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Fighting Illegal Immigration: Why Building a Wall Along the US-Mexico Border Won't Matter

“Methods for crossing the US border are most often shaped by the very defenses erected to stop crossing in the first place.”

~ Kimball Taylor.

This sums up the dilemma facing US Customs and Border Patrol’s (CBP) efforts to stop illegal immigration. For more than 20 years the US has enacted legislation allowing it to build fences, patrol the area, and set up various surveillance equipment. And, for more than 20 years migrants continue to enter the US. No matter what techniques CBP implements, migrants will always develop creative ways to avoid them.
As the years progress, methods of illegal entry become more and more creative. Kimball Taylor, author of The Coyote’s Bicycle and the article “The One Thing Walls Can’t Stop, has witnessed and researched these various methods. Recently, he witnessed a man emerge for the ocean onto a beach with the help of a self-propelled submersible. This method is becoming increasingly popular as a way to avoid the US’s sea wall, part of the border wall which reaches maybe 20 feet into the ocean.

Low and High Tech Clash in the Battle Against Illegal Immigration

In order to avoid buried seismic sensors, a newly employed motion detecting technique, migrants began riding bicycles since the sensors can’t detect smooth, fluid motion. Not only must someone have an understanding of the technology CBP implements, but he also must be able to figure out how to outsmart it.
Another technique migrants use is very simple: covering their tracks when they cross on foot. Instead of leaving footprints behind, migrants have begun strapping foam, carpet scraps, and other soft materials to their shoes to not leave tracks. Taylor spoke to a CBP agent who heard a rumbling in the distance, which he thought was a dirt bike, but then revealed itself to be a man with a leaf blower blowing evidence of their tracks from the dirt.
Other methods Taylor identified include cutting the border fence using a welder, using surfboards, personal submarines, culverts, sewer pipes, wooden ladders, canyon trails, jet skis, horses, and as mentioned above, bicycles. In addition to equipment and materials, migrants also rely on the bad weather to interfere with CBP surveillance equipment. Thick ocean fog not only interferes with a camera’s view, but causes water vapor to affects infrared sensors, laser sensors, and flood lights by creating atmospheric noise.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

No matter what technologies CBP employs, human ingenuity and creativity can and does find a way to outwit them all. One thing all Americans need to understand and to accept is that desperation cannot be fixed with walls, sensors, or drones. The underlying, recurring message is unless their home countries’ social problems are addressed, illegal immigration will continue despite implementation of new deterrence technology.

Christine Swenson