Build a Fence, Stop Crime

In the fight over immigration reform, both sides claim to support the need for greater border enforcement, including the constructions of at least some new fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. The House bill called for 700 miles of double fencing, the Senate bill for 350.

Many conservatives, led by immigration hawks such as Representatives Duncan Hunter (R.-Calif.), James Sensenbrenner (R.-Wis.), Tom Tancredo (R.-Colo.), and John Hostettler (R.-Ind.), are rightfully advocating for building the full 700 miles of fence approved by the House and strict worksite enforcement of the immigration laws before further reforms are considered.

One of the benefits of a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border that supporters have long touted is that it can reduce the crime that comes with illegal immigration.

The proponents have been proved right.

In a Capitol Hill hearing yesterday, reported by the Washington Times and ignored by the Washington Post and New York Times, T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, confirmed that “building fences along high-traffic areas of the U.S. border with Mexico dramatically reduces crime.”

Bonner said “drug smuggling was rampant” just South of San Diego and “anarchy reigned, and there was no semblance of control over that section of the border” before serious fencing was built in that sector. After the fence was built, the crime rate fell markedly, and there was tapering of drug seizures.

Congress can and should pass the House’s border-enforcement bill this year, and immediately begin building a fence along our Southern border. But they shouldn’t stop at the 700 miles approved by the House bill. They should build fence all the way from Brownsville, Tex., to San Ysidro, Calif., leaving open only those spaces where the terrain makes fencing unfeasible.