Las Vegas Sun

June 18, 2019

Currently: 91° — Complete forecast

Sun editorial:

Border wall money grab would hurt Nevada, imperil national security


Gregory Bull / AP

In this Jan 15, 2019 image, a section of newly-replaced border wall separates Tijuana, Mexico, above left, from San Diego, right, in San Diego. A recent Pentagon report showing that $91 million in funding for military projects at Nellis and Creech air bases could be diverted toward construction of Trump’s border wall.

President Donald Trump’s plan to address a make-believe emergency has created a legitimate cause for alarm in Southern Nevada.

At issue is a recent Pentagon report showing that $91 million in funding for military projects at Nellis and Creech air bases could be diverted toward construction of Trump’s border wall. If Trump gets his way, the following projects in Southern Nevada would be at risk:

• Two facilities at Creech to support the MQ-9 Reaper drone aircraft, totaling $59 million

• A $5.9 million combat rescue helicopter simulator facility at Nellis

• A $3.45 million munitions maintenance facility for the F-35A fighter jet, also at Nellis

• A $23 million facility to support Red Flag aerial combat exercises

Funneling this money into the wall is not acceptable for Nevada — a point that our congressional lawmakers, to their credit, are making loud and clear.

Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., whose district contains Nellis and Creech, called the situation a “potentially unconstitutional attack” on the area’s service families.

“Servicemembers at Nellis and Creech Air Force bases are performing missions that are critical to our national security,” Horsford said. “They deserve our admiration and support, not cuts to funding to maintain their training, readiness and quality of life.”

Horsford is exactly right, and we applaud him and his fellow Nevadans in Congress for supporting a resolution of disapproval for Trump’s actions on the issue.

The shifting of these funds not only disadvantages armed services personnel, it’s not remotely logical.

The military funding in question serves the purpose of protecting Americans from authentic threats. Meanwhile, the premise behind Trump’s emergency declaration — the so-called “invasion” from the south — was so bogus that the GOP-controlled Senate wouldn’t back Trump on it.

Trump’s hyperbole and fabrications aside, what’s happening at the border isn’t a national security threat. Yes, our nation needs better border security, as illegal drugs and individuals with bad intentions are getting through. But compared with the kind of threats that the nation’s service families are keeping at bay, the situation at the border isn’t an emergency.

Nor is a border wall an effective way to boost security. Take Trump’s fantasy that a physical barrier will somehow stop drugs from coming through the border. Considering that federal authorities have been saying for years that the vast majority of drugs are being smuggled through ports of entry, a wall isn’t the answer. And even if a wall is built, what’s to stop drugs from coming over or around or under it, or from coming in by sea?

So let’s call this project what it is: a political tool for Trump to energize his supporters.

The correct approach includes investing in staff and technology. And it definitely should not involve snatching away funding that aids service families in their mission to protect Americans from military threats.

If any discussion is warranted on the defense projects in Southern Nevada and elsewhere, then the projects should be taken on their own merits as opposed to being lumped into a conversation about the border. There are two very separate sets of needs involved here.

Meanwhile, Southern Nevada’s congressional delegates are doing the right thing in forming a wall of their own — figuratively speaking, of course — to prevent Trump from hijacking the funding.