The Corner

More From Julie Meyers

I referenced a Hugh Hewitt interview yesterday in these parts. Today I received this e-mail from the Department of Homeland Security:

Ms. Lopez – saw your link to the Hugh Hewitt interview with Assistant Secretary Julie Myers.  Wanted to provide some clarification regarding Ms. Myers comments.  Unfortunately, I think Mr. Hewitt may have taken Ms. Myers’ comments as straying from the White House position.  I’ve attached below, additional comments from her interview, and I think you can clearly see that they are consistent with the White House position on the issue of fences. 

The administration has indicated that fencing is effective in many places, but also where it is not practical, it has said that a multi-layered approach that includes surveillance, personnel and other technology may be more effective.

This is consistent with Ms. Myers comments from Monday night’s interview.  The following are comments from her interview with Hugh Hewitt that fully reflect her position, and that of the White House, on this critical issue:

HH: Is he committed, though? Did you have a talk with him about extending, for example, the San Diego fence, which is 1,400 miles long, and the El Paso fence, which is many miles long, double, and sometimes triple barrier fencing? Is that on the table?

JM: I think certainly all options are on the table to be most effective in terms of fencing. I am actually more the interior enforcement person, so I have not been involved in any direct discussions regarding the specifics of the fence.

HH: So I’m back to the fencing conversation. If fencing is the best way to stop them at the border, why don’t we have a plan laid out for that?

JM: Well, you know, I don’t think we think that fencing is the best way to stop them on the border. I think the President’s called for…if you build a fence, they build a tunnel. We just saw that today. There was another tunnel destroyed, another, excuse me, another tunnel found over in the San Diego area. So you can’t…given the kind of the layout of our land, I believe it’s the President’s view, it’s the border patrol’s view, that a fence alone is not enough. We need a layered approach that includes surveillance, personnel, technology. We are working with the military to make sure we have the best technology. And some places, a fence may be very effective, but some places, it’s simply not.

HH: Assistant Secretary Myers, correct me if I’m wrong. I think you just walked the administration back from the fence.

JM: I…no, I said consistent with what the border patrol chief’s been telling me all along, he’s been telling me what he needs, the combination of all these things. You look at the particular location, the particular terrain, and you decide what’s most effective. You don’t want something people can scale in two minutes and then be in the desert, and then you just have put people on the other side of the fence.

HH: Ms. Myers, I just want to go back over the fence, because I must tell you, I wagered everything on the President being serious about the fence, because the fence works. And whenever I’ve heard people talk about it, it works. It works in San Diego, it works in Israel, it works in El Paso. But I must say, I’m completely underwhelmed. It doesn’t seem like you really believe in it. (pause) Ms. Myers, are you there?

JM: Certainly, the border patrol believes very strongly that what we need is, in a sense, a virtual fence in some places. We need a combination, a layered strategy that includes in some place infrastructure, other places surveillance, other places personnel.

Finally, below is a similar exchange between Hugh Hewitt and Border Patrol Associate Chief Kevin Stevens:

HH: Great. Thank you for being on. I want to get right to it and marshal your time well. You are now the acting director for the newly created program management office for the Secure Border Initiative inside of Customs & Border Protection. What is the SBI net?

KS: The SBI net, Hugh, is the Customs and Border Protection’s effort to link ourselves, and partner with industry in an effort to identify in this partnership a solution for border security that will involve the proper mix of personnel, infrastructure, technology, and deploy them as rapidly as possible to gain control of the border. My office is responsible for managing that and facilitating that effort.

HH: Now you’ve been with the Border Patrol since 1980. You’ve also sent your daughter into the Border Patrol, and your son’s also in law enforcement, and your other son’s in the Army, so you’re a real law enforcement guy.

KS: That I am.

HH: Do fences work?

KS: Fences work in the appropriate environment. We have…fences are part of a tactical infrastructure system. And like I mentioned earlier, we’re looking at deployment of personnel, infrastructure and technology. That proper mix is what’s critical to us. And the tactical infrastructure is part of that infrastructure piece. Fences are within the tactical infrastructure. Let me give you an example.

Thank you,

Nick Smith

Director, Public Affairs

Immigration and Customs Enforcement

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