Daniel Horowitz Op-ed: Wall construction under Biden? Red states can complete border wall in Texas and Arizona
What can states do when the federal government not only keeps its border open, but directly invites the cartels and smugglers to bring in potentially millions of new migrants, along with cartel members, gangsters, and previously deported criminals? That is a question we never thought we’d have to grapple with, but it is of vital importance for our national security and communities.
In January, I laid out the constitutional case for states to secure the border when the federal government is actively working against border security, one of the foundational purposes for the states to create a federal government in the first place. Now, one Texas lawmaker is introducing a bill that could serve as the impetus for states actually securing some degree of control over the border.
On Monday, Texas state Rep. Bryan Slaton filed HB 2862, which would fund the completion of the border wall in Texas with state funds. The bill requires the governor to request reimbursement from the federal government. Such an effort would bolster the existing Operation Lone Star, in which Gov. Greg Abbott has deployed the Texas Rangers to the border.
The reason this bill is so important is because the Biden administration halted the construction of the border fence even while portions of the wall were still being built. The fact that parts of the wall were built non-contiguously has allowed the cartels to easily go around the fencing. Worse, as I reported last week, the cartels now have the advantage of using the new access roads built during the construction. Thus, the half-completed fencing, in some ways, leaves us more vulnerable than before the construction.
Overall, the Trump administration constructed 453 miles of new fencing – 373 miles of replacement fencing for existing designs that were dilapidated or easy to breach and 80 miles where no fencing existed. However, most of that fencing was in Arizona or in the El Paso sector, which includes far west Texas and New Mexico. Just 18 miles were completed in the Rio Grande Valley sector and zero miles were completed in the Del Rio and Laredo sectors, but 165 miles in those three sectors were under construction when Biden terminated the project. Del Rio, in particular, is a hot spot at this point.
It’s also important to build in Arizona. As the Cochise County sheriff told me in an interview, the fact that the wall and its infrastructure were halted midway through made things worse than they were before. Builders completely ripped out the old fencing to build new fencing, but now, with construction halted, there is nothing there, and illegal immigrants and smugglers can cross over with cars and enjoy the newly built access roads. “They literally just walked away from it,” said Sheriff Dannels.
What’s worse is that in Cochise County, the infrastructure in the low water crossings was not completed, which means that when the heavy rains come in a few months, the foundations will be destroyed, making it much more expensive to rebuild. Meanwhile, time is of the essence, as Sheriff Dannels is now counting close to 3,000 runners detected on his cameras per month, up from just 400 a month a year ago. His sergeant, Tim Williams, who runs the camera system, tells me the department is only apprehending about 35% of them. Due to the rugged terrain and remote areas, those crossing in areas of the border like Cochise are mainly criminals and drug runners – not the sort of people you want disappearing into the interior.
Arizona would be wise to follow up with its own bill to complete at least the existing infrastructure of the border wall. Likewise, other red states can chip in by appropriating small amounts of money to pool together in an effort to help these two border states shoulder the national burden. They can also crowdsource from private funds.
Such a national effort to complete the border wall would publicly embarrass the Biden administration and force an inflection point in our body politic regarding the border situation as a whole. States will be forced to choose between anarchy and security. The red states have no choice but to act before hundreds of thousands more teem through our border.
Don McLaughlin, mayor of Uvalde, Texas, 60 miles into the interior from the Del Rio border with Mexico, explained on my podcast how ranchers in his county are now being confronted by desperate smugglers.
“The ranchers are getting confronted more and more, their fences are getting cut, and their land is being trashed by the migrants,” said the border mayor. “What’s concerning is that they are getting bolder and bolder about coming to your house and demanding you give them food, you give them transportation, and you give them money. It’s a powder keg that’s going to blow up. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when somebody is going to get shot – whether it be a local citizen, a local rancher, or one of these immigrants coming across the ranches, because they’re getting braver and braver. And some of them, to be honest, are very aggressive when they approach you. We’re seeing more aggressiveness now than we’ve ever seen before.”
The anarchy that spills over on our side of the border obviously bubbles up from the Mexican side. Even the Mexican government has become exasperated with Biden. As Reuters reports, Mexico President AMLO referred to Biden as the “migrant president,” and his government is concerned at how Biden’s policies have created a sophisticated market for organized crime up and down the smuggling routes of Mexico.
Perhaps the red states can even work with Mexico to build the wall and make Biden pay for it!