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Rachel Marsden: Trump first president to bring immigration to forefront

U.S. President Donald Trump has shown that he’s willing to shut down the government to get funding to build a wall on the border with Mexico. Regardless of whether you agree that a wall would solve America’s immigration problems, what’s notable is that Trump is the first president to truly bring the immigration issue to the forefront of the national agenda as opposed to just paying lip service to it.

Trump’s modus operandi is to shock with an outrageous demand, pound his fist hard on the table, flip conventional wisdom on its head and try to force the reconsideration of the immigration issue. Critics should view this as an opportunity, not as an outrage.

There’s one person who could push back effectively against Trump by seeing how the president handles a taste of his own medicine, and this person is not in Washington or even in America. It’s Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Since taking office, Trump has canceled the temporary residency permits issued to immigrants by previous administrations for humanitarian reasons. Many of those immigrants have tried to obtain asylum in Canada by entering the country illegally at unofficial crossing points.

Trudeau should insist that the U.S. pay to house, feed and support the displaced migrants who flee to Canada, because that’s exactly what Trump has demanded of Mexico with migrants attempting to cross into the U.S. from the south.

Fortunately for Trump, it’s not very likely that he would face such a demand. Instead, migrants entering Canada from the U.S. are welcomed, sheltered and paid by Canadian taxpayers.

Immigration has become a key pillar of globalist orthodoxy. Adherence to that orthodoxy supersedes the chance to test Trump for hypocrisy while defending the principle of national sovereignty that borders represent.

Trump has dug in his heels even though a lot of establishment figures treat the immigration issue like political kryptonite. Late last year, Trump ordered troops to the border to prevent caravans of asylum seekers from crossing. Under previous administrations, migrant caravans probably would have been allowed to cross into the U.S. and disappear into the ether.

It’s especially ludicrous to not have a clue about who’s crossing the southern border when you consider what foreign citizens in the employment-based “extraordinary ability” immigration category have to go through to live in America.

These aspiring immigrants must hire lawyers at considerable expense, compile multiple letters of reference and proof of background, pay thousands of dollars and then cross their fingers that the U.S. government deems them worthy of the temporary right to live and work in the U.S. What’s the point of having extensive vetting processes — or any immigration policies at all — when the back door is wide open?

Trump’s pushback on longstanding globalist policies, including immigration, has critics in both parties complaining that the president’s actions represent an affront to American values. What Washington elites never seem to reflect upon is the role that establishment conventional wisdom has played in creating the immigration problem.

Whenever Trump has expressed a desire to reel in U.S. foreign intervention, there has been significant resistance from the establishment. Critics should be doing some soul searching, asking themselves why constant meddling in Central American and South American affairs has failed to bring stability and economic prosperity to that part of the world. People don’t abandon their homes when they’re content with life.

Establishment types on both the left and right demand that the U.S. continue to meddle in other countries’ affairs despite the absence of a true threat to the U.S. homeland. This is a major cause of the global migration crisis, and Trump’s aversion to foreign intervention is a way of attacking the problem at its source.

As Trump’s critics continue to support U.S. intervention in the Middle East and Africa, will they also take responsibility for creating new migration problems that not only place legitimate asylum seekers in a precarious position but also force Americans to adopt an increasingly defensive view of the world?

Cal Thomas: Who wins wall battle less important than what's best for country

Despite advance billing that President Trump’s border wall speech would break news and contain new information, it was mostly familiar rhetoric: criminals and drugs, rapists and murderers are coming to America and the wall is the only way to stop them.

The president named families who have lost loved ones at the hands of undocumented immigrants. A case could be made, though, that American citizens are killing each other at higher rates during an average weekend in Chicago and other big cities than are killed by immigrants.

Whose facts to believe? There are plenty on both sides of the argument. Raul Ortiz, the deputy chief of Border Patrol agents, says his agents are arresting up to 641 undocumented immigrants every day. Other sources say arrests and border crossings have substantially declined in recent years.

What frustrates average Americans is the flip-flopping by politicians who were for a border wall and holding people who broke our laws accountable before they were against it.

These include Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer, all of whom once championed stronger border security. When he was a senator from Illinois in 2006, Obama said: “Those who enter our country illegally and those who employ them disrespect the rule of law. And because we live in an age where terrorists are challenging our borders, we simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented and unchecked. Americans are right to demand better border security and better enforcement of our immigration laws.”

Those remarks are in line with what President Trump is now saying.

The president tweeted a comment Hillary Clinton made as recently as 2015 to underscore his claim of hypocrisy by Democrats: “I voted, when I was a senator, to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in.”

Some pundits and their Democratic allies claim that the decline in the number of people crossing the southern border is proof that a wall or other barrier is not needed. But a case could be made — and the White House made it in a statement — that walls already in place are proof that barriers work.

Since San Diego built its wall in 1992, the statement notes, apprehensions of illegal aliens have declined by 92 percent; El Paso, Texas erected a wall in 1993 and illegal border crossings dropped 72 percent the first year and 95 percent over 22 years; Tucson built its wall in 2000 and apprehensions dropped 90 percent over 15 years; Yuma’s wall went up in 2005, contributing to a decline in crossings of 95 percent over nine years.

Yes, many went to other places where they could cross more easily, but that’s an argument for expanding the wall or constructing other barriers.

Schumer and Pelosi challenged the president in a sleight-of-hand deal to re-open the part of government that is closed and then continue the debate about a wall. That reminds me of the “deal” offered to President George H.W. Bush by then-Speaker Jim Wright (D-Texas). Wright said Congress would cut spending if Bush would OK a tax increase. Bush was blamed for the tax hike, never got the spending cuts and lost his re-election bid.

In the end it is going to be a battle of images. One image is of people trying to cross the border illegally, throwing rocks, a few engaging in criminal activity; the other image is of 800,000 suffering federal employees going without paychecks.

Which side will win is less important than what is best for America. If only more politicians cared about that higher goal.

Midwest perspectives: Farm bill boosts conservation; Secretary of State must be impartial; Border wall remains nonsensical

Farm bill boosts conservation

Each year, the federal government receives applications from Nebraska farmers seeking to participate in the Agricultural Conservation Easements Program. The applications are rated according to their potential to protect and bolster habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife.

The program protected more than 80,000 acres of Nebraska wetlands and other lands, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says, and strengthened under the new five-year farm bill.passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump

The farm bill boosts the Agricultural Conservation Easements Program by $450 million a year, says Jim Douglas, the director of Game and Parks. As a result, he says, the commission will be able to “do even more work with landowners, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency and our partner organizations to provide habitat essential for maintaining healthy wildlife populations in Nebraska.”

Such easements are important in Nebraska because almost all wildlife habitat in the state is on privately owned lands. They area win-win, allowing farmers to pursue cultivation while preserving vital wildlife habitat.

- Omaha World-Herald

Secretary of State must be impartial

Incoming Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen has big shoes to fill. The office holder Evnen will replace, John Gale, is retiring after 18 years as our state’s top election official.

One of Gale’s first acts came in 2000 in reaction to Florida’s presidential election debacle in which scores of ballots were disqualified, causing some voters to feel disenfranchised. Under Gale, Nebraska became one of the first states to modernize its election technology with ballot tabulation equipment and statewide computerized voter registration.

The paper ballots and scanning technology introduced in 2000 remain tamper-proof and contribute to Nebraskans’ faith that their votes are counted and accurately recorded.

Evnen should continue the focus on election integrity and increasing voter participation. Rather than seeking the solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, Evnen should keep voter ID on the shelf and instead continue the push to register more voters and promote larger election turnouts. We have to believe Nebraskans are more concerned about outside hacking than the possibility of voter fraud throwing an election.

- Kearney Hub

Border wall remains nonsensical

With illegal immigration at its lowest level in a decade, it’s nothing short of stunning that the federal government is shut down over funding for a border wall. The reality is that immigration from Mexico has been decreasing since 2007, and the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. is at its lowest level since 2004, according to the Pew Research Center.

Further, the majority of illegal immigration to the United States from Mexico occurs in and around heavily secured ports of entry like San Diego, El Paso and Brownsville, Texas, where 654 miles of wall, fencing and other barriers already exist. Spending billions to build a structure along vast, rural stretches of the border doesn’t help with security at the sections of the border that most need help.

No one is arguing for unsecure borders. The newly installed Democratic Congress voted Thursday to approve a stopgap funding bill that would reopen the federal government and provide $1.3 billion for border security in the form of manpower and equipment but not a wall. Trump has said he won’t sign it, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to let a bill come to the Senate floor that the president won’t sign.

Trump may feel he is being true to his base of ardent supporters, among whom the border wall ranked high on their list of priorities. But his focus is sorely misplaced.

- Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World