For reasons I’ll never understand, some of my fellow conservative talk-show hosts have turned to that bible of liberalism – The Washington Post – to get the “facts” about the U.S.-Mexico border fence just authorized by Congress.
If they wanted to get the real story — and not the misleading one they read in the October 6 edition of the Post — they could easily have done what I did and called Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and the man who wrote the bill mandating the building of the 700-mile border fence.
Chairman Hunter knows what he is talking about. He also wrote a bill in the 1990s during the Clinton administration that created the 14-mile-long double fence in San Diego.
The new bill, he told me, uses the same language as his first bill and will have the same effect – the fence will be built despite the Post’s insistence that it won’t. The bill doesn’t say the fence will be built or may be built – it says flatly that it shall be built.
Here are the facts. In a story headlined “In Border Fence’s Path, Congressional Roadblocks,” the Post reported that as soon as Congress had authorized construction of a 700-mile border fence last week, members “rushed to approve separate legislation that ensures it will never be built, at least not as advertised, according to Republican lawmakers and immigration experts.”
According to the Post, “… the House and Senate gave the Bush administration leeway to distribute the money to a combination of projects — not just the physical barrier along the southern border. The funds may also be spent on roads, technology and ‘tactical infrastructure’ to support the Department of Homeland Security’s preferred option of a ‘virtual fence.’”
These so-called “loopholes”, the Post said, “leave the Bush administration with authority to decide where, when and how long a fence will be built, except for small stretches east of San Diego and in western Arizona. “
In other words, the Post interprets the bill as a scam meant to win votes but not really mandating that the 700-mile border fence would ever be built.
The truth, according to Duncan Hunter, is that the amendments, were passed because if they built the wall as described in the first bill they would have been building it through homes and other buildings.
So they needed to amend it to make sure that other people could have the discretion to build the wall around buildings instead of through buildings.
His press conference Wednesday, President Bush was asked: “Are you committed to building the 700 miles of fence, actual fencing?”
His answer? ” … We’re just going to make sure that we build it in a spot where it works … we’re actually building fence, and we’re building double fence in particular — in areas where there is a high vulnerability for people being able to sneak in.
“You can’t fence the entire border, but what you can do is you can use a combination of fencing and technology to make it easier for the Border Patrol to enforce our border … And so I look forward to not only implementing that which Congress has funded, in a way that says to folks, the American people, we’ll enforce our border.”
The president described the plan as “a combination of fencing and technologies — UAVs, sensors … You’ve got some rugged country; you’ve got stretches of territory where you don’t even know where the border is. You’ve got urban areas, like El Paso, or Southern California, where people have been able to sneak in by use of urban corridors. And so, therefore, fencing makes sense there.”
The president cited areas of the Arizona sector, where there are “literally neighborhoods abutting the border, and people come — a hundred of them would rush across the border into a little subdivision, and the Border Patrol would catch two or three, and 97 would get in.”
Buttressing Duncan Hunter’s claim, the president noted: “This border requires different assets based on the conditions — based upon what the terrain looks like. And that’s what we’re doing.”
Finally, If you want to make sure the fence is never built: vote Democrat on November 7.
©2006 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc. Cari Dawson Bartley email Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561.