by Michael Cutler
And why a “virtual fence” will stop no one.
President Trump has demonstrated, once again, that he is a man of his word, opting to shut down the government rather than accede to the globalist Democrats who refuse to provide funding for the wall to be erected to help secure the dangerous and porous U.S./Mexican border.
Schumer, Pelosi and others, mostly Democrats, have opposed a wall and called for drones and other elements of a “virtual fence” along the southern border insisting that a wall would be too expensive and not needed.
As I noted in an earlier article, America Needs A Border Wall Like Houses Need Insulation, just as the cost of insulating houses ultimately saves money, by keeping warm air from escaping the house in the winter, insulating America against contraband (including deadly, dangerous narcotics), illegals and the criminals and terrorists among them, would protect America and Americans; and help staunch the flow of tens of billions of dollars annually sent out of the United States by illegal alien workers and criminals.
The cost of a secure border wall should be considered an investment in national security, public safety and the livelihoods of American workers. This is one investment that would not only pay for itself and, indeed pay dividends, but save many, many innocent lives.
For years, drones--also known as UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)--have been deployed along that border at great expense and with little or nothing to show for the costly effort.
The deployment of the U.S. military’s Predator UAV’s to support the Border Patrol’s efforts to secure our borders provided many Americans with a sense of security. After all, the military relies on those drones and we all know the U.S. military’s prowess at achieving national security goals and objectives.
In reality, for the most part, that sense of security provided by the drones has been false security. False security is worse than no security.
The stark and irrefutable reality is that drones and other such devices cannot stop the entry of any illegal aliens or contraband.
Drones can spot illegal aliens and contraband only after our borders have been violated. This is true for all of the technological devices that are deployed along the border.
Furthermore, unmanned drones cannot make arrests. All that drones, pole-mounted cameras, radar and other sensors can do is transmit alerts and images to alert members of the U.S. Border Patrol that illegal entries into the United States have already taken place. The Border Patrol then must have the resources to respond to those alerts and images provided by the drones and other costly high-tech devices.
On May 1, 2018 the Cato Institute published the Immigration Research And Policy Brief No. 5: Drones on the Border: Efficacy and Privacy Implications which began with the following two paragraphs:
In response to President Donald Trump’s call for a border wall, some members of Congress have instead offered a “virtual wall”—ocean-to-ocean border surveillance with technology, especially unmanned aircraft known as drones. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) already operates a fleet of nine unmanned aircraft. Although drones have been widely used in foreign battlefields, they have failed to help CBP apprehend illegal border crossers and seize drugs. Drones have led to only 0.5 percent of apprehensions at a cost of $32,000 per arrest.Drones cannot assist Border Patrol agents who come under attack by illegal aliens and alien smugglers. All that drones can do is transit images of agents who are being attacked and other agents then need to respond to back up the agents who are being attacked.
At the same time, drones undermine Americans’ privacy. Their surveillance records the daily lives of Americans living along the border, and because CBP regularly uses its drones to support the operations of other federal agencies as well as state and local police, its drones allow for government surveillance nationwide with minimal oversight and without warrants. CBP should wind down its drone program and, in the meantime, establish more robust privacy protections.
Drones are also vulnerable to hacking. On December 17, 2015 the website Defense One published a report, DHS: Drug Traffickers Are Spoofing Border Drones that include the following statement:
“The bad guys on the border have lots of money and what they are putting money into is into spoofing and jamming GPS systems. We’re funding some advances so we can counter this,” said Timothy Bennett, a science-and-technology program manager at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees CBP. Those bad guys aren’t ISIS, just traffickers, Bennett said on Dec. 16 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies “It’s more about trafficking drugs and people,” he told Defense One. “We know who’s over there. We can guess who’s doing it.”On December 24, 2014 the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report, “U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Unmanned Aircraft System Program Does Not Achieve Intended Results or Recognize All Costs of Operations” that included the following assessments:
Although CBP’s Unmanned Aircraft System program contributes to border security, after 8 years, CBP cannot prove that the program is effective because it has not developed performance measures. The program has also not achieved the expected results. Specifically, the unmanned aircraft are not meeting flight hour goals. Although CBP anticipated increased apprehensions of illegal border crossers, a reduction in border surveillance costs, and improvement in the U.S. Border Patrol’s efficiency, we found little or no evidence that CBP met those program expectations.An effective wall, however, could prevent the illegal entry of aliens and contraband in the first place.
We estimate that, in fiscal year 2013, it cost at least $62.5 million to operate the program, or about $12,255 per hour. The Office of Air and Marine’s calculation of $2,468 per flight hour does not include operating costs, such as the costs of pilots, equipment, and overhead. By not including all operating costs, CBP also cannot accurately assess the program’s cost effectiveness or make informed decisions about program expansion. In addition, unless CBP fully discloses all operating costs, Congress and the public are unaware of all the resources committed to the Unmanned Aircraft System program. As a result, CBP has invested significant funds in a program that has not achieved the expected results, and it cannot demonstrate how much the program has improved border security.
Given the cost of the Unmanned Aircraft System program and its unproven effectiveness, CBP should reconsider its plan to expand the program. The $443 million that CBP plans to spend on program expansion could be put to better use by investing in alternatives, such as manned aircraft and ground surveillance assets.
This should be a matter of common sense, yet many members of Congress have resisted the construction of a wall.
The major corporations that sell the government the drones, cameras and sensors find this to be an extremely lucrative venture. All too frequently you have to consider the potential for what has come to be referred to as “crony capitalism.”
Of far greater concern however, is the simple and unavoidable conclusion that I came to many years ago. I have come to refer to this as the magic act, comparable to the magician who promises his audience that he will slice his lovely assistance in half.
Using all sorts of devices, blue smoke, mirrors and lighting, the magician creates a most convincing illusion that he had, indeed, cut the poor young woman in half. However, to everyone’s relief, after the stunt is carried out, his assistant bounds up onto the stage to the enthusiastic applause and cheers of the audience.
Of course, it is clear that the last thing that the magician would want to do is really slice his assistant in half. He would go to jail and probably never be able to find anyone willing to work with him again.
Politicians like Schumer and Pelosi know damned well that the great majority of Americans, including their supposed constituents want our borders secured against the illegal entry of aliens, particularly the criminals and terrorists among them. The politicians know that the voters want to keep drugs out of their communities. However, the politicians also know that the majority of the special interest groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce want our borders left open so that cheap and exploitable workers can flood into the United States.
Politicians know that they need those campaign contributions from those special interest groups if they are to win their next elections, so they are compelled to meet the demands of their de-facto employers, those who write those big, fat political campaign checks.
Not unlike that magician, politicians have become adept at creating illusions that they are eager to secure our borders and demonstrate this by voting for expensive measures and programs that are largely worthless, but create the convincing illusion that lots of money is being spent to meet the demands of their constituents while, in reality, just as the magician’s assistant is unharmed, the flood of exploitable workers will be able to continue without impediment.
So, while Schumer continues to drone on, and on, ad nauseam, the truth is that America’s borders cannot be secured by blue smoke and mirrors.
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