It is rather disappointing that securing our southern border has become a partisan issue. While President Donald Trump was addressing the nation on Tuesday night, new media darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex was on MSNBC calling for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Author and historian Jon Meacham was on social media quoting Ku Klux Klan convention quotes in favor of building walls, implying it was racist to secure the border.
It was not racism that caused Democrats to support Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s own border barriers. Fences were built and, when illegal immigrants scaled them, taller walls were built. Securing the border is not racist.
President Trump wants just over $5 billion to build 234 miles of additional barriers along the southern border. His administration and the border patrol both acknowledge, even if the president’s own rhetoric does not, that there are certain parts of the border where a physical barrier is unneeded or would do more harm than good. There are privately owned farms along the Rio Grande with farmers who require access to the water for their herds. Those are areas that can use other means to secure the border.
While the media rushed to ridicule President Trump’s claims about heroin coming across the border, the reality is that 20 percent of the heroin seized at the southern border is seized by border patrol agents catching it. Thirteen percent of the cocaine seized came from border patrol agents. Seventy-one percent of marijuana seized came from border patrol agents. Again, these are not percentages of drugs seized at points of entry, but by border patrol agents working the unsecured portions of the border between the United States and Mexico.
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A great unknown is how much gets across that does not get caught. Likewise, how many people make it across who are not caught? We know drug cartels have taken over most of the human smuggling, too, including children and other victims of human trafficking. We also know that it is not practical or feasible to have border patrol agents stationed everywhere. In those locations, a wall is practical.
Last February, Democrats were in favor of giving the president $5 billion to build more border barriers in exchange for allowing the so-called Dreamers to stay in the United States. It was the president’s own folly that killed that deal. Having made the deal, the president walked it back based on conservative backlash. This has always been the most reasonable deal. They should go back to it.
Democrats and many members of the media are “fact checking” the president about the money he wants spent. The reality is that the $5 billion is for more than just a wall. The president wants to expand the number of judges who can hear immigration asylum claims; expand the number of facilities to house asylum seekers; increase the number of customs agents at the border; and increase the number of border patrol agents. The president’s former adviser, Marc Short, noted on CNN that the Democrats have publicly been agreeable to all these things, but behind closed doors they have rejected them.
Democrats think the border issue helps them. They have turned the border into a partisan matter. Meanwhile, every day more people, drug, and traffickers cross the border. A secure border should not be a partisan issue and that it is partisan is a good benchmark for how poisonous our political climate has become.
Erick Erickson is host of Atlanta’s Evening News on WSB Radio.