While Donald Trump is still determined to get funding for the border wall between Mexico and the United States, politicians are suggesting there might be better uses for the $5 billion budget. According to Business Insider, one Texas Congressman, in particular, is taking a stand against the border wall, insisting that what America really needs is better border security.
Democratic Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar, who lives by the border, is calling for the funds set aside for the border wall to be used instead to promote better border security and border technology. He’s publicly dismissed the idea of a wall, calling it, “a 14th-century solution.”
“All you have to do is buy a $100 ladder and you can take care of billions of dollars,” Cuellar said to Business Insider. “I’ve asked every single Border Patrol Chief [who served under] Bush, Obama, and Trump, ‘how much time does a wall or fence buy you?’ They all have said basically the same thing: ‘a few minutes or a few seconds, depending on who wants to cross.'”
Cuellar thinks that the government needs to invest heavily in practical border security, such as more extensive training and better equipment for those tasked with guarding the border. Unfortunately, Cuellar says the border patrol is woefully underfunded. In some cases, agents have shelled out their own money to replace old or malfunctioning equipment.
"He wasn’t sick on the way; he wasn’t sick here."— ABC News (@ABC) December 27, 2018
Relatives of the 8-year-old boy who died while in the custody of Customs and Border Protection has spoken publicly for the first time since his Christmas Eve death. https://t.co/N8WwEIMhCC pic.twitter.com/jtz32gBbkn
The quality of detention centers has come under heavy fire in recent weeks after two children died while in Border Patrol custody. Now many politicians are calling for change: They want improved conditions in the detention centers, better training for agents who work there, and an alternative to extended detention.
According to CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, the detention centers were built anywhere from 30 to 40 years ago and designed with single adult males in mind. They are not meant for extended detention, either — the facilities are intended to house individuals for just 48 to 72 hours.
While he has insisted that the deaths of the two children are an extremely rare event (according to an interview with CBS This Morning, he claimed it had been over a decade since a child had died in CBP custody), he also agrees with Cuellar that changes need to be made to the American detention system.
“We need a different approach. We need help from Congress. We need to budget for medical care and mental health care for children in our facilities,” he said.
In 2018, the Trump administration hired a private company to recruit more Border Patrol agents to help deal with the growing crisis at the border. They spent $13.6 million on the hiring process; as of this writing, they’ve hired two Border Patrol agents.