Border Security Is Far More Than A Wall

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By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

Most readers of this column will undoubtedly have seen the television commercials and stories about how Amazon could one day use drones to deliver packages right to your door wherever you live in America. Drones flying down the block dropping off packages and then zipping back to their base to pick up another, we are told, are coming in the not-too-distant future.

Our readers will also have heard President Trump and Republicans supporters of his “big, beautiful” wall along the Mexican-U.S. border say that we need it to keep out illegal drugs, including deadly and devastating community opioids.

Now picture that wall, 30, 40 or 50 feet high. What obstacle is it to a drone carrying a small load of drugs? Certainly, the Mexican drug cartels are well aware of what drone technology means for their delivery system and must be laughing at the idea of America trying to stop them with a wall.

Even our own government acknowledges that most of the illegal drugs currently entering America come through the legal ports of entry between America and Mexico. It isn’t all smuggled across in remote desert regions of the border.

We have heard of how terrorists from the Middle East are traveling with caravans of migrants who make their way through Central America to the American border. Yet, even Trump has had to admit that there is no proof of single Middle Eastern terrorist among the migrants.

If a terrorist is going to come to America, he has a choice to make when leaving the Middle East or Europe: Do I fly to Mexico or Canada? The Canadian border has no walls and isn’t nearly as fortified with agents and electronic surveillance as the Mexican border.

We also have to look at how most illegal immigrants get into the United States.

“Since 2007, the number of undocumented immigrants who overstayed visas after first entering the country legally - across a bridge or port of entry - far outnumbered those who sneaked in, according to a 2017 report by the Center for Migration Studies. A wall would do nothing to stop them,” Jay Root writes in the Texas Tribune.

As for the wall, it means opportunity, Root reports.

“Take it from some of the people who have smuggled immigrants and dope for a living: Where agents and politicians see future walls, they see ladders, ropes and the promise of higher profits,” he writes. “When prosecutors see adult smugglers going to jail, they see hard- to-jail juveniles replacing them. And where politicians see more agents protecting the border, they see potential accomplices who can be bribed to look the other way.”

This is the reality of life along the U.S.- Mexico border. It is a story told both by the criminals who cross the border, the agents who enforce the laws, and immigrants who cross seeking a better life.

We are continually being led to believe that the immigrants at the border are criminals rather than people fleeing atrocious living conditions and seeking a better life. But what we know is that immigrant teens, both legal and illegal, are far less likely to be involved with the law than American-born teens.

Immigrants as a whole excel in high school and college. Eighty-three percent of illegal immigrants identify themselves as Christian while only 71 percent of Americans do. Immigrants, illegal and legal, are twice as likely to start a business than are second, third or fourth generation Americans. The number of companies started by those born in America of American parents is falling.

Studies show that immigrants don’t steal jobs from Americans and, for the most part, they don’t lower wages for America workers.

No reasonable person would deny that we need, and have a right to, secure borders. The question is, however, what makes the most logistical and economic sense in securing and defending our borders?

To address the question of border security, it is essential to ask what would drive women with young children to make dangerous, exhausting, thousand-mile trips on foot to seek asylum and refuge in America?

Escaping poverty is a root cause, along with its attendant hunger, malnutrition and lack of health care are prime motivators as immigrants look to the promise of a better life in America. Escaping vicious crimes including rape, extortion, torture, and murder, also make families and individuals more than willing to risk their lives to enter America.

Politically unstable and corrupt governments unwilling, or unable, to address these root problems their countries create the atmosphere from which their citizens flee.

Climate change is already another motivator and will only become increasingly significant as the world heats up. The warming climate is destroying the ability to grow some crops in Central America, including coffee. It wrecks whole economies in communities, leaving people unemployed and destitute.

If we want to stem the flow of economic and climate change refugees to America, we need to invest in working with the Central American leaders to stabilize their governments and help them with economic development that improves their standard of living. But we are going in the opposite direction today – pulling away from constructive engagement with our Central American neighbors.

As to secure borders, we need an investment in border patrol agents, surveillance technology, and, yes, to some degree, walls. But we most certainly do not need to spend $20 billion on a wall that won’t accomplish what its supporters say it will. It is a costly symbol, not a realistic solution to the challenges of border security.

We also know that Trump and Republicans simplify the discussion of border security to a wall. It is far more, as we pointed out above Democrats in Congress support border security measures, they just think spending on an ineffectual 2,000-mile border wall.


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