To much fanfair pResident Bush play-acted that he was signing a bill into law authorizing a 700-mile, $1.2 billion fence along the Mexico-United States border Wednesday. But wait! What does that law really do? And what will GOP lawmakers do to ensure the continued flow of illegals to meat packing plants, vegetable farms and hotel and fast food restaurants?
GOP leaders have singled out the fence as one of the primary accomplishments of the recently completed session. Many lawmakers plan to highlight their $1.2 billion down payment on its construction as they campaign in the weeks before the midterm elections.You can bet that our diligent fourth-estate will widely report this follow-up story. If the Democrats win back the majority in both house of the federal Congress, you can also bet that, because of this deliberately flawed law, illegal immigration will come back to haunt them. The only way out of this dilemma is for this nation is for Congress and the president to authorize a Marshall-like plan to reinvigorate the economies of Mexico and Central America. Fences and prisons will never work.
But shortly before recessing late Friday, the House and Senate gave the Bush administration leeway to distribute the money to a combination of projects -- not just the physical barrier along the southern border. The funds may also be spent on roads, technology and "tactical infrastructure" to support the Department of Homeland Security's preferred option of a "virtual fence."
The loopholes leave the Bush administration with authority to decide where, when and how long a fence will be built, except for small stretches east of San Diego and in western Arizona. Homeland Security officials have proposed a fence half as long, lawmakers said.
The split between GOP leaders hungry for a sound-bite-friendly accomplishment targeting immigration and others who support a more comprehensive approach also means that the fence bill will be watered down when lawmakers return for a lame-duck session in November, according to congressional aides and lobbyists.
Spencer Hsu, Washington Post