WASHINGTON – A group of sheriffs from around the country recently called on Congress to pass at least $5 billion toward building a wall along the 2,000-mile southwest border.
“The No. 1 issue facing all Americans, I don’t care who you ask, is the heroin epidemic that affects us all. And the Mexican drug-trafficking cartels dominate that industry and they’re controlling it coming into and throughout the United States. To every city, every urban area, every rural area in our country, the Mexican drug trafficking controls are seemingly doing it undetected, unmolested and unabated, and it’s time that we step up to the plate,” said Wicomico County Sheriff Michael Lewis during an interview after a recent Capitol Hill press conference about immigration law enforcement with sheriffs from counties across the country.
“It would make my job a lot of easier. I’m tired of dealing with overdoses. I’m tired of dealing with violent crime. I’m tired of dealing with human trafficking in our hotels all up and down U.S. Route 13 in Wicomico County, Md.,” he added. “And they’re there all the time and we’re making arrests all the time, but they keep coming and they keep coming because our borders are wide open.”
Lewis told PJM that any additional funds to expand barriers along the southwest border would help improve security.
“Any implementation of greater security along our border will present challenges to the cartels. Will those challenges include tunneling beneath that wall? Absolutely, that’s what we deal with. But, trust me, we know how we’re going to build that wall. We know what it takes to build that wall,” he said.
“We are going to build a wall. When this happens, it’s anyone’s guess at this point in time. But we need to hold our congressmen and their feet to the fire to help our president get his budget passed – $5 billion is what we are looking for …to get this wall started – that’s only a portion of what it’s going to cost to build this wall. Is it going to stop the flow of illegal immigration? Absolutely not, but it’s going to stop the flood that we currently have coming across our southwest border,” he added.
His message for lawmakers in the House and Senate is “do what you were elected to do” and support more border security measures.
“We will never have homeland security until we have border security, never,” Lewis said. “If you are unwilling to pass legislation, you’re willing to accept that there will be many more Americans lost, thousands more American lives lost – not just to murders, not just to rapists, not just to homicides but to drug trafficking.”
Frederick County (Md.) Sheriff Chuck Jenkins agreed with Lewis on the reasons for building a border wall.
“Congress has got to make this decision to fund this wall, to build this wall. That’s job one, because without that everything we do is pointless. I mean, it’s like spinning your wheels. You keep doing the same thing over and over,” he said.
Democrats such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have argued that the border wall system is “immoral” and not necessary. Jenkins was asked for his response to Democratic opposition to a wall.
“It’s not going to be the ‘be all end all,’ but it will help significantly. It will really cut down on the flow of human trafficking, the flow of drugs, the flow of the criminal gangs, the push of the cartels. It’s going to cut it back by a large percentage,” Jenkins said. “We need stricter border enforcement and to expedite removals from the border. We need to conduct strong interior enforcement, local law enforcement has to partner with this, end the DACA program and more immigration judges.”
Jenkins said the Senate should vote on sanctuary city legislation passed by the House last year, arguing that localities not cooperating with federal immigration authorities should lose some of their federal funding.
“I think there ought to be penalties. I think their federal funding in some respect ought to be taken away from them under certain law enforcement aid programs,” he said. “Somebody needs to be held accountable for the failure to cooperate.”
Jenkins explained how Frederick County handles situations involving crimes committed by individuals not authorized to live in the U.S.
“We screen people to determine their immigration status,” he said. “Everything we do is after an individual is arrested and brought into the jail. We don’t do anything on the street in regard to asking questions about immigration. We don’t. No law enforcement in Maryland does that. What we do in our detention center is we ask you two questions: where were you born, and what county are you a citizen of. Now, do you find that offensive? I don’t. Those are the two questions we queue off of to determine your immigration status.”
Reps. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and Steve King (R-Iowa) joined the press conference and echoed the sheriffs’ call for the passage of more border wall funding.
“These sheriffs know from firsthand experience the loss of life that is occurring, the drug overdoses that are taking so many of our youth, the vehicular homicides that are caused by illegal aliens fleeing the scene of an accident on the one hand, which has cost lives in my district, or who simply don’t know our laws and don’t care to know our laws because, after all, they haven’t done the things that are needed to come into America the right way, the lawful way,” Brooks said.
Brooks argued that stronger immigration enforcement policies would “help protect all Americans, regardless of race, regardless of sex, regardless of ethnicity from dying at the hands of illegal aliens either by a murder or homicides or drug overdoses.”