August 24, 2007
Fixing the fence

This article about one of the border fences we already have was sent to me last night, and I think it pretty much speaks for itself.

Every day, Eddie Lujan and fellow members of his Border Patrol welding team go out and fix holes cut in a 12-mile border fence the night before by illegal immigrants sneaking across from Mexico.

Then he and the others get up the next day and do it all over again.

"It's disheartening," said Lujan, a Border Patrol agent. "It's frustrating."

Given the never-ending task faced by Lujan and other like him, some wonder how the U.S. government will ever manage to maintain the fence it wants to build along a large portion of the 2,100-mile border.

"There isn't going to be anything that is cut-proof," said El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Victor M. Manjarrez Jr.

Congress has authorized $1.2 billion for about 700 miles of fencing, including about 330 miles of a so-called virtual fence - a network of cameras, high-tech sensors, radar and other technology. The remaining 370 miles, primarily in more urban areas, are expected to have an actual, two-layer fence.

Salvador Zamora, assistant Border Patrol agent in charge of the El Paso station, said no amount of vigilance - including constantly wandering patrol agents, pole-mounted cameras trained on the border and underground sensors - is going to prevent someone from taking a pair of bolt cutters to the fence.

"If it's made by man, it's going to be tampered and overcome by man," he said.

In fact, Manjarrez said the proposed border fence would not reduce the number of agents needed - it would increase it. Agents will have to watch for the people who almost certainly will try to climb or squeeze over, under, through or around it, and someone will have to repair the damage, he said.

"A fence in itself, we can't walk away and just say, 'Well, that's it,'" Manjarrez said.

So it's ineffective, labor-intensive, and a money sink. What more could you want?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 24, 2007 to National news