Skip to comments.Divided views as US fence goes up
Posted on 01/31/2008 12:39:40 PM PST by mdittmar
Of all the issues in this year's US presidential election, immigration is the one that touches the rawest of Democratic and Republican nerves.
After last year's failure by President George W Bush to get his comprehensive immigration plan past Congress, it has become fertile and divisive ground for candidates in the race.
But there is one area of immigration policy that is proceeding, despite the political stalemate: the building of the border fence between the US and Mexico.
Hundreds of kilometres are under construction along the US's southern frontier.
Estimates for the cost of the project have ranged from $2bn to $10bn (£1bn to £5bn).
Flying by helicopter some 100m (330ft) above the fence, it can sometimes be hard to see.
In the section along Arizona's border with Mexico I went to examine, the barrier appears like a thin black line snaking along the desert floor below.
Once you fix your eyes on the line, it becomes clear this is one area where building is racing ahead.
Roughly a mile of fencing is being erected every month here.
Areas of once-untouched desert are now disappearing under a lengthening slice of man-made fencing.
After setting down, we were able to get up close to the men and machines making the new fence.
Coast to coast, from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, some 300 miles (500km) of barrier are completed, with another 700 miles (1100km) set to go up by the end of this year.
The fence itself is an impressive, sun-blocking, engineering feat.
Agent Jose Gonzalez of the Arizona Border Patrol tells me each 4-metre-high (13ft) panel can withstand a car impact at 45mph (70 km/h).
"It's been tested using the military's armoured vehicles," he says. "We think it will withstand pretty much any migrant car or truck."
In other places, where the terrain is more suited, electronic sensors, not walls, are being installed.
But whatever "asset" is being constructed, to use Agent Gonzalez's term, it all raises the same question of whether it will work.
"It won't stop everyone," is his honest answer.
"But we believe most migrants will be deterred".
Agent Gonzalez later drives us parallel to this gigantic metallic barrier. You can see through its grey bars. Just across the ravine inside Mexico we spot a man.
When he sees the fence and us, he changes his mind about crossing and runs off.
He is not the only one deciding he needs a plan B. In some places where the wall has been completed, and where extra border patrols are in place, illegal crossings are down by as much as 60% compared with a year ago.
The days when Mexicans, Nicaraguans, Salvadorians and others could step over flimsy strips of barbed wire to begin a new life in the US are now numbered.
'Just for the US'
The fence is part of President Bush's attempts to convince Congress he is tough on immigration.
Congress gave him the go ahead for his fence but not his policy on dealing with the estimated 11 million undocumented migrants already in the US.
That unfinished business has turned into a key issue in this year's presidential race.
In some states, it is the social topic of the 2008 campaign.
We later cross into Mexico to find the fence is just as controversial, but for very different reasons. Here, it has been likened to the Berlin wall.
"What do you think of it?" I ask Marco, a Mexican, deported from America and now trying to get back into a country where hourly wages are up to 10 times those in Mexico.
"It's unfair" is his simple reply.
Marco stands dwarfed by the new border fence in front of him, but not, it seems, by the task ahead.
"Some will slip through," he says, "and I hope to be one of them."
We then climb inside one of the orange pick-up trucks used by a migrant help group, Grupo Beta.
The group, set up by the Mexican government, takes us along the fence on the Mexican side. We go past migrants straining to look up at the immense structure before them.
Enrique Enriquez from Grupo Beta tries to be diplomatic when I ask him what he thinks of the wall.
"It's fair for them, it's fair for the United States," he says.
"But maybe it's unjust this side. It's for the protection of the United States. It's just for them."
Opinion polls in the US suggest this belated attempt to physically halt unchecked immigration is popular.
Many millions of figurative horses may have bolted, but this barn door is now being very firmly shut.
Less clear is what to do with those migrants who have already made it through illegally. The outcome of this year's election may help decide that.
For now, the US is a country that is putting in place a border, but not yet a policy.
It was my opinion that you were pointing out the fact that even if multiple teams are working on this project at one mile per year, it would still take 58 years to build.
I think your’s was a humorous way to tell it just like it is.
I agree with you. It’s my take we’re being placated with an effort that really isn’t going anywhere. We’ll see.
Our newest DemocRAT Senator from Ohio, Sherrod Brown, told me “Lets deal with amnesty first, then we can discuss how high the fence should be and how many border patrol folks we need.” I told him he was full of sh**.
Agreed. Hopefully the fence is fully built and turns out to be effective.
59 can’t apply to me because I didn’t insult you.
Thanks. Yes, we can both share that hope. Take care.
try a size one fonts, it is better for the blind people to read !!
I hope the following 14 reasons are read so many times that the readers get sick of reading them. I have included the URL’s for verification of the following facts.
1. $11 Billion to $22 billion is spent on welfare to illegal aliens each year.
2. $2.2 Billion dollars a year is spent on food assistance programs such as food stamps, WIC, and free school lunches for illegal aliens.
3. $2.5 Billion dollars a year is spent on Medicaid for illegal aliens.
4. $12 Billion dollars a year is spent on primary and secondary school education for children here illegally and they cannot speak a word of English!
5. $17 Billion dollars a year is spent for education for the American-born children of illegal aliens, known as anchor babies.
6. $3 Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate illegal aliens.
7. 30% percent of all Federal Prison inmates are illegal aliens.
8. $90 Billion Dollars a year is spent on illegal aliens for Welfare & social services by the American taxpayers.
9. $200 Billion Dollars a year in suppressed American wages are caused by the illegal aliens.
10. The illegal aliens in the United States have a crime rate that’s two and a half times that of white non-illegal aliens. In particular, their children, are going to make a huge additional crime problem in the US
11. During the year of 2005 there were 4 to 10 MILLION illegal aliens that crossed our Southern Border also, as many as 19,500 illegal aliens from Terrorist Countries. Millions of pounds of drugs, cocaine, meth, heroine and marijuana, crossed into the U. S from the Southern border.
Homeland Security Report
12. The National Policy Institute, ‘estimated that the total cost of mass deportation would be between $206 and $230 billion or an average cost of between $41 and $46 billion annually over a five year period.’
13. In 2006 illegal aliens sent home $45 BILLION in remittances back to their countries of origin.
14. ‘The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration: Nearly One Million Sex Crimes Committed by Illegal Immigrants In The United States’.
The total cost is a whooping $ 338.3 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR !
Nice post. The fence is a bargain compared to continuing to serve as Mexico’s dept. of health, education & welfare, and employment office.
But a fence is a sort of challenge to a neighbor. What would you do if you put up a `privacy fence’, or just a 4’ chain link fence, and your neighbor just ignored it and climbed over it or damaged it by cutting holes in it or cutting it down, or destroyed it in his determination to gain access to your yard or home?
You would call the police. So who do we call when this fence is half-completed and a good part of Mexico is still emptying into our country through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas?
McCain? Obama or Clinton?
A mile of fence “here”. To make it fit with the “end of this year” phrase implies to me that there is more than just this work crew “here” working on the fence. I suppose about 60 different work crews/sections (700/12 miles/year). I hope so anyway!
And continued increased ICE enforcement that we have already seen under Bush at businesses and farm fields should get lots of illegals to leave just based on the fear of getting caught. Unless McCain or the Dems call it all off.
This problem that has been ongoing for 30 years will not get solved overnight - but with a completed fence and enforcement of existing laws I think it will be on its way. And yes there will be increased produce costs, etc. until the market can get that figured out.
True, but how many teams are we talking? Are we now looking at ‘only’ 10, 20, 30 years? All of these certainly would count as “too long” in my book (since, again, we are only talking about 700 miles of a border that is many times that size.)
Heh, I’m so used to these contradictions from liberals that I missed that one. Good job pointing it out.
Was the immigrtion bill defeated by the Republican Party! YES!
Divided 67% for and 33% against?
—— Roughly a mile of fencing is being erected every month here. ——
Yeah, that just jumps out at you, doesn’t it?
Well, it’s better than nothing being done. How about we hire two crews and make it a mile/month in each direction? That should be doable.
To show I’n not an inflexible idealogue, I’ll agree to allowing Illegal Immigrant labor being used, with the requirement they are on the south side of the fence when it’s finished.
The Great Wall took less time to erect than this fence.
Did the writer say that there was one mile of fence a month going up. Yes that is what he said. Now give us a link to the other contractors and how many miles they are putting up a month. The fact is there has been so many untruths told about the fence construction, I would need to see pictures before I would believe anything.
So where is the link and pictures of where the fence is under construction and how many miles have been built since the fence bill was signed by jorge. But my post was a joke, like the fence construction so far has been a joke. Sorry you did not get it.
>So who do we call when this fence is half-completed and a good part of Mexico is still emptying into our country through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas?
McCain? Obama or Clinton?<
None of the above. Mitt or Paul. Myself, I’d call Paul.