Senior Border Patrol officials are supporting President Trump’s call for more miles of border barrier, pushing back against congressional Democrats who say additional fencing is unnecessary, NPR reports. During a ride-along with the Border Patrol in its San Diego sector, agents said fences are a deterrent. Chief Patrol Agent Rodney Scott, who has worked in the San Diego sector since 1992, said agents could not make a “measurable impact” on preventing border crossings of undocumented immigrants until barriers were installed. “That gave us the upper hand (and) we started to get control.” Forty-six of the 60 miles of border in the San Diego sector are protected by some type of barrier.
Even though the traffic is at relatively low levels, the San Diego sector is seeking five miles of additional fencing in the mountainous region to stop the illegal movement of humans and drugs. “Every night people come through this canyon,” said Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Michael Scappechio. “If we put in a border barrier, we can utilize the [agent] manpower elsewhere.” He said a steel fence is a smarter border defense than having agents in ATVs or on foot chasing people crossing illegally through remote and rocky ravines. The U.S. is spending $10.5 million a mile to replace 14 miles of old fencing with 18-foot-tall, state-of-the-art, steel bollard barrier between San Diego County and Tijuana. Trump wants an additional $5.7 billion for 234 miles of new steel slat fencing in sections along the entire U.S.-Mexico boundary. That works out to $24.4 million a mile. A Customs and Border Protection official said the added expense comes from building access roads, installing sensors and acquiring private land, which accounts for most of the borderland in Texas.