Border walls work well to defend a defined border. They are worthless in defending against our amnesty policies of bringing in illegal immigrants from the other side of a wall.
The entire discussion over a border wall and a few billion in appropriations is moot if the judicial tyranny and lawfare driving our asylum policies continue. Border walls are very effective, but if we actively bring in even the illegal immigrants standing outside the fence and believe it is our duty to do so, then what would change if we had more walls?
In recent days, the border migration in the El Paso sector has shifted somewhat from New Mexico to the city of El Paso, Texas, itself. Almost 1,000 people, mainly from Guatemala, came in just on Wednesday of last week. In El Paso, we have the much-vaunted 18-foot fence that is the paradigm for what Trump would like to build elsewhere. The question is, how did these illegal aliens get into the country if they were behind the fence? They did not climb over, as has been done at the Yuma fence in recent months, and were not at an opening or port of entry. It appears that they just stand at the fence and, wait with the confidence that agents will come pick them up.
Reuters reports that those who came in last week in El Paso were not deterred by the fence because Border Patrol herds them to the gates and brings them in. Reuters snapped photos showing the migrants waiting at the south side of the border wall to be picked up. As the El Paso Times reported, “Some migrants reported waiting most of the day Wednesday for the Border Patrol to pick them up as they stood on U.S. soil along the Rio Grande levee on the south side of the tall metal border fence.”
When I reached out to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) by email and asked whether agents are now actively picking up illegal immigrants from the south side of the fence, and whether agents are getting legal guidance mandating such action, I was told, “They generally cross the river bed from Juarez and walk up to the south side of the border wall and wait for agents to pick them up.”
The political implication of this development in the eyes of the public and Trump’s base in particular cannot be overstated. In almost every area of our border, and certainly along the Rio Grande River, our border fences are recessed a significant distance into our interior. If this administration is going to continue to accede to the notion that it must bring in anyone who makes it onto our land, even when they are on the other side of the fence, this means that the border wall is moot. CBP could construct an impervious wall from Brownsville to San Diego a hundred feet high, but if our agents are still directed to pick up those on the other side, then what is the point?
Fences worked great back when apprehending illegal aliens meant deporting them expeditiously. Now, we have made it our policy to release almost anyone we catch from Central America. Thus, they walk right up to the wall and we go around and bring them in. Once in, they are released within days, sometimes within 24 hours.
Consequently, this is no longer about more assets, fencing, and border agents like it was in the past, when we were actually trying to deter and turn back illegal immigrants. With the current flow of Central Americans, and with our administration abiding by the most extreme lower court opinions, all the assets we throw at our border will actually be marshalled into facilitating the invasion rather than deterring it. Tragically, in some ways, it’s even worse to have agents in places where there is fencing, because agents are the immigrants’ ticket to entry when they would otherwise have no easy way in.
More fencing and more agents would always be worthwhile in deterring the criminal activity and the cartel member who cross with drugs and known criminals and who will never surrender themselves to agents at a border wall. However, it will do nothing to stop the general flow of illegal immigration until the administration changes its policies or Trump uses his inherent and delegated authority to shut off all cross-border migration.
At some point, conservatives must start asking what this administration’s end game is. Even Obama eventually got tough and started deporting more illegal aliens when they surged in 2014 just because of the sheer embarrassment to his administration. The Trump administration, on the other hand, seems to be following every last extreme lower court ruling over and beyond even what the courts are asking for. At some point, the Constitution is not a suicide pact, much less unconstitutional lower court rulings. If this administration is so weak that it will actively bring in anyone who comes here and then release them, it is a more severe amnesty than anything we fought against in previous years. We are far past the point of debating a border wall. This administration seriously needs to decide whether we have a border at all.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.