by John Budris
Massachusetts State Representative Geoff Diehl is the only candidate for the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts who supports the border wall as proposed by President Trump, combined with an actual legislative record of opposing illegal immigration. As a member of the Massachusetts House, Diehl fought to stop driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants and to require valid Social Security numbers for state housing. Geoff has consistently opposed funding for sanctuary cities. He’s supported the Secure Communities Act and opposed in-state tuition for illegal aliens. In that, one might say that Geoff Diehl is the polar opposite to incumbent Senator Elizabeth Warren, who views illegal aliens as votes to court for the future and the beneficiaries of tax resources in the present. Diehl recently returned from a three-day, fact-finding mission to the Texas-Mexico border near El Paso, and he shares his observations with journalist John Budris and The Boston Broadside.
DIEHL: During my time in the Massachusetts Legislature, I fought to keep the immigration system accountable. I’ve also filed legislation to try to fix immigration, so we can actually process the people we need more quickly, on a merit-based system that the president has put forward. If you know English, have a sponsor, and have a job, it should be possible to immigrate to our country more quickly. Immigration is not just an issue of making a secure border; it’s also about fixing the process of getting people who want to come into our country legally on our terms and do it the right way.
BUDRIS: What did you observe when you were up close and personal at the border?
DIEHL: El Paso is a city that has a partial border fence. It’s not quite a wall, but it acts pretty much like a wall, and it’s very effective. Constructed of concrete and steel with two layers of mesh, the wall area also has a full complement of border security agents that work at legal checkpoints and areas that need additional monitoring. The sound barriers we have right here on Massachusetts highways are actually more prominent, so from a visual point of view, an effective wall doesn’t need to be overwhelming in size and material.
I also spent time out of El Paso about an hour away at Fort Hancock, where the wall actually stops, the result of when funding dried up in 2009 when President Obama put a halt to extending the barrier any further. So, there’s literally an end to the fence there. Border security must put additional manpower there because it’s an open area between the Mexican border to the United States with the Rio Grande just a trickle in places. We’re still dealing with those gaps right now, which is why it’s critical to finish the work that was stopped during the Obama administration.
It’s quite a trick for law enforcement to keep this open part of the border secure, and it requires tremendous and expensive manpower. They’re working 24 hours a day with dangerous challenges to face, whether it’s drug traffickers forcing people to mule drugs across the border or taking cash back from the United States into Mexico. Human traffickers – coyotes – bring people to this desert area where they die of thirst or exposure while waiting to try to cross near these weak points. It becomes a dangerous situation for everybody, whether it’s border security agents or the people trying to cross the border. Putting a wall in place will once and for all end that safety issue.
BUDRIS: What kind of feedback did you get from border officials?
DIEHL: Border patrol agents don’t want to talk openly from fear of political ramifications, but I was able to talk to a county commissioner who’s been serving in office for decades, and he’s actually a Democrat. His name is Jim Ed Miller, and he went on the record. I recorded a conversation with him for a while, talking about the hard reality that we have to build a wall. So, it’s not a partisan issue along the border. It’s a common sense one.
The conditions are particularly dangerous and costly for farmers and ranchers near the border. They’ve seen their crops ruined, livestock killed, the land torn up by vehicles, their equipment and trucks stolen. Shootouts by drug runners are commonplace. So for them, it’s both a safety and an economic problem.]
It’s ironic that decades ago when no fences divided the countries, the problems were minimal. The workers would come across the border, work for the day, and go back home to Mexico. Life was much simpler. Americans didn’t fear going into Mexico. Now, most Americans avoid going into the neighboring city of Juarez because the drug cartels control most of the city, and it’s very dangerous for an American citizen to be in Mexico there.
Those, of course, were the days before gangs, drugs, and welfare. In those days, illegal immigrants could not get the kind of benefits available to them today, so the desire to stay here was minimized – not maximized as it is now.
BUDRIS: From what I’ve read, the coyotes, gang members, and human traffickers are often better armed than our border patrol agents.
DIEHL: I saw some of the impounded weapons: Uzis, AK47s and other military-style firearms and explosives. Our border patrol guys are at peril every single day, so for them providing that border wall would provide security and make those checkpoints – those legal checkpoints – the only point of entry, and make it more efficient when looking for drugs or smugglers.
Many times, unaccompanied young children come across the border. The MS-13 gang has identified many of these kids who are now in our high schools right here in Boston. They have affiliated gang members back in Mexico who track down the family members of the kids who are here and force the kids in the United States to join the MS-13 gangs. That’s going on even in Boston. If the kids don’t join, their families are threatened with violence and death. Recently, 61 MS-13 gang members were prosecuted and sentenced for terrorizing these unaccompanied illegal immigrants. Right here at home. It’s just a sad situation all around.
BUDRIS: The annual cost of illegal immigration to Massachusetts taxpayers is estimated around $2 billion, and nationally about $120 billion. I’d suggest it’s even far higher if you consider the ripple effect through the courts and social services.
DIEHL: That’s a great point. Critics claim that the border wall would cost as much as $30 billion. At an annual taxpayer burden nationally already of $120 billion – or more – with the wall, we have an immediate return on investment. And again, we have an existing border fence along a good portion of the southern border. But Democrats – especially Elizabeth Warren, who’s called it a ‘stupid wall’ – have politicized the topic.
This wall will make it clear that legal checkpoints are the only places to enter our country. This will reduce the drug trafficking and the human trafficking. One of the saddest parts of this tragedy is how Mexican families raise many thousands of dollars so drug cartel coyotes can smuggle their kids into our country. By providing a secure border – with a wall – we not only prevent the financial cost to our country and state, but we also reduce the human cost – on both sides of the border.
BUDRIS: What infuriates me about elites like Elizabeth Warren is that they never have to live with the consequences of their decisions. We do, they don’t.
DIEHL: And that’s a great, great point. I would challenge Senator Warren or any other member of Congress who is against building this border wall to go to the border and actually live on some of these properties, ranches, and homes that are miles and miles away from local law enforcement. I saw houses and farms that were 100 miles away from the nearest local law enforcement. These good people have to protect themselves from gangs and drug runners who flood across these open sections. That’s daily life for them.
I saw one area of eight miles of unfenced border. The concrete and steel border stopped, and only barbed wire continued. That’s not going to stop anybody. Americans who live on the United States side are forced to defend themselves. Legislators like Elizabeth Warren who support open borders and who want to get rid of the 2nd Amendment have forced these Americans into a precarious situation. These folks depend upon the right to bear arms.
I spent some time with Shannon McGauley, co-founder and president of the Texas Minutemen. He volunteered his time for more than a decade, organizing citizens along the border to patrol when there wasn’t law enforcement available. They’ll tell you that the right to bear arms is a key element to protect themselves against the smugglers and cartels.
BUDRIS: I’m puzzled how Massachusetts voters even contemplate supporting Mrs. Warren, when doing so goes against their own self-interests. When scarce resources are diverted to illegals in schools, for example, it’s our kids who get shortchanged and our tax bills that skyrocket. That same dynamic cuts across the whole spectrum of social services and employment in Massachusetts, doesn’t it?
DIEHL: Well it does, and not just in schools. There are homeless veterans right here in Massachusetts that would love to get state housing, but illegal immigrants who know how to work the system get access first. I tried to close those loopholes, but that didn’t happen in the Democrat Party controlled Legislature.
Federally, we could do a lot more. Any politician who advocates on behalf of sanctuary cities is breaching the oath of office, which is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. And here in Massachusetts, we also swear that we’ll defend the Constitution of Massachusetts, which is to protect the citizens of our state. And in this case, when you’re harboring criminals in cities for political reasons, you are putting people at risk unnecessarily. These politicians should be either out of office or potentially prosecuted.
It’s important to also distinguish between illegal immigrants and those illegal immigrants who have committed other serious crimes while here. These sanctuary cities become havens for those criminals.
BUDRIS: We’re coming off an eight-year administration where lawlessness was normalized, and lawlessness just breeds more lawlessness.
DIEHL: You can’t pick and choose the laws of the country you decide you don’t want to follow. There’s a state representative currently in office [Rep. Michelle DuBois] who used Facebook to warn people that an ICE raid in Brockton was imminent and to stay away to avoid capture. In fact, there was no ICE raid; she had bad information. But there was no penalty for her to do that, even though she potentially put ICE officials in danger. The strategy of ICE raids depends upon the element of surprise. Had there been an actual raid to take into custody someone subject to deportation, those people could be prepared to have a shootout. I’m surprised there wasn’t anything done, but then again, in Massachusetts, we did have an Attorney General [Maura Healey] who at one point said, ‘It’s not illegal to be illegal in Massachusetts.’
Illegal immigration is but one important issue that defines my campaign against Elizabeth Warren. I’ve always put Massachusetts first, and I believe Elizabeth Warren has some other agenda. I want to make sure that I know everything I should know about how to protect our citizens for the future, which is why I went to the border at El Paso.
To view a full gallery of photographs from Geoff Diehl’s trip to El Paso, log onto: diehlforsenate.com ¨
Boston writer John Budris is the co-host of Kelly Financial’s Senior Safe Money Strategies, heard every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon on WRKO, 680 AM.
Parts of this interview aired on the show on March 27th. John Budris can be reached at 888.800.1881.