Sunday, October 30, 2016

Overhyped DPS border stats debunked, again, surprising no one who's paid attention

No one should be surprised that the Department of Public Safety overstated the number of "high risk" arrests they made as part of the border surge, as AP's Paul Weber ably reported last week. "Among the 'high-threat' incidents was a trailer that unlatched from an RV and rolled into oncoming traffic, killing another driver in a town more than 150 miles from the border. Other crimes lumped in with suspected killers and human traffickers were speeding teenagers and hit-and-runs that caused no serious injuries."

A scornful Caller Times editorial noted that, "many of these arrests turned out to be for drunken driving, failure to pay child support and minor drug possession. The DPS didn't bother to differentiate user amounts from smuggler amounts in its statistics. It also considered 60 counties to be border-region, which undoubtedly would tax the imaginations of even our best and brightest middle school geography teachers." Nearly half of the "high risk"  incidents were drug possession arrests, but mostly user level amounts, not big-time traffickers. State Rep. Terry Canales rightly chided the agency's hubris, "I would say it's shocking that a person arrested with a small amount of cocaine in Odessa is used to show supposedly high-threat criminal arrests on the Texas-Mexico border."

Grits readers may recall that this isn't the first time deceptive statistics have been used to justify Texas' dubious border security spending.

From the start, DPS has used loaded, overhyped language to justify a wasteful and unnecessary $800 million per biennium border "surge." The level of criminality Col. Steve McCraw near constantly attributes to the Texas border is simply false and always has been, a politicized misrepresentation held over from the days when his former boss and patron, then-Gov. Rick Perry, hoped the Texas border buildup would elevate him to the American presidency. From about 2006 on, Perry clearly understood the rising white voter animosity against Spanish speaking immigrants that Donald Trump has lately tapped into, conflating illegal immigration with drug smuggling and Islamic terrorism in ways that this blog called out as demagoguery. But to borrow and reverse a framing from Michelle Obama, when Perry went low, Trump went lower, calling Mexicans rapists and criminals in sweeping terms that the governor's sense of decency wouldn't allow him to match. The lesson: Among that pocket of voters, the "toughest," angriest message sells the best. Truth, until now, has been a mostly optional component of so-called "border security" debates.

With an oil-price-generated budget crunch upon us, there's no cost-benefit analysis which justifies Texas spending another $800 million on this boondoggle next session. If the Lege continues the effort, it will be to pander to Trumpian fears among white voters of some phony, imminent, brown-skinned takeover. The actual crime threat in border communities, which include some of the safest cities in the state, never justified what Texas has done in the name of homeland security.


Anonymous said...

Who's making the money out of this fiasco?

The Old Skool Preacher said...

The politicians who are peddling the bull shit; the cost is coming out of the pocket of the taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Trump has merely pointed to instances where Obama immigration policy has resulted in criminals who commit crimes in the USA have not been deported as they should be. What makes these cases notable is when the person goes on to commit bigger crimes like rape and murder. Public accountability is absent and Trump is on good ground to complain. The nation also deserves fair immigration policies. Period. The Good news for Texas is that you'll be getting a free wall. Well, free unless you are Mexican.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@7:01, thanks for the comic relief! That's precious.