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President Bush today signed the Secure Fence Act of 2006, authorizing the construction of 700 miles of new double-layered fencing along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Forty-four miles of San Diego County’s 66-mile border with Mexico currently have some type of fencing. The legislation calls for the addition of roughly 20 miles of double-layered fencing near Tecate. Four other portions would be built along the border; the largest would stretch 361 miles from Calexico to Douglas, Ariz.

While the legislation is widely viewed as red meat for Republican representatives in an election year, it’s been criticized for being weaker than advertised.

The new fencing is estimated to cost $6 billion but Congress only appropriated $1.2 billion in funding, the Washington Post reported.

Additionally, in a series of last minute compromises, Congress gave state and local officials say over where any new fencing is built. Congress also gave the Department of Homeland Security responsibility for building the fence. The agency and the Bush administration have advocated building only 350 miles of new fencing.

DANIEL STRUMPF

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