COMMENTARY: The U.S. Border Patrol used to call the barrier on the southern border a fence. Now it’s calling the same type of structure a wall.
That was the takeaway from Monday’s press conference in Santa Teresa, the site of a 20-mile barrier that’s being constructed along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“This is the beginning in this sector of the president’s border wall,” Chief Patrol Agent Aaron A. Hull of the El Paso Sector was quoted by the Albuquerque Journal as saying.
That’s some fancy political spin designed to make it appear that President Donald Trump is fulfilling his promise to build a “big, beautiful wall” along the border. It isn’t true.
The new fencing is an upgrade, the Dallas Morning News reports. It’s replacing “three-foot-tall posts and a taller mesh fence with an 18- to 30-foot barrier” called bollard fencing. The fence “is a style favored by agents who want to be able to look into Mexico as they patrol the nation’s southern border,” the newspaper reported.
In addition to not really being a “wall,” the upgrade is remarkably similar to another stretch of bollard fencing down the road in Sunland Park that was funded during the Obama presidency. And it’s “part of a replacement barrier that’s been undergoing upgrades throughout the Bush, Obama and now Trump administrations,” the newspaper reported.
The new section is being paid for not by Mexico, as Trump promised, but with $77.3 million appropriated to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In other words, you’re paying for a taller fence, just like you’ve been doing during the past three presidencies.
This is the federal government’s new plan to fortify the border. If it looks familiar, that’s because it is.
The deployment of the National Guard to the border should also sound familiar. Gov. Susana Martinez joined other border state governors in heeding Trump’s recent call and is sending 250 troops. Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush did the same.
They all ramped up militarization of the border with bipartisan congressional support. The ever-increasing push to reduce Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure along the border through several presidencies is another example.
Meanwhile, families are being ripped apart, wildlife habitat is being devastated and residents of border communities in “the land of the free” have been forced to accept a constant military-style presence.
There’s a contrast between Democrats and Republicans, in general, on what to do about the millions of immigrants living in the United States without legal status. But on the issue of border security, in spite of the political rhetoric, we keep getting more of the same: repeatedly sticking Band-Aids on a problem that demands nuanced, bipartisan reform.
While Republicans have sacrificed immigrants at the altar of political victory more often than Democrats, both parties have done it. The powers-that-be spend millions to win elections by dividing us while the only real action looks the same regardless of who is in charge.
Immigration reform isn’t currently a serious topic in Washington. That may be the most offensive aspect of this circus show, because immigration is a critical, contentious issue that literally threatens our nation’s future. What do we elect people to do if not work together to solve our greatest challenges?
There’s no evidence Washington will change things. Reform won’t come until people turn off Fox News and MSNBC and instead get to know and better understand folks with different experiences and opinions so we can find a way forward.
This BBSNews article originally appeared on NMPolitics.net.