Colin Hanna's Op-Ed Published in Today's Philadelphia Inquirer
Posted on Fri, Oct. 07, 2005
Southern strategy: Fence at the border
by Colin A. Hanna
Colin A. Hanna is a former Chester County commissioner and founder of We Need a Fence
Four years after 9/11, America's borders remain largely open and insecure, leaving our nation vulnerable to terrorist attack. Only the building of a state-of-the-art border security fence, spanning the entire length of our southern border, can resolve this national security crisis. At present, more than one million illegal immigrants cross America's southern border each year. And these numbers are rising dramatically.
Earlier this month, an expanded indictment of Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, the American student charged with planning to assassinate President Bush, claimed that Abu Ali planned to traffic al-Qaeda cell members through Mexico to aid in the plot. This is troubling. Just weeks ago, Texas Republican Congressman John Culberson asserted that terrorists are already entering America by way of Mexico. He stated that "the FBI director testified under oath to my committee that there are individuals from countries with known al-Qaeda connections who have entered the United States, assuming false Hispanic identities... . Unfortunately, the terrorists will hit us again, and I am confident the next attack will be massive truck bombs in multiple cities across the U.S."
The situation is urgent. Govs. Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Janet Napolitano of Arizona recently declared their states' illegal immigration problems an emergency condition. And the crisis at our border is finally gaining attention at the federal level. Last month, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was forced to admit that "the American public is rightly distressed about a situation in which they feel we do not have the proper control over our borders."
On Sept. 21, 24 members of the bipartisan Texas congressional delegation wrote a letter to President Bush urging immediate action. The letter declared a "state of emergency along our border with Mexico." It stated that "illegal aliens, many of which are 'Other Than Mexicans' (OTMs), are crossing our border by the hundreds on a daily basis. They are presenting an immediate danger to the lives of people in every Texas community and beyond. We strongly urge you to take action now."
The most common proposal is to increase the size of our border security patrol by several thousand additional agents. This fails to appreciate the magnitude of the border problem and the threat it poses to our national security. So far this year, more than 100,000 OTM illegals have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Of these, nearly 500 have come from federally designated "special interest" countries such as Afghanistan, Jordan, Syria, Pakistan, Tunisia, and Yemen. Any one of these illegals could have been a terrorist intent on bringing death to our citizens and tragedy to our nation.
In the 21st century, only a border security fence can protect our country, while allowing America to remain a beacon of liberty. Whenever possible, secure our nation while preserving our commitment to an open society - a nation where legal immigration, commerce, trade, and tourism can flourish. Our leaders need to act now.
A 2,000-mile-long multilayer state-of-the-art security fence running from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico would safeguard our security and way of life. This is no Great Wall of China. Rather, the structure would consist of coils of barbed wire, a ditch, two tall sturdy wire fences with sensors to warn of any incursion, closed-circuit TV cameras, and motion detectors. Such a fence would finally give us a significant measure of protection from those who wish us harm. It should be wide enough to allow border security vehicles to conduct patrols within the walls. It could also be designed with up to 200 legal crossing points to accommodate commerce, tourism, and legitimate commuting.
A similar fence in Israel dramatically reduced the number of Palestinian terrorist incursions and bombings in a much more openly hostile region. This is real border security with proven results. Outside San Diego, a 14-mile long border fence is nearing completion. Despite roadblocks by environmentalist groups, this less sophisticated fence has succeeded in reducing the area that border agents must defend while strongly deterring crossings in the region surrounding the fence. Now, we need a fence for all 2,000 miles of the southern border.
There are 11,000 agents patrolling our southern border. It would take 150,000 to 200,000 agents and annual budgets of $5 billion to $10 billion to bring this failing system close to adequacy. But a few thousand more border agents are not the answer. A one-time investment of $8 billion would cover the construction costs of a state-of-the-art border security fence such as described above. This is an effective and relatively inexpensive way to prevent the kind of inhumane and costly terrorist attacks that the nation has already suffered.
Do we really need to suffer through another 9/11 before we get serious about our border problem?
The Web site address of We Need A Fence, a project of Let Freedom Ring, Inc., is www.WeNeedAFence.com.
illegal immigration, terrorism prevention, terrorism, Politics , Current Affairs