Past Features

August 29, 2017

The great wall debate
Start by defining terms

The Hill -- August 28, 2017
OPINION: Trump, strike a deal: Trade border wall funding for DACA protections
    .... In September 2006, CBP awarded Boeing a contract to build the Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet), a virtual wall of technological devices that was supposed to provide border patrol officers with the information needed to maintain operational control of what was happening along the entire length of the southwest border.
    It was a complete failure. When former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano terminated the program in January 2011, it had cost taxpayers almost $1 billion to complete two regions covering a total of only 53 miles of the 2,000-mile border. [...]
    The Secure Fence Act was passed in the Senate 80 to 19. The yeas included current Senate party leaders Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and former Senators Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).
    It mandated 850 miles of fencing along the southwest border, but as amended by section 564 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, it just requires DHS to "construct reinforced fencing along not less than 700 miles of the southwest border where fencing would be most practical and effective."
    DHS has constructed just 653 miles of fencing.
    When Trump has completed the last 47 miles of this project, he will be able to show Congress the kind of wall he wants for the rest of the border and provide a reliable estimate of what it would cost.

Glenn Spencer -- August 28, 2017 (Via E-Mail)
Establish Standards
    Rapport says the Secure Fence Act was modified "construct reinforced fencing along not less than 700 miles of the southwest border where fencing would be most practical and effective." --- no doubt based on a 2009 Congressional Research Service document.
    But Wikipedia reports that the amendment says any fencing, physical barriers, roads, etc. must be "the most appropriate means of achieving operational control over the international border..."
    Rapport goes on to say "DHS has constructed 853 miles of fencing." When it chose what to build, did DHS chose the "most appropriate means of achieving operational control, i.e., the prevention of all unlawful entries."?
    No, and all the president has to do is point to Obama's Wall --- that made no attempt at all to prevent illegal entries.
    Some, such as the open-borders National Immigration Forum, say the total prevention of all illegal entries is impossible.
    They have worked to make perfect the enemy of the good.
    To overcome this objection, the president should to follow the 2007 admonition of Sen. Elizabeth Dole: "... we need to establish standards, metrics and show that they have been achieved."
    The president and his senior staff have to understand that the real struggle is over accountability --- and that they will be struggling against many still in DHS who oppose setting any standards for border security.
    He should start out by establishing standards.