Funds for the new border fence with Mexico running dry
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President Bush’s controversial 670-mile fence project along the U.S.-Mexico border has run short of cash, according to this report from the Associated Press.
The Bush administration needs an extra $400 million to complete its fence along the country’s southwestern border, and government investigators say that may not even be enough to finish construction by the end of this year. To complete the 670-mile fence — already half built — the administration has asked Congress to approve the use of $400 million that was set aside for surveillance technology projects along the U.S.-Mexico border, Jayson Ahern, the deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, told the Associated Press on Tuesday. Higher costs of fuel, steel and labor have led to the $400-million shortfall, Ahern said. ‘If we run out of money, unfortunately the construction will have to stop,’ Ahern said. He said it is not known exactly how much extra it will cost to build each mile of the fence, because the costs differ due to varying terrain and environmental issues.
The border fence project — part of the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to slow the flow of migrants from Latin America — has a lot of political support within the United States. But opponents contend that the fence cuts into private property, threatens the border region’s environment and makes a harsh political statement.
The Dallas Morning News reported in May that a group of Texas cities and business groups was suing the department to stop the construction of the border fence. Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, one of the architects of the border wall project, drew boos from residents in Brownsville, Texas, at a public meeting on the subject, earlier this year.
Brownsville Mayor Pat Ahumada called the congressman a bigot, and said that the border wall project was a ‘racist thing.’
‘They’re afraid of us Mexicans taking over politically, I think,’ he said in a television interview with KGBT.
Legal challenges to the fence by environmentalists, rebuffed by the Supreme Court, argued that officials skirted at least 20 laws and regulations — many of them environmental protection rules — to complete a section in Arizona.
Now a funding shortage could stall the project. Ahern is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill today about the fence’s funding shortfalls.
— Deborah Bonello in Mexico City