A few years ago this would have been evidence that he’s not running for president. No one with national ambitions would claim that not only do we not need more border security, we should undertake to remove some of the security measures we’ve already built.

In 2019, with the left having embraced open borders forthrightly, it’s evidence that he is running.

He’s arguing at cross-purposes here, claiming that the fence doesn’t effectively deter illegal immigration but also that it deters it so effectively that it steers illegals into trying to cross into the U.S. over more dangerous unfenced terrain, which for some ends in death. This is a recurring theme of O’Rourke’s immigration rhetoric: Even non-lethal means of border enforcement are immoral because there’s always some risk of a lethal outcome if an illegal is determined enough to try to cross. It’s no different from saying that it’s immoral to bolt your door at night because doing so might force an intruder to break a window to gain entry and he might cut himself while stepping past the shards. To Beto, the moral burden is entirely on the homeowner, not the intruder. America’s basic sovereign prerogative in controlling who enters the country isn’t so much as a fart in the wind in his thinking.

I assume he would support withdrawing all forms of security at the border, not just walls, apart from counterterrorism checks on people entering. After all, by O’Rourke’s logic, what’s the difference between a fence and a Border Patrol outpost? If we’re worried about illegals putting their lives at risk by trying to cross through the desert, fear of detection by the BP is as much of an incentive as avoiding a physical barrier is. The chatter about fences and walls and so on obscures the more basic and ominous point, which is that he believes border enforcement is wrong in principle. And increasingly within his party, especially among younger progressives, he’s not alone.