First there was the mandated double fence with floodlights and roadway. Post Hutchison ammendment, Chertoff started signing off on “discrete” portions of single-line fencing. Now we hear the Czar scaling back again…
There are moments of irrepressible assurance. Yeah, confidence is against my nature — maybe against the nature of all inkscratchers — so when we feel it, it means something to agitated explainers like us. Explaining what, to who(m), and from what direction? That is, did we get it right? Used to writing the bad news and seeing Big Money win over and again against community interests.
Then there are unexpected encounters, fortuitous turns, totem appearances, and blasts of light from a Mexican sunset. That’s where the drive gets interesting. (You folks in Quemado and Normandy are blessed, lights like this each night.)
As our first installment of Muro del Odio preps for rollout, I’m rolling out of Del Rio and into Eagle Pass when a Red-tailed hawk sweeps in front of my car, chugs with several breathtaking sweeps before cutting against the wind and veering off into the trees. This isn’t my first unexpected encounter as I’ve drifted from Sierra Blanca downriver to Del Rio, but it upped the mood of the drive a few notches.
She reminds me no journey is pointless.
Behind me a public meeting has been called in El Paso regarding a new proposal for:
* 56.7 miles of border fence, mainly along the outer toe of the USIBWC
Rio Grande levee, extending from 0.9 miles west of Ascarate Park to 2.8
miles east of the Fort Hancock Port of Entry. The fence would be 15-18
feet tall above ground and extend 3-6 feet below ground.
* 21 miles of lighting along the river from the old Riverside Dam site
to 1 mile east of the Fabens Port of Entry.
* 2 miles of road upgrades.
* 8 bridges.
Here’s what it looks like:
Meanwhile, the No Border Wall Walk continues in the Valley today.
Chertoff has backpeddled against mounting financial and political resistance, saying now that virtual fencing could substitute for The Wall.
From a news conference with Chertoff and U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Friday:
Question: In last night’s Democratic presidential debate, Senators Clinton and Obama criticized the border fence saying it had been built without proper consultation and they suggested that technological advances could perhaps substitute for a physical barrier. My question to you is, is it possible to do that with the fence that’s now planned through 2008; and secondly what direction do you see the Project 28 advances taking as the barrier spans?
Secretary Chertoff: Well, first, as those of you who have covered me know I don’t do debate commentary. But I will tell you in general what our approach on the border is, which has been consistent since we started this well over a year and a half ago. We use the right mix depending on what the particular terrain is. There are some areas where physical fencing makes a lot of sense, particularly in areas where the distance from the border to a transportation hub, what we call the vanishing point, is a very short distance. And there, fencing is important both in order to make it harder to get across that distance and also to try to be a protective measure for the border patrol.
But there are other areas where high technical or even medium-technical approaches work better. And we’re happy to use those. So we’re going to be guided by the operational requirements and strategies of the Border Patrol in terms of figuring out what the right mix is.
And so the song is shifting. Today, in Eagle Pass, maybe we will start to see what they could mean. The sound of wings. The sound of bad policy slipping?