About that anti-illegal immigration fence along the Mexican border…

You know the one I’m talking about. The one the Republicans are always crying about not being finished. The one that prompted John McCain to put out a campaign ad where he promised that he’d “complete the danged fence.” It even shows up in the background in his commercial. The one that costs about $4 million dollars per mile to build and that’ll cost us some $6.5 billion to maintain over the next 20 years.

Yeah, that one.

Ever wondered how effective it is in keeping illegal aliens out? Here’s two average height American girls putting it to the test:

Hoo boy! I sure sleep better at night knowing it takes illegals an extra 20 seconds or so to get into the country. What an efficient use of taxpayer money that is, eh? The Republican’s have got to be mighty proud at how such a simple solution utterly fails to do what they said it would and at such an exorbitant price!

Wait, did I say that last bit out loud?

10 thoughts on “About that anti-illegal immigration fence along the Mexican border…

  1. I would like to know where you got your statistics on cost, both per mile and cost over the next 20 years.

    Thank you

  2. I took the numbers from the video, obviously, but they really aren’t that hard to track down using Google.

    Just so you can’t accuse me of using Liberal news sources, here’s a link to a 2006 article at ultra-conservative news site NewsMax about the cost which reports it as being “at least $3 million per mile” or, more precisely, $568.18 per foot. They go on to report:

    A 14-mile, 15-foot-high double fence is now under construction near San Diego. Roughly $39 million has been spent on the project so far, and Homeland Security plans to spend $35 million more.

    “If that $74 million is enough to finish the job [Border Patrol says the cost could keep rising] and the price is multiplied over the proposed 700 miles, the new fence could run $3.7 billion,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

    “Even that estimate doesn’t take into account the expense of purchasing or condemning many miles of privately owned land abutting the border or of potential legal challenges.”

    At $3.7 billion, the 700-mile fence would cost $5.28 million per mile – or an astounding $1,000 per foot.

    According to this 2007 article at SFGate.com, the estimated cost of maintaining the fence over its 25 year lifespan could be even higher than claimed in the video I posted:

    The cost of building and maintaining a double set of steel fences along 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border could be five to 25 times greater than congressional leaders forecast last year, or as much as $49 billion over the expected 25-year life span of the fence, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

    A little-noticed study the research service released in December notes that even the $49 billion does not include the expense of acquiring private land along hundreds of miles of border or the cost of labor if the job is done by private contractors — both of which could drive the price billions of dollars higher.

    You should note that that’s only the cost for 700 miles of the fence near San Diego and not the entire 1,952-mile border.

    Or, if you prefer, you can always look to this 2009 report(PDF File) from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) whose job it is to report on what government projects will cost:

    CBP had completed about 73 miles of primary SBI fencing costing approximately $198 million as of September 30, 2007, and about 215 miles of fencing costing about $625 million as of October 31, 2008. Seventy-one of the miles completed as of September 30, 2007, were pedestrian fencing completed at costs ranging from $400,000 to $4.8 million per mile and averaging $2.8 million per mile. CBP had also finished about 2 miles of vehicle fencing at a cost of $2.8 million. Pedestrian fencing accounted for 140 of the miles that CBP had completed as of October 31, 2008, with costs ranging from $400,000 to $15.1 million per mile for an average of $3.9 million per mile. Seventy-five of the miles were vehicle fencing and costs ranged from $200,000 to $1.8 million per mile, averaging $1.0 million per mile. The per mile costs to build the fencing varied considerably because of the type of fencing, topography, materials used, land acquisition costs, and labor costs, among other things.

    As of October 31, 2008, CBP reported that approximately 32 miles of secondary fence existed along the southwest border and about 18 of those miles had an average construction cost of $2 million per mile. CBP officials said that they do not have cost information for the remaining miles because they were constructed by the International Boundary and Water Commission. In addition, CBP had obligated $58 million of fiscal year 2008 funding on a 3.5-mile secondary fencing project in the San Diego sector that is to be completed in calendar year 2009.

    Will that suffice?

  3. Thank you. It was obvious that the numbers came from the video but I for some reason I thought you were the creator of the video, which after going to the youtube page I realized u were not.

    As a side note, why are you so defensive right away? I’ve not visited your blog before so I am not sure if you are just used to being accused of things but I made no such accusation, nor was on inferred. I have not done much research into the border issues and have formulated no opinion about any options.

  4. I didn’t think I was being particularly defensive, just proactive.

    I’ve been running this blog for almost a decade now and I’ve gotten used to putting in the work to cite sources only to have them brushed off because I didn’t get them from a source the person I’m replying to agreed with. So I tend to attempt to cut that criticism off from the start.

  5. When I posted this on Facebook.. One of my friends told me “I’d be more impressed if the girls were about 15 years older, carried their children, clothes, food and water,.. etc.

    My first thought was… Look at the fence, almost all of that stuff woudl fit right through the openings!

  6. I’m impressed. They’ve managed to spend millions of dollars per mile on fence that you don’t even need a ladder to climb. Although I think it might have been more effective to bury a few million dollars in small bills every mile. This way the contractor still gets paid, the immigrants have a chance to fund their new life and the border patrol actually has a chance to catch them.

  7. MV:

    You would still need signs (in Espanol) to advise the crossers that money was buried, but that seems to be a really good idea.



  8. Penn and Teller had a good episode on this subject. The notion that a wall will solve our problems is a prime example of how deluded the Republican base is.

    The Great Wall of China worked well, didn’t it? Not to equate Mexicans looking for honest work in America to raiding Mongol armies… though I’m sure Republicans will be sure to make that comparison.

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