Past Features

September 2, 2016

Tunnel Vision
Threat of tunnels overblown
Most tunnels are dug in a 16-mile stretch of border.
Trump: Forget the wall --- look at the tunnels
    On his campaign website, Donald Trump lists ways to make Mexico pay for the wall.
    The campaign's website reads, “Compelling Mexico to pay for the wall.” Maybe he can do that if he is elected president, but that is not where he should put his efforts. His thinking is not up to date. The wall, even if it gets built, will stop neither illegals nor the incursion of drugs into the United States.
    We now know there are vast numbers of tunnels, and tunnels can be dug from anyone's house in Mexico along the border to California or other places. No wall is going to stop these tunnels from being built.

Glenn Spencer -- American Border Patrol
How serious is the border tunnel problem?
  If one were to believe recent reports, Mexican cartels can simply bypass Donald Trump's wall by digging under it --- and it is almost impossible to detect them.
    Don't try to dig a tunnel under the Rio Grande River, so that leaves us with the border between El Paso and San Diego.
    Most tunnels have been discovered near San Diego, California, and Nogales, Arizona.
    The area in which the tunnels have been found --- and future tunnels most likely would be found --- covers about 16 miles of the US Mexico border between El Paso and San Diego --- a total distance of about 665 miles.
    The idea that tunnels might be popping up along the remaining 649 miles outside the tunneling area is not realistic.
Areas north and south of the border between El Paso and San Diego are mostly open desert. There are few places to start and end a tunnel, and human activity does not mask tunneling to the extent it does near San Diego and Nogales.
SEIDARM --- Seismic Detection and Ranging System --- is a patented technology that cannot only detect seismic energy created by the construction and use of tunnels, it can determine the location and distance of the energy source. Its algorithm could be designed to filter out seismic energy sources not considered tunneling or tunnel use.
    American Border Patrol has done only limited testing of SEIDARM's ability to detect tunnels, however we are confident that it can do the job.
    SEIDARM also detects humans and low flying aircraft.
 In Nogales, a big part of the problem is a lack of a buffer zone.
    We believe that the U.S. government should declare a national security need and clear a one-half mile area along the border in Nogales, using eminent domain.
    Once that is done, SEIDARM should be installed to detect tunnel construction and use.
Due to the density of development, San Diego represents a special problem. Still, there are a limited number of places where a tunnel might emerge on the U.S. side, and these might be equipped with special instrumentation, but we need to take a closer look before making such a recommendation.
Remaining 647 miles
    SEIDARM could easily detect construction and use of tunnels along the remaining 647 miles of border, besides detecting above ground smugglers, and low flying aircraft.
Relax, Mr. Trump
    The idea that tunneling would negate the utility of a border barrier such as a wall or fence is overblown, so relax, Mr. Trump.