May 17, 2006

A Border Wall that Works

Whether you are for or against illegal immigration, we can all agree on one simple fact: a continuous border barrier is far more effective than the current erratic use of border barriers, which tend to merely direct illegal immigrants and smugglers into more remote and dangerous areas.

A key gripe against building a continuous border barrier is one of construction and maintenance costs. Another complaint is that the barrier would not be effective. I think I can prove both of these theories incorrect. By using existing prefabricated construction materials, we can build a barrier system that is all but impervious to illegal immigrants that has low maintenance costs.

I propose a relatively simple system, composed of:

  • a vehicle barrier.
  • a primary wall-type barrier
  • two rows of fencing

It would look in profile something like this:

It would use very simple components starting with a vehicle barrier system. For that, we look to history.

Dragon's teeth were used in World War II as fortifications to stop tanks. While specialty vehicles and combat engineers combined with flanking maneuvers limited their wartime impact, these structures are extremely durable, and many can be seen in Europe to this day. Made of reinforced concrete, they get harder over time and they can be mass-produced in forms and transported to their installment sites. These "teeth" would be very difficult for civilian vehicles to penetrate, and the point of their use would be to force would-be illegal immigrants to approach the primary barrier system on foot.

The primary wall-type barrier would serve two purposes. First, it provides an imposing physical barrier that will slow or stop illegal immigrants. It will also screen the American side of the border from view, making it difficult for illegals to judge the location of Border Patrol agents on the American side.

The wall itself only needs to be 15'-20' tall, and can be made of post-and-cap prefabricated systems. I-beam posts are driven into the ground, and cranes lower pre-cast interlocking concrete slabs into place to the desired height. This system is very common, and is often used to create sound barriers on U.S. highways. The walls would be armed with sensors to detect anyone attempting to chisel through, tunnel under, or scale over them, and those scaling the walls would encounter electrified concertina wire at the wall's top.

The current through the wire would not be lethal, but it would be very uncomfortable for those attempting to enter the country illegally.

Concertina wire, a type of coiled razor wire, is effective when combined in layers and in conjunction with other barriers, such as fencing.

Any illegals that successfully bypassed the primary wall barrier would then face two rows of chain-link fencing, faced with multiple rolls of concertina wire and topped with another.

Prefabricated guard towers placed at key vantage points, when combined with sensors, would be used to direct border patrol agents to vector in on those who would attempt to enter the country illegally.

A typical intercept of illegal aliens might work something like this.

Illegals approach the U.S. Mexican border from the Mexican side. Cameras and other sensors would detect the presence of movement day or night when the illegals are still hundreds of yards away from the wall. The dragons' teeth would assure that the illegals cannot rely on vehicles to make the crossing, forcing them to proceed on foot.

As the pedestrian illegals approach the primary wall on foot, alerts are already being sent to the border patrol via sensors so that U.S. Border Patrol agents can begin to deploy to the area. Many illegals may not have the capability to easily surpass the primary wall. They many not have access to a ladder of sufficient length, or they may not wish to challenge the electrified concertina, which while not lethal, is painful and startling. Those who do decide to proceed will be slowed by the concertina, which will snag on clothing and flesh if the person navigating it is not very careful.

In many instaces, once an illegal tops the wall he may find himself facing Border Patrol agents staring back at them, after the agents have been tipped off by sensors.

If agents haven't yet arrived, the illegal still faces a 15-20' drop onto hard ground, and two tall chain-link fences faced and topped with more layers of concertina wire. A smart illegal will bring wire cutters with him, but it would still take precious minutes to cut through or try to crawl over and through the concertina, at which time the U.S. Border Patrol would be able to close in and affect an arrest. any damged concertina could be easily be replaced at a rate of up to a kilometer an hour.

Will this barrier system completely stop the flow of illegal aliens? Of course it will not, but it is vastly superior to the current system, where a simple post fence only serves as a visual reminder of the border in some areas. This barrier will create a “catch zone,” and should significantly hamper the flow of illegal aliens and complicate the lives of drug smugglers.

Of course, this barrier is only part of a working system. The other major component must be removing the motivation to attempt to enter the country illegally, and that is generally an issue of economics, a subject I'll tackle at another time.

Update: The Senate has voted for a triple-layer barrier 370 miles long, and 500 miles of vehicle barriers. Think there is any shot they'll use these ideas?

Posted by Confederate Yankee at May 17, 2006 07:02 AM | TrackBack

Landmines. Nothing says stay out like landmines.

Posted by: lip at May 17, 2006 06:26 AM

love the fence. and the landmines!

if we are SERIOUS about defending the nation and enforcing the law, then we will build a fence/wall.

it's simply unavoidable. if you have a leaky pipe, you do not simply put a bucket under it; you must fix the leak.

Posted by: reliapundit at May 17, 2006 06:52 AM

Confederate Yankee:

I like your idea. Only thing is I think (like lip) that we might want to look at putting a MINE FIELD outside the Dragon's Teeth to keep vehicles from getting to close.

Rick Watson
(Somewhere in MAINE.)

Posted by: Rick Watson at May 17, 2006 07:22 AM

Human rights orginizations will never go for a land mine area. The electrified portion of the fence along with the razor wire will be pushing it (but I like all the ideas). Razor wire, for those that have never been near it, is designed to catch, snag, tangle, and basically make a body bleed, sometimes to death for those unfortuneately enough to fall and tangle themselves into it. First illegal that does that will have the HR people yelling foul at the top of their lungs.

Don't get me wrong, like I said, I like the idea. The Triple fence with the vehicle blocks is a great idea.

Posted by: Retired Navy at May 17, 2006 07:44 AM

Rough caculation, correct me if I'm wrong (just doing the chain link portion)

around 3000 miles of fence needed (some already there so whole border doesn't need fence)

13200000 feet

12 foot fence about $4000 for 250 ft (may be able to get it cheaper)

comes to $211 million for just the fencing, add another $50 mil for clamping wire, and other misc. Then add in for the cement for each hole (didn't calculate that)

Just the chain link alone will be over $500 mil.

It won't be cheap but I'd rather send tax money that way instead of the billions we lose on what illegals cost us.

Posted by: Retired Navy at May 17, 2006 08:20 AM

Here is another way illegals are costing us. I just finished a meeting in which we are deciding for cardiology fellows for two years from now. Many of these are from other countries. One very promising person was brought up yet there was concern as to if his visa would allow entrance into the program. We thought that if he claimed he was Mexican rather than Indian he could likely stay.

Posted by: David Caskey at May 17, 2006 10:03 AM

CY, I like the fencing and wall, but replace the towers with these: (We already have TARS covering some of our southern border). It becomes a matter of coordinating rapid response teams to dispatch the invaders. There is no doubt - we must control our border. Our "ally" Mexico seems more inclined to ignore our sovereignty than aid an "ally" in maintaining that sovereignty.

Posted by: Old Soldier at May 17, 2006 11:11 AM

By contracting all the fence construction to local firms along the border, we'll save some tax dollars. To maximize their profit, these firms will hire the cheapest labor available. Ummmm. Ahhh. I thought I was going somewhere with this thought, but --- ummm -- ahh. I guess not.

Posted by: Skeezix at May 17, 2006 11:41 AM


I'd pay a couple extra dollars in taxes this year if they hired U.S. Citizens to build the wall.

Posted by: Retired Navy at May 17, 2006 12:21 PM

I think this is a certain way of keeping all but the most technologically advanced and determined out. It gives me the heebie jeebies to think about such a thing actually being built, but I'd support it. I don't know quite where I'm going with this comment...I'm sick to my stomach at the thought that this is what it will take, but I'm not in disagreement. Sometimes the right decision SUCKS!

Posted by: Chris at May 17, 2006 12:30 PM

If we use a bunch of those lazy louts on welfare to help build the fence, they will be more than happy to pick lettuce instead.

Posted by: Old_dawg at May 17, 2006 12:55 PM

I say round up illegals, make them build the wall, and then toss them back over when they're finished.

Posted by: BobG at May 17, 2006 05:45 PM

Confederate Yankee, I read your stuff a lot, but I seldom post, and for that I apologize, but you do an absolutely FABULOUS job. I love your work, and more than that, I love your outlook.

As for this particular issue of the border fence or wall, I can tell you as one who lives in Texas, 2 hours from the Border, that rich Mexicans like to put BROKEN GLASS atop their walls, and large and dangerous cactus at the base of the wall on the inside, they like Adobe or brick walls, which means anyone braving the very high wall who finds glass at the top, will BLINDLY drop into cactus below on the other side, and it isn't unusual they find the kind of guard animals on the inside that most folks would rather not come face to face with, especially from the disadvantage of being caught by said animals while in the cactus and bleeding from assorted glass and cactus-inflicted wounds.

So I'm thinking a nice trench with a lot of broken glass, or other debris of similar kind, would also be quite helpful, along with some wild havelina hogs to run insde the fences.

Whatever it takes to make sure the coyotes and their freight get the idea the Red Carpet for ILLEGAL INVASION has been rolled up.

And the judges who declare that making things uncomfortable for ILLEGAL ALIENS is UNCONSTITUTIONAL and are jailing Americans who are defending their property or doing their duly constituted JOB of LAW ENFORCEMENT - they need to be facing charges of their own, FOR TREASON!

I also like the idea of giving the ILLEGAL ALIENS here 30 days to clear out or else - then turn BOUNTY HUNTER LOOSE to root them out, at which point ALL their worldly goods are CONFISCATED to pay the Bounty and to pay for the PROCESSING to boot them from this nation - A LIFETIME BAN for scorning our laws!

Wasn't that usual, for most of our history? The lifetime ban for being caught here ILLEGALLY?

Confiscate all the assets of the Foundations such as Tides, Heinz, Ford, etc which pay $$$Millions to RECONQUISTAS organizations, just like we do "Charities" that fund Middle East Terrorists!
Redirect the funds from those foundations to pay for the walls, and recompense those who own property and businesses on the border that are constantly vandalized by coyotes and ILLEGAL ALIENS and who get brought to court for harrassing ILLEGAL ALIENS by local and federal judges!


Posted by: Rose at May 17, 2006 08:30 PM

Retired Navy, don't get me wrong, I beg you - do the "Human Rights" groups have any armies or militias that are going to come at us, like some Mexican militias are currently doing?

If not, then why should we care what they think about us. THEY don't care what the third world DICTATORS are doing, even when the UN apoints them to the HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONS of the UN!

And if they are not legal in the USA, then tell them to watch out for land mines, too! NO VISAS for THEM!

Posted by: Rose at May 17, 2006 08:35 PM

Sometimes the right decision SUCKS!

Posted by Chris at May 17, 2006 12:30 PM


Often, like parents of spoiled brats, we soon discover that making a tough stand will bring such nice results when the miscreants realize you are serious and mean business, that after a brief time of cracking the whip, one can usually accomplish the majority of the work with the most minimalist approach immaginable. Like being able to get your kids to wash the dishes the first time you say, "Honey, will you please?", instead of after 3 hours of screaming and yelling back and forth, until it is too late because it is so way past bedtime, anyway!

Just a little respect for authority - in this case - the righteous authority of the VOTERS, can go a tremendously long ways towards solving the problems.

Posted by: Rose at May 17, 2006 08:44 PM

Hah! I read the 'landmine' post about 30 minutes ago. I'm a sicko I guess, because I'm still laughing :)

Nothing says 'stay out' like landmines.

Denny Crane should have said that.

Posted by: Kevin at May 18, 2006 07:44 AM

I was thinking the diagram looked familiar and then I realized where I'd seen it before.

Posted by: jeff at May 21, 2006 10:40 PM

Similar Jeff, but pretty different. They had to set up a wall to keep people from escaping. We have to put one up to keep them from invading.

It's a pretty significant difference if you think about it.

Posted by: Kevin at May 23, 2006 07:06 AM

I stumbled across a link to this. I live in SE Arizona - close enough to see Mexico in the distance, and have worked in a border town.

I really believe that we MUST have a wall.

Please anyone who feels as I do, would you please support the 21st Century Paul Revere Ride? Publicity, offers of hospitality, motorcycle riders in the various states, calling in to local talk shows - ANYTHING you can think of would be great.

My husband and I are not wealthy, but we believe that SOMETHING must be done - we believe in that so strongly, that he is going to be part of the ride.

I'm posting alink to the PRR - I hope that that is ok - my apologies if it is not.

Posted by: Melinda at May 25, 2006 03:55 PM