July 22, 2017

Columnist Ruben Navarrette Is Reluctant to Credit Trump For Border Crossings Plunge

Friday morning on Fox & Friends, Washington Post Writers Group columnist Ruben Navarrette, Jr. gave President Donald Trump only grudging and partial credit for the steep decline in illegal border crossings from Mexico into the U.S. so far this year. Navarrette’s “logic,” which went unchallenged by host Steve Doocy, ignored several policy-related Trump administration announcements which have had direct impact, and failed to recognize how the tone which has been set at the administration’s highest levels has had an impact on how the law is enforced on the ground.

Navarrette has been called “the most widely read Latino columnist in the country.” His general posture towards Trump wasn’t particularly difficult to research. His threatening May 24 column tells readers all they need to know about his mindset (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Trump’s Latino enablers will be neither forgiven nor forgotten

… Latinos — especially Mexican-Americans … are currently debasing themselves by auditioning for the reality show known as the Trump administration.

… Hispanic business leader (President and CEO Javier Palomarez of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) recently went over to the dark side by joining Trump’s National Diversity Coalition. He even bragged that he helped broker a meeting between Latina entrepreneurs and Ivanka Trump …

If you’re Latino and working for the Trump White House, or jockeying for access, you ought to be ashamed. Have you no self-respect?

Attention, Trump’s Latino enablers. You’re on notice. If you help the president shaft us, history will not be kind. And your betrayal will be neither forgiven nor forgotten.

It has apparently not occurred to Navarrette that many legal immigrants who endured the process of becoming citizens justifiably oppose granting amnesty or special favors to those who have come to this country illegally — especially legal citizens originally from Mexico and other Central American countries who now see the media and government officials simply assuming that, solely because of their ethnic background, they support the wave of illegal immigration which has gone on for decades.

In June of last year, CBS News apparently had little difficulty finding “a handful of Mexican-Americans in Texas border towns who echo this sentiment that that they have played by the rules, so others should be made to as well.” These people clearly won’t feel “shafted” if the Trump administration continues to enforce the law, and won’t be intimidated by Navarrette’s now-documented threat.

How interesting, then, that Navarrette appeared on Fox & Friends and tried to come across as a reasonable, level-headed guy, while making laughably false claims about sanctuary cities and claiming that ICE agents alone deserve most of the credit.

Doocy opened the full interview segment by nothing that under Trump, illegal border crossings are down 70 percent, illegal immigration-related arrests inside the country are up 40 percent, and “demands for removal” are up 80 percent.

The host then asked Navarrette about the news that ICE will have “10,000 more agents out on the street enforcing the laws of the land.”

After saying that it’s a good idea to have ICE agents instead of local law enforcement enforcing immigration laws, the columnist bizarrely claimed that the move:

does vindicate people like me and others who have said for a long time that sanctuary cities are mostly symbolic. They have no power, no authority. The federal government can go in there any time it wants and this proves it.”

Navarrette conveniently ignored the fact that many sanctuary cities’ top officials have specifically instructed their law enforcement officials to keep their cooperation with ICE at an absolute minimum, including “fail(ing) to honor immigration detainers and releas(ing) serious criminal offenders” who should be deported out onto the streets.

It didn’t seem possible, but it Navarette got even more bizarre.

Doocy pointed out that when the Obama-era Department of Justice said “Don’t” go into sanctuary cities, ICE agents “have to listen.” Here’s Navarrette’s response:

They gotta listen, but they find ways around it. Y’know, my dad was a cop for 37 years, and cops have a nice way of getting around various regulations. In this case, under Obama, those ICE agents, when they “stood down” (makes “scare quotes” with his hands) they deported 3 million people in eight years.

Doocy’s pathetic response: “Absolutely.”

As to the deportation numbers, Navarrette is almost certainly aware that the Obama administration achieved its artificially high number of deportations by toying with the procedures involved, as the Los Angeles Times reported in April 2014 while reassuring readers that the Obama administration wasn’t genuinely tough on immigration enforcement:

… the number of people deported at or near the border has gone up — primarily as a result of changing who gets counted in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s deportation statistics.

… Until recent years, most people caught illegally crossing the southern border were simply bused back into Mexico in what officials called “voluntary returns,” but which critics derisively termed “catch and release.” Those removals, which during the 1990s reached more 1 million a year, were not counted in Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s deportation statistics.

Now, the vast majority of border crossers who are apprehended get fingerprinted and formally deported.

“If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero — it’s just highly unlikely to happen,” John Sandweg, until recently the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in an interview.

As to ICE agents working around regulations, it’s very hard to imagine that many were, simply because of the continued employment and career risks involved.

Navarrette then expanded on his claim that sanctuary cities are a sham, “because local residents will rebel, and they have before … if sanctuary city policies lead to an unsafe environment.”

Sure, Ruben. How has that worked out in San Francisco after Kate Steinle’s murder, which was made possible by that city’s sanctuary policies? Meanwhile, the city’s residents and tourists suffered a mind-boggling 25,899 vehicle break-ins in 2015. If that’s not an “unsafe environment,” I don’t know what is. Yet both the city and the State of California have since doubled down on their sanctuary defiance.

Finally, Doocy asked Navarrette for his take on the dramatic drop in illegal border crossings. As seen in the video’s final segment below, the Post group columnist seriously downplayed the Trump administration’s role in this result:

Navarrette’s answer (eliminating repetition caused by Doocy not fully hearing all of what he originally said):

RUBEN NAVARRETTE, JR: Yeah, these are complicated things. This is not just because of President Trump. It’s because of the economy in Mexico, some apprehension about coming into United States. And also some really creative policies by ICE. I give them credit. They have found ways to discourage border crossings.

… They found ways to create situations, for instance,they separate families at the border. It’s created a disincentive to cross the border.

So I give a lot more credit to ICE agents on the ground, or Border Patrol agents on the ground, than I do the White House.

So the economy in Mexico is improving? Perhaps, but slowly, given forecasts of 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent economic growth this year in a country whose GDP per capita is less than one-third of that seen in the U.S.

Apprehension about coming into the U.S.? That would seem to be taking place because the odds of successfully crossing and being able to stay have gone down.

Even if one agrees that “creative policies by ICE” have contributed to this, we now have an administration where creative ideas designed to reduce and discourage illegal border crossings will be rewarded and not punished. Why? Because the tone set at the top of the Trump administration, which is so obviously different than that seen under Obama, enables creative solutions to be tried instead of potentially punished.

Navarrette is simply reflexively disposed not to significantly credit the Trump administration for any accomplishment, regardless of the evidence right in front of his face. He also conveniently ignored the surely noticed administration announcements concerning the official end of “catch and release,” the implementation of a “sweeping plan to deport undocumented immigrants,” and the Department of Justice’s virtual declaration of war on and dozens of arrests of those involved in gangs whose members are predominantly in this country illegally.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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