Quick fixes for border issues
There are actions Trump can take on Day One
Heroin deaths have crossed the 100 barrier as reported by the Police Department in Anne Arundel County, Md., on a billboard outside its headquarters in Millersville. At this rate, deaths may reach 120 by the end of the year. That would mean that 20 young residents of my county who are alive today will not live to see the New Year as a result of heroin and fentanyl illegally trafficked across the border into the United States from China and Mexico. Elsewhere in the country a small group of early-teen girls, some of whom might be American citizens, are being shoved into a van, and moved by the Mexican cartels from one stash house to another one step ahead of law enforcement. The cartels have discovered that human sex trafficking is a lucrative sideline to their robust drug smuggling business. Misery piled on top of misery.
In yet another part of the country, individuals who have been deported multiple times are committing serious crimes, including rape and murder, against American citizens. Just recently, a 10-year-old child, Kayla Gomez-Orozco in East Texas, was murdered by a previously deported illegal alien from Mexico.
This is the everyday reality of a de facto open borders policy promoted and supported by the donor class of both American political parties.
There is, however, hope for border issues that didn’t exist before Nov. 8: Donald J. Trump has been elected president of the United States. Throughout the campaign, Mr. Trump pointed to border issues needing immediate attention beginning with border security itself. In one of his first statements as president-elect, he named border issues as one of his first priorities.
By contrast, during the third presidential debate, moderator Chris Wallace noted that Mrs. Clinton had not issued any plan at all to secure the border. WikiLeaks revealed her husband told donors that securing the border was “a long way off,” perhaps implying that it never would be secure.
Obviously, the major border issues, such as physical construction, will take some time to get authorized and funds appropriated, but what quick fixes are possible before that?
During a visit to South Texas last month I met with federal, Texas state and local officials separately. I asked them this question: What can the new president do to improve border security on his first day in office without new legislative authority or new appropriations? That is, what are the short-term fixes that might have a speedy impact?
The immediate answer was to close the Falfurrias, Texas Border Patrol Station and move its personnel back to the border. At the moment, it is 70 miles from the Rio Grande River. The consequence of having the station so far from the border now is, in effect, to surrender vast portions of South Texas to the Mexican drug cartels. As one Vietnam veteran put it, “It’s like having [the Viet Cong] inside the wire!”
Another quick-fix recommendation they offered was to direct the U.S. attorneys to prosecute vigorously assaults on federal officers. The border is getting more and more violent and currently, U.S. attorneys do not place a high priority on protecting Border Patrol officers. Illegal aliens know there is little risk in assaulting an officer.
One stroke-of-the-pen recommendation was improving the active situation of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection along the border. For example, strategic and tactical aircraft control should be given to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) commanders on the front lines. As the level of violence from the Mexican side increases, Customs and Border Protection boats on the Rio Grande need to be up-armored and mounted with M240G machine guns. Finally, and this is the most controversial: Rules of engagement should be changed. They need to reflect the reality of the border: If fired upon from the Mexican side, CPB officers should be allowed to fire back and not be forced to pull their boats off the water.
Longer term, those working border issues recommend that government agencies have a united diplomatic approach in demanding that Mexico “mirror-image” what the United States is doing on our side. Yes, there are now bilateral meetings with the Mexican government aimed at border cooperation, but what is proposed here is something far more serious.
Finally, there is the issue of manpower. The CPB is roughly short 2,000 officers and agents from what Congress has authorized. This means that existing CPB personnel routinely put in a lot of overtime, resulting in diminished morale and higher than normal attrition.
None of these quick fixes will solve the overall problem, but if they can save the life of even one young person in Anne Arundel County or anywhere in the United States, they would be worth it.