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Head Of Border Patrol Union Weighs In On Trump's Wall Plans


When President Trump spoke to people at the Department of Homeland Security yesterday, Brandon Judd was in the audience. He's president of the union that represents U.S. Border Patrol agents, the National Border Patrol Council, which endorsed Trump during the campaign. He was present to hear the president say he's going ahead with building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, among other immigration measures, and he's in our studio this morning. Mr. Judd, welcome back to the program.

BRANDON JUDD: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: So how different is the border going to be assuming that the president's orders are carried out here?

JUDD: I don't think it's going to be - well, OK, it's going to be a lot more secure. But what we're talking about is we're talking about a wall in strategic locations. We're not talking about a great wall of the United States. We're not talking about a continuous wall from California down to Texas. We're talking about a wall in strategic locations which then helps the Border Patrol agents do their job better.

INSKEEP: Because there are some places that are so sparsely populated and the ground is so fierce or so harsh you really don't need...

JUDD: Correct, correct.

INSKEEP: So you've told us when you were on the program last time that about 10 to 15 percent of the border has serious fences in your view and maybe you'd double that under this proposal.

JUDD: That's what I'm thinking. Again, I don't have the exact specifics of what they're going to do, but I do know that they're looking in specific places like Laredo, Texas, where we have very, very little walls. Yet, the state that Laredo, Texas, borders is extremely violent. And so we're looking in locations like that. They're looking in locations like that, but I think it's going to be very effective.

INSKEEP: What have you made of the really visceral response to this, the negative response to this from many people in the United States as well as from Mexico?

JUDD: Well, I can understand, but you - but, Steve, you have to understand there's a lot of rhetoric out there and a lot of what's being put out there - I mean, I've heard that this is a racist wall. This isn't a racist wall. We're not talking about keeping out legal immigrants. We're talking about keeping out illegal immigrants, and it has nothing to do with race because we get people from all - from everywhere. We get people from Russia who are white that cross the border illegally. And so this isn't a racist wall. This is about the security and safety of the United States.

INSKEEP: Although some people have pointed out nobody is talking about a wall on the Canadian border.

JUDD: No, but we don't have the same problems on the Canadian border. In fact, that's where I work right now. I work on the Canadian border, and we just don't have the same number of people crossing the Canadian border illegally like what we do on the southwest border. It's a lot cheaper to go down to Mexico and cross the southwest border.

INSKEEP: What do you think about the president's effort to compel, if he can, local and state authorities to be more helpful to the Border Patrol and immigration authorities in doing their jobs and rounding up people who are here illegally?

JUDD: Well - so my understanding is that he's not compelling them to help us round them up. But what he is saying is if they come in contact, if a police officer, say, from Phoenix Police Department - if a police officer from the Phoenix, Ariz., police department comes in contact with somebody that he knows is here or suspects that is here illegally, then his responsibility is to contact an immigration enforcement officer to come in and find out. It's the same with me. As a Border Patrol agent, if I make a vehicle stop and I find that illegal activity is taking place outside of the laws that I enforce...

INSKEEP: Drunk driver for example.

JUDD: Exactly - it's my responsibility to call the local law - the local law enforcement so that they can come out and take care of the problem.

INSKEEP: Are we not actually arguing about that much then? Because there are local authorities who are saying, yeah, yeah, if we find somebody who's obviously in violation, we have to turn them over, but we do not want to make that our job. We don't want it to be our job to seek them out or to hold people when otherwise there would not be reason to hold them.

JUDD: And it's not going to be their job. It's not going to be their job to go seek out illegal immigrants in the United States. That is immigrations officers' jobs and it's not theirs. But if they do come in contact with people that are in the country illegally, they should have a responsibility and duty to report people that are breaking the law.

INSKEEP: In a few seconds, how different do you think the country could be in three or four years if these proposals are carried out?

JUDD: Well, I think the country is going to be a lot safer.

INSKEEP: A lot safer.

JUDD: I really do, yes, absolutely. I mean, I was there with what they call the angel families, families that had children that were killed by persons that were in the United States illegally. If these laws are carried out properly - and he's not talking about new laws. By the way, he's not saying that he's going to give us new laws. He's talking about enforcing the laws that are currently on the books.

INSKEEP: Brandon Judd, thanks for coming by. I really appreciate it.

JUDD: Appreciate it, thank you.

INSKEEP: He is the head of the Border Patrol union. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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