Border Patrol agents have commended Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas for his efforts to address the overwhelming surge of migrants. However, there is one area where Mayorkas has consistently disregarded the expertise of these agents: the border wall.
In their testimonies before the House Oversight and Accountability and Homeland Security committees, high-ranking Border Patrol officials stressed the significance of the wall. They characterized it as a “force multiplier” that offers agents a strategic edge in countering cartels and managing the influx of migrants smuggled into the United States.
According to the agents, the wall slows down the movement of people, giving agents more time to respond and make apprehensions. It also forces migrants to seek alternative routes, allowing resources to be focused on those areas. The border chiefs, representing nine southwestern border sectors, unanimously agreed that walls work.
The agents also highlighted the challenges they face due to a lack of personnel to process all the illegal immigrants. As a result, officers have been pulled from the field, leaving certain areas undefended. These vulnerable spots are exploited by migrants known as “getaways,” who pose a significant concern.
The cartels, who control border traffic and profit immensely from it, were identified as adversaries by the agents. They emphasized the need for increased detention of illegal immigrants, as catch-and-release policies only encourage further illegal migration. The agents proposed detaining all individuals until their hearing as a means to discourage illegal border crossings.
The praise for the border wall came after the Trump administration erected over 450 miles of barrier. Agents credited the wall with reducing vehicle incursions and influencing the pathways migrants took on foot, enabling agents to respond more effectively.
Despite the agents’ testimonies, Secretary Mayorkas consistently downplayed the value of the wall. He referred to the money spent on wall construction as a “waste” and stated that it was not the most effective use of taxpayer dollars. President Biden echoed this sentiment, flatly rejecting the idea that walls work.
The Biden administration has urged Congress to revoke funding for wall construction, but these demands have been met with resistance. In response, the Department of Homeland Security has shifted its focus to workforce and technology while acknowledging the importance of barriers where appropriate.
The smuggling cartels operating along the border were highlighted as a significant concern. It was revealed that these criminal organizations collect over $30 million per week from smuggling people alone. The prices charged by smugglers vary depending on the route and the migrants’ chances of success. For example, migrants may pay between $12,000 and $20,000 to be transported by boat along the coast of San Diego or between $8,000 and $12,000 to cross by land.