Border Control is Prohibition 2.0

Here’s a reminder that US border control efforts are remarkably similar to the Prohibition era.

Back then, American officials deliberately distributed poisonous alcohol. No one knows how many people they killed and blinded — quite likely 10,000. They openly claimed that people who drank alcohol during Prohibition deserved what they got.

Prohibition created new opportunities for organized crime to terrorize cities and corrupt state and federal offices. It diverted federal resources from public health, jobs programs, and education at a crucial time. It promoted lawlessness among authorities and police forces.

It ruined millions of lives in the pursuit of no higher ideal than forcing an ideology upon public policy, in the absence of any serious national conversation about the costs and benefits of the program.

And now federal agents literally get away with murder, national and state legislators invent new ways to defy the Constitution and subvert democratic process, and the President continues to maintain his conspiracy against the American people on a foundation of racist propaganda and hate-mongering. The bitter, survivor-syndrome humor of the “But her emails!” meme is understandable. But to reflect a serious reality, it should really be: “But the illegal immigrants!”

Our entire electoral process, our legislative bodies, our political will, are entirely paralyzed by anti-immigrant hysteria, when no one can say clearly why exactly unaccredited, unofficial immigration into the United States — which free-market zealots should recognize is controlled by economic forces anyway, no matter what legal bounds are set — is a problem, much less why it is a problem of such magnitude as to justify dividing families, exiling members of the armed forces who have served this country in battle, wrecking the national agricultural and service economy, and running scientists, doctors, and educators out of the country.

Without immigration hysteria, no Trump, no Pence, no Republican majority. Until some of the leaders of political discourse and policy analysis find the integrity and courage to ask why undocumented immigration is a real problem — to propose meaningful prospects for “immigration reform,” which can only mean loosening, not tightening, requirements — any serious effort at political alignment, and at saving us from committing our future into the hands of authoritarians and would-be despots, is futile, and the United States poisons itself with no hope of an antidote.

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