Here in South and West Texas, border security is not an abstract issue. Every week meeting with folks across 29 counties of the 23rd District of Texas, securing our border and fixing our broken immigration system are frequent topics of conversation.
That’s because the border is our backyard, and what happens on the border impacts the daily lives of families across TX-23 communities.
Spending nearly a decade as an undercover officer in the CIA chasing bad guys, I learned to look at problems from every angle. My mindset is no different when it comes to finding a way to finally gain operational control of our southern border.
I represent more of the U.S.-Mexico border than any other Member of Congress, and I have seen firsthand that each mile of the border faces unique geographical, technological and cultural challenges that must be addressed using every tool at our disposal.
Physical barriers are one of these tools and work well in urban areas. However, in other areas, a combination of cutting edge sensors and surveillance technology is a more efficient use of resources.
These smart technologies would allow our most important border security resources, the men and women of Border Patrol, to identify illegal border crossings and deploy resources where they are needed. We also must respect the private property rights of landowners on the border, which would be threatened by eminent domain while building a physical barrier.
Gaining operational control of all 2,000 miles of our southern border will require a mile-by-mile approach that empowers Border Patrol to accomplish their goals using the best technology available.
Additionally, to secure our border long-term, we must address the root causes of mass migration.
Between 2012 and 2017, Border Patrol apprehensions on our southern border from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras nearly doubled due to rampant crime, violence and poverty. The challenges along our Southern border will only continue unless we actively work with Mexico and our allies in Central America to find shared solutions to combat human trafficking, drug smuggling and illegal immigration.
That’s why I visited the region last year to meet with Central American leaders understand root causes and the situation in these communities. We must identify shared solutions with our regional partners, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to support these solutions in Congress.
My colleagues have a lot of opinions about how we should secure our border, but no one knows more about the border than my bosses – the nearly 800,000 people I represent in TX-23. The border is our backyard.
These are lessons I have learned by proactively listening to the concerns of constituents, local law enforcement, landowners and Border Patrol. Until we get it right, I will continue to fight for and carry this message to my colleagues in Congress.
A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as Vice Chair of the Maritime and Border Security Subcommittee on the Committee for Homeland Security, and as the Chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.