My visit to Mexico tells the truth about American border security

My visit to Mexico tells the truth about American border security
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Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US MORE says he wants the Statue of Liberty to be the symbol of America rather than a border wall. It is no doubt a catchy message, it is clearly misleading. Let us start with a reality check. Since the 9/11 attacks, walls and barriers have become much more common in the United States. After the tragic losses of that day, our country began to take serious measures to prevent future attacks. In front of the White House, Pennsylvania Avenue was closed to vehicle traffic, while Congress erected 7,000 stanchions to secure its complex from truck bombers, and the security at all federal buildings was enhanced.

Today, you can no longer attend a professional baseball game, go to a concert in a major venue, or fly on a commercial airplane without first passing through a security checkpoint. In most cases you must empty your pockets, walk through a metal detector, or have your body scanned to ultimately prove that you do not pose a threat to the secure area surrounded by walls or barriers. These are the security measures for people who are already inside our country. So why are the security concerns not greater for those people who have yet to enter America?


I decided to see for myself what kind of walls or checkpoints one must navigate to enter the United States by airplane and through a point of entry on the southern border. Earlier this month, I booked a flight to Mexico City from my hometown of Atlanta. Upon arriving, I was required to go through Mexican customs. I first had to walk up to a kiosk where I had to scan my passport, scan my fingerprints, take my picture, and answer questions about my visit. Was I traveling by myself or with a group? When did I plan to leave the country? Then I had to stand in line to speak to a Mexican customs agent to answer some more questions.

Leaving Mexico involved the same process but in reverse. I flew from Mexico City to Los Angeles. When I entered the United States customs area, I had to go to a kiosk to scan my passport, take a photo, and answer questions about why I was entering the country. Then I had to stand in another line to speak to a United States customs agent before being allowed to exit the secured area and enter the country. All this for an American citizen holding a valid passport. I could not help but wonder what additional screening, if any, must take place for foreign visitors?

Next, I rented a car and drove to the border between San Diego and Tijuana to see what the process was like to leave the country and return on foot at a port of entry. I crossed through the San Ysidro port of entry and immediately got in line to get back into the United States. At that point, I had to stand in line to speak to a United States customs agent. I had to again show my passport and answer questions about my purpose for coming to the country and whether I was bringing in anything purchased in Mexico. As I walked through the exit, there was another scanner where suitcases and packages were required to be inspected.

Then I was free to walk into the United States. To my surprise, leaving and entering the country through the San Ysidro port of entry on foot was much easier than it is to fly on a commercial airplane within the United States. There were no body scanners or metal detectors. I was not even required to empty my pockets. However, there were walls that funneled people through checkpoints to ensure a secure and orderly process.

If we want cross border travel security measures to resemble domestic travel security measures, we need a more complete wall at the southern border. We also need to implement the additional federal measures that President TrumpDonald John TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE requested in his proposal for more border agents, law enforcement, and technology to detect narcotics and weapons, which are the same kind of measures we take inside the country to keep us secure.

A wall along with the additional personnel and technology at the southern border would enhance border security at one of the most porous areas of our nation, would help restore the rule of law in our immigration system, and would immediately reduce the drug smuggling and human trafficking that occur at our border with Mexico. Senator Schumer should note that those objectives are very much part of the identity of the United States.

Jenny Beth Martin is chairwoman of the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund.