As debate continues in Congress over funding a wall between the United States and Canada, U.S. Representative Will Hurd and a handful of allies introduced a new proposal on July 7th. This proposal involves the building of a “smart wall” using virtual reality research in Silicon Valley.
Hurd, along with Helotes, Cuellar, Laredo, and other House members are pushing what is called the Secure Miles with All Resources and Technology Act. They say that a smart wall built under this act would cost about $500,000 a mile, with physical barriers estimated to cost $25 million a mile.
“I think most Americans believe we’re using some of the latest technologies along the border. We’re not,” he said.
The legislation asks for a high-tech security solution with radar, light detection and ranging, sensors, and fiber optics. Also included would be cameras and drones.
Recently in a House session a bill was passed that includes 74 miles of construction on a border wall for a cost of $1.6 billion. However, with Democrat opposition in the Senate, wall funding may require a less costly compromise such as Hurd’s option.
Hurd, a GOP opponent to a physical, contiguous wall, believes his legislation would be a solution to an impasse in Congress that does not seem to be dying down.
“It’s also the smart thing to do. You can’t have a one-size-fits-all solution to border security. Every mile is different,” said Hurd, whose district spans over 800 miles of U.S.-Mexico border — more than any other member of the House.
Hurd has been in contact with Palmer Luckey, who founded Oculus VR, which was sold to Facebook for $2 billion in 2014. Luckey went to the border with Hurd in June.
Hurd spoke about Luckey’s assistance in “understanding sensor technology and putting all the data sensors gathered in a format that helps border patrol agencies.”
The proposed legislation asks for the Homeland Security Department to decide “which type of physical barrier, technology, tool or other device” can be used for “to achieve situational awareness and operational control” in a Southwest border strategy.
Also authorized would be $100 million annually for five years to Homeland Security’s Operation Stonegarden, which provides grants to law enforcement agencies.
Co-sponsor Cuellar called the legislation “a pragmatic approach … rather than building walls to meet campaign promises. A giant wall is nothing more than a 14th century solution to a 21st century problem.”
Of course, Hurd’s legislation or other legislation has a long way to go before being accepted by many. One opponent to wall funding is Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who believes that the wall is only about “trying to shut off the rest of the world.”
“Most all of those who are coming to America, risking their lives, suffocating in the back of a truck, going over a perilous desert — they’re not here to cause us harm,” Doggett said. “They’re not here to do wrong and mooch off our social services. They’re here to escape violence or provide a little hope to their family.”