Todd McKinley is a retired Army Veteran with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He served two Presidential Administrations (Bush #43 and Obama) as a member of the White House Communications Agency. Todd earned a Bachelor of Arts in Homeland Security from American Military University where he was subsequently invited to join The National Criminal Justice Honor Society Alpha Phi Sigma as a lifetime member. He received a Master of Science in Leadership with a Major Concentration in Global Leadership from Duquesne University, a Certificate in Executive Leadership from Cornell University and a Certificate in Leaders of Learning from Harvard University.

A Bit of Background

In my 2018 Congressional Campaign in Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District, I always said: “A nation that fails to protect its borders, is a nation that’s failing to protect its people and a nation who fails to protect its people, isn’t a nation.” It’s not the most original or the snappiest quote, but it’s nevertheless true.

In early August 2019, I toured the U.S./Mexican Border in Cochise County, Arizona and received a Law Enforcement Briefing from Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels (Arizona Sheriff’s Association-Past President, National Sheriff’s Association-Chairman Border Security, Southwest Border Sheriffs-Board of Directors and Member of the DHS Advisory Council), Sheriff’s Deputy Sergeant Williams (SABRE/Ranch Patrol), Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre, several Ranchers and Family members. Following the briefing, I sat down for a round-table discussion over dinner with Brandon Martin (Republican Candidate for Congress in AZ-2), several local Ranchers, Business Leaders and Curt Schilling who’s a board member with “We Build the Wall.” Yes, the same Curt Schilling who’s a 3x World Series Champion, 6x All-Star, 1x NLCS MVP, 1x World Series MVP w/ 3,116 career strikeouts and is 1 of 16 pitchers with 3,000ks in MLB history and the lowest k/bb in modern history. In my humble opinion, Curt’s destined for public office as his love of country and knowledge on a breadth of issues is astounding.


My Takeaway(s)

A Few Reasons to Secure the Border

Below are just a few problems caused by having Open & Porous Borders and reasons we need to Strengthen the Border and Build the Wall.

1.) In Arizona alone, illegals are twice as likely to commit a crime than a U.S. citizen.
2.) More than 10K+ children are trafficking victims annually.
3.) 90% of heroin and fentanyl come across the Southern border.
4.) There’s more than 56K illegals in our Federal prison system and thousands more in our State prisons and local jails.
5.) Illegals cost the American taxpayers an average of $135 billion annually. (BTW, Conservative estimate)
6.) It’s not fair to those who do the right thing and immigrate legally, then get hurt by those who sneak across the border.
7.) Sovereignty matters, a nation without borders is not a nation and a nation that fails to protect its people is a failed nation.

Law Enforcement Briefing and Border Tour

First off, Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels and his Deputies are among the most knowledgeable and respectful law enforcement professionals on the job. I’m heartened to know there are many more just like them across our nation who put their lives on the line daily to protect the American people. Sheriff Dannels began by pointing out his department’s Mission and Vision Statement and reconfirmed his commitment to living up to them.

• Mission Statement: It is the mission of the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office to provide professional, high quality and effective law enforcement and correctional services in partnership with the community. We are committed to the protection of life and property; the preservation of peace, order, and safety; the vigorous enforcement of Local and State Laws; and the defense of the Constitution of the State of Arizona and the Constitution of the United States of America in a fair and impartial manner.

• Vision Statement: Providing citizens of Cochise County with effective and efficient public safety services since 1881, the Sheriff’s Office will continue its legacy to “lead the way.” We will perform our duties with the utmost character, competence, and open communications.

Border security is a comprehensive effort, of which the “Wall” is but one of many parts. In fact, securing our border takes more than just the Border Patrol and its parent organization the Customs and Border Protection (CBP), it takes relationships with local, state, and other federal law enforcement agencies and utilizing a range of technology, new and existing infrastructure, and most importantly law enforcement personnel. The border wall creates an impediment to would-be border crossers, especially those trekking in illegal drugs, guns, and the human traffickers.

However, it’s important to know that building the wall isn’t as simple as chanting “Build the Wall.” Building the wall along our southern border comes with many challenges, from terrain features which include mountains with steep elevation and sharp drop-offs, rolling hills, rivers, large creeks, and other water features, lands owned by state and local governments and most importantly the amount of private property. So, if you’re a one-issue voter or if border security is one of your top issues and you’re asking “why hasn’t the wall been built yet” these are some factors to consider, on top of the fact the southern border is nearly 2,000 miles long. Also, Congress hasn’t had the spine for decades to step up and get it done, and the Democrats have obstructed this effort at every turn, especially since President Trump took office. Sadly, according to the CBP, there’s only “354 miles of pedestrian barriers and 300 miles of vehicle barriers along the Southwest border, for a total of 654 miles.”

In addition to building the wall, there are hundreds of miles of what are known as “legacy border fence” that needs to be replaced or updated on top of building “associated infrastructure” which includes “roads, bridges, and lighting,” etc. Of course, infrastructure and the wall need to be backed up with technology, to include drones, cameras, motion detectors, infrared sensors, and many others. Securing our southern border is going to take time, money and a willingness to protect our nation’s sovereignty.


Broken Promises

In recent months, President Trump threatened to close the border with Mexico, this of course was hatefully lambasted by the Left and even some on the Right. President Trump said in a Tweet the week of March 29th “If Mexico doesn’t immediately stop ALL illegal immigrants coming into the United States through our Southern Border, I will be CLOSING the Border, or large sections of the Border, next week.” Many of the talking heads in the media said that “Trump’s threats to close the border is a sign of weakness.” In reality; it’s borne out of frustration and necessity due to decades of Congressional inaction.

Speaking of inaction, Congress has been inactive on this issue and countless others for decades. For example, in 1986, Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which did a good thing, it prohibited the employment of illegal aliens. However, it turned on a magnet that to this day hasn’t been turned off by giving amnesty to tens of millions of “long-term illegal aliens” but the enforcement that was supposed to go along with this legislation lasted a few months and dropped off as quickly as it began. This told illegals that if they can get into the United States, there would be another amnesty and if you look at the current Congress and every 2020 Democrat running for President, they’re all touting amnesty, this includes some legislation being proposed by some Republicans.

Fast forward to 1996, the year I graduated high school when Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. This act was passed and signed into law in the aftermath of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and mandated the development of an “automated check-in/check-out system for foreign visitors” for the government to find those who’ve overstayed their visas. This type of system has been mandated by Congress on many other occasions, mostly after a major catastrophe such as 9/11 and the introduction of the USA Patriot Act which required biometric systems and would collect fingerprints and a quality photo for photo recognition purposes, etc. Sadly, none of these systems have ever come to fruition.

Nine years later, Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 which required proof of legal residence or citizenship in the United States before a person could receive a driver’s license. It also mandated that State driver’s license meet Federal standards and was supposed to be implemented by 2008 and has been postponed three times, 2011, 2013 and 2017. The next failure came in 2006 with the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which required “at least 2 layers of reinforced fencing” only spanning 650 miles of specific parts of the Mexican border. When President Trump took office on January 20th, 2017, only 40 miles had complied with this requirement.

Since President Trump took office, we’re seeing immigration laws that have been on the books for decades finally being enforced. Oddly, President Trump is also getting the blame for the conditions of immigration detention centers where families and children are being held. Mind you, these centers were built to house single men, which at the time they were constructed, single men were the main perpetrators of illegal immigration. It’s refreshing to see the Executive Branch under the Presidency of Donald Trump finally enforcing the laws, but thanks to Congress and leftist court rulings our asylum process is broken and continues to be a magnet for illegal immigration.

Let’s face it, Congress is derelict in their duty, they will not act to fix this problem or any problem, if they did, they wouldn’t have talking points when it comes time to run for re-election.

Broken Borders

The United States southern border is about as secure as a house with no doors, windows or tenants, which creates countless problems with no real solution in sight. Our broken border stems directly from our broken Congress and the “swamp dwellers” that excel at partisan bickering and avoiding solving real problems. In fact, Congress often exacerbates problems, just look at the national debt which has been created by out of control spending. This spending includes our broken healthcare system and the problems caused by “Obamacare” and the failure to “Repeal and Replace” it as well as the billions spent annually on insolvent “entitlement” programs, programs that illegals take full advantage of which only acts as a magnet for more illegals. Yet, Congress’ answer is to offer amnesty with no border security and no thought on how to deal with the millions more who’ll spill into our country over the coming decades.

Make no mistake, illegal immigration isn’t the only failure of Congress, but one of the many they’ve failed to address and one they’ll campaign to fix in 2020. Instead of focusing on fundraising and campaigning for the next election and engaging solely on partisan bickering, Congress should work on solving problems. America’s unsecured borders create many problems, problems made worse by the Left’s promise of amnesty, the fact that illegal immigrants can find work relatively easy and the lucrative flow of drugs, guns and human trafficking victims. However, these problems have solutions, attainable solutions in fact, but it takes an American electorate that’s engaged and not continuously re-electing those who’ve failed them over and over all because they personally think their elected representative is a nice person. Nice on a personal level is one thing, getting things done in Washington is quite another.

Broken Families

Border security and immigration reform are more than just another issue, it’s an imperative that must be addressed now. The beauty of becoming an American is that, once you are an American citizen it does not matter where you came from. The facts are clear, and the feelings are strong, and I raise these questions in response to those on the Left. What do you tell the parents of the children kidnaped and sold as sex slaves? What do you tell the mom of a kid who is no longer living because of the drugs crossing our southern border? How do you console the families of those who have had violent acts committed against them? The answer for far too long has been nothing. Politicians have played the election cycle game to the point that they refuse to see their own faults that are killing our nation and its sovereignty. When President Trump was elected in 2016, he shed a light on both the lack of security on our border and the swamp that is dismantling the American dream. The partisan politics must stop, and we must address the problems caused by the crisis on the southern border. This isn’t a racist issue as the Left peddles, this is an American issue, lives and livelihoods are at stake.

Trump Administration Policies

White House on Immigration

The United States must adopt an immigration system that serves the national interest. To restore the rule of law and secure our border, President Trump is committed to constructing a border wall and ensuring the swift removal of unlawful entrants. To protect American workers, the President supports ending chain migration, eliminating the Visa Lottery, and moving the country to a merit-based entry system. These reforms will advance the safety and prosperity of all Americans while helping new citizens assimilate and flourish.”

Turning Off the Public Benefit Magnet

• The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the Trump Administration is releasing a final rule that will ensure non-citizens do not abuse our nation’s public benefits.
• The rule will go into effect on October 15th, 2019.
• This rule ensures that if migrants enter or remain in the U.S., they must support themselves and not rely on public benefits. This will save hardworking taxpayers billions of dollars.
• A migrant who receives public benefits above a certain threshold is known as a “public charge.”
• If a migrant is found likely to become public charges, they will not be allowed in the U.S.
• Migrants found likely to become public charges will also be barred from adjusting their immigration status.
• The rule will offer guidance on how to determine whether an individual is a “public charge.”

There are several exemptions:

• The rule has no impact on humanitarian programs.
• It exempts trafficking and domestic violence victims.
• The rule does not consider many areas of government assistance, such as those that protect children and pregnant women’s health.
• This is a longstanding law that follows precedent. In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed two bipartisan bills to help stop aliens from exploiting public benefits.
• Public charge laws have been part of U.S. immigration law for more than 100 years as a ground of inadmissibility.
• Migrants coming to our country should be self-sufficient.
• 73% of Americans are in favor of requiring immigrants to be able to support themselves financially.
• We must ensure our social public benefits programs are not abused by non-citizens and our social safety nets are not jeopardized.
• 78% of households headed by a non-citizen with no more than a high school education use at least one welfare program.
• 58% of all households headed by a non-citizen use at least one welfare program.
• While 202 Democrats continue to push a radical immigration policy that includes open borders and healthcare for illegal immigrants, President Trump is keeping his promise of enforcing longstanding immigration law and will save taxpayers billions.

Bullet Points from the TNGOP

Deportation and Internal Enforcement

In addition to border security, we need to support the efforts of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as they enforce immigration laws internally. In 2017, ICE deported 295,000 illegal immigrants, the lowest numbers since 2006, nevertheless, it’s a start. Since then, President Trump has signed an executive order which called for the immediate construction of the wall, the hiring of 5,000 border patrol agents and 10,000 new immigration officers, as well as calling for federal funding penalties for sanctuary cities.

My Conclusion

The President’s committed to solving the problems that stem from having open borders, sanctuary States and Cities, as well as all the related problems which includes human trafficking, illegal drugs, guns, gangs and the issues caused by having cheap undocumented labor. Congress and the Administration must implement practical solutions to America’s broken immigration system and porous borders. Rather than taking a do-nothing approach, lawmakers should seek a common-sense approach. Without serious changes, the illegal population will only grow and the burden to the American taxpayer will increase. On the other hand, with a few pieces of legislation, a willing Congress working with the Trump Administration can enact responsible immigration reform and finally achieve comprehensive immigration reform.

Bottom line, immediately Build a Wall where we can and use Technology everywhere else, with the goal to have an entire wall across the southern border. We need to end the Sanctuary States and Cities and punish lawmakers who disregard this and hold them criminally liable for the crime’s illegals commit inside their borders. Additionally, we need to end the VISA Lottery, Chain Migration, stop rewarding those who’ve broken our laws and end Birthright Citizenship. Bottom line, we should only allow for legal immigration where we the American people decide whom to let in.

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