What’s the greater threat facing the United States from over the Mexican border: illicit drugs or undocumented immigrants?

To the US executive branch, the answer seems to be both, because President Donald J. Trump seems to believe most of the drugs entering our country come through Mexico via undocumented immigrants. Based on the measures he wants to deploy, he believes they carry the drugs on them as they cross the border at some isolated, unguarded spot in the dark of night.

If given a choice between stopping just one or the other, Trump seems to prefer stopping the people. At least, the Department of Justice, according to a USA Today report, has alerted workers in its southern California office that resources were to be diverted from drug smuggling to undocumented immigrants, and investigations into smuggling streamlined for quick action or referred to the states.

By “quick” they mean by 8:30 a.m. the next day, so in most cases that would be less than 24 hours. In that time they need to interrogate the suspects, get two recordings of the interrogation “interviews”, two copies of any surveillance videos, a “dump” of the suspect’s or suspects’ cellphone, and “finalized” reports complete with the signature of the supervisors.

No wonder the number of cases “referred” to state officials has doubled over the same period last year, while cases the feds handle have dropped.

Unfortunately, a wall would not stop most drug smuggling because most drug smuggling doesn’t depend on such undocumented immigrant couriers. Drugs are smuggled in vehicles that cross the border at legal entry points, or by boat along the ocean, or flown across the border in planes or on drones, or by US mail.

(Non-drug mule immigrants don’t cross the border that way either. The exact number is not known, but estimates range from 40 percent to two-thirds of illegals enter legally and just overstay their visa.)

Drugs also are available in prison. It’s unlikely we can make our borders more secure than that, or would want to. People always find ways to satisfy their vices, and addicts will resort to any port in a storm – heroin or fentanyl if OxyContin isn’t available, or methamphetamine if they’re court-mandated into a Vivitrol program.

A better way to stop drug smuggling is to reduce the demand, maybe consider making some drugs (such as marijuana) legal so there are regulations and no black-market demand or profits for gangs. The best way is to make it easier to get drug rehab than drugs.

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