Saturday, September 30, 2006

Barrier Fence Update

Late last night while normal people were sleeping or watching Seinfeld reruns or getting hopelessly drunk as they contemplated how the writ of habeas corpus, in effect for hundreds of years, had slid down the tubes during the past week, our fine Senate body was busy putting to bed some other great pieces of legislation. Before they return home to their constituencies to work on getting re-elected. And the bill I wrote about yesterday, HR 6061, was easily passed, in what Rep. Jim Kolbe (R/AZ) calls "... a statement for the elections. That's all it is." Well, Kolbe is retiring at the end of the year, it's not his election, what does he care?

Here's the story, from the WaPo this morning: With Senate Vote, Congress Passes Border Fence Bill: Barrier Trumps Immigration Overhaul. The estimated cost for this great piece of American ingenuity (Oh wait, the Israelis already did this, didn't they? And we see how well it's working for them. And then, of course, there was that German wall, remember that?) is 6 billion dollars. Anyone who has ever had a house built, or just remodeled, knows how much we can count on pre-construction estimates. So the possibilities for this are endless.

Advocates and opponents of the measure said it is not clear that the fence can be built as the bill envisions. The Arizona branch would have to plunge down steep ravines and scale craggy mountain peaks.

"This is not Iowa farmland," said Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.). Construction is "going to be near impossible."A vast stretch of the Arizona fence would traverse the lands of the Tohono O'odham Nation, which strongly opposes it and could bring suit, said Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.).

Construction crews would have to deal with rivers and streams running north to south and wildlife migration routes that do not respect the U.S.-Mexico divide. And the Border Patrol does not have enough agents to stop smugglers from simply knocking holes in remote stretches.
Whether it gets built, or how much it costs in the end, this is not going to be the solution to the "problem of illegal immigration." This is a social and an economic "problem," and a paramilitary (drones, vastly bigger border patrols, prisons for holding captured undocumented border crossers, etc.) solution is not going to work. I have to agree with this assessment of this plan:

"This is not a sign of strength and engagement, but a sign of weakness and fear. And frankly, speaking as an American, it's an embarrassment," said Kevin Appleby, director of migration and refugee policy at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
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posted at 11:24:00 AM by marigolds2

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