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Fatwah / September 24, 2009
By Yasha Levine


Border Barrier Blues:
Mexican footpaths on the Arizona side of the fence

Last week, the Government Accountability Office released a depressing audit of the US-Mexico border fence we’ve been trying to put up for the past three years. The report caused about 8 hours of pretend outrage and was promptly forgotten. It found that we’d already shoveled $2.4 billion to half-seal 600 miles of the border since 2005 (we still have about 100 to 200 miles to go) and we would need to spend an additional $6.5 billion over the next 20 years just plugging up holes punched in the fencing.

The Christian Science Monitor:

So far, it has been breached 3,363 times, requiring $1,300 for the average repair. . . . Despite the price tag of maintaining the border fence, authorities have not found a way to determine whether it is helping to halt illegal immigration, the GAO report says.

The only semi-relevant stats we got are the number of illegal border border-crossers being caught by the US Border Patrol, which has dropped by 25 percent in recent times. But that doesn’t tell us much. “No one knows whether the decrease in crossers is due to the recession keeping people home, the thousands of new border patrol agents or the more than 600 miles of new border fence that has been built,” says NPR.

There is one thing we can be sure of: the massive steel pylons have been a boon for Mexican scrap metal entrepreneurs, who are able to supplement their incomes by dragging off whole sections of the fence right under the nose of our beefed up Border Patrol.

Bush’s Secure Fence Act of 2006 mandated that the Department of Homeland Security had 1.5 years to create a physical border fence bolstered by surveillance technology. But it was obvious from the very beginning that Bush’s push for a border fence was nothing more than a political show—there was not enough time and not enough money—to boost Bush’s and Republican’s creds with their base. Besides, the real Republican base–Bush’s corporate sponsors, “the haves and the have mores”–were the ones who benefited most from all that cheap illegal-immigrant labor, so naturally it was bound to be a half-assed effort intended to quell the Tea Party suckers who believe the Republicans. The building contractors were the only ones who stood to gain from the massive, wasteful show of Republican fake-patriotism. A show that’s still costing us billions.

I was down on the Arizona-Mexico border about six months ago doing a story on a McGyver-style vigilante group called the American Border Patrol and the total clusterfuck that is our border fence up close and personal.


One day I was ATVing along a freshly built stretch of the fence on the Arizona border, when I ran into a bored, young US Border Patrol agent. He seemed skeptical about the wall doing much good. The wall wouldn’t make much of a difference, he told me. “They” always figure out a way to get through—or over, in this case. Burros carrying bales of drugs on their back simply throw a rope up over the two-storey barrier, snagging it with some sort of hook on one of the fence’s steel beams and scuttle up and over.

The amazing thing is that they’ve managed to get cars over it, too. According to the agent, Mexican smugglers rig trucks with collapsible ramps similar to those used at old-school airports for boarding planes. They would have two trucks drive up to the fence—one on each side of the border—line them up and have their hombres drive right over. Apparently, a whole caravan of cars and pickup trucks could cross that way in a matter of minutes. When they were done, the ramps would be folded up and concealed, and the operator would drive peacefully home.

People who live on the border will tell you that the fence has reduced foot traffic from Mexico. But in part that’s because smuggling routes have been pushed into more isolated, less fenced and usually more deadly terrain. So while border crossing apprehensions are down by a quarter, the number of deaths have remained the same. Which means that the border patrol is increasingly turning into a Search, Rescue and Detain operation involving helicopters, medical supplies and hospital bills. Guess who’s paying for those?

When I was down in Arizona, I got in touch with an old Vietnam vet who passed the time doing crazy Rambo shit: rigging a mountainous stretch of the Mexican border with motion-activated “game cameras.” Since they put up the border fence across the open desert, he saw foot traffic go off the charts in the nearby mountains, which are not fenced. His cameras captured group after group of people crossing in areas that were before rarely active, if at all. Border Patrol can’t get to them there, and it’s also not the safest place to be. In one of his videos, there’s a huge bear hobbling down a foot path that is frequently used by border-crossers. One of these days, those two parties are bound to meet.


But the border fence isn’t a total, ineffectual waste of money just in the physical realm.

In 2006, the Department of Homeland Security awarded Boeing with a contract to develop a “virtual fence” prototype along a 28-mile stretch of the border in Arizona. Dubbed SBInet — part of President Bush’s “Secure Border Initiative” — it was meant to replace an outdated CCTV-style surveillance system currently in use by the US Borer Patrol and create a unified surveillance system that linked tower-mounted cameras, ground sensors, UAVs and radar. The project started off with a budget of $20 million, but quickly ballooned to nearly $1 billion just two years later. They had to start from scratch at least once, and there is still no working prototype in sight. The Department of Homeland Security was going to scrap SBInet due to cost overruns, but recently decided to extend its contract with Boeing for another year.

So there you have it. The Secure Fence Act of 2006, thirty-six months later: Directive #1—”border surveillance through more effective use of personnel and technology”—is total fucking joke. And Directive #2—”physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful border entry”—is so ineffectual and expensive it would probably be cheaper to demolish the whole thing and hand the rubble over to Mexican scrap metal brokers.

Would you like to know more? Check out Yasha Levine’s BORDER WARS: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A VIRTUAL VIGILANTE

Yasha Levine is a McMansion inhabitin’ editor of The eXiled. He is currently stationed in Victorville, CA. You can reach him at levine [at]

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Add your own

  • 1. Concerned Citizen  |  September 24th, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    God damn. America always seems to half-ass everything, from our imperial projects overseas to this allegedly “secure” fence. Anyway, listen up. Here is what needs to be done. And don’t bitch and moan and advocate other half-ass solutions, because this is really what it’s going to take to keep these Mexicans off our land, given that we already have enough here to provide a stable population of low-life workers who can breed amongst themselves and cook our food.

    So we’re in a recession and Americans want jobs. Well, let’s give them something to do–I call it the “The Irrigation and Wildlife project.” We dig a moat/canal all the way across the southern border through California, Arizona, and Texas. Liberals will love it because it’s big government at it’s best giving jobs with a living wage and benefits, while providing a refuge for wildlife. Conservatives will dig it because it will keep the barbarians at bay and–provided there are numerous Border Patrol towers–provide a perfect way to pick off whatever savages make it through the gator infested waters at various choke points.

    Imagine the benefits for commercial activity and shipping. The Panama Canal was great and all, but this canal/moat would cut shipping costs in the long-term drastically and ensure stability given it’s right on our border. What better way to celebrate the upcoming centennial anniversary of our empire-building mission in Panama (first shipping there occurred in 1914)by topping that project with something as grand as this.

    Let’s face it. A fence is not going to get the job done, and we’re just giving these Mexicans free steel. The clever Mexicans trying to get in will cut it up or climb over it just like the article described. If we really want to get serious–and yes, I know how lazy Americans are so I’m not crossing my fingers–we need to get this project started immediately.


  • 2. adolphhitler  |  September 24th, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    so what is your point…have a totally open border so anyone can walk across anytime they want…there’s a good idea,…every pregnant 3rd world woman will drive to san diego to have her baby at an E.R.and we will pay the bill…then, since the baby is a citizen and can’t be deported we can start paying the parents assistance to stay here.
    i dont care what the fence costs, its still a bargain in the long run!

  • 3. aleke  |  September 24th, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Who the hell would want to go to the US? I guess the people who can’t get into Canada or Western Europe (or Eastern, for that matter)

  • 4. dermotmoconnor  |  September 24th, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    @ concerned citizen:


    It would be nice if you had some.

  • 5. Homer Erotic  |  September 24th, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    Where was the border fence when we needed to keep teh IRISH out??? Everything is the fault of teh IRISH!!1! They drink two much and their FUNNY-LOOKING1!!

  • 6. Lester Ness  |  September 24th, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    It doesn’t look anywhere near as sturdy as the Great Wall of China (which never kept anyone out either).

  • 7. Allen  |  September 25th, 2009 at 2:51 am

    Mr.CC has that remarkable Conservative ability to draw lines in the sand. The Mexicans are not just a practical challenge — they’re scum, barbarian, low lives, subhuman, evil. Suddenly a practical population management problem is a dramatic struggle for … something.

    Remarkable. I’m one of these people that can’t do it … I see the Mexicans out-maneuvering and out doing the stupid bloated U.S. government machine and its “fence”, and I cannot help but be pleased with my fellow humans’ ingenuity and tenacity.

    Where some see stubborn vermin, I see can-do flourish … what can I say.

    As for solving the “immigration” problem … I dunno. I will say that that is one shitty looking fence; what a comment on the state of the U.S. government, and its cannibalization at the hands of crony “contract” Capitalism, that it can’t even put up a decent fucking FENCE. A FENCE for fuck’s sake. Why isn’t it contiguous and complete, four times as high, multiple layers deep, with razor wire on it?

    I guess the days of truly impressive public works are just over in the U.S. of A.

  • 8. Joe Blow  |  September 25th, 2009 at 5:42 am

    “(which never kept anyone out either).”

    actually, all the reports we have are that the wall worked just great for hundreds of years.

    It was only later that China was invaded in areas that did not have a wall. After that it fell into disrepair, since the outside people were now running the place.

  • 9. Strahlungsamt  |  September 25th, 2009 at 9:16 am

    The Germans did a much better job of keeping those nasty Kommies out. Worked for 28 years too. Difference is, they didn’t mind shooting their own people dead to keep them from crossing. And they had backing from the Russkies and JFK.

    And if that doesn’t work, try Maddox’s solution:

    and here (scroll down a bit to the images)

  • 10. Eye  |  September 25th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    In the long run, US citizens may be climbing the fence to enter illegaly in Mexico!

  • 11. Antonio Garcia  |  September 25th, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    The walls a good thing for the USA

  • 12. SweetLeftFoot  |  September 26th, 2009 at 1:00 am

    The funniest bit is US taxpayers have actually paid in recent years for a totally effective fuck off fence that is proving brutally efficient at protecting the haves from the greasy have nots.

    Problem for you poor saps is that its in Israel/Occupied Palestine, rather than on your border.

  • 13. Mike  |  September 26th, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Well, bears already exist and cost you nothing. They can prevent unlawful crossing quite well!

  • 14. Scrat335  |  September 26th, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Damn. 30 years ago this stinking country put a man on the moon. Now we can’t even protect the borders. How much more screwed up can we get? And keep in mind people, that’s not our only border, look at the illegals coming from Canada. I think the problem is internal largely. Amoral money grubbing contractors who hire illegals should be shot.

  • 15. Antonio Garcia  |  September 26th, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Well if you consider the amount for Border Patrol Agents and Custom Officials to place walls would cut back on more Agents patrolling instead of placing walls. I think placing walls save more tax payer money in the long run instead of incorporating more agents, Plus borders is somthing almost any normal country has

  • 16. Antonio Garcia  |  September 26th, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Placing concrete walls are way more less expensive than hiring more agents to concentrate more on areas were they need more support, Concrete walls don’t cost that much for tax paying governments, Governments that collect beyond trillions and trillions of dollars a year, Plus the government gets those walls for a communist price so it’s probably rock bottom

  • 17. wengler  |  September 26th, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    End free trade with Mexico and shutdown the maquiladoras. Mexicans are people, not animals. Unlike the braindead anti-union southern auto worker putting together Toyotas and Hondas, the factory workers by the border right now can figure out that 5 miles to the north is the difference between 5 dollars a day and 80 dollars a day making the same shit.

    And considering that US drug policy has turned Mexico into a warzone, there is no real incentive to stick around and see if you get kidnapped.

  • 18. fajensen  |  September 27th, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Get the Israelis to build a proper wall instead and stick some Samsung or Raphael auto-guns on it too. The Israelis already build the latest batch of Intel CPU’s … Another thing we are now too stupid to do!!

  • 19. Alex_C  |  January 7th, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Put a bounty on border-bunnies. I’ll go down there and shoot ’em, not that I have anything against ’em, but I don’t know ’em so they’re just targets to me, and besides, I’ll be saving a job on this side for each one I ding. And I’m out of work too, $10 a head is all I ask for pay.

    I’d rather ding bankers and yuppies but that’s for later hehe.

    If all this sounds callous and bloodthirsty, well, we’re in for a callous and bloodthirsty age. I’ve said in another thread here that we’ll kill for any job, and I mean to demonstrate it if I get the chance.

  • 20. Jeanne  |  January 28th, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    What if we just changed the law to say that you have to be born to a United States citizen in order to be a citizen at birth? Then it wouldn’t matter if they got here in time to have their baby, their baby would not be a citizen either, and therefore could be deported with the mother. Wouldn’t this save a ton of money? Has no one else thought of this?

  • 21. Amanda  |  January 29th, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    These “thoughts” are stupid.I’m Hispanic and a lot of these comments are offensive, We should get rid of all the white people.They think they can control everything.Stupid Rednecks.

  • 22. mr mestizo  |  February 16th, 2010 at 6:40 am

    we should abduct the border and then fly off in our spaceship with all the illegal Hispanics falling out and dropping to their deaths on u.s. soil that way poor red neck americans can get paid to clean up the carnage.

  • 23. michael safa michalchik  |  March 6th, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    The problem is that politics is driven by slogans that appeal to the lowest common denominator in our society. Our undereducated, TV addled intellectually lazy population can understand something like a fence, and the threat that “dark people” pose.

    Don’t like something? Shoot it or cage it. Don’t bother to find out why it is there or what it actually does or who is making money off it. If you think that immigration is a problem. Find out why people immigrate and cut it off the demand.

  • 24. James N. Canady  |  April 29th, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    The really disturbing aspect of the GAO’s report comes to full manifestation when you ponder, what if really do have to defend the border one day? Defending the border against illegals and a band of terrorists is one thing, what about strategic military invaders? Does our illegal immigration incompetence extend to military ineptness as well? Scary thought.

  • 25. franc black  |  May 10th, 2011 at 9:43 am

    That land was meant for the Hispanics and indians. Whitey costs too much with his wasteful lifestyle of air conditioning, SUVs, numerous fresh-water showers during the day, bitchy over-demanding women, green lawns, bourgeois attitudes … let’s face it, sooner or later, you’ll just have to give it all up. You cannot compete, and are wasting alot of money trying. That geography was not meant for whitey.

  • 26. retho  |  May 11th, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    why are all the redneck retards trolling here ?

  • 27. my talkative ringpiece  |  May 12th, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    The most effective thing now is, the jobs are disappearing in the US. Gringos here are willing to do the work “mexicans” used to do, and if anything cheaper. I live in a heavily Hispanic area and ton of “mexicans” are going the hell home. Nobody’s making $80 a day making stuff any more in the US, but $40 a day if you’re very, very lucky and score a minimum-wage job. Many are living on the unofficial economy, which may pay $5-$20 a day.

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