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Wall or Not
Julie Maxey-Allison | 10th Street

DeL Mar Fences.
Photo Julie Maxey-Allison.
Click to enlarge.

Walls and fences, big, little, long, real or theoretical, are part of our global landscape.
Here and now the talk is about whether the idea that “good fences” indeed make “good neighbors” as Robert Frost’s poem suggested, applied to the border wall President Trump has campaigned for to separate us from our Mexican neighbor a few miles to our south. We already have an 18’ high slatted barrier wall, aka the Tortilla Wall, built in the 1990s at Playas de Tijuana that runs into the sea splitting Tijuana from Imperial Beach. The question is: what more?

Examples exist. Further east in San Diego borderlands, eight prototypes of various materials, heights and designs, await perusal by President Trump and his verdict on which will be his best “big, beautiful wall.” To qualify, the models, which cost the government up to $500,000 each, had to be 30’ tall, sunk 6’ into the ground, unscalable, and “aesthetically pleasing” when seen from the U.S. side.
Locally, thoughts on the wall vary from skeptics who don’t imagine that it will ever get built to those debating issues as if our fence hasn’t been here for decades: jobs, who will build it, what good will it do with the options of tunneling under, catapulting over, or taking the ocean route. As to the impact on trade, many in the business communities on both sides of the border look at it as an obstacle to get around.

DeL Mar Fences.
Photo Julie Maxey-Allison.
Click to enlarge.

In 2006, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) introduced a proposal to build many miles of a barrier wall. The plan won bipartisan support. President Bush signed the Secure Fence Act. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) got busy and built 654 miles of fence at a cost of $2.4 billion. President Obama oversaw the fence’s construction. President Trump wants 1,300 additional miles (that would also replace 14 miles of our wall in San Diego) and has asked Congress for $18 billion (or $1.8 billion for 10 years) since it appears that Mexico is not going to contribute. Other estimates project the cost to be much higher.

Many complexities lurk. In addition to the obtaining the funding, there are tangled webs of lawsuits and more to come in the future. Among the problems: landowner resistence to eminent domain seizures, challenges by environmental groups and tribes to waivers of environmental and cultural protection laws, and the division of tribal lands. Each is complicated.




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