Dr. Ben Carson (shown), a candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, rode aboard a helicopter with Pinal County, Arizona, Sheriff Paul Babeu on August 19, touring mountainside caves used by Mexican drug cartel scouts in the Arizona desert. Some of these cartel lookout spots were as far as 70 miles inside the United States.
After completing the tour and landing, Carson and the sheriff held an exclusive interview with a reporter from Breitbart News, during which Babeu commented on the weak state of border security: “If they can operate up to this degree, 70 miles north of the border, in law enforcement we call that a clue.”
“We should stop them at the border,” Carson added. “They shouldn’t be 70 miles inside the border. We should stop them at the border. As the sheriff indicated, if we were to take like 6,000 troops and put them at the border, you wouldn’t have those people coming inside the border.”
Following the helicopter tour, Carson spoke to a crowd at the Phoenix Convention Center, where nearly 12,000 people came out to hear him, according to estimates by Arizona Republican Chairman Robert Graham.
CNN affiliate KPHO in Phoenix quoted Carson’s reference to what he saw during his helicopter tour and his suggestion for how to eliminate them: “You look at some of these caves and things out there one drone strike, boom, and they're gone.”
When CNN asked Carson if he was advocating using lethal force from drones against the cartel members in Arizona, he replied: “I’m suggesting we do what we need to do to secure the border — whatever that is.”
CNN reported that following what it described as “a strong performance” in the first Republican debate, Carson has solidified his spot as a top-tier candidate in the CNN/ORC poll and has polled very well among evangelicals. The most recent poll from CNN has Carson ranking third among white evangelical voters with 11 percent favoring him. Donald Trump is leading the poll with 23 percent and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush places second with 16 percent.
“All the pundits say it’s impossible,” Carson said, apparently referring to the potential for his campaign. “I just said, ‘Lord, if you want me to do it, if you open the doors, I will walk through them.’ ”
A report in the Fiscal Times for August 20 contrasted Carson’s proposed solution for securing the border with Donald Trump’s. Noting that Trump has proposed building a wall along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexican border and the detention and eventual deportation of those aliens who have entered our country illegally, the Fiscal Times cited Carson’s statements indicating that he opposes large-scale deportation because he does not believe such a plan is practical or even possible.
Reflecting this belief is Carson’ statement to moderator Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press program on August 16:
I have heard people say, yeah, round them all up and send them back. They have no idea what they’re talking about, how much that costs and how impractical that is. And many of the [immigrants] don’t know any other place … so where are you going to send them back to in that situation?
While the Fiscal Times did not take issue with Caron’s position against deportation, it did question his suggestion for using drone strikes against drug cartel members in Arizona, noting that even Sheriff Babeu considers the idea of drone strikes in his jurisdiction to be a bad one. The report quoted Carson’s statement in an interview with an ABC 15 Phoenix news team when asked to clarify his statement advocating drone use:
Well here’s the bottom line: You guys don’t seem to understand this. I suggest we use all the things that are available to us, but we use the military expertise.
Carson’s advocacy of “military expertise” to secure our border against drug dealers will give pause to those concerned about the increasing militarization of law enforcement in America and our government’s use of drones against people who are suspected of, but not convicted of, crimes. While drones might be useful against drug dealers, they have also been used to strike against U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism in Yemen in 2013. The New York Times also reported in February 2014 that the Obama administration was debating whether to authorize a lethal drone strike against an American citizen living in Pakistan. Clearly, using such stealth weaponry within the borders of the United States would carry grave risks, present much potential for abuse, and raise important constitutional questions.
Another statement Carson made to ABC 15 should resonate better with conservatives. He opposed giving “birthright” citizenship to babies born in the United States to illegal aliens:
For a woman to be pregnant and say, “I’m going to go to the United States and have my baby there so that I can have an anchor” is stupid. We can keep families together. If they came here and did that, we can still keep them together by packaging them up and sending them back.
Carson did not explain how this apparent position in favor of deporting some illegal aliens square with his statement made to Chuck Todd on Meet the Press that sending all illegal aliens back is impractical and his questioning where deportable aliens should be sent to. It seems that while Carson is a man filled with good intentions, he has not thoroughly thought through the practical solutions to some of our nation’s problems.
This tendency may also be applied to one of Carson’s chief rivals for the nomination, Donald Trump, and his proposal to build a wall along our border with Mexico. Trump also spoke with Chuck Todd on August 16 and outlined his own immigration plan, and his proposal to build the border wall, stating that he would require Mexico to pay for it. He even outlined how he would accomplish this, through a combination of impounding remittance payments being sent by illegal Mexican aliens in the United States back to relatives in Mexico and an increase in several fees and tariffs. However, this plan ignores the many retaliatory actions Mexico might take to protest these actions, such as financial sanctions against the many U.S. corporations doing business in Mexico. Once again, both Carson and Trump have suggested actions designed to appeal to American who are tired of the Obama administration’s inaction against illegal immigration, but have not considered the downsides and possible ill effects of these actions.
Even if a border wall (or fence) could be built, for example, are we sure that is a solution free from dangerous consequences? When the possibility of erecting a fence along the border to keep out illegal aliens was discussed during the 2011 Republican debates, candidate Ron Paul warned that erecting barbed wire fences and patrolling them with armed troops could eventually be used not to keep illegals out, but to keep Americans in. Said Paul:
Every time you think about this toughness on the border and ID cards and REAL IDs, think it’s a penalty against the American people too. I think this fence business is designed and may well be used against us and keep us in. In economic turmoil, the people want to leave with their capital and there’s capital controls and there’s people controls. Every time you think about the fence, think about the fences being used against us, keeping us in.
Paul’s reference to ID cards and REAL IDs also address another proposal that Trump included in his recent list: implementing a nationwide e-verify system. E-verify is just another word for an ID system that may be of some use in determining an employment candidate’s eligibility to work in the United States, but may also be used to keep tabs on native-born Americans. The former congressman has warned that this national ID scheme would allow federal bureaucrats to collect biometric information — potentially including fingerprints, retinal scans, and more — that could and likely would be eventually used as a tracking device. It would also make it illegal for anyone to work in the United States without obtaining the national ID, which is likely the motivation for proposing it in the first place.
The dangers of such a national ID were explored thoroughly in an article posted by The New American last March: “Congress Pushes Obama-backed National Biometric ID for Americans.”
Carson and Trump are seen by many as fresh voices from outside the Washington establishment presenting new ideas to solve America’s problems, including the ever-worsening problem of illegal immigration. As serious as our problems are, however, we need more than new ideas. We need ideas that are carefully weighed to evaluate their practicality and their constitutionality.