Mexican Border Fence Comes Up Short
Mission, Texas, June 19, 2011 -- The Mexican border fence approved by President Bush in October, 2006 is now complete, but accolades for the project are few and far between.
The Secure Fence Act, which was touted by Republicans as a major border security initiative in the weeks leading up to the 2006 mid-term elections, is now viewed by many as a fiasco of the first order.
"Look at the damn thing," W. Ralph Basham, Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said. "It's only two and a half feet high. Who's that going to stop? Illegal chickens?"
The Secure Fence Act signed by President Bush on October 26, 2006, allowed for the commissioning of a 700-mile security fence along the border with Mexico. The fence, which runs through parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California and protects about a third of the US-Mexico border, was intended to include various high-tech features such as guard posts and lighting.
"But, as was typical for that administration, the Secure Fence Act was signed with a lot of photo opportunities and media brouhaha, but no accompanying funding," Mr. Basham said. "Remember 'No Child Left Behind'? Same thing. It's a little frustrating."
Due to the limited resources available to fund the fence and the reluctance of Congress to roll back tax cuts for the wealthy or to divert any funds from the ongoing war in Iraq, the builders of the fence were forced to "scale back their ambitions pretty majorly", according to Kip Wilson, leader of the four-man crew assigned to build the fence.
"We did some cost estimates, looked at the funding we had available to us, and realized we'd have to improvise and cut back quite a lot to get the job done," Mr. Wilson said. "The completed fence is a little less ambitious than depicted during the election cycle"
The Mexican border fence as completed is a roughly 30-inch high barrier built primarily of wooden stakes and chicken wire. Chicken wire could not be provided for the entire length of the fence due to budget constraints. Those portions, therefore, consist only of wooden fence posts driven into the ground roughly every twelve feet with small hand-written signs in-between bearing the words "security fence".
"That's the virtual part of the border fence," Mr. Wilson said.
Due to complaints from Texas farmers and businessmen, who successfully sued to overturn the government's eminent domain claims in order to retain access and water rights to the Rio Grande river, most Texas portions of the fence are located in the Rio Grande several feet below water level.
"Unfortunately, since we had to put 300 miles of the fence under water, some of the wooden stakes are already rotting. We couldn't afford pressure-treated," Mr. Wilson said.
Nonetheless, the Secure Fence Act has been touted as a great success by some of those most instrumental in its passing.
"What we wanted to do was to show the American people that we are the party that cares about border security, not the Democrats," Senator Bill Frist, a key proponent of the Secure Fence Act, said. "We got the Secure Fence Act passed before the mid-terms, and that's all I care about. Plus we successfully alienated Mexico. Who cares if it's only a couple feet high? That will keep out illegal Mexican toddlers, won't it?"
"Besides," Senator Frist continued, "even if it were 50 feet high, illegals could always take a bus to one or the other ends of it and cross there anyway. And terrorists almost never enter the country from that direction, as far as I know."
By Ion Zwitter, Avant News Editor
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