- - Thursday, July 20, 2017

Based upon President Trump’s promise to secure the U.S. Border with Mexico, illegal immigration plummeted during the first half of 2017. In the first three months of his presidency, illegal border crossings fell by nearly 75 percent from that of the previous year and represented a historic low in the modern history of the Border Patrol. What President Trump accomplished is nothing short of a miracle, but he can’t continue to do it alone. Border security is not the sole responsibility of the White House; it’s also the responsibility of Congress.

The initial dramatic declines in illegal border crossings demonstrate that when our government sends a clear message that people who attempt to cross our borders illegally will be turned away, far fewer people make the attempt. Conversely, when the government signals that crossing the border illegally is likely to pay off, people break our laws in large numbers. Unfortunately, most of the time, our government incentivizes illegal immigration.

Since the American people cannot rely upon their government’s resolve to turn away illegal border crossers, we will continue to need physical barriers to discourage people from entering the country illegally. Even under the best of circumstances the Border Patrol cannot detect, much less prevent everyone from entering illegally along the nearly 2,000 miles of border we share with Mexico.

A secure border fence, particularly the double-layered fencing called for in the bipartisan Secure Fence Act of 2006 (Pub.L. 109367) and which Mr. Trump pledged to build, would provide another level of deterrence to those contemplating illegal entry. In all areas of law enforcement the most effective and humane way of enforcing laws is convincing people not to break them in the first place.

There is an additional benefit to deterring illegal border crossers who are attempting to enter the United States in search of jobs or access to public benefits. Convincing those people that they are unlikely to succeed would allow the Border Patrol to focus its time, energy and resources on preventing people who are not looking for jobs or other benefits from sneaking into the country. The border region is home to dangerous and violent criminal cartels and a vulnerable underbelly to be exploited by jihadists and other terrorists.



The more economic migrants who can be discouraged by a formidable border fence, the more likely it is that our agents can prevent smugglers, terrorists and other miscreants from making their way to the interior of the country. Large numbers of economic migrants provide cover for small numbers of dangerous ones. Even if they can’t prevent illegal entry entirely, secure border fences slow down even the most determined criminal or terrorist buying valuable time for the Border Patrol to respond and apprehend people who pose a threat to our safety and security.

The cost of secure border fencing is not insignificant, but it pales in comparison to the costs of not deterring and interdicting people coming across the border illegally. Constructing a border fence represents a one-time cost to the American taxpayers. Large-scale illegal immigration presents recurring costs — in the neighborhood of $100 billion a year at the federal, state, and local level — for countless public benefits and services that must be provided to illegal aliens and their dependents, not to mention the loss of jobs and erosion of wages for American workers who have to compete with illegal aliens.

The human costs of not taking reasonable precautions to prevent criminals and terrorists from entering the country are, of course, incalculable.

The 16,000 men and women I represent as president of the National Border Patrol Council are dedicated to protecting the security of the American people, and stopping people who pose a danger is our highest priority. As human beings who have witnessed, all too often, the tragic consequences of people attempting to cross the border illegally we want to deter as many people as possible from putting themselves and their families in danger. Mother Nature, border bandits, smugglers and human traffickers show no mercy in desert borderlands.

Moving forward with construction of the border fence approved by Congress more than a decade ago, along with other steps now being implemented, is a crucial component of a comprehensive strategy for securing the border. A strategically placed barrier that saves lives and taxpayer dollars can aptly be described as a “big beautiful wall.”

• Brandon Judd is a border patrol agent with nearly 20 years of experience and president of the National Border Patrol Council, representing more than 16,000 border patrol agents.

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