Monday, September 04, 2006

Border economics 101

As the United States throws billions more at border enforcement, it's worth looking at big picture trends affecting border economics that frame how officials must address immigration enforcement and drug smuggling operations.

This morning I listened to a couple of hours from a hearing of the Texas House Border and International Affairs Committeee from August 22. (See the broadcast for yourself.) You didn't need to hear much of the testimony to realize that recently stepped up border security plans like Operation Linebacker and the National Guard deployment won't significantly reduce illegal immigration or drug smuggling.

According to Mike Allen of the Texas Border Coalition, expansion of the US Border Patrol and National Guard presence along the border has focused so far only on areas between the checkpoints. But no new staff, he said, has been added to process legal migration through regular "ports of entry." That tells me the new deployments ignore most cross-border traffic, including traffic in illegal immigration and drugs, most of which still comes through regular checkpoints.

If it were only that new spending won't help much, things might not be so bad. What's less often emphasized is how border security's failure to accomodate trade and commerce harms Texas' and the US economy. Currently, Texas businesses earn $128 billion per year from exports to foreign countries; Texas exports to Mexico account for $45 billion of that.

The situation is untenable already. In the next few years, though, the crush will become worse due to massive new freight traffic, the committee was told, not just from Mexico and Latin America but the Pacific Rim. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are overwhelmed with backed up shipments and a massive pollution problem that prevents their expansion. So new ports on Baja and further down the Mexican coast will take on the load, plus a new inland shipping center in central Mexico and related highway expansion to funnel the goods through Laredo and up I-35.

That translates into a lot more legitimate, economically necessary traffic crossing the border. Freight demands on the US west coast due to Pacific Rim imports are increasing at an astonishing rate, equivalent to one port of Vancouver per year. So expect ever-more pressure on the major points of entry from Mexico in the next few years, and many more opportunities for smuggling operations of all types to go unregulated.

Allen told the committee that the border region can no longer compete with the Pacific Rim on cheap labor, its historic competitive advantage. The border's emerging advantage compared to Asia, he said, lies in "logistics," i.e., the ability to transform the area into a transportation hub.

That's where ham-handed border security measures cause trouble. Already on the southern side, traffic is backed up for miles each day waiting to pass through checkpoints, exacerbated by the post-NAFTA boom in maquiladora plants, (foreign-owned businesses on the Mexican side that import raw materials, component parts, or other property into Mexico duty free to be used in manufacturing, primarily for export). The lack of additional staff at those checkpoints is stalling legitimate commerce, even as the number of Border Patrol agents multiplies.


Anonymous said...

mike allen is just after funding for the city of mcallen bridge.

StopKinky said...

Here's Kinky's latest blather on immigration:

"My immigration policy is 'Remember the Alamo.'"

Would someone please tell Kinky that "Remember the Alamo" isn't an immigration policy?

Kinky's latest comments reported by Brandi Grissom of the El Paso Times are distrubing. Kinky says Mexico should face what he calls the "Israeli discount," and Kinky insists our immigration policy should be "ruthless." Here is what else the El Paso Times reports:

He said he supports groups such as the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps because they draw attention to problems on the border.

Asked about his own strategy for securing the border, Friedman said, "I'm not sure. I don't have a plan."

He said he would appoint people who care about the state to develop a plan based on his motto: "Remember the Alamo."

Border safety has deteriorated, Friedman said, because politicians are too afraid to offend Hispanics and get tough on the Mexican government.

"I would tell them (Mexican government officials) to step up to the plate and pay their fair share of the cost illegals are costing the state of Texas," he said. "If they don't do that, then I want the border on the nightly news every night."...

Responding to Friedman's suggestion that Texas should treat its border as Israel does, Black said: "Wow. That kind of rhetoric is irresponsible. It's not real. It's cartoon rhetoric."

Until this latest about face on the immigration issue, Kinky had been bragging that his Five Mexican Generals plan was a great idea:

“When I talk about the five Mexican generals, people think I’m joking but I’m dead serious. I will divide the border into five jurisdictions, assigning one Mexican general to each and providing a trust fund for that general. Every time a person crosses illegally, we subtract $5,000 from the trust fund.”

Of course, this isn't the first time Kinky has flip-flopped on immigration reform. Kinky has also recently added amnesty for illegal aliens into his grab-bag of doubtable ideas regarding border security. With his announcement that Kinky now favors "amnesty for hard-working illegal immigrants already in this country," Kinky bragged that "I’ve been urging action on the border for over a year."

Going back and listing all the bad ideas that Kinky has proposed with regard to border security makes for very interesting reading.

For example, as the Austin American Statesman noted, "His position on immigration has been wobbly. On March 28, his campaign provided a statement describing Friedman as favoring a guest worker program and language classifying illegal immigrants as felons."

Kinky issued this press release supporting "the construction of 700 miles of security fence along the U.S.-Mexico border and which would make illegal immigration a felony," but Kinky withdrew this press release.

But Kinky has repeatedly mentioned building a fence, and after saying that he would seek the Mexican president's help, Kinky agreed with Bill O'Reilly that we cannot trust Mexico's President to assist with immigration enforcement:

FRIEDMAN: And I want them to help. I mean, good fences...
O'REILLY: Absolutely. That's what they're there for.
FRIEDMAN: ...Good fences make good neighbors, and, Mr. Fox, help us build that fence.
O'REILLY: Well, don't count on help from Mr. Fox because he's getting so much money from this illegal immigration back there.
FRIEDMAN: That's true.

I guess if you don't like Kinky's immigration policy, just wait a while and it will flip the opposite direction.

The internal crosstabs at the latest SurveyUSA poll show that Kinky has the least support of all the candidates among likely Hispanic voters.

Could it be the newspaper interviews where Kinky promises to take "a harder line on immigration" than any of the other candidates and where Kinky says the Tejano protesters marching in favor of immigration reform are "half playing hooky"?

Could it be the other newspaper interviews where Kinky says "Mexico is not a poor country" and "I will divide the border into five jurisdictions, assigning one Mexican general to each and providing a trust fund for that general"?

Maybe it's those interviews where Kinky says "all of these politicians are afraid of offending Hispanics ... I want the border off the evening news until we get something resolved." (Oddly, Kinky now says "I want the border on the nightly news every night" -- just one more 180 degree flip flop on his immigration policy).

Obviously, Kinky is not "afraid of offending Hispanics" – or Black voters, for that matter.

The crosstabs at the SurveyUSA poll show that Kinky has the least support of all the candidates among Black voters. Kinky's support among likely Black voters is down to 6% and down even lower to 4% among those racial minorities who did not list their race. Kinky's paltry level of support is less than half the support among Black voters than even notoriously unpopular Governor Perry receives.

Why is Kinky's support so low among likely Black voters?

What could be diminishing Kinky's support in the Black community to less half the level of the widely disliked governor?

Could it be this video from Kinky's appearance last November on CNBC's "The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch" where Kinky explained his view that criminals should be punished by locking them in prison and making them "listen to a Negro talking to himself"?

Could that be why Kinky is so distrusted in the Black community?

Or perhaps Kinky is so unpopular among Black voters because Donny Deutsch asked if Kinky's statement was possibly a little racist, and Kinky replied that "Negro is a charming word."

If Kinky thinks "Negro is a charming word," I can only guess what Kinky thinks about the phrase "tar baby." The last time Kinky ran for public office, when he ran openly as a Republican, Kinky lost and he was bitter about it. Kinky said he was leaving “that worthless tar baby that is politics.” Just count that as one more broken promise.

No wonder Kinky is the least popular candidate among minority voters in Texas.


Gritsforbreakfast said...

To be fair, Allen wasn't the only one making that analysis - several stats in the article came from a UT Pan Am prof and other speakers, including the prediction about increasing freight loads from the Pacific Rim.

As for Kinky, my feelings about the Governor's race are similar to the sentiment expressed years ago by Jim Hightower: If God intended for us to vote, he'd have given us candidates. I don't really like any of them.

markm said...

"Remember the Alamo"??? I'd recommend a trip to San Antonio and actually reading the list of the men killed defending the Alamo. There are lots of Spanish names on that list. Texas wasn't the only Mexican province that revolted against Santa Anna, just the only one that won.

Anonymous said...

Texas' rebellion against Mexico was a direct reaction to Mexico abolishing slavery.

I wonder if Kinky remembers that!

Anonymous said...

To One and All,

You have got to love seeing all these political parasite supporters trying to save their jobs!!! You guys are the best advertisement KINKY could hope for, FACT!!! For the first time in my memory, and I am a " SEVERAL " generation TEXSAN, we have a chance to elect a NON POLITICIAN!!! AND I AM FOR IT!! Can you honestly say your happy with the politics in TEXAS??? You got both Perry and Strayhorn " BOTH " career politicians, FACT! TIME IS UP!!! If you were going to do ANYTHING , IT WOULD HAVE ALREADY BEEN DONE, PERIOD!!!! No more excuses, PERIOD!!! Everybody said Jesse Ventura couldn't win either, AND HE DID!!!! Now look at his states healthcare, one of the best in the nation!!!!


Just like on here, we all need to watch as the status quo tries to cut KINKIES throat! That tells all of us , just how much they are afraid of him! PERRY , PACK YOUR BAGS!!!!

Go to and get your own truth!!!!

Rusty White