their favor and against them.
    Waves of migrants, sometimes traveling in large groups for protection from the gangs they are fleeing, have been coming in from Central America on and off since the 1980’s (I’ve linked to pieces with statistics in the thread above). This caravan is not “exceptional”. People have been coming from that region, in similar ways, for nearly 40 years.
    Americans have, to a greater or lesser extent, reacted with xenophobia with every wave. But, on the media side, the rise of talk radio and Fox News in the 1990’s gave these voices a larger platform. I generally don’t consume that media. But, my sense there, primarily from news reports on other outlets, is that they their rhetoric has become more extremist over time, reaching its current level at roughly the time that Obama became president. So, the media rhetoric is not “exceptional” either. Right wing media has been covering refugees with similar rhetoric for at least a decade, and possibly as much as 25 years depending on how you look at it.
    But, today, led by Donald Trump, it seems to me like the rhetoric coming from our political leaders is more intense. This is certainly the contention of the mainstream media, including interviews with presidential historians. I have yet to see anyone cite other presidents making xenophobic comments which parallel Trump’s. This leads the mainstream media to see these stories as worthy of attention, when previously they would have ignored them. This is what I see as exceptional in this particular case. Trump is xenophobe in chief.

  59. 59
    Mandolin says:

    Yeah, I asked because I was wondering whether the conservative folks here have a sense that there has been an ongoing immigration threat — since there has been conservative anti-immigration rhetoric in most time periods — or if there’s a sense that those other moments were rhetorically overblown then, but the position is true now due to exceptional circumstances.

  60. 60
    Ampersand says:

    Hey, folks, I’ve moved several comments focusing mostly on SESTA/FOSTA and Tumblr to the open thread.

  61. 61
    lurker23 says:

    Mandolin says:
    December 4, 2018 at 11:52 am
    Yeah, I asked because I was wondering whether the conservative folks here have a sense that there has been an ongoing immigration threat — since there has been conservative anti-immigration rhetoric in most time periods — or if there’s a sense that those other moments were rhetorically overblown then, but the position is true now due to exceptional circumstances.

    i think that you mean ‘more conservative than you’? i do not think there are alot of people who are actually voting for trump or members of the conservative party, maybe I am wrong, and also i think alot of the arguments here are not really very conservative, they only seem that way when you compare them to very progressive people.

    for example, the debate ‘we should never ever use tear gas’ and ‘we should try not to use tear gas and it’s bad, but it is okay in some limited situations and i think this might be one of the situations’ is not a debate between liberal and conservative, more like between progressive and left centrist.

    But even then you give a choice between two things but i do not think it is a real ‘or’ choice, i do not agree with either of them, it is not a hypothetical, and there are many other choices you do not list.
    for example

    “a sense that there has been an ongoing immigration threat”

    first i think we are not talking about ‘immigration’ but more about what seems to be illegal or at least not-legal immigration, and trying to mix those two things up will make the conversation very hard.

    if you do not like the word ‘illegal’ or if we get into alot of fights about what is legal/not-legal we can try to agree on some other term! i think the real difference for most people who are arguing about this is between ‘immigration that the usa chooses and wants’ and ‘immigration that the us does not choose and does not want’ so maybe we need words for that?
    ‘wanted immigration’ and ‘unwanted immigration’ would work, maybe?

    and of course ‘wanted immigration’ is not a threat at all, it is good. ‘unwanted immigration’ can be a threat i guess but i do not think of it as a threat. it is just bad because we don’t want it and so we should try to have less of it, and we should also protect our ability to have what we want and make choices that are what we want. but that is like alot of other things, not all bad things are threats.

    OR if there’s a sense that those other moments were rhetorically overblown then, but the position is true now due to exceptional circumstances.

    i do not like the ‘or’ like i said, also i do not think it really matters whether people were ‘rhetorically overblown’ before or not. there are alot of people who are overblown on both sides i think, maybe even this editorial cartoon. i am interested in what happens more than the overblown part.

    i do think that the arguments have changed over time so that what is public and what is not public make things different. and of course the country and the politics have changed alot too.

  62. 62
    Chris says:

    Erin:

    MS-13 can really go to town and maybe turn the US into El Salvador or Honduras, and lots of other stuff

    This is just stupid. MS-13 started in the U.S. and migrated outward. It isn’t even the biggest or most violent gang in Central America. Fearmongering about MS-13 in regards to the current wave of immigration is a clear tipoff that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about, and gets their news from xenophobic liars.

  63. 63
    Chris says:

    I really don’t understand why one must be for “open borders” in order to oppose teargassing children under the circumstances we’ve seen here. I keep seeing the question, “What, so we just let them in?” posed as if that’s in any way a hard one to answer. Yes, if a mob is trying to cross the border and there are children present, letting them in is *absolutely* preferable to teargassing children. It isn’t ideal, but it is far preferable.

  64. 64
    Ampersand says:

    I’m not convinced that this was a “mob,” rather than a largely peaceful protest plus a few rock-throwers. I don’t condone rock-throwing, but I also don’t think it’s fair to call a group of a hundred or more a “mob” because of a few rock throwers.

    (According to the border patrol, there were four agents hit with rocks, none of whom were injured. It seems very likely that if there were dozens of people throwing rocks at the agents, there would have been more than four hits.)

  65. 65
    Chris says:

    Good point—I regret using that term.

  66. 66
    Kate says:

    first i think we are not talking about ‘immigration’ but more about what seems to be illegal or at least not-legal immigration, and trying to mix those two things up will make the conversation very hard.
    if you do not like the word ‘illegal’ or if we get into alot of fights about what is legal/not-legal we can try to agree on some other term! i think the real difference for most people who are arguing about this is between ‘immigration that the usa chooses and wants’ and ‘immigration that the us does not choose and does not want’ so maybe we need words for that?
    ‘wanted immigration’ and ‘unwanted immigration’ would work, maybe?

    No, it won’t work for me, for two reasons.
    First of all, the legality of presenting oneself to authorities to claim asylum after crossing the border is not up for debate. It is legal under current law, as recently upheld in court. A good summary:

    Under federal law, anyone from another country can seek asylum — and therefore entry into the U.S. — by claiming to have fled their countries out of fear of persecution over their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Immigrants are eligible to apply for asylum for up to one year after their entry into the U.S., and can apply whether they entered the country legally or illegally. Immigrants who have been in the country longer than one year can also apply for asylum status if they meet certain criteria, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security. More recently, asylum seekers have also been granted status due to their gender and sexual orientation. source

    Second, there is no consensus that refugees are “unwanted”. Many of us consider embracing people who are fleeing persecution in their home countries to be a fundamental part of what makes us American…or think it ought to be.

  67. 67
    lurker23 says:

    kate,

    i think it would be okay to have a discussion where we agree to use “legal” and “not-legal” as a rule, if you want to agree that “legal” is okay and “not-legal” is bad. then people can just focus on the law and agree to follow the law, or change it if they can.

    but i do not really think you want to do that? it seems to me that you want to use law things when it helps you and not really when it does not help you and at some point we may as well agree that it is pretty much the same thing as just saying “i want what i want” and not “i want what is legal.”

    like when you say

    Many of us consider embracing people who are fleeing persecution in their home countries to be a fundamental part of what makes us American…or think it ought to be.

    if you want to use the law then you are stuck with what the law says now or in the future if it changes, and what “many of us consider to be fundamental” does not matter unless it is law, and consensus does not matter too.

    if you just want to say what you think, which is much more interesting, then it is not about law after all, right? that is okay of course but we should stop arguing about what the law is online i think.

    First of all, the legality of presenting oneself to authorities to claim asylum after crossing the border is not up for debate.

    i am sure it is up for debate, everything is up for debate. maybe it is legal or not, i am not a lawyer, but i still know that it seems like all laws are debated alot, maybe even more than most things. (and like i said, it does not make sense to look only at laws when you like them and not when you dont like them.)

  68. 68
    Kate says:

    if you want to agree that “legal” is okay and “not-legal” is bad

    it seems to me that you want to use law things when it helps you and not really when it does not help you and at some point we may as well agree that it is pretty much the same thing as just saying “i want what i want” and not “i want what is legal.”

    Absolutely not! I can’t imagine why it would seem that way. There are plenty of laws that I don’t think are “okay”. I still acknowledge their existence. There are plenty of things that are legal that I don’t thing are okay. Some I would like to see legislated, others not. There even some things that are not legal, that I don’t think are actually that bad. I wouldn’t try arguing that they actually are legal.
    If I think a law is wrong, I don’t pretend it doesn’t exist. I argue that it should be changed, or perhaps that it is unconstitutional (if I think there are actually grounds for that). I think that we should allow more economic migrants than we do. I acknowledge that, according to current law, we do not. I don’t argue that those laws are unconstituional, because I don’t think there are any grounds to make that claim. In short, I accept reality, even if it doesn’t conform to my ideal.
    In the case of refugees, they have the right to present for assylum when they enter the U.S., even if the way they entered would have been illegal for someone who didn’t have that intent (motive matters in law). The links I provided show that this view has just recently been upheld in court, which makes it the current law until another decision reverses that, or the law is changed. People arguing that they aren’t against immigration, but just illegal immigration should not be against refugees presenting for asylum, if that is really their criteria for judgement.

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