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Watching the ball drop

Watching the ball drop

Happy New Year, or almost anyway! This will be my last blog for 2022 and what a year it’s been. I can honestly say I’ve never been without a topic of discussion every week, usually it’s a hard choice about what I should discuss. This week is no exception, but I’ve decided to talk about the ball being dropped, not the one in Times Square, but the one just south of me here on the border.

Purely speaking as a security topic this is more national security than what I cover. However, I think the security industry could have some important lessons to teach about border security. Right now, you’re probably familiar with the decision to retain the Title 42 policy for now pending more arguments and review in February. You may or may not be upset about that, and you probably should be! But I wouldn’t be surprised, this kind of wishy-washy action is par for the course when it comes to the border.

“What side are you on?” you might think to yourself, and I would say this to you, is the U.S.-Mexico border one of the greatest examples of hypocrisy in this country regarding human rights? Yes. Is it wildly insecure? Also, yes. Border policy is political poison to whoever is foolish enough to touch it, so most don’t. The most memorable addition to the recent annals of border security has been “The Wall”, an incomplete waste of tax dollars that continues to drain money out of the pockets of Arizonans. Outgoing Governor Doug Ducey has made it his mission to waste as many tax dollars as possible (removal of which will cost the state at least another $76 million at last check) in a political stunt to “Finish the wall” by stacking shipping containers in the middle of the desert.

“Is a wall of shipping containers, or any wall an effective deterrent?” is probably your first question. The answer is yes! To several wildlife species that rely on a contiguous habitat between here and Mexico to survive a wall blocking their passage will have disastrous consequences to them. To call the whole affair a debacle is gilding the lily a bit.

Most importantly for the point of this discussion however is that walls don’t work. I know the saying is strong fences make good neighbors, but even in the security world a fence marks the first line of defense, not a solution. Go ask China, which built the largest wall in history and how effective it was at keeping the Mongols out. I’ll give you a hint, the Yuan Dynasty reigned for nearly a century. Mongolians: great with walls, bad with boats.

With our advanced security technology, we should be asking ourselves who is entering our country, and not how many. Wall building is political theater for people like Ducey, who have used their office to ensure a flow of migrant workers to keep their state coffers bolstered.  Can we not leverage advanced facial recognition, detection, and drone patrols as a way of making a border that is both secure and humane? I say this to you as a man who has, on his father’s side alone, both ancestors who fought at George Washington's side to form this nation, and others who, prior to the world wars made their way through the gates at Ellis Island alongside 12 million other immigrants. There a beleaguered clerk would take one tired look at their documents and make an important change in the history of my family, so that “Schauer” became “Showers”.

Let us leverage the systems available to us to make a secure state, and not a security state. We can defend against threat actors and terrorists at our borders, to everyone else, I say only this, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”


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