Last month, the Department of Homeland Security told communities along the U.S.-Mexico border they’re going to get 370 miles of fence by the end of 2008, and more to come later. That’s a bad idea. And it may get worse. Congress is considering a “trigger” measure, to build fences first or no new work visas.
Border communities finally have awakened from their slumber, and we should, too. Farmers and ranchers oppose a border fence because it would prevent them from watering their cattle and irrigating their crops. Businesses oppose it because cross-border tourism and shopping is a huge part of their local economy.
In Texas, the state with the longest border with Mexico, a coalition of elected officials wants Congress to change the law. They’re considering a federal lawsuit if Congress doesn’t act. Good for them. Border state governors also have spoken out, saying that resources would be better spent on hiring more Border Patrol agents and investing in high-tech border enforcement equipment.
The cost of a fence is $3 million a mile – and people can go around it, under it and over it. Gov. Schwarzenegger has called it “going back to the Stone Ages.” A fence is a shameful symbol of exclusion and a terrible way to invest border security resources. Congress should drop this 700-mile boondoggle.