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 â€” 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.