Texas has a proud history of Americans and Mexicans traveling across the border to the benefit of each nation. The result is an extraordinarily unique and prosperous relationship, and we must ensure that goods, services, and people continue to flow across our border to the advancement of all. Our economies are stronger, our people are stronger, and our nations are stronger when the border works as it should.
Any informed Texan will tell you that our border, in far too many places, is dangerous and broken. The effects of cartels, gangs, terrorists, human traffickers, and all manner of criminals are reaching ever farther into our states and communities. Human beings are used as currency for evil criminal organizations to gain power and wealth. American citizens are dying. Immigrants who seek to come here are dying.
The president is correct to demand that these atrocities end immediately. Excuses from either party must end. No more race-based pandering from the left and no more shilling to the financial interests of big corporations on the right. No more nonsense about fences “not working” or excuses about the inability to construct a fence due to parks and the large amounts of private land along the Rio Grande.
Failing to provide necessary resources to establish operational control of our border is a dereliction of our constitutional duty. That means we build fences and navigable roads. That means more border patrol agents and more judges. That means more technology. That means cane-clearing along the Rio Grande. It is common sense, and here is why.
Today, along our border, a young child will be abducted or exploited by cartels who have found that trafficking in the sex trade can be as lucrative as trafficking in drugs. Amnesty International estimates 20,000 migrants each year are abducted in Mexico on their trek to cross the southern border.
Roughly one-third of women making their way across the southern border illegally are victims of sexual assault, according to Doctors Without Borders. It is so common for migrant girls to be assaulted and killed by the smugglers they pay to smuggle them across the border that local ranchers coined the term “rape trees” because the border is littered with victims’ clothing.
Children sometimes travel by themselves, often riding on the top of train cars and exposing themselves to a journey so dangerous that no American can truly comprehend, only to be exploited by cartels and gangs as shields for criminals claiming asylum. In May 2018, Border Patrol agents apprehended an MS-13 gang member attempting to illegally cross the border with a group of children he claimed were his. Guess what? They weren’t.
Today, along that same border, dangerous fentanyl is making its way into our country, and it will ultimately kill young Americans. In 2017 alone, 882,039 pounds of drugs were seized by the U.S. Border Patrol, and nearly 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. Regardless of how you feel about our drug laws, dangerous opioids and other narcotics have no business being shipped by illegal criminal organizations onto our streets and into our homes.
Since 2011 in Texas alone, 175,000 illegal aliens have been charged with more than 437,000 criminal offenses. Last summer in San Antonio, an illegal immigrant needlessly killed a young and vibrant Texan named Jared Vargas. Law enforcement apprehended the murderer multiple times but released him, his final release just days before he killed Jared.
Like thousands of other American families, the Vargas family is left without a child, a brother, a nephew. They are left wondering how this could happen. The incontrovertible reality is that our border is not secure, our immigration system does not work, and the consequences of this reality are simply too significant to ignore.
Fences have worked since the dawn of time. We currently have 46 miles of reinforced fencing along the San Diego sector of the border. Before construction began in 1986, there were 629,656 arrests. Compare that to 31,891 arrests in 2016. Fences are, in fact, a viable 21st-century solution.
Instead of bickering over what we know to be a reality, how about we just start? Let’s start in Brownsville and work up the river. We will clear cane where needed. We will add a fence where needed. We will make navigable roadways for Border Patrol, along with cameras and radio towers.
Will we encounter obstacles? Sure. If a rancher needs water, we will leave an opening, post a guard, put up a working camera, move a mile up the river, and keep going. When you get to Big Bend, maybe we put up a fence, maybe we don’t, but let’s find a solution.
It is time to acknowledge and declare our collective resolve that the era of lawless borders is over. It is simply immoral for our nation to continue turning a blind eye to what is happening to both American citizens and those seeking to come here.
This is not a partisan issue. It is a humanitarian crisis for all. Americans should demand our leaders address it today, regardless of party.
It is a solvable problem. Let’s quit hiding behind excuses and secure the border now.