President George W. Bush signed legislation in 2006 to authorize the construction of 700 miles of border fence between the United States and Mexico.
House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) called it “a major victory in Republicans’ efforts to make a real difference in securing our borders.”
The fence bill is a far cry from the comprehensive measure that cleared the Senate, which would have paired tough border security provisions with new paths to lawful work and citizenship for foreign workers and the nation’s illegal immigrants. It is a small piece of the more modest House bill that included a fence and measures to crack down on the hiring of undocumented workers.
Democrats dismissed the legislation as pointless. Only a fraction of the billions needed to finance the fence has been appropriated, and much of the construction might not be feasible. In swaths of Arizona, the fence would have to climb steep, desert crags and plunge into deep ravines.
The idea isn’t new, and neither is the opposition.