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Week of 7.3.09

Obama's Border Fence

The U.S.-Mexico border fence—are private contractors making billions on a project that won't even work?

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In 2006, Congress authorized the Secure Fence Act—a multi-billion dollar plan to build hundreds of miles of fencing along the southern border of the U.S. The plan has been billed as the way to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants and provide security from potential terrorism.

Clip: The Wall
Video iconVideo: 'The Wall'
Arizona residents share what's wrong with the fence built in their yard.
(From The Border Wall, a film by Wayne Ewing)
But what was built to fight illegal immigration has turned into a nightmare for many Americans living along the U.S.-Mexico border. The fence, which will cover less than half of the actual border, inexplicably cuts through the middle of some properties, while leaving others untouched. Many question if it can keep people from sneaking in at all.

An even greater worry may be the virtual fence the Obama administration is planning for the remaining 1,300 miles of border, at an estimated cost of nearly $7 billion. The problem? The new technology to complete the virtual fence has not been proven to work in the field.

This week, NOW Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa travels to Texas to meet border families who fear losing their property, their safety, and their way of life.

This is an update to our show The Border Fence.

Web Feature

Issue Clash: Illegal Immigration
Activists on both sides of the fence debate illegal immigration in America.
Related Links

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Border Fence Environmental Planning

U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Border Security

In the News

The Associated Press: NM ranchers worry that sick cows could cross to US

Democracy Now!: Holes in the Wall: Texas Border Wall Bypassing Wealthy Residents with Bush Admin Ties

FOX News: Supreme Court Rejects Case to Stop U.S.-Mexico Border Fence

NPR: Border Tribe in Midst of Drug Smuggling 'Crisis'

Newsweek: A Fence Can't Stop the Future

The New York Times: Work Under Way on 'Virtual Fence'

The Washington Post: Virtual Fence Gets a Do-Over

Viewer Comments

Commenter: New World Order
When people quote "Give me your tired,your poor"...they
always forget the last sentence,"come in thur the golden door".Not the back door in the wee hours of the night.
You could have a bucket of hundred dollar bills and give them out all day.What happens when you run out.
California has run out.
Time is running out on you to stop the partisan bickering,and study about the NWO.Its not a conspiracy.
Conspiracy has become a word for the brainwashed masses
(think TV) to tune out to things that are really happening behind the curtain.Its an agenda people.
Ive seen people on the left and right "wake up" to
whats really happening.
Do you ever wonder why things are as they are?I got answers as i began to study,and if you are a truth
seeker,start out at rest of you sheep go back to sleep.

Commenter: TheJames Higgins
THE fence makes the US an elitist Gated community and is the same as the Israel and berlin walls. Also it's an assault on the ecology of the southwest and all for no real gain! Let it be as discredited with the rest of the Bush ideology and practice ie torture and rendition. All of these things are equally repulsive and have the opposite of the intended impact!

Commenter: Emmakat

Commenter: Jack D.
This was an incredibly biased show. Foes of illegal immigration are labeled "hardliners." There is no effort to show the cost of illegal immigration, which is bankrupting my home state of Californa. On a side note, Obama seems pretty conservative in this clipâI wish some on the right would hear his speech at 1:22. He doesn't sound at all like a left-wing lunatic.

Commenter: Jay
It a sham your story on the boarder fence was so one sided

Commenter: Kristina
Thanks for covering this story, which is neglected by the media at large. This subject is tricky and the government should keep the progress completely transparent. I hadn't heard about Boeing's self-auditing and I am appreciative that you have reported it.

Commenter: Ken
It's really disappointing that there will be holes in the fence. It's clearly needed, although they should have straggled the border closer, so that the family wouldn't have to lose more of their land than minimally possible.

Commenter: jesse taylor
time for american revolution part #2

Commenter: Collin
Bush was right. The best way to prevent illegal immigration is to destroy our economy. If we send our economy down the drain, there will be no illegal immigrants trying to come in here. Bush 2012!

Commenter: John R. Goodson
This Now episode doesn't even talk about the problems caused by the Narco-trafficers. Whole communities along both sides of the boarder are held hostage by these people.

Commenter: Lawrence Shotland
I've been a loyal viewer of NOW from its beginning
with Bill Moyers. I'm disturbed by repeated shows
on NOW that are biased and one-sided on the
immigration issue. In particular, proponents of
border security are depicted as racist or jingoist.
This ignores the sincerity and validity of their
point of view, which is shared by the majority of
Americans. We all descend from immigrants; my
parents and grandparents followed the rules and
waited for years (because of small quotas).
Several points :
1) The majority of the American people are concerned
about illegal immigration and border security. It
is the political class and special interests who
ignore the will of the people and encourage a
huge flow of people and contraband across our
southern border.
2) The open border is a huge security risk with
respect to terrorism, violent criminal gangs,
and huge drug traffic.
3) With 6 million Americans having recently lost
their jobs and unemployment approaching 10%,
the arguments that we "need the labor" and
"Americans won't do those jobs" is more
ludicrous than ever before.
4) Mexico has had severe problems for most of its
history. The upper classes have held power
brutally for almost all of Mexico's history.
Corruption has hampered economic growth. Mexico
has one of the highest population growth rates
in the world, far exceeding their economic growth
rate. Hence, the average Mexican is getting
poorer and poorer. How many Mexicans can we
absorb? 10 Million, 20 Million, 50 Million?
With open borders, the movement of people will
be unlimited as Mexico continues to deteriorate.
The ruling classes there are happy to dump their
poor into the U.S. The U.S. economy is shrinking
and we just can't carry so many poor people.
5) The huge numbers of poor people coming across
from Mexico has already severely affected life
in America. California is going bankrupt -
half their education costs and prison costs
and emergency room costs take care of
immigrants. Several trauma centers there have
closed because they couldn't afford the huge
growth in demand. California has proved it can't
afford it. Obama wants to provide medical care
for tens of millions of uninsured. It's been
impossible to achieve for decades. If we will
have to provide medical care for an additional 30
million Mexicans soon and 50 million later, how
can we ever fix our medical system?
6) 70% of America's population growth is from
immigrants and their next generation. As we
struggle against global warming, urban sprawl,
and other environmental problems, can we
achieve our goals if we add 50 million extra
mostly poor, uneducated people by mid-century?
7) With respect to your latest show, you didn't
show the great devastation caused by high
traffic in public parks and private ranches in
numerous border areas. Many ranchers feel
over-run by the high numbers camping out on
their property, dumping trash, and even stealing
supplies. They feel their government is not
protecting them, their property, and their rights.

There are many other serious problems stemming from
this issue. The great Cezar Chavez and the heroic
Barbara Jordan both spoke out against illegal
immigration decades ago and warned of its
consequences; they certainly were not racist or
jingoist! Even if you disagree with people with
my beliefs, you should recognize that my views are
rational and sincere. I believe we should solve
our environmental problems and take care of our
poor and fix our education system. We should
not expand those problems beyond possibility of

Lawrence Shotland
Hanover, Pa.

Commenter: Dr. Hernandez
I believe President Obama will reassess and rectify this problem by stopping all border fence building. As a Hispanic, who voted for President Obama, I am retired educator and Vietnam Veteran who served with the United States Marine Corps. No person is qualified to respond on behalf of Hispanics except us, as our" skin color ranges from chocolate dark, looking" to white. Racial profiling and making "hate crime" statements are fabrication that Hispanic Americans in Texas and the United States are illegal and unacceptable. History is clear, that the "invisible" Northern Border and its Canada citizens are accepted as warm and friendly neighbors, and not with hostility and bigotry our Mexican citizens, because of skin color and language, that Texas and other State Border residents have to endure.

Commenter: Miriam Michael
I listened to your program about border control and the fence in South Texas. The reporter glossed over the actual location of the surveyed border. One wonders if the ommission was intentional to generate sympathy for farmers whose property was actually located in Mexico where they pay no property taxes and would have no interest in having a survey. My casual take on this is that the USA conducted real estate surveys and determined where the actual fence should lie, based on the location of the American/Mexican border.

Commenter: veronica

Commenter: Hans Giesholt
What you are saying about Congress trying to fix immigration is a bunch of nonsense. All the US government has to do is enforce the law. Once again the story is spun. E-verify and prosecution of illegals and cutting off benefits. These laws are on the books and our government fails to enforce the law. They are Illegal and that is braking the law. So enough is enough!

Commenter: Elsa Bondar
Why is it Obama's Fence? It was ordered, designed planned for, funded and begun under the Bush Republican Administration.
Whatever happened to the "Give me your tired, poor, huddled masses" ideal from the Statue of Liberty?
This thing should be ended, with the money spent on Education at all levels, to prepare our citizens for the jobs of the future.
Get rid of this Bush Administration leftover.

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