Border Issues

February 3, 2022

February 3, 2022

Hello, everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

This is Randy Russell sitting in for my good friend Jack Block. And now for today’s commentary.

All eyes have been on the eastern border of the Ukraine where Russia has amassed over 130,000
troops. Washington and the media have been consumed with the question: is Russia going to
invade the Ukraine – and if so – when? Some have speculated they will invade in late February
following the Beijing Olympics.

Let’s put this in perspective. There have been recent border issues with the Ukraine. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea in southern Ukraine. To the north, the Russian ally, Belarus, has also fortified Russian positions. In the east, several Ukrainian provinces align themselves with Russia given their strong historical, ethnic, and cultural ties. And what about our European allies? Well, Germany receives one-third of their oil and natural gas from Russia – and most Germans heat their homes with Russian natural gas. Given this and it being in the middle of winter, it is hard to imagine the largest economy in Europe providing decisive leadership against any Russian aggression.

If we learned anything from the Vietnam War, it’s that you don’t commit American troops into
armed conflict without a clear, achievable objective. And you don’t enter armed conflict without
strong public support. Recent polls show less than one-third of Americans support sending troops
to the Ukraine. And remember, every time a President commits our patriotic troops into foreign
conflict those young men and women are disproportionately from rural America.
Meanwhile, with the media consumed with the Ukraine, another crisis has been occurring over
the last year on our own border. According to Customs and Border Protection, over 2 million
apprehensions were made at our southern border in CY 2021. In December/2021 alone, over
178,000 apprehensions were made – and these statistics don’t include those illegal immigrants
not caught by CBP. Over half of those apprehended were from countries other than Mexico, El
Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. In addition, over a dozen individuals apprehended were on
our terrorist watch list.

Revoking the Remain in Mexico policy and changing deportation rules over the last 12 months has encouraged immigrants seeking a better, more secure life to try and cross our southern border. Our porous southern border has also led to human trafficking that has directly benefitted Mexican drug cartels. Meanwhile, during FY 2021, CBP officers at eight south Texas points of

entry experienced an over 1,000 percent increase in fentanyl seized – much of which came from
China. Fentanyl and other illegal drugs crossing our southern border directly contributed to a
record 100,000 deaths last year from drug overdoses. In many rural communities, which
experience higher rates of drug addiction and overdoses than in urban areas, this has become a
public health crisis. Two border crises – one 5,000 miles away, the other along our own southern
border. The former has little public support to get directly involved – and has no clear,
achievable objective. The other has significant impacts on the U.S. economy, national security,
and public health. Which do you think deserves the full attention of Washington?

This is Randy Russell reporting from Washington.

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