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Tag: border wall

Columnist: Trump’s Pledge to Build 2,000-Mile Border Wall Is Pure Theater’

By Steve Neavling

President Trump’s visit to California to inspect prototypes for a border wall was “pure theater” by a “performance artist.”

So wrote Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman, who argues Trump won’t come close to fulfilling his campaign pledge to build an impenetrable, 2,000-mile wall along the border and get Mexico to pay for it.

The length of the wall has already been cut in half – to 1,000 miles with large gaps.

“The cost would be enormous,” Chapman wrote. “An internal report by the Department of Homeland Security put the price at $21.6 billion. A study by the Democratic staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee calculaIted it at $70 billion, not counting maintenance.That’s more than $200 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. — and zero dollars for every man, woman and child in Mexico.”

Chapman said Trump’s claim that the wall would be “99%” effective “is enough to make a lizard laugh.”

The Congressional Research Service concluded the “primary fence” but in San Diego “by itself, did not have a discernible impact on the influx of unauthorized aliens coming across the border in San Diego.”

The Coast Guard also reported that 95% of drugs smuggled from Mexico to the U.S. come in container ships or other boats. And when there is a fence, drug dealers dig a tunnel to cross.

Border Patrol Agents Warn Trump Wall Will Drain Vital Resources at Checkpoints

Border Patrol agent makes an arrest. Photo via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling

Border Patrol agents are questioning President Trump’s proposed border wall, saying the plan would draw resources away from the agency’s already understaffed at busy checkpoints.

Agents who inspect vehicles and scrutinize drivers at the Laredo North checkpoint said Trump’s contention that a wall is the most effective way to reduce illegal immigration ignores the importance of checkpoints, The Associated Press reports

The AP wrote:

The Trump administration’s latest budget proposal includes $1.6 billion to start building a wall that the administration has estimated will cost $18 billion. It asks for funding to hire more Border Patrol agents. It also includes $33 million to build a new Border Patrol station in Freer, Texas, northeast of Laredo. But it doesn’t directly address needs at other checkpoints, and it proposes zeroing out new spending on tactical infrastructure like roads used by border agents and replacement border fencing.

The proposal also would end funding for efforts to find and destroy border tunnels built by cartels to get under existing barriers. Border security experts have warned that constructing a wall will lead to smugglers trying to dig more tunnels.

Some Democrats are calling for an investment in scanners, interceptor boats, radio towers and other improvements.

“They’re taking money away from proven law enforcement systems to put it into this 14th century solution,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Laredo Democrat who sits on the US House subcommittee directing homeland security funding.

The CBP declined to comment on the wall proposal.

Border Arrests Surge Amid Trump’s Pledge to Decrease Illegal Crossings

Border Patrol agent makes an arrest. Photo via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling

President Trump’s pledge to prevent undocumented immigrants from entering the U.S. has hit a major snag as arrests surge along the Southwest border.

According to a new federal government report, people being arrested or denied entry along the Mexican border has increased for the seventh straight month. 

Those cases reached 39,006 in November, marking a 12% increase over October. The cases have more than doubled since April.

While it’s unclear how many undocumented immigrants are slipping into the country undetected, the number of arrests and entry denials are a good indicator of the trends in people trying to enter the U.S. illegally.

Trump has trumpeted the decline in arrests during the early months of his presidency. What’s unclear is why the numbers are rising.

Group of Republicans Criticize Trump’s Border Wall, Offers Multi-Faceted Alternative

border patrol 3By Steve Neavling

President Trump’s most famous campaign pledge – to build a border wall and get Mexico to pay for it – has been attacked by his own party as clumsy, cost-prohibitive and singularly focused.

On Thursday, a group of Republican senators unveiled legislation that would increase border security without having a severe impact on trade, the Washington Post reports

The legislation, which is backed the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, calls for $15 billion over four years to increase Border Patrol agents, ICE officers, immigration judges and prosecutors and to improve border security infrastructure such as fences, surveillance and levees.

“Border security is not a one-size-fits-all proposition; we need an approach that will work at each unique place along the U.S.-Mexico border,” Cornyn told reporters Thursday.

The idea, the senators said, was to “regain the public’s confidence” after what the Post called “several rocky legislative months.”

Homeland Security to Waive Environmental Laws to Erect Border Wall

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

By Steve Neavling

A stretch of border wall will be replaced without an assessment to the environment, the Trump administration announced Tuesday.
The Washington Post reports that Homeland Security plans to waive requirements under the National Environmental Protection Act, which mandates extensive reviews of environmental impacts.
Calling it an overreach, the Center for Biological Diversity in San Diego plans to challenge the decision.
The Post wrote:

It will mark the sixth time that the department has exercised that authority since 2005 and the first time since 2008.

A law passed in 2005 gave Homeland Security broad authority to waive “all legal requirements” to build border barriers following years of ultimately unsuccessful court challenges to border wall construction in San Diego on grounds that it violated environmental laws.

Congress passed the law to blunt similar efforts elsewhere and it led to hundreds of miles (kilometers) of new U.S.-Mexico border fencing in the final years of President George W. Bush’s administration to its current total of about 650 miles (1,040 kilometers).

Last week, the House of Representatives approved the administration’s request for $1.6 billion to start building Trump’s border wall, which would include replacing 14 miles (22 kilometers) in San Diego covered by the latest waiver and building 60 miles (96 kilometers) of new barriers in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. It was unclear if or when Homeland Security would issue waivers for Texas, which is currently the busiest corridor for illegal crossings.

Trump Proposes Cuts to TSA, Secret Service, FEMA to Pay for Border Wall

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

Donald Trump wants to free up money for his border wall by mulling cuts to the Coast Guard, TSA, Secret Service and FEMA.

The budget reductions would cut deeply into notable national security and emergency response initiatives, ABC News reports. 

Under the proposal, the administration would cut $1.3 billion from the Coast Guard’s budget, which is a 14% reduction over last year.

TSA stands to lose more than $500 million, and FEMA would be cut by $370 million.

But whether Trump can get Congress to approve the reductions is an entirely different story. Republicans and Democrats questioned the wisdom of the budget cuts.

“The White House needs to go back to drawing board with its budget and produce something to Congress that is workable, realistic, and, most importantly, keeps our country safe,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Other Stories of Interest

Homeland Security Candidate Distances Self from Trump on Border Wall, Russia

Marine Gen. John Kelly

Marine Gen. John Kelly

By Steve Neavling

President-elect Donald Trump and his nominee for secretary of Homeland Security don’t see eye to eye on two critical issues.

During his confirmation hearing Tuesday, retired Marine Corps General John Kelly expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of a border wall and said that he agrees “with high confidence” that Russia tried to influence the presidential race, Bloomberg reports.  

“A physical barrier in and of itself will not do the job” at the border, Kelly said. Instead, he favors a “layered defense,” including the use of border patrol agents and technology such as drones that would work in “places that perhaps the wall can’t be built or will be built any time soon.”

Kelly said he’s talked about the wall with Trump “only briefly.”

If confirmed, Kelly would be the first former general to lead Homeland Security since it was created in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack.

“I have never had a problem speaking truth to power, and I firmly believe that those in power deserve full candor and my honest assessment and recommendations,” Kelly said in his opening statement.