The impasse between Congress and the president over funding a wall along the southern border has inspired letter writers on both sides of the argument. Unfortunately, some of the letters that support President Trump include factual inaccuracies that disqualify them from being published as submitted — but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good learning opportunities.
So, borrowing the “Ask Amy” format, I will dispel some of the myths and misconceptions that surround the idea of a border wall.
Dear Luis: Anyone stating that border barriers aren’t effective need not continue the conversation as they are no longer credible. There are barriers installed on the border with data on the number of illegals entering before barriers installation and data on the number of illegals entering after the barriers were installed. The reduction in the number of illegals entering after the barriers were installed was truly amazing. — Walls Work
Dear Walls: Border barriers are effective — and I’m not just saying that to continue the conversation — the trick is where they’re located. Look, no matter how tall you build a barrier, people are going to get over it. A wall or fence simply slows down someone trying to cross. If you’re next to a city or an area where there is law enforcement presence, a barrier makes sense, since it gives the authorities time to intercept before a border crosser mixes in among the general population. Out in the middle of nowhere, it doesn’t matter.
If you’re crossing in the remote desert, thanks to technology such as drones or surveillance towers, you’ll be spotted days before you get close to a population center or a road where you could be picked up. Also, while apprehensions did go down, it’s not clearly attributable to barriers. Initially, traffic simply shifted to more desolate areas. More recently, a reduction in border crossing has also been attributed to an improved economy and lower birthrates in Mexico.
And FYI, everyone got together and agreed that “illegals” is no longer a word we use in polite company. Pass it on.
Dear Luis: How about the 14 police dead at the hands of illegal aliens? How about the average citizens dead as a result of illegal aliens? Why does President Obama have a wall around his estate? Why do congressmen and senators have walls around their homes? If walls do not work, then, to paraphrase President Reagan, “Tear down that wall, President Obama.” — Criminals are Coming
Dear Criminals: Crimes committed by people in the country illegally should be prosecuted, and those guilty should be punished, but two things: 1) Studies have shown that immigrants commit crimes at a lower level than native-born Americans. One study even found that states with more undocumented immigrants tended to have lower crime rates. 2) A wall is not a solution for keeping people from coming, so it’s a moot point anyway.
Why are we so worried about foreigners committing crimes? It could have something to do with a president that spreads fear (American carnage brought to you by non-Americans) along with the lies (Obama’s home does not have, as Trump claimed, a wall).
Dear Luis: Some months ago, my son caught my grandson, Antonio, with marijuana in his bedroom. Most drugs enter the U.S. across our southern border. The impasse over border security is an example of failed leadership by both political parties. Stop fighting Trump; start fighting for Antonio and his classmates and their families. This is common sense. — Worried Grandmother
Dear Worried: Yes, a lot of drugs come in through the southern border, but most hard drugs — including those that are killing Americans as part of the opioid epidemic — come in through the ports of entry. Numbers from Customs and Border Protection tell the tale: For fiscal year 2018, Border Patrol agents seized 6,423 pounds of cocaine, 532 pounds of heroin, 10,382 pounds of methamphetamine and 332 pounds of fentanyl. Compare that to seizures at the ports, where officers seized 47,945 pounds of cocaine, 4,813 pounds of heroin, 67,292 pounds of methamphetamine and 1,357 pounds of fentanyl.
Marijuana is the only drug that is smuggled more between the ports than through legal crossings, but education is a better way to keep teens away from marijuana than a wall.
Dear Luis: Over the last few years we have seen an enormous increase in Central American migrants attempting to come here. Most are fraudulently claiming asylum, when they are really just seeking economic benefits. Democrats in Congress now oppose any border structure. Why? Because if a border structure was built, these Central Americans could not enter illegally and claim asylum. — Asylum Con
Dear Asylum: There has been an increase of Central Americans requesting asylum, but even if the wall were built tomorrow, it would have zero effect on asylum seekers. Regardless of the merits of their claims (that’s for a judge to decide), it is perfectly legal to ask for asylum. If anything, the money the president is asking for could be put to infinitely better use improving the immigration court system, so it can better handle the backlog of cases that has made asking for asylum so attractive since it can take years for a case to be adjudicated.
There is an undeniable attraction to simple solutions, but the reality is that a barrier as envisioned by President Trump, along the entirety of the border, would not fix anything. It would be a waste of resources and a national embarrassment. We can all agree that illegal immigration is a problem, but no serious person can claim a wall is the answer.