The incredible disappearing border fence

Michelle Malkin's picture

Do you know the story of the Incredible Disappearing Border Fence? It’s an object lesson in gesture politics and homeland insecurity. It’s a tale of hollow rhetoric, meaningless legislation and bipartisan betrayal. And in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses, it’s a helpful learning tool as you assess the promises of immigration enforcement converts now running for president.

Last fall, Democrats and Republicans in Washington responded to continued public outrage over border chaos by passing the “Secure Fence Act.” Did you question the timing? You should have.

It’s no coincidence they finally got off their duffs to respond just before the 2006 midterm elections. Lawmakers vowed grandiosely to keep America safe. The law specifically called for “at least 2 layers of reinforced fencing, the installation of additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras and sensors” at five specific stretches of border totaling approximately 700 miles.

GOP leaders patted themselves on the back for their toughness. President Bush made a huge to-do in signing the bill into law. Never mind the lack of funding for the fence and the failure to address many other immediate reforms that could have been adopted immediately to strengthen immigration enforcement, close deportation loopholes and provide systemic relief at the border without the need for a single brick or bulldozer.

On the very day the bill was signed, open-borders politicians were already moving to water it down. Texas Republican Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn pushed for “flexibility to choose other options instead of fencing, if needed.” Six months after passage of the Secure Fence Act — now interpreted by Washington as the Flexible Non-Fence Act or, as I call it, the FINO (Fence in Name Only) Act — 700 miles shrunk to “somewhere in the ballpark” of 370 miles.

A 14-mile fence-building project in San Diego was stalled for years by environmental legal challenges and budget shortfalls. The first deadline — a May 30, 2007 requirement for installation of an “interlocking surveillance camera system” along the border in California and Arizona — passed unmet. GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter, one of the few Republican presidential candidates to walk the talk on border security, blasted the Bush administration for suffering from “a case of ‘the slows’ on border enforcement.”

More than a year after the law’s passage, the citizen watchdog group Grassfire reports that just five miles of double-layer fencing has been built in the first 12 months of implementation of the act. Five lousy miles. The Government Accountability Office claims 70 miles were erected — but most of that fencing failed to meet the specifications of the law.

Is Congress up in arms? Will there be accountability? Don’t make me snort. Instead of demanding that the law be enforced, the pols are sabotaging the law. As part of the omnibus spending package passed this week, House Democrats incorporated Senate Republicans’ provisions to remove the two-layer fencing requirements and the specific target list of fencing locations.

GOP Rep. Peter T. King, who sponsored the Secure Fence Act, told the Washington Times: “This is either a blatant oversight or a deliberate attempt to disregard the border security of our country. As it’s currently written, the omnibus language guts the Secure Fence Act almost entirely. Quite simply, it is unacceptable.”

But so totally, totally predictable.

Republican leader John Boehner tried to blame the House Democrat majority: “The fact that this was buried in a bloated, 3,500-page omnibus speaks volumes about the Democrats’ unserious approach on border security and illegal immigration,” he said. “Gutting the Secure Fence Act will make our borders less secure, but it’s consistent with the pattern of behavior we’ve seen all year from this majority.” But it’s border state Republicans who’ve been gunning to undermine the law while the ink was still fresh.

To add insult to injury and homeland insecurity upon homeland insecurity, Congress failed to adopt a ban on federal aid to sanctuary cities that prevent government employees and law enforcement officers from asking about immigration status; voted to stall implementation of stricter ID standards at border crossings; and miraculously found enough money to provide $10 million in “emergency” funding for attorneys of illegal aliens.

Next time you hear a leading presidential candidate try to woo you with his nine-point immigration enforcement plan or his secure ID plan or his Secure Borders platform, point to the Incredible Disappearing Border Fence. Poof! That is what happens to election-season homeland security promises. Why would theirs be any different?

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Submitted by youngfmly on Thu, 03/26/2009 - 5:44pm.

F Young
I know you are adamant about fixing the tremendous problems we are having along our border with Mexico and would welcome a solution.
I am too, and I have a solution, but have become completely frustrated trying to find a sympathetic ear that will listen and respond to an idea I have that will create thousands upon thousands of jobs of all categories, secure our border with Mexico stopping illegal smuggling of drugs and immigrants, potentially saving thousands of lives as well as many more benefits.

Are you that ear? Do you have the courage to support an idea that could become very controversial? I sure hope so, I’m getting tired of trying to get someone’s attention that has the ability to help get this idea to the attention of those who can make a difference and make this solution a reality.

I have sent a letter to President Obama, the governors of states that have borders with Mexico and many, many news agencies and reporters without as much as a peep from any of them pro or con. At this point, I would even welcome an answer calling me a crackpot and my idea is outrageous, but so far, nothing.

Just in case you might be the one, here is a copy of the letter as I sent:

March 21, 2009

An open letter to:

President Obama, all the State Governors and Mayors of cities that share a border with Mexico and all interested in an idea that would:

· Provide thousands upon thousands of jobs for at least the next 10 years and thousands would be needed to manage and operate for decades to come involving all types of workers in the U.S.A and in Mexico.

· Stimulate infrastructure development necessary to support project activities and workers creating thousands upon thousands more jobs of all categories.

· Stop cross border drug smuggling into the U.S.A.

· Stop cross border arms and money smuggling into Mexico.

· Stop cross border illegal immigration.

· Provide, if done right, a method of transporting goods and cargo over a vast expanse of our country that would dramatically reduce fossil fuel consumption which would also substantially reduce cost and atmospheric pollution in comparison to the existing methods.

This idea, which is immense in scope and though not easily implemented, is far from impossible. It is well within our technical and physical abilities.

I suggest, preferably through a concerted effort with Mexico (but if not, without), we build along the U.S.A./Mexico border from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean a “Grand Canal”.

Thank you for your time and in anticipation for your serious consideration.


Frederic L. Young

A project of this magnitude, a canal from the Gulf to the Pacific, might seem impossible. It's not as far fetched as it first seems and in reality it is not, and would have benefits that reach far beyond those that been discussed here. The Egyptians, Mayas and Aztecs built pyramids and the Chinese built the Great Wall with far less technology than we have to day. We can do it! Email me or call at: 949 581 4155 if you wish to reply or have further questions.

Fred Young

Submitted by Nitpickers on Fri, 12/21/2007 - 5:59am.

Every time that I go to the bank, the post office, or the airport, and find myself meandering through ropes and belts on stanchions, I am reminded of the famous fence we were supposed to be building from California to the Gulf Of Mexico to keep out Mexicans and other South
There is some comfort though in knowing that one can walk across the border from Canada in thousands of locations---carrying anything you want to carry.
The games we play on the southern east coast with the Cubans and Haitians, are nearly as useless as the ones in Arizona, etc.
Ms. Malkin, in her article above, seems upset at our failure to build the fences.
Actually, when nobody thinks a fence will work, and really doesn't even care if we have one, then it surely will never work.
Republicans want the workers but don't want them to reap any benefits. Democrats want them all to come, register without questions and be able to get medical care.
Then why build a fence?
Control, they say.
What with tunnels, helicopters, boats, and more likely holes in the fences, they will serve little purpose.
It is a little strange that if one can get their foot on American soil in Florida, they can stay, but not in the west!
Many of those in Miami vote republican and many of those from Mexico vote democratic---if they were ever allowed to vote.
Those who think we can build double fences with TV cameras and monitors along scores of hundreds of miles of fence and continue indefinitely to enforce it with thousands of people are dreaming!
Fences won't do it: local citizens could if allowed to do so.
Let the local Sheriff do it--he can.
Of course the republicans don't want the local sheriff to do it! Isn't it strange that now they want the federals to do it?

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