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Homeland Security

"I will build a great, great wall
on our southern border, and
I will make Mexico pay for that wall.
Mark my words.”

Donald Trump

Great Wall of Mexico
US-Mexico Border Fence /

Secure Fence

Donald Trump on 25 January 2017 ordered construction of a wall along the country's southern border with Mexico to thwart illegal migration, and at the same time he confronted hundreds of US cities that have refused to help federal authorities identify and deport undocumented migrants. Trump said construction of the wall would start within months.

“A nation without borders is not a nation,” Trump declared after signing the measures, while speaking to employees at the Department of Homeland Security. “Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders.” The first order calls for the “immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border,” and directs the DHS secretary to take “all appropriate steps to immediately plan, design, and construct” the wall using authority under existing law.

Trump is relying in part on a 2006 law that authorized several hundred miles of fencing along the 2,000-mile frontier. That bill led to the construction of about 700 miles of various kinds of fencing designed to block both vehicles and pedestrians. The Secure Fence Act was signed by then-President George W. Bush, and the majority of that fencing in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California was built before he left office. The last remnants were completed after President Obama took office in 2009.

One of the major forces behind Trump's lengthy run to a four-year term in the White House, was his contention that illegal migrants in the US threaten its security and cost American workers their jobs. At rally after rally during his campaign, his most fervent cheering supporters shouted, "Build that wall!" Trump wanted a wall along the entire 3,200-kilometer length of the US-Mexico border. Currently there was a barrier only along some of the border, although US agents patrol it in vehicles, and monitor it with unmanned drones, infrared video and other means.

Trump frequently vowed that Mexico would pay for the wall, including saying Congress would initially authorize the U.S. government to pick up the cost — possibly $10 billion or more — and be reimbursed later by the Mexican government. Mexico has repeatedly stated it will not pay for the wall.

Donald Trump ended his flirtation with softer immigration policies, declaring 01 September 2016 he would deport millions of undocumented immigrants living in the country and renewing his vow to build a wall on its southern border and make Mexico pay for it. "There will be no amnesty!" leading to citizenship for immigrants already in the U.S., Trump wrote. "Mexico will pay for the wall -- 100%." Trump told an Arizona rally "They don't know it yet, but they're going to pay for the wall". The crowd enthusiastically chanted, "Build that wall!"

“According to federal data, there are at least 2 million, 2 million, think of it, criminal aliens now inside of our country," Trump said. "Two million people, criminal aliens. We will begin moving them out, day one, as soon as I take office." The Migration Policy Institute estimated that there were 820,000 unauthorized immigrants in the United States who had ever been convicted of a crime. Trump's estimate appeared to be including green card holders. Green card holders are legal residents of the US and they number about 13 million people. Including them in a tally of non-citizens with criminal records might account for Trump’s higher figure. About 30 percent of the US adult population is thought to have a police record.

United States president-elect Donald Trump told a press conference 11 January 2017 that construction of a wall on the Mexican border will begin as soon as he takes office. Trump said in response to a question that Mexico “in some form, and there are many different forms, will reimburse us . . . . That will happen, whether it’s a tax or whether it’s a payment — probably less likely that it’s a payment. But it will happen.” He said the wall could wait a year and a half “until we finish our negotiations with Mexico . . . but I don’t want to wait.”

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said 11 January 2017 that he wanted good relations with the incoming Trump administration in the U.S., but he repeated that Mexico would not pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. "All the issues that define our bilateral relationship are on the table, including security, migration and trade," Peña Nieto told a group of ambassadors. But he said Mexico "of course will not pay for" a wall Trump wants to build to help curb illegal immigration into the United States. "At no time will we accept anything that goes against our dignity as a country and our dignity as Mexicans," he said.

“Neither today, nor tomorrow nor never Mexico will pay for that stupid wall. If Trump wants a monument to his ego, let him pay for it!!,” former president Vicente Fox, said.

In 2014, President Obama made removing undocumented immigrants convicted of a felony a top priority for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The number of deportations from the US hit its peak in 2013, with more than 435,000 people being removed from the country, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Almost 200,000 of those people had been convicted of crimes.

Hours earlier, Trump made a quick visit to Mexico City for talks on immigration and other issues with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. US officials believe there are about 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US and Trump's plans could lead to the deportation of more than six million of them, as many as two million who had committed crimes and another 4.5 million who had overstayed their visas to enter the US. Trump left unclear the fate of other immigrants who entered the country without documentation but have not committed crimes.

During the 25 February 2016 presidential debate, Donald Trump repeated his claim that he would make Mexico pay for the wall he has proposed building on the southern US border to curb illegal immigration, and because of objections from Mexican officials on the issue, Trump said, "The wall just got 10 feet higher." A February 2016 Rasmussen poll found 70 percent of Republican voters - and 51 percent of voters overall - support Trump's border wall plan.

On 03 March 2016 the Mexican government said it would not pay for the "terrible" border wall proposed by Trump. In a televised interview, Finance Minister Luis Videgaray gave the first direct government response to the proposal to build a wall along the US-Mexican border to curb illegal immigration, and have Mexico pay for it. "Under no circumstances will Mexico pay for the wall that Mr. Trump is proposing," Videgaray said late Wednesday. He said the idea was "based on ignorance and has no foundation in the reality of North American integration."

Former Mexican president Felipe Calderon responded to Trump's plan, saying "Mexican people, we are not going to pay any single cent for such a stupid wall." Pope Francis also commented on the controversy in February 2016, saying, "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian." Trump said Mexican government officials had misled the pope about the nature of the border wall plan, adding that Francis had "an awfully big wall" around the Vatican.

Trump repeatedly said Mexican leaders take advantage of the United States, "by using illegal immigration to export the crime and poverty in their own country" over the border. Trump estimates the wall will cost about $8 billion to build and says the Mexican government must assume responsibility for the cost. Trump says he will impound remittances derived from illegal wages and increase fees on some temporary visas and border crossing cards until Mexico agrees. Trump often says the cost of the wall is "a tiny fraction of the money" the United States loses to Mexico in trade deficits.

Mexico’s ex-president Vicente Fox spoke out 01 February 2016 against aspiring politician Donald Trump’s hair brain proposal to build a wall separating the two countries, according to BBC Mundo. “I told him: I am not going to pay for this f**** wall,” Fox said during an interview with journalist Jorge Ramos for Univisión.

Felipe Calderon, a conservative who was president of Mexico from 2006 to 2012, told reporters 27 February 2016 that Trump’s political rhetoric was “racist” and evocative of the Nazi dictator. “This logic of praising the white supremacy is not just anti-immigration,” Calderon said. “He is acting and speaking out against immigrants that have a different skin color than he does, it is frankly racist and [he is] exploiting feelings like Hitler did in his time,” Calderon said.

Calderon’s predecessor, Vicente Fox, also compared Trump to Hitler in an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN. “He’s going to take the US back to the old days of conflict, war and everything. I mean, he reminds me of Hitler. That’s the way he started speaking,” Fox told Cooper in a phone interview.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto publicly “condemned” Republican candidate hopeful Donald Trump’s outlandish remarks made about the US’ southern neighbor. Peña Nieto stated that Trump’s statements “are damaging to the relations which Mexico has attempted to establish with the U.S., in the creation of treaties, dialogues and an improvement (in communication), in an attempt to provide solutions for common problems through agreements and shared aims.”

Interviewed by daily Excelsior, the president said “That’s how Mussolini and that’s how Hitler rose to power: they made the most of the context, perhaps, in the form of a problem which humanity was experiencing at that point, afterwards this was through an economic crisis.”

Donald Trump said April 05, 2016 he would force Mexico to pay for a border wall to block the stream of illegal immigrants into the United States by threatening to cut off billions of dollars that Mexicans already in the U.S. send home to family members. Trump's call for a massive, impenetrable wall along the southern US border with Mexico has been a cornerstone of his unexpected surge to the top of the Republican nomination contest, routinely drawing cheers at his campaign rallies from his supporters who want to curb illegal immigration into the country.

But later in the day, President Barack Obama denounced the idea, saying that world leaders "don't expect half-baked notions coming out of the White House."

While Trump is most associated with his build-a-wall proposal, his chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, said his first priority for immigration reform would be to secure the US-Mexican border. Cruz, a conservative firebrand, says he would complete a partially constructed barrier that already exists and triple the number of US border agents.

The US and Mexico share a common border of about 2,000-miles (3,200-km). As of February 10, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security had completed 651 miles of fencing out of nearly 652 miles mandated by Congress, including 299 miles of vehicle barriers and 352 miles of pedestrian fence.

More Mexican immigrants have returned to Mexico from the US than have migrated here since the end of the Great Recession, according to a November 2015 Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from both countries. The same data sources also show the overall flow of Mexican immigrants between the two countries is at its smallest since the 1990s, mostly due to a drop in the number of Mexican immigrants coming to the US. From 2009 to 2014, 1 million Mexicans and their families (including US-born children) left the US for Mexico. From fewer than 1 million living in the United States in 1970, the number of Mexican immigrants peaked at 12.8 million by 2007. The total declined to 11.7 million in 2014.

Pedestrian Fence

Pedestrian Fence Pedestrian Fence

Vehicle Fence

Vehicle Fence Vehicle Fence

In November 2005, DHS announced the launch of the Secure Border Initiative (SBI), a multiyear, multibillion-dollar program aimed at securing U.S. borders and reducing illegal immigration. CBP's SBI program office is responsible for managing the SBI program and for developing a comprehensive border protection system. This system has two main components: SBInet, which employs radars, sensors, and cameras to detect, identify, and classify the threat level associated with an illegal entry into the United States between the ports of entry, and SBI tactical infrastructure (TI), fencing, roads, and lighting intended to enhance U.S. Border Patrol agents' ability to respond to the area of the illegal entry and bring the situation to a law enforcement resolution (i.e., arrest). The current focus of the SBI program is on the southwest border areas between ports of entry that CBP has designated as having the highest need for enhanced border security because of serious vulnerabilities.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, required DHS to complete construction by December 31, 2008, of either 370 miles or other mileage determined by the Secretary, of reinforced fencing along the southwest border wherever the Secretary determines it would be most practical and effective in deterring smugglers and aliens attempting illegal entry. This provision also required the construction of reinforced fencing along a total of not less than 700 miles of the southwest border where fencing would be most practical and effective, but it did not establish a deadline for completion of the full 700 miles. DHS set a goal to complete approximately 670 miles of fencing by December 31, 2008. In December 2008, DHS reported that it planned to complete all but one of the fence projects by March 2009.

A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll indicated the American people favored a proposal to build a 2,000-mile security fence by a 51-to-37 percent margin. The total illegal alien population was estimated by Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge at 8 to 12 million in December 2003, but Lou Dobbs of CNN regularly uses 20 million as a more realistic number of illegal aliens in the US. The sea of illegal aliens provides a cover and an environment in which terrorists can hide, and the tide of in-coming illegal aliens provides terrorists with a reliable means of entry.

As long as the per-capita income differential between the US (over $30,000) and Mexico (less than $4,000) continues to be so wide, it will be difficult to stop immigrants. President Bush's guest-worker proposal would have created a legal means -- a renewable three-year work visa -- for new immigrants to enter the country and take jobs that Americans don't want. Illegal immigrants already living here would become eligible for guest-worker status after paying a fine.

By one estimate each year between 400,000 and 1 million undocumented migrants try to slip across the rivers and deserts on the 2,000-mile (3,200-km) US-Mexico border. In 2005 over 1.2 million illegal immigrants were apprehended by the Border Patrol. By one estimate the Border Patrol catches 1 out of every 4 illegal border crossers, and this is typically the estimate public officials use in discussing the problem. Official Border Patrol statistics are that 1 in 5 illegal aliens are apprehended and arrested. Other estimates suggest it is much higher. These numbers are obviously wildy inconsistent with each other, by as much as an order of magnitude.

Apprehensions along the southern border make up about 97-98% of the total apprehensions. Most of those apprehended near the southern border are Mexicans. Statistics are kept of those apprehended near the southern border who are "Other Than Mexicans" or "OTM's". The number of OTM's apprehended near the southern border has been clearly and dramatically increasing from 28,598 in 2000 to 65,814 in 2004. By another estimate over 155,000 non-Mexican individuals were apprehended trying to enter the United States along the Southwest border in fiscal year 2005.

As of 2005, just over 80 miles of federally enforced barriers and fencing were at strategic points on the border, mainly in Texas and California. Operation Gatekeeper, which sealed much of the San Diego border with 14 miles of fencing and stadium lighting. A 10-foot-tall primary fence made of welded steel was completed in 1993 along a 14-mile section of the border from the Pacific Ocean to the Otay border crossing. Construction of a 14-foot-tall secondary fence about 130 feet north of the existing barrier has been completed except for a section along the last few miles near the beach. A chain-link fence, running along a road, mirrors that secondary fence. The California Coastal Commission voted in February 2004 to deny the project because of erosion concerns.

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Duncan Hunter proposed building two parallel steel and wire fences running from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Coast. Hunter called for building a reinforced, two-layer 15' fence, separated by a 100-yard gap, along the entire length of the US border with Mexico. It would include additional physical barriers, powerful lighting and sensors to detect illegal border crossers. Some envision a wall or a fence. Others foresee a "virtual" fence of cameras, lighting, and sensors along the US-Mexican border.

But Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said a wall running the length of a border would cost too much. A 2,000 mile state-of-the-art border fence has been estimated to cost between four and eight billion dollars. Costs for a wall that would run the entire length of the border might be as low as $851 million for a standard 10-foot prison chain link fence topped by razor wire. For another $362 million, the fence could be electrified. A larger 12-foot tall, two-foot-thick concrete wall painted on both sides would run about $2 billion. Initially it was estimated that the San Diego fence would cost $14 million -- about $1 million a mile. The first 11 miles of the fence eventually cost $42 million -- $3.8 million per mile, and the last 3.5 miles may cost even more since they cover more difficult terrain. An additional $35 million to complete the final 3.5 miles was approved in 2005 by the Department of Homeland Security -- $10 million per mile.

The REAL ID bill conference report contained a provision that would complete the US-Mexico border fence in San Diego. But it went much farther than that. It gives the Department of Homeland security unprecedented and unchecked authority to waive all legal requirements necessary to build such fences, not only in San Diego, but anywhere else along the 2,000 mile border with Mexico and our 4,000 mile border with Canada.

In August 2005 the governors of New Mexico and Arizona declared a state of emergency, saying their states were suffering because the federal government had failed to stem the tide of drug smuggling and illegal immigration. The declarations by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano freed up a combined $2.2 million to eight border counties in those states.

On 14 December 2005 Mexican President Vicente Fox denounced as "disgraceful and shameful" a proposal to build a high-tech wall on the US-Mexico border to stop illegal immigrants. Media reports on 21 December 2005 quoted Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez as saying, " Mexico is not going to bear, it is not going to permit, and it will not allow a stupid thing like this wall."

Tunnel passages across an international border into the United States have become a real problem. There are 40 such tunnels that have been discovered since 9/11, and the great bulk of them are on the southern border. Large-scale smuggling of drugs, weapons, and immigrants takes place today through these tunnels. One tunnel running from San Diego to Tijuana was marked by inordinate sophistication. It was a half mile long. It went 60 to 80 feet deep, 8 feet tall. It had a concrete floor. It was wired for electricity. It had drainage. At one end, 300 pounds of marijuana were found, and at the other end, 300 pounds of marijuana. What was interesting is that the California entry into the tunnel was a very modern warehouse, a huge warehouse compartmented but empty and kept empty for a year. In one office there was a hatch in the floor. It looked much like the hatch which Saddam had secreted himself in. But lifting that hatch disclosed a very sophisticated tunnel. It went under other buildings all the way across the double fence into Mexico and up in Mexico in a building as well.

In an effort to identify lower-cost and easily deployable fencing solutions, CBP funded a project called Fence Lab in February 2007. Fence Lab tested fence/barrier prototypes and evaluated them based on performance criteria such as their ability to disable a vehicle traveling at 40 miles per hour, allowing animals to migrate through them, and cost-effectiveness. These performance standards apply only to primary fencing, and as of late 2008 SBI did not have performance standards for secondary fencing. Each style of fencing has different costs associated with construction, and the Border Patrol determines which fencing style is appropriate based on the operational need of a specific geographic area along the southwest border.

DHS's U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) contractor, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), had completed about 73 miles of primary SBI fencing costing approximately $198 million as of September 30, 2007, and about 215 miles of fencing costing about $625 million as of October 31, 2008. Seventy-one of the miles completed as of September 30, 2007, were pedestrian fencing completed at costs ranging from $400,000 to $4.8 million per mile and averaging $2.8 million per mile. CBP had also finished about 2 miles of vehicle fencing at a cost of $2.8 million. Pedestrian fencing accounted for 140 of the miles that CBP had completed as of October 31, 2008, with costs ranging from $400,000 to $15.1 million per mile for an average of $3.9 million per mile. Seventy-five of the miles were vehicle fencing and costs ranged from $200,000 to $1.8 million per mile, averaging $1.0 million per mile. The per mile costs to build the fencing varied considerably because of the type of fencing, topography, materials used, land acquisition costs, and labor costs, among other things.

For fiscal years 2006 through 2009, the SBI program received about $3.6 billion in appropriated funds. Of this amount, by late 2008 about $2.4 billion had been allocated to complete approximately 670 miles of vehicle and pedestrian fencing along the roughly 2,000 miles of border between the United States and Mexico. In March the Tactical Infrastructure / Border Fence Program was transferred to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Finance, Facilities Management and Engineering (FM&E) from the Secure Border Initiative (SBI).

As of January 22, 2010, CBP had completed roughly 643.3 miles of fencing (344.8 miles of primary pedestrian fence and 298.5 miles of vehicle fence) along the Southwest Border. Generally speaking, pedestrian fence is located in urban areas and adjacent to ports of entry, whereas vehicle fence is located in relatively unpopulated and remote areas of the border. When finished, the Department would have constructed a total of approximately 670 miles of pedestrian and vehicle fence along the Southwest Border.

As security along the border was tightened, smuggling and human trafficking have gone increasingly underground, making good tunnel-detection technology more and more necessary. The LAS, presented at a homeland security conference, showed great promise in this regard. While still a prototype, it was portable, cheap and effective in most types of ground—a combination other detection systems have a hard time matching.

More than 100 border tunnels had been discovered from 1990 to 2010, 23 in 2008 alone. Some of these contraband conduits are incredibly elaborate, the work of sophisticated criminal syndicates. In 2006, for example, officials unearthed a 2,400-foot-long tunnel connecting a Tijuana industrial building to a San Diego warehouse. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper, the tunnel went 85 feet down at its deepest point, and its builders, likely a Mexican drug-smuggling organization, outfitted it with ventilation and pumps to clear out seeping groundwater.

Anything could be coming into the U.S. through these tunnels — people, drugs, weapons — so underground passages pose an obvious national security risk. But effective, proven tunnel-detection technology has yet to be deployed along the Mexican border. All tunnels discovered to date have been found by luck—such as a truck sinking through a shallowly dug section—or old-fashioned detective work.

Ground-penetrating radar goes down only 40 feet or so in the best of conditions, and it does not work well in clay or moist soils. Microgravity equipment is expensive and must be held perfectly level, and at a constant temperature, when taking readings. A stationary tunnel-detecting electrode system would be huge, costly and prone to tampering. And the Israeli fiber-optic technique only detects digging, not existing tunnels.

As of February 10, 2012, the Department had completed 651 miles of fencing out of nearly 652 miles mandated by Congress, including 299 miles of vehicle barriers and 352 miles of pedestrian fence. The precise location and type of fencing used was developed by examining unique characteristics of the terrain and gathering feedback and intelligence from Border Patrol chiefs with responsibility over the nine Southern border sectors.

On June 27, 2013 the US Senate approved a landmark overhaul of immigration laws by a 68 to 32 vote. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act is a top item on President Barack Obama’s agenda, but faced an uncertain future in the House of Representatives. This bill mandates the most extensive border and interior security measures in American history. It required and funded the completion of 700 miles [1,126 kilometers] of real border fence. It added 20,000 new border agents. It detailed a specific technology plan for monitoring each sector of the border.

The "Southern Border Fencing Strategy" identifies where fencing (including double-layer fencing), infrastructure, and technology, including at ports of entry, should be deployed along the Southern border. This requires no fewer than 700 miles of pedestrian fencing which will include replacement of all currently existing vehicle fencing on non-tribal lands on the Southern Border with pedestrian fencing where possible, and after this has been accomplished may include a second layer of pedestrian fencing in those locations along the Southern Border which the Secretary deems necessary or appropriate.

Under the Secure Fence Act of 2006, Congress required that the entire border should be 100% operationally controlled by the Department of Homeland Security. This was also the metric the Senate used as a trigger in the 2007 immigration bill. Under current law, operational control meant the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband. S.744 substantially weakened current law by only requiring the southern border to be "90% effectively secured" [in SEC. 3. EFFECTIVE DATE TRIGGERS]. The `effectiveness rate', in the case of a border sector, is the percentage calculated by dividing the number of apprehensions and turn backs in the sector during a fiscal year by the total number of illegal entries in the sector during such fiscal year.

In September 2014 the public heard a claim that four individuals with suspected ties to terrorism in the Middle East had attempted to cross our southern border; far fewer know that, in fact, these four individuals were arrested, their supposed link to terrorism was thoroughly investigated and checked, and in the end amounted to a claim by the individuals themselves that they were members of the Kurdish Worker’s Party – an organization that is actually fighting against ISIL and defended Kurdish territory in Iraq.

The U.S. Border Patrol 2012-2016 Strategic Plan supports national-level strategies, such as the President’s Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime and the National Drug Control Strategy; departmental strategies, in particular the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review; and CBP-wide planning and integration efforts. The Strategic Plan uses a risk-based approach to securing the border; focusing enhanced capabilities against the highest threats and rapidly responding along the border.

As of 2013 DHS reported achieving operational control for 873 (44 percent) of the about 2,000 border miles. At the beginning of fiscal year 2011, DHS transitioned from using operational control as its goal and outcome measure for border security. Studies commissioned by CBP have found that the number of apprehensions bears little relationship to effectiveness because agency officials do not compare these numbers with the amount of cross-border illegal activity.

With regard to fencing and other tactical infrastructure, CBP reported that from fiscal year 2005 through May 2015, the total miles of vehicle and pedestrian fencing along the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border increased from approximately 120 miles to 652 miles. With the completion of the new fencing and other tactical infrastructure, DHS was responsible for maintaining this infrastructure including repairing breached sections of fencing. In May 2010 and September 2009 reports, GAO found that CBP had not accounted for the impact of its investment in border fencing and infrastructure on border security. CBP had reported an increase in control of southwest border miles, but could not account separately for the impact of the border fencing and other infrastructure.

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