We can’t even build 14 damned miles, let alone the vaunted 370 promised by President Bush:
Bulldozers are rolling again on the U.S.-Mexico border, moving hundreds of tons of dirt to make way for a 16-foot steel fence in an area that once was the most popular crossing for illegal immigrants. But before the construction resumed recently, the 14-mile project in San Diego was stalled for years by legal challenges from environmentalists, budget problems and difficulties buying land. Those delays are now raising doubts about a government plan to extend fencing to 370 miles of the Mexican border.
Rep. Duncan Hunter is pushing DHS to move faster–and illuminates the fantasy deadlines set by the lip service Border Fence Act:
As Republican presidential candidate Rep. Duncan Hunter has staked out the U.S.-Mexico border fence as one of this top priorities, he has repeatedly criticized the Department of Homeland Security for planning to build only half of the 700 miles of border fence authorized by Congress last year and acting too slowly to do even that.
The Mexican border “is our biggest homeland security problem” and “this administration has a case of ‘the slows’ on border enforcement,” Hunter said at a Republican presidential candidate debate in May, repeating “the slows” criticism in the June debate…
…The Secure Fence Act (PL 109-367), passed just before the 2006 midterm elections, authorizes 700 miles of fencing along the Mexican border. Then-House Homeland Security Chairman Peter T. King, R-N.Y., sponsored the bill, and Hunter was an original cosponsor and author of its fencing provisions. The bill passed after a comprehensive immigration overhaul failed last session; the defeat of the Senate immigration bill (S 1639) late last month means a comprehensive immigration overhaul is also unlikely this session.
The Secure Fence Act says “the Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide for 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.
It sets three “priority area” deadlines — including one that was not met for an interlocking surveillance camera system along part of the border in California and Arizona by May 30, 2007, Hunter’s spokesman Joe Kasper said in an interview. Another deadline is for two-layered fencing to be installed in that section by June 2008. The third deadline is for the fencing to be installed in a Texas border section by 2009. No deadline is set for fencing to be completed in the three other sections.
Fourteen of the 700 miles of the fencing required by the Secure Fence Act have been built, in Arizona, and it is a single rather than double layer, according to Kasper, who said Hunter’s office consults with Border Patrol.
Environmentalists, business lobbyists, and ethnic groups are all uniting to stop the fence mandated by President Bush, spearheaded by immigration enforcement Republicans, and approved by 64 Democrats in the House and 26 Dems in the U.S. Senate – including, ahem, Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois.
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