The BorderLine is a weekly Daily Signal feature examining everything from the unprecedented illegal immigration crisis at the border to immigration’s impact on cities and states throughout the land. We will also shed light on other critical border-related issues like human trafficking, drug smuggling, terrorism, and more.


Columbus Day weekend 2023 will forever be seared in our minds for the horrific terrorist incursion into Israel from the neighboring Hamas-controlled Gaza strip. The videos circulating from the Hamas attacks are staggering: Mass murder and rape; deliberate targeting of women, children, and the elderly; kidnappings to gather human shields and to use to barter with Israel.

A video that stood out for me, given the time I spend at my job watching thousands of people breaching the U.S. border every day, was of Hamas men using bulldozers to take down Israeli fencing. Though the wall was fairly light and gave way to the bulldozer eventually, it took time for the attackers to create a gap through which dozens of terrorists poured.

After the attacks, some student demonstrators at New York’s Columbia University chanted, “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go.” Opposition to walls, borders, and incarceration for any reason is a uniting theme on the Left (unless they are in charge). Had Israel’s Gaza wall not been there at all, how many more terrorists would have made it through? How many more innocent civilians would have been killed?

In fiscal year 2023, which ended Sept. 30, over 160 individuals were apprehended at America’s southern border who were on the U.S. terrorist watch list. A further 70,000+ “special interest aliens” from countries known to harbor terrorist groups—like Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and Mauritania—were encountered over the past two years, many being released into the U.S. with no real knowledge of their true identities or histories.

Even more concerning, since Joe Biden became president, at least 1.7 million other illegal aliens are estimated to have snuck over the border without being identified or detained at all—over 600,000 a year.

At least one Hamas leader came out this week calling for the killing of Jews worldwide. We have no shortage of enemies, and it is a safe bet that our virtually open borders have allowed a number of anti-American terrorists into the country. Whether and when they turn their hatred into action is anyone’s guess, and everyone’s risk.

As if one were needed, this is yet another reason why our leaders need to take America’s border security more seriously, right now.

The U.S. border wall was in the news last week, when the Biden administration reluctantly said it would finish about 17 miles of it in Texas. This was not a change of heart on walls, much less the administration’s open borders policy—it was to avoid being held liable for not spending money Congress had appropriated for the purpose in 2019.

Although Biden for most of his career supported enforcement of immigration law and even voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, the Biden 2.0 we’re stuck with not only hates walls, detention, and immigration enforcement, he pretends to believe they aren’t effective deterrents. Last week, Biden was asked whether border walls work and replied tersely, ”No.”

In fact, walls do work. That’s why great leaders built them. The Roman Emperor Hadrian, various Chinese emperors, and nearly every town and nobleman from India to Europe didn’t build walls for aesthetics. They knew that a wall, if adequately manned and part of a layered defense strategy, was effective at keeping out those they had not invited in. Their lives depended on it.

Border Patrol knows this. An agent interviewed by Center for Immigration Studies fellow Todd Bensman in his book “Overrun” said that all of their data confirms that border walls have a 90% effective rate in cutting illegal border crossings.

Biden, his secretary of homeland security, and his staff know this, too. Biden had work stopped on the wall immediately upon taking office—not just out of hatred of everything President Donald Trump had done, but also because he knew that a competent evaluation would show that his predecessor’s border policies were effective.

Customs and Border Protection had announced way back in June that it would restart work on a small area of wall in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, but its qualifying language was so obtuse that barely anyone noticed. CBP called it a “barrier” that was only there to “mitigate immediate life, safety, and operational risks.” Because, God forbid, the wall should keep even a single inadmissible, uninvited person out of the United States.

Unlike drinking vessels, border walls are not designed for perfection. A wine glass is designed to hold wine. If even a small amount leaks, that’s total failure. Same with natural gas supply pipes—the downside of even a small leak could be catastrophic and renders the vessel not fit for its purpose. Border walls, on the other hand, are not about 100% integrity but about creating effective deterrence. They are designed to make it much harder for people to cross into your territory without authorization. They can’t make it impossible.

Open borders activists like to say ”show me a 10-foot wall, and I’ll show you an 11-foot ladder.”  Have you ever cleaned out your gutters at the top of even a 12-foot ladder? It’s not something everyone can do, let alone the average border-jumper. By going high, walls raise the physical bar for who can try to go over them. By going deep into the ground, they make it harder to tunnel under them. And by being strong, they make it harder to flatten, breach, or cut your way in.

Walls are about percentages, not totals. A border wall that keeps 95% of aspiring illegal crossers from trying to scale them and channels them to official ports of entry or areas of border vulnerability due to landscape allows Border Patrol to concentrate on these key spots instead of patrolling the entire border.

Instead, by allowing 300,000 people a month to simply walk through gaps in the wall, Biden requires the Department of Homeland Security to put as many staff as possible into roles of processing and preparing illegals for release into the interior of the United States, instead of deterring, detaining, and deporting them, as is their legal duty.

“At times, marriages, like nations and churches, survive by policing their borders,” wrote English novelist and poet George Eliot. It’s too late for Biden, but a less blinkered future American president will realize this.

Finishing an integrated border system of walls, surveillance, and human agents is a vital piece of the strategy needed to end today’s bum rush chaos at the border. The other main components are (1) re-starting the Migrant Protection Protocols so that supposed asylum applicants (the vast majority of whom are ineligible for asylum) must await case processing outside the U.S. rather than in the U.S., (2) legislating to raise the bar for legitimate asylum claims, and (3) ramping up credible deportation proceedings and repatriation flights to half a million people a year instead of the 30,000 Biden budgeted for.

All three policies are necessary if we are to remain a nation of laws, if we are to have an orderly immigration system, and if we are intent on keeping Americans safe from those who would do them harm.

Editor’s Note: The time periods for the numbers of illegal border crossers listed on the terrorist watch list, listed as “special interest aliens,” and those who crossed without being identified or detained have been updated.

Read Other BorderLine Columns:

The Border Crisis by the Numbers

Boggled by Biden’s Border Crisis? Relax, AOC Is in Charge

We Look Inside Biden’s Bogus Illegal Immigrant ‘Visa’ Program

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