In a hearing yesterday before the House Homeland Security Committee, to discuss the reauthorization and budget of the Department of Homeland Security, DHS Secretary John Kelly left nothing to the imagination when he identified the porous southwest border as a national security concern. Discussing everything from human trafficking to drugs to gang activity, Kelly said, "everything that is bad in this regard comes from the southern border."
The secretary made it clear that his attention on the southern border is strictly for the sake of national security, and not a result of a personal views on immigration or humanitarian issues. It is not that all things coming through the southern border are bad, but that all the bad things are coming from there.
"The one concern I do have is the southwest border. My belief is when there is a threat, that threat would get through our wide open southwest border." Kelly went on to say that regarding the source of drugs and human trafficking, "without question it came from our southwest border."
He expressed support for a barrier along major portions of the southern border, adding it is his intention to gain control of the border, not to seal it. The secretary pointed out that there are many places along the border where a physical barrier is not necessary due to natural terrain features or remoteness. He further expressed his deference to Border Patrol agents to best accommodate their needs. Border Patrol agents do not want a 2,000 mile wall, but Kelly stated that some will request "16 miles here or 28 miles of pedestrian fencing there."
Secretary Kelly repeatedly stated that his vision is of more physical barriers, reinforced by technology and personnel. Physical barriers and infrastructure do not prevent crossings from occurring, but serve as a deterrent and as an obstacle to slow violators down, which provides Border Patrol personnel time to respond. Different areas along the border require different levels of barriers, with some requiring vehicle barriers, others needing pedestrian fencing, and others requiring more cameras, sensors, or drones. But the common theme that Kelly drove home is that the southwest border needs more attention, and that physical barriers are necessary along with better technology and personnel.