President Donald Trump has consistently promised to build a magnificent wall across the Mexican border, but the outgoing head of the Customs and Border Protection Agency says that such a wall would do little to keep illegal immigrants out of the country. In an interview with ABC News, Gil Kerlikowske argued that Trump’s proposal would be an expensive mistake.
“I think that anyone who’s been familiar with the southwest border and the terrain kind of recognizes that building a wall along the entire southwest border is probably not going to work,” Kerlikowske said.
On his final day in office, Kerlikowske said that a wall would not even address one of the most common ways that illegal immigrants get into the country.
“They can come right up to our ports of entry,” he said. “All our ports of entry of course are open. That’s where we have our commerce. People can come up to those ports of entry, as they are doing now, and turn themselves in and ask for whatever laws they feel will protect them.”
Kerlikowske said he didn’t believe it was “feasible” to build a cost-effective barrier on the border.
“When we look at the cost –– and we have about 600 miles of fencing now –– we look at the maintenance and the upkeep, we know how incredibly difficult it is,” he said.
Kerlikowske said it was difficult to define what it meant by a “secure border.”
“I think the definition is in the eye of the beholder,” he said. “Does it mean nobody gets in ever? Does it mean 400,000 is too many? I think you have to put it into context, but it is a safer place today.”
In other words, the Obama administration did enough; there’s no need to build a wall or deport anyone or do anything other than what we’re doing. It’s just fine if we have a few hundred thousand illegal immigrants pouring over the border every year. What are ya gonna do about it? It’s life.
The cost, practicality, and effectiveness of Trump’s wall will be heavily debated, and that’s as it should be. If it isn’t going to do what it’s intended to do, then maybe we should take a different approach. The people who voted for Trump aren’t wall enthusiasts; the point is to stop illegal immigration. If you can do that with security lasers and border agents and the end of catch-and-release, fine.
But yes, Mr. Kerlikowske: The goal should be “nobody gets in ever.” Can we make that happen? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But we can damn sure get a lot closer to that goal than we did under Obama. And wall or no wall, Donald Trump has a mandate to make it happen.