As the Biden campaign ratcheted-up its rhetoric leading to the 2020 election – decrying not another mile of wall would be built – I, as the former acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, knew they were playing a dangerous game of politics. From an operational perspective I knew the cost and how it would jeopardize our border security.
Infrastructure, has been and remains, an essential component of our government’s multi-layered border security enforcement strategy. Although any form of infrastructure in and of itself is not the total solution, combined with effective and innovative state of the art technology and adequate personnel, it dramatically increases CBP’s ability to acquire appropriate situational awareness and respond to threats coming to our borders. The wall acts as an effective impedance and denial tool allowing law enforcement personnel to better drive and dictate the behavior of criminal organizations, thus reducing their impact. Historical data collected over decades provides clear and convincing evidence that in every location along the southwest border (SWB)–where the layered approach has been implemented–every measure of success improves and makes our borders more secure.
But what would it cost American taxpayers financially to halt construction of the border wall? We learned early on it would cost billions to walk away. However, our collective warnings and outrage concerning the impact to our national security and American taxpayers were ignored by the Biden administration and seldom mentioned by the mainstream media. On January 20, 2021, President Biden issued a Presidential Proclamation halting construction of the congressionally funded border wall. But a recent report released by Senator Lankford, confirmed halting the SWB border wall has cost U.S. taxpayers at least $2 billion since President Biden was inaugurated. Every passing day adds $3 million to the price tag. Senator Lankford spoke openly concerning his opposition to Biden’s action, calling it “absurd” and noting that “it’s ignoring the law and ignoring the very real national security concerns posed by illegal entry across our very open southern border”. I couldn’t agree more.
It wasn’t that long ago, in the aftermath of the single worst terrorist attack our country has ever suffered, Washington joined together on a bi-partisan effort to pass what is commonly known as the 2006 Secure Fence Act (SFA). With more than 80% of U.S. senators voting to approve the SFA, it directed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take appropriate actions to achieve “operation control” over the U.S. international land and maritime borders. The law codified the long-standing multilayered strategy used by the Border Patrol for years–consisting of personnel, technology, and infrastructure to “prevent unlawful border entry.” The SFA further defined operational control as the “prevention of all unlawful U.S. entries, including terrorists, other unlawful entries, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband”. This strategy has been widely accepted as the prevailing mandate driving border security operations, resources, and congressional appropriations.
Ironically, the SFA specifically delineates its goal to “provide for at least two layers of reinforced fencing, installation of additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors…” Sound familiar? This acknowledgement and support of the decades-long proven Border Patrol multi-layered strategy paved the way for a new understanding concerning the global nature of the threats facing the U.S. and the important role of border security. The SFA gained resounding support from prominent congressional members – Sens. Biden (D-Del.), Clinton (D-N.Y.), Carper (D-Del.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kerry (D-Mass.), Obama (D-Ill.), and Schumer (D-N.Y.).
The SFA resulted in thousands of Border Patrol personnel being hired, along with the mandate to acquire new innovative technologies, and more than 650 miles of wall being constructed along the SWB from 2006 -2011.
Years following the highly supported SFA, Democrats were demanding accolades for their support of the wall, often bragging about the wall’s effectiveness.
“I voted numerous times when I was a Senator to spend money to build a barrier. To try and prevent illegal immigrants from coming in.”
“Illegal immigration is wrong, plain and simple.” “People who enter the United States without permission are illegal aliens and illegal aliens should not be treated the same as people who enter the U.S. legally.”
“630 miles border fence [have been funded] that create a significant barrier to illegal immigration”
“And let me tell you something folks, people are driving across that border with tons, tons, hear me, tons of everything from byproducts from methamphetamine to cocaine to heroin and it’s all coming up through corrupt Mexico.”
“I voted for a fence… I voted for 700 miles of fence.”
Statements made by both Republican and Democrat presidents and lawmakers in the past illustrate what has traditionally been and should still be a united front when it comes to border security. They also showcase the unconscionable hypocrisy of today’s Democrats. Somewhere between Senators Biden, Clinton, and Schumer bragging about how they voted to spend money to build a wall and how it created a significant impediment to illegal immigration, it’s now become “ineffective” and “immoral”. The hypocrisy is undeniable and their motivations abundantly clear.
Then there’s this. The cost of building the wall is far less than the annual $132 billion America spends subsidizing illegal immigration, mostly in the areas of education, health care and criminal justice. The taxpayer burdens of not securing our borders far exceeds the cost of securing it. A sovereign nation is a sound investment.
Those who are willing to be intellectually honest and adhere to Ronald Reagan’s perspective – “A nation that cannot control its borders is not a Nation”, must remain steadfast in our efforts to demand meaningful action from our legislators and the White House. We cannot be swayed by those who are driven by ideological hubris and the quest for perpetual political power.
Mark Morgan is a senior fellow at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the former acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).