US-Mexico Border Fence / Great Wall of Mexico
Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437)
On 16 December 2005 the US House of Representatives passed a new immigration bill, H.R. 4437, Border Protection, Antiterrorism, And Illegal Immigration Control Act Of 2005, by a recorded vote of 239 to 182. The bill was introduced by Representative Sensenbrenner (R-WI) on December 6, 2005. The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill on December 8 by a vote of 23-15. H.R. 4437 was received in the Senate for consideration on December 17, 2005.
It would erect a fence along one-third of the total length of the border with Mexico. Section 102(b) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-208; 8 U.S.C. 1103 note) was amended. The bill also includes a provision requiring the construction of security fencing along portions of the southern border that have high rates of illegal border crossing. Additionally, DHS was required to conduct a study and report back to Congress on the use of physical barriers along the Northern border. An amendment was adopted during consideration on the floor that requires the construction of an estimated $2.2 billion worth of fences along part of the southern border. The Secretary of Homeland Security was required to provide for least 2 layers of reinforced fencing, the installation of additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors at five locations:
- extending from 10 miles west of the Tecate, California, port of entry to 10 miles east of the Tecate, California, port of entry;
- extending from 10 miles west of the Calexico, California, port of entry to 5 miles east of the Douglas, Arizona, port of entry;
- extending from 5 miles west of the Columbus, New Mexico, port of entry to 10 miles east of El Paso, Texas;
- extending from 5 miles northwest of the Del Rio, Texas, port of entry to 5 miles southeast of the Eagle Pass, Texas, port of entry; and
- extending 15 miles northwest of the Laredo, Texas, port of entry to the Brownsville, Texas, port of entry.
Critics charge that the failure of similar fences in Spain and along the Hong Kong-China border suggest this barrier will do little or nothing to combat illegal immigration, but will certainly divert money from programs that could. A crackdown by Spain on illegal migrants crossing the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco shifted the traffic to Spain's Canary Islands. When Spain extended its maritime crackdown to the Canaries, migrants began pouring over border fences in Spain's enclaves on the North African coast.H.R. 4437 was strongly opposed by a broad range of organizations such as US Chamber of Commerce, American Immigration Lawyers Association, American Farm Bureau, National Association of Homebuilders, Catholic Charities USA, Associated Builders and Contractors, United Auto Workers, among others.
In 2006 the Senate considered a bill (S. 2454) to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for comprehensive reform, and for other purposes, and a bill (S. 2611) to provide for comprehensive immigration reform and for other purposes. Both bills double the size of the Border Patrol by adding 12,000 new agents. Both bills strengthen interior enforcement of immigration laws by adding 5,000 new immigration investigators. Both bills would take advantage of new technology to create a "virtual fence" at the border. Both bills would improve border controls by expanding entry-exit tracking. Both bills require the construction of new vehicle barriers and new permanent highway checkpoints near the border.
On 17 May 2006 the Senate voted 83-16 on S.2611 to build 370 miles of triple-layered fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers along the southern border. Under this amendment, the Homeland Security Secretary was required to replace all aged, deteriorating, or damaged primary fencing in the Tucson Sector located proximate to population centers in Douglas, Nogales, Naco, and Lukeville, Arizona with double- or triple-layered fencing running parallel to the international border between the United States and Mexico; extend the double- or triple-layered fencing for a distance of not less than 2 miles beyond urban areas, except that the double- or triple-layered fence shall extend west of Naco, Arizona, for a distance of 10 miles; and construct not less than 150 miles of vehicle barriers and all-weather roads in the Tucson Sector running parallel to the international border between the United States and Mexico in areas that are known transit points for illegal cross-border traffic. The Secretary was also required to replace all aged, deteriorating, or damaged primary fencing in the Yuma Sector located proximate to population centers in Yuma, Somerton, and San Luis, Arizona with double- or triple-layered fencing running parallel to the international border between the United States and Mexico; (2) extend the double- or triple-layered fencing for a distance of not less than 2 miles beyond urban areas in the Yuma Sector; and (3) construct not less than 50 miles of vehicle barriers and all-weather roads in the Yuma Sector running parallel to the international border between the United States and Mexico in areas that are known transit points for illegal cross-border traffic.
The Homeland Security Secretary was required to construct not less than 370 miles of triple-layered fencing which may include portions already constructed in San Diego, Tucson and Yuma Sectors and 500 miles of vehicle barriers in other areas along the southwest border that the Secretary determines are areas that are most often used by smugglers and illegal aliens attempting to gain illegal entry into the United States. The Secretary was required to immediately commence construction of the fencing, barriers, and roads and complete such construction not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act. Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary was required to submit a report to the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate and the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives that describes the progress that has been made in constructing the fencing, barriers, and roads.
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