Saturday, May 13, 2006

What the hell is wrong with a virtual fence?

Via Hugh Hewitt :

The president needs to announce that the Guard will indeed be deployed in support of the Customs and Border personnel, but that the key to lasting border security is the dramatic expansion of border fencing in keeping with the House bill.

He should urge that the Senate adopt the House language in this regard (along with any other language necessary to assure that the construction of the 700 miles of fencing not be subject to any other law that might inhibit the quick start and completion of the projects.)

He must avoid the word "virtual," as in "virtual fencing." The White House isn't surrounded by a "virtual fence," and voters have no faith in "virtual fences" except as supplemts to the real thing.

If the president comes out early and hard in favor of expanding the fences along the border which have already worked so successfully in urban areas, he will have met the American public where it is with what it demands.

The above remarks are in reference to the speech Bush will be making Monday evening about immigration.

I have to ask, what is wrong with a virtual fence? I blame TV, everything looks too easy. People seem to think that Bush can just wave a magic wand and voila! a thousand miles of fence appear. It is as if people have lost an understanding of what it takes to actually do things. Remember Katrina and how long it took to move a couple of hundred thousand people out of New Orleans when they wanted to leave? Do people have any idea of the actual task involved in terms of logistics and labor and time and effort to do something like this? It would seem to me that if we did not have some kind of virtual fence up for at least awhile it would be no big deal for millions of people to slip into the country while we are building a fence.

It is also true that about a third of the undocumented workers in the country came here legally and then did not leave. This will not effect them. As far as security is concerned I don't think any of the September 11 hijackers were border what makes people believe the next terrorists will be?

Hugh Hewitt may say that the White House has more than a virtual fence, but the White House is also protected by a lot more than a pretty iron fence too. In fact they use technology as well as the fence. What is the point in having all this fancy technology, if we do not use it?


rich said...

1) A virtual fence depends on continued funding from Congress. Do you trust them?

2) A virtual fence, since it is not seen, may not discourage risk takers, especially when sensor limiting weather occurs or counter sensor technology is used. .

3) A virtual fence offers our citizens living on the border no reassurance. With a visible fence at least you can see if it has been breached (and complain!) The possibility of tunnels exists, but that is less of a problem than wide open spaces on the surface.

4) Finally a real fence may save the lives of persons who would otherwise risk their lives to get into this country.

On the other hand a virtual fence may be cheaper initially. Once the costs of arrest and incarceration deportation are included, this may or may not be the case.

rich said...

One more comment. I think the ratio is 1/3 illegally crossing the border and 2/3s overstaying a temporary entry. The 2/3s overstaying have at least been screened in a cursory manner. Persons crossing the border illegally have not been screened in any manner. The potential for dangerous persons crossing the border seems to be higher than the potential for dangerous persons overstaying a permitted entry, but I have no statistics on this.

I hope you get more comments on this.

Fresh Air said...

Real tunnels can be dug under real fences. Virtual tunnels don't work against virtual fences. N'est ce pas?

Virtual, yes! Physical, too.

terrye said...


Well, there is no way to be sure but I think that terrorists and hit men are far more likely to come in through customs in a BMW than they are to risk their lives crossing a desert.

But that fence is very long, there are stretches of hundreds of miles that are very isolated. It would not be a big deal for someone to drive up to that fence on one side of the border and put up a ladder and go over it. The point to the censors and drones is to scan for people in a large area. They use this technology to chase the Taliban in Afghanistan.

But that still does not deal with the whole issue of time.

David Thomson said...

Nothing really effective will occur until we make it inexpensive for employers to verify the ID of their job applicants. This is probably the most important thing that needs to be done. It is currently easy for illegal immigrants to purchase authentically looking phony ID. A good set that would fool even police officers can be obtained for roughly $200. Why in hell aren't more people talking about this issue?

terrye said...


It is kind of a catch 22. If employers refuse to hire hispanics, they are discriminating. If they hire the wrong hispanics, they are accused of being criminals.