Who else was surprised to wake up last Thursday and learn that the Biden administration was resuming construction on the border wall?
This was among the many policies that we at Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) supported when we brought dozens of elected officials, journalists and other concerned citizens down to the border four times this year. During these trips, Border Patrol stressed that building walls in strategic locations are an indispensable component to securing the border.
What constitutes a strategic location? Border Patrol highlighted three different areas with unique challenges: urban/suburban areas where border crossers can blend in or escape into this country’s interior within minutes or even seconds; rural areas where it will take immigrants hours to disappear; and remote areas where it might take immigrants days or even weeks to disappear.
Unsurprisingly, Border Patrol consistently said that walls are most effective in urban/suburban areas.
That brings us to the Biden Wall. It will be built entirely in Starr County, which is part of the Rio Grande Valley sector in southeastern Texas.
It is understandable why this would be a good area to build a wall. Route 83, never more than a few miles from the border, offers immigrants quick access to two highways leading into the country’s interior. It also offers quick entry into the McAllen metropolitan area, where immigrants can disappear among the local populace.
Walls, of course, aren’t meant to completely stop people from crossing the border. They are meant to impede and control them. Thus, critics who argue that walls are ineffective because people can simply go over, under, or through them, miss the point. In urban/suburban areas, where seconds count, a wall, or, better yet, parallel walls, can detain border crossers just enough to convert gotaways (of which, there have been at least 675,000 this fiscal year) into apprehensions.
However, it’s important not to overstate the case for walls either. A wall is not going to deter give-ups, that is, people who simply turn themselves into Border Patrol. At the border, we heard stories of migrants waiting in the bed of Border Patrol trucks for agents to return and take them to the nearest station, as well as migrants calling Uber to drop them off at the station!
Unfortunately, the government doesn’t keep track of give ups. But from anecdotal evidence, most family units and unaccompanied minors fall into this category. Together, these two groups make up more than 1/3 of all apprehensions between ports of entry at the southwestern border.
A border wall also won’t stop the flow of most fentanyl from Mexico. Of the 25.3 thousand pounds of fentanyl that entered the U.S. from Mexico through August of this fiscal year, about 90% of it came through ports of entry. No border wall is going to stop that.
A wall cannot do everything. We still need to increase Customs and Border Protection personnel, build more roads and modernize our technology. The Biden administration needs to stop incentivizing illegal immigration by passing regulations that make it nearly impossible to hire legal immigrant labor.
And Congress needs to streamline and expand legal channels so that immigrants don’t rush the border to apply for asylum. But a wall is still an important piece of the larger border security puzzle.
Jordan Fischetti is a policy fellow at Stand Together.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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