A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon on a street in the city of Mosul, June 23, 2014.
Reuters

When demagoguery on ISIS goes awry

Updated
A lot of folks had a good laugh a few weeks ago when Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) said there’s “a very real possibility” that ISIS terrorists may have entered the United States through the southern border. The claim didn’t make any real sense, and only reinforced concerns about the Texas governor’s limited grasp of public policy.
 
The trouble is, Perry suddenly isn’t the only one repeating the argument.
 
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) last week said the U.S. border is “porous,” and officials must “secure our own borders” to prevent “ISIS infiltration.” Today, former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), now running in New Hampshire, echoed Perry’s original claim.
One day after winning a primary making him the GOP’s Senate nominee in New Hampshire, Scott Brown said Islamic militants could already be crossing the border into the United States.
 
Brown also said that the U.S. shouldn’t rule out putting ground troops in the Middle East to fight insurgents with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
 
“As you know, what happened recently with the beheading of one of our own, there’s deep concerns that there are members of ISIS actually coming through the border right now,” Brown said on Fox News.
Look, there are elements of immigration policy and national security policy that are complex and require extensive study and examination.
 
This isn’t one of them. It’s just reckless demagoguery, intended to exploit public fears to advance a partisan cause.
 
Let’s recap reality again, just so there’s no confusion.
 
As we discussed when Perry first broached the subject, there’s no evidence – literally, none at all – of ISIS terrorists entering the United States through the southern border with Mexico. In fact, there’s no evidence of ISIS terrorists even trying.
 
Also, the GOP claim is predicated on the notion that the Obama administration has been lax on border security. That’s the opposite of reality, as the Associated Press reported in July:
* In the last budget year, Border Patrol agents arrested about 420,000 people, most of them along the Mexican border. That followed a three-year trend of near record low numbers of apprehensions.
 
* Overall, the number of immigrants caught sneaking across the border remains at near historic low levels.
 
* The last time so few people were arrested at the country’s borders was 1973, when the Border Patrol recorded just fewer than 500,000 arrests.
 
* The number of people being arrested at the border remains dramatically lower than the all-time high of more than 1.6 million people in 2000.
Republicans clearly don’t want to believe this, and have gone to remarkable lengths to block this information from their minds, but Obama really has increased U.S. border security to levels unseen in modern times.

In far-right circles, this myth has taken hold that the president has basically abandoned border security, throwing the doors open to every Ebola-carrying ISIS terrorist who wants to walk down Main Street, USA.
 
The public should know better.
 

ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Rand Paul, Rick Perry and Scott Brown

When demagoguery on ISIS goes awry

Updated