The Borderline Spectator

The Borderline Spectator

Catholics, Methodists & Deportations

By 4.6.14

Last Tuesday some Catholic bishops hosted a mass at the Arizona border with Mexico that largely was a plea for legalizing the 11 million or so illegal immigrants in the U.S. They focused on illegal immigrants who perish while surreptitiously crossing the desert. Cardinal Sean O’Malley gave a moving homily.

“We come to the desert today because it is the road to Jericho; it is traveled by many trying to reach the metropolis of Jerusalem,” O’Malley said. “We come here today to be a neighbor and to find a neighbor in each of the suffering people who risk their lives and at times lose their lives in the desert.”

Recalling his own Irish ancestors, O’Malley warned: “America at its best is not the bigotry and xenophobia of the no nothings [sic], but the generous welcome of the New Colossus, that mighty woman with a Torah, the Statue of Liberty, the Mother of Exiles...”

And O’Malley continued: “We must be vigilant that lamp continues to burn brightly.” Indeed. But are the policy choices really so stark as the implied divide between hospitable Samaritans and 19th Century chauvinistic Know Nothings?

The Borderline Spectator

Drug Smugglers Like the Sequester

By 3.24.14

South American drug smugglers probably don’t care whether the U.S. has enough military power to fight two wars in distant lands simultaneously, but they do care about the size of the budget of their nemesis: the U.S. Coast Guard.

Smugglers in Latin America have increasingly turned to shipping drugs to the United States by boats instead of small airplanes. The numbers spell out the logic. A small airplane can carry about one ton of drugs; a boat may carry as many as 20 tons of cocaine. 

The Coast Guard, which can make drug arrests hundreds of miles offshore — and does — had to reduced its operating costs by 25 percent in the 2013 fiscal year — thanks to the iron collar of the “Sequester.” It also lost important back-up help it was getting from the U.S. Navy when the Navy’s ships on drug duty in Latin America were decommissioned and not replaced — thanks also to the Sequester.

While cuts were being activated the territory where boats were being seized off California and northwestern Mexico grew by 300 percent to an area the size of the state of Montana.