Democrats' proposed border security measures don't work

Mark Hewitt:
In 2011, the Department of Homeland Security canceled a project to build a technology-based “virtual fence” across the Southwest border, saying that the effort on which $1 billion had already been spent was ineffective and too costly. Politicians who funded billions of dollars of “detection technologies” didn’t listen to U.S. Border Patrol, which tried to explain that detection of illegal aliens and smugglers is not the problem along the border but stopping them from crossing is. Virtual or electronic walls are not deterrents, they are detection capabilities and don’t contribute anything to deterrence. Real walls are deterrents and are the only thing that really work to deter and prevent illegal border crossings.

There are long histories that hard fencing initiatives, from the Great Wall of China to T-walls (or Bremer barriers) that protected U.S. troops in Iraq, work and work well. Hard border strategic fencing initiatives such as Operation Gatekeeper, Operation Hold the Line, and Operation Safeguard deterred or stopped illegal border crossings in the busy border cities of San Ysidro, CA, El Paso, TX, and Nogales, AZ. The inability to scale walls or puncture steel matting or reinforced fencing pushed northbound alien immigrants and smugglers to the very limits of the “strategic fencing,” into inhospitable, remote, or difficult segments of the border such as mountains, deserts, and rapidly moving riverways. In the 1990s, wherever “strategic fencing” was employed, deterrence was virtually total. The vast majority of illegal crossings came from illegal aliens walking to the ends of the miles-long fencing where there was no more deterrence to crossing into the United States. In these particular border towns, crime associated with transient illegal aliens and smugglers dropped substantially.

High-flying unmanned surveillance aircraft don’t work either. After ten unmanned systems and $600 million was spent to help secure the southwest border, the unmanned aircraft were transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard. Moving surveillance cameras from a pole to an aircraft is not deterrence, it is still detection.

Mexican smugglers, using high-powered rifles with telescopic sights, blasted Boeing’s billion-dollar camera systems to smithereens. Repair crews dispatched to repair the damaged equipment soon found themselves being shot at by the same people. The result of a few well-placed bullets was that the virtual wall was effectively unplugged from the grid. As for the drones, Americans would probably be surprised that the drones didn’t fly every day. They were an intermittent and inconsistent detection capability.

Walls are a persistent deterrence. Along the border, cameras on poles or on unmanned aircraft are intermittent detection systems. The DHS abandoned the cameras on poles strategy.
Detection devices are worthless without significant manpower to apprehend those detected.  Then you are left with capturing and paying for detaining the illegal immigrants while they await adjudication which is another expense assuming some judge does not set them loose to enter the US anyway.  A fence is a much better means of deterring entry into the country.   Detection devices require more Border agents to work.  It requires an increased force to space ratio.


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