My Visit to the US Mexican Border
Auditor David Thomas Visits US Mexico Border on Midwest Policy Trip
McAllen, Texas- Every state is a border state with even Ashtabula County facing the impact of a crisis at the Southern United States Mexican Border according to County Auditor David Thomas who made a brief visit to see the problem firsthand.
“It was incredible to actually touch the border wall and speak with people who are on the front lines of this crisis,” said Auditor David Thomas. “I did not truly realize how bad border security was until this week and now see it fully as a safety and humanitarian issue.”
Thomas joined roughly 50 grassroots leaders from across the Midwest on a policy trip organized and funded by the Americans for Prosperity organization, a nonprofit national organization focused on educating citizens on fiscal issues and advocating for more free economic policies.
“Just as an example of the brokenness, we heard that just last week 24,000 illegal immigrants were arrested by Border Patrol. 5,000 were removed back to their country and 6,000 sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. What happened to the other 13,000 people?” Thomas asks, “well, they’re released into the communities and told of a court date seven years later. That doesn’t even include an estimated 5,000 get a ways or people they know crossed but weren’t arrested.”
Thomas made three stops while in McAllen, Texas to view a crossing area by illegal immigrants across the Rio Grande River, a Texas state park to view a variety of physical barriers and hear from a retired Border Patrol Agent, and the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley to see a humanitarian response to the influx of immigrants.
“Just seeing how a wall works in some areas and is desperately needed but won’t work in many other areas due to terrain was eye opening,” explained Auditor Thomas. “Same with certain pieces of technology or more manpower, there’s no silver bullet but all of them combined with policy changes can make a big difference.”
Thomas pointed to a statistic presented by retired Yuma, Arizona Boarder Patrol Chief Chris Clem about fentanyl and the drugs which he would see daily pour across the border as a direct impact to the opioid crisis and many deaths experienced just in Ashtabula as a reason for stronger border security. “Just last week Chris said Arizona picked up 192 pounds of fentanyl in one day, that could kill a whole city,” shared Auditor Thomas. “There’s no doubt we have a direct link between Ohio and what is coming over the border through Mexico from China and Central America, it’s horrible.”
While Thomas visited the McAllen Water District he was at a very narrow stretch of the Rio Grande River easily passable but now facing a wall and some patrol agents on the other side.
He heard from the water district how in the last five years crossings and run ins with cartels trafficking people across the border became non-stop. "Hearing then from illegal immigrants about their journey later in the day through Central America and Mexico was shocking to see what they went through at the hands of smugglers,” said Auditor Thomas.
Thomas points to a muddy and confusing immigration policy with changes and unclear
definitions over the past several years as another reason crossings have been up and people are risking their lives. “This administration hasn’t been clear on refugee policy, on the actual process for court proceedings, and on what immigrants need to claim to stay in America if they are in danger,” explained Auditor Thomas. “So that means you have families who are risking everything coming to America without being able to qualify as refugees. It was said simply, a clear policy is a kind policy.”
Of note which surprised Thomas involved the high number of Chinese Nationals crossing the border even just this year so far at 28,000 or 7%, the number of US Terrorist Watch List apprehensions at 128 this year, and the backlog to have an illegal immigrant in front of an immigration judge between five to seven years.
“It’s just a mess with a broken system of bad rewards and poor policy, it needs a dramatic overhaul,” shared Auditor Thomas. “We can’t build a 2,000 foot wall but the idea of a wall as a deterrent and slow down mechanism along with increased technology where it makes sense, more agents and staff along the border, more immigration judges and process systems, and a clear and consistent immigration policy would help get the job done.”
Thomas sums up what he sees as the path forward symbolically as tall walls and wide gates being the approach. Meaning more legal immigration and work migration with a secure border first.
He plans to work with Americans for Prosperity during this year and the upcoming election cycle to help get the message out about his experience and firsthand insight into the crisis.
(Pictured is Auditor David Thomas in McAllen, Texas at the US Mexican Border wall.)