US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Arizona tries to pump life back into the border fence

Father Tom Joyce CMF | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

There are always those who would enjoy a tilt at a wind mill."

Last year the Government Accountability Office released a study of the “virtual fence” Boeing was to build, claiming it wouldn’t work and would be too costly. So the federal government, for all practical purposes, gave up on the fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, preferring instead to beef up border patrol and use drones to prevent unauthorized entries. The strategy (from the Obama administration) has actually led to an increase in deportations, and the number of apprehensions at the border has drastically declined, but most experts attributed to less unauthorized attempts at entry because of the bad economy.

That doesn't satisfy Arizona legislators, who thought the fence already in place is kind of puny. They're attempting to finish the job—using private donations. In Senate Bill 1406, they set up a commission to collect money to be raised through a new fundraising website. Individuals, corporations, charities, and organizations are welcome to contribute, with the funds going into escrow until enough is collected to begin work. The website began collecting last week.

The website deplores the conditions on the border and stresses the urgency to finish the fence to meet “an paralleled invasion of drug cartels, violent gangs, an estimated 29 million illegal aliens, and even terrorists.”

However, the website is a bit loose with its facts and too ambitious in justifying the need to finish the fence. It claims, for example, that 35,000 deaths and murders have occurred along the U.S.-Mexico border since 2006, but that, of course, counts those fallen in the drug wars of Northern Mexico as well as those between Nogales and Yuma. The border has always had its share of dangers, but it irritates border county sheriffs that the legislators depict their jurisdictions as unsafe and lawless.

The initial response for private funds seems to have been good—already 2,000 donors and more than $100,000 pledged. But then, like Don Quixote, there are always those who would enjoy a tilt at a wind mill.