Donald Trump traveled to McAllen, Texas, yesterday for a photo-op near the U.S./Mexico border, and as part of the public-relations display, the president examined photographs of tunnels criminals dug to smuggle guns and drugs across the border.
Time magazine picked up on the obvious point that the White House may have missed: “Neither border patrol agents nor President Trump explained how a border wall would help stop the flow of drugs through tunnels.”
The same presentation featured money seized from a suspected criminal who had overstayed a visa. How would a wall address this? It wouldn’t.
As the New York Times reported, there was a lot of this dynamic to go around.
[Trump] surrounded himself with border agents, victims of horrible crimes, a display of methamphetamine and heroin, an AK-47 and an AR-15 rifle, and a trash bag stuffed with $362,062 in cash that had been confiscated by law enforcement officials.
In his view, it all added up to a single word, “crisis,” with a lone solution, building a wall – a point he emphasized in a discussion with the crime victims, law enforcement officers and McAllen residents. […]
But there was another reality. The display of drugs, weapons and cash was mainly the product of law enforcement actions stopping criminals at international bridges, where most drugs are smuggled, and conventional ports of entry.
A giant border wall, of course, would not close international bridges or conventional ports of entry.
Similarly, Fox News last night aired Trump’s latest interview with Sean Hannity, in which the president complained about the perceived dangers of Central American asylum-seekers. But again, seeking asylum is legal and this is largely unrelated to a possible wall.
He added in the interview that Customs and Border Patrol agents have confiscated “a tremendous amount of drugs” from smugglers. That’s true. But in keeping with the theme, while the problem is legitimate and serious, the vast majority of drugs entering the United States through Mexico come by way of legal ports, with smugglers hiding the contraband in commercial vehicles, shipping containers, tires, etc.
How would a wall stop this? It wouldn’t.
Two years into Trump’s presidency, and three weeks into the government shutdown, Trump keeps identifying border concerns that a wall wouldn’t – and couldn’t – address.