Helga and I were in San Diego at the beginning of January and I had the unique opportunity of touring “The Wall” with Scott Williams, my nephew-in-law and a Border Patrol Officer working on the California/Mexico border for the past 10 years.
Although we were in the Tijuana area, and the “Caravan” was not too far away on the other side, all was calm and peaceful. If this high visibility (in a media sense) area is any indication, there is certainly no “crisis”.
There actually is not one but three walls – the primary, the secondary and the tertiary (usually a mesh fence), as you can see in the photos. The theory being that, if the primary wall is scaled, the second and third walls will slow the illegal up long enough for the Border Patrol to nab them.
On the American side, the walls are patrolled regularly by Border Patrol officers in vehicles, stationed about 100 metres apart. There are also highly sophisticated cameras and sensors covering virtually all parts of the wall. Interestingly, almost all of the Border Patrol’s armoury and technical equipment is foreign, not American-made.
Yes, there are sections of the existing wall that are too low and should be replaced by something higher. But mainly the Border Patrol doesn’t need more walls. In fact, there is about 850 miles of primary wall already and much of the rest of the border is the Rio Grande River. They need: a) to be allowed to enforce existing legislation; b) states like CA to be less liberal in their treatment of illegals (CA’s ultra-liberalism is why the Caravan detoured away from TX, NM and AZ to CA); and, c) above all, more staff (agent numbers have been cut in half in recent years, thanks to reduced budgets).
It is interesting to note that the Border Patrol are amongst those workers not being paid during the government shutdown, although they are still required to do their job, which is: 1) to stop illegals from climbing over the wall; and, 2) if they do get over, to arrest them and turn them over to civilian authorities (in CA the court process can take years and often results in the illegal being released).
The real problem for the Border Patrol is the flow of drugs into the US – and the wall, or its absence, has very little to do with this. The cartels on the Mexican side don’t send drugs over the wall. They send them either through long tunnels under the wall, or by jet ski around the wall in the Pacific or often right through the Customs check points.
Yes, the Caravan does contain a few criminals and some Mexicans, but mainly it is peaceful people fleeing their home country and, while waiting in Tijuana, applying to the US for immigration visas.
While we were there, on New Year’s Eve day, a group of about 15 young males (no women or children) tried to storm the wall in Tijuana. Scott was on duty and directly involved. He witnessed members of the media on the Mexican side encouraging, positioning and coaching some of the young men so they could get the best photos and stories. The Border Patrol agents fired smoke cannisters (not tear gas) at the mob to disperse it. No one got over the wall and no one got hurt.
It has been said that the Border Patrol wants “see through” slatted walls, so they can spot trouble developing on the Mexican side. Actually, the truth is quite the contrary. The Border Patrol wants a solid wall, because bad guys can poke guns through a slatted wall to shoot the Border Patrol officers.
I am most grateful to Scott for giving me his expertise and access so I could form a good, true impression of the infamous wall, free from the hype, exaggeration and plain lies that are currently emanating from both Republican and Democrats. As is so often the case these days, the real case is not at all what we are led to believe.
By Larry Hampton