Border became more secure in the last four years

Donald Trump,Rodney Scott

When Democratic candidates for President Joe Biden and Kamala Harris stood on stage earlier this year and pledged to give illegal immigrants free healthcare and a free college education, political pundits left and right agreed that illegal immigration would certainly once again be a main issue in the November election.

Yet despite these shockingly wrong-headed policy positions, illegal immigration, and government handouts for illegals have barely been discussed. Here in Arizona, where voters consistently rank immigration as one of their top five issues of concern, the debate has largely been about healthcare, education and tax hikes.

These are certainly important and critical issues for Arizona voters, but it is curious that this hot topic is absent from our public discourse.

So, what changed? As President of the National Border Patrol Council, I can tell you that a lot has changed – for the better – during the Trump administration.

Brandon Judd
Brandon Judd

Essentially, under the leadership of President Trump, the “magnets” for those who wantonly disregard the rules and laws for legally immigrating to the United States have been removed. For example, the refugee system — set up to provide refuge for victims of war and persecution who had nowhere else to go, often on an explicitly temporary basis — had long since been abused.  Today the system has finally been returned to its proper role.

As a result, the data show that our refugee slots are finally being used for their intended purpose of helping genuinely oppressed people and groups, while excluding “refugees” from areas rife with terrorist groups or those just trying to game the system.

The asylum system, too, has been reined in, and no longer serves as a backdoor visa program. Under the “Remain in Mexico” policy initiated by President Trump and related cooperative agreements with Mexico and other countries to the south, claiming a “credible fear” of oppression in one’s home country is no longer a free ticket into the United States.

The Justice Department has finally halted the rapid expansion of hardships that qualified someone as an “asylum seeker,” which allowed economic migrants to avoid scrutiny of their claims for months or years.

These are just some of the reforms and President Trump’s policy successes that helped defeat the so-called caravan waves of 2018 and 2019 and made the border safer and more secure than at any point in recent memory.

Finally, President Trump kept his 2016 campaign promise to “build the wall” and today we have made real progress. More physical barriers go up every day, making Border Patrol agents more effective, while also protecting our border communities.

With the wall and other long-sought improvements to the border infrastructure, the Border Patrol is making tremendous gains in the fight against drugs and the brutal cartels that smuggle them into our country. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of violent gang members, including members of the vicious MS-13, have been evicted from our country.

This election will be close. But voters need to ask themselves what would happen under a Biden-Harris administration. Would President Trump’s reform policies remain, or would they be dismantled?  Will the promise of free healthcare and a free college education serve as a strong “magnet,” thus increasing the number of those entering our country illegally? Would construction of the border wall cease, allowing drug and human smuggling to continue unabated?

The reality is efforts over the last four years have finally put us on the path to truly securing our border.  Perhaps voters feel like this issue has been resolved. They’d be wise to consider the consequences of a Biden-Harris administration.

Brandon Judd is President of the National Border Patrol Council.

Illegal immigration cost far too great for Arizona

In this June 23, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump tours a section of the border wall in San Luis, Ariz. During his 2016 primary run, Trump sought to mark his ground as a hard-line immigration enforcer who would build “a great, great wall on our southern border.” Nearly four years later, Trump still has work to do completing his wall and much that has been completed has been paid by U.S. taxpayers despite promises otherwise. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
In this June 23, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump tours a section of the border wall in San Luis, Ariz. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Illegal immigration comes with a high price, and Arizona taxpayers are tired of paying it.

For many years, the federal government failed to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. Our elected officials in Washington downplayed the threat posed by illegal immigration until the problem became too big to sweep under the rug.

According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, taxpayers shell out around $132 billion per year, across all levels of government, to pay for a long list of social programs and government services that are currently available people living in the country illegally.

Despite this astronomical figure, some politicians believe taxpayers should be forced to shell out even more money for people living in the country illegally than we do already. They argue, for instance, that it’s the government’s responsibility to provide free health care and education for people residing in this country illegally. In a perfect world where everything was free, those impulses would probably be commendable — after all, they come from a place of good intentions. In reality, though, there is no such thing as a free lunch, much less a free doctor visit or a free textbook. In the end, taxpayers always have to foot the bill for government expenditures — and that bill is ballooning out of control.

According to FAIR, people living here illegally are “at least three times more likely to be incarcerated than citizens and legal immigrants.”

Art Del Cueto
Art Del Cueto

Every single year, people living here illegally commit thousands of violent crimes across America — crimes that would not take place if our country was protected by a secure border and well-crafted immigration system. As a result, governments have to invest our tax dollars in law enforcement to protect communities that have been infiltrated by international criminal organizations. Likewise, states must pay for the incarceration of criminals who are living her illegally, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars per year for each inmate. According to a 2017 report, Arizona sheriff’s departments spent $335 million between 2009 and 2016 incarcerating people who are residing her illegally and convicted of breaking state and local laws.

Despite all of these challenges, however, our country is currently on the right track to fix our immigration system and secure the border.

For the past four years, the Trump administration has made it a priority to reduce illegal immigration, erect new and improved barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, and deport criminals who are living here illegally in an effort to protect border states such as Arizona.

During a recent campaign rally, President Trump revealed that under his watch, the federal government has deported about 20,000 gang members, including many belonging to the bloodthirsty MS-13 gang.

“We’ve now deported over a half a million criminal illegal aliens,” the President said, highlighting the fact the White House has made it harder for criminals to enter and remain in our country illegally.

This summer, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement began a nationwide operation to hunt down people who are living here without legal permission who have been charged and convicted of crimes involving victims, such as domestic violence and assault. In September, the agency announced the arrests of dozens of criminals who had been residing in Arizona illegally.

Turning a blind eye to illegal immigration doesn’t come cheap, and Arizona taxpayers have been forced to subsidize our broken immigration system for far too long. For the sake of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens, we must remain committed to securing the border and not allow our recent successes to lull us into a false sense of complacency.

Art Del Cueto is Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council.