Homeland Security plans to finish a job begun in 1996: building a 14-mile-long wall, 10 to 15 feet high and three layers deep, stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the San Ysidro Mountains. So far, construction on the remaining three and a half miles was held up by environmentalists. U.S. officials claim that the triple fence is essential for protecting national security. According to environmentalists, 2,500 acres of federally protected wetlands near the border could be destroyed.
The wall will devastate the Tijuana Estuary, home to some of the rarest plants, birds and coastal land in the country. Besides, immigration experts and human rights advocates argue that the real issue is flawed immigration policy, not terrorism. History has shown that walls don’t work; they just push migrants into more dangerous crossing areas where they are more likely to die.
Data compiled by the Mexican Migration Project shows that in 1988 about 70 percent of crossings occurred either at Tijuana-San Diego, or in Texas at Juarez-El Paso, while 29% crossed in more remote border regions. After the construction of walls, that 29% had grown to 64%. Undocumented migrants simply started going around the more fortified sectors.
That has made border crossings more deadly. The chance of dying while crossing is triple what it was a decade ago. The inland landscape east of San Diego is harsh, outside temperatures range from over 100 degrees to well below zero, and there is no water. This year, 472 have died as of Sept. 30 and 26,000 have been rescued.