Dueling fence bills coming up in Congress

posted at 1:35 pm on April 27, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Expect some fireworks on border-security and immigration issues in this session of Congress, even apart from the swine-flu outbreak in Mexico.  Competing bills have surfaced in the House, one which would demand more resources to building the border fence — and the other that would slow or stop fence construction altogether.  It might help first to define exactly what a fence is:

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) introduced legislation to speed up completion of the Mexico-U.S. border fence, mandating an additional 350 miles of fencing by within a year. It’s often reported that over 600 miles of the originally-required 700 miles of fencing have been completed. That’s true, but half of the current fence is designed to stop vehicles, rather than pedestrians. Conservatives contend vehicle fencing–including bollards or poles set several feet apart–do not stop illegal immigrants on foot.

“That figure is misleading because over half the infrastructure along the border consists of vehicle barriers, which do not limit illegal foot traffic,” said Joe Kasper, a spokesman for Hunter.

Besides mandating additional pedestrian fence construction, Hunter’s bill would increase sentencing for weapons smuggling, punish so-called “sanctuary cities,” and require all employers to electronically verify the immigration status of employees.

Meanwhile, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) has introduced a bill to SLOW construction of the border fence, citing concerns over environmental damage and tribal sovereignty. The bill would require more consultation with state and local governments, public notification, and stricter enforcement of environmental regulations.

More than seven years after 9/11, and more than four years after the 9/11 Commission demanded immediate action to secure America’s borders, the political class still has not finished what should be the most basic of all security protections.  When Congress finally demanded and funded construction of a border fence, it assumed that the definition of “fence” was not “gate”.  Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security has as much problem understanding the definition of “fence” as it does “threat”, at least when it comes to conservative political debate.

Grijalva’s bill would make it even worse.  The federal government has few explicitly Constitutional tasks, but one of them is securing the nation’s borders.  In that pursuit, they do not need to worry about their own environmental regulations, an area of government which should be handled by states in most instances anyway.  The original bill understood that and waived those regulatory hurdles for a reason, and that reason was that they didn’t want the EPA politicizing the border-security issue.

Tribal sovereignty does not trump the Constitution or the national borders, either.  We can debate the wisdom of the reservation system and whether we should continue it or look for a better solution, but it’s entirely irrelevant to border security and federal authority anyway.  Grijalva just wants to throw as many roadblocks in front of the fence as possible, and he’s using tribal sovereignty as a red herring.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

Look at the Railroad tun

nels through Colordo… many built in the 1800’s… and we can’t build a stinkin FENCE now?

Romeo13 on April 27, 2009 at 3:33 PM

Then:

Private industries competing with one another for capital gains.

Now:

1.) Govt.
2.) Recall the Swiftian town of Laputa.

cadetwithchips2 on April 27, 2009 at 4:17 PM

is

kirkill on April 27, 2009 at 4:19 PM

Meanwhile, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) has introduced a bill to SLOW construction of the border fence, citing concerns over environmental damage and tribal sovereignty.

I’m sure this is the kind of environmental damage he is concerned with.

/sarc

AZ_Mike on April 27, 2009 at 4:22 PM

As I understand it (and I’m no expert), this flu triggers an immune system response that can cause an overabundance of congestion in people with very strong immune systems (typically, healthy people in the 20-44 age range). They end up dying of pneumonia, as their lungs fill up. It’s ironic that the healthier you are, the harder it hits you.

AZCoyote on April 27, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Might be even worse then that.

Swine, Bird and Human DNA. Gotta love cloning and playing God with science.

upinak on April 27, 2009 at 4:22 PM

How about autonomous UAV’s with free-fire zones around our southern border, except on preapproved routes? (like roads leading to regular border checkpoints) You enter the zones at your own $%^& risk.

Dark-Star on April 27, 2009 at 4:32 PM

I’m in Massachusetts – full of illegals and sanctuary cities. Our governor has “forbidden” the Feds from conducting raids. And our law enforcement is not allowed to ask anyone their immigration status. Yes, we need a fence But we also need the will to enforce existing laws. They are flying in, with and without visas, overstaying, having children, etc. And who can blame them? If I was in Mexico or Brazil, I’d be swimming north.

But aside from a fence, we need common sense immigration law, not pc plicies. Other nations are screening everyone getting off a plane – we’re afraid of offending someone.

More info than any of you need but we have a family at our parish/school here for the year so the kids can learn English (irony noted) and they flew in last night from Mexico city after our Spring Break and they have voluntarily quarantined themselves! (The father is a doctor so there is awareness.) But you have to respect the concern and consideration. Why can’t we keep this family and send another back?

As to why the fence and the flu are related- One, I imagine the numbers in Mexico are much higher than reported and we won’t get a true picture until it’s over and bodies are counted. Two, as it spreads closer to the border, I believe people will panic and try to get here for the health care – I would especially if I had kids. Three, the fence would help with containment (not prevent the spread completely) and this is simply another example of why we should have it.

I am interested in how the constituents of Rep. Grijalva feel about his proposal. Their tax dollars are being used to chase down, hold, feed, educate, house, etc so many of the people coming over the border, not to mention the crime rate along the border.

gopmom on April 27, 2009 at 5:27 PM

I live in southern Commiefornia where if you ask if the landscapers in your housing association are legal or illegal, idiots leave a note on your door to “mind your own business”. Contractors have to guard their work sites at night with shotguns to keep illegal aliens from destroying their work and work vehicles and to keep illegals from stealing their building materials. Illegal aliens here threaten LEGAL construction crews with death if they don’t leave the job sites so they can take over those jobs.
I have to laugh EVERY time an illegal alien’s van or truck mysteriously catches fire and burns up.

nelsonknows on April 27, 2009 at 6:02 PM

I think mine fields get an unfair bad rap. I’m just sayin.’

Star20 on April 27, 2009 at 6:14 PM

You know, I would think that the Dems/Libs would be all for a fence on both borders. After all, they’re going to need some way to keep us all here.

mrsmwp on April 27, 2009 at 9:00 PM

mrsmwp,

I think other countries will accept American “boat people,” because they will be the ones paying taxes, now.

Star20 on April 27, 2009 at 9:18 PM

Borders are so last century administration. They aren’t hopey changey at all.

Seriously, if Uhhhbama wants to do the opposite of Bush on every issue, wouldn’t he want to enforce immigration laws and seal the border?

darwin-t on April 27, 2009 at 9:50 PM

More than seven years after 9/11, and more than four years after the 9/11 Commission demanded immediate action to secure America’s borders, the political class still has not finished what should be the most basic of all security protections.

When thinking about the politicizing of issues preventing anything from being accomplished,top on my list is still the fact that there is still nothing accomplished,nothing standing to show how we have overcome,nothing to show how much we remember and respect the lives lost in the trade towers on 9/11.

Securing our borders is a no brainer.

Not having a “real” memorial and new Towers built 8 years after 9/11 is a dam# disgrace.

Baxter Greene on April 27, 2009 at 10:14 PM

.

Anything we try to do, smugglers will find a way to counter in a few weeks.

cadetwithchips2 on April 27, 2009 at 4:11 PM

Lead, follow, or get the Hell out of the way.
- George S. Patton

MB4 on April 27, 2009 at 10:22 PM

Anything we try to do, smugglers will find a way to counter in a few weeks.

cadetwithchips2 on April 27, 2009 at 4:11 PM

Then how about we make the consequences a little more fatal for them? No smuggler can counter having a new hole punched through their vitals.

Oops, forgot, our national spine has gone missing. Never mind.

Dark-Star on April 28, 2009 at 10:18 AM

Comment pages: 1 2