Hey Donald…I am thinking of a number…A gain…

 

‘Dignity intact’: Mexico celebrates deal in Tijuana rally

– Associated Press – Sunday, June 9, 2019

 

TIJUANAMexico — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he was reluctantly prepared to slap retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods if negotiators in Washington had failed to strike a deal, addressing a boisterous celebratory rally Saturday in the border city of Tijuana.

The president’s comments came shortly after his foreign minister and chief negotiator, Marcelo Ebrard, told the rally the country had emerged from the high-stakes talks that avoided U.S. tariffs on Mexico’s exports with its “dignity intact.”

López Obrador said that as an admirer of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, he opposes retaliation but had been prepared to impose tariffs on U.S. goods. “As chief representative of the Mexican state I cannot permit that anyone attacks our economy or accept an unjust asymmetry unworthy of our government.”

The rally in Tijuana, a short walk from the border, was originally scheduled as an act of solidarity in the face of President Donald Trump’s threat to impose a 5% tariff on Mexico’s exports if it did not stem the flow of Central American migrants crossing its territory toward the U.S.

But after Mexican and U.S. officials reached an accord late Friday that calls on Mexico to crackdown on migrants in exchange for Trump backing off his threat, officials here converted the rally into a celebration.

brard, who helped negotiate the deal, said when he gave the president his report, he told López Obrador: “There are no tariffs, Mr. President, we emerged with our dignity intact.”

López Obrador has said consistently that Mexico’s immigration policy will be guided by respect for

human rights. How that is integrated with the more proactive enforcement Mexico has promised Trump is yet to be seen.

“We take advantage of being here in Tijuana to say to the people of the United States once more that we do not harbor any intention nor will we harbor any intention to harm them, and we are resolved to collaborate with them in all areas, especially on the concern spurred by the growth of the migratory flow to their country,” he said.

“At the same time, we ask for their understanding because the migratory phenomenon doesn’t come from nowhere, it comes from the material needs and the insecurity in the Central American countries and in marginalized sectors and regions of Mexico, where there are human beings who need to set out on a pilgrimage to mitigate their hunger and their poverty or to save their lives.”

A series of speakers at the government-organized gathering spoke of the importance of the U.S.-Mexico relationship and applauded Mexico’s negotiating team. The rally had the feeling of a campaign event with paraphernalia from López Obrador’s ruling Morena party spread throughout the crowd.

The event was held in an intersection of Tijuana’s gritty downtown surrounded by pharmacies and currency exchange shops. Prostitutes lined the street a block away from the stage filled with dignitaries.

Lopez Obrador spoke of the long and intertwined histories of the two countries, noting that they “are protagonists in the largest demographic exchange in the world.”

Tijuana residents at the rally said they supported the terms of the agreement. But residents just a block away expressed concern the deal could mean more asylum seekers having to wait in Tijuana and other Mexican border cities for the resolution of their cases in the U.S. That process can take months or even years.

Angelica López, 41, has worked at a U.S. assembly plant in Tijuana that makes motors of all kinds for more than 20 years. The threatened tariffs would have directly impacted her family’s well-being, she said.

“Honestly, we were worried,” she said. “That’s how we eat, how we provide for the family, our home.”

As for the possibility that it means more Central American migrants have to wait out their asylum process in Tijuana, López noted that she had arrived in Tijuana as an economic migrant from another part of Mexico.

“The opportunities are for everyone, we simply support one another as human beings.”

But a block away, masseuse Omar Luna, said he believed many of the Central American migrants waiting in Tijuana were not there to work and were causing problems.

“This part affects us a little,” he said. “A lot of them don’t come to work, they’re criminals, (but) not all of them.”

Critics of the deal in Mexico say that other than a vague reiteration of a joint commitment to promote development, security and growth in Central America, the agreement focuses almost exclusively on enforcement and says little about the root causes driving the surge in migrants seen in recent months.

The deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops appears to be the key commitment in what was described as “unprecedented steps” by Mexico to ramp up enforcement, though Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero said that had already been planned and was not a result of external pressure.

Another key element of the deal is that the United States will expand a program known as the Migrant Protection Protocol, or MPP. According to Mexican immigration authorities, since January there have been 10,393 returns by migrants to Mexico while their cases wend their way through U.S. courts.

Observers said a concern is that if the MPP rolls out on a mass scale along the United States’ entire southern border, it could overwhelm Mexican border cities.

Article

 

 

El Chapo – In Custody, World Wide Network Exposed

By Denise Simon, Associate Editor, SUA

It appears that the United States worked with the Mexican Marines for many months to affect the capture of “El Chapo” Guzman who was taken without resistance in a condo he owned in Mazatlan, Mexico.

A senior U.S. law enforcement official said Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was taken alive overnight in the beach resort town. The official was not authorized to discuss the arrest and spoke on condition of anonymity.Guzman1

Guzman, 56, faces multiple federal drug trafficking indictments in the U.S. and is on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s most-wanted list. His drug empire stretches throughout North America and reaches as far away as Europe and Australia. His cartel has been heavily involved in the bloody drug war that has torn through parts of Mexico for the last several years.

Known as a legendary outlaw, Mexico’s Osama bin Laden and the world’s most powerful and elusive drug lord, Guzman had been pursued for weeks, the official said. (read the rest at the CSMonitor.)

Now, there are many items that remain quite chilling in this case, not the least of which are his sons who are desperately awaiting further orders to continue to run the cartel and global narcotics network. (From Borderland Beat)

El Chapo HelicopterOn twitter accounts, allegedly belonging to Ivan Achicaldo and Alfredo Guzman, sons of El Chapo, the two expressed their thoughts regarding the apprehension of their father, along with a couple of promises to settle accounts with those who are responsible for his capture.

Both indicate that they are waiting for “orders”.

The Twitter pages found at @ IvanArchivaldo and @ _AlfredoGuzman_ Chapo’s sons express their anger, grief, and their eagerness for revenge. Perhaps an apology from them to their father is in order, since authorities gleaned photographs and information from their social networks pages to assist in the capture.

@ _AlfredoGuzman_ has published the following messages:

“This is not the end”

“My father has not perished, the Guzman era is just beginning”

“I just want to communicate that we are not losers, the cartel is my father’s and will always be. GUZMAN LOERA FOREVER”

“and we are children of the Chapo, not like those fucking accounts that boast, we are humble like my father”

“For my father, whatever will be, will be but no one is going to help as my father helped, I’m going to hold accountable those who should and will pay .”

“The word is always the word, you should learn it because it is worth more than a signature.”

“Do not deny that I cried, also men mourn what we love most, God bless you father.”

‘One does not appreciate what you have until you don’t have it”

@IvanArchivaldo has published the following messages:

“Awaiting orders, a big hug to my father” (retweeted by Alfredo)

“My father’s words… “He who is not brave enough to take risks, is not going to achieve anything in life” (@ElChap0Guzman)

@ElChap0Guzman the twitter page reportedly belonging to Chapo,

On this page there is a mix of tweets, from the romantic, the poetic, animal and child advocacy, he laughs at Miley Cyrus and refers to the hanged alleged Zetas in Nuevo Laredo as “piñatas”.

In one tweet, he posts a graphic foto of a bullfighter as he is having his eye gorged by the bull’s horn, in a complete impalement of the eye socket.

His tweet refers to it as “Karma”.

In another he depicts a foto of a La Tuna “welcome” sign, he writes how “at ease” he is while at his ranch.

One tweet was a photograph of a child “orange vendor”. Chapo’s caption:

“When he was a child he had no limits. He who perseveres, achieves” Chapo himself was an orange vendor as a child. (Read the rest and see the images here.)

To begin to understand how Guzman operated and the major threat he imposed on America, this video must be seen:

%CODE%

Globally, Guzman operated without any impediment worldwide to the point where the U.S. government (associated agencies including the FBI, DoJ, and DEA) actually provided assistance to the Sinaloa cartels in an effort to create a turf war with rival cartels, where one is supported to take down others. (From Fusion.Net)

GuzmanMap

Joaquín Guzmán Loera or “El Chapo” has taken the Sinaloa Cartel from a regional operation to a worldwide criminal enterprise. Yearly profits for meth, marijuana and cocaine trade are estimated at $3 billion. The success of Chapo’s international business is built on a system of criminal franchises that run different parts of the drug trade. These interactive maps show some of the known routes he uses and the renowned criminals he’s been linked to.

See the interactive maps and a video here.

Add into the U.S. government assistance to the Sinaloa cartels – weapons.

This is hard-headed, cynical law enforcement; let some drugs in to keep more drugs out. But seeking out and negotiating an “arrangement” with these cold blooded monsters is sickening. We’ve seen how totally ruthless and barbaric their methods are and how they don’t care if innocents are caught in the crossfire or not.

This information sheds further light on the Fast and Furious caper.

Apparently, the DEA didn’t care how many guns ended up in the hands of Sinaloa cartel members – didn’t care who they killed, including border agents. They were only concerned about guns that ended up in rival cartel hands. The story validates reports from last August – totally ignored by most media – that Fast and Furious was meant as a program to supply arms to Sinaloa.

While hundreds of thousands have been killed in Mexico by the Sinaloa Cartel, we cannot deny the fact that some on our own soil have either died or gone missing. But sadly, this points to the highest levels within our own Justice Department headed by Eric Holder, who does have blood on his hands.

There are numerous U.S. courts now seeking extradition of Guzman from Mexico, but with the proven confidential secret deals made with the Sinaloa cartel and their operatives for immunity, will Eric Holder even work earnestly for extradition, or will Eric Holder leave office before this case comes to any U.S. court?

*************

Additional court documents are found here:

Money, drugs, weapons, terror – on the border – yet no strikes

SUA Staff – We hear about Drones flying in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and now there is talk that drones will fly the skies inside the USA. Over seas, they launch missiles against terrorist targets, and it seems to be the defined foreign policy of the United States. Get on the now famous ‘kill list’, and a drone loaded with missiles is sure to be in your future.

We are flying drones on our borders, but apparently not into Mexico. We know, and have identified drug cartel personnel who are causing more harm in the USA daily, so why aren’t we hitting them with drone fired missiles in Mexico?

Close the drug trade down and a significant amount of our internal and border woes would go away. But it appears that money talks, and…, well you know the rest. Here is a snippet of this issue today:

Illegal drugs by the tons are smuggled into California each year by sea, by land and by air. Cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin are either produced in or pass through Mexico, where 50,000 people have been killed in the last six years in an escalating war among cartels. Some of the victims have been beheaded, mutilated or left hanging from bridges, not necessarily because of their involvement in the trade, but as a diabolical demonstration that the drug lords will stop at nothing to dominate the market.

Those drugs end up in every neighborhood in Southern California and every city in the United States, feeding a never-ending hunger. But few people north of the border seem to make the connection. The Mexican carnage is conveniently distant. It’s Mexico’s problem, not ours. (Read the rest here at the LA Times.)

Unfortunately, the Obama White House orders killings that actually impact us less than the Mexico problem. MG Vallely suggested just this two years ago, invade northern Mexico, create a no-go zone, and decapitate the drug cartels, down to the lowest lieutenants.

But it appears to be a money issue first, but the ties to terror are there as well. Perhaps enough money is flowing through our system that the Mexican problem becomes something to sweep under the rug. The drug trade in the USA is killing us, yet banks seem to get away with slaps on the wrist when ‘laundering’ is discovered on smaller scales. But there are many billions involved. Coupled with the money, is the vast terror network connections.

See the video below on how they are gearing up. Hezbollah is placing heavy weapons right on our border, yet we do not strike them. Why?

There is a great paper on the connections you can download here: MEXICAN_ORGANIZED_CRIME_–TERR

You be the judge.

The article below explains how this works:

Western banks ‘reaping billions from Colombian cocaine trade’

While cocaine production ravages countries in Central America, consumers in the US and Europe are helping developed economies grow rich from the profits, a study claims

The Guardian UK

The vast profits made from drug production and trafficking are overwhelmingly reaped in rich “consuming” countries – principally across Europe and in the US – rather than war-torn “producing” nations such as Colombia and Mexico, new research has revealed. And its authors claim that financial regulators in the west are reluctant to go after western banks in pursuit of the massive amount of drug money being laundered through their systems.

The most far-reaching and detailed analysis to date of the drug economy in any country – in this case, Colombia – shows that 2.6% of the total street value of cocaine produced remains within the country, while a staggering 97.4% of profits are reaped by criminal syndicates, and laundered by banks, in first-world consuming countries.

Soldiers torch a cocaine processing laboratory near the city of Cucuta, in northern Colombia, as part of the country's war on drugs. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

“The story of who makes the money from Colombian cocaine is a metaphor for the disproportionate burden placed in every way on ‘producing’ nations like Colombia as a result of the prohibition of drugs,” said one of the authors of the study, Alejandro Gaviria, launching its English edition last week.

“Colombian society has suffered to almost no economic advantage from the drugs trade, while huge profits are made by criminal distribution networks in consuming countries, and recycled by banks which operate with nothing like the restrictions that Colombia’s own banking system is subject to.”

His co-author, Daniel Mejía, added: “The whole system operated by authorities in the consuming nations is based around going after the small guy, the weakest link in the chain, and never the big business or financial systems where the big money is.”

The work, by the two economists at University of the Andes in Bogotá, is part of an initiative by the Colombian government to overhaul global drugs policyand focus on money laundering by the big banks in America and Europe, as well as social prevention of drug taking and consideration of options for de-criminalising some or all drugs.

The economists surveyed an entire range of economic, social and political facets of the drug wars that have ravaged Colombia. The conflict has now shifted, with deadly consequences, to Mexico and it is feared will spread imminently to central America. But the most shocking conclusion relates to what the authors call “the microeconomics of cocaine production” in their country.

Gaviria and Mejía estimate that the lowest possible street value (at $100 per gram, about £65) of “net cocaine, after interdiction” produced in Colombia during the year studied (2008) amounts to $300bn. But of that only $7.8bn remained in the country.

“It is a minuscule proportion of GDP,” said Mejía, “which can impact disastrously on society and political life, but not on the Colombian economy. The economy for Colombian cocaine is outside Colombia.”

Mejía told the Observer: “The way I try to put it is this: prohibition is a transfer of the cost of the drug problem from the consuming to the producing countries.”

“If countries like Colombia benefitted economically from the drug trade, there would be a certain sense in it all,” said Gaviria. “Instead, we have paid the highest price for someone else’s profits – Colombia until recently, and now Mexico.

“I put it to Americans like this – suppose all cocaine consumption in the US disappeared and went to Canada. Would Americans be happy to see the homicide rates in Seattle skyrocket in order to prevent the cocaine and the money going to Canada? That way they start to understand for a moment the cost to Colombia and Mexico.”

The mechanisms of laundering drug money were highlighted in the Observerlast year after a rare settlement in Miami between US federal authorities and the Wachovia bank, which admitted to transferring $110m of drug money into the US, but failing to properly monitor a staggering $376bn brought into the bank through small exchange houses in Mexico over four years. (Wachovia has since been taken over by Wells Fargo, which has co-operated with the investigation.)

But no one went to jail, and the bank is now in the clear. “Overall, there’s great reluctance to go after the big money,” said Mejía. “They don’t target those parts of the chain where there’s a large value added. In Europe and America the money is dispersed – once it reaches the consuming country it goes into the system, in every city and state. They’d rather go after the petty economy, the small people and coca crops in Colombia, even though the economy is tiny.”

Colombia’s banks, meanwhile, said Mejía, “are subject to rigorous control, to stop laundering of profits that may return to our country. Just to bank $2,000 involves a huge amount of paperwork – and much of this is overseen by Americans.”

“In Colombia,” said Gaviria, “they ask questions of banks they’d never ask in the US. If they did, it would be against the laws of banking privacy. In the US you have very strong laws on bank secrecy, in Colombia not – though the proportion of laundered money is the other way round. It’s kind of hypocrisy, right?”

Dr Mejia said: “It’s an extension of the way they operate at home. Go after the lower classes, the weak link in the chain – the little guy, to show results. Again, transferring the cost of the drug war on to the poorest, but not the financial system and the big business that moves all this along.”

With Britain having overtaken the US and Spain as the world’s biggest consumer of cocaine per capita, the Wachovia investigation showed much of the drug money is also laundered through the City of London, where the principal Wachovia whistleblower, Martin Woods, was based in the bank’s anti-laundering office. He was wrongfully dismissed after sounding the alarm.

Gaviria said: “We know that authorities in the US and UK know far more than they act upon. The authorities realise things about certain people they think are moving money for the drug trade – but the DEA [US Drugs Enforcement Administration] only acts on a fraction of what it knows.”

“It’s taboo to go after the big banks,” added Mejía. “It’s political suicide in this economic climate, because the amounts of money recycled are so high.”

_________________________

Hezbollah Puts Heavy Weapons In Mexico – Why Open Borders?

 

MS-13, Now bigger than we can handle?

By SUA Staff – From Guatemala to Washington DC, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), the violent drug gang, a killing machine, has now gained a foothold beyond Mexico. It has grown into a full-blown transportation network, that includes narcotics, recruiting, weapons, prison indoctrination, death, rape and extortion.

Shipped back to the Central American countries of their birth from the streets and prisons of southern California in the 1990s, the tattooed and scarred members of the Mara Salvatrucha street gang quickly grew into a powerful and deadly force throughout the region.

Now, Guatemalan authorities say, they have begun to see new and disturbing evidence of an alliance between the Maras and another of the most feared criminal organizations in Latin America — a deal with the potential to further undermine that U.S.-backed effort to fight violent crime and narcotics trafficking in the region. Read the rest here.

The FBI established a task force dedicated to gang networks yet, the growth and partnerships continue to fester within our borders and further south into Latin America. However, the missions of MS-13 and Las Zetas are now beyond the capabilities of the task forces in the United States, Mexico, and Latin America.

This gives rise to the rapid expansion of trained killers, most of whom, were Mexican military defectors.

There is no denying their footprint firmly ensconced within America at this point and the threat to the safety of citizens and law enforcement is beyond description. Read the FBI description here:

Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, continues to expand its influence in the United States. FBI investigations reveal that it is present in almost every state and continues to grow its membership, now targeting younger recruits more than ever before.

To counteract this growth, the FBI formed the MS-13 National Gang Task Force in December 2004. Based at FBI Headquarters, this intelligence-driven task force combines the expertise, resources, and jurisdiction of federal agencies that investigate this violent international street gang. It focuses on maximizing the flow of information and intelligence, coordinating investigations nationally and internationally, and helping state and local law enforcement improve operations and prosecutions targeting MS-13. The task force can be reached by calling (202) 324-5340.

More from the FBI:

MS-13 operates in at least 42 states and the District of Columbia and has about 6,000-10,000 members nationwide. Currently, the threat is highest in the western and northeastern parts of the country, which coincides with elevated Salvadoran immigrant populations in those areas. In the southeast and central regions, the current threat is moderate to low, but recently, we’ve seen an influx of MS-13 members into the southeast, causing an increase in violent crimes there.

MS-13 members engage in a wide range of criminal activity, including drug distribution, murder, rape, prostitution, robbery, home invasions, immigration offenses, kidnapping, carjackings/auto thefts, and vandalism. Most of these crimes, you’ll notice, have one thing in common—they are exceedingly violent. And while most of the violence is directed toward other MS-13 members or rival street gangs, innocent citizens often get caught in the crossfire.

MS-13 is expanding its membership at a “moderate” rate through recruitment and migration. Some MS-13 members move to get jobs or to be near family members—currently, the southeast and the northeast are seeing the largest increases in membership. MS-13 often recruits new members by glorifying the gang lifestyle (often on the Internet, complete with pictures and videos) and by absorbing smaller gangs.

Speaking of employment, MS-13 members typically work for legitimate businesses by presenting false documentation. They primarily pick employers that don’t scrutinize employment documents, especially in the construction, restaurant, delivery service, and landscaping industries.

Obama Slashes Border Security

Editor’s Note – This topic is apparently so beaten to death that no one in the Department of Homeland Security or at the Justice Department wants to talk about it from this point forward and that includes the money allocated from Appropriations. If there are any non-believers out there that think Washington DC does not care about the Southern Border and the associated corruption and failed national security interests, then just spend one full day on the border, but bring along your own security.

Technology, humanitarian aid, and financial military support goes to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the billions of dollars but this White House has decided to trim the border security at our Southern border by half when it comes to assets and construction of the fence. Sure, it does not need to be a physical fence, but understand there are hundreds of miles exposed with no line of demarcation. The bottom line is, any borders with no protection of any sort is a failure of national security.

Please read the two articles below:

Obama Has Halved Spending on Border Fencing, Infrastructure, Technology–Leaving 1,300 Miles of Mexico Border Unfenced

By Edwin Mora

CNS News

(CNSNews.com) – The Obama administration has slashed spending on border fencing, infrastructure and technology, cutting it by more than half since it peaked under President George W. Bush in fiscal 2008, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

In 2008, according to GAO, the federal government spent more than $1.3 billion on border security fencing, infrastructure and technology. In 2011, it spend $573 million.

Meanwhile, Customs and Border Protection has said that as of June it had fenced only 649 miles of the nearly 1,954-mile-long U.S.-Mexico border–leaving more than 1,300 miles of that border unfenced.

The November 2011 GAO report refers to this category of federal spending by the acronym BSFIT.

“Over $4.7 billion has been appropriated for BSFIT activities from fiscal years 2007 through 2011,” it says.

The report breaks the figure down for the five consecutive fiscal years (the 12-month period from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 of the following year) – $1.188 billion for FY2007, $1.303 billion for FY2008, $845 million for FY2009, $800 million for FY2010 and $573 million for FY2011.

Over that period, the annual appropriations for border security therefore peaked in FY2008 under President Bush and declined to its lowest level in FY2011 under President Obama.

“An across-the-board cut to DHS appropriations of 0.2 percent reduced the BSFIT appropriation to $573 million [in fiscal 2011],” notes the GAO. The report added that some of the annual appropriations covered in the report do not expire at the end of the fiscal year for which they were allotted.

The report also stated that last January, “after 5 years and a cost of nearly $1 billion,” the DHS ended the Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet) – also known as the virtual fence – “because it did not meet cost-effectiveness and viability standards.”

“DHS is developing a successor plan to secure the Southwest border called the Alternative (Southwest) Border Technology plan,” the report adds. “The plan’s first phase is the Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan, which also includes a mix of radars, sensors, and cameras.” It is expected to cost about $1.5 billion over 10 years.

Explaining how the appropriations have been directed, the report said that in November 2005 the DHS initiated the Secure Border Initiative (SBI), described as “a multiyear, multibillion-dollar effort aimed at securing U.S. borders and reducing illegal immigration.”

Under the SBI, the DHS’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) implemented the following programs:

  • SBI Network (SBI): radars, sensors, and cameras along 53 miles of Arizona’s 376-mile border with Mexico;
  • Northern Border Program: cameras, radars, and operations centers along the border with Canada;
  • Tactical Communications Modernization: an upgrade to the CBP communications systems; and
  • Tactical Infrastructure – fences, roads, and lighting along the southwest border.

According to the CBP, as of the end of June 2011 it had completed 649 miles of pedestrian and vehicle fencing along the approximately 2,000 mile-long Southwest border.

“A total of 350 miles of primary pedestrian fence has been constructed, while the final total of vehicle fence (the project was officially completed on January 8, 2010) was 299 miles,” it says.

A “primary pedestrian fence” is aimed at preventing the illegal passage of people while a “vehicle fence” is focused on stopping the unauthorized passage of vehicles.

“Their placement depends on the threat at the location and the operational needs of law enforcement,” CBP says.

CBP is responsible for securing a total of 8,607 miles of the U.S. border, including about 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, approximately 4,000 miles of the U.S.-Canada border, plus sectors of coastline in the Gulf of Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

As of the end of fiscal 2010, the U.S. government had established “effective control” over 1,107 miles of the 8,607 miles it is responsible for securing – 69 miles along the northern border, 873 on the U.S.-Mexico border and 165 miles in coastal sectors.

Less than half of the southwest border and less than two percent of the northern border are therefore under “effective control.” The term applies to those areas where the U.S. government can be “reasonably” be expected to intercept illegal cross-border activity

The Holes Found in U.S. Border Fence Technology

After 20 years and billions of dollars, securing the southern border remains a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Why is it so hard to build a fence that works?

Popular Mechanics

By Dan Koeppel

As lines in the sand go, this steel structure is designed to be the toughest on earth to cross. The 15-foot-high fence extends west of Nogales into the Arizona desert, undulating and curving as it follows the border with Mexico. South of the fence, hillside houses rise beyond a hundred-yard-wide no man’s land. Some houses contain migrant laborers who will try—perhaps even tonight—to cross this line. A pickup truck makes its way up a gravel cut that zigzags across a hillside on the Mexican side. “He’s watching us,” says Border Patrol agent Mario Escalante. “He’s trying to gather intelligence—and so are we.”

This kind of fence—one of about a dozen different barrier types found along the southern border—has a name that sounds like something the Army would give its brawniest tank: the anti-ram. From a distance, it looks like an array of dark-colored vertical blinds.

On closer inspection, the slats reveal themselves to be steel pipes 4 inches in diameter filled with concrete poured around interior skeletons of rebar. The fence is modular, built in segmented panels 8 feet wide and sunk 6 feet into the ground.

One manufacturer claims it would take two men, each with a power saw, nearly 40 minutes to cut a 2-foot-wide hole in its anti-ram fencing, and they’d need to carry additional fuel and extra blades to do it. And if the fence’s name invokes images of an impenetrable barrier to powerful machines, it should—some anti-ram fences are designed to withstand a 40-mph impact by a 10,000-pound vehicle. Such defensive measures don’t come cheap: The average cost of vehicle fencing is $1 million per mile.

For more than 20 years, politicians from both parties have held the same basic position on the nation’s frontiers. “First, the United States must secure its borders,” President George W. Bush said on May 15, 2006. “This is a basic responsibility of a sovereign nation.” President Obama noted on April 29, 2010: “It is the federal government’s responsibility to enforce the law and secure our borders. . . .”

Few political leaders have disagreed with these sweeping sentiments. And polls show that about 60 percent of Americans are in favor of a barrier that they believe will curb illegal immigration, drug smuggling and terrorists.

Since 1990, the U.S. has barricaded about 650 miles of the nearly 2000-mile border with everything from rudimentary barbed wire to fencing made of Army surplus helicopter landing mats to three-sided steel barriers that look like bulked-up versions of the tritons that littered the World War II beaches of Normandy. More recent designs include concrete and steel bollards—vehicle-stopping posts similar to the kind found at entrances to government buildings, office towers and shopping malls. Some of the most expensive barriers—remotely operated surveillance systems—have been deployed in several field tests but with disappointing results.

Despite all the time, effort and money spent on both physical and virtual fences, about 175,000 migrants, mostly coming for work, made it past existing barriers in 2008. After decades of effort, bipartisan consensus and billions of dollars, America’s southern border seems as permeable as ever. And the frustrated American public wants to know: What’s so hard about building a fence?

At the headquarters of the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector, in a room filled with video monitors, agents play for me a recording made two weeks ago, in early January. The incident began with a hit from a motion sensor buried 50 miles south in the Sonoran Desert.

Read the rest here: Popular Mechanics