Listen to the boots on the ground.
Senior Border Patrol officials are taking up President Trump’s call for more miles of border barrier, pushing back against congressional Democrats who say additional fencing is unnecessary.
During a ride-along with the Border Patrol on Wednesday in its San Diego sector, agents made it clear that the fence deters illegal crossers.
“I started in the San Diego sector in 1992 and it didn’t matter how many agents we lined up,” said Chief Patrol Agent Rodney Scott. “We could not make a measurable impact on the flow [of undocumented immigrants] across the border. It wasn’t until we installed barriers along the border that gave us the upper hand that we started to get control.”
Forty-six of the 60 miles of border in the San Diego sector are currently protected by some type of barrier. Scott says in the places where he has two levels of fencing he achieves 90 percent operational control.
Scott was interviewed in a clearing at the base of the San Ysidro Mountains, a rugged sierra in southern San Diego County. For years, agents have considered the harsh terrain here to be a natural deterrent to illegal crossers. It is mainly Bureau of Land Management land with rocky inclines covered in cactus and juniper.
Even though the traffic here is at relatively low levels, the San Diego sector is now seeking 5 miles of additional fencing across this mountainous ground to stop the illegal movement of humans and drugs.
“Every night people come through this canyon,” said Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Michael Scappechio. “If we put in a border barrier, we can utilize the [agent] manpower elsewhere.”
He added that a steel fence is a smarter border defense than having agents in ATVs or on foot chasing people crossing illegally through remote and rocky ravines, which is dangerous for the pursuer and the pursued.