Thursday, December 17, 2009

Billions for a US-Mexico border fence, but is it doing any good?

The cost for adding 600 miles of new barriers is $2.4 billion so far. The new fencing has been breached more than 3,000 times, a government report finds.

By Daniel B. Wood Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / September 19, 2009

Los Angeles

Some $2.4 billion has been spent since 2005 on a still-unfinished project to erect more than 600 miles of new fence along the US-Mexico border – a finding that is being met with surprise, anger, and consternation by immigrant groups and at least some border residents.

A report, released Thursday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), also says $6.5 billion will be needed to maintain the new fencing over the next 20 years. So far, it has been breached 3,363 times, requiring $1,300 for the average repair.

The US Border Patrol, for its part, agrees with some findings but says several conclusions are unknowable because building the wall has no precedent. And the agency defends the new fencing as effective at deterring illegal immigration.

The report has stirred a range of reactions.

"When our nation is in the midst of an economic crisis, we wonder how many teacher salaries, police officers, miles of road, or school books could be financed instead of throwing large amounts of money for bricks to fix a problem that requires serious, long-term solutions," says Angelica Salas of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, in a statement.

Dawn Garner, who lives on a ranch on the US-Mexico border in Naco, Ariz., says spending is so high because workers who are building the fence use local hotels for accommodations and food.

"They should live in tents near the wall and cook their own food, and that would save incredible amounts of money," says Ms. Garner, who reports that 40 illegal immigrants a day cross her small ranch. Money could be saved if the National Guard built the fence and if the Border Patrol itself maintained it, she suggests in a phone interview.

Despite the price tag of maintaining the border fence, authorities have not found a way to determine whether it is helping to halt illegal immigration, the GAO report says.

"While they [the GAO findings] have highlighted some risks and their factual statements are correct, we are not as pessimistic as they are," says Mark Borkowski, executive director of the Secure Border Initiative, part of US Customs and Border Protection. Trying to analyze a new endeavor like this fence is like trying to calculate the costs and benefits of planes in combat while they're still on the drawing board, he says.

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1 comment:

  1. Border fencing? Better to "foil" the fence than grab the epee. I'm responding with nonsense so that those advocating this Fence Foolishness can understand my comments. For those who happen to be in the fencing industry , it is a great thing. As a carpenter I of course heartily endorse ANY "make work" program. Yet, for those who happen to be in the common sense industry it is another example of ill-conceived, misguided,misdirected nonsense. The problem is , indeed, "THE BORDER", but once again (and I apologize) we've brought a "knife" to a gun fight. It's time to erase the border, forget this "my dogs bettern' your dog" bullshit, and continue to evolve. Mankind , every and all things are ONE! If ya' need a little patriotic-religion to help ease into it, start thinking of the WHOLE WORLD as "One Nation Under GOD!!" Or not....and continue with the same old " I ME MINE "shit for the next few centuries.......