How Secure is the-U.S. Mexico Border? Here Are the Facts
Should more be done to secure the border?
by Countable | 12.21.18
What’s the story?
- President Donald Trump has said he won’t sign a spending bill unless it includes funding for a border wall.
- Congress has until midnight tonight to pass legislation or else the third partial government shutdown of 2018 will occur.
- Last week, Trump said that he'd be "proud to shut down the government” and would take full responsibility for a shutdown over border security. On Friday morning, however, he tweeted that it would a “Democrat Shutdown” if Senate Democrats don’t support the short-term spending bill that the House passed last night—which includes $5.7 billion for Trump’s border wall.
- But does the U.S. need additional border security? Would a wall really help keep drugs out of the country? With the Senate currently in session, we thought we’d turn down the politicians and pundits and look at the facts about the U.S.-Mexico border.
Facts about the border
- The U.S.-Mexico border stretches for nearly 2,000 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean and touches the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
- There is currently a barrier that blocks pedestrians and vehicles along 653 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. It’s made of barbed wire, chain link, post-and-rail, and wire mesh.
- U.S. Customs and Border Patrol also utilizes thousands of cameras and underground sensors, boats, aircraft, drones, and agents to monitor the boundary.
- With 19,887 agents in FY2017, CBP is one of the largest law-enforcement agencies in the U.S.
- 1,317 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border lacks fencing—however, the Rio Grande river forms a natural border along 1,254 of those miles.
- According to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) internal report, building 1,250 miles more miles of fencing would cost $21.6 billion.
- The majority of drugs trafficked into the U.S. are smuggled through legal ports of entry, not snuck through the desert.
What has been built since Trump took office? What does he want?
- Since Trump took office, some additional “steel bollard wall" has been erected on the border.
- CBP referred to bollard barriers as "fencing" during the Obama administration, according to a memo. They are now being considered “wall.”
- Construction has begun for 40 miles of “steel bollard wall” in California and Texas, at a cost of $292 million. 22 miles are complete and an additional 18 miles should be finished in May 2019, according to CBP.
- Trump has previously promised his supporters to build a "big beautiful wall" and that Mexico would pay for it. But on Tuesday, Trump tweeted the wall will actually be “artistically designed steel slats.”
Facts about unauthorized immigrants
- The unauthorized immigrant population in the U.S. is at a 10-year low.
- The total number of unauthorized immigrants nabbed at the border last year held steady at around 521,000—a slight decline from 2017, and far less than the high-water mark of the 1990s and 2000s when a million apprehensions a year was common.
- Statistics provided by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) show that sectors where fencing and walls have been built have seen a decrease in unauthorized immigration:
- Overall, apprehensions of unauthorized immigrants at the southwest border dropped about 80 percent from 2000 to 2015.
- However, CBP cites a number of factors for the decline. For the Tucson sector, for instance - where apprehensions are down nearly 90 percent - CBP credits an "increase in manpower," technological upgrades, and changes in "infrastructure" (which include fencing and vehicle barriers).
What do you think?
Trump is demanding funding for his U.S.-Mexico border wall, increasing the chances for a partial government shutdown.
Are you concerned about border security? Should Democrats agree to more funding? Should Congress fund Trump’s “big beautiful wall”? Take action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / CREATISTA)
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