While Donald Trump, who very much wants to be the Republican candidate for President, is not the first person to suggest building a wall along the entire United States border with Mexico, he has certainly brought it back into the conversation in America. Whether you agree with Trump on building the wall or not, every nation has the right, I believe the responsibility, to control its borders. The US/Mexico border from the sister cities of Brownsville, Texas/Matamoros, Tamaulipas to San Diego, California/Tijuana, Baja California is 1,952 miles long. There are 14 pairs of sister cities that push hard against the border. American property rights and Mexico’s lax building codes in these cities have allowed development right to the line in many, if not most, cases.
In these areas where high density and close construction make securing the border difficult, a vehicle and pedestrian barrier makes sense. In fact, it is really the only way to control a border that just a generation ago was merely a formality. It is predominantly in these areas that the United States has erected the costlier pedestrian/vehicle versions of the approximately 650 miles of various barriers built to date at a cost of $2.4 Billion. The variety of barrier along the border ranges from the simple and relatively inexpensive vehicle barriers in New Mexico to the massive triple fence complex east of San Ysidro, California. In Texas the Rio Grande generally serves as the dividing line but with the region’s voracious appetite for water even the river proves a minor obstacle to illegal immigrants. Geography, population density and location make certain barriers advantageous.
In highly crowded settings where border crossers can quickly blend into the local population very expensive bollard or high steel fence barriers are needed. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel simply cannot respond quickly enough in these areas to stop lawbreakers without the expensive pedestrian/vehicle barriers. But there are hundreds of miles of U.S./Mexico border that are demarcated by a five strand barbed wire fence if anything at all. There are areas of our border that are so treacherous that the land itself becomes the barrier. It is in these areas, the majority of the border in fact, that building a wall makes little practical and no financial sense at all.
Technology is changing our world and border control is no different. Just as technology allows us to x-ray entire trucks for contraband at the border and check incoming shipments for radioactive material it also allows us to see people traversing the desert for hours, sometimes days, before they arrive at the border. Ground sensors can alert border guards of approaching vehicles with plenty of time to respond. Balloons, drones and aircraft give agents a view of illegal crossers from the sky. These technologies allow those protecting our border to do more than ever before with fewer personnel at a lower cost than an ultimately breachable fence or wall.
It isn’t the lack of a wall that keeps us from securing our border with Mexico. It is an administration that talks about controlling our borders while actually encouraging this invasion from the south with its policies. While some may try to frame those who want us to control our own borders as racists or anti-Mexican, the real national security dimensions come into focus when viewing the average of 441 Other Than Mexican (OTM) illegal border crossers apprehended EVERY DAY.
And that’s just the ones who got caught.
Gary Gillen owns and operates Gillen Pest Control in Richmond. He is the only person in history to have served on both the Richmond City Commission and the Rosenberg City Council. He was the Chairman of the Republican Party of Fort Bend County 2006-2007. He can be reached at Gary@GaryGillen.com