Past Features

August 27, 2017

Prototype wall moves ahead

January 25, 2017: President Trump signs the border wall executive order.
Washington Times -- August 27, 2017
First phase of U.S-Mexico border wall back on track
Contract protests dismissed, clearing way for building this year
    The first phase of President Trump's border wall is back on track after the Government Accountability Office dismissed contract protests that were holding construction of prototypes, officials said late Friday.
    “This means that we are now able to award contracts as soon as we are ready. We therefore expect to make awards soon,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency overseeing wall construction, said in a statement.

American Border Patrol Opinion -- August 27, 2017
What is the best 'wall' design?
    The job of securing our border is the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security. The Secure Fence Act of 2006, says “... the Secretary of Homeland Security shall take all actions the Secretary determines necessary and appropriate to achieve and maintain operational control over the entire international land and maritime borders of the United States...”
    The Act defines operational control as the “the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States...”
    The Trump Administration is going to look at various ways of “preventing unlawful entries” using physical barriers. Candidate Donald Trump proposed a solid wall --- "at least 30-feet tall,” which seemed logical, until people took a closer look and found that a solid wall could hide all sorts of misdeeds on the other side. The president now rightly says it should be “see through.”
    In his “border wall” executive order, President Trump invoked the Secure Fence Act as his legal authority to move forward.
    While the original Act called for 700 miles of double-layered fence, an amendment introduced by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson changed the law to read: "nothing in this paragraph shall require the Secretary of Homeland Security to install fencing, physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors in a particular location along an international border of the United States, if the Secretary determines that the use or placement of such resources is not the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain operational control over the international border at such location.”
    So, the president can build just about anything he wants so long as it is the best way to “achieve and maintain operational control” of the border.
    (In fact, operational control is mentioned five times in the president's ‘wall' executive order.)
    There is one small problem --- at present, DHS has no way of measuring operational control of the border. Without that, how can the president judge which border security system is the best?
    Wouldn't it seem logical for the DHS to find a way to measure operational control of the border?
    It turns out that someone came up with a way to measure operational control and proposed that it be used as part of the ‘wall' planning process. The proposal is on the desk of the Secretary of Homeland Security. Will it be accepted?
    We should get the answer in the coming weeks.