Border-City Mayors Say Fence Now Is in Doubt

AP, Jan. 18, 2007

Mayors of Texas border towns who met with Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff on Wednesday said they are confident a 850-mile fence will not be built on the U.S.-Mexican border.

Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas said it is “highly unlikely” that the fence, as authorized in a law signed by President Bush, would be funded.

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Seven mayors and three Texas businessmen met with Chertoff at the office of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas. She voted for the fence but wants it adjusted to address local concerns.

Chertoff said after the meeting that there are parts of the border where a fence will work and his agency wants to be “expeditious” in building it. But he said that on some parts of the border a mix of technology will be needed.

“In all cases, we need more boots on the ground,” Chertoff said.

Bush signed the law last year and the Republican-controlled Congress provided money to start work on the fence. But Republicans worry that now they have lost their majority on Capitol Hill, they never will see the fence built. Democrats in charge today generally oppose the fence.

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Though the total fencing was believed to be about 700 miles, congressional researchers say it is closer to about 850 miles.

A separate law on Homeland Security Department spending provided $1.2 billion for the fencing. That law also withholds $950 million of the sum until the House and Senate appropriations committees approve the department’s plan for spending the money.

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