COMMENTARY: A wall is a good place to start

by Jan 30, 2019OPINIONS





The recent government shutdown accomplished very little and showed the American citizens just how divisive and tribal we have become.  What’s even more disturbing is that we have attributed our need, or lack thereof, for border security to be determined by which political party we belong to.  Estimates have put the cost of the shutdown to the tune of some $11 billion but most of this will be recouped via our current strong economy.  A bigger fear is that which can’t be easily recouped:  an ever-growing hostile political landscape that has pitted us against each other with no real resolution in sight.

Those who always look for something to “bash Trump” with did so with the government shutdown club.  Those who are his staunch supporters dug in even further and lambasted the idea of open borders.  Is Donald Trump to blame for the shutdown?  Absolutely.  But not any more than the Democrats who have openly voted, on a couple of recent occasions, for walls or fences to be built along our southern border.  What changed from 2006 and 2013 till now that caused Democrats to do a 180 on wall building?  If a wall is ineffective and “anti-immigrant” are those Democrats that previously voted in favor of wall building anti-immigrant?

One undeniable and indisputable fact that can be answered and vouched for by security experts alike is that physical barriers or “walls” DO work.   They even worked here in pre-Colombian America when tribes would often fight amongst each other.  And yes, Native Americans did build defensive walls, usually made of wood and more akin to a palisade structure, to defend villages and important structures from other tribes.  Even pre-Colombian Cherokee (and post) built fortified structures for defensive measures; what we would call walls in today’s vernacular.  Did this make our ancestors “racist” or discriminatory towards other tribes?  Hardly.  But, it was definitely thought of as a necessity at the time by our ancestors to do what was needed.

Security experts such as the head of the current Customs and Border Patrol agency, Kevin McAleenan who also served in the CBP during the Obama administration, has stated that a border wall system is very much needed to secure our border.  Even the former CBP chief during the Obama administration, Mark Morgan, has come out recently advocating for stronger border security including building a wall.  And while a wall by itself couldn’t serve every single border security purpose, it would be a very important building block in upgrading our border security to the point of keeping people out who aren’t supposed to be here.

In cities along the border, wall-like structures that were recently built have already proven their usefulness.  In San Diego in 1986, almost 630,000 arrests were made for illegal border crossings. In 2018, that number dropped to 26,086 making San Diego go from one of the easiest places to cross the border to one of the hardest. A border wall system built in the 90s and frequently upgraded is what happened.  In El Paso, another border town, something similar happened once a wall was built in strategic parts of the border.  What is unique about El Paso is that it sits directly across from one of the most crime ridden cities in the world, Ciudad Juarez.  What is also unique is that much of the violence in Juarez has not spilled over into El Paso even though they are so close in proximity.  This, too, is attributed to a wall coupled with strong border security.

And, for those of you still skeptical about border security and building “walls” know that roughly 52 percent of all Customs and Border Patrol agents are Hispanic, mostly Mexican.  All are American citizens.  And all see the importance of securing our borders.

Any and every type of group of people imaginable relies solely on its future existence on being able to defend its way of life and ensure that the next generation of its people can do the same.  It would be unfathomable to think that a lack of security would be the same as maximum security and that somehow these two could have the same results.  The fact of the matter is that walls, barriers, fences etc. serve a unique purpose to thwart and even deter illegal border crossings.  Should we solely rely on “walls” to secure our borders?  Absolutely not.  Both sides of the isle have agreed and do agree with this.  But a wall is a good place to start.