Word began to trickle out yesterday that President Donald Trump was backing down on his demand that any spending bill to keep the government open for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2017 must include funding for a southwest border wall. However, Trump made it clear that he is not giving up on his plan to get Congress to fund the wall, only that he is willing to push off funding until the FY 2018 budget.
Despite Trump’s assurances that the wall is still a priority, Democrats and Republicans in Congress seized on the uncertainty to resuscitate an idea synonymous with non-enforcement and failure—a so-called “virtual wall.”
Some chatter on CapHill that Trump could agree to border security provisions like blimps, fences motion detectors & call it a "wall"
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) April 24, 2017
While it remains every pro-amnesty lawmaker’s favorite “enforcement first” mechanism, we already tried a “virtual wall” and it didn’t work. Consider the following from 2010:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has put the brakes on SBInet, the $3 billion plan to build a virtual fence along the U.S. border with Mexico.
“Not only do we have an obligation to secure our borders, we have a responsibility to do so in the most cost-effective way possible,” Napolitano said in a statement Tuesday. “The system of sensors and cameras along the Southwest border known as SBInet has been plagued with cost overruns and missed deadlines.”
With that in mind, Napolitano is withholding funding for the program’s first deployment until a review she ordered in January is finished. And she’s taking away $50 million in stimulus funds from the Boeing-managed program. Instead, that funding will be put toward “other tested, commercially available security technology along the Southwest border.”
Even though the “virtual wall” became a government boondoggle that did nothing to increase border security, there is still a place for technology on the border. Systems such as sensors, drones, and blimps can be extremely effective when deployed as part of a comprehensive border security strategy. However, technology works best when augmenting a physical barrier—such as the one promised by Trump.