In the days leading up to the partial government shutdown, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) claimed support for border security, but derided the notion of a border wall. “We favor smart, effective border security, not a medieval wall. A Trump shut down will not convince a single Democrat to support bilking the American taxpayer for an ineffective, unnecessary and exorbitantly expensive wall,” Schumer stated.
Smart border enforcement, with all the technological bells and whistles, is nice and necessary. But it is not a substitute for actual physical barriers. Schumer and incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) want to invest in technology – sensors, night vision cameras, etc. – along the border (or so they claim). Such technology is useful insofar as it alerts border enforcement authorities to the fact our borders have been breached. But there is no documented case of sensors or cameras preventing our borders from being breached. Physical barriers – walls and fences – on the other hand, actually prevent people from crossing the border illegally.
Many people hire home security companies to install alarms and sensors that let them know if someone is breaking into their homes. These are added layers of security and deterrence, not a replacement for locks on doors and windows. The sensors allow the security company to alert the police. Maybe the police get there in time to nab the burglar before he walks off with people’s valuable, and maybe they don’t. Given the choice between having locks on the doors and windows or sensors on the doors and windows, most people would sensibly choose locks.
Schumer’s objection to “medieval” physical barriers is not their lack of effectiveness, but rather political considerations as the Senate leader of a party that is being pushed toward extreme positions on immigration by a vocal cadre of radical activists. As recently as 2013, Schumer called for a “breathtaking show of force” along the southern border. Back then, Schumer voiced support for an amendment that “would double the size of Border Patrol agents from its current level to over 40,000…[and]finish the job of completing the fence along the entire 700-mile stretch of the southwest border.
A border wall, or fence, if Schumer prefers that terminology, may seem a little dated, but so is the wheel. Both have been around for a while because they work quite well.