Ahead of a potential government-shutdown battle, President Trump is reportedly willing to forgo a congressional down payment on a “big, beautiful wall” on America’s southern border. Despite his insistence on the wall’s importance to his immigration-enforcement agenda, the president is apparently open to postponing negotiations on funding until September, when Congress will take up the 2018 budget.
The maximalist version of Donald Trump’s proposed border wall was always a quixotic enterprise. From Brownsville, Texas, to San Diego, Calif., the U.S.–Mexico border stretches nearly 2,000 miles, often across rugged, harsh terrain — including Texas’s Big Bend National Park and Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. Building a single, monolithic wall is not feasible for much of this territory, as Trump himself acknowledges at times. The proposed route of a wall also cuts through privately owned land, raising serious legal questions. Nevertheless, more barriers in select places are welcome. We have repeatedly suggested as much and, the fulsome rhetoric of the president notwithstanding, this is the goal of the Department of Homeland Security.
These and other policies, and their (usually) clear promulgation, are already having an effect on the flow of illegal immigration into the U.S. DHS reports that border apprehensions of parents and children decreased 93 percent — from 16,000 to just over 1,100 — from December 2016 to March 2017. DHS secretary John Kelly suggests that news of the new administration’s tougher line on illegal immigration is discouraging many would-be illegal immigrants from taking the risk of crossing the border.
E-Verify, a crackdown on H-1B abuse, and similar measures should be more important priorities than additional barriers at the border.
Since there is a finite amount of funding available for immigration enforcement, E-Verify, a crackdown on H-1B abuse, and similar measures should be more important priorities than additional barriers at the border. The purpose of the wall, after all, was to cut down, and ideally end, the steady stream of immigrants crossing our southern border illegally. We are now seeing how central enforcement in the interior of the country is to that goal. The wall Trump often describes may be big and beautiful, but it is also fanciful, and, when it comes to the things we need to do to establish a durable enforcement regime, largely beside the point.