The testimony of border experts attest to the fact that sections of the border with a substantial physical barrier, specifically the border wall system constructed during the Trump administration, is an effective tool in aiding law enforcement’s response to attempted illegal border crossings.
Despite the protests of naysayers during President Trump’s 2016 campaign and afterward, the wall’s intended purpose of complimenting Border Patrol personnel and other deployed technology has been largely realized. In sections of the border with a border wall system, crossings that would have previously taken seconds now take minutes. In sections of the border with no substantial barrier, cartels are able to create diversions by crossing with a large group of illegal entrants with the intention of attracting notice. This pulls resources from relatively large segments of the border while agents apprehend and process illegal aliens. Cartels take advantage of this gap in coverage by sending a second wave nearby that is able to avoid detection and interdiction.
Upon assuming office in January 2021, President Biden almost immediately ordered the cessation of construction on the border wall, which introduced a new vulnerability: the infrastructure around the wall itself. As part of the construction project to ensure a speedy response time to attempted incursions, the border wall system included new paved roads with quick access to and from the border. For a completed border wall, this would be advantageous as it would allow Border Patrol to respond with unprecedented speed. However, with the wall left incomplete, these roads have become easy access for cartel human and drug smugglers.
Texas has started to construct its own border wall, but the task is arduous and progress is extremely slow. In 2021, Governor Abbott signed into law HB 9 to authorize $1.8 billion towards border wall construction. However, due to limited eminent domain authority and a relatively large percentage of border-adjacent land being privately owned, the state has only completed a few miles of the wall.
Several bills have been filed in the 88th Session seeking to fix these problems. HB 209 by State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) and SB 1481 by State Sen. Brandon Creighton (R–Conroe) both grant eminent domain authority to the state for the purpose of constructing a wall along the international border. Combined with funding already secured for this purpose and funding allocated in the current budget, either of these bills would fast-track the land acquisition and construction process for the Texas border wall.
Although a wall is not a magic bullet for border security, it is a necessary portion of any effort to secure the border. Without a physical barrier, cartels will continue to take advantage of our 1,250 miles of border to move thousands of pounds of drugs and hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens each year. Texans for Strong Borders strongly urges the Texas Legislature to pass funding and the means to fast-track land acquisition and contracts to finish the border wall that Trump began. The federal government has proven that it will not secure our border, so Texas must step up to fill the gap.
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