The federal government is still shut down as Democratic lawmakers refuse to negotiate with President Trump on a budget bill. At the center of the debate is the question of how to best fund border security and immigration enforcement.
According to a Washington Examiner op-ed, the Rio Grande Valley border sector sees the most apprehensions of illegal immigrants compared to anywhere else in the United States. So, the opinion of its chief of law enforcement should carry some weight in whether the federal government should fund a border wall, right?
The Washington Examiner’s Eddie Scarry wrote:
John Miller, the division’s chief of law enforcement, knows what this part of the border needs, and he doesn’t care if you want to call it a “wall” or anything else.
Miller on Friday took me on a tour of a portion of the border he oversees, of which only pieces here and there are enforced by 25-foot-high “wall”— a mix of concrete and rows of thick steel bollard that often prop up against levees to help with flooding from the Rio Grande.
“This is the busiest sector in the country for illegal alien apprehensions and the busiest place in the country for marijuana seizures,” he said, adding that 97 percent of the illegal crossings are in the areas where there is no border wall.
According to the op-ed, the Rio Grande Valley sector of the border witnessed more than 162,000 illegal immigrant apprehensions. The next highest number of apprehensions came from Tuscon, Arizona who saw 52,000 apprehensions.
The immigration and funding debate for the wall has tripped up some lawmakers in Washington who argue semantics whether a “fence” or “wall” are the same thing. Trump, himself, has used different terms to describe the border wall, furthering the confusion.
As Scarry wrote in the Washington Examiner op-ed, Miller said lawmakers can call it what they wish, but a barrier is needed.
During my time with Miller, the Valley’s division chief, he repeatedly referred to the pieces of “wall” that he says work in his sector. But he said it would make no difference if you were to call it something else.
“I’m talking about the physical barrier that stops and slows down people from illegal entry into the country,” he told me. “And in this area of the border down here, it’s steel bollard.”
Trump has offered flexibility on his own definition of “wall.” On Twitter last month, he referred to “artistically designed steel slats.” He has also said a wall could be concrete or steel, materials that were in use on the border well before he came into office.
Morris said agents all over the southwest refer to “walls” on their barriers but that there is no single type of wall.
“If you go to San Diego, theirs looks different than Yuma, whose looks different than El Paso,” Miller continued. “So, in general, do we all use the term wall? We do.”
“When a lot of my friends or representatives or folks call me, ‘John, do you guys really need a 30-foot concrete — because they’re picturing a 30 foot concrete wall — I’m like, well, that would probably work but that’s not what we have down here, and what we have is working,” the immigration chief concluded.