Billions for a border fence

A steel wall separates Nogales, Sonora, Mexico from Nogales, Ariz.


SCOTT JAGOW: Today the President signs the Secure Fence Act of 2006. It calls for the government to build a 700-mile barrier along a stretch of the U.S.-Mexican border. What the bill doesn't provide is the money to pay for it. And oh, it will be expensive. Here's John Dimsdale.

JOHN DIMSDALE: The new law calls for building a double-layered wall with roads, lighting, camera and sensors along a third of the distance between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

The cost estimates range from $2.2 to $6 billion. Most of that will have to be appropriated in future budget bills.

STEVEN CAMAROTA: A fence is a good start.

Steven Camarota with the Center for Immigration Studies thinks it will be money well-spent.

CAMAROTA: It probably does have some deterrent effect, where large numbers of people come across and sometimes overwhelm border patrol. That becomes much more difficult when you put in a system of fencing.

Opponents range from environmentalists worried about migrating animals to a Native American tribe that straddles the border.

The Department of Homeland Security has argued that a virtual fence, using land-based and airborne sensors could also do the trick, at a lower cost.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.


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