President Bush signed a bill into law this morning that calls for construction of a fence along heavily-traveled parts of the U.S. border with Mexico.
Congressman Steve King, a Republican from western Iowa, is celebrating. “I’m really pleased that the president has signed the Secure Fence Act,” King says. “That’s an issue that I’ve been working on. I first raised that issue here in Des Moines on August 22, 2005, so we’re about 14 months down the road…That’s fairly quick by legislative standards.”
King went so far as to build a scale model of the fence he envisioned along the border, complete with an electrified wire along the top — similar to those used to farmers to corral livestock. “The price tag to overall build just the fence and the wall is in the area of $2 billion. The concrete wall that I’ve designed and that I’ve testified on and demonstrated before the Homeland Security Committee…costs about $1.3 million a mile,” King says. “But we’re spending $8 billion on our southern border to pay the border patrol, so roughly a fourth of an annual budget will build this entire barrier.”
King says the fence will help not only stop the flow of illegal immigrants, but the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S. “It’s the American people who deserve the credit,” King says. “Yes, I raised the issue…but the American people demand that we seal our border…as a matter of stopping the bleeding at our southern border.”
The fence will stretch along 700 miles of the roughly two-thousand southern border. King says that means the fence will be built in “high-traffic” areas. King predicts new roads will be built to try to skirt around the ends of the fence. “So I think we’ll have to extend it,” King says.
President Bush boarded Air Force One shortly after signing the bill, headed for Des Moines where he will speak early this afternoon at a fundraiser for Republican congressional candidate Jeff Lamberti. King plans to attend the event, too.