- A former director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency told Yahoo News that President Donald Trump’s border wall won’t stop the “true threats.”
- She said the wall might be effective in keeping out a young migrant child, but it won’t do much to stop cartels that use submarines to ship drugs into the United States.
- “I don’t know who’s telling the president this is a good idea,” she said.
The former director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said President Donald Trump’s insistence on a border wall makes “so little sense” and fails to focus on the “true threats” facing the US-Mexico border.
Sarah Saldaña, who served as ICE director from 2014 to 2017,told Yahoo News‘ “Through Her Eyes” on Monday that the border wall is an ineffective solution that won’t solve the right problems.
“The true threat is not a mother or child at the border. That is not a true threat. It’s not a mother or a child or a family in the interior already here for one two three, 10, 20 years,” Saldaña said. “It can be effective to some degree. It may be that a small child cannot scale a wall, perhaps. Is that the person we’re trying to keep out?”
Trump has refused to back down on his demand that Congress authorise $US5.7 billion for 230 miles of border barriers. He has spent much of the last month railing against issues like crime, drugs, and record numbers of asylum-seeking families – none of which are problems experts say a wall can salve.
Saldaña noted that a wall won’t do much to protect Americans against cartels, for instance, who sometimes use submarines to haul drugs up the coast.
Customs and Border Protection data also show that the vast majority of drugs seized at the border are caught at legal ports of entry – not in areas that lack barriers. In the first 11 months of the fiscal year 2018, 90% of heroin, 88% of cocaine, 87% of methamphetamine, and 80% of fentanyl that US authorities seized were all found at legal ports of entry.
“That’s not going to be effective against them. And isn’t that the group we’re trying to keep out? Those that truly present a threat to public safety?” she said. “In my view, that’s where the rubber meets the road.”
Saldaña helmed ICE through the latter years of the Obama administration, when the sky-high deportation rates began to decline.
Though former President Barack Obama also faced heavy scrutiny from immigration advocates over its record number of deportations in the early years of his presidency, and his handling of a 2014 influx of unaccompanied migrant children, Saldaña said during her time at ICE, decisions were made based on weighing effectiveness with cost.
The Customs and Border Protection agency has estimated that each mile of border fencing designed to stop people costs $US6.5 million. That’s a high price to pay for a barrier that would span hundreds of miles and wouldn’t affect threats like drug trafficking, Saldaña said.
“I don’t know who’s telling the president this is a good idea,” she said. “The true threats are those persons who come to do harm to our country, and that’s quite frankly a very small number compared to the number of people who seek entry. This is why the wall that is being proposed, enforcement-wise, makes so little sense.”
- Read more of INSIDER’s immigration coverage:
- While the US is fixated on Mexico and the wall, thousands of migrants are fleeing for Canada in a dramatically different scene
- Trump’s ‘common-sense compromise’ on immigration to end the government shutdown isn’t a compromise at all, critics say
- Trump offered Democrats a limited immigration ‘compromise’ to end the shutdown. Democrats say it’s a ‘hostage taking.’
- 376 migrants, including 179 kids, used 7 tunnels to get under the US border fence in Arizona