by Natalia Castro
Immigration debates dominated the 2016 election and two years later, the issue is equally as pertinent in Americans’ minds. For many individuals who voted for President Trump on the promise of building a wall to secure our southern border, there has been frustration surrounding a lack of action; but some action has been taken and this issue specifically demonstrates Republicans will have to maintain control of the House and Senate in the 2018 midterm elections if they want to finish the job.
When President Trump signed a March 2018 spending bill into law, Congress allocated $1.6 billion for border wall construction and $400 million for repairing and replacing existing border fences. At the time, Trump referred to this as a down payment to begin wall construction, with more coming in the months ahead.
That money has already been put to good use.
Last week, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kristjen Nielsen unveiled a newly built 30-foot border wall along the border of California and Mexico. During her visit to the wall she reinforced her support for the president’s policy, Let me be clear: Walls work. That’s not my opinion, it’s not a tagline, it’s not a political statement — it’s a fact. We have seen the success of walls in El Paso, in Yuma, in San Diego, and in the past right here in the El Centro sector.
But she continued to note that the President cannot do this alone and more action is needed by Congress, It wasn’t just this physical barrier that led to decreased apprehensions, it was a combination of infrastructure, improved technology, and additional manpower. Together these attributes compromise a successful border wall system, this is the wall system we are requesting Congress to fund.
Now more than ever, Republicans are needed to continue funding the border wall and build on the success they have achieved thus far.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has already introduced a bill that provides $23.4 billion to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, with $5.5 billion in funding available immediately. While a lame duck push is expected on the issue, a Republican majority in the 116th Congress could ensure our border is secured long term.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has already made it clear she does not support a border wall and does not see any Democrats voting for wall funding anytime soon, meaning a Democratic majority might destroy our chances of having a secure border before 2020.
This is particularly pressing as a caravan of several thousand illegal immigrants march toward our southern border demanding entry into the United States. Trump has said he is deploying the military in the meantime to deter the caravan.
Hill contributor Jen Kerns explains, Humans aren’t the only entity streaming across the border — drugs are, too — at the hands of the Mexican drug cartels and others. In fact, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol data for fiscal 2018 show that seizure of illegal drugs along the border have consistently increased in the past five years. This election season, as U.S. politicians wrangle with whether or not they want to support full funding for a border wall and increase number of border agents, they might also want to consider these other intruders coming uninvited over the border.
Kerns reminds the American people that in just the first five months of 2018, customs officials and border patrol agents seized 1,060 pounds on fentanyl, a lethal opioid becoming common in the U.S., at the border.
A border wall is necessary to slow the stream of these drugs into the U.S.
Arizona Representative Martha McSally has already made this a top issue in her election bid for U.S. Senate. At a rally with Trump in October, she explained, President Trump, it has been an honor to be leading in the House to make sure we build the wall… This is personal for us in Arizona. We have to crack down on sanctuary cities, MS-13 gangs, build the wall, and secure the border.
While the down payment for the wall has already been received, much more will need to be done to ensure the border is truly secure and if Republicans lose the House on Tuesday, this might be one of the reasons why. If the American people want the wall built, they must realize that will probably never happen if Democrats control Congress.
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Natalia Castro is the multimedia manager at Americans for Limited Government.