With President Trump declaring a national emergency to secure required funds for the border wall, it is essential we understand the situation at the US-Mexico border.
President Barack Obama's Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan, who has come out in strong support of the wall, sat down with MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) to break down the complex issues the country faces at the border.
Morgan says there are two distinct categories when it comes to illegal immigrants. "One of these categories impacts our national security, and that is bad people and bad things coming in," he told MEAWW. "The other category includes good people who are trying to get into the US and are claiming asylum. It is important we consider the distinction because, to some degree, there are different solutions for different categories."
However, there are some strategies that can help stop people from illegally entering the country altogether, he said. The snag in our border security does not lie at the Ports of Entry (PoE), according to Morgan, but rather the distances between them. Spanning across a staggering 2,000 miles, many of these areas are wide open with virtually no barriers.
"If you speak to any border patrol experts or agents, they will tell you what they need, as part of a multi-layer strategy to secure our borders, is infrastructure, personnel, and technology in key locations along the southwest border," Morgan said. "That's the strategy. It's not complicated."
According to him, these are indispensable if we want to drastically improve the operational control and capacity of our agents between the PoE to secure our border. "When I say infrastructure, I mean a "Wall." Many people want to call it a physical barrier, fence, etc. but it's essentially the same thing," he added.
The former border patrol chief maintained that border agents aren't asking for a big, thick, tall, concrete, opaque barrier. They are simply asking for a barrier that makes sense — generically speaking, a steel slat barrier that you can see through, so that border patrol can see what's happening on the other side.
Furthermore, experts are not advocating for building or securing the entire 2,000-mile stretch at one go, but only on strategic locations. A three-pronged approach focused on infrastructure, personnel, and technology has proven to be effective throughout history. "It works," Morgan asserted with conviction.
The 2006 Secure Fence Act was a bipartisan Act approved and supported by both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, under which the United States Congress authorized and partially funded the construction of 654 miles of physical barriers along the US-Mexico border.
While some sections of the fence built under the act are strong and effective, there are major sections with "landing mat fences" where substandard sheet metal was used, allowing drug traffickers or cartels to be able to cut through them and infiltrate with ease. According to Morgan, these need to be replaced as soon as possible.
"Of the 654 miles built, there are major sections which are ineffective to say the least and in dire need of technology and personnel," he said, "Beyond that, almost 1,300 miles along the border is wide open with no barriers. The need for fencing in these vulnerable stretches is critical."
When asked whether the commander-in-chief should maintain his hardline stance or concede wall funding, Morgan made his position clear: "He should stay put."
"Trump is the first modern-day president that has drawn the hardline and said 'I'm not kicking the can down anymore on this'," he said. "This is a critically pertinent issue to the safety, security, and sovereignty of this country and this president has finally said 'enough is enough, we have to secure our borders.'"
Morgan, a career FBI official, believes the United States is being severely affected by the cartel "while they get rich."
"They are pouring drugs in this country and devastating lives in the process, with over 50,000 deaths and overdoses reported in recent years," he said. "90% of the heroin that comes into this country is smuggled across the southwest border. Fentanyl is coming in large quantities among other life-threatening drugs. It has a detrimental impact on the country.
"What's more? The US has unfortunately become one of the leading consumers of the human trafficking business because our weak border infrastructure enables the trade. Almost every day, the cartel smuggles young women and children across, along with other violent gang members who pass unnoticed and unapprehended."
Commenting on the border wall quagmire in Washington, Morgan said he hopes President Trump "stays strong, and that his resolve remains strong, and he does whatever he can with the constitutional and legal powers vested in him to get the job done."