by Jim Kouri
Clash Daily Contributor
One of the main issues that propelled Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to victory was the promise of a wall being built at the United States border with Mexico. The response by the news media, their favorite Democratic politicians and illegal-immigration advocates was astounding, with newspapers, magazines, television, radio and the Internet awash in comments that Trump was a racist, a bigot, and a xenophobic bully.
But the truth — noticeably avoided by the media — is that the U.S. Congress passed a bill and it was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006 ordering a wall to be built at the U.S.-Mexican border and more Border Patrol agents should be hired for the Southern border.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, required DHS to complete construction by December 31, 2008, of either 370 miles or other mileage determined by the Secretary, of reinforced fencing along the southwest border wherever the Secretary determines it would be most practical and effective in deterring smugglers and aliens attempting illegal entry,
according to Global Security.
This provision also required the construction of reinforced fencing along a total of not less than 700 miles of the southwest border where fencing would be most practical and effective, but it did not establish a deadline for completion of the full 700 miles. DHS set a goal to complete approximately 670 miles of fencing by December 31, 2008. In December 2008, DHS reported that it planned to complete all but one of the fence projects by March 2009.
A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll indicated the American people favored a proposal to build a 2,000-mile security fence by a 51-to-37 percent margin. The total illegal alien population was estimated by then-Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge at 8 to 12 million in December 2003, but Lou Dobbs of CNN regularly uses 20 million as a more realistic number of illegal aliens in the US. The sea of illegal aliens provides a cover and an environment in which terrorists can hide, and the tide of in-coming illegal aliens provides terrorists with a reliable means of entry, the Global Security report.
Most Americans were totally kept in the dark by the news media’s hotbed of corruption when on Friday, January 14, 2011, then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano’s office announced that the Obama administration canceled the “Virtual Fence” project along the U.S.-Mexico border. (They had decided a “virtual fence” would be more effective and they controlled both houses of Congress and Bush, who was never a big advocate of controlling immigration, went along with the plan.)
The reason for her cancellation after spending almost a billion dollars was the continued technical equipment problems and the rising costs of constructing and installing the components including closed-circuit TV cameras and monitors, electronic detectors, and other security measures.
As reported by in the past by NewsWithViews.com, the original border security plan called for a fence and barriers to be used on parts of the U.S.’s southern border, but with the Democrats controlling both houses of Congress and the Bush Administration being weak on border security, the plan switched from a real fence to a virtual fence using high-tech equipment.
Unfortunately, the Department of Homeland Security’s latest failure to protect the United State, was a costly program to place crucial electronic surveillance systems along the U.S.-Mexico border that is years behind schedule. The security project is grossly over budget because Secretary Janet Napolitano’s agency hasn’t adequately managed the contractor doing the work, according to a Washington, DC watchdog group.
As a result, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars will be wasted and the porous southern border will continue to be vulnerable despite the Obama Administration’s assurances that it’s as secure as it’s ever been. So far the troubled project, known as Secure Border Initiative Network, has cost the government $672 million although it’s nowhere near completion, according to Judicial Watch, a public-interest group that investigates political corruption.
After years of debates, congressional votes, government studies and political posturing by lawmakers, the so-called “virtual fence” continues to cause more problems than it solves, according to testimony at a session of the House Homeland Security Committee.
In a compromise that met with disappointment by those who advocate tighter border security, instead of walls or chain link fencing, the U.S. Border Patrol and Homeland Security Department created the concept of virtual fence security that included surveillance cameras, motion or heat sensing detectors, radar, and supposed state-of-the-art control towers designed to detect and prevent illegal immigration and drug smuggling into the United States.
According to a report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police, the security contractor — Boeing Co. — was installing the hi-tech physical security system. The original plan called for a completion date by December 2009 at a cost of $1.1 billion for a virtual fence. According to the report obtained by NACOP, Boeing requested that completion date to be amended by seven years.
Physical security experts told this writer it should surprise no one that a relatively simple project would become complicated and unmanageable given that fact that most of the decision-makers probably have no law enforcement, security or engineering background.
The Obama initiative aims to enhance border security by designing technological tools that enable Border Patrol agents to detect and respond to incursions along unmanned stretches of the 2,000-mile Mexican border. This includes installing unattended ground sensors, radars and cameras. The so-called virtual fence was supposed to be completed by 2011, but Homeland Security officials recently pushed the date up to 2014, well after Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.
That’s because the agency had failed to properly oversee the project’s prime contractor, resulting in costly rework, numerous delays and lots of extra money. In fact, Homeland Security officials stood by as the contractor provided information that was “replete with unexplained anomalies, thus rendering the data unfit for effective contractor management and oversight,” congressional investigators found.
The initiative to erect barriers — both electronic and physical — along the U.S. Mexico border has been plagued with a multitude of problems since it was implemented under the George W. Bush Administration. After funding issues got largely settled, some border mayors in Texas blocked the feds from conducting fence work on city property, a large Indian tribe (Tohono O’odham) in Arizona refused to allow a fence to be erected along a vulnerable stretch of border and the so-called virtual fence project has been delayed several times.
Last year a separate GAO report revealed that the physical fence was costing U.S. taxpayers an average of nearly $4 million per mile. The per mile costs vary considerably depending on the type of fencing, topography, materials, labor costs and the price of land acquisition, but investigators determined that serious cost overruns have led to the exorbitant average figure.
Conservative Base‘s editor, Jim Kouri, CPP, is founder and CEO of Kouri Associates, a homeland security, public safety and political consulting firm. He’s formerly Fifth Vice-President, now a Board Member, of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, a columnist, and a contributor to the nationally syndicated talk-radio program, the Chuck Wilder Show. He’s the author of two books: Crime Talk: Conversations with America’s Top Law Enforcement Officers and Assume the Position: Police Science for Journalists and Screenwriters.