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During Wednesday evening’s Democratic Party debate Hillary Clinton was asked about the differences between Donald Trump’s wall and the one she voted for as a member of the senate. She answered:

Well, I think both of us, both Senator Sanders and I, voted numerous times to enhance border security along our border. We increased the number of border security agents. We did vote for money to build a fence, a pedestrian fence in some place, a vehicle fence in other places. And the result is that we have the most secure border we’ve ever had.

That’s a lie, she didn’t vote for a bill that had a pedestrian fence in some places and a vehicle fence elsewhere.  She voted for 700 miles of double layered fencing with barbed-wire on top, and room for a security vehicle to patrol between the layers, monitored by electronic equipment. Except for 36 miles of the seven-hundred-mile fence, what was eventually built is only slightly better than no fence at all.

The Secure Fence Act was introduced on Sept. 13, 2006 by Rep Peter King (R-NY) and passed Congress on a bi-partisan basis. In the House of Representatives, the Fence Act passed 283 -138 on September 14, 2006. On September 29, 2006, the Fence Act passed in the Senate 80 -19.  Ms. Clinton voted to pass the bill.

The Secure Fence Act of 2006’s goal was to help secure America’s borders to decrease illegal entry, drug trafficking, and security threats by building 700 miles (1,100 km) of double layered fencing lined with other physical barriers along the Mexico-United States border. Additionally, the law authorized more vehicle barriers, checkpoints, and lighting as well as authorizing the Department of Homeland Security to increase the use of advanced technology such as cameras, satellites, and unmanned aerial vehicles to reinforce infrastructure at the border. It is almost  ten years since the bill passed and very little of it has been build– most of it during the Bush Administration.

According to the text of the bill, the fence was supposed to be built  “in border area from Pacific Ocean to Gulf of Mexico.”

The bill also explains what the fence is supposed to look like:

Reinforced fencing: In carrying out subsection (a), the Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide for least 2 layers of reinforced fencing, the installation of additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors
Based on the text of the bill, Hillary Clinton voted to pass (and lied about in the debate) was a 700 mile fenced in area that looked something like this:

Of the almost 700 miles of fencing, DHS reports there are currently 36.3 miles of double-layered fencing, as the bill required, the kind with enough gap that you can drive a vehicle between the layers.

But the majority of the fencing erected has been made from vehicle barriers with single-layer pedestrian fencing, the kind of barriers that are designed to stop vehicles rather than people.

Border_barrier_near_IBM_9-800x600 (1)

The design specifications vary, depending on geography and climate characteristics, but according to the Customs and Border Patrol website, those include ‘post on rail’ steel set in concrete; steel picket-style fence set in concrete; vehicle bollards similar to those found around federal buildings; ‘Normandy; vehicle fence consisting of steel beams; and concrete jersey walls with steel mesh.

Thanks to Kay Bailey Hutchison and Janet Napolitano the fence Hillary voted for (and lied about) was never built.

The first blow against the promised fence was made by Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican Senator from Texas, at the urging of DHS she proposed an amendment to give the Department discretion to decide what type of fence was appropriate in different areas. The law was amended 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.”

Hutchison’s  amendment was included in a federal budget bill in late 2007 despite the fact that Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., had a cow…he argued the amendment effectively killed the border fence promised in the 2006 bill, he was right. Hutchison’s intentions may have been honorable, but she didn’t foresee Barack Obama being the next president.

When Janet Napolitano became Obama’s first DHS she took advantage of Ms.  Hutchison’s 2007 amendment, instead of building a fence which look something like the diagram above, she built a border “fence” that looked mostly like the picture above.

When she was still Governor of Arizona Janet Napolitano said, “You show me a 50-foot wall, and I’ll show you a 51-foot ladder at the border.” And she may be right a fence alone will never STOP all illegal crossings. The purpose of the fence is two-fold, slowing the intruders and making them visible to members of the border patrol. The rest of the work is done by human beings.


A similar fence was built in Israel. Very little of the Israeli separation barrier erected to keep out terrorists is a wall, most of the 400 miles of the barrier which has received so much international scorn is a two layered fence like the picture  above. The fence has served its purpose, in 2002, the year before construction started, 457 Israelis were murdered; in 2009, 8 Israelis were killed.  The reason it has been effective is not simply the fence itself but how the fence is guarded and patrolled.  And that’s what will make our fence along the Mexican border work.

Here’s the bottom line.  Back in 2006 the people of the U.S. were promised a border fence. In a rare correct decision Hillary Clinton voted to build the fence. She did not vote for “a pedestrian fence in some place, a vehicle fence in other places,” she voted for a 700 mile obstruction that if it was built there would be no need for Donald Trump’s wall.  As Secretary of State, she ignored the fact that the fence she voted for wasn’t built.  And now as candidate she is lying about her vote.


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