Like billions of other people around the world – including most of you reading these words – I keep the doors to my home locked, rather than leaving them wide open around the clock. I also have a fenced-in backyard. I believe that the great poet Robert Frost was right when he wrote: “Good fences make good neighbors.”
I don’t hate my neighbors. But I value my privacy and I want to take reasonable precautions against burglars and other criminals entering my home through open doors. I know the overwhelming number of people walking or driving by my home mean me no harm, but I’m realistic enough to know that criminals exist in the world and I don’t want to become their easy target.
In his poem “Mending Wall,” Frost reminds us that before a fence can be seen as a “good fence” there must be a good reason and a need for it to be erected.
Fencing or walls that keep people from leaving – like the Berlin Wall or North Korean border barriers – are not good fences. They turn cities or nations into prisons. But fences, walls and other barriers that keep people from entering without authorization are a good thing.
This, in essence, is the commonsense argument President Trump makes for barriers on our southern border. He is not advocating some radical new idea. The Great Wall of China started going up more than 2,000 years ago, and there were no doubt smaller walls and fences built much earlier in human history.
Americans are a compassionate people, but if we allowed everyone in the world who wants to move to the U.S. to come here, we could be inundated by more immigrants than people who live here now. It would obviously be impossible to absorb such a vast influx.
Regardless of whether it is the southern border with Mexico, our northern border with Canada, or our Atlantic and Pacific coasts, the federal government has a duty to protect and secure our borders – whether with fencing, a wall, electronic surveillance, increased hiring of Border Patrol officers, Coast Guard patrols, or other means.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are more than 329 million people in the U.S. today. But there are almost 7.6 billion people in the world. Americans are a compassionate people, but if we allowed everyone in the world who wants to move to the U.S. to come here, we could be inundated by more immigrants than people who live here now. It would obviously be impossible to absorb such a vast influx.
Today America faces a crisis of invasion by illegal immigrants. More than 144,000 were apprehended streaming across our southern border in May alone. The number apprehended in June dropped to 104,000 people, when border crossing typically decline due to hot weather – but that was still 50 percent higher than the number of apprehensions in June 2016.
Steven Kopits, the president of Princeton Policy Advisors, predicts nearly 1.1 million illegal immigrants will be apprehended at our border with Mexico this year.
The illegal immigrants are overwhelming our infrastructure and our ability to house, feed and clothe them and provide needed health care.
Obviously, the vast majority of these immigrants are not terrorists or violent criminals. But undoubtedly, a small percentage are, and we need to keep them out. President Trump’s proposed border barriers would help us do that.
Remember the opposition to Israel’s decision to erect border fencing along its borders with the Palestinian territories? Since the fencing was erected, Israel managed to reduce terrorist attacks by 95 percent. Fortunately, we don’t face the level of terrorism confronting Israel, but there’s no question that a wall or fence along our border with Mexico would keep some dangerous people out and improve our national security.
Unfortunately, the Mexican government has fought tooth and nail against America erecting border fencing, because Mexico benefits when impoverished people from Central America or from within Mexico enter the U.S., rather than staying in Mexico and collecting public assistance.
But thanks to the pressure he put on Mexico with tariffs, President Trump has secured much greater cooperation from Mexico to halt illegal border crossings. This may account for part of the drop in crossings in June.
While many Democrats denounce walls and fencing on our borders, they have no problem accepting the need for barriers within our own country.
Every municipality in America regulates or mandates fencing or walls. In fact, there are well-established zoning laws in many jurisdictions that require neighbors to share the expense of property-bordering fences.
And governments at all levels build fencing and walls to protect homes and businesses from highway noise and pollution, as well as to safeguard stray animals from harm.
In many instances, the fencing and walls to secure our highways and reduce noise are higher and sturdier than fencing to secure our borders. The thousands of miles of highway barriers throughout the U.S. are collectively longer than a fence that would stretch across part of our 1,954-mile border with Mexico.
According to the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials, there are “more than 2,630 linear miles of sound barriers along U.S. highways.”
How is it possible that we can erect thousands of miles of highway noise barriers, but can’t manage to erect fencing to secure our borders? Is highway noise a more dangerous national security threat? Obviously not.
Americans, Canadians and Mexicans should agree that “good fences make good neighbors.”
It is in the best interests of all three countries that they have command and control over their own land, and especially their borders. If our neighbors won’t help us, we need to spend the necessary funds to do it ourselves.
Border security and the broader challenge of comprehensive immigration reform will be a major issue in the 2020 election campaign.
Democrats aren’t interested in solving the crisis – they welcome the crisis so they can use it to campaign against President Trump and Republicans in Congress.
But the American people don’t believe in open borders or providing illegal immigrants services and considerations superior to their rights as citizens.
If voters want to solve the immigration crisis they will re-elect President Trump next year and give him Republican majorities in the House and Senate to build a border wall, change asylum laws, and take other needed steps to deal humanely and effectively with the flood of illegal immigrants crossing our southern border.