January 16th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #727 'Border insecurity'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The Homeland Security chief says the virtual border fence is a bust. Surprise.

Dear Mr. President,

So my understanding is that the “virtual fence” along the U.S. Mexico border has now been cancelled. A billion dollars was spent, a lot of hot air was blown around, and 53 miles of the 2000 miles border was secured.

First: If that’s how this was working out, then good on you for pulling the plug.

Second: Really? 53 miles? I’m no Chuck Norris but give me a billion dollars and I think I might be able to secure 53 miles with a motorcycle and a bullhorn. Maybe a billion dollars just doesn’t go very far anymore.

What surprises me is not that the idea did not work. It seemed a little Rube Goldberg-ish to begin with. I mean, it seems like a virtual fence would probably be best at stopping virtual illegal crossings, not real ones. We don’t write virtual speeding tickets. You don’t have virtual Secret Service agents.

No, what surprises me is that we could be so far off in our estimate of how it might work. We didn’t miss by an inch, or a yard, or even a few miles. We missed by…well, almost the whole thing. Didn’t somebody pull out a map at the start and say, “Hey, that’s a long border down there!”

I don’t mean to be ragging on you, because this is the sort of thing that obviously plagues all sorts of government efforts under all sorts of administrations. But such affairs never cease to amaze me anyway. I know there is a lot of talk now about the “new” plan, and a lot of hope about how that might work. But after this virtual fence debacle, I’ll believe it when I see it. Or if it too turns out to be virtual, when I don’t see it.

As it is, I suspect our southern border remains as porous as a sieve years into our serious discussions on what to do about it.

Call if you can. Going for a long run today and a show at the Kennedy Center. If we had an extra ticket I would invite you along, but no such luck. Next time, ok?


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Deb in Missouri

    The big Surprise in all of this is that the government actually put a billion dollars out at all. I agree with Tom 53 miles with a motorcycle and a blow horn would have been more cost effective, but wait was that not already being done effectively by the Minutemen until bad media was used to drag their ideas and means through the mud and turn everyone against them? Gee, guess the stuff in the movies has some truth to it. Boomer, putting people in jail is not the way to go there is not enough money to keep them there and when they get out will be happening all over again. What I find bizarre is how the Russians managed on keeping people behind the Iron Curtain so effectively and we can not keep people from infiltrating, overwhelming and raping the tax dollars to support them in a higher lifestyle than the US citizens live. Wait, I forgot the governments underlying cause thats its. Russia did not support big business and the US gov. does now I remember!

    February 11, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  2. Boomer in Mo

    Put the people who hire them illegally in jail for at least 3 years and the illegal aliens would quit coming. No under the table jobs, no illegals coming here for work that has suddenly vanished. Cheap compared to the fence, which is also an ecological nightmare and even fenced American ranchers and farmers off the American soil they own.

    January 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  3. Claudia in Houston

    The fence could have been built, but the money was stolen by those screaming to build the fence and they should be investigated.

    January 17, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  4. mike

    Living and working can be like a drug for the 20 million ILLEGALS soaking it in presently in America working hard in place of a valid citizen_________American Laws are not written to be SYMPATHETIC they are written to be respected and followed what in the heck are the 20 million ILLEGALS doing here working with forged documentation allowing employment have with respecting America or its Laws. These
    things exist for a reason, talking about it has reason, and there is certainly a hope
    that there is good reason to WEAN our Country off of this ILLEGAL Labor. This idea we cant ship these people back is a fabrication of false engineering. People that have NO EMPLOYMENT OR POSSIBILITY OF LEGAL EMPLOYMENT HERE will find there is a need to eventually return to their homelands. They can pay their own way back using the money they wrongfully earned here to go home.

    January 16, 2011 at 10:35 pm |

    boarder control? how does it work.boader controls applies to some but not to all.people who cross boarders comes in as illegal immigrants.when it's come to cleaning peoples toilets they opens the boaders,Then shuts it when they donot want them here and there.This how the systerm opeerates.sad but true.good but not so good.excellento!

    January 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  6. Mark Demers

    It seems like a no brainer that it wouldn`t get finished given the price.With the deficit your country is in anyone with a sane mind should have criticized this endeavour . It should never have been started if you can`t finish it.Put that money into the space program and we would have been flying to space by now.
    Anyway – I guess the border with Canada is not so bad after all – after this debacle i can`t see the USA trying to wall us northern residents out too,especially with the cost (WOW) EH?

    Try actually working together with countries to better the world not divide it and maybe things would change for the better.

    To me this wall is reminiscent of another wall that got torn down about 20 years ago.Remember that one ?

    The old saying goes – Do unto others... comes to mind.

    January 16, 2011 at 11:34 am |

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