MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, January 10th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. Next up, Cal Thomas on the border wall debate.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: Despite advance billing that President Trump’s border wall speech would break news and contain new information, it was mostly familiar rhetoric. Criminals and drugs, rapists and murderers are coming to America and a wall is the only way to stop them.
The president named families who have lost loved ones at the hands of undocumented immigrants. But a case could be made that American citizens are killing each other at higher rates during an average weekend in Chicago and other big cities than are killed by immigrants.
Whose facts to believe? There are plenty on both sides of the argument. Raul Ortiz, the deputy chief of Border Patrol, says his agents arrest more than 600 undocumented immigrants every day. Other sources say arrests and border crossings have substantially declined in recent years.
On top of dueling facts we have political flip-flopping. Many Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and former President Barack Obama, once championed stronger border security. When he was a senator from Illinois in 2006, Obama said: “Because we live in an age where terrorists are challenging our borders, we simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented, and unchecked. Americans are right to demand better border security and better enforcement of our immigration laws.”
Those remarks are in line with what President Trump says now.
Opponents claim the decline in the number of people crossing the southern border proves we don’t need a wall or other barrier. But as the White House noted, walls already in place are proof that barriers work.
Since San Diego built its wall in 1992, the White House statement notes, apprehensions of illegal aliens have declined by 92 percent. El Paso, Texas, erected a wall in 1993 and illegal border crossings dropped 72 percent the first year and 95 percent over 22 years. Tucson built its wall in 2000 and apprehensions dropped 90 percent over 15 years. The wall in Yuma, Arizona, went up in 2005, contributing to a 95 percent decline in crossings over nine years.
Yes, many went to other places where they could cross more easily, but that’s an argument for expanding the wall or constructing other barriers.
In the end, this debate is a battle of images. One image is of people trying to cross the border illegally. The other image is of 800,000 suffering federal employees going without paychecks. Which side wins is less important than what is best for America. If only more politicians cared about that higher goal.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas.