For those who think that constructing a border wall between Mexico and the United States will magically fix many of the nation’s woes, think again.

Whether the wall will drastically reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the country is a guess at best. Opponents say those wanting to come to the United States will go over it, under it or around it.

They have some numbers with which to base that opinion.

Authorities discovered 224 border tunnels originating in Mexico from 1990 to March 2016, including 185 that entered the United States, according to the latest U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration annual survey, The Associated Press reported earlier this month. Many are shallow holes, but some are elaborately constructed with hydraulic lifts, water pumps and rail cars.

And then there is the overwater route.

Between 2010 and 2015 the Coast Guard captured more than 500 tons of pure, uncut cocaine with a wholesale value of nearly $15 billion. The Coast Guard reported that it and its interagency partners removed more than 416,600 pounds of cocaine worth over $5.6 billion in fiscal year 2016, which ran from Oct. 1, 2015, to Sept. 30, 2016.

Which is why we found it puzzling that President Donald Trump is proposing increased military spending in his budget, but cutting $1.3 billion — or about 12 percent — of the Coast Guard’s budget.

While the focus is on keeping illegal immigrants out of the country, and yes, some illegal immigrants are bringing crime with them, we think the danger of the criminal element that sneaks drugs across the border is a great danger, also.

Drugs washing up on Galveston beaches are not an uncommon sight.

On Memorial Day in 2015, a 66-pound haul of cocaine worth as much as $3.5 million was found on Galveston’s beaches, capping a 10-day period in May in which another 15 pounds washed up along with 50 pounds of marijuana.

Police, though, said that drugs washing up on beaches on the Gulf of Mexico was fairly common. Police, however, warned they sometimes staked out the drugs, waiting on would-be drug dealers.

While the effectiveness of a border wall can be debatable, cutting the Coast Guard’s budget will cut its effectiveness to combat drug trafficking, as well as saving lives during rescue missions, is not a debate. It’s a sure thing.

• Dave Mathews

(9) comments

Steve Fouga

Yes. This is one of the many elements of President Trump's budget that will be scrutinized and maybe even changed in upcoming deliberations. These things take months. The budget eventually approved will be much different from the president's submittal. Always is.

Hopefully the Administration eventually realizes that if the wall is built, the Coast Guard's budget must be increased, not reduced. This is really elementary stuff. So, this year it may not matter but, eventually, reducing the Coast Guard's budget is nuts. Someone's bound to be paying attention to this kind of thing, right?

Diane Turski

We citizens need to be paying attention to the potential consequences of everything that is proposed in this budget because the people proposing it clearly are not!

George Croix

The US Dept. of Justice National Drug Intelligence Center says that drug movement into the US over land exceeds that by "all other methods combined" (their words) many times over, and provides a chart showing that 64x more drugs came via land vs water.
The Dept. of Homeland Security says the vast majority of illegal entry is via the southern border.
Then there's this in a Reuter's 4/8/14 article about the last Admin.'s Sequestration, a White House idea/threat/proposal that backfired on them, and that is routinely blamed elsewhere:
"To meet the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, the Coast Guard reduced its operating budget by about 30 percent in 2013, the commandant said."

It pays to look to the past to find out whether we are getting the full picture in the present.....

George Croix

Well, it pays if you CARE about the full picture....
It IS a lot more fun to fire blame without aiming......[beam][beam][beam][beam][beam][innocent]

Steve Fouga

George, I'm not sure of your point about sequestration. Are you saying that because we once cut the USCG budget by 30%, that makes it okay to cut by another 12%?

My point is simple. As we protect our land border more effectively, and our sea border less effectively, we invite the use of the ocean for illegal entry. Boosting the rest of the military by $54B and building the Great Wall, while cutting USCG, doesn't pass the giggle test. I'll bet you a Diet Coke this cut will be greatly toned down or reversed in the final budget.

George Croix

My point, as it so often is, is selective matters to me, and if does not to anyone else, that's their business....
Not a peep at 30%, but the new kids want 12% and it's a world ender.....
Go figure.....

I dunno, but I'm pretty sure that the human mules from Central America are not going to be swimming in the Gulf to deliver the dope, or rafting any illegals around that way, either....
My point is also simple/
Got some money.
Got two problem afreas.
One problem area is, according to the folks who track such stuff, 64x bigger than the other.
Allocate funds according to severity of problems seems like a pretty good idea, to me....

Of COURSE the funds amount will be changed.....that's part of DEALING, something that's been missing for, oh...a while....time to get back closer to our representative republic than the drift in the direction of a monarchy....
And in the interim, I'll bet a big York Peppermint Patty that just the threat alone results in ways to trim the 'absolutely un-trimable budgets' of multiple agencies.....

The Diet Coke cancels the calories in the York.....

George Croix


Close enough....

Don Ciaccio

The US war on drugs is a 100% failure. Spend those 100% wasted bucks on build a wall!!!

George Croix

It's not really a war.
If we'd treat it as a war, and shoot to kill the dope peddlers, we'd have better results....imho.....

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