By William Albee
The Democrats are winning the blame game, but they are not acting in the best interests of the American people regarding security along our Southern border. Trump and his Administration yes-men and women have presented zero credible evidence to support the construction of even a single foot of new border wall. The Democrats in Congress have also failed to present any studies showing what new measures are needed to improve border security, which they claim to support. The result is a political standoff that should cost Trump re-election, especially given how many people are directly or indirectly affected by the longest shut-down in history. That explains why Pelosi is flatly saying NO to any new border barriers. From a purely political perspective, I want her to do everything possible to assure Trump loses in 2020; but as a liberal patriot, I want the Democrats to win in 2020 based more on good governance than politics. So, how do we resolve the current stalemate, open the government, and arrive at a cost effective, non-political plan for security along our Southern Border?
I am dismayed that with all the incessant blather from the talking heads on cable news. Not a single host has sought out any credible border security expert who can show on a map of the Southern border their mile by mile assessment of what measures are lacking or need to be improved; and why. Has there been no in-depth assessment that predicts the number of illegal border crossings that would be precluded by each possible protection measure, and what each measure would cost? Shouldn’t these decisions be based on how best to stop the highest number of illegal crossings for the least amount of tax dollars spent? Congress needs to get the answers to these questions prior to approving a single dollar for new barriers.
Over 700 miles of barriers exist where the border officials have requested them under previous administrations, and funded by previous Congresses. Do we need more barriers? Maybe, but who knows for sure? In my opinion, only the Border Patrol Sector Managers and Section Chiefs, who are career civil servants, can provide credible arguments for additional barriers. My proposed solution is for Speaker Pelosi to immediately announce appropriate Committee hearing to hear sworn testimony from each and every Sector Head and Station Chief along the border. If any of them do not have a detailed plan with a cost-benefit justification for each measure they want, then Congress should appropriate the money to conduct those Sector studies. Once the hearings are complete, Congress should debate the priorities for additional border security measures and determine specifically where along the border the most cost-effective measure is a new barrier. Then and only then should the Democrats in Congress vote for those new barriers. That would be a win for both the taxpayers and for sensible immigration policy. Meanwhile, with a promise that Democrats in Congress will vote for specific barriers where justified by a non-partisan analysis and planning process, Trump can also claim a win and open the Government by agreeing to cut back his demand to new barriers only where justified.
As a Liberal, I want an appropriate level of border security, so I do not oppose new barriers on our Southern Border. I can only support them if non-partisan expert studies can show specifically where they would be the most cost-effective measure. Democrats need to win support going forward by good governance, not just by opposing Trump.