At the US-Mexico Border
Members of the Texas Army National Guard extend razor wire to inhibit migrants from crossing, as seen from Ciudad Juárez. Reuters

An internal audit from the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (OIG) showed that border barriers are the most effective means to curb illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a report by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI).

IRLI said it obtained this internal audit through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The audit focused on determining the most effective measures to address illegal immigration at the border and concluded that physical barriers were not only the most efficient but also the most cost-effective option in every area along the Southwest border examined.

The institute used the conclusion to question the decision made by the Biden administration to halt the construction of the border wall initiated during the Trump government.

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump Pixabay

The report highlights that polls show a majority of U.S. citizens support the construction of physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. A poll by NBC News published in late November saw that 74 percent of all people surveyed agreed with the need to bolster funding for this purpose.

The figures, however, varied depending on the voters' political affiliation. 93 percent of Republicans were in favor, contrasting with 58 percent of Democrats. Independents, meanwhile, clocked in at 74 percent.

The report says that as the Trump administration prepared for extensive wall construction, the DHS conducted audits to identify the most efficient and cost-effective method for preventing illegal migration.

The focus of one such audit, conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), examined alternatives such as law enforcement personnel, technological aids, and physical barriers. It finally recommended physical barriers as the primary solution, but the results were not made public "until obtained through a FOIA request by the Immigration Reform Law Institute."

"A pedestrian fence was the only solution recommended in the vast majority of the areas studied (meaning CBP recommended that no alternative, such as cameras or sensors, be used in conjunction with a fence). Overall, the audit ultimately concluded that, for every section, a pedestrian fence was the most cost-effective solution that met the persistent impedance requirements. The alternatives were rejected either because they were deemed not to be cost-effective or because they would not provide persistent impedance of illegal crossings," reads a passage of the report.

Unlawful migration has dominated the political agenda in Washington, with Democrats and Republicans immersed in negotiations over border measures in exchange for GOP support of a wide-ranging aid package including funding for Ukraine and Israel in their respective wars against Russia and Hamas.

Different reports indicated that the White House could be willing to support a new law to allow U.S. border officials to summarily expel migrants without processing their asylum claims. This would effectively revive the Trump-era Title 42 pandemic order and allow officials to pause U.S. asylum law without a public health justification.

The administration would also back an expansion of a process known as expedited removal, which allows officials to deport migrants without court hearings if they don't ask for asylum or if they fail their initial asylum interviews. The program is currently limited to the border region. It would also detain certain migrants allowed into the country pending the adjudication of their claims.

Even though both parties seemed to be getting closer to an agreement, with Senate negotiators working through the weekend to reach a deal, officials said on Tuesday that there will not be a breakthrough before the end of the year.

Chuck Schumer
U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on Capitol Hill. Reuters

Some Latino lawmakers have voiced their frustration at the Biden administration over its negotiation with Republicans over border measures, both because of their potential extent and the fact that they haven't been more involved in the talks.

"We hear a lot of what concessions are we giving to Republicans, when there is not really any 'gets' on our side," Senator Alex Padilla told Axios. Senator Bob Menéndez also talked to the outlet, saying "that's not a negotiation. That's a hostage taking" and "the question is how far you're going to let them take you hostage."

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