|Sen Min. Leader Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi|
Feeling bullish/National Review photo
It's nuts. President Trump is staking his presidency on securing $5 billion (and who knows how much more would be needed?) to extend the border wall an additional 1,000 miles along the U.S.-Mexico border from San Diego to Brownsville.  In order to get his way Trump and his GOP enablers in Congress have shut down a portion of the government. Affected are 380,000 federal workers across the country who are furloughed and not being paid, and another 420,000 federal workers who are directed to work without receiving any paycheck until the shut-down ends. This includes correctional officers, customs and border patrol officers, and transportation security officers. In addition, science researchers and many tens of thousands of other federal contractors are not getting paid, and their payments may be at risk (i.e. they won't get paid when the shut-down ends).
Senator Lindsay Graham has warned that if Trump doesn't win this game of chicken, it could mean the end of his presidency. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, seems to agree and he has vowed not to bring any legislation up for a vote unless it has Trump's blessing. In other words, McConnell has vowed not to bring a house bill that would fund the salaries of TSA employees and CBP employees to a vote in the Senate without Trump's approval, and Trump has said he won't approve unless the Democrats authorize funding for his wall. This morning, Jim Geraghty speculated at National Review that Democrats may crack under the pressure. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who appears to me to be calling the shots, seems to agree with Lindsay Graham and McConnell, but seems to think she's got a winning hand. Frankly, it's hard to imagine how she does not. She can say "No" to border wall funding, and she knows the Senate will have to act on the House bills to re-open government sooner, rather than later. How long does McConnell think he can keep border agents and TSA agents working without receiving a paycheck?
There is no Crisis at the Border
Pelosi and the Democrats have good reason not to give in to this blackmail--even without Lindsay Graham's encouragement.
California has open borders with the 49 other states in the Union and with the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. No matter how poor the conditions in Puerto Rico and the Rust Belt states, these open borders do not result in a flood of immigrants. During the decade from 2007 to 2016, for example, California experienced total migration (in and out) of 1.2 million per year.  The net change in population from migration is just 100,000 (or 0.2%) annually. Not much. And if we compare California's unencumbered open-border migration numbers with the migration numbers across the closed, non-open and militarized national borders of the United States, the numbers are about the same: in 2016, net immigration to the U.S. from all sources was ~900,000  ( or .27% of the population). In other words, open borders or closed, the rate of migration is about the same.
Undocumented immigration across the southern border fluctuates with the economy and the desperation of people living in dysfunctional Latin American states. Immigration reached a peak when the economy was booming in the first half decade of the 21st century, and it dropped off markedly following the greater recession, starting in 2008.
According to Pew, as of 2016 there were 5.4 million undocumented immigrants from Mexico living in the United States. The number has declined by more than a million since 2007. Significantly more than 80 percent of undocumented workers from Mexico have been living and working in the United States for more than 10 years. Id. These immigrants are tightly integrated in our communities. They commit far fewer crimes than the native born population. Contrary to the assertion of Trump and his enablers, there is no known, relevant, domestic terror attack from someone crossing the southern border illegally.
Which is to say, there is no "emergency" on the southern border. See, e.g., this BBC News report.
How Many Actually Cross the Southern Border Illegally?
There are no good numbers on how many successfully manage to cross the southern border illegally. In 2015, the Customs and Border Patrol claimed an 85% apprehension rate. Based on 397,000 apprehensions in fiscal 2018, that would indicate fewer than 60,000 managed to illegally cross the southern border in 2018 (~164/day along our 2000 mile border with Mexico). According to Bloomberg, the Institute of Defense Analysis estimated that 200,000 made it across in 2015 (or 548/day). Whether it is 60,000 or 200,000 undocumented immigrants, these are people intent on coming here to work hard and earn a living. They do not present a national emergency. And the numbers are small compared to people overstaying their visas--estimated to be 607,000 for fiscal year 2017.
Democrats Should Stay the Course
As James Hohmann pointed out in the Washington Post this morning, Trump ran on building a wall (to be paid by Mexico) and he lost the popular vote. He ran on the wall in the mid-term election, and Republicans got trounced. They lost 40 seats in the House. Democrats won the House by 10 million votes, the largest margin of victory ever. Democrats received 12 million more votes for Senate than Republicans. [They lost a net results of two seats because they were defending more seats, and there is the structural issue that California's population of 40 million gets two senators, and Wyoming's population of 600,000 also gets two senators] Lindsay Graham may be correct: Trump may be about to hit a wall. And the Mueller report has not even been released yet.
Nancy Pelosi is licking her chops.
Follow me on Twitter @RolandNikles
Follow me on Twitter @RolandNikles
 The border is just short of 2,000 miles from San Diego, California to Brownsville, Texas, and some type of barrier already exists along about a third of this distance, especially in the West.
 For the decade 2007-2016 5 million people moved to California from other states, and 6 million left California for other states.
 Total immigration was 1.49 million. This includes foreign-born individuals (ages 1 and older) who resided abroad one year prior to the survey, including naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, and others who might have lived in the United States for some time prior to 2016; as well as temporary nonimmigrants and unauthorized immigrants.