By Mark Anderson
DONNA, Texas—It’s been a long time since a section of border wall has been built where no wall stood before. But here, just south of the city of Donna, Texas—in Hidalgo County near this writer’s winter stomping grounds—it’s actually happening, and it represents the most tangible sign to date that President Donald Trump is trying to keep his promise to briskly build new border barriers and not just modify or replace existing ones.
The Rio Grande Valley (RGV) consists of four counties—Hidalgo and Cameron to the east, Starr to the West, and Willacy just north of the others. The RGV’s border with Mexico stretches from the Gulf of Mexico west to the Falcon Dam, about 277 river miles.
However, in the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector, just under 60 of these miles have a physical barrier. The new wall in the vicinity of Donna will begin filling that gap and will be connected to an existing border wall built in 2008 under the 2006 Secure Fence Act.
On Sept. 29, Customs and Border Protection (CPB) awarded a contract to Gibraltar-Caddell Joint Venture for up to $296 million to build 22 miles of noncontiguous border wall, starting just east of the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge. Steel bollards, reportedly ranging in height from 18 to 30 feet, are to fill in the gaps of the existing wall. The contract was awarded in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
According to CPB news releases, in Fiscal Year 2019 (Oct. 1, 2018 through Sept. 30 of 2019) Congress appropriated $1.375 billion for a South Texas border wall; however, the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge and a few other RGV sites were exempted from having the border wall cut through them, including the La Lomita Catholic Chapel, the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, and the National Butterfly Center next door to the park, all of which are on the westerly side of the RGV sector.
While National Butterfly Center Executive Director Marianna Trevino Wright told this writer that she protested the wall to prevent the project from disrupting the fragile vegetation that provides habitat for butterflies and bees right when the populations of these important pollinators appear to be dropping—an understandable position given the importance of pollinators to human food supplies and the general ecosystem—the National Wildlife Refuge is a different matter. That’s because it has also been described by CBP officials and citizen border-watchers as a human refuge where illegal entrants, including those involved in serious crimes and criminal enterprises, can hide with relative impunity because the refuge’s strict regulations severely limit the ability of Border Patrol agents to enter the area while armed and apprehend the illegal aliens.
As Trump stated during his recent well-attended rallies in Louisiana, Texas, and elsewhere, it’s not altogether necessary to build a continuous, unbroken barrier for the entire 1,900-mile border than runs from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Coast in California. But the big-box media, in its effort to make the border-barrier project seem insurmountably huge, tends to ignore or downplay Trump’s explanation that border-wall sections need not be built where mountains and other “natural barriers” suffice in stopping or slowing the traffickers of humans, guns, drugs etc. while drones and Border Patrol personnel keep a close watch to nab those who might make it through.
The always-Trump-bashing, open borders-loving New York Times sent three reporters to Hidalgo County. Writing about the entire southern border, while subtly admitting Trump is making real progress in Donna and beyond, the intrepid trio noted: “There are hundreds more miles to go. The government has been racing to meet a deadline— the president’s promise to build approximately 500 miles of border fencing by the end of 2020. According to Customs and Border Protection officials, about $9.8 billion has been set aside in funding from the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and a Treasury Department asset-forfeiture fund. . . . All told, about 76 miles of replacement wall have been completed along the border, federal officials said, meaning that more than 400 miles must be installed in about 60 weeks to meet the deadline.”
“We think we can get it close to 500 miles by the end of next year, depending on certain terrain conditions,” Trump was quoted as saying by the Times, referring to a September press conference when he showed off the steel bollards erected near San Diego. Trump added, “We’re building it at breakneck speed.”
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor. Email him at [email protected].
Trump’s Increased Border Security Means Fewer Child Traffickers
In a related article from American Free Press Issue 47&48, roving editor Mark Anderson explains that better border security deters criminal activity of all kinds, including human traffickers.
By Mark Anderson
The Democrats and their ideological kin throughout most of the big-box media get their kicks peddling old stats for new arguments. A recent case in point: Activist Manfred Novak at a Nov. 19 United Nations press conference stated that the U.S. “still [has] more than 100,000 children in migration-related detention,” which was retailed by most media without verification, save for Agence France-Presse and the Associated Press later issuing retractions.
Why the retractions? Nowak’s figures were from the days of the administration of Barack Obama—whose professions of supposed solidarity with, and sympathy for, illegal immigrants, especially immigrant children, allegedly knew no bounds.
However, according to American Immigration Council attorney Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, “Currently, there are [around] 1,500 kids in family detention, plus [around] 5,000 kids in [Office of Refugee Resettlement] shelters.”
But beyond such now-routine misrepresentation of the realities of the border crisis by those cursing President Donald Trump every nanosecond, the difficult but often effective work of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) goes on daily with little in the way of extensive recognition of the tangible results of such brave efforts. The fact of the matter is, while there are relatively few children being detained, more and more criminals—the ones that actually traffic the kids—are being arrested.
And even while the Trump administration, contrary to the claims or the wishes of certain critics from both parties, is actually building new border wall sections as briskly as humanly possible, ICE announced the following on Nov. 14 in a news release from ICE’s Seattle office:
In [Fiscal Year 2019, Oct. 1, 2018 to Sept. 30, 2019], HSI [Homeland Security Investigations of ICE] “initiated 4,224 child exploitation cases resulting in 3,771 criminal arrests, and identified or rescued 1,066 victims—an increase of nearly 18% over FY 18, reflecting HSI’s firm commitment to ending these heinous crimes against children, wherever they occur.”
What’s especially noteworthy is the fact that poorly regulated immigration with porous borders results in crimes that fan out across the nation with global ramifications—an important consideration given the constant efforts by open border advocates who want everyone to believe that weak border security mainly affects the southern border states.
As an ICE statement from the same news release explained: “Over the years, HSI’s child exploitation prevention efforts morphed from a small center in Fairfax, Va. into a worldwide initiative that includes agents across HSI Seattle’s area of responsibility, which spans Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. One of these major prevention efforts was the launch of HSI’s flagship initiative, Operation Predator, and key domestic and foreign partnerships, which have been paramount in the expansion of both its reach and success.”
At a Nov. 14 ribbon-cutting to christen HSI’s new Angel Watch Center in Fairfax, Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence remarked: “ICE-HSI analysts, investigators, and special agents possess unique law enforcement authorities concerning cross-border criminal activity and have long-standing jurisdiction to investigate traveling sex offenders.”
Albence also explained that the Angel Watch Center’s primary task is to provide notification to foreign countries regarding the anticipated travel of convicted and registered child sex offenders. The center, which is an addition to the Cyber Crimes Center, enhances ICE agents’ ability to safeguard innocent children from falling victim to dangerous predators.
All told, this is what America needs to see: new border wall sections going up, arrests of crossborder child traffickers up, and detentions of minors relatively low.
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor. Email him at [email protected].