Under the leadership of President Donald J. Trump, the operational environment of the Southwest Border has been completely transformed. Since January 2017, the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has completed construction of over 200 miles of new border wall system. The new border wall system remains a crucial element of CBP and the Border Patrol’s strategy to achieve operational control of the border.
The new border wall system uses technology and lighting, in addition to a physical barrier, to stop or slow illegal cross-border traffic between the ports of entry. The new border wall system denies, deters and impedes the unlawful entry of people and contraband into the United States. By slowing or stopping illegal activity, border wall systems increase the likelihood of an appropriate law enforcement response and resolution. It’s a simple fact that is borne out by the data – walls work.
From an operational standpoint, the border wall system is the backbone of our border security posture. Open borders play right into the hands of the cartels. Without the border wall system, crime and gang activity goes up as drugs, and other contraband make their way north into the homeland.
The new border wall system also plays a critical humanitarian role by reducing human smuggling – an activity that places people in real danger. Human smugglers are all too willing to abandon men, women, and children – taking their money while leaving them alone to die of dehydration, exposure, or drowning.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic the new border wall system also serves as a vital reminder that public health begins with border security. Last year, CBP was confronted with an unprecedented national security and humanitarian crisis when hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens arrived on our Southern border.
The new border wall system interrupts the flow not only of illicit migration and smuggling activities, it also helps us control the movements of potentially infectious people and disease. That mass migration underscored how desperately more miles of the new border wall system was needed.
In addition to the over 215 miles of new border wall system constructed along the Southwest Border, there are an additional roughly 340 miles currently under construction with another approximately 183 miles in the preconstruction phase. CBP has prioritized these construction projects and locations based on extensive threat assessments to determine where the wall system is needed most.
Since President Trump took office, CBP has received approximately $15 billion to construct approximately 738 miles of new border wall system through a combination of Department of Defense funding, the Treasury Forfeiture Fund, and Congressional appropriations.
Unfortunately, some in Congress continue to ignore the real threat on the Southern border while insisting CBP’s new border wall system is ineffective. Nothing could be further from the truth, just ask the men and women of CBP who protect this Nation day and night, they know full well the new border wall system works.
Based on projections provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, CBP anticipates completing approximately 450 miles by the end of the year. The President promised more miles of border wall, and CBP is delivering on his promise.
Mark Morgan serves as the Acting Commissioner for the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP).