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Cost-Effective Border Security with a High-Tech Fence

The President of the United States promised the American people that he will secure our Southern border by building a “wall”. I fully support President Trump and his efforts to secure the border, and agree that a wall (or fence) will reduce illegal border crossings into the United States, when combined with other high-tech systems. A wall (or fence) is necessary, as opposed to just high-tech systems alone, because high-tech systems won’t slow or stop an individual from entering the country, let alone a concerted, coordinated advance of multiple individuals, at multiple locations along the border, all at the same time. Only a physical barrier will “slow” such an attack, whereas high-tech systems alone would only “detect”.

As the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the President review various design proposals, they should seek to provide a secure border using the most cost-effective means available, to minimize the tax burden on the American people. This includes eventually minimizing the federal workforce (e.g. Border Patrol) as much as possible, while still ensuring a safe, secure border. Our security can be secured with lean, limited Government.

Instead of a tall, expensive “wall” built of brick/stone/concrete, etc., I propose that the border can be well secured using a “fence” made of stretch-metal welded to I-beams pounded into the ground. By welding the stretch-metal to the south side of the I-beams, there will be no projections, extensions or ledges which would make climbing the wall easier. It would be smooth stretch-metal, top to bottom. The stretch-metal fabric has very small openings/spaces so people cannot insert their fingers and climb, and will also provide Border Patrol agents with much needed visibility into Mexico, from their vehicles at ground level. Pounding I-beams directly into the ground (e.g., 30’ beam pounded 15’ into the ground) would provide a 15’ high wall, and save time and money. However, concrete will still be needed along the bottom edge of the stretch-metal, between the I-beams, and to provide additional support at select locations along the route (e.g., corners, etc.). The fence design would probably include aircraft cable (e.g., 5/8”) mounted through the I-beams at 30” or so above the ground, at select areas, to stop a vehicle trying to ram through the fence.

The fence solution would also include a combination of high-tech support systems such as high-definition color cameras, infrared cameras, and night-vision cameras (all with pan/tilt/zoom capability) mounted to the top of the fence (or on separate poles) along the entire fence/border; and high-speed drones also equipped with high-definition color, infrared, and night-vision cameras, as well as wireless connectivity to routers positioned along the top of the fence (and/or on separate poles). Fence cameras would provide overlapping video coverage of the area along the entire fence line, as well as into Mexico itself, 24x7x365. They would be connected to fiber optic cables, installed along the border route/patrol road, and would route real-time video to centralized Border Patrol dispatch centers. Additionally, as President Trump mentioned in a recent speech, perhaps solar panels could be mounted along the entire top of the fence structure, to power equipment, lights, speakers, etc. Perhaps excess power could be sold to electric companies to recoup taxpayer investment. Later, President Trump can get Mexico to pay the United States back, in some form or another.

The above technology (or better) is surely being included in various designs for the “wall”. However, America does not need to spend the money for an expensive “wall”, when a “fence” made of stretch-metal welded to I-beams will do. As long as it is supported by technology and infrastructure as summarized above, no one would be able to get through the border, or even close to the border, without being detected. The physical barrier (fence) would slow entrance while drones would lock on the targets and track any movement. At the same time, Border Patrol agents would physically respond to the location and apprehend the offenders. Border Patrol agents would have video feeds from cameras and drones, directly to their in-vehicle laptop, to help guide them to each perpetrator.

The Department of Homeland Security could create a video illustrating how the system will work, put it on Government’s websites, as well as provide links to it on social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, U-Tube, etc.). People from all over the world would be able to see how easily the fence systems will be able to detect and track persons approaching the border, even in the dark. They would see how hard i(if not impossible) for the average person to breach this “high-tech fence” and enter the United States. Eventually, hardly anyone will attempt to cross the Southern border. If they do attempt it, the Government can publicize their apprehension and deportation on its website and social media, which will deter people even more.

Once the number of border crossings drops to a very low level, the workforce (Border Patrol) can be reduced accordingly, along with the associated costs to the taxpayer. Further the cost savings and revenue generated from excess electricity may allow the same type of stretch-metal/high tech installation along the Northern border, without too much additional cost. This will need to be addressed, because once the Southern border is secure, illegals and terrorists will seek to enter from other, less secure locations.

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Idea No. 135