Jim Calderbank

Jim Calderbank

I read a recent guest column titled “Consider these facts about the U.S./Mexico border wall.” The author’s personal opinion and dislike of President Trump and Congressman Meadows were the core of the guest column.

Wanting facts, I researched Government Reports to understand this issue. Is “the wall” political as was suggested, or for national security as President Trump states?

The Congressional Record has many successful votes to fund and build walls or physical barriers along the Mexican border. The “Secure Fence Act of 2006” describes a “security and humanitarian crisis.” Committees referenced the “need for up to $50 billion over 25 years” to secure this border. It passed overwhelmingly in both houses of Congress.

Senators Obama, Clinton, and Schumer voted in favor. Each senator was quoted in The Congressional Record describing a national security, drug smuggling and human trafficking border crisis.

Congresswoman Pelosi spoke and voted in favor on numerous barrier and security bills during this period; but voted against the bill. Senator Schumer has supported and voted for border security, wall, and barrier funding over two decades well in excess of President Trump’s request. His vote changed to no when proposed by President Trump.

The guest column stating that fentanyl is mainly smuggled into the U.S. directly from China is misleading. More Chinese fentanyl now appears to be directly shipped to Mexico, avoiding U.S. shipping container inspections. This is also a favorite route to move luxury counterfeit goods to U.S. markets.

The DEA’s “2018 National Drug Threat Assessment” Report, or “NDTA”, reflects this reality. It also concludes that Mexican drug cartels manufacture an increasing amount of fentanyl in Mexico to combine with heroin, and for counterfeit opioid pill smuggling into the U.S. The NDTA concludes Mexico is the major supplier of heroin and fentanyl smuggled across the Mexican border.

Mexican drug cartels are the largest and most violent in the world according to the NDTA. Using the Mexican border they supply and distribute the majority of illegal drugs in the U.S. Human mules are increasingly female and carry cartel heroin and fentanyl across the border using traditional marijuana border crossings. Mules are then trafficked as slaves.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen has stated on the record and in Congressional testimony a border wall is critical to stop drug and human trafficking.

The theme throughout the guest column is a wall is ineffective. The Great Wall of China is historically revered for preventing horde invasions from conquering China, protecting their civilization and dynasties. Israel built a wall at the porous Gaza border.

Prime Minister Netanyahu credited this border wall for “almost completely stopping terrorist bombings” and “reducing Hamas/Hezbollah weapon and drug smuggling”.

In 2015, Hungary built in four months a layered structure and barbed wire barrier that cut illegal immigration from 4,500 per day to 15 per day. I appreciate the opinion that walls are ineffective, but there are countless examples of border walls successfully providing border security. National security is only possible with border security.

Finally, I must discuss the human suffering of illegal immigration, not the focus on asylum seekers suffering, but the suffering of U.S. citizens.

Death from drugs moved across the Mexican border. Criminal gangs that distribute drugs along with fear and murder of our citizens and law enforcement officers. Family suffering after the death of a loved one by drugs or violence. Suffering of low skilled workers being replaced or having no growth in wages due to low cost illegal immigrants taking over landscape, construction, and trade jobs.

Harvard Economics and Social Policy Professor George Borjas’ paper, “Yes, Immigration Hurts American Workers” concludes Census Bureau data over two decades shows illegal immigrants “have increased the size of the low-skilled workforce by roughly 25 percent.

As a result, the earnings of this particularly vulnerable group dropped by between $800 and $1,500 per year.” The suffering of our most vulnerable from violence, drugs and low wages directly attributable to illegal immigrants streaming across the Mexican border, is unconscionable. Walls work in gated communities and borders around the world. President Trump’s wall will work here as well.

The recent columnist allowed his emotions to become his facts. I ask the author to not put a pen to paper again until he displays emotional discipline in his conclusions. He must stop calling people liars, his column used that slur 14 times. This column spoke more of his hatred of President Trump than the column’s title of “facts about the U.S./Mexico border wall.” The column was a disservice to the reader.

Jim Calderbank is retired and lives in Waynesville. He currently owns businesses in Jackson and Haywood County. Jim has lobbied Congress and state legislatures on issues ranging from zoning and tax legislation to infrastructure and National Park funding over the last 30 years.

This column was edited for length. The entire guest column with references is online at www.themountaineer.com.

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