DHS Internal Memo: Physical Barrier the Most Cost-Effective Method for Preventing Illegal Immigration

A recently publicized internal memo from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) asserts that physical barriers on borders are the most cost-effective measure to deter and slow illegal cross-border activities. The memo, dated 2017, was obtained by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The memo is a result of an audit regarding the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) security along the southern border for then acting CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. It details the “Analyze/Select” phase of the acquisition of barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. IRLI initially requested the internal document and information relating to the DHS’s internal review of its wall building capacity in July 2020, but only received a single document, the memo, in March 2023, nearly three years after the request was submitted.

According to the memo, physical barriers along borders are the most effective measure in deterring and slowing illegal cross-border activities, which is contrary to the stance of the Biden administration that has halted the construction of border barriers and actively pursued their removal. The memo emphasized the significance of border barriers in securing the border and emphasized the necessity of continued investment in such infrastructure.

In a statement, IRLI President Dale L. Wilcox pointed out that the DHS’s own internal review has confirmed the effectiveness of physical barriers in deterring illegal activity along the border. He criticized the Biden administration’s policies of halting construction and removing existing barriers, arguing that they are detrimental to border security.

The memo’s release comes at a time when the Biden administration is under fire for its handling of border security and immigration. The administration has faced criticism for reversing several of the Trump administration’s policies, including the construction of border barriers and the implementation of stricter immigration enforcement measures.

Republicans and immigration hawks have seized on the memo as evidence that border barriers are necessary for border security. They have used the memo to argue against the Biden administration’s policies and to push for increased investment in border infrastructure.

The release of the memo has sparked renewed debate over the effectiveness of border barriers in securing the border and deterring illegal activity. It has also reignited the political controversy surrounding the Biden administration’s immigration and border security policies, setting the stage for a heated debate in the coming months.


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