Border Security Is National Security

Border Security Is National Security

The US-Mexico border runs approximately 2,000 miles, stretching across varying geographical landscapes and 4 different states.  Unlike our relatively uneventful border that we share with our northern neighbor, the southern border receives a huge amount of media attention––and rightly so.  It goes without saying that a certain presidential candidate has shone a bright light on the southern border by making the construction of a wall an important element in his campaign.  And Trump has done that for good reason.  The border is plagued with serious problems, most notably illegal immigration, that demand our attention.  If the federal government doesn’t adequately address these problems, it puts our national security at risk.

A nation that does not steadfastly protect its own territory is headed for trouble down the road.  In light of global threats that seek to undermine the safety and security of the American people, placing a much higher priority on border security and acting on this should be an obvious priority to Congress and the White House.  As Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) issued a November 2015 report that highlights the challenges facing border enforcement.  One of the report’s key highlights is that the “dangerous,” “lawless,” and “porous border has made the US more vulnerable to criminal and potential terrorist activity.”  The report also states that the potential exploitation of the southern border’s vulnerabilities is “real, given the changing dynamics and backgrounds of the individuals being apprehended” there.

At the same time, it would be extremely foolish to exaggerate threats or make up threats where there are none.  Despite the assertions of some, ISIS is not infiltrating the border—at least not yet.  And even though Johnson’s report details major loopholes in border enforcement, there currently is “no intelligence that is both specific and credible at this time of a plot by terrorist organizations to attack the homeland,” according to the recent National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin.  We can be thankful that current threat levels do not warrant an “imminent alert” classification, but the US government should continually stay vigilant against any potential threat.

Besides pouring more money in security assets to be placed in the southern border regions and the like, the government should also take full advantage of an intangible source: imagination.  What would a terrorist have to do in order to murder as many Americans as possible?  What are some creative ways that terrorists haven’t employed yet to reach this goal?  Asking these thought-provoking questions is very pertinent to national security, especially when it deals with the border.  In the years following the 9/11 attacks, failure of imagination was used to criticize the Bush administration for not coming up with the possibility that terrorists could use hijacked planes to blow up buildings and commit mass murder.  When it comes to today’s threats, imagination should be used, but it doesn’t even have to be; the obvious weaknesses and gaps in border security should already provoke the government to take serious action!

Johnson’s report discusses reasonable solutions that could help solve shortcomings in our immigration policies and border security. These solutions include relatively uncontroversial proposals: “[providing and maintaining] adequate manpower on our border,” “[requiring] adequate metrics to measure border security,” and “[providing] border patrol agents access to federal lands.”  However, some solutions spark political firestorms.  As a result of what Democrats consider to be harsh immigration rhetoric emanating from the Trump campaign, there is no political will among Democrats on Capitol Hill to push for “[completing] the congressionally-mandated fencing requirement along the southwest border.”  And there is zero chance that any Democrat will support “[cutting] off federal funding for sanctuary cities that release criminal aliens into local communities.”  That is quite unfortunate, because showing tough resolve on issues, like illegal immigration, that have potential national security ramifications should be indisputable.

Certainly President Bill Clinton would agree, or rather, his 90’s self would. During his 1996 State of the Union Address, he did not shy away from “the problem of illegal immigration.” He stated that his administration was “[stiffening] the protection of our borders…increasing border controls by 50 percent…[and] increasing inspections to prevent the hiring of illegal immigrants.” Today, it would be a miracle to hear any Democrat utter those words.

Congress and the White House need to forcefully tackle now the troubles that plague our southern border. If not, we needlessly kick the can down the road, and we risk terrorists taking full advantage of our border and planning and executing devious attacks in our country.  In this age of radical Islamic terrorism, the government should focus like a laser on cracking down on illegal immigration, strictly enforcing current immigration policy, and securing our relatively insecure border. In other words, border security is national security.

Follow this author on Twitter: @ElliserSilla

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