Build that Fence

Build that Fence

The current president of the United States seems pretty determined to build a wall along the southern border of this county. And, it should not surprise any of us that this is also a goal of the administration. Donald J. Trump talked about this often and with passion during his campaign to the White House.

The Chinese tried the Great Wall, which isolated their country for hundreds of years. The wall was meant to serve as protection from warring northern tribes. Today, the wall is a tourist attraction. Maybe Mr. Trump has a valid point for down the road a few years.

Over the past several months I’ve had thoughts about this proposal that is meant to halt immigration, legal or not.

Go back three decades to when then-President Ronald Reagan went to Germany for political interests. As he stood at the Brandenburg Gate, June 12, 1987, and addressed the crowd, the hallmark of his speech was directed to Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev to, “Tear down this wall.” Reagan had asked the same question five years earlier when he suggested that he ask the Soviets, why the wall was still there in the first place.

Now, 30 years later, current president Donald J. Trump is saying, to build that wall, separating the United States from neighbor and ally, Mexico.

Some of that wall has been built, about one-third, or 650 miles. The cost eight years ago was up to $4 million per mile, even though most of it is a fence, rather than the wall Trump so animatedly talked about. Some of that fence has fallen into disrepair, and there are many who take their chances to enter the United States illegally.

There is a better way than to build a wall and spend money that neither this county nor our neighbors to the south have to spend. The solution is simple; increase security and implement better technology and solutions. Train and hire more border agents who can stem the tide of illegal immigrants and the flow of illegal drugs into this country.

Security products and solutions need security professionals in order to understand how they work and why, as well as getting the best results. Border enforcement officials have been telling Trump’s transition team that a wall alone is not enough. You also need agents, camera towers, stadium lights and sensors. If the president insists on a “great wall” to deliver on his campaign promise, Customs and Border Protection has identified 400 miles where the current fence can be extended or reinforced.

But, there are clearly sections where it remains impractical. For instance, the border fence stops at a gnarly mountain range at Otay Mesa, Calif., about 15 miles east of the Pacific Ocean. The view here is open country; no dividing line.

I’m neither for or against the wall that President Trump proposes. It doesn’t impact my daily life. What does impact my day-today thoughts is how best security and technology can be implemented to save lives and property. Before committing to the wall, is it something that should never have been built in the first place, or will it simply become a tourist attraction years down the road?

This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Security Today.

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