Abby Keene, Staff Writer

The United States Department of Homeland Security says there are a total of 12 million undocumented immigrants in America. Fifty five percent of those undocumented immigrants entered from the southern border.

The lack of security on the southern border of the United States is an emergency for multiple reasons including illegal crossings for the sole purpose of living in the U.S. and dangerous drug trafficking.

The 1,933 mile long southern border stretches from the Pacific Ocean in California to the tip of southern Texas with entry points in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. These entry points are all places to legally earn asylum and enter the United States on a visa or green card.

As President Trump explained in his recent 2019 State of the Union address, immigrants enrich our nation and strengthen our society in countless ways, but coming here is a privilege, not a right, and it must be done fairly and legally. Those escaping dangerous conditions in areas such as communist Venezuela or gang violence in Honduras looking for a better life and opportunity are more than welcome into the United States. However, asylum seekers are only welcomed if they follow the law and enter at one of the entry points.

Why would someone need to come here illegally? According to Texas Monthly, the reason comes down to numbers. The government offers many kinds of visas, but there are only few of each.

H-B2 visas are offered for temporary non-agricultural workers, and are a very sought after visa. The U.S. State Department says they offer only 66,000 of these popular visas, limiting the amount of workers filling jobs so Americans are not economically affected. If people enter the country without visas, it throws numbers off and causes Americans to lose job opportunities.

The border wall needs to be accepted and funded by Congress to ensure the safety and economic wellbeing of the American people, and it should not be a partisan issue. The need for the wall is based on facts, not feelings.

To clear up a common misconception,  “the wall” is not intended to be an 1,933 mile long barrier stretching the length of our southern border. According to Congressman Dan Crenshaw of Texas’ 2nd district, the “wall” will be barriers of fencing and steel, new technology and the addition of border patrol agents in areas that are not covered by natural barriers such as rivers, mountains and tough terrain.

With the global power and opportunity the U.S. has, people are enthusiastic about immigrating here. With that comes many  people trying to come into the country every day, and there may not be enough visas to go around. I think the limited number of visas is smart, and makes sure there are enough jobs for the immigrants who are entering in hopes of a better life. In extreme circumstances, I believe there should be an expedited immigration process for those escaping dangerous circumstances and seeking asylum in the United States. Otherwise, I believe the immigration process is fair. The wall, increased technology and border agents is vital to securing the United States.  Everyone is welcome, but everyone must wait their turn. It’s as simple as that.

Illegal drug trafficking on the southern border is an enormous issue. The Department of Homeland Security seized 135,943 pounds of cocaine, 2,015 pounds of heroin and 6,135 pounds of meth on the southern border this year alone. The problem may or may not be lack of border control, and it’s possible it won’t be solved with more protection, but we won’t know until we try.

The Washington Times says the top five districts where drug trafficking was most prevalent in 2016 were the Western District of Texas, Southern District of Texas, District of Arizona, Southern District of California and the District of New Mexico. These areas are all along our southern border.

Border patrol agents are looking for new solutions as well as the barriers and improved technology. For example, the adjustment of outdated policies such as the “Catch and Release.” The policy, according to the White House website, is a loophole that requires border patrol agents to release arrested illegal immigrants after a few days to the Health and Human Services program, which in passing gives them an easy way to escape into the United States. This issue can be solved by improved border control, which would also prevent the immigrants from being arrested in the first place, and save our 18,600 hard working border patrol agents’ time.

The walls and new technology have strong potential for success. In the USA Today article “Border Walls Work” written in 2017, it says  the walls built in Tucson and Yuma, Arizona caused a 90 percent drop in illegal immigration over nine years. The border barriers will be a helpful addition to the security we have in place to ensure the safety of the American citizens as well as the safety of the immigration process.