Secure Fence Act (02:17)
Mexican nationals discuss how to cross the border. In October of 2006, the U.S. decided to build a fence on the Mexican border.
Fence Gaps (02:25)
A Minutemen member shows how immigrants can cross through a hole. Seven hundred miles of fence are planned along the 2,000 mile border. Ranch owners discuss the fence's futility.
No Man's Land (03:33)
The fence has had to be rebuilt in some areas—costing billions of taxpayer dollars. It's constructed north of the border along the Rio Grande due to the river's topography. It also bisects a Texas nature reserve, separating species from food sources.
Environmental Damage (02:45)
U.S. government engineers failed to anticipate weather impacts on the fence, and border towns have suffered damage from flooding. The fence has cost taxpayers over $3 billion so far; hear a list of Homeland Security measures that would have benefited from the money.
U.S.-Mexico Border Fence Background (03:27)
After 9/11, the immigration debate was re-framed as a national security issue. The Minutemen, a civilian militia, started a movement to build a barrier. In 2006, media coverage pressured Congress to pass legislation to stop terrorism, narcotics, and illegal immigration.
Arizona Minutemen (02:38)
Members of a civilian militia believe terrorists are infiltrating the U.S. via the Mexican border. A patrol prepares to search for illegal immigrants. No person committing a terrorist act since 1993 has entered the U.S. from Mexico.
Drug Smuggling (04:00)
View news reports of cartel violence and trafficking. A U.S. Border Patrol agent shows a fortified portion of the fence in San Diego; people still cross with homemade ladders or truck ramps. It has not decreased the number of drugs entering the country.
Illegal Immigration (02:38)
A "coyote" says the fence has not stopped him from bringing people across the border. Smuggling methods include using hidden vehicle compartments and digging tunnels.
Nation of Immigrants (03:31)
The fence has not reduced the number of people entering the U.S. illegally. More people have crossed from Altar, Sonora than arrived at Ellis Island. A man was deported from the U.S. and plans to return.
Tracking Illegal Immigrants (02:07)
Minutemen follow people that have crossed from Mexico into Arizona, finding clothing abandoned at a rest site. The fence forces them farther into the desert—a dangerous environment.
Deadly Journey (01:54)
The fence has forced illegal immigrants farther into the desert, where they face dangerous conditions. Minutemen recover 150 bodies annually. The average number of migrant deaths has doubled since 1995.
New Enemies (01:09)
A Vietnam War vet sees irony in the U.S.-Mexican border fence, after the Berlin Wall. In 2010 the Department of Homeland Security froze project funding, but taxpayers will pay $49 billion in maintenance costs over the next 25 years. An estimated 12,500 migrants will cross during that time.
Credits: The Fence (02:27)
Credits: The Fence
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