The Senate bill to build 700 mile for fence passed the Senate by an overwhelming majority of 80-19. 26 Democrats joined with 54 Republicans to approve the measure. The president has indicated that he will sign the bill. Mexico is protesting that they will now find it more difficult to dump their social and economic problems on the US.
Mexico's foreign affairs secretary, Luis Ernesto Derbez, told reporters in Mexico City yesterday that his country plans to send a letter strongly condemning the measure in an effort to dissuade Bush from signing the bill.
If fully constructed, the fence would span a distance equivalent to the distance between Washington and Jacksonville, Fla.
The Secure Fence Act authorizes the construction of at least two layers of reinforced fencing around the border town of Tecate, Calif., and a huge expanse stretching from Calexico, Calif., to Douglas, Ariz. — virtually the entire length of Arizona's border with Mexico. Another expanse would stretch over much of the southern border of New Mexico, with another section winding through Texas, from Del Rio to Eagle Pass, and from Laredo to Brownsville.
The Department of Homeland Security would be required to install an intricate network of surveillance cameras on the Arizona border by May 30, 2007, with the entire fence set for completion by the end of 2008.
Under the measure, the secretary of homeland security would have 18 months to achieve "operational control" of the U.S. frontier, using unmanned aerial vehicles, ground-based sensors, satellites, radar and cameras to prevent all unlawful U.S. entries. Fortifying those requirements, Congress approved $1.2 billion in a separate homeland security spending bill to bankroll the fence.
That figure, however, is only a down payment and falls far short of the $6 billion the fence is expected to cost. Lawmakers from both parties conceded that even at 700 miles in length, the barrier would leave nearly 1,300 miles of border uncovered.
It is at least a start. There will be a lot of relieved people in Arizona right about now. They really have been under siege down there. Bill Frist pulled a rabbit out of the hat to get this one through. But note the margin the bill passed with. Democrats knew full well that this bill put them in a horrible position. They can read the polls (too often, sadly) and know full well an overwhelming majority in this country want something done about that border.