The wave of immigrants and refugees at the border has filled the news, and will most likely influence the next presidential elections. But what’s really happening there? And how should American Christians make sense of this issue? In the second of two episodes on this topic, Curtis is joined by someone with a unique perspective, Michael Debruhl. Michael is a former agent and executive in the Border Patrol who felt disturbed at the widespread misconceptions on the topic. Upon leaving the agency, he started volunteering at the Sacred Heart Shelter, one of the main church based programs receiving migrants at the border.
This excerpt has been edited for length and clarity.
CURTIS CHANG: You did a really eye-opening presentation on the wall and this whole political mythology advanced by the Trump administration. And some of my friends who are thoughtful, intelligent people agree that we need to build more of the border wall. Talk to people about the wall and the reality at the border.
MICHAEL DEBRUHL: Well, Border Patrol did a study on infrastructure in 2000. Along with the army, they asked the nine southwest border chiefs what infrastructure would help most with their jobs if they could have any kind of infrastructure they wanted.
All of them asked for roads. Some asked for drainage projects, levees. And a few of them asked for fences. The fences were purely to drive people away from dangerous areas, to drive people towards where agents could encounter these folks. But there was never any discussion about fencing the southwest border. As a matter of fact, the phrase at that time in all those documents was, “fences where fence makes sense.”
So again, the fences were purely for purposes of effectuating better control in certain areas or driving people away from danger. Some areas on the border are easy to get across, but you have to walk for two weeks to get anywhere. And if it’s hot, a lot of people die. So that was a big concern.
But again, this was in 2000 and most of the fence was built out of the Secure Fence Act, which was passed in 2006 in the George Bush administration. They built most of the fencing. The last administration actually only built 52 miles of fence, which was–
CURTIS CHANG: Wait, stop for a second. The Trump administration only built 52 miles of fence?
MICHAEL DEBRUHL: Of primary fencing, yes. They mostly replaced the old fence and did some secondary fencing, but they only built 52 miles of new fencing. Most of the fence was built during the George Bush administration. And then the Obama administration built 181 miles of fencing.
CURTIS CHANG: So Obama built more of the wall than Trump did?
MICHAEL DEBRUHL: Yes, yes, sure did.
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