President Trump’s very public oval office push to secure $5 billion in funds for the border wall—and the Democratic leaders’ public refusal to go along with the idea—leaves many wondering if we might see an end of the year government shutdown over mass, illegal uncontrolled immigration.
But if President Trump is successful in securing the $5 billion in funding for the wall and the wall is built, will it actually work to deter illegal immigration? The answer is an unambiguous Yes! If there’s any doubt, one need look no further than the San Diego sector of the U.S.–Mexico border.
Three decades ago, I stood on a small hill less than 100 yards away from the border south of San Diego with Alan Nelson, the former Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS, today’s Customs and Border Protection) who came to work with FAIR as a consultant after leaving INS. I watched the former commissioner shake his head in disgust as dozens and dozens of illegal aliens ran past us, making their way into the U.S. in broad daylight.
In those days, the San Diego sector was ground zero for illegal immigration. Despite that fact, the only thing separating the U.S. from our neighbor to the south was an old chain link fence that had been smashed to the ground, trampled by hundreds of thousands of pairs of feet as they stormed into the U.S. I can very clearly remember looking at the commissioner and commenting, “God help us if any of these folks are terrorists.”
Fast forward to just a few weeks ago, as I stood in virtually the same spot in the San Diego sector, having been dispatched by FAIR with a media response team to report first hand on the arrival of the 7,000 strong illegal alien caravan from Central America, which had slowly trickled into Tijuana and set up camp just on the other side of the border.
But instead of facing an old broken down chain link fence, the would-be illegal aliens faced a border wall, which had been built piece meal over the years by the Border Patrol with the public support of the congressional delegation from Southern California and other elected officials who wanted to stop illegal immigration. At that moment I saw for myself that if it wasn’t for that border wall—and the ubiquitous presence of the men and women of the Border Patrol—that the caravan would not have stopped in its tracks in Tijuana, but would instead be well within the U.S.
The border wall, although it only extends a few miles inland, has all but stopped what would have been a mass, uncontrollable dash into the U.S. by 7,000 people intent on entering our nation at any cost. The wall has instilled a sense of order into what would have otherwise been full-blown chaos.
Clearly, the border wall won’t stop all illegal immigration, but it certainly serves as an enormous physical deterrent to those who want to enter illegally, while also protecting the lives of the Border Patrol agents who guard it. The importance of that wall in controlling illegal immigration is so central that it’s impossible to think of ever gaining a handle on illegal immigration without one.
And that’s why Congress should work with the president to secure its funding and get it built.