Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Problem with "the Wall" - By Mark A. Hewitt

When Donald Trump began his presidential campaign with what was considered incendiary comments: “When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best... they're sending people that have lots of problems” and that he would complete the United States-Mexico border fence and “make Mexico pay for it.” 
After my five years with the U.S. Border Patrol stationed along the southwest border, I learned much regarding the efforts to solve the 2,000-mile-long border fence and illegal border crossing interface. The United States and Mexico share several significant natural barriers, hundreds of miles of treacherous open desert, from California to Texas, and several impenetrable and unscalable canyons of the Rio Grande River valley. When you exclude the impassable areas of the border as a conduit for illegal border crossings, you can focus on those areas that require additional man-made barriers and law enforcement deterrents…..

(Full text at link below)

To stop the flow requires a fundamental shift in ideology in policing illegal immigration. Strategic and impenetrable fencing augmented by more border control agents, in high-intensity drug trafficking areas, especially those focused on intercepting and preventing illegal entries at the border, have proven to be the correct solution in stemming the flow of illegals and contraband, and for Europe, undesirable refugees. Pictures of frustrated refugees on one side of a heavily protected and sturdy fence with numerous border guards on the other epitomizes the deterrent and collaborative effect of fencing and enforcement. If the cops go home, the illegals will defeat the fence. If the border agents are resilient and maintain their presence and vigilance, the refugees go somewhere else.
Policies focused on finding and deporting illegal immigrants who had already crossed the border have been negated by this administration and other Democratic administrations. There may be a few intrepid individuals that succeed in defeating Mother Nature’s barriers. I was in a Marine Corps Search and Rescue unit in Yuma, Arizona in the late 70s; it was not uncommon for us to find in the desert the remains of illegal border crossers. Some will always try their luck, to go around the border fence that stops in the middle of the desert. 
The Clinton administration withheld operations and maintenance funding for the Border Patrol as a way to remove Border Patrol agents from the field in order to facilitate greater illegal crossings. In 1995, President Clinton wouldn’t say, “Don’t do your job and look the other way.” We had Border Patrol agents who would buy gas with their own money to take a USBP vehicle to “go to work” and chase illegal aliens. My favorite anecdote was that it was so bad under the IN&S and President Clinton that some agents siphoned gas from the seized cars of drug smugglers so they could interdict and apprehend illegal aliens. At that time, the Border Patrol still apprehended a million illegal aliens annually -- and deported them -- while reporting at least two million illegal aliens “got away.”
The Obama administration has told U.S. Border Patrol Agents to not do their job, to not interdict illegal aliens crossing the border, that if they didn’t like the policy that they could find another line of work. This policy obviously and effectively removes border guards from the strategic fencing in those cities and ports of entry, as well as those who would patrol the border. Any fencing was rendered immaterial by the direction of the president to stand down. Also, the policy has effectively grounded every Border Patrol pilot. 
The presidential candidates have recently advocated for up to 20,000 additional Border Patrol Agents in addition to “a Southern wall” or more robust strategic fencing. A headline: "Border Crime Taking a Toll on Residents in Southwest New Mexico, Arizona". “Residents have said state Highway 80 has become a favorite for Mexican cartel drug runners who manage to navigate out of the Peloncillo Mountains along the Arizona-New Mexico border. They want an even more increased presence from the U.S. Border Patrol.”

America needs several walls along the Southwest border as well as a policy of enforcing the immigration laws already on the books.  When the Border Patrol is able to do their jobs, they apprehended and deported a million illegal aliens annually; actions that weren’t hard or unreasonable. It’s the law. 
Ask a Border Patrol Agent where “a wall” needs to be built and how to prevent illegal immigration -- not a politician.

Mark A. Hewitt was with the U.S. Border Patrol for five years.  He recounts some of his experiences with the Border Patrol in his espionage thrillers, Special Access and Shoot Down.