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Homeland Security Defends $2.1 Billion Border Fence

Homeland Security is defending its plans to build a 670-mile, $2.1 billion fence along the Texas-Mexico border, while admitting that the barrier is not effective in stopping illegal immigration by itself.

Today's New York Times quotes Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff:

I don’t believe the fence is a cure-all. Nor do I believe it is a waste. Yes, you can get over it; yes, you can get under it. But it is a useful tool that makes it more difficult for people to cross. It is one of a number of tools we have, and you’ve got to use all of the tools.

The latest fence defense comes after the Texas Border Coalition filed a lawsuit to stop construction. To see why this group — which includes mayors, judges, commissioners, and economists — opposes the fence,


The Coalition argues that the federal government did not properly consult local authorities and failed to negotiate a reasonable price with property owners prior to taking the land.

Over the last few years, illegal border crossing rates have been dropping sharply. But, physical barriers have been effective only when used with electronic surveillance and aggressive prosecution.

Should the government be spending $2.1 billion on a fence that doesn't help on its own? Would that money be better used to address the economic and social factors contributing to illegal immigration? Or is this one tool necessary for responsible immigration policy? And, regardless of effectiveness, how should the local community's rights be protected?


Join The Conversation
urple urple 9 years
CaterpillarGirl- Wow... that comment was really unnecessary and offensive! I know you're joking (I hope), but these people are humans and no lower than we are. Maybe if you talked to these people and knew of their struggles you wouldn't make such comments.
Geisha-Runner Geisha-Runner 9 years
Hey, if the government wants to waste money ... I could always use it! Lol. I'm all for people bettering themselves and their lives ... as long as it is done legally. I love how our government is trying to fight a 2 front war. Talk about multitasking! I personally feel that because of our involvment over in Iraq, we aren't able to protect our borders as well as we should. But what do I know. I'm just a taxpayer.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Raci - If you have a problem with the imigration laws, lobby your congressperson to get them changed. I view most of the illegal immigrants as greedy. Yes, we pay more here, so why not come across and try to make a lot more money faster than you could in your own nation. I've made 9 mission trips to Venezuela and Guatemala, and have never met anyone there who was so impoverished that they didn't have something to eat daily. I'm not saying it's caviar picnics, and that they don't need our assistance, but to say they have nothing to eat is inaccurate
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
2 billion is a drop in the bucket compared to the money we're spending on the war. It's nothin'. So not really even worth looking at it from a financial standpoint, imo.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
UnDave, you have children. If you lived in impoverished conditions wouldn't you do anything to help them to a better life?
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Building the fence is a good start. Next we need to enforce the immigration laws currently on the books (I'm speaking to you San Francisco, and you other "sanctuary Cities"). I agree that the immigration laws need to be changed. I also think that the consequences for illegal immigration should be more drastic, not just deportation home. They should be sent to the southernmost point of South America. Let them walk back to their home from there...
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
cant they just get some big hoses and just spray them away? or give them a free tv for NOT crossing?
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
this is idiotic. an idea put into a place by a man who has probably visited the Texas border once or twice and in a few spots. this fence isn't going to stop anything, and will destroy the beauty of the border and I'm sure disrupt all kinds of animal habitats. I just think of the last time I visited Big Bend and saw the river and the beautiful cliffs and canyons. Now are we going to see a big metal fence in that picture?
flutterpie flutterpie 9 years
dumb, dumb, dumb and as much as i hate micheal chertoff. i blame lou dobbs and americans more. lou dobbs did this whole thing on how the project was delayed for environmental issues and it pissed tons of people off. instead of researching the matter, they wrote their congress people in droves and voila, we are building a big giant fence that does not keep anyone out and kills endangered panthers.
Silverlining10 Silverlining10 9 years
NO! WHAT? We're already spending lots on a very expensive war...Let's take one huge expense at a time. We can't start expensive projects without finishing one first!
janneth janneth 9 years
what an awful mess. we know this doesn't work well, and let's spend 2 billion dollars.
drinkerofh2o drinkerofh2o 9 years
ZeZe made a great point! The Mexican government is just not doing enough to protect the rights and freedoms of its citizens. Drug cartels are at war with the government and the police force: Yesterday, 34 people were killed in drug killings, and 1,300 have been killed so far this year.
stephley stephley 9 years
Ooh Jillness, that's funny - we're not good enough!
serial serial 9 years
When can we expect a fence on the US-Canada border?
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I read an article today that was saying illegal immigration might be headed for a slow down. It is due to several factors: employer crackdowns, lack of construction work, tougher laws in some states, but mostly the decrease of value of the American dollar and the bad economy. They are experiencing strengthening economies in South American countries like Brazil, and so they are looking elsewhere for work.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Get ready for the next generation of the under ground rail road. These people will make like a gofer with out a second thought so the fence will at some point will be rendered pointless.
zeze zeze 9 years
I don't understand why the US has not thought of attacking the foundation of this problem - the Mexican government that has made people risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones in order to leave. It seems to me we have an easy time regulating the "freedoms" of other nations, why don't we bother with this?
mondaymoos mondaymoos 9 years
I know the border patrol is hiring here, hypnoticmix. There's just not a lot of people who look forward to standing out in the sun/cold asking every person who drives along the Mexico/US border "Are you an American citizen?" It's effin hot in this area!
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Well we've gone through decades of begging them to hire more boarder patrol agents which they can't afford to hire so I suppose baring a brave decision on immigration legislation the fence is the only option we have. Pretty sad if you ask me.
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
while they're at it, id like to ask the federal government to pitch in to rebuild the fence around my trailer. we had a doozy of a wind storm last year and it's been knocked down ever since!
mondaymoos mondaymoos 9 years
What a waste of money. -_- We have a fence over here in Arizona... and they're still doing a damn good job of crossing the border.
Imani33 Imani33 9 years
Who's going to build the fence??? Mexicans? And if so legal or illegal?
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
Now is this fence to keep people out of Texas or to keep them in. I'm confused.
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