Donald Trump doesn’t need an act of congress to build a wall along the U.S./Mexican border, a bill passed ten years ago (the Secure Fence Act) will allow him to build a barrier between the two countries. Additionally, an amendment to the bill gave the DHS Secretary discretion to make changes to the fence outlined in the bill, there’s nothing in the amendment that prevents the DHS secretary from upgrading the fence to a wall.
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.
The law states in part:
Not later than 18 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, 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, to include the following–
(1) systematic surveillance of the international land and maritime borders of the United States through more effective use of personnel and technology, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, ground-based sensors, satellites, radar coverage, and cameras; and (2) physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful entry by aliens into the United States and facilitate access to the international land and maritime borders by United States Customs and Border Protection, such as additional checkpoints, all-weather access roads, and vehicle barriers. (b) Operational Control Defined.–In this section, the term “operational control” means the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband.
The main goal of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was to help secure America’s borders to decrease illegal entry, drug trafficking, and security threats by building 700 miles (1,100 km) of physical barriers along the Mexico-United States border. Later on in the bill it specifies what was supposed to be built was a double-layered fence with barbed-wire on top, and room for a security vehicle to patrol between the layers. Not bad right?
Of the almost 700 miles of fencing specified in the bill only 36.3 miles of double-layered fencing, as the bill required has been built Most of the 36+ miles of fencing were built during the Bush Administration.
The first blow against the promised fence was made by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) at the urging of DHS, in 2007 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 2007 federal budget bill despite the fact that the bill’s sponsor, 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 amendment gave Homeland Security the discretion to do less. But if the amendment allows DHS do switch from fencing to other types of barriers as they see fit, doesn’t it also allow a wall to be built rather than the two-layered fence?
During his El Paso speech about immigration reform on May 10, 2011, Obama declared that the fence along the border with Mexico is “now basically complete.” But what the Obama administration built was totally different from what the Secure Fence Act specified. Obama’s DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano “used her discretion.”
According to the DHS along with the 36.3 miles of double-fencing they’ve built 300 miles of Vehicle Fence and 353 miles of primary Pedestrian Fence, along with the 36.3 m along the Southwest border.”
As described in the customs and Border Patrol website, the vehicle fence includes, ‘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. They seem capable of blocking cars, but any able-bodied human can walk through them.
The 18-foot tall pedestrian fence simply needs a ladder scale.
Below is a drawing of what the fence was supposed to look like:
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. The fence will never stop ALL illegal crossings, and neither will a wall, although either will reduce the inflow significantly. These types of barriers will slow the intruders, making them visible to surveillance equipment, and members of the border patrol.
Israel built a two-layered fence like the one above to protect her citizens from terror attacks, and fence has served its purpose, in 2002, the year before construction started, 457 Israelis were murdered; in 2009, 8 Israelis were killed. The reason the Israel barrier 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 two-layered high-tech Mexican border fence, Thanks to Kay Bailey Hutchison and Barack Obama 95% of the fence wasn’t built. The arguments against the fence are bogus especially if you look at Israel’s history.
Now Donald Trump has promised America a border wall, and that same amendment that allowed the Obama administration to downgrade the required double-layered fencing may very well allow the Trump Administration to upgrade from a fence to a wall.
It’s time for America to get the border barrier we were promised . No one can honestly say it wont work. It worked in Israel, and it’s never been tried here.