In 2017, then-President Trump signed an executive order to improve situational awareness at the southern border by improving available technology. A recent report published by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) found that only 28 percent of the surveillance and subterranean technology laid out by the order is being deployed.
Much like the strategic border initiative under then-President Obama in 2009, this order ended up being a massive waste of time and money for the most part, and the improvements were sabotaged by a politically-driven refusal to secure our borders. For starters, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) lacks the adequate resources to roll out the new tech to its full capacity. This is largely due to inadequate funding further aggravated by stalemates facilitated by congressional Democrats which aimed to prevent additional money from being routed to the border. One such stalemate caused the longest U.S. government shutdown in history when Congress refused to include border wall funding in an appropriations bill.
Second, technological effectiveness is further hampered by a lack of manpower. CBP has historically struggled with being understaffed. In 2017, President Trump called for 5,000 new Border Patrol agents in order to supplement enforcement effectiveness. As a result, CBP brought in 3,448 frontline personnel, an increase of 46 percent from 2018 to 2019. Border Patrol grew by 93 agents and even outpaced attrition.
Even still, the increase is nothing compared to what is needed in order to efficiently patrol our southern border, especially when we have an administration which continues to invite chaos at the border.
Lastly, situational awareness and technological improvements on their own are not enough to combat the waves of illegal entries, asylum seekers and cartels headed for our southern border. Apprehension data from the last four years proves that the most effective border security measure is the border wall, yet President Biden has halted construction. A drone or iPhone app may assist with surveillance but neither can prevent people from entering illegally.
While Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas may think what is going on at the border is a mere “challenge,” it is in fact a full-blown crisis driven largely by an increase of migrants attempting to enter the country illegally on the heels of absurd immigration policies linked to the Biden administration.
With talks of mass amnesty, it is likely President Biden will try to leverage technological “improvements” like what was detailed by President Trump in 2017 as a trade-off in their amnesty proposal. But like we saw with the Reagan Amnesty in 1986, open borders advocates rarely negotiate in good faith, and these promised trade-offs and enforcement contingencies are rarely implemented.
No trade-off, especially one that is so ineffective, is worth the costs that an amnesty incurs.