‘A wall can­not be de­feated the way a fence can be de­feated’

Na­tional Bor­der Pa­trol Coun­cil head de­fends Trump plan

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

Build­ing more bor­der walls would help fun­nel drug smug­glers over to where agents can catch or stop them, the chief of the Bor­der Pa­trol agents’ la­bor union tes­ti­fied to Congress on Thurs­day, bol­ster­ing the case for Pres­i­dent Trump’s call for a bar­rier on the U.S.-Mex­ico di­vide.

Bran­don Judd, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Bor­der Pa­trol Coun­cil, also said a wall is bet­ter than fenc­ing be­cause it’s too easy to breach the fence with torches, cut­ting holes that smug­glers can pass their loads through.

“I have a brother who’s also a Bor­der Pa­trol agent, who spent two years and all he did ev­ery day is patch holes in a fence,” Mr. Judd re­counted in tes­ti­mony to the House Over­sight Com­mit­tee. “A wall can­not be de­feated the way a fence can be de­feated.”

U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion is aware of the prob­lem. In its re­quest for pro­to­type walls, it asked for mod­els that will be able to with­stand breach at­tempts for up to four hours.

Mr. Judd’s tes­ti­mony came as de­bate over the wall heats up on Capi­tol Hill. While the pres­i­dent said he wouldn’t in­sist on fund­ing in the spend­ing bill Congress is rush­ing to pass right now, he will want money by the end of the year to be­gin con­struc­tion.

Democrats and some Repub­li­cans — par­tic­u­larly those from bor­der states — have said Mr. Trump hasn’t jus­ti­fied the wall, and won­dered whether more bar­ri­ers are needed given that il­le­gal cross­ings are al­ready down dra­mat­i­cally just months into the Trump pres­i­dency.

Ex­perts said there’s no need for a wall across the bor­der, as Mr. Trump had at one point posited, but some of the spe­cial­ists said a bit of con­struc­tion would ab­so­lutely help con­trol the flow of il­le­gal con­tra­band across the bor­der.

Seth M.M. Stod­der, a for­mer se­nior Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cial, sounded a dis­sent­ing note, say­ing that walls are the wrong so­lu­tion. He said drug smug­glers will take to tun­nels or fly hard drugs over the wall, and said build­ing the wall could ruin co­op­er­a­tion with Mex­ico on anti-ter­ror­ism and anti-gang cases.

“A wall will not help us ad­dress any of the most press­ing chal­lenges we face at the bor­der — and likely will make ad­dress­ing them more dif­fi­cult,” he said.

Mr. Judd, though, said a wall will help fun­nel drug smug­glers, and will also cut down on the car­tels’ abil­ity to send il­le­gal im­mi­grants across the bor­der as a dis­trac­tion. He said smug­glers have found they can draw agents’ at­ten­tion to one part of the bor­der by push­ing mi­grants through there, then car­ry­ing or launch­ing a load of heroin across the bor­der else­where.

Agnes Gib­boney, whose son was killed by an il­le­gal im­mi­grant, said a wall would help ease her mind.

“I would go and work on the wall my­self,” said the woman, who is in her 60s and who ap­peared be­fore Congress on the 15th an­niver­sary of her son’s slay­ing. An il­le­gal im­mi­grant was con­victed of man­slaugh­ter in the case.

She bris­tled at those who have mocked or joked about the wall, say­ing they haven’t had the same ex­pe­ri­ence she does.

“I don’t see what’s funny about it, be­cause they have not been af­fected by it per­son­ally,” she said.

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, coun­tered that pay­ing for the wall could siphon money from else­where in the bud­get such as the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health. He said there are “equally com­pelling par­ent sto­ries about peo­ple los­ing their lives be­cause we haven’t in­vested there.”

Mr. Judd, whose fre­quent tes­ti­mony to Congress of­ten con­tains shock­ing de­tails about prob­lems on the bor­der, said lax en­force­ment poli­cies are ac­tu­ally help­ing gangs to re­cruit.

He said some il­le­gal im­mi­grants who are caught try to claim asy­lum and, while de­tained, then use their time in cus­tody to try to re­cruit other il­le­gal im­mi­grants into gangs.

“They’re ac­tu­ally re­cruit­ing, while they’re in our cus­tody, they’re re­cruit other in­di­vid­u­als to join their gangs,” Mr. Judd said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Bran­don Judd, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Bor­der Pa­trol Coun­cil tes­ti­fied on Thurs­day in fa­vor of cre­at­ing a bor­der wall. Mr. Judd ar­gued that smug­glers get through fenses.

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