September 2, 2015
Scoring the Border
Let's Get Specific
Glenn Spencer -- American Border Patrol -- September 2, 2015
"If you can't measure it, you can't improve it." -- Peter Drucker
Americans have been promised a secure border for decades. Some say it is secure enough, others say it is not.
In Fiscal Year 2014 the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended 479,371 people trying to cross our southern border illegally.
If we caught one in three in FY 2014, 1,452.629 people crossed the border illegally, and 973,268 made it passed the Border Patrol.
Is a border that is crossed illegally by nearly one million people is secure?
Donald Trump says he would build a 1,000-mile wall on the 2,000-mile border because “some of it's done.”
Trump on Border: We'll Call It "The Great Wall Of Trump"
DONALD TRUMP: You know, interestingly, the wall on southern border, it's --- really, if you think it's 1,000 miles but it's 2,000 miles, but a lot of it --- some of it's done --- it's done poorly by the way, what they have done is very poor, very poor work, a very poor job, and very --- not much of a wall. But you also have natural terrain which is automatically a barrier, which is a good thing. So you're talking about 1,000.
According to Wikipedia: "As of August 29, 2008, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had built 190 miles (310 km) of pedestrian border fence and 154.3 miles (248.3 km) of vehicle border fence, for a total of 344.3 miles (554.1 km) of fence.”
As shown in a survey by American Border Patrol, most of the pedestrian border fence consists of single-layered mesh-type construction.
When done properly such as in San Diego and Yuma fencing has cut apprehensions by more than 90%. The problem is - very little of the existing fence can do the job.
The border between El Paso and San Diego runs about 700 miles, of which there are about 30 miles of double-layered fence as specified in the Secure Fence Act of 2006.
How much of the remaining 670 miles would Mr. Trump proposes for effective fencing? And, what is “effective”?
Then there is Texas --- it has 1,254 miles of border with Mexico, but only about 120 of fencing has been installed (much of it useless). Unlike the rest of that border, most of the Texas border land is private --- and then there is the Rio Grande River. (There is a way to use the Rio Grande levee system to solve this problem.)
How is Mr. Trump going to decide where to build his 1,000 - mile wall? Clearly many areas will be left with no wall at all.
I would suggest that Mr. Trump apply a lesson from management guru Peter Drucker who said, “If you can't measure it, you can't improve it.”
Mr. Trump, or anyone else who promises border security to get votes, should be honest with the American people. Specific goals should be set and a border accounting system installed to measure success. How those goals are achieved --- by walls, moats filled with alligators --- or modern drones --- should be based on sound economics, the environment and morality. Mr. Trump says much of the existing fence was done “poorly.” He needs to define what good is.