Misreading and Misleading
Glenn Spencer
American Border Patrol
April 27, 2007


According to a report by the Associated Press, "Congress has approved 700 miles of fence for the border and has allowed officials to decide whether to build metal fences or virtual walls." It goes on to say, "Aguilar expects most of the distance will be covered by the virtual barrier, with metal walls kept to a minimum."

The report implies that Aguilara believes the Secure Fence Act of 2006 gives the Secretary of Homeland Defense the option of building a physical fence or a "virtual fence." He is wrong

What does the Act say? (Click here to see the entire act)


This Act may be cited as the `Secure Fence Act of 2006'.


(a) In General- Not later than 18 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall take all actions the Secretary determines necessary and appropriate to achieve and maintain operational control over the entire international land and maritime borders of the United States, to include the following--

(1) systematic surveillance of the international land and maritime borders of the United States through more effective use of personnel and technology, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, ground-based sensors, satellites, radar coverage, and cameras; and

(2) physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful entry by aliens into the United States and facilitate access to the international land and maritime borders by United States Customs and Border Protection, such as additional checkpoints, all weather access roads, and vehicle barriers.

(b) Operational Control Defined- In this section, the term `operational control' means the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband.

(c) Report- Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act and annually thereafter, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report on the progress made toward achieving and maintaining operational control over the entire international land and maritime borders of the United States in accordance with this section.


Section 102(b) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-208; 8 U.S.C. 1103 note) is amended--

(1) in the subsection heading by striking `Near San Diego, California'; and

(2) by amending paragraph (1) to read as follows:


`(A) REINFORCED FENCING- In carrying out subsection (a), the Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide for [at] least 2 layers of reinforced fencing, the installation of additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors--

(Typo or loophole? We assume that the omission of "at" before "least" is a typo and not a loophole, for that would be just too sinister)

This section of the bill states

`(C) EXCEPTION- If the topography of a specific area has an elevation grade that exceeds 10 percent, the Secretary may use other means to secure such area, including the use of surveillance and barrier tools.'.

Since a virtual fence can be installed nearly anywhere regardless of elevation grade, this clause can only mean that the Secretary can use means, other than 2 layers of reinforced fencing, only when the grade is such that the construction of such fencing is too difficult, i.e., the grade exceeds 10 percent.

Also, the Act says the Secretary shall provide for [at] least 2 layers of reinforced fencing. The Secure Fence Act leaves the Secretary no option but to build the fence. The open-borders crowd at DHS is misreading the Act so as to avoid stopping illegal immigration.

The physical fence works. This has been proven in San Diego. There is no guarantee that a virtual fence would work. It stops no one. The cameras and other devices may report that a group of illegal aliens crossed the border and give their location, but it is another thing entirely to intercept and apprehend them. Once across the border, aliens on foot can follow any one of thousands of deep washes or mountain passes that run north and south that are not accessible by roads. Agents must pursue them on foot, or, possibly horseback.

This video clip is just a small sample of this kind of problem. In it a Border Patrol camera spots a group of 40 or more entering the U.S. through the Huachuca Mountains. An agent responds by saying it will be at least thirty minutes before he can respond. The incident occurred at about 4 am Friday, April 27. This sort of thing goes on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Let us assume that the entire border is covered by a virtual fence and that 95% of all border crossers are detected and identified. Then what? It would probably take more than 50,000 agents to chase down and apprehend all illegal aliens trying to enter the U.S. illegally.

If "Operational Control" is achieved, i.e., "prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States" then after a while, people would simply stop trying. After all, if their chances of success are very slim, the effort would be a waste of time and money. What then? We would have 50,000 Border Patrol Agents sitting around with nothing to do. Who would want that job? Who would want to pay them for doing nothing?

More importantly, how are we going to know if the virtual fence is working? Who will tell us how many illegal aliens are being stopped? The DHS? David Aguilar? Border Patrol Agents have voted no confidence in that man (see Rift between Border Patrol agents, leadership widens).

As Congress begins to take up the immigration issue, it must have accurate and honest reports as to the progress the Secretary of Homeland Security is making in gaining "Operational Control " of the border. American Border Patrol 's Operation B.E.E.F. is designed to provide an independent assessment of that progress. It deserves your support.