Column: Invest in technology, not a wall
English: The border fence separating Arizona from Mexico as seen from the Nogales, Arizona side on Sunday, Nov. 20 2016. Some wonder what now that he is elected if Donald Trump will follow through with his plan to build a wall and increase security on the border.
Español: El cerco que separa Arizona de México se ve del lado de Nogales, Arizona el domingo, 20 de noviembre 2016. Algunos se preguntan qué sigue ahora si Donald Trump sigue con su plan de construir un muro y aumentar la seguridad en la frontera.
In the past year talk about border patrol has been a hot-button topic, and Arizona is on the front line of this conversation with its high-tech border security.
Building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border is not a feasible solution to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing the border. The wall will not work because there are ways to get around the wall, whether that is via tunnels, ladders or any other innovative methods of crossing.
Not to mention there are already man-made walls and fences that span the border, along with other natural barriers, and illegal immigrants are still getting through.
This is the 21st century and we should utilize what this generation understands most, technology.
Luckily there are already strategic projects and plans being formulated on a government level to up the border security. Arizona has implemented IFTs—Integrated Fixed Towers—that detect illegal activity at the border.
These IFTs are put up on hills around southern Arizona and are components of the Remote Video Surveillance System.
The tower detects the people trying to cross the border by sensing their body heat.
The IFT takes pictures of the people trying to get over the border and the images are analyzed by the tactical operations center, which is like a control room located at the nearest border patrol station.
When the images are processed, they are sent to the border patrol officers on duty and they take the necessary precautions to stop the illegal immigrants.
These cameras are so precise that they are able to differentiate the different activities of people on the border.
This means that they can tell from the cameras whether the actions that the IFT picks up are a group of armed drug smugglers trying to get across or are simply hikers.
This technology gives the border patrol agents the opportunity to assess the situation before they arrive.
The IFTs make the border patrol jobs much safer because prior to this technology, the agents would have to patrol without knowing who they were approaching, which puts them in potentially harmful situations.
This system is also more efficient because they are able to tell how many agents they need to send for support. Of course there are gaps in the technology that the cameras cannot reach to, but it also works in complicated places that border patrol never had effective patrolling before.
According to the Department of Homeland Security’s environmental assessment, the biggest issue is the construction of the towers which is rated to have a negligible impact on wildlife.
The IFTs are environmentally friendly, as they are powered by solar panels.
Using this technology is a superior alternative to Trump’s wall because the wall will not stop everyone, as it is intended to do, and this technology allows border patrol to see who is crossing before they put themselves in harm’s way.
Rather than investing in a wall, we should invest that money into high-tech border security because it has more capabilities than a wall.
In Arizona, Congresswoman Martha McSally and Senator John McCain have ensured that these technologies will be cost efficient and effective through legislation. This legislation includes the Border Security Technology Accountability Act, which passed unanimously in the House.
The wall is an outdated way to stop illegal immigration. We already have a wall and fences across the border and they still did not stop people from coming across. We should use technology, like the IFTs, that will make the jobs of the border patrol agents safer and more productive.
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