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by land or by sea

A border wall is 'shortsighted,' says top Coast Guard admiral

There's one big problem with the idea of a wall on America's southern border, the Coast Guard's top admiral says: Illegal immigration and drug trafficking happens across maritime borders, too.

Adm. Paul Zukunft, commandant of the Coast Guard, said that it will take more than a wall to cut illegal immigration in the way that President Trump envisions. "I think we'd be shortsighted to think that if we build a wall that will end all the drivers for illegal migration," he said. "If you can't come across a terrestrial border between Mexico and the United States, then go around it."

Trump has deployed the military to the southern border, approving up to 4,000 members of the National Guard to surveil the boundary in border states like Arizona and Texas. But The Hill reports that there have been a record number of drug trafficking instances intercepted by the Coast Guard in recent years; the Coast Guard seized 223 tons of cocaine in 2017, up from 201 tons the year before.

"So when you look at a wall, I mean, that is a clear defensive posture, and it's a physical barrier. But what other barriers or what borders exists beyond that wall, and that is maritime borders," said Zukunft. The admiral called for more proactive measures to stop drug trafficking at its root, The Hill reports, and said that the Coast Guard would well-poised to take such measures if it received more funding. Some lawmakers have agreed, such as Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.): "If you want to go where the problem is, fund the Coast Guard," he said last week.