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