Pat, perhaps best known for being the 1996 Reform Party VP candidate as the running mate of H. Ross Perot, joined the Federation For American Immigration Reform (FAIR) board some years ago, having grasped the dangers of unfettered legal as well as illegal immigration, now reaching flood proportions.
Consequently, since Pat was well aware of the slow progress being made with the fence that was to be constructed on our Southern border, he inquired about the fence which the Israelis have put up. Recall that after scores of suicide bombings and daily terrorist attacks against its civilians that have killed more than 850 people and wounded thousands more since September 2000, Israel's government decided to construct a security fence near the northern part of the pre-1967 "Green Line" between Israel and the West Bank to prevent Palestinian terrorists from infiltrating. The project has had the overwhelming support of the Israeli public which sees the barrier as vital to their security.
The Israelis were not the first to act on construction of a security fence. Many countries have built fences to protect their borders:
And, as reported by the Jewish Virtual Library (JVL), "Ironically, after condemning Israel's barrier, the UN announced plans to build its own fence to improve security around its New York headquarters."
Knowing how tight the security including fences is around our Congress and White House—a fact I observe daily and which I applaud—it is also ironic that similar protection against drug trafficking and illegal aliens intruders could not be provided for the American people.
Of course, you will recall the highly touted US law enacted 2 years ago to build a fence to keep out illegal Mexicans. Unfortunately, on December 19, 2007, just before the Christmas recess, when the Omnibus Appropriations Bill was passed, it had an amendment attached by Senator Hutchinson (R-TX) which effectively gutted the law. Our elitist Congress' Christmas gift of security to American citizens!
Many open-border types in Congress and in mass media have claimed that a US fence couldn't work. But the JVL notes:
"Before the construction of the fence, and in many places where it has not yet been completed, a terrorist need only walk across an invisible line to cross from the West Bank into Israel. No barriers of any kind exist, so it is easy to see how a barrier, no matter how imperfect, would at least make the terrorists' job more difficult. Approximately 75 percent of the suicide bombers who attacked targets inside Israel came from across the border where the first phase of the fence was built.
"During the 34 months from the beginning of the violence in September 2000 until the construction of the first continuous segment of the security fence at the end of July 2003, Samaria-based terrorists carried out 73 attacks in which 293 Israelis were killed and 1950 wounded. In the 11 months between the erection of the first segment at the beginning of August 2003 and the end of June 2004, only three attacks were successful, and all three occurred in the first half of 2003.
"Since construction of the fence began, the number of attacks has declined by more than 90%. The number of Israelis murdered and wounded has decreased by more than 70% and 85%, respectively, after erection of the fence." [Israel's Security Fence by Mitchell Bard (Updated December 2, 2007)]
Now wouldn't it be great to quickly cut the flow from Mexico to the US by that amount?
Again the JVL reports:
"As a result of the modifications, the length of the barrier is expected to be approximately 490 miles. About 300 miles of the barrier have been completed. The full length is anticipated to be done by 2010. The security fence is the largest infrastructure project in Israel's history. The cost of the project will be about $2.1 billion. Each kilometer of fence costs approximately $2 million. "
Our contemplated fence would be 854 miles long, which would make its cost perhaps $3 billion. That would hardly compute in the daily expenditures of our profligate government's war in Iraq.
The JVL says:
"Although critics have sought to portray the security fence as a kind of 'Berlin Wall', it is nothing of the sort. First, unlike the Berlin Wall, the fence does not separate one people, Germans from Germans, and deny freedom to those on one side. Israel's security fence separates two peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, and offers freedom and security for both. Second, while Israelis are fully prepared to live with Palestinians, and 20 percent of the Israeli population is already Arab, it is the Palestinians who say they do not want to live with any Jews and call for the West Bank to be judenrein. Third, the fence is not being constructed to prevent the citizens of one state from escaping; it is designed solely to keep terrorists out of Israel. Finally, only a tiny fraction of the total length of the barrier (less than 3% or about 10 miles) is actually a 30 foot high concrete wall, and that is being built in three areas where it will prevent Palestinian snipers from around the terrorist hotbeds of Kalkilya and Tul Karm from shooting at cars as they have done for the last three years...
"Most of the barrier will be a chain-link type fence similar to those used all over the United States combined with underground and long-range sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles, trenches, landmines and guard paths. Manned checkpoints will constitute the only way to travel back and forth through the fence. The barrier is altogether about 160 feet wide in most places. The land used in building the security fence is seized for military purposes, not confiscated, and it remains the property of the owner.
"Legal procedures are already in place to allow every owner to file an objection to the seizure of their land. Moreover, property owners are offered compensation for the use of their land and for any damage to their trees."
Of course there were and are still politics in Israel to overcome, but the Israeli people understand the vital threat of failing border security.
Our governing elites apparently understand protecting the US Capitol and grounds, but they have been willfully not acting to secure our Southern border.
Now that the treasonous Hutchinson amendment has passed, getting back to where we were 2 years ago is harder—but still possible.
The latest efforts to revive the U.S. Fence were mounted by a real reform group, Grassfire. It has just presented a "Build The Border Fence As Promised" petition with 250,000 signatures to Congress. It states:
"As a concerned citizen, I am signing this petition calling on Congress and the President to reinstate and fully fund the original mandate of the Secure Fence Act. I am appalled that Congress took action to undo the Secure Fence Act. I find the actions of those involved reprehensible, and demand the following:
Border fences do work. Pat Choate's comments on the Israeli experience represent a clarion call to action.
Pat's powerful new book, Dangerous Business: The Risks of Globalization to America, a Book of the Month Club selection, will be out this August.
Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.