Our VoiceImmigration

US/Mexico Border Fence: Bad News from All Sides


MJ Olahafa • Aug 20, 2010

As part of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, the government started building a 700 mile fence along the 2000 mile southern border of the United States. Supposedly this will halt unauthorized immigration from the South.

The 640 miles of fence that have been built to date took four years, an average of $4.5 million per mile of taxpayer money, and have not proven an effective form of border security. On the contrary, this fence has caused more problems than it has solved.

For starters, immigration has not stopped. The only thing this fence has done is force the foot traffic through the more dangerous parts of the desert, causing a staggering number of deaths – 150 so far this year. In the Arizona desert alone, 59 bodies were recovered in July 2010, the highest number since July 2005.

The number of deaths along the border since 2001, 1,650, has eclipsed the number of US troop deaths in Afghanistan, 1,200, over the same period of time.

The precious border is also infamous for the rift it has caused among the indigenous tribes living along the border. The descendants of the “people of the desert” have witnessed this fence rip apart – quite literally – their lands, their families, their culture. The Tohono O’odham tribes, natives of the land, are now being harassed by Border Patrol agents, and treated like strangers on their own land.

Last, but certainly not least, the U.S. Congress, deep in its post 9/11 hysteria gave the Department of Homeland Security authorization to bypass all federal, state and local laws – environmental and otherwise – along the border in order to build the fence. Without regard to environmental protection or public health and safety, Section 102 of the Real ID Act has allowed for 36 federal laws to be broken, effectively destroying the natural habitat of hundreds of wildlife species, most of which are endangered or threatened.

Over 40% of the land along our southern border is protected public land, and this reckless infrastructure has meant dire consequences for vast expanses of pristine lands, including wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, and national forest lands, among others. Several species of wildlife have been known to migrate seasonally, and some have been observed, even photographed, stranded by the callous fence. In its Wild versus Wall documentary, the Sierra Club has denounced the disastrous consequences of the fence.

And do not think for a second that these environmental catastrophes are bad news for animals only. People are also being caught up in the mix. The wall has caused severe flooding in Nogales, Arizona burying homes and businesses under 6 feet of water and causing two drowning deaths.

The border wall has proven ineffective, costly and dangerous for animals and people alike. And yet the government, unfazed by the carnage, is implementing plans to build another layer to the fence.

Sounds like more bad news for all involved.

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