SMILEY: The Gaza War Is A Clarion Call For US Border Security

Photo of Yuma, Arizona, border wall construction courtesy of Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines

Tiffany Smiley Contributor
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It is indisputable that the situation at the U.S. southern border is a humanitarian crisis. Illegal encounters are at record highs, and because this administration has been so absent on immigration enforcement there appears to be no end in sight.

Last August, I traveled to McAllen, Texas, where I had the opportunity to speak with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents as well as the Brooks County sheriff about their experiences on patrol. Their stories of drug interdiction, sexual assault, murder and human trafficking were chilling. A boat trip up the Rio Grande was also eye-opening, as our driver pointed out dinghies on the riverbank used to smuggle drugs into the U.S., cartel watch towers lining the shore with unobstructed views into our country and stash houses for drugs and illegal migrants.

The humanitarian crisis is dire, but so is the threat to national security posed by our open borders. 

The atrocities committed against the nation of Israel on Oct. 7 are a stark reminder of the importance of a secure border. In the wake of the Hamas terrorist attack and Israel’s subsequent evacuation order ahead of a ground invasion, there has been much discussion about where Palestinian refugees can go, with Jordan and Egypt being put forward as possible options. Jordan’s King Abdullah II announced in no uncertain terms that neither Jordan nor Egypt would take in refugees. Regardless of whether you agree with that decision, it is one those countries can make because their borders are enforced and they control who is allowed to enter their country.

Why wouldn’t Jordan and Egypt want to take in Palestinian refugees? Both countries have voiced the fear that taking in refugees could allow Hamas and other militants to gain footholds in their countries, potentially destabilizing the region further and threatening the existing peace agreements between those two countries and Israel.

Concern that terrorists could enter one’s country is not an irrational fear. One would have to be completely naïve to believe that terrorists haven’t already entered this country through our porous borders. The most recent numbers released by CBP show that, in September alone, agents arrested 18 people on the FBI’s terror watch list, bringing the total for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 to more than 172 known terrorists apprehended while attempting to illegally enter the United States from both Mexico and Canada. This is the highest figure ever recorded, with totals exceeding the past six years combined.

Those numbers, as high as they are, do not include “known gotaways” — individuals identified by Border Patrol who managed to evade capture and disappear into the United States. In late October, CBP reported around 1,000 “known gotaways” per day. The threat posed by these unknown individuals is genuine and serves as a clarion call for increased border security.

With a problem this large, knowing which issue to tackle first can be paralyzing. But not doing anything is equally detrimental. The U.S. must end the harmful cycle of catch and release. The practice of releasing unvetted illegal immigrants with unknown intentions into the interior of the country not only encourages more migrants to make the dangerous trip north, but also increases the risk of another terrorist attack from within.

The United States must fund and complete the construction of a border wall. Physical barriers are an effective tool for controlling who can enter this country, a fact recently acknowledged by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas when he waived 26 federal laws to pave the way for construction of 20 more miles of border barriers

Finally, it must be a priority for both parties to ensure that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and CBP have the funding and staffing they need to address the unprecedented numbers of migrants at the borders. It is malfeasance to demand they perform a job while at the same time hamstringing their ability to execute their duties.

If we have learned anything over the past few weeks, it is that the lack of immigration enforcement in this country poses a clear and present threat to our homeland. The time to act is now.

Tiffany Smiley, a Washington native, is a national veterans advocate and was a 2022 candidate for the United States Senate. In February of 2023 she launched Endeavor PAC which will support candidates with a clear agenda and a firm commitment to conservative principles.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.