One of the chief criticisms both Republicans and Democrats lobbed at Donald Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall across the Mexican border was, simply, that it wouldn’t do that much to curb illegal immigration. It was too expensive and too environmentally unfriendly; America was not going to spend $20 billion on a concrete barrier that wouldn’t do much, in the first place, to keep people from crossing into the country. After all, couldn’t determined travelers simply burrow under the wall or climb over it with a rope?
Well, not so much, say the people who know best. According to a new feature story from Fox News, members of the Border Patrol say that years of experience have taught them that barriers act as a significant deterrent to illegal immigration.
From Fox News:
“The evidence shows that barriers work,” says Pete Hermansen, a 22-year veteran of the Border Patrol and former director of the agency’s tactical and rescue teams. “In urban areas, a wall makes sense. In more remote areas, sensors and mobile cameras may be the right choice. But you can’t say fences don’t work.”
Before San Diego built a 46-mile fence in the late 1980s, border agents were overwhelmed by illegal traffic from Mexico. In 1986, the agency arrested 629,656 illegal immigrants, almost the population of Las Vegas.
Today, the 60-mile sector is almost entirely fenced. Apprehensions last year fell to 26,086, a 95 percent drop, as double fencing in the most populated areas replaced barbed wire and 6-foot-high steel mats.
“Fences have made a big difference,” said Tucson Sector Chief Rudy Kirsch. “It reduced the traffic flow of immigrants and drugs across the border.”
The agents are speaking at a time when eight different wall prototypes have been constructed and tested by special ops teams in Florida and Texas. The prototypes, say those privy to the tests, have been able to withstand virtually anything the teams have thrown against them – including blowtorches and jackhammers. As far as climbing over them? Forget about it.
“The walls were so high we had to suspend testing. It was unsafe,” said one Department of Homeland Security official. “Out of dozens of attempts, one guy made it to the top but he couldn’t get down. We had to bring him down with cherry picker.”
Is the wall – in whatever form it takes – going to solve illegal immigration in one fell swoop? No, and no one ever thought that it would. But if we can cut the rate of border crossings by 50+%, that makes an enormous difference for the future of our nation. We’re talking about an investment that will pay for itself in no time, regardless of whether or not Mexico ever ponies up a dime.