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Oct-26-2006 11:18TweetFollow @OregonNews
Bush Signs New Border Fence Into LawSalem-News.com
Critics call it is a reincarnation of the Iron Curtain, Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, and The Great Wall of China.
(WASHINGTON D.C.) - A 700-mile long fence along the Mexican border was approved today at the nation's capitol. The President says the wall will help to deter illegal immigration from the countries south of the United States.
Bush signed the bill into law at a White House ceremony. He says the planned barrier will be a double fence with a strip in the middle where border guards can patrol. He calls it "an important step in our nation's efforts to secure our border."
The high-tech wall will include surveillance cameras, infrared sensors, satellites and ground radar.
In facing critics, the administration points to success that a similar wall on a limited stretch of fence near San Diego has been successful in stemming the tide of illegal immigration.
Salem, Oregon resident James Santana recently bicycled 800 miles along the U.S.-Mexico border, camping in the desert to experience the inhospitable terrain and sleeping in migrant shelters to listen to people preparing to risk undocumented entry into the U.S.
Santana's "moment of clarity" was during a radio program reporting 11 undocumented immigrants found dead in an Iowa rail car. The interviewer asked an Iowa resident why he thought people would risk so much to come to the United States, and the man responded, "Well, when your daughter is crying because she is hungry and you have nothing to give her to eat, I think that would be a good reason."
Santana noted that Mexico is facing mass undocumented migration on their southern border with Guatemala, where many poor Central Americans with dreams for the United States enter illegally then end up staying in Mexico, where pay is higher than in Central America.
Earlier in October, Bush signed a measure into effect that doubles the number of US border patrol agents to 18,000 by 2008. He also authorized the first funds, 1.2 billion dollars, for the 6-billion-dollar fence project.
Critics say illegal migrants will still cross the border. It will certainly become more dangerous for families journeying northward, but will do little to impact those who overstay their visas. They say it would enrich the smuggling of people and they say it complicates relations between the US and Mexico.
Mexican President-elect Felipe Calderon has denounced the border fence. The President says it will not work. Mexican officials are comparing it to the Berlin Wall.
Bush's proposals for broader immigration reform include a guest worker program, and efforts to bring legal residency to an estimated 11 million residents in the US. That effort however is stuck in Congress.
In terms of numbers, officials estimate that approximately 1.2 million people were arrested last year alone for entering the US illegally. Most of those arrests were made in the Southwest desert areas in Arizona and New Mexico. They say another half a million people illegally entering the U.S. escape detection every year.
US Senator Edward Kennedy says Bush is using a populist tactic to help Republicans keep control of both the house and senate in upcoming November 7th elections.
Interestingly, the Canadians could see similar border tactics in the future. A US government study has been launched to determine whether the nation needs and could build "a state of-the-art infrastructure security system" along the northern border.
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