- The Washington Times - Friday, February 1, 2019

Border security experts told President Trump on Friday that border walls not only play an important role in stopping illegal immigration but also have saved children from sex trafficking.

As the president continues to build his case for action — with or without Congress — he hosted sex-trafficking experts at the White House to hear about the latest schemes and what authorities are doing to stop them.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen reported on what she called a “child recycling ring” that used illegal immigrant children to pave the path for other illegal immigrants.

Carl McClafferty, associate chief for intelligence at the U.S. Border Patrol, said he managed to track down one of the rings and found a woman who was being paid $1,500 per child to collect them from the U.S. and take them back to Guatemala to be used in future migration efforts.

“She claimed to do this 13 times,” Mr. McClafferty said. “We found out they were recycling these children.”

Timothy Ballard, a former Homeland Security special agent and now CEO of Operation Underground Railroad, told Mr. Trump that fencing actually could help stop some cases of children being smuggled across the border for illicit purposes.

He recounted one case in which a girl was “groomed” in Central America, then smuggled across the southern border “where there was no wall” and taken to New York.

He then described her horrifying situation of being “raped for money every day, 30-40 times a day.”

“Had there been a wall, had there been a barrier, this little girl likely would have been saved, because the traffickers would have been forced to take this child through the port of entry, where we have amazing law enforcement,” Mr. Ballard said. “They can detect, they have equipment, they have trained agents.”

To underscore the point, he recounted a story of a 5-year-old boy kidnapped in Mexicali in northern Mexico by an American man who ran a child porn ring in San Bernardino, California.

Mr. Ballard said there’s a wall at that part of the border between Mexicali and Calexico, California, so the man had to try to bring the boy through the border crossing.

“And guess what? It worked. We captured him, we rescued the little boy, and subsequently rescued 12 other children in San Bernardino, California. The difference between those two cases is two plus two equals four. The wall was the difference,” he said.

“The wall rescued this little boy and the lack of a wall caused this little girl to go through a hell that is indescribable,” Mr. Ballard said.

After the experts were done with their presentation, Mr. Trump addressed reporters, telling them that those sorts of situations are repeated thousands of times.

He signaled his frustration with ongoing negotiations on Capitol Hill, where Republicans are trying to secure funds for a border wall, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she won’t allow any funding to be part of an eventual deal.

Mr. Trump said he’s still looking at going around Congress and using emergency powers to have the Pentagon do the construction.

And he shot down fears that such a move would land in years of legal fights.

“Well, we have very strong legal standing,” he said.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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