Escalating enforcement along the Mexican border backfired

The rapid escalation of border enforcement over the past three decades has backfired as a strategy to control undocumented immigration between Mexico and the United States, according to new research that suggests further militarization of the border is a waste of money…

Advocated by bureaucrats, politicians and pundits, the militarization of the U.S. border with Mexico transformed undocumented Mexican migration from a circular flow of predominantly male workers going to a few states into a settled population of about 11 million in all 50 states, Douglas Massey said. From 1986 to 2010, the United States spent $35 billion on border enforcement and the net rate of undocumented population growth doubled, he said.

❝ “By the 1990s border enforcement had become a self-sustaining cycle in which rising apprehensions provided proof of the ongoing ‘illegal invasion’ to justify more resources allocated to border enforcement, which produced more apprehensions, even though the actual number of undocumented migrants seeking entry was not increasing,” Massey said…

❝ “Greater enforcement raised the costs of undocumented border crossing, which required undocumented migrants to stay longer in the U.S. to make a trip profitable,” he said. “Greater enforcement also increased the risk of death and injury during border crossing. As the costs and risks rose, migrants naturally minimized border crossing — not by remaining in Mexico but by staying in the United States.”

But, hey, if you’re one of those Americans who refuses to accept even an accounting of the size of the illegal immigrant population you’re not likely to accept any analysis of directionality much less efficiency of means and methods. Fear doesn’t make for a whole boatload of science floating down your political river.

Especially the Rio Grande.

Meanwhile, RTFA. Try to understand the conclusions from people like Mary Waters, immigration researcher at Harvard, who says — “Throwing money at militarizing the border led to the growth of undocumented immigration and if we had just done nothing, undocumented immigration would be much lower.”

99% of Columbia and Snake River sockeye salmon killed by 2015 water temperatures

Ninety-nine percent of the Snake River sockeye counted at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River near Portland in 2015 died before reaching Idaho’s Sawtooth Valley.

Unprecedented and lethally high temperatures in the Columbia, Snake and even Salmon rivers killed all but a few dozen of Idaho’s 4,000 adult endangered sockeye that had returned to the Columbia last June and July. Most years, more than 50 percent of the adults that survive their early life in Redfish Lake, migrate to the Pacific as juveniles and spend two years in the ocean return to spawn.

That means the 2015 return would have been the highest in more than 50 years, had temperatures been normal.

The sockeye would have gone extinct in the 1990s if not for the successful captive broodstock program created after the fish was declared endangered in 1991.

Just 2 percent of the 475,000 Okanagon River sockeye seen at Bonneville returned to their spawning grounds in Washington. Most of both populations died in the Columbia beginning in June when the water warmed to above 68 degrees, the temperature at which salmon begin to die. It got up to 73 degrees in July.

No sockeye that reached the Columbia River after July 16 completed the trip to Idaho.

Don’t worry, folks. Climate change is only something that eggheads care about. Folks who fish the great Western rivers will adjust quietly, quickly.

Surely, they will be as happy forking for carp as catch-and-release fly-fishing for salmon. 🙂

Why is Congress clueless about tech? Beancounters killed the committee!

When the draft version of a federal encryption bill got leaked this month, the verdict in the tech community was unanimous. Critics called it ludicrous and technically illiterate — and these were the kinder assessments of the “Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016,” proposed legislation authored by the offices of Senators Diane Feinstein and Richard Burr.

The encryption issue is complex and the stakes are high, as evidenced by the recent battle between Apple and the FBI. Many other technology issues that the country is grappling with these days are just as complex, controversial, and critical—witness the debates over law enforcement’s use of stingrays to track mobile phones or the growing concerns around drones, self-driving cars, and 3-D printing. Yet decisions about these technical issues are being handled by luddite lawmakers who sometimes boast about not owning a cell phone or never having sent an email…

This wasn’t always the case. US lawmakers once had a body of independent technical and scientific experts at their disposal who were the envy of other nations: the Office of Technology Assessment. That is, until the OTA got axed unceremoniously two decades ago in a round of budget cuts.

Now, when lawmakers most need independent experts to guide them through the morass of technical details in our increasingly connected world, they have to rely on the often-biased advice of witnesses at committee hearings — sometimes chosen simply for their geographical proximity to Washington DC or a lawmaker’s home district.

Ashkan Soltani, who recently served as chief technologist to the Federal Trade Commission, says it’s important to have experts who are not lobbyists or activists with an ax to grind and do not represent companies that stand to profit from the decisions lawmakers make. Tech and science geeks, he says, can “basically be an encyclopedia for how things work, and can really help policymakers get to a good outcome,” he told WIRED. “We had that in the OTA and that went away, and I think that was a huge mistake.”…

The lack of tech expertise on Capitol Hill has never been more glaring than in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks. Revelations about the NSA’s extensive spying programs made it obvious that lawmakers who conducted oversight of these programs lacked the ability to comprehend the level of surveillance modern intelligence agencies can do with the sophisticated technologies available to them today. As a result, many politicians briefed on the surveillance programs were unable to pose the right questions about the NSA’s controversial bulk collection of phone records and email metadata. After the secret phone records program was exposed in 2013, President Obama insisted that “every member of Congress” had been briefed on it. But these were legal briefings “to explain the law” relevant to the program. Lawmakers didn’t understand the extensive surveillance the government could do simply by mining the metadata around the calls that people make to one another—data that can reveal a lot about a person’s activity and the people with whom they associate.

“Most members of Congress don’t know enough about science and technology to know what questions to ask, and so they don’t know what answers they’re missing,” former Congressman Rush Holt told WIRED.

RTFA for a big chunk of useful history. Useful, that is, to folks interested in understanding the ill-founded results of incompetence in office.

There isn’t any likelihood of OTA being reinstated as long as Tea Party Republicans and Blue Dog Dems campaign for re-election by answering questions about climate change, sexual identity, pollution and poisoned water with a canned statement starting with “I’m not a scientist…”