If Donald Trump wanted an effective border policy, he should listen to the people at the border with actual experience on border security. But he has never done that. So he is proposing to spend at least $5 billion — but probably many times more than that — on a border wall which wall not improve border security at all.
At least that is the opinion of both border security experts and members of Congress from border states. These people — who really know what they’re talking about — don’t want Trump’s wall. They say that a border wall wouldn’t solve the problem that Trump claims he wants to solve. They also say that the border wall would siphon money away from border security solutions that would actually work to enhance security and solve the real border issues that they face.
The solution that these experts want is the one proposed by Congressional Democrats, not by Trump or other Republicans who are playing politics and sucking up to their right-wing racist base of supporters.
For example, the Democrat-sponsored bill recently passed by the House includes $1.3 billion for border security, but no money for a wall. This is definitely the right direction to go in right now, although Democrats from border states are asking for a lot more.
Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela from Texas has asked for a $4 billion investment in technology and staffing to provide better security at legal points of entry. Trump has proposed just $400 million for those programs that would really enhance border security. Vela decried Trump’s “misguided insistence on physical barrier funding.”
This just shows that Trump’s priorities are wrong, and have nothing to do with reality. Vela and others like him, who know what they’re talking about, say that the $5 billion being demanded by the president for his wall would be a complete waste of money.
Trump has claimed that most human and drug smuggling does not happen at ports of entry. But this claim goes against information contained in official government documents as well as from local experts, who think the biggest need is for expanded legal ports of entry both from a security and an economic perspective.
“In the end, most of undocumented migration and drug trafficking does not take place in the middle of the desert, it takes place at our ports of entry,” said Jon Barela, CEO of the Borderplex Alliance, a nonprofit promoting business in New Mexico and West Texas.
Barela praised Vela’s proposal, saying “it would be a better use of taxpayer dollars than arbitrarily building walls that are easily surmounted.”
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment report, only a small portion of seized heroin, for instance, was captured outside of ports of entry.
Most heroin smuggled by land into the United States, reported the DEA, comes in personal vehicles, followed by tractor trailers, and a smaller percentage smuggled by “body carriers.”
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who represents Laredo, the busiest international commercial land crossing in the world, said the focus of border security investment should be on technology to screen trucks and trains, and boots on the ground to speed up legal crossings.
“Instead of spending those billions on fence, put it on ports of entry,” said Cuellar. “If you want to stop drugs, that’s how you do it.”
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.