Imagine if you will: Your name is Taylor and you work for the Border Patrol, stationed in the Rio Grande Valley sector. Right now, you are alone, in the desert, on the border between the United States and neighboring Mexico. Your job is to stop people, all people, from illegally crossing the border. In your sector, there are many well-known places, called Ports of Entry, where people can legally travel from Mexico to the United States. Your job is to stop people who are purposely avoiding a legal Port of Entry in favor of sneaking into your country illegally.

Unfortunately, you and your teammates are failing big time. And, it is demoralizing. Last year alone, a half-million people illegally crossed the border in your sector. And it is really no wonder, because, unlike other sectors, there are virtually no walls or border fencing in the Rio Grande Valley. "Why is that?" you ask yourself for probably the millionth time.

Suddenly, you spot several dozen people approaching the border. You have seen this sort of activity before and you know they are intent on illegally crossing into America. As usual, you are badly outnumbered and call for back-up. The “cavalry” will arrive in 10 minutes. But in 10 minutes, these illegal immigrants will be standing on U.S. soil.

What do you do? Yell at them to stop? You have tried that before. Some may stop but others will run for it. Open fire? No, not unless these interlopers start shooting at you first. Or, keep an eye on the group until you and your reinforcements can arrest them for “trespassing.” With a sigh, you keep watching and waiting for help. It will be another long day of capturing, processing and moving these people to overcrowded holding areas.

Currently, scenarios just like this play out many times every day on our southern border. Last month alone, Taylor and peers arrested more than 100,000 people after they illegally crossed the border. At this rate, in 2019, 10 times as many people will enter the United States illegally as legally!

This is wrong on many levels: For the immigrants who make the trek to our border, it is a dangerous trip. Many people die and many more are abused by “coyotes.” For those who do survive the journey, accommodations in the holding areas are spartan and overcrowded. For U.S. taxpayers, the costs are enormous. The Trump administration puts the cost of illegal immigration at more than $200 billion a year.

In 2013, Robert Rector, in his seminal report, "The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer," pegged the cost of undocumented immigrants — the cost of services received minus their tax contributions — at about $54 billion a year. And that was six years ago. It is certainly far higher today. For those honest immigrant wannabees who play by the rules and wait years to enter our country, it is maddeningly frustrating and makes a mockery of legal immigration. Taylor is right — we need a wall!

We know walls work. This was demonstrated in the 1990s when the first sections of border fencing were built in El Paso and San Diego. In the weeks that followed, crossings in those sectors dropped to almost zero. While Taylor and the team still needed to be on duty, the difference was that the wall provided ample time for the cavalry to arrive before anyone crossed the border.

In military terms, walls are known as force multipliers. One guy behind a wall is worth several men without such protection.

Ironically, it was in 1836, during another crisis on the southern border, that the Mexican army learned just how well walls work. Around 200 men, led by the likes of James Bowie, William Travis, Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, ensconced behind the walls of the Alamo, held off Santa Anna and his massive army for weeks. Yes, the Alamo eventually fell to the vastly superior forces, but the long siege bought precious time for the Texans to raise their own army. And, less than two months after the Alamo fell, Mexico surrendered. Texas was officially free.

Right now, about one-third of the U.S./Mexico border is secured by walls or fencing. In those sectors, illegal immigrants are slowed or stopped by the barriers and the Border Patrol has the time it needs to respond to any potential incursion with an appropriate force.

Walls work.

Remember the Alamo — we need a wall! Or at least a big, beautiful, fence!

Randall Poulton lives in Winterport.