During the campaign, President Donald Trump repeatedly vowed to implement new border protection and law enforcement activities along the U.S-Mexico border, including construction of a border wall.
So, Wednesday’s executive actions should come as no surprise.
The Texas Border Coalition (TBC) has long maintained that we cannot rely on outmoded strategies and tactics to halt the illegal entry of people, weapons, drugs and contraband into the U.S. We recommend a strategic investment at the border itself, attacking the powerful drug cartels in cooperation with the Mexican government before their smuggling operation crosses the border, preventing them from crossing between the ports of entry.
In Texas, we suggest taking advantage of the Rio Grande River by moving Border Patrol up to and onto the water. The Border Patrol maritime force is highly successful at preventing illegal river crossings when they have boats on the river. We recommend putting more boats and agents on the river.
On the ground, we suggest eradicating the Salt Cedar and Carrizo Cane on the riverbanks that obscures sightlines and hides criminal activity. In addition, all-weather roads are needed to provide Border Patrol agents access to the river.
At the ports of entry, we support S. 458 (114th Congress) authored by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn to improve the infrastructure, technology and communications used by Customs agents to stop drug trafficking and facilitate legitimate trade and travel. It would also increase the Customs force 5,000 agents. Any increase in staffing must be accompanied by management reforms that slash overtime and better balance the number of supervisors with frontline employees.
Finally, securing the border requires hiring enough judges to process the thousands of families and unaccompanied minors who surrender to Border Patrol and Customs officials seeking asylum. The current backlog of more than half-a-million cases demands Congress double the number of immigration judges to 524.
TBC looks forward to working with local community leaders, elected officials in Austin and Washington and the new Trump Administration where we can to develop smart, effective border policies that keep terrorists, illegal border crossers and drugs out of the country, and expedite people and goods across the border.