Here is an excerpt from Alia Beard Rau's article in The Arizona Republic:
"Supporters of increased border enforcement now can help Arizona build its own fence along the Mexico border. new law went into effect today that allows the state to build the fence, as long as it can raise enough private donations and persuade public and private landowners to let it be done on their property. A new website for the effort, www.buildtheborderfence.com, was set to go online at midnight... State lawmakers who supported the law have said they want a consistent fence along the entire border that is solid, has multiple layers and is tall enough to keep out pedestrians... The Sierra Club opposes the law. It says Arizona already has more border walls than any other state and that the walls have caused flooding in some areas and have blocked wildlife in other areas." Link to Full Article
Analysis: This is one of the more interesting ideas I've seen regarding border security in a while, although I'm sure it won't be without controversy. I have mixed feelings about the concept of a border fence, and have generally agreed with DHS Secretary Napolitano's statement, "Show me a 50-foot fence and I'll show you a 51-foot ladder." Or something to that effect.
On my recent trip to San Diego, I saw the newest iteration of border fence in the San Ysidro area separating the US from Tijuana, and it certainly looked high-tech. It definitely dwarfed the primary fence, which was a ten-foot rusted-out relic that could serve only as a five-minute deterrent. The new fence, bathed in stadium lighting and topped with razor wire, looked at first sight as impossibly tall and quite imposing. Then I saw the dozens of holes that had been patched up, and it no longer looked so impenetrable.
But in southwest California, like in Arizona, the secondary fence isn't consistent in size or construction. The have another type of fence that consists of tall, tightly-spaced metal columns with a top that angles out over the Mexican side to discourage climbers. Yes, it does allow for free water flow and the passage of small critters back and forth. However, any migratory animal bigger than a cocker spaniel would have a hard time getting back and forth. Still, for the purpose of preventing "pedestrian and vehicle traffic," the polite way of referring to drug and human smugglers, it looked very effective.
But even if private donations are raised in sufficient quantities to finish the Arizona fence, is it a good idea? I will say, of all the southwest border states to implement such a law, the home of SB 1070 is the place to do it with success. There are enough angry ranchers and border residents who are tired of having their land traipsed on and their homes burglarized by smugglers to make this happen. Also, Arizona is one of the most dangerous human smuggling corridors, claiming the lives of hundreds - if not thousands - of migrants every year. Perhaps if word of a contiguous border fence in Arizona got out, migrants would be forced to use a different, and perhaps safer, route of passage.
That in and of itself, however, might pose a greater danger. There are still several stretches of unfenced border in California and Texas that are dangerous, due to both environmental factors and bandits who prey on migrants. The cost to migrants who have to pay coyotes would probably go up due to having to go around the Arizona fence. But isn't this the point? To deter illegal immigration and drug smuggling into Arizona? Admittedly, those are nice benefits, but there are human costs to be considered.
I can't deny that, after having seen it myself and listening to a Border Patrol agent tell me about it, a border fence acts as a significant deterrent. It doesn't completely stop illegal immigrants or drug smugglers, but it slows them down enough to allow USBP to respond more effectively. The agency is also receiving more funding to pave border roads and acquire all-terrain vehicles, which greatly improves their response time. This, combined with better fencing, does improve border security. Thus, another question is raised. Can USBP in Arizona take advantage of a privately funded border fence with a corresponding reduction in response time?
There are a few problems I see with that. First, the fence is going to have to sit on some private land, go through tribal reservations, federal lands, and probably go around some environmentally protected areas. What kind of hoops will the Border Patrol have to go through in order to access these areas, especially if they're between the fence and the actual US-Mexico border?
Well, let's not put the cart before the horse. First, the donations have to come in, then a fence builder has to be found, a contract written, etc., before anything can be built. Considering how these things go - and how many years it took to build the scant few hundred miles of border fence we currently have - I don't see a huge rush to have these questions addressed. Just some points to ponder.