We have the technology to improve border security, and it would be much cheaper than a physical wall. Plus, it could be operational within a year.

We have driverless vehicles, we can use facial recognition software as payment for goods, and outer space is the next hot commercial travel destination. Yet we continue to debate the efficacy of a third century solution to secure our nation’s southern border.

The American people are frustrated and have every right to be. The federal government should have secured our borders by now. The tools to do so are available and have existed for some time in the private sector.

I used many of them when I worked for a private intelligence firm after nearly a decade of service in the CIA. I am continuously amazed by innovations in security and surveillance technology as a member of the House committees on both Homeland Security and Intelligence. We have access to existing sensor technology that can determine the difference between a jack rabbit and a human moving across the desert. We have drones that can track individuals anywhere on the planet. But when it comes to the border, we’ve allowed an outdated, physical barrier to dominate the national dialogue and stifle innovation.

The wall will be neither big nor beautiful: Ruben Navarrette

A one-size-fits-all approach will not solve our complex border problems. While a physical barrier can be effective in urban areas, each sector of the border faces unique geographical, cultural and technological challenges that would be best addressed with a flexible, sector-by-sector approach that empowers the Border Patrol agents on the ground with the resources they need.

Of the 650 miles of existing border fencing, hundreds of miles are in need of repair because criminal organizations have cut through, dug under or plowed over it repeatedly. The drug cartels are using more modern technology than we are to breach our border, so why would we double down on an outdated tool?

What we need is a “Smart Wall” to solve our 21st century border problems. A Smart Wall would use sensor, radar and surveillance technologies to detect and track incursions across our border so we can deploy efficiently our most important resource, the men and women of Border Patrol, to perform the most difficult task —…