The Department of Homeland Security secretary, Michael
Chertoff, announced on April Fool’s Day that the Bush administration would waive
all federal environmental and land management laws that open-border activists
had vowed to use to hold up construction of the congressionally mandated fence
on the border with Mexico.
Seemingly good news – however there is more to the story.
Congress passed the Secure Fence Act two years ago requiring nearly 800 miles
of double fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, and Congress further
appropriated (on a bi-partisan vote) the money to build it. Benchmarks in the
Act required 670 miles of the double fence to be completed by now. To date,
less than 10 miles of the double fence have been built.
Another smuggler’s tunnel was discovered this week at the San Diego-Tijuana
border, the busiest legal and illegal border crossing in the world. A dozen
such tunnels have been discovered since 2000 along this particular stretch of
the border. The double fence (thank you Duncan Hunter) is in place there and is
working to deter illegal border crossers.
tunnels are witness to the effectiveness of the fence – they are elaborate and
expensive smuggler construction projects. The smugglers have to build these
tunnels because of the above ground fence, lights, sensors and increased border
patrol agents being used to bring this particular stretch of border under
How elaborate are these tunnels? A tunnel discovered last year near the
border crossing on Otay Mesa ran a half mile, 60 to 80 feet down, and was
constructed using mining technology complete with lights, concrete floor, airconditioning and a railroad track!
No one really knows how many tunnels there are under this or any other part
of the border. The tunnels that have been detected are the result of old
fashioned police surveillance or informants – little did we know there was a
Recently, the State Department announced that the U.S.
(that means you) would allocate $23 million dollars (your money) to Egypt
to help build a border fence between Egypt
and Gaza! Wait, there’s more … the
announcement committed the assistance of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with
new tunnel detecting technology to help stop Palestinian smugglers from
crossing underneath that border.
Press accounts described new tunnel detection technology deployed on a UAV, or Unmanned
Aerial Vehicle, which in an August 2006 test successfully detected a known
smuggler’s tunnel under the border near Douglas, Ariz. This technology has not been
seen since then on the U.S.-Mexico border, but apparently will now be deployed
to the Egypt-Gaza border.
The Egypt-Gaza border issue is vitally important to Israel. Last
year, Hamas led breakthroughs in the makeshift border separating Gaza
from Egypt.Streams of Palestinians were seen on international news accounts desperately
getting food, water and other goods in Egypt that they claimed Israel’s
military prevented them from getting legally in Gaza.
The real story was that Hamas staged the border breaks to cover for an arms buildup
accomplished by smuggling through and under the Gaza border. American military sources estimate that 10 to 20 tunnels perforate the ground under this border. The presence of more sophisticated rockets furnished to Hamas by Iran, now raining down on adjacent Israeli towns, testifies to the success of this border-smuggling operation.
Israeli fears are overblown and that it has the border at Gaza
under control. Congress, however, conditioned military aid to Egypt
this year on a finding by the secretary of state that Egypt
has taken concrete steps to “detect and destroy the smuggling network and
tunnels that lead from Egypt
to Gaza.” Congress backed this
up by withholding $100 million (out of $1.3 billion) of that military
assistance until the secretary so certifies.
that it did not have the capability to “detect” tunnels under the
border with Gaza whereupon the Bush
administration committed $23 million of the military assistance money to deploy
cutting-edge tunnel detection technology, only recently developed by the U.S.
military, to the Gaza border.
So … desperate taxpayers, the good news is that the Bush administration is
finally exhibiting the will to control a border and developing the technology
to “detect and destroy” border smuggling tunnels. The bad
news is – it’s on the Egypt-Gaza border and not also along our own open
border with Mexico.