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OPINION: Securing the border

by MEMBERS OF THE MAIN STREET CAUCUS
| February 16, 2024 1:00 AM

Naysayers calling Idaho’s efforts to support Texas in securing the border “pointless” are willfully missing the point.

We’re elected legislators from all corners of Idaho who wholeheartedly support Gov. Brad Little’s repeated deployment of Idaho State Police troopers to the border. We aren’t just vocal supporters. Our “yes” votes to back the State Police’s budget make this all possible. 

Why Idaho?

Because when our law enforcement here at home trains with the Texas Department of Public Safety on the frontlines of illegal activity, they’re receiving the best training available to learn the cutting-edge tactics used by the drug cartels to smuggle people, drugs, and weapons into the United States. 

When they return, troopers take what they learned and share it with local law enforcement officers across Idaho.

Pointless? On the contrary. ISP will tell you no better training opportunity exists to combat emerging criminal techniques effectively.

Following the last two missions to the border, our state troopers shared that their training at the border was “eye-opening.” They tested equipment they’d never used before, especially at night when criminals were on the move. They learned how drug cartels are continually changing their tactics, coming up with new ways to conceal what they’re smuggling. These illegal drugs make their way to Idaho, as demonstrated by a record number of drug busts by ISP in 2023.

As one trooper put it, “Criminals change their tactics, and without the right training, we’re behind the eight ball.”

The best way to learn is by doing. The border missions give our troopers valuable hands-on experience in real-world scenarios. They work alongside the most seasoned professionals to get the full picture of the techniques and procedures used by criminals. Then, they return home as instructors and mentors to share what they learned and apply that knowledge in our operations here at home.

In fact, can you guess who leads, in large part, Idaho’s highway interdiction efforts that result in the confiscation of thousands of pounds of drugs annually? Yep, those troopers we sent to the border. Simply put, by learning and adapting to the cartels’ strategies, we can strengthen our law enforcement capabilities, stay ahead of evolving threats, and better protect the well-being of people in Idaho.

Of course, our troopers are also there to multiply Texas’ efforts to secure the border and help them apprehend criminals pouring across the open border. Another trooper said, “I mean, they need our help. They're getting flooded with illegal immigrants, illegal narcotics, and weapons.”

Since President Biden took office, more than seven million illegal immigrants have been apprehended at the border. A staggering 1.7 million known “gotaways” evaded apprehension at the border in the past three years. At that same time, more than two million pounds of drugs were seized, including 30,000 pounds of deadly fentanyl. In 2023, the DEA seized enough fentanyl-laced pills to kill 389 million people. Immigration courts are severely backlogged, and cartels are making billions and billions of dollars from human smuggling, with projections that the number will grow.

These are facts, folks. How can anyone say, with a straight face, that the desire to secure the border is politically motivated?

But we think change is on the horizon. As more states unite with Texas, we’re starting to see Democrat governors and even President Biden himself acknowledge more needs to be done to address the crisis at the border. We are proud to be part of the growing movement of Americans demanding action at the border, and Gov. Little and our ISP troopers have our full support.

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Reps. Rick Cheatum (District 28), Chenele Dixon (District 24), Rod Furniss (District 31), Greg Lanting (District 25), Stephanie Mickelsen (District 32), Jack Nelsen (District 26), Britt Raybould (District 34), Mark Sauter (District 1), Josh Wheeler (District 35), Kenny Wroten (District 13), Julie Yamamoto (District 11), Sens. Mark Harris (District 35), Julie Van Orden (District 30) and Linda Hartgen (District 25)