Are You Ready For That “Virtual Fence”?

posted at 12:27 pm on February 23, 2008 by see-dubya

They seem to have worked some of the software kinks out of Boeing’s “virtual” border fence and Michael Chertoff says it’s ready to install, and may be online this summer. Here’s a sneak preview of our new secure homeland:

Chertoff said the virtual fence already is working.

On Feb. 13, an officer in a Tucson command center — 70 miles from the border — noticed a group of about 100 people gathered at the border. The officer notified agents on the ground and in the air. Border Patrol caught 38 of the 100 people who tried to cross illegally, and the others went back into Mexico, said a Homeland Security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he isn’t authorized to speak publicly.

Good thing they decided to go back. But what if they hadn’t? And while the Border Patrol swarmed on these 100 people, how many other groups took advantage of their distraction to run across elsewhere?

I’m not opposed to this virtual fence technology; in fact it makes a lot of sense–but in the same way an alarm system for your house is a good supplement to strong locks and stout doors. It backs up the first (physical) line of defense and identifies breaches. But on its own, an alarm system or a virtual fence–no matter how sophisticated–doesn’t make me feel much safer. I think it was Ace of Spades who noted that the fence they built around the White House itself is very much the real kind, and that security cameras alone aren’t sufficient to guarantee the President’s security. Even though they’re deemed so for ours.

Now, this 38% arrest rate is (I would think) an improvement over current border patrol capabilities. But what happens when the smugglers and migrants figure out how to evade the towers? As I wrote in my initial look at this technology last June, it seems like a guy in a ghillie suit with a .270 could easily blind our “unblinking eye” any time he wanted to.

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Yeah, it’s 8 months out, and anything could happen. What you can take away from it though is that a McCain vs. Obama race isn’t likely to be the kind of slaughter that many conservatives think, based on the current state of the race.

Big S on February 23, 2008 at 3:39 PM

IT’S NOT OVER TIL ITS OVER (Weekly Standard)

In a general election, there will be some McCain Democrats. Obama Republicans are more of a question, and independents could be either man’s flock. Many general election scenarios remain possible, but, as I reckon it, the only one forecasting a Democratic victory that respects mass-electorate math and state-by-state statistics is a few-point win over McCain that involves McCain getting millions fewer evangelical votes than Bush did in 2004, the Democratic ticket getting as many or more African-Americans as Kerry-Edwards did in 2004, and the sleeping giant Latino vote going decisively against McCain.

Other scenarios for a Democratic win against McCain all pretty much assume that the stubborn post-1996 red state-blue state realities will be changed by a change-agent candidate. Obama generated voter enthusiasm even in Republican Kansas, and he may prove to be a party-realigning candidate, but believing so at this stage requires, well, the audacity of hope.

THINGS WE DON’T KNOW (also Weekly Standard)

And so we can say now with deep and utter assurance that John McCain and his critics will make up completely, make up part way, or snipe at each other from here to November; that Obama and Clinton will make up, if not kiss, or battle each other and fracture their party; that Obama will burn out or melt down or else ride a wave to the White House; that Iraq will help the Democrats, help the Republicans, or become a non-issue; that the economy will improve, collapse, or stumble along in a middling manner; and that stunning and unforeseen developments will or will not occur. Please bear in mind that all of these things are as likely to happen as all of the others, and that until some of them do, no one will have a clue what will happen. Please make no bets until things become clearer. These are the Things We Don’t Know.

CK MacLeod on February 23, 2008 at 4:06 PM

You cant solve any problem that you cannot identify. WE cannot change Mexico’s corruption problems. Only the Mexicans can do that, and they have to want to first. More importantly, they have to understand that the Southwest United States is not Stolen property of Mexico.

As long as the majority of Mexican citizens believe that the wealth and prosperity of Southwest United States legitimately belongs to them and that the United States is denying them what is legitimately theirs they will make no effort to correct their own corruption problem.

Until the majority of American’s understand just how significant the Reconquestia is and what the finical incentive to expedite this Reconquestia is, American’s will continue to a) fight and bicker over how to effectively control their southern borders (or whether it really needs to be done at all), and b) what the actual causation of the wave after wave of illegal immigration is.

Because of the true nature of the problem there are three key issues that need to be dealt with.

1. Supply
2. Demand
3. Causation

1. Supply refers to the ability of Mexican citizens to illegally enter the United States. Currently the supply is virtually inexhaustible. And there is virtually nothing being done to halt eliminate or obstruct that supply.

The solution to problem number one, it to eliminate the free flow of illegal human traffic between the US and Mexico. Which is actually easier done than said. It only required four things to accomplish.

1. The political will to act.
2. Complete closure of the US Mexican border.
3. Construction of a physical barrier complement by electronic surveillance of that physical barrier.

Steps 2 and 3 are relatively simple and nearly self explanatory.

Step number one is the problem. Apparently no matter how loudly or with a single voice the American public speaks our elected representatives have zero intentions of enacting the publics will.

2. Demand. The solution to the demand problem is quite simple. Make the hiring of any illegal immigrant a felony, regardless of prior knowledge of immigration status. The demand aspect solves itself.

3. Causation. The US Government needs to understand the the causation of illegal immigration specifically from Mexico not purely financially motivated. That there is a profoundly mistaken and intentionally nurtured national pride aspect to this problem.

The financial motivation is unmistakably the prime motivation, but it is also driven by an undercurrent of belief that derives from the mistaken and intentionally fostered belief that the Southwest United States legitimately belongs to Mexico and was stolen from Mexico.

As long as this mistaken belief persists Mexican citizens will continue to regard US immigration laws as having no genuine legal standing.

doriangrey on February 23, 2008 at 4:36 PM

There’s an ugly fact that the open border advocates here willfully overlook, REAL FENCES WORK. Anyone here ever hear of a prison with a ‘virtual fence’? Doriangrey has it right, there is no real threat with this virtual fence system. The Mexicans will still come across like the hoards of wildebeest crossing the river in Africa knowing that so many are going to be taken by crocodiles. The risk factor is acceptable to them. The virtual fence is the border equivalent of those cheesy car alarms that go off with twelve different sounds repeating over and over like urban warblers in the night. It is a condescending distraction to patronize those who believe that a country without sovereignty is no longer a country but a squatters paradise.

petit bourgeois seems to be the only one in the country who knows that the H2b visa has no limits on how many people can get them. It exposes the lie of those who say the system needs to be changed to allow more workers. The reason that it is not used more is that these illegal invaders DO NOT WANT TO BE LEGAL! Why should they? If you think about it, there are significant advantages to coming into this country, using a false ID or many false ID’s, working under the table not paying taxes, and if you get caught doing something illegal, simply disappear and change ID’s again if you get released. I saw on a TV news story where one woman was using seven different ID’s and collection seven different welfare checks from different counties. I know this is happening here in San Diego.

That woman who recently killed four kids in a school bus accident in Minnesota is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. They know she’s from mexico but they also know she is lying about her real name. If they let her go, she will go back to mexico, get a new consular matricula card with another name, (they don’t ask for ID when they issue one in mexico), and she’ll be back with blond hair and a new identity and the only way they will ever catch her is if she gets arrested again and they do a fingerprint check.

Bikerken on February 23, 2008 at 4:40 PM

It’s called….”Privatizing the profits…..Socializing the costs”!
DfDeportation on February 23, 2008 at 3:16 PM

Df, this is exactly the heart of the matter. Those who advocate the open borders policy are essentially condoning a slavery light. A lot of these people are directly or indirectly profiting from it. I see that most construction contractors here in San Diego have gone to using almost exclusivly illegal immigrant labor. It’s about a third of the cost of using regular American labor and they pocket the profit. Of course the job quality sucks and you have other probles. My buddy had a second story put onto his house in Point Loma. He had framers, drywallers, carpeters, and plumbers working on the project all using day laborers. One night he went out to dinner and came home, both of his Harley Davidsons were stolen.
Bikerken on February 23rd, 2008 at 5:08 pm

Bikerken on February 23, 2008 at 5:10 PM

If your car has anti-lock brakes, an air bag, or stability control you are trusting computers for your safety. Depending its embedded systems you a probably trusting computers just to get it to start.

dedalus on February 23, 2008 at 3:33 PM

True, but I don’t expect a hacker or an AK57 to disable my car.

pocomoco on February 23, 2008 at 5:20 PM

well good thing everyone will ‘decide’ to turn back once they know they’ve been spotted, right? Right? Pardon my while I lobotomize the part of my brain that remembers countless videos of illegals caught on the night vision running their ass off into AZ after realizing they’ve been spotted.
If we are only going to use a virtual fence we can only expect virtual enforcement. I don’t blame the border agents. There simply aren’t enough of them. We need some kind of barrier if the virtual fence is going to be the main deterrent. Even a 20 ft chain link with the holes filled in (or better yet, electrified. With solar energy to satify the Gore crowd) is better than NOTHING but a virtual fence.

MannyT-vA on February 23, 2008 at 5:36 PM

We need to punish employers who hire these people. We need to punish the illegals. Problem fixed.

SouthernGent on February 23, 2008 at 5:59 PM

Chertoff said the virtual fence already is working.
On Feb. 13, an officer in a Tucson command center — 70 miles from the border — noticed a group of about 100 people gathered at the border.

Well, if Chertoff says it is working, I guess we have nothing to worry about. Can we see some other examples of success, please? Or is this the one example worth crowing about?
I mean really, our fabulous wonderfence detected a group of about 100. Does it do as well at detecting smaller groups? If you’re going to dash across the border in those kind of numbers, might as well carry a sign that says “We’re over here getting ready to cross! Arrest us!”

When we hear that a BP agent 70 miles from the border consistently spots groups of a dozen or so and consistently intercepts them, and sombody other than Chertoff praises the system, I’ll ride shotgun on the bandwagon. Til then, Phbbbttt.

innominatus on February 23, 2008 at 6:00 PM

Armed MAPSANDS units would work better.

Rigel on February 23, 2008 at 6:26 PM

Seems to me that 700 miles of serpentine barbed wire would be a lot cheaper and a lot more effective than any “virtual fence”!!!

Minimal engineering and installation costs, too!!!

Of course this solution is much too simple, direct, and effective for a government to handle…or a politician to understand!

landlines on February 23, 2008 at 7:31 PM

Seems to me that 700 miles of serpentine barbed wire would be a lot cheaper and a lot more effective than any “virtual fence”!!!

Minimal engineering and installation costs, too!!!

Of course this solution is much too simple, direct, and effective for a government to handle…or a politician to understand!

landlines on February 23, 2008 at 7:31 PM

This being a self evident fact, it makes you wonder what our elected officials are really trying to do.

doriangrey on February 23, 2008 at 7:43 PM

This being a self evident fact, it makes you wonder what our elected officials are really trying to do.

doriangrey on February 23, 2008 at 7:43 PM

This is a post by a guy named Jon Sandor which I found on another site, I forget which one, but it speaks for itself, it’s long, sorry about that, but it’s VERY revealing:

1. When I aided the foreign relations of presidential candidate and president-elect Vicente Fox back in 1999 and 2000, I met with almost 80 U.S. congressmen and senators during numerous trips and at several events. With just over 50 of them, my colleagues and I spoke about immigration in some depth, as it is one of the important bilateral topics. My findings were reported in a Backgrounder published by the Center for Immigration Studies called “Politics by Other Means.”1 It is a dense and academic paper, but the basic finding was: Indeed, American politicians are overwhelmingly pro-immigration, for a variety of reasons, and they do not always admit this to their constituents. Of those 50 legislators, 45 were unambiguously pro-immigration, even asking us at times to “send more.” This was true of both Democrats and Republicans.
These empirical findings seemed to confirm what some analysts without that level of access termed as a political “perfect storm” of widespread political-elite support for immigration despite its general unpopularity with the average American. The paradox is that immigration is the only issue (perhaps besides trade policy) that represents a notorious discrepancy between elite and popular opinion in the United States.2 But this contradicts the established conventional wisdom of a representative democracy such as the United States. If mass immigration from Latin America has debatable benefits for the United States as a whole, if a majority of the American people is against it, and if immigrants cannot vote until they become naturalized (which can take years after their arrival), why would nine-tenths of the legislators we spoke with be so keen on increasing immigration?
Before these encounters, I believed that it was a problem of either diffusion of responsibility, “creeping non-decision,” or collective rationalization with those legislators, but that was dispelled the more of them we met. Most of them seemed to be aware of the negative or at least doubtful consequences of mass immigration from Latin America, while still advocating mass immigration.3
The familiar reasons usually discussed by the critics were there: Democrats wanted increased immigration because Latin American immigrants tend to vote Democrat once naturalized (we did not meet a single Democrat that was openly against mass immigration); and Republicans like immigration because their sponsors (businesses and churches) do. But there were other, more nuanced reasons that we came upon, usually not discussed by the critics, and probably more difficult to detect without the type of access that we, as a Mexican delegation, had.
Of a handful of motivations, one of the main ones (even if unconscious) of many of these legislators can be found in what the U.S. Founding Fathers called “usurpation.” Madison, Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and others devised a system and embedded the Constitution with mechanisms to thwart the “natural” tendency of the political class to usurp power ─to become a permanent elite lording over pauperized subjects, as was the norm in Europe at the time. However, the Founding Fathers seem to have based the logic of their entire model on the independent character of the American folk. After reviewing the different mechanisms and how they would work in theory, they wrote in the Federalist Papers that in the end, “If it be asked, what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer: the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America …”4 With all his emphasis on reason and civic virtue as the basis of a functioning and decentralized democratic polity, Jefferson speculated whether Latin American societies could be governed thus.5
While Democratic legislators we spoke with welcomed the Latino vote, they seemed more interested in those immigrants and their offspring as a tool to increase the role of the government in society and the economy. Several of them tended to see Latin American immigrants and even Latino constituents as both more dependent on and accepting of active government programs and the political class guaranteeing those programs, a point they emphasized more than the voting per se. Moreover, they saw Latinos as more loyal and “dependable” in supporting a patron-client system and in building reliable patronage networks to circumvent the exigencies of political life as devised by the Founding Fathers and expected daily by the average American.
Republican lawmakers we spoke with knew that naturalized Latin American immigrants and their offspring vote mostly for the Democratic Party, but still most of them (all except five) were unambiguously in favor of amnesty and of continued mass immigration (at least from Mexico). This seemed paradoxical, and explaining their motivations was more challenging. However, while acknowledging that they may not now receive their votes, they believed that these immigrants are more malleable than the existing American: That with enough care, convincing, and “teaching,” they could be converted, be grateful, and become dependent on them. Republicans seemed to idealize the patron-client relation with Hispanics as much as their Democratic competitors did. Curiously, three out of the five lawmakers that declared their opposition to amnesty and increased immigration (all Republicans), were from border states.
Also curiously, the Republican enthusiasm for increased immigration also was not so much about voting in the end, even with “converted” Latinos. Instead, these legislators seemingly believed that they could weaken the restraining and frustrating straightjacket devised by the Founding Fathers and abetted by American norms. In that idealized “new” United States, political uncertainty, demanding constituents, difficult elections, and accountability in general would “go away” after tinkering with the People, who have given lawmakers their privileges but who, like a Sword of Damocles, can also “unfairly” take them away. Hispanics would acquiesce and assist in the “natural progress” of these legislators to remain in power and increase the scope of that power. In this sense, Republicans and Democrats were similar.
While I can recall many accolades for the Mexican immigrants and for Mexican-Americans (one white congressman even gave me a “high five” when recalling that Californian Hispanics were headed for majority status), I remember few instances when a legislator spoke well of his or her white constituents. One even called them “rednecks,” and apologized to us on their behalf for their incorrect attitude on immigration. Most of them seemed to advocate changing the ethnic composition of the United States as an end in itself. Jefferson and Madison would have perhaps understood why this is so ─enthusiasm for mass immigration seems to be correlated with examples of undermining the “just and constitutional laws” they devised.
One leading Republican senator over a period of months was advising us, through a mutual acquaintance, about which mechanisms to follow and which other legislators to lobby in order to ensure passage of the amnesty proposal. In the meantime, he would speak on television about the need to “militarize” the border. This senator was recently singled out by a taxpayer’s advocacy group as a leader in “pork”-related politics.
Comment by Jon Sandor

Bikerken on February 23, 2008 at 8:15 PM

That should help stop all those virtual people crossing the border.

jed58 on February 23, 2008 at 9:31 PM

Some would rather sell their country into Balkanization, chaos, and ultimate national suicide for a short-term buck.

Some are politicians, some business people.

All of them are traitors.

Aiding infil-traitors.

It will take a nuke or bio-WMD before the dozing populace wakes and shakes these rats out of the branches of the Tree of Liberty.

And shoves their virtual fences up their literal a$$es.

profitsbeard on February 23, 2008 at 10:07 PM

The Mexican Border,I could be wrong,but:

After the 911 attack,it appeared to me that both sides of
the political spectrum wanted the border secured,days and weeks after the Twin Towers.

Both sides were a little uneasy at the prospect,and rightly
so.Then we get reports from FBI,that their are over-do visas
of foreign visitors,then more ominious feelings,2000 or so
visitors are unaccounted for in the country!

It amazes me from days,weeks,and months after 911,that the
fear of unknown,who was still in America that could do harm!

And unlike Republicans,Liberals don’t seem to concerned that
some bad guys could get mixed up in the illagal Mexicans
crossing the border,how comforting.

canopfor on February 23, 2008 at 10:13 PM

canopfor on February 23, 2008 at 10:13 PM
For liberals there are no bad guys unless they are conservatives. Remember, this countries policies fostered 9/11, only through hope and change can true democracy bloom in the land of true oppression. Only after this transition can we be pround of America!

dmann on February 23, 2008 at 10:25 PM

You actually have deluded yourself into thinking that anyone we talk to or about has very much to do with why Illegal immigration goes on essentially unabated.

ohn Gay’s Unholy Alliance
‘Big Immigration’ Terrorizes Washington
Published 05.31.06
By Tara Servatius

His name is John Gay and at the moment he’s the most feared man in Washington.

Politicians are so freaked out by Gay that a sizable segment of the Republican Party, including the president, is willing to risk the party’s control of Congress after this fall’s elections to keep him happy.

If Gay gets his way, within 15 years the GOP will have a hard time winning a presidential race again because the 60 million largely Hispanic immigrants Gay wants to bring to this country vote Democratic at least 60 percent of the time. Yet the GOP is still struggling to decide — Gay or the future of the party?

The Global Elite: Who are they?

There are two common misconceptions held by those who are critical of globalism.

The first error is that there is a very small group of people who secretly run the world with all-powerful and unrestrained dictatorial powers. The second error is that there is a large amorphous and secret organization that runs the world. In both cases, the use of the word “they” becomes the culprit for all our troubles, whoever “they” might be. If taxes go up, it is “they” that did it. If the stock market goes down, “they” are to blame. Of course, nobody really knows who “they” are so a few figureheads (people or organizations) are often made out to be the scapegoats.

Speakup on February 23, 2008 at 11:10 PM

For Liberals there are no bad guys unless they are consevatives.

dmann on February 23,2008 at 10:25PM.

Dmann:Amen,I know Liberals literally hate coservatives,
but I wish they were more sympathetic to Americas
secruity,and crazy as it seems,another attack on
the United States——-and full circle, Liberal’s
are back to blame America for the attack,again!

canopfor on February 23, 2008 at 11:41 PM

That should be conservatives,not coservatives!
oh its been a long day!

canopfor on February 23, 2008 at 11:42 PM

Well, I for one will sleep easy tonight!


Grayson on February 23, 2008 at 11:42 PM

A real fence can stand alone, but I do not believe a virtual fence can. The ideal thing would be to have both.

ochiltree on February 24, 2008 at 12:56 AM


The ideal thing would be to have both.

And lasers.

profitsbeard on February 24, 2008 at 1:36 AM

CK MacLeod on February 23, 2008 at 3:09 PM

HA HA!!! Charecterize your own treason as “dissent,” then claim victimization!!

OMG, the marxian element has found its home here. Un-fuc*ing incredible.

How many TRAITORS does it take to destroy a country? Apparently, not too many.

petit bourgeois on February 24, 2008 at 1:48 AM

Why not two fences and signs that say “Danger – Minefield”. And maybe a few mines between the fences.

Claimsratt on February 24, 2008 at 2:20 AM

it seems like a guy in a ghillie suit with a .270 could easily blind our “unblinking eye” any time he wanted to.

Very good and interesting point.

BowHuntingTexas on February 24, 2008 at 10:13 AM

The real problem with illegal immigrants is that both political parties want the immigrants. The Democrats are not breeding more Democrats, and education can only convert so many, leaving the Republicans with a growing advantage. They need those immigrants to keep winning elections.

The Republicans, on the other hand, are afraid of losing those immigrants to the Democrats, and business lobbyists love getting cheap labor, so they also want illegal immigrants.

About the only way to really fix illegal immigration is to come up with some way to ensure that neither party can profit from bringing them in.

theregoestheneighborhood on February 24, 2008 at 9:35 PM

Now, this 38% arrest rate is (I would think) an improvement over current border patrol capabilities. But what happens when the smugglers and migrants figure out how to evade the towers? As I wrote in my initial look at this technology last June, it seems like a guy in a ghillie suit with a .270 could easily blind our “unblinking eye” any time he wanted to.

Hey, I agree. 100% is the only acceptable arrest rate. Until then, no spending on silly anti-Mexican border fences, OK?

Viscount_Bolingbroke on February 24, 2008 at 11:43 PM

Sensors without a physical barrier is not a fence. It’s a sensor net. A ‘nonfence’ in other words.

As far as I’m concerned, a nonfence is nonsense.

Suihei Deloi on February 25, 2008 at 12:51 AM

Any body been to Korea? Go to the 38 parallel “Demililertized Zone (DMZ) and you will see the first virtual boarders in the world.

Load speakers beam the word to the ‘Dear Leader’ telling the people of the North not to leave and those of the South to come and enjoy a better life.

However, hearing Chertoff’s voice for too long would make any sane person want to leave but I have ear plugs and the understanding of what is on the other side to keep me from leaving the country I love, respect, and served for 25 years .

MSGTAS on February 25, 2008 at 9:12 AM

We need to remove the financial incentive for the illegals being here. Employers who hire them and the illegals themselves need to be fined. If the market warrants it then there can be a guest worker program to cover the need but with NO path to citizenship. The path to citizenship should belong only to legal immigrants.

TooTall on February 25, 2008 at 3:33 PM