Most deals are lost in Congress by politicians who didn’t recognize when they had won. They let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
President Trump set up a classic political deal to be made between proponents of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and proponents of building the wall when he had dinner with Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Neither side is going to get all they want all by themselves. But both sides stand to gain more than 80 percent of what they want if they cooperate on a bipartisan bill that deals with both issues at the same time.
If they recognize they “won,” that is.
On one side, you have proponents of DACA who feel strongly that 1.9 million people who came to America at the average age of six with their parents who came here illegally should be allowed to stay in America and not be deported.
On the other, you have proponents of much stronger border security who feel strongly that we must have an impenetrable border with Mexico as a precondition for any discussion about immigration reform.
Today, we don’t have a solution to either. There’s a deal to be made somewhere between the two sides if both sides realize they will not get 100 percent of what they want.
There are a few misconceptions about the border wall that no doubt arose from the truncated nature of political campaigning. “Build The Wall” is a 3-word metaphor for “maximize American border security” which doesn’t resonate in a speech with 30,000 supporters in attendance.
What will the border wall mean in 21st century America?
The wall will not be a continuous 1989-mile brick-and-mortar, concrete-and-cinder block physical barrier between the US and Mexico like the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall or even Hadrian’s Wall between England and Scotland that the Romans built in 122 A.D. to keep the hot-tempered Scots out of England for hundreds of years.
The American wall will be a system of integrated technologies that closely resembles existing military capabilities such as unmanned aerial vehicles or drones (UAVs), cluster satellites, radar and infrared imaging now deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere.
These security technologies provide the real-time information needed to direct ground intercept units to interdict hostile enemy forces on the battlefield. In homeland security terms, these technologies will be used to interdict people trying to illegally enter the United States without a visa or passport and return them to their home of origin.
As in military theaters, the essential feature of these technologies is their stealth characteristic which is something that physical barrier walls cannot offer. People trying to enter the United States illegally cannot easily observe the location or configuration of these stealth security technologies and will find them quite difficult to defeat.
The border wall will include more than the physical security technologies needed for immediate homeland security operations. The stealth wall would have the capability to coordinate with real-time banking information; rail, port, truck and warehouse logistics and dispatching; and government intelligence agencies.
Working with the Mexican government would allow access to banking, immigration/travel and logistics security information across the border. Technological mechanisms could be added to stop the southward flow of laundered money and high-tech weaponry along with a promise of enhanced security for maquiladoras (foreign-owned manufacturing plants in Mexico) in support of Mexican economic development.
Building the wall will be expensive. Estimates range as high as $20 billion. Yet, we are going to spend $150 billion to clean up after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Finding a common solution for the DACA population is the price proponents of the wall will have to pay to declare victory on their side and vice versa.
Otherwise nothing will get done on any immigration issue. No DACA. No Wall.