The Washington Post takes an interesting look at criticisms surrounding Congress’s recently approved plan to add 700 miles of fencing to the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

Although it’s still unclear whether that construction will actually occur, critics are taking aim at the proposal, saying it fails to consider the diverse geography of the 2,000-mile border. They also say it ignores technological advances that may be more effective than the fence and that the project’s estimated $2 billion price tag and two-year timeline are unrealistic, the Post reports.

Which brings us to San Diego’s infamous 14-mile section of border fencing.

The newspaper finds that “San Diego has become a symbol for the efficacy of fences, but a closer look at the experience of that seaside city also illustrates the potential pitfalls.”

With as many as 200,000 illegal entrants a year being apprehended in the San Diego sector in the mid-1990s, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-El Cajon, secured funding to build a fence and add thousands more Border Patrol agents to the area. The number of illegal entries declined, the Post reported.

But today, after years of legal battles over the impact of the fence on environmentally sensitive areas, the fence remains unfinished and has racked up huge cost overruns – from $14 million initially, now up to $74 million.

Additionally, the Post reports that it’s not clear the fence has been effective:

The fence in San Diego forced illegal traffic into the deserts to the east, leading thousands of migrants to their death. In response, the Border Patrol shifted thousands of agents to Arizona to deal with the flow. But many of those agents came from the San Diego and El Centro sectors. So once again, the number of crossers in San Diego and El Centro is increasing even though the two sectors are the most heavily fenced in the nation.

“Tucson now has 2,600 agents. San Diego has lost 1,000 agents. Guess where the traffic is going? Back to San Diego,” said T.J. Bonner, the president of the National Border Patrol Council, the main union for Border Patrol agents. “San Diego is the most heavily fortified border in the entire country, and yet it’s not stopping people from coming across.”


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