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firewalls-and-immigration

I've been a bit surprised by the lack of discussion amongst security bloggers about the immigration bills being batted about in Congress. I don't want to start any flame wars about the definition of 'amnesty' or anything, I just think that the community could help keep the country from spending an insane amount of (borrowed) money on a "security" fence along the Mexican border.

I think the best InfoSec analogy is the Chinese government's attempts to put a firewall around China's Internet. Already, people know that they can use Anonymizer to get around the fence. Next, it will be Tor and so on and so on.

This is not say that a wall won't have an affect, it's just that it probably won't have the desired affect. From an SFGate article:

Illegal border crossings and drug smuggling have dropped in urban areas over the past dozen years, a sign that fortifying walls there and reinforcing them with cameras, buried motion detectors and a doubling of Border Patrol personnel may have worked.

Typical migration routes have shifted to more remote and treacherous regions, however, and border-crossing deaths have increased eight-fold over the past decade to 473 last year. Migrants increasingly hire smugglers, at $1,500 a pop, to help them make the three-day hike through parched and rocky terrain.

The other key piece of intelligence the IT community can provide is the rule of thumb that you can expect to pay 5 times the original cost of any piece of hardware in support and maintenance. And that is in a friendly environment. The fence, which as currently planned would cover 700 miles of the 1,900 mile border, is projected to cost $2.2 billion (though some suggest that is 1/2 the correct estimate). Does anyone think that the fence will be built within budget? What are the estimates for maintenance? It will have flood lights, motion detectors, surveillance cameras, and of course, maintenance roads, power lines, electrical bills, etc. What will that cost?

Immigration is certainly a touchy subject in the United States, I think we should attempt to bring some rational thought into the debate.

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