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Monday, March 3, 2008

Actual Junk: Bush's Virtual Fence is a Real Fraud

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There is a famous scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first Indiana Jones film in which Indy is confronted by a giant, black-clad swordsman, holding an enormous scimitar that he twirls and and spins, with which he obviously means to fillet Indy in short order. The audience sits in anticipation, wondering what sort of cleverness Indiana will use to extricate himself from this particular problem. Will he use his whip to snap the sword out of mid air? What kind of trickery will he employ? Instead of doing anything fancy, Indiana, looking bored merely pulls out his gun and shoots the giant, then goes about his business. The lesson here: sometimes the easiest and most obvious answer is the best one. Which brings me to the Department of Homeland Security's virtual fence.

According to Congressional testimony last week the so-far only 28 miles of virtual fencing constructed by Homeland Security on the Mexican border meant to keep illegal aliens form slipping into the US is a bust. Despite Secretary Michael Chertoff's effusive huckstering, the $20 million fence, built by Boeing flopped because necessary software was inadequate to process data, the resolution of the needed cameras was inadequate to the task and the radar was glitchy among other problems. But instead of mothballing this modern Edsel the Administration is postponing it for another three years at a currently unknown cost. So much for fancy.

You don't have to be keenly cynical to wonder if Homeland Security (with the President's approval) just isn't very serious about border security. If they were they just might have spared us all the fancy whiz-bang stuff which many familiar with it said from the start would not work and just gone ahead and employed much simpler methods with proven track records of effectiveness. Congressman Duncan Hunter, who has been one of the realists on this issue today reports in Human Events on the very real functionality of an actual physical fence. He points out that the 14 mile San Diego Border Fence has done just what you would want it to do: "Since its construction more than 10 years ago, the smuggling of people and narcotics has dropped drastically; crime rates -- according to FBI statistics -- have been reduced by half, vehicle drug drive-throughs have been eliminated; and apprehensions have decreased due to fewer crossing attempts." In the light of such a proven track record, the Administration's dabbling in this virtual fence dead-end looks far more like playing for time, maybe time for the public to move on to other issues, than it looks like a serious effort to secure our borders.

Those, like the President, Democrats and (sadly) Senator John McCain who are (to be kind) somewhat less than concerned about illegal immigration try to block the efforts of those who think illegal immigration is a real problem for the nation, always try to complicate solutions. Therefore you see "virtual" fences and hear how deportation is "impossible" and you see all other forms of obfuscation.

The truth is that deportation is far from impossible and far from ineffective. When faced with a growing problem of illegal immigration in the '50s, President Dwight Eisenhower instituted a policy of rounding up and deporting illegals, taking them back to Mexico (and deep into Mexico, not just dumping them across the border) in buses and ships. Tens of thousands were apprehended and sent back and hundreds of thousands followed voluntarily.

There are other serious, straightforward ways to deal with the problem, too. Vigorously going after and fining companies who hire illegals is an obvious way. Eliminating the law that allows "anchor babies", babies born in the US of illegals who are automatically US citizens if they are born within our borders. Oh yeah, and get real about building the real physical fence that had been mandated by the Secure Fence Act, that law that the people forced their legislature to pass against their will. The Act called for 700 miles of double-layered fence to be built, separating the US from Mexico. Well over a year has passed since the Act passed and only 80 miles of fence has been built. This is the speed of a government dragging its feet.

While it is amusing to see what new excuses those who are opposed to enforcing the immigration laws come up with next for those of us who actually respect the rule of law, we know that Indiana Jones had it right: do it fast, do it simple and for God's sake just get it done.

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