Border Fence Workable

brdrfnc“A border fence is impossible” and “A border fence won’t work and is a waste of money” are two arguments veritably recognized as flimsy at best, but are now confirmed specious by a rather innocuous article released recently by the Associated Press. The article points out the border fence constructed years ago at the San Diego-Tijuana junction coupled with “tougher” U.S. border enforcement there have reduced illegal crossings drastically while the area residents now experience a transformed sense of safety.

On the one hand, while documenting the change-for-good resulting from the San Diego-Tijuana fence – an inadvertent but evidential case for a more extensive fence – the article on the other hand attempts to deflect any such evidential conclusion by quickly pointing out only how wrong Donald Trump’s comments are about the border being out of control: “Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s portrait of a border out of control doesn’t square with what people see every day in San Diego…” The reason why Trump’s depiction vs. the tamer border situation experienced in San Diego “doesn’t square” is because of the existing fence there.

The southern border is out of control elsewhere, where no such (effectively designed) fence currently exists. Estimates of tens of thousands of unauthorized people invade the country annually through the southern border. We know little to nothing about them – who they are or where they come from, what their intentions are, or where they go. Any way you objectively look at this situation, the border is out of control.

So, in attaining control and securing our border, is a fence the answer? Certainly in the San Diego area such an approach demonstrates its workability. However, along the 1,950 mile stretch of the southern border there is vastly different and difficult terrain. A “fence,” whether wholly physical or in some combination of physical and virtual, is definitely possible though. During my career in the defense industry, my most recent time was spent as the Director of Contracts working with the Department of Homeland Security on a border surveillance-type program at select locations on the Arizona border – a program robust enough to describe it as a virtual fence (fixed towers with various advanced sensors and cameras). From firsthand knowledge, that type of virtual-fence deterrent is realistic and operable across a range of topography and, in combination with a physical double-layer fence like the one actually standing in San Diego, and possibly drones, we possess the capability to create an effective, viable border-barrier.

In an attempt to throw cold water on the border fence discourse, however, cost if often cited as a daunting factor. Granted such extensive fence construction as the type we are discussing is a major endeavor and would not be cheap, and granted no government program comes in at or under budget. Nevertheless, to put it in some perspective, the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform has estimated the cost of a fence along the entire 1,950 mile length a mere 3.2% of that spent annually by the federal government on highway construction. Even for those of us seeking to shrink government and its expenditures that seems a reasonable price to pay for a much more secure border. Furthermore, there are excellent arguments citing substantial long-term cost savings resulting from the prevention of people entering and staying in the country illegally. A study by the Heritage Foundation cites an overall taxpayer savings of $700,000 for each such person.

Now the hard part: in addition to the fence, what is most needed and what, for the last seven years, has been sorely lacking, is a president who discharges his sworn duty to faithfully execute and enforce the laws of this country – including those of immigration and border security. It seems highly unlikely that the current White House occupant will jettison his lawless modus operandi regarding border protection before he packs his bags for a new residence. It also looks highly unlikely that if the next tenant hails from the Democrat party a sudden awakening change to border security will ensue. Therefore, we rely on a conservative Republican candidate to win the presidency and to re-engineer a strong border policy, in accordance with existing laws – post haste.

Such a policy includes a fence utilizing both physical and virtual elements along with drone surveillance. That solution is a workable, real possibility and would not be a waste of money.

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