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Costly fence on US-Mexico border is effective – only in hurting nature

In addition to sinking $1 billion into the failed "virtual fence," the US government has spent $2.6 billion for 650 miles of solid border. This wall doesn’t deter people – but it does defy the laws that protect the land.

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Last month, the Obama administration finally pulled the plug on the "virtual fence" that was supposed to line the border between the United States and Mexico with cameras and radar towers. After sinking more than $1 billion into the scheme, the Department of Homeland Security determined that it was a complete failure. Mark Borkowski, executive director of the electronic fence program at DHS, summed it up by saying, "It was a great idea, but it didn't work."

The physical border wall has been just as much a failure as its "virtual" cousin, but on the same day that the virtual fence's demise was announced, construction crews were planting 18-foot-tall steel posts for a new stretch of wall alongside the Rio Grande in Brownsville, Texas. And in Congress, longtime wall proponents are expected to renew calls for hundreds of additional miles of border walls, with American taxpayers picking up the multibillion-dollar tab.

Before most of the border walls were built, Randy Hill, then the border patrol chief for Del Rio Sector in Texas, predicted that walls "will slow down illegal crossers by minutes." Not stop anyone, just slow them down by "minutes." Border patrol spokesperson Mike Scioli said: "The border fence is a speed bump in the desert."

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