Oh, Hey, No Big Deal, Just Illegal Immigration from Honduras Drying Up

by Jim Geraghty

Ah, it’s good to be back. Thanks to Jack Fowler for holding down the fort in my absence; I’m sure all of you have finally bought a cabin on the upcoming NR cruise now.

Why does our president care so much about what Mika Brzezinski thinks?

Good News from the Border

While the president is envisioning himself punching a cable-news network logo into submission, take a look at what The Failing New York Times™ reports from Choloma, Honduras:

While some of Mr. Trump’s most ambitious plans to tighten the border are still a long way off, particularly his campaign pledge to build a massive wall, his hard-line approach to immigration already seems to have led to sharp declines in the flow of migrants from Central America bound for the United States.

From February through May, the number of undocumented immigrants stopped or caught along the southwest border of the United States fell 60 percent from the same period last year, according to United States Customs and Border Protection — evidence that far fewer migrants are heading north, officials on both sides of the border say.

Arrests of immigrants living illegally in the United States have soared, with the biggest increase coming among those migrants with no criminal records.

The shift has sown a new sense of fear among undocumented immigrants in the United States. In turn, they have sent a warning back to relatives and friends in their homelands: Don’t come.  . . . 

Migrant smugglers in Honduras say their business has dried up since Mr. Trump took office. Fewer buses have been leaving the northern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula bound for the border with Guatemala, the usual route for Honduran migrants heading overland to the United States. In hotels and shelters along the migrant trail, once-occupied beds go empty night after night.

Marcos, a migrant smuggler based near San Pedro Sula, said that last year he had taken one or two groups each month from Honduras to the United States border. Since Mr. Trump’s inauguration, however, he has had only one client. He blames Mr. Trump.

“People think he’s going to kick everyone out of the country,” Marcos said, asking that his full name not be published because of the illegal nature of his work. “Almost nobody’s going.”

Give Trump critics credit: They predicted he would destroy jobs, and they were right; he appears to have destroyed a considerable number of positions in the previously vibrant and lucrative illicit people-smuggling industry.

Also, all of us who gripe about the New York Times — often with good reason – should retire our “the Times never reports any good news for Trump!” complaint. This is good journalism. Yes, the article is written with a great deal of sympathy for those who seek to cross the border illegally, declaring that “many potential migrants in the Northern Triangle are choosing to sit tight and endure the poverty and violence that have driven hundreds of thousands to seek work and sanctuary in the United States in recent years.”

And there’s an implied argument that the change in U.S. policies is worsening conditions in these countries: “Experts in the region warn that the decline in migration could put additional pressure on Central American countries, increasing competition for work, which is already in short supply, and potentially driving more people into the criminal gangs that have terrorized the region.”

But, ultimately, the United States cannot build a better Honduras; only the Hondurans can do that. Mass illegal migration only helps those in power maintain the status quo by driving the most determined, the hardest-working, and the most ambitious out of the country. Yes, those poor people in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras deserve a better life than they have in their current circumstances. But they really deserve a chance to build that better life in their home countries.

A Smaller Government — At Least At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

On Friday, the Trump administration released its annual report on White House office personnel. It includes the name, status, salary, and position title of all 377 White House employees. OpenTheBooks.com, a private organization that tracks government spending, calculates that the Trump White House is costing taxpayers $5 million less, and employing 110 fewer staffers than the Obama White House in 2015.

Perhaps the biggest reduction comes in the size of the first lady’s staff: “There are five staffers dedicated to Melania Trump vs. 24 staffers who served Michelle Obama (FY2009).” God bless Melania.

In the eyes of a fiscal conservative, this is good. Of course, it’s not even a drop in the bucket of our overall government-spending problems, but it is good to see the White House leading by example.

One point to consider is whether the White House might work a bit more effectively if it had, say, a few more assistants for legislative affairs attempting to coordinate with Capitol Hill. (I notice that in the final year of the Obama presidency, the White House had 68 people with the word “policy” in their job titles; the new Trump administration has 27.) Yes, fewer White House assistants, deputies, support specialists, project managers, analysts, and so on qualifies as cutting government. But then again, these are among the very few positions in the entire federal bureaucracy with the duty of implementing conservative policies across the government.

You Probably Don’t Want to Be Seen There During a Government Shutdown

Man, is Chris Christie trying to end his second term as the most hated politician in New Jersey history?

People hoping to visit Island Beach State Park this holiday weekend were not allowed in because of the state government shutdown. Gov. Chris Christie ordered amid the state budget standoff in Trenton.

But there was one family there: Christie’s. They are using the summer beach house provided by the state for a weekend down the Shore.

At that news conference, Christie was asked if he got any sun Sunday.

“I didn’t,” he said. “I didn’t get any sun today.”

When later told of the photo, Brian Murray, the governor’s spokesman, said: “Yes, the governor was on the beach briefly today talking to his wife and family before heading

into the office.”

“He did not get any sun,” Murray added. “He had a baseball hat on.”

That is a bad liar. But wait, it gets worse.

Christie told reporters Saturday that the beach house is separate from the park and that his family will not ask for any state services.

Asked if this is fair, Christie said Saturday: “Run for governor, and you can have a residence there.”

This was just handed to me: Marie Antoinette issued a statement declaring that relaxing on the beach while a nearby state-park beach is shut down is a “bad look.”

Then again, Chris Christie’s approval rating is 15 percent, and his Republican Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno is at just 26 percent in this year’s upcoming governor’s race. Maybe Christie just doesn’t care anymore.

ADDENDA: Happy Independence Day. I finished Brad Thor’s latest, Use of Force, last week and will have a full (glowing) review and analysis later this week. I will reveal one shocking twist: Unlike the previous two books, neither Larry O’Connor nor Brian Wilson of Washington’s WMAL radio station end up in harm’s way in this one.

The Morning Jolt

By Jim Geraghty