NPR logo Brother, Can You Help Build A Border Fence?


Brother, Can You Help Build A Border Fence?

Arizona can now accept private donations to build a fence at the border with Mexico to bolster border efforts to turn back illegal immigrants. State senator Steve Smith, who sponsored the project in the Arizona legislature, says his goal is to raise $50 million dollars privately. He's happy with the project's initial start, which brought in nearly $40,000 in less than a day.

Supporters can visit, where they're first treated to an image of two lines of apparent fencing - broken barbed wire posts lean drunkenly in the forground while further back, weathered wooden posts driven into the dusty desert ground are not connected at all. There's a large question underneath: Does This Look Like A Secure Border?

Sen. Smith writes the fence is needed because

"The consequences of this lack of security have yielded an unparalleled invasion of drug cartels, violent gangs, an estimated 20 million illegal aliens, and even terrorists."

Smith cites evidence of the deaths of dozens of Border Patrol Agents, evidence from the Homeland Security Agency and testimony from FBI Director Robert Mueller to support his statement.

To save money, the project is supposed to use prisoners to help build the fence, according to AP. But Reuters notes the effort may run into another problem: available land may be scarce or costly. And the sheriff of Santa Cruz County, on the Arizona side of the border, says while he welcomes the state's effort to secure the region, it's an expensive project and he has enough manpower and infrastructure for his needs.

Last Friday, USA Today published a lengthy story analyzing the crime rates in the states that border Mexico, finding

...rates of violent crime along the U.S.-Mexico border have been falling for years — even before the U.S. security buildup that has included thousands of law enforcement officers and expansion of a massive fence along the border.

U.S. border cities were statistically safer on average than other cities in their states. Those border cities, big and small, have maintained lower crime rates than the national average, which itself has been falling.