Nelson Balido: Five facts about the U.S.-Mexico wall (that are Lost in Rhetoric)
One of the hallmarks of GOP nominee Donald Trump’s platform is a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Using natural barriers where feasible, his plan is to build a 35 foot to 40 foot wall 1,000 miles long. While the idea has been much discussed on the campaign trail, from a border security perspective, the details and implications have been insufficiently debated. Setting the rhetoric aside, there are many aspects to a border wall that Americans need to know.
It took President Obama more than a year to pass the disastrous Affordable Care Act. Funding the wall would be just as contentious.
Here are five facts stand out that voters should understand:
1. Illegal border crossings will continue. There is a perception that if the wall is high and long enough, it will be insurmountable. But a wall of any size only pushes smugglers and others to dig deeper tunnels or build taller ladders. We know this from experience. When the current 18-foot fence was installed in McAllen, Texas, Border Patrol officers began collecting 19-foot ladders in such number that station supervisors said to stop bringing them in.
Rather than an impenetrable bulwark, a wall is a force multiplier. Like ground sensors, radar, cameras, and the existing 650 miles of fencing along the border, a wall gives Border Patrol additional time to respond to an attempted crossing. As former Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Ralph Basham wrote in 2009, “All it really does is buy you time where a crosser could otherwise quickly escape or assimilate. None of the fencing is impenetrable. People will eventually dig under it or cut through it or go over it, but it gives you enough time to respond and apprehend them.”