The Trump administration is working diligently to install 450-500 miles of new border wall by the end of next year, which new Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf called “common sense” during a construction tour last week.
In addition, Wolf noted that the administration’s efforts to combat illegal immigration and drug smuggling along the U.S.-Southwest border were both welcome and necessary.
“Simply put — walls work,” Wolf said Thursday, speaking to reporters in the Rio Grande Valley sector and surrounded by Border Patrol agents.
“We have seen over and over again that when we construct a wall, illegal activity goes down. We saw it in the 1990s in San Diego, and we are seeing it today in El Paso.”
Wolf assumed his new role from former Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan earlier this month. So far, he has shown every sign he will continue advancing President Trump’s border enforcement agenda and his signature 2016 campaign pledge – a new border wall.
“It’s common sense,” he said. “No one disputes that we should give our men and women in the military the best equipment to keep them safe and to keep our country safe.
“Why should things be any different for the men and women of the Border Patrol, who are protecting our homeland?” he added.
The Trump administration has faced significant hurdles in its attempt to beef up existing boundaries and build new border wall sections.
Democrats and some Republicans in Congress have opposed his requests for new border wall construction funding, even to the point where approval of the 2020 Defense Appropriations Bill has been held up this month over wall funding.
Also, liberal organizations have fought the administration in federal court every step of the way. Environmental groups have also opposed new wall construction.
That said, in September the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a lower court’s freeze on the use of military funds for border wall construction as part of the president’s emergency border declaration earlier this year.
Wolf said last week that 83 miles of new wall have been erected. Critics disputed that, claiming the wall was merely replacing existing structures.
However, supporters of the president noted that in many sections border barriers were either nonexistent or so flimsy that the new sections among to new walls. The flimsy sections included Normandy-style landing mats.
“When we tear down 1970s era landing mat wall that is seven-eight feet high and you put up what’s behind us, that’s not replacement wall — that is a new wall that is a new physical infrastructure,” Wolf said.
“So I don’t agree with the assertion that we’re simply replacing wall by constructing what’s behind us in places that have never had this type of physical infrastructure.”