Past Features

September 16, 2015

The Brookings Border Report
Esteemed Institution Needs Correction

Glenn Spencer interviews Muriel Watson of "Light Up the Border."
She explains how her group got the San Diego fence to be built.
Vanda Felbab-Brown -- -- September 15, 2015   
Something there is that doesn't love a wall: Mexico and the U.S. presidential campaign
    Immigration issues and Mexico have once again become hot topics in the U.S. presidential race. And, emotions and drama often do “Trump” facts and analysis. Some crucial corrections are in order
    A border fence will not eliminate illegal immigration into the United States. Fences mostly redirect migration or change border-crossing patterns. For example, the Bill Clinton-era “Operation Gatekeeper,” which was designed to make it harder for immigrants to cross over into urban areas along the U.S.-Mexican border, moved the illegal traffic into the ecologically fragile remote areas of the southwestern desert. [...]
    A full-length fence along the Mexican border is estimated to costs some $285 billion; in other words, each U.S. taxpayer would have to pay around $900 in new taxes. [...]
    In addition to being the third largest U.S. trade partner (after China and Canada)...

Glenn Spencer -- American Border Patrol
Crucial Corrections of Brookings
    Vanda Felbab-Brown tells us that Operation Gatekeeper was aimed at moving migrants to the desert. Even Wikipedia got it all wrong: "Operation Gatekeeper was announced in Los Angeles on September 17, 1994, by U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, and was launched two weeks later on October 1”
    Nonsense --- as Muriel Watson explained to me in 2000, the fence at San Diego was the direct result of her “Light Up The Border” campaign. Citizens forced the government to do its job.
    Felbab-Brown tells us fences “... will not eliminate illegal immigration into the United States.” True, but as the San Diego fence proved, fences can sure cut the problem down to size.
Cost of Fence
    Vanda Felbab-Brown tells us that a border fence will cost $285 billion. A fence from EL Paso to San Diego would run about 700 miles and about 500 miles are really needed. At $4 million a mile the cost would be $2 billion. Let's double that and say $4 billion. Texas is the problem. Fences can be build atop the levee that parallels the Rio Grande for a fraction of the cost of a fence along the border next to the river. A system of sensors and fences could protect a nine hundred mile border for a about $5 million a mile - or about $5 billion. Double that and we have a total cost of the entire fence at $14 billion - a far cry from $285 billion.
Trade With Mexico
   Vanda Felbab-Brown tells us that Mexico is our third largest trading partner. She doesn't tell us that we are trading with ourselves and that NAFTA is a failure.
    Vanda Felbab-Brown's report follows a well-established tradition in border reporting - false and misleading.