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Guardian: S.D. Border Fence Construction Resumes

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Bulldozers are rolling again on the U.S.-Mexico border, moving hundreds of tons of dirt to make way for a 16-foot steel fence in an area that once was the most popular crossing for illegal immigrants.

But before the construction resumed recently, the 14-mile project in San Diego was stalled for years by legal challenges from environmentalists, budget problems and difficulties buying land. Those delays are now raising doubts about a government plan to extend fencing to 370 miles of the Mexican border.

The Bush administration, under pressure to tighten border security, wants all 370 miles done by the end of next year.

``If past experience is any guide, it will cost a lot more than anyone expected and take a lot longer than anyone is talking about right now,'' said David Shirk, director of the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute, which studies border issues.

The Homeland Security Department has yet to say where it will build fences in California, Arizona and New Mexico. And the only proposal made public so far - for Texas - drew immediate criticism and is being reworked. Opponents worried it would limit access to the Rio Grande, damage the environment and infuriate Mexicans who cross the border to shop and visit.

The 1,952-mile border stretches over sensitive terrain, including two national wildlife refuges in Arizona. And negotiations for land owned by scores of ranchers and Indian tribes may be challenging.


by lychee on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:34:50 AM EST
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