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Border Security: Barriers Along the U.S. International Border
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Authors: Blas Nuñez-Neto and Michael John Garcia, 
Book Description:
Congress has repeatedly shown interest in examining and expanding the barriers being deployed along the U.S. international land border. The 109th Congress passed a number of laws affecting these barriers, and oversight of these laws and of the construction process may be of interest to the 110th Congress. The United States Border Patrol (USBP) deploys fencing, which aims to impede the illegal entry of individuals, and vehicle barriers, which aim to impede the illegal entry of vehicles (but not individuals) along the border. The USBP first began erecting barriers in 1990 to deter illegal entries and drug smuggling in its San Diego sector. The ensuing 14 mile-long San Diego “primary fence” formed part of the USBP’s “Prevention Through Deterrence” strategy, which called for reducing unauthorized migration by placing agents and resources directly on the border along population centers in order to deter would-be migrants from entering the country. In 1996, Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act which, among other things, explicitly gave the Attorney General (now the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security) broad authority to construct barriers along the border and authorized the construction of a secondary layer of fencing to buttress the completed 14 mile primary fence. Construction of the secondary fence stalled due to environmental concerns raised by the California Coastal Commission. In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act that authorized the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to waive all legal requirements in order to expedite the construction of border barriers. DHS has announced it will use this waiver authority to complete the San Diego fence. The Secure Fence Act of 2006 directed DHS to construct 850 miles of additional border fencing. This requirement was subsequently modified by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (P.L. 110-161), which was enacted into law on December 26, 2007. The act requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to construct fencing along not less than 700 miles of the southwest border. While the San Diego fence, combined with an increase in agents and other resources in the USBP’s San Diego sector, has proven effective in reducing the number of apprehensions made in that sector, there is considerable evidence that the flow of illegal immigration has adapted to this enforcement posture and has shifted to the more remote areas of the Arizona desert. Nationally, the USBP made 1.2 million apprehensions in 1992 and again in 2004, suggesting that the increased enforcement in San Diego sector has had little impact on overall apprehensions. In addition to border fencing, the USBP deploys both permanent and temporary vehicle barriers to the border. Temporary vehicle barriers are typically chained together and can be moved to different locations at the USBP’s discretion. Permanent vehicle barriers are embedded in the ground and are meant to remain in one location. A number of policy issues concerning border barriers generally and fencing specifically may be of interest to Congress, including, but not limited, to their effectiveness, costs versus benefits, location, design, environmental impact, potential diplomatic ramifications, and the costs of acquiring the land needed for construction.

Table of Contents:


The San Diego Border Primary Fence
Operation Gatekeeper
Sandia National Laboratory Study

Congressional Border Barrier Legislation
Section 102 of IIRIRA — Improvement of Barriers at the Border
Expansion of Waiver Authority under the REAL ID Act

The San Diego Sandia Fence
The California Coastal Commission
Current Status of the San Diego Triple Fence

The San Diego Fence and USBP Apprehensions

Border Barrier Construction
Steps Prior to Construction
Environmental Impact Assessments
Land Acquisition
Border Fence Construction Process and Funding
Types of Fences and Barriers
Landing Mat Fencing
Sandia Secondary Fence
Other Border Barriers: Vehicle Barriers
Permanent Vehicle Barriers
Temporary Vehicle Barriers
Current Status

Legislation in the 110th Congress
Enacted Legislation
Proposed Legislation

Legislation in the 109th Congress

Issues For Congress
Fence Design
Fence Location
Land Acquisition
Diplomatic Ramifications
Environmental Considerations
Legal Considerations
Unintended Consequences

Appendix I: Examples of USBP Border Fencing

Appendix II: The San Diego Fence

Appendix III: Permanent Vehicle Barrier Schematic

Appendix IV: Permanent Vehicle Barriers

Appendix V: Data From Figure 4

Appendix VI: Legal Requirements Waived by DHS for the Construction
of the San Diego Border Fence

Appendix VII: Legal Requirements Waived by DHS for the Construction
of Physical Barriers and Roads in the Vicinity of the
Barry M. Goldwater Range in Southwest Arizona

Appendix VIII: Legal Requirements Waived by DHS for the Construction
of Physical Barriers and Roads in the Vicinity of
the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation
Area in Southeast Arizona


   Binding: Softcover
   Pub. Date: 2009 1st Quarter
   ISBN: 978-1-60692-171-5
   Status: AV
Status Code Description
AN Announcing
FM Formatting
PP Page Proofs
FP Final Production
EP Editorial Production
PR At Prepress
AP At Press
AV Available
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