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Fences

The AP has a piece out about fences on the Mexican border: Fence isn’t a cure-all for America’s porous border

The best known TV spot features Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain kicking along a dusty road in this hilly border city, fuming to his companion, the Pinal County sheriff, about drugs and immigrant smugglers and kidnappings. Wearing his Navy baseball cap and squinting into the sun, McCain could be rounding the corner to the gunfight at the OK Corral.

“Complete the danged fence,” he spits, his jaw drawing into a knot.
The government has spent $2.4 billion since 2005 to build the fence as it presently stands. And the prevailing political sentiment would appear to be, build it faster and higher.

But what McCain and other politicians often fail to point out is there’s no shortage of ways to get past the fence. Immigrants scale it with ladders. Smugglers use blowtorches and hacksaws to penetrate it. They use trucks with retractable vehicle ramps to roll pickups full of marijuana over the fence. They knock down vehicles barriers and erect lookalikes that are made out of cardboard and easy to move.

There are two reasons people clamor for fences along the Mexican border: immigration and drugs. Since this is a drug war blog, I’ll address the second.

1. Beginning economics lesson: when there is demand, supply will follow. It’s a law of nature. No matter how you try to build the fence, they will go under, over, around, or through it.

2. There are 1,969 miles of border between the U.S. and Mexico, and if you somehow covered all that, there are 5,525 miles of border between the U.S. and Canada to worry about, plus 12,479 miles of U.S. coastline.

3. Even if you could fence it all and somehow make it impenetrable, the drugs would come in through the legal entry points — the amount of international trade needed to keep this country going requires too much quantity each day to inspect it all.

4. For those who think a fence will keep drugs out, just remember that we have been unable to keep drugs out of prisons.

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9 comments to Fences

  • Bruce

    Only those with something to hide, erect fences?
    As WW1 proved you can lay down razor barbed fence with machine gun cover, and they’ll still come, wanting what prize is concealed inside.

  • strayan

    The nation has been well trained in the art of vigilance which means a lot of restlessness and no promise of tranquility.

    The wall is pointless. But it gives a sense of purpose to the hopeless individuals who forever claim to be defending their nation – for defending the nation is an eternal task and drugs an eternal threat.

  • Just me.

    Ya go ahead, erect the fence. Then at some point you wonder, Its not who or what they are keeping out but, who they are keeping in.

    As one poster here has said, he lives outside the fence.

    The other thing will happen too. It will make cartels richer. The more difficult the flow of drug ,the higher the price.

    Action -reaction.

  • and of course then there’s the question of how we’ll pay for the fence? We’re broke and we have a massive environmental calamity occuring in the Gulf of Mexico that gwan be ver’ ‘spensive.

    I still have yet to hear these fellows (mostly) say “look folks, we’re broke. We’re in debt up to our eyeballs and we’ve fallen behind and sold the farm. We can’t afford what we have, let alone what we want…”

    Gluttony has a price.

  • Servetus

    Senator McCain’s uber-fence will get help from drones patrolling the border starting this fall. Drones cover a longer, wider range, but problems remain.

    Each drone costs about $12-million. Air surveillance costs add to the price of the border fence, along with everything else. The prison fence industry is probably in on the deal. And all that’s necessary to create this windfall is to stoke people’s fears and prejudices about brown-skinned people and non-toxic plants. What a racket.

  • ezrydn

    We won’t call the Drug War a Drug War. We won’t call it a “Wall.” We’ll call it a “Fence.” How many of you have been “eyes on” with the fence? That stroke of idocy wouldn’t stop very much very often. There are places where you can walk straight through it.

    Finishing the fence won’t stop anything except, maybe, the whinning of politicians who started this fiasco. Another case of “won’t turn around.”

  • Sukoi

    I call Bullshit on this. No, really…

  • Hope

    That fence fences and harms some wild life and their habitat. It’s not a barbed wire fence that wild animals can get through, and in some places the fence itself has caused flooding.

  • claygooding

    In order to fully appreciate the “fence”,you would have to follow the money,from the original bill through congress and all the way through all the different agencies,each skimming off a share for handling fees,down to the crew of illegal aliens that built it,under contract to the local state representative’s brother in law that owns a fencing company.