Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) joked with an audience during a campaign stop on Wednesday that the United States should look to the Great Wall of China for inspiration on how to keep undocumented immigrants out of the country.
Speaking at a retirement community in Brewer, Maine, LePage insisted on calling undocumented immigrants “illegals.” “They are going to our schools, and that’s a real problem for me,” said LePage, before adding, “If we can’t build a fence high enough … we ought to go to China and see how they built a wall.” The comment, which referenced China’s 5,500 mile-long Great Wall, elicited laughs from the audience.
But in reality, Americans don’t need to spend 2,000 years mimicking China’s impressive accomplishment; the U.S. border is currently more secure than ever before.
Border agents already patrol every single mile of the border every day and run checkpoints as far away as 100 miles of any U.S. “external boundary.” Federal funding on border expenditures has tripled since 2002, with the country spending $18 billion on immigration enforcement in the 2012 fiscal year, more than every other federal law enforcement agency combined. As a result, the vast majority of the border already meets one of Homeland Security’s top three certifications for security and overall, the number of immigrants caught sneaking into the country “remains at near historic low levels.”
LePage is running for re-election against Rep. Mike Michaud (D) and independent Eliot Cutler.