Republicans are putting pressure on the government once again to build a massive fence along the border to stem the tide of thousands of illegal immigrants flooding into the United States.
The extensive barbed wire fence plan, often criticized by Democrats, has been thrown around for years, and even a partial fence to secure the border was built near San Diego, Calif., in the 1990s, according to Fox News.
But the calls for hundreds of miles of new fencing have been renewed following President Barack Obama's stunning request to Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to deal with the immigration crisis, with only a fraction of the money actually going to border security.
Republican Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma is now pushing for the Secure Fence Act of 2006 to be enforced. Signed by former President George W. Bush, the law approved the construction of a long stretch of fence along the southern border, as well as more checkpoints, cameras, vehicle barriers, and lighting to catch undocumented immigrants.
"If we want to solve this problem, we need to secure the southern border," Bridenstine told Fox News, while calling for 700 miles of double-layered new fence to be erected.
He noted that because U.S. authorities control less than 50 percent of the border, leaving wide swaths of territory available for illegal immigrants to enter the United States, the National Guard should be stationed on the boundary to help overwhelmed Border Patrol agents.
His comments came two days after conservative commentator Pat Buchanan
said that to stop the "thousands of children pouring into the country," the United States should erect a secure fence, a double- or triple-link fence, all along the border with Mexico.
However, three years ago, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that building a fence was not the way to solve the crisis, which was met with derision
by many conservatives at the time, including former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.
Two decades ago, the federal government built a section of the fence near San Diego, which is double- and triple-layered in certain sections. Since the 2006 law was passed, the Department of Homeland Security has attached additional fencing, consisting of 300 miles of vehicle fencing and 350 miles of pedestrian fencing, according to Fox News.
However, in a San Diego Union-Tribune
commentary over the weekend, Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter pointed out that fewer than 40 miles of fencing along the border near the city is double-layered. He said that although the single-layer pedestrian and vehicle barriers "might be better than nothing," more stringent fences should be installed.
"Fencing and infrastructure alone are by no means enough to stop illegal crossings, but the presence of physical impediments at the border, when supported by manpower and technology, create barriers that make entry increasingly more difficult and sometimes impossible," he wrote.
"Either the mandates of the Secure Fence Act should be reinstated, which I have proposed, or the Obama administration should utilize existing authority to finish the job that the Bush administration halfheartedly started."
But Democrats say the cost of good fences making good neighbors would simply be too exorbitant. The Washington Office on Latin America estimates that the price of a super fence stretching along the border could reach $4.1 billion, Fox News said.
In the past, Obama has mocked Republicans for attempting to constantly change the parameters of what they deem is necessary to stop the deluge of immigrants from Mexico and Central American countries, many of them unaccompanied teenage children.
"They said we needed to triple the Border Patrol," he said in 2011. "Now they're gonna say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol, or they'll want a higher fence — maybe they'll need a moat. Maybe they want alligators in the moat."
But last week conservative newspaper columnist Charles Krauthammer hit back at Obama, saying on Fox News that "if fences don't work, why is there one around the White House?"
He added, "If they don't work, why is it that the Israeli fence which separates Israel from the West Bank has cut down terror attacks within Israel by 99 percent. Fences work."
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