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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

The trouble the Senate has had with an immigration deal is not a surprise to commentator Jim Gilchrist. He's the founder of The Minuteman Project. It's has had a lot of attention in the last year for organizing civilians to patrol the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

He says that until a couple of months ago, he opposed building a wall along the entire Mexican border. Now Jim Gilchrist has changed his mind. He says he's lost confidence in lawmakers' ability to come up with a better solution to the problem of illegal immigration.

Mr. JIM GILCHRIST (Founder of Minuteman Project): The U.S.-Mexico border is 1,989 miles from San Diego, California to Brownsville, Texas. It's covered by a web of well-trodden trails, carved out by smugglers of drug and human cargo. It goes through desert highlands, mountain ranges and valleys of arid, sparsely vegetated desert and grassy plains.

Gusts of wind whip up the air into a choking yellow dust. Most of the way, a 30-foot-wide dirt road parallels a worn four-foot high barbed-wire fence. That's the legal dividing line between the United States and Mexico. Heaps of trash litter the ground on both sides of the border. Plastic bottles and jugs, clothing, backpacks, rusted cans that once held food. The border is an international public dump for the endless exodus of people coming north.

The border area appears as an unguarded, lawless wasteland of treacherous mountains and deserts, an open invitation to enter at will for illegal aliens and criminal cartels.

I have no confidence that the U.S. government has any intention of bringing the United States back under the rule of law insofar as immigration laws are concerned. I think that a physical barrier separating the United States and Mexico is now an appealing component of a multi-faceted solution to the invasion of the United States.

We need a 2,000-mile-long physical barrier from San Diego, California to Brownsville, Texas. It would include dual concrete and steel-reinforced walls 15 feet high and 10 feet deep into the ground. There would be a 60-foot-wide dirt road between them.

Stationery and mobile towers, staffed with border patrol agents, would provide a series of observation posts. High-tech video and sensor devices would be employed to detect any intrusion into the area between the dual walls, and sonar devices would randomly check for underground tunneling.

After the walls are erected, the healing process for nature would begin. Eventually, the millions of pounds of rubbish would be manually cleared. Wildlife and vegetation would spawn and return the areas to their natural habitat.

A 2,000-mile physical barrier would be the last resort for us to survive as a sovereign nation, our nation's final attempt to preserve its prosperity and domestic tranquility. And sadly, it would stand as a constant reminder of the failure of America's political and business leaders to stop an invasion of a magnitude unprecedented in the history of the United States. An invasion that threatens our heritage, culture, prosperity, domestic tranquility, governance under the rule of law and our very existence as a sovereign nation of assimilated Americans.

BLOCK: Jim Gilchrist is the founder of the Minuteman Project. We've been hearing a number of views on immigration this week. You can hear those essays and find details of the House of Representatives' plan to build a border fence at our web site, NPR.org.

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