"Homeland Security" vs. Sensitive Habitats

California's Coastal Commission is trying to stymie Department of Homeland Security plans to build fortifications along the U.S/Mexico border near the California coast. An excerpt from the San Diego Union-Tribune account:

The plans call for two additional fences running parallel to the 11-year-old corrugated steel barrier along the border. A patrol road and series of lights run between the first and second fences, and a maintenance road would run between the second and third set of fences.

Much of the environmental concerns stem from the Border Patrol's plans to fill a deep, half-mile long canyon known as "Smuggler's Gulch," with 2.1 million cubic yards of dirt, enough to fill 300,000 dump trucks.

The Coastal Commission said filling the canyon would erode soil near a federally protected estuary that is a refuge for threatened and endangered birds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also opposed filling in Smuggler's Gulch.

The Border Patrol said proposed alternatives, such as switchback roads through the gulch, would leave gaps in enforcement. The agency's apprehensions fell to 16,000 last year, a decline of 88 percent since the federal government launched a crackdown in 1994, erecting fences, adding patrols and installing lights and motion sensors.

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  • ||

    Fortifications? Two fences and dirt? It's a regular Maginot Line. And certain to be just as effective.

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    Does the wall extend into the sea? How do people not swim around it? Do they have trained "shark guards?" :)

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    I thought the last part of the post was most telling: "The agency's apprehensions fell to 16,000 last year, a decline of 88 percent since the federal government launched a crackdown in 1994, erecting fences, adding patrols and installing lights and motion sensors."

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    The number of apprehensions is meaningless. If a crackdown is deterring people from trying to cross then of course there could be fewer apprehensions. On the other hand, if a crackdown is failing, there could also be fewer apprehensions.

    Likewise, a failing crackdown could mean more apprehensions if the number of people trying to cross is increasing anyway, along with the number actually getting through. Or, a successful crackdown could mean more apprehensions if it means they were caught in the act.

    The only meaningful number is how many are getting through. And that number is almost by definition unknowable. Illegal immigrants are the ones that got past the government, and they won't be likely to answer truthfully if asked about their immigration status. (The reason they get jobs is that a lot of employers either don't ask, or don't verify the answers that they get.)

    You can draw whatever political conclusions you want from this. People will undoubtedly say that this data supports whatever side they're on. But as a matter of data, the number of apprehensions is meaningless without any knowledge of how many get through, and the later number is probably unobtainable.

  • Eric||

    One probable reason for the decrease in apprehensions is that the crackdown pushed the migrant entry points further west, as this article points out.

    So the crackdown may indeed have worked in that sector, but probably did nothing to stem the overall tide of illegal immigration.

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    SAN DIEGO, California (AP) -- California regulators denied a Department of Homeland Security request to fortify the westernmost stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border, setting the stage for a possible legal battle between the state and the Bush administration.


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    thoreau: There seems to be enough people to cook my food and keep my businesses clean. Precious few are US citizens or have legal status. I'd say the fence isn't working.

    But the big physical object makes it look like we're "doing something".

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    Build a fortress to prevent Mexicans from entering the country and living here peacefully, and there's no protest. Distrupt the homes of a few birds, and California takes Bush to court. It's good the know who the politicians in California really care about.

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    Re:Jean Bart's post of 3:21 p.m. Does this mean that illegals have now "jumped the shark"?

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    This project would pump some federal money into
    California via payrolls and construction contracts.
    IF the country wants to keep its borders,
    why not fine anyone employing illegals $10K each,
    and let the illegals collect, too, if they turn their boss in?
    As is, it is like we want them here, but not to come here.
    Do we want another 100million to come the next five years?
    How many is too many illegals?

  • Mr. Jupiter||

    Its impossible to stop the mexican/us border from doing whats its done for years and years.


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