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Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2019 12:13 am

The support for President Trump's call for a multibillion-dollar border wall continues to shrink as more conservatives, including Trump's fellow Republicans in Congress, agree that any threat, if any exists at all, isn't enough to warrant such a large diversion of taxpayers' money.

The latest to say it's not needed is our country's top military official in charge of homeland defense.

Testifying Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Air Force Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander of the U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, said a border wall might make the country more secure against a threat from the south, but he doesn't see such a threat. A much greater, and more immediate threat, he testified, comes from Russia.

He noted that Russia has expanded its fleet of ice-breaking ships in the Arctic Ocean that would enable other vessels, including warships, to approach the U.S. coast more easily. Russian President Vladimir Putin last weekend threatened military strikes against the United States, after which Russian television broadcast a list of possible nuclear strike targets on the U.S. mainland.

President Trump has declared a national emergency and proposed taking as much as $6.1 billion from our national defense budget to build a wall across our entire southern border. If that lost money affects our ability to respond to any Russian threat, the cost to our country would be more than monetary.

No one denies that we have a national immigration crisis, and too many people live in our country without permission. Analysts, however, say as many as 62 percent of those people enter legally on temporary visas but don't return home when those visas expire.

Apparently, they just get here any way they can.

Studies show that other than their illegal residency here, the great majority of these immigrants are otherwise law-abiding and contributing members of their communities.

It stands to reason that they would not misuse our visa system if they saw other legal ways of coming here. Unfortunately, residency cases are backlogged by millions and take years to process.

The situation is akin to a person driving late at night and coming to a stop light. After a long wait, the driver determines that the light isn't going to change anytime soon. So he drives through the red light, rather than wait all night for the lights to start cycling again. Yes, he broke the law, but he saw no other reasonable choice.

If any money is to be diverted, then, it should be used not to build walls, but to expand our immigration courts and improve the review process in order to reduce the backlog. That, with other reforms such as addressing our archaic quota system of meting out visas, would trim the backlog and reduce the perceived need to bypass the legal system and get here by any means necessary, regardless of legality.

In the meantime, our administration needs to assess all threats to our national security and make sure the most urgent threats receive the most attention, and resources.

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