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Border Fence: An Environmental Disaster on Top of a $49 Billion Boondoggle

The 700-mile-long fence that a bunch of U.S. congressmen want to build along border with Mexico could be one of the biggest boondoggles in our history. New estimates by the Congressional Research Service put the actual cost at $49 billion.

We were first told that it would cost $3 million a mile, or $2.1 billion, already an outrageous waste of money. Well, it turns out that the original estimate didn't include the cost of buying up private lands along the border where it would be built, or the cost of maintaining it for 25 years, or the additional cost that could be incurred if private contractors build it. Aside from this, we all know how often these mega-projects have cost overruns. It turns out that a 14-mile stretch already being built near San Diego is already costing $9 million a mile.

The environmental impacts of the proposed fence are as dreadful as this shamelss the waste of money. The fence will do a huge amount off damage to habitat and block the natural migrations of many animals.

But, you might ask, surely such a structure would be subject to strict environmental standards, just like any major building project in our country? The answer is a resounding NO, thanks to the fact that Congress passed a law allows for a waiver of environmental protections in matters related to Homeland Security. Yes, it's the law: when it comes to decisions made by Homeland Security, the government does not have to follow its own rules. The Sierra Club and the Audubon Society learned this when they sued to stop just 3.5 miles of the barrier from being built near San Diego because of its serious threat to species in the region and possible damage to the Tijuana River estuary. (Since it was too difficult to construct a fence on this stretch, the "fence" would be created by moving massive amounts of earth to form a geographical obstacle) U.S. district court judge, Larry Burns ruled against the environmental groups, citing the exemption handed to Homeland Security by Congress.

So now, the economic and environmental cost should be made loud and clear--on top of the other compelling arguments against this stupefyingly ridiculous project: namely that it is racist and an insult to Mexico; that many individual citizens and businesses on the U.S. side of the border don't want it; that it won't work because there are so many other ways to enter the country. Any terrorist with brains enough to do serious damage can sneak in at thousands of other points, or like most of the terrorists who highjacked the planes in the 9/11 mass murders, get in legally with visas.

Of course, since everybody knows that the main purpose of the fence is to keep illegal immigrants out, one wonders why Homeland Security should even have a say in the matter. One also wonders many other projects will bulldozers drive through loopholes in environmental laws in the name Homeland Security? Almost anything, from a freeway through a wildlife refuge to a dam on a river do a Wal Mart parking lot can be spun into some sort of Homeland Security issue. Don't you laugh here: Parking lots should be more spacious so that customers can get the hell out quick in the event of a bomb threat.

But really, if we're going to spend $49 billion to keep Mexicans out, why not just buy Mexicans out. We could give each illegal $10,000 on the condition that he or she stays home, and pay off 5 MILLION people. Imagine too, what a shot in the arm that would be for the Mexican economy, which would automatically slow immigration, it being obvious that a major reason Mexicans migrate is their woebegotten economy.

Or maybe we should spend the money, and build the fence in a big circle in one of the most desolate parts of Texas, and pen in all the crooked right-wing politicians and civilian warmongers, give them all the weapons and military toys they want, and let them play war to their heart's content. This is such a viable proposal that I already have a name: Operation Sandbox.

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