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The Wall Won't End Pot Smuggling at the Border. Legalization Will.

March 3, 2019 in Economics

By David Bier

David Bier

Pot is bulky and pungent. That makes it difficult to conceal in,
say, a suitcase or a truck. For that reason, marijuana traffickers
tend to avoid legal ports or entrances, preferring instead to
traverse the expanses of deserts and canyons where Border Patrol
agents are often the only signs of human life. To the extent that
other drugs cross outside normal entry points, they are most often
hitchhikers along for the ride with the weed. In 2013, for example,
Border Patrol agents seized 274 pounds of marijuana for every one
pound of other drugs.

So for those familiar with the history of drug smuggling, there
was a dog that didn’t bark in Donald Trump’s early January Oval
Office address, which was intended to frighten Americans into
supporting a border wall and give him leverage to end the shutdown.
While Trump described the southern border as “a pipeline for vast
quantities of illegal drugs,” he only specifically mentioned “meth,
heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl”—all drugs that typically come
in through formal points of entry. He did not speak of what has
been, for most of living memory, the most-smuggled item over the
Mexican-American border: marijuana.

Pot, and the impoverished undocumented immigrants who often
bring it, are no longer flowing across the border at the rate they
once were. This decline has virtually nothing to do with expensive
security innovations at the border and everything to do with
legalization in the United States. If it were any other industry,
one imagines the president would be delighted: When it comes to
pot, customers prefer to buy American.

Until the government
learns that its own policies are the causes of illegal immigration
and drug smuggling, the problems will continue.

A Century of Fecklessness

President Trump is far from the first politician to use drug
smuggling to justify greater border security. During the 1920s, the
“need” to combat smuggling served as a primary justification for
the creation of the Border Patrol. In 1922, the commissioner
general of immigration warned that “dope, liquor, Chinese, and
alien smuggling has become a lucrative business and is being
carried on by international gangs in which there have been found
the hardest, most daring, and cleverest criminals.” These nefarious
forces, he added, were “backed by no limit of funds and possessed
of the highest powered vehicles.”

In 1924, Congress responded to these concerns and the need to
enforce new restrictions on legal immigration by creating the
Border Patrol. During alcohol Prohibition, the agency went on to
confiscate millions of quarts of liquor. Year after year, the
immigration commissioner’s reports requested more agents, vehicles,
and even airplanes to compete with the traffickers.

Then, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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