Senate Democrats say agents on the ground near the southwest border aren’t enthusiastic about President Trump’s hope to build a wall there. The Customs and Border Protection agency insists that agents favor the wall.
President Trump wants a wall along the border with Mexico to stop undocumented immigrants and drugs from entering the U.S., but Border Patrol agents on the front lines say they need more technology and additional personnel to curb the illegal traffic, say Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, the New York Times reports. The report was based on internal Customs and Border Protection documents. It concluded that fewer than one half of 1 percent of the agents’ suggestions to secure the Southwest border mentioned the need for a wall. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), the committee’s top Democrat, said the report reinforced what she had heard from border agents and leaders at the Customs and Border Protection agency.
Officials at Customs and Border Protection called the report inaccurate, saying it confused how agents’ feedback about security vulnerabilities is used to develop programs to counter threats. The documents show that the Border Patrol identified what it called 902 “capability gaps,” or vulnerabilities, on the Southwest border. The word “wall” was suggested as a possible solution for just three of those gaps. Agents mentioned a “fence” or “fencing” as a possible solution 34 times — less than 4 percent of the 902 vulnerabilities identified. Customs and Border Protection officials said Border Patrol agents were asked to identify “gaps” in border security, not to propose solutions. “The U.S. Border Patrol has been very clear that a border wall is essential to gaining operational control of the Southwest border,” said the Border Patrol’s Benjamine Huffman. “The fact is, when it comes to border security, the border walls system works. Suggestions that the Border Patrol believes otherwise are false.”