Who Wants a Border Fence?


Not people on the American side of the border.

Mexican shoppers are a major source of money for Texas border towns. Between 1978 and 2001, Mexican shoppers made 26 percent of all retail purchases in Brownsville, 35 percent in McAllen and 51 percent in Laredo, according to economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Local officials said more recent estimates are higher.

"The fence is a knee-jerk reaction by Congress. No one really studied the economic impacts, the environmental impacts," said Eddie Aldrete, senior vice president for the Laredo-based IBC Bank.

To Mike Allen, a former Catholic priest who helped the poor in Texas' Hidalgo County, then became a leading economic booster for the border region, the fence is a manifestation of politics at its ugliest.

Not people on the Mexican side of the border.

"The Mexican government strongly opposes the building of walls in the border area between Mexico and the United States," President Vicente Fox's spokesman Ruben Aguilar told reporters.

"This decision hurts bilateral relations, goes against the spirit of cooperation needed to guarantee security on the common border, creates a climate of tension in border communities," he said.

Aguilar said Mexico would send a diplomatic note to Washington on Monday urging Bush to veto the bill, which requires the president's signature to become law.

Actually, it's people who don't share a border with Mexico.

When respondents were asked if they favored building a wall along the southern border of the United States to stop illegal immigration, 85 percent said yes; 8 percent said no; and 7 percent were undecided.

Mexican officials have their own economic reasons for opposing a border wall. But it's not surprising the strong support for an ugly wall plunked into the middle of a desert rises the further one gets from said ugly wall.