Skip to comments.Bush Administration to fortify western most stretch of U.S-Mexico border
Posted on 09/14/2005 5:42:37 PM PDT by johnmecainrino
SAN DIEGO The Bush administration said Wednesday it will fortify the westernmost stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border over the objections of environmentalists and California regulators, who feared the project would harm a refuge for endangered birds. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff signed an environmental waiver Tuesday night that expedites the Border Patrol's long-standing plans to fill in canyons and erect additional fencing along the final 3 1/2 miles of the border before it meets the Pacific Ocean.
The move sets up the latest clash between the Bush administration and the state's Coastal Commission, which has denied the Border Patrol permission to proceed with the project.
Chertoff said the fortifications would help reduce illegal border crossings, while Border Patrol Chief David Aguilar told reporters the project was "not directly related to illegal immigration," but a broader effort to close gaps that terrorists and others could exploit. "This is about border security," Aguilar said.
Plans call for two additional fences running parallel to the 12-year-old corrugated steel barrier along the border. A patrol road and series of lights would run between the first and second fences, and a maintenance road would run between the second and third set of fences. Sensors and cameras would track any movement. Previous estimates have pegged the project at $58 million, but Aguilar said the final cost had yet to be determined.
Aguilar said the Border Patrol may move to fortify the border in other areas, although both he and Chertoff said the administration had no plans to wall off the entire 2,000-mile Southwest border with Mexico.
Concern over illegal immigration led Congress to pass legislation in 1996 requiring the Border Patrol to strengthen the westernmost 14-mile stretch of the border. Nine miles were fortified, but environmental concerns and lawsuits held up construction on the last 3½ miles leading to the ocean and 1½ miles farther east. Earlier this year, Congress gave Chertoff the power to sign a broad environmental waiver to finish the job, citing fears that terrorists could slip through an unsecured border.
"It's good to know that Secretary Chertoff recognizes that our nation remains susceptible and vulnerable to the threat of terrorism and extraneous illegal activity unless efforts are made to secure our border," said U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, a San Diego area Republican who has long championed efforts to beef up border security.
Mexico has objected to the fencing. A spokesman for Mexican President Vicente Fox said in May that the president lamented the project and said constructing walls was not the best way to solve the challenges on the common border. Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez has called the plans "inappropriate."
The California Coastal Commission was particularly concerned about the Border Patrol's plans to fill a deep, half-mile long canyon known as "Smuggler's Gulch," with 2.1 million cubic yards of dirt, enough to fill 300,000 dump trucks. Commission members feared filling the canyon would erode soil near a federally protected estuary that is a refuge for threatened and endangered birds.
The Border Patrol said it would take steps to reduce environmental harm. The slopes of Smuggler's Gulch will be stair-stepped to reduce erosion and culverts under the slopes will slow and capture runoff before it entered the estuary. The Border Patrol said cutting off illegal border crossings will also stop foot traffic in the wetlands.
Peter Douglas, the commission's executive director, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The commission has also locked horns with the Bush administration over its plans to extend leases for oil and gas drilling off the Central California coast.
Serge Dedina, executive director of Wildcoast, a San Diego based coastal conservation group, said the fencing would do nothing to deter illegal immigration and would only worsen the fragile Tijuana Estuary.
"This project is just basically pork barrel and national security hysteria at its worst," Dedina said.
"Mexico has objected to the fencing."
So what? Mexico and the California Coastal Commission can both pound sand.
I applaud the effort but,
too little, too late.
Well if they go too far west they miss that big highway we built for em.
They should take their pick. Illegals or birds.
The law that allowed this removed all labor laws from the subcontractors, I hope they all use illegals to get this built under budget and ahead of time.
There's a typo in the title (should read "fortify")
Big, and Bad, and built by the hands of illegals living "high on the hog" in our prison system.
Surely this is satire.
Endangered birds or endangered citizens, that is the choice. Not even close, the birds win hands down in PC country!!!
... constructing walls was
not the best way to solve the challenges on the common border the best way to keep out illegal aliens short of shooting them.
You have no idea how right you are. When I was stationed in San Diego, the Navy had an airfield on North Isand that had about an acre fenced off for some birds, right on the airfield. Unbelievable but true.
Now I must admit I don't remember there not being a wall to the sea. While spending time at NAB Coronado I spent time running on Imperial Beach and the wall seperating Mexico from Imperial Beach ran out into the Sea. This was in the 90s. So what wall are they talking about?
Yeh, so what if Mexico objects?
HEY!!!! OVER HERE!!!!!! WHAT ABOUT ARIZONA????!!!!!!!
It's a start. I'll take it over doing nothing. It just might be successful enough to encourage more of the same.
Isn't that the truth? Priorities misplaced for sure.
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