Kafer: Fact checking Lauren Boebert’s xenophobic TV ad

Dear Lauren Boebert, candidate for the 4th Congressional District,

As a political consultant, I would like to take the opportunity to correct factual errors in your latest campaign commercial. After a recent internal poll showing Democrat Ike McCorkle would likely beat you in the general election in this solidly Republican district, you should welcome the help.

Let’s examine the specious claims in order. The ad narrator suggests, “There is an invasion at our southern border. Millions are pouring in causing crime, chaos, and death.”

The border has seen an unprecedented number of illegal crossers and individuals turning themselves over to U.S. agents to seek asylum and most Americans are understandably frustrated by the government’s response.

Under current law, asylum seekers who meet the credible fear threshold are allowed to remain in the country pending a hearing and are thus here legally for the time being. While most will not ultimately receive asylee status post-hearing, suggesting the majority are here for work or to build a better life rather than fleeing government persecution, these migrants hardly constitute an “invasion” as though they were armed for conquest.

In fact, immigrants, legal or illegal, are less likely to commit crimes than citizens. I’m sure you didn’t intend to exploit the comparatively rare death of a citizen at the hands of a criminal alien to give voters the wrong impression about immigrants. Xenophobia has an ugly, indeed lethal, history and stoking it to win an election is beneath even you.

Chaos isn’t exactly right either. While taxpayers shoulder the costs to provide some asylees, refugees, and illegal border crossers/visa overstayers medical care, education for their children, housing, and food in the short term, these temporary costs are dwarfed by the taxes paid by these individuals and their contribution to the economy. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that immigration, legal and illegal, will deliver a $7 billion boost to the nation’s gross domestic product over the next decade. Economists report that this latest wave of immigrants has contributed significantly to the post-Covid economic boon.

Immigrants are more willing to work than citizens. The population-to-employment ratio for foreign-born persons is 63.4% compared to natives at 59.6%. Foreigners are eager to do jobs eschewed by American workers — picking vegetables, milking cows, processing poultry, washing dishes, tarring roofs, and the like. These sweaty, thankless, calloused-hands-type jobs support the growth of all business sectors and increase the number of higher-skilled blue and white-collar jobs available.

Your ad says, “Democrats continue to lie and ignore this crisis.” Sadly, turns out Republicans deserve much of the mea culpa here. A bipartisan compromise bill sponsored by Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) would have tightened rules for claiming asylum, provided more funding for border agents and immigration judges, given the administration the authority to close border crossings, ended so-called “catch and release” whereby asylum claimants are released until their hearing, and funded scanning technology to intercept narcotics at ports of entry.

Lankford, a Baptist minister, and one of the most conservative legislators in the Senate discovered the devil isn’t in the details it’s in the political calculation. Trump told the Republican Speaker of the House not to take up the bill so the GOP could run on the border issue and the fiction that Democrats were unwilling to come to the table.

Instead of doing anything meaningful, the GOP House intends to vote for legislation to bar noncitizens from voting which is already illegal. Your ad claims you are “taking action to stop the invasion.” If posturing counts as action, you guys are nailing it.

The ad then says, “We need to shut down the border, build the wall, and deport them all.” Catchy rhyme but there are several issues with these recommendations. There are around 330 ports of entry into the U.S. including 48 land crossing points from Mexico, as well as, airports and seaports that receive international travelers. Shutting down the entire border with Mexico, our second largest trading partner, would cost the U.S. billions of dollars, cause a diplomatic crisis, and disrupt the lives of the millions of Americans and Mexicans who legally cross every day.

A third of the Mexico-U.S., 1,969 mile border is already fenced. Border walls are effective at deterring crossing at those points and shifting illegal crossing to more remote areas. Walls do not stop individuals from presenting themselves to border agents at ports of entry and claiming asylum. Moreover, walls are ineffective at stopping drug trafficking since drugs are smuggled in by motor vehicles through ports of entry. Some areas cannot be fenced because of ecological impacts. This isn’t to say that additional construction would not be useful but at $20 million a mile, the U.S. needs to be judicious.  There will never be a 1,969-mile wall along the border.

Also, deporting 11 million of people as former President Donald Trump claims he will do with the aid of police, the National Guard, and possibly the military has significant feasibility as well as humanitarian concerns. It will require complicated logistics involving transportation, legal hearings, and diplomatic negotiations.  Large detention camps will be necessary. Maybe he’ll build something in Granada, Colorado.

With less than two weeks left in the primary, there is time to correct your campaign ad, Congresswoman Boebert. Honesty is always the best policy. I’ll put the consulting bill in the mail.

Krista L. Kafer is a weekly Denver Post columnist. Follow her on Twitter: @kristakafer.

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