By John Allen
The Trump administration is now halfway through its tenure and one of the primary issues for Trump and his supporters is border security. This highly contentious immigration issue has proponents and opponents on both sides of the aisle; many of whom are extremely vocal and emotional on this issue.
Donald Trump the candidate ran on a strong borders policy with his daily campaign chant of “Build the Wall”. For most of his supporters, the border issue became number one on their priority list.
However, the actual complexity of securing the US/Mexico border is fraught with unbelievably difficult logistical challenges. They are cost constraints and political challenges. In defense of his ambitious plans to build a wall, Trump cited Israel as a case in point.
Back in 2006, Israel suffered a massive influx of undocumented migrants from the extremely poor countries of Eritrea, Sudan, and neighboring countries. They were smuggled in by Bedouin ‘coyotes’, and dropped off in the Sinai desert to make their way into Israeli cities, suburbs, and neighborhoods. Most of these undocumented migrants were not Jew and therefore not subject to the Israeli Law of Return.
To deal with this challenge, in 2010, Israel began construction of a wall between itself and Egypt. The 170-mile stretch was completed within 4 years. The wall is 25 feet high in certain places and is constructed of steel. More importantly, the wall is under surveillance with multiple sophisticated electronic sensors, detection technology, and hi-tech cameras to ensure that breaches are reported to border security so that agents can be dispatched to the scene. These border security measures stem the influx of undocumented peoples from the outside into Israel but also present a political hot potato for the government vis-à-vis the undocumented peoples who are currently within the country’s borders.
Israel is currently home to an estimated 40,000 Eritrean and Sudanese citizens who are now in Israel as undocumented immigrants. It’s an ongoing issue in Israel. According to the Netantahu government, the Israeli wall is working to keep those who Israel does not want out of their country.
Will this wall work for Trump and his vision to keep unwanted migrants out of the USA?
Let’s take a deeper look……
How Did Israel Begin Construction of The Wall with Egypt?
According to the Israeli authorities, an estimated 100 – 200 migrants from Africa crossed over into Israel weekly. This led to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to propose a state-of-the-art border wall equipped with surveillance systems to keep out these undocumented people out of Israel.
The cost of the project (1 billion shekels) was considered a small price to pay for Israel’s sovereignty and security. Besides preventing unwanted undocumented migrants from crossing into Isael, the fence is also a deterrent against bad actors.
The 170-mile border fence was built in 2 areas; around Gaza for 30 miles and north of Eilat for another 30 miles, et al. The fence will be fully equipped with radar and electronic surveillance devices as well as barbed wire. The Egyptians signed onto the agreement with Israel and also started building underground steel walls between Egypt and Gaza to prevent the illicit operations taking place in underground tunnels between Gaza and Egypt. Intense Israeli and US pressure on Egypt to curb illicit activity made it possible for increased security measures to be implemented.
What Technological Border Solutions Were Created by Israel?
The US president is determined to secure funding for a border wall. He believes the challenge with gang violence, undocumented workers, and keeping out those who come from NON-like minded cultures can be solved by securing the southern border with Mexico.
Opponents to the Trump Vision of America say it’s just code for slowing down the browning of the USA as internal demographics are rapidly changing in the USA from being overwhelmingly Euro-Anglo culture (92% non-Hispanic White 1970) to a new beige culture that is set to be the majority by 2050 (63% non-Hispanic White in 2012 and shrinking fast). Opponents say obvious evidence of this racial bias is the NO plan for US/Canadian Wall; an Anglo country that actually has a larger border with USA than Mexico.
Nevertheless, the length of the border with Mexico is 1,900 miles and the fence/wall is expected to reach up to 16 meters high in certain places. The wall itself will require 1,000 miles of new construction. To get his vision completed, Trump will need to call on the contractors to implement his massive wall project.
Now it’s well known that Trump has a an extremely close relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This is well documented. To support his vision, Trump routinely invokes the Israel as a success example when it comes to border security.
Various Israeli defense and security companies are operating on the cutting edge with smart technology and vying for the Trump wall business. Will American taxpayers approve of using his Israeli friends as contractors? Opponents and some of his allies say that he will have to build his wall using local American companies that employ U.S workers and not technologies that come from other countries. Using foreign sources would NOT fit his promise to bring business back to the average worker. Many on Team Trump think that this can be overcome with good communication and proper marketing.
The Great Wall Challenge
The disadvantage of a Trump wall is opacity. A fence is a far more viable solution since border security agents can see what’s going on behind it. Naturally a Trump fence must be equipped with smart technology to alert border security agents to possible breaches. These include sensors underneath the fence, on the fence, and behind the fence. Rapid deployment of these types of fences is sacrosanct since long delays can hamstring a project before it even gains momentum.
Without the use of smart technology, the Trump wall between the US and Mexico is largely null and void since tunnel systems which are largely undetected have been used for decades upon decades. So dealing with the tunnels is a must for Trump’s vision because a simple wall will NOT work. It has to be much more.
Will Israel Be The Supplier of Border Technology the USA?
The Israeli hi-tech enterprise is already providing their technology to countries around the world. The value of their smart technology is that authorities will have real-time information and updates about any breaches taking place on the border wall. Israel’s virtual fence operates in tandem with a physical fence to provide the necessary safeguards for Israeli border security with Egypt.
Radar sensors on high poles facilitate the observation of objects from afar. Many Israeli security companies have been developing powerful monitoring, surveillance, and detection systems to supplement border security. The Gaza border fence is also protected by way of thermal cameras, which can detect infiltrators under any conditions. These include rain, sandstorms, the black of night, snow, and other poor visibility conditions. Undocumented unwanted migrants and others can often have bad intentions, making the case for smart security systems on the border wall.
In the USA case, the overwhelming majority of people are crossing borders without permission because they seek work and/or are running from violence in their own countries. Since there is practically NO legal path for them to cross and meet the demand for their work services, they resort to crossing without permission often running across the border with only the shirt on their backs and no food in their bellies.
The idea is to get an unskilled job which pays 10 times what they would get in their home country and also live in a “safer” place. So the risk is worth it even if that means there is a chance they will be caught by Federal agents and separated from their loved ones including their children.
Moreover, the challenge is NOT coming from the Mexican peoples. That’s old news from pre-2008 recession America. Mexico is actually a solid country with lots of work albeit still lower in wage, however, it’s enough to keep the majority of the workers at home in the country.
The real challenge in 2018 is coming from Central America where thew wages are much lower and living conditions are in very poor shape. It’s the mismanagement of these countries by corrupted systems and profiteers that is causing the new wave of Central American migration to the USA.
Now, let’s be clear, there are some human beings who try to cross borders without permission just because they have bad intentions. But those numbers super low. It’s so low compared to the actual numbers of actual undocumented workers crossing that it’s hard to have a general discussion about this issue because it’s so unbalanced. In fact, undocumented workers generally put in much more hours than a U.S. worker because they are NOT constrained by law because they are “underground”.
It’s not uncommon for an undocumented worker to put in 1.5 times the amount of hours into a job than the documented citizens worker. And they get less than legal wage for their efforts along with paying Social Security taxes using phony tax ID numbers insuring they will never that social security money paid back to them when they are 65.
In short, they are getting the actual short end of the stick legally speaking. It’s actually the profiteers who are winning big by hiring undocumented workers. So they have no incentive to force a change in law to help them get out from the dark underground economy.
To make matters worse, Trump’s biggest red herring claim is that these undocumented workers are taking jobs away from Americans. But the economy has the lowest unemployment in 48 years (3.7%) which is basically full employment.
This means, Americans are already employed. And everyone who wants a job has one. So who’s job are they taking? It’s a clear red herring that does not pass the smell test. Again opponents to Trump’s vision say this is NOT about taking jobs from Americans. It’s simply about race! Plain and Simple!
Nevertheless, in the underground economy, these undocumented worker are making profits for U.S. businesses with the majority causing no harm to anyone. The majority of them are too scared to cause a ruckus because they know they have no recourse and no rights. They live in fear.
Finally, opponents of the Trump vision say giving guest workers permits, collecting taxes and bringing them above ground into the light would be a far less expensive solution and a much more long-term effective way to manage the border and build the bridges to the future that USA will need for the coming generations and global competitive challenges. Moreover, making a commitment investing long term resources, money and American know-how into a Marshall like plan for Central America would go much farther and create a much better world for our kids future than walling us off and hoping citizens of failed countries don’t break in. They say the Trump plan has NO VISION that brings long term success to the USA. However, for Trump, his leadership team and his supporters, the opponents plan for work permits and Marshall Plan investing are NOT on the table. Instead, they prefer a border wall with massive security technology as their preferred choice of control.
What Effect Does the Fence Between Israel and Egypt Have on Undocumented Migrant Numbers and will it work in USA?
Harvard International Review conducted extensive analysis of separation walls and posted their findings in July, 27 2017 post titled Wall of Separation.
Contrary to popular belief, the number of border walls since the Berlin Wall came down has actually quadrupled. Border walls are designed to prevent outsiders from coming in; not to keep insiders from going out.
Many countries have border walls, including the United Kingdom, Norway, Hungary, and Turkey. The Israeli border wall with Egypt has proven successful in stemming a flow of undocumented migrants into the country. The wall took three years to build and cost approximately $400 million. While it spans around 150 – 170 miles – less than a 10th of the US Mexico border wall requirements, the wall/fence is constructed of barbed wire and steel.
The Israeli Ministry of the Interior indicated that in 2011, 17,000 African immigrants breached Israeli borders. By 2013, that number was just 43 illegal immigrants. Israeli border security is also bolstered by various laws that make it difficult for undocumented peoples to cash out through sending money overseas or through receiving their payments.
It is increasingly difficult for undocumented migrants to transfer money abroad. There are laws preventing them from taking this action within Israel. Overall, these actions result in significantly reduced undocumented immigration into Israel. Israel is seen as less appealing to these migrants.
One of the biggest challenges for the Trump wall is the enormity of the project. By the time immigration officials, customs and border patrol agents can respond, the security breaches have already occurred and the undocumented migrants are already in the US. Patrolling such a wall is a huge significant undertaking. It is fraught with economic, manpower, and political challenges.
It is not just the actual wall, fence, or smart technology that is applied – it’s the political willpower, the human resources, and the capital needed to finance this type of project. Besides for an above ground barrier such as a fence or a wall, the Trump would also have to implement additional security systems such as underground barriers to prevent illegal operations with smuggling tunnels and drug cartels.
The Current State of the US-Mexico Border Wall
The US Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen recently visited Israel and inspected its border wall with Egypt. Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu publicly backed president Trump on his ideas for a border wall and was in turn met with glowing praise from the US leader.
According to the Nielsen, …’Border security is national security. Our Israeli partners know that better than anyone and I was fortunate today to see the incredible work they’re doing to keep their territory and citizens safe.‘
Clearly, the Israeli paradigm is bearing fruit. The border security fence between Israel and Egypt ranges between 5m and 8m high (15 feet – 24 feet) and stretches for just over 140 miles.
In March 2018, Trump signed a federal spending bill with a $1.6 billion allocation to pay for 6 months’ worth of work on the border wall with Mexico. It fell far short of the $5 billion Trump wanted in the bill. Convinced they do not have the votes in the Senate to get Trump the money he wants, GOP leaders elected to put off a messy fight over Trump’s signature campaign issue until after the midterms. But with the polls showing mid-term elections could turn the House from Trump Red to Blue points to an even tougher time to get the big $ 25 billion or more Trump wants from the US taxpayers to pay for his vision.
So where can he get the money?
Trump said he would make Mexico pay for it and even use the NAFTA as leverage to get them to pay for it. But recently, NAFTA, the long-standing trade agreement between USA, Canada and Mexico was adjusted and concluded. Trump was able to re-brand the name of the agreement to USMC so that it would be “new”. But there is not much new into the agreement except the normal needed adjustments that a 20 plus year old agreement would naturally require. Nevertheless, there is no mention of Mexico paying for the wall or any path for Mexico to pay for the Trump Wall.
So now for all his campaign chanting, it appears Trump’s call to have Mexico pay for his wall has disappeared from his rhetoric and his supporters have simply forgot about it. So case closed on this funding possibility.
So now what? Will the Congress give him the US Taxpayer funds he needs or not?
At this point, Trump has a very long way to go to implement his Trump Wall vision. But if and when he gets there, will he choose to use Israeli companies to supply the technology? And will that be okay with the American taxpayers?
Or should the USA just drop this issue, save billions of taxpayer monies, and give all guest workers permits to work in the USA, collect taxes, and bring everyone above board so no one is forced to hide in the shadows.
As it stands, plenty of work needs to be done to bring US border security in line with what the Israelis, the Brits, the Turks, or the Spaniards are currently doing.
These are tough questions that USA must answer. Time will tell where the USA ends up on this issue.
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