Border Security: Hard to Achieve, and Harder to Measure

Border Security: Hard to Achieve, and Harder to Measure

"Republicans demanding more fencing rarely mention that here, along hundreds of miles of a twisting river border with farms and parks on its edge, such an approach would mean seizing private property, damaging the environment and spending billions.

It is increasingly clear to those who live along the boundary with Mexico — or who try to protect it — that there is no such thing as a completely secure border, just as there are no cities without crime. Even in areas with towering walls and drones or helicopters overhead, border security can be breached.

The international divide is not a line or a series of doors to be locked and guarded, they argue. It is more like a 2,000-mile shoreline with ever-changing currents of migration, legitimate trade and smuggler tactics. The challenge evolves season to season. In Texas, where the border moves with the flooding of the Rio Grande, smugglers have started using fake Halliburton trucks to drive through areas where the company services oil fields. In San Diego, a few hundred migrants a year now arrive by boat, while the imposing fences that cost $16 million per mile are regularly overcome with ladders rented out for $35 a climb.

“The U.S. border with Mexico is better controlled than at any time in our history,” said Robert C. Bonner, who served under President George W. Bush as the commissioner of the United States Customs and Border Protection. But, he said, there is a lack of understanding among policy makers and the public about the challenge. “The terrain can be quite different depending on what part of the border you are talking about, and there are different ways, different tactics really, that need to be brought into play,” he said. “And this requires almost mile-by-mile analysis.”" - New York Times, Mar, 3, 2013.