The mainstream media think readers and listeners are fools. Here are two graphics from the front page of the New York Times of January 15 (the online version has them on January 11).

The Washington Post made the same pitch in David Nakamura, “New Trump Wall Slogan Again Inflates Dangers of Undocumented Migrants,” Washington Post, Jan. 24, 2019, p. A10. And the Washington Post did it again in a front page article on February 11 (the online version is dated February 7, under “Local News”). We are told in Michael E. Miller, “‘Savage Gang’: Despite Trump’s Relentless Rhetoric, MS-13 Killings Are Down,” that, in the Washington DC area, there were at least 33 MS-13 killings in the two years 2006 and 2007, but seven in 2017. So, the MS-13 gang just aren’t as savage as President Trump claims. Notice that these figures are for just one metropolitan area and this metropolitan area is 1,700 miles from the Mexican border. “Only seven killings” is surely a comfort to the family and friends of the murdered victims. 

How many times do we have to tell the mainstream media that it doesn’t matter if illegal immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than legal immigrants or citizens, if that is the case, and that it doesn’t matter if most illegal drugs come through ports of entry, if that is the case. What matters is that illegal immigrants do commit crimes and illegal drugs do come through places other than ports of entry. The graphics above make this abundantly clear. Where is the compassion of the Democrats and the mainstream media for victims? President Trump stated in his State of the Union: “Not one more American life should be lost because our Nation failed to control its…border.” One death, one rape, is one too many and, let’s say it, constitutes an emergency.

The mainstream media has also been full of accounts of how a wall:

-- will interfere with the everyday lives of the people who live in the United States near the Mexican border. They may have difficulty in making routine crossings for shopping or school, etc. (“I Think of the Two Sides as One Laredo,” N.Y. Times, Jan. 18, 2019, p. A12); 

-- may spoil a view or prevent the irrigation of crops or watering of livestock. For example, Jose Palomino has a “house in San Benito in Cameron County [which] once had a nice view of trees and grass, it now looks out on a high fence, about 20 feet tall, on a piece of property the federal government condemned…‘It's like a big prison cell,’ he said.” Noreen O’Donnell, “You Want a Wall? Landowners Still Fight Bush's Border Fence,” NBC Philadelphia, May 8, 2017. (See also Eli Saslow, “Trump’s Border Wall Threatens to End Texas Family’s 250 Years of Ranching on Rio Grande,” Washington Post, Sept. 8, 2018, );

-- will be a detriment to birds and insects and mammals. (John Schwartz, “Why a Border Wall Could Be Trouble for Wildlife,” N.Y. Times, Jan. 24, 2019); and may require the taking of land, even of a church. (Katie Zezima and Mark Berman, “In South Texas, Residents Hold on to their Land to Resist a Wall,” Washington Post, Jan. 12, 2019, p. A1.) 

The media don't report that, in 1994, the state of Florida sued the Federal Government for $1.5 billion, and the state of California sued for $2 billion, for the costs of jailing illegal immigrants. (“California Sues U.S. Government Over Costs Tied to Illegal Aliens,” N.Y. Times, Jan. 5, 1994, (“following Florida's lead, California is suing to get nearly $2 billion in Federal money to cover the cost of jailing illegal immigrants. The lawsuit, filed on Friday in Federal District Court, seeks $377 million to cover the state prison costs this year for about 16,700 illegal aliens who have committed crimes.”))

And the media certainly no longer file reports like this from NBC News, Nov. 25, 2011:

Falfurrias, Texas — While walking along a dirt road bordering his property, a South Texas farmer complained about living in fear of Mexican traffickers smuggling drugs and illegal immigrants across his land. He would later ask his visitor no’ to reveal his identity, for his safety and that of his family. 

“I'm a citizen of the United States. This is supposedly sovereign soil, but right now It’s anybody’s who happens to be crossing here,” he said. “I’m a little nervous being here right now. Definitely don’t come down here after dark.” 

The farmer said a federal law enforcement agent told him to buy a bulletproof vest to use while working in his fields. Whenever he goes out to survey his agricultural operations, he always tells his office where he is headed, and he has purchased a high-powered rifle.
“One of the basic points of the federal government is to protect the people of this nation to secure the border, and they're not doing that, “he complained.

[The article quoted a man from the] Texas Border Volunteers, a group of about 300 landowners and supporters who work closely with law enforcement officials to track drug and immigrant smugglers entering the U.S. from Mexico and crossing private land. His primary concern, he said, is the safety of farmers and ranchers who have been confronted by armed traffickers.

And there’s this January 23, 2019, report from Fox News. Rancher Ruperto Escobar wants the Federal Government to build a fence on his border property. He had these words for Speaker Pelosi:

“M’am, I don’t know where you get your facts, but what we have endured in my lifetime, which is about 75 years now -- of seeing the number of illegals coming across here, trampling over our fences, the drug dealers tearing down our gates -- that is immoral.” 

After 9/11, Americans changed their routine and waited in lines for screening at airports, and waited in security lines to visit Congress, and removed newspaper stands on sidewalks, and made many other adjustments. I want those who complain about a border wall, to tell the mother and father of a child who will be killed this coming year that they didn’t want to be delayed in crossing the border to shop, or weren’t willing to work with the government to arrange for livestock to reach water, or weren’t willing to give up some land for a fence and an access road, including land in a floodplain between the fence and the river.

Self-Interest and Patriotism

Here’s how I’d like to see the Federal Government approach landowners on the border for access and land to build a wall on their property. First, representatives of the Federal Government would meet with local, respected elected and police officials to discuss and quantify the harm caused to local landowners of a lawless border at their property line. They would also discuss and quantify the harm to the local jurisdictions. Together these men and women would meet with a landowner at the kitchen table and describe this harm. They would appeal to the landowner’s self-interest concerning trespassers on their and their neighbors’ lands, the impact on local government, and patriotism. 

Frankly, landowners should donate their land for a fence. I recognize that, in some cases (such as where their land would be cut in half), they might feel that would be too great a burden. I hasten to add that there are people among us who lose their lives for us in Iraq and Afghanistan, so donating some land should not be too great a burden. 

Of course, I recognize that we cannot even get some leaders of this Nation, like Democrats Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer, to respond affirmatively to appeals to the vital interests of American citizens and permanent residents on the border as well as the vital interests of those who live hundreds of miles away from the border. And these leaders of a free America have, so far, resisted any appeals to their patriotism. Several were made during the 35-day shutdown.   

Typically, the landowner will not donate his or her property. The landowner will seek compensation from the Federal Government. If the landowner deems the offered compensation insufficient, the landowner will sue. This is under eminent domain law. Here is a law firm’s description of it in “Border Wall Battles”: In various media reports on the eminent domain cases stemming from the Secure Fence Act of 2006,they fail to distinguish between owners who feel they aren’t getting enough money and those opposed to a wall.

Nonetheless, we need more than appeals to self-interest and patriotism. And we need more than reliance on eminent domain. Here are four sticks, all of which can be used if a landowner does not want to fully and quickly cooperate with the building of a fence and access road.

Allow Gaps That Would Create Funnels

We will tell the landowner that we will skip her property. We will build a fence on the border to her east and to her west and leave a gap in the fence on her land. The result will be that the trespassers will be funneled into her property. The news of this situation, occurring even just once, will be spread across the entire border like wildfire. It won’t last long.

Withhold Local Government Protection

Local government will withhold police, fire and medical services from the landowner. Why should local tax dollars be spent helping people who won’t help the rest of us provide security to our families? 

We may build a fence on all sides of the property that are away from the border. It would contain the trespassers. Maybe Democrats would label it a sanctuary, but instead of an entire city, it would be one isolated parcel of land. We would allow residents and visitors free ingress and egress. Utilities would not be cut off as long as payments continue to be made. If the bad guys use his home, farm, ranch, as a halfway house, if they create mayhem and harm family members, we will monitor the situation, but we will make no arrests until the trespassers come off his property. 

Again, the news of this situation, occurring even just once, will be spread across the entire border like wildfire. It won’t last long.

Sue to Force Abatement of the Nuisance

Federal, state and/or local government will sue the landowner having property that abuts the border for an injunction, compelling the landowner to build, at the landowner’s expense, a fence on the border to abate the public nuisance – the nuisance created when the landowner allows trespassers from Mexico onto his land and then allows them to continue onto other landowners’ land and into the rest of the county, the state, and other states. Recall my statement above about quantifying the harm? We’ll use that in court. 

At the same time, we would encourage private property owners who abut the border property to pursue an injunction to force abatement of a private nuisance. We have everyday laws that allow neighbors to seek injunctions against neighbors who allow animals to leave their land for others’. As courts say, “Notice of the existence of a nuisance imposes upon the landowner a duty to abate it.” The landowner being sued is the proximate cause of the trespassers being able to travel freely off his land onto private and public lands. 

File a Tax Assessment

The Federal Government should partner with local government in the building of a fence and access road. The local government would sue the landowner for the improvement to the land made by the fence. This, too, is everyday law. If a local government builds a sidewalk, the local government can make a tax assessment on abutting parcels. Surely, a piece of land that no longer has trespassers entering onto the property has been improved. A fence is an improvement. 

We shall stiffen our resolve – while weakening that of our opponents.



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Spero News columnist James Thunder is an attorney based in Washington DC.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not of Spero News.

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