Along U.S.-Mexican border, an erratic patchwork fence
At the border near Naco, Arizona, there are as many kinds of fences as there are ways over them.
After driving 10 miles along the expanded US-Mexican border fence near her farm, Dawn Garner offers her dour assessment: "Anyone can plainly see this wouldn't stop a flea, let alone a migrant or terrorist."Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
A jagged patchwork of metal mesh, corrugated steel, vertical bollards, chest-high railroad rails, and waist-high barbed wire has been cobbled together along the southern border east of Naco by various National Guard units over the past summer. Hard-hatted workers from a general contractor, Sundt Inc., continue to dig ditches and grade terrain across plains of fluorescent-green prairie grass framed by saw-toothed mountains.
"This [fence] is just too easy to cut into, climb over, or go under or around," says Ms. Garner. Twenty to 40 illegal migrant workers cut across her five-acre farm daily, she says.
Unlike in San Luis, Ariz., and San Diego, where double-and- triple metal walls are backed by lighting and cameras, the fencing being built along this part of the US-Mexican border is piecemeal. Such a fence is pointless, say local ranchers.
The border patrol, however, contends that it is cost-effective, and more potent than it seems.
A mishmash of material
Here in Naco, the wall is being built on mostly federally-owned land. So there is little of the outrage over fair compensation and invasion of private property as there is in Texas, or complaints about cutting landowners off from land that falls on the Mexican side of the wall, as in the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation to the west.
Neither has there been as much ecological concern as farther north near San Pedro – though this may change, as the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday it would waive certain environmental and land rules for 470 miles of the border from California to Texas and another 22 miles in Hidalgo County, Tex.
Rather, most local residents seem concerned about building a wall that actually stops illegal immigrants.
"We don't want a Berlin Wall or anything, just something that keeps migrants from flooding our backyards," says Garner, accelerating her bright yellow Jeep down the gravel road that runs alongside the newly-built fencing stretching east from the tiny border crossing at Naco toward New Mexico.
As Garner drives, an eclectic array of fence styles and materials flutter by in the bright sun.
One stretch of the fence is made of a kind of steel, Vietnam-era material – once used as landing mats for helicopters touching down on the jungle floor – held together vertically by steel girders. Another stretch of the fence comprises corrugated steel bars placed one on top of the other to a height of 10 feet, and capped by another three feet of metal mesh.
A third style is built of staggered, cylindrical pillars known as bollards, with just enough of a crack between them to allow small rodents or birds through – but not humans.