What’s it like at our southern border? You hear so many stories that sound so lacking in compassion. Depending on their politics, critics of our immigration policies either portray the border patrol and the Trump administration as heartless and cruel, or not forceful enough. For a truer perspective, Sophia Lee spent weeks interviewing migrants and riding with the border patrol. She reports in World Magazine.
To Border Patrol, the massive spike of family apprehensions at the border creates plenty of opportunities for criminals to take advantage of the chaos and dysfunction. Many migrants arrive with no birth certificates or ID, so Border Patrol has to call their country’s consulate to procure their biographical information—and at times, the supposed parent has no relations to the child. “That’s scary,” Carbajal said. “Are these kids kidnapped? Rented out? What if drug cartels are taking advantage of these kids and our laws?” Sometimes, the children unwittingly put themselves in danger. In one case that Carbajal worked on, a 17-year-old girl from Guatemala showed up with two younger siblings, ages 4 and 7. She said she had a 45-year-old male contact in New York whom she had met on Facebook—and when Border Patrol ran the man’s records, several child molestation charges came up. Out of sheer desperation or foolish naïveté or both, the girl had been willing to travel thousands of miles to seek refuge from a man she had never met.
Anatomy of a wall
Not so simple, is it? It’s easy to sympathize with the migrants, at least those fleeing gang and cartel violence, and corrupt politicians and police. Some say that the United States is guilty of having fostered those conditions, through CIA-driven overthrow of unfriendly but supposedly less corrupt governments, and meddling in the politics of the less well-governed Latin American countries. Others say that the Democrats want to undermine our border security and invite hordes of potential democrat voters in to violate our immigration laws and suck up our tax dollars in free services. There are probably some elements of truth in both sides. The one argument I totally disagree with is the one that says “immigrants have a right to get into the United States because we are all immigrants.” I have previously made my objections known. I believe that we need an effective and orderly way to admit immigrants, and that our present system is not working, and cannot work with such unsustainable chaos along our southern border. What about a wall? More of Sophia Lee’s report continues.
The San Diego Sector of the border runs for 60 of the 1,933 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border along deserts, shrubby hills, a beach, and heavily populated towns. Currently, about 46 of those 60 miles have some sort of physical barrier between Mexico and the United States.The first walls were built in 1999—6-foot-high metal panels made up of donated Vietnam War scraps that weren’t meant to prevent people from jumping over but to prevent vehicles from speeding through, cutting down on high-speed vehicular chases that resulted in deaths and accidents. Border Patrol later put barbed wires on top of those panels, but people still managed to push it off the top, throw a thick rug over, and then hop across.
Then in 2007, under the Bush administration, Border Patrol built another set of walls out of steel mesh and barbed wires on top, but people cut giant squares and U-shaped holes out of the mesh with cordless power tools. Almost every section of those walls has distinct square-shaped patches. Border Patrol plastered more barbed wires up and down the mesh walls, but that hasn’t stopped people from crossing through.
Next came the 18-foot-high steel bollard wall built last November under the Trump administration, hardly the concrete blocks Trump had originally envisioned. These steel bollards are far more effective: Inside each hollow bar is cement to prevent people from trying to pry the bars apart, and on the top are large, smooth steel plates to prevent people from climbing up the bars and hopping over. Two inches of space separate each bar, wide enough so border agents can see through, but narrow enough that the average man wouldn’t be able to lop his arms around and climb it. In addition to the physical barriers, Border Patrol has installed stadium lights and cameras and motion sensors in certain areas, as much as its budget allows.
I have previously discussed the problems with any wall. My post of yesterday about prisoner transport was testing the waters about some ideas I have about controlling the migrant flow. That’s next.