Texas Rep. Says Government Needs a ‘Smart’ Border Wall

A State Representative wants a “smart wall” that would integrate technology assets through an interoperable network across agency operations.

Texas Rep. Says Government Needs a ‘Smart’ Border Wall

Fence separating United States and Mexico

WASHINGTON D.C. — During a House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on technology and border security yesterday, Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas said he wants to see money spent more efficiently when it comes to improving the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) technology.

“That’s why I get frustrated with all of this talk about a wall, because $24.5 million a mile, that’s a lot of money,” said Hurd. “You can deploy a lot of off-the shelf technology to do [interdiction with integrated technology] for half-a-million dollars a mile. And if we add this out to the additional 1,350 miles of the border that doesn’t have doesn’t have fencing, that’s $33 billion. I can use $32 billion of that for other things, like give y’all’s folks more pay for the hard work that they do.”

Just last week, President Trump requested $1.6 billion in fiscal 2018 for border wall construction — which the House included in its own budget proposal last week — that includes both primary and secondary fencing, and levee walls over a combined 74 miles of the border, in addition to planning and development, according to FedScoop.

Hurd said he wants to see the money spent on a “smart wall” that would integrate technology assets through an interoperable network across agency operations.

Acting CBP Deputy Chief Scott Luck said it was integral to have a combination of technologies as part of an integrated environment.

“My tech scenario would be having the right mixture, based on the threat, having the right mixture of technology — and we can’t do it alone, no piece of technology has ever made an apprehension — that informs and talks to all the other component pieces that we have within CBP,” Luck explained. “We have systems out there that are stand-alone systems that we need…to have speak to one another.”

Rebecca Gambler, the Government Accountability Office’s director of homeland security and justice, said, “Although CBP has made progress in technology deployment, we have also reported that CBP could do more to strengthen its management of technology programs and better assess the contributions of surveillance technologies to border security efforts.”

The Department of Homeland Security previously stated in March that border wall proposals that relied solely on high-tech surveillance technology alone would not be considered for approval.

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