Contemporary Issues

Immigration at the Southern Border
Updated:
September 10, 2021
Published:
October 2, 2021
Introduction
Key Facts
Why do Immigrants Come?
Crime
ICE
Children at the Border
Remain in Mexico Policy
DACA
Migrant Caravans
Sanctuary Cities
Border Walls
Texas' Border Wall

Introduction

The issue of immigration is important, partisan, and complex. It has repeatedly fallen under the national spotlight during the Trump and Biden presidencies, as both faced different controversies related to the Southern border. This past year, the Biden administration has faced a historic influx of immigrants at the Southern border.

Key Facts

  • Approximately 50,000 migrants who crossed the southern border illegally were released from custody into the United States without a court date. Although they are told to report to an ICE office instead, just 13% have shown up as of July 27th. (Axios - July 27th)
  • According to new statistics released by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the number of migrants encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border reached a yearly high in July. CBP encountered 212, 672 people attempting to come to the United States through its southern border, a 5% increase from May, where 180,641 individuals were encountered. June's total is the highest monthly number of encounters by CBP in at least two decades. (Customs and Border Protection)
  • The majority of border-crossers continue to come from Mexico (more than 40%) and the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. (Axios)
  • “On June 7th, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that thousands of people living in the U.S. for humanitarian reasons are ineligible to apply to become permanent residents.” (AP)
  • On June 1st, the Biden administration formally ended a Trump-era immigration policy that forced asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration court. (AP)
  • Currently, around eight in ten Americans say the current situation with the large number of migrants apprehended after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border is a problem. A majority, 55%, feel it is a significant problem, including a majority of Republicans (71%), Independents (55%), and Democrats (45%). (NPR/Ipsos - May 19th)
  • An April survey found that 53% of Americans believe the ability to immigrate is a “human right,” while 53% oppose immigrant households receiving welfare. (Cato Institute)
Why this information is important

This section will help you understand the important contemporary elements of the immigration debate in the United States. These are some of the main sub-topics your students will raise in class, and you should be prepared to speak to each when they do.

Why do Immigrants Come?

Photograph: Craig Schreiner/AP via The Guardian

How many immigrants come to the U.S. for nefarious reasons? How many are simply seeking a better life? Correlative data does exist, but it’s not enough to definitively conclude why immigrants arrive at the Southern border: there isn’t enough personnel to gather the survey data necessary to form a comprehensive picture.

The reality of the situation is that there isn’t a straightforward explanation. A 2017 report from Doctors Without Borders stated that most immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are fleeing “unprecedented levels of violence outside a war zone” and that “citizens are murdered with impunity, kidnappings and extortion are daily occurrences.” Those three countries are some of the most deadly: El Salvador has the highest homicide rate in the world, Honduras has the 4th, and Guatemala has the 14th. Mexico, where approximately 25% of all U.S. immigrants originate, has the 17th highest homicide rate in the world. In 2017, the Pew Research Center estimated that 4.95 million of the 10.5 million undocumented population were from Mexico, 1.9 million from Central America, and 1.45 million from Asia.

Even with that data, it’s hard to pin down exactly how many immigrants from Central America are fleeing violence, seeking economic opportunity, or pursuing more nefarious ends (i.e., drug or human trafficking). It’s a challenge to collect data on both legal and illegal immigrants in the first place. Even if that data could be gathered, ensuring completely objective answers becomes a problem as well.

Left Narrative

It is important to address the root cause of migration which may be fleeing violence or poverty-stricken communities. Immigrants come for many reasons, some of which, like putting money towards efforts to reduce poverty, lowering crime rates, and preparing for natural disasters, we can take responsibility for. Taking action can help determine if this helps understand the root cause of immigration.

Right Narrative

Immigrants who come to the United States are looking for a better life in the land of the free. For those who want to enter this country legally and pursue their American dream, the door is open. Most who come illegally are trafficked by criminals who need to be dealt with by their countries of origin. It is the responsibility of these nations to fix their own home, and not the job of the United States to deal with the consequences.

Crime

Cronkite News

“More undocumented immigrants, more crime” has been a mantra from some conservatives. Is it true, though? While a comprehensive federal database doesn’t exist, studies have projected crime rates based on the undocumented population numbers in Texas. They show that undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes compared to U.S. citizens. Not only that, but as immigration increases, the violent crime rate generally goes down. Conservatives argue that it doesn’t matter if immigrants commit less crime. They’re living here illegally, and had our immigration system been working correctly, they shouldn’t have been in a position to commit that crime at all.

Increasing crime rates is one of the main arguments against a more progressive immigration agenda, especially when it comes to undocumented immigrants. In January 2019, President Trump stated that “Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country, and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now.” Unfortunately, no national database compares crimes committed by immigration status (except in Texas). 

That being said, a number of studies have examined the impact of immigration on crime rates across the United States.

  • The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) analyzed crime trends in Texas from 2012 to 2018. Relative to undocumented immigrants, US-born citizens are over 2x more likely to be arrested for violent crimes, 2.5x times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes, and over 4x more likely to be arrested for property crimes.
  • The CUNY Institute found that when immigration increases, violent crime rates generally go down. Areas with a high concentration of foreign-born people do not have more violent crime than areas with lower concentrations.
  • The American Journal of Public Health found that increased undocumented immigration was significantly associated with reductions in drug arrests, drug overdose deaths, and DUI arrests.

Those who support more stringent border security argue that even if undocumented immigrants did commit fewer crimes, those crimes shouldn’t have happened in the first place if our immigration system was working correctly. In Texas, from 2017-2018, undocumented immigrants were convicted of 16,275 crimes. While that is less than legal immigrants or native-born Texans, conservatives argue that the comparative crime rate isn’t important; the net is. They’d say that those were 16,275 crimes that shouldn’t have even happened at all.

Regardless, undocumented immigrants are, well, undocumented, which means we don’t have the national database to determine national crime rates yet.

Left Narrative

Despite what you hear on news channels like Fox, illegal immigrants do not increase crime rates in our country. In fact, studies show that immigrants are less likely to commit crime than native-born citizens, especially if they are illegal immigrants. These people are simply coming into our country and looking for a better or safer life; why would they risk that by committing a crime?

Right Narrative

While some studies claim that American citizens commit more crimes than illegal immigrants, any of those crimes wouldn’t have happened in the first place with better border security. At the most basic level, every illegal entry is a crime in and of itself. America can’t simply look the other way on certain crimes. There are a myriad of stories of Americans killed because South American gang violence has found its way to the United States.

ICE

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) is responsible for detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants once they’ve made it into the United States (not at the border). At the time of this writing (June 2021), an estimated 10.3 million undocumented immigrants are living in the country. Under the Obama administration, ICE arrests reached an all-time high based on a set of enforcement priorities in 2014. President Trump issued his own executive orders in 2017, which targeted a much broader group of undocumented immigrants. Even though ICE arrests rose 30% in the 2017 fiscal year, they remained at levels far below the peak reached during the Obama administration. When Joe Biden became President, he was quick to reverse many of Trump’s actions, causing ICE arrests to fall by more than 60%, compared to the last three months of the Trump administration.

ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) was, and still is, a large part of the immigration debate during the tenures of President Obama, Trump, and Biden. To some Americans, they are a safety measure. To others, ICE represents family separation and deportation.

During President Obama’s first term in office, ICE arrests reached a record high: 1.18 million in three years. In 2014, he signed a series of executive orders -- the Priority Enforcement Program -- designed to target criminal undocumented immigrants (instead of innocent immigrants). His orders established a series of guidelines for the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize the removal of immigrants thought to be national security threats, immigrants convicted of serious crimes, and recent border crossers. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, the first year the orders were fully instituted, had a significant impact on the criminal makeup of unauthorized immigrants removed by ICE. Of the immigrants deported that first year, 92% were convicted of a crime. Strict adherence to the priorities by ICE agents and the use of prosecutorial discretion significantly reduced overall interior removals, from 224,000 in FY2011 to 65,000 in FY2016.

Bipartisan policy center

In 2017, President Trump signed an executive order and DHS memo that rescinded all of Obama’s priorities for removal. The new priorities targeted a much broader set of unauthorized persons for removal: they empowered ICE officers with broad discretionary authority to apprehend and detain any immigrant believed to have violated immigration law. After that order was signed into law, ICE arrests rose 30% in fiscal 2017 but were still far lower than the total during President Obama’s first term in office.

President Biden has taken a different approach than either of his predecessors. During his first 100 days in office, he signed a record 94 executive actions related to immigration (compared to Trump’s 30), 52 of which have been targeted at undoing those of the Trump administration. On Inauguration Day, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued new, temporary enforcement priorities which limited the noncitizens that ICE officers could apprehend. The impact of these new priorities has manifested quickly: monthly ICE arrests have decreased by more than 60%, compared to the last three months of the Trump administration. For comparison, by Trump’s first full month in office, ICE arrests increased by 26% above the average of the last three full months of the Obama administration.

Left Narrative

Despite what you hear on news channels like Fox, illegal immigrants do not increase crime rates in our country. In fact, studies show that immigrants are less likely to commit crime than native-born citizens, especially if they are illegal immigrants. These people are simply coming into our country and looking for a better or safer life; why would they risk that by committing a crime?

Right Narrative

Immigrants should wait in their country of origin or stay on visa until they can lawfully immigrate to the United States. ICE officers play an integral role in removing those who have broken US immigration law. If an individual wishes to return once deported, they should enter the country legally.

Children at the Border

New York Post


Starting in 2017, the Trump administration came under fire for its 'zero-tolerance' policy that charged all undocumented immigrants with criminal violations. He rescinded the order in 2018, but by then, thousands of families had been charged with illegal entry and separated. The Biden administration has (and still is) facing challenges of its own: over the past six months, record numbers of immigrants have tried to enter the United States. To house them, the President has placed children in cages very similar to the very ones Trump came under fire for. The immigration surge has subsided slightly, but the Southern border remains one of Biden's biggest challenges.

Adult immigrants making the dangerous journey to get to -- and then cross -- the Southern border is an emotionally charged issue for many. Children doing so is even more contentious. They were a central focus during the Trump presidency and remain just as significant during Biden's first year.

Family separations ramped up in the summer of 2017 when the Trump administration piloted a program in Texas to charge all undocumented border crossers with criminal violations. Previous administrations treated most first-time illegal crossings as civil infractions. Migrant parents were transferred to adult detention centers to await prosecution while their children were transferred to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services. Even after then-President Trump rescinded the policy in June 2018 due to mounting political pressure, USA Today (lean-left) reports that family separations continued (albeit less frequently). On June 8th, The Biden administration identified more than 3,900 children separated from their parents due to Trump's "zero-tolerance" policy on illegal crossings.

While Biden did not garner criticism for the same thing, he has faced plenty of crises of his own. At the beginning of his term, Biden issued a public health order to turn away single adults (the largest group of migrants) at the border but allow unaccompanied children to be legally held at the border for 72 hours. They are then transferred to a parent or other suitable sponsor in the U.S. while their immigration case is resolved. That public order, paired with turmoil in Central America, created a historic immigration surge: over 178,000 people were arrested crossing the border in April, the most ever recorded in a single month. As of mid-May, the Biden administration was holding tens of thousands of asylum-seeking children in an opaque network of 200 facilities that the Associated Press has learned spans two dozen states and with five shelters containing more than 1,000 children packed tightly inside. Even though the President has relocated many of those minors since then, correctly handling the influx of families and children at the Southern Border remains challenging.

Right Narrative

It is incredibly difficult to know whether a child is actually a part of the family, or if a Coyote smuggler is trafficking children into the country. When a family unit arrives at the border, separation is necessary for the safety of the children. Border agents simply do not know if the children are being exploited, trafficked, or forced into sex work.

Left Narrative

Reuniting families divided at the border under the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy must continue to be a top priority. A comprehensive plan must be put into place to keep families together while offering a safe path to citizenship.

Remain in Mexico Policy

Forbes

The Remain in Mexico policy was created by the Department of Homeland Security in 2018 under the Trump administration. Under this policy, asylum seekers must return to Mexico while waiting on a hearing in U.S. immigration court. The Biden administration attempted to end the program but were met with states challenging the decision. Ultimately the Supreme Court rejected their plea in August. 

The Remain in Mexico policy, formerly known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, was created by the Trump administration in 2018. The program was intended to reduce the number of asylum seekers coming from Mexico by forcing them to stay in their country until they received a hearing. 

Those in opposition of the program argued it denied people their legal right to seek protection and put them at risk of being harmed, sending them back to the dangerous cities they were trying to escape. Just around 13,000 of the estimated 71,000 asylum seekers sent back to Mexico have been allowed to enter the U.S.

The program was put on hold at the beginning of the pandemic when a public health order prevented anyone from crossing the border. On President Biden’s first day in office, the program was suspended. It was officially ended by the Homeland Security Department in June. Texas and Missouri immediately challenged this decision in federal court, saying it violated federal immigration law. The Biden administration took this in August to the Supreme Court, arguing restarting the program would “threaten chaos at the border” The court refused to block the lower court’s ruling, citing a former case against the Trump administration’s attempt to end DACA without a strong reason for it.

Left Narrative

The Remain in Mexico program must be terminated again. The Supreme Court’s ruling leaves space to find another way to end the program. While these asylum seekers are forced back to their country to wait for their hearings which usually never come, they fall victim to kidnapping, trafficking, and other crimes they are trying to flee from. This is just another attempt to frighten migrants from coming to the border.

DACA

NPR

DACA is a government program that shields immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally when they were children and have stayed in the U.S. extensively from deportation. In addition, the program provides work permits for such immigrants. Introduced by the Obama administration by executive order, the program has been the subject of debate. The majority of Americans support DACA, but questions about its constitutionality are still uncertain.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a provisional, governmental relief program regarding deportation. DACA was introduced in 2012 by executive order under the Obama Administration. Even if they were brought into the United States illegally when they were children, the program shields eligible immigrants from removal from the United States.

As of July 2021, approximately 828,000 young people have benefited from DACA, receiving protection from deportation and the ability to work or study in the U.S. (or both). While DACA status officially protects from deportation, it only provides "deferred action." This means no official legal status is conferred, and young immigrants ('DREAMers') must renew their deferral of removal to avoid deportation.

DACA is often associated with the DREAM Act, which is why these young immigrants are colloquially referred to as 'DREAMers.' The DREAM Act is a piece of legislation that originated in the U.S. Senate In 2001. Its purpose is to protect DREAMers from deportation permanently. (FileRight)

Since DACA's introduction in 2012, the program has captured public attention and gone through its fair share of legal proceedings. DACA held the support of nearly two out of every 3 Americans. A 2020 Pew Research survey also found that most voters support granting legal status to immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children: Democrats strongly support such legislation (91%), as do a plurality of Republicans (54%). In the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump paused DACA in his first year in office, expressing his desire for such a program to come via Congressional legislation. Facing legal rebuttal, the Supreme Court ultimately decided that the Trump Administration's steps to dismantle DACA were unconstitutional. However, the court failed to reach a determination in terms of the legality of DACA itself.

UPDATE: On July 16th, 2021, a federal district judge in Texas ruled in favor of nine conservative-led states, saying the program was not legal and blocking the Biden administration from accepting new DACA applicants. President Biden said the ruling was "deeply disappointing" and that the Department of Justice would appeal the decision in the coming months.

Right Narrative

Republicans range on the issue of DACA from deportation to amnesty. Republicans like former Senator Cory Gardner have previously sponsored the DREAM Act. President Ronald Reagan even granted amnesty in a move that is sometimes criticized within his own party.

Left Narrative

DACA supports the diversity that strengthens our nation, and the Democratic Party stands with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the program. DACA gives young immigrants, who didn’t have a choice in their status, a chance to work, strengthening our economy. According to the American Medical Association, almost 30,000 healthcare and frontline workers are a part of DACA, showcasing just how important they are to this country.

Migrant Caravans

NBC

Large groups of people traveled across Central America in an attempt to enter the U.S. at the country's Mexico border, known as migrant caravans. While not all of these caravans made it to the U.S. border, they garnered media attention and resurfaced the national debate over immigration laws.

According to the International Organization of Migration, the term migrant caravan describes "large groups of people moving by land across international borders." In U.S. media, they predominantly focus on those originating and traveling across Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border. While several dozen arose in the last few years, three particularly large caravans dominated media coverage in spring 2018, October 2018, and January 2021.

Spring 2018

  • A caravan with hundreds of asylum seekers crossed into Mexico in March. Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave orders to prosecute all cases of illegal immigration to states along the border.
  • From April through June, hundreds of immigrants poured into the United States, many of whom were detained as adult immigrants who came with children applying for asylum. Per the Flores Consent Decree of 1997, any unaccompanied minors (i.e. the children applying for asylum) can be held for only 20 days until the government must release them.
  • As families were separated, the Trump administration came under increased scrutiny for its handling of the border crisis.

Fall 2018

  • Another migrant caravan originating in Honduras crossed into Mexico, setting up a similar crisis as spring 2018.
  • President Trump ordered nearly 8,000 troops -- National Guardsman and active-duty soldiers -- down to the U.S.-Mexico border to handle the potential crisis.
  • In November, a group of mostly male members of the caravan attempted to cross into the United States and were rebuffed by U.S. forces with tear gas.
  • Soon after, the President announced he would consider closing the U.S.-Mexico border entirely if the situation did not improve.

January 2021

  • After Joe Biden's electoral victory over Donald Trump in November 2020, a migrant caravan of Honduras citizens, similar to those in 2018, emerged again. However, this caravan was significantly larger, with roughly 8,000 members.
  • There were anecdotal reports from right-wing news outlets of caravan members stating that Biden's pledge to place a 100-day moratorium on deportations was why they decided to make the march from Honduras to the U.S.-Mexico border. However, Mark Morgan, acting commissioner at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said, "Do not waste your time and money, and do not risk your safety and health." 

Guatemalan and Mexican forces broke up these caravans before they arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Right Narrative

Migrants arriving in caravans do so because they believe they will be granted free access into the United States without undergoing the legal process. These caravans should be stopped in their country of origin and individuals should not try to overwhelm the American immigration system.Republicans range on the issue of DACA from deportation to amnesty. Republicans like former Senator Cory Gardner have previously sponsored the DREAM Act. President Ronald Reagan even granted amnesty in a move that is sometimes criticized within his own party.

Left Narrative

Protecting migrants fleeing their countries due to poverty and violence is important. Those coming in caravans are fleeing by the masses for a reason and are looking to the United States for help. These asylum seekers should not be met with force, but it will take time to restore a safe border.

Sanctuary Cities

NYT


Over the past several years, as undocumented immigration has grown in size and deportations have risen, churches and cities alike across the United States are declaring themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. 


What are sanctuary cities?

  • Textbook definition: "Jurisdictions that have local policies that prevent or limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement officials." 
  • ICE officials are still able to "operate" in sanctuary cities. However, the local governments and police departments of sanctuary cities will "generally refuse ICE detainer requests, but honor them in cases where the person has been charged or convicted of a serious crime."
  • Sanctuary cities do not report the arrests of undocumented immigrants for misdemeanors or less severe crimes to prevent a situation where immigrants won't cooperate with police out of fear, ultimately leading to more crime and unsafe communities. 
  • "Soon after taking office in 2017, Trump issued an executive order that sought to withhold funds from sanctuary cities, but courts largely froze those efforts."

Sanctuary cities under different Presidents

  • Most of the Trump administration's efforts to cut funding for sanctuary cities failed in court. However, a New York federal appeals court decided that "the Trump administration can withhold millions of dollars in law enforcement grants to force states to cooperate with U.S. immigration enforcement."
  • Under the Biden administration, the Justice Department is halting any attempts to penalize those local jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with ICE fully. 
  • "In an internal memo seen by Reuters, acting head of the Office of Justice Programs Maureen Henneberg said that prior grant recipients, including cities, counties, and states that were recipients of the department's popular $250 million annual grant program for local law enforcement, will no longer be required to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as a condition of their funding."
  • Additionally, President Biden undid a Trump-era executive order that allowed the Justice Department to withhold funding from sanctuary cities.

Left Narrative

Democrats support sanctuary cities as a way to protect immigrants from ICE and deportation. Removing sanctuary cities will prevent undocumented immigrants from reporting crimes out of fear of deportation.When these immigrants are protected, they are more able to contribute to the sanctuaries. Immigrants may also be at risk for deportation over minor infractions.

Right Narrative

Sanctuary cities are unconstitutional due to federal preemption. They restrict the ability of federal officials to carry out United States immigration law. If someone is in the country illegally, they should be deported, and should they wish to reenter the country, they should come back through legally.

Border Walls


What is the border wall? How long is it? What is it made of? 

  • According to the Congressional Research Service, the Mexico–United States barrier, also known as the border wall, is a series of vertical barriers along the Mexico–United States border intended to reduce illegal immigration to the United States from Mexico.
  • According to BBC News, Before Trump took office, there were 654 miles (just over 1,000km) of barrier along the southern border - made up of 354 miles of barricades to stop pedestrians and 300 miles of anti-vehicle fencing.
  • According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), as of October 2020, the southern border has 669 miles of "primary barrier" - the first structure people heading from Mexico to the U.S. will encounter - and 65 miles of "secondary barrier" - which usually runs behind the primary wall as a further obstacle.
  • Much of the current wave of construction is 18-30ft (5.4-9m) reinforced bollard fencing (steel beams). This design allows border agents to look through the wall and adjust to prevent large groups from crossing the border at a given time. In addition, anti-climb features ensure that migrants reach a legal point of entry where human trafficking can be stopped, and legal processes can occur.

How is it being paid for?

  • Just over $5bn in funding has come via traditional means through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, but Trump has also ordered almost $10bn in Department of Defense (DoD) funding.
  • In 2019, after rejecting his request for a further $5.7bn, Congress allotted only $1.4bn. Trump declared border control a national emergency and used powers under the National Emergencies Act to move cash from DoD budgets.

Has the border wall affected immigration? 

  • Illegal crossings appear to have fallen in 2020 after doubling between 2018 and 2019.
  • How much this fall in numbers is down to the new barriers is unclear, though, and immigration experts say the drop is likely to result from the deterrent effect of a whole raft of anti-immigration measures introduced by Trump's administration rather than the barrier alone.

The barrier is unlikely to stop most kinds of drugs from coming into the U.S. 

  • Strengthening and extending the border barrier is unlikely to do much to reduce illegal drugs - such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine - because most come through established border checkpoints, known as ports of entry.
  • While most of the heroin in the U.S. does come from Mexico, the Drug Enforcement Administration says most of it is hidden in privately owned vehicles or transporter lorries, mixed with other goods, and smuggled through legal entry points.

What are the political perspectives?

  • An NPR/Ipsos poll found that partisan fault lines begin to emerge in terms of how to handle the influx of immigrants at the Southern Border. For example, most Democrats (63%) favor providing resources to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to curb Central American immigration (just 37% of Republicans agree). On the other side, three-quarters of Republicans (76%) support building a wall or fence along the entirety of the border – something only one in five Democrats favor. (NPR/Ipsos - May 19)

Right Narrative

Border Patrol requires a physical barrier to prevent illegal border crossings. Officers also need to be able to see through the barrier to watch for large gatherings and potential breaches; this means slates with anti-climb technology are most effective. Without a strong physical barrier, illegal immigrants will continue to cross into the United States and traffickers will continue to smuggle drugs across the border.Sanctuary cities are unconstitutional due to federal preemption. They restrict the ability of federal officials to carry out United States immigration law. If someone is in the country illegally, they should be deported, and should they wish to reenter the country, they should come back through legally.

Left Narrative

The Left opposes expanding the border wall, as it is divisive as well as a misuse of taxpayer dollars. President Trump abused the project, taking away too much funding from various departments, including the Pentagon and the Department of Defense’s drug interdiction program. Border expansion efforts and the narratives around them put local communities at risk and ruin the nation’s relationship with Mexico.

Texas' Border Wall

Texas Tribune

After President Biden halted construction of President Trump’s border wall, Texas Governor Greg Abbott vowed to build his own border wall in Texas. After approving $1.05 billion in the spring, the Texas House recently allocated $1.88 billion in funding for southern border security. The state-funded wall is an attempt to decrease the number of immigrants trying to pass through their border with Mexico.

The Texas-Mexico border stretches over 1,200 miles. Under the guidance of Governor Abbott, Texas plans to build a border wall along 733 miles of that border. The State House of Representatives recently passed HB 9, which approved an additional $1.88 billion for construction on top of the $1.05 billion approved in the spring of 2021. Texas has raised an additional $54 million in private funding to fund other border projects. 

The funding and border creation are meant to reduce the number of immigrants coming into the U.S., especially those who may have already attempted to cross the border or are hesitant to do so. Approximately 27% of immigrants who made it to the border this summer had previously tried to cross into the United States. An additional 1,800 Texas National Guard soldiers will be stationed at the border, bringing the total to 2,500.

To some, the issue is not political but rather a necessary public safety measure. Others see it as part of the current Governor’s strategy to maximize voter turnout ahead of his reelection. A poll by the University of Texas at Austin found that Abbott’s 41% approval rating is an all-time low, with 50% of Texans disapproving of his actions.

Border security, according to the U.S. Constitution, is a federal responsibility not granted to states. This may present itself as a legal obstacle to Governor Abbott’s plan. Some Texas landowners have already filed lawsuits against the federal government for attempts at building the border. However, the state is allowed to build a wall on private land. Approximately 120 landowners have agreed to allow some type of temporary fence along their properties while the state builds and executes a real border wall.

Left Narrative

The Left opposes expanding the border wall, as it is divisive as well as a misuse of taxpayer dollars. President Trump abused the project, taking away too much funding from various departments, including the Pentagon and the Department of Defense’s drug interdiction program. Border expansion efforts and the narratives around them put local communities at risk and ruin the nation’s relationship with Mexico.

Right Narrative

Border Patrol requires a physical barrier to prevent illegal border crossings. Officers also need to be able to see through the barrier to watch for large gatherings and potential breaches; this means slates with anti-climb technology are most effective. Without a strong physical barrier, illegal immigrants will continue to cross into the United States and traffickers will continue to smuggle drugs across the border.


Conclusion

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