Argument: Some fences fail to stop illegals only because they are for stopping drugs

Issue Report: US-Mexico Border Wall


  • Foreign Policy Sept/Oct 2006, Peter Skerry of the Brookings Institute, “How Not to Build a Fence” – “Perhaps most revealing about both fences is what they lack. For example, nowhere on the primary fence, sitting directly at the border, is there a south-facing flange—out of concern that it would offend Mexico. Nor is there any barbed or razor wire on either fence. Again, the contrast with Israel’s security fence is striking. Although most of that structure is a chain-link fence outfitted with sophisticated electronics, the Israeli Ministry of Defense still relies on razor wire to stop potential terrorists from making the climb…There is even less of a “filter” in more remote areas. In the sparsely populated eastern half of San Diego County, there is no secondary fence, only the primary fence. For several miles, it runs only 5 feet high…a rail fence does little to stop the free movement of illegal immigrants. Does this mean that the whole reason for building the fence was forgotten amid all the bureaucratic jockeying? No, because as it turns out, the primary rationale for building the entire border fence was never about stopping illegal immigrants. It had more to do with the interdiction of illegal drugs, a policy goal for which there was much more political consensus…when the primary fence was first built in the early 1990s, choices had to be made. The result was a rail barrier in eastern San Diego County that can stop a drug smuggler’s 4 x 4 vehicle, but not illegal aliens on foot.”