DECATUR — Investor Warren Buffett's oldest son usually focuses on finding ways for his foundation to help farmers in the developing world or get the most out of the crops he's growing in Illinois. But now Howard Buffett has jumped into the border security debate with a book that criticizes President Donald Trump's proposal to build a massive wall along the Mexican border.
At first, the subject might seem like an odd fit, but "Our 50-State Border Crisis: How the Mexican Border Fuels the Drug Epidemic Across America," is based on Howard Buffett's experience as a philanthropist, an Arizona landowner near the border and a volunteer sheriff's deputy in Arizona and Illinois.
Buffett sees a clear connection between our nation's porous border and the drug crimes and addiction he investigates in Decatur as sheriff, a job to which he was appointed in September after former Macon County Sheriff Thomas Schneider stepped down. He's also seen drug trafficking and illegal immigration in Cochise County, Arizona, where he owns a ranch and has served as a volunteer deputy.
"There is a lot of pain that is affecting many people in this country that's not getting addressed, and it starts at the border," said Howard Buffett, who has also given millions of dollars to Macon County law enforcement and social service agencies in recent years.
He knows he may not be able to change some people's minds because of the strong views Trump's supporters and detractors hold, but he thinks the best solution is a combination of properly equipped law enforcement, some barriers in places and cooperation with Mexico and other countries.
"The biggest single impediment is the politics of it," he said.
Trump has yet to secure funding to build a wall on the border. The budget deal that Congress recently approved included $1.6 billion for border wall spending, largely to repair existing barriers. Trump had requested $25 billion.
In the book, a portion of which can be previewed online, Buffett wrote that barriers are an effective tool to support border security, but not the only solution. He said he first thought Trump's talk about a wall was symbolic, a way of signaling that Trump would focus on improved border security, which Buffett supports.
"But focusing on the wall became a way for Trump to insult Mexico, which is the opposite of what the United States needs to do if we are ever going to achieve border security," Buffett wrote, adding that Trump's rhetoric oversimplified the issue of border security.
"The challenges around our border go back a long time, and they are complex," Buffett wrote. "The stakes are enormous, and we must unwind some of the bureaucratic and command gaps undermining it today. But there are no simple fixes."