I challenge President Trump to conduct the same cost-effective study of our borders’ Ports of Entry that Congress did for our domestic military installations. It was called the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Act. The same process should be done for our excessively numerous Ports of Entry.
It is a common tactical, military defensive procedure to create obstacles on their perimeter that channelize the approaches of the attackers. This reduces opportunities for the threat overrunning the perimeter and enables defenders to economically focus their efforts on fewer points of attack and target a more concentrated attacker. It also reduces friendly casualties.
Anyone looking at a U.S. Customs & Border Protection map of the United States will (or should) be stunned to see the number of Ports of Entry where non-U.S. citizens are legally allowed to enter the United States. CBP’s website states they provide security and “facilitation” (a monumental understatement) at 328 ports of entry along the borders of the U.S. That’s just the land Ports of Entry. It doesn’t include the numerous air and sea Ports of Entry. (see: Atlas of the Land Entry Ports on the U.S. – Canada / Mexico Border. Western Washington University files). This is like a knight punching holes in his shield.
Ports of Entry are not Border Patrol stations. The number of BP stations should be increased whereas the number of Ports of Entry should be reduced. A thorough Port of Entry BRAC would easily pay for the wall through reduction in personnel, building, maintenance and contract security costs.
A POE on the eastern Canadian border is manned by one inspector who fishes in the nearby stream and simply waves people and cars through while waiting to catch his dinner. The state of Montana has only three major roadways crossing into Canada – Interstate 15 and state highways 93 and 89. Yet Montana has twelve ports of entry for only seven small border communities (U.S. Customs & Border Protection map revised 05/05). North Dakota has five major roads crossing the Canadian border: state highways 85, 52, 83, 281 and Interstate 29 but has 17 Ports of Entry for 14 small towns like Ambrose -with a declining population of 27, Sarles- population 106 (2014 Census), and Wales – population 31 (2010 Census). Idaho’s border with Canada is only a few miles wide but has two ports of entry- Eastport and Porthill- for only one state highway (95) crossing into Canada. Most of these small communities with POEs are easily within a short drive to the major roadways crossing the border where traffic volume and city size warrant keeping the ports of entry open.
The same analysis applies along our Mexico border. Naco, Arizona is a small, sleepy town with Naco, Sonora, Mexico just across the line. Approximately 15 GS-12 CBP officers keep one rarely used traffic lane open 24 hours a day. One Naco CBP officer said “It’s a great gig- if you can get it!”
Moms used to say “Nothing good happens after ten o’clock at night! Be home before then!” So should the citizens of these small border towns whose traffic count after business hours doesn’t justify the manning of four or five GS-12s ensuring Joe or Jose can stagger to the bar or cantina at their whim. It would keep the “night life” business dollars in the United States and create a significant barrier to criminals. Closed POEs would become just another “X” for one Border Patrol agent to sit on.
Conducting a thorough B.R.A.C. on our Ports of Entry is a critical step in securing the border.