As Donald trump continues to demand federal funding for the border wall, he has leaned heavily on the argument that the wall will be an attempt to battle the countries war on drugs with Mexico.
“The Wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)!” the president tweeted this week “If the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be!”
Experts on drug trade think a border wall, even one as grandiose and non-existent as the one trump promised, would be very ineffective in stopping the cross-border supply of illegal drugs.
The main reason? Drugs that come in to the country from the border go through existing border checkpoints by car or truck. Those checkpoints will still be there regardless if the wall gets built or not.
Drug cartels “transport the bulk of their drugs over the Southwest border through ports of entry (POEs) using passenger vehicles or tractor trailers,” the DEA wrote in its its 2015 national drug threat assessment. “The drugs are typically secreted in hidden compartments when transported in passenger vehicles or comingled with legitimate goods when transported in tractor trailers.”
No matter how high the wall is, those ports of entry will remain, as they are the doors that the drugs have already been seeping through. The image of a drug smuggler running across the border is almost fictional, according to drug policy experts
“Smuggling drugs in cars is far easier than carrying them on the backs of people through a really harsh desert terrain,” stated Vanda Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings institution “The higher the fence will be, the more will go through ports of entry”
The trump administration already knows this, Department of homeland security secretary John F. Kelly recognized the fact that illicit drugs “mostly come through the ports of entry.” At a separate meeting in February, the director of a customs border task force told lawmakers that “the southwest land border POEs are the major points of entry for illegal drugs, where smugglers use a wide variety of tactics and techniques for concealing drugs.”
A smart border drug policy is one that would improve the points of entry rather than the wall between the countries. According to Adam Isaacson, senior associate for defense oversight at the Washington office, the nations ports of entry would require about 5 billion dollars in improvements, not limited to the personnel and the technology used to screen cars and people coming into the country.