Quick fixes for bor­der is­sues

There are ac­tions Trump can take on Day One

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Wil­liam C. Triplett II Wil­liam C. Triplett II is the for­mer chief Repub­li­can coun­sel to the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee.

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.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY GREG GROESCH

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