The border fence with Mexico looms large in the ongoing debate over immigration. The Secure Fence Act of 2006, the “Where’s the Fence?” ad in 2007, John McCain’s “Complete the Danged Fence” ad in 2010, and the meretricious Corker-Hoeven amendment to last year’s Senate amnesty bill all point to the importance of border fences in the popular mind and the policy discussion.
Some hawks insist on fencing the entire border, while many enforcement opponents dismiss the very idea of fences, insisting that smugglers will scale them with impunity.
Neither position is correct, as became clear when I traveled earlier this month along the border in West Texas, from El Paso downriver to Big Bend National Park. The occasion was the Center for Immigration Studies’ annual border tour (cheaper than the NR Cruise! — but no all-you-can-eat buffet), and we saw that fencing works, but it isn’t needed everywhere.