No one cares more about border security than those of us who actually live, work and raise our families along the border. We will never achieve true border security until Congress fixes our broken immigration system. We believe this is tragic.

None of these issues are new. We have been working on these issues for over 15 years, myself and others. We have been living on the border with these issues. 

We have seen Washington’s prior approach to dealing with the issues fail because of party politics. This is not a Republican or Democrat problem. It is an American problem that has been made vastly more complicated by the congressional failure to truly address it. 

Monica Weisberg-Stewart

If we do not address our border security issues with a three-pronged approach the cartels will continue to find our weakest points and continue to exploit women and children, smuggle drugs and inflict pain on our American way of life. It’s scary, it actually looks like the cartels have a better plan at times than we do.

This three-pronged approach includes immigration reform, stronger ports of entry and or as some refer to them, border crossings, which are manned by CBP, the men and women in blue, and between our ports of entry, which are manned by the Border Patrol, the men and women in green. 

The first prong in dealing with immigration laws, we believe DACA needs to be addressed once and for all. The guest worker program for agriculture workers, hopefully we can get the Senate to pass. We believe visas need to be based on supply and demand. Our asylum laws definitely need to be updated. The issue of the children traveling alone needs to be addressed. We believe keeping Title 42 on the border is essential for what is happening at the border currently. 

We need facilities to manage the influx. The hiring of judges, this needs to be done immediately. We have started to do this through past administrations. It is just talking so long to get those judges up to date and on the border. It is ridiculous. It needs to be done so we can already take care of these issues. And, most importantly, consulting with the border leaders themselves. Again, we are right on the border. Our leaders are our judges, our mayors. They are dealing with these issues day in, day out, and we understand what is actually happening.

Ports of entry to us are very important. Unfortunately, many do not realize that our ports of entry are still closed. They have been for almost a year. It is based off of essential travels. We know that the reopening those ports of entry is going to look a little different than the way we used to do things. But they need to be open. It is affecting us, extremely badly economically along the border region. 

The hiring of personnel is extremely important on the CBP side. The men and women in blue, we need to hire the amount of personnel that is actually needed along our border area. Our infrastructure is antiquated. Our bridges are definitely in need of updating. Technology is most important in today’s day and age. Vaccinating our officers, our men and women in blue and our men and women in green needs to be done immediately. They are definitely in need of PPE and the dividers on our ports of entry. We believe COVID testing to enter our country just like when traveling by air is essential today, especially since our border regions have been hotspots. 

We believe, again, especially for our ports of entry, Congress needs to consult with border leaders before they enact new policies because sometimes writing them down in Washington does not actually look the same way on the border. Between the ports of entry, we have talked about personnel, of having the right amount of manpower. But, during times like this, shift the group around. We have got a lot of federal employees that are out there that are trained to deal with this. Bring in some of those employees to help Border Patrol out. 

Technology? We believe in virtual fencing. We believe in eradicating Carrizo cane, that nasty plant that the drug dealers know to hide behind. We believe that some physical fencing is necessary. Especially in states other than Texas. Those lands that are owned by the federal government, it makes sense to have a straight wall across. But when you are talking about the Texas border region, we actually have a river. We know boats in the river work really well. We know that there are differently things that can be done, like we have talked about. Eradicating Carrizo cane to give line of sight to Border Patrol is essential. We believe in COVID vaccines for officers. The Border Patrol are needing their vaccines. 

Updating the laws to allow officers to do their job is essential because there is a lot of mixed messaging. We believe consulting with border leaders is essential. And at this point, ports of entry is where we would say is one of the major important parts that we need to be concentrating on right now. That is where the hard narcotics are coming through. But we do not have the right amount of manpower to be able to do the job at the ports of entry. 

There are no simple solutions to these complicated issues. But there are common sense solutions that have to be implemented together at the same time in order to protect our country. I thank you all. It is kind of hard to get all those issues in there but these sorts of discussions, we have on a weekly basis in order to try to come up with solutions to get the job done. 

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Monica Weisberg-Stewart, chair of the Texas Border Coalition’s immigration and border security committee. TBC represents border communities from El Paso to Brownsville. Weisberg Stewart’s column is based upon remarks she gave during a webinar hosted by the Council on National Security and Immigration. The webinar was titled the Border Solutions Roundtable. Other speakers included representatives from Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the George W. Bush Institute – SMU Economic Growth Initiative, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Immigration Forum, and the Niskanen Center.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest column shows a file photo of a Texas Border Coalition panel. Monica Weisberg-Stewart is pictured far left.

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