U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy’s column in the March 15 edition of The Advocate explains why he is supporting President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to build a wall on the southern border. He implies that a wall will stop illegal drug importation, sex trafficking and illegal immigration. These claims deserve scrutiny.
The DEA in its National Drug Threat Assessment states that the most common method of smuggling drugs is through legal points of entry. Other methods are through the use of tunnels, commercial cargo trains, and passenger buses. To a lesser extent, drugs are smuggled through remote areas using backpackers.
According to research by Polaris (a nonprofit organization fighting global human trafficking), the majority of human trafficking victims in the U.S. are born in the U.S. Other victims cross through legal ports of entry including airports. The recent arrests made at a Florida spa provide an example of how people are trafficked into the U.S. through legal ports of entry.
Walls and barriers have little effect on drug smuggling and human trafficking. When strategically placed, they undoubtedly help deter illegal border crossings. However, walls and barriers are only effective if they are frequently patrolled and/or remotely monitored. Patrolling and monitoring of remote areas along with an increase in personnel will likely be more effective, cheaper and quicker to implement than constructing a wall on the border. The increase in apprehensions as compared to the past few years is presently a result of people turning themselves in to seek asylum. An increase in personnel would more effectively deal with the issues currently facing the border patrol.
How can a multi-year construction project be deemed a national emergency? Is Congress content to continue ceding to the executive branch its constitutional authority to allocate funds?