US to take inspiration from Israel’s Egypt border for Mexico wall

US Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen inspected the fence between the countries on Tuesday

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks during the International Homeland Security Forum conference in Jerusalem, June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

US Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen inspected Israel’s fenced border with Egypt on Tuesday for ideas for the US border with Mexico, where president Donald Trump has pledged to build a wall, Israel Radio reported.

Mr Trump has said the United States needs a wall along its 3,200 kilometre southern border to prevent illegal immigrants entering from Mexico and that country should pay for the project. Mexico has rejected the idea, and the funding dispute has fuelled US domestic dissent.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu angered Mexico last year by publicly backing Mr Trump’s call and pointing to the towering, sensor-rigged Egyptian border fence as a possible model. The US president, in turn, has spoken of his admiration for Israel’s barrier.

A US official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, confirmed Ms Nielsen’s visit to the Israel-Egypt border.

“She understood the challenges and opportunities that exist there,” the official said, without elaborating.

The US Department of Homeland Security declined to comment. In a June 8 statement, it had said that while travelling in Israel this week she would “receive an operational briefing on Israeli border infrastructure technology and systems”.

The razor wire-lined Israeli fence, which is between five and eight metres in height, was erected more than three years along the 230km frontier with Egypt’s Sinai desert. It cost Israel about $380 million.

Israel credits the fence with stemming an influx of African migrants and infiltration by ISIS-linked militants.

In March, Mr Trump signed a federal spending bill from Congress that included $1.6 billion to pay for six months of work on his wall. He had asked for $25bn for the project.