Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute is the analyst of immigration that I most turn to when wanting to know the facts. So I was excited to see that he testified last week on the topic “Terrorist Entry Through the Southwest Border.” I should have anticipated what I learned while watching: he was the expert called by the Democrats on the committee, not the Republicans.
The whole 2 hours plus is worth watching if you click on “transcript” so that you can jump through a lot of stuff. It also helps to go at 1.25 speed. By doing both, I was able to watch it in just under 1 hour.
What struck me was that Alex was the most prepared to talk about the issue, not of illegal crossings but of crossings by terrorists on their way across the border to commit terrorist acts in America. His bottom line is that the probability of being murdered by a terrorist crossing over the southwest border is very close to zero. In their questions, Republican congressmen and congresswomen tried to shake him, but were unsuccessful. They kept changing the subject to issues like murders and rapists crossing the border or terrorists over in other countries killing Americans. He kept insisting on talking about what the hearings were supposed to be about.
My assessment of Republicans in Congress has not been this low in a long time. One Congressman in particular disappointed me: Chip Roy of Texas. A few elections ago, I had asked a fairly libertarian friend in Washington who follows politics closely whom I should donate money to in a close race. His first choice was Chip Roy. When I checked his campaign contributions, I learned that they were about $10 million, so my $200 or $25o would likely have about the same impact that a vote in Roy’s district would have. So I didn’t contribute. I’m glad.
Chip Roy goes after Nowrasteh on an issue that has nothing to do with terrorist entry through the Southwest Border and starts shouting at him.
52:00: Alex’s testimony. It goes to 56:30.
1:02:09: Rep. Biggs claims that Alex’s testimony is “asinine” and also claims that we have open borders.
1:08:08: Good back and forth between a calm Rep. Jayapal (D-WA) and Alex. Goes to about 1:12:27. Notice how Alex, at the 1:11:24 point, gets at one of the drivers of immigration: “Guatemalans Hondurans Salvadorans Colombians and others fleeing dangerous despotic socialists poor cruel regimes.” I loved watching him say this to Rep. Jayapal, for obvious reasons.
1:18:07: Good back and forth between Rep. Nadler (D-NY), whom I’ve never been impressed with, and Alex. Goes to about 1:23:54. Alex makes a good point at about the 1:23:41 point–if we have an open border, why do people pay smugglers between $5,000 and $20,000 to get across.
1:23:54: Chip Roy (R-TX) starts lambasting Alex, getting really angry at him, and changing the subject away from terrorism. Alex tries to get the subject back on track but Roy gets increasingly angry and gets confused at the 1:26:28 point where he says, “I’m answering the questions here.” Actually he was supposed to be asking them, but this was a rare moment of honesty on Chip Roy’s part.
1:41:49 and ff: Rep. Correa (D-CA) gets all 3 of the Republican-called witnesses to admit that they would deport 10 million illegal immigrants.
1:46:18: Rep. Van Drew (R-NJ) accuses Alex of sitting in his office looking at numbers rather than talking to people at the border. Parenthetically, what I notice in almost all the Republican Congressmen is that they sound like the Democratic Congressmen I saw in action during my time in the Reagan administration, from 1982 to 1984. They use emotional arguments and attack people who present facts.
1:58:11: Alex gets into the data on the very small risk.
1:59:00: Alex draws on the other witnesses’ points about smuggling humans to make his case for expanding legal immigration.
2;08:50 and ff: Chairman Tom McClintock (R-CA), whom I have heard and seen good things about over his entire career–he’s one of the most libertarian members of Congress–tries to switch the subject to terrorism in Afghanistan. When Alex calls him out, McClintock accuses Alex of “playing dumb.” No, it’s just that Alex was under the mistaken impression that the hearings were about terrorist entry through the Southwest border.