What Happened to the 2006 Secure Fence Act and How that Could Help Us Get the Wall Now

There’s a big story that’s missing in the debate about the border wall.

And that’s that a wall was already approved in 2006.

Calle it whatever you like, they called it the “Secure Fence Act.”

It passed the Senate overwhelmingly with a vote of 80-19, with the support of Senator Joe Biden, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Harry Reid, and Senator Barack Obama.


Here’s what the Act said:

Not later than 18 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall take all actions the Secretary determines necessary and appropriate to achieve and maintain operational control over the entire international land and maritime borders of the United States, to include the following–
(1) systematic surveillance of the international land and maritime borders of the United States through more effective use of personnel and technology, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, ground-based sensors, satellites, radar coverage, and cameras; and (2) physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful entry by aliens into the United States and facilitate access to the international land and maritime borders by United States Customs and Border Protection, such as additional checkpoints, all-weather access roads, and vehicle barriers. (b) Operational Control Defined.–In this section, the term “operational control” means the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband.

From Lid Blog:

The primary goal of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was to help secure America’s borders to decrease illegal entry, drug trafficking, and security threats by building 700 miles (1,100 km) of physical barriers along the Mexico-United States border. Later in the text of the bill, it specifies what was supposed to be built: a double-layered fence with barbed wire on top and room for a security vehicle to patrol between the layers. Not bad right?

Here was one visual:

Obviously the Act was meant to provide for substantial fencing/barriers.

So how much was actually put in place of the 700 miles that was required to be built by the law?

Only 36.3 miles of double-layered fencing has been built.

Why?

Because in 2007, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) said that the act should allow the DHS to determine what type of fence would be appropriate for which areas.

The law was amended to read,
“Nothing in this paragraph shall require the Secretary of Homeland Security to install fencing, physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors in a particular location along an international border of the United States, if the Secretary determines that the use or placement of such resources is not the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain operational control over the international border at such location.”

Hutchison ’s amendment was included in a 2007 federal budget bill even though the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., had a cow…he argued the amendment would kill the border fence promised in the 2006 law. Sadly, he was right. At a different time, Hutchison’s amendment would have been legit. What she couldn’t foresee is that one day the president would be Barack Obama.

So with Barack Obama instead of what was envisioned, instead of what he actually voted on, the double layered fencing seem to have largely been dismissed.

Instead what has been built at least per figures from the Border Patrol as of August last year was built 300 miles of a Vehicle Fence and 355 miles of a Pedestrian Fence, 705 miles of the 1,954 mile border.

Here are some views of the Vehicle Fence which anyone can just walk over. That’s the “barrier” for 300 miles.

And here’s some views of the pedestrian fencing in various areas.

But there’s some positive news from all this.

If the law allowed it to be up to the DHS to change it, it should also allow the present DHS to erect what barriers they see fit (albeit it doesn’t account for the funding).

While a fence/wall is never going to stop everyone, it’s surely going to stop more than Obama’s “Vehicle Fence.”

People were promised a double-layered fenced barrier and that’s what people voted on. But they didn’t even get anything close to that or a real effort to comply with the purpose of the act.

But this is the legal rationale for having the wall. What’s needed is the funding.

Combine it with the El Chapo funding, with the asset forfeiture of $14 billion proposed by the bill from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and you’re there.