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Rep. Will Hurd calls for 'smart wall' at House subcommittee hearing

Border Patrol, Alpine, Texas (Photo by Frank Heinz, CC-BY-2.0)

The House Homeland Security Committee held a subcommittee hearing on border security in Washington on Tuesday. The subcommittee on border and maritime security heard from experts testifying on how technology is used to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

At the hearing, U.S. Representative Republican Will Hurd of Texas’ 23rd District said what the U.S. border needs is what he calls a “smart wall”.

Hurd said instead of building a wall across the entire border, investing in border security technology would be money better spent.

“That’s why I get frustrated with all this talk about a wall because 24.5 million dollars a mile, that’s a lot of money," said Hurd.

"You can deploy a lot of off-the-shelf technology that I described for half a million dollars.”

Experts at the hearing discussed a range of effective border security technology, including non-intrusive equipment or NII equipment, like X-rays or gamma rays.

“In 2016, large scale NII systems were used to conduct 6.5 million examinations resulting in more than 2,600 seizures and over 359,000 pounds of ceased narcotics,” said CBP Office of Field Operations Executive Assistant Commissioner Todd Owen.

In his testimony, Owen said this non-intrusive equipment helps border control detect contraband coming through cargo and vehicles entering the country.

The subcommittee hearing comes at a time when border security is being called into question. Earlier in the week a truck of undocumented immigrants was discovered in San Antonio. Ten of the immigrants died.

Democratic Congressman Luis Correa said this case is an example of how people are not necessarily crossing the border through terrain, which he said is what a wall would prevent.

“President Trump ran for office with a promise to build a wall to stop undocumented immigrants and to curb drug smuggling, while experts before this committee have told us that a border wall will not accomplish either of these goals.”

Earlier this month the House appropriations committee approved $1.6 billion dollars for a wall along the southwest border.


Reporting by Elizabeth Trovall. Photo by Frank Heinz, CC-BY-2.0.