The department has already announced where the barriers would go. There would be five miles in the San Diego Sector, 14 miles in the El Centro Sector, 27 miles in the Yuma Sector, nine miles in the El Paso Sector, 55 miles in the Laredo Sector in Texas, and 104 miles in the Rio Grande Valley Sector in Texas.
In all, counting work that is done, being done, and planned, the administration would build 330 miles of new barrier, 150 in areas with no barrier today.
All of it is a project that, in a less crazy time, might be the subject of bipartisan approval. Indeed, as the White House is fond of pointing out, bipartisan majorities in Congress voted in favor of an extensive border barrier back in 2006.
Politics aside, the bottom line is that even the relatively short lengths of barrier the Trump administration is building will do good. Just look at some of the fencing made from rusted steel helicopter landing mats from the Vietnam era. The administration is replacing it with imposing barriers that will discourage illegal crossings. That’s a net plus.
And there is no doubt such barriers work. In San Diego, for example, a barrier has made a tremendous difference. “In the 1980s, migrants overran the border and the Border Patrol,” the San Diego Union-Tribune reported in 2017. “Thousands gathered nightly on a small slice of the border … there, men, women, and children waited for nightfall before making their passage.” In 1986, agents apprehended an astonishing 629,656 illegal immigrants in the San Diego area.
When U.S. officials constructed one barrier, and then another, that number fell dramatically; by 2015, apprehensions fell below 30,000.
Now, the flow of migrants presents a new and different problem. While smaller than several years ago, it is largely made up of families and unaccompanied children who have no valid claim to asylum but who cannot, by U.S. law, be returned to their home countries. As long as those migrants can freely cross the border, they can stay in the United States — a situation that will attract more and more illegal immigration.
The president’s proposal, which in addition to a barrier contains provisions for more immigration judges, more Border Patrol agents, more detention beds, more medical resources, and more technology, would improve the situation. If the political debate were not being fought at such an extreme pitch, that might be obvious to all.
The main thing is, the Dems don’t want Trump to have a win on his signature policy, because they figure that will cement his re-election. Everything else is noise.