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Zirpoli: Some better security investments

Rep. Roger Marshall, a Republican from Kansas, said in an interview with the Huffington Post last Friday that the wall President Donald Trump wants “is the best $5.7 billion of American taxpayer money that we can use.” Really?

Trump and members of his administration say that 4,000 known or suspected terrorists were apprehended last year attempting to come into the United States. Only six of these attempts, however, were made on the southern border with Mexico. The rest of them were apprehended at airports and other official ports of entry. So, should we then invest $5.7 billion on our southern border with Mexico where only six terrorists were apprehended, or should we invest the money at our airports and other ports of entry where 99 percent of the terrorists have been apprehended?

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President Trump wants to invest the money at the southern border where his own State Department found in 2017 that, “no credible information that any member of a terrorist group has traveled through Mexico to gain access to the United States.”

According to Pew Research Center, Mexico is the source of only 1 out of 4 immigrants coming into the United States. Yet, it seems to consume 100 percent of Trump’s attention. According to the Pew Research Center, the number of Mexicans living in the U.S. illegally has declined by more than 1 million since 2007. The same is true with unauthorized immigration from Mexico; it has been declining since 2007. National Public Radio reported that “The total number of people apprehended for illegally crossing the southern U.S. border has been steadily falling for almost two decades.”

It appears that there is not an emergency on the southern border.

Perhaps we should spend $5.7 billion on a more efficient asylum system so we don’t have to detain thousands of asylum seekers in detention centers for months at a time.

I understand that they need more asylum courts and judges, for example. Speaking of ports of entry, almost everyone agrees that most of the illegal drugs coming into the United States through Mexico are coming in through official ports of entry, not from smugglers coming across the border illegally between checkpoints. The problem is that not all the vehicles coming across the border are checked. Most vehicles drive through with their illegal cargo undetected because there are not enough inspectors or technology to check every vehicle. Perhaps the border guards could use the $5.7 billion to hire more inspectors and to purchase better technology to find hidden drugs in vehicles.

National Public Radio reported an increase in asylum seekers on the southern border, mostly from Central America because of the violence there. Perhaps the $5.7 billion could be used to help decrease the violence in Central America and help solve the problem at its source.

Perhaps the $5.7 billion could be used to decrease drug use and abuse in the United States, cutting the source of income for violent drug cartels in Central America. Americans are, after all, the primary users of the drugs coming across the border.

The government shutdown means that members of the United States Coast Guard are not being paid. The Coast Guard provides security to 95,471 miles of shoreline in the United States. This compares to the 1,989 miles of border with Mexico. Perhaps the Coast Guard would be a better place to invest $5.7 billion to improve our national security at all those ports of entry guarded by the Coast Guard.

Why all this attention on Mexico? Remember, 15 of the 19 terrorists that carried out 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia, not Mexico or any other Central American nation. While Trump is constantly saying negative things about Mexico, he has nothing negative to say about Saudi Arabia. Why is that? In fact, he seems to admire the Saudi Kingdom and the dictators who run it.

Trump may claim that there is a national emergency on the southern border. But if that is a national emergency, how about the 40,000 Americans killed by guns in 2017, the highest rate in more than 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If Trump really wants to keep Americans safe, perhaps the $5.7 billion could be used to make guns safer with fingerprint locks, more effective background checks and other technologies.

Building a wall, with Mexico paying for it, might have been a good campaign slogan, but there are much better investments to keep America safe.

Congressman Marshall needs to do his homework.

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