Border Pageantry

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Why can't we apprehend both of them at the border? Yesterday, both President Joe Biden and his presumed opponent in November, former President Donald Trump, arrived at the southern border for a whole lot of politicking and very little actual problem solving.

Media outlet after media outlet described it as a "split-screen" showdown. The New York Times described it as a visit "pitting the president's belief in legislating against his rival's pledge to be a 'Day 1' dictator." All right.

"A very dangerous border—we're going to take care of it," said Trump upon arrival. Biden has "the blood of countless innocent victims" on his hands, Trump added, citing the recent murder of Laken Riley—an Augusta University nursing student believed to have been killed by Jose Antonio Ibarra, an illegal immigrant from Venezuela, while running on trails at the University of Georgia.

"The United States is being overrun by the Biden migrant crime. It's a new form of vicious violation to our country," Trump said, leaning hard into fear-based messaging.

Biden, on the other hand, blamed Republicans in Congress for sinking deals that would attempt to handle the crisis at the border and kept meekly calling for bipartisan compromises. "Join me," Biden said to Trump—in what the Times described as an "olive branch"—"or I'll join you" in passing the bipartisan border deal that Trump recently lambasted, leading Senate Republicans to turn on the legislation.

If at first you don't succeed, try…an executive order? He's no border dove, though: Biden is reportedly mulling an executive order to majorly crack down on asylum seekers, forcing more rigorous entry standards and deportations for those who do not meet the updated criteria. Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act extends latitude to presidents to block certain categories of entrants if deemed "detrimental to the interests of the United States." This would allow him to bypass Congress entirely.

Ironically, Section 212(f) was how Trump instituted the Muslim ban back in 2017. It's dark horseshoe theory that Biden is now considering sidestepping Congress and using the same provision. It's almost as if actual checks and balances would be helpful here, and setting cogent policy in the first place, as opposed to sweeping executive orders to attempt to bandage long-festering problems.

The number of border crossings has reached record levels. December saw almost 250,000 arrests by Border Patrol, a number which fell by more than half in early January due to Mexican immigration authorities stepping up to the plate. The top five nationalities being apprehended are currently Mexicans, Venezuelans, Guatemalans, Honduras, and Colombians, but people from all over the world are now attempting to cross the border as well—including Chinese migrants (the fastest-growing group of border-crossers).

Whether it's Biden's pointless "join me!" pleas, designed to make the media fawn all over him, or Trump calling illegal border-crossers "fighting-age men"—as if they're creating some sort of militia as opposed to seeking work as, like, dishwashers and roofers—nothing good happened at the border yesterday, and the situation got no closer to being resolved.

Scenes from New York: A little before 4 a.m. Thursday morning, an A train conductor was attacked—his neck slashed, as he stuck it out the window to make sure the train was cleared to leave—at the Rockaway Avenue station in Brooklyn (a few stops before mine).

By rush hour Thursday morning, train crews were boycotting the safety conditions they must work under and calling straphangers' attention to attacks on transit workers. For those of us trying to take the A to work (like me, to film a documentary for Reason), it was a massive inconvenience, as trains operated with severe delays. But safety on the subways has gotten intolerably bad: Year over year, NYPD reports a 13 percent increase in crime within the subway system, and an 11 percent increase in assaults specifically. Last week, a man was shot and killed on the D train. In January, a man was shot and killed on the No. 3. Merely 1,000 of the city's 6,500 subway cars are equipped with surveillance cameras; meanwhile, the Metropolitan Transit Authority has installed bright yellow barriers at the Washington Heights stop to deter criminals from pushing people onto the tracks as part of a new pilot program—which would be terribly expensive to actually scale and wouldn't solve many categories of subway-system crime (like yesterday's neck slashing).

As for the conductor in question, he received 34 stitches and nine sutures and thankfully survived.


  • It's time:

  • Congress has approved a continuing resolution that will prevent a partial government shutdown.

  • Congratulations to The New Republic for finally acknowledging the fact that, generally, plastic isn't actually getting recycled (where Reason has been for a decade-plus): "Between 1990 and 2015, some 90 percent of plastics either ended up in a landfill, were burned, or leaked into the environment," reports The New Republic. Yes, we know.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin engaged in some saber-rattling toward the West yesterday, saying that the prospect of nuclear conflict ought to loom large if any countries intervene on Ukraine's behalf. "We also have weapons that can strike targets on their territory," Putin said. "Do they not understand this?"

  • "Several youth advocacy groups are concerned over the Secure DC bill and its potential impact on juveniles," reports ABC7. NeeNee Taylor, the founder of Harriet's Wildest Dreams, a nonprofit in the area, expressed concern at an event Wednesday night about a provision that would make stealing $500 worth of merchandise rise to the level of a felony. "A couple of my young ladies may have committed retail theft—they were actually stealing clothes for themselves to wear to school," Taylor told the news channel. "So what can we do to avoid them to have to steal the clothes?" Actually, they did not have to steal the clothes. Nor do they need to steal $500 worth of clothes in order to be able to cover their bodies to attend school.

  • Bloomberg—normally good—seems to think that the Google Gemini scandal—in which its AI-powered image generator simply could not return historically accurate images of white people, but had to turn, like, the Founding Fathers into black men—was actually a "Republicans pounce" situation. (It was not.)

  • Watch the dudes of The Fifth Column grace the wonderful Megyn Kelly Show with their presence (and tear Keith Olbermann apart):

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