Tuesday, August 26, 2008

That Dammed Border Fence

From the moment Congress first proposed putting a wall along the Rio Grande on Texas' southern border to reduce illegal immigration, I thought it was not just a bad idea but an insane one. As far as I can tell, when it's finished the United States will be the first nation state in the history of the planet to wall off a major river and leave the river on the other side!

Anyone who's spent time along the border knows that limiting river access - whether for crops, livestock or recreation - will cause the locals big problems. Plus, by building the fence in a river basin, the project almost ensures problems with erosion, runoff and flooding, not to mention disrupting the environment.

Local officials and landowners in the Rio Grande Valley fought construction of the wall, but have not succeeded in stopping it. Elsewhere, we can already see what's in store along the Rio Grande. Via one of my favorite bloggers, Bryan Finoki at Subtopia: A Field Guide to Military Urbanism, I saw this report that:
A 5.2-mile border fence recently constructed along Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument's southern border in southwestern Arizona became a dam in a recent flash flood, monument officials say.
Writes Bryan:
Apparently, the new $21.3 million, 5.2-mile fence along the monument's southern border, basically turned into a dam during the storms on July 12th. The wire-mesh construction, meant to prevent crossers and vehicles but allow water to pass through, halted the natural flow of floodwater along the border when, according to a National Park Services report (pdf), “Debris piled up against the fence, including in drainage gates designed to prevent flooding, and the 6-foot deep fence foundation stopped subsurface water flow.” So, instead of flowing north to south, as I understand it naturally should, the floodwater carried laterally through the port of entry pooling 2 to 7 feet high and causing tons of damage to the ecology and nearby businesses.

What’s a crime is that none of this came as a surprise to anyone. The DHS had been warned of this sort of potential before they chose to ignore the severity of that discussion, and decided to build a fence regardless, even though they claimed the design would not hamper this flow in any significant way. You can read the full report here (pdf) outlaying the ecological and infrastructural damage that was caused by the border fence, and what can be expected in the future.
That was as predictable as the sunrise. And what will be any different, exactly, about Texas' fence? If the feds can't contain runoff on a flat plain, how in the world do they expect the fence to interact with the environment along an actual, large river in the event of a flash flood? Where will this fence divert runoff otherwise headed for the river? There's no telling, but it's a safe bet we won't find out until the fence is built, the first gullywasher hits, and 2-7 feet of floodwaters back up into some Texas border town as happened in Arizona.

See the full post including an excellent batch of links at the end from Subtopia.


Anonymous said...

It should be noted that in many cases along the border a significant rain will result in flooding whether there is a fence there or not. I would bet under the same weather conditions without a fence the area would be flooded.

Anonymous said...

maybe the fence will wash away?

Windypundit said...

God, the stupidity hurts!

Anonymous said...

Ignorance can be fixed but stupidity is forever.

Our immigration policy reminds me of a skit where Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans tried to take a board through a door. My sons thought the skit was hilarious and I guess it was but when it is public policy it is hard to laugh.

Anonymous said...

If the USA had spent a trillion dollars fixing up Mexico for the last 7 years instead of blowing up Iraq then the damned place would be so nice no mexicans would even want to come here and they'd be making a fense to keep us out.


Damn we are dumb!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and $1,000,000,000,000 goes a lot farther in Mexico than it does in Iraq. We gotta pay truck drivers $100K per year over there cause they are risking death just to haul a load.

Just think of all the houses, roads, stores and other stuff thats been built in Texas in the last decade... a lot of that stuff was built by hard-working Mexicans for cheap so it is the opposite of the Iraq.... in Mexico you pay less for MORE!

Dale said...

The fence we ought to be building is along the border with Guatamala. Let's just annex Mexico and Canada and get it over with. That is the obvious direction we are heading in as a country anyway. The United States of North America.

Anonymous said...

I agree Dale.

Texmex is my favorite food.

Anonymous said...

If we annex them, then who will we have to bitch about though?

We won;t be able to say "those pansey Canadians" anymore.. and sheesh, can you see 35 during rush hour.. 10,000 burros trying to merge in Hillsboro would create quite a snarl..

Anonymous said...

We can't annex Canada, because France will surrender. And we need them to help fight the Moslems.

Anonymous said...

I note on the news flooding going on in other parts of Arizona that don't have a fence to blame it on.

Anonymous said...

Maybe, Mexico should spend a trillion dollars of their own money fixing up Mexico? It's not like Mexico doesn't have natural resources and workers. What? The problem is that their government is crooked? So, we should give a trillion dollars to Mexico so it can go into the crooks pockets? Smart.

Anonymous said...

So Grits, is this your way to press your point that we should have open immigration from Mexico and allow everyone who can get across the river "come on down?"


Gritsforbreakfast said...

Not at all, Plato. The fence idea is stupid in it's own right, separate and apart from my positions on immigration policy.

Far and away most illegal immigration happens at the legal checkpoints, either through coyotes bribing guards or about 50% of illegal migrants actually come in legally and overstay their visa. The reason the wall is a joke and is not worth any of the (predictable, predicted, but) unintended consequences is that it fails to focus preventive resources where the problem is actually occurring.

Not only that, to the extent illegal immigration happens between the checkpoints, a wall still doesn't work. Show me a 10 foot wall and I'll show you an 11 foot ladder.

Anonymous said...

So, we should give a trillion dollars to Mexico so it can go into the crooks pockets?

We could've paid Haliburton to manage the project and then we'd only have to worry they'd lose a couple billion to corruption.

Still the benefits to the US taxpayer would dwarf whatever upside we get from the Iraq disaster. Remember that oil prices started this climb when we started a war in the Persian gulf so all that extra money spent by taxpayers on gasoline is basically a warmonger tax hike.

Anonymous said...

Some folks oppose anything (I mean anything) that would slow the flood of people entering the country illegally. They dislike most things about the American culture and want it replaced. Instead of looking at what it is being replaced with, they see only their fantasy version. One day they complain about a fence (there basically is no fence), the next week they complain about enforcement (and there basically is no enforcement of the laws on the books). Everyone knows this except those on a "missison." What is that mission? Could it be USA gang land? Just look at our cities. Isn't that what is happening? It can't happen fast enough for some people.