Taking matters into their own hands, some activists are working to build a fence along the nearly 2,000-mile U.S. southern border – with or without government participation.
Using the slogan “American Citizens Securing the Borders Themselves,” The Border Fence Project hopes to raise enough money to build a fence along 90 percent of the U.S.-Mexico border that currently has no physical barrier.
According to the effort’s website, the “fencing solution” will include the use of near-wholesale raw materials and use volunteer labor to build the structure.
Leaders from both parties in Washington have been reluctant to advocate a fence along the entire border, with some saying a “virtual fence” using high-tech surveillance equipment and drones can do the job of stemming illegal immigration.
States the Border Fence Project website: “Because Washington officials have consistently shown apprehension and outright consternation of the idea of a complete fence, it is unlikely they will ever cooperate, assuming the public continues to vote for special-interest candidates. Furthermore, most estimates show that because of the inefficiency of government labor and high markup on raw materials, the cost is likely to run $9 billion, only 23 percent of the Department of Homeland Security annual budget, but enough to receive grief from the open-borders lobby.
“We know we the civilian volunteers, in cooperation with Minuteman-like groups already on the border, can do the job for 1/400 of that cost!”
The organization, led by Jim Wood of Running Springs, Calif., believes an effective fence can be built for between $1.50 and $4 a foot. It would consist of a barbed-wire fence guarded by “solar motion lights with sirens, other motion sensors, electronic sensors that determine if the wire has been cut and a television-camera-unit for up to every quarter-mile of fencing depending on landscape,” the site states.
Last week, Chris Simcox, leader of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a civilian border patrol group, said if the government was not going to build a fence, volunteers would do so.
”We’re going to show the federal government how easy it is to build these security fences, how inexpensively they can be built when built by private people and free enterprise,” Simcox told the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, an Arizona state lawmaker is proposing legislation to allow ranchers who lease state land along the border to build fencing on government property.
State Rep. Russell Pearce told KVOA-TV the bill is still being drafted.
“I’m interested in helping to do that,” Pearce said. “We don’t have authority over federal land but we do over state land.”
Simcox, who hopes to begin the fence project May 25, says he is supportive of the proposed legislation.
Minuteman spokeswoman Connie Hair called the response to the fence proposal unbelievable – “people wanting to donate, to help build a fence, people wanting a fence on their land,” according to AP.
Said Simcox on the Minuteman website: “We have chosen a fence design that is based on the Israeli fences in Gaza and on the West Bank that have cut terrorist attacks there by 95 percent or more. In order to be effective, a fence should not be easy to compromise by climbing over it with a ladder, cutting through it with wire cutters, ramming it with a vehicle, or tunneling under it undetected.”
The design includes a double fence with a six-foot trench on both sides and surveillance cameras. Simcox says the fence would cost no more than $150 a foot.
Border-area ranchers have long been active in opposing illegal immigration, since the entrants often vandalize their property and commit other crimes as they make their way north.
Meanwhile, WeNeedAFence.com, a leading organization in the effort to erect a fence, is hailing recent comments by Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., supporting a physical barrier on the border.
“A physical structure is obviously important. A wall in certain areas would be appropriate,” Clinton is quoted by the New York Daily News as saying.
“We commend Senator Clinton for supporting a secure physical barrier along our southern border,” said WeNeedAFence.com President Colin Hanna. “We welcome the opportunity to work with senators on both sides of the aisle to build consensus in favor of a state-of-the-art border fence.”