Enough people were arrested last year crossing the U.S./Mexican border illegally to populate a fairly large American city—more than 480,000. But that’s only the ones who were caught. Estimates are that more than 1 million people trekked into America without bothering to pack their passport in 2016 alone. That’s more people than live in Fort Worth, Texas.
Many of those people came fleeing violence in places like Honduras, El Salvador and Pakistan. Some brought the violence with them. Perhaps a few simply jumped the fence because they didn’t have the money to apply for a visa—a hefty $300 that doesn’t guarantee you’ll get permission to enter. All presumably desire to avail themselves of the liberty our founders chiseled out of a brutish land and nourished with their blood. Nobody blames people desiring that freedom.
But every person who hopped that fence made his or her first act on the free soil of America an offense to those very forbears, by committing a crime that made America a little less of what makes it so rare among the nations of the world—a place where people play fair. Where they respect each other and the law. A country where people believe in giving more than they get. Entering illegally is a brute-force act of thievery against the citizens of this country, much like the hungry man who raids his neighbor’s cabinet rather than ask for charity or a job.
In the late 1980s there were 600,000 illegal crossings in the tiny San Diego sector alone. The 13-mile stretch of desert north of Tijuana was an unbroken Latin conga line heading north. The first fence installed in 1990 was little more than a speed bump, a 10-foot metal barrier made up of old Vietnam-era landing mat. In no time, earthen berms were thrown up on the south side of that fence, and hordes of aliens swarmed over it day and night. Then in 1997, someone got serious, and a 13-mile stretch of border was fortified with a second, much more substantial 18-foot “no climb” fence. This made a big difference in the San Diego sector, but effectively just pushed much of the migration further east.
Last year that second fence was breached more than 800 times. More than 26,000 people were arrested crossing illegally in that sector, which, though substantial, is still a tiny fraction of the numbers seen in the 80s.
This year the numbers have dwindled to a trickle—down more that 70 percent from 2016. Why? The border fence didn’t get higher, and there are not substantially more agents patrolling the fence. The reason is simple. President Donald Trump declared we would not allow it anymore.
Fleeing to America is a costly gamble. Whether one is fleeing the roiling gangland of the iron triangle in central America, or Salafist extremism in the Middle East, or corrupt Socialism in Venezuela or Cuba, making your way to the U.S. is a last-ditch effort for most—a Hail Mary into the end zone of life. During the Obama administration that looked like a pretty good bet, considering the messaging that was coming out of Washington.
Many times those bets went sour. The trip north is fraught with danger. Robbery and rape are stock-in-trade for smugglers along the route. Shakedowns by corrupt police are a foregone conclusion. Death and disease stalk those trudging through the merciless Darien Gap.
But when the new president said emphatically, “You will not be allowed to enter,” it changed the cost-benefit analysis of those who might be tempted to try. Force of will is proving to be more substantial than an 18-foot steel barrier.
Liberals love to carp, “No person is illegal,” somehow trying to assert that every hovel-dweller the world over has a Gaia-endowed right to American taxpayer-funded Medicare and education. Pedantic bromides notwithstanding, anyone with a grasp on third-grade arithmetic knows that can’t possibly work.
Individual charity calls for men to give of themselves to help those less fortunate. It does not, however, expect you to feed everyone else while your own family starves. Yet liberalism perverts the concept of charity, encouraging as many as possible to come suckle at the teat of government largesse in the vain hope of buying the loyalty of the dependent, with little regard for the fact that the sow is already dangerously thin and malnourished.
The man is not a bigot who desires to preserve the safety of his family. It is not an act of selfishness to oppose the destruction of one’s homeland. In fact, the most loving thing Americans can do for those less fortunate around the world is to preserve the beacon of freedom that is the United States of America.
And that’s why we’re building a wall. Today, in the desert outside Otay Mesa, Calif., at the eastern end of the 13-mile “secondary fence,” rise eight prototypes of concrete and steel. Like a strange modern Stonehenge, they display the ingenuity of a people who desire to build something lasting, permanent. These prototypes are an attempt to answer the question of how to build a barrier that will definitively put the U.S. back in control of its southern frontier.
Some are simple 30-foot concrete barriers. Others have thorny encrustations along their crowns. Most extend at least 12 feet underground, to discourage tunneling. Now that the contractors are finished with construction, the US Government will evaluate the merits of each and decide what the final construction will look like.
That we’ve gotten this far is a minor miracle in and of itself. Despite Trump’s belief that Mexico will ultimately pay for the wall, so far the prototypes have been funded by re-routing monies that were designated by the previous administration for other improvements to border security. Funding construction of the barrier will ultimately rely on the art of the deal, as it were, as the Trump administration struggles to convince Congress of the merits of making America safe again.
One would think that would be the easy part, but alas, there are many politicians who see the wall as a barrier against millions of potential future voters.
Some argue a wall will not work anyway. It’s the “taller ladder” theory.
But I say the barrier itself will not be near as effective as the force of will that would see it built.
Chuck Holton is a veteran Army ranger and NRATV correspondent.