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What if the Mexican border wall was made of tech, plus checking in on the prototypes and legal pushback




A Mexican family stands next to the border wall between Mexico and the United States, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on May 23, 2017.
A Mexican family stands next to the border wall between Mexico and the United States, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on May 23, 2017.
Herika Martinez/AFP/Getty Images

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The Department of Homeland Security schedule calls for the construction of border wall prototypes to be completed by July 22, and Congress has already allocated $20 million to the endeavor.

Those prototypes must be 30 feet tall, unclimbable and must prevent digging for at least 6 feet under the wall. But what if tech is a smarter solution than concrete?

That’s the thrust of a recent New York Times article “On the Mexican Border, a Case for Technology Over Concrete,” which lays out an array of technology – from sensors to helicopters to drones – that could create a virtual wall. One aspect of this solution is that it would accommodate for the geographic regions that aren’t suited for a physical wall. Additionally, if there’s a specific area that needs focus, such as a drug trafficking trail, resources can be shifted flexibly to that location.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is facing potential legal pushback in California, with two key pieces of legislation introduced that aim to divest from the wall: SB 30 which would prohibit the state from doing business with a person or company that works on the wall and AB 946, which would make California drop pension investments in border-involved companies.

What’s the case for a figurative wall of technology rather than 30 feet of concrete, and is it a realistic option? What’s the current state of the legal challenges to the border wall? What do we know about the prototypes thus far?

Guest host Libby Denkmann in for Larry Mantle

Guests:

Ron Nixon, homeland security correspondent for the New York Times; his latest article is “On the Mexican Border, a Case for Technology Over Concrete;” he tweets @nixonron

Phillip Molnar, business reporter for the San Diego Tribune; he tweets @PhillipMolnar