Brandon Judd, Border security is crucial to our nation’s efforts to control the coronavirus, and President Trump has a proven track record of effectively protecting our borders.
Despite intense political opposition for over three years, the president has managed to significantly expand and strengthen the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — and we remain on pace to reach the goal of 450 miles of new barriers by the end of the year. He’s also used his executive authority to close loopholes in our immigration system that had previously been widely exploited by illegal immigrants.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people — in some years more than a million — attempt to illegally cross the southwest border into the U.S. Some of these people are violent criminals, drug smugglers, and human traffickers. Others are merely fleeing poverty or political dysfunction. None of them can be screened for contagious diseases if they aren’t intercepted by Border Patrol agents. Thanks to President Trump’s decisive actions, there has been a sharp decline in illegal border crossings since the caravan-drive surge of 2018, which translates to a lower chance of the highly-infectious novel coronavirus crossing the southern border into the U.S., and thus more American lives saved.
As with the president’s smart and swift measure to stop travel from China into the U.S. early on in the outbreak, his commitment to border security has consistently been mischaracterized as “racist” and “xenophobic” by the same critics who refused to acknowledge the tragic deaths and human suffering inflicted by unfettered illegal immigration in the past. Anyone who has served on the front lines of immigration enforcement, however, knows that restricting travel and securing our borders are both smart and necessary actions.
The Centers for Disease Control has also made it clear that illegal immigrants “present a serious infection control challenge and are a risk to public health,” endorsing the president’s decision to institute a temporary policy of returning all newly-apprehended illegal immigrants rather than detaining them.
Other countries have seen the need to close their borders as well. Both Canada and Mexico worked with the Trump administration to close our northern and southern borders to non-essential travel. Mexican citizens are now even forming their own makeshift blockades to prevent people from entering their country without being screened for the virus, while Ecuadorian officials physically blocked an airport runway to prevent a plane from Spain from landing with passengers who could potentially have the virus.
Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security waived a series of regulations in order to speed up the construction of 91.5 miles of border wall in Arizona, as well as an additional 86 miles along other parts of the U.S.-Mexico border, complete with the installation of a linear ground detection system, lighting, and cameras.
I’ve met with the president many times regarding the illegal immigration crisis — which long preceded coronavirus, and is now intextricably intertwined with public health concerns. I know how committed he is to border security, and how determined he is to protect America from preventable exposure to the invisible enemy of coronavirus.
Brandon Judd is the president of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), the exclusive labor representative of approximately 16,000 Border Patrol agents.