A new video in which filmmaker James O’Keefe crosses from Mexico into the U.S. while costumed as Osama bin Laden dramatizes the need for better surveillance technology at the border but doesn’t illustrate “the biggest threat,” Heritage Foundation analysts say.
Arriving in the wake of much media and official attention to thousands of children from Central America crossing the Texas-Mexico border, “this video shows once again that there is more the U.S. should be doing to secure its southern border,” says David Inserra, Heritage’s research associate in homeland security.
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In the video from his Project Veritas, O’Keefe shows a crossing point “at the center of the border” in east Texas that appears to be unwatched by Border Patrol or other authorities. O’Keefe wades across a narrow stretch of the Rio Grande in casual clothes and hikes 10 miles to Highway 10 unimpeded. Then, at the 5:18 mark, he goes back to the Mexican side, near Guadalupe, puts on a bin Laden mask, and crosses again into Texas.
“I’m here to ask you: Do you feel safe?” O’Keefe intones.
Commenting on the video, Heritage’s Inserra says:
“Although more physical fencing may be helpful, the vastness of the southern border calls for more technology such as cameras, sensors, and drones to assist the Border Patrol. Such a ‘virtual fence’ would allow the Border Patrol to better surveil the border and then more effectively respond to illegal border crossers.”
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However, national security expert James Carafano says Americans who watch the O’Keefe video should keep in mind a more sobering circumstance.
“We don’t need a publicity stunt to tell us our president has completely failed us on this issue,” says Carafano, Heritage’s vice president for defense and foreign policy.
Carafano, also the think tank’s E.W. Richardson Fellow, elaborates:
“The main threat to the border is not one individual walking across. The top threat is the transnational criminal cartels funneling drugs, money, weapons, and people. They are a clear and present danger to Americans every day, not just at the border but, along with transnational gangs, in cities and communities across the country.
“The second-biggest threat is President Obama’s disastrous immigration policies, which — for the sake of politics — are creating a magnet for illegal immigration. It’s virtually a welcome mat for tens of thousands crossing the border illegally, so don’t get all excited about some guy in an OBL costume taking a 10-mile hike.”