Next, the Biden administration should also increase the number and pay for border agents, as suggested in August by Senator Portman (R-OH) in his bipartisan Border Patrol Enhancement Act. Finally, the Biden administration should resume building the wall. While Biden promised as a candidate that not another foot of wall would be constructed during his administration, while president, there has been some wall construction in Arizona at the request of Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) who is facing a tough reelection race. As reported by The Economist, Kelly claims credit for “pushing the Biden administration to close barrier gaps” on Arizona’s border with Mexico and boasts of helping secure $1 billion for border security.
There was a similar development during the Ohio Senate debate earlier this month. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) said that a southern border “barrier,” alongside increased funding for border patrol and technology deployments, could help stop fentanyl and illegal migrants from entering the United States.
Republican border state governors are already acting. In June, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R-AZ) signed legislation that dedicates a record $564 million to build a physical border barrier. And Texas Governor Greg Abbott is constructing a 1.7-mile wall segment in Starr County.
Americans are dying in record numbers because of illegal fentanyl trafficking. The Biden administration needs to put decisive and multifaceted action behind its statement that this is a national emergency.
Dan Negrea is the Senior Director of the Atlantic Council’s Freedom and Prosperity Center. He served at the Department of State as the Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs and as a member of the Secretary’s Policy Planning Staff.