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Earlier today, Donald Trump visited my birthplace of Laredo, Texas, a city which was founded by my great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather Tomás Sánchez de la Barrera y Garza in 1755. Here is a video of Trump’s press conference in Laredo:
Unfortunately, I was not able to attend any of his events in Laredo because I’m on vacation at North Padre Island, Texas; and I haven’t lived in Laredo since 1993, though my mother and father lived there until their retirement in 2007.
During that fourteen-year period from 1993 to 2007, as I frequently returned to Laredo to visit my parents, I saw the relative peace and stability of that community evaporate, a turn-of-events underlined markedly by a shootout in my parents’ upper middle-class neighborhood on Laredo’s northside on the evening of Thanksgiving Day 2005.
The deteriorating situation on the border has been complemented by a breathtaking callousness on the part of public officials charged with addressing the problem, a topic I wrote about nearly five years ago right here on Ricochet:
The Ruling Class (to borrow Angelo M. Codevilla’s term) and their hangers-on care nothing about the fate of Americans living along the border. Regrettably, that callous attitude even includes some elected representatives from border states so affected -– not just Democrats, but Republicans as well. I’ve seen it first-hand.
I’ve long hesitated to share this story for obvious reasons, but now -– sixteen years after the fact –- I think it bears repeating. Back during the summer of 1994, after I had completed my freshman year of undergraduate studies, I interned in Washington, D.C. at the office of a former Congressman from Texas, a Republican, who shall remain nameless. One day, as I was answering phone calls from constituents, I received a call from a border-area rancher who was distraught about the worsening problem of illegal aliens and drug-runners trespassing upon his land. Per office protocol, I tried to forward the call to the legislative assistant who handled such issues. But instead of taking the call, the legislative assistant in question told me to take a message, because he was otherwise occupied washing his coffee cup. I then had to tell the rancher that the appropriate legislative assistant couldn’t help him because he was “otherwise occupied” but could leave a message. Bitterly and dejectedly, the rancher left his contact information and the call was ended. I felt (and still feel) horrible for having had to handle the rancher’s call that way, and it was an eye-opening moment revealing just how those on Capitol Hill really think of those whom they purport to represent. I have no idea what became of the rancher, but I have little doubt that the staffer who rejected the call later went on to have a lucrative career as a lobbyist, which is what eventually happens with many members in Congress’s employ.
People like that rancher have suffered the worst from the federal government’s conscious decision to abrogate its constitutional mandate to secure the border. And it is because of others who have likewise suffered from the federal government’s negligence that Trump has risen so far in the polls. Trump may or may not be a serious candidate, but border security and immigration control are very serious issues, and the Republican establishment ignores them at their peril.
Nota Bene: also check out Claire Berlinki’s excellent post on the U.S.-Mexico border from earlier this week.