Dear Editor,

It is apparent that Mr. Robert-Ian Salit believes in the benefits of technology despite what Hurricane Michael taught us ("Build a smart wall not a relic," 2/8/19). While there is much to commend the use of technology, for some tasks technology is not up to the task. Border security is one such example.

Technology use is dependent on power availability. Miles of electrical cables needed to power the system, and the equipment capable of detecting and providing emergency power when the system goes down, are pre-requisites.

An even bigger issue relates to the level of deterrence an electronic barrier represents. For example, Florida’s prisons have a 10-foot high fence topped with multiple strands of concertina wire with attached electronic sensors every few feet that activate an alarm whenever the fence is touched. Granted, the prison’s fence is designed to keep people inside, but the technology is an aide, not a substitute. It should also be pointed out that the use of an electrified fence likely to deter efforts to cross would be considered inhumane.

A fence, better yet a wall, is a physical barrier. Crossing a physical barrier, even by tunneling, requires time. The use of electronic sensors could pinpoint an effort, but it would still require time for border security, the real deterrence, to arrive on site. 

The southern border stretches 2,000 mile along the U.S.-Mexican border. Over 600 continuous miles of the border in Texas is without any form of physical barrier. A number of other areas along the border have what USA Today describes as either “vehicle barriers” (that will stop a vehicle but not prevent people from crossing) or “pedestrian barriers” that are designed to prevent people from crossing. According to USA Today, fencing along the borders of California, New Mexico and Arizona was easier to construct because the federal government has a 60-foot easement along the border; such is not true in Texas.

If electronic surveillance were effective, why are businesses installing fences and attaching sensors rather than using technology alone?


Paul D. Bohac,