[House Hearing, 109 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
FENCING THE BORDER: CONSTRUCTION
OPTIONS AND STRATEGIC PLACEMENT
SUBCOMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC
SECURITY, INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION, AND CYBERSECURITY
COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY
[Serial No. 109-92]
SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE, DRUG POLICY, AND HUMAN RESOURCES
COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM
[Serial No. 109-254]
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS
JULY 20, 2006
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COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY
Peter T. King, New York, Chairman
Don Young, Alaska Bennie G. Thompson, Mississippi
Lamar S. Smith, Texas Loretta Sanchez, California
Curt Weldon, Pennsylvania Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts
Christopher Shays, Connecticut Norman D. Dicks, Washington
John Linder, Georgia Jane Harman, California
Mark E. Souder, Indiana Peter A. DeFazio, Oregon
Tom Davis, Virginia Nita M. Lowey, New York
Daniel E. Lungren, California Eleanor Holmes Norton, District of
Jim Gibbons, Nevada Columbia
Rob Simmons, Connecticut Zoe Lofgren, California
Mike Rogers, Alabama Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas
Stevan Pearce, New Mexico Bill Pascrell, Jr., New Jersey
Katherine Harris, Florida Donna M. Christensen, U.S. Virgin
Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Islands
Dave G. Reichert, Washington Bob Etheridge, North Carolina
Michael McCaul, Texas James R. Langevin, Rhode Island
Charlie Dent, Pennsylvania Kendrick B. Meek, Florida
Ginny Brown-Waite, Florida
Subcommittee on Economic Security, Infrastructure Protection, and
Daniel E. Lungren, California, Chairman
Don Young, Alaska Loretta Sanchez, California
Lamar S. Smith, Texas Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts
John Linder, Georgia Norman D. Dicks, Washington
Mark E. Souder, Indiana Peter A. DeFazio, Oregon
Mike Rogers, Alabama Zoe Lofgren, California
Stevan Pearce, New Mexico Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas
Katherine Harris, Florida James R. Langevin, Rhode Island
Bobby Jindal, Louisiana
Peter T. King, New York Bennie G. Thompson, Mississippi
COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM
Tom Davis, Virginia, Chairman
Christopher Shays, Connecticut Henry A. Waxman, California
Dan Burton, Indiana Tom Lantos, California
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Major R. Owens, New York
John M. McHugh, New York Edolphus Towns, New York
John L. Mica, Florida Paul E. Kanjorski,,Pennsylvania
Gil Gutknecht, Minnesota Carolyn B. Maloney, New York
Mark E. Souder, Indiana Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland
Steven C. LaTourette, Ohio Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio
Todd Russell Platts, Pennsylvania Danny K. Davis, Illinois
Chris Cannon, Utah WM. Lacy Clay, Missouri
John J. Duncan, Jr., Tennessee Diane E. Watson, California
Candice S. Miller, Michigan Stephen F. Lynch, Massachusetts
Michael R. Turner, Ohio Chris Van Hollen, Maryland
Darrell E. Issa, California Linda T. Sanchez, California
Jon C. Porter, Nevada C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Maryland
Kenny Marchant, Texas Brian Higgins, New York
Lynn A. Westmoreland, Georgia Eleanor Holmes Norton, District of
Patrick T. McHenry, North Carolina Columbia
Charles W. Dent, Pennsylvania ------
Virginia Foxx, North Carolina Bernard Sanders, Vermont
Jean Schmidt, Ohio (Independent)
Brian P. Bilbray, California
David Marin, Staff Director
Lawrence Halloran, Deputy Staff
Teresa Austin, Chief Clerk
Phil Barnett, Minority Chief of
Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources
Mark E. Souder, Indiana, Chairman
Patrick T. McHenry, North Carolina Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland
Dan Burton, Indiana Bernard Sanders, Vermont
John L. Mica, Florida Danny K. Davis, Illinois
Gil Gutknecht, Minnesota Diane E. Watson, California
Steven C. LaTourette, Ohio Linda T. Sanchez, California
Chris Cannon, Utah C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Maryland
Candice S. Miller, Michigan Major R. Owens, New York
Virginia Foxx, North Carolina Eleanor Holmes Norton, District of
Jean Schmidt, Ohio Columbia
Tom Davis, Virginia
Tom Davis, Virginia Henry a. Waxman, California
Marc Wheat, Staff Director
Michell Gress, Counsel
William Collum, Acting Clerk
Tony Haywood, Minority Counsel
C O N T E N T S
The Honorable Mark E. Souder, a Representative in Congress from
the State of Indiana........................................... 1
The Honorable Daniel E. Lungren, a Representative in Congress
from the State of California, and Chairman, Subcommittee on
Economic Security, Infrastructure Proection, and Cybersecurity. 5
The Honorable Loretta Sanchez, a Representative in Congress from
the State of California, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on
Economic Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Cybersecurity 4
The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings, a Representative in Congress
from the State of Maryland, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on
Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources.............. 6
The Honorable Norman D. Dicks, a Reprsentative in Congress from
the State of Washington........................................ 22
The Honorable Duncan Hunter, a Representative in Congress from
the State of California........................................ 13
The Honorable Silvestre Reyes, a Representative in Congress from
the State of Texas............................................. 10
The Honorable Steven Pearce, a Representative in Congress from
New Mexico................................................... 9
Mr. Kevin Stevens, Senior Associate Chief, Customs and Border
Oral Statement................................................. 25
Prepared Statement............................................. 26
Mr. Douglas Barnhart, President of Douglas E. Barnhart, Inc., VP
of Association of General Contractors.......................... 47
Mr. T.J. Bonner, President, National Border Patrol Council:
Oral Statement................................................. 59
Prepared Statement............................................. 62
The Honorable Steve King, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Iowa.................................................. 45
Mr. Carlton Mann, Chief Inspector, Office of Inspections &
Special Reviews, Office of Inspector General, Department of
Oral Statement................................................. 64
Prepared Statement............................................. 66
Mr. Art Mayne, Specifications Writer, Merchants Metals:
Oral Statement................................................. 52
Prepared Statement............................................. 54
Mr. Don Williams, Roadrunner Planning & Consulting, Consultant to
Power Contracting, Inc.:
Oral Statement................................................. 49
Prepared Statement............................................. 51
For the Record
Mr. Art Mayne submitted:
A White Paper from the Chain Link Fence Manufacturers Institue
How Anti-Intrusion, Anti-Climb Chain Link Fencing Systems Can
Help Protect American's Borders.............................. 56
The Honorable Ginny Brown-Waite, a Representative in Congress
from the State of Florida:
Prepared Statement............................................. 83
FENCING THE BORDER: CONSTRUCTION OPTIONS AND STRATEGIC PLACEMENT
Thursday, July 20, 2006
U.S. House of Representatives,
Committee on Homeland Security,
Subcommittee on Economic Security,
Infrastructure Protection, and Cybersecurity,
Committee on Government Reform,
Subcommittee on Criminal Justice,
Drug Policy, and Human Resources,
The subcommittees met, pursuant to at 2:07 p.m., in room
2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Mark E. Souder,
chairman of the Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human
Resources Subcommittee presiding.
Present: Representatives Souder, Lungren, McHenry, Schmidt,
Cummings, Linda Sanchez, Norton, Loretta Sanchez, Dicks and
Staff Present: J. Marc Wheat, Staff Director and Chief
Counsel; Dennis Kilcoyne, Counsel; Jim Kaiser, Counsel; Scott
Springer, Congressional Fellow; Mark Fedor, Congressional
Fellow; and Kimberly Craswell, Clerk.
Mr. Souder. Subcommittees will come to order.
This is a generally unorthodox hearing, in a sense. It was
sponsored by two different subcommittees, the Subcommittee on
Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources of the House
Government Reform Committee as well as the Border Subcommittee
of the Homeland Security Committee; and we are not in either of
our rooms. We are in the Armed Services Committee room that we
are going to function where it makes most sense under the
committee rules where it best applies.
The Homeland Security rules are that opening statements are
done by the chairman and ranking member of the subcommittee
plus the chairman of the full committee or ranking member of
the full committee if they are there.
We are also going to follow some of the guidelines in how
we do the witness panels in Homeland Security. Some of the
witnesses will be sworn in, like the Government Reform
Subcommittee requires in our bylaws.
I am going to start with my opening statement.
Good afternoon and thank you all for coming today for our
hearing on Fencing the Border: Construction Options and
Strategic Placement. I would like to thank chairman Dan Lungren
of the Subcommittee of Economic Security, Infrastructure
Protection and Cybersecurity for sponsoring this very important
joint hearing. This represents our first formal inquiry into
this pressing subject. It is vital that we approach it as
seriously and thoughtfully as we can.
Though the question of whether we should have more border
fencing has occasionally generated more heat than light, the
fact is that this proposition is more or less settled in
Congress. The immigration bills passed by both Houses call for
a substantial expansion of fencing, at least 380 miles in the
Senate bill and at least 700 miles in the House bill. So in our
hearing today we seek to move beyond the question of whether to
expand the fence and on to question of what kind of fencing,
where should it go, what kind of challenges we should
anticipate, and so forth.
While many are understandably impatient to secure our very
porous southwest border, the fact is that we don't get many
chances to do it right, and we had better be prepared in this
as thoroughly as possible. To do that, many questions have to
be asked and many obstacles have to be foreseen and overcome.
Through this hearing, we seek to make a significant step
forward in that process.
From the Pacific coast along San Diego to the southernmost
tip of Texas along the Gulf of Mexico, the southwest border is
over 2,000 miles long. Much of the terrain is unfriendly,
though not impassable, to human beings. A variety of
topography, from mountains to hot deserts, can make for very
dangerous journeys, though obviously not hazardous enough to
sway the estimated nearly one million immigrants who are in our
country illegally from Mexico every year.
In addition, there are many urban and semi-urban areas
along the border which, when there is little or no fencing,
allow many immigrants to blend into the local population
immediately after making illegal entry. Near San Diego, Yuma,
Nogales, Douglas, El Paso, Del Rio, Laredo and Brownsville are
many opportunities for immigrants, with the aid of spotters and
human smugglers, to make their way into this country in
violation of our laws and sovereignty.
Since the threat of illegal entry along the southwest
border has long existed, it is not surprising that fencing the
border has become an historical part of seeking an effective
solution. In 1991, the Office of National Drug Control Policy
decided it needed a comprehensive picture of southwest border
security, given that the majority of illegal drugs entering the
country cross the Southwest border.
The result was delivered in January 1993, and was entitled
Systematic Analysis of the Southwest Border. This exhaustive
report covered far more ground than we can touch on today, but
it did contain critical analysis and proposals regarding the
subject of fences on the southwest border. The study concluded
that aliens attempting to illegally enter from Mexico had shown
remarkable resourcefulness in overcoming and destroying
obstacles in their path, including single layer-fences. For
this reason, one of the top recommendations was to erect
lighted, three-layer fences in urban areas and for at least a
mile on each side of every port of entry. The long-term
strategy behind the expanded fence concept was to deflect
immigrants away from urban areas where they blend in quickly
with the local population. The immigrant flow, it was hoped,
would then head to more rural areas where border patrol would
have a tactical advantage over them.
At the time of the study, perhaps the worst situation for
border security existed in the San Diego sector. Estimates were
that some 6,000 illegal immigrants were crossing the border
there every night. Consequently, an effort was launched to
fence the border adjacent to San Diego with the first layer
consisting of 14 miles of 10-foot-high steel plates welded
together. These were nothing more than surplus landing mats
used by the military since World War II for the quick
construction of airplane landing strips in remote locations.
Though this first layer was demonstrably helpful in some
respects, by itself it was not enough to adequately discourage
determined immigrants. It also came with environmental costs,
as those who breached the fence and sought to evade detection
were often pursued by border patrol agents in environmentally
Fencing the border in precise areas proposes particular
challenges. On December 16, 2005, the U.S. House of
Representatives passed a new immigration bill, H.R. 4437. More
specifically, the Hunter amendment, House Amendment 648,
mandates the construction of 854 miles of double-layer,
security-specific fencing--not vehicle barriers--including
lights and cameras, along the southwest border.
It requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to provide
at least two layers of reinforced fencing, the installation of
additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras sensors,
at five specified locations. Moreover, on May 17, 2006, the
Senate voted 83 to 16 on S. 2611 to construct, within 2 years,
370 miles of triple-layer fencing and 500 miles of vehicle
barriers in areas along the Southwest border that DHS
determines are most often used by smugglers and illegal aliens
attempting to gain illegal entry.
These proposals demand serious investigation into the
construction options in the challenges that may arise.
I have visited nearly every sector of the Southwest border
at least once, many multiple times, have been exposed to
something new and unexpected every time. One thing I learned is
that the challenges which we will confront as we expand the
fencing are almost more complex and varied than we will expect.
Fencing must be altered with respect to water rights, livestock
and wildlife mitigation, environmental concerns, recreational
interests, irrigation infrastructure, floodplain consequences
and so on. And there are ever-present problems of topography
and soil composition, which can cause enormous headaches for
contractors. For instance, we may determine that there are some
remote areas needing fencing which are miles away from any road
needed for transporting construction equipment and materials.
The likely and dramatic increase of fencing along the
southwest border is complicated and not without controversy.
This hearing seeks to initiate a constructive dialogue with the
Federal departments and agencies that will be responsible for
the construction of all approved fencing and its integration
into a sound border security strategy.
We have an excellent line-up of witnesses today. Our first
panel consist of Congressman Duncan Hunter, who will address
the history of the California fence and share his insight in
what lessons it can teach us. He will be joined by Congressmen
Steve Pearce and Silvestre Reyes.
Panel II will feature Mr. Kevin Stevens of Customs and
Border Protection to inform us on many aspects of all current
fencing along the Southwest border.
Panel III will feature Congressman Steve King of Iowa; Mr.
Douglas Barnhart, who is President of Douglas Barnhart,
Incorporated, as well as Vice President of the Association of
General Contractors; Mr. Carlton Mann, Chief Inspector of the
Office of Inspections and Special Reviews of the Department of
Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General; Mr. Art Mayne,
specifications writer for Merchants Metals; Mr. Don Williams of
Roadrunner Planning and Consulting, who is a consultant for
Power Contracting, Inc.; and Mr. T.J. Bonner, who is President
of the National Border Patrol Council.
Mr. Souder. Now yield to the ranking member on the Homeland
Security Subcommittee, Ms. Sanchez.
Ms. Loretta Sanchez of California. Thank you, Mr. Chairman;
and thank you to the witnesses for being before us today and
for your testimony.
I am sure you have all heard much about border security
over this past year. It certainly is a topic that many of us
have been taking a look at for quite some time.
Last year in the fall--this past fall, we actually spent a
lot of time on the Homeland Security Committee, Chairman King
and subcommittee Chairman Lungren, on the Homeland Security
bills to improve our Nation's border security. It was called
H.R. 4312. We marked up that legislation in Homeland Committee;
and while we did not agree on every issue or every amendment,
we did establish substantial points of consensus.
For example, section 107 of that bill identified the clear
need for more border patrol agents and required the Secretary
of Homeland Security to act quickly to hire and train 2,000
additional border patrol agents every year from fiscal year
2006 to fiscal year 2010, as authorized under this section 5202
of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004
which we passed.
Additionally, in section 302 of the bill--I am speaking of
the one that we marked up in the fall--funds were authorized to
add 8,000 additional detention beds every year from fiscal year
2006 to fiscal year 2010, again, as dictated in the
Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which
the Congress passed.
Unfortunately, neither the administration nor the
Republican leadership of this Congress kept the promise that
they made in that Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Protection
Act of 2004 to make necessary increases to protect our border.
The administration and the leadership of this Congress now
want us to forget about border patrol agents, detention beds,
immigration agents that I think would actually help to improve
our border security. Now they want us to forget about all the
time that they voted against critical increases. So here we are
talking about a fence, a one-size-fits-all solution to a very
difficult, complicated, multifaceted problem.
Building a fence on the southern border of the United
States will only push illegal activities and border crossings
to other areas. That is what we have seen, time and time again.
And while we are spending billions of dollars over the next
years to build that southern fence, what are we going to do
about the northern border? Or about our ports like Miami, where
people come in every day and nothing is stopping them? We
cannot hope that just building a fence is going to solve this
I hope that today we will discuss the reality of our
Nation's border security challenges and the need for the
increases in border patrol agents and detention beds and
immigration agents so that we can truly address the security
that we need, not just at the southern border but at our ports,
at our airports, at our maritime ports and on the northern
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
Mr. Souder. Thank you.
I now recognize Chairman Lungren.
Mr. Lungren. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to join in this bipartisan spirit of
consideration of matters here and express my appreciation to
you for inviting our subcommittee to join with you on this
important meeting today, particularly in this room. I hope
Chairman Hunter will be here to join us, because I would like
to congratulate him on this room. You can tell how long ago one
was a chairman by the size of their portrait here, and I am
just thinking if the portraits get any larger we going to have
to start painting the ceiling, sort of like the Sistine Chapel.
But it is a nice room in here that Armed Services has.
This seems hard to believe, but 20 years ago I was a floor
manager on the Republican side for the Simpson-Mazzoli bill as
we tried deal with an immigration bill at that time and thought
we had a bipartisan bill and a balanced solution. In my
judgment, it wasn't because--not because of the bill but
because of the lack of enforcement, and that is not Democrat or
Republican. That has been Democratic and Republican
administrations and Democratic and Republican Congresses. And
so we are trying to deal with that problem once again.
Fence projects in San Diego, El Paso and other cities along
the southern border have demonstrated that border barriers work
in deterring illegal entry, improving the quality of life in
border communities and facilitating border enforcement actions.
I do not in any way believe it is the silver bullet. There is
no silver bullet in this. We have to have a comprehensive
approach. But I happen to believe that, with the work of
Congressman Hunter and Congressman Reyes, that we have proven
that a key border enforcement tool is the fence.
Along with additional fencing, appropriate staffing and
resources and technology are essential for a complete border
security system. I am not convinced we have to reinvent the
wheel. I am convinced that there are some off-the-shelf
technologies and off-the-shelf pieces that could be put
together if we integrate this to create, in some cases, a
physical fence, in some cases, a virtual fence that would allow
us to do a far better than job than we have done.
If anybody is going to say we are going to ever perfectly,
totally, hermetically seal our border, they are wrong, but that
should not be an excuse for us to fail to do a better job. And
we can do a better job.
In less than a year, both bodies of Congress have passed
legislation that require additional fencing along the Southwest
border. While I have some serious concerns with some of the
limitations in the Senate legislation, namely that it includes
only half the fencing of the House bill and that it requires
consultation with Federal, State and local officials in Mexico
before beginning any construction along the border, and the
problem I see with that is not that we ought not to reach out
to our friends on the other side of the border but that we put
in legislation that we are prohibited from acting unless we get
a foreign government to agree to it.
I am surprised the Senate would give veto power to a
foreign government. They have trouble enough with the veto
power the President has.
But I do believe that both the Senate and the House having
fencing in their bills represents a paradigm shift. A survey
conducted in January 2005, shows the majority of the American
people support additional infrastructure along our border, and
that is not just Americans in the southwest as some might
expect. The survey showed the 74 percent in Alabama and
Mississippi and 65 percent in New Jersey support that position.
This is a position the American people have come to support,
and it seems to me it is something that we ought to make sure
The debate in Congress has matured to recognize the
national security importance of fencing and a shift in
determining where fencing is most appropriate and what type. So
I am looking forward to the testimony today.
It is great to welcome our colleagues who represent
districts on or near the southwest border. As I said before,
Congressman Hunter has worked tirelessly. I remember a quarter
century ago when he started talking about a fence, took him a
while to get that in; and I remember when Congressman Reyes was
working with Border Patrol and was one of those who led the
fight to see that we could install fencing in the El Paso area,
not every single centimeter of the 1,960 mile southern border
but in those parts where it does make sense.
Congressman Pearce represents one of the most open areas
along the border, a little different there than it is in San
Diego or El Paso. That is in the metropolitan areas, those open
So I hope that all of you will be able to provide important
testimony on appropriate security measures along this unique
corridor; and I look forward to the other panels, particularly
the representative of the Border Patrol as we go forward on
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Souder. Yield to the ranking member of the Criminal
Justice, Drug Policy Subcommittee, Mr. Cummings.
Mr. Cummings. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman; and I want
to thank you for holding this joint hearing today on the issue
relating to proposed expansion of the border fence to prevent
illegal entry into the United States from Mexico.
The Government Reform and the Homeland Security Committees
share oversight responsibilities with respect to the agencies
and initiatives that we will discuss today, and I look forward
to exploring the important matters before us with our
colleagues who serve on the Homeland Security Subcommittee on
Economic Security, Infrastructure Protection and Cybersecurity.
As ranking member of the Government Reform Subcommittee on
Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources, I take a
particular interest in the ramifications of border security for
illegal drug trafficking. Nearly all of the cocaine and heroin
consumed in the United States originates south of the border,
predominantly in Colombia. Drugs from Colombia that are
destined for the west, Midwest and parts of the eastern United
States are smuggled along routes that cross the United States-
Mexico border. Recently, we have also seen a large increase in
the amount of methamphetamine originating in Mexican super
Given that more than 20,000 Americans lose their lives to
illegal drugs, drug abuse each year, Mr. Chairman, the drug
problem alone justifies our interest in securing our southern
border. The alarming possibility that terrorists might be able
to exploit weaknesses in border security the same way that
people who smuggle drugs and humans do further justifies this
But protecting Americans from threats that originate beyond
our borders requires a comprehensive strategy. I note that the
topic of today's hearing is framed narrowly in terms of,
``construction options and strategic placement'', of an
expanded fence along the southern border. Essentially, we are
talking about how to implement a provision in still-pending
House-passed legislation, a provision that would mandate a
major expansion of fencing on the southern border. It is
important to discuss whether this proposal would be effective
before going forward with it.
In that regard, I think it is necessary to observe that
addressing the problems of illegal immigration and border
insecurity requires consideration of more than the composition
and placement of a proposed fence. More than half of illegal
immigrants in the United States today are individuals who
entered the United States legally but who overstayed their
visas. As we all know, the 9/11 hijackers entered the United
States on legitimate student visas and attacked us from within
Jose Padilla, convicted of plotting terrorist acts in the
United States, was an American citizen who reentered the United
States from Pakistan at Chicago's O'Hare airport. The so-called
millennium bomb suspect convicted of plotting an attack on Los
Angeles International Airport was apprehended in the United
States-Canada border. And Canada has been a major source of
marijuana and a key transit country for the illegal importation
of other illicit drugs, precursor chemicals for meth and other
contraband. It is clear then that an expanded fence on the
southern border addresses only part of the problem.
Moreover, any strategy that focuses too narrowly on putting
up physical barriers to entry is destined to fail if the
initiatives for entering the United States illegally are not
addressed directly and effectively. Certainly we know that the
great majority of illegal immigrants who cross the southern
border do so to pursue livelihoods that will allow them and
their families to escape the grip of extreme poverty. A bigger,
better fence will accomplish little if we fail to address the
market for undocumented workers.
As the Coalition for Immigration Security, comprised of
former high-ranking DHS officials, argue in a recent statement,
and I quote, some have portrayed the immigration debate as one
between those who advocate secure borders and those who
advocate liberalized employment opportunities. This is a false
dichotomy. The reality is that stronger enforcement and a more
sensible approach to the 10 to 12 million illegal aliens in
this country today are inextricably interrelated. One cannot
succeed without the other. Without reform of laws affecting the
ability of temporary migrant workers to cross our borders
legally, our borders cannot and will not be secure. Indeed, the
existing fence that has had the effect of simply rerouting
traffic to more remote areas, it has not reduced the volume of
illegal traffic. Moreover, the fence has been breached in many
areas by tunnels, ladders and blowtorches.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, individuals who attempt to cross the
border are determined. They do so at enormous risk to their own
safety, and many die making the effort. I am concerned about
the very real possibility, if not likelihood, that expanding
the fence may increase the risk of starvation, rape and murder
facing those who cross the border illegally. Those who are not
deterred will become increasingly dependent upon profit-minded
coyotes and criminal traffickers in order to cross the border
in remote areas or to penetrate a fortified fence in more
With that, Mr. Chairman, I look forward to hearing from our
witnesses; and I thank you.
Mr. Souder. As you heard, we have two votes. Let me just
briefly do two committee process things. I ask unanimous
consent that all members have 5 legislative days to submit
written statements and questions for the hearing record. Any
answers to written questions provided by the witness also be
included in the record.
Without objection, so ordered.
I also ask unanimous consent that all exhibits, documents
and other material referred to by members may be included in
the hearing record and that all members be permitted to revise
and extend their remarks; and, without objection, it is so
The subcommittee issued previously a border report. We have
held hearings in San Diego, two in Arizona, one in Las Cruces,
New Mexico, one in El Paso. The purpose of this particular
hearing is to focus as one part of a larger immigration debate.
But I agree, as all of us do, that it takes a comprehensive
I appreciate your patience, Mr. Reyes and Mr. Pearce. If
you can come back after the vote, we will go right to your
With that, the subcommittee stand in recess.
Congressman Pearce, is it my understanding you can't come
back down to try to do your testimony?
Mr. Pearce. Yes, I would shorten it greatly. I do have a
commitment in the Senate.
Mr. Souder. Subcommittee is reconvened for Mr. Pearce's
statement. We will insert your full statement in the record.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE STEVEN PEARCE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO
Mr. Pearce. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
The issue is vitally important in the Second District of
New Mexico. As you know, we have about 180 miles of very open
border. Columbus, New Mexico, lies on the border with Paloma,
796 residents. Basically, we are on the front Lines of the
Too often, we want to talk about immigration and we put
border security, illegal immigration and legal immigration into
the same discussion and it makes it somewhat more difficult to
arrive at a conclusion. But, as far as border security goes,
the law enforcement officers and the district attorneys in my
district have been uniformly agreeing that a fence per se will
do very little good. We already face the prospect of ranchers
in that remote area putting up their fence, and at night the
fence simply goes away and disappears into Mexico. Without
constant monitoring, the belief is that we will face the same
problem with a fence of any sort. If we are going to do
constant monitoring, then the idea is why don't we use the
constant monitoring and that is the greatest deterrent.
We are finding already with the Border Patrol being
augmented by the National Guard that just the presence of the
National Guard is beginning to decrease the flow of activity at
the border. We know that increased presence would work. We
think that the vehicle barrier, that is the 4-inch pipe that is
cemented into the ground, laid across the border, that is more
permanent and does not disappear overnight, that has been
But, basically, what the National Guard is bringing right
now is increased technology, new surveillance techniques that
the Border Patrol does not have, increased presence and
increased ability to interdict.
Many of the times Border Patrol agents in the Second
District tell me these are the guys in the field, that they
have 2 to 3 hours in the field each day. The rest of their time
is on paperwork.
So as we move through the next 2 years, keep in mind that
the Federal law enforcement training facility is actually in
the Second District, the Southern District of New Mexico, and
they are well on a path to have the 10,000 additional agents
trained in if not the next 2 years then certainly by the third
year. So we believe that the increased presence of the vehicle
barrier, a graded road right along the border and new
technology would be more than adequate, would forestall the
requirement to sit and monitor a fence day in and day out.
Border security is an absolute must. We cannot leave this
session this year in my opinion without achieving something
significant on border security. I just don't think in the wide
open spaces, and especially the Southern District of New
Mexico, that a fence will do what we expect and want it to do,
and we will invest several years in chasing that particular
That summarizes all that I had, and I have given the
chairman thanks for the ability to go ahead and testify.
Mr. Souder. Mr. Reyes, are you going to be able to return?
Mr. Reyes. I will be back, yes.
Mr. Souder. Thank you very much.
With that, the subcommittees stands in recess.
Mr. Souder. Subcommittees will come to order.
I now move to Congressman Silvestre Reyes from the 16th
District of Texas. We look forward to your testimony.
Mr. Reyes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
As my colleague from California was saying, this is a
beautiful, beautiful room. And I will be honest with you. I am
more comfortable up there sitting, and this is a different
perspective from down here. But I would be happy to defer to my
chairman if he wants to go first.
Mr. Hunter. I want to listen to Silve Reyes' remarks, but,
first, Mr. Chairman, just to say that he sat in a hearing like
this in 1996 when we proposed a fence in San Diego. As a Border
Patrol chief from El Paso, and I think the greatest Border
Patrol Chief in our history, Mr. Reyes sat there with the
Director of INS, who was opposed to his position, and other
folks from the administration, from the Clinton administration
I had an opportunity to ask him if he thought that the
border fence would work in San Diego, with certain people just
glaring daggers at Silve Reyes. So this guy who was on active
duty--not like an admiral who is retired and comes in and tells
you what to do when there is no danger or pressure--said I
think the fence will work, and it did work.
We built that fence. We pulled border murders down from 10
a year to zero. We pulled down the drive-through drug smuggling
from 300 drug trucks a month ramming that border to zero. We
pulled down smuggling of narcotics and people by more than 90
percent. The fence did work. It took us a while to get it up;
and, as you know, we just got this waiver to finish smugglers
gulch, that last gap in the San Diego border fence.
I guess my best--my real job here is to introduce Silve
Reyes. But, Mr. Chairman, let me just tell you I think the
greatest Border Patrol chief that this country has ever had,
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE SILVESTRE REYES, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Mr. Reyes. Well, that is a tough act to follow; and my mom
always told me when something like that happens just shut up
and sit down and don't say anything because you can only go
downhill from there.
But I really appreciate the comments of a very good friend
and colleague and fellow Vietnam veteran, I might add. We have
been friends a long time, and I think the feelings are mutual
and reciprocal in terms of the esteem and high regard that I
hold for my good friend, my chairman, Duncan Hunter. So I
really appreciate those comments.
I will tell you, back when that situation happened, it was
a situation that was tough. Because when you come here to
testify--and I see some of my former colleagues in uniform
here, and they are going to be testifying. Back when I was a
chief, you had certain parameters that you were told you were
going to stay between those lines.
This was across the line, but when a Member of Congress
asks you for your opinion you give it, and so I was happy to do
that, about the very issue that we are talking about this
afternoon. So I appreciate the invitation to be here and be
here with you all that I consider friends and talk about the
issue of border security.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, this hearing is one of a series
that has been scheduled by the House leadership for July and
August on border security and immigration. Regrettably, I
maintain that these hearings are more about politics than
policy; and I believe--strongly believe--that the American
people would be far better served if Congress were trying to
work out a compromise on comprehensive border security and
immigration legislation with the Senate. I think that is what
we ought to be doing.
But as a 26\1/2\ year veteran of the United States Border
Patrol and a Member representing a congressional district on
the U.S.-Mexico border, I believe that I have a responsibility
to share my experience with my colleagues, with the hope that,
almost 5 years after a terrorist attack on September 11th,
Congress and this administration will finally do what needs to
be done to secure our borders and to keep our country safe.
In fact, I have testified, as my good friend mentioned, on
issues of border security and border enforcement many times
before Members of Congress. Over 11 years ago, as my chairman
said, while I was still chief at the El Paso sector of the
Border Patrol, I testified before the Judiciary Committee on
the issue of border security and the strategy that we
implemented in El Paso, which was known as ``Operation Hold the
At that time, in response to a question that was asked by
my good friend--although at the time I was wondering if he was
my good friend, putting me on the spot like that--but I
testified that border fencing can be an essential tool for
curbing illegal entries in communities like El Paso and San
Diego and other densely populated areas. Urban areas of the
border region need special kinds of tools such as barriers and
Since being elected to the Congress almost a decade ago, I
have consistently supported and continue to support Mr.
Hunter's efforts to facilitate construction of a border fence
in the San Diego area. Unfortunately, however, there are--my
opinion--no one-size-fit-all solutions for border security.
That is why I am in opposition to the provision in this bill
for a 730-mile border fence that is in H.R. 4437, as well as
some other provisions for fencing 2,000 miles on the southern
border and 3,000 plus miles on the northern border, because I
think it wastes money. I think it is not good investment of
I also believe very strongly that if you want to know what
works in that particular area, as my friend from New Mexico
mentioned, you go on the chief of that sector. In fact, I have
recommended many times that what we ought to be doing is
holding field hearings, bringing in the chief of that area and
saying, what do you need? If it is fencing, the chiefs will
tell you. If it is something else such as technology, some
other kind of infrastructure support, construction and things
like that, they ought to be given that opportunity.
Not that headquarters people don't know what they are
talking about, but the person that is in charge of the area
that you are trying to address is the best one to tell you what
he or she needs in that area.
I think that it is important for us to remember that
instead of investing--and the latest figure that I have, the
figure that--and this is a figure that is contested by
different people, but $2.2 billion, which is what we figure 700
miles of triple fencing will cost, with that same $2.2 billion
you can recruit and train and equip and provide the technology
support to double the United States Border Patrol.
The Border Patrol today has about 12,000 agents. You can
hire another 12,000 along with the vehicles, the equipment, the
technology to support them, the radio communications, equipment
to be able to double that force.
As a former chief I can tell you, boots on the ground, an
individual there with the proper force multiplier such as
cameras that can see in day and nighttime operation, sensors,
both infrared and magnetic and other sensors that are available
today, in today's technology arsenal, unmanned air vehicles can
be very, very useful and very helpful to the enforcement
presence along that border region.
So I think that is a much better investment of taxpayer
I believe that when we are talking about a strategy, when
we are talking about investing and when we are talking about
what works, let's listen to people like Chief David Aguilar,
the national chief of the Border Patrol, who we had--much to
the credit of my chairman here, we had him testify in our
committee; and he was asked several times, will a fence work?
And he testified that he would rather spend the money on other
Just a couple of weeks ago when we were in Laredo, the same
question was asked of Chief Garza, who was in charge of the
Laredo sector, about fencing; and he said, sure, there are some
areas in the heavily populated areas where we both have
mentioned already where fencing is a good idea, but certainly
fencing all through the Laredo sector was not money well spent.
So I am here to share with you and provide the benefit of
26\1/2\ years as a Border Patrol agent, the last 13 years as a
chief in both south Texas, in McAllen and El Paso, where I had
responsibility and jurisdiction over west Texas and all the
State of New Mexico, so I know the area that my friend
Congressman Pearce was talking about. I very much appreciated
his testimony, and I promised him that I would give him my
testimony, because I think we have to work together.
I think we have to understand that there is an obligation
that we all share that we have to do a good job in protecting
this country, especially 5 years after 9/11. I find it
unconscionable that we are still wrestling with this issue 5
years after September 11, and when we continue to have
information that our country is still under the threat of
So I am pleased to be here. I am particularly honored to be
here with my good friend and chairman, Duncan Hunter, because I
know in his heart he wants to do what is right. I know
sometimes politically we don't agree, but I am hoping that
working together, finding out what is best by talking to the
chiefs that are in those sectors, that we will come up with a
solution that we can all support.
So, with that, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity.
I will be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. Souder. Thank you very much.
Mr. Souder. Now I would like to recognize the chairman of
the Armed Services Committee. Thank you for letting us your use
room today. I appreciate it very much. I look forward to your
testimony. Mr. San Diego, you are the father of the fences.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE DUNCAN HUNTER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. Hunter. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I hope we can get a
strong endorsement from my colleague for the 700-mile Silvestre
Mr. Reyes. Please--I want to be reelected.
Mr. Hunter. And I might mention one other thing about
Silvestre Reyes. I think of all the Members of Congress he by
far he has been to Iraq more than 10 times.
Last time we were there together we had the unique
experience as Congressmen of being mortared into the church. We
had a couple of mortars coming into the lodge; and our escort
officer said, quick, get into this building. We rushed into it.
It was an old Saddam Hussein movie theater. He said, no, get
all the way inside.
We opened up the doors, and it was surreal. We walked in,
and they were having a 400--about 400 GIs were in there having
a big Baptist revival. So we sat through the church service. I
think it was very instructive for us. We asked if we could
leave; and they said, no, you have to wait until the mortar
attack was finished. We were kept there by the attack.
Mr. Chairman, let me tell you why I think--first, why I
have explained that the first section of the Silvestre Reyes
fence has been so good, but I want to give you the genesis of
that fence, too, from the analytical point of view.
San Diego was then a no mans land when we built that fence.
It was so bad we had armed gangs roaming the area between
Tijuana and San Diego, some of them with automatic weapons; and
they would accost the people coming in illegally. They would
often rape the women. They would rob people, because people
typically have cash on them when they are coming north. They
It was so bad that Joseph Wambaugh, the best-selling
author, wrote the book Lines and Shadows about the San Diego
undercover team who dressed like illegal aliens and hung out on
the border waiting to be attacked or confronted by the gangs.
They would obviously be well-armed, and they would confront the
gangs and either have shoot-outs or arrests. It was that bad
when we built the fence.
The Sandia Laboratory in New Mexico came up with the idea
of doing a triple fence, and the reasoning was this. They said,
you are not going to be able to interdict people coming across
the border or narcotics--and their thing was directed mainly
toward--it was done under the funding for the narcotics
interdiction program--unless you have an impediment. They said
you can't just have people. You have to have an impediment.
So their first design was a fence that was right on the
border, then a Border Patrol road, then a second fence, which
was really kind of the stopper, the primary fence, then a
second Border Patrol Road and finally a third fence.
The point was, by having those impediments, you would--as
long as you had a few people manning those fences and driving
between them, patrolling between them, a smuggler would have to
come across the first fence, go across the Border Patrol road
on American soil. If you only had one fence, he could sit in
Mexico with impunity, and he could cut a hole with his welding
gear, and there is nothing you could do about it. If he had to
come over on American soil, cross the first Border Patrol road,
sit down with his welding gear, cut a hole, proceed through
there, go to the next, cross another Border Patrol road and cut
another hole, then if you had a minimum of manning on the
border you would be able to interdict him; and, in fact, that
is what has happened where we have the triple fence.
In fact, the Clinton administration, we passed the law
that, in 1996, that said you have to have a fence, you have to
build a triple fence in that first 14 miles. They said, you
know, we really would rather not have to build a triple, will a
double fence do? And we had a meeting with him, and I talked
with Silvestre. I said, let's try it. We did with the
stipulation that if it worked we wouldn't have to put the third
layer in which would cost more money and require more land
being taken. And the double fence worked. It was that good, and
it works today.
Now the reason that I disagree with my colleague and I
think it is good to send it across urban--or desert areas as
well as the city areas is this.
Right now, you have got people who are going to cross--come
into the Arizona desert; and if we have the same number of
deaths we had last year, we will have about 400 people die of
dehydration or sunstroke in the desert. The figure that my
brother gave me the other day--and you may know my brother is a
well-known humanitarian who goes out and puts out water in the
desert to keep people from dying of thirst--the figure he gave
me the other day was 77 people had died so far up to about a
week ago in the desert and had been found by the Border Patrol.
So if you have only the urban areas fenced and you have the
desert unfenced you are going to going to continue to have
people to go across. Coyotes, they tell abandoned people, once
they have gotten their cash from them, the road is only 2 miles
to the north; and it may be 20 miles to the north. So the sun
comes up and you see this group of people out desperately
trying to find the road or find the guy that was supposed to
pick them up. They can't find them, and they end up dying in
So you have a need. You have a need to have a secure
border. When Sandia Laboratory did an analysis of how you
secure a border, you can secure it with personnel, but they
found that it was so massively labor intensive, if you have no
impediment whatsoever, you have to have more personnel. They
predicted that if we had the impediment, that is, if we had the
border fence, we would be able to pull people off that section
of the border, and we would be able to do the job with fewer
Now I remember one time the San Diego sector was so bad--
and primarily that first 14 miles--I think it was the number
one smuggling corridor in America where most of the narcotics
were smuggled and most of the people were smuggled. It was so
bad at one time--and, Silvestre, correct me, correct me if I'm
wrong--but I think 25 percent of the entire Border Patrol in
the United States was in the San Diego sector.
Mr. Reyes. Close.
Mr. Hunter. Is that roughly accurate?
We have been able--since we have been put the fence in, we
have been able to pull border patrolmen off that sector.
Because you have the impediment. So the initial analysis by
Sandia that by having a fence allows you to effectively
leverage your personnel is, I think, accurate.
I think because you have so many people now coming across
in the desert--and let me give you one other example. We have
the Yuma testing range in Yuma. In fact, we are going to be
holding our hearing out there on how the National Guard is
doing in backing up the Border Patrol and supporting them here
in a week or two. But there is 37 miles of Yuma testing range
which coincides with the border.
We have had to stop, according to the military, a lot of
training and testing at the Yuma testing range because you will
get reports that people have come through, come across, come
across the border from Mexico. You don't want them to get hurt,
so you stop the training and the testing.
This is where we are training folks that are going to Iraq
and Afghanistan. That is where we test important equipment.
Both the Air Force and Marines have lost millions of dollars of
training time each year.
I think also there is probably a health problem and an
accident problem that relates to that, but that is another
reason to have that fence on that 37 miles of border.
If that testing range was in the interior of the United
States--let's say it was up by Salt Lake City, and you had
people wandering into the testing range. The first thing you do
is what? You would fence it.
So what I went to do, I think the 700 miles of fence, the
first section between Calexico, California, and, Douglas,
Arizona, which is the area in which most of the people who day
of dehydration and sunstroke will die this year, our language
in our bill provided for that to be sewed up first. And the
first thing we require--because we knew we couldn't have a
fence in that 392 miles quickly. But when we put this thing
together and it was adopted on the floor in an amendment, it
provided for interlocking cameras to be in place by May 31st;
and we did that because that is the start of the hot season. We
figured if we had those in place at least you would have
cameras that could pick up people coming across and you could
move Border Patrol out very quickly to those areas. They could
intercept them. So the cameras would help provide interception
and then have the fence done by the end of the year.
Now just one thought. I know that--and I agree very
strongly with Silvestre Reyes--that Border Patrol chiefs have
lots of insight, and they know in many cases how to custom-make
an interdiction operation in their particular area. But as I
recall, except for Silvestre Reyes, who was from El Paso, when
we got the San Diego fence in, as I recall, we didn't have much
support from the San Diego sector. So you would have folks say,
well, at San Diego, we talked to Border Patrol people in San
Diego. They don't think the fence is going to be good. But it
took a guy from El Paso to stand up for this thing under
enormous political heat and support it.
So I think the fence is good.
And there is one last reason why I think you have to have
it. I think in this age of terrorism you have to know who is
coming across our border and what they are bringing with them.
We have got a criminal population of about 250,000 people
in Federal, State and local jails, many of whom move back and
forth across the international border. Those folks don't care
about a guest worker program, they don't care about any type of
regulation that regulates the front door of our country, they
only care about being able to move back and forth. Like the
criminal gangs that used to exist in San Diego, they use that
border region where they could go south if pursued from the
north and go north if pursued from the south. They use that as
a safe haven.
You are going to have--no matter what kinds of policies we
have over the years with respect to immigration, you are going
to have that criminal population; and we have now a terrorist
population to be concerned about.
So I think the fence is well-advised. I have seen figures
that say it is going to cost up to $3 million a mile, $4
million a mile. I remember when we got the first 14 miles of
fence we had a bid for $1.4 million a mile. That ended up being
a lot more money because we ran into environmental problems. We
now have an environmental waiver, and we couldn't solve
Smugglers Canyon or Smugglers Gulch for some 6 years because of
environmental problems and the courts that were inclined to
keep us from building that border fence.
So I think the fence is proven to have worked in San Diego.
I think because you have people going across the desert in
large numbers, many of whom are dying in the desert--if you had
400 high school kids a year drowning in a canal, the first
thing you do is fence the canal. You wouldn't care if the canal
was in the country or in the city. You would put that
I think that having a fence, if we put--if we accompany
that fence with sensors and we accompany it with a modicum of
personnel, we will gain great leverage from having either a
triple fence or a double fence.
So put me down as a strong proponent of the fence and put
my good friend, Silve, down as undecided.
Mr. Souder. Thank you very much.
Before yielding to Chairman Lungren to begin the questions,
let me point out again that this subcommittee--this is one of
many hearings we have held on the southwest border in San Diego
and places in Arizona.
Thank you very much. Before beginning to yield, let me
point out I have been to a lot of the places in Arizona and New
Mexico, in Texas at multiple locations. In addition to the
northern border, we've been north at Blaine, Washington, in
Detroit, in Niagara Falls, Buffalo and upstate New York and in
upstate Vermont looking at both borders over a period of 5
years, that is in addition to Homeland Security. Obviously, it
is a complex problem, but when you're dealing with the complex
problem, you have got to separate into unit we are covering
today is the fencing unit.
I would like to yield to Chairman Lungren.
Mr. Lungren. Thank you very much. And our subcommittee is
going to be holding a hearing up on the northern border up on
the State of Washington. I would be interested, Congressman
Reyes, I was not one that immediately jumped to support of the
fence concept that Duncan Hunter had when I was here the first
time around. I thought we might try some other things. I was
down and I remember the soccer field we used to have down there
as well as the other parts and was on the Immigration
Subcommittee at that time, but I am convinced from the
experience we had in San Diego that he was right and you were
right at that time.
My question is why do you have--agreeing with you that I
don't think it makes sense to do the whole border, why do I
detect some reluctance on your part to support the idea of
replicating the San Diego experience in other parts of the
Mr. Reyes. And I don't. At the time I was chief, I
advocated that there was a strip right outside of El Paso in
the New Mexico side called Sunland Park where trains would come
right adjacent to the border from here to that wall right
there. We had a tremendous problem with these criminal gangs
that burglarized the trains. They would pop the air hose. It
would come to a stop, and they'd dump the merchandise, and it
would be stolen back into Mexico.
So I advocated very strongly for a fence in that area. I am
not opposed to fencing. I am opposed to using fencing as a
solve all for the whole border. At that time I was advocating
for that fence. I was asked by a number of reporters how much
fencing do we need, and at the time I guessed probably less
than--less than 10 percent of our border needs to be fenced. My
thinking is in the heavily populated areas, you remember that
the chairman here mentioned the Yuma testing facility and it
was 37 miles, I think. I am all for that to fence that, fence
that area. And that is why I am saying go to the chief, get his
recommendation, his or her recommendation, look at what the
enforcement challenges are.
I agree with my colleague from New Mexico, Congressman
Pearce, that what in some of those areas where it is easy for
narcotics smugglers to drive across the border because there
are those areas that that is happening right now, bury those 4-
inch pipes with a 1-inch cable where they are not able to do
that. If you do that and if you slow them down with a physical
barrier and then you have the cameras, that is why I advocate
technology. You have the cameras that will tell you what is
going on. You have a sensor. You have a camera and you have an
infrastructure deterrence, that is all you need.
I just find it a waste of money to put either a double or
triple fence in the areas that Steve Pearce was talking about
because it is totally unnecessary. You can have sensors out
there that are--that alert the Border Patrol that can--that you
can monitor with cameras that you can--you can have agents
strategically placed that will respond to those areas and catch
people that are trying to enter that area illegally.
Mr. Lungren. Let me ask you because of your experience in
the past, and I know your continuing relationship with people
who are in what we now call CBP, are you satisfied that we have
integrated the equipment that is already available to CBP in
ways to create virtual fences where that may make sense?
Mr. Reyes. We haven't done a good enough job to give now
CBP, formally Border Patrol, the technology and the equipment
that is available to do exactly this, to have technology out
there, such as cameras that can see in the day and the night,
that sensors that alert those cameras to focus in a specific
areas where Border Patrol units can respond to, we have not. I
mean, the equipment is available, the technology is available,
but we haven't provided that kind of support as a Congress.
Mr. Lungren. I know you mentioned boots on the ground, and
I support--we all support here, I think, increased number of
Border Patrol personnel but man, the only way we succeed on the
battlefield is not only boots on the ground, but with our
application of technology. I mean, that is where we lead the
world, and I just don't think we are leading the world on our
southern border. And I support the idea of a fence, but I
support the idea of a virtual fence, and I support the idea of
a physical fence where necessary.
Mr. Reyes. Exactly.
Mr. Lungren. And I don't know. I have just heard enough
things that suggest to me that, you know, cameras aren't that,
I mean, that is not rocket science, and some of the software
necessary needed to integrate these systems is not rocket
science. Where are we on that?
Mr. Reyes. Because we haven't funded and we haven't
prioritized my way, in my opinion, the way we should. When I
came to Congress here 10 years ago, almost 10 years ago, I felt
very confident that with my experience I would be able to
convince individuals like Duncan Hunter that I have known for
20 years, I guess Lamar Smith, Henry Bonilla, Charley Rangel,
who I first met because he was heading a task force on
narcotics trafficking when I was chief in McAllen.
I figured it would be easy to convince them that we ought
to be hiring between 1,000 and 1,500 agents a year till we get
to a threshold of about 20,000, re-evaluate and see where we
need to be. I also, having used the equipment, figured it would
be easy to convince Members of Congress with the authority to
put cameras out that I know work and worked 10 years ago, so
the technology has gotten much better now.
Sensors that we use, the technology where the sensor goes
off and the camera is looking this way, but that sensor goes
off and it turns and investigates where that sensor went off;
all of these things that have been available, we haven't done.
I mean, I have tried time after time after time to put that
kind of technology, to put those kinds of resources into
different bills and have been basically voted down.
The overriding reason is always resources. We don't have
the money. Well, I'll tell you what, we didn't have the money
prior to September 11th to do a better job of screening
passengers and look what it cost us. It cost us over $300
billion plus over 3,000 lives. I just think as a Congress, we
owe it to the American people to do a better job of putting
those resources out there. I have been infuriated that we are
building whole neighborhoods in Iraq. We are providing brand
new garbage trucks and we don't prioritize the same kind of
technology for our border communities. We don't need garbage
trucks, but we do need this kind of infrastructure support and
spending those $2.2 billion on additional Border Patrol agents
just makes sense.
Mr. Souder. Mr. Cummings.
Mr. Cummings. Thank you very much. I want to thank both of
you for your testimony. And I wanted to talk to you very
briefly, Congressman Hunter, and you know, I have often stated
in my political career that we have one life to live and this
is no dress rehearsal and this is the life. And that so many--
and this immigration issue is a very, very difficult one and
very complex, when you look at the fact that people are trying
to get to America for a better life. And they have that one
life to live and when they are well willing to risk it, that
says a whole lot.
But having said that, I am wondering when we look at the
tunnel, first of all, and I want to thank you for something
else. I have never heard such a great explanation of the
fencing, the triple fencing, double fencing and it makes sense
what you said. It makes a lot of sense.
But there are some things that concern me.
First of all, we have not addressed the issue--you all did
not address and maybe address it before I got here, but San
Diego has had some tunneling problems; is that correct?
Mr. Hunter. Yeah.
Mr. Cummings. Now, how do we deal with the tunneling
problem as it relates to the fencing? Does that mean we have to
dig deeper, do the walls have to be thicker? How is that
affected by the things that you all said, and you may want to
address that also Mr. Reyes.
Mr. Hunter. We have got some capability to detect tunnels.
Some of it is--is open technology. Some of it is classified
technology. And we found you know as you know we discovered
recently a big tunnel in San Diego. But if you look at the
tunnel we found in San Diego, costs arguably millions of
dollars to dig and that has been a response to the fact that
they can't do what they did in the old days, which was just to
drive over with drug trucks, for example, 300 a month were just
going right through the sage brush and ramming the border, and
when we put the fence up, that stopped that. So you--so like
crime the smuggling industry, and it is an industry can never
be totally eliminated.
What you can do like crime is make it extremely
inconvenient. So when in the old days, a cocaine smuggler who
could simply get in a pickup with a load of cocaine in the back
of that truck and just put it in third gear and roll off right
over Ota Mesa, he is now stopped by the double fence. So he's
now got to invest a lot of money, get a warehouse on this side,
a warehouse on this side and go through a very laborious
process of digging a tunnel and have it, perhaps, for a very
short period of time before it is discovered.
So he's got to make a very massive investment, and that is
kind of the definition of law enforcement is you make crime
very inconvenient. You can never totally wipe it out. But I
think to a large degree, the tunnel and the tunnels that we
found and we found them in Texas, also, to some degree, there
is a reflection of the success of the fence that you can't just
go across anymore.
So we have to keep working on those and we have got
technology that we have been using to go after tunnels.
Mr. Reyes. When I was first appointed chief in McAllen,
which is in south Texas, and I got to McAllen sector, one of
those common ways that smugglers were using to introduce
narcotics into our country through south Texas was to fly it
in. They would fly it below the radar screen, which meant
flying low at night without lights. It wasn't unusual. My
officers would tell me that they'd be out on operations along
the river, and they would hear these aircraft that would come
in, they couldn't see them because they didn't--they ran
without lights but they would come in and drop their cargoes
off just north of our checkpoints, which were about 50 miles
north of the border.
We solved that by putting up the aerostat balloons with a
radar that looked down and we could detect and that problem
stopped just like that. They stopped doing that.
It is like a game of chess. You see what the smuggler is
doing. You counter that and then they are going to do something
else. It's not hard to figure that if we find a virtual fence
and a combination of different resources on the southern
border, to stop people from smuggling either people or
narcotics, that will render the seacoast vulnerable. I mean,
they will start coming up with fast boats along the gulf coast
and along the southern California coast and try to get around
that way, which means then we will have to beef up the Coast
Guard and maybe give them assets to be able to address that.
But that is going to go on as long as it is profitable for
people to smuggle narcotics and as it relates to people, I
think the solution is much simpler and I've been banging my
head up against the wall telling you, my colleagues, that we
ought to be enforcing employer sanctions. If you remove the
magnet for why people are coming here, you are going to stop.
In 1986, when the Immigration Reform and Control Act passed
that everybody now derides the amnesty that we gave back then,
but I will tell you, the most effective tool we had was the
publicity that was generated to tell potential illegal entrants
that they weren't going to be able to get a job because
employers were going to be checked.
Well, what happened? We passed the law but we didn't give
INS Border Patrol the resources to enforce it. Where we had the
resources along the border region because I did employer
sanctions work. My agents did that. It worked very effectively.
The reason people today say that employer sanction has never
worked is because we never gave them the resources. If I had
been President Bush several months back when he announced the
National Guard going to the border, I submit to you it would
have been much more effective and it would have been
dramatically more meaningful if he had said that he was
directing the Secretary of Homeland Security to identify 1,000
officers that were going to fan out around the country and
start enforcing employer sanctions. That one aspect would have
been much more effective than the 6,000 or 10,000 or 8,000
National Guard troops that he did announce, which, by the way,
are also absurdly expensive at a time when we can't afford.
Mr. Hunter. Let me, if I could respond to that last point
that was made. I support employer sanctions, but we still need
to have a fence and we still need to have roads and lights and
sensors and lots of border patrolmen, which I also support, and
the reason for that is this: No matter how we adjust what I
would call the front door with our immigration policy, the idea
of having a--having a way where an employer can verify if his
people are legally in the United States and having sanctions
for people who willfully abuse that and willfully break the law
and don't--and ignore the law on that, you are still going to
have this massive population, 250,000 criminal aliens, quarter
of a million in Federal, State and local penitentiaries, who
come across and could care less about whether they are employed
or not. They come across to commit crimes and they do move back
and forth across the border.
Additionally, we have learned one thing, and that is that
everybody watches television. Around the world they watch
television. And people around the world now know that if you
want to get into the U.S. illegally, you don't come through
L.A. International Airport no more. You come across the land
border between the U.S. and Mexico, or perhaps the land border
between the U.S. and Canada.
Now if you have a virtual fence only that is cameras, the
virtual fence only works if you have a response force very
close by that can move very quickly, and Mr. Chairman, I would
ask that the Sandia Report that was done by our national
laboratory, the guys who design our nuclear weapons
incidentally, that that be included into the hearing because I
think it is very instructive and that they looked at this
thing, and they said you have to be able to slow people down
You have to have an impediment, and if you have the
impediment, that gives that much more leverage to your people,
to your border patrolman. So you don't need as many patrolman,
and I think if you look at the numbers of Border Patrol that we
had in the San Diego sector, 25 percent of the entire force for
the entire Nation was in this sector, that is only about 15
miles, because we didn't have the impediments. When we put the
impediments in place, the fence, we were able to pull border
patrolman out of there and leverage them, the other place where
sensors don't work.
So sensors only work where you have a force that can
immediately come in. The other place they don't work when we
watch the so-called Banzai attacks that was the name given by
the National Guard where thousands of people on a given signal
would come across the border at once. You'd have 25 border
patrolman waiting to catch some people. They would each catch a
person or two and the thousands of others would rush by them
and hit the freeways and get into cars or disappear into the
brush, and so there were ways for people unless you have the
impediment, and Sandia looked at this carefully, the idea of
having only sensors or only cameras with the responsive force
does not work.
And I know we all like sensors. We all like cameras. But
when we have a place like an important military base and we
don't want people to come on to that base, we always have a
Mr. Souder. Mr. Dicks.
Mr. Dicks. As I think the gentlemen knows, I serve as the
ranking Democrat minority member on the Appropriations
Committee. And we had a hearing just the other day, and I think
for the--for my time here, I wanted to just mention this
because all of the great efforts in El Paso and in San Diego
have created a disaster in Arizona. And a disaster to our
national parks and wildlife refugees. Let me give you a few of
the facts here.
Mr. Hunter. We thought you were going to complain about
Mr. Dicks. We have got a problem up there.
Illegal cross border trafficking activities cause
significant impacts on the department of interior, forest
service and tribal lands. Interior has four bureaus with law
enforcement responsibilities on the southwest border totaling
755 miles or 38 percent. I think, what is it, 1,949 miles on
the border. So there are seven fish and wildlife refugees on
the southwest border, totaling 162 miles or 8 percent. There
are 1.1 million acres of Federal wildlife acres of refugees
along the border which provide habitat for endangered species,
migratory birds and wildlife. There are 8 national park units,
a total of 1.2 million acres on the southwest border totaling
354 miles or 18 percent.
There are 155 miles of public land managed by the Bureau of
Land Management, or 8 percent in the southwest border area.
Land impacted within 100 miles of the border that are managed
by BLM include 3.7 acres, million acres in Arizona, 1.8 million
acres in New Mexico, and 3.3 million acres in California. There
are five Indian reservations in the southwest border, totaling
75 miles. There are two national forests. Portions of the
Cleveland National Forest are within 5 miles of the Mexican
border. The Coronado National Forest, Arizona has 60 miles of
common border with Mexico. And let me just talk a little bit
about the environmental degradation that is occurring on the
border as we speak. And I don't think people fully recognize
this, this is why I am trying to take my time here today to
point out the environmental consequences on the border which
are very severe.
During the last 10 years, many formally pristine areas
along the border lands have been extensively degraded by
unprecedented levels of undocumented immigration and the
increasingly intensive enforcement efforts of the Border
Patrol. This degradation began when the Border Patrol started
to focus its operations as immensed on major border cities such
as San Diego, California and El Paso, Texas purposefully
shifting undocumented immigration and other illegal activities
to less patrolled and more remote areas, as has been mentioned
here, especially lands along the Arizona border.
As a result, the once negligible levels of immigration
across Arizona's formidable desert and mountains rapidly
increased. By 2003, agents and the border patrols, Tucson
sector alone had apprehended more than 365,000 migrants
attempting to illegally enter the United States.
This high level of human traffic has taken a heavy toll
throughout the Arizona border lands, especially in the easily
scarred western deserts where migrant and drug smugglers have
created miles of illegal roads, abandoned scores of vehicles,
damaged rare desert springs and wetlands and left behind huge
amounts of trash. The Border Patrol has attempted to deter
illegal immigration within Arizona by applying the same tactics
used in the major border cities.
Adding thousands of additional agents bolstering off-road
vehicles and air patrols and constructive and extensive
infrastructure of fences, walls, lighting systems and roads.
These actions have only resulted in further degradation to the
already stressed national natural environment.
And some would say that a number of these species which are
endangered need to have the land on both sides of the border. I
mean, I know it strikes one as well, just build a fence all the
way across the southern border and we will take care of this
problem, but there would be a lot of other consequences to
doing that, and one of them is in the environmental area.
And so as the ranking Democrat on the Interior
Appropriations Subcommittee, which has responsibility here, I
want to point out to my colleagues that this is a major
environmental issue and if you guys want to comment, I would be
Mr. Hunter. If we could, maybe if Larissa from my staff,
our border lady, could put our poster up, I have got a poster
that shows my good colleague the before and after of a--of the
border fence in San Diego County. There it is beforehand and--
put the first one up there and get it up high where they can
see that. That is a segment about 3 miles east of the Pacific
Ocean, and that as you can see, all of those trails that have
been hammered into the ecosystem there by the smugglers and
also lots of trash thrown there. And if you look, take a look
at that my good colleague, and now take that down, Larissa,
that is the same stretch with the--with the fence in place. It
looks a lot nicer.
Doesn't have any trash and you can see that the trails have
started to heal. In fact, we have got a--we have got a
marshland, an estuary just north of that where the trails by
the smugglers have been pounded so badly that environmentalists
say it will take hundreds of years for those trails to heal.
So stopping the smuggling, whether it's people or narcotics
by having a fence has had a salutary effect on the----
Mr. Dicks. What you have done is save San Diego and as the
Congressman from San Diego, I am sure you are quite proud of
that, but what has happened is you have shifted all of the
traffic out to these desert areas, and now we are destroying
Arizona and New Mexico and the public land out there.
Mr. Hunter. That is why we want to help them with a fence.
Then we are going to head to Washington State.
Mr. Reyes. Well, the comment that I wanted to make was I
originated the policy of deterrence away from apprehension
which is what created the first picture.
And when I wrote my after-action report, that is one of the
things that I made a recommendation is that as we are--as we
effectively managed the heavily populated areas because when I
got El Paso, we were--we were seeing 10,000 entries a day,
10,000 and that is that is tremendous in a 20-mile area. When I
implemented operation Hold a Line, those entries went down to
less than 500. In fact, most days they were around 200 entries,
which is a lot more manageable.
Congressman Hunter made mention of the Banzai charges. We
had those in El Paso. We solved that by putting the agents
right on the border and it, believe it or not, it took a couple
of months, but you reeducate people that you are not going to
come through and then whatever force you are coming, you are
going to respond equally and it's not going to be acceptable
and you do because today El Paso is dramatically different,
just like that picture there of San Diego.
But the point that I wanted to make is that we have never
followed through and the fault goes right here, if we want to
see whose fault it is, all we have to do collectively, as
Members of Congress, is look in the mirror, because we have
left the patrol, the Border Patrol in a lurch by demanding a
comprehensive long-term strategy that involves all the things
that I have already testified to. By not having chiefs come and
tell us or us go ask them what is it that will work in your
area, and yes, by protecting the border.
And, you know, one other part of this thing that hasn't
been said, and I will say it, is that we have got to put
pressure on Mexico to help with their end of the border. Now
the conversations that I have had as a member of the
interparliamentary is that today they are much more willing to
help and we have got to keep that pressure. The new
administration, the past administrations have not been required
to come up and step up and work with us on their side of it.
Let me tell you. The cities of El Paso and Juadis, that is
an area that has almost 3 million people. I will tell you. It
is a better managed border today than the chaos that I found
prior to September 1993. You go on either side of the border
and the residents of those two cities tell you that that border
is better managed today.
Now are there economic implications, and have other things
been impacted? Yeah. But you have to do stepping stone,
stepping stone-type process to make sure that as the flow
shifts, two things very important. One, the flow is not going
to shift in the same numbers. In other words, when I stopped
the 10,000 entries in the 20-mile section between Juadis and El
Paso, 10,000 people didn't rush out to New Mexico to go through
It was significantly reduced, and I am talking about better
than 9,000 decided, you know, I am just going to--I am just
going to stay in Juadis and not go back and forth. So there are
those kinds of consequences, but we simply, as a Congress, have
to--if we are really serious and I submit it is deadly serious
with the threat that we are facing with terrorism, we have to,
on a bipartisan basis, we have to be serious about that and
give the Border Patrol, the Customs and Border Patrol today the
tools that they need and the support that they require by
working with Mexico to come up with these solutions.
It's in everybody's best interest.
Mr. Souder. I thank the gentleman from Texas.
We are going to move ahead to the second panel. I didn't
get a chance to question on the first panel either. Chairman
Hunter had to leave at 4 o'clock.
Mr. Reyes. I have one request. I would like to submit my
prepared text for the record, and I know Chairman Hunter also
had a prepared text that he wanted to go into the record.
Mr. Souder. Yes, we will be happy to submit both for the
record. Also he referred to the Sandia Report, which is 700
pages. We will get an update on that. Thank you very much for
Mr. Lungren. I just want to mention the pictures that Mr.
Hunter have are very instructive about before and after, but as
a southern California native, I must say in a manner of full
disclosure the after picture looks like it was taken in
December, and the before picture looks like in August and while
the fences helped a great deal, I don't think it greened up the
Mr. Souder. Thank you very much.
Our second panel, Mr. Kevin Stevens, Senior Associate Chief
of Customs and Border Protection here on behalf of CBP and if
you will remain standing.
Mr. Souder. Let the record show that witness responded in
STATEMENT OF KEVIN STEVENS, SENIOR ASSOCIATE CHIEF, CUSTOMS AND
Mr. Souder. Thank you very much for your patience with the
vote and along with the first panel. I look forward to your
testimony and to questions as to what the Border Patrol has
done in the fencing area in the Marlboro states.
Mr. Stevens. Thank you, Chairman Souder.
Chairman Souder, members of the subcommittee, I appreciate
the opportunity to testify before you today on behalf of Custom
and Border Protection and the Border Patrol. I am Kevin
Stevens. I am the senior associate chief for Southwest Border
Operation for the Border Patrol. I've been in the patrol for 26
years. I've been a field agent both on the southwest border and
on the Canadian border. I've been a field commander, tactical
officer, and I've been a strategic planner, and in my present
position, I am responsible for strategic planning and
deployment of resources to the southwest border on behalf of
the Border Patrol.
I have, as a field commander and a field agent, I have
lived the issues. I am very familiar with fences. I was the
patrol agent in charge of the Nogales Border Patrol in Arizona
for 2\1/2\ years, and I understand the dynamics of tactical
infrastructure of technology, the proper mix of personnel and
technology as it is employed.
And I understand both the strengths and the weaknesses of
fencing and other tactical infrastructure.
The long and the short of it for me is that border security
is about counterterrorism. Border security is about preventing
narcotics from coming across the border. Border security is
about preventing criminals and people who will do us harm from
entering the United States.
Border security is about maintaining our economic security
and facilitating trade. Border security is about preventing
us--preventing diseases from crossing the border and coming to
this country that can harm us, either diseases carried by
people, plants, animals.
Border security is an all-threats issue. I have heard of a
lot of things discussed today related to the issues related to
a chaotic border to include the environmental issues.
Border security is a major step towards resolving many of
those. Those issues are mitigated by virtue of a controlled
In our planning, as we have moved forward, the key elements
of border control have been, and continue to be that we must be
able to detect the entries when they occur. We must be able to
identify the threat and classify it. We have got to know who
we've got coming across, what they are doing and where they've
headed. We have got to have the capability to respond and
effectively respond to intrusions and bring them to appropriate
law enforcement resolutions.
Meeting the elements of border control will require this
appropriate mix of personnel, infrastructure technology, rapid
mobility, and enforcement capability. The mix of those
different components of the border control or border security
mix will depend on the terrain, the activity levels. Urban
environments are going to require a different mix of those
sources than maybe the more remote or rural environments.
Where we have the tactical advantage, and I have heard that
mentioned already today, we may be able to apply a different
mix of the resources. But ultimately, the goal is to make our
officers and our agents as effective and efficient as possible
in as safe a border environment as we can provide for them to
gain, maintain and expand control of our Nation's borders as
rapidly as we are able to do so.
I am not going to spend a significant amount of time
talking because I would expect you have many questions for me
as a strategic planner and responsibility for the southwest
border of the country for the border patrols operation. And a
lot of what I probably would have talked about has been
discussed in a variety of levels today. So with that, I am
going to close out with we are committed to securing this
Nation's borders. We understand what it is going to take to do
so. And I open it up to questions.
[Prepared statement of Kevin Stevens follows:]
Prepared Statement of Kevin Stevens
Chairman Lungren, Chairman Souder, Ranking Member Sanchez, Ranking
Member Cummings, and other distinguished Members of the subcommittees,
it is a privilege and an honor to appear before you today to discuss
our latest efforts along the border, which include the critical role
tactical infrastructure has in assisting the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS), and especially U.S. Customs and Border Protection
(CBP), in our mission of securing our Nation's borders.
Our immigration system is broken. Every day, thousands of people
try to enter our country illegally. Most of these people are coming to
America to work and provide a better life for their families. Our
strong economy creates the demand for these workers and the migrants
happily supply the labor. After all, in their home countries, they make
only a fraction of what they could make in the United States. This
demand for cheap labor creates tremendous pressure at the border--
making our job to secure the border very difficult.
To most effectively secure our border, we must reform our
immigration system to relieve this pressure. We need comprehensive
immigration reform that provides additional resources for border
security, establishes a robust interior enforcement program, and
creates a temporary worker program.
We are taking significant steps to secure the border--more than any
other time in our history. Since 2001, funding for border security has
increased by 66 percent and we have apprehended and sent home more than
6 million illegal aliens. On May 15, President Bush announced his plan
to increase the number of CBP Border Patrol Agents by 6,000 by the end
of 2008. This will bring the total number of Border Patrol Agents to
over 18,000, doubling the number of agents since the President took
office in 2001. These additional agents will serve as a tremendous
resource and will go a long way in helping us secure the border.
As interim measure, until CBP can hire and train these additional
Border Patrol Agents, the President ordered the Secretary of Defense to
work with our Nation's Governors to deploy up to 6,000 National Guard
soldiers to the Southwest Border. Since the President's Oval Office
address, DHS and CBP have worked closely with the Department of Defense
and National Guard Bureau to get these soldiers integrated in our
efforts to secure the border. We are calling this mission Operation
As of July 18, there are over 3,800 National Guard troops on duty
for Operation Jump Start and in the four Southwest Border States. These
troops are making a difference. Over the last several weeks, the
National Guard has contributed to over 1,200 alien apprehensions and
helped seize over 12,200 pounds of Marijuana. Even if this infusion
were not occurring, there would be hundreds of National Guard troops
assisting DHS in our counter-narcotics mission. The Guard troops have
also allowed us to move 183 Border Patrol Agents from the back offices,
where they were performing essential support functions and logistics
jobs, to the front lines. These Agents are now working every day on the
border to detect and apprehend illegal aliens, and seize narcotics and
The National Guard soldiers currently are, or will be, supporting
the Border Patrol with logistical and administrative support, operating
detection systems, providing mobile communications, augmenting border-
related intelligence analysis efforts, building and installing border
security infrastructure, and providing training. However, law
enforcement along the border between the ports of entry will remain the
responsibility of Border Patrol agents. The National Guard will play no
direct law enforcement role in the apprehension, custodial care, or
security of those who are detained. With the National Guard providing
surveillance and logistical support, Border Patrol agents are free to
concentrate on law enforcement functions of border enforcement. The
National Guard engineering and technology support of tactical
infrastructure has been a tremendous force-multiplier, expanding the
enforcement capacity of the Border Patrol while freeing up additional
agents who were performing some of these support tasks.
The Border Patrol has a history of nearly two decades working with
National Guard and Reserve units to leverage their unique expertise,
workforce, technology, and assets, in support of our mission and as a
force-multiplier. We're proud to work shoulder-to-shoulder with our
National Guard colleagues. They have given us a tremendous jumpstart on
our long-term plan to secure the border--the Secure Border Initiative.
As I mentioned earlier, National Guard support will be an
immediate, short-term measure that allows DHS to increase our
deterrence and border security capabilities, while DHS trains
additional Border Patrol agents and implements the Secure Border
Initiative (SBI), which is a broad, multi-year initiative that looks at
all aspects of the problem across the board--deterrence, detection,
apprehension, detention, and removal. SBI, as envisioned by the
Secretary and Commissioner, addresses the challenges we face with
integrating the correct mix of increased staffing, greater investment
in detection technology and infrastructure, and enhanced coordination
with our partners at the Federal, state, local, and international
levels for every segment of our Nation's borders. CBP Border Patrol's
component of SBI, named SBInet, will integrate multiple state of the
art systems and traditional security infrastructure into a single
comprehensive border security suite for the department. Under SBI, DHS
wants to create a common operating picture for agents, via the use of
integrated sensors and other interoperable technologies and systems.
The technologies will help agents detect, identify and respond to
There is no stretch of border in the United States that can be
considered completely inaccessible or lacking in the potential to
provide an entry point for a terrorist or terrorist weapon. Stretches
of border that in the past were thought to be impenetrable, or at least
highly unlikely locations for entry into the United States, have in
recent years, become active illegal entry corridors as other routes
have been made less accessible to smugglers. We must consider all
available information, including the vulnerability of our Nation's
borders, when determining future infrastructure requirements and asset
SBI undertakes an integrated approach to the continuum of border
security and future deployments of personnel, infrastructure and
technology. The deployment of the various components will be risk
based, considering, for example, current intelligence, operational
environment and field commander's requirements. Under this approach,
one portion of the border may require more technology in relation to
personnel, while another portion may require more tactical
infrastructure improvements than either personnel or technology. SBI
will not be a `one-size-fits all' deployment.
One part of SBI, is the placement of Tactical Infrastructure (TI),
such as fencing, vehicle barriers, high intensity lighting, and road
improvements. These infrastructure elements act as a force multiplier,
helping agents to secure the border, with speed and flexibility of
personnel redeployment made possible by shortened response times. TI
elements are critical for the U.S. Border Patrol to achieve the proper
balance between personnel, technology, and border infrastructure. But,
TI alone will not secure the border.
We recognize the challenges that lie ahead. Our goal is nothing
less than to gain, maintain, and expand operational control of our
Nation's borders through the right mix of personnel, technology, and
tactical infrastructure. The assistance of the National Guard and our
Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners, will
greatly enhance our ability to effectively and efficiently protect our
The men and women of U.S. Customs and Border Protection face these
challenges every day with vigilance, dedication to service, and
integrity, as we work to strengthen national security and protect
America and its citizens. I would like to thank you for the opportunity
to present this testimony today. I look forward to responding to any
questions that you might have.
Mr. Souder. Before I start questioning, and don't start the
clock, let me express, first, my disappointment because we had
asked Customs and Border Protection to talk about fencing. They
had lengthy discussions about talking about fencing. Yesterday,
the Education Committee talked about work visas and how you do
work permits and immigration. Judiciary is talking about all
sorts of internal things. We have had multiple hearings talking
about all of the types of electronics and other types of
This hearing is about fencing. I was hoping that you would
say something since that you have fencing in San Diego, fencing
in El Paso, fencing in Nogales, fencing in multiple places,
about what you have learned works and doesn't work in fencing.
So if we could kind of start over here. Could you tell us a
little bit about what you have learned, some of the costs that
you have run in to, some of the difficulties why you would say
in urban areas you know, why you use some kind of fencing in
some areas. I would like to hear from Customs and Border
Protection about what you have learned from fencing. Quite
frankly, if you are not prepared to talk about it, we might as
well go to the third panel.
Mr. Stevens. I am prepared to talk about that. We have
today, fencing about 75 miles of it across the--across our
southwest border. It's placed in specific areas where we have
heavy urban population. Where we have many people that will
attempt to cross as pedestrians. Typically, a smuggler is going
to attempt to exploit the urban infrastructure. The urban
infrastructure provides the easy access, urban areas provide
them with a tactical advantage and puts us at a significant
tactical disadvantage. That, sir, is where we find pedestrian
fencing to be extremely valuable, the pedestrian fencing in
concert with the appropriate level of personnel, the
technology, does, in fact, deter traffic away from those areas
where we don't have the tactical advantage. They will move off,
they will move off to areas where we have a greater tactical
advantage over terrain and we can address it through a
different mix. But the 75 miles of fence that we have today in
place in specific strategic locations that are tactically
employed to address the pedestrian dynamic places where people
are going to want to cross is very successful for us.
Again, we experiment, and successfully, with additional
enhancements, even to our fencing. We have some areas where we
have a single landing mat fence, for example, in Nogales,
Arizona where I was the agent in charge, I had a single landing
mat fence because at that time, that was all we had room to
place. It is all the land that we had capability to deploy on.
So we enhanced the fence with super structure on top of it to
further deter and further slow down and delay the entry of
people trying to come across the border.
And in addition to our patrols, on the line we had our
cameras overlooking the fence. On those cameras we deployed
what we referred to as deterrence technology, high intensity
lighting that could be turned on and turned off by the camera
operators. If they supported somebody trying to come across the
border, we were able to use the combination of that fence to
delay them and deter them and the cameras to spot them and then
the high intensity lighting to let them know that they'd been
And we found that we were able to manage the same area with
that proper set of infrastructure support with far fewer Border
Patrol agents per mile. The agents could respond and react to
what was spotted by the cameras. Many of the people were
deterred by the fact that they--while they were struggling to
get over the fence or trying to get through it, we were able to
let them know that they had been detected in doing so and then
they would move off to areas that provided us with a greater
tactical advantage. We were able to move agents out to those
areas and expand our operations in support of that.
San Diego, the same or similar situation, it was a
significant overrun area. Chaotic border environment. We
expanded our fencing capabilities. We expanded with single
fence, double fence and triple fence, as was discussed earlier
today. And we put lights in there, we put patrol roads, we put
border toll road agencies in there. Initially it took more
Border Patrol agents to bring it under control as the
deterrence impact of the infrastructure took hold, then we were
able to reduce the number of Border Patrol agents deployed to
those areas. We are now moving forward with adding detection
capabilities to that mix. And we are exploring again deterrence
technologies, we refer to it, that will further support through
the technology that is available to us or will become available
to us the benefit that the fence brings us.
We have fences in areas such as the Laredo sector even
though the Laredo sector is along the Rio Grande River, the
aliens will cross that river in some areas and they will move
to come in. The--if it is problematic, again, in an area where
once they have been able to breach whatever natural barrier is
provided, if the time that they have to be able to move in to
an urban center or an urban community is short and we don't
have the tactical advantage, the pedestrian fence provides us
the tactical advantage of time and the ability to respond more
effectively and more efficiently to that.
There are areas that we would look at today and say that
possibly another solution set might be viable where mother
nature has provided us with the barriers. But in those areas
that where we have urban populations where we don't have the
tactical advantage of time to react, the fencing structure and
the fencing systems are absolutely viable and critical to our
Mr. Souder. I am still looking for a couple of things but
let me ask some questions to see if I can draw some of this
Is it fair to say that San Diego started as an urban fence
but you continued to move east into less urban areas?
Mr. Stevens. Chairman, it is. What we find, again, in an
area where we have a larger population, if you will, of
pedestrian traffic attempting to cross where they can access
even in a not heavily urbanized area, if they move out to a
certain distance and still want to cross afoot, then extending
the fence out to that limit is important.
Mr. Souder. So you felt that it also worked in the less
urban areas if there was not a physical barrier, because
doesn't the San Diego fence go all the way to the mountains.
Mr. Stevens. Yes. In that area chairman, yes. Again, we are
dealing with a major population center. The real key----
Mr. Souder. Isn't it also true in El Paso that going
towards New Mexico that with the exception of where the road
comes up to the river you basically have fencing out until it
goes to the mountains going north and west from El Paso it
stops as it goes into the hills, and then the fence picks up
again over where the road is by Sunnyland and goes out into the
rural areas? In other words, it isn't just an urban fence that
you currently have. It goes out into the rural areas as long as
that is contiguous until you run into what was assumed a
Mr. Stevens. Chairman, it's not necessarily based on
topography in this case.
Mr. Souder. Let us take the example of Nogales then. Why
does the fence stop at each end in Nogales?
Mr. Stevens. The fence stops at each end of Nogales because
it is against--when we get beyond the ends of the fence, we get
to the point where it's more likely that somebody is going to
try to come across by vehicle, the time that it would take for
them to cross the border and get into the community begins to
become extended and we begin to achieve a tactical advantage of
terrain. Not necessarily a physical barrier, but a tactical
advantage of them not being able to get into the community
infrastructure as quickly as they can from within the
El Paso, there is a lot of community to be able to access
even in what is deemed to be maybe suburban or rural areas. But
once we get away from the area where--it is a matter of time
for us, Mr. chairman. If they have the tactical advantage of
time and can get to a road, can get to a community, can get
into the smuggling infrastructure and escape us, then we need
to delay them by whatever means possible. And if they are doing
so on foot, then a pedestrian fence is appropriate.
Again, it's not based specifically on terrain. It is based
for us on time and tactical advantage that can be obtained by
Mr. Souder. Would you say that certain kinds of fences have
an easier--what have you learned starting with barbed wire
fences, they clearly were cut and moved, for example, in
Arizona, knocked down. That is kind of passe at this point.
That in certain fences in San Diego and others, clearly they
are cutting them on a regular basis. Have you evolved in your
thinking of making fences that are more secure and less able to
Mr. Stevens. Yes. We have experienced with a variety of
different fence styles. We began at one time, of course, we
mentioned the barbed wire. There are areas where we use chain
link fence for a period of time. That is easily cut through. If
it's a chain link fence, particularly if it's applied directly
at the border where they can sit on the Mexican side or the
foreign side and cut it, then it's not going to work well for
We moved in to utilizing what we have referred to as the
landing mat fence, a structure using the landing mat material
that the military provided us for a variety of reasons. One was
it was free in terms it was donated to us by a fellow agency or
department. And it was solid. Even with the landing mat fence
as we have been able to get that in line, we have discovered
that there are some issues with that. The landing mat fence, it
is opaque. So if the landing mat fence is sitting in an area
where you don't have it heavily patrolled or if you don't have
cameras to look over the top of it to observe people and their
activity, they have time. They have time sitting on the foreign
side to be able to attempt to defeat it.
Even with the landing mat fence, as they attempted to cut
through it with torches and take actions of that nature, we
discovered that by putting a small section of landing mat up, 4
inches into the fence and filling it with cement, cutting
torches wouldn't work. The landing mat fence is still viable as
long as we apply the appropriate systems to it.
Other things that we found were that people were climbing
over the top of the landing mat fence depending on the height
of it or, in some cases, they would put ladders up against it
and come over the top. One of the things I experienced when I
was in Nogales was people who were not really physically
capable of climbing the fence on their own, they would get
assistance to climb the fence and then not be able to handle
their own weight when they came over the top of the fence and
we would have people losing fingers on the fence, we would have
people breaking ankles coming to the ground with compound
fractures. That was among the things that we were faced that
prompted us to place an additional structure on top of the
fence that even with assistance, somebody who was not
physically strong would not be able to negotiate the fence.
It stopped those people from even trying and significantly
delayed even the most able.
Once we also applied an ability to let them know that they
had been detected trying to breach that fence by using the
deterrence technology, then that further improved the
capability of that system.
What we have found as we have moved forward we have
experiments with what we call a Bollard style fence, which is a
series of cement bollards set at very close intervals to one
another. We can look through those and see the other side.
There is some limited visibility that we found, but that was an
effective though somewhat expensive process at the time. We
found that it was useful in areas, for example, where we have
water that is flowing and we don't want to impede the water
flow, or we don't want to damage the land as a result of water
backups. The bollard fence is very useful in those types of
And it is difficult to breach. They've got to chip away at
the cement structure to make that happen. We have also moved to
a system metal bollard built very much the same way, close
interval to one another that we are finding it very useful.
Again, we can see activity on the other side of it and we can
observe what they are doing. It is difficult to tamper with and
it's very good for water crossings and water flow areas that we
are operating in.
We use, in California, for example, a system of the landing
mat material as the primary fence. We are deploying the cameras
to get a better visibility of it. We have a lighted area that
we can patrol in between the primary and the secondary fence.
The secondary fence we will use the Sandia type fence which is
expanded metal. Again, we can see activity. We can tell if
somebody is tampering with that fence and we found that be a
very viable fence as well.
There are a wide variety of different types of systems that
we can employ in single fences, multiple barrier systems, in
one area we may move through where we put a particular landing
mat system in place as a Sandia backup. If we have got low
water, we will move to a Ballard for that purpose, long enough
to get through that section and then revert back to the landing
mat fence again when we move out from there.
So we have experimented with a variety of different types
of fence. We have found that some are more tamper resistant
then others. But the long and the short for us is that a fence
does, in fact, deter some and it definitely delays even those
that won't be deterred giving us that tactical advantage that
we wouldn't otherwise have without that system in place.
Mr. Souder. Thank you. Mr. Cummings.
Mr. Cummings. Thank you very much. Chief, let me ask you
this. We have, in House Resolution 4437, an amendment that is
part of the bill now that says it mandates construction of 854
miles of double layer fencing. Are you familiar with that? You
are familiar with--are you familiar with what was passed by The
Mr. Stevens. Yes, I am, sir.
Mr. Cummings. And were you consulted on that? In other
words, were you consulted by the Republicans with regard to
Mr. Stevens. I can't say that I was personally consulted.
Mr. Cummings. All right. Well, that is fine.
Do you--can you look the American people in the eye and say
that this is something that is needed and it is, in other
words, in order to effectively stop folks from coming over on
our southwest border, we need an 854-mile double layered fence.
And is that the most practical use of our taxpayer dollars, in
your opinion? I mean, you are on the ground; is that right?
Mr. Stevens. No. I am here in Washington now.
Mr. Cummings. No. No. But you were on the ground; is that
Mr. Stevens. Yes.
Mr. Cummings. And you spent some time when you first sat
down talking about your experience, and I do admire you and I
thank you for that experience.
What I am getting at, though, is our President has
consistently talked about Iraq, and when he talks about Iraq he
says we ought to listen to the people who are on the ground. I
want to listen to you on the ground. What is it that we need?
You have to deal with this. You have got men and women who are
risking their lives every day. We are the Congress of the
United States of America, and it is our duty and our
responsibility to work with you to help you do your job.
Our constituents are screaming for help from--and all kinds
of help saying look, protect our borders. And all I am asking
you as one who has dedicated some 20 some years to protecting
our borders, what is it that you would say to the Congress of
the United States which is responsible, by the way, for
allocating money, putting money out there to help you help us
and our Nation, what is it that would best serve you? What kind
of policies? This is your day.
Mr. Stevens. We need, for border control, for border
security, we need that appropriate mix. It's not about fences.
It's not about Border Patrol agents. It's not about technology.
It's about all of those things. And the appropriate mix must be
determined by our planners and our field commanders. I don't
want to sit here, sir, and give you a dollar figure or a mile
figure for any of these components. I want to be very dependent
on our field commanders. I was personally involved in
establishing a planning process within the Border Patrol that
would bring that information to us from our field commanders.
And that information, even as it comes to us today, is revised,
depending on the dynamics of the operation.
But I would ask for the support to accelerate the effort to
allow us to continue our gain, maintain and expand process
using this proper mix, and not concern ourselves with whether
it's 800 miles of fence or 300 miles of fence. That is not the
issue in my mind as a planner. The issue is deploying the
appropriate mix as our field commanders and our field planners
deem appropriate to their strategic and tactical solution on
Mr. Cummings. I want you to understand I am not asking you
for dollar figures, and I really appreciate your being very
candid and open with me on what you just said. But let me take
it one step further so that we will be clear as to what you
mean by the mix.
And I realize it is fluid but can you just give me the
elements of the mix? I realize that there may be one mix for
one area there may be another mix for another. But just list
the mix type things that you are talking about. Would one of
them be, for example, making sure that employers are penalized
and checked if they are employing people who you are trying to
stop from coming across the border? Would that be one?
Mr. Stevens. As a Border Patrol agent, I have experienced
the angst, if you will, of being on the line and being
frustrated by the fact that we look to border security, we look
to border control when there is, in fact, a deeper issue at
If you are asking me to talk policy. If you are asking me
to talk the political issues regarding illegal immigration that
is--I definitely have an opinion about that.
Mr. Cummings. Let me tell you what I am trying to do so
you'll be very clear. I am not trying to play any games. What I
am saying to you is that I just want to know--I have a job and
these folks up here have a job. We are elected by over 600,000
people each to serve and do those things in their best
interests. You are an agent of those same people. And all I am
asking you, as one who is paid by the Government of the United
States of America, one who is our agent, one who is an expert
who is on the ground who--and you may be in Washington now, but
at one point, you were on the ground. We may not have as much
access to information as you do, and all I am asking you is
what will best allow us to help you accomplish what you
accomplish every day.
Your men are being--and women are being placed on the line
and we are trying to figure out what is this mix. You keep
saying a mix. And the only thing I want to know is what is a
mix and Mr. Chairman, I would appreciate it if you would let
him answer the question.
Mr. Stevens. The mix, again, there is--what we are talking
here philosophically is the mix what you are asking me for
border security as an enforcement role. Are you asking me for a
mix of a border policy and political decision?
Mr. Cummings. Let me help you. You said fencing is one
thing, is that right, things that help us keep people out of
this country that should not be here. That is what I am asking
Mr. Stevens. On the line for border security for border
control, we need Border Patrol agents. We need response
capability. We need vehicles. We need aircraft. We need
tactical infrastructure. We need fences where they are
appropriate. We need roads to be able to get to the people when
they come across in areas where we don't have access today. We
need air mobile capability to fly to those areas where we don't
have, or maybe don't want to put roads. We need the technology
solution. We need the ability to be able to detect that entry,
as I mentioned earlier, to identify and classify the threat.
The greatest threat today to a Border Patrol agent in a
remote area of operation, in my mind, is the fact we identify
the level of threat, we learn what we are up against at the
point of interdiction. When we step up behind that bush to take
those people into custody, that is when we learn whether these
people are narcotic smugglers, criminals, how many there are,
we need to have, again, that mix of enforcement resources, but
enforcement force multipliers, the response capability that
brings us that enforcement capacity to be more than a nuisance
to smugglers on the border but an overwhelming enforcement
force that they don't wish to come up against.
Mr. Cummings. Thank you very much, and we thank you and the
men and women who serve with you, because we know it is a very
risky job, very dangerous and we just thank you very much.
Mr. Souder. Chairman Lungren.
Mr. Lungren. Thank you. Thank you very much for your
service, Chief, and thank you for your children's service. From
what I understand from your resume, you have a daughter that is
in the Border Patrol?
Mr. Stevens. I do, sir.
Mr. Lungren. And you have a son that is serving in the
Mr. Stevens. In Iraq.
Mr. Lungren. And you have a son that is serving in the
Arizona Department of Corrections?
Mr. Stevens. I do.
Mr. Lungren. So you have family boots on the ground.
Mr. Stevens. Yes, I do.
Mr. Lungren. We thank you for that and we appreciate your
service. A couple of things. You talk about the mix. Boots on
the ground is part of the mix.
Mr. Stevens. Boots on the ground is absolute.
Mr. Lungren. Technology is part of the mix.
Mr. Stevens. Bricks and mortar, tactical infrastructure,
the fences, the vehicle barriers, the roads.
Mr. Lungren. Let me ask you this.
Mr. Dicks. Will the gentleman yield for 10 seconds?
Do you have enough of those things you just talked about to
do the job?
Mr. Stevens. Today we do not.
Mr. Lungren. Let me ask you a question on that then. How
many cameras do you have in your inventory that are not
deployed right now?
Mr. Stevens. I would have to get back to you on that
Mr. Lungren. You can you submit that for the record.
Mr. Stevens. Yes, we will.
Mr. Lungren. Can you tell me whether the Border Patrol has
software which allows for--I don't know if I call it artificial
intelligence, but allows, without you to be constantly
monitoring it, to be able to detect through the cameras whether
it's an animal versus a person versus a vehicle, identify
particular objects of concern?
Mr. Stevens. We have--I assume what you are--what you are
describing is a camera that would identify the difference and
then alert an operator?
Mr. Lungren. Right.
Mr. Stevens. No, we don't. Not today.
Mr. Lungren. Are you aware if ICE has that?
Mr. Stevens. I am not aware whether they do.
Mr. Lungren. If you were aware--if it were the case that
ICE had that and you were to make a request to have that
transferred to Border Patrol, is that possible within your
agency, your department?
Mr. Stevens. Within the Department of Homeland Security? I
would believe it is. It would depend on what ICE is presently
using it for.
Mr. Lungren. What if it's not using it? What if it's
sitting on the shelf somewhere?
Mr. Stevens. Then we would definitely make the request.
Mr. Lungren. You said you had 75 miles of fencing right
now. And you said that it would be the determination of those
chiefs of the various sectors, their recommendations that would
indicate to you to help you make a decision as to how many more
miles it would be effective, correct?
Mr. Stevens. Yes.
Mr. Lungren. Has there been preliminary investigation of
that and preliminary planning of that in anticipation of us
passing some legislation in view of the fact that both the
House and the Senate have mandates for additional fences?
Mr. Stevens. Yes, we do have the preliminary information
and have a pretty solid handle on what we think in today's
Mr. Lungren. With that solid handle, can you tell me, is
this primarily in the urban areas and if it is primarily in the
urban areas, do you also have it extending in non-urban areas,
that is, initial planning?
Mr. Stevens. For fences specifically, yes, it is primarily
in the urban areas and it does extend to some of the less urban
areas where we have, for example, an issue of time. Tolerance
to how deep we will allow them or can allow them to move inland
before we need to take them into custody is a key issue. And if
the tolerance to entry, even if it's a rural or remote area, if
tolerance, distance wise, is very short, then that chief would
employ that type of resource.
Mr. Lungren. What lessons--I presume if you look at this in
anticipation of the possibility that we are going to pass
legislation and mandate that at least some fences be built,
what lessons have you learned or what--I assume you have done
an analysis of how effective or ineffective the San Diego
fencing has been. Can you give us any idea of what lessons you
have learned, that is the Border Patrol has learned from the
experience in San Diego?
Mr. Stevens. Yes. The San Diego experience has taught us
that one, fences do work in these environments in the
appropriate areas. It has taught us that in some cases we may
need to go with the secondary fence in order to assure the
But one other thing that we have learned, and that is to
make the most efficient use of our agent resources, the people
that we train, pay and employ to do the job. The addition of
the deterrence technology, the technology call systems is
another benefit that allows us to reduce the number of agents
we are using in a particular given area, give that agent more
mobility and allow for expansion out to the more rural areas
where we can use that agent to exploit the tactical advantage
that times gives us.
Mr. Lungren. Have you made any judgment with respect to the
utility of unmanned aerial recognizance vehicles?
Mr. Stevens. We have employed unmanned aerial recognizance
vehicles. We initially employed in the Tucson sector during the
time that I was there as an assistant chief. We found that any
aerial platform is valuable to us and the UA system was a--and
is a good system. We are employing them now as a result of
those initial tests.
What we found is that if we can establish the high ground,
virtual or otherwise, that is a technology advantage we have
that provides us the situational awareness to exploit the
tactical advantages that the terrain will give us in those
areas where we can employ it.
Mr. Lungren. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Souder. We heard earlier that the boots on the ground,
so to speak, opposed to San Diego fence that you are now saying
works and that while Congressman Reyes spoke out, in fact, the
Border Patrol opposed the El Paso fence that now works. What
was the experience in Nogales?
Mr. Stevens. The experience in Nogales, Mr. Chairman, was
that we believed it would work and when we employed it, it did
work. By that time we had learned a valuable lesson and we
turned the corner from what was previously a mindset of
apprehending people as opposed to try to deter them.
Mr. Dicks. How many people are coming across the border
today? On an average day, what is the number?
Mr. Stevens. I can tell you what we are apprehending in a
year. At this point, I can't tell you with any certainty how
many people are actually coming across the border, sir.
Mr. Dicks. How many are you apprehending?
Mr. Stevens. We arrested last year 1.2 million people.
Mr. Dicks. 1.2 million.
Mr. Stevens. Yes, we made 1.2 million arrests. I should
clarify that point. The 1.2 million arrests were a variety of
incidents, some people being apprehended more than once because
there were multiple attempts.
Mr. Dicks. Let's go back to the mix. You said you are
short. I have been up here. I have had chance as a member of
the Appropriations Committee to vote on a number of amendments
to increase the funding that have been voted down,
unfortunately, by the majority party and I try to approach this
job in a very nonpartisan way, but I want to make that point.
There have been efforts in the Congress to add money for border
patrols, there have been for detention beds and immigration
agents. All of these amendments have been voted down by the
people who are now holding these hearings, which bothers me
somewhat because if we had put them, if we had passed the
amendments we might not be having these hearings today because
you would have the resources necessary.
Now, how much short, you know--and in fact the majority
party voted for the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 in which--
and they are now short 800 Border Patrol agents, 5,000
detention beds and 500 immigration agents of the very bill that
So not only have they--they have authorized it but when
they cut down the funding--and we are in a tough financial
situation. Everybody recognizes that. But they haven't funded
And how short are you on border agents? How many are you
Mr. Stevens. We have initial estimates that would take us
upwards of 19 to 20,000, but these are only initial estimates
Mr. Dicks. How many do you have now?
Mr. Stevens. We are around 12,000 now.
Mr. Dicks. So 19 to 20,000. How many detention beds are you
Mr. Stevens. I don't have a number on detention beds.
Mr. Dicks. Can you give us one for the record? How many
immigration agents are you short along the border?
Mr. Stevens. Again I don't have that number. The detention
beds and the immigration agents are with our sister agency ICE.
Mr. Dicks. We have to get those from ICE. So you are at
present about 7,000 to 8,000 agents short of what you need to
do the job, is that correct?
Mr. Stevens. Our initial calculations as they stand today
but, again, sir, allow me to reiterate it is not just about
Mr. Dicks. How much are you short on technology?
Mr. Stevens. We are still working through that. We have
several miles, in fact several hundred miles of border that
need to be surveilled. We need detection capability.
Mr. Dicks. Do you have any numbers or estimates on that?
Mr. Stevens. I don't have those with me. We are still
working those numbers to, again with, in conjunction----
Mr. Dicks. Third amount was fencing. Are there ways of
Mr. Stevens. Tactical infrastructure in general, which
involves fencing, barriers, roads. It can be helicopter landing
pads, it can be boat ramps. Tactical infrastructure is a
variety of different systems that we employ. Forward operating
bases fall within that. It depends on the tactical situation in
the area. And also as we move forward, looking toward the
Secure Border Initiative and SBInet, we intend to clarify
working with industry partners the actual figures, the actual
numbers and develop the final solution.
Mr. Dicks. Now you heard my comments about the impact on
the environment, on our parks and our wildlife refuges and BLM
land. What is the strategy to try to minimize the impact on our
national parks and our wildlife refuges which are also
important to the American people?
Mr. Stevens. We are working very closely with the
Department of Interior, with our environmental partners. Just
as a personal note, the Director of their enforcement entity
was actually assigned for a period of time with Office of
Border Patrol and assigned to my division when I was in
operations planning and analysis for strategic planning. We
partnered with them to identify where the greatest impacts and
work together to mitigate the impacts. We recognize
collectively that the chaotic border environment, particularly
in our southwest border in these sensitive areas, is
devastating to those lands.
Our goal is to work with them to establish the systems that
be that will allow us to reduce the traffic flow in those areas
and ultimately allow those areas to recover.
Again this gets into the different mix. The personnel,
infrastructure and technology in those areas is going to vary
depending on the tolerance for how far these people can go. We
may have a day to apprehend them in a remote area, but that
doesn't mean we want to take a day to apprehend them. We are
going to employ the resources that allow us to apprehend them
as close to the point of entry as is practical under the
circumstances. Not necessarily right on the border, but as
close to the point of entry as is practical.
It will save the environment. It will save potentially
their lives in these remote areas if we can catch them before
they get into distress. And it will send a strong deterrence
message that we are looking for. And so we are working very
closely with our partners in the Department of Interior and
other agencies involved for protecting our lands and
understanding that, again, border security in those areas is as
much about environmental protection as it is about the other
categories that I mentioned in my opening remarks.
Mr. Dicks. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Souder. What is the average salary of a Border Patrol
agent? I don't want just the starting because if people get
hired they are not going to be just starting. What would you
say is an average salary? In other words, starting and ending,
some kind of a approximation.
What is the starting salary?
Mr. Stevens. I don't have those figures with me. I can get
that to you. I have got, I can get the entire schedule.
Mr. Souder. I would like both an estimate of the starting
and then if there can be some kind of an averaging. I know you
get an aging, but I am looking for a rough figure. Also what
the cost, any company that does a cost doesn't just look at the
salary. They look at what are the benefits that go with that,
the health costs, the pension costs. So we get an idea of if we
plus up 8,000, if we plus up higher, what are the costs we are
looking at? What are the trade-offs?
Do you believe if you had more fences that you would have
less agents like you have had now? In other words, I am not
arguing less than 12,000, and personally I believe that 20,000
will not cover the border, that you have to have lots of other
things because I see lots of single unit, pretty much all
single unit agents right now out in the middle of nowhere with
drug trucks coming at them often heavily armed. It is not clear
in these open areas, as we move into these open areas and away
from the ports of entry, that they can actually engage or get
enough support fast enough. At one point there was a group of
seven SUVs that shot their way through with a Blackhawk on
them. The Border Patrol managed to take down a number of those.
But the lead vehicle got through with tons of narcotics, and
this is a complex challenge. We don't put policeman on the
street with just one to a car.
Part of the reason we need to look at fencing and whether
it is electronic or other types of air vehicles, to track, is
that we are, as we make it harder, and the pressure gets
greater, I am not arguing for a decline in the number of Border
Patrol agents here. We are trying to figure out what can
fencing do with gaps in those fencing so you can kind of manage
the flow more, slow them down, look where you have the
irrigation breaks, where you have to pull off of fish and
wildlife, where the Rio Grande floods. Would you feel that if
there was a higher than 780 miles of the border fenced you
would need fewer agents than 20,000 or do you feel that you
need the fence plus the additional 8,000 agents?
Mr. Stevens. The fencing, and again I am reluctant to talk
miles, but the fencing is part of that mix based on the
calculations that we have today, would not replace but would
augment the agents that we are looking for. I would not
anticipate that we need fewer agents than what I have mentioned
if we began to apply more fencing to the solution.
Mr. Souder. And I have emphasized without the 700 miles you
are going to need 30 or 40,000 agents because it is going to
become more violent and more pressure.
Have you looked at Neely's Crossing? Most of the maps and
proposals I have seen, anybody that goes down there sees that
the Rio Grande is not a free flowing river there. To the degree
it is free flowing it is very shallow at Neely's Crossing, you
have a gravel base. Maybe you can explain for the American
people a little bit what we face there that when we do put up,
as you have put up, barriers that they get knocked down and why
and do you have proposals in particular for that area?
Mr. Stevens. Yes. It is a unique coincidence that I began
my career in Fort Hancock Station. I am familiar with that area
specifically because I spent 4 years as a Border Patrol agent
on the line out there. The river in that section of Texas is
very shallow. It can be driven across in many spots, waded
across in most.
An area like Neely's Crossing where you have not much
distance, again the entry point of the United States and the
nearest road that somebody can access and begin to move out,
Neely's Crossing is an example of a place where you don't see a
lot of pedestrians trying to come across, but they will try to
come across in vehicles as occurred in the incident that you
are making reference to, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Souder. Where a truck attempted to cross with anywhere
between 4 and 5 tons of marijuana? We sit here talking about
street busts. We sit here talking about whether or not somebody
can smuggle a little bit of chemical-biological-nuclear coming
across. They have trucks coming across with 5 tons. Would you
like to talk about the bulldozer on the other side that
activated itself when I was out there 2 weeks ago?
Mr. Stevens. I am not familiar with the bulldozer
Mr. Souder. There is a bulldozer in the woods on the other
side that plows through our berms and knocks down some of the
types of barriers we put up. Does this not suggest that this
might want to be an area that is a priority?
Mr. Stevens. Yes. And we are looking hard at what type of
solution will be the appropriate solution out there.
Any area where we are that is remote, they are going to use
systems that are going to have, again, if a barrier, whatever
system we place, is in place on the border and we don't have
the detection capability to observe it to know if somebody is
approaching it to tamper with it, then we are going to be at a
disadvantage. As long as they can tamper with it to try to
defeat it from the foreign side without our knowledge, that is
going to be an issue and those are the things that we ask our
field commanders to look at, what solution would work for this
given area, and it varies significantly from area to area.
Mr. Souder. The implication today has been that the rural
areas aren't a good place to put a fence where I would tend to
almost think the opposite because what one of the challenges
you are facing there is that as we get better at interdiction
at ports of entry in those intensive areas and more
surveillance and so on, while we may not move the same
numbers--although that is not clear from the illegal
immigration from the United States, the rise in meth now coming
across the border. They are coming through somewhere and as we
saw in Arizona they weren't going through the Tohono O'Odham
Indian Reservation and all of a sudden they are pouring through
the Tohono O'Odham Reservation. Douglas, Arizona became the big
news hotspot. What I understand from some of your numbers, New
Mexico is starting to see the next rise. We are pushing them
into the next zone if we squeeze a little in El Paso. The
problem here is unless you have a holistic border question,
that all you do is move to the next gap and in fact you put the
most dangerous criminals and the drug runners and terrorists,
anybody who is going to smuggle something; in other words, more
high value contraband or humans into those high risk areas
where we are weakest. Why wouldn't we be to some degree fencing
there since that is actually probably our highest risk
population? If you are immigration only question, then you have
a little bit different strategy than when you look at in these
We have had open testimony in our committee and in Homeland
Security--I believe this was a Homeland Security hearing--from
Mr. Garcia, when he was there, that New Mexico was the primary
place where smuggling of Middle Eastern people occur. $30,000
for a package was public testimony.
That would to me suggest that that becomes a priority, that
needs a mixing because when we squeeze one area we move to
another. And to the degree you make it harder in those areas
they will move back towards the urban areas. What is wrong with
that scenario? Everything else seems to concentrate in urban,
and we push them to the rural. We now wind up pushing them to
the rural and they are harder to get at. Why wouldn't we try to
do something where we can push them back towards the points of
Mr. Stevens. Mr. Chairman, I don't feel that they are
harder to get in the urban areas than they are in the rural.
The rural areas, provided we have the capability to deploy, we
have the response capability, we have the access to the area,
the reason that as a strategic planner and as a tactical
planner--and again I am going to speak a generality here for
purposes of this. As I mentioned earlier, it is going to depend
even some rural remote areas we may look, depending on our
tolerance, to how deeply we allow the entry to occur, to move
to a different type of system. But in general terms, when
people move to the remote areas, they are more likely not to
come across on foot. They are likely to bring a vehicle, to try
to cross in a vehicle. They are moving away from the urban hub
that the smugglers are using as their infrastructure, as their
staging areas. It becomes expensive for them to move out here.
They tend to want to carry more people. A vehicle brings with
it the ability to carry more people. It brings high speed
access across the terrain, the ability to carry weapons,
narcotics. The vehicles are used as weapons against our agents.
So if we can get the vehicle out of the mix and make that not
part of the equation, provide us with the vehicles, the
aircraft, the response capability to respond effectively and
efficiently, then we have placed ourselves in a tactical
advantage where we don't necessarily have to fence or even be
there on the line shoulder to shoulder trying to defend that
line and we can more effectively use our available resources,
our personnel resources in a mobile capacity.
Mr. Souder. Mr. Cummings.
Mr. Cummings. Just two real quick questions, Chief, and I
want to thank you for your patience. Some of your Border Patrol
agents have informed me that fences can potentially leave them
vulnerable to ambushes at fenced gates. Are you familiar with
that at all? Can you explain this phenomena? In other words, an
ambush at a fenced gate, is that--are you familiar at all?
Mr. Stevens. I can't say I am familiar with that particular
dynamic. A fence on the border that doesn't provide us
visibility to the other side of the fence either through
cameras, technology or direct visibility does tend to put our
agents in a position where if they don't know what is on other
side, we experience a lot of rocking incidents as a result of
that. They will stand on one side of a fence and lob rocks over
the top at our agents. Our cameras help us with that to let the
agents know you have got somebody there. That ambush capability
exists anyplace where we don't know what we are walking into or
And some styles of fences, again, that gets to the lessons
learned, need to be augmented with the technological capability
and in some cases the fence that we can actually have
visibility through is critical to us.
Mr. Cummings. And just as we close out here, I just want to
make sure I am clear what you are saying. It sounds like you
are saying something similar to what Mr. Reyes said. First of
all, apparently fences are needed everywhere, is that accurate?
Along the border?
Mr. Stevens. I would say that is accurate.
Mr. Cummings. And they are various based upon the terrain
and the circumstances surrounding the area. You have--you need
certain things, so a fence can be one of the most effective and
efficient tools to achieve your goals at some points but at
other points it may be something, a combination of things that
don't include a fence, is that correct?
Mr. Stevens. Yes, that's correct.
Mr. Cummings. And one of the things that Mr. Reyes said is
that some of the best people to talk to are the Border Patrol
commanders--I think that is the word he used--who are--since
you have had the experiences you had, would you say that is
accurate? In other words, folks who actually deal with that
area, does it make sense to say OK, how do we help you be most
effective and efficient and provide you with what you need for,
so that you can achieve what we have asked you to do?
Mr. Stevens. Yes. The field commanders--ultimately, it is
the Border Patrol agent on the line who is going out there
every day who knows the solutions and will provide the input to
our command, and our command will put these resources together
and let us know what is needed. And yes, the field, there is
the chiefs, I call them the field commanders because we have
agents in charge as well that we depend on very heavily for the
information, but the chief patrol agent in a given area we
consider the ultimate strategic and tactical authority for the
determination of what is needed to perform the mission of the
Border Patrol in that area.
Mr. Cummings. To his credit Chairman Souder has spent a
phenomenal amount of time on this issue. And one of the things
he said, and this shall be my last question, one of the things
he said just about 7 minutes ago was something to the effect
that if we do not have 700 or so miles of fencing, that instead
of needing 20,000 agents--and I am not trying to put words in
his mouth, this is what I remember--we would probably need
Mr. Souder. Or 40.
Mr. Cummings. Or 40. We will deal with the 40, 30 to
Do you agree with that? You are on the ground. Well, you
were on the ground.
Mr. Stevens. Again I can't say that specific to fences. I
can say that if we don't have the technology, the tactical
infrastructure to support our agents, yes, the number of agents
we would need would be significantly higher.
I liken it to, and I may be dating myself here but if we
try to do it with without technology and tactical
infrastructure, we are going to be playing a game of red rover
where we have to stand our agents on the border and that is not
a good use of a highly trained Federal officer.
Mr. Cummings. Thank you very much.
Mr. Souder. I thank you for your testimony today and thank
each of the agents. There is an incredible frustration among
American people on all fronts right now. One is in spite of the
dedication of agents in the field, the fact is that illegal
immigration has not declined, that in spite of the incredible
efforts of the agents in the field, whether it is--and you
don't include the ports of entry, just in between the ports of
entry--we have seen a rise in illegal narcotics coming through
particularly that border.
And we just had testimony 2 weeks ago in Colorado from DEA,
as we had in Washington, that crystal meth has gone from 65
percent to 80 percent. As I go down to the border I continue to
hear from Customs and Border Protection as well as from ICE
that they are not finding it and yet we have the same agencies
in Washington and at field hearings telling us, well, it is
Mexican crystal meth coming across the border.
Clearly, the border is not working. Clearly there needs to
be an internal as well as an external and we are working--and I
didn't mean to say that that wasn't part of the solution. But
you can't have every agency pointing to the other agency saying
you have got to do this part because quite frankly while the
border is hard, internal enforcement will be incredibly hard.
Most of the people that I have been trying to work with,
how you would do a work permit if you did it? You try to look
at employer sanctions. A high percentage of these people aren't
even in an above ground economy or they are contract people
working for subcontractors or working in a cash economy. It
isn't any magic solution there either.
Plus if we do do work permits and you don't have the border
security you are just going to have more pour in after. It has
got be multi-faceted.
And one thing we are trying to do here is focus on how much
would fencing vis-a-vis other costs and how much fencing would
help, because I believe if you just say oh, the administration
takes a position, oh, with this much more, we are going to seal
it, and then as we work internally we are going to have a
repeat. Only we are going to then come back to the Border
Patrol and you will say, you said you were going to fix this
and you will need--yes, it needs to be blocked, but we all here
know--and this is very important for the record that what comes
out of the Department has to be cleared by OMB and the
administration. What comes from a sector chief, if they want to
be promoted, has to reflect the opinions of their superiors.
What is on the ground is the attitude as far as fencing is not
necessarily in agreement with the official positions. I am not
saying that it has to be everywhere. That is something we are
debating because there is different costs and certainly there
needs to be technology and certainly you need more agents. And
I commend every one of them because it is not the most exciting
job in the world all the time. It is a very frustrating job.
People go right back in again and you have to face the same
So we thank every person in the agency and thank you for
your testimony. We are all frustrated, but I know the
individual agents are at least as frustrated as the politicians
and the American people because its a tough challenge. Thank
you very much.
Mr. Stevens. On behalf of our agents, thank you.
Mr. Souder. If the third panel could come forward and once
against thank you very much for your patience. Congressman
Steve King of Iowa is the first witness. Normally he would have
been in the first panel with the other members but because this
is a very specific fencing panel, he agreed and has been very
patient to give his testimony here.
The second witness is Douglas Barnhart, who is President of
Douglas E. Barnhart, Inc., as well as Vice President of the
Association of General Contractors. Mr. Carlton Mann, Chief
Inspector of the Office of Inspections and Special Reviews of
the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector
General. Mr. Art Mayne, Specification Writer for Merchants
Metals. Mr. Don Williams of Roadrunner Planning and Consulting,
who is a consultant for Power Contracting, Inc., and Mr. T. J.
Bonner, who is President of the National Border Patrol Council,
frequent witness both to Homeland Security and to our
Mr. Souder. Let the record show that all the witnesses
responded in affirmative. Once again thank you for your partial
or full statements already in the record, any documents you
refer to. You have heard a lot of discussion already. We will
start with Mr. King. Thank you for coming. Thank you for your
leadership on the fence question.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE STEVE KING, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IOWA
Mr. King. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the
privilege to be here and also the privilege to hear the
testimony this afternoon. As a member of the Judiciary
Committee and also the Subcommittee on Immigration, I came here
to speak about the necessity and the practicality of a fence
and in fact a wall. And I had one brought along that was a
design that I put together.
But to lay a little bit of background for that, first would
be we are needing to stop at the border first people, and that
would be migrants, the general definition of the term, then
illegal drugs, then terrorists, then criminals. And that is
kind of the four categories we are working with here. And I
have been on the border four times in the last year, sometimes
a guided tour from the Border Patrol. Sometimes I go down there
alone and simply show up at certain places to see what I can
learn. I have been known to sit down there until 2:30 in the
morning--at least my body clock--listening to Border Patrol
agents who would only talk to me in obscure places where their
identity could be confidential, and I will certainly keep it
I believe that we need to mark the border first, miles and
miles of border that aren't even identified. And it is
important for two reasons, and one of them is symbolism. 58
percent of Mexicans believe they have a right to come to the
United States, 46 to 48 percent want to come here, 56--excuse
me, 58 percent believe they have a right to come here. And so
we should at least get a fence on the border.
I put in first there, a 10-foot high chain link fence and I
put a sign on the other side, Don't Enter Here. But here is how
to apply for citizenship. That is the first important thing.
But I want to focus this--I am a problem solver. I spent my
life in the construction business, building things, designing
things and making things work and not getting paid unless they
do. And my view is we should start with the idea of 100 percent
efficiency. My constituents want to stop all illegal
immigration. So the testimony about getting down to tolerable
levels doesn't sit very well with me. And I am looking for a
100 percent solution here. I don't submit we get it all the
first year with the first mile of fence, but I believe we need
to build one.
As I watched them build vehicle barriers, the vehicle
barriers with the 5 by 5 steel bar at headlight level, that is
good to keep vehicles off that are smuggling drugs across, but
doesn't keep the 50-pound pack of drugs that get thrown through
the fence, put on the back and carried across the deserts by
the burros in groups of 10 or 12 or even up to 100. They will
find a way. 11,000 people a day, 4 million a year perhaps, and
it is always going to be an estimate, but according to DEA
about 3 weeks ago their number, $65 billion worth of illegal
drugs, $65 billion. That is a powerful, powerful force. And
whatever we might do to shut off the jobs magnet, which I
support, that will not shut off the force of that commerce, the
illegal business of $65 billion worth of illegal drugs.
So as I sit on that border, sit there in the night and
listen to us being infiltrated and contemplate what it takes,
my view is this. We should do whatever is necessary to force
all traffic through the ports of entry.
If we can do that, then we can look at the manpower and the
technology necessary to do even a better job at the ports of
entry. But I think we need to force the traffic through the
ports of entry. And being a problem solver, I have designed
this wall, I hoped to just construct it for you here and give
you a look at what it looks like.
This represents the desert floor, just a little sand here
and a little dirt and kind of thing that I work in. And then we
have--back in my neighborhood we have a company that builds a
lot of different machines, grade trimming machines and slip
form machines. As I looked at this, if we can pour concrete in
a slip form we can just sock a trencher into the ground and
then, as we pull that trencher along, we will have a slip form
built right into the trencher and we can pour concrete right in
the trench and shape a notched footing and it would look like
this, Mr. Chairman, and ranking member. And from the end. And
it would be about 5 feet in the ground. This will be the bottom
of it and then we will have a notch in the top about 16 inches
so we can drop in pieces of precast concrete panels.
And so as we dug the trench this way we pour the concrete
in behind it, it would flow in right behind the trencher and in
a couple of days it would be cured so you could begin to build
And now, you just simply drop it in, one panel at a time.
This would be about 10 feet wide, and a little over, about
13\1/2\ feet long and 6 inches thick of concrete panel. They
weigh about 9,800 pounds. You pick them up with a crane, lift
them up and just drop them in.
Just this simply. One at a time. And in fairly short order,
end up with a--you end up with a wall that would be quite
effective and relatively economical compared to a number of the
other models that I have seen.
Because of visibility and time I won't build the rest, but
you can see how this goes. But I sat down and run this by
engineers I work with and priced this through other contracting
companies and of course we do the kind of work, the structural
concrete work, flat concrete work, earth moving work and pipe
work so this is something that I have a background in.
But then as another piece of solving this issue I would put
a little wire right on top and, provided it stays in there for
this demonstration purpose, you can see what a section of this
would be like.
Now, this isn't going to work everywhere down on the border
because we know we have mountains and we know we have rocky
places. But we also have hundreds of miles where it lays real
good and one could lay a lot of this fence in and set it up
quickly. I call it fence, or call it a wall. Roughly maybe you
could build a mile a day of it but the costs that I put
together--and it is not with the road. It is not with anything
except building the concrete and putting the panels in--would
run about $1.3 million a mile. And this is one of the
components I think that we need to have to be looking at
seriously for a solution, a solution to the problem we are
trying to get to, 100 percent solution, and it is frustrating
to me to know that there hasn't been a business case made that
I can see for other types of alternatives.
And as I listened to the testimony here earlier, the answer
to do you take more or less people if you had a fence as well,
it wouldn't take less. Certainly it would take less or you get
more good out of those that are working out there. And I am for
expanding the Border Patrol and giving them all the technology
that they need. But I am for 100 percent solution, one that we
can make a business case for and a business model for. And
today, if you take the $1.9 billion the President has asked to
add to our budget on our southern border, that comes to $8
billion to protect our southern border. That is $4 million a
And a lot of that is personnel and depreciable machinery
and equipment that goes in down there. This would be a one-time
investment of $1.3 million a mile. It would stand there for
perhaps 100 years if it was necessary, and if we did that, that
single one-time investment, that means either it takes fewer
people to enforce the border or those that we do have that
enforce the border can be more effective.
But I believe our focus needs to be--and the other piece
would be as we push people out around the end of our Border
Patrol they do go through the more remote areas.
And I go and look at those areas and you find track after
track of people and I have sat down there in the dark and
listened to them infiltrate around me. You will not stop this
human traffic unless you put a fence and a wall there. The
force of humanity that wants to come here looking for a better
job is miniscule in comparison to the powerful force of the $65
billion worth of illegal drugs, and they will find a way to get
across that desert. They have people that are carrying drugs 25
miles across the desert and more today, 50-pound packs of
marijuana on their backs. They will get there if we don't shut
that off and direct them through the ports of entry.
And I agree with the earlier testimony that they will come
on boats and try to come in another way. Well, let's raise
their transaction costs and let's keep the drugs and illegals
and the terrorists out of America.
This is one component to the overall plan, not the whole
solution by any means, not the solution for every mile by any
means, but I think it is a solution for many of the miles that
we should consider, and I simply conclude my testimony at that
point and be open for any questions, and thank you for the
privilege to testify before your committee, Mr. Chairman and
Mr. Souder. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF DOUGLAS BARNHART, PRESIDENT OF DOUGLAS E.
BARNHART, INC., VICE PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATION OF GENERAL
Mr. Barnhart. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and ranking member
for the opportunity to be here. My name is Douglas Barnhart,
CEO of the Barnhart Corporation, which was incorporated in
February 1983 in San Diego, California and has constructed
various projects for the Federal Government since that period
of time. Barnhart is ranked 90th in the engineering news record
of the top 400 contractors in the Nation and has revenue in
excess of a half a billion a year.
My company and I have extensive experience working for the
Federal Government on both military and civilian projects and
have experience working on structures on the U.S.-Mexico
borders, such as the Calexico border crossing station, which we
I am here today to provide a realistic cost estimate for
the construction of the fence on the U.S.-Mexico border and
provide a time line for the construction process. At the same
time I would like to highlight some of the potential problems
that might be encountered.
Presented today is the final accumulation of knowledge
gained in preparing three estimates for the border fence
construction. In preparing the estimate of cost we, my
estimators, utilized local knowledge of the climate conditions,
local industry capability, as well as work experiences gained
during construction of projects such as at the Calexico border
station. This local experience was combined with Barnhart
historical cost data and cost scheduling information provided
by trade contractors all located in the southern California-
Arizona area to develop an expected cost of performance.
In final preparation for the cost I personally went to the
border with my Vice President of Estimating and Preconstruction
to view the fence and talk to U.S. military personnel that were
present and discuss maintaining the current fences.
Scope of work considered for pricing purposes were rough
and fine grading for 40 linear miles of 20-foot wide all
weather road, composition of the road consists of 12 inch thick
recycled class 2 aggregate base, which is very similar to the
road conditions observed during my site visit.
Labor costs to install government furnished materials for 1
fence line with 14 feet high steel mesh with a 2.5 foot
overhang concrete work associated with 7 feet deep, 2-foot
diameter flagpole footage complete with a fence post PVC
sleeve--which actually turns out to be a fairly important
component in maintenance, and 1 foot wide 4 feet below grade
wall to provide below grade entry barrier.
The scope does not include a fence, lighting, surveillance
cameras, buried motion detectors, landscaping agency permits
and fees, design fees, underground storm drainage. If required
these could add significant costs.
Permits for building structures on new alignments are
always time consuming. I know from my agency experience
building a highway on a new alignment can take 7 to 12 years
just to get through the environmental process.
Dependent on the project delivery method utilized, design
fees and contract plans and specifications may be required.
To accommodate the differentiation in terrain along the
vast border I included some contingencies, for instance, in
areas where the slope to the fence dictates it will be
necessary to add a secret swale to prevent water run off from
washing out the fence. If we do get--it does rain in the desert
and when it rains you do get washouts. At the ends of the swale
rock rubble will be needed to disseminate the water energy
before it is released into natural water channels. The estimate
of costs includes the linear foot costs for this work, but
until each side is investigated it is impossible to estimate
exactly how much of this will be required.
As for schedule, in discussion with U.S. military
personnel, I was informed that the past rate of progress of the
fence erection was about 100 to 110 linear feet per day. At
this production rate it will take over 7 years to construct 40
miles of fence utilizing the 5-day workweek. To obtain an
acceptable schedule, a multi-prime format was considered with
division of the work into 10 4-mile segments.
The work would be surveyed to establish horizontal and
vertical control points for each segment. Road construction
would proceed followed by fence construction. I think that is
also important because you have to establish the work platform
to build fences and those sorts of things. Such an approach
would result in significant but bondable work segments for
local trade contractors and would reduce the overall
construction time to 6 months or less depending on the workweek
There are other significant factors to consider in this
construction. Mobilization of the workforce and materials to
the site will be difficult in remote areas. Having constructed
in Calexico I know security of materials is a consideration.
To combat losses, a mobile erection platform system is
anticipated, which will also serve for transportation of
materials to and from a construction base operation center.
While remote areas can expose your workforce to dangers, I
had no personal security issues during the construction of
Calexico border crossing station, our current project I have
going in Calexico today. So I have considered none in this
As noted in the attached border fence expansion budget
estimate report, the price for fence construction is estimated
to be $1,441,687.82 per mile. Add to this government furnished
materials, which the thing I got from the government was 1998
pricing and is inadequate. We updated that to what we thought
current dollars would be and it works out to 675,000 per mile.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify before your
subcommittee on criminal justice, drug policy and human
Mr. Souder. Thank you very much for the time you put into
this, and we will insert and make sure that the materials you
referred to as supplement will be in the record as well.
Mr. Mayne, thank you for coming.
Mr. Williams is next, excuse me.
STATEMENT OF DON WILLIAMS, ROADRUNNER PLANNING & CONSULTING,
CONSULTANT TO POWER CONTRACTING, INC.
Mr. Williams. Hello. My name is Don Williams, and I am the
general manager of Roadrunner Planning and Consulting,
consulting for Power Contracting, and I would like to say it
has been very interesting and my actual formal statement will
really be addressing some rapid deployment issues that we will
be talking about.
On behalf of Roadrunner Planning and Consulting, I would
like to thank the subcommittee for the opportunity to share our
experience and knowledge gained from consulting on the
installation of the 4-mile permanent vehicle barrier project in
both Yuma, Arizona and Columbus, New Mexico. Roadrunner is a
consultant to the contractor that is doing the actual
installation work along the border.
As a consultant we have been deeply involved in the
implementation of this innovative approach which has allowed
this 4-mile section to be completed in record time in a cost
We have also been involved in looking at new innovative
ways to expedite installation of the 3 layered fence system
proposed for strategic locations along the border.
We have had a firsthand opportunity to visit many locations
along the border and have major environmental issues, limited
access and washout areas that have created ease of access into
the United States.
During those visits, we have evaluated the locations from a
constructive building standpoint, considering the
accessibility, soil conditions, topography, equipment needs,
raw material delivery challenges and comprehensive rate of
production. And all times, we viewed the overall proposed
project from a common sense feasibility perspective.
During our observations, we were extremely sensitive to the
environmental issues surrounding PVB installation in this
proposed fence project.
We had an opportunity to meet with some of the wildlife
officials to discuss ways to limit equipment and manpower. This
approach did and would lessen the total footprint needed for
construction and thus reduce the overall environmental impact
during the course of installation of PVBs in fencing.
By using a common sense innovative approach and available
technology, the government can accomplish this necessary
project with minimal environmental impact.
A specific example of the attention given to the
environmental environment during construction was the
monitoring plan which was put in place to protect the flat
tailed horn lizard during installation in the Yuma Arizona.
This plan included awareness training of installation crews
to increase their conscious understanding and knowledge of the
species and the continued effort to stay inside of the
designated work areas. This approach was enhanced and enforced
by a flat tail horn lizard biological monitor. This individual
was onsite daily and worked just in front of the installation
I would like to expand a moment on each of the previous
mentioned areas we evaluated.
Access. In many cases, access roads are underdeveloped and
are usually impassable. The building of access roads to
facilitate the movement of equipment and construction process
would be costly. The Army Corps of Engineers has identified a
system which we have utilized specializing equipment to install
the PVB system in a timely effective manner.
This provides the ability for rapid deployment of the
proposed fence and would eliminate the need and the cost to
develop access roads to these locations. This would allow the
deployment of the PVB system and the 3 layered fence system in
the most remote areas along the border in the most cost
effective manner and also very environmentally friendly.
Next would be soil conditions. We have found a wide range
of soil conditions from silty sand to caliche rock. Whatever
system is used it must have the flexibility to be installed in
these wide range of soils. The variation in the soil types may
be the most significant challenge this project faces as it
pertains to constructibility. The Army Corps has utilized a
system that will work in any and all soil conditions along the
Topography. The topography of this region is extremely
diverse and as a result creates a huge challenge. Washout areas
also create significant construction challenges. We are
researching methods which may be used to permanently fill these
washout areas and eliminate the potential for further washouts.
For such a solution to be economically feasible and practical,
it would have to lend itself to the creation of a road for
Border Patrol personnel to travel along and also allow the
construction/installation of border fence and PVB in concurrent
lines rather than huge drive-arounds which are presently under
Equipment needs. The method of installation would determine
how much and what type of equipment is needed to complete this
Roadrunner recommends that each area be evaluated for the
most feasible application and ability to address the access
Further, the solution with the smallest footprint and the
ability to address access should be considered in the deciding
Raw material delivery challenges. The delivery of raw
material to the most remote areas will also be challenging. The
areas we visited such as Ajo/Why, Arizona are mountainous and
have limited road access. It is anticipated that the process
used in these types of areas must be self-contained and only
need limited resources to install the PVBs, fences and fill
mentioned for the washouts.
It is my hope that I have shared with you some of my
experiences as it pertains to construction options and
strategic placement for the PVBs and the fences. Thank you very
[Prepared statement of Mr. Williams follows:]
Prepared Statement of Don Williams
On behalf of Road Runner Planning & Consulting (RRPC), I would like
to thank the sub-committee for the opportunity to share our experience
and knowledge gained from consulting on the installation of the four
mile Permanent Vehicle Barrier (PVB) project in both Yuma, AZ and
Columbus, NM. Road Runner is a consultant to the contractor that is
doing the actual installation work along the border.
As a consultant, we have been deeply involved in the implementation
of this innovative approach which has allowed this four mile section to
be completed in record time and in a cost competitive manner. We have
also been involved in looking at new and innovative ways to expedite
the installation of the three-layer fence system proposed for strategic
locations along the border.
We have had a first hand opportunity to visit many locations along
the border that have major environmental issues, limited access and
wash-out areas that have created easy access into the United States.
During those visits, we evaluated the location from a constructability
standpoint-considering the accessibility, soil conditions, topography
equipment needs, raw material delivery challenges and comprehensive
rate of production. At all times we viewed the overall proposed project
from a common sense feasibility perspective.
During our observations, we were extremely sensitive to the
environmental issues surrounding PVB installation and this proposed
fence project. We had an opportunity to meet with some of the wildlife
officials to discuss ways to limit equipment and manpower. This
approach did and would lessen the total foot-print needed for
construction and thus reduce the overall environmental impact during
the course of installing PVB's and fencing. By using a commonsense,
innovative approach and available technology, the government can
accomplish this necessary project with minimal environmental impact.
A specific example of the attention given to the environment during
construction was the monitoring plan which was put in place to protect
the Flat-Tailed Horned Lizard during installation in Yuma, AZ. This
plan included awareness training of installation crews to increase
their consciousness, understanding and knowledge of the species and the
continued effort to stay inside of the designated work areas. This
approach was enhanced, and enforced, by a ``Flat-tailed Horned Lizard
Biological Monitor.'' This individual was on site daily and worked just
in front of the installation crews.
I would like to expand a moment on each of the previously mentioned
areas we evaluated.
In many cases, access roads are underdeveloped and are usually
impassable. The building of access roads to facilitate the movement of
equipment and construction process would be costly. The Army Corps of
Engineers has identified a system which utilizes specialized equipment
to install the PVB System in a time-effective manner. This provides the
ability for the rapid deployment of the proposed fence and would
eliminate the need, and cost, to develop access roads to these
locations. This would allow the deployment of the PVB system and three-
layered fence system in the most remote areas of the Southwestern
border in the most cost effective and environmentally friendly manner.
We have found a wide range of soil conditions from silky sand to
caliche rock. Whatever system is used,it must have the flexibility to
be installed in these wide ranges of soils. The variations in soil
types may be the most significant challenge this project faces. as it
pertains to constructability. The Army Corps has utilized a system that
will work in any and all soil conditions along the Southwest border.
The topography of this region is extremely diverse and, as a
result, creates a huge challenge. Wash-out areas also create
significant construction challenges. We are researching methods which
may be used to permanently fill these wash-out areas and eliminate the
potential for future wash-outs. For such a solution to be economically
feasible and practical, it would have to lend itself to the creation of
a road for Border Patrol personnel to travel along and also allow for
the construction/installation of the Border Fence and PVB in concurrent
lines rather than the huge drive-arounds which are presently under
The method of installation will determine how much and what type of
equipment is needed to complete this project. Road Runner recommends
that each area be evaluated for the most feasible application and
ability to address the access problems. Further, the solution with the
smallest foot-print and the ability to address access should be the
RAW MATERIAL DELIVERY CHALLENGES:
The delivery of raw material to the most remote areas will also be
challenging. The areas we visited such as Ajo and Why, AZ are
mountainous and have limited road access. It's anticipated that the
process used in these types of areas must be self contained and only
need limited resources to install the PVB'S, fence and fill mentioned
for the wash-outs.
It is my hope that I have shared with you some of my experience as
it pertains to the construction options and strategic placement of the
PVB's and fences.
I am open for questions.
Mr. Souder. Thank you very much.
Now Mr. Mayne.
STATEMENT OF ART MAYNE, SPECIFICATIONS WRITER, MERCHANTS METALS
Mr. Mayne. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to
speak to the subcommittee on this critical issue of border
fence. My name is Art Mayne. I have been involved as a
specification expert in the security field for over 25 years. I
write specifications for a wide variety of fencing and other
security products. I am employed by Merchants Metal, a leading
manufacturer of fencing products. In addition, I am a member of
the Technical Committee of the Chain Link Fence Manufacturing
Institute, CLFMI, and I am active in the Construction
Specification Institute, CSI, and other professional groups.
My experience with enhanced security goes back to the
1980's and 1990's when I taught perimeter security at the
Physical Security School started by the Navy in Norfolk,
Virginia. At the Physical Security School, I instructed
security professionals from the Pentagon, the FBI, and also the
As a result of my long involvement with the designing
security fencing and other security systems, I have an in-depth
knowledge of a vast--of a wide variety of security fence
products, including chain link, expanded metal, ornamental and
welded wire mesh.
I am here today representing the CLFMI and my company,
Merchants Metals. But I want to make it clear that the views I
am expressing are my own based on years of experience with
comprehensive security technology.
Each of the many fencing opportunities available to secure
American borders have advantages and drawbacks, and I would
like to briefly share with you my views regarding these
Fencing products such as welded mesh, which I have a sample
here and I will be happy to let anyone take a look at it, and
also expanded metal, offers a very high level of security and
deterrence and have been used successfully in certain security
However, both are rigid product. They are very rigid and
that means a costly grading and landscaping is required prior
Landing mesh, which has been among the first material used
for border fencing because of their high strength, these have
been effective in limited areas. One of the drawbacks, however,
is that the material is costly and difficult to work with.
In addition, like other rigid products, installation can be
costly, particularly in irregular terrain. Each panel must be
attached to supporting posts at each of these points with bands
and bolts necessary to attach the panels, provides additional
opportunity for breaching the system.
Security grade chain link fence is another option
available. It is much more flexible than the landing mesh,
welded mesh or expanded metal, and this results in a lower site
preparation and installation costs.
In contrast to landing mesh it offers the advantage of
being a see-through material, which we heard earlier is a very
critical area that the Border Patrol--one of the areas that
they really appreciate.
On the negative side, chain link does not in itself have
the strength of some of the other options, although its
strength can be augmented by the use of cables and other
devices. Also chain link fence does not provide the deterrent
to tunneling that rigid metal products can provide if installed
In conclusion, I have worked with these various metal fence
options. In my opinion, a border fencing system using a
combination of security grade chain link fences augmenting
where necessary by welded mesh, expanded metal, or landing mats
would be the most cost effective solution.
A recent survey of fencing manufacturers and professional
fence installers indicated that the approximate cost for a
security grade chain link fence, border fence built to
recognized specification would be $525,000 per mile for
material and 775,000 miles for installation.
This reflects a much faster installation product than for
rigid fence products. A full description of this type of border
fence is set forth in the white papers on security fencing,
which I am submitting for the record now.
[Prepared statement of Mr. Mayne follows:]
Prepared Statement of Art Mayne
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this opportunity to speak to the
Subcommittee on the critical issue of a border fence. My name is Art
Mayne. I am here today representing the Chain Link Fence Manufacturers
Institute (CLFMI) and my company, Merchants Metals, but I want to make
it clear that the views I am expressing are my own, based on years of
experience with comprehensive security technology.
The Chain Link Fence Manufacturers Institute is a 46-year old trade
association whose members represent approximately 85% of the chain link
fence products manufactured in the U.S.A have agreed to speak on behalf
of the CLFMI today because I believe an optimal border fence should
include anti-intrusion/anti-climb chain-link fencing such as I have
designed specifically for this purpose.
I have been involved as a specifications expert in the security
field for over 25 years. I write specifications for a wide variety of
fencing and other security products. In addition to my involvement with
CLFMI, I have been active in the Construction Specifications Institute
(CSI) and other professional groups. My experience with enhanced
security systems goes back to the 1980's and 90's when I spent time
teaching perimeter security at the Physical Security School, started by
the Navy in Norfolk, Virginia. At the Physical Security School, I
instructed security professionals from the Pentagon, FBI and Central
As a result of my long involvement with designing security fencing
and other security systems, I have an in-depth knowledge not only of
chain-link but also all other security fencing products, including
expanded metal, ornamental and welded wire mesh.
Mr. Chairman, in November of 2001, CLFMI's members, at their annual
meeting, voted to redirect the institute's resources to assisting the
enhancement of security efforts in both the private and public sectors.
As part of that effort, CLFMI has worked with various entities to
develop comprehensive systems that will meet these increased security
needs. CLFMI has worked closely with the American Society of Testing
and Materials (ASTM), Army Corps of Engineers, Sandia Labs, FAA,
Pentagon and Consumer Product Safety Commission in an effort to promote
safety and the efficient use of chain-link fence products.
An excellent example of this is the anti-intrusion/anti-climb
fencing that is described in the CLFMI's White Paper on security
fencing, which I ask to be submitted for the record. (pause) Thank you,
Mr. Chairman. By using the technology and innovative weaving processes,
this chain-link fence system is the most versatile, cost-effective tool
to reduce the flow of drugs and illegal intrusions into the U.S. across
its Mexican and Canadian borders.
The chain-link system's strengths are reflected in the four
objectives the DHS identifies as critical: detect, deter, delay and
deny. The fence is constructed with a tightly woven metallic coated
steel wire mesh (as Congressman Hunter exhibited earlier), and when
combined with an angled or curved 6-foot overhang, presents a deterrent
that is extremely difficult to climb and even harder to cut through.
The fence framework is designed to withstand the forces of a 90 MPH
windload applied against the wind-resistant small mesh.
For the border fence, I would recommend a double-row of fencing,
one with the angled top and one vertically to further deter the
intruder. Burying expanded metal, welded wire mesh or ornamental panels
between the framework post's concrete footings can easily deter
Perhaps the most important advantage this type of fence offers is
its see-through nature, which protects our personnel in border areas.
Even with smaller mesh, border patrol professionals can obtain visual
contact before and during any intrusions. With a solid fence, it is
impossible to know what is happening on the other side. Knowing what or
who is on the other side helps protect the law enforcement officer
while exposing the intruders.
To my knowledge, anti-intrusion/anti-climb chain-link is the most
economical and cost-effective of all the building materials that can do
this job. In response to a Congressional request, the CLFMI provided a
cost estimate for materials and labor (actual costs will vary depending
on locale, specifications, and competitive circumstances). We realize
that this Committee is determined to spend taxpayer dollars wisely and
my design reflects your prudence.
Chain-link is versatile, and can be adapted to virtually any
terrain without costly and time-consuming landscaping and grading. This
fencing is durable and inexpensive to maintain.
In addition, chain-link is strong enough to support additional
surveillance equipment, and when combined with certain cabling devices,
it is an effective vehicle restraint barrier to meet the State
Department's K4, K8 or K12 crash Ratings. Moreover, chain-link fencing
can conduct an electric current which will alert the Border Patrol that
a breach may be in progress in specific sections.
This newer, smaller gauge chain link has proven its ability to
enhance security in numerous applications. Many correctional facilities
have upgraded their deterrence system by installing anti-climb chain-
link fencing. This technology is also applicable to nuclear power
plants, oil refineries, embassies, military bases and sea ports.
Mr. Chairman, a full description of the value of this anti-
intrusion, anti-climb fence system is included in our White Paper. The
Chain Link Fence Manufacturers Institute is prepared to assist the
Government by providing not only the materials but also the technical
expertise and consulting services necessary to design, build, and
install a fencing system that will protect our borders.
Thank you again for this opportunity to testify. I look forward to
For the Record
Mr. Souder. Thank you. We will make sure all those
materials are in the record.
Mr. Mayne. Thank you again for the opportunity to testify,
and I look forward to your questions.
Mr. Souder. Thank you very much. Now Mr. Bonner, President
of the National Border Patrol Council.
STATEMENT OF T.J. BONNER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL
Mr. Bonner. Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Cummings, thank
you very much for the opportunity to present the views of the
front line Border Patrol agents. I myself have 28 years of
experience as a Border Patrol agent, and I would like to share
some of that experience with you.
As a younger officer back in the late 1980's, I was part of
a special task force in the San Diego sector assigned to patrol
the border and look for bandits who were preying upon illegal
immigrants. I was frankly appalled at the number of people who
would gather on the United States side of our border. There
were no fences at the time. People would just wander across.
Literally thousands of people would be on the United States
side of the border awaiting the opportune moment to move north
and on an unspoken command literally thousands of people would
push northward, generally at shift change, and our officers
would manage to apprehend perhaps a few hundred of those
several thousand. And I am talking upwards of 5 to 10,000
people along that 14-mile stretch of border.
That changed when fencing was put into the area. It pushed
the traffic elsewhere. It didn't stop the traffic, it pushed it
It took a long time for that traffic to push, however. It
wasn't just the fencing, because the fencing started in
September of 1990. The traffic did not move for 7 years. By the
time the traffic moved, we had 2,100 Border Patrol agents
assigned where we previously had 800.
The traffic after about a year settled into Tucson, Arizona
and, until very recently, it remained in the Tucson sector.
By the time the traffic moved out of the Tucson sector we
had increased manpower up to 2,400 agents to patrol that 261
miles of border. And now, triple fencing, double fencing, has
been installed in most of that 14 miles of San Diego, yet we
are seeing a marked increase in traffic. First 9 months of this
year, traffic increased 23 percent in San Diego, proving
conclusively that it is not fencing that stops people from
coming across the border. It is boots on the border.
If we don't have Border Patrol agents in place to respond
to the traffic, then no amount of fencing is going to make a
But I would like to focus on a larger problem--well, before
I hit the larger problem, let me talk a little bit about some
of the problems with the multiple layered fencing.
Sandia Labs came up with the proposal that you have a
triple fence and they made three predictions. One, it would
dramatically decrease the amount of traffic. Two, it would make
it very simple for the people who dared to cross through the
multiple layers of fencing, make it very simple to apprehend
them. And, three, it would push the remaining traffic out to
remote areas where it would be very easy for the Border Patrol
to apprehend these people.
They could not have been more wrong on all three counts.
Illegal immigration today is just as high as if not higher than
when we started the big crackdown at the border, invested
billions of dollars on additional agents, fences, technology,
which brings me to the real reason that people come across the
Most people are coming across the border looking for jobs.
I suggest that what we need to do is build an invisible fence,
not the virtual fence that the Department of Homeland Security
talks about, an invisible fence that turns off the jobs magnet.
I compare it to the system that we have of banking in this
country. We have automated teller machines all over the
country. In this city alone there are thousands of them. I can
take my credit card, put it into that machine, put in my
personal identification number, access my account, a phone call
is made through a modem, it accesses my account, says that I do
have money to take out. If I don't it won't me allow me to take
out any of my money. But yet when it comes to employment
verification, we are in the Stone Age.
We allow someone to come up with any one of about 100
different paper documents to prove who they say they are. And
we are not getting much closer to the solution with the basic
pilot program. That would be like an ATM machine that doesn't
require a card but just requires a series of numbers, punch in
the account number, punch in an access code, and yet anyone
could compromise that because what we have in effect right now
is millions, tens of millions of Social Security, name, number,
date of birth combinations that have been compromised, and that
is the only information required by the basic pilot program.
Until we come up with a single counterfeit proof document
to establish a person's eligibility to work in this country, we
are going to have millions of people breaching our border every
year in search of employment.
In effect, we are transforming otherwise honest people into
criminals. We are holding out the lure of jobs in America, much
as if we took away the ATM machines and just put cardboard
boxes of money out on every street corner and said we are going
to do this in the honor system. How many people can resist?
When you have impoverished people who are making on average
less than $5 a day knowing they can come to the United States
and make 15 to 50 times that amount of money, you can't blame
them for coming across the border. And as long as you have
those millions--yes, millions--of people coming across the
border every year--because we catch 1.2 million. And our agents
on the ground estimate that for every person that we catch, two
or three get by us.
Mr. Bonner. As long as those millions of people are coming
across the border, it makes it extremely difficult for us to
concentrate on the criminals, the drugs and, yes, even the
terrorists who are exploiting the weaknesses of our border.
We really have to change the whole dynamic if we hope to
gain control of our borders. Fencing to a limited degree can be
effective. It can channel traffic around. But it's not going to
turn off the lure that causes people to come across the border.
These are people that when they initially launched Operation
Gatekeeper in San Diego, they said people will not cross
through the deserts because it is so--the climate and the
terrain is so forbidding. They severely underestimated the
level of desperation of people coming across the border. They
will find ways to go over fences, under fences, around fences,
or through fences. I don't care how impenetrable you think that
fence is, you still have gaps at every designated port of
entry. And I am sure the image is burned into the minds of
every Member of Congress, if not most of the American public,
of hundreds of people streaming through the port of entry at
San Ysidro, California. There are many ways to defeat these
barriers. What we need to do is eliminate the reason that
people are coming into this country illegally, which will allow
the Border Patrol to focus its limited resources on the
criminals and terrorists who are exploiting the weaknesses of
And before I close, one final thing that I have neglected
to talk about. Our agents in these multiple layers of fencing
are being trapped in between, rocks are thrown at them, gunfire
is ringing out. It is an untenable situation. These were
designed to trap the aliens in there, and what they have done
is endangered the lives of our brave men and women who are out
there enforcing immigration laws. Multiple fencing is not
effective. Barriers can be very effective at stopping vehicles
from coming across. A single layer of fencing can channel
traffic away from heavily populated areas, but the longer you
build that fence, the more likely it is you are not going to
move the traffic. They are going to figure out ways over,
under, or around, or through. And when I say around means
through that port of entry as well.
Thank you very much for the opportunity once again to hear
from the men and women who are actually out there doing the
job, and hopefully our opinion will weigh heavily in this
[Prepared statement of Mr. Bonner follows:]
Prepared Statement of T.J. Bonner
The National Border Patrol Council appreciates the opportunity to
present the views and concerns of the 10,500 front-line Border Patrol
employees that it represents regarding border fencing options and
related issues. In order to determine what types of physical barriers
should be placed at the border and the extent to which they should be
utilized, it is essential to evaluate their intended purposes, the
effectiveness of the various types that are in use, and the reasons
that they have succeeded or failed.
The United States Border Patrol is responsible for interdicting
people and contraband that illegally cross our land borders between
designated Ports of Entry. Every year, Border Patrol agents apprehend
more than one million illegal aliens and seize more than one million
pounds of marijuana and other illegal drugs. Front-line agents estimate
that for every person they apprehend, two or three manage to slip by
them, and also acknowledge that they only seize a small fraction of the
drugs being smuggled across the border. Although there is an increasing
trend for the same criminal organizations to be involved in smuggling
both people and contraband, the appropriate preventive measures and
responses for each differ considerably.
During the past 15 years, the Federal Government has spent billions
of dollars on various initiatives to curb the smuggling of people and
drugs across our Nation's borders. When these efforts began, the
majority of the illegal traffic was concentrated along the westernmost
14 miles of border, just south of San Diego, California. Within that
small stretch of border, thousands of illegal aliens would gather just
inside the United States on a daily basis, waiting for the opportune
moment to proceed north. Bandits frequently preyed upon them, sometimes
raping and/or murdering their helpless victims. Drug smuggling was
rampant as well. Anarchy reigned, and there was no semblance of control
over that section of the border.
In 1990, Representative Duncan Hunter began facilitating the
construction of fencing fashioned from surplus military steel landing
mats, as well as the placement of stadium lights, along most of those
14 miles of border. Although these measures dramatically reduced the
amount of crime, they did little to diminish the number of illegal
crossings in that area. While drug seizures tapered off within several
years, apprehensions of illegal aliens in the San Diego Border Patrol
Sector continued to average about one-half million annually for the
next six years.
In September of 1993, Representative Silvestre Reyes, who at the
time was the Chief Patrol Agent of the El Paso Border Patrol Sector,
launched Operation Blockade, later renamed Operation Hold-the-Lie.
Additional Border Patrol agents were temporarily reassigned from nearby
locations and deployed at strategic crossing points along the Rio
Grande River just north of Mexico to disrupt smuggling routes and
prevent criminals from crossing the border. The results were immediate
and dramatic. Cross-border crimes plummeted almost immediately. The
following year, apprehensions of illegal aliens dropped about 72%.
Unfortunately, the smuggling traffic did not disappear; it merely
shifted to other areas along the border.
Encouraged by this limited success in El Paso, the Border Patrol
attempted to export the Strategy to San Diego the following year.
However, significant differences in geography and demographics thwarted
the initial efforts to replicate the results of Operation Hold-the-
Line. While El Paso and Ciudad Juarez are separated by the Rio Grande
River, which has few crossing points, San Diego and Tijuana are
separated by land, and there are few natural barriers that deter people
from crossing. Moreover, while many of the people crossing into El Paso
illegally had been day laborers who returned home to Mexico every
night, most of San Diego's traffic consisted of people who intended to
travel to interior locations and remain there for long periods of time.
San Diego remained the smuggling corridor of choice until 1997. At that
point, Border Patrol staffing in the San Diego Sector had increased to
about 2,100 agents, compared to about 800 in 1990.
At about the same time that a significant portion of the illegal
alien traffic shifted away from San Diego, construction began on triple
fencing in that area. This coincidence caused some confusion about the
precise reason(s) for the displacement of the traffic. The triple fence
concept was originally advocated in a January 1993 report issued by
Sandia National Laboratories entitled Systematic Analysis of the
Southwest Border. The study recommended placing a triple layer of
fencing along approximately 90 miles of the Southwest border's urban
areas. It predicted that these multiple barriers would significantly
reduce the number of illegal crossings; allow for early detection and
easy apprehension of the few who attempted to cross through the
multiple barriers; and channel the remainder of the traffic to remote
areas where it could be readily apprehended. Experience has proven all
of these forecasts to be extremely inaccurate. Even worse, these
barriers have been responsible for a dramatic increase in the number
and intensity of assaults against Border Patrol agents. Smugglers have
adopted tactics that take advantage of agents' vulnerabilities as they
patrol between these barriers, ambushing them with barrages of rocks
and even gunfire. Although the Border Patrol meticulously tracks the
number and types of assaults against its agents, there is no separate
category for those that occur between the multiple layers of fencing.
Given the large number of such assaults, this statistical gap is both
puzzling and troubling.
Experience in San Diego and other parts of the border has
conclusively proven that additional staffing, not fencing, is
responsible for modifying smuggling patterns. When the Tucson Border
Patrol Sector's area of operations became the favored smuggling
corridor in 1998, only about 900 agents were assigned to patrol its 261
miles of border. By the time the smuggling traffic started to shift
away from the Tucson Sector this year, staffing had increased to about
2,400. Although total nationwide apprehensions are only slightly higher
this year compared with last year, they have increased about 25% in the
San Diego, despite the fact that most of the westernmost 14 miles of
border now has multiple layers of reinforced fencing. Staffing in San
Diego has declined substantially, however, with 500 fewer agents at the
present time than there were in 1997.
While barriers and fences are not the panaceas that some had
predicted or hoped, they nonetheless can play a legitimate role in
border security if the proper types are strategically placed in
suitable locations. Barriers can be extremely effective in preventing
vehicles from driving across the border between designated Ports of
Entry. Such vehicles often contain large quantities of illegal drugs,
and their drivers generally speed away from law enforcement officers
when they are encountered. Thus, it is extremely important to prevent
these types of incursions. Roads and terrain on the other side of the
border will dictate where these barriers are needed most, and as some
areas are secured, others will certainly emerge as problems that need
to be addressed.
Additionally, strategically placed reinforced singl-layer fencing
can serve to channel smuggling traffic away from relatively small
areas, such as heavily-populated cities. The overuse of such fencing
will only cause smugglers to seek ways to circumvent it, however, by
going over, under, around, or through it. These counter-strategies are
already being employed in areas such as San Diego:
Makeshift ladders welded from reinforcing steel bars,
commonly known as re-bar, are often used south of the border
fences to assist illegal aliens in climbing over them. Numerous
illegal aliens are injured when they drop from these tall
fences onto the U.S. side of the border. Border Patrol agents
are instructed not to ascertain whether injured people are
illegal aliens so that the Federal Government does not have to
pay for their medical expenses or assign agents to guard them
at hospitals. Criminal aliens are well aware of this unwritten
policy and exploit it by feigning injury to gain entry into the
United States without being fingerprinted and having their
criminal records checked.
It is no coincidence that almost all of the dozens of
cross-border tunnels that have been discovered within the past
decade run underneath reinforced border fencing. Large
quantities of people and contraband can be moved through these
tunnels without being detected. The potential use of these
tunnels by terrorists and other criminals greatly concerns law
Hundreds of illegal aliens walk around existing
fencing every day as they cross our borders. Even if a
``continuous'' fence were built from the Pacific Ocean to the
Gulf of Mexico, it would nonetheless require openings at
designated Ports of Entry for legitimate cross-border traffic.
It was once common for large groups of illegal aliens to run
north through the lanes of traffic at the San Ysidro Port of
Entry. This strategy would undoubtedly resurface if long
stretches of fencing were built.
Steel fencing is easily cut with a blowtorch. A hole
large enough to drive a vehicle through can be cut in a ten-
foot high steel fence in just a few minutes. Of course, the
repairs take considerably longer.
To the extent that the current illegal immigration debate focuses
on how much fencing is necessary to secure the borders, it distracts
the discussion from the root cause of the problem, and delays the
implementation of meaningful solutions. As long as illegal aliens can
readily obtain employment in the United States, neither barriers nor
increased staffing will discourage millions of impoverished people from
illegally crossing our borders annually. At best, such measures will
only serve to push the problem from one location to another. The only
effective way to solve the illegal immigration crisis is by eliminating
the employment magnet. The only sure means of achieving this goal is by
implementing an employment verification system that enable employers to
easily and reliably determine who has a right to legally work in this
country, at the same time facilitating the punishment of those
employers who choose to disregard or disobey the law. H.R. 98, the
``Illegal Immigration Enforcement and Social Security Protection Act of
2005,'' achieves both of these objectives, and would be infinitely more
effective at stopping illegal immigration than any amount of fencing or
even additional staffing. In effect, this system would act as an
``invisible fence,'' providing a powerful disincentive for people to
cross our borders illegally. Without the ability to work in the United
States, people will simply not undertake the expensive and dangerous
journey across our borders. Instead of being overwhelmed by several
million illegal aliens annually, the Border Patrol would be able to
concentrate its scarce resources on the thousands of criminals and
handful of terrorists who are currently exploiting the weaknesses of
our unsecured borders. Of course, the Border Patrol would still need
substantial increases in staffing, equipment and technology in order to
secure the borders against these very serious threats. H.R. 4044, the
``Rapid Response Border Protection Act of 2005,''' would provide many
of these resources, and would also facilitate recruitment and retention
In summary, recent experience has amply demonstrated that
geographic fluctuations in border smuggling activity are almost
exclusively influenced by the amount of law enforcement personnel
assigned to an area rather than by the length or type of fences and
barriers. However, even with significant increases in staffing, the
overall level of smuggling activity has grown and will continue to do
so until the root cause of illegal immigration is addressed. As long as
destitute illegal aliens can find work in the United States, millions
of them will cross our borders every year. The failure to effectively
confront this crisis leaves our borders unacceptably vulnerable to
infiltration by criminals and terrorists. The security of our Nation
demands swift and decisive action.
Mr. Souder. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF CARLTON MANN, CHIEF INSPECTOR, OFFICE OF
INSPECTIONS & SPECIAL REVIEWS, OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL, DHS
Mr. Mann. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member.
Thank you for inviting me to testify at this hearing this
afternoon. My testimony will be slightly different from what
you have heard so far.
Both border security and contract management continue to be
major challenges for the Department of Homeland Security. The
Office of Inspector General has paid and is paying close
attention to both issues. Last November, the Department
announced a multi-year strategy to secure the administration's
borders called the Secure Border Initiative, or SBI.
SBI includes SBInet, the SBInet program, which replaced
America's Shield Initiative. SBInet is much more complex than
its predecessor programs and will present a greater challenge
with Customs and Border Protection to manage the procurement
and acquisition processes. We have not fully assessed the
organizational SBI activities. However, we are paying more
attention to their procurement.
Last month the Office of Inspector General initiated a
review of SBInet's acquisition strategy to determine whether
the Department had applied lessons learned from its experience
with other major acquisition programs and to forewarn the
Department of potential contract pitfalls before a significant
expenditure of time, resources and money occurs.
We are focusing on two critical areas: First, operational
requirements, which is the ability to maintain effective border
security and, two, organizational capacity, the Department's
ability to manage complex procurement activities.
Earlier this year, the Department issued a request for
proposal to select a system integrator for SBInet using an
indefinite quantity, indefinite delivery performance-based
acquisition strategy. Requirements are described in a broad
statement of objectives to the bidders providing the
flexibility for them to propose innovative solutions. It
remains to be seen whether the proposed solutions fully address
the Border Patrol's needs, what measurements or performance or
effectiveness can be applied to the contract, how soon the
program can be implemented and a reliable estimate of cost.
We see evidence of early risks manifesting themselves in
SBInet. For example, the Department has set a tight deadline of
September 2006 for contract award, requiring Customs and Border
Protection to press hard to meet that deadline while mitigating
risk and avoiding mistakes.
Next, a statement of objectives type contract is made high
risk by broadly defined performance requirements. Scoping a
series of task orders over a number of years will entail not
only vigilant contract administration but also continuing
program decisions, system engineering efforts, business case
analysis and making a substantial program management office.
Third, the lack of defined stabilized and validated
requirements increases the likelihood of program changes,
interoperability problems, and excessive costs. A broadly
defined statement of objectives approach coupled with undefined
requirements leaves a program vulnerable to failure and cost
And finally, building a program management office entails
not only recruiting and contracting for qualified acquisition
managers and technical experts, but also establishing
comprehensive business processes. With a new start program, a
myriad of tasks such as developing staffing plans, providing
facilities, and setting office procedures distract from the
mission's accomplishment, but nevertheless must be done.
The Office of Inspector General will continue to monitor
these developments closely and provide our recommendations to
Customs and Border Protection and the Department.
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, this concludes my statement.
I look forward to answering your questions.
[Prepared statement of Mr. Mann follows:]
Prepared Statement of Carlton Mann
Good afternoon Chairman Lungren, Chairman Souder, and Members of
the Subcommittees. Thank you for inviting me to testify before the
joint committee hearing today on ``Expanding the Border Fence.''
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector
General (OIG) has paid and is paying close attention to the issues of
border security and DHS contract management, and I appreciate the
opportunity to discuss our work in these areas.
In a recent report outlining the major management challenges facing
DHS, we emphasized that both border security and contract management
continue to be major challenges for the Department.\1\
\1\ DHS OIG, Major Management Challenges Facing the Department of
Homeland Security (Excerpts from the FY 2005 DHS Performance and
Accountability Report), Office of Audits, OIG-06-14, December 2005, at
pages 112 and 116.
Contract Management Continues to Present Major Challenges to DHS
We have identified a number of issues related to the challenge of
building an effective contract and acquisition management
infrastructure for the significant level of contracting activities in
the Department. Excluding credit card purchases, in fiscal year 2004,
DHS processed almost 60,000 procurement actions and purchased almost
$9.8 billion worth of goods and services.\2\
\2\ DHS OIG, Department of Homeland Security's Procurement and
Program Management Operations, Office of Audits, OIG-05-53, September
2005, at page 2.
We view the Department's lack of an institutional capacity for
managing major investment programs as the primary factor in the string
of failed, delayed, and over cost programs. Certainly a sense of
urgency has prevailed to date in making the Department's investment
decisions. Moreover, the urgency of the Department's mission will
continue to demand rapid pursuit of major investment programs. To meet
urgent schedule demands, the Department needs to develop a cadre of
skilled acquisition management personnel, as well as, robust business
processes and information systems to have the capacity to move forward
quickly and effectively implementing programs and initiatives.
More Comprehensive Acquisition Guidance Needed
In our reports, we noted a general need for more comprehensive
acquisition guidance and oversight and recommended that DHS (1) require
expanded procurement ethics training for senior program and procurement
officials; (2) ensure that procurement and program management oversight
processes monitor departmental procurement activities for potential
standards of conduct violations; (3) create and staff a DHS
organization to develop program management policies and procedures; (4)
provide independent technical support to DHS senior management and
organizational component program managers on an as-required basis; and
(4) identify and foster best practices.\3\
\3\ DHS OIG, Department of Homeland Security's Procurement and
Program Management Operations, Office of Audits, OIG-05-53, September
In response to our reports, management began action to correct many
of these deficiencies. Specifically, the Office of the Chief
Procurement Officer is developing a training class on procurement
ethics for senior program and procurement officials that is emphasizing
real examples of procurement fraud in addition to teaching applicable
regulations. The Office of the Chief Procurement Officer issued a DHS
management directive on the Acquisition Oversight Program in December
2005 and is hiring additional staff to conduct oversight of other
More Procurement Management and Contract Management Personnel
We have reported that both the Chief Financial Officer and Chief
Procurement Officer need more staff and authority to effectively carry
out their general oversight responsibilities.\4\ The Government
Accountability Office (GAO) reported in 2005 that the Office of the
Chief Procurement Officer had only two people to conduct oversight on
the eight separate procurement offices, which handled nearly $10
billion in procurement activity during fiscal year (FY) 2004.\5\ GAO
recommended that DHS provide the Office of the Chief Procurement
Officer with sufficient resources and enforcement authority to enable
effective department-wide oversight of acquisition policies and
procedures. We made a similar recommendation.
\4\ DHS OIG, Major Management Challenges Facing the Department of
Homeland Security (Excerpts from the FY 2005 DHS Performance and
Accountability Report), Office of Audits, OIG-06-14, December 2005
\5\ GAO, Homeland Security Successes and Challenges in DHS's
Efforts to Create an Effective Acquisition Organization, GAO-05-179,
March 2005, at page 15.
Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System Procurement
The procurement of cameras for border surveillance is an example of
contracting difficulty. In our report on Border Patrol's remote
surveillance technology, our primary objective was to review Border
Patrol's use of remote surveillance technology, including Remote Video
Surveillance equipment, rather than audit its procurement practices.\6\
Nonetheless, while conducting our review, we encountered certain
contract management issues that adversely affected the timely
installation of Remote Video Surveillance equipment.
\6\ DHS OIG, A Review of Remote Surveillance Technology Along U.S.
Land Borders, Office of Inspections and Special Reviews, OIG-06-15,
December 2005. However, in a series of audit reports beginning in early
2003, the General Services Administration OIG identified inadequate
management controls and numerous improper contract activities on the
part of GSA's Federal Technology Service, including activities related
to Remote Video Surveillance installations and contracting. See: GSA
OIG Compendium of Audits of the Federal Technology Service Client
Support Centers, December 14, 2004.
The Border Patrol, a part of Customs and Border Protection (CBP),
is the primary federal law enforcement organization responsible for
detecting and preventing illegal aliens, terrorists, and contraband
from entering the U.S. between official ports of entry. Border Patrol
used a Blanket Purchase Agreement through the General Services
Administration (GSA) with a contractor to install Remote Video
Surveillance equipment. We reported that Border Patrol's oversight of
Remote Video Surveillance equipment contract activities was
ineffective, Border Patrol certified few contractor invoices prior to
payment, and contract accountability was confused.
Border Patrol's Oversight of Remote Video Surveillance Equipment
Contract Activities was Ineffective
To test the adequacy of contracting oversight, we reviewed
procurement documents for a sample of seven Remote Video Surveillance
installation Technical Directives, six issued under the Blanket
Purchase Agreement and one issued prior to the Blanket Purchase
Agreement. Weak project management and contract oversight, exacerbated
by frequent turnover of program managers, resulted in Remote Video
Surveillance camera sites being incomplete, leaving large portions of
the border without camera coverage. Additionally, completed work was
not finished in a timely manner.
For example, according to our analysis of Border Patrol and GSA
records, most contractor invoices were paid without Border Patrol
certification. Procedurally, Border Patrol should have certified
correct and properly supported invoices, thereby accepting services,
and returned the certifications to the contractor, who would forward
the invoices and certifications to GSA for payment. Border Patrol was
obligated to certify invoices; but there was minimal evidence that it
fulfilled that obligation. This resulted in payment to the contractor
for unverified goods and services. As of August 2005, Border Patrol was
certifying invoices after the invoices had been paid.
Contract Accountability was Confused
The involvement of both the Border Patrol and GSA in the Blanket
Purchase Agreement created confusion. GSA agreed that, in practice,
there was confusion about the responsibilities of the two agencies and,
as the project grew and became more complex, and pressure to keep on
schedule increased, so did the potential for error.
For example, Border Patrol did attempt to bring the contractor into
compliance with the Blanket Purchase Agreement. The Integrated
Surveillance Intelligence System program manager wrote a detailed
letter to the contractor citing inefficient financial tracking and cost
control, inefficient inventory control, a failure to meet required
deadlines and deliverable due dates, and a failure to notify the
government of impediments to installations. The letter made several
recommendations for remediation.
Meanwhile, GSA concluded that Blanket Purchase Agreement could not
be used for construction-related items. The GSA contracting officer
wrote a letter to the contractor instructing the company not to submit
any invoices for non-information technology (IT) related work and to
disregard Border Patrol's letter. (The GSA contracting officer is the
only authority who can provide contractual direction.) Despite GSA's
correspondence, GSA continued to pay invoices for non-IT related work
that the contractor submitted after this letter was sent. In essence,
the letter from the GSA contracting officer was a stop work order
because installing the cameras and related infrastructure was
impossible without the non-IT related work.
Border Security Remains a Major Challenge Facing the Department
A primary mission of DHS is to reduce America's vulnerability to
terrorism by controlling the borders of the U.S. This mission is shared
by a number of agencies within the Department, with the Border Patrol
as the primary agency responsible for preventing illegal aliens,
terrorists, and contraband from entering the U.S. between official
ports of entry from entering the U.S. To accomplish its mission, Border
Patrol uses a mix of agents, information, technology, and equipment.
The technology Border Patrol uses includes cameras and sensors to
detect and identify illegal border intrusions. Last year we conducted
an analysis of remote surveillance technology used by the Border Patrol
to detect illegal entry into the U.S.\7\ Border Patrol's technology is
managed under the auspices of the Integrated Surveillance Intelligence
System. We determined that more than 90 percent of the responses to
sensor alerts resulted in ``false alarms''--something other than
illegal alien activity, such as local traffic, outbound traffic, a
train, or animals. On the southwest border, only two percent of sensor
alerts resulted in apprehensions; on the northern border, less than one
percent of sensor alerts resulted in apprehensions.
\7\ DHS OIG, A Review of Remote Surveillance Technology Along U.S.
Land Borders, Office of Inspections and Special Reviews, OIG-06-15,
Border Patrol agents are spending many hours investigating
legitimate activities because sensors cannot differentiate between
illegal activity and legitimate events and because there are too few
operational Remote Video Surveillance camera sites, consisting of
cameras mounted on poles or other structures, available for Border
Patrol personnel to evaluate the cause of an intrusion alert remotely.
According to Border Patrol officials, the Remote Video Surveillance
system currently deployed provides approximately five percent border
coverage given an average tower height of 70 feet and viewing range of
DHS faces several formidable challenges in securing U.S. borders.
These include development of an effective, automated entry-exit system
(US-VISIT); disruption of alien smuggling operations; identifying,
locating, detaining, and removing illegal aliens; fielding effective
border surveillance technologies; providing timely, accurate, and
complete intelligence to support border security operations; and
developing effective overseas operations, including improved controls
over the Visa Waiver Program and lost and stolen passports.
A further challenge for DHS was the difficulties CBP and ICE
experienced coordinating and integrating their respective operations.
When DHS was formed, CBP and ICE did not come together to form a
seamless border enforcement program. Their operations had significant
interdependencies that created conflict between the two agencies.
Jurisdictional, operational, and communication gaps existed between the
two organizations that had to be addressed by DHS leadership.\8\ The
Department has recognized these problems and, through its ``Second
Stage Review'' initiatives, has reorganized to address them. We are now
following up to evaluate whether the reorganization has improved
coordination and integration.
\8\ See: DHS OIG, An Assessment of the Proposal to Merge Customs
and Border Protection with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, OIG-06-
04, November 2005.
Secure Border Initiative
On November 2, 2005, the Department of Homeland Security announced
a multi-year strategy to secure America's borders and reduce illegal
immigration, called the Secure Border Initiative (SBI). SBI includes
the SBInet program, which replaced the America's Shield Initiative, but
is much more complex, presenting a greater challenge to CBP We have not
fully assessed the organizational structure for SBI procurement
activities. However, we are paying close attention to the SBI
procurement. Last month (June 2006), our Office of Audits initiated a
review of the SBInet acquisition strategy to determine whether the
department has applied lessons learned from its experience with other
major acquisition programs.
The purpose of our ongoing review is to alert the Department of
potential contracting pitfalls before a significant expenditure of
time, resources, and money is made. We are focusing on two critical
areas: (1) operational requirements and (2) organizational capacity.
SBI Procurement Risks
The Department issued a Request For Proposal to select a system
integrator for SBInet using an indefinite quantity/indefinite delivery
performance-based acquisition strategy. Requirements are described in a
broad statement of objectives to the bidders, providing the flexibility
for them to propose innovative solutions. It remains to be seen whether
the proposed solutions fully address the Border Patrol's needs, what
measures of performance and effectiveness can be applied to the
contract, how soon the program can be implemented, and what a reliable
estimate of the program's cost would be. We anticipate scrutinizing the
program's performance management plan, acquisition program baseline,
schedules, cost controls, and cost estimates when they are prepared. We
will also assess the effect on the program and its costs as CBP's
operational requirements are set and adjusted after award. CBP faces
some tremendous challenges and risks in pursuit of SBInet. These
challenges and risks include:
Acceleration: The Department has set a tight deadline of September
2006, requiring CBP to press hard to meet tight deadlines while
mitigating risks and avoiding mistakes. The urgency underscores the
need for institutional capacity, including a cadre of acquisition
management personnel and robust business processes, to accomplish the
tasks needed to set-up a new program and ensure the program office is
ready to implement the program, administer the contract, and establish
Loose contract requirements: High-risk acquisition strategies call
for mitigators and controls. A Statement of Objectives type of contract
is made high-risk by broadly defined performance requirements. We have
reported on previous DHS major acquisitions with similar strategies
that have failed. Will the SBInet contract have the incentives,
penalties, and metrics to ensure performance? Scoping a series of task
orders over a number of years, will entail not only vigilant contract
administration, but also continuing program decisions, systems
engineering efforts, and business case analyses necessitating a
substantial program management office.
Unstable operational requirements: Lack of defined, stabilized,
validated requirements increases likelihood of program changes,
interoperability problems, equitable adjustments, and cost overruns. A
broadly defined Statement of Objectives approach coupled with undefined
requirements leaves programs vulnerable to failure and cost overruns.
Lack of Organizational Capacity: Building a program management
office entails not only recruiting and contracting for qualified
acquisition managers and technical experts, but also establishing
robust business processes. With a new program, a myriad of tasks, such
as developing staffing plans, providing facilities, and setting office
procedures, distract from mission accomplishment, but they,
nevertheless, must be done.
This concludes my prepared remarks. I would be happy to answer any
Mr. Souder. Thank you all very much and for your patience.
Mr. Barnhart, the Calexico offense that you talked about,
Mr. Barnhart. The Calexico border crossing station
constructed by my company, yes, sir.
Mr. Souder. What type of fence was that?
Mr. Barnhart. We just used regular chain link fence at the
border crossing. Well, you know, at that particular location
the All American Canal runs through there and don't be confused
with the word ``canal.'' Because I know when my estimators
brought it, I thought the canal like 12 or 10 feet wide. We
were going to bridge cross this thing. So I go down there and
it is the Colorado River that we have actually herded in there
to irrigate all of that land. So you have a pretty substantial,
in that particular area where the border crossing is, a pretty
substantial water barrier there. It's not like the Rio Grande
Mr. Souder. You said--and is it a single fence or triple
fence? I can't remember.
Mr. Barnhart. At Calexico? It is the regular--the Calexico
border station was a GSA job and, you know, just had the
regular GSA government specifications.
Mr. Souder. So if you estimated that that given the number
of miles would take an extensive period of time, how much does
that change the cost estimates, do you think?
Mr. Barnhart. Well, my estimates were not based off of
Calexico. My reference to Calexico, to border crossings and the
jobs we currently do in Calexico is you are going to get a good
work force out of San Diego along the coast. You are going to
pay people and you are going to pay them subsistence and travel
and everything else to work when it is 117 degrees out there in
the summer, when they can work on the coast and it's 77 in San
Diego. So my only point in bringing that up is anyone who
happens to be working somewhere else and thinks they are going
to go out in the middle of the California desert and life is
going to be wonderful and going to find a great work force and
everything else better wake up and smell the coffee.
Mr. Souder. Have those of you who have worked with fences,
do you believe there is sufficient labor if we accelerated this
process that you would be able to meet these kind of demands?
Mr. Barnhart. Well, that is what they did. The estimators
contacted about 10 or 12 companies that are in the business of
erecting fences. Now we are a large and general engineering
contractor. So if we have--now we have concrete crews and those
kind of crews for the barrier wall and for the flagpole
footings and all of that. The actual fence erection, if you use
a steel fence, it is probably--you are probably going to use
some steel workers or you are going to use somebody that is a
fence--depending on the labor classification code that that is
going to come under. So they went to about 10 of those
Now I am not surprised we got 10 different prices, right?
So, and they ran the gamut. And so what the estimators did was
they used a blended production rate, and what I did on my visit
now when I talk to the Army personnel down there, when I was
asking them what their production rate was and I was asking
them some general questions well, how many people did you do
this with and kind of that, what I was really trying to do was
double check my own estimators and what this information that
they had received from these, you know, from these fencing
So the rate that you see in here is actually a blended
rate, a blended erection rate of those 10 companies.
Mr. Souder. Thank you for putting that together.
Mr. Williams, I wanted to ask you a question on the New
Mexico barrier fence.
When I went out and looked at that, it was just completed,
what, 3 weeks ago?
Mr. Williams. New Mexico was completed very recently. In
fact, we are now engaging in a brand new 3-mile sector in the
Yuma area that is beginning August 1st.
Mr. Souder. When you looked at the locations, in your
testimony you seemed to imply that there were many variances
but one of the primary variables was where you could put the
fence as opposed to where the greatest risk of illegal activity
was going to be. What kind of blend do you look at in that
area? There is one barrier fence that is the lowest type of
style and they are looking for a more effective barrier fence.
Give you a couple combinations of questions here. One is
does that mean we only had money for 1 mile because you only
built 1 mile there? Does it mean that you felt it will only
sustain 1 mile? And what is your reaction to Congressman King's
proposal for a more full fence that would also affect illegal
immigration, not just vehicles.
Mr. Williams. A couple of things. I would like to kind of
address your initial question as far as manpower. The system
that we are presently using that you saw in New Mexico is
anchored by what we call metal thin pipe foundation. This
application along with a, what we call ``push it'' machine
lessens the number of people per crew per manpower that you'd
have to get for each one of the crews that you install. This
would be very important when you get into some of the areas
where you're in mountainous terrain. You are in the most remote
areas. And that is what I was referring to with easy access
because the equipment actually will go into places where you
really don't have to go to build a road. You don't have to
bring concrete. You don't need concrete trucks. You don't need
all of that type of stuff with this particular system and it
makes it more conducive.
Back to your initial question about the 1 mile. The
original project we did was a pilot project in that we did 3
miles in Yuma and that was done in more of a sandy/silty area
and then we were asked to do a mile in New Mexico to see how
the reaction would be with the different walks and different
multi-soles in that area. So it wasn't necessarily as an
evaluation what was applicable, but it was an area that we
really started right after; and I think you saw that right
after the original, what we call traditional permanent vehicle
barriers, and then we did the PVB with the metal pipe
We have also found, as I indicated in my statement, that
the rate of production with the metal thin pipe foundation is a
tremendous savings both in the three layered fence proposals
and also in the permanent vehicle barrier proposals, and that
part of what you do with the manpower and the equipment that
does the work really is the rapid deployment that the system
allows us to do. And rapid deployment in this whole thing I
heard today hasn't been talked about much. How long does this
really take? How long are we really, you know, we are talking
about the different types of methods of things. I think the
really important--one of the important factors is, you know,
feasibly common sense wise, how long is this really going to
take to stop what we all have been talking about, the diversion
of once you seal off one area, then they go to another area.
That is normal. That is going to happen.
So I think some of the research, we have done--some of the
products that we have here that have really been on the ground
level really have worked. That barrier that I'm referring to
that you saw also prevents a 40 mile per hour vehicle from
ramming it. It won't move at all. It's been jammed and that is
really some of these things we are talking about, making sure
the drugs won't come through in a big truck or, you know,
people won't get smuggled through. I think that this method is
very conducive to helping some of the problems and, as everyone
said, one is not the total solution but this is really a
solution that will help out.
Mr. Souder. Congressman King, you led off this panel. You
heard all of the witnesses. Do you have additional comments?
Mr. King. Reflecting I think particularly on Mr. Bonner's
testimony and I just can't--I can't accept the idea that having
a solid barrier that prohibits human traffic of all kinds
wouldn't become something that would allow the officers on the
ground to be far more effective, and I asked that question, I
know, down in Laredo of the sector chief down there, I believe
it was Mr. Reynaldo Garza at a hearing we had 2 or 3 weeks ago,
if it would take more or less people to defend the border if we
had the kind of barriers that I described here and his answer
was less, although I will say that it wasn't something that
came forth eagerly.
I wanted to point out a couple of things. I have got a
couple of visuals if I could add that I think might help the
panel. And like if you could put up the one first on the
bollards that were spoken to by the chief officer right behind
you there to the left. And just so that I can describe what
I think that is a very good design. This exists, I took
that picture, some place down around Organ Pipe Cactus and that
is those steely beams that are set up in kind of a double layer
that let the water through that let some of the wildlife
through like snakes and that kind of thing, but it is a
defective way where we have got an arroyo in our waterway that
needs to be handled. I want to define that.
And also I have another picture that has to do with the
environmental issues that I wish Mr. Dicks were here to see. I
think it really lays out something and makes the case very
well, and this is the issue on the--let's see, Cabeza Prieta
National Wildlife refuge in Arizona. This is where endangered
species of bat, the long-nosed bat, they only nest in four
caves that we know of. This is one of them. And the illegals
were coming into the national refuge and using that cave, and
they scared the bats out and so for several years the bats
wouldn't nest in the cave. So we built a fence, our taxpayers
built a fence around that bat cave at the cost of about
$75,000. It has kept the illegals out of the cave and now the
bats have returned. So that is an idea of that, we are looking
at fences do work. They keep the--at least in this particular
case they do.
And I want to emphasize this issue of what is the business
model. I mean we always revert back to illegal immigrants and
the focus on cutting back on illegal immigrants, but I want to
emphasize this. $65 billion worth of illegal drugs, how
powerful is that force? I don't know if any of us can estimate
how powerful that is. But shutting off the jobs magnet is
important. Cutting down on that huge human haystack of humanity
is important. But if we leave an open border, that is not even
marked across most of New Mexico, for example, you are going to
have people hauling drugs across there one way or another, if
they are burros with 50 pounds of marijuana on their back or if
they are coming across there on motorcycles or horses or burros
or whatever it might be. Until we make it more difficult to
cross there than somewhere else, they are going to do the thing
that is as least difficult and the most efficient for them.
And this business model, the model of $8 billion on our
southern border, $4 million a mile, no one here at this panel
has brought a number per mile that exceeds, I don't believe,
half of that $4 million a mile. And this is a one-time
expenditure for all of these structures that are here. And if
we are going to look at raising the numbers of border patrol
people from 12,000 to 20,000, maybe 30,000, as Mr. Cummings
said, or 40,000, as you mentioned, those figures need to be
plugged in here.
If I am looking at this from a business model and I have to
sit here and look at the miles where I live out on rural land,
what if someone gave me the responsibility to control, say, the
two miles right there where I happen to live that I know and
love. And if I had that responsibility and if I would bid that
like the contractor that I am or like some of my colleagues
here on the panel, you see the best business model by asking
business people to come forward and to put out an RFP for the
best business model on how we can ensure the real true border
control. And I would submit that business model is going to
include the kind of structure that allows you to cut down on
the numbers of manpower because the initial upfront investment
in a solid fixture, a series of them, returns every single year
after that. And more and more people on the ground, increasing
We have done that. I am willing to continue doing that, but
I am not seeing the results. 1.2 million arrests on our
southern border. Many of them came right back again. And if I
agree with Mr. Bonner's testimony, that perhaps stopping one
out of three or one out of four, but when I asked the people on
the ground in those meetings that I mentioned earlier, those
private quiet meetings off at obscure ranch houses or sitting
there till 2:30 in the morning, and I asked them what
percentage are you stopping and you know the most consistent
number I got was 10 percent, I am not sure they have the full
So I don't want to say I think that is right, but I am not
hearing people that are on the line saying it is a number even
25 percent. So I think it's a huge problem. I don't think we
can measure the people that are here in this country. I think
we must get a handle on it for the four reasons I said.
People smuggling, the most important difficulty is going to
be $65 billion worth of drug smuggling. Terrorists that come in
like the needles in the haystack of humanity and the criminals
that are associated with all of them. And so that's the
questions that are on my mind, and I appreciate the privilege
to give testimony.
Mr. Souder. Mr. Cummings.
Mr. Cummings. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I am just
sitting here trying to take all of this in and I must tell you
that I have a lot of mixed feelings about this testimony.
As a lawyer and as one who has heard a lot of testimony
over the years, I am trying to figure out if I am an American
citizen who is watching this, do I harken back to Katrina and
the way we spent our money and what we have gotten for it? Do I
think about companies like that, and I have only named
companies that have spent money of the United States' citizens,
many of them in my district, hard working Americans who are
watching this probably right now and thought they were getting
one thing and then to have companies basically admit that they
were not doing the things that they were supposed to be doing
over in Iran and--I mean Iraq and Afghanistan.
I mean, these are key questions and the reason why I raise
it is mainly because of Mr. Bonner's testimony. See, the
President and I agree on this to a degree. And I think,
Congressman King, you alluded to it. You talk about the people
that you listen to. I have a tremendous, tremendous respect, as
I know all of us do, for law enforcement. I do believe that it
is a thin, a very thin blue line. And when I hear somebody like
a Bonner, Chief Bonner, say what he said, I do believe that
he's--and I heard what was said in the earlier panel with the
Chief who spoke. I do believe that they are on the ground. They
are trying to figure it out. They are talking--they are not
directly on the ground. They are talking to people who are on
the ground dealing with the problem every day. And then I hear
them say that well, you know, there are different things that
we need and I hear Bonner saying well, if you can stop the
employment situation, that is get to the employers, that will
make a major difference. But yet and still we seem to be
putting that aside to a large degree and not dealing with that,
and I agree with you, Congressman King, that we also have to
deal with the drugs. After all, that is the subject matter of
my subcommittee, the one that Congressman Souder chairs. So we
are concerned about that.
But it seems like there is a disconnect. And if I am an
American citizen and I am sitting here and I am listening to
this, I am saying to myself OK, the plans sound nice, but are
we going to solve our problems? And Mr. Barnhart, I appreciate
your testimony. You were very, very clear, but one of the
things that you said that Chairman Souder even went back to,
and that is you talk about the permitting process and that it
would possibly take 7 to 12 years to get through this. And let
us assume that 4 million people come into the country every
year. I mean, in other words, let us assume two million. Take
it even lower than that. Let us assume one in 7 years. That is
7 million people. And it seems to me that if I am just a
regular fellow, a lady, just got home from work, and I turned
on C-SPAN, I would just do a little bit of math. And I said now
wait a minute, hold it. One of the major concerns is
employment. My Congressman is up there, they are talking about
fences, all kinds of fences and, you know, that is good. But
why aren't they what about dealing with this job situation?
Mr. Souder. We don't have any jurisdiction----
Mr. Cummings. Mr. Chairman, you have got to hear me out. I
was patient with you. Please be patient with me. I am going
somewhere with this.
And so we just heard the Border Patrol Chief talk about how
there was--and this is the relevance. He talked about a list of
items that he needed to do his job. I specifically asked him
what that list was, and he named all kinds of things, and the
reason why I am bringing all of this up is that I want to make
sure that whatever we do is practical because I am telling you
at the rate we are going, and any logical thinking person would
ask the question, you know, are they wasting their time because
it seems as if it's kind of hard to get to the solution that we
are looking for that is keeping people who are not supposed to
be in this country out at the rate we are going with the fence
Now Mr. Bonner, Chief Bonner, let me just go back to you
for one moment. I think Congressman King made an excellent
point that you have got four different reasons why people may
come into this country illegally. And the whole idea is well
what about the drug smugglers. What about them? And I am just
following up on testimony you have already given. What about
them? And you talked about employment stopping and you thought
that would be great, but he makes a very good point. And I am
just trying to speak up for the person who just got home from
work and turned this on.
Mr. Bonner. Congressman King makes an excellent point. We
need to focus on those drug dealers, those drug smugglers; but
what is happening right now, Congressman, is the same people
who smuggle drugs have transitioned over and are smuggling
illegal aliens and using them as decoys. They will send a group
of 50 illegal aliens, knowing it is going to take 3 or 4 hours
of our time to round them up, guard them, process them and send
them back and in the meantime the border is wide open for that
load of drugs that they want to get through.
As long as we are dealing with this haystack of illegal
workers, we are not going to get to the point where we can
intercept most of the drugs coming across. We know that we are
highly ineffective in intercepting drugs. You can go on any
street corner in America, look at the price of drugs. It is
staying flat, which means that the supply is very plentiful.
It's outpacing the demands. Otherwise the price would be going
We are doing a terrible job of intercepting illegal drugs
at the border and the coastlines. You know, we have 95,000
miles of coastline; also, that if we crack down at the border,
we know it is going to flow up to those areas. But, you know,
let us get to the point at least where we can control our
borders. And in order to do that, we have to turn off the job
magnet, eliminate those millions of people coming across who
are looking for work.
Mr. Cummings. The fencing that we were talking about here.
Did you listen to all of this testimony? I am wondering are you
saying that we should not have fencing or are you saying we
should have fencing in certain places? What are you saying?
Mr. Bonner. I am saying there is a strategic use for
fencing. Barriers that stop vehicles from driving through are
essential on the roads that the drug smugglers are using
because once they hit the American highways they know that they
have the upper hand. The Border Patrol, for example, has a
policy that prohibits its agents from chasing people who break
traffic laws unless we get supervisory approval, which is
generally not forthcoming. I have been involved in incidents
where you could see the bales of marijuana. You knew that this
was a truck with a camper shell laden down with probably a ton
of marijuana and the agents were told to back off because the
driver of that vehicle hit the accelerator and was breaking
So there was a ton of drugs that made it into the streets
of America because of the crazy policies of the Border Patrol.
But once those vehicles come into the country, much more
difficult to get them stopped. Why not stop them before they
can get into the country? I wholeheartedly support barriers in
strategic locations. I think that fencing has a place in
limited areas, strategically placed to channel the traffic
away. But I think if you try to build a fence from one part
of--from the Pacific Ocean all the way to the Gulf of Mexico,
all you are going to do is encourage more tunnels, more people
to climb over those fences.
One of the problems we are experiencing now in San Diego,
at least as people drop across the fence, many people are
injured, as Chief Stevens testified. We are also finding that
criminals are exploiting that. They know that we won't take
them, that we won't run record checks on them because the
Federal Government doesn't want to bear that expense of
hospitalizing the people and guarding them. So criminal aliens
fake injuries so that they get taken to a hospital and then
they are released into the streets of the United States of
America. It is appalling.
Mr. Cummings. Who are the best folks to determine where
fencing should go?
Mr. Bonner. The best folks are the people working right
there at the border. Chief patrol agencies are generally
political appointees. They are going to say whatever they are
told to say. If you want to know where the fencing should go,
ask the men and women who patrol that every day. They have the
best sense of what it is going to take to deal with the
situation. But give them some help. Cut off the job magnets so
they are not dealing with millions of people every year. Pare
it down to a number that we can deal with, and I believe it
would take probably somewhere between 25 and 30,000 Border
Patrol agents just to stop the other types of traffic, leaving
the workers, those millions of workers out of the equations.
Mr. Cummings. Mr. Barnhart, let me ask you this, your
example. Mr. Barnhart? Is that Mr. Barnhart? I don't have my
Mr. Barnhart, you talked about the structure. How deep does
that go into the ground, the one that you proposed?
Mr. Barnhart. The cutoff wall? 4 feet. That is what it is
now. What I did was I looked at what they were doing now. You
know, they've been doing this for quite a while. There is a
sergeant down there that's been down there many, many years,
and I found him. Because when I went down and looked at the
fence, I had all kinds of questions: Why this, this, and that
and that? And along come a car and had three Army personnel in
it and I flagged them down. I said talk to me about this fence.
They said oh, you need to go talk to--I have got his name
written down in my office--Sergeant so and so. He knows
everything about this. So I did. I hunted him down. I walked
right in his office and then started asking him questions. And
so we basically mirrored what they were doing then and what he
has done over the past years, you know. They've adapted to make
the fence more efficient.
Mr. Cummings. Speaking of efficiency, the reason why I
asked you that is that have you looked at the problems with the
tunneling and how would that design help with regard to
tunneling? In other words, people that tunnel under.
Mr. Barnhart. Well, the tunneling that I saw, and I only
saw it on the television screen in San Diego, they started in
one house on the border on the Mexican side and then tunneled
under and then came up on the U.S. side. And certainly, if you
want to go into a rural area, but I don't think that is the way
they will do it. The reason they went to the sleeves in these
flagpole footings, because I was amazed when I saw that. I saw
these steel posts and these 7-foot deep flagpole footings and
we put millions of these in place for basketball poles or
whatever you want to do. And they had a plastic sleeve around
it and I was curious. What is that plastic sleeve doing? So
when I got over to the sergeant, I asked him and the testimony
referred to it. They come across with torches and they actually
just take the post out. So rather than tunnel under, they just
burn that baby out and then go on in. And what the sleeve does
is they lift--it is a maintenance thing. They just let the new
post in, bolt that baby back up and the repair is much quicker.
So to answer your question, yes, you can tunnel it under
but that is not what they'll do. They will come in and cut the
post out with the cutting torch and then you'll be in there
maintaining it and whatever fence you build, that is not the
end of it. Get ready for a maintenance crew.
Mr. Cummings. Mr. Bonner, just one last question. I mean at
the rate we are going, one of the things I am always concerned
about is I believe this is our watch. This is our watch. We are
the ones who are responsible today. We are the ones that must
prepare this country for the future. And I often wonder whether
when under our watch we are doing the right thing so that
future generations look back and say they did the right thing.
And I am just wondering, I mean, what do you--I mean,
looking at the lay of the land, the fencing proposals,
everything that we have seen so far, we continue to do what we
are doing right now, right now, what do you see for the future?
Mr. Bonner. If we continue along the road that we are
following, I foresee us 20 years from now having this same
discussion. Not you and I. It will probably be different
players, but I see the problem being intractable as long as we
continue to pursue the same so-called solutions. We are not
focusing on the root of the problem. We are just focusing on
the symptoms. And to the extent that we do that, we will push
the traffic from--we have already pushed it from San Diego to
Tucson, and now we are seeing it go to New Mexico into Texas.
But just picture one of those long skinny balloons. What we
are doing is squeezing the balloons. We are not deterring
people despite what the Border Patrol claims. People aren't
staying home. The number of people coming across the border in
fact is probably increasing. Why? Because there are jobs that
pay so much more in the United States compared not just to
Mexico but to a number of developing nations throughout the
Mr. Cummings. Congressman King, I hope you understand what
I am saying. You know, I want us to--I really want us to find a
solution to the problem. You know, I mean I listen to the folks
on--and I know you do and you have been going to the border and
sitting there and it has got to bug you too--but I am just
trying to make sure that whatever we do that we use the
taxpayer dollars efficiently and effectively and when I have
got some folks who are saying--border patrol types who say,
well, maybe we should have fencing here and there and maybe we
should do something else here, you know, that to me, I mean, I
can't just discard that kind of testimony as--I just can't. If
I can trust my police officers in any city to say this is what
we need from the Federal Government, will you help us, you
know, they are the ones who are putting their lives on the
line. You might want to comment, but I want you to understand
what my concerns are.
Mr. King. Well, I especially appreciate the in-depth
questions you have asked and the tone that you bring and the
concern. I know every bit of it is absolutely sincere. And I've
been sitting here trying to rationalize this all myself and
trying to think of what if someone had an invention that they
could lay out on the border that was a hundred percent certain
to shut off all the traffic and put it all through the ports of
entry. How many border patrols would we need then? And my
answer would be of course a lot less than we are at least
proposing we need, and we know we would have a lot of problems
at the ports of entry because that would focus that human
My effort is to put some kind of structure in place so we
can be more efficient with the humanity that we have, and I
cannot accept the argument that having a wall like I have
designed and a fence like these gentlemen have designed is not
going to cut down on that need for boots on the ground, at
least the numbers, or make those numbers more efficient. So
that is where I come with this, but if we are going to fix this
thing--and Mr. Bonner is absolutely right on shutting off the
job market. I am with that a hundred percent. I have introduced
legislation called the New IDEA Act that would allow the IRS to
come in and do an audit and then deny Federal deductibility for
wages and benefits paid to illegals and give safe harbor for
using the basic pilot program. If we did that, that is another
deterrent to turn off the job market, and there is quite a few
co-signatures on that.
But in the end we are this. With the illegal drug portions
of it, we do interdiction and we do rehabilitation. But in the
United States of America we do a lousy job of providing
incentives for deterrence from becoming drug addicts and that
is where, if I am already up to this, the magic wand, then I
would do random testing in the workplace. I would do it in the
educational field and I would do it on welfare. If we could do
that, we would shut down that force of the drug. But it still
comes back to if we shut off the drug magnet, if we shut off
the demand for illegal drugs, then we only have criminals and
terrorists that want to come across the border.
So it is a much larger problem than we can address with one
single thing. I do agree with that.
But I want to focus on the big problem that we have. We
have this huge bleeding at the border, this 11,000 a day and
perhaps 12,000. Santa Anna's army was 6,000 when they came
across. They split in half to take the Alamo. That gives you an
idea how big this is. Every time a baby is born in the United
States, an illegal comes across our southern border, and that
doesn't include the 300 to 350,000 anchor babies that start
here, that start the chain migration as well.
So with that 46 to 48 percent of Mexicans who want to come
to the United States and with a Senate bill over there that
would essentially legalize anyone who wants to come here within
the next generation, that empties out Mexico. And I had a
conversation with the Ambassador from Mexico to the United
States just last week, a long in-depth conversation and very
meaningful one. And he agrees that there is no solution for
Mexico if we open our borders to all of those who want to come
here. They need their best people down there to help recover
So it is a North American problem. It's a drug problem. It
is a criminal problem, and it is a terrorist problem.
And some of the other testimony that we saw was that, let's
see, we had I believe it was the GAO that ran a couple of
chests to try to bring in radioactive material through our
ports of entry. They were successful in the northern and the
southern border. So even if we seal off our border and we can
be successful in our ports of entry, we still have a lot of
work to do. And some of the testimony I have received in the
other hearings indicate that actual--that more drugs come
through the ports of entry than come across the border in
between the ports of entry. But as I went down to Ajo/Why,
Arizona at the border patrol station there, the border station,
the port of entry there, I was informed that there are illegal
crossings on either side of that port of entry that get more
traffic every day than our legal port of entry does. And while
I was there, there was a knifing just across the border in
Mexico. They brought him across in a Mexican ambulance and
airlifted him out of Tucson wherein that hospital loses about
$14 million in billings every year providing health care for
illegals. And this particular individual was legal. He was
paroled into the United States but we paid for all that health
care, $14 million a year, and that is the only trauma center
there in southern Arizona that covers all of Arizona.
This case gets bigger and bigger. I wanted to say one more
brief comment and then conclude.
With the tunnels, to be concerned about the tunnels I think
that some--a concern in the urban areas where you can tunnel
from a building to a building, but if you are going to dig a
tunnel out into the open areas, you have to go with your dirt
somewhere. So unless it is a very short tunnel, just underneath
and up again, it is going to be very hard for anyone to conceal
that excavation because you have a dirt pile coming out the
other end. So I am not as concerned about that. I agree with
Mr. Barnhart that it is going to take maintenance, but the
stronger you build it the less maintenance it takes, and we can
still use the UAVs, we can use infrared. We can use vibration
sensors. We can set up all of that and be very effective and
keep our Border Patrol as efficient as they can be.
Mr. Souder. Mr. Mayne, could you comment on the blow torch?
We have heard a lot about the blow torches in your fence. You
had several variations of your fence. Are some of those easier
to cut? How long does it take a blow torch to cut through?
Isn't that fairly visible? If we expand the number of Border
Patrol agents, aren't they going to be better able to see that?
If we have central systems, aren't they going to be able to see
that quicker? Is that something that can be done easily? The
chain link is done differently.
Mr. Mayne. The particular chain link that we are proposing,
what we call a mini-maze, which I have here, this is a 9-gauge
zinc coated product and you can see the number--well, someone
mentioned about standard chain link. This is a piece of
standard chain link. This is what you see in the industrial
areas. This is 9-gauge. So you can see there is not very much
steel here. But when you get into the mini-mesh, which is also
a 9-gauge, this has a minimum 199-pound break load on. To take
a blow torch and cut this, it would obviously, there is no
question you can cut this with a blow torch, any type of metal
fencing you can certainly burn through it.
Because of this method that we attach this chain link, you
need a much larger hole to burn through, and hopefully with the
sensitive devices we have available now someone will realize
that someone is burning a hole through this. To my knowledge we
have never done an actual test on how long it would take. I
know I heard some numbers from the landing mat and how long it
took to burn through that. I think the advantage someone has in
burning a hole through the landing mat is because no one can
see that. They are on the other side. With this type of
fencing, because it is open, you know, any one out there
burning, you know, people, it is going to be very, very highly
But to answer your question, Mr. Chairman, I have no
numbers that would tell you how long it would take to burn a
hole in it.
Mr. Souder. You also seem to think that a double layer
fencing is more efficient than a triple. Does that depend on
the area? What did you mean by the comment in your testimony?
Is that a financially driven thing to say go down to two
because you couldn't afford three?
Mr. Mayne. Or--I'm sorry?
Mr. Souder. Was it financially driven, because we can't
afford three, go down to two?
Mr. Mayne. I think the double fence obviously, as we heard
testimony earlier from the Border Patrol, that they are looking
for something that will delay entrance. Obviously they are
looking to deter the 4-gauge which is very popular with the
Homeland Security: Detect, deter, delay, and deny. But the
double fence I think is really critical because I don't know of
any type of fence that you can't get through. So the longer you
delay, and as we heard testimony from the Border Patrol, they
certainly recommend the double fence because once you penetrate
one, you have got them in this clear zone, and it gives them a
better opportunity to make the arrest and to stop them. So I
think that a double fence would certainly do the job in keeping
out the drug dealers.
Mr. Souder. Well, I thank you all very much for your
patience today. It's been a long hearing process. I tried, not
very successfully at times, to keep this focused on the fence.
There are many hearings going on on many subjects. There has
never been a hearing where we have actually looked at the
details of the fence before in any congressional committees.
That is why you have to take each part like we are looking at
IDs, why we are looking at--we have had multiple hearings
looking at driver's licenses, all that type of thing in the
United States. This is trying to focus on the fence.
As you reflect on what you heard today, if you have any
additional information you want to submit, any additional
statements you want to submit, but I do want to make a couple
One is we have heard in this committee one of the
difficulties, we obviously need to go to watermarks, probably
fingerprints on our IDs in the United States. You know what?
The States that are already moving on that. Guess what? No
police car has a machine that can read it. No agency has a
machine that can read it. We are talking 7, 10 years if we
accelerate this and put the money in to even get that type of
system in place. Everything takes time. Everybody looks at
everybody else. If you did this over here, there is the magic
bullet. You can't play magic bullet. Do your own zone.
The fact is that it is unconscionable that we don't have
control of our southwest border better. It doesn't mean we are
going to stop everybody. It is unconscionable that we have
millions, 12, 18 million people wandering around. We don't know
who they are in the United States, that clearly we are going to
have to deal with the work question of trying to figure out
where people are working, and we are already moving in that
direction. States are moving in that direction. You start to
get to realize it isn't the main building contractor. It is the
subcontractor, and they are going to the job site and you don't
have an easy way to track it even if 5 years from now, 2 years
from now, 3 years from now, we get a secure ID system, that
that is a huge challenge.
And then we have a multi-billion dollar, tens of billions
of dollars underground economy, and that it's the cash
transaction business in America that grows as we increase
taxes. That underground economy is huge. It is the plumber who
shows up with an assistant and does a cash deal and that isn't
going to be found in FICA. It's not going to be found in a
driver's license. It's not going to be found in a work permit.
That the idea that somehow we are going to suddenly eliminate
the jobs magnet when you talk about the rich and poor, you have
got to have some kind of border in there to attempt to manage
that and you don't say because there is a dog that is tempting
to somebody, don't build a fence. That you don't say because
the TV and the neighborhood has a lot of welts in it let us
don't build a fence around it. Let us eliminate the welts. Let
us eliminate the dog. It's not a logical construct. It doesn't
mean it is going to stop it. It doesn't mean we don't work with
the work permit, but you can't get rid of the magnet which in
America is a fast growing economy. So we have to have some kind
of combination of fencing with the other.
I know every Border Patrol agent I have ever met talks
about the jobs magnet. We do need to do that. Everybody who is
on the ground talks about the ID. But you know what, other
people are working on those parts. ICE is partially responsible
for that. It will not fix the problem. They still have to work
on the border with the fencing. And I don't believe--I believe
some types of fencing are harder to get through than other
types of fencing, but the bottom line is you still have to have
a second tier defense in the border. We are going to have to
tighten up the ports of entry. We are going to have to have
other people working in the next tier behind the ones that get
through because in terrorism we are looking at near zero
tolerance, whereas we have always had in illegal immigration
and narcotics, a different battleground. Here one nuclear piece
through there, we are all dead. Or at least a big sector is
dead and this is a huge challenge. And fencing has to be a part
of it. Now how much, what type, where, is a legitimate question
and we've had the opportunity today to participate in a
discussion because it is clearly going to be part of the
solution, as is electronics.
And Mr. Mann, I don't think there is anything more
frustrating than the Government Reform Committee and in
Homeland Security or in Armed Services of when we try to do
something and then have contractors or others take advantage of
the necessity, particularly when we are having a speed pressure
like we are having. And people who don't do that so all of us,
while sometimes it's not good news for Congress that's what an
inspector general is supposed to do. Keep the heat on because
sometimes when you are trying to go fast, you put pressures to
cut corners all over the place. We need to do it right. We need
to make sure people are responsible. Thank you for adding that
to the testimony, too.
Mr. King, did you--it looked like you wanted to say
something here at the end before I close.
Mr. King. It will just be thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Souder. Anybody else have a comment?
Mr. Williams. I just wanted to say one more thing about the
rapid deployment and the speed that you were just talking
about. I think there is the technology and methods there
available for the correct officials to take a look at that can
do rapid deployment with minimum crews to get this fence
accomplished. So I am just a proponent. I have some
information. I am going to submit it to be part of my
Mr. Souder. Thank you. That would be very helpful. Any
others who would talk about how we would do that? What kind of
cost structure? That was some of what we run into when we do a
big transportation bill and do a bump-up, it changes the cost
estimates, too, and legitimate. That is a legitimate cost
question, is how much does this change the cost structure. You
are out in hard areas to work. We only touched here on that.
Mr. Williams. I would like to submit that also.
One other thing about the breaching of the fences. We found
some material that is basically used in the airplane or the
aircraft industries that limits the ability to burn, which
makes the breaching of these particular products very
difficult. So that type of information on the granule level I
would like to submit with my proposal to try to help out to
show there is some ways that this can get accomplished in a
very expeditious manner and a cost efficient manner with the
Mr. Souder. Mr. Mayne.
Mr. Mayne. Yes, sir, Mr. Chairman. I would like to respond
to Mr. Barnhart's comment earlier about how you--why they put
the PVC sleeve over the post. Because of easy repair. One
feature you'll see as I am unweaving this section of fence, the
same principle here is if you get someone comes out and burns a
hole, you can go out there and we have a new section of fence
there and restretch it. So it becomes very cost effective. It's
not as if you come out and replace whole sections of solid
fencing or something if someone burns a hole through it. So
this is a very positive thing as far as the chain link fence.
Mr. Souder. I thank you, and the importance of being able
to see through and if you do have a more solid fencing sensors
on the top and kind of break areas that the border patrol can
move through because we do not want to repeat what happened in
San Diego where we got Border Patrol agents trapped on the
wrong side outarmed and many of them on single patrols. I think
that is one of the scariest things right now as you see the
intensity of the drug battles and the potential terrorist
battles. If somebody has got a real high value product and you
have been out there and you have been sent all by yourself to
go take them down, this is a challenge we have to do, and I
think we are going to have to start to calculate that in.
That means if we can get this human picket fence adjusted
where the Border Patrol is doing more skilled and team-type
pressure points because I think we are going to see much more
sophistication in moving human trafficking, high value targets
for terrorism, high value contraband, and that is a different
challenge for the Border Patrol than the traditional kind of
human fence that we have had and quite frankly, a different
type of level of skill in the agents which hopefully will be
compensated, which is another whole question that we have on
the Border Patrol.
Mr. King. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Kind of as an afterthought, I've been to Israel to visit
the fence and the wall that they've built there and for them it
is life or death. Much of what they have is what we have
proposed here. It has worked for them 95 percent effective and
they are alive today because it worked. They've got more at
stake than we do.
Mr. Souder. I thank you all again. With that, our joint
subcommittee stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 6:40 p.m., the joint subcommittee was
For the Record
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Ginny Brown-Waite, a Representative
in Congress from the State of Florida.
Thank you Chairman Lungren and Chairman Souder for holding this
important hearing today.
Though I do not serve on either of your distinguished
subcommittees, as a member of the Homeland Security Committee, I could
not pass up the opportunity to participate in this discussion about
When my mother was really mad, I always heard her say ``I'm so
angry, I could spit nails.'' Every time I hear about the Senate's
proposed immigration bill, I think the same thing. Since the Senate
passed their flimsy excuse for immigration reform, citizens have had to
take matters into their own hands and help guard our borders. Because
my constituents know the House has a real border security fence
included in our version of immigration and security reform, some of
them have sent me bricks to suggest that they go to help build a wall
on our border. I am sure many of you have received these bricks as
well. When constituents have to step in so Congress will do its job, we
know we have a problem.
Like most Americans, I see the Senate bill as granting a free pass
to law breakers. Our friends, parents, or ancestors all jumped through
immigration hoops to become citizens the right way. These people are
angry that those who snuck in through the ``back door'' will get
preference over those patiently waiting in line--and they are right to
be angry. If Congress condones the crime of crossing our borders
illegally, then what have those who have been protecting them been
fighting for? If the United States does not enforce our current laws,
why have laws on the books at all?
We need to examine these issues today. The Senate touts that their
bill includes a fence along the Mexican border. What they don't tell
the American people, however, is that their fence would be subject to
approval by the Mexican government. When I read that, I was in total
disbelief. How much more outrageous can the Senate bill get? Making our
border security subject to approval by a foreign government borders on
insanity. Frankly, it makes me wonder whether my colleagues in the
Senate started representing Mexico instead of their American
I visited the border not long ago with several of my colleagues and
saw firsthand the daily struggle our law enforcement faces there. Many
of the sheriffs told us what a difference a fence has made in stopping
the flow of illegal immigration. We need to seriously examine the House
and Senate fence provisions and hear from our first responders what
would make a legitimate difference for them. I appreciate the
opportunity to do that today.
Thank you Chairman Lungren and Chairman Souder, and I look forward
to hearing from our witnesses today on this vital issue.